English Fairy Tales
Joseph Jacobs (coll. & ed.)
Part 4 out of 4
_Source_.--From a Scotch tale, "Nicht Nought Nothing," collected
by Mr. Andrew Lang in Morayshire, published by him first in _Revue
Celtique_, t. iii; then in his _Custom and Myth_, p. 89; and
again in _Folk-Lore_, Sept. 1890. I have changed the name so as
to retain the _equivoque_ of the giant's reply to the King. I
have also inserted the incidents of the flight, the usual ones in
tales of this type, and expanded the conclusion, which is very
curtailed and confused in the original. The usual ending of tales of
this class contains the "sale of bed" incident, for which see Child,
_Parallels_.--Mr. Lang, in the essay "A Far-travelled Tale" in
which he gives the story, mentions several variants of it, including
the classical myth of Jason and Medea. A fuller study in Cosquin,
_l.c._, ii. 12-28. For the finger ladder, see Koehler, in _Orient and
Occident_, ii. III.
VIII. JACK HANNAFORD.
_Source_.--Henderson's _Folk-Lore of Northern Counties_
(first edition), p. 319. Communicated by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould.
_Parallels_.--"Pilgrims from Paradise" are enumerated in
Clouston's _Book of Noodles_, pp. 205, 214-8. See also Cosquin,
_l.c._, i. 239.
_Source_.--From the ballad of the "Twa Sisters o' Binnorie." I
have used the longer version in Roberts's _Legendary Ballads_,
with one or two touches from Mr. Allingham's shorter and more powerful
variant in _The Ballad Book_. A tale is the better for length, a
ballad for its curtness.
_Parallels_.--The story is clearly that of Grimm's "Singing Bone"
(No. 28), where one brother slays the other and buries him under a
bush. Years after a shepherd passing by finds a bone under the bush,
and, blowing through this, hears the bone denounce the murderer. For
numerous variants in Ballads and Folk Tales, see Prof. Child's
_English and Scotch Ballads_ (ed. 1886), i. 125, 493; iii. 499.
X. MOUSE AND MOUSER.
_Source_.--From memory by Mrs. E. Burne-Jones.
_Parallels_.--A fragment is given in Halliwell, 43; Chambers's
_Popular Rhymes_ has a Scotch version, "The Cattie sits in the
Kilnring spinning" (p. 53). The surprise at the end, similar to that
in Perrault's "Red Riding Hood," is a frequent device in English folk
tales. (_Cf. infra_, Nos. xii., xxiv., xxix., xxxiii., xli.)
XI. CAP O' RUSHES.
_Source_.--Discovered by Mr. E. Clodd, in "Suffolk Notes and
Queries" of the _Ipswich Journal_, published by Mr. Lang in
_Longinan's Magazine_, vol. xiii, also in _Folk-Lore_, Sept.
_Parallels_.--The beginning recalls "King Lear." For "loving like
salt," see the parallels collected by Cosquin, i. 288. The whole story
is a version of the numerous class of Cinderella stories, the
particular variety being the Catskin sub-species analogous to
Perrault's _Peau d'Ane_. "Catskin" was told by Mr. Burchell to
the young Primroses in "The Vicar of Wakefield,'" and has been
elaborately studied by the late H. C. Coote, in _Folk-Lore
Record_, iii. 1-25. It is only now extant in ballad form, of which
"Cap o' Rushes" may be regarded as a prose version.
XIII. JACK AND THE BEANSTALK.
_Source_.--I tell this as it was told me in Australia, somewhere
about the year 1860.
_Parallels_.--There is a chap-book version which is very poor; it
is given by Mr. E. S. Hartland, _English Folk and Fairy Tales_
(Camelot Series), p. 35, _seq._ In this, when Jack arrives at the
top of the Beanstalk, he is met by a fairy, who gravely informs him
that the ogre had stolen all his possessions from Jack's father. The
object of this was to prevent the tale becoming an encouragement to
theft! I have had greater confidence in my young friends, and have
deleted the fairy who did not exist in the tale as told to me. For the
Beanstalk elsewhere, see Ralston, _Russian Folk Tales_, 293-8.
Cosquin has some remarks on magical ascents (i. 14).
XIV. THREE LITTLE PIGS.
_Source_.--Halliwell, p. 16.
_Parallels_.--The only known parallels are one from Venice,
Bernoni, _Trad. Pop._, punt. iii. p. 65, given in Crane, _Italian Popular
Tales_, p. 267, "The Three Goslings;" and a negro tale in _Lippincott's
Magazine_, December, 1877, p. 753 ("Tiny Pig").
_Remarks_.--As little pigs do not have hair on their chinny chin-
chins, I suspect that they were originally kids, who have. This would
bring the tale close to the Grimms' "Wolf and Seven Little Kids," (No.
5). In Steel and Temple's "Lambikin" (_Wide-awake Stories_, p.
71), the Lambikin gets inside a Drumikin, and so nearly escapes the
XV. MASTER AND PUPIL
_Source_.--Henderson, _Folk-Lore of Northern Counties_,
first edition, p. 343, communicated by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould. The
rhymes on the open book have been supplied by Mr. Batten, in whose
family, if I understand him rightly, they have been long used for
raising the----; something similar occurs in Halliwell, p. 243, as a
riddle rhyme. The mystic signs in Greek are a familiar "counting-out
rhyme": these have been studied in a monograph by Mr. H. C. Bolton; he
thinks they are "survivals" of incantations. Under the circumstances,
it would be perhaps as well if the reader did not read the lines out
when alone. One never knows what may happen.
_Parallels_.--Sorcerers' pupils seem to be generally selected for
their stupidity--in folk-tales. Friar Bacon was defrauded of his
labour in producing the Brazen Head in a similar way. In one of the
legends about Virgil he summoned a number of demons, who would have
torn him to pieces if he had not set them at work (J. S. Tunison,
_Master Virgil_, Cincinnati, 1888, p. 30).
XVI. TATTY MOUSE AND TATTY MOUSE.
_Source_.--Halliwell, p. 115.
_Parallels_.--This curious droll is extremely widespread;
references are given in Cosquin, i. 204 _seq._, and Crane,
_Italian Popular Tales_, 375-6. As a specimen I may indicate what
is implied throughout these notes by such bibliographical references
by drawing up a list of the variants of this tale noticed by these two
authorities, adding one or two lately printed. Various versions have
been discovered in:
ENGLAND: Halliwell, _Nursery Rhymes_, p. 115.
SCOTLAND: K. Blind, in _Arch. Rev_. iii. ("Fleakin and Lousikin,"
in the Shetlands).
FRANCE: _Melusine_, 1877, col. 424; Sebillot, _Contes pop. de
la Haute Bretagne_, No. 55, _Litterature orale_, p. 232; _Magasin
picturesque_, 1869, p. 82; Cosquin, _Contes pop. de Lorraine_,
Nos. 18 and 74.
ITALY: Pitre, _Novelline popolari siciliane_, No. 134 (translated
in Crane, _Ital. Pop. Tales_, p. 257); Imbriani, _La novellaja
Fiorentina_, p. 244; Bernoni, _Tradizione popolari veneziane_,
punt. iii. p. 81; Gianandrea, _Biblioteca delle tradizioni popolari
marchigiane_, p.,11; Papanti, _Novelline popolari livornesi_,
p. 19 ("Vezzino e Madonna Salciccia"); Finamore, _Trad. pop.
abruzzesi_, p. 244; Morosi, _Studi sui Dialetti Greci della Terra
d'Otranto_, p. 75; _Giamb. Basile_, 1884, p. 37.
GERMANY: Grimm, _Kinder- und Hausmaerchen_, No. 30; Kuhn and
Schwarz, _Norddeutsche Sagen_, No. 16.
NORWAY: Asbjornsen, No. 103 (translated in Sir G. Dasent's _Tales
from the Field_, p. 30, "Death of Chanticleer").
SPAIN: Maspons, _Cuentos populars catalans_, p. 12; Fernan
Caballero, _Cuentos y sefranes populares_, p. 3 ("La Hormiguita").
PORTUGAL: Coelho, _Contes popolares portuguezes_, No. 1.
ROUMANIA: Kremnitz, _Rumaenische Maehrchen_, No. 15.
ASIA MINOR: Von Hahn, _Griechische und Albanesische Maerchen_, No.
INDIA: Steel and Temple, _Wide-awake Stories_, p. 157 ("The Death
and Burial of Poor Hen-Sparrow").
_Remarks_.--These 25 variants of the same jingle scattered over
the world from India to Spain, present the problem of the diffusion of
folk-tales in its simplest form. No one is likely to contend with
Prof. Mueller and Sir George Cox, that we have here the detritus of
archaic Aryan mythology, a parody of a sun-myth. There is little that
is savage and archaic to attract the school of Dr. Tylor, beyond the
speaking powers of animals and inanimates. Yet even Mr. Lang is not
likely to hold that these variants arose by coincidence and
independently in the various parts of the world where they have been
found. The only solution is that the curious succession of incidents
was invented once for all at some definite place and time by some
definite entertainer for children, and spread thence through all the
Old World. In a few instances we can actually trace the passage-
_e.g._, the Shetland version was certainly brought over from
Hamburg. Whether the centre of dispersion was India or not, it is
impossible to say, as it might have spread east from Smyrna (Hahn, No.
56). Benfey (_Einleitung zu Pantschatantra_, i. 190-91) suggests
that this class of accumulative story may be a sort of parody on the
Indian stories, illustrating the moral, "what great events from small
occasions rise." Thus, a drop of honey falls on the ground; a fly goes
after it, a bird snaps at the fly, a dog goes for the bird, another
dog goes for the first, the masters of the two dogs--who happen to be
kings--quarrel and go to war, whole provinces are devastated, and all
for a drop of honey! "Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse" also ends in a
universal calamity which seems to arise from a cause of no great
importance. Benfey's suggestion is certainly ingenious, but perhaps
too ingenious to be true.
XVII. JACK AND HIS SNUFF-BOX.
_Source_.-Mr. F. Hindes Groome, _In Gipsy Tents_, p. 201
_seq._ I have eliminated a superfluous Gipsy who makes her
appearance towards the end of the tale _a propos des boltes_, but
otherwise have left the tale unaltered as one of the few English folk-
tales that have been taken down from the mouths of the peasantry: this
applies also to i., ii., xi.
_Parallels_.-There is a magic snuff-box with a friendly power in
it in Kennedy's _Fictions of the Irish Celts_, p. 49. The choice
between a small cake with a blessing, &c., is frequent (_cf._ No.
xxiii.), but the closest parallel to the whole story, including the
mice, is afforded by a tale in Carnoy and Nicolaides' _Traditions
populaires de l'Asie Mineure_, which is translated as the first
tale in Mr. Lang's _Blue Fairy Book_. There is much in both that
is similar to Aladdin, I beg his pardon, Allah-ed-din.
XVIII. THE THREE BEARS.
_Source_.--_Verbatim et literatim_ from Southey, _The
Doctor, &c._, quarto edition, p. 327.
_Parallels_.--None, as the story was invented by Southey. There
is an Italian translation, _I tre Orsi_, Turin, 1868, and it
would be curious to see if the tale ever acclimatises itself in Italy.
_Remarks_.--"The Three Bears" is the only example I know of where
a tale that can be definitely traced to a specific author has become a
folk-tale. Not alone is this so, but the folk has developed the tale
in a curious and instructive way, by substituting a pretty little girl
with golden locks for the naughty old woman. In Southey's version
there is nothing of Little Silverhair as the heroine: she seems to
have been introduced in a metrical version by G. N., much be-praised
by Southey. Silverhair seems to have become a favourite, and in Mrs.
Valentine's version of "The Three Bears," in "The Old, Old Fairy
Tales," the visit to the bear-house is only the preliminary to a long
succession of adventures of the pretty little girl, of which there is
no trace in the original (and this in "The Old, Old Fairy Tales." Oh!
Mrs. Valentine!). I have, though somewhat reluctantly, cast back to
the original form. After all, as Prof. Dowden remarks, Southey's
memory is kept alive more by "The Three Bears" than anything else, and
the text of such a nursery classic should be retained in all its
XIX. JACK THE GIANT-KILLER.
_Source_.--From two chap-books at the British Museum (London,
1805, Paisley, 1814). I have taken some hints from "Felix Summerly's"
(Sir Henry Cole's) version, 1845. From the latter part, I have removed
the incident of the Giant dragging the lady along by her hair.
_Parallels_.--The chap-book of "Jack the Giant-Killer" is a
curious jumble. The second part, as in most chap-books, is a weak and
late invention of the enemy, and is not _volkstuemlich_ at all.
The first part is compounded of a comic and a serious theme. The first
is that of the Valiant Tailor (Grimm, No. 20); to this belong the
incidents of the fleabite blows (for variants of which see Koehler in
_Jahrb. rom. eng. Phil._, viii. 252), and that of the slit paunch
(_cf._ Cosquin, _l.c._, ii. 51). The Thankful Dead episode,
where the hero is assisted by the soul of a person whom he has caused
to be buried, is found as early as the _Cento novelle antiche_
and Straparola, xi. 2. It has been best studied by Koehler in
_Germania_, iii. 199-209 (_cf._ Cosquin, i. 214-5; ii. 14 and note;
and Crane, _Ital. Pop. Tales_, 350, note 12). It occurs also in the
curious play of Peele's _The Old Wives' Tale_, in which one of the
characters is the Ghost of Jack. Practically the same story as this part
of Jack the Giant-Killer occurs in Kennedy, _Fictions of the Irish Celts_,
p. 32, "Jack the Master and Jack the Servant;" and Kennedy adds (p. 38),
"In some versions Jack the Servant is the spirit of the buried man."
The "Fee-fi-fo-fum" formula is common to all English stories of giants
and ogres; it also occurs in Peele's play and in _King Lear_ (see
note on "Childe Rowland"). Messrs. Jones and Kropf have some remarks
on it in their "Magyar Tales," pp. 340-1; so has Mr. Lang in his
"Perrault," p. lxiii., where he traces it to the Furies in Aeschylus'
_Source_.--I give this as it was told me in Australia in 1860.
The fun consists in the avoidance of all pronouns, which results in
jaw-breaking sentences almost equal to the celebrated "She stood at
the door of the fish-sauce shop, welcoming him in."
_Parallels_.--Halliwell, p. 151, has the same with the title
"Chicken-Licken." It occurs also in Chambers's _Popular Rhymes_,
p. 59, with the same names of the _dramatis personae_, as my
version. For European parallels, see Crane, _Ital. Pop. Tales_,
377, and authorities there quoted.
XXI. CHILDE ROWLAND.
_Source_.--Jamieson's _Illustrations of Northern
Antiquities_, 1814, p. 397 _seq._, who gives it as told by a
tailor in his youth, _c._ 1770. I have Anglicised the Scotticisms,
eliminated an unnecessary ox-herd and swine-herd, who lose their
heads for directing the Childe, and I have called the Erlkoenig's lair the
Dark Tower on the strength of the description and of Shakespeare's
reference. I have likewise suggested a reason why Burd Ellen fell into
his power, chiefly in order to introduce a definition of "widershins."
"All the rest is the original horse," even including the erroneous
description of the youngest son as the Childe or heir (_cf._ "Childe
Harold" and Childe Wynd, _infra_, No. xxxiii.), unless this is some
"survival" of Junior Right or "Borough English," the archaic custom of
letting the heirship pass to the youngest son. I should add that, on the
strength of the reference to Merlin, Jamieson calls Childe Rowland's
mother, Queen Guinevere, and introduces references to King Arthur
and his Court. But as he confesses that these are his own improvements
on the tailor's narrative I have eliminated them.
_Parallels_.--The search for the Dark Tower is similar to that of
the Red Ettin, (_cf_. Koehler on Gonzenbach, ii. 222). The formula
"youngest best," in which the youngest of three brothers succeeds
after the others have failed, is one of the most familiar in folk-
tales amusingly parodied by Mr. Lang in his _Prince Prigio_. The
taboo against taking food in the underworld occurs in the myth of
Proserpine, and is also frequent in folk-tales (Child, i. 322). But
the folk-tale parallels to our tale fade into insignificance before
its brilliant literary relationships. There can be little doubt that
Edgar, in his mad scene in _King Lear_, is alluding to our tale
when he breaks into the lines:
"Childe Rowland to the Dark Tower came...." His word was still: "Fie,
foh and fum, I smell the blood of a British man." _King Lear_,
act iii. sc. 4, _ad fin_.
[Footnote: "British" for "English." This is one of the points that
settles the date of the play; James I. was declared King of Great
_Britain_, October 1604. I may add that Motherwell in his
_Minstrelsy_, p. xiv. note, testifies that the story was still
extant in the nursery at the time he wrote (1828).]
The latter reference is to the cry of the King of Elfland. That some
such story was current in England in Shakespeare's time, is proved by
that curious _melange_ of nursery tales, Peele's _The Old Wives' Tale_.
The main plot of this is the search of two brothers, Calypha and Thelea,
for a lost sister, Delia, who has been bespelled by a sorcerer, Sacrapant
(the names are taken from the "Orlando Furioso"). They are instructed by
an old man (like Merlin in "Childe Rowland") how to rescue their sister,
and ultimately succeed. The play has besides this the themes of the
Thankful Dead, the Three Heads of the Well (which see), the Life
Index, and a transformation, so that it is not to be wondered at if some
of the traits of "Childe Rowland" are observed in it.
But a still closer parallel is afforded by Milton's _Comus_. Here
again we have two brothers in search of a sister, who has got into the
power of an enchanter. But besides this, there is the refusal of the
heroine to touch the enchanted food, just as Childe Rowland finally
refuses. And ultimately the bespelled heroine is liberated by a
liquid, which is applied to her _lips and finger-tips_, just as
Childe Rowland's brothers are unspelled. Such a minute resemblance as
this cannot be accidental, and it is therefore probable that Milton
used the original form of "Childe Rowland," or some variant of it, as
heard in his youth, and adapted it to the purposes of the masque at
Ludlow Castle, and of his allegory. Certainly no other folk-tale in
the world can claim so distinguished an offspring.
_Remarks_.--Distinguished as "Childe Rowland" will be henceforth
as the origin of _Comus_, if my affiliation be accepted, it has
even more remarkable points of interest, both in form and matter, for
the folklorist, unless I am much mistaken. I will therefore touch upon
these points, reserving a more detailed examination for another
First, as to the form of the narrative. This begins with verse, then
turns to prose, and throughout drops again at intervals into poetry in
a friendly way like Mr. Wegg. Now this is a form of writing not
unknown in other branches of literature, the _cante-fable_, of
which "Aucassin et Nicolette" is the most distinguished example. Nor
is the _cante-fable_ confined to France. Many of the heroic
verses of the Arabs contained in the _Hamasa_ would be unintelligible
without accompanying narrative, which is nowadays preserved in the
commentary. The verses imbedded in the _Arabian Nights_ give
them something of the character of a _cante-fable_, and the same
may be said of the Indian and Persian story-books, though the verse is
usually of a sententious and moral kind, as in the _gathas_ of the
Buddhist Jatakas. Even as remote as Zanzibar, Mr. Lang notes, the
folk-tales are told as _cante-fables_. There are even traces in the
Old Testament of such screeds of verse amid the prose narrative, as
in the story of Lamech or that of Balaam. All this suggests that this is a
very early and common form of narrative.
Among folk-tales there are still many traces of the _cante-
fable_. Thus, in Grimm's collection, verses occur in Nos. 1, 5, 11,
12, 13, 15, 19, 21, 24, 28, 30, 36, 38_a_, _b_, 39_a_, 40, 45, 46, 47,
out of the first fifty tales, 36 per cent. Of Chambers' twenty-one
folk-tales, in the _Popular Rhymes of Scotland_ only five are
without interspersed verses. Of the forty-three tales contained in this
volume, three (ix., xxix., xxxiii.) are derived from ballads and do not
therefore count in the present connection. Of the remaining forty, i.,
iii., vii., xvi., xix., xxi., xxiii., xxv., xxxi., xxxv., xxxviii., xli.
(made up from verses), xliii., contain rhymed lines, while
xiv., xxii., xxvi., and xxxvii., contain "survivals" of rhymes ("let
me come in--chinny chin-chin"; "once again ... come to Spain;"
"it is not so--should be so"; "and his lady, him behind"); and x.
and xxxii. are rhythmical if not rhyming. As most of the remainder
are drolls, which have probably a different origin, there seems to
be great probability that originally all folk-tales of a serious character
were interspersed with rhyme, and took therefore the form of the
_cante-fable_. It is indeed unlikely that the ballad itself began as
continuous verse, and the _cante-fable_ is probably the protoplasm
out of which both ballad and folk-tale have been differentiated, the
ballad by omitting the narrative prose, the folk-tale by expanding it.
In "Childe Rowland" we have the nearest example to such protoplasm,
and it is not difficult to see how it could have been shortened into
a ballad or reduced to a prose folk-tale pure and simple.
The subject-matter of "Childe Rowland" has also claims on our
attention especially with regard to recent views on the true nature
and origin of elves, trolls, and fairies. I refer to the recently
published work of Mr. D. MacRitchie, "The Testimony of Tradition"
(Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner & Co.)--_i.e._, of tradition about
the fairies and the rest. Briefly put, Mr. MacRitchie's view is that
the elves, trolls, and fairies represented in popular tradition are
really the mound-dwellers, whose remains have been discovered in some
abundance in the form of green hillocks, which have been artificially
raised over a long and low passage leading to a central chamber open
to the sky. Mr. MacRitchie shows that in several instances traditions
about trolls or "good people" have attached themselves to mounds,
which have afterwards on investigation turned out to be evidently the
former residence of men of smaller build than the mortals of to-day.
He goes on further to identify these with the Picts--fairies are
called "Pechs" in Scotland--and other early races, but with these
ethnological equations we need not much concern ourselves. It is
otherwise with the mound-traditions and their relation, if not to
fairy tales in general, to tales _about_ fairies, trolls, elves,
etc. These are very few in number, and generally bear the character of
anecdotes. The fairies, etc., steal a child, they help a wanderer to a
drink and then disappear into a green hill, they help cottagers with
their work at night but disappear if their presence is noticed; human
midwives are asked to help fairy mothers, fairy maidens marry ordinary
men or girls marry and live with fairy husbands. All such things may
have happened and bear no such _a priori_ marks of impossibility
as speaking animals, flying through the air, and similar incidents of
the folk-tale pure and simple. If, as archaeologists tell us, there
was once a race of men in Northern Europe, very short and hairy, that
dwelt in underground chambers artificially concealed by green
hillocks, it does not seem unlikely that odd survivors of the race
should have lived on after they had been conquered and nearly
exterminated by Aryan invaders and should occasionally have performed
something like the pranks told of fairies and trolls.
Certainly the description of the Dark Tower of the King of Elfland in
"Childe Rowland," has a remarkable resemblance to the dwellings of the
"good folk," which recent excavations have revealed. By the kindness
of Mr. MacRitchie, I am enabled to give the reader illustrations of
one of the most interesting of these, the Maes-How of Orkney. This is
a green mound some 100 feet in length and 35 in breadth at its
broadest part. Tradition had long located a goblin in its centre, but
it was not till 1861 that it was discovered to be pierced by a long
passage 53 feet in length, and only two feet four inches high, for
half of its length. This led into a central chamber 15 feet square and
open to the sky.
Now it is remarkable how accurately all this corresponds to the Dark
Tower of "Childe Rowland," allowing for a little idealisation on the
part of the narrator. We have the long dark passage leading into the
well-lit central chamber, and all enclosed in a green hill or mound.
It is of course curious to contrast Mr. Batten's frontispiece with the
central chamber of the How, but the essential features are the same.
Even such a minute touch as the terraces on the hill have their
bearing, I believe, on Mr. MacRitchie's "realistic" views of Faerie.
For in quite another connection Mr. G. L. Gomme, in his recent
"Village Community" (W. Scott), pp. 75-98, has given reasons and
examples for believing that terrace cultivation along the sides of
hills was a practice of the non-Aryan and pre-Aryan inhabitants of
these isles. [Footnote: To these may be added Iona (_cf._ Duke of
Argyll, _Iona_, p. 109).] Here then from a quarter quite unexpected
by Mr. MacRitchie, we have evidence of the association of the King
of Elfland with a non-Aryan mode of cultivation of the soil. By Mr.
Gomme's kindness I am enabled to give an illustration of this.
Altogether it seems not improbable that in such a tale as "Childe
Rowland" we have an idealised picture of a "marriage by capture" of
one of the diminutive non-Aryan dwellers of the green hills with an
Aryan maiden, and her re-capture by her brothers. It is otherwise
difficult to account for such a circumstantial description of the
interior of these mounds, and especially of such a detail as the
terrace cultivation on them. At the same time it must not be thought
that Mr. MacRitchie's views explain all fairy tales, or that his
identifications of Finns = Fenians = Fairies = Sidhe = "Pechs" = Picts,
will necessarily be accepted. His interesting book, so far as it goes,
seems to throw light on tales about mermaids (Finnish women in their
"kayaks,") and trolls, but not necessarily, on fairy tales in general.
Thus, in the present volume, besides "Childe Rowland," there is only
"Tom Tit Tot" in his hollow, the green hill in "Kate Crackernuts," the
"Cauld Lad of Hilton," and perhaps the "Fairy Ointment," that are
affected by his views.
Finally, there are a couple of words in the narrative that deserve a
couple of words of explanation: "Widershins" is probably, as Mr.
Batten suggests, analogous to the German "wider Schein," against the
appearance of the sun, "counter-clockwise" as the mathematicians say--
_i.e._, W., S., E., N., instead of with the sun and the hands of
a clock; why it should have an unspelling influence is hard to say.
"Bogle" is a provincial word for "spectre," and is analogous to the
Welsh _bwg_, "goblin," and to the English insect of similar name,
and still more curiously to the Russian "Bog," God, after which so
many Russian rivers are named. I may add that "Burd" is etymologically
the same as "bride" and is frequently used in the early romances for
XXII. MOLLY WHUPPIE.
_Source_.--_Folk-Lore Journal_, ii. p. 68, forwarded by Rev.
Walter Gregor. I have modified the dialect and changed "Mally" into
_Parallels_.--The first part is clearly the theme of "Hop o' my
Thumb," which Mr. Lang has studied in his "Perrault," pp. civ.-cxi.
(_cf._ Koehler, _Occident_, ii. 301.) The change of night-dresses
occurs in Greek myths. The latter part wanders off into "rob giant of
three things," a familiar incident in folk-tales (Cosquin, i. 46-7), and
finally winds up with the "out of sack" trick, for which see Cosquin, i.
113; ii. 209; and Koehler on Campbell, in _Occident and Orient_,
XXIII. RED ETTIN.
_Source_.--"The Red Etin" in Chambers's _Pop. Rhymes of
Scotland_, p. 89. I have reduced the adventurers from three to two,
and cut down the herds and their answers. I have substituted riddles
from the first English collection of riddles, _The Demandes
Joyous_ of Wynkyn de Worde, for the poor ones of the original,
which are besides not solved. "Ettin" is the English spelling of the
word, as it is thus spelt in a passage of Beaumont and Fletcher
(_Knight of Burning Pestle_, i. 1), which may refer to this very
story, which, as we shall see, is quite as old as their time.
_Parallels_.--"The Red Etin" is referred to in _The Complaynt
of Scotland_, about 1548. It has some resemblance to "Childe
Rowland," which see. The "death index," as we may call tokens that
tell the state of health of a parted partner, is a usual incident in
the theme of the Two Brothers, and has been studied by the Grimms, i.
421, 453; ii. 403; by Koehler on Campbell, _Occ. u. Or._, ii. 119-
20; on Gonzenbach, ii. 230; on Blade, 248; by Cosquin, _l.c._, i.
70-2, 193; by Crane, _Ital. Pop. Tales_, 326; and by Jones and
Kropf, _Magyar Tales_, 329. Riddles generally come in the form of
the "riddle-bride-wager" (_cf._ Child, _Ballads_, i. 415-9;
ii. 519), when the hero or heroine wins a spouse by guessing a riddle
or riddles. Here it is the simpler Sphinx form of the "riddle task,"
on which see Koehler in _Jahrb. rom. Phil._, vii. 273, and on
XXIV. GOLDEN ARM.
_Source_.--Henderson, _l.c._, p. 338, collected by the Rev.
S. Baring-Gould, in Devonshire. Mr. Burne-Jones remembers hearing it
in his youth in Warwickshire.
_Parallels_.--The first fragment at the end of Grimm (ii. 467, of
Mrs. Hunt's translation), tells of an innkeeper's wife who had used
the liver of a man hanging on the gallows, whose ghost comes to her
and tells her what has become of his hair, and his eyes, and the
"SHE: Where is thy liver?
IT: Thou hast devoured it!"
For similar "surprise packets" see Cosquin, ii. 77.
_Remarks_.--It is doubtful how far such gruesome topics should be
introduced into a book for children, but as a matter of fact the
_katharsis_ of pity and terror among the little ones is as
effective as among the spectators of a drama, and they take the same
kind of pleasant thrill from such stories. They know it is all make-
believe just as much as the spectators of a tragedy. Every one who has
enjoyed the blessing of a romantic imagination has been trained up on
such tales of wonder.
XXV. TOM THUMB.
_Source_.--From the chap-book contained in Halliwell, p. 199, and
Mr. Hartland's _English Folk and Fairy Tales_. I have omitted
much of the second part.
_Parallels_.--Halliwell has also a version entirely in verse.
"Tom Thumb" is "Le petit Poucet" of the French, "Daumling" of the
Germans, and similar diminutive heroes elsewhere (_cf._ Deulin,
_Contes de ma Mere l'Oye_, 326), but of his adventures only that
in the cow's stomach (_cf._ Cosquin, ii. 190) is common with his
French and German cousins. M. Gaston Paris has a monograph on "Tom
XXVI. MR. FOX.
_Source_.--Contributed by Blakeway to Malone's Variorum
Shakespeare, to illustrate Benedick's remark in _Much Ado about
Nothing_ (I. i. 146): "Like the old tale, my Lord, 'It is not so,
nor 'twas not so, but, indeed, God forbid it should be so;'" which
clearly refers to the tale of Mr. Fox. "The Forbidden Chamber" has
been studied by Mr. Hartland, _Folk-Lore Journal_, iii. 193,
_Parallels_.--Halliwell, p. 166, gives a similar tale of "An
Oxford Student," whose sweetheart saw him digging her grave. "Mr. Fox"
is clearly a variant of the theme of "The Robber Bridegroom" (Grimm,
No. 40, Mrs. Hunt's translation, i. 389, 395; and Cosquin, i. 180-1).
XXVII. LAZY JACK.
_Parallels_.--The same story occurs in Lowland Scotch as "Jock
and his Mother," Chambers, _l.c._, 101; in Ireland, as "I'll be
wiser next time," Kennedy, _l.c._, 39-42. Abroad it is Grimm's
_Hans im Glueck_ (No. 83). The "cure by laughing" incident is
"common form" in folk-tales (_cf._ Koehler on Gonzenbach, _Sizil.
Maerchen_, ii. 210, 224; Jones and Kropf, _Magyar Tales_, 312).
_Source_.--_American Journal of Folk-Lore_, ii. 60.
_Parallels_.--Another variant is given in the same
_Journal_, p. 277, where reference is also made to a version "The
Gingerbread Boy," in _St. Nicholas_, May 1875. Chambers gives two
versions of the same story, under the title "The Wee Bunnock," the
first of which is one of the most dramatic and humorous of folk-tales.
Unfortunately, the Scotticisms are so frequent as to render the droll
practically untranslatable. "The Fate of Mr. Jack Sparrow" in _Uncle
Remus_ is similar to that of Johnny-Cake.
XXIX. EARL MAR'S DAUGHTER.
_Source_.--From the ballad of the same name as given in Mr.
Allingham's _Ballad Book_: it is clearly a fairy tale and not a
_Parallels_.--The lover visiting his spouse in guise of a bird,
is a frequent _motif_ in folk-tales.
XXX. MR. MIACCA.
_Source_.--From memory of Mrs. B. Abrahams, who heard it from her
mother some _x_ years ago (more than 40). I have transposed the
two incidents, as in her version Tommy Grimes was a clever carver and
carried about with him a carven leg. This seemed to me to exceed the
limits of _vraisemblance_ even for a folk-tale.
_Parallels_.--Getting out of an ogre's clutches by playing on the
simplicity of his wife, occurs in "Molly Whuppie" (No. xxii.), and its
similars. In the Grimms' "Hansel and Grethel," Hansel pokes out a
stick instead of his finger that the witch may not think him fat
enough for the table.
_Remarks_.--Mr. Miacca seems to have played the double
_role_ of a domestic Providence. He not alone punished bad boys,
as here, but also rewarded the good, by leaving them gifts on
appropriate occasions like Santa Claus or Father Christmas, who, as is
well known, only leave things for good children. Mrs. Abrahams
remembers one occasion well when she nearly caught sight of Mr.
Miacca, just after he had left her a gift; she saw his shadow in the
shape of a bright light passing down the garden.
XXXI. DICK WHITTINGTON.
_Source_.--I have cobbled this up out of three chap-book
versions; (1) that contained in Mr. Hartland's _English Folk-
tales_; (2) that edited by Mr. H. B. Wheatley for the Villon
Society; (3) that appended to Messrs. Besant and Rice's monograph.
_Parallels_.--Whittington's cat has made the fortune of his
master in all parts of the Old World, as Mr. W. A. Clouston, among
others, has shown, _Popular Tales and Fictions_, ii. 65-78
(_cf._ Koehler on Gonzenbach, ii. 251).
_Remarks_.--If Bow Bells had pealed in the exact and accurate
nineteenth century, they doubtless would have chimed
Turn again, Whittington,
Thrice and a half Lord Mayor of London.
For besides his three mayoralties of 1397, 1406, and 1419, he served
as Lord Mayor in place of Adam Bamme, deceased, in the latter half of
the mayoralty of 1396. It will be noticed that the chap-book puts the
introduction of potatoes rather far back.
XXXII. THE STRANGE VISITOR
_Source_.--From Chambers, _l.c._, 64, much Anglicised. I
have retained "Aih-late-wee-moul," though I candidly confess I have
not the slightest idea what it means; judging other children by
myself, I do not think that makes the response less effective. The
prosaic-minded may substitute "Up-late-and-little-food."
_Parallels_.--The man made by instalments, occurs in the Grimms'
No. 4, and something like it in an English folk-tale, _The Golden
Ball_, _ap._ Henderson, _l.c._, p. 333.
XXXIII. THE LAIDLY WORM.
_Source_.--From an eighteenth-century ballad of the Rev. Mr. Lamb
of Norham, as given in Prof. Child's _Ballads_; with a few
touches and verses from the more ancient version "Kempion." A florid
prose version appeared in _Monthly Chronicle of North Country
Lore_ for May 1890. I have made the obvious emendation of
O quit your sword, unbend your bow
O quit your sword, and bend your bow.
_Parallels_.--The ballad of "Kempe Owein" is a more general
version which "The Laidly Worm" has localised near Bamborough. We
learn from this that the original hero was Kempe or Champion Owain,
the Welsh hero who flourished in the ninth century. Childe Wynd
therefore = Childe Owein. The "Deliverance Kiss" has been studied by
Prof. Child, _l.c._, i. 207. A noteworthy example occurs in
Boiardo's _Orlando Inamorato_, cc. xxv., xxvi.
_Remarks_.--It is perhaps unnecessary to give the equations
"Laidly Worm = Loathly Worm = Loathsome Dragon," and "borrowed =
XXXIV. CAT AND MOUSE.
_Source_.--Halliwell, p. 154.
_Parallels_.--Scarcely more than a variant of the "Old Woman and
her Pig" (No. iv.), which see. It is curious that a very similar "run"
is added by Bengali women at the end of every folk-tale they tell (Lal
Behari Day, _Folk Tales of Bengal_, Pref. _ad fin._)
XXXV. THE FISH AND THE RING.
_Source_.--Henderson, _l.c._, p. 326, from a communication
by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould.
_Parallels_.--"Jonah rings" have been put together by Mr.
Clouston in his _Popular Tales_, i. 398, &c.: the most famous are
those of Polycrates, of Solomon, and the Sanskrit drama of
"Sakuntala," the plot of which turns upon such a ring. "Letters to
kill bearer" have been traced from Homer downwards by Prof. Koehler on
Gonzenbach, ii. 220, and "the substituted letter" by the same
authority in _Occ. u. Or._, ii. 289. Mr. Baring-Gould, who was
one of the pioneers of the study of folk-tales in this country, has
given a large number of instances of "the pre-ordained marriage" in
folk-tales in Henderson, _l.c._
XXXVI. THE MAGPIE'S NEST.
_Source_.--I have built up the "Magpie's Nest" from two
nidification myths, as a German professor would call them, in the Rev.
Mr. Swainson's _Folk-Lore of British Birds_, pp. 80 and 166. I
have received instruction about the relative values of nests from a
little friend of mine named Katie, who knows all about it. If there is
any mistake in the order of neatness in the various birds' nests, I
must have learnt my lesson badly.
_Remarks_.--English popular tradition is curiously at variance
about the magpie's nidificatory powers, for another legend given by
Mr. Swainson represents her as refusing to be instructed by the birds
and that is why she does _not_ make a good nest.
XXXVII. KATE CRACKERNUTS.
_Source_.--Given by Mr. Lang in _Longman's Magazine_, vol.
xiv. and reprinted in _Folk-Lore_, Sept. 1890. It is very
corrupt, both girls being called Kate, and I have had largely to
_Parallels_.--There is a tale which is clearly a cousin if not a
parent of this in _Kennedy's Fictions_, 54 _seq._, containing the
visit to the green hill (for which see "Childe Rowland"), a reference to
nuts, and even the sesame rhyme. The prince is here a corpse who
becomes revivified; the same story is in Campbell No. 13. The jealous
stepmother is "universally human." (_Cf._ Koehler on Gonzenbach, ii. 206.)
XXXVIII. THE CAULD LAD OF HILTON.
_Source_.--Henderson's _Folk-Lore of Northern Counties_, 2nd
edition, published by the Folk-Lore Society, pp. 266-7. I have written
the introductory paragraph so as to convey some information about
Brownies, Bogles, and Redcaps, for which Henderson, _l.c._, 246-
53, is my authority. Mr. Batten's portrait renders this somewhat
_Parallels_.--The Grimms' "Elves" (No. 39) behave in like manner
on being rewarded for their services. Milton's "lubbar-fiend" in
_L'Allegro_ has all the characteristics of a Brownie.
XXXIX. ASS, TABLE AND STICK.
_Source_.--Henderson, _l.c._, first edition, pp. 327-9, by
the Rev. S. Baring-Gould.
_Parallels_.--Mr. Baring-Gould gives another version from the
East Riding, _l.c._, 329, in which there are three brothers who
go through the adventures. He also refers to European Variants, p.
311, which could now be largely supplemented from Cosquin, i. 53-4,
ii. 66, 171.
_Remarks_.--As an example of the sun-myth explanation of folk-
tales I will quote the same authority (p. 314): "The Master, who gives
the three precious gifts, is the All Father, the Supreme Spirit. The
gold and jewel-dropping ass, is the spring cloud, hanging in the sky
and shedding the bright productive vernal showers. The table which
covers itself is the earth becoming covered with flowers and fruit at
the bidding of the New Year. But there is a check; rain is withheld,
the process of vegetation is stayed by some evil influence. Then comes
the thunder-cloud, out of which leaps the bolt; the rains pour down,
the earth receives them, and is covered with abundance--all that was
lost is recovered."
Mr. Baring-Gould, it is well-known, has since become a distinguished
writer of fiction.
XL. FAIRY OINTMENT.
_Source_.--Mrs. Bray, _The Tamar and the Tavy_, i. 174
(letters to Southey), as quoted by Mr. Hartland in _Folk-Lore_,
i. 207-8. I have christened the anonymous midwife and euphemised her
_Parallels_.--Mr. Hartland has studied Human Midwives in the
_Archaeol. Review_, iv., and parallels to our story in _Folk-
Lore_, i. 209, _seq._; the most interesting of these is from
Gervase of Tilbury (xiii. cent.), _Otia Imper._, iii. 85, and
three Breton tales given by M. Sebillot (_Contes_, ii. 42;
_Litt. orale_, 23; _Trad. et Superst._, i. 109). _Cf._ Prof. Child, i.
339; ii. 505.
XLI. THE WELL OF THE WORLD'S END.
_Source_.--Leyden's edition of _The Complaynt of Scotland_,
p. 234 _seq._, with additional touches from Halliwell, 162-3, who
makes up a slightly different version from the rhymes. The opening
formula I have taken from Mayhew, _London Labour_, iii. 390, who
gives it as the usual one when tramps tell folk-tales. I also added it
to No. xvii.
_Parallels_.--Sir W. Scott remembered a similar story; see
Taylor's _Gammer Grethel, ad fin_. In Scotland it is Chambers's
tale of _The Paddo_, p. 87; Leyden supposes it is referred to in
the _Complaynt_, (c. 1548), as "The Wolf of the Warldis End." The
well of this name occurs also in the Scotch version of the "Three
Heads of the Well," (No. xliii.). Abroad it is the Grimms' first tale,
while frogs who would a-wooing go are discussed by Prof. Koehler,
_Occ. u. Orient_ ii. 330; by Prof. Child, i. 298; and by Messrs.
Jones and Kropf, _l.c._, p. 404. The sieve-bucket task is
widespread from the Danaids of the Greeks to the leverets of _Uncle
Remus_, who, curiously enough, use the same rhyme: "Fill it wid
moss en dob it wid clay." _Cf._, too, No. xxiii.
XLII. MASTER OF ALL MASTERS.
_Source_.--I have taken what suited me from a number of sources,
which shows how wide-spread this quaint droll is in England: (i) In
Mayhew, _London Poor_, iii. 391, told by a lad in a workhouse;
(ii) several versions in 7 _Notes and Queries_, iii. 35, 87, 159,
_Parallels_.--Rev. W. Gregor gives a Scotch version under the
title "The Clever Apprentice," in _Folk-Lore Journal_, vii. 166.
Mr. Hartland, in _Notes and Queries_, _l.c._, 87, refers to
Pitre's _Fiabi sicil._, iii. 120, for a variant.
_Remarks_.--According to Mr. Hartland, the story is designed as a
satire on pedantry, and is as old in Italy as Straparola (sixteenth
century). In passionate Sicily a wife disgusted with her husband's
pedantry sets the house on fire, and informs her husband of the fact
in this unintelligible gibberish; he, not understanding his own lingo,
falls a victim to the flames, and she marries the servant who had
taken the message.
XLIII. THE THREE HEADS OF THE WELL.
_Source_.--Halliwell, p. 158. The second wish has been somewhat
_Parallels_.--The story forms part of Peele's _Old Wives'
Tale_, where the rhyme was
_A Head rises in the well_,
Fair maiden, white and red,
Stroke me smooth and comb my head,
And thou shalt have some cockell-bread.
It is also in Chambers, _l.c._, 105, where the well is at the
World's End (_cf._ No. xli.). The contrasted fates of two step-
sisters, is the Frau Holle (Grimm, No. 24) type of Folk-tale studied
by Cosquin, i. 250, _seq._ "Kate Crackernuts" (No. xxxvii.) is a
pleasant contrast to this.
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