English Fairy Tales
By Joseph Jacobs
Public Domain Books
Notes and References
In the following notes I give first the source whence I obtained the various tales. Then come parallels in some fulness for the United Kingdom, but only a single example for foreign countries, with a bibliographical reference where further variants can be found. Finally, a few remarks are sometimes added where the tale seems to need it. In two cases (Nos. xvi. and xxi.) I have been more full.
I. TOM TIT TOT.
Source.–Unearthed by Mr. E. Clodd from the “Suffolk Notes and Queries” of the Ipswich Journal, and reprinted by him in a paper on “The Philosophy of Rumpelstiltskin” in Folk-Lore Journal, vii. 138-43. I have reduced the Suffolk dialect.
Parallels.–In Yorkshire this occurs as “Habetrot and Scantlie Mab,” in Henderson’s Folk-Lore of Northern Counties, 221-6; in Devonshire as “Duffy and the Devil” in Hunt’s Romances and Drolls of the West of England, 239-47; in Scotland two variants are given by Chambers, Popular Rhymes of Scotland, under the title “Whuppity Stourie.” The “name-guessing wager” is also found in “Peerifool”, printed by Mr. Andrew Lang in Longman’s Magazine, July 1889, also Folk-Lore, September, 1890. It is clearly the same as Grimm’s “Rumpelstiltskin” (No. 14); for other Continental parallels see Mr. Clodd’s article, and Cosquin, Contes pop. de Lorraine, i. 269 seq.
Remarks.–One of the best folk-tales that have ever been collected, far superior to any of the continental variants of this tale with which I am acquainted. Mr. Clodd sees in the class of name- guessing stories, a “survival” of the superstition that to know a man’s name gives you power over him, for which reason savages object to tell their names. It may be necessary, I find, to explain to the little ones that Tom Tit can only be referred to as “that,” because his name is not known till the end.
II. THE THREE SILLIES.
Source.–From Folk-Lore Journal, ii. 40-3; to which it was communicated by Miss C. Burne.
Parallels.–Prof. Stephens gave a variant from his own memory in Folk-Lore Record, iii. 155, as told in Essex at the beginning of the century. Mr. Toulmin Smith gave another version in The Constitutional, July 1, 1853, which was translated by his daughter, and contributed to Mélusine, t. ii. An Oxfordshire version was given in Notes and Queries, April 17, 1852. It occurs also in Ireland, Kennedy, Fireside Stories, p. 9. It is Grimm’s Kluge Else, No. 34, and is spread through the world. Mr. Clouston devotes the seventh chapter of his Book of Noodles to the Quest of the Three Noodles.
III. THE ROSE TREE.
Source.–From the first edition of Henderson’s Folk-Lore of Northern Counties, p. 314, to which it was communicated by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould.
Parallels.–This is better known under the title, “Orange and Lemon,” and with the refrain:
“My mother killed me, My father picked my bones, My little sister buried me, Under the marble stones.”
I heard this in Australia. Mr. Jones Gives part of it in Folk Tales of the Magyars, 418-20, and another version occurs in 4 Notes and Queries, vi. 496. Mr. I. Gollancz informs me he remembers a version entitled “Pepper, Salt, and Mustard,” with the refrain just given. Abroad it is Grimm’s “Juniper Tree” (No. 47), where see further parallels. The German rhyme is sung by Margaret in the mad scene of Goethe’s “Faust.”
IV. OLD WOMAN AND PIG.
Source.–Halliwell’s Nursery Rhymes and Tales, 114.
Parallels.–Cf. Miss Burne, Shropshire Folk-Lore, 529; also No. xxxiv. infra ("Cat and Mouse”). It occurs also in Scotch, with the title “The Wife and her Bush of Berries,” Chambers’s Pop. Rhymes, p. 57. Newell, Games and Songs of American Children, gives a game named “Club-fist” (No. 75), founded on this, and in his notes refers to German, Danish, and Spanish variants. (Cf. Cosquin, ii. 36 seq.)
Remarks.–One of the class of Accumulative stories, which are well represented in England. (Cf. infra, Nos. xvi., xx., xxxiv.)
V. HOW JACK SOUGHT HIS FORTUNE.
Source.–American Folk-Lore Journal I, 227-8. I have eliminated a malodorous and un-English skunk.
Parallels.–Two other versions are given in the Journal l.c. One of these, however, was probably derived from Grimm’s “Town Musicians of Bremen” (No. 27). That the others came from across the Atlantic is shown by the fact that it occurs in Ireland (Kennedy, Fictions, pp. 5-10) and Scotland (Campbell, No. 11). For other variants, see R. Köhler in Gonzenbach, Sicil. Märchen, ii. 245.
VI. MR. VINEGAR.
Source.–Halliwell, p. 149.
Parallels.–This is the Hans im Glück of Grimm (No. 83). Cf. too, “Lazy Jack,” infra, No. xxvii. Other variants are given by M. Cosquin, Contes pop. de Lorraine, i. 241. On surprising robbers, see preceding tale.
Remarks.–In some of the variants the door is carried, because Mr. Vinegar, or his equivalent, has been told to “mind the door,” or he acts on the principle “he that is master of the door is master of the house.” In other stories he makes the foolish exchanges to the entire satisfaction of his wife. (Cf. Cosquin, i. 156-7.)
VII. NIX NOUGHT NOTHING.
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 équivoque 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, i. 391.
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 Köhler, 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. 1890.
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 jackal.
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: Mélusine, 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: Pitrè, 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 Hausmärchen, 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 sefrañes populares, p. 3 ("La Hormiguita”).
PORTUGAL: Coelho, Contes popolares portuguezes, No. 1.
ROUMANIA: Kremnitz, Rumänische Mährchen, No. 15.
ASIA MINOR: Von Hahn, Griechische und Albanesische Märchen, No. 56.
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. Müller 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 à 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 purity.
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 volkstümlich 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 Köhler 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 Köhler 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’ Eumenides.
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 Erlkönig’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. Köhler 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 mélange 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 occasion.
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 Hamâsa 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 gâthas 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, 38a, b, 39a, 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, Trübner & 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 à 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 “Lady.”
XXII. MOLLY WHUPPIE.
Source.–Folk-Lore Journal, ii. p. 68, forwarded by Rev. Walter Gregor. I have modified the dialect and changed “Mally” into “Molly.”
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. Köhler, 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 Köhler on Campbell, in Occident and Orient, ii. 489-506.
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 Köhler on Campbell, Occ. u. Or., ii. 119- 20; on Gonzenbach, ii. 230; on Bladé, 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 Köhler in Jahrb. rom. Phil., vii. 273, and on Gonzenbach, 215.
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 dialogue concludes
“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 Mère 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 Thumb.”
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, seq.
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 Glück (No. 83). The “cure by laughing” incident is “common form” in folk-tales (cf. Köhler on Gonzenbach, Sizil. Märchen, 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 ballad proper.
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 rôle 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. Köhler 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 = changed.”
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. Köhler 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 rewrite.
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. Köhler 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 superfluous.
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 profession.
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. Köhler, 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, 398.
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 Pitré’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 euphemised.
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.