FOR some general remarks on the English folk-tale and previous collectors, I must refer to the introductory observations added to the Notes and References of English Fairy Tales, in the third edition. With the present instalment the tale of English fairy stories that are likely to obtain currency among the young folk is complete. I do not know of more than half a dozen 'outsiders' that deserve to rank with those included in my two volumes which, for the present, at any rate, must serve as the best substitute that can be offered for an English Grimm. I do not despair of the future. After what Miss Fison (who, as I have recently learned, was the collector of Tom Tit Tot and Cap o' Rushes), Mrs Balfour, and Mrs Gomme have done in the way of collecting among the folk, we may still hope for substantial additions to our stock to be garnered by ladies from the less-frequented portions of English soil. And from the United States we have every reason to expect a rich harvest to be gathered by Mr W. W. Newell, who is collecting the English folk-tales that still remain current in New England. If his forthcoming book equals in charm, scholarship, and thoroughness his delightful Games and Songs of American Children, the Anglo-American folk-tale will be enriched indeed. A further examination of English nursery rhymes may result in some additions to our stock. I reserve these for separate treatment in which I am especially interested, owing to the relations which I surmise between the folk-tale and the cante-fable.
Meanwhile the eighty-seven tales (representing some hundred and twenty variants) in my two volumes must represent the English folk-tale as far as my diligence has been able to preserve it at this end of the nineteenth century. There is every indication that they form but a scanty survival of the whole corpus of such tales which must have existed in this country. Of the seventy European story-radicles which I have enumerated in the Folk-Lore Society's Handbook, pp. 117-35, only forty are represented in our collection: I have little doubt that the majority of the remaining thirty or so also existed in these isles, and especially in England. If I had reckoned in the tales current in the English Pale of Ireland, as well as those in Lowland Scots, there would have been even less missing. The result of my investigations confirms me in my impression that the scope of the English folk-tale should include all those current among the folk in English, no matter where spoken, in Ireland, the Lowlands, New England, or Australia. Wherever there is community of language, tales can spread, and it is more likely that tales should be preserved in those parts where English is spoken with most of dialect. Just as the Anglo-Irish Pale preserves more of the pronunciation of Shakespeare's time, so it is probable that Anglo-Irish stories preserve best those current in Shakespeare's time in English. On the other hand, it is possible that some, nay many, of the Anglo-Irish stories have been imported from the Celtic districts, and are positively folk-translations from the Gaelic. Further research is required to determine which is English and which Celtic among Anglo-Irish folk-tales. Meanwhile my collection must stand for the nucleus of the English folk-tale, and we can at any rate judge of its general spirit and tendencies from the eighty-seven tales now before the reader.
Of these, thirty-eight are märchen proper, i.e. tales with definite plot and evolution; ten are sagas or legends locating romantic stories in definite localities; no less than nineteen are drolls or comic anecdotes; four are cumulative stories; six beast tales; while ten are merely ingenious nonsense tales put together in such a form as to amuse children. The preponderance of the comic element is marked, and it is clear that humour is a characteristic of the English folk. The legends are not of a very romantic kind, and the märchen are often humorous in character. So that a certain air of un-romance is given by such a collection as that we are here considering. The English folk-muse wears homespun and plods afoot, albeit with a cheerful smile and a steady gaze.
Some of this effect is produced by the manner in which the tales are told. The colloquial manner rarely rises to the dignified, and the essence of the folk-tale manner in English is colloquial. The opening formulae are varied enough, but none of them has much play of fancy. 'Once upon a time and a very good time it was, though it wasn't in my time nor in your time nor in any one else's time' is effective enough for a fairy epoch, and is common, according to Mayhew (London Labour, iii), among tramps. We have the rhyming formula:
Once upon a time when pigs spoke rhyme,
And monkeys chewed tobacco,
And hens took snuff to make them tough,
And ducks went quack, quack, quack Oh !
on which I have variants not so refined. Some stories start off without any preliminary formula, or with a simple 'Well, there was once a --' A Scotch formula reported by Mrs Balfour runs, 'Once on a time when a' muckle folk were wee and a' lees were true', while Mr Lang gives us 'There was a king and a queen as mony ane's been, few have we seen and as few may we see'. Endings of stories are even less varied. 'So they married and lived happy ever afterwards' comes from folk-tales, not from novels. 'All went well that didn't go ill' is a somewhat cynical formula given by Mrs Balfour, while the Scotch have 'They lived happy and died happy, and never drank out of a dry cappie'.
In the course of the tale, the chief thing to be noticed is the occurrence of rhymes in the prose narrative, tending to give the appearance of a cante-fable. I have enumerated those occurring in English Fairy Tales in the notes to Childe Rowland (No. 21). In the present volume, rhyme occurs in Nos. 46, 48, 49, 58, 60, 63 (see Note), 64, 74, 81, 85, while 55, 69, 73, 76, 83, 84, are either in verse themselves or derived from verse versions. Altogether one-third of our collection gives evidence in favour of the cante-fable theory which I adduced in my notes to Childe Rowland. Another point of interest in English folk-narrative is the repetition of verbs of motion, 'So he went along and went along and went along'. Still more curious is a frequent change of tense from the English present to the past. 'So he gets up and went along.' All this helps to give the colloquial and familiar air to the English fairy-tale, not to mention the dialectal and archaic words and phrases which occur in them.
But their very familiarity and colloquialism make them remarkably effective with English-speaking little ones. The rhythmical phrases stick in their memories; they can remember the exact phraseology of the English tales much better, I find, than that of the Grimms' tales, or even of the Celtic stories. They certainly have the quality of coming home to English children. Perhaps this may be partly due to the fact that a larger proportion of the tales are of native manufacture. If the researches contained in my Notes are to be trusted, only 1 - 9, 11, 17, 22, 25, 26, 27, 44, 50, 54, 55, 58, 61, 62, 65, 67, 78, 84, 87, were imported; nearly all the remaining sixty are home produce, and have their roots in the hearts of the English people which naturally respond to them.
In the following Notes, I have continued my practice of giving: (i) Source where I obtained the various tales. (2) Parallels, so far as possible, in full for the British Isles, with bibliographical references when they can be found; for occurrences abroad I generally refer to the list of incidents contained in my paper read before the International Folk-Lore Congress of 1891 and republished in the Transactions, 1892, pp. 87 - 98. (3) Remarks where the tale seems to need them. I have mainly been on the search for signs of diffusion rather than of 'survivals' of antiquarian interest, though I trust it will be found I have not neglected these.
44. THE PIED PIPER
SOURCE Abraham Elder, Tales and Legends of the Isle of Wight (London, 1839), pp. 157 -- 64. Mr Nutt, who has abridged and partly rewritten the story from a copy of Elder's book in his possession, has introduced a couple of touches from Browning.
PARALLELS The well-known story of the Pied Piper of Hameln (Hamelin), immortalised by Browning, will at once recur to every reader's mind. Before Browning, it had been told in English in books as well known as Verstegan's Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, 1605; Howell's Familiar Letters (see my edition, p. 357, n.); and Wanley's Wonders of the Little World. Browning is said to have taken it from the last source (Furnivall, Browning Bibliography, 158), though there are touches which seem to me to come from Howell (see my note ad loc.), while it is not impossible he may have come across Elder's book, which was illustrated by Cruikshank. The Grimms give the legend in their Deutsche Sagen (ed. 1816, 330 -- 3), and in its native land it has given rise to an elaborate poem à la Scheffel by Julius Wolff, which has in its turn been the occasion of an opera by Victor Nessler. Mrs Gutch, in an interesting study of the myth in Folk-Lore, iii, pp. 227 -- 52, quotes a poem, The Sea Piece, published by Dr Kirkpatrick in 1750, as showing that a similar legend was told of the Cave Hill, Belfast.
Here, as Tradition's hoary legend tells,
A blinking Piper once with magic Spells
And strains beyond a vulgar Bagpipe's sounds
Gathered the dancing Country wide around.
When hither as he drew the tripping Rear
(Dreadful to think and difficult to swear!)
The gaping Mountain yawned from side to side,
A hideous Cavern, darksome, deep, and wide;
In skipt th' exulting Demon, piping loud,
With passive joy succeeded by the Crowd.
There firm and instant closed the greedy Womb,
Where wide-born Thousands met a common Tomb.
REMARKS Mr Baring-Gould, in his Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, has explained the Pied Piper as a wind myth; Mrs Gutch is inclined to think there may be a substratum of fact at the root of the legend, basing her conclusions on a pamphlet of Dr Meinardus, Der historische Kern, which I have not seen. She does not, however, give any well-authenticated historical event at Hameln in the thirteenth century which could have plausibly given rise to the legend, nor can I find any in the Urkundenbuch of Hameln (Luneberg, 1883). The chief question of interest attaching to the English form of the legend as given in 1839 by Elder is whether it is independent of the German myth. It does not occur in any of the local histories of the Isle of Wight which I have been able to consult of a date previous to Elder's book -- e.g. J. Hassel, Tour of the Isle of Wight, 1790. Mr Shore, in his History of Hampshire, 1891, p. 185, refers to the legend, but evidently bases his reference on Elder, and so with all the modern references I have seen. Now, Elder himself quotes Verstegan in his comments on the legend, pp. 168 -- 9 and note, and it is impossible to avoid conjecturing that he adapted Verstegan to the locality. Newtown, when Hassel visited it in 1790, had only six or seven houses (l.c., i, 137 -- 8), though it had the privilege of returning two members to Parliament; it had been a populous town by the name of Franchville before the French invasion of the island of temp. Ric. II. It is just possible that there may have been a local legend to account for the depopulation by an exodus of the children. But the expression 'pied piper' which Elder used clearly came from Verstegan, and until evidence is shown to the contrary the whole of the legend was adapted from him. It is not without significance that Elder was writing in the days of the Ingoldsby Legends, and had possibly no more foundation for the localisation of his stories than Barham.
There still remains the curious parallel from Belfast to which Mrs Gutch has drawn attention. Magic pipers are not unknown to English folk-lore, as in the Percy ballad of The Frere and the Boy, or in the nursery rhyme of Tom the Piper's son in its more extended form. But beguiling into a mountain is not known elsewhere except at Hameln, which was made widely known in England by Verstegan's and Howell's accounts, so that the Belfast variant is also probably to be traced to the Rattenfanger. Here again, as in the case of Beddgellert (Celtic Fairy Tales, No. xxi), the Blinded Giant and the Pedlar of Swaffham (infra, Nos. 61, 63), we have an imported legend adapted to local conditions.
SOURCE Sent me anonymously soon after the appearance of English Fairy Tales. From a gloss in the MS. 'vitty' = Devonian for 'decent', I conclude the tale is current in Devon. I should be obliged if the sender would communicate with me.
PARALLELS The latter part has a certain similarity with 'Jack Hannaford' (No. 8). Halliwell's story of the miser who kept his money 'for luck' (p. 153) is of the same type. Halliwell remarks that the tale throws light on a passage in Ben Jonson:
Say we are robbed,
If any come to borrow a spoon or so
I will not have Good Fortune or God's Blessing
Let in, while I am busy.
The earlier part of the tale has resemblance with 'Lazy Jack' (No. 27), the European variants of which are given by M. Cosquin, Contes de Lorraine, i, 241. Jan's satisfaction with his wife's blunders is also European (Cosquin, l.c., i, 157). On minding the door and dispersing robbers by its aid see 'Mr Vinegar'.
REMARKS 'Hereafterthis' is thus a mélange of droll incidents, yet has characteristic folkish touches ('can you milk-y, bake-y', 'when I lived home') which give it much vivacity.
46. THE GOLDEN BALL
SOURCE Contributed to the first edition of Henderson's Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties, pp. 333 -- 5, by Rev. S. Baring-Gould.
PARALLELS Mr Nutt gave a version in Folk-Lore Journal, vi, 144. The man in instalments occurs in 'The Strange Visitor' (No. 32). The latter part of the tale has been turned into a game for English children, 'Mary Brown', given in Miss Plunket's Merry Games, but not included in Newell, Games and Songs of American Children.
REMARKS This story is especially interesting as having given rise to a game. Capture and imprisonment are frequently the gruesome motif of children's games, as in 'Prisoner's base'. Here it has been used with romantic effect.
47. MY OWN SELF
SOURCE Told to Mrs Balfour by Mrs W., a native of North Sunderland, who had seen the cottage and heard the tale from persons who had known the widow and her boy, and had got the story direct from them. The title was 'Me A'an Sel'', which I have altered to 'My Own Self'.
PARALLELS Notwithstanding Mrs Balfour's informant, the same tale is widely spread in the North Country. Hugh Miller relates it, in his Scenes from my Childhood, as 'Ainsel'; it is given in Mr Hartland's English Folk and Fairy Tales; Mr F. B. Jevons has heard it in the neighbourhood of Durham; while a further version appeared in Monthly Chronicle of North Country Folk-Lore. Further parallels abroad are enumerated by Mr Clouston in his Book of Noodles, pp. 184 -- 5, and by the late Prof. Köhler in Orient und Occident, ii, 331. The expedient by which Ulysses outwits Polyphemus in the Odyssey by calling himself ??t?? is clearly of the same order.
REMARKS The parallel with the Odyssey suggests the possibility that this is the ultimate source of the legend, as other parts of the epic have been adapted to local requirements in Great Britain, as in the 'Blinded Giant' (No. 61), or 'Conall Yellowclaw' (Celtic Fairy Tales, No. v). The fact of Continental parallels disposes of the possibility of its being a merely local legend. The fairies might appear to be in a somewhat novel guise here as something to be afraid of. But this is the usual attitude of the folk towards the 'Good People', as indeed their euphemistic name really implies.
48. THE BLACK BULL OF NORROWAY
SOURCE Chambers's Popular Rhymes of Scotland, much Anglicised in language, but otherwise unaltered.
PARALLELS Chambers, l.c., gave a variant with the title 'The Red Bull o' Norroway'. Kennedy, Legendary Fictions, p. 87, gives a variant with the title 'The Brown Bear of Norway'. Mr Stewart gave a Leitrim version, in which 'Norroway' becomes 'Orange', in Folk-Lore for June 1893, which Miss Peacock follows up with a Lincolnshire parallel (showing the same corruption of name) in the September number. A reference to the 'Black Bull o' Norroway' occurs in Sidney's Arcadia, as also in the Complaynt of Scotland, 1548. The 'sale of bed' incident at the end has been bibliographised by Miss Cox in her volume of variants of Cinderella, p. 481. It probably existed in one of the versions of Nix Nought Nothing (No. 7).
REMARKS The Black Bull is clearly a Beast who ultimately wins a Beauty. But the tale as told is clearly not sufficiently motivated. Miss Peacock's version renders it likely that a fuller account may yet be recovered in England.
49. YALLERY BROWN
SOURCE Mrs Balfour's 'Legends of the Lincolnshire Fens', in Folk-Lore, ii. It was told to Mrs Balfour by a labourer, who professed to be the hero of the story, and related it in the first person. I have given him a name, and changed the narration into the oblique narration, and toned down the dialect.
PARALLELS 'Tiddy Mun', the hero of another of Mrs Balfour's legends (l.c., p. 151), was 'none bigger'n a three-years-old bairn', and had no proper name.
REMARKS One might almost suspect Mrs Balfour of being the victim of a piece of invention on the part of her autobiographical informant. But the scrap of verse, especially in its original dialect, has such a folkish ring that it is probable he was only adapting a local legend to his own circumstances.
50. THE THREE FEATHERS
SOURCE Collected by Mrs Gomme from some hop-pickers near Deptford.
PARALLELS The beginning is à la Cupid and Psyche, on which Mr Lang's monograph in the Carabas series is the classic authority. The remainder is an Eastern tale, the peregrinations of which have been studied by Mr Clouston in his Pop. Tales and Fictions, ii, 289, seq. The Wright's Chaste Wife is the English fabliau on the subject. M. Bédier, in his recent work on Les Fabliaux, pp. 411 -- 13, denies the Eastern origin of the fabliau, but in his Indiaphobia M. Bédier is capable de tout. In the Indian version the various messengers are sent by the king to test the chastity of a peerless wife of whom he has heard. The incident occurs in some versions of the 'Battle of the Birds' story (Celtic Fairy Tales, No. xxiv), and considering the wide spread of this in the British Isles, it was possibly from this source that it came to Deptford.
51. SIR GAMMER VANS
SOURCE Halliwell's Nursery Rhymes and Tales.
PARALLELS There is a Yorkshire Lying Tale in Henderson's Folk-Lore, first edition, p. 337, a Suffolk one, 'Happy Borz'l', in Suffolk Notes and Queries, while a similar jingle of inconsequent absurdities, commencing 'So he died, and she unluckily married the barber, and a great bear coming up the street popped his head into the window, saying, "Do you sell any soap"?' is said to have been invented by Charles James Fox to test Sheridan's memory, who repeated it after one hearing. (Others attribute it to Foote.) Similar Lugenmärchen are given by the Grimms, and discussed by them in their Notes, Mrs Hunt's translation, ii, pp. 424, 435, 442, 450, 452, cf. Crane, Ital. Pop. Tales, p. 263.
REMARKS The reference to venison warrants, and bows and arrows seems to argue considerable antiquity for this piece of nonsense. The honorific prefix 'Sir' may in that case refer to clerkly qualities rather than to knighthood.
52. TOM HICKATHRIFT
SOURCE From the Chap-book, c.1660, in the Pepysian Library, edited for the Villon Society by Mr G. L. Gomme. Mr Nutt, who kindly abridged it for me, writes, 'Nothing in the shape of incident has been omitted, and there has been no rewriting beyond a phrase here and there rendered necessary by the process of abridgment. But I have in one case altered the sequence of events putting the fight with the giant last.'
PARALLELS There are similar adventures of giants in Hunt's Cornish Drolls. Sir Francis Palgrave (Quart. Rev., vol. xxi), and after him Mr Gomme, have drawn attention to certain similarities with the Grettir Saga, but they do not extend beyond general resemblances of great strength. Mr Gomme, however, adds that the cartwheel 'plays a not unimportant part in English folk-lore as a representative of old runic faith' (Villon Soc. edition, p. xv).
REMARKS Mr Gomme, in his interesting Introduction, points out several indications of considerable antiquity for the legend, various expressions in the Pepysian Chap-book ('in the marsh of the Isle of Ely', 'good ground'), indicating that it could trace back to the sixteenth century. On the other hand, there is evidence of local tradition persisting from that time onward till the present day (Weaver, Funerall Monuments, 1631, pp. 866 -- 7; Spelman, Icenia, 1640, p. 138; Dugdale, Imbanking, 1662 (ed. 1772, p. 244); Blomefield, Norfolk, 1808, ix, pp. 79, 80). These refer to a sepulchral monument in Tylney churchyard which had figured on a stone coffin an axle-tree and cart-wheel. The name in these versions of the legend is given as Hickifric, and he is there represented as a village Hampden who withstood the tyranny of the local lord of the manor. Mr Gomme is inclined to believe, I understand him, that there is a certain amount of evidence for Tom Hickathrift being a historic personality round whom some of the Scandinavian mythical exploits have gathered. I must refer to his admirable Introduction for the ingenious line of reasoning on which he bases these conclusions. Under any circumstances no English child's library of folk-tales can be considered complete that does not present a version of Mr Hickathrift's exploits.
53. THE HEDLEY KOW
SOURCE Told to Mrs Balfour by Mrs M. of S. Northumberland. Mrs M.'s mother told the tale as having happened to a person she had known when young: she had herself seen the Hedley Kow twice, once as a donkey and once as a wisp of straw. 'Kow' must not be confounded with the more prosaic animal with a 'C'.
PARALLELS There is a short reference to the Hedley Kow in Henderson, l.c., first edition, pp. 234 -- 5. Our story is shortly referred to thus: 'He would present himself to some old dame gathering sticks, in the form of a truss of straw, which she would be sure to take up and carry away. Then it would become so heavy that she would have to lay her burden down, on which the straw would become "quick", rise upright and shuffle away before her, till at last it vanished from her sight with a laugh and shout.' Some of Robin Goodfellow's pranks are similar to those of the Hedley Kow. The old woman's content with the changes is similar to that of 'Mr Vinegar'. An ascending scale of changes has been studied by Prof. Crane, Italian Popular Tales, p. 373.
54. GOBBORN SEER
SOURCE Collected by Mrs Gomme from an old woman at Deptford. It is to be remarked that 'Gobborn Seer' is Irish (Goban Saor = free carpenter), and is the Irish equivalent of Wayland Smith, and occurs in several place names in Ireland.
PARALLELS The essence of the tale occurs in Kennedy, l.c., p. 67 seq. Gobborn Seer's daughter was clearly the clever lass who is found in all parts of the Indo-European world. An instance in my Indian Fairy Tales, 'Why the Fish Laughed' (No. 24). She has been made a special study by Prof. Child, English and Scotch Ballads, i, 485, while an elaborate monograph by Prof. Benfey under the title 'Die Kiuge Dirne' (reprinted in his Kleine Schriften, ii, 156 seq.), formed the occasion for his first presentation of his now well-known hypothesis of the derivation of all folk-tales from India.
REMARKS But for the accident of the title being preserved there would have been nothing to show that this tale had been imported into England from Ireland, whither it had probably been carried all the way from India.
SOURCE Halliwell, Nursery Rhymes.
PARALLELS It is possible that this is an Eastern 'sell': it occurs at any rate as the first episode in Fitzgerald's translation of Jami's Saldámán and Absál. Jami, ob. 1492, introduces the story to illustrate the perplexities of the problem of individuality in a pantheistic system.
Lest, like the simple Arab in the tale,
I grow perplext, O God ! 'twixt ME and THEE,
If I -- this Spirit that inspires me whence?
If THOU -- then what this sensual impotence?
In other words, M. Bourget's Cruelle Enigme. The Arab yokel coming to Baghdad is fearful of losing his identity, and ties a pumpkin to his leg before going to sleep. His companion transfers it to his own leg. The yokel awaking is perplexed like the pantheist.
If I -- the pumpkin why on you?
If you -- then where am I, and WHO?
SOURCE Told to Mrs Balfour by a little girl named Sally Brown, when she lived in the Cars in Lincolnshire. Sally had got it from her mother, who worked for Mrs Balfour. It was originally told in dialect, which Mrs Balfour has omitted.
PARALLELS Miss Cox has included 'Tattercoats' in her exhaustive collection of parallels of Cinderella (Folk-Lore Society Publications, 1892), No. 274 from the MS. which I had lent her. Miss Cox rightly classes it as 'Indeterminate', and it has only the Menial Heroine and Happy Marriage episodes in common with stories of the Cinderella type.
REMARKS Tattercoats is of interest chiefly as being without any 'fairy' or supernatural elements, unless the magic pipe can be so considered; it certainly gives the tale a fairy-like element. It is practically a prose variant of King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid, and is thus an instance of the folk-novel pure and simple, without any admixture of those unnatural incidents which transform the folk-novel into the serious folk-tale as we are accustomed to have it. Which is the prior, folk-novel or tale, it would be hard to say.
57. THE WEE BANNOCK
SOURCE Chambers's Popular Rhymes of Scotland. I have attempted an impossibility, I fear, in trying to anglicise, but the fun of the original tempted me. There still remain several technical trade terms requiring elucidation. I owe the following to the kindness of the Rev. Mr Todd Martin, of Belfast. Lawtrod = lap board on which the tailor irons; tow cards, the comb with which tow is carded; the clove, a heavy wooden knife for breaking up the flax. Heckling is combing it with a heckle or wooden comb; binnings are halters for cattle made of spit or rushes. Spurtle = spoon; whins = gorse.
PARALLELS This is clearly a variant of Johnny-cake = journey-cake, No. 28, where see Notes.
REMARKS But here the interest is with the pursuers rather than with the pursued. The subtle characterisation of the various occupations reaches a high level of artistic merit. Mr Barrie himself could scarcely have succeeded better in a very difficult task.
58. JOHNNY GLOKE
SOURCE Contributed by Mr W. Gregor to Folk-Lore Journal, vii. I have rechristened 'Johnny Glaik' for the sake of the rhyme, and anglicised the few Scotticisms.
PARALLELS This is clearly The Valiant Tailor of the Grimms: 'x at a blow' has been bibliographised. (See my List of Incidents in Trans. FolkLore Congress, 1892, sub voce.)
REMARKS How The Valiant Tailor got to Aberdeen one cannot tell, though the resemblance is close enough to suggest a direct 'lifting' from some English version of Grimm's Goblins. At the same time it must be remembered that Jack the Giant-Killer (see Notes on No. 19) contains some of the incidents of The Valiant Tailor.
59. COAT O' CLAY
SOURCE Contributed by Mrs Balfour originally to Longman's Magazine, and thence to Folk-Lore, Sept. 1890.
REMARKS A rustic apologue, which is scarcely more than a prolonged pun on 'Coat o' Clay'. Mrs Balfour's telling redeems it from the usual dullness of folk-tales with a moral or a double meaning.
60. THE THREE COWS
SOURCE Contributed to Henderson, I.c., pp. 321 -- 2, by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould.
PARALLELS The incident 'Bones together' occurs in Rushen Coatie (infra, No. 70), and has been discussed by the Grimms, i, 399, and by Prof. Köhler, Or. und 0cc., ii, 680.
61. THE BLINDED GIANT
SOURCE Henderson's Folk-Lore of Northern Counties. See also Folk-Lore. PARALLELS Polyphemus in the Odyssey and the Celtic parallels in Celtic Fairy Tales, No. v, 'Conall Yellowclaw'. The same incident occurs in one of Sindbad's voyages.
REMARKS Here we have another instance of the localisation of a well-known myth. There can be little doubt that the version is ultimately to be traced back to the Odyssey. The one-eyed giant, the barred door, the escape through the blinded giant's legs in the skin of a slaughtered animal, are a series of incidents that could not have arisen independently and casually. Yet till lately the mill stood to prove if the narrator lied, and every circumstance of local particularity seemed to vouch for the autochthonous character of the myth. The incident is an instructive one, and I have therefore included it in this volume, though it is little more than an anecdote in its present shape.
SOURCE Collected by Mr Batten from Mrs H., who heard it from her mother over forty years ago.
PARALLELS It is clearly a variant of Southey's Three Bears (No. 18).
REMARKS This remarkable variant raises the question whether Southey did anything more than transform Scrapefoot into his naughty old woman, who in her turn has been transformed by popular tradition into the naughty girl Silverhair. Mr Nutt ingeniously suggests that Southey heard the story told of an old vixen, and mistook the rustic name of a female fox for the metaphorical application to women of fox-like temper. Mrs H.'s version to my mind has all the marks of priority. It is throughout an animal tale, the touch at the end of the shaking the paws and the name Scrapefoot are too volkstümlich to have been conscious variations on Southey's tale. In introducing the story in his Doctor, the poet laureate did not claim to do more than repeat a popular tale. I think that there can be little doubt that in Mrs H.'s version we have now recovered this in its original form. If this is so, we may here have one more incident of the great Northern beast epic of bear and fox, on which Prof. Krohn has written an instructive monograph, Bür (Wolf) und Fuchs (Helsingfors, 1889).
63. THE PEDLAR OF SWAFFHAM
SOURCE Diary of Abraham de la Pryme (Surtees Soc.) under date 10th November 1699, but rewritten by Mr Nutt, who has retained the few characteristic seventeenth-century touches of Pryme's dull and colourless narration. There is a somewhat fuller account in Blomefleld's History of Norfolk, vi, 211 -- 13, from Twysden's Reminiscences, ed. Hearne, p. 299. In this there is a double treasure; the first in an iron pot with a Latin inscription, which the pedlar, whose name is John Chapman, does not understand. Inquiring its meaning from a learned friend, he is told --
Under me doth lie
Another much richer than I.
He accordingly digs deeper and finds another pot of gold.
PARALLELS Blomefield refers to Fungerus, Etymologicum Latino-Graecum, pp. 1110 -- 11, where the same story is told of a peasant of Dort, in Holland, who was similarly directed to go to Kempen Bridge. Prof. E. B. Cowell, who gives the passage from Fungerus in a special paper on the subject in the Journal of Philology, vi, 189 -- 95, points out that the same story occurs in the Masádvi of the Persian poet Jalaluddin, whose floruit is A.D. 1260. Here a young spendthrift of Baghdad is warned in a dream to repair to Cairo, with the usual result of being referred back.
REMARKS The artificial character of the incident is sufficient to prevent its having occurred in reality or to more than one inventive imagination. It must therefore have been brought to Europe from the East and adapted to local conditions at Dort and Swaffham. Prof. Cowell suggests that it was possibly adapted at the latter place to account for the effigy of the pedlar and his dog.
64. THE OLD WITCH
SOURCE Collected by Mrs Gomme at Deptford.
PARALLELS I have a dim memory of hearing a similar tale in Australia in 1860. It is clearly parallel with the Grimms' Frau Holle, where the good girl is rewarded and the bad punished in a similar way. Perrault's Toads and Diamonds is of the same genus.
65. THE THREE WISHES
SOURCE Sternberg's Folk-Lore of Northamptonshire, 1851, but entirely rewritten by Mr Nutt who has introduced from other variants one touch at the close -- viz, the readiness of the wife to allow her husband to remain disfigured.
PARALLELS Perrault's Trois Souhaits is the same tale, and Mr Lang has shown in his edition of Perrault (pp. xlii -- li) how widely spread is the theme throughout the climes and the ages. I do not, however, understand him to grant that they are all derived from one source -- that represented in the Indian Pantschatantra. In my Aesop, i, 140 -- 1, I have pointed out an earlier version in Phaedrus where it occurs (as in the prose versions) as the fable of Mercury and the two Women, one of whom wishes to see her babe when it has a beard; the other, that everything she touches which she would find useful in her profession, may follow her. The babe becomes bearded, and the other woman raising her hand to wipe her eyes finds her nose following her hand -- denouement on which the scene closes. M. Bédier, as usual, denies the Indian origin, Les Fabliaux, pp. 177 seq.
REMARKS I have endeavoured to show, l.c., that the Phaedrine form is ultimately to be derived from India, and there can be little doubt that all the other variants, which are only variations on one idea, and that an absurdly incongruous one, were derived from India in the last resort. The case is strongest for drolls of this kind.
66. THE BURIED MOON
SOURCE Mrs Balfour's 'Legends of the Lincolnshire Cars' in Folk-Lore, ii, somewhat abridged and the dialect removed. The story was derived from a little girl named Bratton, who declared she had heard it from her 'grannie'. Mrs Balfour thinks the girl's own weird imagination had much to do with framing the details.
REMARKS The tale is noteworthy as being distinctly mythical in character, and yet collected within the last ten years from one of the English peasantry. The conception of the moon as a beneficent being, the natural enemy of the bogies and other dwellers of the dark, is natural enough, but scarcely occurs, so far as I recollect, in other mythological systems. There is, at any rate, nothing analogous in the Grimms' treatment of the moon in their Teutonic Mythology, tr. Stallybrass, pp. 701 -- 21.
67. A SON OF ADAM
SOURCE From memory, by Mr E. Sidney Hartland, as heard by him from his nurse in childhood.
PARALLELS Jacques de Vitry, Exempla, ed. Prof. Crane, No. xiii, and references given in notes, p. 139. It occurs in Swift and in modern Italian folk-lore.
REMARKS The Exempla were anecdotes, witty and otherwise, used by the monks in their sermons to season their discourse. Often they must have been derived from the folk of the period, and at first sight it might seem that we had found still extant among the folk the story that had been the original of Jacques de Vitry's Exemplum. But the theological basis of the story shows clearly that it was originally a monkish invention and came thence among the folk.
68. THE CHILDREN IN THE WOOD
SOURCE Percy, Reliques. The ballad form of the story has become such a nursery classic that I had not the heart to 'prose' it. As Mr Allingham remarks, it is the best of the ballads of the pedestrian order.
PARALLELS The second of R. Yarrington's Two Lamentable Tragedies, 1601, has the same plot as the ballad. Several chap-books have been made out of it, some of them enumerated by Halliwell's Popular Histories (Percy Soc.) No. 18. From one of these I am in the fortunate position of giving the names of the dramatis personae of this domestic tragedy. Androgus was the wicked uncle, Pisaurus his brother who married Eugenia, and their children in the wood were Cassander and little Kate. The ruffians were appropriately named Rawbones and Woudkill. According to a writer in 3 Notes and Qyeries, ix, 144, the traditional burial-place of the children is pointed out in Norfolk. The ballad was known before Percy, as it is mentioned in the Spectator, Nos. 80 and 179.
REMARKS The only 'fairy' touch -- but what a touch ! -- the pall of leaves collected by the robins.
69. THE HOBYAHS
SOURCE American Folk-Lore Journal, iii, 173, contributed by Mr S. V. Proudfit as current in a family deriving from Perth.
REMARKS But for the assurance of the tale itself that Hobyahs are no more, Mr Batten's portraits of them would have convinced me that they were the bogies or spirits of the comma bacillus. Mr Proudfit remarks that the cry 'Look me' was very impressive.
70. A POTTLE O' BRAINS
SOURCE Contributed by Mrs Balfour to Folk-Lore, II.
PARALLELS The fool's wife is clearly related to the Clever Lass of 'Gobborn Seer', where see Notes.
REMARKS The fool is obviously of the same family as he of the 'Coat o' Clay' (No. 59), if he is not actually identical with him. His adventures might be regarded as a sequel to the former ones. The Noodle family is strongly represented in English folk-tales, which would seem to confirm Carlyle's celebrated statistical remark.
71. THE KING OF ENGLAND
SOURCE Mr F. Hindes Groome, In Gypsy Tents, told him by John Roberts, a Welsh gypsy, with a few slight changes and omission of passages insisting upon the gypsy origin of the three helpful brothers.
PARALLELS The king and his three sons are familiar figures in European märchen. Slavonic parallels are enumerated by Leskien Brugman in their Lithauische Märchen, notes on No. II, p. 542. The Sleeping Beauty is, of course, found in Perrault.
REMARKS The tale is scarcely a good example for Mr Hindes Groome's contention (in Transactions Folk-Lore Congress) for the diffusion of all folk-tales by means of gypsies as colporteurs. This is merely a matter of evidence, and of evidence there is singularly little, though it is indeed curious that one of Campbell's best-equipped informants should turn out to be a gypsy. Even this fact, however, is not too well substantiated.
72. KING JOHN AND THE ABBOT
SOURCE 'Prosed' from the well-known ballad in Percy. I have changed the first query: What am I worth? Answer: Twenty-nine pence - one less, I ween, than the Lord. This would have sounded somewhat bold in prose.
PARALLELS Vincent of Beauvais has the story, but the English version comes from the German Joe Miller, Pauli's Schimpf und Ernst, No. lv, p. 46, ed. Oestetley, where see his notes. The question I have omitted exists there, and cannot have 'independently arisen'. Pauli was a fifteenth-century worthy or unworthy.
REMARKS Riddles were once on a time serious things to meddle with, as witness Samson and the Sphynx, and other instances duly noted with his customary erudition by Prof. Child in his comments on the ballad, English and Scotch Ballads, i, 403 -- 14.
73. RUSHEN COATIE
SOURCE I have concocted this English, or rather Scotch, Cinderella from the various versions given in Miss Cox's remarkable collection of 345 variants of Cinderella (Folk-Lore Society, 1892); see Parallels for an enumeration of those occurring in the British Isles. I have used Nos. 1 -- 3, 8 -- 10. I give my composite the title 'Rushen Coatie', to differentiate it from any of the Scotch variants, and for the purposes of a folk-lore experiment. If this book becomes generally used among English-speaking peoples, it may possibly reintroduce this and other tales among the folk. We should be able to trace this reintroduction by the variation in titles. I have done the same with 'Nix Nought Nothing', 'Molly Whuppie', and 'Johnny Gloke'.
PARALLELS Miss Cox's volume gives no less than 113 variants of the pure type of Cinderella -- her type A. 'Cinderella, or the Fortunate Marriage of a Despised Scullery-maid by Aid of an Animal God-mother through the Test of a Slipper' -- such might be the explanatory title of a chap-book dealing with the pure type of Cinderella. This is represented in Miss Cox's book, so far as the British Isles are concerned, by no less than seven variants, as follows: (i) Dr Blind, in Archaerlogical Review, iii, 24 -- 27, 'Ashpitell' (from neighbourhood of Glasgow). (2) A. Lang, in Revue Celtique, t. iii, reprinted in Folk-Lore, September 1890, 'Rashin Coatie' (from Morayshire). (3) Mr Gregor, in Folk-Lore Journal, ii, 72 -- 74 (from Aberdeenshire), 'The Red Calf' -- alI these in Lowland Scots. (4) Campbell, Popular Tales, No. xliii, ii, 286 seq. 'The Sharp Grey Sheep'. (5) Mr Sinclair, in Celtic Mag., xiii, 454 -- 65, 'Snow-white Maiden'. (6) Mr Macleod's variant communicated through Mr Nurt to Miss Cox's volume, p. 533; and (7) Curtin, Myths of Ireland, pp. 78 -- 92. 'Fair, Brown, and Trembling' -- these four in Gaelic, the last in Erse. To these I would add (8, 9) Chambers's two versions in Pop. Rhymes of Scotland, pp. 66 -- 68, 'Rashie coat', though Miss Cox assimilates them to Type B, Catskin; and (10) a variant of Dr Blind's version, unknown to Miss Cox, but given in 7 Notes and Queries, x, 463 (Dunbartonshire). Mr Clouston has remarks on the raven as omen-bird in his notes to Mrs Saxby's Birds of Omen in Shetland (privately printed, 1893).
ENGLISH VARIANTS OF CINDERELLA
CHAMBERS, I & II
BLIND Ill-treated heroine (by parents) Calf given by dying mother Heroine dislikes husband Ill treated heroine (by step mother) Helpful animals (red calf) Ill treated heroine by step mother (and sisters) Hen-wife aid Menial heroine Spy on heroine Heroine disguise (rashin coatie) Countertasks Helpful animal (black sheep) Slaying of helpful animal threatened Hearth abode Heroine disguise Ear cornucopia Heroine flight Helpful animal Heroine flight Spy on heroine Heroine disguise (rashin coatie) Slaying of helpful animal Menial heroine Slaying of helpful animal Menial heroine Revivified bones.
Help at grave.
Dinner cooked (by helpful animal) Fairy (aid) Old woman advice.
Task-performing animal Magic dress (given by calf) Magic dresses Magic dresses Meeting place (church) Meeting place (church) Meeting place (church) Meeting place (church) Dresses (not magic) Flight Flight threefold Flight threefold Flight twofold Lost shoe Lost shoe Lost shoe Lost shoe Shoe marriage test Shoe marriage test Shoe marriage test Shoe marriage test Mutilated foot (housewife's daughter) Mutilated foot Mutilated foot Mutilated foot Bird witness False bride False bride False bride Happy marriage Bird witness Bird witness Bird witness (raven) House for red calf Happy marriage Happy marriage Happy marriage
REMARKS In going over these various versions, the first and perhaps most striking thing that comes out is the substantial agreement of the variants in each language. The English, i.e. Scotch, variants go together; the Gaelic ones agree to differ from the English. I can best display this important agreement and difference by the accompanying two tables, which give, in parallel columns, Miss Cox's abstracts of her tabulations, in which each incident is shortly given in technical phraseology. It is practically impossible to use the long tabulations for comparative purposes without some such shorthand.
CELTIC VARIANTS OF CINDERELLA
CURTIN Heroine, daughter of sheep, kings wife Ill treated heroine (by step mother) Ill treated heroine by step mother (and sisters) Ill treated heroine (by elder sisters) Menial heroine. Menial heroine Menial heroine Helpful animal Helpful cantrips Hen-wife aid Spy on heroine Spy on heroine Magic dresses (+ starlings on shoulders) Magic dresses (honey-bird, finger and stud) Slaying of helpful animal mother Slaying of helpful animal Flight twofold Flight threefold Revivified bones Revivified bones Lost show Lost shoe Magic dresses Step-sister substitute Shoe marriage test Shoe marriage test Golden shoe gift (from hero) Heroine under washtub Mutilated foot Meeting place (feast) Meeting place (sermon) Happy marriage Happy marriage Flight threefold Flight threefold Substituted bride Substituted bride (eldest sister) Lost shoe (golden) Lost shoe Jonah heroine Jonah heroine Shoe marriage test Shoe marrage test Three reappearances Three reappearances Mutilated foot Mutilated foot Reunion Reunion False bride Villian Nemesis Bird witness Bird witness Happy marriage Happy marriage
Now, in the 'English' versions there is practical unanimity in the concluding portions of the tale. Magic dresses -- Meeting-place (Church) -- Flight -- Lost Shoe -- Shoe Marriage-test -- Mutilated foot -- False Bride -- Bird witness -- Happy Marriage, follow one another with exemplary regularity in all four (six) versions. [Chambers, II, consists entirely of these incidents] The introductory incidents vary somewhat. Chambers has evidently a maimed version of the introduction of Catskin (see No. 83). The remaining three enable us, however, to restore with some confidence the Ur-Cinderella in English somewhat as follows: Helpful animal given by dying mother -- Ill-treated heroine -- Menial heroine -- Ear cornucopia -- Spy on heroine -- Slaying by helpful animal --Tasks -- Revivified bones. I have attempted in my version to reconstruct the 'English' Cinderella according to these formulae. It will be observed that the helpful animal is helpful in two ways -- (a) in helping the heroine to perform tasks; (b) in providing her with magic dresses. It is the same with the Grimms' Aschenputtel and other Continental variants.
Turning to the Celtic variants, these divide into two sets. Campbell's and Macleod's versions are practically at one with the English formula, the latter with an important variation which will concern us later. But the other two, Curtin's and Sinclair's, one collected in Ireland, and the other in Scotland, both continue the formula with the conclusion of the Sea Maiden tale (on which see the Notes of my Celtic Fairy Tales, No. xvii). This is a specifically Celtic formula, and would seem therefore to claim Cinderella for the Celts. But the welding of the Sea Maiden ending on to the Cinderella formula is clearly a later and inartistic junction, and implies rather imperfect assimilation of the Cinderella formula. To determine the question of origin we must turn to the purer type given by the other two Celtic versions.
Campbell's tale can clearly lay no claim to represent the original type of Cinderella. The golden shoes are a gift of the hero to the heroine which destroys the whole point of the Shoe marriage test, and cannot have been in the original, wherever it originated. Mr Macleod's version, however, contains an incident which seems to bring us nearer to the original form than any version contained in Miss Cox's book. Throughout the variants it will be observed what an important function is played by the helpful animal. This in some of the versions is left as a legacy by the heroine's dying mother. But in Mr Macleod's version the helpful animal, a sheep, is the heroine's mother herself ! This is indeed an archaic touch, which seems to hark back to primitive times and totemistic beliefs. And more important still, it is a touch which vitalises the other variants in which the helpful animal is rather dragged in by the horns. Mr Nutt's lucky find at the last moment seems to throw more light on the origin of the tale than almost the whole of the remaining collection.
But does this find necessarily prove an original Celtic origin for Cinderella? Scarcely. It remains to be proved that this introductory part of the story with helpful animal was necessarily part of the original. Having regard to the feudal character underlying the whole conception, it remains possible that the earlier part was ingeniously dovetailed on to the latter from some pre-existing and more archaic tale, perhaps that represented by the Grimms' One Eye, Two Eyes, and Three Eyes. The possibility of the introduction of an archaic formula which had become a convention of folk-telling cannot be left out of account.
The 'Youngest-best' formula which occurs in Cinderella, and on which Mr Lang laid much stress in his treatment of the subject in his 'Perrault' as a survival of the old tenure of 'junior right', does not throw much light on the subject. Mr Ralston, in the Nineteenth Century, 1879, was equally unenlightening with his sun-myths.
74. KING O' CATS
SOURCE I have taken a point here and a point there from the various English versions mentioned in the next section. I have expanded the names, so as to make a jingle from the Dildrum and Doldrum of Hartland.
PARALLELS Five variants of this quaint legend have been collected in England: (1) Halliwell, Pop. Rhymes, 167, 'Molly Dixon'; (2) Choice Notes -- Folk-Lore, p. 73, 'Colman Grey'; (3) Folk--Lore Journal, ii, 22, 'King o' the Cats'; (4) Folk-Lore -- England (Gibbings), 'Johnny Reed's Cat'; (5) Hartland and Wilkinson, Lancashire Legends, p. 13, 'Dildrum Doldrum'. Sir F. Palgrave gives a Danish parallel; cf. Halliwell, l.c.
REMARKS An interesting example of the spread and development of a simple anecdote throughout England. Here again we can scarcely imagine more than a single origin for the tale which is, in its way, as weird and fantastic as E. A. Poe.
SOURCE From Scott's Minstrelsy, with touches from the other variants given by Prof. Child in his Eng. and Scotch Ballads, i, 335 -- 58.
PARALLELS Prof. Child gives no less than nine versions in his masterly edition, l.c., besides another fragment 'Burd Ellen and Young Tamlane', i, 258. He parallels the marriage of Peleus and Thetis in Apollodorus III, xiii, 5, 6, which still persists in modern Greece as a Cretan ballad.
REMARKS Prof. Child remarks that dipping into water or milk is necessary before transformation can take place, and gives examples, l.c., 338, to which may be added that of Catskin (see Notes infra). He gives as the reason why the Elf-queen would have 'ta'en out Tamlane's two grey eyne', so that henceforth he should not be able to see the fairies. Was it not rather that he should not henceforth see Burd Janet ? -- a subtle touch of jealousy. On dwelling in fairyland Mr Hartland has a monograph in his Science of Fairy Tales, pp. 161 -- 254.
76. THE STARS IN THE SKY
SOURCE Mrs Balfour's old nurse, now in New Zealand. The original is in broad Scots, which I have anglicised.
PARALLELS The tradition is widespread that at the foot of the rainbow treasure is to be found; cf. Mr John Payne's 'Sir Edward's Questing' in his Songs of Life and Death.
REMARKS The 'sell' at the end is scarcely after the manner of the folk, and various touches throughout indicate a transmission through minds tainted with culture and introspection.
SOURCE Bell's Speaker.
PARALLELS Jacques de Vitry, Exempla, ed. Crane, No. ccv, a servant being asked the news by his master returned from a pilgrimage to Compostella, says the dog is lame, and goes on to explain: 'While the dog was running near the mule, the mule kicked him and broke his own halter and ran through the house scattering the fire with his hoofs, and burning down your house with your wife.' It occurs even earlier in Alfonsi's Disciplina Clericalis, No. xxx, at beginning of the twelfth century, among the Fabliaux, and in Bebel, Werke, iii 71, whence probably it was reintroduced into England. See Prof. Crane's note ad loc.
REMARKS Almost all Alfonsi's exempla are from the East. It is characteristic that the German version finishes up with a loss of honour, the English climax being loss of fortune.
PARALLELS Mr Bullen, in his Lyrics from Elizabethan Song Books, p. 202, gives a version, 'The Marriage of the Frog and the Mouse', from T. Ravenscroft's Melismata, 1611. The nursery rhyme of the frog who would a-wooing go is clearly a variant of this, and has thus a sure pedigree of three hundred years; cf. 'Frog husband' in my List of Incidents, or notes to 'The Well of the World's End' (No. 41).
79. LITTLE BULL-CALF
SOURCE Gypsy Lore Journal, iii, one of a number of tales told 'In a Tent' to Mr John Sampson. I have respelt and euphemised the bladder.
PARALLELS The Perseus and Andromeda incident is frequent in folk-tales; see my List of Incidents sub voce 'Fight with Dragon'. 'Cheese squeezing', as a test of prowess, is also common, as in 'Jack the Giant-Killer' and elsewhere (Köhler, Jahrbuch, vii, 252).
80. THE WEE WEE MANNIE
SOURCE From Mrs Balfour's old nurse. I have again anglicised.
PARALLELS This is one of the class of accumulative stories like The Old Woman and her Pig (No. 4). The class is well represented in these isles.
81. HABETROT AND SCANTLIE MAB
SOURCE Henderson's Folk-Lore of Northern Counties, pp. 258 -- 62 of Folk-Lore Society's edition. I have abridged and to some extent rewritten.
PARALLELS This in its early part is a parallel to the Tom Tit Tot, which see. The latter part is more novel, and is best compared with the Grimms' Spinners.
REMARKS Henderson makes out of Habetrot a goddess of the spinning-wheel, but with very little authority as it seems to me.
82. OLD MOTHER WIGGLE-WAGGLE
SOURCE I have inserted into Halliwell's version one current in Mr Batten's family, except that I have substituted 'Wiggle-Waggle' for 'Slipper-Slopper'. The two versions supplement one another.
REMARKS This is a pure bit of animal satire, which might have come from a rural Jefferies with somewhat more of wit than the native writer.
SOURCE From the chap-book reprinted in Halliwell I have introduced the demand for magic dresses from Chambers's Rashie Coat, into which it had clearly been interpolated from some version of Catskin.
PARALLELS Miss Cox's admirable volume of variants of Cinderella also contains seventy-three variants of Catskin, besides thirteen 'indeterminate' ones which approximate to that type. Of these eighty-six, five exist in the British Isles, two chap-books given in Halliwell and in Dixon's Songs of English Peasantry, two by Campbell, Nos. xiv and xiva, 'The King who Wished to Marry his Daughter', and one by Kennedy's Fireside Stories, 'The Princess in the Catskins'. Goldsmith knew the story by the name of 'Catskin', as he refers to it in the Vicar. There is a fragment from Cornwall in Folk-Lore, i, App. p. 149.
REMARKS Catskin, or the Wandering Gentlewomen, now exists in English only in two chap-book ballads. But Chambers's first variant of Rashie Coat begins with the Catskin formula in a euphemised form. The full formula may be said to run in abbreviated form -- Death-bed promise -- Deceased wife's resemblance marriage test -- Unnatural father (desiring to marry his own daughter) - Helpful animal -- Counter tasks -- Magic dresses -- Heroine flight -- Heroine disguise -- Menial heroine -- Meeting-place -- Token objects named -- Threefold flight -- Lovesick prince -- Recognition ring -- Happy marriage. Of these the chap-book versions contain scarcely anything of the opening motifs. Yet they existed in England, for Miss Isabella Barclay, in a variant which Miss Cox has overlooked (Folk-Lore, i, l.c.), remembers having heard the Unnatural Father incident from a Cornish servant-girl. Campbell's two versions also contain the incident, from which one of them receives its name. One wonders in what form Mr Burchell knew Catskin, for 'he gave the [Primrose] children the Buck of Beverland, [Who knows the Buck of Beverland nowadays?] with the history of Patient Grissel, the adventures of Catskin and the Fair Rosamond's Bower' (Vicar of Wakefield, 1766, c. vi). Pity that 'Goldy' did not tell the story himself, as he had probably heard it in Ireland, where Kennedy gives a poor version in his Fireside Stories.
Yet, imperfect as the chap-book versions are, they yet retain not a few archaic touches. It is clear from them, at any rate, that the Heroine was at one time transformed into a Cat. For when the basin of water is thrown in her face she 'shakes her ears' just as a cat would. Again, before putting on her magic dresses she bathes in a pellucid pool. Now, Professor Child has pointed out in his notes on Tamlane and elsewhere (English and Scotch Ballads, i, 338; ii, 505; iii, 505) that dipping into water or milk is necessary before transformation can take place. It is clear, therefore, that Catskin was originally transformed into an animal by the spirit of her mother, also transformed into an animal. If I understand Mr Nutt rightly (Folk-Lore, iv, 135, seq.), he is inclined to think, from the evidence of the hero-tales which have the unsavoury motif of the Unnatural Father, that the original home of the story was England, where most of the hero-tales locate the incident. I would merely remark on this that there are only very slight traces of the story in these islands nowadays, while it abounds in Italy, which possesses one almost perfect version of the formula (Miss Cox, No. 142, from Sardinia).
Mr Newell, on the other hand (American Folk-Lore Journal, ii, 160), considers Catskin the earliest of the three types contained in Miss Cox's book, and considers that Cinderella was derived from this as a softening of the original. His chief reason appears to be the earlier appearance of Catskin in Straparola, [it is practically in Des Perier's Récréations, 1544.] 1550, a hundred years earlier than Cinderella in Basile, 1636. This appears to be a somewhat insufficient basis for such a conclusion. Nor is there, after all, so close a relation between the two types in their full development as to necessitate the derivation of one from the other.
84. STUPID'S CRIES
SOURCE Folk-Lore Record, iii, 152 -- 5, by the veteran Prof. Stephens. I have changed 'dog and bitch' of original to 'dog and cat', and euphemised the liver and lights.
PARALLELS Prof. Stephens gives parallels from Denmark, Germany (the Grimms' Up Riesensohn) and Ireland (Kennedy, Fireside Stories, p. 30).
85. THE LAMBTON WORM
SOURCE Henderson's Folk-Lore of Northern Counties, pp. 287 -- 9, I have rewritten, as the original was rather high falutin'.
PARALLELS Worms or dragons form the subject of the whole of the eighth chapter of Henderson. 'The Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heugh' (No. 33) also requires the milk of nine kye for its daily rations, and cow's milk is the ordinary provender of such kittle cattle (Grimms' Teut. Myth. 687), the mythological explanation being that cows = the clouds and the dragon = the storm. Jephtha vows are also frequent in folk-tales: Miss Cox gives many examples in her Cinderella, p. 511.
REMARKS Nine generations back from the last of the Lambtons, Henry Lambton, M.P., ob. 1761, reaches Sir John Lambton, Knight of Rhodes, and several instances of violent death occur in the interim. Dragons are possibly survivals into historic times of antedeluvian monsters, or reminiscences of classical legend (Perseus, etc.). Who shall say which is which, as Mr Lang would observe.
86. WISE MEN OF GOTHAM
SOURCE The chap-book contained in Mr Hazlitt's Shakesperian Jest Book, vol. iii. I have selected the incidents and modernised the spelling; otherwise the droll remains as it was told in Elizabethan times.
PARALLELS Mr Clouston's Book of Noodles is little else than a series of parallels to our droll. See my List of Incidents under the titles, 'One cheese after another', 'Hare postman', 'Not counting self', 'Drowning eels'. In most cases Mr Clouston quotes Eastern analogies.
REMARKS All countries have their special crop of fools, Boeotians among the Greeks, the people of Hums among the Persians (how appropriate !), the Schildburgers in Germany, and so on. Gotham is the English representative, and as witticisms call to mind well-known wits, so Gotham has had heaped on its head all the stupidities of the Indo-European world. For there can be little doubt that these drolls have spread from East to West. This 'Not counting self' is in the Gooroo Paramastan, the cheeses 'one after another' in M. Rivière's collection of Kabyle tales, and so on. It is indeed curious how little originality there is among mankind in the matter of stupidity. Even such an inventive genius as the late Mr Sothern had considerable difficulty in inventing a new 'sell'.
87. PRINCESS OF CANTERBURY
SOURCE I have inserted into the old chap-book version of the Four Kings of Colchester, Canterbury, &c., an incident entitled by Halliwell 'The Three Questions'.
PARALLELS The 'riddle bride wager' is a frequent incident of folk-tales (see my List of Incidents); the sleeping tabu of the latter part is not so common, though it occurs, e.g., in the Grimms' Twelve Princesses, who wear out their shoes with dancing.
Jacobs, Joseph, ed. More English Fairy Tales. New York: G. P Putnam's Sons, 1894.
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