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The Nursery Rhyme Book

[Illustration: Little Bo-Peep]




_Copyright 1897 by F. Warne & Co._


At the Ballantyne Press

[Illustration: Preface]

TO read the old Nursery Rhymes brings back queer lost memories of a
man's own childhood. One seems to see the loose floppy picture-books of
long ago, with their boldly coloured pictures. The books were tattered
and worn, and my first library consisted of a wooden box full of these
volumes. And I can remember being imprisoned for some crime in the
closet where the box was, and how my gaolers found me, happy and
impenitent, sitting on the box, with its contents all round me,

There was "Who Killed Cock Robin?" which I knew by heart before I could
read, and I learned to read (entirely "without tears") by picking out
the letters in the familiar words. I remember the Lark dressed as a
clerk, but what a clerk might be I did not ask. Other children, who are
little now, will read this book, and remember it well when they have
forgotten a great deal of history and geography. We do not know what
poets wrote the old Nursery Rhymes, but certainly some of them were
written down, or even printed, three hundred years ago. Grandmothers
have sung them to their grandchildren, and they again to theirs, for
many centuries. In Scotland an old fellow will take a child on his knee
for a ride, and sing -

"This is the way the ladies ride,
Jimp and sma', - "

a smooth ride, then a rough trot, -

"This is the way the cadgers ride.
Creels and a'!"

Such songs are sometimes not printed, but they are never forgotten.

About the people mentioned in this book: - We do not exactly know who Old
King Cole was, but King Arthur must have reigned some time about 500 to
600 A.D. As a child grows up, he will, if he is fond of poetry, read
thousands of lines about this Prince, and the Table Round where his
Knights dined, and how four weeping Queens carried him from his last
fight to Avalon, a country where the apple-trees are always in bloom.
But the reader will never forget the bag-pudding, which "the Queen next
morning fried." Her name was Guinevere, and the historian says that she
"was a true lover, and therefore made she a good end." But she had a
great deal of unhappiness in her life.

I cannot tell what King of France went up the hill with twenty thousand
men, and did nothing when he got there. But I do know who Charley was
that "loved good ale and wine," and also "loved good brandy," and was
fond of a pretty girl, "as sweet as sugar-candy." This was the banished
Prince of Wales, who tried to win back his father's kingdom more than a
hundred years ago, and gained battles, and took cities, and would have
recovered the throne if his officers had followed him. But he was as
unfortunate as he was brave, and when he had no longer a chance, perhaps
he _did_ love good ale and wine rather too dearly. As for the pretty
girls, they all ran after him, and he could not run away like Georgey
Porgey. There is plenty of poetry about Charley, as well as about King

About King Charles the First, "upon a black horse," a child will soon
hear at least as much as he can want, and perhaps his heart "will be
ready to burst," as the rhyme says, with sorrow for the unhappy King.
After he had his head cut off, "the Parliament soldiers went to the
King," that is, to his son Charles, and crowned him in his turn, but he
was thought a little too gay. Then we come to the King "who had a
daughter fair, and gave the Prince of Orange her."

There is another rhyme about him: -

"O what's the rhyme to porringer?
Ken ye the rhyme to porringer?
King James the Seventh had ae dochter,
And he gave her to an Oranger.

Ken ye how he requited him?
Ken ye how he requited him?
The lad has into England come,
And ta'en the crown in spite o' him.

The dog, he shall na keep it lang,
To flinch we'll make him fain again;
We'll hing him hie upon a tree,
And James shall have his ain again."

The truth is, that the Prince of Orange and the King's daughter fair
(really a very pretty lady, with a very ugly husband) were not at all
kind to the King, but turned him out of England. He was the grandfather
of Charley who loved good ale and wine, and who very nearly turned out
King Georgey Porgey, a German who "kissed the girls and made them cry,"
as the poet likewise says. Georgey was not a handsome King, and nobody
cared much for him; and if any poetry was made about him, it was very
bad stuff, and all the world has forgotten it. He had a son called Fred,
who was killed by a cricket-ball - an honourable death. A poem was made
when Fred died: -

"Here lies Fred,
Who was alive and is dead.
If it had been his father,
I would much rather;
If it had been his brother,
Still better than another;
If it had been his sister,
No one would have missed her;
If it had been the whole generation,
So much the better for the nation.
But as it's only Fred,
Who was alive and is dead,
Why there's no more to be said."


This poet seems to have preferred Charley, who wore a white rose in his
bonnet, and was much handsomer than Fred.

Another rhyme tells about Jim and George, and how Jim got George by the
nose. This Jim was Charley's father, and the George whom he "got by the
nose" was Georgey Porgey, the fat German. Jim was born on June 10; so
another song says -

"Of all the days that's in the year,
The Tenth of June to me's most dear,
When our White Roses will appear
To welcome Jamie the Rover."

But, somehow, George really got Jim by the nose, in spite of what the
poet says; for it does not do to believe all the history in song-books.

After these songs there is not much really useful information in the
Nursery Rhymes. Simple Simon was not Simon Fraser of Lovat, who was
sometimes on Jim's side, and sometimes on George's, till he got his head
cut off by King George. That Simon was not simple.

The Babes in the Wood you may read about here and in longer poems; for
instance, in a book called "The Ingoldsby Legends." It was their wicked
uncle who lost them in the wood, because he wanted their money. Uncles
were exceedingly bad long ago, and often smothered their nephews in the
Tower, or put out their eyes with red-hot irons. But now uncles are the
kindest people in the world, as every child knows.

About Brian O'Lin there is more than this book says: -

"Brian O'Lin had no breeches to wear;
He bought him a sheepskin to make him a pair,
The woolly side out, and the other side in:
'It's pleasant and cool,' says Brian O'Lin."

He is also called Tom o' the Lin, and seems to have been connected with
Young Tamlane, who was carried away by the Fairy Queen, and brought back
to earth by his true love. Little Jack Horner lived at a place called
Mells, in Somerset, in the time of Henry VIII. The plum he got was an
estate which had belonged to the priests. I find nobody else here about
whom history teaches us till we come to Dr. Faustus. He was _not_ "a
very good man"; that is a mistake, or the poem was written by a friend
of the Doctor's. In reality he was a wizard, and raised up Helen of Troy
from the other world, the most beautiful woman who ever was seen. Dr.
Faustus made an agreement with Bogie, who, after the Doctor had been gay
for a long time, came and carried him off in a flash of fire. You can
read about it all in several books, when you are a good deal older. Dr.
Faustus was a German, and the best play about him is by a German poet.

As to Tom the Piper's Son, he was probably the son of a Highlander, for
they were mostly on Charley's side, who was "Over the hills and far
away." Another song says -

"There was a wind, it came to me
Over the south and over the sea,
And it has blown my corn and hay
Over the hills and far away.
But though it left me bare indeed,
And blew my bonnet off my head,
There's something hid in Highland brae,
It has not blown my sword away.
Then o'er the hills and over the dales,
Over all England, and thro' Wales,
The broadsword yet shall bear the sway,
Over the hills and far away!"

Tom piped this tune, and pleased both the girls and boys.

About the two birds that sat on a stone, on the "All-Alone Stone," you
can read in a book called "The Water-Babies."

Concerning the Frog that lived in a well, and how he married a King's
daughter and was changed into a beautiful Prince, there is a fairy tale
which an industrious child ought to read. The frog in the rhyme is not
nearly so lucky.

After these rhymes there come a number of riddles, of which the answers
are given. Then there are charms, which people used to think would help
in butter-making or would cure diseases. It is not generally thought now
that they are of much use, but there can be no harm in trying. Nobody
will be burned now for saying these charms, like the poor old witches
long ago. The Queen Anne mentioned on page 172 was the sister of the
other Princess who married the Prince of Orange, and she was Charley's
aunt. She had seventeen children, and only one lived to be as old as ten
years. He was a nice boy, and had a regiment of boy-soldiers.

"Hickory Dickory Dock" is a rhyme for counting out a lot of children.
The child on whom the last word falls has to run after the others in the
game of "Tig" or "Chevy." There is another of the same kind: -

Musky Dan
Black fish
White trout
Eery, Ory
You are out."

Most of the rhymes in this part of the book are sung in games and dances
by children, and are very pretty to see and hear. They are very old,
too, and in an old book of travels in England by a Danish gentleman, he
gives one which he heard sung by children when Charles II. was king.
They still sing it in the North of Scotland.

In this collection there are nonsense songs to sing to babies to make
them fall asleep.

Bessy Bell and Mary Gray, on page 207, were two young ladies in Scotland
long ago. The plague came to Perth, where they lived, so they built a
bower in a wood, far off the town. But their lovers came to see them in
the bower, and brought the infection of the plague, and they both died.
There is a little churchyard and a ruined church in Scotland, where the
people who died of the plague, more than two hundred years ago, were
buried, and we used to believe that if the ground was stirred, the
plague would fly out again, like a yellow cloud, and kill everybody.

There is a French rhyme like "Blue-Eye Beauty" -

"_Les yeux bleus_
_Vont aux cieux._
_Les yeux gris_
_Vont à Paradis._
_Les yeux noirs_
_Vont à Purgatoire._"

None of the other rhymes seem to be anything but nonsense, and nonsense
is a very good thing in its way, especially with pictures. Any child who
likes can get Mrs. Markham's "History of England," and read about the
Jims, and Georges, and Charleys, but I scarcely think that such children
are very common. However, the facts about these famous people are told
here shortly, and if there is any more to be said about Jack and Jill, I
am sure I don't know what it is, or where the hill they sat on is to be
found in the geography books.


[Illustration: Contents]


I. _Historical_ 29

II. _Literal and Scholastic_ 41

III. _Tales_ 53

IV. _Proverbs_ 75

V. _Songs_ 85

VI. _Riddles and Paradoxes_ 121

VII. _Charms and Lullabies_ 143

VIII. _Gaffers and Gammers_ 153

IX. _Games_ 167

X. _Jingles_ 189

XI. _Love and Matrimony_ 197

XII. _Natural History_ 217

XIII. _Accumulative Stories_ 247

XIV. _Relics_ 261

_Notes_ 275

_Index of First Lines_ 279

[Illustration: Illustrations]


Frontispiece - Little Bo-Peep 4

Title-Page 5

Heading to Preface 7

Medallion - Frederic. Walliæ Princeps 12

Tailpiece to Preface 19

Heading to Contents 21

Heading to List of Illustrations 23

Title (Historical) 29

Old King Cole 31

Good King Arthur 33

Over the water to Charley 36

Title (Literal and Scholastic) 41

Great A, little a 43

A was an archer 45

When he whipped them he made them dance 48

Mistress Mary, how does your garden grow? 50

Title (Tales) 53

The man in the moon 55

There was a crooked man 57

Simple Simon met a pieman 59

He ran fourteen miles in fifteen days 61

The lion and the unicorn 62

His bullets were made of lead 64

Went to sea in a bowl 65

He used to wear a long brown coat 70

Taffy came to my house and stole a piece of beef 72

He caught fishes in other men's ditches 73

Title (Proverbs) 75

To put 'em out's the only way 77

When the wind is in the east 80

Then 'tis at the very best 81

Title (Songs) 85

There I met an old man 87

Says t'auld man tit oak tree 91

Whenever they heard they began for to dance 95

Even pigs on their hind legs would after him prance 96

So Doll and the cow danced "the Cheshire round" 97

He'll sit in a barn 101

Merry are the bells, and merry do they ring 104

He rode till he came to my Lady Mouse hall 107

Tailpiece 110

His mare fell down, and she made her will 115

Three pretty girls were in them then 118

Title (Riddles and Paradoxes) 121

I went to the wood and got it 123

Arthur O'Bower has broken his band 125

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall 129

Elizabeth, Elspeth, Betsy, and Bess 133

If all the world was apple-pie 135

The man in the wilderness asked me 137

Here am I, little jumping Joan 140

Title (Charms and Lullabies) 143

Cushy cow bonny, let down thy milk 145

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper 146

Where's the peck of pickled pepper 147

Hush-a-bye, baby 149

Home again, come again 151

Title (Gaffers and Gammers) 153

There was an old woman lived under a hill 155

She had so many children she didn't know what to do 159

He was dancing a jig 165

Title (Games) 167

There were three jovial Welshmen 169

Here comes a candle to light you to bed 174

The Five Pigs 177

Can I get there by candle-light? 183

Little Jackey shall have but a penny a day 185

This is the way the ladies ride 187

This is the way the gentlemen ride 187

This is the way the farmers ride 187

Title (Jingles) 189

Went to bed with his trousers on 191

Hey! diddle, diddle 193

The fly shall marry the humble-bee 195

Title (Love and Matrimony) 197

Jack fell down, and broke his crown 199

A little boy and a little girl lived in an alley 201

Tommy Snooks and Bessy Brooks 203

Jack Sprat could eat no fat 206

Betwixt them both, they lick'd the platter clean 207

There I met a pretty miss 209

Here comes a lusty wooer 211

Title (Natural History) 217

I sent him to the shop for a hap'orth of snuff 219

Pussy-cat, pussy-cat, where have you been? 221

Four-and-twenty tailors went to kill a snail 224

There was a piper, he'd a cow 226

A long-tail'd pig, or a short-tail'd pig 229

Dame, what makes your ducks to die? 231

Little Tom Tinker's dog 233

Pussy and I very gently will play 234

Lady bird, lady bird, fly away home 235

I had a little hen, the prettiest ever seen 237

Higgley Piggley, my black hen 238

He's under the hay-cock fast asleep 241

There I met an old man that would not say his prayers 243

She whipped him, she slashed him 245

Title (Accumulative Stories) 247

This is the house that Jack built 249

The old woman and her pig 255

Title (Relics) 261

Willy boy, Willy boy, where are you going? 263

What are little boys made of? 265

Girls and boys, come out to play 267

Daffy-down-dilly has come up to town 269

Barber, barber, shave a pig 271

Wished to leap over a high gate 273

Heading to Notes 275

Heading to Index of First Lines 279

[Illustration: The Nursery Rhyme Book · 1 · Historical]

[Illustration: Old King Cole]

OLD King Cole
Was a merry old soul,
And a merry old soul was he;
He called for his pipe,
And he called for his bowl,
And he called for his fiddlers three.

Every fiddler, he had a fiddle,
And a very fine fiddle had he;
Twee tweedle dee, tweedle dee, went the fiddlers.
Oh, there's none so rare,
As can compare
With King Cole and his fiddlers three!

[Illustration: Decoration]

WHEN good King Arthur ruled this land,
He was a goodly king;
He stole three pecks of barley-meal,
To make a bag-pudding.

A bag-pudding the king did make,
And stuff'd it well with plums:
And in it put great lumps of fat,
As big as my two thumbs.

The king and queen did eat thereof,
And noblemen beside;
And what they could not eat that night,
The queen next morning fried.


I HAD a little nut-tree, nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg and a golden pear;
The King of Spain's daughter came to visit me,
And all was because of my little nut-tree.
I skipp'd over water, I danced over sea,
And all the birds in the air couldn't catch me.

[Illustration: Decoration]

THE King of France, and four thousand men,
They drew their swords, and put them up again.

[Illustration: Decoration]

THE King of France went up the hill,
With twenty thousand men;
The King of France came down the hill,
And ne'er went up again.

[Illustration: Decoration]

PLEASE to remember
The Fifth of November.
Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

[Illustration: Over the Water to Charley]

OVER the water, and over the sea,
And over the water to Charley;
Charley loves good ale and wine,
And Charley loves good brandy,
And Charley loves a pretty girl,
As sweet as sugar-candy.

Over the water, and over the sea,
And over the water to Charley;
I'll have none of your nasty beef,
Nor I'll have none of your barley;
But I'll have some of your very best flour,

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Online LibraryAndrew LangThe nursery rhyme book → online text (page 1 of 8)