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TOM TIT TOT



' What diversitie soever there be in herbs, all are shuffled up
together under the name of a sallade. Even so, upon the con-
sideration of names, I will here huddle up a gallymafry of diverse
articles.'

Of Names. MONTAIGNE, tr. FLORIO.



TOM TIT TOT

AN ESSAY ON
SAVAGE PHILOSOPHY

IN FOLK-TALE

BY
EDWARD CLODD

Sometime President of the Folk-Lore Society

Author of ' The Childhood of the World '

4 The Story of Creation,' 'Pioneers

of Evolution,' etc. etc.




LONDON
DUCKWORTH AND CO.

3 HENRIETTA STREET, W.C.
1898






Edinburgh : T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to Her Majesty



TO MY

DITH






PREFACE

THE sentence from Montaigne, which faces the
title-page of this little book, indicates its scope
and purpose.

It is based upon studies in the philosophy
of folk-tales, in the course of which a large
number of examples of curious beliefs and
customs bearing on the main incident in cer-
tain groups have been collected. Some of these
are now 'shuffled up together 1 round an old
Suffolk tale, whose vivacity and humour secure
it the first place among the ' Rumpelstiltskin '
variants with which it is classed.

Those who have had experience in the gather-
ing of materials illustrative of the several
departments of barbaric culture will appreciate
the difficulty which has been felt in making
selections that suffice to interpret the central



viii PREFACE

idea without obscuring it by a multiplicity
of examples. If the book, which is designed
mainly for popular reading, therefore makes no
pretence to exhaustiveness, it may perhaps have
the virtue of being less tedious.

E. C.

Rosemont, 19 Carleton Road,

Tufnell Park, N., April 1898.



CONTENTS

PA(JE

INTRODUCTION, .... . . 1

1. THE STORY OF TOM TIT TOT, .... 8

2. VARIANTS OF TOM TIT TOT SCOTCH, TYHOLKSK,

BASQUE, INDIAN, WELSH, . . . . 17

3. ON THE DIFFUSION OF STORIES, ... 27

4. INCIDENTAL FEATURES OF THE STORIES, . . 32

(a) Superstitions about Iron, ... 33

(>) Woman as Spinster and Farmer, . . 36

(c) The Gullible Devil, .... 47

5. BARBARIC IDEAS ABOUT NAMES, ... 53

6. MAGIC THROUGH TANGIBLE THINGS HAIR AND

NAILS, REFUSE, SALIVA, PORTRAIT, . . 57

7. MAGIC THROUGH INTANGIBLE THINGS SHADOW,

REFLECTION, NAME, ... 79



x CONTENTS

PAGE

8. TABOO, ... 114
(a) Taboo between Relatives, . 115

Euphemisms and Name Changes, . . 125

(6) Taboo on Names of Kings and Priests, . 147

(c) Taboo on Names of the Dead, . . 164

(d) Taboo on Names of Gods, . 173

9. WORDS OF POWER, . ... 192
(a) Creative Words, . . .194
(6) Mantrams, . . 198
(c) Passwords, ... .205
(d} Spells and Amulets, . .208

(e) Cure Charms, 210

10. THE NAME AND THE SOUL, . .233

APPENDIX BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE TOM TIT TOT

GROUP OF FOLK-TALES, . . ~ :'

INDEX, -'43



INTRODUCTION

IN commenting on the prominent example of the
conversion of the old epics into allegories which
is supplied by Tennyson's Idylls of the King,
whereby the legends 'lose their dream reality
without gaining the reality of ordinary life,' Mr.
Leslie Stephen remarks that 'as soon as the
genuine inhabitants of Fairyland can be inter-
preted as three virtues or three graces, they
cease to fascinate' him. With that confession
most people will agree. For alike to those who
told the story, and to their hearers, these 'in-
habitants of Fairyland' were no buckram-clad
personifications of Moralities like the characters
in the Mystery Plays of four centuries ago.
They were real dwellers in a real Wonderland,
whose limits are only those of the broad, deep
earth, and of the heavens above it. And to



.2 INTRODUCTION

convert them into vehicles of edification is not
merely to empty them of their primitive signi-
ficance, but to make vain the attempt to under-
stand the conditions which gave birth and long
renown to saga and fireside tale. In the dim
past when these were woven out of old traditions,
no sharp lines severed nature from super-nature;
troll and fairy were part of the vagaries which
seemed to make up the sum of things at whose
core it entered not the mind of man to conceive
that unbroken order might be found. Their old
mythologies, full of crude and coarse detail, were
no fables to the ancient Greeks slowly rising
above the barbaric level of ancestors on a
plane with the Gold Coast savage who believes
his medicine-man when, handing on the tradi-
tional cosmogony of the tribe, he tells how the
world was made by a big spider. The healthy-
natured child, who in many things represents the
savage stage of thinking, listens without question
to the stories of the Giant who hid his heart in
a duck's egg on an island out of harm's way, a.;
he vainly hoped ; and of Beauty and the Beast,
where the princess's curiosity led to the retrans-



INTRODUCTION 3

formation of the enchanted prince to the shape
of loathly monster.

To the secular arm, therefore, be delivered
any and every book which, catering for the
youngsters, throttles the life of the old folk-
tales with coils of explanatory notes, and heaps
on their maimed corpses the dead weight of
bibliographical appendices. Nevertheless, that
which delighted our childhood may instruct our
manhood ; and notes, appendices, and all the
gear of didactic exposition, have their place
elsewhere in helping the student, anxious to
reach the seed of fact which is covered by the
pulp of fiction. For, to effect this is to make
approach to man's thoughts and conceptions of
himself and his surroundings, to his way of
looking at things, and to explanation of his
conduct both in work and play. Hence the
folk-tale and the game are alike pressed into the
service of study of the human mind. Turn where
we may, the pastimes of children are seen to mimic
the serious pursuits of men. Their dances and
romps, their tin soldiers, guns, and trumpets, the
dolls and other apparatus of the nursery, and the



4 INTRODUCTION

strategic combats of the playground, have a high
antiquity. The game of ' Buck, buck, how many
fingers do I hold up ? ' was played in the streets
of Imperial Rome. The ancient Greek ' ostra-
kinda,"* or ' game of the shell, 1 has its counterpart
in one played among the Navajoes of New
Mexico. ' Hot cockles ' is depicted on Egyptian
wall-paintings, and a wooden toy-bird with wheels
under its wings, found in the Fay urn cemetery, is
identical with specimens in use among Yakut and
Aino children. The players of ' All Round the
Mulberry Tree ' probably represent a dance of
old round a sacred bush ; ' Green Gravel ' and
4 Jenny Jones ' are funeral games ; ' Forfeits ' are
relics of divination ; and ' Cat's Cradle ' belongs
to the string puzzles which are played all the
world over by savage and civilised.

Whether game and story embody serious ele-
ments, or are the outcome of lighter moods,
it is this trivial or earnest purpose that we
strive to reach. And, notably in the analysis
of tales, that effort has been well justified in
bringing us, often when least suspected, near
some deposit of early thought, near some guesses






INTRODUCTION 5

at a philosophy which embraces all life in a
common origin and destiny; and in putting us
into touch with instinctive feelings of the un-
cultured mind whose validity has been proved
by reason and experience.

A superficial acquaintance with folk-tales re-
veals the fact that many of them are capable
of division into a series of well-marked groups
united by a common motif, round which imagi-
nation has played, 'truth' being thus 'embodied
in a tale.' And the interest in this cardinal fea-
ture is the greater if it can be shown to contain
some primitive philosophy of things which has
expressed itself in beliefs that have ruled man's
conduct, and in rites and ceremonies which are
the ' outward and visible signs ' of the beliefs.
Several groups answer to this requirement. One
of them centres round the tale, referred to above,
of ' the Giant who had no Heart in his Body,'
variants of which have been found from India
to the Highlands, and from the Arctic seaboard
to Africa. The fundamental idea in this group
is the widespread barbaric belief in the separate-
ness of the soul or heart or strength, or whatever



6 INTRODUCTION



else is denominated the seat of life, from the
body, whose fate is nevertheless bound up with
that of the soul. In the Norse example, a
princess wooed by a giant wheedles him, in
Delilah - like fashion, into making known in
what secret place his heart is hidden. He
tells her that it is in an egg in a duck swimming
in a well in a church on an island, all which she
straightway repeats to her true love who has
stolen into the castle to rescue her. With the
aid of a number of helpful animals, a common
feature of folk-tales, the lover gets the egg, and
as he squeezes it the giant bursts to pieces.
Fantastic as all this seems, it is only the accre-
tion of varying detail round a serious belief of
which living examples are found throughout the
world. Obviously that belief lies at the base of
the argument by which Herbert Spencer, Tylor,
and others of their school show how theories of
the soul and future life were elaborated from
barbaric conceptions of the ( other self" which
quitted the body for a time in sleep and dreams
and swoons, leaving it at death to return no
more, although fitfully visiting its old haunts to



INTRODUCTION 7

help or harm the living. But more than bare
hint on these matters lies beyond the purpose of
this reference, which is designed to make easier
the passage to the significance of the central idea
of another group of folk-tales, the masterpiece
among which gives its title to this volume.



TOM TIT TOT

THE writer's interest in that group was
awakened some years ago when looking over
a bundle of old numbers of the Ipswich Journal,
in which some odds and ends of local ' notes and
queries'* were collected. Among these was the
story of ' Tom Tit Tot, 1 which, with another
story, ' Cap o 1 Rushes "* (in this the King Lear
incident of testing the love of the three daughters
is the motif) had been sent to Mr. Hindes
Groome, the editor of the ' notes and queries '
column, by a lady to whom they had been told
in her girlhood by an old West Suffolk nurse.
Much of their value lies in their being almost
certainly derived from oral transmission through
uncultured peasants. The story of 'Tom Tit



TOMTITTOT 9

Tot," given in the racy dialect of East Anglia,
is as follows :

Well, once upon a time there were a woman and
she baked five pies. And when they come out of
the oven, they was that overbaked, the crust were
too hard to eat. So she says to her darter

1 Maw'r/ J says she, ' put you them there pies on
the shelf an' leave 'em there a little, an' they'll
come agin' she meant, you know, the crust 'ud
get soft.

But the gal, she says to herself, ' Well, if they'll
come agin, I'll ate 'em now.' And she set to work
and ate 'em all, first and last.

] The local pronunciation of ' mawther, ' which, remarks Nail
in his Glossary of the Dialect and Provincialisms of East Anglia
(Longmans, 1866), ' is the most curious word in the East Anglian
vocabulary.' A woman and her mawther mean a woman and
her daughter. The word is derived from the same root as
' maid ' and cognate words, upon which see Skeat's Etymological
Dictionary, s.v.

Nail gives examples of the use of mawther by Tusser and other
writers. Tusser (English Dialect Soc., editn. 1878, p. 37) speaks
of 'a sling for a moether, a bowe for a boy.' In Ben Jonson's
Alchymist, Restive says to Dame Pliant (Act iv. 7) 'Away, you
talk like a foolish mawther \ ' In the English Moor (Act iii. 1),
Richard Brome makes a playful use of the word

' P. I am a mother that do want a service.
Qu. O, thou'rt a Norfolk woman (cry thee mercy),
Where maids are mothers and mothers are maids.'

And in Blomfield's Suffolk Ballad we read

' When once a giggling maivther you,
And I a red-faced chubby boy.'

In the Gothic translation of the Gospels, Luke viii. 54, ' Maid,
arise,' is rendered 'Maur, urreis.'



10 TOM TIT TOT

Well, come supper time the woman she said,
' Goo you and git one o' them there pies. I dare
say they've came agin now/

The gal she went an' she looked, and there warn't
nothin' but the dishes. So back she come and says
she, ' Noo, they ain't come agin.'

' Not none on 'em ? ' says the mother.

' Not none on 'em,' says she.

' Well, come agin, or not come agin,' says the
woman, ' I '11 ha' one for supper.'

( But you can't, if they ain't come,' says the gal.

' But I can/ says she. ' Goo you and bring the
best of 'em.'

' Best or worst,' says the gal, ' I 've ate 'em all, and
you can't ha' one till that 's come agin.'

Well, the woman she were wholly bate, and she
took her spinnin' to the door to spin, and as she
span she sang

1 My darter ha' ate five, five pies to-day
My darter ha' ate five, five pies to-day.'

The king he were a comin' down the street an

he hard her sing, but what she sang he couldn't

hare, so he stopped and said

' What were that you was a singun of, maw'r ? '
The woman, she were ashamed to let him hare

what her darter had been a doin', so she sang, 'stids

o' that

( My darter ha' spun five, five skeins to-day
My darter ha' spun five, five skeins to-dny. '

' S'ars o' mine ! ' said the king, ' I never heerd tell
of any one as could do that.'



TOM TIT TOT 11

Then he said : ( Look you here, I want a wife,
and I '11 marry your darter. But look you here/
says he, ' 'leven months out o' the year she shall
have all the vittles she likes to eat, and all the
gownds she likes to git, and all the cumpny she
likes to hev ; but the last month o' the year she '11
ha' to spin five skeins iv'ry day, an' if she doon't, I
shall kill her.'

' All right,' says the woman : for she thowt what
a grand marriage that was. And as for them five
skeins, when te come tew, there 'd be plenty o' ways
of gettin' out of it, and likeliest, he 'd ha' forgot
about it.

Well, so they was married. An' for 'leven
months the gal had all the vittles she liked to ate,
and all the gownds she liked to git, an' all the
cumpny she liked to hev.

But when the time was gettin' oover, she began
to think about them there skeins an' to wonder if
he had 'em in mind. But not one word did he say
about 'em, an' she whoolly thowt he 'd forgot 'em.

Howsivir, the last day o' the last month, he takes
her to a room she 'd niver set eyes on afore. There
worn't nothiii' in it but a spinnin' wheel and a stool.
An' says he, ' Now, me dear, hare yow '11 be shut in
to-morrow with some vittles and some flax, and if
you hain't spun five skeins by the night, yar hid '11
goo off'.'

An' awa' he went about his business.

Well, she were that frightened. She 'd allus been
such a gatless mawther, that she didn't se much as
know how to spin, an' what were she to dew to-



12 TOM TIT TOT

morrer, with no one to come nigh her to help her.
She sat down on a stool in the kitchen, and lork !
how she did cry !

Howsivir, all on a sudden she hard a sort of a
knockin' low down on the door. She upped and
oped it, an' what should she see but a small little
black thing with a long tail. That looked up at her
right kewrious, an' that said

' What are yew a cryin' for ? '

' Wha 's that to yew ? ' says she.

' Niver yew mind/ that said, * but tell me what
you 're a cryin' for.'

1 That oon't dew me noo good if I dew/ says she.

f Yew doon't know that/ that said, an' twirled
that's tail round.

'Well/ says she, 'that oon't dew no harm, if that
doon't dew no good/ and she upped and told about
the pies an' the skeins an' everything.

' This is what I '11 dew/ says the little black thing:
'I'll come to yar winder iv'ry mornin' an' take the
flax an' bring it spun at night.'

' What 's your pay ? ' says she.

That looked out o' the corners o' that's eyes an'
that said : ' 1 '11 give you three guesses every night
to guess my name, an' if you hain't guessed it afore
the month 's up, yew shall be mine.'

Well, she thowt she'd be sure to guess that's
name afore the month was up. ' All right/ says she,
' I agree.'

' All right/ that says, an' lork ! how that twirled
that's tail.

Well, the next day, har husband he took her



TOM TIT TOT 13

inter the room, an' there was the flax an' the day's
vittles,

' Now, there 's the flax/ says he, ' an' if that ain't
spun up this night off goo yar hid.' An' then he
went out an' locked the door.

He'd hardly goon, when there was a knockin'
agin the winder.

She upped and she oped it, and there sure enough
was the little oo'd thing a settin' on the ledge.

< Where's the flax ? ' says he.

' Here te be,' says she. And she gonned it to him.

Well, come the evenin', a knockin' come agin to
the winder. She upped an' she oped it, and there
were the little oo'd thing, with five skeins of flax
on his arm.

( Here te be,' says he, an' he gonned it to her.

' Now, what 's my name ? ' says he.

' What, is that Bill ? ' says she.

f Noo, that ain't/ says he. An' he twirled his tail.

' Is that Ned ? ' says she.

' Noo, that ain't/ says he. An' he twirled his tail.

e Well, is that Mark ? ' says she.

'Noo, that ain't/ says he. An' he twirled his
tail harder, an' awa' he flew.

Well, when har husban' he come in : there was
the five skeins riddy for him. ' I see I shorn't hev
for to kill you to-night, me dare/ says he. ' Yew '11
hev yar vittles and yar flax in the mornin'/ says he,
an' away he goes.

Well, ivery day the flax an' the vittles, they was
browt, an' ivery day that there little black impet
used for to come mornin' s and evenin's. An' all



14 TOM TIT TOT

the day the mawther she set a try in' fur to think of
names to say to it when te come at night. But she
niver hot on the right one. An' as that got to-warts
the ind o' the month, the impet that began for to
look soo maliceful, an' that twirled that's tail faster
an' faster each time she gave a guess.

At last te come to the last day but one. The
impet that come at night along o' the five skeins,
an' that said

' What, hain't yew got my name yet ? '

' Is that Nicodemus ? ' says she.

' Noo, t'ain't,' that says.

1 Is that Sarnmle ? ' says she.

' Noo, t'ain't,' that says.

1 A-well, is that Methusalem ?' says she.

' Noo, t'ain't that norther,' he says.

Then that looks at her with that's eyes like a
cool o' fire, an' that says, ' Woman, there 's only
to-morrer night, an' then yar'll be mine!' An'
away te flew.

Well, she felt that horrud. Howsomediver, she
hard the king a coming along the passage. In he
came, an' when he see the five skeins, he says,
says he

' Well, me dare,' says he, e I don't see but what
yew '11 ha' your skeins ready to-morrer night as
well, an' as I reckon I shorn' t ha' to kill you, I "11
ha' supper in here to-night.' So they brought
supper, an' another stool for him, and down the
tew they sat.

Well, he hadn't eat but a mouthful or so, when
he stops and begins to laugh.



TOM TIT TOT 15

* What is it ? ' says she.

'A-why/ says he, 'I was out a-huntin' to-day,
an' I got away to a place in the wood I 'd never
seen afore. An' there was an old chalk pit. An'
I heerd a sort of a hummin', kind o'. So I got off
my hobby, an' I went right quiet to the pit, an' I
looked down. Well, what should there be but the
funniest little black thing yew iver set eyes on.
An' what was that a dewin' on, but that had a little
spinnin' wheel, an' that were a spinnin' wonnerful
fast, an' a twirlin' that's tail. An' as that span,
that sang

f Nimmy nimmy not,
My name 's Tom Tit Tot. '

Well, when the mawther heerd this, she fared as
if she could ha' jumped outer her skin for joy, but
she di'n't say a word.

Next day, that there little thing looked soo
maliceful when he come for the flax. An' when
night came, she heerd that a knockin' agin the
winder panes. She oped the winder, an' that
come right in on the ledge. That were grinnin'
from are to are, an' Oo ! tha's tail were twirlin'
round so fast.

' What's my name?' that says, as that gonned
her the skeins.

' Is that Solomon ? ' she says, pretendin' to be
afeard.

'Noo, t'ain't,' that says, an' that come fudder
inter the room.

' Well, is that Zebedee ? ' says she agin.



16 TOM TIT TOT

'Noo, t'ain't/ says the impet. An' then that
laughed an' twirled that's tail till yew cou'n't
hardly see it.

' Take time, woman/ that says ; ' next guess, an'
you're mine.' An' that stretched out that's black
hands at her.

Well, she backed a step or two, an' she looked
at it, and then she laughed out, an' says she, a
pointin' of her finger at it

' Nimmy nimmy not,
Yar name 's Tom Tit Tot. '

Well, when that hard her, that shruck awful an'
awa' that flew into the dark, an' she niver saw it
noo more.



II



VARIANTS OF TOM TIT TOT

THERE would be only profitless monotony in
printing the full texts, or even in giving abstracts,
of the numerous variants of this story which
have been collected. A list of these, with such
comment as may perchance be useful to a special
class of readers, is supplied in the Appendix. 1
Here it suffices to remark that in all of them
the plot centres round the discovery of the name
of the maleficent actor in the little drama,
and to give a summary of a few of the most
widely spread stories in which, as might be
expected, a certain variety of incident occurs.
These are chosen from Scotland, Tyrol, the
Basque provinces, and the Far East, the
variants from this last containing the funda-
1 P. 239.

B



18 VARIANTS OF TOM TIT TOT

mental idea in an entirely different plot.
To these follow a Welsh variant in which our
joy at the defeat of the demon or witch in
most of the stories is changed into sorrow for
the fairy.

The Scotch ' Whuppity Stoorie ' tells of a man
who ' gaed to a fair ae day, 1 and was never more
heard of. His widow was left with a 'sookin'
lad bairn, 1 and a sow that ' was soon to farra.'
Going to the sty one day, she saw, to her distress,
the sow ready ' to gi'e up the ghost,' and as she
sat down with her bairn and 'grat sairer than
ever she did for the loss o' her ain good man,'
there came an old woman dressed in green, who
asked what she would give her for curing the
sow. Then they 'watted thooms' on the bar-
gain, by which the woman promised to give the
green fairy anything she liked, and the sow was
thereupon made well. To the mother's dismay
the fairy then said that she would have the bairn.
c But,' said she, ' this I '11 let ye to wut, I canna
by the law we leeve on take your bairn till the
third day after this day ; and no' then, if ye can
tell me my right name.' For two days the poor



VARIANTS OF TOM TIT TOT 19

woman wandered, ' cuddlin' her bairn, 1 when, as
she came near an old quarry-hole, she heard the
'burring of a lint- wheel, and a voice lilting a
song,' and then saw the green fairy at her wheel,
4 si 'iging like ony precentor '

' Little kens our guid dame at hame
That Whuppity Stoorie is my name/

Speeding home glad-hearted, she awaited the
fairy's coming; and, being a 'jokus woman,'
pulled a long face, begging that the bairn might
be spared and the sow taken, and when this was
spurned, offering herself. ' The deil 's in the daft
jad,' quo' the fairy, ' wha in a' the earthly warld
wad ever meddle wi' the likes o' thee?' Then
the woman threw off her mask of grief, and,
making ' a curchie down to the ground,' quo' she,
4 1 might hae had the wit to ken that the likes
o' me is na fit to tie the warst shoe-strings o' the
heich and mighty princess, Whuppity Stoorie.'
' Gin a fluff o' gunpouder had come out o' the
grund, it couldna hae gart the fairy loup heicher
nor she did; syne doun she came again, dump
on her shoeheels, and, whurlin' round, she ran



20 VARIANTS OF TOM TIT TOT

down the brae, scraichin 1 for rage, like a houlet
chased wi 1 the witches/ l

In the Tyrolese story, a count, while hunting
in a forest, is suddenly confronted by a dwarf
with fiery red eyes and a beard down to his
knees, who rolls his eyes in fury, and tells the
count that he must pay for trespassing on the
mannikin's territory either with his life or the
surrender of his wife. The count pleads for
pardon, and the dwarf so far modifies his terms
as to agree that if within a month the countess
cannot find out his name, she is to be his. Then,
escorting the count to the forest bounds where
stood an ancient fir-tree, it is bargained that the
dwarf will there await the countess, who shall
have three guesses three times, nine in all. The
month expires, and she then repairs to the
rendezvous to make her first round of guesses,


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