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I of the present collection , in which he gives the credit to Dr Furnivall. Douce, II , fol. By Davies Gilbert, 2d ed.

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The four copies of A differ but very slightly: a , b , c are broadsides, and d is evidently of that derivation, a and b are of the 17th century. There is another broadside in the Euing collection, formerly Halliwell's, No Riddles, as is well known, play an important part in popular story, and that from very remote times. Riddle-tales, which, if not so old as the oldest of these, may be carried in all likelihood some centuries beyond our era, still live in Asiatic and European tradition, and have their representatives in popular ballads. The largest class of these tales is that in which one party has to guess another's riddles, or two rivals compete in giving or guessing, under penalty in either instance of forfeiting life or some other heavy wager; an example of which is the English ballad, modern in form, of 'King John and the Abbot of Canterbury.

Thirdly, there is the tale perhaps an offshoot of an early form of the first of The Clever Lass, who wins a husband, and sometimes a crown, by guessing riddles, solving difficult but practicable problems, or matching and evading impossibilities; and of this class versions A and B of the present ballad and A-H of the following are specimens. Of the former variety are the following:. Irmer, H. A knight meets a maid on the road, dismounts, and says, "I will ask you a riddle; if you guess it, you shall be my wife.

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Zuccalmaglio, II , , No , rearranges, but adds nothing. Mittler, No , inserts three stanzas 7, 9, This version begins: "Maid, I will give you some riddles, and if you guess them will marry you. A proper conclusion not having been obtained, the former was completed by the two last stanzas of B , which are suspicious. C begins like B.

A knight rides by where two maids are sitting, one of whom salutes him, the other not. He says to the former, "I will put you three questions, and if you can answer them will marry you. Schottky, Oesterreichische Volkslieder, 2d ed. Some of the riddles occur in nearly all the versions, some in only one or two, and there is now and then a variation also in the answers. Those which are most frequent are:. A ballad translated in Ralston's Songs of the Russian People, p.


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A merchant's son drives by a garden where a girl is gathering flowers. He salutes her; she returns her thanks. Then the ballad proceeds:. Among the Gaels, both Scotch and Irish, a ballad of the same description is extremely well known. Apparently only the questions are preserved in verse, and the connection with the story made by a prose comment.

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Of these questions there is an Irish form, dated , which purports to be copied from a manuscript of the twelfth century. Fionn would marry no lady whom he could pose. Graidhne, "daughter of the king of the fifth of Ullin," answered everything he asked, and became his wife. Altogether there are thirty-two questions in the several versions. Among them are: What is blacker than the raven? There is death. What is whiter than the snow? There is the truth. The familiar ballad-knight of A , B is converted in C into an "unco knicht," who is the devil, a departure from the proper story which is found also in 2 J.

The conclusion of C ,. D belongs with C : it was given by the reciter as a colloquy between the devil and a maiden. Broadside in the Rawlinson collection, 4to, , fol. Pepys, III , 19, No Pills to Purge Melancholy, IV , , ed. Licens'd according to Order. Printed by Tho. Norris, at the L[o]oking glass on London-bridge. And sold by J. Walter, in High Holborn. In Rawlinson and Wood the first seven lines are in Roman and Italic type; the remainder being in black letter and Roman.

The Pepys copy has one line of the ballad in black letter and one line in Roman type. The Douce edition is in Roman and Italic. After 10, there is a wood-cut of the knight and the maid in a ; in b two cuts of the knight. The burden is printed by Gilbert, in the text, " Jennifer gentle and Rosemaree. As printed under the music, the burden runs,. No doubt, juniper and rosemary , simply, are meant; Gentle might possibly be for gentian.

In 2 H the burden is,. What is white as milk? C 11, D 2, What is whiter than milk? We have again, What is greener than grass?

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Wedderburn's Courtship,' A 12; What is whiter than snow? What is greener than clover? So, What is whiter than a swan? The road without dust and the tree without leaves are in 'Ein Spiel von den Freiheit,' p.

The question in German, A 4, Welches ist das trefflichste Holz? Riddle verses with little or no story sometimes fragments of ballads like D are frequent. The Traugemundslied, Uhland, I , 3, and the Spiel von den Freiheit, Fastnachtspiele, II , , have only as much story as will serve as an excuse for long strings of riddles.

Shorter pieces of the kind are Italian Kaden, Italiens Wunderhern, p. Poesie, p. Wedderburn's Courtship ,' What's higher than the tree?


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  • Communicated by Rev. Halliwell's Nursery Rhymes of England, p. Notes and Queries, 1st S. Pinkerton gave the first information concerning A , in Ancient Scotish Poems Motherwell printed the whole in the appendix to his Minstrelsy, No I. What stands as the last stanza in the broadside is now prefixed to the ballad, as having been the original burden.

    It is the only example, so far as I remember, which our ballads afford of a burden of this kind, one that is of greater extent than the stanza with which it was sung, though this kind of burden seems to have been common enough with old songs and carols. The "old copy in black letter" used for B was close to A , if not identical, and has the burden-stem at the end like A.

    A like ballad is very common in German. A man would take, or keep, a woman for his love or his wife [servant, in one case], if she would spin brown silk from oaten straw. She will do this if he will make clothes for her of the linden-leaf. Then she must bring him shears from the middle of the Rhine. But first he must build her a bridge from a single twig, etc. Dahlmann, p. Schlesische Volkslieder, p. In K , 'Wettgesang,' Meinert, p. In the Stev, or alternate song, in Landstad, p. The Graidhne whom we have seen winning Fionn for husband by guessing his riddles, p. This had the power of infecting with love any woman whose eye should light upon it: wherefore Diarmaid used to wear his cap well down.

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    Graidhne tried to make Diarmaid run away with her. But he said, "I will not go with thee. I will not take thee in softness, and I will not take thee in hardness; I will not take thee without, and I will not take thee within; I will not take thee on horseback, and I will not take thee on foot. But Graidhne found him out. She took up a position between the two sides of the door, on a buck goat, and called to him to go with her.

    For, said she, "I am not without, I am not within; I am not on foot, and I am not on a horse; and thou must go with me. The last two were written down c. In all stories of the kind, the person upon whom a task is imposed stands acquitted, if another of no less difficulty is devised which must be performed first. This preliminary may be something that is essential for the execution of the other, as in the German ballads, or equally well something that has no kind of relation to the original requisition, as in the English ballads.

    An early form of such a story is preserved in Gesta Romanorum, c. It were much to be wished that search were made for a better copy, for, as it stands, this tale is to be interpreted only by the English ballad.