I'm in every one's way,|
But no one I stop;
My four horns every day
In every way play,
And my head is nailed on at the top!
There was a king met a king|
In a straight lane;
Says the king to the king,
Where have you been?
I've been in the wood,
Hunting the doe:
Pray lend me your dog,
That I may do so.
Call him, call him!
What must I call him?
Call him as you and I,
We've done both.
The cuckoo and the gowk,|
The laverock and the lark,
The twire-snipe, the weather-bleak;
How many birds is that?
/ p.142 /
The cuckoo is called a gowk in the North of England; the lark, a laverock; and the twire-snipe and weather-bleak, or weather-bleater, are the same birds.
With a round black body!
Three feet and a wooden hat;
Riddle me, riddle me, what is that|
Over the head and under the hat?
The fiddler and his wife,|
The piper and his mother,
Ate three half-cakes, three whole cakes,
And three quarters of another.
How much did each get?
There was a little green house,|
And in the little green house
There was a little brown house,
And in the little brown house
There was a little yellow house,
And in the little yellow house
There was a little white house,
And in the little white house
There was a little heart.
A flock of white sheep|
On a red hill;
Here they go, there they go,
Now they stand still!
/ p.143 /
Old Father Greybeard,|
Without tooth or tongue,
If you'll give me your finger,
I'll give you my thumb.
I'm a dull senseless blockhead, 'tis true, when I'm young,
And like old grandsire Greyberd without tooth or tongue,
But by the kind help and assistance of arts
I sometimes attain to politeness of parts:
What God never sees,|
What the king seldom sees;
What we see every day:
Read my riddle,—I pray.
Jag ser det dagligen;|
Kungen ser det sällan;
Gud ser det aldrig.
"I see it daily;
/ p.144 /
The land was white,|
The seed was black;
It'll take a good scholar
To riddle me that.
As high as a castle,|
As weak as a wastle;
And all the king's horses
Cannot pull it down.
I've seen you where you never was,|
And where you ne'er will be;
And yet you in that very same place
May still be seen by me.
Banks full, braes full,|
Though ye gather all day,
Ye'll not gather your hands full.
A hill full, a hole full,|
Ye cannot catch a bowl full.
Three words I know to be true,|
All which begin with W.
I too know them,|
And eke three which begin with M.
The calf, the goose, the bee,|
The world is ruled by these three.
/ p.145 /
A house full, a yard full,|
And ye can't catch a bowl full.
As I was going o'er London bridge,|
I heard something crack;
Not a man in all England
Can mend that!
I had a little sister,|
They called her Pretty Peep;
She wades in the waters,
Deep, deep, deep!
She climbs up the mountains,
High, high, high;
My poor little sister,
She has but one eye.
As I was going o'er yon moor of moss,|
I met a man on a gray horse;
He whipp'd and he wail'd,
I ask'd him what he ail'd;
He said he was going to his father's funeral,
Who died seven years before he was born!
As I look'd out o' my chamber window,|
I heard something fall;
I sent my maid to pick it up,
But she couldn't pick it all.
Black within, and red without,|
Four corners round about.
/ p.146 /
As I was going o'er London bridge,|
I met a drove of guinea pigs;
They were nick'd and they were nack'd,
And they were all yellow back'd.
Higher than a house, higher than a tree;|
Oh! whatever can that be?
Which weighs heavier—|
A stone of lead
Or a stone of feather?
Lilly low, lilly low, set up on an end,|
See little baby go out at town end.
At the end of my yard there is a vat,|
Four-and-twenty ladies dancing in that:
Some in green gowns, and some with blue hat:
He is a wise man who can tell me that.
Jackatawad ran over the moor,|
Never behind, but always before!
Black'm, saut'm, rough'm, glower'm, saw,|
Click'm, gatt'm, flaug'm into girnigaw.
/ p.147 /
There was a man rode through our town,|
Gray Grizzle was his name;
His saddle-bow was gilt with gold;
Three times I've named his name.
There was a man went over the Wash,|
Grizzle grey was his horse;
Bent was his saddle-bow:
I've told you his name three times,
And yet you don't know!
I am become of flesh and blood,|
As other creatures be;
Yet there's neither flesh nor blood
Doth remain in me.
I make kings that they fall out,
I make them agree;
And yet there's neither flesh nor blood
Doth remain in me.
Af kött och blod är jag upprunnen,|
Men ingen blod är i mig funnen;
Många herrar de mig bära,
Med hvassa knifvar de mig skära.
Mången har jag gifvit ära,
Mången har jag tagit af,
Mången har jag lagt i graf.
Of flesh and blood sprung am I ever;
Many I've graced right honorably:|
Rich ones many I've humble made;
Many within their grave I've laid!
Into my house came neighbour John,|
With three legs and a wooden one;
If one be taken from the same,
Then just five there will remain.
Link Lank, on a bank,|
Ten against four.
Two legs sat upon three legs,|
With four legs standing by;
Four then were drawn by ten:
Read my riddle ye can't,
However much ye try.
Over the water,|
And under the water,
And always with its head down!
As straight as a maypole,|
As little as a pin,
As bent as a bucker,
And as round as a ring.
/ p.149 /
Hitty Pitty within the wall,|
Hitty Pitty without the wall:
If you touch Hitty Pitty,
Hitty Pitty will bite you.
The first letter of our fore-fadyr,|
A worker of wax,
An I and an N;
The colour of an ass:
And what have you then?
I saw a fight the other day;|
A damsel did begin the fray.
She with her daily friend did meet,
Then standing in the open street;
She gave such hard and sturdy blows,
He bled ten gallons at the nose;
Yet neither seem to faint nor fall,
Nor gave her any abuse at all.
A water there is I must pass,|
A broader water never was;
And yet of all waters I ever did see,
To pass over with less jeopardy.
There is a bird of great renown,|
Useful in city and in town;
None work like unto him can do;
He's yellow, black, red, and green,
A very pretty bird I mean;
Yet he's both fierce and fell:
I count him wise that can this tell
/ p.150 /
As I went over Hottery Tottery,|
I looked into Harbora Lilly;
I spied a cutterell
Playing with her cambril.
I cryed, Ho, neighbour, ho!
Lend me your cue and your goe,
To shoot at yonder cutterell
Playing with her cambril,
And you shall have the curle of her loe.
As I went through my houter touter,|
Houter trouter, verly;
I see one Mr. Higamgige
Come over the hill of Parley.
But if I had my early verly,
Carly verly verly;
I would have bine met with Mr. Higamgige
Come over the hill of Parley
I have four sisters beyond the sea,|
Para-mara, dictum, domine.
And they did send four presents to me,
Partum, quartum, paradise, tempum,
Para-mara, dictum, domine!
The first it was a bird without e'er a bone;
The third it was a blanket without e'er a thread,
How can there be a bird without e'er a bone?|
Para-mara, dictum, &c.
How can there be a cherry without e'er a stone?
Partum, quartum, &c.
How can there be a blanket without e'er a thread?
When the bird's in the shell, there is no bone;
When the blanket's in the fleece, there is no thread;
O hold away from me, kind sir,|
I pray you let me be;
For I will not go to your bed,
Till you dress me dishes three:
Dishes three you must dress to me,
And I must have them a',
Before that I lie in your bed,
Either at stock or wa'.
O I must have to my supper
When the cherry is in the bloom,|
I'm sure it hath no stone;
And when the chicken is in its shell,
I'm sure it hath no bone:
The dove it is a gentle bird,
It flies without a ga',
And we shall both lie in ae bed,
And thou's lie next the wa'.
/ p.154 /
Demand. What thing is that which is more frightful the smaller it is? — R. A bridge.
Demand. Why doth an ox lie down? — R. Because he cannot sit.
Demand. How many straws go to a goose's nest? — R. None, for lack of feet.
Demand. Who slew the fourth part of the world? — Cain, when he killed his brother Abel.
Demand. What man is he that getteth his living backwards? — R. A ropemaker.
The reader will please to recollect the antiquity of these, and their curiousity, before he condemns their triviality. Let the worst be said of them, they are certainly as good as some of Shakespeare's jokes, which no doubt elicited peals of laughter from an Elizabethan audience. This may be said to be only a negative kind of recommendation, and, indeed, when we reflect on the apparent poverty of verbal humour in those days, the wonder is that it could have been so well relished. The fact must be that we often do not understand the greater part of the meaning intended to be conveyed.
To revert to the lengthened transmission of jokes, I may mention my discovery of the following in MS. Addit. 5008, in the British Museum, a journal of the time of Queen Elizabeth. The anecdote, by some means, went the round of the provincial press in 1843, as of modern composition. "On a very rainy day, a man, entering his house, was accosted by his wife in the following manner: 'Now, my dear, while you are wet, go and fetch me a bucket of water.' He obeyed, brought the water and threw it all over her, saying at the same time, 'Now, my dear, while you are wet, go and fetch another!' "