: RIDDLE RHYMES
: Popular Rhymes And Nursery Tales
Eachard, a learned clergyman of the Church of England, published a work
in 1671, in which he condescends to illustrate his argument by a
reference to this celebrated history. Talking of the various modes of
preaching adopted by different sects, he proceeds in this manner: "And
whereas it has been observed that some of our clergie are sometimes over
nice in taking notice of the meer words that they find in texts, so
these are so accurate as to go to the very letters. As suppose, sir,
you are to give an exhortation to repentance upon that of St. Matthew,
'Repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand:' you must observe that
Repent is a rich word, wherein every letter exhorts us to our
duty,--Repent, R. readily, E. earnestly, P. presently, E. effectually,
N. nationally, T. thoroughly. Again, Repent Roaringly, Eagerly,
Plentifully, Heavily (because of h), Notably, Terribly. And why not,
Repent Rarely, Evenly, Prettily, Elegantly, Neatly, Tightly? And also,
why not, A apple-pasty, B bak'd it, C cut it, D divided it, E eat it, F
fought for it, G got it, &c. I had not time, sir, to look any further
into their way of preaching; but if I had, I am sure I should have found
that they have no reason to despise our church upon that account." The
worthy divine would have censured the sermon on Malt attributed to the
[Footnote 36: Observations, &c., 8vo. Lond. 1671, p. 160.]
We thus find this nursery romance descending in all its purity for
nearly two centuries. It may be even older than the time of Charles II.,
for it does not appear as a novelty in the quotation we have just given.
Be this as it may, the oldest edition I know of was printed some
half-century since by Marshall, in Aldermary Churchyard, entitled "The
Tragical Death of A. Apple-pye, who was cut in pieces and eat by
twenty-five gentlemen, with whom all little people ought to be very well
acquainted," which runs as follows:
A. apple-pye, B. bit it,
C. cut it, D, dealt it,
E. eat it, F. fought for it,
G. got it, H. had it,
J. join'd for it, K. kept it,
L. long'd for it, M. mourn'd for it,
N. nodded at it, O. open'd it,
P. peep'd in it, Q. quarter'd it,
R. ran for it, S. stole it,
T. took it, V. viewed it, W. wanted it;
X. Y. Z. and Ampersy-and,
They all wish'd for a piece in hand.
At last they every one agreed
Upon the apple-pye to feed;
But as there seem'd to be so many,
Those who were last might not have any.
Unless some method there was taken,
That every one might save their bacon.
They all agreed to stand in order
Around the apple-pye's fine border.
Take turn as they in hornbook stand,
From great A down to &,
In equal parts the pye divide,
As you may see on t'other side.
[Footnote 37: Some copies say "H. halv'd it, I.
ey'd it," and afterwards, "U. hew'd it, ... X.
crossed it, Y. yearn'd for it, and Z. put it in
his pocket, and said, Well done!"]
Then follows a woodcut of the pie, surrounded by a square of the
letters, though it is not very easy to perceive how the conditions of
the problem are to be fulfilled. The remainder of the book, a small
32mo., is occupied with "A Curious Discourse that passed between the
twenty-five letters at dinner-time,"--
Says A, give me a good large slice.
Says B, a little bit, but nice.
Says C, cut me a piece of crust.
Take it, says D, it's dry as dust.
Says E, I'll eat now fast, who will.
Says F, I vow I'll have my fill.
Says G, give it me good and great.
Says H, a little bit I hate.
Says I, I love the juice the best,
And K the very same confest.
Says L, there's nothing more I love,
Says M, it makes your teeth to move.
N noticed what the others said;
O others' plates with grief survey'd.
P praised the cook up to the life.
Q quarrel'd 'cause he'd a bad knife.
Says R, it runs short, I'm afraid.
S silent sat, and nothing said.
T thought that talking might lose time;
U understood it at meals a crime.
W wish'd there had been a quince in;
Says X, those cooks there's no convincing.
Says Y, I'll eat, let others wish.
Z sat as mute as any fish,
While Ampersy-and he licked the dish.
The manner in which a practical moral good was to be inferred from this
doggerel is not very apparent, but Mr. Marshall had a way of his own in
settling the difficulty. The finale must not be omitted: "Having
concluded their discourse and dinner together, I have nothing more to
add, but that, if my little readers are pleased with what they have
found in this book, they have nothing to do but to run to Mr. Marshall's
at No. 4, in Aldermary Churchyard, where they may have several books,
not less entertaining than this, of the same size and price. But that
you may not think I leave you too abruptly, I here present you with the
picture of the old woman who made the apple-pye you have been reading
about. She has several more in her basket, and she promises, if you are
good children, you shall never go supperless to bed while she has one
left. But as good people always ask a blessing of God before meals,
therefore, as a token that you are good, and deserve a pye, you must
learn the two following graces, the one to be said before the meals, the
other after; and the Lord's Prayer every night and morning." Two graces
and the Lord's Prayer conclude the tract.
The following alphabet or literal rhyme refers to Carr, Earl of
Somerset, the favorite of James I:
J. C. U. R.
Good Mounseir Car
About to fall;
U. R. A. K.
As most men say,
Yet that's not all.
U. O. K. P.
With a nullytye,
That shamelesse packe!
S. X. his yf (wife),
Whos shamelesse lyfe
Hath broke your backe.
MS. Sloane 1489, f. 9, vo.
A. B. C.
D. E. F. G.
H. I. J. K., if you look you'll see;
L. M. N. O. P. Q.
R. S. T. U. V. W.
X. Y. Z.
Heigh ho! my heart is low,
My mind is all on one;
It's W for I know who,
And T for my love, Tom!