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There was an old woman, as I’ve heard tell,
She went to the market her eggs for to sell;
She went to the market, all on a market-day,
And she fell asleep on the king’s highway.

There came by a pedlar, whose name was Stout,
He cut her petticoats round about;
He cut her petticoats up to the knees,
Which made the old woman to shiver and freeze.

When this old woman first did wake,
She began to shiver, and she began to shake;
She began to wonder, and she began to cry —
‘Lawkamercyme, this is none of I!

‘But if it bet, as I do hope it be,
I’ve a little dog at home, and he’ll know me;
If it be I, he’ll wag his little tail,
And if it be not I, he’ll loudly bark and wail.’

Home went the little woman, all in the dark;
Up got the little dog, and he began to bark;
He began to bark, so she began to cry —
‘Lawkamercyme, this is none of I !’

– – –

From “More English Fairy Tales” – ISBN 978-1-907256-09-7

Joseph Jacob’s first volume—English Fairy Tales [1890]—did not exhaust the scanty remains of traditional English folktales. Most of the forty-four tales that appear in “More English Fairy Tales” had never before appeared in print.

Lawkamercyme (page 58) is local slang for “Lord Have Mercy on Me”. Exactly which part of England it was taken from is unfortunately unknown.

In compiling More English Fairy Tales [1894], Joseph Jacobs flouted the Florklorist’s creed, choosing to present stories that would fill children’s imaginations “with bright trains of images”. Vividly painted princesses, Pied Pipers, pots of gold, giants, speaking cats, Kings, Hoybahs, wise men, washerwomen, and more overflow from this volume, all bound by the
common threads of basic moral lessons. You might say that these are the classic fairy tales of Olde England.

Many of the tales were recorded verbatim from storytellers as was Lawkamercyme. They are by no means in an authorised form, and even touch on the “vulgar” using archaic and colloquial English. In the times following Jacob’s original printing, the literary establishment objected to the use of such archaic colloquialisms.

Becuase these tales were told for generations in a form that used these dialects and “vulgar” words for effect.  Jacobs chose to stick with the vernacular. In my opinion the traditional form makes these stories all the richer in a modern setting.

The Folklore Society of the day, considered this to be vulgar and unsuitable. Yet Jacobs, Campbell and Lang all chose to follow their hearts and put their publications to the test letting the public decide who was correct. Fortunately for us the Victorians decided for the folklorists and not the society.

More English Fairy Tales