Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall………………………….
My Danish friend , Ivan , calls him Humphrey Dumphrey . The two of us were discussing him several years ago . Why ? I can’t now remember ; but , that’s the kind of thing that guys discuss , I think , when they’re not talking sports , or car engines , or plumbing .
I’ve been thinking about Humphrey Dumphrey from time to time over the years . And today I got a package in the mail from Ivan . It came as a surprise . It’s a book entitled : Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales , Crown Publishers 1984 , edited by Claire Booss . She has inscribed the copy ” To Ivan , with best wishes .”
The book has stories : Norwegian , Swedish , Danish , Finnish , and Icelandic . I’ve got some reading to do . I don’t know much about Scandinavian folklore . I know a little about the Swedish tomtes ,who cause a little mischief around Christmas time , and the witches , of course , around Halloween , and Loki , the guy who had a drinking contest with another mythical creature . The other dude somehow secretly attached the end of Loki’s drinking horn to the ocean , so as much as Loki drank , thinking that this would be an easy victory , his horn wouldn’t empty . He , if he had been English , would have been flummoxed . He was beginning to lose his self-confidence , but the sneaky competitor cut him some slack and confessed the scam . He even went so far as to praise Loki for being able to empty the ocean to such a great extent . Good sport , that other guy , it seems .
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
So , it seems that Humpty Dumpty , aka. Humphrey Dumphrey , was , perhaps , a cannon before he was an egg . During the English Civil War ( 1642-49 ) , there was a stumpy cannon on the castle wall that was known as Humpty Dumpty . Maybe . Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall .
In later years , short and clumsy people were called “humpty dumpties”. Humpty dumpty was also , evidently , a kind of brandy boiled with ale during the 17th Century . Clumsy people were later called “humpty dumpties” , maybe because they got that way drinking humpty dumpty . ( See : http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/04/the-origin-of-humpty-dumpty/ )
There is one theory that old Humpty Dumpty was Richard III , and that “the wall” was his horse . I’m not buying this idea . It seems a bit too far-fetched for me ; but who knows ! At any rate , so the story goes , Humpty fell off the wall . Everybody seems to agree on that .
Old Mother Goose got her hands on Humpty after he appeared in English texts in the late 1700s . We get the common version of the nursery rhyme , ending :
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,
Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again .
Earlier versions differ , of course . Earlier lines read : Four score men , and four score more , Could not put Humpty where he was before . Wait . Let me re-think the Richard III reference again .
I’m going to fall off the wall if I find Humphrey Dumphrey in this Scandinavian folklore book I just got . One never knows about these Scandinavians . Ivan may have simply been speaking from his knowledge of Danish folklore when he mentioned Humphrey Dumphrey . Those vikings populated parts of Britain and Ireland, after all . [ irrelevant reference : See Danish Royal Egg ]. Maybe the original Humpty hung out with Hrothgar and all those guys .
Lewis Carroll mentioned Humpty Dumpty , too , in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland . His Humpty Dumpty was a tough and crusty egg . Modern nursery rhyme culture has made old Humpty into a dorky sort of a character .
I need to quit here because I’m going to try out a few recipes for that old humpty dumpty concoction and then start reading the folk & fairy tales book . I’m staying away from any walls , though , just in case , but I’ll see if I can find a copy of Louis Louie (to have The Kingsmen ready ).