A Diller, A Dollar
DESCRIPTION: "A diller, a dollar, A (ten o'clock) scholar, What makes you come so soon? You us'd to come at ten o'clock, and now you come at noon."
EARLIEST DATE: 1784 (Gammer Gurton's Garland)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Opie-Oxford2 465, "A diller, a dollar" (1 text)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #81, p. 82, "(A diller, a dollar)"
NOTES [211 words]: I know of absolutely no traditional collections of this item, and I have no idea what it means. But reading it in Baring-Gould, I remember the first two lines from somewhere, with a fragment of a tune (plus, according to Cyn Collins, West Bank Boogie, Triangle Park, 2006, there was in the Sixties and Seventies a folk music bar/club at the University of Minnesota called the "Ten O'Clock Scholar"), so I am very tentatively including the piece in the Index.
Neither the Baring-Goulds nor the Opies have any idea what this song is about. I will make a very tentative conjecture.
In the Middle Ages, "scholar" effectively meant "cleric," and clerics were expected to rise early to perform rituals at the canonical hours. So a good scholar should have been at service at (in modern terms) 6:00 and 9:00 a.m. A scholar who does not begin to work until 10:00 a.m. -- or, worse, noon -- is a poor scholar indeed. This would fit with the Opies' note that a diller is Yorkshire dialect for schoolboy who is backward in learning.
Of course, this suggestion probably requires that the piece go back before the Reformation, making it two and a half centuries old, at least, by the time it was printed in Gammer Gurton's Garland. Thus my suggestion is *very* tentative. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.5
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.