Fause Knight Upon the Road, The [Child 3]

DESCRIPTION: A grown man (knight, churl, demon) meets a schoolboy on the road. The schoolboy matches wits with the man, finding a defense or matching insult for each thrust, and so survives
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1827 (Motherwell, _Minstrelsy: Ancient and Modern_)
KEYWORDS: contest Devil virtue questions
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland) US(Ap,NE,SE,So) Canada(Mar) Ireland
REFERENCES (28 citations):
Child 3, "The Fause Knight Upon the Road" (3 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #8}
Bronson 3, "The Fause Knight Upon the Road" (10 versions plus 2 in addenda)
BronsonSinging 3, "The Fause Knight upon the Road" (4 versions: #1, #5, #7, #8)
Lyle-Crawfurd1 31, "The Fause Knicht" (1 text)
BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 11-14, "The False Knight Upon the Road" (1 text)
Belden, p. 4, "The False Knight Upon the Road" (1 text)
Flanders/Olney, pp. 46-47, "The False Knight on the Road" (1 text) {Bronson's #10}
Flanders-Ancient1, pp. 79-81, "The False Knight Upon the Road" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #10}
McNeil-SFB2, pp. 119-121, "The False Knight Upon the Road" (1 text, 1 tune)
Davis-Ballads 2, "The Fause Knight Upon the Road" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #4}
Davis-More 3, pp. 14-15, "The Fause Knight Upon the Road" (1 fragmentary text)
Brewster 2, "The False Knight Upon the Road" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #3}
Creighton/Senior, p. 1, "The False Knight upon the Road" (1 text plus 1 excerpt, 1 tune) {Bronson's #2}
Creighton-NovaScotia 1, "False Knight Upon the Road" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #9}
Manny/Wilson 51, "The False Knight Upon the Road" (1 text, 1 tune)
PBB 13, "Harpkin"; 14, "The False Knight Upon the Road" (2 texts)
Niles 3 "The False Knight Upon the Road" (1 text, 1 tune)
SharpAp 2 "The False Knight Upon the Road" (2 texts, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #5, #6}
Sharp/Karpeles-80E 2, "The False Knight Upon the Road" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #5}
Moore-Southwest 3, "The Fause Knicht on the Road" (1 text)
Wells, pp. 174-175, "The False Knight Upon the Road" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #5}
OBoyle 13, "The Knight On the Road" (1 text, 1 tune)
Montgomerie-ScottishNR 197, "(O, where are you going?)" (1 text)
TBB 31, "The False Knight upon the Road" (1 text)
LPound-ABS, 20, p. 48, "The False Knight" (1 text)
DT 3, FALSKNGT* FALSKNT2*
ADDITIONAL: Robert Chambers, The Popular Rhymes of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1870 ("Digitized by Google")), pp. 62-64, "The Fause Knight and the Wee Boy"; p. 66, "Harpkin"
Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #344, "The False Knight Upon the Road" (1 text);cf. the notes to #343, with "Meet-on-the-Road," evidently a literary rewrite

Roud #20
RECORDINGS:
Edmund Henneberry [and Kenneth Faulkner], "The False Knight Upon the Road" (on NovaScotia1) {Bronson's #9}
Duncan McPhee, "The False Knight Upon the Road (on FSBBAL1)
Frank Quinn, "The False Knight [Up]on the Road" (on FSB4, FSBBAL1)

ALTERNATE TITLES:
The Devil and the Schoolchild
The False Knight
The Smart Schoolboy
The Knight on the Road
NOTES: One of Child's three texts is "Harpkin," which he places in an appendix. The two are distinct in plot ("Harpkin" is apparently a contest between two rivals; "The Fause Knight" involves an innocent youth), but the form of the two is so similar that they cannot be reliably distinguished.
Bertrand Bronson discusses the original form of this ballad in "The Interdependence of Ballad Tunes and Texts" (first printed in the California Folklore Quarterly, II, 1944; see now MacEdward Leach and Tristram P. Coffin, eds, The Critics and the Ballad or Bertrand Harris The Ballad as Song (essays on ballads), University of California Press, 1969. The relevant discussion is on pages 80-82 of Leach/Coffin).
American versions of this piece can be quite degenerate. Pound's text, for instance, sounds very much like a schoolyard quarrel, except that one of the disputants is "false knight Munro." But he sounds just like a bully: "Give your lunch to my dog or I'll throw you down the well." The boy responds by throwing Munro down the well first.
In the "strange footnotes" department, this has to be one of the few ballads to have been turned into a comic book by a famous Hollywood writer. Sing Out!, volume 40, #4 (1996) contains an illustrated version "The False Knight on the Road" by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
File: C003

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