Four and Twenty Tailors

DESCRIPTION: Four-and-twenty tailors chase a snail (ending in defeat); depending on the version, four-and-twenty others (blind men, young maids, auld wives) have equally unlikely adventures
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1784 (Gammar Gurton's Garland, according to Opie-Oxford2)
KEYWORDS: humorous talltale fight animal
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (9 citations):
Kinloch-BBook XIII, pp. 48-49, (no title) (1 text)
Ford-Vagabond, pp. 271-272, "Neerie Norrie" (1 text)
GreigDuncan8 1699, "Quo the Man to the Jo" (8 texts, 5 tunes)
Greig "Folk-Song in Buchan," p. 23, "The Man to the Green Joe"; Greig #14, p. 2, "The Man to the Green Joe" (2 texts)
Opie-Oxford2 495, "Four and twenty tailors" (1 text)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #90, p. 86, "(Four and twenty tailors)"
Montgomerie-ScottishNR 143, "(Four-and-twenty Highlandmen)" (1 text)
DT, TAILOR4
ADDITIONAL: W. Christie, editor, Traditional Ballad Airs (Edinburgh, 1876 (downloadable pdf by University of Edinburgh, 2007)), Vol II, pp. 192-193, "The Man to the Green Joe" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #1036
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Hey the Mantle!" (style)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
The Back o' Benachie
Quo' the Man to the Green Jo
NOTES: This is a very amorphous piece; the Digital Tradition version has very little in common with Kinloch's except the initial reference to the Hunting of the Snail, and the meters are different. There seems to be a whole genre of Improbable Scots Songs, many of which are not traditional. But there are so many references in the DT text that I imagine the piece belongs in the Index.
It is perhaps significant that the "heroes" of this alleged "adventure" are tailors, since tailors were regarded as the most feeble of all workers; see, e.g., the notes to "Benjamin Bowmaneer"; also the notes in Opie-Oxford2 trying to explain why it took nine, or four-and-twenty, or some other number of tailors to make a man. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.6
File: KinBB13

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