Ten Little Injuns
DESCRIPTION: Ten Indians stand in a line, one goes home and there are nine. Each disappears in a new way until only one is left. The last one lives alone until "he got married and then there were none"
AUTHOR: Septimus Winner (1868), with adaptions by Frank Green and others
EARLIEST DATE: 1868 (sheet music published by Sep. Winner of Philadelphia)
KEYWORDS: humorous Black(s) Indians(Am.)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Opie-Oxford2 376, "Ten little nigger boys went out to dine" (2 texts); 511, "Tom Brown's two little Indian boys" (1 text)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #818, pp. 304-305, "(Ten little Injuns standin' in a line)"
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #2295, p. 154, "Ten Little Injuns" (1 reference)
Bodleian, Harding B 11(1572), "Ten Little Niggers" ("Ten little niggers going out to dine"), unknown, n.d.; also Firth c.16(335), Firth b.27(94), "Ten Little Niggers"; Firth c.16(334), "Ten Little Ministers" ("Ten little ministers, sitting in a line"), unknown, 1874; also Johnson Ballads fol. 386a, "A new version of a popular song"
cf. "Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer" (counting)
cf. "Eight Little Cylinders" (counting)
cf. "Ten Little Indians" ("John Brown Had a Little Indian") (chorus)
NOTES [381 words]: Opie-Oxford2 511 is one verse "Tom Brown's two little Indian boys; One ran away, The other wouldn't stay, Tom Brown's two little Indian boys." (Opie-Oxford2 has an early date c.1744 from Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book).
The Opie-Oxford2 376 texts are "Ten little nigger boys went out to dine" and "Ten little Injuns standin' in a line."
Opie-Oxford2 376 lists the following names and publication dates of adaptations:
"Ten Little Niggers" Feb. 1869 [According to the Baring-Goulds, this is by Frank Green. The Opies say it might have been written in late 1868 - RBW]
"Ten Little Negroes" Mar. 1869
"Ten Little Darkies" June 1869
"The Ten Youthful Africans" Sep. 1869
"Ten Little Darkies" c.1870
"Ten Little Negro Boys" Dec. 1874
The things that reduce the number vary from text to text. So, for example, for the ministers of broadside Johnson Ballads fol. 386a, the last minister "was so very Low, Everybody told him they thought he'd better go." For broadside Harding B 11(1572) the last one gets married and raises a family of ten more.
Some versions, including Winner's original, share the chorus with "Ten Little Indians" ("John Brown Had a Little Indian").
See Tim Coughlan, Now Shoon the Romano Gillie, (Cardiff,2001), #165, pp. 437-441, "Yeck Bitto Rom'ni Chal Churyin ap a Ruck" ["One little Gypsy boy climbing up a tree"] [Romani-English text reported by Leland, English Gypsy Songs (1875)]. Coughlan: "Leland's informant seems to have been remarkably quick off the mark. [Septimus] Winner's original set was published in London in July 1868..... Also included by Leland is a second set from the pen of Hubert Smith .... ["Desh Tani Chavis Duriken," also quoted by Coughlan from Leland]. - BS
For more on Septimus Winner, see the notes to "Listen to the Mockingbird."
This appears to have been parodied by none other than Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), who in his report "Twelve Months in a Curatorship" wrote the following about the Wine Committee:
Tuns: 'Ten Little Nigger'
Four frantic Members of a chosen Committee!
One of them resigned, then there were three.
Three thoughtful members: they may pull us through!
One was invalided -- there there were Two.
Two tranquil members: much may yet be done!
But they never came together, so I had to work with one.- RBW
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