Johnnie Cooper

DESCRIPTION: John Cooper comes home to find his wife's lover, a brewer, hidden as a pig. When John threatens to slaughter and eat the "pig" the brewer emerges and offers John enough gold and silver to retire if he were spared. He wishes his wife and her lover well.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1733 (broadside, Bodleian Douce Ballads 2(267b))
LONG DESCRIPTION: John Cooper was offered a day's work by the brewer, who ran to bed John's wife. Having forgotten his tools John returned home to find his wife had hidden the brewer as a pig in a vat. When John threatened to take an arm or leg off the "pig" the brewer, who "thought he should die by the Cooper," emerged and offered John "the keys of my silver and gold" to spare him. John wished his wife and the brewer well "for they've made a rich man o' John Cooper" so that he could retire from working.
KEYWORDS: adultery bargaining hiding gold husband lover wife
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Greig/Duncan7 1433, "Johnnie Cooper" (4 texts, 3 tunes)
Roud #7357
Bodleian, Douce Ballads 2(267b), ("Attend my masters, and listen well"), Norris, T. (London), 1711-1732; also Harding B 1(43), "The Cooper of Norfolk" or "A Jest of a Brewer and a Cooper's Wife"
NOTES [180 words]: "The Cooper of Norfolk" broadside preserves sheath and knife symbolism as in "Leesome Brand" [Child 15] and "Sheath and Knife" [Child 16] ("But she had a Trick which in some Wives are rife, She still kept a Sheath to another Man's Knife."
Child's view (Vol. V, p. 486) has "sheath and knife for mother and child" [(T579.1, "Sheath and knife as analogy for mother and unborn child"), Motif-Index of Folk-Literature revised and enlarged by Stith Thompson, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955)]. Child 16B is a clearer case for the sense of "The Cooper of Norfolk" but regarding a dead lover: "'It's I hae broken my little pen-knife That I loed dearer than my life.' ... 'It's no for the knife that my tears doun run, But it's a' for the case that my knife was kept in.'"
Wurzbach and Salz, in their rework of Thompson's analysis of Child, mention both ballads but do not consider a 'sheath and knife' motif, or T579.1, at all (Natascha Wurzbach and Simone M Salz, translator Gayna Walls, Motif Index of the Child Corpus: the Englsih and Scottish Popular Ballad (1995)). - BS
Last updated in version 2.5
File: GrD71433

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