Tuesday, December 12, 2006

There Was A Crooked Man

There was a crooked man,
And he walked a crooked mile.

He found a crooked sixpence,
Beside a crooked stile;

He bought a crooked cat,
Which caught a crooked mouse,

And they all lived together,
In a little crooked house.

Owing to my little accident, I am slightly off kilter at the waist. That got me to thinking about an old nursery rhyme, "There Was A Crooked Man." I had forgotten the words, but thanks to Google, I found the poem again.

Like many nursery rhymes, this one originates from English history.

According to rhymes.org.uk:
The origin of this poem originates from the English Stuart history of King Charles 1. The crooked man is reputed to be the Scottish General Sir Alexander Leslie. The General signed a Covenant securing religious and political freedom for Scotland. The 'crooked stile' referred to in "There was a crooked man" being the border between England and Scotland. 'They all lived together in a little crooked house' refers to the fact that the English and Scots had at last come to an agreement.

Who was Leslie? According to the Wikipedia:
Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven (c. 1580 - April 4, 1661), was a Scottish soldier, in Swedish service from 1605 until 1638, where he rose to the rank of Field Marshal. Alexander was the son of captain George Leslie and "a wench in Rannoch", and was a member of the family of Leslie of Balquhain.

The incident in question, the unification of English and Scots, came from one of Leslie's campaigns:

Leven eventually accepted command of the forces raised for the invasion of England, and was in consequence accused of having broken his personal oath to Charles. He rose instead to become a commander of the Scottish army from 1644 to 1646 and fought for the Solemn League and Covenant which bound both the Scottish and English parliaments together against the Royalist forces in the Three Stuart Kingdoms.


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