[Ads-l] a little more on ejaculatory pop, etc.

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 16 17:11:02 EDT 2017


JL wrote:
> Have we any early documentation that "weasel" was in use to mean
> "purse" of weasel-skin or otherwise?

The excerpt below from 1854 seems to be about placing fifty dollars
into some kind of receptacle made out of weasel skin. The receptacle
is simply called a "weasel-skin".

Date: November 1854
Periodical: The New England Farmer
Volume 6
Article: The One Acre Farm Or, Cure for Hard Times by Ichabod Hoe
(For the New England Farmer)
Start Page 529, Quote Page 531, Column 1

https://books.google.com/books?id=Kq8EAAAAYAAJ&q=%22his+weasel%22#v=snippet&

[Begin excerpt]
Mr. Chapman put the "fifty" into his "weasel-skin," and left with a
"flea in his ear."
A. B. B.
[End excerpt]

Garson

JL wrote:
> Have we any early documentation that "weasel" was in use to mean "purse" of
> weasel-skin or otherwise?
>
> Cf. comparable U.S. "eelskin" = "eelskin purse."
>
> JL
>
> On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 12:43 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
> adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Peter's 1905 citation included the interesting hypothesis of a "Notes
>> and Queries" correspondent linking "Pop goes the weasel" to a
>> weasel-skin purse. Here is an earlier presentation of that linkage
>> although the sound of the clasp was not mentioned. (1869 is a late
>> date; maybe it can be pushed back.)
>>
>> Date: January 21, 1869
>> Periodical: The Cultivator & Country Gentleman
>> Quote Page 62 and 63
>> Publisher: Luther Tucker & Son, Albany, New York
>> Database: Google Books Full View
>>
>> https://books.google.com/books?id=-S0_AQAAMAAJ&q=%
>> 22weasel+skin%22#v=snippet&
>>
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> "POP GOES THE WEASEL."
>>
>> Every one has heard the tune "Pop goes the Weasel," but it is not
>> every one that knows what is meant by the phrase, or how it had its
>> origin. Most people think it a mere unmeaning chorus, like "Hey Derry
>> Down," words in which sound is consulted rather than sense.
>>
>> "Weasel" in this case has a meaning however, and as the word is
>> connected with a rather curious old country superstition, an
>> explanation may not prove uninteresting.
>>
>> Amongst the common people of the old country, there used to be a very
>> prevalent idea that a purse made of weasel-skin would never get empty,
>> and although weasel-skin purses never became very common, yet, in
>> obedience to the popular superstition, a few persons have been known
>> to carry them. But the term "weasel" or "weasel-skin," became among
>> the lower orders synonymous with purse, and was at one time in quite
>> common use. Hence, the phrase "Pop goes the Weasel," simply signifies
>> "out comes your purse." Taken in connection with the rest of the song,
>> it will be seen that the phrase has an appropriate meaning.    X
>> [End excerpt]
>>
>> Garson
>>
>> On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 11:18 AM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> > Robin Hamilton's Mudcat poster's version apparently appears in The
>> Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book (1955) and The Annotated Mother Goose (1962).
>> >
>> >
>> > I ran across an explanation published in 1905, based on the writer's
>> recollection of the 1860s, which ties together the line, "that's where the
>> money goes", with the weasel's "pop".  That explanation also includes all
>> three of Robin's verses.
>> >
>> >
>> > As I wrote in an earlier post, "that's where the money goes," was a
>> popular song in 1840s England, and the expression was frequently used
>> idiomatically and set apart in quotations.  The various versions of the
>> song recited various ways people spend or waste money, frequently
>> contrasting how poor people "waste" money on necessities and rich people
>> spend it on luxuries.
>> >
>> >
>> > The first two verses provided by Robin are similar to that song, in that
>> the first verse speaks of spending money on rice and the second verse of
>> spending money drinking at the Eagle, which was a famous pub.  The second
>> verse even borrows the line "that's where the money goes" from the earlier
>> song.
>> >
>> >
>> > A 1905 recollection of the song suggests that "pop goes the weasel"
>> refers to the sound made by the clasp on a weasel skin purse.
>> >
>> >
>> > “This phrase certainly refers to a purse made of weasel-skin, which
>> opened and closed with a snap.  The “popping of the weasel” in the song (I
>> believe a sort of music-hall ditty of the fifties) is the opening of the
>> purse, and consequent spending of money, as the context shows.  “Bang went
>> saxpence” is a verbal, not a real, parallel.”
>> >
>> >
>> > Notes and Queries, 10th S. III, June 24, 1905, page 491.
>> >
>> >
>> > To be fair, the same volume also contains other speculations, including
>> pawning (popping) a tailor's "weasel" (a tailor's tool) to get money to
>> drink at the Eagle tavern.
>> >
>> >
>> > But weasel-skin purses were, in fact, a real thing.  They were
>> considered lucky, and the superstition held that if you had a weasel skin
>> purse, you would always have at least a little money.  In the 1880s, it was
>> said that, "in Iowa and Missouri such purses are so common as to give the
>> generic name of 'weasel skin' to all manner of receptacles for coin." The
>> Daily Morning Astorian (Oregon, March 4, 1887, page 3.
>> >
>> > It is possible that the original catch-phrase from the song merely
>> related to the popping of one dancer under the arms of a couple, like a
>> weasel popping into its den.  Weasels were said, at times, to "pop" into
>> their dens.  A children's book published in 1850, for example, includes a
>> poem about a child chasing a weasel who "popped" into its den with a stolen
>> egg.
>> >
>> > "The Weasel, like thought, popped into his den.  The Boy was too big, or
>> the hole was too small, So for that time escaped they, egg, Weasel and all!"
>> >
>> > The Child's Picture and Verse Book (Commonly called Otto Speckter's
>> Fable Book - translated from German), New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1850,
>> page 196.
>> >
>> > The later use in the "Pop Goes the Weasel" song borrowed from the theme
>> and lyrics of the earlier "that's the way the money goes" song, with the
>> addition of the new tune and catch-phrase from the dance, and with the
>> added bonus of the weasel also being an allusion to a money purse.
>> >
>> > There was also an old idiom that was known at the time, "to catch a
>> weasel asleep", which related to the difficulty of catching a weasel
>> because they were so fast and restless.  And, when a weasel pops into its
>> den, it is even more difficult to catch.
>> >
>> > But whatever the original meaning, it was not necessarily obvious to
>> people at the time, as there were several early references that wondered
>> what the "weasel" was and why it popped.
>> >
>> > ________________________________
>> > From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
>> Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM>
>> > Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2017 3:57 AM
>> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
>> > Subject: Re: a little more on ejaculatory pop, etc.
>> >
>> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> > Poster:       Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM>
>> > Subject:      Re: a little more on ejaculatory pop, etc.
>> > ------------------------------------------------------------
>> -------------------
>> >
>> > An Hypothetical Reconstruction of a Three-Stanza version of =E2=80=9CPop
>> go=
>> > es the
>> > weasel=E2=80=9D.
>> >
>> > 1. The Rice:
>> >
>> > Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
>> > Half a pound of treacle,
>> > Mix it up and make it nice,
>> > Pop goes the weasel!
>> >
>> > 2. The Pub
>> >
>> > Up and down the City Road
>> > In and out of the Eagle,
>> > That's the way the money goes,
>> > Pop goes the weasel!
>> >
>> > 3. The Monkey
>> >
>> > Every night when I get home
>> > The monkey's on the table;
>> > Take a stick and knock it off,
>> > Pop goes the weasel!
>> >
>> > NOTES:
>> >
>> > The above could perhaps be described as an tentative core text.
>> >
>> > Stanza 1: Possibly the earliest extension, with the third line originally
>> > reading, =E2=80=9CThat's the way the money goes=E2=80=9D. When the Rice
>> and=
>> >  the Pub stanzas were
>> > brought together, to avoid repetition the original third line in the
>> above
>> > quatrain --  "That's the way the money goes" -- was replaced by,
>> =E2=80=9CM=
>> > ix it up and
>> > make it nice.=E2=80=9D
>> >
>> > Stanza 2: Probably originally a free-standing extension of the original
>> > catchphrase, later combined with Stanza 1.
>> >
>> > Stanza 3: The monkey is added later still, and possibly first appears in
>> > America.  Line 1 in that stanza may end either with =E2=80=9Cget
>> home=E2=80=
>> > =9D [from the Eagle,
>> > if the stanza occurs by itself] or =E2=80=9Cgo out=E2=80=9D [to the
>> Eagle, =
>> > which is the
>> > Necessary Variant when the three stanzas put together in sequence].
>> >
>> > Why no documentation to the above on my part? Well, the Opies in _The
>> Singi=
>> > ng
>> > Game_ print the Rice and Monkey stanzas (but not the Pub stanza), but
>> with =
>> > no
>> > source citations. A poster in the Mudcat forum
>> > [http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=3D3183] gives the three stanzas
>> > more-or-less as I provide them above, citing _Denslow's Mother Goose_
>> (1901=
>> > ),
>> > but curse me if I can find them there
>> > [https://www.gutenberg.org/files/18546/18546-h/18546-h.htm].
>> >
>> > Who am I supposed to believe, the Mudcat poster or my lying eyes?
>> >
>> > Anyway, I proffer the above, for what it=E2=80=99s worth, as a possible
>> sta=
>> > rting point
>> > for an exploration of the textual development of the catchphrase,
>> =E2=80=9C=
>> > Pop goes the
>> > weasel=E2=80=9D.
>> >
>> > Robin Hamilton, a.k.a. Frustrated In Darlington
>> >
>> >
>> > ------------------------------------------------------------
>> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>
>
>
>
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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