Which Chikun?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Dec 28 20:20:05 UTC 2010

Having had to seriously question my received childhood wisdom, I
decided to investigate this (via Google Books).  [My results partly
overlap Garson's; I was either slower, started later, or more
exhaustive.  I don't think he cites the 1825 no-preview hit; nor the
1832 "Discourse" by Convers Francis that his (and my) 1844 Peleg
Chandler quote apparently plagiarizes.]

"Chicken Little" is earlier than "Chicken Licken", although I cannot
tell whether the earliest "Chicken Little" story has the rhyming
names (GBooks having no previews for the early appearances); one
might suppose not.  At least one bibliographic source shows the two
equated in a book title [_A to zoo: subject access to children's
picture books_, Carolyn & Jon Lima, 1989, page 588:  "The Story of
Chicken Licken (Chicken Little)".]

Robin is only partly correct about the early (earliest?) rhyming
names in the "Chicken Licken" appearance.

Robin Hamilton wrote:
>Much of the imaginative logic of the original narrative turned on the
>assertiveness of the rhymes used to name the creatures -- Chicken Licken
>[sic], Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and finally of course Foxy
>Thus whether or not Chicken Licken Was Right, Chicken Little was assuredly
>wrong about the sky falling.  A Chicken of Very Little Brain, that one, or
>perhaps whatever few brains he had were knocked out of his head by the
>acorn, no Newton he.

Then At 12/27/2010 08:54 PM, Robin Hamilton wrote:
>Pretty sure [it's not "Chicken Lichen"], though it's a time since I
>chased this, and I no longer have my
>notes.  If I remember correctly, the story begins in mid-nineteenth century
>England, and migrates to America within a few years, where it is at first
>the proper "Licken", rhyming with "Chicken".  Then one variant introduces
>the Chicken Little version, and this gains a life of its own.
>The original, if I remember correctly, emerges from the literate Victorian
>fairy story tradition, rather than folk construction, so this should be
>fairly easy to confirm.

(1)  "Chicken licken":  1849 (earliest I saw).

      1849.  _Popular rhymes and nursery tales_.  James Orchard
Halliwell-Phillipps.  [Multiple title pages. London: John Russell
Smith, MDCCCXLIX.  Fourth edition.]  Page 31 [Full view]:

"So turkey-lurkey turned back, and walked with gander lander,
goose-loose, drake-lake, duck-luck, cock-lock, hen-len, and
chicken-licken.  And as they were going along, they met
Fox-lox."  ['Nuff said; the rest is depressing.  (The capital F
appears to be accidental; it is lower case later on the page.)]

BUT --

(2)  "Chicken Little":  1825!; definitely by 1832.  Selectively,
through 1844 --
      1825.   _The Story of Chicken Little: colored_  T. H. Carter &
Co.  16 pp. [No preview.]
      1832.  _A discourse delivered at Plymouth, Mass. Dec. 22, 1832:
in ..._.  Convers Francis.  [Metadata confirmed from Harvard
catalog.]  Page 29 [Full view]:  "To hear their harangues on the eve
of an election, one would suppose that the fable of Chicken Little
was about to become a truth, and that the sky was actually falling ..."
      1840.   _Remarkable story of Chicken Little_  W.J. Reynolds.  8
pp.  [No preview.]
      1840.   _Chicken Little. Price 12 1/2 cts. Remarkable story of
Chicken Little_  Benjamin B. Mussey, 29 Cornhill  16 pp.  [No preview.]
      1842.  _The Knickerbocker, or New-York Monthly Magazine_ Volume
19 - Page 454 (May) [Article titled "Life in Haiti".  Full
view]:  "In the words of an infantile philosopher, yclept 'Chicken
Little,' 'How can he _help_ knowing it! He sees it with his eyes and
he hears it with his ears;' and would it not be rank skepticism to
doubt such authorities?"
      1844.  [Several appearances, presumaby plagiarized from Convers
Francis of 1832; one is:] _Oration delivered before the authorities
of the city of Boston, July 4, 1844_  Peleg Whitman Chandler.  Page
29 [Full view]:  "To hear their harangues on the eve of an election,
one would suppose that the fable of Chicken Little was about to
become a truth, and that the sky was actually falling ; and so from
the statements in party newspapers we often seem to ...".

(3)  Chicken lichen:  I suspect all the hits are scanning (or
spelling correction?!) errors of "h" for "k".  Moldy.


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