Little Jack Horner

Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said “What a good boy am I!”

Jack Horner Eating His Pie

The 1725 version:

Now he sings of Jacky Horner
Sitting in the Chimney-corner
Eating of a Christmas-Pie,
Putting in his thumb, Oh Fie
Putting in, Oh Fie! his Thumb
Pulling out, Oh Strange! a Plum.

Carey's Satirical Poem

Henry Carey wrote this nursery rhyme (the version of 1725) as a satirical poem. The target for his satire was Ambrose Philips, also a poet and writer. The mocking was motivated by jealousy, because Philips enjoyed being patronized by wealthy aristocrats. His poems that are sometimes called ‘infantile’ were in fact enjoyed and admired by many precisely because of their simplicity. Jack Horner, however, has been ever since associated with opportunism.

The Manor in a Pie

Another interpretation of this nursery rhyme was created in the nineteenth century. According to this, the story of Little Jack Horner is about Thomas Horner, who was a contemporary of King Henry VIII. He served blessed Richard Whiting, the head of the monastery in Glastonbury, England. Little Jack Horner With a PlumWhiting sent Horner to Henry VIII with a big Christmas pie, inside of which were hidden the deeds to twelve manors. He tried to save the monastery with this act, as Henry VIII had broken off from the Catholic Church, was closing monasteries, and seizing their properties. During the journey Horner stole one of the deeds, the deed to the manor in Mells, and afterwards became the owner of it. Even though Henry VIII got the remaining eleven manors, he didn’t spare the monastery. It was also closed down, Whiting was accused of treason and executed.

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