Frog went a-Courting is old. At least 500 years old. It’s theorized to be, in it’s current state, about the courtship of Queen Elizabeth and the French Duke of Anjou, though the original may have been about about Mary Stuart. If it’s actually about the Elizabethan courtship, then it’s easy to see what the “frog” part is about, but why make the queen a mouse?
The version in this post is from 1864, by Charles Bennett, who, in high Victorian fashion, appears to have been quite the tragic figure—after a prolific career, he died in poverty, at only 37 years of age, leaving behind a widow and children.
A Frog he would a-wooing go,
Whether his mother would let him or no.
Off he set with his opera-hat.
On the road he met with a Rat.
“Pray, Mr. Rat, will you go with me,
Kind Mrs. Mousey for to see?”
They soon arrived at Mousey’s hall.
They gave a loud tap, and they gave a loud call.
“Pray, Mrs. Mouse, are you within?”
“Yes, kind sirs, and sitting to spin.”
“Pray, Mrs. Mouse, now give us some beer,
That Froggy and I may have good cheer.”
(Things woefully lacking in contemporary children’s literature: drinking rats.)
“Pray, Mr. Frog, will you give us a song?
Let the subject be something that’s not very long.”
“Indeed, Mrs. Mouse,” replied the Frog,
“A cold has made me as hoarse as a hog.”
“Since you have caught cold, Mr. Frog,” Mousey said,
“I’ll sing you a song that I have just made.”
As they were in glee and merrymaking,
A Cat and her kittens came tumbling in.
The Cat she seized the Rat by the crown,
The kittens they pulled the little Mouse down.
This put Mr. Frog in a terrible fright,
He took up his hat, and he wished them good night.
(Also sadly neglected: terrifying kittens of death.)
As Froggy was crossing it over a brook,
A lilywhite Duck came and gobbled him up.
So here is an end of one, two, three—
The Rat, the Mouse, and little Froggy.
I love the way that the music notes end in chaos, just like the text.
You can download it all at Project Gutenberg.