16 May 2017
The dog and the cakes
Dogs are notorious for helping themselves to food. Be it a tasty turkey destined for a special Christmas dinner or a sandy sandwich snatched from your hand on the beach, the chances are you’ve experienced this in action.
Written by one Frederick Julian Croger (1854-1923) in 1889, 'The dog and the cakes' tells the tale of a lazy pup belonging to a little boy named Peter.
“Selfish Pete” and his companion “greedy George” decide to buy themselves some cakes as a treat. But alas! When they went to fetch a drink:
Far away that dog did slink
And played a wicked caper:
Being such a greedy pup,
And thinking he would like to sup,
He took those cakes and ate them up
And only left the paper
Dedicated to “all who are not greedy”, the song is aimed at the “young folk”. The simple melody moves in steps, making it easy to memorise and sing.
During his career, Croger described himself as a “Professor of Music”, composer and a music publisher. This song reflects this, since it bears the imprint “Published by Croger & Co., wholesale and export music publishers”.
Born in West Hackney in the East End of London, he was from a musical family. His father Thomas was an instrument maker and inventor who tragically took his own life following bankruptcy. His uncle Richard also made instruments and composed, and his brother Thomas Rodolphus was a conductor.
'The dog and the cakes' is one of a number of ditties he penned. Also on the same theme, in 1888 he wrote 'Amy and the puppy'.
Frederick Julian Croger, 'Amy and the puppy' (1888). British Library H.3450.(2.), page 2
Amy’s curly-locked dog "Tress" (or "Tressie"), plays a similar trick, helping himself to cake when her back is turned:
Amy - not suspecting “Tress” -
Ran upstairs to change her dress
And feeling full of happiness
Began to dance and caper
But while she’d gone, the greedy pup,
Who of such dainties liked to sup
With great delight did eat them up!
This song is dedicated to “Master Wilfrid & Miss Mabel Croger”, the composer’s children, and includes a charming illustration of Amy’s dismay on discovering her beloved Tress’ actions.
Illustration from Frederick Julian Croger, 'Amy and the puppy' (1888). British Library H.3450.(2.), page 3
Curator, Digital Music