DORSETSHIRE CHILDREN’S GAMES, Etc.
By J. S. Udal, F.R.Hist. Soc. (of the Inner Temple.)
HILE the late Rev. W. Barnes (better known as “the Dorset Poet,” the author of those delightful idylls of rural life which have made him the Burns of England) was lying on what proved to be his death-bed, I more than once discussed with him various matters of local folklore and antiquarian interest common to us both, an occupation in which he was ofttimes fond of indulging.
At that time he had recently, at my request, written an introduction to a contemplated work on Dorsetshire Folklore upon which I had for some time been engaged (and which I hope some day may yet see the light), and at one of these interviews he put into my hands a scrap-book of printed and manuscript folklore jottings, amongst which I found the account of several games and rhymes, with the directions or rules under which each was played by Dorsetshire children. Besides these the scrap-book contained a long letter written to Mr. Barnes early in 1874 by Mr. Amos Otis, of Yarmouth, Mass., U. S. A., a gentleman who evidently took a great interest not only in the folk-lore of New England, but in that of the old country as well, in which he acknowledged the receipt of some three or four games which the Dorset poet would seem to have sent him, and in which he pointed out the similarity to several in his own country. To these games I shall presently refer in the body of this paper. With this letter was a cutting from the Yarmouth Register of February, 1874, containing a paper contributed by Mr. Otis to that journal, in which an account of
- He died in the autumn of 1886, a period of the year at which in one of his poems he beautifully expressed a wish that it might be his lot to die.