Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/227

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203
DORSETSHIRE CHILDREN’S GAMES, ETC.

those games appeared, together with some interesting observations on the general subject of the folklore and children’s games of Dorsetshire and New England. At this time I had myself collected some few items of a similar nature, which I had intended to weave into the larger subject of Dorset folklore generally, but the placing of this new material at my disposal immediately decided me to form a separate chapter upon “Children’s Games and Rhymes.”

This I have now endeavoured to do under the spur of an invitation by the Folklore Society to read a paper on this subject before its members.

Although it may be true, as Mr. Otis says in the paper before mentioned, that the fairy stories, the charms, and the games that pleased the children of the Pilgrims, now delight not only the children of New England, but of Dorsetshire and many other counties in Old England; that in our out-door sports no change seems to have occurred; that ball, hail-over, hide-and-hoop, or hide-and-seek, prison, prison-bar, pitch-fork, pins, I espy, or hide-and-hoop with tag to it, bunch of maggots,[1] and many other games, have come down to the present time with little or no change from a remote antiquity; and that the same may be said of the charms, the dances, and games in which the girls take a part—still I have found no little trouble in obtaining exact information as to what the games of our country children are at the present day, and how they are played. The children nowadays seem to me to be more shy and more reluctant to afford information on the subject than they were in former days, and ofttimes when one comes suddenly upon a party of them playing at their games in a country lane or corner of a field (especially if you happen to belong to the class known as “gentry”) they will either break off their game altogether, or, if they continue it, they do so in a subdued and half-hearted kind of way that shows to you more eloquently than words that your room would be far more preferable than your company. In short, it is rapidly becoming as difficult to get satisfactory information out of children as it is to elicit by an artfully-veiled cross examina-

  1. Many of these games I think do not exist in Dorset at the present day, at all events under these names.