cottagers in their homes, and who would therefore know more of their families and their habits and modes of life than would the ordinary residents in a parish. The children, it is only reasonable to suppose, would be more likely to confide in those—although of a higher station in life—whom they frequently see about them, and would not hesitate, I think, to make some little return, such as I have suggested, to those who have shown by their actions that they take more than ordinary interest in the homes and in the lives of the poor.
The result of my experiment in my own particular district of West Dorset has been, on the whole, fairly satisfactory, and is responsible for several of the games or their variants which appear in the following pages.
When I had collected my materials the classification of them was the next difficulty, and for some time I was at a loss how to proceed on this score, but finally decided upon following that used by Miss Burne in her excellent and exhaustive work on Shropshire Folklore (the first part of which was published in 1883), and adapted it, so far as I was able, to my own materials.
Under this arrangement the games are divided into: (i.) Choral; (ii.) Dramatic; (iii.) Games of skill; (iv.) Christmas and indoor games; (v.) Rhymes, which I have again subdivided into (α) Rustic, (β) Nursery or Domestic, (γ) Counting out or “lot” rhymes; and (vi.) Riddles.
To Miss Burne also I am principally indebted for the resume of the special characteristics that belong to the first four sections at all events.
In treating of what may appear to some such a trivial subject as Children’s Games, I make no apology to an audience composed of members of the Folklore Society and their friends. They at all events see in them more than the mere idle amusements and pastimes of the day. At the same time, whilst I have omitted many games that are obviously known to be common to every county, and which are to be found in every book dealing with the subject of games, I fear I cannot claim for those I have recorded any absolute originality