Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/230

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or peculiarity to my own county, for, as we know, these games or their variants are largely spread over many counties. Like many other branches of folklore they are not to be confined within the area of geographical or other artifical limitations. On the other hand, were we to discard everything that is to be found beyond the boundaries of one particular county, a large mass of most interesting material would be left unchronicled altogether. By these games children keep up the continuity, so to speak, of a phase of social life the value of which is only beginning to be understood. In the words of Miss Burne, “They imitate the doings of their elders; and they even keep alive in the strangest manner things practised by their elders in former generations, but long since dropped by them as foolish and idle, if not superstitious, customs. The children’s games of to-day show us, as in a mirror, the occupations and manner of life of our forefathers. They had their origin in the festive songs and dances of rustic pagandom, in the early beginnings of masque and drama, and in the obscure rites of divination and magic which attended the ancient popular assemblies.” Viewed from such a standpoint, the study of children’s games and rhymes no longer appears trivial or unworthy the attention of serious persons, and believing as I do that such a study cannot but prove not only interesting and amusing, but useful and instructive to the intelligent inquirers after the manners and customs of their fore-elders, I will now proceed to discuss in detail the various sections of the games I have been able to collect,


These are played out-of-doors by parties of boys and girls, though inasmuch as boys are very often nowadays kept distinct from the girls during play-hours, they are usually played by girls only. There is nothing, as Miss Burne says, of the game, properly so called, about them; nothing, that is to say, of winning or losing. They consist for the most part of circular dances, accompanied by songs, in which one