young children, and nearly all that I have come across were applicable to the case of the mother or nurse and the infant on her knee.
The third class—the “counting-out,” or “lot” rhymes, as they are called in Dorset, were commonly used by country children as a means of selecting by chance or lot those of their number upon whom is first to fall the burden or honour of playing a disagreeable or a distinguished part in their games. I would refer those who are interested in comparing the counting-out rhymes of various countries to Mr. H. C. Bolton’s exhaustive work on the subject, called The Counting-Out Rhymes of Children (published in New York in 1888), from which I gather that variants of several of those I give here are common in the United States of America, and especially in New England; a circumstance which perhaps it is only natural to expect from the large share that Dorset is supposed to have had in contributing to the early settlers of that colony.
It is the custom in agricultural districts for boys and men to keep birds off cornfields until the seeds are up, and the stalks high enough for protection. For this purpose an old gun is sometimes provided, or sometimes “clackers,” but more often the “bird-keepers” have to depend solely upon their own vocal powers. At such times songs or rhymes sung in a loud voice are frequently indulged in, and the following, heard by a passer-by in the neighbourhood of Halstock, is given as a specimen:
“Vlee away blackie-cap,
Don’t ye hurt meäster’s crap,
While I vill my teätie-trap,
And lie down and teäk a nap.”
In the rural districts of Dorset the country folk have a great
- Called “chapping out” or “titting out” in Scotland.
- See Notes and Queries (2nd Series, vii. 313).