affection and veneration for the robin and the wren, and the following couplet affords proof of this:
“The robin and the wren
Are God Almighty’s cock and hen.”
To which is sometimes added:
“The martin and the swallow
Are God Almighty’s bow and arrow.”
In some parts of Dorset the poor people say:
“If ’twere not for the robin and the wran,
A spider would overcome a man.”
Children sometimes catch large white moths or “millers,” and, having interrogated them on their taking of toll of flour, make them plead guilty and condemn them in these words:
“Millery, millery, dousty poll,
How many zacks hast thee a-stole?
Vow’r-an’-twenty, an’ a peck—
Hang the miller up by’s neck”
This has been said to have reference to the unfair way in which the monkish owners of tithes exacted their dues of corn or flour; or to the exorbitant charges they made in granting permission to the people to grind their own corn at the monastery or abbey mill.
Children often catch lady-birds, and, placing them on the tips of their fingers, encourage them to fly away by the following words:
“Leädy-bird, leädy-bird, vlee away home,
Your house is a-vire, your children wull burn [roam].”
The supposed virtues of plants and flowers for purposes of weather prognostications, or for foretelling future events or fortunes, are widely known and believed in amongst our country children, and abundant scope is afforded them by the flowery hedgerows of Dorset for indulging in the harmless amusements connected with these beliefs. The kernels or pips of pomaceous fruit are often playfully shot from the thumb and forefinger, as the young folks repeat:
“Kernel, come, kernel, hop over my thumb
And tell me which way my true love will come.
East, west, north, or south,
Kernel, jump into my true love’s mouth”