Children's Rhymes, Children's Games, Children's Songs, Children's Stories - A Book for Bairns and Big Folk
by Robert Ford
1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Transcriber's note:

Some text styles have been preserved by enclosing text between special characters. Italics uses underlines, small capitals uses tildes, and bold uses equal signs.





A Book for Bairns and Big Folk



Author of "Thistledown," and Editor of "Ballads of Bairnhood," "Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland" Etc., etc.

"Auld rhymes and auld chimes Gar us think on auld times" —Proverb

Paisley: Alexander Gardner Publisher to the late Queen Victoria: 1904

Second Edition


In offering to the public this collection of Children's Rhymes, Children's Games, Children's Songs, and Children's Stories—the multitudinous items of which, or such, at least, as were not living in my own memory, have been gathered with patient industry, albeit with much genuine delight, from wide and varied sources—I anticipate for the work a hearty and general welcome, alike from old and young. It is the first really sincere effort to collect in anything like ample and exclusive fashion the natural literature of the children of Scotland, and meets what has long appealed to me as decidedly a felt want. The earlier pages are occupied with a commentary, textually illustrated, on the generally puerile, but regularly fascinating Rhymes of the Nursery, the vitality and universal use of which have been at once the wonder and the puzzle of the ages. This is followed in turn by a chapter on Counting-out Rhymes, with numerous examples, home and foreign; which is succeeded, appropriately, by a section of the work embracing description of all the well-known out-door and in-door Rhyme-Games—in each case the Rhyme being given, the action being portrayed. The remaining contents the title may be left to suggest. I may only add that the Stories—including "Blue Beard," and "Jack the Giant Killer," and their fellow-narratives—ten in all—are printed verbatim from the old chapbooks once so common in the country, but now so rare as to be almost unobtainable.

Essentially a book about children and their picturesque and innocent, though often apparently meaningless, frolics, by the young in the land, I am assured, it will be received with open arms. From the "children of larger growth"—those who were once young and have delight in remembering the fact—the welcome, if less boisterous, should be not less sincere. Commend to me on all occasions the man or woman who, "with lyart haffets thin and bare," can sing with the poet—

"Och hey! gin I were young again, Ochone! gin I were young again; For chasin' bumbees owre the plain Is just an auld sang sung again."


287 Onslow Drive, Dennistoun, Glasgow.



Rhymes of the Nursery, 9

Counting-out Rhymes, 38

Children's Rhyme-Games, 55

"Merry-ma-Tanzie," 56

"The Mulberry Bush," 57

"A Dis, a Dis, a Green Grass," 58

"Looby Looby," 59

"I Dree I Droppit it," 60

"Bab at the Bowster," 61

"The Wadds," 63

"The Wadds and the Wears," 65

"The Widow of Babylon," 68

"London Bridge," 69

"The Jolly Miller," 70

"Willie Wastle," 70

"Oats and Beans and Barley," 71

"Hornie Holes," 72

"The Craw," 73

"Neevie-neevie-nick-nack," 73

"Blind Man's Buff," 74

"Water Wallflower," 75

"The Emperor Napoleon," 75

"A' the Birdies i' the Air," 76

"Through the Needle-e'e, Boys," 76

"King Henry," 77

"The Blue Bird," 78

"When I was a Young Thing," 78

"Carry my Lady to London," 79

"A, B, C," 80

"My Theerie and my Thorie," 80

"Glasgow Ships," 81

"Airlie's Green," 83

"Het Rowes and Butter Cakes," 83

"Queen Mary," 84

"Whuppity Scoorie," 85

"Hinkumbooby," 85

"Three Brethren come from Spain," 87

"Here Comes a Poor Sailor from Botany Bay," 90

"Janet Jo," 91

"The Goloshans," 94

Children's Songs and Ballads, 101

Cock Robin, 101

The Marriage of Cock Robin and Jenny Wren, 104

The North Wind, 109

Little Bo-Peep, 110

The House that Jack Built, 111

Simple Simon, 114

Old Mother Hubbard, 114

Old Mother Goose, 115

The Old Woman and her Pig, 117

A Frog he would a-wooing go, 122

The Carrion Crow, 126

My Pretty Maid, 127

Can ye Sew Cushions? 127

Hush-a-ba Birdie, Croon, 129

Dance to your Daddie, 129

Katie Beardie, 132

The Miller's Dochter, 133

Hap and Row, 133

How Dan, Dilly Dow, 134

Crowdie, 135

Whistle, whistle, Auld Wife, 136

The Three Little Pigs, 137

Cowe the Nettle early, 138

The Wren's Nest, 140

Robin Redbreast's Testament, 141

Children's Humour and Quaint Sayings, 143

Schoolroom Facts and Fancies, 163

Children's Stories, 182

Blue Beard, 184

Jack and the Bean-Stalk, 191

The Babes in the Wood, 205

Jack the Giant Killer, 210

Little Red Riding Hood, 229

Cinderella; or, the Little Glass Slipper, 233

Puss in Boots, 243

Whittington and his Cat, 249

Beauty and the Beast, 259

The Sleeping Beauty, 274


Writing on the subject of nursery rhymes more than half a century ago, the late Dr. Robert Chambers expressed regret because, as he said, "Nothing had of late been revolutionised so much as the nursery." But harking back on the period of his own childhood, he was able to say, with a feeling of satisfaction, that the young mind was then "cradled amidst the simplicities of the uninstructed intellect; and she was held to be the best nurse who had the most copious supply of song, and tale, and drollery, at all times ready to soothe and amuse her young charges. There were, it is true, some disadvantages in the system; for sometimes superstitious terrors were implanted, and little pains were taken to distinguish between what tended to foster the evil and what tended to elicit the better feelings of infantile nature. Yet the ideas which presided over the scene," he continues, "and rung through it all the day in light gabble and jocund song, were simple, often beautiful ideas, generally well expressed, and unquestionably suitable to the capacities of children.... There was no philosophy about these gentle dames; but there was generally endless kindness, and a wonderful power of keeping their little flock in good humour. It never occurred to them that children were anything but children—'Bairns are just bairns,' my old nurse would say—and they never once thought of beginning to make them men and women while still little more than able to speak." They did not; and, in the common homes of Scotland, they do not to this hour. The self-same rhymes and drollery which amused Dr. Chambers as a child are amusing and engaging the minds and exercising the faculties of children over all the land even now. I question if there is a child anywhere north of the Tweed who has not been entertained by

Brow, brow, brinkie, Ee, ee, winkie, Nose, nose, nebbie, Cheek, cheek, cherrie, Mou, mou, merry, Chin, chin, chuckie, Curry-wurry! Curry-wurry! etc.

Or the briefer formula, referring only to the brow, the eye, the nose, and the mouth, which runs:—

Chap at the door, Keek in, Lift the sneck, Walk in.

And it was only the other evening that I saw a father with his infant son on his knee, having a little hand spread out, and entertaining its owner by travelling from thumb to little finger, and repeating the old catch:—

This is the man that broke the barn, This is the man that stole the corn, This is the man that ran awa', This is the man that tell't a', And puir Pirly Winkie paid for a', paid for a'. well as its fellow-rhyme:—

This little pig went to the market, This little pig stayed at home; This little pig got roast beef, This little pig got none; This little pig cried, Squeak! squeak! I can't find my way home.

Than the nonsense rhymes and capers that have delighted the nursery life of Scotland for many generations, none, of course, could be more delectable—none more suitable. While charming the sense, they have awakened imagination and developed poetic fancy in thousands who otherwise might have blundered into old age proving stolid and uninteresting men and women. They are, for this reason, part and parcel of every properly-balanced life, and the healthy and happy mind can never let them go.

Johnny Smith, my fallow fine, Can you shoe this horse o' mine? Yes, indeed, and that I can, Just as weel as ony man. Ca' a nail into the tae, To gar the pownie climb the brae; Ca' a nail into the heel, To gar the pownie trot weel; There's a nail, and there's a brod, There's a pownie weel shod, Weel shod, weel shod, weel shod pownie.

What pleasing recollections of his own early childhood many a father has had when, sitting with his child on his knee, he has demonstrated and chanted that rude rhyme by the fireside o' nights far, as often has been the case, from the scene where he learned it! To know such is to realise one, at least, of the various reasons why the old delight in the frolics of the young.

Hush-a-by baby on the tree top, When the wind blows the cradle will rock; When the bough breaks the cradle will fall, And down will come cradle and baby and all.

This is a rhyme which "every child has joyed to hear." Its origin, as told in the records of the Boston (U.S.) Historical Society, is not more curious than beautiful and significant. "Shortly after our forefathers landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts (I am quoting), a party were out in the fields where the Indian women were picking strawberries. Several of the women, or squaws as they were called, had papooses—that is babies—and, having no cradle, they had them tied up in Indian fashion and hung from the limbs of the surrounding trees. Sure enough, when the wind blew these cradles would rock! A young man of the party observing this, pulled off a piece of bark and wrote off the above words, which is believed to be the first poetry written in America." Several have curious histories.

Little Jack Horner Sat in a corner Eating his Christmas pie; He put in his thumb And pulled out a plum, And said, What a good boy am I!

Master Horner, it appears, was not a myth, but a real personage. Tradition tells that when Henry VIII. suppressed the monasteries, and drove the poor old monks from their nests, the title-deeds of the Abbey of Mells, including the sumptuous grange built by Abbot Bellwood, were demanded by the Commissioners. The Abbot of Glastonbury determined instead that he would send them to London; and, as the documents were very valuable, and the road was infested by thieves, to get them to the metropolis safely he ordered a pie to be made, as fine as ever smoked on a refectory table, inside of which the precious documents were placed, and this dainty he entrusted to a lad named Horner to carry up to London and deliver into the hands of the party for whom it was intended. But the journey was long, the day was cold, the boy was hungry, the pie was tempting, and the chances of detection, the youth presumed, were small. So he broke the crust of the pie, and behold the parchment! He pulled it forth innocently enough, wondering by what chance it could have reached there, and arrived in town. The parcel was delivered, but the title-deeds of Mells Abbey estate were missing. Jack had them in his pocket, and—now learning their value—he kept them there. These were the juiciest plums in the pie. Great was the rage of the Commissioners, heavy the vengeance they dealt out to the monks. But Jack kept his secret and the documents, and when peaceful times were restored he claimed the estates and received them. So goes the story; and it may be true. But, then, in the light of its truth, whether Master Horner deserved the title of "good boy" bestowed on him by the rhyme will be more than doubtful.

We all know the lines,

Mary had a little lamb, Its fleece was white as snow; And everywhere that Mary went, The lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day, It was against the rule, And made the children laugh and play, To see a lamb at school.

These verses were founded, it appears, on an actual circumstance, and the heroine Mary may be still living. Less than eighty years ago she was a little girl, the daughter of a farmer in Worcester County, Massachusetts, U.S. One spring her father brought a feeble lamb into the house, and Mary adopted it as her especial pet. It became so fond of her that it would follow her everywhere. One day it followed her to the village school, and, not knowing well what to do with it there, the girl put it under her desk and covered it over with her shawl. There it stayed until Mary was called up with her class to the teacher's desk to say her lesson; but then the lamb went quietly after her, and the whole school burst out laughing. Soon after, John Rollstone, a fellow-student with Mary, wrote a little rhyme commemorating the incident, and the verses went rapidly from lip to lip, giving the greatest delight to all. The lamb grew up to be a sheep, and lived many years; and when it died Mary grieved so much that her mother took some of its wool, which was "white as snow," and knitted for her a pair of stockings to wear in remembrance of her pet. Some years after, Mrs. Sarah Hall composed additional verses to those of John Rollstone, making the complete rhyme as we know it.[A] Mary took such good care of the stockings made from her lamb's fleece that when she was a grown-up woman she was able to give one of them to a church bazaar in Boston. As soon as it became known that the stocking was from the fleece of "Mary's little lamb," every one wanted a piece of it. So the stocking was unravelled, and the yarn cut into short pieces. Each piece was fastened to a card on which Mary wrote her full name, and those cards sold so well that they brought the handsome sum of L28 to the Old South Church in Boston.

[Footnote A: The following are the added lines referred to:—

And so the teacher turned him out, But still he lingered near, And waited patiently about Till Mary did appear.

And then he ran to her, and laid His head upon her arm. As if he said, "I'm not afraid, You'll shield me from all harm."

"What makes the lamb love Mary so?" The eager children cry. "Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know," The teacher did reply. ]

Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall; Not all the King's horses, nor all the King's men, Could set Humpty-Dumpty up again.

Attempts have been made to show how that was suggested by the fall of a bold bad baron who lived in the days of King John; but every child more than ten years old knows that the lines present a conundrum, the answer to which is—an egg. And yet, were it no conundrum, but only a nonsense rhyme, its fascination for the budding intellect would be no less. It is enough when, with the jingle of rhyme, the imagination, is tickled, as in

Hey diddle dumplin' my son John, Went to his bed with his trowsers on; One shoe off and the other shoe on, Hey diddle dumplin', my son John;


Cripple Dick upon a stick, And Sandy on a soo, Ride away to Galloway To buy a pund o' woo';

or yet again in—

Sing a sang o' saxpence, A baggie fu' o' rye, Four-and-twenty blackbirds, Bakit in a pie. When the pie was opened The birds began to sing; And wasna that a dainty dish To set before the King?

The King was in his counting-house Counting out his money, The Queen was in the parlour Eating bread and honey, The maid was in the garden Hanging out the clothes, When by came a blackbird And snapped aff her nose.

For such supreme nonsense no historical origin need be sought, surely. Yet part of the latter has been at least applied to a historical personage in a way that is worth recalling. Dr. H. J. Pye, who was created Poet Laureate in succession to Thomas Warton, in 1790, was, as a poet, regularly made fun of. In his New Year Odes there were perpetual references to the coming spring: and, in the dearth of more important topics, each tree and field-flower were described: and the lark, and every other bird that could be brought into rhyme, were sure to appear; and his poetical and patriotic olla podrida ultimately provoked the adaptation:—

When the Pye was opened, The birds began to sing, And was not that a dainty dish, To set before a king?

But to take the rhymes only by themselves. Action rhymes, by reason of their practical drollery, never fail to amuse. And among the very earliest practised is the following. The nurse, with the child on her knee, takes a little foot in either hand, and, making them go merrily up and down, she sings:—

This is Willie Walker, and that's Tam Sim, He ca'd him to a feast, and he ca'd him; He sticket him on the spit, and he sticket him; And he owre him, and he owre him, And he owre him, and he owre him, etc.

Then, to keep up the diversion, may follow in the same manner:—

Twa little doggies gaed to the mill, This way and that way, and this way and that way; They took a lick out o' this wife's poke, And a lick they took out o' that wife's poke, And a loup in the lade, and a dip in the dam, And hame they cam' wallopin', wallopin', wallopin', etc.


Feetikin, feetikin, When will ye gang? When the nights turn short, And the days turn lang, I'll toddle and gang, toddle and gang.

Should more active entertainment be demanded, the child will be set bold upright on one knee, and, suiting the action to the line, the rhyme will be:—

This is the way the ladies ride, Jimp and sma' jimp and sma'; This is the way the gentlemen ride, Trotting a', trotting a'; This is the way the cadgers ride, Creels and a'! creels and a'!! Creels and a'!!!

For variety's sake, on an easier swing, may follow:—

A' the nicht owre and owre, And a' the nicht owre again; A' the nicht owre and owre The peacock followed the hen.

The hen's a hungry beast, The cock is hollow within; But there's nae deceit in a puddin', A pie's a dainty thing.

A' the nicht owre and owre.—Da Capo.

Or, yet more to engage the intellect may come:—

Poussie, poussie, baudrons, Whaur ha'e ye been? I've been to London Seeing the Queen.

Poussie, poussie, baudrons, What gat ye there? I gat a good fat mousikie, Rinning up a stair.

Poussie, poussie, baudrons, What did ye wi't? I put it in my meal-poke To eat it wi' my bread.


Hushie-ba, birdie beeton, Your mammie's gane to Seaton, For to buy a lammie's skin To row your bonnie boukie in.


Bye baby, buntin', Daddie's gane a-huntin':— Mammie's gane to buy a skin, To row the baby buntin' in.

East Coast mothers sing:—

Ding dang, bell rang, Cattie's in the well, man. Fa' dang her in, man? Jean and Sandy Din, man. Fa' took her out, man? Me and Willie Cout, man. A' them that kent her When she was alive, Come to the burialie Between four and five.


Eezy ozy moolin's o' bread, Kens na whaur to lay her head, Atween the Kirkgate and the Cross There stands a bonnie white horse, It can gallop, it can trot, It can carry the mustard-pot.

And yet again:—

Willie Warstle, auld Carle, Dottered, dune, and doited bodie, Feeds his weans on calfs' lugs, Sowps o' brose, and draps o' crowdie.

In Arbroath and district, mothers, indicating the various parts of the child's anatomy as they proceed, sing:—

Brow o' knowledge, Eye o' life, Scent bottle, Penknife. Cheek cherry, Neck o' grace, Chin o' pluck— That's your face. Shoulder o' mutton, Breast o' fat, Vinegar-bottle, Mustard-pot— That's my laddie.

Touching severally the various buttons on the child's dress during its repetition, this sort of fortune-telling rhyme is common:—

A laird, a lord, A rich man, a thief, A tailor, a drummer, A stealer o' beef.

Or supposing for the nonce that the child is a piece of cooper-work, requiring to be mended, the following, accompanied by the supposed process, may be sung:—

Donald Cooper, Carle, quo' she, Can ye gird my coggie? Couthie Carline, that I can, As weel as ony bodie. There's ane about the mou' o't, And ane about the body o't, And ane about the leggen o't, And that's a girded coggie!

The next is lilted as an accompaniment to a pretended game of thumps:—

Bontin's man To the town ran; He coffed and sold, And a penny down told; The kirk was ane, and the choir was twa, And a great muckle thump doon aboon a', Doon aboon a', doon aboon a'.

The following (as Dr. Chambers remarks) explains its own theatrical character:—

I got a little manikin, I set him on my thoomiken; I saddled him, I bridled him, I sent him to the tooniken: I coffed a pair o' garters to tie his little hosiken; I coffed a pocket-napkin to dight his little nosiken; I sent him to the garden to fetch a pund o' sage And found him in the kitchen-neuk kissing little Madge.

While dandling the child on her knee the mother or nurse may sing:—

I had a little pony, Its name was Dapple Grey: I lent it to a lady, To ride a mile away.

She whipped it, she lashed it, She ca'd it owre the brae; I winna lend my pony mair, Though a' the ladies pray.

In the same manner the above may be followed by—

Chick! my naigie, Chick! my naigie, How many miles to Aberdaigy? Eight and eight, and other eight; Try to win there by candlelight.


Cam' ye by the kirk? Cam' ye by the steeple? Saw ye our gudeman, Riding on a ladle?

Foul fa' the bodie, Winna buy a saddle, Wearing a' his breeks, Riding on a ladle!

Or again:—

The cattie rade to Passelet, To Passelet, to Passelet, The cattie rade to Passelet, Upon a harrow-tine, O.

'Twas on a weetie Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday: 'Twas on a weetie Wednesday, I missed it aye sin syne, O.

Lighting a stick, and making it wave to and fro, so as to form a semi-circle of red fire before the child's eyes, the nurse will sing or croon:—

Dingle, dingle dousy, The cat's at the well, The dog's awa' to Musselbro' To buy the bairn a bell.

Greet, greet bairnie, And ye'se get a bell; If ye dinna greet faster, I'll keep it to mysel'.

Or again, dandling the child, the entertainment may be what some Perthshire children know well:—

Riding on a horsie, never standing still, Doun by St. Martins, and owre by Newmill, In by Guildtown and round by Cargill, Richt up Burstbane, and owre by Gallowhill, Yont by the Harelaw, and doun to Wolfhill, And that's the way to ride a horse and never stand still.

Or the universal favourite may ensue:—

Ride a Cock-Horse to Banbury Cross, To see an old woman ride on a white horse; Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, She shall have music wherever she goes.


Hey diddle diddle, The cat and the fiddle, The cow jumped over the moon; The little dog laughed, To see such sport, And the dish ran away with the spoon.

In a reposeful attitude, such rhymes as follow may be employed:—

Jack and Jill Went up the hill To fetch a pail of water; Jack fell down And broke his crown, And Jill came tumbling after.

Shoo shuggie, owre the glen, Mammie's pet, and daddie's hen.

Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool? Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full; One for the master, one for the dame, One for the little boy that lives in the lane.

Goosey, Goosey Gander, Where shall I wander? Upstairs, downstairs, And in my lady's chamber. There I met an old man Who wouldn't say his prayers, I took him by the left leg, And threw him downstairs.

Old Mother Hubbard, she went to the cupboard, To fetch her poor doggie a bone; But when she got there, the cupboard was bare, And so the poor doggie got none.

Little Polly Flinders Sat among the cinders, Warming her pretty little toes, Her mother came and caught her, And whipped her little daughter For spoiling her nice new clothes.

Tom, Tom, the piper's son, Stole a pig and away he run; Pig was eat, and Tom was beat, And Tom went roaring down the street.

Little Betty Blue Has lost her holiday shoe, Give her another To match the other, And then she will walk in two.

Three blind mice; three blind mice; See how they run; see how they run; They all ran after the farmer's wife, Who cut off their tails with a carving knife, Did ever you see such fools in your life? Three blind mice!

Mary, Mary, Quite contrairy, How does your garden grow? Silver bells, And cockle shells, And pretty-maids all in a row.

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man! Bake a cake as fast as you can; Prick it, and pat it, and mark it with T, And put it in the oven for Tommy and me.

Little Miss Muffet Sat on a tuffet, Eating her curds and whey; There came a great spider And sat down beside her, And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Jack Sprat could eat no fat, His wife could eat no lean; And so, betwixt them both, you see, They licked the platter clean.

Little Tom Tucker Sang for his supper. What shall we give him? Brown bread and butter. How shall he cut it Without any a knife? How shall he marry Without any wife?

See-saw, Margery Daw, Jenny shall have a new master; She shall have but a penny a day, Because she can't work any faster.

Roun', roun' rosie, cuppie, cuppie shell, The dog's awa' to Hamilton, to buy a new bell; If you don't tak' it, I'll tak' it to mysel', Roun', roun' rosie, cuppie, cuppie shell.

There was a little man, and he had a little gun, And his bullets were made of lead, lead, lead; He shot Johnnie Twig through the middle of his wig, And knocked it right off his head, head, head.

Hickety, pickety, my black hen, Lays eggs for gentlemen, Whiles ane, whiles twa, Whiles a bonnie black craw.

For slightly more matured wits will be provided:—

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe, She had so many children, she didn't know what to do; She gave them some broth, without any bread, And whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Doctor Foster, went to Glo'ster In a shower of rain; He stepped in a puddle, Up to the middle, And never went there again.

This is another version of one that has been given earlier:—

Ding, dong, bell, Pussy's in the well. Who put her in? Little Tommy Thin. Who pulled her out? Little Tommy Stout. What a naughty boy was that, Thus to drown poor Pussy Cat.

Little Boy Blue, come, blow your horn, The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn; Where is the boy that looks after the sheep? He's under the haycock, fast asleep!

Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief, Taffy came to my house, and stole a piece of beef; I went to Taffy's house, Taffy was not at home; Taffy came to my house, and stole a marrow-bone. I went to Taffy's house, Taffy was in bed, I took up a broomstick and flung it at his head.

The lion and the unicorn Fighting for the crown; Up jumps a wee dog And knocks them both down. Some got white bread, And some got brown: But the lion beat the unicorn All round the town.

There was a wee wifie row'd up in a blanket, Nineteen times as high as the moon; And what she did there I canna declare, For in her oxter she bure the sun.

Wee wifie, wee wifie, wee wifie, quo' I, O what are ye doin' up there so high? I'm blawin' the cauld clouds out o' the sky. Weel dune, weel dune, wee wifie, quo' I.

What ca' they you? They ca' me Tam Taits! What do ye do? I feed sheep and gaits!

Where feed they? Doun in yon bog! What eat they? Gerse and fog!

What gie they? Milk and whey! Wha sups that? Tam Taits and I!

The laverock and the lintie, The robin and the wren; Gin ye harry their nests, Ye'll never thrive again.

During a hail-storm country children sing:—

Rainy, rainy rattle-stanes, Dinna rain on me; But rain on Johnnie Groat's House, Far owre the sea.

Again, when snow is falling:—

Snaw, snaw, flee awa' Owre the hills and far awa'.

Towards the yellow-hammer, or yellow-yite—bird of beautiful plumage though it be—because it is the subject of an unaccountable superstitious notion, which credits it with drinking a drop of the devil's blood every May morning, the children of Scotland cherish no inconsiderable contempt, which finds expression in the rhyme:—

Half a puddock, half a taed, Half a yellow yorling; Drinks a drap o' the deil's blood Every May morning.

On the East Coast, when the seagulls fly inland in search of food, the children, not desiring their appearance—because probably of the old superstition that they are prone to pick out the eyes of people—cry to them:—

Seamaw, seamaw, my mither's awa' For pouther an' lead, to shoot ye dead— Pit-oo! pit-oo! pit-oo!

To the lark's song the young mind gives language, in a kindly way, thus:—

Larikie, larikie, lee! Wha'll gang up to heaven wi' me? No the lout that lies in his bed, No the doolfu' that dreeps his head.

Interpreting similarly the lapwing's cry, they retaliate with:—

Peese-weep! Peese-weep! Harry my nest, and gar me greet!

Of the cuckoo they have this common rhyme:—

The cuckoo is a bonnie bird, He sings as he flies; He brings us good tidings; He tells us no lies.

He drinks the cold water To keep his voice clear; And he'll come again In the Spring of the year.

The lady-bird, or "Leddy Lanners," is a favourite insect with children, and is employed by them to discover their future partners in life. When a boy or girl finds one, he, or she, as the case may be, places it on the palm of his, or her, hand, and repeats, until it flies off, the lines:—

Leddy, Leddy Lanners, Leddy, Leddy Lanners, Tak' up yer cloak about yer head An' flee awa' to Flann'ers; Flee ower firth, an' flee ower fell, Flee ower pool, an' rinnin' well, Flee ower hill, an' flee ower mead, Flee ower livin', flee ower dead, Flee ower corn, an' flee ower lea, Flee ower river, flee ower sea, Flee ye East, or flee ye West, Flee to the ane that loves me best.

The following rhyme, old and curious, and still not unknown to the young in Scotland and England alike, has many varieties:—

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Bless the bed that I lie on; Four posties to my bed, Six angels are outspread: Two to bottom, two to head, One to watch me while I pray, One to bear my soul away.

After the first two lines it goes sometimes:—

Four corners to my bed, Four angels round my head; One to read and one to write, Two to guard my bed at night.

And often the closing lines run:—

One to watch and two to pray, One to keep all fears away.

In an old MS. by Aubrey, in the British Museum, he states that this was a prayer regularly used by people when they went to bed. Then Ody, in his Candle in the Dark, 1656, tells that it was frequently used by old people as a charm, and was repeated three times before going to bed. Launcelot Sharpe, in his Towneley Mysteries, 1838, relates that he had often, when a boy, heard similar words used in Kent as a prayer.

Since about the time of the Crimean War—and more immediately after then than now—the children of Glasgow have shouted in the streets:—

Saw ye the Forty-Second? Saw ye them gaun awa'? Saw ye the Forty-Second Marching to the Broomielaw? Some o' them had boots an' stockin's, Some o' them had nane ava; Some of them had tartan plaidies, Marching to the Broomielaw.

At an earlier period they had:—

Wha saw the Cotton-spinners? Wha saw them gaun awa'? Wha saw the Cotton-spinners Sailing frae the Broomielaw? Some o' them had boots an' stockin's, Some o' them had nane ava; Some o' them had umbrellas For to keep the rain awa'.

There are many similar entertainments which these suggest. But to follow in extent the out-door rhymes of the bairns would carry us beyond the prescribed limits of this chapter. None have been cited, so far, that do not belong absolutely to the nursery; and the collection of these even, though fairly ample, is not so full as it might be. We will conclude with a few, each of which forms a puzzle or conundrum—some of them, in all conscience, gruesome enough, and full of terrible mystery—but, individually, well calculated to awaken thought and stir imagination in any youthful circle.

As I gaed owre the Brig o' Perth I met wi' George Bawhannan; I took aff his head, and drank his bluid, And left his body stannin'. [A bottle of wine.]

As I looked owre my window at ten o'clock at nicht, I saw the dead carrying the living. [A ship sailing.]

Hair without and hair within, A' hair, and nae skin. [A hair rope.]

Three feet up, cauld and dead, Twa feet doun, flesh and bluid; The head o' the livin' in the mouth o' the dead: An auld man wi' a pot on his head. [Last line is the answer.]

There was a man o' Adam's race, Wha had a certain dwellin' place; It was neither in heaven, earth, nor hell, Tell me where this man did dwell. [Jonah in the whale's belly.]

A ha'penny here, an' a ha'penny there, Fourpence-ha'penny and a ha'penny mair; A ha'penny weet, an' a ha'penny dry, Fourpence-ha'penny an' a ha'penny forby— How much is that? [A shilling.]

There was a prophet on this earth, His age no man could tell; He was at his greatest height Before e'en Adam fell.

His wives are very numerous, Yet he maintaineth none; And at the day of reckoning He bids them all begone.

He wears his boots when he should sleep, His spurs are ever new; There's no a shoemaker on a' the earth Can fit him wi' a shoe. [A cock.]

Riddle me, riddle me, rot-tot-tot, A wee, wee man in a red, red coat; A staff in his hand and a stane in his throat, Riddle me, riddle me, rot-tot-tot. [A cherry.]

There was a man made a thing, And he that made it did it bring; But he 'twas made for did not know Whether 'twas a thing or no. [A coffin.]

Pease-porridge het, pease-porridge cauld, Pease-porridge in a pot ten days auld; Spell me that in four letters. [T-H-A-T.]

I sat wi' my love, and I drank wi' my love, And my love she gave me light; I'll give any man a pint o' wine To read my riddle right.

[He sat in a chair made of his mistress's bones, drank out of her skull, and was lighted by a candle made of the substance of her body.]

Mouth o' horn, and beard o' leather; Ye'll no guess that were ye hanged in a tether. [A cock.]

Bonnie Katie Brannie stands at the wa', Gi'e her little, gi'e her muckle, she licks up a': Gi'e her stanes, she eats them—but water, she'll dee, Come, tell this bonnie riddleum to me. [The fire.]

Down in yon meadow There sails a boat; And in that boat The King's son sat. I'm aye telling ye, But ye're no calling, Hoo they ca' the King's son In the boat sailing. [Hoo, or Hugh.]

As I gaed owre Bottle-brig, Bottle-brig brak'; Though ye guess a' day, Ye winna guess that. [The ice.]

If Dick's father is John's son, What relation is Dick to John? [His grandson.]

The brown bull o' Baverton, Gaed owre the hill o' Haverton; He dashed his head atween twa stanes And was brought milk-white hame. [Corn sent to the mill and ground.]

A beautiful lady in a garden was laid, Her beauty was fair as the sun; In the first hour of her life she was made a man's wife, And she died before she was born. [Eve.]

The minister, the dominie, and Mr. Andrew Lang, Went to the garden where three pears hang: Each one took a pear—how many pears then? [Two: the three persons were one.]

Mou'd like the mill-door, luggit like the cat; Though ye guess a' day, ye'll no guess that. [An old-fashioned kail-pot.]

There stands a tree at our house-end, It's a' clad owre wi' leather bend: It'll fecht a bull, it'll fecht a bear, It'll fecht a thousand men o' wear. [Death.]

Lang man legless, Gaed to the door staffless: Goodwife, put up your deuks and hens; For dogs and cats I carena. [A worm.]

As I gaed to Falkland to a feast, I met me wi' an ugly beast: Ten tails, a hunder nails, And no a fit but ane. [A ship.]

As I cam' owre the tap o' Trine, I met a drove o' Highland swine: Some were black, and some were brawnet, Some o' them was yellow tappit. Sic a drove o' Highland swine Ne'er cam' owre the tap o' Trine. [A swarm of bees.]

Infir taris, inoknonis; Inmudeelis, inclaynonis. Canamaretots?

[In fir tar is, in oak none is; In mud eel is, in clay none is. Can a mare eat oats?]

Wee man o' leather Gaed through the heather, Through a rock, through a reel, Through an auld spinning-wheel, Through a sheep-shank bane. Sic a man was never seen. Wha had he been? [A beetle.]

The robbers cam' to our house When we were a' in; The house lap out at the windows, And we were a' ta'en. [Fish caught in a net.]


The use of doggerel rhymes by children in playing their out-of-door games, to decide by the last word which of their number shall be "it" or "takkie," in games like "Hide and Seek" and "I Spy," must be familiar to every reader who has had any youth worthy of being so called. What is not well known, however, is the fact that some of them—the rhymes, I mean—that very common one in particular, beginning—"One-ery, two-ery, tickery, seven," and its fellow in like respect, with the opening line—"Eeny, meeny, manny, mo"—have, in almost identical form, been in active use by the wee folks for hundreds of years, as they are still, in nearly every country of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. That the pastime has been common among the children of civilized and semi-civilized races alike is certainly of curious interest, and yet investigation has proved this to be the case. Not only so, but the form of use is nearly always identical. A leader, as a rule self-appointed, having engaged the attention of the boys and girls about to join in a proposed game, arranges them either in a row or in a circle around him. He then repeats the rhyme, fast or slow, as he is capable or disposed, pointing with the hand or forefinger to each child in succession, not forgetting himself, and allotting to each one word of the mysterious formula. It may be, for example:—

Eeny, meeny, manny, mo, Catch a nigger by the toe; When he hollers, let him go, Eeny, meeny, manny, mo.

Having completed the verse, the child on whom the last word falls is said to be "out," and steps aside. At each repetition one in like manner steps aside, and the one who survives the ordeal until all the rest have been "chapped" or "titted" out is declared "it" or "takkie," and the game proceeds forthwith. Sometimes the formula employed in certain parts of Scotland, as I recollect, was for each boy to insert his finger into the leader's cap, around which all the company stood. The master of the ceremonies then with his finger allotted a word to each "finger in the pie." It might be:—

Eenity, feenity, fickety, feg, El, del, domen, egg, Irky, birky, story, rock, Ann, Dan, Toosh, Jock.

With the pronouncement of the word "Jock," the M.C.'s finger came down with a whack which made the one "chapped out" be withdrawn in a "hunder hurries." In some parts of America a peculiar method obtains. The alphabet is repeated by the leader, who assigns one letter to each child in the group, and when a letter falls to a child which is the same as the initial of his last name, that child falls out, and this is continued, observing the same plan, until only one child remains, who is "it." There are other forms, too, but none strikingly dissimilar. Where the little ones have been in haste to proceed with the game, and in no mood to waste time in counting out each one to the last, they have taken the sharper process of saying—

Red, white, yellow, blue, All out but you,

and by the first reading fixed the relationship of parties.

Now, a very important and interesting feature of these rhymes and their application, as I have said, is found in the fact that they prevail in a more or less identical form all over the world. When this is so, their common origin is placed almost beyond dispute. The question only, which perhaps no one can answer, is—Whence come they? It would not be hazarding too much to say, I think, that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in their turn as boys, with other boys of their time, each used a form of counting-out rhyme in the manner and for the purpose for which they are still in vogue by the boys and girls of the present day. Undoubtedly they found a precedent, if they did not actually themselves exercise a part, in the very ancient custom of casting lots, which prevailed among the heathen as well as among the chosen people of God in very early times. From sacred history we learn that lots were used to decide measures to be taken in battle; to select champions in individual contests; to determine the partition of conquered or colonised lands; in the division of spoil; in the appointment of Magistrates and other functionaries; in the assignment of priestly offices; and in criminal investigations, when doubt existed as to the real culprit. Among the Israelites, indeed, the casting of lots was divinely ordained as a method of ascertaining the Holy will, and its use on many interesting occasions is described in the Holy Scriptures. The simplicity of the process, and its unanswerable result, were appreciated by Solomon, who says: "The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty" (Prov. xviii. 18). In New Testament times, again, Matthias was chosen by lot to "take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away" (Acts i. 24-26). The Babylonians, when about to wage war against another nation, were wont to determine which city should be attacked first by casting lots in a peculiar manner. The names of the cities were written on arrows. These were shaken in a bag, and the one drawn decided the matter (see Ezekiel xxi. 21-22). A like method of divination, called belomany, was current among the Arabians before Mahomet's rise, though it was afterwards prohibited by the Koran. By imitation of their elders, to which children are constantly prone—in the making of "housies," in nursing of dolls, etc. etc.—doubtless there came the counting-out rhyme. What is not so easily understood is their existence in so many identical forms in so many widely distant lands. As an example of how cosmopolitan some of them are, let us track a familiar enough one for a fair distance and see how it appears in the national garb of the various countries in which it has found bed, board, and biding. All over Britain and America it goes:—

One, two, buckle my shoe, Three, four, open the door, Five, six, pick up the sticks, Seven, eight, lay them straight, Nine, ten, a good fat hen, Eleven, twel', bake it well, Thirteen, fourteen, maids a-courting, Fifteen, sixteen, maids a-kissing, Seventeen, eighteen, maids a-waiting, Nineteen, twenty, my stomach's empty.

In Germany it is found in various forms, but one will suffice:—

1, 2, Polizei, 3, 4, Offizier, 5, 6, Alte Hex, 7, 8, Gute Nacht, 9, 10, Auf Wiedersehen, 11, 12, Junge Woelf, 13, 14, Blaue Schuerzen, 15, 16, Alte Hexen, 17, 18, Maedle Wachsen, 19, 20, Gott Verdanzig.

In France it also appears in various forms, and the children of Paris, not disposed to waste time and energy, cut it briefly, as follows:—

Un, deux, trois, Tu ne l'es pas, Quatre, cinq, six, Va t'en d'ici.

In Italy a form goes:—

Pan uno, pan duo, Pan tre, pan quattro, Pan cinque, pan sei, Pan sette, pan otto, Pancotto!

And versions, all revealing a common origin, might be quoted in the languages of many more countries, but we can employ our space to better purpose. With regard to the rhyme already quoted, beginning, "Eenity, feenity, fickety, feg," it has been asked whether the second line, "El, del, domen, egg," would not warrant the conclusion that it sprang into existence on the streets, and among the children, of Ancient Rome. Perhaps it did; for who may say it did not? There is that very common one all over Scotland, which, it will be remembered, that wonderful child, Marjorie Fleming, played off on Sir Walter Scott:—

One-ery, two-ery, tickery, seven, Alibi, crackaby, ten and eleven; Pin, pan, musky dan; Tweedle-um, twoddle-um, twenty-one; Eerie, orie, ourie. You are out!

A similar formula, only in slightly varying words, is found in the folk-lore of almost every country in the world. Commenting on the opening line, the late Mr. Charles G. Leland, author of the Hans Breitmann ballads, and an acknowledged authority on the language and customs of the Eastern Gypsies, sets against it a Romany stanza, used as a spell, beginning:—

Ekkeri, akai-ri, you kiar-an,

and remarks that "Ekkeri, akai-ri," literally translated, just gives the familiar "One-ery, two-ery," which is etymologically analogous to "Hickory, dickory," in the all-pervading nursery rhyme:—

Hickory, dickory, dock, The mouse ran up the clock; The clock struck one, and down the mouse ran, Hickory, dickory, dock.

An American version of which, by the bye, goes:—

Hiddlety, diddlety, dumpty, The cat ran up the plum tree; Half-a-crown to fetch her down, Hiddlety, diddlety, dumpty.

But still, before leaving the familiar chapping-out rhyme of Marjorie Fleming, let us see how it occurs again in Scotland and among the children of some of the other English-speaking nations, to go no further. Charles Taylor, in the Magpie; or Chatterings of the Pica, published at Glasgow in 1820, gives it thus:—

Anery, twaery, duckery, seven, Alama, crack, ten am eleven; Peem, pom, it must be done, Come teetle, come total, come twenty-one;

and remarks:—"This is reported to have originated with the Druids; the total number of words is twenty-one, and it seems to be a mixture of words put into rhyme." In the streets and lanes and open spaces of Aberdeen it runs:—

Enery, twa-ery, tuckery, taven, Halaba, crackery, ten or eleven; Peen, pan, musky dan, Feedelam, Fadelam, twenty-one.

In the county of Wexford, in Ireland, it goes:—

One-ery, two-ery, dickery, Davy, Hallabone, crackabone, tenery, Navy; Discome, dandy, merry-come-tine, Humbledy, bumbledy, twenty-nine, O-U-T, out. You must go out!

In the Midlands of England:—

One-ery, two-ery, dickery, dee, Halibo, crackibo, dandilee; Pin, pan, muskee dan, Twiddledum, twaddledum, twenty-one; Black fish, white trout, Eeny, meeny, you go out.

In Massachusetts, U.S., America:—

Ena, deena, dina, dust, Catler, wheeler, whiler, whust; Spin, spon, must be done, Twiddleum, twaddleum, twenty-one.

In the island of Guernsey:—

Eena, deena, dina, duss, Catalaweena, wina, wuss; Tittle, tattle, what a rattle, O-U-T spells out!

Another Scotch version:—

One-ery, two-ery, tickery, ten, Bobs of vinegar, gentlemen; A bird in the air, a fish in the sea; A bonnie wee lassie come singing to thee. One, two, three!

Of the "Eeny, feenity, fickety, feg" rhyme, we find these evident varieties. This, said to be used in the West of Scotland:—

Zeeny, meeny, fickety, fick, Deal, doll, dominick; Zarity-panty, on a rock, toosh!

This in Cumberland:—

Eeny, pheeny, figgery, fegg, Deely, dyly, ham and egg. Calico back, and stony rock, Arlum, barlum, bash!

In the United States:—

Inty, minty, tippity, fig, Dinah, donah, norma, nig, Oats, floats, country notes; Dinah, donah, tiz, Hulla-ballop-bulloo, Out goes you!

This curious one in Edinburgh:—

Inty, tinty, tethery, methery, Bank for over, Dover, ding, Aut, taut, toosh; Up the Causey, down the Cross, There stands a bonnie white horse: It can gallop, it can trot, It can carry the mustard pot. One, two, three, out goes she!

Again, in Scotland:—

Inky, pinky, peerie-winkie, Hi domin I. Arky, parky, tarry rope, Ann, tan, toozy Jock.

This is truly American—the first line of which, by the bye, is derived from, or is borrowed by, the College song, "King of the Cannibal Islands":—

Hoky poky, winky wum, How do you like your 'taters done? Snip, snap, snorum, High popolorum, Kate go scratch it, You are out!

That this also is from beyond the "pond" is evident:—

As I was walking down the lake, I met a little rattlesnake. I gave him so much jelly-cake, It made his little belly ache. One, two, three, out goes she!

In the West of Scotland they sometimes say:—

Ease, ose, man's nose; Cauld parritch, pease brose.

Forfarshire bairns say:—

Eemer-awmer, Kirsty Gawmer, Doon i' Carnoustie, merchant-dale. Leddy Celestie, Sandy Testie, Bonnie poppy-show. You—are—out!

And elsewhere, but still in Scotland:—

Eatum, peatum, potum, pie, Babylonie, stickum, stie, Dog's tail, hog's snout, I'm in, you're out.


Eerie, orie, owre the dam, Fill your poke and let us gang; Black fish and white trout, Eerie, orie, you are out.

Another goes:—

A ha'penny puddin', a ha'penny pie, Stand you there, you're out by.

The last appears in Chambers' Popular Rhymes of Scotland, which interesting collection embraces also the next two. First:—

My grandfather's man and me fell out, How will we bring the matter about? We'll bring it about as weel as we can, And a' for the sake o' my grandfather's man.


Master Foster, very good man, Sweeps his college now and than, After that he takes a dance Up from London down to France, With a black bonnet and a white snout, Stand you there, you are out.

In Glasgow, I am told, the next one used to be common:—

As I gaed up the apple tree A' the apples fell on me; Bake a puddin', bake a pie, Send it up to John Mackay; John Mackay is no in, Send it up to the man i' the mune; The man i' the mune's mendin' his shoon, Three bawbees and a farden in.

Also this:—

As I went up the apple tree, All the apples fell on me; Bake a puddin', bake a pie, Did you ever tell a lie? Yes I did, and many times. O-U-T, out goes she Right in the middle of the deep blue sea.

And this:—

Eerie, orie, ickery, am, Pick ma nick, and slick ma slam. Oram, scoram, pick ma noram, Shee, show, sham, shutter, You—are—out!

In England and Scotland alike this has been used, with slight variations, for at least a hundred years:—

As I went up the brandy hill, I met my father, wi' gude will; He had jewels, he had rings, He had mony braw things; He'd a cat and nine tails, He'd a hammer wantin' nails. Up Jock, doun Tam, Blaw the bellows, auld man. The auld man took a dance, First to London, then to France.


Queen, Queen Caroline, Dipped her hair in turpentine; Turpentine made it shine, Queen, Queen Caroline.

And yet another:—

Tit, tat, toe, Here I go, And if I miss, I pitch on this.

The following have long been in active use all over Scotland, if not also elsewhere:—

Zeenty, teenty, halligo lum, Pitchin' tawties doun the lum. Wha's there? Johnnie Blair. What d'ye want? A bottle o' beer. Where's your money? In my purse. Where's your purse? In my pocket. Where's your pocket? I forgot it. Go down the stair, you silly blockhead. You—are—out.

Zeenty, teenty, alligo, dan, Bobs o' vinegar, gentleman, Kiss, toss, mouse, fat, Bore a needle, bum a fiddle, Jink ma jeerie, jink ma jye, Stand you there, you're out bye.

One, two, three, four, Jenny at the cottage door, Eating cherries aff a plate, Five, six, seven, eight.

Zeenty, teenty, feggerie fell, Pompaleerie jig. Every man who has no hair Generally wears a wig.

Mistress Mason broke a basin, How much will it be? Half-a-crown. Lay it down. Out goes she!

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, All good children go to heaven; When they die their sin's forgiven, One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, All good children go to heaven: A penny by the water, Tuppence by the sea, Threepence by the railway, Out goes she!

Me and the minister's wife coost out. Guess ye what it was about? Black puddin', dish-clout, Eerie, orrie, you are out!

Master Monday, how's your wife? Very sick, and like to die. Can she eat? O yes, As much as I can buy. She makes the porridge very thin, A pound of butter she puts in, Black puddin', white clout, Eerie, orrie, you are out!

Inky pinky, my black hen Lays eggs for gentlemen; Whiles ane, whiles twa, Whiles a bonnie black craw. One—two—three, You—are—out!

Eeny, meeny, clean peeny, If you want a piece and jeely, Just walk out!

John says to John, How much are your geese? John says to John, Twenty cents a-piece. John says to John, That's too dear; John says to John, Get out of here!

Ching, Ching, Chinaman, How do you sell your fish? Ching, Ching, Chinaman, Six bits a dish. Ching, Ching, Chinaman, Oh! that's too dear; Ching, Ching, Chinaman, Clear out of here!

Lemons and oranges, two for a penny, I'm a good scholar that counts so many. The rose is red, the leaves are green, The days are past that I have seen.

I doot, I doot, My fire is out, And my little dog's not at home: I'll saddle my cat, and I'll bridle my dog, And send my little boy home. Home, home again, home!

Jenny, good spinner, Come down to your dinner, And taste the leg of a roasted frog! I pray ye, good people, Look owre the kirk steeple, And see the cat play wi' the dog!

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Haud the horse till I win on; Haud him siccar, haud him fair, Haud him by a pickle hair. One, two, three, You are out!

Around the house, arickity-rary, I hope ye'll meet the green canary: You say ay, I say no, Hold fast—let go! Scottie Malottie, the king o' the Jews, Sell't his wife for a pair o' shoes; When the shoes began to wear Scottie Malottie began to swear.

In Dundee these lines are added to the "Eenity feenity" rhyme:—

Jock out, Jock in, Jock through a hickle-pin. Eetle-ottle, black bottle; Eetle-ottle, out!

This, more commonly used as a test of truth-telling (little fingers being linked while it is uttered), is also used on the East Coast as a counting-out rhyme:—

I ring, I ring, a pinky! If I tell a lie I'll go to the bad place Whenever I die. White pan, black pan, Burn me to death, Tak' a muckle gully And cut my breath. Ten miles below the earth. Amen!

But these all, of course, as already stated, have been delivered and acted, as they are still, rather as a prelude to the more elaborate games designed to follow than as a part of them, and to afford designedly the opportunity of deciding emphatically who shall be "it" or "takkie."


When by the aid of the "chapping-out" rhyme it has been decided who should be "it," the game to follow may be "Single Tig," "Cross Tig," "Burly Bracks Round the Stacks," "Pussie in the Corner," "Bonnety," "The Tod and the Hounds," "I Spy," "Smuggle the Keg," "Booly Horn," "Dock," "Loup the Frog," "Foot and a Half," "Bools," "Pitch and Toss," or any one of another dozen, all of which are essentially boys' games, and have no rhymes to enliven their action. But if it is to be a game in which both sexes may equally engage, or a game for girls alone, then almost certainly there is a rhyme with it. Somehow girls have always been more musical than boys, even as in their maturer years they are more frequently the subject of song than their confreres of the sterner sex. "Peever," "Tig," and "Skipping Rope," are indeed, so far as I can recall at the moment, about all of the girls' commoner games which are played without the musical accompaniment of line and verse. Their rhyme-games, on the other hand, are legion, and embrace "A Dis, a Dis, a Green Grass," "The Merry-Ma-Tanzie," "The Mulberry Bush," "Carry My Lady to London," "I Dree I Droppit It," "Looby-Looby," and ever so many more.

Like the counting-out rhymes, the game-rhymes are found in only slightly differing forms in widely divided countries and places. But ever alike, they are never quite the same. The "Merry-Ma-Tanzie," for instance, though always the same in name, will be found with varying lines in almost every town and village in Scotland even. There are variants equally, I suppose, of all.

"Merry-ma-Tanzie" is solely a girls' game, of which boys, however, may be interested spectators. The counting-out rhyme having put one in the centre, the rest join hands in a ring about her, and moving slowly round, they sing:—

Here we go round the jingo-ring, The jingo-ring, the jingo-ring, Here we go round the jingo-ring, About the merry-ma-tanzie.

Twice about and then we fa', Then we fa', then we fa', Twice about and then we fa', About the merry-ma-tanzie.

Choose your maidens all around, All around, all around, Choose your maidens all around, About the merry-ma-tanzie.

Replying to this invitation, the one in the centre chooses two from the circle, and retires with them a short distance away. During their absence the ring-band proceeds as before, and sing with imitating gesture:—

Sweep the house ere the bride comes in, The bride comes in, the bride comes in, Sweep the house ere the bride comes in, About the merry-ma-tanzie.

When those who left return, the one who was in the centre takes up her original position, as also do the others, and the ring moves on again with:—

Here's a bride new come hame, New come hame, new come hame; Here's a bride new come hame, About the merry-ma-tanzie.

Then follows "Mary Anderson is her name," with the usual repeats, and "Guess ye wha is her true love," "A bottle o' wine to tell his name," "Andrew Wilson is his name," "Honey is sweet and so is he," (or "Apples are sour and so is he,") "He's married her wi' a gay gold ring," "A gay gold ring's a cank'rous thing," "But now they're married we wish them joy," "Father and mother they must obey," "Loving each other like sister and brother," "We pray this couple may kiss together," all, of course, sung with their repeats as above; and the game may be played until every little girl has revealed her little sweetheart's name, which, to be sure, is the motif of the play.

* * * * *

"The Mulberry Bush," which goes to the same air as "Merry-Ma-Tanzie," and is in some places called "The Mulberry Tree," and in others "The Gooseberry Bush," is yet more of an action game. The arrangement is again in a ring, and, moving round hand-in-hand, all sing:—

Here we go round the mulberry bush, The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush; Here we go round the mulberry bush, On a cold and frosty morning.

Stopping short with a curtsey at the conclusion and disjoining hands, they stand, and imitating the process of hand-washing, they sing:—

This is the way we wash our hands, Wash our hands, wash our hands, This is the way we wash our hands, On a cold and frosty morning.

All joining hands again, they go round as before, singing—"Here we go round the mulberry bush," and so on, which is repeated regularly after each action-verse on to the end. The opening lines of the action-verses alone may be given here to suggest the whole. They are:—

"This is the way we lace our stays." "This is the way we comb our hair." "This is the way we walk to school." "This is the way we return from school." "This is the way the ladies walk." "This is the way the gentlemen walk."

"A Dis, a Dis, a Green Grass," is so simple it is a favourite generally with very little ladies. And there are different forms of the game, both in Scotland and England, if not also in other countries. The more common way, however, is for the children to stand all in a row, and, when the counting-out rhyme has been applied once and again, the two who have been "hit out" face up together hand-in-hand in front, and, advancing and retiring, sing:—

A dis, a dis, a green grass, A dis, a dis, a dis; Come all ye pretty fair maids, And dance along with us. For we are going a-roving, A-roving o'er the land; We'll take this pretty fair maid, We'll take her by the hand.

This sung, they select a girl from the group, who joins on either side, as she is directed, and the song continues, bearing now the comforting assurance to the one chosen:—

Ye shall have a duck, my dear, And ye shall have a beau; And ye shall have a young prince By chance to marry you.

And if this young prince he should die, Then ye will get another; And the birds will sing and the bells will ring, And we'll all clap hands together.

Having all joined in the last two verses, all clap hands together. And the same process is repeated again and again until the last of the "pretty fair maids" is taken over from the row, when the game is ended—though it may be but to begin again as the desire is expressed and supported.

* * * * *

Some one, to be sure, may suggest "Looby-Looby," which has but to be named when all are ready and eager. A ring is formed, when all join hands and dance round singing:—

Here we go looby-looby, Here we go looby light; Here we go looby-looby Every Saturday night.

Why on Saturday nights only I don't know, and it would be futile, I suppose, to inquire. Anyway, with the expression of the last word they all instantly disjoin hands, and, standing each in her place, they sing the next verse, suiting the action to the word:—

Put your right hand in, Take your right hand out; Shake it, and shake it, and shake it, And turn yourself about.

As the last line is being sung each one wheels rapidly round by herself, then hands are joined again, and they scurry round in a ring as before, singing:—

Here we go looby-looby, Here we go looby light; Here we go looby-looby Every Saturday night,

and so on, the "looby-looby" coming in regularly between each of the action-verses, which are varied by "left hand in" and "out," and "right foot in" and "out," and "left foot in" and "out," "noses," "ears," etc., etc., the game finishing only when the anatomy of the players has been exhausted.

* * * * *

"I Dree I Droppit It" calls for a mixture of the sexes, and when the numbers are even—or as nearly as chance affords—the players are ranged in a ring, a boy and girl alternately facing inwards with a space between each. The one who is "chapped out"—say it is a girl—goes tripping round the others' backs, with a handkerchief dangling in her hand, singing the while:—

I sent a letter to my love, And by the way I droppit it, I dree, I dree, I droppit it, I dree, I dree, I droppit it; I sent a letter to my love, And by the way I droppit it.

There's a wee, wee doggie in our cot-neuk, He'll no bite you, he'll no bite you; There's a wee, wee doggie in our cot-neuk, He'll no bite you—nor you—nor you—nor you,

and so forth, until at length she drops the handkerchief stealthily at the heel of one of the little boys, saying "but you," and bolts round this player, round that one, in here, out there, and away! And the boy, who has first to pick up the handkerchief, gives chase, pursuing her exactly in the course which she may choose to take. If he makes a wrong turn, by that fact he is "out," and must take her place; but if he pursues her correctly and overtakes her, he may claim a kiss for his pains, for which heroism he will receive the applause of the crowd; and the girl—suffused with blushes, as it may be—must try and try again—indeed, try until she proves herself more agile than her pursuer, whom, of course, she is always free to choose. When at length—as come it will some time—her effort is successful, she takes her victim's place in the ring, and he takes hers on the outside of it. And thus the play may go on—boy and girl about—as long as time and energy will permit.

* * * * *

As for "Bab at the Bowster" (more generally pronounced "Babbity Bowster"), I am not sure but that grown people have engaged in it more than wee folks have. Indeed, it is not improbable that the young borrowed this originally from the old, by observation. Now-a-days, undoubtedly, we know it exclusively as a child's play. But yet, within the memory of living men, it was the regular custom in country places nearly over all Scotland to wind up every dancing-ball with "Bab at the Bowster." No wedding dance, no Handsel Monday ball, would have been esteemed complete without it; and I have seen it performed at both, less than forty years ago. Performed by old or young, however, the mode is the same. The girls sit down on one side of the barn or square, the boys on the other. A boy takes a handkerchief—it is regularly a male who starts this play—and while dancing up and down before the girls, all sing:—

Wha learned you to dance, Bab at the bowster, bab at the bowster; Wha learned you to dance, Bab at the bowster brawly?

My minnie learned me to dance, Bab at the bowster, bab at the bowster; My minnie learned me to dance, Bab at the bowster brawly.

Wha ga'e you the keys to keep, Bab at the bowster, bab at the bowster; Wha ga'e you the keys to keep, Bab at the bowster brawly?

My minnie ga'e me the keys to keep, Bab at the bowster, bab at the bowster; My minnie ga'e me the keys to keep, Bab at the bowster brawly.

Kneel down and kiss the ground, Kiss the ground, kiss the ground; Kneel down and kiss the ground, Kiss the bonnie wee lassie.

By the time the last verse has been reached the boy has fixed on his partner, and at the command to "kneel down and kiss the ground" he spreads the handkerchief on the floor at the girl's feet, on which both immediately kneel. A kiss ensues, even though it should be obtained after a struggle; then the boy marches away round and round followed by the girl, while all again sing the song. By the time the last verse is again reached, the girl in turn has selected the next boy, but does not kneel down before him. She simply throws the handkerchief in his lap, and immediately joins her own partner by taking his arm. If, however, she can be overtaken before she joins her partner, a penalty kiss may be enforced. Second boy selects second girl as the first did the first girl, and pair after pair is formed in the same fashion until all are up and marching arm-in-arm round the room, or square, when the game is finished. At adult assemblies, I should state, even as the company paired in this dance, they departed for home.

* * * * *

"The Wadds" is another game in which grown folks no less than children may engage, and which, like "Bab at the Bowster," is essentially a house game. Its mode is for the players to be seated round the hearth, the lasses on one side and the lads on the other. One of the lads first chants:—

O, it's hame, and its hame, it's hame, hame, hame, I think this nicht I maun gang hame.

To which one of the opposite party responds:—

Ye had better licht, and bide a' nicht, And I'll choose ye a partner bonnie and bricht.

The first speaker again says:—

Then wha wad ye choose an' I wad bide?


The fairest and best in a' the countryside.

At the same time presenting a female and mentioning her name. If the choice is satisfactory, the male player will say:—

I'll set her up on the bonnie pear tree, It's straucht and tall and sae is she; I wad wauk a' nicht her love to be.

If, however, the choice is not satisfactory, he may reply:—

I'll set her up on the auld fael dyke, Where she may rot ere I be ripe; The corbies her auld banes wadna pyke.

Or (if the maiden be of surly temper):—

I'll set her up on the high crab-tree, It's sour and dour, and sae is she; She may gang to the mools unkissed for me.

But he may decline civilly, by saying:—

She's for another, she's no for me, I thank ye for your courtesie.

A similar ritual is gone through with respect to one of the gentler sex, where such rhymes as the following are used. In the case of acceptance the lady will say:—

I'll set him up at my table-head, And feed him there wi' milk and bread.

Whereas, if the proposal is not agreeable, her reply may be:—

I'll put him on a riddle, and blaw him owre the sea, Wha will buy [Jamie Paterson] for me?


I'll set him up on a high lum-heid, And blaw 'im in the air wi' poother and lead.

A refusal on either side must, of course, be atoned for by a "wadd," or forfeit—which may consist of a piece of money, a knife, a thimble, or any little article which the owner finds convenient for the purpose. Then, when a sufficient number of persons have made forfeits, the business of redeeming them commences, which may afford any amount of amusement. He, or she, as the case happens, may be ordered to "kiss the four corners of the room;" "bite an inch off the poker;" "kneel to the prettiest, bow to the wittiest, and kiss the one he (or she) loves best," or any one of a dozen similarly silly ordeals, as the doomster proposes, may have to be gone through. When the forfeits have all been redeemed the game is ended.

* * * * *

Similar to the foregoing, in some respects, is "The Wadds and the Wears," which John Mactaggart, the writer of The Gallovidian Encyclopaedia, describes as (in his day) "the most celebrated amusement of the ingle-ring" in the south-west of Scotland. As in the "Wadds," the players are seated round the hearth. One in the ring (says Mactaggart), speaks as follows:—

I hae been awa' at the wadds and the wears, These seven lang years; And's come hame a puir broken ploughman; What will ye gie me to help me to my trade?

He may either say he's a "puir broken ploughman," or any other trade; but since he has chosen that trade, some of the articles belonging to it must always be given or offered, in order to recruit him. But the article he most wants he privately tells one of the party, who is not allowed, of course, to offer him anything, as he knows the thing, which will throw the offerer in a wadd, and must be avoided as much as possible—for to be in a wadd is a very serious matter, as shall afterwards be explained. Now the one on the left hand of the poor ploughman makes the first offer, by way of answer to what above was said: "I'll gie ye a coulter to help ye to your trade."

The ploughman answers, "I don't thank ye for your coulter, I hae ane already." Then another offers him another article belonging to the ploughman's business, such as the mool-brod, but this also is refused; another, perhaps, gives the sock, another the stilts, another the spattle, another the naigs, another the naig-graith, and so on; until one gives the soam, which was the article he most wanted, and was the thing secretly told to one, and is the thing that throws the giver in a wadd, out of which he is relieved in the following manner:—

The ploughman says to the one in the wadd, "Whether will ye hae three questions and twa commands, or three commands and twa questions, to answer or gang on wi', sae that ye may win oot o' the wadd?" For the one so fixed has always the choice which of these alternatives to take. Suppose he takes the first, two commands and three questions, then a specimen of these may run so:—

"I command ye to kiss the crook," says the ploughman, which must be completely obeyed by the one in the wadd—his naked lips must salute the sooty implement.

"Secondly," saith the ploughman, "I command ye to stand up in that neuk, and say—

'Here stan' I, as stiffs a stake, Wha'll kiss me for pity's sake?'"

Which must also be done; in a corner of the house must he stand and repeat that couplet, till some tender-hearted lass relieves him. Now for the questions which are most deeply laid, or so touching to him, that he finds much difficulty to answer them.

"Firstly, then, Suppose ye were sittin' aside Maggie Lowden and Jennie Logan, your twa great sweethearts, what ane o'm wad ye ding ower, and what ane wad ye turn to and clap and cuddle?" He makes answer by choosing Maggie Lowden, perhaps, to the great mirth of the party.

"Secondly, then, Suppose you were standin' oot i' the cauld, on the tap o' Cairnhattie, whether wad ye cry on Peggie Kirtle or Nell o' Killimingie to come wi' your plaid?"

He answers again in a similar manner.

"Lastly, then, Suppose you were in a boat wi' Tibbie Tait, Mary Kairnie, Sallie Snadrap, and Kate o' Minnieive, and it was to cowp wi' ye, what ane o'm wad ye sink? what ane wad ye soom? wha wad ye bring to lan'? and wha wad ye marry?" Then he answers again, to the fun of the company, perhaps, in this way, "I wad sink Mary Kairnie, soom Tibbie Tait, bring Sallie Snadrap aneath my oxter to lan', and marry sweet Kate o' Minnieive."

And so ends that bout at the wadds and the wears.

* * * * *

But the games engaged in exclusively by the "wee folks" are the really delightsome ones. Such is "The Widow of Babylon," the ritual of which, less elaborate, resembles that of "Merry-Ma-Tanzie," though the rhymes are different. Girls only play here. One is chosen for the centre. The others, with hands joined, form a ring about her, and move round briskly, singing:—

Here's a poor widow from Babylon, With six poor children all alone; One can bake, and one can brew, One can shape, and one can sew. One can sit at the fire and spin, One can bake a cake for the king; Come choose you east, come choose you west, Come choose the one that you love best.

The girl in the middle chooses one from the ring, naming her, and sings:—

I choose the fairest that I do see, [Jeanie Anderson] come to me.

The girl chosen enters the ring, communicating the name of her sweetheart, when those in the ring resume their lightsome motion, and sing:—

Now they are married, I wish them joy, Every year a girl or boy; Loving each other like sister and brother, I pray this couple may kiss together.

The girls within the ring kiss. The one who first occupied the circle then joins the ring, while the last to come in enacts the part of mistress; and so on the game goes until all have had their turn.

* * * * *

"London Bridge" is a well-known and widely played game, though here and there with slightly differing rhymes. Two children—the tallest and strongest, as a rule—standing face to face, hold up their hands, making the form of an arch. The others form a long line by holding on to each other's dresses, and run under. Those running sing the first verse, while the ones forming the arch sing the second, and alternate verses, of the following rhyme:—

London bridge is fallen down, Fallen down, fallen down; London bridge is fallen down, My fair lady.

Question.—What will it take to build it up? (With repeats.)

Answer.—Needles and preens will build it up.

Question.—Needles and preens will rust and bend.

Answer.—Silver and gold will build it up.

Question.—Silver and gold will be stolen away.

Answer.—Build it up with penny loaves.

Question.—Penny loaves will tumble down.

Answer.—Bricks and mortar will build it up.

Question.—Bricks and mortar will wash away.

Answer.—We will set a dog to bark.

Question.—Here's a prisoner we have got.

At the words "a prisoner," the two forming the arch apprehend the passing one in the line, and, holding her fast, the dialogue resumes:—

Answer.—Here's a prisoner we have got.

Question.—What's the prisoner done to you?

Answer.—Stole my watch and broke my chain.

Question.—What will you take to set him free?

Answer.—A hundred pounds will set him free.

Question.—A hundred pounds I have not got.

Answer.—Then off to prison you must go.

Following this declaration, the prisoner is led a distance away from the rest by her jailers, where the questions are put to her, whether she will choose "a gold watch," or "a diamond necklace." As she decides she goes to the one side or the other. When, in like manner, all in the line have chosen, a tug-of-war ensues, and the game is ended.

* * * * *

"The Jolly Miller."—In this the players take partners—all except the miller, who takes his stand in the middle, while his companions walk round him in couples, singing:—

There was a jolly miller, who lived by himself, As the wheel went round he made his wealth; One hand in the hopper, and the other in the bag, As the wheel went round he made his grab.

At the word "grab," every one must change partners. The miller then has the opportunity of seizing one: and if he succeeds in so doing, the one necessarily left alone must take his place, and so on.

* * * * *

"Willie Wastle" is essentially a boy's game. One standing on a hillock or large boulder, from which he defies the efforts of his companions to dislodge him, exclaims, by way of challenge:—

I, Willie Wastle, Stand on my castle, And a' the dogs o' your toun, Will no ding Willie Wastle doun.

The boy who succeeds in dislodging him takes his place, and so on.

* * * * *

"Oats and Beans and Barley," a simple but pretty game, is played all over England, as well as in most parts of Scotland, with varying rhymes. In Perthshire the lines run:—

Oats and beans and barley grows, Oats and beans and barley grows; But you nor I nor nobody knows How oats and beans and barley grows. First the farmer sows his seeds, Then he stands and takes his ease; Stamps his feet, and claps his hands, Then turns around to view his lands. Waiting for a partner, Waiting for a partner; Open the ring and take one in, And kiss her in the centre.

The players form a ring by joining hands. One child—usually a boy—stands in the middle. The ring moving round, sing the first four lines. These completed, the ring stands, and still singing, each player gives suitable action to the succeeding words; showing how the "farmer sows his seeds," and how he "stands and takes his ease," etc. At the tenth line all wheel round. They then re-join hands, still singing, and at the words, "Open the ring and take one in," the child in the middle chooses from the ring a partner (a girl, of course), whom he leads to the centre and kisses as requested. The two stand there together, while the ring, moving again, sing the marriage formula:—

Now you're married, you must obey, Must be true to all you say; You must be kind, you must be good, And help your wife to chop the wood.

* * * * *

"Hornie Holes" is a boys' game in which four play, a principal and assistant on either side. A stands with his assistant at one hole, and throws what is called a "cat" (a piece of stick, or a sheep's horn), with the design of making it alight into another hole at some distance, at which B stands, with his assistant, to drive it aside with his rod resembling a walking-stick. The following unintelligible rhyme is repeated by a player on the one side, while they on the other are gathering in the "cats." This is attested by old people as of great antiquity:—

Jock, Speak, and Sandy, Wi' a' their lousie train, Round about by Edinbro', Will never meet again. Gae head 'im, gae hang 'im, Gae lay him in the sea; A' the birds o' the air Will bear 'im companie. With a nig-nag, widdy—(or worry) bag, And an e'endown trail, trail, Quo' he.

* * * * *

The Craw admits of a good deal of lively exercise, involving, as Dr. Chambers remarks, no more than a reasonable portion of violence. One boy is selected to be craw. He sits down upon the ground, and he and another boy then lay hold of the two ends of a long strap or twisted handkerchief. The latter also takes into his right hand another hard-twisted handkerchief, called the Cout, and runs round the craw, and with the cout defends him against the attack of the other boys, who, with similar couts, use all their agility to get a slap at the craw. But, before beginning, the guard of the craw must cry out:—

Ane, twa, three—my craw's free.

And the first whom he strikes becomes craw, the former craw then becoming guard. When the guard wants respite, he must cry:—

Ane, twa, three—my craw's no free.

* * * * *

"Neevie-neevie-nick-nack."—A lottery game, and confined to boys, is of simple movement, but convenient in this—that only two players are required. They stand facing each other, the leader whirling his two closed fists, one containing a prize, the other empty, while he cajoles his opponent with the rhyme—

Neevie-neevie-nick-nack, Whilk hand will ye tak'— The richt are or the wrang, I'll beguile ye gin I can?

If he guesses correctly, he gains the prize. If he misses, he has to equal the stake. Until success falls to the second, the original player continues the lead.

* * * * *

"Blind Man's Buff," though not a rhyme-game, is yet so well known it is worth mentioning for the mere purpose of telling its story. Like many more such—if we only knew how—it is based on fact. It is of French origin, and of very great antiquity, having been introduced into Britain in the train of the Norman conquerors. Its French name, "Colin Maillard," was that of a brave warrior, the memory of whose exploits still lives in the chronicles of the Middle Ages.

In the year 999 Liege reckoned among its valiant chiefs one Jean Colin. He acquired the name Maillard from his chosen weapon being a mallet, wherewith in battle he used literally to crush his opponents.

In one of the feuds which were of perpetual recurrence in those times, he encountered the Count de Lourain in a pitched battle, and—so runs the story—in the first onset Colin Maillard lost both his eyes.

He ordered his esquire to take him into the thickest of the fight, and, furiously brandishing his mallet, did such fearful execution that victory soon declared itself for him.

When Robert of France heard of these feats of arms, he lavished favour and honours upon Colin, and so great was the fame of the exploit that it was commemorated in the pantomimic representations that formed part of the rude dramatic performances of the age. By degrees the children learned to act it for themselves, and it took the form of a familiar sport.

The blindfold pursuer, as with bandaged eyes and extended hands he gropes for a victim to pounce upon, seems in some degree to repeat the action of Colin Maillard, the tradition of which is also traceable in the name, "blind man's buff."

* * * * *

"Water Wallflower."—All should know this game, which is more commonly played by very small misses.

Forming a ring, all join hands and dance, or move slowly round, singing:—

Water, water wallflower, growing up so high, We are all maidens, and we must all die, Excepting [Nellie Newton], the youngest of us all, She can dance and she can sing, and she can knock us all down.

Here all clap hands, with the exception of the one named, who stands looking abashed, while the others sing:—

Fie, fie, fie, for shame, Turn your back to the wall again.

At the command, she who has been named turns, so that she faces outwards now, with her back to the centre of the ring; though she still clasps hands with those on either side, and continues in the movement, singing with the others. When all in like manner have been chapped out, and are facing the open, the game is finished.

* * * * *

"The Emperor Napoleon" is a little game which affords, invariably, a good deal of fun. Again, as so commonly, the form is in a ring, and all go round, singing:—

The Emperor Napoleon has a hundred thousand men, The Emperor Napoleon has a hundred thousand men, The Emperor Napoleon has a hundred thousand men, As he goes marching along.

In each successive singing of the verse, one syllable after another in the main line, beginning at the far end, is left out—or at least is not spoken—the blank, or blanks, as it happens latterly, having to be indicated merely by nods of the head. As each player makes a mistake, by speaking, instead of nodding, or vice versa, she pays a forfeit and drops out. The play goes on till all have fallen.

* * * * *

"A' the Birdies i' the Air," purely Scotch, is a simpler form merely of "London Bridge." Two players, facing each other, hold up their hands to form an arch, and call the formula:—

A' the birdies i' the air Tick-to to my tail.

The others, who may be running about indifferently, decide in time which side they will favour, and when each and all have chosen which champion they will support, and have taken their places at her back, a tug-of-war ensues. Afterwards the victors chase the vanquished, calling, "Rotten eggs! rotten eggs!" and the game is ended; to be followed perhaps by

* * * * *

"Through the Needle-e'e, Boys," played also to some extent in the form of "London Bridge," and much resembling "Barley Break," a pastime of highborn lords and ladies in the time of Sir Philip Sydney, who describes it in his Arcadia. The boys first choose sides. The two chosen leaders join both hands, and raising them high enough to let the others pass through below, they sing:—

Brother [John], if ye'll be mine, I'll gie you a glass o' wine: A glass o' wine is good and fine, Through the needle-e'e, boys.

Letting their arms fall, they enclose a boy, and ask him to which side he will belong, and he is disposed according to his own decision. The parties being at length formed, are separated by a real or imaginary line, and place at some distance behind them, in a heap, their jackets, caps, etc. They stand opposite to each other, the object being to make a successful incursion over the line into the enemy's country, and bring off part or whole of the heap of clothes. It requires address and swiftness of foot to do so without being taken prisoner by the foe. The winning of the game is decided by which party first loses all its men or all its property. At Hawick, where this legendary mimicry of old Border warfare peculiarly flourishes, the boys are accustomed to use the following lines of defiance:—

1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse