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GAMES, SONGS OF AMERICAN CHILDREN ***




Produced by Richard Tonsing, David Edwards and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)






[Illustration: CHILDREN'S GAMES.

[_From an old engraving by Van der Venne._]]




GAMES AND SONGS

OF

AMERICAN CHILDREN


COLLECTED AND COMPARED

BY

WILLIAM WELLS NEWELL

NEW YORK

HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS

1884

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883, by

HARPER & BROTHERS,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

_All rights reserved._




EDITOR'S NOTE.


The existence of any children's tradition in America, maintained
independently of print, has hitherto been scarcely noticed. Yet it
appears that, in this minor but curious branch of folk-lore, the vein
in the United States is both richer and purer than that so far worked
in Great Britain. These games supply material for the elucidation of
a subject hitherto obscure: they exhibit the true relation of ancient
English lore of this kind to that of the continent of Europe; while
the amusements of youth in other languages are often illustrated by
American custom, which compares favorably, in respect of compass and
antiquity, with that of European countries.

Of the two branches into which the lore of the nursery may be
divided - the tradition of children and the tradition of nurses - the
present collection includes only the former. It is devoted to formulas
of play which children have preserved from generation to generation,
without the intervention, often without the knowledge, of older minds.
Were these - trifling as they often are - merely local and individual,
they might be passed over with a smile; but being English and European,
they form not the least curious chapter of the history of manners
and customs. It has therefore been an essential part of the editor's
object to exhibit their correspondences and history; but, unwilling to
overcloud with cumbrous research that healthy and bright atmosphere
which invests all that really belongs to childhood, he has thought it
best to remand to an appendix the necessary references, retaining in
the text only so much as may be reasonably supposed of interest to the
readers in whom one or another page may awaken early memories.

He has to express sincere thanks to the friends, in different parts of
the country, whose kind assistance has rendered possible this volume,
in which almost every one of the older states is represented; and he
will be grateful for such further information as may tend to render the
collection more accurate and complete.

The melodies which accompany many of the games have been written from
the recitation of children by S. Austen Pearce, Mus. Doc. Oxon.




CONTENTS.


PAGE

EDITOR'S NOTE. v

INTRODUCTORY.

I. THE DIFFUSION AND ORIGIN OF AMERICAN GAME-RHYMES. 1
II. THE BALLAD, THE DANCE, AND THE GAME. 8
III. MAY-GAMES. 13
IV. THE INVENTIVENESS OF CHILDREN. 22
V. THE CONSERVATISM OF CHILDREN. 28

I. LOVE-GAMES.

No.
1. KNIGHTS OF SPAIN. 39
2. THREE KINGS. 46
3. HERE COMES A DUKE. 47
4. TREAD, TREAD THE GREEN GRASS. 50
5. I WILL GIVE YOU A PAPER OF PINS. 51
6. THERE SHE STANDS, A LOVELY CREATURE. 55
7. GREEN GROW THE RUSHES, O! 56
8. THE WIDOW WITH DAUGHTERS TO MARRY. 56
9. PHILANDER'S MARCH. 58
10. MARRIAGE. 59

II. HISTORIES.

11. MISS JENNIA JONES. 63
12. DOWN SHE COMES, AS WHITE AS MILK. 67
13. LITTLE SALLY WATERS. 70
14. HERE SITS THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND. 70
15. GREEN GRAVEL. 71
16. UNCLE JOHN. 72
17. KING ARTHUR WAS KING WILLIAM'S SON. 73
18. LITTLE HARRY HUGHES AND THE DUKE'S DAUGHTER. 75
19. BARBARA ALLEN. 78

III. PLAYING AT WORK.

20. VIRGINIA REEL. 80
21. OATS, PEASE, BEANS, AND BARLEY GROWS. 80
22. WHO'LL BE THE BINDER? 84
23. AS WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH. 86
24. DO, DO, PITY MY CASE. 87
25. WHEN I WAS A SHOEMAKER. 88
26. HERE WE COME GATHERING NUTS OF MAY. 89
27. HERE I BREW AND HERE I BAKE. 90
28. DRAW A BUCKET OF WATER. 90
29. THREADING THE NEEDLE. 91

IV. HUMOR AND SATIRE.

30. SOLDIER, SOLDIER, WILL YOU MARRY ME? 93
31. QUAKER COURTSHIP. 94
32. LAZY MARY. 96
33. WHISTLE, DAUGHTER, WHISTLE. 96
34. THERE WERE THREE JOLLY WELSHMEN. 97
35. A HALLOWE'EN RHYME. 98
36. THE DOCTOR'S PRESCRIPTION. 99
37. OLD GRIMES. 100
38. THE BAPTIST GAME. 101
39. TRIALS, TROUBLES, AND TRIBULATIONS. 102
40. HAPPY IS THE MILLER. 102
41. THE MILLER OF GOSPORT. 103

V. FLOWER ORACLES, ETC

42. FLOWER ORACLES. 105
43. USE OF FLOWERS IN GAMES. 107
44. COUNTING APPLE-SEEDS. 109
45. ROSE IN THE GARDEN. 110
46. THERE WAS A TREE STOOD IN THE GROUND. 111
47. GREEN! 113

VI. BIRD AND BEAST.

48. MY HOUSEHOLD. 115
49. FROG-POND. 116
50. BLOODY TOM. 117
51. BLUE-BIRDS AND YELLOW-BIRDS. 118
52. DUCKS FLY. 119

VII. HUMAN LIFE.

53. KING AND QUEEN. 120
54. FOLLOW YOUR LEADER. 122
55. TRUTH. 122
56. INITIATION. 122
57. JUDGE AND JURY. 123
58. THREE JOLLY SAILORS. 124
59. MARCHING TO QUEBEC. 125
60. SUDDEN DEPARTURE. 126
61. SCORN. 126

VIII. THE PLEASURES OF MOTION.

62. RING AROUND THE ROSIE. 127
63. GO ROUND AND ROUND THE VALLEY. 128
64. THE FARMER IN THE DELL. 129
65. THE GAME OF RIVERS. 130
66. QUAKER, HOW IS THEE? 130
67. DARBY JIG. 131
68. RIGHT ELBOW IN. 131
69. MY MASTER SENT ME. 131
70. HUMPTY DUMPTY. 132
71. PEASE PORRIDGE HOT. 132
72. RHYMES FOR A RACE. 132
73. TWINE THE GARLAND. 133
74. HOPPING-DANCE. 133

IX. MIRTH AND JEST.

75. CLUB FIST. 134
76. ROBIN'S ALIVE. 135
77. LAUGHTER GAMES. 136
78. BACHELOR'S KITCHEN. 137
79. THE CHURCH AND THE STEEPLE. 138
80. WHAT COLOR? 138
81. BEETLE AND WEDGE. 138
82. PRESENT AND ADVISE. 139
83. GENTEEL LADY. 139
84. BEAST, BIRD, OR FISH. 140
85. WHEEL OF FORTUNE. 140
86. CATCHES. 141
87. INTERY MINTERY. 142
88. REDEEMING FORFEITS. 143
89. OLD MOTHER TIPSY-TOE. 143
90. WHO STOLE THE CARDINAL'S HAT? 145

X. GUESSING-GAMES.

91. ODD OR EVEN. 147
92. HUL GUL. 147
93. HOW MANY FINGERS? 148
94. RIGHT OR LEFT. 149
95. UNDER WHICH FINGER? 149
96. COMES, IT COMES. 150
97. HOLD FAST MY GOLD RING. 150
98. MY LADY QUEEN ANNE. 151
99. THE WANDERING DOLLAR. 151
100. THIMBLE IN SIGHT. 152

XI. GAMES OF CHASE.

101. HOW MANY MILES TO BABYLON? 153
102. HAWK AND CHICKENS. 155
103. TAG. 158
104. DEN. 159
105. I SPY. 160
106. SHEEP AND WOLF. 161
107. BLANK AND LADDER. 161
108. BLIND-MAN'S BUFF. 162
109. WITCH IN THE JAR. 163
110. PRISONER'S BASE. 164
111. DEFENCE OF THE CASTLE. 164
112. LIL LIL. 165
113. CHARLEY BARLEY. 165
114. MILKING-PAILS. 166
115. STEALING GRAPES. 167
116. STEALING STICKS. 168
117. HUNT THE SQUIRREL. 168

XII. CERTAIN GAMES OF VERY LITTLE GIRLS.

118. SAIL THE SHIP. 170
119. THREE AROUND. 170
120. IRON GATES. 170
121. CHARLEY OVER THE WATER. 171
122. FROG IN THE SEA. 171
123. DEFIANCE. 172
124. MY LADY'S WARDROBE. 173
125. HOUSEKEEPING. 173
126. A MARCH. 174
127. RHYMES FOR TICKLING. 174

XIII. BALL, AND SIMILAR SPORTS.

128. THE "TIMES" OF SPORTS. 175
129. CAMPING THE BALL. 177
130. HAND-BALL. 178
131. STOOL-BALL. 179
132. CALL-BALL. 181
133. HALEY-OVER. 181
134. SCHOOL-BALL. 182
135. WICKET. 182
136. HOCKEY. 182
137. ROLL-BALL. 183
138. HAT-BALL. 183
139. CORNER-BALL. 183
140. BASE-BALL. 184
141. MARBLES. 185
142. CAT. 186
143. CHERRY-PITS. 187
144. BUTTONS. 187
145. HOP-SCOTCH. 188
146. DUCK ON A ROCK. 189
147. MUMBLETY-PEG. 189
148. FIVE-STONES. 190

XIV. RHYMES FOR COUNTING OUT.

149. COUNTING RHYMES. 194

XV. MYTHOLOGY.

150. LONDON BRIDGE. 204
151. OPEN THE GATES. 212
152. WEIGHING. 212
153. COLORS. 213
154. OLD WITCH. 215
155. THE OGREE'S COOP. 221
156. TOM TIDLER'S GROUND. 221
157. DIXIE'S LAND. 222
158. GHOST IN THE CELLAR. 223
159. THE ENCHANTED PRINCESS. 223
160. THE SLEEPING BEAUTY. 224

APPENDIX.

COLLECTIONS OF CHILDREN'S GAMES. 229
COMPARISONS AND REFERENCES. 232




GAMES AND SONGS

OF

AMERICAN CHILDREN.




INTRODUCTORY.


I.

_THE DIFFUSION AND ORIGIN OF AMERICAN GAME-RHYMES._

"The hideous Thickets in this place[1] were such that Wolfes
and Beares nurst up their young from the eyes of all beholders
in those very places where the streets are full of Girles and
Boys sporting up and downe, with a continued concourse of
people." - "Wonder-working Providence in New England," 1654.

"The first settlers came from England, and were of the middle rank,
and chiefly Friends. * * * In early times weddings were held as
festivals, probably in imitation of such a practice in England.
Relations, friends, and neighbors were generally invited, sometimes
to the amount of one or two hundred. * * * They frequently met
again next day; and being mostly young people, and from under
restraint, practised social plays and sports." - Watson's "Account
of Buckingham and Solebury" (Pennsylvania; settled about 1682).

A majority of the games of children are played with rhymed formulas,
which have been handed down from generation to generation. These we
have collected in part from the children themselves, in greater part
from persons of mature age who remember the usages of their youth;
for this collection represents an expiring custom. The vine of oral
tradition, of popular poetry, which for a thousand years has twined
and bloomed on English soil, in other days enriching with color
and fragrance equally the castle and the cottage, is perishing at
the roots; its prouder branches have long since been blasted, and
children's song, its humble but longest-flowering offshoot, will soon
have shared their fate.

It proves upon examination that these childish usages of play are
almost entirely of old English origin. A few games, it is true, appear
to have been lately imported from England or Ireland, or borrowed from
the French or the German; but these make up only a small proportion of
the whole. Many of the rounds still common in our cities, judging from
their incoherence and rudeness, might be supposed inventions of "Arabs
of the streets;" but these invariably prove to be mere corruptions
of songs long familiar on American soil. The influence of print is
here practically nothing; and a rhyme used in the sports of American
children almost always varies from the form of the same game in Great
Britain, when such now exists.

There are quarters of the great city of New York in which one hears the
dialect, and meets the faces, of Cork or Tipperary. But the children
of these immigrants attend the public school, that mighty engine of
equalization; their language has seldom more than a trace of accent,
and they adopt from schoolmates local formulas for games, differing
more or less from those which their parents used on the other side
of the sea. In other parts of the town, a German may live for years,
needing and using in business and social intercourse no tongue but
his own, and may return to Europe innocent of any knowledge of the
English speech. Children of such residents speak German in their
homes, and play with each other the games they have brought with them
from the Fatherland. But they all speak English also, are familiar
with the songs which American children sing, and employ these too in
their sports. There is no transference from one tongue to another,
unless in a few cases, when the barrier of rhyme does not exist. The
English-speaking population, which imposes on all new-comers its
language, imposes also its traditions, even the traditions of children.

A curious inquirer who should set about forming a collection of
these rhymes, would naturally look for differences in the tradition
of different parts of the Union, would desire to contrast the
characteristic amusements of children in the North and in the
South, descendants of Puritan and Quaker. In this he would find
his expectations disappointed, and for the reason assigned. This
lore belongs, in the main, to the day before such distinctions came
into existence; it has been maintained with equal pertinacity, and
with small variations, from Canada to the Gulf. Even in districts
distinguished by severity of moral doctrines, it does not appear that
any attempt was made to interfere with the liberty of youth. Nowhere
have the old sports (often, it is true, in crude rustic forms) been
more generally maintained than in localities famous for Puritanism.
Thus, by a natural law of reversion, something of the music, grace,
and gayety of an earlier period of unconscious and natural living has
been preserved to sweeten the formality, angularity, and tedium of an
otherwise beneficial religious movement.

It is only within the century that America has become the land of
motion and novelty. During the long colonial period, the quiet
towns, less in communication with distant settlements than with the
mother-country itself, removed from the currents of thought circulating
in Europe, were under those conditions in which tradition is most
prized and longest maintained. The old English lore in its higher
branches, the ballad and the tale, already belonging to the past at
the time of the settlement, was only sparingly existent among the
intelligent class from which America was peopled; but such as they
did bring with them was retained. Besides, the greater simplicity and
freedom of American life caused, as it would seem, these childish
amusements to be kept up by intelligent and cultivated families after
the corresponding class in England had frowned them down as too
promiscuous and informal. But it is among families with the greatest
claims to social respectability that our rhymes have, in general, been
best preserved.

During the time of which we are writing, independent local usages
sprang up, so that each town had oftentimes its own formulas and names
for children's sports; but these were, after all, only selections from
a common stock, one place retaining one part, another, of the old
tradition. But in the course of the last two generations (and this is a
secondary reason for the uniformity of our games in different parts of
the country) the extension of intercourse between the States has tended
to diffuse them, so that petty rhymes, lately invented, have sometimes
gained currency from Maine to Georgia.

We proceed to speak of our games as they exist on the other side of the
sea. A comparison with English and Scotch collections shows us very few
games mentioned as surviving in Great Britain which we cannot parallel
in independent forms. On the other hand, there are numerous instances
in which rhymes of this sort, still current in America, do not appear
to be now known in the mother-country, though they oftentimes have
equivalents on the continent of Europe. In nearly all such cases it
is plain that the New World has preserved what the Old World has
forgotten; and the amusements of children to-day picture to us the
dances which delighted the court as well as the people of the Old
England before the settlement of the New.[2]

To develop the interest of our subject, however, we must go beyond
the limits of the English tongue. The practice of American children
enables us to picture to ourselves the sports which pleased the infancy
of Froissart and Rabelais.[3] A dramatic action of the Virginia hills
preserves the usage of Färöe and Iceland, of Sweden and Venice.[4] We
discover that it is an unusual thing to find any remarkable childish
sport on the European continent which failed to domesticate itself
(though now perhaps forgotten) in England. It is thus vividly and
irresistibly forced upon our notice, that the traditions of the
principal nations of Europe have differed little more than the dialects
of one language, the common tongue, so to speak, of religion, chivalry,
and civilization.

A different explanation has been given to this coincidence. When
only the agreement, in a few cases, of English and German rhymes
was noticed, it was assumed that the correspondence was owing to
race-migration; to the settlement in England of German tribes, who
brought with them national traditions. The present volume would
be sufficient to show the untenability of such an hypothesis. The
resemblance of children's songs in different countries, like the


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