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NEGRO FOLK RHYMES
for the purpose did not exist. I have often watched with interest a chicken hen lead forth her brood of young for the first time. While the scratching and feeding are going on, all of a sudden the hen utters a loud shriek, and flaps her wings. The little chicks, although they have never seen a hawk, scurry hither and thither, and so prostrate their little brown and ashen bodies upon the ground as almost to conceal themselves. The Negro Folk Rhymes of warning must be looked upon a little in this same light. They are but the strains of terror given by the promptings of a mother instinct full enough of love to give up life itself for its defenseless own.
Many Rhymes were used to convey to children the common sense truths of life, hidden beneath their comic, crudely cut coats. Good examples are "Old Man Know-All," "Learn to Count," and "Shake the Persimmons Down." All through the Rhymes will be found here and there many stanzas full of common uncommon sense, worthwhile for children.
Many Negro Folk Rhymes repeated or sung to children on their parents' knees were enlarged and told to them as stories, when they became older. The Rhyme in our collection on "Judge Buzzard" is one of this kind. In the Negro version of the