The Traditional Children's Games of England Scotland
& Ireland In Dictionary Form - Volume 2

With Tunes(sheet music), Singing-rhymes(lyrics), Methods Of Playing with diagrams and illustrations.

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OLD ROGER IS DEAD                            23
are practically the same in incident. One remarkable feature stands out particularly, namely, the planting a tree over the head of the dead, and the spirit-connection which this tree has with the dead. The robbery of the fruit brings back the dead Sir Roger to protect it, and this must be his ghost or spirit. In popular superstition this incident is not uncommon. Thus Aubrey in his Remains of Gentilisme, notes that " in the parish of Ockley some graves have rose trees planted at the head and feet," and then proceeds to say, " They planted a tree or a flower on the grave of their friend, and they thought the soule of the party deceased went into the tree or plant" (p. 155). In Scotland a branch falling from an oak, the Edgewell tree, standing near Dalhousie Castle, portended mortality to the family (Dalyell, Darker Superstitions, p. 504). Compare with this a similar superstition noted in Carew's History of Corn­wall, p. 325, and Mr. Keary's treatment of this cult in his Outlines of Primitive Belief, pp. 66-67. In folk-tales this incident also appears; the spirit of the dead enters the tree and resents robbery of its fruit, possession of which gives power over the soul or spirit of the dead.
The game is, therefore, not merely the acting of a funeral, but more particularly shows the belief that a dead person is cognisant of actions done by the living, and capable of re­senting personal wrongs and desecration of the grave. It shows clearly the sacredness of the grave; but what, perhaps to us, is the most interesting feature, is the way in which the game is played. This clearly shows a survival of the method of portraying old plays. The ring of children act the part of " chorus," and relate the incidents of the play. The three actors say nothing, only act their several parts in dumb show. The raising and lowering of the arms on the part of the child who plays " apple tree," the quiet of "Old Roger" until he has to jump up, certainly show the early method of actors when details were presented by action instead of words. Children see no absurdity in being a " tree," or a " wall," "apple," or animal. They simply are these things if the game demands it, and they think nothing of incongruities.
I do not, of course, suggest that children have preserved in







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