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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THREE DUKES                                253
with the disappearance of some of the verses, are all evidently the results of the words being learnt orally, and imperfectly understood, or not understood at all.
In this game, said in Lancashire to be the " oldest play of all," judging both by the words and method of playing, we have, I believe, a distinct survival or remembrance of the tribal marriage—marriage at a period when it was the custom for men of a clan to seek wives from the girls of another clan, both clans belonging to one tribe. The game is a purely marriage game, and marriage in a matter-of-fact way. Young men of a clan or village arrive at the abode of another clan for the purpose of seeking wives, probably at a feast or fair time. The maidens are apparently ready and expecting their arrival. They are as willing to become wives as the dukes are to become husbands. It is not marriage by force or capture, though the triumphant carrying off of a wife appears in some versions. It is exogamous marriage custom, after the tribe had settled down and arranged their system of marriage in lieu of a former more rude system of capture. The suggested depreciation of the girls, and their saucy rejoinders, may be looked upon as so much good-humoured chaff and banter exchanged between the two parties to enhance each other's value, and to display their wit. While it does not follow that the respective parties were complete strangers to one another, these lines may indicate that each individual wished "to have as good a look round as possible " before accepting the offer made. It will be seen that there is no mention of " love " in the game, nor is there any individual courtship between boy and girl. The marriage formula does not appear, nor is there any sign that a " ceremony" or " sanction " to conclude the marriage was necessary, nor does kissing occur in the game.
There is evidence of the tribal marriage system in the survivals of exogamy and marriage by capture occasionally to be noted in traditional local custom. Thus the custom recorded by Chambers (Book of Days, i. 722) of the East Anglians (Suffolk), where whole parishes have intermarried to such an extent that almost everybody is related to or con­nected with everybody else, is distinctly a case in point, the







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