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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suitors, apparently desire a particular person in marriage, and although there is no wooing of that person a demand is made for her. These suitors are, I think, making the demand on the part of another rather than for themselves. They are the ambassadors or friends of the would-be bridegrooms, and are soliciting for a marriage in which purchase money or dowry is to be paid. The mention of "gold and silver" in many versions, and the line, "she must be sold," is important.
All these indications of purchase refer to a time when the custom of offering gold, money, or other valuables for a bride was in vogue. While, therefore, the game has traces of carry­ing off the bride, this carrying off is in strict accord with the conditions prevalent when marriage by purchase had succeeded to marriage b) capture. The bargaining spirit is not much " en evidence " in this game, not, that is to say, in the same sense as is shown in "Three Sailors," p. 282, but there is sufficient evidence of a mercantile spirit to prove that women and girls were too valuable to be parted with by their own tribe or family without something deemed equivalent being given in return. There is a desire shown to possess the girl for her beauty; and that a choice of a suitor could or would be made is shown by the remarks that she is too young and does not know the language and customs of this suitor.
The mention of the spurs conveys the suggestion that the suitors or ambassadors are men of quality and renown. To win their spurs was an object greatly desired by all young men. Their reply to the taunt that their spurs are " dull" may mean that they are not bright from use, and may also show the idea that these men have come on a journey from some distance for a bride or brides, and this only is responsible for their spurs not being as bright as usual. Again, being "richly wrought" is probably an indication of wealth or consequence. Mention must be made of the mead not being made nor the cake yet baked, which occurs in two versions. If these two versions can be considered old ones, this would tend to show evidence of the ceremony of the eating together of particular food, which forms the most important element in primitive marriage ceremonies.

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