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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WE ARE THE ROVERS
357
marches between Wales and England. Contests between different nationalities living in one town or place, as at Southampton and Nottingham, would also tend to produce this game. That the game represents this kind of conflict rather than an ordinary battle between independent countries is shown by several significant points. These are, the dialogue between the opposing parties before the fight begins, the men­tion of bread, ale, or other food, and more particularly the threat to appeal to the civil authorities, called in the different versions, magistrates, blue coat men, red coat men, highest men, policemen, and Cripple Dick. Such an appeal is only applicable where the opposing parties were, theoretically at all events, subordinate to a superior authority. The derision, too, with which the threat is received by the assailants is in strict accord with the facts of Border society. Scott in Waverley and the Black Dwarf describes such a raid, and the suggestion to appeal to the civil authority in lieu of a raid is met with the cry of such an act being useless. The passage from the Black Dwarf is : "' We maun tak the law wi' us in thae days, Simon/ answered the more prudent elder. 'And besides,' said another old man, ' I dinna believe there's ane now living that kens the lawful mode of following a fray across the Border. Tam o' Whittram kend a' about it; but he died in the hard winter.' ' Hout,' exclaimed another of these dis­cording counsellors, ' there's nae great skill needed; just put a lighted peat on the end of a spear, a hayfork, or siclike, and blaw a horn and cry the gathering word, and then it's lawful to follow gear into England and recover it by the strong hand, or to take gear frae some other Englishmen, providing ye lift nae mair than's been lifted frae you. That's the auld Border law made at Dundrennan in the days of the Black Douglas.'" In Waverley the hero suggests (l to send to the nearest garrison for a party of soldiers and a magistrate's warrant," but is told that " he did not understand the state of the country and of the political parties which divided it" (chap. xv.). The position of this part of the country is best understood from the evidence of legal records, showing how slowly the king's record ran in these parts. Thus Mr. Clifford (Hist, of Private Legislation)







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