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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the Mother saying some lines to the eldest daughter, which are almost identical with those given from Hersham, Surrey. Mr. Newell gives some interesting American versions.
This game appears in the versions given above to be a child-stealing game, and it may originate from this being a common practice some years ago, but it will be found on comparison to be so much like " Mother, mother, the pot boils over" (vol. i. p. 396) that it is more probable that this is the same game, having lost the important element of the " giving of fire," or a " light from the fire " out of the house, so soon as the idea that doing this put the inhabitants of the house into the power of the receiver or some evil spirit had become lost as a popular belief. "Matches" being asked for and a "light" confirms this. It will be seen that a Witch or evilly-disposed person is dreaded by the Mother, the eldest Daughter being specially charged to keep a good look-out. The naming of the children after the days of the week, the counting of them by the Mother, and the artifice of the eldest Daughter, in the London version, who gets counted twice, are archaic points. The discovery by tasting of the children by their Mother, and their suggested revival; the catching and " burning" of the Witch in the Dartmouth and Cornish games, are incidents familiar to us from nursery tales and from the trials of people condemned for witchcraft. Of the Cornish version it is said that " it has descended from generation to generation."
Mr. Newell's versions tend, I think, to strengthen my sug­gestion in " Mother, the pot boils over," that the " fire " custom alluded to is the origin of that game and this. The fire incident has been forgotten, and the game therefore developed into a child-stealing or gipsy game.
See " Mother, Mother."
A game among boys, which I do not remember in the South.—Brockett's North Country Words. Probably the same as "Whiddy," which see.
I. Sheep, sheep, come home !
We dare not.

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