Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Children's Rhymes. Children's Games, Children' s Songs, Children's Stories
Rhymes of the Nursery


WRITING on the subject of nursery rhymes more than half a century ago, the late Dr. Robert Chambers expressed regret because, as he said, "nothing had of late been revolutionised so much as the nursery." But harking back on the period of his own childhood, he was able to say, with a feeling of satisfaction, that the young mind was then "cradled amidst the simplicities of the uninstructed intellect; and she was held to be the best nurse who had the most copious supply of song, and tale, and drollery, at all times ready to soothe and amuse her young charges. There were, it is true, some disadvantages in the system; for sometimes superstitious terrors were implanted, and little were taken to distinguish between what tended to foster the evil and what tended to elicit the better feelings of infantile nature. Yet the ideas which presided over the scene," he continues, "and rung through it all the day in light gabble and jocund song, were simple, often beautiful ideas, generally well expressed, and unquestionably suitable to the capacities of children. . . . There was no philosophy about these gentle dames: But there was generally endless kindness, and a wonderful power of keeping their little flock in good humour. It never occurred to them that children were anything but children—`Bairns are just bairns,' my old nurse would say--and they never once thought of beginning to make them amen and women while still little more than able to speak." They did not; and, in the common homes of Scotland, they do not to this hour. The selfsame rhymes and drollery which amused Dr. Chambers as a child are amusing and engaging the minds and exercising the faculties of children over all the land even now. I question if there is a child anywhere north of the Tweed who has not been entertained by:-

Brow, brow, brinkie,
Ee, ee, winkie,
Nose, nose, nebbie,
Cheek, cheek, cherrie,
Mou. mon, merry,
Chin, chin, chuckie,
Curry-wurry! Curry-wurry! etc.

Or the briefer formula, referring only to the brow, the eye, the nose, and the mouth, which runs:—

Chap at the door,
Keek in,
Lift the sneck,
Walk in.

And it was only the other evening that I saw a father with his infant son on his knee, having a little hand spread nut, and entertaining its owner by travelling from thumb to little finger, and repeating the old catch:-

This is the man that broke the barn,
This is the magi that stole the corn,
This is the man that ran awa',
This is the man that tell't a',
And puir Pirly Winkie paid for a', paid for a'.

As well as its fellow-rhyme:-

This little pig went to the market,
This little pig stayed at home
This little pig got roast beef,
This little pig got none
This little pig cried, Squeak! squeak!
I can't find my way home.

Then the nonsense rhymes and capers that have delighted the nursery life of Scotland for many generations, none, of course, could be more delectable—Hume. more suitable. While charming the sense, they have awakened imagination and developed poetic fancy in thousands who otherwise might have blundered into old age proving stolid and uninteresting men and women. They are, for this reason, part and parcel of every properly-balanced life, and the healthy and happy mind can never let them go.

Johnny Smith, my fallow fine.
Can you shoe this horse o' mine?
Yes, indeed, and that I can,
Just as weel as ony man.
Ca' a nail into the tae,
To gar the pownie climb the brae
Ca' a nail into the heel,
To gar the pownie trot weel.
There's a nail, and there's a broil,
There's a pownie weel shod,
Weel shod, weel shod, weel shod pownie.

What pleasing recollections of his own early childhood many a father has had when, sitting with his child on his knee, he has demonstrated and chanted that rude rhyme by the fireside o' nights far, as often has been the case, from the scene where he learned it! To know such is to realise one, at least, of the various reasons why the old delight in the frolics of the young.

Hush-a-by baby on the the tree top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
And down will come cradle and baby and all.

This is a rhyme which every child "has joyed to hear." Its origin, as told in the records of the Boston (U.S.) Historical Society, is not more curious than beautiful and significantly. "Shortly after our forefathers landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts (I am quoting), a party were out in the fields where the Indian women were picking strawberries. Several of the women, or squaws as they were called, had papooses--that is babies--and. having no cradle, they had them tied up in Indian fashion and hung from the limbs of the surrounding trees. Sure enough, when the wind blew these cradles would rock! A young man of the party observing this, pulled off a piece of bark and wrote off the above words, which is believed to be the first poetry written in America." Several have curious histories.

Little Jack Homer
Sat in a corner
Eating his Christmas pie
He put in his thumb
And pulled out a plum,
And said, What a good boy am I.

Master Horner, it appears, was not a myth, but a real personage. Tradition tells that when Henry VIII. suppressed the monasteries, and drove the poor old monks from their nests, the title-deeds of the Abbey of Mells, including the sumptuous grange built by Abbot Bellwood, were demanded by the Commissioners. The Abbot of Glastonbury determined instead that he would send them to London; and, as the documents were very valuable, and the road was infested by thieves, to get them to the metropolis safely he ordered a pie to be made, as fine as ever smoked on a refectory table, inside of which the precious documents were placed, and this dainty be entrusted to a lad named Horner to carry up to London and deliver into the hands of the party for whom it was intended. But the journey was long, the day was cold, the boy was hungry, the pie was tempting, and the chances of detection, the youth presumed, were small. So he broke the crust of the pie, and behold the parchment. He pulled it forth innocently enough, wondering by what chance it could have reached there, and arrived in town. The parcel was delivered, but the title-deeds of Mells Abbey estate were missing. Jack had them in his pocket, and now learning their value—he kept them there. These were the juiciest plums in the pie. Great was the rage of the Commissioners, heavy the vengeance they dealt out to the monks. But Jack kept his secret and the documents, and when peaceful times were restored he claimed the estates and received them. So goes the story; and it may be true. But, then, in the light of its truth, whether Master Horner deserved the title of "good boy" bestowed on him by the rhyme will be more than doubtful.

We all know the lines,

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day,
It was against the rule,
And made the children laugh and play,
To see a lamb at school.

These verses were founded, it appears, on an actual circumstance, and the heroine Mary may be still living. Less than eighty years ago she was a little girl, the daughter of a farmer in Worcester County, Massachusetts, U.S. One spring her father brought a feeble lamb into the house, and Mary adopted it as her especial pet. It became so fond of her that it would follow her everywhere. One day it followed her to the village school, and, not knowing well what to do with it there, the girl put it under her desk and covered it over with her shawl. There it stayed until Mary was called up with her class to the teacher's desk to say her lesson but then the lamb went quietly after her, and the whole school burst out laughing. Soon after, John Rollstone, a fellow-student with Mary, wrote a little rhyme commemorating the incident, and the verses went rapidly from lip to lip, giving the greatest delight to all. The lamb grew up to be a sheep. and lived many years; and when it died Mary grieved so much that her mother took some of its wool, which was "white as snow," and knitted for her a pair of stockings to wear in remembrance of her pet. Some years after, Mrs. Sarah Hall composed additional verses to those of John Rollstone, making the complete rhyme as we know it.

[The following are the added lines referred to:-

And so the teacher turned him out,
But still he lingered near,
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did appear.

And then he ran to her, and laid
His head upon her arm.
As if he said, "I'm not afraid,
You'll shield me from all harm."

"What makes the lamb love Mary so?"
The eager children cry.
Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know,"
The teacher did reply.]

Mary took such good care of the stockings made from her lamb's fleece that when she was a grown-up woman she was able to give one of them to a church bazaar in Boston. As soon as it became known that the stocking was from the fleece of "Mary's little lamb," every one wanted a piece of it. So the stocking was unravelled, and the yarn cut into short pieces. Each piece was fastened to a card on which Mary wrote her full name, and those cards sold so well that they brought the handsome sum of £28 to the Old South Church in Boston.

Humpty--Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty--Dumpty had a great fall
Not all the King's horses, nor all the King's men,
Could set Humpty-Dumpty up again.

Attempts have been made to show how that was suggested by the fall of a bold bad baron who lived in the days of King John; but every child more than ten years old knows that the lines resent a conundrum, the answer to winch is -- an egg. And yet, were it no conundrum, but only a nonsense rhyme, its fascination for the budding intellect would be no less. It is enough when, with the jingle of rhyme, the imagination, is tickled, as in---

Cripple Dick upon a stick,
And Sandy on a soo,
Ride away to Galloway
To buy a pund o' woo';

or yet again in:-

Sing a sang o' saxpence,
A baggie fu' o' rye,
Four-and-twenty blackbirds,
Bakit in a pie.
When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing
And wasna that a dainty dish
To set before the King?

The king was in his counting-house
Counting out his money,
The Queen was in the parlour
Eating bread and honey,
The maid was in the garden
Hanging out the clothes,
When by came a blackbird
And snapped aff her nose.

For such supreme nonsense no historical origin need be sought, surely. Yet part of the latter has been at least applied to a historical personage in a way that is worth recalling. Dr. H. J. Pye, who was created Poet Laureate in succession to Thomas Warton, in 1790, was, as a poet, regularly made fun of. In his New Year Odes there were perpetual references to the coming spring: and, in the dearth of more important topics, each tree and field-flower were described: and the lark, and every other bird that could be brought into rhyme, were sure to appear; and his poetical and patriotic olla podrida ultimately provoked the adaptation:

When the Pve was opened,
The birds began to sing,
And was not that a dainty dish,
To set before a king?

But to take the rhymes only by themselves. Action rhymes, by reason of their practical drollery, never fail to amuse. And among, the very earliest practised is the following. The nurse, with the child on her knee, takes a little foot in either hand, and, making them go merrily up and down, she sings:---

This is Willie Walker, and that's Tam Sim,
He ca'd him to a feast, and he ca'd him;
He sticket him on the spit, and he sticket him
And he owre him, and he owre him,
And he owre him, and he owre him, etc.

Then, to keep up the diversion, may follow in the same manner:--

Twa little doggies gaed to the mill,
This way and that way, and this way and that way
They took a lick out o' this wife's poke,
And a lick they took out o' that wife's poke.
And a loop in the lade, and a dip in the dam,
And hame they cam' wallopin', wallopin', wallopin',
etc.

Or:-

Feetikin, feetikin,
When will ye gang?
When the nights turn short,
And the days turn lang,
I'll toddle and gang, toddle and gang.

Should more active entertainment be demanded, the child will be set bold upright on one knee, and, suiting the action to the line, the rhyme will be:—

This is the way the ladies ride,
Jimp and sma', jimp and sma'
This is the way the gentlemen ride,
Trotting a', trotting a' ;
This is the way the cadgers ride,
Creels and a'! creels and a'!!
Creels and a'!!!

For variety's sake, on an easier swing, may follow:--

A' the nicht owre and owre,
And a' the nicht owre again
A' the nicht owre and owre
The peacock followed the hen.

The hen's a hungry beast,
The cock is hollow within
But there's nae deceit in a puddin',
A pie's a dainty thing.

A' the nicht owre and owre.—Da Capo.

Or, yet more to engage the intellect may come:—

Poussie, poussie, baudrons,
Whaur ha'e ye been?
I've been to London
Seeing the Queen.

Poussie, poussie, baudrons,
What gat ye there?
I gat a good fat mousikie,
Rinning up a stair.

Poussie, poussie, baudrons,
What did ye wi't?
I put it in my meal-poke
To eat it wi' my bread.

Or:-

Hushie-ba, birdie beeton,
Your mammie's gane to Seaton,
For to buy a lammie's skin
To row your bonnie boukie in.

and:-

Bye baby, buntin',
Daddie's gane a-huntin':-
Mammie's gane to buy a skin,
To row the baby buntin' in.

East Coast mothers sing:--

Ding dang, bell rang,
Cattie's in the well, man.
Fa' dang her in, man?
Jean and Sandy Din, man.
Fa' took her out, man?
Me and Willie Cout, man,
A' them that kent her
When she was alive,
Come to the burialie
Between four and five.

Again:—

Eezy ozy moolin's o' bread,
Kens na whaur to lay her head,
Atween the Kirkgate and the Cross
There stands a bonnie white horse,
It can gallop, it can trot,
It can carry the mustard-pot.

And yet again:-

Willie Warstle, auld Carle,
Dottered, dune, and doited bodie,
Feeds his weans on calfs' lugs,
Sowps o' prose, and drabs o' crowdie.

In Arbroath and district, mothers, indicating the various parts of the child's anatomy as they proceed, sing:--

Brow o' knowledge,
Eve o' life,
Scent bottle,
Penknife.
Cheek cherry,
Neck o' grace,
Chin o' pluck
That's your face.
Shoulder o' mutton,
Breast o' fat,
Vinegar-bottle,
Mustard-pot-
That's my laddie.

Touching severally the various buttons on the child's dress during its repetition, this sort of fortune-telling rhyme is common:–

A laird, a lord,
A rich man, a thief,
A. tailor, a drummer,
A stealer o' beef.

Or supposing for the nonce that the child is a piece of cooper-work, requiring to be mended, the following, accompanied by the supposed process, may be sung:-

Donald Coopar, Carle, quo' she,
Can ye gird my coogie?
Couthie Carline, that I can,
As weel as ony bodie.
There's ane about the mon' o't,
And ane about the body o't,
And ane about the legen o't,
And that's a girded coggie!

The next is lilted as an accompaniment to a pretended game of thumps:—

Bontin's man
To the town ran;
He coffed and sold,
And a penny down told;
The kirk was ane, and the choir was twa,
And a great muckle thump doon aboon a',
Doon aboon a', doon aboon a'.

The following (as Dr. Chambers remarks) explains its own theatrical character:—

I got a little manikin, I set him on my thoomiken;
I saddled him, I bridled him, I sent him to the tooniken
I coffed a pair o' garters to tie his little hosiken
I coffed a pocket-napkin to light his little nosiken;
I sent him to the garden to fetch a pund o' sage
And found him in the kitchen-neuk kissing little Madge.

While dandling the child on her knee the mother or nurse may sing:—

I had a little pony,
Its name was Dapple Grey
I lent it to a lady,
To ride a mile away.

She whipped it, she lashed it,
She ca'd it owre the brae
I winna lend my pony mair,
Though a' the ladies pray.

In the same manner the above may be followed by:-

Chick! my naigie,
Chick! my naigie,
How many miles to Aberdaigy?
Eight and eight, and other eight
Try to win there by candlelight.

Or:-

Cam' ye by the kirk?
Cam' ye by the steeple
Saw ye our gudeman,
Riding on a ladle?

Foul fa' the bodie,
Winna buy a saddle,
Wearing a' his breeks,
Riding on a ladle!

Or again:--

The cattie rade to Passelet,
To Passelet, to Passelet,
The cattie rade to Passelet,
Upon a harrow-tine, O.

'Twas on a weetie Wednesday,
Wednesday, Wednesday:
'Twas on a weetie Wednesday,
I missed it aye sin sync, O.

Lighting a stick, and making it wave to and fro, so as to form a semi-circle of red fire before the child's eyes. the nurse will sing or croon:-

Dingle, dingle dousy,
The cat's at the well,
The dog's awa' to Musselbro'
To buy the bairn a bell.

Greet, greet bairnie,
And ye'se get a bell
If ye dinna greet faster,
I'll keep it to mysel'.

Or again, dangling the child, the entertainment may be what some Perthshire children know well:-

Riding on a horsie, never standing still,
Doun by St. Martins, and owre by Newmill.
In by Guildtown and round by Cargill,
Richt up Burstbane, and owre by Gallowhill,
Yont by the Harelaw, and doun to Wolfhill,
And that's the way to ride a horse and never stand still.

Or the universal favourite may ensue:—

Ride a Cock-Horse to Banbury Cross,
To see an old woman ride on a white horse
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
She shall have music wherever she goes.

Or:-

Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon
The little dog laughed,
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

In a reposeful attitude, such rhymes as follow may be employed:-

Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down
And broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.
 


Shoo shuggie, owre the glen.
Mammie's pet, and daddie's hen.
 


Baa, baa, black sheep, have von any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full
One for the master, one for the. dame,
One for the little boy that lives in the lane.
 


Goosey, Goosey Gander,
Where shall I wander?
Upstairs, downstairs,
And in my lady's chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn't say his prayers,
I took him by the left leg,
And threw him downstairs.
 


Old Mother Hubbard, she went to the cupboard,
To fetch her poor doggie a bone
But when she got there, the cupboard was bare,
And so the poor doggie got none.
 


Little Polly Flinders
Sat among the cinders,
Warming her pretty little toes,
Her mother came and caught her,
And whipped her little daughter
For spoiling her nice new clothes.
 


Tom, Tom, the pipers son,
Stole a pig and away he run
Pig was eat, and Tom was beat,
And Tom went roaring down the street.
 


Little Betty Blue
Has lost her holiday shoe,
Give her another
To match the other.
And then she will walk in two.
 


Three blind mice; three blind mice
See how they run: see how they run
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off' their tails with a earring knife,
Did ever you see such fools in your life?
Three blind mice!
 


Mary, Mary,
Quite contrairy,
Ho' does your garden grow?
Silver bells,
And cockle shells,
And pretty-maids all in a row.
 


Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man!
Bake a cake as fast as you can;
Prick it, and pat it, and mark it with T,
And put it in the oven for Tommy and me.
 


Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
There came a great spider
And sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away.
 


Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean
And so, betwixt them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.
 


Little Tom Tucker
Sang for his supper.
What shall we give him?
Brown bread and butter.
How shall he cut it
Without any a knife
How shall he marry
Without any wife?
 


See-saw, Margery Daw,
Jenny shall have a new master;
She shall have but a penny a day,
Because she can't work any faster.
 


Roun', roun' rosie, cuppie, cuppie shell,
The dog's awa' to Hamilton, to buy a new bell;
If you don't tak' it, I'll tak' it to mysel',
Roun', roun' rosie, cuppie, cuppie shell.
 


Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief,
Taffy came to my house, and stole a piece of beef;
I went to T'affy's house, Taffy was not at home
Taffy carne to my house, and stole a marrow-hone.
I went to Taffy's house, Taffy was in bed,
I took up a broomstick and flung it at his head.
 


The lion and the unicorn
Fighting for the crown
Up jumps a wee dog
And knocks them both down.

Some got white bread,
And some got brown
But the lion heat the unicorn
AlI round the town.
 


'There was at wee wifie row'd up in a blanket,
Nineteen times as high as the moon
And what she slid there I canna declare,
For in her oxter she bure the sun.

Wee wifie, wee wifie, wee wifie, quo' I
O what are ye doing there so high?
I'm blawin' the cauld clouds out o' the sky.
Weel dune, Weel dune, wee wifie, quo' I.
 


What ca' they you?
They call me Tam Taits
What do ye do?
I feed sheep and gaits!

Where feed they?
Doun in yon bog
What eat they?
Gerse and fog!

What gie they?
Milk and whey
Wha sups that?
Tam Taits and I!
 


The laverock and the lintie,
The robin and the wren
Gin ye harry their nests,
Ye'll never thrive again.
 


During a hail-storm country-children sing:-

Rainy, rainy rattle-stanes,
Dinnat rain on me;
But rain on Johnnie Groat's House,
Far owre the sea.

Again, when snow is falling:-

Snaw, snaw, flee awa'
Owre the hills and far awa'.

Towards the yellow-hammer, or yellow-yite—bird of beautiful plumage though it be—because it is the subject of an unaccountable superstitious notion, which credits it with drinking a drop of the devil's blood every May morning, the children of Scotland cherish no inconsiderable contempt, which finds expression in the rhyme:-

Half a puddock, half a taed,
Half a yellow yorling;
Drinks a drab o' the deil's blood
Every May morning.

On the East Coast, when the seagulls fly inland in search of food, the children, not desiring, their appearance—because probably of the old superstition that they are prone to pick out the eyes of people—cry to them:-

Seamaw, seamaw, my mither's awa'
For pouther an' lead, to shoot ye dead
Pit-oo! pit-oo! pit-oo!

To the lark's song; the young mind gives language, in a kindly way, thus:—

Larikie, larikie, lee!
Wha'll gang up to heaven wi' me?
No the lout that lies in his bed,
No the doolfu' that dreeps his head.

Interpreting similarly the lapwing'scry, they retaliate with:—

Peese-weep! Peese-weep!
Harry my nest, and gar me greet!

Of the cuckoo they have this common rhyme:---

The cuckoo is a bonnie bird,
He sings as he flies;
He brings us good tidings
He tells us no lies.

He drinks the cold water
To keep his voice clear;
And he'll come again
In the Spring of the year.

The lady-bird, or "Leddy Lanners," is a favourite insect with children, and is employed by them to discover their future partners in life. When a boy or girl finds one, he, or she, as the case may be, places it on the palm of his, or her, hand, and repeats, until it flies off, the lines:—

Leddy, Leddy Lanners,
Leddy, Leddy Lanners,
Tak' up yer cloak about yer head
An' flee awa' to Flann'ers;
Flee ower firth, an' flee ower fell,
Flee ower pool, an' rinnin' well,
Flee ower bill, an' flee ower mead,
Flee ower livin', flee ower dead,
Flee ower corn, an' flee ower lea,
Flee ower river, flee ower sea,
Flee ye East, or flee ye West,
Flee to the ane that loves me best.

The following rhyme, old and curious, and still not unknown to the young in Scotland and England alike, has many varieties:—

Matthew , Mark, Luke, and John,
Bless the bed that I lie on
Four posties to my bed,
Six angels are outspread:
Two to bottom, two to head,
One to watch me while I pray.
One to bear my soul away.

After the first two lines it goes sometimes:—

Four corners to my bed,
Four angels round my head
One to read and one to write,
Two to guard my bed at night.

And often the closing lines run:-

One to watch and two to pray,
One to keep all fears away.

In an old MS. by Aubrey, in the British Museum, he states that this was a prayer regularly used by people when they went to bed. Then Ody, in his Candle in the Dark, 1656, tells that it was frequently used by old people as a charm, and was repeated three times before going to bed. Launcelot Sharpe, in his Tonnely Mysteries, 1838, relates that he had often, when a boy, heard similar words used in Kent as a prayer.

Since about the time of the Crimean Affair—and more immediately after then than now—the children of Glasgow have shouted in the streets:—

Saw ye the Forty-Second?
Saw ye them gaun awa'?
Saw ye the Forty-Second
Marching to the Broomielaw?
Some o' them had boots an' stockin's,
Some o' them had nane ava;
Some of them had tartan plaidies,
Marching to the Broomielaw.

At an earlier period they had:-

Wha saw the Cotton-spinners?
Wha saw them gaun awa'?
Wha saw the Cotton-spinners
Sailing frae the Broomielaw?
Some o' them had boots an' stockin's,
Some co' them had nane ava
Some o' their had umbrellas
For to keep the rain awa'.

There are many similar entertainments which these suggest. But to follow in extent the out-door rhymes of the bairns would carry us beyond the prescribed limits of this chapter. None have been cited, so far, that do not belong absolutely to the nursery; and the collection of these even, though fairly ample, is not so full as it might be. We will conclude with a few, each of which forms a puzzle or conundrum---some of them, in all conscience, gruesome enough, and full of terrible mystery—but, individually, well calculated to awaken thought and stir imagination in an youthful circle.

As I gaed owre the Brig o' Perth
I met wi' George Bawhannan;
I took of his head, and drank his bluid,
And left his body stannin'.

[A bottle of wine.]

As I looked owre my window at tell o'clock at nicht.
I saw the dead carrying the living.

[A ship sailing.]

Hair without and hair within,
A' hair, and nae skin.

[A hair rope.]

Three feet up, cauld and dead,
Twa feet dour, flesh and bluid
The head o' the livin' in the mouth o' the dead:
An auld maim wi' a pot on his head.

[Last line is the answer.]

There was a mail o' Adam's race.
Wha had a certain dwellin' place
It was neither in heaven, earth, nor hell,
Tell me where this man did dwell.

[Jonah in the whale's belly.]

A Ha'penny here, an' a ha'penny there,
Fourpence-ha'penny and a ha'penny-mair
A ha'penny weet, an a ha'penny dry,
Fourpence-ha'penny an' a ha'penny forby
How much is that?

[A shilling.]

'There was a Prophet on this earth,
His age no man could tell
He was at his greatest height
Before e'en Adam fell.

His wives are very numerous,
Yet he maintaineth none;
And at the day of reckoning
He bids them all begone.

He wears his boots when he should sleep,
His spurs are ever new
There's no a shoemaker on a' the earth
Can fit him wi' a shoe.

[A cock.]

Riddle me, riddle me, rot-tot-tot,
A wee, wee roan in a red, red coat
A staff in his hand and a stane in his throat,
Riddle me, riddle me, rot-tot-tot.

[A cherry.]

There was a plan made a thing,
And he that made it did it bring
But he 'twas made for did not know
Whether 'twas a thing or no.

[A coffin.]

Pease-porridge het, pease-porridge cauld,
Pease-porridge in a pot ten days auld
Spell me that in four letters.

[T - H - A - T.]

I sat wi' my love, and I drank wi' my love,
And my love she gave me light
I'll give any man a pint o' wine
To read my riddle right.

[He sat in a chair made of his mistress's bones, drank out of her skull, and was lighted by a candle made of the substance of her body.]

Mouth o' horn, and beard o' leather
Ye'll no guess that were ye hanged in a tether.

[A cock.]

Bonnie Katie Brannie stand,, at the wa',
Gi'e her little, gi'e her muckle, she licks up a';
Gi'e her staves, she eats them—but water, she'll dee,
Come, tell this bonnie riddleum to me.

[The fire.]

Down in you meadow
There sails a boat;
And in that boat
The King's son sat.
I'm aye telling ye,
But we're no calling.
Hoo they ca' the King's son
In the boat sailing.

[Hoo, or Hugh.]

As I gaed owre Bottle-brig,
Bottle-brig brak';
Though ye guess a' day,
Ye winna guess that.

[The ice.]

If Dick's father is John's son,
What relation is Dick to John?

[His grandson.]

The brown bull o' Baverton,
Gaed owre the hill o' Haverton;
He dashed his head atween twa stanes
And was brought milk-white hame.

[Corn sent to the mill and ground.]

A beautiful lady in a garden was laid,
Her beauty was fair as the sun;
In the first hour of her life she was made a man's wife,
And she died before she was born.

[Eve.]

The minister, the dominie. and Mr. Andrew La.
Went to the garden where three pears hang
Each one took a pear—how many pears then?

[Two: the three persons were one.]

Mon'd like the mill-door, luggit like the cat
Though ye guess a' day, ye'll no guess that.

[An old-fashioned kail-pot.]

There stands a tree at our house-end.
It's a' clad owre wi' leather bend
It'll fecht a bull, it'll fecht a bear,
It'll fecht a thousand men o' wear.

[Death.]

Lang man legless,
Gaed to the door staffless:
Goodwife, put up our deuks and hens
For dogs and cats I carena.

[A worn].

As I gaed to Falkland to a feast,
I met me wi' an ugly beast;
Ten tails, a hunder nails,
And no a fit but ane.

[1 ship.]

As I cam' owre the tap o' Trine,
I met a drove o' Highland swine
Some were black, and some were brawnet,
Some o' them was yellow tappit.
Sic a drove o' Highland swine
Ne'er cam' owre the tap o' Trine.

[A swarm of bees.]

Infir taris, inoknonis
Inmudeelis, inclaynonis.
Canamaretots?

[In fir tar is, innoak none is
In mud eel is, in clay none is.
Can a mare eat oats?]

Wee man o' leather
Gaed through the heather,
Through a rock, through a reel,
Through an auld spinning-wheel,
Through a sheep-shank bane.
Sic a man was never seen.
Wha had he been?

[A beetle.]

'I'he robbers cam' to our house
When we were a' in;
The House lap out at the windows,
And we were a' ta'en.

[Fish caught in a net.]


Return to Book Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast