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Children's Rhymes. Children's Games, Children's Songs, Children's Stories
Children's Rhyme-Games - Janet Jo


"Janet Jo," widely played, has for dramatis personae, a Father, a Mother, Janet, and a Lover. Janet lies stretched at full length behind the scenes. The father and mother stand revealed to receive the visits of the lover, who approaches singing, to an air somewhat like "The Merry Masons":-

I'm come to court Janet jo,
Janet jo, Janet jo;
I'm come to court Janet jo;
How is she the day?

Parents reply together:-

She's up the stair washin',
Washin', washin';
She's up the stair washin'------
Ye canna see her the day.

The lover retires, and again, and yet again, advances with the same announcement of his object and purpose to which he receives similar evasive answers from Janet's parents, who successively represent her as up the stair "bleaching," ''drying," and "ironing clothes." At last they reply:—

Janet jo's dead and gane,
Dead and gane, dead and gane;
Janet jo's dead and gane
Ye'll see her face nae mae!

She is then carried off to be buried, the lover and the rest weeping. Sometimes she revives (to their great joy), and sometimes not, ad libitum—that is, as Janet herself chooses.

A south-country version (Dr. Chambers tells) differs a little, and represents Janet as "at the Well," instead of upstairs, and afterwards "at the Mill," and so on. A Glasgow edition gives the whole in good west-country prose, and the lover begins: "I've come to court your douhter, Kate Mackleister!"

In the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, "Janet Jo" used to be a dramatic entertainment amongst young rustics. Suppose a party have met on a winter evening round a good peat fire, writes Chalmers, and is resolved to have "Janet Jo" performed. Two undertake to personate a goodman and a goodwife; the rest a family of marriageable daughters. One of the lads—the best singer of the part--retires, and equips himself in a dress proper for representing an old bachelor in search of a wife. He comes in, bonnet in hand, bowing, and sings:-

Gude e'en to ye, maidens a',
Maidens a', maidens a';
Gude e'en to ye, maidens a',
Be ye or no.

I've cone to court Janet jo,
Janet jo, Janet jo ;
I've come to court Janet jo,
Janet, my jo.

Gudewife sings:-

What'll ye gie for Janet jo,
Janet jo, Janet jo;
What'll ye gie for Janet jo,
Janet, my jo?

The wooer replies:-

I'll gie ye a peck o' siller,
A peek o' siller, peck o' siller
I'll gie ye a peck o' siller
For Janet, my jo.

Guidewife exclaims, "Gae awa', ye auld Carle!'' then Sings:---

Ye'se never get Janet jo,
Janet jo, Janet jo;
Ye'se Never get Janet jo,
Janet, my jo.

The wooer hereupon retires, singing a verse expressive of mortification, but soon re-enters with a re-assured air, singing:-


I'll gie ye a peck o' gowd,
A peck o' gowd, peck o' gowd
I'll gie ye a peck o' gowd,
For Janet, my jo.

The matron gives him a rebuff as before, and he again enters, singing an offer of "twa pecks o' gowd," which, however, is also refused. At his next entry he offers "three pecks o' gowd," at which the gudewife brightens up, and sings:—

Come ben beside Janet Jo,
Janet jo, Janet jo ;
Ye're welcome to Janet jo,
Janet, my Jo.

The suitor then advances gaily to his sweetheart, and the affair ends in a scramble for kisses.


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