London Bridge





No game has been more popular with children than this, and any summer

evening, in the poorer quarters of the cities, it may still be seen how

six years instructs three years in the proper way of conducting it. Two

players, by their uplifted hands, form an arch, representing the bridge,

under which passes the train of children, each clinging to the garments

of the predecessor and hurrying to get safely by. As the last verse is

sung the raised Arms of the two directors of the game descend and

enclose the child who happens to be passing at the time. The prisoner

is then led, still confined by the arms of her captors, to the corner

which represents the prison and asked, "Will you have a diamond necklace

or a gold pin?" "A rose or a cabbage?" or some equivalent question. The

keepers have already privately agreed which of the two each of these

objects shall represent, and, according to the prisoner's choice, he is

placed behind one or the other. When all are caught, the game ends with

a "Tug of War," the two sides pulling against each other; and the child

who lets go, and breaks the line, is pointed at and derided. The words

of the rhyme sung while the row passes under the bridge are now reduced

to two lines:



London bridge is falling down,

My fair lady!



London bridge is falling down,

Falling down, falling down,

London bridge is falling down

My fair lady!

You've stole my watch and kept my keys,

My fair lady!

Off to prison you must go,

My fair lady!

Take the key and lock her up,

My fair lady!





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