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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/368

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352 Collectanea.

given here are old and well known, in the sense that there is nothing new about them, but they appear to me to be falling into a degree of desuetude which must eventually lead to their being lost. I have found it difficult indeed to meet persons who know anything of such things, and of those who ever have known, the number who had more than a hazy recollection or could give an intelligible account of what they knew was smaller still. Vague ideas about slip-knots and reef-knots, equally vague reminiscences of forgotten tricks, cat's cradle dwindled to a single imperfectly understood figure-— these have been my experi- ences. It is much to be wished that forms of words or gestures used to accompany tricks of these kind, as well as their names, should be recorded. In my own case all such additions had been lost by those who taught me mine — thus, the first time I was shown the series of figures which is known under the name of the pound of candles there was no story to go with it. It is not unlikely that the tricks I give here may have had appro- priate names, and if any student knows of such he would do a service by recording them. The names I have given them are in most cases simply names of convenience used by myself as a boy, and have no authority.

With regard to the language used in the descriptions, I have thought it better to dispense with the Haddon-Rivers nomen- clature where there seemed a reasonable hope of being intelligible without it. It, or some equivalent, is, I believe, indispensable for the study of Pacific and North American string figures, but in shorter tricks it has seemed to me that the absolute accuracy which it promises may sometimes be obtained at the expense of general clearness and brevity. Moreover, I believe it is pursuing a Will o' the wisp to try and find language which will force the meaning on a person who desires to misunderstand, especially with a tongue like English, which so constantly pre- sumes an intelligent relation between speaker and hearer. On the other hand, mistakes in description or misapprehensions of the meaning may often be corrected by accompanying diagrams. I have accordingly, wherever I thought that the meaning could be doubtful, drawn diagrams, which, if they leave something to be desired, will still, I hope, be found true and sufficiently