Reading an old book of nursery rhymes with my young daughter yesterday, it struck me how many center on Dickensian child labor and/or indentured servitude. Is this really appropriate, I worried to myself, as I gamely read on to my uncomprehending daughter. For example, here are the lyrics to "Seesaw Marjorie Daw":
"Seesaw Marjorie Daw
Jennie shall have a new master
What shall he pay her
A penny a day
because she can't work any faster"
Ah, for the simpler times when soot-faced waifs cheerfully sang songs while doing piece work in dingy factories. Or how about these lyrics to "Cock-A-Doodle-Doo":
My dame has lost her shoe;
My master's lost his fiddle stick,
And knows not what to do."
"Cock a doodle doo,
My dame will dance with you,
While master fiddles his fiddling stick,
For dame and doodle doo."