There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children she didn’t know what to do.
So she gave them some broth without any bread,
And she whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.
This rather cruel nursery rhyme, which dates back to eighteenth-century England, has a few suggested meanings. The most often quoted refers allegedly to the English Parliament—who is the old woman. The shoe is England itself. If you look at the map of the island of Great Britain and turn it 90 degrees clockwise, you can see very clearly that the island resembles an old-fashioned shoe. The many children mentioned in the rhyme were the colonies England already had in the eighteenth century around the entire world, and the way they were treated.