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Full text of "The English Folk-Play"

THE ENGLISH 
FOLK-PLAY 




ST. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON 



THE ENGLISH 
FOLK-PLAY 



By 
E. K. CHAMBERS 



OXFORD 

AT THE CLARENDON PRESS 
1933 



OXFORD 
UNIVERSIXY PRESS 

AMEN HOUSE, E.G. 4. 

London Edinburgh Glasgow- 
Leipzig; New York Toronto 

Melbourne Capetown Bombay 
Calcutta Madras Shanghai 

HUMPHREY MILKORD 

PUBLISHER TO THE 
UNIVERSITY 



PRINTED TN GREAT BRITAIN AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, OXFORD 
BY JOHN JOHNSON, PRINTER TO THE TJNIVERSIXV 



ANALYSIS 

THE MUMMERS' PLAY AND ITS CONGENERS 

PAGE 

THE MUMMERS 9 PLAY ..... 3 

THE PRESENTATION . . . . .13 

THE COMBATANTS . . . . .23 

THE DISPUTE . . . . . -33 

THE LAMENT . . . . . .38 

THE tTESTON-SUB-EDGE PLAT . . .41 

THE CURE . . . . . .50 

JACK FINNEY ...... 57 

MULTIPLIED COMBATS . . . 59 

THE QUfiTE . . . . . .63 

THE MYLOR PLAY . . . . .71 

COSTUME . . . . . .83 

ABNORMAL MUMMERS' PLAYS . . .87 

THE PLOUGH PLAY . . . . .89 

THE REVESBY PLAY . . . . .104 

THE SWORD DANCE . . . . .123 

THE AMPLEFORTH PLAY . . . .131 

THE MORRIS DANCE . . . . .150 

JACK OF LENT . . . . .153 

MEDIEVAL PARALLELS . . . .160 



vi ANALYSIS 

PAGE 

SAINT GEORGE 170 

THE SEPEN CHAMPIONS . . . .174 

THE STAGE AND THE FOLK . . . .185 

THE RESIDUAL PROBLEM . . .192 

THE PROBLEM OF ORIGIN 

PARALLELS FROM WESTERN EUROPE . . 197 

PARALLELS FROM THE BALKANS . . .206 

A PRIMITIVE LUDUS . . . . .211 

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LUDUS . .216 

WOOING PLATS . . . . .229 

1/52" OF TEXTS 236 

INDEX 245 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

1. ST. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON. Drawing by THOMAS 

FISHER in J. G. Nichols, Ancient Paintings at Stratford- 
upon-dvon (1838), from Fresco in the Chapel of the 
Gild of Holy Cross. frontispiece 

2. A KIRMESS IN THE NETHERLANDS. Engraving in the 
British Museum from Painting by PIETER BRUEGHEL 
(c. I53~ 6 9)- facing p. 204 



THE MUMMERS' PLAY AND ITS 
CONGENERS 



The Mummers' Play. 

years ago, I attempted, in The Medi- 
aeval Stage, to give an account of the Mummers' 
Play, as one of several ludi of the folk which involve 
an element of mimesis. Since then, much additional 
material has been collected on the play and its 
congeners, notably by the late Reginald Tiddy and 
Cecil Sharp, and by Professor C. R. Baskervill, 
Mr. Douglas Kennedy, and Mr. Stuart Piggott; 
and fresh light has been thrown on the possible 
origin of such ludi by the discovery of close analogues 
still surviving in various parts of the Balkans. It 
seems, therefore, worth while to go over the ground 
again, and to bring together the threads of the 
old and the new evidence with regard to this singular 
and long-enduring seasonal ceremony. In 1903 
I was able to make use of twenty-nine examples of 
the play. I can now draw upon well over a hundred, 
more or less complete, together with a few entangled 
in ludi of other types. Probably there are others, 
even in print, which have eluded my search, and 
there are references, in Tiddy's valuable study and 
elsewhere, to performances at various places from 
which no texts, so far as I know, are upon record. 
But my hundred or so examples cover the greater 
part of the country, and extend to Wales, the Isle 
of Man, the eastern coast-line of Ireland, and the 
Lowlands of Scotland. From the more purely Celtic 



4 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

parts of Scotland and Ireland I have none. In 
England itself, they seem to come most thickly from 
Wessex and from the areas of Oxfordshire and 
Gloucestershire about the Cotswolds, but that may 
be largely due to accidents of collection. The plays 
are known in Surrey and Essex, but I have no texts. 1 
No evidence is at present forthcoming for their 
existence in Suffolk and Norfolk. Elements from 
them form part of the composite Plough Monday 
plays of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, and 
sometimes invade the characteristic Sword Dances 
of Yorkshire, Durham, and Northumberland. The 
performances are seasonal. The usual date, in most 
districts, is Christmas, but in Cheshire All Souls' 
Day (2 November), and in some other parts of the 
north-west Easter. The Easter plays are called 
'Pace Egg* plays. It should be 'Pasch Egg', from 
Pascha, the liturgical name for Easter. In Derbyshire 
Beelzebub sometimes gives a title. But generally 
one is borrowed from the actors. They are normally 
'Mummers', which may be perverted into 'Mum- 
mies', but often also 'Guisers' or 'Guizards', which 
only means 'Disguisers'. In Cornwall they become 
'Geese-dancers' and the play is a 'Giz-dance'. In 
Sussex they are 'Tipteers' or 'Tipteerers', possibly 
from the 'tip' asked as a reward, but more likely 
from 'tip', a dialectic form of 'tup', which is a 
common name for a ram. 2 Other names are 'The 

1 Lady Gomme in F.L. xl. 293 (Barnes, Surrey). Miss E. H. Evans 
tells me of a performance at South Weald, Essex. 2 Cf. p. 21 5. 



THE MUMMERS' PLAY 5 

Seven Champions' in Kent, Johnny Jacks' in Hants 
and Wilts, 'Soulers' or 'Soul-Cakers' in Cheshire, 
'Paceakers' in Yorkshire, ' Christmas Boys' in Wilts 
and the Isle of Wight, 'Christmas Rhymers' in 
Belfast, 'White Boys' in the Isle of Man, 'Galatians' 
in Scotland. Analogous customs have lent 'Sword 
Dancers' in Cumberland and Durham, and 'Morris 
Dancers', 'Murry Dancers' or 'Merry Dancers' in 
Shropshire. Mummers' Plays, Plough Plays, and 
Sword Dances are exclusively male performances, 
even when there is a woman among the characters. 
I owe to Dr. Marett the saying of an Oxfordshire 
participant, 'Oh, you wouldn't have women in 
that; it's more like being in church'; but I do not 
suppose any such subconscious atavism, if it is 
that, to be usual. Tiddy writes of the Mummers' 
Play. 1 

It is now performed by young lads, sometimes by the 
schoolboys of a village ; while for the last fifty years it has 
been unusual for married men to take part. Farmers, for 
instance, never perform in the South or Midlands. Nor 
have I any evidence that it was at any time performed by 
the more well-to-do. 

This is no doubt true, so far as the past fifty years, 
or even more, are concerned. But it may be 
doubted whether it was equally true of earlier 
periods, before the present sharp social distinction 
between tenant farmers and labourers had estab- 
lished itself. 

1 Tiddy, 89. 



6 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

A normalized text may be given at the outset, as 
a basis for discussion. 

[Enter the Presenter] 

Presenter. I open the door, I enter in ; 
I hope your favour we shall win. 
Stir up the fire and strike a light, 
And see my merry boys act to-night. 
Whether we stand or whether we fall, 5 

We'll do our best to please you all. 

[Enter the actors, and stand in a clump] 

Presenter. Room, room, brave gallants all, 
Pray give us room to rhyme ; 
We're come to show activity, 

This merry Christmas time; 10 

Activity of youth, 

Activity of age, 
The like was never seen 

Upon a common stage. 

And if you don't believe what I say, 1 5 

Step in St. George and clear the way. 

[Enter St. George] 

St. George. In come I, Saint George, 

The man of courage bold ; 
With my broad axe and sword 

I won a crown of gold. 20 

I fought the fiery dragon, 

And drove him to the slaughter, 
And by these means I won 

The King of Egypt's daughter. 
Show me the man that bids me stand; 25 

I'll cut him down with my courageous hand. 
Presenter. Step in, Bold Slasher. 



THE MUMMERS' PLAY 7 

[Enter Bold Slasher] 

Slasher. In come I, the Turkish Knight, 

Come from the Turkish land to fight. 
I come to fight St. George, 30 

The man of courage bold; 
And if his blood be hot, 

I soon will make it cold. 
St. George. Stand off, stand off, Bold Slasher, 

And let no more be said, 35 

For if I draw my sword, 

I'm sure to break thy head. 
Thou speakest very bold, 

To such a man as I ; 
I'll cut thee into eyelet holes, 40 

And make thy buttons fly. 
Slasher. My head is made of iron, 

My body is made of steel, 
My arms and legs of beaten brass ; 

No man can make me feel. 45 

St. George. Then draw thy sword and fight. 

Or draw thy purse and pay; 
For satisfaction I must have, 

Before I go away. 
Slasher. No satisfaction shalt thou have, 50 

But I will bring thee to thy grave. 
St. George. Battle to battle with thee I call, 

To see who on this ground shall fall. 
Slasher. Battle to battle with thee I pray, 

To see who on this ground shall lay. 55 

St. George. Then guard thy body and mind thy head, 

Or else my sword shall strike thee dead. 
Slasher. One shall die and the other shall live; 
This is the challenge that I do give. 

[They fight. Slasher falls'] 



THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Presenter. O cruel Christian, what hast thou done ? 60 

Thou hast wounded and slain my only son. 
St. George. He challenged me to fight, 

And why should I deny't ? 
Presenter. O, is there a doctor to be found 

To cure this deep and deadly wound. 65 

Doctor, doctor, where art thee ? 

My son is wounded to the knee. 

Doctor, doctor, play thy part, 

My son is wounded to the heart. 

I would put down a thousand pound, 70 

If there were a doctor to be found. 

[Enter the Doctor] 
Doctor. Yes, there is a doctor to be found, 

To cure this deep and deadly wound. 

I am a doctor pure and good, 

And with my hand can stanch his blood. 75 

Presenter. Where hast thou been, and where hast come 

from ? 
Doctor. Italy, Sicily, Germany, France and Spain, 

Three times round the world and back again. 
Presenter. What canst do and what canst cure ? 
Doctor. All sorts of diseases, 80 

Just what my physic pleases; 

The itch, the stitch, the palsy and the gout, 

Pains within and pains without; 

If the devil is in, I can fetch him out. 

I have a little bottle by my side; 85 

The fame of it spreads far and wide. 

The stuff therein is elecampane; 

It will bring the dead to life again. 

A drop on his head, a drop on his heart. 

Rise up, bold fellow, and take thy part. 90 

[Slasher rises] 



THE MUMMERS' PLAY 9 

[Enter Big Head] 
Big Head. In come I, as ain't been yet, 

With my big head and little wit, 
My head so big, my wit so small, 
I will dance a jig to please you all. 

[Dance and Song ad libitum] 
[Enter Beelzebub"] 

Beelzebub. In come I, old Beelzebub. 95 

On my shoulder I carry a club, 
In my hand a dripping-pan. 
Don't you think I'm a jolly old man? 

[Enter Johnny Jack] 

Johnny Jack. In come I, little Johnny Jack, 

With my wife and family at my back, roo 

My family's large and I am small, 
A little, if you please, will help us all. 

[Enter Devil Dout] 

Devil Dout. In come I, little Devil Dout; 

If you don't give me money, I'll sweep you out. 
Money I want and money I crave; 105 

If you don't give me money, I'll sweep you to the 
grave. 



When I call this a normalized text, I do not mean 
that anything just like it is found anywhere, or even 
that I regard it as an archetype from which all the 
existing texts were derived, but merely that it is 
put together, as far as possible, from constantly 
recurring formulas, and represents the general succes- 
sion of incidents and run of dialogue which one may 
conceive to lie behind the widely variant versions. 



4024 



io THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

An archetype, in any strict sense, is unattainable. 
There have been too many cross-currents for that. 
No doubt there was a common original, but it has 
been much corrupted. The order of incidents has 
been dislocated, and speeches have been transferred 
from character to character. The result is often 
incoherent. There is also, of course, much verbal 
degradation. It is interesting to observe, however, 
how rhyme helped the memory of the folk. A 
rhyme-pair, or at least a rhyme-sound, often clings, 
when the sense of the context has been hopelessly 
perverted. But there must also have been a good 
deal of deliberate rehandling, both in shortening 
and in lengthening. One may guess at some of the 
reasons. Shortening may be due, not merely to 
lapse of memory, but also to a desire to get round 
as many houses as possible, in the interests of the 
qufae or collection of gifts, for which the perform- 
ance had come to be little more than an excuse. 
Lengthening, on the other hand, would provide 
better entertainment for larger audiences. I am 
not sure whether there was originally one combat or 
more. 1 But in any case the sword-play, which per- 
haps proved more exciting than the dialogue, has 
often been much prolonged. For this additional 
characters are brought in. Others appear, who are 
altogether superfluous to the action; they merely 
come and go. They are borrowed from related ludl* 
or they are personages much in the national or local 

1 Cf. p. 192. 



THE MUMMERS' PLAY n 

eye at this or that epoch. The dialogue also has 
been much farced. Fragments have been written in 
from Robin Hood and other ballads or from popular 
songs, and from the repertories of travelling profes- 
sional actors. And there are many bits, especially 
in the Doctor episode, of purely rustic humour. On 
the whole, the versions tend to be longer than my 
norm, although some are much shorter, and so 
logical a dialogue as mine is rarely preserved in full. 
Some of the accretions are themselves so widespread 
as to indicate much give and take among places, 
even far apart. The migrations of individual per- 
formers may help to account for this. The duplica- 
tion of the fighting is sometimes effected by putting 
together two distinct versions as two acts of a play. 
And it is occasionally varied by letting one or more 
contemplated combat come to nothing. An extreme 
case of fertilization from a distance is at Icomb in 
Gloucestershire, where a second act must have been 
added from a Scottish source. Something must be 
allowed for the dissemination of chap-book versions 
of the play, such as emerge in the eighteenth century. 
These are known to have been used, for example, 
by local players in the West Riding of Yorkshire. 
There is more trace of their influence in the north 
than in the midlands and the south. They were 
themselves, however, generally based on traditional 
versions, with a certain amount of literary sophistica- 
tion. The same version was often printed for book- 
sellers in different towns. One type is found in 



12 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Lancashire and Yorkshire, another in Newcastle and 
Whitehaven, a third in Belfast. There is not much 
evidence for individual attempts at regularizing the 
language of the plays by local parsons or school- 
masters. For the most part the folk had it its own, 
way. Clearly it was an illiterate folk, very differenf 
from that which in earlier days became responsible 
for the variations, often very beautiful, in the 
medieval ballads. The original text, indeed, is no* 
likely to have had the quality of a ballad. But in. 
many versions it has suffered almost incredible- 
degradation, both through the familiar processes of 
oral transmission, and at the stage when one per- 
former, for the benefit of his successors, or at the 
request of Tiddy or another, tried to write down not 
only his own part but also those of his fellows, which 
he naturally knew even less well than his own. One 
must remember that the life of the plays endureds 
well into the middle of the nineteenth century, when 
the advance of enclosures, in the interests of high 
farming, had brought about the ultimate degenera- 
tion of the agricultural labourer. In the remarks that 
follow, by way of a commentary on my normalized 
version, I shall not concern myself so much with the 
state of the text, although that will incidentally 
appear, as with the general structure and the nature 
of the characters represented. It is, after all, the 
origin of the play, rather than its latter end, which 
is of interest to the folk-lorist. 

It will be observed that there is a good deal of 



THE PRESENTATION 13 

metrical variation. Couplets, decasyllabic and octo- 
syllabic, and quatrains all appear. I have given the 
preference to decasyllabic couplets, where possible, 
but the variation may quite well have been a charac- 
teristic of the original. There is no prose, except a 
lew words in the Doctor episode. Structurally, the 
piece falls into three parts: the Presentation (11. i- 
k i6), the Drama (11. 17-90), the Qufae (11. 91-106). 
p\nd the Drama may further be resolved into the 
Vaunts (11. 17-59) at the entry of the combatants 
)eind in their dispute, the Combat or Agon, which is 
dumb sword-play, the Lament (11. 60-71), and the 
Cure (11. 72-90). On each of these sections much 
comment is necessary. 

The Presentation. 

At Sudbury there is an opening 'promenade* of 
performers with a Christmas wish, and at Ross they 
l^ush in suddenly without knocking. But as a rule 
they are introduced by a Presenter, and stand in a 
clump by the door until each in turn is called upon 
to step forward and take his part. At Rogate the 
Presenter blows a cow-horn to announce the ap- 
proach. The Presenter himself is often anonymous, 
or has such colourless appellations as Caller, First 
Man, First Speaker, Foreman, Headman, Leader, 
Leading Man, Marshal, No. i , Open-the-Door, Page, 
Prologue, Ringer-in, Talking Man. No doubt, 
if we had descriptions as well as texts, his nature 
would sometimes be clearer. At West Wittering 



H THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

the First Man is addressed as Prince Feather* 
In the south and midlands, by far the most common 
presenter is Old Father Christmas. I believe him 
to be an intruder upon the original play, but that 
must be considered later. At Ovingdean Father 
Christmas calls himself the Noble Captain. In the 
north a more usual type is the Fool, Clown, Jester, 
Punch, Hunchback or Johnny Funny. I think that 
the Old Hind-before of Icomb is also a Fool. 1 The 
midlands know the Fool as Hey Down Derry at 
Wooburn and Old Don Derry at Penn. In the text 
of the Lancashire and Yorkshire chap-books he 
becomes Old Bold Ben. The Jack of Skelton is less 
distinctive, since all the characters of the plays, 
whatever their proper names, have a way of address- 
ing each other as 'Jack'. The Fool presenter is clearly 
related to the personages of the Quete. From here too 
come the Beelzebub of Coxwold and Thenford and 
the Little Devil Doubt of Leigh; from the Cure, as we 
shall see, the John Finney of Weston-sub-Edge, who 
may not be distinct, by origin, from Johnny Funny; 
and from the combatants the Captain Slasher of Lut- 
terworth, the Sambo of the Isle of Man, the Knight 
of an unlocated Oxfordshire version, and the Alex- 
ander of the Newcastle and Whitehaven chap-books, 
and of an early Scottish version. The Rim Rhu of 
Dundalk is probably a projection from the words 
of the Presenter's speech, although the collector sug- 
gests that Rhu may represent the Irish ruad^ 'red*. 

1 Cf. p. 227. 



THE PRESENTATION ij 

An even more surprising projection, the Rumour 
of Overton, may be helped by the use of Rumour 
or Fame as a prologue-speaker in more sophisticated 
drama. Very occasionally the Presenter is a woman, 
who comes in as an anonymous old woman or girl at 
Lower Heyford, Chiswick, Sudbury, and Halton, 
as Molly at Islip and in Berkshire, as Old Molly at 
Chesterfield, and as the Caller and Old Mother 
Christmas at Ilmington. Occasionally one of the 
combatants is introduced or referred to as the son 
or eldest son of the Presenter. 1 

The words of the Presentation show much diver- 
gence. The two formulas I have given occur to- 
gether at Newport, but more often singly. I will not 
quote, here or elsewhere, too many trivial or merely 
stupid variants. But there are some which illus- 
trate the way in which, as already noted, the rhyme- 
sound of a couplet persists in memory and leads 
to the substitution of an alternative line when the 
original one has been forgotten. Thus for line 2 
we get: 

Whether I lose or whether I win, 
or, 

To see a merry act begin, 



or, 



I hope the game will soon begin ; 

and for line 4: 

To see my merry active knight, 
1 Cf. p. 225. 



16 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

or, 

For in this house there will be a fight, 
or, 

And see King George and the Turkey fight. 

The second formula may be earlier than the first. Its 
'room', 'gallants', Activity' are used in old-fashioned 
senses which have puzzled the transmitters. 'Room' 
is a good medieval term, which survives into the 
seventeenth century, for the floorspace required 
by dancers or other performers. Shakespeare has it 
in Much Ado, n. i. 87, 'The revellers are entering, 
brother: make good room', and with an alternative 
in Romeo and yuliet y i. v. 28: 

A hall, a hall ! give room ! and foot it, girls. 

A call for room opens three of Ben Jonson's masks, 
Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue (1619), The Meta- 
morphosed Gipsies (1621), and The Masque of Owls 
(1626). In our texts 'Room' often becomes 'a 
room', and further misconceptions, both of 'room' 
and of 'gallants', yield some delightful results. Thus 
Sapperton has: 

A room for gallant store. 
Sudbury has: 

A room, a room, a garland room. 
Overton has: 

There 's room and room and gallons of room. 

Camborne puts it into prose, 'I am come to ask you to 
favour us with a few gallons of room in your house'. 



THE PRESENTATION 17 

If 'rum* is in the speaker's mind there may be a touch 
of rustic humour, or even a hint at the quQte. A Hants 
version regards 'acres' of room as more natural. A 
variant of lines 8 and 10 links 'ride' and 'Christmas- 
tide'. Tiddy suggested that this might be the original 
form and a reminiscence of the St. George ridings. 
Alternatively, the players might have come in on 
hobby-horses. But it is better to regard the more 
usual 'rhyme' and 'Christmas time' as original. 
Sapperton, in fact, has 'rhyme' and 'tide'. Another 
stumbling-block is 'activity'. Elizabethan 'common 
stage' players used the term for acrobatic perform- 
ances, which were often mimetic, and might, no doubt, 
include sword-play. But it became obsolete, and 
many curious variants emerge. Lines 1 1 and 1 2 
become: 

Activity of you, activity of me, 
or, 

Acting youth and acting age, 
or, 

I've acted youth, I've acted age, 
or, 

Acting well or acting vain, 
or, 

The night is young, and an act is old, 
or, 

Apt to the aged, apt to the life, 

or even 

Act Timothy of youth, act Timothy of age. 
So, too, 'common stage* is replaced by 'public stage' 



4024 



i8 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

or Christmas stage or Christian stage* or King 
George's stage' or by some name of local signi- 
ficance, such as 'Andrew's stage' or 'St. Mary 
Andrew's stage'. 

There are several other formulas, and a good deal 
of give and take between them. I need only quote 
those which are fairly distinct. Some are much 
shortened, but the call for 'room' is generally 
preserved. The following furnishes another example 
of a substituted rhyme-word. 

Room, room, gallant room do I require; 

Step in, King George, and show thy face like fire. 

Another is: 

I beg your pardon for being so bold, 

I enter your house, the weather 's so cold. 

Room, a room ! brave gallants, give us room to sport, 

For in this house we do resort. 

and another: 

Room, gentlemen, room I pray, 

And we'll quickly have the fighting men this way. 

and another: 

A room, a room, 

I do presume, 

For me and my brave men. 

But this, as the failure to rhyme shows, is corrupt. 
Elsewhere it is: 

Room, room, 

For me and my broom. 

And in fact the Presenter sometimes comes in with 



THE PRESENTATION 19 

a broom in his, or her, hand, sweeping. Thus we 
get: 

In comes I, Old Hind-before, 

I comes fust to open your door. 

I comes fust to kick up a dust, 

I comes fust to sweep up your house ; 

and, 

In comes I hind before. 

With my broad broom to sweep up the floor; 

and, 

A room, a room, a rousty toust, 1 

I've brought my broom to sweep the house; 

and, 

A room, a room, 
A douse, a douse, 2 
I'll sweep your house, 
So clane, so dace, 
So hansom nice. 

The object of sweeping here might be merely to 
clear a space or to reduce the dust made by the 
leaps of the combatants. I may again quote Shake- 
speare, M.N.D. v. i. 396, where Puck, introducing 
a mask, says: 

I am sent with broom before, 

To sweep the dust behind the door. 

But sweeping is also found in the Quete, and I shall 
have to recur to it. 3 

Another type of opening has nothing about 

1 rouse, touse, 'bustle' (Wright, Dialect Dictionary). 

2 douse, 'dust* (UU.). 3 cf. pp. 67, 211. 



20 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

'room', but introduces the actors as a c jolly family' 

or * merry* men. 

We are the merry actors that traverse the street; 
We are the merry actors that fight for our meat; 
We are the merry actors that show pleasant play; 
Step in, St. George, thou champion, and clear the way. 

This is a chap-book version, but the following is 
more traditional. 

In comes I that 's never been before. 
Six merry actors stand at your door, 
They can merrily dance and sing, 
And by your leave they shall walk in. 

When Old Father Christmas is the Presenter, he 
often works in one or more of the formulas already 
quoted. But he also has, almost invariably, distinc- 
tive lines of his own. 

In come I, old Father Christmas, 
Welcome or welcome not, 
I hope old Father Christmas 
Will never be forgot. 

Tiddy would trace in the second line a hint of the 
puritan hostility to Christmas rejoicing in the seven- 
teenth century. Great Wolford has a special variant 
of its own. 

In comes I, Old Father Christmas, 

In comes I to make the fun. 

My hair is short, my beard is long, 

And me hat 's tied on with a leathern throng. 

To his normal lines Father Christmas may add others 
which are not really 'proper* to the play, but are 



THE PRESENTATION *i 

also found as independent gwlfc-songs of the Christ- 
mas season, and are indeed sometimes relegated in 
the play itself to the Qu$te. Such are: 

Christmas comes but once a year, 

And when it comes it brings good cheer. 1 

To this the Newcastle chap-book prefixes: 
Bounser Buckler, velvet 's dear, 

which was a seventeenth-century proverb of scorn as: 

Bounce Buck-ram, velvet's dear. 2 
An alternative is: 

We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year, 
A pocket full of money, and a cellar full of beer, 
And a good fat pig to last you all the year. 3 

Cornwall prefers 'a skin full of beer'. Father 
Christmas does not, I think, sweep, although he has 
a 'pop and touse' at Camborne. But at Cinderford 
he makes room with a sword. 

At the close of the harangue the first actor is sum- 
moned forward, and each in turn may be similarly 
introduced by his predecessor or by the Presenter. 
Common signals are 'Step in', 'Walk in', 'Come in', 
'I call in'. Possibly 'Enter' shows the influence of 
a chap-book. Overton has 'Fall from the door', 
where Tiddy thinks that 'Fall' may be an error for 
'Forth'. In any case, the actors are probably already 
in the room, huddled near the entrance, and each, as 

1 J. Ray, A Collection of English Proverbs (1670), 211. 

2 John Clarke, Pammiologia Latina (1639), 71. 

3 G. F. Northall, English Folk-Rhymes, 183. 



22 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

summoned, steps into the open space. I take 'clear 
the way' to be addressed to the spectators. The 
Nuntius in the Chester Nativity says : 

Make rowme, lordinges, and geve us waie, 
And let Octavian come and plaie. 1 

But the Presentation is not always over yet. Before 
the Drama begins, there are sometimes super- 
numeraries to be introduced. We may call them sub- 
Presenters. Father Christmas may be only a sub- 
Presenter; it is another hint of his intrusive character. 
Stragglers from the combat or the Quete bring their 
normal rhymes with them. Mince Pie at Cocking, 
St. Mary Bourne, and in Wiltshire, and probably 
Fly at Wooburn are projections from the dialogue. 
More interesting is the King of Egypt. He is fairly 
widespread, although not common. It is just possible 
that he is of chap-book origin. Occasionally he uses 
borrowed lines, but his proper speech is as follows: 

Here am I, the King of Egypt, 

As plainly doth appear; 
St. George he is my only son, 

My only son and heir. 

At Lutterworth he is replaced by the King of 
England, with similar lines, and at Bampton by 
the King of Prussia, with lines that savour of the 
Napoleonic wars. Bearsted has a Guard. A Molly, 
in two very corrupt versions from Badby and 
Ilmington, seems to be mother of one of the com- 
batants. At Stourton Miss Duchess and at Bovey 

1 Chester Plays (ed. Deimling), vi. 177. 



THE COMBATANTS 23 

Tracey Mother Dolly sweeps as a sub-Presenter. 
The Bovey Tracey lines run: 

In comes I Mother Dolly. 
Drinking gin is all my folly. 
Before I begin I likes to make room; 
I'll sweep it away with my little broom. 

In the Scottish Galations the Presenter calls in 
before the fighters a 'farmer's son*, who is 'afraid 
he'll lose his love because he is too young'. This 
appears to be a stray from the 'calling on' lines usual 
before Sword Dances. 1 The Ripon play, which is 
called a Sword Dance, similarly opens with 'calling 
on' lines, which are sung by the whole company, 
and the characters named are irrelevant to the 
subsequent action. 

The Combatants. 

The culminating point of the Drama is of course 
the Combat. It will be convenient to call the 
champion who falls the Agonist and his vanquisher 
the Antagonist. As a rule, each combatant enters 
with a 'Here come I' or similar phrase and a lauda- 
tory self-description. There are many of them, but 
four are outstanding: St. George, Slasher, the 
Turkish Knight, the Black Prince of Paradise. 
George appears in almost all normal plays; I have 
only seen about a dozen that lack him. He is apt 
to be called King rather than Saint, once King 
George the Third, once King George of Paradise, 

1 Cf. p. 128. 



*4 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

sometimes Prince George, twice Prince George of 
Ville, once simply Great George. He is more often 
Antagonist than Agonist, in the proportion of two 
to one. His commonest opening speech is that given 
in my normal text. It is often fragmentary, and has 
minor variants. The 'crown of gold* (1. 20) may be 
c three golden crowns', 'ten crowns of gold', c ten 
tons of gold', 'ten thousand pounds in gold'. At 
Chithurst the three crowns are: 

The He, the She, and the Shamrock, 
and at Hamstall Rid ware: 

The emer-she-mer, sham-mer rock-a. 

The 'daughter' (1. 24) may be 'King George's 
daughter', 'King William's daughter', 'the King of 
Briton's daughter', 'the queen's eldest daughter', 
'Queen Alice's fairest daughter', and even, in a 
performance of 1870, 'the Queen of Denmark's 
daughter'. Once only, in Cornwall, is the lady 
named, as 

fair Sabra, 
The King of Egypt's daughter. 

The 'hand' (1. 26) may be 'bold', 'iron', 'mighty', 
Victorious', and by more obvious auditory errors, 
'creatious', 'creeagus', 'created', 'graded', 'gracious', 
'audacious'. St. George has, however, an alternative 
and longer narrative in decasyllabic lines. This also 
is fairly widespread. It is fullest, but already corrupt, 
in the Belfast chap-book, but there are fragments 
also in other north-western and western versions, 



THE COMBATANTS 25 

and as far away as Mylor in Cornwall, Sudbury in 
Middlesex, and Selmeston in Sussex, so that one can 
hardly take it as a chap-book invention. I think it 
originally went somewhat as follows: 

I am St. George, who from Old England sprung, 

My famous name throughout the world has rung. 

Full seven years in prison I was kept, 

And out of that into a cave I leapt, 

And out of that into a rock of stone; 

'Twas there I made my sad and grievous moan. 

Many were the giants that I did subdue; 

I ran the fiery dragon through and through, 

'Twas I that freed fair Sabra from the stake. 

What more could mortal man then undertake ? 

Eccleshall misunderstands: 

It's I who slew Slabberer from the stake; 
and Broadway: 

I have led the fair Sarepta from the snake. 

For 'giants' the Isle of Man has 'lions'. Either would 
fit, but the 'many a gallant' of Belfast points to 
'giants', and so does a further confusion at Eccleshall. 

It 's many a joint where I so do, 
Where I'd ram the fiery dagger through. 

The Isle of Man omits the Sabra couplet, and 
substitutes: 

With a golden trumpet in my mouth 
I sounded at the gates divine the truth. 

This might be a perversion of the Newcastle chap- 



4024 



?6 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

book, which has the normal shorter narrative, but 

adds: 

In Egypt's fields I prisoner long was kept, 

But by my valour I from them soon 'scaped : 

I sounded at the gates of a divine, 

And out came a giant of no good design ; 

He gave me a blow, which almost struck me dead, 

But I up with my sword, and did cut off his head. 

Here, too, 'divine* can hardly be right. 1 The 
Yorkshire chap-book has neither of the usual narra- 
tives, but has: 

I followed a fair lady to a giant's gate, 
Confined in dungeon deep to meet her fate ; 
Then I resolved, with true knight-errantry, 
To burst the door and set the prisoner free, 
When a giant almost struck me dead, 
But by my valour I cut ofF his head. 

The traditional biography, in whichever form, may 
be followed or replaced by a bit of patriotic fervour. 

I am Prince George, a worthy knight, 
I'll spend my blood for England's right, 
England 's right I will maintain, 
I'll fight for old England once again. 

Or it may be: 

For England's rights, for England's wrongs, 
For England 's my salvation. 

A memory, clinging to the rhyme-sound, substitutes 
at Mylor: 

England's wright, England admorration, 
and in the Isle of Man: 

Right from Egypt's station. 
' Cf. p. 177- 



THE COMBATANTS 27 

Mr. Piggott finds at Hoe Benham: 

With ist manells so brave and vallets so true. 

and as it follows the daughter* line, conjectures 
'menials' or 'meinie' and 'varlets'. But, as he notes, 
Burghclere has : 

Manhood so free and valiant of old. 
Another phrase is : 

I fought them all courageously, 
And still have gained the victory, 
And will always fight for liberty. 

Stanford-in-the-Vale has: 

I fought the man at Tollatree, 
And still I gained the victory. 

At Selmeston it is Tillowtree and at Tenby Tillotree. 
One might conjecture Talavera (1805). But the 
Stanford reporter, whose version apparently came 
from Tetbury in Gloucestershire, said, 'You can 
say what you like, but we always said Tollatree*. 
Broadway makes of it: 

Stand forth! thou figure of a tree, 
And see who gains the victory ! 

St. George goes in the popular mind with the 
Turkish Knight, who is by no means so omnipresent, 
but where he comes generally takes part in the 
primary combat, if there is more than one. His 
gambit is: 

In come I, the Turkish Knight, 
Come from the Turkish land to fight. 



28 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

He is almost invariably Agonist. The name is some- 
times Turkish Champion, or by corruption, Turkish 
or Turkey Snipe. A Bulgard at Hamstall Ridware 
and a Boldgier at Repton are both 'from Turkey 
land*. Perhaps Bulgarians and Turks have been 
confused or perhaps a descriptive Bold Soldier has 
become Boldgier and that Bulgard. In Cheshire the 
Turkish Knight is addressed as 'black Morocco dog'; 
and in fact he is generally replaced in the north, 
perhaps under chap-book influence, by a very 
similar personage, the Black Prince of Paradise, 
Paradine, or Paladine, who is also 'Morocco dog' 
or 'Morocco King'. A version, rather doubtfully 
ascribed to north Somerset, makes him also Black 
Prince of Darkness, and here the insult is 'black 
and American dog'. His opening lines are usually: 

I am Black Prince of Paradise, born of high renown, 
Soon I will fetch St. George's lofty courage down. 

In the north Somerset version he is 'born in a fiery 
hole'. 

In some ways the most interesting combatant is 
Slasher. This is a description rather than a name, 
and has many variants; Captain Slasher, Valiant 
Slasher, Bold Slasher, Beau Slasher, Bue Slash, Bull 
Slash, Stacker (perhaps a mere misprint in a chap- 
book), Bold Slaughterer, Bold and Slalter, Bold 
Striker, Bold Captain Rover, Bold Roamer, Bold 
and Hardy, Cuterman Slasherman, Cutting Star, 
Whip him and Slash Him, Swish Swash and Swagger, 



THE COMBATANTS 29 

Tall and Smart, Flashard. Sometimes he is merely 
Valiant Soldier. His opening lines are those of my 
text. The buckler being obsolete, we get c sword 
and buckle', 'sword and drawn buckle', 'bockel 
and staff', 'broadsword and cutlash and buckle', 
'broadsword and spear', 'broadsword and bayonet', 
'broadsword and jolly Turk' (dirk), 'bow and jolly 
Turk', 'sword and pistol', and even 'gold-laced 
hat and dagger'. Slasher is more widespread than 
the Turkish Knight, coming in the north as well as 
elsewhere. He more often comes in a secondary 
combat, and is Agonist and Antagonist in about 
equal proportions. The two types remain fairly dis- 
tinct, although very occasionally Slasher is also called 
a Turkish Knight or a Turkey dog, or comes from 
Turkey land. 

One would expect the Dragon to be among the 
combatants, but as a rule he is remarkably successful 
in concealing himself. 1 Naturally where he does 
appear, he is Agonist. Probably, although his vaunt 
is borrowed and he describes himself as the biggest 
man in Northumberland, he is the Speckleback who 
fights Slasher at Sapperton. He was in a perform- 
ance at South Weald in Essex, of which I have 
not the text. In three other cases his opponent is 
George. At Swallowfield he is again a borrower, and 
in Cornwall, although he has a distinctive speech, 
neither this nor that of St. George, to which it is a 
reply, is quite free from echoes. 

' Cf.p.i 77 . 



30 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

St. George. Here come I, St. George, from Britain did I 
spring, 

I'll fight the Dragon bold, my wonders to begin, 

Pll clip his wings, he shall not fly; 

I'll cut him down, or else I die, 
Dragon. Who 's he that seeks the Dragon's blood, 

And calls so angry, and so loud ? 

That English dog, will he before me stand ? 

I'll cut him down with my courageous hand. 

With my long teeth and scurvy jaw, 

Of such I'd break up half a score, 

And stay my stomach, till I'd more. 

Much the same dialogue, with 'scurly' for 'scurvy' 
and 'mourn' for 'more', passes at Weston-sub-Edge 
between George and the Turkish Knight, who must 
have inherited it from the Dragon, and at the Cure 
in this play a wolf's tooth is removed from the 
Agonist. At Bovey Tracey some one wore 'a wooden 
thing for a head with bullock's teeth', and after the 
Drama comes: 

Here am I the Giant from the Giant's rest, 
With my long teeth and scury jaws 
I'll tear the flesh from off thy nose. 

There are many other fighters, some of whom only 
take part in secondary combats. Probably they are 
all either perversions or accretions. A few are heroic. 
Singuy, also called Singhiles, at Newport, Sing Ghiles 
at Eccleshall and St. Gay in Derbyshire probably 
represent Sir Guy of Warwick, who like St. George 
was a dragon-slayer. Giant Turpin appeared fitfully 
in Cornwall. The Newcastle-Whitehaven chap- 



THE COMBATANTS 31 

book has Alexander, who is also found at Peebles in 
Scotland, and by some accident at Icomb in 
Gloucestershire. Falkirk has St. Lawrence. But the 
chief feature of the Scottish versions is the regular 
replacement of St. George by a hero called Galatian, 
Galations, Golashans, Galacheus, or Galgacus. Pre- 
sumably this last is the original form, since Tacitus 
makes Galgacus or Calgacus the leader of the Picts 
in their battle with Agricola at the Mons Graupius. 
Irish versions naturally introduce St. Patrick, with 
a gibe in which St. George is called St. Patrick's 
boy. But Braganstown deals more honestly with the 
source by putting it the other way round. 1 King 
Charles at Skelton is presumably a derivative from 
King George, who is also called 'the druded White 
King* at Repton. Later substitutes are King William 
and even the Royal Prussian King. And here, per- 
haps, comes in the influence of the Napoleonic wars, 
which also give Bonaparte, 'just come from Thum- 
berloo', and a Noble Captain or French Officer. 

In comes I, the valiant soldier, 
Just arrived from France, 
With my broad sword and spear, 
I'll make King George to dance. 

History may possibly explain a mysterious personage 
whom I cannot unravel. At Great Wolford King 
George says: 

And if any man can conquer me, 

The French Captain Collier he shall be. 

Cf.p. 182. 



32 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

In fact he only fights Slasher. But at Penn he fights 
Captain Curly 'from the Isle of Wight', who is 
similarly described at Wooburn, where he is 'Kearley' 
and fights a Duke of Cumberland, who is also 
'George', and at Stourton, where he fights a Duke 
of Northumberland. Moreover, the Turkish Knight 
is described as 'curly' at Rugby, Beelzebub has a 
'curly wig' at Sapperton, and Curly is the name of 
the Fool in a Leicestershire Morris Dance. 1 Sir 
George Collier (1738-95) was a naval officer, and 
so were Sir Robert Calder (1745-1818), Sir Ben- 
jamin Caldwell (1737-1820), Sir William Corn- 
wallis (1744-1819) and Lord Collingwood (1750- 
1810). Any name can be corrupted by the folk, 
but none of these heroes were French. Calder, 
whose action against Villeneuve helped to stave off 
invasion by Bonaparte in 1804, is the most likely. 
The only George Duke of Cumberland was Queen 
Anne's husband (1689-1708). A more probable 
personage is William Augustus, the 'butcher of 
Culloden' (1726-65). The Duke of Northumber- 
land also appears at Islip. The only military Duke 
was Hugh, of the 'Smithson' house (1742-1817). 
Scotland has an Admiral of the Hairy Caps, who 
'won the battle of Quinbeck'. Is it Quebec (1759), 
which is also mixed up with an admiral in the 
Mylor text? 2 Anyway, the 'hairy caps' must be 
play costume. 3 Combatants who have strayed 
from other parts of the play are Father Christmas, 

1 Mediaeval Stage, i. 198. 2 Cf. p. 83. 3 Cf. pp. 85, 90, 126. 



THE DISPUTE 33 

the King of Egypt, Mince Pie, Room, Activity 
and Age, who are again 'projections', Beelzebub, 
Twing Twang, and Jack Vinney. With Sambo 
and Hector I shall deal later. 1 Farmer Dick, in 
Cumberland, may have strayed from a Sword 
Dance. 2 Prince Valentine, at Ross and in the 
Isle of Man, might be a 'projection 5 from Valiant' 
or might come from the stage-play of Valentine 
and Orson. 3 In Dorset, however, General Valentine 
is coupled with Colonel Spring, and suggests St. 
Valentine's Day. Hy Gwyer, at Hollington, 'with 
my face red as fire' owes his position to a rhyme 
which we have also found in the Presentation. The 
Bold Prince of Steyning and the Grenadier of Burgh- 
clere are quite colourless. But at Hoe Benham the 
Grenadier is amusingly transformed into Bold 
Granny Dear. 

The Dispute. 

The distribution in my text of the vaunting which 
follows the introductory speeches is an arbitrary one. 
The dialogue shows the tendency to cumulative 
repetition characteristic both of folk-rhymes and of 
ballads. It is seldom so long as I have made it, and 
the formulas, or fragments of them, are freely 
interchangeable among the participants, with the 
exceptions that the warning not to speak so bold is 
generally addressed to the Turkish Knight, and that 
the lines about iron and steel are nearly always put 

1 Cf. p. 60. 2 Cf. p. 128. 3 cf. p. 191. 

4024 F 



34 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

in Slasher's mouth. To their origin I shall have 
to recur. 1 They not unnaturally became unintelli- 
gible. The first two lines are fairly well preserved, 
although 'brass* or 'lead' or 'cannon-balls' may be sub- 
stituted for 'iron* or 'steel', and a touch of rational- 
ism may replace 'made of by 'lined with', and even 
give: 

My hamlet 's (helmet 's ?) lined with steel, 

or, still more plausibly: 

My body 's not lined with brass, 
My head 's not lined with steel. 

The two last lines show greater variation. 'Beaten 
brass' was thought less plausible than 'knuckle-bones' 
or 'crooked bones', although it is not so easy to 
explain 'pipe-stalks' and 'paven-stones', and the last 
line became: 

I challenge thee to feel, 
and then, 

I challenge thee to field. 
There is often a more complete and comic recast: 

My trousers touch my ankle-bones. 
That thou shalt quickly feel, 
or, 

My garter fits my legs so tight, 
My trousers drag my heel. 

There is a similar adaptation to the milieu of the 
performers in lines 56-7. Some Bentley, more 

1 Cf.p. 178. 



THE DISPUTE 35 

familiar with fisticuffs than with sword-play, be- 
thought him of: 

So mind your eyes and guard your blows, 
Or else I'll tap you on the nose. 

One other passage gets a very odd development. 
As it stands in my text, it is: 

Pll cut thee into eyelet holes, 
And make thy buttons fly. 

This is only my reconstruction. The nearest ap- 
proach to it is at Mylor. 

I will cut thy doublats ful of Hylent hols 
And make thy buttens fly. 

I think that 'Hylent hols' can only be 'eyelet holes' 
and both this and 'doublet' suggest an early date. 
I do not find 'eyelet holes' again, although this or 
'doublets' may account for the Derbyshire 

I'll jam his giblets full of holes, 
And in those holes put pebble stones, 
or, 

I'll fill thy body full of pellets, 
And make thy buttons fly. 

and the Rogate 

I'll cut your driblets through and through, 
And make your buttons fly. 

Other combinations of 'cut' and 'fly' are not un- 
common, especially in outlying areas. Thus, in 
Cumberland: 

I'll cut his body in four parts, 
And make his buttons fly, 



36 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

and in the Isle of Man: 

He cut my coat so full of rents, 
And made my buttons fly. 

Lutterworth has: 

I'll cut you down the middle, 
And make your blood to fly. 

Here 'blood', I suppose, might be either a perversion 
of the 'buttons' or its origin. And now, at Hepton- 
stall, comes, in prose, a link with a very widespread 
formula: 

I struck his doublet into ten parts and sent 'em over the 
sea. I sent 'em over the sea to Jamaica to make mince pies. 

There is no 'fly' here, but it is generally part of a 
mince-pie threat, in some such form as this: 

I'll cut him and slash him as small as flies, 
And send him to Jamaica to make mincepies. 

The threat is very persistent. I have noted about thirty 
examples, from all parts, but largely from the mid- 
lands. Very rarely 'flies' becomes 'dust' and even 
'mint-dust', and the rhyme is to 'mincepie crust'. 
The verb is generally 'cut', sometimes replaced or 
supplemented by 'pierce', 'hack', 'hew', 'hit', or 'slay'. 
Obviously the connexion with the Christmas season, 
as well as the rhyme, helps to explain the mince-pies. 
Mylor has 'appel pyes'. I do not think that the 
appearance of the formula at Mylor, side by side 
with the 'Hylent hols', necessarily militates against 
my theory of its origin. Why 'Jamaica', I do not 
know, except that criminals were transported to 
Jamaica in the seventeenth century. It is the 



THE DISPUTE 37 

commonest destination for the mince-pies in the 
formula, but by no means the only one. They 
may be sent, through another association with 
Christmas feasting, to Turkey, or again to Gibraltar, 
to London, to Yorkshire, to Blacksand, to Black 
Sam, to Satan, to the Devil, to the Old Man, to 
King George, and more reasonably to the kitchen, 
to the bakehouse, to the cookshop. Sometimes there 
are repetitive lines, which work in the street-cry 
'Mince pies hot, mince pies cold!' and add as a rhyme 
'Nine days old*. Mince-pies were a traditional viand 
at the London Lord Mayor's feast on November 9. 
Mr. Percy Manning would trace a relation to the 
Bringing in the Fly, which was a Whitsun custom 
of Oxford cooks. He thinks that they ate the fly, and 
notes that in Lincolnshire flies were said to disappear 
in autumn, because they were made into flies for 
Scawby Feast. 1 But surely the Whitsun Fly was the 
butterfly, as a symbol of spring, or perhaps, for 
cooks, the mayfly, which brings the trout. I have 
not used in my text an occasional formula in which 
one combatant says that another 'swears he will 
come in', and expresses fear that he will 'pierce' or 
'brace* or 'tan' his skin. This is certainly an accretion. 
It comes from the actors' 'jig' of Singing Simpkin. 

Servant. He swears and tears he will come in. 
And nothing shall him hinder. 

Simpkin. I fear hee'l strip me out my skin, 
And burn it into tinder. 

1 Folk-Lore 9 xxv. 198. 



38 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

The jig is in Robert Cox's Acteon and Diana (n.d., 
2nd ed. 1656) and in The Wits, or Sport Upon Sport 
(1662), but is already adapted in the German 
Engelische Comedien und Tragedien ( 1 620). Perhaps 
Professor Baskervill is a little hazardous in identi- 
fying it with a jig of William Kempe's, registered 
on 21 October 1595.' 

The Lament. 

This episode is handled in several ways. It often 
contains the three formulas of my text, the Re- 
proach, the Apology, the Call for the Doctor. 
The Reproach and Call may be given either to 
the Presenter or to a character, usually the King 
of Egypt or a Woman, who may already have been 
a sub-Presenter, or, in the north, may now intervene 
for the first time. At Frodsham she is Martha. The 
'cruel Christian', or, as it may be, 'cursed Christian' 
of the Reproach is not, of course, appropriate to 
every Antagonist. The Newcastle-Whitehaven 
chap-book uses it in error of Alexander. Some- 
times it is replaced by 'O George, O George' 
or the like, or by 'Horrible, terrible*, on which 
we shall come again. The chap-books seem also 
to be responsible for some variant forms of 
Apology. 

He gave me a challenge, no one it denies, 
How high he was, but see how low he lies. 

1 Baskervill, The Elizabethan Jig, 108, 123, 235, 444 (text). 



THE LAMENT 39 

and, 

Please you, my liege, my honour to maintain ; 

Had you been there, you might have fared the same. 

There are Scottish versions in which the Antagonist 
attempts to throw the blame upon a bystander. 1 
The Apology is sometimes omitted, and if so the 
Reproach may either remain unaltered, or be merged 
in the lamenting Call for the Doctor. The most 
constant element in all this variation is the assertion 
of the sonship of the Agonist to the lamenter. He 
is generally called 'only* son, less often 'eldest* or 
'chiefest' son. Multiplied combats produce two sons 
at Overton and Witley, and four in the Isle of Wight. 
At Overton the Presenter, who is Father Christmas, 
says after the first fight, 'Oh dear, oh dear, out of 
eleven sons I've only got one left', and after the 
second fight, 'Oh dear, oh dear, out of eleven sons 
I haven't got one left'. And this links with a set 
of rhymes which belongs in the Quete to Beelzebub 
at Icomb, and more plausibly to Johnny Jack in 
several Wessex plays. 

Out of children eleven I've got but seven, 
And they be started up to heaven ; 
Out of the seven I've got but five, 
And they be starved to death alive ; 
Out of the five I've got but three, 
And they be popped behind a tree; 
Out of the three I've got but one, 
And he got round behind the sun. 

I do not find this in Northall's Folk-Rhymes, 

1 Cf. p. 129. 



40 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

although there are some sets of numerical rhymes 
used in forfeit games to test rapidity and accuracy 
of speech. 1 Another, in Lady Gomme's Traditional 
Games, is The Twelve Days of Christmas, and possibly 
those days or the twelve months may be intended 
here. 2 But this hardly explains the sonship of the 
laments, since the lamenter is by no means always 
Father Christmas. And although he is sometimes 
the King of Egypt, it is not so in all cases in which 
the King calls George his 'son and heir' in the 
Presentation. Nor again, is the son of the Lament 
always George. In one exceptional case, at Bearsted 
in Kent, the Reproach is simply: 

Oh King George, what have you done ? 
and the Antagonist himself says: 

IVe killed my own beloved son. 

Another form of the episode, particularly favoured 
in Sussex, but also found so far away as Sudbury, 
Leigh, Malvern, and Tenby, has no Reproach and 
no Apology in the strict sense. Either the Presenter 
or the Antagonist may call the Doctor; but first the 
Antagonist, addressing either the Presenter, or occa- 
sionally the audience as 'Ladies and gentlemen', 
exclaims: 

See what I have done, 
I have cut him down like the evening sun. 

At Ovingdean it becomes 'like a flying eagle in the 
sun*. I can only suppose that 'sun' here is a perver- 

1 Northall, 405. 2 Gomme, ii. 315. 



THE WESTON-SUB-EDGE PLAY 41 

sion of a forgotten 'son', and possibly 'evening' of 
Eleventh'. There may be a link at Peebles, where 
the outcry is: 

I've killed my brother Jack, my father's only son. 

At Bursledon an eighteenth-century Antagonist sub- 
stituted a vaunt: 

Oh you turkey snipe, 
Go home to your own lands to fight, 
And tell the Americans what I have done; 
I've killed ten thousand to your one. 

Finally, there may be no preliminary dialogue, but 
merely the Call to the Doctor by the Presenter or 
an intervener or the Antagonist. This is probably 
the commonest method, and as it never, I believe, 
incorporates any hint of sonship, it may be the 
original one. At Pillerton the Doctor comes without 
being called. There is no very great variation in the 
formulas of the Call, but lines 66-9 of my text 
are really a variant of lines 64-5, rather than their 
complement. With the offer of a reward I shall 
deal presently. 

The Weston-sub-Edge Play. 

The structure of the Mummers' Play is that of a 
melodrama, and it is to the Cure that it looks for 
its comic relief. This has led to a good deal of farcing 
of the original text. Much of it turns on the social 
and professional pretensions of the Doctor, and in 
particular on his financial ability, as seen from the 



4024 



42 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

angle of village humour. But there are other elements 
involved, and it will enable me to be more brief, 
if I give, for comparison with the normalized text, 
a much elaborated version from Weston-sub-Edge 
in Gloucestershire. 

John Finney. A room, a room, a roust, a roust 

I brought this old broom to sweep your house. 
Father Christmas. In comes I old Father Christmas, 

Christmas or Christmas not 
I hope old Father Christmas will never be forgot. 
I am not here to laugh or to cheer, 
But all I want is a pocket full of money and a cellar full 

of beer. 
So, Ladies and gentlemen, if you don't believe what 

I say, 

Step in Turkish Knight and clear the way. 
Turkish Knight. Open your doors and let me in 
For your favour I am sure to win. 
Whether I rise or whether I fall 
I do my best to please you all. 
For King George is here and swears he will come in, 
And if he do he'll pierce me to my skin. 
So, Ladies and gentlemen, if you don't believe what I 

say, 

Step in King George and clear the way. 
King George. I am King George, this noble Knight 
Came from foreign lands to fight 
To fight that fiery dragon who is so bold 
And cut him down with his blood cold. 
Turkish Knight. Who 's he who seeks the Dragon's blood 

And curse so angry and so loud ? 
King George. I'm he who seeks the Dragon's blood 
And curse so angry and so loud. 



THE WESTON-SUB-EDGE PLAY 43 

Turkish Knight. You? you black-looking English dog, 

will you before me stand ? 
I'll cut thee down with my courageous hand. 
With my long teeth and scurly jaws I break up half a 

score 

And stay my stomach till I mourn. 
So to battle to battle and you and I will try 
To see which on the ground shall lie. 
Father Christmas. Oh is there a doctor to be found or any 

near at hand 
To heal this deep and deadly wound and make this dead 

man stand ? 
Doctor. Oh yeas, here is a doctor to be found all ready 

near at hand 
To heal this deep and deadly wound and make this dead 

man stand. 

Take one of my pills, bold fellow, rise up and fight 
again. 

The Turkish Knight and King George fight. 
Father Christmas. Oh is there a doctor to be found or any 

near at hand 
To heal this deep and deadly wound and make this dead 

man stand ? 
Doctor. Oh yes, here is a doctor to be found all ready near 

at hand 
To heal this deep and deadly wound and make this dead 

man stand. 

Ladies and gentlemen, all here a large wolf's tooth 
growing in this man's head and must be taken out 
before he'll recover. 

Father Christmas. What 's thy fee, Doctor ? 
Doctor. Ten guineas is my fee, 
But fifteen will I take of thee. 
Before I set this gallant free. 



44 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Father Christmas. Work thy will, Doctor. 

Doctor. I will. Where's Jack? 

John Finney. Oh yer 's Jack. Jack 's coming. 

Doctor. Hold my horse, Jack Finney. 

John Finney. My name ain't Jack Finney, my name 's 
Mr. John Finney, a man of great strength. Cured an 
old magpie of the toothache, twisted his old yud off, 
throwed his body in a dry ditch and drowned him; I 
went off the morrow about nine days after, picks up this 
little yud magpie, romed my arm down his throat, 
turned him inside outwards, and made as good a mag- 
pie as ever walked in a pair of pattens. 

Doctor. Hold my hoss, Mr. John Finney. 

John Finney. Will he bite? 

Doctor. No. 

John Finney. Will he kick ? 

Doctor. No. 

John Finney. Take tow to hold him ? 

Doctor. No. 

John Finney. Hold him yourself then. 

Doctor. What 's that, you saucy young rascal ? 

John Finney. Oh, I hold him, sir. 

Doctor. Give him a bucket of ashes and a fusket for his 
supper and well rrrrom down with the bissum stick. 

John Finney. Do it yerself, sir. 

Doctor. What 's that, you saucy young rascal ? 

John Finney. Oh, I do it, sir. 

Doctor. Bring me my spy glass, Mr. John Finney. 

John Finney. Fetch it yerself, sir. 

Doctor. What 's that, you saucy young rascal? 

John Finney. Oh, I fetch it, sir. There it is, sir. 

Doctor. What 's throw it down there for ? 

John Finney. Ah, for thee to pick it up agen, sir. 

Doctor. What 's that, you saucy young rascal ? 



THE WESTON-SUB-EDGE PLAY 45 

John Finney. Oh, for me to pick it up agen, sir. 

Doctor. Fetch me my lance, John Finney. 

John Finney. Fetch it yerself, sir. 

Doctor. What 's that, you saucy young rascal ? 

John Finney. Oh, I fetch it, sir. 

Doctor. What 's throw it down there for ? 

John Finney. Ah, for thee to pick it up again, sir. 

Doctor. What 's that, you saucy young rascal ? 

John Finney. Ah, for me to pick it up again, sir. 

Doctor. Fetch me my pinchers, John Finney. 

John Finney. Fetch them yerself, sir. 

Doctor. What 's that, you saucy young rascal ? 

John Finney. Oh, I fetch them, sir. 

Doctor. What 's throw them down there for ? 

John Finney. Ah, for thee to pick them up agen, sir. 

Doctor. What 's that, you saucy young rascal ? 

John Finney. Oh, for me to pick them up agen, sir. 

Doctor. Fetch me one of the strongest hosses you've got 

in yer team. 

John Finney. Fetch um yerself, sir. 
Doctor. What's that, you saucy young rascal? 
John Finney. Oh, I'll fetch him, sir. 

John Finney brings in one of the mummers and -pre- 
tends he is a horse. 

woa, woa, woa; woa, woa, woa. 
Doctor. You call that the strongest hoss you've got in the 

team ? 

John Finney. That's him, sir. 
Doctor. Hold him tight then, John Finney. 
John Finney. Hold him yerself. 
Doctor. What 's that, you saucy young rascal ? 
John Finney. Oh, I've got him, sir, fast by the tail. 
Doctor. Hold him fast then. 

This is repeated until all the other mummers have 



46 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

been brought on in turn, with the exception of Father 
Christmas who remains in the room watching and 
sweeping with his broom to make fun. 

Doctor. Now boys, a long pull short pull, pull all together 
boys. Oh, we've got him this time, John Finney. Ladies 
and gentlemen, all this large wolf's tooth has been 
growing in this man's head ninety-nine years before his 
great grandmother was born : if it had n't have been 
taken out to-day, he would have died yesterday. I've 
a little bottle by my side called Eelgumpane, one spot 
on the roof of this man's tongue, another on his tooth, 
will quickly bring him to life again. Rise up, bold 
fellow, and fight again. 

King George and the Turkish Knight fight. 

Father Christmas. Peace, peace, peace. Walk in Beel- 
zebub. 
Beelzebub. In comes I old Belzebub 

And on my back I carries my club 
And in my hand the dripping-pan, 
I thinks myself a jolly old man. 
Round hole, black as coal, 
Long tail and little hole. 

I went up a straight crooked lane. I met a bark and he 
dogged at me. I went to the stick and cut a hedge, gave 
him a rallier over the yud jud killed him round stout 
stiff and bold from Lancashire I came, if Doctor has n't 
done his part, John Finney wins the game. 
Last Christmas night I turned the spit, 
I burnt me finger and felt it itch, 
The sparks flew over the table, 
The pot-lid kicked the ladle, 
Up jumped spit jack 
Like a mansion man 
Swore he'd fight the dripping pan 



THE WESTON-SUB-EDGE PLAY 47 

With his long tail, 

Swore he'd send them all to jail. 

In comes the grid iron, if you can't agree 

I'm the justice, bring um to me. 

As I was going along, as I was standing still, 

I saw a wooden church built on a wooden hill, 

Nineteen leather bells a going without a clapper 

That made me wonder what was the matter. 

I went on a bit further, I came to King Charles up a 
cast iron pear tree. He asked I the way to get down. I 
said put thee feet in the stirrup iron and pitchee poll 
headfust into a marl pit where ninety-nine parish 
churches had been dug out besides a few odd villages. 
I went on a bit further, I came to a little big house, I 
knocked at the door and the maid fell out. She asked 
if I could eat a cup of her cider and drink a hard crust 
of her bread and cheese. I said 'No thanks, yes if yer 
please.' So I picked up me latters and went me ways. 
I went on a bit further. 

I came to two old women winnowing butter. 

That made me mum mum mummer and stutter. 
I went on a little bit further: I came to two little whipper 
snappers thrashing canary seeds: one gave a hard cut, 
the tother gen a driving cut, cut a sid through a wall 
nine foot wide killed a little jed dog tother side. I went 
of the morroe about nine days after, picks up this little 
jied dog, romes my arm down his throat, turned him 
inside outards, sent him down Buckle Street barking 
ninety miles long and I followed after him. 
John Finney. Now my lads we've come to the land of 
plenty, rost stones, plum puddings, houses thatched 
with pancakes, and little pigs running about with 
knives and forks stuck in their backs crying 'Who'll 
eat me, who'll eat me ?' 



48 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Father Christmas. Walk in clever legs. 
Cleverlegs. In comes I ain't been hit. 

With me big hump and little wit. 

Me chump's so big, me wit's so small, 

But I can play you a tune to please yer all. 
Father Christmas. What tune's that then ? 
Cleverlegs. One of our old favourites tunes Ran tan tinder 

box Cat in the fiddle bag Jonnie up up the orchard. 
Father Christmas. Let 's have him the. 

Now the three-handed reel takes place. 

Father Christmas. If this old frying pan had but a tongue, 
He'd say 'chuck in yer money and think it no wrong.' 

Here and elsewhere, the elaborations of the Cure 
are mainly, like its nucleus, in prose. There is some 
rough fun in the loutish impudence of Jack Finney. 
But most of the patter is such as appeals solely to the 
unlettered. It is purely verbal jesting, without salt 
of mind. It may take the form of an incongruous 
juxtaposition of contradictories: 

I went up a straight crooked lane 
and, 

I said 'No thanks, yes if yer please.' 

Or there may be a simple inversion of ideas: 

I met a bark and he dogged at me, 
and, 

She asked if I could eat a cup of her cider and drink 
a hard crust of her bread and cheese. 

All this comes straight from the village. It is the 
folk at its worst. 'Rustic paradox*, one may call 
it; 'topsy-turvydom', says Tiddy, but it is a far- 



THE WESTON-SUB-EDGE PLAY 49 

fetched suggestion that it might c be regarded as an 
art-form of magical incantations, like saying the 
Lord's Prayer backwards'. 1 He finds it in the clown 
Mouse of Mucedorus, who says, 'A was a littel, low, 
broad, tall, narrow, big, wel favoured fellow', and 
'I can keepe my tongue from picking and stealing, 
and my handes from lying and slaundering'. 2 In 
company with all this dross is found the romantic 
touch of adventure in an Earthly Paradise. Tiddy 
traces it rightly to the early fourteenth-century 
anti-monastic satire of The Land of Cokayne* 

Ther is a wel fair abbei, 
Of white monkes and of grei. 
Ther beth bowris and halles. 
Al of pasteiis beth the walles, 
Of fleis, of fisse, and rich met, 
The likfullist that man mai et. 
Fluren cakes beth the scingles alle, 
Of cherche, cloister, boure, and halle. 
The pinnes beth fat podinges, 
Rich met to princes and kinges . . . 
Yite I do yow mo to witte, 
The Gees irostid on the spitte 
Fleegh to that abbai, God hit wote. 4 

The theme is found in popular matter of Germany, 
but may be of literary origin. Through what 
channel it reached the Mummers' Play is not clear. 
There is a bit of it in Jonson's Bartholomew Fair: 5 

1 Tiddy, 84, 115. 2 Mucedorus, i. 4. 128; iv. 2. 56. 

3 Tiddy, 116. 

4 F. J. Furnivall, Early English Poems (1862, Trans, of Philological 
Soc. for 1858), from Bar/. MS. 913. s Barth. Fair, iii. 2. 

4024 H 



50 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Good mother, how shall we finde a pigge, if we doe not 
looke about for't ? will it run off o'the spit, into our mouths 
thinke you? as in Lubberlandl and cry, we, we? 

Both the rustic paradox and Lubberland seem to have 
their main home in the Cure, but they overflow into 
the Quete, as at Weston-sub-Edge, and also into 
the Presentation. 

The Cure. 

I return to the normalized text. In the north 
and the west midlands the Doctor is often: 

Dr. Brown, 
The best doctor in the town. 

This is, no doubt, for the sake of the rhyme. So, 
too, Dr. Good (Berks) will 'stop his blood', and 
Dr. Lockett (Chesterfield) has 'a bottle in his 
pocket*. Elsewhere the character is usually anony- 
mous. But I find Dr. Hero (Cinderford), Dr. Airo 
(Long Hanborough), Mr. Peter Lamb (Burgh- 
clere), Mr. Peter Gray (Hoe Benham), William 
Bentinck (Bovey Tracey), Dr. Ball (Thame), 
Dr. Dodd (Penn). Some of these may be the 
names of real local practitioners. A Dr. William 
Dodd of Wing in Bucks, who however was not a 
physician but a divine, was hanged for forgery in 
1777. Jack' or 'Mr.' Viney (Ilmington), Mr. 
Spinney (Islip), Philip Vincent (Somerset), Dr. 
Finley (Stourton), are due to a confusion with 
the Doctor's assistant, of whom more below. For 
Es-vo I-vo Ick-tick-tay (Coxwold), the medicine 



THE CURE 51 

chest itself must account. Broadway has a 'little 
Italian Doctor'. Tiddy reports the Doctor as 
saying at Chadlington, from which I have no text, 
'In comes I, one of the seventeenth sons of an over 
Doctor', and finds a better version in the Ampleforth 
Sword-Dance, 'In comes I the seventh son of a new- 
born doctor.' 1 It is, of course, to the seventh son of 
a seventh son that popular belief attributed excep- 
tional powers. But in the plays this is quite an 
isolated phrase. 

The Doctor's opening speech gives another ex- 
ample of incremental repetition. His colloquy with 
the Caller, which follows, deals, not always in the 
same order, with his travels and his skill, and with 
his fee, if that has not already been disposed of by 
the Caller's offer of a reward. I think that the reward 
was the original conception. It may, in the texts, 
be anything from five shillings to ten thousand 
pounds, and often no more is said about it. But 
sometimes the offer of a low reward has to be raised 
or, absurdly, lowered, before the Doctor will come. 
And as a rule, a reward at discretion is less within 
the experience of the performers than a fee to be 
bargained about. The Doctor may be straight- 
forward: 

King. What is your fee ? 
Doctor. Ten pounds is true. 
King. Proceed, noble Doctor. 
You shall have your due. 

' Tiddy 88. 



52 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

He may be confident: 

My fee 's ten pounds, but only five, 
If I don't save this man alive. 

He may be generous: 

Twenty pounds down is my fee, 
But half of that I'll take from thee, 
If it is St. George's life I save, 
That sum this night from you I crave, 

or, 

Fifteen pounds, it is my fee, 
The money to lay down, 
But as 'tis such a rogue as he, 
I'll cure him for ten pound. 

He may, elsewhere, as at Weston-sub-Edge, be 
paradoxically grasping. 

Five pounds, Martha. Thee being an honest woman, 
I'll charge thee ten. 

or, 

Well, as you are a poor man, I will throw off a 
farthing: that will make it fourteen pounds, nineteen 
shillings and eleven pence three farthings. 

There may be an elaborate dispute, and a threat to 
go away. Some hard bargaining is in a Scottish 
play. The Doctor wants ten pounds and a bottle of 
wine, and won't even bate the bottle. But in the 
Yorkshire chap-book he meets his match, for the 
Presenter has an aside, 'You'll be wondrous cunning 
if you get any'. The travels, of course, point to a 
time when a medical qualification was best acquired 



THE CURE 53 

abroad. An alteration in the order of the countries 
named may lead to a variant rhyme. 

From France, from Spain, from Rome I come, 
I've travelled all parts of Christendom. 

Sicily proved a stumbling-block, and a jingling 
rhyme to Italy was substituted. I find Jitaly, Pitaly, 
Spittaly, Titaly, Tickerly. An insular temper gave 
'England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales' and an 
imperialist one at Sunningwell, 'all the biggest 
parts of the Dominion*. A journey to Cockaigne 
and one 'from bedside to fireside, and from fireside 
to my mother's cupboard* are found in northern ver- 
sions. c We be n't like you Bee Shee Shard doctors. 
We travels for ours' is a vaunt at Leafield. Conceivably 
the obscure phrase, which puzzled Tiddy, might 
conceal the description of some diploma such as 
B.Sc. But Longborough has 'one of these yer shim- 
shams', which sounds much the same. A repudiation 
in some form of the charge of being a quack doctor 
often occurs. 

The list of curable diseases naturally takes some 
odd forms, of which that at Heptonstall is an extreme 
instance: 

Itchy pitchy polsh of a golsh. 

It is also expanded by others, such as rheumatism 

and corns, familiar in rustic life. Camborne gives us: 

The hipigo limpigo and no go at all. 

But there has also been a literary influence. Tiddy 
cites The Infallible Mountebank; Or, Quack Doctor, 



54 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

published without date by J. Robinson, who is 

doubtless Jacob Robinson (i 737-58). l 

All ills 
Past, present and to come ; 

The Cramp, the Stitch, 

The Squirt, the Itch, 
The Gout, the Stone, the Pox, 

The Mulligrubs, 

The Bonny Scrubs, 
And all Pandora s Box. 

This may itself owe something to the play. But its 
'Mulligrubs* and 'Pandora's Box' are clearly recog- 
nizable at Lockinge in 'the squolly grubs, the molly- 
grubs', at Sunningwell in 'Molly-grubs, Polly-grubs 
or any Ran-tan-tory disieces', at Shipton-under- 
Wychwood in 'all the rantantorious boxes', and at 
Ilmington in 'the Mullygrups and all other vain- 
glorious diseases'. The line about the devil gets 
much variation, such as 

If there 's nine devils in, I can kick ten out, 

and there is a distinct formula, which rings the 
changes on two different rhymes: 

Fetch me an old woman, seven years dead and seven 

years laid in her grave, 
I'll maintain her life and soul to save, 

and, 

Bring me an old woman, fourscore and ten, 
If she 's ne'er a tooth in her head, 

I'll bring her round young and plump again. 

1 Tiddy, 213. 



THE CURE 55 

This last links with an episode to which we shall 
come. 

The elecampane of the cure was a remedy well 
known in the seventeenth century. It appears as 
'halycompagne', 'helly com pain', 'elecome pain', 
'hallecomb pain', 'elegant paint', 'elegant plaint', 
'jollup and plain', and even at Cuddesdon, where, 
as Tiddy points out, there is a theological college, as 
'champagne'. Probably it is also the 'inkum pinkum' 
found in Scotland, although Maidment says that 
c inky pinky' was a Scottish eighteenth-century name 
for the smallest kind of beer. As 'hokum smokum 
alecampane' or 'icum spicome, spinto of Spain' it 
merges in the mere 'hocus pocus' or gibberish of 
'the okum pocum drop', 'im-cum-curum', 'oham, 
poham, githeram, oceam', 'ekee-okee, adama pokee', 
'hocum slocum aliquid spam', 'nixum-naxum, 
prixum-praxum, with i-cock-o'-lory'. Other popular 
medicaments, of various dates, are discernible. 
There is Jerusalem balsam. Golden Philosopher 
Drops yield 'golden foster drops', 'Golden Slozenger 
drops', and 'frosty drops'; Tic Doloureux Pills 'tic 
tolerune pills'. There are galvanic drops, Jupiter 
pills, virgin pills, silver pills, Dutch pills, and Scotch 
pills. Mr. Piggott cites a payment for Scotch pills 
in a Berkshire farmer's account of 1760.' The 
formula of administration varies. It may be: 

Take a little of this bottle, 
And run it down thy throttle, 
1 Folk-Lore^ xxxix. 272. 



56 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

or: Take a little of my nip-nap, 

And run it down thy tip-tap. 

Sometimes the cure takes place in silence. And the 
victim generally rises in silence. The play is over. 
If he gets a speech, I suspect that it is always an 
accretion. Scottish versions give him: 

Once I was dead, and now I am alive, 
Blessed be the doctor that made me to revive. 

Ireland adds an 'other world' touch. 

Aloft, aloft, where have I been, 
And oh! what strange and foreign lands I've seen. 
or, 

I have been half puffed and huddled in the sky : 
These moons and stars have caused me to die. 

Chap-books have : 

O hark ! St. George, I hear the silver trumpet sound, 
That summons us from off this bloody ground ; 
Farewell, St. George ; we can no longer stay. 
Down yonder is the way. 

More common is the following: 

Oh horrible, terrible, the like was never seen, 
A man drove out of seven senses into seventeen. 

I find it or something like it chiefly in the north, but 
also so far afield as Newport in Shropshire, Malvern 
and Leigh in Worcestershire, Waterstock in Oxford- 
shire, and Keynsham in Somersetshire. And it is 
certainly an accretion, being borrowed from a speech 
of Mouse when frightened by a bear in Mucedorus? 
'O horrible, terrible! Was ever poore Gentleman so 

1 Muccdorus, i. 2. I. 



JACK FINNEY 57 

scard out of his seauen Senses?' The origin is con- 
firmed by George's addition in the Isle of Man: 

It was neither by a bull, nor yet by a bear, 
But by a little devil of a rabbit there. 

yack Finney. 

I pass now to an elaboration of the Cure, which 
appears to be mainly confined to the Cotswolds and 
some other parts of the central area, where in one 
stage or other of its development it is common. 
It occurs, sporadically, as far north as Chesterfield. 
Weston-sub-Edge gives a good example. Three 
factors are involved, which may occur separately or 
in combination. Firstly, the normal healing by a 
medicament may be replaced or supplemented by 
drawing of a tooth from the Agonist. Occasionally 
the episode is detached from the combat, and the 
patient is a woman. This links up with one of the 
Doctor's vaunts. 1 At Weston-sub-Edge, as already 
noted, the tooth is called a wolf's tooth, and the 
Turkish Knight, who is the Agonist, is called a 
dragon. It is humorously described as 'more like 
a helephant's tooth than a Christian's'. It will 'hold 
a sack of beans one side and a quart of best ale 
t'other'. It is 'as long as a two-inch nail, and got 
roots like a poplar-tree'. At Icomb and Drayton 
an actual horse's tooth was shown, at Pillerton a 
donkey's tooth, at Hardwick a cow's tooth. Secondly 
the Doctor may be represented as coming on horse- 

' Cf. p. 54. 



4024 



$8 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

back. 1 How far this was visualized is not always 
clear from the texts and descriptions of the plays. 
Sometimes the horse seems to be merely spoken of, 
and may be supposed to be outside the door. But 
in three or four cases the Doctor certainly rode in 
on the back of one of the other mummers. At 
Longborough, we are told, 'they called Beelzebub, 
on whose back the Doctor came in, "the doctor's 
horse": but Beelzebub was also known to them as 
the "old woman" and was dressed in a frock.' And 
thirdly with the horse generally goes a horse-boy. 
He is called Jack and much of the patter of the 
scene belongs to him. It generally yields another 
toothy reference. Jack has 'cured an old magpie of 
the toothache, twisted his old yud off, throwed his 
body in a dry ditch and drowned him'. Often Jack 
is not a mere horse-boy, but the Doctor's assistant, 
and then he is generally Jack Finney, resents the 
Jack', and claims to be Mr. Finney. Occasionally 
the name is Vinney or Pinney. He fetches the 
instruments for the tooth-drawing and may help to 
give the pull. The team of mummers, which he 
organizes at Weston-sub-Edge for the purpose, is 
exceptional. At Stanford-in-the-Vale, it is Mary 
who fetches the instruments in his place. And finally 
he may become the Doctor's substitute in working 
the cure. The Doctor, having perhaps already 
cured a wound, may hesitate before the death of the 
same Agonist or another, and Jack Finney may step 

1 Cf. p. 212. 



MULTIPLIED COMBATS 59 

in, with the tooth cure or a normal one. On some 
other plays Jack Finney has merely left a shadow. 
The Doctor himself may bear that name or one 
derived from it, or under some other name may 
claim the 'Mr.', or may use the 'magpie* joke. At 
Chithurst it is a jackdaw. Occasionally Jack Finney 
is a combatant, or is in the Quete, from which, 
indeed, he possibly came. 1 

Multiplied Combats. 

The Jack Finney episode, it will be observed, 
may involve a duplication of the combat. But this 
is only one example of the way in which the Sword- 
play, more exciting both to performers and spectators 
than the dialogue, is often extended. Even when 
there is only one combat, it may be diversified. A 
pardon is craved and when it is refused, the sword- 
play continues. The Agonist inflicts a wound, before 
he himself falls. He is cured and again slain by the 
same Antagonist. But there is often a series of 
distinct combats. The Agonist, wounded and spared 
by one Antagonist, is taken on and slain by another. 
The victorious Antagonist is vanquished in his turn 
by a third combatant. Sometimes the prolongation 
is artless enough. Entirely fresh pairs of adversaries 
appear, to renew the vaunting and the fight. More 
often, however, a single Antagonist, almost invariably 
St. George, faces a succession of opponents, perhaps 
only disputing with some and slaying others. An 

' Cf. p. 68. 



60 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

extreme case is at Ross, where St. George slays in 
turn Prince Valentine, Bold Captain Rover, the 
Turkey Snipe, Little John, Bold Bonaparte, Sambo, 
and when they are cured, is finally himself slain by 
the Doctor. It is likely, from the variety of the 
devices used and their reliance for dialogue upon 
orts and scraps of the normal vaunts, that as a rule 
we have to do with nothing more than independent 
attempts in various places to spin out the interest of 
the piece. In two cases, however, the introduction 
of a second Presentation suggests that a version from 
elsewhere has been tacked on to that proper to the 
locality. At Bampton the second part may have 
been contributed by a Somersetshire rector. That of 
Icomb in Gloucestershire almost certainly comes 
from as far as Scotland. The only figure in the 
extensions which needs any further comment is that 
of Sambo. At Ross he is called upon by Bold 
Bonaparte to revenge him as his master. At Mylor 
in Cornwall, in the Isle of Man, and in the Newcastle- 
Whitehaven chap-book he has a similar role, al- 
though here the appeal comes from the Agonist's 
father. And in the Yorkshire chap-book and in 
Derbyshire the episode recurs with the substitution 
of Hector for Sambo. There is a fairly constant 
formula, somewhat as follows: 

King of Egypt. O Sambo! Sambo! help with speed, 
For I was never in more need; 
For thou to stand with sword in hand, 
And fight at my command. 



MULTIPLIED COMBATS 61 

Sambo. Yes, yes, my liege, I will obey, 

And by my sword I hope to win the day. 
If that be he who doth stand there, 
That slew my master's son and heir, 
If he be sprung from royal blood, 
I'll make it flow like Noah's flood. 

Generally the champion fails. In the Newcastle- 
Whitehaven version he excuses himself from fight- 
ing, because 'my sword-point is broke 5 . But in the 
Isle of Man he does revenge the original Agonist 
to whom, rather awkwardly, the broken sword is 
transferred. 

Apart from the Jack Finney cases, the duplication 
of combats only rarely leads to a duplication of the 
Cure scene. Sometimes two or more Agonists may 
be comprehended in a single cure. Sometimes an 
alternative wind-up is adopted for the subsidiary 
conflicts. Pardon may be given or peace made by 
the bystanders. The chap-books might be respon- 
sible for the adjournment of a dispute with an offer 
to 'cross the water at the hour of five'. But this is 
found also in the south at Sudbury and Rogate, and 
it recurs in the children's game of Lady on Yonder 
Hilly where also the lady is stabbed and revives. 1 
Finally, as on the Elizabethan stage, a dead body 
may be disposed of by carrying it out. This is done 
at Ross and at Bovey Tracey, and very elaborately 
at Camborne. 

Beelzebub. I have a fire that is long lighted, 

To put the Turk who was long knighted. 
1 A. B. Gomme, Traditional Games > i. 303. 



6z THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

With the help of the others he gets the Turk on to his 
back and goes out with him, saying, 

Here I goes old man Jack 
With the Turk upon my back. 

The Mason comes in with a trowel in his hand and 
a hod on his shoulder. 

The Mason. Here comes I little Tom Tarter, 
I am the boy for mixing marter. 

He takes St. George by the hand and walks him out 
saying, 

With my trowel and my hod 

I will build a house for you and God. 

There was an alternative ending. 

Father Christmas. We must bury the child. 

Let two take his feet and two take his arm 
And we will carry him out like a ship in a storm. 

He takes a book out of his pocket. 

We will sing a tune to him. 

You will find the Hymn 120 pound beef 

If you can't find it there, turn over a leaf. 

Then they carry him out, singing. 

This poor old man is dead and gone, 
We shall never see him no more, 
He used to wear an old gray coat 
All buttoned down before. 

In an unlocated version we get : 

Another performer enters and says, 

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, 
If uncle Tom Pearce won't have him. Aunt Molly 
must. 



THE QUfiTE 63 

Evidently folk-rhymes were drawn upon. An Easter 
qufae song recorded from Oxfordshire by White 
Kennett (1660-1728) had : 

Here sits a good wife, 
Pray God save her life ; 
Set her upon a hod, 
And drive her to God. 1 

A version of the children's burial game of Jenny 
Jones has : 

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, 

If God won't have you, the devil must. 2 

And in fact such endings merge in the variety 
entertainment, which accompanies that inevitable 
feature of the play, the Qu$te. 

The Quete. 

The four types of my text Big Head, Beelzebub, 
Jack with the wife and family, the Sweeper are 
all common and reasonably distinct, although it 
need hardly be said that they occasionally get each 
other's lines or functions. Big Head seems to be 
primarily a musician and dancer; Jack and the 
Sweeper collectors of money. Beelzebub may take 
over either activity, but more often is content with 
his burst of self-laudation. Any of them may con- 
tribute patter, or scraps of lines also found in the 
Presentation. I do not think that they ever all come 
together. Jack belongs to the southern and the 

1 J. Aubrey, Remains ofGentilism and Judaism (1881), 161. 

2 A. B. Gomme, Traditional Games, ii. 432. 



64 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Sweeper to the northern half of the country. The 
confusions between them are on the boundary of their 
areas. Both are found at Rugby, but here Beelzebub 
is missing. Their nomenclature suggests that they 
have diverged from a common original Jack. 

Big Head is also Head Per Nip, Fool, Tom Fool, 
Clown, I as Ain't Been Yet, Mazzant Binnit, Fiddler, 
Fiddler Wit, Old Father Scrump, Boxholder, Little 
Man Dick, Little Dick Nipp. The formula in his 
opening line may be 'that never come yet', 'that's 
never been yet', 'that's never been in it', 'that didn't 
come yet', 'that haven't been yet', 'as ain't been it', 
'as hant been it', 'as ain't been yet', 'as ain't been hit', 
'as can't be hit', 'which ain't been yet', 'who hant 
bin it', 'who's never been yet', 'who've never been 
hit'. I enumerate these variants, partly to show the 
flexibility of the English language, and partly to 
note the persistence of the rhyme to 'wit'. 1 The 
fourth line is also subject to modification. It may 
promise 'a song', 'a tune', 'my music', 'my fiddle', 
'my hurdy-gurdy'. It may borrow a phrase from 
the Presentation : 

I'll do my duty to please you all, 

or it may abandon the rhyme to 'small' and repeat 
that to 'wit'. 

Here comes I that never come yet 

With a quat head and little wit, 

If you please to throw in my hat what you think fit. 

1 Cf. p. 10. 



THE QUfiTE 65 

Beelzebub becomes Beelzebub the Fool, Old Billy 
Beelzebub, Belcibub, Belzeebug, Bellzie Bub, Bellsie 
Bob, Bellesy Bob, Bells Abub, Baal Zebub, Hub-bub- 
bub-bub, Lord Grubb. On the whole, apart from 
orthography, the Bible has kept his name in remem- 
brance. Instead of a 'club', he may carry a 'nub' or 
c nob', and the 'frying-pan' may be a 'dripping-pan', 
'warming-pan', 'pack and pan', 'empty can'. His 
last line may be: 

Pleased to get all the money I can. 
Lockinge furnishes a different rhyme: 

And on my elbow I carries my bell, 
And don't you think I cut a great swell. 

and Sapperton another: 

With my hump back and curly wig 
You play me a tune, I'll dance you a jig. 

Jack, to whose name 'Little' is generally prefixed, 
may be Johnny Jack, Jim Jack, Black Jack, Fat Jack, 
Happy Jack, Hump-backed Jack, Humpty Jack, 
Saucy Jack, Little Man Jack. His last line may be: 

I think myself the best man of you all, 
or, 

I am the biggest rogue among you all, 
or, 

I've brought a rattle to please you all. 

Rugby has a variant: 

Times hard, money small, 
Every copper will help us all, 



4024 



66 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

and Burghclere an addition: 

The roads are dirty, my shoes are bad, 
So please put a little into my bag. 

The reference to a wife and family is persistent, and 
may be elaborated by : 

Some at the workhouse, some at the rack, 
I'll bring the rest when I come back, 

or by the cumulative rhymes already given in 
connexion with the Lament. And its third line is 
curiously echoed in a version of a song used at the 
Hunting of the Wren on St. Stephen's Day (Decem- 
ber 26). 

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds, 
St. Stephen's Day was caught in the furze, 
Although he is little, his family 's great, 
I pray you, good landlady, give us a treat. 

The custom is known in Essex and the Isle of Man, 
but this particular third line comes from the south 
of Ireland. Essex has : 

Although he be little, his honour is great, 1 

The coastal counties of Hants and Sussex seem to be 
responsible for an accretion by which Jack is also 
Little or Tommy Twing Twang or Twin Twain, 
Headman of this press-gang, 

and in taking recruits for a 'man-o'-war'. Corruption 
produces: 

Nobleman of this press-gang, 

1 T. F. Dyer, British Popular Customs, 497; Northall, English Folk- 
Rhymes, 229; citing T. C. Croker, Researches in the South of Ireland 
(1824), 233. 



THE QUfiTE 67 

and, 

Left hand of this press-gang, 
and, 

With my left-handed press-gang. 

The press-gang got as far north as Witley in Berks 
and Alton Barnes in Wilts, but at Alton Barnes 
its point is forgotten; Twing Twang and Jack, each 
referring to his family, are distinct figures in the 
Quete and Twing Twang says : 

I'm the best in this rough gang. 

At Ovingdean Twin Twain is a sub-Presenter and 
Jack a queteur. At Overton and Witley, Twing 
Twang's qufae is preceded by victory in a subsidiary 
combat, after which he laments: 

Oh dear, oh dear, see what I've been and done, 
Killed my poor old Father, Abraham Brown. 

The Sweeper is most often Devil Dout, which 
may be modified into Dairy Dout, Jerry Dout, 
Diddle Dout, Dilly Dout, Diddie Dout, Diddlie 
Dots, while one very modern small boy made it 
Chucker Out. Devil Dout, too, gets the prefix 
Tittle'. You 'dout' a fire or a light. 1 But Dout often 
becomes Doubt. Tiddy would, I suppose, have 
scented theological influence here. Newport, at any 
rate in genteel households, substituted Jack Dout, 
but Sometimes we say, ma'am, Little Jack Devil 
Dout'. The lines show little variation, where Dout 

1 Cf.p.2I2. 



68 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

is concerned. Some alternative names lead to changes 

of rhyme. Thus Johnny or Billy Sweep has : 

All the money I get I mean to keep. 
Dicky Hissum comes 

With a new second-hand old bissum, 

which is a good example of the rustic paradox. 
Johnny Funny or Little Bibble and Funny has : 
I am the man to collect the money. 

It would seem natural to regard Johnny Funny's 
name as leading to that of Jack Finney. It may be 
so. But in the plays before me, while Jack Finney 
is a southerner, I only find Johnny Funny in Cum- 
berland and Ireland, and although Jack Finney, 
whether he has been in the Cure or not, is sometimes 
a queteur, it is always Big Head's lines and not the 
Sweeper's that he borrows. On the other hand at 
Chesterfield it is Fat Jack, with the wife and family, 
who replaces Jack Finney in the Cure. Jack is, 
indeed, an uncomfortably generic name on which 
to base any argument. 

The Woman invades the Quete, as she does other 
parts of the play. She has Big Head's lines as Molly 
Tinker at Stanford-in-the-Vale, Molly at Kingsclere, 
the Old Woman at Burghclere, and Mother Christ- 
mas in the Isle of Wight. Here she also sweeps. 
She replaces Beelzebub as Mrs. Beelzebub at Repton, 
Slipslop in Derbyshire, and Molly or Mary Tinker, 
who is also Old Mother Alezeebub, at Lockinge. 
Perhaps this perversion explains her use at Lockinge 



THE QUfiTE 69 

and Stanford-in-the-Vale of lines traced by Mr. 
Piggott to the folk-song When Joan's Ale was New. 1 

The next to come in was a tinker, 
Likewise no small beer drinker. 

Elsewhere in Berkshire Molly, who is Presenter, 
collects the money in silence, and so does a Little 
Judy at Icomb. Was she once Judas, who takes his 
boy round at Peebles? Perhaps the latest recruit 
for the play is the Suffragette of HeptonstalL 

In steps I, a suffragette, 

Over my shoulder I carry my clogs. 

One would expect to find Sabra in a St. George play, 
but there is very little trace of her. Sometimes she 
would c step out', generally as a mute, in Cornwall. 
She is not in the published Dorset versions, but 
Thomas Hardy appears to have seen her. 2 Coxwold 
in Yorkshire had and lost a Bride. 

Other figures appear in the Quete. The Presenter, 
the Doctor, or a combatant may speak again. The 
Bloody Warer of My lor is an epitome of the play. 
Oliver Cromwell, 'with my copper nose', and Lord 
Nelson are from history. The Prince of Peace, Old 
Almanac, and Compliments of the Season belong 
to Christmas itself. The Giant from the Giant's 
Rest of Bovey Tracey I have already noted. Little 
Box explains himself. Familiar village types are 
represented by the Policeman, Farmer Toddy, and 

1 Folk-Lore, xxxix. 273. The song is in A. Williams, Folk-Songs of the 
Upper Thames, 276. 

2 W. Archer, Real Conversations, 34. 



70 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Tom the Tinker, who gets at Hampton the 'drinker' 
rhyme given in Berkshire to Molly Tinker. The 
Old Squire 'as black as any Friar' of an unlocated 
version may be a variant of the Old Fool. The Old 
Tosspot or Tossip of Midgley and Heptonstall is 
proper to the Easter date there favoured. 

Although I am ragged and not so well dressed, 
I can carry a pace egg as well as the best. 

Essentially, of course, the Quete is the collection of 
a reward. It sometimes ends with a blessing of the 
'pocket full of money' type on the household visited. 1 
Music, dance and song, helped by patter, often turn 
it into an afterpiece, something like a revue. The 
musical instrument is generally a fiddle, or a rustic 
substitute called a hurdy-gurdy or humpen-scrump. 
It may be a drum or even a tin whistle, a mouth- 
organ, or a rattle. The dances named are the jig, 
the step-dance, the three-handed reel, the broom- 
stick dance. There are sword-dances, performed 
singly, in Derbyshire. The tune Greens/eeves was 
probably once traditional in several southern districts. 
It has left traces in some characteristic textual corrup- 
tions: 'Blue sleeves and yellow laces', 'Green sleeves 
and yellow waists', 'Green sleeves and yellow leaves'. 
I need not dwell on most of the songs, which may 
be anything from carols or other folk-songs to 
patriotic or music-hall ditties. An exceptionally 
interesting one is at Keynsham in Somerset. This 
is a wooing-dialogue. It begins, as Professor Basker- 

1 Cf. p. 21, 220. 



THE MYLOR PLAY 71 

vill points out, with a passage between Father 
Christmas and a Shepherdess, which is from a 
droll of Diphilo and Granida in The Wits (1673), 
and slips into another between the Shepherdess and 
a Prince, which is from the Wessex folk-song Old 
Mo!/. 1 A bit of this is also used at Broadway. 

The My/or Play. 

The after-piece itself becomes definitely dramatic 
in the very singular text from Mylor in Cornwall, 
which I will now give. 

William Solomon first -part (Presenter: Turkish 
Knight's Father} 

Rume, rume, gallants, rume, give me rume to rime, 

For in this house I mine to shew some of my past time. 

Now, gentlemen an Ladys, it is Christmas time. 

I am a blade, 

That knew my trade, 

All people doth a dear 2 me; 

I will swagger and banter an I 

Will drive the town before me; 

If I am naked 3 or if I am prict, 

I will give a man an answer; 

The very first man or boy I mits, 

My soard shall be is fencer. 

Behind the doar 

Thare lye a scoar; 

Pray Git it out, if you can, sur. 

1 Baskervill, Modem Philology, xxi. 270, and Elizabethan Jig, 165; 
A. Williams, Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames, 95. 

2 adore. 3 knocked. 



72 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

I walke away, 

Have nothing to pay, 

An let in the swagering man, sur. 

John Rowe fart the second 
Father Christmas 

Here comes I, ould father Christmas, welcom or welcom 

not; 

I hope ould father Christmas will never be forgot. 
Ould father Christmas a pair but woance a yare; 
He lucks like an ould man of 4 score yare. 

Penty Landin part the third (Turkish Knight} 

Hopen the doar and Lat me in, 

I hope your faver I shall wind ; 

Wether I rise or wether I foil, 

I will do my endeavour to please you all. 

St. George is at the doar, 

And swear he will com in 

With soard and buckler by is side 

I fear he will purs my skin. 

I now he is no fool, 

I now he is some stoute, 

Whyke will say more by wan inch of candle than I can 

performe while ten pound born out; 
And if you would not believe what I say, 
Let the king of Eagipt com in and clare the way. 

Wm Williams King of Egipt Fourth 

Here am I the King of Eagipt, 

Ho plainly doth apare; 

St. George he is my only son, 

My only son an hear. 

Walk in, St. George, and boldly act they part; 

Let all the royal family see the royal act. 



THE MYLOR PLAY 73 

F. Rowe (Beelzebub} * 
Here comes I, ould belzey bob, 
Upon my shoulder I carry my club, 
And in my hand a drippen and. 1 
Ham I not a hansom good looking ould man. 

Henry Crossmans part 5 (St. George) 
Hear comes I, son George, 
From England have I sprung. 
Sum of my wondras works 
Now for to begin; 
First into a Closet I was put, 
Then into a Cave was lock; 
I sot my foot upon a Rokke stone, 
Their did I make my sad an grievus mone. 
How many men have I slew, 
And runnd the firche 2 dragon thrue ; 
I fought them all Courrageously, 
And still got thire Victory, 
England's wright, England admorration. 
Now ear I drow my bloody weepon ; 
Ho is the man that doth before me Stand ? 
I will cut him down with my courrageous hand. 

Penty Landin 6 (Turkish Knight} 
Hear comes I the Turkish Knight, 
Come from the Turkish land to fight; 
I will fight Sun George, that man of courage 
And if his blood is hot, soon will I make it Could. 

Henry Grossman 7 (St. George) 
Thee come so far, 
To fight such a man as I ! 
I will cut thy doublats ful of Hylent 3 hols 
And make thy buttens fly. 

1 pan. 2 fiery or fierce. 3 eyelet? 



4024 



74 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Penty Landin 8 (Turkish Knight} 

I am a man of vallour 

I will fight untill I die 

Sun George, thou never will face me, 

But a way from me will fly. 

Henry Grossman 9 (St. George) 

Ha ! proud Turk, what, will thou tell me so 
With threting words and threting oaths ? 
Drow thy sord and fight, 
Draw thy fees and pay, 
For satisfaction I will have 
Be fore I go away. 

Penty Landin 10 (Turkish Knight} 

No satisfaction shall you have, 

But in a moment's time I will bring thee to thy grave. 

Henry Grossman 1 1 (St. George} 

Thee bring me to my grave ! 

I will fight with thee, no pardon shall you have ; 

So drow thy sord and fight, 

For I will concour you this night. 

(Fight. Turkish Knight falls} 
Solomon 12 (Presenter) 

docter, docter, wat is thy fee, 
This champion for to rise ? 

The site of him doth trouble me, 
To see how dead he lies. 

W. Williams 13 (Doctor} 

Full fifty ginnes is my fee, 
And money to have down, 
But sunes tis for is majesty, 

1 will do it for ten pound. 



THE MYLOR PLAY 75 

I have a little bottle in the wrestbond of my britches that 

goes by the name of halycompane, 
Shall make this goodly champion rice and fight a gain. 
Are, 1 Jack! take a little of my drip drop, pour it up in the 

tip top, arise, Jack, slash and fight again. 
Behold this motal now reviving be ; 
Tis by my sceel and strength the ficik, see, 
Which make this goodly night revive 
And bring is aged father now alive. 
Awacke thou lustros 2 knight also, 
And I will take thee by the hand and try if thou canst go. 

P. Langdon 14 (^Turkish Knight} 

What places is are ! 
What seens appare ! 

Whare ever I torn mine eye, 
Tis all around 
In chantin ground 

And soft delusions 3 rise: 
Flowry mountins, 
Mossy fountins, 

What will 4 veriety Surprize. 

Tis on the alow 5 walks we walks, 
An hundred ecos round us stock: 6 
From hils to hils the voices tost, 
Rocks rebounding, 
Ecos resounding, 
Not one single words was lost. 

Henry Grossman 15 (St. George) 

Behold on yander risen ground 
The bour that woander, 

1 Here or Ah. 2 illustrious. 3 Elysiums. 

4 With wild. 5 hollow. 6 talk. 



76 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Ever ending, 
Ever blending, 
Glades an 1 glades, 
Shades an shades, 
Running on eternal round. 

(Another Fight) 

P. Langdon 16 (Turkish Knight) 

O pardon, pardon, St. George, one thing of thee I crav; 
Spair me my life and I will be thy constant slave. 

H. Grossman 17 (St. George) 
Yes, proude Torke, but arise, and go in to thy on land 

and tell 

What a bould champion there doth in England stand. 
Had it been a thousand or ten thousand such men as thee, I 

would fight, 

For to man tain grait Britain's right; 
Great Britian's right I will mentain, 
And fight for England wance again. 

Wm. Solomon (Presenter) 
As I gist stiping 2 out of my bed, 
In hearing this my honly son was dead, 

cruel Christan, what ast thou don ? 
Thou ast ruin'd me and killed my only Son. 

Henry Grossman (St. George) 

He was the first that chalins'd me, and how can I deny 
To see the Turkish dog stand up and folldon and die ? 

William Solomon (Presenter) 

1 will seek the bouldest champion in my relam, 
This cruel Christan's blood to overwealam. 

O help me, Sampo, help me; was thare ever a man in 

greater need? 

To fight like a sowlejar make thy hart to bleed. 
1 on. 2 just stepping. 



THE MYLOR PLAY 77 

John Rowe (Sambo) 

Are am I, Sampo, I will slafter the man that spilt my 

master blood, 
And with my body I will make the oacken 1 flood. 

(Another fight) 
William Solomon (Presenter) 

O docter, docter, is there nary docter to be found, 
Or to be had this night, 
Can cuer this bloody wound, 
And make him stand upright ? 

William Williams (Doctor) 

is there 2 a docter to be found, 
Or to be had this night, 

Can heal this man's bloody wound 
And make him stand upright. 

Wm. Solomon (Presenter} 
Pray ware ast thou travld ? 

Williams (Doctor) 

1 have travld to London, Garmenay, Scotland and Spain, 
By all my rich fortune safe returned to England again. 

Solomon (Presenter) 
What canst thou cure ? 

Williams (Doctor) 

I can cure the hick, the stick, the pox, the gout, 

All deses and comppleases. 

If any man as got a scolin wife, 

My balsom will cure her; 

Take but one drop of this, upon my life, 

She will never scoul no more. 

1 ocean. 2 there is. 



78 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

(Part if) 
Wm. Williams 1 9 (Bloody Warrior} 

Hear am I, the bloody Warer 1 O, have I spent my time 
in bloody War! Slash, cornary, 1 dam the Ribal's carse! 
Sholl I walk ones, twoes, thrise over the dark with out hat, 
stockin? Shart I bow dack to every drunkerd or proud 
sot ? No, by this Etarnal sord ! The man that is not fit to 
dye is not fit to live. Stand, delever, push your pikestaf 
by the Hyeway ! Hoop ! that man 's neck is not very big 
that fears a little rope. I pray, Mrs. Doldorty, git me 
gud shir for supper, for I main to have gud shir. 2 'Tis not 
your fether fowl nor Apple pyes I main, as your chised 3 
ches crids 4 nor crym; I can't eat none. Ad it been a bit 
soceen 5 pig, I might have a chance to pic a bone. All I 
leve and all I lack, in come my man Jack, and carried all 
away in my nalsack 6 

Wm. Solomon 20 (Little John} 

Here comes I, little man John, with a Sord in my hand, 
And if any man offend me I will make him to stand. 
I will cut him and slash him so small as the flys, 
And send him to Jemecka to make Appel pyes. 

Wm. Solomon 21 (King of France} 

Hear am I, the King of France! King Henry I har is 
Riseing a army against France. But let him come, I will 
thonder him back, he can not me with stand. My milk 
wite corls, my rid caps, my yallow fethers, deccar my 
resoralson stout and bould. The Crown I will not spear. 
I am the King of France, and with my sord I will advance. 

Penty 22 (Page} 
My mester sent me onto you. 

Ten ton of gold that is due to him, 

1 cuckold, fool. 2 cheer. 3 chiselly, friable. 

4 curds. s sucking. 6 knapsack. 



THE MYLOR PLAY 79 

And if you dont send him is tribut home, 
Sone he in France land you see. 

William Solomon 23 (King of France) 
Go tell your mester that he is yung and of tender years, 

Not fit to come within my degree, 
And I will send three tennas bols, 

That with him he may learn to play. 

Penty Landin 24 (English Page) 

Hark, hark! wot sending vads my ears? 
The conquers a porch I hear. 
'Tis Henry's march, 'tis Henry time I now. 
He comes, victorus Henry comes ! 
With obboys, Tropets, fifes and drums 
Send from afar 
And sound of war, 
Foil of grief and every wind. 
From walk to walk, from shade to shade, 
From strim to poolin strim convaid, 
Thrue all the minglin of the grove, 
Thrue all the minglin tracks of love, 
Tyrnin, 
Burnin, 
Changin, 
Rangin, 

Full of grife and full of woe, 
Impashent from my Lord's return. 

Henry Grossman 25 (Henry V} 

Whot nuse, whot nuse, my lovely Page, 
Whot nuse have you brought onto me ? 

(Penty Landin: Page) 

I have brought such nuse from the King of France, 
That you and he will never agree. 



8o THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

For he says you am young and of tender years, 

Not fit to come in your degree, 
And he will send you three tinnes bolls, 

That with them you may Learn to play. 

Henry Grossman 26 (Henry V} 
From yender march King Henry, 
With all my gallent company. 

Now I have taken upon me a charge, 

To govern these poor ants, 
That the may wolk more large, 

And in these wonts 

That the may wolk more safe, 

And bring home thire relife, 
And keep that wich I have 

From every Idol Theft. 

But now the King is hear, 

I will bow down lowe my knee. 

All those that ventered hear 
Is subject unto me. 

God bless the Roral King, 

And send him a long to reain, 

And joy in Everything, 

And free him from all pain. 

I an my men and mine, 

My Ants and all I have, 
I command them the her mime, 

So the King god save. 

Wm. Solomon 27 (King of France} 
O pardon, pardon, King Henry! 

The Ton of gould I will pay to thee, 
And the finest flour that is in all France 

To the rose of Ingland I will give free. 



THE MYLOR PLAY 81 

P. Langdon 28 (Admiral Byng} 

Hear am I, bing bing, 

Ho in an alter of to swing, 

Ho did the battle falter. 

O corced was the day, 

That first I went to sea, 

To fight the French, 

And then to run away. 

Now are I stand, 

With sord in hand, 

And now I will fight any man. 

H. Grossman 29 (Edward Fernori) 
Here am I vornal bould. 
Took six ships and lead the Spanyard gould, 
Took shear of thare castle and port below, 
Made the proud Spanyards look dismal and yellow, 
But we was not daunted a toll, 1 
Until their come a boll, 
And took us in the goll, 
And Queback foil 
From our hands. 

The first brod side the Frinch did fire, 
They kild our Englesh men so free. 
We keeld ten thousand of the Frinch, 
The rest of them the rund away. 
O ! as we march to the Frinch gates 
With drums and Trumpets so merrely, 
O ! then be spock the old king of France, 
So he foil on his bended knee, 
Prince Henry. 

I one of his gallent company, 
I soon forsook bold London Town. 
We went and took the Spanish crown. 

* at all. 

4024 M 



82 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

We soun then won. 

And now we have shoud you all our fun. 

30 (Presenter*) 

Gentlemen and ladies, all your sport is don, I can no 

longer stay; 

Remember, still St. George will bear the sway. 
Gentlemon and ladies all, I hope you will be free 
For to subscribe a little part to pay the doctor's fee. 

31 (Big Head} 

Here comes I that never come yet, 

With a quat 1 head and little wit, 

If you please to throw in my hat what you think fit. 

The original text is written continuously in prose, 
and I have divided it metrically. The Bloody 
Warrior's speech is really prose, and may be a late 
addition. I have introduced some capitalization and 
punctuation and indicated the characters in angular 
brackets, but left the spelling alone. It will be 
observed that there is some doubling of parts. 
I am not sure whether Sambo is meant to fight. 2 
In any case the Cure has been much dislocated. 
Tiddy found most of the quatrains in the late 
eighteenth-century ballad of King Henry Fifth's 
Conquest of France, but those of Speech 26 must be 
from another source. 3 The lyrical passages he found 
in Addison's opera Fair Rosamond (1707). He 
identified the Vornal of Speech 29 with Edward 
Vernon, who boasted that he would take Portobello 
from the Spanish with six ships and did take it with 

1 squat. * Cf. p. 60. 3 Child, no. 164. 



COSTUME 83 

nine in 1 739. But the event has been mixed up with 
the capture of Quebec by Wolfe in 1759, as we ^ as 
with Henry V. The Admiral Byng of speech 28 
was shot, not hung, in 1757. 

Costume. 

It is unfortunate that the recorders of Mummers' 
Plays have not always been careful to describe the 
appearance of the performers. As to this, therefore, 
the material is comparatively scanty. One may start 
from the account given in dialect by William Sandys 
for the Cornwall of I846. 1 Most of the company 
were 'en white weth ribands tied all upon their shirt 
sleeves with nackins and swords and sich caps as I 
never seed. They was half a fathom high maade of 
pastyboord, weth powers of beads and leaking glass, 
and other noshions, and strids of ould cloth stringed 
'pon slivers of pith hanging down'. Old Father 
Christmas came 'weth a make-wise feace possed on 
top of his aun, and es long white wig'; the Doctor 
'with a three-corner piked hat, and es feace all 
rudded and whited, with spurticles on top of es 
nawse'. It was presumably Sabra who wore 'a 
maiden's bed-gound and coats with ribands, and a 
nackin en es hand and a gowk', which Sandys 
glosses as a bonnet with a flap or curtain behind. 
Many of the features here noted are still, in one 
place or another, de rigueur. Nowadays, no doubt, 
the combatants often wear military uniform or 

1 Uncle Jan Trenoodle, Specimens of Cornish Provincial Dialect, 52. 



84 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

some colourable pretence thereof. But this is pro- 
bably a modern development; the uniform is in 
fact khaki at Drayton. The white shirt or smock 
gave a name to the White Boys of the Isle of Man, 
and occasionally survives elsewhere. But the smock 
of the English agricultural labourer is practically 
extinct, and ordinary clothes have generally replaced 
it as the basis of the costume. There is still, however, 
the same overlay of floating ribbons or bits of cloth, 
or of closely laid strips of paper, often gaily coloured 
wall-paper. I have not noticed any special use of 
'nackins' or 'napkins', although this is likely enough. 
It is largely a matter of the rustic conception of orna- 
ment. Thomas Hardy writes of a Dorsetshire play: 

The girls could never be brought to respect tradition in 
designing and decorating the armour: they insisted on 
attaching loops and bows of silk and velvet in any situation 
pleasing to their taste. Gorget, gusset, bassinet, cuirass, 
gauntlet, sleeve, all alike in the view of these feminine eyes 
were practicable spaces whereon to sew scraps of fluttering 
colour. 1 

Whether a representation of armour was ever in- 
tended, I am not clear. One folk-lorist has thought 
that the 'paper scales' of certain costumes once in 
the Anthropological Museum at Cambridge imitated 
the leaves of trees. 2 Another found in them the 
scales of the dragon. 3 A third sees in Berkshire 
examples 'a strange garb resembling sheep-skins', 

1 Return of the Native, Bk. ii, ch. 3. 

2 G. L. Gomme in Nature (23 Dec. 1897). 

3 T. F. Ordish in Folk-Lore, iv, 163. 



COSTUME 85 

and that indeed is rather the impression which 
Mr. Long's Hampshire photographs leave upon me. 7 
The tall head-dresses of the Cornish play also 
survive, here and there. They are described as 
4 conical' or 'pointed', or as 'foolscaps' or 'mitres'. 
They may be adorned with plumes; at Kempsford 
in Gloucestershire, with flags from the river. In the 
Isle of Man they are turbans, with holly-sprigs. 
On the other hand, a combatant at Thenford wore 
a fox- or hare-skin cap, and in Scotland we have the 
Admiral of the Hairy-caps. At Broadway Beelze- 
bub's large black hat is said to have been called his 
'dripping pan', but that may rest upon a misunder- 
standing. Sometimes the head-dress, too, has pen- 
dant strips of paper, which cover the face. Occasion- 
ally masks are worn, or faces are blackened. All the 
performers had black faces at Witley, Longborough, 
and Ross. More usually it is a peculiarity of one 
or more of them, Beelzebub or Little Devil Dout, 
or again, the King of Egypt or the Black Prince. 
A black-faced Doctor in the Isle of Man is ex- 
ceptional. But Beelzebub has a red mask at Bally- 
brennan, and the Fool's face, too, may be ruddled. 
Here we get the explanation of the formulas 'black 
as a friar' and 'red as fire'. At Camborne the 
lamenter uses red ochre to simulate blood on the 
neck of the Agonist. Beelzebub has a tail at Weston- 
sub-Edge, and says he had one, but dropped it on 
the way, at Dundalk. Many things have got dropped 

1 P. H. Ditchfield, Qld English Customs, 9. 



86 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

on the way in the history of our play, and many 
things picked up. Thus at Ballybrennan the Fool 
was dressed as Punch, and he is so figured in the 
Manchester chap-book. More often he, or Big 
Head, has a bauble, or a bladder on a stick. At 
Thenford there is a calf's tail at the other end of the 
stick. St. George may wear a red cross; it is less 
congruous that the Turkish Knight should wear 
another at Newbold. Father Christmas has usually 
a white beard. I do not know what his 'pop and 
touse' at Camborne may have been; perhaps it means 
no more than 'bustle'. 1 The Doctor's piked hat of 
Cornwall has usually become a top hat, but his 
appearance remains professional, with black clothes, 
spectacles, and a black bag. The Giant, or Dragon, 
at Bovey Tracey wore 'a wooden thing for a head with 
bullock's teeth', a mask with whiskers, and a long- 
tailed coat with tin buttons. Two other recurrent 
features require mention. One is the use of a bell. 
At Sapperton Beelzebub wears a sheep-bell and 
Morris bells, and Big Head has a bell on his rump. 
Beelzebub also wears a bell on his back at Eccleshall 
and Newport, and a bell on his, or rather her, elbow 
at Lockinge. At Compton he opens the Qufoe with 
'my old bell shall ring'. In Derbyshire no such 
adornment is mentioned, but a bell rings all through 
his part. At Eversley, where 'nob' replaces 'club' in 
his lines, he wears a ball of silver paper on a top hat. 
At Thenford the Doctor has a bell on his back. 

1 Cf. p. 19. 



ABNORMAL MUMMERS' PLAYS 87 

Secondly, one or other of the characters often has his 
jacket or head-dress padded with straw to represent a 
hump. It may be Big Head, or Beelzebub, or Father 
Christmas, or the Doctor. But it is most noticeable 
in Jack, who nearly always either has a hump, or 
has a number of rag dolls tied on his back and 
regarded as his wife and family. 

Abnormal Mummers' Plays. 

So far I have been dealing with a widespread 
mass of texts, which bear evidence, for all their 
innumerable oblivions, accretions, and verbal per- 
versions, of gradual derivation from a common 
original archetype. I must now consider some major 
variants, of much more limited range. 

Thame, in Oxfordshire, but remote from the 
Cotswold area, yields a quite exceptional version. 
The combatants, who enter in turn without a Pre- 
senter, are King Alfred and his Bride, King Cole, 
King William 'of blessed memory', Giant Blunder- 
bore and his man Little Jack, St. George accompanied 
by a Morris Dance, and the Dragon. The fight 
takes the form of a general melde, after which Dr. 
Ball cures all the company except the Dragon, whom 
his pill kills. Finally appears Father Christmas who 
conducts a Qufae. The play is said to have been given 
as far back as 1807, but to me it suggests a literary 
remaniement. Except for a phrase or two in the 
Doctor's part, there is little trace of the normal 
formulas. 



88 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

From west Dorsetshire come three texts. In one 
the main action and its dialogue follow more or less 
ordinary lines. King George successively van- 
quishes the Turkish Knight, Marshalee, Slasher, 
Cutting Star and the sub-Presenter Room, all of 
whom are said to be sons of the Presenter Father 
Christmas, and the Doctor cures the lot. In the other 
two, which are from Symondsbury, the dialogue, 
although normal in substance, has been rewritten 
in paraphrase throughout. Room is again a sub- 
Presenter, with Anthony, the Egyptian King. And 
St. George is accompanied by St. Patrick, whom he 
had delivered from a 'wretched den', and who in 
gratitude disposes for him of Captain Bluster, leaving 
Gracious King, General Valentine, and Colonel 
Spring to fall before George himself. The Doctor, 
too, is an Irishman, Mr. Martin Dennis, and his 
fee will keep him in whisky for a twelve-month. 
But all three versions are peculiar, in that the Qu$te 
is replaced by a comic after-piece, in which there is a 
quarrel between Father Christmas, also called Jan, 
and his wife, Old Bet, also called Dame Dorothy, 
who has Big Head's lines in the single version, but in 
the others is only 'rather fat, but not very tail*. Jan 
knocks her down and the Doctor's services are again 
required. In the single version the quarrel is for a 
quid of baccy, but after the Cure it is resumed about 
the way to cook an old jack hare. Father Christmas 
then rides off on a hobby-horse. The other versions 
have only the hare quarrel, and the wind-up is a 



THE PLOUGH PLAY 89 

rhyming dialogue between Father Christmas and a 
Servant Man. I should add that in the Isle of Wight 
version the Qu$fe is preceded by a similar fight 
between Father and Mother Christmas. Here, too, 
she has Big Head's lines and annoys her husband 
by sweeping the house. They belabour each other 
with cudgel and broom on backs stuffed with straw. 
Two versions, from Kempsford in Gloucestershire 
and Shipton-under-Wychwood in Oxfordshire, may 
have been conflated with some play from the Robin 
Hood cycle, which had been dramatized, possibly 
for use in folk-/W/, in the fifteenth or sixteenth 
century. 1 There is no St. George. The combatants 
are Robin Hood, Arthur Abland, and Little John, 
and the dialogue is based on the ballad of Robin 
Hood and Arthur a Bland, the Tanner of Notting- 
ham. 2 There are traces of the same ballad in the 
Presentation at Keynsham. Little John is an Agonist 
at Ross. Both Robin Hood and Little John are 
qutteurs at Bampton, and Little Man John at Mylor 
and Potterne. He seems to merge into the Little 
Man Jack or Little Jack of the Qu$te. I am told that 
a distinct Robin Hood play is still known in Derby- 
shire. 

The Plough Play. 

More important than these minor variants are the 
Plough Plays, of which over a dozen specimens are 
on record. They are almost entirely confined to 

1 Mediaeval Stage, \. 177. 2 Quid, no. 126. 



4024 



90 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Lincolnshire, but there are two from Nottingham- 
shire, which seems to have been a border-line area, 
since Clayworth yields both a Plough Play and 
one of the normal type. They belong, broadly 
speaking, to the Christmas season, but more precisely 
to Plough Monday, the first Monday after Epiphany, 
on which agricultural labour was resumed after the 
mid-winter holiday. Plough Monday observances 
are found in a long range of other north-eastern 
and northern counties, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, 
Huntingdonshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, 
Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Northumberland. Plough- 
boys, often in white shirts, harness themselves to a 
Fool Plough, Fond Plough, White Plough, or Stot 
Plough, and drag it in procession round the village. 
There is a Quete. The churl, who does not contribute, 
runs the risk of having the ground before his 
house ploughed up. The performers call themselves 
Plough Jacks, Plough Jags, Plough Stots, Plough 
Bullocks, Plough Boggons, Plough Witchers, or 
Morris Dancers. They sometimes wear patches of 
cloth, cut in the shapes of ploughs and farm animals. 
In Northants they blacken their faces. Their leader 
is a Fool, Billy Buck, or Captain Cauf's Tail, and 
with them goes a man in woman's clothes called the 
Bessy. One or other of these, or the driver, may 
wear a bullock's tail, or a fox-skin hood, or a coat 
of skins or shreds of cloth, or flourish a whip with a 
bladder tied to it. In Northants there are two Red 
Jacks or Fools, with hunched backs, and knaves of 



THE PLOUGH PLAY 91 

hearts sewn on them. Henry Parker, in his Dives 
and Pauper (1493), speaks of 'ledinge of the Ploughe 
aboute the Fire as for gode begynnyng of the yere, 
that they shulde fare the better all the yere follow- 
yng'. The charm acquired ecclesiastical sanction. 
John Bale tells Bishop Bonner in irony that he ought 
to be punished 'for not sensing the Ploughess upon 
Plough Monday', and many churchwardens' ac- 
counts show that the proceeds of the 'gathering', or 
part of them, went to the maintenance of a 'plough- 
light' in the village church. Hence the day in 
Norfolk is Tlowlick Monday'. At Holbeach the 
plough, or a representation of it, appears to have 
been kept in the church. 1 

The Plough Plays, as a group, differ from the 
normal type, in that, while there is generally a 
Combat with its Cure, this is only loosely attached to 
a sentimental drama, which may be called The Poors 
Wooing. Many of the texts are degenerate. The 
best preserved were written down in the first quarter 
of the nineteenth century, and found by Professor 
Baskervill in a British Museum manuscript. From 
him I borrow the Bassingham play, premising that I 
have pieced together two versions, neither of which 
seems to be logically quite complete. 

The main text is the men's play; the passages in 

1 Mediaeval Stage, i. 120, 150, 208; Frazer, Golden Bough*, viii. 325; 
J. Brand, Observations on Popular Antiquities (ed. H. Ellis), i. 278; 
T. F. T. Dyer, British Popular Customs, 37 ; P. H. Ditchfield, Old English 
Customs, 47; County Folk-Lore (F.L.S.), ii. 231; v. 171; Folk-Lore, 
iv. 163; xli. 196. 



92 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

square brackets are from the children's play; the 

directions in angular brackets are editorial. 

(Enter Fool) 

Good evening, Ladys and Gentlemen all ! 
This merry time at Christmas I have made it bold to call. 
I hope you will not take it ill what I am a going to say. 
I have some more Boys & Girls drawing on this way, 
I have some little Boys stands at the Door, 
In Ribons they are neatly dressed, 
For to please you all they shall do their best. 
Step in Merrymen all. 

(Enter players and sing} 

Good Master and good Mistress, 

As you sit by the Fire, 
Remember us poor Ploughlads, 

That runs through Mud and Mire. 

The mire it is deep, 

And we travel far and near. 
We will thank you for a Christmas Box 

And a mug of your strong Beer. 

(Enter Eldest Son) 

I am me Father's eldest Son 

And Heir of all his land ; 
I hope in a short time 

It will all fall in my hand. 

I was brought up in Linsy Coat, 1 

All the Days of my Life; 
There stands a fair Lady, 

I wish she was my Wife. 

1 Lindsey is the northern division of Lincolnshire, but I cannot identify 
Linsy Coat, which is Lincecort in the children's play, Linsecourt at 



THE PLOUGH PLAY 93 

With fingers long and rings upon, 

All made of beaton gold, 
Good master and good Mistress, 

I would have you to behold. 

(Lady) 

[It tis my clothing you admire, 
Not my beauty you desire. 
So, gentle sir, I must away, 
I have other suteers on me stay.] 

(Enter Farming Man) 

Here comes the Farming Man, 
Upon my principle for to stand. 
I'm come to woo this Lady fair, 
To gain her Love his all my care. 

Enter Lady 

To gain my love it will not do, 
You speak too Clownish for to woo ; 
Therefore out of my sight be gone, 
A witty man, or PI have none. 

Enter Lawyer 

A man for wit I am the best, 

So Chuse me from amongst the rest. 

(Lady) 

A Lawyer I suppose you be, 
You plead your Cause so wittely; 
But by an by PI tell you plain, 
You plead a Cause that's all in vain. 

Broughton, and Lindsey Court at Revesby. Lincoln may be meant, but 
Henry of Huntingdon's incorrect identification of this with a Celtic Cair 
Luit Coyt (Haverfield, Roman Occupation of 'Britain, 291) can hardly have 
got into local parlance. 



94 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

(Enter The Old Witch} 

Here comes old Dame Jane, 

Comes dableing about the Meadow, 

Comes Jumping about, to show you such sport-; 

Look about you, old Maids and Widows. 

Long time I have sought you, 

But now I have found you. 

Sarrah, come take your Bastard. 

(Foot) 

Bastard ! you Jade, it 's none of mine, 
It's not a bit like me. 

I am a Valient Hero lately Come from Sea. 
You never saw me before, now did you ? 
I slew Ten men with a Seed of Mustard, 
Ten thousand with an old Crush'd Toad. 
What do you think to that, Jane ? 
If you don't be of, Fl serve you the same. 

(Enter Old Man} 

Here comes the poor old ancient Man, 
Fl speak for myself the best I can, 
My old grey Hairs they Hang so low, 
Fll do the best for myself the best I know. 
Me thinks me sees that star shine bright ; 
On you I've fix'd my heart's delight. 

In comes the Lady 
Away, Away from me be gone ! 
Do you think I'd Marry such a Drone? 
No, Fl have one of high degree, 
And not such an helpless wretch as the. 

Old Man 

Kick me, lady, out of the door, 
Fl be hang'd over our Kitchen Door, 
[If ever I come near you any more.] 



THE PLOUGH PLAY 95 

(Enter St. George) 

In comes Saint George, 

The Champeon bold. 
With my blooddy spear 

I have won Ten Thousand pounds in Gold. 
I fought the finest Dragon 

And brought him to a slaughter. 
And by that means I gaind 

The King of Egypts Daughter. 
I ash him and smash him as small as Flys, 
Send him to Jamaica to make Minch pies. 
(Fool} 

You hash me and smash me as small as flys, 
Send me to Jamaica to make Minch Pies ? 

(St. George} 

Yes, Fl hash you and smash you as small as Flys, 
And send you to Jamaica to make Minch Pies. 

(Fight. Fool falls} 

The old Witch. 
Five pounds for a Docter my Husband to cure ! 

The Docter 
I'm the Docter. 

(The Old Witch} 
Pray, what can you cure ? 
(The Doctor} 

I can cure the Itch and the Veneral & the Gout, 

All akes within and pains without. 

You may think I am mistain, 

But I can bring this Man to Life again. 

The old Witch Says 
Where have you learnt your skill, Docter ? 



96 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

The Docter 
I have traveled for it. 

The Old Witch says 
Where have you traveled ? 

The Docter says 

I have traveled from my Old Grandmother's Fireside, to 
her Bread and Cheese Cupboard Door, And there had a 
many a rare piece of Bread and Cheese. 

The old Witch says. 
Try your skill, Docter. 

The Docter says 

I will feel of this Man's Pulse. Very bad, Very bad 
indeed ! take a little of this Medicine. 

This man his not Dead but in a Trance. 
Arise, my Lad and take a Dance ! 

[Foole rises'] 

THE FINISHING SONG 

(Fool) 

Come write me down the power above, 
That first created A man to Love. 
I have a Diamond in my eye, 
Where all my Joy and comfort ly. 

I'l give you Gold, I'l give you Pearl, 
If you can Fancy me, my Girl. 
Rich Costley Robes you shall wear, 
If you can Fancy me, my Dear. 

(Lady} 

Its not your Gold shall me entice 
Leave of Virtue to follow your advice ; 
I do never intend at all 
Not to be at any Young Man's call. 



THE PLOUGH PLAY 97 

(Foot) 

Go away, you Proud and scornful Dame ! 
If you had been true, I should of been the same. 
I make no dought but I can find 
As handsome a fair one too my mind. 

(Lady?) 

O stay, Young Man, you seem in haste, 
Or are you afraid your time should waste ? 
Let reson rule your roving mind, 
And perhaps in time she'l proof more kind. 

(Fool) 

Now all my sorrows is comd and past, 
Joy and comfort I have found at last. 
The Girl that use to say me nay, 
She comforts me both Night and Day. 

[Foole and lady and Doctor dances."] 
[Fools part] 

[I am come to invite you all to my wife's weding ; what 
you like best you must bring on with you. How should 
I no what every body likes ? Some likes fish, others likes 
flesh, but as for myself I like some good pottaty gruel, so 
what you like the best you must bring on with you. 

Lady and fool Sings. 
We will have a jovel weding, the fiddle shall merrily play. 

ri forlaurel laddy ri forlaurel lay. 
We'll have long taild porage, a puding of barley meal. 

ri forlaurel laddy ri forlaurel lay. 
We'll have a good salt hering and relish a quart of ale. 

ri forlaurel laddy ri forlaurel lay. 

We'll have a lim of a lark and We'll have a louse to roast. 
We'll have a farthing loaf and cut a good thumping toast. 

ri forlaurel laddy ri forlaurel lay. 
We'll have a jovel weding, the fiddle shall merrily play. 

4024 O 



9 8 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

St. George and the Eldest son and the farmer man Sing 

this song. 

Good master and good mistres, now our fool is gone, 
We will make it our busness to follow him along, 
We thank you for sobillity as you have shown us here, 
So I wish you all your healths and a hapy new year.] 

A very similar text, so far as the main substance 
is concerned, comes from Broughton. But here the 
Combat and Cure are missing, and the sentimental 
theme of The Poors Wooing stands by itself. And to 
it is prefixed a rather surprising passage. The Fool's 
presentation ends: 

My name is noble Anthony, 
I'm as live and as blyth and mad 
And as melancholy as that mantletree. 
Make room for noble Anthony 
And all his Jovial Company. 

Then follows a very incoherent dialogue between 
the Fool and one of the lovers, which has been shown 
by Professor Baskervill to be a perversion of the 
Induction to the play of Wily Beguiled, printed in 
1606. This also gives the 'mantletree', but not the 
name Anthony, although a player is addressed as 
'noble Cerberus'. It might, I suppose, be the name of 
an actual player, or it might be from Julius Caesar, 
in which Shakespeare's habitual fondness for the 
word 'noble' is very marked. 1 

Shorter fragments from Wily Beguiled also intro- 
duce a third play from Professor Baskervill's manu- 

1 J.C. iii. 2. 69, 'Noble Antony, go up'; Antony has the epithet also 
in iii. 2. 121, 170, 211, 239. 



THE PLOUGH PLAY 99 

script, the precise locality of which is not specified. 
But here that part of the sentimental theme, which 
precedes the Fool's own wooing, is altered. The 
text is headed Recruiting Sergent, which recalls the 
'Twing Twang' bits in the south-coast plays, al- 
though here the recruiting is for military, not naval, 
service. The Bassingham string of rejected suitors is 
only represented by the Old Man, who is brought 
in awkwardly. And the main theme is furnished by 
a young man who laments the falsehood of his lady, 
and when she finally scorns him as a 'looby', yields 
to the blandishment of the Serjeant, and enlists. 
It is the Recruiting Serjeant, rather than what may 
be suspected to be the earlier type of the wooing 
theme, which has left its traces, often faint enough, 
in all the other examples of the Plough Play known 
to me. A little further summary of the features of 
the group as a whole is desirable, in order to clarify 
their relation to the normal Mummers' Play. The 
Presenter, when named, is always the Fool, Tom 
Fool, Bold Tom, Clown, or Merryman. In the boys' 
version at Bassingham he has the familiar Big Head 
lines. Father Christmas is unknown. The Presenta- 
tion formula generally includes the introduction of 
the company of whom some can dance (or whistle) 
and some can sing, which is one of the less usual 
Mummers' variants. There are occasionally sub- 
Presenters or intervenes, a Music Jack, a Farmer's 
Boy, a Threshing Blade, a Hopper Joe, who also 
calls himself 'Sanky Benny', which suggests St. 



ioo THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Benedict, although his day, 2 1 March, is not particu- 
larly marked in English folk-custom. More interest- 
ing is the appearance, at Somerby and Hibaldstow and 
elsewhere, of one or more Hobby Horses. At Somerby 
they bring the Plough with them. The entrance of 
the Recruiting Serjeant is generally followed by 
some chaff with the Fool about their respective powers 
of dancing and singing. The lovers are sometimes 
called in the stage-directions Ribboners, presumably 
from their costume. There are normally two female 
characters, the Lady and the Old Woman, for the 
fitful one woman of the Mummers' Plays. But the 
Lady is proper to the wooing theme. She seems to 
have been known in Lincolnshire as 'Sweet Sis', 
although the name does not occur in the normal 
texts. 1 At Swinderby she is 'bucksome Nell' and the 
Old Woman is replaced by 'bucksome Jones', but 
Professor Baskervill points out that these have come 
in from the ballad of Young Roger of the Mill. I may 
add that in 1781 Parson James Woodforde saw at the 
Norwich theatre an 'interlude' of Buxom Joan or the 
Farmer's "Journey to London. 2 The other plays of the 
group have almost invariably an Old Woman, as Jane, 
Old Jane, Dame Jane, Lame Jane, Lady Jane. She 
has 'a neck as long as a crane', and goes 'dabbling', 
'dib dub', 'rambling', 'tripping', 'leaping' over the 
meadows. 3 Generally she offers the Fool a bastard, 

1 County Folk-Lore, v. 175. 2 Diary (ed. J. Beresford), i. 308. 

3 The crane proper was at one time known in England but is now 
extinct. The name is sometimes given to the heron (Swainson, Provincial 
Names of Birds, 145). 



THE PLOUGH PLAY 101 

which may be represented by a doll. Her interven- 
tion is awkwardly placed at Bassingham and else- 
where, since the Fool's own wooing has not yet 
begun. In one version it comes more naturally after 
the invitation to the wedding. Where the bastard 
theme is omitted, Jane may appear in the Presenta- 
tion or the Quete or before the wedding, and sweep, 
like the woman of the Mummers' Play, and then 
she may bear the second name of Besom Betty. 
At Swinderby Young Roger of the Mill also furnishes 
a variant of the rejection of a Husbandman by the 
Lady, with a dialogue different from that of Bassing- 
ham; and a rival, who does not appear, is spoken of, 
not as a 'father's eldest son', but as 'a farmer's son'. 1 
The Broughton and Swinderby plays have no 
Combat, although at Broughton, as at Bassingham, 
the Fool boasts his valour to Jane. And here Jane 
replies, somewhat ambiguously, of his victims: 

I have a sheep skin 
To lap them in. 

Elsewhere a Combat is abruptly introduced, often 
between the wooing and the wedding. There is 
much heterogeneity in the choice of combatants. 
George himself only appears at Bassingham, at 
Kirton-in-Lindsey, and probably in the Recruiting 
Serjeant, although here he is only called ' Second 
Ribboner'. At Bassingham the Fool is the Agonist, 
and this is the only case in which there is any logical 
link with the wooing theme, in that in the boys' 
* Cf. pp. 23, 232. 



102 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

text the Lady is the lamenter. The substitution of 
Jane, here called c the Old Witch', in the men's 
text is probably a perversion. At Kirton the Serjeant 
is the Agonist, but in the Recruiting Serjeant he is the 
Antagonist. And this is his normal role. For Agonists 
he has at Kirmington, Somerby, and probably 
Hibaldstow a suddenly emerging Indian King, who 
is also called 'Slasher 5 and 'Slaughter'; at Clay worth and 
in an unlocated play 'Old Eesum Squeezum' or 'Esem 
Esquesem'; and in the latter perhaps also the Recruit. 
In both cases Eesum Squeezum carries a besom and 
pan, and he is in fact none other than our old friend 
Beelzebub. Under his own name Beelzebub appears 
at Axholme, Bulby, and Cropwell, but here he is 
Antagonist, while Dame Jane is pressed into the 
service for an Agonist. This of course recalls the 
woman Agonist of the Dorsetshire afterpiece. Finally, 
in another unlocated version, the Fool is said to have 
been, not Agonist, but Antagonist. It is, I think, 
clear that, in spite of its sentimental setting, and in 
spite of the rarity of St. George, the Combat of the 
Plough Plays is essentially the same as that of the 
Mummers' Plays. The 'iron and steel' vaunt recurs, 
in Jane's mouth, and even such a comparatively late 
perversion as the mincing for Jamaica. So, too, in 
the Lament we get: 

O Belze, O Belze, what hast thou done ? 
Thou killed the finest young woman under the sun ; 
or, 

Killed poor old dame Jane, and lamed her son. 



THE PLOUGH PLAY 103 

And, as in the Mummers' Play, the Combat is followed 
by a Cure. It is on familiar lines, although with 
some slight peculiarities of its own. More regularly 
than in the Mummers' Play, the Doctor's travels 
include that to the cupboard; and I do not think I 
have noted in the Mummers' Play a persistent jest 
by which the Doctor feels for his patient's pulse in 
the wrong place, the stomach, the ankle, 'the back 
of the neck underneath the elbow'. He has a donkey 
at the door at Bulby and a pony at Clayworth. Jack 
Finney does not appear. 

The Fool's invitation to the wedding occurs at 
Bassingham, Broughton, Swinderby, Somerby, 
Kirmington and elsewhere in Lincolnshire. Professor 
Baskervill has traced its origin to the early eighteenth- 
century song of The Blythesome Wedding^ but it is 
developed with characteristic rustic humour as to 
the nature of the dishes to be provided. At Bassing- 
ham the quete song is part of the Presentation; it 
resembles songs used in many quetes of the winter 
season from All Souls' Day onwards. More often 
it or something similar follows the performance. 
Broughton, Somerby, and Clayworth have variants 
of a special quatrain: 

We are not the London Actors, 

That act upon the stage; 
We are the country plough lads, 

That ploughs for little wage. 

At Kirmington the Fool says, 'Sing about lads 
while I draw stakes'; and at Broughton, 'Hedge 



104 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

about, boys, and I'll knock down stakes', to which 
the Ancient Man replies, 'And I'll help to bind'. 
The phrase recalls the request for 'a stick and a stake' 
for the bonfire on 5 November. 1 There may be a 
blessing on the house, and the performers nearly 
always end by saying that they must go, 'now our 
Fool is gone'. 

The wooing dialogues in the Plough Plays make 
a good deal of use of language which is also found 
elsewhere. Professor Baskervill notes that the 'finish- 
ing song' of Bassingham is an independent folk-song 
in Sussex, and that the phrase 'Is she not like a 
diamant in thy eye?' is as old as the sixteenth-century 
play of Misogonus. Similarly he finds the offer by 
one suitor or another of 'gold and silver' to the lady 
and her preference for 'a nice young man', which 
runs through the Plough Plays, in the Lincolnshire 
dialogue of The Handsom y Woman. 2 It is echoed in 
the children's game of Lady on the Mountain. 3 

The Revesby Play. 

One Lincolnshire Plough Play is so divergent 
from the rest that it will be well, in spite of its length, 
to give it in full. It is from Revesby, and its text 
of 20 October 1779 antedates that of Bassingham 
by nearly half a century, and is the oldest version of 
any actual village play which we possess. 

1 Northall, 245. 

2 Modern Philology, xxi. 237, 245. 

3 Gomme, Traditional Games, i. 320. 



THE REVESBY PLAY 105 

THE PLOW BOYS, Or MORRIS DANCERS 

Enter Fool. 

You gentle Lords of honour, 

Of high and low, I say, 
We all desire your favour 

For to see our pleasant play. 

Our play it is the best, kind sirs, 

That you would like to know ; 
And we will do our best, sirs, 

And think it well bestowd. 

Tho' some of us be little, 

And some of a middle sort, 
We all desire your favour 

To see our pleasant sport. 

You must not look on our actions, 

Our wits they are all to seek, 
So I pray take no exceptions 

At what I am a-going to speak. 

We are come over the mire and moss ; 
We dance an Hobby Horse ; 
A Dragon you shall see, 
And a wild Worm for to flee. 
Still we are all brave, jovial boys 
And takes delight in Christmas toys. 

We are come both for bread and beer, 

And hope for better cheer 

And something out of your purse, sir, 

Which I hope you will be never the worse, sir. 

Still we are all brave, jovial boys 

And takes delight in Christmas toys. 

Come now, Mr. Musick Man, play me my delight. 



4024 



106 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Fidler. What is that, old father ? 

Fool. Ah! boy, times is hard! I love to have money in 

both pockets. 

Fid. You shall have it, old father. 
Fool. Let me see it. 

The Fool then calls in his five sons: first Pickle Herring, then 
Blue Britches, then Ginger Britches, Pepper Britches, 
and last calls out: 

Come now, you Mr. Allspice ! 

They foot it once round the room, and the man that is to ride 
the Hobby Horse goes out, and the rest sing the following 
song: 

Come in, come in, thou Hobby Horse, 

And bring thy old fool at thy arse ! 

Sing tanter[a]day, sing tanter[a]day, 

Sing heigh down, down, with a deny down a ! 

Then The Fool and the Horse fights about the room, whilst 
the following song is singing by the rest: 

Come in, come in, thou bonny wild Worm! 
For thou hast ta'en many a lucky turn. 
Sing tanteraday, sing tanteraday, 
Sing heigh down, down, with a derry down ! 

The wild Worm is only sprung three or four times, as the 
man walks round the room, and then goes out, and the 
Horse and The Fool fights again, whilst the following 
song is sung: 

Come in, come in, thou Dragon stout, 
And take thy compass round about ! 
Sing tanteraday, sing tanteraday, 
Sing heigh down, down, with a derry down ! 



THE REVESBY PLAY 107 

Now you shall see a full fair fight 
Between our old Fool and his right. 
Sing tanteraday, sing tanteraday, 
Sing heigh down, down, with a derry down ! 

Now our scrimage is almost done; 

Then you shall see more sport soon. 

Sing tanteraday, sing tanteraday, 

Sing heigh down, down, with a derry down ! 

Fool. Up well hark, and up well hind ! 
Let every man then to his own kind. 
Sing tanteraday, sing tanteraday, 
Sing heigh down, down, with a derry down ! 

Come, follow me, merry men all ! 
Tho' we have made bold for to call, 
It is only once by the year 
That we are so merry here. 
Still we are all brave, jovial boys, 
And takes delight in Christmas toys. 

Then they all foot it round the room and follows The Fool out. 
They all re-enter > and lock their swords to make the glass^ 
The Fool running about the room. 

Pickle Herring. What is the matter now, father? 

Fool. Why, I tell the[e] what, Pickle Herring. As a I was 
a-looking round about me through my wooden spec- 
tacles made of a great, huge, little tiney bit of leather, 
placed right behind me, even before me, I thought I saw 
a feat thing 

P. H. You thought you saw a feat thing ? What might 
this feat thing be, think you, father ? 

Fool. How can I tell, boy, except I see it again ? 

P. H. Would you know it if you see it again ? 

Fool. I cannot tell thee, boy. Let me get it looked at. 



108 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Pickle Herring, holding up the glass, says: 
[P.//.] Is this it, father? 

The Fool, looking round, says: 

[FoolJ] Why, I protest, Pickle Herring, the very same 
thing! But what might thou call this very pretty thing? 

P. H. What might you call it ? You are older than I am. 

Fool. How can that be, boy, when I was born before you ? 

P. H. That is the reason that makes you older. 

Fool. Well, what dost thou call this very pretty thing ? 

P. H. Why, I call it a fine large looking-glass. 

Fool. Let me see what I can see in this fine large looking- 
glass. Here's a hole through it, I see. I see, and I see! 

P. H. You see and you see ? and what do you see ? 

Fool. Marry, e'en a fool, just like the[e] ! 

P. H. It is only your own face in the glass. 

Fool. Why, a fool may be mistain sometimes, Pickle Her- 
ring. But what might this fine large looking-glass cost 
the[c]? 

P. H. That fine large looking-glass cost me a guinea. 

Fool. A guinea, boy ? Why, I could have bought as good 
a one at my own door for three half-pence. 

P. H. Why, fools and cuckolds has always the best luck ! 

Fool. That is as much to say thy father is one. 

P. H. Why, you pass for one ! 

The Fool, keeping the glass all the while in his hands, says: 

Fool. Why was thou such a ninnie, boy, to go to ware a 
guinea to look for thy beauty where it never was ? But I 
will shew thee, boy, how foolish thou hast wared a deal 
of good money. 

Then The Fool flings the glass upon the floor, jumps upon it; 
then the dancers every one drawing out his own sword, 
and The Fool dancing about the room, Pickle Herring 
takes him by the collar and says: 



THE REVESBY PLAY 109 

P. H. Father, father, you are so merrylly disposed this 

good time there is no talking to you ! Here is very bad 

news. 
Fool. Very good news ? I am glad to hear it ; I do not hear 

good news every day. 
P. H. It is very bad news ! 
Fool. Why, what is the matter now, boy ? 
P. H. We have all concluded to cut off your head. 
Fool. Be mercyfull to me, a sinner ! If you should do as 

you have said, there is no such thing. I would not lose 

my son Pickle Herring for fifty pounds. 
P. H. It is your son Pickle Herring that must lose you. 

It is your head we desire to take off. 
Fool. My head ? I never had my head taken off in all my 

life! 

P. H. You both must and shall. 
Fool. Hold, hold, boy ! thou seem'st to be in good earnest ; 

but I'll tell thee where I'll be buryed. 
P. H. Why, where will you be buried but in the church- 
yard, where other people are buried ? 
Fool. Churchyard ? I never was buried there in all my life ! 
P. H. Why, where will you be buried ? 
Fool. Ah! boy, I am often dry; I will be buried in Mr. 

Mirfin's ale-celler. 
P. H. It is such a place as I never heard talk off in all my 

life. 

Fool. No, nor nobody else, boy. 
P. H. What is your fancy to be buried there ? 
Fool. Ah! boy, I am oftens dry, and, when they come to 

fill the quart, I'll drink it off, and they will wonder what 

is the matter. 
P. H. How can you do so when you will be dead ? We 

shall take your head from your body, and you will be 

dead. 



no THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Fool. If I must die, I will dye with my face to the light, for 
all you! 

Then The Fool, kneeling down, with the swords round his 
neck, says: 

Fool. Now, gentlemen, you see how ungratefull my chil- 
dren is grown! When I had them all at home, small, 
about as big as I am, I put them out to good learning : 
I put them to Coxcomb Colledge, and then to the Uni- 
versity of Loggerheads ; and I took them home again 
this good time of Christmas, and I examined them all 
one by one, altogether for shortness. And now they 
are grown so proud and so presumptious they are a- 
going to kill their old father for his little means. So I 
must dye for all this ? 
P. H. You must dye, father. 

Fool. And I will die for all the tother. But I have a little 
something, I will give it amongst you as far as it goes, 
and then I shall dye quietly. 
P. H. I hope you will. 
Fool. So, to my first son, Pickle Herring, 

I'll give him the roaned nag, 

And that will make the rogue brag. 
And to my second son, 

I'll give him the brindled cow. 
And to my third son, 

I'll give him the sanded sow; 

And hope I shall please you all enow. 
And to my fourth son, 

I'll give him the great ruff dog, 

For he always lives like a hog. 
And to my fifth son, 

I'll give him the ram, 

And I'll dye like a lamb. 



THE REVESBY PLAY in 

Then they draw their swords, and The Fool falls on the 
floor, and the dancers walk once round The Fool; and 
Pickle Herring stamps with his foot and The Fool rises 
on his knees again; and Pickle Herring says: 

P. H. How now, father ? 

Fool. How now, then, boy? I have another squeak for 

my life ? 
P. H. You have a many. 

Then, the dancers pitting their swords round the Fool's neck 

again. 

Fool. So I must dye ? 
P. H. You must dye, father. 

Fool. Hold! I have yet a little something more to leave 
amongst you, and then I hope I shall dye quietly. So 
to my first son, Pickle Herring, 

I'll give him my cap and my coat, 
A very good sute, boy. 
And to my second son, 

I'll give him my purse and apparel, 
But be sure, boys, you do not quarrel. 

As to my other three, 

My executors they shall be. 

Then, Pickle Herring puting his hand to his sword, 

Fool. Hold, hold, boy ! Now I submit my soul to God. 

P. H. A very good thought, old father ! 

Fool. Mareham churchyard, I hope, shall have my bones. 

Then the dancers walk round The Fool with their swords in 
their hands, and Pickle Herring stamps with his foot and 
says: 

[P.H.-] Heigh, old father! 

Fool. Why, boy, since I have been out of this troublesome 
world I have heard so much musick of fiddles playing 
and bells ringing that I have a great fancy to go away 



H2 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

singing. So, prithee, Pickle Herring, let me have one 

of thy best songs. 

P. H. You shall have it, old father. 
FooL Let me see it. 

They sing. 

Good people all, I pray you now behold, 
Our old Fool's bracelet is not made of gold, 
But it is made of iron and good steel, 
And unto death we'll make this old Fool yield. 

FooL I pray, forbear, my children small ; 

For, as I am lost as parent to you all, 

O, let me live a while your sport for to advance, 

That I may rise again and with you have a dance. 

The Sons sing. 

Now, old father, that you know our will, 
That for your estate we do your body kill, 
Soon after death the bell for you shall toll, 
And wish the Lord he may receive your soul. 

Then The Fool falls down, and the dancers^ with their 
swords in their hands, sings the following song. 

Good people all, you see what we have done : 
We have cut down our father like ye evening sun, 
And here he lies all in his purple gore, 
And we are afraid he never will dance more. 

Fool rises from the floor and says: 

[Fool.'] No, no, my children! by chance you are all mis- 

taen! 

For here I find myself, I am not slain ; 
But I will rise, your sport then to advance, 
And with you all, brave boys, Til have a dance. 

Then the Foreman and Cicely dances down and the other 
two couple stand their ground. After a short dance called 



THE REVESBY PLAY 113 

'Jack, the brisk young "Drummer* they all go out but 
The Fool, Fidler, and Cicely. 

Fool. Hear you, do you please to hear the sport of a fool ? 

Cicely. A fool ? for why ? 

Fool. Because I can neither leap, skip, nor dance, but cut 

a caper thus high. [He capers.'] Sound, music! I must 

be gon; the Lord of Pool draws nigh. 

Enter Pickle Herring. 

P. H. I am the Lord of Pool, 

And here begins my measure, 
And after me a fool, 

To dance a while for pleasure 
In Cupid's school. 
Fool. A fool, a fool, a fool, 

A fool I heard thou say, 

But more the other way, 
For here I have a tool 

Will make a maid to play, 
Although in Cupid's school. 

Come all away! 

Enter Blue Britches. 

Blue B. I am the Knight of Lee, 

And here I have a dagger, 
Offended not to be. 

Come in, thou needy beggar, 
And follow me ! 

Enter Ginger Britches. 

Ginger B. Behold, behold, behold 

A man of poor estate ! 
Not one penny to infold ! 

Enter Pepper Britches. 
Pepper B. My money is out at use, or else I would. 



4024 



H4 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Enter Mr. Allspice. 

Allspice. With a hack, a hack, a hack, 
See how I will skip and dance 

For joys that we have found ! 
Let each man take his chance, 

And we will all dance around. 

Then they dance the sword dance which is called 'Nelly s 
Gig*; then they run under their swords, which is called 
'Runing Battle y ; then three dancers dances with three 
swords^ and the Foreman jumping over the swords; then 
The Fool goes up to Cicely. 
Fool. Here comes I that never come yet, 

Since last time, lovy! 
I have a great head but little wit. 
Tho' my head be great and my wits be small, 
I can play the fool for a while as well as [the] best of ye all. 
My name is noble Anthony; 
I am as meloncholly as a mantle-tree. 
I am come to show you a little sport and activity, 

And soon, too ! 

Make room for noble Anthony 
And all his good company! 
Drive out all these proud rogues, and let my lady and I 

have a parl ! 

Cicely. O, ye clown ! what makes you drive out my men so 
soon ? 

Fool. O, pardon, madam, pardon! and I 

Will never offend you more. 
I will make your men come in as fast 
As ever they did before. 

Cicely. I pray you at my sight, 

And drive it not till night, 
That I may see them dance once more 

So lovely in my sight, 



THE REVESBY PLAY 115 

Fool. A-faith, madam, and so I will! 

I will play the man 
And make them come in 

As fast as ever I can. 

But hold, gip ! Mrs. Clagars, 

How do you sell geese ? 
Cicely. Go, look, Mister Midgecock! 

Twelve pence apiece. 

Fool. Oh, the pretty pardon ! 

Cicely. A gip for a frown ! 
Fool. An ale-wife for an apparitor ! 

Cicely. A rope for a clown ! 
Fool. Why, all the devise in the country 

Cannot pull this down ! 

I am a valiant knight just come from the seas : 

You do know me, do you ? 

I can kill you ten thousand, tho' they be but fleas. 
I can kill you a man for an ounce of mustard, 
Or I can kill you ten thousand for a good custard. 
I have an old sheep skin, 
And I lap it well in, 

Sword and buckler by my side, all ready for to fight ! 
Come forth, you whores and gluttons all ! for, had it not 
been in this country, I should not have she wen my valour 
amongst you. But sound, music ! for I must be gone. 

\Exit Fool.'] 
Enter Pickle Herring. 

P. H. In first and formost do I come, 

All for to lead this race, 
Seeking the country far and near 

So fair a lady to embrace. 



n6 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

So fair a lady did I never see, 

So comely in my sight, 
Drest in her gaudy gold 

And silver shining bright. 

She has fingers long, and rings 

Of honor of beaten gold : 

My masters all, behold ! 
It is now for some pretty dancing time, 
And we will foot it fine. 

Blue B. I am a youth of jollitree; 
Where is there one like unto me ? 
My hair is bush'd very thick; 
My body is like an hasel stick ; 

My legs they quaver like an eel ; 
My arms become my body weel ; 
My fingers they are long and small : 
Am not I a jolly youth, proper and tall ? 

Therefore, Mister Musick Man, 
Whatsoever may be my chance, 

It is for my ladie's love and mine, 
Strike up the morris dance. 

Then they foot it once round. 

Ginger B. I am a jolly young man of flesh, blood and 

bone; 
Give eare, my masters all, each one ! 

And especially you, my lady dear, 

I hope you like me well. 
Of all the gallants here 

It is I that doth so well. 



THE REVESBY PLAY 117 

Therefore, Mister Musick Man, 

Whatsoever may be my chance, 
It is for my ladie's love and mine, 

Strike up the morris dance. 

Then they foot it round. 

Pepper B. I am my father's eldest son, 

And heir of all his land, 
And in a short time, I hope, 

It will fall into my hands. 

I was brought up at Lindsey Court 

All the days of my life. 
Here stands a fair lady, 

I wish she was my wife. 

I love her at my heart, 

And from her I will never start. 
Therefore, Mr. Musick Man, play up my part. 
Fool (rushing in). And mine, too ! 

Enter Allspice, and they foot it round. Pickle Herring, 
suter to Cicely, takes her by the hand, and walks about the 
room. 

P. H. Sweet Ciss, if thou wilt be my love, 

A thousand pounds I will give thee. 
Cicely. No, you're too old, sir, and I am too young, 

And alas ! old man, that must not be. 

P. H. I'll buy the[e] a gown of violet blue, 

A petticoat imbroidered to thy knee; 
Likewise my love to thee shall be true. 

Cicely. But alas ! old man, that must not be. 

P. H. Thou shalt walk at thy pleasure, love, all the day, 
If at night thou wilt but come home to me; 

And in my house bear all the sway. 

Cicely. Your children they'll find fault with me. 



n8 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

P. H. I'll turn my children out of doors. 

Cicely. And so, I fear, you will do me. 
P. H. Nay, then, sweet Ciss, ne'er trust me more, 

For I never loved lass before like the[e]. 

Enter Fool. 

Fool. No, nor behind, neither. 
Well met, sweet Cis, well over-ta'en ! 

Cicely. You are kindly wellcome, sir, to me. 
Fool. I'll wipe my eyes, and I'll look again! 

Methinks, sweet Cis, I now the[e] see ! 

Cicely. Raf, what has thou to pleasure me ? 

Fool. Why, this, my dear, I will give the[e], 
And all I have it shall be thine. 

Cicely. Kind sir, I thank you heartelly. 

P. H. (to The Fool). Stand back, stand back, thou silly 

old swain! 

This girl shall go with none but me. 
Fool. I will not ! 
P. H. Stand back, stand back, or I'll cleave thy brain! 

Then Pickle Herring goes up to Cis, and says: 
O, now, sweet Cis, I am come to thee! 

Cicely. You are as wellcome as the rest, 

Wherein you brag so lustilly. 
Fool. For a thousand pounds she loves me best ! 

I can see by the twinkling of her ee. 

P. H. I have store of gold, whereon I boast; 

Likewise my sword, love, shall fight for the[e] ; 
When all is done, love, I'll scour the coast, 

And bring in gold for thee and me. 



THE REVESBY PLAY 119 

Cicely. Your gold may gain as good as I, 

But by no means it shall tempt me; 
For youthfull years and frozen age 

Cannot in any wise agree. 

Then Blue Britches goes up to her, and says: 

[Blue 5.] Sweet mistress, be advised by me: 

Do not let this old man be denyed, 
But love him for his gold in store ; 

Himself may serve for a cloak, beside. 

Cicely. Yes, sir, but you are not in the right. 

Stand back and do not council me ! 
For I love a lad that will make me laugh 

In a secret place, to pleasure me. 
Fool. Good wench ! 

Pickle Herring. Love, I have a beard as white as milk. 

Cicely. Ne'er better for that, thou silly old man ! 
P. H. Besides, my skin, love, is soft as silk. 

Fool. And thy face shines like a dripping pan. 

P. H. Rafe, what has thou to pleasure her ? 

Fool. Why a great deal more, boy, than there's in 

the[e]. 
P. H. Nay then, old rogue, I thee defye. 

Cicely. I pray, dear friends, fall not out for me ! 

P. H. Once I could skip, leap, dance, and sing; 

Why will you not give place to me ? 
Fool. Nay, then, old rogue, I thee defye; 

For thy nose stands like a Maypole tree. 

Then goes up Ginger Britches to Cisley and says: 

[Ginger B.~] Sweet mistress, mind what this man doth say, 

For he speaks nothing but the truth : 
Look on the soldier, now I pray; 

See, is not he a handsome youth ? 



120 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Cicely. Sir, I am engaged to one I love, 

And ever constant I will be, 
There is nothing that I prize above. 

P. H. For a thousand pounds, she 's gone -from me ! 
Fool. Thou may lay two ! 

Cicely, (to Pickle Herring). Old father, for your reverend 
years, 

Stand you the next man unto me ; 
Then he that doth the weapon bear; 

For I will have the hind man of the three ! 

Fool, (to Pickle Herring). Old father, a fig for your old 
gold! 

The soldier, he shall bear no sway ! 
But you shall see, and so shall we, 

'Tis I that carries the lass away ! 

Then the dancers takes hold of their swords , and foots it 
round the room; then every man makes his obeisance to the 
master of the house, and the whole concludes. 

FINIS. 

The special interest of this text is that it links the 
Mummers' Plays, the Plough Plays, the Sword 
Dances of the north, and even, in its heading, the 
Morris Dances. It has the Evening sun', 'big head' 
and 'iron and steel' formulas, which are common in 
the Mummers' Plays. The last of these takes a 
curious form in the lines : 

Our old Fool's bracelet is not made of gold, 
But it is made of iron and good steel. 

From the Mummers' Play it has also the 'sword and 



THE REVESBY PLAY 121 

buckler by my side', and still more notably, the 
Dragon. He may be also the Wild Worm, since 
as the text stands, although it is clear that a Wild 
Worm enters, it is not so clear that a distinct Dragon 
does. After the Presentation, which, as in other 
Plough Plays, is by the Fool, the action falls 
into three parts. The first is a combat between the 
Fool and a Hobby Horse, in the midst of which 
enters and departs the Wild Worm or Dragon, who 
is 'sprung'. The fighting seems to resolve itself into a 
dance, and there is no death. The second part is even 
more clearly a dance. Here, after the curious episode, 
in which the Fool sees his face in a looking-glass 
formed by the linked swords, he makes his will, is 
killed by his sons, and rises again, without the help 
of a Doctor. The third part is a Poors Wooing^ of the 
Bassingham and Broughton and not the Recruiting 
Serjeant type, but much elaborated. The lady is here 
Cicely or 'Sweet CisV The rejected suitors are Rafe 
the Fool's own sons. He has five: Pickle Herring, 
Blue Breeches, Ginger Breeches, Pepper Breeches, 
and Mr. Allspice. But Pickle Herring is also the 
Lord of Pool and Blue Breeches the Knight of Lee. 
Apparently they were once all suitors. But the woo- 
ings of Allspice and Pepper Breeches, the 'eldest son', 
dies out, and at the end only Ginger Breeches and 
Pickle Herring are the Fool's rivals. Pickle Herring 
is a stage figure. In Marlowe's Dr. Faustus Gluttony 
claims Peter Pickle-Herring as one of his god-fathers. 2 

1 Cf. p. ioo. 2 Dr. Faustus, ii. 2. 153. 

4024 R 



122 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

The English clown actor, Robert Reynolds ( 1 6 1 6- 
26), took the name as his sobriquet in Germany, 
and possibly in England also. 1 There is no Dame 
Jane at Revesby, but the Poors 'mustard and 
custard' vaunt is here, as at Bassingham and Brough- 
ton, and it is now he who says: 

I have an old sheepskin, 
And I lap it well in. 

Like Bassingham and Broughton, too, Revesby has 
the 'noble Anthony', who is 'melancholy as a mantle- 
tree', of Wily Beguiled. And there are other bits of 
identical dialogue. One of these is of great antiquity. 

I am my father's eldest son. 
And heir of all his land, 
And in a short time, I hope, 
It will fall into my hands. 

Professor Baskervill finds this in The Enter iude of 
Youth, a morality of the first half of the sixteenth 
century. 2 

By the masse I reck not a chery 
What so ever I do 
I am the heyre of my fathers lande 
And it is come into my hande 
I care for no more. 

But the old sense of 'and' as 'if has fallen into 
oblivion. From lines which immediately precede in 

1 Mediaeval Stage, i. 208; Elizabethan Stage, ii. 285, 336. 

2 Modern Philology, xxi. 232. Youth is reprinted in Hazlitt-Dodsley, 
ii. The lines quoted are 39-58. 



THE SWORD DANCE 123 

Youth, Revesby, although not the other Plough 
Plays, has a second borrowing. Youth says : 

My name is youth I tell the 

I florysh as the vine tre 

Who may be likened vnto me 

In my youthe and lolitye 

My hearre is royall and bushed thicke 

My body plyaunt as a hasel styck 

Myne armes be bothe fayre and strong 

My fingers be both faire and longe. 

And Blue Breeches : 

I am a youth of jollitree; 
Where is there one like unto me ? 
My hair is bush'd very thick ; 
My body is like an hasel stick, 

My legs they quaver like an eel; 
My arms become my body weel ; 
My fingers they are long and small : 
Am not I a jolly youth, proper and tall ? 

The Revesby text is so free, comparatively, from 
verbal and metrical irregularities, that I think it 
must have passed through literary hands. But the 
confusions as to the Wild Worm and the Dragon and 
the wooers suggest that there has been some depar- 
ture from the original structure. 

The Sword Dance. 

From Revesby I pass to the Sword Dances of 
the north. 1 These survive mainly in Yorkshire, 

1 Mediaeval Stage, i. 1 82 ; C. F. L. ii. 2 3 1 ; C. J. Sharp, Sword Dance* 



124 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Durham, and Northumberland, an area in which the 
Mummers' Play is also found. Sporadic examples 
have been noted in Cheshire, Derbyshire, Notting- 
hamshire, Devonshire, Hampshire, and Sussex, and as 
far north as Shetland. A few Sword Dances have long 
been on record, but the greater number have been 
recently collected by the late Cecil Sharp and his 
colleagues of the English Folk Dance Society, and 
described with an elaborate notation of steps and 
figures. The Sword Dance requires space, and is 
generally performed out of doors. It belongs to the 
Christmas season, and in a group of agricultural 
villages on the moorlands behind Whitby, where 
it once flourished greatly, to Plough Monday in 
particular. Here the performers were known as 
Plough Stots, and at Sleights and Goathland took 
a plough round with them. The Sleights costumes, 
like those of some Plough Jacks, were decorated 
with patches of cloth cut into agricultural shapes. 1 
When the dancers went to Whitby, they were pelted 
by the fisher-wives. Such conflicts between inland 
and shore dwellers are not uncommon in folk- 
custom. The Goathland company responded by 
leading a Fisherman on a hobby-donkey. There are 
other signs of a special connexion between the Sword 
Dance and the plough. Askham Richard has no 

of Northern England, i. 9; K. Meschke, Schwerttanz und Schwerttanzspiel, 
56; A. W. Johnston, The Sword Dance, Papa Stour in Viking Club, Old 
Lore Miscellany, v (1912), 175. 
1 Cf. p. 90. 



THE SWORD DANCE 125 

plough, but a banner inscribed 'God speed the 
Plough'. At Ampleforth it has become 'God Save 
the Queen'. At Bellerby there are again animal 
patches, but not apparently plough patches. But at 
Flamborough and Beadnell the performers are 
themselves fisherman, and in several places they are 
coal-miners. The dancers proper vary in number 
from five to eight. But there are supernumeraries. 
Every company has one or more Fools or Clowns. 
They are often called Toms. At Escrick one has the 
curious name Woody Garius, and another is Mr. Fox- 
tails. Woody cock is known as a tune. 1 At Bellerby one 
is Hector, and describes himself as 'the devil's own 
sister-in-law clothed in lamb's wool'. There is usually 
also a man dressed as a woman. She is Bessy, Betty, 
Besom Betty, Dirty Bet, Bridget, Madgy, Madgy 
Peg. At Escrick she is Madam Sylvester. Here and 
in Wharfedale she is the Clown's wife. Sometimes 
she sweeps. There may be a Captain or a King and 
Queen. The King is sometimes the leader of the 
actual dancers. At Sleights, where the whole com- 
pany sometimes amounted in old days to a hundred, 
with two dancing teams and many Toms, the pro- 
cession was led by three men 'like gentlemen' on 
grey horses. Skelton also had an old gentleman 
and a lady, who, quite exceptionally, was a real 
woman. The Quete may be carried out by the 
Clowns, or by special officers called Beggars. There 
may be flagbearers, and the dance is always accom- 

1 Baskervill, Elizabethan Jig, 363. 



126 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

panied by music, from a fiddle, drum, concertina, 
accordion, tin whistle, or the village band. A 
favourite tune is Tff OwdLass of Coverdill. .Shetland 
apparently had its bagpipes. The dancers are dressed 
in uniformity. Usually the basis is a white shirt or 
tunic; sometimes a coloured one. Three teams at 
Goathland used orange, pink, and blue, which were 
local political colours. At Earsdon the white shirts 
are supplemented by crimson plush jackets and 
breeches, adopted at a recent performance before 
royalty. A few places use military costume, and 
fisherman wear their blue jerseys. At Hunton small 
mirrors were placed on breast and back. The head- 
dress, if any, is usually a cap. Occasionally high 
hats are worn at first, and removed, as inconvenient 
for dancing. At Askham Richard, they are then 
replaced by wreaths. Sharp distinguishes two types 
of sword; a long sword, found in Yorkshire, and a 
short sword or 'rapper', found in Durham and 
Northumberland, and said to have been sometimes 
fitted so that it could be grasped at both ends. The 
material is normally steel or iron, but wooden sub- 
stitutes are known. The dress of the supernumeraries 
is differentiated from that of the dancers and is more 
fantastic. That of the Clowns ranges from the 
familiar ribbon or shred-covered coat to the parti- 
coloured garb of the circus. They sometimes wear 
fox-tails or bits of skin on their backs or heads, and 
at Kirkby Malzeard and Ampleforth bells on their 
backs. The Captain at Grenoside has the head and 



THE SWORD DANCE 127 

skin of a rabbit on a cloth helmet. The Askham 
Richard Clown carries a bladder on a stick, and so do 
the plough-drivers at Goathland. The Goathland 
Clowns blacken their faces, as the dancers themselves 
are said to have formerly done at Flamborough and 
Sowerby. They do still at Sleights, and add beards 
so that 'no one might know them', and for the same 
alleged reason the Toms sometimes wore large 
wooden spectacles. 

Sometimes the dance begins straight away, with- 
out a Presentation. Where there is one, it may be 
conducted by the Captain, the King, the Clown, 
the Bessy, or a dancer, or by more than one of these 
in dialogue. As in the Mummers' Play, there may 
be a promise of pastime or a call for 'room', and the 
latter gets new modifications in 'Rumble, rumble,' 
or 'A-rambling here I've corned'. There may be 
a little rustic foolery. This is a marked feature at 
Bellerby, where echoes both of the Mummers' 
Plays and of the Plough Plays occur. But the main 
feature is generally a set of 'calling-on' verses, in 
which each of the dancers is briefly named and 
characterized. Examples will be found in the 
Ampleforth text, to which I shall come. 'Calling- 
on' lines show little sign of old or consistent tradition. 
Some unity is attained in Shetland with the Seven 
Champions; at Kirkby Malzeard with Sampson and 
six Philistines; at Earsdon, in a professedly 'modern* 
version, with the sons of 'brave Elliott', of Lords 
Duncan, Nelson, and Wellington, and of Buonaparte 



128 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

himself. Elsewhere heroic personages only stray 
sporadically into a company, who normally repre- 
sent no more than social types. Such are Pitman, 
Coal Hewer, Skipper, Ship's Cook, Sailor, Jack 
Tar, Dick the Cobbler, Mr. Snip or Obadiah Trim 
the Tailor, Love-Ale the Vintner, Highland Laddie 
the Merchant, Mr. Spark, Mr. Stout, Mr. Wild, 
Trimbush a comical lad, True Blue, Foppish 
Knight, Jolly Dog, Tosspot. A Tom is not in- 
frequent; he may be Tom the Tinker, Big Wallop- 
ing Tom, King Tom, Tom the Clown's Son. Little 
Foxey, at Houghton-le-Spring, may be more signi- 
ficant. Linton in Craven has Miser, a woman, and 
Ampleforth a 'little Diana'. It does not appear that 
either was dressed like a woman. One or more 
personage is often credited with amorous tendencies. 
A Squire's son, who has lost his love, recurs at several 
places and recalls the wooing of the Plough Plays. 
At Houghton-le-Spring he is Alick. 

At Earsdon the Presentation takes a dramatic 
form. At the end of the older calling-on verses, the 
Captain says 'Now I am going to kill a bullock'. 
One thinks of the Plough Monday Bullocks. There 
is no further reference to the bullock, but promptly 
two of the dancers quarrel and fight, and one falls. 
Bessy says : 

An actor he is dead, 

And on the ground he's laid; 
We'll have to suffer for it, 

Brave boys, I'm sore afraid. 



THE SWORD DANCE 129 

A third dancer interposes : 

I'm sure it's none of me, 

And never in my time; 
It's he that followed I, 

That did this bloody crime. 

And a fourth adds : 

O now that he is dead, 

And his body it is cold, 
We'll take him to the Church yard 

And bury him in the mould. 

Then follows a short Cure, on Mummers' Play lines, 
after which Bessy calls for the dance to proceed. 
Earsdon, however, is not in this respect typical. 
There is often an element of drama in the Sword 
Dances, but in all other examples known to me it 
develops out of the dancing itself, and forms a 
wind-up to the whole performance. There is a 
persistent figure, sometimes occurring more than 
once in the course of a dance, in which each dancer 
presses the hilt of his sword under the point of his 
neighbour's, so as to mesh the swords together 
tightly and securely in a form which may be any- 
thing from a pentagon to an octagon, according 
to the number of dancers. This is called the Lock 
or Nut, which probably means Knot, and at 
Whitby the Rose. In Shetland it was the Shield. 
It is the Glass of the Revesby play. The Lock, 
when formed, is variously treated. It may be laid 
on the ground, or raised breast-high or overhead, 
by the dancers as a body, or by their leader alone. 

4024 c 



130 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

There is a clock-wise movement with or round it, 
also sometimes called the Rose. In Shetland it 
was placed in turn on the head of each dancer. This, 
no doubt, suggests a coronation. But in another 
example from the Highlands, not fully recorded, 
there was apparently no Lock. The dancers, sur- 
rounded by swordsmen, performed in pairs over 
two swords laid on the ground, and when the last 
was exhausted, his fellows made a ring round him 
with their swords pointed at his throat. 1 Here the 
implication is clearly that of a mimic death analogous 
to the killing of the Fool at Revesby. And this is 
apparent also in several of the English dances, in 
which, when a Lock has been formed, an outsider 
steps into the ring, and the Lock is placed, in one 
case on his head, but in all the others round his neck. 
Usually he is one of the supernumeraries, the 
Captain, the Queen, the Bessy, more often a Tom. 
But at Ampleforth he is a bystander in ordinary 
dress. At Flamborough it is said that in former days 
a stranger to the village was captured and held 
within the locked swords for ransom, and there is an 
old account of a Durham dance in which the inter- 
vener was, actually or by impersonation, the parish 
clergyman. In this case, the limits of a purely 
choreographic representation had clearly been passed, 
for there was the sequel of a Doctor and a Cure. 
And so it is in several of the extant dances, which 
end in something indistinguishable from a Mum- 

1 D. Kennedy, in 2 E.D.S. Journal, iii. 22. 



THE AMPLEFORTH PLAY 131 

mers' Play. It is a matter of degree. At Escrick the 
victim is the Clown called Woody Garius. After the 
Lock, the leading dancer knocks Woody's hat off 
with the tip of his sword, and he falls, as if dead, and 
rolls out of the ring. At Haxby the Clown falls, 
Besom Betty runs into the ring, revives him, and 
leads him out. It appears to be a dumb show. At 
Askham Richard a Doctor is called to the Fool and 
fails. Besom Betty then says 'A'll cure him', and 
does so by brushing his face with her broom. At 
Earsdon the dancers would sometimes, of old, 'hang 
the Betty', but now, as we have seen, a play on 
rather different lines has got into the Presentation. 
But at Bellerby, where Bessie is the victim, and at 
Sower by, where it is the Clown, there are fairly 
elaborate Cures, preceded in both cases by an episode 
of repudiation, like that at Earsdon. But the 'An actor 
he is dead' of Earsdon becomes at Sowerby 'Bold 
Hector now is dead'. Whitby once had a farce, with 
a King, Miller, Clown, and Doctor. 1 Goathland had 
an elaborate play, which lasted two hours. Most of it 
is unfortunately lost, but fragmentary recollections 
show that it included a death, not by the sword, but 
by falling from a hobby-horse, and a Cure, and a 
wooing scene. 

The Ampleforth Play. 

The Goathland play can hardly have been more 
elaborate than that of Ampleforth which, with its 

1 Mediaeval Stage, i. 192, from G. Young, Hist, of Whitby (1817), 
ii. 880. 



132 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Presentation, I will now give in full. My text 
was sent me long ago by Cecil Sharp; that in his 
Sword Dances of Northern England is a good deal 
sophisticated, but may include a few lines which he 
recovered later. 

FIRST PART 

King. Make room, make room for these jovial lads 

That are a wooing hound ;* 

For I can handle a sword 

With any man in town. 

Last night I went to see 

Miss Madam Molly; 

She was so fair and comely 

And not adorned with pride ; 

I am so deep in love with her 

Till I dont know how to bide. 

Tonight I went in to see 

Miss Susannah Parkin ; 

She was so fine and gay, 

But the dogs made such a barking 

I forgot all I had to say. 

So I pray the 2 honest Christian 

What next must I say to her ? 
Clown. Thou must give her gallant speeches, 

And honestly must woo her. 

King. Aye man, her Mother likes me well ; she has forty 
thousand pound of her own and she'll give it all to 
myself. 
Clown. I'll stand a friend right Jarvey. 

I'll stand thee friend, my lad; 

I'll stand thee friend right Jarvey. 3 

See thee my heart's full glad. 

1 bound. 2 thee. 3 joyfully. 



THE AMPLEFORTH PLAY 133 

King. And many a better thing she'll give us when we get 

wed. 
Clown. Come thee ways I'll a want 1 thee we'll get her. 

Enter Queen. 

Clown Sings. Madam, behold a lover ! 

You shall quickly see my Son. 
Queen Sings. Long time have I been waiting 

Expecting Ben would come; 

Ben 's grown a smart young fellow, 

And his face I long to see. 
Clown Sings. Here 's one that doth me follow, 

And perhaps it may be he. 

Ben how dost thou do, my lad ? 
Thou'st welcome from the seas. 

King. Thank you, father, how do you do ? 

1 am very well at ease. 
Clown. O Ben let me kiss thee 

For with joy I am fit to cry. 
King. O father I'd rather kiss 

That lady standing by. 
Clown. O Ben come shew thy breeding. 

Give to her a gentle touch 

She 's got such a face to feed upon, 

The seas could afford none such. 

She 's a sweet and modest creature, 

And she 's of a noble fame, 

She 's a sweet and modest creature, 

And Susannah is her name. 
King. Father that's well remembered. 

How is Dick and Val ? 
Clown. Did not I write last summer 

That pale death has closed his sides ? 2 

1 warrant. 2 sight. 



134 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

King. It's as true as I'm a sinner! 

I had forgotten quite. 
Clown. Then it's o my 1 will retire, 

For fear I'll spoil her sport; 

For while I'm standing by yer 

Our Ben can't frame to court. 

So, madam, don't be cruel, 

Since you're a charmer fair, 

Spare him as a jewel, 

For you'll like to be my heir. 

Exit Clown. 

King. Madam, my father has declared 

You are to be my bridge ; 2 

Or otherwise I am inclined 

To lead a single life. 

For when a man gets married 

He 's down like a galley slave 

Bachelors like sailors, 

When the liberties there air. 
Queen. O sorrow does compel you 

Against your will to wed. 

Indeed, I needs must tell you, 

You but a logger's head. 

Your cheek is none so charming 

As to kindle Cupid's fire; 

You've neither wit nor learning, 

Nor beauty to admire. 
King. (Goes up to the Queen) O, madam, do but hear me; 

I've got something more to say. 

Queen. (Gives him a prick} Don't stand so near hard by 
me; 

Stand further off, I pray! 

I have not lost my hearing, 

1 home I. 2 bride. 



THE AMPLEFORTH PLAY 135 

Nor yet I am not dumb ; 
But, in spite of all your jeering, 
I can exercise my tongue. 

King. Says thee so, thou Mistress Cheesemouth ? 
Thee might give me better words. 
Although thou's a genteel caucase, 1 
Thy face to be observed, 
Thy cheeks are like two cakes of tallow, 
Thy lips are blue all o'er, 
Thou 's tawny black and yellow, 
And forty colours more ! 

King goes up to the Queen again; she gives him a 
prick, and stamps her foot and says 

Queen. Begone, thou piece of valour! 
For thou smells of pitch and tar. 
Go hang theeself on the mainmast 
Where I shall never see thee more. 
Take along with thee my wishes 
To the bottom of the sea; 
Thou 's fitter for the fishes, 
Than a woman's company. 

Exeunt King and Queen. 

SECOND PART 

Clown. Here comes I, that never come yet, 
With great head and little wit. 
Though my head be great 
And my wit be small, 
I've six fine lads 
'11 please you all. 
My head 's made of iron, 
My heart 's made of steel, 

1 carcase. 



136 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

My hands and feet of knuckle-bone, 
I challenge thee out to feel. 

Enter King. King and Clown rattle their swords 
together. 

King. How long will this unthinking fool 
Disturb us of our private see 1 
Fair Rose thou may with boldness come 
And banish him from our company. 

Enter Queen. 

Queen. That would betray for want of skill ; 

It's good to keep two strings for one bow. 

Perhaps I might bear him as much goodwill 

As what that I might do to you. 
Clown. O that 's well answered, my dear Rose. 

I love the girl that's plain and free 

Thou may be packed in, 2 snotty nose; 

Small hopes I find there is for thee. 
King. Sure I this woman's worse than mad! 

Judge, gentlemen, as well as me 

In taking such a snotty lad, 

And despising such a spark as me. 

King straightens himself up. 

Queen. Spread your affection civilly 

And I shall tell you what I think. 

In you the small 

There 's no mistake to choose and wink. 
Clown. Pox take her! There's nowt to please her with. 

So saving thy debauchery ! 
King. I'll call thee liar to the teeth! 

I'll will at that accepted be. 

I'll make thee lies to the town estate 

The captain crown nor his estate. 

1 privacy. 2 packing. 



THE AMPLEFORTH PLAY 137 

But if I in my duty fail, 

But come to me and I'll call it my fate. 
Clown. Perhaps thou 's got some tenement, 

Some palace on some Irish shore ; 

Perhaps thou lives by three ha'pence rent; 

It's enough for thee to rent withal. 
King. Now I'm maintained by sailors' wives. 

When their husbands are out all in protence, 

While you poor eunuchs leads poor lives, 

And I am swaggering by my rents. 
Queen. My father calls, I must obey. 

Be sure you both in peace remain, 

Until you hear further what I say 

The next time we meet again. 

Exit Queen. 
King. Thou are a fool, O then say I, 

My reasons are expounded clear. 

For women may riddle, but none can tell 

By plain subtraction what they mean. 
Clown. Still greater fool than half than I ! 

If thou would know the certainty 

Of what a woman says, 

Is meant quite contrary way. 

Exit King. 
Clown. The devil go with them, for now they're gone 

And left me here behind; see if all well at home, 

Faith man ! And I'll away an all. 
Exit Clown. 

THIRD PART 

King. I'm a King and a Conqueror too, 

And here I do advance! 
Clown. I'm the clown of this noble town, 

And I've come to see thee dance. 

4024 T 



138 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

King. The clown come to see a King dance ! 

Clown. A King dance ! Ask thee good fellow ? didn't I see 

thee tending the swine 'tother day stealing swine I 

meant to say ? 
King. Now you've given offence to your Majesty, thee 

must either sing a song, or off goes your head. 

The King tries to knock him about with his sword. 

Clown. I only know a lame song. 

King. I like a lame song. 

Clown sings. How can I be merry and wise, 

And in my heart contented be ? 

When bone of my arm is out of place, 

And he mun put his nose where the bone should be. 
King. I put my nose where the bone should be ? 

You old fool! sing it over again, and sing it right. 
Clown. Til nobbut sing it again. 

Clown sings song as before but indicates another man. 

King. As you've sung that so well, you must sing us 

another. 

Clown. How can I sing another when I don't know one ? 
King. I must have one, or off goes your head. 
Clown. Let me study a minute. I've studied a love song 

about murder, my grandmother learned me seven 

years after she was dead. 
King. O I like a love song. 
Clown sings. O love it is a killing thing. 
Its both for heart and mind 
And he that doesn't come before 
He needs must come before. 
King. You old fool what difference is there between 

befour and before? Sing it over again, and sing it 

right. 
Clown. I'll nobbut sing it again. 



THE AMPLEFORTH PLAY 139 

King. Sing it over again, and sing it right, or off goes 

your head! 

Clown sings. O love it is a killing thing, 
Its both for heart and mind, 
And he that doesnt come before 
He needs must come before. 
King. What difference is there between before and 

befoure ? 

Clown. It's the way I learned it. Sing it yourself. 
King. If I sing it, see that you learn it. 
(Sings) O love it is a killing thing, 

It's both for heart and mind; 
And he that doesn't come before, 
He needs must come behind. 

King and Clown exeunt. 

FOURTH PART 

Enter King. 

King. I'm a King and a King of high renown 

I'm sorry that 1 shall be offended with that ragly fellow 
that's called a clown. 

Enter Clown. 

Clown. What needs thou be offended at me, 
And make that great, ugly, long face at me? 
If thou was hanged in yonder tree, 
I could make a far better King than thee. 

King. Going tip to Dancers who are behind the door. 

Come all ye young men and draw your swords straight, 
And take this fool clean out of my sight, 
For if I talk to him, he talk to me all night. 

Dancers rattle their swords. Exit King. 
Clown. Ye gentlemen all who in mirth take delight 
And intends our sport for to see, 



THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

I've come for to tell you that I am the Clown, 

And, pray you, how do you like me ? 

Although I am little, my strength it is great ; 

I would scorn for to tell you a lie. 

I once killed a hedgehog as big as myself 

And it made me a rare apple-pie, 

(And he made me a delicate fry). 

Now my Grandmother; one of the Bambury breed 

As big as an old gilt in her twang, 

She would serve by the tinker at peddling trade, 

If that isn't a lie I'll be hang'd. 

My father was tapsman 1 and tideman 2 three years, 

Alas he was tiled so high ; 

It was all for stealing 3 lusty grey mares. 

If that isn't true it's a lie! 

As for myself I'm a butcher so good, 

I can hit both the mark and the square; 

I can stick a young heifer and never draw blood, 

And that I can do to a hair. 

I always was jovial and always will be, 

Always at one time of the year. 

Since Adam created both oxen and plough, 

We get plenty of store and strong beer. 

So now I've told my birth, 

And the place from when I come ; 

So now I will set forth 

Our noble dancers on. 

Our dancers will appear 

In splendour by and bye. 

Gooks Bobs! I'll do them here. 3 

Dancers rattle their swords^ and keep out of sight. 
Clown. Silence! Silence! I cry. 
Our dancers will appear 

1 taxman. 2 titheman. 3 I do them hear. 



THE AMPLEFORTH PLAY 141 

In splendour, red and white, 
Goops Bobs 1 and do them see, 
They're coming in to sight. 

The King just shows himself. 

King comes in first. 

Clown. The first that come on is King Henry by name, 
He's a King and a Conqueror too; 
And with his broad sword he will make them to fall ; 
But I fear he will fight me enoo. 

King and Clown rattle swords together. 

(First verse repeated after each verse]. 

Enter No. 2. 

Clown. The next is Progallus, as some do him call, 
He 's a General to the same King ; 
And with his broad sword he will make them to fly; 
Isn't that a desperate thing? 

Enter No. 3. 

The third I shall name without any offence; 
A gentleman just come from Cork; 
He's witty and pretty in every degree, 
And amongst the girls he will sport. 

Enter No 4. 

The fourth is Hickman, a rival, 
Sticks close to his back. 
Bewitched already by beautiful lass, 
But young Cupid his ruin shall be. 

Enter No. 5. 

The fifth is Jerry he's a passionate friend, 
He follows his master indeed; 
He's been a true trudger as ever did bend, 
And I wish we'd some more of his breed. 



142 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Enter No. 6. 

There's little Diana I'd l.ike to forget, 
Whose beauty shines much like our own ; 
But if ever we do get our heads to the pot, 
We'll drink till it strikes fourteen at noon. 

Exeunt all. 

Clown. Go on, my brave heroes! 
Our valour has been tried ; 
From off the plains of Waterloo 
These six fought side by side. 
They fought against Napoleon bold, 
And made him run away; 
Sent him to St. Helena, 
And there they made him stay. 
All you pretty lasses, 
That's sitting roundabout, 
These are six handsome young lads, 
As ever was turned out. 
They'll make you loving sweethearts, 
For ever they'll be true ; 
They'll fight for you as manfully 
As they did at Waterloo. 

Enter No. i . 
The first I do call, 
He's a handsome young man, 
As ever the sun shone on ; 
He's like his brother Cupid 
Looks on the charming boy 
And when he meets with a bonny lass 
With her he loves to toy. 

Enter No. i. 

The next he is a bashful youth, 
He's brother to the moon; 



THE AMPLEFORTH PLAY 143 

But first he gets his name up 
In country and in town. 
Amongst the pretty wenches, 
He drives a roaring trade; 
And when he meets a bonny lass 
His valour is displayed. 

Enter No. 3. 

The next he is a spanking lad, 

His father is a Squire; 

For Betsy their sweet chambermaid 

He got a great desire. 

He huddled her, he cuddled her. 

Until he made her yield; 

But when the truth they came to know, 

He was forced to quit the field. 

Enter No. 4. 

The next he is a rakish youth ; 
I've heard his Mother say 
She would give him good advice 
Before he went away. 
He was never to kiss a black lass 
When he could kiss a white, 
And when he met a bonny lass 
To stay with her all night. 

Enter No. 5. 

The next he is a valiant youth, 
He's been in all the wars; 
\Vhen he returned from Waterloo 
The bells did loudly ring. 
He won the day in splendour, 
He fought a valiant man, 
His countrymen did all rejoice 
When he returned again. 



144 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Enter No. 6. 

The next he is a brave young man 
As ever you did see; 
So well did he act his part 
For his King and Country. 
He had no fear about him ; 
For ever he'll be true; 
He'll fight for you as manfully 
As he did at Waterloo. 
So lasses prepare your lips, 
Else before your eyes 
These six lusty lads 
Will roll you in their arms. 
So speak spectators all, 
If you'll not take it amiss, 
If these lads will dance their shares, 
These lasses I will kiss. 
So now you've seen us all go round, 
And heard our pedigree, 
Gentlemen and ladies all 
What do you think of me ? 
So now you've seen us all, 
Think of us what you will ; 
Music ! strike up and play. 
T'aud wife of Coverdill. 

Here follows the dance. 

After the man (not the Clown) is killed at the conclu- 
sion of the dance, the dancers leave the stage, the 
Clown and the dead man being left alone. 

FIFTH PART 

The Clown walks about and tumbles over corpse. 
Clown. It's rough ground. 

Clown turns round and tumbles over again. 



THE AMPLEFORTH PLAY 145 

King enters. 

King. Hello! Hello! What's the matter here? 
Clown. A man dead! 
King. I fear you have killed him. 
Clown. No! he has nearly killed me! 

Stamps his feet. 
Come all you villians and clear yourselves! 

No. 2 enters. 

No. 2. I am sure it's none of I 
That did this bloody act; 
Its he that follows me 
That did it for a fact. 

No. 3 enters. 

No. 3. I'm sure it's none of I 
That did this awful crime ; 
Its he that follows me 
That drew his sword so fine. 

No. 4 enters. 

No. 4. Don't lay the blame on me, 
You awful villains all ! 
I'm sure my eyes were shut 
When this young man did fall. 

No. 5 enters. 

No. 5. How could your eyes be shut, 
When I was looking on ? 
I'm sure you were with us 
When first our swords were drawn. 

Enter No. 6. 

No. 6. Our King has done the deed 
And he lays the blame on me! 
Before I'll take the blame 
I'll try my sword with thee! 



4024 



H6 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

King and No. 6 fight and rattle their swords together. 
King. O ray ! alas ! what shall I do ? 
I've been the cause of all this war! 
Oray I am that it should happen so, 
That I should slay this poor old man. 
Clown. How can he be an old man ? Young man like me 
his father. I got him this morning before I got my 
breakfast. Bury him ! we'll sing a psalm over him. 

All kneel round the dead man. 
The Clown then gives out the following psalm. 

Clown. When first King Henry ruled this land, 

He was a right generous King, (repeated by mourners}. 

He stole three pecks of barley meal 

To make a large pudding, (repeated.} 

And when this pudding it was boiled, 

They filled it full of plums ; 

There was lumps of suet in as big 

As my two thumbs, (repeated.} 

The King and Queen they both did eat, 

And gentlemen likewise; 

And what they couldnt eat that night 

Next morning had it fried, (repeated.} 

The Clown now reads his Will. 
Clown. God in Heaven take this soul! 
Churchyard take his bones ! 
And that man, that holds my sword, 
Take his Wife and bairns! 

Clown hands his sword to another man. 

King. How can we this man bury 
When people all around us stand ? 
But if we mean to escape a halter 
We must send for a doctor. 

All shout for a doctor. 



THE AMPLEFORTH PLAY 147 

King. I have heard of doctors both far and near; 
Have heard of one, tho' he lives in Spain, 
I'll lay ten pounds if he was here 
He would bring this man to life again. 
Five, ten, fifteen, twenty pounds for a doctor! 

Enter Doctor. 

Doctor. See, Sir, a doctor here, who travels much at home. 

Take these here my pills ; they cure the young, the old, 
the hot, the cold, the living and the dead. 

What's the matter here? 
King. A man dead. 
Doctor. How long has he been dead ? 
King. Seven minutes. Can you cure him ? 
Doctor. If he has been dead seven years I can cure him ! 
King. What is your fee ? 
Doctor. Nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings, eleven pence 

three farthings, peck of ginger bread and some oats for 

my horse. 

King. It is an imposition. I wont give it. 
Doctor. Gee ball! Exit. 
King. Hi ! Hi 1 Doctor, is that the lowest you'll take ? 

Enter Doctor. 

Doctor. I'll throw off the oats and the ginger bread. 
King. You must try your skill. 

The Doctor feels his pulse. 

Doctor. He has got a raging pulse. 

Clown. How can a dead man have a raging pulse ? 

The Doctor pretends to give him a pill. The Clown 
pulls him away. 

Clown. Give a dead man physic? 

King. Can you cause a stomach in the morning ? 

Doctor. I can cause a stomach in the morning, make his 



148 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

victuals fly down his throat like a wheelbarrow, and 
rattle in his throat like a pair of chests of drawers. 

King. Can you do anything for a fair lady ? 

Doctor. Yes ! if ever a fair lady in this room wants a hus- 
band trimming, bring him to me and soon she shall 
have one. 

King. Can you do anything for a big bellied mare ? 

Doctor. Yes ! I can cure the big bellied mare, the old fools, 
the gaol and the pepper vixit cracks ; thousands which I 
cure is none here I can tell. It's all done with this little 
vandorous box; take that and you well. 

King. Well doctor, what is your name ? 

Doctor. I don't like to tell it to a ragamuffin like you! 

King. I must know your name. 

Doctor. Well you shall know it, but it takes a good scholar 
to read it. My name is Ivan-Lovan-tanaman-laddie, 
seven Son of a new-born doctor. Here I've travelled 
through 55 kingdoms and now return to my own coun- 
try; cure men with their heads off, men with their 
hearts out, the itch, the stitch, the stone, the bone, the 
pulse and the gout if there was nineteen devils. 

King. Hi! Doctor! he's a long time coming to life. 
Doctor. Well I must bleed him. 

Doctor gives the King the dead man's arm to hold up 
and then runs at him with his sword. The King 
falls and knocks his knee cap off, which the 
Doctor then puts right. 

The Doctor then bleeds the dead man. 

Doctor. I've travelled for my education. 

King. How far have you travelled ? 

Doctor. All the way from the fireside upstairs and knocked 

the chamber pot over and back again. 
King. Is that all you've travelled ? 
Doctor. Oh no! not by a great deal. I've travelled all the 



THE AMPLEFORTH PLAY 149 

way from Itti Titti where there 's neither town nor city, 
wooden chimes, leather bells, black pudding for the 
bell rope, little pigs running up and down street, 
knives and forks stuck in their backsides crying 'God 
save the King.' 

King. Well doctor, he is a long time in coming to life. 

Clown. I will bring him to life. 

Clown takes his sword and fulls down the mans 
middle. Whereupon the dead man came to life and 
jumps up and says. 

Good morning, gentlemen, 

A sleeping I have been ; 

I've had such a sleep 

As the like was never seen ! 

And now I am awake, 

And alive unto this day. 

Our dancers shall have a dance 

And the doctor have his pay. 

All those standing round now start dancing and this 
concludes the entertainment. 

This curious play bears all the marks of a compila- 
tion. The performers are introduced three times 
and the second attempt borrows the 'big head* 
and 'iron and steel' formulas of the Mummers' Play. 
There are two sets of calling-on verses. The Queen 
is Susannah in the First Part and Rose in the Second 
Part, and while the Second Part is a variant of The 
Fool^s Wooing, the First Part is largely pieced 
together, as Sharp pointed out to me, from scraps of 
Congreve's Love J or Love (1695) iii. 3, although 
this does not give the name Susannah. The Third 
Part is chaff about dancing and singing, such as we 



150 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

find in the Plough Plays. The Fourth Part has a 
phrase about sticking a heifer, which corresponds 
to the killing a bullock at Earsdon. The Fifth Part 
is clearly the same in origin as the slighter versions of 
Earsdon, Bellerby, and Sowerby. Its Cure proper also 
closely resembles some of the more elaborate scenes 
in the Mummers' Plays. The Land of Cockaigne 
bit is there. The repudiation and suggested burial 
have also analogues, more or less remote, in the 
Mummers' Plays, but the 'psalm' used consists of a 
set of verses, which I have also found independently, 
with King Arthur instead of King Henry as their 
subject. 1 The victim's will recalls that of the Fool 
at Revesby. 

The Morris Dance. 

There is little to throw light upon the early history 
of the Sword Dance in these islands. A performance 
at Edinburgh, after the coronation of Anne of Den- 
mark in 1590, has been taken for one, but, I think, 
in error. 2 ' It is otherwise with the Morris Dance, 
which replaces the Sword Dance over the greater 
part of England. \ A Moresca or Morisco first appears 
in the fifteenth century among the dances used as 

1 Arthur of Britain, 189. 

2 Meschke, 57, citing W. Plenkers in Stimmen aus Maria-Laach, 35, 
no. 9, 390 (1888). I have not seen this, but the contemporary descriptions 
in Papers Relative to the Marriage of King James the Sixth (1828, Banna- 
tyne Club) and the verses in Hadrian Damman's Schediasmata (1590), 
clearly point to a morris-dance. 

3 Mediaeval Stage, i. 195; C. J. Sharp and H. C. Macilwaine, 
The Morris Book, Part i. 



THE MORRIS DANCE 151 

tntermedii in the courtly ludt of Italy, Burgundy, and 
France. 1 It seems to have been traditionally regarded 
as of Moorish origin, and is probably to be identified 
with the choreae Sarracenicae of an earlier Paris Indus 
in 1393. In England it is known from the sixteenth 
century onwards both as a court dance and as a 
widespread folk dance. It is probably also the dance 
called the Buffons in The Complaynt of Scotland 
(c. 1549). Jehan Tabourot (pseud. Thoinot Arbeau), 
indeed, in his Qrchesographie (1588) distinguishes 
between the Morisque and the Boujfons ou Mat- 
tachim, which was a sophisticated Sword Dance. 
But Randle Cotgrave, in his dictionary of 1611, 
translates Bujfons as 'Morris'. There is, no doubt, a 
close resemblance between Morris Dance and Sword 
Dance. TheMorris Dance is still found in many parts 
of the country. It has made a special feature of the 
bells, which are only sporadic in the Sword Dance. 
And the swords, if it once used them, have been 
reduced to short wooden staves, to trowels at Shrews- 
bury, and perhaps even to handkerchiefs, since at 
Ilmington Sharp found these manipulated much like 
the weapons in some Sword Dances. Morris Dancers, 
like Sword Dancers, occasionally blacken their faces. 
It is possible that this practice, rather than any real 
oriental origin, led to the notion that the dance was one 
of Moors, and gave it its name. The actual dancers 
are generally accompanied by supernumeraries. 

1 H. Prunifcres, Le Ballet de Cour en France (1914), 3, 8; E. Welsford, 
The Court Masque (1927), 25, 118. 



152 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Of these the most persistent is the Fool, with 
his stick and bladder, and sometimes a cow's tail. 
He is the Squire or Rodney in Oxfordshire, Curly 
in Leicestershire, King Coffee, Owd Sooty-face, 
or Dirty Bet in Lancashire and Cheshire. There 
are others; a King and Queen, a Lord and Lady, a 
Moll or Fool's wife, a Hobby Horse. I do not 
propose to discuss the Morris Dance in detail for 
several reasons. Firstly, the earlier notices of it often 
come from literary, rather than folk sources. One 
cannot be sure, for example, that the linking of it 
with the personages of the Robin Hood cycle is not 
wholly, as it certainly is in part, literary. Secondly, 
it is a performance which owes allegiance to no 
fixed season, and in fact is perhaps more often found 
at summer festivals than at those of winter to which 
the plays and Sword Dances belong. The super- 
numeraries with which it is associated may not, 
therefore, be strictly its own, and one cannot, there- 
fore, lay stress on the occasional presence of St. 
George and the Dragon among them. 1 The summer 
festivals have certainly their independent claim to 
a King and Queen. And although it is intriguing 
to find sword-bearers, sometimes with cakes impaled 
upon their swords, accompanying morris-dancers at 
a group of ceremonies in Oxfordshire and Berkshire, 
these mostly seem to be hunting festivals, like the 
analogous Horn Dance of Abbot's Bromley in 
Staffordshire, which, although doubtless of folk 

1 Cf. p. 1 56, and Mediaeval Stage, i. 197. 



JACK OF LENT 153 

origin, is not directly germane to the Mummers' 
Play. Thirdly and finally, the Morris Dance does 
not appear, at any rate apart from Robin Hood, 
to have issued in drama. The only exception, of 
which I am aware, comes, oddly enough, from the 
place in which I write. At Eynsham, says Sharp, 
the dancers in the last figure 'gradually closed in 
upon the "victim" (if that is the right interpretation), 
seized him in their arms, and with a barbaric shout 
threw him up into the air'. 1 

"Jack of Lent. 

So far, this discussion has been mainly epideictic, 
devoted to bringing out the dramatic element in the 
Mummers' Play and in a group of other folk-customs 
to which, in spite of regional differences, it evidently 
bears a close relation. Some of them have developed 
upon choreographic rather than strictly dramatic 
lines. The maximum of divergence is shown by the 
Morris Dance. But the Mummers' Play, the Plough 
Play, and the Sword Dance, at least, are closely linked 
by common features: by attachment to the festivals 
of the rustic calendar, to Christmas or to the resump- 
tion of agricultural work which follows upon Christ- 
mas, or to Easter; by the inevitable quete or 
'gathering'; by the omnipresent Fool; by the Man- 
Woman, that unquiet spirit, for whom there is no 
obvious function, but for whom a place always has 
to be found; above all by the persistent theme of 

1 The Morris Book, iii. 83. 

4024 jr 



154 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

the Mock Death and the Cure which is its almost 

invariable sequel. 

In turning to the problem of origins, one is at once 
faced by a difficulty. There are many descriptions 
of the performances and many versions of the 
dialogue used. But these have all been collected 
during the last century and a half, and show traces 
of serious degeneration. They are incoherent, for 
the most part; they are overlaid with reminiscences 
of the Napoleonic wars and so forth. James Wood- 
forde saw 'the fine Mummers' at Ansford in Somerset 
on 2 January 1 769, but does not tell us what they did. 1 
The earliest text of a Mummers' Play is of 1 788, and 
that is already in a chap-book, a print of which was 
known to John Brand in 1 777- 2 The Revesby Plough 
Play, from a manuscript of 1779, * s on ty a little 
younger. On the other hand a notice of rude masking 
with a Doctor scene at Boston in America before 
1782 points to emigration at what may be a consider- 
ably earlier date. 3 Pioneers in the study of festival 
customs, such as John Aubrey in 1687 anc ^ Henry 
Bourne in 1725, are surprisingly silent. Even Brand 
has but little to say. We know of Sword Dances and 
Morris Dances in the sixteenth century, although 
mainly from court and literary sources, but there is 
nothing said of a Mock Death and a Cure. The 
Coventry Hock Play had a sword-fight, but again 

1 Diary (ed. J. Beresford), i. 83. 

2 Observations on Popular Antiquities, 185. 

3 G. L. Kittredge in Journal of American Folk-Lore, xxii. 394, citing 
H. E. Scudder, Recollections of Samuel Breck (1877), 35. 



JACK OF LENT 155 

no Cure, and appears to derive from a somewhat 
different type of folk-custom. 1 Only one sixteenth- 
century analogue to the Cure has come down to us 
and that, indeed, is a remarkable one. Henry 
Machyn, a London merchant tailor, probably an 
undertaker by occupation, and in any case much 
interested in pageantry, records a procession of 1 553. 

The xvij day of Marche cam thrugh London, [from] 
Algatt, master Maynard, the shreyff of London, wyth a 
standard and dromes, and after gyants boyth [great and] 
smalle, and then hobe-horsses, and after grett horsses and 
men in cotes of velvet [with chains] of gold a-bowt ther 
nekes, and men in harnes; [and then] the mores dansse, 
and then mony mynsterels ; and af [ter came] the sergantes 
and yomen on horsse-bake with ribbyns [of green] and 
whytt abowtt ther nekes, and then my lo . . . . late behyng 
lord of myssrulle, rod gorgyusly [in cloth ?] of gold, and 
with cheynes of gold abowt ys neke, with hand fulle of 
rynges of grett waluw; the w[orshipfull?] serjants rod in 
cotes of velvet with cheynes of [gold ;] and then came the 
dulle and a sawden, and then [a priest ?] shreyffyng Jake-of- 
lent on horss-bake, and a do[ctor] ys fezyssyoun, and then 
Jake-of-lent wyff brow[ght him] ys fessyssyons and bad 
save ys lyff, and he shuld [give him] a thowsand li. for ys 
labur ; and then cam the carte with the wyrth hangyd with 
cloth of gold, and fulle of ban[ners] and mynsterels plahyng 
and syngyng; and a-for rod master Coke, in a cot of 
velvett with a cheyn off gold, and with flowres. 2 

Machyn is of course describing, not a normal folk- 
performance, but a sophisticated urban procession, 

1 Mediaeval Stage y i. 154, 187; ii. 264. 

2 J. G. Nichols, Diary of Henry Machyn, 33, from Cotton MS. Fitel- 
Iius 9 F. v. 



156 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

like that of Lord Mayor's Day, in which civic 
officials mingled with familiar figures known to the 
London populace, such as the Lord of Misrule, who 
had reigned at the previous Christmas, and the 
tutelary giants, Gogmagog and Corineus. But it is 
impossible not to be struck with the analogy between 
the Doctor who is offered 1,000 to save Jake of 
Lent's life, and the Doctor to whom a precisely 
similar appeal is made in the Mummers' Play. And 
the hint of dialogue may mean either that the proces- 
sion stopped on its way for the episode, or that 
Machyn was reading into it words which he had 
heard on a more normal occasion. It is not clear 
whether the 'sawden' and the 'dulle' belonged to 
Jake of Lent's group. The former occurs again in a 
May game of 1557: 

ix wordes dyd ryd ; and they had speches evere man, and 
the morris dansse and the sauden, and an elevant with the 
castyll, and the sauden and yonge morens with targattes 
and darttes, and the lorde and the lade of the Maye. 1 

Another May game of 1559 had: 

sant George and the dragon, the mores dansse, and after 
Robyn Hode and lytyll John, and M[aid] Marian and 
frere Tuke, and thay had spechys round a-bowt London. 2 

It may be added that at Plymouth in 1581 a 
payment was made 'for the picture of the Turke on 
maye daye', and that John Higgins, translating in 
1585 the Nomenclator of Adrianus Junius, has for 

1 Machyn, 137. 2 Ibid., 201. 



JACK OF LENT 157 

ManducuS) *A Giant or Turke, such as they vsed 
in maygames and shewes, made of brown paper/ 1 
A Soldan, therefore, may have had a place in festival 
processions, apart from St. George, for some reason 
which has eluded us. In the entry of 1 553 Machyn's 
editor prints 'dullo' for 'dulle' and glosses it 'devil'. 
Elsewhere Machyn has 'a dulle with squybes 
borning', who was clearly a devil, although he also 
spells the word as 'duwlle', 'duwylle', 'duyllyll', 
'dullvyll'. Professor Wyld, who has made a special 
study of Machyn's spelling, assures me that 'dullo' 
would be very hard to account for as a variant of 
'devil', and suggests the possibility of an Italianized 
form of 'dull', in the sense of 'fool'. I should like to 
find a Fool in the pageant, but on looking at the 
manuscript I feel little doubt that a badly written 
V has been read as an o'. In any case, even if the 
Jake of Lent and the Soldan and devil of 1553 
belong together, we can hardly link them with the 
St. George of 1559, since Jack of Lent himself is 
quite a distinct and recognizable figure in folk- 
custom. 2 He was a puppet, set up on Ash Wednesday 
and decorated with fish-emblems of the penitential 
season, used as a target for missiles during the six 
weeks of Lent, and finally destroyed in triumph on 
Palm Monday. Machyn's entry is dated as of March 
'xvij', but it comes between entries for March 22 

1 R. M. Worth, Plymouth Municipal Records, 124; Baskervill, Eliza- 
bcthan 7/, 355- 

2 Brand, P of ular Antiquities (ed. Ellis), i. 57. 



158 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

and April 3, and must really belong to March 'xxvij', 
which was in fact Palm Monday in 1553. The fullest 
account of Jack of Lent is in William Elderton's 
ballad ( 1 570) of Lenton Stujf. 

Then Jake-a-lent comes justlynge in, 

With the hedpeece of a herynge, 
And saythe, 'repent yowe of yower syn, 

For shame, syrs, leve yower swerynge.' 
And to Palme Sonday doethe he ryde, 
With sprots and herryngs by hys syde, 
And makes an end of Lenton tyde. 1 

Of other literary allusions, one may add Jonson's 
Tale of A Tub: 

Thou cam'st but halfe a thing into the world, 
And wast made up of patches, parings, shreds : 
Thou, that when last thou wert put out of service, 
Travaild'st to Hamsted Heath, on an Ash-wensday^ 
Where thou didst stand sixe weekes the lack of Lent, 
For boyes to hoorle, three throwes a penny, at thee. 2 

In Protestant days Jack of Lent became, as Elder- 
ton's lines suggest, a mouthpiece for the moralizing 
satire of ballad and pamphlet. That may be the 
reason why the custom is more clearly traceable in 
London than elsewhere in England. But Lenton 
'in whyte and red heryngs skinns' accompanied the 
King of Christmas at a Norwich Shrovetide riding 
in 1443. 3 White Kennett (1660-1728) quotes 
some Jack of Lent rhymes used by Oxfordshire 

1 T. Wright, Songs and Ballads (1860), 188, from Ashmolean MS. 48. 

2 Tale of a Tub, iv. 2. 45. 3 Mediaeval Stage, i. 261. 



JACK OF LENT 159 

children, to the accompaniment of little clacks of 
wood, in an Easter quete. 1 

Harings Harings white and red, 
Ten a penny, Lent's dead. 
Rise, dame, and give a Negg, 
Or else a peice of Bacon, 
One for Peter, two for Paul, 
Three for Jack a Lent's all, 
Away, Lent, away. 

There are many continental analogues to the 
ceremonial dismissal of Lent, which are fully studied 
by Sir James Frazer, under such titles as 'Carrying 
out Death', 'Sawing the Old Woman', and The 
Burial of Carnival'. A Swabian variant yields a 
'Dr. Ironbeard', but to that I shall return. 2 Ecclesi- 
astical adaptations, known in England as well as 
abroad, are the 'Funeral of Alleluia', the 'Making 
Christ's Bed,' the 'Rising and Burying Peter,' and 
perhaps the 'Ducking of Judas Iscariot'. 3 These are 
all spring customs, although the final scene is often on 
Laetare Sunday in mid-Lent, or on Good Friday, 
rather than on Palm Monday; and the root-idea 
appears to be the rejection of the decayed life of the 
old year at the advent of the new. The straw, of which 
the effigy is usually made, was no doubt the sheaf 
preserved from harvest through the winter to the 
following spring. The precise original season for the 
ceremony may of course, as with so many other 

1 J. Aubrey, Remains ofGentilisme andjudaisme (1881), 161. 

2 Frazer, Golden Bough* ', iv (The Dying God), 220 sqq. 

3 Mediaeval Stage, i. 186. 



160 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

folk-dates, have been variously adapted to a prim- 
arily ecclesiastical calendar. The Bury St. Edmunds 
accounts for 1370 and 1402 seem to link 'forthdrove' 
with the wassail of Christmas. 1 

Medieval Parallels. 

If then we can trace, as it seems that we can, so 
characteristic an episode of the Mummers' Play as 
the Cure beyond this great hiatus between 1553 
and the close of the eighteenth century, it is at least 
reasonable to suppose that it may be much older 
still, and that a further silence which meets us in the 
Middle Ages is not necessarily conclusive against a 
primitive origin. Certainly that silence is provokingly 
complete. Ecclesiastical prohibitions tell us, in 
England as well as elsewhere, from the thirteenth 
century onwards, of chore ae and canttlenae^ ofarietum 
levationes, of ludi de Rege et Regina and ludi quos 
vacant Inductionem Man sive Autumni^ which we can 
reasonably equate with surviving folk-festivals, but 
nothing of a Mock Death and a Cure. 2 Nor do the 
records of individual medieval ludi give us any help. 
Ludus is of course a comprehensive term enough. 
There are ludi in villages and small towns from the 
beginning of the fifteenth century, and perhaps 
earlier, which appear to be dramatic. But their 
subjects, in the few cases in which they are known, 
are of the religious order, and the derivation of the 
religious drama from a liturgical and not a folk 

1 Baskervill in Studies in Philology, xvii. 33, from Hist. MS. Comm. 
xiv, app. viii, 124. 2 Mediaeval Stage, i. 90, 161. 



MEDIEVAL PARALLELS 161 

origin is clear enough. There are some faint traces 
of a medieval secular drama, but these are related 
\& fabliau and romance, which again are not of the 
folk. There are Robin Hood plays by the end of 
the fifteenth century, such as we have found en- 
tangled with the Mummers' Play. The surviving 
examples suggest literary hands, working upon the 
ballads. 1 Romance may perhaps preserve one hint 
of the theme for which we are in search. That is the 
'beheading game', as we find it in Sir Gawain and 
the Green Knight and elsewhere. The Knight enters 
Arthur's hall, and challenges any champion to cut 
off his head, on condition of submitting to the same 
ordeal in a twelve-month and a day. Gawain strikes 
the blow. The knight picks up his head and retires, 
reminding Gawain of his promise. When it is 
redeemed, Gawain is only slightly wounded, and the 
knight reveals that the whole affair was an enchant- 
ment of Morgan la Fay. It is called 'a Crystemas 
gomen', and Arthur says that it may supply the lack 
of 'enterludez'. 2 

Naturally the religious drama has itself been 
searched for parallels to the Mummers' Play, 
which, if established, might serve as evidence of 
influence in either direction. Some of those which 
have been suggested are not very convincing. No 
doubt the language of Octavian and Herod and 

1 Mediaeval Stage, i. 177. 

2 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (ed. J. R. R. Tolkien and E. V. 
Gordon), 283, 471. 

4024 v 



i62 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Herod's soldiers, of Pilate and Caiaphas, even, ac- 
cording to Tiddy, of God the Father, bears some 
resemblance to the vaunts of St. George and his 
opponents. 1 'Agans me dar noman stand', says 
Herod, and Pilate: 

Pus schall I brittyn all your bones on brede, 
And lusshe all your lymmis with lasschis. 2 

But how else, in unsophisticated drama, are tyrants 
and fighting men to talk? One might as well cite 
Tamburlaine, who in his less inspired moments 
threatens to 'lanch his greedy thirsting throat' for an 
adversary. 3 Nor is it possible, as a rule, to find any 
clear relationship between Jack Finney and the 
cheeky boys who occasionally enliven the pieties of 
miracle play and morality. Perhaps an exception 
should be made for a particular form of impudence 
such as meets us in Kyng Daryus (1565): 

Iniquytie. You are two as dronken Knaves 

As are betwene this and your owne skyns, so God me 
saue. 

Parcyalytie. Why, Iniquytie, what doest thou saye ? 

Iniquytie. I sayd, ye were two honest men, by my faye. 
But surely, I dyd not so thynke, 
No, that I dyd not, I sweare by thys drynke. 4 

This sort of thing recurs in later morals, and is not 
unlike Jack's fooling. 5 But the humour of the 

1 Tiddy, 97. 2 Town ley Plays, xiv. 9; York Plays, xxxi. 9. 

3 I Tamburlaine, i. 2. 146. 4 Kyng Daryus (ed. Brandl), 263. 

5 Trial of Treasure (Hazlitt-Dodsley, iii, pp. 270, 289, 291); 
Marriage between Wit and Wisdom (Sh. Soc.), p. 19; Conflict of Conscience 
(H.-D. vi, p. 77). 



MEDIEVAL PARALLELS 163 

equivocation may have appealed to more than one 
mind independently. Here and there, too, there 
may be a phrase which recalls, not very closely, the 
rustic paradox of the Mummers' Play. 1 An earlier 
moral (c. 1475) is Mankind. Here the initial speech 
of Mercy is interrupted by Mischief, who says: 

Yowur wytt ys lytyll, yowur hede ys mekyll, ye are full 
of predycacyon. 

Later in the play, Mankind beats Now-a-days on 
the head with a spade, and Mischief consoles him 
with: 

I xall smytt of thi hede, & sett yt on agayn. 

A quete follows, before the arrival of the devil 
Titivillus, who is described as c a man with a hede 
that is of grett omnipotens'. 2 Here we may certainly, 
if we like, see a double analogy to Big Head's lines, 
while the remedy offered by Mischief to Now-a- 
days recalls less the 'beheading game' than Jack 
Finney's 'magpie' jest. Nearer to the Mock Death 
and Cure is a scene of John Redford's educational 
moral of Wyt and Science (c. 1 541-8), in which Wit 
is killed by Tediousness, and revived, not by a 
Doctor, but by Honest Recreation, Comfort, Quick- 
ness, and Strength. 3 It proved popular, and was 
copied by several imitators. 4 Turning back to the 

1 Tiddy, 115. 

2 Mankind (Furnivall and Pollard, Macro P/ays), 47, 428, 447. 

3 Wyt and Science (ed. Manly), 210. 

4 Marriage of Wit and Science (Hazlitt-Dodsley, ii), iv. 2, 3; Marriage 
between Wit and Wisdom (Sh. Soc.) 9 p. 3 5 ; cf. S. Gosson in Playes Confuted 
(E/iz. Stage, iv. 217). 



164 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

miracle-plays, we of course find a Beelzebub, who 
might have given a name to the qufoeur of the 
Mummers' Play, although it might also have come 
direct from S cripture. I am not sure that the qufaeurs 
habit of wearing a bell has not had something to do 
with his christening. Beelzebub, in fact, in such 
miracle-plays as have come down to us, is only a minor 
devil in the train of Satan. It is possible that he played 
a more important part in Skelton's moral of Nigra- 
mansir (1504), if indeed that ever really existed. 1 
We may, I think, disregard some rather fantastic 
theories which derive Beelzebub and his club from 
club-bearing 'deities', such as the Cerne Giant, or 
take the Combat in the Mummers' Play to be a 
racial one between primitive club-fighters and 
invading sword-fighters. 2 Beelzebub is rarely a com- 
batant, and miracle-play devils certainly had their 
clubs. They had forks, too, for the benefit of the 
bad souls in Hell, and it is likely enough that they 
sometimes had frying-pans. They wore vizards, or 
were, like the bad souls themselves, painted black. 3 
But these are obvious forms of theatrical disguise, 
and it is impossible to lay much stress upon the 
analogy to the blackened face of Beelzebub. fThe 
moralities inherited the devil from the miracle-plays, 
and Harsnett tells us that 'the nimble Vice would 



1 Hazlitt-Warton, iii. 287; cf. Mediaeval Stage, ii. 440. 

2 S. Piggott in Folk-Lore, xl. 193; A. B. Gomme, ibid., xl. 292. 

3 Mediaeval Stage, ii. 142; M. L. Spencer, Corpus Christi Pageants in 
England, 226. 



MEDIEVAL PARALLELS 165 

skip up nimbly like a Jack-an-apes into the Devil's 
necke and ride the Devil a course'. 1 There is only one 
example of this in a morality known to us^ But we 
may reasonably compare it with the episode of the 
Camborne Mummers' Play, in which Beelzebub 
carries out the Turkish Knight on his back. 

Finally, we come to the Doctor of the Mummers' 
Play. I do not think that there is any close resem- 
blance between his travels and those which the Vices 
of the moralities sometimes claim to have under- 
taken. But there is an interesting, if rather intan- 
gible, parallel to that fee business, which we have 
already traced as far back as 1553. It is an episode 
which goes back to the liturgical form of the Easter 
Play, which is known as the Visit atlo Sepulchri* 
This, in the course of the thirteenth century, came 
to include an episode, in which the Marys, on their 
way to the sepulchre, stop to buy their spices of a 
Mercator. It was a matter of gradual development; 
the Vmtatio itself is as old as the tenth century. At 
first the Marys only enter bearing thuribles, and 
with these cense the altar, which stands for the 
sepulchrum. Then they begin to add spices, in 
gold or silver vascu/a, ampullae ', pyxides ^ or phialae. 
They may now leave the incense to a distinct 
thuribularius. As they pass up the choir, they lament 

1 S. Harsnett, Declaration of Popish Impostures (1603), 114. 

2 Like Will to Like (Hazlitt-Dodsley, iii, p. 356). 

3 Mediaeval Stage, ii. 9 ; K. Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church 
(1933), an exhaustive account, which I follow here. 



166 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

and express their intention of anointing the holy 
body. Liturgical phrases are used at first; then 
metrical stanzas. One set of these has a passage 
referring to the purchase of the ointment. 

Sed eamus unguentum emere, 
Ut hoc corpus possimus ungere, 
Quod nunquam vermes possint comedere. 
Heu, quantus est dolor noster! 1 

Then the purchase itself is mimed. The Marys turn 
on their way to a side-altar and take the vascula from 
it. Possibly these may be handed to them by a priest 
in silence. But at the next stage there is an Un- 
guentarius, Specionarius, or Apothecarlus^ and a 
dialogue is supplied. 

Mariae. Aromata precio querimus; 

Christi corpus ungere volumus : 

Holocausta sunt odorifera 

Sepulturae Christi memoria. 
Ungentarius. Dabo vobis ungenta optima, 

Salvatoris ungere vulnera, 

Sepulturae eius ad memoriam, 

Et nomini eius ad gloriam. 2 

In the most fully developed versions of the Visitatio, 
this dialogue is much elaborated. It is possible that 
there may be some influence from a distinct liturgical 
play of the twelfth century, on the subject of the 
Wise and Foolish Virgins, known as the Sponsus* 
Here the Foolish Virgins attempt to buy oil from 

1 Young, i. 285. 2 Ibid., i. 405. 3 Ibid., i. 677; ii. 361. 



MEDIEVAL PARALLELS 167 

Mercatores, but in vain. Similarly in the Visitatio 
of Origny St. Benoite, while the Magdalen already 
has her box, the other Marys go to buy. The 
dialogue here is in the vernacular, and is probably an 
addition to the original text. And the question of 
price arises. The merchant offers an ointment for 
five besants and a better one for a talent, but when 
he hears the intended use, 

iel vous donrai pour mainz bien deuz besans 
pour le Signeur cui vous parames tant. 

The Marys address him as 'Jouenes marchans', and 
he accompanies them to the sepulchre. 1 Two other 
texts are in Latin, but in these also, for some reason 
which is not obvious, the Mercator is iuvents. One 
is from Tours. Here he asks a talent, and then an 
Alius Mercator intervenes and asks mllle solidos. 2 " The 
other is from a Benedictbeuern manuscript, which 
may have been the play -book of a band of vagantes. 
In this it is the Uxor of the Mercator who fixes the 
price, at a talent. 3 Another piece from the same 
manuscript is not a Visitatio Sepulchri, but a Passion 
Play. 4 It is partly in Latin and partly in German, 
and may have been meant for a performance inde- 
pendent of the liturgy. Here the Mercator theme 
has been adapted to serve as an introduction to the 
scene in the house of Simon the Pharisee. The 
Magdalen comes in with her Lover and buys 
cosmetics. Then she falls asleep, is converted by an 

1 Young, 1.412. 2 Ibid., 1.438. 3 lbld. 9 i. 432. 

4 J. A. Schmeller, Carmina Burana, 95. 



r68 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

angel in 9, dream, returns to the Mercator iuvenis, 
pays her talent for ointment, and takes it to the 
Master's feet. In the later vernacular religious 
drama of Germany, the Mercator scenes enjoyed a 
wide popularity, and the adventures of the Mercator ', 
his wife and his boy Rubin lent themselves to a 
broadly comic treatment, of which, like Professor 
Karl Young, I find no trace in the Vmtatto Sepulchri 
itself. 1 

It is impossible, however, not to recognize a 
similarity between the chaffering here, dignified as 
it is, and the cruder handling in the Cure of the 
Mummers' Play. The very lines of the Origny text 
quoted above get a rather startling echo in those of 
our Mylor version. 

Full fifty ginnes is my fee. 
And money to have down, 

But sunes tis for is majesty 
I will do it for ten pound. 

The slain combatant at Mylor is not in fact a King. 
At the same time, the quack, in one form or another, 
is a pervasive figure, found in classical as well as 
medieval literature, and his ramifications are many. 
The Mercator episode itself seems to have started 
in France or Spain and to have made its way thence 
to Germany. In English religious drama there is 
hardly any trace of it. There are insular examples 
of the Visitatio Sepulchri^ from Dublin and from 
Barking, as well as one of the earliest from Win- 

1 W. Creizenach, Geschichte des neueren Dramas, i. 108, 244, 409. 



MEDIEVAL PARALLELS 169 

Chester, but they have not reached that stage of 
development. 1 Nor is there any Mercator either in 
the Corpus Christi plays, or in those specially devoted 
to the Magdalen. Whether he appeared in plays now 
lost, we cannot of course say. Only three analogies 
to the fee business have come to light, and two of 
those are rather remote. Sir David Lindesay's Satyre 
of the Thrie Estaitis (1552) has a scene in which 
a Pardoner, who has a boy, not here particularly im- 
pudent, bargains with a Pauper to sell him a pardon 
for a groat. 2 In the Cornish play of St. Meriasek 
( 1 504) , the Emperor Constantine, who is a leper, sends 
for a Doctor, and gives him ^Tio for a remedy. The 
Doctor promises to return with it, but says aside to 
his clerk that he knows of none, and they agree that 
there is no better herb for a physician than falsehood. 3 
Somewhat nearer to the Mummers' Play, if not to 
the Visitatio Sepulchri^ is the Croxton play of The 
Blyssed Sacrament^ which comes from the latter part 
of the fifteenth century. 4 Here is a Mercator^ Sir 

1 Young, i. 249, 347, 381. No text is known of the Visitatio at Eyn- 
sham Abbey, thus described (c. 1197) in Adam's Vision of the Monk of 
Eynsham (H. E. Salter, Eynsham Cartulary, ii. 294), ch. vii, 'matutinis 
percantatis et, sicut in eadem ecclesia ilia die annua consuetudine fieri solet, 
uisibiliter exhibita representatione dominice resurrectionis et angelice 
manifestations, mulieres ad sepulchrum alloquentis, ac regis sui peractos 
tarn triumphos ipsis et per ipsas discipulis denuntiantis, ac deinde appari- 
tionis ipsius Christi dilectricem suam Mariae in ortolani effigie compel- 
kntis, missis etiam celebratis, sacra communionis meruit participation 
saginari.' 2 Lindesay, Works (ed. Hamer), ii. 216. 

3 Beunans Meriasek (ed. Whitley Stokes), 1378-1485. 

4 The Blessed Sacrament (ed. J. M. Manly, Specimens of the Pre- 
Shakespearean Drama, i), 1-238, 445-572. 

4024 2 



170 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Aristorius, who gives a long list of the foreign 
countries with which he has traffic. To him comes 
the Jew Jonathas, who wants to buy a host for 
nefarious purposes. He offers 20 and then 40, 
but Aristorius stands out for >ioo. Jonathan's sacri- 
lege costs him the loss of his hand, and he applies to 
a leech, Master Brendyche of Braban. The leech's 
man Colle, who has some touches of Jack Finney's 
humour, proclaims a long list of diseases which his 
master's art will cure. It savours very much of the 
list in the Mummers' Play, and ends with: 

All tho that haue the poose, the sneke, or the tyseke, 
Thowh a man were ryght heyle, be cowd soone make hym 
seke. 

Putting it all together, one may perhaps judge that 
the evidence permits, rather than compels, the con- 
jecture of some give and take between the Mummers' 
Play and the religious drama, at least in its later stages. 

Saint George. 

I have not, of course, forgotten that in the 
Mummers' Play the most prominent character is 
St. George, and that St. George may well have 
figured more largely in religious drama than the 
surviving examples reveal. The legend and cult of 
the saint have been minutely studied, and may be 
briefly summarized. 1 A Passio which already existed 
in the fifth century attributed his sufferings to 

1 K. Krumbacher, Der heilige Georg in der griechischen Uberlieferung 
(1911); J. B. Aufhauser, Das Drachenwunder des heiligen Georg in der 
griechischen und lateinischen ftberlieferung (1911); J. E, Matzke, 



SAINT GEORGE 171 

Dadianos King of Persia, and made him die under 
torment and come to life again before he was finally 
beheaded. But this came to be regarded as heretical, 
and only faint traces of the miraculous revival sur- 
vive in later legend. In the orthodox Passio he is 
an officer of the Roman army, who suffered martyr- 
dom under Diocletian in 303. His vogue was 
primarily oriental, spread from Russia in the north 
to Abyssinia in the south. St. George is still a 
popular herdsman's saint and the centre of much 
folk-custom in eastern Europe. This is not so in 
England, although the hagiological cult of him 
ultimately came westward. There is an Anglo- 
Saxon church dedicated to St. George at Southwark, 
and about 1074 Robert d'Oili founded a College 
of St. George in his new-built castle at Oxford, of 
which the most famous member was Geoffrey 
of Monmouth. But the medieval veneration of 
St. George as a soldier saint is mainly due to the 
mingling of East and West in the Crusades. His 
day, 23 April, was declared a public holiday by 
a Council held at Oxford in 1222, and in 1343 
he was made the patron of the newly established 
Order of the Garter. To eastern legends is due the 
accretion, possibly based upon classical reminiscences 
of Perseus and Andromeda or the like, whereby 
he became a dragon-slayer and the deliverer of a 

Contributions to the History of the Legend of St. George (PM.L.A. xvii. 
464; xviii. 99; xix. 449; J. G. Frazer, Golden Bough*, ii. 75, 79, 
324-48; Arch. Journat,\\\\.2<n \F.L. xliv. 123; Mediaeval Stage, i. 224. 



I 7 2 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

princess who had been offered in tribute to the 
monster. A western version of this first appears in 
a twelfth-century Prologus to the Passio. Here the 
princess is an unnamed daughter of King Sevius, 
and the city is Lasia in Cappadocia. There is no 
combat. At the sign of the cross the dragon becomes 
tame as a lamb, and the maiden leads him into the 
city with a cord of her hair. The people are con- 
verted and St. George kills the captive dragon. In 
the thirteenth-century Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de 
Voragine the event has been transferred to 'Silene', 
presumably Cyrene, in Libya, and the princess 
and her father are anonymous. Later, she may be 
Cleodolinda. A vernacular legend was still being 
read in English churches at the end of the fifteenth 
century. 1 Hagiology has many dragon-slayers, since 
the dragon lent itself well to homiletic interpretation 
as the devil. But from St. George may well derive 
the dragon-slayers of such secular romances as Sir 
Bevis of Hampton and Sir Guy of Warwick^ both of 
which were put into print in the sixteenth century. 2 
Many of the social gilds of the later Middle Ages 
honoured St. George as their especial saint, and held 
their annual feasts on his day. 3 One was founded 
at Chichester in 1368, at Norwich in 1385, at 
Coventry in 1424. There were others, certainly 

1 S. Rudder, Hist, of Gloucestershire, 461 ; County Folk-Lore, i. i. 48. 

2 Sir Beues of Hamtoun (ed. E. Kolbing), E.E.T.S. e.s. 25, 26, 46, 
48, 65; Guy of Warwick (ed. J. Zupitza), E.E.T.S. e.s. 42, 49, 59. 

3 Mediaeval Stage, i. 221. 



SAINT GEORGE 173 

or probably, at Leicester, York, Dublin, Reading, 
Salisbury, and Louth, and even at quite small places, 
such as Aston in Warwickshire, New Romney in 
Kent, and Woodbridge in Suffolk. One was estab- 
lished at Chester as late as 1537 for the special 
encouragement of shooting. The chief ceremony 
of the feast-day, often observed also by gilds, such 
as that of Holy Cross at Stratford-on-Avon, not 
primarily devoted to the saint, was a procession 
or 'riding', in which figures of St. George and the 
Dragon were carried about. Some places had also 
the rescued princess and her parents. At Dublin 
they were the King and Queen of Dele, and an 
Emperor and Empress also appeared. The maiden 
led the Dragon. 1 This recalls the Prologus. So does 
a fresco, now no longer visible, in the Gild Chapel 
at Stratford, where she is accompanied by a lamb. 2 But 
at Norwich, from which our records are the fullest, 
the 'lady', perhaps through ecclesiastical influence, 
was St. Margaret, who, according to her legend, had 
beheld the devil as a dragon in a vision. Here the 
procession went to a wood outside the town, and it 
was ordered in 1408 that the George should 'make a 
conflict with the Dragon'. Sir John Paston in 1473 
complained of a truant horse-keeper, whom he had 
kept 'thys iij yer to pleye Seynt Jorge and Robyn 
Hod and the Shryff off Notyngham'. The playing 
was probably at Norwich, where several Pastons 
appear in the register of the gild. This gild survived 

1 Mediaeval Stage, ii. 365. 2 See Plate i (Frontispiece). 



174 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

to 1 73 2. The George and Margaret were suppressed 
in 1552, but the Dragon was to continue to c show 
himself for pastime'. A figure, known as Snap- 
dragon, is still preserved. In the eighteenth century 
it was borne by a man concealed in its basket-work 
body, and accompanied by a train of 'whifflers', who 
juggled with their swords, and 'Dick Fools', in 
motley and decked with cats' tails and small bells. 
This seems to bring us rather near to the folk- 
plays. The Norwich notices of 1408 and 1473 may 
suggest something more than a dumb show. But the 
only clear evidence for an actual drama of St. George 
is at Lydd in Kent in 1456 and probably both here 
and at New Romney in other years, at Bassingbourne 
in Cambridgeshire on St. Margaret's Day in 1511, 
and at York in 1 554.* For Lydd and York there are 
no details; a mention of 'Tormentors' at Bassing- 
bourne points to a martyrdom. Conceivably a revival 
from death and arming by the Virgin, known in 
English iconography, was, here or elsewhere, 
presented. 2 

The Seven Champions. 

In the Faerie Queene, St. George is still the 
chivalric warrior of the Red Cross and Una takes 
the place of the anonymous Libyan princess. But 
Spenser's tangle of knights may well have inspired 
the Elizabethan hack-writer Richard Johnson to 

1 Mediaeval Stage y ii. 338, 383; L. T. Smith, York Plays, xxxv. 

2 W. L. Hildburgh in F.L. xliv. 123. 



THE SEVEN CHAMPIONS 175 

bring together the figures of national heroes in his 
Famous Historic of the Seamen Champions of Christen- 
dom. This was a romance in prose. It was registered 
and a first part printed in 1596. A second part 
followed in 1 597. A third was added by one W. W. 
in 1686. It is only the first part that need much 
concern us. Johnson's champions, other than St. 
George, are St. Dennis of France, St. James of Spain, 
St. Anthony of Italy, St. Andrew of Scotland, St. 
Patrick of Ireland, and St. David of Wales. For St. 
George he drew, of course, upon the traditional legend 
and probably also upon Sir Bevis of Hampton. But he 
worked up the whole into a fantastic story, or con- 
texture of loosely related stories, of his own. Before 
St. George's birth, his father visits Kalyb, Lady of 
the Woods, at whose gate hangs a brazen trumpet. 
He blows it, and hears an oracle of the hero's 
fortunes. Kalyb steals St. George as a boy and later 
loves him. But he encloses her in a rock of stone 
and redeems the six other knights, whom she has 
imprisoned there. They go on their separate adven- 
tures. St. George reaches Egypt, slays the burning 
Dragon, and rescues Sabra, the daughter of King 
Ptolomy. He loves her, but is betrayed by Almidor, 
the black King of Morocco, and is sent to the 
Soldan of Persia. He slays two lions who are set 
upon him, but remains in a dungeon for seven years. 
Ultimately he finds in it a rusty iron engine, digs 
his way out, slays the Soldan's stable grooms, and 
escapes. He meets a lady at the gate of a tower. 



176 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

She warns him that it is held by a giant, and then 
warns the giant of his approach. He slays the giant. 
He finds Sabra at the court of Almidor, who is 
absent. The lovers depart together. Sabra is shown 
to be still a maiden by the fact that a lion will not 
harm her. This is, of course, from the Faerie Queene. 1 
Fear of a pagan invasion of Europe now brings the 
Seven Champions together. They make war on 
Almidor, who yields to St. George in combat, and 
is thrown into a vessel of boiling lead. The Cham- 
pions proceed to Egypt. Ptolomy accepts conversion 
and banquets them. A messenger tells that Sabra, 
left in England, has been falsely accused of murdering 
the Earl of Coventry. Ptolomy, in distress, flings 
himself from a tower, and is killed. St. George is 
chosen king, departs for England, and rescues Sabra. 
The Champions now make war on Persia. An 
heroic speech by St. George breaks an enchantment 
thrown by a necromancer on his companions. The 
Soldan is taken, and kills himself by running his 
head against a pillar. Here Part I ends. In Part II 
Sabra dies, and St. George and his sons have further 
adventures, which need not be followed here. Where 
Johnson got the name Sabra for the hitherto anony- 
mous princess is uncertain. Sir Bevis had a foster- 
father Saber, but Hartland says that the rescued 
maiden is Sava in a Bosnian ballad. This may come 
from the Sevius of the twelfth-century Prologus. 2 
It is clear that the text of the Mummers* Play, as 

1 F. Q. i.iii. 2 Cf. p. 172. 



THE SEVEN CHAMPIONS 177 

we have it, owes much, directly or indirectly, to 
Johnson's narrative. He furnishes the King of 
Egypt, the Black Prince of Morocco, the Soldan, 
although he has become in the play a Turk instead 
of a Persian. It is curious that Sabra herself, who 
figured in the ridings, hardly ever gets a part, since 
we cannot identify her with the Woman, who, if she 
intervenes in the main action at all, seems to be 
represented as the mother, rather than the mistress 
of the Agonist. Normally Sabra is relegated to St. 
George's initial vaunt. Here too, in one version, we 
get, much obscured, St. George's adventure with 
Kalyb. 1 It seems to have been mixed up with that in 
which he meets a lady at a giant's gate and slays the 
giant, and perhaps also with one of St. Anthony, who 
frees ladies from a giant's tower, which St. George 
does not. But the 'trumpet' at the 'gates divine' sug- 
gests the earlier visit of St. George's father to Kalyb. 
One might have expected the 'gates divine' to mean 
Jerusalem, but although the Seven Champions do ulti- 
mately visit Jerusalem in Johnson's Part II, it is not in 
pagan hands, and requires no trumpet .challenge. A 
Sabra seems needed, at least in those plays in which 
the Dragon is himself a combatant. They are not very 
many, on the face of it. Perhaps the Dragon proved 
difficult to represent under village conditions. But I 
believe that he does figure, rather cryptically, more 
often than is at first sight obvious. A favourite 
combatant is Slasher, to the many variants of whose 

' Cf. P . 24. 

4024 A a 



178 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

name Johnson's story affords no direct clue. And to 

Slasher, more than to any other, belongs the vaunt : 

My head is made of iron, 

My body is made of steel, 
My arms and legs of beaten brass ; 

No man can make me feel. 

I formerly rejected a theory which made Slasher the 
representative of the hardness of the frost-bound 
earth in winter, and thought that the lines might 
merely refer to the armour of a champion. But I 
am now sure that I was wrong. They are the 
description of a dragon. The following catena will, 
I think, place this beyond doubt. 

His sides wer hard ase eni bras, 
His brest was hard ase eni ston. 

Sir Beues ofHamtoun, Auchinleck MS. (1330-40), 2676. 

His skales bryghter were than glasse, 
And moche harder than any brasse. 

Ibid., ed. Pynson (c. 1503), 2427. 

And ouer, all with brasen scales was armd, 

Like plated coate of steele, so couched neare, 

That nought mote perce, ne might his corse be harmd 

With dint of sword, nor push of pointed spere. 

Faerie Queene (1590), i. xi. 9. 

His scales glistering as silver, but far more hard than 
brass. Johnson, ch. iii. 

His skin more hard than brass was found, 
That sword or spear can pierce or wound. 

Seventeenth-century Ballad. 

They are all dragons. 



THE SEVEN CHAMPIONS 179 

The enduring popularity of Johnson's romance is 
shown by many reprints. 1 The later ones were often 
abridgements, and ultimately took the form of chap- 
books, which continued to circulate through the 
eighteenth century and even later. Of these there 
were two types, representing different selections, 
although the Sabra incident appears in both. One 
was The Life and Death of St. George; the other 
The Seven Champions of Christendom, of which there 
appear to have been three Parts. The types are already 
distinguished in an advertisement by William Thack- 
eray about 1685, and again in one by Cluer Dicey of 
Aldermary Churchyard in 1 764^ It is worth noting, 
therefore, that a description of West Yorkshire 'sword- 
actors' about 1875 credits them with two plays. 3 One, 
The Pace Egg, was clearly a normal Mummers' Play. 
The other, 'most usual', was The Seven Champions, 
and in it appeared the King of Egypt and his 
daughter, St. George, St. Andrew, St. Patrick, St. 
David, St. Denys,and St. James, but not St. Anthony, 
who was replaced, sometimes by St. Thewlis, and 
sometimes by St. Peter. There is, I believe, no such 
saint as Thewlis. St. Thorlac of Iceland is more 

1 H. W. Willkomm, Uber "Richard Johnsons Seven Champions of 
Christendom (1911); A. J. K. Esdaile, List of English Tales and Romances 
(1912), 81. 

2 C. Gerring, Notes on Printers and Booksellers (1900), no; J. W. 
Ebsworth, Bagford Ballads, i. liv. Thackeray's St. George is in BodL 
Woody 254. I; the Aldermary St. George in B.M. 1079, i. 14(5), and 
Parts i and ii of the Aldermary Seven Champions in B.M. 1079, i. 13 (12). 
All are undated. 

3 T. M. Fallow in Antiquary, xxxi. 138. 



x8o THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

likely to be meant than St. Theliau or Teilio of 
Wales, or an obscure St. Theolus of Nicopolis. 
St. George fought each of the other knights for the 
hand of the princess. Nothing is said of a Dragon or 
of a Doctor, but a Fool, Little Devil Doubt, closed 
the performance with his usual 'sweeping' lines. 
Unfortunately the observer, although he gives photo- 
graphs of the costumes, does not print the text. 
Similar plays are reported, with little detail, from 
Sussex and from Minety in Wilts. 1 

The chap-books, however, reduce Johnson's long 
narrative to a very few pages, and there are other 
possible intermediaries between Johnson and the 
Mummers' Play, which must be taken into account. 
There are several ballads of St. George. One, which 
exists in several broadsheet copies, with different 
imprints, probably none of them earlier than the 
middle of the seventeenth century, was also appended 
by William Thackeray to his St. George chap-book. 
It is entitled St. George for England and the King's 
Daughter of Egypt, and its first line runs: 

Of Hector's deeds did Homer sing. 2 

This follows Johnson pretty closely in most of the 
points relevant to the Mummers' Play. I have 
quoted its description of the dragon above. But it 
omits the Lady of the Woods in her rock of stone 

1 F oik-Lore Journal, ii. i ; Mediaeval Stage, i. 221. 

2 Texts in Percy, Refyues (ed. H. B. Wheatley), iii. 224 (Pepys Coll.); 
Roxburghe Ballads (Ballad Soc.), i. 380 (Roxburghe Coll. i. 128, 129). 
Another copy is in Bodl. Wood, 401, f. 115. 



THE SEVEN CHAMPIONS 181 

and the lady at the giant's gate, who have got into 
one version of St. George's vaunt. On the other 
hand, as in this vaunt, Sabra is found tied to a stake 
when St. George arrives. This is not from Johnson, 
who has a stake, but only in the later episode of the 
Earl of Coventry. In the printed copies of the ballad 
Sabra has become Sabrine, presumably under the 
influence of some follower of Geoffrey of Mon- 
mouth. She is, however, Sabra in a fragmentary 
version of the same ballad found in the Shirburn 
MS., and this, in a hand ascribed by its editor to 
1609-16, is probably a good deal earlier than any 
of the broadsheets. 1 These carry no evidence as 
to the date of original publication. Nor do the 
ballad entries in the Stationers' Register take us much 
further. 'Saint George' is in a long list of ballads 
entered to Thomas Pavier and others on 1 4 December 
1 624, but a note of reservation of any existing rights 
make it clear that they were not all new. 2 On 
15 June 1657 a 'St. George for England' was entered 
to Nathaniel Brookes, and on i March 1675, both 
'St. George' and 'St. George for England' appear 
in a second long list of entries to Francis Coles and 
others. 3 This, again, certainly includes some transfers 
of existing copyrights. Coles and his associates 
published one of the copies of the ballad already 
described. They also published another entitled St. 
George and the Dragon, which begins, 'Why should 

1 Text in A. Clark, Shirburn Ballads, 96. 

2 Arber, iv. 131. 3 Eyre, ii. 130, 497. 



i8z THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

we boast of Arthur and his knights?'. 1 It may well 
be the c St. George for England' of 1657 and 1675. 
But it is only a rifacimento of another early ballad, 
of which a unique copy in the Pepys collection was 
printed by W. W., presumably William White, in 
1 6 1 2. 2 Here the title is Saint George's Commendation 
to all Souldiers, and the first line, 'Why doe you 
boast of Arthur and his knightes?' In this pair of 
ballads, no story of George or of the other Cham- 
pions is told. Their names are merely reviewed, 
together with those of many other classical and 
romantic heroes, in stanzas, each ending with a 
refrain, which runs in 1612: 

S. George for England, S. Dennis is for France, 
Sing Hony soit qui mal y panse. 

That in the later version is practically the same. 
And both have, slightly varied, one other passage 
which is of interest : 

Saint Patricke of Ireland, which was saint George's boy, 
And seuen yeeres he kept his Horse, that then stole him 

away. 

From which filthy fact, as slaves they do remain : 
Saint George, saint George, the Dragon he hath slaine. 

We have found this perverted in Irish examples of the 
Mummers' Play. Another rifacimento, but without 
the St. Patrick lines, has the imprint of William 

1 Text in Roxburgh Ballads, vi. 727 (Roxb. Coll. 716, 720). An early 
reprint is in Collection of Old Ballads (1723), i. 24. 

2 Texts in H. E. Rollins, Pepys Ballads, i. 39 (Pepys Coll. i. 87) ; Percy, 
Reliques (ed. Wheatley), iii. 288; Roxburghe Ballads, vi. 780. 



THE SEVEN CHAMPIONS 183 

Gilbertson, and is subscribed S. S., which may stand 
for Samuel Sheppard. 1 John Grubb's The British 
Heroes (1688), on similar lines, is a piece of literary 
facetiousness from Cambridge, and a Birth of St. 
George in Percy's Reliques is also sophisticated. 2 
These do not help us. Finally, there is a Seven 
Champions of Christendom in a Collection of Old 
Ballads (1723), the editorship of which is ascribed 
to Ambrose Philips. 3 This covers the dragon episode, 
as well as that of St. George's escape from the Lady 
of the Woods, but does not add anything to what was 
already available in the earlier ballads, so far as 
St. George is concerned. It incorporates, however, 
some adventures assigned by Johnson to other 
Champions, including that of St. Anthony, who slew 
a giant and released seven ladies from his castle. 
Apart from ballads, Thomas Corser, in his Collectanea 
Anglo-Poetic a ) describes a manuscript verse-trans- 
lation of Johnson's romance by one G. B. under the 
title of The Famous History of St. George, which he 
had acquired from the Heber collection. 4 G. B. 
was once taken to be Sir George Buc, but an allusion 
to the interment of Cromwell makes that impossible, 
and Corser conjectures the authorship of Gaudy 
Brampton, since the name of a Dorothy Brampton is 
on the manuscript. I do not know where it now is, 
but the version is obviously not likely to have had 

1 Eodl. JSFW,40i,f. 117. 

2 Percy, Reliques (ed. Wheatley), iii. 215, 293. 

3 i. 28. 4 Corser, iii. 172. 



i84 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

a popular circulation, and the passages quoted by 

Corser furnish no link. 

The London stage, as well as the ballad -writers, 
made use of St. George. The only seventeenth- 
century text which has come down to us is John 
Kirke's romantic Seven Champions of Christendom 
(1638). The traditional combats of the hero form 
no part of the action, but are relegated to a descrip- 
tive chorus. 1 This is based on Johnson or on the 
chief ballad. Sabra is again Sabrine, and Ptolomy 
becomes Pomill. John Warburton, during the first 
half of the eighteenth century, included in a list of 
old manuscript plays, which he said had been burnt 
by a servant, 'St. Geo. for England, by Will. Smithe.' 
Of this, if it ever really existed, nothing further is 
known, nor can the author be safely identified 
with any traceable dramatist of the name of Smith. 2 
The Theatre of Compliments (1688) says of Bartholo- 
mew Fair : 
Here 's valiant St. George and the Dragon, a farce ; 3 

and Pope, in the Dunciad (1728), chaffs Elkanah 
Settle, driven in his old age to contribute to the 
amusements of the Fair, with : 

Yet lo ! in me what authors have to brag on ! 
Reduced at last to hiss in mine own dragon. 
Avert it, Heaven ! that thou, my Gibber, e'er 
Should'st wag a serpent-tail in Smithfield fair! 4 

1 Act iii, sign. F2 V . 

2 Elizabethan Stage, iii. 493; W. W. Greg in 3 Library, ii. 231. 

3 H. Morley, Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair, 227. 

4 Dunciad, iii. 285. According to Isaac Reed in Biographia Dramatica 



THE STAGE AND THE FOLK 185 

So, too, Edward Young has : 

Poor Elkenah, all other changes past, 
For bread in Smithfield Dragons hissed at last, 
Spit streams of fire to make the butchers gape, 
And found his manners suited to his shape. 1 

For later periods Professor Nicoll records a St. 
George's Day; or Britains 'Rejoice at Covent Garden 
in 1789, and a Saint George and the Dragon or the 
Seven Champions of Christendom at the Royal Amphi- 
theatre in i822. 2 

The Stage and the Folk. 

Bartholomew Fair was only remotely of the folk. 
But travelling companies, in the eighteenth as in 
the seventeenth century, were still carrying London 
plays abroad, not merely to the standing theatres 
which were coming into existence in the larger 
provincial centres, but even to small towns and 
villages, such as those from which our Mummers' 
Plays come. We have, for example, the manuscript 
journal of a company led by one Mr. Jones in 1741. 
They were on their way between Wales and London, 
and performed, for trifling profits, at many small places 
in and about the Upper Thames Valley. They are 
found at Malmesbury, Cricklade, Swindon, High- 
worth, Faringdon, Lechlade, Marcham, Bampton, 

(1782), i. 398, Settle appeared as 'a dragon, enclosed in a case of green 
leather, of his own invention'. 

1 Epistle to Mr. Pope (1730), i. 261. 

2 A. Nicoll, Eighteenth Century Drama, ii. 342; Nineteenth Century 
Drama, ii. 520. 

4024 B b 



i86 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

and Witney. Their repertory is noted. Besides 
Hamlet^ Othello, Tamburlame, Jane Shore ^ and other 
dramas, it included a group of 'entertainments', 
among which is, not indeed a St. George, but a Mock 
Doctor* To the recollection of such performances 
we may at any rate ascribe the various echoes of the 
literary drama which have already been noted, of 
Addison's Fair 'Rosamond at Mylor, of Touth^ Wily 
Beguiled, Buxom Joan, and perhaps Julius Caesar in 
the Plough Plays, of Congreve's Love J or Love in a 
Sword Dance, of Singing Simpkin and still more of 
Mucedorus in many places. 2 But to Mucedorus I 
shall return. 

The possibility of contact between the stage and 
the folk is not difficult to establish. It is not to be 
supposed that, after the Reformation and the growth 
of the professional travelling companies, local plays 
entirely ceased to be performed. Notices of them are 
long to be found, scattered over the municipal and 
family records which Professor Murray and others 
have printed. 3 Perhaps they are most common in 
the north and in other areas remote from London. 
And no doubt they are of various types. Some are 
survivals of the religious drama. The Coventry 
gilds were still giving their Corpus Christi plays, 
at home and abroad, up to 1573, and in 1584 



1 E. Colby in PM.L.A. xxxix. 642, from Add. MS. 33488. 

2 Cf. pp. 37, 49, 56, 82, 98, 100, 122, 149, 190, 191. 

3 J. T. Murray, English Dramatic Companies (1910); Malone Society 
Collections, ii. 258 (Ipswich). 



THE STAGE AND THE FOLK 187 

abandoned them for John Smith's new show of The 
Destruction of Jerusalem. 1 Some are school-plays 
produced by the local Holophernes. Some are May 
games. There was a Robin Hood play at Bridg- 
north in 1588, and players with hobby-horses were 
at Nottingham in 1569, Plymouth in 1575, and 
Newcastle-on-Tyne before 1594. Davy Jones and 
his company furnished a Whitsun pastime at Stratford - 
on-Avon in 158 3.* Perdita saw it. 3 There were 
Christmas plays, such as the 'young men of the city' 
gave at Bath in 1601-6. These might of course be 
anything; they might even be the Mummers' Play. 
The Shuttleworth family of Smithhills in Lancashire 
entertained during 1588-92 players from their 
neighbours at Preston, Nantwich, Downham, Roch- 
dale, Blackburn, and Garstyng. All the payments 
seem to have been made in December or January. 
Generally in such records we only get the name of 
the town or village from which the visitors came. 
I have noted Romney (1562), Hull (1568, 1569), 
Tavistock ( 1 569), Cambridge (1571), Derby ( 1 575), 
Ipswich (1578), Durham (before 1594), and St. 
Budeaux (1567), Anstey (1572), Cropwell (1572), 
Barton ( 1 579), Selston ( 1 579), Germoe ( 1 584). This 
last group is one of quite small places. From Crop- 
well in Nottinghamshire one of our Plough Plays 
comes. Occasionally we find a payment for a play 
to some individual who cannot be traced as a 

1 Mediaeval Stage, ii. 361. 2 William Shakespeare, i. 9. 

3 Winters Tale t iv. iv. 133. 



i88 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

professional actor, James Candler at Ipswich in 1 569, 
Thomas Triply n at Plymouth in 1 571. At Ipswich, 
too, the town minstrels under William Martyn more 
than once entertained the Bailiff and his brethren; 
sometimes it may be with music only, but in 1572 
certainly with a play, and in 1569 with 'playing 
the ffooles in the halle'. The legislative and adminis- 
trative restrictions on plays, mainly aimed at vagrancy, 
were not likely to prove an obstacle to such things. 1 
All such regulations have their elasticity, and a 
strictly local performance under the aegis of a mayor 
or of some provincial magnate, himself a justice of 
the peace, may be assumed to have been fairly safe 
from any interference from a distant Master of the 
Revels. Abuses, no doubt, might arise. In 1597 
the Privy Council wrote to stop Whitsun plays at 
Hadleigh in Suffolk, fearing disturbance in a time 
of scarcity. 2 And during 1610-19 a g rou P f 
Yorkshire handicraftsmen, led by a family of Simp- 
sons, who took to travelling with Catholic plays, 
more than once got into trouble. 3 But as a rule 
local players did not move far from home. The 
notices of them are sparser in the seventeenth century 
than in the sixteenth, but they never entirely die 
out. Thus in 1622 Lord William Howard of 
Naworth Castle rewarded the players of Penrith, in 
his own county, and in 1624 those of Warwick, 
where perhaps he was on a visit. 4 Even more 

1 Elizabethan Stage, i. 269 sqq. 2 Ibid., iv. 321. 

3 Ibid^i. 304. 4 Murray, ii. 334. 



THE STAGE AND THE FOLK 189 

illuminating are the accounts of Francis Earl of 
Cumberland at Skipton Castle. 1 In 1606 he gave 
4J. 'to the yonge men of the toun being his lordships 
tenants and servants, to fit them for acting plays this 
Christmas*. In 1635 he paid 5^. to Adam Gerdler, 
whom he 'sent for from York to act a part in "The 
Knight of the Burning PesteH'V I suspect that 
such a temporary organization, as the Earl of Cumber- 
land patronized in 1606, accounts for the large 
number of players of lords and gentlemen who 
appear once and once only, or at long intervals, in 
the records, and who certainly must be distinguished 
from the regularly established companies. And the 
second entry shows that, as might have been ex- 
pected, such performers often found it easier to 
borrow plays from the London stage than to write 
them for themselves. 

Here then we get the contact between the stage 
and the folk from another angle. I have not, 
unfortunately, the material on which to follow the 
same theme through the Restoration and the eigh- 
teenth century, periods during which, it must be 
remembered, the folk was probably on a higher 
level of education and culture than that to which 
enclosures and Speenhamland doles reduced the 
village labourers from whom our texts are mostly 
drawn. Two examples of local playing, of very 
different dates, are, however, much in point. Of 
the first the scene is again the Upper Thames Valley. 

1 Murray, ii. 255. 



190 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

In the autumn of 1652 certain 'coun trey men, most 
of them, for any thing I can heare, all of Stanton- 
Harcourt Parish', began to learn an old play of 
Mucedorus and Amadine. They played it privately 
every week and later 'in a more publike manner 
about Christmas', three or four times in Stanton 
Harcourt itself, and then in neighbouring parishes 
such as 'Moore', no doubt Northmoor, Stanlake, 
South Leigh, and Cumnor. Finally, on 3 February 
1653, they essayed a representation in Witney. Here 
they were unfortunate. Failing to secure the Town 
Hall, they went to an old making-room at the White 
Hart. There was an audience of three or four hun- 
dred. The play began at seven o'clock and was to 
take three hours. But at the end of the second hour, 
while Bremo was promising to feed Amadine with 
quails and partridges, the floor collapsed into a shovel- 
board room below, and several persons were killed. 1 
John Rowe of Corpus, a nonconformist lecturer at 
Witney, tells the sad tale in his Tragicomedia (1653). 
With his moral, which is itself as old as the second 
century, I am not concerned. But we have already 
found the traces of Mucedorus at more than one 
point in the Mummers' Play. I may add, as a further 
evidence of its popularity, that Francis Coles, the 
ballad publisher, issued editions up to 1668, and that 
Mucedorus^ a Play is one of the chap-books in 
William Thackeray's list of about i685- 2 And it 

1 Mucedorus, iv. 3. 32. 

2 W. W. Greg in Shakespeart-Jahrbuch, xl. 95; cf. p. 179. 



THE STAGE AND THE FOLK 191 

was still being given by local players, a century and 
a half later, together with St. George and the Fiery 
Dragon. Sir Offley Wakeman described in 1884 
the performances, forty or fifty years before, but 
still within living recollection, at the parish wakes 
of a group of villages on the borders of Shropshire 
and Montgomery. A few other reminiscences have 
been collected by Miss Burne. 1 The earliest notice 
is of 1777. The plays were in the open air. The 
performers were all men, who borrowed finery from 
neighbouring houses. The stage consisted of a 
couple of wagons, and there were rarely more than 
two actors on the boards together. At one end sat a 
chairman, who was also prompter and call-boy. A 
prologue offered 'pastime', and at the end sixpence 
was asked from each spectator. The most usual plays 
were Prince Mucldorus^ St. George and the Fiery 
Dragon^ Valentine and Orson, Dr. Forster^ and The 
Rigs of the Times. Strange survivals, mostly from 
the sixteenth century, if one may assume that Dr. 
Forster was Dr. Faustus. It was only from The Rigs 
of the Times, unfortunately, that Sir Offley could 
recover a textual fragment, which is literary in form. 
In all the plays, he says, a Fool or Jester was promin- 
ent, wearing bells at his knee, a paper mask, and a 
cap of hareskin with the ears pointing upwards. He 
'played all manner of megrims', and was 'going on 
with his manoeuvres all the time*. The Dragon was 

1 Wakeman, Rustic Stage Plays in Shropshire (i Trans. Shropshire Arch. 
Soc. vii. 383); G. F. Jackson and C. S. Burne, Shropshire Folk-Lore^ 499. 



193 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

a wooden one, worked from the side of the stage by 
a pole, and a squib in its mouth yielded fiery breath. 
In the last scene it reared up, but St. George struck 
off its head with his sword. There was a dragon, too, 
'all in green', at Stretton. The coalition of literary 
drama and folk-play seems to have been fairly 
complete in Shropshire. 

The Residual Problem. 

It will be well to pause at this point and consider 
what advance has been made towards an explanation 
of the Mummers' Play. It is clear, I think, that the 
traditional text, so far as Saint George is concerned, 
is based upon Johnson's romance or some derivative 
thereof. It cannot, therefore, be earlier than the 
end of. the sixteenth century, and may have been 
composed a good deal later. It has only come down 
to us in corrupt forms, and although the general 
resemblance of these, widespread as they are, points 
to a single archetype, it remains doubtful what the 
exact outline of this may have been. Did Saint 
George, as the romance might suggest, originally 
fight, one after another, with the Dragon (Slasher), 
the Soldan of Persia (Turkish Knight), and Almidor 
of Morocco (Black Prince of Paradise), or only with 
one or two of these, and if so, with which ? We can 
hardly say. The text has been 'farced' with reminis- 
cences of plays such as were being carried abroad in 
the seventeenth and even the eighteenth century. 
Nor is there anything in the phraseology which 



THE RESIDUAL PROBLEM 193 

need be of an earlier date than Johnson. Even the 
hastily withdrawn insolence of Jack Finney, which 
seems to recall the moralities, is no exception. It 
passed from the Vices to the clownish serving-men 
of the later drama. 1 There is an exact parallel, for 
example, in William Rowley's Match at Midnight 



Sim. An old diuell in a greasie Sattin doublet, keepe you 

company. 

Bloodhound. Ha, what 's that ? 
Sim. I say, the Sattin doublet you will weare too morrow, 

will be the best in the company, sir. 

Beelzebub, again, is in the miracle-plays, but he is 
also in Dr. Faustus, and that survived in Shropshire 
to the nineteenth century. The Presentation and 
afterpiece of the Mummers' Play are on the model 
of the regular stage. Father Christmas may or may 
not have been the original Presenter, but he, too, 
is probably not earlier than the seventeenth century. 
No doubt Christmas had been personified long 
before. Early carols know 'syre Cristemas our 
kynge'. 2 A 'Kyng of Crestemasse' rode at Norwich 
in 1443, and 'Yule' and 'Yule's wife' at York up to 
I572. 3 The revels at St. John's, Oxford, in 1607 
were under a Christmas Prince. 4 He is one type of 
the familiar Christmas Lord of Misrule. 5 But his 
people are a court, not a family. Jonson's Christmas 

1 Cf. p. 162. 2 Early English Lyrics, 233. 

3 Mediaeval Stage, i. 261. 

4 G. Higgs, The Christmas Prince (1922, ed. F. S. Boas). 

5 Mediaeval Stage, i. 403. 

4024 C C 



i 9 4 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

his Masque ( 1 6 1 6) is perhaps responsible for a change 
in the notion of him. Here he is 'Christmas, old 
Christmas, Christmas of London, and Captain Christ- 
mas', and again 'old Gregory Christmas'. And he 
has eight sons and two daughters, who do the 
dancing. Mince-Pie, who is in the Mummers' Play, 
is one of them. 'There should a been and a dozen 
I ween', but only Log could be found besides, and 
he was too heavy to dance. The actual term 'Father 
Christmas' does not emerge, so far as records go, 
before two pamphlets related to the puritan attack on 
the feast, The Arraignment, Conviction and Imprison- 
ment of Christmas (1645) and The Examination and 
Tryal of old Father Christmas ( 1 678). But no doubt 
itjuse in these suggests that it was known earlier. 
There are, however, some important features in 
the Mummers' Play which neither Johnson nor 
the borrowings from the drama give us. They do 
not explain the Fool, so different in quality from the 
stylized Court Fool of the stage. They do not 
explain the pervasive Woman, whose dramatic func- 
tion is so obscure. Above all, unless there was a 
revival from death in the miracle-plays of St. George, 
as to which so little is known, they leave untouched 
the Doctor and his Cure, and that bargaining for a 
fee, which are precisely the incidents found, apart 
from St. George, in the Jack of Lent procession of 
*553 described by Machyn. To the possibility of 
a remoter origin for such fundamental elements of 
the Play we must now turn. 



THE PROBLEM OF ORIGIN 



Parallels jrom Western Europe. 

Continental analogues, such as have already been 
noted for Jack of Lent, throw some further light 
on the Mummers' Play itself. There are plenty of 
them, and I cannot pretend to be exhaustive. In 
many parts of Germany the 'Carrying out of Death' 
is linked to acts of another character, which suggest, 
not death, but revival. 1 These take various forms. 
Sometimes the procession which bears the death 
effigy is accompanied by songs which hail the 
coming of spring or summer. Sometimes it is 
followed by another procession in which a green 
tree is carried into the village with similar songs. 
Sometimes there is a conflict. Rival songs, celebrat- 
ing in turn winter and summer, are sung; and there 
may be a combat between a group clad in straw 
or furs and another in green or leaves. There is an 
example of this also in the Isle of Man, and another 
in Sweden. In other places there is no effigy of 
death. The tree is brought in, and with it goes a 
lad covered from head to foot in leaves and flowers. 
He is the Pfingstl or Wild Man, the equivalent of 
the English Wod-woz and Jack-in-the-Green. But 
his treatment is ambiguous. He is ducked in a 
stream or pool. That is only a rain-charm. But 
sometimes he is also hunted, and either shot or 
decapitated. The rite may stop here, nowadays at 

1 Frazer, Golden Bough*, iv (The Dying God), 206-1 1, 233-58. 



198 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

least. But also it may be followed, or show signs of 
having once been followed, by a revival. Thus in 
Saxony and Thiiringen the Wild Man falls to the 
ground, but is bled by a doctor and comes to life 
again. From Swabia there are two accounts, which 
probably have to be pieced together to get the full 
story. In a Shrovetide ceremony, Dr. Ironbeard 
bleeds a sick man, who falls as dead, and the Doctor 
thereupon restores him to life by blowing air into 
him through a tube. On Whit-Monday, the Wild 
Man, as elsewhere, is executed. No revival is 
described, but Dr. Ironbeard, together with a sooty- 
faced Moorish king, is in the procession. All this 
is very much like the Mummers' Play. The German 
rites do not take place at Christmas, but most 
often at Whitsuntide or on May Day, and occa- 
sionally at Shrovetide or mid-Lent. In Carinthia 
and among the gipsies of Transylvania and Rumania 
the Wild Man becomes Green George, and goes at 
Easter or on St. George's Day, but here is no death 
or combat. 1 Sir James Frazer also describes some 
Russian seasonal customs in which mythical beings 
are lamented as dead, and in one of these the corpse 
springs to life again, amid cries of rejoicing. 2 

A very remarkable ceremony is the Basque Carnival 
Masquerade, as performed in the villages of La Soule 
in southern France, between Barn and Navarre. 3 



75, 343. 2 Ibid* iv. 261. 

3 V. Alford, The Basque Masquerade (Folk-Lore^ xxxix. 68), The Spring- 
time Bear in the Pyrenees (ibid. xli. 266). 



PARALLELS FROM WESTERN EUROPE 199 
There are many characters, who form two groups, 
Les Rouges or Les Beaux, and Les Noirs. The 
former are elegantly dressed; the latter, ragged 
and dirty, are regarded as representing alien non- 
Basque elements. The central figure of the Rouges 
is a Hobby-Horse, the Zamalzain or Chibalet, with 
a crowned rider. He is accompanied by a Cantinitre, 
said to have replaced a ruder Bohemienne, a Sweeper, 
a Chat with a rattle, a flag-bearer, three shoeing- 
smiths, and a number of other attendants, who 
should carry beribboned sticks. The Beaux also 
include a Monsieur and Demoiselle and a Paysan and 
Paysanne. The Noirs are Tinkers with lambs' tails 
on their backs, Knife-grinders, Gipsies with wooden 
swords, and two Horse-geld ers. These last, unlike 
the other Noirs, are tidy. The troops visit each 
other's villages, crossing rope-barricades, formerly 
set up by old women, but now by men with black- 
ened faces. It is thought proper for the local cure to 
go away on a holiday. The procession goes from 
house to house, with much ribaldry by the Noirs. 
Then follows a series of elaborate figure dances in 
the place. These culminate in the Godalet Danza, 
given as &pas seul by each of the Beaux in succession 
about a glass of red wine set on the ground, and 
finally by the Hobby-Horse himself. It is a critical 
moment, for the rider cannot see the glass. When 
the last evolution is successfully performed, he makes 
the sign of the Cross with his forefoot. Now comes 
the turn of the Noirs, who dance noisily in parody. 



200 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

The Gelders pursue the Horse, and make a feint of 
operating upon him. He recovers, and dances again. 
Certain features have dropped out in recent years. 
Once the Gelders made an attack on the Cantiniere. 
Once a Tinker's wife gave birth to a baby. Once 
a barber shaved the master-Grinder and cut his 
throat, and a Doctor, after boasting of his travels, 
effected a Cure. An observer of 1856 notes both the 
Doctor and an Apothecary, and a Black Horse who 
parodied that of the Beaux. He also describes an 
episode in which a skin-clad Bear pursued little boys 
dressed as Lambs, and was driven off by a Shepherd. 
But it is doubtful whether this properly belongs to 
the Masquerade. The Bear is found elsewhere in the 
Pyrenees as a Carnival figure. He is masked or has 
a blackened face, makes a yu$te 9 and pursues the 
girls to kiss them. Sometimes he is shot and comes 
to life at a blast of a horn or at the incision of a 
knife in his throat to dispatch him. Sometimes he is 
revived by a Doctor. 

The Masquerade has many points in common 
with the Mummers' Play, but evidently represents 
an even more elaborate development on choreo- 
graphic lines than the English Sword Dances. The 
Sword Dances themselves have a wide continental 
range, especially in Teutonic-speaking districts. 1 

1 K. Meschke, Schwerttanz und Schwerttanzspiel im Germanischen 
Kulturkreis (1931); R. Wolfram, Sword Dances and Secret Societies 
{Journal of English Folk Dance and Song Society, i ( 1 93 2), 34) ; Mediaeval 
Stage, i. 190, 201. I have not seen Fr. de Witt Huberts, TLwaarddansen 
(1931), which makes some additions from the Netherlands to Meschke's list. 



PARALLELS FROM WESTERN EUROPE 201 
They are known in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, 
Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, and as 
far east as Warsaw in Poland and Siebenburgen in 
Rumania. There may be some traces of them in 
antiquity. Tacitus describes a spectaculum among 
the Germans in which naked youths leapt among 
swords and spears. Beowulf has sweorda-gelac as a 
metaphor for battle. Gregory of Tours knew of a 
sword-fight in a sixth-century heathen cult. Goths 
in masks and skins led a procession at Byzantium, 
clashing staves and shields, in the tenth century. 
But there are no shields in northern Sword Dances. 
Early mimi may have adapted the Indus for their 
entertainments. There is, however, little to go upon 
for the earlier Middle Ages. It is not until the end 
of the fourteenth century that any continuous record 
begins. It has been most fully studied for Germany 
and Austria. Here sword-dancing was practised by 
the gilds of many towns throughout the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries, and only died out under 
religious opposition in the seventeenth. From the 
sixteenth century onwards it is also found in villages 
and here it still survives. One need not assume 
that it had its origin in the towns, since gilds are 
a late development of social life, and obviously it is 
from towns alone that early records, such as entries 
of payments in municipal account-books, are likely 
to come. But there is always give and take between 
town and village, and some of the elaboration of 
figures may well be due to the gilds. On the other 
4024 D d 



202 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

hand, although village life does not make for mental 
alertness, it is not unfavourable, at least in youth, 
to the co-ordination of muscular movements. Olaus 
Magnus in his Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus 
(1555), describes two types of dance as prevalent, 
apparently in Sweden. 1 One was a Sword Dance, 
accompanied by pipes or cantllenae^ and in it a rosa 
of swords was formed and placed on the head of one 
of the performers. The other, which was danced 
not with swords but arcubus seu circuits, also had a 
rosa. The performers wore bells on their knees, and 
a preliminary song told of the deeds of heroes. Here 
are clearly the Rose, the bells, and the calling-on 
rhymes of the English dances. The same two types 
recur in the German and Austrian examples, where 
there is a general resemblance between the Sword 
Dances proper and others known as Ring, Hoop, 
or Garland Dances. And here too the Sword Dances 
come very close to the English model. They are 
performed by young men, in the open, at various 
seasons, but most often at Shrovetide. The dancers 
are generally in white, and nearly always wear bells, 
in bands on their knees, ankles, hips, or hats. Some- 
times their heads or swords are wreathed. The 
swords are of metal, or occasionally, in villages, of 
wood. The Vortanzer, who may be called a King, 
and Nachtanzer are prominent. There are always 
one or more accompanying Fools, often with fox- 
tails. Occasionally, but not regularly, there is a 

1 Text in Mediaeval Stage, ii. 270. 



PARALLELS FROM WESTERN EUROPE 203 
Woman, called at Ruckendorf the Mehlweib. There 
is a qufae. The figures lead up to a final one, almost 
invariably called the Rose, but once, at Nuremberg, 
the Knopf. The Rose, when made, is often used much 
as in England. It is laid on the ground. It is placed on 
the head or heads of one or more dancers. But it may 
also serve the purpose, not recorded in England, of 
a platform, which is mounted by the Vortanzer, and 
from which he may address the spectators. The idea 
of coronation or exaltation is apparent. There is an 
early sixteenth-century woodcut of the Empefor 
Maximilian standing upon a Rose, laid on the 
ground. 1 On the other hand the Rose is not, as in 
England, lifted by the Vortanzer alone. And it is only 
exceptionally, and never in villages, that it is placed 
round the neck of a performer. Rather more often, 
the notion of a death is introduced in a bit of initial 
or final dialogue. From Sweden come some rather 
obscure verses, which may be really of German origin. 
They suggest the execution of one of the soldiers of 
Meister Hildebrand, presumably the hero of the 
early Htldebrandslied. Liibeck and Clausthal in the 
Harz Mountains have sets of calling-on rhymes, 
which are remarkably like the English ones. At 
Liibeck the dancers are six of the 'Worthies', Kaiser 
Karl, Joshua, Hector, David, and Judas Maccabaeus. 
At Clausthal they are the Kings of England, Saxony, 
Poland, Denmark, and Moorland. With the dancers 
come in each case two Fools. At Liibeck they are 

1 Reproduction in Meschke, 114. 



204 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Klas Rugebart, who may be St. Nicholas, and 
Sterkader, who may be the Danish hero Stercatherus 
mentioned by Saxo Grammaticus. At Clausthal 
they are Hans and Schnortison. And in both cases 
the rhymes wind up with a fight and the killing of 
one of the Fools. The Austrian dances have also 
calling-on rhymes. In these the names are not 
heroic, but represent fanciful characters taken from 
village life, such as Griinwald, Edles Blut, Wildmann. 
A similar variation of type has already been noted in 
England. 1 The Death, too, is differently managed 
in Austria. It comes at the end of the performance, 
not at the beginning. When the Rose is over, one 
of the Fools falls to the ground and the other claims 
to have killed him. Sometimes this is elaborated. 
Before the Fool is killed, he is shaved, or has a tooth 
drawn. One may compare the tooth-drawing in 
some Mummers' Plays. 2 But this is in the Cure and 
may arise independently from the Dragon's tooth. 
There is a Cure, 'by all sorts of ridiculous means', 
in some of the Austrian plays, but I do not find any 
specific notice of a Doctor. Nor do either St. George 
or the Dragon appear. There is, indeed, an engraving 
after a picture by Pieter Brueghel (1525-64) which 
represents a village Kirmess. 3 Here are both a Sword 
Dance and a St. George play, but they do not appear 
to be related. The Sword Dance turns its back to 
a scene in which the Dragon is wheeled towards the 
princess and her father, while St. George rides to 

1 Cf. p. 127- 2 Cf. 57. 3 See Plate ii. 



PARALLELS FROM WESTERN EUROPE 205 

meet it with levelled spear. There is no sign of any 
combatant to be killed other than the Dragon, and 
probably the episode is a 'riding' much like those 
of medieval England. Here, too, as at Stratford-on- 
Avon, the maiden has a lamb. Fiirth, in Bavaria, also 
had a similar ludus^ although the hero is not called 
St. George. There was a folk-element in it, for the 
Dragon's blood was used to fertilize the flax-fields. 1 
Southern Europe seems to be less rich in Sword 
Dances; perhaps it has been less thoroughly ransacked. 
Examples, however, have been found in several 
countries, often in proximity to German borders. 2 
France has its Bacubert at Brian^on in the Hautes 
Alpes. 3 Here the swords are placed round the neck of 
the leader, but the figure does not appear to be called 
a Rose. Tabourot in his Orchesographie (1588) 
describes a dance called Les Boujfons ou Mattachins, 
with bells and swords and shields. 4 The mattacmo of 
Italy was also known in Spain and England, but the 
use of shields may, as at Byzantium, point to a type 
of dance different from that of the north. A Sword 
Dance is described, without much detail, in Don 
Quixote, and another by a Spanish writer of 1 6 1 1 in 
which a figure had the significant name of la 
degollada^ 'the beheading'. 5 There seems to be no 
sound evidence for a Celtic Sword Dance. 

1 Frazer, Golden Bough*, ii. 163. 

2 Meschke, 99 ; Wolfram, 3 5 ; E. v. d. Yen-ten Bensel in J.E.F.D.S.S. 
1.65. 

3 Meschke, 103. I have not seen R. Blanchard, Le BJcubert (1914). 

4 Cf. p. 151. 5 Mediaeval Stage, i. 203. 



206 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Parallels jrom the Balkans. 

The closest congeners of the Mummers' Play itself 
have been revealed by recent exploration in those 
districts of the southern Balkans which were the 
Thrace, Macedonia, and Thessaly of antiquity. 1 
The fullest account comes from one of a group of 
villages around Viza in Thrace. That its name is 
Haghios Gheorghios is, no doubt, a mere coin- 
cidence. These villages keep festival on Cheese 
Monday in Carnival with dramatic ceremonies. The 
leading actors are two Kalogheroi. They wear 
head-dresses of goat-skin, or sometimes fox-skin or 
wolf-skin, which are brought down over their faces 
to form masks. Their shoulders are heavily padded, 
their hands blackened, and sheep-bells are tied 
round their waists. One bears a cross-bow, made to 
shoot ashes from a horn, the other a phallus. They 
must be married men. Two unmarried boys, the 
Girls (xophaia) or Brides (vvi96s), are their wives. 
An old woman, the Babo, carries in a basket a piece 
of wood wrapped in rags to represent a cradled child 
(Aixvhris), which is regarded as a bastard. Two or 
more Gipsies (KOTCTI^AOI), of whom one is a woman, 
have also blackened hands, and carry long rods. 

1 J. C. Lawson, A Beast-Dance in Scyros (Annual of the British School 
at Athens, vi. 125), Modem Greek Folk-Lore ana 1 Ancient Greek Religion 
(1910); R. M. Dawkins, The Modern Carnival in Thrace and the Cult 
of Dionysus (Journal of Hellenic Studies, xxvi. 191), A Visit to Skyros 
(B.S.A. xi. 72); A. J. B. Wace, North Greek Festivals and the Worship of 
Dionysus (B.S.A. xvi. 232), Mumming Plays in the Southern Balkans 
(B.S.A. xix. 248). 



PARALLELS FROM THE BALKANS 207 

A bagpiper and some Policemen (90X00*6$), with 
whips and swords, and a length of chain for captures, 
complete the troop. In the morning there is a qutte, 
with some robbing of hen-roosts, and obscene panto- 
mine by a Gipsy and his wife on the straw-heaps 
before the houses. In the afternoon the drama proper 
takes place before the church. There is a dance, in 
which the Policemen brandish their swords. Then 
the Kalogheroi withdraw. A Gipsy and his wife sit 
on the ground. He pounds with a stone, and she 
fans with her skirts. It is understood to be the 
forging of a ploughshare. The Babo says that her 
child is now too big for the basket, and demands 
much food and drink and a wife. He apparently 
becomes identified with the phallus-bearing Kalo- 
gheros, between whom and one of the girls a marriage 
takes place. A new scene begins. The bow-bearer 
stalks the phallus-bearer and shoots him. There is 
lamentation, led by the girl, who throws herself 
across the prostrate body. Suddenly the victim 
comes to life and arises. It is perhaps at this point 
that some one rides upon a donkey, but the accounts 
are obscure. It will be observed that there is no 
mention of a Doctor. The forging is now repeated 
with a real ploughshare, and at the end the imple- 
ments are thrown in the air with cries of 'Next year 
also!' Now a complete plough is brought in, and 
drawn round, contrary to the way of the sun, by the 
girls, while the Kalogheroi drive and guide it. Then 
the Gipsies and possibly then the Kalogheroi take 



208 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

up the drawing. Meanwhile there are further cries, 
expressing hopes for a good crop. It may be at this 
stage that the Kalogheroi are beaten over their 
padded shoulders with rods. The act is mentioned 
in the accounts, but not located. The Cheese 
Monday festival has been found elsewhere in Thrace, 
notably at Kosti and at Adrianople, and also in the 
Aegean islands of Skyros and Skopelos. Skyros is 
believed to have been depopulated in the seventeenth 
century, and not improbably repopulated from 
Thrace. But in these places, there is now little more 
than a quete. In Skyros an Old Man, a Bride, and a 
Frank make horse-play in the streets. All three are 
masked. The Old Man wears a shepherd's coat with 
the fleecy lining outwards, and on him are tied as 
many as fifty or sixty bells. At Adrianople the 
Kalogheros himself carries a rod, as his name would 
suggest. At Kosti a King, wearing the skin-mask and 
bells, and with an oven-broom in his hand, is drawn 
in a cart to the church. With him he takes seed, for 
which two groups, of married and unmarried men, 
struggle, but he casts it on the ground. He is then 
ducked in the river. There is a trace of this also 
at Adrianople, where the King seems to be distinct 
from the Kalogheros. 

In Macedonia and Thessaly the local festival is 

more often at the New Year or Epiphany than later. 

The fullest description is from Kokkotoi, near Mt. 

Othrys in Thessaly. 1 The drama took a different 

1 A. ofB.S.4. xvi. 232. 



PARALLELS FROM THE BALKANS 209 

form from that of Thrace, and was given, not in 
public, but in house-to-house visits. The troop 
numbered twelve: a Bridegroom in a fustanella with 
bells on his waist and elbows, a Bride, an Arab in 
sheepskin with a mask and sometimes a tail, 
a Doctor in professional costume, and eight singers. 
The songs were fitted to the dwellers in the house, 
bidding a blessing on the crops of a farmer or 
the flocks of a shepherd. Meanwhile the Arab 
approached the Bride, and offered some familiarity. 
A dispute arose. The Bridegroom was killed and 
lamented by the Bride. Then she summoned the 
Doctor, who wrought a Cure. Some obscenity 
between Bridegroom and Bride was followed by 
chicken-stealing and a quete. Refusal brought songs 
of ill-omen. Such was the custom before the annexa- 
tion by Greece. Since then it has fallen into decay, 
but survivals, more or less truncated, are still to be 
found both in Thessaly itself, and also in Mace- 
donia, perhaps more frequently in Vlach than in 
Greek districts. Only slight traces of it have been 
observed in Greece proper, where boys sometimes 
run about with bells, masks, fox-brushes, and a 'bear' 
during the twelve nights, or on the last day of 
February. Naturally there are a good many variants. 
The victim may be the Arab and not the bride- 
groom, or he may be an interfering bystander. At 
Elassona he is shot with ashes from a blunderbuss. 
There is generally a Doctor; a Cure is not always 
mentioned. On Mt. Pelion the Doctor will not 

4024 E e 



2io THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

come without a horse, and an Old Woman carries 
him in. Elsewhere the Old Woman sometimes ap- 
pears, as at Haghios Gheorghios, with a baby. There 
may be supernumeraries in skins, representing bears, 
vampires or devils. Masks, blackened faces, and bells 
are constant features. 

It is impossible not to be struck by the close 
resemblance of these Balkan ceremonies to the 
English folk-plays. Here are the skin-clad figures 
which correspond to the hairy caps and tails of the 
Fools, and possibly underlie the traditional costumes 
of curled paper. Here are the masks, still sometimes 
worn by the Mummers, or replaced by pendant 
strips on the head-dress. Here are the blackened 
hands and faces, which combine with the tails to 
turn the Fool into a Devil. Here are the inevitable 
bells, and the padded shoulders, which become the 
humps of Happy Jack and his fellows. Here, at 
Haghios Gheorghios at least, is the dance with 
its brandished swords. Here, again at Haghios 
Gheorghios, is the connexion with the plough. It is 
not in the English Mummers' Play, but of this, 
apart from St. George in the one and the 'wooing' 
element in the other, one can only regard the Plough 
Play as a variant. Here is the old woman with the 
bastard. She too belongs to the Plough Play, but 
is she not suggested by the dolls which Happy Jack 
carries? Above all, here are the Mock Death and 
the Revival, and in many places, although not at 
Haghios Gheorghios, the Doctor who is its agent. 



A PRIMITIVE LUDUS 2tl 

A Primitive Ludus. 

Perhaps, therefore, we may go a step further, and 
guess at the existence, unrecorded by the ecclesiastical 
prohibitions, of some original European ludus, with 
just this Mock Death and Revival as its central point 
and with men dressed as animals for its performers. 
There are regional differences. I think it is quite 
possible, in view of the distribution of Sword Dances 
in this island and on the Continent, that the Sword 
Dance represents a Danish variant and the Morris 
Dance its English equivalent. But if the ludus was 
widespread here, it becomes a little more easy to 
understand the transmission over so large a part 
of the country of a more or less literary text, fitted 
to it in the seventeenth or eighteenth century. In the 
north and east other elements, choregraphy here and 
wooing there, probably themselves of comparatively 
late development, have resisted the complete domina- 
tion of this text. And the east may have preserved, 
in the connexion with the plough, at least one 
original feature which has been lost elsewhere. 

The ludus ) again, may very well have attracted to 
itself fragments of folk-custom which were not 
primarily its own. There is, for example, the 
sweeping with a broom. 1 One cannot lay much 
stress on the isolated oven-broom borne by the King 
at Kosti. I do not think that the Mummers' broom 
is a witch's broom, as has been suggested. No doubt 

1 Cf. pp. 19, 23, 67, 101, 125, 131, 208. 



212 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

the Woman is sometimes, for obvious reasons, chosen 
to wield it, and in the Bassingham Plough Play the 
Woman is the Old Witch. But at Askham Richard 
alone is she a rival healer. The broom, however, 
is not without a meaning. Of course, it serves a 
practical purpose in clearing a space for the Mum- 
mers or avoiding a dust, but it also, especially as used 
by Little Devil Dout, carries a suggestion of good or 
ill luck about it. Presumably it reflects the super- 
stition against removing fire or ashes from the house 
on New Year's Day, which is just what Little Devil 
Dout threatens to do. This was already known to 
Caesarius of Aries in the sixth century: 'Sunt enim 
qui calendis ianuariis auguria observant, ut focum de 
domo sua . . . cuicumque petenti non tribuant'. 1 
It was the sacred 'new fire', lit from that made for 
the community at the beginning of each year. 2 
A more difficult problem is presented by the Hobby- 
Horse. The Balkans only yield a doubtful donkey 
at Haghios Gheorghios and the Old Woman who 
bears the Doctor on Mt. Pelion. There are a few 
English plays in which he is brought in similarly, 
and at Longborough his steed is called both Beelze- 
bub and the Old Woman. In others the presence of 
a horse at the door is suggested. In an unlocated 
play, the Turkish Knight, after a second Combat, is 
not cured, but taken away on horseback. Mr. 
Douglas Kennedy regards the Hobby-Horse and 

1 Mediaeval Stage y i. 217, 238, 269; ii. 297, 303. 

2 Frazer, Golden BougA*, x. 120-46, 246-69. 



A PRIMITIVE LUDUS 213 

the Doctor as having been originally one and the 
same character. 1 It would, I think, be as easy to 
argue for the identification of the Hobby-Horse with 
the Agonist. At Revesby he fights with the Fool. At 
Goathland the death is brought about by a fall from 
his back. There is an analogy in the Basque 
Masquerade, where it is the Hobby-Horse who 
suffers at least a minor death. But, generally 
speaking, I feel that the relation of the Hobby- 
Horse to the plays is rather a loose one. He belongs 
as much or more to the summer games. At Padstow 
he is dipped on May Day in water, like the King 
at Kosti and the Wild Man of the German Whitsun 
rites. In the plays themselves he is often a super- 
numerary. At Goathland a Fisherman on a Hobby- 
Donkey accompanies the dancers. In Dorset the 
Presenter rides away when all is over. Near Bridport 
'Pony' is brought on in the afterpiece, and teases the 
girls. Mr. Kennedy would make 'Pinney', rather 
than the more usual 'Finney', the original name of 
the Doctor's boy. At Frodsham in Cheshire, where 
the play is on All Souls' Day, two Drivers bring in 
Dick when the Quete is over, and sing a dialogue 
which records his travels through C lcky-Picky' and 
the land of Cockaigne, and his poverty in old age. 
Similarly at Ormskirk in Lancashire comes Old 
Hob with a speech by his Groom: 

He 's travelled through Ireland, France, and Spain, 
And now he's back in Old England again. 
1 2j.E.F.D.S.\\i. 17. 



2i4 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Old Hob, like Pony, attacks the spectators. Mr. 
Kennedy notes the reseriiblance between the Horse's 
travels and those of the Doctor. But I doubt whether 
he is right in calling the Ormskirk episode a 'frag- 
ment* of a play. It seems to be an independent 
Hobby-Horse quete by Pace-eggers, introduced by 
calling-on rhymes, like those of the Sword Dances. 
And of such independent quetes there are examples 
elsewhere. In Yorkshire mummers with masks and 
black faces take a white horse round at Christmas, 
with a song of The Poor Old Horse? This gives him 
no 'travels', and is found, apart from any quete^ 
in Oxfordshire and Wilts. 2 But Wilts with a Hob 
Nob at Salisbury, Wales with a Mari Lwyd, 
Cheshire with a 'Dobby-Horse', Gloucestershire, 
and Derbyshire also have the quete^ and it is wide- 
spread, under the name of 'Hoodening', in Kent. 3 
There are similar rites with animals other than a 
Horse. Dorset has its horned 'Ooser', which was 
probably so used; 4 Wilts its 'Christmas Bull' at 
Stourton; 5 Gloucestershire its 'Old Broad', also a bull, 
at Kingscote; 6 and the Scottish Highlands a cow. 7 In 
Wilts, too, a 'Wooset' appears, not seasonally, but as 
part of the 'rough music' for village offenders. 8 

1 W. Henderson, Notes on the Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties, 67; 
R. Bell, Ancient Poems of the Peasantry of England, 184. 

2 A. Williams, Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames, 155. 

3 P. Maylam, The Hooden Horse (1909). 

4 Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries, ii. 2 89. 

5 Antiquary, K.$.,iv. 380. 6 Ditchfield 28. 

7 Frazer, Golden Bough*, viii. 322. 

8 Wilts Arch. Magazine, i. 88. 



A PRIMITIVE LUDUS 215 

Derbyshire, Yorkshire, and Nottinghamshire have a 
Ram', or 'Christmas Tup'. 1 Lincolnshire has its 'Old 
Sow' at harvest suppers. 2 Occasionally there is a link 
with the plays. At Worksop in Nottinghamshire 
Beelzebub takes part in a dialogue about the 
Christmas Tup, using his familiar lines and Big 
Head's. At Walton-le-Dale a servant-girl from a 
distance was alarmed by a man disguised as a sheep, 
who knocked at the door to introduce the Plough 
Jags. 3 The frightening of girls is a usual incident 
in these quetes. It is a function also of the Pyrenean 
Bear. 4 William Barnes would derive c Ooser ', from 
nvurse, which Layamon uses in the sense of 'devil'. 5 
Naturally these local Hobbies are of ruder type 
than the elegant combinations, with robes dis- 
posed so as to furnish both a mantle for the rider and 
trappings for the steed, which prance in the Basque 
Masquerade or the May games of courtly revels. 
An actual dried skin or an old skull is often employed 
and manipulated by concealed men. I am inclined 
to think that there must have been an early variant 
of the ludus^ in which a single beast-figure was alone 
represented. It is easy to understand that some 
merging of the types might later come about. And 
here we do seem at last to arrive at some con- 
firmation from ecclesiastical prohibitions, for these 

1 9 N.Q. ii. 348, 5 1 1 ; J. of Derbyshire Arch. Soc. xxix. 3 1 ; LI. Jewitt, 
Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire, 115. 

2 9 N.Q. ii. 348. 3 County Folk-Lore, v. 186. 

4 Cf. p. 200. 5 Glossary of the Dorset Dialect, s.v. 



216 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

often, and from dates as early as the fifth century, 
include a ceruulus, hinnicula y vitula or iuvenca among 
thcportenta of pagan festivals specifically reprobated 
for Christians. They are mostly continental, but 
a letter of the West Saxon St. Aldhelm (c. 685) 
refers to the abandonment of the cervulus. 1 However 
this may be, the Hobby-Horse seems to represent 
an even more complete incorporation of man with 
animal than the skin coats and masks and fox-tails 
of the plays. It is conceivable that a folk-belief may 
also explain the singular passage of the Revesby 
play, in which the Fool, looking through his 
spectacles at the Lock, which is here called a 'Glass', 
beholds his own face. He has apparently slain the 
Hobby-Horse, and is to be slain himself. Sir James 
Frazer records the superstition that it is an omen of 
your own death to see your face in a mirror while 
a death is in the house. 2 I have noted the wearing 
of bits of looking-glass by Cornish Mummers and 
Yorkshire Sword-Dancers. 3 

The Significance of the Ludus. 

A primitive ludus, still performed by the folk on 
seasonal occasions, may be expected to have some 
significance other than that of mere amusement, even 
though it may only dimly survive in a vague notion 
that the whole thing is done for 'luck*. That signifi- 
cance, in the case of the Mummers' Play, must now 

1 Mediaeval Stage, i. 258, 330; ii. 302. 

2 Golden Bough*,i\i. 94. 3 Cf. pp. 83, 126. 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LUDUS 217 

be considered. One cannot, of course, get beyond 
a theoretical reconstruction, based on the study by 
anthropologists of the mental habits of men in various 
stages of civilization and in all parts of the world. 
Early man obtained his food by searching for natural 
products. In open country he became a hunter of 
wild animals. In time arose, here a pastoral culture, 
through the taming of animals, and there an agri- 
culture, through the deliberate sowing and tending 
of food-plants, also originally wild. It is believed 
that agriculture began with the activities of women, 
collecting seeds for their own sustenance in the 
absence of the hunters. Then, perhaps because of 
the shrinkage of hunting-grounds through changes 
in climatic conditions, men also took to agriculture, 
and a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence was re- 
placed by the settled life of villages. Man is distin- 
guished from other creatures by his capacity for 
reflection and imagination; and in his quest for food 
he came to conceive of some potency in the food- 
animal or food-plant itself which might supply his 
needs or, if withdrawn, might leave him to starvation. 
Let us adapt a phrase from Matthew Arnold, and 
call it a stream of tendency which makes for fertility. 
It was absent in the lull of winter, came again with 
the budding of all things in the spring. He sought 
to stimulate it, with cries of lamentation or rejoicing. 
He had also the mimetic instinct. He splashed water 
to bring rain and lit fires to bring warmth. He leapt 
high, that the crops might grow high. And he 

4024 F f 



218 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

essayed to bind the potency to himself by physical 
contact, making a solemn ceremony of his eating 
and drinking at critical seasons, dressing himself in 
green leaves, or in the skins of slaughtered animals. 
Presently the potency began to take shape for him 
as something vaguely akin to his own spirit. There 
it was, incarnate in some particularly splendid beast 
or flowering tree. Man is upon the point of inventing 
a god, but as yet a phytomorphic or theriomorphic 
god, not an anthropomorphic one. When agri- 
culture became a male pursuit, the men took the 
theriomorphic notion with them. The vegetation 
spirit is not only in the tree or sheaf, but also in the 
animals that haunt the cornfield, and communion 
with it in either form makes for well-being. 1 Mean- 
while there is a parallel development; one can hardly 
synchronize the stages. But all men are not equal in 
capacity. Some one, more gifted mentally or physi- 
cally than his fellows, takes the lead. He is the 
medicine man who works the charms. He slays the 
sacred animal or cuts the sacred tree, and is the first 
to wrap himself in leaves or skin. A double portion 
of the indwelling spirit becomes his. Anthropology 
has shown in detail how out of the medicine man 
grows the priest, and out of the priest grows the 
semi-divine king. Unfortunately the potency thus 
acquired does not endure. It fades in the winter, 
and another arises to slay the exhausted leader, and 
takes his place in the festival of a new spring. The 

1 Mediaeval Stage, \. 102, 116. 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LUDUS 219 
story does not end quite here. The medicine man 
is, after all, the most cunning, as well as the boldest, 
of his clan. He proves his value in war or govern- 
ment. And he manages to prolong his reign; for 
a second year perhaps at first, then for three, or 
eight, or nine, or twelve, or until his vitality does in 
fact show signs of decay. He may be allowed to 
fight a would-be supplanter for his life. In the end he 
maintains his position, until a natural death overtakes 
him. And if somebody must be slain annually, let it 
be a substitute, a son of the king, a volunteering tribes- 
man, a criminal, a captured stranger. Let him enjoy 
the attributes of a king for a few days and do some 
priestly rites, and then let him fall. Ultimately, as 
manners soften, nobody is really slain, but the festival 
has still its Mock King, and very likely a Mock 
Death. The proto-history, here so briefly summar- 
ized, may be studied at length in the pages of Sir 
James Frazer, although he does not, perhaps, always 
distinguish with sufficient clearness between the 
divine fertilization spirit and the still human priest- 
king into whom a measure of the divine potency has 
passed. 1 One ought not, I think, to call the slaying 
of the old priest-king a sacrifice. It may come to 
be so regarded, by a confusion, in later myth. But 
the actual sacrifice, at the festival at which it forms 
part, is of the fertilization spirit in animal form, and 

1 Golden Bough*\ i, ii (The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings) ; iv 
(The Dying God), 1-195; The Magical Origin of Kings (1920); cf. The 
Mediaeval Stage, i. 1 34. 



220 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

it is in animal-skins that the worshippers array them- 
selves. 

The Balkan ludi, especially that at Haghios 
Gheorghios, and presumably therefore the conjectural 
old English ludus^ to which they show so close a 
resemblance, can hardly be anything but survivals 
of ceremonies intended to promote agricultural 
fertility. The ceremonial ploughing and the scattering 
of the seed at Kosti would by themselves be sufficient 
to establish this. 1 It is indeed explicit in the language 
used at Haghios Gheorghios. Many of the minor 
features represent well-known crop charms; the 
dipping in a river at Kosti; 2 the ashes of a fire blown 
from bow or blunderbuss and perhaps also used to 
blacken hands and faces; 3 the beating with rods; 4 
the clashing of iron, always potent, in swords and 
bells; 5 the actual or suggested sexual intercourse. 6 
The Quete represents a perambulation taking the 
beneficent influence from house to house. Con- 
ceivably the men dressed as women may carry on 
some recognition of the original dominance of 
women in agriculture. Above all, here is the slain 
priest, who has become the Agonist of the drama. 
As elsewhere, festival usage is both conservative and 
reconstructive. The death remains, but its old 
significance has been forgotten, and it is given a new 

1 G.2?. 3 ii. 282; iv. 149. 2 Ibid. v. 236; Mediaeval Stage, i. 121. 

3 G.B. x. 336-40; Mediaeval Stage, i. 124. 

4 G.B. viii. 322; ix. 259-73. 

5 Ibid. iii. 232; ix. 247, 251. 6 Ibid. ii. 97-104. 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LUDUS 221 
one. The mimetic instinct appears again in a new 
aspect, as an element of play, which accompanies the 
serious business of the festival with the free and 
self-sufficing activities of minds and limbs released 
from labour, and stimulated by unusual meat and 
drink. Thus arises a simple drama, in which a revival 
is added to the death, and a consciousness of the 
waning and waxing of the seasons is reflected. It 
becomes an integral part of the festival ceremonies, 
done like the rest for the luck of the village in field 
and fold. So, at least, one may conjecture that things 
went. It is possible, however, that the linking of 
death and revival may have been motived by the 
existence of two ceremonies, one of lamentation in 
mid-winter, the other of hopefulness in spring. But 
for this there is not much evidence beyond that of 
a natural logic. Our ludi are clearly, as they stand, 
spring ludij attaching themselves to the beginning 
of agricultural work when winter is over. In fact 
they occur at various dates from Christmas to Easter, 
and in Germany even invade the full summer festival 
of Whitsun. But that is not of importance. Rites, 
which were originally seasonal, have been curiously 
dislocated in the process of adaptation to super- 
imposed calendars. It is a little odd, perhaps, that 
no such ludi seem to belong to the autumn ploughing 
and sowing of wheat, which is the real beginning 
of the agricultural year. But so it is. Was the plough 
merely brought back for a ceremonial rite, at the 
time when the first crops ought to be springing? 



222 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Or can we infer that not wheat but barley, which is 
sown in spring, was the first grain to come under 
cultivation ? The use of both goes back far beyond 
human record, and a priority between them has 
never been established. So far as the Balkans are 
concerned, if a winter rite is to be taken into account, 
it must be upon a ground other than that of survivals. 
And one cannot quite disregard the possibility that 
their ludl may have been affected by later develop- 
ments of what may now be called religious cult than 
those which they primarily represent. For the evolu- 
tion of belief went on. In time the phytomorphic 
or theriomorphic conception of divinity became an 
anthropomorphic one. Man has now made a god in 
his own image, and the animals and plants are merely 
attributes. It is prayer that now establishes contact 
between god and man. The primitive sacrificial 
meal of communion passes into an oblation by which 
goodwill may be obtained. Temples are built at 
tribal centres, and a new class of priests arises, temple 
ministrants who devise legends, some of which have 
it for their object to give an explanation of features 
in the traditional rites. Viza was the seat of Thracian 
kings. Here the god was Dionysus, and from Thrace 
the cult of Dionysus seems to have spread with 
Thraco-Phrygian peoples into Asia Minor and pos- 
sibly into pre-Hellenic Crete. 1 It spread also into 
Hellas itself, where Dionysus became associated 
with native divinities, such as Apollo at Delphi, 

1 I follow chiefly L. R. Farnell, Cults qf the Greek States, v. 85 sqq. 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LUDUS 223 

Athene at Athens, and Demeter at Eleusis. He 
remains primarily a fertility-god, with the bull, and 
perhaps the goat, and the phallus as his attributes, 
and a special connexion with viticulture. Women 
take a large part in his worship. The actual Thyiades 
of Delphi correspond to the Maenads of legend, and 
the name of one of the latter, Baubo, sounds very 
like the Babo of Haghios Gheorghios. Reminis- 
cences both of the slain priest and of the sacrificial 
meal may account for the legends in which he is 
torn to pieces and devoured. The notion of the 
sacrifice of a man-god has crept in. Even at Delphi, 
however, the death of Dionysus was more soberly 
commemorated. Here he had a tomb near the seat 
of the oracle, and there was a secret ceremony in the 
temple of Apollo 'whenever the Thyiades awaken 
Liknites'. Thus he became to some extent a god of 
the underworld, as well as of fertility. In Asia, too, 
his cult may have influenced that of the Phrygian 
Attis and the Syrian Adonis, both of whom died 
with lamentation and arose with rejoicing. The 
name Liknites links Delphi with Crete, where 
another legend told of the cradling of the god in 
a Afxvov. And here it was as a child that he was 
believed to have been slain and to have come to life 
again. The Delphic ceremony was in winter, but 
celebrated the revival rather than the death. At 
Athens Dionysus had several festivals from December 
to March, and some shifting of original dates may 
have taken place. The chief evidence for two dates 



224 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

comes from Plutarch, who says that the Phrygians 
observed a sleep of the god in winter and an awaken- 
ing in spring. 1 On the other hand, the death and 
revival of Attis came close together in spring. We 
are still left in doubt as to what the primitive 
Thracian custom may have been, and consequently 
as to the precise contribution of mimesis to the 
Indus. 

In the Haghios Gheorghios ceremony, too, we 
find the Liknites, and a birth, miraculous growth, and 
marriage are curiously interwoven with the drama of 
death and revival. Conceivably the Xixvov might 
originally have been nothing more than a basket in 
which the seed-corn was carried. But if the child in 
it came out by reaction from a later temple gloss, the 
emergence of Dame Jane and her bastard in Lincoln- 
shire would be a puzzle. Moreover, there are other 
elements at Haghios Gheorghios which suggest a 
linking of the notions of human and agricultural 
fertility. It may be, therefore, that in the primitive 
festival itself a child was laid in the seed-basket to 
promote child-birth during the coming year. 

It would take me too far from my subject, even 
if I had the necessary learning, to discuss the much 
controverted topic of the possible relation of such a 
ludus as we find at Haghios Gheorghios to the origin 
of drama in Greece; of its irdcOos to tragedy, of its 



1 Plutarch, De hide et Qsiride (378 F ), OpOyes 5 T6v 0e6v 
Xncovos KoOeOSeiv, Olpovs 5 ypT|yopvai, Tcni nv KareuvaanoOs, Tcni 
6' dvey^paeis pccKxeOovres ocOrcp TeAoOcn. 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LUDUS 225 

ribaldry to comedy. 1 I will only note that in the 
earliest Greek comedy emerge two figures which can 
be traced through the ages, and still endure. One is 
the Quack Doctor, the other the padded Hump- 
back, an invaluable resource for all makers of rude 
fun, who desire to combine the maximum of noise with 
the minimum of discomfort to the performers. 2 Our 
concern is with the English ludi, and here we must be 
content to discern, dimly enough beneath the accre- 
tions of dance pattern, chivalric romance, histrionic 
and folk-lore borrowings, and sentimental wooing, 
a primitive nucleus in which skin-clad worshippers, 
accompanied by a traditional Woman, capered about 
the slain figure of a man who had been King of the 
feast. Originally they were all Fools together, but 
various grotesque types have emerged. The name 
Tool' derives from the Latin jollis, a wind-bag, 
through the puffed cheeks of mimi. In this respect 
the Revesby play, with its multiplicity of Fools, may 
resemble the original type most closely. Here the 
chief Fool is the Agonist and other Fools are his sons. 
Elsewhere an Agonist is sometimes the son of a Fool 
Presenter or of Father Christmas, who has replaced 
him. 3 There is some confusion, because St. George 
is also son of the King of Egypt, whose daughter he 
married. That the Woman should sometimes become 

1 W. Ridgeway, The Origin of Tragedy (1910); G. G. A. Murray, 
The Ritual Forms Preserved in Greek Tragedy, in J. E. Harrison, Themis 
(1912); F. M. Cornford, The Origin of Attic Comedy (1914); A. W. 
Pickard-Cambridge, Dithyramb, Tragedy, and Comedy (1927). 

2 Pickard-Cambridge, 230, 261, 418. 3 Cf. p. 39. 

4024 G g 



226 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

mother of the Agonist is intelligible enough. I do 
not think that the relation of father and sons 
indicates anything beyond the relation of the leader 
of the revel to hisjami/ia or troop. Tiddy suggests 
that the Agonist was originally regarded as the son 
of the Antagonist. 1 The Bearsted play, where the 
Antagonist says Tve killed my own beloved son', 
might point in this direction. It recalls the Sohrab and 
Rustum theme. One cannot, however, argue from 
a single exceptional case, which may be a corruption. 
It would be more logical to think of the Antagonist, 
as the New Year, slaying his father the Old Year. 
Such a notion might be found in the Revesby play. 
But one must be chary of attributing too much 
symbolism to primitive man. The performers are 
also Mummers. That term, however, is of very 
general significance, and may have been taken over 
from more sophisticated revels. Mumming, from 
the fourteenth century onwards, seems to mean little 
more than 'disguising*. The folk Mummers, indeed, 
are also Guisers. A derivation has been sought both 
from some equivalent to the low German mumme, 
'a mask', and from 'mum* in the ordinary sense of 
'mute'. Some early court mummings, which intro- 
duced, not drama, but dice-playing for seasonal 
luck, took place in silence. Our plays are not silent, 
but an observer of 1890 thought that she had seen 
one which was, at Mullion in Cornwall. She adds 
that it was understood that the anonymity of the 

1 Tiddy 74. 



THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LUDUS 227 
actors should be strictly respected. 1 No doubt also 
a Mummer will sometimes tell you that he wears 
spectacles, or puts a smear of black on his face, so 
that he may not be recognized, but disguising, after 
all, is part of the convention inherent in all drama. 
And although a primitive ludus may have been 
largely in dumb-show, it formed part of a public 
cult, and there can have been no secrecy about it. 
The most we can suppose is that ecclesiastical opposi- 
tion led to secrecy later. I hardly think that secrecy 
can be the explanation of the curious phrase 'In 
comes I hind before' or 'all hind before' in the 
Presenter's speeches at Sapperton and Lower Hey- 
ford, and incorporated as his name Old Hind- 
before at Icomb. It is true that there are savage 
initiation rites in which the initiate suffers a mock 
death, and must profess oblivion of his past. When 
he re-enters his home, he must stumble in backwards, 
as if he had forgotten how to walk. 2 But I suspect 
that 'Old Hind-before' is merely a corruption of 
'Old Aint Been Before', as a variant of the familiar 
self-description of Big Head. I have not, in fact, 
noticed that particular form in the Quete, but at 
Peebles the Presenter, in introducing his troop, 
seems to give a further corruption of it, by saying : 

Muckle head and little wit, stand ahint the door. 
The notion of secrecy, however, has been developed 
by a student of the Sword Dances into a theory which 

1 Mediaeval Stage, i. 21 1, from F. L. x. 351. 

2 Frazer, Golden Bough*, xi. 251. 



228 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

finds their origin, not in seasonal rites but in initia- 
tion rites. 1 The Austrian dances are performed by 
youths who form rigid associations, and the shaving 
and tooth-drawing which there precede the death 
can be paralleled from the initiation ceremonies of 
other close corporations. That is true; it is also true 
that a Mock Death is itself a feature of savage 
initiations. Nevertheless it may be suggested that 
the Austrian associations have merely taken over 
the tradition of what was once a public ludus, just 
as the late societes joyeuses of western Europe took 
over the Feast of Fools when it was abandoned by 
the churches. 2 

It may, perhaps, be taken for granted that dance, 
as well as drama, was a feature of the original ludus, 
since dance, like mimesis itself, is play, in the free 
exercise of energies released at festival from the 
control of labour. The Haghios Gheorghios cere- 
mony began with dance, and it survives as the pre- 
dominant feature in the Sword and Morris Dances. 
From the Mummers' Play proper it has practically 
vanished. Here and there, however, traces of 
rhythmical motion are to be found. They have 
been noted, for example, in Sussex, together with 
the formation of a Lock, which suggests an 
affinity to the Sword Dance. 3 And Thomas Hardy 
recalled how, in the Dorset of his youth, 'the 
performers used to carry a long staff in one hand 

1 R. Wolfram in Journ. of English Folk Dance and Song Soc. i. 38. 

2 Mediaeval Stage, i. 372. 3 Sharp, Sword Dances, i. 12. 



WOOING PLAYS 229 

and a wooden sword in the other, and pace monoto- 
nously round, intoning their parts on one note, and 
punctuating them by nicking the sword against the 
staff'. 1 

Wooing Plays. 

In conclusion, something must be said of the 
wooing episodes in the English plays. These, of 
course, only occur in Plough Plays, although 
there are some faint traces elsewhere of rivalry for 
a woman as a motive for the Combat. 2 The Balkan 
Iudi 9 as already noted, have a sexual element, and 
in those of Macedonia and Thessaly the motive of 
rivalry is prominent. It is interference between a 
bride and bridegroom, which provokes the death. 
This is reported also from Castleborough in Ireland, 
although unfortunately the text of the play is not 
recorded. 3 At Castleborough, as in some of the 
Thessalian examples, the interferer is not a member 
of the troop, but a bystander. One remembers that 
the temporary priest-king, slain as a substitute for 
the real one, might be a captured stranger. In 
Epirus, where the inhabitants are mainly Hellenized 
Vlachs, there is a spring revival ceremony without a 
combat. 4 A girl or young boy lies on the ground 
to play Zaphiere. The body is covered with leaves 
and flowers. There is a dirge and Zaphfere leaps up 

1 W. Archer, "Real Conversations, 34. 

2 J. Jackson, Hist, of Scottish Stage (1793), 409, 'in a remote part of 
England', possibly Yorkshire; J. Mactaggart, Scottish Gallovidian Encyclo- 
paedia (ed. 1876), 502 (Galway). 

3 P. Kennedy, Banks of the Boro, 223. 4 A. ofB. S. Athens, xix. 249. 



230 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

amid cries of joy. An attractive modern variant comes 
from Brianfon in Dauphin^. Here a leaf-clad man 
falls asleep and is awakened by the kiss of a maiden. 
A similar custom is known in Russia. 1 I have heard 
of no English parallel, although of course a festival 
King often has his Queen. The notion of a sleep and 
an awakening seems to represent an exercise of mimesis 
distinct from that which joined a death and revival. 
One may fancy it underlying the story of the Sleep- 
ing Beauty. A special study of the English wooing 
episodes has been made by Professor Baskervill, to 
whose learning I am at many points indebted. 2 He 
regards the theme, no less than that of the death and 
revival, as derived from a primitive Indus much like 
that traceable in the Balkans: 

In the grouping and relation of the stock characters and 
in the symbolic rites the plays of the two regions are close 
akin. In both it is customary for a young couple to mate 
and for an old and previously mated pair to play some part 
in connection with this new marriage; for another man, 
often an old man or daemon, to claim the lady or bride, 
though in the English plays it is not clear that this is the 
motive for the slaying, as it is in a number of the Greek; 
and for an old woman to appear with a bastard child, 
though she does not lay claim to the bridegroom in the 
Greek as in the English plays. 

And of the Plough Plays, in particular, he says: 
The constant element in the wooing plays of England 

1 Frazer, Golden Bough*, ii. 92. 

2 Mummers 9 Wooing Plays in England (Modem Philology, xxi. 225); 
The Elizabethan Jig (1929). 



WOOING PLAYS 231 

is the wooing of the 'Lady* by a man who is usually repre- 
sented as old. In all in which the wooing is more than 
a slight fragment he is rejected for another suitor, who is 
usually a young man and the leader of the games, often in 
the r6le of the 'Fool'. In a number, an old woman with a 
child is also rejected. There is little doubt that the rejec- 
tion and marriage symbolize the virgin union of the 
representatives of the new season and the displacement of 
the representatives of the old season. With the wooing 
a renouveau, or slaying and reviving of one of the chief 
characters, is often found in a form that seems to be an 
integral part of the symbolism of the wooing plays. 

And he adds: 

The form peculiar to the wooing plays represents not 
only the rejection of an old person, but the slaying in 
addition. 

Professor Baskervill thinks that the wooing theme, 
passed from the primitive ludus to medieval folk- 
ludt) inspired the caroles and through them various 
forms of literary poetry such as the pastourelles, and 
were continued in the 'pastimes' attributed to 
shepherds and shepherdesses by Elizabethan writers. 
From these it was taken up into the plays and 'jigs' 
of the professional stage, and finally handed back 
by travelling companies to a later folk. But through- 
out it remained prominent in popular songs and 
ballads, including many dialogues in which a girl 
reviews her suitors, and rejects the old for the young 
or the rich for the poor. With the latter part of 
Professor Baskerviirs history, from the caroles on- 
wards, I have no quarrel. Such a double interaction 



232 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

between the folk and the stage is likely enough. 
And the Fool's Wooing, in particular, goes a long 
way back. It is in a scene of Lindesay's early 
sixteenth-century Satyre of the Thrle Estaitis, where 
a Courtier, a Merchant, and a Clerk woo the Auld 
Man's wife Bessy, while he sleeps, but she takes the 
Fool for his personal attractions. 1 It is in the stage 
jig of The Wooing of Nan, printed by Professor 
Baskervill from a late sixteenth-century manuscript, 
where a rejected lover, the 'father's eldest son' of the 
Plough Plays, is already, as in some other perversions 
of the original theme, a 'farmer's son'. 2 It seems 
to be remembered in the induction to The Taming 
of the Shrew. 3 

Lord. This fellow I remember, 

Since once he played a farmer's eldest son : 
'Twas where you woo'd the gentlewoman so well : 
I have forgot your name ; but, sure, that part 
Was aptly fitted and naturally performed. 

Player. I think 'twas Soto that your honour means. 

Here Soto, who has been looked for elsewhere, may 
well, as Professor Baskervill suggests, be the Sotto 
or Fool. It is with the derivation of the caroles from 
the primitive Indus that my doubts come in. There 
is a considerable hiatus. Certainly the caroles con- 
cerned themselves with love and wooing. And 
probably they advanced from song accompanied by 
dance to something very like drama in such themes 

1 Works (ed. D. Hamer), ii. 22, 11. 142-75, 208-37. 

2 Elizabethan Jig, 432. 3 T. ofS. Induction, i. 83. 



WOOING PLAYS 233 

as those of Bele Aelis and Robin and Marion. The 
singing games of children, in which they survive, 
are often more or less dramatic. 1 But the caroles are 
not primarily seasonal performances. No doubt they 
made their appearance at festivals and occasionally 
bear a trace of the regtna avrillosa and herje/os. But 
they were also the amusement of any leisure hour. 
And they were the amusement of girls, who do not 
take part in the ritual Iudi 9 except through their 
androgynous representative. One must not forget, 
moreover, that the mimetic instinct did not operate 
once and for all in primitive days. It is a permanent 
factor in the human make-up, and may have taken 
a fresh start in the caroles, as it obviously did in the 
liturgical drama. The theme of wooing, as Professor 
Baskervill himself points out, is a natural one in any 
age of society. It does not, like the unnatural notion 
of a revival after death, require any such recondite 
explanation as the survival of a fragment of early 
mentality affords. I am sceptical too about the stress 
laid in Professor Baskervill's theory upon the 
antithesis between age and youth as symbolizing the 
replacement of the old by the new year. Apart from 
the undesirability of ascribing to the makers of the 
agricultural ludus a tendency to symbolism which 
really belongs to a philosophic habit of thought, I 
do not feel that either the Balkan Plays or the Plough 

1 Mediaeval Stage, i. 166-72, 188; R. Meyer, J. B&lier, P. Aubry, 
La Chanson de Bele Aelis (1904); A. B. Gomme, Traditional Games 
(1894-8). 

4024 H h 



234 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

Play really observe the pattern which he lays down 
for them. At Haghios Gheorghios it may be in- 
tended that the child should become the Kalogheros 
who marries, but he is the slain and not the slayer, 
and nobody is described as old except the Babo, and 
she is clearly his mother and not a rival of his bride. 
In the very numerous Macedonian and Thessalian 
examples, again, it is not 'often*, but twice only, that 
the Arab or other interferer is said to be old. 1 And 
so too with the Plough Plays. There are fourteen, 
of which two, from Bassingham and Broughton, 
may be of an earlier type than the rest, into all 
of which the recruiting theme is introduced. At 
Bassingham and Broughton and in one other case a 
specifically Old Man is a rejected suitor, but both 
at Bassingham and Broughton he is only one among 
four or five, of whom one other at least, the 'eldest 
son*, must be young. So, of course, must be the 
rejected Recruit of the larger group. The accepted 
Fool is called 'young man* at Bassingham and 
Swinderby and in one other case. In the Revesby 
play, which is on different lines from the normal 
Plough Plays, he is old and the father of sons, who 
become his rivals, although one of them, Pickle 
Herring, is 'old*. Nor is the slaying always of the old. 
There are few of the characters in our plays who do 
not sometimes figure as Agonists. The old Dame Jane 
appears in thirteen of the Plough examples, and in 
three she is killed, not by a young man, but by the 

1 A.B.S. Athens, xvi. 244; xix. 255. 



WOOING PLAYS 235 

equally old Beelzebub. He is himself killed twice, 
but it is the 'young' Fool who is killed at Bassingham. 
The ordinary Mummers' Plays certainly give no 
support to Professor Baskerviirs theory. In them, 
if there is any distinction of age, it is the 'son* who 

It is, no doubt, the Fool 'father* at Revesby. 

own impression is that it is safest to regard the 
divergence of the Plough Plays from the ordinary 
type of Mummers' Play as due to the merging of 
the traditional !udus-motivt of Death and Revival 
with an independent Wooing Play of later origin. 
That the repertory of even the nineteenth-century 
folk was not limited to St. George and the Dragon 
we know from the Shropshire record. The Plough 
Plays, in fact, do not always include a Combat. 
There is none at Broughton and none at Swinderby. 
And from Mumby in Lincolnshire comes a descrip- 
tion, unfortunately without a full text, of a Fool's 
Wooing, which is not called a Plough Play, and 
is said to have been given by Morris dancers in the 
week before Christmas. Here again there was no 
Combat, and part of the dialogue appears to have 
been in prose, between a Tom Fool, a Farmer's Son, 
a Lady or Witch, and a Parson for the wedding. 1 

1 County Folk-Lore, v. 220. 



LIST OF TEXTS 

[The plays, unless otherwise specified, are by Mummers, cer- 
tainly or probably at Christmas. Names of plays or players given 
in the sources are in inverted commas. The references not cited in 
full are to C. R. Baskervill, Mummers' Wooing Plays in England 
(1924, Modern Philology, xxi. 225 mostly from Addl MS. 33418); 
R. Bell, Ancient Poems, Ballads, and Songs of the Peasantry of England 
(1857)5 P. H. Ditdifeld,0/d English Customs (i%()6); J. M. Manly, 
Specimens of the Pre-Shaksperean Drama (1897); C. J. Sharp, The 
Sword Dances of Northern England, i-iii (n.d., 1912, 1913); 
R. J. E. Tiddy, The Mummers' Play (1923); and to Notes and 
Queries, the publications of the English Dialect Society, the Folk- Lore 
Record, Folk- Lore Journal, Folk- Lore and County Folk- Lore of the 
Folk- Lore Society, and the Journal of the English Folk-Dance Society. 
I have to thank Mr. Douglas Kennedy, the Director of that 
Society, for some unprinted versions.] 

BERKSHIRE 

1. Drayton. MS. of Miss Hobson. 

2. Hoe Benham. S. Piggott in F. L. xxxix. 273. 

3. Lockinge. S. Piggott in F. L. xxxix. 271. 

4. Stanford-in-the-Pale. S. Piggott in F. L. xl. 262. 

5. Sunningwell. MS. of Mrs. C. S. Sidgwick. 

6. Swallowfield. Lady Constance Russell, Swallowfield, 336. 

7. Witley. S. Piggott in F. L. xl. 265. 

8. Unlocated. Ditchfield, 310. 

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE 

9. Penn. A. H. Cocks in Records of Bucks, x. 172. 

10. Wooburn. A. H. Cocks in Records of Bucks, ix. 222. 

CHESHIRE 

11. Frodsham. 'Soul-Caking Play' (Nov. i). M. W. Myres in 

F.L. xliii. 97, with photograph. 

12. Halton. 'Soulers' Play' (Nov. i). R. Holland in English Dialect 

Soc. xvi. 506. 



LIST OF TEXTS 237 

CORNWALL 

13. Camborne. 'Christmas Play.' Tiddy, 144. 

14. My/or. 'Play for Christmas.' Tiddy, 148; T. Petering N. Q. 

i. 390. 

15. Unlocated. W. Sandys (Jan Trenoodle), Specimens of Cornish 

Provincial Dialect (1846), and with variants in Christmas 
Carols (1833), 174, and as 'Christmas Play of St. George 
and the Dragon' in Christmastime (1852), 298. 

CUMBERLAND 

1 6. Whitehavenl 'Alexander; or the King of Egypt.' W. Hone, 

Every Day Book (1838), ii. 1646, from chap-book of T. 
Wilson, Whitehaven, practically the same version as that of 
the Newcastle chap-Book. 

17. Unlocated. Easter Pace Egg Play. F. Gordon Browne in 

10 N.Q. vii. 30. 

1 8. Unlocated. 'The Sword-dancers.' S. Piggott in F. L. xl. 272. 

DERBYSHIRE 

19. Brimington. MS. of Mr. J. W. Shipley. 

20. Chesterfield. MS. of Mr. J. W. Shipley. 

21. Church Broughton. S. Piggott in F. L. xl. 268. 

22. Repton. 'Guisers' Play.' S. Piggott in F. L. xl. 270. 

23. Unlocated. Copied by Mr. J. W. Shipley from a local paper. 

24. Unlocated. J. O. Halliwell[-PhillippsJ. Contributions to Early 

English Literature (1849). 

25. Compiled. Christmas. 'George and the Dragon' or 'The Pace 

Egg'. G. John in F. L. xxxii. i8i,from several NE. Derby- 
shire versions, probably including chap-book elements. 

DEVONSHIRE 

26. Bovey Tracey. Tiddy, 157. 

DORSETSHIRE 
27,28. Symondsbury. (a) Before 1874. J. S. Udal in F.L.R. iii. 

92; (b) 1880. J. S. Udal in Somerset and Dorset Notes 

and Queries, ix. 9. 
29. Unlocated. J. S. Udal in F.L.R. iii. 102. 



238 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

DURHAM 

30. Houghton-Ie-Spring. Sword Dance. W. Henderson, Notes on 

the Folk- Lore of the Northern Counties (1879), 67. 

31. SwalwelL 'Sword-dancers' or 'Guizards'. Sharp, i. 72. 

32. Winlaton. Sword Dance. Sharp, iii. 91. 

33. Unlocated. Sword Dance. Bell, 175, from Sir C. Sharpens 

Bishoprlck Garland. 

GLOUCESTERSHIRE 

34. Cinderford. Tiddy, 161. 

35. Icomb. Tiddy, 174. 

36. Kempsford. Tiddy, 248. 

37. Longborough. Tiddy, 180. 

38. Sapperton. Tiddy, 170. 

39. Weston-sub-Edge. Tiddy, 163. 

HAMPSHIRE 

40,41. Burghclere. (a] Tiddy, 185; G. E. P. A. in N.Q. cxlvi. 
436; (b) possibly from Dorset. Tiddy, 189. 

42. Bursledon. Tiddy, 192. 

43. Kingsclere. G. E. P. A. in N.Q. cxlvi. 453. 

44. Overton. 'Johnny Jacks Play/ Tiddy, 195. 

45. St. Mary Bourne. J. Stevens, St. M. B. (1888), 339. 

46. Unlocated. W. C. in 2 N.Q. xii. 493. 

47. Compiled. G. Long, The Folklore Calendar (1930), 222, from 

Overton, Longparish, and other places, with photographs. 

KENT 

48. 'The Seven Champions.' Bearsted. MS. of Miss Coombes. 

HEREFORDSHIRE 

49. Ross. E. M. Leather, Fott- Lore of Herefordshire (191 2), 141. 

LANCASHIRE 

50. Manchester. Easter? 'The Peace Egg.' Chap-book of J. 

Wrigley in B.M. 1077, g. 37 (27), with cuts of characters; 
probably the same version as those noted as bearing imprints 



LIST OF TEXTS 239 

of other booksellers in Manchester (10 N.Q. vii. 32; 
R. Holland, Glossary of Cheshire Words), Rochdale (D. 
Kennedy in 2 J.E.F.D.S. iii. 31), and Preston (12 N.Q. 
i. 390), and substantially the same as that of the Yorkshire 
chap-book (infra). 

51. Satterthwaite and Hawkshead. Pace Egg Play. H. Stone- 

hewer-Cooper, Hawkshead, 334. I have not seen this. 

LEICESTERSHIRE 

52. Lutterworth. W. Kelly, Notices of the Drama at Leicester 

(1865), 53; Manly, i. 292; Mediaeval Stage, ii. 276. 

LINCOLNSHIRE 

53,54. Bassingham. Plough Plays (1823): (a) Men's Play. Bas- 
kervill, 241; (b) Children's Play. Baskervill, 246. 

55. Broughton. Plough Play. 'A Christmas Play' (1824). Basker- 

vill, 250. 

56. Bulky. Plough Play. Tiddy, 237. 

57. Hibaldstow. 'Ploughboys.' C. F. L. v. 178. 

58. Kirmington. 'Plough Jacks' Play.' Tiddy, 254. 

59. Kirton-in-Lindsey. Plough Play. C. F. L. v. 183. 

60. Revesby. 'The Plow Boys, or Morris Dancers.' F.L.J. vii. 

338; Manly, i. 296. 

61. Somerby and Briggs. 'Plough Jaggs.' M. Macnamara in 

Drama, x. 42. 

62. Swinderby. Plough Play (1842). Baskervill, 262. 

63. Unlocated. Plough Play. 'Recruiting Sergent.' Baskervill, 

259. 

64. Unlocated. 'Plough-Jags' Ditties.' C. F. L. v. 182. 

65. Unlocated. Plough Play. C. F. L. v. 176. 

66. Unlocated. Plough Play. H. G. M. Murray- Aynsley in Revue 

des Traditions Populaires, iv. 609. 

MIDDLESEX 

67. Chiswick. G. W. S. Piesse in 2 N.Q. x. 466. 

68. Sudbury. L. F. Newman in F. L. xli. 95. 



240 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE 

69. Badby. 'Mumies.' Tiddy, 222. 

70. Thenford. A. E. Baker, Glossary of N. Words and Phrases 

(1854), 11.429. 

NORTHUMBERLAND 

71. Beadnell. Sword Dance. Sharp, ii. 39. 

72. Earsdon. Sword Dance. 'Morris Dancers.' Sharp, i. 82. 

73. Newcastle! 'Alexander and the King of Egypt. A mock Play, 

as it is acted by the Mummers every Christmas.' W. Sandys, 
Christmastide^ 292, from Newcastle chap-book (1788), 
practically the same version as that of the Whitehaven chap- 
book. 

74. North Walbottle (from Bedlington). Sword Dance. Sharp, 

iii. 103. 

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE 

75,76. Clayworth. (a) Plough Monday. Tiddy, 241; (i) Tiddy, 
246. 

77. Cropwell. Plough Monday. Mrs. Cha worth Musters, A 

Cavalier Stronghold (1890), 388. 

OXFORDSHIRE 

78. Bampton. Ditchfield, 320. 

79. Cuddesdon. 'The Mummers' Act.' Tiddy, 217. 

80. Is/ip. Ditchfield, 316. 

8 1. Kirtlingtonl G. A. Rowell in F.L.J. iv. 97. 

82. Leafield. Tiddy, 214. 

83. Long Hanborough. A. Parker in F. L. xxiv. 86. 

84. Lower Hey ford. 'The Mummers' Performance.' Tiddy, 219. 

85. Shipton-under-Wychwood. 'Bold Robin Hood.' Tiddy, 209. 

86. Thame. F. G. Lee in 5 N.Q. ii. 503; Manly, i. 289. 

87. Waterstock. Tiddy, 206. 

88. Unlocated. Edward Jones, Welsh Bards (1794), 108. 

SHROPSHIRE 

89. Newport. 'Guisers' Play.' G. F. Jackson and C. S. Burne, 

Shropshire Folk- Lor *, 484. 



LIST OF TEXTS 241 

SOMERSETSHIRE 

90. Keynsham. 1822. Baskervill, 268, from J. Hunter's Addi- 

tional MS S. (B.M.), 24542, 24546. 

91. Unlocated. Tiddy, 159. 

92. Unlocated. J. A. Giles, Hampton (i 848), 1 76 (fragments eked 

out by composition from memory). 

STAFFORDSHIRE 

93. Eccleshall. 'Guisers' Play.' C. S. Burne in F.L.J. iv. 350. 

94. Hamstall Ridware. 'The Mummers' Play.' D. Kennedy in 

2 E.F.D. iii. 33. 

95. Stone. W. W. Bladen, Notes on the Fott- Lore of North Staf- 

fordshire. I have not seen this; cf. F. L. xiii. 107. 

SUSSEX 

96. Chithurst. MS. of Mr. Clive Carey. 

97. Cocking. 'Tipteerers' Play.' Tiddy, 200. 

98. Compton. 'Tipteerers' Play.' MS. of Mr. Clive Carey. 

99. Holllngton. 'The Seven Champions.' S. Arnott in 5 N.Q. 

x. 489. 

100. Ovlngdean. Tiddy, 203. 

101. Rogate. 'Tipteerers' Play.' MS. of Mr. Clive Carey. 

102. Selmeston. 'The Mummers' Play.' W. D. Parish, Dictionary 

of the Sussex Dialect (1875), 136. 

103. Steyning. 'Tipteers' or Tipteerers' Play.' F. E. Sawyer in 

F.L.J. ii. i. 

104. West Wittering. 'Tipteers' Play'. J. L. C. Boger in Sussex 

Archaeological Collections > xliv. 178. 

WARWICKSHIRE 

105. Great Wolford. Tiddy, 229. 

1 06. Ilnungton. Tiddy, 226. 

107. 1 08. Newbold. W. H. D. Rouse in F. L. x. 186, with 

variants from Rugby and photographs. 
109. Plllerton. Tiddy, 224. 

WESTMORLAND 
no. Ambleside. Pace Egg Play. D. Kennedy in 2 F.D.S. iii. 36. 

4024 ! i 



242 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

WIGHT, ISLE OF 

in. Unlocated. 'The Christmas Boys.' D. A. Chart in 10 N.Q. 
vi. 481. 

WILTSHIRE 

112. Alton Barnes (from Stanton St. Bernard). D. Kennedy in 

2 F.D.S. iii. 32. 

113. Potteme. 'The Christmas Boys' or 'Mummers'. W.Buchanan 

in Wilts Archaeological Magazine, xxvii. 311. 

114. Stourton. E. E. Balch in Antiquary^ n.s., iv. 380. 

115. Compiled. Wilts Arch. Mag. \. 79, from Avebury, Wootton 

Rivers, and other places. 

WORCESTERSHIRE 

1 1 6. Broadway. A. Taylor in 'Journal of American Folk- Lor e^ 

xxii. 389. 

117. Leigh. Cuthbert Bede in 2 N.Q. xi. 271. 

1 1 8. Malvern. Tiddy, 232. 

YORKSHIRE (East Riding) 

119. Escrick. Sword Dance. Sharp, iii. 19. 

1 20. Ripon. Sword Dance. D. Kennedy in 2 F.D.S. iii. 23. 

YORKSHIRE (North Riding) 

121. Ampleforth. Sword Dance. Sharp, iii. 50. 

122. Arkengarthdale. Sword Dance. M. Karpeles in 2 F.D.S. 

33- 

123. Bellerby. Sword Dance. M. Karpeles in 2 F.D.S. ii. 35. 

124. Coxwold. D. Kennedy in 2 F.D.S. iii. 38. 

1 25. Flamborough. Sword Dance. Sharp, ii. 28. 

1 26. Goathland and Egton. Sword Dance. M. Karpeles and D. 

Kennedy in 2 F.D.S. ii. 475 iii. 27. 

127. Haxby and Wigginton. Sword Dance. Sharp, iii. 86. 

128. Hunton. Sword Dance. M. Karpeles in 2 F.D.S. ii. 42. 

129. North Skelton (from Loftus). Sword Dance. 'Plough Stots.' 

2 F.D.S. i. 28. 

130. Skelton. D. Kennedy in 2 F.D.S. iii. 26. 

131. Sleights. Sword Dance. 'Plough Stots.' Sharp, ii. 13. 



LIST OF TEXTS 243 

YORKSHIRE (West Riding) 

132. Acaster Malbis . 'Mummers' Book for Plough Stottes', written 

on copy of 'The Pace Egg (St. George and the Dragon), 
Joust for (Plough) boys', a Chap-book of William Walker 
and Sons, London and Otley, apparently identical with the 
Leeds Chap-book. D. Kennedy in 2 F.D.S. iii. 27. 

133. Askham Richard. Sword Dance. Sharp, iii. 77. 

134. Grenoside. Sword Dance. 'Morris Dancers.' Sharp, i. 54. 

1 35. Handsworth (from Woodhouse). Sword Dance. Sharp, iii. 37. 

136. Heptonstall. Easter. 'Paceakers' Play/ Tiddy, 234. 

137. Kirkby Malzeard. Sword Dance. Sharp, i. 37. 

138. Leeds. 'Peace Egg.' F. W. Moorman in Essays and Studies 

(English Association), ii. 134, from chap-book sold in 
Leeds and other towns, clearly the same version as that of 
J. O. Halliwell[-Phillipps], Popular Rhymes (1849), 2 3 X > 
and that of the Lancashire chap-books (supra). 

139. Linton-in-Craven. Sword Dance. Bell, 181. 

140. Midgley. 'Pace Egg'. Easter. Adapted from no. 138. Hali- 

fax Courier and Guardian^ March 28 and April 4, 1931. 

141. Sower by. Sword Dance. M. Karpeles in 2 F.D.S. ii. 43. 

142. Wharf edale. Sword Dance. Bell, 172. 

143. Unlocated. Sword Actors. 'The Seven Champions.' De- 

scribed, with photographs, by T. M. Fallow, Antiquary, 
xxxi. 1 38, as distinct from 'The Pace Egg'. 

WALES 

144. Tenby. R. Chambers, Book of Days (1864), ii. 739, from 

Tales and Traditions of Tenby. 

MAN, ISLE OF 

145. Unlocated. 'The White Boys' Play' (1845). S. Piggott in 

F. L. xL 273. 

IRELAND 

146. Ballybrennan (Wexford). P. Kennedy, Dublin University 

Magazine, Ixii. 584, and The Banks of the Boro y 226. 



244 THE ENGLISH FOLK-PLAY 

147, 148. Belfast, (a) W. H. Patterson, 'The Christmas Rhymes' 
in 4 N.Q. x. 487, from a chap-book; (b) Tiddy, 141, 
probably from The New Christmas Rhyme Book, a 
chap-book of J. Nicholson, Belfast. 

149. Braganstown (Louth). B. Jones in F. L. xxvii. 304. 

150. Dundalk (Louth). B. Jones in F. L. xxvii. 302. 

SCOTLAND 

151. Falkirk (Stirling). Hogmanay (New Year's Eve). W. Hone, 

Every Day Book (1838), ii. 18. 

152. Fife. Description in C. F. L. vii. 144. 

153. Papa Stour (Shetland). Sword Dance. Mediaeval Stage^ ii. 

271, from W. Scott, The Pirate (1821). 

154. Peebles. R. Chambers, Popular Rhymes of Scotland (1870), 

165. 

155. Roxburgh. Description by J. Curie in Times Literary Supple- 

ment (26 Nov. 1931). 

156. Stirling. 'Guisards.' [J. Maidment], Galations (c. 1815). 

UNLOCATED 

157. Sharpens London Magazine^ i (1846), 154. 

158. Archaeologist^ i. 176. H. Sleight, A Christmas Pageant Play 

or Mysterie of St. George^ Alexander and the King of Egypt. 
This is said to be 'compiled from and collated with several 
curious ancient black-letter editions'. I have never seen or 
heard of a 'black-letter' edition, and I take it that the 
improbable title is Mr. Sleight's own. 

159. Sword Dance. K. Mullenhoff, Festgaben fur G. Homey er 

(1871), 138, from Ausland (1857), no. 4, f. 81. 



SUBJECT INDEX 



A etc on and Diana 9 38. 

'Activity', 17. 

Agonist, 23, 220, 225. 

Agricultural ritual, 216-24. 

Almidor, 175. 

Amplefortk Play, 131-50. 

Antagonist, 23, 226. 

Anthony, 88, 98, 122, 175, 177. 

Apology, 38. 

Armour, 84. 

Arthur, 150. 

Ashes, 206, 209, 212, 220. 

Babo, 206, 223. 

Bacubert, 205. 

Balkan parallels, 206-10. 

Ballads, 180. 

Banners, 124. 

Bartholomew Fair, 184. 

Basque masquerade, 198. 

Bassingham Play, 91-8. 

Bastard, 100, 206, 210, 224, 230. 

Beating, 89, 206, 208, 220. 

Beelzebub, 14, 33, 63, 65, 85, 102, 

164, 193. 
Beggars, 125. 
Beheading game, 161. 
Bells, 86, 126, 151, 164, 174, 191, 

202, 206, 208, 209, 210, 22O. 

Besom Betty, 101, 125. 

Bessy, 88, 90, 125, 131, 152, 232. 

Big Head, 63, 163, 227. 

Black Prince of Paradise, 28, 85, 

177. 
Blackening, 70, 85, 90, 127, 151, 

164, 199, 200, 210, 220, 227. 

Bladders, 86, 90, 127, 152. 
Blessings, 21, 70, 207, 209, 220. 
BIyssed Sacrament, 169. 
BIy the some Wedding, 103. 
Bride, 69, 87, 208, 209. 



Buffpns, 151, 205. 

Burial, 62, 1 50. 

Buxom Joan, 100. 

Bystanders, 39, 130, 209, 219, 229. 

Call for Doctor, 38, 51. 

Calling on rhymes, 23, 127, 202, 

203. 

Captain Collier, 3 1 . 
Caroles, 231. 
Carols, 70. 

Carrying out, 61, 165. 
Carrying out of Death, 159, 197. 
Cervulus, 216. 

Chap-books, n, 38, 61, 179. 
Cheese Monday, 206. 
Christmas his Masque, 193. 
Cicely, 100, 121. 
Cleodolinda, 172. 
Clergyman as Agonist, 130. 
Clown, 14, 125. 
Cockaigne, 49, 53, 150, 213. 
Combatants, 23-33, 59 IOI 
Conflation of texts, n, 60, 149. 
Costume, 83-7, 90, 126, 216. 
Crane, TOO. 
Crop charms, 197, 205, 208, 213 

217. 

Cure, 41, 51-9, 61, 103, 129. 
Curly, 32, 152. 

Dance, 70, 121, 123, 129, 199, 

207, 211, 228. 
Degollada, 205. 
Devil Dout, 14, 67, 180. 
Devils, 164, 210. 
Dionysus, 222. 
Diphilo and Granida, 71. 
Dispute, 33-8. 
Doctor, 41, 50, 130, 156, 169, 194, 

209, 225. 



SUBJECT INDEX 



Dolls, 87, 101, 210. 

Dorset plays, 88. 

Doubling of parts, 82. 

Douting fire, 67, 212. 

Dr. Faustus, 121, 191. 

Dr. Ironbeard, 198. 

Dragon, 29, 57, 84, 86, 87, 121, 

177, 191, 204. 

Drama, Greek origin of, 224. 
Dulle, 157. 

Ecclesiastical prohibitions, 160, 2 1 5, 

227. 

Eesum Squeezum, 102. 
Elecampane, 55. 
Eyelet holes, 35. 

Faerie Quecne, 174, 176. 

Fair Rosamond, 82. 

Famous History of St. George, 183. 

Farmer's Son, 23, 101, 232, 235. 

Father Christmas, 14, 20, 22, 39, 

83* 99> J 93- 
Flies, 35. 
Folk rhymes, 63, 66, 69, 70, 71, 

100, 103, 104,231. 
Fool, 14, 90, 99, 121, 125, 152, 

180, 191, 202, 225. 
Fool's Wooing, 91, 98, 103, 121, 

232,235. 
Forthdrove, 160. 
Frightening girls, 200, 215. 

Galatian, 31. 
Grcensleeves, 70. 
Guisers, 4, 226. 
Gunpowder Day, 104. 

Haghios Gheorghios, 206. 

Hairy caps, 32, 85, 90, 126, 191, 

2O6, 2IO. 

Handkerchiefs, 151. 
Handsom 9 Woman, 104. 
Head-dress, 83, 85, 126. 
Hector, 33, 60, 125, 131. 
Hildebrand, 203. 



Hind-before, 14, 19, 227. 
History in plays, 22, 24, 27, 31, 69, 

82, 87, 127. 
Hobby animals, 58, 88, 100, 103, 

121, 124, 131, 152, 187, 199, 

210, 212. 

Hock Pky, 1 54. 

Hoodening, 214. 

Horn dance, 152. 

Humps, 65, 87, 89, 90, 210, 225. 

Hunting of the wren, 66. 

Impudence, 48, 162, 193. 
Infallible Mountebank^ 53. 
'Iron and steel', 7, 33, 102, 120, 
178. 

Jack, 14, 58, 63, 65, 68, 87, 90. 
Jack Finney, 14, 33, 50, 57-9, 68, 

103, 162, 193, 213. 
Jack hare dispute, 88. 
Jack of Lent, 1 53-60, 194. 
Jamaica, 36, 102. 
Jane, 100, 122,224,234. 
Jigs, 3770, 231. 
Johnny Funny, 14, 68. 
Johnson, Richard, 174, 179, 183, 

192. 

Judas, 69. 
Julius Caesar, 98. 

Kalogheroi, 206. 

King, 125, 152, 1 60, 202, 208, 219, 

225. 
King Henry Fifth's Conquest of 

France, 82. 
King of Egypt, 22, 33, 38, 85, 88, 

177,184,225. 
Kirke, John, 184. 
Kirmess, 204. 
Kostf, 208. 

Lady on the Mountain, 104. 
Lament, 38-41, 102, 207. 
Leaf costume, 84. 
Liknites, 206, 223, 224. 



SUBJECT INDEX 



247 



Lindsey Court, 92. 

Literary rehandling, 12, 87, 88, 

123. 

Localities, 3, 89, 123, 211, 236-44. 
Lock, 129,228. 
Looking-glass, 83, 121, 126, 129, 

216. 

Lord of Misrule, 156, 193. 
Love for Love, 149. 
Ludus, 1 60, 211, 215, 216, 230, 

233- 

Machyn, Henry, 155. 

Masks, 83, 85, 164, 191, 200, 206, 

208, 209, 210. 
Mattachins, 151, 205. 
Mercator, 166. 
Mimetic instinct, 217, 221, 224, 

230. 

Mince pie, 22, 33, 36. 
Miracle plays, 1 6 1, 164, 174, 194. 
Misogonus, 104. 
Mock Doctor, 186. 
Molly, 15, 22,68. 
Morality plays, 162, 164. 
Morocco King, 28, 177. 
Morrisdances, 5, 87, 90, 120, 1 50- 
"""' 53, 15^211,235. 
'Mr/, 58. 

Mucedorus, 38, 49, 56, 190, 191. 
Music, 70, 125. 
My lor Play, 71-83. 

Nachtanzer, 202. 

Napkins, 83. 

Napoleonic wars, 31, 127, 154. 

Nomenclature, 4, 226. 

Normalized Mummers' Play, 6-13. 

Nut, 129. 

Okus Magnus, 202. 



Ooser, 214. 

Qrchisographie, 151, 205. 
Owd Lass of Coverditt> 126. 



Pace Egg, 4, 5, 70, 179,214. 

Patches, agricultural, 90, 1 24. 

Pfingstl, 197. 

Pickle Herring, 121. 

Plough, 90, 100, 124, 207, 220. 

Plough Monday, 90, 124, 128. 

Plough plays, 4, 89-104, 124, 230. 

Pope, Alexander, 184. 

Presentation, 13-23, 99, 127, 193. 

Press-gang, 66. 

Priest-King, 218, 225. 

Projections, 14, 22, 33. 

Ptolomy, 175, 184. 

Punch, 86. 

Pyrenean Bear, 200, 215. 

Queen, 125, 149, 152, 160. 
Qutte, 17, 21, 63-71, 90, 103, 125, 
159, 163, 207, 209, 214, 220. 

Ransom, 130. 

Rapper, 126. 

Recruiting Serjeant, 99. 

Red Faces, 14, 33, 85. 

Reproach, 38. 

Repudiation, 39, 129, 150. 

Revesby Play, 104-23, 225. 

Reynolds, Robert, 122. 

Rhyme persistence, 10, 15, 18, 26, 

6 4 . 

Ribboners, 100. 

Robin Hood, 1 1, 89, 152,156, 161, 

173, 187. 
Rodney, 152. 

'Room', 15, 1 6, 22, 33, 127. 
Rose, 129, 202, 203. 
Rustic paradox, 48, 163. 

Sabra, 24, 69, 83, 175, 179, 181. 

Sabrine, 181, 184. 

Sacrifice, 219. 

Sambo, 14, 33,60, 82. 

Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis, 169, 

232. 
Seasons, 4, 90, 124, 152, 159, 198, 

221,233. 



248 



SUBJECT INDEX 



Secrecy, 127, 226. 

Settle, Elkanah, 184. 

Seven Champions, 174-85. 

Sexual rites, 207, 220, 224, 229. 

Shaving, 200, 228. 

Shield, 129. 

Shropshire plays, 191. 

Singing Simpkin, 37. 

Sir Bevis of Hampton, 172, 175, 178. 

Sir G amain and the Green Knight, 

161. 
Skin costume, 84, 90, 125, 200, 

208, 209, 216, 225. 
Sksher, 14, 28, 34, 102, 177. 
Smith, Will, 184. 
Snapdragon, 174. 
Social types, 128, 203. 
Soldan, 157,175. 

Son-ship, 15, 22, 39, 88, 121, 225. 
Soto, 232. 
Soulers, 5. 

Sowing, 208, 220, 224. 
Spectacles, 83, 127,227. 
Squire, 152. 
Squire's son, 128. 
St. Anthony, 175, 177. 
St. Benedict, 99. 
St. George, 17, 23, 86, 101, 156, 

170-85, 191, 192, 194, 204. 
St. Meriasek, 169. 
St. Nicholas, 204. 
St. Patrick, 31, 88, 182. 
Stage-plays, 17, 33, 37, 98, 100, 

103, 121,184, 185-92,231. 
Staves, 151. 
Sterkader, 204. 

Strip costume, 83-5, 126, 210. 
Sub-presenters, 22, 99. 
Sun, 40, 102, 120. 
Sweeping, 19, 23, 67, 101, 125, 

131, 208, 2ii. 
jword dances, 33, 70, 120, 123- 

""*"" jl, WU-UJf-207, 211. 



Tails, 85, 125, 126, 152, 174, 202, 

209, 210. 

Taming of the Shrew \ 232. 
Texts, 154,236-44. 
Theatre of Compliments, 184. 
Tipteerers, 4. 
Tom, 125, 128. 

Tooth-drawing, 30, 57, 204, 228. 
Topsy-turvydom, 48. 
Travels of Doctor, 52, 103. 
Turk, 156. 

Turkish Knight, 27, 33, 86, 177. 
Twing Twang, 33, 66, 99. 

Uniform, 83, 126. 

Valentine and Orson, 33, 191. 
Vice, 164, 193. 
Visitatio Sepulchri, 165. 
Vortanzer, 202. 

West European parallels, 197-205. 
Weston-Sub-Edge Play, 41-50. 
When Joan's Ale Was New, 69. 
White shirts, 83, 90, 1 26. 
Wild man, 197. 
Wild Worm, 121. 
Wills, 121, 150. 
Wily Beguiled, 98, 122. 
Witch, 102, 212, 235. 



Women, 5, 15, 22, 38, 57, 58, 68, 
90, 100, 121, 125, 128, 152, 
153, 194, 206, 217, 220, 225. 

Woody Garius, 125, 131. 

Wooing, 70, 9 1 -i 04, 121, 229-35. 

Wooing of Nan, 232. 

Worthies, 203. 

Young, Edward, 185. 
Young Roger of the Mill, 100. 
Youth, 122. 



131 142