Location: Potterne, Wiltshire, England (ST9958)
Year: Perf. 1876 to 1890
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: Christmas Boys, Mummers


Walter Buchanan
"The Christmas Boys" or "Mummers"
Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, Jun.1894, Vol.27, No.81, pp.311-314




{As used and spoken at Potterne between the years 1876 and 1890.}


[Father Christmas]

"Here comes I, old Father Christmas,
Christmas or Christmas not
I hope old Father Christmas will never be forgot.
Roast beef, plum pudding, and minced pies,
Who do like that better'n thee and I?
A jug of your Christmas ale will make us merry, whistle, dance and sing
Money in our pockets is a very fine thing.
Room! Room! ladies and gentlemen, let King George come in!


[King George]

Here comes I, King George,
King George, the man of courage bold,
With my sword and spear in my hand I won three crowns of gold.
'Twere I slew the dragon
And brought him to the slaughter,
And I hope I shall maintain the King of Egypt's daughter. [Note 1]
And now let old Turkey Snipe clear the way.


[Turkish Knight]

Here comes I, old Turkey snipe,
Come from the holy Turkey land to fight.
I challenge thee. King George, the man of courage bold ;
If thy blood's hot I soon will make it cold.

{They fight, TURKISH KNIGHT falls.}

King George

Is there a doctor to be found
To cure this man lying blooding on the ground?


[Spanish Doctor]

Yes, I'm a doctor newly come from Spain,
I have a bottle by my side
The fame of which spreads far and wide;
It cures the sick of every pain,
And raises the dead to life again.

King George

Pray, Doctor, what is thy fee?

Spanish Doctor

Fifteen, guineas is my fee,
But ten pound I will take of thee.

{KING GEORGE gives him the money.)}


Here comes I, the Spanish Doctor,
I'll cure thee the biggest bellied man that ever rose from dead to life again
{He holds bottle to TURKISH KNIGHT'S mouth.}
Rise, Turkish snipe {he rises} .

{All join hands and! sing.}


Once we was wounded and now we're brought to life;
We sent for the doctor who brought us all to life ;
So we'll all shake hands and we'll never fight no more,
But we'll live like brothers and sisters the same as we was before.
Before before before my boys before, for
We'll live like brothers and sisters the same as we was before.

King George

If you don't believe in what I say
Let old Almanick clear the way.

{Enter OLD ALMANACK [Note 2]}

[Old Almanack]

Here comes I, old Almanick,
With my girt head and little wit.
Though my wit is but small
Yet I'm the best man 'mongst ye all.
My knuckle bones are very hard,
Pray Doctor, come and feel {DOCTOR feels}


Yes, thy bones are very hard,
I think thou be'est a girt blackguard.
Room! Room! Let the valiant soldier clear the way.


[Valiant Soldier]

Here comes I, the Valiant Soldier,
Cuterman Slasherman [Note 3] is my name:
All through these cold wars I lately came.
I and seven more stood the battle of 'leven score.
What man stands there wi' his sword in his hand?
I'll actually cut him and slash him as small as dust,
And send him to the pastrycook's shop to make minced pie-crust.


King George

Is there a doctor to be found
To cure this man lying blooding on the ground?

Valiant Soldier

Yes, I'm a doctor pure and good,
A little o' my physic 'll do he good.
{He hits FATHER CHRISTMAS three thumps on the back [Note 4] with the fiat of his sword, saying}
Rise, Father Christmas.
{All join hands across and sing, as before.}
Once we was wounded, &c.

Val. Sol.

If you don't believe in what I say
Let Little Man Jack clear the way.

{Enter LITTLE MAN JACK Note 5}

[Little Man Jack]

Here comes I, Little Man Jack,
Wi' all my family at my back.
Out o' 'leven I got but seven,
Half of they be gone to heaven;
Out of seven I got but five,
Half of they be starved alive. [Note 6]
Out of five I got but three
Half of they be gone to sea.
Out of three I got but two,
And where they'm gone to I can't tell you.
If you don't believe in what I say
Let Little Man John. clear the way.


[Little Man John]

Here comes I, Little Man John,
If any man'll fend I let'n come on."


Buchanan's Footnotes:

1. "An old man (81) tells me that the right line is, 'And for that fair deed I do maintain the great King William's daughter'; but the 'King of Egypt's' is historically right, I believe. But this reading is much the best and oldest.
2. "I suspect that Almanack ought to change speeches (not place) with Little Man Jack. Then I think that the eleven children of Almanack ought to refer to the months (up to December) and Little Man John (who is really the devil) then comes and fetches away the 'girt blackguard.' But this it only conjecture."
3. "Corruption of 'Cut them and slash them.'"
4. "Father Christmas wears a cushion on his back as a hump."
5. "Little Man Jack wears a row of dolls strung on his back."
6. "Query - does 'starved alive' mean 'frozen to death.' I have been told it does."

File History:

2002-02-20 - Scanned, OCRed and encoded by Peter Millington
2004-06-16 - Minor corrections by Peter Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


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