Location: Mid-Berkshire, Berkshire, England (SU----)
Year: Publ. 1888
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: Mummers


A Glossary of Berkshire Words and Phrases
London, Trubner, 1888, pp.17-22



{The Play of the "Mummers,"}

{As acted in Mid-Berkshire at Christmas-tide.}

{The Mummers having arrived, singing is heard outside the house.}


[Verse 1]
God bless the Me-uster of this house,
I hopes he is athin-
An' if he is praay tell us zo
An' we ull zoon begin.
[Chorus] With hey dum dum,
With hey dum dum de derry;
Vor we be come this Christmas time
A purpose to be merry.
[Verse 2]
I hopes the Misteress is athin
An' zettin' by the vire
A pityin' we poor mummers yer
Out in the mud an' mire.
[Chorus] With hey dum dum,
With hey dum dum de derry;
Vor we be come this Christmas time
A purpose to be merry.
[Verse 3]
We dwoant come yer but once a year,
An' hopes 'tis no offence;
An' if it is praay tell us zo
An' we 'ull zoon go hence.
[Chorus] With hey dum dum,
With hey dum dum de derry;
Vor we be come this Christmas time
A purpose to be merry.

{Then permission and invitation being given, MOLLY first enters the kitchen or hall (where the spectators are assembled) with a hop, step and jump, and flourishing an old broom, or walking round at times pretending to sweep with it, sings - }

{First Character.}


A room, a room, I do presume
For me an' my braayve men;
For we be come this Christmas time
To maayke a little rhyme.
An' yer we comes at Christmas time,
Welcome or welcome not,
Hoping awld Veyther Christmas
Ull never be vorgot.
Laast Christmas daay I turned the spit,
Burned my vingers an' veels on't it. [Footnote 1]
A spark vlew awver the staayble,
The skimmer hit the laaydle.
Ah! zes the Gridiron caan't you two agree,
I be the Justice bring 'em avoor me,
An' now we shows activity of youth, activity of aayge,
Zuch actin' you never zee upon another staayge,
An' if e' wunt belave what I hev had to zaay,
Walk in bawld KING GAARGE an' clear the waaye -

{King Gaarge enters.}

{Second Character.}

King George

I be KING GAARGE a nawble Knight,
I lost zum blood in English vight;
I keer not vor Spaniard, Vrench, nor Turk,
Wher's the man as can do I hurt?
An' if bevoor muh he durs stan',
I'll cut un down wi' this deadly han'
I'll cut un an' slash un as small as vlies,
An' zend un to the cook-shop to maayke mince pies,
And zo let all yer vices zing,
As I'm the Royal British King.

{Enter French Officer.}

{Third Character.}

French Officer

I be a bowld Vrench Officer,
Beau Slasher is my naayme,
An' by my sharp zoord at my zide,
I hopes to win the gaayme;
My body's lined wie lead,
My head is maayde of steel,
An' I am come vrom Turkish land,
To vight thee in the vield.

King George

Oh, Slasher, Slasher dwooant thee be too hot,
For in this room thee'll mind who thee hast got,
Zo to battle, to battle, let thee an' I try,
To zee which on the ground vust shall lie.

{They fight, their swords clapping together with great noise. After a little fighting the French Officer hits King George on the leg and down he falls.}


Doctor, doctor, maayke no delaay,
But maayke thee haayste an' come this waay.
Doctor, doctor, wher bist thee,
King Gaarge is wounded [Footnote 2] in the knee,
Ten pound if that nawble DOCTOR was yer.

{DOCTOR thereupon comes in.}

{Fourth Character.}


I be the nawble Doctor Good,
An' wi' my skill I'll stop his blood,
My vee's ten pound, but awnly vive,
If I dwoant raaise this man alive,
{Feels his pulse, shakes his leg, and then says-}
This man be not quite dead see how his leg shaaykes,
An' I've got pills as cures all ills,
The itch, the stitch, the palsy an' the gout,
Paains 'athin an' paains 'athout,
An' any awld 'ooman dead zeven year,
If she got one tooth left to crack one o' theuz yer.
{He then holds up the box, shakes it ot trattle the pills, and finally opening it, takes a large one out and stuffs it into King George's mouth, saying -}
Rise up King Gaarge, an' vight agaain,
An' see which on 'e vust is slaain.

{King George jumps up forthwith into attitude to fight: this time they fight longer, and with even more clattering of swords - at length King George hits the French Officr, who falls down flat.}


Doctor, doctor, do thy part,
This man is wounded [Footnote 3] to the heart;
Doctor, can 'e cure this man.


No, I zees 'e's too vur gan.


Then walk in Jack Vinny.

{Jack Vinny enters.}

{Fifth Character.}

Jack Vinny

My naayme is not Jack Vinny
My naayme is Mr. John Vinny,
A man of faayme, come from Spaain,
Do moor nor any man agaain.


Well, what can'st thou do, Jack?

Jack Vinny

Cure a magpie wi' the tooth-aayche.



Jack Vinny

Cut his yead off an' draw [Footnote 4] his body into the ditch.


Well, cure this man.

Jack Vinny

If he 'ull taayke one drap out o' my drug bottle,
Which is one pennorth o' pigeon's milk,
Mixed wi' the blood of a gracehopper,
An' one drap o' the blood of a dyin' donkey,
Well shaayken avoor taayken;
I'll be bound 'e 'ull rise up an' vight no moor -
Gie I my Spectacles!
{Is handed a pair of wooden spectacles.}
Gie I my Pliers!
{Is handed a large-sized pair of pliers, with which, making much parade, he proceeds to draw one of the French Officer's teeth, and at length exhibiting a large horse's tooth.}
Yer's a tooth enough to kill any man,
But he 'ull cure this man;
I comes vrom Spaain an' thee vrom France,
Gie us they hand, rise up an' dance.

{French officer rises. The two then execute a dance.}


Walk in, Happy Jack.

{Happy Jack comes in.}

{Sixth Character.}

Happy Jack

I be poor awld Happy Jack,
Wie wife an' vamly at my back;
Out o' nine I yent but vive,
An' hafe o' thaay be sturved alive.
Roast be-uf, plum pudden an' mince pie.
Who likes them ther better 'n I.
The roo-ads be dirty, my shoes be bad,
Zo plee-uz put zummut into my bag.


Come in, Veyther Beelzebub,
Who on thy shawlder cars a club,
Under thee erm a drippin' pan,
Bent 'e now a jolly awld man.

{Enter Beelzebub.}

{Seventh Character.}


Yer comes I as yent bin 'it [Footnote 5]
Wie my gurt 'yead an' little wit;
My yead's zo big an' my wits zo small,
Zo I brings my Viddle to plaaze 'e all.

{Commences to play on the fiddle, and all dance a reel, from which Molly walks out to collect from the lookers on.}


Lowsley's Dramatis Personae:

"Molly: A stalwart man, dressed in woman's gown, shawl, and bonnet, with a besom in hand, with ludicrous, imitation of a woman's voice.
King George: A big man dressed as a knight with home-made helmet, sword, &c.
French Officer: A thin man with cocked-hat, sword, epaulettes, and uniform.
Doctor: Arrayed in very long tail coat, with pig tail, knee breeches, &c.
Jack Vinny: Dressed as a jester, and with a kind of tall fool's cap.
Happy Jack: In tattered garments.
Old Beelzebub: As Father Christmas."

Lowsley's Footnotes:

No.1: "i.e., of it yet."
No.2: "Pronounced to rhyme with 'sounded.'"
No.3: "Pronounced to rhyme with 'sounded.'"
No.4: "i.e., throw."
No.5: "i.e., yet."

Lowsley's Notes:

"The foregoing is the rendering of the MUMMERS' PLAY, generally given in Mid-Berkshire, but the Mummers of most parishes have slight variations..."
[For Lowsley's notes on these variations, see B.Lowsley (1888) pp.21-22.]

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2000-10-08 - Scanned & OCRed by P.Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


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