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Morris Dancers' play Fragment from Mumby - 1890

W. Henry Jones (1890)


Time of Occurrence: 
Collective name: 
Morris Dancers


W. Henry Jones
Jan.1890, Vol.II, No.1, pp.19-23


Tom Fool
Farmer's Son


{The week before Christmas the morris dancers used to come round. There were several actors: 1st, Tom Fool, dressed in imitation rags and tatters, with big yellow letters T and F on his back; 2nd, the lady (or witch) a man dressed in hat and veil and gaudy sash round the waist; 3rd, a fiddler, generally dressed in a red coat; 4th, the farmer's son, a bit of a dandy; and two others, dressed "a bit comical." When the party came to a house they proposed visiting, Tom Fool went in and said:-}

[Tom Fool]

"Here comes I that's niver been yet,
With my great head and little wit,
A noa what my wife en me likes best,
En we'll hev it too: a leg ev a lark, en the limb of a loose,
En cut a great thumpin' toast offen a farden loaf."

{If Tom Fool saw that he was welcome, they all came in and sat down, Tom Fool taking care to be near the lady, whom he courted with much palaver and "dittiment"; there sweet converse was then stopped by the farmer's son, who began to court the fair dame, telling her "she mun niver tek up wi' a critter like that," as he could never keep her, &c. So poor Tom Fool got the sack, and went and stood in a corner and openly bewailed his hard fate. After a bit the farmer's son moved off, and Tom Fool came back and declared if she would only have him she "sud ha' bacon fliks, and flour I' th' bin, en ivverything, if we wain't take tek notice a' that chap wi' his ruffles and danglements." At last they agreed to marry, which ceremony was performed in a corner, one of the actors being parson. The wedding was then celebrated in dance and song; after that, bread, cheese, beer, &c., was given to the players who then retired and went elsewhere to "say their piece." The songs I have not been able to get hold of, but appear to have been variable and dependent on the original actor's taste.}