J.H.Ewing (1884)


Location: town
Time of Occurrence
Collective name
Mummers, Mumming


Source author
Source title
A Christmas Mumming Play
Source publication
Jan.1884, Vol.3, pp.155-173


Saladin / Giant
King / King of Egypt
Prince / Prince of Paradine
Turkish Knight
Slasher / Valiant Slasher
Father Christmas
Little Page
Little Man Jack
Sabra / Princess Sabra / Egyptian Princess
Dame Dolly




{Written expressly for all Mummers, to commemorate the Holy Wars, and the happy Festival of Christmas.}

{Enter FOOL}


Good morrow, friends and neighbours dear,
We are right glad to meet you here,
Christmas comes but once a year,
But when it comes it brings good cheer,
And when it's gone it's no longer near.
May luck attend the milking-pail,
Yule logs and cakes in plenty be,
May each blow of the thrashing-flail
Produce good frumenty.
And let the Wassail Cup abound,
Whene'er the mummers' time comes round

{Air, "Le Petit Tambour."}

{Sings} Now all ye jolly mummers
Who mum in Christmas time,
Come join with me in chorus,
Come join with me in rhyme.

{He has laid his bauble over his shoulder, and it is taken by ST.GEORGE, who is followed by all the other actors, each laying his sword over his right shoulder and his left hand on the sword-point in front of him, and all marking time with their feet till the circle is complete, when they march round singing the chorus over and over again.}


And a mumming we will go, will go,
And a mumming we will go,
With a bright cockade in all our hats,
we'll go with a gallant show.

{Disperse, and stand aside.}



Here comes I, old Father Christmas;
Welcome, or welcome not,
I hope poor old Father Christmas
Will never be forgot!
My head is white, my back is bent,
My knees are weak, my strength is spent.
Eighteen hundred and eighty-three
Is a very great age for me.
And if I'd been growing all these years
What a monster I should be!
Now I have but a short time to stay,
And if you don't believe what I say
Come in, Dame Dolly, and clear the way.



Here comes I, little Dame Dolly,
Wearing smart caps in all my folly.
If any gentleman takes my whim,
I'll set my holiday cap at him.
To laugh at my cap would be very rude;
I wish you well, and I won't intrude.
Gentlemen now at the door do stand,
They will walk in with drawn swords in hand,
And if you don't believe what I say
Let one Fool and four knights from the British Isles come in and clear the way!

{Enter FOOL and four Christian knights.}


{shaking his bells at intervals}.

Room, room, brave gallants, give us room to sport,
For to this room we wish now to resort:
Resort, and to repeat to you our merry rhyme,
For remember, good sirs, that this is Christmas time.
The time to make mince-pies doth now appear,
So we are come to act our merriment in here,
At the sounding of the trumpet, and beating of the drum,
Make room, brave gentlemen, and let our actors come.
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.
Stand forth, St.George, thou champion, and clear the way.

{Trumpet sounds for ST.GEORGE.}

{SAINT GEORGE stands forth and walks up and down with sword on shoulder.}


I am St.George, from good Old England sprung,
My famous name throughout the world hath rung,
Many bloody deeds and wonders have I shown,
And made false tyrants tremble on their throne.
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 captive free.
Far have I roamed, oft have I fought, and little do I rest;
All my delight is to defend the right, and succour the opprest.
And now I'll slay the Dragon bold, my wonders to begin;
A fell and fiery Dragon he, but I will clip his wing.
I'll clip his wings, he shall not fly,
I'll rid the land of him, or else I'll die.

{Enter THE DRAGON, with sword over his shoulder.}


Who is it seeks the Dragon's blood,
And calls so angry and so loud?
That English dog who looks so proud
If I could catch him in my claw
With my long teeth and horrid jaw,
Of such I'd break up half a score,
To stay my appetite for more.
Marrow from his bones I'd squeeze,
And suck his blood up by degrees.

{ST. GEORGE and THE DRAGON fight. The DRAGON is killed. Exit DRAGON.}


I am St.George, that worthy champion bold,
And with my sword and spear I won three crowns of gold.
I fought the fiery Dragon and brought him to the slaughter,
By which behaviour I won the favour of the King of Egypt's daughter.
Thus I have gained fair Sabra's hand, who long had won her heart.
Stand forth, Egyptian Princess, and boldly act thy part!



I am the Princess Sabra, and it is my delight,
My chiefest pride, to be the bride of this gallant Christian knight.

{ST.GEORGE kneels and kisses her hand. FOOL advances and holds up his hands over them.}


Why here's a sight will do any honest man's heart good,
To see the Dragon-slayer thus subdued!

{ST.GEORGE rises. Exit SABRA.}


Keep thy jests in thy pocket if thou would'st keep thy head on thy shoulders.
I love a woman, and a woman loves me,
And when I want a fool I'll send for thee.
If there is any man but me
Who noxious beasts can tame,
Let him stand forth in this gracious company,
And boldly tell his name.

{ST.GEORGE stands aside.*}

{Trumpet sounds for ST.PATRICK.}

{ST.PATRICK stands forth.}


I am St.Patrick from the bogs,
This truth I fain would learn ye,
I banished serpents, toads, and frogs,
From beautiful Hibernia.
I flourished my shillelah
And the reptiles all ran races,
And they took their way into the sea,
And they've never since shown their faces.



I am black Prince of Paradine, born of high renown,
Soon will I fetch thy lofty courage down.
Cry grace, thou Irish conqueror of toads and frogs,
Give me thy sword, or else I'll give thy carcase to the dogs.


Now, Prince of Paradine, where have you been?
And what fine sights pray have you seen?
Dost think that no man of thy age
Dares such a black as thee engage?
Stand off, thou black Morocco dog, or by my sword thou'lt die,
I'll pierce thy body full of holes, and make thy buttons fly.

{They fight. THE PRINCE OF PARADINE is slain.}


Now Prince of Paradine is dead,
And all his joys entirely fled,
Take him and give him to the flies,
That he may never more come near my eyes.



I am the King of Egypt, as plainly doth appear;
I am come to seek my son, my only son and heir.


He's slain! That's the worst of it.


Who did him slay, who did him kill,
And on the ground his precious blood did spill?


I did him slay, I did him kill,
And on the ground his precious blood did spill.
Please you, my liege, my honour to maintain,
As I have done, so would I do again.


Cursed Christian! What is this thou hast done?
Thou hast ruined me, slaying my only son.


He gave me the challenge. Why should I him deny?
How low he lies who held himself so high!


Oh! Hector! Hector! help me with speed,
For in my life I ne'er stood more in need.

{Enter HECTOR.}


Stand not there, Hector, with sword in hand,
But fight and kill at my command.


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,
Though he be sprung from royal blood
I'll make it run like ocean flood.

{They fight. HECTOR is wounded.}

I am a valiant hero, and Hector is my name,
Many bloody battles have I fought, and always won the same,
But from St.Patrick I received this deadly wound.

{Trumpet sounds for ST.ANDREW.}

Hark, hark, I hear the silver trumpet sound,
It summons me from off this bloody ground.
Down yonder is the way {pointing};
Farewell, farewell, I can no longer stay.




Is there never a doctor to be found
Can cure my son of his deep and deadly wound?

{Enter DOCTOR.}


Yes, yes, there is a doctor to be found
Can cure your son of his deep and deadly wound.


What s your fee?


Five pounds and a yule cake to thee.
I have a little bottle of Elacampane,
It goes by the name of virtue and fame,
That will make this worthy champion to rise and fight again.
{To PRINCE.} Here, sir, take a little of my flip-flop,
Pour it on thy tip-top.
{To audience, bowing.} Ladies and Gentlemen can have my advice gratis.


{ST.ANDREW stands forth.}


I am St.Andrew from the North,
Men from that part are men of worth;
To travel south we're nothing loth,
And treat you fairly, by my troth.
Here comes a man looks ready for a fray.
Come in, come in, bold soldier, and bravely clear the way.

{Enter SLASHER.}


I am a valiant soldier, and Slasher is my name,
With sword and buckler by my side, I hope to win more fame;
And for to fight with me I see thou art not able,
So with my trusty broadsword I soon will thee disable.


Disable, disable? It lies not in thy power,
For with a broader sword than thine I soon will thee devour.
Stand off, Slasher, let no more be said,
For if I draw my broadsword, I'm sure to break thy head.


How canst thou break my head?
Since my head is made of iron;
My body made of steel;
My hands and feet of knuckle-bone.
I challenge thee to feel.

{They fight, and SLASHER is wounded.}

{Fool advances to SLASHER.}


Alas, alas, my chiefest son is slain!
What must I do to raise him up again?
Here he lies before you all,
I'll presently for a doctor call.
A doctor! A doctor! I'll go and fetch a doctor.


Here am I.


Are you the doctor?


That thou may plainly see,
by my art and activity.


What's your fee to cure this poor man?


Five pounds is my fee; but, Jack, as thou art a fool, I'll only take ten from thee.


You'll be a clever doctor if you get any. {Aside.}
Well, how far have you travelled in doctorship?


From the front door to the cupboard,
Cupboard to fireplace, fireplace up-stairs and into bed.


So far, and no farther?


Yes, yes, much farther.


How far?


Through England, Ireland, Scotland, Flanders, France, and Spain,
And now am returned to cure the diseases of Old England again.


What can you cure?


All complaints within and without,
From a cold in your head to a touch of the gout.
If any lady's figure is awry
I'll make her very fitting to pass by.
I'll give a coward a heart if he be willing,
Will make him stand without fear of killing.
Ribs, legs, or arms, whate'er you break, be sure
Of one or all I'll make a perfect cure.
Nay, more than this by far, I will maintain,
If you should lose your head or heart, I'll give it you again.
Then here's a doctor rare, who travels much at home,
So take my pills, I'll cure all ills, past, present, or to come.
I in my time many thousands have directed,
And likewise have as many more dissected,
And I never met a gravedigger who to me objected.
If a man gets nineteen bees in his bonnet, I'll cast twenty of 'em out.
I've got in my pocket crutches for lame ducks,
spectacles for blind bumble-bees,
pack-saddles and panniers for grasshoppers,
and many other needful things. Surely I can cure this poor man.
Here, Slasher, take a little out of my bottle,
and let it run down thy throttle;
and if thou beest not quite slain,
rise, man, and fight again.

{SLASHER rises.}


Oh, my back!


What's amiss with thy back?


My back is wounded,
And my heart is confounded ;
To be struck out of seven senses into fourscore,
The like was never seen in Old England before.

{Trumpet sounds for ST.DAVID.}

Oh, hark! I hear the silver trumpet sound!
It summons me from off this bloody ground.
Down yonder is the way {points};
Farewell, farewell, I can no longer stay.



Yes, Slasher, thou hadst better go,
Else the next time he'll pierce thee through.

{ST.DAVID stands forth.}


Of Taffy's Land I'm Patron Saint.
Oh yes, indeed, I'll you acquaint,
Of Ancient Britons I've a race
Dare meet a foeman face to face.
For Welshmen (hear it once again ;)
Were born before all other men.
I'll fear no man in fight or freaks,
Whilst Wales produces cheese and leeks.



Here comes I, the Turkish Knight,
Come from the Turkish land to fight.
I'll take St.David for my foe,
And make him yield before I go;
He brags to such a high degree,
He thinks there was never a Knight but he.
So draw thy sword, St.David, thou man of courage bold,
If thy Welsh blood is hot, soon will I fetch it cold.


Where is the Turk that will before me stand?
I'll cut him down with my courageous hand.


Draw out thy sword and slay,
Pull out thy purse and pay,
For satisfaction I will have, before I go away.

{They fight. The TURKISH KNIGHT is wounded, and falls on one knee.}

Quarter! quarter! good Christian, grace of thee I crave,
Oh, pardon me this night, and I will be thy slave.


I keep no slaves, thou Turkish Knight.
So rise thee up again, and try thy might.

{They fight again. The TURKISH KNIGHT is slain.}


{Enter ST.GEORGE.}


I am the chief of all these valiant knights,
We'll spill our heart's blood for Old England's rights
Old England's honour we will still maintain,
We'll fight for Old England once and again.

{Flourishes his sword above his head and then lays it over his right shoulder.}

I challenge all my country's foes.


{dealing with his sword in like manner, and then taking the point of ST.GEORGE'S sword with his left hand}.

And I'll assist with mighty blows.


{acting like the other} And you shall find me ready too.


{the same}. And who but I so well as you.


{imitates the Knights, and they close the circle and go round}

While we are joined in heart and hand,
A gallant and courageous band,
If e'er a foe dares look awry,
We'll one and all poke out his eye.



Don't vaunt thus, my courageous knights,
For I, as you, have seen some sights
In Palestine, in days of yore.
'Gainst prowess strong I bravely bore
The sway, when all the world in arms
Shook Holy Land with war's alarms.
I for the crescent, you the cross,
Each mighty host oft won and lost.
I many a thousand men did slay,
And ate two hundred twice a day,
And now I come, a giant great,
Just waiting for another meat.


Oh! Saladin! Art thou come with sword in hand,
Against St.George and Christendom so rashly to withstand?


Yes, yes, St.George, with thee I mean to fight,
And with one blow, I'll let thee know
I am not the Turkish Knight.


Ah, Saladin, St.George is in this very room,
Thou'rt come this unlucky hour to seek thy fatal doom.



Hold, hold, St.George, I pray thee stand by,
I'll conquer him, or else I'll die ;
Long with that Pagan champion will I engage,
Although I am but the Little Page.


Fight on, my little page, and conquer!
And don't thee be perplext,
For if thou discourage in the field,
Fight him will I next.

{They fight The LITTLE PAGE falls.}


Though but a little man, they were great words he said.


Ah! cruel monster. What havoc hast thou made?
See where the lovely stripling all on the floor is laid.
A doctor! A doctor! Ten pounds for a doctor!

{DAME DOLLY dances forward, bobbing as before.}


Here comes I, little Dame Dorothy,
Flap front, and good-morrow to ye;
My head is big, my body is small,
I'm the prettiest little jade of you all.
Call not the Doctor for to make him worse,
But give the boy into my hand to nurse.
{To LITTLE PAGE.} Rise up, my pretty page, and come with me,
And by kindness and kitchen physic, I'll cure thee without fee.

{PAGE rises. Exeunt PAGE and DAME DOLLY.}

{ST.GEORGE and SALADIN fight. SALADIN is slain.}



Carry away the dead, Father.


Let's see whether he's dead or no, first, Georgy.
Yes; I think he's dead enough, Georgy.


Carry him away then, Father.


{vainly tries to move the GIANT'S body. } Thou killed him; thou carry him away.


If you can't carry him, call for help.


{to audience} Three or four of you great logger-headed fellows,
Come and carry him away.

{DOCTOR and FOOL raise the Giant by his arms. Exit GIANT.}



Here comes I, Little Man Jack,
The Master of Giants;
If I could but conquer thee, St.George
I'd bid the world defiance.


And if thou beest Little Man Jack, the Master of all Giants,
I'll take thee up on my back, and carry thee without violence.

{Lifts him over his shoulder.}


Now brave St.George, he rules the roast;
Britons triumphant be the toast;
Let cheerful song and dance abound,
Whene'er the Mummers' time comes round.

{All sing.}


Rule, Britannia; Britannia rules the waves,
Britons never, never, never will be slaves.

{Grand Sword Dance.
Cut I and cross.
Cut 2 and cross partner (which is R. and L.).
Same back again.
The two Knights at opposite corners R. H. Cut I and
cross, and Cut 2 with opposite Knights.
Same back (which is Ladies' Chain).
Four sword-points up in the centre.
All go round - all Cut 6 - and come to bridle-arm
protect and round to places.
Repeat the first figure.

[All go round, and then out, singing.]}

[MIDI music sound file] [ABC music notation]



And a mumming we will go, will go,
And a mumming we will go,
With a bright cockade in all our hats,
We'll go with a gallant show.

{Exeunt omnes.}



Notes from Ewing's Introductory Article:

"The following Christmas Mumming Play is compiled from five versions. The 'Peace Egg,' the 'Wassail Cup,' 'Alexander the Great,' 'A Mock Play,' and the 'Silverton Mummer's Play' (Devon), which has been lent to me in manuscript.

The Mumming Chorus, 'And a mumming we will go,' etc., is not in any one of these versions, but I never saw mumming without it."

Ewing's notes introducing the script:


ST. GEORGE OF ENGLAND {he must wear a rose.)

ST. ANDREW OF SCOTLAND {he must wear a thistle.)

ST. PATRICK OF IRELAND {he must wear the shamrock.)

ST. DAVID OF WALES {he must wear a leek.)

SALADI N, A PAGAN GIANT OF PALESTINE (a very tall grown up actor would be effective.)

THE KING OF EGYPT (in a turban and crown.)

THE PRINCE OF PARADINE, HIS SON {face slacked, and it is "tradition" to play this part in weeds, as if he were Hamlet.)

THE TURKISH KNIGHT {Eastern costume.)


THE VALIANT SLASHER {old yeomanry coat, etc., is effective.)

THE DRAGON {a paste-board head with horrid jaws, if possible. A tail, and paws with claws.)

THE FOOL {Motley : with a bauble long enough to put over his shoulder and be held by the one behind in the mumming circle.)

OLD FATHER CHRISTMAS {white beard, etc., and a staff.)

THE DOCTOR {wig, spectacles, hat and cane.)

THE LITTLE PAGE {pretty little boy in velvet, etc.)

LITTLE MAN JACK {big mask head, if convenient, short cloak and club.)

PRINCESS SABRA {pretty little girl, gorgeously dressed, a crown.)

DAME DOLLY (a large mask head, if possible, and a very amazing cap. Dame Dolly should bob curtseys and dance about.)

No scenery is required. The actors, as a rule, all come in together. To "enter" means to stand forth, and "exit" that the actor retires into the background. But the following method will be found moat effective. Let Fool enter alone, and the rest come in one by one when the Fool begins to sing. They must march in to the music, and join the circle with regularity. Each actor as he "brags," and gives his challenge, does so marching up and down, his drawn sword over his shoulder. All the characters take part in the "Mumming Roumd." The next to Fair Sabra might hold up her train, and if Dame Dolly had a gamp umbrella to put over her shoulder, it would not detract from her comic charms. The Trumpet Calls for the four Patron Knights should be appropriate to each. If a Trumpet is quite impossible, some one should play a national air as each champion enters.

Peter Millington's Notes:

Ewing's sources are discussed in P.Millington "Mrs Ewing and the Textual Origin of the St Kitts Mummies' Play" in Folklore, 1996, Vol.107, pp.77-89.

The first four of the above sources are chapbook texts. "Alexander the Great" and "A Mock Play" in fact refer to the same chapbook - "Alexander and the King of Egypt". However, the "Mock Play" was probably taken from a reprint in W.Sandys "Christmastide, its History, Festivities and Carols", London, John Russell Smith.

The date of publication in the original online version of this play was incorrectly given as 1874 - corrected 1st July 2004.