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a copy of the introductory song, as it used to be sung by the Wharfdale sword-dancers. It has been transcribed from a MS. in the possession of Mr. Holmes, surgeon, at Grassington, in Craven. At the conclusion of the song a dance ensues, and sometimes a rustic drama is performed. See post, p. 395. Jumping Joan, alluded to in the last verse, is a well-known old country dance tune.]
The spectators being assembled, the Clown enters, and after
drawing a circle with his sword, walks round it, and calls in the actors in the following lines, which are sung to the accompaniment of a violin played outside, or behind the door.
CHE first that enters on the floor,
His name is Captain Brown;
in this town:
He fixes his delight;
And is with them all the night.
Called Obadiah Trim;
And hat of broadest brim,
Who would seem to act by merit
and hums and hahs,
The next that enters on the floor,
He is a foppish knight;
He studies day and night.
Even from top to toe;
He's finer than a beau !
Next I present unto your view
A very worthy man;
And Love-ale is his name.
He seldom says 'em nay,
While other people pay.
The next that enters on the floor,
It is my beauteous dame;
And Bridget is her name.
All that e'er learnt to sew,
What I command her do..
And I myself am come long since,
And Thomas is my name;
I think they're much to blame:
But I value it not a groat,
Have patched it on my coat.
who's this we've met with here,
And cannot learn his name:
I'll call him my son Tom;
We'll dance you Jumping Joan.
• A cant term for a fiddle. In its literal sense, it means trunk, or box-belly.
THE SWORD-DANCERS' SONG AND INTERLUDE.
AS NOW PERFORMED AT CHRISTMAS, IN THE COUNTY
[The late Sir Cuthbert Sharp remarks, that 'It is still the practice during the Christmas holidays for companies of fifteen to perform a sort of play or dance, accompanied by song or music.' The following version of the song, or interlude, has been transcribed from Sir C. Sharp's Bishoprick Garland, corrected by collation with a MS. copy recently remitted to the editor by a countryman of Durham. The Devonshire peasants have a version almost identical with this, but laths are used instead of swords, and a few different characters are introduced to suit the locality. The pageant called The Fool Plough, which consists of a number of sword-dancers dragging a plough with music, was anciently observed in the North of England, not only at Christmas time, but also in the beginning of Lent. Wallis thinks that the Sword Dance is the antic dance, or chorus armatus of the Romans. Brand supposes that it is a composition made up of the gleaning of several obsolete customs anciently followed in England and other countries. The Germans still practise the Sword Dance at Christmas and Easter. We once witnessed a Sword Dance in the Eifel mountains, which closely resembled our own, but no interlude, or drama, was performed.]
Enter Dancers, decorated with swords and ribbons; the Cape
TAIN of the band wearing a cocked hat and a peacock's feather in it by way of cockade, and the Clown, or · BESSY,' who acts as treasurer, being decorated with a hairy cap and
a fox's brush dependent. The CAPTAIN forms with his sword a circle, around which he
walks. The Bessy opens the proceedings by singingGOOD gentlemen all, to our captain take heed,
And hear what he's got for to sing ;
And drunk of the elegant* spring.
* • Helicon,' as vbserved by Sir C. Sharp, is, of course, the truo reading
The CAPTAIN then proceeds as follows, his song being accom.
panied by a violin, generally played by the BESSY
Six actors I have brought
Who were ne'er on a stage before;
And they can do no more.
He is a squire's son;
Because he is too young.
He has money for to rove,
Before he'll lose his love.
Chorus. Fal lal de ral, lal de dul, fal lal de ra ral da
Followed by a symphony on the fiddle, during which the intro.
duced actor walks round the circle, The CAPTAIN proceeds
The next that I call in
He is a tailor fine;
He made this coat of mine!
Here the CAPTAIN turns round and exhibits his coat, which, of
course, is ragged, and full of holes.
So comes good master Snip,
His best respects to pay:
To drive dull care away.
Son. This form is observed after each subsequent introduction, all the new comers taking a part.
The next I do call in,
The prodigal son is he; By spending of his gold
He's come to poverty.
But though he all has spent,
Again he'll wield the plow,
As any of us now.
He'll do his part right weel-
As ever pozed a keel.
must understand; It's he can dance on deck,
And you'll see him dance on land.
To join us in this play
Here comes a jolly dog, Who's sober all the day
If be can get no grog.
But though he likes his grog,
As all his friends do say, He always likes it best
When other people pay.
Last I come in myself,
The leader of this crew; And if you'd know my name,
My name it is ‘True Blue.'
* In the introduction of the prodigal son,' we have a relic derived from the old mysteries and moralities. Of late years, the prodigal son' has been left out, and his place supplied by a sailor.'