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Resort, and to repeat our merry rhyme,
Prince George says ?
“I am Prince George, a Champion brave and bold,
For with my spear I've won three crowns of gold :
And I that gained the Egyptian monarch's daughter.”
“Tis I that will hash thee, and slash thee, as small as flies,
And send thee to Satan to make mince pies." [PRINCE GEORGE and ALEXANDER fight, and PRINCE GEORGE falls.] The King of Egypt says :
Is there never a doctor to be found,
The Doctor says:
“ Yes there is a Doctor to be found
That can cure your son of his deadly wound.” All the other verses are quite different from those of the Wiltshire Mumming, but the almost identical phrases in these appear to shew that both must have had one common origin.
In the Penny Magazine, (vol. vi. p. 339,) published in 1837, by Mr. Charles Knight, to whom we are greatly indebted for the preservation of much Antiquarian lore, the verses of the Mummers are given; but in that version of them, the character of the Saracen Knight does not occur, and it is Mince Pie who fights with, and is vanquished by St. George ; but the drama is in substance identically the same as that enacted in Wiltshire.
Sir Walter Scott (in the notes to the 6th Canto of Marmion,) gives the characters in one of the Masques of Ben Jonson for the Court and their Costumes. The characters are Christmas and his ten children; one of whom is Minced Pie, but the other characters are wholly unlike those in the Mummings which I have referred to.
At Christmas, 1853, a party of Mummers performed at Painswick in Gloucestershire; the interlocutors were-Father Christmas; A Turkish Knight; A Doctor and his Man; and Beelzebub.
The following is a specimen of their verses :
Enter OLD FATHER CHRISTMAS.
“In come I, old Father Christmas,
Enter TURKISH KNIGHT.
“In comes I a Turkish knight,
I came from a Turkish land to fight,
my blood is good in ev'ry vein.” [FATHER CHRISTMAS and the TURKISH KNIGHT fight; the latter falls.] Father Christmas. “Five pound, ten pound, fifteen pound,
If there's a doctor to be found
To raise this dead man from the ground.” [The Doctor is introduced after some laudatory verses from his man, and performs the cure.]
BEELZEBUB then enters and says :
“In comes I, old Beelzebub,
On my back I carry a lump,
And don't you think I'm a jolly old man.” This is evidently the same character who is called Little Jack, in the Mummings at some other places, and affords a clue to the explanation of who Little Jack originally was.
3.—THE HARVEST HOME.
At a Harvest home, which in Wiltshire is called a Home harvest, care is taken that the last load shall be a light one; and when loaded it is drawn home by the best team, (with their bells on) a little boy, with a shirt decorated with ribbons worn over his other clothes, riding the fore horse. On the top of the load the rakes, &c., are placed ; and as many as possible of the work people, male and female, ride on the load, the rest of the party walking on each side. As they proceed homewards, they chant in a sort of monotone the following verse :
“ Ploughed well, sown well ;*
Reaped well, mown well;
Harvest home!” On a subsequent evening, or as it sometimes occurs, on the same evening, all the work people are regaled by their master with a hot supper, at which the head carter takes the head of the table, as the head shepherd does at the sheep-shearing supper. At the Harvest home supper the following song
I hope to God with all my heart his soul in heaven may rest;
* In Mr. Hone's Every Day Book (vol. ii. p. 1164,) another version of “Sown well, grown well,” is mentioned as being repeated at the Harvest homes in Gloucestershire; and the song "Here's a health unto our Master,” with some alterations, and an ungallant omission of the Mistress is given (Id. p. 1168,) as sung at the Harvest homes in Norfolk.
Then drink boýs drink, and see that you do not spill,
you shall drink too, with a hearty free good will. Chorus–Drink boys drink, &c.
And now we've drunk our Master's health our Missis shan't go free,
For if you do, you shall drink too, with a hearty free good will.
I was once describing the first Harvest home supper at which I was present, to an old Wiltshire lady near ninety years of age. She asked me
booted.” I asked what this was. She told me that if, during the harvest, a load was thrown down, the person through whose fault this happened was "booted” at the Harvest home supper; that is, after the cloth was removed, he is taken and laid on the table with his face downwards, when the head carter having procured one of the master's boots, takes hold of it by the foot end, and gives the delinquent three blows with the top end of it, in a manner more calculated to injure his honour than his bones.
This punishment is referred to in Dr. Graves's novel, “ The Spiritual Quixote,” where it is stated, that Jerry Tugwell, the attendant upon Mr. Wildgoose the hero of the story, having made himself drunk and ridiculous, is subjected, amongst other indignities, to the ancient discipline of the “boot.” (Book x. chap. 29.)
Where a master gives no Harvest home supper, the chant is sung in derision by the workmen of those masters who give suppers, as follows :
6. The bread's not baked,
The beer's not brewed,
Till very recently at the Harvest homes at Ogbourn St. Andrew, a very ancient anthem or hymn was sung. It appears to have had no reference to the harvest, and was evidently of a religious character. I have not the words, but I believe that they are in the possession of the Rev. J. Bliss, the vicar of that place.
In the villages near Marlborough, this is a mock procession got up by the village lads, when conjugal infidelity is imputed to any of their neighbours.
At a little before dusk, a blowing of sheeps' horns and a sounding of cracked sheep bells may be heard about the village, and soon afterwards the procession is formed. I saw two of these Woosets; one in the year 1835, at Burbage, the other about five years after at Ogbourn St. George. The procession was in each instance headed by what is called “a rough band," which in the latter instance was numerous. Some beat old frying pans, others shook up old kettles with stones in them; some blew sheeps' horns, others rang cracked sheep bells, and one of the performers was trying to extort music from a superannuated fish kettle, by beating its bottom with a marrow bone. Four more carried turnips on long sticks, each turnip being hollowed out very thin, and the features of a face cut thinner still on it, and a lighted candle put in the inside. These were followed by a person bearing a cross of wood of slight make, and seven feet high ; on the arms of which was placed a chemise, and on the head of it a horse's scull, to the sides of which were fixed a pair of deer's horns, as if they grew there; and to the lower part of the horse's scull the under jaw bones were so affixed, that by pulling a string, the jaws knocked together as if the scull was champing the bit; and this was done to make a snapping noise during pauses in the music.
This procession is repeated on three nights following, when it goes past the houses of the supposed guilty parties; it is then discontinued for three nights; resumed for three nights more-dis