Guise-Dance Play, Saint Keverne [Cornwall, 1855]

R.M.N. (1925) pp.31-32


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Context:
Location: Saint Keverne, Cornwall, England (SW7821)
Year: Perf. before 1855
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: Guise-Dance

Source:

R.M.N. [R.Morton Nance]
A Guise-Dance Play from St.Keverne
Old Cornwall, Apr.1925, Vol.1, No.1, pp.31-32


Cast: (Click on any name for the character name index.)
Text:

{Enter Father Christmas.}

Father Christmas.

Here comes I, old Father Christmas
Welcome or welcome not;
I hope old Father Christmas
Will never be forgot.
I've not come to laugh nor jeer,
But I've come to taste your beer;
I'll have some Christmas cake or bun.

{He raps his stick on the ground, saying -}

Come on, my children, come on!

{Enter Turkish Knight.}

Turkish Knight.

Here comes I, the Turkish Knight,
Come from Turkish lands to fight;
First I fought in Ireland, then I fought in Spain,
Now I've come to England's land, to fight King George again.

{Enter King George}

King George.

Here comes I King George,
A man with courage bold;
If your blood is hot,
I soon will make it cold.

{King George and Turkish Knight fight with swords, one falls.}

F.C.

Is there a doctor to be found,
To cure this deep and deathly wound?

{Enter Doctor.}

Doctor.

Yes, there is a doctor to be found,
To cure this deep and deathly wound.

{He steps forward, saying-}

I've got a little box in the west side of my breeches,
That goes by the name of Elecampane;
Drop a little on this poor man's lips,
And that will bring him to life again.

F.C.

What can you cure?

Doctor

The hesick, pesick, pox and gout,
If there are ninety-nine devils in,
I can drive them out.

{Enter Little Man Jack, grotesquely dressed and carrying on his back the effigy of a woman.}

Little Man Jack.

Here comes I, Little Man Jack,
Carrying my wife upon my back...

{He throws his "wife" to the ground, and all sing and dance until offered food, drink, or money.}

{Finis.}


Notes:

R.M.N.'s provenance:

"Communicated by Capt.F.J.Roskruge, R.N., and written after Mr.Wm.Mitchell's memory of performances over seventy years ago."

R.M.N.'s notes:

"Note.: This is a very cut-down version of a West-country form of the Christmas Play. St.George again becomes 'King George,' but the Turkish Knight keeps his true name. There is some confusion in 'Doctor's' part. He should have been asked, 'What can you cure?' and have given his response (usually 'If there are nineteen devils in, I can drive twenty out') before showing the little bottle, 'in the waistband of my breeches,' and curing the slain man, which important detail is not here given. 'Little Man Jack,' too, has lost the family of dolls that should have accompanied his wife, and his lines have been forgotten. Both of these plays are quite characteristic of the versions that are found here and there all over the country, and like every other version, however fragmentary, they are useful in piecing together the original lines of the various complete versions. We should be glad of other Cornish unprinted versions from those whose memories are stirred by reading of these. R.M.N."


File History:
26/08/2001 - Encoded by Peter Millington

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