Gainford, Durham, Sword-Dance Play - 1860

E.C.Cawte et al (1967), pp.78-82


Folk Play Home Scripts Intro County List Class List Characters

Context:
Location: Gainford, Durham, England (NZ1716)
Year: Perf. about 1860
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: [Not given]

Source:

E.C.Cawte et al
English Ritual Drama : A Geographical Index
London, Folklore Society, 1967, pp.78-84


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

Clown

Crack a bottle that fellow has got no supper this morning
nor breakfast last night.

King

Spectators, silence keep, our dancers will appear
We're six as clever lads as ever danced here
We're six dancers young, never danced much before
We'll do the best we can, the best can do no more.
So be of courage bold and young men each and old
Let nothing here you daunt when on you I do call.
The first that I call on he is a spark from France
He's the first man on the list but the second in the dance.

1st Dancer

God bless you honest fame and all your young men too
I've come to act my part as well as I can do.

King

If thou will act thy part and never from me flee
I'll call our young men in one by one, by two, by three.
The next that I call on his name is Mr. Bold
As good a swordman he as ever sword did hold.

2nd Dancer

My valour has been tried in city, town and field
I ne'er could find the man that once could make me yield

King

The next that I call in his name is Mr. Wild
I fear the worst of all those maids he does beguile

3rd Dancer

I've travelled many a mile 'tis not for my gain
It is for my true love and I'll travel it over again.

Clown

Red rum for dancers and give us room to ring
I'll show the most curious sport that was ever acted on this King's
reign, actors young, actors aged
I'll show you the most curious sport that was ever acted on the stage
If you don't believe the words I say
I will call the real King of Macedonia

King

Here comes the great King of Macedonia
And here I do advance

Clown

And I'm the ragged clown come to see the dance

King

Dance, dance, wert thou ever admitted to see a King dance

Clown

Hark canny fellow, was not thou driving the swine the other day
Or stealing the swine as I should say.

King

Hold thy tongue thou saucy rascal
Thou will be hanged I fear.
I am a King and a conqueror, and a King of high renown
Have I to be offended at thou a silly ragged clown.

Clown

If thou wert hanged I'd me a better King than thou
Thou need not be so much offended nor make such an ugly face

King

Thy impudence doth protect thee, but I both swear and vow
I've been the death of many a man, and I'll be the death of thou,
And now the next he is a Prince of noble fame
Has spent a large estate and the wars he will maintain.

4th Dancer

{answers} Although I be a Prince, my name I'll not deny
Although I be a Prince, my valour here I'll try.

King

The last that I call on he is a squire's son
He's like to lose his love, because he is too young.

5th Dancer

Although I be too young, I've money for to roam
I'll freely spend it all, before my love I'll lose.

Clown

Now I'm the last myself, my name is Captain Tom
All the lasses know me well with going to court them
You sent me before, to knock at your door
To see if you'd let us come in
My waistcoat and coat are made of mohair
My breeches are made of standoff
My stockings and shoes are made of refuse
And my sword cries come if you dare

{Then all dance round the clown and when their swords are round his neck he sings}

Just now I'm going to die as you may plainly see
These six glittering swords will soon put an end to me

{They then draw their swords and he falls down.}

King

Now since our Hector's dead and on the ground is laid
We'll have to suffer for it, young men I'm sore afraid

1st Dancer

I'm sure it's none of me, I'm clear of the crime
It's he who followed me which drew his sword so fine.

2nd Dancer

Don't lay the blame on me, I'm clear of the fact
It's he that followed me, that did this wicked act.

3rd Dancer

Don't lay the blame on me you villains all
I'm sure my eyes were shut when the first sword was drawn.

4th Dancer

How could your eyes be shut, when you were looking on
I'm sure vou were with us when the verv first sword was drawn.

5th Dancer

Now since I am the last, the blame I'll have to take
So on my bended knees for pardon I do crave.

King

Now since you've told the truth and told it unto me
We'll do the best we can to bury him privately

2nd Clown

Bury him, bury him, the devil bury him
I've heard of a doctor far and near one in France and one in Spain
Either of these men would bring him to life again

King

A doctor, a doctor, ten pounds for a doctor.

Doctor

Here am I

King

Well Doctor what is thy fee

Doctor

Ten pounds is my fee,
but nine pounds nineteen shillings eleven pence three farthings I'll take of thee

King

Pooh, Pooh, 'tis far too much, I'll not give it thee

Doctor

One bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
So I'm off home again.

King

Stay, Doctor, stay and try thy skill

Doctor

Yes indeed that I will

King

How far have you travelled Doctor

Doctor

Oh ! all over England France and Spain
And now I've come to cure this man whom you have slain
So ladies and gentlemen my business to complete
You shall see this dead man rise to his feet
Arise young man arise

{Clown, getting up sings:}

Clown

Good morrow gentlemen, a-sleeping I have been
I've had such a sleep as the like was never seen
But now I am awake, and here I am this day
So we'll have a dance and the doctor shall have his pay

{They sing:}

[All]

When first King Henry ruled this land
He was a gracious king
He bought six pecks of barley meal
To make a large pudding

{Then they dance, and afterwards sang any popular songs.}


Notes:

Ordish Collection: MS Alice Edleston, Gainford Vicarage, 1893. A 6th dancer is mentioned in the introduction, but appears to have no dialogue in the text.


File History:
26th Dec.1994 - Entered by Peter Millington
25th Mar.1997 - File name by Peter Millington

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Last generated on 26/12/2007 by P.Millington (Peter.Millington1@virgin.net)