Plough Jacks’ Play from Willoughton - 1889

E.H.Rudkin (1939)


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Context:
Location: Willoughton, Lincolnshire, England (SK9293)
Year: Perf. about 1889
Time of Occurrence: Plough Monday
Collective Name: Plough Jacks

Source:

E.H.Rudkin
Collectanea : The Plough Jack's Play (Willoughton, Lincs.)
Folk-Lore, Sep.1939, Vol.L, No.3, pp.291-294


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

{A PLOUGH-MONDAY PLAY}

{Arrive at a house, the Fool knocks at the Door}

Fool:

In comes I the Fool,
I can't come in at the window, so I have to come in at the door.
I have several more lads outside,
Some can dance and some can sing,
By your consent they shall come in.

{Enter the Recruiting Sergeant}

Rec. S.:

In comes I the Recruiting Sergeant,
Arrived here just now.
My orders are to recruit all jolly fellows,
That follow cart horse or Plough;
Tinkers, tailors, pedlars, nailers, all to my advance.
The more I hear the fiddle play, the better I can dance,
I should like to hear one of your good songs.

{Song follows}

Rec. S.:

Come, me lads, that's bound for 'listing,
List, and do not be afraid,
You shall have all kinds of liquors,
Likewise kiss the pretty maid.
And ten bright guineas shall be your bounty,
And your hat betrimmed with ribbons likewise cuts a gallant show.

{Enter Sir George}

Sir Geo.:

In comes I, Sir George, the Champion bold,
With my Rusty Sword I won 3000 crowns in gold.
I fought the fierce Dragon and brought him to his slaughter,
And by these means I won the King of Egypt's only daughter.

Rec. S.:

You won the King of Egypt's only daughter?

Sir Geo.:

His only daughter.
My head is made of iron,
My body made of steel,
My shins are made of knuckle bones,
No man can make me feel!

Rec. S.:

Your head is made of iron,
Your body is made of steel,
Your shins are made of knuckle bones,
No man can make your feel?
I'll cut your jaw into ten thousand pieces!
I'll make your buttons fly!

{Hits Sir Geo. in the stomach - Sir Geo. has an inflated bladder under his large-sized waistcoat, this goes off crack. Sir Geo. falls)

A Doctor! A Doctor! Five pounds for a Doctor.

Fool:

Can't come under ten pounds.

Rec. S.:

Fifteen pounds for a Doctor - must have one!

{Enter the Doctor}

Doc.:

In comes I, the Doctor.

Rec. S.:

You a Doctor?

Doc.:

Yes, I'm a Doctor.

Rec. S.:

How comes you to be a Doctor?

Doc.:

I have travelled for it.

Rec. S.:

Where have you travelled?

Doctor

England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales,
three times round the world and back again.

Rec. S.:

What can you cure?

Doc.:

The hipsy-pipsy palsy and the gout,
Aches within and pains without,
And out of 20 pains, I can cast 25 out.

Rec. S.:

Doctor, try your skill.

Doc.:

Please take hold of stick, hat and gloves.

{Feels of Sir Geo.'s ankle}

Rec. S.:

Does a man's pulse be there?

Doc.:

Yes, that's the strongest part about him.

Rec. S.:

Is this man dead?

Doc.:

Not dead but in a trance -
a drop of my wiff-waff
to rub on his tig-tag
and he'll come all right again.

{Doctors him}

So jump up my merry old lad, and let's have a dance.

{Dance follows}

{Enter Lady}

Lady:

In comes I, the Lady bright and fair,
Good fortune and good charms,
So shamefully I was thrown away,
Into your lover's arms
He listed for a soldier,
and from me ran away.

{Enter Beelzebub}

Beel.:

In comes I, old Beelzebub,
And on my back I carry my club,
In my hand a frying pan,
Don't you think I'm a jolly old man?

Sir Geo.:

What can you cook?

Beel.:

Eggs and ham.

Sir Geo.:

I can eat if you can.

{Enter Dame Jane}

Dame J.:

In comes I, Dame Jane,
Neck as long as a crane,
Once I was a charming maid,
Now I'm a down old widow.
I courted once a soldier,
A fine young man he was!
He took me to a foreign land
And I've never seen him since.


Notes:

Rudkin's introduction:

"The following play has not been performed for the last 50 years and was written down from memory by Mr.J.Bateman, and is incomplete in places.

"The Plough Jacks went round to each house on Plough Monday (the first Monday after Twelfth Night). The order of going was to have two ploughlines parallel, and short sticks between at intervals - to each stick a man, for the 'horses.' Then came the 'Waggoner' driving them, with a long whip and an inflated pig's bladder on the end of the lash - next came the plough, which they trailed: a plough without wheels and ready for ploughing. Having arrived at a house they demanded entrance civilly. If allowed in, they performed their play and were regaled with food and drink. If they were told to be gone, then they ploughed up the scraper, and a furrow or two in front o the house if the owner was objectionable. If the owner came out after them, he was set on with besom shafts, etc., that they carried ready for such emergencies. They went as far afield as 8 miles, and spent the whole night on the job, never ceasing until time for work in the morning."


File History:
4th June 1999 - Entered by Peter Millington
25th Sep.1999 - Date & location refinements by Peter Millington

The recommended URL for this web page is www.folkplay.info/Texts/88sk99re.htm
Last generated on 26/12/2007 by P.Millington (Peter.Millington1@virgin.net)