Hawkshead Easter Pace-Egg Play - 1898

H.S.Cowper (1899)


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Context:
Location: Hawkshead, Lancashire, England (SD3598)
Year: Perf. 1898
Time of Occurrence: Easter
Collective Name: Pace-Egg

Source:

H.S.Cowper
Hawkshead: (The Northernmost Parish of Lancashire) its History, Archeology, Industries, Folklore, Dialect, etc., etc.
London: Bemrose, 1899


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

{The Easter Pace-Egg Play}

TOSSPOT:

Stir up the fire, and strike a light,
And see these jolly boys act to-night.
If you don't believe me, what I say,
Step in, King George, and clear the way.

KING GEORGE:

In steps I, King George; King George, it is my name.
My sword and dagger by my side, I hope to win the game.

LORD NELSON:

The game, sir, it's not in all thy power;
I'll cut thee and slice thee in less than half-an-hour.

KING GEORGE:

What is this thou sayest?

LORD NELSON:

What I say I mean to do.

KING GEORGE:

Pull out thy purse and pay.

LORD NELSON:

Before I'll pull out my purse and pay,
I'll pull out my sword and fight my way.

KING GEORGE:

My head is made of metal brass, my body's made of steel,
My hands and arms are knuckle-bone; I'll challenge thee to feel.

{Here they fight with their swords. Then enters Tosspot, who says:}

TOSSPOT:

Oh, George! Oh, George! What hast thou done?
Thou'st gone and slain my only son.
Mine only son! Mine only heir!
How canst thou see him bleeding there?

KING GEORGE:

He challenged me to fight, and why should I deny?
I'll let him know King George was born to conquer or to die.

TOSSPOT:

I'll give five pounds for a doctor;
I'll give ten pounds for a doctor;
fifteen, twenty, twenty-five pounds for a doctor.
Doctor! Doctor!

DOCTOR:

Here am I.

TOSSPOT:

How came you to be a doctor?

DOCTOR:

By my travels.

TOSSPOT:

How far have you travelled?

DOCTOR:

From Italy, Sicily, France, and Spain,
All around England and back again.

TOSSPOT:

Is that all, sir?

DOCTOR:

No; from the top of yon tally i ocean [? Italian ocean],
sixty degrees below the bottom,
where I saw houses made of snow,
pancakes for slates,
black puddings for nails;
even roasted pigs running up and down the street
with knives and forks stuck in their cheeks,
crying, 'Eat me, eat me;'
for such a living man as I shall never die.

TOSSPOT:

Is that all, sir?

DOCTOR:

No; from my grandmother's bedside to the corner cupboard,
where I got so much bread and cheese,
which makes me look so bulky and fat.

TOSSPOT:

I wasn't talking about fat.

DOCTOR:

Neither was I.

TOSSPOT:

What were you talking about?

DOCTOR:

About what I can cure.

TOSSPOT:

What can you cure?

DOCTOR:

The ickity pickity plague within, the plague without.
If there's nineteen devils in this man I'll surely cast twenty out.
And I've got a little bottle in my inside, outside, right side, left side waistcoat pocket,
which my grandmother gave me when I left Spain,
That will surely turn this dead man to life again.
Here, Jack, take a little of my nip-nap;
Let it run down thy tip-tap.
Rise up and fight King George again.

LORD NELSON {sitting up}:

Oh, my back.

DOCTOR:

What is the matter with thy back?

LORD NELSON:

My back it is broken; my heart's confounded,
Driven into seven senses fourscore,
Which never saw the light of old England before.

TOSSPOT:

Take him away, doctor; take him away.

{Song}

KING GEORGE:

Here's two or three jolly boys, all in one mind.
We've come a pace-egging-I hope you'll prove kind.
I hope you'll prove kind with your eggs and strong beer,
We'll come no more nigh you until the next year.
Fal the ray, fal the ray, fal the riddle ar al I day.

LORD NELSON:

So the first that comes in is Lord Nelson, you see;
He's a bunch of blue ribbons tied down to his knee;
He's a star on his breast, like diamonds do shine,
And I hope you'll remember it's pace-egging time.
Fal the ray, etc.

DOCTOR:

So the next that comes in is our jovial Jack tar,
He fought for Lord Nelson all during last war;
He fought for his king and his country so good,
He fought for Lord Nelson while he shed his blood.
Fal the ray, etc.

TOSSPOT {enters}:

In come I that niver come yet,
With my lile head and my gert wit.
If my wit be ever so small
Me and my Pompey will conquer them all.

TOSSPOT:

So the next that come in is old Tosspot, you see,
He's a valiant old fellow in every degree
He's a hump on his back, and he wears a pigtail,
And all his delight is in drinking mulled ale.
Fal the ray, etc.

BESSY BROWN BAGS:

In comes I, auld Molly Masket.
Under my arm I carry my basket,
Into my pocket I drop my cash,
And I think myself a jolly auld ass.

BESSY BROWN BAGS:

So the next that comes in is auld Bessy Brown Bags.
For the fear other money she goes in old rags.
She has plenty of money, and plenty in store,
But she's come along with us and hopes to get more.
Fal the ray, etc.

ALL:

So here we all are, full five in a row,
A set of jolly sailors as ever you saw.
Neither money nor eggs we will not refuse-
Although we are pace-eggers we are not to choose.
Fal the ray, etc.
So ladies and gentlemen that sit by the fire,
Put your hands in your pocket- that's all our desire.
Put your hands in your pocket and pull out your purse
And give us a trifle- you'll not be much worse.
Fal the ray, fal the ray, fal the riddle ar al I day.


Notes:

Cowper's Notes:

"The following version, a fragmentary one no doubt, may be compared with others in Lancashire and elsewhere. It belongs, properly, to Satterthwaite, and was formerly regularly acted there. Last year (1898) it was taught by Mrs. Hyde, a Satterthwaite woman, to Hawkshead children, who dressed up and performed it at most of the houses round. King George is, of course, properly St. George.'

Characters: King George, Lord Nelson, The Doctor, Tosspot, Bessy Brown Bags." [Note]

Footnote: "The concluding song shews that there are two Tosspots and two Bessies. The duplicates no doubt replace older and forgotten characters."

Indexer's Notes:

Scanned from E.Cass (2001) The Lancashire Pace-Egg Play: A Social History, London, FLS Books, [2001].

Cass's Notes:

"Hawkshead was not included in the geographical listing in English Ritual Drama, possible because the performance there was not considered 'traditional'. However, the play was clearly acted in the village in the late nineteenth century although we have no indication of the span of these performances. The text is of interest as, whilst the play is derived from a Furness play text, it is abbreviated in length. Moreover, it is unusual for Lord Nelson to appear as a character in the play itself as opposed to the associated songs."


File History:
24th February 2002 Scanned and coded by Peter Millington

The recommended URL for this web page is www.folkplay.info/Texts/89sd39ch.htm
Last generated on 26/12/2007 by P.Millington (Peter.Millington1@virgin.net)