Kirton-in-Lindsey Plough-Jags Play - 1890

M.Peacock (1901) pp.363-365


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Context:
Location: Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire, England (SK9398)
Year: Perf. 1890s
Time of Occurrence: Plough Monday
Collective Name: Plough-Jags

Source:

Mabel Peacock
Plough Monday Mummeries
Notes and Queries, 9th Series, 11th May 1901, Vol.VII, pp.363-365


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

Part I.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen all,
Xmas being a merry time
We though we would give you a call:
And if you will listen
To what I have got to say,
For in a short time there will be
Some more pretty boys and girls this way.
Some can dance, and some can sing;
By your consent they shall come in.

Part II.

In comes a Recruiting Sergeant,
As I suppose you are.
You want some bold malitia men,
To face the rageing war.
We will bravely face the enemy,
And do the best we can,
And if they don't prove civil,
We'll slay them every man.

Part III. {Lady sings}.

In comes a lady bright and gay,
Good fortunes and sweet charms;
I've scornfully being thrown away
Out of some lover's arms.
He swears if I don't wed with him,
As you all understand,
He'll list all for a soldier,
And go to some foreign land.

{First Man says}

First Man

Pray, madam, if then be his thoughts
. . . . . . let him go,
He never meanes to wed with you,
But prove your overthrow.
When poverty begins to pinch,
In which it will some day
He'll have another sweetheart
And with her he'll run away.

Lady.

Thank you, kind sir, for your advice
Which you have given to me
I never meant to wed with him,
But have him for to know
I'll have another sweetheart,
And along with him I'll go.

4th Man.

In comes I King George,
With courage stout and bold:
With this bright sword I won
Ten thousand pounds in gold.
I fought a fiery dragon,
And brought him to the slaughter
And by that means I won
The queen's eldest daughter.
I 'ashed him and smashed him as small as flies,
And sent him to jamacia to make mince-pies.

{2nd Man says.}

2nd Man

Thou 'ashed and smashed me as small as flies,
And sent me to jamacia to make mince-pies.
Hold thy lies or my blood will rise!
If thou art the King I dare face the.

{Then aries a duel between the 2nd man and the King. The King knocks the 2nd man down.}

King.

Five pounds for a Dr.

Dr.

No Dr. under ten.

King.

Ten pounds for a Dr.

Dr.

In comes I, the Dr.

King.

How comes you to be the Dr.?

Dr.

By my travels.

King.

Where have you travelled from?

Dr.

From the fireside to the bedside,
and from the bedside to the old corner cupboard,
where there I have had many a nice bit of pork-pie and mince-pie,
that makes me such a bold fellow as I am.

King.

What diseases can you cure?

Dr.

Almost anything.
The itch, the pitch, the palsy, gout,
Pins within, and pains without.
If this man's got 19 diseases within him
I will fetch 21 out.
Take hold of this bottle while I feel on this man's pulse.

King.

Where do you feel on his pulse?

Dr.

Where it beats the strongest.
This man's not dead he his only in a trance,
Rise up my good man and have a dance.

{The lady and the 2nd man dances.}

6th Man.

In comes poor lame jane
Leaping over the meadow;
Once I was a blooming girl,
but now I am a down old widow.
You see my old hat boath greacey and fat,
And that you can tell by the shining;
There is holes in the crown, and holes all round,
And not much sleve left in the lining.

{Then all sing.}

[All]

Good master, and good mistress,
As you sit round the fire,
Remember us poor plough-boys
That go through mud and mire:
The mire is so deep,
And the water runs so clear:
We wish you a merry Xmas,
And a happy New Year.


Notes:

Peacock's introduction:

"The following variant of the play, which was written down for me by J.H., a Kirtonin-Lindsey man, who before his marriage used to be one of the performers, contains the word 'sleve' in connexion with a hat:-

And not much sleve left in the lining.

'Sleave-silk,' or 'sleave', formerly meant the soft floss-silk used for weaving; and aomng the quotations given by Nares in his 'Glossary' under 'Sleave-silk' we find:-

The bank with daffodils dight,

With grass like sleave was matted.

'Quest of Cynthia,' p.622.

Donne has 'sleave-silk flies' (sonnets, 'The Bait,' p.47). In the plough-jags play it Would seem to signify either silken fabric, or The nap on such a fabric when woven with a Satin-like surface."

Peacock's closing notes;

"When a portion of this play was acted by very young lads a few years ago, 'the Doctor,' who then found the patient's pulse in his shin, wore a top hat that was much too large. This imposing headgear lent him an appearance which was all that could be desired when it was held up by his ears, but at certain disastrous moments these supports would fail, and sudden eclipse overtake the actor. It must be owned, however, that while wrestling with the difficulties thus caused, and throughout the whole scene, he, like his companions, succeeded in preserving a funereal gravity of deportment. It was only from the sense of the words uttered, not from intonation or gesture, the spectators could gather that they were witnessing a drama which had been conceived in a certain spirit of levity. Even the allusion to pork-pie failed to evoke a gleam of animation.

The wife of J.H., who supplied this dialogue, was once much alarmed when she was a girl living as a servant a Walton-le-Dale, near Tattershall, for a man disguised as a sheep (see 'Christmas Tup,' 'N.& Q.,' 9th S. ii. 511) opened the outer door of the house, in which she happened to be alone. He was one of a set of plough-jags; but she could not describe his mates and their costumes, for, startled and afraid, she 'banged the door to,' to keep the hang from entering. Usually 'the lady,' 'lame Jane,' who represents a rough old woman with a besom, 'the solder,' and 'the king' are dressed with some records to character. The plough-jags with no spoken parts, who used to be the bullocks drawing the plough, or sometimes sword-players, it may be, should properly speaking , wear very tall beribboned hats, with white shirts over their clothes. These shirts should also be trimmed with ribbons and other ornaments; but the garments are seldom seen now - perhaps because white linen shirts are at present rarely kept for wearing on high days and holidays by the men themselves, or by the friends from whom they can borrow. The fool should be dressed in skins, or in snippets of brightly coloured rags, and should be armed with a bladder at the end of a whip, or some such weapon..."

Indexer's Notes:

This text is the last of four published in this article. The general introduction implies that they all were performed on Plough Monday by "plough-jags", although they are not explicitly stated in this case.


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