The Salvage Play, Newfoundland, c.1900

B.Moss (1950)


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Context:
Location: Salvage, Newfoundland, Canada (4840' N, 5339' W)
Year: Perf. c.1900
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: [Not given]

Source:

Barney Moss
[Title not known]
The Newfoundlander, Jan.1950, pp.14-15


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

Beelzebub.

Here comes I, Beelzebub,
and on my shoulder carries my club,
And in my hand a threepenny pan;
ain't I a smart jolly old man.
If you don't believe what I do say,
step in Father Christmas and clear the way.

Father Christmas.

Here comes I, old Father Christmas, all in my merry bloom,
Come, gentlemen and ladies, come, give me little room;
Room, room. brave gallant, room; give me room to rhyme
And I will give you some revels to pass away old Christmas time.
Old activity, new activity, the like was never seen,
I pray you now Dim Dorthy step in.

Dim Dorthy.

Here comes I, Dim Dorthy, with a fair face and a fat commarity,
Although my commarity is but small, I'm the biggest bully of them all.
If you don't believe what I do say,
step in Sir Guy and clear the way.

Sir Guy.

Here comes I, Sir Guy, a man of mighty strength,
Who slew down Duncow, eighty feet in length;
Is there anyone here holds King George a spleen,
I'm resolved to conquer, it's for King George I'll die.
If you don't believe what I do say,
step in King George and clear the way.

King George.

Here comes I, King George a man of courage bold,
And with my glittering sword I won ten crowns of gold,
I fought the fiery dragon till I brought him to great slaughter,
And by those bloody means I won the Queen of Egypt's daughter.
Close in a closet I was kept,
then upon a table rack,
And after that upon a rock of stone,
'Twas there I sat and made my grievous moan.
Then the Turkish Knight put his foot on land to fight;
To fight I would even, if I was slain,
till every drop of blood would quiver in his veins.
If you don't believe what I do say,
step in, Valiant Soldier, and clear thy way.

Valiant Soldier.

Here comes I, the Valiant Soldier, bold, Slasher is my name,
Sword and buckler by my side in hopes to win the game;
My head is made of iron, my ribs are made of steel,
I means to fight the Turkish Knight and slay him in the field.

King George.

Hark, I hear a footstep.

Valiant Soldier.

That may be the Grand Turk.

King George.

If that be the Grand Turk. let him appear.

{Grand Turk Enters.}

[Grand Turk]

Here comes I, the Grand Turk, out of prison for to fight,
To fight King George, that man by name,
if I had him what dreadful work I make;
I would cut him and slay him as small as dust,
And send his body to the devil for a Christmas pie crust.

King George.

Stop! Stop! Don't speak so hot,
There's a man in this room thou knowest not,
I'll cut thee and slay thee and when that is done,
I will fight the bravest champion that's under the sun.

Grand Turk.

Why. King George, did I ever do you any harm?

King George.

Yes! therefore you deserve lo be stabbed.

Grand Turk.

Stab for stab. I will punch you to the ground,
Where I mean to lay your body down.

{The battle is set in array between King George and the Grand Turk, King George slays the Grand Turk, his body lying dead on the ground. King George, sorry for his brother champion, calls for a doctor.}

[King George]

Doctor, doctor, come with speed,
And help me in my time of need:
The time of need I never saw before
Till I saw my brother champion lying dead upon the floor.
Is there a doctor here to be found!

Doctor.

Yes, there's a doctor here at hand
Who can cure your brother champion
Of his deadly wound and make him stand.

King George.

What can you cure, noble doctor?

Doctor.

I can cure all things:
Itch, stitch, the 'pox, the palsy and the gout,
And if the divil is in him I can root him out.

King George.

How far have you travelled, noble sir?

Doctor.

I've travelled from England through France and Spain.
And always back to old England again.
I have a little bottle in the waist band of my breeches pocket
Called ice, some tice; some gold for lice;
some, the wig of a weasel; The wool of a frog
and eighteen inches last September's fog.
Hold it over a slow turf-fire in a wooden saucepan.
Mixed with a hen's tooth and a cat's feather;
Three drops to his temple and one to his heart,
Rise up, brother, and play your part.

{The dead Turk is brought to life by the doctor's medicine. The Grand Turk cries out.}

[Grand Turk]

Terrible! Terrible! The like was never seen,
A man knocked out of seven senses into a hundred and nineteen;
Not be bucks nor it by bears,
one of the divil's whirligigs blowed me up in the air.
If you don't believe what I do say,
step in Turkish Knight and clear the way.

Turkish Knight.

Here comes I, the Turkish Knight,
All from the Turkish land to fight;
To fight King George or the Valiant Soldier bold, Slasher is his name;
Show me the man before me will stand,
I'll cut him down with my courageous hand.

Valiant Soldier.

I'm the man before you will stand
And that you soon shall know,
And if you do your worst or best
I'll give you blow for blow.

Turkish Knight.

I don't mind your words as figs.
Neither your blows or bumps,
If you cut me off my legs,
I'll fight you on my stumps.

{The battle is on between the Turkish Knight and the Valiant Soldier. The Turk, wounded, falls to the ground.}

Valiant Soldier.

O, see, 0, see. what I have done,
I have cut him down like the fallen sun;
Ten thousand more such men I'll fight,
For to maintain King George's rights.

Turkish Knight.

O stop, O stop your hand, there's one thing more I crave,
If you spare me my sweet life I'll be your English slave.

Valiant Soldier.

Arise, arise you Turkish dog, and to your country make your way,
And tell unto your Turkish fleet what a champion old England bears today,
Step in Oliver Cromwell and clear the way.

Oliver Cromwell.

Here comes I, Oliver Cromwell. as you may suppose,
I conquered many nations with my copper nose;
I made the French to tremble, the Spanish to shake,
I fought the jolly Dutchmen until I made their hearts ache.
If you don't believe what I do say.
step in the captain of the play.

{The Captain and His Wife Appear.}

[Captain]

Here comes I, the captain of the play,
And to my men I lead the way,
As I stood on the pewter rock of fame.
And on the champion bear the blame.
I'm not like some of those Turkish dogs
That go out after night and disturb the people and make a noise,
Step in the wren and clear the way.

The Wren.

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
St.Stephen's Day I was caught in the firs;
Although I am little my honor is great,
Rise up, Skipper, and give us a treat;
If you got no rum give us some cake.
If you fills the plate of the small,
It will not agree with those boys atall,
Rut if you fills it of the best,
We hope in Heaven your soul will rest.

{Song follows, sung by the crowd.}

[The Crowd]

Ye midwives and widows, come now pay attention
To those few lines I'm now going to mention.
Of a maid in distraction who is now going to wander,
She relied upon George for the loss 6f her lover.

{Chorus, after each verse}

Broken-hearted I'll wander,
For the loss of my lover,
My bonnie light-horseman
Was slain in the war.
Three years and six months since I left England's shore,
My bonnie light-horseman will I ever see more.
She mounted on horseback, so gallant and brave,
Amongst the whole regiment respected he was.

If I had the wings of an eagle as swift as the dove I would fly
I would cross the salt sea where my true love do lie,
And with my fond lips I would bear on his grave,
And kiss his pale cheeks so colder than clay.

{END OF THE PLAY}


Notes:

Introduction:

"This is an account of the mumming play that was used on Christmas times in the early days by the first settlers in Newfoundland. They used to start out St.Stephen's Day and visit from house to house. They would keep it up for 12 days, everyone clad in war equipment that was required to do battle in those days. It's a great play, well worth resurrecting for the benefit of future generations. I have seen the old fellows at Christmas time acting it, all dressed in uniform. There's no play today can come up to tlie old-fashioned mumming play, because at Christmas times everyone is into it."

(Note: In all cases Mr.Moss spells Christmas in the old form of "X Mass.")

Indexer's Notes:

This script was scanned from: H.Halpert & G.M.Story (eds) Christmas Mumming in Newfoundland - Essays in Anthropology, Folklore & History, London, University of Toronto Press, 1960, SBN 0-8020-3200-1, pp.202-207 [Reprinted: 1990, ISBN 0-8020-6767-0.]

Halpert and Story's Footnote:

"19 / Tape recordings of Mr.Barnabas Moss reciting the play were made in 1964 and again in 1965 by J.D.A.Widdowson."


File History:
2nd July 2004 - Scanned and encoded by Peter Millington

The recommended URL for this web page is www.folkplay.info/Texts/904853bm.htm
Last generated on 26/12/2007 by P.Millington (Peter.Millington1@virgin.net)