Soldiers acting at Christmas, Change Islands, Newfoundland - c.1900

J.J.Peckford (1949)


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Context:
Location: Change Islands, Newfoundland, Canada (4940' N, 5424' W)
Year: Perf. c.1900
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: Mummers; Soldiers

Source:

J.J.Peckford
[Title unknown]
The Newfoundlander, Dec.1949, pp.2-3


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

{SOLDIERS ACTING AT CHRISTMAS}

Roomer (Introduction Officer).

Room, room, gallant room, room required here tonight
For some of my bold champions are coming forth to fight;
Old act, new act, acts you never saw before,
For I am the very champion that brings old Father Christmas to your door,
And if you don't believe these words I say,
step in Father Christmas and boldly declare thy way.

Father Christmas.

Here comes I, old Father Christmas, welcome or welcome not,
I hope old Father Christmas will never be forgot;
Here comes I old Johnny Jack,
my wife and family on my back,
My wife so big and my children so small,
Takes more than a crumb of bread to feed them all,
And if you don't believe these words I say,
step in king George and boldly declare thy way.

King George.

Here comes I, King George, from old England I did spring,
Some of my victorious works I am going to bring;
I fought the fiery dragon, I brought him to the slaughter,
And by those very means I'll win fair Zebra,[18] King of Egypt's daughter.
And if you don't believe these words I say,
step in King of Egypt and boldly declare thy way.

King of Egypt.

Here comes I, the King of Egypt, in uniform do appear;
King George, king George, thy comrade is here;
He is a man of courage bold, I am his armour-bearer
To cut down his enemies if there are any of them here.
And if you don't believe these words I say,
step in Valiant Soldier and boldly declare thy way.

Valiant Soldier.

Here comes I, the Valiant Soldier, Slasher is my name,
Sword and pistol by my side, I hope to end the game,
One of my brothers I saw wounded, the other I saw slain,
And by those very means I'll fight King George all on the plain {takes a step}

{Next scene,}

King George.

Whist, whist, bold man, what thou art telling
Apple dumplings thou art selling,
Stand where thou art and call in Brother Turk to art thy part.

(Valiant Soldier).

Turk, Turk, come with speed,
help in my time of need,
Thy time of need I do implore,
I was never in such need before.

Turkish Knight.

Here comes I, the Turkish Knight,
come from the Turkish land to fight;
I'll fight King George with courage bold,
if his blood is hot I'll make it cold.

(King George again).

Who art thou that speak so bold?

(Turkish Knight).

Haul out thy purse and pay
for satisfaction I will have before I go away.

(King George).

No satisfaction thou shan't get, while I have strength to stand,
For I don't care for no Turk stands on this English land.

{They cross swords and both say}

[King George and Turkish Knight]

You and I the battle try,
if you conquer I will die.

(Turkish Knight).

I am cut' down but not quite dead,
It is only the pain lies in my head,
If I once on my two legs stood,
I'd fight King George to my knees in blood.

(King George).

On the ground thou dost lie, and the truth I'll tell to thee,
That if thou dost rise again thy butcher I will be.

(Turkish Knight).

Come, Valiant Soldier, be quick and smart,
And with my sword I will pierce King George's heart.

{Turkish Knight on his feet again, and continues}

I do not care for thee, King George, although thou art a champion bold,
I never saw that Englishman yet could make my blood run cold.

(King George).

You Turkish dog, King George is here, happy for another hour to come,
I'll cut thee and I'll hew thee, I am bound to let thee know,
I am bold King George from England before I let thee go.

{The two together with crossed swords}

[King George and Turkish Knight]

You and I the battle try,
if you conquer I will die.

{King George falls to the floor.}

(Turkish Knight).

Now the battle I have won, thank God I am free,
And if that man do rise again his butcher I will be.

King George

{King George rise from the floor and strikes the Turk.}

I suppose you thought that I was dead , but yet alive remain,
And go tell the doctor the Turkishman is slain.

(Father Christmas and the Doctor).

Doctor, doctor, come with speed,
Help me in my time of need,
My time of need I do implore,
I was never in such need before.

{Father Christmas then tries to revive the Turk himself, but with no success. He says}

[Father Christmas]

Is there a doctor to be found
Can heal my son of his deadly wound?

[Doctor].

Yes there is a doctor to be found
Can heal thy son of his deadly wound?

(Father Christmas).

What is thy fee?

(Doctor).

Fifty guineas is my fee, but if the money is paid down,
I will do it for ten pond [pound].

(Father Christmas).

What can you cure?

(Doctor).

I can cure the hits, fits, palsy and the gout,
If there is any evil spirit in this man I can sure drive it out.

(Father Christmas).

What kind of medicine have you got?

(Doctor).

I have a little bit of hare's grease and mare's grease,
The wig of a weasel and the wool of a frog,
And twenty-four ounces of September fog.

(Father Christmas).

Where do you rub all this stuff?

(Doctor).

I rub a little to his temple,
and a little to the crack-bone of his heart,
Arise, arise, bold champion, and boldly act thy part;
Arise, arise, my lofty man, I long to see you stand,
Open you eyes and look about, I will take you by the hand.

{The man comes to his feet.}

(Pickedy Wick).

Here comes I, Pickedy Wick,
put my hand in my pocket and pay what I thinks fit;
Ladies and gentlemen, sit down to their ease,
Put their hands in their pockets and pay what they please,
And if you don't believe those words I say,
step in Beelzebub and boldly clear thy way.

(Beelzebub).

Here comes I, Beelzebub,
under my arm I carries my club;
In my hand I keeps my pan,
I thinks myself a jolly fine man.
Money I wants, money I crave,
and money I'll have to carry me to my grave
And if you don't believe those words I say,
step in bold Hercules and boldly clear thy way.

(Bold Hercules).

Here comes I, bold Hercules, I boldly stem the weather,
I took the rainbow from the skies and spliced both ends together,
And if you don't believe those words I say,
step in Jack Tar and boldly clear thy way.

(Jack Tar).

Here comes I, Jack Tar, just returned from the sea, sir,
With the shines on my breast, and what do you think of me, sir?
I am a brisk young sailor and always on the sea,
And now I am home, my heroes, I am full of life and glee;
The battle will soon be over and now we will sing one song,
And we will cheer our hardy comrades as we gladly march along.

{All the company then form into a ring, with Father Christmas in the center, and they sing the following ditty}

[All]

The pig and the bug and the bumble-bee,
There is one more river to cross;
The pig and the bug and the bumble-bee,
There is one more river to cross.
One more river and that's the river of Jordan,
One more river, there is one more river to cross.

{THE END OF THE PLAY}


Notes:

Indexer's Notes:

The electronic version of text originally came from Academy http://www.k12.nf.ca/arscammell/career/play.htm, scanned by Madonna Hurley and Lori LeDrew, A.R.Scammell.

This has been proof-read against, and notes added 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.197202 [Reprinted: 1990, ISBN 0-8020-6767-0.]

Hurley and LeDrew's notes:

"By: J.J.Peckford

Two or three versions of the play have been preserved. This one is by J.J.Peckford of Change Islands and appeared in The Newfoundlander in December 1949. Mr. Peckford recalled the play from memory. He was acquainted with it as a school boy in Change Islands around 1900."

Original Introduction:

"[This version of the play] is from the memory of Mr. Peckford, who says that it was performed at Change Islands, Fogo District, when he was a boy of 10 or 12, about 50 years ago. Mr. Peckford never saw the words in print, lint lie believes his version from memory is pretty near the mark.

'It was,' continues Mr.Peckford, 'introduced to our young people by an English schoolmaster, Mr.Justinia [sic] Dowell [17] by name. 'The soldiers, as we called them' - actors in the play - 'would start St. Stephen's Day and visit all tlie houses in the town and would keep it up for several days. They would have quite a jolly time, and they looked very smart in their trimmed pants, white shirts and high hat witli ribbons and tassles (they were dressed to kill!). They also carried swords made from birchwood, and made prop- erly, too.' Mr. Peckford's version of the old mummers' play follows:

Original Conclusion:

"Mr Peckford gives a description of the uniforms worn by the 'mumming' actors: blue pants witb red ship [sic] on the side seams, white shirt and a belt, with stars on their breast. Hats with stars on them and colored tassles. However, Father Christmas was dressed in Father Christmas style, the doctor in professional attire, and Jack Tar in a navy suit."

Halpert and Story's footnotes:

"17 / This is Justinian Dowell, a teacher with the Anglican School Board in Fogo District towards the end of the nineteenth century. He was listed as a 'Way' or postal official at Change Islands in 1887 (see A Year Book and Almanac of Newfoundland 1887, p.61). Mr.Fred Kirby, the Anglican Superintendent of Education, has kindly informed us that Dowell's name occurs in departmental records from this district between 1887 and 1909."

"18 / i.e., Sabra. Chambers, The English Folk Play, discusses her appearance in both plays and chap-books."


File History:
1999 - Scanned by Madonna Hurley & Lori leDrew
13th Nov.1999 - Encoded by Peter Millington
2nd July 2004 - Notes added and file renamed from 90----pj to 904954pj by PTM

The recommended URL for this web page is www.folkplay.info/Texts/904954pj.htm
Last generated on 26/12/2007 by P.Millington (Peter.Millington1@virgin.net)