Souling Play from Huxley, Cheshire, 1913

A.Helm (1968) pp.24-28


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Context:
Location: Huxley, Cheshire, England (SJ5161)
Year: Perf. About 1913
Time of Occurrence: [Not given]
Collective Name: Souling

Source:

Alex Helm
Cheshire Folk Drama
Ibstock, Guizer Press, 1968


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

[All?]

{Song}

[1]

Here we are one, two, three hearty lads,
and we're all in one mind.
We have come a-souling good nature to find.
We have come a-souling as it does appear,
And it's all that we are souling for is your ale and strong beer.

[2]

For your lanes they are dirty and your meadows grow cold.
It's to find your good nature this night we make bold.
To try your good nature as it does appear,
And it's all we are souling for is your ale and good beer.

[3]

Dear master, dear mistress, do not tarry or spin,
But look for a jug to put some beer In.
And when we have got it, how soon we will see.
When we have drunk It, how merry we will be.

[4]

Step down in your cellars and there you will find
Both ale, rum, gin and brandy and the best of good wine.
And if you will draw us one jug of your beer
We'll come no more souling until this time next year.

All

Please open the doors and let all our merry actors in.
For we are all in favour for King George to win.
Whether he sits, stands, rise or fall,
We'll do our best to please you all.
If you don't believe these words I say,
Step in Big Head and clear the way.

Big Head

In comes I that never came yet,
With my big head and little wit.
Although my wits they be so small,
I'll do my best to please you all.
If you don't believe these words I say.
Step in King George and clear the way.

King George

In comes I, King George, that great and noble man of old.
With my sword and spear I won 10,000 in gold.
'Twas I who fought the fiery dragon
And brought him to the altar;
And on that very same day I won the King of Egypt's daughter.
If you don't believe these words I say,
Step in Violent Soldier and clear the way.

Violent Soldier

In comes I, the Violent Soldier,
Slasher is my name.
Sword and buckle by my side,
I hope to win this game.

King George

What art thou but a silly lad?

Violent Soldier

A Turkish Knight, come from Turkey land to fight.
I'll fight thee. King George,
King George, thou man of courage bold.
If thy blood be too hot
I'll quickly fetch it cold.

King George

This battle shall prepare.

{They cross swords, dig in ribs. falls to ground.}

Old Woman

King George, King George, what hast thou done?
Thou hast killed and slain my only son,
My only son, my only heir,
See how he lies bleeding there!

King George

He challenged me to fight and why should I deny?
I knew that in this battle either he or I
would surely have to die.

Old Woman

10, 10 for a doctor!
Is there never a doctor to be found?

Doctor

Yes! Yes! In comes I, Doctor Brown,
The cleverest doctor in the town.

Old Woman

How came you to be a doctor?

Doctor

By me travels.

Old Woman

Where have you travelled?

Doctor

Through hickity, pickity, all Germany and Spain,
To cure this dead man that lies here slain.

Old Woman

Can you cure my son?

Doctor

I'll try my very goodest.
I have in my inside, outside, frontside, backside, topside,
middleside, a bottle, which my Aunt Jane sent me from Spain,
to cure this dead man that lies here slain.
Here, Jack, take three drops out of this nip nop,
And let it run down thy yip yop.
Then rise and fight thee battle.

Violent Soldier

Oh! my back!

Old Woman

What ails thy back, my son?

Violent Soldier

My back is wounded, my heart is confounded.
He knocked me out of my seven senses into four score and ten,
What never was done in Old England before,
And I hope will never be done again.
If you don't believe these words I say,
Step in Beelzebub and clear the way.

Beelzebub

In comes I, Beelzebub,
On my shoulder I carry a club,
In my hand a frying pan to fry the ham and eggs in.
One day I thought myself a jolly old man,
I courted lasses plenty,
One by one and two by two,
But none so fair as smiling Nancy.
If you don't believe these words I say,
Step in Paddywhack and clear the way.

Paddywhack

In comes I Paddywhack, with Charlie on my back.
Lightweight from Dover,
Pikel steel whirler from Over,
Fought forty-five rounds in a dusthole
And came out without never a scratch.
I'm expected to make spectacles for broken backed ducks,
crutches for blind spiders,
What do you think of me, man?
If you don't believe these words I say,
Step in Tosspot and clear the way.

{Tossspot enters wagging his tail}

{All sing}

[All]

The next to come in is old Tosspot you see,
He's a valiant old man in every degree;
He's a valiant old man and he wears a pig's tail,
And all he delights in is drinking strong ale.
Fol-de-de-diddle urn, fol-de-de-de,
Fol-de-diddle urn fol de.


Notes:

Helm's Introduction:

"Collected by Brian Ballinger from Bill Gresty, (72), Newtown, Tattenhall, September 21st, 1958

Costume

Beelzebub - Carried a frying pan, knocking it with a stick. Wore a kilt. Black face.

Tosspot - Had a pigtail and a beard of cow's tail ends. Black face.

King George and the Violent Soldier - Uniforms of Cheshire Yeomanry. Wooden swords.

Old Woman - Woman's clothes, blouse, &c.

Doctor - Top hat and spectacles.

Paddywhack and Violent Soldier also had black faces. Horse's head was made of wood, but the horse was discontinued in the last few years of the Play's existence. When it appeared it was introduced between Paddywhack and Tosspot. Performances ended circa 1913 and the gang went round Huxley, Tattenhall and Weaverton. The music for the songs was not collected, but a melodeon provided the accompaniment."

Notes from Duncan Broomhead

Bill Gresty, whose version Ballinger collected and Helm published, also had his version of the play published in the letters section of the local newspaper, in it he included a whole chunk of extra words in the Doctors speech. He also spelt two of the character names differently to Helm. Paddywhack became Paddy Whack and Paddy-whack and Tosspot became Joss-Pot.

Ballinger also collected the play from Bill Cookson, who could not remember as complete a version of the play as Gresty had but he did remember the Horses head speech which did not get published.


File History:
22nd Feb.2002 - Scanned and Coded by Peter Millington
26th Sep.2005 - Notes added by Duncan Broomhead

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Last generated on 26/12/2007 by P.Millington (Peter.Millington1@virgin.net)