Mummies, St.Kitts, New Year's Day 1966

R.D.Abrahams (1968) pp.177-185


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Context:
Location: Phillips, St.Kitts, British West Indes (17° 21' N, 62° 45' W)
Year: Perf. 1966
Time of Occurrence: New Year's Day
Collective Name: Mummies

Source:

Abrahams, Roger D.
"Pull Out Your Purse and Pay" : A St George Mumming from the British West Indies
Folklore, 1968, Vol.79, No.3, pp.177-185, Plate IV


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

{MUMMIES I}

The Fool:

Good morrow, friends and neighbours here,
We are quite glad to meet you all here,
For Christmas comes but once a year,
When it comes it brings good cheer,
When it gone no longer near.
May luck attend the milking pail;
Yule logs and cakes, all plenty be,
When the wind blow church's field produce good famility.
When all our Mummies time come round

Father Christmas:

Here comes Old Father Christmas, welcome or welcome not,
I hope Old Father Christmas will never forgot.
My knees are weak, my head is white,
My strength I spent.
Three hundred and thirty-three years is a very great age for me.
If I should go all this time what a monster I will be.
I have but a short time to stay.
Who don't believe me what I say,
Come in little James Dolly and clear the way.

James Dolly:

There come the little James Dolly,
Wearing very small cap and all made falling.
If any young gent'man which care to take my wing should,
I would set my holiday cap at him.
What for he to laugh at my cap, he will be very rude.
I am hope you all are not intrude.
A grand man at the door will stand,
And walk in with drawn sword in hand.
Who don't believe me what I say,
Let one Fool and four might from the Bush [British] Island come in and clear the way.

The Fool:

Room, room here, gallant' give us room!
Room to sport and room to rector.
For remember, good sir, now is our merriment in actor time.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Through the sound of our trumpet and the beating of our drum,
Gallant', give us room.
We are the merry actors that traverse in the street,
We are the merry actors that plays from ever' meet,
We are the merry actors that show pleasant play.
Stand forth St George and boldly clear the way.

St George:

I am St George, from Good Old England sprung,
My famous name throughout this world have rung,
Many bloody deeds have I shown,
And made fear tyrant' tremble on their throne.
I follow a fair lady to a giant's gate;
Confined in dungeon deep now as to meet her fate.
With true knight's [strength] as to bust the door asunder
And to set the captive free.
Hark, how I fight, and little do I rest,
All delight of this right hand to shown and to oppress.
But now I slay that Dragon,
That fear and fiery Dragon he.
I'll clip his wings, he shall not fly.
I'll rid the land of him or else I'll die.

Dragon:

Who is it seeks the Dragon' blood
And speak so angry and so loud?
That English dog who look so proud?
If I catch him with my claws,
Long teeth and harriéd jaws,
I will break off his core,
And increase my appetite for more.
Marrow from your bone' I will squeeze,
And suck your blood up by degrees.

{They fight; St George is the victor}

St George:

I am St George, what are bold champion bold,
And by my sword and spear I own three crowns of gold.
And my behaviour, I own the power of the King of Egypt's daughter.
So stand forth Egypt's daughter and boldly act the part.

Princess of Shava

I am the Princess of Shava, it is my only delight,
The sweet pleasure to be the bride of this great gallant knight.

{They go off.}

St Patrick:

I am St Patrick from the bog, this truth I alone defend me,
Hiburnum succour tugs and frogs, from beautiful Hibernum.
I flourish my Sorilla, wild reptile' unres',
'E took himself way out into the sea, and never shown 'e face.

Black Prince:

I am Black Prince of Paradine, born of high renown.
Soon will I cut your lawful courage down.
Cry grace, Irish conqueror, with tugs and frogs.
Give me your sword, or else I'll give your carcass to the dogs.

St Patrick:

Now, Black Prince of Paradine, where have you been?
Pray, what fine sight' thou had seen?
There is no man of your age,
So black and so engage.
Stand off, thou black Morocco dog,
And all by my sword you shall die,
I'll place your body full of holes,
And I will make your button' fly.

{They fight, and St Patrick kills the Black Prince.}

Now, Black Prince of Paradine is dead,
And I carry his terrible head.
Take him now and carry him to . . . fly,
That he will never come near my eye.

King of Egypt:

I am the King of Egypt, so plainly does appear.
I come to seek my son, my only son and heir.

St Patrick:

He is dead, and that's the worse of it!

King of Egypt:

Whom did him slay and whom did him kill?
And on the ground his precious blood is spilled.

St Patrick:

I did him slay, and I did him kill.
And on the ground his precious blood is spilled.
Please, my league, my honour to maintain,
So have I done and that would I do again.

King of Egypt:

Cursed Christian, what have done by ruin me and slay my only son!

St Patrick:

Is he who gave me the challenge, and why should I him deny?
Look, sir, how him lie, that held himself so high.

King of Egypt:

So Hector, run here with speed,
And strengthen all my need.
Run with sword in hand,
And fight, kill at my command.

Hector:

Yes, yes, my league, I will obey,
And with my sword and spear, I hope to win the day.
It is the hero who stand here
Has slew my master' son and dear?
Although he may sprung from royal blood,
I'll make him run like an ocean flood.

{They fight; Hector is killed.}

King of Egypt:

Is there never a doctor to be found
That can cure my son that is deep and deadly wound?

Doctor:

Yes, here I am.

King of Egypt:

Are you the doctor?

Doctor:

Yes, which you may plainly see
By my act and activity.

King of Egypt:

What can you cure?

Doctor:

I can cure all complaints, within and without,
From the bottom of your gout to the top of your head.
Any more than that I can maintain in my pocket.
Crutches for lame ducks,
Picks and packs for lame and sore and prackpickle for blind bumblebees.
I have a little bottle that goes by the name of 'worthless' and which would tame
The champion Rise and fight again.
Here, sir, take a little out of my flip-flop,
And pour it up and through your tip-top.
And if though be not quite slain,
Arise man and fight again.

{Hector comes back to life.}

Hector:

I am a valiant hero, and Hector is my name.
Many battles have I fought, and many have I gain'.
But from there St Patrick I remain
So sad and deadly name. {Goes off.}

St Andrew:

I am St Andrew from the North.
Men from that part are men of wrath.
Two trial' short, but not in t'ought.
I will treat you plain with my true.
Here come' a man just now look read for a fray.
Come in, come in, you bravely soldier and boldly clear the way.

Bold Slasher:

I am a valiant soldier and Slasher is my name.
With sword and buckler by my side, I hope to win most plain.
But for you to fight with me, I see thou art not able,
For if I draw my broadsword, soon will I disable.

St Andrew:

Disable? Disable? That is not in your power.
For with my trusty broadsword, nation' I devour.
So stand up Slasher and let no more to be said,
For if I draw my trusty broadsword, I will surely break your head.

Bold Slasher:

How can you break my head when my head is made of iron,
My body is made of steel;
My hand' and feet are made of knucklebone?
I will challenge you to feel.

{They fight; Slasher is killed.}

The Fool:

Alas, alas, a cheer son of mine is slain.
What must I do to rise him up again?
I must now send for a doctor.
A doctor, a doctor. Ten pounds ten for a doctor.

Doctor:

Yes, yes, here I am.

The Fool:

Are you the doctor?

Doctor:

Yes, which you may plainly see,
By my act and activity.
That you find five pound' is my fee, but Jack, since thou are a fool, I will only take ten pounds ten.

The Fool:

How far did you travel in doctorship?

Doctor:

From the kitchen to the cupboard to the fireplace, upstairs and into bed.
So fool, so far and no farther.

The Fool:

And no farther?

Doctor:

Yes, yes, much farther.

The Fool:

How far?

Doctor:

Through England, Ireland, Flanders, France and Spain,
And now I return to cure the diseases of old England again.
These, sir, take a little out of my bottle
And let it run down your throttle.
And if thou be not quite slain,
Rise man and fight again.

Bold Slasher:

Oh, my back, my back is wounded,
My heart is confounded.
Struck seven senses into four score,
The like of Old England I have never seen in before.
I hear the silver trumpet sound,
Summons me off this bloody ground.
Fare you well, I no longer stay.
Down and long is my way.

The Fool:

Yes, Slasher, thou better go a second time,
Those blow' will split your body t'rough.

St David:

Of Staffilan, I am patience sent.
Oh, yes indeed, I would acquaint thee.
Of Ancient Britain I have a race,
And there to meet a foeman face to face.
For a Welshman heard it once again,
We are born before all other men.
I fear no man in fight, nor flee,
While grace produces cheese or leeks.

Turkish Knight:

Here comes I, the Turkish Knight,
Comes from the Turkish land to fight.
I took St David for my foe,
And make him kneel before I go.
He brag' himself to such a high degree,
He thought there was never a knight but he.
But, oh draw thy sword, St David, thou man of courage bold,
If your quench' blood is hot, soon will I fetch it cold.

St David:

Where are the Turk who stand before me, let him stand.
And I will cut him down with my courageous hand.

Turkish Knight:

Pull out your purse and pay,
Draw out your sword and slay,
For satisfaction I must have before I go away.

{They fight; St David brings the Turk to his knees.}

Turkish Knight:

Quarter, good Christian, grace to thee I crave;
Pardon me this day and I will be your slave.

St David:

I keep no slave, thou Turkish Knight.
Rise thee up again and try your might.

{They fight again; Turk is killed.}

St George:

I am the chief of all these valiant knights,
I spilt my heart' blood just for old England's right.
For England's honour I would maintain,
I'll fight for old England once again.
I challenge all my country folks.

Giant:

Don't want, thus, thou my courageous knight,
For in the war I and you have seen some sights
In Palestine, in days of war, against forest(?) strong.
Each mighty host reign, won and lost,
I is for the Crescent and you is for the Cross,

Plate IV
The Queen of Shava
THE QUEEN OF SHAVA
Here Come I, Father Christmas
HERE COMES I, FATHER CHRISTMAS

I boldly crush a swear.
Many a thousand men I've slain
And ate three hundred twice per day,
But now I became a giant great.

Page:

Hold, hold, St George,
I go along with and fight with that pagan champion and conquer him.

{They foght' the page is killed.}

James Dolly:

Call not the Doctor.
I would give the child a little chicken physic
to make hime rise and fight again.

St George:

Ah, Saladin, ought thou comest against St George
with sword and spear in Christendom,
so rashly to withstand?

Giant:

Yes, St George, with thee alone I mean to fight.
But with one blow, I would let you know
I am not the Turkish Knight.

{They fight; the giant is killed.}


Notes:

Abrahams' Introduction:

"The first text was collected [Note 3] on St Kitts, British West Indies from a group of resident Negroes who have been playing what they call 'Mummies' all their lives. It was observed on New Year's Day 1966 being played on the main road on the south side of the island, but performed by a group from Phillips, which is in one of the Northern parishes. The play has been associated with Phillips and its neighbour town, Lodge Village, for as long as Kittitians can remember, and until recently, two troupes played the piece. The cast was;

Fool - William Michum

Father Christmas - Thomas Wilson

St Patrick - Solomon Mills

St George - Edwin Odane

Dragon - Edwin French

Giant - Daniel Phillips

Princess of Shava - Ralph Benjamin (age nine)

It will be noted that this is not the complete cast of characters. Rather, it is the names given by the men for their first role. Each person took at least two roles - for instance, Father Christmas was also the Doctor, St Patrick also played St Andrew, and so on. The reasons given were that not enough players came out that year, but this kind of doubling up had always gone on they maintained.

The text of the play is a composite of how they gave the play that day plus a text written for me by the 'captain' of the group Edwin Odane. This he insisted on giving me because he, and the other veterans of the group, said that they had not given the play 'right' that day (but in the script he omitted much which they had given)."

Abrahams' Footnote:

Note 3: "Material presented here was collected while a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, to whom I owe my thanks for the opportunity to study West Indian dramatic traditions."

Indexer's Notes:

In P.Millington (1996) Mrs Ewing and the Textual Origin of the St Kitts Mummies' Play, Folklore, 1996, Vol.107, pp.77-89, it is shown that the St.Kitts and Nevis Mummies' plays derived their texts from J.H.Ewing (1884) A Christmas Mumming Play, Aunt Judy's Magazine [New Series], Jan.1884, Vol.3, pp.155-173 [Full Text].


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