"The Mummer's Play is a Christmas-time activity, and I am indebted to Mr Sidney Wilson of Frankby for the following words I wrote down at his dictation, as spoke by the team he used to take round farm kitchens, inn parlours and the houses of the gentry, up to the year 1937. He has learnt the words from his father, who, in his turn, had received them from his father .... He called this performance "Beezebubbing"..
LITTLE WIT - Red pants and tails: top-hat and big bow-tie.
KING GEORGE - Old red military tunic: blue pants with red stripe down side: wooden sword: helmet of some kind.
BOLD SLASHER - Khaki uniform with wooden sword. Helmet.
DOCTOR BROWN - Tails, top-hat, large portmanteau full of bottles, etc.
BEELZEBUB - Old man with beard and hump on back: old hat: carrying dripping-tin. Long tail of plaited straw stiffened with a wire.
All have blackened faces.
Enter LITTLE WIT:
In comes I that's never been yet,
With my big head and little wit.
Although my wit is very small,
I'll do my best to please you all.
Stir up that fire and give us a light,
For in this house there'll be a fight.
If you don;t believe in what I say,
Step in King George and clear the way.
Enter KING GEORGE:
In comes I, King George, the noble champion bold.
It was me that fought the fiery dragon and won ten thousand in gold.
It was me that followed the fair lady to the giant's gate.
The giant he almost struck me dead;
I drew my broad and trusty sword
And nearly cut off his head.
BOLD SLASHER shouts from outside: Ha! Ha!! and enters:
The valiant soldier, Bold Slasher is my name,
If I was to draw my broad and trusty sword, I'd surely win the game.
KING GEORGE: How can'st thou win the game
When my head is made of iron;
My body's made of steel;
My hands and feet are made of knuckle-bone?
I'll challenge thee to fight.
BOLD SLASHER: Pull out thy purse and pay.
KING GEORGE: Pull out thy sword and slay,
Or else we'll have a recompense before we go away.
BOLD SLASHER: Right.
Both start to fight. KING GEORGE stabs BOLD SLASHER, who falls.
LITTLE WIT: (shouts) Doctor! Doctor!
DOCTOR BROWN: (shouts from outside) No doctor to be found.
LITTLE WIT: Ten pounds for a doctor.
DOCTOR BROWN enters:
In comes I, Doctor Brown.
The best old doctor in the town.
LITTLE WIT: How came you to be a doctor?
DOCTOR: By my travels.
LITTLE WIT: Where did you travel?
DOCTOR: Hickity, Dickity, France and Spain.
Back to old England to cure the man that lives in the lane.
LITTLE WIT: How much will you cure this man for?
DOCTOR: Ten pounds.
LITTLE WIT: No less?
DOCTOR: (feeling BOLD SLASHER'S pulse) Nine, and a bottle of wine.
LITTLE WIT: Cure him.
DOCTOR opens portmanteau, takes out several bottles and mixes a concoction:
Now, Jack, open thy throttle,
Take three drops from this bottle.
Rise up Bold Slasher and fight a battle.
BOLD SLASHER rises up and starts to fight KING GEORGE.
LITTLE WIT: Put up thy swords and be at rest,
For peace and quietness is the best.
In comes I, old Beezlebub.
On my back I carry a knob,
Under my arm I've a dripping pan;
I think myself a jolly old man.
I court the lassies plenty,
One by one, two by two;
But there's none to come up to my fancy.
I've a little tin under my arm,
A copper or two will do it no harm;
A shilling or two will do it some good,
Please ladies and gentlemen, put something in good."
Ellison is pretty sure that 'Bold Slasher' is Summer and that 'King George' is winter. I think I agree. If any of you have any ideas on who the rest of the characters are, or were, what the words might signify or how old the pattern of the mummery is, then I would be interested to hear it.