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The Baldwin Library
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THE PEACE EGG
A CHRISTMAS MUMMING PLAY.
He gave her her choice between the Captain and Iii own favour andi money.
She chose the Captain."- '\ G 7.
[F ontissi ce.
"I~~~~e gav he e coc etenth at in an ion acr n ny
Sh hs heCpan" l,;I:7
F o tspiece
THE PEACE EGG
JULIANA HORATIA EWING
AUTHOR OF JACKANAPESS," ETC., ETC., ETC.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY GORDON BROWNE
ENGRAVED AND PRINTED iB EDMUND EVANS.
SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE
NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE, CARING CROSS, W.(
43, QUEEN VICTORIA STREET, E.C.;
26, ST. GEORGE'S PLACE, HYDE PARK CORNER, S.W.
BRIGHTON: 135, NORTH STREET.
NEW YORK: E. & J. B YOUNG & C((
1 1) N D 0 N
ENGRAVED AND PRINTED BY EDMUND EVANS
RACQUFT COURT, FLEET STREET
THE PEACE EGG.
A CHRISTMAS TALE.
VERY one ought to be happy
at Christmas. But there are
many things which ought to be,
and yet are not; and people
are sometimes sad even in the
The Captain and his wife were
sad, though it was Christmas
Eve. Sad, though they were in
( the prime of life, blessed with
2 good health, devoted to each
other and to their children, with
competent means, a comfortable
'' house on a little freehold pro-
/;< .' perty of their own, and, one
might say, everything that heart
could desire. Sad, though they
were good people, whose peace of mind had a firmer
foundation than their earthly goods alone; contented
people, too, with plenty of occupation for mind and body.
Sad-and in the nursery this was held to be past all reason
-though the children were performing that ancient and
most entertaining Play or Christmas Mystery of Good St.
George of England, known as The Peace Egg, for their
benefit and behoof alone.
The play was none the worse that most of the actors
were too young to learn parts, so that there was very little
of the rather tedious dialogue, only plenty of dress and
ribbons, and of fighting with the wooden swords. But
though St. George looked bonny enough to warm any
6 THINKING OF THE DAYS
father's heart, as he marched up and down with an air
learned by watching many a parade in barrack-square and
drill-ground, and though the Valiant Slasher did not cry in
spite of falling hard and the Doctor treading accidentally
on his little finger in picking him up, still the Captain and
his wife sighed nearly as often as they smiled, and the
mother dropped tears as well as pennies into the cap which
the King of Egypt brought round after the performance.
THE CAPTAIN'S WIFE.
,l ANY many years
back the Captain's
wife had been a
l child herself, and
/', I' had laughed to see
I 1. the village mum-
mers act the Peace
S Egg, and had been
t I quite happy on
Happy, though she
had no mother.
Happy, though her
father was a stern
man, very fond or
his only child, but
with an obstinate
will that not even
/ she dared thwart.
She had lived to
thwart it, and he
had never forgiven
her. It was when she married the Captain. The old man had
THAT ARE NO MORE. 7
a prejudice against soldiers, which was quite reason enough,
in his opinion, for his daughter to sacrifice the happiness of
her future life by giving up the soldier she loved. At last
he gave her her choice between the Captain and his own
favour and money. She chose the Captain, and was dis-
owned and disinherited.
The Captain bore a high character, and was a good and
clever officer, but that went for nothing against the old
man's whim. He made a very good husband too; but
even this did not move his father-in-law, who had never
held any intercourse with him or his wife since the day of
their marriage, and who had never seen his own grand-
children. Though not so bitterly prejudiced as the old
father, the Captain's wife's friends had their doubts about
the marriage. The place was not a military station, and
they were quiet country folk who knew very little about
soldiers, whilst what they imagined was not altogether
favourable to "red-coats," as they called them. Soldiers
are well-looking generally, it is true (and the Captain was
more than well-looking-he was handsome); brave, of
course, it is their business (and the Captain had V.C. after
his name and several bits of ribbon on his patrol jacket).
But then, thought the good people, they are here to-day
and gone to-morrow, you never know where you have
them;' they are probably in debt, possibly married to
several women in several foreign countries, and, though
they are very courteous in society, who knows how they
treat their wives when they drag them off from their natural
friends and protectors to distant lands where no one can
call them to account?
Ah, poor thing !" said Mrs. John Bull, junior, as she
took off her husband's coat on his return from business, a
week after the Captain's wedding, "I wonder how she feels?
There's no doubt the old man behaved disgracefully; but
it's a great risk marrying a soldier. It stands to reason,
8 THE LAW OF COMPENSATION.
military men aren't domestic; and I wish-Lucy Jane,
fetch your papa's slippers, quick !-she'd had the sense to
settle down comfortably amongst her friends with a man
who would have taken care of her."
"Officers are a wild set, I expect," said Mr. Bull, com-
placently, as he stretched his limbs in his own particular
armchair, into which no member of his family ever in-
truded. "But the red-coats carry the day with plenty of
girls who ought to know better. You women are always
caught by a bit of finery. However, there's no use our
bothering our heads about it. As she has brewed she must
The Captain's wife's baking was lighter and more
palatable than her friends believed. The Captain (who
took off his own coat when he came home, and never wore
slippers but in his dressing-room) was domestic enough.
A selfish companion must, doubtless, be a great trial amid
the hardships of military life, but when a soldier is kind-
hearted, he is often a much more helpful and thoughtful
and handy husband than any equally well-meaning civilian.
Amid the ups and downs of their wanderings, the dis-
comforts of shipboard and of stations in the colonies, bad
servants, and unwonted sicknesses, the Captain's tenderness
never failed. If the life was rough the Captain was ready.
He had been, by turns, in one strait or another, sick-nurse,
doctor, carpenter, nursemaid, and cook to his family, and
had, moreover, an idea that nobody filled these offices quite
so well as himself. Withal, his very profession kept him
neat, well-dressed, and active. In the roughest of their
ever-changing quarters he was a smarter man, more like
the lover of his wife's young days, than Mr. Bull amid his
stationary comforts. Then if the Captain's wife was-as
her friends said never settled," she was also for ever
entertained by new scenes; and domestic mischances do
not weigh very heavily on people whose possessions are
CIECO E L'OCCHIO, SE L'ANIMO E DISTRATTO 9
few and their intellectual interests many. It is true that
there were ladies in the Captain's regiment who passed by
sea and land from one quarter of the globe to another,
amid strange climates and customs, strange trees and
flowers, beasts and birds, from the glittering snows of
North America to the orchids of the Cape, from beautiful
Pera to the lily-covered hills of Japan, and who in no
place rose above the fret of domestic worries, and had little
to tell on their return but of the universal misconduct of
servants, from Irish "helps" in the colonies, to compradors
and China-boys at Shanghai. But it was not so with the
Captain's wife. Moreover, one becomes accustomed to
one's fate, and she moved her whole establishment from
the Curragh to Corfu with less anxiety than that felt by
Mrs. Bull over a port-wine stain on the best table-cloth.
And yet, as years went and children came, the Captain
and his wife grew tired of travelling. New scenes were
small comfort when they heard of the death of old friends.
One foot of murky English sky was dearer, after all, than
miles of the unclouded heavens of the South. The grey
hills and over-grown lanes of her old home haunted the
Captain's wife by night and day, and home-sickness (that
weariest of all sicknesses) began to take the light out of
her eyes before their time. It preyed upon the Captain
too. Now and then he would say, fretfully, I should like
an English resting-place, however small, before everybody
is dead! But the children's prospects have to be con-
sidered." The continued estrangement from the old man
was an abiding sorrow also, and they had hopes that, if
only they could get to England, he might be persuaded to
peace and charity this time.
At last they were sent home. But the hard old father
still would not relent. He returned their letters unopened.
This bitter disappointment made the Captain's wife so ill
that she almost died, and in one month the Captain's hair
IO IT IS DARKEST BEFORE DAWN.
became iron grey. He reproached himself for having ever
taken the daughter from her father, to kill her at last," as
he said. And (thinking of his own children) he even re-
proached himself for having robbed the old widower of his
only child. After two years at home his regiment was
ordered to India. He failed to effect an exchange, and
they prepared to move once more-from Chatham to Cal-
cutta. Never before had the packing to which she was so
well accustomed, been so bitter a task to the Captain's wife.
It was at the darkest hour of this gloomy time that the
Captain came in, waving above his head a letter which
changed all their plans.
Now close by the old home of the Captain's wife there
had lived a man, much older than herself, who yet had
loved her with a devotion as great as that of the young
Captain. She never knew it, for when he saw that she
had given her heart to his younger rival, he kept silence,
and he never asked for what he knew he might have had-
the old man's authority in his favour. So generous was
the affection which he could never conquer, that he con-
stantly tried to reconcile the father to his children whilst
he lived, and, when he died, he bequeathed his house and
small estate to the woman he had loved.
"It will be a legacy of peace," he thought, on his death-
bed. "The old man cannot hold out when she and her
children are constantly in sight. And it may please GOD
that I shall know of the reunion I have not been permitted
-to see with my eyes."
And thus it came about that the Captain's regiment
went to India without him, and that the Captain's wife and
her father lived on opposite sides of the same road.
WHO GOES THERE? II
HE eldest of the Captain's
children was a boy. He was
named Robert, after his grand-
father, and seemed to have in-
Sherited a good deal of the old
gentleman's character, mixed
with gentler traits. He was a
/ I fair, fine boy, tall and.stout for
his age, with the Captain's
regular features, and (he flat-
tered himself) the Captain's
firm step and martial bearing.
He was apt-like his grand-
father-to hold his own will to
i,!i be other people's law, and
(happily for the peace of the
ig ( ,nursery) this opinion was de-
voutly shared by his brother
Nicholas. Though the Captain had sold his commission,
Robin continued to command an irregular force of volun-
teers in the nursery, and never was colonel more despotic.
His brothers and sister were by turn infantry, cavalry,
engineers, and artillery, according to his whim, and when
his affections finally settled upon the Highlanders of "The
Black Watch," no female power could compel him to keep
his stockings above his knees, or his knickerbockers below
The Captain alone was a match for his strong-willed
If you please, sir," said Sarah, one morning, flouncing
12 ALL'S WELL!
in upon the Captain, just as he was about to start for the
neighboring town,-" If you please, sir, I wish you'd speak
to Master Robert. He's past my powers."
I've no doubt of it," thought the Captain, but he only
said, Well, what's the matter?"
"Night after night do I put him to bed," said Sarah,
"and night after night does he get up as soon as I'm out of
the room, and says he's orderly officer for the evening, and
goes about in his night-shirt and his feet as bare as
The Captain fingered his heavy moustache to hide a
smile, but he listened patiently to Sarah's complaints.
"It ain't so much him I should mind, sir," she con-
tinued, "but he goes round the beds and wakes up the
other young gentlemen and Miss Dora, one after another,
and when I speak to him, he gives me all the sauce he can
lay his tongue to, and says he's going round the guards.
The other night I tried to put him back in his bed, but
he got away and ran all over the house, me hunting him
everywhere, and not a sign of him, till he jumps out on me
from the garret-stairs and nearly knocks me down. I've
visited the outposts, Sarah,' says he; 'all's well.' And off
he goes to bed as bold as brass."
"Have you spoken to your mistress?" asked the
"Yes, sir," said Sarah. And missis spoke to him, and
he promised not to go round the guards again."
Has he broken his promise ?" asked the Captain, with
a look of anger, and also of surprise.
"When I opened the door last night, sir," continued
Sarah, in her shrill treble, "what should I see in the dark
but Master Robert a-walking up and down with the carpet-
brush stuck in his arm. 'Who goes there?' says he. 'You
owdacious boy!' says I, 'Didn't you promise your ma you'd
leave off them tricks?' I'm not going round the guards,'
"' I'm for sentry-duty to-night You mustn't speak to a
sentry on duty.' "-PAGE 14.
14 DUTY'S IRON CROWN.
says he; 'I promised not. But I'm for sentry-duty to-
night.' And say what I would to him, all he had for me
was, 'You mustn't speak to a sentry on duty.' So I says,
'As sure as I live till morning, I'll go to your pa,' for he
pays no more attention to his ma than to me, nor to any
Please to see that the chair-bed in my dressing-room
is moved into your mistress's bedroom," said the Captain.
" I will attend to Master Robert."
With this Sarah had to content herself, and she went
back to the nursery. Robert was nowhere to be seen, and
made no reply to her summons. On this the unwary
nursemaid flounced into the bedroom to look for him,
when Robert, who was hidden beneath a table, darted
forth, and promptly locked her in.
You're under arrest," he shouted, through the keyhole.
Let me out !" shrieked Sarah.
I'll send a file of the guard to fetch you to the orderly-
room, by-and-by," said Robert, for 'preferring frivolous
complaints.'" And he departed to the farmyard to look
at the ducks.
That night, when Robert went up to bed, the Captain
quietly locked him into his dressing-room, from which the
bed had been removed.
You're for sentry duty, to-night," said the Captain.
" The carpet-brush is in the corner. Good-evening."
As his father anticipated, Robert was soon tired of the
sentry game in these new circumstances, and long before
the night had half worn away he wished himself safely
undressed and in his own comfortable bed. At half-past
twelve o'clock he felt as if he could bear it no longer, and
knocked at the Captain's door.
"Who goes there ?" said the Captain.
Mayn't I go to bed, please ?" whined poor Robert.
Certainly not," said the Captain. "You're on duty."
And on duty poor Robert had to remain, for the
Captain had a will as well as his son. So he rolled him-
self up in his father's railway rug, and slept on the floor.
The next night he was very glad to go quietly to bed,
and remain there.
IN THE NURSERY.
K -. .. "
S'' HE Captain's children sat
Sat breakfast in a large,
bright nursery. It was
the room where the old
bachelor had died, and
; now her children made it
merry. This was just what
he would have wished.
They all sat round the
table, for it was breakfast-
time. There were five of
Them, and five bowls of
boiled bread and milk
i .smoked before them. Sarah
(a foolish, gossipping girl,
who acted as nurse till
better could be found) was
-waiting on them, and by
the table sat Darkie, the
black retriever, his long,
curly back swaying slightly
from the difficulty of holding himself up, and his solemn
hazel eyes fixed very intently on each and all of the
breakfast bowls. He was as silent and sagacious as Sarah
was talkative and empty-headed. The expression of his
face was that of King Charles I. as painted by Vandyke.
Though large, he was unassuming. Pax, the pug, on the
contrary, who came up to the first joint of Darkie's leg,
stood defiantly on his dignity (and his short stumps). He
always placed himself in front of the bigger dog, and made
a point of hustling him in doorways and of going first
downstairs. He strutted like a beadle, and carried his tail
more tightly curled than a bishop's crook. He looked, as
one may imagine the frog in the fable would have looked,
had he been able to swell himself rather nearer to the size
of the ox. This was partly due to his very prominent
eyes, and partly to an obesity favoured by habits of lying
inside the fender, and of eating meals proportioned more to
his consequence than to his hunger. They were both
favourites of two years' standing, and had very nearly been
given away, when the good news came of an English home
for the family, dogs and all.
Robert's tongue was seldom idle, even at meals. Are
you a Yorkshirewoman, Sarah?" he asked, pausing, with
his spoon full in his hand.
No, Master Robert," said Sarah.
But you understand Yorkshire, don't you? I can't,
very often; but Mamma can, and can speak it, too. Papa
says Mamma always talks Yorkshire to servants and poor
people. She used to talk Yorkshire to Themistocles, Papa
said, and he said it was no good ; for though Themistocles
knew a lot of languages, he didn't know that. And
Mamma laughed, and said she didn't know she did."-
"Themistocles was our man-servant in Corfu," Robin
added, in explanation. He stole lots of things, Themis-
tocles did; but Papa found him out."
Robin now made a rapid attack on his bread-and-milk,
after which he broke out again.
Sarah, who is that tall old gentleman at church, in the
TIE CHILD SAITII NOTHING 17
seat near the pulpit? He wears a cloak like what the
Blues wear, only all blue, and is tall enough for a Life-
guardsman. He stood when we were kneeling down, and
said, Almighty and most merciful Father louder than any-
Sarah knew who the old gentleman was, and knew also
that the children did not know, and that their parents did
not see fit to tell them as yet. But she had a passion for
telling and hearing news, and would rather gossip with a
child than not gossip at all. Never you mind, Master
Robin," she said, nodding sagaciously. Little boys aren't
to know everything."
"Ah, then, I know you don't know," replied Robert;
"if you did, you'd tell. Nicholas, give some of your bread
to Darkie and Pax. I've done mine. For what we have
received the Lord make us truly thankful. Say your grace
and put your chair away, and come along. I want to hold
a court-martial." And seizing his own chair by the seat,
Robin carried it swiftly to its corner. As he passed Sarah
he observed tauntingly, "You pretend to know, but you
I do," said Sarah.
You don't," said Robin.
"Your ma's forbid you to contradict, Master Robin,"
said Sarah; "and if you do I shall tell her. I know well
enough who the old gentleman is, and perhaps I might tell
you, only you'd go straight off and tell again."
"No, no, I wouldn't!" shouted Robin. "I can keep
a secret, indeed I can! Pinch my little finger, and try.
Do, do tell me, Sarah, there's a dear Sarah, and then I
shall know you know." And he danced round her, catching
at her skirts.
To keep a secret was beyond Sarah's powers.
Do let my dress be, Master Robin," she said, "you're
ripping out all the gathers, and listen while I whisper.
18 BUT WHAT HE HEARD AT THE FIRESIDE.
As sure as you're a living boy, that gentleman's your
Robin lost his hold on Sarah's dress; his arms fell by
his side, and he stood with his brows knit for some
minutes, thinking. Then he said, emphatically, "What
lies you do tell, Sarah!"
Oh, Robin !" cried Nicholas, who had drawn near, his
thick curls standing stark with curiosity, Mamma said
'lies' wasn't a proper word, and you promised not to say it
"I forgot," said Robin. "I didn't mean to break my
promise. But she does tell-ahem !-you know what."
"You wicked boy!" cried the enraged Sarah; "how
dare you to say such a thing, and everybody in the place
knows he's your ma's own pa."
I'll go and ask her," said Robin, and he was at the
door in a moment; but Sarah, alarmed by the thought of
getting into a scrape herself, caught him by the arm.
"Don't you go, love; it'll only make your ma angry.
There; it was all my nonsense."
"Then it's not true?" said Robin, indignantly. "What
did you tell me so for?"
It was all my jokes and nonsense," said the unscru-
pulous Sarah. "But your ma wouldn't like to know I've
said such a thing. And Master Robert wouldn't be so
mean as to tell tales, would he, love?"
I'm not mean," said Robin, stoutly; "and I don't
tell tales; but you do, and you tell you know what, besides.
However, I won't go this time; but I'll tell you what-if
you tell tales of me to Papa any more, I'll tell him what you
said about the old gentleman in the blue cloak." With
which parting threat Robin strode off to join his brothers
Sarah's tale had put the court-martial out of his head,
and he leaned against the tall fender, gazing at his little
FOR OLD SAKE'S SAKE 19
sister, who was tenderly nursing a well-worn doll. Robin
"What a long time that doll takes to wear out, Dora!"
said he. When will it be done ?"
Oh, not yet, not yet !" cried Dora, clasping the doll to
her, and turning away. "She's quite good, yet."
How miserly you are," said her brother; "and selfish,
too; for you know I can't have a military funeral till you'll
let me bury that old thing."
Dora began to cry.
':There you go, crying!" said Robin, impatiently.
" Look here: I won't take it till you get the new one on
your birthday. You can't be so mean as not to let me
have it then !"
But Dora's tears still fell. "I love this one so much,"
she sobbed. I love her better than the new one."
You want both; that's it," said Robin, angrily.
" Dora, you're the meanest girl I ever knew!"
At which unjust and painful accusation Dora threw
herself and the doll upon their faces, and wept bitterly.
The eyes of the soft-hearted Nicholas began to fill with
tears, and he squatted down before her, looking most
dismal. He had a fellow-feeling for her attachment to
an old toy, and yet Robin's will was law to him.
Couldn't we make a coffin, and pretend the body was
inside?" he suggested.
No, we couldn't," said Robin. "I wouldn't play the
Dead March after an empty candle-box. It's a great
shame-and I promised she should be chaplain in one of
my night-gowns, too."
Perhaps you'll get just as fond of the new one," said
Nicholas, turning to Dora.
But Dora only cried, "No, no! He shall have the
new one to bury, and I'll keep my poor, dear, darling
Betsy." And she clasped Betsy tighter than before.
20 THE PRETTIEST DOLL IN THE WORLD.
"That's the meanest thing you've said yet," retorted
Robin; "for you know Mamma wouldn't let me bury the
new one." And, with an air of great disgust, he quitted
"A MUMMING WE WILL Go."
SICHOLAS had sore work
to console his little sister,
and Betsy's prospects were
in a very unfavourable state,
when a diversion was caused
in her favour by a new whim
S- '' which put the military
funeral out of Robin's head.
After Le left the nursery
,, 2 he strolled out of doors,
S. and, peeping through the
gate at the end of the
drive, he saw a party of
boys going through what
looked like a military exer-
cise with sticks and a good
'. deal of stamping; but,
instead of mere words of
command, they all spoke
by turns, as in a play. In spite of their strong Yorkshire
accent, Robin overheard a good deal, and it sounded very
fine. Not being at all shy, he joined them, and asked so
many questions that he soon got to know all about it.
They were practising a Christmas mumming-play, called
" The Peace Egg." Why it was called thus they could not
tell him, as there was nothing whatever about eggs in it,
and so far from being a play of peace, it was made up
THE SPORTS OF CHILDREN 21
of a series of battles between certain valiant knights and
princes, of whom St. George of England was the chief
and conqueror. The rehearsal being over, Robin went
with the boys to the sexton's house (he was father to the
" King of Egypt") where they showed him the dresses
they were to wear. These were made of gay-coloured
materials, and covered with ribbons, except that of the
"Black Prince of Paradine," which was black, as became
his title. The boys also showed him the book from which
they learned their parts, and which was to be bought for
one penny at the post-office shop.
"Then are you the mummers who come round at
Christmas, and act in people's kitchens, and people give
them money, that Mamma used to tell us about?" said
St. George of England looked at his companions as
if for counsel as to how far they might commit themselves,
and then replied, with Yorkshire caution, Well, I suppose
And do you go out in the snow from one house to
another at night; and oh, don't you enjoy it?" cried
"We like it well enough," St. George admitted.
Robin bought a copy of "The Peace Egg." He
was resolved to have a nursery performance, and to act
the part of St. George himself. The others were willing
for what he wished, but there were difficulties. In the
first place, there are eight characters in the play, and there
were only five children. They decided among themselves
to leave out the "Fool," and Mamma said that another
character was not to be acted by any of them, or indeed
mentioned; "the little one who comes in at the end,"
Robin explained. Mamma had her reasons, and these
were always good. She had not been altogether pleased
that Robin had bought the play. It was a very old thing,
22 SATISFY THE CHILD.
she said, and very queer; not adapted for a child's play.
If Mamma thought the parts not quite fit for the children
to learn, they found them much too long; so in the end
she picked out some bits for each, which they learned
easily, and which, with a good deal of fighting, made quite
as good a story of it as if they had done the whole. What
may have been wanting otherwise was made up for by the
dresses, which were charming.
Robin was St. George, Nicholas the valiant Slasher,
Dora the Doctor, and the other two Hector and the King
of Egypt. "And now we've no Black Prince !"cried Robin
Let Darkie be the Black Prince," said Nicholas.
" When you wave your stick he'll jump for it, and then
you can pretend to fight with him."
It's not a stick, it's a sword," said Robin. However,
Darkie may be the Black Prince."
"And what's Pax to be?" asked Dora; for you know
he will come if Darkie does, and he'll run in before every-
body else too."
"Then he must be the Fool," said Robin, and it will
do very well, for the Fool comes in before the rest, and
Pax can have his red coat on, and the collar with the little
WE GAMBOLL'D MAKING VAIN PRETENCE 23
0' OBIN thought that Christmas would
never come. To the Captain
and his wife it seemed to come
too fast. They had hoped it
might bring reconciliation with
the old man, but it seemed they
had hoped in vain.
There were times now when
the Captain almost regretted the
old bachelor's bequest. The
familiar scenes of her old home
sharpened his wife's grief. To
see her father every Sunday in
church, with marks of age and
infirmity upon him, but with not
a look of tenderness for his only child, this tried her sorely.
She felt it less abroad," thought the Captain. An
English home in which she frets herself to death is, after
all, no great boon."
Christmas Eve came.
I'm sure it's quite Christmas enough now," said Robin.
"We'll have 'The Peace Egg' to-night."
So as the Captain and his wife sat sadly over their fire,
the door opened, and Pax ran in shaking his bells, and
followed by the nursery mummers. The performance was
most successful. It was by no means pathetic, and yet, as
has been said, the Captain's wife shed tears.
"What is the matter, Mamma ?" said St. George,
abruptly dropping his sword and running up to her.
Don't tease Mamma with questions," said the Captain;
"she is not very well, and rather sad. We must all be very
kind and good to poor dear Mamma;" and the Captain
raised his wife's hand to his lips as he spoke. Robin seized
24 OF GLADNESS.
the other hand and kissed it tenderly. He was very fond
of his mother. At this moment Pax took a little run, and
jumped on to Mamma's lap, where, sitting facing the com-
pany, he opened his black mouth and yawned, with a ludi-
crous inappropriateness worthy of any clown. It made
"And now we'll go and act in the kitchen," said
Supper at nine o'clock, remember," shouted the Cap-
tain. "And we are going to have real frumenty and Yule
cakes, such as Mamma used to tell us of when we were
Iurray!" shouted the mummers, and they ran off, Pax
leaping from his seat just in time to hustle the Black Prince
in the doorway. When the dining-room door was shut,
St. George raised his hand, and said Hush !"
The mummers pricked their ears, but there was only a
distant harsh and scraping sound, as of stones rubbed
"They're cleaning the passages," St. George went on,
and Sarah told me they meant to finish the mistletoe, and
have everything cleaned up by supper-time. -They don't
want us, I know. Look here, we'll go real mumming in-
stead. That will be fun !"
The Valiant Slasher grinned with delight.
But will Mamma let us?" he inquired.
Oh, it will be all right if we're back by supper-time,"
said St. George, hastily. "Only of course we must take
care not to catch cold. Come and help me to get some
The old oak chest in which spare shawls, rugs, and
coats were kept was soon ransacked, and the mummers'
gay dresses hidden by motley wrappers. But no sooner
did Darkie and Pax behold the coats, &c., than they at
once began to leap and bark, as it was their custom to do
SNATCH A FEARFUL JOY. 25
when they saw any one dressing to go out. Robin was
sorely afraid that this would betray them; but though the
Captain and his wife heard the barking they did not guess
So the front door being very gently opened and closed,
the nursery mummers stole away.
THE NURSERY MUMMERS AND THE OLD MAN.
T was a very fine night.
The snow was well-
trodden on the drive, so
that it did not wet
their feet, but on the
A 11 trees and shrubs it
Shung soft and white.
It's much jollier
being out at night
S,, than in the daytime,"
.. i t said Robin.
S" Nicholas, with intense
"We'll go a was-
S. sailing next week,"
said Robin. "I know
,, all about it, and per-
haps we shall get a
good lot of money,
and then we'll buy tin
swords with scabbards
for next year. I don't
like these sticks. Oh, dear, I wish it wasn't so long
between one Christmas and another."
26 BY NO MEANS VALIANT.
"Where shall we go first?" asked Nicholas, as they
turned into the high road. But before Robin could reply,
Dora clung to Nicholas, crying, "Oh, look at those
The boys looked up the road, down which three men
were coming in a very unsteady fashion, and shouting as
they rolled from side to side.
"They're drunk," said Nicholas; "and they're shouting
"Oh, run, run !" cried Dora; and down the road they
ran, the men shouting and following them. They had not
run far, when Hector caught his foot in the Captain's great-
coat, which he was wearing, and came down headlong
in the road. They were close by a gate, and when
Nicholas had set Hector upon his legs, St. George hastily
"This is the first house," he said. We'll act here;"
and all, even the Valiant Slasher, pressed in as quickly as
possible. Once safe within the grounds, they shouldered
their sticks, and resumed their composure.
"You're going to the front door," said Nicholas.
"Mummers ought to go to the back."
"We don't know where it is," said Robin, and he rang
the front-door bell. There was a pause. Then lights
shone, steps were heard, and at last a sound of much
unbarring, unbolting, and unlocking. It might have been
a prison. Then the door was opened by an elderly,
timid-looking woman, who held a tallow candle above
"Who's there?" she said, "at this time of night."
"We're Christmas mummers," said Robin, stoutly; "vc
didn't know the way to the back door, but--"
"And don't you know better than to come here?" said
the woman. Be off with you, as fast as you can."
"You're only the servant," said Robin. "Go and ask
BOLDLY VENTURED IS HALF WON. 27
your master and mistress if they wouldn't like to see us
act. We do it very well."
"You impudent boy, be off with you !" repeated the
woman. "Master'd no more let you nor any other such
rubbish set foot in this house- "
"Woman !" shouted a voice close behind her, which
made her start as if she had been shot, "who authorizes
you to say what your master will or will not do, before
you've asked him ? The boy is right. You are the
servant, and it is not your business to choose for me whom
I shall or shall not see."
I meant no harm, sir, I'm sure," said the housekeeper;
"but I thought you'd never- "
My good woman," said her master, "if I had
wanted somebody to think for me, you're the last person
I should have employed. I hire you to obey orders, not
I'm sure, sir," said the housekeeper, whose only form
of argument was reiteration, "I never thought you would
have seen them- "
"Then you were wrong," shouted her master. "I will
see them. Bring them in."
He was a tall, gaunt old man, and Robin stared at him
for some minutes, wondering where he could have seen
somebody very like him. At last he remembered. It was
the old gentleman of the blue cloak.
The children threw off their wraps, the housekeeper
helping them, and chattering ceaselessly, from sheer
"Well, to be sure," said she, "their dresses are pretty,
too. And they seem quite a better sort of children, they
talk quite genteel. I might ha' knowed they weren't like
common mummers, but I was so flusterated hearing the
bell go so late, and--"
"Are they ready?" said the old man, who had stood
28 CHILDREN AND FOOLS
like a ghost in the dim light of the flaring tallow candle,
grimly watching the proceedings.
"Yes, sir. Shall I take them to the kitchen, sir?"
"- for you and the other idle hussies to gape and
grin at? No. Bring them to the library," he snapped, and
then stalked off, leading the way.
The housekeeper accordingly led them to the library,
and then withdrew, nearly falling on her face as she left the
room by stumbling over Darkie, who slipped in last like a
The old man was seated in a carved oak chair by the
I never said the dogs were to come in," he said.
"But we can't do without them, please," said Robin,
boldly. "You see there are eight people in 'The Peace
Egg,' and there are only five of us; and so Darkie has to
be the Black Prince, and Pax has to be the Fool, and so we
have to have them."
Five and two make seven," said the old man, with a
grim smile; "what do you do for the eighth?"
"Oh, that's the little one at the end," said Robin, con-
fidentially. Mamma said we weren't to mention him, but
I think that's because we're children.-You're grown up,
you know, so I'll show you the book, and you can see for
yourself," he went on, drawing "The Peace Egg" from his
pocket: there, that's the picture of him, on the last page;
black, with horns and a tail."
The old man's stern face relaxed into a broad smile as
he examined the grotesque woodcut; but when he turned
to the first page the smile vanished in a deep frown, and
his eyes shone like hot coals with anger. He had seen
"Who sent you here?" he asked, in a hoarse voice.
"Speak, and speak the truth! Did your mother send you
TELL TRUTH. 29
Robin thought the old man was angry with them for
playing truant. He said, slowly, "N-no. She didn't
exactly send us; but I don't think she'll mind our having
come if we get back in time for supper. Mamma never
forbid our going mumming, you know."
I don't suppose she ever thought of it," Nicholas said,
candidly, wagging his curly head from side to side.
She knows we're mummers," said Robin, for she
helped us. When we were abroad, you know, she used to
tell us about the mummers acting at Christmas, when she
was a little girl; and so we thought we'd be mummers, and
so we acted to Papa and Mamma, and so we thought we'd
act to the maids, but they were cleaning the passages, and
so we thought we'd really go mumming; and we've got
several other houses to go to before supper-time; we'd
better begin, I think," said Robin; and without more ado
he began to march round and round, raising his sword and
I am St. George, who from Old England sprung,
My famous name throughout the world hath rung."
And the performance went off quite as creditably as
As the children acted the old man's anger wore off
He watched them with an interest he could not repress.
When Nicholas took some hard thwacks from St. George
without flinching, the old man clapped his hands; and,
after the encounter between St. George and the Black
Prince, he said he would not have had the dogs excluded
on any consideration. It was just at the end, when they
were all marching round and round, holding on by each
other's swords over the shoulder," and singing "A mum-
ming we will go, &c," that Nicholas suddenly brought the
circle to a standstill by stopping dead short, and staring up
at the wall before him.
30 GOD HIATH HIS SMALL INTERPRETERS,
What are you stopping for?" said St. George, turning
"Look there!" cried Nicholas, pointing to a little
painting which hung above the old man's head.
Robin looked, and said, abruptly, It's Dora."
Which is Dora?" asked the old man, in a strange,
Here she is," said Robin and Nicholas in one breath,
as they dragged her forward.
She's the Doctor," said Robin; and you can't see
her face for her things. Dor, take off your cap and pull
back that hood. There Oh, it is like her!"
It was a portrait of her mother as a child; but of this
the nursery mummers knew nothing. The old man looked
as the peaked cap and hood fell away from Dora's face and
fair curls, and then he uttered a sharp cry, and buried his
head upon his hands. The boys stood stupified, but Dora
ran up to him, and putting her little hands on his arms,
said, in childish pitying tones, Oh, I am so sorry Have
you got a headache? May Robin put the shovel in the
fire for you ? Mamma has hot shovels for her headaches."
And, though the old man did not speak or move, she went
on coaxing him, and stroking his head, on which the hair
was white. At this moment Pax took one of his unex-
pected runs, and jumped on to the old man's knee, in his
own particular fashion, and then yawned at the company.
The old man was startled, and lifted his face suddenly.
It was wet with tears.
"Why, you're crying!" exclaimed the children with
It's very odd," said Robin, fretfully. "I can't think
what's the matter to-night. Mamma was crying too when
we were acting, and Papa said we weren't to tease her with
questions, and he kissed hor hand, and I kissed her hand
too. And Papa said we must all be very good and kind to
THE CHILD MUST TEACH THE MAN. 31
poor dear Mamma, and so I mean to be, she's so good.
And I think we'd better go home, or perhaps she'll be
frightened," Robin added.
"She's so good, is she?" asked the old man. He had
put Pax off his knee, and taken Dora on to it.
Oh, isn't she !" said Nicholas, swaying his curly head
from side to side as usual.
She's always good," said Robin, emphatically; and
so's Papa. But I'm always doing something I oughtn't to,"
he added, slowly. But then, you know, I don't pretend
to obey Sarah. I don't care a fig for Sarah; and I won't
obey any woman but Mamma."
"Who's Sarah?" asked the grandfather.
She's our nurse," said Robin, and she tells-I mustn't
say what she tells-but it's not the truth. She told one
about you the other day," he added.
About me?" said the old man.
"She said you were our grandpapa. So then I knew
she was telling you know what."
"How did you know it wasn't true?" the old man
Why, of course," said Robin, "if you were our
Mamma's father, you'd know her, and be very fond of
her, and come and see her. And then you'd be our
grandfather, too, and you'd have us to see you, and
perhaps give us Christmas-boxes. I wish you were,
Robin added with a sigh. It would be very nice."
Would you like it?" asked the old man of Dora.
And Dora, who was half asleep and very comfortable,
put her little arms about his neck as she was wont to put
them round the Captain's, and said, Very much."
He put her down at last, very tenderly, almost un-
willingly, and left the children alone. By-and-by he
returned, dressed in the blue cloak, and took Dora up
/: ." '.. I,
- H ,,
"It was her father, with her child in his arms ["--'Ac 33.
ALL THE MAN WAS BROKEN WITH REMORSE. 33
I will see you home," he said.
The children had not been missed. The clock had
only just struck nine when there came a knock on the
door of the dining-room, where the Captain and his wife
still sat by the Yule log. She said "Come in," wearily,
thinking it was the frumenty and the Christmas cakes.
But it was her father, with her child in his arms !
PEACE AND GOODWILL.
Bull and her
good deal of
Thus, when a
friend of Mrs
call that she
ooffi cer s
ladies were at once resolved to keep a sharp look-out for
the Captain's wife's bonnet in church on Christmas Day.
34 ALL HIS LOVE CAME BACK A HUNDRED-FOLD.
The Bulls had just taken their seats when the Captain's
wife came in. They really would have hid their faces, and
looked at the bonnet afterwards, but for the startling sight
that met the gaze of the congregation. The old grand-
father walked into church abreast of the Captain.
They've met in the porch," whispered Mr. Bull under
the shelter of his hat.
"They can't quarrel publicly in a place of worship,"
said Mrs. Bull, turning pale.
"She's gone into his seat," cried Lucy Jane in a shrill
"And the children after her," added the other sister,
There was now no doubt about the matter. The old
man in his blue cloak stood for a few moments politely
disputing the question of precedence with his handsome
son-in-law. Then the Captain bowed and passed in, and
the old man followed him.
By the time that the service was ended everybody
knew of the happy peacemaking, and was glad. One old
friend after another came up with blessings and good
wishes. This was a proper Christmas, indeed, they said.
There was a general rejoicing.
But only the grandfather and his children knew that
it was hatched from "The Peace Egg."
CHRISTMAS MUMMING PLAY.
SINCE a little story of mine called The Peace Egg"
appeared in AUNT JUDY'S MAGAZINE, I have again and
again been asked where the Mumming Play could be found
which gave its name to my tale, and if real children could
act it, as did the fancy children of the story.
As it stands, this old Christmas Mumming Play (which
seems to have borrowed the name of an Easter Entertain--
ment or Pasque Egg) is not fit for domestic performance;
and though probably there are few nurseries in those parts
of England where mummingg" and the sword-dance still
linger, in which the children do not play some version of
St. George's exploits, a little of the dialogue goes a long
way, and the mummery (which must almost be seen to be
imitated) is the chief matter.
In fact, the mummery is the chief matter-which is
what makes the play so attractive to children, and it may
be added, so suitable for their performance. In its rude-
ness, its simplicity, its fancy dressing, the rapid action of
the plot, and last, but not least, its bludginess-that quality
which made the history of Goliath so dear to the youngest
of Helen's Babies!-it is adapted for nursery amusement,
as the Drama of Punch and Judy is, and for similar
For some little time past I have purposed to try and
blend the various versions of "Peace Egg" into one
Mummery for the nursery, with as little change of the
old rhymes as might be. I have been again urged to do
so this Christmas, and though I have not been able to give
as much time or research to it as I should have liked, I
36 MIRACLE PLAYS.
have thought it better to do it without further delay, even
if somewhat imperfectly.
To shuffle the characters and vary the text is nothing
new in the history of these Mock Plays," as they were
They are probably of very ancient origin-" Pagan, I
regret to say," as Mr. Pecksniff observed in reference to
the sirens-and go back to the heathen custom of going
about on the Kalends of January in disguises, as wild
beasts and cattle, the sexes changing apparel." (There is
a relic of this last unseemly custom still in "The Old Tup"
and "The Old Horse ;" when these are performed by both
girls and boys, the latter wear skirts and bonnets, the
former hats and great coats; this is also the case in Scot-.
land where the boys and girls go round at Hogmanay.)
In the 12th century the clergy introduced miracle plays
and scripture histories to rival the performances of the
strolling players, which had become very gross. They
became as popular as beneficial, and London was famous
for them. Different places, and even trade-guilds and
schools, had their differing mysteries."
Secular plays continued, and the two seem occasionally
to have got mixed. Into one of the oldest of old plays,
" St. George and the Dragon," the Crusaders and Pilgrims
introduced the Eastern characters who still remain there.
This is the foundation of The Peace Egg. About the
middle of the I5th century, plays, which, not quite reli-
gious, still witnessed to the effect of the religious plays in
raising the standard of public taste, appeared under the
name of Morals," or Moralities."
Christmas plays, masques, pageants, and the like were
largely patronized by the Tudor sovereigns, and the fashion
set by the Court was followed in the country. Queen
Elizabeth was not only devoted to the drama, and herself
performed, but she was very critical and exacting; and
MASK OF CHRISTMAS. 37
the high demand which she did so much to stimulate, was
followed by such supply as was given by the surpassing
dramatic genius of the Elizabethan age of literature.
Later, Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones combined to pro-
duce the Court masks, one of which,-the well-known
Mask of Christmas," had for chief characters, Christmas
and his children, Misrule, Carol, Mince Pie, Gambol, Post
and Pair, New Years' Gift, Mumming, Wassel, Offering,
and Baby's Cake. In the 17th century the Christmas
Mummeries of the Inns of Court were conducted with
great magnificence and at large cost.
All such entertainments were severely suppressed during
the Commonwealth, at which time the words "Welcome, or
not welcome, I am come," were introduced into Father
At one time the Jester of the piece (he is sometimes
called the Jester, and sometimes the Fool, or the Old Fool)
used to wear a calf's hide. Robin Goodfellow says, "Ill
go put on my devilish robes-I mean my Christmas calf's
skin suit-and then walk to the woods." I'll put me on
my great carnation nose, and wrap me in a rousing calf-
skin suit, and come like some hob-goblin." And a
character of the i8th century "clears the way" with-
My name it is Captain Calftail, Calftail-
And on my back it is plain to be seen,
Although I am simple and wear a fool's cap,
I am dearly beloved of a queen-"
which looks as if Titania had found her way into that
"The Hobby Horse's" costume was a horse's hide, real
or imitated. I have no copy of a Christmas Play in which
the Hobby Horse appears. In the north of England,
" The Old Horse" and "The Old Tup are the respective
heroes of their own peculiar mummeries, generally per-
38 THE OLD TUP.
formed by a younger, or perhaps a rougher, set of lads
than those who play the more elegant mysteries of St.
George. The boy who acts Old Tup" has a ram's head
impaled upon a short pole, which he grasps and uses as a
sort of wooden leg in front of him. He needs some extra
support, his back being bent as if for leap-frog, and covered
with an old rug (in days when "meat" was cheaper it was
probably a hide). The hollow sound of his peg-leg upon
the flags of the stone passages and kitchen floor, and the
yearly test of courage supplied by the rude familiarities of
his gruesome head as he charged and dispersed maids and
children, amid shrieks and laughter, are probably familiar
memories of all Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Derbyshire
childhoods. I do not know if the Old Horse and the
Old Tup belong to other parts of the British Isles. It is
a rude and somewhat vulgar performance, especially if
undertaken by older revellers, when the men wear skirts
and bonnets, and the women don great coats and hats-
the Fool, the Doctor, and a darker character with a besom,
are often of the party, but the Knights of Christendom
and the Eastern Potentates take no share in these pro-
ceedings, which are oftenest and most inoffensively per-
formed by little boys not yet promoted to be mummers."
It is, however, essential that one of them should have a
good voice, true and tuneful enough to sing a long ballad,
and lead the chorus.
In the scale of contributions to the numerous itinerant
Christmas Boxes of Christmas week-such as the Ringers,
the Waits, the Brass Band, the Hand-bells, the Mummers
(Peace Egg), the superior Mummers, who do more intricate
sword-play (and in the North Riding are called Morris
Dancers), etc., etc., the Old Tup stands low down on the
list. I never heard the Rhymes of the Old Horse; they
cannot be the same. These diversions are very strictly
localized and handed on by word of mouth.
GRAND SWORD DANCE. 39
Of the best version of Peace Egg which I have seen
performed, I have as yet quite vainly endeavoured to get
any part transcribed. It is oral tradition. It is practised
for some weeks beforehand, and the costumes, including
wonderful head dresses about the size of the plumed bonnet
of a Highlander in full-dress, are carefully preserved from
year to year. These pasteboard erections are covered with
flowers, feathers, bugles and coloured streamers. The
dresses are of coloured calico, with ribbons everywhere;
"points" to the breeches and hose, shoulder-knots and
But, as a rough rule, it is one of the conveniences of
mumming play, that the finery may be according to the
taste and the resources of the company.
The swords are of steel, and those I have seen are
short. In some places I believe rapiers are used. I am
very sorry to be unable to give proper directions for the
sword-play, which is so pretty. I have only one version
in which such directions are given. I have copied the
" Grand Sword Dance in its proper place for the benefit
of those who can interpret it. It is not easy to explain in
writing, even so much of it as I know. Each combat
consists of the same number of cuts, to the best of my
remembrance, and the "shoulder cuts" (which look very
like two persons sharpening two knives as close as possible
to each other's nose!) are in double time, twice as quick
as the others. The stage directions are as follows:-
A. and B. fight
Cut I ... ... Crossing each other.
(They change places, striking as they pass.)
Cut 2 ... ... ,, ,, back.
Cut 3 ... ... ,, ,, other.
Cut 4 ... .. ,, back.
4 shoulder cuts.
A. loses his sword and falls.
40 SILVERTON MUMMING PLAY.
But I do not think the version from which this is an
extract is at all an elaborate one. There ought to be a
"Triumph," with an archway of swords, in the style of
Sir Roger de Coverley. After the passing and repassing
strokes, there is usually much more hand-to-hand fight-
ing, then 4 shoulder cuts, and some are aimed high and
some down among their ankles, in a way which would
probably be quite clear to anyone trained in broad-sword
The following Christmas Mumming Play is compiled
from five versions. The Peace Egg," the Wassail Cup,"
" Alexander the Great," A Mock Play," and the Silver-
ton Mummer's Play (Devon), which has been lent to me
The Mumming Chorus, And a mumming we will go,"
etc., is not in any one of these versions, but I never saw
mumming without it.
The Silverton version is an extreme example of the con-
tinuous development of these unwritten dramas. Genera-
tion after generation, the most incongruous characters have
been added. In some cases this is a very striking testimony
to the strength of rural sympathy with the great deeds and
heroes of the time, as well as to native talent for dramatic
Wellington and Wolfe almost eclipsed St. George in
some parts of England, and the sea Heroes are naturally
popular in Devonshire. The death of Nelson in the Silver-
ton play has fine dramatic touches. Though he "has but
one arm and a good one too," he essays to fight-whether
Tippo Saib or St. George is not made clear. He falls, and
St. George calls for the Doctor in the usual words. The
Doctor ends his peculiar harangue with: "Britons! our
Nelson is dead." To which a voice, which seems to play
the part of Greek chorus, responds-" But he is not with
PILGRIMS AND CRUSADERS. 41
the dead, but in the arms of the Living God !" Then,
'-Here comes I, bold Collingwood,
Who fought the French and boldly stood;
And now the life of that bold Briton's gone.
I'll put the crown of victory on "-
with which-" he takes the crown off Nelson's head and
puts it on his own."
I have, however, confined myself in the Peace Egg"
to those characters which have the warrant of considerable
antiquity, and their number is not small. They can easily
be reduced by cutting out one or two; or some of the
minor characters could play more than one part, by making
real exits and changing the dress, instead of the conven-
tional exit into the background of the group.
Some of these minor characters are not the least
charming. The fair Sabra (who is often a mute) should
be the youngest and prettiest little maid that can toddle
through her part, and no old family brocade can be too
gorgeous for her. The Pretty Page is another part for
a very little one," and his velvets and laces should become
him. They contrast delightfully with Dame Dolly and
Little Man Jack, and might, if needful, be played by the
I have cut out everything that could possibly offend,
except the line-" Take him and give him to the flies."
It betrays an experience of Asiatic battlefields so terribly
real, that I was unwilling to abolish this unconscious witness
to the influence of Pilgrims and Crusaders on the Peace
Egg. It is easily omitted.
I have dismissed the Lord of Flies, Beelzebub, and (with
some reluctance) Little Devil Doubt and his besom. I
had a mind to have retained him as "The Demon of
Doubt," for he plays in far higher dramas. His besom also
42 MILK PAIL AND WASSAIL CUP.
seems to come from the East, where a figure "sweeping
everything out" with a broom is the first vision produced in
the crystal or liquid in the palm of a medium by the
magicians of Egypt.
Those who wish to do so can admit him at the very
end, after the sword dance, very black, and with a besom,
a money-box and the following doggrel:-
In come I, the Demon of Doubt,
If you don't give me money I'll sweep you all out;
Money I want and money I crave,
Money I want and money I'll have.
He is not a taking character unless to the antiquary I
have substituted the last line for the less decorous original,
" If you don't give me money, I'll sweep you all to the
It is perhaps only the antiquary who will detect the
connection between the Milk Pail and the Wassail Cup in
in the Fool's Song. But it seems at one time to have
been made of milk. In a play of the I6th century it is
Wassayle, wassayle, out of the mylk payle
Wassayle, wassayle, as white as my nayle,"
and Selden calls it "a slabby stuff," which sounds as. if it
had got mixed up with frumenty.
Since the above went to press, I have received some
extracts from the unwritten version of Peace Egg in the
West Riding of Yorkshire to which I have alluded. They
recall to me that the piece properly opens with a "mum-
ming round," different to the one I have given, that one
belonging to the end. The first Mumming Song rehearses
each character and his exploits. The hero of the verse
which describes him singing (auto-biographically!) his own
doughty deeds in the third person. Thus St. George begins,
I give it in the vernacular.
ST. GEORGE OF ENGLAND. 43
The first to coom in is the Champion bould,
The Champion bould is he,
He never fought battle i' all his loife-toim,
But he made his bould enemy flee, flee, flee,
He made his bould enemy flee."
The beauty of this song is the precision with which each
character enters and joins the slowly increasing circle. But
that is its only merit. It is wretched doggrel, and would
make the play far too tedious. I was, however, interested
by this verse :
The next to come in is the Cat and Calftail,
The Cat and Calftail is he;
He'll beg and he'll borrow, and he'll steal all he can,
But he'll never pay back one penny, penny,
He'll never pay back one penny.
Whether "Cat and Calftail" is a corruption of Captain
Calftail or (more likely) Captain Calftail was evolved from
a Fool in Calf's hide and Cat's skins, it is hard to say.
They are evidently one and the same shabby personage !
The song which I have placed at the head of the Peace
Egg Play has other verses which also recite "the argument"
of the piece, but not one is worth recording. A third song
does not, I feel sure, belong to the classic versions, but to
another "rude and vulgar" one, which I have not seen for
some years, and which was played in a dialect dark, even to
those who flattered themselves that they were to the
manner born. In it St. George and the Old Fool wrangle,
the 0. F. accusing the Patron Saint of England of stealing
clothes hung out to dry on the hedges. St. George, who
has previously boasted,-
I've travelled this world all round,
And hopes to do it again,
I was once put out of my way
By a hundred and forty men-
44 MAN JACK.
-indignantly denies the theft, and adds that, on the con-
trary, he has always sent home money to his old mother.
To which the Old Fool contemptuously responds,
All the relations thou had were few,
Thou had an Old Granny I knew,
She went a red-cabbage selling,
As a many old people do.
In either this, or another, rough version, the hero (presum-
ably St. George) takes counsel with Man Jack on his love
affairs. Man Jack is played by a small boy in a very tall
beaver hat, and with his face blacked.
My Man Jack, what can the matter be?
That I should luv this lady, and she will not luv me."
ST. GEORGE and MAN JACK.
No, nor nayther will she walk with thee.
No, nor nayther will she talk with me.
( with thee.
But the true Peace Egg, if bludgy, is essentially a heroic
play, and I think the readers of AUNT JUDY'S MAGAZINE
will be content that I have omitted accretions which are
not the less vulgar because they are old.
In refining and welding the piece together, I have
introduced thirty lines of my own, in various places.
The rest is genuine.
J. H. E.
THE PEACE EGG.
CHRISTMAS MUMMING PLAY.
DRS IN T DRGN
\ --,' j-'-. l '
DI)RESSING THE DRAGON.
THE PEACE EGG.
A CHRISTMAS MUMMING PLAY.
Written expressly for all Mu~nmers, to commemorate the Holy Wars, and the
happy Festival of Christmas.
ST. GEOIG E OF ENGLAND (he must wear a rose.)
ST. ANDREW OF SCOTLAND (he must wear a thistle.)
ST. PATRICK OF IRELAND (he must wear the shamrock.)
ST. DAVID OF WALES (he must wear a leek.)
SALADIN, A PAGAN GIANT OF PALESTINE (a very tall grown up actor
would be effective.)
THE KING OF EGYPT (in a turban and crown.)
THE PRINCE OF PARADINE, HIS SON (face blacked, and it is "tradition"
to flav this part in weeds, as if he were Hamlet.)
THE TURKISH KNIGHT (Eastern costume.)
THE VALIANT SLASHER (old yeomanry coat, etc., is effective )
THE DRAGON (a paste-board head, with horrid jaws, impossible. A tail,
and paws with claws.)
THE FOOL (Motley: with a bauble long enough to put over his shoulder and
be held by the one behind in the mumming circle.)
OLD FATHER CHRISTMAS (whiie beard, etc., and a staff.)
THE DOCTOR (wig, spectacles, hat and cane.)
THE LITTLE PAGE (pretty little boy in velvet, etc.)
LITTLE MAN JACK (big mask head, if convenient, short cloak and club.)
PRINCESS SABRA (pretty little girl, gorgeously dressed, a crown.)
DAME DOLLY (a large mask head, if possible, and a very amazing cap.
Dame Dolly should bob curtseys and dance about.)
No scenery is required. The actors, as a rule, all come in together. To
" enter" means to stand forth, and exit" that the actor retires into the back-
ground. But the following method will be found most effective. Let Fool
enter alone, and the rest come in one by one when the Fool begins to sing.
4S THE PEACE EGG.
They must march in to the music, and join the circle with regularity. Each
actor as he brags," and gives his challenge, does so marching up and down,
his drawn sword over his shoulder. All the characters take part in tile
" Mumming Round." The next to Fair Sabra might hold up her train, and
if Dame Dolly had a gamp umbrella to put over her shoulder, it would not
detract from her comic charms. The Trumpet Calls for the four Patron
Knights should be appropriate to each. If a Trumpet is quite impossible
some one should play a national air as each champion enters.
FOOL. Good morrow, friends and neighbours dear,
We are right glad to meet you here,
Christmas comes but once a year,
But when it comes it brings good cheer,
And when its gone it's no longer near.
May lack attend the milking pail,
Yule logs and cakes in plenty be,
May each blow of the thrashing flail,
Produce good frumenty.
And let the Wassail Cup abound,
When'er the mummer's time comes round.
Air, "Le Petit YTaiboz: ."
Silngs. Now all ye jolly mummers,
Who mum in Christmas time,
Come join with me in chorus,
Come join with me in rhyme.
[I/t has laid his bauble over his shoulder, and it is taken by ST. GEOG(;E, iUio
is followed by all the oiler actors, each laying his sword over his ri,tl
shoulder and his left hand on lhe sword point in front of hnmn, and all
marking time with their feet tll the circle is complete, when the, march
round singing the chorus over and over again.]
Chorus. And a mumming we will go, will go,
And a mumming we will go,
With a bright cockade in all our hats, we'll go \ ith a
[Disperse, and stand aside. \
[-Enter FiATrHI', CHRISIrMAS.]
tATHEtR CHRISTMAS. Here come I, old Father Christmas,
Welcome, or welcome not,
I hope poor old Father Christmas
Will never be forgot!
My head is white, my back is bent,
My knees are weak, my strength is spent.
A CHRISTMAS MUMMING PLAY. 49
Eighteen hundred and eighty three
Is a very great age for me.
And if I'd been growing all these years
What a monster I should be !
Now I have but a short time to stay,
And if you don't believe what I say-
Come in Dame Dolly, and clear the way.
[Enter DAME DOLLY.]
DAME DOLLY. Here comes I, little Dame Dolly,
Wearing smart caps in all my folly,
If any gentleman takes my whim,
I'll set my holiday cap at him.
To laugh at my cap would be very rude;
I wish you well, and I won't intrude.
Gentlemen now at the door do stand,
They will walk in with drawn swords in hand,
And if you don't believe what I say-
Let one Fool and four knights from the British Isles,
come in and clear the way !
[Enter FOOL and four Christian knights.]
FOOL, shaking his bells at intervals.
Room, room, brave gallants, give us room to sport,
For to this room we wish now to resort:
Resort, and to repeat to you our merry rhyme,
For remember, good sirs, that this is Christmas time
The time to make mince-pies doth now appear,
So we are come to act our merriment in here.
At the sounding of the trumpet, and beating of the drum,
Make room, brave gentlemen, and let our actors come.
We are the merry actors that traverse the street,
We are the merry actors that fight for our meat,
We are the merry actors that show pleasant play,
Stand forth, St. George, thou champion, and clear the way.
[ Trumpet sounds for ST. GEORGE.]
[ST. GEORGE stands forth and walks up and down with sword on shoulder. ]
ST. GEORGE. I am St. George, from good Old England sprung,
My famous name throughout the world hath rung.
Many bloody deeds and wonders have I shown,
And made false tyrants tremble on their throne.
I followed a fair lady to a giant's gate,
Confined in dungeon deep to meet her fate,
50 THE PEACE EGG.
Then I resolved with true knight errantry
To burst the door, and set the captive free.
Far have I roamed, oft have I fought, and little do I rest;
All my delight is to defend the right, and succour the opprest.
And now I'll slay the Dragon bold, my wonders to begin,
A fell and fiery Dragon he, but I will clip his wing.
I'll clip his wings, he shall not fly,
I'll rid the land of him, or else I'll die.
[Enter THE DRAGON, with a sword over his shoulder.]
DRAGON. Who is it seeks the Dragon's blood,
And calls so angry and so loud ?
That English dog who looks so proud-
If I could catch him in my claw- -
With my long teeth and horrid jaw,
Of such I'd break up half a score,
To stay my appetite for more.
Marrow from his bones I'd squeeze,
And suck his blood up by degrees.
[ST. GEORGE and THE DRAGONfight. THE DRAGON is killed. Exit DRAGON.]
ST. GEORGE. I am St. George, that worthy champion bold,
And with my sword and spear I won three crowns of gold,
I fought the fiery Dragon and brought him to the slaughter,
By which behaviour I won the favour of the King of Egypt s
Thus I have gained fair Sabra's hand, who long had won her
Stand forth, Egyptian Princess, and boldly act thy part
[Enter THE PRINCESS SABRA.]
SABRA. I am the Princess Sabra, and it is my delight,
My chiefest pride, to be the bride of this gallant Christian
[ST. GEORGE kneels and kisses her hand. Fool, advances and holds up his
hands over them.]
FOOL. Why here's a sight will do any honest man's heart good,
To see the Dragon-slayer thus subdued !
[ST. GEORGE rises. Exit SABRA.]
ST. GEORGE. Keep thy jests in thy pocket if thou would'st keep thy head
on thy shoulders.
I love a woman, and a woman loves me,
And when I want a fool I'll send for thee.
A CHRISTMAS MUMMING PLAV. 5I
If there is any man but me
Who noxious beasts can tame,
Let him stand forth in this gracious company,
And boldly tell his name.
[Trumpet sounds for ST. PATRICK. I
[ST. PATRICK stands forth.]
ST. PATRICK. I am St. Patrick from the bogs,
This truth I fain would learn ye,
I banished serpents, toads, and frogs,
From beautiful Hibernia.
I flourished my shillelah
And the reptiles all ran races,
And they took their way into the sea,
And they've never since shown their faces.
[Enter THE PRINCE OF PARADISE.]
PRINCE. I am black Prince of Paradine, born of high renown,
Soon will I fetch thy lofty courage down.
Cry grace, thou Irish conqueror of toads and frogs,
Give me thy sword, or else I'll give thy carcase to the dogs.
ST. PATRICK. Now, Prince of Paradine, where have you been ?
And what fine sights pray have you seen
Dost think that no man of thy age
Dares such a black as thee engage ?
Stand off, thou black Morocco dog, or by my sword tlou'll
I'll pierce thy body full of holes, and make thy buttons fly.
[They fight. THE PRINCE OF PARADINE is slain.]
ST. PATRICK. Now Prince of Paradine is dead,
And all his joys entirely fled,
Take him and give him to the flies,
That he may never more come near my eyes.
[Enter KING OF EGYPT.]
KING. I am the King of Egypt, as plainly doth appear,
I am come to seek my son, my only son and heir.
ST. PATRICK. He's slain That's the worst of it.
KING. Who did him slay, who did him kill,
And on the ground his precious blood did spill
52 THE PEACE EGG.
ST. FATRICK. I did him slay, I did him kill,
And on the ground his precious blood did spill.
Please you, my liege, my honour to maintain,
As I have done, so would I do again.
KING. Cursed Christian What is this thou hast done ?
Thou hast ruined me, slaying my only son.
ST. PATRICK. He gave me the challenge. Why should I him deny
How low he lies who held himself so high !
KING. Oh! Hector Hector help me with speed,
For in my life I ne'er stood more in need.
KING. Stand not there, Hector, with sword in hand,
But fight and kill at my command.
HECTOR. Yes, yes, my liege, I will obey,
And by my sword I hope to win the day.
If that be he who doth stand there
That slew my master's son and heir,
Though he be sprung from royal blood
I'll make it run like ocean flood.
[They fight. HECTOR is wounded.-'
I am a valiant hero, and Hector is my name,
Many bloody battles have I fought, and always won the same,
But from St. Patrick I received this deadly wound.
[Trumpet sounds for ST. ANDREW.]
Hark, hark, I hear the silver trumpet sound,
It summons me from off this bloody ground.
Down yonder is the way (pointing),
Farewell, farewell, I can no longer stay.
[Enter ST. ANDREW.]
KING. Is there never a doctor to be found
Can cure my son of his deep and deadly wound ?
DOCTOR. Yes, yes, there is a doctor to be found
Can cure your son of his deep and deadly wound.
KING. What's your fee?
A CHRISTMAS MUMMING PLAY. 53
DOCTOR. Five pounds and a yule cake to thee.
I have a little bottle of Elacampane
It goes by the name of virtue and fame,
That will make this worthy champion to rise and fight again.
7b PRINCE. Here, sir, take a little of my flip-flop,
Pour it on thy tip-top.
[To Audience, bowing.]
Ladies and Gentlemen can have my advice gratis.
[Exeunt KING OF EGYPT, PRINCE OF PARADINE, and DOCTOR.]
[S-T. ANDREW stands forth.]
ST. ANDREW. I am St. Andrew from the North,
Men from that part are men of worth,
To travel south we're nothing loth,
And treat you fairly, by my troth,
Here comes a man looks ready for a fray,
Come in, come in, bold soldier, and bravely clear the way.
SLASHER. I am a valiant soldier, and Slasher is my name,
With sword and buckler by my side, I hope to win more fame,
And for to fight with me I see thou art not able,
So with my trusty broadsword I soon will thee disable.
ST. ANDREW. Disable, disable? It lies not in thy power,
For with a broader sword than thine I soon will thee devour.
Stand off, Slasher, let no more be said,
For if I draw my broadsword, I'm sure to break thy head.
SLASHER. How can't thou break my head ?
Since my head is made of iron;
My body made of steel ;
My hands and feet of knuckle-bone,
I challenge thee to feel.
[They fiht, and SLASHER is wounded.]
[FOOL advances to SLASHER.]
FOOL. Alas, alas, my chiefest son is slain!
What must I do to raise him up again ?
Here he lies before you all,
I'll presently for a doctor call,
A doctor A doctor I'll go and fetch a doctor.
DOCTOR. Here am I.
FOOL. Are you the doctor?
54 THE PEACE EGG.
DOCTOR. That you may plainly see, by my art and activity.
FooL. What's your fee to cure this poor man ?
DOCTOR. Five pounds is my fee; but Jack, as thou art a fool, I'll only
take ten from thee.
FOOL. You'll be a clever doctor if you get any. [asjtJ
Well, how far have you travelled in doctorship ?
DOCTOR. From the front door to the cupboard,
Cupboard to fireplace, fireplace upstairs and into bed.
FOOL. So far, and no farther ?
DOCTOR. Yes, yes, much farther.
FOOL. How far?
DOCTOR. Through England, Ireland, Scotland, Flanders, France, and
And now am returned to cure the diseases of Old England
FooL. What can you cure?
DOCTOR. All complaints within and without,
From a cold in your head to a touch of the gout.
If any lady's figure is awry
I'll make her very fitting to pass by,
I'll give a coward a heart if he be willing,
Will make him stand without fear of killing.
Ribs, legs, or arms, whatever you break, be sure
Of one or all I'll make a perfect cure.
Nay, more than this by far, I will maintain,
If you should lose your head or heart, I'll give it you again.
Then here's a doctor rare, who travels much at home,
So take my pills, I cure all ills, past, present, or to come.
I in my time many thousands have directed,
And likewise have as many more dissected,
And I never met a gravedigger who to me objected,
If a man gets 19 bees in his bonnet, I'll cast twenty of 'em
out. I've got in my pocket crutches for lame ducks,
spectacles for blind bumble-bees, pack-saddles and pan-
niers for grasshoppers, and many other needful things.
Surely I can cure this poor man.
Here, Slasher, take a little out of my bottle, and let it run
down thy throttle; and if thou beest not quite slain, rise
man, and fight again. [SLASHER rises.]
SLASHER. Oh, my back !
FOOL. What's amiss with thy back ?
A CHRISTMAS MUMMING PLAY. 55
SLASHER. My back is wounded,
And my heart is confounded,
To be struck out of seven senses into fourscore,
The like was never seen in Old England before.
[Trumpet sounds for ST. DAVID.]
Oh, hark I hear the silver trumpet sound !
It summons me from off this bloody ground,
Down yonder is the way (points,)
Farewell, farewell, I can no longer stay. [Exit SLASHER.]
FOOL. Yes, Slasher, thou had'st better go,
Else the next time he'll pierce thee through.
[ST. DAVID stands forth.]
ST. DAVID. Of Taffy's Land I'm Patron Saint,
Oh yes, indeed, I'll you acquaint,
Of Ancient Britons I've a race
Dare meet a foeman face to face.
For Welshmen (hear it once again;)
Were born before all other men.
I'll fear no man in fight or freaks,
Whilst Wales produces cheese and leeks.
[Enter TURKISH KNIGHT.]
TURKISH KNIGIT. Here comes I, the Turkish Knight,
Come from the Turkish land to fight
I'll take St. David for my foe,
And make him yield before I go;
He brags to such a high degree,
He thinks there was never a Knight but he.
So draw thy sword, St. David, thou man of courage bold,
If thy Welsh blood is hot, soon will I fetch it cold.
ST. DAVID. Where is the Turk that will before me stand ?
I'll cut him down with my courageous hand.
TURKISH KNIGHT. Draw out thy sword and slay,
Pull out thy purse and pay,
For satisfaction I will have, before I go away.
SThey fi/it. THE TURKISH KNIGHT is wounded, and falls on one knee ]
Quarter! quarter! good Christian, grace of thee I crave,
Oh, pardon me this night, and 1 will be thy slave.
ST. DAVID. I keep no slaves, thou Turkish Knight,
So rise thee up again, and try thy might.
SThey fight again. THE TURIISH KNIGHT is slain.]
[Exit TURKISH KNIGIIHT
56 THE PEACE EGG.
ST. GEORGE. I am the chief of all these valiant knights,
We'll spill our heart's blood for Old England's rights,
Old England's honour we will still maintain,
We'll fight for Old England once and again.
[Flourishes his sword above his head and then lays it over his right shoulder.
I challenge all my country's foes.
ST. PATRICK [dealing with his sword in like manner, and then taking the
point of ST. GEORGE'S sword with his left hand.]
And I'll assist with mighty blows.
ST. ANDREW [acting like the other.]
And you shall find me ready too.
ST. DAVID [the same.]
And who but I so well as you.
FOOL [imitates the Knights, and they close the circle and go round.]
While we are joined in heart and hand,
A gallant and courageous band,
If e'er a foe dares look awry,
We'll one and all poke out his eye.
SALADIN. Don't vaunt thus, my courageous knights,
For I, as you, have seen some sights
In Palestine, in days of yore.
'Gainst prowess strong I bravely bore
The sway, when all tie world in arms
Shook Holy Land with wars alarms.
I for the crescent, you the cross,
Each mighty host oft won and lost.
I many a thousand men did slay,
And ate two hundred twice a day,
And now I come, a giant great,
Just waiting for another meat.
ST. GEORGE. Oh Saladin! Art thou come with sword in hand,
Against St. George and Christendom so rashly to withstand?
SALADIN. Yes, yes, St. George, with thee I mean to fight,
And with one blow, I'll let thee know
I am not the Turkish Knight.
ST. GEORGE. Ah, Saladin, St. George is in this very room,
Thou'rt come this unlucky hour to seek thy fatal doom.
A CHRISTMAS MUMMING PLAY 57
[Enter LITTLE PAGE,]
LITTLE PAGE. Hold, hold, St. George, I pray thee stand by,
I'll conquer him, or else I'll die;
Long with that Pagan champion will I engage.
Although I am but the Little Page.
ST. GEORGE. Fight on, my little page, and conquer!'
And don't thee be perplext,
For if thou discourage in the field,
Fight him will I next.
[They fight. THE LITTLE PAGE falls.]
SALADIN. Though but a little man, they were great words he said.
ST. GEORGE. Ah! cruel monster. What havoc hast thou made?
See where the lovely stripling all on the floor is laid,
A Doctor! A Doctor! Ten pounds for a doctor !
[DAME DOLLY dances forward, bobbing as before.]
DAME DOLLY. Here comes I, little Dame Dorothy,
Flap front, and good morrow to ye;
My head is big, my body is small.
I'm the prettiest little jade of you all.
Call not the Doctor for to make him worse,
But give the boy into my hand to nurse.
To LITTLE PAGE. Rise up, my pretty page, and come with me,
And by kindness and kitchen physic, I'll cure thee without
[PAGE rises. Exeunt PAGE and DAME DOLLY.]
[ST. GEORGE and SALADIN figt. SALADIN is slain.]
ST. GEORGE. Carry away the dead, Father.
FATHER CHRISTMAS. Let's see whether he's dead or no, first, Georgy.
Yes; I think he's dead enough, Georgy.
ST. GEORGE. Carry him away then, Father.
FATHER CHRISTMAS [vainly tries to move the GIANT'S body.]
Thou killed him; thou carry him away.
ST. GEORGE. If you can't carry him, call for help.
FATHER CHRISTMAS [to audience.]
Three or four of you great logger-headed fellows,
Come and carry him away.
[DOCTOR and FooL raise the GIANT by his arms. Exit GIANT.]
58 THE PEACE EGG.
[Enter LITTLE MAN JACK.]
LITTLE MAN JACK. Here comes I, Little Man Jack,
The Master of Giants;
If I could but conquer thee, St. George,
I'd bid the world defiance.
ST. GEORGE. And if thou beest Little Man Jack, the Master of all Giants,
I'll take thee up on my back, and carry thee without violence.
[Lifts him over his shoulder.]
FOOL. Now brave St. George, he rules the roast,
Britons triumphant be the toast;
Let cheerful song and dance abound,
Whene'er the Mummer's time comes round.
Rule, Britannia; Britannia rules the waves,
Britons never, never, never will be slaves.
GRAND SWORD DANCE.
Cut I and cross.
Cut 2 and cross partner (which is R. and L.).
Same back again.
The two Knights at opposite corners R. H. Cut I and cross, and Cut 2 with
Same back (which is Ladies' Chain).
Four sword-points up in the centre.
All go round-all Cut 6-and come to bridle-arm protect, and round to places.
Repeat the first figure.
[All go round, and then out, singing.]
And a mumming we will go, will go, and a mumming we will go, with a
bright cock ade in all our hats, We'll go with a gal -lant show.
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.
3h 7 5S1
,1012 lots! -
I ___ II I I I~_ II I