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THE Christmas play is a very ancient institution in Cornwall. At one time religious subjects were chosen, but those gave way to romantic plays. The arrangements were tolerably complete, and sometimes a considerable amount of dramatic skill was displayed.

"St George, and the other tragic performers, are dressed out some. what in the style of morris-dancers, in their shirt sleeves and white trousers, much decorated with riblbons and handkerchiefs, each carryg a drawn sword in his hand, if they can be procured, otherwise a cudgel. They wear high caps of pasteboard, adorned with beads, small pieces of looking-glass, coloured paper, &c. ; several long strips of pith generally hang down from the top, with small pieces of different coloured cloth strung on them; the whole has a very smart effect.

Father Christmas is personified in a grotesque manner, as an ancient man wearing a large mask and wig, and a huge club, wherewith he keeps the bystanders in order.

The Doctor, who is generally the merryandrew of the piece, is dressed in any ridiculous way, with a wig, three-cornered hat, and painted face.

The other comic characters are dressed according to fancy.

The female, where there is one, is usually in the dress worn half a century ago.

The hobbyhorse, which is a character sometimes introduced, wears a representation of a horse's hide.

Beside the regular drama of "St George," many parties of mummers go about in fancy dresses of every sort, most commonly the males in female attire, and vice versa.


[One of the party steps in, crying out, -

Room, a room, brave gallants, room !
Within this court
I do resort
To show some sport
And pastime,
Gentlemen and ladies, in the Christmas time.

[After this note of preparation, Old Father Christmas capers into the room, saying -

Here comes I, Old Father Christmas;
Welcome or welcome not,
I hope Old Father Christmas
Will never be forgot.
I was born in a rocky country, where there was no wood to make me cradle; I was rocked in a stouring bowl, which made me round shouldered then, and I am round shouldered still.

[He then frisks about the room, until he thinks he has sufficiently amused the spectators, when he makes his exit, with this speech -

Who went to the orchard to steal apples to make gooseberry pies against Christmas ?

[These prose speeches, you may suppose, depend much upon the imagination of the actor.

Enter Turkish Knight

Here comes I, a Turkish Knight,
Come from the Turkish land to fight;
And if St George do meet me here,
I'll try his courage without fear.

Enter St George

Here comes I, St George,
That worthy champion bold;
And, with my sword and spear,
I won three crowns of gold.
I fought the dragon bold,
And brought him to the slaughter;
By that I gain'd fair Sabra,
To the King of Egypt's daughter.

T.K. St George, I pray, be not too bold
        If thy blood is hot, I'll soon make it cold
St. G Thou Turkish knight, I pray forbear;
        I'll make thee dread my sword and spear.

[They fight until the Turkish knight falls

St. G I have a little bottle, which goes by the name Elicumpane;
        If the man is alive, let him rise and fight again.

[The Knight here rises on one knee, and endeavours to continue the fight, but is again struck down

T.K. Oh pardon me, St George; oh pardon me, I crave;
        Oh pardon me this once, and I will be thy slave.
St. G I'll never pardon a Turkish knight;
        Therefore arise and try thy might.

[The knight gets up, and they fight, till the knight receives a heavy blow, and then drops on the ground as dead.

St G Is there a doctor to be found
        To cure a deep and deadly wound ?

Enter Doctor

        Oh yes, there is a doctor to be found,
        To cure a deep and deadly wound.

St. G What can you cure ?
Doctor I can cure the itch, the palsy, and gout;
        If the devil's in him. I'll pull him out.

[The doctor here performs the cure with sundry grimaces, and St George and the knight again fight, when the latter is knocked down, and left for dead.

[Then another performer enters, and on seeing the dead body, says, -

        Ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
        If Uncle Tom Pearce won't have him, Aunt Molly must.

[The hobby horse here capers in, and takes off the body.

Enter Old Squire

        Here comes I, old, Old Squire
        As black as any friar
        As ragged as a colt,
        To leave fine clothes for malt.

Enter Hub Bub

        Here comes I, old Hub Bub Bub Bub;
        Upon my shoulders I carries a club,
        And in my hand a frying pan,
        So am I not a valient man ?

[These characters serve as a sort of burlesque on St George and the other hero, and may be regarded in the light of an anti-masque

Enter the Box-holder

        Here comes I, great head and little wit;
        Put your hand in your pocket, and give what you think fit.
        Gentlemen and ladies sitting down at your ease,
        Put your hand in your pocket, and give me what you please.

St G. Gentlemen and ladies, the sport is almost ended;
        Come pay to the box, it is highly commended.
        The box it would speak, if it had but a tongue;
        Come throw in your money, and think it no wrong.

The characters now generally finish with a dance, or sometimes a song or two is introduced. In some of the performances, two or three other tragic heroes are brought forward, as the King of Egypt and his son, &c.; but they are all of them much in the style of that I have just described, varying somewhat in length and number of characters."-- The Every-Day Book.

Of the Cornish mystery plays which were once acted in the famous "Rounds," it is not necessary, in this place, to say any­thing. The translations by Mr Norris preserve their characteristics, which indeed differ in few respects from the mystery plays of other parts.

The "Perran Round" is fortunately preserved by the proprietor in its original state. Every one must regret the indifference of the wealthy inhabitants of St Just to their "Round," which is now a wretched ruin.

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