Location: England
Year: Perf. 1837
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: Mummers


Penny Magazine, 2nd Dec.1837, No.364, pp.470-471



{Enter old Father Christmas, with a long beard.}

[Father Christmas]

Oh! here come I, old Father Christmas; welcome or welcome not,
I hope old Father Christmas will never be forgot.
Make room, room, I say,
That I may lead Mince Pye this way.
Walk in, Mince Pye, and act thy part,
And shew the gentles thy valiant heart.

{Enter Mince Pye, with a wooden sword.}

[Mince Pye]

Room, room, you gallant souls, give me room to rhyme,
I will show you some festivity this Christmas time.
Bring me the man that bids me stand,
Who says he'll cut me down with audacious hand;
I will cut him and hew him as small as a fly,
And send him to Satan to make Mince Pye.
Walk in, St. George.

[St. George]

Oh! in come I St. George, the man of courage bold,
With my aword and buckler I have won three crowns of gold;
I fought the fiery Dragon, and brought him to the slaughter,
I won a beauteous Queen and a King of Britain's daughter.
If thy mind is high, my mind is bold;
If thy blood is hot, I will make it cold. {They fight.}

{Mince Pye is vanquished and falls.}


Oh! St. George, spare my life.


Is no Doctor to be found,
To cure this man who is bleeding on the ground?

{Enter the Doctor.}


Oh! yes, there is a Doctor to be found
To cure Mince Pye who is bleeding on the ground.
I cure the sick of every pain,
And raise the dead to life again.


Doctor, what is thy fee?


Ten pounds is my fee;
But fifteen I must take of thee,
Before I set this Gallant free.


Work thy will, Doctor.


I have a little bottle by my side,
The fame of which spreads far and wide;
Drop a drop on this poor man's nose.

{Up jumps Mince Pye.}

{Enter Little Jack, a Dwarf, with dolls at his back.}

[Little Jack]

Oh! in come t, little saucy Jack,
With all my family at my back;
Christmas comes but once a year,
And when it does it brings good cheer.
Roast beef, plum pudding, and Mince Pye,
Who likes that any better than I?
Christmas ale makes us dance and sing;
Money in purse us a very fine thing.
Ladies and Gentlemen, give us what you please.


Peter Millington's Notes:

An almost identical unlocated, possibly Wiltshire text, with two extra lines, was published by F.A.Carrington (1854) "On Certain Ancient Wiltshire Customs", Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, 1854, Vol.1, No.1, pp.68-91. The following paragraph immediately precedes the script, although he does not state explicitly that it relates to that particular script.
"About fifteen years ago one of my friends applied to different set of Mummers, and wrote down their verses from their dictation. the interpolations were of course not the same with different sets of Mummers, but the original verses were so - indeed some of the interpolations had reference to Napoleon, and the French was which ended in 1814, and were easily separated from the original text."
If this statement does relate to his script, it indicates that it is a collated or constructed composite.
The 'Penny Magazine' script is also worked into the narrative of a story entitled "The Stocking's Story" in E.Wetherell (1854) "The Christmas Stocking", London, James Nisbet & Co., 1854, pp.243-249.
The text from Cocking, Sussex, published by R.J.E.Tiddy (1923, pp.200-202) is also almost identical, with a several extra lines.

Author's Preamble:

MUMMING. THIS was an ancient Christmas pastime, consisting of a species of masquerading: the name is derived from the Danish word mumme, and the practice is supposed to have arisen from the sigillaria, or festival days added to the ancient Saturnalia. Stowe gives us an account of a mumming made by the citizens of London for Prince Richard, son of the Black Prince, in 1377:- "On the Sunday before Candlemas, a 130 citizens disguised and well-horsed, rode to Kennington, near Lambeth (where the Prince was with his mother), with trumpets, sacbuts, shalms [1] , and other instruments; forty-eight as esquires, two and two, in red coats and gowns of sandal [2] ; forty-eight as knights, one as an emperor, another as pope; twenty-four as cardinals, and eight or ten with black visors as legates of foreign princes : they entered the hall and played at dice with the Prince, who they took care should win, and after that they danced and feasted." In the second year of King Henry IV.'s reign, when he kept his Christmas at Eltham, twelve aldermen of London, and their sons, rode a mumming, and had great thanks; but it seems that a later mumming, in the same reign, in the royal palace, was intended as a mode of assassinating the king. Mumming, however, was not confined to royal palaces, and was sometimes productive of mischief; for, by an Act of Parliament in the third year of Henry VIII., it was enacted that mummers shall be imprisoned three months, and fined at the justices' discretion; and persons selling or keeping visors shall forfeit 20s. for every visor, and be imprisoned at the discretion or the justices. The masques also appear to resemble the mummings, as Sir Walter Scott, ill his notes to the 6th Canto of 'Marmion,' gives the characters of a masque, which include those of Christmas and Mince Pye, these being characters in mumming of the present day; and he also observes that the mummers of England and the guisards of Scotland present a shadow of the old mysteries which were the origin of the English drama. The practice of mumming is still continued at Christmas in many parts of England, when the characters, attired in grotesque dresses, enter the houses in the evening, suddenly throwing open the door, and one after the other enacting the different parts allotted to them as follows:-

Author's Notes:

Note 1: Species of Hautboy,
Note 2: A d of silk.

File History:

2007-05-15 - Scanned and OCRed by Peter Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


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