Location: Northamptonshire, England (SP----)
Year: Publ. 1851
Time of Occurrence: Tander, Saint Andrew's Day
Collective Name: Mumming


Thomas Sternberg
The Dialect and Folk-Lore of Northamptonshire
London, John Russell Smith, 1851, pp.72,183-185



King George

Here comes old Belzebub,
On his yead he kyars a club,
In his hons he's a drippin pun;
Dwant ye think he's a jolly old mon?

{The fool, who is also musician, introduces himself in the following speech:-}


Here comes I as is nar bin yit,
Wi' my gret yead an little wit :
My yead's too big, an my wit's too small,
So I'll play ye a tune to plaze ye all.


Sternberg's Notes:

The name given to the festival of St. Andrew, old style, Dec. llth, of which it is a corruption.
Of all the numerous red-letter days which diversified the lives of our ancestors, this is the only one which has survived to our own times in anything like its pristine character. St. Andrew appears to be looked upon by the lace-makers as their patron saint; which may perhaps account for the estimation in which his festival is held. In many places, where progress has not yet shown her face, the day is one of unbridled licence - a kind of miniature carnival. Village 'scholards' bar out their master; the lace-schools are deserted, and drinking and feasting prevail to a riotous extent. Towards evening the sober villagers appear to have become suddenly smitten with a violent taste for masquerading. Women may be seen walking about in male attire, while men and boys have donned the female dress, and visit each other's cottages, drinking hot 'eldern wine,' the staple beverage of the season. Then commences the Mumming, too often described to need mention here, save to note that in the rude drama performed in the Northamptonshire villages, St. George has given place to George III., and the dragon, formerly the greatest attraction of the piece, been supplanted by Napoleon, who is annually killed on this night in personal encounter with the aforesaid monarch, to the intense delight and edification of the loyal audience. Notwithstanding the change in the dramatis personae, the rhymes are but slightly altered, and the legerdemain tricks of the fool, the 'travels of the egg,' alluded to by Ben Jonson, are still to be observed. The speech of King George, introducing the fiend, is remarkably similar to the one given by Mr. Chambers as current in the West of Scotland. Vide Popular Rhymes of Scotland, p.304.
[See text fragments above]
lt is singular that these festivities, looked upon as commencing the joyous season of Christmas, and by no means confined to Northamptonshire, should have escaped the researches of all previous collectors."
Separate entry on p.72:
"MUMMERS. Masqueraders, who go from house to house on St. Andrew's night (O.S.) and continued during Christmas. Vide Tander."

File History:

2002-01-03 - Scanned and encoded by Peter Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


TEI-encoded File

A TEI-encoded XML version of this text can be downloaded here.

Text Relatives Map

See how many of the lines in this text also appear in other plays:
  • As a histogram sorted by the number of shared lines
  • On a map with markers sized according to the number of shared lines

Other Information

There may be more about this text at: