Location: Silverton, Devon, England (SS9502)
Year: Perf. About 1873; Col. 1899 or 1900
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: Mummers


H.E.Fox Strangways
The Silverton Mummers' Rhymes [with covering letter to Mrs. Eden]
Thomas Fairman Ordish Collection, Folklore Society, The Warburg Institute, University College London, 1889 or 1900.




Ladies and Gentleman, I beg your kind permission,
We are going to entertain you with a grand exhibition -
Of all fights & wars to you I will rehearse -
I will repeat it to you all in verse.
Gentlemen now at the door do stand,
They will walk in with drawn sword in hand.
If you don't believe in what I've got to say,
Let General Hill walk in, & boldly clear the way.

General Hill

Well, my brave countrymen, with joy
Are you the men whose noble heart & tender care
Has made these rocks and friends so dear -
What say, my friend, I see thou hast not done
My whole instructions in our native lon [land]


All hail, Genl. Hill, and with delight I see thou be
The Saviour of old England's country. -
Dost thou belong to all Britain's united phrase
I think we've got a cheerful voice, then let us raise {they sing}
"Britannia! Britannia rules the waves
Britons never shall be slaves"

Genl. Hill

All hail that glorious news that fires my heart
To hear of Bonny's downfall, & the honour of peace!
Although on these foundations do I build my fame
To "injulate" [sic] that great and Roman name.

Spanish General

I am the Spanish General
Just come from the Rock of Gibraltar
And now to make the Crown of Spain
The British "old jovial" [sic] , the sons of the main.

General Hill

I'll first let you know who you are to engage
It's General Hill inspires your rage
Who puts not his trust in the shows of the Pope
But in the God of Battles do I put my hope.

Spn. Genl.

Ah! Hill it is vain for thee to oppost
Such a handful of men to my numerous host!
Although in thy small garrisons I pity thy distress
It's not in my power to give thee thy redress.

Genl. Hill

Although in my small garrisons do I put my trust,
I'm not to be smoted by thy numerous host,
Although thy gunboats & batteries make a loud noise
At least they don't down daunt our brave British boys
Who to our Queen & country & lovers prove true
For thy mighty forces to subdue.
We want not for skill nor courage nor conduct at all
But I'd rather press on thee with hot & cold ball.

Spn. Genl

Ah! Hill shouldn't thou have courage to enter
Or yet suffer one transport to venture -
There was such a reinforcement in Dover we have!
I'd rather be taken, than smitten to a watery grave.

Genl. Hill

No number at all - do I meditate
Canst thou remember in Spain what was thy fate
There was an engagement there where I made thee comply
And a fleet of men before me to fly.
So now press on, and draw forth thy sword
And see who obtains the victory.

{They fight, and the Spanish general is killed}

{Enter Admiral Howe}

Admiral Howe

Here comes I brave Admiral Howe, my exploits to make known
Who fought the French all on the sea, & made them bow to England's crown
Who fought the French all on the sea, my honour to advance
The fleet we met we did defeat, & retired to proud France.

{Enter Father Christmas.}

Father Christmas

Here comes I, poor old Father Christmas, welcome or welcome not
I hope poor old Father Christmas will never be forgot.
Christmas comes but once a year
And when he comes he brings good cheer
And when he's gone he's never the near
My head is big, my back is bent
My knees be weak, & my days is almost spent.

Father Christmas

Eighteen hundred & seventy three
It's a very great age for me
And if I'd been sucking all these years
What a monster I should be!
Now I come but a short time to stay
And if you don't believe what I've forgot to say
Let my wife Dolly come in, & boldly clear the way.

Dame Dolly

Here comes I, little Dame Dolly,
Drinking gin is all my folly,
I'm not like the little maidens in May,
I don't think much of drinking tay -
And my son John he's down below,
If you don't believe what I've got to say,
Let my son Room come in, & boldly clear his way.

{Enter 'Son Room'}

Son Room

Brave gallants all give room -
We all come here this night to show you sport & pastime
Sport & pastime is all our mirth
We are called upon to act St. George's birth.
Let bells ring loud, and music play!
I pray let the King of Egypt - come in & boldly clear his way.

{Enter King of Egypt}

King of Egypt

Here comes I the King of Egypt, see how grand he doth appear
St. George, St. George he is my son, my only son & heir.
St. George come on, & boldly act thy part
And let the jovial company see thou hast a noble heart.

St. George

Here comes I - S. George, that valiant knight
I'll spill my blood for old England's right,
Old England's right will I maintain
I'll fight for old England once and again -
But now I'm come to understand
That some proud Turk has placed his foot on English land -
Fight him will I, if I'm sure to be slain,
As long as I've one drop of blood to circulate in any vein.

{nter Turkish Knight}

Turkish Knight

Here come I the Turkish knight
Just come from the Turkish land to fight
Fight thee, S. George, thou man of courage bold
And if thy blood is hot, soon will I fetch it cold.

S. George

To whom, to whom & you that saucy challenge give?


To thee, to thee, thou English dog, no longer shalt thou live.
Draw out thy sword & fight, pull out thy purse & pay,
For satisfaction will I have before I go away.

S. George

No satisfaction shalt thou have, no satisfaction shalt thou crave
For in ten minutes time I'll make thee a Turkish slave.
So now prepare, draw forth thy sword, & see who gets the Victory.

{They fight & the Turk is overthrown. S. George raises him up - saying}

S. George

Arise, thou Turkish dog, and to thy homans [sic] go and tell
What champions bold do in fair England dwell.

{Enter Prince Valentine}

Prince Valentine

Here comes I, Prince Valentine, that man of high renown
Soon shall that lofty courage of thine, St. George, come tumbling down.

S. George

Ah! Prince Valentine, art thou come with sword in hand
Against S. George that no man can withstand!

Pn. Val.

Yes, yes, S. George, with thee I mean to fight
And with one blow I'll let thee know
I'm not the Turkish knight.
Although the Turk deny th'Atoning Blood, we won't to them surrender
But yet I'll fight with thee S. George, thou noble heart defender.

S. George

Ah! Prince Valentine, S. George is in this very room
Thou'rt come in this unlucky hour, to seek thy fatal doom.

{They fight, Pr. V. falls - all sing}


Here lies the body of Prince Valentine
The darling of our crew
No more he'll hear the trumpet sound
For death has brought him to.

S. George

Is there a doctor to be found?
That will try to heal this worthy champion of his deep & deadly wound.


Yes yes S. George there is a doctor that will try
To heal this worthy champion of his deep and deadly wound.

S. George

What made thee doctor?


My travels.

S. George

Pray give me some of them.


Yes yes S. George, - From the front door to the cupboard
cupboard to the fireplace, fireplace & to bed.

S. George

Very short travels indeed doctor.
Pray give me some of your longer ones.


Yes yes S. George, I've travelled through England
Ireland, Scotland, Flanders, France & Spain
And by good luck & fortune I returned
To old England again.

S. George

What is thy fee? -


Five Pounds, & a hot roll, to thee.

S. George

Very good, well, but here, 'tis a cold & frosty morning
Pray heal this man -


Ladies & gentlemen, I've a little bottle of medicine
That goes by the name. Of virtue & fame
That will make the worthy champion rise & fight again.

{Pn Val. gets up & walks off}

{Enter Valiant soldiers}

Valiant Soldier

Here comes I, the valiant soldier
Bold slasher is my name
With sword & buckler by my side
In hopes to win the game.
My head is not of iron, my body is not of steel
My breeches isn't thickest skin, but I'll fight thee S. George for all thy skill.

S. George

From whence art thou?
From England Ireland Scotland Flanders France or Spain?

Valiant soldier

I'm a champion, don't be surprised -
I've come here on purpose to make thee my prize

St. George

I'll prove thous't come to thy fatal death.
Prepare! - Draw forth thy sword
For thou surely shalt lose thy breath.

{Enter Giant}


Here comes I, the Giant great
Just waiting for another meat
If I could catch thee in my claws
With my sharp teeth & jaws
Marrow from thy bones I'd squeeze
And suck thy blood all by degrees.
Slay thee too, St. George will all my might & main
And twenty thousand more before I return again.

{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 hero I will engage
Although I am but a little page.

S. George

Fight on, my little page, and conquer
And don't thou be perplext
For if thou discourage in this field
Fight him will I next.

{They fight, the little page falls}


Though little man, great words they was he spake to me,
And there he lies all on the floor, as you can plainly see.

S. George

Ah! cruel monster see what havoc thou hast made
See the lovely stripling all on the floor is laid -
Thy life for this! thy body I will slay -
Come on my lads, and carry this little page away!
{kills the giant}
Carry away the dead, Father -

Father Christmas

Let's see whe-er he's dead or no first, Georgy,
I thinks he's dead enough Georgy -

S. George

Carry him away then, Father -

F. Christs.

Thee's killed him, thee can carry him away -

S. George

If you can't carry him, call for help -

F. Christmas

Dree or vower [three or four] o'you great loggerheaded vellers,
come in, and carry him away.

{Enter Dame Dorothy}

Dame Dorothy

Here comes I, little Dame Dorothy
Flap port & good morrow t'ye
My head is big, my body is small
I'm the prettiest little jade among you all
Knock, Knock, S. George I pray stand by,
And let little Dame Dorothy pass by.

S. George

Oh you wicked old jade,
I'll commit your body to a watery grave -

{They sing}


Oh see, oh see, what hast thou done
Thou'st killed our aged mother!


Is there a doctor to be found
That will try & heal this lady of her deep & deadly wound.


Yes, yes, S. George, there is a doctor to be found,
That will try & heal this lady of her deep & deadly wound.

S. George

Pray cure this old lady.


Ladies & gentlemen, I have a little bottle of pills in my pocket
That will cure all strange diseases hereafter & to come
That will cause this here old lady to rise away & run
Ladies & gentlemen shall have my advice gratis -

{Enter Bonaparte}


Here comes I, bold Bonaparte,
With my broadsword I'll make the King of Spain to smart.

{Enter King of Spain}

King of Spain

Here comes I, the King of Spain
To fight that swaggering Bonarparte for my country once again.

{Enter little man Jack}

Little Man Jack

Here comes I, little man Jack
The master of giants -
If I could but conquer thee, S. George -
I'd bid the world defiance.

S. George

Suppose thou art little man Jack, the master of all giants,
I'll take thee up upon my back, & carry thee out with violence.

{Enter Tippoo}


Tippoo is my name, & India is my right
What force or power can withstand
The forces of this British land
I have 80,000 fleet that will fight at my command.
And eighteen of them now will before me stand -
Soon will I let Cornwallis know
That India's hills with English blood shall flow -


Why, Tippoo, why, dost thou so vainly boast
Or make mention of thy mighty host -
What's all thy force when English blood is heated
And by the English thou always wast defeated.


Me! defeated! Don't talk so fast
Not a dog like thee shall my honour blast -
As long as I have strength to lift this point of steel
I'd rather die a hero, than live a coward still -


Thou say'st thou'dst rather die -
Than to our English terms comply -
I'm the man to strike thee with a blow -
That shall chill thy blood, and make thy tears to flow

{Enter Admiral Nelson}

Admiral Nelson

Here comes I, brave Admiral Nelson
See how grandly he doth show -
I have but one arm, & a good one too
With my mighty arm I make both men & fleets to fall
We meet these French dogs all on the coast of Spain
And we intend to give a broadside before we return again
Old England expects every man to do his duty & stand to his gun
And we'll soon make those French dogs run.

{They fight. Nelson falls}

S. George

Is there a doctor to be found
That will try to cure this champion of his deep & deadly wound?


Yes, yes, S. George &c -
Ah! Nelson! British hero! How art thou fallen
Thine is a deep and deadly wound
To thee the truth I'll tell.
Help! Help! -- shall I cry help again
To carry poor Nelson from the place where he was slain -
See the tears on his either cheek -
Britons! our Nelson's dead!
But he is not in the arms of the dead, but the Living God.


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.

{He takes the crown off Nelson's head, and puts it on his own.}

[Collingwood ?]

Ladies & gentlemen, our sports are all ended.
Prepare for the box, which is highly commended -
The box would speak, if it had but a tongue
So now prepare, and give them a song.

{They all sing}


"Every man is expected his duty to do"
Was the last signal made by the British fleet crew
Be your watchword like Nelson's, ye sons of the main
Then ye'll fight, and ye'll conquer again & again.
Huzza! Huzza! The army & navy huzza!
We'll ne'er find such men as the navy huzza!
Success to old England, the land of the free
Success to our Sovereign, the Queen of the sea!
Success to all sailors the lords of the main!
Success to our Army and Navy again!
Huzza! Huzza! Huzza! {ad lib}


[Covering letter to Mrs. Eden - extract]
"Ever believe me, dear Mrs. Eden.
Very sincerely Yours.
H.E. Fox Strangways.
It is no wonder you failed to get a printed version of the Mummers rhymes - for none existed when I saw it acted twenty five years ago, and it is quite discontinued now I'm afraid & probably forgotten. I wrote this down from 'S.George's' lips - I made him come & recite it to me."
In another hand, the covering letter is marked "? 1899 or 1900" This date is credible, because other dated folk plays were collected by Mrs. Eden about then (I.Gatty (1948) Folk-lore, Vol.59, pp.16-34. Also, Father Christmas gives his age as 1873. It seems likely that this was the year of performance, which would be in line with Mrs. Fox-Strangways memory.

File History:

2000-11-08 - Encoded by Peter Millington
2001-10-27 - Cast list added by Peter Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


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