The Real Father Christmas
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Mummers and Christmas Guiser plays frequently represented Father Christmas.
Not the gift giver but the more traditional leader of the feast, there to bring joy and
entertainment to those keeping the feast. If you want to see one these plays in action
then please visit this page which has an excellent video of a performance of one
at London's Globe Theatre including a very good Father Christmas.

The best on line resource for these kind of plays in without a doubt folkplay.info.

The following is an extract from a Mummers play from Cornwall recorded by the well
known antiquarian William Sandys in circa 1827.

[Introducer]

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,}

Father Christmas

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 a 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.}

Father Christmas

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.}

Turkish Knight

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

{Enter St. George.}

Saint George

Here comes I, Saint 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 won fair Sabra,
the king of Egypt's daughter.

Turkish Knight

Saint George, I pray be not too bold,
If thy blood is hot, I'll soon make it cold.

Saint George

Thou Turkish Knight, I pray forbear,
I'll make thee dread my sword and spear.

{They fight until the T. knight falls.}

Saint George

I have a little bottle, which goes by the name of 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.}

Turkish Knight

Oh! pardon me, Saint George, oh! pardon me I crave,
Oh! pardon me this once, and I will be thy slave.

Saint George

I'll never pardon a Turkish Knight
Therefore arise, and try thy might.

{The knight gets up, and they again fight, till the knight receives a heavy blow,

and then drops on the ground as dead.}

Saint George

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

{Enter Doctor}

Doctor

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

Saint George

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 

Knight again fight, when the latter is knocked down, and left for dead.}

{Then another performer enters, and on seeing the dead body, says,}

[Someone]

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}

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}

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 not I a valiant 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}

[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 pockets, give me what you please.

Saint George

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.

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