[From Manx Soc vol 16, 1869]
This is a version of the old Christmas play of " St. George and the Dragon," which both in England, Scotland, and Ireland, has been from an early day, and still continues amongst the most popular amusements of Christmas. The plot every-where seems to be pretty nearly the same ; scarcely any two sets of performers render it alike, constantly mixing up extraneous matter, often of a local nature, and frequently allusive to the passing events of the day, making the confusion of character in all the versions very great.*
In this Isle the dramatis personae-St. George, Prince Valentine, King of Egypt, Sambo, and the Doctor-as their designation imparts, are attired in white dresses, showing their shirt sleeves, fantastically decorated with ribbons, fancycoloured paper, beads, and tinsel. They wear high caps or turbans of white pasteboard similarly decked out, with a sprig of evergreen or " Christmas" stuck in them, and each carrying a drawn sword in his hand. The " Doctor" is in full black, with face and cap of the same, armed with a stick, and a bladder tied to the end, with which he belabours those who press too close upon the performers. He generally carries a small box for the contributions, and is a kind of Merry-Andrew to the play, which, if it happens to fall in the hands of a sprightly wag, causes some amusement to the audience, who, somehow or other, generally appear more frightened than pleased with the rest of the characters. The performance is often wound up by a song. The following I took down as it was recited in my house in the Christmas of 1845.
*This play is mentioned by Davies Gilbert, F. R. S., as being popular in the West of England in his An~ Christmas Carob, London 1822 ; and the play is given as represented in Cornwall in Wm. Sandys Christmas Carols, London 1833 ; also another version in. his Christmastide. -
KING OF EGYPT.
IT is here by your leave, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We will act,a sporting play;
We will show you fine diversion,
Before we go away.
It is room, room, brave gallant boys!
Give us room to rhyme,
We will show you fine diversion
In this Christmas time.
It is room, room, give us room to sport,
This is the place we wish to resort
To resort and to repeat our pretty rhymes,
Remember good folks it is the Christmas times.
This Christmas tiine as we now appear,
We wish to act our merry Christmas here;
We are the merry actors that travel the street,
We are the merry actors who fight for our meat,
We are the merry actors who show pleasant play;
Enter in the King of Egypt---clear the way !
Enter THE KING OF EGYPT. ,
I am the King of Egypt, and so boldly do appear,
And St George, he is my soia, my only son and heir
Step forth my son St. George! and act thy part with ease,
Show forth to all the living company thy praise.
Enter ST. GEORGE,.
I am thy son St. George, and from England have I sprung,
Many are the.noble deeds. and wonders I have done.
Full fourteen years m prison I was kept,
And out of that into a cave I leap't,
From thence I went into a rock of stone;
'Twas there I made my sad and grievous moan.
Many were. the lions that I did subdue,
I ran the fiery dragon through and through;
With a golden trumpet in my mouth
I sounded at the gates divine, the truth.
It's here to England, right from Egypt's station,
It is here I draw my bloody weapoil
Show me the man that dare before me stand
I'll cut him down with my courageous hand!
Or, who dare challenge me to fight, and I so great?
I who have fought Lords, Dukes, and made the earth to quake!
Enter PRINCE VALENTINE.
St. George. Who art thou? Poor silly fellow!
Valentine. Iam a Turkish champion, from Turkish land came,
I came to fight that valiant knight, St. George they call his name
For it is hereby my name is written, Prince Valentine,
Descended from a hardy race and of a noble line.
And soon St. George I'll make thy lofty laurels flee,
It shall not be said by all that I did yield to thee!
We'll fight it out most manfully. Draw!
St. George. The point of my sword is broke.
V'alentine. It happens so indeed! this night
St. George is beat, he dare not fight!
St. George. Beat by thee! thou poor silly rook!
Valentine. Fall in, Prince Actor.
[They fight; St. George falls on one knee.
King of Egypt. O mortal stars! and skies of heaven above!
What a thing it is for a man to lose his love!
To strike that val'rous champion from the helm
And cursed be he, that did him overwhehn.
O Sambo! Sambo! help me now in speed,
For never was I in a greater need
Sambo. O yea, my,master! I soon will thee obey,
With sword in hand I hope to gain the day.
Art thou the knave that singly standest there?
That slew my master's only son and heir?
Valentine. He challenged me to fight, and why should I deny!
He cut my coat so full of rents and made my buttons fly,
And if the rascal had had the honour to obtain,
Why, sir! he would have served you the same.
Sambo. I'll try if thou art born of noble race ;
I'll make thy blood come trickling down thy face;
And if thou dost another word against my master say,
Right through thy yellow body I'll make an open way.
[ They fight and Valentine falls.
King of Egypt. O guards! come, take this dismal corpse away,
For in my sight it shall no longer stay.
O Doctor ! Doctor ! is there a doctor to be found,
Can cure St. George of his deep and deadly wound?
Oh yes! master, yes, there is a doctor to be found,
Can cure St. George, thy son, of a deep and deadly wound. .
King of Egypt. From whence come ye?
Doctor. From France, from Spain, from Rome I came,
I've travelled all parts of Christendom
Sambo. Well spoken, Doctor i
King of Egypt. What can you cure?
Doctor. All sorts of diseases,
Whatever you pleases.
All pains within, all pains without,
The plague, the palsy, and the gout.
The itch, stitch, and molly-grubs.
I can cure all these deeds.
All big-bellied maids,
And such like jades.
Likewise, I will pledge my life,
I can cure a scolding wife;
Let them be curst or, ever so stout,
If the devil's in I'll blow him out.
King of Egypt. what is your fee?
Doctor. Twenty pounds down is my fee,
But half of that I'll take from thee,
If it is St. George'la life I save,
That sum this night from.you I crave.
King of Egypt. What medicine do you carry Doctor?
Doctor. I carry a little bottle in my pocket of rixumra, raxum, Prixum-Pmaxum, with I-cook-o'lory-a little of this to his nostrils.
Rise up St. George ! and fight again !
[the Doctor performs his cure, and St. George rises,
St. George. Oh horrible! terrible! the like was never seen,
A man drove out of seven senses into seventeen,
And out of seventeen into seven-score.
Oh horrible ! terrible! the like was ne'er before.
It was neither by a bull, nor yet by a bear,
But by a little devil of a rabbit there.
[The Doctor performs. the cure on Valentine, who rises.
Valentine. It is a kind of rough tough, coming up like a fly,
Up the seven stairs, and down the lofty sky.
My head is made of iron, my body made of steel,
My legs are made of pipe-shanks, I'll cause you all to yield.
[Valentine and Sambo fight, when the King of Egypt interposes.
King of Egpt. Oh! oh I we are all brothers,
Why should we be all through others ?
Put up your swords and fight no more,
No longer in this house adore.
Doctor. My box it is dumb and cannot speak,
Please give us something for Christmas sake.
For music see MNM p99