Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/171

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
English Folk-Drama.

myself, together with a specimen of the dress worn — take actors of this version, which I exhibit, along with wooden swords used by them ; the other communicated to me by Mr. S. Peppier of Hamble Cliff, near Southampton, together with photographs of the actors in this version, also exhibited.

I have also a version from Northamptonshire, kindly communicated to me by Miss Burne ; and two versions communicated through Mrs. Gomme, one from Marlborough, sent by Mr. H. S. May, and another from Romsey, sent by Miss E. L. Merck.

[Extracts were read to the meeting ; and the differences between the versions were pointed out. The mummer's dress was made in a scaly pattern throughout; and it was suggested that this device was intended to represent the dragon which no longer accompanies the mummers, a parallel to the dress of the Plough-Monday players.]

I have not succeeded in getting a printed version of the mumming-play in chap-book form like the two Pace-Egg plays exhibited. The nearest approach to it is the curious little book called The New Christmas Rhyme Book, from Belfast, sent to Mrs. Gomme by Mr. W. H. Patterson. But I believe the mumming-play has been printed and sold as a chap-book ; and this leads me to propound a question, to which, perhaps, some of our friends present would give an answer different from that which I should give. Does the fact of writing down or of printing destroy tradition ? At the present time the mumming-play is performed in three ways — (a) by those who learn it from printed book ; (b) by those who learn it from MS. ; (c) by those who learn it by oral tradition. This seems to me to furnish an admirable test-case to the believers and unbelievers in literary origins.

The next branch of folk-drama on which I have to offer a few notes is the Plough-Monday play ; and here I may proceed more summarily, as I do not conceive how the champions of literary origin can bring their battery to bear