BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
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156
THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
cessful battle of the Grampians, by the Scots, under that leader, against the invader Agricola. If Mr. Reddock be right in this opinion, Agricola is, for the nonce, elevated to the title of King of Macedon. The party who carries the bag for these mummers is a very questionable trustee,—being no other than Judas Iscariot. Sir Walter Scott, in his notes to Marmion, speaks of the same play, as one in which he and his companions were in the habit of taking parts, when boys; and mentions the characters of the old Scripture-piays having got mixed up with it, in the version familiar to him. He enumerates St. Peter, who carried the keys,—St. Paul, who was armed with a sword, and Judas, who had the bag, for contributions; and says that he believes there was also a St. George. It is not unlikely there might, though he is not men­tioned by Mr. Reddock,—for the confusion of characters, in all these versions, is very great. In the Whitehaven edition, St. George is son to the King of Egypt, and the hero who carries all before him is Alexander. He conquers St. George and kills the King of Egypt. In fact, the legend, as it exists in the old ro­mance of " Sir Bevys of Hampton," has everywhere been mixed up with extraneous matter; and scarcely any two sets of per­formers render it alike. The plot seems, in all, to be pretty nearly the same ; and the doctor, with his marvellous cures and empirical gibberish, seems to be common to them all. "But so little," says Sandys, " do the actors know the history of their own drama, that sometimes General Wolfe is introduced, who first fights St. George, and then sings a song about his own death. I have also seen the Duke of Wellington represented." Mr. Reddock mentions that, during the war with France, one of the characters in his version " was made to say that he had been ' fighting the French,' and that the loon who took leg-bail was no less a personage than " the great Napoleon. Mr. Sandys mentions that, occasionally, there is a sort of anti-masque, or burlesque (if burlesque itself can be burlesqued) at the end of the performance ; when some comic characters enter, called Hub Bub, Old Squire, &c.—and the piece concludes with a dance.—At other times, the performances are wound up by a song.
We may mention that we have in our possession an Irish ver­sion of the same play, as it is still played by the boys in that
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