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apple-trees in Devonshire, copied
from an engraving in the Illustrated London
News for 185 1. On the present occasion
we are enabled to reproduce a series of pic-




tures from photographs, taken about fifteen
years ago, of a group, or set of Yorkshire
"sword-actors" in the neighbourhood of
Leeds.

Nothing could be more striking to a
person coming from the south of England
to Yorkshire at Christmas-time, as the writer
did some twenty years ago, than the vigour
and spirit with which many old out-door
customs, long obsolete and disused in the
South, still held sway as popular observances
in the West Riding. Year by year they are
disappearing. Already chromo-lithographed
almanacks have entirely ousted the green
tallow candles which the grocers and village
shopkeepers presented to their customers,
and which were religiously burnt on Christ-
mas-eve in the cottage-window. "Good
King Wenceslas,*' or "See Amid the Winter
Snow," have supplanted the " Seven Joys of
Mary," or "God rest you, Merry Gentle-
men," as the carols most generally heard
it would be a libel on music to say
"sung" at that season. Other traditional
customs, such as mumming, and the hobby-
horse, are practically things of the past.
Indeed, the rapidity of the abandoning of
these and other traditional customs has been,
in itself, quite a remarkable feature of their
disappearance. Why it should be that old
customs, regularly observed and highly
popular, should so suddenly have passed
away, it is difficult to tell ; but that they
have passed away, or almost so, is a fact,
explain it how we can, and regret it as we
may.

There seems every reason, therefore, for
placing on record, not merely in words, but
by pictorial representation where it is pos-
sible, one such custom, now practically obso-
lete, that of the "sword-actors."

It is not intended in the few remarks
which are here made to enter into any
general discussion as to the custom, beyond
saying what is necessary by way of simple
explanation, as to do so would extend this
paper to a greater length than is desir-
able.

It may be well to point out that in the
West Riding, or at any rate in the neigh-
bourhood of Leeds, the " sword-actors " were
quite distinct from the " mummers." The
latter were, at the time of which we speak,



YORKSHIRE SWORD-ACTORS.



'39



seldom met with, and their performance
seemed to be a very senseless affair. It
consisted of one or more men, generally two
in number, who were dressed in a fantastic
costume, and carried a dustpan and brush,
dancing about whilst they sang a sort of
humming, buzzing tune a lied ohne worter
and at the same time banged the brush
against the dustpan, after which, without
more ado, came the request for money.



plays were printed as chapbooks, and were
sold in the smaller shops at a halfpenny
each : but in most cases there were local
variations traditionally made from the printed
copies. There is little of importance, how-
ever, either in the printed plays or in the
local variations made in them. The literary
value of either is very small, and they may
be passed over without further comment.
Of the two plays most in vogue, that of the




GROUP OF THE SWORD-ACTORS.



The sword-actors, on the other hand, gener-
ally numbered nine or ten lads, who, dis-
guised by false beards as men, were dressed
in costume as appropriate to the occasion as
their knowledge and finances would permit,
and who acted, with more or less skill, a
short play, which, as a rule, was either the
" Peace Egg," or else the "Seven Champions
of Christendom."

For their use certain editions of these



"Peace Egg " (which, of course, is a corrup-
tion of Pasch egg, an indication that it was
originally intended for use at the present
season of the year Easter) dealt with the
achievements of St. George of England,
whose festival (April 23), it may be noted,
almost always falls within the Easter season.
The other play, that of the "Seven Cham-
pions," was the one most generally adopted
by the sword-actors, and it is the one which



* "St. George " is shown as engaged in combat with "St. Peter '
are each kneeling on one knee, a sign of their having been vanquished.



St. Andrew "and "St. Dcnys "



140



YORKSHIRE SWORD-ACTORS.




" THE KING OF EGYrT," AND HIS DAUGHTER (A LAD).




" ST. GEORGE," AND THE JESTER.



YORKSHIRE SWORD-ACTORS.



141




ST. ANDREW.



ST. PATRICK.




"ST. PETfcK."



'ST. DENYS."



I 4 2



YORKSHIRE SWORD- ACTORS.



was being played at the time the photo-
graphs were taken.

There was a little indefiniteness as to the
characters represented in the play, but
usually they were the King of Egypt, his
daughter, a fool or jester, St. George, St.
Andrew, St. Patrick, St. David, St. Denys,
St. James, and a St. Thewlis, who repre-
sented a Northern nation Russia, or some-
times Denmark and whose exact identity
seems obscure. The seven champions occa-
sionally included St. Peter of Rome, as in
the group whose photograph is given. St.
George engaged in mortal combat with each
champion in succession, fighting for the
hand of the King of Egypt's daughter.
When at length each of the six was slain,
St. George, having vanquished them all,
won the fair lady, amid the applause of the
bystanders.* Even the Prince of the
Apostles, when represented in the piece,
was made to yield to the superior prowess
of the champion of England, wherein may
be read an allegory of the events of the six-
teenth century. Then, at the conclusion,
after a general clashing and crossing of
swords, the fool or jester stepped forward,
and wound up the performance with an
appeal for pecuniary recognition, couched in
the following words :

Here come I, little Devil Doubt,

If you don't give me money
I'll turn you all out.
Money I want, and money I crave ;

If you don't give me money
I'll sweep you all to the grave.

With this not very courteous request the
curtain was presumed to have fallen, and the
hat went round.

In the case of the "Peace Egg," it was
St. George also who played the greater part
of the piece, and encountered and van-
quished the representatives of the false
religion.

There can be no doubt that these plays,

* Occasionally, as in the group whose photograph
is given, one or more of the champions would take a
double part, and after having been slain by St. George
in one character, would revive on the sly, and come
forward for a second encounter as somebody else.
This, of course, was an abuse, and was adopted in
order to diminish the whole number of performers,
and so secure a larger share of spoil to each, when the
takings were divided among the company.



as they have come down to their present day
of rapid extinction, are the lineal descendants
of the miracle-plays of the Middle Ages, and
contain in their cast a mingled confusion of
references to the Crusades, and other occur-
rences of even higher antiquity. This it is
which invests them with an interest that
their doggrel lines, and the crude conception
of the performances themselves, wholly fail
to confer.




jTurtber Jftotes on e^anr
JTolftfore.

By A. W. Moore, m.a.

Author of Surnames and Place-Names of the Isle of Man ;
Diocesan History o/Sodor and Man; Folklore of the Isle
o/ Man, etc.

Chapter III. Fairies and Familiar
Spirits.

E will first give some extracts from
the remarks of writers concerning
the fairy beliefs of Manxmen which
have hitherto been overlooked. Sir
Walter Scott said that the "Isle of Man,
beyond all other places in Britain, was a
peculiar depository of the fairy traditions,
which, on the island being conquered by the
Norse, became in all probability chequered
with those of Scandinavia, from a source
peculiar and more direct than that by which
they reached Scotland and Ireland."*

Our next authority is Robertson, writing in
1 79 1 : "The existence of these imaginary
beings is still most devoutly believed in this
island, particularly by the inhabitants of the
mountains, and as they have invested them
with unlimited influence over the fishery, they
frequently supplicate their favour, or depre-
cate their wrath, by various offerings. When
I formerly resided in the island, I one day
took a ramble up among the mountains, and,
being benighted, sought shelter in a lonely
cottage. The sole tenant of this clay-built
hut was an aged peasant of a pensive and
melancholy aspect. He received me with
much hospitality, trimmed his little fire of
turf and gorse ; and, ' skilled in visionary

* Letters on Demonology ami Witchcraft, pp. 109-
110.



FURTHER NOTES ON MANX FOLKLORE.



M3



lore, beguiled the lingering hours.' From
him I learned that, notwithstanding all the
holy sprinklings of the priests in former days,
the fairies still haunted many places in the
island, that there were playful and benignant
spirits, and those who were sullen and vin-
dictive. The former of these he had fre-
quently seen on a fine summer evening,
sifting on the margin of the brooks and
waterfalls, half-concealed among the bushes,
or dancing on the tops of the neighbouring
mountains. He described them as gay,
beautiful, and by no means so diminutive as
the English fairies, adding that they were
chiefly like women, but certainly more shy
than any he was acquainted with, for they
never permitted him more than a transient
glance of their charms, and on venturing to
approach them they immediately vanished.
These sportive beings, my host observed,
rejoiced in the happiness of mortals ; but the
sullen fairies delighted in procuring human
misery. These lived apart from the others,
and were neither beautiful in their persons,
nor gorgeous in their array. They were
generally enveloped in clouds, or in the
mountain fogs, and haunted the hideous pre-
cipices and caverns on the seashore. My
host added that to them Manxmen imputed
all their sufferings, for he himself had often
heard them, on a dark stormy night, yell, as
in barbarous triumph, when the tempest was
desolating the country, or dashing vessels to
pieces on the neighbouring rocks."*

In 1816 we have the following evidence
on the same subject : " The witches and
fairies of Man are neither supposed to com-
bine, nor to produce exactly the same effects
by their power, the former being wholly em-
ployed in acts of aggression, whilst the latter
have mixed jurisdiction, and can produce
both good and evil by their operations.
They are accustomed to perform certain
frolics, which show some degree of humour
and whim in their propensities ; they are also
easily assailable by bribes : thus, the dairy-
maid, who would spare herself unusual exer-
tion, regularly makes the offering of a small
pat of butter or a piece of cheese curd, which
is affixed to the wall of the dairy, and is
believed to propitiate these invisible agents.
The livers of fowls and fish are uniformly
* Robertson's Isle of Man. pp. 758.



sacrificed to the fairies. At midsummer eve,
when their power is of unlimited extent,
flowers and herbs are the only barriers to
their incursions, and these were regularly
spread on the door and window sill to pro-
tect the inhabitants."*

Some years later (in 1839) an insular
poetess described the tricks which fairies
played as follows :

The skin off your knees should you rub,

By falling down cellars or areas,
Or break your shins over a tub,

It's placed in your way by the fairies.
If showers of gravel are thrown,

Or you miss milk and cream from your dairies ;
Or find your horse all over foam,

It's sure to be laid to the fairies.t

Some twenty years ago, Edwin Waugh
gave the following graphic account of some
talk about the fairies by an old Manx fisher-
man : " The fishermen draw around an
ancient mariner who is telling a tale of an
adventure he had with the fairies, as he came
over the mountain from Fleswick Bay one
night. . . . Snatches of the old man's fairy
tales come upon the wind. ... I hear
broken bits of this story : ' I was not thinking
about nawthin', when I think I hear some-
thin', an I look, an' there was a little fellow
close to my leg. He was dressed in green
an' red, with silver buckles on his shooce.
He was about the sice of eight yearce. I
made a grab to get howlt of him so an'
then O get a handful of wind. I cannot
see nawthin'. He is gone ... I was wan
day makin' a hedge. It wass up in Bradda.
There wass nobody but myself. It wass
wonderful ! Up in the air, I hear them
shouhtin' and laughin', I know in a minute it
is the fairies 1 I hear them before in the
same place. They wass hunting. I hear the
cap'en of the fairies. He give a shout, an'
all wass silence. Then the noice began
a-gain, like people in a fair. I hear them so
well, as I do see my hant. They wass hunt-
ing. They have horses an' dawgs. I hear
them very well. The whips wass cracking,
an' horns wass blowing, an* I hear the little
dawgs going wif! wif! wif! It was wonder-
ful ! Then the cap'en give a shout again, an'
all wass silence. Then there was music. It

* Bullock's History of the fsle of .Unit, p. 370.
+ Esther Nelson, " Mona Miscellany," Manx Soc. t
vol. xvi., pp. 174-5-



144



FURTHER NOTES ON MANX FOLKLORE.



wass so fine that I cannot hear it. But I
feel there was music playing up in the air . . .
I know it is the fairies ; an', I say, I think it
is time to l>e goin' home. So I come away.
. . . Another time when I was comin' down
from Craig-y-Neash, it come on dark, all at
once, so dark as pitch. I look at my side.
There was a little fellow. He was just here
(laying his hand upon his hip). He wass
about so big as my leg. I know it wass a
fairy. It wass not a body at all. He come
to stale my boots.' And so on."*

The following epitome of the fairy beliefs
of the present day has been taken down from
the lips of an old Manxman from Dalby, by
Miss Graves : " Iss it fairies ye're talkin'
about? Aw yiss, I've hard plenty of them
in my time tho' I'm not so sure that I hev'
aver seen any. They're middlin' shy cray-
thurs, I'm thinkin', more pertickler in these
days. There's one's livin' yet tho', that's
tellin' me they seen their red coats many a
time goin' over the Dalby mountains ; but
naver to my knowledge hev' I clapped eyes
on them. As for hearin' them, that's common
enough. These English ones may laugh, but
it's theer ignorance, thinkin' there's nawthin'
in the worl' but what they seen ! Tell ye a
story of them. Well, I'm not much for that,
and there's hardly a story in it, as ye may say.
It's only the thruth I've got, and no larnin' to
roun' it off like. I'm a Dalby man, bred and
born, and many's the time when I was a
sthuggaf hev' I hard them tinkerin' away, on
a summer's night in the caves round (specially
Glen Meay), preparin' for a big take of herrin'.
For as sure as ye hard the lill J folk at work at
night, there would be a gran' take of herrin'
in the mornin'. It wass quare how they knew,
but they did, sure enough, and they would
always be hard at work, makin' their lill
barrels ready, though what they were doin'
with them when they war made iss pas' my
makin' out.

" It's always allowed that Hollantide Eve
wass a great toime with them, tho' naver but
once did I hear them on that night. It wass
one Hollantide, a parcel of boys and girls of
us wass hevin' a spree over at Kalladda (a

* Edwin Waugh, Miscellaneous Travel Sketches :
Saint Catherine's Chapel, pp. 2225 (originally pub-
lished in 1882).

f Lad. X Little.



shockin' house for the fairies that house wass.
Is'n it goin' by the name of 'Thie Ferrishin '
to this day ? being Fairy House ' in the
English, and no man naver hard a cock crow
on the farm). Terrible enough fun we hed
that night, for sure all sorts of ould-fashioned
games, and the laughin' we hed wass enough
to make the house come down. Well, we
got tired at las' tho', and some of them wint
their ways home, and the res' upstairs to bed.
It wass somewheer about twelve o'clock may
be, when I wass awoke with hearin' screeches
of laughin' downstairs. At first I thought
the company hed'n' gone, but when I got
awoke right, I remembered seein' them out
of the door myself. Then I knew it wass
themselves that was in, and sure enough they
war makin' a right night of it. Every mortal
game we hed, they war hevin' too. Well,
well, it was quare to hear them. Duckin' for
apples lek mad, and the water goin' splashin'
roun' like anything. Then the nuts they war
crackin' over the fire. Man alive ! it's then
there would be laughin'. Aw, it bet all !
And when they were eatin' the salt herrin'
and walkin' backward to bed, the way their
heads would be goin' knockin' agin the peti-
tion.* Well, it wass quare, and jus' like the
very way ours done. They war jus' the very
moral of us, copyin' us, I tell ye, in every
pertickler. It wass one of the quarest strikes
that aver I come across in all my born days.
" Quate harmless craythurs they are mos'ly,
only they don't like to be meddled with, but
as long as ye lave them alone they'll not
moles' ye, tho' places they hev tuk a fancy
to, it's bather to keep clear of. I'm mindin'
the time Jemmy Juan Harry wass took bad
enough for meddlin' with them. This wass
how he come to do it. Clugaish, Balla Var-
kish,t tuk it into his head to root up a three
that wass at the corner of one of his fields,
near the road. It wass always allowed to be
a fairies three a thorn (they're middlin' fond
of them threes, I'm thinkin'). A big three it
wass too, and they dug, and they dug, but
they cud'n get the roots up at all, and so
they lef it that night. Lo ! and behould ye,
nex' day it wass planted again, jus' as if it
hed'n' been touched ! If they'd a been wise

* Partition.

+ I.e., Clucas of Balla Yarkish Balla Yarkish being
the name of his farm.



FURTHER NOTES ON MANX FOLKLORE.



M5



they'd a lef it afther this. But no, ar* it
again in the mornin', Clugaish wass. Naver-
theless that night they hed got no furder tillf
the night afore. The nex' day, sure enough,
it wass planted again tight as aver ! The
third day they went ar it with a will detar-
mined to ger it up that night. When the
evenin' wass comin' on, and they were still
diggin' they seen Jemmy Juan Harry comin*
along the road with a couple of horses ar him
harnessed in a cart. They put a sign upon
Jemmy, and up he comes to spake to them,
and when he hard what they wanted he wass
willin' enough to give them a helpin' han',
for Jemmy was always a sert of agennalj lad.
He brung his horses and made them fast to
the thorn three, and at las' it wass dragged
up by the roots, and no mistake. . . . But
that night poor Jemmy was tuk bad with a
pain in his leg, and he was'n ur of his bed
for six months afther. Aw yis, he knew well
enough what was doin' on him, and that no
docther's stuff would be any gud ! It was a
charm from Nan-a-Killey he got at last.
Yis, and many's the time he's tould me that
naver again would he meddle with the likes
of them.

" It wass used to be common enough in
my young days for the 1111 folks to change
childher in theer cradles. Mischeevous they
are, I allow, and fond oncommon of gettin'
a body's chil'. Terrible cross the fairy
changeling would always be too, cryin' still.
There wass Misthress Maddrell, well do I
call to mind when her baby was changed.
Was'n I sheerin' in the fiel' with her? She
hed no wheer else to lave it, the bough, and
she pur it in a haystack, thinkin' it wass safe
enough when she wass in the fiel'. Well,
that night it begin to cry and cry, and that's
the way it carried on for days and weeks.
There wass no livin' with it. She begun to
think then there wass something wrong, and
when it took to pinin' and gettin' 1111 and
poor (a big claver chil' as aver ye seen, her
own wass), she knew then what wass in, and
so she sent for a man they war callin' Jacky,
Balla Yells || to. A praycher he wass too, and
terrible gud at things of the sert. He cum
in to Misthress Maddrell one night, and he
tould her to lave him alone with the chil',



* At. t Than.

The poor thing.
VOL. XXXI.



% Genial.
|| A farm name.



and on no account wass she to come into the
room, no matther what nises she would hear.
He naver let on what he did, but terrible
enough work he hed before the mortal chil'
was tuk back. Themselves thried to freken
him away by all the manes in their power.
He wass tellin' aftherwards that he cud feel
heavy blows all over his body, tho' he cud'n
see nawthin', and there wass crackin' of whips
goin' on, and him smartin' with the blows he
wass gettin'. He wass maybe a couple of
hours like this, and the chil' cryin' all the
time like mad. But Jacky Balla Yells was'n
the man to be bet by the likes of them, and
so at las' they give in. There wass one
terrible screech, and that wass the las' of it,
for there wass the right chil' laying in the
cradle lookin' as well as aver and smilin' in
his face. It's a thrue story, every word of it,
for hev'n I hard Misthress Maddrell tellin' it
many a time, a woman that wud'n tell a lie ?
Jacky wass middlin' shy himself of goin' over
it, for ye see he wint thro' such a sight of
things that night that he naver cud be got to
thry his han' again at nawthin' of the kind.
And finally, we add the testimony of Mr.
William Cashen, on the same subject : " The
Manx people believed that the fairies were
the fallen angels, and that they were driven
out of heaven with Satan.* They called
them Cloan ny moyrn, the Children of the
pride or ambition. They also believed that
when they were driven out of heaven they
fell in equal proportions on the earth, and
the sea, and the air, and that they are to
remain there until the Judgment. They also
say that they fell as thick as a shower of
hail, and that they continued to fall for the
space of three days and three nights. The
prayer they used when walking in the night
time was : ' Saue Jee mee voish Cloan ny
moyrn.' (' God save me from the Children
of the pride.') They believed that the fairies
had no power to hurt anyone who was on an
errand of mercy or of charity. It is related
that one of the early Manx Wesleyan
preachers, having occasion to cross the
mountain one moonlight night, was met by
a fairy who asked who should be saved.
When the preacher answered and said that
none would be saved, but such as had flesh

* This belief is prevalent in Ireland. See Ancient
I.egetuis of Ireland, by Lady Wilde, pp. 37, 38.

U



146



THE MYSTIC WINEPRESS.



and blood, when he went away wailing and
saying : Cha vcl ayrn erbee ayms ayns
Chreest.' (* I have no share in Christ.')
There are many fishermen here to this day
that declare that they have seen the fairy
herring fleet lying before their nets, with
their lights upon the water, and the buoys
or floats of their nets, and fully expected
that when the day broke they would see
numbers of boats around them, but when the
day appeared there were none there to their
very great surprise. There was sure to be a
shoal of herrings where the fairy fleet was
seen, and the boats that shot their nets there
were certain to have a good fishing. The
Manx fishermen believed that the fairies,
besides fishing on their own account, made
barrels, and cured the herrings they caught.
A cave on the sea-coast under Cronk yn Irree
Lhaa is called Ooig ny Seyir, " Cave of the
Carpenter," where the fishermen have heard
them, times without number, making barrels.
They were always sure to have a good fishing
in the "Big Bay" when they heard the fairies
making barrels. That season always turned
out well.

(To be continued.)



Cbe [email protected] Winepress.




By Sophia Beale.



HE allegory of the winepress was a
favourite subject with the artists of
the Middle Ages, more especially
in France, and a very notable
example in stained glass may still be seen
in Paris, at the church of St. Etienne-du-
Mont. This was briefly described by me
in my book on the Churches of Taris, but
since its publication I have discovered more
data relating to this curious window, as well
as other examples of the subject elsewhere.
The earliest instance of this strange materializa-
tion of a purely poetic idea is, I believe, to
be found in Rome, in the circular church
of St. Constantia, built by Constantine about
ad. 320. In one compartment of the



mosaics decorating this building we see the
whole history of the culture of the vine in
every stage, from the ploughing of the ground
with oxen to the treading out of the grapes.
In the centre of the dome is the head of
St. Constantia, encircled by a branch of the
vine, which trails over the whole vault, while



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