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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/175

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167
English Folk-Drama.

labourers. The man who is called 'Hopper Joe' has a basket slung before him, as if he was going to sow seeds, in which you put any money you like to give. The sergeant gets hold of any bit of old uniform he can meet with, and the young lady always has a veil, Beelzebub a blacked face, and either a besom of straw or a club with a bladder fastened to the end of it. The chief feature of the play is the raising to life of the old woman (who is knocked down by Beelzebub) by the doctor, who is always dressed in the smartest modern clothes, with a riding-whip and top hat if possible. This year the men had no cut-out figures on their shirts, only ribbons and rosettes and feathers stuck in their hats, and the brass ornaments of their horse's harness hanging down in front. But I have generally seen them with small horses, and ploughs in red and black, stuck on. They do not bring a plough with them here. Little boys with ribbons on come round begging in all the villages in the vale of Belvoir here, on Plough-Monday, but no women or girls ever seem to take part in it."

Mrs. Musters subsequently sent me the dress exhibited. In a letter which accompanied it she said : "The group of men are intended to represent the Plough-Monday boys. The idea of the man who made it is that all the live creatures connected with a farm ought to be represented." Mrs. Musters also sent me a copy of the verses sung on the occasion of the play. These have never before been recorded. I exhibit the MS. of the Ploughman who sang them on Plough-Monday last, and who wrote them down for Mrs. Musters.

I also exhibit the figure of a horse cut out to be worn I on the dress, which I received from Mrs. Musters before I received the dress. When I learnt from Mrs. Musters the interesting fact that although these players no longer bring a plough with them they figure it on the dress, I begged her to obtain a specimen of the dress for exhibition this evening, a request with which she at once complied. It was made by the man from whom she had obtained the figure of the horse. The dress seems to present us with an example of picture-writing and such