Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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xvii
her " gossepes everich one," and swears by " Saint John" and " Christ;" when she is at last forced in by her sons, she salutes Noah, on his welcoming her, with a hearty box on the ear. In the Cornish mystery of the Creation of the World, by Jordan, published by Mr. Davies Gilbert, the lady is rather more courteous, as she says on being hastened—
Tis fit to save what is, I must not cast it away, They cost store of money The things yl we here,
Dear Noah, you know.
It is however not unlikely that some comic pas­sages were purposely inserted, in order to relieve the tediousness of the performances, which some­times lasted for days. Dr. Dibdin mentions one called " La Vegeance et destruction de Hierusalem" acted in 1437, which occupied four days in the per­formance, and required one hundred and seventy-eight actors.*
The pilgrims and crusaders, on their return from the Holy Land, brought with them new subjects for theatrical representation, founded on the objects of their devotions and of their labours; and many allusions to these will be found in the early myste­ries ; as the introduction of Mahound for instance. The Christmas-play of St. George and the Dragon, still preserved in the western and northern parts of the kingdom, with the King of Egypt, and fair Sabra his daughter, now generally enacted by a " great lubberly boy," may also derive its origin from this period.
Certain religious fraternities and schools at dif­ferent times claimed an exclusive privilege of per­forming these plays or nrysteries; the parish clerks
* Library Companion, p. 777. u.

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