Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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ex
lent dialect. Such compositions as existed in it appear to have been neglected, or at least very few now exist, the best examples of which the literary world has been favoured with by Mr. Gilbert. The plays in the Cornish language were probably suc­ceeded by imperfect and garbled translations, or imitations.
The legend of St. George became also mixed up with much extraneous matter, though kept distinct from the Scripture plays. Borlase says, that in his time the lower people " carryed on miserable dia­logues on Scripture-subjects; when their memory could go no further, they filled up the rest of the entertainment with more puerile representations, the combats of puppets, the final victory of the hero of the drama, and death of his antagonist."
These plays at present are performed only by persons of the lower order, chiefly young persons, who, in the West of Cornwall, go about the towns, stopping at the inns, and gentlemen's houses, where-ever they are likely to collect money, reciting, in doggrel rhymes, the history of St. George. The plot and the diction are certainly of a humble de­scription ; but I have nevertheless, though with some hesitation, inserted a specimen after the Carols. Scarcely any two sets of actors perform them alike, though the characters and plot, if it may be called one, are similar.
So little 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. Occasionally there is a sort of anti-masque, or burlesque (if it will admit of such) at the end of the performance, when some comic characters enter, called, Hub Bub, Old 'Squire, &c. and the piece concludes with a dance.

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