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BY the especial kindness of one who has a more abundant store of old Cornish stories than any man whom I have ever met, I am enabled to give some portion of one of the old Cornish plays, or guise-dances. Many parts are omitted, as they would, in our refined days, be considered coarse; but as preserving a true picture of a peculiar people, as they were a century and a half or two centuries since, I almost regret the omissions.

SCENE I.--The Squire's Kitchen--Duffy silting on the chimney-stool--Jane, the housekeeper, half drunk, holding fast by the table.

Jane. Oh, I am very bad, I must go to bed with the wind in my stomach. You can bake the pie. Duffy, and give the Squire his supper. Keep a good waking fire on the pie for an hour or more. Turn the glass again; when the sand is half down, take the fire from the kettle. Mind to have a good blazing fire in the hail, for the Squire will be as wet as a shag. The old fool, to stay out hunting with this flood of rain ! Now, I 'll take a cup of still waters, and crawl away to bed.

Duffy. Never fear, I 'll bake the pie as well as if you were under the kettle along with it; so go to bed, Jane.

[As soon as Jane tur'ns her back, Huey Lenine (Lanyon) comes in with,--

Huey. What cheer, Duffy, my dear ? how dost aw get on, then ?

Duffy. Never the better for thee, I bla, Huey. What do bring thee here this time of night ?

Huey . Why, thee art the worse, nan, I'm sure. Nor thee cussent say that the lanes are longer than the love neither, when I'm coming a-courting to thee with this rainy weather.

[Huey places himself on a chimney stool, at a good distance from Duffy]

D. Why doesn't aw come a little nearer then, Huey?
H. Near enuff, I bla.
D. Nearer the fire, I mean. Why doesn't aw speak to me then, Huey?
H. What shall I say nan?
D. Why, say doest thee love me, to be sure.
H. So I do.
D. That's a dear. Fine pretty waistcoat on to you, man, Huey.
H. Cost pretty penny too.
D. What did it cost, man.
H. Two-and-twenty pence, buttons and all.
D. Take good care of en, man.
H. So I will.
D. That's a dear.

[The squire is heard calling the dogs]

D. Dost aw hear? There's the squire close to the door. Where shall I put thee? Oh, I'm in such a fright. Wouldn't for the world that he found thee here this time of night. Get in the wood-corner, quick, out of sight, and I'll cover thee up with the furze.
H. No.
D. Then jump into the oven, A little more baking will make thee no worse.

[Duffy pushes Huey back into the oven with the fire-prong, till he gets out of sight, when the squire comes in calling, - ]

Squire. Jane, take the hares and rabbits; be sure to hang them out of the way of the dogs,
D. Give them to me, master; Jane is gone to bed. The wind from her stomach is got up in her head, at least so she said.
S. Why, who is here, then? I heard thee speaking to some one as I opened the door.
D. I was driving away a great owl, master, that fell out of the ivy-bush on the top of the chimney and came tumbling down through the smoke, perched hisself there on the end of the chimney-stack; there he kept blinking and peeping, like a thing neither waking nor sleeping, till he heard the dogs barking, when he stopped his winking, cried out, "Hoo ! hoo !" flapped his wings, and fled up the chimney the same way he came down.
D. Now, master, you had better go up in the hall; you will find there a good blazing fire.

[The squire examines his legs by the fire-light]

S. Well I declare, these are the very best stockings I ever had in my life. I've been hunting since the break of day, through the bogs and the brambles, the furze and the thorns, in all sorts of weather; and my legs - look, Duffy, look - are still as dry and sound as if they had been bound up in leather.
D. Then tae good care of them master; for I shall soon have a man of my own to knit for. Huey and I are thinking to get married before the next turfey season.
S. You think of having a man ! a young girl like you ! If I but catch the boy Huey Lenine here, I'll break his neck, I declare. I can never wear old Jane's stockings any more. Why, thee dust ought to be proud to know that the people from all over the parish, who were never to church before in their lives, come, and from parishes round, that they may see my fine stockings. And don't I stop outside the church door - ay, sometimes two hours or more - that the womem may see thy fine work? Haven't I stopped at the cross till the parson came out to call the people in, because he and the clerk, he said, wanted to begin ?

[The Squire places himself beside Duffy on the chimney-stool. The devil comes out of the wood-corner and ranges himself behind them. Whenever the Squire is backward, the devil tickles him behind the ear or under the ribs. His infernal highness is supposed to be invisible throughout. Huey shows a wry face now and then, with clenched fist through the oven door.]

The following portion, which is the Squire's courtship of Duffy with the help of the devil, is a sort of duet in the old play. I don't remember the whole, yet sufficient, I think, to give some idea of the way it is intended to be carried out -

S. No; I'll marry thee myself, rather than Huey Lenine
Shall ever wear stckings the equal of mine.
Thou shalt have the silk gowns, all broider'd in gold,
In the old oak chest; besides jewels and rings,
With such other fine things,
In the old oak chest, as thee didst never behold.
D. I'd rather work all the day by any young man's side,
Than sit in the bower, and be an old man's bride.
S. Thou shalt have silver and gold, and riches untold.
D. I'll buy my true-love his shirt, rather than your silver and gold,
With one like yourself, both feeble and old.
S. You must say I'm old; though I'm near sixty,
I'm stronger still than many a man of twenty.
Thou shalt ride to church behind me, upon a new pillion,
As grand as Madame Noy, or Madame Trezillian.
D. O Master ! hold your flattering tongue;
I'm very foolish, and very young.
But -

[Here the devil tickles the Squire sharply under the ribs, when the Squire attempts to hug and kiss Duffy, who takes the fire-prong and brandishes it in the Squire's face. The devil tickles them both.]

Stand off, keep your distance, and none of your hugging;
No man shall kiss me till he takes me to church;
I'll never cry at Michaelmass for Christmas laughing,
Like the poor maid left in the lurch.

Look the sand is all down, the pie is burn'd black,
And the crust is too hard for your colt's teeth to crack;
Up to the hall now, and take your supper.

[Here Duffy pushes the Squire off the stool. The Squire jumps up and begins to dance, singing the old dance tune, "Here's to the devil, with his wooden pick," & c. Duffy and the devil soon join in the dance, and cut all sorts of capers, till the Squire dances off to the hall, followed by the devil; when Huey crawls out of the oven, Duffy opens the kitchen, drives Huey out, saying -]

Now take thyself outside the door,
And never show thy face here anymore;
Don't think I'd have a poor pityack like thee,
When I may marry a squire of high degree.

[Then takes up the pie and dances away. During the old pitch-and-pass dance, they beat time with the fire-prong and hunting staff.]

Scene 2 - The first appearance of Lady Lovell (Duffy) after the wedding. She is seen walking up and down the hall dressed in all sorts of ill-assorted, old-fashioned finery, that might have been forgotten in the old oak chest for many generations of Lovells. The high-heeled shoes, train, fan, ruff, high téte, all sorts of rings on her fingers, and in her ears are de rigeur. Then she sings something like the following -

Now I have servants to come at my call,
As I walk in grand state in the hall,
Deck'd in silks and satins fine;
But I grieve all the day, and fret the long night away,
To think of my true love, young Huey Lenine.

Many a weary long hour  I sit all alone in my bower,
Where I do nothing but pine,
Whilst I grieve all the day, and fret the night away,
To think of my true love, young Huey Lenine.

Would the devil but come at my call and take the old Squire, silks, satins, and all,
With jewels and rings so fine;
Then merry and gay I'd work all the day, and fret the night away,
To think of my true love, young Huey Lenine.

Another Cornish "Droll" is preserved in part, as an example of the kind of doggerel verse in which many of those stories were told. Bet of the Mill tells the Squire and company that one Christ­mas night all the inmates of Trevider House were gone off to a guise-dance, except Madame Pender and herself, and that they agreed to spin for pastime :­ -

" One Christmas night, from Trevider Hall
They were off in a guise-dance, big and small ;
Nobody home but Madam Pender and I

So to pass away time we agreed to try
Which would spin the finest yarn,
The length of the hall,

While the holly and bays
Deck'd window and wall.


" We took the rushes up from the floor,
From up by the chimney down to the door
When we lead the wool carded, ready to spin,
It came into our heads, before we'd begin
We'd have a jug of hot spiced beer,
To put life in our heels, our hearts to cheer.
So we drank to the healths of one and all,
While the holly and bays
Looked bright on the wall.


"The night was dark, the wind roar'd without,
And whirl'd the cold snow about and about.
But the best part of the night,
By the bright fire-light,
We danced back and forth as light as a feather,
Spinning and keeping good time together.
To the music of the 'turn' [spinning wheel]
And we never felt weary that night at all,
While the holly and bays
Hung so gay on the wall.


We pull'd out the yarn as even and fine,
As a spinner can spin the best of twine;
All the length of the hall,
From window to wall.
From up by the chimney
Down to the door.
Full a dozen good paces and more;
And never felt weary at all.
While the holly and bays
Were so green on the wall.


At the turn of the night,
Old Nick, out of spite,
To see the log burn,
And to hear the gay 'turn',
Made my yarn to crack;
And I fell on my back,
Down the steps of the door.
I thought I was dead, or, twice as bad,
Should never be good any more.
If I had broken my bones on the cursed hard stones,
'Twas no wonder.
But worst of all, with the force of the fall,
My twadling-string broke asunder.


"Old Madam was seized with frights and fears -
She thought the house was falling about her ears;
And, to save herself, she tore up-stairs,
Where they found her next morning under the bed,
With the brandy-bottle close to her head."


Bet is found in a similar plight, and all is attributed to spinning; however the Squire orders that Madame Pender shall spin no more -


"And dance, one and all.
With the holly and bays so bright on the wall."

Next: The Game of Hurling