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Come listen awhile unto my song,
March along, bold Wellington,
March right down to the cabin door,
For that's the place where we adore
Ri-fol-lay, ri-fol-lay,
Ri-fol-lay, ri-fol-de-rol-de-ray.

O the next that comes in, Soldier bold,
In his hand he carries a sword,
A shining star on his right breast,
And a bonny bunch of roses around his wrist.
Ri-fol-lay, etc.

O the next that comes in, Sailor bold,
He has sailed the ocean round,
England, Ireland, France and Spain,
And now returns to old England again.
Ri-fol-lay, etc.

O the next that comes in's General Hill
He can neither fight nor kill,
He took a slash from whence he came
And all the people cried a shame.
Ri-fol-lay, etc.

O the next that comes in's Never Fear,
He wants a peace-egg once a year,
He wants a peace-egg for to go,
To treat young lasses you may know.
Ri-fol-lay, etc.

O the next that comes in our old lass,
Sits in the alehouse jug and glass;
Sits in the alehouse from morn till night,
And in her glass she takes delight.
Ri-fol-lay, etc.

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Source: Lucy Broadwood and J A Fuller Maitland. 1893, English County Songs, Leadenhall Press, London

Lucy Broadwood wrote:

Words and tune from Miss Margaret Royds, Heysham.

The Peace-Egg is obviously a version of a mumming play, differing chiefly in the fact it is performed at Easter instead of Christmas. The name is a corruption of Pasche-Egg, or Easter Egg. At Heysham it is performed by five of six children, or, on some occasions, by a company of men, numbering at least a dozen. It is still kept up in Holy Week, except on Good Friday; and not long ago even that day was no exception. Now-a-days the costume is simply a night shirt worn over the clothes, ornamented with tags of coloured ribbon and paper, sewn in all directions. The performers wear masks, and one of them is always an old woman (see the last verse.) She is generally arm-in-arm with a shabby old man, who has his back stuffed out with straw. The "Singer-in" (compare "Open the Door" in the Morris play given in Shropshire Folk Lore, p 484 ff) starts first, and walks round by himself in a circle, singing the first verse. With each succeeding verse another joins him, until at last they are all singing and walking round, the old man and woman last. They stand still to sing the extra verse:

Come ladies and gentleman that sits by the fire
Put your hands in your pockets and give us our desire;
Put your hands in your pockets and pull out your purse
And give us a trifle, you'll not be much worse.

- and then run off with money and eggs to the next house. As in all performances of the kind, there is a tradition in the memory of old inhabitants of much more elaborate ceremonies being gone through. The correct dress of this one is said to have been white stockings with sandal shoes, white breeches (with the exception of the old woman, let us hope), and white smock-frocks. The old man had, beside his straw hump, straw wrapped round his legs, and a long straw tail. The players used to fight with swords; at at one period (nearly seventy years ago), a doctor was introduced with a magic bottle, for restoring the slain. He had to touch the fallen man and say:-

I've a bottle of Alicampane,
Jump up, Saint George, and fight again

This incident (which appears in many existing versions of the play) was an innovation, borrowed from another set of actors who used to come on Easter Monday from another village twelve miles away.

For more information concerning the custom of "Peace-Egging", see Folk Lore Record, vol ii, part I, p 87; and Bohn's Brand, vol i, p 176

Roud: 614 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

Related Songs:  Lancashire Peace Egging Song (1) [Peace Egging] (thematic)

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