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On The Ancient English Morris Dance
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Dance Texts: On The Ancient English Morris Dance

-- I started typing the following from the New York Public Library's copy of Illustrations of Shakspeare and of Ancient Manners: with Dissertations on the Clowns and Fools of Shakspeare; on the Collection of Popular Tales Entitled Gesta Romanorum; and on the English Morris Dance by Francis Douce (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme), 1807. However, I finished it at the British Library from the 1839 edition (London: Thomas Tegg). The text is the same, as far as I can tell, but the pagination is different. Please let me know if I have violated any copyrights; I have hand copied this as it is in non-circulating collections and a bit long (and old) and therefore expensive to make photocopies.

-- Double spaces between sentences have been reduced to single spaces (a concession to Dreamweaver), words that were hyphenated for margin justification have been rejoined, and a ' ------ 'separates pages.

-- Douce also mentions Arbeau's Orchesography several times in the main test of Illustrations of Shakespeare and of Ancient Manners, and there are other dance references worth investigating.

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A DISSERTATION ON THE ANCIENT ENGLISH MORRIS DANCE.

It is the observation of an elegant writer, that disquisitions concerning the manners and conduct of our species in early times, or indeed at any time, are always curious at least and amusing. An investigation of the subject before us, if completely and successfully performed, would serve to fill up a chasm in the history of our popular antiquities : but this must not be expected. The culpable indifference of historical writers to private manners, and more especially to the recreations and amusements of the common people, has occasioned the difficulties that always attend enquiries of this nature, many of which are involved in impenetrable darkness ; whilst others

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432       ON THE ANCIENT ENGLISH

can only receive illustration from detached and scattered facts accompanied by judicious inferences and opinions.

  It will be necessary in the first place, to attempt some definition of what the morris dance originally was : this may be best accomplished by the aid of etymology, which will generally be found a faithful guide when managed with discretion. It seems, however, on the present occasion to have been too slightly treated in a work of considerable labour and ingenuity, the author of which has expressed an opinion that the Morris dance originated from that part of the ancient ceremony of the feast of fools, in which certain persons habited like buffoons, with bells, &c., joined in a dance. He then proceeds as follows, " The word Morris applied to the dance is usually derived from Morisco, which in the Spanish language signifies a Moor, as if the dance had been taken from the Moors ; but I cannot help considering this as a mistake, for it appears to me that the Morisco or Moor dance is exceedingly different from the morris-dance formerly practised in this country ; it being performed with the castanets or rattles, at the ends of the fingers, and not with bells attached to various

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MORRIS DANCE.       433

parts of the dressa. I shall not pretend to investigate the derivation of the word Morris ; though probably it might be found at home : it seems, however, to have been applied to the dance in modern times, and, I trust, long after the festival to which it originally belonged was done away and had nearly sunk into oblivionb."

  Now if the term in question had been exclusively used in England, there would have been some weight in these observations ; but when we find it adopted by most of the European nations to express a dance, the origin of which both English and foreign glossaries uniformly ascribe to the Moors, we must pause at least before we consent to abandon the only clue that presents itself to assist us. The genuine Moorish or Morisco dance was, no doubt, very different from the European morris ; but there is scarcely an instance in which a fashion or amusement that has been borrowed from a distant region has not in its progress through other countries undergone such alterations as have much obscured its origin. This remark may be exemplified in chess

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  a This will hereafter appear to be a mistake.
  b Strutt's Sports and pastimes of the people of England, p. 171.
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434       ON THE ANCIENT ENGLISH

and cards, which, beyond all doubt, were invented in India or China, and spread, by means of the Arabians, progressively throughout Spain, Italy, France, England, and the North of Europe. But the above writer has cited a passage from the play of Variety, 1649, in which the Spanish Morisco is mentioned ; and this not only shows the legitimacy of the term morris, but that the real and uncorrupted Moorish dance was to be found in Spain, where it still continues to delight both natives and strangers under the name of the fandango. It may be likewise remarked, that the exquisitely pretty music to this lively dance is undoubtedly Moorishc. The Spanish morris was also danced at puppet-shows by a person habited like a Moor, with castagnets; and Junius [Du Jon] has informed us that the morris dancers usually blackened their faces with soot, that they might the better pass for Moorsd.

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  c Hist. of musick, vol. iv. 388, by Sir John Hawkins, who was clearly of opinion that the morris dance was derived from the Moors.
  d Etymologicum Anglicanum. In further corroboration of this deduction of the morris dance, the following words may be adduced ; MORESQUE a kind of grotesque painting, sometimes called Arabesque, and used in embroidery and damasking. MORISCLE, and MOURICLE, a gold coin used

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MORRIS DANCE.       435

  Some have sought the origin of the morris in the Pyrrhica saltatio of the ancients, a military dance which seems to have been invented by the Greeks, and was afterwards adopted by the Salii or priests of Mars. This continued to be practised for many ages, till it became corrupted by figures and gesticulations foreign to its original purpose. Such a dance was that well known in France and Italy by the name of the dance of fools or Matachins, who were habited in short jackets with gilt-paper helmets, long streamers tied to their shoulders, and bells to their legs. They carried in their hands a sword and buckler, with which they made a clashing noise, and performed various quick and sprightly evolutionse.

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in Spain by the Moors, and called in the barbarous Latin of the fourteenth century morikinus. See Carpentier, Suppl. ad glossar. Ducangian. v. Morikinus. MORRIS WAX, called likewise mores wax, in the Garbelling of spices, 1594, 4to. To these the morris-pike may perhaps be added. I is probable the the English terms morris and morice have been corrupted from mores, the older and more genuine orthography.
  e Tabourot Orchesographie, 1589, 4to, p. 97, where the several postures of this dance are described and represented. The Pyrrhic dance appears to have travelled from Greece into the North. See Olaus Magnus, De gentibus septentrionalibus, lib. xv. c. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27.

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436      ON THE ANCIENT ENGLISH

A species of this sword dance by some means or other got introduced into England, where it has generally and unaccountably been exhibited by women, whose dexterous feats of tumbling and dancing with swords at fairs, and in the minor theatres, are still remembered by many personsf. A very learned writer, speaking of the Pyrrhica saltatio, informs us, that " The common people in many parts of England still practise what they call a Morisco dance, in a wild manner, and as it were in armour, at proper intervals striking upon each others staves, &c.g" This might be found on enquiry to differ from the common morris, and to be a mixture of the old Pyrrhic and Moorish dances. Such a one may be alluded to in The second part of King Henry the Sixth, Act iii. Sc. 1,

'' ____________ I have seen him
Caper upright like a wild Morisco,
Shaking the bloody darts, as he his bells."

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  f It is remarkable that the same practice should be found in the island of Ceylon. Knox tells us that "A woman takes two naked swords, under each arm one, and another she holds in her mouth, then fetcheth a run and turns clean over, and never touches the ground till she lights on her feet again holding all her swords fast." Hist. of Ceylon, p. 99.
  g Wise's Enquiries concerning the first inhabitants, language &c. of Europe, p. 51.

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MORRIS DANCE.       437

  Before we proceed to an examination of the more immediate object of this essay, the English morris, it may be as well to lay before the reader a short description of the uncorrupted morris dance, as practised in France about the beginning of the sixteenth century. It has been preserved by Tabourot, the oldest and by far the most curious writer of any other on the art of dancingh. He relates, that in his youthful days it was the custom in good societies for a boy to come into the ball, when supper was finished, with his face blackened, his forehead bound with white or yellow taffeta, and bells tied to his legs. He then proceeded to dance the Morisco, the whole length of the hall, backwards and forwards, to the great amusement of the companyi. He hints

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  h Jean Tabourot, canon and official of the cathedral of Lengres, published his Orchesographie et traicté en forme de dialogue par lequel toutes personnes peuvent facilement apprendre et practiquer l'honneste exercice des dances, 1589, 4to, under the anagrammatized name of Thoinot Arbeau. He died in 1595, at the age of 66. His work is equally curious and uncommon.
  i But the French morris can be traced to a much earlier period. Among other instances of the prodigality of Messire Gilles de Raiz, in 1440, morris dancers are specified. Lobineau, Hist. de Bretagne, ii. 1069. In the accounts of Olivier le Roux, treasurer to Arther III. duke of Bretagne

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438      ON THE ANCIENT ENGLISH

that the bells might have been borrowed from the crotali of the ancients in the Pyrrhic dance. He then describes the more modern morris dance, which was performed by striking the ground with the forepart of the feet ; but, as this was found to be too fatiguing, the motion was afterwards confined to the heel, the toes being kept firm, by which means the dancer contrived to rattle his bells with more effect. He adds that this mode of dancing fell into disuse, as it was found to bring on gouty complaints. This is the air to which the last-mentioned morris was performed.

<sheet music from Arbeau>

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in 1457, is this article : "à certains compaignons qui avoient fait plusieurs esbatemens de morisques et autres jeux devant le duc à Tours, vi. escus." Id. 1205. At a splendid feast given by Gaston de Foix at Vendôme in 1458, " foure yong laddes and a damosell attired like savages daunced (by good direction) an excellent Morisco, before.

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MORRIS DANCE.       439

  It has been supposed that the morris dance was first brought into England in the time of Edward the Third, when John of Gaunt returned from Spaink; but it is much more probably that we had it from our Gallic neighbours, or even from the Flemings. Few if any vestiges of it can be traced beyond the reign of Henry the Seventh ; about which time, and particularly in that of Henry the Eighth, the churchwardens' accounts in several parishes afford materials that throw much light on the subject, and show that the morris dance made a very considerable figure in the parochial festivals. A late valuable writer has remarked that in some places the May-games of Robin Hood were nothing more than a morris dance, in which Robin Hood, Little John, Maid Marian, and Frier Tuck, were the principal personages, the others being a clown or fool, the

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the assembly." Favines Theater of honour, p. 345, and see Carpentier, Suppl. ad glossar. Ducangian. v. Morikinus. Coquillart, a French poet, who wrote about 1470, says the Swiss danced the Morisco to the beat of the drum. Œuvres, p. 127.
  k Peck's Memoirs of Milton, 135. What this writer has added on the subject of the morris dance is not very interesting ; but he is certainly mistaken in his explanation of five, seven, or nine men's morris.

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440      ON THE ANCIENT ENGLISH

hobby-horse, the taborer, and the dancers, who were more or less numerousl; but this seems to be a mistake. The May-games of Robin Hood appear to have been principally instituted for the encouragement of archery, and were generally accompanied by morris dancers, who, nevertheless, formed but a subordinate part of the ceremony. It is by no means clear that at any time Robin Hood and his companions were constituent characters in the morris. There were, besides, May-games of a more simple nature, being merely dances round a May-pole, by the lads and lasses of the village, and the undoubted remains of the Roman Floraliam. We find also that other festivals and ceremonies had their morris, as Holy-Thursday; the Whitsun-ales ; the bride-ales, or weddingsn, and a sort of play or pageant called the lord of misrule. Sheriffs too had their morris danceo. The reader may be amused with the

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  l Ritson's Robin Hood, I. cii.
  m See particularly Stubbe's Anatomie of abuses, p. 109, edit. 1595, 4to.
  n In Laneham's Letter from Kenilworth or Killingworth castle, a bride-ale is described, in which mention is made of " a lively Moris dauns, according too the auncient manner : six dauncerz, Mawdmarion, and the fool."
  o See Survay of London, 1618, 4to, p. 161.

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MORRIS DANCE.       441

following account of the lord of misrule, as it contains a description of an attendant morris. It has been fotunately handed down to us by a puritanical writer of the reign of Elizabeth, whose loud ravings against the fashionable excesses of his countrymen have contributed to furnish posterity with the completest information respecting a considerable portion of the manners and customs of the above period that is any where to be found. These are his words : " First, all the wilde heads of the parish, flocking togither, chuse them a graund captaine (of mischiefe) whome they innoble with the title of my Lord of misrule, and him they crowne with great solemnitie, and adopt for their king. This king annoynted, chooseth foorth twentie, fourtie, three-score or a hundred lustie guttes like to himselfe to waite upon his lordly majesty, and to guarde his noble person. then every one of these his men, he investeth with his liveries of greene, yellow, or some other light wanton collour. And as though that were not (bawdy) gawdy ynough, I should say, they bedecke themselves with scarffes, ribbons and laces hanged all over with golde ringes, precious stones, and other jewels : this done, they tie about either legge twentie or fourtie belles, with rich handkerchiefe in their

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442      ON THE ANCIENT ENGLISH

handes, and sometimes laide a crosse over their shoulders and neckes, borrowed for the most part of their pretie Mopsies and loving Bessies, for bussing them in the darke. Thus all things set in order, then have they their hobby-horses, their dragons and other antiques, togither with their baudie pipers, and thundering drummers, to strike up the Devils Daunce withall : then martch this heathen company towards the church and church-yarde, their pypers pypying, thier drummers thundering, their stumpes dauncing, their belles iyngling, their handkercheefes fluttering about their heades like madde men, their hobbie horses, and other monsters skirmishing amongst the throng : and in this sorte they goe to the church (though the minister be at prayer or preaching) dauncing and swinging their handkerchiefes over their heades in the church like Devils incarnate, with such a confused noise, that no man can heare his owne voyce. Then the foolish people they looke, they stare, they laugh, they fleere, and mount upon formes and pewes, to see these goodly pageants solemnized in this sort. Then after this about the church they goe againe and againe, and so foorth into the church yard, where they have commonly their sommer haules, their bowers, arbours, and

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MORRIS DANCE.       443

banquetting houses set up, wherein they feast, banquet, and daunce all that day, and (peradventure) all that night too. And thus these terrestrail Furies spend the Sabboth day. Another sort of fantasticall fooles bring to these helhoundes (the Lord of misrule and his complices) some bread, some good ale, some new cheese, some olde cheese, some custardes, some cracknels, some cakes, some flaunes, some tartes, some creame, some meat, some one thing, some another ; but if they knewe that as often as they bringe anye to the maintenance of these execrable pastimes, they offer sacrifice to the Devill and Sathanas, they would repent and withdrawe their handes, which God graunt they mayp." Another declaimer of the like kind, speaking of May games and morris dances, thus holds forth ; "The abuses which are committed in your may-games are infinite. The first whereof is this, that you doe use to attyre in womans apparrell whom you doe most commenly call may-marrions, whereby you infringe that straight commaundement whiche is given in Deut. xxiil. 5, that men must not put on womens apparrell for feare of enormities. Nay I myself have seene in a may game a troupe, the greater part wherof

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  p Stubbes's Anatomie of abuses, p. 107.

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444      ON THE ANCIENT ENGLISH

hath been men, and yet have they been attyred so like unto women, that theyr faces being hidde (as they were indeede) a man coulde not discerne them from women. The second abuse, which of all other is the greatest, is this, that it hath been toulde that your morice dauncers have daunced naked in nettes : what greater entisement unto naughtines could have been devised ? The third abuse is, that you (because you will loose no tyme) doe use commonly to runne into woodes in the night time, amongst maidens, to fet bowes, in so muche as I have hearde of tenne maidens which went to fet May, and nine of them came home with childeq." He seems likewise to allude to a character of the Devil in the May games, of which no mention is elsewhere made.

  In the course of time these several recreations were blended together so as to become almost indistinguishable. It is however very certain that the May games of Robin Hood, accompanied with the morris, were at first a distinct ceremony

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  q Fetherston's Dialogue agaynst light, lewde, and lascivious dauncing, 1582, 12mo, sign. D. 7. See a passage to the same purpose in Northbrooke's Treatise against dicing, dancing, &c. 1597, 4to, fo. 68 b.

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<insert of handcoloured Morris dancers>

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MORRIS DANCE.       445

from the simple morris, which when Warner lived was celebrated about the season of Easter, and before the May games : he thus speaks of them,

"At Paske begun our Morrise, and ere Penticost our Mayr."

  It is probably that when the practice of archery declined, the May games of Robin Hood were discontinued, and that the morris daunce was transferred to the celebration of Whitsuntide, either as connected with the Whitsun ales, or as a separate amusement. In the latter instance it appears to have retained one or two of the characters in the May pageants ; but no uniformity was or possibly could be observed, as the arrangement would vary in different places according to the humour or convenience of the parties.

  The painted glass window belongin to George Tollet, Esq. at Betley, in Staffordshire, exhibits, in all probability, the most curious as well as the oldest representation of an English May game and morris dance, that is any where to be founds. The learned possessor of this curiousity, to whom the readers of Shakspeare are much indebted

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  r Albion's England, 1612, p. 121.
  s Steven's Shakespeare, at the end of the play of King Henry IV. part I.

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not only for this, but for many other valuable communications, has supposed that the window might have been painted in the youthful days of Henry the Eighth, when he delighted in May games ; but it must be observed that the dresses and costume of some of the figures are certainly of an older period, and may, without much hazard, be pronounced to belong to the reign of Edward the Fourth. Among other proofs that could be adduced, it will be sufficient to compare it with the annexed print of another morris dance. This is a copy from an exceedingly scarce engraving on copper by Israel Von Mecheln, or Meckenen, so named from the place of his nativity, a German village on the confines of Flanders, in which latter country this artist appears chiefly to have resided ; and therefore in most of his prints we may observe the Flemish costume of his time. From the pointed shoes that we see in one of the figures it must have been executed between the year 1460, and 1470 ; about which latter period the broad-toed shoes came into fashion in France and Flanders. It seems to have been inteded as a pattern for goldsmith's work, probably a cup or tankard.

  The artist, in a fancy representation of foliage, has introduced several figures belonging to a

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MORRIS DANCE.       447

Flemish May game morris consisting of the lady of the May, the fool, the piper, two morris dauncers with bells and streamers, and four other dancing characters, for which appropriate names will not easily be found. the similitude between some of the figures in this print and others in Mr. Tollett's window is very striking, and shows that the period of execution, as to both, was nearly the same. One objection to this opinion will, no doubt, present itself to the skilful spectator, and that is the shape of the letters which form the inscription A MERY MAY on the pane of glass No. 8. These are comparatively modern, and cannot be carried further back than the time of Elizabeth ; but this will be accounted for hereafter.

  The above curious painting has furnished the means of ascertaining some of the personages of which the May games and morris consisted at the time of its execution. To trace their original forms and numbers, or the progressive changes they underwent, with any degree of accuracy, would be perhaps impossible ; because not only the materials for such an attempt are extremely few, but a variety of circumstances contributed to constitute their differences even during the same period. Wherever we turn, nothing but

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irregularity presents itself. Sometimes we have a lady of the May, simply, with a friar Tuck ; and in later times a Maid Marian remained without even a Robin Hood or a friar. But consistency is not to be looked for on these occasions, when we find, as has been remarked, that the May games, those of Robin Hood, the ales, and the morris dances, were blended together as convenience or caprice happend to dictatet.

  The several characters that seem in more ancient times to have composed the May game and morris were the following : Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck, Maid Marian the queen or lady of the May, the fool, the piper, and several morris dancers habited, as it appears, in various

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  t There is a remarkable instance of the corruption that has been gradually introduced into popular ceremonies, in the celebration of the gunpowder-plot ; in which, formerly, Guy Faux was ignominiously carted, in company with the Pope and the Devil, all of whom were afterwards consigned to the flames : whereas at present we have only the image of a fellow, or sometimes a real boy bedizened with gilded rags, ruggles, and powdered periwig, under the appellation of Poor Guy, for whom the attendants seem to crave charity. The Pope had been long dismissed by proclamation or act of parliament ; and the Devil is probably forgotten by some, or become an object of too much terror with others to be sported with.

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MORRIS DANCE.       449

modes. Afterwards a hobby horse, and a dragon were added. To avoid the confusion that might otherwise ensue, it will be best to speak of each character by itself.

  I. ROBIN HOOD. The history of this celebrated outlaw has been so ably and ingeniously treated by Mr. Ritson, and every fact that relates to him so minutely developed, that it will be long before any novelty shall be discovered of sufficient importance to deserve attention. It appears that in the May game he sometimes carried a painted standardu.

  II. LITTLE JOHN. The faithful companion of Robin Hood, but of whom little that is not fabulous ahs been handed down to us. He is first mentioned, together with Robin Hood, by

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  u Churchwardens' accounts at Kingston, in Lyson's Environs of London, vol. i. p. 227. The learned author of this interesting work has remarked that he had found no entries at Kingston, relating to the May games, after the 29, Hen. 8 ; but they certainly continued, as parochial ceremonies, in other places to a much later period. In the churchwardens' accounts of Great Marlow it appears that dresses for the morris dance were lent to neighbouring parishes so late as 1629. See Langley's Antiquities of Desborough, 4to. 1797.
  VOL. II.      

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450      ON THE ANCIENT ENGLISH

Fordun the Scotish historian, who wrote in the fourteenth century, and who speaks of the celebration of the story of these persons in the theatrical performances of his time, and of the minstrels' songs relating to them, which he says the common people preferred to all other romancesw.

  III. FRIAR TUCK. There is no very ancient mention of this person, whose history is very uncertain. Drayton has thus recorded him, among other companions of Robin Hood ;

" Of Tuck the merry friar which many a sermon made
  In praise of Robin Hood, his outlaws and their tradex."

He is known to have formed one of the characters in the May games during the reign of Henry the Eighth, and had been probably introduced into them at a much earlier period.From the occurrence of this name on other occasions, there is good reason for supposing that it was a sort of generic appellation for any friar, and that it originated from the dress of the order, which was tucked or folded at the waist by means of a cord or girdle. Thus Chaucer, in his prologue to the Canterbury tales, says of the Reve ;

" Tucked he was, as is a frere aboute :"

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  w Fordun's Scotichronicon, 1759, folio, tom. ii. p. 104.
  x Polyolbion, song xxvi.

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MORRIS DANCE.       451

And he describes one of the friars in the Sompnour's tale :

" With scrippe and tipped staff, ytucked hie."

  This friar maintained his situation in the morris under the reign of Elizabeth, being thus mentioned in Warner's Albion's England :

" Tho Robin Hood, liell John, frier Tucke and Marian deftly play :"

but is not heard of afterwards. In Ben Jonson's Masque of gipsies, the clown takes notice of his omission in the dancey.

  IV. MAID MARIAN. None of the materials that constitue the more authentic history of Robin Hood, probe the existence of such a character in the shape of his mistress. There is a pretty French pastoral drama of the eleventh or twelfth century, entitled Le jeu du berger et de la bergere, in which the principal characters are Robin and Marion, a shepherd and shepherdess. Mr. Wharton thought that our English Marian might be illustrated from this composition ; but Mr. Ritson is unwilling to assent to this opinion, on the ground that the French Robin and Marion " are not the

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  y Ben Jonson's Works, 1756, vol. vi. p. 93.     

2 G 2

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452      ON THE ANCIENT ENGLISH

Robin and Marian of Sherwood." Yet Mr. Warton probably meant no more than that the name of Marian had been suggested from the above drama, which was a great favourite among the common people in France, and performed much about the season at which the May games were celebrated in England. the great intercourse between the countries might have been the means of importing this name amidst an infinite variety of other matters ; and there is indeed no other mode of accounting for the introduction of a name which never occus in the page of English historyz.We have seen that

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  z Marian, or as it is more frequently written Marion, is not formed, as some French writers have supposed, from Mary and Ann, but more probably from Mariamne the wife of Herod, whose name seems borrowed from that of Miriam מרים the prophetess, the sister of Aaron. Miriam is said to come from a Syrian word signifying mistress, or from מרך marar, bitterness. The name of Mary, evidently contracted from Miriam or Mariamne, does not occur till the time of the daughter of Joachim and Anne, the mother of Christ, at which period we find other Maries in the New Testament. It is remarkable that Maria, from Marius, should not occur among the Roman names of women, in like manner as we have Julia, Cornelia, Fulvia, Proba, Valeria, &c., from Julius, Cornelius, Fulvius, Probus, and

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MORRIS DANCE.       453

the story of Robin Hood was, at a very early period, of a dramatic cast ; and it was perfectly natural that a principal character should be transferred from one drama to another. It might be thought likewise that the English Robin deserved his Marian as well as the other. The circumstance of the French Marian being acted by a boy contributes to support the above opinion ; the part of the English character having been personated, though not always, in like manner. Little, if any, stress can be laid on the authority of an old play cited by Mr. Steevens to prove that " Maid Marian was originally a name assumed by Matilda the daughter of Robert Lord Fitzwater, while Robin Hood remained in a state of outlawrya." This is rather to be considered as a dramatic fiction, designed to explain a character the origin of which had been long forgotten.

  Maid Marian not only officiated as the paramour of Robin Hood in the May games, but as the queen or lady of the May, who seems to have

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Valerius. The facetious and eccentric Edmund Gayton, in the dedication to his Festivous notes on Don Quixote, speaks of Mayd Myriam. He perhaps imagined that the morris dance had been suggested by the hprophetess and her dancing women with their timbrels.
  a Steeven's Shaksp. viii. 530.

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454      ON THE ANCIENT ENGLISH

been introduced long before the games of Robin Hood. In the isle of Man they not only elected a queen of May, but likewise a queen of winterb. Gatherings for the May lady, as anciently for Robin Hood, were lately kept up at Cambridge, but in a corrupted form, the real occasion of this ceremony being, in all probability, quite unknown to the gatherers. There can be no doubt that the queen of the May is the legitimate representation of the Goddess Flora in the Roman festival.

  The introduction of Robin Hood into the celebration of May probably suggested the addition of a king or lord of the May. In the year 1306 Robert Bruce caused himself to be crowned at Scone, and a second time by the hands of his mistress, the adulterous wife of the earl of Bowhan, who changed his name to David. It is reported that he said to his own wife on this occasion, " Yesterday we were but earl and countess, to day we are king and queen ;" to which she replied, " True, you are now a summer king, but you may not chance to be a winter one." Matthew of Westminster has recorded this fact,

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  b Waldron's History of the isle of Man, 12mo, p. 95, where he has described the mock battle between the queens.

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MORRIS DANCE.       455

and Holinshed, who copies him, makes the lady say, that " she feared they should prove but as a summer king and queen, such as in country townes the yong folks chose for sport to dance about may-poles." In 1557 there was a May game in Fenchurch street, with a Lord and Lady of the May, and a morris dancec. Both these characters are introduced in a morris in Fletcher's play of The two noble kinsmen, Act iii. ; and, in the Knight of the burning pestle, a grocer's apprentice personates a lord of the May dressed out in " scarves, feathers, and rings." He is made to deliver a speech from the conduit to the populace, of which this is a part ;

" London, to thee I do present the merry month of May,
   Let each true subject be content to hear me what I say ;
   For from the top of conduit-head, as plainly may appear,
   I will both tell my name to you, and wherefore I came here.
   My name is Rafe, by due descent, though not ignoble I,
   Yet far inferiour to the flock of gracious grocery.
   And by the common counsel of my fellows in the Strand,
   With gilded staff, and crossed skarfe, the May lord here I stand."

 A lord and lady are still preserved in some places where the Whitsun-ales continue to be

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  c Strype's Eccl. memorials, iii. 376.

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456      ON THE ANCIENT ENGLISH

be celebrated, and perhaps in other morrises during the season of May.

To return to Maid Marian--She was usually dressed according to the fashion of the time, as we may collect from the figures of her in Mr. Tollett's window, and Israel's engraving. In both the kirtle and petticoat are alike ; and the pendent veil is supported by the hand. The English figure holds a flower, and has a fancy coronet as queen of the May. The other has apparently an apple in her hand, and her steeple head dress is what was actually worn in the middle of the fifteenth century by queens and ladies of high rank. Barnaby Rich, who wrote in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I., inveighing against the foppery of men's apparel, exclaims, " And from whence commeth this wearing, and this embroidering of long locks, this curiosity that is used amongst men, in frizeling and curling of their haire, this gentlewoman-like starcht bands, so be-edged and belaced, fitter for Maid Marion in a Moris dance, then for him that hath either that spirit or courage that shold be in a gentlemand ?"

  It appears that the Lady of the May was some-

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  d The honestie of this age, 1615, 4to, p. 35.

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MORRIS DANCE.       457

times carried in procession on men's shoulders ; for Stephen Batman, speaking of the Pope and his ceremonies, states that he is carried on the backs of four deacons, " after the maner of carying whytepot queenes in Western May gamese." Her usual gait was nice and affectedf. Thus in the description of the family visit to the royal guest, in the old ballad of The miller of Mansfield :

" And so they jetted down towards the king's hall :
   The merry old miller, with his hands on his side ;
   His wife, like Maid Marian did mince at that tide."

 But although the May-lady was originally a character of some delicacy and importance, she appears to have afterwards declined in both respects. In the time of Elizabeth she was usually represented by some smooth-faced and effeminate youthg. Falstaff tells the hostess, that " for

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  e What these ladies exactly were is not easy to comprehend. Whitepot in old cookery was a kind of custard, made in a crust or dish with cream, eggs, pulse of apples, sugar, spices, and sippets of white or manchet bread. It is possible therefore that Maid Marian, being occasionally personated by a kitchen malkin or cook wench, obtained the title of a white-pot queen.
  f Golden books of the leaden Goddes, 1577, 4to, fo. 30.
  g Greene's Quip for an upstart courtier, sig. D. 3
.

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458      ON THE ANCIENT ENGLISH

womanhood Maid Marian may be the Deputy's wife of the ward to her ;" meaning perhaps that she was as masculine in her appeareance as the country clown who personated Maid Marian : and in Fletcher's Monsieur Thomas, Dorothea desires her brother to conduct himself with more gentleness towards his mistress, unless he would chuse to mary Malkyn the May lady ; another allusion to the degraded state of Maid Marian, who is here assimilated to a vulgar drudge or scullion both in name and condition. But during the whole of her existence mirth and gaiety were her constant companions. The translator of The hospitall of incurable fooles, 1600, 4to, speaking of Acco, the old woman who became mad on beholding her ugliness in a mirror, says that "one while shee could be as merrie as Maid Marrian." Nor was this character, even in later times, uniformly vulgar. Every one will call to mind Nicholas Breton's pretty sonnet of Phyllida and Corydon, where the shepherdess,

" ____________ with garlands gay
   Was made the Lady of the Maye."

  V. THE FOOL. This character in the morris was the same, in point of dress, as the domestic

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MORRIS DANCE.       459

buffoon of his time. In Mr. Tollett's window he has additional bells tied to his arms and ancles as a morris dancer, but is, in other respects, the English fool of the fifteenth century. Yet the habit of this eccentric person was not the same in all countries, nor even uniform in the same country. Accordingly he is very differently accoutred in the Flemish print. He has a cap or hood with asses' ears, and a row of bells for the crest ; in his left hand he carries a bauble, and over his right arm hangs a cloth or napkin. He wears behind what seems intended for a purse or wallet, with which the fool in the old German prints is generally exhibited. It is certain that there was only one fool in the morris ; and therefore Mr. Steevens and Mr. Tollett have erred in supposing the figure No. 1, in the window to be the Bavian fool with the bib. The former gentleman had apparently misconceived the following passage in Fletcher's Two noble knismen,

" ____________ and next the fool,
   The Bavian, with long tail and eke long tool."

Here are not two fools described. The construction is, " next comes the fool, i. e. the Bavian fool, &c." This might have been the idiot

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End of 1807 transcription and beginning of 1839 transcription.

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ANCIENT ENGLISH MORRIS DANCE.       593

... fool, and so denominated from his wearing a bib, in French bavon,* because he drivelled. Thus in Bonduca, Act V., Decius talks of a 'dull slavering fool." The tricks of the Bavian, his tumbling and barking like a dog, suggested perhaps by the conduct of Robert the Devil when disguised as a fool in his well known and once popular romance, were peculiar to the morris dance described in The two noble kinsmen, which has some other characters that seem to have been introduced for stage effect, andnot to have belonged to the genuine morris. The tail was the fox tail that was sometimes worn by the morris fool ; and the long tool will be best understood by referring to the cut of the idiot in the genuine copy of the daunce of death usually, though improperly, ascribed to Holbein, and by reflecting on some peculiar properties and qualifications of the idiot character.

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  * Bavon or bavette, is from bave, spittle. Hence the middle age Latin term for a fool, bavosus. See Ducange Gloss. This is a very plausible etymology, and might stand well enough by itself; but it must not be concealed that in some of the Northern languages Bavian signifies a monkey or baboon. Whether Fletcher, who seems the only writer that has made use of this word, applied it to the fool in question on account of the monkey tricks that he played, remains to be ascertained. If we could discover the names of the characters in a French, Dutch, or German morris of this time, some light might be thrown on the subject.

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594      ILLUSTRATIONS OF SHAKESPEARE.

  What Mr. Tollett has termed a bib was in fact no uncommon part of the male dress in the fifteenth century. Some of the contemporary figures of the Beverley minstrels are so habited, as well as others in the representation of the Whitsun ale at Cirencester.* Whatever character the supposed Bavian of the window was, he is also found in the print by Israel on the left hand of the fool, not only in the same habit, but with his hands and feet precisely in similar attitudes. There is no doubt that the morris dance was in some respects a sort of chironomy ; and Higgins, the English editor of Junius's Nomenclator, has actually translated the word chironomia by "the morrise dance."† In the absence of some of the other characters of the morris dance, the exertions of the fool appear to have increased, as we learn from Ben Jonson's Entertainment at Althrope :

" But see the hobby-horse is forgot.
   F
oole, it must be your lot,
   To supply his want with faces
   And some other busson graces.
   You know how."--

  Coryat relates that near Montreuil he saw "a Whitsuntide foole disguised like a foole, wearing a long coate, wherein there were many severall peeces of cloth of divers colours, at the corners whereof there hanged the tailes of squirrels : he bestowed a little peece of plate, wherein was expressed the effigies of the Virgin Mary, upon every one that gave him money : for he begged money of all travellers for the benefite of the parish church."‡ The romance of The spirtual Quixote has a morris fool with a fox's tail depending from his cap, and a sheep bell attached to his hinder parts. In the modern dance the fool is continued, but his real character and

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  * See Carter's Specimens of ancient sculpture and painting, vol. ii. pl. xiii. Nos. 5 and 13, and pl. xxxvi.
  † Edit. 1585, 12mo, p.299. See likewise the article chironomus in p.521.
  ‡ Coryat's Crudities, 1611, 4to, p. 9.

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ANCIENT ENGLISH MORRIS DANCE.       595

dress appear to have been long since forgotten. In some places he is called the Squire.

  VI. THE PIPER. Sometimes called Tom Piper, an obvious and necessary attendant on a morris, and who requires very little illustration. Mr. Steevens has already referred to Drayton for the mention of him ; and Spenser, in his third eclogue, speaking of the rimes of bad poets, observes that

" Tom Piper makes as little melodie ;"

whence we are to infer that his music was not usually of the very best kind. The resemblence, as to attitude and dress, between the figures of this character in Mr. Tollett's painting and the Flemish print, is remarkable. In both we have the sword and feather. What Mr. Tollett has termed his silver shield seems a mistake for the lower part of flap of his stomacher.

  VII. The HOBBY-HORSE ; of which the earliest vestige now remaining is in the painted window at Betley. It has been already observed that he was often omitted in the morris. During the reign of Elizabeth the Puritans made considerable havoc among the May-games, by their preachings and invectives. Poor Maid Marian was assimilated to the whore of Babylon ' friar Tuck was deemed a remnant of Popery, and the Hobby-horse an impious and Pagan superstition ; and they were at length most completely put to the rout as the bitterest enemies of religion. King James's book of sports restored the lady and the hobby-horse : but doring the commonwealth they were again attacked by a new set of fanatics ; and, together with the whole of the May festivities, the Whisunales, &c., in many parts of England degraded. At the restoration they were once more revived.* The allusions to the

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  * Yet, in the reign of Charles the Second, Thomas Hall, another puritanical writer, published his Funebria Flora, the Downfall of May-games, 1661, 4to, in which, amidst a gread deal of silly declamation against these innocent amusements, he maintains that "Papists are forward to give the people May-poles, and the Pope's holiness with might and main keeps up his

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596      ILLUSTRATIONS OF SHAKESPEARE.

omission of the Hobby-horse are frequent in the old plays, and the line

" For O, for O, the hobby-horse is forgot,"

is termed by Hamlet an epitaph, which Mr. Theobald supposed, with great probability, to have been satirical. The following extract from a scene in Beaumont and Fletcher's Women pleased, Act IV., will best show the sentiments of the puritans on this occasion, and which the author has deservedly ridiculed :

HOB.

Surely I will dance no more, 'tis most ridiculous,
I find my wife's instructions now mere verities,
My learned wife's, she often hath pronounc'd to me
My safety ; Bomby, defie these sports, thou art damn'd else.
This beast of Babylon I will never back again,
His pace is sure prophane, and his lewd wi-hees,
The sons of Hymyn and Gymyn, in the wilderness.

FAR.

Fie neighbour Bomby, in your fits again ?
Your zeal sweats, this is not careful, neighbour,
The Hobby-horse is a seemly Hobby-horse.

HOB.

The beast is an unseemly, and a lewd beast,
And got at Rome by the Pope's coach-horses,
His mother was the mare of ignorance.

SOTO.

Cobler thou ly'st, and thou wert a thousand coblers
His mother was an honest mare, and a mare of good credit,
Scorn'd any coach-horse the Pope had ; thou art foolish,
And thy blind zeal makes thee abuse the beast.

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superstitious festivals as a prime prop of his tottering kingdome." That "by these sensual sports and carnal-flesh-pleasing wayes of wine, women, dancing, revelling, &c., he hath gained more souls, than by all the tortures and cruel persecutions that he could invent." He adds, "What a sad account will these libertines have to make, when the Lord shall demand of them, where wast though such a night ? why, my Lord, I was with the prophane rabble, stealing May-poles ; and where wast though such a day ? why, my Lord, I was drinking, dancing, dallying, ranting, whoring, carousing, &c."

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ANCIENT ENGLISH MORRIS DANCE.       597

HOB.

I do defie thee and thy foot-cloth too,
And tell thee to thy face, this prophane riding
I feel it in my conscience, and I dare speak it,
This unedified ambling hath brought a scourge upon us.

FAR.

Will you dance no more, neighbour ?

HOB.

Surely no,
Carry the beast to his crib : I have renounc'd him
And all his works.

SOTO.

Shall the Hobby-horse be forgot then ?
The hopeful Hobby-horse, shall he lye founder'd ?

HOB.

I cry out on't,
'Twas the forerunning sin brought in those tilt-staves,
They brandish 'gainst the church, the Devil calls May poles.

SOTO.

Take up your horse again, and girth him to ye,
And girth him handsomely, good neighbour Bomby.

HOB.

I spit at him.

SOTO.

Spit in the horse-face, cobler ?
Thou out-of-tune psalm-singing slave ; spit in his visnomy ?

HOB.

I spit again, and thus I rise against him :
Against this beast, that signify'd destruction,
Foreshew'd i'th' falls of monarchies.

SOTO.

I'th' face of him ?
Spit such another spit, by this hand cobler,
I'll make ye set a new piece o'your nose there ;
Take't up I say, and dance without more bidding,
And dance as you were wont ; you have been excellent,
And are still but for this new nicety,
And your wife's learned lectures ; take up the Hobby-horse,
Come, 'tis a thing thou hast lov'd with all thy heart, Bomby,
And wouldst do still, but for the round-breech'd brothers.
You were not thus in the morning ; take't up I say,
Do not delay, but do it : you know I am officer,

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598      ILLUSTRATIONS OF SHAKESPEARE.

And I know 'tis unfit all these good fellows
Should wait the cooling of your zealous porridge ;
Chuse whether you will dance, or have me execute ;
I'll clap your neck i'th' stocks, and there I'll make ye
Dance a whole day, and dance with these at night too.
You mend old shoes well, mend your old manners better,
And suddenly see you leave off this sincereness,
This new hot batch, borrowed from some brown baker,
Some learned brother, or I'll so bait ye for 't,
Take it quickly up.

HOB.

I take my persecution,
And thus I am forc'd a by-word to my brethren.

  The Hobby-horse was represented by a man equipped with as much pasteboard as was sufficient to form the head and hinder parts of a horse, the quadrupedal defects being concealed by a long mantle or footcloth that nearly touched the ground. The performer on this occasion exerted all his kill in burlesque horsmanship. In Sampson's play of The vowbreaker, 1636, a miller personated the hobby-horse ; and being angry that the mayor of the city is put in competition with him, exclaims, "Let the major play the hobby-horse among his brethren, and he will, I hope our towne-lads cannot want a hobby-horse. Have I practic'd my reines, my careeres, my pranckers, my ambles, my false trotts, my smooth ambles and Canterbury paces, and shall master major put me besides the hobby-horse ? Have I borrowed the forehorse bells, his plumes and braveries, nay had his mane new shorne and frizl'd, and shall the major put me besides the hobby-horse ?

  Whoever happens to recollect the manner in which Mr. Bayes's troops in the Rehearsal are exhibited on the stage, will have a tolerably correct notion of a morris hobby-horse. Additional remains of the Pyrrhic or sword dance are preserved in the dagger stuck in the man's cheeks, which constituted one of the hocus-pocus or legerdemain tricks practised by this character, among which were the threading of a needle, and the transferring of an egg from one hand to the

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ANCIENT ENGLISH MORRIS DANCE.       599

other, called by Ben Jonson the travels of the egg. * To the horse's mough was suspended a ladle for the purpose of gathering money from the spectators. In later times the fool appears to have performed this office, as may be collected from Nashe's play of Summer's last will and testament, where this stage direction occurs, " Ver goes in and fetcheth out the Hobby-horse and the morris daunce who daunce about." Ver then says, " About, about, lively, put your horse to it, reyne him harder, jerke him with your wand, sit fast, sit fast, man ; foole, holde up your ladle there." Will Summers is made to say, " You friend with the hobby-horse, goe not too fast, for feare of wearing out my lord's tyle-stones with your hob-nayles." Afterwards there enter three clowns and three maids, who daunce the morris, and at the same time sing the following song :

" Trip and goe, heave and hoe,
   Up and downe, to and fro,
   From the towne, to the grove,
   Two and two, let us rove,
   A maying, a playing ;
   Love hath no gainsaying :
   So merrily trip and goe."

  Lord Orford in his catalogue of English engravers, under the article of Peter Stent, has described two paintings at Lord Fitzwilliam's on Richmond green which came out of the old neighbouring palace. They were executed by Vinckenboom, about the end of the reign of James I., and exhibit views of the above palace ; in one of these pictures a moris dance is introduced, consisting of seven figures, viz. a fool, a hobby-horse, a piper, a Maid Marian, and three other dancers, the rest of the figures being spectators. Of these the first four and oneof the dancers are reduced in the annexed plate from a tracing made by the late Captain Grose. The fool has an inflated bladder or eel-skin with a ladle at the

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  * Every man out of his humour, Act II. Scene 1.

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600      ILLUSTRATIONS OF SHAKESPEARE.

end of it, and with this he is collecting money. The piper is pretty much in his original state ; but the hobby-horse wants the legerdemain apparatus, and Maid Marian is not remarkable for the elegance of her person.

  Dr. Plott, in his History of Staffordshire, p. 434, mentions that within memoroy, at Abbot's or Paget's Bromley, they had a sort of sport which they celebrated at Christmas, or on new year and twelfth days, called the Hobby-horse dance, from a person who carried the image of a horse between his legs made of thin boards, and in his hand a bow and arrow. The latter passing through a hole in the bow, and stopping on a shoulder, made a snapping noise when drawn to and fro, keeping time with the music. With this man danced six others, carrying on their shoulders as many rein-deer heads, with the arms of the chief families to whom the revenues of the town belonged. They danced the heys and other country dances. To the above hobby-horse dance there belonged a pot, which was kept by turns by the reeves of the town, who provided cakes and ale to put into this pot ; all people who had any kindness for the good intent of the institution of the sport giving pence a-piece for themselves and families. Foreigners also that came to see it contributed ; and the money, after defraying the expenses of the cakes and ale, went to repair the church and support the poor ; which charges, adds the doctor, are not now perhaps so cheerfully borned.

  A short time before the revolution in France, the May games and morris dance were celebrated in many parts of that country, accompanied by a fool and a hobby-horse. the latter was termed un chevalet ; and, if the authority of Minsheu be not questionable, the Spanairds had the same character under the name of tarasca. *

  VIII. THE DRAGON. The earliest mention of him as a part of the morris dance we have already seen in the extract

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  * Spanish dictionary.

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ANCIENT ENGLISH MORRIS DANCE.       601

from Stubbes's Anatomie of abuses ; and he is likewise introduced in a morris, in Sampson's play of the Vowbreaker, or fayre maid of Clifton, 1633, where a fellow says, " I'll be a fiery dragon :" on which, another, who had undertaken the hobby-horse, observes that he will be " a thund'ring Saint George as ever rode on horseback." This seems to afford a clue to the use of this dragon, who was probably attacked in some ludicrous manner by the hobby-horse saint, and may perhpas be the Devil alluded to in the extract already given from Fetherstone's Dialogue against dancing.

  IX. THE MORRIS DANCERS. By these are meant the common dancers in the late morrises, and who were not distinguished by any particular appellation, though in earlier times it is probable that each individual had his separate title. If there were any reason for a contrary opinion, it might depend on the costume of numbers 10 and 11 in Mr. Tollett's window, which may perhaps belong to the present class. There are likewise two similar figures in the Flemish print ; and the coincidence in their attitudes is no less remarkable than it is in those of some of the other characters. The circumstance too of one only wearing a feather in his hat is deserving of notice, as it is the same in both the representations. The streamers which proceed from their sleeves and flutter in the wind, though continued in very modern times, were anciently not peculiar to morris dancers, examples of them occurring in many old prints.* In the reign of Henry the Eighth the morris dancers were dressed in gilt leather and silver paper, and sometimes in coats of white spangled fustian. They had purses at their girdles, and garters to which bells were attached. The latter have been always a part of the furniture of the more active characters in the morris, and the use of them is of great antiquity. The tinkling ornaments of the feet

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  * See the plate of ancient cards, xxxi. in Strutt's Sports and pastimes, where a knave or attendant is dressed in this manner.
  † Churchwardens' accounts at Kingston, in Lysons's Environs of London, i. p. 227, 228.

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602      ILLUSTRATIONS OF SHAKESPEARE.

among the Jewish women are reprobated in Isaiah iii, 16, 18. Gratius Faliscus, who wrote his poem on hunting in the time of Augustus, has alluded to the practice of dancing with bells on the feet among the Egyptian priests of Canopus, in the following lines :

" Vix operata suo sacra ad Bubastia lino,
   Velatur sonipes æstivi turba Canopi."
                                              Cynegeticon, lib. i. 42.

  There is good reason for believing that the morris bells were borrowed from the genuine Moorish dance ; a cicumstance that tends to corroborate the opinion that has been already offered with respect to the etymology of the morris. Among the beautiful habits of various nations, published by Hans Weigel at Nuremberg, in 1577, there is the figure of an African lady of the kingdom of Fez in the act of dancing, with bells at her feet. A copy of it is here exhibited :

<image of 'Turkish' woman dancing>

  The number of bells around each leg of the morris dancers amounted from twenty to forty.* They had various appel-

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  * Stubbes's Anatomie of abuses, ubi supra.

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ANCIENT ENGLISH MORRIS DANCE.       603

lations, as the fore-bell, the second bell, the treble, the tenor, the base, and the double bell. Sometimes they used trebles only ; but these refinements were of later times.* The bells were occasionally jingled by the hands, or placed on the arms or wrists of the parties. Scarbes, ribbands, and laces hung all over with gold rings, and even precious stones, are also mentioned in the time of Elizabeth.† The miller, in the play of the Vowbreaker, says he is come to borrow " a few ribbandes, bracelets, eare-rings, wyertyers, and silke girdles and handkerchers for a morice and a show before the queene." the handkerchiefs, or napkins‡ as they are sometimes called, were held in the hand, or tied to the shoulders.§ In Shirley's Lady of pleasure, 1637, Act I., Aretina thus inveighs against the amusements of the country :

" ... to observe with what solemnity
   They keep their wakes, and throw for pewter candlestickes,
   How ring all into Whitson ales, and sweate
   Through twenty scarffes and napkins, till the Hobby horse
   Tire, and the maide Marrian dissolv'd to a gelly,
   Be kept for spoone meate."

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  * See Rowley's Witch of Edmonton, 1658, Act I. Scene 2.
  † Stubbes, ubi supra. Knight of the burning pestle, Act IV.
  ‡ Stubbes, ubi supra. Jonson's Masque of gipsies. Holme's Academy of armory, book iii. p. 169, whence the following cut has been borrowed, which, rude as it is, may serve some idea of the manner in which the handkerchiefs were used.

<image of two morris-style men dancing>

  § Knight of the burning pestle, Act IV.

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604      ILLUSTRATIONS OF SHAKESPEARE.

  The early use of the feather in the hat appears both in Mr. Tollett's window and the Flemish print ; a fashion that was continued a long time afterwards.* Sometimes the hat was decorated with a nosegay,† or with the herb thrift, formerly called our lady's cushion.‡

  Enough has been said to show that the collective number of the morris dancers has continually varied according to circumstances, in the manner as did their habits. In Israel's print they are nine : in Mr. Tollett's window, eleven. Mr. Strutt has observed that on his sixteenth plate there are only five, exclusive of the two musicians : but it is conceived that what he refers to is not a morris, but a dance of fools. There is a pamphlet entitled Old Meg of Herefordshire for a Mayd Marian and Hereford town for a morris dance, or 12 morris dancers in Herefordshire of 1200 years old, 1609, 4to.§ In the painting by Vinckenboom, at Richmond, there are seven figures. In Blount's Glossographie, 1656, the Morisco is defined, "a dance wherein there were usually five men and a boy dressed in a girles habit, whom they call Maid Marrian." The morris in Fletcher's Two noble kinsmen contains some characters, which, as they are nowhere else to be found, might have been the poet's own invention, and designed for stage effect :

" The chambermaid, and serving man by night
   That seek out silent hanging : Then mine host
   And his fat spouse, that welcomes to their cost
   The gauled traveller, and with a beckening
   Informs the tapster to inflame the reck'ning.
   Then the beast-eating clown, and next the fool,
   The Bavian, with long tail and eke long tool,
   Cum multis aliis, that make a dance."

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  * Vox graculi, 1623, p. 49.
  † Fletcher's Women pleased, Act IV.
  ‡ Greene's Quip for an upstart courtier, sign. B. 2.
  § This tract is mentioned by Sir William Temple, in his Essay on health and long life, form the communication of Lord Leicester. Howel, in his Parly of beasts, 1660, has recorded that " of late years ther were call'd out

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ANCIENT ENGLISH MORRIS DANCE.       605

  Mr. Ritson has taken notice of an old wooden cut " preserved on the title of a penny-history, (Adam Bell, &c.) printed at Newcastle in 1772," and which represents, in his opinion, a morris dance consisting of the following personages : 1. A bishop. 2. Robin Hood. 3. The potter or beggar. 4. Little John. 5. Friar Tuck. 6. Maid Marian. He remarks that the execution of the whole is too rude to merit a copy, a position that is not meant to be controverted ; but it is necessary to introduce the cut in this place for the purpose of correcting an error into which the above ingenious writer has inadvertently fallen. it is proper to mention that it originally appeared on the title page to the first known edition of Robin Hood's garland, printed in 1670, 18mo.

<image of wood cut>

  Now this cut is certainly not the representation of a morris

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within three miles compasse ten men that were a thougsand years between them, one supplying what the other wanted of a hundred years apiece, and they danc'd the morris divers hours together in the market place with a taborer before them 103 years old, and a maid Mariam 105."--p. 122. This seems to allude to the same event.

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604      ILLUSTRATIONS OF SHAKESPEARE.

dance, but merely of the principal characters belonging to the garland. These are, Robin Hood, Little John, queen Catherine, the bishop, the curtal frier, (not Tuck,) and the beggar. Even though it were admitted that Maid Marian and Friar Tuck were intended to be given, it could not be maintained that either the bishop or the beggar made part of a morris.

There still remains some characters in Mr. Tollett's window, of which no description can be here attempted, viz. Nos. 1, 4, 6, and 7. As these are also found in the Flemish print,* they cannot possibly belong to Robin Hood's company ; and therefore their learned proprietor would, doubtless, have seen the necessity of re-considering his explanation.† The resemblence between the two ancient representation is sufficiently remarkable to warrant a conjecture that the window has been originally executed by some foreign artist ; and that the panes with the English friar, the hobby-horse, and the may-pole have been since added.

Mr. Waldron has infromed us that he saw in the summer of 1783, at Richmond in Surrey, a troop of morris dancers from Abingdon, accompanied by a fool in a motley jacket, who carried in his hand a staff about two feet long, with a blown bladder a the end of it, with which he either buffeted the crowd to keep them at a proper distance from the dancers, or played tricks for the diversion of the spectators. The dancers and the fool were Berkshire husbandmen taking an annual circuit to collect money. Mr. Ritson too has noticed

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  * Compare No. 1, with the left hand figure at bottom in the print ; No. 4, with the left hand figure at top ; No. 6, with the right hand figure at bottom ; and No. 7, with the right hand figure at top. This last character in the Flemish print has a flower in his hat as well as No. 4. Query if that ornament have been accidentally omitte by the English engraver ?
  † This gentleman's death is recorded to have happened Oct. 22nd, 1779. Gough's Brit. topogr, ii. 239.
  ‡ See his continuation to Ben Jonson's sad shepherd, 1782, 8vo, p. 255, a work of very considerable merit, and which will materially dimish the regret of all readers of taste that the original was left unfinished.

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ANCIENT ENGLISH MORRIS DANCE.       605

that morris dancers are yet annually seen in Norfolk, and make their constant appearance in Lancashire. He has also preserved a newspaper article respecting some morris dancers of Pendleton, who paid ther annual visit to Salford, in 1792 ;* and a very few years since, another company of this kind was seen at Usk in Monmouthshire, which was attended by a boy Maid Marian, a hobby-horse, and a fool. they professed to have kept up the ceremony at that place for the last three hundred yeaers. It has been thought worth while to record these modern instances, because it is extremely probable that from the present rage for refinement and innovation, there will remain, in the course of a short time, but few vestiges of our popular customs and antiquities.

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  * Robin Hood, I. cviii.


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