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THE ESPERANCE MORRIS book.
dance? The fact that the morris is almost certainly a survival of a pagan religious ceremonial makes even this possible.
This again looks as if we might trace in the " baton " used in the morris dances a survival of some very ancient pre-Christian ceremonial dances.
Miss Lucy Broadwood called my attention to the similarity between the dance tune used in " Shepherd's Hay" and that used by Britanny peasant children at the summer fete of shepherds.
She sent me the following tune and a little account of the ceremony :—
danscuses, qui, parcourant les chemins ou les rues, suivaienl, dans leurs ondulations, les courbes decrites par le chef de file de la dansc." Soleville gives three airs, two of which arc in 2-4 time, and one, " Al Fount de Mountmurat," in 6-8 time. This latter is the same air as " Malbrouk s'en va't en guerre " (1st half only).
Is "Hal-an-tow" also a corruption of Far-an-dole P
A Cornishman has told me that some ethnologists say that the Cornish people are of Basque origin. If so it is not surprising that the farandole, formerly danced in Bas Quercy and provinces adjoining the Pays de Basque, should linger still in Cornwall.
These suggestions are jotted down for what they are worth—merely as suggestions.
But at Fishguard, in South Wales, I saw some stick dances very like Shepherd's Hay in form, which had been taught by two Irishmen, and these men told me it was a war dance and danced in connection with a mummers' play. This play had twelve characters, all warriors, and included Nelson, Wellington, Prince George, St. Patrick, etc.
This rather suggests the idea that when the morris was first danced in England it came from Morocco and represented a fight between English and Moors, heathen and Christian.
Very little is really known as to its origin, but as facts come to light and clues are followed up we may be able to reconstruct its history. I shall always be grateful to those who will tell me of morris dancers in the country or of any remains of the tradition or folk lore in connection with the subject.
As far as I know, the Berkshire dances, with the exception of Princes Royal, are published for the first time. It may be of interest, therefore, to give a little account of them and of the way in which we discovered them. I was speaking at a very out-of-the-way village when a young man, who had sung a folk-song as part of the evening's entertainment, asked me if I had ever heard of a dance danced in a certain small town in Berkshire, and which had as part of its regalia two horns mounted on a pole. I said " No," and asked for the address of the family said to be the keepers of the old tradition. This I got, and wrote off to the oldest member of the family. The reply was delightful. It began :— " Honourable and respected Miss, I am that party which has the old dances, and I shall be proud to show them to you. Yours to command."
I found out, however, that the old man could neither read nor write, but had deputed a friend to write. This in itself is a recommendation in the exponent of folk art—largely a lost art in these days of compulsory education.
After letters exchanged, my friend Mrs. Tuke and I arrived in the town to find the old man waiting at the station. We had a sort of triumphal march through the town, he being greeted from one and another with evident interest. I learned later in the day that the town had considered my letters a hoax, and that the meaning of the old man's evident pleasure in walking through the town with one of us on either side of him was in effect saying, " You see, the ladies have come after all. they are no hoax."
He conducted us to a room in a small inn which he had secured for us. and then the fun began ! He was a little nervous and not a little forgetful, and the concertina which he played not very satisfactory. Whenever he forgot the tune he told us the note was missing in his instrument. Later, in London, when he came to the Esperance Club, I got him three more concertinas and
Villemarque says that children have their fete as well as the grown-ups, at the end of autumn, when " la Fete des Patres " (shepherds) is he'd. After a day spent in feasting, dancing, and singing (on some wide " lande" where the little shepherds and shepherdesses usually have tended their flocks) the children return home singing the old song, given above.
Ce qui a fait donner a cettc chanson le nom de Alike, e'est qu' avant de la commoncer, les petits patres, montcs sur des arbrcs. se jcttent trois fois ce mot, d'une montagne a l'autre, en gardant leurs troupcaux, le garcon prcnd le premier la parole de la sorte : " Ali! ke ! ali! ke, ali! ke ! " "Avis ! viens " (repeated). Et, ajoutant le nom de la jeune fille qu'il veut appelcr il lui dit. "Lei" (" ecoutc ! ") Si clle ne veut pas ecouter clle s'ecrie : " N' eann ked—de " (" Jc nc vais pas vraiment "). Si, au contraire, cllc consent a l'entendrc, clle repond : "Me ia ! ie " (" Je vais, oui "). Et aussitot son jcunc compagnon entonne la chanson (Ann Alike) jusqu'a la dcrnicrc strophe, que la petite fille chante seule avec telle varianto qui lui plait."
Chants Pop. de la Brctagne, Tome ii, pp. 548-551'.
There is also a similarity between parts of the ceremonv and the singing game called " Green Grass."
The Britanny version of Shepherd's Hay points again to some religious ceremony connected with the seasons and the gathering together of flocks and herds.
Miss Lucy Broadwood also sent me the following interesting note on the Cornish Furry Dance :—
" Furry " has various pronunciations and variants. I think that it may possibly be a corruption of " Farandole " (=Furrydance). See the account given by M. E. Soleville in his " Chants Populaires du Bas Quercy (1889) :
"Cos danses, encore en usage dans le Bas-Longucdoc et la Provence, ont completement disparu du Quercy. On donnait lc nom dc farandoles a de longucs chaincs dc danscurs ct de