THE MORRIS BOOK, Online Version

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present in the spirit—maybe he was—he need have altered nothing in the description we have quoted but to substitute for the boy with his face blackened a sturdy English yeoman, and to note some differences in the get-up of the dancer. The solo dance has been performed also at Bampton, between tobacco-pipes laid crosswise on the ground—to the tune of the "Bacca Pipes" jig, or "Green Sleeves"—suggesting the Scottish sword-dance, and in many other fashions.
Another feature in the history of the English Morris, which by this time may be called impossible to account for with any exactitude, is that in the elder days the Mummers and their plays, the Robin Hood games and other ancient diversions with their characters and customs, became allied—or rather mixed up—with the Morris-men, upon May-day and occasions of festivity such as the Leet-ales, Lamb-ales, Bride-ales, &c. To what extent they were allied, or mixed, will probably baffle even the combined powers of all our archæologists to discover. In an old woodcut, for instance, preserved on the title of a penny history (Adam Bell, &c.) printed at Newcastle in 1772, is apparently the representation of a Morris dance, consisting of—A Bishop (or friar), Robin Hood, the Potter or Beggar, Little John, Friar Tuck, Maid Marian. Robin Hood and Little John carry bows of length befitting the size of each. The window, too, shown in the frontispiece is proof that the Morris-dancers were attended by other characters. The following, from Ben Jonson's "The Metamorphosed Gipsies," supplies further evidence to the same effect:—
They should be a Morris dancers by their jingle, but they have no napkins.
No, nor a hobby horse.
Oh, he's often forgotten, that's no rule; but there is no Maid Marian nor friar amongst them, which is the surer mark.
Nor a fool that I see.
But other characters, introduced for whatsoever reason, gradually disappeared, until the Morris company, as a general thing, consisted only of the dancers, the piper—that is, the musician— and the fool.
The hobby-horse, described later, was habitually associated with the Morris, until the Puritans, by their preachings and invective, succeeded in banishing it as an impious and pagan superstition. This accounts for the expression, "The hobby-horse quite forgotten"; and gives a touch of prophecy to Shakespeare's lament: "For, O, for, O, the hobby-horse is forgot." As is well known, however, the hobby-horse still prances in England to-day; at Minehead and Padstow, for instance, as an ancient and hallowed institution on its own account, and performing with the Morris-men at Bidford.
Other implements and characters may be found, used by and performing with the Morris-men, that originally had no connection with the Morris, but were borrowed from other pastimes. As we have said, however, this sets out to be no exhaustive study, whether of the Morris when it was a national dance, or of all its survivals at the present time. Such a study would in scope and purpose far outrun the limits of our intention.
Broadly speaking, the peculiar characteristics of the Morris, as it was in its heyday and as it has survived amongst us, are these: Leaving aside the solo dances, upon which we shall not touch further, the Morris is performed by six men; the records show that women have occasionally, but rarely, figured as performers. A musician is of course indispensable; also, as it seems, a fool,






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