THE MORRIS BOOK, Online Version

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to supply comic relief and give the dancers breathing-time. The fool often goes by the name of "Squire," sometimes of "Rodney." These are practically invariable; but beyond and beside these, other characters have accompanied the dancers. The hobby-horse we have already mentioned as a popular addition. Some took with them an assistant, called the ragman, to carry the dancers' extra clothing. Then, a person in various disguises and habiliments went—and still goes—with the dancers to collect money, if it might be, from admiring lookers-on: sometimes the fool himself served both as the type of unwisdom and its opposite, who bears the money-box.
In some parts of the country a swordbearer accompanied the Morris-men. This officer carried a rich pound-cake impaled upon his sword-point—cake and sword were be-ribboned, the former being supplied by some local lady; and during the dances slices of it were given amongst the audience who were expected to respond with coin for the treasury. A slice of cake was by way of bringing luck to the receiver; the credulous even treasured a piece of it the year round as a minister of good fortune.
Generally speaking, these must be regarded as the fixed and regular performers and accompaniments of the Morris. But, according to time and place, the additions to and varieties of these were innumerable. When the dance was popular, it may almost be said that every village sporting a troupe had its own peculiar variation in dress or character or other particular of its programme and personnel, by which it was known; and by these singularities each set of Morris-men and their backers held resolutely. There was competition, once, amongst the Morris-folk as there is to-day amongst football teams and their adherents. Many a bout, begun in friendly rivalry, ended in a scrimmage, in which the staves brought for use and ornament in the dance were used to break heads with. We are grown vastly more delicate and refined since then, it is supposed.
Before we go on to note some leading features in the dress and paraphernalia of the Morris-men, one more memory of the days that are gone—maybe in some fashion to return, maybe not— tempts to quotation. It is from the church-wardens' accounts of the parish of Kingston-upon-Thames, and in our prejudiced eyes has a dignity, and somehow a promise, all its own. It is from Lysons' "Environs of London," vol. i., 1792, p. 226, and runs:—
For paynting of the mores garments and for sarten gret leveres
£ 0
For 4 plyts and ½ of lawn for the mores
garments                                                                   0
For orseden for the same                                           0
For bellys for the dawnsars                                     0
For silver paper for the mores dawnsars 0
Shoes for the mores dawnsars, the frere and mayde Maryan at 7d. the payre 0
8 yerds of fustyan for the mores dawnsars
2 11
0 0 0
5 4
0 0 0
6 0 0
0 10
A dosyn of gold skynnes for the morres 5 hats and 4 porses for the dawnsars

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