Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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134                                         MORRIS-DANCE AND MAY-DAY.
outlaw, were added to the dance. Maid Marian was sometimes represented by a smooth-faced youth, dressed in a female garb; Friar Tuck, Robin Hood's chaplain, by a man of portly form, in the habit of a Franciscan friar; the hobby-horse was a paste-board resemblance of the head and tail of a horse, on a wicker frame, and attached to the body of a man, whose feet being concealed by a foot-cloth hanging to the ground, he was to imitate the ambling, the prancing, and the curveting of the horse; the dragon (constructed of the same materials) was made to hiss, yell, and shake his wings, and was frequently attacked by the man on the hobby-horse, who then personated St. George.
The garments of the Morris-dancers were adorned with bells, which were not placed there merely for the sake of ornament, but were sounded as they danced. These, which were worn round the elbows and knees, were of unequal sizes, and differently denominated; as the fore bell, the second bell, the treble, the mean or countertenor, the tenor, the great bell or base, and sometimes double bells were worn.* The principal dancer in the Morris was more superbly habited than his companions; as appears from a passage in The Mind Beggar of Bethnall G-reen (dramatised from the ballad of the same name), by John Day, 1659: " He wants no clothes, for he hath a cloak laid on with gold lace, and an embroidered jerkin; and thus he is marching hither like the foreman of a morris."
In The Vow-breaker, or Fair Maid of Clifton, by William Sampson, 1636, we find, " Have I not practised my reins, my careers, my prankers, my ambles, my false trots, my smooth ambles, and Canterbury paces—and shall the mayor put me, besides the hobby-horse? I have borrowed the fore-horse bells, his plumes, and braveries; nay, I have had the mane new shorn and frizzled. Am I not going to buy ribbons and toys of sweet Ursula for the Marian—and shall I not play the hobby-horse ? Provide thou the dragon, and let me alone for the hobby-horse." And afterwards: " Alas, sir! I come only to borrow a few ribbands, bracelets, ear-rings, wire-tiers, and silk girdles, and handkerchers, for a Morris and a show before the queen; I come to furnish the hobby-horse."
There is a curious account of twelve persons of the average age of a hundred years, dancing the Morris, in an old book, called " Old Meg of Herefordshire for a Mayd Marian, and Hereford towne for a Morris-dance; or twelve Morris-dancers in Herefordshire of 1200 years old,"b quarto, 1609. It is dedicated to the re­nowned old Hall, taborer of Herefordshire, and to " his most invincible weather-beaten nut-brown tabor, which hath made bachelors and lasses dance round about the May-pole, three-score summers, one after another in order, and is not yet worm-eaten." Hall, who had then "stood, like an oak, in all storms, for. ninety-seven winters," is recommended to " imitate that Bohemian Zisca, who at his death gave his soldiers a strict command to flay his skin off, and cover a drum with it, that alive and dead he might sound like a terror in the ears of his enemies: so thou, sweet Hereford Hall, bequeath in thy last will, thy vellum-spotted skin
» For the bellB of the Morris, see Ford'B play, The Witch       eight persons in Herefordshire, whose ages, computed
of Edmonton, act 2, sc. 1. Weber is mistaken as to       together, amounted to 800 years; probably the same, as
"mean" meaning tenor.                                                               mentioned by Lord Bacon, as happening "a few years
b Brand, in his Popular Antiquities, vol.2, p.208, 1813,       since in the county of Hereford." See Histunj, Katura!
Rives an account of a May-Rame, or Morris dance, hy       anil Erprrimmlal, of I.lfr ind Drath, IMS.