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THE EVOLUTION OF THE BALLAD 7
ring; and if there is company enough, make a little ring in its middle, and within that ring set a chair, and lay the cushion in it, and the first man set in it. Then the cushion is laid before the first man, the woman singing, ' This dance it will no further go '; and as before, only instead of * Come too ' they sing * Go fro '; and instead of 'Welcome, John Sanderson,' they sing ' Farewell, John Sanderson, farewell, farewell,' and so they go out, one by one, as they came in. Note.—The women are kissed by all the men in the ring at their coming and going out, and likewise the men by all the women."
It will be noticed that there is a good deal of indiscriminate kissing connected with the performance of this dance ; and this seems to have been a feature of many of these old ballad dances, which may possibly have something to do with their popularity.
But it is more than probable, in spite of its derivation, that this meaning of the word ballad was a later interpolation. The old English ballads were for the most part long pieces of narrative verse, generally followed by an envoi or moral, such as the famous "Chevy Chase' and the " Battle of Otterburn." The first purveyors of ballads in England were the Bards, who held an important place in popular estimation before the Norman Conquest. These ballads