Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 5 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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Shakespeare,) we may form an idea of what was essential and what adventitious in the English spectacle. The Lady is evidently the central per­sonage in both. She is, we presume, the same as the Queen of May, who is the oldest of all the characters in the May games, and the apparent successor to the Goddess of Spring in the Roman Floralia. In the English Morris she is called simply The Lady, or more frequently Maid Ma­rian, a name which, to our apprehension, means Lady of the May, and nothing more. A fool and a taborer seem also to have been indispensable; but the other dancers had neither names nor pe­culiar offices, and were unlimited in number. The Morris then, though it lost in allegorical sig­nificance, would gain considerably in spirit and variety by combining with the other shows. "Was it not natural, therefore, and in fact inevitable, that the old favorites of the populace, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, and Little John, should in the course of time displace three of the anonymous perform­ers in the show ? This they had pretty effectually done at the beginning of the 16th century, and the Lady, who had accepted the more precise designa­tion of Maid Marian, was after that generally regarded as the consort of Robin Hood, though she sometimes appeared in the Morris without him. In like manner, the Hobby Horse was quite early adopted into the Morris, of which it formed no original part, and at last even a Dragon