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6o THE ESPERANLE MORRIS BOOK.
THE SATURDAY REVIEW. April 1906.
A very successful and delightful result it seemed to mo. Anyone who has paused to watch children dancing to the tunes of a street organ must have been struck by the grace and precision, often the rhythmic beauty, with which these children dance. Where do they learn to dance so well ? 1 am told there is no tutelage—simply a tradition. It is in them to dance thus. Some of the steps they dance are of great antiquity—older than the morris itself—and may still by experts be discerned among the various other steps that have in the course of time been evolved.
Anyhow, these girls did really seem to be taking to the morris and the folk-songs like ducks to the water. ^Esthetically these songs are enchanting. " Blow away the morning dew," " The blue-eyed stranger," " There come three dukes a-riding." " Mowing the barley," " Constant Billy," " Hares on the mountains," " The trees they do grow high "—arc not the mere names of them enough for enchantment? But a merely aesthetic performance of them would hardly yield you their finest flavour—the flavour of the very soil from which they have grown. It is a far cry from the hedgerows to the city. But children of the city have in them more of the quality needed for the folk-songs than could be instilled into any professional singers. I suppose the Esperance girls, flushed with their applause, will give their performance again. Wc must be careful not to spoil them.
BRISTOL TIMES AND MIRROR. June 24th, 1906.
It is high summer and our English villages are at their very best. The old folks are sunning themselves at their cottage doors, and the young folks are full of life and health. At East Harptrce this week I heard the sounds of music which was new to me, and which yet was full of the very spirit of dance and revel. One felt that merry feet must be keeping time with it. I followed the sounds and, sure enough there were the dancers, children and young girls, dancing the old-time morris dances, as they must have been danced in Merric England of long, long ago.
The revival of these dances had come by way of London, for the instructors were two working girls. They, in their turn, had been taught by two Oxfordshire peasants, in whose family the dances had been handed down for five generations. The intention is, that these dances shall be revived in many English villages, and that these and the folk-songs of the country shall once again set the spirit of innocent revelry free, and help the young folk to dance and sing, as did their forefathers, before cities and towns claimed them for factory and office desk.
DAILY CHRONICLE. Jan. 4th, 1907.
Almost as long ago as " once-upon-a-timc," one of the merry things that went to the making of " Merric England " was the morris dance. As Cupid makes love for the love of the thing, so those old happy Englishmen danced out of the pure joy of living. It was good to be alive in those days— as now and always. But those things were simpler. Sincerity was hardly counted a virtue, as most, well-nigh of necessity, led simple and sincere lives. They lived near to Mother Earth. She found them their work in life, and was largely mistress of their sorrows, hopes, and joys. And so it came about that they paid their tribute for tribute, stamping the earth upon all their revels, played in the open under the kindly sun. And the earth being whimsical and full of quaint humours, whimsicality and quaintness run through all the folk-songs, and dances get at the blood—being English—that is in you.
THE TIMES. Jaii. $"'■ ' ■"',-•
Morris Dances.—Clear enough proof was given on Thursday for any who might still be in need of it that the old
English folk-songs and morris dances arc alive again, not only in the sense that they have been noted, recorded, and published (for that by itself may only mean that scholars and antiquaries are being touched), but alive in the sense that they are appealing to what political economists call " the common people "—that is to say, to the classes who will not follow the changes of musical fashions, but will only sing and play such things as, for instance, of the Esperance Working ('.iris' Club, who gave performances both in the afternoon and evening of Thursday, in the small Queen's Hall, showed that such songs as " Blow away the morning dew," " Mowing the Barley," " Hares on the Mountains," and others really did make a strong musical appeal to them ; they also showed that they could go through these old songs and dances with admirable rhythmical precision, with a pitch that even at the end of the evening never gave signs of dropping, and with a sense of enjoyment that is so often lacking in the ordinary concert performances.
THE BOOKMAN. Eeb. 1907.
The jaded modern, who believes that there can be nothing unsophisticated in this twentieth century, needs an occasional reminder that the world is really still quite young. No better such reminder could be had than the performances of folk-songs and morris dances given during the last few months at the Queen's Hall. This rendering by London girls of old tunes collected in the West Country, and taught to the performers by Mr. Cecil Sharp and Mr. H. C. Macllwaine, is no copy of the antique. It is a revival in the true sense of the word. The impulse to sing is older than the art ; and artificial poetrv is, after all, ultimately but the imitation of this primitive spirit of songs. One might theorise at any length on the lyric instinct, but to attend one of these performances is of greater profit. For it is to rediscover the morning of the world with the dew yet glistening, and to get beyond all theories. We are glad to understand that a volume of these songs and dances is shortly to be published.
PUNCH. Nov. 13th, 1907. By permission.
" Come, lasses and lads ! " Among many movements that have for their excellent object a return to the land and the cultivation of old simplicities, none wears a more inviting mien than that which originated with the Esperance Club for Working Girls some two or three years ago, and has by this time attained to such a stature that a public conference is to be held at the Goupil Gallery on November 14th to consider the steps by which it might be, if not exactly nationalised, at any rate organised to the full. We refer to the revival of folk-songs, games, and morris dances, which, under the direction of Miss Neal and Mr. H. C. Macllwaine*, of the Esperance Club, and Mr. Cecil Sharp the musician, has led to several charming performances at the Queen's Hall, where such enthusiasm was enkindled that, through the generosity of certain of the audience, in many villages of England at this moment teachers are at work instructing the children in the steps of those delightful measures to which our ancestors danced when England was mcrric. and training their young voices to sing the old unsophisticated country songs, in which every note is as clear and pure as a drop of dew. In this way the Esperance Club, through the public spirit of a few individuals who love the past, has become a missionary centre to spread happiness and fun and melody cast and west and north and south. But the Club is small and its exertions are limited, and hence this conference for the search of a practical way to increase the number of teachers, and so give the songs and dances a wider and wider and wider recognition, until all England is dancing and singing once more, and once more is merrie. Mr. Punch wishes the conference success with all his heart.
* In November, [90S. Mr Macllwaine resigned from the Esperance Cub and Mrs. Tulie be nne Hun. Musical Director,