Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/204

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wards the encouragement of archery, and the custom was continued even beyond the close of the reign of James I. It is true that the May-games in their rudest form, the mere dance of lads and lasses round a May-pole, or the simple morris with the Lady of the May, were occasionally seen during the reign of Elizabeth; but the general exhibition was the more complicated ceremony we are about to describe."[1] To these characters were soon added several others, till, at its highest development under Elizabeth and James, the dramatis personæ of the morris-dance included the following characters: Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck, Little John, the Fool, Tom the Piper, the Hobby-Horse, the Dragon, and from two to ten morris-dancers, or the same number of Robin Hood's men, with the painted Maypole in the centre.

Robin Hood was created King or Lord of the May, and sometimes bore in his hand a painted standard. His paramour. Maid Marian, supplanted the former Queen of the May. Her part, in the days of Shakespeare, was usually taken by a smooth-faced lad whose unbroken voice rendered him capable of taking the part of a woman effectively. This custom gave offence to the Puritans, one of whom wrote in the following words:

  1. Drake, Vol I., p. 159