Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/470

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


termed specifically the Sword Dance (d. 347), " wliicli is called ' Nelly's Gig,' " the " Running Battle," and the three dancers dancing with the three swords.

{e.') The Morris Dance. We owe our knowledge of this dance chiefly to Douce, who included a chapter on the subject in his Illustrations of Shakespeare. He says that he found all the glossaries, English and foreign, ascribe the origin of the dance to the Moors, although the genuine or original Moorish or Morisco dance was no doubt very different from the European morris. Douce states the dance in its uncorrupted form flourished in Spain in .his time (early part of present century) under the name of Fandango. He further states that it has been supposed that the morris dance was first brought into England in the time of Edward III., when John of Gaunt returned from Spain ; but it is much more probable that we had it from our Gallic neighbours, or even from the Flemings. Few if any vestiges of it can be traced beyond the reign of Henry YIL, about which time, and particularly in that of Henry VHI., the el lurch warden's accounts in several parishes afford materials that throw much light on the subject, and show that the morris dance made a very considerable figure in the parochial festivals. We find also that other festivals and ceremonies had their morris : as Holy Thursday ; the Whitsun ales ; the bride ales, or weddings ; and a sort of play or pageant called the Lord of Misrule. Sheriffs, too, had their morris dance. It is by no means clear that at any time Robin Hood and his companions were constituent characters in the morris. The following paragraph applies to the debased or mixed form in which apparently the dance existed in the performance under notice : " In the course of time these several recreations were blended together so as to become almost indistinguishable. It is, however, very certain that the May games of Robin Hood, accompanied with the morris, were at first a distinct ceremony from the simple morris, which when Warner lived was celebrated about the season of Easter and before the May games. He thus speaks of them :

" At Paske began our Morrise, and ere Penticost our May."

{Altwn's England, 1612.)