British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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May i.]                            may day.                                   253
Then the garland on ropes is hung high over all, One end to a tree, and one hooked to a wall; When they cuck the ball over till day is nigh gone, And then tea and cakes and the dancing comes on.
And then, lawk ! what laughing and dancing is there, While the fiddler makes faces within the arm-chair; And then comes the cushion* the girls they all shriek, And fly to the door from the old fiddler's squeak.
But the doors they are fastened, so all must kneel down, And take the rude kiss from the unmannerly clown. Thus the May games are ended, to their houses they roam, With the sweetheart she chooses each maiden goes home."
* The cushion dance appears to be of some antiquity: it is thus mentioned by Selden in his Table Talk, under " King of England":— " The court of England is much altered. At a solemn dancing, first you have the great measures, then the Corrantoes and the Galliards, and this is kept up with ceremony; at length to French-more [Frenchmore] and the cushion dance, and then all the company dance—lord and groom, lady and kitchen-maid, no distinction. So in our court in Queen Elizabeth's time gravity and state were kept up. In King James" time things were very pretty well. But in King Charles' time there was nothing but Frenchmore and the cushion-dance, omnium gatherum, tolly polly, hoite come toite." In Playford'a Dancing Master (1698, p. 7) it is described as follows:—"This dance is begun by a single person (either man or woman), who. taking a cushion in hand, dances about the room, and at the end of the tune stops and sings, ' This dance it will no further go;' the musician answers, ' I pray you, good sir, why say you so ?' Man. i Because Jean Sanderson will not come to.' Musician. ' She must come to, and she shall come to, and she must whether she will or no.' Then he lays down the cushion before a woman, on which she kneels, and he kisses her, singing, ' Welcome, Joan Sanderson, welcome, welcome,' Then she rises, takes up the cushion, and both dance, singing, 'Prinkum prankum is a fine dance, and shall we go dance it once again ?' Then making a stop, the woman sings as before, ' This dance it will no further go.' Musician. 4 I pray you, madam, why say you so?' Woman. 'Because John Sanderson will not come to.' Musician. 4 He must come to,' &c. (as before). And so she lays down the cushion before a man, who, kneeling upon it, salutes her, she singing ' Welcome, John Sanderson,' &c. Then he taking up the cushion, they dance round, singing as before, and thus they do till the whole company are taken into the ring. Then the cushion is laid before the first man, the woman singing 'This dance,' &c. (as before), only instead of'not come to,' they sing, " go fro f and instead of ' Welcome, John Sanderson,' 4 Farewell, farewell;' and so they go out one by one as they came in."
This dance was well known in Hollaud in the early part of the
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