صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

they have taken him, the bull is brought to the bailiff's house in Tutbury, and there collared and roped, and so conveyed to the bull-ring in High-street, where he is baited with dogs; the first course allotted for the king, the second for the honour of the town, and the third for the king of the minstrels; this done, the minstrels claim the beast, and may sell, or kill and divide him among them, according to their pleasure.” The author then adds, “this rustic sport, which they call bullrunning, should be annually performed by the minstrels only; but now-a-days they are assisted by the promiscuous multitude, that flock thither in great numbers, and are much pleased with it, though sometimes through the emulation in point of manhood that has bcen long cherished between the Staffordshire and the Derbyshire men, perhaps as much mischief may have been done as in the bull-fighting practised at Valencia, Madrid, and other places in Spain.' The noise and confusion occasioned by this exhibition are aptly described in the marriage of Robin Hood and Chlorinda, Queen of Titbury Feast, a popular ballad published early in the last century :

Before we came to it, we heard a strange shouting,

And all that were in it look'd madly,
For some were a bull-back, some dancing a morris,

And some singing Arthur O Bradley.*


Dancing. "Dancing, being that which gives gracel motions to all our limbs and, above all things, manliness and a becoming confidence to young chil. dren, I think, cannot be learned ino early. Nothing appears to me to give children so much confidence and behaviour, and so to raise them to the conversation of those above their years, as dancing."

:"-Locke's Trea tise on Education.

“Multarum deliciarum comes saltatio.”—Cicero. Under certain vehement emotions, more especially those of a pleasant description, all men are, and ever have been, natural, spontaneous, involuntary dancers. The child í

• Extracted from Atratt's Sports and Paatimom

but “the father of the man," when in his first leap for joy he executes le premier pas de la danse, yielding to the impulses of our common nature without dreaming that the saltatory merriment in which he indulges, and which might not improperly be termed the laughter of the legs, has been solemnly termed “the art of expressing the sentiments of the mind or the passions by measures, steps, or bounds, that are made in cadence'; by regulated motions of the body, and by graceful gestures; all performed to the sound of musical instruments, or of the voice.”

The connexion that exists between certain sounds and those motions of the human body called dancing, is assuredly a curious speculation that deserves more inquiry than has hitherto been bestowed upon it. Even between inanimate objects and certain notes, there is a sympathy, if that term may be allowed, which is equally surprising and inexplicable. It is well known that the most massive walls, nay, the solid ground itself, will responsively shake and tremble at particular notes in music. This strongly indicates the presence of some universally-diffused and exceedingly elastic fluid, which is thrown into vibrations by the concussions of the atmosphere upon it, produced by the motions of the sounding body. If these concussions are so strong as to make the large quantity of elastic fluid vibrate that is dispersed through a stone wall, or a considerable portion of earth, it is no wonder they should have the same effect upon that invisible and exceedingly subtile matter which pervades and seems to reside in our nerves.

“ Some there are whose nerves are so constructed that they cannot be affected by the sounds which affect others; while there are individuals whose nerves are so irritable that they cannot, without the greatest difficulty, sit or stand still when they hear a favourite piece of music played. It has been conjectured by profound inquirers into such subjects, that all the sensations and passions to which we are subject depend immediately upon the vibrations excited in the nervour fluid above mentioned. If this be true, we shall immediately understand the origin of the various dances among different nations. One kind of vibration, for instance, excites the passions of anger, pride, &c., which are paramount among warlike nations. The sounds capable of such effects would naturally constitute their martial


music, and dances conformable to it would be simultaneously instituted. Among barbarous people, in particular, this appears to have been an invariable occurrence. Other vibrations of the nervous fluid produce the passions of love, joy, &c.; and sounds capable of exciting these particular vibrations will immediately be formed into music for dances of another kind."*

As barbarous people have the strongest passions, so they are the most easiły affected by sounds, and the most addicted to dancing, whatever be the nature of the music by which it is accompanied. Mr. Gallini informs us, that the spirit of dancing prevails almost beyond imagination, among both men and women, in the greater part of Africa, in some districts of which it arises beyond a mere instinct, and may almost be termed a rage. Upon the Gold Coast, especially, the inhabitants are so passionately fond of it that in the midst of their hardest labour, if they hear a person sing or any musical instrument played, they cannot refrain froin dancing. There are even well-attested stories of some negroes flinging themselves at the feet of a European playing on the fiddle, entreating him to desist, unless he had a niind to tire them to death, as they could not cease dancing so long as he continued playing.

The same involuntary, we had almost said spasmodic, obedience of the limbs to certain sounds, is found to prevail among the American Indians, whose saltatory orgasms are even more uncouth and irrepressible than those of the Africans. They love every thing, says Gallini, that makes a noise, however harsh and dissonant. They will also hum over something like a rude tune, to which they dance thirty or forty in a circle, stretching out their hands and laying them on each other's shoulders, stamping and jumping, and using the most antic gestures for several hours, till they are heartily weary. But we need not refer to nations either barbarous or civilized to prove this instinctive connexion between certain vibrations and correspondent movements of the limbs, or to establish the pleasant intoxication of both the mind and body which dancing is calculated to produce. Singing and dancing have prevailed from the creation to the present time, says a very grave inquirer; and

* Encyclop. Brican. art. Dancing,

“ In utroque

they will continue, according to all appearances, till the destruction of our species.

How profane soever some may affect to consider this amusement as at present conducted, it was at first, and indeed during some thousand years, a religious ceremony, as we have already intimated in noticing the festivals of the Jews. Some commentators are of opinion, that every psalm had a distinct dance appropriated to it. Psalmo, nomine chori, intelligi posse cum certo instrumento homines ad sonum ipsius tripudiantes:"; In the temples of Jerusalem, Samaria, and Alexandria a stage for these exercises was erected in one part, thence called the choir, the name of which has been preserved in our churches, and the custom too till within a few centuries. The Cardinal Ximenes revived in his time the practice of Mosarabic masses in the cathedral at Toledo, when the people danced both in the choir and in the nave with great decorum and devotion. Le Père Menestrier, jesuit, relates the same thing of some churches in France, in. 1682 ; and Mr. Gal. lini tells us, that at Limoges, no long ago, the people used to dance the round in the choir of the church, which is under the invocation of their patron saint; and at the end of each psalm, instead of the Gloria Patri, they sang as follows: "St. Marcel! pray for us, and we will dance in honour of you.From these instances we may see, that the modern sect. of fanatics called jumpers, who seem to entertain the strange nation that he who leaps the highest is the nearest to heaven, have abused rather than invented the custom of religious dancing. Nor do we see why any motion of the body should be deemed incompatible with the feelings and offices of devotion. Considered as a mere expression of joy, dancing is no more a profanation than singing, or than simple speaking; nor can it be thought in the least more absurd that a Christian should dance for joy that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, than that David danced before the ark, when it was returned to him after a long absence. In these and similar cases the intention and the feeling, where they emanate from genuine piety, must be held to hallow the act.

The Egyptians had their solemn dances as well as the Jews; the principal, was their astronomical dance; of which the sacrilegious dance round the golden calf was an

imitation. From the Jews and Egyptians the practico passed into Greece, where the astronomic dance was adapted to the theatre, with chorus, strophe, antistrophe, epode, &c., as we have already remarked in referring to the origin of their drama. In the hands, or, as we should rather say, in the feet of this ingenious and highly civilized people, dancing, which among the barbarians was a mere ungovernable transport, became a regular art, by means of which, through the secret sympathies that cement sound and motion with feeling, any passion whatever could be excited in the minds of the beholders. In this way effects were produced upon the sensitive Greeks that to our colder temperaments appear almost incredible. At Athens, it is said, that the dance of the Eumenides, or Furies, upon the theatre, had so expressive a character as to strike the spectators with irresistible terror; men grown old in the profession of arms trembled; the multitude rushed out; women were thrown into fits; and many imagined they saw in earnest those terrible deities commissioned with the vengeance of heaven, to pursue and punish crimes upon earth. Piato and Lucian both speak of dancing as a divine invention, although in the instance just recorded it seems to have been perverted to purposes of a rather demoniacal nature.

Of the importance attached to this subject by the ancients we may judge from the fact that it engaged the serious attention of Plato, who reduces the dances of the Greeks to three classes. 1. The military dances, which tended to make the body robust, active, and well disposed for all the exercises of war. 2. The domestic dances, which had for their object an agreeable and innocent recreation and amusement, 3. The mediatorial dances, which were in use in expiations and sacrifices. The Spartans had invented the first for an early excitation of the courage of their children, and to lead them on insensibly to the exercise of the armed dance. This children's dance, which used to be executed in the public place, was composed of two choirs, the one of grown men, the other of children ; whence, being chiefly designed for the latter, it took its name. The choir of the children regulated their motions by those of the men, and all danced at the same time, singing the poems of Thales, Alcman, and Dionysadotus. The Pyrrhio dance was performed by young men, armed cap-à-pie, who exe

« السابقةمتابعة »