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Home > Early Dance Texts > A Very Fruitfull Exposition of the Commaundements

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A Very Fruitfull Exposition of the Commaundements...

-- The following are dance references from Gervase Babington's A very fruitfull exposition of the Commaundements by way of questions and answeres for greater plainnesse together with an application of euery one to the soule and conscience of man, profitable for all, and especially for them that (beeing not otherwise furnished) are yet desirous both to see themselues, and to deliuer to others some larger speech of euery point that is but briefly named in the shorter catechismes. London: printed by Henry Midleton for Thoma Charde, 1583.

-- The following section on dance is quoted from the Early English Books Online edition, which also has images of the original document. (link to full text.) The single dotted lines indicate page breaks, while the double lines indicate a different section of the text. Notes on the text originally in the margin have been incorporated in [ ]. I have excerpted dance-relevant sections. When the excerpt transcribed begins or ends part way through a page, this is indicated by the notation: <rest of page cut>. Dance terms have been highlighted in bold and red. -- E. F. Winerock

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Que. What is the cheefest thing which euery one ought to be most careful of, so long as they liue?

An. Euerie one ought to be most carefull of these two points, first and chiefely how to be saved in the day of iudgement, before Gods iudgement seate, and so to come to life euerlasting. Secondly howe to liue according to Gods

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holy will during our life, in which two pointes wholy standeth the glorie of God, so much as of man ought to bee sought for.

Que. How may the first be prooued?

[Note in marg: The first reason drawen of the vanitie of all things.]
Ans.
The great vanitie of all earthly things, which men so hunt after, doth showe, that our care shoulde not bee so much of these matters, as it is, but rather howe to haue our soules saued, when all these shall haue their end. For consider eue~ the chiefest desires of men seuerally, and sée how in the attaining of them there is no stayed comfort, and yet often doe men faile after much indeuour, and not attaine to them.

Que. What chiefe desires of men can you name vnto mee?

Ans. Mirth and ioy, a light and a chéerefull heart is greatly wished, [Note in marg: Mirth and ioy.] and sought for of all men, by Musicke, by iesters, by sportes, and playes, by much cost and many meanes as they can, and are able: neither is this simplie to bee condemned in all: yet heare what sentence the spirit of God hath giuen of it,

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by the mouth of his seruaunt, who tryed the same, and let his experience bee our knowledge. I said to my heart, saith he, goe to nowe, [Note in marg: Ecclesi. 2.1.] I will prooue thee with ioy, therefore take thou pleasure in pleasant things, and beholde this al-o is vanitie: I said of laughter thou art mad, and of ioy, what is this, that thou doest? And in another place. [Note in marg: 7.4.] Better it is to go into the house of mourning, than of feasting, because this is the ende of all men, and the liuing shall lay it to his heart. Anger is better than laughter, for by a sad looke the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning: but the heart of fooles is in the house of myrth.

Mille parit luctus mortalibus vna voluptas.

For euery ioy that man doeth here possesse,
A thousand woes his minde doe dayly presse.

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What an honor woulde I thinke it, if the Prince passing by among the great multitude, should spie mee out, call mee to him, imbrace me, speake kindly to me, take mee with him, place me by him, and so forth? Howe would my heart daunce hereat, and all men talke of my good hap? Now is the passing of a mortall Prince on earth like the comming of Iesus Christ in the cloudes?

Is the honour they can giue, comparable to that the Lorde of Lordes shall giue to his elect? O my heart féeleth what my pen cannot write, there is no comparison betwixt the persons, the places, the preferments, and therefore if the one so ioy mée, that for it I would take any paines, thrise dead is my heart within me, if to obtaine the other it bée not carefull.

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The fourth Commaundement.

Epigraph:

Remember that thou keepe holie the Sabaoth day.

Question.

WHat is the meaning of this commaundement?

Ans. Your booke answereth that the hallowing of the Sabaoth day, is to rest from our labours in our calling, and in one place to assemble our selues together, and with feare and reuerence to heare, marke and lay vp in our hearts the worde of GOD preached vnto vs, to pray altogether that which we vnderstande with one consent, and at the times appointed to vse the Sacramentes in fayth and repentaunce,

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and all our life long to rest from wickednesse, that the Lord by his holy spirit may worke in vs his good worke, and so begin in this life euerlasting rest.

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O happie is that man whose heart thinketh howe his seruant is bound to this commandement of kéeping holy the Sabaoth as well as hée, hath a soule to loose or saue as well as he, to be nourished with the foode of the

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word as well as he, and therefore thereon concludeth, he will neither sinne himselfe nor make his seruant sinne in breach of this or any other commandement. The third end of the Sabaoth we heard it was, that hereby might bee resembled in some sort our spirituall rest in heauen, wee ceasing from our owne workes, & dooing the will of God. But are we able to say, wee haue this doone? O miserable men ten thousand times if in this we should haue our desertes: for wherein or howe crucifie we the fleshe more on this day than any other, bridle the frowarde desires of the heart, restrayne our owne nature, and doe the will of God more on this day than any other? Alas our owne consciences crie vnto vs, we doe nothing lesse, wee drinke, wée eate, wée surfet, wee sweare, we play, we daunce, we whore, we walke and talke idlely, vainely, vncleanely and vngodlily: these are our workes on ye Sabaoth more commonly than any day in the wéeke else, and if this bee to resemble a spirituall rest, then in déede wee doe it, not otherwise.

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Thus stand wee therefore guiltie and gréeuously guiltie of this commaundement. So that if we had not a Sauiour who in our flesh had fulfilled this lawe and euerie one for vs, and appeased the wrath of God his father, iustly conceiued against our sinnes, neuer should we haue looked within his kingdome. And howe shall we bée better for all which he hath doone, but by séeing our passed sinne, and namely our fowle and carelesse abuse of this Sabaoth of our God, by lamenting the same euen from our hearte rootes, purposing vnfainedly to amend it hereafter, and euen euer while life endureth to bee more carefull to honour God on this day than we haue bin, and by stedfastly beléeuing in Christ, and for Christ, and by Christ, to haue all that is past forgiuen? This is the way to bee freed from the curse of this commandement, and all other which we so gréeuously haue transgressed, and therefore iustly deserued. O mercie great and marueilous, O nature swéete & patient of our God, who contenting himself with one day in seuen chiefely to be his,

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and yet robbed of the same also by vs vile wretches, notwithstanding til this day hath spared vs, whereas a thousand times & a thousand he might with great right haue destroyed vs either amongst our pottes, or in our daunces, or idle in our beds, asking vs if that were to halow his Sabaoth, or to honour his name to swill and to bibble, to leape, to walowe and tumble in bed, till it bée noone, with such like. Nowe doeth he speake, nowe doth he warne, nowe doth he admonish, loth to punishe vs if any saying will serue, as a most mercifull God, and if nowe we will not consider, learne and bee instructed, that our wayes heretofore haue not béene good, and therefore amend them, surely surely, if God be God, we shal tast his hand, for so great disobedience. Nowe the liuing God awake vs, and touch vs truely in this behalfe, mercifull father lay it neuer to our charge, for thy great mercies sake, wherewith wee haue gréeued thée touching this commandement, but increase our knowledge, increase our féeling, increase our conscience, carefullie

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to lyue and spende our dayes in thy feare and fauour, as thou mayest bee honoured, the power of thy worde magnifyed, our brethren mooued with good example, our selues saued in the great day, and this Sabaoth of thine for euer hereafter more carefully kept of vs, to the better performance of the former, for Christ his sake, Amen. Ame~.

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The seuenth Commaundement.

Epigraph:

Thou shalt not commit adulterie.

Question.

WHat is the meaning of this commaundement?

[margin: The act.]
Ans[wer]. First there is forbidden all adulterie, fornication, and other vncleanesse in our bodies (saith your booke) which néedeth no proofe besides the plaine wordes of the lawe, and that print which in his conscience euerie one carrieth about: yet hath the author added some for more strength against the frowarde, which I leaue to euerie one to read by the~selues.

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Que. Now then proceede I pray you to recite such other prouocations to the breach of this commaundement as you knowe.

Ans. These prophane & wanton stage playes or interludes, what an occasion they are of adulterie and vncleanenesse by gesture, by spéech, by conueyances, and deuises to attaine to so vngodly desires, the world knoweth with too much hurt by long experience. Vanities they are if we make the best of them, and the Prophet prayeth to haue his eies turned away by the Lorde from beholding such matter: Note in marg: Psal. 119. Euill wordes corrupt good manners, [Note in marg: 1. Cor. 15.] and they haue abundance. There is in them euer manie dangerous sightes, [Note in marg: 1. Thes. 5.22.] and wee must abstaine

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from al appearance of euill. They corrupt the eies with alluring gestures: the eyes, the heart: and the heart, the bodie, till al be horrible before the Lord. Histrionicis gestibus inquinantur omnia: (sayth Chrysostome) These players behauiour polluteth all thinges. And of their playes he saith, they are the feasts of Sathan, the inuentions of the deuill, &c. Councels haue decréeed verie sharply against them, and polluted bodies by these filthie occasions haue on their death beddes confessed the daunger of them, lamented their owne foule and gréeuous faulles, and left their warning for euer with vs to beware of them. But I referre you to them, that vpon good knowledge of the abominations of them, haue written largely & wel against them. If they be dangerous on the day time, more daungerous on the night certainely: if on a stage, & in open courtes, much more in chambers and priuate houses. For there are manie roumes beside that, where the play is, & peradue~ture the strangenes of the place & lacke of light to guide them, causeth

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errour in their way, more than good Christians should in their houses suffer.

Que. What else?

Ans. Dancing againe is in the number of vaine pastimes, and the allurements to vncleannesse, as much experience hath too wel proued. The scriptures checke it, the fathers mislike it, the cou~cels haue condemned it, & the proofe of Gods iudgementes vpon it biddeth vs beware. Instrumenta luxuriae tympana & tripudia, sayth one, the inticers to lust are pipinges and dancinges. Laquei sunt & scandala non solu~ saltatoribus, sed spectatoribus. They are snares and offences not onely to the actors, but also to ye beholders. [Note in marg: Iob. 21.11.] Iob noteth it as an olde practise of the deuil to occupy men withall, & as an ancient exercise of the wicked, that they should daunce. Vpon which wordes a godly writer sayeth: [Note in marg: Calu. serm. 80. vpon Iob.] that from the tabret and the flute, which in themselues are not vnlawefull, they come to dauncing, which is the chiefest mischiefe of all. For there is alway (sayth he) such vnchast behauiour in dauncing, that of it selfe, and as they abuse it, (to speake

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-he trueth in the worde) it is nothing else, but an inticement to whoredome. In the gospell the spirite of God noteth it in a wicked woman as an immodest thing, [Note in marg: Math. 14.] & of a damnable effect in her wicked father Herode to dance. And such as interpret the place are not afraide of these words, [Note in marg: Marlor. ex Calu.] that it was meretriciae lasci-iae turpis nota nubilis puellae saltatio. That is, that for her to dance beeing a maide for yeares mariageable, was a note of whorish wantonnesse. For whosoeuer (saith he) hath a care of honest grauitie, he euer condemneth dancing, and especially in a maide. Againe hee calleth it spectaculum familiae Regiae probrosum. A dishonorable sight in a kings house: with manie speaches moe of mislike. Sirac a wise man, [Note in marg: Syrac. 9.4.] and of great experience, biddeth a man not to vse the companie of a woman, that is a singer and a dauncer, neither to heare her, least hee bee taken with her craftinesse. The godlie Fathers as I saide mislike it. For saltatio ad adulteras, [Note in marg: Ambros. de virgin. lib. 3.] non ad pudicas pertinet, saith one of them: Dauncing belongeth to adulterous

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and not to honest women. A sharpe spéeche: Yet was this graue father not afraide to speake it. Saltatio barathrum diaboli, [Note in marg: Chryst. Math. hom. 48.] sayth an other: dauncing is the deuils hell. And we heare spéeche of Iacobs mariage (saith he) in the scripture, [Note in marg: in Genes.] but not a worde of anie dauncing that was at it. [Note in marg: Theophilact. in Mar. 6.] Mira collusio sayth an other, Saltat diabolus per puellam: It is a strange iugling, when wee thinke the maide doth daunce, and it is not so, but the deuill in her, or by her. The councels haue condemned it as others haue at large shewed. And verie Tullie could say, an honest man would not dance in an open place for a great patrimonie. For the iudgementes of God vpon this vaine pastime, it is strange which Pantaleon noteth out of Crantzius, that in Colbecke a towne in Germanie, certaine light persons hopping and dauncing in the Churchyearde of S. Magnus, [Note in marg: An. 1505.] beeing by the minister admonished to cease, and not ceasing, did for a long time (not able to stay) runne rounde about, and at last fell all downe dead. But because others haue so largelie

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writ against this vanitie, I say no more of it at this time, but wish vs to consider that it is an inticement otten to adulterie, and therefore in this commaundement forbidden. And as for anie dauncing that wee reade of in the scriptures to haue béene vsed of the godly, we must vnderstande, that their dancing was euer a sober modest motion, with some song vsually to Gods praise, and men by themselues, women by themselues. Which nothing will warrant our custome and guise in these daies.

Que. Are there yet anie moe allurementes?

Ans. There are yet many mo. But I may not in this sort stande vpon them. Gluttonie & drunkennesse, Note in marg: Ezek 16. with houses of open whoredome, your booke nameth and proofes for them. Idlenesse also is an other meanes, [Note in marg: 1. Cor. 7.39.] the vowe of chastitie, the deniall of seconde mariages, the going of men in womens apparell, and women in mans apparell, [Note in marg: Deut. 22.] with a number such. This onelie must I say, and so conclude this negatiue part of

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the commaundement, [Note in marg: For he that will no euill do, must nothing doe that longs thereto.] looke whatsoeuer, it is, that we can sée to bee anie allurement, anie occasion, or meanes to vncleannesse, all that is condemned in this commaundement as much as the verie act of adulterie, which heere onely is expressed. Then howe the holie Pope of Rome can warrant by the worde of God the erection and continuaunce of his stewes, iudge you, although his gaine be neuer so much thereby. Nay howe could that monster Sixtus the fourth warrant the erection of a stewes of both kindes, [Note in marg: In king Edwarde 4.] that is both of women and men, whereby 20000 and some yeares 40 thousande ducketes came to his coffers? Or the whole Church of Rome so like of, and so diminish the sinne of fornication? Can this their spirite that guideth them, be the spirite of GOD, when it condemneth not the act, whereof God condemneth all occasions and allurementes? No, no, the Lorde giue vs eies, and then haue we markes sufficient to bewray them by.

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An vnchast looke make- an vnchast heart, and a rouing tongue beyonde the listes of godlinesse ere eue- we well knowe what we doe. So subtill is the sinne that this way créepeth into our soules. Apparell is next, a most fearefull allurement to the breache o- this commaundement both in thought and déede, if God once in mercie would open our eyes. So are these stage playes and most horrible spectacles, so is our dauncing, which at this day is vsed, so is drunkennesse, gluttonie and idlenesse, with a number such like, as can witnesse eche one in the world that will weigh them. Nowe what care we haue had of these things the Lord knoweth, and to our profite if we list a litle we may consider it. Our eyes O Lorde, howe doe they offend through our carelesse bestowing of them to their owne desire? Where is the testimonie of truth within vs, that we doe restraine them so soone as euer wee perceiue anie tickling motion arise by them? Where is the counterpane of that bande we haue taken of them that they shall not cause

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[Illegible word] to offende? Iob did it, and yet wee -eaker than hee ten thousande times -hinke it néedelesse. Alas our folly, [Note in marg: Iob. 31.1.] alas -ur security! By this meanes our soules [...]rk in their bane, & yet we care not nor -ilbe warned. The Lord of his mercie [...]ue vs once the grace to desire it with -auid and verie hartily to beg it, [Note in marg: Psalm. 11.] yt our [...]es may be euer turned away from be-olding vanitie. For the rest which fol-owe consider the~ well, & let neuer Sa-han or selfeloue so stil bewitch vs, that -e cannot be brought to sée our sin. In -ehauiour or spéech haue we neuer offe~-ed? But euer in them both so vsed our -elues, as yt neither we nor they whom -e delt withall may be charged of more -ightnesse, than became ye professors of Christ and his worde? Haue wee neuer-ransgressed in matter or forme of apparel? O yt we could say it. But in truth we can not. For the contraries abounding in the eies of al men would giue vs the lie. Light behauiour and alluring -aliance is euerie where accompted comelie bouldnesse, [Note in marg: Behauiour. ]and good bringing vp: [Note in marg: Speech.] discoursing spéeche to a vaine ende

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we count a quality commendable in vs, and the want of it we estéeme simplicitie, wheresoeuer we sée it. And therefore by bookes to such endes set out, we endeuour to attaine vnto it, and hauing once polluted our spéech (for I will neuer call it polishing) we are neuer better than when we haue company to bestowe our tales and gréetinges vppon. Our apparell in matter to our power we make sumptuous, [Note in marg: Apparell.] and in forme to allure the eye asmuch as wee can. If this be true, in the name of Christ let vs better thinke of it than we haue done. These are allurementes to sinfull lust, and this lawe of God forbiddeth not onely both act and thought, but euen euerie allurement to either of them. What should I speake of stage plaies and dauncing? Can we say in trueth before the maiestie of God that we carefullie abstaine from these thinges, because they tickle vs vp either more or lesse to the breach of this commanndement? Alas we cannot a number of vs. But we runne to the one continually to our cost, [Note in marg: Playes.] when we will not be drawen

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to better exercises that are offered fréely, we sucke in the venom of them with great delight, and practise the spéeches and conueyances of loue which there we sée and learne. [Note in marg: Dauncing.] The other wee vse with especiall pleasure, and God being witnesse to many an one, they wish the fruite of their dauncing to be this, euen the fall of them selues and others into the breache of this lawe.

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Ther- was a litle tittle tattle, when time wa- they say betwixt the grashopper and th- pismire, and we may laugh at it, & ye- looke better about vs as admonished b- it. The grashopper hauing passed th- summer ouer merily, as her custom- is singing and tuning the notes of [Illegible word] thoughtlesse minde vnder euerie leafe at last when winter came on, begann- to shake, and to goe to bedde with a- emptie bellie manie a night, to the great weakening of her liuely limmes and the quite marring of all her mu-sicke. To steale shée refuseth of he- honest nature, and to begge shee i- ashamed for feare to be mocked. Ye- néede maketh the olde wife trotte-r they say, and modestie in this hungri-

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[...]eature must yéelde to necessitie. To [Illegible word] therefore shée goeth, and hauing a -ealthie neighbour not farre off, that [Illegible word] laboured sore all summer, and [...]de vppe much good vitaile, to her [Illegible word] commeth, and craueth some suc[...]ur at her hande. Who by and by [...]maunded of her what shee did all [...]mmer? Alas (sayeth the grashop[...]r) I sung and litle remembred -is change. Did you so (sayth the [...]t) in déede did you sing all sum-er? Nowe trust me, for mee, you all daunce all winter, for I liue [Illegible word] my labour, and I will neuer main[...]ine idlenesse in anie. Thus re[...]iued slouth a checke, when it loo[...]d for helpe, and wee warned by it [...]ay learne this morall, to labour [...]ast we lacke. Optimum obsonium [-pectute labor, (sayth one) They are -ood refreshinges in our age the wel-estowed trauelles of our youth. Single illegible lettereares passe, and strength fayles, [...]tte nothing in youth, and haue [...]thing in age. But O care[...]sse heartes of ours, and headie will,

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who can perswade this, or beate it into the heades of young men, and maydes of seruantes, and such as are commin- on? No, no, we will hoppe and daunce tipple and drinke, banket and reuel- what counsell soeuer is giuen vs to th- contrarie, with that litle we haue, an- sing care away. And a litlegaie apparell on the backe, is worth much mone- in the chest. But wise is he whome other mens harmes can cause to tak- héede. Sicknesse may come, and euer- maister will not keepe a sicke seruant, mayme may fall to vs, and wee the- may heare it, I haue no wages vnles- you could worke, many thinges ma- happen, and a mans owne is his own- and great is gods blessing to faithfu- labour, as trulie his plagues are no- litle or rare to idlenesse and slouth.

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