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Home > Early Dance Texts > A Booke of Notes and Common Places

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A Booke of Notes and Common Places

-- The following are dance references from John Merbecke's A Booke of Notes and Common Places, 1581. The sections on dance are quoted from the facsimile of the copy held by the Huntington Library, available online from Early English Books Online (EEBO). (link to full text.) -- E. F. Winerock

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DAVNCING.

How Dauncing is a cursed mirth.

THe wicked runne after the Tabor and the Flute, &c. ¶It is true, [Note in marg: Iob. 21. 12] that the Flute and the Tabor and such other like things are not to be condemned, simplie of their owne nature: but onelie in respect of mens abusing of them, for most commonlie they peruerte the good vse of them: For certainlie, the Tabor doth not sooner sound to make men merrie, but there is alwaies lightlie some vanitie, I saie not supersticious, but beastlie. For behodle men are so caried awaie, as they cannot sport themselues with moderate mirth, but they fling themselues into the aire, as though they would leape out

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of themselues. This then Iob ment to note héere a cursed mirth, & a mirth that God condemned. Wherby we ought to take warning, to restrain our selues from such loose & wanton pastimes, but let vs rather aduisedlie restraine our selues, and set God alwaies before our eies, to the ende that he maie blesse our mirth, and we so vse his benefites, as we maie neuer cease to trauell vp to heauen ward. Thus you sée it behooueth vs to applie all our mirth to this ende, namelie, that there maie be a melodie founding in vs, whereby the name of God maie be blessed and glorified in our Lord Iesus Christ, &c.
Cal. vpon Iob. fol. 373.


Against Dauncing vsed in these daies.

As it is lawfull to sing, and we vse singing to giue thankes vnto God, & to celebrate the praises, so also by a moderate dauncing, we maie testifie the ioie and mirth of the minde. For Dauid publikelie daunced before the Arke of the Lorde, and the Maidens with daunces and songs, celebrated his victorie against Goliah. Maria also sister of Moses when PharSingle illegible lettero was oSingle illegible lettererthrowen and slaine, led daunces with other women, & sung a song of victorie. Wherefore seeing holie men and chaft women vsed daunces, we cannot saie that of their owne nature they be vicious. But as it is vsed in these daies that men should daunce mingled together with women, ought not to be suffered, because that those things are nourishments and prouokers of wantonnesse & lusts. Maria the sister of Moses daunced not with young men, but apart by hir selfe among women. Neither Dauid daunced with women: and maidens which celebrated his victorie daunced among themselues, and not with men.
Per. Mar. vpon Iudic. fol. 286.

What Daunces are honest, and what euill.

Let vs remember, that although honest Matrimonies, are sometimes brought to passe by dauncing, yet much more are adulteries and fornications wont to followe of their spectacles. We ought to followe the examples of godlie fathers, who now and then vsed daunces, but yet such as wer moderate and chast, so that the men daunced by themselues, and the women aparte by themselues: by such kinde of daunces they shewed forth the gladnesse of their mindes, they sang praises vnto God, and gaue him thankes for some notable beneSingle illegible letterite, which they had receiued. But we read not in holie Scripture of mingled daunces of men

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and women together. But our men saie: who can daunce after that sort? In saieng so, they vtter themselues, what they séeke for in dauncing.
Pet. Mar. vpon Iudic. fol. 287.

Augustine [Note in marg: Augustin] against Petilianus the 6. chapter. The Bishops (saith he) were alwaies wont to restraine idle and wantonne dauncings. But now a daies there are some Bishoppes which are present at daunces, and doe daunce together with women, so farre are they off to restraine this vice. The same Augustine, vpon the 32. Psal. (when he expoundeth these wordes of the Psalter, Of ten strings I will sing vnto thée) maketh these ten strings the ten Commaundements: and when he had spoken somewhat of one of them, at last he commeth to the Sabboth daie. I saie not (saith he) to liue delicatelie, as the Iewes were wont. For it is better to digge all the whole daie, then to daunce on the Sabboth daie.
Pe. Mar. vpon Iudic. fo. 287.

Chrisostome [Note in marg: Chrisosto~.] in his 56. Homelie vpon Genesis, when he entreateth of the mariages of Iacob. Ye haue heard (saith he) of mariages, but not of daunces, which he there calleth diuelish: and he hath manie things in the same place on our side. And among other he writeth. The Bridegroome and the Bride are corrupted by dauncing, and the whole Familie is defiled. Againe in the 48. Homelie: Thou séest (saith he) mariages, but thou seest no daunces, for at that time they were not so lasciuious, as they be now a daies. And he hath manie things of the 14. chapter of Mathew, where he spake vnto the people of the dauncing of the Daughter of Herodias, & amongst other things he saith: At this daie Christians do deliuer to destruction not halfe their Kingdome, not another mans head, but euen their owne soules. And he addeth, that whereas is wanton dauncing, there the [H] Diuell daunceth together with them, &c.
Pet. Mar. vpon Iudic. fol. 287.

Dauncing taken in good part.

Thou hast turned my mourning into dauncing. [Note in marg: Psa. 30. 11.] ¶By the word Dauncing, there is not meant euerie manner wantonnes or Ruffianlie leaping and frisking: but a sober and holie vtteraunce of gladnesse, such as the holie Scripture maketh mention of, when Dauid conuaied the Arke of Couenaunt into his place.
Caluine.

What the Ethnikes opinion was of Dauncing.

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Aemilius Probus in Single illegible letterhe life of Epa[...] ondas, saith: that undefined span of illegible text sing and to daunce, was not verie honourable among the Romanes, when the Grecians had it in great estimation. SalustSingle illegible letter in Cantilinario writeth, that Sempronia a certaine lasciuious and vnchast woman, was taught to sing and daunce, more elegantlie then became an honest [illeg.] matrone and there he calleth these two things, the instruments of lecheSingle illegible letterid. Cicero in his booke of Offices writeth, that an honest and good man will not daunce in the market place, although he might by that meanes come to great possessions. And in his Oration which he made, after his returne into the Senate, he calleth Aulus Oab[...]us his enimie in reproth, SaSingle illegible letteror CalSingle illegible letterstr[...]us, that is, The fine Dauncer. It was obiected to Lucius Aurona for a fault, because he had daunced in AsiaSingle illegible letter The same thing also was obiected vnto y^Single illegible letter king Deiotarus. Cicero aunswereth for Murena: No man daunceth being sober, vnlesse peraduenture he be mad, neither in the wildernesse, neither yet at a moderate & honest banket. The same Cicero in Philippi[...]s vpbraideth vnto Autonie, among otherSingle illegible letter his vices, Dauncing.
Pet. Mar. vpon Iudic. fol. 287.

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Updated 10 March, 2015