One part of the gleeman's profession, as early as the tenth century, was, teaching animals to dance, to tumble, and to put themselves into variety of attitudes, at the command of their masters.
This engraving is the copy of a curious though rude delineation, being little more than an outline, which exhibits a specimen of this pastime. The principal joculator appears in the front, holding a knotted switch in one hand, and a line attached to a bear in the other; the animal is lying down in obedience to his command; and behind them are two more figures, the one playing upon two flutes or flageolets, and elevating his left leg while he stands upon his right, supported by a staff that passes under his armpit; the other dancing, in an attitude exceedingly ludicrous. This performance takes place upon an eminence resembling a stage made with earth; and in the original a vast concourse are standing round it in a semicircle as spectators of the sport, but they are so exceedingly ill drawn, and withal so indistinct, that I did not think it worth the pains to copy them. The dancing, if I may so call it, of the flute player, is repeated twice in the same manuscript.
- The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England from the Earliest Period to the Present Time
By Joseph Strutt
Available from gutenberg.org
- Posted on
- Sunday 30 August 2020