Trenchmore & The Cushion Dance

“In Queen Eliz: time, Gravitie and state was kept upp. In King James time things were pretty well. But in K. Charles time there has binn nothing but Trenchmore & the Cushion dance, Omnium gatherum, tolly polly, hoyte come toyte.”

The Table-Talk Of John Selden (1689)

Apropos Brit’s history of Britain 1939-2010 in seventy-seven words, clearly things have been going to pot for a long, long time. Tolly polly and hoyte come toyte indeed! What fresh hell will yet assail us?

ADDENDUM : In 1652, John Evelyn complained of “the depraved youth of England, whose prodigious disbaucheries and late unheard of extravagancies far surpasse the madnesse of all other civilized Nations whatsoever”.

3 thoughts on “Trenchmore & The Cushion Dance

  1. It’s a curious thing, but yes, we have always been going to hell in a handcart.

    That’s prime ‘table-talk’ by the way. I took the liberty of looking up the ‘Trenchmore’ and found that it is “a longways dance for as many as will.” And here’s how you do it:

    Up a double and back, two times. The first couple casts off and leads down the outside, followed by everyone else, and back up the center to place.

    Arched hey: All take hands; the first couple faces down, and goes under an arch made by the second couple, then over the third couple, and so forth all the way down and back, followed by all the other couples. When each couple reaches the end they turn around.

    When the first couple returns to the top, they stop; when every one else returns to their original position, they stop as well.

    First couple turns by the right in the center, then by the left with the twos, then by the right in the center, and so on down the entire line.

    Simple as that. I shall schedule a round of the Trenchmore for ‘as many as will’ at the first annual Dabbler dinner, when and if that happens.

  2. Brit : Many thanks for that. I was intrigued by one detail from the linked document you didn’t mention:

    “It is not necessary to stay synchronized to the music for this dance”, apparently. Thus there is hope for those of us who are Terpsichorean imbeciles.

    And what of the Cushion dance???

  3. I assumed at first that the ‘Cushion dance’ was a euphemism for hanky-panky, but in fact it is ‘an old Round dance’ also known as ‘Joan Sanderson’.

    Joan Sanderson, or the Cushion Dance.
    This dance is begun by a single person (either man or Woman), who, taking a cushion in his hand, dances about the room*, and at the end of the tune he stops and sings:

    “This dance it will no farther go.”
    The musician answers: “I pray you, good sir, why say you so?”
    Man: “Because Joan Sanderson will not come too.”
    Musician: “She must come too, and she shall come too, and she must come 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, taking up the cushion, and both dance singing:
    “Prinkumprankum is a fine dance, and shall we go dance it once again, and once again, and shall we go dance it once again”

    *presumably freestyle.

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