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Mirth and Dancing
Scottish Dancing


We differ from the English in respect of sport and games. Though we like to shoot and fish-especially to fish-we do not pride ourselves upon being a nation of sportsmen, nor on the moral attributes which such pride implies. Though we love to fish, especially when there's a bit of good poaching to be had, no Scot has found it worth while to sit down and write a book like Isaac Walton's. And though we are not bad at "Rugger" and make rather a point of golf, being capable of rivalling in the art of boredom on that subject the most enthusiastic of English cricketers, the national bent has always been for games like shinty, where fair play and rules are both less important than being the best man and getting the other man down. In three words, we don't see the need to make a song and dance of our games.

But we make good songs about other things and, as a race, we are dancers. Some of our songs are in this book. Our national dance of the reel, in its various forms, is as strenuous and as complicated and demands as much of athleticism and of grace as the national dances of the Russians. The reel cannot be taught by book, and English people find it hard to learn, even when they can pay for lessons. It is to be hoped that parties of holiday-makers will be able to form and go through Foursomes and Eightsomes of their own accord, and that they will often feel like doing so. Nothing is more warming of a cold night or more limbering to the tired muscles after a day's tramping. At the end of a shinty match the players always danced before they went to bed.

Some Simple Scottish Dances

For those who do not dance the reel, however, or for mixed companies containing some who do not, we give here clear (we trust) directions for eight Scottish country dances, which are the next best thing. They are all great fun, not least when differences of opinion arise as to correctness of procedure during their progress. In case anybody has a mouth-organ, tin whistle, fiddle, accordion, or comb rolled in tissue paper, we have given the correct tunes at the end of our musical anthology.




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