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Robin is lamenting that it was a fortnight and more since he had seen his Saviour, or, in other words, since he had heard

Under the influence of this prick of conscience he determines, that, with the might of mild Mary,' he would go that day to Nottingham, in order to join in the solemn services of Pentecost. He does so, and is recognised and betrayed by a

great headed monk,' whom he had once relieved of a hundred pounds. The gates of the town are closed, and, after an ineffectual defence, Robin is thrown into prison; and the false monk is dispatched to the King with tidings of the capture of the celebrated outlaw. Little John and Much waylay the monk on his journey to London, slay him and his little attendant page, and themselves proceed to London with his letters. The King directs that Robin Hood shall be brought into his presence, and sends an order by the hands of Little John and his companion to that effect, to the Sheriff of Nottingham. On their arrival at Nottingham, they are entertained with the honour due to royal messengers; but

« When the Sheriff was on sleep,

Drunken of wine and ale,' Little John and Much betake themselves to the jail, kill the jailer, and release their leader. They all fly to the green-wood, and the ballad ends by the pardon of Little John for having beguiled both King and Sheriff, on the ground of his clannish fidelity to Robin Hood. Not a word is said in condemnation of the murders.

A second rhyme of Robin Hood,' which is derived from another manuscript, also in the public library at Cambridge, is probably of about the same age as the last. Ritson assigned it to the reign of Henry VII. Mr Wright would transfer it to Henry VI., on the strength of a memorandum on one page, setting forth the expenses of the feast on the marriage of the King with Margaret—“Thys ys exspences of fesche at the mariage of my ladey Margaret, that sche had owt of Englonde ;' but surely this memorandum is more likely to apply to my • Lady Margaret,' daughter of Henry VII., who was married

out of England,' that is, in Scotland, to James IV., than to the Margaret who was married in England' to Henry VI. The poem details the adventures of Robin Hood and the Potter.' After the usual trials of skill, with quarterstaff and sword, in which Robin is worsted, he changes clothes with the Potter, buys his stock in trade, and, thus disguised, adventures into Nottingham. By offering his pots at an underprice, he soon clears his board of all but five, which he presents to the Sheriff's wife. This act of liberality is rewarded by an invitation to dinner.


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At the Sheriff's table Robin learns that a great trial of skill in archery is about to take place that afternoon. He attends, and surpasses all competitors. By way of accounting for his skill, he professes to have practised with Robin Hood, under his tor‘tyll,' that is, his twisted tree.' The Sheriff expresses a wish to see the famous outlaw. The Potter offers to be his guide; leads him into the depth of the forest, and, at one blast of his horn, surrounds the astonished functionary by the well-known band. The Sheriff is compelled to leave behind him his horse, and all his other gear,' and is glad to make a safe retreat upon any terms; while Robin, with his accustomed courtesy to the fair sex, sends home, as a present to the wife of the insulted Sheriff, a white palfrey,

which ambles like the wind.' • Robyn and Gandelyn,' which is another of the old manuscript rhymes' included in Mr Gutch's collection, does not seem to refer to Robin Hood. The names mentioned in it, and also the story it tells, are inconsistent with all the other ballads of this series. With the exception of a fragment of • Robin Hood and

the Old Man, published by Jamieson, (Popular Ballads, ii. 49,) • Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne,' first published by Percy from his folio MS., is the only additional manuscript rhyme of Robin Hood, which has any pretension to antiquity. This clever, and in some parts even elegant poem, details a fierce contest between Robin Hood and a person named Guy of Gisborne, who had sworn to apprehend the outlaw, and was roaming the forest in search of him, habited in “a capull hyde,' which is said to mean a horse's hide,

Top and tail and mane.' Robin is successful in the encounter. Guy is slain ; his body is barbarously mangled with an Irish knife;' and Robin clothes himself in the capull hyde,' and takes possession of his enemy's born. Thus accoutred he proceeds towards Barnsdale, where in the mean time his men had had an encounter with the Sheriff ; several of them had been killed, and Little John was bound fast to a tree. Robin Hood, in ignorance of what had taken place, blew a loud blast on Guy's horn, which was recognised by the Sheriff, and, when he saw the wearer of the capull hyde 'stalk down the glen, he concluded that Guy bad slain Robin Hood. It was not until Little John had been set at liberty, that the Sheriff discovered his mistake, and fled full fast away. '

These are all the rhymes of Robin Hood' which have any right (so far as respects external evidence) to be looked upon as of any considerable antiquity; and it is possible that they are some of the very rhymes alluded to in Piers Ploughman. The invention of printing soon put the story on a more permanent footing.


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Wynkyn de Worde sent forth from his new shop in Fleet Street, perhaps in the year 1500, ' A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode and his meyné, and of the proude Sheryfe of Notyngham.'* This is á ballad romance in eight fyttes, or books, and, in point of poetical merit, may fairly rank with the best compositions of its class. Robin is here again introduced in his character of a religious freebooter. We are told that he heard three masses every day before dinner; the third, which was his especial delight, being in honour of our dear Lady' Such, indeed, was his love for

. . the Virgin, that he never harmed any company in which there chanced to be a woman. Equally careful was he that no damage should be done to any husbandman that tylleth with his plough,' nor to any good yeoman, nor to any knight or squire that

wolde be a good felowe.' But, in spite of his attachment to religious observances, there existed in his mind a wide distinction between the services of the church, and its ministers. His vengeance was guided by a kind of puritanical aversion to all clerical dignitaries. A fat abbot, or the steward of a monastery, was nuts to him, as the woodland saying is; and the higher the dignitaries, the worse they fared with him. These bishops and • these archbishops '—such is Robin's charge to his followers

"Ye shall them beat and bind.' The Lytell Geste' informs us, that in the execution of their accustomed roving commission, Little John and two of his companions waylay a knight who is passing through the forest—a melancholy, miserable man, a very representative of Him of the Sorrowful Countenance. He willingly agrees to accompany the rovers to their master. Robin entertains him at dinner sumptuously; swans, pheasants, and other delicacies, smoke upon the outlaw's board. The feast being concluded, the knight prepares to depart. •Pay ere you wend l' says Robin ; . It was never the

! custom for a yeoman to pay for a knight.' The knight confesses, with humiliation, that he has but ten shillings in his coffers. Go look,' says Robin to Little John, and then addressing the knight, if you have no more, I will not have a penny'. The search confirms the knight's veracity;, and leads to friendly inquiries on the part of Robin Hood as to the cause of the knight's poverty." • For a hundred winters,' the unhappy man

* A copy of this book, believed to be unique, exists in that library which we have already several times had occasion to niention, and which is pre-eminently rich in matters relating to Robin Hood—the public library of the University of Cambridge. It has been reprinted twice; by Ritson in bis Robin Hood collection, and now again by Mr Gutch, who gives also a modern version by the Rev. John Eagles.



explains, his ancestors had been knights,' and, within the last two or three years, he himself had possessed an income of four bundred pounds a-year, as his neighbours well • kende.' But his son had the misfortune to kill a Lancashire knight, and also a squire, in a joust; and the father's goods had been sette and

6 solde,' and his lands pledged to the abbot of St Mary's for four hundred pounds, to pay the penalty of his son's mishap. The day for repayment of the loan was close at hand, and the knight, being unprovided with the money, already sees his estate pass from him. Robin inquires, who would be the knight's surety he were to advance the sum. The knight acknowledges that he is as much at a loss for friends as money. He can offer no surety save Our Lady, who had never failed him before. Too much cannot be done for a friend of Our Lady's! Robin protests, that, if all England were sought through, a better surety could not be found ; and the knight is immediately provided not only with

l money, but with garments, a horse, and a trusty squire in the person of Little John. The whole band enter beart and soul into their master's feelings. They weep over the knight's misfortunes, and supply his wants with more than their master's liberality. Thus drops the curtain at the end of fytte the first.

The second fytte transports us to St Mary's abbey ; where the abbot is chuckling over the absence of the knight, and the anticipated forfeiture of his lands. The prior entreats his superior to show a little pity, but his merciful promptings are scornfully rejected by the abbot, and by a fat-headed monk, no less a person than the high cellarer. The fatal day arrives; and a court is held for the condemnation of the land with proper legal formality. In the midst of the proceedings the knight knocks at the gate. He enters clad in simple weeds, and humbly entreats the monks to grant him a longer day. The abbot insists upon his bond; he will have his money or the land. The high justice interferes as mediator

• What wyll ye gyve more ?' said the justice,

And the knight shall make a release ; And elles dare I safly swere

• Ye never hold your lande in pees.' · An hundred pounde,' sayd the abbot,

The justice said, “Give him two.'
Nay, be God l' sayd the knight,

• Yet gete ye it not soo :
Though ye

wolde gyve a thousande more, • Yet were ye never the nere ; Sball there never be myn eyre

• Abbot, justyse, ne frere. VOL. LXXXYI. NO. CLXXIII.


He sterte hym to a horde anone,

Tyll a table rounde,
And there he shoke, out of a bagge,

Even four hundred pounde. His debt thus paid, the knight takes leave of the chagrined abbot—he went hym forthe full mery syngynge, as men have

told the tale,' and living to himself at home, contrives in time to get together the sum which his benefactor had advanced. He equips himself also with a splendid present of bows and arrows, and on the appointed day, rides out, with a light song’ and a merry heart, on his way to Barnsdale.

The third fytte relates the adventures of Little John, who, straying into Nottingham, attracts the attention of the Sheriff by his skill in archery, and, with the knight's consent, enters into the Sheriff's service for one year, under the name of Reynold Greenleaf. After a time, it befel upon a Wednesday,' that, in the absence of the Sheriff, Little John raises a disturbance in the house, and, after a certain amount of quarrels and broken heads, the Sheriff's cook and Little John run away, and betake themselves to the green-wood, carrying off with them their master's plate and ready money, 'three hundred pound and three.' They have scarcely joined Robin Hood, when Little John bethinks him of a wile.' The Sheriff is encountered on his return home, beguiled into the forest, and delivered over to the enemy's party. He is served at supper off his own plate, stripped to his breech and shirt, kept all night in most uncomfortable plight, and is dismissed on the morrow upon taking an oath never to lie in wait for Robin Hood. by water ne by londe,' and, if any of the troop fall into his custody, 'to help them that he may.'

In the fourth fytte the fat-headed high-cellarer of St Mary's, while travelling with a large sum of money in his mail, is unlucky enough to fall into the power of these outlaws: who lose no time in exercising, at his expense, the ancient equitable jurisdiction by which they were wont to give relief against the hardships of the law and the abuses of property. The cellarer protests that he has but twenty marks. Little John searches and finds eight hundred pounds on him. Robin Hood declares that the money is sent by Our Lady; who, with her accustomed goodness, has doubled the sum which he had lent the knight. The monk is dismissed in high dudgeon, refusing a stirrup-cup at his departure, and vowing that he might have dined • better cheap' at Blyth or Doncaster. The fytte concludes with the arrival of the knight. Robin accepts his presents; but tells him that Our Lady had already paid back the amount of the loan by her cellarer, together with another four hundred pounds, of which he begs the knight's acceptance in return.

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