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The Project Gutenberg EBook of English and Scottish Ballads, Volume V (of
8), by Francis James Child

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Title: English and Scottish Ballads, Volume V (of 8)

Editor: Francis James Child

Release Date: May 5, 2012 [EBook #39627]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Simon Gardner, Dianna Adair, Louise Davies and
the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
generously made available by the Digital & Multimedia
Center, Michigan State University Libraries.)

Transcriber's Notes

Archaic, dialect and inconsistent spellings have been retained as in the original.Typographical errors such as wrongly placed line numbers, punctuation or inconsistent formatting have been corrected without comment. Where changes have been made to the wording these are listed at the end of the book.

Footnotes are numbered in sequence throughout the book and presented at the end of the section or ballad in which the footnote anchor appears. Notes with reference to ballad line numbers are presented at the end of each ballad and the presence of a note is indicated by links in the text.

[Pg i]





[Pg ii]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by Little, Brown and Company, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.


[Pg iii]


 Introduction. Robin Hoodvii
1.Robin Hood and the Monk1
2 a.Robin Hood and the Potter17
2 b.Robin Hood and the Butcher33
3.Robyn and Gandelyn38
4.A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode42
5.Adam Bel, Clym of the Cloughe, and Wyllyam of Cloudeslé124
6.Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne159
7.The Birth of Robin Hood170
8 a.Rose the Red, and White Lilly173
8 b.The Wedding of Robin Hood and Little John184
9 a.Robin Hood and the Beggar187
9 b.The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield, with Robin Hood, Scarlet, and John204
9 c.Robin Hood and the Ranger207
9 d.Robin Hoods Delight211
9 e.Robin Hood and Little John216
9 f.Robin Hood and the Tanner223
9 g.Robin Hood and the Tinker230
9 h.Robin Hood and the Shepherd238
9 i.Robin Hood and the Peddlers243
9 k.The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood248
9 l.Robin Hood and the Beggar, Part I251
10 a.Robin Hood and the Beggar, Part II255
10 b.Robin Hood and the Old Man[Pg iv]257
10 c.Robin Hood rescuing the Widows three Sons261
10 d.Robin Hood rescuing the three Squires267
11.Robin Hood and the Curtall Fryer271
12.Robin Hood and Allin-a-Dale278
13.Robin Hoods rescuing Will Stutly283
14.Robin Hoods Progress to Nottingham290
15.Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford294
16.Robin Hood and the Bishop298
17.Robin Hoods Golden Prize303
18.Robin Hoods Death and Burial308
19.Robin Hood and Queen Katherine312
20.Robin Hoods Chase320
21.Little John and the Four Beggers325
22.The Noble Fisherman, or, Robin Hoods Preferment329
23.Robin Hood and the Tanners Daughter334
1.Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valour, and Marriage343
2.A True Tale of Robin Hood353
3.Robin Hood and Maid Marian372
4.The Kings Disguise and Friendship with Robin Hood376
5.Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow383
6.Robin Hood and the Valiant Knight388
7.The Birth of Robin Hood392
8.Rose the Red, and White Lillie396
9.Robin Hood and the Stranger404
10.Robin Hood and the Scotchman418
11.The Playe of Robyn Hode420
12.Fragment of an Interlude (?) of Robin Hood428
13.By Lands-dale hey ho431
14.In Sherwood livde stout Robin Hood433
15.The Song of Robin Hood and his Huntesmen434

[Pg v]


[Pg vii]


There is no one of the royal heroes of England that enjoys a more enviable reputation than the bold outlaw of Barnsdale and Sherwood. His chance for a substantial immortality is at least as good as that of stout Lion Heart, wild Prince Hal, or merry Charles. His fame began with the yeomanry full five hundred years ago, was constantly increasing for two or three centuries, has extended to all classes of society, and, with some changes of aspect, is as great as ever. Bishops sheriffs, and game-keepers, the only enemies he ever had, have relinquished their ancient grudges, and Englishmen would be almost as loath to surrender his exploits as any part of the national glory. His free life in the woods, his unerring eye and strong arm, his open hand and love of fair-play, his never-forgotten courtesy, his respect for women and devotion to Mary, form a picture eminently healthful and agreeable to the imagination, and commend him to the hearty favor of all genial minds.[Pg viii]

But securely established as Robin Hood is in popular esteem, his historical position is by no means well ascertained, and his actual existence has been a subject of shrewd doubt and discussion. "A tale of Robin Hood"[1] is an old proverb for the idlest of stories, yet all the materials at our command for making up an opinion on these questions are precisely of this description. They consist, that is to say, in a few ballads of unknown antiquity. These ballads, or others like them, are clearly the authority upon which the statements of the earlier chroniclers who take notice of Robin Hood are founded. They are also, to all appearances, the original source of the numerous and widespread traditions concerning him; which, unless the contrary can be shown, must be regarded, after what we have observed in similar cases, as having been suggested by the very legends to which, in the vulgar belief, they afford an irresistible confirmation.

Various periods, ranging from the time of Richard the First to near the end of the reign of Edward the Second, have been selected by different writers as the age of Robin Hood; but (excepting always the most ancient ballads, which may possibly be placed within these limits) no mention what[Pg ix]ever is made of him in literature before the latter half of the reign of Edward the Third. "Rhymes of Robin Hood"[2] are then spoken of by the author of Piers Ploughman, (assigned to about 1362,) as better known to idle fellows than pious songs, and from the manner of the allusion it is a just inference that such rhymes were at that time no novelties. The next notice is in Wyntown's Scottish Chronicle, written about 1420, where the following lines occur—without any connection, and in the form of an entry—under the year 1283.

"Lytil Jhon and Robyne Hude
Waythmen ware commendyd gude:
In Yngilwode and Barnysdale
Thai oysyd all this time thare trawale."[3]

At last we encounter Robin Hood in what may be called history; first of all in a passage of the[Pg x] Scotichronicon, often quoted, and highly curious as containing the earliest theory upon this subject. The Scotichronicon was written partly by Fordun, canon of Aberdeen, between 1377 and 1384, and partly by his pupil Bower, abbot of St. Columba, about 1450. Fordun has the character of a man of judgment and research, and any statement or opinion delivered by him would be entitled to respect. Of Bower, not so much can be said. He largely interpolated the work of his master, and sometimes with the absurdest fictions.[4] Among his interpolations,[5] and forming, it is important to observe, no part of the original text, is a passage translated as follows.[6] It is inserted immediately after Fordun's account of the defeat of Simon de Montfort, and the punishments inflicted on his adherents.

"At this time, (sc. 1266,) from the number of those who had been deprived of their estates, arose the celebrated bandit Robert Hood (with Little John and their accomplices) whose achievements the foolish vulgar delight to celebrate in comedies and tragedies, while the ballads upon his adventures sung by the jesters and minstrels are preferred to all others.

"Some things to his honor are also related,[Pg xi] as appears from this. Once on a time, when, having incurred the anger of the king and the prince, he could hear mass nowhere but in Barnsdale, while he was devoutly occupied with the service, (for this was his wont, nor would he ever suffer it to be interrupted for the most pressing occasion,) he was surprised by a certain sheriff and officers of the king, who had often troubled him before, in the secret place in the woods where he was engaged in worship as aforesaid. Some of his men, who had taken the alarm, came to him and begged him to fly with all speed. This, out of reverence for the host, which he was then most devoutly adoring, he positively refused to do. But while the rest of his followers were trembling for their lives, Robert, confiding in him whom he worshipped, fell on his enemies with a few who chanced to be with him, and easily got the better of them; and having enriched himself with their plunder and ransom, he was led from that time forth to hold ministers of the church and masses in greater veneration than ever, mindful of the common saying that

"God hears the man who often hears the mass."

In another place Bower writes to the same effect: "In this year (1266) the dispossessed barons of England and the royalists were engaged in fierce hostilities. Among the former, Roger Mortimer occupied the Welsh marches, and John[Pg xii] Daynil the Isle of Ely. Robert Hood was now living in outlawry among the woodland copses and thickets."[7]

Mair, a Scottish writer of the first quarter of the 16th century, the next historian who takes cognizance of our hero, and the only other that requires any attention, has a passage which may be considered in connection with the foregoing. In his Historia Majoris Brittaniæ, he remarks, under the reign of Richard the First: "About this time [1189-99], as I conjecture, the notorious robbers Robert Hood of England and Little John lurked in the woods, spoiling the goods only of rich men. They slew nobody but those who attacked them, or offered resistance in defence of their property. Robert maintained by his plunder a hundred archers, so skilful in fight that four hundred brave men feared to attack them. He suffered no woman to be maltreated, and never robbed the poor, but assisted them abundantly with the wealth which he took from abbots."

It appears then that contemporaneous history is absolutely silent concerning Robin Hood; that, excepting the casual allusion in Piers Ploughman, he is first mentioned by a rhyming chronicler, who wrote one hundred years after the latest date at which he can possibly be supposed to have lived, and then by two prose chroniclers, who wrote about[Pg xiii] one hundred and twenty-five years and two hundred years respectively after that date; and it is further manifest that all three of these chroniclers had no other authority for their statements than traditional tales similar to those which have come down to our day.[8] When, therefore, Thierry, relying upon these chronicles and kindred popular legends, unhesitatingly adopts the conjecture of Mair, and describes Robin Hood as the hero of the Saxon serfs, the chief of a troop of Saxon banditti that continued, even to the reign of Coeur de Lion, a determined resistance against the Norman invaders,[9] and when another able and plausible writer accepts and maintains, with equal confidence, the hypothesis of Bower, and exhibits the renowned outlaw as an adherent of Simon de Montfort, who, after the fatal battle of Evesham, kept up a vigorous guerilla warfare against the officers of the tyrant Henry the Third, and of his successor,[10] we must regard these representations which were conjectural three or four centuries ago, as conjec[Pg xiv]tures still, and even as arbitrary conjectures, unless one or the other can be proved from the only authorities we have, the ballads, to have a peculiar intrinsic probability. That neither of them possesses this intrinsic probability may easily be shown, but first it will be advisable to notice another theory, which is more plausibly founded on internal evidence, and claims to be confirmed by documents of unimpeachable validity.

This theory has been propounded by the Rev. John Hunter, in one of his Critical and Historical Tracts.[11] Mr. Hunter admits that Robin Hood "lives only as a hero of song;" that he is not found in authentic contemporary chronicles; and that, when we find him mentioned in history, "the information was derived from the ballads, and is not independent of them or correlative with them." While making these admissions, he accords a considerable degree of credibility to the ballads, and particularly to the Lytell Geste, the last two fits of which he regards as giving a tolerably accurate account of real occurrences.

In this part of the story, King Edward is represented as coming to Nottingham to take Robin Hood. He traverses Lancashire and a part of Yorkshire, and finds his forests nearly stripped of their deer, but can get no trace of the author of these extensive depredations. At last, by the advice of one of his foresters, assuming with sev[Pg xv]eral of his knights the dress of a monk, he proceeds from Nottingham to Sherwood, and there soon encounters the object of his search. He submits to plunder as a matter of course, and then announces himself as a messenger sent to invite Robin Hood to the royal presence. The outlaw receives this message with great respect. There is no man in the world, he says, whom he loves so much as his king. The monk is invited to remain and dine; and after the repast, an exhibition of archery is ordered, in which a bad shot is to be punished by a buffet from the hand of the chieftain. Robin having once failed of the mark requests the monk to administer the penalty. He receives a staggering blow, which rouses his suspicions, recognizes the king on an attentive consideration of his countenance, entreats grace for himself and his followers, and is freely pardoned on condition that he and they shall enter into the king's service. To this he agrees, and for fifteen months resides at court. At the end of this time he has lost all his followers but two, and spent all his money, and feels that he shall pine to death with sorrow in such a life. He returns accordingly to the green wood, collects his old followers around him, and for twenty-two years maintains his independence in defiance of the power of Edward.

Without asserting the literal verity of all the particulars of this narrative, Mr. Hunter attempts[Pg xvi] to show that it contains a substratum of fact. Edward the First, he informs us, was never in Lancashire after he became king, and if Edward the Third was ever there at all, it was not in the early years of his reign. But Edward the Second did make one single progress in Lancashire, and this in the year 1323. During this progress the king spent some time at Nottingham, and took particular note of the condition of his forests, and among these of the forest of Sherwood. Supposing now that the incidents detailed in the Lytell Geste really took place at this time, Robin Hood must have entered into the royal service before the end of the year 1323. It is a singular, and in the opinion of Mr. Hunter a very pregnant coincidence, that, in certain Exchequer documents containing accounts of expenses in the king's household, the name of Robyn Hode (or Robert Hood) is found several times, beginning with the 24th of March, 1324, among the "porters of the chamber" of the king. He received, with Simon Hood and others, the wages of three pence a day. In August of the following year Robin Hood suffers deduction from his pay for non-attendance, his absences grow frequent, and, on the 22d of November, he is discharged with a present of five shillings, "poar cas qil ne poait pluis travailler".[12]

It remains still for Mr. Hunter to account for the[Pg xvii] existence of a band of seven score of outlaws in the reign of Edward the Second, in or about Yorkshire. The stormy and troublous reigns of the Plantagenets make this a matter of no difficulty. Running his finger down the long list of rebellions and commotions, he finds that early in 1322 England was convulsed by the insurrection of Thomas Earl of Lancaster, the king's near relation, supported by many powerful noblemen. The Earl's chief seat was the castle of Pontefract, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He is said to have been popular, and it would be a fair inference that many of his troops were raised in this part of England. King Edward easily got the better of the rebels and took exemplary vengeance upon them. Many of the leaders were at once put to death, and the lives of all their partisans were in danger. Is it impossible then, asks Mr. Hunter, that some who had been in the army of the Earl, secreted themselves in the woods and turned their skill in archery against the king's subjects or the king's deer; "that these were the men who for so long a time haunted Barnsdale and Sherwood, and that Robin Hood was one of them, a chief amongst them, being really of a rank originally somewhat superior to the rest?"

We have then three different hypotheses concerning Robin Hood, one placing him in the reign of Richard the First, another in that of Henry the[Pg xviii] Third, and the last under Edward the Second, and all describing him as a political foe to the established government. To all of these hypotheses there are two very obvious and decisive objections. The first is that Robin Hood, as already remarked, is not so much as named in contemporary history. Whether as the unsubdued leader of the Saxon peasantry, or insurgent against the tyranny of Henry or Edward, it is inconceivable that we should not hear something of him from the chroniclers. If, as Thierry says, "he had chosen Hereward for his model," it is unexplained and inexplicable why his historical fate has been so different from that of Hereward. The hero of the Camp of Refuge fills an ample place in the annals of his day; his achievements are also handed down in a prose romance which presents many points of resemblance to the ballads of Robin Hood. It would have been no wonder if the vulgar legends about Hereward had utterly perished, but it is altogether anomalous[13] that a popular champion who attained so extraordinary a notoriety in song, a man living from one hundred to two hundred and fifty years later than Hereward, should be passed over without one word of notice from any[Pg xix] authoritative historian.[14] That this would not be so, we are most fortunately able to demonstrate by reference to a real case which furnishes a singularly exact parallel to the present, that of the famous outlaw, Adam Gordon. In the year 1267, says the continuator of Matthew Paris, a soldier by the name of Adam Gordon, who had lost his estates with other adherents of Simon de Montfort, and refused to seek the mercy of the king, established himself with others in like circumstances near a woody and tortuous road between the village of Wilton and the castle of Farnham, from which position he made forays into the country round about, directing his attacks especially against those who were of the king's party. Prince Edward had heard much of the prowess and honorable character of this man, and desired to have some personal knowledge of him. He succeeded in surprising Gordon with a superior force, and engaged him in single combat, forbidding any of his own followers to interfere. They fought a long time, and the prince was so filled with admiration of the courage and spirit of his antagonist that he promised him life and fortune on condition of his surrendering. To these terms Gor[Pg xx]don acceded, his estates were restored, and Edward found him ever after an attached and faithful servant.[15] The story is romantic, and yet Adam Gordon was not made the subject of ballads. Caruit vate sacro. The contemporary historians, however, all have a paragraph for him. He is celebrated by Wikes, the Chronicle of Dunstaple, the Waverley Annals, and we know not where else besides.

But these theories are open to an objection stronger even than the silence of history. They are contradicted by the spirit of the ballads. No line of these songs breathes political animosity. There is no suggestion or reminiscence of wrong, from invading Norman, or from the established sovereign. On the contrary, Robin loved no man in the world so well as his king. What the tone of these ballads would have been, had Robin Hood been any sort of partisan, we may judge from the mournful and indignant strains which were poured out on the fall of De Montfort. We should have heard of the fatal field of Hastings, of the perfidy of Henry, of the sanguinary revenge of Edward, and not of matches at archery and encounters at quarter-staff, the plundering of rich abbots, and squabbles with the sheriff. The Robin Hood of our ballads is neither patriot under ban, nor proscribed rebel. An outlaw indeed he is, but an "outlaw for veny[Pg xxi]son," like Adam Bell, and one who superadds to deer-stealing the irregularity of a genteel highway robbery.

Thus much of these conjectures in general. To recur to the particular evidence by which Mr. Hunter's theory is supported, this consists principally in the name of Robin Hood being found among the king's servants shortly after Edward II. returned from his visit to the north of his dominions. But the value of this coincidence depends entirely upon the rarity of the name.[16] Now Hood, as Mr. Hunter himself remarks, is a well-established hereditary name in the reigns of the Edwards. We find it very frequently in the indexes to the Record Publications, and this although it does not belong to the higher class of people. That Robert was an ordinary Christian name requires no proof, and if it was, the combination of Robert Hood must have been frequent also. We have taken no extraordinary pains to hunt up this combination, for really the matter is altogether too trivial to justify the expense of time; but since to some minds much may depend on the coincidence in question,[Pg xxii] we will cite several Robin Hoods in the reign of the Edwards.

28th Ed. I. Robert Hood, a citizen of London, says Mr. Hunter, supplied the king's household with beer.

30th Ed. I. Robert Hood is sued for three acres of pasture land in Throckley, Northumberland. (Rot. Orig. Abbrev.)

7th Ed. II. Robert Hood is surety for a burgess returned for Lostwithiel, Cornwall. (Parliamentary Writs.)

9th Ed. II. Robert Hood is a citizen of Wakefield, Yorkshire, whom Mr. Hunter (p. 47) "may be justly charged with carrying supposition too far" by striving to identify with Robin the porter.

10th Ed. III. A Robert Hood, of Howden, York, is mentioned in the Calendarium Rot. Patent.

Adding the Robin Hood of the 17th Ed. II. we have six persons of that name mentioned within a period of less than forty years, and this circumstance does not dispose us to receive with great favor any argument that may be founded upon one individual case of its occurrence. But there is no end to the absurdities which flow from this supposition. We are to believe that the weak and timid prince that had severely punished his kinsman and his nobles, freely pardoned a yeoman, who, after serving with the rebels, had for twenty months made free with the king's deer[Pg xxiii] and robbed on the highway, and not only pardoned him, but received him into service near his person. We are further to believe that the man who had led so daring and jovial a life, and had so generously dispensed the pillage of opulent monks, willingly entered into this service, doffed his Lincoln green for the Plantagenet plush, and consented to be enrolled among royal flunkies for three pence a day. And again, admitting all this, we are finally obliged by Mr. Hunter's document to concede that the stalwart archer (who, according to the ballad, maintained himself two and twenty years in the wood) was worn out by his duties as "proud portèr" in less than two years, and was discharged a superannuated lackey, with five shillings in his pocket, "poar cas qil ne poait pluis travailler."

To those who are well acquainted with ancient popular poetry, the adventure of King Edward and Robin Hood, will seem the least eligible portion of this circle of story for the foundation of an historical theory. The ballad of King Edward and Robin Hood is but one version of an extremely multiform legend, of which the tales of King Edward and the Shepherd and King Edward and the Hermit are other specimens; and any one who will take the trouble to examine will be convinced that all these stories are one and the same thing, the personages being varied for the sake of novelty, and the name of a recent or of the reigning monarch substituted in successive ages[Pg xxiv] for that of a predecessor. (See King Edward the Fourth and the Tanner of Tamworth.)

Rejecting, then, as nugatory every attempt to assign Robin Hood a definite position in history, what view shall we adopt? Are all these traditions absolute fictions, and is he himself a pure creation of the imagination? Might not the ballads under consideration have a basis in the exploits of a real person, living in the forests, somewhere and at some time? Or, denying individual existence to Robin Hood, and particular truth to the adventures ascribed to him, may we not regard him as the ideal of the outlaw class, a class so numerous in all the countries of Europe in the middle ages? We are perfectly contented to form no opinion upon the subject; but if compelled to express one, we should say that this last supposition (which is no novelty) possessed decidedly more likelihood than any other. Its plausibility will be confirmed by attending to the apparent signification of the name Robin Hood. The natural refuge and stronghold of the outlaw was the woods. Hence he is termed by Latin writers silvaticus, by the Normans forestier. The Anglo-Saxon robber or highwayman is called a wood-rover, wealdgenga, and the Norse word for outlaw is exactly equivalent.[17] It has been often suggested that Robin Hood[Pg xxv] is a corruption, or dialectic form, of Robin of the Wood, and when we remember that wood is pronounced hood in some parts of England,[18] (as whoop is pronounced hoop everywhere,) and that the outlaw bears in so many languages a name descriptive of his habitation, this notion will not seem an idle fancy.

Various circumstances, however, have disposed writers of learning to look further for a solution of the question before us. Mr. Wright propounds an hypothesis that Robin Hood was "one among the personages of the early mythology of the Teutonic peoples;" and a German scholar,[19] in an[Pg xxvi] exceedingly interesting article which throws much light on the history of English sports, has endeavored to show specifically that he is in name and substance one with the god Woden. The arguments by which these views are supported, though in their present shape very far from convincing, are entitled to a respectful consideration.

The most important of these arguments are those which are based on the peculiar connection between Robin Hood and the month of May. Mr. Wright has justly remarked, that either an express mention of this month, or a vivid description of the season, in the older ballads, shows that the feats of the hero were generally performed during this part of the year. Thus, the adventure of Robin Hood and the Monk befell on "a morning of May." Robin Hood and the Potter, and Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne begin, like Robin Hood and the Monk, with a description of the season when leaves are long, blossoms are shooting, and the small birds are singing, and this season, though called summer, is at the same time spoken of as May in Robin Hood and the Monk, which, from the description there given, it needs must be.[Pg xxvii] The liberation of Cloudesly by Adam Bel and Clym of the Clough is also achieved "on a merry morning of May."

Robin Hood is moreover intimately associated with the month of May through the games which were celebrated at that time of the year. The history of these games is unfortunately very defective, and hardly extends beyond the beginning of the 16th century. By that time their primitive character seems to have been corrupted, or at least their significance was so far forgotten, that distinct pastimes and ceremonials were capriciously intermixed. At the beginning of the 16th century the May sports in vogue were, besides a contest of archery, four pageants,—the Kingham, or election of a Lord and Lady of the May, otherwise called Summer King and Queen, the Morris Dance, the Hobby Horse, and the "Robin Hood." Though these pageants were diverse in their origin, they had, at the epoch of which we write, begun to be confounded; and the Morris exhibited a tendency to absorb and blend them all, as, from its character, being a procession interspersed with dancing, it easily might do. We shall hardly find the Morris pure and simple in the English May-game; but from a comparison of the two earliest representations which we have of this sport, the Flemish print given by Douce in his Illustrations of Shakespeare, and Tollett's celebrated painted window, (described in Johnson and Steevens's[Pg xxviii] Shakespeare,) we may form an idea of what was essential and what adventitious in the English spectacle. The Lady is evidently the central personage in both. She is, we presume, the same as the Queen of May, who is the oldest of all the characters in the May games, and the apparent successor to the Goddess of Spring in the Roman Floralia. In the English Morris she is called simply The Lady, or more frequently Maid Marian, a name which, to our apprehension, means Lady of the May, and nothing more. A fool and a taborer seem also to have been indispensable; but the other dancers had neither names nor peculiar offices, and were unlimited in number. The Morris then, though it lost in allegorical significance, would gain considerably in spirit and variety by combining with the other shows. Was it not natural, therefore, and in fact inevitable, that the old favorites of the populace, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, and Little John, should in the course of time displace three of the anonymous performers in the show? This they had pretty effectually done at the beginning of the 16th century, and the Lady, who had accepted the more precise designation of Maid Marian, was after that generally regarded as the consort of Robin Hood, though she sometimes appeared in the Morris without him. In like manner, the Hobby Horse was quite early adopted into the Morris, of which it formed no original part, and at last even a Dragon[Pg xxix] was annexed to the company. Under these circumstances we cannot be surprised to find the principal performers in the May pageants passing the one into the other; to find the May King, whose occupation was gone when the fascinating outlaw had supplanted him in the favor of the Lady, assuming the part of the Hobby Horse,[20] Robin Hood usurping the title of King of the May,[21] and the Hobby Horse entering into a contest with the Dragon, as St. George.

We feel obliged to regard this interchange of functions among the characters in the English May pageants as fortuitous, notwithstanding the coincidence of the May King sometimes appearing on horseback in Germany, and notwithstanding our conviction that Kuhn is right in maintaining that the May King, the Hobby Horse, and the Dragon-slayer, are symbols of one mythical idea. This idea we are compelled by want of space barely to state, with the certainty of doing injustice to the learning and ingenuity with which the author has supported his views. Kuhn has shown it to be extremely probable, first, that the Christmas games, which both in Germany and England have a close resemblance to those of Spring, are to be considered as a prelude to the May sports, and that they both originally symbol[Pg xxx]ized the victory of Summer over Winter,[22] which, beginning at the winter solstice, is completed in the second month of Spring; secondly, that the conquering Summer is represented by the May King, or by the Hobby Horse (as also by the Dragon-slayer, whether St. George, Siegfried, Apollo, or the Sanskrit Indras); and thirdly, that the Hobby Horse in particular represents the god Woden, who, as well as Mars[23] among the Romans, is the god at once of Spring and of Victory.

The essential point, all this being admitted, is now to establish the identity of Robin Hood and the Hobby Horse. This we think we have shown cannot be done by reasoning founded on the early history of the games under consideration. Kuhn relies principally upon two modern accounts of Christmas pageants. In one of these pageants there is introduced a man on horseback, who carries in[Pg xxxi] his hands a bow and arrows. The other furnishes nothing peculiar except a name: the ceremony is called a hoodening, and the hobby horse a hooden. In the rider with bow and arrows, Kuhn sees Robin Hood and the Hobby Horse, and in the name hooden (which is explained by the authority he quotes to mean wooden) he discovers a provincial form of wooden which connects the outlaw and the divinity.[24] It will be generally agreed that these slender premises are totally inadequate to support the weighty conclusion that is rested upon them.

Why the adventures of Robin Hood should be specially assigned, as they are in the old ballads, to the month of May, remains unexplained. We have no exquisite reason to offer, but we may perhaps find reason good enough in the delicious stanzas with which some of these ballads begin.

In summer when the shawès be sheen,
And leavès be large and long,
It is full merry in fair forèst
To hear the fowlès song;
To see the deer draw to the dale,
And leave the hillès hee,
And shadow them in the leavès green
Under the green-wood tree.

The poetical character of the season affords all the explanation that is required.[Pg xxxii]

Nor need the occurrence of exhibitions of archery and of the Robin Hood plays and pageants, at this time of the year, occasion any difficulty. Repeated statutes, from the 13th to the 16th century, enjoined practice with the bow, and ordered that the leisure time of holidays should be employed for this purpose. Under Henry the Eighth the custom was still kept up, and those who partook in this exercise often gave it a spirit by assuming the style and character of Robin Hood and his associates. In like manner the society of archers in Elizabeth's time, took the name of Arthur and his knights: all which was very natural then and would be now. None of all the merrymakings in merry England surpassed the May festival. The return of the sun stimulated the populace to the accumulation of all sorts of amusements. In addition to the traditional and appropriate sports of the season, there were, as Stowe tells us, divers warlike shows, with good archers, morris-dancers, and other devices for pastime all day long, and towards the evening stage-plays and bonfires in the streets. A Play of Robin Hood was considered "very proper for a May-game," but if Robin Hood was peculiarly prominent in these entertainments, the obvious reason would appear to be that he was the hero of that loved green-wood to which all the world resorted, when the cold obstruction of winter was broken up, "to do observance for a morn of May."[Pg xxxiii]

We do not therefore attribute much value to the theory of Mr. Wright, that the May festival was, in its earliest form, "a religious celebration, though, like such festivals in general, it possessed a double character, that of a religious ceremony, and of an opportunity for the performance of warlike games; that, at such festivals, the songs would take the character of the amusements on the occasion, and would most likely celebrate warlike deeds—perhaps the myths of the patron whom superstition supposed to preside over them; that, as the character of the exercises changed, the attributes of the patron would change also, and he who was once celebrated as working wonders with his good axe or his elf-made sword, might afterwards assume the character of a skilful bowman; that the scene of his actions would likewise change, and the person whose weapons were the bane of dragons and giants, who sought them in the wildernesses they infested, might become the enemy only of the sheriff and his officers, under the 'grene-wode lefe.'" It is unnecessary to point out that the language we have quoted contains, beyond the statement that warlike exercises were anciently combined with religious rites, a very slightly founded surmise, and nothing more.

Another circumstance which weighs much with Mr. Wright, goes but a very little way with us in demonstrating the mythological character of Robin Hood. This is the frequency with which his[Pg xxxiv] name is attached to mounds, wells, and stones, such as in the popular creed are connected with fairies, dwarfs, or giants. There is scarcely a county in England which does not possess some monument of this description. "Cairns on Blackdown in Somersetshire, and barrows near to Whitby in Yorkshire and Ludlow in Shropshire, are termed Robin Hood's pricks or butts; lofty natural eminences in Gloucestershire and Derbyshire are Robin Hood's hills; a huge rock near Matlock is Robin Hood's Tor; ancient boundary stones, as in Lincolnshire, are Robin Hood's crosses; a presumed loggan, or rocking-stone, in Yorkshire, is Robin Hood's penny-stone; a fountain near Nottingham, another between Doncaster and Wakefield, and one in Lancashire, are Robin Hood's wells; a cave in Nottinghamshire is his stable; a rude natural rock in Hope Dale is his chair; a chasm at Chatsworth is his leap; Blackstone Edge, in Lancashire, is his bed."[25] In fact, his name bids fair to overrun every remarkable object of the sort which has not been already appropriated to King Arthur or the Devil; with the latter of whom, at least, it is presumed that, however ancient, he will not dispute precedence.

"The legends of the peasantry," quoth Mr. Wright, "are the shadows of a very remote antiquity." This proposition, thus broadly stated, we deny. Nothing is more deceptive than popular[Pg xxxv] legends; and the "legends," we speak of, if they are to bear that name, have no claim to antiquity at all. They do not go beyond the ballads. They are palpably of subsequent and comparatively recent origin. It was absolutely impossible that they should arise while Robin Hood was a living reality to the people. The archer of Sherwood who could barely stand King Edward's buffet, and was felled by the Potter, was no man to be playing with rocking stones. This trick of naming must have begun in the decline of his fame, for there was a time when his popularity drooped, and his existence was just not doubted; not elaborately maintained by learned historians, and antiquarians deeply read in the Public Records. And what do these names prove? The vulgar passion for bestowing them is notorious and universal. We Americans are too young to be well provided with heroes that might serve this purpose. We have no imaginative peasantry to invent legends, no ignorant peasantry to believe them. But we have the good fortune to possess the Devil in common with the rest of the world; and we take it upon us to say, that there is not a mountain district in the land, which has been opened to summer travellers, where a "Devil's Bridge," a "Devil's Punch-bowl," or some object with the like designation, will not be pointed out.[26]

[Pg xxxvi] We have taken no notice of the later fortunes of Robin Hood in his true and original character of a hero of romance. Towards the end of the 16th century, Anthony Munday attempted to revive the decaying popularity of this king of good fellows, who had won all his honors as a simple yeoman, by representing him in the play of The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntington, as a nobleman in disguise, outlawed by the machinations of his steward. This pleasing and successful drama is Robin's sole patent to that title of Earl of Huntington, in confirmation of which, Dr. Stukeley fabricated a pedigree that transcends even the absurdities of heraldry, and some unknown forger an epitaph beneath the skill of a Chatterton. Those who desire a full acquaintance with the fabulous history of Robin Hood, will seek it in the well-known volumes of Ritson, or in those of his recent editor, Gutch, who does not make up by superior discrimination for his inferiority in other respects to that industrious antiquary.


"This is a tale indeed of Robin Hood,
Which to beleeve might show my wits but weake."

Harington's Ariosto, p. 391, as cited by Ritson.

[2] Sloth says:—

"I kan noght parfitly my pater-noster,
As the preest it syngeth,
But I kan rymes of Robyn Hood,
And Randolf erl of Chestre."

Wright's ed. v. 3275-8.

[3] A writer in the Edinburgh Review, (July, 1847, p. 134,) has cited an allusion to Robin Hood, of a date intermediate between the passages from Wyntown, and the one about to be cited from Bower. In the year 1439, a petition was presented to Parliament against one Piers Venables of Aston, in Derbyshire, "who having no liflode, ne sufficeante of goodes, gadered and assembled unto him many misdoers, beynge of his clothynge, and, in manere of insurrection, wente into the wodes in that countrie, like as it hadde be Robyn Hode and his meynè." Rot. Parl. v. 16.

[4] "Legendis non raro incredibilibus aliisque plusquam anilibus neniis." Hearne, Scotichronicon, p. xxix.

[5] Hearne. Mr. Hunter agrees to this.

[6] Hearne, p. 774.

[7] Scotichronicon, ed. Goodall, ii. 104.

[8] A comparison of the legends concerning William Tell, as they appear in any of the recent discussions of the subject, (e.g. Ideler's Sage von dem Schuss des Tell, Berlin, 1836,) with those of Robin Hood and Adam Bell, will be found interesting and instructive.

[9] In his Histoire de la Conquête de l'Angleterre par les Normands, l. xi. Thierry was anticipated in his theory by Barry, in a dissertation cited by Mr. Wright in his Essays: Thèse de Littérature sur les Viccissitudes et les Transformations du Cycle populaire de Robin Hood. Paris, 1832.

[10] London and Westminster Review, vol. xxxiii. p. 424.

[11] No. 4. The Ballad Hero, Robin Hood. June, 1852.

[12] Hunter, p. 28, p. 35-38.

[13] Mr. Hunter thinks it necessary to prove that it was formerly a usage in England to celebrate real events in popular song. We submit that it has been still more customary to celebrate them in history, when they were of public importance. The case of private and domestic stories is different.

[14] Most remarkable of all would this be, should we adopt the views of Mr. Hunter, because we know from the incidental testimony of Piers Ploughman, that only forty years after the date fixed upon for the outlaw's submission, "rhymes of Robin Hood," were in the mouth of every tavern lounger; and yet no chronicler can spare him a word.

[15] Matthew Paris, London, 1640, p. 1002.

[16] Mr. Hunter had previously instituted a similar argument in the case of Adam Bell, and doubtless the reasoning might be extended to Will Scathlock and Little John. With a little more rummaging of old account-books we shall be enabled to "comprehend all vagrom men." It is a pity that the Sheriff of Nottingham could not have availed himself of the services of our "detective." The sagacity that has identified the Porter might easily, we imagine, have unmasked the Potter.

[17] See Wright's Essays, ii. 207. "The name of Witikind, the famous opponent of Charlemagne, who always fled before his sight, concealed himself in the forests, and returned again in his absence, is no more than witu chint, in Old High Dutch, and signifies the son of the wood, an appellation which he could never have received at his birth, since it denotes an exile or outlaw. Indeed, the name Witikind, though such a person seems to have existed, appears to be the representative of all the defenders of his country against the invaders." (Cf. the Three Tells.)

[18] Thus, in Kent, the Hobby Horse is called hooden, i.e. wooden. It is curious that Orlando, in As You Like It, (who represents the outlaw Gamelyn in the Tale of Gamelyn, a tale which clearly belongs to the cycle of Robin Hood,) should be the son of Sir Rowland de Bois. Robin de Bois (says a writer in Notes and Queries, vi. 597) occurs in one of Sue's novels "as a well-known mythical character, whose name is employed by French mothers to frighten their children."

[19] Kuhn, in Haupt's Zeitschrift für deutsches Alterthum, v. 472. The idea of a northern myth will of course excite the alarm of all sensible patriotic Englishmen, (e.g. Mr. Hunter, at page 3 of his tract,) and the bare suggestion of Woden will be received, in the same quarters, with an explosion of scorn. And yet we find the famous shot of Eigill, one of the mythical personages of the Scandinavians, (and perhaps to be regarded as one of the forms of Woden,) attributed in the ballad of Adam Bel to William of Cloudesly, who may be considered as Robin Hood under another name. See the preface to Adam Bel.

[20] As in Tollett's window.

[21] In Lord Hailes's Extracts from the Book of the Universal Kirk.

[22] More openly exhibited in the mock battle between Summer and Winter celebrated by the Scandinavians in honor of May, a custom still retained in the Isle of Man, where the month is every year ushered in with a contest between the Queen of Summer, and the Queen of Winter. (Brand's Antiquities, by Ellis, i. 222, 257.) A similar ceremony in Germany, occurring at Christmas, is noticed by Kuhn, p. 478.

[23] Hence the Spring begins with March. The connection with Mars suggests a possible etymology for the Morris—which is usually explained, for want of something better, as a Morisco or Moorish dance. There is some resemblance between the Morris and the Salic dance. The Salic games are said to have been instituted by the Veian king Morrius, a name pointing to Mars, the divinity of the Salii. Kuhn, 488-493.

[24] The name Robin also appears to Kuhn worthy of notice, since the horseman in the May pageant is in some parts of Germany called Ruprecht (Rupert, Robert).

[25] Edinburgh Review, vol. 86, p. 123.

[26] See some sensible remarks in the Gentleman's Magazine for March, 1793, by D. H., that is, says the courteous Ritson, by Gough, "the scurrilous and malignant editor of that degraded publication."

[Pg 1]


This excellent ballad, which appears to be the oldest of the class preserved, and is possibly as old as the reign of Edward II. (see Wright's Essays, &c., ii. 174), is found in a manuscript belonging to the public library of the University of Cambridge (Ff. 5, 48). It was first printed by Jamieson, Popular Ballads, ii. 54, afterwards in Hartshorne's Metrical Tales, p. 179, and is here given from the second edition of Ritson's Robin Hood, (ii. 221,) as collated by Sir Frederic Madden.

The story is nearly the same in Adam Bel, Clym of the Cloughe, and Wyllyam of Cloudeslè.

In somer when the shawes be sheyne,
And leves be large and longe,
Hit is full mery in feyre foreste
To here the foulys song.
To se the dere draw to the dale,5
And leve the hilles hee,
And shadow hem in the leves grene,
Vndur the grene-wode tre.[Pg 2]
Hit befell on Whitsontide,
Erly in a may mornyng,10
The son vp fayre can shyne,
And the briddis mery can syng.
"This is a mery mornyng," seid Litulle Johne,
"Be hym that dyed on tre;
A more mery man then I am one15
Lyves not in Cristianté."
"Pluk vp thi hert, my dere mayster,"
Litulle Johne can sey,
"And thynk hit is a fulle fayre tyme
In a mornynge of may."20
"Ze on thynge greves me," seid Robyne,
"And does my hert mych woo,
That I may not so solem day
To mas nor matyns goo.
"Hit is a fourtnet and more," seyd hee,25
"Syn I my Sauyour see;
To day will I to Notyngham," seid Robyn,
"With the myght of mylde Mary."
Then spake Moche the mylner sune,
Euer more wel hym betyde,30
"Take xii of thi wyght zemen
Well weppynd be thei side.[Pg 3]
Such on wolde thi selfe slon
That xii dar not abyde."
"Off alle my mery men," seid Robyne,35
"Be my feithe I wil non haue;
But Litulle Johne shall beyre my bow
Til that me list to drawe.
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
"Thou shalle beyre thin own," seid Litulle Jon,
"Maister, and I wil beyre myne,40
And we wille shete a peny," seid Litulle Jon,
"Vnder the grene wode lyne."
"I wil not shete a peny," seyde Robyn Hode,
"In feith, Litulle Johne, with thee,
But euer for on as thou shetes," seid Robyn,45
"In feith I holde the thre."
Thus shet thei forthe, these zemen too,
Bothe at buske and brome,
Til Litulle Johne wan of his maister
V s. to hose and shone.50
A ferly strife fel them betwene,
As they went bi the way;
Litull Johne seid he had won v shyllyngs,
And Robyn Hode seid schortly nay.[Pg 4]
With that Robyn Hode lyed Litul Jone,55
And smote hym with his honde;
Litul John waxed wroth therwith,
And pulled out his bright bronde.
"Were thou not my maister," seid Litulle Johne,
"Thou shuldis by hit ful sore;60
Get the a man where thou wilt, Robyn,
For thou getes me no more."
Then Robyn goes to Notyngham,
Hymselfe mornynge allone,
And Litulle Johne to mery Scherewode,65
The pathes he knowe alkone.
Whan Robyn came to Notyngham,
Sertenly withoutene layne,
He prayed to God and myld Mary
To brynge hym out saue agayne.70
He gos into seynt Mary chirche,
And knelyd downe before the rode;
Alle that euer were the churche within
Beheld wel Robyne Hode.
Beside hym stode a gret-hedid munke,75
I pray to God woo he be;
Ful sone he knew gode Robyn
As sone as he hym se.[Pg 5]
Out at the durre he ran
Ful sone and anon;80
Alle the zatis of Notyngham
He made to be sparred euerychone.
"Rise vp," he seid, "thou prowde schereff,
Buske the and make the bowne;
I haue spyed the kynges felone,85
For sothe he is in this towne.
"I haue spyed the false felone,
As he stondes at his masse;
Hit is longe of the," seide the munke,
"And euer he fro vs passe.90
"This traytur[s] name is Robyn Hode;
Vnder the grene wode lynde,
He robbyt me onys of a C pound,
Hit shalle neuer out of my mynde."
Vp then rose this prowd schereff,95
And zade towarde hym zare;
Many was the modur son
To the kyrk with him can fare.
In at the durres thei throly thrast
With staves ful gode ilkone,100
"Alas, alas," seid Robin Hode,
"Now mysse I Litulle Johne."[Pg 6]
But Robyne toke out a too-hond sworde
That hangit down be his kne;
Ther as the schereff and his men stode thyckust,105
Thidurward wold he.
Thryes thorow at them he ran,
Then for sothe as I yow say,
And woundyt many a modur sone,
And xii he slew that day.110
Hys sworde vpon the schireff hed
Sertanly he brake in too;
"The smyth that the made," seid Robyn,
"I pray God wyrke hym woo.
"For now am I weppynlesse," seid Robyne,115
"Alasse, agayn my wylle;
But if I may fle these traytors fro,
I wot thei wil me kylle."
Robyns men to the churche ran
Throout hem euerilkon;120
Sum fel in swonyng as thei were dede,
And lay still as any stone.
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
Non of theym were in her mynde
But only Litulle Jon.[Pg 7]
"Let be your dule," seid Litulle Jon,125
"For his luf that dyed on tre;
Ze that shulde be duzty men,
Hit is gret shame to se.
"Oure maister has bene hard bystode,
And zet scapyd away;130
Pluk up your hertes and leve this mone,
And herkyn what I shal say.
"He has seruyd our lady many a day,
And zet wil securly;
Therefore I trust in her specialy135
No wycked deth shal he dye.
"Therfor be glad," seid Litul Johne,
"And let this mournyng be,
And I shall be the munkes gyde,
With the myght of mylde Mary.140
"And I mete hym," seid Litull Johne,
"We wille go but we too
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
"Loke that ze kepe wel our tristil tre
Vnder the levys smale,
And spare non of this venyson145
That gose in thys vale."[Pg 8]
Forthe thei went these zemen too,
Litul Johne and Moche onfere,
And lokid on Moche emys hows
The hyeway lay fulle nere.150
Litul John stode at a window in the mornynge,
And lokid forth at a stage;
He was war wher the munke came ridynge,
And with hym a litul page.
"Be my feith," seid Litul Johne to Moche,155
"I can the tel tithyngus gode;
I se wher the munk comys rydyng,
I know hym be his wyde hode."
Thei went into the way these zemen bothe,
As curtes men and hende,160
Thei spyrred tithyngus at the munke,
As thei hade bene his frende.
"Fro whens come ze," seid Litul Johne;
"Tel vs tithyngus, I yow pray,
Off a false owtlay [called Robyn Hode],165
Was takyn zisturday.
"He robbyt me and my felowes bothe
Of xx marke in serten;
If that false owtlay be takyn,
[Pg 9]For sothe we wolde be fayne."170
"So did he me," seid the munke,
"Of a C pound and more;
I layde furst hande hym apon,
Ze may thonke me therfore."
"I pray God thanke yow," seid Litulle Johne,175
"And we wil when we may;
We wil go with yow, with your leve,
And brynge yow on your way.
"For Robyn Hode hase many a wilde felow,
I telle yow in certen;180
If thei wist ze rode this way,
In feith ze shulde be slayn."
As thei went talkyng be the way,
The munke and Litulle Johne,
Johne toke the munkes horse be the hede185
Ful sone and anone.
Johne toke the munkes horse be the hed,
For sothe as I yow say,
So did Muche the litulle page,
For he shulde not stirre away.190
Be the golett of the hode
Johne pulled the munke downe;
Johne was nothynge of hym agast,
He lete hym falle on his crowne.[Pg 10]
Litulle Johne was sore agrevyd,195
And drew out his swerde in hye;
The munke saw he shulde be ded,
Lowd mercy can he crye.
"He was my maister," seid Litulle Johne,
"That thou hase browzt in bale;200
Shalle thou neuer cum at oure kynge
For to telle hym tale."
John smote of the munkes hed,
No longer wolde he dwelle;
So did Moche the litulle page,205
For ferd lest he wold tell.
Ther thei beryed hem both
In nouther mosse nor lynge,
And Litulle Johne and Muche infere
Bare the letturs to oure kyng.210
* * * * * *
He kneled down vpon his kne,
"God zow saue, my lege lorde,
"Jesus yow saue and se.
"God yow saue, my lege kyng,"
To speke Johne was fulle bolde;215
He gaf hym the letturs in his hond,
The kyng did hit unfold.[Pg 11]
The kyng red the letturs anon,
And seid, "so mot I the,
Ther was neuer zoman in mery Inglond220
I longut so sore to see.
"Wher is the munke that these shuld haue browzt?"
Oure kynge gan say;
"Be my trouthe," seid Litull Jone,
"He dyed aftur the way."225
The kyng gaf Moche and Litul Jon
xx pound in sertan,
And made theim zemen of the crowne,
And bade theim go agayn.
He gaf Johne the seel in hand,230
The scheref for to bere,
To brynge Robyn hym to,
And no man do hym dere.
Johne toke his leve at oure kyng,
The sothe as I yow say;235
The next way to Notyngham
To take he zede the way.
When Johne came to Notyngham
The zatis were sparred ychone;
Johne callid vp the porter,240
He answerid sone anon.[Pg 12]
"What is the cause," seid Litul John,
"Thou sparris the zates so fast?"
"Because of Robyn Hode," seid [the] porter,
In depe prison is cast.245
"Johne, and Moche, and Wylle Scathlok,
For sothe as I yow say,
Thir slew oure men vpon oure wallis,
And sawtene vs euery day."
Litulle Johne spyrred aftur the schereff,250
And sone he hym fonde;
He oppyned the kyngus privè seelle,
And gaf hym in his honde.
"When the schereff saw the kyngus seelle,
He did of his hode anon;255
"Wher is the munke that bare the letturs?"
He seid to Litulle Johne.
"He is so fayn of hym," seid Litulle Johne,
"For sothe as I yow sey,
He has made hym abot of Westmynster,260
A lorde of that abbay."
The scheref made John gode chere,
And gaf hym wine of the best;
At nyzt thei went to her bedde,
And euery man to his rest.265
[Pg 13] When the scheref was on-slepe
Dronken of wine and ale,
Litul Johne and Moche for sothe
Toke the way vnto the jale.
Litul Johne callid vp the jayler,270
And bade hym ryse anon;
He seid Robyn Hode had brokyn preson,
And out of hit was gon.
The portere rose anon sertan,
As sone as he herd John calle;275
Litul Johne was redy with a swerd,
And bare hym to the walle.
"Now will I be porter," seid Litul Johne,
"And take the keyes in honde;"
He toke the way to Robyn Hode,280
And sone he hym vnbonde.
He gaf hym a gode swerd in his hond,
His hed with for to kepe,
And ther as the walle was lowyst
Anon down can thei lepe.285
Be that the cok began to crow,
The day began to sprynge,
The scheref fond the jaylier ded,
The comyn belle made he rynge.[Pg 14]
He made a crye thoroowt al the tow[n],290
Whedur he be zoman or knave,
That cowthe brynge hym Robyn Hode,
His warisone he shuld haue.
"For I dar neuer," said the scheref,
"Cum before oure kynge,295
For if I do, I wot serten,
For sothe he wil me henge."
The scheref made to seke Notyngham,
Bothe be strete and stye,
And Robyn was in mery Scherwode300
As lizt as lef on lynde.
Then bespake gode Litulle Johne,
To Robyn Hode can he say,
"I haue done the a gode turne for an euylle,
Quyte me whan thou may.305
"I haue done the a gode turne," said Litulle Johne,
"For sothe as I you saie;
I haue brouzt the vnder grene wode lyne;
Fare wel, and haue gode day."
"Nay, be my trouthe," seid Robyn Hode,310
"So shalle hit neuer be;[Pg 15]
I make the maister," seid Robyn Hode,
"Off alle my men and me."
"Nay, be my trouthe," seid Litulle Johne,
"So shall hit neuer be,315
But lat me be a felow," seid Litulle Johne,
"Non odur kepe I'll be."
Thus Johne gate Robyn Hode out of prisone,
Sertan withoutyn layne;
When his men saw hym hol and sounde,320
For sothe they were ful fayne.
They filled in wyne, and made him glad,
Vnder the levys smale,
And zete pastes of venysone,
That gode was with ale.325
Than worde came to oure kynge,
How Robyn Hode was gone,
And how the scheref of Notyngham
Durst neuer loke hyme vpone.
Then bespake oure cumly kynge,330
In an angur hye,
"Litulle Johne hase begyled the schereff,
In faith so hase he me.
"Litulle Johne has begyled vs bothe,
[Pg 16]And that fulle wel I se,335
Or ellis the schereff of Notyngham
Hye hongut shuld he be.
"I made hem zemen of the crowne,
And gaf hem fee with my hond,
I gaf hem grithe," seid oure kyng,340
"Thorowout alle mery Inglond.
"I gaf hem grithe," then seide oure kyng,
"I say, so mot I the,
For sothe soche a zeman as he is on
In alle Ingland ar not thre.345
"He is trew to his maister," seide oure kynge,
"I sey, be swete seynt Johne;
He louys bettur Robyn Hode,
Then he dose vs ychone.
"Robyne Hode is euer bond to him,350
Bothe in strete and stalle;
Speke no more of this matter," seid oure kynge,
"But John has begyled vs alle."
Thus endys the talkyng of the munke
And Robyne Hode i-wysse;
God, that is euer a crowned kyng,
Bryng vs alle to his blisse.

32. MS. ther.

39. MS. th' now.

93. See the Fourth Fit of the Lyttell Geste.

100. MS. gode wone.

125. MS. rule.

195. MS. so.

269, gale.

305. MS. Quyte the.

352. MS. mere.

[Pg 17]


From Ritson's Robin Hood, i. 81. "This curious, and hitherto unpublished, and even unheard of old piece," remarks that editor, "is given from a manuscript among Bishop More's collections, in the Public Library of the University of Cambridge (Ee. 4. 35). The writing, which is evidently that of a vulgar and illiterate person, appears to be of the age of Henry VII., that is, about the year 1500; but the composition (which he has irremediably corrupted) is probably of an earlier period, and much older, no doubt, than The Play of Robyn Hode, which seems allusive to the same story."

Mr. Wright thinks the manuscript is proved to be of the time of Henry VI. by a memorandum on one page, setting forth the expenses of the feast on the marriage of the king with Margaret:—"Thys ys exspences of fflesche at the mariage of my ladey Marg'et, that sche had owt off Eynglonde." But this memorandum is more likely to apply to 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. (Ed. Rev. lxxxvi. 126.)

The adventure in the first part of this story,—the encounter between Robin Hood and a sturdy fellow who proves his match or his superior—forms the subject of a large number of this circle of ballads, the antagonist being in one case a beggar, in another a tanner, a tinker, the pinder of Wakefield, &c. (See the preface to Robin Hood and the Beggar, p. 188.)[Pg 18] The story of the second part is found again in Robin Hood and the Butcher, and, with considerable differences, in the third fit of the Lytell Geste.

It is in the disguise of a potter that the Saxon Hereward penetrates into the Norman court, and that Eustace the Monk eludes the vengeance of the Count of Boulogne. Eustace also drew his enemy into an ambush by nearly the same stratagem which Robin employs to entice the sheriff of Nottingham into the forest. (See the romances abridged in Wright's Essays, ii. 108, 133, 135, 184.)

In schomer, when the leves spryng,
The bloschems on every bowe,
So merey doyt the berdys syng
Yn wodys merey now.
Herkens, god yemen,5
Comley, corteysse, and god,
On of the best that yever bar bou,
Hes name was Roben Hode.
Roben Hood was the yemans name,
That was boyt corteys and fre;10
For the loffe of owr ladey,
All wemen werschep he.
Bot as the god yemen stod on a day,
Among hes mery manèy,
He was war of a prowd potter,15
Cam dryfyng owyr the ley.[Pg 19]
"Yonder comet a prod potter," seyde Roben,
"That long hayt hantyd this wey;
He was never so corteys a man
On peney of pawage to pay."20
"Y met hem bot at Wentbreg," seyde Lytyll John,
"And therfor yeffell mot he the,
Seche thre strokes he me gafe,
Yet they cleffe by my seydys.
"Y ley forty shillings," seyde Lytyll John,25
"To pay het thes same day,
Ther ys nat a man among hus all
A wed schall make hem ley."
"Her ys forty shillings," seyde Roben,
"Mor, and thow dar say,30
That y schall make that prowde potter,
A wed to me schall he ley."
Ther thes money they leyde,
They toke het a yeman to kepe;
Roben befor the potter he breyde,35
And bad hem stond stell.
Handys apon hes horse he leyde,
And bad the potter stonde foll stell;
The potter schorteley to hem seyde,
[Pg 20]"Felow, what ys they well?"40
"All thes thre yer, and mor, potter," he seyde,
"Thow hast hantyd thes wey,
Yet wer tow never so cortys a man
One peney of pauage to pay."
"What ys they name," seyde the potter,45
"For pauage thow ask of me?"
"Roben Hod ys mey name,
A wed schall thow leffe me."
"Wed well y non leffe," seyde the potter,
"Nor pavag well y non pay;50
Awey they honde fro mey horse,
Y well the tene eyls, be mey fay."
The potter to hes cart he went,
He was not to seke;
A god to-hande staffe therowt he hent,55
Befor Roben he lepe.
Roben howt with a swerd bent,
A bokeler en hes honde [therto];
The potter to Roben he went,
And seyde, "Felow, let mey horse go."60
Togeder then went thes two yemen,
Het was a god seyt to se;
Therof low Robyn hes men,
Ther they stod onder a tre.[Pg 21]
Leytell John to hes felowhes seyde,65
"Yend potter welle steffeley stonde:"
The potter, with an acward stroke,
Smot the bokeler owt of hes honde;
And ar Roben meyt get hem agen
Hes bokeler at hes fette,70
The potter yn the neke hem toke,
To the gronde sone he yede.
That saw Roben hes men,
As thay stode ender a bow;
"Let us helpe owr master," seyed Lytell John,75
"Yonder potter els well hem sclo."
Thes yemen went with a breyde,
To ther master they cam.
Leytell John to hes master seyde,
"Ho haet the wager won?80
"Schall y haff yowr forty shillings," seyde Lytel John,
"Or ye, master, schall haffe myne?"
"Yeff they wer a hundred," seyde Roben,
"Y feythe, they ben all theyne."
"Het ys fol leytell cortesey," seyde the potter,85
"As y haffe harde weyse men saye,[Pg 22]
Yeff a por yeman com drywyng ower the wey,
To let hem of hes gorney."
"Be mey trowet, thow seys soyt," seyde Roben,
"Thow seys god yemenrey;90
And thow dreyffe forthe yevery day,
Thow schalt never be let for me.
"Y well prey the, god potter,
A felischepe well thow haffe?
Geffe me they clothyng, and thow schalt hafe myne;95
Y well go to Notynggam."
"Y grant therto," seyde the potter,
"Thow schalt feynde me a felow gode;
Bot thow can sell mey pottes well,
Come ayen as thow yode."100
"Nay, be mey trowt," seyde Roben,
"And then y bescro mey hede
Yeffe y bryng eney pottes ayen,
And eney weyffe well hem chepe."
Than spake Leytell John,105
And all hes felowhes heynd,
"Master, be well war of the screffe of Notynggam,
For he ys leytell howr frende."[Pg 23]
Tho Roben droffe on hes wey,
So merey ower the londe:
Heres mor and affter ys to saye,
The best ys beheynde.120


When Roben cam to Notynggam,
The soyt yef y scholde saye,
He set op hes horse anon,
And gaffe hem hotys and haye.
Yn the medys of the towne,125
Ther he schowed hes war;
"Pottys! pottys!" he gan crey foll sone,
"Haffe hansell for the mar."[Pg 24]
Foll effen agenest the screffeys gate
Schowed he hes chaffar;130
Weyffes and wedowes abowt hem drow,
And chepyd fast of hes war.
Yet, "Pottys, gret chepe!" creyed Royn,
"Y loffe yeffell thes to stonde;"
And all that saw hem sell,135
Seyde he had be no potter long.
The pottys that wer werthe pens feyffe,
He sold tham for pens thre;
Preveley seyde man and weyffe,
"Ywnder potter schall never the."140
Thos Roben solde foll fast,
Tell he had pottys bot feyffe;
Op he hem toke of his ear,
And sende hem to the screffeys weyffe.
Therof sche was foll fayne,145
"Gramarsey, sir," than seyde sche;
"When ye com to thes contre ayen,
Y schall bey of they pottys, so mot y the."
"Ye schall haffe of the best," seyde Roben,
And swar be the treneytè;150
Foll corteysley she gan hem call,
"Com deyne with the screfe and me."[Pg 25]
"Godamarsey," seyde Roben,
"Yowr bedyng schalle be doyn;
A mayden yn the pottys gan ber,155
Roben and the screffe weyffe folowed anon.
Whan Roben ynto the hall cam,
The screffe sone he met;
The potter cowed of corteysey,
And sone the screffe he gret.160
"Loketh what thes potter hayt geffe yow and me;
Feyffe pottys smalle and grete!"
"He ys fol wellcom," seyd the screffe,
"Let os was, and go to mete."
As they sat at her methe,165
With a nobell cher,
Two of the screffes men gan speke
Off a gret wagèr,
Was made the thother daye,
Off a schotyng was god and feyne,170
Off forty shillings, the soyt to saye,
Who scholde thes wager wen.[Pg 26]
Styll than sat thes prowde potter,
Thos than thowt he;
"As y am a trow Cerstyn man,175
Thes schotyng well y se."
Whan they had fared of the best.
With bred and ale and weyne,
To the bottys they made them prest,
With bowes and boltys foll feyne.180
The screffes men schot foll fast,
As archares that weren godde;
Ther cam non ner ney the marke
Bey halfe a god archares bowe.
Stell then stod the prowde potter,185
Thos than seyde he;
"And y had a bow, be the rode,
On schot scholde yow se."
"Thow schall haffe a bow," seyde the screffe,
"The best that thow well cheys of thre;190
Thou semyst a stalward and a stronge,
Asay schall thow be."
The screffe commandyd a yeman that stod hem bey
Affter bowhes to wende;[Pg 27]
The best bow that the yeman browthe195
Roben set on a stryng.
"Now schall y wet and thow be god,
And polle het op to they ner;"
"So god me helpe," seyde the prowde potter,
"Thys ys bot rygzt weke ger."200
To a quequer Roben went,
A god bolt owthe he toke;
So ney on to the marke he went,
He fayled not a fothe.
All they schot abowthe agen,205
The screffes men and he;
Off the marke he welde not fayle,
He cleffed the preke on thre.
The screffes men thowt gret schame,
The potter the mastry wan;210
The screffe lowe and made god game,
And seyde, "Potter, thow art a man;
Thow art worthey to ber a bowe,
Yn what plas that thow gang."
"Yn mey cart y haffe a bowe,215
Forsoyt," he seyde, "and that a godde;
Yn mey cart ys the bow
That I had of Robyn Hode."[Pg 28]
"Knowest thow Robyn Hode?" seyde the screffe,
"Potter, y prey the tell thou me;"220
"A hundred torne y haffe schot with hem,
Under hes tortyll tree."
"Y had lever nar a hundred ponde," seyde the screffe,
And swar be the trenitè,
["Y had lever nar a hundred ponde," he seyde,]225
That the fals owtelawe stod be me.
"And ye well do afftyr mey red," seyde the potter,
"And boldeley go with me,
And to morow, or we het bred,
Roben Hode wel we se."230
"Y well queyt the," kod the screffe,
And swer be god of meythe;
Schetyng thay left, and hom they went,
Her scoper was redey deythe.
Upon the morow, when het was day,235
He boskyd hem forthe to reyde;
The potter hes carte forthe gan ray,
And wolde not [be] leffe beheynde.[Pg 29]
He toke leffe of the screffys wyffe,
And thankyd her of all thyng:240
"Dam, for mey loffe, and ye well thys wer,
Y geffe yow her a golde ryng."
"Gramarsey," seyde the weyffe,
"Sir, god eylde het the;"
The screffes hart was never so leythe,245
The feyr forest to se.
And when he cam ynto the foreyst,
Yonder the leffes grene,
Berdys ther sange on bowhes prest,
Het was gret joy to sene.250
"Her het ys merey to be," seyde Roben,
"For a man that had hawt to spende;
Be mey horne we schall awet
Yeff Roben Hode be ner hande."
Roben set hes horne to hes mowthe,255
And blow a blast that was foll god,
That herde hes men that ther stode,
Fer downe yn the wodde;
"I her mey master" seyde Leytell John;
They ran as thay wer wode.260
Whan thay to thar master cam,
Leytell John wold not spar;[Pg 30]
"Master, how haffe yow far yn Notynggam?
How haffe yow solde yowr war?"
"Ye, be mey trowthe, Leytyll John,265
Loke thow take no car;
Y haffe browt the screffe of Notynggam,
For all howr chaffar."
"He ys foll wellcom," seyde Lytyll John,
"Thes tydyng ys foll godde;270
The screffe had lever nar a hundred ponde
[He had never sene Roben Hode.]
"Had I west that beforen,
At Notynggam when we wer,
Thow scholde not com yn feyr forest275
Of all thes thowsande eyr."
"That wot y well," seyde Roben,
"Y thanke god that ye be her;
Therfor schall ye leffe yowr horse with hos,
And all your hother ger."280
"That fend I godys forbode," kod the screffe,
"So to lese mey godde;"
"Hether ye cam on horse foll hey,
And hom schall ye go on fote;
And gret well they weyffe at home,285
The woman ys foll godde.[Pg 31]
"Y schall her sende a wheyt palffrey,
Het hambellet as the weynde;
Ner for the loffe of yowr weyffe,
Off mor sorow scholde yow seyng."290
Thes parted Robyn Hode and the screffe,
To Notynggam he toke the waye;
Hes weyffe feyr welcomed hem hom,
And to hem gan sche saye:
"Seyr, how haffe yow fared yn grene foreyst?
Haffe ye browt Roben hom?"296
"Dam, the deyell spede him, bothe bodey and bon,
Y haffe hade a foll grete skorne.
"Of all the god that y haffe lade to grene wod,
He hayt take het fro me,300
All bot this feyr palffrey,
That he hayt sende to the."
With that sche toke op a lowde lawhyng,
And swhar be hem that deyed on tre,
"Now haffe yow payed for all the pottys305
That Roben gaffe to me.[Pg 32]
"Now ye be com hom to Notynggam,
Ye schall haffe god ynowe;"
Now speke we of Roben Hode,
And of the pottyr onder the grene bowhe.310
"Potter, what was they pottys worthe
To Notynggam that y ledde with me?"
"They wer worth two nobellys," seyd he,
"So mot y treyffe or the;
So cowde y had for tham,315
And y had ther be."
"Thow schalt hafe ten ponde," seyde Roben,
"Of money feyr and fre;
And yever whan thou comest to grene wod,
Wellcom, potter to me."320
Thes partyd Robyn, the screffe, and the potter,
Ondernethe the grene-wod tre;
God haffe mersey on Robyn Hodys solle,
And saffe all god yemanrey!

MS. 6, cortessey.

12, ye.

16, lefe.

MS. 17, 21, syde.

28, leffe.

36, A.

MS. 56, leppyd.

MS. 65, felow he.

67, a caward.

69, A.

76, seyde hels.

77, went yemen.

78, thes.

MS. 90, yemerey.

97, grat.

100, yede.

109-112. These lines stand in the MS. in the order 3, 2, 1, 4.

113-116. This stanza is wrongly placed in the MS. after v. 96. It should be either in the place where it stands, or else begin the next fit.

MS. 135, say.

MS. 146, Gereamarsey, sir, seyde sche s'than.

MS. 148, the.

MS. 151, he.

MS. 161, loseth. 164, to to.

MS. 164, to to.

164. This ceremony [of washing,] which, in former times, was constantly practised as well before as after meat, seems to have fallen into disuse on the introduction of forks, about the year 1620; as before that period our ancestors supplied the place of this necessary utensil with their fingers.—Ritson.

169, 170, transposed in MS.

MS. 179, pottys the.

180, bolt yt.

191, senyst.

MS. 214, goe.

218, Robyng gaffe me.

232, mey they.

MS. 250, goy.

251, se.

254, he.

255, her.

258. For.

MS. 265, I leyty.

273, He had west.

283, y.

287. The MS. repeats this line after the following: Het ambellet be mey sey.

MS. 310, bowhes.

316, be ther.

[Pg 33]


Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 27. Printed from an old black-letter copy in the collection of Anthony à Wood. The story is the same as in the second part of Robin Hood and the Potter.

Come, all you brave gallants, and listen awhile,
With hey down, down, an a down,
That are in the bowers within;
For of Robin Hood, that archer good,
A song I intend for to sing.
Upon a time it chancèd so,5
Bold Robin in forrest did 'spy
A jolly butcher, with a bonny fine mare,
With his flesh to the market did hye.
"Good morrow, good fellow," said jolly Robin,
"What food hast [thou]? tell unto me;10
Thy trade to me tell, and where thou dost dwell,
For I like well thy company."
The butcher he answer'd jolly Robin,
"No matter where I dwell;
For a butcher I am, and to Nottingham15
I am going, my flesh to sell."[Pg 34]
"What's [the] price of thy flesh?" said jolly Robin,
"Come, tell it soon unto me;
And the price of thy mare, be she never so dear,
For a butcher fain would I be."20
"The price of my flesh," the butcher repli'd,
"I soon will tell unto thee;
With my bonny mare, and they are not too dear,
Four mark thou must give unto me.
"Four mark I will give thee," saith jolly Robin,25
"Four mark it shall be thy fee;
The mony come count, and let me mount,
For a butcher I fain would be."
Now Robin he is to Nottingham gone,
His butchers trade to begin;30
With good intent to the sheriff he went,
And there he took up his inn.
When other butchers did open their meat,
Bold Robin he then begun;
But how for to sell he knew not well,35
For a butcher he was but young.
When other butchers no meat could sell,
Robin got both gold and fee;[Pg 35]
For he sold more meat for one peny
Then others could do for three.40
But when he sold his meat so fast,
No butcher by him could thrive;
For he sold more meat for one peny
Than others could do for five.
Which made the butchers of Nottingham45
To study as they did stand,
Saying, "Surely he 'is' some prodigal,
That hath sold his fathers land."
The butchers stepped to jolly Robin,
Acquainted with him for to be;50
"Come, brother," one said, "we be all of one trade,
"Come, will you go dine with me?"
"Accurst of his heart," said jolly Robin,
"That a butcher doth deny;
I will go with you, my brethren true,55
As fast as I can hie."
But when to the sheriffs house they came,
To dinner they hied apace,
And Robin Hood he the man must be
Before them all to say grace.60
"Pray God bless us all," said jolly Robin,
"And our meat within this place;[Pg 36]
A cup of sack so good will nourish our blood,
And so do I end my grace.
"Come fill us more wine," said jolly Robin,65
"Let us be merry while we do stay;
For wine and good cheer, be it never so dear,
I vow I the reck'ning will pay.
"Come, 'brothers,' be merry," said jolly Robin,
"Let us drink, and never give ore;70
For the shot I will pay, ere I go my way,
If it cost me five pounds and more."
"This is a mad blade," the butchers then said;
Saies the sheriff, "He is some prodigàl,
That some land has sold for silver and gold,75
And now he doth mean to spend all.
"Hast thou any horn beasts," the sheriff repli'd,
"Good fellow, to sell unto me?"
"Yes, that I have, good master sheriff,
I have hundreds two or three;80
"And a hundred aker of good free land,
If you please it to see:
And Ile make you as good assurance of it,
As ever my father made me."
The sheriff he saddled his good palfrèy,85
And, with three hundred pound in gold,[Pg 37]
Away he went with bold Robin Hood,
His horned beasts to behold.
Away then the sheriff and Robin did ride,
To the forrest of merry Sherwood;90
Then the sheriff did say, "God bless us this day
From a man they call Robin Hood!"
But when a little farther they came,
Bold Robin he chancèd to spy
A hundred head of good red deer,95
Come tripping the sheriff full nigh.
"How like you my horn'd beasts, good master sheriff?
They be fat and fair for to see;"
"I tell thee, good fellow, I would I were gone,
For I like not thy company."100
Then Robin set his horn to his mouth,
And blew but blasts three;
Then quickly anon there came Little John,
And all his company.
"What is your will, master?" then said Little John,105
"Good master come tell unto me;"
"I have brought hither the sheriff of Nottingham
This day to dine with thee."[Pg 38]
"He is welcome to me," then said Little John,
"I hope he will honestly pay;110
I know he has gold, if it be but well told,
Will serve us to drink a whole day."
Then Robin took his mantle from his back,
And laid it upon the ground:
And out of the sheriffs portmantle115
He told three hundred pound.
Then Robin he brought him thorow the wood,
And set him on his dapple gray;
"O have me commended to your wife at home;"
So Robin went laughing away.120

17. What is price.


This interesting ballad (derived from a manuscript of the 15th century,) belongs to the cycle of Robin Hood, as Mr. Wright remarks, "at least by its subject, if not by the person whose death it celebrates." It was first printed by Ritson in his Ancient Songs and Ballads, (i. 81,) and has been again printed by Mr. Wright in a little black-letter volume of Songs and Carols (No. X); from which we take our copy.

The similarity of the name Gandelyn to the Gamelyn of the Cook's Tale, attributed to Chaucer, and the affinity of that story to the Robin Hood ballads, are[Pg 39] alluded to by the last-named editor. Is it not possible that this name reappears again in the "Young Gamwell" of Robin Hood and the Stranger?

The dialect of this piece is proved by an incidental coincidence, says Mr. Wright, to be that of Warwickshire.

I herde a carpyng of a clerk
Al at zone wodes ende,
Of gode Robyn and Gandeleyn
Was ther non other thynge.
Robynn lyth in grene wode Bowndyn.
Stronge theuys wern tho chylderin non,5
But bowmen gode and hende:
He wentyn to wode to getyn hem fleych,
If God wold it hem sende.
Al day wentyn tho chylderin too,
And fleych fowndyn he non,10
Til it were ageyn euyn,
The chylderin wold gon hom:
Half a honderid of fat falyf der
He comyn azon,
And all he wern fayr and fat inow,15
But markyd was ther non.
"Be dere Gode," seyde gode [Robyn],
"Hereof we xul haue on."[Pg 40]
Robyn bent his joly bowe,
Therin he set a flo,20
The fattest der of alle [the herd]
The herte he clef a-to.
He hadde not the der islawe
Ne half out of the hyde,
There cam a schrewde arwe out of the west,25
That felde Roberts pryde.
Gandeleyn lokyd hym est and west
Be euery syde;
"Hoo hat myn mayster slayin,
Ho hat don this dede?30
Xal I neuer out of grene wode go,
Ti[l] I se [his] sydis blede."
Gandeleyn lokyd hym est and lokyd west,
And sowt vnder the sunne,
He saw a lytil boy35
He clepyn Wrennok of Doune:
A good bowe in his hond,
A brod arewe therine,
And fowre and xx goode arwys
Trusyd in a thrumme.40
"Be war the, war the, Gandeleyn,
Herof thu xalt han summe:[Pg 41]
"Be war the, war the, Gandeleyn,
Herof thu gyst plentè."
"Euere on for an other," seyde Gandeleyn,45
"Mysaunter haue he xal fle."
"Qwerat xal our marke be?"
Seyde Gandeleyn:
"Eueryche at otheris herte,"
Seyde Wrennok ageyn.50
"Ho xal zeue the ferste schote?"
Seyde Gandeleyn:
"And I xal zeue thè on beforn,"
Seyd Wrennok ageyn.
Wrennok schette a ful good schote,55
And he schet not too hye;
Throw the sanchothis of his bryk,
It towchyd neyther thye.
"Now hast thu zouyn me on beforn,"
Al thus to Wrennok seyde he,60
"And throw the myzt of our lady
A bettere I xal zeue the."
Gandeleyn bent his goode bowe,
And set therin a flo,
He schet throw his grene certyl,65
His herte he clef on too.[Pg 42]
"Now zalt thu neuer zelpe, Wrennok,
At ale ne at wyn,
That thu hast slawe goode Robyn
And his knaue Gandeleyn.70
"Now xalt thu neuer zelpe, Wrennok,
At wyn ne at ale,
That thu hast slawe goode Robyn
And Gandeleyyn his knave."
Robyn lyzth in grene wode bow[n]dyn.

4, MS. gynge.

19, MS. went.

24, cut of, Ritson.

61, MS. thu.

74, MS. knawe.


Three complete editions of this highly popular poem are known, all without date. The earliest, (perhaps not later than 1520,) is by Wynken de Worde, and has this title: Here beginneth a mery geste of Robyn Hode and his meyne, and of the proude sheryfe of Notyngham. A second is by William Copland, and is apparently made from the former. A third was printed from Copland's, for Edward White, and though without date is entered in the Stationers' Registers in 1594. Portions have been preserved of two other editions, earlier than any of these three. Ritson had in his hands a few leaves of an "old 4to. black-letter impression," by Wynken de Worde, "probably in 1489." The Gest of Robyn Hode was also printed at Edinburgh, in 1508, by Chepman and[Pg 43] Myllar, who in the same year issued a considerable number of poetical tracts. A volume of these, containing a large fragment of the piece in question, was most fortunately recovered towards the end of the last century, and has been reprinted in fac simile by the Messrs. Laing, Edinburgh, 1827.

The Lytell Geste is obviously to be regarded as an heroic poem, constructed, partly or entirely, out of previously existing unconnected "rhymes of Robin Hood." The earlier ballads employed for this purpose have not been handed down to us in their primitive form. Whatever this may have been, they were probably very freely treated by the rhapsodist that strung them together, who has indeed retold the ancient stories with such skill as might well cause the ruder originals to be forgotten. Nevertheless, the third fit of our little epic is indisputably of common derivation with the last part of the older ballad of Robin Hood and the Potter, and other portions of this tale occur separately in ballads, which, though modern in their structure, may have had a source independent of the Lytell Geste.

It will be observed that each fit of this piece does not constitute a complete story. Mr. Hunter has correctly enough indicated the division into ballads as follows: The first ballad is comprised in the first two fits, and may be called Robin Hood and the Knight; the second ballad is the third fit, and may be called Little John and the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire; in the fourth fit we have the ballad of Robin Hood and the Monks of St. Mary; in the fifth and sixth, Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and the Knight; the seventh and part of the eighth contain[Pg 44] the ballad of Robin Hood and the King; and the remaining stanzas of the eighth the Death of Robin Hood.

Concerning the imagined historical foundation of the Lytell Geste, see the general remarks on Robin Hood prefixed to this volume.

Lithe and lysten, gentylmen,
That be of frebore blode;
I shall you tell of a good yemàn,
His name was Robyn Hode.
Robyn was a proude outlawe,5
Whyles he walked on grounde;
So curteyse an outlawe as he was one
Was never none yfounde.
Robyn stode in Bernysdale,
[Pg 45]And lened hym to a tre,10
And by hym stode Lytell Johan,
A good yeman was he;
And also dyde good Scathelock,
And Much the millers sone;
There was no ynche of his body,15
But it was worthe a grome.
Than bespake hym Lytell Johan
All unto Robyn Hode,
"Mayster, yf ye wolde dyne betyme,
It wolde do you moch good."20
Then bespake good Robyn,
"To dyne I have no lest,
Tyll I have some bolde baròn,
Or some unketh gest,
"[Or els some byshop or abbot]25
That may paye for the best;
Or some knyght or some squyere
That dwelleth here by west."[Pg 46]
A good maner than had Robyn,
In londe where that he were,30
Every daye or he woulde dyne
Thre messes wolde he here:
The one in the worshyp of the fader,
The other of the holy goost,
The thyrde was of our dere lady,35
That he loved of all other moste.
Robyn loved our dere lady;
For doute of dedely synne,
Wolde he never do company harme
That ony woman was ynne.40
"Mayster," than sayd Lytell Johan,
"And we our borde shall sprede,
Tell us whether we shall gone,
And what lyfe we shall lede;
"Where we shall take, where we shall leve,45
Where we shall abide behynde,
Where we shall robbe, where we shall reve,
Where we shall bete and bynde."
"Therof no fors," said Robyn,
"We shall do well ynough;50
But loke ye do no housbonde harme
That tylleth with his plough;[Pg 47]
"No more ye shall no good yemàn,
That walketh by grene wode shawe,
Ne no knyght, ne no squyèr,55
That wolde be a good felawe.
"These byshoppes, and thyse archebysshoppes,
Ye shall them bete and bynde;
The hye sheryfe of Notynghame,
Hym holde in your mynde."60
"This worde shall be holde," sayd Lytyll Johan,
"And this lesson shall we lere;
It is ferre dayes, god sende us a gest,
That we were at our dynere."
"Take thy good bowe in thy hande," said Robyn,65
"Let Moche wende with the,
And so shall Wyllyam Scathelocke,
And no man abyde with me:
"And walke up to the Sayles,
[Pg 48]And so to Watlynge-strete,70
And wayte after some unketh gest,
Up-chaunce ye mowe them mete.
"Be he erle or ony baròn,
Abbot or ony knyght,
Brynge hym to lodge to me,75
Hys dyner shall be dyght."
They wente unto the Sayles,
These yemen all thre,
They loked est, they loked west,
They myght no man see.80
But as they loked in Barnysdale,
By a derne strete,
Then came there a knyght rydynge,
Full sone they gan hym mete.
All dreri then was his semblaunte,85
And lytell was hys pryde,
Hys one fote in the sterope stode,
That other waved besyde.
Hys hode hangynge over hys eyen two,
He rode in symple aray;90
A soryer man than he was one
Rode never in somers-day.
Lytell Johan was curteyse,
And set hym on his kne:[Pg 49]
"Welcome be ye, gentyll knyght,95
Welcome are you to me.
"Welcome be thou to grene wood,
Hende knyght and fre;
My mayster hath abyden you fastynge,
Syr, all these oures thre."100
"Who is your mayster?" sayd the knyght.
Johan sayde, "Robyn Hode."
"He is a good yeman," sayd the knyght,
"Of hym I have herde moch good.
"I graunte," he sayd, "with you to wende,105
My brethren, all in-fere;
My purpose was to have deyned to day
At Blythe or Dankastere."
Forthe than went this gentyll knyght,
With a carefull chere;110
The teres out of his eyen ran,
And fell downe by his lere.
They brought hym unto the lodge dore;
When Robyn gan hym se,
Full curteysly dyde of his hode,115
And set hym on his kne.[Pg 50]
"Welcome, syr knyght," then said Robyn,
"Welcome thou arte to me,
I haue abyde you fastynge, syr,
All these houres thre."120
Then answered the gentyll knyght,
With wordes fayre and fre,
"God the save, good Robyn,
And all thy fayre meynè."
They washed togyder and wyped bothe,125
And set tyll theyr dynere;
Brede and wyne they had ynough,
And nombles of the dere.
Swannes and fesauntes they had full good,
And foules of the revere;130
There fayled never so lytell a byrde,
That ever was bred on brere.
"Do gladly, syr knyght," sayd Robyn;
"Gramercy, syr," sayd he,
"Such a dyner had I not135
Of all these wekes thre.
"If I come agayne, Robyn,
Here by this countrè,
As good a dyner I shall the make,
[Pg 51]As thou hast made to me."140
"Gramercy, knyght," sayd Robyn;
"My dyner whan I have,
I was never so gredy, by dere worthy god,
My dyner for to crave.
"But pay or ye wende," sayd Robyn,145
"Me thynketh it is good ryght;
It was never the maner, by dere worthy god,
A yeman to pay for a knyght."
"I have nought in my cofers," sayd the knyght,
"That I may profer for shame;"150
"Lytell Johan, go loke," sayd Robyn,
"Ne let not for no blame.
"Tell me trouth," sayd Robyn,
"So god have parte of the;"
"I have no more but ten shillings," sayd the knyght,155
"So god have parte of me."
"Yf thou have no more," sayd Robyn,
"I wyll not one peny;
And yf thou have nede of ony more,
More shall I len the.160
"Go now forth, Lytell Johan,
The trouthe tell thou me;[Pg 52]
Yf there be no more but ten shillings,
Not one peny that I se."
Lytell Johan spred downe his mantell,165
Full fayre upon the grounde,
And there he found in the knyghtes cofer
But even halfe a pounde.
Lytyll Johan let it lye full styll,
And went to his mayster full lowe:170
"What tydynge, Johan?" sayd Robyn:
"Syr, the knyght is trewe inough."
"Fyll of the best wyne," sayd Robyn,
"The knyght shall begynne;
Moch wonder thynketh me175
Thy clothynge is so thynne.
"Tell me one worde," sayd Robyn,
"And counsell shall it be;
I trowe thou were made a knyght of forse,
Or elles of yemanry;180
"Or elles thou hast ben a sory housband,
And leved in stroke and stryfe;[Pg 53]
An okerer, or elles a lechoure," sayd Robyn,
"With wronge hast thou lede thy lyfe."
"I am none of them," sayd the knyght,185
"By god that made me;
An hondreth wynter here before,
Myne aunsetters knyghtes have be.
"But ofte it hath befal, Robyn,
A man hath be dysgrate;190
But god that syteth in heven above
May amend his state.
"Within two or thre yere, Robyn," he sayd,
"My neyghbores well it kende,
Foure hondreth pounde of good money195
Full wel than myghte I spende.
"Now have I no good," sayd the knyght,
"But my chyldren and my wyfe;
God hath shapen such an ende,
Tyll god may amende my lyfe."200
"In what maner," sayd Robyn,
"Hast thou lore thy richès?"
"For my grete foly," he sayd,
"And for my kindenesse.[Pg 54]
"I had a sone, for soth, Robyn,205
That sholde have ben my eyre,
When he was twenty wynter olde,
In felde wolde juste full feyre.
"He slewe a knyght of Lancastshyre,
And a squyre bolde;210
For to save hym in his ryght,
My goodes beth sette and solde.
"My londes beth set to wedde, Robyn,
Untyll a certayne daye,
To a ryche abbot here besyde,215
Of Saynt Mary abbay."
"What is the somme?" sayd Robyn,
"Trouthe than tell thou me;"
"Syr," he sayd, "foure hondred pounde,
The abbot tolde it to me."220
"Now, and thou lese thy londe," sayd Robyn,
"What shall fall of the?"
"Hastely I wyll me buske," sayd the knyght,
"Over the salte see,
"And se where Cryst was quycke and deed225
On the mounte of Caluarè:
Fare well, frende, and have good daye,
It may noo better be."[Pg 55]
Teeres fell out of his eyen two,
He wolde haue gone his waye:230
"Farewell, frendes, and have good day,
I ne have more to pay."
"Where be thy friendes?" sayd Robyn:
"Syr, never one wyll me know;
Whyle I was ryche inow at home,235
Grete bost then wolde they blowe.
"And now they renne awaye fro me,
As bestes on a rowe;
They take no more heed of me
Then they me never sawe."240
For ruthe then wepte Lytell Johan,
Scathelocke and Much in fere:
"Fyll of the best wyne," sayd Robyn,
"For here is a symple chere.
"Hast thou ony frendes," sayd Robyn,245
"Thy borowes that wyll be?"
"I have none," then sayd the knyght,
"But god that dyed on a tree."
"Do waye thy japes," sayd Robyn,
[Pg 56]"Therof will I right none;250
Wenest thou I wyll have god to borowe,
Peter, Poule, or Johan?
"Nay, by hym that me made,
And shope both sonne and mone;
Fynde a better borowe," sayd Robyn,255
"Or mony getest thou none."
"I have none other," sayd the knyght,
"The sothe for to say,
But yf it be our dere lady,
She fayled me never or this day."260
"By dere worthy god," sayd Robyn,
"To seche all England thorowe,
Yet founde I never to my pay
A moch better borowe.
"Come now forthe, Lytell Johan,265
And goo to my tresourè,
And brynge me foure hondred pounde,
And loke that it well tolde be."
Forthe then wente Lytell Johan,
And Scathelocke went before,270
He tolde out foure houndred pounde,
By eyghtene score.[Pg 57]
"Is this well tolde?" said lytell Much.
Johan sayd, "What greveth the?
It is almes to helpe a gentyll knyght275
That is fall in povertè."
"Mayster," than said Lytell Johan,
"His clothynge is full thynne;
Ye must gyve the knyght a lyveray
To lappe his body ther in.280
"For ye have scarlet and grene, mayster,
And many a ryche aray;
There is no marchaunt in mery Englònde,
So ryche, I dare well saye."
"Take hym thre yerdes of every coloure,285
And loke that well mete it be:"
Lytell Johan toke none other mesure
But his bowe tre.
And of every handfull that he met
He lept ouer fotes thre:290
"What devilkyns draper," sayd litell Much,
"Thynkyst thou to be?"
Scathelocke stoode full styll and lough,
And sayd, "By god allmyght,
Johan may gyve hym the better mesure;295
By god, it cost him but lyght."[Pg 58]
"Mayster," sayd Lytell Johan,
All unto Robyn Hode,
"Ye must gyve that knight an hors,
To lede home al this good."300
"Take hym a gray courser," sayd Robyn,
"And a sadell newe;
He is our ladyes messengere,
God lene that he be true."
"And a good palfraye," sayd lytell Moch,305
"To mayntayne hym in his ryght:"
"And a payre of botes," sayd Scathelocke,
"For he is a gentyll knyght."
"What shalt thou gyve him, Lytel Johan?" sayd Robyn.
"Syr, a payre of gylte spores clene,310
To pray for all this company:
God brynge hym out of tene!"
"Whan shall my daye be," sayd the knyght,
"Syr, and your wyll be?"
"This daye twelve moneth," sayd Robyn,315
"Under this grene wode tre."
"It were grete shame," sayd Robyn,
"A knyght alone to ryde,[Pg 59]
Without squyer, yeman, or page,
To walke by hys syde.320
"I shall the lene Lytyll Johan my man,
For he shall be thy knave;
In a yemans steed he may the stonde,
Yf thou grete nede have."

9 Barnsdale is a tract of country, four or five miles broad, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It was, we are told, woodland until recent inclosures, and is spoken of by Leland as a "woody and famous forest" in the reign of Henry the Eighth. From the depths of this retreat to Doncaster the distance is less than ten miles, and to Nottingham, in a straight line, about fifty. A little to the north of Barnsdale is Pontefract, and a little to the northwest is Wakefield, and beyond this the Priory of Kirklees. Mr. Hunter, whom we follow here, has shown by contemporary evidence that Barnsdale was infested by robbers in the days of the Edwards. "In the last year of the reign of King Edward the First, the bishops of St. Andrew's and Glasgow, and the Abbot of Scone were conveyed, at the King's charge, from Scotland to Winchester. In this journey they had a guard, sometimes of eight archers, sometimes of twelve; but when they had got as far south as Daventry, they had no archers at all in attendance, and proceeded without a guard, in three days from thence to Winchester. But when they passed from Pontefract to Tickhill, the guard had been increased to the number of twenty archers, and the reason given in the account of the expenses of their journey, for this addition to the cost of the conveyance, is given in the two words, propter Barnsdale."

22. lust, Ritson.

69, 70. "The Sayles," is a place no longer known, but it is certain that there was formerly a place of the name in Barnsdale or near it. "It was a very small tenancy of the manor of Pontefract, being not more than the tenth of a knight's fee" (Hunter). Watling Street stands here for the great North Road, probably a Roman highway, which crosses Barnsdale.

85. all his. PCC.

106, so R. (ed. 1489): all three, W. C. (de Worde & Copland).

109, this, R. that, W. C.

112, ere, R.

148, to pay, R. pay, W. C.

151, Robyn, R. Robyn Hoode, W. C.

179. "This stanza is remarkable for containing a reference to one of the old grievances of the people of England. In the reign of Henry the Third, and his son, and grandson, the compelling persons, some of them of no great estate, to take upon them the honour of knighthood, or pay a large sum to be excused, was felt as a heavy oppression."—Hunter.

193, two yere, R.

194, knowe, OCC.

200, it may amende, OCC.

209, lancasesshyre, R.

228, not W. C.

233, by W. C.

234. So R. knowe me, W. C. The fragment of de Worde's older ed. ends with v. 239.

242, also, PCC. for 'in fere.'

243. Wyme, PCC.

272. I.e. by so many score to the hundred. It is certainly a very hyperbolical expression, but he measures the cloth in the same way.—Ritson.

280, helpe, W. wrappe, C.

304. leue, W. lende, C


Nowe is the knyght went on his way,
This game hym thought full good;
When he loked on Bernysdale,
He blyssed Robyn Hode;
And whan he thought on Bernysdale,5
On Scathelock, Much, and Johan,
He blyssed them for the best company
That ever he in come.
Then spake that gentyll knyght,
To Lytel Johan gan he saye,10
"To-morrowe I must to Yorke toune,
To Saynt Mary abbay;
"And to the abbot of that place
Foure hondred pounde I must pay;
And but I be there upon this nyght15
My londe is lost for ay."[Pg 60]
The abbot sayd to his covent,
There he stode on grounde,
"This day twelfe moneth came there a knyght
And borowed foure hondred pounde.20
"[He borowed foure hondred pounde,]
Upon all his londe fre,
But he come this ylke day
Dysheryte shall he be."
"It is full erely," sayd the pryoure,25
"The day is not yet ferre gone;
I had lever to pay an hondred pounde,
And lay it downe anone.
"The knight is ferre beyonde the see,
In Englonde is his ryght,30
And suffreth honger and colde,
And many a sory nyght.
"It were grete pytè," said the pryoure,
"So to have his londe;
And ye be so lyght of your conseyence,35
Ye do to him moch wronge."
"Thou art euer in my berde," sayd the abbot,
"By god and saynt Rycharde;"[Pg 61]
With that cam in a fat-heded monke,
The heygh selerer.40
"He is dede or hanged," sayd the monke,
"By god that bought me dere,
And we shall have to spende in this place
Foure hondred pounde by yere."
The abbot and the hy selerer,45
Sterte forthe full bolde,
The high justyce of Englonde
The abbot there dyde holde.
The hye justyce and many mo
Had take into their honde50
Holy all the knyghtes det,
To put that knyght to wronge.
They demed the knyght wonder sore,
The abbot and hys meynè:
"But he come this ylke day55
Dysheryte shall he be."
"He wyll not come yet," sayd the justyce,
"I dare well undertake;"
But in sorowe tyme for them all
The knyght came to the gate.60
Than bespake that gentyll knyght
Untyll hys meynè,[Pg 62]
"Now put on your symple wedes
That ye brought fro the see."
[They put on their symple wedes,]65
And came to the gates anone;
The porter was redy hymselfe,
And welcomed them everychone.
"Welcome, syr knyght," sayd the portèr,
"My lorde to mete is he,70
And so is many a gentyll man,
For the love of the."
The porter swore a full grete othe,
"By god that made me,
Here be the best coresed hors,75
That ever yet sawe I me.
"Lede them into the stable," he sayd,
"That eased might they be:"
"They shall not come therin," sayd the knyght,
"By god that dyed on a tre."80
Lordes were to mete isette
In that abbotes hall;
The knyght went forth and kneled downe,
And salued them grete and small.
"Do gladly, syr abbot," sayd the knyght,85
"I am come to holde my day:"[Pg 63]
The fyrst word the abbot spake,
"Hast thou brought my pay?"
"Not one peny," sayd the knyght,
"By god that maked me;"90
"Thou art a shrewed dettour," sayd the abbot;
"Syr justyce, drynke to me.
"What doost thou here," sayd the abbot,
"But thou haddest brought thy pay?"
"For god," than sayd the knyght,95
"To pray of a lenger daye."
"Thy daye is broke," sayd the justyce,
"Londe getest thou none:"
"Now, good syr justyce, be my frende,
And fende me of my fone."100
"I am holde with the abbot," sayd the justyce,
"Bothe with cloth and fee:"
"Now, good syr sheryf, be my frende:"
"Nay for god," sayd he.[Pg 64]
"Now, good syr abbot, be my frende,105
For thy curteysè,
And holde my londes in thy honde
Tyll I have made the gree;
"And I wyll be thy true servaunte,
And trewely serve the,110
Tyl ye have foure hondred pounde
Of money good and free."
The abbot sware a full grete othe,
"By god that dyed on a tree,
Get the londe where thou may,115
For thou getest none of me."
"By dere worthy god," then sayd the knyght,
"That all this worlde wrought,
But I have my londe agayne
Full dere it shall be bought.120
"God, that was of a mayden borne,
Lene us well to spede!
For it is good to assay a frende
Or that a man have nede."
The abbot lothely on him gan loke,125
And vylaynesly hym gan call;
"Out," he sayd, "thou false knyght,
Spede the out of my hall!"[Pg 65]
"Thou lyest," then sayd the gentyll knyght,
"Abbot in thy hal;130
False knyght was I never,
By god that made us all."
Up then stode that gentyll knyght,
To the abbot sayd he,
"To suffre a knyght to knele so longe135
Thou canst no curteysye.
"In joustes and in tournement
Full ferre than have I be,
And put myselfe as ferre in prees
As ony that ever I se."140
"What wyll ye gyve more," said the justyce,
"And the knyght shall make a releyse?
And elles dare I safly swere
Ye holde never your londe in pees."
"An hondred pounde," sayd the abbot;145
The justyce said, "Gyve him two;"
"Nay, be god," said the knyght,
"Yet gete ye it not soo.
"Though ye wolde gyve a thousande more,
Yet were ye never the nere;150
Shall there never be myn eyre,
Abbot, justyse, ne frere."[Pg 66]
He sterte hym to a borde anone,
Tyll a table rounde,
And there he shoke out of a bagge155
Even foure hondred pounde.
"Have here thy golde, syr abbot," sayd the knyght,
"Which that thou lentest me;
Haddest thou ben curteys at my comynge,
Rewarde sholdest thou have be."160
The abbot sat styll, and ete no more,
For all his ryall chere;
He caste his hede on his sholdèr,
And fast began to stare.
"Take me my golde agayne," sayd the abbot,165
"Syr justyce, that I toke the;"
"Not a peny," sayd the justyce,
"By god, that dyed on a tree."
"Syr abbot, and ye men of lawe,
Now have I holde my daye,170
Now shall I have my londe agayne,
For ought that you can saye."
The knyght stert out of the dore,
Awaye was all his care,
And on he put his good clothynge,175
The other he lefte there.[Pg 67]
He wente hym forthe full mery syngynge,
As men have tolde in tale,
His lady met hym at the gate,
At home in Uterysdale.180
"Welcome, my lorde," sayd his lady;
"Syr, lost is all your good?"
"Be mery, dame," sayd the knyght,
"And praye for Robyn Hode,
"That ever his soule be in blysse;185
He holpe me out of my tene;
Ne had not be his kyndenesse,
Beggers had we ben.
"The abbot and I acordyd ben,
He is served of his pay,190
The good yeman lent it me,
As I came by the way."
This knyght than dwelled fayre at home,
The soth for to say,
Tyll he had got foure hondreth pounde,195
All redy for too paye.
He purveyed hym an hondred bowes,
The strenges welle [y-]dyght,[Pg 68]
An hondred shefe of arowes good,
The hedes burnyshed full bryght.200
And every arowe an elle longe,
With pecocke well ydyght,
Inocked all with whyte sylvèr,
It was a semly syght.
He purveyed hym an hondreth men,205
Well harneysed in that stede,
And hymselfe in that same sete,
And clothed in whyte and rede.
He bare a launsgay in his honde,
And a man ledde his male,210
And reden with a lyght songe
Unto Bernysdale.
As he went at brydge ther was a wrastelyng,
And there taryed was he,
And there was all the best yemèn,215
Of all the west countree.
A full fayre game there was upset;
A whyte bull up ipyght,
A grete courser with sadle and brydil,
With golde burneyshed full bryght;220
A payre of gloves, a rede golde rynge,
A pype of wyne, in good fay;[Pg 69]
What man bereth him best, i-wys,
The pryce shall bere away.
There was a yeman in that place,225
And best worthy was he,
And for he was ferre and frend bestad,
Islayne he sholde have be.
The knyght had reuth of this yemàn,
In place where that he stode,230
He said that yoman sholde have no harme,
For love of Robyn Hode.
The knyght presed into the place,
An hondred folowed hym fre,
With bowes bent, and arowes sharpe,235
For to shende that company.
They sholdred all, and made hym rome,
To wete what he wolde say;
He toke the yeman by the honde,
And gave hym all the playe.240
He gave hym fyve marke for his wyne,
There it laye on the molde,
And bad it sholde be sette a broche,
Drynke who so wolde.
Thus longe taryed this gentyll knyght,245
Tyll that playe was done,[Pg 70]
So longe abode Robyn fastynge,
Thre houres after the none.

1, Ritson, this way.

2, hym, sic Ch. & M.

25. The prior, in an abbey, was the officer immediately under the abbot; in priories and conventual cathedrals he was the superior.—Ritson.

101, 2. I.e., the Chief Justice had been retained for the abbot by robe and fee. A writer in Notes and Queries, (vol. vi. p. 479,) quotes statutes of Edward I. and Edward III. against maintenance, in which the abuse of robes and fees is mentioned, and cites the following clause from the oath required to be taken by justices: "And that ye will take no fee so long as ye shall be justices, nor robes, of any man great or small, except of the king himself."

122, leue, W. Lende us, C.

126, loke (for call), W. C.

148, grete, W. get, C.

150, thou. PCC.

180. This is a place unknown. There is a forest in Lancashire, observes Ritson, of the name of Wierysdale, but it appears subsequently that the knight's castle was in Nottinghamshire.

207, sute, C.

218, I up pyght, W. up ypyght, C.

234, fere, W. in fere, C.


Lyth and lysten, gentyll men,
All that now be here,
Of Lytell Johan, that was the knyghtes man,
Good myrthe ye shall here.
It was upon a mery day,5
That yonge men wolde go shete,
Lytell Johan fet his bowe anone,
And sayd he wolde them mete.
Thre tymes Lytell Johan shot about,
And always cleft the wande;10
The proude sheryf of Notyngham
By the markes gan stande.
The sheryf swore a full grete othe,
By hym that dyed on a tre,
This man is the best archere15
That yet sawe I me.
"Say me now, wyght yonge man,
What is now thy name?
In what countre were thou born,
[Pg 71]And where is thy wonnynge wane?"20
"In Holdernesse I was bore,
I-wys all of my dame;
Men call me Reynolde Grenelefe,
Whan I am at hame."
"Say me, Reynaud Grenelefe,25
Wolte thou dwell with me?
And every yere I wyll the gyve
Twenty marke to thy fee."
"I have a mayster," sayd Lytell Johan,
"A curteys knight is he;30
May ye gete leve of hym,
The better may it bee."
The sheryfe gate Lytell Johan
Twelve monethes of the knyght;
Therfore he gave him ryght anone35
A good hors and a wyght.
Now is Lytel Johan the sheryffes man,
God gyve us well to spede,
But alway thought Lytell Johan
To quyte hym well his mede.40
"Now so god me helpe," sayd Lytel Johan,
"And be my trewe lewtè,
I shall be the worste servaunte to hym
That ever yet had he."[Pg 72]
It befell upon a Wednesday,45
The sheryfe on hontynge was gone,
And Lytel Johan lay in his bed,
And was foryete at home.
Therfore he was fastynge
Tyl it was past the none;50
"Good syr stuard, I pray the,
Geve me to dyne," sayd Lytel Johan.
"It is to long for Grenelefe,
Fastynge so long to be;
Therfore I pray the, stuarde,55
My dyner gyve thou me."
"Shalt thou never ete ne drynke," said the stuarde,
"Tyll my lord be come to towne;"
"I make myn avowe to god," sayd Lytell Johan,
"I had lever to cracke thy crowne."60
The butler was full uncurteys,
There he stode on flore;
He sterte to the buttery,
And shet fast the dore.
Lytell Johan gave the buteler such a rap,65
His backe yede nygh on two;[Pg 73]
Tho he lyved an hundreth wynter,
The wors he sholde go.
He sporned the dore with his fote,
It went up wel and fyne,70
And there he made a large lyveray
Both of ale and wyne.
"Syth ye wyl not dyne," sayd Lytel Johan,
"I shall gyve you to drynke,
And though ye lyve an hondred wynter,75
On Lytell Johan ye shall thynk."
Lytell Johan ete, and Lytell [Johan] dronke,
The whyle that he wolde;
The sheryfe had in hys kechyn a coke,
A stoute man and a bolde.80
"I make myn avowe to god," sayd the coke,
"Thou arte a shrewde hynde,
In an householde to dwel,
For to ask thus to dyne."
And there he lent Lytel Johan85
Good strokes thre;
"I make myn avowe," said Lytell Johan,
"These strokes lyketh well me.
"Thou arte a bolde man and an hardy
And so thynketh me;90[Pg 74]
And or I passe fro this place,
Asayed better shalt thou be."
Lytell Johan drewe a good swerde,
The coke toke another in honde;
They thought nothynge for to fle,95
But styfly for to stonde.
There they fought sore togyder,
Two myle way and more;
Myght neyther other harme done,
The mountenaunce of an houre.100
"I make myn avowe to god," sayd Lytell Johan,
"And be my trewe lewtè,
Thou art one of the best swerdemen,
That ever yet sawe I me.
"Coowdest thou shote as well in a bowe,105
To grene wood thou sholdest with me,
And two tymes in the yere thy clothynge
Ichaunged sholde be;
"And every yere of Robyn Hode
Twenty marke to thy fee:"110
"Put up thy swerde," sayd the coke,
"And felowes wyll we be."
Then he fette to Lytell Johan
The numbles of a doo,[Pg 75]
Good brede and full good wyne;115
They ete and dranke therto.
And whan they had dronken well,
Ther trouthes togyder they plyght,
That they wolde be with Robyn
That ylke same day at nyght.120
They dyde them to the tresure-hous,
As fast as they myght gone;
The lockes, that were of good stele,
They brake them everychone.
They toke away the sylver vessell,125
And all that they myght get,
Peces, masars, and spones
Wolde they non forgete.
Also they toke the good pence,
Thre hondred pounde and three,130
And dyde them strayt to Robyn Hode,
Under the grene wode tre.
"God the save, my dere maystèr,
And Cryst the save and se;"
And than sayd Robyn to Lytell Johan,135
"Welcome myght thou be;
"And also be that fayre yemàn
Thou bryngest there with the.[Pg 76]
What tydynges fro Notyngham?
Lytell Johan, tell thou me."140
"Well the greteth the proude sheryfe,
And sende the here by me
His coke and his sylver vessell,
And thre hondred pounde and thre."
"I make myn avow to god," sayd Robyn,145
"And to the trenytè,
It was never by his good wyll
This good is come to me."
Lytell Johan hym there bethought
On a shrewed wyle;150
Fyve myle in the forest he ran,
Hym happed at his wyll.
Than he met the proud sheryf,
Huntynge with hounde and horne;
Lytell Johan coud his curteysye,155
And kneled hym beforne.
"God the save, my dere maystèr,
And Cryst the save and se;"
"Raynolde Grenelefe," sayd the sheryfe,
"Where hast thou nowe be?"160
"I have be in this forest,
A fayre syght can I se;[Pg 77]
It was one of the fayrest syghtes
That ever yet sawe I me.
"Yonder I se a ryght fayre hart,165
His coloure is of grene;
Seven score of dere upon an herde
Be with hym all bedene.
"His tynde are so sharp, maystèr,
Of sexty and well mo,170
That I durst not shote for drede
Lest they wolde me sloo."
"I make myn avowe to god," sayd the sheryf,
"That syght wolde I fayn se;"
"Buske you thyderwarde, my dere maystèr,175
Anone, and wende with me."
The sheryfe rode, and Lytell Johan
Of fote he was full smarte;
And when they came afore Robyn,
"Lo, here is the mayster harte!"180
Styll stode the proud sheryf,
A sory man was he:
"Wo worthe the, Raynolde Grenelefe!
Thou hast now betrayed me."
"I make myn avowe to god," sayd Lytell Johan,185
[Pg 78]"Mayster, ye be to blame,
I was mysserved of my dynere,
When I was with you at hame."
Soone he was to super sette,
And served with sylver whyte;190
And whan the sheryf se his vessell,
For sorowe he myght not ete.
"Make good chere," sayd Robyn Hode,
"Sheryfe, for charytè,
And for the love of Lytell Johan,195
Thy lyfe is graunted to the."
When they had supped well,
The day was all agone,
Robyn commaunded Lytell Johan
To drawe of his hosen and his shone,200
His kyrtell and his cote-a-pye,
That was furred well fyne,
And take him a grene mantèll,
To lappe his body therin.
Robyn commaunded his wyght young men,205
Under the grene wood tre,
They shall lay in that same sorte,
That the sheryf myght them se.
All nyght laye that proud sheryf
[Pg 79]In his breche and in his sherte;210
No wonder—it was in grene wode,—
Tho his sydes do smerte.
"Make glad chere," sayd Robyn Hode,
"Sheryfe, for charytè,
For this is our order i-wys,215
Under the grene wood tre."
"This is harder order," sayd the sheryfe,
"Than ony anker or frere;
For al the golde in mery Englonde,
I wolde not longe dwell here."220
"All these twelve monethes," sayd Robyn,
"Thou shalte dwell with me;
I shall the teche, proud sheryfe,
An outlawe for to be."
"Or I here another nyght lye," sayd the sheryfe,225
"Robyn, nowe I pray the,
Smyte of my hede rather to-morne,
And I forgyve it the.
"Lete me go," then sayd the sheryf,
"For saynt Charytè,230
And I wyll be the best frende
That ever yet had ye."
"Thou shalte swere me an othe," sayd Robyn,
"On my bryght bronde,[Pg 80]
Thou shalt never awayte me scathe,235
By water ne by londe;
"And if thou fynde ony of my men,
By nyght or by day,
Upon thyne othe thou shalt swere
To helpe them that thou may."240
Now hathe the sheryf iswore his othe,
And home he began to gone;
He was as full of grene wode
As ever was hepe of stone.

6, shote, W.

10, he sleste, W.

19, thou wast, C. wast thou, Wh.

20, wane, Ch. & M. wan, R.

41. He, Ritson. Ge. W. f. God.

70, Ch. & M. open.

121, hyed, C.

150, whyle, W.

163, syght, W. sightes, C.

183, wo the worth, W.

232, ye, Ch. & M. the, R.

241, have, R. hathe, Ch. & M.


The sheryf dwelled in Notynghame,
He was fayne that he was gone,
And Robyn and his mery men
Went to wode anone.
"Go we to dyner," sayd Lytell Johan;5
Robyn Hode sayd, "Nay;
For I drede our lady be wroth with me,
For she sent me not my pay."
"Have no dout, mayster," sayd Lytell Johan,
"Yet is not the sonne at rest;10
For I dare saye, and saufly swere,
The knyght is trewe and trust."[Pg 81]
"Take thy bowe in thy hande," sayd Robyn,
"Let Moche wende with the,
And so shall Wyllyam Scathelock,15
And no man abyde with me.
"And walk up into the Sayles,
And to Watlynge-strete,
And wayte after some unketh gest;
Up-chaunce ye may them mete.20
"Whether he be messengere,
Or a man that myrthes can,
Or yf he be a pore man,
Of my good he shall have some."
Forth then stert Lytel Johan,25
Half in tray and tene,
And gyrde hym with a full good swerde,
Under a mantel of grene.
They went up to the Sayles,
These yemen all thre;30
They loked est, they loked west,
They myght no man se.
But as he loked in Bernysdale,
By the hye waye,
Than were they ware of two blacke monkes,35
Eche on a good palferay.[Pg 82]
Then bespake Lytell Johan,
To Much he gan say,
"I dare lay my lyfe to wedde,
That these monkes have brought our pay.40
"Make glad chere," sayd Lytell Johan,
"And frese our bowes of ewe,
And loke your hertes be seker and sad,
Your strynges trusty and trewe.
"The monke hath fifty two men,45
And seven somers full stronge;
There rydeth no bysshop in this londe
So ryally, I understond.
"Brethern," sayd Lytell Johan,
"Here are no more but we thre;50
But we brynge them to dyner,
Our mayster dare we not se.
"Bende your bowes," sayd Lytell Johan,
"Make all yon prese to stonde;
The formost monke, his lyfe and his deth55
Is closed in my honde.
"Abyde, chorle monke," sayd Lytell Johan,
"No ferther that thou gone;
Yf thou doost, by dere worthy god,
[Pg 83]Thy deth is in my honde.60
"And evyll thryfte on thy hede," sayd Lytell Johan,
"Ryght under thy hattes bonde,
For thou hast made our mayster wroth,
He is fastynge so longe."
"Who is your mayster?" sayd the monke;65
Lytell Johan sayd "Robyn Hode;"
"He is a stronge thefe," sayd the monke,
"Of hym herd I never good."
"Thou lyest," than sayd Lytell Johan,
"And that shall rewe the;70
He is a yeman of the forèst,
To dyne he hath bode the."
Much was redy with a bolte,
Redly and anone,
He set the monke to fore the brest,75
To the grounde that he can gone.
Of fyfty two wyght yonge men
There abode not one,
Saf a lytell page, and a grome,
To lede the somers with Johan.80
They brought the monke to the lodge dore,
Whether he were loth or lefe,
For to speke with Robyn Hode,
Maugre in theyr tethe.[Pg 84]
Robyn dyde adowne his hode,85
The monke whan that he se;
The monke was not so curteyse,
His hode then let he be.
"He is a chorle, mayster, by dere worthy god,"
Than said Lytell Johan:90
"Thereof no force," sayd Robyn,
"For curteysy can he none.
"How many men," sayd Robyn,
"Had this monke, Johan?"
"Fifty and two whan that we met,95
But many of them be gone."
"Let blowe a horne," sayd Robyn,
"That felaushyp may us knowe;"
Seven score of wyght yemen,
Came pryckynge on a rowe.100
And everych of them a good mantell
Of scarlet and of raye;
All they came to good Robyn,
To wyte what he wolde say.
They made the monke to washe and wype,105
And syt at his denere,
Robyn Hode and Lytel Johan
They served him bothe in fere.[Pg 85]
"Do gladly, monke," sayd Robyn.
"Gramercy, syr," said he.110
"Where is your abbay, whan ye are at home,
And who is your avowè?"
"Saynt Mary abbay," sayd the monke,
"Though I be symple here."
"In what offyce?" sayd Robyn:115
"Syr, the hye selerer."
"Ye be the more welcome," sayd Robyn,
"So ever mote I the:
Fyll of the best wyne," sayd Robyn,
"This monke shall drynke to me.120
"But I have grete mervayle," sayd Robyn,
"Of all this longe day;
I drede our lady be wroth with me,
She sent me not my pay."
"Have no doute, mayster," sayd Lytell Johan,
"Ye have no nede I saye;126
This monke it hath brought, I dare well swere,
For he is of her abbay."
"And she was a borowe," sayd Robyn,
"Betwene a knyght and me,130
Of a lytell money that I hym lent,
Under the grene wode tree.[Pg 86]
"And yf thou hast that sylver ibroughte,
I pray the let me se;
And I shall helpe the eftsones,135
Yf thou have nede of me."
The monke swore a full grete othe,
With a sory chere,
"Of the borowehode thou spekest to me,
Herde I never ere."140
"I make myn avowe to god," sayd Robyn,
"Monke, thou art to blame;
For god is holde a ryghtwys man,
And so is his dame.
"Thou toldest with thyn owne tonge,145
Thou may not say nay,
How thou arte her servaunt,
And servest her every day.
"And thou art made her messengere,
My money for to pay;150
Therefore I can the more thanke,
Thou arte come at thy day.
"What is in your cofers?" sayd Robyn,
"Trewe than tell thou me:"
"Syr," he sayd, "twenty marke,155
Al so mote I the."[Pg 87]
"Yf there be no more," sayd Robyn,
"I wyll not one peny;
Yf thou hast myster of ony more,
Syr, more I shall lende to the;160
"And yf I fynde more," sayd Robyn,
"I-wys thou shalte it forgone;
For of thy spendynge sylver, monk,
Thereof wyll I ryght none.
"Go nowe forthe, Lytell Johan,165
And the trouth tell thou me;
If there be no more but twenty marke,
No peny that I se."
Lytell Johan spred his mantell downe,
As he had done before,170
And he tolde out of the monkes male
Eyght hundreth pounde and more.
Lytell Johan let it lye full styll,
And went to his mayster in hast;
"Syr," he sayd, "the monke is trewe ynowe,175
Our lady hath doubled your cost."
"I make myn avowe to god," sayd Robyn,
"Monke, what tolde I the?
Our lady is the trewest womàn
[Pg 88]That ever yet founde I me.180
"By dere worthy god," said Robyn,
"To seche all England thorowe,
Yet founde I never to my pay
A moche better borowe.
"Fyll of the best wyne, do hym drynke," said Robyn,185
"And grete well thy lady hende,
And yf she have nede of Robyn Hode,
A frende she shall hym fynde.
"And yf she nedeth ony more sylvèr,
Come thou agayne to me,190
And, by this token she hath me sent,
She shall have such thre."
The monke was going to London ward,
There to holde grete mote,
The knyght that rode so hye on hors,195
To brynge hym under fote.
"Whether be ye away?" sayd Robyn.
"Syr, to maners in this londe,
Too reken with our reves,
That have done moch wronge."200
"Come now forth, Lytell Johan,
And harken to my tale;
A better yemen I knowe none,
To seke a monkes male."[Pg 89]
"How much is in yonder other cofer?" said Robyn,205
"The soth must we see:"
"By our lady," than sayd the monke,
"That were no curteysye,
"To bydde a man to dyner,
And syth hym bete and bynde."210
"It is our olde maner," sayd Robyn,
"To leve but lytell behynde."
The monke toke the hors with spore,
No lenger wolde he abyde:
"Aske to drynke," than sayd Robyn,215
"Or that ye forther ryde."
"Nay, for god," than sayd the monke,
"Me reweth I cam so nere;
For better chepe I myght have dyned
In Blythe or in Dankestere."220
"Grete well your abbot," sayd Robyn,
"And your pryour, I you pray,
And byd hym send me such a monke
To dyner every day."
Now lete we that monke be styll,225
And speke we of that knyght:
Yet he came to holde his day,
Whyle that it was lyght.[Pg 90]
He dyde him streyt to Bernysdale,
Under the grene wode tre,230
And he founde there Robyn Hode,
And all his mery meynè.
The knyght lyght downe of his good palfrày;
Robyn whan he gan see,
So curteysly he dyde adoune his hode,235
And set hym on his knee.
"God the save, good Robyn Hode,
And al this company:"
"Welcome be thou, gentyll knyght,
And ryght welcome to me."240
Than bespake hym Robyn Hode,
To that knyght so fre,
"What nede dryveth the to grene wode?
I pray the, syr knyght, tell me.
"And welcome be thou, gentyl knyght,245
Why hast thou be so longe?"
"For the abbot and the hye justyce
Wolde have had my londe."
"Hast thou thy londe agayne?" sayd Robyn;
"Treuth than tell thou me."250
"Ye, for god," sayd the knyght,
"And that thanke I god and the.[Pg 91]
"But take not a grefe, I have be so longe;
I came by a wrastelynge,
And there I dyd holpe a pore yemàn,255
With wronge was put behynde."
"Nay, for god," sayd Robyn,
"Syr knyght, that thanke I the;
What man that helpeth a good yemàn,
His frende than wyll I be."260
"Have here foure hondred pounde," than sayd the knyght,
"The whiche ye lent to me;
And here is also twenty marke
For your curteysy."
"Nay, for god," than sayd Robyn,265
"Thou broke it well for ay;
For our lady, by her selerer,
Hath sent to me my pay.
"And yf I toke it twyse,
A shame it were to me:270
But trewely, gentyll knyght,
Welcom arte thou to me."
Whan Robyn had tolde his tale,
He leugh and had good chere:[Pg 92]
"By my trouthe," then sayd the knyght.275
"Your money is redy here."
"Broke it well," sayd Robyn,
"Thou gentyll knyght so fre;
And welcome be thou, gentill knyght,
Under my trystell tree.280
"But what shall these bowes do?" sayd Robyn,
"And these arowes ifedered fre?"
"By god," than sayd the knyght,
"A pore present to the."
"Come now forth, Lytell Johan,285
And go to my treasurè,
And brynge me there foure hondred pounde,
The monke over-tolde it me.
"Have here foure hondred pounde,
Thou gentyll knyght and trewe,290
And bye hors and harnes good,
And gylte thy spores all newe.
"And yf thou fayle ony spendynge,
Com to Robyn Hode,
And by my trouth thou shalt none fayle,295
The whyles I have any good.
"And broke well thy four hundred pound,
Whiche I lent to the,[Pg 93]
And make thy selfe no more so bare,
By the counsell of me."300
Thus than holpe hym good Robyn,
The knyght all of his care:
God, that sytteth in heven hye,
Graunte us well to fare.

19, such, W.

54, you, W. Make you yonder preste, C.

77, yemen, C.

80, Lytell Johan. O. CC.

108, them bothe, O. CC.

136, to, W.

149, nade, W. not in C.

172. Eyght pounde, W.

187, to, W.

205, corser, W. courser, C.

249, gayne, W.


But take not a grefe, sayd the knyght,
That I have be so longe. O. CC.

269. I twyse, W.

280, thi trusty, C.

302, this care, W.

303, syt, W.


Now hath the knyght his leve itake,
And wente hym on his way;
Robyn Hode and his mery men
Dwelled styll full many a day.
Lyth and lysten, gentilmen,5
And herken what I shall say,
How the proud sheryfe of Notyngham
Dyde crye a full fayre play;
That all the best archers of the north
Sholde come upon a daye,10
And he that shoteth altherbest
The game shall bere away.
He that shoteth altherbest
Furthest fayre and lowe,[Pg 94]
At a payre of fynly buttes,15
Under the grene wode shawe,
A ryght good arowe he shall have,
The shaft of sylver whyte,
The heade and the feders of ryche rede golde,
In Englond is none lyke.20
This then herde good Robyn,
Under his trystell tre:
"Make you redy, ye wyght yonge men;
That shotynge wyll I se.
"Buske you, my mery yonge men,25
Ye shall go with me;
And I wyll wete the shryves fayth,
Trewe and yf he be."
Whan they had theyr bowes ibent,
Theyr takles fedred fre,30
Seven score of wyght yonge men
Stode by Robyns kne.
"Whan they cam to Notyngham,
The buttes were fayre and longe;
Many was the bolde archere35
That shoted with bowes stronge.
"There shall but syx shote with me;
The other shal kepe my hede.[Pg 95]
And stande with good bowes bent,
That I be not desceyved."40
The fourth outlawe his bowe gan bende,
And that was Robyn Hode,
And that behelde the proude sheryfe,
All by the but he stode.
Thryes Robyn shot about,45
And alway he slist the wand,
And so dyde good Gylberte
With the whyte hande.
Lytell Johan and good Scatheloke
Were archers good and fre;50
Lytell Much and good Reynolde,
The worste wolde they not be.
Whan they had shot aboute,
These archours fayre and good,
Evermore was the best,55
Forsoth, Robyn Hode.
Hym was delyvered the goode aròw,
For best worthy was he;
He toke the yeft so curteysly,
To grene wode wolde he.60
They cryed out on Robyn Hode,
And great hornes gan they blowe:[Pg 96]
"Wo worth the, treason!" sayd Robyn,
"Full evyl thou art to knowe.
"And wo be thou, thou proud sheryf,65
Thus gladdynge thy gest;
Other wyse thou behote me
In yonder wylde forest.
"But had I the in grene wode,
Under my trystell tre,70
Thou sholdest leve me a better wedde
Than thy trewe lewtè."
Full many a bowe there was bent,
And arowes let they glyde,
Many a kyrtell there was rent,75
And hurt many a syde.
The outlaws shot was so stronge,
That no man myght them dryve,
And the proud sheryfes men
They fled away full blyve.80
Robyn sawe the busshement to-broke,
In grene wode he wolde have be;
Many an arowe there was shot
Amonge that company.
Lytell Johan was hurte full sore,85
With an arowe in his kne,[Pg 97]
That he myght neyther go nor ryde;
It was full grete pytè.
"Mayster," then sayd Lytell Johan,
"If ever thou lovest me,90
And for that ylke lordes love,
That dyed upon a tre,
"And for the medes of my servyce,
That I have served the,
Lete never the proude sheryf95
Alyve now fynde me.
"But take out thy browne swerde,
And smyte all of my hede,
And gyve me woundes dede and wyde,
No lyfe on me be lefte."100
"I wolde not that," sayd Robyn,
"Johan, that thou were slawe,
For all the golde in mery Englond,
Though it lay now on a rawe."
"God forbede," sayd lytell Much,105
"That dyed on a tre,
That thou sholdest, Lytell Johan,
Parte our company."[Pg 98]
Up he toke him on his backe,
And bare hym well a myle;110
Many a tyme he layd hym downe,
And shot another whyle.
Then was there a fayre castèll,
A lytell within the wode,
Double-dyched it was about,115
And walled, by the rode.
And there dwelled that gentyll knyght,
Syr Richard at the Lee,
That Robyn had lent his good,
Under the grene wode tree.120
In he toke good Robyn,
And all his company;
"Welcome be thou, Robyn Hode,
Welcome arte thou me;
"And moche [I] thanke the of thy comfort,125
And of thy curteysye,
And of thy grete kyndenesse,
Under the grene wode tre.
"I love no man in all this worlde
So much as I do the;130
For all the proud sheryf of Notyngham,
Ryght here shalt thou be.[Pg 99]
"Shyt the gates, and drawe the bridge,
And let no man com in;
And arme you well, and make you redy,135
And to the walle ye wynne.
"For one thyng, Robyn, I the behote,
I swere by saynt Quyntyn,
These twelve dayes thou wonest with me,
To suppe, ete, and dyne."140
Bordes were layed, and clothes spred,
Reddely and anone;
Robyn Hode and his mery men
To mete gan they gone.

11. And that shoteth al ther best, W. And they that shote al of the best, C.

13, al theyre, W. al of the, C.

46, they slist, W. he clefte, C.

80, belyve, C.

100. That I after eate no bread, C.


Lythe and lysten, gentylmen,
And herken unto your songe,
How the proude sheryfe of Notyngham,
And men of armes stronge,
Full faste came to the hye sheryfe,5
The countre up to rout,
And they beset the knyghts castèll,
The walles all about.
The proude sheryfe loude gan crye,
And sayd, "Thou traytour knyght,10
Thou kepeste here the kynges enemye,
Agayne the lawes and ryght."[Pg 100]
"Syr, I wyll avowe that I have done,
The dedes that here be dyght,
Upon all the londes that I have,15
As I am a trewe knyght.
"Wende forthe, syrs, on your waye,
And doth do more to me,
Tyll ye wytte our kynges wyll,
What he woll say to the."20
The sheref thus had his answere,
With out ony leasynge;
Forthe he yode to London toune,
All for to tel our kynge.
There he tolde hym of that knyght,25
And eke of Robyn Hode,
And also of the bolde archeres,
That noble were and good.
"He wolde avowe that he had done,
To mayntayne the outlawes stronge,30
He wolde be lorde, and set you at nought,
In all the north londe."
"I woll be at Notyngham," sayd the kynge,
"Within this fourtynyght,
And take I wyll Robyn Hode,35
And so I wyll that knyght.[Pg 101]
"Go home, thou proud sheryf,
And do as I bydde the,
And ordayne good archeres inowe
Of all the wyde countree."40
The sheryf had his leve itake,
And went hym on his way;
And Robyn Hode to grene wode [went]
Upon a certayn day.
And Lytell Johan was hole of the arowe,45
That shote was in his kne,
And dyde hym strayte to Robyn Hode,
Under the grene wode tre.
Robyn Hode walked in the foreste,
Under the leves grene;50
The proud sheryfe of Notyngham,
Therfore he had grete tene.
The sheryf there fayled of Robyn Hode,
He myght not have his pray;
Then he awayted that gentyll knyght,55
Bothe by nyght and by daye.
Ever he awayted that gentyll knyght,
Syr Rychard at the Lee;
As he went on haukynge by the ryver syde
[Pg 102]And let his haukes flee,60
Toke he there this gentyll knyght,
With men of armes stronge,
And lad hym home to Notyngham warde,
Ibonde both fote and honde.
The sheryf swore a full grete othe,65
By hym that dyed on rode,
He had lever than an hondrede pounde,
That he had Robyn Hode.
Then the lady, the knyghtes wyfe,
A fayre lady and fre,70
She set her on a gode palfrày,
To grene wode anon rode she.
When she came to the forèst,
Under the grene wode tre,
Founde she there Robyn Hode,75
And all his fayre meynè.
"God the save, good Robyn Hode,
And all thy company;
For our dere ladyes love,
A bone graunte thou me.80
"Let thou never my wedded lorde
Shamfully slayne to be;[Pg 103]
He is fast ibounde to Notyngham warde,
For the love of the."
Anone then sayd good Robyn,85
To that lady fre,
"What man hath your lorde itake?"
"The proude shirife," than sayd she.
["The proude sheryfe hath hym itake]
Forsoth as I the say;90
He is not yet thre myles
Passed on his waye."
Up then sterte good Robyn,
As a man that had be wode;
"Buske you, my mery young men,95
For hym that dyed on a rode.
"And he that this sorowe forsaketh,
By hym that dyed on a tre,
And by him that al thinges maketh,
No lenger shall dwell with me."100
Sone there were good bowes ibent,
Mo than seven score,[Pg 104]
Hedge ne dyche spared they none,
That was them before.
"I make myn avowe to god," sayd Robyn,105
"The sheryf wolde I fayn se,
And yf I may hym take,
Iquyt than shall he bee."
And whan they came to Notyngham,
They walked in the strete,110
And with the proud sheryf, i-wys,
Sone gan they mete.
"Abyde, thou proud sheryf," he sayd,
"Abyde and speake with me,
Of some tydynges of our kynge,115
I wolde fayne here of the.
"This seven yere, by dere worthy god,
Ne yede I so fast on fote;
I make myn avowe to god, thou proude sheryfe,
That is not for thy good."120
Robyn bent a good bowe,
An arrowe he drewe at his wyll,
He hyt so the proud sheryf,
Upon the ground he lay full styll.[Pg 105]
And or he myght up aryse,125
On his fete to stonde,
He smote of the sheryves hede,
With his bryght bronde.
"Lye thou there, thou proude sheryf,
Evyll mote thou thryve;130
There myght no man to the trust,
The whyles thou were alyve."
His men drewe out theyr bryght swerdes,
That were so sharpe and kene,
And layde on the sheryves men,135
And dryved them downe bydene.
Robyn stert to that knyght,
And cut a two his bonde,
And toke hym in his hand a bowe,
And bade hym by hym stonde.140
"Leve thy hors the behynde,
And lerne for to renne;
Thou shalt with me to grene wode,
Through myre, mosse, and fenne.
"Thou shalt with me to grene wode,145
Without ony leasynge,
Tyll that I have gete us grace
Of Edwarde, our comly kynge."

14, thou, W.

38, the bydde, OCC.

64, honde and fote, W. foote and hande, C.

66, on a tre, R. rode, Ch. & M.

77. God the good Robyn, W.

79, lady, W.

81. Late.

82. Shamly I slayne be, W.

88. Forsoth as I the say, W.

92, your waye, W. You may them over take, C.

99, 100.

Shall he never in grene wode be,
Nor longer dwell with me. W.

106, sherif, Ch. & M. knyght, R.

108, it, W.

120. At, W. That, C. boote for good, Wh.

138, hoode, W. bande, C.][Pg 106]


The kynge came to Notynghame,
With knyghtes in grete araye,
For to take that gentyll knyght
And Robyn Hode, yf he may.
He asked men of that countrè,5
After Robyn Hode,
And after that gentyll knyght,
That was so bolde and stout.
Whan they had tolde hym the case
Our kynge understonde ther tale,10
And seased in his honde
The knyghtes londes all.
All the passe of Lancasshyre
He went both ferre and nere;
Tyll he came to Plomton parke,15
He faylyd many of his dere.
There our kynge was wont to se
Herdes many one,
He coud unneth fynde one dere,
[Pg 107]That bare ony good horne.20
The kynge was wonder wroth withall,
And swore by the trynytè,
"I wolde I had Robyn Hode,
With eyen I myght hym se.
"And he that wolde smyte of the knyghtes hede,25
And brynge it to me,
He shall have the knyghtes londes,
Syr Rycharde at the Le.
"I gyve it hym with my chartèr,
And sele it with my honde,30
To have and holde for ever-more,
In all mery Englonde."
Than bespake a fayre olde knyght,
That was treue in his fay,
"A, my lege lorde the kynge,35
One worde I shall you say;
"There is no man in this countrè
May have the knyghtes londes,
Whyle Robyn Hode may ryde or gone,
And bere a bowe in his hondes,40
"That he ne shall lese his hede,
That is the best ball in his hode:
Give it no man, my lorde the kynge,
That ye wyll any good."[Pg 108]
Half a yere dwelled our comly kynge45
In Notyngham, and well more;
Coude he not here of Robyn Hode,
In what countre that he were.
But alway went good Robyn
By halke and eke by hyll,50
And alway slewe the kynges dere,
And welt them at his wyll.
Than bespake a proude fostere,
That stode by our kynges kne,
"If ye wyll se good Robyn,55
Ye must do after me.
"Take fyve of the best knyghtes
That be in your lede,
And walk downe by yon abbay,
And gete you monkes wede.60
"And I wyll be your ledes man,
And lede you the way,
And or ye come to Notyngham,
Myn hede then dare I lay,
"That ye shall mete with good Robyn,65
On lyve yf that he be;
Or ye come to Notyngham,
With eyen ye shall hym se."[Pg 109]
Full hastly our kynge was dyght,
So were his knyghtes fyve,70
Everych of them in monkes wede,
And hasted them thyder blyve.
Our kynge was grete above his cole,
A brode hat on his crowne,
Ryght as he were abbot-lyke,75
They rode up in-to the towne.
Styf botes our kynge had on,
Forsoth as I you say;
He rode syngynge to grene wode,
The covent was clothed in graye.80
His male hors and his grete somèrs
Folowed our kynge behynde,
Tyll they came to grene wode,
A myle under the lynde.
There they met with good Robyn,85
Stondynge on the waye,
And so dyde many a bolde archere,
For soth as I you say.
Robyn toke the kynges hors,
Hastely in that stede,90
And sayd, "Syr abbot, by your leve,
A whyle ye must abyde.[Pg 110]
"We be yemen of this foreste,
Under the grene wode tre;
We lyve by our kynges dere,95
Other shyft have not we.
"And ye have chyrches and rentes both,
And gold full grete plentè;
Gyve us some of your spendynge,
For saynt Charytè."100
Than bespake our cumly kynge,
Anone than sayd he,
"I brought no more to grene wode,
But forty pounde with me.
"I have layne at Notyngham,105
This fourtynyght with our kynge,
And spent I have full moche good,
On many a grete lordynge.
"And I have but forty pounde,
No more than have I me;110
But yf I had an hondred pounde,
I would geve it to the."
Robyn toke the forty pounde,
And departed it in two partye,
Halfendell he gave his mery men,115
And bad them mery to be.[Pg 111]
Full curteysly Robyn gan say,
"Syr, have this for your spendyng;
We shall mete another day."
"Gramercy," than sayd our kynge;120
"But well the greteth Edwarde our kynge,
And sent to the his seale,
And byddeth the com to Notyngham,
Both to mete and mele."
He toke out the brode tarpe,125
And sone he lete hym se;
Robyn coud his courteysy,
And set hym on his kne.
"I love no man in all the worlde
So well as I do my kynge.130
Welcome is my lordes seale;
And, monke, for thy tydynge,
"Syr abbot, for thy tydynges,
To day thou shalt dyne with me,
For the love of my kynge,135
Under my trystell tre."
Forth he lad our comly kynge,
Full fayre by the honde;
Many a dere there was slayne,
[Pg 112]And full fast dyghtande.140
Robyn toke a full grete horne,
And loude he gan blowe;
Seven score of wyght yonge men
Came redy on a rowe.
All they kneeled on theyr kne,145
Full fayre before Robyn:
The kynge sayd hymselfe untyll,
And swore by saynt Austyn,
"Here is a wonder semely syght;
Me thynketh, by goddes pyne,150
His men are more at his byddynge,
Then my men be at myn."
Full hastly was theyr dyner idyght,
And therto gan they gone;
They served our kynge with al theyr myght,155
Both Robyn and Lytell Johan.
Anone before our kynge was set
The fatte venyson,
The good whyte brede, the good red wyne,
And therto the fyne ale browne.160
"Make good chere," said Robyn,
"Abbot, for charytè;
And for this ylke tydynge,
Blyssed mote thou be.[Pg 113]
"Now shalte thou se what life we lede,165
Or thou hens wende;
Than thou may enfourme our kynge,
Whan ye togyder lende."
Up they sterte all in hast,
Theyr bowes were smartly bent;170
Our kynge was never so sore agast,
He wende to have be shente.
Two yerdes there were up set,
There to gan they gange;
By fifty pase, our kynge sayd,175
The merkes were to longe.
On every syde a rose garlonde,
They shot under the lyne:
"Who so fayleth of the rose garlonde," sayd Robyn,
"His takyll he shall tyne,180
"And yelde it to his mayster,
Be it never so fyne;
For no man wyll I spare,
So drynke I ale or wyne;—
"And bere a buffet on his hede,185
I-wys right all bare:"[Pg 114]
And all that fell in Robyns lote,
He smote them wonder sare.
Twyse Robyn shot aboute,
And ever he cleved the wande,190
And so dyde good Gylberte
With the Whyte Hand.
Lytell Johan and good Scathelocke,
For nothynge wolde they spare,
When they fayled of the garlonde,195
Robyn smote them full sare.
At the last shot that Robyn shot,
For all his frendes fare,
Yet he fayled of the garlonde,
Thre fyngers and mare.200
Than bespake good Gylberte,
And thus he gan say;
"Mayster," he sayd, "your takyll is lost,
Stand forth and take your pay."
"If it be so," sayd Robyn,205
"That may no better be;
Syr abbot, I delyver the myn arowe,
I pray the, syr, serve thou me."
"It falleth not for myn order," sayd our kynge,
[Pg 115]"Robyn, by thy leve,210
For to smyte no good yemàn,
For doute I sholde hym greve."
"Smyte on boldely," sayd Robyn,
"I give the large leve:"
Anone our kynge, with that worde,215
He folde up his sleve,
And sych a buffet he gave Robyn,
To grounde he yede full nere.
"I make myn avowe to god," sayd Robyn,
"Thou arte a stalworthe frere.220
"There is pith in thyn arme," sayd Robyn,
"I trowe thou canst well shote;"
Thus our kynge and Robyn Hode
Togeder than they met.
Robyn behelde our comly kynge225
Wystly in the face,
So dyde syr Richarde at the Le,
And kneled downe in that place;
And so dyde all the wylde outlawes,
Whan they se them knele:230
"My lorde the kynge of Englonde,
Now I knowe you well.
"Mercy," then Robyn sayd to our kynge,
Under his trystyll tre,[Pg 116]
"Of thy goodnesse and thy grace,235
For my men and me!
"Yes, for god," sayd Robyn,
"And also god me save;
I aske mercy, my lorde the kynge,
And for my men I crave."240
"Yes, for god," than sayd our kynge,
"Thy peticion I graunt the,
With that thou leve the grene wode,
And all thy company;
"And come home, syr, to my courte,245
And there dwell with me."
"I make myn avowe to god," sayd Robyn,
"And ryght so shall it be.
"I wyll come to your courte,
Your servyse for to se,250
And brynge with me of my men
Seven score and thre.
"But me lyke well your servyse,
I come agayne full soone,
And shote at the donne dere,255
As I am wonte to done."

4, and yf, W.

15. Not in Cumberland, as Ritson states, but, says Hunter, a part of the forest of Knaresborough, in Yorkshire.

59, your, OCC.

72, blyth, Ritson.

96. Under the grene wode tre, W.

112. I vouche it halfe on the, W.

125, seale, C.

160, and browne, W.

186. A wys, W. For that shall be his fyne, C.

192, good whyte, W. lilly white, C.

234. Your, Ritson.

246. And therto sent I me, W.[Pg 117]


"Haste thou ony grene cloth," sayd our kynge,
"That thou wylte sell now to me?"
"Ye, for god," sayd Robyn,
"Thyrty yerdes and thre."
"Robyn," sayd our kynge,5
"Now pray I the,
To sell me some of that cloth,
To me and my meynè."
"Yes, for god," then sayd Robyn,
"Or elles I were a fole;10
Another day ye wyll me clothe,
I trowe, ayenst the Yole."
The kynge kest of his cote then,
A grene garment he dyde on,
And every knyght did so, i-wys,15
They clothed them full soone.
Whan they were clothed in Lyncolne grene,
They kest away theyr graye;[Pg 118]
"Now we shall to Notyngham,"
All thus our kynge gan say.20
Theyr bowes bente and forth they went,
Shotynge all in-fere,
Towarde the towne of Notyngham,
Outlawes as they were.
Our kynge and Robyn rode togyder,25
For soth as I you say,
And they shote plucke-buffet,
As they went by the way.
And many a buffet our kynge wan
Of Robyn Hode that day;30
And nothynge spared good Robyn
Our kynge in his pay.
"So god me helpe," sayd our kynge,
"Thy game is nought to lere;
I sholde not get a shote of the,35
Though I shote all this yere."
All the people of Notyngham
They stode and behelde;
They sawe nothynge but mantels of grene
That covered all the felde.40
Than every man to other gan say,
"I drede our kynge be slone;[Pg 119]
Come Robyn Hode to the towne i-wys,
On lyve he leveth not one."
Full hastly they began to fle,45
Both yemen and knaves,
And olde wyves that myght evyll goo,
They hypped on theyr staves.
The kynge loughe full fast,
And commanded theym agayne;50
When they se our comly kynge,
I-wys they were full fayne.
They ete and dranke, and made them glad,
And sange with notes hye;
Than bespake our comly kynge55
To syr Rycharde at the Lee.
He gave hym there his londe agayne,
A good man he bad hym be;
Robyn thanked our comly kynge,
And set hym on his kne.60
Had Robyn dwelled in the kynges courte
But twelve monethes and thre,
That he had spent an hondred pounde,
And all his mennes fe.
In every place where Robyn came65
Evermore he layde downe,[Pg 120]
Both for knyghtes and for squyres,
To gete hym grete renowne.
By than the yere was all agone
He had no man but twayne,70
Lytell Johan and good Scathelocke,
Wyth hym all for to gone.
Robyn sawe yonge men shote,
Full fayre upon a day;
"Alas!" than sayd good Robyn,75
"My welthe is went away.
"Somtyme I was an archere good,
A styffe and eke a stronge;
I was commytted the best archere
That was in mery Englonde.80
"Alas!" then sayd good Robyn,
"Alas and well a woo!
Yf I dwele lenger with the kynge,
Sorowe wyll me sloo."
Forth than went Robyn Hode85
Tyll he came to our kynge;
"My lorde the kynge of Englonde,
Graunte me myn askynge.
"I made a chapell in Bernysdale,
[Pg 121]That semely is to se,90
It is of Mary Magdalene,
And thereto wolde I be.
"I myght never in this seven nyght
No tyme to slepe ne wynke,
Nother all these seven dayes95
Nother ete ne drynke.
"Me longeth sore to Bernysdale,
I may not be therfro;
Barefote and wolwarde I have hyght
Thyder for to go."100
"Yf it be so," than sayd our kynge,
"It may no better be;
Seven nyght I gyve the leve,
No lengre, to dwell fro me."
"Gramercy, lorde," then sayd Robyn,105
And set hym on his kne;
He toke his leve full courteysly,
To grene wode then went he.
Whan he came to grene wode,
In a mery mornynge,110
There he herde the notes small
Of byrdes mery syngynge.
"It is ferre gone," sayd Robyn,
"That I was last here;[Pg 122]
Me lyste a lytell for to shote115
At the donne dere."
Robyn slewe a full grete harte,
His horne than gan he blow,
That all the outlawes of that forèst,
That horne coud they knowe120
And gadred them togyder,
In a lytell throwe;
Seven score of wight yonge men
Came redy on a rowe,
And fayre dyde of theyr hodes,125
And set them on theyr kne:
"Welcome," they sayd, "our maystèr,
Under this grene wode tre."
Robyn dwelled in grene wode
Twenty yere and two;130
For all drede of Edwarde our kynge,
Agayne wolde he not goo.
Yet he was begyled, i-wys,
Through a wycked womàn,
The pryoresse of Kyrkesly,135
That nye was of hys kynne;[Pg 123]
For the love of a knyght,
Syr Roger of Donkestèr,
That was her owne speciall,
Full evyll mote they fare.140
They toke togyder theyr counsell
Robyn Hode for to sle,
And how they myght best do that dede,
His banis for to be.
Than bespake good Robyn,145
In place where as he stode,
"Tomorow I muste to Kyrkesley,
Craftely to be leten blode."
Syr Roger of Donkestere,
By the pryoresse he lay,150
And there they betrayed good Robyn Hode,
Through theyr false playe.
Cryst have mercy on his soule,
That dyed on the rode!
For he was a good outlawe,155
And dyde pore men moch god.

9, good, OCC.

11, 12. "This alludes to the usual issue of winter robes from the king's wardrobe to the officers of his household." Hunter.

15, had, Ritson.

16. Another had full sone, W.

44. Lefte never one, W.

49, lughe, W.

74, ferre, W.

75, commended for, C.

135. The little convent of Kirklees lay between Wakefield and Halifax. Hunter.

138, donkesley, W.

140, the, OCC.

[Pg 124]


This favorite and delightful ballad was printed by William Copland, without date, but probably not far from 1550. Only a single copy of this edition is known to be preserved. There is another edition by James Roberts, printed in 1605, with a second part entitled Young Cloudeslee, "a very inferior and servile production," says Ritson. Mr. Payne Collier has recently recovered a fragment of an excellent edition considerably older than Copland's.

Adam Bell, &c., was also entered at Stationers' Hall in 1557-8, as licensed to John King. Another entry occurs in the same registers under 1582, and in 1586 mention is made of "A ballad of Willm. Clowdisley never printed before." No one of these three impressions is known to be extant.

Percy inserted this piece in his Reliques, (i. 158,) following Copland's edition, with corrections from his folio manuscript. Ritson adhered to Copland's text with his usual fidelity, (Pieces of Popular Poetry, p. 1.) We have printed the ballad from Ritson, with some important improvements derived from a transcript of Mr. Collier's fragment most kindly furnished by that gentleman. This fragment extends from the 7th verse of the second fit to the 55th of the third, but is somewhat mutilated.

"Allane Bell" is mentioned by Dunbar in company[Pg 125]

with Robin Hood, Guy of Gisborne, and others. The editor of the Reliques has pointed out several allusions to the ballad in our dramatic poets, which show the extreme popularity of the story. "Shakespeare, in his comedy of Much Ado about Nothing, act i. makes Benedick confirm his resolves of not yielding to love, by this protestation: 'If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat, and shoot at me, and he that hits me, let him be clapt on the shoulder, and called Adam:'—meaning Adam Bell, as Theobald rightly observes, who refers to one or two other passages in our old poets, wherein he is mentioned. The Oxford editor has also well conjectured, that 'Abraham Cupid,'in Romeo and Juliet, act ii. sc. 1, should be 'Adam Cupid,' in allusion to our archer. Ben Jonson has mentioned Clym o' the Clough in his Alchemist, act i. sc. 2. And Sir William Davenant, in a mock poem of his, called The Long Vacation in London, describes the attorneys and proctors as making matches to meet in Finsbury Fields.

'With loynes in canvas bow-case tyde,
Where arrowes stick with mickle pride;
Like ghosts of Adam Bell and Clymme;
Sol sits for fear they'l shoot at him.'—

Works, 1673, fol. p. 291."

The place of residence ascribed in the present ballad to these outlaws is Englewood or Inglewood, a forest in Cumberland sixteen miles in length, and extending from Carlisle to Penrith, which, according to Wyntown, was also frequented by Robin Hood, (Cronykil, vii. 10, 431.) By the author of the ballad of Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valour, and Marriage, they are made contemporary with Robin Hood's father.[Pg 126]

"The father of Robin a forrester was,
And he shot in a lusty strong bow
Two north-country miles and an inch at a shot,
As the Pinder of Wakefield does know.
For he brought Adam Bell, and Clim of the Clugh,
And William of Clowdesle
To shoot with our forrester for forty mark,
And the forrester beat them all three."

A state paper cited by Mr. Hunter exhibits a person of the name of Adam Bell in connection with another of Robin Hood's haunts, and is thought by that gentleman to afford a clue to the real history of one of the actors in the story.

"King Henry the Fourth, by letters enrolled in the Exchequer, in Trinity Term, in the seventh year of his reign [1406], and bearing date the 14th day of April, granted to one Adam Bell an annuity of 4l. 10s. issuing out of the fee-farm of Clipston, in the forest of Sherwood, together with the profits and advantages of the vesture and herbage of the garden called the Halgarth, in which the manor-house of Clipston is situated.

"Now, as Sherwood is noted for its connection with archery, and may be regarded also as the patria of much of the ballad poetry of England, and the name of Adam Bell is a peculiar one, this might be almost of itself sufficient to show that the ballad had a foundation in veritable history. But we further find that this Adam Bell violated his allegiance by adhering to the Scots, the King's enemies; whereupon this grant was virtually resumed, and the sheriff of Nottinghamshire accounted for the rents which would have been his. In the third year of King Henry the[Pg 127] Fifth [1416], the account was rendered by Thomas Hercy, and in the fourth year by Simon Leak. The mention of his adhesion to the Scots, leads us to the Scottish border, and will not leave a doubt in the mind of the most sceptical (!) that we have here one of the persons, some of whose deeds (with some poetical license, perhaps) are come down to us in the words of one of our popular ballads." New Illustrations of the Life, Studies, and Writings of Shakespeare, i. 245.

It must be confessed that Mr. Hunter is easily satisfied. The Bells were one of the most notorious of the marauding tribes of the Marches, and as late as 1593, are grouped with the Graemes and Armstrongs, in a memorial of the English Warden, as among "the bad and more vagrant of the great surnames of the border." (Rymer's Fœdera, xvi. 183, 2d ed.) Adam was a very common prœnomen among these people, and is borne by two other familiar ballad heroes, Adam Gordon and Adam Car. The combination of Adam Bell must have been anything but a rarity;[27] nor could it have been an unfrequent occurrence, for a Scottish freebooter who had entered into the pay of the English King, to return to his natural connections, when a tempting opportunity offered itself, or for any Border mercenary to change sides as often as this seemed to be for his interest.

The rescue of William of Cloudesly by Adam Bell and Clym of the Clough, in the second fit, resembles in all the main points the rescue of Robin Hood by[Pg 128] Little John and Much, in Robin Hood and the Monk. The incident of the shot at the apple, in the third fit, for a long time received as a part of the genuine history of William Tell, is of great antiquity, and may be traced northward from Switzerland through the various Gothic nations to the mythical legends of Scandinavia. The exploit is first narrated in the Wilkina Saga of the archer Eigill, who, at Nidung's command, proves his skill at the bow by shooting an apple from his son's head. Eigill had selected three arrows, and on being questioned as to the purpose of the other two, replied that they were destined for Nidung in case the first had caused the death of his child. This form of the legend is of the 10th or 11th century. In the 12th century, Saxo Grammaticus tells this story of Toko and King Harald. The resemblance to Tell is in Toko's case stronger than in any; for, besides making the same speech about the reserved arrow, he distinguishes himself in a sea-storm, and shoots the king,—this last feat being historical, and dated 992. Similar achievements are ascribed in Norwegian sagas to St. Olaf (died, 1030), and to King Haraldr Sigurtharson (died, 1066), and in Schleswig Holstein, to Heming Wolf, who having, in 1472, been outlawed for taking part with a rebel against King Christian, and falling into the hands of his enemies, was obliged to exhibit his skill at the risk of his son's life. Again, in Sprenger's Malleus Maleficarum, a work of the 15th century, the story is related of one Puncher, a magician of the Rhine country; and finally, about two hundred years after the formation of the Swiss confederacy, this famous exploit is imputed to Tell, though early chroniclers have not a word to say[Pg 129] either about him or his archery. (See Grimm's[28] Deutsche Mythologie, ed. 1842, pp. 353-5, p. 1214: Nork's Mythologie der Volkssagen, in Scheible's Kloster, vol. 9, p. 105, seqq. Many of the documents that bear upon this question are cited at length in Ideler's Schuss des Tell, Berlin, 1836.)

[27] Thus, in the Parliamentary Writs, we have two Adam Bells (possibly only one) contemporary with Mr. Hunter's Robin Hood, and both resident in Yorkshire.

1315, Adam Belle, manucaptor of a burgess for Scarborough.

1324, Adam Bele, manucaptor for citizens returned for York.

[28] Grimm refers to the tradition by which Eustathius accounts for Sarpedon's being king of the Lycians, which involves a story of his two rival uncles proposing to shoot through a ring placed on the breast of a child, and of Sarpedon's being offered for that purpose by his mother; and also mentions a manuscript he had seen of travels in Turkey, which contained a picture of a man shooting at an apple placed on a child's head.

Mery it was in grene forest,
Amonge the leues grene,
Wher that men walke east and west,
With bowes and arrowes kene,
To ryse the dere out of theyr denne,—5
Such sightes hath ofte bene sene,—
As by thre yemen of the north countrey,
By them it is I meane.
The one of them hight Adam Bel,
The other Clym of the Clough,10
The thyrd was William of Cloudesly,
An archer good ynough.[Pg 130]
They were outlawed for venyson,
These yemen everechone;
They swore them brethren upon a day,15
To Englysshe-wood for to gone.
Now lith and lysten, gentylmen,
That of myrthes loveth to here:
Two of them were single men,
The third had a wedded fere.20
Wyllyam was the wedded man,
Muche more then was hys care:
He sayde to hys brethren upon a day,
To Carelel he would fare,
For to speke with fayre Alse hys wife,25
And with hys chyldren thre.
"By my trouth," sayde Adam Bel,
"Not by the counsell of me.
"For if ye go to Caerlel, brother,
And from thys wylde wode wende,30
If the justice mai you take,
Your lyfe were at an ende."
"If that I come not tomorowe, brother,
By pryme to you agayne,
Truste not els but that I am take,35
Or else that I am slayne."[Pg 131]
He toke hys leave of his brethren two,
And to Carlel he is gon;
There he knocked at hys owne windowe,
Shortlye and anone.40
"Where be you, fayre Alyce, my wyfe,
And my chyldren three?
Lyghtly let in thyne owne husbande,
Wyllyam of Cloudeslè."
"Alas!" then sayde fayre Alyce,45
And syghed wonderous sore,
"Thys place hath ben besette for you,
Thys half yere and more."
"Now am I here," sayde Cloudeslè,
"I woulde that I in were:—50
Now feche us meate and drynke ynoughe,
And let us make good chere."
She fetched him meat and drynke plenty,
Lyke a true wedded wyfe,
And pleased hym wyth that she had,55
Whome she loved as her lyfe.
There lay an old wyfe in that place,
A lytle besyde the fyre,
Whych Wyllyam had found, of cherytye,
[Pg 132]More then seven yere.60
Up she rose and walked full styll,
Evel mote she spede therefoore,
For she had not set no fote on ground
In seven yere before.
She went unto the justice hall,65
As fast as she could hye;
"Thys nyght is come unto this town
Wyllyam of Cloudeslè."
Thereof the iustice was full fayne,
And so was the shirife also;70
"Thou shalt not travaile hether, dame, for nought,
Thy meed thou shalt have or thou go."
They gave to her a ryght good goune,
Of scarlat it was, as I heard sayne;
She toke the gyft and home she wente,75
And couched her downe agayne.
They rysed the towne of mery Carlel,
In all the hast that they can,
And came thronging to Wyllyames house,
As fast as they myght gone.80
Theyr they besette that good yeman,
Round about on every syde,
Wyllyam hearde great noyse of folkes,
That heytherward they hyed.[Pg 133]
Alyce opened a shot-wyndow,85
And loked all about,
She was ware of the justice and shirife bothe,
Wyth a full great route.
"Alas! treason," cry'd Aleyce.
"Ever wo may thou be!90
Go into my chambre, my husband," she sayd,
"Swete Wyllyam of Cloudeslè."
He toke hys sweard and hys bucler,
Hys bow and hy[s] chyldren thre,
And wente into hys strongest chamber,95
Where he thought surest to be.
Fayre Alice folowed him as a lover true,
With a pollaxe in her hande;
"He shal be dead that here cometh in
Thys dore, whyle I may stand."100
Cloudeslè bent a wel good bowe,
That was of trusty tre,
He smot the justise on the brest,
That hys arrowe brest in thre.
"God's curse on his hartt," saide William,105
"Thys day thy cote dyd on;
If it had ben no better then myne,
It had gone nere thy bone."[Pg 134]
"Yelde the, Cloudeslè," sayd the justise,
"And thy bowe and thy arrowes the fro:"110
"Gods curse on hys hart," sayde fair Alice,
"That my husband councelleth so."
"Set fyre on the house," saide the sherife,
"Syth it wyll no better be,
And brenne we therin William," he saide,115
"Hys wyfe and chyldren thre."
They fyred the house in many a place,
The fyre flew up on hye;
"Alas!" then cryed fayr Alice,
"I se we here shall dy."120
William openyd hys backe wyndow,
That was in hys chambre on hye,
And wyth shetes let hys wyfe downe,
And hys chyldren thre.
"Have here my treasure," sayde William,125
"My wyfe and my chyldren thre,
For Christes love do them no harme,
But wreke you all on me."
Wyllyam shot so wonderous well,
Tyll hys arrowes were all ygo,130
And the fyre so fast upon hym fell,
That hys bowstryng brent in two.[Pg 135]
The spercles brent and fell hym on,
Good Wyllyam of Cloudeslè!
But than wax he a wofull man,135
And sayde, "thys is a cowardes death to me.
"Leuer I had," sayde Wyllyam,
"With my sworde in the route to renne,
Then here among myne ennemyes wode,
Thus cruelly to bren."140
He toke hys sweard and hys buckler,
And among them all he ran;
Where the people were most in prece,
He smot downe many a man.
There myght no man stand hys stroke,145
So fersly on them he ran;
Then they threw wyndowes and dores on him,
And so toke that good yemàn.
There they hym bounde both hande and fote,
And in depe dongeon hym cast;150
"Now, Cloudeslè," sayd the hye justice,
"Thou shalt be hanged in hast."
"One vow shal I make," sayd the sherife,
"A payre of newe galowes shall I for the make,
And the gates of Caerlel shal be shutte,155
There shall no man come in therat.[Pg 136]
"Then shall not helpe Clim of the Cloughe,
Nor yet shall Adam Bell,
Though they came with a thousand mo,
Nor all the devels in hell."160
Early in the mornyng the justice uprose,
To the gates first gan he gon,
And commaundede to be shut full cloce
Lightilè everychone.
Then went he to the market place,165
As fast as he coulde hye;
A payre of new gallous there did he up set,
Besyde the pyllory.
A lytle boy stod them amonge,
And asked what meaned that gallow tre;170
They sayde, "to hange a good yeamàn,
Called Wyllyam of Cloudeslè."
That lytle boye was the towne swyne-heard,
And kept fayre Alyce swyne,
Oft he had seene Cloudeslè in the wodde,175
And geuen hym there to dyne.
He went out att a creves in the wall,
And lightly to the wood dyd gone;
There met he with these wight yonge men,
[Pg 137]Shortly and anone.180
"Alas!" then sayde that lytle boye,
"Ye tary here all to longe;
Cloudeslè is taken and dampned to death,
All readye for to honge."
"Alas!" then sayde good Adam Bell,185
"That ever we see thys daye!
He myght her with us have dwelled,
So ofte as we dyd him praye!
"He myght have taryed in grene foreste,
Under the shadowes sheene,190
And have kepte both hym and us in reaste,
Out of trouble and teene!"
Adam bent a ryght good bow,
A great hart sone had he slayne;
"Take that, chylde," he sayde, "to thy dynner,
And bryng me myne arrowe agayne."196
"Now go we hence," sayed these wight yong men,
"Tary we no lenger here;
We shall hym borowe, by gods grace,
Though we bye it full dere."200
To Caerlel went these good yemèn,
On a mery mornyng of Maye:
Here is a fyt of Cloudesli,
And another is for to saye.

6, as hath.

7, the.

8, as I.

10, 11. Clym of the Clough means, as Percy says, Clement of the valley; and Cloudeslè, suggests Ritson, seems to be the same with Clodsley.

18. And that.

41, your.

50, In woulde.

62, spende.

71, fore.

74, saye. Percy reads, Of scarlate and of graine.

85, shop. Percy reads back window.

88, great full great.

91, Gy.

122, was on.

130, gon.

174, there.

201, Cyerlel.[Pg 138]


And when they came to mery Caerlell,
In a fayre mornyng tyde,
They founde the gates shut them untyll,
Round about on every syde.
"Alas!" than sayd good Adam Bell,5
"That ever we were made men!
These gates be shut so wonderly wel,
That we may not come here in."
Then spake him Clym of the Clough,
"Wyth a wyle we wyl us in bryng;10
Let us saye we be messengers,
Streyght comen from our king."
Adam said, "I have a letter written wel,
Now let us wysely werke;
We wyl saye we have the kinges seale,15
I holde the portter no clerke."
Then Adam Bell bete on the gate,
With strokes great and strong;
The porter herde suche noyse therat,
[Pg 139]And to the gate faste he throng.20
"Who is there nowe," sayde the porter,
"That maketh all thys knocking?
"We be tow messengers," sayde Clim of the Clough,
"Be comen streyght from our kyng."
"We haue a letter," sayd Adam Bel,25
"To the justice we must it bryng;
Let us in, our messag to do,
That we were agayne to our kyng."
"Here commeth no man in," sayd the porter,
"By hym that dyed on a tre,30
Tyll a false thefe be hanged,
Called Wyllyam of Cloudeslè."
Then spake the good yeman Clym of the Clough,
And swore by Mary fre,
"And if that we stande longe wythout,35
Lyke a thefe hanged shalt thou be.
"Lo here we have the kynges seale;
What! lordeyne, art thou wode?"
The porter went it had ben so,
And lyghtly dyd of hys hode.40
"Welcome be my lordes seale," he saide,
"For that ye shall come in:"[Pg 140]
He opened the gate full shortlye,
An evyl openyng for him.
"Now are we in," sayde Adam Bell,45
"Thereof we are full faine,
But Christ knoweth that harowed hell,
How we shall com out agayne."
"Had we the keys," said Clim of the Clough,
"Ryght wel then shoulde we spede;50
Then might we come out wel ynough,
"When we se tyme and nede."
They called the porter to a counsell,
And wrange hys necke in two,
And caste him in a depe dongeòn,55
And toke hys keys hym fro.
"Now am I porter," sayde Adam Bel,
"Se, brother, the keys haue we here;
The worst porter to merry Caerlel,
That ye had thys hundred yere.60
"And now wyll we our bowes bend,
Into the towne wyll we go,
For to delyver our dere brother,
That lyveth in care and wo."
[And thereupon] they bent theyr bowes,65
And loked theyr stringes were round;[Pg 141]
The market place of mery Caerlel,
They beset in that stound.
And as they loked them besyde,
A paire of new galowes ther thei see,70
And the justice with a quest of swerers,
That had judged Cloudeslè there hanged to be.
And Cloudeslè hymselfe lay redy in a carte,
Faste bounde both fote and hand,
And a stronge rop about hys necke,75
All readye for to be hangde.
The justice called to him a ladde,
Cloudeslè [s] clothes should he have,
To take the measure of that good yeman,
And therafter to make hys grave.80
"I have seen as great a mearveile," said Cloudesli,
"As betwyene thys and pryme,
He that maketh thys grave for me,
Himselfe may lye therin."
"Thou speakest proudli," saide the justice,85
"I shall the hange with my hande:"[Pg 142]
Full wel that herd hys brethren two,
There styll as they dyd stande.
Then Cloudeslè cast hys eyen asyde,
And saw hys to brethren stande,90
At a corner of the market place,
With theyr good bows bent in ther hand.
"I se good comfort," sayd Cloudeslè,
"Yet hope I well to fare;
If I might haue my handes at wyll,95
Ryght lytle wolde I care."
Then spake good Adam Bell,
To Clym of the Clough so free,
"Brother, se ye marke the justyce wel,
Lo yonder ye may him see.100
"And at the shyrife shote I wyll,
Strongly with an arrowe kene;
A better shote in mery Caerlel
Thys seven yere was not sene."
They lowsed their arrowes both at once,105
Of no man had they dread;[Pg 143]
The one hyt the justice, the other the sheryfe,
That both theyr sides gan blede.
All men voyded, that them stode nye,
When the justice fell downe to the grounde,
And the sherife fell nyghe hym by,111
Eyther had his deathes wounde.
All the citezens fast gan flye,
They durst no longer abyde;
Then lyghtly they loused Cloudeslè,115
When he with ropes lay tyde.
Wyllyam sterte to an officer of the towne,
Hys axe out of hys hande he wronge,
On eche syde he smote them downe,
Hym thought he taryed all to long.120
Wyllyam sayde to hys brethren two,
"Thys daye let us togyder lyve and dye;
If ever you have nede as I have now,
The same shall you fynde by me."
They shot so well in that tyde,125
For theyr stringes were of silke full sure,
That they kept the stretes on every side:
That batayle dyd longe endure.[Pg 144]
The[y] fought together as brethren tru,
Lyke hardy men and bolde;130
Many a man to the ground they thrue,
And many a herte made colde.
But when their arrowes were all gon,
Men preced on them full fast;
They drew theyr swordes then anone,135
And theyr bowes from them cast.
They went lyghtlye on theyr way,
Wyth swordes and buclers round;
By that it was the myddes of the day,
They had made mani a wound.140
There was many an out-horne in Caerlel blowen,
And the belles bacward did they ryng;
Many a woman sayd alas,
And many theyr handes dyd wryng.
The mayre of Caerlel forth com was,145
And with hym a ful great route;
These thre yemen dred him full sore,
For of theyr lyues they stode in great doute.
The mayre came armed a full great pace,
[Pg 145]With a pollaxe in hys hande;150
Many a strong man with him was,
There in that stowre to stande.
The mayre smot at Cloudeslè with his bil,
Hys bucler he brust in two;
Full many a yeman with great yll,155
"Alas, treason!" they cryed for wo.
"Kepe we the gates fast" they bad,
"That these traytours thereout not go."
But al for nought was that they wrought,
For so fast they downe were layde,160
Tyll they all thre, that so manfulli fought,
Were gotten without at a braide.
"Have here your keys," sayd Adam Bel,
"Myne office I here forsake;
Yf you do by my councèll,165
A new porter do ye make."
He threw the keys there at theyr heads,
And bad them evell to thryve,
And all that letteth any good yeman
To come and comfort hys wyfe.170
Thus be these good yemen gon to the wod,
As lyght as lefe on lynde;[Pg 146]
They lough and be mery in theyr mode,
Theyr ennemyes were ferre behynd.
When they came to Englyshe wode,175
Under the trysty tre,
There they found bowes full good,
And arrowes full great plentye.
"So God me help," sayd Adam Bell,
And Clym of the Clough so fre,180
"I would we were nowe in mery Caerlel,
Before that fayre meyny."
They set them downe and made good chere,
And eate and drank full well:
Here is a fet of these wyght yong men,185
And another I shall you tell.

7, wonderous. R. (Ritson.)

12, come nowe. R.

15, seales. R.

20, R. omits faste.

24, come ryght. R.

26, me.

29, none. R.

30, Be ... upon. R.

47, knows, R.

50, shaulde.

53, a, C. (Collier.)

67, in, R.

68, in, C.

70, they.

71, squyers, R.

74, bounde, C.

76, to hang, R.

79, good, C.

87, that, C.

89, Claudesle.

90, brethen; Copland omits stande.

91, marked.

92. Here the old edition adds,—

'Redy the justice for to chaunce', (chase, C.)

93, Copland omits good.

94, will.

102, an, C.

105, thre.

108, sedes.

115, then.

121, brethen.

122, togyder, C.

127, sede.

132, made many a herte.

134, on, C.

139, was myd, R.

140, had, C.

141, many, C.

142, they, C.

147, thre, C.

155, evyll, R.

160, to.

162, abraide, R.

166, we.

167, theyr keys at, R.

172, And lyghtly as, R.

176, trusty, R.

177, there, C.

181, nowe, C.

184, drynke, R.

186. Another I wyll, R.


As they sat in Englyshe-wood,
Under theyr trysty tre,
Them thought they herd a woman wepe,
But her they mought not se.
Sore then syghed the fayre Alyce,
And sayde, "Alas that ever I sawe this daye![Pg 147]
For now is my dere husband slayne,
Alas and wel a way!
"Myght I have spoken wyth hys dere brethren,
Or with eyther of them twayne,10
[To let them know what him befell]
My hart were out of payne!"
Cloudeslè walked a lytle besyde,
And loked under the grenewood linde;
He was ware of hys wife and chyldren thre,15
Full wo in hart and mynde.
"Welcome, wife," then sayde Wyllyam,
"Under this trysty tre;
I had wende yesterday, by swete saynt John,
Thou shulde me never have se."20
"Now well is me," she sayde, "that ye be here,
My hart is out of wo:"
"Dame," he sayde, "be mery and glad,
And thank my brethren two."
"Hereof to speake," sayd Adam Bell,25
"I-wis it is no bote;
The meat that we must supp withall
It runneth yet fast on fote."[Pg 148]
Then went they down into a launde,
These noble archares all thre,30
Eche of them slew a hart of greece,
The best they could there se.
"Have here the best, Alyce my wife,"
Sayde Wyllyam of Cloudeslè,
"By cause ye so bouldly stod by me,35
When I was slayne full nye."
Then went they to supper,
Wyth suche meat as they had,
And thanked God of ther fortune;
They were both mery and glad.40
And when they had supped well,
Certayne without any leace,
Cloudeslè sayd, "We wyll to our kyng,
To get us a charter of peace.
"Alyce shall be at sojournyng,45
In a nunry here besyde;
My tow sonnes shall wyth her go,
And ther they shall abyde.
"Myne eldest son shall go wyth me,
For hym have I no care,50
And he shall breng you worde agayn
How that we do fare."[Pg 149]
Thus be these yemen to London gone,
As fast as they might hye,
Tyll they came to the kynges pallace,55
Where they woulde nedes be.
And whan they came to the kynges courte,
Unto the pallace gate,
Of no man wold they aske no leave,
But boldly went in therat.60
They preced prestly into the hall,
Of no man had they dreade;
The porter came after and dyd them call,
And with them began to chyde.
The ussher sayed, "Yemen, what wold ye haue?
I pray you tell me;66
You myght thus make offycers shent:
Good syrs, of whence be ye?"
"Syr, we be outlawes of the forest,
Certayne without any leace,70
And hether we be come to our kyng,
To get us a charter of peace."
And whan they came before the kyng,
As it was the lawe of the lande,
The[y] kneled downe without lettyng,75
And eche held up his hand.[Pg 150]
The[y] sayed, "Lord, we beseche the here,
That ye wyll graunt us grace,
For we haue slaine your fat falow der,
In many a sondry place."80
"What be your nam[e]s?" then said our king,
"Anone that you tell me:
They sayd, "Adam Bel, Clim of the Clough,
And Wyllyam of Cloudeslè."
"Be ye those theves," then sayd our kyng,85
"That men have tolde of to me?
Here to god I make a vowe,
Ye shal be hanged al thre.
"Ye shal be dead without mercy,
As I am kynge of this lande."90
He commanded his officers everichone
Fast on them to lay hand.
There they toke these good yemen,
And arested them all thre:
"So may I thryve," sayd Adam Bell,95
"Thys game lyketh not me.
"But, good lorde, we beseche you now,
That you graunt vs grace,
Insomuche as we be to you comen,
[Pg 151]Or els that we may fro you passe,100
"With such weapons as we have here,
Tyll we be out of your place;
And yf we lyve this hundreth yere,
We wyll aske you no grace."
"Ye speake proudly," sayd the kynge,105
"Ye shall be hanged all thre:"
"That were great pitye," then sayd the quene,
"If any grace myght be.
"My lorde, whan I came fyrst into this lande,
To be your wedded wyfe,110
The fyrst bowne that I wold aske,
Ye would graunt it me belyfe;
"And I asked never none tyll now,
Therefore, good lorde, graunte it me."
"Now aske it, madam," sayd the kynge,115
"And graunted shall it be."
"Then, my good lord, I you beseche,
These yemen graunt ye me:"
"Madame, ye myght have asked a bowne
That shuld have ben worth them all thre.120
"Ye myght have asked towres and town[es],
Parkes and forestes plenty."
"None so pleasaunt to mi pay," she said,
"Nor none so lefe to me."[Pg 152]
"Madame, sith it is your desyre,125
Your askyng graunted shal be;
But I had lever have geven you
Good market townes thre."
The quene was a glad woman,
And sayd, "Lord, gramarcy;130
I dare undertake for them,
That true men shal they be.
"But, good lord, speke som mery word,
That comfort they may se."
"I graunt you grace," then said our king,135
"Wasshe, felos, and to meate go ye."
They had not setten but a whyle,
Certayne without lesynge,
There came messengers out of the north,
With letters to our kynge.140
And whan the[y] came before the kynge,
They kneled downe vpon theyr kne,
And sayd, "Lord, your offycers grete you wel,
Of Caerlel in the north cuntrè."
"How fare[s] my justice," sayd the kyng,145
"And my sherife also?"
"Syr, they be slayne, without leasynge,
And many an officer mo."[Pg 153]
"Who hath them slayne?" sayd the kyng,
"Anone thou tell me:"150
"Adam Bel, and Clime of the Clough,
And Wyllyam of Cloudeslè."
"Alas for rewth!" then sayd our kynge,
"My hart is wonderous sore;
I had leuer [th]an a thousand pounde,155
I had knowne of thys before.
"For I have graunted them grace,
And that forthynketh me,
But had I knowne all thys before,
They had been hanged all thre."160
The kyng opened the letter anone,
Hymselfe he red it th[r]o,
And founde how these thre outlawes had slaine
Thre hundred men and mo.
Fyrst the justice and the sheryfe,165
And the mayre of Caerlel towne;
Of all the constables and catchipolles
Alyve were left not one.
The baylyes and the bedyls both,
And the sergeauntes of the law,170
And forty fosters of the fe,
These outlawes had yslaw,[Pg 154]
And broke his parks, and slaine his dere;
Over all they chose the best;
So perelous outlawes as they were,175
Walked not by easte nor west.
When the kynge this letter had red,
In hys harte he syghed sore;
"Take vp the table anone," he bad,
"For I may eate no more."180
The kyng called hys best archars,
To the buttes with hym to go;
"I wylle se these felowes shote," he sayd,
In the north have wrought this wo."
The kynges bowmen buske them blyve,185
And the quenes archers also,
So dyd these thre wyght yemèn,
Wyth them they thought to go.
There twyse or thryse they shote about,
For to assay theyr hande;190
There was no shote these yemen shot,
That any prycke might them stand.
Then spake Wyllyam of Cloudeslè,
"By him that for me dyed,
I hold hym never no good archar195
That shuteth at buttes so wyde."[Pg 155]
"Wherat?" then sayd our kyng,
"I pray thee tell me:"
"At such a but, syr," he sayd,
"As men use in my countree."200
Wyllyam went into a fyeld,
And his to brethren with him,
There they set vp to hasell roddes,
Twenty score paces betwene.
"I hold him an archar," said Cloudeslè,205
"That yonder wande cleveth in two:"
"Here is none suche," sayd the kyng,
"Nor none that can so do."
"I shall assaye, syr," sayd Cloudeslè,
"Or that I farther go:"210
Cloudeslè, with a bearyng arow,
Clave the wand in to.
"Thou art the best archer," then said the king,
"Forsothe that ever I se:"
"And yet for your love," said Wylliam,215
"I wyll do more maystry.
"I have a sonne is seven yere olde,
He is to me full deare;[Pg 156]
I wyll hym tye to a stake,
All shall se that be here;220
"And lay an apele upon hys head,
And go syxe score paces hym fro,
And I myselfe, with a brode arow,
Shall cleve the apple in two."
"Now haste the," then sayd the kyng,225
"By him that dyed on a tre;
But yf thou do not as thou hast sayde,
Hanged shalt thou be.
"And thou touche his head or gowne,
In syght that men may se,230
By all the sayntes that be in heaven,
I shall hange you all thre."
"That I have promised," said William,
"I wyl it never forsake;"
And there even before the kynge,235
In the earth he droue a stake,
And bound therto his eldest sonne,
And bad hym stande styll therat,
And turned the childes face fro him,
Because he shuld not sterte.240
An apple upon his head he set,
And then his bowe he bent;[Pg 157]
Syxe score paces they were out met,
And thether Cloudeslè went.
There he drew out a fayr brode arrowe,245
Hys bowe was great and longe,
He set that arrowe in his bowe,
That was both styffe and stronge.
He prayed the people that was there,
That they would styll stande,250
"For he that shooteth for such a wager,
Behoveth a stedfast hand."
Muche people prayed for Cloudeslè,
That hys lyfe saved myght be,
And whan he made hym redy to shote,255
There was many a weping eye.
Thus Cloudeslè clefte the apple in two,
That many a man myght se;
"Over gods forbode," sayde the kynge,
"That thou shote at me!260
"I geve the xviii. pence a day,
And my bowe shalt thou beare,
And over all the north countre,
I make the chyfe rydere."[Pg 158]
"And I geve the xvii. pence a day," said the quene,265
"By god and by my fay;
Come feche thy payment when thou wylt,
No man shall say the nay.
"Wyllyam, I make the a gentelman,
Of clothyng and of fe,270
And thi two brethren yemen of my chambre,
For they are so semely to se.
"Your sonne, for he is tendre of age,
Of my wyne-seller shall he be,
And whan he commeth to mannes estate,275
Better avaunced shall he be.
"And, Wylliam, bring me your wife," said the quene,
Me longeth her sore to se;
She shal be my chefe gentelwoman,
To governe my nursery."280
The yemen thanketh them full curteously,
And sayde, "To some bysshop wyl we wend,
Of all the synnes that we have done
To be assoyld at his hand."
So forth be gone these good yemen,285
As fast as they myght hye,[Pg 159]
And after came and dwelled with the kynge,
And dyed good men all thre.
Thus endeth the lives of these good yemen,
God send them eternall blysse,290
And all that with hande bowe shoteth,
That of heaven may never mysse!

2, trusty, R.

3, they, R.

9, brethen.

11, supplied from a modern edition.

12, put out, R.

18, thus, trusty, R.

20, had.

24, brethen.

31, graece.

37, whent.

45, at our, R.

51, you breng, R.

197. At what a butte now, wold ye shot. Percy.

227, hest.

217-258. For remarks upon this passage in the story, see the preface to the ballad.

258. His son he did not nee. Percy.


This ballad was derived from the Percy Manuscript, and is printed in the Reliques, i. 84 (ed. 1794), with some alterations by the Editor.

"As for Guy of Gisborne," says Ritson, "the only further memorial which has occurred concerning him is in an old satirical piece by William Dunbar, a celebrated Scottish poet of the fifteenth century, on one "Schir Thomas Nory," (MS. Maitland, p. 3, MMS. More, Ll. 5, 10,) where he is named along with our hero, Adam Bell, and other worthies, it is conjectured of a similar stamp, but whose merits have not, less fortunately, come to the knowledge of posterity.

"Was nevir weild Robeine under bewch,
Nor yitt Roger of Clekkislewch,
So bauld a bairne as he;
Gy of Gysburne, na Allane Bell,
Na Simones sones of Quhynsell,
Off thocht war nevir so slie."

"Gisborne is a market town in the west riding of the county of York, on the borders of Lancashire."[Pg 160]

When shaws beene sheene, and shradds full fayre,
And leaves both large and longe,
Itt is merrye walkyng in the fayre forrèst,
To heare the small birdes songe.
The woodweele sang, and wold not cease,5
Sitting upon the spraye,
Soe lowde, he wakened Robìn Hood,
In the greenwood where he lay.
"Now, by my faye," sayd jollye Robìn,
"A sweaven I had this night;10
I dreamt me of tow wight yemèn,
That fast with me can fight.
"Methought they did mee beate and binde,
And tooke my bowe mee froe;
Iff I be Robin alive in this lande,15
Ile be wroken on them towe."
"Sweavens are swift, master," quoth John,
"As the wind that blowes ore a hill;
For iff itt be never so loude this night,
To-morrow itt may be still."20
"Buske yee, bowne yee, my merry men all,
And John shall goe with mee,
For Ile goe seeke yond wight yeomèn,
In greenwood where they bee."[Pg 161]
Then they cast on their gownes of grene,25
And tooke theyr bowes each one;
And they away to the greene forrèst
A shooting forth are gone;
Until they came to the merry greenwood,
Where they had gladdest bee;30
There were they ware of a wight yeomàn,
His body leaned to a tree.
A sword and a dagger he wore by his side,
Of manye a man the bane;
And he was clad in his capull hyde,35
Topp and tayll and mayne.
"Stand you still, master," quoth Litle John,
"Under this tree so grene,
And I will go to yond wight yeomàn,
To know what he doth meane."40
"Ah! John, by me thou settest noe store,
And that I farley finde:
How offt send I my men beffore,
And tarry my selfe behinde?
"It is no cunning a knave to ken,45
And a man but heare him speake;
And itt were not for bursting of my bowe,
John, I thy head wold breake."[Pg 162]
As often wordes they breeden bale,
So they parted Robin and John;50
And John is gone to Barnesdale;
The gates he knoweth eche one.
But when he came to Barnesdale,
Great heavinesse there hee hadd,
For he found tow of his owne fellòwes,55
Were slaine both in a slade.
And Scarlette he was flying a-foote
Fast over stocke and stone,
For the sheriffe with seven score men
Fast after him is gone.60
"One shoote now I will shoote," quoth John,
"With Christ his might and mayne;
Ile make yond fellow that flyes soe fast,
To stopp he shall be fayne."
Then John bent up his long bende-bowe,65
And fetteled him to shoote:
The bowe was made of tender boughe,
And fell downe to his foote.
"Woe worth, woe worth thee, wicked wood,
That ere thou grew on a tree!70
For now this day thou art my bale,
My boote when thou shold bee."[Pg 163]
His shoote it was but loosely shott,
Yet flewe not the arrowe in vaine,
For itt mett one of the sheriffes men,75
Good William a Trent was slaine.
It had bene better of William a Trent
To have bene abed with sorrowe,
Than to be that day in the greenwood slade
To meet with Little Johns arrowe.80
But as it is said, when men be mett
Fyve can doe more than three,
The sheriffe hath taken Little John,
And bound him fast to a tree.
"Thou shalt be drawen by dale and downe,85
And hanged hye on a hill;"
"But thou mayst fayle of thy purpose," quoth John,
"If itt be Christ his will."
Lett us leave talking of Little John,
And thinke of Robin Hood,90
How he is gone to the wight yeomàn,
Where under the leaves he stood.
"Good morrowe, good fellowe," sayd Robin so fayre,
"Good morrowe, good fellow, quoth he:
Methinkes by this bowe thou beares in thy hande,
[Pg 164]A good archere thou sholdst bee."96
"I am wilfulle of my waye," quo' the yemàn,
"And of my morning tyde:"
"Ile lead thee through the wood," sayd Robin,
"Good, fellow, Ile be thy guide."100
"I seeke an outlawe," the straunger sayd,
"Men call him Robin Hood:
Rather Ild meet with that proud outlawe
Than fortye pound soe good."
"Now come with me, thou wight yemàn,105
And Robin thou soone shalt see;
But first let us some pastime find
Under the greenwood tree.
"First let us some masterye make
Among the woods so even;110
We may chance to meet with Robin Hood
Here att some unsett steven."
They cutt them downe two summer shroggs,
That grew both under a breere,
And sett them threescore rood in twaine,115
To shoote the prickes y-fere.
"Leade on, good fellowe," quoth Robin Hood,
"Leade on, I do bidd thee;"
"Nay, by my faith, good fellowe," hee sayd,
[Pg 165]"My leader thou shalt bee."120
The first time Robin shot at the pricke,
He mist but an inch it fro;
The yeoman was an archer good,
But he cold never shoote soe.
The second shoote had the wighte yemàn,125
He shote within the garlànde;
But Robin he shott far better than hee,
For he clave the good pricke-wande.
"A blessing upon thy heart," he sayd,
"Good fellowe, thy shooting is goode;130
For an thy hart be as good as thy hand,
Thou wert better then Robin Hoode.
"Now tell me thy name, good fellowe," sayd he,
"Under the leaves of lyne;"
"Nay, by my faith," quoth bolde Robin,135
"Till thou have told me thine."
"I dwell by dale and downe," quoth hee,
"And Robin to take Ime sworne;
And when I am called by my right name,
I am Guye of good Gisbòrne."140
"My dwelling is in this wood," sayes Robin,
"By thee I set right nought:
I am Robin Hood of Barnésdale,
Whom thou so long hast sought."[Pg 166]
He that had nether beene kithe nor kin145
Might have seene a full fayre fight,
To see how together these yeomen went
With blades both browne and bright:
To see how these yeomen together they fought
Two howres of a summers day,150
Yett neither Robin Hood nor sir Guy
Them fettled to flye away.
Robin was reachles on a roote,
And stumbled at that tyde;
And Guy was quicke and nimble withall,155
And hitt him ore the left side.
"Ah, deere Ladye," sayd Robin Hood tho,
"Thou art both mother and may;
I think it was never mans destinye
To dye before his day."160
Robin thought on our ladye deere,
And soone leapt up againe,
And strait he came with an awkwarde stroke,
And he sir Guy hath slayne.
He took sir Guys head by the hayre,165
And sticked itt on his bowes end:
"Thou hast beene a traytor all thy liffe,
Which thing must have an end."[Pg 167]
Robin pulled forth an Irish kniffe,
And nicked sir Guy in the face,170
That he was never on woman born
Cold tell whose head it was.
Sayes, "Lye there, lye there now, sir Guye,
And with me be not wrothe;
Iff thou have had the worse strokes at my hand,
Thou shalt have the better clothe."176
Robin did off his gowne of greene,
And on sir Guy did it throwe,
And hee put on that capull hyde,
That cladd him topp to toe.180
"The bowe, the arrowes, and litle horne,
Now with me I will beare;
For I will away to Barnésdale,
To see how my men doe fare."
Robin Hood sett Guyes horne to his mouth,185
And a loud blast in it did blow:
That beheard the sheriffe of Nottingham,
As he leaned under a lowe.
"Hearken, hearken," sayd the sheriffe,
"I heare nowe tydings good,190
For yonder I heare sir Guyes horne blowe,
And he hath slaine Robin Hoode.[Pg 168]
"Yonder I heare sir Guyes horne blowe,
Itt blowes soe well in tyde,
And yonder comes that wight yeomàn,195
Cladd in his capull hyde.
"Come hyther, come hyther, thou good sir Guy,
Aske what thou wilt of mee:"
"O I will none of thy gold," sayd Robin,
"Nor I will none of thy fee.200
"But now I have slaine the master," he sayes,
"Let me goe strike the knave;
This is all the rewarde I aske,
Nor noe other will I have."
"Thou art a madman," said the sheriffe,205
"Thou sholdest have had a knights fee;
But seeing thy asking hath beene soe bad,
Well granted it shale be."
When Litle John heard his master speake,
Well knewe he it was his steven;210
"Now shall I be looset," quoth Litle John,
"With Christ his might in heaven."
Fast Robin hee hyed him to Little John,
He thought to loose him belive:
The sheriffe and all his companye215
Fast after him did drive.[Pg 169]
"Stand abacke, stand abacke," sayd Robin,
"Why draw you mee soe neere?
It was never the use in our countrye,
Ones shrift another shold heere."220
But Robin pulled forth an Irysh knife,
And losed John hand and foote,
And gave him sir Guyes bow into his hand,
And bade it be his boote.
Then John he took Guyes bow in his hand,225
His boltes and arrowes eche one:
When the sheriffe saw Little John bend his bow,
He fettled him to be gone.
Towards his house in Nottingham towne
He fled full fast away,230
And soe did all the companye,
Not one behind wold stay.
But he cold neither runne soe fast,
Nor away soe fast cold ryde,
But Litle John with an arrowe soe broad235
He shott him into the backe-syde.

MS. 1, shales, for shaws.

11, wighty.

24, the.

27, 31, the.

105, wighty.

125, wightye.

195, wightye.

[Pg 170]


"The following ballad was taken down by the Editor from the recitation of Mrs. Brown, and is here given without the alteration of a single word."—Jamieson, Popular Ballads, ii. 44.

Another version of the same is printed in the Appendix from Buchan's collections.

O Willie's large o' limb and lith,
And come o' high degree;
And he is gone to Earl Richard
To serve for meat and fee.
Earl Richard had but ae daughter,5
Fair as a lily flower;
And they made up their love-contract
Like proper paramour.
It fell upon a simmers nicht,
Whan the leaves were fair and green,10
That Willie met his gay ladie
Intil the wood alane.
"O narrow is my gown, Willie,
That wont to be sae wide;
And gane is a' my fair colour,15
That wont to be my pride.[Pg 171]
"But gin my father should get word
What's past between us twa,
Before that he should eat or drink,
He'd hang you o'er that wa.20
"But ye'le come to my bower, Willie,
Just as the sun goes down;
And kep me in your arms twa,
And latna me fa' down."
O whan the sun was now gane down,25
He's doen him till her bower;
And there, by the lee licht o' the moon,
Her window she lookit o'er.
Intill a robe o' red scarlet
She lap, fearless o' harm;30
And Willie was large o' lith and limb,
And keepit her in his arm.
And they've gane to the gude green-wood,
And ere the night was deen,
She's borne to him a bonny young son,35
Amang the leaves sae green.
Whan night was gane, and day was come,
And the sun began to peep,
Up and raise the Earl Richard
[Pg 172]Out o' his drowsy sleep.40
He's ca'd upon his merry young men,
By ane, by twa, and by three,
"O what's come o' my daughter dear,
That she's nae come to me?
"I dreamt a dreary dream last night,45
God grant it come to gude!
I dreamt I saw my daughter dear
Drown in the saut sea flood.
"But gin my daughter be dead or sick,
Or yet be stown awa,50
I mak a vow, and I'll keep it true,
I'll hang ye ane and a!"
They sought her back, they sought her fore,
They sought her up and down;
They got her in the gude green wood,55
Nursing her bonny young son.
He took the bonny boy in his arms,
And kist him tenderlie;
Says, "Though I would your father hang,
Your mother's dear to me."60
He kist him o'er and o'er again;
"My grandson I thee claim;
And Robin Hood in gude green wood,
And that shall be your name."[Pg 173]
And mony ane sings o' grass, o' grass,65
And mony ane sings o' corn;
And mony ane sings o' Robin Hood,
Kens little whare he was born.
It was na in the ha', the ha',
Nor in the painted bower;70
But it was in the gude green wood,
Amang the lily flower.


Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, iii. 208.

This legend and the preceding are placed in this volume solely on account of the names given to the personages who figure in them. In character they have no affinity with the recognized circle of Robin Hood ballads. The story is of a more ancient cast, and also of a type common to the northern nations, and we have no doubt that Robin Hood and Little John were in the day of their popularity made to displace heroes of immemorial prescription, in order to give eclat to an old tale.

Of Rose the Red, and White Lilly, three versions have been published. The present is that of Scott, given "chiefly" from Mrs. Brown's manuscript. Kinloch's is subjoined, and another, furnished by Buchan, is printed in the Appendix.[Pg 174]

O Rose the Red, and White Lilly,
Their mother deir was dead;
And their father has married an ill woman,
Wish'd them twa little guid.
But she had twa as gallant sons5
As ever brake mans bread;
And the tane o' them lo'ed her, White Lilly,
And the tother Rose the Red.
O bigged hae they a bigly bour,
Fast by the roaring strand;10
And there was mair mirth in the ladyes bour,
Nor in a' their fathers land.
But out and spak their step-mother,
As she stood a little forebye—
"I hope to live and play the prank15
Sall gar your loud sang lie."
She's call'd upon her eldest son,
"Cum here, my son, to me:
It fears me sair, my Bauld Arthur,
That ye maun sail the sea."20
"Gin sae it maun be, my deir mother,
Your bidding I maun dee;
But, be never waur to Rose the Red,
Than ye hae been to me."[Pg 175]
She's called upon her youngest son,25
"Cum here, my son, to me:
It fears me sair, my Brown Robin,
That ye maun sail the sea."
"Gin it fear ye sair, my mother deir,
Your bidding I shall dee;30
But, be never waur to White Lilly,
Than ye hae been to me."
"Now haud your tongues, ye foolish boys,
For small sall be their part:
They ne'er again sall see your face,35
Gin their very hearts suld break."
Sae Bauld Arthur's gane to our king's court,
His hie chamberlain to be;
But Brown Robin, he has slain a knight,
And to grene-woode he did flee.40
When Rose the Red, and White Lilly,
Saw their twa loves were gane,
Sune did they drop the loud loud sang,
Took up the still mourning.
And out then spake her White Lilly;45
"My sister, we'll be gane:
Why suld we stay in Barnisdale,
To mourn our bour within?"[Pg 176]
O cutted hae they their green cloathing,
A little abune their knee,50
And sae hae they their yellow hair,
A little abune their bree.
And left hae they that bonny bour,
To cross the raging sea;
And they hae ta'en to a holy chapel,55
Was christened by Our Ladye.
And they hae changed their twa names,
Sae far frae ony toun;
And the tane o' them's hight Sweet Willie,
And the tother's Rouge the Rounde.60
Between the twa a promise is,
And they hae sworn it to fulfil;
Whenever the tane blew a bugle-horn,
The tother suld cum her till.
Sweet Willie's gane to the kings court,65
Her true love for to see;
And Rouge the Rounde to gude grene-wood,
Brown Robin's man to be.
O it fell anes, upon a time,
They putted at the stane;70
And seven foot ayont them a',
Brown Robin's gar'd it gang.[Pg 177]
She lifted the heavy putting-stane,
And gave a sad "Ohon!"
Then out bespake him, Brown Robin,75
"But that's a woman's moan!"
"O kent ye by my rosy lips?
Or by my yellow hair?
Or kent ye by my milk-white breast,
Ye never yet saw bare?"80
"I kent na by your rosy lips;
Nor by your yellow hair;
But, cum to your bour whaever likes,
They'll find a ladye there."
"O gin ye come my bour within,85
Through fraud, deceit, or guile,
Wi' this same brand, that's in my hand,
I vow I will thee kill."
"Yet durst I cum into your bour,
And ask nae leave," quo' he;90
"And wi' this same brand, that's in my hand,
Wave danger back on thee."
About the dead hour o' the night,
The ladye's bour was broken;
And, about the first hour o' the day,95
The fair knave bairn was gotten.[Pg 178]
When days were gane, and months were come,
The ladye was sad and wan;
And aye she cried for a bour woman,
For to wait her upon.100
Then up and spake him, Brown Robin,
"And what needs this?" quo' he;
"Or what can woman do for you,
That canna be done by me?"
"'Twas never my mothers fashion," she said,105
"Nor shall it e'er be mine,
That belted knights should e're remain
While ladyes dree'd their pain.
"But gin ye take that bugle-horn,
And wind a blast sae shrill,110
I hae a brother in yonder court,
Will come me quickly till."
"O gin ye hae a brother on earth,
That ye lo'e mair than me,
Ye may blow the horn yoursell," he says,115
"For a blast I winna gie."
She's ta'en the bugle in her hand,
And blawn baith loud and shrill;
Sweet William started at the sound,
[Pg 179]And came her quickly till.120
O up and starts him, Brown Robin,
And swore by Our Ladye,
"No man shall come into this bour,
But first maun fight wi' me."
O they hae fought the wood within,125
Till the sun was going down;
And drops o' blood frae Rose the Red
Came pouring to the ground.
She leant her back against an aik,
Said, "Robin, let me be;130
For it is a ladye, bred and born,
That has fought this day wi' thee."
O seven foot he started back,
Cried, "Alas and woe is me!
For I wished never, in all my life,135
A woman's bluid to see:
"And that all for the knightly vow
I swore to Our Ladye;
But mair for the sake o' ae fair maid,
Whose name was White Lilly."140
Then out and spake her Rouge the Rounde,
And leugh right hertilie,
"She has been wi' ye this year and mair,
Though ye wistna it was she."[Pg 180]
Now word is gane through all the land,145
Before a month was gane,
That a foresters page, in gude grene-wood,
Had born a bonny son.
The marvel gaed to the kings court,
And to the king himsell;150
"Now, by my fae," the king did say,
"The like was never heard tell!"
Then out and spake him Bauld Arthur,
And laugh'd right loud and hie—
"I trow some may has plaid the lown,155
And fled her ain countrie."
"Bring me my steid," the King can say,
"My bow and arrows keen;
And I'll gae hunt in yonder wood,
And see what's to be seen."160
"Gin it please your grace," quo' Bauld Arthur,
"My liege, I'll gang you wi',
And see gin I can meet a bonny page,
That's stray'd awa frae me."
And they hae chased in gude green-wood,165
The buck but and the rae,
Till they drew near Brown Robin's bour,
About the close o' day.[Pg 181]
Then out an' spake the king himsell,
Says, "Arthur, look and see,170
Gin yon be not your favourite page,
That leans against yon tree."
O Arthur's ta'en a bugle-horn,
And blawn a blast sae shrill;
Sweet Willie started to her feet,175
And ran him quickly till.
"O wanted ye your meat, Willie,
Or wanted ye your fee?
Or gat ye e'er an angry word,
That ye ran awa frae me?"180
"I wanted nought, my master dear;
To me ye aye was good:
I cam to see my ae brother,
That wons in this grene-wood."
Then out bespake the King again,—185
"My boy, now tell to me,
Who dwells into yon bigly bour,
Beneath yon green aik tree?"
"O pardon me," said sweet Willy,
"My liege, I darena tell;190
And gangna near yon outlaw's bour,
For fear they suld you kill."[Pg 182]
"O haud your tongue, my bonny boy,
For I winna be said nay;
But I will gang yon bour within,195
Betide me weal or wae."
They have lighted frae their milk-white steids,
And saftlie entered in;
And there they saw her, White Lilly,
Nursing her bonny young son.200
"Now, by the mass," the King he said,
"This is a comely sight;
I trow, instead of a forester's man,
This is a ladye bright!"
O out and spake her, Rose the Red,205
And fell low on her knee:—
"O pardon us, my gracious liege,
And our story I'll tell thee.
"Our father is a wealthy lord,
Lives into Barnisdale;210
But we had a wicked step-mother,
That wrought us meikle bale.
"Yet had she twa as fu' fair sons
As e'er the sun did see;
And the tane o' them lo'ed my sister deir,215
And the tother said he lo'ed me."[Pg 183]
Then out and cried him Bauld Arthur,
As by the King he stood,—
"Now, by the faith of my body,
This suld be Rose the Red!"220
The king has sent for robes o' green,
And girdles o' shining gold;
And sae sune have the ladyes busked themselves,
Sae glorious to behold.
Then in and came him, Brown Robin,225
Fra hunting o' the King's deer,
But when he saw the King himsell,
He started back for fear.
The King has ta'en Robin by the hand,
And bade him nothing dread,230
But quit for aye the gude grene-wood,
And come to the court wi' speed.
The King has ta'en White Lilly's son,
And set him on his knee;
Says, "Gin ye live to wield a brand,235
My bowman thou sall be."
Then they have ta'en them to the holy chapelle,
And there had fair wedding;
And when they cam to the King's court,
For joy the bells did ring.240

[Pg 184]


From Kinloch's Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 69.

The King has wedded an ill woman,
Into some foreign land;
His daughters twa, that stood in awe,
They bravely sat and sang.
Then in be-came their step-mother,5
Sae stately steppin' ben;
"O gin I live and bruik my life,
I'll gar ye change your tune."
"O we sang ne'er that sang, ladie,
But we will sing again;10
And ye ne'er boor that son, ladie,
We wad lay our love on.
"But we will cow our yellow locks,
A little abune our bree;
And we will on to gude green-wud,15
And serve for meat and fee.[Pg 185]
"And we will kilt our gay claithing
A little below the knee;
And we will on the gude green-wud,
Gif Robin Hood we see.20
"And we will change our ain twa names,
When we gae frae the toun,—
The tane we will call Nicholas,
The tither Rogee Roun."
Then they hae cow'd their yellow locks,25
A little abune their bree;
And they are on to gude green-wud
To serve for meat and fee.
And they hae kilt their gay claithing
A little below their knee,30
And they are on to gud green-wud,
Gif Robin Hood they see.
And they hae chang'd thair ain twa names,
When they gaed frae the toun;—
The tane they've called Nicholas,35
The tither Rogee Roun.
And they hae staid in gude green-wud,
And never a day thoucht long,
Till it fell ance upon a day,
[Pg 186]That Rogee sang a sang.40
"When we were in our fathers bouer,
We sew'd the silken seam;
But now we walk the gude green-wud,
And bear anither name.
"When we were in our fathers ha',45
We wore the beaten gold;
But now we wear the shield sae sharp,
Alas! we'll die with cold!"
Then up bespake him Robin Hood,
As he to them drew near;50
"Instead of boys to carry the bow,
Twa ladies we've got here."
So they had not been in gud green-wud,
A twalmonth and a day,
Till Rogee Roun was as big wi' bairn55
As onie lady could gae.
"O wae be to my stepmother,
That garr'd me leave my hame,
For I'm wi' bairn to Robin Hood,
And near nine month is gane.60
"O wha will be my bouer-woman?
Na bouer-woman is here!
O wha will be my bouer-woman,
Whan that sad time draws near?
* * * * * * *[Pg 187]
The tane was wedded to Robin Hood,65
And the tither to Little John;
And it was a' owing to their step-mother
That garr'd them leave their hame.


"Robin Hood and his fellow, Little John," says Motherwell, "were popular with the minstrels of Scotland as they were with those of England. Our early poets and historians never tired of alluding to songs current in their own times, relative to these waithmen and their merry men. Even to this day there are fragments of songs regarding them, traditionally extant in Scotland, which have not yet found their way into any printed collection of ballads commemorative of these celebrated outlaws. Were they carefully gathered they would form an interesting addition to Ritson's Robin Hood. In that collection, the ballad of Robin Hood and the Beggar is evidently the production of a Scottish minstrel, pretty early stall copies of which were printed both at Aberdeen and Glasgow."—Minstrelsy, p. xliii.

Ritson printed this ballad (Robin Hood, ii. 97,) from a modern copy printed at Newcastle. He remarks that a similar story may be found in Le Moyen de parvenir, (i. 304, ed. 1739, Comment un moine se débarasse des voleurs.)

We have adopted a superior version given by Gutch,[Pg 188] which was from an Aberdeen copy in the Ashmolean Museum, without date.—(Gutch's Robin Hood, ii. 233.)

Robin Hood and the Beggar, with the nine pieces which are now immediately subjoined, the first part of the tenth, (which has the same title as the present,) and the first part of Robin Hood and the Stranger, in the Appendix, contains a story essentially the same with the first part of the ancient ballad of Robin Hood and the Potter, p. 17.

Lyth and listen, gentlemen,
That's come of high born blood,
I'll tell you of a brave booting
That befel Robin Hood.
Robin Hood upon a day,5
He went forth alone;
And as he came from Barnesdale
Into fair evening,
He met a beggar on the way,
Who sturdily could gang;10
He had a pike-staff in his hand
That was baith stark and strang.
A clouted cloak about him was,
That held him frae the cold;
The thinnest bit of it, I guess,15
Was more then twenty fold.
His meal-pock hang about his neck,
Into a leathern fang,[Pg 189]
Well fasten'd with a broad buckle,
That was baith stark and strang.20
He had three hats upon his head,
Together stickèd fast,
He car'd neither for wind nor weet,
In lands where'er he past.
Good Robin coost him in his way,25
To see what he might be,
If any beggar had monèy,
He thought some part had he.
"Tarry, tarry," good Robin says,
"Tarry, and speak with me;"30
He heard him as he heard him not,
And fast on his way can hie.
"It be's not so," says good Robin,
"Nay, thou must tarry still;"
"By my troth," said the bold beggar,35
"Of that I have no will.
"It is far to my lodging house,
And it is growing late;
If they have supt e'er I come in
I will look wondrous blate."40
"Now, by my truth," says good Robin,
"I see well by thy fare,[Pg 190]
If thou chear well to thy supper,
Of mine thou takes no care;
"Who wants my dinner all this day,45
And wots not where to lie,
And should I to the tavern go,
I want money to buy.
"Sir, thou must lend me some money
Till we two meet again:"50
The beggar answer'd cankerdly,
"I have no money to lend.
"Thou art as young a man as I,
And seems to be as sweir;
If thou fast till thou get from me,55
Thou shalt eat none this year."
"Now, by my truth," says good Robin,
"Since we are 'sembled so,
If thou have but a small farthing,
I'll have it e'er thou go.60
"Therefore, lay down thy clouted cloak,
And do no longer stand,
And loose the strings of all thy pocks,
I'll ripe them with my hand.
"And now to thee I make a vow,65
If thou make any din,[Pg 191]
I shall see if a broad arrow,
Can pierce a beggar's skin."
The beggar smil'd, and answer made,
"Far better let me be;70
Think not that I will be afraid
For thy nip crooked tree.
"Or that I fear thee any whit
For thy curn nips of sticks;
I know no use for them so meet75
As to be pudding-pricks.
"Here I defy thee to do me ill,
For all thy boisterous fare;
Thou'st get nothing from me but ill,
Would'st thou seek evermair."80
Good Robin bent his noble bow,
He was an angery man,
And in it set a broad arròw;
Yet erst was drawn a span,
The beggar, with his noble tree,85
Reach'd him so round a rout,
That his bow and his broad arròw
In flinders flew about.
Good Robin bound him to his brand,
But that prov'd likewise vain,[Pg 192]
The beggar lighted on his hand
With his pike-staff again.
I wot he might not draw a sword
For forty days and mair;
Good Robin could not speak a word,95
His heart was never so sair.
He could not fight, he could not flee,
He wist not what to do;
The beggar with his noble tree
Laid lusty flaps him to.100
He paid good Robin back and side,
And beft him up and down,
And with his pike-staff still laid on hard,
Till he fell in a swoon.
"Fy, stand up, man," the beggar said,105
"'Tis shame to go to rest;
Stay still till thou get my money,
I think it were the best.
"And syne go to the tavern house,
And buy both wine and ale;110
Hereat thy friends will crack full crouse,
Thou hast been at a dale."
Good Robin answer'd never a word,
But lay still as a stane;[Pg 193]
His cheeks were white as any clay,115
And closed were his eyen.
The beggar thought him dead but fail,
And boldly bown'd away;—
I would you had been at the dale,
And gotten part of the play.120


Now three of Robin's men, by chance,
Came walking by the way,
And found their master in a trance,
On ground where he did lay.
Up have they taken good Robin,5
Making a piteous beir,
Yet saw they no man there at whom
They might the matter speir.
They lookèd him all round about,
But wounds on him saw none,10
Yet at his mouth came bocking out
The blood of a good vein.
Cold water they have taken syne,
And cast into his face;
Then he began to lift his eyne,15
And spake within short space.[Pg 194]
"Tell us, dear master," said his men,
"How with you stands the case?"
Good Robin sigh'd e'er he began
To tell of his disgrace.20
"I have been watchman in this wood
Near hand this forty year,
Yet I was never so hard bestead
As you have found me here.
"A beggar with a clouted cloak,25
In whom I fear'd no ill,
Hath with his pike-staff claw'd my back,
I fear 'twill never be well.
See, where he goes o'er yonder hill,
With hat upon his head;30
If e'er you lov'd your master well,
Go now revenge this deed.
"And bring him back again to me,
If it lie in your might,
That I may see, before I die,35
Him punisht in my sight.
"And if you may not bring him back,
Let him not go loose on;
For to us all it were great shame
[Pg 195]If he escap't again."40
"One of us shall with you remain,
Because you're ill at ease,
The other two shall bring him back,
To use him as you please."
"Now, by my troth," says good Robin,45
"I trow there's enough said;
If he get scouth to wield his tree,
I fear you'll both be paid."
"Be ye not fear'd, our good master,
That we two can be dung50
With any blutter base beggar,
That has nought but a rung.
"His staff shall stand him in no stead;
That you shall shortly see;
But back again he shall be led,55
And fast bound shall he be,
To see if ye will have him slain,
Or hangèd on a tree."
"But cast you slily in his way,
Before he be aware,60
And on his pike-staff first hands lay,
You'll speed the better far."
Now leave we Robin with his man,
Again to play the child,
And learn himself to stand and gang65
By haulds, for all his eild.[Pg 196]
Now pass we to the bold beggàr
That rakèd o'er the hill,
Who never mended his pace no more
Nor he had done no ill.70
The young men knew the country well,
So soon where he would be,
And they have taken another way,
Was nearer by miles three.
They rudely ran with all their might,75
Spared neither dub nor mire,
They started neither at laigh nor hight,
No travel made them tire.
Till they before the beggar wan,
And coost them in his way;80
A little wood lay in a glen,
And there they both did stay.
They stood up closely by a tree,
In ilk side of the gate,
Until the beggar came them to,85
That thought not of such fate.
And as he was betwixt them past,
They leapt upon him baith;
The one his pike-staff grippèd fast,
[Pg 197]They fearèd for its scaith.90
The other he held in his sight
A drawen dirk to his breast,
And said, "False carl, quit thy staff,
Or I shall be thy priest."
His pike-staff they have taken him frae,95
And stuck it in the green,
He was full loath to let gae,
If better might have been.
The beggar was the feardest man
Of one that ever might be;100
To win away no way he can,
Nor help him with his tree.
He wist not wherefore he was tane,
Nor how many was there;
He thought his life-days had been gane,105
He grew into despair.
"Grant me my life," the beggar said,
"For him that died on tree,
And take away that ugly knife,
Or then for fear I'll die.110
"I griev'd you never in all my life,
Nor late nor yet by ayre,
Ye have great sin, if ye would slay
A silly poor beggàr."[Pg 198]
"Thou lies, false lown," they said again,115
"By all that may be sworn;
Thou hast near slain the gentlest man
That ever yet was born.
"And back again thou shalt be led,
And fast bound shalt thou be,120
To see if he will have thee slain,
Or hangèd on a tree."
The beggar then thought all was wrong;
They were set for his wrack;
He saw nothing appearing then,125
But ill upon worse back.
Were he out of their hands, he thought,
And had again his tree,
He should not be had back for nought,
With such as he did see.130
Then he bethought him on a wile,
If it could take effect,
How he the young men might beguile,
And give them a begeck.
Thus for to do them shame or ill,135
His beastly breast was bent;
He found the wind grew something shril,
To further his intent.[Pg 199]
He said, "Brave gentlemen, be good,
And let the poor man be;140
When ye have taken a beggar's blood,
It helps you not a flea.
"It was but in my own defence,
If he hath gotten skaith;
But I will make a recompense,145
Much better for you baith.
"If ye will set me safe and free,
And do me no dangèr,
An hundred pounds I will you give,
And much more good silvèr,150
"That I have gather'd this many years,
Under this clouted cloak,
And hid up [wonder] privately,
In bottom of my pock."
The young men to a council yeed,155
And let the beggar gae;
They wist full well he had no speed
From them to run away.
They thought they would the money take,
Come after what so may;160
And then they would not bring him back,
But in that place him slay.[Pg 200]
By that good Robin would not know
That they had gotten coin;
It would content him for to show165
That there they had him slain.
They said, "False carl, soon have done,
And tell forth thy monèy;
For the ill turn that thou hast done
'Tis but a simple fee.170
"And yet we will not have thee back,
Come after what so may,
If thou will do that which thou spake,
And make us present pay."
O then he loos'd his clouted cloak,175
And spread it on the ground,
And thereon laid he many a pock,
Betwixt them and the wind.
He took a great bag from his hase,
It was near full of meal,180
Two pecks in it at least there was,
And more I wot full well.
Upon his cloak he laid it down,
The mouth he open'd wide,
To turn the same he made him bown,185
The young men ready spy'd.[Pg 201]
In every hand he took a nook
Of that great leathern meal,
And with a fling the meal he shook,
Into their faces hail:190
Wherewith he blinded them so close,
A stime they could not see;
And then in heart he did rejoice,
And clapt his lusty tree.
He thought if he had done them wrong,195
In mealing of their cloaths,
For to strike off the meal again
With his pike-staff he goes.
Or any of them could red their eyne,
Or could a glimm'ring see,200
Ilk one of them a dozen had
Well laid on with the tree.
The young men were right swift of foot,
And boldly ran away,
The beggar could them no more hit,205
For all the haste he may.
"What ails this haste?" the beggar said,
"May ye not tarry still,
Until your money be received?
[Pg 202]I'll pay you with good will.210
"The shaking of my pocks, I fear,
Hath blown into your eyne;
But I have a good pike-staff here
Can ripe them out full clean."
The young men answer'd never a word,215
They were dumb as a stane;
In the thick wood the beggar fled,
E'er they riped their eyne.
And syne the night became so late,
To seek him was in vain:220
But judge ye, if they lookèd blate,
When they came home again.
Good Robin spear'd how they had sped;
They answer'd him, "Full ill:"
"That cannot be," good Robin says,225
"Ye have been at the mill.
"The mill it is a meatrif place,
They may lick what they please;
Most like ye have been at that art,
Who would look to your cloaths."230
They hang'd their heads, they dropèd down,
A word they could not speak:
Robin said, "Because I fell a-swoon,
I think you'll do the like.[Pg 203]
"Tell on the matter, less or more,235
And tell me what and how
Ye have done with the bold beggàr,
I sent you for right now."
And when they told him to an end,
As I have said before,240
How that the beggar did them blind,
What misters process more,
And how he lin'd their shoulders broad
With his great trenchen tree,
And how in the thick wood he fled,245
E'er they a stime could see,
And how they scarcely could win home,
Their bones were beft so sore,
Good Robin cry'd, "Fy! out, for shame!
We're sham'd for evermore."250
Altho' good Robin would full fain
Of his wrong revengèd be,
He smil'd to see his merry young men
Had gotten a taste of the tree.

72,73. Wanting in the original, and restored from the Aberdeen copy. Gutch.

153, wonder. Ritson.

236, where.

243, 244. These two lines are restored from the Aberdeen ballad. G.

[Pg 204]



Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 18.

"From an old black-letter copy, in A. à Wood's collection, compared with two others in the British Museum, one in black-letter.

"Several lines of this ballad are quoted in the two old plays of the Downfall and Death of Robert earle of Huntington, 1601, 4to. b. l. but acted many years before. It is also alluded to in Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor, act i. scene 1, and again in his Second Part of King Henry IV., act v. scene 3.

"In 1557 certain 'ballets' are entered on the books of the Stationers' Company, 'to John Wallye and Mrs. Toye,' one of which is entitled Of Wakefylde and a grene; meaning apparently the ballad here reprinted." Ritson.

In Wakefield there lives a jolly pindèr,
In Wakefield all on a green,
In Wakefield all on a green.
* * * * *
* * * * *[Pg 205]
"There is neither knight nor squire," said the pinder,
"Nor baron that is so bold,5
Nor baron that is so bold,
Dare make a trespàss to the town of Wakefield,
But his pledge goes to the pinfold," &c.
All this beheard three wighty yeomen,
'Twas Robin Hood, Scarlet and John;10
With that they espy'd the jolly pindèr,
As he sat under a thorn.
"Now turn again, turn again," said the pindèr,
"For a wrong way you have gone;
For you have forsaken the kings highway,15
And made a path over the corn."
"O that were a shame," said jolly Robìn,
"We being three, and thou but one:"
The pinder leapt back then thirty good foot,
'Twas thirty good foot and one.20
He leaned his back fast unto a thorn,
And his foot against a stone,
And there he fought a long summers day,
A summers day so long,
Till that their swords on their broad bucklèrs,25
Were broke fast into their hands.[Pg 206]
"Hold thy hand, hold thy hand," said bold Robin Hood,
"And my merry men stand aside;
For this is one of the best pindèrs,
That with sword ever I tryed.30
"And wilt thou forsake thy pinders craft,
And go to the greenwood with me?
Thou shalt have a livery twice in the year,
Th' one greene, 'tither brown shall be."
"At Michaelmas next my cov'nant comes out,35
When every man gathers his fee,
Then I'le take my blew blade all in my hand,
And plod to the green-wood with thee."
"Hast thou either meat or drink," said Robin Hood,
"For my merry men and me?"40
* * * * *
* * * * *
"I have both bread and beef," said the pinder,
"And good ale of the best:"
"And that is meat good enough," said Robin Hood,
For such unbidden 'guest.'[Pg 207]
"O wilt thou forsake the pinder his craft,45
And go to the green-wood with me?
Thou shalt have a livery twice in the year,
The one green, the other brown [shall be]."
"If Michaelmas day was come and gone,
And my master had paid me my fee,50
Then would I set as little by him,
As my master doth by me."

9, witty young men. Ritson

29, 30. This is the reading in one black-letter copy that has come under the Editor's notice, instead of

"For this is one of the best pinders
That ever I tried with sword."—Gutch.

33, 34. From the same.



"No ancient copy of this ballad having been met with, it is given from an edition of Robin Hood's Garland, printed some years since at York. The tune is Arthur a Bland." Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 137.

When Phœbus had melted the 'sickles' of ice,
With a hey down, &c.
And likewise the mountains of snow,
Bold Robin Hood he would ramble away,
To frolick abroad with his bow.
He left all his merry men waiting behind,5
Whilst through the green vallies he pass'd,
Where he did behold a forester bold,
Who cry'd out, "Friend, whither so fast?"[Pg 208]
"I am going," quoth Robin, "to kill a fat buck,
For me and my merry men all;10
Besides, ere I go, I'll have a fat doe,
Or else it shall cost me a fall."
"You'd best have a care," said the forester then,
"For these are his majesty's deer;
Before you shall shoot, the thing I'll dispute,15
For I am head forester here."
"These thirteen long summers," quoth Robin, "I'm sure,
My arrows I here have let fly,
Where freely I range; methinks it is strange,
You should have more power than I.20
"This forest," quoth Robin, "I think is my own,
And so are the nimble deer too;
Therefore I declare, and solemnly swear,
I'll not be affronted by you."
The forester he had a long quarter staff,25
Likewise a broad sword by his side;
Without more ado, he presently drew,
Declaring the truth should be try'd.
Bold Robin Hood had a sword of the best,
Thus, ere he would take any wrong,30
His courage was flush, he'd venture a brush,
And thus they fell to it ding dong.[Pg 209]
The very first blow that the forester gave,
He made his broad weapon cry twang;
'Twas over the head, he fell down for dead,35
O that was a damnable bang!
But Robin he soon recovered himself,
And bravely fell to it again;
The very next stroke their weapons they broke.
Yet never a man there was slain.40
At quarter staff then they resolvèd to play,
Because they would have the other bout;
And brave Robin Hood right valiantly stood,
Unwilling he was to give out.
Bold Robin he gave him very hard blows,45
The other return'd them as fast;
At every stroke their jackets did smoke,
Three hours the combat did last.
At length in a rage the forester grew,
And cudgell'd bold Robin so sore,50
That he could not stand, so shaking his hand,
He cry'd, "Let us freely give o'er.
"Thou art a brave fellow; I needs must confess,
I never knew any so good;
Thou art fitting to be a yeoman for me,55
And range in the merry green-wood.[Pg 210]
"Ill give thee this ring as a token of love,
For bravely thou hast acted thy part;
That man that can fight, in him I delight,
And love him with all my whole heart.60
Robin Hood set his bugle-horn to his mouth,
A blast then he merrily blows;
His yeomen did hear, and strait did appear,
A hundred with trusty long bows.
Now Little John came at the head of them all,65
Cloath'd in a rich mantle of green;
And likewise the rest were gloriously drest,
A delicate sight to be seen.
"Lo, these are my yeomen," said bold Robin Hood,
"And thou shalt be one of the train;70
A mantle and bow, and quiver also,
I give them whom I entertain."
The forester willingly enter'd the list,
They were such a beautiful sight;
Then with a long bow they shot a fat doe,75
And made a rich supper that night.
What singing and dancing was in the green wood,
For joy of another new mate!
With might and delight they spent all the night,
[Pg 211]And liv'd at a plentiful rate.80
The forester ne'er was so merry before,
As then he was with these brave souls,
Who never would fail, in wine, beer, or ale,
To take off their cherishing bowls.
Then Robin Hood gave him a mantle of green,85
Broad arrows, and curious long bow:
This done, the next day, so gallant and gay,
He marchèd them all on a row.
Quoth he, "My brave yeomen, be true to your trust,
And then we may range the woods wide:"90
They all did declare, and solemnly swear,
They would conquer, or die by his side.


Or, a merry combat fought between Robin Hood, Little John, and Will Scarelock, and three stout keepers in Sheerwood Forrest.

Robin was valiant and stout,
So was Scarelock and John in the field,
But these keepers stout did give them rout,
And make them all for to yield.
But after the battel ended was,
Bold Robin did make them amends,
For claret and sack they did not lack,
So drank themselves good friends.
[Pg 212]

To the tune of Robin Hood and Queen Katherine; or, Robin Hood and the Shepheard.

"From an old black-letter copy in the collection of Anthony à Wood." Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 120.

There's some will talk of lords and knights,
Doun, a doun, a doun,
And some of yeomen good,
But I will tell you of Will Scarlock,
Little John, and Robin Hood.
Doun, a doun, a doun, a doun.
They were outlaws, 'tis well known,5
And men of a noble blood;
And many a time was their valour shown
In the forrest of merry Sheerwood.
Upon a time it chanced so,
As Robin Hood would have it be,10
They all three would a walking go,
The pastime for to see.
And as they walked the forest along,
Upon a Midsummer day,
There was they aware of three keepèrs,15
Clad all in green aray.
With brave long faucheons by their sides,
And forrest-bills in hand,
They call'd aloud to those bold outlàws,
[Pg 213]And charged them to stand.20
"Why, who are you," cry'd bold Robìn,
"That speak so boldly here?"
"We three belong to King Henry,
And are keepers of his deer."
"The devil you are!" sayes Robin Hood,25
"I am sure that it is not so;
We be the keepers of this forrèst,
And that you soon shall know.
"Come, your coats of green lay on the ground,
And so will we all three,30
And take your swords and bucklers round,
And try the victory."
"We be content," the keepers said,
"We be three, and you no less,
Then why should we be of you afraid,35
As we never did transgress?"
"Why, if you be three keepers in this forrèst,
Then we be three rangers good,
And will make you know before you do go,
You meet with bold Robin Hood."40
"We be content, thou bold outlàw,
Our valour here to try,
And will make you know, before we do go,
We will fight before we will fly.[Pg 214]
"Then, come draw your swords, you bold outlàws,45
No longer stand to prate,
But let us try it out with blows,
For cowards we do hate.
"Here is one of us for Will Scarlock,
And another for Little John,50
And I myself for Robin Hood,
Because he is stout and strong."
So they fell to it hard and sore,
It was on a Midsummers day;
From eight of the clock till two and past,55
They all shewed gallant play.
There Robin, and Will, and Little John,
They fought most manfully,
Till all their winde was spent and gone,
Then Robin aloud did cry:60
"O hold, O hold," cries bold Robin,
"I see you be stout men;
Let me blow one blast on my bugle horn,
Then Ile fight with you again."
"That bargain's to make, bold Robin Hood,65
Therefore we it deny;
Thy blast upon the bugle horn
Cannot make us fight or fly.[Pg 215]
"Therefore fall on, or else be gone,
And yield to us the day:70
It never shall be said that we are afraid
Of thee, nor thy yeomen gay."
"If that be so," cries bold Robin,
"Let me but know your names,
And in the forrest of merry Sheerwood,75
I shall extol your fames."
"And with our names," one of them said,
"What hast thou here to do?
Except that thou wilt fight it out,
Our names thou shalt not know."80
"We will fight no more," sayes bold Robin,
"You be men of valour stout;
Come and go with me to Nottingham,
And there we will fight it out.
"With a but of sack we will bang it about,85
To see who wins the day;
And for the cost, make you no doubt
I have gold enough to pay.
"And ever hereafter, so long as we live,
We all will brethren be;90
For I love these men with heart and hand,
That will fight and never flee."[Pg 216]
So away they went to Nottingham,
With sack to make amends;
For three days they the wine did chase,95
And drank themselves good friends.


Being an account of their first meeting, their fierce encounter, and conquest. To which is added, their friendly agreement; and how he came to be called Little John. To the tune of Arthur a Bland.

From A Collection of Old Ballads, i. 75. The same in Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 142.

"This ballad is named in a schedule of such things under an agreement between W. Thackeray and others, in 1689 (Coll. Pepys, vol. v.)." Ritson.

When Robin Hood was about twenty years old,
With a hey down, down, and a down,
He happen'd to meet Little John,
A jolly brisk blade, right fit for the trade,
For he was a lusty young man.
Tho' he was call'd Little, his limbs they were large,5
And his stature was seven foot high;
Where-ever he came, they quak'd at his name,
For soon he would make them to fly.[Pg 217]
How they came acquainted, I'll tell you in brief,
If you will but listen awhile;10
For this very jest, amongst all the rest,
I think it may cause you to smile.
Bold Robin Hood said to his jolly bowmèn,
"Pray tarry you here in this grove;
And see that you all observe well my call,15
While thorough the forest I rove.
"We have had no sport for these fourteen long days,
Therefore now abroad will I go;
Now should I be beat, and cannot retreat,
My horn I will presently blow."20
Then did he shake hands with his merry men all,
And bid them at present good b'w'ye;
Then, as near a brook his journey he took,
A stranger he chanc'd to espy.
They happen'd to meet on a long narrow bridge,25
And neither of them would give way;
Quoth bold Robin Hood, and sturdily stood,
"I'll show you right Nottingham play."
With that from his quiver an arrow he drew,
A broad arrow with a goose-wing.30
The stranger reply'd, "I'll liquor thy hide,
If thou offer'st to touch the string."[Pg 218]
Quoth bold Robin Hood, "Thou dost prate like an ass,
For were I to bend but my bow,
I could send a dart quite thro' thy proud heart,35
Before thou couldst strike me one blow."
"Thou talk'st like a coward," the stranger reply'd;
"Well arm'd with a long bow you stand,
To shoot at my breast, while I, I protest,
Have nought but a staff in my hand."40
"The name of a coward," quoth Robin, "I scorn,
Wherefore my long bow I'll lay by;
And now, for thy sake, a staff will I take,
The truth of thy manhood to try."
Then Robin Hood stept to a thicket of trees,45
And chose him a staff of ground oak;
Now this being done, away he did run
To the stranger, and merrily spoke:
"Lo! see my staff, it is lusty and tough,
Now here on the bridge we will play;50
Whoever falls in, the other shall win
The battel, and so we'll away."
"With all my whole heart," the stranger reply'd;
"I scorn in the least to give out;"
This said, they fell to't without more dispute,55
And their staffs they did flourish about.[Pg 219]
And first Robin he gave the stranger a bang,
So hard that it made his bones ring:
The stranger he said, "This must be repaid,
I'll give you as good as you bring.60
"So long as I'm able to handle my staff
To die in your debt, friend, I scorn:"
Then to it each goes, and follow'd their blows,
As if they had been threshing of corn.
The stranger gave Robin a crack on the crown,65
Which caused the blood to appear;
Then Robin enrag'd, more fiercely engag'd,
And follow'd his blows more severe.
So thick and so fast did he lay it on him,
With a passionate fury and ire,70
At every stroke he made him to smoke,
As if he had been all on fire.
O then into fury the stranger he grew,
And gave him a damnable look,
And with it a blow that laid him full low,75
And tumbl'd him into the brook.
"I prithee, good fellow, O where art thou now?"
The stranger, in laughter, he cry'd.
Quoth bold Robin Hood, "Good faith, in the flood,
[Pg 220]And floating along with the tide.80
"I needs must acknowledge thou art a brave soul;
With thee I'll no longer contend;
For needs must I say, thou hast got the day,
Our battel shall be at an end."
Then unto the bank he did presently wade,85
And pull'd himself out by a thorn;
Which done, at the last, he blow'd a loud blast
Straitway on his fine bugle-horn:
The eccho of which through the vallies did fly,
At which his stout bowmen appear'd,90
All cloathed in green, most gay to be seen,
So up to their master they steer'd.
"O what's the matter?" quoth William Stutely;
"Good master, you are wet to the skin."
"No matter," quoth he; "the lad which you see95
In fighting hath tumbl'd me in."
"He shall not go scot-free," the others reply'd;
So strait they were seizing him there,
To duck him likewise; but Robin Hood cries,
"He is a stout fellow, forbear.100
"There's no one shall wrong thee, friend, be not afraid;
These bowmen upon me do wait;
There's threescore and nine; if thou wilt be mine,
Thou shalt have my livery strait:[Pg 221]
"And other accoutrements fit for a man;105
Speak up, jolly blade, never fear.
I'll teach you also the use of the bow,
To shoot at the fat fallow-deer."
"O here is my hand," the stranger reply'd,
"I'll serve you with all my whole heart;110
My name is John Little, a man of good mettle;
Ne'er doubt me, for I'll play my part."
"His name shall be alter'd," quoth William Stutely,
"And I will his godfather be;
Prepare then a feast, and none of the least,115
For we will be merry," quoth he.
They presently fetch'd in a brace of fat does,
With humming strong liquor likewise;
They lov'd what was good; so, in the green-wood,
This pretty sweet babe they baptize.120
He was, I must tell you, but seven foot high,
And, may be, an ell in the waste;
A pretty sweet lad; much feasting they had;
Bold Robin the christ'ning grac'd,
With all his bowmèn, which stood in a ring,125
And were of the Nottingham breed;
Brave Stutely comes then, with seven yeomèn,
And did in this manner proceed.[Pg 222]
"This infant was called John Little," quoth he;
"Which name shall be changed anon;130
The words we'll transpose, so whereever he goes,
His name shall be call'd Little John."
They all with a shout made the elements ring,
So soon as the office was o'er;
To feasting they went, with true merriment,135
And tippl'd strong liquor gillore.
Then Robin he took the pretty sweet babe,
And cloath'd him from top to the toe
In garments of green, most gay to be seen,
And gave him a curious long bow.140
"Thou shalt be an archer as well as the best,
And range in the green-wood with us;
"Where we'll not want gold nor silver, behold,
While bishops have ought in their purse.
"We live here like 'squires, or lords of renown,145
Without e'er a foot of free land;
We feast on good cheer, with wine, ale, and beer,
And ev'ry thing at our command."
Then music and dancing did finish the day;
At length, when the sun waxed low,150
Then all the whole train the grove did refrain,
And unto their caves they did go.[Pg 223]
And so ever after, as long as he liv'd,
Altho' he was proper and tall,
Yet, nevertheless, the truth to express,155
Still Little John they did him call.



A merry and pleasant song relating the gallant and fierce combat fought between Arthur Bland, a tanner of Nottingham, and Robin Hood, the greatest and most noblest archer of England. Tune is, Robin Hood and the Stranger.

Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 33, from an old black-letter copy in the collection of Anthony à Wood.

There is a copy with a few unimportant variations in A Collection of Old Ballads, i. 83, from which a single reading has been admitted.

In Nottingham there lives a jolly tannèr,
With a hey down, down, a down, down,
His name is Arthur-a-Bland;
There is nere a squire in Nottinghamshire,
Dare bid bold Arthur stand.
With a long pike-staff upon his shouldèr,5
So well he can clear his way;[Pg 224]
By two and by three he makes them to flee,
For he hath no list to stay.
And as he went forth, in a summers morning,
Into the forrest of merry Sherwood,10
To view the red deer, that range here and there,
There met he with bold Robin Hood.
As soon as bold Robin he did espy,
He thought some sport he would make,
Therefore out of hand he bid him to stand,15
And thus to him he spake:
"Why, what art thou, thou bold fellow,
That ranges so boldly here?
In sooth, to be brief, thou lookst like a thief,
That comes to steal our kings deer.20
"For I am keeper in this forrest;
The king puts me in trust
To look to his deer, that range here and there;
Therefore stay thee I must."
"If thou beest a keeper in this forrest,25
And hast such a great command,
Yet thou must have more partakers in store,
Before thou make me to stand."
"Nay, I have no more partakers in store,
[Pg 225]Or any that I do not need;30
But I have a staff of another oke graff,
I know it will do the deed.
"For thy sword and thy bow I care not a straw,
Nor all thine arrows to boot;
If thou get'st a knop upon the bare scop,35
Thou canst as well sh—e as shoote."
"Speak cleanly, good fellow," said jolly Robin,
"And give better terms to me;
Else Ile thee correct for thy neglect,
And make thee more mannerly.40
"Marry gep with a wenion!" quod Arthur-a-Bland,
"Art thou such a goodly man?
I care not a fig for thy looking so big;
Mend thou thyself where thou can."
Then Robin Hood he unbuckled his belt,45
And laid down his bow so long;
He took up a staff of another oke graff,
That was both stiff and strong.
"I'le yield to thy weapon," said jolly Robin,
"Since thou wilt not yield to mine;50
For I have a staff of another oke graff,
Not half a foot longer then thine.[Pg 226]
"But let me measure," said jolly Robin,
"Before we begin our fray;
For I'le not have mine to be longer than thine,55
For that will be counted foul play."
"I pass not for length," bold Arthur reply'd,
"My staff is of oke so free;
Eight foot and a half, it will knock down a calf,
And I hope it will knock down thee."60
Then Robin could no longer forbear;
He gave him such a knock,
Quickly and soon the blood came down,
Before it was ten a clock.
Then Arthur he soon recovered himself,65
And gave him such a knock on the crown,
That from every side of bold Robin Hoods head,
The blood came trickling down.
Then Robin raged like a wild boar,
As soon as he saw his own blood;70
Then Bland was in hast, he laid on so fast,
As though he had been cleaving of wood.
And about, and about, and about they went,
Like two wild bores in a chase;
Striving to aim each other to maim,75
Leg, arm, or any other place.[Pg 227]
And knock for knock they lustily dealt,
Which held for two hours and more;
That all the wood rang at every bang,
They ply'd their work so sore.80
"Hold thy hand, hold thy hand," said Robin Hood,
"And let thy quarrel fall;
For here we may thrash our bones all to mesh,
And get no coyn at all.
"And in the forrest of merry Sherwood85
Hereafter thou shalt be free:"
"God-a-mercy for nought, my freedom I bought;
I may thank my staff, and not thee."
"What tradesman art thou?" said jolly Robìn,
"Good fellow, I prethee me show:90
And also me tell in what place thou dost dwell,
For both of these fain would I know."
"I am a tanner," bold Arthur reply'd,
"In Nottingham long have I wrought;
And if thou'lt come there, I vow and swear,95
I will tan thy hide for nought."
"God-a-mercy, good fellow," said jolly Robin,
"Since thou art so kind and free;[Pg 228]
And if thou wilt tan my hide for nought,
I will do as much for thee.100
"And if thou'lt forsake thy tanners trade,
And live in the green wood with me,
My name's Robin Hood, I swear by the rood,
I will give thee both gold and fee."
"If thou be Robin Hood," bold Arthur reply'd,105
"As I think well thou art,
Then here's my hand, my name's Arthur-a-Bland,
We two will never depart.
"But tell me, O tell me, where is Little John?
Of him fain would I hear;110
For we are alide by the mothers side,
And he is my kinsman dear."
Then Robin Hood blew on the beaugle horn,
He blew full lowd and shrill,
And quickly anon appear'd Little John,115
Come tripping down a green hill.
"O what is the matter?" then said Little John,
"Master, I pray you tell;
"Why do you stand with your staff in your hand?
[Pg 229]I fear all is not well."120
"O man I do stand, and he makes me stand,
The tanner that stands thee beside;
He is a bonny blade, and master of his trade,
For soundly he hath tan'd my hide."
"He is to be commended," then said Little John,
"If such a feat he can do;125
If he be so stout, we will have a bout,
And he shall tan my hide too."
"Hold thy hand, hold thy hand," said Robin Hood,
"For as I do understand,130
He's a yeoman good of thine own blood,
For his name is Arthur-a-Bland."
Then Little John threw his staff away,
As far as he could it fling,
And ran out of hand to Arthur-a-Bland,135
And about his neck did cling.
With loving respect, there was no neglect,
They were neither nice nor coy,
Each other did face with a lovely grace,
And both did weep for joy.140
Then Robin Hood took them both by the hands,
And danc'd round about the oke tree;
"For three merry men, and three merry men,
And three merry men we be.[Pg 230]
"And ever hereafter as long as we live,145
We three will be as one;
The wood it shall ring, and the old wife sing,
Of Robin Hood, Arthur, and John.

13, did him.

35. I get. Ritson.


Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 41.

From an old black-letter copy in the library of Anthony à Wood. The full title is,

A new song to drive away cold winter, Between Robin Hood and the jovial tinker:

How Robin by a wile
The Tinker he did cheat;
But at the length, as you shall hear,
The Tinker did him beat,
Whereby the same they did then so agree,
They after liv'd in love and unity.

To the tune of, In Summer time.

In summer time, when leaves grow green,
Down, a down, a down,
And birds singing on every tree,
Hey down, a down, a down,
Robin Hood went to Nottingham,
Down, a down, a down,
As fast as hee could dree.
Hey down, a down, a down.[Pg 231]
And as hee came to Nottingham,5
A tinker he did meet,
And seeing him a lusty blade,
He did him kindly greet.
"Where dost thou live?" quoth Robin Hood,
"I pray thee now mee tell:10
Sad news I hear there is abroad,
I fear all is not well."
"What is that news?" the tinker said;
"Tell mee without delay;
I am a tinker by my trade,15
And do live in Banburà."
"As for the news," quoth Robin Hood,
"It is but as I hear,
Two tinkers were set i'th' stocks,
For drinking ale and beer."20
"If that be all," the tinker said,
"As I may say to you,
Your news is not worth a f—t,
Since that they all bee true.
"For drinking of good ale and beer,25
You will not lose your part:"
"No, by my faith," quoth Robin Hood,
"I love it with all my heart.[Pg 232]
"What news abroad?" quoth Robin Hood,
"Tell me what thou dost hear:30
Seeing thou goest from town to town,
Some news thou need not fear."
"All the news I have," the tinker said,
"I hear it is for good,
It is to seek a bold outlàw,35
Which they call Robin Hood.
"I have a warrant from the king,
To take him where I can;
If you can tell me where hee is,
I will make you a man.40
"The king would give a hundred pound
That he could but him see;
And if wee can but now him get,
It will serve thee and mee."
"Let me see that warrant," said Robin Hood,45
"Ile see if it bee right;
And I will do the best I can
For to take him this night.
"That will I not," the tinker said,
"None with it I will trust;50
And where hee is if you'll not tell,
Take him by force I must."[Pg 233]
But Robin Hood perceiving well
How then the game would go,
"If you would go to Nottingham,55
We shall find him I know."
The tinker had a crab-tree staff,
Which was both good and strong;
Robin hee had a good strong blade,
So they went both along.60
And when they came to Nottingham,
There they both tooke their inn;
And there they called for ale and wine,
To drink it was no sin.
But ale and wine they drank so fast,65
That the tinker hee forgot
What thing he was about to do;
It fell so to his lot,
That while the tinker fell asleep,
Robin made then haste away,70
And left the tinker in the lurch,
For the great shot to pay.
But when the tinker wakenèd,
And saw that he was gone,
He call'd then even for his host,75
And thus he made his moan:[Pg 234]
"I had a warrant from the king.
Which might have done me good,
That is to take a bold outlaw,
Some call him Robin Hood.80
"But now my warrant and mony's gone,
Nothing I have to pay;
But he that promis'd to be my friend,
He is gone and fled away."
"That friend you tell on," said the host,85
"They call him Robin Hood;
And when that first hee met with you,
He ment you little good."
"Had I but known it had been hee,
"When that I had him here,90
Th' one of us should have tri'd our might
Which should have paid full dear.
"In the mean time I will away,
No longer here Ile bide,
But I will go and seek him out,95
Whatever do me betide.
"But one thing I would gladly know,
What here I have to pay;"
"Ten shillings just," then said the host;
[Pg 235]"Ile pay without delay;100
"Or elce take here my working-bag,
And my good hammer too;
And if that I light but on the knave.
I will then soon pay you."
"The onely way," then said the host,105
"And not to stand in fear,
Is to seek him among the parks,
Killing of the kings deer."
The tinker hee then went with speed,
And made then no delay,110
Till he had found bold Robin Hood,
That they might have a fray.
At last hee spy'd him in a park,
Hunting then of the deer;
"What knave is that," quoth Robin Hood,115
"That doth come mee so near?"
"No knave, no knave," the tinker said,
"And that you soon shall know;
"Whether of us hath done any wrong,
My crab-tree staff shall show."120
Then Robin drew his gallant blade,
Made then of trusty steel;
But the tinker he laid on so fast,
That he made Robin reel.[Pg 236]
Then Robins anger did arise;125
He fought right manfully,
Until he had made the tinkèr
Almost then fit to fly.
With that they had a bout again,
They ply'd their weapons fast;130
The tinker threshed his bones so sore,
He made him yeeld at last.
"A boon, a boon," Robin hee cryes,
"If thou will grant it mee;"
"Before I do it," the tinker said,135
"Ile hang thee on this tree."
But the tinker looking him about,
Robin his horn did blow;
Then came unto him Little John,
And William Scadlock too.140
"What is the matter," quoth Little John,
"You sit on th' highway side?"
"Here is a tinker that stands by,
That hath paid well my hide."
"That tinker then," said Little John,145
"Fain that blade I would see,
And I would try what I could do,
If hee'l do as much for me."[Pg 237]
But Robin hee then wish'd them both
They should the quarrel cease,150
"That henceforth wee may bee as one,
And ever live in peace.
"And for the jovial tinkers part,
A hundred pounds Ile give
In th' year to maintain him on,155
As long as he doth live.
"In manhood he is a mettled man,
And a mettle-man by trade;
Never thought I that any man
Should have made mee so afraid.160
"And if hee will bee one of us,
"We will take all one fare;
And whatsoever wee do get,
He shall have his full share."
So the tinker was content165
With them to go along,
And with them a part to take:
And so I end my song.
[Pg 238]


Shewing how Robin Hood, Little John, and the Shepherd fought a sore combate.

The shepherd fought for twenty pound, and Robin for bottle and bag,
But the shepherd stout gave them the rout, so sore they could not wag.

Tune is, Robin Hood and Queen Katherine.

"From two old black-letter copies, one of them in the collection of Anthony à Wood, the other in that of Thomas Pearson, Esq.," [now in the British Museum.] Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 55.

The same story, with verbal coincidences, serves for the first part of King Alfred and the Shepherd.

All gentlemen and yeomen good,
Down, a down, a down, a down,
I wish you to draw near;
For a story of gallant bold Robin Hood
Unto you I will declare.
Down, &c.
As Robin Hood walkt the forrest along,5
Some pastime for to spie,
There he was aware of a jolly shephèrd,
That on the ground did lie.
"Arise, arise," cried jolly Robin,
[Pg 239]"And now come let me see10
What's in thy bag and bottle, I say,
Come tell it unto me."
"What's that to thee, thou proud fellòw?
Tell me as I do stand;
What hast thou to do with my bag and bottle?15
Let me see thy command."
"My sword, which hangeth by my side,
Is my command I know;
Come, and let me taste of thy bottle,
Or it may breed thy woe."20
"The devil a drop, thou proud fellòw,
Of my bottle thou shalt see,
Until thy valour here be tried,
Whether thou wilt fight or flee."
"What shall we fight for?" cries Robin Hood,25
"Come tell it unto me;
Here is twenty pound in good red gold,
Win it, and take it thee."
The shepherd stood all in a maze,
And knew not what to say;30
"I have no money, thou proud fellow,
But bag and bottle I'le lay."
"I am content, thou shepherd swain,
Fling them down on the ground;[Pg 240]
But it will breed thee mickle pain,35
To win my twenty pound."
"Come draw thy sword, thou proud fellow,
Thou standest too long to prate;
This hook of mine shall let thee know,
A coward I do hate."40
So they fell to it, full hard and sore;
It was on a summers day;
From ten till four in the afternoon
The shepherd held him play.
Robin's buckler proved his chiefest defence,45
And saved him many a bang,
For every blow the shepherd gave
Made Robins sword cry twang.
Many a sturdie blow the shepherd gave,
And that bold Robin found,50
Till the blood ran trickling from his head,
Then he fell to the ground.
"Arise, arise, thou proud fellow,
And thou shalt have fair play,
If thou wilt yield, before thou go,55
That I have won the day."
"A boon, a boon," cry'd bold Robin,
"If that a man thou be,[Pg 241]
Then let me take my beugle horn,
And blow out blasts three."60
Then said the shepherd to bold Robin,
"To that will I agree;
For if thou shouldst blow till to-morrow morn,
I scorn one foot to flee."
Then Robin he set his horn to his mouth,65
And he blew with mickle main,
Until he espied Little John
Come tripping over the plain.
"O who is yonder, thou proud fellow,
That comes down yonder hill?"70
"Yonder is John, bold Robin Hoods man,
Shall fight with thee thy fill."
"What is the matter?" saies Little John,
"Master, come tell unto me:"
"My case is bad," cries Robin Hood,75
"For the shepherd hath conquered me."
"I am glad of that," cries Little John,
"Shepherd turn thou to me;
For a bout with thee I mean to have,
Either come fight or flee."80
"With all my heart, thou proud fellòw,
For it never shall be said[Pg 242]
That a shepherds hook at thy sturdy look
Will one jot be dismaied."
So they fell to it, full hardy and sore,85
Striving for victorie;
"I will know," says John, "ere we give o'er,
Whether thou wilt fight or flee."
The shepherd gave John a sturdie blow,
With his hook under the chin;90
"Beshrew thy heart," said Little John,
"Thou basely dost begin."
"Nay, that is nothing," said the shepherd;
"Either yield to me the daie,
Or I will bang thy back and sides,95
Before thou goest thy way.
"What, dost thou think, thou proud fellow,
That thou canst conquer me?
Nay, thou shalt know, before thou go,
I'll fight before I'le flee."100
Again the shepherd laid on him,
'Just as he first begun;'
"Hold thy hand," cry'd bold Robin,
"I will yield the wager won."
"With all my heart," said Little John,105
"To that I will agree;[Pg 243]
For he is the flower of shepherd swains,
The like I did never see."
Thus have you heard of Robin Hood,
Also of Little John,110
How a shepherd swain did conquer them;
The like was never known.


Communicated to Gutch by Mr. Payne Collier, and first published in Gutch's Robin Hood, ii. 351.

Will you heare a tale of Robin Hood,
Will Scarlett, and Little John?
Now listen awhile, it will make you smile,
As before it hath many a one.
They were archers three, of hie degree,5
As good as ever drewe bowe;
Their arrowes were long and their armes were strong,
As most had cause to knowe.
But one sommers day, as they toke their way
Through the forrest of greene Sherwood,10
To kill the kings deare, you shall presently heare
What befell these archers good.[Pg 244]
They were ware on the roade of three peddlers with loade,
For each one had his packe,
Full of all wares for countrie faires,15
Trust up upon his backe.
A good oke staffe, a yard and a halfe,
Each one had in his hande;
And they were all boune to Nottingham toune,
As you shall understand.20
"Yonder I see bolde peddlers three,"
Said Robin to Scarlett and John;
"Wele search their packes upon their backes
Before that they be gone.
"Holla, good fellowes!" quod Robin Hood,25
"Whether is it ye doe goe?
Now stay and rest, for that is the best,
'Tis well you should doe so."
"Noe rest we neede, on our roade we speede,
Till to Nottingham we get:"30
"Thou tellst a lowde lye," said Robin, "for I
Can see that ye swinke and swet."
The peddlers three crosst over the lee,
They did not list to fight:
"I charge ye tarrie," quod Robin, "for marry,35
This is my owne land by right.[Pg 245]
"This is my mannor and this is my parke,
I would have ye for to knowe;
Ye are bolde outlawes, I see by cause
Ye are so prest to goe.40
The peddlers three turned round to see,
Who it might be they herd;
Then again went on as they list to be gone,
And never answered word.
Then tooke Robin Hood an arrow so good,45
Which he did never lacke,
And drewe his bowe, and the swift arrowe
Went through the last peddlers packe.
For him it was well on the packe it fell,
Or his life had found an end;50
And it pierct the skin of his backe within,
Though the packe did stand his friend.
Then downe they flung their packes each one,
And stayde till Robin came.
Quod Robin, "I saide ye had better stayde;55
Good sooth, ye were to blame."
"And who art thou? by S. Crispin, I vowe,
Ile quickly cracke thy head!"
Cried Robin, "Come on, all three, or one;
[Pg 246]It is not so soone done as said.60
"My name, by the roode, is Robin Hood,
And this is Scarlett and John;
It is three to three, ye may plainelie see,
Soe now, brave fellowes, laye on."
The first peddlers blowe brake Robins bowe,65
That he had in his hand;
And Scarlett and John, they eche had one
That they unneath could stand.
"Now holde your handes," cried Robin Hood,
"For ye have oken staves;70
But tarie till wee can get but three,
And a fig for all your braves."
Of the peddlers the first, his name Kit o Thirske,
Said, "We are well content;"
So eche tooke a stake for his weapon, to make75
The peddlers to repent.
Soe to it they fell, and their blowes did ring well
Uppon the others backes;
And gave the peddlers cause to wish
They had not cast their packes.80
Yet the peddlers three of their blowes were so free,
That Robin began for to rue;
And Scarlett, and John, had such loade laide on,
It made the sunne looke blue.[Pg 247]
At last Kits oke caught Robin a stroke,85
That made his head to sound;
He staggerd, and reelde, till he fell on the fielde,
And the trees with him went round.
"Now holde your handes," cried Little John,
And soe said Scarlett eke;90
"Our maister is slaine, I tell you plaine,
He never more will speake."
"Now, heaven forefend he come to that end,"
Said Kit, "I love him well;
But let him learne to be wise in turne,95
And not with poore peddlers mell.
"In my packe, God wot, I a balsame have got,
That soone his hurts will heale;"
And into Robin Hoods gaping mouth
He presentlie powrde some deale.100
"Now fare ye well, tis best not to tell,
How ye three peddlers met;
Or if that ye doe, prithee tell alsoe,
How they made ye swinke and swett."
Poor Robin in sound they left on the ground,105
And hied them to Nottingham,
Whilst Scarlett and John, Robin tended on,
Till at length his senses came.[Pg 248]
No sooner, in haste, did Robin Hood taste
The balsame he had tane,110
Then he gan to spewe, and up he threwe
The balsame all againe.
And Scarlett, and John, who were looking on
Their master as he did lie,
Had their faces besmeared, both eies and beard,115
Therewith most piteouslie.
Thus ended that fray; soe beware alwaye
How ye doe challenge foes;
Looke well aboute they are not to stoute,
Or you may have worst of the blowes.120


From Dixon's "Ancient Poems, Ballads, and Songs of the Peasantry of England," Percy Society, vol. xvii. p. 71.—"An aged female in Bermondsey, Surrey, from whose oral recitation the editor took down the present version, informed him, that she had often heard her grandmother sing it, and that it was never in print; but he has of late met with several common stall copies."

There chanced to be a pedlar bold,
A pedlar bold he chanced to be,[Pg 249]
He rolled his pack all on his back,
And he came tripping o'er the lee.
Down, a down, a down, a down,
Down, a down, a down.
By chance he met two troublesome blades,5
Two troublesome blades they chanced to be;
The one of them was bold Robin Hood,
And the other was Little John so free.
"Oh! pedlar, pedlar, what is in thy pack,
Come speedilie and tell to me?"10
"I've several suits of the gay green silks,
And silken bow-strings two or three."
"If you have several suits of the gay green silk,
And silken bow-strings two or three,
Then it's by my body," cries Little John,15
"One half your pack shall belong to me."
"O nay, o nay," says the pedlar bold,
"O nay, o nay, that never can be;
For there's never a man from fair Nottingham
Can take one half my pack from me."20
Then the pedlar he pulled off his pack,
And put it a little below his knee,
Saying, "If you do move me one perch from this,
My pack and all shall gang with thee."[Pg 250]
Then Little John he drew his sword;25
The pedlar by his pack did stand;
They fought until they both did sweat,
Till he cried, "Pedlar, pray hold your hand."
Then Robin Hood he was standing by,
And he did laugh most heartilie;30
Saying, "I could find a man of a smaller scale,
Could thrash the pedlar and also thee."
"Go you try, master," says Little John,
"Go you try, master, most speedilie,
Or by my body," says Little John,35
"I am sure this night you will not know me."
Then Robin Hood he drew his sword,
And the pedlar by his pack did stand,
They fought till the blood in streams did flow,
Till he cried, "Pedlar, pray hold your hand!40
"Pedlar, pedlar, what is thy name?
Come speedilie and tell to me:"
"My name! my name I ne'er will tell,
Till both your names you have told to me."
"The one of us is bold Robin Hood,45
And the other Little John so free:"
"Now," says the pedlar, "it lays to my good will,
Whether my name I chuse to tell to thee.[Pg 251]
"I am Gamble Gold of the gay green woods,
And travelled far beyond the sea;50
For killing a man in my father's land,
rom my country I was forced to flee."
"If you are Gamble Gold of the gay green woods,
And travelled far beyond the sea,
You are my mother's own sister's son;55
What nearer cousins then can we be?"
They sheathed their swords with friendly words,
So merrilie they did agree,
They went to a tavern and there they dined,
And bottles cracked most merrilie.60


Shewing how Robin Hood and the Beggar fought, and how he changed cloaths with the Beggar, and how he went a begging to Nottingham: and how he saved three brethren from being hang'd for stealing of deer. To the tune of Robin Hood and the Stranger.

"From an old black-letter copy in the collection of Anthony à Wood." Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 126.

The three pieces which follow are all different versions of what is called the Second Part of this ballad.[Pg 252]

Come and listen, you gentlemen all,
Hey down, down, an a down,
That mirth do love for to hear,
And a story true Ile tell unto you,
If that you will but draw near.
In elder times, when merriment was,5
And archery was holden good,
There was an outlaw, as many do know
Which men called Robin Hood.
Upon a time it chanced so
Bold Robin was merry disposed,10
His time to spend he did intend,
Either with friend or foes.
Then he got upon a gallant brave steed,
The which was worth angels ten,
With a mantle of green, most brave to be seen,15
He left all his merry men.
And riding towards Nottingham,
Some pastime for to 'spy,
There was he aware of a jolly beggàr,
As ere he beheld with his eye.20
An old patcht coat the beggar had on,
Which he daily did use to wear;
And many a bag about him did wag,
Which made Robin to him repair.[Pg 253]
"God speed, God speed," said Robin Hood,25
"What countryman? tell to me:"
"I am Yorkshire, sir; but, ere you go far,
Some charity give unto me."
"Why, what wouldst thou have?" said Robin Hood,
"I pray thee tell unto me:"30
"No lands nor livings," the beggar he said,
"But a penny for charitie."
"I have no money," said Robin Hood then,
"But [am] a ranger within the wood;
I am an outlaw, as many do know,35
My name it is Robin Hood.
"But yet I must tell thee, bonny beggàr,
That a bout with [thee] I must try;
Thy coat of gray, lay down I say,
And my mantle of green shall lye by."40
"Content, content," the beggar he cry'd,
"Thy part it will be the worse;
For I hope this bout to give thee the rout,
And then have at thy purse."
So the beggar he had a mickle long staffe,45
And Robin had a nut-brown sword;[Pg 254]
So the beggar drew nigh, and at Robin let fly,
But gave him never a word.
"Fight on, fight on," said Robin Hood then,
"This game well pleaseth me;"50
For every blow that Robin gave,
The beggar gave buffets three.
And fighting there full hard and sore,
Not far from Nottingham town,
They never fled, till from Robin Hoods head55
The blood came trickling down.
"O hold thy hand," said Robin Hood then,
"And thou and I will agree;"
"If that be true," the beggar he said,
"Thy mantle come give unto me."60
"Now a change, a change," cri'd Robin Hood,
"Thy bags and coat give me;
And this mantle of mine Ile to thee resign,
My horse and my braverie."
When Robin Hood had got the beggars clothes,65
He lookèd round about;
"Methinks," said he, "I seem to be
A beggar brave and stout.
"For now I have a bag for my bread,
[Pg 255]So have I another for corn;70
I have one for salt, and another for malt,
And one for my little horn.
"And now I will a begging goe,
Some charitie for to find:"
And if any more of Robin you'll know,75
In the second part 'tis behind.

24. Robin Hood.

46, he had.


Now Robin he is to Nottingham bound,
With his bag hanging down to his knee,
His staff, and his coat, scarce worth a groat,
Yet merrilie passed he.80
As Robin he passed the streets along,
He heard a pittiful cry;
Three brethren dear, as he did hear,
Condemned were to dye.
Then Robin he highed to the sheriffs,85
Some reliefe for to seek;
He skipt, and leapt, and capered full high,
As he went along the street.
But when to the sheriffs doore he came,
There a gentleman fine and brave,90
"Thou beggar," said he, "come tell unto me
What it is thou wouldest have."[Pg 256]
"No meat, nor drink," said Robin Hood then,
"That I come here to crave;
But to get the lives of yeomen three,95
And that I fain would have."
"That cannot be, thou bold beggàr,
Their fact it is so cleer;
I tell to thee, they hanged must be,
For stealing of our kings deer."100
But when to the gallows they did come,
There was many a weeping eye:
"O hold your peace," said Robin Hood then,
"For certainly they shall not dye."
Then Robin he set his horn to his mouth,105
And he blew out blastès three,
Till a hundred bold archers brave
Came kneeling down to his knee.
"What is your will, mastèr?" they said,
"We are here at your command:"110
"Shoot east, shoot west," said Robin Hood then,
"And see you spare no man."
Then they shot east, then they shot west,
Their arrows were so keen,
The sheriffe he, and his companie,115
No longer could be seen.[Pg 257]
Then he stept to those brethren three,
And away he has them tane;
The sheriffe was crost, and many a man lost,
That dead lay on the plain.120
And away they went into the merry green wood,
And sung with a merry glee;
Then Robin Hood took those brethren good
To be of his yeomandrie.



From Jamieson's Popular Ballads, ii. 49, where it was printed "verbatim et literatim" from the Percy Manuscript.

This is the same story with the two ballads which follow and the Second Part of the preceding.

* * * * * * *
In faith, thou shalt have mine,
And 20s. in thy purse,
To spend at ale and wine."
"Though your clothes are of light Lincolne green,
[Pg 258]And mine gray russet, and torne,5
Yet it doth not you beseme
To doe an old man scorne."
"I scorne thee not, old man," says Robin,
"By the faith of my body;
Doe of thy clothes, thou shalt have mine,10
For it may noe better be."
But Robin did on the old mans hose,
The were torn in the wrist;
"When I looke on my leggs," said Robin,
"Then for to laugh I list."15
But Robin did on the old mans shoes,
And the were chitt full cleane;
"Now by my faith," says Little John,
"These are good for thornes keene."
But Robin did on the old mans cloake,20
And it was torne in the necke;
"Now by my faith," said William Scarlett,
"Heere shold be set a specke."
But Robin did on the old mans hood,
Itt goggled on his crowne;25
"When I come into Nottingham," said Robin,
"My hood it will lightly downe.[Pg 259]
"But yonder is an outwood," said Robin,
"An outwood all and a shade,
And thither I reede you, my merrymen all,30
The ready way to take.
"And when you heare my little horne blow,
Come raking all on a rowte,
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
* * horne to his mouth,
A loud blast cold he blow,35
Full three hundred bold yeomen
Came raking all on a row.
But Robin cast downe his baggs of bread,
Soe did he his staffe with a face,
And in a doublet of red velvett40
This yeoman stood in his place.
But Robin he lope, and Robin he threw,
He lope over stocke and stone,
But those that saw Robin Hood run
Said he was a liver old man.45
"But bend your bowes, and stroke your strings,
Set the gallow tree aboute,
And Christes curse on his head," said Robin,
"That spares the sheriff and the sergeant.[Pg 260]
When the sheriffe see gentle Robin wold shoote,50
He held up both his hands,
Says, "Aske, good Robin, and thou shalt have,
Whether it be house or land."
"I will neither have house nor land," said Robin,
"Nor gold, nor none of thy fee,55
But I will have those 3 squires,
To greene forest with mee."
"Now marry, gods forbott," said the sheriffe,
"That ever that shold be,
Ffor why, they be the kings felons;60
They are all condemned to dye."
"But grant me my askynge," said Robin,
"Or by the faith of my body,
Thou shalt be the first man
Shall flower this gallow tree."65
But I will * * 3 squires
* * * * * *

cetera desunt.

8. By proposing, that is, to make an exchange of clothes, the bargain being so much to the advantage of the old man. Jamieson.

27, i.e. I shall easily bare my head, in reverence to the sheriff, &c.

33. Nine or ten stanzas wanting. J.

49. For "the sergeant" read "his rowte." J.

63, by me.

[Pg 261]


Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 155.

"This ballad," says Ritson, "from the York edition of Robin Hood's Garland,[29] is probably one of the oldest extant of which he is the subject. The circumstance of Robin's changing clothes with the palmer, is, possibly, taken from an old romance, entitled The noble hystory of the moost excellent and myghty prynce and hygh renowmed knyght kynge Ponthus of Galyce and of lytell Brytayne. Emprynted at London in Fletestrete, at the sygne of the sonne, by Wynken de Worde. In the yere of our lorde god 1511, 4to. bl. sig, L 6. 'And as he (Ponthus) rode, he met with a poore palmer, beggynge his brede, the whiche had his gowne all to-clouted and an olde pylled hatte: so he alyght, and sayd to the palmer, frende, we shall make a chaunge of all our garmentes, for ye shall have my gowne and I shall have yours and your hatte. A, syr, sayd the palmer, ye bourde you with me. In good fayth, sayd Ponthus, I do not; so he dyspoyled hym and cladde hym with all his rayment,[Pg 262] and he put upon hym the poore mannes gowne, his gyrdell, his hosyn, his shone, his hatte and his bourden.'"

"There is an allusion to this ballad," adds Gutch, "in Anthony Munday's play of The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntington. Collier's Old Plays, p. 41."

Another version of this piece is immediately subjoined.

[29] The earliest known edition of Robin Hood's Garland was formerly in the possession of Mr. Douce, and is now among the books bequeathed by him to the Bodleian Library. It is dated 1670, and contains sixteen ballads. In the later Garlands this number is increased to twenty four, and to twenty seven.

There are twelve months in all the year,
As I hear many say,
But the merriest month in all the year
Is the merry month of May.
Now Robin Hood is to Nottingham gone,5
With a link a down and a day,
And there he met a silly old woman,
Was weeping on the way.
"What news? what news, thou silly old woman?
What news hast thou for me?"10
Said she, "There's three squires in Nottingham town,
To-day is condemned to die."
"O have they parishes burnt?" he said,
"Or have they ministers slain?
Or have they robbèd any virgin,15
Or with other men's wives have lain?"
"They have no parishes burnt, good sir,
Nor yet have ministers slain,[Pg 263]
Nor have they robbèd any virgin,
Nor with other men's wives have lain."20
"O what have they done?" said Robin Hood,
"I pray thee tell to me:"
"It's for slaying of the king's fallow deer,
Bearing their long bows with thee."
"Dost thou not mind, old woman," he said,25
"Since thou made me sup and dine?
By the truth of my body," quoth bold Robin Hood,
"You could not tell it in better time."
Now Robin Hood is to Nottingham gone,
With a link a down and a day,30
And there he met with a silly old palmer,
Was walking along the highway.
"What news? what news, thou silly old man?
What news, I do thee pray?"
Said he, "Three squires in Nottingham town35
Are condemn'd to die this day."
"Come change thy apparel with me, old man,
Come change thy apparel for mine;
Here is forty shillings in good silvèr,
[Pg 264]Go drink it in beer or wine."40
"O thine apparel is good," he said,
"And mine is ragged and torn;
"Wherever you go, wherever you ride,
Laugh ne'er an old man to scorn."
"Come change thy apparel with me, old churl,45
Come change thy apparel with mine;
Here are twenty pieces of good broad gold,
Go feast thy brethren with wine."
Then he put on the old man's hat,
It stood full high on the crown:50
"The first bold bargain that I come at,
It shall make thee come down."
Then he put on the old man's cloak,
Was patch'd black, blew, and red;
He thought it no shame all the day long55
To wear the bags of bread.
Then he put on the old man's breeks,
Was patch'd from ballup to side:
"By the truth of my body," bold Robin can say,
"This man lov'd little pride,"60
Then he put on the old man's hose,
Were patch'd from knee to wrist:
"By the truth of my body," said bold Robin Hood,
"I'd laugh if I had any list."[Pg 265]
Then he put on the old man's shoes,65
Were patch'd both beneath and aboon;
Then Robin Hood swore a solemn oath,
It's good habit that makes a man.
Now Robin Hood is to Nottingham gone,
With a link a down and a down,70
And there he met with the proud sheriff,
Was walking along the town.
"O Christ you save, O sheriff," he said,
"O Christ you save and see;
And what will you give to a silly old man75
To-day will your hangman be?"
"Some suits, some suits," the sheriff he said,
"Some suits I'll give to thee:
Some suits, some suits, and pence thirteen,
To-day's a hangman's fee."80
Then Robin he turns him round about,
And jumps from stock to stone:
"By the truth of my body," the sheriff he said,
"That's well jumpt, thou nimble old man."
"I was ne'er a hangman in all my life,85
Nor yet intends to trade;
But curst be he," said bold Robìn,
"That first a hangman was made.[Pg 266]
"I've a bag for meal, and a bag for malt,
And a bag for barley and corn;90
A bag for bread, and a bag for beef,
And a bag for my little small horn.
"I have a horn in my pockèt,
I got it from Robin Hood,
And still when I set it to my mouth,95
For thee it blows little good."
"O wind thy horn, thou proud fellòw,
Of thee I have no doubt:
I wish that thou give such a blast
Till both thy eyes fall out."100
The first loud blast that he did blow,
He blew both loud and shrill;
A hundred and fifty of Robin Hood's men
Came riding over the hill.
The next loud blast that he did give,105
He blew both loud and amain,
And quickly sixty of Robin Hood's men
Came shining over the plain.
"O who are those," the sheriff he said,
"Come tripping over the lee?"110
"They're my attendants," brave Robin did say,
"They'll pay a visit to thee."[Pg 267]
They took the gallows from the slack,
They set it in the glen,
They hang'd the proud sheriff on that,115
Releas'd their own three men.

30, and a down a.

73, 74. Oh save, oh save, oh sheriff, he said, Oh save and you may see.

96, me.


"This song, and its tune, as the editor is informed by his ingenious friend, Edward Williams, the Welsh bard, are well known in South Wales, by the name of Marchog Glas, i.e. Green Knight. Though apparently ancient, it is not known to exist in black letter, nor has any better authority been met with than the common collection of Aldermary-churchyard." Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 216.

Bold Robin Hood ranging the forrest all round,
The forrest all round ranged he,
O there did he meet with a gay lady,
She came weeping along the highway.
"Why weep you, why weep you?" bold Robin he said,5
"What, weep you for gold or fee?
Or do you weep for your maidenhead,
That is taken from your body?"[Pg 268]
"I weep not for gold," the lady reply'd,
"Neither do I weep for fee;10
Nor do I weep for my maidenhead,
That is taken from my body."
"What weep you for then?" said jolly Robìn,
"I prithee come tell unto me;"
"Oh! I do weep for my three sons,15
For they are all condemned to die."
"What church have they robbed?" said jolly Robìn,
"Or parish-priest have they slain?
What maids have they forced against their will?
Or with other mens wives have lain?"20
"No church have they robbed," this lady reply'd,
"Nor parish-priest have they slain;
No maids have they forced against their will,
Nor with other mens wives have lain."
"What have they done then?" said jolly Robìn,25
"Come tell me most speedily:"
"Oh! it is for killing the kings fallow deer,
That they are all condemned to die."
"Get you home, get you home," said jolly Robìn,
"Get you home most speedily,30
And I will unto fair Nottingham go,
For the sake of the squires all three."[Pg 269]
Then bold Robin Hood for Nottingham goes,
For Nottingham town goes he,
O there did he meet with a poor beggar-man,35
He came creeping along the highway.
"What news, what news, thou old beggar-man?
What news, come tell unto me:"
"O there's weeping and wailing in Nottingham,
For the death of the squires all three."40
This beggar-man had a coat on his back,
'Twas neither green, yellow, nor red;
Bold Robin Hood thought 'twas no disgrace
To be in the beggar-mans stead.
"Come, pull off thy coat, thou old beggar-man,45
And thou shalt put on mine;
And forty good shillings I'll give thee to boot,
Besides brandy, good beer, ale and wine."
Bold Robin Hood then unto Nottingham came,
Unto Nottingham town came he;50
O there did he meet with great master sheriff,
And likewise the squires all three.
"One boon, one boon," says jolly Robín,
"One boon I beg on my knee;
That, as for the death of these three squires,55
Their hangman I may be."[Pg 270]
"Soon granted, soon granted," says master sheriff,
"Soon granted unto thee;
And you shalt have all their gay cloathìng,
Aye, and all their white monèy."60
"O I will have none of their gay cloathìng,
Nor none of their white monèy,
But I'll have three blasts on my bugle-horn,
That their souls to heaven may flee."
Then Robin Hood mounted the gallows so high,65
Where he blew loud and shrill,
Till an hundred and ten of Robin Hoods men
Came marching down the green hill.
"Whose men are these?" says master sherìff,
"Whose men are they? come tell unto me:"70
"O they are mine, but none of thine,
And are come for the squires all three."
"O take them, O take them," says great master sheriff,
"O take them along with thee;
For there's never a man in fair Nottinghàm75
Can do the like of thee.

28, And.

65. When.

[Pg 271]


Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 61.

"From an old black-letter copy in the collection of Anthony à Wood: corrected by a much earlier one in the Pepysian library, printed by H. Gosson, about the year 1610; compared with a later one in the same collection. The full title is: The famous battell betweene Robin Hood and the Curtall Fryer. To a new Northern tune."

In summer time, when leaves grow green,
And flowers are fresh and gay,
Robin Hood and his merry men
Were disposed to play.
Then some would leape, and some would runne,5
And some would use artillery;
"Which of you can a good bow draw,
A good archer for to be?
"Which of you can kill a bucke,
Or who can kill a doe?10
Or who can kill a hart of greece
Five hundreth foot him fro?"[Pg 272]
Will Scadlocke he kild a bucke,
And Midge he kild a doe,
And Little John kild a hart of greece,15
Five hundreth foot him fro.
"Gods blessing on thy heart," said Robin Hood,
"That hath such a shot for me;
I would ride my horse a hundred miles,
To find one could match thee."20
This caused Will Scadlocke to laugh,
He laught full heartily:
"There lives a curtall fryer in Fountaines Abbey
Will beate both him and thee.
"The curtall fryer in Fountaines Abbey25
Well can a strong bow draw;
He will beat you and your yeomèn,
Set them all on a row."
Robin Hood he tooke a solemne oath,
It was by Mary free,30
That he would neither eate nor drinke
Till the fryer he did see.
Robin Hood put on his harnesse good,
On his head a cap of steel,
Broad sword and buckler by his side,35
And they became him weele.[Pg 273]
He tooke his bow into his hand,
It was made of a trusty tree,
With a sheafe of arrowes at his belt,
And to Fountaine Dale went he.40
And comming unto Fountaine Dale,
No farther would he ride;
There he was aware of the curtall fryer,
Walking by the water side.
The fryer had on a harnesse good,45
On his head a cap of steel,
Broad sword and buckler by his side,
And they became him weele.
Robin Hood lighted off his horse,
And tyed him to a thorne:50
"Carry me over the water, thou curtall fryer,
Or else thy life's forlorne."
The fryer tooke Robin Hood on his backe,
Deepe water he did bestride,
And spake neither good word nor bad,55
Till he came at the other side.
Lightly leapt Robin offe the fryers backe;
The fryer said to him againe,
"Carry me over this water, [thou] fine fellow,
[Pg 274]Or it shall breed thy paine."60
Robin Hood took the fryer on his backe,
Deepe water he did bestride,
And spake neither good word nor bad,
Till he came at the other side.
Lightly leapt the fryer off Robin Hoods backe;65
Robin Hood said to him againe,
"Carry me over this water, thou curtall fryer,
Or it shall breede thy pain."
The fryer tooke Robin on's backe againe,
And stept in to the knee;70
Till he came at the middle streame
Neither good nor bad spake he.
And comming to the middle streame,
There he threw Robin in;
"And chuse thee, chuse thee, fine fellow,75
Whether thou wilt sink or swim."
Robin Hood swam to a bush of broome,
The fryer to a wigger wand;
Bold Robin Hood is gone to shore,
And took his bow in his hand.80
One of his best arrowes under his belt
To the fryer he let fly;
The curtall fryer with his steel buckler
Did put that arrow by.[Pg 275]
"Shoot on, shoot on, thou fine fellow,85
Shoot as thou hast begun,
If thou shoot here a summers day,
Thy marke I will not shun."
Robin Hood shot passing well,
Till his arrows all were gane;90
They tooke their swords and steele bucklers,
They fought with might and maine;
From ten o'th' clock that [very] day,
Till four i'th' afternoon;
Then Robin Hood came to his knees,95
Of the fryer to beg a boone.
"A boone, a boone, thou curtall fryer,
I beg it on my knee:
Give me leave to set my horne to my mouth,
And to blow blasts three."100
"That I will do," said the curtall fryer,
"Of thy blasts I have no doubt;
I hope thou'lt blow so passing well,
Till both thy eyes fall out."
Robin Hood set his home to his mouth,105
He blew out blasts three;
Halfe a hundreth yeomen, with bowes bent,
Came raking over the lee.[Pg 276]
"Whose men are these," said the fryer,
"That come so hastily?"110
"These men are mine," said Robin Hood;
"Fryer, what is that to thee?"
"A boone, a boone," said the curtall fryer,
"The like I gave to thee;
Give me leave to set my fist to my mouth,115
And to whute whues three."
"That will I doe," said Robin Hood,
"Or else I were to blame;
Three whues in a fryers fist
Would make me glad and faine."120
The fryer set his fist to his mouth,
And whuted whues three;
Half a hundred good band-dogs
Came running over the lee.
"Here's for every man a dog,125
And I myselfe for thee:"
"Nay, by my faith," said Robin Hood,
"Fryer, that may not be."
Two dogs at once to Robin Hood did goe,
The one behind, the other before;130
Robin Hoods mantle of Lincolne greene
Off from his backe they tore.[Pg 277]
And whether his men shot east or west,
Or they shot north or south,
The curtall dogs, so taught they were,135
They kept the arrows in their mouth.
"Take up thy dogs," said Little John,
"Fryer, at my bidding be;"
"Whose man art thou," said the curtall fryer,
"Comes here to prate with me?"140
"I am Little John, Robin Hoods man,
Fryer, I will not lie;
If thou take not up thy dogs soone,
I'le take up them and thee."
Little John had a bow in his hand,145
He shot with might and main;
Soon halfe a score of the fryers dogs
Lay dead upon the plain.
"Hold thy hand, good fellow," said the curtal fryer,
"Thy master and I will agree;150
And we will have new orders taken,
With all the hast may be."
"If thou wilt forsake fair Fountaines Dale,
And Fountaines Abbey free,
Every Sunday throwout the yeere,155
A noble shall be thy fee:[Pg 278]
"And every holliday through the yeere,
Changed shall thy garment be,
If thou wilt goe to faire Nottingham,
And there remaine with me."160
This curtal fryer had kept Fountaines Dale
Seven long yeeres and more;
There was neither knight, lord, nor earle,
Could make him yeeld before.


Or, a pleasant relation how a young gentleman, being in love with a young damsel, she was taken from him to be an old knights bride: and how Robin Hood, pittying the young mans case, took her from the old knight, when they were going to be marryed, and restored her to her own love again. To a pleasant northern tune, Robin Hood in the green-wood stood.

Bold Robin Hood he did the young man right,
And took the damsel from the doting knight.

From an old black-letter copy in Major Pearson's collection. Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 49.

The same in A Collection of Old Ballads, ii. 44.

Come listen to me, you gallants so free,
All you that love mirth for to hear,
And I will tell you of a bold outlàw
That lived in Nottinghamshire.[Pg 279]
As Robin Hood in the forest stood,5
All under the green-wood tree,
There he was aware of a brave young man,
As fine as fine might be.
The youngster was cloathed in scarlet red,
In scarlet fine and gay;10
And he did frisk it over the plain,
And chanted a round-de-lay.
As Robin Hood next morning stood
Amongst the leaves so gay,
There did [he] espy the same young man,15
Come drooping along the way.
The scarlet he wore the day before,
It was clean cast away;
And at every step he fetcht a sigh,
"Alack and a well a day!"20
Then stepped forth brave Little John,
And Midge the millers son,
Which made the young man bend his bow,
When as he see them come.
"Stand off, stand off," the young man said,25
"What is your will with me?"
"You must come before our master straight,
Under yon green-wood tree."[Pg 280]
And when he came bold Robin before,
Robin askt him courteously,30
"O hast thou any money to spare
For my merry men and me?"
"I have no money," the young man said,
"But five shillings and a ring;
And that I have kept this seven long years,35
To have it at my wedding.
"Yesterday, I should have married a maid,
But she soon from me was tane,
And chosen to be an old knights delight,
Whereby my poor heart is slain."40
"What is thy name?" then said Robin Hood,
"Come tell me, without any fail:"
"By the faith of my body," then said the young man,
"My name it is Allin a Dale."
"What wilt thou give me," said Robin Hood,45
"In ready gold or fee,
To help thee to thy true love again,
And deliver her unto thee?"
"I have no money," then quoth the young man,
"No ready gold nor fee,50
But I will swear upon a book
Thy true servant for to be."[Pg 281]
"How many miles is it to thy true love?
Come tell me without guile:"
"By the faith of my body," then said the young man,
"It is but five little mile."56
Then Robin he hasted over the plain,
He did neither stint nor lin,
Until he came unto the church,
Where Allin should keep his wedding.60
"What hast thou here?" the bishop then said,
"I prithee now tell unto me:"
"I am a bold harper," quoth Robin Hood,
"And the best in the north country."
"O welcome, O welcome," the bishop he said,65
"That musick best pleaseth me:"
"You shall have no musick," quoth Robin Hood,
"Till the bride and the bridegroom I see."
With that came in a wealthy knight,
Which was both grave and old,70
And after him a finikin lass,
Did shine like the glistering gold.
"This is not a fit match," quod bold Robin Hood,
"That you do seem to make here,
For since we are come into the church,75
The bride shall chuse her own dear."[Pg 282]
Then Robin Hood put his horn to his mouth,
And blew blasts two or three;
When four and twenty bowmen bold
Came leaping over the lee.80
And when they came into the church-yard,
Marching all on a row,
The first man was Allin a Dale,
To give bold Robin his bow.
"This is thy true love," Robin he said,85
"Young Allin, as I hear say;
And you shall be married at this same time,
Before we depart away."
"That shall not be," the bishop he said,
"For thy word shall not stand;90
They shall be three times askt in the church,
As the law is of our land."
Robin Hood pull'd off the bishops coat,
And put it upon Little John;
"By the faith of my body," then Robin said,95
This cloth does make thee a man."
"When Little John went into the quire,
The people began to laugh;
He askt them seven times in the church,
[Pg 283]Lest three times should not be enough.100
"Who gives me this maid?" said Little John;
Quoth Robin Hood, "That do I,
And he that takes her from Allin a Dale,
Full dearly he shall her buy."
And thus having ende of this merry wedding,105
The bride lookt like a queen;
And so they return'd to the merry green-wood,
Amongst the leaves so green.

22. Nicke.


From A Collection of Old Ballads, i. 90. The full title is: Robin Hood rescuing Will Stutley from the sheriff and his men, who had taken him prisoner, and were going to hang him, &c. To the tune of Robin Hood and Queen Catherine. The same in Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 106.

When Robin Hood in the green wood stood,
Derry, derry down,
Under the green wood tree,
Tidings there came to him with speed,
Tidings for certainty;
Hey down, derry, derry, down.
That Will Stutly surprized was,5
And eke in prison lay;
Three varlets that the king had hir'd,
Did likely him betray.[Pg 284]
Ay, and to-morrow hang'd must be,
To-morrow as soon as day;10
Before they could the victory get,
Two of 'em did Stutly slay.
When Robin Hood did hear this news,
Lord! it did grieve him sore;
And to his merry men he said,15
(Who altogether swore)
That Will Stutly should rescu'd be,
And be brought back again;
Or else should many a gallant wight
For his sake there be slain.20
He cloath'd himself in scarlet then,
His men were all in green;
A finer shew, throughout the world,
In no place could be seen.
Good lord! it was a gallant sight25
To see them all a-row;
With ev'ry man a good broad sword,
And eke a good yew bow.
Forth of the green wood are they gone,
Yea, all couragously,30
Resolving to bring Stutly home,
Or every man to dye.[Pg 285]
And when they came to the castle near
Wherein Will Stutly lay,
"I hold it good," said Robin Hood,35
"We here in ambush stay,
"And send one forth some news to hear,
To yonder palmer fair,
That stands under the castle wall;
Some news he may declare."40
With that steps forth a brave young man,
Which was of courage bold;
Thus he did say to the old man:
"I pray thee, palmer old,
"Tell me, if that thou rightly ken,45
When must Will Stutly dye,
Who is one of bold Robin's men,
And here doth prisoner lye?"
"Alas, alas," the palmer said,
"And for ever woe is me!50
Will Stutly hang'd will be this day,
On yonder gallows tree.
"O had his noble master known,
He would some succour send;
A few of his bold yeomanry55
Full soon would fetch him hence."[Pg 286]
"Ay, that is true," the young man said;
"Ay, that is true," said he;
"Or, if they were near to this place,
They soon would set him free.60
"But fare thou well, thou good old man,
Farewel, and thanks to thee;
If Stutly hanged be this day,
Reveng'd his death will be."
No sooner he was from the palmer gone,65
But the gates were open'd wide,
And out of the castle Will Stutly came,
Guarded on every side.
When he was forth from the castle come,
And saw no help was nigh,70
Thus he did say unto the sheriff,
Thus he said gallantly:
"Now seeing that I needs must dye,
Grant me one boon," said he,
"For my noble master ne'er had man75
That yet was hang'd on tree.
"Give me a sword all in my hand,
And let me be unbound,
And with thee and thy men I'll fight,
[Pg 287]Till I lye dead on the ground."80
But this desire he would not grant,
His wishes were in vain;
For the sheriff swore he hang'd should be,
And not by the sword be slain.
"Do but unbind my hands," he says,85
"I will no weapons crave,
And if I hanged be this day,
Damnation let me have."
"O no, no, no," the sheriff said,
"Thou shalt on gallows dye,90
Ay, and so shall thy master too,
If ever in me it lye."
"O dastard coward!" Stutly cries,
Faint-hearted peasant slave!
If ever my master do thee meet,95
Thou shalt thy payment have.
"My noble master thee doth scorn,
And all thy cowardly crew;
Such silly imps unable are
Bold Robin to subdue."100
But when he was to the gallows gone,
And ready to bid adieu,
Out of a bush steps Little John,
And goes Will Stutly to.[Pg 288]
"I pray thee, Will, before thou dye,105
Of thy dear friends take leave;
I needs must borrow him a while,
How say you, master sheriff?"
"Now, as I live," the sheriff said,
"That varlet will I know;110
Some sturdy rebel is that same,
Therefore let him not go."
And Little John most hastily
Away cut Stutly's bands,
And from one of the sheriffs men,115
A sword twich'd from his hands.
"Here, Will Stutly, take thou this same,
Thou canst it better sway;
And here defend thyself awhile,
For aid will come straightway."120
And there they turn'd them back to back,
In the midst of them that day,
Till Robin Hood approached near,
With many an archer gay.
With that an arrow from them flew,125
I-wis from Robin Hood;
"Make haste, make haste," the sheriff he said,
"Make haste, for it is not good."[Pg 289]
The sheriff is gone; his doughty men
Thought it no boot to stay,130
But, as their master had them taught,
They run full fast away.
"O stay, O stay," Will Stutly said,
"Take leave ere you depart;
You ne'er will catch bold Robin Hood,135
Unless you dare him meet."
"O ill betide you," said Robin Hood,
That you so soon are gone;
My sword may in the scabbard rest,
For here our work is done."140
"I little thought," Will Stutly said,
"When I came to this place,
For to have met with Little John,
Or seen my master's face."
Thus Stutly he was at liberty set,145
And safe brought from his foe:
"O thanks, O thanks to my mastèr,
Since here it was not so.
"And once again, my fellows dear,
Derry, derry down,
We shall in the green woods meet,150
Where we will make our bow-strings twang,
Musick for us most sweet."
Hey down, derry, derry down.

126, I wist.

[Pg 290]


Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 13.

"From an old black-letter copy in the collection of Anthony à Wood. It is there said to go 'To the tune of Bold Robin Hood;' and the chorus is repeated in every stanza. To the above title are added the following doggerel lines:—

Where hee met with fifteen forresters all on a row,
And hee desired of them some news for to know,
But with crosse-grain'd words they did him thwart,
For which at last hee made them smart."

One or two corrections made by Gutch from copies in the Roxburghe collection have been admitted.

Robin Hood he was a tall young man,
Derry, derry down,
And fifteen winters old;
And Robin Hood he was a proper young man,
Of courage stout and bold.
Hey down, derry, derry down.
Robin Hood hee would unto fair Nottingham,5
With the general for to dine;[Pg 291]
There was hee aware of fifteen forresters,
And a drinking beer, ale, and wine.
"What news?" "What news?" said bold Robin Hood,
"What news fain wouldest thou know?10
Our king hath provided a shooting match,
And I'm ready with my bow."
"We hold it in scorn," said the forresters,
"That ever a boy so young
Should bear a bow before our king,15
That's not able to draw one string."
"I'le hold you twenty marks," said bold Robin Hood,
"By the leave of our lad[y'],
That I'le hit a mark a hundred rod,
And I'le cause a hart to dye."20
"We'l hold you twenty mark," then said the forresters,
"By the leave of our lady,
Thou hit'st not the marke a hundred rod,
Nor causest a hart to dye."
Robin Hood he bent up a noble bow,25
And a broad arrow he let flye,
He hit the mark a hundred rod,
And he caused a hart to dye.[Pg 292]
Some say hee brake ribs one or two,
And some say hee brake three;30
The arrow within the hart would not abide,
But it glanced in two or three.
The hart did skip, and the hart did leap,
And the hart lay on the ground;
"The wager is mine," said bold Robin Hood,35
"If't were for a thousand pound."
"The wager's none of thine," then said the forresters,
"Although thou beest in haste;
Take up thy bow, and get thee hence,
Lest wee thy sides do baste."40
Robin Hood he took up his noble bow,
And his broad arrows all amain;
And Robin Hood he laught, and begun to smile,
As hee went over the plain.
Then Robin Hood he bent his noble bow,45
And his broad arrowes he let flye,
Till fourteen of these fifteen forresters
Upon the ground did lye.
He that did this quarrel first begin
Went tripping over the plain;50
But Robin Hood he bent his noble bow,
And hee fetcht him back again.[Pg 293]
"You said I was no archer," said Robin Hood,
"But say so now again;"
With that he sent another arrow,55
That split his head in twain.
"You have found mee an archer," said Robin Hood,
"Which will make your wives for to wring,
And wish that you had never spoke the word,
That I could not draw one string."60
The people that lived in fair Nottinghàm
Came running out amain,
Supposing to have taken bold Robin Hood,
With the forresters that were slain.
Some lost legs, and some lost arms,65
And some did lose their blood;
But Robin hee took up his noble bow,
And is gone to the merry green wood.
They carried these forresters into fair Nottingham,
As many there did know;70
They dig'd them graves in their church-yard,
And they buried them all a-row.

1, and he;

5, and to, Ritson.

8, bear.

57, saith. Ritson.

[Pg 294]


"This excellent ballad, given from the common edition of Aldermary church-yard (compared with the York copy), is supposed to be modern; the story, however, seems alluded to in the ballad of Renowned Robin Hood. The full title is The Bishop of Herefords entertainment by Robin Hood and Little John, &c., in merry Barnsdale." Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 150.

Some they will talk of bold Robin Hood,
And some of barons bold;
But I'll tell you how he serv'd the bishop of Hereford,
When he robb'd him of his gold.
As it befel in merry Barnsdale,5
All under the green-wood tree,
The bishop of Hereford was to come by,
With all his company.
"Come, kill [me] a ven'son," said bold Robin Hood,
"Come, kill me a good fat deer;10
The bishop of Hereford is to dine with me to-day,
And he shall pay well for his cheer.[Pg 295]
"We'll kill a fat ven'son," said bold Robin Hood,
And dress it by the highway side;
And we will watch the bishop narrowly,15
Lest some other way he should ride."
Robin Hood dress'd himself in shepherds attire,
With six of his men alsò;
And, when the bishop of Hereford came by,
They about the fire did go.20
"O what is the matter?" then said the bishop,
"Or for whom do you make this a-do?
Or why do you kill the kings ven'son,
When your company is so few?"
"We are shepherds," said bold Robin Hood,25
"And we keep sheep all the year,
And we are disposed to be merry this day,
And to kill of the kings fat deer."
"You are brave fellows!" said the bishop,
"And the king of your doings shall know:30
Therefore make haste, and come along with me,
For before the king you shall go."
"O pardon, O pardon," said bold Robin Hood,
"O pardon, I thee pray!
For it becomes not your lordships coat35
To take so many lives away."[Pg 296]
"No pardon, no pardon," said the bishòp,
"No pardon I thee owe;
Therefore make haste, and come along with me,
For before the king you shall go."40
Then Robin set his back against a tree,
And his foot against a thorn,
And from underneath his shepherds coat
He pull'd out a bugle horn.
He put the little end to his mouth,45
And a loud blast did he blow,
Till threescore and ten of bold Robins men
Came running all on a row,
All making obeysance to bold Robin Hood;
'Twas a comely sight for to see.50
"What is the matter, master," said Little John,
"That you blow so hastily?"
"O here is the bishop of Hereford,
And no pardon we shall have:"
"Cut off his head, master," said Little John,55
"And throw him into his grave."
"O pardon, O pardon," said the bishop,
"O pardon, I thee pray,
For if I had known it had been you,
[Pg 297]I'd have gone some other way."60
"No pardon, no pardon," said bold Robin Hood,
"No pardon I thee owe;
Therefore make haste, and come along with me,
For to merry Barnsdale you shall go."
Then Robin he took the bishop by the hand,65
And led him to merry Barnsdale;
He made him to stay and sup with him that night,
And to drink wine, beer, and ale.
"Call in a reckoning," said the bishop,
"For methinks it grows wond'rous high:"70
"Lend me your purse, master," said Little John,
"And I'll tell you bye and bye."
Then Little John took the bishops cloak,
And spread it upon the ground,
And out of the bishops portmantua75
He told three hundred pound.
"Here's money enough, master," said Little John,
"And a comely sight 'tis to see;
It makes me in charity with the bishop,
Tho' he heartily loveth not me."80
Robin Hood took the bishop by the hand,
And he caused the music to play;
And he made the bishop to dance in his boots,
And glad he could so get away.

[Pg 298]


Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 22.

Shewing how Robin Hood went to an old woman's house and changed cloaths with her to scape from the bishop; and how he robbed the bishop of all his gold, and made him sing a mass. To the tune of Robin Hood and the Stranger.

"From an old black-letter copy in the collection of Anthony à Wood."

Two trifling corrections have been made from the copy in Old Ballads, 1723, (ii. 39,) which is very nearly the same.

Come, gentlemen all, and listen awhile,
Hey down, down, an a down,
And a story Ile to you unfold;
Ile tell you how Robin Hood served the bishop,
When he robbed him of his gold.
As it fell out on a sun-shining day,5
When Phœbus was in his prime,
Then Robin Hood, that archer good,
In mirth would spend some time.
And as he walk'd the forrest along,
[Pg 299]Some pastime for to spy,10
There was he aware of a proud bishop,
And all his company.
"O what shall I do," said Robin Hood then,
"If the bishop he doth take me?
No mercy he'l show unto me, I know,15
But hangèd I shall be."
Then Robin was stout, and turn'd him about,
And a little house there he did spy;
And to an old wife, for to save his life,
He loud began for to cry.20
"Why, who art thou?" said the old woman,
"Come tell it to me for good:"
"I am an out-law, as many do know,
My name it is Robin Hood;
"And yonder's the bishop and all his men,25
And if that I taken be,
Then day and night he'l work my spight,
And hangèd I shall be."
"If thou be Robin Hood," said the old wife,
"As thou dost seem to be,
I'le for thee provide, and thee I will hide,
From the bishop and his company.
"For I remember one Saturday night,
Thou brought me both shoes and hose;[Pg 300]
Therefore I'le provide thy person to hide,35
And keep thee from thy foes."
"Then give me soon thy coat of grey,
And take thou my mantle of green;
Thy spindle and twine unto me resign,
And take thou my arrows so keen."40
And when Robin Hood was thus araid,
He went straight to his company,
With his spindle and twine, he oft lookt behind
For the bishop and his company.
"O who is yonder," quoth Little John,45
"That now comes over the lee?
An arrow I will at her let flie,
So like an old witch looks she."
"O hold thy hand, hold thy hand," said Robin Hood then,
"And shoot not thy arrows so keen;50
I am Robin Hood, thy master good,
And quickly it shall be seen."
The bishop he came to the old womans house,
And called with furious mood,
"Come let me soon see, and bring unto me,55
That traitor Robin Hood."
The old woman he set on a milk-white steed,
Himselfe on a dapple gray;[Pg 301]
And for joy he had got Robin Hood,
He went laughing all the way.60
But as they were riding the forrest along,
The bishop he chanc'd for to see
A hundred brave bowmen bold,
Stand under the green-wood tree.
"O who is yonder," the bishop then said,65
"That's ranging within yonder wood?"
"Marry," says the old woman, "I think it to be
A man call'd Robin Hood."
"Why, who art thou," the bishop he said,
"Which I have here with me?"70
"Why, I am an old woman, thou cuckoldy bishop;
Lift up my leg and see."
"Then woe is me," the bishop he said,
"That ever I saw this day!"
He turn'd him about, but Robin Hood stout75
Call'd him, and bid him stay.
Then Robin took hold of the bishops horse,
And ty'd him fast to a tree;
Then Little John smil'd his master upon,
[Pg 302]For joy of that company.80
Robin Hood took his mantle from 's back,
And spread it upon the ground,
And out of the bishops portmantle he
Soon told five hundred pound.
"Now let him go," said Robin Hood;85
Said Little John, "That may not be;
For I vow and protest he shall sing us a mass,
Before that he goe from me."
Then Robin Hood took the bishop by the hand,
And bound him fast to a tree,90
And made him sing a mass, god wot,
To him and his yeomandree.
And then they brought him through the wood,
And set him on his dapple gray,
And gave him the tail within his hand,95
And bade him for Robin Hood pray.

22, tell to me. Ritson.

75. Robin, Ritson.

[Pg 303]


He met two priests upon the way,
And forced them with him to pray;
For gold they prayed, and gold they had,
Enough to make bold Robin glad.
His share came to four hundred pound,
That then was told upon the ground;
Now mark, and you shall hear the jest,
You never heard the like exprest.

Tune is, Robin Hood was a tall young man, &c.

"This ballad (given from an old black-letter copy in the collection of Anthony à Wood) was entered, amongst others, in the Stationers' book, by Francis Coule, 13th June, 1631, and by Francis Grove, 2nd June, 1656." Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 101.

This piece is printed in A Collection of Old Ballads, ii. 121, with some variations.

I have heard talk of bold Robin Hood,
Derry, derry down,
And of brave Little John,
Of Fryer Tuck, and Will Scarlet,
Loxley, and maid Mariòn.
But such a tale as this before5
I think was never knone;[Pg 304]
For Robin Hood disguised himself,
And from the wood is gone.
Like to a fryer, bold Robin Hood
Was accoutered in his array;10
With hood, gown, bedes, and crucifix,
He past upon the way.
He had not gone miles two or three,
But it was his chance to spy
Two lusty priests, clad all in black,15
Come riding gallantly.
"Benedicite," then said Robin Hood,
"Some pitty on me take;
Cross you my hand with a silver groat,
For our dear ladies sake.20
"For I have been wandring all this day,
And nothing could I get;
Not so much as one poor cup of drink,
Nor bit of bread to eat."
"Now, by our dame," the priests repli'd,25
We never a penny have;
For we this morning have been rob'd,
And could no money save."
"I am much afraid," said bold Robin Hood,
[Pg 305]That you both do tell a lie;30
And now before you do go hence,
I am resolv'd to try."
When as the priests heard him say so,
Then they rode away amain;
But Robin Hood betook to his heels,35
And soon overtook them again.
Then Robin Hood laid hold of them both,
And pull'd them down from their horse:
"O spare us, fryer!" the priests cry'd out,
"On us have some remorse!"40
"You said you had no mony," quoth he,
"Wherefore, without delay,
We three will fall down on our knees,
And for mony we will pray."
The priests they could not him gainsay,45
But down they kneeled with speed;
"Send us, O send us," then quoth they,
"Some money to serve our need."
The priests did pray with a mournful chear,
Sometimes their hands did wring;50
Sometimes they wept, and cried aloud,
Whilst Robin did merrily sing.
When they had been praying an hours space,
The priests did still lament;[Pg 306]
Then quoth bold Robin, "Now let's see55
What mony heaven hath us sent.
"We will be sharers all alike
Of mony that we have;
And there is never a one of us
That his fellow shall deceive."60
The priests their hands in their pockets put,
But mony would find none:
"We'l search ourselves," said Robin Hood,
"Each other, one by one."
Then Robin Hood took pains to search them both,65
And he found good store of gold,
Five hundred peeces presently
Upon the grass was told.
"Here is a brave show," said Robin Hood,
"Such store of gold to see,70
And you shall each one have a part,
Cause you prayed so heartily."
He gave them fifty pounds a-peece,
And the rest for himself did keep:
The priests durst not speak one word,75
But they sighed wondrous deep.
With that the priests rose up from their knees,
Thinking to have parted so:[Pg 307]
"Nay, stay," says Robin Hood, "one thing more
I have to say ere you do go.80
"You shall be sworn," said bold Robin Hood,
"Upon this holy grass,
That you will never tell lies again,
Which way soever you pass.
"The second oath that you here must take,85
That all the days of your lives,
You shall never tempt maids to sin,
Nor lye with other mens wives.
"The last oath you shall take, it is this,
Be charitable to the poor;90
Say, you have met with a holy fryar,
And I desire no more."
He set them on their horses again,
And away then they did ride;
And he return'd to the merry green-wood,95
With great joy, mirth, and pride.

8 to.

[Pg 308]


Shewing how he was taken ill, and how he went to his cousin at Kirkley-hall, who let him blood, which was the cause of his death. Tune of Robin Hood's last farewel, &c.

"This very old (?) and curious piece is preserved solely in the editions of Robin Hood's Garland printed at York, (or such as have been taken from them,) where it is made to conclude with some foolish lines, (adopted from the London copy of Robin Hood and the Valiànt Knight,) in order to introduce the epitaph. It is here given from a collation of two different copies, containing numerous variations, a few of which are retained in the margin." Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 187.

When Robin Hood and Little John,
Down a down, a down, a down.
Went o'er yon bank of broom,
Said Robin Hood to Little John,
"We have shot for many a pound:
Hey down, a down, a down.
"But I am not able to shoot one shot more,
My arrows will not flee;
But I have a cousin lives down below,
Please God, she will bleed me."[Pg 309]
Now Robin is to fair Kirkley gone,
As fast as he can win;10
But before he came there, as we do hear,
He was taken very ill.
And when that he came to fair Kirkley-hall,
He knock'd all at the ring,
But none was so ready as his cousin herself15
For to let bold Robin in.
"Will you please to sit down, cousin Robin," she said,
"And drink some beer with me?"
"No, I will neither eat nor drink,
Till I am blooded by thee."20
"Well, I have a room, cousin Robin," she said,
"Which you did never see,
And if you please to walk therein,
You blooded by me shall be."
She took him by the lilly-white hand,25
And led him to a private room,
And there she blooded bold Robin Hood,
Whilst one drop of blood would run.
She blooded him in the vein of the arm,
[Pg 310]And lock'd him up in the room;30
There did he bleed all the live-long day,
Untill the next day at noon.
He then bethought him of a casement door,
Thinking for to be gone;
He was so weak he could not leap,35
Nor he could not get down.
He then bethought him of his bugle-horn,
Which hung low down to his knee;
He set his horn unto his mouth,
And blew out weak blasts three.40
Then Little John, when hearing him,
As he sat under the tree,
"I fear my master is near dead,
He blows so wearily."
Then Little John to fair Kirkley is gone,45
As fast as he can dree;
But when he came to Kirkley-hall,
He broke locks two or three:
Untill he came bold Robin to,
Then he fell on his knee;50
"A boon, a boon," cries Little John,
"Master, I beg of thee."
"What is that boon," quoth Robin Hood,
"Little John, thou begs of me?"[Pg 311]
"It is to burn fair Kirkley-hall,55
And all their nunnery."
"Now nay, now nay," quoth Robin Hood,
"That boon I'll not grant thee;
I never hurt woman in all my life,
Nor man in woman's company.60
"I never hurt fair maid in all my time,
Nor at my end shall it be;
But give me my bent bow in my hand,
And a broad arrow I'll let flee;
And where this arrow is taken up,65
There shall my grave digg'd be.
"Lay me a green sod under my head,
And another at my feet;
And lay my bent bow by my side,
Which was my music sweet;70
And make my grave of gravel and green,
Which is most right and meet.
"Let me have length and breadth enough,
With under my head a green sod;
That they may say, when I am dead,75
Here lies bold Robin Hood."[Pg 312]
These words they readily promis'd him,
Which did bold Robin please:
And there they buried bold Robin Hood,
Near to the fair Kirklèys.80

20. Till I blood letted be.

24. You blood shall letted be.

26, let, Ritson.

34, get down.

59, burnt. This stanza is omitted in one edition.

67, 68.

With verdant sods most neatly put,
Sweet as the green-wood tree.

74. With a green sod under my head, Ritson.


Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 87.

"From an old black-letter copy in a private collection, compared with another in that of Anthony à Wood. The full title is: 'Renowned Robin Hood; or, his famous archery truly related in the worthy exploits he acted before queen Katherine, he being an outlaw man; and how he obtained his own and his fellows pardon. To a new tune.'

"It is scarcely worth observing that there was no queen consort named Katherine before Henry the Fifth's time: but as Henry the Eighth had no less than three wives so called, the name would be sufficiently familiar to our ballad-maker." Ritson.

Gold tane from the kings harbengers,
Downe, a downe, a downe,
As seldome hath beene seene,
Downe, a downe, a downe,
And carried by bold Robin Hood
For a present to the queen,
Downe, a downe, a downe.[Pg 313]
"If that I live a yeare to an end,"5
Thus can queene Katherine say,
"Bold Robin Hood, I will be thy friend,
And all thy yeomen gay."
The queene is to her chamber gone,
As fast as she can win;10
She calls unto her lovely page,
His name was Richard Patrington.
"Come thou hither to mee, thou lovely page,
Come thou hither to mee;
For thou must post to Nottingham,15
As fast as thou can dree.
"And as thou goest to Nottingham,
Search all the English wood,
Enquire of one good yeoman or another,
That can tell thee of Robin Hood."20
Sometimes hee went, sometimes hee ran,
As fast as hee could win;
And when hee came to Nottingham,
There hee took up his inne.
And when he came to Nottingham,25
And had tooke up his inne,
He calls for a pottle of Rhenish wine,
And dranke a health to his queene.[Pg 314]
There sate a yeoman by his side,
"Tell mee, sweet page," said hee,30
"What is thy businesse and thy cause,
So far in the north countrey?"
"This is my businesse and the cause,
Sir, I'le tell it you for good,
To enquire of one good yeoman or another,35
To tell mee of Robin Hood."
"I'le get my horse betimes in the morne,
By it be break of day,
And I will shew thee bold Robin Hood,
And all his yeomen gay."40
When that he came at Robin Hoods place,
Hee fell down on his knee;
"Queen Katherine she doth greet you well,
She greets you well by mee;
"She bids you post to fair London court,45
Not fearing any thing:
For there shall be a little sport,
And she hath sent you her ring."
Robin Hood tooke his mantle from his back,
It was of the Lincolne greene,50
And sent it by this lovely page,
For a present unto the queene.[Pg 315]
In summer time, when leaves grow green,
It [wa]s a seemely sight to see,
How Robin Hood himselfe had drest,55
And all his yeomandry.
He clothed his men in Lincolne green,
And himselfe in scarlet red;
Blacke hats, white feathers, all alike,
Now bold Robin Hood is rid.60
And when hee came at Londons court,
Hee fell downe on his knee.
"Thou art welcome, Locksly," said the queen,
"And all thy good yeomandree."
The king is into Finsbury field,65
Marching in battle ray,[Pg 316]
And after follows bold Robin Hood,
And all his yeomen gay.
"Come hither, Tepus," said the king,
"Bow-bearer after me;70
Come measure me out with this line,
How long our mark must be.
"What is the wager?" said the queene,
"That must I now know here:"
"Three hundred tun of Rhenish wine,75
Three hundred tun of beere;
"Three hundred of the fattest harts
That run on Dallom lee;
That's a princely wager," said the king,
"That needs must I tell thee."80
With that bespake one Clifton then,
Full quickly and full soone;
"Measure no markes for us, most soveraigne liege,
Wee'l shoot at sun and moone."
"Ful fifteene score your marke shall be,85
Ful fifteene score shall stand;"[Pg 317]
"I'll lay my bow," said Clifton then,
"I'll cleave the willow wand."
With that the kings archers led about,
While it was three and none;90
With that the ladies began to shout,
"Madam, your game is gone."
"A boone, a boone," queen Katherine cries,
"I crave it on my bare knee;
Is there any knight of your privy counsèl95
Of queen Katherines part will be?
"Come hither to mee, sir Richard Lee,
Thou art a knight full good;
For I do knowe by thy pedigree
Thou sprung'st from Gowers blood.100
"Come hither to me, thou bishop of Herefordshire,"
For a noble priest was hee;
"By my silver miter," said the bishop then,
"Ile not bet one peny."
"The king hath archers of his own,105
Full ready and full light,
And these be strangers every one,
No man knowes what they hight."
"What wilt thou bet," said Robin Hood,
[Pg 318]"Thou seest our game the worse?"110
"By my silver miter," then said the bishop,
"All the money within my purse."
"What is in thy purse?" said Robin Hood,
"Throw it downe on the ground."
"Fifteen score nobles," said the bishop;115
"It's neere an hundred pound."
Robin Hood took his bagge from his side,
And threw it downe on the greene;
William Scadlocke then went smiling away,
"I know who this money must win."120
With that the kings archers led about,
While it was three and three;
With that the ladies gave a shout,
"Woodcock, beware thy knee!"
"It is three and three, now," said the king,125
"The next three pays for all:"
Robin Hood went and whisper'd the queen,
"The kings part shall be but small."
Robin Hood hee led about,
Hee shot it under hand;130
And Clifton, with a bearing arrow,
Hee clave the willow wand.
And little Midge, the millers son,
He shot not much the worse;[Pg 319]
He shot within a finger of the prick:135
"Now, bishop, beware thy purse!"
"A boone, a boone," queen Katherine cries,
"I crave it on my bare knee,
That you will angry be with none
That are of my partie."140
"They shall have forty daies to come,
And forty daies to goe,
And three times forty to sport and play;
Then welcome friend or foe."
"Thou art welcome, Robin Hood," said the queene,145
"And so is Little John,
And so is Midge, the millers son;
Thrice welcome every one."
"Is this Robin Hood?" now said the king;
"For it was told to me150
That he was slain in the palace gates,
So far in the north country."
"Is this Robin Hood?" quoth the bishop then,
"As I see well to be:
Had I knowne it had been that bold outlàw,155
I would not [have] bet one peny.[Pg 320]
"Hee tooke me late one Saturday at night,
And bound mee fast to a tree,
And made mee sing a masse, God wot,
To him and his yeomandree."160
"What an if I did?" saies Robin Hood,
"Of that masse I was faine;
"For recompence of that," he saies,
"Here's halfe thy gold againe."
"Now nay, now nay," saies Little John,165
"Master, that shall not be;
We must give gifts to the kings officèrs;
That gold will serve thee and mee."

10, wen.

65. Ground near Moorfields, London, famous in old times for the archery practised there. "In the year 1498," says Stow, "all the gardens which had continued time out of minde, without Mooregate, to wit, about and beyond the lordship of Fensberry, were destroyed. And of them was made a plaine field for archers to shoote in." Survay of London, 1598, p. 351. See also p. 77, where it is observed that "about the feast of S. Bartlemew ... the officers of the city ... were challengers of all men in the suburbes, ... before the lord maior, aldermen, and sheriffes, in Fensbery fielde, to shoote the standarde, broade arrow, and flight, for games."

[The Finsbury] archers are mentioned by Ben Jonson, in Every man in his humour, act i, scene 1: "Because I dwell at Hogsden, I shall keep company with none but the archers of Finsbury."

The practice of shooting here is alluded to by Cotton, in his Virgile travestie (b. iv.), 1667:

"And arrows loos'd from Grub-street bow,
"In Finsbury, to him are slow;"

and continued till within the memory of persons now living. Ritson.


Or, a merry progress between Robin Hood and King Henry: shewing how Robin Hood led the king his chase from London to London; and when he had taken his leave of the queen, he returned to merry Sherwood. To the tune of Robin Hood and the Beggar."

"From an old black-letter copy in the collection of Anthony à Wood." Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 96.

Come, you gallants all, to you I do call,
With hey down, down, an a down,
That now are in this place;[Pg 321]
For a song I will sing of Henry the king,
How he did Robin Hood chase.
Queen Katherin she a match did make,5
As plainly doth appear,
For three hundred tun of good red wine,
And three [hundred] tun of beere.
But yet her archers she had to seek,
With their bows and arrows so good;10
But her mind it was bent, with a good intent,
To send for bold Robin Hood.
But when bold Robin he came there,
Queen Katherin she did say,
"Thou art welcome, Locksley," said the queen,15
"And all thy yeomen gay;
"For a match of shooting I have made,
And thou on my part, Robin, must be."
"If I miss the mark, be it light or dark,
Then hanged I will be."20
But when the game came to be played,
Bold Robin he then drew nigh;
With his mantle of green, most brave to be seen,
He let his arrows fly.[Pg 322]
And when the game it ended was,25
Bold Robin wan it with a grace;
But after the king was angry with him,
And vowed he would him chace.
What though his pardon granted was,
While he with him did stay;30
But yet the king was vexed at him,
Whenas he was gone his way.
Soon after the king from the court did hye,
In a furious angry mood,
And often enquired both far and near35
After bold Robin Hood.
But when the king to Nottingham came,
Bold Robin was in the wood:
"O come now," said he, "and let me see
Who can find me bold Robin Hood."40
But when that bold Robin he did hear
The king had him in chase,
Then said Little John, "Tis time to be gone,
And go to some other place."
Then away they went from merry Sherwood,45
And into Yorkshire he did hye;
And the king did follow, with a hoop and a hallow,
But could not come him nigh.[Pg 323]
Yet jolly Robin he passed along,
And went strait to Newcastle town;50
And there he stayed hours two or three,
And then to Barwick is gone.
When the king did see how Robin did flee,
He was vexed wondrous sore;
With a hoop and a hallow he vowed to follow,55
And take him, or never give ore.
"Come now, let's away," then crys Little John,
"Let any man follow that dare;
To Carlisle we'l hye with our company,
And so then to Lancastèr."60
From Lancaster then to Chester they went,
And so did king Henry;
But Robin [went] away, for he durst not stay,
For fear of some treachery.
Says Robin, "Come, let us for London goe,65
To see our noble queens face;
It may be she wants our company,
Which makes the king so us chase."
When Robin he came queene Katherin before,
He fell low upon his knee:70
"If it please your grace, I am come to this place,
For to speak with king Henry."[Pg 324]
Queen Katherine answered bold Robin again,
"The king is gone to merry Sherwood:
And when he went away, to me he did say,75
He would go and seek Robin Hood."
"Then fare you well, my gracious queen,
For to Sherwood I will hye apace;
For fain would I see what he would with me,
If I could but meet with his grace."80
But when king Henry he came home,
Full weary, and vexed in mind,
And that he did hear Robin had been there,
He blamed dame Fortune unkind.
"You're welcome home," queen Katherin cryed,85
"Henry, my soveraign liege;
Bold Robin Hood, that archer good,
Your person hath been to seek."
But when king Henry he did hear,
That Robin had been there him to seeke,90
This answer he gave, "He's a cunning knave,
For I have sought him this whole three weeks."
"A boon! a boon!" queen Katherin cry'd,
"I beg it here of your grace;—
To pardon his life, and seek not strife,"95
And so endeth Robin Hoods chase.

5, then did.

52, he ... was.

73, Robin Hood.

[Pg 325]


"From an old black-letter copy in the collection of Anthony à Wood: the full title being, A new merry song of Robin Hood and Little John, shewing how Little John went a begging, and how he fought with the four beggers. The tune is, Robin Hood and the Begger." Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 132.

All you that delight to spend some time,
With a hey down, down, a down, down,
A merry song for to sing,
Unto me draw neer, and you shall hear
How Little John went a beggìng.
As Robin Hood walked the forest along,5
And all his yeomandree,
Sayes Robin, "Some of you must a begging go,
And, Little John, it must be thee."
Sayes John, "If I must a begging go,
I will have a palmers weed,10
With a staff and a coat, and bags of all sort,
The better then I may speed.
"Come, give me now a bag for my bread,
And another for my cheese,[Pg 326]
And one for a peny, whenas I get any,15
That nothing I may leese."
Now Little John he is a begging gone,
Seeking for some relief;
But of all the beggers he met on the way,
Little John he was the chief.20
But as he was walking himself alone,
Four beggers he chanced to spy,
Some deaf, and some blind, and some came behind;
Says John, "Here's brave company.
"Good-morrow," said John, "my brethren dear,25
Good fortune I had you to see;
Which way do you go? pray let me know,
For I want some company.
"O what is here to do?" then said Little John,
"Why ring all these bells?" said he;30
"What dog is a hanging? come, let us be ganging,
That we the truth may see."
"Here is no dog a hanging," then one of them said,
"Good fellow, we tell unto thee;
But here is one dead that will give us cheese and bread,35
And it may be one single penny."[Pg 327]
"We have brethren in London," another he said,
"So have we in Coventry,
In Barwick and Dover, and all the world over,
But ne'er a crookt carril like thee.40
"Therefore stand thee back, thou crooked carel,
And take that knock on the crown:"
"Nay," said Little John, "Ile not yet be gone,
For a bout will I have of you round.
"Now have at you all," then said Little John,45
"If you be so full of your blows;
Fight on all four, and nere give ore,
Whether you be friends or foes."
John nipped the dumb, and made him to rore,
And the blind he made to see,50
And he that a cripple had been seven years,
He made run then faster than he.
And flinging them all against the wall,
With many a sturdie bang,
It made John sing, to hear the gold ring,55
Which against the walls cryed twang.
Then he got out of the beggers cloak
Three hundred pound in gold;
"Good fortune had I," then said Little John,
[Pg 328]"Such a good sight to behold."60
But what found he in the beggars bag,
But three hundred pound and three?
"If I drink water while this doth last,
Then an ill death may I dye.
"And my begging trade I will now give ore,65
My fortune hath bin so good;
Therefore Ile not stay, but I will away
To the forrest of merry Sherwood."
And when to the forrest of Sherwood he came,
He quickly there did see70
His master good, bold Robin Hood,
And all his company.
"What news? What news?" then said Robin Hood,
"Come, Little John, tell unto me;
How hast thou sped with thy beggers trade?75
For that I fain would see."
"No news but good," said Little John,
"With begging ful wel I have sped;
Six hundred and three I have here for thee,
In silver and gold so red.80
Then Robin took Little John by the hand,
And danced about the oak tree:
"If we drink water while this doth last,
Then an il death may we die."[Pg 329]
So to conclude my merry new song,85
All you that delight it to sing,
'Tis of Robin Hood, that archer good,
And how Little John went a beggìng.

35, 36. The allusion is of course to the dole at funerals.

51, that could not.


Shewing how he won a prize on the sea, and how he gave the one halfe to his dame, and the other to the building of almes-houses. The tune is, In summer time, etc.

"From three old black-letter copies; one in the collection of Anthony à Wood, another in the British Museum, and the third in a private collection." Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 114.

In summer time, when leaves grow green,
When they doe grow both green and long,—
Of a bold outlaw, call'd Robin Hood,
It is of him I do sing this song,—
When the lilly leafe, and the eglantine,5
Doth bud and spring with a merry cheere,
This outlaw was weary of the wood-side,
And chasing of the fallow-deere.[Pg 330]
"The fisher-men brave more mony have
Than any merchants two or three;10
Therefore I will to Scarborough go,
That I a fisherman brave may be."
This outlaw called his merry men all,
As they sate under the green-wood tree:
"If any of you have gold to spend,15
I pray you heartily spend it with me."
"Now," quoth Robin Hood, "Ile to Scarborough go,
It seems to be a very faire day;"
He tooke up his inne at a widdow-womans house,
Hard by upon the water gray:20
Who asked of him, "Where wert thou borne?
Or tell to me where dost thou fare?"
"I am a poor fisherman," said he then,
"This day intrapped all in care."
"What is thy name, thou fine fellow,25
I pray thee heartily tell it to mee?"
"In my own country, where I was borne,
Men call me Simon over the Lee."
"Simon, Simon," said the good wife,
"I wish thou mayest well brook thy name;"30
The out-law was ware of her courtesie,
And rejoyced he had got such a dame.[Pg 331]
"Simon, wilt thou be my man?
And good round wages Ile give thee;
I have as good a ship of my own35
As any sails upon the sea.
"Anchors and planks thou shalt not want,
Masts and ropes that are so long:"
"And if you thus do furnish me,"
Said Simon, "nothing shall goe wrong."40
They pluckt up anchor, and away did sayle,
More of a day then two or three;
When others cast in their baited hooks,
The bare lines into the sea cast he.
"It will be long," said the master then,45
"Ere this great lubber do thrive on the sea;
I'le assure you he shall have no part of our fish,
For in truth he is no part worthy."
"O woe is me!" said Simon then,
"This day that ever I came here!50
I wish I were in Plompton parke,
In chasing of the fallow deere.
"For every clowne laughs me to scorne,
And they by me set nought at all;
If I had them in Plompton park,55
I would set as little by them all."[Pg 332]
They pluckt up anchor, and away did sayle,
More of a day then two or three:
But Simon espyed a ship of warre,
That sayled towards them most valorously.60
"O woe is me!" said the master then,
"This day that ever I was borne!
For all our fish we have got to-day
Is every bit lost and forlorne.
"For your French robbers on the sea,65
They will not spare of us one man,
But carry us to the coast of France,
And ligge us in the prison strong."
But Simon said, "Doe not feare them,
Neither, master, take you no care;70
Give me my bent bow in my hand,
And never a Frenchman will I spare."
"Hold thy peace, thou long lubbèr,
For thou art nought but brags and boast;
If I should cast thee over-board,75
There's but a simple lubber lost."
Simon grew angry at these words,
And so angry then was he,
That he took his bent bow in his hand,
[Pg 333]And in the ship-hatch goe doth he.80
"Master, tye me to the mast," saith he,
"That at my mark I may stand fair,
And give me my bent bow in my hand,
And never a Frenchman will I spare."
He drew his arrow to the very head,85
And drewe it with all his might and maine,
And straightway, in the twinkling of an eye,
Doth the Frenchmans heart the arrow gain.
The Frenchman fell down on the ship hatch,
And under the hatches there below;90
Another Frenchman, that him espy'd,
The dead corpse into the sea doth throw.
"O master, loose me from the mast," he said,
"And for them all take you no care;
For give me my bent bow in my hand,95
And never a Frenchman will I spare."
Then streight [they] boarded the French ship,
They lyeing all dead in their sight;
They found within that ship of warre
Twelve thousand pound of mony bright.100
"The one halfe of the ship," said Simon then,
"I'le give to my dame and children small;
The other halfe of the ship I'le bestow
On you that are my fellowes all."[Pg 334]
But now bespake the master then,105
"For so, Simon, it shall not be,
For you have won it with your own hand,
And the owner of it you shall bee."
"It shall be so, as I have said;
And, with this gold, for the opprest110
An habitation I will build,
Where they shall live in peace and rest."

5, elephant.


Gutch's Robin Hood, ii. 345.

Communicated to Gutch by Mr. Payne Collier, and derived by him, with Robin Hood and the Peddlers, from a volume of MS. ballads, collected, as Mr. C. conjectures, about the date of the Protectorate.

The story is only one of the varieties of the Douglas Tragedy. See vol. ii. p. 114.

As Robin Hood sat by a tree,
He espied a prettie may,
And when she chanced him to see,
She turnd her head away.
"O feare me not, thou prettie mayde,5
And doe not flie from mee,[Pg 335]
I am the kindest man," he said,
"That ever eye did see."
Then to her he did doffe his cap,
And to her lowted low,10
"To meete with thee I hold it good hap,
If thou wilt not say noe."
Then he put his hand around her waste,
Soe small, so tight, and trim,
And after sought her lip to taste,15
And she to[o] kissed him.
"Where dost thou dwell, my prettie maide,
I prithee tell to mee?"
"I am a tanners daughter," she said,
"John Hobbes of Barneslee."20
"And whither goest thou, pretty maide?
Shall I be thy true love?"
"If thou art not afeard," she said,
"My true love thou shalt prove."
"What should I feare?" then he replied;25
"I am thy true love now;"
"I have two brethren, and their pride
Would scorn such one as thou."
"That will we try," quoth Robin Hood,
[Pg 336]"I was not made their scorne;30
Ile shed my blood to doe the[e] good,
As sure as they were borne."
"My brothers are proude and fierce and strong;"
"I am," said he, "the same,
And if they offer thee to wrong,35
Theyle finde Ile play their game.
"Through the free forrest I can run,
The king may not controll;
They are but barking tanners sons,
To me they shall pay toll.40
"And if not mine be sheepe and kine,
I have cattle on my land;
On venison eche day I may dine,
Whiles they have none in hand."
These wordes had Robin Hood scarce spoke,45
When they two men did see,
Come riding till their horses smoke:
"My brothers both," cried shee.
Each had a good sword by his side,
And furiouslie they rode50
To where they Robin Hood espied,
That with the maiden stood.
"Flee hence, flee hence, away with speede!"
Cried she to Robin Hood,[Pg 337]
"For if thou stay, thoult surely bleede;55
I could not see thy blood."
"With us, false maiden, come away,
And leave that outlawe bolde;
Why fledst thou from thy home this day,
And left thy father olde?"60
Robin stept backe but paces five,
Unto a sturdie tree;
"Ile fight whiles I am left alive;
Stay, thou sweete maide, with mee."
He stood before, she stoode behinde,65
The brothers two drewe nie;
"Our sister now to us resign,
Or thou full sure shalt die."
Then cried the maide, "My brethren deare,
With ye Ile freely wend,70
But harm not this young forrester,
Noe ill doth he pretend."
"Stande up, sweete maide, I plight my troth;
Fall thou not on thy knee;
Ile force thy cruell brothers both75
To bend the knee to thee.
"Stand thou behinde this sturdie oke,
I soone will quell their pride;[Pg 338]
Thoult see my sword with furie smoke,
And in their hearts blood died."80
He set his backe against a tree,
His foote against a stone;
The first blow that he gave so free
Cleft one man to the bone.
The tanners bold they fought right well,85
And it was one to two;
But Robin did them both refell,
All in the damsells viewe.
The red blood ran from Robins brow,
All downe unto his knee;90
"O holde your handes, my brethren now,
I will goe backe with yee."
"Stand backe, stand backe, my pretty maide,
Stand backe and let me fight;
By sweete St. James be no afraide95
But I will it requite."
Then Robin did his sword uplift,
And let it fall againe;
The oldest brothers head it cleft,
Right through unto his braine.100
"O hold thy hand, bolde forrester,
Or ill may thee betide;[Pg 339]
Slay not my youngest brother here,
He is my fathers pride."
"Away, for I would scorne to owe,105
My life to the[e], false maide!"
The youngest cried, and aim'd a blow
That lit on Robins head.
Then Robin leand against the tree,
His life nie gone did seeme;110
His eyes did swim, he could not see
The maiden start betweene.
It was not long ere Robin Hood
Could welde his sword so bright;
Upon his feete he firmly stood,115
And did renew the fight;
Untill the tanner scarce could heave
His weapon in the aire;
But Robin would not him bereave
Of life, and left him there.120
Then to the greenewood did he fly,
And with him went the maide;
For him she vowd that she would dye,
He'd live for her, he said.

Finis. T. Fleming.

[Pg 342]


[Pg 343]


Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 1.

Ritson printed this piece from a black-letter copy in a large and valuable collection of old ballads which successively belonged to Major Pearson, the Duke of Roxburghe, and Mr. Bright, but which is now in the British Museum.

The full title of the original is: A new ballad of bold Robin Hood; shewing his birth, breeding, valour, and marriage at Tilbury Bull-running. Calculated for the meridian of Staffordshire, but may serve for Derbyshire or Kent.

The copy in A Collection of Old Ballads, i. 67, is the same.

Kind gentlemen, will you be patient awhile?
Ay, and then you shall hear anon
A very good ballad of bold Robin Hood,
And of his brave man Little John.
In Locksly town, in merry Nottinghamshire,5
In merry sweet Locksly town,
There bold Robin Hood he was born and was bred,
Bold Robin of famous renown.[Pg 344]
The father of Robin a forrester was,
And he shot in a lusty strong bow,10
Two north country miles and an inch at a shot,
As the Pinder of Wakefield does know.
For he brought Adam Bell, and Clim of the Clough,
And William of Clowdesle,
To shoot with our forrester for forty mark,15
And the forrester beat them all three.
His mother was neece to the Coventry knight,
Which Warwickshire men call sir Guy;
For he slew the blue bore that hangs up at the gate,
Or mine host of the Bull tells a lie.20
Her brother was Gamwel, of Great Gamwel-Hall,
A noble house-keeper was he,
Ay, as ever broke bread in sweet Nottinghamshire,
And a 'squire of famous degree.
The mother of Robin said to her husbànd,25
"My honey, my love, and my dear,
Let Robin and I ride this morning to Gamwel,
To taste of my brother's good cheer."
And he said, "I grant thee thy boon, gentle Joan,
Take one of my horses, I pray:30
The sun is arising, and therefore make haste,
For to-morrow is Christmas-day."
Then Robin Hood's father's grey gelding was brought,
And sadled and bridled was he;[Pg 345]
God wot a blue bonnet, his new suit of cloaths,35
And a cloak that did reach to his knee.
She got on her holyday kirtle and gown,
They were of a light Lincoln green;
The cloath was homespun, but for colour and make
It might a beseem'd our queen.40
And then Robin got on his basket-hilt sword,
And his dagger on his tother side;
And said, "My dear mother, let's haste to be gone,
We have forty long miles to ride."
When Robin had mounted his gelding so grey,45
His father, without any trouble,
Set her up behind him, and bad her not fear,
For his gelding had oft carried double.
And when she was settled, they rode to their neighbours,
And drank and shook hands with them all;50
And then Robin gallopt, and never gave o're,
'Till they lighted at Gamwel-Hall.
And now you may think the right worshipful 'squire
Was joyful his sister to see;
For he kist her, and kist her, and swore a great oath,55
"Thou art welcome, kind sister, to me."
To-morrow, when mass had been said in the chappel,
Six tables were covered in the hall,
And in comes the 'squire, and makes a short speech,
[Pg 346]It was, "Neighbours, you're welcome all.60
"But not a man here shall taste my March beer,
'Till a Christmas carrol he does sing:"
Then all clapt their hands, and they shouted and sung,
'Till the hall and the parlour did ring.
Now mustard and brawn, roast beef and plumb pies,65
Were set upon every table:
And noble George Gamwel said, "Eat and be merry
And drink too as long as you're able."
When dinner was ended, his chaplain said grace,
And, "Be merry, my friends," said the 'squire;70
"It rains, and it blows, but call for more ale,
And lay some more wood on the fire.
"And now call ye Little John hither to me,
For Little John is a fine lad
At gambols and juggling, and twenty such tricks,75
As shall make you both merry and glad.
When Little John came, to gambols they went,
Both gentlemen, yeomen, and clown;
And what do you think? Why, as true as I live,
Bold Robin Hood put them all down.80
And now you may think the right worshipful 'squire
Was joyful this sight for to see;
For he said, "Cousin Robin, thou'st go no more home,
But tarry and dwell here with me.
"Thou shalt have my land when I die, and till then,85
Thou shalt be the staff of my age:"
"Then grant me my boon, dear uncle," said Robin,
"That Little John may be my page."[Pg 347]
And he said, "Kind cousin, I grant thee thy boon;
With all my heart, so let it be;"90
"Then come hither, Little John," said Robin Hood,
"Come hither, my page, unto me.
"Go fetch me my bow, my longest long bow,
And broad arrows, one, two, or three;
For when 'tis fair weather we'll into Sherwood,95
Some merry pastime to see."
When Robin Hood came into merry Sherwood,
He winded his bugle so clear;
And twice five and twenty good yeomen and bold
Before Robin Hood did appear.100
"Where are your companions all?" said Robin Hood,
"For still I want forty and three:"
Then said a bold yeoman, "Lo, yonder they stand,
All under the green wood tree."
As that word was spoke, Clorinda came by,105
The queen of the shepherds was she;
And her gown was of velvet as green as the grass,
And her buskin did reach to her knee.
Her gait it was graceful, her body was straight,
And her countenance free from pride;110
A bow in her hand, and a quiver of arrows
Hung dangling by her sweet side.
Her eye-brows were black, ay, and so was her hair,
And her skin was as smooth as glass;[Pg 348]
Her visage spoke wisdom, and modesty too;215
Sets with Robin Hood such a lass!
Said Robin Hood, "Lady fair, whither away?
O whither, fair lady, away?"
And she made him an answer, "To kill a fat buck;
For to-morrow is Titbury day."120
Said Robin Hood, "Lady fair, wander with me
A little to yonder green bower;
There set down to rest you, and you shall be sure
Of a brace or a leash in an hour."
And as we were going towàrds the green bower,125
Two hundred good bucks we espy'd;
She chose out the fattest that was in the herd,
And she shot him through side and side.
"By the faith of my body," said bold Robin Hood,
"I never saw woman like thee;130
And com'st thou from east, or com'st thou from west,
Thou needst not beg venison of me.
"However, along to my bower you shall go,
And taste of a forrester's meat:"
And when we came thither we found as good cheer135
As any man needs for to eat.
For there was hot venison, and warden pies cold,
Cream clouted, with honey-combs plenty;
And the servitors they were, besides Little John,
[Pg 349]Good yeomen at least four and twenty.140
Clorinda said, "Tell me your name, gentle sir;"
And he said, "'Tis bold Robin Hood:
'Squire Gamwel's my uncle, but all my delight
Is to dwell in the merry Sherwood;
"For 'tis a fine life, and 'tis void of all strife."145
"So 'tis, sir," Clorinda reply'd.
"But oh," said bold Robin, "how sweet would it be,
If Clorinda would be my bride!"
She blusht at the motion; yet, after a pause
Said, "Yes, sir, and with all my heart:"150
"Then let us send for a priest," said Robin Hood,
"And be married before we do part."
But she said, "It may not be so, gentle sir,'
For I must be at Titbury feast;
And if Robin Hood will go thither with me,155
I'll make him the most welcome guest."
Said Robin Hood, "Reach me that buck, Little John,
For I'll go along with my dear;
And bid my yeomen kill six brace of bucks,
And meet me to-morrow just here."160
Before he had ridden five Staffordshire miles,
Eight yeomen, that were too bold,
Bid Robin Hood stand, and deliver his buck;
A truer tale never was told.
"I will not, faith," said bold Robin; "come, John,165
Stand by me, and we'll beat 'em all:"[Pg 350]
Then both drew their swords, and so cut 'em, and slasht 'em,
That five of them did fall.
The three that remain'd call'd to Robin for quarter,
And pitiful John begg'd their lives;170
When John's boon was granted, he gave them good counsel,
And sent them all home to their wives.
This battle was fought near to Titbury town,
When the bagpipes baited the bull;[Pg 351]
I'm the king of the fidlers, and I swear 'tis truth,175
And I call him that doubts it a gull:
For I saw them fighting, and fiddled the while,
And Clorinda sung "Hey derry down!
The bumkins are beaten, put up thy sword, Bob,
And now let's dance into the town."180
Before we came in, we heard a strange shouting,
And all that were in it look'd madly;
For some were on bull-back, some dancing a morris,
And some singing Arthur-a-Bradley.
And there we see Thomas, our justices clerk,185
And Mary, to whom he was kind;
For Tom rode before her, and call'd Mary madam,
And kiss'd her full sweetly behind:
And so may your worships. But we went to dinner,
With Thomas and Mary, and Nan;190
They all drank a health to Clorinda and told her
Bold Robin Hood was a fine man.
When dinner was ended, sir Roger, the parson
Of Dubbridge, was sent for in haste:[Pg 352]
He brought his mass-book, and he bad them take hands,195
And joyn'd them in marriage full fast.
And then, as bold Robin Hood and his sweet bride
Went hand in hand to the green bower,
The birds sung with pleasure in merry Sherwood,
And 'twas a most joyful hour.200
And when Robin came in sight of the bower,
"Where are my yeomen?" said he:
And Little John answer'd, "Lo, yonder they stand,
All under the green wood tree."
Then a garland they brought her by two and by two,205
And plac'd them all on the bride's head:
The music struck up, and we all fell to dance,
'Till the bride and bridegroom were a-bed.
And what they did there must be counsel to me,
Because they lay long the next day;210
And I had haste home, but I got a good piece
Of bride-cake, and so came away.
Now out, alas! I had forgotten to tell ye,
That marry'd they were with a ring;
And so will Nan Knight, or be buried a maiden,215
And now let us pray for the king:
That he may get children, and they may get more,
To govern and do us some good:
And then I'll make ballads in Robin Hood's bower,
And sing 'em in merry Sherwood.220

14, Clowdel le.

48, has.

104, a.

124, lease.

127, choose.

174. Tutbury, or Stutesbury, Staffordshire. This celebrated place lies about four miles from Burton-upon-Trent, on the west bank of the river Don. Its castle, it is supposed, was built a considerable time before the Norman conquest. Being the principal seat of the Dukes of Lancaster, it was long distinguished as the scene of festivity and splendour. The number of minstrels which crowded it was so great, that it was found necessary to have recourse to some expedient for preserving order among them, and determining their claims of precedence. Accordingly, one of their number, with the title of king of the minstrels, was appointed, and under him several inferior officers, to assist in the execution of the laws. To this chief a charter was granted by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, 22nd August, 4th Richard II., 1381. This king of the minstrels and his officers having inflicted fines and punishments which exceeded the due bounds of justice, a court for hearing and determining complaints and controversies was instituted, which was yearly held with many forms and ceremonies. The business of the court being concluded, the officers withdraw to partake of a sumptuous repast, prepared for them by the steward of the lordship. In the afternoon the minstrels assembled at the gate of the priory, where, by way of amusement for the multitude, a bull, having his horns, ears, and tail cut off, his body besmeared with soap, and his nose blown full of pepper, was then let loose. If the minstrels could take and hold him, even so long as to deprive him of the smallest portion of his hair, he was declared their property, provided this was done within the confines of Staffordshire, and before sunset. The bull was next collared and roped, and being brought to the market cross, was baited with dogs. After this he was delivered to the minstrels, who might dispose of him as they deemed proper. Vide Blount's Ancient Tenures, Hawkins's History of Music, Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, for fuller particulars of this ancient custom. Gutch.

[Pg 353]


Gutch's Robin Hood, ii. 88.

This doggerel is by Martin Parker, a well-known author of ballads in the reign of Charles I. and during the Protectorate. The titles of several of his works are given by Ritson, (Robin Hood, i. 127,) and those of others may be seen in Collier's Roxburghe Ballads, 237, 243, and Ritson's Ancient Songs, ii. 257, 263; among these last is the celebrated song, When the king enjoys his own again.

Ritson printed this piece from a black-letter edition dated 1686. Gutch obtained a somewhat better copy from Mr. Collier, which we have here followed. "The date of Mr. Collier's copy is cut off, but enough remains to shew that it was printed at London, 'for T. Cotes, and are to be sold by F. Grove, dwelling upon Snow-hill near the Saracens * * *.' The first edition was entered at Stationers' Hall, 20th February, 1631."

The title in full is: "A True Tale of Robbin Hood, Or, a brief touch of the life and death of that renowned outlaw, Robert, Earle of Huntington, vulgarly called Robbin Hood, who lived and died in 1198, being the 9th yeare of king Richard the first, commonly called Richard Cuer de Lyon; carefully collected out of the truest writers of our English[Pg 354] Chronicles and published for the satisfaction of those who desire to see truth purged from falsehood. By Martin Parker."

At the end of the tale is the following epitaph, "which the prioresse of the monastery of Kirkes Lay in Yorkshire set over Robbin Hood, which was to bee reade within these hundreth yeares (though in old broken English), much to the same sence and meaning."

Decembris quarto die 1198. anno regni Richardii primi 9.

Robert earle of Huntington
Lies under this little stone.
No archer was like him so good;
His wildnesse named him Robbin Hood.
Full thirteene yeares and something more,
These northern parts he vexed sore;
Such outlawes as hee and his men,
May England never know agen.

"Some other superstitious words were in it, which I thought fit to leave out." M. P.

Both gentlemen, or yeomen bould,
Or whatsoever you are,
To have a stately story tould
Attention now prepare.
It is a tale of Robin Hood,5
Which I to you will tell,
Which being rightly understood,
I know will please you well.[Pg 355]
This Robbin (so much talked on)
Was once a man of fame,10
Instiled earle of Huntington,
Lord Robert Hood by name.
In courtship and magnificence
His carriage won him prayse,
And greater favour with his prince15
Than any in his dayes.
In bounteous liberality
He too much did excell,
And loved men of quality
More than exceeding well.20
His great revennues all he sould
For wine and costly cheere;
He kept three hundred bowmen bold,
He shooting loved so deare.
No archer living in his time25
With him might well compare:
He practis'd all his youthfull prime
That exercise most rare.
At last, by his profuse expence,
He had consum'd his wealth;30
And being outlawed by his prince,
In woods he liv'd by stealth.
The abbot of Saint Maries rich,
To whom he mony ought,
His hatred to the earle was such35
That he his downefall wrought.[Pg 356]
So being outlaw'd (as 'tis told)
He with a crew went forth
Of lusty cutters stout and bold,
And robbed in the North.40
Among the rest one Little John,
A yeoman bold and free,
Who could (if it stood him upon)
With ease encounter three.
One hundred men in all he got,45
With whom (the story sayes)
Three hundred commen men durst not
Hold combat any wayes.
They Yorkshire woods frequented much,
And Lancashire also,50
Wherein their practises were such
That they wrought mickle woe.
None rich durst travell to and fro,
Though nere so strongly arm'd,
But by these theeves (so strong in show)55
They still were rob'd and harm'd.
His chiefest spight to th' clergie was,
That liv'd in monstrous pride:
No one of them he would let passe
Along the highway side,60
But first they must to dinner go,
And afterwards to shrift:
Full many a one he served so,
Thus while he liv'd by theft.[Pg 357]
No monks nor fryers would he let goe,65
Without paying their fees:
If they thought much to be us'd so,
Their stones he made them leese.
For such as they the country fill'd
With bastards in those dayes;70
Which to prevent, these sparkes did geld
All that came by their ways.
But Robbin Hood so gentle was,
And bore so brave a minde,
If any in distresse did passe,75
To them he was so kinde,
That he would give and lend to them,
To helpe them in their neede;
This made all poore men pray for him,
And wish he well might speede.80
The widdow and the fatherlesse
He would send meanes unto;
And those whom famine did oppresse
Found him a friendly foe.
Nor would he doe a woman wrong,85
But see her safe conveid:
He would protect with power strong
All those who crav'd his ayde.
The abbot of Saint Maries then,
Who him undid before,90
Was riding with two hundred men,
And gold and silver store.[Pg 358]
But Robbin Hood upon him set,
With his couragious sparkes,
And all the coyne perforce did get,95
Which was twelve thousand markes.
He bound the abbot to a tree,
And would not let him passe,
Before that to his men and he
His lordship had said masse.100
Which being done, upon his horse
He set him fast astride,
And with his face towards his——
He forced him to ride.
His men were faine to be his guide,105
For he rode backward home:
The abbot, being thus villified,
Did sorely chafe and fume.
Thus Robbin Hood did vindicate
His former wrongs receiv'd;110
For 'twas this covetous prelàte
That him of land bereav'd.
The abbot he rode to the king,
With all the haste he could,
And to his grace he every thing115
Exactly did unfold:
And sayd if that no course were ta'en,
By force or stratagem,
To take this rebel and his traine,
[Pg 359]No man should passe for them.120
The king protested by and by
Unto the abbot then,
That Robbin Hood with speed should dye,
With all his merry men.
But e're the king did any send,125
He did another feate,
Which did his grace much more offend,
The fact indeed was great.
For in a short time after that
The kings receivers went130
Towards London with the coyne they got,
For 's highness northerne rent.
Bold Robbin Hood and Little John,
With the rest of their traine,
Not dreading law, set them upon,135
And did their gold obtaine.
The king much moved at the same,
And the abbots talke also,
In this his anger did proclaime,
And sent word to and fro,140
That whosoe'er alive or dead
Could bring bold Robbin Hood,
Should have one thousand markes well paid
In gold and silver good.
This promise of the king did make145
Full many yeomen bold
Attempt stout Robbin Hood to take,
With all the force they could.[Pg 360]
But still when any came to him
Within the gay greene wood,150
He entertainement gave to them
With venison fat and good;
And shew'd to them such martiale sport
With his long bow and arrow,
That they of him did give report,155
How that it was great sorow,
That such a worthy man as he
Should thus be put to shift,
Being late a lord of high degree,
Of living quite bereft.160
The king to take him, more and more
Sent men of mickle might;
But he and his still beate them sore,
And conquered them in fight:
Or else with love and courtesie,165
To him he won their hearts.
Thus still he lived by robbery
Throughout the northerne parts;
And all the country stood in dread
Of Robbin Hood and 's men:170
For stouter lads ne're liv'd by bread
In those days, nor since then.
The abbot which before I nam'd
Sought all the meanes he could
To have by force this rebele ta'ne,175
And his adherents bold.[Pg 361]
Therefore he arm'd five hundred men,
With furniture compleate;
But the outlawes slewe halfe of them,
And made the rest retreate.180
The long bow and the arrow keene
They were so us'd unto,
That still he kept the forrest greene
In spite o' th' proudest foe.
Twelve of the abbots men he tooke,185
Who came him to have ta'ne,
When all the rest the field forsooke;
These he did entertaine
With banquetting and merriment,
And, having us'd them well,190
He to their lord them safely sent,
And will'd them him to tell,
That if he would be pleas'd at last
To beg of our good king
That he might pardon what was past,195
And him to favour bring,
He would surrender backe again
The money which before
Was taken by him and his men
From him and many more.200
Poore men might safely passe by him,
And some that way would chuse,
For well they knew that to helpe them
He evermore did use.[Pg 362]
But where he knew a miser rich205
That did the poore oppresse,
To feel his coyne his hands did itch;
He'd have it, more or lesse.
And sometimes, when the high-way fayl'd,
Then he his courage rouses,210
He and his men have oft assayld
Such rich men in their houses.
So that, through dread of Robbin then,
And his adventurous crew,
The mizers kept great store of men,215
Which else maintayn'd but few.
King Richard of that name the first,
Sirnamed Cuer de Lyon,
Went to defeate the Pagans curst,
Who kept the coasts of Syon.220
The bishop of Ely, chancelor,
Was left a vice-roy here,
Who like a potent emperor
Did proudly domminere.
Our chronicles of him report,225
That commonly he rode
With a thousand horse from court to court,
Where he would make abode.
He, riding down towards the north,
With his aforesayd train,230
Robbin and his men did issue forth,
Them all to entertaine;[Pg 363]
And with the gallant gray-goose wing
They shewd to them such playe,
That made their horses kicke and fling,235
And downe their riders lay.
Full glad and faine the bishop was,
For all his thousand men,
To seek what meanes he could to passe
From out of Robbins ken.240
Two hundred of his men were kil'd,
And fourescore horses good;
Thirty, who did as captives yeeld,
Were carryed to the greene wood;
Which afterwards were ransomed,245
For twenty markes a man;
The rest set spurres to horse, and fled
To th' town of Warrington.
The bishop sore enraged then,
Did, in king Richards name,250
Muster a power of northerne men,
These outlawes bold to tame.
But Robbin with his courtesie
So wonne the meaner sort,
That they were loath on him to try255
What rigor did import.
So that bold Robbin and his traine
Did live unhurt of them,
Untill king Richard came againe
[Pg 364]From faire Jerusalem.260
And then the talke of Robbin Hood
His royal eares did fill;
His grace admir'd that i' th' greene wood
He thus continued still.
So that the country farre and neare265
Did give him great applause;
For none of them neede stand in feare,
But such as broke the lawes.
He wished well unto the king,
And prayed still for his health,270
And never practis'd any thing
Against the common-wealth.
Onely, because he was undone
By th' crewele clergie then,
All meanes that he could thinke upon275
To vexe such kinde of men,
He enterpriz'd with hateful spleene;
For which he was to blame,
For fault of some to wreake his teene
On all that by him came.280
With wealth which he by robbery got
Eight almes-houses he built,
Thinking thereby to purge the blot
Of blood which he had spilt.
Such was their blinde devotion then,285
Depending on their workes;
Which, if 'twere true, we Christian men
Inferiour were to Turkes.[Pg 365]
But, to speak true of Robbin Hood,
And wrong him not a jot,290
He never would shed any mans blood
That him invaded not.
Nor would he injure husbandmen,
That toyld at cart and plough;
For well he knew, were't not for them295
To live no man knew how.
The king in person, with some lords,
To Nottingham did ride,
To try what strength and skill affords
To crush these outlaws pride.300
And, as he once before had done,
He did againe proclaime,
That whosoe'er would take upon
To bring to Nottingham,
Or any place within the land,305
Rebellious Robbin Hood,
Should be prefer'd in place to stand
With those of noble blood.
When Robbin Hood heard of the same,
Within a little space,310
Into the towne of Nottingham
A letter to his grace
He shot upon an arrow head,
One evening cunningly;
Which was brought to the king, and read315
Before his majestie.[Pg 366]
The tennure of this letter was
That Robbin would submit,
And be true liegeman to his grace
In any thing that's fit,320
So that his highnesse would forgive
Him and his merry men all;
If not, he must i' th' green wood live,
And take what chance did fall.
The king would faine have pardoned him,325
But that some lords did say
"This president will much condemn
Your grace another day."
While that the king and lords did stay
Debating on this thing,330
Some of these outlawes fled away
Unto the Scottish king.
For they suppos'd, if he were tane,
Or to the king did yeeld,
By th' commons all the rest of 's train335
Full quickely would be quell'd.
Of more than full an hundred men,
But forty tarryed still,
Who were resolv'd to sticke to him
Let fortune worke her will.340
If none had fled, all for his sake
Had got their pardon free;
The king to favour meant to take
His merry men and he.[Pg 367]
But e're the pardon to him came345
This famous archer dy'd:
His death and manner of the same
I'le presently describe.
For, being vext to think upon
His followers revolt,350
In melancholly passiòn
He did recount his fault.
"Perfideous traytors!" sayd he then,
"In all your dangers past
Have I you guarded as my men,355
To leave me thus at last!"
This sad perplexity did cause
A feaver, as some say,
Which him unto confusion drawes,
Though by a stranger way.360
This deadly danger to prevent,
He hie'd him with all speede
Unto a nunnery, with intent
For his healths-sake to bleede.
A faithlesse fryer did pretend365
In love to let him blood,
But he by falshood wrought the end
Of famous Robbin Hood.
The fryer, as some say, did this
To vindicate the wrong370
Which to the clergy he and his
Had done by power strong.[Pg 368]
Thus dyed he by trechery,
That could not dye by force:
Had he liv'd longer, certainely375
King Richard, in remorse,
Had unto favour him receiv'd,
His brave men elevated:
'Tis pitty he was of life bereav'd
By one which he so hated.380
A treacherous leach this fryer was,
To let him bleed to death;
And Robbin was, methinks, an asse
To trust him with his breath.
His corpse the prioress of the place,385
The next day that he dy'd,
Caused to be buried, in mean case,
Close by the high-way side.
And over him she caused a stone
To be fixed on the ground;390
An epitaph was set thereon,
Wherein his name was found.
The date o' th' yeare, and day also,
Shee made to be set there,
That all who by the way did goe395
Might see it plain appeare,
That such a man as Robbin Hood
Was buried in that place;
And how he lived in the greene wood
[Pg 369]And robb'd there for a space.400
It seemes that though the clergie he
Had put to mickle woe,
He should not quite forgotten be,
Although he was their foe.
This woman, though she did him hate,405
Yet loved his memory;
And thought it wondrous pitty that
His fame should with him dye.
This epitaph, as records tell,
Within this hundred yeares,410
By many was discerned well,
But time all things out-weares.
His followers, when he was dead,
Were some receiv'd to grace;
The rest to forraign countries fled,415
And left their native place.
Although his funerall was but mean,
This woman had in minde,
Least his fame should be buried clean
From those that came behind.420
For certainly, before nor since,
No man e're understood,
Under the reign of any prince,
Of one like Robbin Hood.
Full thirteene years, and something more,425
These outlawes lived thus,[Pg 370]
Feared of the rich, loved of the poor,
A thing most marvelous.
A thing unpossible to us
This story seems to be;430
None dares be now so venturous,
But times are chang'd we see.
We that live in these later dayes
Of civile government,
If need be, have an hundred wayes435
Such outlawes to prevent.
In those days men more barbarous were,
And lived less in awe;
Now (God be thanked) people feare
More to offend the law.440
No roaring guns were then in use,
They dreampt of no such thing;
Our Englishmen in fight did chuse
The gallant gray-goose wing:
In which activity these men,445
Through practice, were so good,
That in those days none equal'd them,
Specially Robbin Hood.
So that, it seemes, keeping in caves,
In woods and forests thicke,450
They'd beate a multitude with staves,
Their arrowes did so pricke.[Pg 371]
And none durst neare unto them come,
Unlesse in courtesie;
All such he bravely would send home,455
With mirth and jollity.
Which courtesie won him such love,
As I before have told,
'Twas the cheef cause that he did prove
More prosperous than he could.460
Let us be thankefull for these times
Of plenty, truth, and peace;
And leave out great and horrid crimes,
Least they cause this to cease.
I know there's many fained tales465
Of Robbin Hood and 's crew;
But chronicles, which seldom fayles,
Reports this to be true.
Let none then thinke this is a lye,
For, if 'twere put to th' worst,470
They may the truth of all discry
I' th' raigne of Richard the first.
If any reader please to try,
As I direction show,
The truth of this brave history,475
Hee'll find it true I know.
And I shall think my labour well
Bestowed to purpose good,
When't shall be said that I did tell
True tales of Robbin Hood.480

412, times.

[Pg 372]


"This ballad is given from an old black-letter copy in the collection of Anthony à Wood. Its full title is, A famous battle between Robin Hood and Maid Marian; declaring their love, life, and liberty. Tune, Robin Hood Reviv'd." Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 161.

A bonny fine-maid of a noble degree,
With a hey down, down, a down, down,
Maid Marian call'd by name,
Did live in the North, of excellent worth,
For shee was a gallant dame.
For favour and face, and beauty most rare,5
Queen Hellen shee did excell:
For Marian then was prais'd of all men
That did in the country dwell.
'Twas neither Rosamond nor Jane Shore,
Whose beauty was clear and bright,10
That could surpass this country lass,
Beloved of lord and knight.
The earl of Huntington, nobly born,
That came of noble blood,
To Marian went, with a good intent,15
By the name of Robin Hood.[Pg 373]
With kisses sweet their red lips did meet,
For she and the earl did agree;
In every place, they kindly embrace,
With love and sweet unity.20
But fortune bearing these lovers a spight,
That soon they were forc'd to part,
To the merry green-wood then went Robin Hood,
With a sad and sorrowfull heart.
And Marian, poor soul, was troubled in mind,25
For the absence of her friend;
With finger in eye, shee often did cry,
And his person did much comend.
Perplexed and vexed, and troubled in mind,
She drest herself like a page,30
And ranged the wood, to find Robin Hood,
The bravest of men in that age.
With quiver and bow, sword, buckler, and all,
Thus armed was Marian most bold,
Still wandering about, to find Robin out,35
Whose person was better then gold.
But Robin Hood, hee himself had disguis'd,
And Marian was strangly attir'd,
That they prov'd foes, and so fell to blowes,
Whose vallour bold Robin admir'd.40
They drew out their swords, and to cutting they went,
At least an hour or more,[Pg 374]
That the blood ran apace from bold Robins face,
And Marian was wounded sore.
"O hold thy hand, hold thy hand," said Robin Hood,45
"And thou shalt be one of my string,
To range in the wood with bold Robin Hood,
To hear the sweet nightingall sing."
When Marian did hear the voice of her love,
Her self shee did quickly discover,50
And with kisses sweet she did him greet,
Like to a most loyall lover.
When bold Robin Hood his Marian did see,
Good lord, what clipping was there!
With kind embraces, and jobbing of faces,55
Providing of gallant cheer.
For Little John took his bow in his hand,
And wandred in the wood,
To kill the deer, and make good chear
For Marian and Robin Hood.60
A stately banquet they had full soon,
All in a shaded bower,
Where venison sweet they had to eat,
And were merry that present hour.
Great flaggons of wine were set on the board,65
And merrily they drunk round[Pg 375]
Their boules of sack, to strengthen the back,
Whilst their knees did touch the ground.
First Robin Hood began a health
To Marian his onely dear;70
And his yeomen all, both comly and tall,
Did quickly bring up the rear.
For in a brave vein they tost off the bouls,
Whilst thus they did remain;
And every cup, as they drunk up,75
They filled with speed again.
At last they ended their merryment,
And went to walk in the wood,
Where Little John and maid Marian
Attended on bold Robin Hood.80
In sollid content together they liv'd,
With all their yeomen gay;
They liv'd by their hands, without any lands,
And so they did many a day.
But now to conclude, an end I will make,85
In time as I think it good;
For the people that dwell in the north can tell
Of Marian and bold Robin Hood.

58, wandring.

73, venie.

[Pg 376]


This wretched production is evidently founded on the Lytell Geste. It was printed by Ritson from "the common collection of Aldermary Churchyard." One or two improvements were made by Gutch from a York edition. Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 166; Gutch's Robin Hood, ii. 281.

King Richard hearing of the pranks
Of Robin Hood and his men,
He much admir'd, and more desir'd,
To see both him and them.
Then with a dozen of his lords5
To Nottingham he rode;
When he came there, he made good cheer,
And took up his abode.
He having staid there some time,
But had no hopes to speed,10
He and his lords, with one accord,
All put on monks' weeds.
From Fountain abbey they did ride,
Down to Barnsdale;
Where Robin Hood preparèd stood15
All company to assail.[Pg 377]
The king was higher than the rest,
And Robin thought he had
An abbot been whom he had seen;
To rob him he was glad.20
He took the kings horse by the head,
"Abbot," says he, "abide;
I am bound to rue such knaves as you,
That live in pomp and pride."
"But we are messengers from the king,"25
The king himself did say;
"Near to this place his royal grace
To speak with thee does stay."
"God save the king," said Robin Hood,
"And all that wish him well;30
He that does deny his sovereignty,
I wish he was in hell."
"Thyself thou cursedst," says the king,
"For thou a traitor art:"
"Nay, but that you are his messenger,35
I swear you lie in heart.
"For I never yet hurt any man
That honest is and true;
But those who give their minds to live
Upon other mens due.40
"I never hurt the husbandmen,
That use to till the ground:
Nor spill their blood who range the wood
To follow hawk or hound.[Pg 378]
"My chiefest spite to clergy is,45
Who in these days bear great sway;
With fryars and monks, and their fine sprunks,
I make my chiefest prey.
"But I am glad," says Robin Hood,
"That I have met you here;50
Before we end, you shall, my friend,
Taste of our green-wood cheer."
The king he then did marvel much,
And so did all his men;
They thought with fear, what kind of cheer55
Robin would provide for them.
Robin took the kings horse by the head,
And led him to his tent:
"Thou wouldst not be so us'd," quoth he,
"But that my king thee sent.60
"Nay, more than that," quoth Robin Hood,
"For good king Richards sake,
If you had as much gold as ever I told,
I would not one penny take."
Then Robin set his horn to his mouth,65
And a loud blast he did blow,
Till a hundred and ten of Robin Hoods men,
Came marching all of a row.
And when they came bold Robin before,
Each man did bend his knee:70
"O," thought the king, "'tis a gallant thing
And a seemly sight to see."[Pg 379]
Within himself the king did say,
"These men of Robin Hoods
More humble be than mine to me;75
So the court may learn of the woods."
So then they all to dinner went,
Upon a carpet green;
Black, yellow, red, finely minglèd,
Most curious to be seen.80
Venison and fowls were plenty there,
With fish out of the river:
King Richard swore, on sea or shore,
He never was feasted better.
Then Robin takes a cann of ale:85
"Come, let us now begin;
And every man shall have his cann;
Here's a health unto the king."
The king himself drank to the king,
So round about it went;90
Two barrels of ale, both stout and stale,
To pledge that health was spent.
And after that, a bowl of wine
In his hand took Robin Hood;
"Until I die, I'll drink wine," said he,95
"While I live in the green-wood.
"Bend all your bows," said Robin Hood,
"And with the grey goose-wing
Such sport now show, as you would do
[Pg 380]In the presence of the king."100
They shewed such brave archery
By cleaving sticks and wands,
That the king did say, such men as they
Live not in many lands.
"Well, Robin Hood," then says the king,105
"If I could thy pardon get,
To serve the king in every thing
Wouldst thou thy mind firm set?"
"Yes, with all my heart," bold Robin said,
So they flung off their hoods;110
To serve the king in every thing,
They swore they would spend their bloods.
"For a clergyman was first my bane,
Which makes me hate them all;
But if you will be so kind to me,115
Love them again I shall."
The king no longer could forbear,
For he was mov'd with ruth,
"Robin," said he, "I'll now tell thee
The very naked truth.120
"I am the king, thy sovereign king,
That appears before you all:"
When Robin saw that it was he,
Strait then he down did fall.
"Stand up again," then said the king,125
"I'll thee thy pardon give;[Pg 381]
Stand up, my friend; who can contend,
When I give leave to live?"
So they are all gone to Nottingham,
All shouting as they came:130
But when the people them did see,
They thought the king was slain;
And for that cause th' outlaws were come,
To rule all as they list;
And for to shun, which way to run,135
The people did not wist.
The plowman left the plow in the field,
The smith ran from his shop;
Old folks also, that scarce could go,
Over their sticks did hop.140
The king did soon let them understand
He had been in the green-wood,
And from that day, for evermore,
He'd forgiven Robin Hood.
Then [when] the people they did hear,145
And [that] the truth was known,
They all did sing, "God save the king!
Hang care, the town's our own!"
"What's that Robin Hood?" then said the sheriff,
"That varlet I do hate;150
Both me and mine he caus'd to dine,
And serv'd us all with one plate."[Pg 382]
"Ho, ho," said Robin Hood, "I know what you mean;
Come, take your gold again;
Be friends with me, and I with thee,155
And so with every man.
"Now, master sheriff, you are paid,
And since you are beginner,
As well as you give me my due,
For you ne'er paid for that dinner.160
"But if that it should please the king
So much your house to grace,
To sup with you, for, to speak true,
[I] know you ne'er was base."
The sheriff could not that gainsay,165
For a trick was put upon him;
A supper was drest, the king was a guest,
But he thought 'twould have outdone him.
They are all gone to London court,
Robin Hood, with all his train;170
He once was there a noble peer,
And now he's there again.
Many such pranks brave Robin play'd,
While he liv'd in the green-wood:
Now, my friend, attend, and hear an end175
Of honest Robin Hood.

119, 120. Wanting in Ritson; supplied by Gutch.

175, 176. The two concluding lines refer to Robin Hood and the Valiant Knight, (see p. 888,) which ballad in some collections follows the present.

[Pg 383]


Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 175. From an Aldermary-Churchyard Garland. Perhaps by the same feeble and vulgar hand as the preceding, and, like that, founded on the Lytell Geste.

When as the sheriff of Nottingham
Was come with mickle grief,
He talk'd no good of Robin Hood,
That strong and sturdy thief.
Fal la dal de.
So unto London road he past,5
His losses to unfold
To king Richàrd, who did regard
The tale that he had told.
"Why," quoth the king, "what shall I do?
Art thou not sheriff for me"10
The law is in force, to take thy course
Of them that injure thee.
"Go get thee gone, and by thyself
Devise some tricking game[Pg 384]
For to enthral yon rebels all;15
Go take thy course with them."
So away the sheriff he return'd,
And by the way he thought
Of th' words of the king, and how the thing
To pass might well be brought.20
For within his mind he imagined,
That when such matches were,
Those outlaws stout, without all doubt,
Would be the bowmen there.
So an arrow with a golden head25
And shaft of silver-white,
Who won the day should bear away
For his own proper right.
Tidings came to bold Robin Hood,
Under the green-wood tree:30
"Come prepare you then, my merry men,
We'll go yon sport to see."
With that stept forth a brave young man,
David of Doncastèr:
"Master," said he, "be rul'd by me,35
From the green-wood we'll not stir.
"To tell the truth, I'm well inform'd
Yon match it is a wile;
The sheriff, i-wiss, devises this
[Pg 385]Us archers to beguile."40
"Thou smells of a coward," said Robin Hood,
"Thy words do not please me;
Come on't what will, I'll try my skill,
At yon brave archery."
O then bespoke brave Little John,45
"Come let us thither gang;
Come, listen to me, how it shall be
That we need not be ken'd.
"Our mantles, all of Lincoln-green,
Behind us we will leave;50
We'll dress us all so several,
They shall not us perceive.
"One shall wear white, another red,
One yellow, another blue;
Thus in disguise, to the exercise55
We'll gang, whate'er ensue."
Forth from the green-wood they are gone,
With hearts all firm and stout,
Resolving [then] with the sheriffs men
To have a hearty bout.60
So themselves they mixèd with the rest,
To prevent all suspicion;
For if they should together hold
They thought it no discretion.
So the sheriff looked round about,65
Amongst eight hundred men,
But could not see the sight that he
Had long suspected then.[Pg 386]
Some said, "If Robin Hood was here,
And all his men to boot,70
Sure none of them could pass these men,
So bravely they do shoot."
"Ay," quoth the sheriff, and scratch'd his head,
"I thought he would have been here;
I thought he would, but tho' he's bold,75
He durst not now appear."
O that word griev'd Robin Hood to the heart;
He vexèd in his blood;
Ere long, thought he, thou shalt well see
That here was Robin Hood.80
Some cried "Blue jacket!" another cried "Brown!"
And a third cried "Brave Yellow!"
But the fourth man said, "Yon man in red
In this place has no fellow."
For that was Robin Hood himself,85
For he was cloath'd in red;
At every shot the prize he got,
For he was both sure and dead.
So the arrow with the golden head
And shaft of silver-white,90
Brave Robin Hood won, and bore with him
For his own proper right.
These outlaws there, that very day,
To shun all kinds of doubt,[Pg 387]
By three or four, no less nor more,95
As they went in came out;
Until they all assembled were
Under the green-wood shade,
Where they report, in pleasant sport,
What brave pastime they made.100
Says Robin Hood, "All my care is,
How that yon sheriff may
Know certainly that it was I
That bore his arrow away."
Says Little John, "My counsel good105
Did take effect before,
So therefore now, if you'll allow,
I will advise once more."
"Speak on, speak on," said Robin Hood,
"Thy wit's both quick and sound,110
I know no man among us can
For wit like thee be found."
"This I advise," said Little John;
"That a letter shall be penn'd,
And when it is done, to Nottingham115
You to the sheriff shall send."
"That is well advised," said Robin Hood,
"But how must it be sent?"
"Pugh! when you please, 'tis done with ease;
[Pg 388]Master, be you content.120
"I'll stick it on my arrows head,
And shoot it into the town;
The mark will show where it must go,
Whenever it lights down."
The project it was well perform'd;125
The sheriff that letter had,
Which when he read, he scratch'd his head,
And rav'd like one that's mad.
So we'll leave him chafing in his grease,
Which will do him no good;130
Now, my friends, attend, and hear the end
Of honest Robin Hood.

27, on the day. Ritson.

111, 112. Wanting in Ritson; supplied by Gutch, from a York edition.

131, 132. These lines, like the last two of the preceding ballad, refer to Robin Hood and the Valiant Knight.


Together with an account of his death and burial, &c. Tune of Robin Hood and the fifteen foresters.

"From the common garland of Aldermary-churchyard; corrected by the York copy." Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 182.

When Robin Hood and his merry men all,
Derry down, down,
Had reigned many years,
The king was then told that they had been bold
To his bishops and noble peers.
Hey down, derry, derry down.[Pg 389]
Therefore they called a council of state,5
To know what was best to be done
For to quell their pride, or else they reply'd
The land would be over-run.
Having consulted a whole summers day,
At length it was agreed10
That one should be sent to try the event,
And fetch him away with speed.
Therefore a trusty and most worthy knight
The king was pleas'd to call,
Sir William by name; when to him he came,15
He told him his pleasure all.
"Go you from hence to bold Robin Hood,
And bid him, without more ado,
Surrender himself, or else the proud elf
Shall suffer with all his crew.20
"Take here a hundred bowmen brave,
All chosen men of great might,
Of excellent art to take thy part,
In glittering armour most bright."
Then said the knight, "My sovereign liege,25
By me they shall be led;
I'll venture my blood against bold Robin Hood,
And bring him alive or dead."
One hundred men were chosen straight,
As proper as e'er men saw:30
On Midsummer-day they march'd away,
To conquer that brave outlaw.[Pg 390]
With long yew bows and shining spears,
They marched with mickle pride,
And never delay'd, nor halted, nor stay'd,35
Till they came to the green-wood side.
Said he to his archers, "Tarry here;
Your bows make ready all,
That, if need should be, you may follow me;
And see you observe my call.40
"I'll go first in person," he cry'd,
"With the letters of my good king,
Well sign'd and seal'd, and if he will yield,
"We need not to draw one string."
He wander'd about till at length he came45
To the tent of Robin Hood;
The letter he shows; bold Robin arose,
And there on his guard he stood.
"They'd have me surrender," quoth bold Robin Hood,
"And lie at their mercy then;50
But tell them from me, that never shall be,
While I have full seven score men."
Sir William the knight, both hardy and bold,
He offer'd to seize him there,
Which William Locksley by fortune did see,55
And bid him that trick to forbear.
Then Robin Hood set his horn to his mouth,
And blew a blast or twain,[Pg 391]
And so did the knight, at which there in sight
The archers came all amain.60
Sir William with care he drew up his men,
And plac'd them in battle array;
Bold Robin, we find, he was not behind;
Now this was a bloody fray.
The archers on both sides bent their bows,65
And the clouds of arrows flew;
The very first flight, that honour'd knight
Did there bid the world adieu.
Yet nevertheless their fight did last
From morning till almost noon;70
Both parties were stout and loth to give out,
This was on the last day of June.
At length they left off; one party they went
To London with right good will;
And Robin Hood he to the green-wood tree,75
And there he was taken ill.
He sent for a monk, to let him blood,
Who took his life away:
Now this being done, his archers they run,
It was not a time to stay.80
Some got on board, and cross'd the seas
To Flanders, France, and Spain,
And others to Rome, for fear of their doom,
But soon return'd again.

[Pg 392]


From Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, ii. 1.

Mony ane talks o' the grass, the grass,
And mony ane o' the corn,
And mony ane talks o' gude Robin Hood,
Kens little whar he was born.
He was gotten in a earl's ha',5
And in a lady's bower,
And born into gude greenwood,
Thro' mony cauld winter's shower.
His father was the earl's own steward,
Sprung frae sma' pedigree;10
His mother, Earl Huntingdon's ae daughter,
For he had nane else but she.
When nine months were near an end,
And eight months they were gone;
The lady's cheeks wi' tears were wet,15
And thus she made her moan:—
"What shall I say, my love, Archibald,
This day for you and me?
I will be laid in cauld irons,
[Pg 393]And ye'll be hanged on tree."20
"What aileth my love Clementina?
What gars you mourn sae sair?"
"You know," said she, "I'm with child to thee,
These eight lang months and mair."
"Will ye gae to my mother's bower,25
Stands on yon stately green?
Or will ye gae to the gude greenwood,
Where ye will not be seen?"
"I winna gang to your mother's bower,
Stands on yon stately green;30
But I will on to gude greenwood,
For I will not be seen."
He's girt his sword down by his side,
Took his lady by the hand;
And they are on thro' gude greenwood,35
As fast as they could gang.
With slowly steps these couple walk'd,
About miles scarcely three;
When this lady, being sair wearied out,
Lay down beneath a tree.40
"O for a few of yon junipers,
To cheer my heart again;
And likewise for a gude midwife,
To ease me of my pain."
"I'll bring to you yon junipers,45
To cheer your heart again;
And I'll be to you a gude midwife,
To ease you of your pain."[Pg 394]
"Had far awa' frae me, Archibald,
For this will never dee;50
That's nae the fashion o' our land,
And its nae be used by me.
"Ye'll take your small sword by your side,
Your buckler and your bow;
And ye'll gae down thro' gude greenwood,55
And hunt the deer and roe.
"You will stay in gude green wood,
And with the chase go on;
Until yon white hind pass you by,
Then straight to me ye'll come."60
He's girt his sword then by his side,
His buckler and his bow;
And he is on thro' gude greenwood,
To hunt the deer and roe.
And in the greenwood he did stay,65
And with the chase gaed on,
Until the white hind pass'd him by,
Then to his love he came.
He girt his sword then by his side,
Fast thro' greenwood went he;70
And there he found his love lie dead,
Beneath the green oak tree.
The sweet young babe that she had born
Right lively seemed to be;
"Ohon, alas!" said young Archibald,75
"A mournful scene to me![Pg 395]
"Altho' my sweet babe is alive,
This does increase my woe;
How to nourish a motherless babe
Is mair than I do know."80
He looked east, he looked west,
To see what he could see;
Then spied the Earl o' Huntingdon,
And mony a man him wi'.
Then Archibald fled from the earl's face,85
Among the leaves sae green,
That he might hear what might be said,
And see, and nae be seen.
The earl straight thro' the greenwood came,
Unto the green oak tree;90
And there he saw his daughter dead,
Her living child her wi'.
Then he's taen up the little boy,
Rowed him in his gown sleeve;
Said, "Tho' your father's to my loss,95
Your mother's to me leave.
"And if ye live until I die,
My bowers and lands ye'se heir;
You are my only daughter's child,
But her I never had mair.100
"Ye'se hae all kinds of nourishment,
And likewise nurses three;
If I knew where the fause knave were,
High hanged should he be."[Pg 396]
His daughter he buried in gude church-yard,105
All in a mournful mood;
And brought the boy to church that day,
And christen'd him Robin Hood.
This boy was bred in the earl's ha',
Till he became a man;110
But loved to hunt in gude green wood
To raise his noble fame.


From Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, i. 67. See p. 173.

Now word is gane thro' a' the land,
Gude seal that it sae spread!
To Rose the Red and White Lillie,
Their mither dear was dead.
Their father's married a bauld woman,5
And brought her ower the sea;
Twa sprightly youths, her ain young sons,
Intill her companie.
They fix'd their eyes on those ladies,
On shipboard as they stood,10
And sware, if ever they wan to land,
These ladies they wou'd wed.[Pg 397]
But there was nae a quarter past,
A quarter past but three,
Till these young luvers a' were fond15
O' others companie.
The knights they harped i' their bower,
The ladies sew'd and sang;
There was mair mirth in that chamer
Than a' their father's lan'.20
Then out it spak their step-mither,
At the stair-foot stood she;
"I'm plagued wi' your troublesome noise,
What makes your melodie?
"O Rose the Red, ye sing too loud,25
While Lillie your voice is strang;
But gin I live and brook my life,
I'se gar you change your sang."
"We maunna change our loud, loud song,
For nae duke's son ye'll bear;30
We winna change our loud, loud song,
But aye we'll sing the mair.
"We never sung the sang, mither,
But we'll sing ower again;
We'll take our harps into our hands,35
And we'll harp, and we'll sing."
She's call'd upon her twa young sons,
Says, "Boun ye for the sea;
Let Rose the Red, and White Lillie,
[Pg 398]Stay in their bower wi' me."40
"O God forbid," said her eldest son,
"Nor lat it ever be,
Unless ye were as kind to our luves
As gin we were them wi."
"Yet never the less, my pretty sons,45
Ye'll boun you for the faem;
Let Rose the Red, and White Lillie,
Stay in their bowers at hame."
"O when wi' you we came alang,
We felt the stormy sea;50
And where we go, ye ne'er shall know,
Nor shall be known by thee."
Then wi' her harsh and boisterous word,
She forc'd these lads away;
While Rose the Red and White Lillie55
Still in their bowers did stay.
But there was not a quarter past,
A quarter past but ane;
Till Rose the Red in rags she gaed,
White Lillie's claithing grew thin.60
Wi' bitter usage every day,
The ladies they thought lang;
"Ohon, alas!" said Rose the Red,
"She's gar'd us change our sang.
"But we will change our own fu' names,65
And we'll gang frae the town;
Frae Rose the Red and White Lillie,
To Nicholas and Roger Brown.[Pg 399]
"And we will cut our green claithing
A little aboon our knee;70
And we will on to gude greenwood,
Twa bauld bowmen to be."
"Ohon, alas!" said White Lillie,
"My fingers are but sma';
And tho' my hands wou'd wield the bow,75
They winna yield at a'."
"O had your tongue now, White Lillie,
And lat these fears a' be;
There's naething that ye're awkward in
But I will learn thee."80
Then they are on to gude greenwood
As fast as gang cou'd they;
O then they spied him, Robin Hood,
Below a green aik tree.
"Gude day, gude day, kind sir," they said,85
"God make you safe and free."
"Gude day, gude day," said Robin Hood,
"What is your wills wi' me?"
"Lo here we are, twa banish'd knights,
Come frae our native hame;90
We're come to crave o' thee service,
Our king will gie us nane."
"If ye be twa young banish'd knights,
Tell me frae what countrie;"
"Frae Anster town into Fifeshire,95
Ye know it as well as we."[Pg 400]
"If a' be true that ye ha'e said,
And tauld just now to me;
Ye're welcome, welcome, every one,
Your master I will be.100
"Now ye shall eat as I do eat,
And lye as I do lye;
Ye salna wear nae waur claithing
Nor my young men and I."
Then they went to a ruinous house,105
And there they enter'd in;
And Nicholas fed wi' Robin Hood,
And Roger wi' little John.
But it fell ance upon a day,
They were at the putting-stane;110
Whan Rose the Red she view'd them a',
As they stood on the green.
She hit the stane then wi' her foot,
And kep'd it wi' her knee;
And spaces three aboon them a',115
I wyte she gar'd it flee.
She sat her back then to a tree,
And ga'e a loud Ohon!
A lad spak in the companie,
"I hear a woman's moan."120
"How know you that, young man," she said,
"How know you that o' me?
Did e'er ye see me in that place
A'e foot my ground to flee?[Pg 401]
"Or know ye by my cherry cheeks,125
Or by my yellow hair?
Or by the paps on my breast bane?
Ye never saw them bare."
"I know not by your cherry cheeks,
Nor by your yellow hair;130
But I know by your milk-white chin,
On it there grows nae hair.
"I never saw you in that cause
A'e foot your ground to flee;
I've seen you stan' wi' sword in han'135
'Mang men's blood to the knee.
"But if I come your bower within,
By night, or yet by day,
I shall know before I go,
If ye be man or may."140
"O if you come my bower within,
By night, or yet by day,
As soon's I draw my trusty brand,
Nae lang ye'll wi' me stay."
But he is haunted to her bower,145
Her bigly bower o' stane,
Till he has got her big wi' bairn,
And near sax months she's gane.
Whan three mair months were come and gane,
They gae'd to hunt the hynde;150
She wont to be the foremost ane,
But now stay'd far behynd.[Pg 402]
Her luver looks her in the face,
And thus to her said he;
"I think your cheeks are pale and wan,155
Pray, what gaes warst wi' thee?
"O want ye roses to your breast,
Or ribbons to your sheen?
Or want ye as muckle o' dear bought luve
As your heart can conteen?"160
"I want nae roses to my breast,
Nae ribbons to my sheen;
Nor want I as muckle dear bought luve
As my heart can conteen.
"I'd rather ha'e a fire behynd,165
Anither me before;
A gude midwife at my right side,
Till my young babe be bore."
"I'll kindle a fire wi' a flint stane,
Bring wine in a green horn;170
I'll be midwife at your right side,
Till your young babe be born."
"That was ne'er my mither's custom,
Forbid that it be mine!
A knight stan' by a lady bright,175
Whan she drees a' her pine!
"There is a knight in gude greenwood,
If that he kent o' me,
Thro' stock and stane and the hawthorn,
[Pg 403]Sae soon's he wou'd come me tee."180
"If there be a knight in gude greenwood
Ye like better than me,
If ance he come your bower within,
Ane o' us twa shall dee."
She set a horn to her mouth,185
And she blew loud and shrill!
Thro' stock and stane and the hawthorn,
Brave Roger came her till.
"Wha's here sae bauld," the youth replied,
"Thus to encroach on me?"190
"O here I am," the knight replied,
"Ha'e as much right as thee."
Then they fought up the gude greenwood,
Sae did they down the plain;
They niddart ither wi' lang braid swords,195
Till they were bleedy men.
Then out it spak the sick woman,
Sat under the greenwood tree;
"O had your han', young man," she said,
"She's a woman as well as me."200
Then out it speaks anither youth,
Amang the companie;
"Gin I had kent what I ken now,
'Tis for her I wou'd dee."
"O wae mat worth you, Rose the Red,205
An ill death mat ye dee!
Altho' ye tauld upo' yoursell,
Ye might ha'e heal'd on me.[Pg 404]
"O for her sake I was content
For to gae ower the sea;210
For her I left my mither's ha',
Tho' she proves fause to me."
But whan these luvers were made known,
They sung right joyfullie;
Nae blyther was the nightingale,215
Nor bird that sat on tree.
Now they ha'e married these ladies,
Brought them to bower and ha',
And now a happy life they lead,
I wish sae may we a'.


Ritson's Robin Hood. ii. 69.

"From an old black-letter copy in the collection of Anthony à Wood. The title now given to this ballad is that which it seems to have originally borne; having been foolishly altered to Robin Hood newly revived. The circumstances attending the second part will be explained in a note." Ritson.

For the different versions of the first part of the story see Robin Hood and the Beggar, p. 188.

Come listen awhile, you gentlemen all,
With a hey down, down, a down, down,
That are this bower within,
For a story of gallant bold Robin Hood
I purpose now to begin.[Pg 405]
"What time of day?" quod Robin Hood then;5
Quoth Little John, "'Tis in the prime;"
"Why then we will to the greenwood gang,
For we have no vittles to dine."
As Robin Hood walkt the forrest along,
(It was in the mid of the day,)10
There he was met of a deft young man
As ever walkt on the way.
His doublet was of silk, 'tis said,
His stockings like scarlet shone;
And he walked on along the way,15
To Robin Hood then unknown.
A herd of deer was in the bend,
All feeding before his face:
"Now the best of you Ile have to my dinner,
And that in a little space."20
Now the stranger he made no mickle adoe,
But he bends a right good bow,
And the best of all the herd he slew,
Forty good yards him froe.
"Well shot, well shot," quod Robin Hood then,25
"That shot it was shot in time;
And if thou wilt accept of the place,
Thou shalt be a bold yeoman of mine."
"Go play the chiven," the stranger said,
[Pg 406]"Make haste and quickly go,30
Or with my fist, be sure of this,
Ile give thee buffets sto'."
"Thou had'st not best buffet me," quod Robin Hood,
"For though I seem forlorn,
Yet I have those will take my part,35
If I but blow my horn."
"Thou wast not best wind thy horn," the stranger said,
"Beest thou never so much in haste,
For I can draw out a good broad sword,
And quickly cut the blast."40
Then Robin Hood bent a very good bow,
To shoot, and that he would fain;
The stranger he bent a very good bow,
To shoot at bold Robin again.
"Hold thy hand, hold thy hand," quod Robin Hood,45
"To shoot it would be in vain;
For if we should shoot the one at the other,
The one of us may be slain.
"But let's take our swords and our broad bucklèrs,
And gang under yonder tree:"50
"As I hope to be sav'd," the stranger said,
"One foot I will not flee."
Then Robin Hood lent the stranger a blow,
'Most scar'd him out of his wit:[Pg 407]
"Thou never delt blow," the stranger he said,55
"That shall be better quit."
The stranger he drew out a good broad sword,
And hit Robin on the crown,
That from every haire of bold Robins head,
The blood ran trickling down.60
"God a mercy, good fellow!" quod Robin Hood then,
"And for this that thou hast done,
Tell me, good fellow, what thou art,
Tell me where thou doest wone."
The stranger then answer'd bold Robin Hood,65
"Ile tell thee where I do dwell;
In Maxwell town I was bred and born,
My name is young Gamwell.
"For killing of my own fathers steward,
I am forc'd to this English wood,70
And for to seek an uncle of mine,
Some call him Robin Hood."
"But art thou a cousin of Robin Hood then?
The sooner we should have done:"
"As I hope to be sav'd," the stranger then said,75
"I am his own sisters son."
But, lord! what kissing and courting was there,
When these two cousins did greet!
And they went all that summers day,
[Pg 408]And Little John did [not] meet.80
But when they met with Little John,
He unto them did say,
"O master, pray where have you been,
You have tarried so long away?"
"I met with a stranger," quod Robin Hood,85
"Full sore he hath beaten me:"
"Then I'le have a bout with him," quod Little John,
"And try if he can beat me."
"Oh [no], oh no," quoth Robin Hood then,
"Little John, it may [not] be so;90
For he is my own dear sisters son,
And cousins I have no mo.
"But he shall be a bold yeoman of mine,
My chief man next to thee;
And I Robin Hood, and thou Little John,95
And Scadlock he shall be:
"And weel be three of the bravest outlàws
That live in the north country."
If you will hear more of bold Robin Hood,
In the second part it will be.100

23, and a. Ritson.

24, full froe.

55, felt. Ritson.

64, won, R.


Now Robin Hood, Will Scadlock, and Little John
Are walking over the plain,[Pg 409]
With a good fat buck, which Will Scadlòck
With his strong bow had slain.[Pg 410]
"Jog on, jog on," cries Robin Hood,5
"The day it runs full fast;
For tho' my nephew me a breakfast gave,
I have not yet broke my fast.
"Then to yonder lodge let us take our way,—
I think it wondrous good,—10
Where my nephew by my bold yeomèn
Shall be welcom'd unto the greenwood."
With that he took his bugle-horn,
Full well he could it blow;
Streight from the woods came marching down15
One hundred tall fellows and mo.
"Stand, stand to your arms," says Will Scadlòck,
"Lo! the enemies are within ken:"
With that Robin Hood he laugh'd aloud,
Crying, "They are my bold yeomèn."20
Who, when they arrived, and Robin espy'd,
Cry'd "Master, what is your will?
We thought you had in danger been,
Your horn did sound so shrill."
"Now nay, now nay," quoth Robin Hood,25
"The danger is past and gone;
I would have you welcome my nephew here,
That has paid me two for one."[Pg 411]
In feasting and sporting they pass'd the day,
Till Phœbus sunk into the deep;30
Then each one to his quarters hy'd,
His guard there for to keep.
Long had they not walked within the greenwood,
When Robin he soon espy'd
A beautiful damsel all alone,35
That on a black palfrey did ride.
Her riding-suit was of sable hew black,
Cypress over her face,
Through which her rose-like cheeks did blush,
All with a comely grace.40
"Come tell me the cause, thou pretty one,"
Quoth Robin, "and tell me aright,
From whence thou comest, and whither thou goest,
All in this mournful plight?"
"From London I came," the damsel reply'd,45
"From London upon the Thames,
"Which circled is, O grief to tell!
Besieg'd with foreign arms;
"By the proud prince of Arragon,
Who swears by his martial hand50
To have the princess to his spouse,
Or else to waste this land;
"Except such champions can be found,
That dare fight three to three,
Against the prince, and giants twain,55
Most horrid for to see;[Pg 412]
"Whose grisly looks, and eyes like brands,
Strike terrour where they come,
With serpents hissing on their helms,
Instead of feathered plume.60
"The princess shall be the victor's prize,
The king hath vow'd and said,
And he that shall the conquest win,
Shall have her to his bride.
"Now we are four damsels sent abroad,65
To the east, west, north, and south,
To try whose fortune is so good
To find these champions forth.
"But all in vain we have sought about,
For none so bold there are70
That dare adventure life and blood,
To free a lady fair."
"When is the day?" quoth Robin Hood,
"Tell me this and no more:"
"On Midsummer next," the dam'sel said,75
"Which is June the twenty-four."
With that the tears trickled down her cheeks,
And silent was her tongue:
With sighs and sobs she took her leave,
Away her palfrey sprung.80
The news struck Robin to the heart,
He fell down on the grass;
His actions and his troubled mind
Shew'd he perplexed was.[Pg 413]
"Where lies your grief?" quoth Will Scadlòck,85
"O master, tell to me:
If the damsel's eyes have pierc'd your heart,
I'll fetch her back to thee."
"Now nay, now nay," quoth Robin Hood,
"She doth not cause my smart;90
But 'tis the poor distress'd princèss,
That wounds me to the heart.
"I'll go fight the giants all
To set the lady free:"
"The devil take my soul," quoth Little John,95
"If I part with thy company."
"Must I stay behind?" quoth Will Scadlòck,
"No, no, that must not be;
I'le make the third man in the fight,
So we shall be three to three."100
These words cheer'd Robin to the heart,
Joy shone within his face;
Within his arms he hugged them both,
And kindly did imbrace.
Quoth he, "We'll put on motley gray,105
And long staves in our hands,
A scrip and bottle by our sides,
As come from the holy land.
"So may we pass along the high-way,
None will ask from whence we came,110
But take us pilgrims for to be,
Or else some holy men."[Pg 414]
Now they are on their journey gone,
As fast as they may speed,
Yet for all their haste, ere they arriv'd,115
The princess forth was led,
To be deliver'd to the prince,
Who in the list did stand,
Prepar'd to fight, or else receive
His lady by the hand.120
With that he walk'd about the lists,
With giants by his side:
"Bring forth," said he, "your champions,
Or bring me forth my bride.
"This is the four and twentieth day,125
The day prefixt upon:
Bring forth my bride, or London burns,
I swear by Alcaron."
Then cries the king, and queen likewise,
Both weeping as they spake,130
"Lo! we have brought our daughter dear,
Whom we are forc'd to forsake."
With that stept out bold Robin Hood,
Crys, "My liege, it must not be so;
Such beauty as the fair princèss135
Is not for a tyrant's mow."
The prince he then began to storm,
Cries, "Fool, fanatick, baboon!
How dare you stop my valour's prize?
[Pg 415]I'll kill thee with a frown."140
"Thou tyrant Turk, thou infidel,"
Thus Robin began to reply,
"Thy frowns I scorn; lo! here's my gage,
And thus I thee defie.
"And for those two Goliahs there,145
That stand on either side,
Here are two little Davids by,
That soon can tame their pride."
Then the king did for armour send,
For lances, swords, and shields:150
And thus all three in armour bright
Came marching to the field.
The trumpets began to sound a charge,
Each singled out his man;
Their arms in pieces soon were hew'd,155
Blood sprang from every vain.
The prince he reacht Robin Hood a blow,
He struck with might and main,
Which forc'd him to reel about the field,
As though he had been slain.160
"God-a-mercy," quoth Robin, "for that blow!
The quarrel shall soon be try'd;
This stroke shall shew a full divorce
Betwixt thee and thy bride."
So from his shoulders he's cut his head,165
Which on the ground did fall,
And grumbling sore at Robin Hood,
To be so dealt withal.[Pg 416]
The giants then began to rage
To see their prince lie dead:170
"Thou's be the next," quoth little John,
"Unless thou well guard thy head."
With that his faulchion he wherled about,
It was both keen and sharp;
He clove the giant to the belt,175
And cut in twain his heart.
Will Scadlock well had play'd his part,
The giant he had brought to his knee;
Quoth Will, "The devil cannot break his fast,
Unless he have you all three."180
So with his faulchion he run him through,
A deep and ghastly wound;
Who dam'd and foam'd, curst and blasphem'd,
And then fell to the ground.
Now all the lists with shouts were fill'd,185
The skies they did resound,
Which brought the princess to herself,
Who had fal'n in a swound.
The king and queen and princess fair,
Came walking to the place,190
And gave the champions many thanks,
And did them further grace.
"Tell me," quoth the king, "whence you are,
That thus disguised came,
Whose valour speaks that noble blood195
Doth run through every vain."[Pg 417]
"A boon, a boon," quoth Robin Hood,
"On my knees I beg and crave;"
"By my crown," quoth the king, "I grant;
Ask what, and thou shalt have."200
"Then pardon I beg for my merry men,
Which are in the green-wood,
For Little John, and Will Scadlock,
And for me bold Robin Hood."
"Art thou Robin Hood?" then quoth the king;205
"For the valour thou hast shewn,
Your pardons I do freely grant,
And welcome every one.
"The princess I promis'd the victor's prize;
She cannot have you all three."210
"She shall chuse," quoth Robin; said Little John,
"Then little share falls to me."
Then did the princess view all three,
With a comely lovely grace,
And took Will Scadlock by the hand,215
Saying "Here I make my choice."
With that a noble lord stept forth,
Of Maxfield earl was he,
Who look'd Will Scadlock in the face,
And wept most bitterly.220
Quoth he, "I had a son like thee,
Whom I lov'd wondrous well;[Pg 418]
But he is gone, or rather dead,
His name it is young Gamwell."
Then did Will Scadlock fall on his knees,225
Cries, "Father! father! here,
Here kneels your son, your young Gamwell,
You said you lov'd so dear."
But, lord! what imbracing and kissing was there,
When all these friends were met!230
They are gone to the wedding, and so to bedding:
And so I bid you good night.

35, Of a.

128, Acaron.

209, promise. Ritson.

[30] "This (from an old black-letter copy in Major Pearson's collection) is evidently the genuine second part of the present ballad: although constantly printed as an independent article, under the title of Robin Hood, Will Scadlock, and Little John; Or, a narrative of their victories obtained against the prince of Aragon and the two giants; and how Will Scadlock married the princess. Tune of Robin Hood; or, Hey down, down, a down." Instead of which, in all former editions, are given the following incoherent stanzas, which have all the appearance of being the fragment of a quite different ballad:

Then bold Robin Hood to the north he would go,
With valour and mickle might,
With sword by his side, which oft had been tri'd,
To fight and recover his right.
The first that he met was a bonny bold Scot,
His servant he said he would be:
"No," quoth Robin Hood, "it cannot be good,
For thou wilt prove false unto me.
"Thou hast not been true to sire nor cuz."
"Nay, marry," the Scot, he said,
"As true as your heart, Ile never part,
Gude master, be not afraid."
Then Robin turned his face to the east,
"Fight on, my merry men stout;
Our cause is good," quod brave Robin Hood,
"And we shall not be beaten out."
The battel grows hot on every side,
The Scotchman made great moan:
Quoth Jockey, "Gude faith, they fight on each side,
Would I were with my wife Joan!"
The enemy compast brave Robin about,
'Tis long ere the battel ends;
Ther's neither will yield, nor give up the field,
For both are supplied with friends.
This song it was made in Robin Hoods dayes:
Let's pray unto Jove above,
To give us true peace, that mischief may cease,
And war may give place unto love.



Given in Gutch's Robin Hood, ii. 392, from an Irish Garland, printed at Monaghan, 1796.

This piece is the same as the fragment usually printed as the Second Part of Robin Hood and the Stranger, (see p. 409,) and both are undoubtedly relics of some older ballad.

Now bold Robin Hood to the north would go
With valour and mickle might;
With sword by his side, which oft had been try'd,
To fight and recover his right.
The first that he met was a jolly stout Scot,5
His servant he said he would be;
"No," quoth Robin Hood, "it cannot be good,
For thou wilt prove false unto me.[Pg 419]
"Thou has not been true to sire or cuz;"
"Nay, marry," the Scot he said,10
"As true as your heart, I never will part;
Good master, be not afraid."
"But e'er I employ you," said bold Robin Hood,
"With you I must have a bout;"
The Scotchman reply'd, "Let the battle be try'd,15
For I know I will beat you out."
Thus saying, the contest did quickly begin,
Which lasted two hours and more;
The blows Sawney gave bold Robin so brave,
The battle soon made him give o'er.20
"Have mercy, thou Scotchman," bold Robin Hood cry'd,
"Full dearly this boon have I bought;
We will both agree, and my man you shall be,
For a stouter I never have fought."
Then Sawny consented with Robin to go,25
To be of his bowmen so gay;
Thus ended the fight, and with mickle delight
To Sherwood they hasted away.

[Pg 420]


From Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 192.

Printed by Copland at the end of his edition of the Lytell Geste. The whole title runs: Here beginnethe the playe of Robyn Hoode, very proper to be played in Maye games. A few corrections were made by Ritson from White's edition of 1634.

The fragment here preserved is founded upon the ballads of Robin Hood and the Curtall Fryer, (p. 271,) and Robin Hood and the Potter (p. 17.) Were the whole play recovered, we should probably find it a pot pourri of the most favorite stories of Robin Hood.

Now stand ye forth, my mery men all,
And harke what I shall say;
Of an adventure I shal you tell,
The which befell this other day.
As I went by the hygh way,
With a stout frere I met,
And a quarter-staffe in his hande.
Lyghtely to me he lept,
And styll he bade me stande.
There were strypes two or three,10
But I cannot tell who had the worse,
But well I wote the horeson lept within me,
And fro me he toke my purse.
Is there any of my mery men all,[Pg 421]
That to that frere wyll go,
And bryng hym to me forth withall,
Whether he wyll or no?
Yes, mayster, I make god a vowe,
To that frere wyll I go,
And bring him to you,20
Whether he wyl or no.
Deus hic, deus hic, god be here!
Is not this a holy worde for a frere?
God save all this company!
But am not I a jolly fryer?
For I can shote both farre and nere,
And handle the sworde and bucklèr,
And this quarter-staffe also.
If I mete with a gentylman or yemàn,
I am not afrayde to loke hym upon,30
Nor boldly with him to carpe;
If he speake any wordes to me,
He shall have strypes two or thre,
That shal make his body smarte.
But, maisters, to shew you the matter,
Wherfore and why I am come hither,
In fayth I wyl not spare.
I am come to seke a good yeman,
In Bernisdale men sai is his habitacion,
His name is Robyn Hode.40
And if that he be better man than I,
His servaunt wyll I be, and serve him truely;
But if that I be better man than he,
By my truth my knave shall he be,
And leade these dogges all three.
[Pg 422]
Yelde the, fryer, in thy long cote.
I beshrew thy hart, knave, thou hurtest my throt.
I trowe, fryer, thou beginnest to dote;
Who made the so malapert and so bolde,
To come into this forest here,50
Amonge my falowe dere?
Go louse the, ragged knave.
If thou make mani wordes, I will geve the on the eare,
Though I be but a poore fryer.
To seke Robyn Hode I am com here,
And to him my hart to breke.
Thou lousy frer, what wouldest thou with hym?
He never loved fryer, nor none of freiers kyn.
Avaunt, ye ragged knave!
Or ye shall have on the skynne.60
Of all the men in the morning thou art the worst,
To mete with the I have no lust;
For he that meteth a frere or a fox in the morning,
To spede ill that day he standeth in jeoperdy.
Therfore I had lever mete with the devil of hell,
(Fryer, I tell the as I thinke,)
Then mete with a fryer or a fox
In a mornyng, or I drynk.
Avaunt, thou ragged knave, this is but a mock;
If thou make mani words thou shal have a knock.70
[Pg 423]
Harke, frere, what I say here:
Over this water thou shalt me bere,
The brydge is borne away.
To say naye I wyll not:
To let the of thine oth it were great pitie and sin,
But up on a fryers backe, and have even in.
Nay, have over.
Now am I, frere, within, and thou, Robin, without,
To lay the here I have no great doubt.
Now art thou, Robyn, without, and I, frere, within,80
Lye ther, knave; chose whether thou wilte sinke or swym.
Why, thou lowsy frere, what hast thou done?
Mary, set a knave over the shone.
Therfore thou shalt abye.
Why, wylt thou fyght a plucke?
And god send me good lucke.
Than have a stroke for fryer Tucke.
Holde thy hande, frere, and here me speke.
Say on, ragged knave,
Me semeth ye begyn to swete.90
[Pg 424]
In this forest I have a hounde,
I wyl not give him for an hundreth pound.
Geve me leve my home to blowe,
That my hounde may knowe.
Blowe on, ragged knave, without any doubte,
Untyll bothe thyne eyes starte out.
Here be a sorte of ragged knaves come in,
Clothed all in Kendale grene,
And to the they take their way nowe.
Peradventure they do so.100
I gave the leve to blowe at thy wyll,
Now give me leve to whistell my fyll.
Whystell, frere, evyl mote thou fare,
Untyll bothe thyne eyes stare.
Now Cut and Bause!
Breng forth the clubbes and staves,
And downe with those ragged knaves!
How sayest thou, frere, wylt thou be my man,
To do me the best servyse thou can?
Thou shalt have both golde and fee,110
And also here is a lady free,
I wyll geve her unto the,
And her chapplayn I the make,
To serve her for my sake.
Here is a huckle duckle, an inch above the buckle;[Pg 425]
She is a trul of trust, to serve a frier at his lust,
A prycker, a prauncer, a terer of shetes,
A wagger of buttockes when other men slepes.
Go home, ye knaves, and lay crabbes in the fyre,
For my lady and I wil daunce in the myre,120
For veri pure joye.
Lysten, to [me], my mery men all,
And harke what I shall say;
Of an adventure I shall you tell,
That befell this other daye.
With a proude potter I met,
And a rose garlande on his head,
The floures of it shone marvaylous freshe;
This seven yere and more he hath used this waye,
Yet was he never so curteyse a potter,130
As one peny passage to paye.
Is there any of my mery men all
That dare be so bolde
To make the potter paie passage,
Either silver or golde?
Not I master, for twenty pound redy tolde,
For there is not among us al one
That dare medle with that potter, man for man.
I felt his handes not long agone,
But I had lever have ben here by the,140
Therfore I knowe what he is.
Mete him when ye wil, or mete him whan ye shal,
He is as propre a man as ever you medle withal.
I will lai with the, Litel John, twenti pound so read,[Pg 426]
If I wyth that potter mete,
I wil make him pay passage, maugre his head.
I consente therto, so eate I bread,
If he pay passage maugre his head,
Twenti pound shall ye have of me for your mede.
Out alas, that ever I sawe this daye!150
For I am clene out of my waye
From Notyngham towne;
If I hye me not the faster,
Or I come there the market wel be done.
Let me se, are thy pottes hole and sounde?
Yea, meister, but they will not breake the ground.
I wil them breke, for the cuckold thi maisters sake;
And if they will breake the grounde,
Thou shalt have thre pence for a pound.
Out alas! what have ye done?160
If my maister come, he will breke your crown.
Why, thou horeson, art thou here yet?
Thou shouldest have bene at markèt.
I met with Robin Hode, a good yemàn,
He hath broken my pottes,
And called you kuckolde by your name.
Thou mayst be a gentylman, so god me save,[Pg 427]
But thou semest a noughty knave.
Thou callest me cuckolde by my name,
And I swere by god and saynt John170
Wyfe had I never none.
This cannot I denye,
But if thou be a good felowe,
I wil sel mi horse, mi harneis, pottes and paniers to,
Thou shalt have the one halfe and I will have the other;
If thou be not so content,
Thou shalt have stripes, if thou were my brother.
Harke, potter, what I shall say:
This seven yere and more thou hast used this way,
Yet were thou never so curteous to me,180
As one penny passage to paye.
Why should I pay passage to thee?
For I am Robyn Hode, chiefe gouernoure
Under the grene woode tree.
This seven yere have I used this way up and downe,
Yet payed I passage to no man,
Nor now I wyl not beginne, so do the worst thou can.
Passage shalt thou pai here under the grene-wode tre,
Or els thou shalt leve a wedde with me.
If thou be a good felowe, as men do the call,190
Laye awaye thy bowe,[Pg 428]
And take thy sword and buckeler in thy hande,
And see what shall befall.
Lyttle John, where art thou?
Here, mayster, I make god a vowe.
I tolde you, mayster, so god me save,
That you shoulde fynde the potter a knave.
Holde your buckeler faste in your hande,
And I wyll styfly by you stande,
Ready for to fyghte;200
Be the knave never so stoute,
I shall rappe him on the snoute,
And put hym to flyghte.

35, maister, C.

64 ell, C.

70 You, you, C.

82, donee, C.

104, starte, C.

117, shefes, C.

118, ballockes, C.

154, maryet, C.

155, the, C.

158, not breake, in C.

187, to do, C.; to or so omitted in W.

189, wedded, C, wed, W.

197, your, C.


The lines which follow would seem to be part of an Interlude, in which, as in the play just given, the incidents of several ballads are rudely combined. The present fragment is manifestly founded on Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne. We owe this curious relic to a correspondent of Notes and Queries (vol. xii. p. 321), who found it in an interleaved copy of Robin Hood's Garland, formerly belonging to Dr. Stukely, the inventor of the preposterous pedigree of Robin Hood. The Doctor has prefixed these remarks:—"It[Pg 429] is not to be doubted but that many of subsequent songs are compiled from old ballads wrote in the time, or soon after Robin Hood, with alterations from time to time into the more modern language. Mr. Le Neve (Norroy) has a large half-sheet of paper which was taken from the inside of some old book, which preserves in an old hand a fragment of this sort. On the back of it is wrote, among other accounts, this, 'Itm, R. S. of Richard Whitway, penter for his house, sent in full payment, jx. s., the vij. day of November, Edw'd iij. xv.'; and in a later hand as follows."

"Syr Sheryffe, for thy sake
Robyn Hode wull y take."
I wyll the gyffe golde and fee,
This beheste thow holde me.
"Robyn Hode ffayre and fre,5
Undre this lynde shote we."
With the shote y wyll,
Alle thy lustes to fullfyll.
"Have at the pryke,"
And y cleve the styke.10
"Late us caste the stone,"
I grante well, be Seynte John.
"Late us caste the exaltrè,"
Have a foote before the.
Syr knyght, ye have a falle.15
"And I the, Robyn, qwyte shall.
Owte on the, I blewe my horne,
Hitt ware better be unborne."
"Let us fight at oltrance.
[Pg 430]"He that fleth, God gyfe hym myschaunce."20
Now I have the maystry here,
Off I smyte this sory swyre.
This knygthys clothis wolle I were,
And on my hede his hyde will bere.
Well mete, felowe myn.25
What herst thou of gode Robyn?
"Robyn Hode and his menye
With the Sheryffe takyn be."
Sette on foote with gode wyll,
And the Sheryffe wull we kyll.30
Beholde wele Frere Tuke,
Howe he dothe his bowe pluke.
"Yeld yow, Syrs, to the Sheryffe,
Or elles shall ye blowes pryffe."
Now we be bounden alle in same;35
Frere Tuke, this is no game.
"Come thou forth, thou fals outlawe;
Thou shall be hangyde and y-drawe."
Now alias, what shall we doo!
We moste to the prysone goo."40
Opyn the gates faste anon,
And [late] theis thevys ynne gon."

24, hede.

25, folowe.

34, elyffe.

41, ory the yatn.

42, theif thouys yune.

[Pg 431]


"This strange and whimsical performance is taken from a very rare and curious publication, entitled Deuteromelia: or the second part of musicks melodie, or melodius musicke, 1609.

"In the collection of old printed ballads made by Anthony à Wood, is an inaccurate copy of this ancient and singular production, in his own hand-writing. "'This song,' says he, 'was esteemed an old song before the rebellion broke out in 1641.'" Ritson's Robin Hood, ii. 204.

By Lands-dale hey ho,
By mery Lands-dale hey ho,
There dwelt a jolly miller,
And a very good old man was he, hey ho.
He had, he had and a sonne a,5
Men called him Renold,
And mickle of his might
Was he, was he, hey ho.
And from his father a wode a,
His fortune for to seeke,10
From mery Lands-dale
Wode he, wode he, hey ho.[Pg 432]
His father would him seeke a,
And found him fast asleepe;
Among the leaves greene15
Was he, was he, hey ho.
He tooke, he tooke him up a,
All by the lilly-white hand,
And set him on his feet,
And bad him stand, hey ho.20
He gave to him a benbow,
Made all of a trusty tree,
And arrowes in his hand,
And bad him let them flee.
And shoote was that, that a did a,25
Some say he shot a mile,
But halfe a mile and more
Was it, was it, hey ho.
And at the halfe miles end [a,]
There stood an armed man;30
The childe he shot him through,
And through and through, hey ho.
His beard was all on a white a,
As white as whaleis bone,
His eyes they were as cleare35
As christall stone, hey ho.
And there of him they made [a]
Good yeoman Robin Hood,
Scarlet, and Little John,
And Little John, hey ho.40

[Pg 433]


Gutch's Robin Hood, ii. 393.

From A Musicall Dreamt, or the fourth booke of Ayres, &c., London, 1606. Ritson printed the same from the edition of 1609.

In Sherwood livde stout Robin Hood,
An archer great, none greater;
His bow and shafts were sure and good,
Yet Cupids were much better.
Robin could shoot at many a hart and misse,5
Cupid at first could hit a hart of his.
Hey, jolly Robin, hoe, jolly Robin, hey, jolly Robin Hood,
Love finds out me, as well as thee, so follow me, so follow me to the green-wood.
A noble thiefe was Robin Hoode,
Wise was he could deceive him;10
Yet Marrian, in his bravest mood,
Could of his heart bereave him!
No greater thief lies hidden under skies
Then beauty closely lodgde in womens eyes.
Hey, jolly Robin, &c.[Pg 434]
An out-law was this Robin Hood,15
His life free and unruly;
Yet to faire Marrian bound he stood,
And loves debt payed her duely.
Whom curbe of stricktest law could not hold in,
Love with obeyednes and a winke could winne
Hey, jolly Robin, &c.20
Now wend we home, stout Robin Hood,
Leave we the woods behind us;
Love-passions must not be withstood,
Love every where will find us.
I livde in fielde and downe, and so did he,25
I got me to the woods, love followed me.
Hey, jolly Robin, &c.

8, to follow. Ritson.


From Anthony Munday's London pageant for 1615, entitled Metropolis Coronata, the Triumphes of Ancient Drapery. Munday was a popular ballad-writer, and, together with Chettle, the author of two well-known plays on the fortunes of "Robert Earl of Huntington." This song is taken from The Civic Garland, in the Percy Society Publications, vol. xix. p. 15.

Now wend we together, my merry men all,
Unto the forrest side a:
And there to strike a buck or a doe,
Let our cunning all be a tride a.[Pg 435]
Then go we merrily, merrily on,5
To the green-wood to take up our stand,
Where we will lye in waite for our game,
With our bent bowes in our hand.
What life is there like to bold Robin Hood?
It is so pleasant a thing a:10
In merry Shirwood he spends his dayes,
As pleasantly as a king a.
No man may compare with Robin Hood,
With Robin Hood, Scathlocke and John;
Their like was never, nor never will be,15
If in ease that they were gone.
They will not away from merry Shirwood,
In any place else to dwell:
For there is neither city nor towne,
That likes them halfe so well.20
Our lives are wholly given to hunt,
And haunt the merry greene-wood,
Where our best service is daily spent
For our master Robin Hood.

[Pg 437]


Figures placed after words denote the pages in which they occur.