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It must be confesed this epitaph is suspicious, because in the most ancient poems on Robin Hood, there is no mention or bint of this imaginary earldom. He is expresly asserted to have r been a yeoman * in a
very old legend in verse preserved in the archives of the public library at Cambridge † in eight FYttes or parts, printed in black letter quarto, thus inJcribed “ T Here begonneth a (ptell geste of Hobyn hode and “ his megne and of the proud s heryfe of Nottyngham.” The first lines are,
« Lythe and lyften, gentylmen, " That be of fre bore blode :
I shall you tell of a good yeMAN, “ His name was Robin hode.
“ Robyn was a proude out lawe,
The printer's colophon is “ C Explicit Kinge Edwarde " and Robyn hode and lytell Johan, Enprented at London in “ Fletefrete at the lygne of the fone by Wynkyn de Worde.”
In Mr. Garrick's Collection I is a different edition of the Jame poem “ Imprinted at London upon the thre Crane " wharfe by Wylliam Copland,” containing a little dramatic piece on the subject of Robin Hood and the Friar, not found in the former copy called “ # newe play for to be played in “ mape games very plesaunte and full of paflpme. C (:
* See also the following ballad, vi 147. 1 Old Plays 410. K. vol. 10.
+ Num. D. 5.2.
THAN Ihales beene sheene, and shraddes full fayre,
And leaves both large and longe, Itt's merrye walkyng in the fayre forrest
To heare the small birdęs songe.
The woodweete fang, and wold not cease,
Sitting upon the spraye,
In the greenwood where he lay.
Now by faye, faid jollye Robin,
A sweaven I had this night;
That fast with me can fight,
Methought they did me beate and binde,
And tooke my bowe me froe; If I be Robin alive in this lande,
Ile be wroken on them towe,
Sweavens are swift, fayd lyttle John,
As the wind blowes over the hill ; For iff itt be never so loude this night,
To morrow it may be ftill.
Buske yee, bowne yee, my merry men all,
In greenwood where they bee.
Then they cast on theyr gownes of grene,
And tooke theyr bowes ech one ; And they away to the greene
forrest A Mooting forth are gone;
Untill they came to the merry greenwood,
Where they had gladdest to bee,
That leaned agaynst a tree.
A sword and a dagger he wore by his fide,
Of manye a man the bane,
Topp and tayll and mayne,
Stand ftill, master, quoth litle John,
Under this tree so grene,
To know what he doth meane.
Ah! John, by me thou setteft noe store,
And that I farley finde :
And tarry my selfe behindę ?
It is no cunning a knave to ken,
And a man but heare him speake; And it were not for bursting òf my
bowe, John, I thy head wold breake.
As often wordes they breeden bale,
So they parted Robin and John ; And John is gone to Barnesdale :
The gates + he knoweth echę one,
But when he came to Barnesdale,
Great heavinesse there hee hadd,
Were slaine both in a fade,
And Scarlette he was flyinge a-foote
Fast over stocke and stone,
Fast after him is gone,
One shoote now I will shoote, quoth John,
With Christ his might and mayne ;
To stopp he shall be fayne.
Then John bent up his long bende-bowe,
And fetteled him to shoote :
And fell downe at his foote.
Woe worth, woe worth thee, wicked wood,
That ever thou grew on a tree ; For now this day thou art my bale,
My boote when thou hold bee.
t'i.e. passes, paths, ridings.
His shoote it was but loosely shott,
Yet flewe not the arrowe in vaine, For itt mett one of the sherriffes men,
And William a Trent was slaine.
It had bene better of William a Trent
To have bene abed with sorrowe,
To meet with Little Johns arrowe.
But as it is said, when men be mett
Fyve can doe more than three, The sheriffe hath taken little John,
And bound him falt to a tree.
Thou shalt be drawen by dale and downe,
And hanged hye on a hill, But thou mayft fayle of thy purpose, quoth John,
If it be Chrift his will.
Lett us leave talking of little John,
And thinke of Robin Hood,
Where under the leaves he stood.
Good morrowe, good fellowe, fayd Robin fo fayre,
“ Good morrowe, good fellow quo' hee:" Methinkes by this bowe thou beares in thy hande 95 A good archere thou sholaft bee,