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in his company, until such time as marriage rites could be performed. The Anglo-Saxon features of this legendary character, law-abiding in outlawry, loyal in resistance to authority, respecting Judge Lynch in the desert, gentle to women, hospitable to the homeless, generous to the needy, organising vigilance committees to restrain indecency and outrage, unembittered by injustice, hopeful and self-helpful in adversity, exulting in the freedom of field, fell, and forest, are unmistakable and firmly traced. Robin Hood, as his myth presents him to us, had probably no real existence. But the spirit of the people which created him, has since expressed itself in many a Western ranch and Rocky Mountain canyon.

Nothing illustrates the wholesome and cheerful tone of English popular literature more strongly than the three Robin Hood plays which I have mentioned. In the first of these, the Earl of Huntingdon is expelled from his fiefs and outlawed. He forms his republic and gives laws to his followers. Little John declares the articles :

First, no man must presume to call our master
By name of Earl, Lord, Baron, Knight, or Squire ;
But simply by the name of Robin Hood.
Next, 't is agreed, if thereto she agree,
That fair Matilda henceforth change her name,
And while it is the chance of Robin Hood
To live in Sherwood a poor outlaw's life,
She by Maid Marian's name be only called.
Thirdly, no yeoman, following Robin Hood
In Sherwood, shall use widow, wife, or maid ;
But by true labour lustful thoughts expel.
Fourthly, no passenger with whom ye meet
Shall ye let pass, till he with Robin feast;
Except a post, a carrier, or such folk

ROBIN HOOD LEGEND.

407

As use with food to serve the market towns.
Fifthly, you never shall the poor man wrong,
Nor spare a priest, a usurer, or a clerk.
Lastly, you shall defend with all your power
Maids, widows, orphans, and distressed men.

To this constitution, democratic in its essence, with a touch of chivalry and of chivalrous hatred for the lettered and moneyed classes, everyone agrees.

Robin turns to Marian, and draws a seductive picture of woodland joys and pastimes :

Marian, thou seest, though courtly pleasures want,
Yet country sport in Sherwood is not scant :
For the soul-ravishing, delicious sound
Of instrumental music we have found,
The winged quiristers with divers notes
Sent from their quaint recording pretty throats,
On every branch that compasseth our bower,
Without command contenting us each hour :
For arras-hangings and rich tapestry,
We have sweet nature's best embroidery :
For thy steel glass, wherein thou wont'st to look,
Thy crystal eyes gaze in a crystal brook:
At court a flower or two did deck thy head;
Now with whole garlands is it circlèd ;
For what we want in wealth, we have in flowers,
And what we lose in hall, we find in bowers.

He only omits what the song in ‘As You Like It’ dwells upon in passing— winter and rough weather.' The hero's portrait is completed in the speech of a private enemy, who eventually procures his death by poison :

I hate thy cousin, Earl of Huntingdon,
Because so many love him as there do,
And I myself am loved of so few.
Nay, I have other reasons for my hate :
He is a fool, and will be reconciled

foe he hath ; he is too mild

To any

Too honest for this world, fitter for heaven.
He will not kill these greedy cormorants,
Nor strip base peasants of the wealth they have.
He does abuse a thief's name and an outlaw's,
And is, indeed, no outlaw nor no thief :
He is unworthy of such reverend names.
Besides, he keeps a paltry whimling girl,
And will not bed, forsooth, before he bride.
I'll stand to 't, he abuses maidenhead,
That will not take it being offered,
Hinders the commonwealth of able men !
Another thing I hate him for again :
He
says
his

prayers, fasts eves, gives alms, does good:
For these and such like crimes swears Doncaster
To work the speedy death of Robin Hood.

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The second part opens with the death of Robin, and proceeds with the romantic history of Marian. She is pursued by King John, who woos her with lawless violence till she finds relief in death. The play becomes a chronicle of minor events in John's reign. He is drawn as a detestable tyrant, cruel and lustful. By far the most powerful episode of the piece is the description of Lady Bruce and her son starved to death in Windsor Castle.

George a Greene' interweaves an incident in the Robin Hood legend with the valorous exploits of another popular hero. The Pinner of Wakefield by his personal strength and influence quells the rebellion of Lord Kendal, forces Sir Gilbert Mannering to eat the traitor's seal, and entraps James, King of Scotland, who has crossed the Border on a foray. The Pinner's fame reaches to Sherwood Forest; and Robin Hood, putting himself at the head of his merry men, goes forth to visit the Yorkshire champion at Wakefield. George beats the merry men at their own weapons, and

6

"GEORGE A GREENE' AND 'SAD SHEPHERD.'

409

fraternises with Robin. King Edward of England and James of Scotland join the fun in disguise, carouse with shoemakers, and after making known their royal personages, wind the play up with a general jollification.

Before quitting the dramatised versions of Robin Hood's legend, I ought here to mention the fragment of Ben Jonson's 'Sad Shepherd. Whether the imperfect state in which that play has come down to us, be due to the accident of death, intervening before the poet had versified further than the opening of the third act, or else to the carelessness of those who undertook the charge of editing his manuscripts, cannot be determined. But students will agree that few of the many losses which English Dramatic Literature has sustained, are comparable to that of The Sad Shepherd.

' This last offspring of Jonson's Muse promised to be one of the most interesting and entertaining, as it certainly would have been the most complete and regular, of English Pastorals. Lacking it, our Drama may be said to miss a mature and purely national masterpiece, in the pastoral style. Fletcher's · Faithful Shepherdess,' however beautiful, is still an echo from Italian literature. Jonson in his 'Sad Shepherd' interwove romantic fable with the myth of an English hero, who, though he was localised as an outlaw in Sherwood, may probably have been a rustic deity, surviving from the dim antiquity of Northern paganism.

History is, so to speak, nowhere in plays of this description. Their authors sought to dramatise the doughty deeds of common folk, and to exhibit English

kings and princes mixing with simple people, sharing their sports, making love to their daughters, receiving hospitality from humble entertainers. Greene's 'Friar Bacon,' of which some notice will be taken in the proper place, represents this species fairly ; so do the opening scenes of The Famous Victories of Henry V. Heywood worked the same vein in his ‘Edward IV.;' while Shakspere, laying his golden touch on all that lesser men made popular, bequeathed to us the highest picture of this kind in his portrait of Prince Hal. That the portrait has been proved mythical, when tested by the touchstone of State documents, does not signify. It owes its force, its permanent artistic value, to the animating sentiment, a sentiment akin, though different, to that which runs through Robin Hood's conception.

The English working classes, loyal to the Crown, in spite of civil wars and treasons, have always loved to pat their princes on the back, to hob and nob with nobles, and if possible with scions of the royal race. Heirs apparent, who understood the secret of this popularity, have not unwillingly infused a grain of Bohemianism into their conduct. We may regard this partiality for madcap princes as a settled factor in the English Constitution. Based on a sound foundationupon the touch of nature which makes all men kinthe willingness of royalty to sign its debt to vulgar sympathies, the pleasure of the folk to see that debt acknowledged—this sowing of wild oats in common by the people and their beardless rulers constitutes a bond of sentiment more forcible than statutes. It eliminates the moneyed aristocracy, depreciates the courtier, ex

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