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time, or the Germains, say a word against us for it ? Mind your own business, my lads : law is not to be had for nothing; and we, you may be sure, shall have to pay the whole bill.”
Nevertheless the people of St. George were resolved on war. They cried out most lustily, “Squire Guelf forever! Sweet William forever! No steel-traps !" Squire Guelf took all the rascally footmen who had worn old Sir Lewis's livery into his service. They were fed in his kitchen on the very best of everything, though they had no settlement. Many people, and the paupers in particular, grumbled at these proceedings. The steward, however, devised a way to keep them quiet.
There had lived in this parish for many years an old gentleman, named Sir Habeas Corpus. He was said by some to be of Saxon, by some of Norman extraction. Some maintain that he was not born till after the time of Sir Charles, to whom we have before alluded. Others are of opinion that he was a legitimate son of old Lady Magna Charta, although he was long concealed and kept out of his birthright. Certain it is that he was a very benevolent person. Whenever any poor fellow was taken up on grounds which he thought insufficient, he used to attend on his behalf and bail him; and thus he had become so popular that to take direct measures against him was out of the question.
The steward, accordingly, brought a dozen physicians to examine Sir Habeas. After consultation they reported that he was in a very bad way, and ought not, on any account, to be allowed to stir out for several months. Fortified with this authority, the parish officers put him to bed, closed his windows, and barred his doors. They paid him every attention, and from time to time issued bulletins of his health. The steward never spoke of him without declaring that he was the best gentleman in the world; out excellent care was taken that he should never stir out of doors.
When this obstacle was removed, the squire and the steward kept the parish in excellent order; flogged this man, sent that man to the stocks, and pushed forward the law-suit with a noble disregard of expense. They were, however, wanting either in skill or in fortune. And everything went against them after their antagonists had begun to employ Solicitor Nap.
Who does not know the name of Solicitor Nap? At what alę. house is not his behavior discussed ? In what print-shop is not his picture seen? Yet how little truth has been said about him Some people hold that he used to give laudanum by pints to his sick clerks for his amusement. Others, whose number has very much increased since he was killed by the gaol distemper, conceive that he was the very model of honor and good-nature. I shall try to tell the truth about him.
He was assuredly an excellent solicitor. In his way he never was surpassed. As soon as the parish began to employ him, their cause took a turn. In a very little time they were successful, and Nap became rich. He now set up for a gentleman, took possession of the old manor house, got into the commission of the peace, and affected to be on a par with the best in the county. He governed the vestries as absolutely as the old family had done. Yet, to give him his due, he managed things with far more discretion than either Sir Lewis or the rioters who had pulled the lords of the manor down. He kept his servants in tolerable order: He removed the steel-traps from the highways and the corners of the streets. He still left a few, indeed, in the more exposed parts of his premises, and set up a board announcing that traps and springguns were set in his grounds. He brought the poor parson back to the parish; and though he did not enable him to keep a fine house and a coach as formerly, he settled him in a snug little cottage, and allowed him a pleasant pad-nag. He whitewashed the church again, and put the stocks, which had been much wanted of late, into good repair.
With the neighboring gentry, however, he was no favorite. He was crafty and litigious. He cared nothing for right if he could raise a point of law against them. He pounded their cattle, broke their hedges, and seduced their tenants from them. He almost ruined Lord Cæsar with actions, in every one of which he was successful. Von Blunderbussen went to law with him for an al. leged trespass, but was cast, and almost ruined by the costs of suit. He next took a fancy to the seat of Squire Don, who was, to say the truth, little better than an idiot. He asked the poor dupe to dinner, and then threatened to have him tossed in a blanket anless he would make over his estates to him. The poor Squire signed and sealed a deed, by which the property was assigned tu Joe, a brother of Nap, in trust for, and to the use of, Nap himself. The tenants, however, stood out. They maintained that the estate was entailed, and refused to pay rents to the new landlord; and in this refusal they were stoutly supported by the people in St. George's.
About the same time Nap took it into his head to match with quality, and nothing would serve him but one of the Miss Germains. Lord Cæsar swore like a trooper, but there was no help for it. Nap had twice put executions in his principal residence, and had refused to discharge the latter of the two till he had ex. torted a bond from his lordship, which compelled him to comply.
ALLAN CUNNINGHAM. (ALLAN CUNNINGHAM was born at Blackwood, near Dumfries, in 1784. His parents were in humble circumstances, though not of humble descent. He was apprenticed to a stone mason at the early age of eleven, so that he was essentially one of the self-taught. His decided vocation was to literature; and when he came to London in 1810 he supported himself by writing in the magazines and reporting for newspapers. But his honest trade gave him honorable employment, and enabled him to cultivate his more congenial tastes. He was engaged in 1814 by Chantry, the sculptor, in his workshop; and gradually became the manager of his extensive business—for so the manufactory of a great sculptor must be called. In his leisure hours Cunningham labored assiduously as an author in the departments of romance, poetry, biography, and criticism. But his fame will chiefly rest upon his songs; some of which have not been excelled by the most illustrious of the song-writers of Scotland. These are collected into a small volume. The following account of the “Robin-Hood Ballads” appeared in the "Penny Magazine.” Allan Cunningham died in 1842.]
The ballads devoted to the exploits of Robin Hood and his bold company of outlaws are amongst the most popular of those interesting remembrances of the past. They breathe of the inflexible heart and honest joyousness of old England ; there is more of the national character in them than in all the songs of classic bards or the theories of ingenious philosophers. They are numerous too, and fill two handsome volumes. Though Ritson, an editor ridi. culously minute and scrupulous, admitted but eight-and-twenty into his edition, the number might be extended, for the songs ir honor of bold Robin were for centuries popular all over the isle and were they now out of print might be restored, and with additions, from the recitation of thousands, north as well as south. Though modified in their language during their oral transmission from the days of King John till the printing-press took them up, they are in sense and substance undoubtedly ancient. They are the work too of sundry hands : some have a Scottish tone, others taste of the English border; but the chief and most valuable portion belongs to Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, and Yorkshire ; and all—and this includes those with a Scotch sound —are in a true and hearty English taste and spirit.
A few of these ballads are probably the work of some joyous yeoman who loved to range the green woods and enjoy the liberty and license which they afforded ; but we are inclined to regard them chiefly as the production of the rural ballad-maker, a sort of inferior minstrel, who to the hinds and husbandmen was both bard and historian, and cheered their firesides with rude rhymes and ruder legends, in which the district heroes and the romantic stories of the peasantry were introduced with such embellishments as the taste of the reciter considered acceptable. These ballads, graphic as they are, will by some be pronounced rude: we must admit too that they are often inharmonious and deficient in that sequence of sound which critics in these our latter days desire: but the eye, in the times when they were composed, was not called, as now, to the judgment-seat; and the ear—for music accompanied without overpowering the words-was satisfied with anything like similarity of sounds. The ballad-maker therefore was little solicitous about the flow of his words, the harmony of balanced quantities, or the clink of his rhymes. His compositions, delighting as they did our ancestors, sound rough and barsh in the educated ear of our own times, for our taste is delicate in matters of smoothness and melody. They are, however, full of incident and of human character; they reflect the manners and feelings of remote times; they delineate much that the painter has not touched and the historian forgotten ; they express, but without acrimony, a sense of public injury or of private wrong; nay, they sometimes venture into the regions of fancy, and give pictures in the spirit of romance. A hearty relish for fighting and fun; a scorn of all that is skulking and cowardly; a love of whatever is free and manly and warm-hearted; a hatred of all oppressors, clerical and lay; and a sympathy for those who loved a merry joke, either practical or spoken, distinguish the ballads of Robin Hood.
The personal character as well as history of the bold outlaw is stamped on every verse. Against luxurious bishops and tyrannic sheriffs his bow was ever bent and his arrow in the string; he attacked and robbed, and sometimes slew, the latter without either compunction or remorse ; in his more humorsome moods he contented himself with enticing them in the guise of a butcher or a potter, with the hope of a good bargain, into the green wood, where he first made merry and then fleeced them, making them dance to such music as bis forests afforded, or join with Friar Tuck in hypocritical thanksgiving for the justice and mercy they had experienced. Robin's eyes brightened and his language grew poetical when he was aware of the approach of some swollen pluralista Dean of Carlisle or an Abbot of St. Mary's—with sumpter-horses carrying tithes and dining-gear, and a slender train of attendants. He would meet him with great meekness and humility; thank our Lady for having sent a man at once holy and rich into her servant's sylvan diocese; inquire too about the weight of his purse, as if desirous to augment it; but woe to the victim who, with gold in his pocket, set up a plea of poverty. "Kneel, holy man,” Robin would then say, “kneel, and beg of the saint who rules thy abbey-stead to send money for thy present wants ;" and, as the request was urged by quarter-staff and sword, the prayer was a rueful one, while the gold which a search in the prelate's mails discovered was facetiously ascribed to the efficacy of his intercession with his patron saint, and gravely parted between the divine and the robber.
Robin Hood differed from all other patriots-for patriot he was—of whom we read in tale or history. Wallace, to whom he has been compared, was a high-souled man of a sterner stamp,