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who loved better to see tyrants die than gain all the gold the world had to give; and Rob Roy, to whom the poet of Rydal Mount has likened the outlaw of Sherwood, had little of the merry humor and romantic courtesy of bold Robin. This seems to have arisen more from the nature than the birth of the man; he was no lover of blood, nay, he delighted in sparing those who sought his life when they fell into his power; and he was beyond all examples, even of knighthood, tender and thoughtful about women; even when he prayed, he preferred our Lady to all the other saints in the calendar. Next to the ladies, he loved the yeomanry of England; he molested no hind at the plough, no thresher in the barn, no shepherd with his flocks; he was the friend and protector of husbandman and bind, and woe to the priest who fleeced or the noble that oppressed them. The widow too and the fatherless he looked upon as under his care, and wheresoever he went some old woman was ready to do him a kindness for a saved son or a rescued husband.

The personal strength of the outlaw was not equal to his activity; but his wit so far excelled his might that he never found use for the strength which he had—so well did he form his plans and work out all his stratagems. If his chief delight was to meet with a fierce sheriff or a purse-proud priest, “all under the greenwood tree,” his next was to encounter some burley groom who refused to give place to the king of the forest, and was ready to make good his right of way with cudgel or sword; the tinker, who, with his crab-tree staff, “ made Robin's sword cry twang," was a fellow of their stamp. With such companions he recruited his bands when death or desertion 'thinned them, and it seemed that to be qualified for his service it was necessary to excel him at the use of the sword or the quarter staff; bis skill in the bow was not so easily approached. He was a man too of winning manners and captivating address, for his eloquence, united with his woodland cheer, sometimes prevailed on the very men who sought his life to assume his livery, and try the pleasures which Barnesdale or Plompton afforded.

The high blood of Robin seems to have been doubted by Sir Walter Scott, who, in the character of Locksley, makes the traditionary Earl of Huntingdon but a better sort of rustic, with manners rather of a franklin than a noble. Popular belief is, however, too much even for the illustrious author of “ Ivanhoe,” and bold Robin will remain an earl while woods grow and waters run. He was born, it is believed, in Nottinghamshire in the year 1160, and during the reign of Henry II. In his youth he was extravagant and wild, dissipated part of his patrimony, and was juggled out of the remainder by the united powers of a sheriff and an abbot. This made him desperate, drove him to the woods; and in the extensive forests which reached from Nottingham over several counties he lived a free life with comrades whom bis knowledge of character collected, and who soon learned to value a man who planned enterprises with judgment, and executed them with intrepidity and success. He soon became famous over the whole island, and with captains after his own heart, such as Little John, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, and Allan-a-Dale, he ranged at will through the woodlands, the terror alike of the wealthy and the tyrannic. Nay, tradition, as well as ballad, avers, that a young lady of beauty, if not of rank, loved his good looks as well as his sylvan license so much, that she accompanied him in many of his expeditions.

“In these forests,” says Ritson, “and with this company, he for many years reigned like an independent sovereign; at perpetual war with the King of England and all his subjects, with the exception, however, of the poor and the needy, or such as were desolate and oppressed, or stood in need of his protection.” This wild life had for Robin charms of its own; it suited the taste of a bigh but irregular mind to brave all the constituted authorities in the great litigated rights of free forestry; the deer with which the woods swarmed afforded food for all who had the art to bend a bow; and a ruined tower, a shepherd's hut, a cavern or a thicket,

" When leaves were sharp and long,"

gave such shelter as men who were not scrupulous about bed or toilet desired ; while wealthy travellers or churchmen abounding in tithes supplied them, though reluctantly, with Lincoln green for Joublets and wine for their festivals. Into Robin's mode of life the poet Drayton, who might have been a striker of deer in his day, has entered with equal knowledge and spirit:

“An hundred valiant men had this brave Robin Hood,

Still ready at his call, that bowmen were right good,
All clad in Lincoln green, with caps of red and blue,
His fellows' winded horn not one of them but knew,
When setting to their lips their little bugles shrill,
The warbling echoes waked from erery dale and hill.
Their baldricks set with studs, athwart their shoulders cast,
To which below their arms their sheafs were buckled fast;
A short sword at their belt, a buckler scarce a span,
Who struck below the knee not counted was a man:
All made of Spanish yew, their bows were wondrous strong,
They not an arrow drew, but was a cloth yard long :
of atchery they had the very perfect craft,
With broad arrow, or butt, or prick, or roving shaft.
Their arrows finely paired for timber and for feather,
With birch and brazil pierced to fly in any weather;
And shot they with the round, the square, or forked pile,
They loose gave such a twang as might be heard a mile.”

Nor was the poet unaware of the way in which Robin maintained all this bravery :

“From wealthy abbots' chests and churls' abundant store
What oftentimes he took he shared amongst the poor ;
No lordly bishop came in lusty Robin's way,
To him, before he went, but for his pass must pay.”

In that wild way, and with no better means than his ready wit and his matchless archery, Robin baffled two royal invasions of Sherwood and Barnesdale, repelled with much effusion of blood half a score of incursions made by errant knights and armed sheriffs, and, unmoved by either the prayers or the thunders of the church, he reigned and ruled till age crept upon him, and illness, arising from his exposure to summer's heat and winter's cold, followed, and made him, for the first time, seek the aid of a leech. This was a fatal step: the lancet of his cousin, the Prioress of Kirklees Nunnery, in Yorkshire, to whom he had recourso in his distress, freed both church and state from farther alarm by treacherously bleeding him to death. “Such," exclaims Ritson, more moved than common, “was the end of Robin Hood; a man who, in a barbarous age and under complicated tyranny, displayed a spirit of freedom and independence which has endeared him to the common people whose cause he maintained, and which, in spite of the malicious endeavors of pitiful monks, by whom history was consecrated to the crimes and follies of titled ruffians and sainted idiots, to suppress all record of his patriotic exertions and virtuous acts, will render bis name immortal."

The personal character of Robin Hood stands high in the pages of both history and poetry. Fordun, a priest, extols bis piety; Major pronounces him the most humane of robbers ; and Camden, a more judicious authority, calls him the gentlest of thieves, while in the pages of the early drama he is drawn at heroic length, and with many of the best attributes of human nature. . His life and deeds have not only supplied materials for the drama and the ballad, but proverbs have sprung from them: he stands the demigod of English archery ; men used to swear both by his bow and his clemency; festivals were once annually held, and games of a sylvan kind celebrated in his honor, in Scotland as well as in England. The grave where he lies has still its pilgrims : the well out of which he drank still retains his name; and his bow and one of his broad arrows were within this century to be seen in Fountains Abbey


The longest of all the ballads which bear the name of Robin Hood was first printed at the Sun, in Fleet Street, by Wynken de Worde. It is called " A little Geste of Robin Hood;" but so ill-in formed was the printer in the outlaw's history, that he describes it as a story of King Edward, Robin Hood, and Little John. It is perhaps one of the oldest of these compositions. The ballad begins somewhat in the minstrel manner :

Come lithe a listen, gentlemen,

That be of free-born blood,
I shall tell you of a good yeoman,

His name was Robin Hood.
Robin he was a proud outlaw

As ever walked on ground;
So courteous an outlaw as he was

Has never yet been found.

It then proceeds to relate how Robin stood in Barnesdale Wood, with all his companions beside him, and refused to go to dinner till he should find some bold baron or unasked guest, either clerical or lay, with wealth sufficient to furnish forth his table. On this, Little John, who seems always to have had a clear notion of the work in hand, inquired anxiously,

Where shall we take, where shall we leave,

Where shall we abide behind,
Where shall we rob, where shall we reave,

Where shall we beat and bind ?

There is no force, said bold Robin,

Can well withstand us now;
So look ye, do no husbandman harm

That tilleth with his plough.

He gives similar directions about tenderly treating honest yeomen, and even knights and squires disposed to be good fellows; but beat,” said he, “and bind bishops and archbishops; and be sure never to let the high sheriff of Nottingham out of your mind." "Your words shall be our law," said Little John; and you will forgive me for wishing for a wealthy customer soon-I long for dinner.” One, a knight, with all the external marks of a golden prize, was first observed by Little John, approaching on horseback through one of the long green glades of Barnesdale Wood: the stranger is well drawn:

All dreary then was his semblaunt,

And little was his pride;
His one foot in the stirrup stood,

The other waved beside.

His hood hung over his two eyne;

He rode in simple array,
A sorrier man than he was one

Rode never in summer's day.

"I greet you well,” said Little John, “and welcome you to the greenwood; my master has refused to touch his dinner these three hours, expecting your arrival.” “And who is your master," inquired the stranger, " that shows me 80 much courtesy ?” “E'en Robin Hood," said the other, meekly. “Ah, Robin Hood !” replied the stranger, he is a good yeoman and true, and I accept his invitation.” Little John, who never doubted but that the stranger was simulating sorrow and poverty, the better to hide his wealth, conducted him at once to the trystıng-tree, whcre Robin received him with a kindly air and a cheerful countenance.

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