But he hid among the brush that grew thick upon the field, And received nine wounds before he would yield. It was at a little prairie the place they call Lamar, Where Charlie and his comrade were forced to suffer sore; The Jury found them guilty and the judge gave this reply, "For robbing on the highway you're both condemned to die. This is a more or less complete performance with 11 of the 12 original verses. Only one version I know of offers more interesting variations. Another indication for the popularity of "Brennan On The Moor" in the USA are a couple of songs that have used its melody and structure.
One of their informants reported that she "had learned this song from my mother, who learned it from her boy friend fifty years ago. He learned it 'out West'". Here Brennan and Ireland is simply replaced by Quantrell and Kansas, most likely a reference to William Quantrill , the notorious bushwacker and pro-confederate guerrilla who was busy raiding in Kansas during the Civil War. It seems this song was very rare. I only know of a variant with some minor discrepancies recorded by Glenn Ohrlin in available at The Max Hunter Folk Song Collection and I'm not sure if this is based on Lomax's version or a taken from an independent source.
Rufus W. It was for a long period sung throughout New England". If this song was really written shortly after the battle it was surely not derived from "Brennan On The Moor". At that time Willie Brennan was lying in his cradle, hadn't yet started his career as highwayman and the song about him hadn't been written. I think this melody was only borrowed at a later point, maybe by Burl Ives. It should also be noted that the early printed versions from the 19th century didn't include the refrain used by Ives, Nye and Silverman. Four takes are noted, of which the last was released on The Bootleg Series.
I must admit I was surprised about the wealth of information I was able to find. In the end I simply tried to put it all in the right order to understand the song's history and development. But of course a lot of questions that can't be answered at the moment and there are some loose ends that need to be mentioned. He claims that "one of the most celebrated bagpipe tunes in was 'Brennan on the Moor', a setting of a song written in praise of a noted Irish Tory or Rapparee, William Brennan.
The melody, with its rousing refrain, is now almost forgotten, and the ballad has not been heard in recent years". That's a little irritating to say at least. It would mean that there was an outlaw named William Brennan and a song about him already in But these lines can't be found in any of the printed versions from the Ireland, Britain or the USA nor in any of the variants from oral traditions I have seen.
Everybody knows Robin Hood and in fact every country has its own tradition of outlaw heroes. Ireland in the 19th century is no exception see Cashman. Walsh , p. Not much is known about him except a lot of Brennan On The Moor as sung by the Clancy Brothers 'Tis of a brave young highwayman this story I will tell. Brennan, the bold highwayman, was executed in Clonmel, which is twelve miles from where the Clancys lived [ His father was dispossessed.
His mother was taken from her sick couch and saved from homelessness and want by the generous love and hospitality of the people. But her death followed quickly upon the event and thenceforward Willie Brennan was an outlaw, resolved to protect the poor from the despotism of petty tyrants. He took to his native hills and in a short space of time had surrounded himself with a trusty gang of men injured as he had been and desperate as he was himself.
No oath it is said bound them together but they were simply in league to defend the helpess peasantry against the persecutions of the vampire anstocracy in Ireland. Few names evoked more popularity than that of the rapparee Captain Willie Brennan. One night, in the depth of winter, he took refuge in a cottage at the foot of Galtee More, whose occupant was a woman of unsettled habits [ The troopers came and laid hands upon him while he slept, but nevertheless, Brennan made a gallant struggle for his liberty [ There was no possibility of overpowering the number of his assailants so that he was finally captured and in a brief time, after a routine trial had been gone through, the eventful life of the rapparee Captain Willie Brennan was terminated upon the public scaffold in Clonmel.
There seems to be no doubt that, in common with many others of his class in those troubled times,he was looked on in the light of a popular hero, as the long calvacade, up to two miles in length, that followed his remains to their last resting place in Kilcrumper - midway between Kilworth and Fermoy - testified. His grave is still pointed out beneath a little niche in the only existing wall of the old church of Kilcrumper. I heard the story and many of his wild adventures nearly forty years ago from the lips of an old man who witnessed his funeral.
I never could ascertain what first induced him to 'run the outlaws wild career' [ A number of the other servant boys wagered that he dared not to rob the soldier of his gold watch and chain. Willie accepted the wager and gained the watch and chain, but forfeited hisfreedom: as a result of this reckless act, he was forced to flee to the hills". He listed in the army and then deserted out of it. They were hunting him around the country day and night".
Jackson, of Milgrove, Cork, was stopped in his avenue, by the noted Brennan and four others, who leaped over the hedge, one of who seized his horse by the bridle, and led him back to his house. Jackson strove to detain the banditti as long as possible, in hope of assistance. Jackson with his blunderbuss, and urged him to give up his money.
They remained in the house about three quarters of an hour, during which time near one hundred men colleced about it from the woollen manufactory and neighbourhood and went off, taking with them about 40 guineas in cash, and two guns. Brennan and two of his party took took the mountains behind Millgrove, and were pursued and kept in view by about ten persons, but who unfortunately had but one gun, which was twice snapped at Brennan but missed: Brennan and one of his comrades likewise snapped, but the wetness of the day prevented the pieces from going off.
But the Lord had better luck the next time he tried to catch Brennan as we learn from a report in the Caledonian Mercury on March 18, , at BNA : "Thursday, Lord Cahir, with an armed force, apprehended the notorious Brennan, near Templemore, in the county of Tipperary, together with one of his comrads, a pedlar, who always accompanied him; the pedlar fired several shots, none of which took effect - Brennan made no resistance".
This daring fellow and his party,last night attacked the centinel at Mr. Jackson's, at Milgrove, fired several shots at him, one of which took away part of the skirts of his coat; the centinel returned the fire, and the guard pursued, but without effect. A Gentleman, who either saw Brennan, or had information of his being in the neighboorhood of Tenvurry this morning, rode to Cahir and informed Lord Cahir of it, who instantly ordered out the garrison, who were joined by most of the town.
At the village of Clenmon, which is nearly midway between Tencurry and Cahir Abbey, a close search commenced, and he Pedlar was first discovered in a chimney of a new house, but did not surrender until he ineffectually discharged all his fire-arms. Brennan was at length discovered, about two o'clock this day, by the prod of a soldier's bayonet into a rick of straw, which struck him in the back; and made him spring out, when he was secured - he had nothing on him, except breeches, at the time he was taken".
Brennan lay concealed, masked and armed inside the entrance to a quarry [ As Brennan bent to pick it up, Connor drew a pocket pistol from his overcoat and fired. His aim was true: the ball struck the outlaw. Badly wounded, Brennan dropped his weapon and [ Brennan died by the rope. He was hanged in the town of Clonmel, in or about the year , together with an accomplice, called 'the White Pedlar.
The member for Tipperary, the Hon. Montague Matthew, a brother of the late Lord Landaff, strongly interested himself to procure a remission of his sentence for the convict. It was his belief that he might be effectually reclaimed from his dangerous courses, and render good service to society, by his active exertions as a police officer.
The Duke of Richmond was Lord Lieutenant at that time - and, when the county member vehemently pressed his suit, is said to have answered him, 'I will consent to your proposal upon one condition. Matthew, determined that no trifle should stand between him and the object of his wishes.
He was at length, however, taken, about three months after my recontre with him, and was executed in a short time afterwards. He was the most noted robber that had been in Ireland for some years". An outlaw named Brennan was member of his gang: "Corcoran, the Irish Rebel Chief, who has been for a considerable time the terror of the county of Carlow, and for whose apprehension a large reward was offered by Government, has at length terminated his career.
There is a story told of a shop in Foxford that was being robbed regularly and its owner could never find the culprit at work. Although he hired a guard to protect the property it was still being robbed almost nightly. Captain Gallagher offering his services to apprehend the thief, hid in a large chest in the corner of the shop. The guard arrived and it was not long before he began to pillage the store. When Gallagher got the chance he leapt out of the box and captured the guard who had been the thief all along.
On another occasion a woman was coming from the fair in Tubbercurry having sold her last cow in order to pay her rent to the local landlord. Nightfall was approaching as she passed through the Windy Gap near Lough Talt when she spotted a shadow in the distance. As they met, the person spoke and asked her where she was going in such a hurry. She replied that she was trying to reach home before dark in case Captain Gallagher robbed her.
On hearing this the man smiled and gave her the price of the cow and the money with which to pay the rent. He told her to go away home and tell them that Captain Gallagher was not as bad a rogue as he was made out to be. On another occasion Gallagher escaped through the window of a house as a party of military accompanied by a magistrate entered the front door. Following narrow escapes Captain Gallagher was finally captured. His band had already been arrested near Westport but Gallagher managed to escape. There are many tales as to where he was actually captured, but much of the evidence seems to point to the small mountainside townland of Rooskey on the border of Attymass and Foxford.
According to local legend he was staying in a local house while recovering from an illness. He was given a meal, which had been laced with poteen, after which he fell asleep. To convince Ratsey how trusted a person she was, she foolishly showed where she had placed the bag ; and as soon as her back was turned he had taken it from the cupboard where it lay, and made off. When the farmer returned and wanted his money, there was the very deuce to pay.
HALF-HOURS WITH THE HIGHWAYMEN
He and the landlady went off to the nearest justice and swore an information against Gamaliel, who was arrested and thrown into prison, but not before he had found time to return home and bury the bag in the garden. In confidence he told his mother where it was hid, his mother told his sister, his sister told her husband, her husband told his friends, and so at last the confession reached the ears of the justices.
Gamaliel would undoubtedly have been hanged on that occasion, only he broke prison and escaped, clad only in his shirt. His further adventures with Snell and Shorthose, two companions of like inclination, are in themselves amusing when reduced to less stilted language than that of the Life. So it was not from any want of acquaint- ance with the best models that the unnamed author of Eatsey's life failed to put life into his narrative.
The incident is treated in as dead and wooden a manner as the rest. We find almost exactly parallel stories in Smith and Johnson. In those pages it is Sir Josselin? Joscelin Denville and his numerous band of robbers, who, meeting a Benedictine monk in a wood, make him preach a sermon in praise of thieving. Captain Dudley, a hundred years or so later, is represented demanding a sermon from a clergyman. More shadowy even than Robin Hood, is " Thomas Dun.
The curious " moral reflection " prefaced to Thomas Dun's entirely apocryphal adventures is itself worth reproducing. It says : " A man who is not forced from necessity or a desire of pleasure to become dishonest, but follows his natural dispositions in robbing and maltreating others, will generally be found to be destitute of every humane and generous principle. Johnson did not, of course, invent Thomas Dun. He is the child of the ages. Equally with Robin Hood, every generation, until the decay of folklore, added some new touch to him, and Johnson did but reduce him to print, add a little more, and shape him out of the somewhat formless but threatening figure he presented.
There is this much basis for him : that, on the site of the town of Dunstable, and for some distance along the Holyhead Road in that direc- tion, there extended, from Saxon times until the reign of Henry the First, a dense thicket of scrub woods, overgrowing the ancient ruins of the Roman station of Durocobrivce. From the time of the Norman conquest the neighbourhood had been infested with robbers, and it was to drive them out and establish some sort of order that the king had clearings made in the woods that afforded such safe harbourage for outlaws.
Under Royal encouragement a new town was founded, and in given, with the rights of market, to a priory that had been founded in the meanwhile. The wool market was the most important at Dunstable ; the monks long maintaining great flocks of sheep on the adjacent downs. The robhers became only a memory, but a memory that never faded.
It merely took on another form, and in the course of time the name of the town itself was twisted into an allusion to them and to their leader. It needed the col- lusion of gross ignorance and wild legend to effect so much, but the thing was done ; and for cen- turies Dunstable was, and perhaps even now is, locally said to owe its name to " Dun's Stable," a hollow in the chalk downs, pointed out as having been the place where " Dun," the entirely ima- ginary leader of the outlaws, stabled his horse.
If you doubt this there is the town seal to con- vince the sceptical, showing as it does what is said to be a horseshoe a shoe of Dun's horse! The legendary Dun was a kind of bogey to the children of the neighbourhood, and in John- son's pages is a most bloodthirsty creature. There we read that his first exploit was on the highway to Bedford, where he met a waggon full of corn, going to market, drawn by a fine team of horses. He accosted the waggoner, and in the midst of conversation stabbed him to the heart with a dagger.
He buried the body, and drove the waggon off to the town, where he sold the corn and the waggon as well, and then disappeared! The company soon arrived, and while the lawyers thought Dun a servant of the inn, the innkeeper thought him an attendant of the lawyers. He bustled about, and on the bill being called for, collected the amount, and walked off with it. The company, tired of waiting for him to return with their change, rang the bell for it, and then discovered him to be an impostor. And the hats and cloaks and the silver spoons had gone too.
Dun became such a terror, that the sheriff of Bedford assembled a considerable force to attack him and his band. But Dun, finding his own men to equal, if not actually to outnumber, those sent against him, assumed the offensive, and, furiously attacking the sheriff's expedition, routed it and took eleven prisoners, whom he hanged upon trees in the woods, by way of a hint how rash a thing it was to interfere with him.
Re- moving the prisoners' clothing, they dressed themselves in it, and forming a plan to rob the castle of a neighbouring nobleman, appeared before it in the uniform of the sheriff's men and DUN 21 demanded admission, "to search for Dun. Upon a complaint being lodged with the sheriff, the ruse was belatedly discovered. It would be wearisome to follow all the fables that tell of Dun's twenty years' bloodstained progress to the scaffold.
There is this much to be said in commendation of the popular legends of bandits : that when they are shown to be really bad, without redeeming traits, the legends duly see to it that justice is satisfied. And so with Dun, who is made to end disastrously at Bedford, even without the advantage of a formal trial. The crowds who gloated horribly over executions at Tyburn and elsewhere never had so great a treat as pictured in this fictitious scene : but this was merely the appetiser, the anchovies, so to speak, before the more solid course. Better was to follow. The original executioners having been put out of action by Dun's violence, reinforcements were brought to bear, and did their business very effectually.
The horrible scene was then concluded by severing his head from the body, and consuming it to ashes. The other portions were set up in the principal places of Bedfordshire. THE mythical Thomas Dun's redeeming qualities, supposing him, indeed, to have possessed any, are not set forth in those legends of him. He is a blackguard shape ; while the equally legendary Robin Hood is one of the brightest figures of romance.
Robin Hood is a poor man's hero, and has been, for over seven centuries, to the peasantry of England something of what King Arthur was to the nobles and the aristocracy. While Arthur was, and is some day again to be, the national hero in the larger issues of war and conquest, Robin remains the lion-hearted outlaw ; warring from his boskage in the greenwood of Sherwood Forest, or Barnsdale, against the rich oppressors of the people, whether they be the nobles or the fat ecclesiastics of mediaeval satire.
He is as pervasive as the winds, and came whence no one knows, but may be traced back to the reign of Edward the Second, when he was already fully established as a ballad hero. Ritson, who collected and edited the ancient literature referring to him, is of opinion that he was a real person, Robert Fitzooth, and was born at Locksley, in Nottinghamshire, in But no evidence settles that point, and it is abundantly possible that he was really evolved from dim memories of Hereward the Wake, the Saxon hero, who long withstood William the Norman in the fens of Ely. In course of time his championship of a conquered nation was lost sight of, and merged into the endearing character of an English yeoman, outlawed for debt, taking refuge with others of his kin in the forest, whence they levied toll upon the oppressor, and, as they themselves were outlawed, respected no law, save that of the greenwood, where the best man was he who could draw the stoutest bow and shoot the straightest ; who could make the best play with that truly English weapon, the quarter-staff, or deal the mightiest blow with the fist.
The whole cycle of Robin Hood legend is delightfully and most characteristically English, instinct with the purest and most passionate love of the countryside, and nerved with the champion- ship of manhood's rights and with the fiercest hatred of the law and of the ruling classes in days when laws were the repressive measures instituted by the wealthy for the purpose of denying simple ROBIN HOOD 25 justice to the poor.
The hatred of authority and the armed resistance to it, that are the leading features of Robin Hood legend, are no mere criminal traits, but violent protests the only kind of protest then possible against the bloody forest laws of the Norman and Plantagenet times, and the system by which the peasantry were serfs, with no more social rights than the negroes o o enjoyed before their emancipation in Robin Hood legend was for centuries the expression of what might now be styled Liberal, or even Radical, or Socialist opinion, but it has an innate poetry and chivalry which those modern schools of thought conspicuously lack ; and indeed, as personal liberty broadened, so did the legends of this splendid figure of romance become blunted and vulgarised in the countryside, until he is made interchangeable with the highwaymen who had only their own pockets to fill and no cause to represent.
How popular and how astonishingly widespread was the story of Robin Hood, we may readily guess from the many places or natural objects named after him. They are in the nature of sepulchral barrows. Prom there, says legend, Robin Hood shot an arrow that sped the mile and a half to Ludlow church, and fixed itself on the apex of the gable of the north transept! An arrow is certainly there, but Robin never shot it. The forest of Inglewood, in Cumberland, is indeed associated with other outlaws as legendary as Robin himself or as that Irish figure of wild romance, " Rory o' the Hills.
It would be a thankless office to dwell greatly upon the probability that Robin Hood, as an individual person, never existed, and that he was perhaps not even typical of the woodland outlaws of old, whose ideas and practices doubtless fell far short of the ballad Robin's ideals. ROBIN HOOD 29 more pleasant to consider the romantic spirit that evolved him and gave him his exquisite setting of mossy glades and giant oaks, where the sun comes in golden-green shafts through the em- bowering foliage, and you hear the winding of the hunters' horns in chase of the deer.
There is a springtime gladness in the old verses, of which this is typical : Whan shaws bene sheene and shroddes full fayre, And leaves both large and longe, Itt's merry walking in the fayre forrist To hear the small birdes songe. To se the dere draw to the dale, And leve the hilles hee, And shadow hern in the leva's grene, Under the grene-wode tre. It is the springtime of the year and of the English nation that you glimpse in these lines ; a picture of that larger rural England of possible adventure, and uncontaminated skies that is now a thing of the past. Nature is portrayed in these ballads with a vividness and certainty that more ambitious poets cannot match : The woodweele sang and wold not cease, Sitting upon the spraye, Soe lowde, he wakened Robin Hood, In the greenwood where he lay.
It is versification of the simplest and the most sincere kind. Robin Hood, real or imaginary character, has himself no criminal taint, but he is one of the VOL. It does not, or should not, sully his fame, that the stream becomes polluted with much vileness as it flows down the channel of time. The poor thread- bare rags of chivalry are thrown over the recreant shoulders of the highwaymen, but they suit them ill ; and the fine clothes the highwaymen some- times wore and the excellent horses they rode, do not hide from us their essential coarseness.
When Langland's Vision of Piers Plowman was written, about , Robin Hood long had been a popular figure ; and in that wonderful descriptive poem we find, among those lifelike figures, Sloth, the priest, who confesses himself ignorant of hymns of the Saviour and the Virgin, and unable even to repeat his paternoster ; " but," he says, " I can ryme of Robin Hode.
In the oldest ballad surviving of him, he is found lamenting that he has not been to mass for a fortnight, and he thereupon, at great risk, ROBIN HOOD 31 goes to Nottingham town, to repair the omission. He especially venerated the Virgin, and is in one ballad found to be so extremely devoted to his religious duties as to have three masses daily, before dinner. At the same time, although he is found de- claring to his band that no damage is to be done to any husbandman " that tylleth with his plough," nor to any good yeoman, nor to any knight or squire " that wolde be a good felowe," he delights in persecuting ecclesiastical dignitaries.
A fat abbot, or a steward of a monastery, unlucky enough to fall in with him, has a weary time of it. The higher these personages, the worse the treatment meted out to them. One of the chief exploits of Robin with the dignified clergy was the traditional meeting with the Bishop of Hereford, in Skelbrooke Park, where he was said to have made the Bishop dance round an oak, and then, after plundering him, to have left him bound securely to the tree.
Variations of the story are met with in plenty in legends of other outlaws and highway- men. The petitioners solicited help to pro- cure the arrest of a certain Piers Venables and others who, it is stated, " wente into the wodes like as it hadde be Robyn-hode and his meyne. In the earliest ballad extant of his exploits, we learn how, going piously into the town for the feast of Pentecost, he met an old monk whom he had once robbed of The monk " betrays " him, and to prevent his escape the town gates are closed.
Robin, seeking to leave, is captured, after a desperate resistance, and thrown into prison ; and the false-hearted monk sets out for London, to convey the welcome news to the King, who will be delighted to learn that the bold outlaw is at last laid by the heels. But Little John and Much waylay the monk, and kill him and his little page, and themselves, with the despatches, seek audience of the King, who sends a command by them to the Sheriff of Nottingham, ordering him to bring Robin Hood before him.
Arriving at Nottingham, these bearers of the King's commands are received with due honours and elaborately entertained.
The Stolen Child.
Then they return happily to the forest. The ballad ends by the pardon of Little John, in consideration of his fidelity to his chief. Another ballad tells of the adventure of Robin and the potter. Meeting an itinerant seller of earthenware pots, Robin challenges him to the usual test of who is best man, a fight with quarter- staff.
On this occasion he meets his match and is badly beaten. But there was never such a hungry man for a fight as our hero, and he then suggested a combat with swords, in which he was also vanquished. Then he changes clothes with the man of pots, buys his stock, and goes to Nottingham, where he sells them at less than cost price and so makes a speedy clearance of all but five. These he gives to the sheriff's wife, who then invites him to dinner.
At the dinner- table he hears of a trial of skill at archery to be decided that afternoon, and attends and surpasses all competitors. The sheriff asks him of whom he learned such marvellous archery. The pre- tended potter then conducts him into the depths of the forest and there blows a single blast upon his horn. Immediately they are surrounded by Robin's own merry men, who compel the sheriff to leave his horse and other gear ; glad enough to get away on any terms.
They were all squires of dames, and in this at least were equal, in theory at any rate, to the best " perfit gentil knight " that ever wore a lady's kerchief. Courtesy to beauty in distress was ever one of the chiefest salves with which bandits salved their self-respect. No sentence of outlawry could make them rue, if to that principle they held them true.
Even an outlaw had his ideals : to play special providence, to succour the distressed, to punish the oppressor, and " never to lay hands on a woman, save in the way of kindness. We have the historical instance of that adventure of the fugitive Queen of Henry the Sixth, lost in in the wilds of Staffordshire, after the disastrous battle of Blore Heath.
Plying from that stricken field, on horseback, with her son, the youthful Prince Edward and one only retainer, the little party were surprised in the mountainous district of Axe Edge by a band of robbers, who seized their money, jewels, and every article of value. These savage men knew nothing O O of their rank, save that they were obviously people of quality.
Menaces were growled out, and swords drawn. Margaret of Anjou, the high- spirited Queen, seeing the bandits so engaged with each other, took her son by the arm and hurried with him into an adjacent wood. We hear no more of the solitary retainer. He seems to have left early. The Queen and her son had not gone far when they encountered another outlaw. With the simple frankness of a great despair, she threw herself and the young Prince upon his mercy. Taking them under his protection, he con- ducted them by secret and intricate ways into the comparative safety of the Lancastrian head- quarters.
But to resume our Robin.
Sachin Date (Author of An Illustrated Guide to Mobile Technology)
The fate of Guy of Gisborne shows how rash it was to attack our friend in Lincoln green, who was by no means so green as he looked. Guy had sworn to apprehend the outlaw, and roamed the forest in search of him, in a " capull hyde," which is said to mean a horse's skin. Guy found him at last, with disas- trous results to himself, for Robin slew him and man- gled his body with what is particularly described as an " Irish knife.
Robin's men had, however, the worst of the fight, and Little John had heen taken prisoner and bound fast to a tree. Robin, drawing near his men's haunts, blew a blast upon the horn he had taken, and the sheriff, recognising the note, and thinking it was Guy of Gisborne, come back victorious, went to meet him, with the result that he and his force were taken, and Robin's men released. The many scattered ballads of Robin Hood that had long passed from mouth to mouth were collected, edited, and printed about by "Wynkyn de Worde, under the title of A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode and his meyne, and of the proude Sheryfe of Notyngham.
According to this, the home of Robin Hood was in Barnsdale, the woodland tract between Doncaster and Pontefract. There Little John and two companions waylay Sir Richard at the Lea, a knight passing through the forest : a melan- choly man, as sad as he of the Rueful Counten- ance. He is not afraid to accompany the rovers to their master, for he has little to lose. But Robin, far from ill-using, entertains him to a sumptuous dinner, served by what marvellous means we are not told in the merry greenwood.
Such mediaeval delicacies as swans, with, of course, pheasants, smoke at the outlaw's spread. The feast being concluded, the knight prepares to depart ; but " Pay you, ere you wend! But his son was unlucky enough to kill a Lancashire knight, and a squire as well, in a joust ; and, to help pay the penalty of his son's mishap, the father's goods had been " sette and solde," and his lands pledged to the Abbot of St. Mary's, for four hundred pounds. The day for repayment of this loan was close at hand, and the knight, unprovided with money, already foresees his estate pass from him.
Robin Hood then asks him, who would be the knight's surety, if he advanced the sum. He can offer no surety, save Our Lady, who had never failed him before. The whole band enter deeply into their leader's feelings, and weep salt tears over the knight's misfortunes, and themselves contribute liberally to supply his needs. The second " fytte," or act, is placed at St. Mary's Abbey, on the day of reckoning, and the abbot is introduced, chuckling at the absence of the knight, and the probability of his lands being forfeited.
The prior entreats his superior to show a little pity, but his call for moderation is scorn- fully rejected by the abbot, and by the cellarer, a fatheaded monk of the type made familiar in modern German paintings of tonsured voluptuaries eyeing tables full of food and stroking their paunches.
In midst of these proceedings, the knight enters, and humbly begs for an extension of time ; but the abbot insists on his bond, and will have, and at once, either the money or the land. Then the high justice is introduced, as moderator : "What will ye gyve more?
The debt thus paid, the knight takes leave of the disappointed abhot, and " went hym forthe full merye syngynge, as men have told the tale. The third fytte tells the adventures of Little John, who, straying into Nottingham, attracts the attention of the sheriff by his skill in archery, and enters into his service for one year, in the name of Reynold Greenleaf. But in a little while, in the sheriff's absence, Little John raises a quarrel in the house and runs away with the cook.
Together they go off to the greenwood, with the family plate, and ready money, " three hundred pounds and three. The seizure is easily made, and the sheriff is taken to the foresters' camp, where supper is served to him on his own plate. The fourth fytte opens with the cellarer of St. Mary's, travelling with a large sum of money. He falls in with Robin and his men, but declares he has only twenty marks. Little John, however, on searching him, discovers eight hundred pounds ; whereupon Robin Hood exclaims that the money must be sent by Our Lady, who, with her accus- tomed goodness, had doubled the sum he lent the knight.
The monk is then bidden go his way, after refusing a parting glass ; vowing, with much truth, that he might have dined cheaper at Blyth or Doncaster.
The knight, at this moment, arrives with the money to repay his loan. Robin accepts his presents, but will not take the money, as Our Lady has just now paid it back, together with another four hundred pounds, which he begs the knight to accept. The fifth fytte opens with the Sheriff of Nottingham proclaiming a shooting match. Robin attends, and bears off the prize, but as he leaves the town, the cry of " Robin Hood " is raised.
In this desperate pass, he entreats his captain to smite off his head with his sword, ROBIN HOOD 43 so that he may not fall alive into the hands of the enemy, hut Robin indignantly refuses. Little Much takes him on his back, and carries him off, halting from time to time to speed arrows into the ranks of the pursuing sheriff's men.
They then all escape to the castle of their knightly friend, who, in the sixth fytte, is waylaid, and carried off by the sheriff. The knight's lady then appeals to Robin Hood, who calls his men, and, proceeding to Nottingham, slays the " proud Sheriff " and releases the knight. In the seventh fytte we have the arrival of " our comely King," Edward the Third, at Nottingham, come to inquire into a complaint the sheriff had made against the knight for harbouring outlaws. The King, for a whole year, endeavours to capture Robin or the knight, but has no sort of success until a forester offers, if the King will assume the costume of an abbot, to conduct him to the outlaws' retreat, " a mile under the lynde " ; i.
This offer is accepted, and Robin receives the pretended abbot with unusual courtesy, taking but one-half of the forty pounds he offers for ransom of himself. The " abbot " then produces a summons under the Royal seal, inviting Robin to Nottingham " both to meat and meal. Robin misses by three fingers and more, and the King is entitled to inflict the penalty.
He hesitates. Such an exhibition of vigour was more convincing than moral suasion, and Robin, perceiving that this is no abbot, but the King himself, submits at once, with his men. The sovereign graciously pardons them and invites them to London.
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The eighth fytte concludes the story. Robin and his men follow the King to the Court ; but within a year the love of the free and unconven- tional forest had lured away all but Robin and two companions, and Robin himself was sick to be gone. The finishing: touch was the sight of 5 a gathering of young archers. So he forswears the Court, and retires again to the forest.
After the medical fashion of the time, the remedy was to he slightly bled ; hut the treacherous prioress, and one Sir Roger of Doncaster, opened a vein by which he bled to death : dying " from the perfidy of a woman," as had been prophesied. From the chamber in the gatehouse of the priory where he lay, he shot his final arrow, his faithful Little John whom he had summoned by three blasts of his horn, supporting him.
The spot where the arrow fell was to be his grave, and there Little John was to lay him, with his bow bent by his side, a turf under his head, and another at his feet. The old ballad of his affect- ing end piously concludes : Crist have mercy on his sowle That dyed on the rood, For he was a good outlawe And dyde pore men much good. It still, however, imposes upon the credulous and supports the somewhat sweeping saying current in Camden's time : "Tales of Robin Hood are good for fools.
A Faerie Child
In we hear a grumbling voice speaking of Robin, Little John, Friar Tuck, and the others of that immortal band, " of whom the foolish vulgar, in comedies and tragedies, make entertainments, and are delighted to hear the jesters and minstrels sing them, above all other ballads. I tarried there half an hour and more, and at last the key was found ; and one of the parish comes to me, and says, ' Sir, this is a busy day with us, we cannot hear you ; it is Robin Hood's Day. The parishes are gone abroad to gather for Robin Hood. Thus the fabricated " epitaph " at Kirklees must itself have been, as it were, a by-product of this play.
Maid Marian and several other characters who appear in it originated only a century earlier, and have no part in the earliest ballads. The play then gradually merged into May Day festivities and the once familiar " Jack-in-the-Green," extinct only within the last forty years, but greatly vulgarised towards the end, when chimney-sweeps acted " Jacks-in-the-Green," and the Maids Marian were too often fat and fiery -faced sluts.
The entertainment was found all too often outside public-houses. Robin Hood has, of course, equally with other heroes, suffered greatly from being continually VOL. How should he escape the fate that King Arthur experienced, of being made into a distinctly Victorian gentleman? Tennyson has re-dressed old Robin, with new clothes and a new conscience, in The Foresters ; Robin Hood and Maid Marian, and there you cannot but entertain the horrible suspicion that he has become a typically respect- able mid- Victorian, and that if any one offered to exchange his greenwood tree for a " parlour " with perhaps a suite of walnut furniture up- holstered in green repp, and a marble clock with a couple of glass lustres on the dining-room mantel-piece, he would gladly accept, forswear his woodland glades, and live cleanly thereafter.
But the two most striking evidences of the old-time popularity of Robin Hood, not so long dead, are found in the many inns named after him, and in that great friendly society, the " Ancient Order of Foresters," whose title is directly inspired by the legendary story of Robin and his fellow outlaws. No one who has ever seen the Foresters in their regalia at their annual day at the Crystal Palace can have any doubt of that inspiration. Good men and bad were alike steeped in a degrading belief in white and black magic, portents, and omens.
Magical aids in the prose- cution of both innocent and guilty enterprises were employed ; and among them none more fear- ful than the charm known generally as the " Hand of Glory " : the " open sesame " of thieves and assassins, among whom, it is to be feared, we must include not a few of our " romantic " high- waymen ; although probably the larger number of them would actually have felt themselves insulted at being styled thieves, and certainly only a minority slew wilfully.
Most desired nothing so little as to shed blood, in spite of the terrible alternative they threatened " Your money, or your life! It appears to have originally derived from mediaeval Germany, that storehouse of terrible imaginings. What the " Hand of Glory " was, and the effect it produced, may be seen better by the following quotation from the Ingoldsby Legends, which is one of the most genuinely thrilling passages in literature.
It is full of the most dreadful description, but exquisitely done : On the lone bleak moor, At the midnight hour, Beneath the Gallows Tree, Hand in hand The Murderers stand, By one, by two, by three! And the moon that night With a grey, cold light, Each baleful object tips ; One half of her form Is seen through the storm, The other half's hid in Eclipse!
And the cold wind howls, And the Thunder growls, And the Lightning is broad and bright ; And altogether It's very bad weather, And an unpleasant sort of a night! Now climb who dare Where he swings in air, And pluck me five locks of the Dead Man's hair! Fly bolt, and bar, and band! Nor move, nor swerve, Joint, muscle, or nerve, At the spell of the Dead Man's hand! Sleep, all who sleep! Wake, all who wake! But be as the Dead, for the Dead Man's sake! One wild and bitter night the sort of night when homeless wayfarers were more than usually to be pitied a man clad in ragged clothes knocked at the door of a lone inn on a solitary moor, and asked for a lodging.
There was no accommodation to spare, but as the night was so inclement and the way was long to the next house, he was told that if he liked, he might lie in the front of the kitchen fire. He accepted this offer with every appearance of thankfulness, and soon after, when the family had gone to bed, he was left there.
But although the innkeeper and his family had retired and left the stranger alone, the servant was still engaged for a few minutes in another room which chanced to command a view of the kitchen. The girl rushed upstairs to warn her master of these extraordinary doings, but she found him and his family all already in a charmed sleep.
It was impossible to arouse them; and here she found herself alone in the house with the evil-intentioned stranger and his uncanny move- ments. She quietly went downstairs again and saw the beggarman exploring the house and collecting articles that appeared to him worth taking. Still on the kitchen table burnt the four fingers of the Hand of Glory, in blue, sickly flames ; but the thumb was not burning.
To that fact was due the circumstance that one person in the house remained unaffected by the spell. Stealing on noiseless feet into the kitchen, she blew upon the Hand, but could not blow it out. She poured beer over it, but the Hand only seemed to burn better. She tried water, but that appeared to have no effect, one way or the other. Then she emptied the milk-jug over it. Immediately the place was in darkness, except for the glow of the kitchen-fire. The spell was instantly re- moved, the sleepers awakened, and the robber seized and afterwards tried and hanged. Harrison Ainsworth, revelling as always in the horrible, gives us his version of the Hand of Glory in Rookwood.
Those ghastly fingers, white and cold, Within a winding-sheet enfold ; Count the mystic count of seven ; Name the Governors of Heaven, Then in earthly vessel place them, And with dragon-wort encase them; Bleach them in the noon-day sun, Till the marrow melt and run, Till the flesh is pale and wan.
As a moon-ensilver'd cloud As an unpolluted shroud. Next within their chill embrace The dead man's awful candle place ; Of murderer's fat must that candle be, You may scoop it beneath the roadside tree Of wax and of Lapland sesame. Its wick must be twisted of hair of the dead, By the crow and her brood on the wild waste shed.