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and religious Enterludes of the barbarous ages; in which
“ Lyke Mahound in a play,
Ed. 1736. p. 158.
† So Mr. Johns. in bis Diet,
A SCOTTISH BALLAD,
is given from two MS copies transmitted from Scotland. In what age the hero of this ballad lived, or when this fatal expedition happened that proved to destructive to the Scots nobles, I have not been able to discover ; yet am of opis nion that their catastrophe is not altogether without foundation in hiftory, though it has escaped my researches. In the infancy of navigation, such as used the northern Jeas, were very liable to shipwreck in the wintry months: hence a law was enacted in the reign of James the III, (a law which was frequently repeated afterwards)
" I bat there be na “ schip frauchted out of the realm with ony staple gudes, fra “ the feast of Simons day and Jude, unto the feast of the "purification our Lady called Candelmess.” Yam. III. Parlt 2, Ch. 15.
In some modern copies, instead of Patrick Spence hath been substituted the name of Sir Andrew Wood, a famous Scottish admiral who flourished in the time of our Edw. IV. but whose ftory hath nothing in common with this of the ballad. As Wood was the most noted warrior of Scotland, it is probable that like the Theban Hercules, he hath engrosed the renown of other heroes.
HE king fits in Dumferling toune,
Drinking the blude-reid wine :
To fail this schip of mine ?
Mak hafte, mak haste, my mirry men all,
Our guid schip fails the morne.
For I feir a deadlie storme.
Late late yestreen I saw the new moone
Wi' the auld moone in hir arme;
That we will cum to harme.
O lang, lang, may the ladies stand
Wi' thair gold kems in their hair,
For they'll se thame na mair,
Have owre, have owr to Aberdour,
It's fiftie fadom deip :
Wi' the Scots lords at his feit.
ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE.
The Reader has here a ballad of Robin Hood (from the Editor's folio MS) which was never before printed, and carrues marks of much greater antiquity than any of the common popular songs on this fubjet.
The severity of those iyrannical forest-laws, that were introduced by our Norman kings, and the great temptation of breaking them by such as lived near the royal forests, at a time when the yeomanry of this kingdom were every
where trained up to the long-bow, and excelled all other nations in the art of shocting, must constantly have occafioned great numbers of outlaws, and especially of such as were the best marksmen. These naturally filed to the woods for ßelter, and forming into troops, endeavoured by their numbers to protect themselves from the dreadful penalties of their delinquency. The ancient punishment for killing the king's deer, was loss of eyes and cafiration : a punishment far worse than death. This will easily account for the troops of banditti
, which formerly lurked in the royal forests, and from their fuperior skill in archery and knowledge of all the recesses of those unfrequented Solitudes, found it no dificult matter to refift or elude the civil power.
Among all these, none ever was more famous than the hero of this ballad: the heads of whole fiory, as collected by Stow, are briefly these.
“ In this time (about the year 1190, in the reign of Ri. “shard I.] were many robbers, and outlawes, among
the 66 whicle
" which Robert Hood, and Little John, renowned theeves, " continued in woods, dispoyling and robbing the goods of " the rich. They killed none but such as would invade them, or by resistance for their own defence.
“ The faide Robert intertained an hundred tall men and "good archers with such spoiles and thefts as he got, upon "whom four hundred ( were they never fo ftrong) durft not "give the onset. He suffered no woman to be oppressed, vio“lated, or otherwise molested : poore mens goods he spared, " aboundantlie relieving them with that, which by theft he " got from abbeys and the houses of rich carles : choi " Maior (the historian) blamet b for his rapine and theft, " but of all theeves he affirmeth him to be the prince and the “most gentle theefe." Annals, p. 159.
The personal courage of this celebrated outlaw, his skill in archery, his humanity, and especially his levelling principle of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, have in all ages rendered him the favourite of the common people : who not content to celebrate his memory by innumerable songs and fories, have erected him into the dignity of an earl. Indeed it is not impossible, but our hero, to gain the more respeet from his followers, or they to derive the more credit to their profeffion, may have given rise to such a report themselves : for we find it recorded in an epitaph, which a late antiquary pretends was formerly legible on his tombstone near the nunnery of Kirk-lees in Yorkshire, where he is said to have been bled
death by a treacherous nun to whom he applied for pblebotomy.
Dear undernead dis fairl stean
vil engrand nivir fi igen.
obiit 24 kal. dekennids 1247. See Thoresby's Ducat. Leod. p. 576. Biog. Brit. I'I. 3933.