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To see how these yeomen together they fought
Two howres of a summers day:
Yett neither Robin Hood nor sir Guy
Them fettled to flye away.
Robin was reachles on a roote,
And stumbled at that tyde;
And Guy was quicke and nimble with-all, 155
Ah deere Lady, sayd Robin Hood, 'thou
That art both mother and may,'
I think it was never mans destinye
Robin thought on our ladye deere,
And soone leapt up againe,
And strait he came with a 'backward' stroke,
even "bright brown sword." Chaucer applies the word RUSTIE in the same sense; thus he describes the REVE:
"And by his side he bare a rusty blade.”
And even thus the God MARS:
Prol. ver. 620.
"And in his hand he had a rousty sword."
Test. of Cressid. 188.
Spenser has sometimes used the same epithet. See Warton's Observ. vol. ii. p. 62. It should seem, from this particularity, that our ancestors did not pique themselves upon keeping their weapons bright: perhaps they deemed it more honourable to carry them stained with the blood of their enemies.
Ver. 163. awkwarde. MS.
He took sir Guys head by the hayre,
And sticked itt on his bowes end: Thou hast beene a traytor all thy liffe, Which thing must have an ende.
Robin pulled forth an Irish kniffe,
And nicked sir Guy in the face,
That he was never on woman born,
Cold tell whose head it was.
Saies, Lye there, lye there, now sir Guye,
And with me be not wrothe;
If thou have had the worse strokes at my hand,
Thou shalt have the better clothe.
Robin did off his gowne of greene,
That cladd him topp to toe.
The bowe, the arrowes, and litle horne,
Now with me I will beare;
For I will away to Barnèsdale,
To see how my men doe fare.
Robin Hood sett Guyes horne to his mouth, 185
And a loud blast in it did blow.
That beheard the sheriffe of Nottingham,
As he leaned under a lowe.
Hearken, hearken, sayd the sheriffe,
I heare nowe tydings good,
For yonder I heare sir Guyes horne blowe,
And he hath slaine Robin Hoode.
Yonder I heare sir Guyes horne blowe,
Itt blowes soe well in tyde,
And yonder comes that wightye yeoman,
Come hyther, come hyther, thou good sir Guy, Aske what thou wilt of mee.
OI will none of thy gold, sayd Robin,
Nor I will none of thy fee:
But now I have slaine the master,
Thou art a madman, said the sheriffe,
Thou sholdest have had a knights fee:
But seeing thy asking hath beene soe bad,
When Litle John heard his master speake,
With Christ his might in heaven.
Fast Robin hee hyed him to Little John,
He thought to loose him belive ; The sheriffe and all his companye
Fast after him did drive.
Stand abacke, stand abacke, sayd Robin;
Itt was never the use in our countryè,
Ones shrift another shold heere.
But Robin pulled forth an Irysh kniffe,
And gave him sir Guyes bow into his hand,
Then John he took Guyes bow in his hand, 225 His boltes and arrowes eche one:
When the sheriffe saw Little John bend his bow,
He fettled him to be gone.
Towards his house in Nottingham towne
He fled full fast away;
And soe did all his companye:
Not one behind wold stay.
But he cold neither runne soe fast,
Nor away soe fast cold ryde,
But Little John with an arrowe soe broad
He shoot him into the 'backe'-syde.
The title of SIR was not formerly peculiar to Knights, it was given to Priests, and sometimes to very inferior personages.
Dr. Johnson thinks this title was applied to such as had taken the degree of A. B. in the universities, who are still styled Domini, "Sirs," to distinguish them from Undergraduates, who have no prefix, and from Masters of Arts, who are styled Magistri, "Masters."
ON HENRY FOURTH EARL OF NORTHUMBERLAND.
The subject of this poem, which was written by SKELTON, is the death of HENRY PERCY, fourth earl of Northumberland, who fell a victim to the avarice of Henry VII. In 1489 the parliament had granted the king a subsidy for carrying on the war in Bretagne. This tax was found so heavy in the North, that the whole country was in a flame. The E. of Northumberland, then lord lieutenant for Yorkshire, wrote to inform the king of the discontent, and praying an abatement. But nothing is so unrelenting as avarice: the king wrote back that not a penny should be abated. This message being delivered by the earl with too little caution, the populace rose, and supposing him to be the promoter of their calamity, broke into his house, and murdered him, with several of his attendants, who are yet charged by Skelton with being backward in their duty on this occasion. This melancholy event happened at the earl's seat at Cocklodge, near Thirske, in Yorkshire, April 28, 1489. See Lord Bacon, &c.