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To see how these yeomen together they fought
Robin was reachles1 on a roote,
Ah deere Lady, sayd Robin Hood, tho
Robin thought on our ladye deere,
He took sir Guys head by the hayre,
Observ. vol. ii. p. 62. It should seem, from this particularity, that
"to have seen how these yeomen together fought."
"itt was neither Guy nor Robin Hood
that ffettled them to flye away."]
V. 163. awkwarde, MS. [V. 164. "good sir Guy hee has slayne,"
Robin pulled forth an Irish kniffe,
Saies, Lye there, lye there, now sir Guye,
Robin did off his gowne of greene,
The bowe, the arrowes, and little horne,
Robin Hood sett Guyes horne to his mouth,
Hearken, hearken, sayd the sheriffe,
For yonder I heare sir Guyes horne blowe,
Yonder I heare sir Guyes horne blowe,
And yonder comes that wightye yeoman,
" and with me now Ile beare
ffor now I will goe to Barnesdale,” f. MS.
1 small hill.]
[Ver. 172. cold tell who Sir Guye was. V. 173. good Sir Guye. V. 182:
Come hyther, come hyther, thou good sir Guy,
OI will none of thy gold, sayd Robin,
But now I have slaine the master, he sayes,
Thou art a madman, said the sheriffe,
When Litle John heard his master speake,
Fast Robin hee hyed him to Little John,
Stand abacke, stand abacke, sayd Robin;
But Robin pulled forth an Irysh kniffe,
Then John he took Guyes bow in his hand,
Towards his house in Nottingham towne,
But he cold neither runne soe fast,
But Litle John with an arrowe soe broad,
[Ver. 225-8 :—
"But John tooke Guyes bow in his hand,
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 stiled, Domini, "Sirs," to distinguish them from Undergraduates, who have no prefix, and from Masters of Arts, who are stiled Magistri, "Masters."
V. 229. Towards his house in Nottingham. V. 233-6 :
"But he cold neither soe fast goe,
but litle John with an arrow broade
did cleave his head in twinn," f. MS.]
AN ELEGY ON HENRY FOURTH EARL
HE 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 yet are 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.
If the reader does not find much poetical merit in this old poem (which yet is one of Skelton's best), he will see a striking picture of the state and magnificence kept up by our ancient nobility during the feudal times. This great earl is described here as having, among his menial servants, knights, squires, and even barons: see v. 32. 183. &c. which, however different from modern manners, was formerly not unusual with our greater barons, whose castles had all the splendour and offices of a royal court before the laws against retainers abridged and limited the number of their attendants.
John Skelton, who commonly styled himself Poet Laureat, died June 21, 1529. The following poem, which appears to have been written soon after the event, is printed from an ancient MS. copy preserved in the British Museum, being much more correct than that printed among Skelton's Poems in bl. let. 12mo. 1568.—It is addressed to Henry Percy, fifth earl of Northumberland, and is pre faced, &c. in the following manner: