Robin Hood’s Birth, Breeding, Valor and Marriage
No: 149; variant: 149A
- KIND gentlemen, will you be patient awhile?
Ay, and then you shall hear anon
A very good ballad of bold Robin Hood,
And of his man, brave Little John.
- In Locksly town, in Nottinghamshire,
In merry sweet Locksly town,
There bold Robin Hood he was born and was bred,
Bold Robin of famous renown.
- The father of Robin a forester was,
And he shot in a lusty long bow,
Two north country miles and an inch at a shot,
As the Pinder of Wakefield does know.
- For he brought Adam Bell, and Clim of the Clugh,
And William a Clowdesle
To shoot with our forrester for forty mark,
And the forrester beat them all three.
- His mother was neece to the Coventry knight,
Which Warwickshire men call Sir Guy;
For he slew the blue bore that hangs up at the gate,
Or mine host of The Bull tells a lye.
- Her brother was Gamwel, of Great Gamwel Hall,
And a noble house-keeper was he,
Ay, as ever broke bread in sweet Nottinghamshire,
And a squire of famous degree.
- The mother of Robin said to her husband,
My honey, my love, and my dear,
Let Robin and I ride this morning to Gamwel,
To taste of my brothers good cheer.
- And he said, I grant thee thy boon, gentle Joan,
Take one of my horses, I pray;
The sun is a rising, and therefore make haste,
For to-morrow is Christmas-day.
- Then Robin Hoods fathers grey gelding was brought,
And sadled and bridled was he;
God wot, a blew bonnet, his new suit of cloaths,
And a cloak that did reach to his knee.
- She got on her holiday kirtle and gown,
They were of a light Lincoln green;
The cloath was homespun, but for colour and make
It might a beseemed our queen.
- And then Robin got on his basket-hilt sword,
And his dagger on his tother side,
And said, My dear mother, let’s haste to be gone,
We have forty long miles to ride.
- When Robin had mounted his gelding so grey,
His father, without any trouble,
Set her up behind him, and bad her not fear,
For his gelding had oft carried double.
- And when she was settled, they rode to their neighbours,
And drank and shook hands with them all;
And then Robin gallopt, and never gave ore,
Till they lighted at Gamwel Hall.
- And now you may think the right worshipful squire
Was joyful his sister to see;
For he kist her and kist her, and swore a great oath,
Thou art welcome, kind sister, to me.
- To-morrow, when mass had been said in the chappel,
Six tables were coverd in the hall,
And in comes the squire, and makes a short speech,
It was, Neighbours, you’re welcome all.
- But not a man here shall taste my March beer,
Till a Christmas carrol he sing:
Then all clapt their hands, and they shouted and sung,
Till the hall and the parlour did ring.
- Now mustard and braun, roast beef and plumb pies,
Were set upon every table:
And noble George Gamwel said, Eat and be merry,
And drink too, as long as you’re able.
- When dinner was ended, his chaplain said grace,
And, ‘Be merry, my friends,’ said the squire;
‘It rains, and it blows, but call for more ale,
And lay some more wood on the fire.
- ‘And now call ye Little John hither to me,
For Little John is a fine lad
At gambols and juggling, and twenty such tricks
As shall make you merry and glad.’
- When Little John came, to gambols they went,
Both gentleman, yeoman and clown;
And what do you think? Why, as true as I live,
Bold Robin Hood put them all down.
- And now you may think the right worshipful squire
Was joyful this sight for to see;
For he said, Cousin Robin, thou’st go no more home,
But tarry and dwell here with me.
- Thou shalt have my land when I dye, and till then
Thou shalt be the staff of my age;
‘Then grant me my boon, dear uncle,’ said Robin,
‘That Little John may be my page.’
- And he said, Kind cousin, I grant thee thy boon;
With all my heart, so let it be;
‘Then come hither, Little John,’ said Robin Hood,
‘Come hither, my page, unto me.
- ‘Go fetch my bow, my longest long bow,
And broad arrows, one, two, or three;
For when it is fair weather we’ll into Sherwood,
Some merry pastime to see.’
- When Robin Hood came into merry Sherwood,
He winded his bugle so clear,
And twice five and twenty good yeomen and bold
Before Robin Hood did appear.
- ‘Where are your companions all?’ said Robin Hood,
‘For still I want forty and three;’
Then said a bold yeoman, Lo, yonder they stand,
All under a green-wood tree.
- As that word was spoke, Clorinda came by;
The queen of the shepherds was she;
And her gown was of velvet as green as the grass,
And her buskin did reach to her knee.
- Her gait it was graceful, her body was straight,
And her countenance free from pride;
A bow in her hand, and quiver and arrows
Hung dangling by her sweet side.
- Her eye-brows were black, ay, and so was her hair,
And her skin was as smooth as glass;
Her visage spoke wisdom, and modesty too;
Sets with Robin Hood such a lass!
- Said Robin Hood, Lady fair, whither away?
O whither, fair lady, away?
And she made him answer, To kill a fat buck;
For to-morrow is Titbury day.
- Said Robin Hood, Lady fair, wander with me
A little to yonder green bower;
There sit down to rest you, and you shall be sure
Of a brace or a lease in an hour.
- And as we were going towards the green bower,
Two hundred good bucks we espy’d;
She chose out the fattest that was in the herd,
And she shot him through side and side.
- ‘By the faith of my body,’ said bold Robin Hood,
‘I never saw woman like thee;
And comst thou from east, ay, or comst thou from west,
Thou needst not beg venison of me.
- ‘However, along to my bower you shall go,
And taste of a forresters meat:’
And when we come thither, we found as good cheer
As any man needs for to eat.
- For there was hot venison, and warden pies cold,
Cream clouted, with honey-combs plenty;
And the sarvitors they were, beside Little John,
Good yeomen at least four and twenty.
- Clorinda said, Tell me your name, gentle sir;
And he said, ‘Tis bold Robin Hood:
Squire Gamwel’s my uncle, but all my delight
Is to dwell in the merry Sherwood.
- For ‘tis a fine life, and ‘tis void of all strife.
‘So ‘tis, sir,’ Clorinda reply’d;
‘But oh,’ said bold Robin, ‘How sweet would it be,
If Clorinda would be my bride!’
- She blusht at the motion; yet, after a pause
Said, Yes, sir, and with all my heart;
‘Then let’s send for a priest,’ said Robin Hood,
‘And be married before we do part.’
- But she said, It may not be so, gentle sir,
For I must be at Titbury feast;
And if Robin Hood will go thither with me,
I’ll make him the most welcome guest.
- Said Robin Hood, Reach me that buck, Little John,
For I’ll go along with my dear;
Go bid my yeomen kill six brace of bucks,
And meet me to-morrow just here.
- Before we had ridden five Staffordshire miles,
Eight yeomen, that were too bold,
Bid Robin Hood stand, and deliver his buck;
A truer tale never was told.
- ‘I will not, faith!’ said bold Robin: ‘Come, John,
Stand to me, and we’ll beat em all:’
Then both drew their swords, an so cut em and slasht em
That five of them did fall.
- The three that remaind calld to Robin for quarter,
And pitiful John beggd their lives;
When John’s boon was granted, he gave them good counsel,
And so sent them home to their wives.
- This battle was fought near to Titbury town,
When the bagpipes bated the bull;
I am king of the fidlers, and sware ‘tis a truth,
And I call him that doubts it a gull.
- For I saw them fighting, and fidld the while,
And Clorinda sung, Hey derry down!
The bumpkins are beaten, put up thy sword,Bob,
And now let’s dance into the town.
- Before we came to it, we heard a strange shouting,
And all that were in it lookd madly;
For some were a bull-back, some dancing a morris,
And some singing Arthur-a-Bradly.
- And there we see Thomas, our justices clerk,
And Mary, to whom he was kind;
For Tom rode before her, and calld Mary, Madam,
And kist her full sweetly behind.
- And so may your worships. But we went to dinner,
With Thomas and Mary and Nan;
They all drank a health to Clorinda, and told her
Bold Robin Hood was a fine man.
- When dinner was ended, Sir Roger, the parson
Of Dubbridge, was sent for in haste;
He brought his mass-book, and he bade them take hands,
And he joynd them in marriage full fast.
- And then, as bold Robin Hood and his sweet bride
Went hand in hand to the green bower,
The birds sung with pleasure in merry Sherwood,
And ‘twas a most joyful hour.
- And when Robin came in the sight of the bower,
‘Where are my yeomen?’ said he;
And Little John answered, Lo, yonder they stand,
All under the green-wood tree.
- Then a garland they brought her, by two and by two,
And plac’d them upon the bride’s head;
The music struck up, and we all fell to dance,
Till the bride and the groom were a-bed.
- And what they did there must be counsel to me,
Because they lay long the next day,
And I had haste home, but I got a good piece
Of the bride-cake, and so came away.
- Now out, alas! I had forgotten to tell ye
That marryd they were with a ring;
And so will Nan Knight, or be buried a maiden,
And now let us pray for the king:
- That he may get children, and they may get more,
To govern and do us some good;
And then I’ll make ballads in Robin Hood’s bower,
And sing em in merry Sherwood.