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in a corner there.' And again,—' The best of it is, my heart is set so much on my little corner at Sheen, that while I keep that, no other disappointment will ever be very sensible to me, and because my wife tells me she is so bold as to enter into talk of enlarging our dominions there. I am contriving here this summer, how a succession of cherries may be continued from May till Michaelmas, and how the riches of Sheen vines may be improved by half a dozen sorts which are not yet known there, and which I think much beyond any that are. I should be very glad to raise and plant them next season." His religion might not be strong and active enough for Burnet, who called him an Atheist and Epicurean; but the truth was not so: there was an indifference and philosophical calmness in the constitution of Temple's mind; an indolent easiness of temper and feeling. He did not consider the object of men's wishes worth the trouble with which they are commonly pursued.* Life, with him, was too short and too checquered by fortune, to induce him to lay out costly and elaborate plans for its enjoyment, and its bases were too narrow to erect on it the huge piles of ambition, and glory, and wealth, which the more sanguine and less scrupulous are constantly raising. He preferred les douceurs d'une vie oisive et privie. He had a good deal of the Pococurante character—a recluse, meditative mind, with a slight vein of harmless and amusing vanity running through it. His early occupations in the world threw him with greater zest into the retirements and natural amusements in which he passed his age; and he had a relish for those arts which are supposed not only to adorn, and amuse, but to soften and improve our mental habits. He loved painting, and music, and statuary, and gardening, and building. His taste soared somewhat beyond that of his age; yet we cannot much commend the choice of his last and favourite residence—Health, ease, and fine weather were the constituents of his happiness: he wrote ' Le seul homme que j'envie dans le monde, e'est Milord Falconbridge, que son ambassade va conduire dans un si beau climat, ou il va gouter tous les charmes attaches aux delicates et spirituelles conversations d'ltalie. II trouvera les jours et les esprits egalenient purs et brillans.' Again, he says — ' Je me sens beaucoup plus propre a pratiquer l'art d'un bon Jardinier, que celui d'un habile ministre.' As a politician he was candid, honourable, and independent. As a private man, he was charitable to an unusual extent, moderate in his wishes, and temperate in his habits of life, and holding the possession of wealth beyond its necessary uses in utter neglect, and not worth the trouble of acquiring. Seen in the domestic relations of life he was all that could be desired—a warm and constant friend; as a son, dutiful; a most affectionate and grateful husband; and as a father, the tears that he shed over the early grave of that lovely flower, the last and dearest which he lost, came from the fountain of the most pure parental tenderness and love. We believe it will not be necessary to speak of him as a poet; but he has had the honour of having a few of his verses translated by Goldsmith, without acknowledgment, and with only a slight alteration, into one of his celebrated poems.f
* See the Preface to Observations on the United Provinces, for an interesting account of Temple, of his mental habits, and method of life. If wisdom consists in adapting the wishes of the mind to the weakness of the body, and the nature of our enjoyments to the uncertainty of our life, Temple was a wise man. See also the Dedication of his Memoirs to his son.
t In Nichols's " Select Poems," vol. ii. there are fifty pages of Sir W. Temple's Poems, printed from the scarce little volume which belonged to Lady Gilford.
ON THE POPULAR CYCLE OF THE ROBIN HOOD BALLADS.
The'se de Litterature sur les Vicissitudes et Irs Transformations du Cycle popnlaire do Robin Hood. Paris, 1832. Robin Hood; a collection of all the ancient Poems, Songs, and Ballads now extant relative to that celebrated English Outlaw. By Joseph Ritson, Esq. Second Edition. London, 1832. THE period which we are accustomed to call the middle ages, has left us, in its literature, many interesting, but at the same time extremely dark and intricate problems. In the semiheroic period of the history of most peoples, the national poetry appears in the form of cycles, each having for its subject some grand national story, some tradition of times a little more ancient, which has become a matter of national exultation or of national sorrow. Greece had several such cycles. Among our Anglo-Saxon forefathers there was a great cycle parallel apparently to that to which belongs the High German NibeluDgen Not, of which there has fortunately been preserved the fine poem of the Adventures of Beowulf the Great, and of which fragments of other poems aie found in the Exeter book, and in some stray leaves of other manuscripts. This cycle was succeeded, after the Normans came in, by that of Arthur and his Knights, by the many romances which are supposed to be of Armorican origin, and by the cycle of Charlemagne and his peers. Of the history of the Anglo-Saxon cycle we know nothing; and that of those which followed it, is not much less obscure.
When the Norman cycles became popular in England, the heroes of the Anglo-Saxon poetry were forgotten, except perhaps in some few instances where the shadow of the older literature became degraded into the form of ballads, which might be sung by the peasant at his ale or at his labour. We need not be surprised, therefore, if we find ballad cycles existing contemporary with and independent of the cycles of the romances. In fact, we do find such cycles, and, as might have been supposed, the character of the persons in the older form, if there existed any older form, is entirely moulded down to suit that of the people amongst whom these ballads Gent. Mao. Vol. VII.
were popular. The most extraordinary ballad cycle—indeed, the only one which has preserved its popularity up to our own times, and of which we have large remains—is that of Robin Hood.
The only attempt which has been made to investigate the history of the popular cycle of Robin Hood, and to trace its vicissitudes and transformations, is contained in the tract which heads our present paper, written, curiously enough, as a thesis preparatory to taking the degree of Doctor in the Academy of Paris, its author being, we believe, a Scotchman. In fact, it is one specimen of the new state of things in France, which has rejected the old fashion of writing probatory essays on the characters of Themistocles and Cicero, and such folks, for the introduction of more modern subjects and more modern notions. Mr. Barry has treated his subject with cleverness and ingenuity; but unfortunately he wanted materials, and was thus deficient in a knowledge of that on which he wrote. He does not appear to have read any of the older ballads than that of Robin Hood and the Potter, nor that printed in the last edition of Ritson's Robin Hood, under the title of Robin Hood and the Monk, nor even that most important poem the 'Lytell Geste.' He was, moreover, unacquainted with the manuscripts, and knew but little of the history and philology of our language and our poetry. We need not give a stronger proof of this than his derivation of yeoman from yew-man, i. e. archer (p. 11). His theory is, that the hero of the cycle, Robin Hood, was one of the Saxons who became outlaws in opposing the intrusion and rapacity of the Normans—that the ballads were originally written in alliterative verse at the beginning of the thirteenth century—and that in their transformed shape they still picture to us the feelings of the Saxon peasantry towards their Norman governors. Before, however, considering this hypothesis as to the hero, and as to the origin of the cycle, we will describe and arrange what appear to be the remains of the cycle in its earlier form.
It was necessary to the character of
the hero of a popular cycle in England, during some centuries after the Conquest, that he should be signalized by his depredations upon the king's deer. The sheriff and his officers, who enforced the severe forest-laws of the Norman kings, were the oppressors against whom the heroes of the popular romance must make war, and in deceiving whom they must show their craftiness and activity. It is curious, however, that this hostile feeling is always directed against the persons, and not against the authority with which they were armed. In the ballads, the peasantry of England appears always loyal; and one of their most popular cycles was that in which the monarch is represented as being benighted or misled in some one of his forests, and as meeting there with some of the destroyers of his deer, who by their loyalty and joviality obtain his forgiveness and favour.
One of the earliest poems on the subject to which we allude, is that of King Edward and the Shepherd, preserved in the same manuscript of the Public Library of the university of Cambridge, which contains the oldest ballad of Robin Hood. Edward had ridden out into Windsor Forest, as it would seem, attended only by his groom, and in the course of his wanderings met with a shepherd, on whose want of courtesy the poet has been pleased to pass a joke.
"With a shepherde con he mete,
And gret (greeted) hym with wordis swete,
Without any delay;
But seid, ' Sir, gudday!'" (goodday!)
In reply to the king's inquiries, the shepherd stated that he was born in Windsor, but that he had been compelled to desert his home by the oppressive conduct of the king's purveyors, who not only robbed him of his cattle, leaving him only a knot di ed stick as an acknowledgment, but had violated his daughter, and driven his wife, who was old and hoary, out of doors. His name, he said, was Adam the shepherd. The king called himself Jolly Robin, and said that he was the son of a Welsh knight, that his mother's name was dame Isabel, and that he had a young son who was
much loved by the queen, and he pro-
That dar do sich a dede,
But his side shulde blede.
He will take no mede. Whoso dose here sich maistrye, Be thu wel sicer (sure) he shall abye (pay retribution),
And unto preson lede."
The king continued to urge his proposal, and was further admonished by his companion.
"The herd bade, ' let sech wordis be,
The were better be still.
They (thy) wordis shuld like the ille
The kyng to serve at wille, To kepe the dere both day and nyjt; And for theire luf (living, leofan, A.S.) a loge is dijt, Full hye upon an hill.'"The two friends went to dinner, and, after having taught Jolly Robin his drinking words passilodion and berafrynde, the ale made the shepherd's heart more open, and, enjoyning secrecy to his guest, he brought forth pasties of rabbit and venison, with abundance of excellent wine. "' Sir,' he seid, ' asay of this: Thei were jisterday qwyk, I wysse,
Certan, withouten lye, Hider thei come be mone-lijt. Eete therof well a pli^t;
And schewe no curtasye.'"
Cycle of the Robin Hood Ballads.
Afterwards, he explained to the king how he had two slings, with the larger of which he slew deer, and with the smaller rabbits; and how, under cover of night, he conveyed them home, and he showed him his secret cellar, which was well filled with venison and other dainties. On his return home, the king was accompanied through the forest by his new acquaintance, who killed a rabbit with his smaller sling, boasting much of the superiority of his weapon over the bow,
"' Sir,' he seid, ' for soth I trowe
and promised to visit Jolly Robin at the Court. There, after his arrival next day, the joke was carried on for some time, until the shepherd, to his no small terror, discovered the quality of the confidant to whom he had shown his venison. Here the poem in the manuscript ends abruptly, but we can scarcely doubt that the king ordered reparation to be made to him for the oppressions he had suffered, and perhaps, that he made him one of the keepers of his forests.
Another early ballad on the same subject, but still more imperfect, was printed in the British Bibliographer (vol. iv.), under the title of "The Kyng and the Hermyt." The hermit seems to be the FriarTuck, and perhaps the Curtal Friar of the Robin Hood ballads. The scene is here laid in the forest of Sherwood.
"It be-fellebe god Edward's days,
Karkyng (hearken), I will you telle,
* » • •
For to solas hym that stond (while)
In frythys and in felle.''
Allured by the hope of finding a large herd of deer, which had been seen by an old forester, the king wandered from his company, lost his way in the forest, and at last took shelter in the hut of a hermit. The latter at first received his guest reluctantly, but the king gradually gained his confidence, and venison and wine were brought forth in abundance, the drinking words being fusty baudyas and ttryke pantnere. The king, who in
this adventure assumed the name of Jack Fletcher, and represented himself as a poor courtier, invited the hermit to court, and the latter, before parting, showed him his bows and arrows, and his secret stores, of the first of which, by his name, he naturally supposed him to have some knowledge."Into a chambyr he hym lede;The kyng sauwe aboute the hermytes bed
Brod arowys hynge. The frere gaff him a bow in hond: 'Jake,' he seyd, ' draw up the bond;'
He myght oneth styre (hardly stir) the streng.'Sir,' he seyd, ' so have I blys, There is no archer that may schot in this, That is with my lord the kyng.'
"An arow of an elle long In hys bow he it throng,
And to the hede he gan it hale. 'Ther is no dere in this foreste, And it wolde one hym feste,
Bot it schuld spyll his skale.
Than seyd Jake, ' I schall.'"
The fragment ends with the departure of the king, but there can be no doubt of the poem having ended prosperously for the hermit.
The second line which we have quoted from this latter poem, would almost lead us to imagine that there had been a French original, did not the subject seem strongly to contradict such a supposition. And, indeed, at the time when this ballad was written, the expression, "as the romans says," seems to have become a mere hackneyed phrase, used without any meaning. The spirit of the Normanromans was not that of introducing the peasant and the deer-stealer in a favourable point of view, or of bringing them to prosperity or royal favour. This cycle was the groundwork of many ballads in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, of which one is the well-known ballad of " the King and the Miller of Mansfield," in his introductory observations on which Percy has pointed out several others of the same class. • The earliest story of the kind is perhaps the legend of king Alfred's residence with the neat-herd; the latest, one which has been told,
* They have furnished our great romance writer with the hint of a beautiful scene in Ivanhoe.
we think, as having occurred in the reign of Queen Anne. Prince George, of Denmark, having landed unexpectedly at Bristol, and not having been recognised by the merchants who were at the time on the pier where he was walking, was accosted by a poor artizan, who asked him if he were not the queen's husband, expressed his regret that so little respect had been shown to him, and invited him to partake of his own humble fare. The prince dined with the artizan, who was afterwards, with his wife, invited to court by the queen, and himself knighted and his wife presented, if we remember right, with a watch.
We proceed to the kindred cycle which celebrated the deeds of the open outlaw, personified in the character of RobinHood. ThattheRobin Hood ballads were popular before the middle of the fourteenth century, we have direct testimony. Fordun.whowrotetowards 1350, or rather, perhaps, Bowyer, who interpolated Fordun's history in the fifteenth century, observes, "Hoc in tempore (i. e. Hen. III.) de exheredatis surrexit et caput erexit ille I'aniosissimus sicarius Robertus Hode et Littell Johanne, cum eorum complicibus, de quibus stolidum vulgus hian- ter in comcediis et tragoediis prurientur festum faciunt, et super cameras romancias, mimos, et bardanos cantitare dilectantur." (Ed. Hearne, p. 774.) And in that remarkable and valuable poem, the Vision of Piers Plowman, which was written in the reign of Edward the Third, Sloth is introduced asconfessing.amongstother things,
"But I kan rymes of Robyn hood
These passages, particularly that of Fordun, describe a cycle of poetry essentially popular, which originated with the people and rested with the people, but of which, as it then existed, it has been supposed that we have no remaining specimen.
We are now satisfied, however, that we have a Robin Hood ballad of the earlier part of the fourteenth century, one of those which were sung by the contemporaries of Fordun and the author of Piers Plowman's visions. It is contained in a manuscript preserved
in the Public Library of the University of Cambridge (Ff. 5. 48); has been incorrectly printed in Jamieson's Ballads; still more so in that most miserable production the ' Ancient Metrical Tales,' edited by Mr. Hartshorne; and again, though not altogether accurately, in the last edition of Ritson's Robin Hood, as may be seen by comparing the few lines we shall presently quote from it. It is the same manuscript which was once in the possession of Withers the poet, who lent it to Bedwell, and the latter printed from it that singular ballad the Tournament of Tottenham. Internal evidence has led us to the conviction that, although it is a paper manuscript, it was written as early as the reign of Edward the Second, and the language and writing do not contradict such a supposition. It must be premised that it was not written by an ignorant scribe. On the contrary, there are strong reasons for believing that the writer was himself a poet, and that he was the author of some of the pieces which it contains, where, in a stanza of four lines, the fourth line has been sometimes exchanged for another, expressing the same thing better or more poetically, and the last word, or two last words, of the second line altered to rhyme with it.
(I.) One article of this manuscript, near the middle of the volume, is a brief poetical chronicle of the kings of England. It is brought down to the time of Edward the Second, in whose reign it ends thus— "After him (i. e. Ed. I.) regned Edwarde
his sone, And hase his londe alle and some, Make we us glaad and blithe, lordingus, For thus omlyn these kingus. Jhesu Crist and saint Lcnard Save this king Edward, And gif hym grace his londe to jeme, That Jhesu Crist, be to queme, Thrug his hestis ten: Syng we now alle, Amen."—Explicit.
We can easily imagine that in many instances a poem like this, written at one period, may have been copied verbatim at a later period without continuation; but, from the general style of the present manuscript, and from the consideration that this poem as well as many others in the same volume were evidently intended for recitation, we can hardly suppose that from