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[This ballad is taken from Ritson's ' Robin Hood,' where it wai given as corrected from a copy in tfaa ' Collection of Old Ballads,' 172.1. The title'it there bean is as follows:—' Uobin Hood and Little Jobn: being an account of their find meeting, their fierce encounter, and conquest. To which is added, their friendly agreement; and how he came to be called Little Jobn- Tunc of Arthur a Bland. ' With regard to this istter point,' the notion,' says Ritaon, ' that he ohtained this appellation ironically, fruni his superior stature, is doubtless ill-founded.' He admits, however, that it is * of considerable antiquity,' being traceable at least as far back as to ' that most veracious historian, Maister Hector Bois.' according to whom 1Historic of Scotland, translatit be maister Jobne Bellenden, Bdin. )A41,) Little Jobn * lies bene fourteno fut of bycht, with square membris effering thairto.' Be this, how ever, as it mif*ht, certain it i s that ' the honour of his death and buriat is, like that of Homer'a birth,' contended for by rival nations ;' namely England, Scotland, and Ireland : the favoured spot in "the first being ' the village of Hatheraage, about six miles from Castleton, in Derbyshire; in Scotland, ' the kirke of 1'ette, in Murray land, quhare,' says Bois, * the banis of Lyilil Jobne remanis in gret admiratloun of pepill ;* and, in the Emerald isle, Arbor-hill, Dublin ; where, according to Mr. Walker, iHist.Euay on the Dress of the Ancient and Modern Irish,) ' he was publicly executed for robbery ' The evidence in support of these claims, respectively, may be seen in Ritson, as above.]
1IEN Robin Hood was about twentv years
He happenM to meet Little John,
For he was a lusty young man.
Tln>' he was call'd Little, his limbs they were large,
And his stature was seven foot high ; Whereever he came, they quaked at his name,
For soon he would make them to fly.
How they came acquainted, I'll tell you in brief,
If you would but listen awhile; For this very jest, among all the rest,
I think it may cause you to smile.
For Robin Hood said to his jolly bowmen,
Pray tarry you here in this grove ;
While thorough the forest I rove.
We have had no sport for these fourteen long days,
Therefore now abroad will I go;
My horn I will presently blow.
Then he did shake hands with his merry men all,
And bid them at present good b'yw'e ; Then as near the brook his journey he took,
A stranger he chanc'd to espy.
They happen'd to meet on a long narrow bridge,
And neither of them would give way; Quoth bold Robin Hood, and sturdily stood,
I'll shew you right Nottingham play.
With that from his quiver an arrow he drew,
A broad nrrow with a goose-wing;
If thou offer to touch the string.
Quoth bold Robin Hood, Thou dost prate like an ass.,
For were I to bend but my bow,
Before thou couldst strike me one blow.
Thou talk'st like a coward, the stranger reply'd;
Well arm'd with a long bow you stand, To shoot at my breast, while I, I protest,
Have nought but a staff in my hand.
The name of a coward, quoth Robin, I scorn,
Therefore my long bow I'll lay by ; And now for thy sake, a staff I will take,
The truth .of thy manhood to try. j36 Then Robin Hood stept to a thicket of trees,
And chose him a staff of ground oak;
Lo ! see my stuff is lusty and tough,
Whoever falls in, the other shall wm
With all my whole heart, the stranger reply'd,
I scom in the least to give out:
And their staffs they did nourish about.
At first Robin he gave the stranger a bang,
The stranger he said, This must be repaid,
So long as I'm able to handle a staff,
Then to it each goes, and follow their blows,
The stranger gave Robin a crack on the crown,
Then Robin enrag'd, more fiercely engag'd,
So thick and so fast he did lay it on him,
With a passionate fury .>nd ire ;
As if he had been all on fire.
0 then into fury the stranger he grew,
And with it a blow, that laid him full low,
1 prithee, good fellow, O where art thou now ?
The stranger, in laughter, he cry'd:
I needs must acknowledge thou art a brave soul,
With thee I'll no longer contend; For needs must I say, thou hast got the day, 136 Our battel shall be at au end.
Then unto the bank he did presently wade,
And pull'd himself out by a thorn ; Which done, at last he blowd a loud blast,
Straightway on his fine bugle-horn.
The eccho of which through the vallies did fly,
At which his stout bowmen appear'd, All cloathed in green, most gay to be seen,
So up to their master they steer'd.
O, what is the matter ? quoth William Stutely,
Good master, you are wet to the skin ;
In fighting has tumbled me in
He shall not go scot-free, the others reply'd ;
So strait they were seizing him there,
He is a stout fellow ; forbear.
There's no one shall wrong thee, friend, be not afraid,
These bowmen upon me do wait;
Thou shalt have my livery strait,
And other accoutrements fit for a man ;
Speak up, jolly blade, never fear; I'll teach you also the use of the bow,
To shoot at the fat fallow deer.
O, here is my hand, the stranger reply'd,
I'll serve you with all my whole heart;
Ne'er doubt me, for I'll play my part.
His name shall be alter'd, quoth William Stutely,
And I will his godfather be ;
For we will be merry, quoth he.
They presently fetch'd him a brace of fat does,
With humming strong liquor likewise ;
This pretty sweet babe they baptize.
He was, I must tell you, but seven foot high,
And, may be, an ell in the waist;
Bold Robin the christening grac'd. 137
With all his bowmen which stood in a ring,
Brave Stutely came then, with seven yeomen,
This infant was called John Little, quoth he,
His name shall be changed anon ; The words we'll transpose : so whereever he goes,
His name shall be call'd Little John.
They all with a shout made the elements ring ;
As soon as the office was ore ;
And tippled strong liquor gillore.
Then Robin he took the pretty sweet babe,
In garments of green, most gay to be seen,
Thou shalt be an archer, as well as the best,
Where we'll not want gold or silver, behold,
We live here like 'squires, or lords of renown,
Without ere a foot of free land; We feast on good cheer, with wine, ale, and beer,
And every thing at our command.
Then musick and dancing did finish the day ;
At length, when the sun waxed low,
And unto their caves they did go.
And so, ever after, as long as they liv'd,
Altho' he was proper and tall,
Still Little John they did him call.