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The Pleasant History of Frier Rush is a book of great rarity, and was by Ritson ranked as a desideratum in the illustration of English Romance; two copies of it, however, are now known to exist, one in the possession of the Marquis of Stafford, and a second the property of Mr. Heber, from which latter a limited reprint was made in 1810.
Frier Rush, who was known to Reginald Scott before the History of his Pranks was published, was very properly classed by him with Robin Goodfellow, and in Harsenet's Declaration, chap. xx. p. 134, we find them again noticed together. "And if that the "bowle of curds and cream were not duly set out "for Robin Goodfellow, the Frier, and Sisse the "dairy-maide, why then either the pottage was "burnt, or the cheese would not curdle, or the butter "would not come, or the ale in the fat never would "have good head." The old song of The Mad Pranks of Robin Goodfellow, however, proves their identity still more clearly by its allusion to a trans
mutation which we see exercised in the course of the following tale:—
Sometimes I meete them like a man,
And to a hone turn me I can,
To trip and trot about them round.
In fact, whether he is called Robin Goodfellow, Puck, or Rush, his actions and attributes every where identify the hero of the present Romance " as the personification of the principle of evil."* He is the Scottish Red Cap, and the Saxon spirit Hudken, or Hodeken, so called from the hoodiken, or little hood or hat, which he wore, and which also covers his head when he appears in the shape of the Nisse of Sweden. In that amusing and interesting work the Fairy Mythology, vol. 2, p. 68, we are told that Hoodeken took up his abode in the palace of the Bishop of Hildesheim. One of the scullions in the Bishop's kitchen having flung dirt on him, and splashed him with foul water, Hoodeken complained to the head cook, who only laughed at him, and said "Are you a spirit, and afraid of a little boy?" "Since you won't punish the boy," said Hoodeken, "I will in a few days let you see how much afraid of him I am," and went off in high dudgeon; but
• Quarterly Review, vol. 22. p. 353, etc.
very soon after he got the boy asleep at the fire-side, and he strangled him, cut him up, and put him into the pot on the fire. In Swedeland Puck assumes the name of Nissegoddreng, or Nisse the good knave, and consorts with the Tomtegubbe, or the old man of the house toft, who is of the same genus. From "Gubbe" the old man employed as the name of a demon, the Normans seem to have formed Goblin or Gobelin (quasi GubbeleinJ and the Spanish Duetule, a demon particularly noted for his powers of transformation, appears to correspond in every respect to the Tomte Gubbe; and the name according to Cobaruvias, is contracted from Dueno de Casa, the master of the house.
Returning however to the consideration of the form under which "The Merry Wanderer" now presents himself to our notice. We may reasonably conclude from the testimony of Bruno Seidelius
Quis non legit, quid Frater Rauschius egit ?•
that it is one in which he enjoyed an extensive popularity. There is an Ancient Danish Poem which treats of " Brother Rus how he did service as Cook and Monk in the Monastry of Esserom," which there is reason to suppose is derived from one common
* Paradise Ethicae, Francof. IS 89.