The King’s Disguise, and Friendship with Robin Hood
No: 151; variant: 151A
- KING RICHARD hearing of the pranks
Of Robin Hood and his men,
He much admir’d, and more desir’d,
To see both him and them.
- Then with a dozen of his lords
To Nottingham he rode;
When he came there, he made good cheer,
And took up his abode.
- He having staid there some time,
But had no hopes to speed,
He and his lords, with [free] accord,
All put on monk’s weeds.
- From Fountain-abby they did ride,
Down to barnsdale;
Where Robin Hood prepare:d stood
All company to assail.
- The king was higher then the rest,
And Robin thought he had
An abbot been whom he did spleen;
To rob him he was glad.
- He took the king’s horse by the head,
‘Abbot,’ says he, ‘abide;
I am bound to rue such knaves as you,
That live in pomp and pride.’
- ‘But we are messengers from the king,’
The king himself did say;
‘Near to this place his royal Grace
To speak with thee does stay.’
- ‘God save the king,’ said Robin Hood,
‘And all that wish him well;
He that does deny his sovereignty,
I wish he was in hell.’
- ‘O thyself thou curses,’ says the king,
‘For thou a traitor art:’
‘Nay, but that you are his messenger,
I swear you lie in heart.
- ‘For I never yet hurt any man
That honest is and true;
But those that give their minds to live
Upon other men’s due.
- ‘I never hurt the husbandman,
That use to till the ground;
Nor spill their blood that range the wood
To follow hawk or hound.
- ‘My chiefest spite to clergy is,
Who in these days bear a great sway;
With fryars and monks, with their fine sprunks,
I make my chiefest prey.
- ‘But I am very glad,’ says Robin Hood,
‘That I have met you here;
Come, before we end, you shall, my friend,
Taste of our green-wood cheer.’
- The king did then marvel much,
And so did all his men;
They thought with fear, what kind of cheer
Robin would provide for them.
- Robin took the king’s horse by the head,
And led him to the tent;
‘Thou would not be so usd,’ quoth he,
‘But that my king thee sent.
- ‘Nay, more than that,’ said Robin Hood,
‘For good king Richard’s sake,
If you had as much gold as ever I told,
I would not one penny take.’
- Then Robin set his horn to his mouth,
And a loud blast he did blow,
Till a hundred and ten of Robin Hood’s men
Came marching all of a row.
- And when they came bold Robin before,
Each man did bend his knee;
‘O,’ thought the king, ‘‘tis a gallant thing,
And a seemly sight to see.’
- Within himself the king did say,
These men of Robin Hood’s
More humble be than mine to me;
So the court may learn of the woods.
- So then they all to dinner went,
Upon a carpet green;
Black, yellow, red, finely mingle:d,
Most curious to be seen.
- Venison and fowls were plenty there,
With fish out of the river:
King Richard swore, on sea or shore,
He neer was feasted better.
- Then Robin takes a can of ale:
‘Come, let us now begin;
Come, every man shall have his can;
Here’s a health unto the king.’
- The king himself drank to the king,
So round about it went;
Two barrels of ale, both stout and stale,
To pledge that health were spent.
- And after that, a bowl of wine
In his hand took Robin Hood;
‘Until I die, I’ll drink wine,’ said he,
‘While I live in the green-wood.
- ‘Bend all your bows,’ said Robin Hood,
‘And with the grey goose wing
Such sport now shew as you would do
In the presence of the king.’
- They shewd such brave archery,
By cleaving sticks and wands,
That the king did say, Such men as they
Live not in many lands.
- ‘Well, Robin Hood,’ then says the king,
‘If I could thy pardon get,
To serve the king in every thing
Wouldst thou thy mind firm set?’
- ‘Yes, with all my heart,’ bold Robin said,
So they flung off their hoods;
To serve the king in every thing,
They swore they would spend their bloods.
- ‘For a clergyman was first my bane,
Which makes me hate them all;
But if you’ll be so kind to me,
Love them again I shall.’
- The king no longer could forbear,
For he was movd with ruth;
[‘Robin,’ said he, ‘I now tell thee
The very naked truth.]
- ‘I am the king, thy sovereign king,
That appears before you all;’
When Robin see that it was he,
Strait then he down did fall.
- ‘Stand up again,’ then said the king,
‘I’ll thee thy pardon give;
Stand up, my friend; who can contend,
When I give leave to live?’
- So they are all gone to Nottingham,
All shouting as they came;
But when the people them did see,
They thought the king was slain,
- And for that cause the outlaws were come,
To rule all as they list;
And for to shun, which way to run
The people did not wist.
- The plowman left the plow in the fields,
The smith ran from his shop;
Old folks also, that scarce could go,
Over their sticks did hop.
- The king soon let them understand
He had been in the green wood,
And from that day, for evermore,
He’d forgiven Robin Hood.
- When the people they did hear,
And the truth was known,
They all did sing, ‘God save the king!
Hang care, the town’s our own!’
- ‘What’s that Robin Hood?’ then said the sheriff;
‘That varlet I do hate;
Both me and mine he causd to dine,
And servd us all with one plate.’
- ‘Ho, ho,’ said Robin, ‘I know what you mean;
Come, take your gold again;
Be friends with me, and I with thee,
And so with every man.
- ‘Now, master sheriff, you are paid,
And since you are beginner,
As well as you give me my due;
For you neer paid for that dinner.
- ‘But if that it should please the king
So much your house to grace
To sup with you, for to speak true,
[I] know you neer was base.’
- The sheriff could not [that] gain say,
For a trick was put upon him;
A supper was drest, the king was guest,
But he thought ‘twould have undone him.
- They are all gone to London court,
Robin Hood, with all his train;
He once was there a noble peer,
And now he’s there again.
- Many such pranks brave Robin playd
While he lived in the green wood:
Now, my friends, attend, and hear an end
Of honest Robin Hood.