Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 5 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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tures still, and even as arbitrary conjectures, unless one or the other can be proved from the only author­ities we have, the ballads, to have a peculiar intrinsic probability. That neither of them pos­sesses this intrinsic probability may easily be shown, but first it will be advisable to notice another theory, which is more plausibly founded on internal evidence, and claims to be confirmed by documents of unimpeachable validity.
This theory has been propounded by the Rev. John Hunter, in one of his Critical and Historical Tracts.1 Mr. Hunter admits that Robin Hood " lives only as a hero of song;" that he is not found in authentic contemporary chronicles; and that, when we find him mentioned in history, " the information was derived from the ballads, and is not independent of them or correlative with them." While making these admissions, he accords a con­siderable degree of credibility to.the ballads, and particularly to the Lytell Geste, the last two Jits of which he regards as giving a tolerably accurate account of real occurrences.
In this part of the story, King Edward is repre­sented as coming to Nottingham to take Robin Hood. He traverses Lancashire and a part of Yorkshire, and finds his forests nearly stripped of their deer, but can get no trace of the author of these extensive depredations. At last, by the advice of one of his foresters, assuming with sev-
l No. 4. The Ballad Hero, Robin Hood. June, 1852.