Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 5 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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Xxiv                         INTRODUCTION.
for that of a predecessor. (See King Edward the Fourth and the Tanner of Tamworth.)
Rejecting, then, as nugatory every attempt to assign Robin Hood a definite position in history, what view shall we adopt ? Are all these tradi­tions absolute fictions, and is he himself a pure creation of the imagination ? Might not the ballads under consideration have a basis in the exploits of a real person, living in the forests, someiohere and at some time ? Or, denying individual exist­ence to Robin Hood, and particular truth to the adventures ascribed to him, may we not regard him as the ideal of the outlaw class, a class so numerous in all the countries of Europe in the middle ages ? "We are perfectly contented to form no opinion upon the subject; but if compelled to express one, we should say that this last sup­position (which is no novelty) possessed decidedly more likelihood than any other. Its plausibility will be confirmed by attending to the apparent sig­nification of the name Robin Hood. The natural refuge and stronghold of the outlaw was the woods. Hence he is termed by Latin writers silvaticus, by the Normans forestier. The Anglo-Saxon robber or highwayman is called a wood-rover, wealdgenga, and the Norse word for outlaw is exactly equiva-, lent.1 It has been often suggested that Robin Hood
1 See Wright's Essays, ii. 207. " The name of Witikind, the famous opponent of Charlemagne, who always fled before his sight, concealed himself in the forests, and returned again