Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 5 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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Myllar, who in the same year issued a considerable number of poetical tracts. A volume of these; con­taining a large fragment of the piece in question, was most fortunately recovered towards the end of the last century, and has been reprinted in fac simile by the Messrs. Laing, Edinburgh, 1827.
The Lytell Geste is obviously to be regarded as an heroic poem, constructed, partly or entirely, out of previously existing unconnected " rhymes of Robin Hood." The earlier ballads employed for this pur­pose have not been handed down to us in their prim­itive form. Whatever this may have been, they were probably very freely treated by the rhapsodist that strung them together, who has indeed retold the ancient stories with such skill as might well cause the ruder originals to be forgotten. Nevertheless, the third fit of our little epic is indisputably of common derivation with the last part of the older ballad of Robin Hood and the Potter, and other portions of this tale occur separately in ballads, which, though mod­ern in their structure, may have had a source inde­pendent of the Lytell Geste.
It will be observed that each fit of this piece does ' not constitute a complete story. Mr. Hunter has cor­rectly enough indicated the division into ballads as follows: The first ballad is comprised in the first two fits, and may b& called Robin Hood and the Knight; the second ballad is the third fit, and may be called Little John and the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire; in the fourth fit we have the ballad of Robin Hood and the Monks of St. Mary; in the fifth and sixth, Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and the Knight; the seventh and part of the eighth contain