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ROBIN HOOD RESCUING THE -WIDOWS THREE SONS PROM THE SHERIFF, WHEN GOING TO BE EXECUTED.
Bitson's Robin Hood, ii. 155.
" This ballad," says Ritson, " from the York edition of Robin Hood's Garland^ is probably one of the oldest extant of which he is the subject. The circumstance of Robin's changing clothes with the palmer, is, possibly, taken from an old romance, entitled The noble hy story of the moost excellent and myghty prynce and hygh renoiomed knyght kynge Ponthus of Galyce and of lytell Brytayne. Emprynted at London in Fletestrete, at the sygne of the sonne, by Wynken de Worde. In the yere of our lorde god 1511, 4to. bl. sig, l 6. ' And as he (Ponthus) rode, he met with a poore palmer, beggynge his brede, the whiehe had his gowne all to-clouted and an olde pylled hatte: so he alyght, and sayd to the palmer, frende, we shall make a chaunge of all our garmentes, for ye shall have my gowne and I shall have yours and your hatte. A, syr, sayd the palmer, ye bourde you with me. In good fayth, sayd Ponthus, I do not; so he dyspoyled hym and cladde hym with all his rayment,
1 The earliest known edition of Robin Hood's Garland was formerly in the possession of Mr. Douce, and is now among the books bequeathed by him to the Bodleian Library. It is dated 1670, and contains sixteen ballads. In the later Garlands this number is increased to twenty four, and to twenty *,even.