Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 7 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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KING EDWARD FOURTH, ETC.              21
The next two ballads belong to a class of tales ex­tremely numerous in England, in which the sovereign is represented as conversing on terms of good fellow­ship with one of his humbler subjects who is unac­quainted with the royal person. In several of the best of these stories, the monarch is benighted in the forest, and obliged to demand hospitality of the first man he meets. He is at first viewed with suspicion and treated with rudeness, but soon wins favor by his affa­bility and good humor, and is invited to partake of a liberal supper, composed in part of his own venison. In due time the king reveals his true character to his astonished and mortified host, who looks to be pun­ished alike for his familiarity and for deer-stealing, but is pardoned for both, and even handsomely re­warded for his entertainment.
The earliest of these stories seems to be that of King Alfred and the Neatherd, in which the herdsman's wife plays the offending part, and the peasant himself is made Bishop of Winchester. Others of very con­siderable antiquity are the tales of Henry n. and the Cistercian Abbot in the Speculum Ecclesim of Giraldus Cambrensis, (an. 1220,) printed in Reliquice Antiques, i. 147; King Edward and the Shepherd, and The King [Edward] and the Hermit, in Hartshorne's Metri­cal Tales, (p. 35, p. 293, the latter previously in The British Bibliographer, iv. 81;) Rauf CoUzear, how he harbreit King Charlis,m Laing's Select Remains ; John