Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 7 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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the Reeve, an unprinted piece in the Percy MS., found­ed on an adventure between King Edward I. and one of his bailiffs, which is highly commended by Dr. Percy " for its genuine humor, diverting incidents, and faith­ful picture of rustic manners ;" and The King and the Barker, the original of the present ballad. (See also the seventh and eighth fits of the Little Gest of Robin Hood.) More recent specimens are the two pieces here given, and others mentioned by Percy: King Henry and the Soldier, King Henry VIII. and the Cobbler, King James I. and the Tinker, King William and the Forester, Sj-c. It is obvious that a legend of immemorial antiquity has been transferred by succes­sive minstrels or story-tellers to the reigning monarch of their own times. An anecdote of the same char­acter is related by Mr. Wright of Prince George of Denmark, and a poor artisan of Bristol, (Essays, ii. 172.)
The meeting of King Richard with Priar Tuck in Ivanhoe, was suggested by the tale of King Ed­ward and the Hermit. " The general tone of the story," says Scott, " belongs to all ranks and to all countries, which emulate each other in describing the rambles of a disguised sovereign, who, going in search of information or amusement into the lower ranks of life, meets with adventures diverting to the reader or hearer, from the contrast betwixt the mon­arch's outward appearance and his real character. The Eastern tale-teller has for his theme the dis­guised expeditions of Haroun Alraschid, with his faithful attendants Mesrour and Giafar, through the midnight streets of Bagdad, and Scottish tradition dwells upon the similar exploits of James V., distin-