But I will * * 3 squires * * * * * *
8. By proposing, that is, to make an exchange of clothes, the bargain being so much to the advantage of the old man. JAMIESON.
27, _i.e._ I shall easily bare my head, in reverence to the sheriff, &c.
33. Nine or ten stanzas wanting. J.
49. For "the sergeant" read "his rowte." J.
63, by me.
ROBIN HOOD RESCUING THE WIDOWS THREE SONS FROM THE SHERIFF, WHEN GOING TO BE EXECUTED.
Ritson'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 hystory of the moost excellent and myghty prynce and hygh renowmed 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 whiche 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, and he put upon hym the poore mannes gowne, his gyrdell, his hosyn, his shone, his hatte and his bourden.'"
"There is an allusion to this ballad," adds Gutch, "in Anthony Munday's play of _The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntington_.
Collier's _Old Plays_, p. 41."
Another version of this piece is immediately subjoined.
 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 seven.
There are twelve months in all the year, As I hear many say, But the merriest month in all the year Is the merry month of May.
Now Robin Hood is to Nottingham gone, 5 _With a link a down and a day_, And there he met a silly old woman, Was weeping on the way.
"What news? what news, thou silly old woman?
What news hast thou for me?" 10 Said she, "There's three squires in Nottingham town, To-day is condemned to die."
"O have they parishes burnt?" he said, "Or have they ministers slain?
Or have they robbed any virgin, 15 Or with other men's wives have lain?"
"They have no parishes burnt, good sir, Nor yet have ministers slain, Nor have they robbed any virgin, Nor with other men's wives have lain." 20
"O what have they done?" said Robin Hood, "I pray thee tell to me:"
"It's for slaying of the king's fallow deer, Bearing their long bows with thee."
"Dost thou not mind, old woman," he said, 25 "Since thou made me sup and dine?
By the truth of my body," quoth bold Robin Hood, "You could not tell it in better time."
Now Robin Hood is to Nottingham gone, _With a link a down and a day_,[L30] 30 And there he met with a silly old palmer, Was walking along the highway.
"What news? what news, thou silly old man?
What news, I do thee pray?"
Said he, "Three squires in Nottingham town 35 Are condemn'd to die this day."
"Come change thy apparel with me, old man, Come change thy apparel for mine; Here is forty shillings in good silver, Go drink it in beer or wine." 40
"O thine apparel is good," he said, "And mine is ragged and torn; "Wherever you go, wherever you ride, Laugh ne'er an old man to scorn."
"Come change thy apparel with me, old churl, 45 Come change thy apparel with mine; Here are twenty pieces of good broad gold, Go feast thy brethren with wine."
Then he put on the old man's hat, It stood full high on the crown: 50 "The first bold bargain that I come at, It shall make thee come down."
Then he put on the old man's cloak, Was patch'd black, blew, and red; He thought it no shame all the day long 55 To wear the bags of bread.
Then he put on the old man's breeks, Was patch'd from ballup to side: "By the truth of my body," bold Robin can say, "This man lov'd little pride," 60
Then he put on the old man's hose, Were patch'd from knee to wrist: "By the truth of my body," said bold Robin Hood, "I'd laugh if I had any list."
Then he put on the old man's shoes, 65 Were patch'd both beneath and aboon; Then Robin Hood swore a solemn oath, It's good habit that makes a man.
Now Robin Hood is to Nottingham gone, _With a link a down and a down_, 70 And there he met with the proud sheriff, Was walking along the town.
"O Christ you save, O sheriff," he said,[L73]
"O Christ you save and see;[L74]
And what will you give to a silly old man 75 To-day will your hangman be?"
"Some suits, some suits," the sheriff he said, "Some suits I'll give to thee: Some suits, some suits, and pence thirteen, To-day's a hangman's fee." 80
Then Robin he turns him round about, And jumps from stock to stone: "By the truth of my body," the sheriff he said, "That's well jumpt, thou nimble old man."
"I was ne'er a hangman in all my life, 85 Nor yet intends to trade; But curst be he," said bold Robn, "That first a hangman was made.
"I've a bag for meal, and a bag for malt, And a bag for barley and corn; 90 A bag for bread, and a bag for beef, And a bag for my little small horn.
"I have a horn in my pocket, I got it from Robin Hood, And still when I set it to my mouth, 95 For thee it blows little good."[L96]
"O wind thy horn, thou proud fellw, Of thee I have no doubt: I wish that thou give such a blast Till both thy eyes fall out." 100
The first loud blast that he did blow, He blew both loud and shrill; A hundred and fifty of Robin Hood's men Came riding over the hill.
The next loud blast that he did give, 105 He blew both loud and amain, And quickly sixty of Robin Hood's men Came shining over the plain.
"O who are those," the sheriff he said, "Come tripping over the lee?" 110 "They're my attendants," brave Robin did say, "They'll pay a visit to thee."
They took the gallows from the slack, They set it in the glen, They hang'd the proud sheriff on that, 115 Releas'd their own three men.
30, and a down a.
73, 74. Oh save, oh save, oh sheriff, he said, Oh save and you may see.