Gest of Robyn Hode, A [Child 117] --- Part 10
DESCRIPTION: This concludes of the notes to "A Gest of Robyn Hode" [Child 117]. This contains the textual notes.
Last updated in version 2.6
NOTES: As mentioned in the Introduction, there are very many variants among the prints of the "Gest," and some places where the text has been entirely lost. Many scholars have worked on the text, but none of the editions can be considered the last word. Indeed, I think a great deal of additional work needs to be done. This section summarizes most of the major variants, with occasional commentary on why one reading or another might be preferred. I have of course added my own observations where relevant.
The prints are referred to by Child's sigla, a b c d e f g (plus pq for the two fragments found since his time). For discussion of these copies, see the section "The Text of the Gest." As in the notes on the content of the "Gest," references are to Child's stanza numbers and Knight/Ohlgren's line numbers.
** Stanza 4/Line 13 ** "Scarlock." There is a variant in the spelling; the a text calls him "Scarlock," while b and f use "Scathelock," which g simplifies to "Scathlock." The fragment d has "Scathelocke" in stanza 293, which is perhaps as close as we can come to a "tiebreaker." We find other names in the later ballads, e.g. the first line of "Robin Hood and the Prince of Aragon" [Child 129] calls him "Will Scadlock."
"Guy of Gisborne," stanza 13, refers to "Scarlett"; the "Monk" has "Wyll Scathlok" in stanza 63, and the Percy text of the "Death" has "Will Scarlett" in stanza 2. The parliamentary roll for Winchester in 1432 has the gag line "Robyn, hode, Inne, Grenewode, Stode, Godeman, was, hee, lytel Joon, Muchette Millerson, Scathelock, Reynoldn" (Holt1, p. 69; cf. Cawthorne, p. 58).
The Forresters manuscript version of "Robin Hood's Delight" [Child 136] corrects the "Scarlock" of the broadsides to "Scathlock," which Knight, p. xvii, declares the more traditional form. There is also an instance in the Forresters book where a later hand has corrected "Will Stutley" to "Will Scathlock" in the title of the ballad "Robin Hood Rescuing Will Stutly" [Child 141] (Knight, pp. xxvi, 92), but the manuscript also has "Scarlett" and (once) "Scarett."
There is no obvious reason, based on internal evidence, to prefer either "Scarlock" or "Scathelok." Neither of the latter two, we should point out, appears to be attested as an earlier form of the word scarlet. If one has to choose a reading, "Scarlock" is perhaps the best, since this is the middle reading; both "Scarlet" and "Scathelock" can be derived from it by a single phoneme change. But this is a weak basis for a decision.
The modern preference for "Scarlet" may be the result of Shakespeare, that great distorter of history, who in 2 Henry IV, V.iii, line 103 in RiversideShakespeare, has Silence sing "And Robin Hood, Scarlet, and John." (This is one of three instances of Shakespeare mentioning Robin Hood, according to Cawthorne, pp. 80-81; none of the mentions are substantial enough to tell us anything.)
** Stanza 4/Line 14 ** "Much the Miller's Son." In this first instance of his name, there is variation in the prints on whose son Much was; a calls him a "milser's" son, f and g a "mylner's" son. The first is obviously an error (recall that the typesetter of a didn't have much English, and in Textura fonts, an s looked like an f or even an l); the second might refer to a milliner, but obviously millers were far more common than milliners -- although note Much complaining about John's willingness to give away extra cloth in stanza 73. Still, "miller" seems to be the usual reading in the other instances; it is probably safe to print "miller" here.
** Stanza 7/Line 25 ** The line that begins Stanza 7 is lacking in all texts; Child prints it as a lacuna. Knight/Ohlgren offer as their line 25 the conjecture "Here shal come a lord or sire." They claim that this is similar to lines in other early ballads. The only merit that I can see to the line is that it rhymes with the third line of the stanza -- but the first and third lines do not normally rhyme in the "Gest."
Dobson and Taylor's conjecture is "Till that I have som bolde baron," which is rather better but doesn't seem to fit Robin's preoccupations. I doubt we can conjecture the original, but my thought (arrived at without seeing Dobson/Taylor) is, "We shal wait (i.e. await) som bold abbot."
** Stanza 7/Line 27 ** Child emended the third line of the stanza to read "Or som knyght or [som] squyer," a reading not attested in this form in any of the manuscripts; a omits "som" before "squyer," while bfg read "some." Knight/Ohlgren omit the word.
** Stanza 39 (also 41, 42)/Lines 155, 163, 168 ** There is a textual variant here regarding the number of shillings. Child in 39.3 and 42.3=Knight/Ohlgren line 155, 163 read "ten." The reading of a is xx, i.e. "twenty"; bc have .x., i.e. "ten" in both places.Obviously either reading is an easy error for the other. Child, followed by Knight/Ohlgren, read "ten shillings" on the basis of Stanza 42, where the knight is found to have wealth totalling half a pound. The reading "ten" also scans better. But I could make a case for "twenty"; it would be easy to understand the knight claiming to have twenty shillings; even in his poverty, he would want to round things up....
** Stanza 49/Lines 194, 196 ** Child's text follows the prints in reading the final word of the line as "knowe." This does not rhyme with "spende" in the final line of the stanza, and Knight/Ohlgren (without adding a note or explanation) emend the text to read "wende." This is a possible emendation, but not sure; we might as well emend the final line of the stanza to end (for instance) "goe." However, it is much more likely that the correction should be to a form of the verb "to ken," i.e. to know. Probably it should be "kende," although "kent" or "kennit" are also reasonable.
** Stanza 50/Lines 198-199 ** The second line of this stanza does not rhyme with the fourth, and the third line does. This defect occurs in all extant copies of the verse (abcfg). Child's conjecture is that we should swap the second and third lines, although it is possible that we should rewrite the final line to end in a word that rhymes with "wife" (e.g. "lyfe").
** Stanza 53/Line 209 ** Child's text, in line 53.1, says "He slewe a knyght of Lancaster;" so too Knight/Ohlgren. "Lancaster" is the reading of a. In bf we find "Lancastshyre," which g cleans up as "Lancashire." c has "Lancasesshyre." Child followed a presumably on the grounds that he always followed a. But the reading which best explains the others is surely "Lancastshyre," as in b; anyone confronted with this reading would either convert it to "Lancashire" (as g did, and as c did indirectly) or simplify it to "Lancaster."
** Stanzas 53-54/Lines 212-213 ** Child prints these lines as "My godes both sette and solde / My londes both sette to wede, Robyn." In these lines, a reads both...both; b reads both... beth; c reads bothe....bothe; f reads both...both, g reads both... be. Knight/Ohlgren, p. 153, argue that "both" makes no sense in the second instance, and so adopt "beth" ("be" or "will be") -- and then proceed to emend the first instance to read "beth" also, without manuscript support. But, as any ballad student knows, it is not uncommon for short words to be included in a text for reasons of smoothness. "Both" should surely be allowed in stanza 53, and is the better (although not certain) reading in 54 as well.
** Stanza 62/Lines 245, 246 ** There is a single/plural difference in both these lines; a has frende...borowe, bf(g) have frendes...borowes. Since the change happens in both lines, it is unlikely to be an accidental omission/deletion; one simply must decide between a and b. Similarly with wolde/wyll in the second line of the stanza (and also dyed on/dyed on a in the fourth line. This stanza shows clear evidence of recensional work, although it is not obvious in which direction it went). The only clue I can think of is that "none" in the third line is a considered to be singular and might have attracted the rest to it. This is extremely weak.
** Stanza 68/Lines 271-272 ** The counting out of the loan. Child's text reads that John counted it "by eight and twenty score"; Knight/Ohlgren offer "by eightene and two score." None of the prints actually expresses it this way; a reads xxviij score, i.e. 28 score; bfg read with variants "eighteen and twenty score." "Twenty score" of pounds is of course 400 pounds, but then why the 8/18? Gummere, p. 315, suggests that John was paying out "20 score and more," and indeed he showed such generosity with cloth in stanzas 72-73. But a 40% overpayment? Hard to believe -- and not stated at all clearly; even saying "twenty score and eight" would make the surplus more obvious. It is worth noting that 400 pounds is 600 marks, or 30 score of marks; possibly the 28 was supposed to refer to marks rather than pounds. But the best explanation is probably to start from b, accepting the Knight/Ohlgren emendation but reading it as eighteen-and-two score, i.e. twenty score. Or perhaps emend the line to read something like "by counting twenty score." And don't ask why the poet put it in such a confusing way!
** Stanza 69/Line 273 ** Text a reads "sayde Much," but b has "sayde lytell Much," follwed by f and g (which uses the modern spelling "little"). We find "little Much" in stanzas 73 and 77 without variant. The meter works better with "little" than without. Child included "lytell" in [square brackets] as dubious; Knight/Ohlgren print it without indication of doubt although they mention the variant in their notes. Given that short words are more typically dropped than added by scribes, "lytell Much" seems the better reading. See also the note on Stanza 4.
** Stanza 70/Line 277 ** a and b both read "To helpe his body therin." This reading is difficult enough that Child conjectured that the original should be "lappe," i.e. wrap (a reading found in fg); the noun "lappe" is found in Chaucer (e.g.) for a fold or hem or pocket (Chaucer/Benson, p. 1262), and the verb lappyn, fold, enclose, cover, swath occurs in several of the poems in Turville-Petre (cf. p. 238). Whether the emendation is solid enough to go against the testimony of both a and b must be left for the reader; all the recent editions have followed Child.
** Stanza 75/Line 298 ** The text of a has Little John speak "To gentill Robyn Hode"; bfg have John direct his speech "All unto Robyn Hode." Since Robin was not, at the time the "Gest" was written, considered to be of the gentry, we must suspect that "gentill" is the original text and bfg corrected what appeared to be an error of meaning.
** Stanza 76/Line 304 ** All the editions follow Child in reading "God graunt that he [the knight] be true." But b has "leve" for "graunt." "Leve" is shorthand for "believe," i.e. "trust." This is difficult enough that fg emend it to "lende." But, while difficult, it is not impossible. It is easy to see how "leve" could be replaced by "graunt," difficult to see how the reverse could come about. "Leve" appears the better reading. I might also conjecture that the original was "give," which would be the middle reading if attested.
** Stanza 78/Line 310 ** The a and b texts both have Little John suggest giving the knight a "clere" pair of spurs. Child and Knight/Ohlgren both change this to "clene" on the basis of f and g. But this surely is an emendation by f. Either we should let the reading stand or we should emend to something more meaningful -- perhaps "dere," i.e. costly. Or, perhaps, "clere" means something like "free and clear."
** Stanza 87/Line 345 ** All the extant texts (bfg) omit the first line of this stanza. Child suggested duplicating it from the previous stanza, on the ground that it might have fallen out because the two lines have the same ending (homoioteleuton). This reasonable emendation is adopted by the more recent editors but is beyond proof.
** Stanza 88/Lines 351-352 ** The last two lines of stanza 88 make nonsense and are likely corrupt, but the prints generally agree on thenonsense text (apart from a minor correction in g, "lay it downe" for "lay downe" in 88.4, a reading followed by Gummere), and no good emendation has been suggested; the best I can think of is "he will come anon."
** Stanza 89/Line 354 **Corruption is probable in stanza 88; it is almost certain in the second line of 89 (the two problems are most likely related). b reads "In Englonde he is ryght." Child and Dobson/Taylor both follow fg in reading instead "In Englonde is his ryght." This is, however, an utterly obvious conjecture with no real claim to originality. Knight/Ohlgren emend byomitting the words and reading the line "In Englonde ryght" and then use this for a complex argument. I am not convinced by either emendation, and doubt we can draw any sure conclusion based on the line.
** Stanza 91/Line 362 ** The abbott swears by "Saint Richard." Knight/Ohlgren emend this to "Saint Rychere" for purposes of maintaining the rhyme (Knight/Ohlgren, p. 155), a saint's name also used in "Gamelyn" but not otherwise known. There is little justification for the emendation; there are many instances of bad rhymes in the "Gest," and to replace an unlikely saint with a non-existent saint is not an improvement.
A second possibility is to emend the text more thorouthly, possibly to "Saint Cuthbert," who was a famous Northumbrian saint (the Venerable Bede wrote a life of him, and Douglas, p. 219, calls all England north of the Tees "St. Cuthbert's Land") and whose name rhymes fairly well (particularly if it were written, say, "Saint Cuthbere"). Chaucer, in the Reeve's Tale, has northerners still swearing by "Seynt Cutberd" (Chaucer/Benson, p. 81, line 4127; Pollard, p. 69). I also note that the previous line has a reference to the Abbot's beard, which rhymes well with "Saint Richard"; perhaps what we have is two stanzas badly shortened down to one.
One other possibility (and I emphasize that all of these are just speculations) is that the original was some variant (probably anglicized) on "Saint Roch," or "St. Rochur" (the Latin form of the name, which is obviously very similar in sound to "Richard"), which a copyist converted to "Saint Richard" because Roch is such an un-English name.
Roch, or Rocco, or Roque (c. 1295-1327) was a Frenchman famous for his ability to treat the plague and the patron saint of invalids (DictSaints, p. 213). He was also famous for an association with dogs because, in one tale, a dog fed him while he himself suffered plague (Benet, p. 977), Could the abbot, like Friar Tuck in a later form of the Robin Hood legend, have been a keeper of dogs? Alternately, could the day of the knight's visit have been August 16, Saint Roch's day?
It is true that Roch was not canonized until after the death of Edward II, and hence after the likely date of this incident, but Roch was well known during the plague years of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (and largelyforgotten after that); it would be a much more likely name at the time the "Gest" was written than at any timebefore or since.
I also am tempted by "Saint Robert," referring to Saint Robert of Knaresborough; see the explanatory note.
In the end, though, the reading "Saint Richard" is not nonsensical enough to justify emendation. I am sore tempted by "Saint Rochur," but am content to leave it in the margin.
** Stanza 93/Line 371 ** Child's text reads "The [hye] iustyce of Englonde"; Dobson/Taylor and Knight/Ohlgren omit "hye" (the former without so much as a footnore), making it the "iustice of Englonde." This is one of the more significant textual problems of the "Gest." The only witnesses are bfg. b omits the word "hye", which is found in f (g modernizes the spelling to "high"). Ordinarily, of course, a reading supported only by fg would not be considered. Presumably Child includes the word because it makes no sense to refer to one man as "the justice of England"; also, the phrase "hye iustice" is found without variants in stanza 266.
Possibly "high" is just a word the poet uses to fill a syllable before an office? In Stanza 318, he refers to the "hye shyref," and that office doesn't exist either. But why "high"? Probably we should follow b and read "justice," not "high justice."
Another possibility, which I have not seen elsewhere, is to emend "Englonde" rather than "iustice." All our problems would disappear if the text read something like "the iustice of the foreste" -- we know exactly what office that was!
** Stanza 98/Line 389 ** A line is missing here in all three extant witnesses (bfg). Child conjectured the text "They put on their symple wedes" based on the third line of the previous stanza. Child's emendation is probably the best we can do, but the probability is high that more than one line is damaged; the previous stanza does not fit with what has gone before. Instead of inserting a line here, an alternate proposal might be to omit the last three lines of stanza 97 and combine it with the last three lines of 98, or something similar. So possible readings would be something like
Than bespake that gentyll knyght
And with him Lytell Johnn,
The porter was redy hymselfe,
And welcomed them euerychone.
(emending the second line), or
Than arrived that gentyll knyght
They came to the gates anone;
The porter was redy hymselfe,
And welcomed them euerychone.
(emending the first line).
** Stanza 113/Line 450 ** Child and Knight/Ohlgren print this line as "And vylaynesly hym gan call." This is Child's conjecture to rhyme with the last word of the stanza ("hall"); acde are all defective here, fg omit the line, and b -- which is thus our only witness -- reads "And vylaynesly hym gan loke." The word "loke" is probably an error repeated from the previous line, meaning thatChild's conjecture is reasonable, but it would be possible to emend the last line, "Spede the out of my hall!" -- if we could find an acceptable substitute for "hall" that rhymes with "loke."
** Stanza 128/Line 511 ** Child reads "Ne had be his kyndeness" following a; bfg read "had not be." Dobson/Taylor, p. 88, read "he" for "be," without showing any indication that this is not the reading of a. Although both readings make sense, this is perhaps a typesetting error.
** Stanza 132/Line 527 ** The arrows had silver on them -- somewhere. b reads "I nocked all with whyte silver," that is "Nocked all with white silver"; fg read "And nocked the(y) were with whyte silver" -- but a has "Worked all with whyte silver." The nock was a groove in the back of an arrow into which the bowstring was placed. This was a weak point of an arrow, and a truly well-made arrow might have a metal cap there.
The reading of bfg implies that this cap was made of silver, which, as Knight/Ohlgren confess on p. 156, was "unusually lavish." So lavish as to be silly, since silver was not as structurally strong as iron. The arrows could just as well have been "worked" with silver, as in a, which might mean that the shaft or the point had silver tracings. Child and Knight/Ohlgren, who usually follow a slavishly, here adopt the reading of b (except for reading Inocked, one word, instead of I nocked, two words), but certainly a strong case could be made for "worked" -- the reading accepted by Dobson/Taylor, p. 88. A silver nock, after all, will not be very visible under the feathers!
** Stanza 133/Line 529** An escort of "a hundred men": so bfg; a is defective for the number.
** Stanza 135/Line 537 ** This line is surely corrupt. Child gives it in full as "But as he went at a brydge ther was a wrastelyng," which is too long and rather nonsensical. This is the reading of b; a is defective, and f and g appear to be attempts to correct the reading of b. Child suggests "at Wentbrydge" as an emendation for "Went at a brydge"; Knight/Ohlgren accept this into the text. This seems logical, since the place near Barnsdale where Watling Street crosses the Went is called, unsurprisingly, "Wentbridge." And Wentbridge ("Went-breg") is mentioned in stanza 6 of the "Potter." But there is no actual textual support for Child's emendation.
Dobson/Taylor, p. 88, do not print "Wentbridge," adopting the reading of b but suggesting it is a play on or allusion to "Wentbridge" -- although they admit on p. 21 that the allusion is vague.
My personal suspicion is that what we have is a case of three lines being lost. The text "But as he went at a brydge ther was a wrastelyng" is actually two lines, with the final two lines of that stanza, and the first line of the next stanza, missing.
** Stanza 138/Line 551 ** This line is disturbed, although the reason for the disturbance is not clear. a reads "And for he was ferre and frembde bested," followed by Child and the other editions; there are a few variants in the other copies, of which the only significant one is that bf(g) fread "frend" for "frembde." This hardly helps. The likely meaning is something like "And he was far from home and friendless," but the line may be corrupt.
** Stanza 140/Line 558 ** A hundred men followed the knight. But how? bfg say they followed him (in) fear; a simply says they followed him. Neither of these readings rhymes with "companye" at the end of the stanza. Child emended to read that they followed him "free," and most editors have followed this. It is a good emendation, although it is just possibly that we should emend the final line, e.g. change "companye" to something like "knyght dere."
** Stanza 147/Line 588 ** There is much uncertainty in the prints; a reads "That ever yet saw I," which (since the line is to rhyme with "tre(e)") is possible only if "I" is pronounced "ee." b reads "That yet saw I me," which is a proper rhyme but is short a syllable. fg read "That yet I did see," which both scans and rhymes, but is a rather modern formation.
Child proposes to emend the line to "That every yet saw I me," a rather otiose reflexive but one which also occurs in stanzas 100 and 184 (Knight/Ohlgren, p. 157). This is probably the best emendation, given the existence of the parallels, but it should be emphasized that this is a conjecture. Another conjecture would be to read "That ever saw I me," or we perhaps "That ever yet saw my ee" (eye).
And it is possible that a's reading is original. Unlikely as it seems, Child has to make the very same emendation in stanza 169, where he gives the last line as "That eyer yit saw I me," to rhyme with "lewte." The fact that the same emendation has to be made twice is an indication that perhaps the text is correct in both cases (which perhaps means that we should indeed read "I" as "ee." Could this be the result of a residual northernism?).
** Stanza 156/Line 624 ** A rough line for a rough demand: a reads "Give me my dinner, said Little John," while b offers "Give me to dine, said Little John" (fg have "Give me meat" for "Give me to dine"). Knight/Ohlgren mention the smoother emendation "Give me my dinner soon," which is also better poetry, but admit that there is no reason to question the text.
** Stanza 157/Line 628 ** Child follows a in reading "My dyner gif me." bfg read, with spelling variations, "My dyner gif thou me." Knight/Ohlgren accept the longer version on metrical grounds, but we could just as well emend to "My dyner gif to me."
** Stanza 160/Lines 637-640 ** The number of variants in the texts of this verse is astonishing. Such variation is often an indication of a damaged and conjecturally restored text, although there is no particular reason to reject Child's text. The most serious variant is in the first line of the stanza, where a says that Little John gave the butler a "tap" while bfg says John gave him a "rap." There is really no grounds for preferring either reading. Similarly, in the third line, a says that the butler would not feel such a blow in a hundred years, while bfg have a hundred winter(s). Interestingly, these two variants occur at the end of the two longest lines of the stanza. Could it be that the manucript which was the last common ancestor of a and b was damaged for the right-hand edge of this verse?
** Stanza 163/Line 650 ** Child gives the line as "The while that he wolde," rhyming with "bolde" at the end of the stanze. But a reads "The while that he wol be," and b has "The while he wolde." Child's reading is from fg. Knight/Ohlgren label Child's reading an emendation, which it is not, quite, but this line is quite uncertain and it and the final line of the stanza must both be considered doubtful. Dobson/Taylor, p. 91, follow a.
** Stanza 164/Line 654 ** Both a and b read this line as "Thou arte a shrewede hynde," which would usually be decisive, but fg read the last word as "hyne," and Child thinks this may be correct.
** Stanza 165/Line 659 ** Child gives the text of this line as "'I make myn auowe to God,' sayde Lytell John," on the basis of a (except that a, in one of its frequent typographical inversions, reads "anowe" for "avowe"). bfg, however, omit "to God," and Gummere also leaves out the words. Gummere's text is frequently erratic, but there is much to be said for the short reading in this case; the words "to God" might have floated in from the many uses of the phrase "auowe to God" (158.3, 164.1, 187.1, 190.1, 343.1, 346.1). The shorter text is also an easier read.
** Stanza 169/Line 675 ** Child gives the text as "That euer yit sawe I [me]," to rhyme with "lewte" (loyalty) two lines earlier. But a reads "That euer yit saw I." For discussion of the emendation "saw I me," see the note on Stanza 147, where Child made the same emendation. Here, however, "saw I me" is supported by bfg, which have divergent readings in stanza 147. Dobson/Taylor, p. 91, follow a in part but split "sawe" into two words and omit I, yielding "ever yit sa we" -- clever, but an emendation at a place where bfg have a perfectly good reading.
** Stanza 176/Line 701 ** Child reads "Also [they] toke the gode pens" (=pence). "They" is omitted by a; bfg include it. Knight/Ohlgren, p. 158, call the word "not grammatically essential" but follow Child's lead. Given the ineptitude of a, I would incline to include the word; a probably dropped it accidentally.
** Stanza 176/Lines 704, 706 ** The variant here is complex. a says that Little John and the cook took "Three hundred pounde and more" to Robin Hood "Under the grene wode hore," that is, "under the green wood hoar." fg have a different rhyme: The robbers took "Three hundred pounds and three" to Robin "under the green wood tree." b has the unlikely reading "three hundred pounde and more... under the green wode tre.'
Ordinarily, we might prefer the reading of b as best explaining the others: a corrected "tree" to "hore," and fg corrected "more" to "three." In this case, however, it is pretty clear that b mistakenly printed "green wode tre" (a common catchphrase) for "green wode hore" (rather obscure), and that f desperately emended the second line to make it match the fourth. Although it is interesting that, in stanza 179, we are told that John and the cook did in fact bring three hundred pounds and three.
** Stanza 179/Line 714 ** Child emends the line to "And sende[th] the here by me" and offers as a conjecture "sent the" for "sendeth the," citing stanza 384 as a place where the text uses the form "sent." ab read "sende the"; f gives the line as "And he hath send the here by me," which g modernizes as "sent thee..." Child's emendation was intended to make the verb tense match the preceding line. Knight/Ohlgren reject the emendation as unneeded. It should be noted that, although the issue in the prints is whether there reading should be "th" or "thth," in the original manuscript it might have been a single or double letter thorn. Copying two copies of a letter as one, or vice versa, is a very common error.
** Stanza 183/Line 731 ** Knight/Ohlgren emend Child's "shryef," of uncertain meaning but found in all texts, to "shyref," sheriff.
** Stanza 186/Line 741 ** Child reads "Their tyndes" (antlers, from the root for "tine"), with af; b reads "His tynde." Child's reading points to the antlers of the entire herd of deer John is describing; b's refers presumably to the green hart (i.e. Robin Hood) at their head. Knight/Ohlgren follow Child without even adding a note. It is awkward to see the antlers referred to in the singular, but if they were spoken of as singular, it would invite correction. There is much to be said for the "b" reading.
** Stanza 191/Line 763 ** Child's text says the Sheriff was served "well." This is the reading of a; bfg omit. Knight/Ohlgren follow Child, but the meter is better with "well" than without; it is perhaps an addition for smoothness.
** Stanza 192/Line 768 ** According to a, Robin says that "I graunt" the sheriff his life; in bfg, the verb is a passive, "is graunted." Is a passive more likely to be converted to an active or vice verse? I'd think the former.
** Stanza 193/Line 771 ** Child's text says Roin "commaunde[d]" Little John. a reads "commaunde"; b has "commanded"; f "commaunded," g "commanded." Knight/Ohlgren follow Child in using the past tense "commaunded," but the present tense is surely the more difficult reading; the text of a is probably preferable.
** Stanza 194/Line 775 ** Child gives the line as "And to[ke] hym a grene mantel." "Toke" is the reading of bf (g has "tooke"); a has 'to." Knight/Ohlgren accept the reading of bfg, but it is hard to imagine why anyone would have changed "toke" to "to," while the reverse change is quite plausible. The shorter reading is probably to be preferred.
** Stanza 201/Line 803 ** Child prints the last three words of this line as "the best[e] frende." a reads "thy best frende"; bfg read "the best frende." "Beste" improves the meter, but probably not enough to justify the emendation (although someone reading the line aloud might well say "beste"). Knight/Ohlgren follow a and read "thy best"; I would follow b and read "the best." Admittedly the reading of a is less smooth, but this is just the sort of error that is typical of a, and any poet good enough to compile the "Gest" could see that "the" would sound better than "thy."
** Stanaza 203/Line 810 ** Child has "By nyght or [by] day"; Knight/Ohlgren omit the second occurence of "by." "By day" is the reading of bf; g has "else by day"; a has simply "day" without "by." The reading of a gives us an extremely short line; the reading of b is still short and gives us two unstressed syllables. I would follow Child and include "by" on the grounds that no editor would add just that one word; someone playing with the text would add two syllables, as g did.
** Stanza 206/Lines 823-824 ** Robin fears that the Virgin is "wrothe with me, For she sent me nat my pay." For "pay" a reads "pray," but no editor has accepted this -- although it would be interesting to read it as "prey," meaning that Robin has not had enough victims to rob. But "pay" makes better sense in light of what follows.
** Stanza 209/Line 835 ** Child's text reads "And wayte after some vnketh (unknown) gest." Child's reading is a conjecture; b reads "And wayte after such vnketh gest," while fg have minor variants on "And looke for some strange gest." Knight/Ohlgren, p. 159, reject Child's emendation on the grounds that the reading of b makes sense, if rather forced sense; Dobson/Taylor, p. 94, also accept the reading of b. An alternate emendation would be "And wayte after such an vnketh gest." See also the next note; this section shows the signs of having been very corrupt and badly corrected.
** Stanza 210/Lines 838-840 ** The a text is defective here, and b does not rhyme (it gives the verse as "Whether he be messengere, Or a man that myrthes can, Or yf he be a pore man, Of my gode he shall haue some'). Child reverses the last two lines, omitting the "or" before "yf he be." This is a reasonable conjecture, but there may be deeper damage -- if we could emend the second line of the stanza to rhyme with "some," the structure would be more logical. Possibly emend the second line to something like "a man of myrthe and song" -- a weak rhyme, but it produces an orderly stanza. Knight/Ohlgren accept Child's conjecture; Dobson/Taylor do not.
** Stanza 213/Line 849 ** The text of bf reads "But as he loked in Bernysdale." For "he" g reads "they," which is also the reading of the parallel in stanza 21, and Child accepts this emendation, printing [t]he[y]. The plural accords with the plurals in stanza 212 and in the third line of this stanza, and Knight/Ohlgren accept it. But g is derived from bf; the change is clearly editorial. The reading "he" is clearly the earliest preserved, and probably should be preferred.
** Stanza 214/Line 856 ** Child prints the line "That [these] monkes haue brought our pay." The reading of b is "That monkes haue brought our pay." Child's reading follows fg. Knight/Ohlgren, p. 159, propose instead that the scribe of the ancestor of b misread the text; they emend to "The monkes." Another possible emendation would be to read "These monkes" without "That." Another possibility is to read "That the monk" (singular). The problem is, all of these conjectures are reasonable, but none is significantly better than the others. In all likelihood one of them is correct, but it might be best to follow b simply because we don't know which one.
** Stanza 215/Line 858 ** In Child's text, Little John tells his subordinates to "frese your bowes of ewe (yew)." "Frese" is the verb of b, although it says "our bowes" rather than "your bowes." fg reads "bend we our" -- almost certainly indicating that their exemplar read "frese our" and they did not understand it. Child suggests as emendations "dress" (i.e. "prepare") or "leese" (i.e. "loose.") Dobson/Taylor, p. 94, suggest but do not adopt the emendation "free," i.e. "prepare." Knight/Ohlgren accept the emendation "dress" (spelling it "drese"). Either emendation is possible; neither strikes me as very compelling.
"Frese" could be either of two Middle English words: the verb to freeze (freseth, from Old English freosan; Dickins/Wilson, p. 270; also Sisam under "frese") or the noun "frese/fresse," "danger" (so Sisam under "fresse") or "harm" (Turville-Petre, p. 231). Obviously a verb is required. And "frese" in Middle English would not carry the modern sense "hold still" conveyed by the command "Freeze!" I would be inclined to print "frese" with a notation that the text is corrupt, inviting a better conjecture than those proposed so far. Perhaps we should read "frese" as a noun (with the sense "You're in trouble!") and add a verb, along the lines of "And frese! See our bowes of ewe...."
Gummere, Dobson/Taylor, and Knight/Ohlgren are agreed in reading "our bowes" for Child's emendation "your bowes."
** Stanza 216/Line 861 ** In Child's text, the monk had 52 men, with [men] in brackets as questionable. b omits 'men' (and writes 53 as lii); the word "men" is found in f, while g has "man." a is defective here. Knight/Ohlgren think "men" can be omitted, and I incline to agree.
** Stanza 218/Line 870 ** In b, John tells his companions (Much and Scarlock) to make "all you prese to stonde" -- that is, to make the approaching press (crowd) to halt. In f(g), John orders "you yonder preste to stonde." "Preste" means "priest" (and is so spelled in g). In the variant "you" versus "you yonder," Child emends to "yon," which is logical. The more significant variant is between "press" and "priest" -- a change of only one letter. All editors appear to read "prese" with b, which is of course the best text, but either reading is possible.
** Stanza 223/Line 889 ** The text of b says that Much had a"bolte" ready. Probably because crossbows fired bolts and longbows arrows, f (followed, of course, by g) amends the line to read "bowe," but since an arrow could casually be called a bolt; there is no need to emend.
** Stanza 240/Lines 959-960 ** For "rightwys man," i.e. "righteous man." b reads "ryghtywysman," i.e. perhaps "right wise man"; f in fact reads "ryght wise man." The reading "dame" is a conjecture based on fg; b reads either "name" (so Child) or "ame" (so Knight/Ohlgren. This disagreement is not as large as it sounds, since an overbar could sometimes indicate a letter n).
** Stanza 247/Line 988 ** The monk allegedly carried "eyght [hondred] pounde" -- 800 pounds. So Child's text, anyway; b omits the word "hundred"; f and g read "hundreth." But since Robin and John claim that the monk paid back twice the 400 pounds borrowed by the knight, the meaning is hardly in doubt.
** Stanza 249/Line 994 ** Child's text is "Monke, what tolde I the," parsed as a question, "Monk, what told I thee?." This is the reading of b. However, fgp read "that" instead of "what." If parsed as a declarative statement, "Monk, that told I thee" -- Robin is declaring to the monk that he told the monk how true Mary is. Given that it is supported by p, and that it is probably the slightly more difficult reading, "that" should probably be preferred to "what."
** Stanza 256/Line 1021 ** The text of b, "'How moch is in yonder other corser?' sayd Robyn," has caused problems since the time of f, which amends Robin's quote to read, "And what is on the other courser?" g goes beyond even that and produces "And what is in the other coffer?" Kittredge suggested emending "corser" to "forcer," another word for "coffer," and Clawson, p. 22, approves of the emendation.
I am not convinced. The line is certainly too long, and far from clear, but, so far, no convincing emendation has been proposed; perhaps we should mark it as having a primitive error. In performance, we should probably give the line as something like "'How much is on the other courser?'" (omitting "said Robin," which is not needed).
I do wonder a little about Robin referring to a baggage horse as a "courser." Perhaps it was a particularly poor-looking nag (used perhaps for disguise?), and Robin was being ironic?
** Stanza 262/Line 1048 ** According to Knight/Ohlgren, p. 160, the text of bfg reads "And all they mery meyne," although Child's text prints "And all his mery meyne," and none of his collations show a variant here. The meyne is clearly Robin's, based on the previous line, so Child's emendation (?) "his" makes sense -- but Knight/Ohlgren suggest that "they" ("thy?") is an error for "the." Knight/Ohlgren's argument is reasonable, but the reading of the prints should probably be checked.
** Stanza 268/Line 1069 ** "'But take not a grefe,' sayde the knyght, 'That I heue been so longe..." This is the text printed by Child, on the evidence of b. f prints it as two lines --both of them metrically correct -- making up the line count by combining the last two lines of 270. The line as given by b is patently too long, as the compositor of f recognized. Knight/Ohlgren seek to emend by taking out "sayde the knyght." That emendation is required is clear, but this leaves a line still too long, and there is no reason for this. I very stongly suspect that what we have is not a case of one line that is too long but of three missing lines. We may also see evidence of this in the first line of 270, which like the first line of 268 is badly overburdened. The original reading was perhaps something like this:
268. 'But take not a grefe,' sayde the knyght,
'That I haue been so long.
For as I came to grene wode
I stopped to rite a wrong. (Or "I met a yeman strong", or some such).
268A. "For as I passed Wyresbridg
I came by wrastelyng...."
And so forth. We of course cannot recreate the missing lines, and so perhaps it is best to retain Child's version, but we should certainly mark this as corrupt.
** Stanza 271/Line 1083 ** Child has the line refer to the "[hye] selerer." b omits the word "hye"; it is found in f (which spells it "high") and g ("hie"). Knight/Ohlgren omit, and I agree. Child perhaps adds the word under the influence of stanza 233.
** Stanza 275/Line1102 ** The text of b here reads "And go to my treasure," which is to rhyme to "me." This confused the publishers of fg, who could not see how "treasure" rhymed with "me." They therefore changed it to the feeble "My wyll done that it be." But "treasure" is doubtless to be pronounced "treasury."
** Stanza 282/Line 1127 ** This marks the first of several instances (also stanza 291/line1163, stanza 300/line 1199, stanza 313/line 1251) where Child prints a text which refers to the "proud[e] sheryf." In each case, the primary text (b) prints "proud" rather than "proude." Both "proud" and "proude" are found in the "Gest" -- but, in Middle English, both forms are correct, and interchangeable; the one which is metrically better is perhaps to be preferred. This is certainly "proude sheriff," since otherwise we have back-to-back stressed syllables. On the other hand, all the instances cited are the third line of a stanza, which is probably the part of the text where the meter is least important. Someone reading the text might well pronounce the word "proude," but it is an open question what we should print.
** Stanza 283/Line 1131 ** Child prints the line "And [he] that shoteth allther best."Of the prints, fg read "they" instead of "he" (and read the verb as "shote"/"shoote" and have "all ther" for "allther"); b has no pronoun. Knight/Ohlgren would follow b. It is likely that the line is corrupt.
** Stanza 290/Line 1158 ** Child makes the last word of the line "he[ue]de," i.e. "hevede," to rhyme with "desceyued," "deceived," at the end of the stanza. The text of b, however, is simply "hede." The form "hevede" is based on a legitimate early English form, but does not occur, e.g., in the "Gest." While there may be corruption in this verse (note the number of variants in this and the next two stanzas), Knight/Ohlgren are probably right to follow b.
** Stanza 291/Line 1163 ** For Child's reading "proud[e]" see the textual note on Stanza 282.
** Stanza 291/Line 1164 ** Child gives the last line of the stanza as "All by the but [as] he stode." The word "as" is found in d but omitted by b. Both meanings are sensible; the reading without "as" is better metrically. It is unfortunate that d is so short that we cannot firmly assess its text. Short words like "as" are easily lost, and I can see no reason to add it, since the longer reading damages the meter. Knight/Ohlgren omit "as." I incline to think Child was right to include it.
** Stanza 292/Line1166 ** Child makes the text to read that, during the archery contest, "alway he [Robin] slist the wnd," meaning that his arrows always touched the wand holding the target. However, instead of "he," b reads "they," as does d, which however reads "clyft" (cleft) for "slist" (sliced, slit); f has "he' but changes "slist" to "clefte"; g reads "he claue"(="clave"). Presumably the b text means that either all Robin's archers sliced the wand or, more likely, all his arrows did so. This is unclear enough that fg changed it, and Child for some reason went along.
** Stanza 300/Line 1199 ** For Child's reading "proud[e]" see the textual note on Stanza 282.
** Stanza 303/Line 1210 ** Child gives the second line of the stanza as "If euer thou loue[d]st me," but bd gives the verb as "louest." f reads "loues," g reads "loued." The reading of f is impossible; that of g a clear correction. Knight/Ohlgren think, and I agree, that we should read "louest"; the syntax here is complex enough that we need not expect exact verb concord.
** Stanza 305/Line 1220 ** For "No lyfe on me be lefte," the reading of b (d?), fg read, with minor variants "That after I eate no bread." This is so obviously feeble that it is clear their archetype worked from a copy where the last line of the stanza is illegible or has been torn away. We see another instance of this in stanza 400, where two lines were illegible.
** Stanza 310/Line 1238 ** For "Syr Rychard at the Lee," or Sir Richard at Lee, as it is usually modermized, g reads "Sir Richard of the Lee."
** Stanza 312/Line 1245 ** Child's reading is "And moche [I] thank the of thy confort." b omits "I"; f rephrases as "And moche I do the thankes (sic.; g reads "thanke") for thy confort." Knight/Ohlgren, p. 162, accepts Child's emendation, although we note that none of the prints contains Child's reading.
** Stanza 315/Lines 1259 ** Child reads "forty" days based on the reading xl of a, but b reads "twelue," and fg also support the reading "twelve" although they rewrite other parts of the line. d is defective. I personally incline to prefer the reading "twelve"; there are just too many Biblical uses of the phrase "forty days," plus forty days was the standard period of sanctuary in a church (Lyon, p. 166). A scribe might naturally think of forty days when thinking of the knight giving sanctuary.. And the two are easily confused in a lot of scripts, since forty is "xl" and twelve is "xii."
** Stanza 317-318/Lines 1265-1272 ** There are several curious textual features in these verses. Stanza 317 ends in mid-sentence. This is unusual although not entirely unknown in the "Gest." The next few lines imply the existence of two sheriffs. There is no evidence of textual corruption in the prints; abd all agree on the essential words. fg make a minor change to 317, but it does not resolve the problem. Emendation seems required.
To make 317 end on a full sentence, several emendations are possible. The simplest would be to change "Howe" at the beginning of the third line to "Of" or similar. Alternately, the first word of the fourth line could be emended from "And" to "Called" or "Brought."
In 318, the simplest emendation would be to omit "to" from the first line; in that case, "hye shyref" becomes symply a synonym for "proude shyref."
** Stanza 330/Line 1317 ** The text of a reads "The shyref there fayles of Robyn Hode" bdfg reads "fayled" for "fayles" All editors seem to accept the b reading.
** Stanzas 331/Line 1324 ** This line is given by Child as "And let [his] haukes flee," but a omits the word "his," found in bd (fg have "his hauke"). Knight/Ohlgren omit the word on the basis of a, but the testimony of bd makes it not unreasonable to retain it.
** Stanzas 338-339/Lines 1352-1353 ** Child leaves blank the last line of stanza 338 and the first stanza of 339, which are lacking in all three of the best witnesses, abd. fg have, with minor variations, "The proude shirife than sayd she" for the last line of 338 but omits the second line of 339., leaving a two-verse fragment. Knight/Ohlgren accept the f reading in stanza 338 (since it almost certainly mentioned the sheriff, and had to rhyme with "the"). In stanza 339, they repeat this with a variant, which is possible, but at least two other types of emendation are equally possible, along the lines of: "They taken hym to Nottyngham" (referring to his destination) or "They took him but two hours past" (referring to the time).
** Stanza 343/Line 1370 ** The text of Child, following ad, says that Robin wishes to see and take (i.e. capture) the Sheriff. But bfg say that Robin wishes to see and take (i.e. rescue) the knight. Both readings have substantial merit. Since there is no real reason to prefer one over the other, we should probably follow ad over b.
** Stanzas 348/Line 1392 ** Child gives this line as "With his bright[e] bronde." "Brighte" is the reading of bdfg; a has "bright." In stanza 202, both a and b read "bright." We must at least allow for the possibility that the copyist of a assimilated this verse to that. "Brighte" is also better metrically. Although Knight/Ohlgren, p. 163, prefer to read "bright," the case for "brighte" appears slightly better.
** Stanza 349/Line 1395 ** The a text, which had several lacunae prior to this point, ends after the third line of this stanza and is lacking for the rest of the poem. The d text, which began with stanza 280, ends with stanza 350. Thus for stanza 351 to the end of the poem, except for the few dozen lines of e, we have essentially only one witness, the b text and its inferior relatives fg.
** Stanza 351/Line 1402 ** In this stanza Robin cuts... something... in two to free the knight. What was it? b says his "hoode," which is accepted by Dobson/Taylor, p. 104. Child emends this to "bonde," which certainly Robin must have cut at some point and is in any case a better rhyme. The reading "bonde" is accepted by Knight/Ohlgren; they note on p. 163 that in stanza 332 the knight was merely bound hand and foot, not hooded. Nonetheless the b reading could have been correct; the guards could have tied the knight's hood over his eyes to prevent him from seeing.
** Sanza 355/Line 1420 ** It is hard to imagine a dialect in which "Hode" (line 2) and "stout" (line 4) rhyme. Possibly we should emend "stout" to "gode," but there is no indication of this in the prints.
** Stanza 357/Line 1425 ** Child's text reads "All the passe of Lancasshyre,"on the basis of b. Gummere, p. 319, explains "passe" as meaning limits, bounds, extant -- i.e. the whole region. This is not the usual meaning of "passe," however. The most suitable meaning in Chaucer, according to Chaucer/Benson p. 1276, is "pace," which is also the meaning that Sisam gives for "pas." Turville-Petrie, p. 245, might suggest "road" as a meaning. None of the noun forms is common, although "pas(s)(e)" is a common verb.
For "passe" fg read "compasse," which Knight/Ohlgren, p. 164, accept; they argue that "passe" makes no sense and suggest that "compasse" is original because of its complexity. But a reading of fg is really no more than a conjecture. We might just as well conjecture "parke" (or "parkes"), which fits the context.
For that matter, Lancashire is surrounded by the Pennines to the east and by other hills to the north and south. These are not high hills, but they are rough enough that travellers tended to use the passes between the peaks (it was considered an amazing accomplishment when William the Conqueror managed to take an army through the Pennines in winter; Douglas, p. 221). Or it might be a mis-reading of "pathes." I would incline to leave the reading alone and let it suggest *all* these meanings, but if we are going to emend, we should emend to "parkes."
** Stanza 361/Line 1442 ** Child says that the King offers a charter which he seals "[with] my honde"; the word "with" is omitted by b although found in fg. Knight/Ohlgren, p. 165, argue that it can be omitted in accord with Middle English usage. An instrumental without a preposition is a very early form, and would tend to push the poem's date earlier, plus the line scans better with "with." Short words are easily lost by scribes. On purely internal grounds, the reading with "with" might be better, but the extermal evidence is so strong that we might probably omit the word.
** Stanza 369/Line 1473 ** The forester offers to be the king's ledes-man, i.e. guide, leader, in bf (g spells it "lodesman"), but Knight/Ohlgren emend this to "bedesman" (a "beads-man," hence "one who prays" or uses the rosary; Langland/Schmidt, p. 516.) Knight/Ohlgen, p. 137, would extend it to mean "one who leads in prayer." They argue (p. 165) that "ledesman" is an assimilation to the previous stanza and that "bedesman" heightens the sense of disguise. It is a clever emendation, and is certainly possible, but "bedesman" is a rare word and the line as given makes sense and emendation is not required.
** Stanza 371/Line 1481 ** Child reads the line "hastely" on the basis of f (g has "hastily"), but b reads "hastly," which Knight/Olhgren consider to be correct.
** Stanza 371/Line 1484 ** Child has this line read "And hasted them thyder blyve," i.e. "hastened them there swiftly," but b has "blyth," not "blyve," and f and g also have "blythe," althoughwith different spellings. It might be argued that hasted...blyve is a more reasonable combination (although it is also redundant) -- but the reading of b is perfectly sensible. Although Knight/Ohlgren and Dobson/Taylor follow this emendation without comment, I really don't think there are sufficient grounds for changing the text.
** Stanza 377/Line 1508 ** The line Child prints here, "Other shyft haue not wee," is lacking in b; he takes it from fg. b instead repeats the text of the second line of the stanza, "Vnder the grene-wode tre." Knight/Ohlgren, p. 166, accept that the poet meant to repeat the line, but this seems highly dubious -- he could surely have produced some sort of variant. The fourth line is probably lost forever; we must either conjecture it or accept the fg reading (which is itself probably a conjecture because the compositor of f, unlike Knight/Ohlgren, felt a different line was needed). An alternate emendation might be something like "My mynie and me" or "My mery men and me."
** Stanza 378/Line 1512 ** Child emends b's reading "saynt charity" to "saynte charyte"; Knight/Ohlgren accept the reading of b. Child's reading perhaps makes it more clear that the reference is not to a particular saint -- the "Gest" seems to prefer the spelling ""Saynt" for a saint (stanzas 84, 91, 315, 390).
** Stanza 381/Line 1524 ** Child's text is "I wolde vouch it safe on the." The reading of b is, however, "I vouch it half on the." This confused f enough that it converted it to "I would give it to thee." Knight/Ohlgren, p. 166, argues that the text of b is sensible enough to be retained. The reading of b is indeed strange and possibly corrupt, but Child's emendation does not explain how it came to be corrupt; it is probably better to retain the reading of b until someone proposes a better reading.
** Stanza 385/Lines 1537-1540 ** The reading of the first line is a crux. The text of b says that the king showed his broad "tarpe." There seems to be no such word in Middle English. Certainly it confused the compositors of fg, who change it to "seale." Child, who was more facile with an emendation, instead proposed "targe," followed by most modern editors -- but this is not a great help. A reading such as "charter" or "letter" would fit better, but it is harder to explain the error of b in that case. A possible suggestion would be to emend the second line of 385, replacing "sone" with "seale." Then the "targe" becomes a letter showing the king's shield (so it can be seen at a distance) and sealed with his seal (for detailed examination). This would explain a lot -- if only it weren't pure conjecture.
** Stanza 400/Lines 1597-1598 ** For Child's text, in which Robin tells outlaws who miss the rose garden that, in addition to losing their gear, "And bere a buffet on his hede, I-wys right all bare,'" f and g read "A good buffet on his head bare, For that shal be his fine," which does not even rhyme with the last word of the stanza. Here again it is clear that the copy used by the compositor of f was defective, and he made up two lines, and g followed. We see a similar instance of a lost line in stanza 305.
** Stanza 401/Line 1604 ** The text of b reads "the good whyte hande'; fg have "lilly" for "good." Child however prints simply "the whyte hande" -- a reading which is metrical if one pronounces "whyte" as two syllables but which might well be an assimilation to stanza 292. Dobson/Taylor follow b, but both Knight/Ohlgren and Gummere accept Child's emendation -- Knight/Ohlgren don't even comment on it!
** Stanza 409/Lines 1635-1636 ** Child reads these lines "Thus our kynge and Robyn Hode, Togeder gan they mete," the latter to rhyme with "shete."This is a sufficiently incompetent line that I rather suspect corruption in the prints.
** Stanza 412/Lines 1645-1646 ** Note that Child had two versions of thse two lines. In his original edition, he follows b and printed
'Mercy then, Robyn,' sayd our kynge,
'Vnder your trystyll-tre,
In a correction (volume V., p. 297 in the Dover edition) he amended this to follow fg:
'Mercy,' then said Robyn to our kynge,
'Vnder this trystyll-tre.'
If the reading of fg were in a, we might perhaps consider it. But a reading of fg against b has no value -- clearly the transcriber of f was bothered by this reading, presumably because it made the King show fear, and corrected it to an easier reading, in order to make it appear that Robin, not the King, is asking mercy. Child was right the first time, and Dobson/Taylor and Knight/Ohlgren both follow the text of b.
** Stanzas 412-414/Lines 1645-1656 ** It appears that the exemplar used by f was very badly damaged for stanzas 412-414; about half the text of these stanzas is rewritten, usually very badly, as is typical of f when it cannot read its exemplar. And, as usual, g follows f with some stylistic improvements. The most noteworthy change is that described in the previous note, but there are some other smaller alterations.
** Stanza 417/Line 1666 ** In the second line of the stanza, Child prints the text as "I wyll come agayne full soone," but b omits "wyll" (found in fg). Knight/Ohlgren point out that the verb "will" is not needed; we should probably omit.
** Stanza 421/Lines 1683-1684 ** The last two lines of this verse have invited many emendations. The text of b is
And euery knyght had so, ywys
Another had full sone.
Child emends "had so, ywys" to "also, i-wys,' meaning that, like the king, each of the knights soon was wearing a green garment. Knight/Ohlgren, p. 167, suggest instead replacing "Another had" in the final line with "Another hode" -- in other words, saying that the knights soon had new hoods.
Both emendations are clever, and both eliminate the problem of the redundant use of "had." Neither reading is compelling, however. Child's reading implies less change of meaning; Knight/Ohlgren's requires a smaller change in the text. But an even smaller change would be to alter the second "had" to "hat." All one can really do is pick one, or even leave the text alone, and perhaps mark a primitive error.
** Stanza 423/Line 1689 ** The text of b here is "Theyr bowes bente, and forth they went." Child emends this to "They bente theyr bowes, and forth they went," on the basis of (f)(g). Perhaps he objected to the internal rhyme, which does have the air of floating in from somewhere else. Dobson/Taylor and Knight/Ohlgren prefer the b reading, and indeed there appears to be no real reason to emend; sometimes internal rhymes just happen.
** Stanza 433/Line 1731 ** There is some textual uncertainty in this line; Child and Knight/Ohlgren both print it as "That he had spend an hondred pounde" on the basis of fg, but b omits "had." I am not convinced that the emendation of fg is correct. Mightn't Robin have incurred debts that came due that day, or some such? Possibly there is an error here, but we have no assurance that the reading of fg is the correct alternative.
** Stanza 436/Line 1742 ** Robin sees young men shooting "full fayre upon a day" according to Child; this is the reading of e (which begins with this stanza) and f (g reads "faire"); b has "ferre," i.e. probably "far." Knight/Ohlgren prefer the reading of b, reading it to mean that the archers are shooting a distant targets rather than that they are a sight worth seeing. There is no strong reason to prefer either variant; it probably comes down to our assessment of the relative values of b and e.
** Stanza 437/Line 1747 ** Editors have generally emended the third line of the verse. b says Robin was "commytted" the best archer in England, and e has comitted. fg, confused by the b reading, have one of their typical monstrosities, "commended for." Child and Knight/Ohlgren are both sure that the word should have been a Middle English form of "counted"; Child emends to "compted," Knight/Ohlgren to "comted." The latter seems more likely, although there are many other possibilities, along the lines of "command to" or "committed to be."
** Stanza 444/Line 775 ** Child's text of this line says that Robin took his leave "full courteysly." Knight/Ohlgren omits the word "full," without explanation or support in the prints.
** Stanzas 451, 454/Lines 1803, 1815 ** The place where Robin Hood was killed is somewhat uncertain. Child prints "Kyrkesly" in stana 451, "Kyrke[s]ly" in 454; bfg all read Kyrkesly in the first and Kyrkesly in the second. Knight/Ohlgren are convinced (p. 168) that Child is wrong and both should read "Kyrkely." See also the variants mentioned in the commentary on the text.
Last updated in version 2.6
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.