A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 8 online

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Into the hands of that relentless Prior,
Call'd Gilbert Hood, uncle to Huntington.
Those two, that seek to part these lovely friends,
Are Elinor the queen and John the prince:
She loves Earl Robert, he Maid Marian;
But vainly, for their dear affect is such,
As only death can sunder their true loves.
Long had they lov'd, and now it is agreed,
This day they must be troth-plight, after wed.
At Huntington's fair house a feast is held;
But envy turns it to a house of tears;
For those false guests, conspiring with the Prior,
To whom Earl Robert greatly is in debt,
Mean at the banquet to betray the earl
Unto a heavy writ of outlawry.
The manner and escape you all shall see.

ELT. Which all, good Skelton?

SKEL. Why, all these lookers on;
Whom if we please, the king will sure be pleas'd.
Look to your entrance; get you in, Sir John. [_Exit_ SIR JOHN.
My shift is long, for I play Friar Tuck;
Wherein, if Skelton have but any luck,
He'll thank his hearers oft with many a duck.
For many talk of Robin Hood, that never shot in his bow,
But Skelton writes of Robin Hood what he doth truly know.[161]

Therefore I pray ye,
Contentedly stay ye,
And take no offending,
But sit to the ending,
Likewise I desire
Ye would not admire
My rhyme, so I shift;
For this is my drift,
So mought I well thrive
To make ye all blithe:
But if ye once frown,
Poor Skelton goes down;
His labour and cost,
He thinketh all lost
In tumbling of books
Of marry-go-looks.
The Sheriff with staves,
With catchpoles and knaves,
Are coming, I see:
High time 'tis for me,
To leave off my babble
And fond ribble-rabble.
Therefore with this court'sy
Awhile I will leave ye.[162]


_Enter, as it were in haste, the_ PRIOR OF YORK, _the_
SHERIFF, _Justice_ WARMAN, _Steward to_ ROBIN HOOD.

PRIOR. Here, Master Warman, there's a hundred crowns
For your good-will and futherance in this.

WAR. I thank you, my Lord Prior. I must away,
To shun suspicion; but be resolute,
And we will take him, have no doubt of it.

PRIOR. But is Lord Sentloe and the other come?

WAR. Lord Sentloe, Sir Hugh Lacy, and Sir Gilbert Broughton
Are there, and as they promis'd you last night,
Will help to take him, when the Sheriff comes.
[_Exit_ WARMAN.

PRIOR. Awhile, farewell, and thanks to them and you.
Come, Master Sheriff, the outlawry is proclaim'd,
Send therefore quickly for more company,
And at the back-gate we will enter in.

SHER. We shall have much ado, I am afraid.

PRIOR. No, they are very merry at a feast;
A feast where Marian, daughter to Lord Lacy,
Is troth-plighted to wasteful Huntington;
And at the feast are my especial friends,
Whom he suspects not. Come, we'll have him, man,
And for your pains here is a hundred marks.

SHER. I thank your lordship: we'll be diligent.



_Enter_ ROBIN HOOD, LITTLE JOHN _following him;
the one Earl of Huntington, the other his servant_,
ROBIN _having his napkin on his shoulder, as if he
were suddenly raised from dinner_.

ROB. H. As I am outlaw'd from my fame and state,
Be this day outlawed from the name of days.
Day luckless, outlaw luckless, both accurs'd!
[_Flings away his napkin and hat, and sitteth down_.

LIT. JOHN. Do not forget your honourable state,
Nor the true noblesse of your worthy house.

ROB. H. Do not persuade me; vain as vanity
Are all thy comforts: I am comfortless.

LIT. JOHN. Hear me, my lord.

ROB. H. What shall I hear thee say?
Already hast thou said too much to hear:
Already hast thou stabb'd me with thy tongue,
And the wide wound with words will not be clos'd.
Am I not outlaw'd by the Prior of York?
Proclaim'd in court, in city, and in town
A lawless person? this thy tongue reports,
And therefore seek not to make smooth my grief;
For the rough storm thy windy words have rais'd,
Will not be calm'd, till I in grave be laid.

LIT. JOHN. Have patience yet.

ROB. H. Yea, now indeed thou speakest.
Patience hath power to bear a greater cross
Than honour's spoil or any earthly loss.

LIT. JOHN. Do so, my lord.

ROB. H. Ay, now I would begin:
But see, another scene of grief comes in.

_Enter_ MARIAN.[163]

MAR. Why is my lord so sad? wherefore so soon,
So suddenly, arose ye from the board?
Alas, my Robin! what distempering grief
Drinks up the roseate colour of thy cheeks?
Why art thou silent? answer me, my love.

ROB. H. Let him, let him, let him make thee as sad.
He hath a tongue can banish thee from joy,
And chase thy crimson colour from thy cheeks.
Why speak'st thou not? I pray thee, Little John,
Let the short story of my long distress
Be utter'd in a word. What, mean'st thou to protract?
Wilt thou not speak? then, Marian, list to me.
This day thou wert a maid, and now a spouse,
Anon, poor soul, a widow thou must be!
Thy Robin is an outlaw, Marian;
His goods and land must be extended on,
Himself exil'd from thee, thou kept from him
By the long distance of unnumbered miles.
[_She sinks in his arms_.
Faint'st thou at this? speak to me, Marian:
My old love, newly met, part not so soon;
We have a little time to tarry yet.

MAR. If but a little time, let me not stay
Part we to-day, then will I die to-day!

LIT. JOHN. For shame, my lord! with courage of a man
Bridle this over-grieving passion,
Or else dissemble it to comfort her.

ROB. H. I like thy counsel. Marian, clear these clouds,
And with the sunny beams of thy bright eyes
Drink up these mists of sorrow that arise.

MAR. How can I joy, when thou art banished?

ROB. H. I tell thee, love, my grief is counterfeit;
And I abruptly from the table rose,
The banquet being almost at an end,
Only to drive confused and sad thoughts
[Out of][164] the minds of the invited guests.
For, gentle love, at great or nuptial feasts,
With comic sports or tragic stately plays
We use to recreate the feasted guests,
Which I am sure our kinsfolk do expect.

MAR. Of this, what then? this seems of no effect.

ROB. H. Why, thus of this: as Little John can tell,
I had bespoken quaint comedians;
But great John, John the prince, my liege's brother -
My rival, Marian, he that cross'd our love -
Hath cross'd me in this jest,[165] and at the court
Employs the players should have made us sport.
This was the tidings brought by Little John,
That first disturbed me, and begot this thought
Of sudden rising, which by this, I know,
Hath with amazement troubled all our guests.
Go in, good love: thou as the chorus shalt
Express the meaning of my silent grief,
Which is no more but this: I only mean
(The more to honour our right noble friends)
Myself in person to present some scenes
Of tragic matter, or perchance of mirth,
Even such as first shall jump with my conceit.

MAR. May I be bold thou hast the worst expressed?

LIT. JOHN. Fair mistress, all is true my lord hath said.

ROB. H. It is, it is.

MAR. Speak not so hollow then:
So sigh and sadly speak true-sorrowing men.

ROB. H. Believe me, love, believe me (I beseech),
My first scene tragic is, therefore tragic speech
And accents filling woful action,
I strive to get. I pray thee, sweet,
Go in, and with thy sight appease
The many doubts that may arise. That done,
Be thou their usher, bring them to this place,
And thou shalt see me with a lofty verse
Bewitch the hearers' ears, and tempt their eyes
To gaze upon the action that I use.

MAR. If it be but a play, I'll play my part:
But sure some earnest grief affrights thy[166] heart.

LIT. JOHN. Let me entreat ye, madam, not to fear,
For, by the honesty of Little John,
It's but a tragic scene we have in hand,
Only to fit the humour of the queen,
Who is the chiefest at your troth-plight feast.

MAR. Then will I fetch her highness and the rest.

ROB. H. Ay, that same jealous queen, whose doting age
Envies the choice of my fair Marian,
She hath a hand in this.

LIT. JOHN. Well, what of that?
Now must your honour leave these mourning tunes,
And thus by my areed you shall provide.
Your plate and jewels I will straight pack up,
And toward Nottingham convey them hence.
At Rowford, Sowtham, Wortley, Hothersfield,
Of all your cattle money shall be made;
And I at Mansfield will attend your coming,
Where we'll determine which way's best to take.

ROB. H. Well, be it so; a' God's name, let it be;
And, if I can, Marian shall come with me.

LIT. JOHN. Else care will kill her. Therefore, if you please,
At th'utmost corner of the garden wall,
Soon in the evening wait for Marian;
And as I go I'll tell her of the plan.[167]
Your horses at the Bell shall ready be,
I mean Belsavage;[168] whence as citizens,
That mean[169] to ride for pleasure some small way,
You shall set forth.

ROB. H. Be it as thou dost say.
Farewell awhile:
In spite of grief, thy love compels me smile,
But now our audience comes, we must look sad.[170]

WARMAN, _Robin's steward. As they meet_, LITTLE JOHN
_whispers with_ MARIAN, _and exit_.

QU. ELIN. How now, my Lord of Huntington?
The mistress of your love, fair Marian,
Tells us your sudden rising from the banquet
Was but a humour which you mean to purge
In some high tragic lines or comic jests.

ROB. H. Sit down, fair queen (the prologue's part is play'd;
Marian hath told ye, what I bad her tell):
Sit down, Lord Sentloe, cousin Lacy, sit:
Sir Gilbert Broughton, yea, and Warman, sit:
Though you my steward be, yet for your gathering wit
I give you place: sit down, sit down, I say:
God's pity! sit: it must, it must be so,
For you will sit when I shall stand, I know. [_Sits them all down_.
And, Marian, you may sit among the rest,
I pray ye do, or else rise, stand apart:
These helps shall be beholders of my smart -
You that with ruthless eyes my sorrows see,
And came prepar'd to feast at my sad fall,
Whose envy, greediness, and jealousy
Afford me sorrow endless, comfort small,
Know what you knew before, what you ordain'd
To cross the spousal banquet of my love,
That I am outlaw'd by the Prior of York,
My traitorous uncle and your toothless friend.
Smile you, Queen Elinor? laugh'st thou, Lord Sentloe?
Lacy, look'st thou so blithe at my lament?
Broughton, a smooth brow graceth your stern face;
And you are merry, Warman, at my moan.
The Queen except, I do you all defy!
You are a sort[171] of fawning sycophants,
That, while the sunshine of my greatness 'dur'd,
Revelled out all my day for your delights;
And now ye see the black night of my woe
O'ershade the beauty of my smiling good,
You to my grief add grief; and are agreed
With that false Prior to reprieve my joys
From execution of all happiness.

WAR. Your honour thinks not ill of me, I hope.

ROB. H. Judas speaks first, with "Master, is it I?"
No, my false steward; your accounts are true;
You have dishonour'd me, I worshipp'd[172] you.
You from a paltry pen-and-inkhorn clerk,
Bearing a buckram-satchel at your belt,
Unto a justice' place I did prefer;
Where you unjustly have my tenants rack'd,
Wasted my treasure, and increas'd your store.
Your sire contented with a cottage poor,
Your mastership hath halls and mansions built;
Yet are you innocent, as clear from guilt
As is the ravenous mastiff that hath spilt
The blood of a whole flock, yet slyly comes
And couches in his kennel with smear'd chaps.
Out of my house! for yet my house it is,
And follow him, ye catchpole-bribed grooms;
For neither are ye lords nor gentlemen,
That will be hired to wrong a nobleman:
For hired ye were last night, I know it, I,
To be my guests, my faithless guests this day,
That your kind host you trothless might betray.
But hence, and help the Sheriff at the door,
Your worst attempt. Fell traitors, as you be,
Avoid, or I will execute ye all
Ere any execution come at me! [_They run away_.
They run[173] away, so ends the tragedy.
(_Aside_) Marian, by Little John, my mind you know:
If you will, do; if not, why be it so.
[_Offers to go in_.

QU. ELIN. No words to me, Earl Robert, ere you go?

ROB. H. O, to your highness? yes; adieu, proud queen;
Had not you been, thus poor I had not been.

QU. ELIN. Thou wrong'st me, Robert Earl of Huntington,
And were it not for pity of this maid,
I would revenge the words that thou hast said.

MAR. Add not, fair queen, distress unto distress,
But, if you can, for pity make his less.

QU. ELIN. I can and will forget deserving hate,
And give him comfort in this woful state.
Marian, I know Earl Robert's whole desire
Is to have thee with him from hence away;
And though I lov'd him dearly to this day,
Yet since I see he deadlier loveth thee,
Thou shalt have all the furtherance I may.
Tell me, fair girl, and see thou truly tell,
Whether this night, to-morrow, or next day,
There be no 'pointment for to meet thy love?

MAR. There is, this night there is, I will not lie;
And, be it disappointed, I shall die.

QU. ELIN. Alas, poor soul! my son, Prince John, my son,
With several troops hath circuited the court,
This house, the city, that thou canst not 'scape.

MAR. I will away with Death, though he be grim,
If they deny me to go hence with him.

QU. ELIN. Marian,
Thou shalt go with him clad in my attire,
And for a shift I'll put thy garments on.
It is not me my son John doth desire,
But, Marian, it is thee he doteth on.
When thou and I are come into the field,
Or any other place, where Robin stays,
Me in thy clothes the ambush will beset;
Thee in my robes they dare not once approach:
So, while with me a-reasoning they stay,
At pleasure thou with him may'st ride away.

MAR. I am beholding to your majesty,
And of this plot will send my Robin word.

QU. ELIN. Nay, never trouble him, lest it breed suspect:
But get thee in, and shift off thy attire:
My robe is loose, and it will soon be off.
Go, gentle Marian, I will follow thee,
And from betrayers' hands will set thee free.

MAR. I thank your highness, but I will not trust ye:
My Robert shall have knowledge of this shift,
For I conceive already your deep drift.
[_Aside. Exit_.

QU. ELIN. Now shall I have my will of Huntington
Who, taking me this night for Marian,
Will hurry me away instead of her;
For he dares not stand trifling to confer.
Faith, pretty Marian, I shall meet with you,[174]
And with your lovely sweetheart Robert too:
For when we come unto a baiting-place,
If with like love my love he do not grace,
Of treason capital I will accuse him,
For trait'rous forcing me out of the court,
And guerdon his disdain with guilty death,
That of a prince's love so lightly weighs.



_Enter_ LITTLE JOHN _fighting with the_ SHERIFF _and
his men_; WARMAN _persuading him_.

LIT. JOHN. Warman, stand off!
Tit-tattle, tell not me what ye can do:
The goods, I say, are mine, and I say true.

WAR. I say the Sheriff must see them, ere they go.

LIT. JOHN. You say so, Warman: Little John says no.

SHER. I say I must, for I am the king's shrieve.

LIT. JOHN. Your must is false; your office I believe.

WATCH. Down with him! down with him!

LIT. JOHN. Ye bark at me like curs, but I will down
With twenty "Stand, and who goes there?"[175] of you,
If ye stand long tempting my patience.
Why, Master Sheriff, think you me a fool?
What justice is there you should search my trunks,
Or stay my goods for that my master owes?

SHER. Here's Justice Warman, steward to your lord,
Suspects some coin, some jewels, or some plate
That 'longs unto your lord, are in your trunks,
And the extent is out for all his goods;
Therefore we ought to see none be convey'd.

WAR. True, Little John; I am the sorrier.

LIT. JOHN. A plague upon ye else, how sore ye weep!
Why, say, thou upstart, that there were some help,
Some little, little help in this distress,
To aid our lord and master comfortless,
Is it thy part, thou screen-fac'd snotty-nose,
To hinder him that gave thee all thou hast?

_Enter_ JUSTICE WARMAN'S [_French_] WIFE _oddly attired_.

WIFE. Who's that, husband? you, you! means he you?

WAR. I, by'r Lady is it, I thank him.

WIFE. Ah, ye knave you! God's pity, husband, why dis no your worship
send the kneve to Newgate?

LIT. JOHN. Well, Master Sheriff, shall I pass or no?

SHER. Not without search.

LIT. JOHN. Then here the casket stands:
Any that dares unto it set their hands,
Let him begin.

WIFE. Do, hisband;
You are a majesty: I warrant
There's old knacks, chains, and other toys.

LIT. JOHN. But not for you, good madam beetle-brows.

WIFE. Out upon him! By my truly, Master Justice, and ye do not clap him
up, I will sue a bill of remorse, and never come between a pair of
sheets with ye. Such a kneve as this! down with him, I pray.

[_Set upon him: he knocks some down_.

WIFE. Ah, good Lord! come not near, good husband; only charge him,
charge him! Ah, good God! help, help!

_Enter_ PRINCE JOHN, _the_ BISHOP OF ELY, _the_
PRIOR OF YORK, _with others. All stay_.

JOHN. What tumult have we here? who doth resist
The king's writs with such obstinate contempt?

WIFE. This kneve.

WAR. This rebel.

JOHN. How now, Little John,
Have you no more discretion than you show?

ELY. Lay hold, and clap the traitor by the heels.

LIT. JOHN. I am no traitor, my good Lord of Ely
First hear me, then commit me, if you please.

JOHN. Speak, and be brief.

LIT. JOHN. Here is a little box,
Containing all my gettings twenty year,
Which is mine own, and no man's but mine own:
This they would rifle, this I do defend,
And about this we only do contend.

JOHN. You do the fellow wrong: his goods are his.
You only must extend upon the Earl's.

PRIOR. That was, my lord, but now is Robert Hood;
A simple yeoman, as his servants were.

WIFE. Back with that leg, my Lord Prior: there be some that were his
servants think foul scorn to be called yeomen.

PRIOR. I cry your worship mercy, Mistress Warman:
The squire, your husband, was his servant once.

LIT. JOHN. A scurvy squire, with reverence of these lords.

WIFE. Does he not speak treason, pray?

ELY. Sirrah, ye are too saucy: get you hence.

WAR. But hear me first, my lords, with patience.
This scoffing, careless fellow, Little John,
Hath loaden hence a horse 'twixt him and Much,
A silly, rude knave - Much, the miller's son.

_Enter_ MUCH, _Clown_.

MUCH. I am here to answer for myself, and have taken you in two lies at
once: first, Much is no knave, neither was it a horse Little John and I
loaded, but a little curtal of some five handfuls high, sib to the ape's
only beast at Paris Garden.[176]

LIT. JOHN. But, Master Warman, you have loaded carts,
And turned my lord's goods to your proper use.
Whoever hath the right, you do the wrong,
And are -

WIFE. What is he, kneve?

LIT. JOHN. Unworthy to be nam'd a man.

MUCH. And I'll be sworn for his wife.

WIFE. Ay, so thou mayest, Much.

MUCH. That she sets new marks of all my old lady's linen (God rest her
soul!), and my young lord never had them since.

WIFE. Out, out! I took him them but for to whiten, as God mend me.

ELY. Leave off this idle talk; get ye both hence.

LIT. JOHN. I thank your honours: we are not in love
With being here.
We must seek service that are masterless.

[_Exeunt_ MUCH _and_ LITTLE JOHN.

ELY. Lord Prior of York, here's your commission.
You are best make speed, lest in his country houses,
By his appointment, all his herds be sold.

PRIOR. I thank your honour, taking humble leave.

ELY. And, Master Warman, here's your patent sealed
For the High Sheriffwick of Nottingham;
Except the king our master do repeal
This gift of ours.

JOHN. Let him the while possess it.

ELY. A God's name, let him; he hath my good will.

JOHN. Well, Warman, this proud priest I cannot brook.
But to our other matter: send thy wife away.

WAR. Go in, good wife; the prince with me hath private conference.

WIFE. By my troth, ye will anger me: now ye have the pattern, ye should
call me nothing but Mistress Sheriff; for I tell you I stand upon my
replications. [_Exit_.

JOHN. Thinkest thou that Marian means
To 'scape this evening hence with Robin Hood?
The horse-boy told me so; and here he comes,
Disguised like a citizen, methinks.
Warman, let's in; I'll fit him presently:
Only for Marian am I now his enemy.


_Enter_ ROBIN, _like a citizen_.

ROB. H. Earl John[177] and Warman, two good friends of mine:
I think they knew me not, or if they did
I care not what can follow. I am sure
The sharpest end is death, and that will come.
But what of death or sorrow do I dream?
My Marian, my fair life, my beauteous love
Is coming, to give comfort to my grief,
And the sly queen, intending to deceive,
Hath taught us how we should her sleights receive.[178]
But who is this? God's pity! here's Prince John.

JOHN. Good even, sir. This clear evening should portend
Some frost, I think: how judge you, honest friend?

ROB. H. I am not weather-wise; but it may be
We shall have hard frost; for true charity,
Good dealing, faithful friendship, honesty,
Are chill-cold, dead with cold.

JOHN. O good sir, stay,
That frost hath lasted many a bitter day.
Know ye no frozen hearts that are belov'd?

ROB. H. Love is a flame, a fire, that being moved,
Still brighter grows. But say, are you beloved?

JOHN. I would be, if I be not: but pass that.
Are ye a dweller in this city, pray?

ROB. H. I am; and for a gentlewoman stay,
That rides some four or five mile in great haste.

_Enter_ QUEEN _and_ MARIAN.[179]

JOHN. I see your labour, sir, is not in waste,
For here come two; are either of these yours?

ROB. H. Both are - one most.[180]

JOHN. Which do you most respect?

ROB. H. The youngest and the fairest I reject.

JOHN. Robin, I'll try you, whether ye say true. [_Aside_.

ROB. H. As you with me, so, John, I'll jest with you. [_Aside_.

QU. ELIN. Marian, let me go first to Robin Hood,
And I will tell him what we do intend.

MAR. Do what your highness please; your will is mine.

JOHN. My mother is with gentle Marian:
O, it doth grieve her to be left behind.

QU. ELIN. Shall we away, my Robin, lest the queen
Betray our purpose? sweet, let us away:
I have great will to go, no heart to stay.

ROB. H. Away with thee? No; get thee far away
From me, foul Marian, fair though thou be nam'd;
For thy bewitching eyes have raised storms,
That have my name and noblesse ever sham'd;
Prince John, my dear friend once, is now for thee
Become an unrelenting enemy.

JOHN. But I'll relent and love thee, if thou leave her.

ROB. H. And Elinor my sovereign, mother-queen,[181]
That yet retains true passion in her breast,
Stands mourning yonder. Hence! I thee detest.
I will submit me to her majesty.
Great princess, if you will but ride with me
A little of my way, I will express
My folly past, and humble pardon beg.

MAR. I grant, Earl Robert, and I thank thee too.

QU. ELIN. She's not the queen; sweet Robin, it is I.

ROB. H. Hence, sorceress! thy beauty I defy.
If thou have any love at all to me,
Bestow it on Prince John; he loveth thee.

[_Exeunt_ ROBIN, MARIAN.

JOHN. And I will love thee, Robin, for this deed,
And help thee, too, in thy distressful need.

QU. ELIN. Wilt thou not stay nor speak, proud Huntington?
Ay me! some whirlwind hurries them away.

JOHN. Follow him not, fair love, that from thee flies,
But fly to him that gladly follows thee.
Wilt thou not, girl? turn'st thou away from me?

QU. ELIN. Nay, we shall have it then,
If my quaint son his mother 'gin to court. [_Aside_.

JOHN. Wilt thou not speak, fair Marian, to Prince John,
That loves thee well?

QU. ELIN. Good sir, I know you do.

JOHN. That can maintain thee.

QU. ELIN. Ay, I know you can,
But hitherto I have maintained you.

JOHN. My princely mother!

QU. ELIN. Ay, my princely son.

JOHN. Is Marian then gone hence with Huntington?

QU. ELIN. Ay, she is gone; ill may they either thrive.

JOHN. Mother, they [needs] must go, whom the devil drives;
For your sharp fury and infernal rage,

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