Robin Hood and His Crew of Souldiers
ROBIN HOOD AND HIS CREW OF SOULDIERS: NOTES
The opening stage direction refers to the Bower; this is an occasional Robin Hood place name, referring to some natural formation where the band can be imagined gathering. The name has a curiously pastoral ring in the context of rebellious outlaws.
The next direction reads Enter Hobin Hood, presumably an error for "Robin," which is read here. It continues Little John, William, Scadlocke, &. It is conceivable that other outlaws, indicated by &, are meant to be on the stage silent throughout the play, but this seems unlikely as the final song is for three voices, according to the direction 3 Voc. Another peculiarity is that the punctuation seems also to suggest that William and Scadlocke are two separate characters. This could be viewed as a punctuation error except that the title page lists, beneath Robin Hood, Commander, three names one beneath each other, all followed by a full stop: Little John. William. Scadlocke. The three names are bracketed as Souldiers. Apart from John and Robin, only the character named Will speaks, and it seems that this apparent confusion must arise from the fact that the printer did not know that William Scadlock was an outlaw's full name and treated it as two.
In this edition I have maintained the capitalization and punctuation of the 1661 edition, except where noted.
1 The printed text does not assign a speaker to the opening lines, but it is Robin Hood who speaks.
22 Gives and Fetters. Handcuffs and chains worn by prisoners. Hatchets. A light ax. Halters. A noose used in hanging.
29-30 I have deleted periods after armes and Laws and have supplied, instead, commas.
33 smooth. swooth, a compositor's error.
37 Whay-blooded. Having the nature or quality of whey: watery, thin, pale.
40 suckets. Sweetmeats or candied fruit.
43 salt Cats. Item of choice foods, dainties or delicacies.
46 bruis. Breaking.
60 Churching. A purification rite for a mother after childbirth.
116 his peoples Genious. The guiding spirit of the nation.
130 The text reads remoseless, evidently a typesetter's error.
139 these men. Robin is alluding to the story of Circe whose potion transformed Odysseus' men into swine in Homer's Odyssey.
|The Actors names|
Robin Hood, Commander.
Messenger from the Sheriff.
Printed for James Davis. 1661.
[A shout without the Bower.]*
[Enter Robin Hood, Little John, William, Scadlocke, &c.]
Whence springs this general joy?
What means this noise that makes Heavens
Arch'd vault eccho? and the neighb'ring woods
Return a dreadfull answer? With what uneven
Measures the amaz'd Birds cut through the
Trembling ayr? How the whole Forrest shakes,
As if with us 'twas sensible of wonder, and
Astonishment. [Shout again.
Still the glad noise encreases
And with it our fear and wonder; Thus when
Unruly tempests force the weak banks,
Rolling the foamy billows o're the yielding
Strand, fear and amazement, confusion and
Distracting cares seize the neighbring villages,
And thus it is with us; the guilty breast
Still pants and throbs, when others are at rest.
Look out and learn the cause, and in the meanwhile
Each man betake himself to's armes. [Exit Little John.
No danger unexpected to a mind
Prepar'd to meet the worst that it can finde.
[Enter Little John and Shierifs Messenger.]
Speak, what's the news?
Gives and Fetters, Hatchets and Halters, stincking prisons, and the death of
dogs is all we can expect.
Why, what's the matter?
Tis the Kings Coronation; and now the Shieriffe with a band of armed men,
are marching to reduce us to loyalty, and the miseries of an honest life; this
Messenger here can tell you a rufull tale of obedience, that is expected.
Peace, and let him declare his errand.
From my Master I am come to require and command your armes, and a
chearfull and ready submission to his Majesties Laws, with a promise of
future obedience; and that forthwith you joyn with us to solemnize his happy
Coronation, which is this day to be celebrated; this done, and the rest of your
lives running in a smooth stream of loyalty and honest allegiance, I here bring
pardon of all past misdemeanors; but otherwise, expect the miseries of a
sudden destruction: this told you, I wait your answer.
Did not I tell you this? he talks of submission to government, and good Laws,
as if we were the sons of peace and idleness, or had bin such Whay-blooded
fools to live thus long honestly. And hath thy Master so little braine to think
that we who know the sweets of theft and rogery, to whom dangers are as
pleasant as dried suckets, who have been nurs'd & fed fat with blood and
slaughter, can be content to bear part of your general joy, for that which
takes from us the means of our beloved mirth.
Shall I change Venison for salt Cats, and make a bounteous meal, with the
reversion of a puddings skin? Or shall I bid adieu to Pheasant and Partrige,
and such pleasing Cates, and perswade my hungry maw to satisfaction with
the bruis of an Egge-shell? Or shall it be said that thou O famous Little John
becomes the Attendant of a Tripe-woman?
The very thought of it is dangerous, I have got the gout only with the
apprehension, I was born for action, but yet I cannot plow nor thresh, except
it be mine enemy; and after all my fam'd exploits, to hang for stealing sheep
'twould grieve me. I hope our worthy Master will not credit the gingling
words of pardon, and acts of grace, and sully all his former glories with a
surviving repentance; for my part I had rather trust my self then any other
with my life.
If this geare takes then we may turn our Bows into Fiddle-sticks, or strangle
our selves in the strings, for the daies of warre and wantonness will be done.
Now must I whimper like a breecht School-boy, and make a face as soure as
an Apes when he eates Crabs; and then learn manners, and to make legs with
the patience of a setting-dog; and cry, I forsooth, and no forsooth, like a
Country wench at a Churching; Wakes and Bear-baitings, and a little Cudgel-
play must be all our comfort, and then in some smoaky corner recount our
past adventures, whilst the good wives blesse themselves at the relation.
We must not dream of Venison, but be content like the Kings liege-people with
crusts and mouldy Cheese.
Every brave soule is born a King; rule and command o're the fearfull rabble,
is natures stamp; courage and lofty thoughts are not ever confin'd to
Thrones, nor still th' appendages of an illustrious birth, but the thatcht
Hovell or the simple Wood oft times turns forth a mind as fully fraught with
Gallantry and true worth as doth the marble Pallace; bounteous nature ties
not her selfe to rules of State, or the hard Laws that cruell men impose;
shee's free in all her gifts, as the Suns generall light, which when it first
peepes o're the Eastern hills, and glads the widdow'd earth with its fresh
beams, is not straight stratcht into a Monarchs Court, and there imprisoned
to guild his private luxurie, but spreads his welcome rayes, and cheares the
poor Orphan and dejected Widdow, with the same heat it doth the Persian
Why then should the severities of obedience, and the strait niceties of Law
shackle this Noble soul, whom nature meant not onely free but soveraigne,
those ties that now by a boundless spreading force doe equally concern the
brave and base; first chiefly toucht the vulgar herd and throng of men, that
masse of feare and folly, who therefore closed together, and with an easie
fondnesse suffered themselves to be manacled by Lawes, because distrustful
of their own free strength, and since being nur'st in idlenesse and soft
intemperance, have grown inamoured of their Chaines, and caressed their
slavery, and doat upon their hateful Bondage. But the bold daring Spirit hath
in all times disown'd this sneaking lownesse, and with a commendable brav'y
challeng'd their darling Liberty; and from th'insulting Lawes rescu'd their
enslaved honour: Those famous Heroes in this gallant attempt wee've boldly
followed, and should we now sit down, and whine a vain repentance; or
tamely and coldly yield our hands and legs to fetters, and necks to the mercy
of the haltar, the world might well esteem us rash and heady Men, but never
bold or truly Valiant. No we have Swords, and Arms, and Lives equally
engaged in our past account, and whilest these Armes can wield our Swords,
or our uncurdl'd blood give vigor to those Arms, hopes of submission are as
vain as is the strange request.
Doubtless were the quality of actions the justice or injustice to be measured
by the boldnesse or fear of the undertakers, what now is your shame, would
be your greatest glory, and your Rebellion would be worthy of an honourable
memory to eternal Ages; for none have begun and manag'd such wild designs
with more unshaken confidence, but since Laws were not made as you
formerly imagine, to enslave the Generous, but Curb the Proud and Violent,
th' ambitious and unruly nature, your disobedience betrayes aboundlesse
pride, and desires unfix'd as mad-mens thoughts, and restless as the Seas
watry motion. That by the Laws which careful Princes make, we are com-
manded to do well and live vertuously, free both from giving and receiving
injuries, is not to be esteemed slav'ry but priviledge. And since we know the
power of doing wrong is seldome ununcompanyed with a will someway
answerable, it's our perfection to have that fairly chekt that so virtue and
justice, the top and complement of our natures, may have their due
regard, which is the end of Lawes. Nor can a good or just Man, one who
dares be virteous or honest (which is the truest gallantry) think it a loss of
freedom to wait and obey the commands of his Prince, especially, when with
his regality and Kingly power, are joyn'd the true embellishments of piety and
real goodnesse. A Prince of such an influential sweetnesse, that every account
teaches a vertue and the meanest Subject by his great example grows up into
an Heroe, as if his Princely Soul was grown his peoples Genious. A King so
dear to Heaven as if he was it's onely care; His birth usher'd in by a bright
Star, and each minute of his Life link'd to the former by a miracle, whose
preservation was the amazement of his Enemies: and though the prayer, yet
scarce the hope of his most hearty Subjects; One who hath suffer'd injuries
beyond example, yet of such an unparalleld charity, he pardons them beyond
hope. Whose Virtue is as great as his Birth and his Goodness unlimitted as
his Power, To whom the illustrious persons former Ages brag'd of were no
more comparable then the Nights Glimmering to the Noon-dayes Splendor.
This Great, this Gracious Prince is this day Crown'd, and offers Life, and
Peace, and Honour, if you will quit your wilde rebellions, and become what
your birth challenges of you, nay what ever your boasted gallantry expects of
you that is: loyall subjects.
Ha! whence is this sudden change? That resolution which but now was
remorseless as a Rock of Diamonds, and unyielding as the hardned Steel, is
now soft and flexible as a weak womans passions. I am quite another man;
thaw'd into conscience of my Crime & Duty; melted into loyalty & respect to
vertue. What an harsh savage beast I was before, not differing from the fiery
Lyon or the cruell Bear, but in my knowledge to doe greater ill, my strength
and eager rashness was all my boast. How all my pride now is undermin'd?
How am I dwarfd in mine own sight? remov'd from that advantage ground my
fancy set me on, and shrunk to mine own low pitch? How am I torn now
from my selfe? sure some power great and uncommon hath quite transform'd
me, and consum'd all that was bad and vicious in me. Methinks these men,
companions in former ills, look like those Grecians, th' enchanted cup
transform'd: they've shapes of beasts, rude, uncomely and very affrightfull; yet
doe I see remorse bud in their blushing brows, as if with me they felt shame
and true penitence for their fore-past Crimes. Let us all then joyne in the
present sence of our duty, accept the profer'd pardon, . . . . and with one
voice sing, With hearty Wishes, health unto our King.
Since Heaven with a liberal hand
Doth choicest blessings fling,
And hath (not only to our Land
Restor'd but) Crown'd our KING.
Let us to joy and generall mirth
This glad day set aside,
Let the Neighb'ring Woods now Eccho forth,
Our shouts and Loyal Pride.
May Halters that Mans fate attend
That envies this dayes Glee
And's name meet a perpetual brand
For his Disloyalty. [Exeunt.