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THE MERRY PRANKS OF ROBIN GOODFELLOW,

TO THE TUNE OF DULCINEA.

From Oberon, in fairye land, The king of ghosts and shadowes there, Mad Robin I, at his command, Am sent to viewe the night-sports here. What ravell rout is kept about, In every corner where I go, I will o'ersee, and merry bee, And make good sport, with ho, ho, ho! More swift than lightening can I flye About this aery welkin soone, And, in a minute's space, descrye Each thing that's done belowe the moone: There's not a hag or ghost shall wag, Or cry, 'ware goblins! where I go; But Robin I their feates will spy, And send them home, with ho, ho, ho! Whene'er such wanderers I meete, As from their night-sports they trudge home; With counterfeiting voice I greete, And call them on, with me to roame Thro’ woods, thro' lakes, thro' bogs, thro' brakes ; Or else, unseen, with them I go, All in the nicke to play some tricke And frolicke it, with ho, ho, ho! Sometimes I meete them like a man; Sometimes, an ox, sometimes, a hound; And to a horse I turn me can; To trip and trot about them round. But if, to ride, my backe they stride, More swift than wind away I go; 1 This title is given by Bishop Percy from an old black-letter copy in the British Museum.

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O’er hedge and lands, thro' pools and ponds,
I whirry, laughing, ho, ho, ho!
When lads and lasses merry be,
With possets and with juncates fine;
Unseene of all the company,
I eat their cakes and sip their wine;
And, to make sport, I fart and snort,
And out the candles I do blow :
The maids I kiss; they shrieke, — Who's this?
I answer nought, but ho, ho, ho!
Yet now and then, the maids to please,
At midnight I card up their wooll;
And while they sleepe and take their ease,
With wheel to threads their flax I pull:
I grind at mill their malt up still;
I dress their hemp, I spin their tow :
If any wake, and would'me take,
I wend me, laughing, ho, ho, ho!
When house or harth doth sluttish lye,
I pinch the maidens black and blue;
The bed-clothes from the bed pull I,
And lay them naked all to view :
'Twixt sleepe and wake, I do them take,
And on the key-cold floor them throw:
If out they cry, then forth I fly,
And loudly laugh out, ho, ho, ho!
When any need to borrowe ought,
We lend them what they do require;
And for the use demand we nought:
Our owne is all we do desire.
If, to repay, they do delay,
Abroad amongst them then I go,
And night by night I them affright
With pinchings, dreames, and ho, ho, ho!
When lazie queans have nought to do,
But study how to, cog and lye;
To make debate and mischief too,
"Twixt one another secretlye;

I marke their gloze, and it disclose
To them whom they have wronged so;
When I have done, I get me gone,
And leave them scolding, ho, ho, ho!
When men do traps and engins set
In loope-holes, where the vermine creepe,
Who, from their foldes and houses, get
Their duckes and geese, and lambes and sheepe;
I spy the gin, and enter in,
And seeme a vermine taken so;
But when they there approach me neare,
I leap out laughing, ho, ho, ho!
By wells and rills, in meadowes greene,
We nightly dance our hey-dey guise;
And to our fairye king and queene
We chant our moonlight minstrelsies :
When larks 'gin sing, away we fling;
And babes new-borne steal as we go,
And elfe in bed we leave instead,
And wend us laughing, ho, ho, ho!
From hay-bred Merlin's time have I
Thus nightly revell’d to and fro;
And for my pranks men call me by
The name of Robin Goodfellów.
Fiends, ghosts, and sprites, who haunt the nightes,
The hags and goblins, do me know;
And beldames old my feates have told;

So, Vale, Vale ! ho, ho, ho!? % This ballad has been generally attributed to Ben Jonson ; and Mr. Collier has a version in a manuscript of the time, with the initials B. J. at the end. This copy, he says, varies somewbat from that given above, and has an additional stanza, which we subjoin :

6 When as my fellow elfes and I

In circled ring do trip around,
If that our sports by any eye
Do happen to be seene or found;
If that they no words do say,
But mum continue as they go,
Each night I do put groat in shoe,
And wind out laughing, ho, ho, ho !"

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Moth. A wonder, master! here's a Costard broken in a shin.

ct iii. Sc. 1.

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