Allusions to festivals
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-08-07. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2022-05-17.
This page includes literary allusions relating to festivals. The Maid Marian character, whatever her precise origins, entered the Robin Hood tradition via festival traditions. Friar Tuck may or may not have originated as a character in popular festivals, but by the end of the Middle Ages he had become connected with morris dancing and May games. It was at least partly through such pastimes and festivals that he came to be connected with Robin Hood. Allusions to Maid Marian or Friar Tuck that do not specifically refer to them as literary characters are included below.
Item, þe Erle off Oxenfford was on Saterdaye at Depe, and is purposyd in-to Skotlond wyth a xij schyppys. I mystrust þat werke.
Item, þere be in London many flyeng talys seyng þat þer shold be a werke, and yit þey wot not howe.
Item, my lorde chamberleyn sendyþ now at þys tyme to Caleys þe yonge Lorde Sowche and Syr þomas Hongreffordys dowtre and heyre, [Davis, p. 461:] and som seye þe yonge Lady Haryngton. þes be iij grett jowellys. Caleys is a mery town; þey shall dwell þere, I wot not whyghe.
No more, but I haue ben and ame troblyd wyth myn ouere large and curteys delyng wyth my seruantys and now wyth þer onkyndnesse. Plattyng, yowre man, wolde þys daye byd me fare-well to to-morow at Douer, not wythstondyng þryston, yowre oþer man, is from me and John Myryell and W. Woode, whyche promysed yow and Dawbeney, God haue hys sowle, at Castre þat iff ye wolde take hym in to be ageyn wyth me þat þan he wold neuer goo fro me; and þer-vppon I haue kepyd hym þys iij yere to pleye Seynt Jorge and Robynhod and þe shryff off Notyngham, and now when I wolde haue good horse he is goon in-to Bernysdale, and I wyth-owt a kepere.
Fan. Ye, and there is suche a wache,
That no man can scape but they hym cache.
They bare me in hande that I was a spye;
And another bade put out myne eye;
Another wolde myne eye were blerde;
Another bade shave halfe my berde;
And boyes to the pylery gan me plucke,
And wolde have made me Freer Tucke,
To preche out of the pylery hole
Without an antetyme or a stole;
And some bade, 'Sere hym with a marke.'
To gete me fro them I had moche warke.
Magn. Mary, syr, ye were afrayde.
Fan. By my trouthe, had I not payde and prayde,
And made largesse, as I hyght
I had not been here with you this nyght.
Mis. Bodye of god stande backe what monster haue we heare
an antike or a munke a goblinge or a finde
some hobbye horse I thinke or some tumblinge beare
Yf thou canst speake & declare me the kinde.
Ca. My yonge master ho ho ho
Mis. Passion of me it is robin hoode I thinke verelye
I will let flye at him if he speake not furthwith
speake lubber speake or Ile kill the presentlye
Nay then haue at the shalt near dye other death.
Ca. Gadds baddy so soone haue yow founde out your minion
Is this my mistrisse yt shall benow saynt cuccold blesse yow
this a smurkinge wenche in deede this a fare mayde marion
she is none of thes coy dames she is as good as brown bessye
Or. I be foole your harte Sirra yowr to full of your prate
her names dame Melissa my masters owne spouse
Richard Cœur de Lyon cald a king and Conqueror was,
With Phillip king of France, who did vnto Ierusalem passe:
Olde Chronicles report, his power had Archers them among,
Whose force confounded Pagans fell and layde them dead along.
In this kings time was Robyn Hood: that Archer and outlawe,
And litle Iohn his partener eke, vnto them which did drawe
One hondred tall and good Archers, on whome foure hondred men
Were their power neuer so strong could not giue onset then:
The Abbots Monkes and Earles rich, these onely did molest
And reskewd woemen when they saw of theeues them so opprest,
Restoring poore mens goods, and eke aboundantly releeued
Poore Trauellers which wanted food, or were with sicknes greeued.
And, heare because of Archery I do by penne explane
The vse, the proffet, and the praise, to England by the same,
My self remembreth of a childe in Contreye natiue mine:
A May game was of Robyn-hood and of his traine that time
To traine vp young men, stripplingsand [sic], eche other younger childe
In shooting, yearely this with solempne feast was by the Guylde,
Or Brother hood of Townsmen done, with sport, with ioy, and loue
To proffet which in present tyme, and afterward did proue.
Item for my [John Buck's] charges of horse hire & other expenses in rydinge to Nonsuche to her Maties Court wth aunswere to the Counsailers towching Robin Hoods stake defacing viiis viid
Anderson parson of Stepney, should make roome before him with his two hand staffe, as he did once before the morrice daunce, at a market towne in the edge of Buckingham or Bedford shires, where he bare the Potters part. His two supporters alwayes to leade him by the armes, must be sir Lenard Wright, and sir Tom Blan o Bedford, the one whereof also must carrie his bable, and the other a looking glasse for their Maister, to see whether his catercappe doth euery way reach ouer his eares, and so stand according to his calling. As for Mar-Martin, and Iohn Fregueuile, they alterius vicibus, shall be the groomes of his stoole [...]
[Marginal note to Anderson's name:] This chaplein robbed the poore mens box at Northampton, played the Potters part in the morriee [sic] daunce, and begotte his maide with child in Leicestershire: and these things hee did since he was firste Priest.
Now touching the Finall why; or the generall and speciall ends therof, were not these extrauagant prophesies, mostwhat inuented and published to some such great holie effect as the tales of Hobgoblin, Robin Goodfellow, Hogmagog, Queene Grogorton, king Arthur, Beuis of Southhampton, Launcelot du Lake, Sir Tristram, Thomas of Lancaster, Iohn à Gaunt, Guy of Warwike, Orlando furioso, Amadis du Gaul, Robin Hood and little Iohn, Frier Tuck and maid Marian, with a thousand such Legendaries, in all languages; viz. to busie the minds of the vulgar sort, or to set ther heads aworke withal, and to auert their conceits from the consideration of serious, and grauer matters, by feeding their humors, and delighting their fansies with such fabulous and ludicrous toyes. For was it not the grand pollicie of that age, wherein those counterfet prophesiers cheefly florished, to occupie and carry away the commons with od rumors, by flimflams, wily cranks, and sleightie knacks of the maker, euen with all possible indeuors and vnderminings, fearing least they might otherwise ouermuch or ouer deeply intend other actions, and negotiations of greater importance, priuate or publike affaires of higher value, matters of state or religion, politike or ecclesiasticall gouernment, which from time to time they kept secret and couert, as mysticall priuities, and sacred intendiments, to be meerly handled, and disposed by the cleargie, or other professed in learning; thinking therby to maintaine themselues, and vphold al their proceedings in the greater credit, authoritie, and admiration amongst the people. It was a trim worke, indeede, and a gay world no doubt, for some idle Cloister-men, mad merry Friers, and lustie Abbey-lubbers [...]
In former times, and in a simpler age, it was no difficult matter, to shift out with good plaine rude cloisterly stuffe: now lateward, sithence those frierlie skarcrowes, and moonkish dumps began to be lesse dreaded or regarded, there haue not wanted iolly fine pragmatical wares, of the maker, whereby no small intendiments, or base enterprises haue been attempted in most kingdomes and principalities thorow out Christiandome. Forsooth loosers must haue their words; and beggers will needes be somewaies bulbeggers. I cannot stand to make any curious deuision; howbeit some of them would be noted for terrible Elphes, and Goblines: som other of them can be contented to insinuate themselues like Robin goodfellow and frier Tuckes. Amongst whom (p. 74) can we better compare the former, than vnto such pedlers, tinkers, and sturdy roges, as were woont to carie about with them their fierce mastiues & terrible bandogs, to serue their knauish and villanous turnes, vpon aduantage [p. 146:] giuen? As for the rest, notwithstanding the swete and plausible honie in their mouthes, haue they not also spitefull and pestilent stings in their tailes?
Howe whorishlie Scriptures are alleaged by them [sc. the Martinists], I will discour (by Gods helpe) in another new worke which [vol. I, p. 83:] I haue in hand, and intituled it, The May-game of Martinisme. Verie defflie set out, with Pompes, Pagents, Motions, Maskes, Scutchions, Emblems, Impreases, strange trickes, and deuises, betweene the Ape and the Owle, the like was neuer yet seene in Paris-garden. Penry the welchman is the foregallant of the Morrice, with the treble belles, shot through the wit with a Woodcocks bill: I woulde not for the fayrest horne-beasts in all this Countrey, that the Church of England were a cup of Metheglin, and came in his way when he is ouer-heated; euery Bishopricke woulde prooue but a draught, when the Mazer is at his nose. Martin himselfe is the Mayd-marian, trimlie drest vppe in a cast Gowne, and a Kercher of Dame Lawsons, his face handsomlie muffled with a Diaper-napkin to couer his beard, and a great Nosegay in his hande, of the principalest flowers I could gather out of all hys works. Wiggenton daunces round about him in a Cotten-coate, to court him with a Leatherne pudding, and a wodden Ladle. Paget marshalleth the way, with a couple of great clubbes,one in his foote, another in his head, & he cryes to the people with a loude voice, Beware of the Man whom God hath markt. I can not yet find any so fitte to come lagging behind, with a budget on his necke, to gather the deuotion of the lookers on, as the stocke-keeper of the Bridewel-house of Canterburie; he must carrie the purse, to defray their charges, and then hee may be sure to serue himselfe.
MOst courteous vnlearned louer of Poetry, and yet a Poet thy selfe, of no lesse price then H. S., that in honour of Maid-marrian giues sweete Margerã for his Empresse, and puttes the Sowe most sawcily vppon some great personage, what euer she bee, bidding her (as it runnes in the old song) Go from my Garden Go, for there no flowers for thee doth grow, These be to notifie to your diminutiue excelsitude, and compendiate greatnesse, what my zeale is towardes you, that in no streighter bonds woulde bee pounded and enlisted, then in an Epistle Dedicatorie.
One becke more to the balies of the cinque portes, whome I were a ruder Barbarian then Smill the Prince of the Crims & Nagayans, if in this actiõ I should forget (hauing had good cheare at their tables more then once or twice whiles I loytred in this paragõlesse fishtown). Citty, towne, cuntry, Robin hoode and little Iohn, and who not, are industrious and carefull to squire and safe conduct him in, but in vshering him in, next to the balies of Yarmoth, they trot before all, and play the prouost [p. 187:] marshals, helping to keep good rule the first three weeks of his ingresse, and neuer leaue roaring it out with their brasen horne as long as they stay, of the freedomes and immunities soursing frõ him.
If she make curtzy like Maide Marian,
And weare her linnen neuer so well slickt:
And be the flower of all the frying pan,
And haue her bosome with a Nosegaie stickt:
And in her tyre be neuer so betrickt:
And shall be married to the Bailifes sonne:
She shal be but the wench, when all is done.
7. A reply to the last Letter, with some newes.
In the Parish of St. Asse, at the signe of the Hobbi-Horse, Maid-Marrian and the Foole fell together by the ears with the Piper: so that had not the good-man of the Pewter Candlesticke set in for the Morisdance, the May-game had been quite spoiled: but when the game had gone round, and their brains were well warmed, their legges grew so nimble, that their heeles went higher than their heads: but in all this cold sweate, while lustie-guts and his best beloued were casting Sheepes eyes at a Cods head, Hue and Cry came suddenly thorow the street The Foxes haue killed a tame Goose: at the sudden noise whereof the multitude were so scared, that all the Moris dances were diuided, and the Foole ran home to your towne [...]
8. An answer to the newes.
I will hope shortly of your amendment: in the meane time let me aduise you to take patience in your vnderstanding, to direct you in a better course: for when you waked out of your dreame, you saw no body, but the man that you thought was runne to our towne, and he was putting you on a Coat with foure Elboes: for Maid Marrian, shée, I thinke, is troubled with you in her Creame-pot: but for the Hobbie-horse, alas, he hath forgot your turne [...]
28. A Letter to a proud Mistresse.
HOw beauty will make a Foole proud, I would your plaister worke did not witnesse: but had you wit to helpe wickednesse, you would put a Parrat out of countenance: your countenance is made after your conceit, as full of merrie tricks as a Monkey: and for your foot-pace, I thinke you haue sore héeles, you walke so nicely, as vpon egge-shels: your haire is none of your owne, and for your stéeple tire, it is like the gaud of a Maid-Marion, so that had you a foole by the hand, you might walke where you would in a Moris-dance: Oh fine come to it, how it fiddles like a Hackny that would tire at halfe a mile.
43. A merry Letter of newes to a friend.
[...] Maid Marian of late was got with child in her sleepe, and the Hobby-horse was halfe mad, that the Foole should be the Father of it [...]
THere is a Patron, to expresse his name,
I thinke it needlesse, for you may coniecture,
Who tis by dumbe showes: yet Ile reade a Lecture,
Vpon's Anatomy: "He thinks no shame
To be at home, yet to deny the same,
By one of 's Pander porters: he is proud [p. 63:]
Of a new Title giuen him, yet it's stale,
Knight-hood I wish: for's speech he speaks a tale,
With a Beere-brewers Grace, as for his bloud,
He saies he can deriu't from Robin hood,
And his May-Marian, and I thinke he may,
For's Mother plaid May-Marian tother day.
If a rich country-Boore come to present him,
With Pigge or Goose, he shall no sooner come,
But the gate's open, and the Knight's at home
"But hast my Muse in colours to display,
Some auncient customes in their high roade way,
By which thy louing Countrey men doe passe,
Conferring that now is, with which once was, [p. 203:]
At least such places labour to make knowne,
As former times haue honour'd with renowne.
So by thy true relation 't may appeare
They are no others now, then as they were,
Euer esteem'd by auntient times records,
Which shall be shadow'd briefly in few words.
The first whereof that I intend to show,
Is merry Wakefield and her Pindar too;
Which Fame hath blaz'd with all that did belong,
Vnto that Towne in many gladsome song:
The Pindars valour and how firme he stood,
In th' Townes defence 'gainst th' Rebel Robin-hood,
How stoutly he behav'd himfelfe, and would,
In spite of Robin bring his horse to th' fold,
His many May games which were to be seene,
Yeerely presented vpon Wakefield greene,
Where louely Iugge and lustie Tib would go,
To see Tom-liuely turne vpon the toe;
Hob, Lob, and Crowde the fidler would be there,
And many more I will not speake of here:
Good god how glad hath been this hart of mine
To see that Towne, which hath in former time,
So florish'd and so gloried in her name,
Famous by th' Pindar who first rais'd the same?
Yea I haue paced ore that greene and ore,
And th' more I saw't, I tooke delight the more,
"For where we take contentment in a place,
"A whole daies walke, seemes as a cinquepace:
Yet as there is no solace vpon earth,
Which is attended euermore with mirth: [p. 204]
But when we are transported most with gladnesse,
Then suddenly our ioyes reduc'd to sadnesse,
So far'd with me to see the Pindar gone,
And of those iolly laddes that were, not one
Left to suruiue: I griev'd more then Ile fay,
England still hath bin a fruitfull Land
Of valiant Thieves, that durst bid true men stand.
One Bellin Dun, a famous Thiefe surviv'd,
From whom the towne of Dunstable's deriv'd;
And Robin Hood with little John agreed
To rob rich men, and the poore to feede.
Once the fift Henry could rob ex'lent well,
When he was Prince of Wales, as stories tell.
Then Fryer Tucke, a tall stout Thiefe indeed,
Could better rob and steale, then preach or read.
6. A Forrester
IS a wood-man; but by all likelihood hee shall lose that title, if hee live to another age; for there will be little or no wood left in all his forrest. Hee proves by his windfals, it is an ill winde that blowes no man profit. [...] One would take him for the living signe of Robin Hood with a forrest bill in his hand. [...p. 35:] Hee attires himselfe to the colour of the forrest to deceive his game [...p. 36:] At wakes and maygames hee keepes a brave quarter; for our wenches of the greene hold him a marvellous proper man. [...]
6. A Pedler
[... p. 138: ...] A countrey-rush-bearing, or morrice pastorall, is his festivall: if ever hee aspire to plum-porridge, that is the day. Here the Guga-girles gingle it with his neat roifles: while hee sculkes under a booth and showes his wit never till then, in admiring their follies. He ha's an obscene veine of ballatry, which makes the wenches of the greene laugh; and this purchaseth him, upon better acquaintance, a posset or a silibub. [... p. 139: ...] His judgement consists principally in the choice of his ware, and place of their vent. Saint Martins rings, and counterfeit bracelets are commodities of infinite consequence: these will passe for currant at a may-pole, and purchase a favor from ther May-Marian.
My leash of Rascalls, were mad Blades, (right Bilboes)
True tatter'd Rogues, in breech, shirts, skirts, and elboes,
They sung, and danc'd the Morris, like maide Marrian
And sweat and stunk, as sweet as sugar Carrion, [p. 7:]
I mus'd, if they were pleas'd to jeere and fob me,
Or if they meant to jest with me or Rob me:
But they to me prov'd Rebells with some reason
They had not learn'd their Grammar Rules of Treason,
They kindly brought me to a wholsome Alehouse,
Where merrily we drank like foure good fellowes,
With songs, and tales, and now and then a story
And 'ere we fell a sleep, we sung John Dorrye, [...]
The Indictment of Flora.
Flora, hold up thy hand,
Thou art here indicted by the name of Flora, of the City of Rome in the County of Babylon, for that thou, contrary to the peace of our Soveraign Lord, his Crown and Dignity, hast brought in a pack of practical Fanaticks, viz. Ignorants, Atheists, Papists, Drunkards, Swearers, Swash-bucklers, Maid-marrions, Morrice-dancers, Maskers, Mummers, May-pole-stealers, Health-drinkers, together with a rascalian rout of Fidlers, Fools, Fighters, Gamesters, Whoremasters, Lewd-men, Light-women, Contemners of Magistracy, affronters of Ministery, rebellious to Masters, disobedient to Parents, mis-spenders of time, abusers of the creature, &c.
Judge. What sayest thou, guilty, or not guilty?
Prisoner. Not guilty, My Lord.
Hath holy Pope his noble guard?
So have I too, that watch and ward:
For where 'tis noys'd that I am come,
My followers summon'd are by drum.
I have a mighty retinue,
The scum of all the rascal crew
Of Fidlers, Pedlers, Jayl-scap't-slaves,
Of Tinkers, Turn-coats, Tospot-knaves,
Of Theeves, and Scape-thrifts many a one,
With bouncing Besse, and jolly Jone,
With idle boyes, and journey-men,
And Vagrants, that their Country run:
Yea, Hobby-horse doth hither prance,
Maid-marrian, and the Morrice-dance.
My summons fetcheth far and near
All that can swagger, roar and swear,
All that can dance, and drab, and drink,
They turn to me as to a sink:
These, mee for their Commander take,
And I do them my black-guard make.
The king attended divine service at the chapel, where Dr. Morton preached, commanding and exhorting to an obedience well pleasing to their maker; inasmuch as it was rendered to the vice-regent of heaven, the high and mighty and puissant James, Defender of the Faith, and so forth. After this comfortable and gracious doctrine, there was a rush-bearing* and a piping before the king in the [p. 109:] great quadrangle. Robin Hood and Maid Marian, with the fool and hobby-horse were, doubtless, enacted to the jingling of morris-dancers and other profanities.
*This ceremony was formerly used for the conveyance of rushes intended to be strewed in the church upon the clay floors between the benches. It is now generally known but as an unmeaning pageant only practised in the northern and eastern parts of Lancashire, for the purpose of levying contributions on the inhabitants. An immense banner, of silk adorned with tinsel and gay deuces, precedes the rush-cart, wherein the rushes, neatly woven and smooth cut, are piled up and decorated with flowers and ribbands, in rustic taste. The cart, thus [p. 109 n. contd.:] laden, is drawn round to the dwellings of the principal Inhabitants, by morris-dancers, who perform an uncouth dance, attended by a man in motley attire, a sort of nondescript, made up of the ancient fool and maid Marian. This personage jingles a horse-collar hung with bells, which forms not an unsuitable accompaniment to the ceremony.
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