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Erlinton

Ballad
Child 8
Title Erlinton
Versions 3
Variants 4
Stanzas 31
Date c. 1847
A.k.a. Robin Hood and the Tanner's Daughter

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2014-09-02. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-07-17.

The ballad entitled Erlinton in Child exists in three versions, one of which features Robin Hood. This, the C version, is called Robin Hood and the Tanner's Daughter. Child reprints it from the edition in "Gutch's Robin Hood, [which was printed] from a manuscript of Mr Payne Collier, supposed to have been written about 1650".[1] As John Payne Collier had been exposed as a literary forger already around the mid-19th century,[2] Child's decision to include the ballad in his collection without noting in his introduction to it the possibility that it might be a forgery is hard to explain. It is difficult to imagine that he could have remained unaware of Collier's forgeries a generation after they were discovered. It had been a major scandal that was by no means forgotten by the 1880s. However, Child did eventually note in his additions and corrections to the ballad, published seven years later, in 1889, that the ballad was "found in a manuscript pretended to be of about 1650, but [...] written in a forged hand of this [i.e. the 19th] century. I do not feel certain that the ballads [in this MS] themselves, bad as they are, are forgeries".[3]

I believe Child should have admitted, once he had inspected the MS and accepted the fact that it was a forgery, that the ballads in it were also the result of Collier's misguided creativity. The following facts and considerations strengthen this conclusion:

  1. The MS turned up before J.M. Gutch's collection of Robin Hood ballads was published in 1847, i.e. during the period when Collier is known to have been active as a forger.[4]
  2. This Robin Hood-themed variant of Erlinton was – and to my knowledge still is – unknown from other sources prior to the appearance of this MS.
  3. Gutch evidently could offer no provenience for the MS.
  4. The ballad is as flat and uninspired as Collier's other literary concoctions. There is of course an element of subjectivity in such a judgement, but we just saw that Child agreed, and I have never seen Robin Hood and the Tanner's Daughter praised.
  5. Least effort is a fundamental principle in many areas of human activity, and there is no reason to think forgers do not follow it. The ballad already existed in two non-Robin Hood versions, and adaptation requires less creativity than composing a new work. The chief novelty was the Robin Hood theme, which was of course required for Collier's production to insinuate itself into Gutch's collection.


Bibliographical data for editions of all three versions of the ballad is included below, but since only the C version has anything to do with Robin Hood, sources and analogues etc. specific to the A and/or B version will be ignored.

Plot

Robin Hood meets a fair damsel, a tanner's daughter; they become lovers (straightaway), but soon the girl's two brothers come riding to fetch her home. A sword fight ensues in which Robin kills the elder brother but spares the younger at the girl's entreaty. The two then elope to the forest.

Editions

Version A

Child's source for the A version of Erlinton, printed in the first volume of The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882), is the text found in the second edition of Walter Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1803; see "Scholarly and literary editions of B" below). By 1892, Child, or more likely a collaborator, had located among Scott's papers the two variants in MSS "from which (with some editorial garnish and filling out)" Scott's text was constructed. Child then printed the two texts among his Additions and Corrections, designating these variants a and b. Together they supersede the text printed as B.[5]

Variant Aa

Primary editions of Aa
Scholarly and literary editions of Aa

Variant Ab

Primary editions of Ab
Scholarly and literary editions of Ab

Scholarly and literary editions of A

Version B

Child has two implicit variants of version B, here designated [a] and [b].

Variant B[a]

Primary editions of B[a]
Scholarly and literary editions of B[a]

Variant B[b]

Primary editions of B[b]
Scholarly and literary editions of B[b]

Scholarly and literary editions of B

Version C

Primary editions of C

Scholarly and literary editions of C

Scholarly and literary collections (A-C)

Sources and analogues

Stanzas Matter Title Analogue
All General similarity of plot Earl Brand (C7)[8] Child notes that their plots are so similar that Erlinton (C8) and Earl Brand (C7) have "only with much hesitation been separated". In both, a man induces a young woman to go off with him and "is set upon by a party of fifteen in A, B, as in 7 A; and he spares the life of one of his assailants [an old man, A, B, the younger brother, C]."[9]
All General similarity of plot Ribold og Guldborg (DgF 82);[10] Hildebrand og Hilde (DgF 83);[11] Den Farlige Jomfru (DgF 184 G, sts. 15-30)[12] Child notes "agreement as to details with Scandinavian Ribold ballads".[13]

Background

Notes

  1. Child, Francis James, ed.; [Kittredge, G.L., ed.]; [Ireland, Catharine Innes, bibl.] The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Boston and New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, [1882-1898]), vol. I, p. 106.
  2. Collier's sad career is sufficiently well known to require only a reference to: Wikipedia: John Payne Collier.
  3. Child, Francis James, ed.; [Kittredge, G.L., ed.]; [Ireland, Catharine Innes, bibl.] The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Boston and New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, [1882-1898]), vol. III, p. 499, and see vol. I, pp. 106, 107, 109-10, 111. The ballad is found in pt. 1, published, 1882, the additions and corrections in pt. 6 (the second part of vol. III), published 1889.
  4. Wikipedia: John Payne Collier.
  5. Child, Francis James, ed.; [Kittredge, G.L., ed.]; [Ireland, Catharine Innes, bibl.] The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Boston and New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, [1882-1898]), vol. IV, p. 445.
  6. Child, Francis James, ed.; [Kittredge, G.L., ed.]; [Ireland, Catharine Innes, bibl.] The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Boston and New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, [1882-1898]), vol. I, p. 106.
  7. Child, Francis James, ed.; [Kittredge, G.L., ed.]; [Ireland, Catharine Innes, bibl.] The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Boston and New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, [1882-1898]), vol. I, pp. 110-11.
  8. Child, Francis James, ed.; [Kittredge, G.L., ed.]; [Ireland, Catharine Innes, bibl.] The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Boston and New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, [1882-1898]), vol. I, pp. 88-105.
  9. Child, Francis James, ed.; [Kittredge, G.L., ed.]; [Ireland, Catharine Innes, bibl.] The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Boston and New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, [1882-1898]), vol. I, p. 106. Brackets and bold type as in Child.
  10. Grundtvig, Svend, et al, eds. Danmarks gamle Folkeviser (Copenhagen, 1853-1976), vol. II, pp. 338-89, 674-80; vol. III, pp. 848-56; vol. IV, pp. 494-508.
  11. Grundtvig, Svend, et al, eds. Danmarks gamle Folkeviser (Copenhagen, 1853-1976), vol. II, pp. 390-403, 680-82; vol. III, pp. 856-58. Kristensen, Evald Tang, ed.; Grundtvig, Svend, contrib. Jydske Folkeviser og Toner, samlede af Folkemunde, især fra Hammerum-Herred (Copenhagen, 1871), pp. 93-95. Kristensen, Evald Tang, ed. Gamle jyske Folkeviser, samlede af Folkemunde, især i Hammerum-Herred (Copenhagen, 1876), pp. 291-95.
  12. Grundtvig, Svend, et al, eds. Danmarks gamle Folkeviser (Copenhagen, 1853-1976), vol. IV, p. 64.
  13. Child, Francis James, ed.; [Kittredge, G.L., ed.]; [Ireland, Catharine Innes, bibl.] The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Boston and New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, [1882-1898]), vol. I, p. 106; an see vol. I, pp. 88-105. Brackets and bold type as in Child. For the Ribold ballads, see Child, vol. I, pp. 88-93, and sources cited there.