By his bed a monk was seated,
Who in humble voice repeated
Many a prayer and pater-noster,

From the missal on his knee;

And, amid the tempest pealing,
Sounds of bells came faintly stealing,

Bells, that from the neighbouring kloster
Rang for the Nativity.

In the hall the serf and vassal

Held, that night, their Christmas wassail;
Many a carol, old and saintly,

Sang the minstrels and the waits;

And so loud these Saxon gleemen
Sang to slaves the songs of freemen,
That the storm was heard but faintly,
Knocking at the castle-gates.

Till at length the lays they chanted
Reached the chamber terror-haunted,
Where the monk, with accents holy,
Whispered at the baron's ear.

Tears upon his eyelids glistened,
And he paused awhile and listened,
And the dying baron slowly

Turned his weary head to hear.

'Wassail for the kingly stranger
Born and cradled in a manger!
King like David, priest like Aaron,
Christ is born to set us free!'

And the lightning showed the sainted
Figures on the casement painted,
And exclaimed the shuddering baron,
Miserere, Domine !'

18. wassail] health drinking.








In that hour of deep contrition
He beheld, with clearer vision,
Through all outward show and fashion,
Justice, the Avenger, rise.

All the pomp of earth had vanished,
Falsehood and deceit were banished,
Reason spake more loud than passion,
And the truth wore no disguise.

Every vassal of his banner,

Every serf born to his manor,



All those wronged and wretched creatures,
By his hand were freed again.

And, as on the sacred missal
He recorded their dismissal,
Death relaxed his iron features,

And the monk replied, 'Amen!'

Many centuries have been numbered
Since in death the baron slumbered
By the convent's sculptured portal,

Mingling with the common dust:

But the good deed, through the ages
Living in historic pages,
Brighter grows and gleams immortal,
Unconsumed by moth or rust.






According to tradition Robin Hood was an outlaw who lived in Sherwood Forest (near Nottingham). He embodied the spirit of rebellion against oppressive feudalism, robbing the rich of the abbey and castle to relieve the necessities of the poor and oppressed. [See Scott's Ivanhoe.]


No! those days are gone away,
And their hours are old and gray,
And their minutes buried all
Under the down-trodden pall
Of the leaves of many years:
Many times have winter's shears,
Frozen North, and chilling East,
Sounded tempests to the feast
Of the forest's whispering fleeces,
Since men knew nor rent nor leases.

No, the bugle sounds no more,
And the twanging bow no more;
Silent is the ivory shrill

Past the heath and up the hill;
There is no mid-forest laugh,
Where lone Echo gives the half
To some wight, amaz'd to hear
Jesting, deep in forest drear.

On the fairest time of June
You may go, with sun or moon,
Or the seven stars to light you,
Or the polar ray to right you;
But you never may behold
Little John, or Robin bold;

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Never one, of all the clan,
Thrumming on an empty can
Some old hunting ditty, while
He doth his green way beguile
To fair hostess Merriment,
Down beside the pasture Trent;
For he left the merry tale
Messenger for spicy ale.

Gone, the merry morris din; Gone, the song of Gamelyn; Gone, the tough-belted outlaw Idling in the 'grenè shawe'; All are gone away and past! And if Robin should be cast Sudden from his turfed grave, And if Marian should have Once again her forest days,





He would swear, for all his oaks,

She would weep, and he would craze:

Have rotted on the briny seas;

Fall'n beneath the dockyard strokes,


She would weep that her wild bees
Sang not to her-strange! that honey
Can't be got without hard money!

So it is yet let us sing,
Honour to the old bow-string!
Honour to the bugle-horn!

Honour to the woods unshorn!
Honour to the Lincoln green!
Honour to the archer keen!
Honour to tight little John,
And the horse he rode upon!
Honour to bold Robin Hood,
Sleeping in the underwood!

36. shawe] thicket.




Honour to maid Marian,

And to all the Sherwood-clan!
Though their days have hurried by
Let us two a burden try.



33. morris. An old-fashioned dance in fancy costume, common on May Day and other festivals, in which Robin Hood and his companions were favourite characters.



As neither interdict nor excommunication had had any effect in forcing John to recognize Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Innocent III threatened to depose him, and hand over the crown to Philip II of France, who raised a large army to support his claim. Thereupon, John, unable to depend upon his people to oppose the French, did homage before Pandulph the Pope's representative, and agreed to accept Langton as Archbishop and pay a yearly tribute to Rome for his kingdom.


King Philip. Here comes the holy legate of the


Pandulph. Hail, you anointed deputies of heaven! To thee, King John, my holy errand is.

I Pandulph, of fair Milan cardinal,

And from Pope Innocent the legate here,

Do in his name religiously demand

Why thou against the church, our holy mother,
So wilfully dost spurn; and, force perforce,
Keep Stephen Langton, chosen Archbishop
Of Canterbury, from that holy see?

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