And yet ther are yet sum thinges of which I knowe a tolerable quantitee, and so whanne a smal mayde did wryte an email to my account, the spirit of Philosophie bid me answere. Ich did compose a response, the which must, by yts nature, go out upon this blogge:
Deere Mayster Chaucer,
Ich am but VIII yeeres of age. Sum of my litel freendes seyen that ther ys no Robin Hood. Ywis, thei do saye that ther is no historical record of him. My fadir sayeth that “yif ye see yt on a blog then it ys trewe.” Plese speke the treweth to me on yower blog: is ther a Robin Hood?
Virginia, yower litel freendes aren yn the grip of grete errour. Thei have been bismotered by the over-reliaunce on documentz of a tyme that ys excessifly concerned wyth historical record. Thei yive credence unto no thyng but yif thei see yt in a roll or chartir or heare a twentye minute talke yn a small room wyth questionez aftirwardes. Thei thynk that no thyng can be or hath been save for thos thinges that kan be compassid in their croniclez. Yet all croniclez, whedir thei be of thos folk at gret researche universitees or thos term papirs that childer do wryte, are litel. In the grete duracioun of eternitee, the tyme of man ys but that of a pissemyre, whanne comparisoun ys made bitwene yt and the lastingnesse of the worlde. For as wyse Boece saith of erthely fame: “yif thou wolde make comparisoun to the endles spaces of eternyte, what thyng hastow by whiche thou mayest rejoisen thee of long lastynge of thy name?” (LIBER II PROSA VII).
Aye, Virginia, ther ys a Robin Hood. Robin Hood existeth as seurelye as green hattes, stylishe sworde-pleye, and roguish good lookes existen, and ye know that thei abounden and yive to yower lyf yts gretest plesaunce and joie. By Seynt Loy! How grym wolde the worlde be yif ther were no Robin Hood. It would be as grim as yf there were no Virginiae. Ther wolde be no resistaunce to grasping landholderes then, no consistentlye rhyming balades, no romaunce to reade on a coold night or to pass tyme duringe the daye. We sholde have no deliteful readinge material, oonly lapidaries or yet anothir alliteratif allegorie about being very worryed about dyinge. The ever-lastinge awesomenesse of cuttinge downe a chandelier onto bumbling minions while banteringe wyth a romantic interest wolde be extinguished.
Nat believe yn Robin Hood! Ye maye as wel nat believe in King Arthur! Ye maye peticioun the kyng to hyre sheriffes to watche in all the grene-woode shawes in Engelonde to cacche Robin Hood, but thogh thei sawe nat Robin Hood, who koud then saye “quod erat demonstrandum”? No folk see Robin Hood, but that signifieth nat that ther ys no Robin Hood. The most awesome thinges yn the worlde are those that neither childer nor men kan see with eye. Did ye evir see the wonderful sciapods who lyve in the lande of Inde and have but oon foot, a limb of such greteness that thei can shade their bodyes by putting that foot above them? Of course nat, but that nys no token that thei are nat there. No folk can conceiven or hoold yn their imaginacioun all the wondirs that are unseene and invisible yn the worlde. Except John Mandeville.
Ye maye take apart an astrolabe and undirstond the natur of yts operacioun (and Ich have a smal tretis on that topique ywrit), but ther ys a maner of rough cloth that covereth the good fayre fruit of the world of fayerye, the which nat the gretest historian, nor even the joyned myghte of every historyan that ever did a footnote wryte, kan teare apart (thogh thei be mighty at arm-wrestling). Oonly whimsy, swashbucklinge, poesie, fin amor -- and, certes, shootinge an arrowe so that yt catcheth the sleeve of a hapless corrupt official -- can pusshe asyde the burlap of dailye lyf and disclose the wondirs of beautee and glorie at yts centir. Hath thys a real existence? Ywis, Virginia, in al thys worlde ther beth no thyng that ys to such an extent possessinge of existence.
No Robin Hood! Benedicte! He liveth, and he liveth for ay. Oon thousand yeeres from this daye, Virginia, nay, as many yeeres as an abacus kan count, Robin Hood will continue to make sure that discussioun of medieval governance and taxacioun ys mixed up wyth funnye nick-names and archery.