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Robin Goodfellow 1st appeared in 1531 as the expression, "Robin Goodfellow has been with you tonight," indicating that one became lost. In 1570 Antonio de Torquemada's "Jardin Flores Curiosas" was posthumously published, which Lewes Lewkenor translated as "The Spanish Mandevile of Miracles, or, The Garden of Curious Flowers" (1600); he claimed that Robingoodfellowes "are more familiar and domestical than [other types of spirits], and for some causes to us unknown, abide in one place, more than in another, so that some never almost depart from some particular houses, as though they were their proper mansions, making in them sundry noises, rumours, mockeries, gawdes and jests, without doing any harm at all: and though I am not myself witness thereof, yet I have heard many persons of credit affirm that they have heard them play as it were on Gyterns & Jews Harps, and ring Bells, and that they answer to those that call them, and speak with certain signs, laughters and merry gestures, so that those of the house come at last to be so familiar and well acquainted with them that they fear them not at all. But in truth, as I said before, if they had free power to put in practice their malicious desire, we should find these pranks of theirs, not to be jests, but earnest indeed, tending to the destruction of both our body and soul, but as I told you before, this power of theirs is so restrained and tied, that they can pass no farther than to jests and gawdes: and if they do any harm or hurt at all, it is certain very little, as by experience we daily see." Perhaps a 1/2 decade earlier William Shakespeare wrote "A Midsummer Night's Dream," in which a fairy addressed ...that shrewd and knavish spriteCalled Robin Goodfellow. Are not you heThat frights the maidens of the villagery,Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern,And bootless make the breathless housewife churn,And sometime make the drink to bear no barm,Mislead night-wanders, laughing at their harm?To which he replied,Thou speakest aright;I am that merry wanderer of the night.I jest to Oberon, and make him smileWhen I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,Neighing in likeness of a filly foal;And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowlIn very likeness of a roasted crab,And when she drinks, against her lips I bobAnd on her withered dewlap pour the ale.The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,And 'tailor' cries, and falls into a cough;And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,And waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and swearA merrier hour was never wasted there.
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