King James I and the Tinkler

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Melody -
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Traditional Ballad

And now, to be brief, let's pass over the rest,
Who seldom or never were given to jest,
And come to King Jamie, the first of our throne,
A pleasanter monarch sure never was known.

2. As he was a hunting the swift fallow-deer,
He dropped all his nobles; and when he got clear,
In hope of some pastime away he did ride,
Till he came to an alehouse, hard by a wood-side.

3. And there with a tinkler he happened to meet,
And him in kind sort he so freely did greet:
Pray thee, good fellow, what hast in thy jug,
Which under thy arm thou dost lovingly hug?

4. By the mass! quoth the tinkler, it's nappy brown ale,
And for to drink to thee, friend, I will not fail;
For although thy jacket looks gallant and fine,
I think that my twopence as good is as thine.

5. By my soul! honest fellow, the truth thou hast spoke,
And straight he sat down with the tinkler to joke;
They drank to the King, and they pledged to each other;
Who'd seen 'em had thought they were brother and brother.

6. As they were a-drinking the King pleased to say,
What news, honest fellow? come tell me, I pray?
There's nothing of news, beyond that I hear
The King's on the border a-chasing the deer.

7. And truly I wish I so happy may be
Whilst he is a hunting the King I might see;
For although I've travelled the land many ways
I never have yet seen a King in my days.

8. The King, with a hearty brisk laughter, replied,
I tell thee, good fellow, if thou canst but ride,
Thou shalt get up behind me, and I will thee bring
To the presence of Jamie, thy sovereign King.

9. But he'll be surrounded with nobles so gay,
And how shall we tell him from them, sir, I pray?
Thou'lt easily ken him when once thou art there;
The King will be covered, his nobles all bare.

10. He got up behind him and likewise his sack,
His budget of leather, and tools at his back;
They rode till they came to the merry greenwood,
His nobles came round him, bareheaded they stood.

11. The tinkler then seeing so many appear,
He slily did whisper the King in his ear:
Saying, They're all clothed so gloriously gay,
But which amongst them is the King, sir, I pray?

12. The King did with hearty good laughter, reply,
By my soul! my good fellow, it's thou or it's I!
The rest are bareheaded, uncovered all round.'
With his bag and his budget he fell to the ground,

13. Like one that was frightened quite out of his wits,
Then on his knees he instantly gets,
Beseeching for mercy; the King to him said,
Thou art a good fellow, so be not afraid.

14. Come, tell thy name? I am John of the Dale,
A mender of kettles, a lover of ale.
Rise up, Sir John, I will honour thee here,
I make thee a knight of three thousand a year!

15. This was a good thing for the tinkler indeed;
Then unto the court he was sent for with speed,
Where great store of pleasure and pastime was seen,
In the royal presence of King and of Queen.

16. Sir John of the Dale he has land, he has fee,
At the court of the king who so happy as he?
Yet still in his hall hangs the tinkler's old sack,
And the budget of tools which he bore at his back.

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