King James and the Tinker
And now to be brief let’s pass o’er the rest,
Who seldom or never was given to jest,
And come to King James the First on the throne,
A pleasanter Monarch sure never was known.
As he was a-chasing his fair fallow deer,
He dropt all his nobles and of them got clear;
In search of new pleasures away he did ride,
Till he came to an Alehouse hard by a Wood side.
And there with a Tinker he happened to meet,
And him in this sort he did lovingly greet.
He said, “Honest fellow, what hast thou in thy jug,
Which under thy arm thou so blithely doth hug ?”
“In truth,” said the Tinker, “’tis nappy brown ale,
And to drink unto thee, good faith I’ll not fail;
What though thy jacket looks gallant and fine,
I hope that my two pence as good is as thine.”
“Nay, by my soul, man, the truth thou hast spoke,”
Then straight with the Tinker he sat down to joke.
He called for his pitcher, the Tinker another,
And so they fell to it like brother and brother.
Whilst drinking, the King was pleased to say,
“What news, honest fellow? come tell me, I pray.”
There’s nothing of news, the which I do hear,
But the King is a-hunting his fair fallow deer.
And truly trust I so happy may be
That whilst he’s a-hunting the King I may see;
For though I have travelled the land many ways,
I ne’er saw the King, sir, in all my whole days.”
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 thee I will bring
Into the Royal presence of James, our King.”
“Perhaps,” said the Tinker, “I his Lords will be drest
So fine that I shall not know him from the rest.”
“I tell thee, good fellow, when thou dost come there,
The King will be covered. The Nobles be bare.”
Then up got the Tinker, and likewise his sack,
His budget of leather and tools on his back;
And when they came to the merry green wood
The Nobles came round them and bareheaded stood,
The Tinker then seeing so many appear
Immediately whispered the King in the ear:
“Since they are all clothed so gallant and gay,
Now which is the King, Sir, come tell me I pray.”
The King to the Tinker then made this reply,
“By my soul, man, I think it must be you or I –
The rest are uncovered, you see all around.”
This said, with his budget he fell to the ground
Like one that was frightened quite out of his wits,
Then upon his knees he instantly gets,
Beseeching for mercy. The King to him said,
“Thou art a good fellow, so be not afraid.
Come tell me thy name.” “It is John of the Vale,
A Mender of Kettles and a lover of good ale.”
“Then rise up, Sir John, I will honour thee here,
And make thee a Knight of five hundred a year.”
This was a good thing for the Tinker indeed,
Then on to the Court he was sent for with speed;
Where great store of pleasure and pastime was seen,
In the Royal presence of both King and Queen.