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King Edward the Fourth and a Tanner of Tamworth

No: 273; variant: 273A

  1. In summer time, when leaves grew green, and birds were singing on every tree, King Edward would a hunting ride, some pastime for to see.
  2. Our king he would a hunting ride, by eight a clock of the day, And well was he ware of a bold tanner, came riding on the way.
  3. A good russet coat the tanner had on, fast buttoned under his chin, And under him a good cow-hide, and a mare of four shilling.
  4. 'Now stand you here, my good lords all, under this trusty tree, And I will wend to yonder fellow, to know from whence came he.
  5. 'God speed, God speed,' then said our king; 'Thou art welcome, good fellow,' quoth he; 'Which is the way to Drayton Basset I pray thee shew to me.'
  6. 'The ready way to Drayton Basset, from this place as thou dost stand, The next pair of gallows thou comst to thou must turn up [on] thy right hand.'
  7. 'That is not the way,' then said our king, 'The ready way I pray thee shew me;' 'Whether thou be thief or true man,' quoth the tanner, 'I'm weary of thy company.
  8. 'Away, with a vengeance,' qoth the tanner, 'I hold thee out of thy wit, For all this day have I ridden and gone, And I am fasting yet.'
  9. 'Go with me to Drayton Basset,' said our king, 'No daintyes we will lack; We'l have meat and drink of the best, And I will pay the shot.'
  10. 'Godamercy for nothing,' said the tanner, 'Thou shalt pay for no dinner of mine; I have more groats and nobles in my purse then thou hast pence in thine.'
  11. 'God save your goods,' then said the king, aend send them well to thee!' 'Be thou thief or true man,' quoth the tanner, 'I am weary of thy company.
  12. 'Away, with a vengeance,' quoth the tanner, 'of thee I stand in fear; The aparrell thou wearst on thy back May seem a good lord to wear.'
  13. 'I never stole them' said our king, 'I swear to thee by the rood;' 'Thou art some ruffian of the country, thou rid'st in the midst of thy good.'
  14. 'What news dost thou hear?' then said our king, 'I pray what news do you hear?' 'I hear no news,' answered the tanner, 'But that cow-hides be dear.'
  15. 'Cow-hides? cow-hides?' then said our king, 'I marvell what they be;' 'Why, art thou a fool?' quoth the tanner, 'look, I have one under me.'
  16. 'Yet one thing now I would thee pray, so that thou wouldst not be strange; If thy mare be better then my steed, I pray thee let us change.'
  17. 'But if you needs with me will change, As change full well may ye, By the faith of my body,' quoth the tanner, 'I look to have boot of thee.'
  18. 'What boot wilt thou ask?' then said our king, 'what boot dost thou ask on this ground?' 'No pence nor half-pence,' said the tanner, 'But a noble in gold so round.'
  19. 'Here's twenty good groats,' then said the king, 'So well paid see you be;' 'I love thee better then I did before, I thought thou hadst nere a peny.
  20. 'But if so be we needs must change, as change thou must abide, Though thou hast gotten Brock my mare, thou shalt not have my cow-hide.'
  21. The tanner took the good cow-hide, that of the cow was hilt, And threw it upon the king's saddle, That was so fairly guilt.
  22. 'Now help me, help me,' quoth the tanner, 'Full quickly that I were gone, For when I come home to Gillian my wife she'l say I'm a gentleman.'
  23. The king took the tanner by the leg, he girded a fart so round; 'You'r very homely,' said the king, 'were I aware, I'd laid you o th' ground.'
  24. But when the tanner was in the king's saddle astone:d then he was; He knew not the stirrops that he did wear, whether they were gold or brass.
  25. But when the steed saw the black cow-tale wag, for and the black cow-horn, The steed began to run away, as the divel the tanner had born.
  26. Untill he came unto a nook, a little beside an ash; The steed gave the tanner such a fall his neck was almost brast.
  27. 'Take thy horse again, with a vengeance,' he said, 'with me he shall not abide;' 'It is no marvell,' said the king, and laught, 'He knew not your cow-hide.
  28. 'But if that we needs now must change, as change that well we mought, I'le swear to you plain, if you have your mare, I look to have some boot.'
  29. 'What boot will you ask?' quoth the tanner, 'What boot will you ask on this ground?' 'No pence nor half-pence,' said our king, 'But a noble in gold so round.'
  30. 'Here's twenty [good] groats,' said the tanner, aend twenty more I have of thine; I have ten groats more in my purse, we'l drink five of them at the wine.'
  31. The king set a bugle-horne to his mouth, that blew both loud and shrill, And five hundred lords and knights came riding over a hill.
  32. 'Away, with a vengeance,' quoth the tanner, 'with thee I'le no longer abide; Thou art a strong thief, yonder be thy fellows, they will steal away my cow-hide.'
  33. 'No I protest,' then said our king, 'For so it may not be; They be the lords of Drayton Basset, come out of the North Country.'
  34. But when they came before the king full low they fell on their knee; The tanner had rather then a thousand pound he had been out of his company.
  35. 'A coller! a coller!' then said the king, ae coller!' then did he cry; Then would he have given a thousand pound he had not been so nigh.
  36. 'A coller? a coller?' then quoth the tanner, 'it is a thing which will breed sorrow; For after a coller commeth a halter, and I shall be hanged tomorrow.'
  37. 'No, do not fear,' the king did say; 'For pastime thou hast shown me, No coller nor halter thou shalt have, but I will give thee a fee.
  38. 'For Plompton Park I will give thee, with tenements three beside, Which is worth three hundred pound a year, to maintain thy good cow-hide.'
  39. 'Godamercy, Godamercy,' quoth the tanner; 'For this good deed thou hast done, If ever thou comest to merry Tamworth thou shalt have clouting-leather for thy shone.'