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In the first edition of this book were inserted, by way of specimen of His Majesty's poetic talents, some Punning Verses made on the disputations at Stirling; but it having been suggested to the Editor, that

the king only gave the quibbling commendations in prose, and that some obsequious court-rhymer put them into metre,' it was thought proper to exchange them for two sonnets of King James's own composition. James was a great versifier, and therefore out of the multitude of his poems we have here selected two, which (to show our impartiality) are written in his best and his worst manner. The first would not dishonour any writer of that time; the second is a most complete example of the Bathos.


From King James's Works in folio: where is also printed another, called His Majesty's OWN Sonnet: it would perhaps be to cruel to infer from thence that this was NOT His Majesty's own Sonnet.

GOD gives not kings the stile of gods in vaine,
For on his throne his scepter do they swey;
And as their subjects ought them to obey,
So kings should feare and serve their God againe.
If then ye would enjoy a happie reigne,

Observe the statutes of our heavenly King;
And from his law make all your laws to spring;
Since his lieutenant here ye should remaine.
Rewarde the just, be stedfast, true, and plaine;

Represse the proud, maintayning aye the right;
Walke always so as ever in His sight
Who guardes the godly, plaguing the prophane.
And so ye shall in princely vertues shine,
Resembling right your mightie King divine.






printed from Drummond of Hawthornden's Works, folio: where also may be seen some verses of Lord Stirling upon this Sonnet, which concludes with the finest anti-climax I remember to have seen.

How cruelly these catives do conspire!

What loathsome love breeds such a baleful band
Betwixt the cankred King of Creta land,2
That melancholy, old and angry sire,

'See a folio entitled The Muses Welcome to King James.

2 Saturn.



And him, who wont to quench debate and iro
Among the Romans when his ports were clos'd! 3
But now his double face is still dispos'd,
With Saturn's help, to freeze us at the fire.

The earth ore-covered with a sheet of snow,
Refuses food to fowl, to bird, and beast;
The chilling cold lets every thing to grow,
And surfeits cattle with a starving feast.


Curs'd be that love and mought continue short,
Which kills all creatures, and doth spoil our sport.

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King John and the Abbot of Canterbury.

The common popular ballad of King John and the Abbot seems to have been abridged and modernised about the time of James I. from one much older, entitled King John and the Bishop of Canterbury The Editor's folio MS. contains a copy of this last, but in too corrupt a state to be reprinted; it however afforded many lines worth reviving, which will be found inserted in the ensuing stanzas.

The archness of the following questions and answers hath been much admired by our old ballad-makers; for besides the two copies above mentioned, there is extant another ballad on the same subject (but of no great antiquity or merit), entitled King Olfrey and the Abbot.' Lastly, about the time of the civil wars, when the cry ran against the bishops, some Puritan worked up the same story into a very doleful ditty, to a solemn tune, concerning "King Henry and a Bishop;" with this stinging moral:

"Unlearned men hard matters out can find,

When learned bishops princes eyes do blind."

The following is chiefly printed from an ancient black-letter copy, to the tune of " Derry down.”

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An ancient story Ile tell you anon

Of a notable prince, that was called King John;

And he ruled England with maine and with might,

For he did great wrong, and maintein'd little right.

1 See the collection of Historical Ballads, 3 vols., 1727. Mr. Wise supposes Olfrey to be a corruption of Alfred, in his pamphlet coacerning the WHITE HORSE in Berkshire, p. 15.

And Ile tell you a story, a story so merrye,
Concerning the Abbot of Canterburye;
How for his house-keeping and high renowne,
They rode poste for him to fair London towne.

An hundred men, the king did heare say,
The abbot kept in his house every day;
And fifty golde chaynes, without any doubt,
In velvet coates waited the abbot about.

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"How now, father abbot, I heare it of thee,
Thou keepest a farre better house than mee;
And for thy house-keeping and high renowne,
I feare thou work'st treason against my crown'


"My liege," quo' the abbot, "I would it were knowne
I never spend nothing, but what is my owne;
And I trust your grace will doe me no deere,

For spending of my owne true-gotten geere."


"Yes, yes, father abbot, thy fault it is highe, And now for the same thou needest must dye;

For except thou canst answer me questions three,
Thy head shall be smitten from thy bodie.

"And first, "quo' the king, "when I'm in this stead, With my crowne of golde so faire on my head, Among all my liege-men so noble of birthe,


Thou must tell me to one penny what I am worthe.

"Secondlye, tell me, without any doubt,

How soone I may ride the whole world about;


And at the third question thou must not shrink,
But tell me here truly what I do think."

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"O, these are hard questions for my shallow witt,
Nor I cannot answer your grace as yet:
But if you will give me but three weekes space,
Ile do my endeavour to answer your grace."
"Now three weeks space to thee will I give,
And this is the longest time thou hast to live;
For if thou dost not answer my questions three,
Thy lands and thy livings are forfeit to mee.'

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Away rode the abbot all sad at that word,
And he rode to Cambridge, and Oxenford;
But never a doctor there was so wise,

That could with his learning an answer devise.

Then home rode the abbot of comfort so cold,


And he mett his shepheard a going to fold:

"How now, my lord abbot, you are welcome home;

What newes do you bring us from good King John?"

"Sad newes, sad newes, shepheard, I must give, That I have but three days more to live;


For if I do not answer him questions three,
My head will be smitten from my bodìe.

"The first is to tell him there in that stead,
With his crowne of golde so fair on his head,
Among all his liege-men so noble of birth,
To within one penny of what he is worth.

it ;

"The seconde, to tell him, without any doubt,
How soone he may ride this whole world about
And at the third question I must not shrinke,
But tell him there truly what he does thinke.”



"Now cheare up, sire abbot, did you never hear yet,
That a fool he may learn a wise man witt?
Lend me horse, and serving mon, and your apparel,
And I'll ride to London to answere your quarrel.


"Nay frowne not, if it hath bin told unto mee,
I am like your lordship, as ever may bee;
And if will but lend me your gowne,


There is none shall knowe us at fair London towne."


"Now horses and serving-men thou shalt have,
With sumptuous array most gallant and brave,
With crozier, and miter, and rochet, and cope,
Fit to appeare 'fore our fader the pope."

"Now, welcome, sire abbot," the king he did say
"Tis well thou'rt come back to keepe thy day:
For and if thou canst answer my questions three,
Thy life and thy living both saved shall bee.


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