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Paire with her that will for mee,
With her I will never paire ;
For being a little faire.
THE KING AND MILLER OF MANSFIELD.
It has been a favourite subject with our English ballad-makers to represent our kings conversing, either by accident or design, with the meanest of their subjects. Of the former kind, besides this song of the King and the Miller, we have King Henry and the Soldier ; King James I. and the Tinker; King William III. and the Forester, &c. Of the latter sort, are King Alfred and the Shepherd; King Edward IV. and the Tanner; King Henry VIII. and the Cobler, &c.- -A few of the best of these are admitted into this collection. Both the author of the following ballad, and others who have written on the same plan, seem to have copied a very
intitled JOHN TNE Reeve, which is built on an adventure of the same kind, that happened between King Edward Longshanks and one of his Reeves or Bailiffs. This is a piece of great antiquity, being written before the time of Edward IV. and for its genuine humour, diverting incidents, and faithful picture of rustic manners, is infinitely superior to all that have been since written in imitation of it. The Editor has a copy in his ancient folio MS. but its length rendered it improper for this volume, it consisting of more than 900 lines. It contains also some corruptions, and the Editor chuses to defer its publication, in hopes that some time or other he shall be able to remove them.
The following is printed, with corrections, from the Editor's folio MS. collated with an old black-letter copy in the Pepys collection, intitled, “A pleasant ballad of
King Henry II. and the Miller of Mansfield, &c.”
PART THE FIRST.
Henry, our royall king, would ride a hunting
To the greene forest so pleasant and faire ;
Sherwood his nobles repaire :
All a long summers day rode the king pleasantlye,
With all his princes and nobles eche one ;
Til the dark evening forc'd all to turne home. 10
Wandering thus wearilyé, all alone, up and downe,
With a rude miller he mett at the last : Asking the ready way unto faire Nottingham; 15
Sir, quoth the miller, I meane not to jest, Yet I thinke, what I thinke, sooth for to say, You doe not lightlye ride out of your way.
Why, what dost thou think of me, quoth our king merrily,
Passing thy judgment upon me so briefe ? 20 Good faith, sayd the miller, I meané not to flatter thee;
I guess thee to bee but some gentleman thiefe ; Stand thee backe, in the darke ; light not adowne, Lest that I presentlye crack thy knaves crowne.
Thou dost abuse me much, quoth the king, saying thus ; I am a gentleman; lodging I lacke.
26 Thou hast not, quoth th' miller, one groat in thy purse;
All thy inheritance hanges on thy backe. * I have gold to discharge all that I call ; If it be forty pęnce, I will pay all.
If thou beest a true man, then quoth the miller,
I sweare by my toll-dish, I'll lodge thee all night. Here's my hand, quoth the king, that was I ever.
Nay, soft, quoth the miller, thou may'st be a sprite. Better I'll know thee, ere hands we will shake; 35 With none but honest men hands will I take.
Thus they went all along unto the millers house ;
Where they were seething of puddings and souse : The miller first enter'd in, after him went the king; Never came hee in soe smoakye a house.
40 Now, quoth hee, let me see here what you are. Quoth our king, looke your fill, and doe not spare.
I like well thy countenance, thou hast an honest face;
With my son Richard this night thou shalt lye. Quoth his wife, by my troth, it is a handsome youth, 45
Yet it's best, husband, to deal warilye. Art thoy no run away, prythee, youth, tell? Shew me thy passport, and all shal be well.
* The king says this.
Then our king presentlye, making lowe courtesye,
With his hatt in his hand, thus he did say ;
But a poor courtyer, rode out of my way:
Then to the miller his wife whisper'd secretlye,
Saying, It seemeth, this youth's of good kin, Both by his apparel, and eke by his manners;
To turne him out, certainlye, were a great sin. Yea, quoth hee, you may see, he hath some grace When he doth speake to his betters in place.
Well, quo' the millers wife, young man, ye're welcome
And, though I say it, well lodged shall be: [here; Fresh straw will I have, laid on thy bed so brave,
And good brown hempen sheets likewise, quoth shee. Aye, quoth the good man; and when that is done, 65 Thou shalt lye with no worse than our own sonne. Nay, first, quoth Richard, good-fellowe, tell me true,
Hast thou noe creepers within thy gay hose ? Or art thou not troubled with the scabbado ?
I pray, quoth the king, what creatures are those ? 70 Art thou not lowsy, nor scabby ? quoth he : If thou beest, syrely thou lyest not with mee.
This caus'd the king, suddenlye, to laugh most heartilye, Till the teares trickled fast downe from his eyes.