Percy's Reliques - The Frolicksome Duke, or the Tinker's Good Fortune.

The Frolicksome Duke, or the Tinker's Good Fortune.

            The following ballad is upon the same subject as the Induction to Shakspeare's Taming of the Shrew: whether it may be thought to have suggested the hint to the dramatic poet, or is not rather of later date, the reader must determine.

            The story is told of Philip the Good,[ 1] Duke of Burgundy; and is thus related by an old English writer: "The said Duke, at the marriage of Eleonora, sister to the King of Portugall, at Bruges in Flanders, which was solemnised in the deepe of winter; when as by reason of unseasonable weather he could neither hawke nor hunt, and was now tired with cards, dice, &c. and such other domestick sports, or to see ladies dance; with some of his courtiers, he would in the evening walke disguised all about the towne. It so fortuned, as he was walking late one night, he found a countrey fellow dead drunke, snorting on a bulke; he caused his followers to bring him to his palace, and there stripping him of his clothes, and attyring him after the court fashion, when he awakened, he and they were all ready to attend upon his excellency, and persuade him that he was some great Duke. The poor fellow admiring how he came there, was served in state all day long: after supper he saw them dance, heard musicke, and all the rest of those court-like pleasures: but late at night, when he was well tipled, and again fast asleepe, they put on his old rodes, and so conveyed him to the place where they first found hin. Now the fellow had not made them so good sport the day before as he did now, when he returned to himself: all the jest was to see how he looked upon it. In conclusion, after some little admiration, the poore man told his friends he had seen a vision; constantly believed it; would not otherwise be persuaded, and so the jest ended."-- Burton's Anat. of Melancholy, pt. ii. sec. 2. memb. 4. 2d ed. 1624, fol.

            This ballad is given from a black-letter copy in the Pepys Collection, which is intitled as above. "To the tune of Fond Boy."

Now as fame does report a young duke keeps a court,
One that pleases his fancy with frolicksome sport:
But amongst all the rest, here is one I protest,
Which will make you to smile when you hear the true jest:
A poor tinker he found, lying drunk on the ground,
As secure in a sleep as if laid in a swound.

The Duke said to his men, "William, Richard, and Ben,
Take him home to my palace, we'll sport with him then."
O'er a horse he was laid, and with care soon convey'd
To the palace, altho' he was poorly arrai'd:
Then they stript off his cloaths, both his shirt, shoes and hose,
And they put him to bed for to take his repose.

Having pull'd off his shirt, which was all over durt,
They did give him clean holland, this was no great hurt:
On a bed of soft down, like a lord of renown,
They did lay him to sleep the drink out of his crown.
In the morning when day, then admiring he lay,
For to see the rich chamber both gaudy and gay.

Now he lay something late, in his rich bed of state,
Till at last knights and squires they on him did wait;
And the chamberling bare, then did likewise declare,
He desired to know what apparel he'd ware:
The poor tinker amaz'd, on the gentleman gaz'd,
And admired how he to this honour was rais'd.

Tho' he seem'd something mute, yet he chose a rich suit,
Which he straitways put on without longer dispute;
With a star on his side, which the tinker offt ey'd,
And it seem'd for to swell him no little with pride;
For he said to himself, Where is Joan my sweet wife?
Sure she never did see me so fine in her life.

From a convenient place, the right duke his good grace
Did observe his behaviour in every case.
To a garden of state, on the tinker they wait,
Trumpets sounding before him: thought he, this is great:
Where an hour or two, pleasant walks he did view,
With commanders and squires in scarlet and blew.

A fine dinner was drest, both for him and his guests,
He was plac'd at the table above all the rest,
In a rich chair or bed, lin'd with fine crimson red,
With a rich golden canopy over his head:
As he sat at his meat, the musick plac'd sweet,
With the choicest of singing his joys to compleat.

While the tinker did dine, he had plenty of wine,
Rich canary with sherry and tent superfine.
Like a right honest soul, faith, he took off his bowl,
Till at last he began for to tumble and roul
From his chair to the floor, where he sleeping did snore,
Being seven times drunker than ever before.

Then the duke did ordain, they should strip him amain,
And restore him his old leather garments again:
'T was a point next the worst, yet perform it they must,
And they carry'd him strait, where they found him at first;
Then he slept all the night, as indeed well he might;
But when he did waken, his joys took their flight.

For his glory to him so pleasant did seem,
That he thought it to be but a meer golden dream;
Till at length he was brought to the duke, where he sought
For a pardon, as fearing he had set him at nought;
But his highness he said, "Thou'rt a jolly bold blade,
Such a frolick before I think never was plaid."

Then his highness bespoke him a new suit and cloak,
Which he gave for the sake of this frolicksome joak;
Nay, and five-hundred pound, with ten acres of ground,
"Thou shalt never," said he, "range the counteries round,
Crying old brass to mend, for I'll be thy good friend,
Nay, and Joan thy sweet wife shall my duchess attend."

Then the tinker reply'd, "What! must Joan my sweet bride
Be a lady in chariots of pleasure to ride?
Must we have gold and land ev'ry day at command?
Then I shall be a squire I well understand:
Well I thank your good grace, and your love I embrace,
I was never before in so happy a case."

NOTES

1. By Ludov. Vives in Epist. and by Pont. Heuter. Rerum Burgund. b. iv.

 

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