When the King Enjoys his Own Again and Martin Parker

When the King Enjoys his Own Again became the most popular ballad in England from the 1640s – and became a Jacobite rebel song 

Martin Parker was a writer of ballads and chapbooks and popular verse. We don’t know much about him.  He turns up in front of the Bridewell governors in London, accused as a balladeer and vagrant in 1629, suspected of involvement in a theft. He seems to have been a Londoner,  “though his stories are populated by northern lasses”, always a good thing. And maybe he was a Publican which is obviously a great job if you can bang out ballads and pull in a crowd.

In the previous century, ballads usually had plenty of Godly content, but Martin’s verses and songs were secular. They, and the chapbooks he also wrote, had become seen as a good source of popular news

‘For a penny you may have all the Newse in England, of Murders, Flouds, Witches, Fires, Tempests, and what not1, in one of Martin Parkers Ballads

His first attributed work was in 1624, his last 1647. A publican was a position of some standing, and Parker’s writing shows signs of the influence of Chaucer and Spenser, though a mock elegy in 1656, by which time he was probably dead, has a different suggestion for his muse

‘He alwayes bath’d his Beak in Ale, Toping whole Tubs off, like some thirsty Whale.’

Well your know, as a publican, clearly a man who loves his job.

Parker seems to have fallen foul of parliament, and became a sentimental pro-royalist. Political strains appear in some of his works, and he may have written for the royalist Newsbook, Mercurius Melancholicus.  He objected to charges made against him, and said that he

‘never wrot but in the Just defence, Of’s King and Countrey’

His most famous work then was this ballad, which IS catchy, it must be said. the historian Joad Raymond2 writes that

The ballad regrets the damage to the country exacted by the civil war and the dishonouring of the king, and looks forward to the orderly restoration of his throne

And you can listen to the Druids singing it on You Tube!

A Jacobite Rebel song

The ballad was joyfully reprinted at the Restoration, and once more became all the rage. Then in 1688 after the flight of James, it became a Jacobite rebel song and a rallying cry for royalty once more – and a lot besides of course. In 1713 the Tory and Jacobite clergyman Henry Sacheverell had it played after one of his incendiary sermons; when the musicians tried to play anything else everyone started hissing and booing.  It was still a Jacobite rallying cry at the time of the ’15 and the ’45 rebellions.

The Lyrics

There seem to be a few versions, so there’s a different one in the You Tube clip

Let rogues and cheats prognosticate
Concerning king’s or kingdom’s fate

I think myself to be as wise
As he that gazeth on the skies
My sight goes beyond
The depth of a pond
Or rivers in the greatest rain
Whereby I can tell
That all will be well
When the King enjoys his own again
Yes, this I can tell
That all will be well
When the King enjoys his own again

There’s neither Swallow, Dove, or Dade
Can soar more high or deeper wade
Nor show a reason from the stars
What causeth peace or civil wars
The man in the moon
May wear out his shoon
By running after Charles his wain
But all’s to no end,
For the times will not mend
Till the King enjoys his own again
Yes, this I can tell
That all will be well
When the King enjoys his own again

Full forty years this royal crown
Hath been his father’s and his own
And is there anyone but he
That in the same should sharer be?
For who better may
The sceptre sway
Than he that hath such right to reign?
Then let’s hope for a peace,
For the wars will not cease
Till the king enjoys his own again
Yes, this I can tell
That all will be well
When the King enjoys his own again

Though for a time we see Whitehall
With cobwebs hanging on the wall
Instead of gold and silver brave
Which formerly he was wont to have
With rich perfume
In every room,
Delightful to that princely train
Yet the old again shall be
When the time you see
That the King enjoys his own again
Yes, this I can tell
That all will be well
When the King enjoys his own again

Then fears avaunt, upon the hill
My hope shall cast her anchor still
Until I see some peaceful dove
Bring home the branch I dearly love
Then will I wait
Till the waters abate
Which now disturb my troubled brain
Then for ever rejoice,
When I’ve heard the voice
That the King enjoys his own again
Yes, this I can tell
That all will be well
When the King enjoys his own again

References

1 I was interested to see the use of ‘what not’ so I looked it up. According to OED, its first recorded usage came in 1540:

“Excesse of fleshely pleasures..hath taken awaye all thynges..my goodes or substance, my name .i. my good name and fame, my frendes, my glory .i. my renoume or estimation, what not? .i. what thyng is it that she hath not taken from me?”

2 Most of this article derives from Joad Raymond’s article in the Oxford Database of National Biography

One thought on “When the King Enjoys his Own Again and Martin Parker

  1. Thank you for this. I just came across the ballad and impressed by the lyrics wanted to know who wrote them. Martin Parker was obviously a character! I’d love to know more about him.

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