MacLean, Gerald, editor. The Return of the King : An Anthology of English Poems Commemorating the Restoration of Charles II / edited by Gerald MacLean
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The Covenant
[undated: early March?]

    Although it cannot be dated with any certainty this ballad addresses concerns that were at issue during late February and early March. Following the readmission of the secluded MPs in February, parliament ordered the republication of the Solemn League and Covenant on 5 March, more as a challenge to Monck than an attempt to win over presbyterian suport. On the Covenant, see also L'titi' Caledonic', which is slightly cynical about the effect of renewing the Covenant as a promise to the king.

    Internal evidence suggests that the ballad appeared before the king's return was at all certain since its concerns bear directly on the terms of the Restoration settlement. At issue is the dilemma facing those who felt their loyalties divided between religious principles and a return of monarchy. The ballad is delivered in the voice of an old covenanting soldier who claims to have fought in the parliamentary army of the Earl of Essex for the protestant cause against the perceived catholicism of Charles I. Essex had died in 1646, three years after parliament issued the Solemn League and Covenant on 5 Sept 1643. Although it is less likely that the title refers specifically to the Scottish National Covenant, which had been declared in defense of presbyterianism in 1638, both documents contain clauses mentioned in the ballad. Signatories to the Scottish National Covenant declared themselves to be against the falling off of religion and to be equally determined to stop the threat of "popish religion" (Gardiner, Constitutional Documents, p. 62) while at the same time protesting and promising "that we shall defend [the King's] person and authority with our goods, bodies, and lives, in the defence of Christ His evangel...against all enemies within this realm or without" (ibid, p. 57). Following the inconclusive battles of the first year of the civil war, and the failure of negotiations during the summer of 1643, parliament issued the Solemn League and Covenant largely in order to secure Scottish support by guarenteeing a national church without bishops, thereby seeking to keep the support of the presbyterians. Signatories were called upon to defend the reformed church, to extirpate popery and prelacy, to discover plots, to defend the union of the kingdoms, to assist all working to these ends, and to endeavour to preserve "the rights and privileges of Parliament, and the liberties of the kingdom, and to preserve and defend the King's Majesty's person and authority" (ibid, p. 188).

    The first part of this ballad recalls these declarations of loyalty to the king by way of defending those who fought for the protestant cause. The second part continues this defense by way of carefully distinguishing Charles II from his father, and making the case for suporting his return.

    In terms of printing evidence, the publisher Charles Tyus 1 only appears to have become active during 1660, publishing broadside ballads throughout that year on contemporary events, including J. W.'s The Royall Oak, which also makes use of the same initial woodcut of a mounted king preceded by two mounted pages, and T. R.'s The Royall Subjects Joy, both included here. Tyus also issued two ballads on Prince Henry's death (to be found at GU 65 and GU 290), and A Warning For all such as desire to Sleep upon the Grass (GU 375) dated 1664. 2

[1][bound to William Gilbertson in 1649, became free in 1656; McKenzie #1705]

[2]Cf Sarah Tyus "at the three Bibles on London-Bridge" for whom was printed the following: -- GU 76, The Devil's Conquest "printed for S. Tyus, on London Bridge." The Faithful Lovers Farewell GU 118; The Valiant hearted Sea-man GU 366.
The initial cut of a mounted king with two mounted pages is also used for The Worthy Kings Description (np, nd), and J.W. The Royall Oak (for Charles Tyus, nd GU 308) included here; appears with Peter Fancy, Joyfull News to the Nation, a coronation ballad, (for Richard Burton at the Horse-shoe in Smithfiled, nd; GU 147); a section of it, in rather bad state, appears with An excellent Ballad, Intituled, The Wandring Prince of Troy (for F. Coles, T. Vere, and J, Wright, nd; GU 87) and again for A Proper New Ballad intitled, The Wandring Prince of Troy (for F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, nd GU 262), A new ballad shewing how a Prince of England... (for Coles, Vere and Golbertson; a version of the cut appears with The Loyal Subject Resolution (by T. Mabb for Richard Burton at the Horshoe in Smithfield, nd; GU 161) dating from the time of the 2nd Dutch War;

The Covenant
No King but the Old King's Son,
A brief Rehearsall of what heretofore was done.

All sorts of People of it take a view,
You surely will confess that I say true;
Let none mislike the same that cannot mend it,
Neither rashly censure him that pen'd it.
To the Tune of, True Blew will never staine.

[boxed cut]

LOng time have I been a Souldier,
and have followed the Traine,
Which doth make me now the bolder,
the Covenant for to maintaine.

5: When first unto the Wars we went,
and Essex did us entertain,
It was then to a good intent,
though since we turn'd our coats again.

In every church the covenanting
our undertakings did explain,
Our indeavours were not wanting,
the true Cause for to maintain.

By the Parliament it was expressed
Kingly Rights for to maintain,
15: And if his Heirs they were distressed,
they kindly would them entertain.

Since many persons have repented
for their kindred 3 that were slain,
Since the King this Land absented,
and did not return again.

Plate into half-crowns was melted
to pay the Souldiers for their pain,
We then did march till we were swelted,
no toile at all we did refrain.

25: Which makes me now call to minde
of remembrance this one thing,
Which in the Covenant I finde,
To defend the Person of the KING.

But some will say I am a wigeon
because the truth I do maintain,
It was onely for Religion,
And Opinions that were vain.

Religion it is confessed
Did waxe then into the Waine,
35: As in the Covenant is expressed,
for which many men were slain.

We Souldiers that then were listed
the Good Old Cause for to maintain,
With good hopes we alwaies feasted
to bring home the king again.

[3] kindred] kinred

The Second Part, To the same Tune.
[boxed cuts]

HOwever that some have boasted,
the hazard of it we have run,
And through extremities have posted
For no King but the old Kings Son.

45: If any man claim Charles's Right
for whate're his Father hath done,
Death on him hath wrought his spight;
No King but the old Kings Son.

If he was of the Roman faction,
no favour here he should have won,
But now we are all in great distraction,
No King but the old Kings Son.

And moreover understand,
illuminations did us draw
55: To fight for our freedome, and
to keep our enemies in awe.

A Proclamation then was made,
which no person can deny,
And the world they did perswade
It was for th'Subjects liberty.

And afterwards to make amends,
when three Nations were undone,
They were for their private ends,
the Souldiers lost, that all had wonne.

65: Then many thousands were disbanded,
which before had won the day;
Great Persons then dealt underhanded,
and deceiv'd us of our Pay:

Which makes us now live discontented,
and repent what we have done;
By poverty we were tormented,
For no King but the old Kings Son.

If a single Person we must honer,
these Lands in union for to bring,
75: And must fight under his Banner,
let us have our lawfull King.

Great Jove unite our hearts together,
our Priviledges to maintaine,
And send us good and pleasant weather,
that our Rightfull Prince may raigne.

London, Printed for Charles Tyus

on London-Bridge.

[4] .úúcoloph. Tyus] Yyus