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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J. W.: The Royall Oak82

   [undated: before 29 May]

This undated ballad printed for Charles Tyus says little enough about the much venerated Royal Oak itself, but takes the king from the battle field as far as France in the company of Henry Wilmot and Jane Lane: the subsequent legend of the tree itself has been traced by A. M. Broadley.83 This ballad necessarily simplifies along the way: Charles did not leave the battle field accompanied only by Wilmot, or stop in the oak on the first night, for example. The narrative of events given here reappears in an identical sequence in the next ballad by Henry Jones.

   Although the ballad bears the initials "J., W," authorship remains uncertain. Despite the peculiarity of the punctuation -- initials usually put first name first -- Ebsworth suggests that this ballad is "probably" by John Wade. He also assigns "J. W."'s The King and Kingdomes Joyful Day of Triumph to Wade (RB, 9:33-34). But in neither instance does he provide supporting evidence, and I have found none. This latter ballad was printed for John Andrews who also published "J. W."'s "A Second Charles Once more Shall Reign." Weber notes: "In A Bibliography of the Literature Relating to the Escape and Preservation of King Charles II after the Battle of Worcester, 3rd September, 1651 (Aberdeen: University Press, 1924), William Arthur Horrox suggests the uncertainty of the ascription to Wade, and provides a tentative date of 1660 for publication".84 Since nothing is added to the printed accounts of Worcester available since 1651, and since the king's "presence" is "proclaimed" (lines 6, 11) but not described, we may presume that the ballad appeared early in 1660, before Charles actually arrived.


[82] Wing: /not Wing/. bl brs. Copies: GU Euing 308. Reprint: Ebsworth, RB, 9:65-66.

[83] See Broadley, The Royal Miracle.

[84] Weber, Paper Bullets, p. 221 n1.

The Royall Oak:
The wonderfull travells, miraculous escapes, strange accidents of
his sacred Majesty King Charles the Second.

1: How from Worcester fight by a good hap, Our Royall King made an escape;
2: How he dis-rob'd himself of things that precious were,
3: And with a knife cut off his curled hair;
4: How a hollow Oak his palace was as then, And how King Charles became a serving-man
5: To the Tune of, in my freedom is all my Joy.


1: COme friends and unto me draw near
2: A sorrowfull dity you shall hear,
3: You that deny your lawfull Prince
4: Let Conscience now your faults convince,
5: And now in love and not in fear,
6: Now let his presence be your joy,
7:      whom God in mercy would not destroy.

8: The relation that here I bring
9: Concerning Charles our Royall King,
10: Through what dangers he hath past
11: And is proclaimed King at last;
12: The Princes sorrows we will sing
13: Which the fates sorely did anoy
14:      and God in mercy would not destroy.

15: After Worcester most fatall fight
16: When that King Charles was put to flight,
17: When many men their lives laid down
18: To bring their Soveraign to the Crown,
19: The which was a most glorious sight;
20: Great was his Majesties convoy
21:      whom God in mercy would not destroy.

22: In Worcester battle fierce and hot,
23: His horse twice under him was shot,
24: And by a wise and prudent thrift
25: To save his life was forc'd to shift,
26: Without difficulty it was not:
27: Providence did him safely convoy
28:      whom God in mercy would not destroy.

29: And being full of discontents
30: Stript off his Princely Ornaments,
31: Thus full of troubles and of cares,
32: A knife cut off his curled hairs,
33: Whereby the hunters he prevents:85
34: God did in mercy him convoy
35:      So that they could not him destroy.

36: A chain of gold he gave away
37: Worth three hundred pounds that day,
38: In this disguise by honest thrift
39: Command all for themselves to shift,
40: With one friend doth night and day:
41: Poor Prince alone to Gods convoy
42:      His foes they could not him destroy.

43: These two wandred into a Wood
44: Where a hollow Oak there stood,
45: And for his precious lives dear sake
46: Did of that Oak his palace make,
47: His friend towards night provided food,
48: So their precious lives the did enjoy
49:      whom God in mercy would not destroy

50: Lord Willmot most valiant and stout,
51: He was pursued by the Rout,
52: Was hid in a fiery kiln of Mault
53: And so escaped the Souldiers assault,
54: Which searched all the house about,
55: Not dreaming the kiln was his convoy
56:      which God in mercy would not destroy.


[85] On lines 29-33, see Weber, Paper Bullets, p. 41.

The Second Part,
To the same Tune.


57: ANd relates King Charles his miseries,
58: Which forces tears from tender eyes;
59: Mistrisse Lane entreats him earnestly,
60: For to find out his Majesty,
61: And him to save she would devise,
62: Unto her house they him convoy,
63: Whom God, &c.

64: King Charles a livery Cloak wore than,
65: And became a Servingman,
66: And Westward rode towards the Sea,
67: Intended transported to be,
68: And Mistrisse Lane now please he can,
69: Which was the Kings fastest convoy,
70: Whom God, &c.

71: The Captain commanded his men,
72: To the Right and Left to open then,
73: For harmlesse Travellers he them did take
74: And an intervall for them did make,
75: And so they passed on again
76: Unto King Charles's no small joy.
77: Whom God, &c.

78: His Mistresse coming to her In
79: Left William her man in the Kitchin;
80: The Cook maid askt where he was born,
81: And what Trade that he did learn:
82: To frame his excuse he did begin,
83: Thus his sorrow was turnd to joy,
84: Whom God, &c.

85: To answer mild he thus begun,
86: At Brumigan a Nailers son:
87: When said the maid the Jack stands still,
88: Pray wind it up if that you will,
89: Which he did, suspition to shun,
90: And somewhat did the same annoy,
91: Yet did not the same quite destroy.

92: As those that were by do say
93: He went about it the wrong way,
94: Which angred the Maid the same to see,
95: She call'd him a clownish Boobee
96: In all my life that ever I saw:
97: Her railing caus'd him laugh for joy.
98: Whom God, &c.

99: After many weeks in jeopardy,
100: He was wafted into Normandy,
101: The God of Heaven for his person car'd,
102: The Ship-Paster had a great reward.
103: Thus the good Prince from hence did flye,
104: To suffer hardship he was not coy.
105: Which now will be this nations joy.

   FINIS. J. W.

   London, Printed for Charles Tyus on London-Bridge.