MacLean, Gerald, editor. The Return of the King : An Anthology of English Poems Commemorating the Restoration of Charles II / edited by Gerald MacLean
Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library

| Table of Contents for this work |
| All on-line databases | Etext Center Homepage |

Laurence Price
Win at first, lose at last.

[undated: after 29 May?]

    The narrative here brings events up to the moment after Charles has returned, but only just.

    This ballad evidently became a very popular piece since it was so often reprinted in slightly different forms. Internal evidence suggests that it may have been written in response to what might have been an earlier ballad called A New game at Cards. Or, The three Nimble Shuffling Cheaters. To a pleasant new tune, Or, what you please (nd; O=Wood 401 (147/148), which tells of a game between "three cheaters," an Irishman, a Scot and an "English-man so round."

    Wilkins notes: "This humorous piece, in which the events of the time are narrated in a supposed game of cards, closes the satiric chronicle of the Commonwealth. It is one of the very few ballads, written against the Rump Parliament between the years 1639 and 1661, that is entirely free from licentiousness, virulence, and falsehood" (1:144).

Win at first, lose at last; or, a New Game at Cards;
Wherein the King recovered his Crown and Traitors lost their heads.
To the Tune of, Yee Gallants that delight to play.


YEe merry hearts that love to play
At Cards, see who hath wone the day.
You that once did sadly sing,
The knave oth'Clubs hath wone the King,
5: Now more happy times yee have,
The King hath overcome the Knave,
The King hath overcome the Knave.

Not long ago a Game was playd,
When three Crowns at the stake was layd,
10: England had no cause to boast,
Knaves wone that which Kings had lost,
Coaches gave the way to Carts,
And Clubs were better Cards than Hearts.
And Clubs, &c.

15: Old Noll was the Knave oth'Clubs,
And Dad of such as Preach in Tubs:
Bradshaw, Ireton and Pride,
Were three other Knaves beside,
And they playd with half the Pack,
20: Throwing out all cards but black,
Throwing out, &c.

But the just Fates threw these four out,
Which made the Loyall party shout,
The Pope would fain have had the Stock,
25: And with these Cards have wip'd his Dock,
But soon the Devill these Cards snatches,
To dip in brimstone and make matches,
To dip in, &c.

But still the sport for to maintain,
30: Lambert, Hasleridge, and Vane,
And one-ey'd Hewson, took their places,
Knaves were better Cards than Aces,
But Fleetwood hee himself did save
Because hee was more Fool than Knave.
35:           Because, &c.

Cromwell, though hee so much had wone,
Yet hee had an unlucky Son:
Hee sits still and not regards
Whilst cunning Gamesters set the Cards,
40: And thus alasse, poore silly Dick,
He playd a while, but lost the trick,
He playd, &c.

The Rumpers that had wone whole Towns,
The spoyls of Mytres, and of Crowns:
45: Were not contented but grew rough,
As though they had not wone enough,
They kept the Cards still in their hands,
To play for Tythes, and Colledge Lands,
To play, &c.


50: THe Presbyters began to fret,
That they were like to lose the set,
Unto the Rump they did appeal,
And said it was their turns to deal,
Then dealt the Presbyterians, but
55: The Army sware, that they would cut.
The Army sware, that they would cut.

The Forain Lands began to wonder,
To see what Gallants wee liv'd under,
That they which Christmasse did forswear
60: Should follow Gameing all the year,
Nay more, which was the strangest thing,
To play so long without a King,
To play, &c.

The bold Phanaticks present were,
65: Like Butlers with their boxes there,
Not doubting, but with every Game
Some profit would redownd to them,
Because they were the Gamsters Minions,
And every day broach'd new Opinions.
70:           And every, &c.

But Cheshire men (as Stories say)
Began the shew them Gamesters play.
Brave Booth, 1 and all his Army strives,
To save the stakes, or lose their lives.
75: But Oh sad fate! they were undone,
By playing of their cards too soon,
By playing, &c.

Thus all the while a Club was Trump,
There's none could ever beat the Rump,
80: Until a Noble General came
And gave the Cheaters a clear slamm,
His finger did out-wit their noddy,
And screw'd up poor Jack Lamberts body,
And screw'd, &c.

85: Then Hasilrig began to scowl,
And said the General plaid foul,
Look to him Partners, for I tell yee,
This Monk had got a King in's belly,
Not so, quoth Monk, but I beleeve,
90: Sir Arthur has a Knave in's sleeve,
Sir Arthur, &c.

Then General Monk did understand
The Rump were peeping into's hand,
Hee wisely kept his Cards from sight,
95: Which put the Rump into a fright,
Hee saw how many were betray'd,
That shew'd their Cards before they play'd,
That shew'd, &c.

At length, quoth hee, some Cards we lack,
100: I will not play with half a pack,
What you cast out, I will bring in,
And a new game we will begin;
With that the Standers by did say,
They never yet saw fairer play,
They never, &c.

But presently this game was past,
And for a second Knaves were cast,
All new Cards, not stain'd with spots,
As was the Rumpers and the Scots,
110: Here good Gamesters play'd their parts
They turn'd up the King oth'Hearts,
They turn'd, &c.

After this Game was done, I think
The Standers by had cause to drink,
115: And the Loyal Subjects sing,
Farewel Knaves, and welcome King,
For till wee saw the King return'd,
Wee wish'd the Cards had all been burn'd,
Wee wish'd the Cards had all been burn'd.


London, Printed for Fran. Grove on Snow-hill. Entred according to Order.

[1]In July 1659, Sir George Booth captured Chester as the start of his attempt to reintroduce monarchy. he was shortly after defeated and captured by Lambert's troops who recovered the city.