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Since thow both man and beste doest move,
What beste ys he, wyll the disprove?


King Cophetua and the Beggar-Maid, Is a story often alluded to by our old dramatic writers. Shakspeare in his Romeo and Juliet, act ii. sc. I, makes

Mercutio say,

“Her [Venus's) purblind son and heir, Young Adam* Cupid, he that shot so true,

When King Cophetua loved the beggar-maid.” As the 13th line of the following ballad seems here particularly alluded to, it is not improbable but Shakspeare wrote it shot so trim, which the players or printers, not perceiving the allusion, might alter to true. The former, as being the more humorous expression, seems most likely to have come from the mouth of Mercutio.t

In the 2d Part of Hen. IV. act v. sc. 3, Falstaff is introduced affectedly saying to Pistoll,

“O base Assyrian knight, what is thy news ?

Let king Cophetua know the truth thereof." These lines Dr. Warburton thinks were taken from an old bombast play of King Cophetua. No such play is, I believe, now to be found; but it does not therefore follow that it never existed. Many dramatic pieces are referred to by old writers, which are not now extant, or even men

See above, preface to Song i. Book ii. of this vol. p. 158. + Since this conjecture was first made, it has been discovered that shot so trim was the genuine reading. See Shakspeare, edit. 1793, xiv. 393.

tioned in any list. * In the infancy of the stage, plays were often exhibited that were never printed.

It is probably in allusion to the same play, that Ben Jonson says in his Comedy of Every Man in his Humour, act iii. sc. 4.,

“I have not the heart to devour thee, an' I might be made as rich as King Cophetua." At least there is no mention of King Cophetua's riches in the present ballad, which is the oldest I have met with on the subject.

It is printed from Rich. Johnson's Crown Garland of Goulden Roses, 1612, 12mo. (where it is entitled simply, A Song of a Beggar and a King): corrected by another copy.


I READ that once in Affrica
A princely wight did raine,
Who had to name Cophetua,

As poets they did faine :
From natures lawes he did decline,
For sure he was not of


He cared not for women-kinde,

But did them all disdaine.
But, marke, what hapned on a day,
As he out of his window lay,
He saw a beggar all in gray,

The which did cause his paine.


Arte of Eng. Poes. 1589,

See Mere's Wits Treas. fol. 283. pp. 51. 111, 143. 169.


The blinded boy, that shootes so trim,

From heaven downe did hie;
He drew a dart and shot at him,

In place where he did lye :
Which soone did pierse him to the quicke,
And when he felt the arrow pricke,
Which in his tender heart did sticke,

He looketh as he would dye.
What sudden chance is this, quoth he,
That I to love must subject be,
Which never thereto would agree,

But still did it defie ?




Then from the window he did come,

And laid him on his bed.
A thousand heapes of care did runne

Within his troubled head :
For now he meanes to crave her love,
And now he seekes which way to proove
How he his fancie might remoove,

And not this beggar wed.
But Cupid had him so in snare,
That this poor begger must prepare
A salve to cure him of his

care, Or els he would be dead.


And, as he musing thus did lye,

He thought for to devise
How he might have her companye,

That so did 'maze his eyes.


In thee, quoth he, doth rest my life;
For surely thou shalt be my wife,
Or else this hand with bloody knife

The Gods shall sure suffice.
Then from his bed he soon arose,
And to his pallace gate he goes ;
Full little then this begger knowes

When she the king espies.



The gods preserve your majesty,

The beggers all gan cry:
Vouchsafe to give your charity

Our childrens food to buy.
The king to them his pursse did cast,
And they to part it made great haste;
This silly woman was the last

That after them did hye.
The king he cald her back againe,
And unto her he


his chaine; With shal remaine Till such time as we dye :


And said,

us you


For thou, quoth he, shalt be my wife,

And honoured for my queene ;
With thee I meane to lead my life,

As shortly shall be seene :
Our wedding shall appointed be,
And every thing in its degree :
Come on, quoth he, and follow me,

65 Thou shalt


shift thee cleane.
What is thy name, faire maid ? quoth he.
Penelophon,* O king, quoth she:
With that she made a lowe courtsèy ;

A trim one as I weene.



Thus hand in hand along they walke

Unto the king's pallàce :
The king with courteous comly talke

This begger doth imbrace :
The begger blusheth scarlet red,
And straight againe as pale as lead,
But not a word at all she said,

She was in such amaze.
At last she spake with trembling voyce,
And said, O king, I doe rejoyce
That you wil take me for vour choyce,

And my degree's so base.



And when the wedding day was come,

The king commanded strait
The noblemen both all and some

Upon the queene to wait.
And she behaved herself that day,

* Shakspeare (who alludes to this ballad in his Love's Labour Lost, act iv. sc. 1,) gives the Beggar's name Zenelophon, according to all the old editions : but this seems to be a corruption ; for Penelophon, in the text, sounds more like the name of a woman. The story of the King and the Beggar is also alluded to in King Rich. II. act v. sc. 3.

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