Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

300 traditional songs, inc sheet music with full piano accompaniment & lyrics.

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OLD KING COLE.
OLD KING COLE.
439
It seems to be established that there was an ancient king of Britain named King Cole, and tradition places him in the third century. There was a famous cloth-manufacturer, of Reading, England, whose nickname of King Cole became proverbial through an apparently popular story-book of the sixteenjf century, and "Old Cole" was a standing nickname among the dramatists of the Elizabethan age. So it is not to be wondered at that the name should be celebrated in a ballad. The original song probably gave birth to the idea of " Johnny Schmoker;" for there were innumerable stanzas, with words to imitate tbe instrument called for, and the whole list was repeated at the close of each stanza.
" The harpers three, twang-a-twang," " The armorers three, rub-a-dub," etc.
Two stanzas of the modern song run thus :
Old King Cole, though a merry old soul,
Nor read nor write could he; For to read and write, 'twere useless, quite,
When he kept a secretary. So his mark for " Rex" was a single " X "
And his drink was ditto dOURle; For he scorned the fetters of four-and-twenty letters,
And it sav'd him a vast deal of trOURle.
For Old King Cole, etc.
On Old King Cole's left cheek was a mole,
So he called for his secretary ; And he bade him look in a fortune-telling book,
And read him his destiny. And the secretary said, when his fate he had read,
And cast his nativity, A mole on the face boded something would take place,
But not what that something might be.
For Old King Cole, etc.








E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III