Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

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

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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.