How King HENRY the 8th used to visit the Watches in
the City, and how he came Acquainted with a Merry and
T was the Custom of King Henry the 8th to walk late in the Night into the City disguised, to take notice how the Constables and Watch performed their Duty ; not only in carefully Guarding the City Gates, but also in diligent Watching the Inward parts of the said City, that so they might prevent those Disturbances and Casualties which often happens in great and Populous Cities in the Night. This he did oftentimes, without the least discovery who he was. Returning home to White-Hall early in the Morning. Now in his return Home through the Strand, he took notice of a certain Cobler, who was constantly up and at work, whistling and Singing every Morning, he therefore resolved to see him, and be acquainted with him : in order to which, he immediately knocks off the Heel of his Shooe, by hiting it against the Stones ; Having so done, he bounced at the Coblers Stall. Who's there ? Crys the Cobler. Here is one, saith the King. With that the Cobler opened his Stall Door, and the King asked him, If he could set on his Heel again ? Yes that I can, says the Cobler. Come in Honest Fellow, and sit thee down by me, and I will do it for you strait,
the Cobler scraping his Awls and old Shooes to one side, to make room for the King to sit by him. The King being hardly able to forbear Laughing at the kindness of the Cobler, asked him if there was not a House hard-by which sold a cup of Ale, where the People were up ? Yea, ( said the Cobler ) there is an Inn over the way, where I believe the Folk of the House are up ; for the Carriers go from thence very early in a Morning. With that the King borrowed an old Shooe of the Cobler, and went over to the Inn, desiring the Cobler to bring his Shooe to him thither, so soon as he had put the Heel on again ; the Cobler promised he would. So making what haste he could to put the Heel on, he carried it over to the King, saying, Honest Blade, here is thy Shooe again : I'le warrant it will not come off in haste. Very well, said the King, What must you have for your pains ? A couple of Pence ( answered the Cobler ). Well, said the King, because thou art an honest merry Fellow, her is a Tester for thee. Come, sit thee down by me, I will drink to thee a whole Pot ; Here's a good Health to the King. With all my Heart, said the Cobler, I will pledge thee, were it Water. So the Cobler sat himself down by the King, and was very Merry, and drank off his Liquor very freely : He also sung some of his Merriest Songs and Ketches, whereat the King Laughed heartily, and was very Pleasant and Jocond with the Cobler: Telling him withal, that his Name was Harry Tudor, and that he belonged to the Court, and if he would come and see him there, he would make him very Welcome, because he was such pleasant merry Company ; and charged him to be there, and not to forget his Name, but to ask any one for him about the Court, and they would bring you to me : For ( said the King ) I am very well known at the Court. Now the Cobler little dream'd that it was the King which spake to him much less that the King's Name was Harry Tuder. Therefore with, a great deal of Confidence, he stands up and pulls off his Hat, and makes two or three fine Scrapes with his Leg, gives the King many Thanks ; withal, telling him, that he was one of the honestest Fellows he ever met withal in his Life-time. And ( though he had never been at Court ) yet it should not be long before he would make a Holy-day to come and see him. Hereupon the King discharging the House for what they had drank, would have taken his leave of the Cobler. But the Cobler taking him by the Hand, said, By my Faith, you must not go yet, you shall first go and see my poor Habitation ; I have there a Tub of good Nappy Ale was never Tap yet,
you must geeds go and taste of it : For you are the honestest merriest Blade that I ever met withal, and I love an honest merry Companion withal my Heart.
O the Cobler took the King with him over the way, where he had a Cellar adjoyning to his Stall, which was handsomely and neatly Furnished, for a poor Man of his Profession : Into this Cellar he had the King, There, saith he, sit down, you are Welcome ; but I must desire you to speak softly, for fear of waking my Wife Joan, who lies here hard by ( shewing the King a close Bed made neatly up at one corner of the Celler, much like unto a Closet ) and if she awake, she will up with such a Juniper Lecture, will make your Ears ding again. At which speech of the Coblers, the King Laugh'd, and told him, He would be mindful to observe his Directions. With that the Cobler kindled a Fire, and fetcht out his brown Loaf, from which he cut a lusty Tost, which he set a baking at the Fire, then he brought out his Cheshire Cheese, Come ( saith the Cobler) will you eat some Cheshire Cheese; there is as good fellowship in Eating, as well as Drinking ; which made the King admire the honest freedom of the Cobler. So having eat a bit, the Cobler began a Health, to all true Hearts and merry Companions : At which the King smiled, said, God-a-mercy Friend, I will Pledg you. In this manner they Eat together, until it was almost break of Day ; the Cobler being very free of his Liquor, and delighting the King with several of his old Stories, insomuch that the King was highly pleased with the manner of the Cobler's entertainment. When of a sudden, the Cobler's Wife Joan began to awake, Ffaith ( saith the Cobler ) you must be gone now, my Wife Joan begins to Grumble, she will wake presently ; and I would not for half the Shooes in my Shop, she should find you here. So taking the King by the Hand, he led him up Stairs, saying, Farewel honest Blade, it shall not be long before I will make a Holy-day, and come see thee at Court : You shall be welcom, replied the King. So they both parted, the King on his way to White-Hall, and the Cobler to his Cellar, putting all things to rights again before his Wife Joan arose, went to Work again Whistling and Singing, as merrily as he use to do. Being much
satisfied that he had happened on so good a Companion, and much pleasing himself in his Thoughts, how merry he should be when he came to Court.
Ow as soon as the King came Home, he sent out Orders about the Court, That if any enquired for him by the Name of Harry Teuder, they should immediately bring the Person before him where-ever he was, without any further Examination of him. Now the Cobler thought every Day a Month till he had been at Court, to see his new Acquaintance was much troubled how he should get leave of his Wife Joan, for he could not go without her knowledg, by reason he did resolve to make himself as Fine as he could ; for his Wife always kept the Keys of his Holy day Clothes.Whereupon one Evening as they sat at Supper, finding her in a very good Humour, he began to lay open his Mind to her, telling her the whole story of his new Acquaintance ; repeating it over and over again, that he was the honestest Fellow that ever he met withal. Husband ( quoth she ) because you have been son ingenuous to tell me the whole truth, I will give you leave to make a Holy-day for this once ; you shall go to Court, and I will make you as Fine as I can : So it was agreed that he should go the next Day. Whereupon Joan arose betimes the next Morning to brush up her Husbands Holy-day Clothes, and to make them look as smug as she could : She washt and iron'd his Lace Band, and made his Shooes shine that he might see his Face in 'em. Having done this, she made her Husband to arise and pull off his Shirt, then she washt him with warm Water from Head to Foot, putting him on a clean Shirt ; afterwards she dressed him in his Holy-day Clothes, pinning on his Lace-Band in Pimleco.
He Cobler being thus set forth, strutted through the Streets like a Crow in a gutter, thinking himself as Fine as the best Courtier of them all. In this manner he came to Court, staring on this
Body and that Body as he walkt up and down, and not knowing who to ask for Harry Teudor ; at last he espied one as he thought in the habit of a Serving-man, to him he makes his Address: Saying, Dost thou hear honest Fellow, do you know one Harry Teuder, which belongs to the Court ? Yes, said the Man, follow me and I will bring you to him ; with that he had him up into the Guard Chamber, telling one of the Yeomen of the Guard, there was one that enquired for Harry Teuder Replied the Yeoman, I konw him very well, If you will please to go along with me, I will bring you to him immediately. So the Cobler followed the Yeoman, much admiring the finery of the Rooms he went through. He thought within himself, that the Yeoman was mistaken in the Person he enquired after : He therefore pulled him back by the Coat, and told him that he did believe, he was mistaken in the Person whom he enquired after. For ( saith he ) him who I look for is a plain merry honest Fellow; his Name is Harry Teudor : We drank two Pots together not long since. I suppose he may belong to some Lord, or other about the Court. I tell you, Friend, replied the Yeoman, I know him very well : Do but follow me, and I shall bring you to him strait. So going forward, he came at last to the Room where the King was, accompanied with several of his Nobles who attended him.
As soon as the yeoman had put by the Arras, he spoke aloud, saying, May it please your Majesty, here is one that enquires for Harry Teudor. The Cobler hearing this, thought he had committed no less than Treason, therefore he up with his Heels and runs for it. But not being acquainted with the several Turnings and Rooms through which he came, he was soon overtaken and brought before the King, whom the Cobler little thought to be the Person he enquired after : Therefore in a trembling condition, he fell down upon his Knees, saying, May it please your Grace, may it please your Highness, I am a poor Cobler, and enquired for one Harry Teudor, who is a very honest Fellow, I mended the Heel of his Shooe not long since ; for which he paid me nobly, and gave me two or three Pots to boot : And I had him over afterwards to my Cellar, where we drank part of a Tub of Nappy Ale, and was very merry, until my Wife Joan began to Grumble, which put an end to our Merriment for that time. But I told him, I would come to the Court and see him as soon as conveniently I could. Well, said the King, be not troubled : Do you know this honest Fellow again if you see
him ? Yea, that I do from a thousand ( replied the Cobler ). Then, said the King, stand up and be not afraid, but look well about you, peradventure you may find this honest Fellow amongst this Company. Whereupon the Cobler arose and looked wishfully upon the King, and the rest of his Nobles, but to little or no purpose. For though he saw something in the King's Face which he thought he had seen before, yet he could not immagine him to be Harry Teudor, whose Heel of his Shooe he had mended, and who had been so merry with him, both at the Inn, and at his own Cellar. He therefore told the King, he did not expect to find Harry Teudor among such fine Folks as he saw there ; but that the Person that he looked for, was a plain honest true hearted Fellow. Adding withal , That he was sure, that did Harry Teudor but know that he was come to Court, he would make him welcom. At which speech of the Cobler's, the King had much ado to forbear Laughing out-right ; but keeping his Countenance as steady as he could, he spoke to the Yeoman of the Guard, Here ( saith he ) take down this honest Cobler into my Cellar, and let him drink my Health, I will take order that Harry Teudor shall come to him presently. So away went the Cobler ready to leap out of his Skin for Joy, not only that he had come off so well, but also that he should find his Friend Harry Teudor.
He Cobler had not been long in the King's Cellar, before the King came to him in the same Habit which he had on when the Cobler mended the Heel of his Shooe ; whereupon the Cobler knew him, and run and embraced him: Saying, Honest Harry, I have made a Holy-day on purpose to come and see you ; but I had much ado to get leave of my Wife Joan, who was loth I should lose so much time from my Work : But I was resolved to see you, I therefore made my self as Fine as I could. But ( I'le tell you Harry ) when I came to Court, I was in a peck of troubles how to find you out ; but at last I met with a Man who told me he knew you very well, and that he would bring me to you ; but in stead of doing so, he brought me before the King, which had almost frighted me out of my seven senses. But in Good faith ( added the Cobler)I am resolved to be merry with you, since I have had the good fortune to meet with you at last. I,
I, that you shall, replied the King, we will be as merry as Princes. With that he call'd for a large Glass of Wine and drank to the Cobler, the King's good Health. God-a-mercy, said the Cobler, honest Harry, I will Pledg thee with all my Heart. Now after the Cobler had drank about four or five good Healths, he began to be Merry and fell a Singing some of his old Songs and Ketches ; which pleased the King very much, and made him Laugh heartily. When of a sudden several of the Nobles came into the cellar, extraordinarily rich in Apparel, who all stood bare to Harry Teudor, which put the Cobler into a great amazement at first, but recovering himself, he lookt more wishfully upon Harry Teudor ; when presently he knew him to be the King, which he saw in the Presence-Chamber, tho in other Habit. He immediately fell down upon his Knees, saying, May it please your Grace, may it please your Highness, I am an honest poor Cobler, and mean no harm : No, no, said the King, nor shall receive none here. He commanded him therefore to arise up, and be as Merry as he was before. And though he knew him now to be the King, yet he should use the same freedom with him, as he did when he mended the Heel of his Shooe. This kind speech of the King's and three or four Glasses of Wine more, made the Cobler to be in as good Humour as he was before, telling the King several of his merry Stories, and singing some of his best Songs ; very much to the satisfaction of the King and his Nobles.
Ow the King considering the pleasant Humour of the Cobler, how innocently merry he was, and free from any Designs, and that he was a Person that Laboured very hard, and took a great deal of pains for a small Livelihood, was pleased out of his Princely Grace and Favour, to allow him a liberal Annuity of forty Mark a Year, for the better support of his Jolly Humour, and the Maintenance of himself and his Wife Joan ; and that he should be admitted one of his Court, and that he might have the freedom of his cellar when-ever he pleas'd. Which being so much beyond the Coblers expectation, did highly extenuate the Cobler's Humour, much to the satisfaction of the King. So after a great many Legs and Scrapes, he returned Home to his Wife Joan, with the joyful News of his kind reception at Court ; which so well pleased her, that she did not think much about the great pains she took in tricking him up for that Journey.