King Henry VII and the Shipwrights
[words Rudyard Kipling, tune trad. The Gallant Frigate Amphitrite]
King Henry VII and the Shipwrights is a song from Rudyard Kipling's book Rewards and Fairies. Peter Bellamy sang it on his first album of songs set to Kipling's poems, Oak, Ash & Thorn. He commented in the album's sleeve notes:
Bob Bryngandyne, the hero of this witty ballad, is but a minor character in the story to which it is appended—The Wrong Thing. A traditional tune from Lancashire, The Gallant Frigate Amphitrite is used here.
This is an audience live recording by Peter Bellamy supported by Fairport Convention, from Little Hadham on August 22 1970:
King Henry VII and the Shipwrights
Harry our King in England from London town is gone,
And comen to Hamull on the Hoke in the countie of Suthampton.
For there lay the Mary of the Tower, his ship of war so strong,
for he would discover, certaynely, if his shipwrights did him wrong.
He told not none of his setting forth, nor yet where he would go
(But only my Lord of Arundel), and meanly did he show,
In an old jerkin and patched hose that no man might him mark;
With his frieze hood and cloak about, he looked like any clerk.
He was at Hamull on the Hoke about the hour of the tide,
And saw the Mary haled into dock, the winter to abide,
With all her tackle and habiliments which are the King his own;
But then ran on his false shipwrights and stripped her to the bone.
They heaved the main-mast overboard, that was a trusty tree,
And they wrote down it was spent and lost by force of weather at sea.
But they sawen it into planks and strakes as far as it might go,
To maken beds for their own wives and little children also.
There was a knave called Slingawai, he crope beneath the deck,
Crying: “Good felawes, all you come and see! This ship she is nigh a wreck!
For the storm that took our tall main-mast, it blew so fierce and fell,
Alack! it hath taken the kettles and pans, and this brass pott as well!”
With that he set the pott on his head and hied him up the hatch,
While all the shipwrights ran below to find what they might snatch;
All except Bob Brygandyne and he was a yeoman good,
He caught Slingawai round the waist and threw him on to the mud.
“I have taken plank and rope and nail, without the King his leave,
After the custom of Portesmouth, but I will not suffer a thief.
Nay, never lift up thy hand at me! There's no clean hands in the trade.
But steal in measure,” quo' Brygandyne. “There's measure in all things made!”
“Gramercy, yeoman!” said our King. “Thy counsel liketh me.”
And he pulled a whistle out of his neck and whistled whistles three.
Then came my Lord of Arundel all a-ricking across the down,
And behind him the Mayor and Burgesses of merry Suthampton town.
They drew the naughty shipwrights up, with the kettles in their hands,
And bound them round the forecastle to wait the King's commands.
But “Since ye have made your beds,” said the King, “ye needs must lie thereon.
For the sake of your wives and little ones—felawes, get you gone!”
And when they had beaten Slingawai all out of his own lips,
Our King appointed Brygandyne to be Clerk of all his ships.
“Nay, never lift up thy hands to me—there's no clean hands in the trade.
But steal in measure,”said Harry our King. “There's measure in all things made!”
God speed the Mary of the Tower, the Sovereign and Grace Dieu,
The Sweepstakes and the Mary Fortune, and the Henry of Bristol too!
All tall ships that sail on the sea, or in our harbours stand,
That they may keep measure with Harry our King and peace in Engeland!