Anon., England’s Pleasant May-Flower: or, Charles the Second Came Home the Twenty Ninth of May (1660)

The following anonymous ballad was printed as England’s Pleasant May-Flower: or, Charles the Second Came Home the Twenty Ninth of May (1660). Charles II (1630-1685) arrived in London on 29 May. This ballad is a typical example of the popular royalist songs that greeted and commemorated the Restoration. The ballad references the ‘Tyrannies’ of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), the ‘blood’ spilt during the civil wars, and the exile of the Stuart royal family ‘beyond the Seas’. There are also allusions to the ‘glorious blazing Star’ that supposedly marked the birth of Charles II, a reference that also appears in many of the panegyrics written on the occasion. 29 May became a national holiday, Royal Oak Day: so called because of the famous story that Charles escaped the parliamentarian army by hiding in the oak tree at Boscobel Park.

This song was printed as a broadside with woodcuts, and was intended to be sung to the tune ‘Upon St David’s Day’. A facsimile of the broadside can be found at the English Broadside Ballad Archive here. Embedded below is a recording of this song, from the English Broadside Ballad Archive, also accessible here.


Why should we speak of Caesar’s acts,
or Shimei’s treacheries,
Or of the grand notorious facts
of Cromwell’s tyrannies?
But what we all might gladly sing,
and bravely chant and say,
That Charles the second did come in
the twenty ninth of May.

Since that his royal person went
from us beyond the seas,
Much blood and treasure have been spent
but never obtained peace:
Until the Lord with-held his hand
as we might cheerful say,
And did a healing balsam send
the twenty, etc.

This healing balsam sovereign is,
and a very cordial thing,
Which many evils can suppress
by virtue of a king,
And poisoned blisters overcome
which in three kingdoms lay,
Twas God that sent this balsam home
the twenty, etc.

Surely he is determined,
a mighty king on earth,
That God hath so remembered,
and kept him from his birth:
As David from the lion’s paws
whose beard he bore away.
So Charles the second made good laws
the twenty ninth of May.

The king of Africa subdued
by fire and by sword,
But Charles the second was imbued
with power from the Lord.
Who trained was in David’s field
with prayers night and day.
That he three stately kingdoms held
the twenty, etc.

King David had a general strong,
and Joab was called by name,
He made him Lord of Babylon,
and ruled where ere he came.
But through his spleen with envied quarrels
David did betray.
But our Saint George brought home King Charles
the twenty ninth of May.

Now give me leave to speak so far
as truth might justify,
Of that most glorious blazing star
at his nativity,
The grandest planet of the morn
shined glorious at noon day:
Which was the time King Charles was born
the twenty ninth of May.

I think I could my self engage,
in deep astrology,
To speak what this same star presaged
of glorious majesty
A mighty monarch he shall reign
which makes me chant and say
Now brave King Charles is come again.
the twenty, etc.

It would blunt the pen of any Poet,
to write what may be said,
But to the order honi soit
just tribute shall be paid
For such a prudent gracious king
lets never cease to pray,
He held the sick when he came in
the twenty etc.

Gods holy hand doth him protect
his angels doth him guard,
Likewise his students doth direct,
which makes his foes afraid.
On David’s music we will sing
and bravely chant and say,
The glory of the world came in
the twenty ninth of May.

He always weareth Joshua’s hands
and beareth David’s praise.
And like to upright Job he stands
to wear out Abraham’s days.
He was the wit of Solomon,
and upright in his way.
So like to Joseph he came home
the twenty ninth of May.

Like Daniel he was so devout,
his star did follow him,
In all his tragedies throughout
like that of Bethlehem.
Twelve years he travelled Christendom
that makes me chant and say,
Twas marked out just for his own,
the twenty etc.

Now let all people celebrate
this day which is so pure,
And to be kept by church and state
for ever to endure.
That generations all might see
the honour of the day,
Which everlasting it shall be
the twenty, etc.

So God preserve our gracious king
the Duke of York also,
Defend them from the dragon’s sting
and every Christian foe.
Then let true loyal subjects sing
and bravely chant and say,
The like in England ne’er came in
the twenty ninth of May.