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Charles Lamb (1775-1834)

The King and Queen of Hearts


[Title-page image]

              1[The Queen of Hearts]
              2[She made some Tarts]
              3[All on a Summers day]
              4[The Knave of Hearts]
              5[He stole those Tarts]
              6[And took them quite away]

              7[The King of Hearts]
              8[Call'd for those Tarts]
              9[And beat the Knave full sore]
            10[The Knave of Hearts]
            11[Brought back those Tarts]
            12[And vow'd he'd steal no more]

          [* * * * * * * * *]

1. The Queen of Hearts [Page image]
          1.1        High on a Throne of state is seen
          1.2        She whom all Hearts own for their Queen.
          1.3        Three Pages are in waiting by;
          1.4        He with the umbrella is her Spy,
          1.5        To spy out rogueries in the dark,
          1.6        And smell a rat as you shall mark.

2. She made some Tarts [Page image]
          2.1        The Queen here by the King's commands,
          2.2        Who does not like Cook's dirty hands,
          2.3        Makes the court pastry all herself.
          2.4        Pambo the knave that roguish elf,
          2.5        Watches each sugarly sweet ingredient,
          2.6        And slily thinks of an expedient.

3. All on a Summers day [Page image]
          3.1        Now first of May does summer bring,
          3.2        How bright and fine is every thing!
          3.3        After their dam the chickens run,
          3.4        The green leaves glitter in the sun,
          3.5        While youths and maids in merry dance
          3.6        Round rustic may poles do advance

4. The Knave of Hearts [Page image]
          4.1        When Kings and Queens ariding go,
          4.2        Great Lords ride with them for a show
          4.3        With grooms & courtiers, a great store;
          4.4        Some ride behind, & some before.
          4.5        Pambo the first of these does pass,
          4.6        And for more state rides on an Ass.

5. He stole those Tarts [Page image]
          5.1        Thieves! Thieves! holla, you knavish Jack,
          5.2        Cannot the good Queen turn her back,
          5.3        But you must be so nimble hasty
          5.4        To come and steal away her pastry
          5.5        You think you're safe, there's one sees all,
          5.6        And understands, though he's but small

6. And took them quite away [Page image]
          6.1        How like a thievish Jack he looks!
          6.2        I wish for my part all the cooks
          6.3        Would come and baste him with a ladle
          6.4        As long as ever they were able
          6.5        To keep his fingers ends from itching
          6.6        After sweet things in the Queen's kitchen

7. The King of Hearts [Page image]
          7.1        Behold the King of Hearts how gruff
          7.2        The monarch stands, how square, how bluff!
          7.3        When our eighth Harry rul'd this land,
          7.4        Just like this King did Harry stand;
          7.5        And just so amorous, sweet, and willing,
          7.6        As this Queen stands stood Anna Bullen.

8. Call'd for those Tarts [Page image]
          8.1        The meat removed, and dinner done,
          8.2        The knives are wip'd and cheese put on
          8.3        The King aloud for Tarts does bawl,
          8.4        Tarts, tarts, resound through all the Hall
          8.5        Pambo with tears denies the Fact,
          8.6        But Mungo saw him in the act.

9. And beat the Knave full sore [Page image]
          9.1        Behold the due reward of sin,
          9.2        See what a plight rogue Pambo's in.
          9.3        The King lays on his blows so stout,
          9.4        The Tarts for fear come tumbling out
          9.5        O King! be merciful as just,
          9.6        You'll beat poor Pambo into dust

10. The Knave of Hearts [Page image]
        10.1        How like he looks to a dog that begs
        10.2        In abject sort upon two legs!
        10.3        Good Mr Knave, give me my due,
        10.4        I like a tart as well as you,
        10.5        But I would starve on good roast Beef,
        10.6        Ere I would look so like a thief.

11. Brought back those Tarts [Page image]
        11.1        The Knave brings back the tarts he stole.
        11.2        The Queen swears, that is not the whole.
        11.3        What should poor Pambo do? hard prest
        11.4        Owns he has eaten up the rest.
        11.5        The King takes back as lawful debt,
        11.6        Not all, but all that he can get.

12. And vow'd he'd steal no more [Page image]
        12.1        Lo! Pambo prostrate on the floor
        12.2        Vows he will be a thief no more.
        12.3        O King your heart no longer harden,
        12.4        You've got the tarts, give him his pardon.
        12.5        The best time to forgive a sinner
        12.6        Is always after a good dinner.

[Page image]
        12.7        "How say you, Sir? tis all a joke --
        12.8        Great King's love tarts like other folk!"
        12.9        If for a truth you'll not receive it,
      12.10        Pray, view the picture, and believe it.
      12.11        Sly Pambo too has got a share,
      12.12        And eats it snug behind the chair.

[Page image]
      12.13        Their Majesties so well have fed,
      12.14        The tarts have got up in their head,
      12.15        Or may be 'twas the wine!" hush, gipsey!
      12.16        Great Kings & Queens indeed get tipsey!
      12.17        Now, Pambo, is the time for you:
      12.18        Beat little Tell-Tale black & blue.

Notes

1] Attributed to Charles Lamb on the basis of his claim in a letter of February 1, 1806 (488). The poem's characters resemble the two highest cards in the suit of hearts, King and Queen, and the Jack of Clubs (cf. note to 2.4, and 5.1).

2.4] Pambo: a diminutive (?) of Pam, the knave of clubs and highest card in a game of the same name.

7.3] our eighth Harry: Henry VIII, whose second wife, Anne Boleyn (1507-36; "Anna Bullen" at 7.6), was executed by him for adultery.

8.6] Mungo: a character so-called from the poor-quality wool used in his livery.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, ed. E. V. Lucas, III (London: Methuen, 1903): 336-50. PR 4860 A2 1968 Robarts Library. [From a facsimile owned by Edith Pollock.]
First publication date: 1805
Publication date note: The King and Queen of Hearts Showing how notably the Queen made her Tarts. and how scurvily the Knave stole them away. with other particulars belonging thereunto ([London]: Thomas Hodgkins, 1805). Cf. The king and queen of hearts: with the rogueries of the knave who stole the queen's pies: illustrated in fifteen elegant engravings (London: M. J. Godwin, 1809). PR 4862 K5 1809a Victoria College Special Collections
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/17

Rhyme: aabaab (title stanzas) and aabbcc (sub-stanzas)


Other poems by Charles Lamb