A PEPYSIAN GARLAND - online book

Black-letter Broadside Ballads Of The years 1595-1639

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Commendation of porters
Pepys, i, 196, B.L., three columns. There is one large cut (here repro­duced) in which a porter is first depicted as standing idle with an empty basket, next as walking with a heavy load in his basket, and finally as setting out in holiday costume for a meeting of his society. Above the figures are printed the headings, "At the first went we, as here you see," "But since our Corporation, on this fashion," "And to our Hall, thus we goe all."
Nobody will deny the interest of this account of how the 1041 porters in London formed a corporation and secured a Hall for meetings. Here we see a worshipful company in the making! More interesting, however, is the author. Thomas Brewer is now remembered because of his prose tract The Merry Devil of Edmonton, which was registered for publication on April 5, 1608. The ballad, which is omitted in the list of Brewer's publica­tions given in the Dictionary of National Biography, was registered on June 15, 1605 (Arber's Transcript, in, 292). No early copy of The Merry Devil'is extant; but from the ballad it is evident that in 1605-1608 Brewer was "flourishing." He appears, further, to have been a common person who applauded manual labour; and the entry at Stationers' Hall on January 14, 1609 {ibid. p. 399) of "A ballad made by Thomas Brew[er]. of the Twoo monstruous births in Devon and Plymmouth in November last" indicates that he was, like Antony Munday, more or less a professional ballad-writer. Like Munday, too, he wrote a number of dramatic com­positions. His A knot of Fooles, preserved in editions of 1624 and 1658, was almost certainly, I think, the Knott of Fooles that, along with Shake­speare's Tempest and twelve other court entertainments (see the list in H. H. Furness's New Variorum Tempest, p. 275), was performed before the Princess Elizabeth and Frederick, the Elector Palatine, in 1613. His ideals of poetry are sufficiently revealed by the fact that in 1630 he contributed highly laudatory verses to the folio edition of the works of John Taylor, the Water Poet. Possibly he was the "Thom: Brewer, my Mus: Servant, [who] through his proneness to goodfellowshippe. . .at­tained to a very rich and rubicund nose," mentioned by Sir Nicholas Lestrange (1603-1655) (Anecdotes and Traditions, ed. W. J. Thorns, Camden Society, 1839, p. 76).
The tune is unknown.
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