A PEPYSIAN GARLAND - online book

Black-letter Broadside Ballads Of The years 1595-1639

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The cries of the dead
Pepys, i, 116, B.L., three woodcuts, four columns.
Richard Price, weaver, was a genuine monster if our ballad can be trusted —such a monster that only Dickens, perhaps, could have painted him in true colours. The ballad is decidedly unpleasant but has some sociological value. If it had a large contemporary circulation, Price may well have found a partizan jury and a hostile audience when he appeared for trial. Un­happily official documents, like those printed in Jeaffreson's Middlesex County Records, prove that barbarous treatment of apprentices was only too common. For example {pp. cit., m, 239), on October 8, 1655, Mathew Nicholas was discharged from his apprenticeship to an Uxbridge tool-maker, William Lovejoy, because it was proved that Lovejoy had grossly mistreated the boy, "tyinge and fetteringe him to the shoppe, and that the said master his wife and mother did most cruelly and inhumanely beate his said apprentice, and also whip'd him until he was very blooddy and his flesh rawe over a great part of his body, and then salted him, and held him naked to the fyre, beinge soe salted to add to his paine."
"Ned Smith," a ballad, was entered at Stationers' Hall for transfer on December 14, 1624 (Arber's Transcript, iv, 131; Roxburghe Ballads, 11, 465). It is to be sung to the oft-mentioned tune of Dainty, come thou to me (cf. Chappell's Popular Music, 11, 517). The date of the present ballad is perhaps about 1625.
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