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The Black Man

probably before 1633; Francis Kirkman's The Wits, or Sport upon Sport, Part II, 1673
author of text

The only extant English version of The Black Man appears in Francis Kirkman’s The Wits, or Sport upon Sport (Part II, 1673). However, the style seems considerably earlier and a Dutch version, Monsieur Sullemans Soete Vryagi, dated 1633—although by no means identical—has many common factors, suggesting it could have been derived from the English Jig, possibly the result of one of Kemp’s tours. Interestingly, a similar Jig entitled Mum, was performed by Hamburg comedians in 1674, the year after Kirkman’s publication. No tune titles are given.

The Black Man, a pedlar of boot polish, stove black, ironware etc
Thumpkin, a country clown
Two Gentlemen, city bullies/pimps
Brush, a brush pedlar
Susan, a barmaid

In a touching pastoral scene, sweethearts Thumpkin and Susan declare their love. They are interrupted by the Two Gentlemen, who kidnap Susan. Disguised as an old man, Thumpkin returns to rescue her and, while her captors are fighting over her, the young couple escape. The Gentlemen catch up with them again and, in revenge, force Thumpkin to stand on a stool covered by a sheet and command him only to cry ‘Mum’. A passing brush pedlar takes Thumpkin for a ghost. Deciding to have some fun, Thumpkin changes his ‘Mum’ to a devilish ‘Ho ho’ and at first frightens The Black Man (whose blackened face may, like the collier, have associated him with the devil). The two friends change places and the returning Gentlemen are scared away, first by the ‘ghostly’ Black Man’s ‘Ho ho!’ from under the sheet, and then by—the now also blackened—Thumpkin whom they take to be the devil.

from notes by Lucie Skeaping © 2009


The English Stage Jig


Part 01: Quoth John to Joan  Sweet Susan, remember the words I have said (Thumpkin/Susan)
Track 1 on CDA67754 [2'40]
Part 02: The Indian Queen  Y'are well overtaken—wither, sir, so fast? (Gentleman 1/Thumpkin/Gentleman 2)
Track 2 on CDA67754 [1'51]
Part 03: Prithee love turn to me  Come sweetheart, look not sadly (Gentleman 2/Susan/Gentleman 1)
Track 3 on CDA67754 [1'20]
Part 04: Walsingham  As ye came from Walsingham (Thumpkin/Gentleman 2/Gentleman 1)
Track 4 on CDA67754 [3'03]
Part 05: Jog On  Jog on, jog on, my pretty Susan (Thumpkin/Susan/Gentleman 1/Gentleman 2)
Track 5 on CDA67754 [1'19]
Part 06: Prince Rupert's March  In this same plight, sir, thus disquis'd (Gentleman 1/Thumpkin/Gentleman 2)
Track 6 on CDA67754 [1'33]
Part 07: Greys Inn Mask  Come buy a brush for all your cloathes (Brush/Thumpkin)
Track 7 on CDA67754 [2'16]
Part 08: Heartsease  O woe is me (Thumpkin)
Track 8 on CDA67754 [1'38]
Part 09: The Gelding of the Devil  Black do I cry, will you any of me buy? (The Black Man/Thumpkin)
Track 9 on CDA67754 [1'30]
Part 10: Grim King of the Ghosts  Man, forbear this place (Thumpkin/The Black Man)
Track 10 on CDA67754 [2'15]
Part 11: Peg a Ramsey  Our sentinel keeps well his standing (Gentleman 1/The Black Man/Gentleman 2/Thumpkin)
Track 11 on CDA67754 [2'18]

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