Item of the Week: Prayer of the Old Plodder

Published: March 25, 2010

This curious pamphlet came across our desks today. Purchased in 1948, The Prayer of Old Plodder, a Presbyterian teacher during the late election at Lancaster, in the county of Lancashire is purportedly published in Geneva and printed, for the instruction of the elect, in 1733.

We thought it appropriate, with primary season upon us, to ponder the words of the Old Plodder when they make their plans to get to their polling stations:

“ … and I desire Lord, that thou wouldst be pleased to put I into their Hearts; that they may chearully [sic] and willingly help and assist one another in this necessary Affair; and that those that have no Horses, may borrow of them that have Horses, and that those that have may lend Willingly and not Grudging unto them that has none.”

A four-page quarto, the work is bound, by W. Pratt, in early speckled calf, ruled in gilt with title in gilt on a black spine label. It was recently noted that the book comes from the Britwell Court library, but the armorial stamp on both boards remains unidentified.

The illustration on the title page is unsigned, with the descriptive text in both letterpress and cut from the wood block. But what is it? Our best guess is 14 bottles and a spout for the head. In the 18th century, a plodder was defined as a person who works slowly and laboriously; a persevering toiler; a drudge [OED], but a better clue comes from “An Elegy made by the Wooden-Man in Essex-Street” on pages 3 and 4. This poem is dedicated to the wine-cellars under the meeting-house in Eustace Street, Dublin.

Call number *PR3291 .P921

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