First included in “Dramatic Romances”, 1845, the Pied Piper of Hamelin was written while Robert Browning was still relatively unknown outside literary circles. The poem tells the tale of the town of Hamelin in Brunswick (Germany) which is overrun by a plague of rats. In desperation the townspeople descend on the mayor demanding a solution when
… in did come the strangest figure!
His queer long coat from heel to head
Was half of yellow and half of red
The piper offers to rid the town of rats for 1,000 guilders which is eagerly accepted. Playing strange music on his pipe he leads the rats to the river Weser where they drown. He returns for his reward but is only offered 50 guilders. Enraged he plays again and now the children follow him to a hill called Koppenburg where a door opens and they all disappear inside.
Both facets of the tale are illustrated on the jug, with the mayor and council watching the rats depart on one side and the piper leading the children through the streets on the other. A version of the story is recorded on the base.