It’s an interesting example of the dynamic Leon Jackson described in the essay I quoted yesterday. The boys wanted money. They appealed to their customers’ sense of charity. Yet they also represented that money as part of a gift exchange, in which they offered their donors entertainment and a blessing.
The CARRIERS“Tom Bowling” was the name of an archetypal British sailor as portrayed in Tobias Smollett’s Adventures of Roderick Random (1748) and a song by Charles Dibdin (1788).
Patrons and Friends!
Independent, dependent, depending,
The CHRONICLE lads, for once, are seen bending;
Not bending like party, that’s bent on one side;
But bent like Tom Bowling who curves to the tide;
That is in plain English, or French, if you chuse;
We BEG once a year, for hat, coat, and shoes;
Not caring, as beggars, who gives us the pence;
Both Beggar and Chooser, is want of good sense.
Since Custom ordains, that good wishes must greet,
Our PATRONS and FRIENDS, in or out of a seat;
And blessings and prayers from the mill grinding rhyme,
Like mill-stone and wheel move in musical time;
We, therefore, complying with custom’s old law;
The cat-gut well rozin’d; the fiddle see saw;
Thus strike at a tune—Your CASH quick to follow;
The beast-moving bard resolv’d to beat hollow:—
And first we implore, that the world of mankind,
In FREEDOM, and PEACE may their happiness find;
Nor Briton, nor Frenchman, nor Spaniard, nor Dutch,
Life, liberty, land, to each other begrutch;
While the States of the Union and Union of States,
War, faction, plague, famine remov’d from their gates;
Belov’d; beloving, respected, and fear’d;
May last, till Time’s razor shaves off the world’s beard.
Amen, to these wishes, the world must reply;
And say you can leave us to perish and die?
To perish in stockings, and die in old shoes!
Why, who would a nine-pence, or shilling refuse?
’Tis but little we ask; that little impart
And added to prayers, we’ll bless you in heart.
CHRONICLE-OFFICE, Boston, Jan. 1, 1798.