J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Undefil’d with Art

This poem appeared on the front page of the 16 Dec 1773 Boston News-Letter.


G overn’d by Wisdom, steadily he rules,
O ver the thinking Wise, and giddy Fools;
V irtuously dispos’d, of noble Mind;
E nvy itself must see, except it’s Blind.
R evil’d, publicly insulted, he,
N ever forgets to bless his Enemy;
O pen and frankly gives Advice to all.
U nbiased, to Rich, to Great, to Small,
R ightly determines when on him they call.

H ere view the Man, who to his Sovereign’s true:
U seful in Church, in State, a Patriot too;
T rue to his God; firm in Religion’s Cause;
C hristianity his Guide, with wholsome Laws;
H earty in Friendship; undefil’d with Art;
I ndustrious to inform the erring Heart.
N or let New-Albion’s Sons mistake the Man,
S ince he profoundest Rules of Art can Scan;
O n him shall lasting Peace and Honours rest,
N one’s happier than the Magistrate thus blest.
By then most people in Massachusetts didn’t share those sentiments about Thomas Hutchinson, their royally appointed governor. That evening, Bostonians would defy him by destroying a large shipment of tea. Meanwhile, Isaiah Thomas was selling an almanac that featured this picture of Hutchinson, engraved by Paul Revere.


Anonymous said...

And the almanac was advertised in that day's Mass. Spy...

"Illustrated with a neat Engraving of the Wicked Statesman, or the Traitor to his Country, at the hour of Death."

-Chris H. of Woburn

Charles Bahne said...

Thanks, John, for posting the link to the AAS (click on the image above). I was naturally aware of Revere's copperplate engravings but didn't know that he also did woodcuts. In the latter medium, he repeated his famous views of the Boston Massacre and of the British Ships Landing Their Troops in 1768. Fascinating!

J. L. Bell said...

The A.A.S.’s online collection devoted to Revere’s engravings also includes some work by other engravers off of Revere’s images, or images that he copied. So read the captions carefully.

It’s interesting to contrast Revere’s engraved waterfront view of Boston (from a drawing by Christian Remick) with the simpler woodcut he created. That shows a town at peace rather than one threatened by warships and troops.

EJWitek said...

This woodcut was not original with Revere. It is based on a 1768 English woodcut titled " The Minister in Surprize" which satirized the British Government's shock at colonial resistance to the Townshend duties. Revere modified it to serve his purposes. This was quite common for Revere in an age when there were no copyright laws.

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks for that lead! Tomorrow I’ll show a British print which I think is the original of both “The Minister in Surprize” and Revere’s “Wicked Statesman.”