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.

Subscribe thru Follow.it


Sunday, January 01, 2023

“Go with the New-Year’s sun, my boy”

Carrying on a Boston 1775 tradition, I present one of the verses carried around (and usually composed) by printersapprentices to signal the new year.

This sample appears to have been created by the young printers at the American Mercury of Hartford, Connecticut, for the new year of 1789, reprinted in that newspaper on 5 January, and then reprinted in the Massachusetts Centinel two days later.

I quote the Centinel version:
Presented on the New-Year, by the Carrier of the MERCURY, in Hartford.

As late soft slumber clos’d my eyes,
A lovely form shot from the skies,
Approach’d my bed with aspect meek,
And thus it spake, or seem’d to speak.

“Go with the New-Year’s sun, my boy,
Go, bid your anxious country joy;
This is the year ordain’d by fates,
To rear the glory of the States.”

Raptur’d I gaz’d—The voice and mien,
Methought, I knew: I erst had seen
Columbia’s genius—’Twas the same
Who spake, and thus pursu’d the theme.

“I, who Columbia’s heroes fir’d
To arms, more lately have inspir’d
Th’ assembled Sages with a plan
To finish what those arms began.
Thence thro’ the States I wing’d my way,
To scatter wisdoms sacred ray:
I kindled up the glowing flame
Of zeal, to raise Columbia’s fame.
The fed’ral States to union drew,
And bade, The glorious work pursue.

“One state is doom’d awhile to be
A mark, by which the rest may see
And shun the gulph, which quick embrogues
Blind paper-mongers, cheats and rogues.

“Now wisdom shall the elections guide,
Wisdom in Congress shall preside—
No secret foes or antifeds
Shall once presume to lift their heads;
No object there shall be pursu’d,
But publick peace and common good.
Science and virtue shall revive,
Arts, commerce, manufactures thrive,
Just laws shall private rights maintain,
Slav’re no more shall clank her chain,
No wars again infest the ground,
But peace shall wall the country round.
Plenty shall crown the peasant’s toil,
And Heav’n on all his labours smile,
The desart, cultur’d to a field,
Blessings before unknown shall yield;
Where beasts of prey now stalk and roar,
Tame flocks shall feed and play secure;
Where the tall forests mock the skies,
Cities, with taller spires, shall rise;
And golden harvests wave their heads,
Where the wild thicket boundless spreads.
Here liberty shall stretch her hands
To all th’ oppress’d from distant lands,
’Till tyrants shall no more oppress,
And freedom all the nations bless.”

The genius spake, and from my sight
Shot upwards to the realms of light.
I woke—arose—scarce stay’d to dress—
I ran and put this work to press,
Resolv’d to hand it to the town,
Whose bounty will my labour crown.
This verse was, of course, promoting the new U.S. Constitution against the “antifeds” and the “One state” (Rhode Island) which had so far refused to participate in the process. As I discussed last year, American newspapers printed a lot of verse supporting the Constitution, almost none against it.

No comments: