A Business Melody [poem, 24 July 1885]

[Editor: A poetic encouragement to advertising, based upon the old poem “The Man in Our Town” (further details given below). Published in The North Eastern Ensign, 24 July 1885.]

A Business Melody

There was a man in our town,
And he was wondrous wise,
For when he marked his prices down
He then did advertise.

And when he saw his trade increase,
With all his might and main
He marked still lower every price,
And advertised again.

And when he advertised again,
His rivals stamped and tore,
To sea folks rush with might and main
To patronise his store.

And while they sat in solitude,
And saw him custom win,
That man behind the counter stood
And raked the shekels in,
And when he raked the shekels in.

And saw his fortune rising,
He took a goodly lot of tin
And kept on advertising.

Each day a generous sum he’d sink,
And demonstrate full plain
The more one pays for printer’s ink
The greater is his gain.

The Miller.

The North Eastern Ensign (Benalla, Vic.) Friday 24 July 1885, page 2s (page 2 of the “Supplement” section)

Editor’s notes:
This poem was published as a way to encourage businesses to advertise; it appeared in many newspapers, including The North Eastern Ensign (24 July 1885, p.2s), Euroa Advertiser (18 September 1885, p.3 – which refers to its source as the Ballarat Star), Launceston Examiner (19 September 1885, p.2s), Queanbeyan Age (27 May 1886, p.4), and the Wodonga and Towong Sentinel (28 August 1931, p.3) — the Wodonga paper using it in many issues.

It is a revamping of a traditional nursery rhyme, found in various tales of Mother Goose and other nursery rhyme books dating back at least to the early 1800s and perhaps even earlier. The traditional rhyme is as follows:

The Man in Our Town

There was a man in our town,
And he was wondrous wise,
He jumped into a bramble bush,
And scratched out both his eyes;
But when he saw his eyes were out,
With all his might and main,
He jumped into another bush,
And scratched ’em in again.

Most versions of the rhyme begin with “There was a man of my town”. However, the 1843 Halliwell version begins with “There was a man of Newington”, whilst the 1897 Lang version and the 1919 Walter version both start with “There was a man of Thessaly”; the use of “Thessaly” also appeared in many other versions in books and newspapers.

Songs for the Nursery, Tabart and Co., London, [1808?], page 40
Songs for the Nursery (new edition), Darton and Clark, London, [circa 1837-1845], page 52
Felix Summerly (ed.). Traditional Nursery Songs of England, Joseph Cundall, London, 1843, page 35
James Orchard Halliwell (ed.). The Nursery Rhymes of England, Obtained Principally from Oral Tradition (second edition), John Russell Smith, London, 1843, page 21
Andrew Lang (ed.). The Nursery Rhyme Book, Frederick Warne & Co., London, 1897, page 133
Charles Welsh. A Book of Nursery Rhymes: Being Mother Goose’s Melodies Arranged in the Order of Attractiveness and Interest, D. C. Heath & Co., Boston, 1901, page 130
The Real Mother Goose, Rand McNally & Co., Chicago, 1916
The Real Mother Goose, Rand McNally & Co., Chicago, 1916
L. Edna Walter. Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes, A. & C. Black, London, 1919 (reprinted 1922), page 10

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