As Near Beauteous Boston Lying

Words Anonymous; tune "Hosier's Ghost," 1774

What were some of the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party?

Why do the colonists use Greek words like "Sol" and "Phoebus" so often? They admired the democratic government of the Greeks.

What verse gives us a clue that the citizens of Boston realized that what they were doing wasn't just a prank or simple protest? Third verse says, "Arm'd with hammer, axe and chisels, Weapons new for warlike deeds." Why did they call their hammer, axe and chisels "weapons" when they weren't using them against people? What did they realize they were doing? That it was a warlike act.

Was tea worth going to war over? Why or why not? What did the "cursed weed of China's coast" represent to the colonists? What else was at stake? Possible answers: they felt they were being cheated (last verse); their "British rights" (next to last verse — remember they still considered themselves British subjects).

What mood does the last verse suggest the colonists were in?

How did the "dreamers" in the British Parliament retaliate for the Boston Tea Party?

This song was first published in Boston a month after the Tea Party. How popular, if at all, do you suppose this song became outside of Massachusetts? What major event in 1774—a direct result of the British retaliation for the Tea Party—hints at the mood of the other colonies? The First Continental Congress was the first united effort to stand up to the injustices the colonies believed they suffered under Parliament.


"Ballad of the Tea Party" performed by Arthur F. Schrader on American Revolutionary War Songs to Cultivate the Sensations of Freedom, Folkways [05279], © 1976. Available on Spotify and iTunes.

This song is presented as it would have been shortly after the Boston Tea Party. Arthur Schrader relates the tale without accompaniment, but with plenty of enthusiasm.

View the music and lyrics for "As Near Beauteous Boston Lying."

View the original publication.

Also known as "Ballad of the Tea Party," "The Destruction of the Tea," or "The Taxed Tea," this song appeared shortly after the incident known as the Boston Tea Party, which took place on December 16, 1773. It was a little over a month later, on January 27, 1774, that these lyrics appeared in the Massachusetts Spy.

Richard Glover's original text of "Hosier's Ghost" (1740), from which this song gets its tune, resembles this song not only in meter but also in content as it describes the appearance of the ghost of Admiral Hosier, who suffered an ill-fated assignment in the British West Indies in 1726. The anonymous author of "As Near Beauteous Boston Lying" was certainly familiar with Glover's original lyrics as indicated by the many similarities between the two.

  As near Porto Bello Lying,
On the gently swelling flood,
At midnight, with streamers flying,
Our triumphant navy rode;
There, while Vernon sate,
All glorious from the Spaniards' late defeat,
And his crew, with shouts victorious,
Drank success to England's fleet.

engraving of the Boston Massacre

The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King Street, Boston on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Regiment, engraving by Paul Revere.

Sol, Phoebus: the Sun.

jack: Union Jack (British flag).

herbage: bearing "herbs," in this case, tea.

Creative Commons License
Voices Across Time is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at voices.pitt.edu/Permissions.html.