Rhyming Dick and the Strolling Player: a lovely chapbook, ca. 1805
Rhyming Dick and the Strolling Player: Being a True Account of the Life and Death of Richard Nancollas. Nottingham, Printed by C. Sutton, for the Flying Stationers, [ca. 1805]. Ca. 16 x 10,5 cm. 8 pp. Self wrappers. Woodcut illustration on title-page (cups and balls?). Unstitiched as issued. In very good condition.
A charming chapbook narrating the lives of Richard Nancollas ('Rhyming Dick'), Henry Hitchcock ('A Strolling Player') and a 'poor man, named Bain', designed to teach behavioural and ethical lessons.
It opens with the life of Richard Nancollas, aka Rhyming Dick, who died on the first of August, 1802. Richard used to ramble through the western counties of England, exciting "sinful merriment among the drunkards, &c, by extempore versification". Surprisingly, in the last years of his life "he became an example of virtuous conversation and self denial", leading the anonymous author to conclude that "the blood of Jesus Christ cleaneth from all sin; and that whosoever will may come and take of the waters of life freely."
The account of the life of Hitchcock follows a similar pattern. "Early in life he commenced a strolling player: and continued in that dangerous and contemptible profession until God, who is rich in mercy visited him". The last account, finally, "affords an additional Instance of the Divine Grace, and encouragement ot Societies and Individuals to visit the Poor in their Distress".