The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood, by Thomas Hood

The Assistant Drapers’ Petition.

“Now’s the time and now’s the hour,”— BURNS.

“Seven’s the main.”— CROCKFORD.

Pity the sorrows of a class of men,

Who, though they bow to fashion and frivolity,

No fancied claims or woes fictitious pen,

But wrongs ell-wide, and of a lasting quality.

Oppress’d and discontented with our lot,

Amongst the clamorous we take our station;

A host of Ribbon Men — yet is there not

One piece of Irish in our agitation.

We do revere Her Majesty the Queen,

We venerate our Glorious Constitution;

We joy King William’s advent should have been,

And only want a Counter Revolution.

’Tis not Lord Russell and his final measure,

’Tis not Lord Melbourne’s counsel to the throne,

’Tis not this Bill, or that, gives us displeasure,

The measures we dislike are all our own.

The Cash Law the “Great Western” loves to name;

The tone our foreign policy pervading;

The Corn Laws — none of these we care to blame,

Our evils we refer to over-trading.

By Tax or Tithe our murmurs are not drawn;

We reverence the Church — but hang the cloth!

We love her ministers — but curse the lawn!

We have, alas! too much to do with both!

We love the sex:— to serve them is a bliss!

We trust they find us civil, never surly;

All that we hope of female friends is this,

That their last linen may be wanted early.

Ah! who can tell the miseries of men

That serve the very cheapest shops in town?

Till faint and weary, they leave off at ten,

Knock’d up by ladies beating of ’em down!

But has not Hamlet his opinion given —

O Hamlet had a heart for Drapers’ servants!

“That custom is”— say custom after seven —

“More honor’d in the breach than the observance.”

O come then, gentle ladies, come in time,

O’erwhelm our counters, and unload our shelves;

Torment us all until the seventh chime,

But let us have the remnant to ourselves!

We wish of knowledge to lay in a stock,

And not remain in ignorance incurable; —

To study Shakspeare, Milton, Dryden, Locke,

And other fabrics that have proved so durable.

We long for thoughts of intellectual kind,

And not to go bewilder’d to our beds;

With stuff and fustian taking up the mind,

And pins and needles running in our heads!

For oh! the brain gets very dull and dry,

Selling from morn till night for cash or credit;

Or with a vacant face and vacant eye,

Watching cheap prints that Knight did never edit.

Till sick with toil, and lassitude extreme,

We often think, when we are dull and vapoury,

The bliss of Paradise was so supreme,

Because that Adam did not deal in drapery.

The exquisite wit and fancy of these verses need not blind us to their touching earnestness. They might well be printed and circulated still in the service of the great cause of Early Closing. The “Knight” mentioned was, of course, the excellent Charles Knight, pioneer and forerunner of all subsequent movements for cheapening and popularizing good literature.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hood/thomas/poetical-works/poem140.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:51