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The Tailor’s Speech

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The Tailor's Speech


t was in the kitchen of the "Fighting Cocks," a house noted for strong ale, that young Hatfield, a poor ailing journeyman tailor, was haranguing his drinking companions. His face was a little heated by what he had drunk, his hat was dented in as though it had been used for a football, and the elbow of his right arm, as he lifted up his pipe, was seen through his ragged sleeve.

It happened that old Cawthorn, a staid and respectable servant, who lived in the neighbourhood, had a note to deliver at the bar, and the landlord of the "Fighting Cocks" being out of the way, old Cawthorn stood waiting for him, while young Hatfield "laid down the law" to his companions. As he proceeded, old Cawthorn, who well knew the bad habits of the speaker, kept talking to himself in reply to the observations made.

"I have seen a great deal of life, my friends," said the tailor.

"And sad low life, too, I am afraid."

"If people would only be ruled by me————"

"Ay, but bad as things are, we are not come to such a pass as that yet."

"If people would only be ruled by me, old England would lift up her head again. In the first place I would reform the constitution."

"Beginning with your own, I hope, for that seems not to be over excellent. What next, I wonder!"

"There should be no places and pensions; no bribery and corruption; no taxes and oppression; but every man should have his rights, and a poor man should lift up his head as well as a rich man."

"If you could only rule yourself as well as you think you could rule the nation, it would at any rate be a good beginning."

"I would inclose all the waste lands in England, every one of them should be cultivated."

"Better by half weed your own little garden first, for it is sadly out of order."

"Every man's house, ay, the poorest among them, should have in it a flitch of good bacon."

"That is more than is ever likely to be found in yours, Master Hatfield, unless you live a very different life to what you now do."

"I have a notion that we might all of us live much happier than we now do, and with half the labour."

"A notion, indeed, and nothing but a notion. But if you paid a little less attention to the country at large, and a little more to your own habits, you and your poor wife and little ones might live happier than you do, there is little doubt."

"We seem to be all wrong in religious matters. Instead of being brought up to particular opinions, every one, young and old, ought to be left at liberty to think as he pleases."

"And to do as he pleases, too, I suppose? Oh! Harry Hatfield. Some day or other, if you keep a little closer to your shopboard, you may shine as a tailor, but you are not likely to become a star in any other calling."

"Then with regard to property; it stands to reason that if the hundred thousand pounds possessed by the rich man were to be divided into a hundred parts, it would make a hundred men comfortable and happy instead of one."

"All housebreakers and highwaymen, I should think, reason in the same way."

"It costs the country millions a year to keep up the gaols and the policemen: every penny of this might be saved."

"Ay, and the land might be overrun with rogues, and the country become a bear-garden."

"The national debt ought to be wiped away at once——it is a disgrace to the nation."

"And there is a debt scored up on the door there that is a disgrace to one Harry Hatfield——I suppose you would wipe that away too."

"In a word, my friends, things are very different to what they ought to be. In this land of liberty, where every man's house is his castle, and where everything should be properly conducted, there ought to be no policemen——no oppressive laws——no taxes——no————"

Here the landlord made his appearance, and old Cawthorn, having delivered his note, left the house, saying, "How true is that proverb of Solomon, 'Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.'"

Harry Hatfield holding forth