To the Memory of a Taylor. A Parody.

Town and Country Magazine 18 (March 1786) 157-58.


A burlesque pastoral subscribed "Dover." The taylor Buckram has died, and in this parody of Pope's "Winter" eclogue his journeymen Twist, Thimble, and Stay-Tape mourn his passing: "Alas! poor master, oft my thumb shall bleed, | For losing thee can I my stitching heed? | Away, my needle, I will sit and roar, | For Buckram, first of taylors, is no more!" This is a late example of the "trades" eclogues popular at mid-century, which employed words and actions peculiar to a specific calling, usually in a specified place, though here the location is simply "a garret."

Resound ye walls! resound the dismal lay!
(A taylor cries) our master dy'd to-day!
Say what avails it now our seats to keep,
Since he who fed us — Oh! — is fast asleep.
Rise, rise, my friends! haste! get upon your feet,
We lose our time if we preserve our seat;
But let us, ere we leave the garret, try
Who best can speak his griefs, who loudest cry.
Begin — This charge the dying Buckram gave,
And said — Ye workmen sing, around my grave!
Sing, whilst the widow'd lady sits below,
And laughs, and eats, and sips, to soothe her woe.
O! Twist and Thimble, cast you work away,
Burn all the thread, and stitch no more today,
And with your needles, now so useless grown,
Inscribe this verse on Buckram's tender stone:
Let Nature change — let heav'n and earth deplore,
For Buckram, best of taylors, is no more!

'Tis done! see Nature's various charms decay;
'Tis dark as pitch, tho' middle of the day!
Ho! Molly! bring us lights, that we may see,
How well inaminates with us agree.
Lo! where in Hell the faded cabbage lies,
With him it flourish'd, and with him it dies!
Were Buckram living, how the dyes would bloom,
And suits on suits he scatter'd o'er the room!
Ah! what avail'd of business his store!
He's dead! and now enjoys the trade no more!

At morn good ale, at evening gin I prize;
At morn and evening how they cheer'd my eyes,
But Buckram always — Now, nor gin, nor beer,
Can please my soul, for Buckram is not here.
Oh grief! the heated goose and I agree,
That hot with fire, and I inflam'd by thee.
Alas! poor master, oft my thumb shall bleed,
For losing thee can I my stitching heed?
Away, my needle, I will sit and roar,
For Buckram, first of taylors, is no more!

My wretched brethren, what avails our art,
That mendeth cloaths, yet cannot heal the heart?
How Nature mourns! the sun has ceas'd to shine,
The dogs to bark, and silent are the swine!
Ye happy pigs, that on the clean straw lie,
No more we hear ye grunt, nor hear ye cry;
O! happy pigs, ye sleep in peace the same,
Nor heed the sorrows which our breasts inflame;
But when awaken'd, Oh! how ye will mourn
Your wash, beans, barley-meal, e'en all things scorn,
And, stretch'd at large upon your strawy bed,
Will grunt in chorus, for your Buckram's dead!

For him the dogs shall loath their 'custom'd meal,
The cats disdain the savory bit to steal,
Yet shall they scream in concert, louder far
Than when at night they urge the amorous war;
No more, alas! their squalling shall forbear,
A sweeter music than their own to hear,
But, growing wild, incessantly shall roar,
And tell that Buckram's singing is no more!

No more shall cloth retain its wonted dyes,
And e'en, untouch'd, shall break the needles' eyes;
The sheers, when seiz'd by other hands for use,
Shall stubborn close, and cutting-out refuse;
And every journeyman shall scorn his bread,
And starve in pity, for a taylor's dead!

Hark! hark! the measures, by the pitying wind
The sad news told, are grumbling here behind;
The grumbling measures to th' impatient fire
His death regrumble, and the flame burns higher;
Th' impatient fire to embers wasted down,
Now snaps with rage, now soars with dismal moan:
The wind, the measures, and the fire deplore,
For Buckram, best of taylors, is no more!

Whilst yonder cushion shall our needles hold,
His fame to future taylors shall be told.

Adieu our shop-board, goose, and hell adieu!
Buckram is dead, and we must part with you!

Resound the tale of woe, for Buckram's dead!

We will, as long as we can needles thread.

Here every thimbled hero shook his head,
Now grief grew riotous, they kick'd, they roar'd;
At last it broke, and all came tumbling from the board!

[pp. 157-58]