The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside regarding a petition of the clerks and apprentices of Writers to the Signet

Transcription

UNTO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

The Lords of Council and Session,

THE

PETITION

OF THE

CLERKS and APPRENTICES of Writers to the Signet,
and Writers in Edinburgh,

Humbly Sheweth ,

That your Petitioners, with much regret,
Take up your Lordships' time their ills to Hate ;
But conscious that your Lordships succour lend,
The sad to comfort, and the poor befriend,
We've dared with boldness to reveal our grief,
And from your Lordships' justice hope relief.

We've struggled long, chill penury to hide,
But now Necessity o'ercomes our pride;
Though modesty conceai'd our pressing need,
Our hollow stomachs would cry nut for bread ;
And sure this humble prayer's more grateful far
Than empty sounds of hunger at your bar.

Without poetic ornament or fiction,
We'll shortly state our case to your conviction :?

Your Lordships know, 'tis ours to copy pages,
For each of which poor threepence is our wages,
And that, in this unprofitable way
We're scarce employ'd a fourth part of the day ;
Most of our Masters thinking it quite fair,
To keep three extra Clerks to?live on air,
Though they themselves could finish every line,
They must have Clerks?For what ??To cut a shine

Our other time like churchmen we must spend,
So many messages our Masters send ;
In borrowing processes, and craving debtors ,
Taking down rolls, and passing signet letters ;
And trudging idly through the Outer.House,
We spend our time,?or rather time abuse.

How many a Writer's Clerk attends this Court,
Without one cause his spirits to support;
Yet see with how much cheerfulness he wal s,
And over knotty points majestic talks !
Then sudden stars, as if awoke from slumber,
Runs to the Macer, and cries- What's the number ,
Although with that he has no more to do,
Than if he were a miner in Peru.

Full many a tedious year has past away,
Since Writers' Clerks have got increase of pay ;
And e'en this ill we might with patience bear,
Had not each necessary grown BO dear.
A Writer's Clerk, full fifty years ago,
On thirty pounds a-year could be a beau :
But now, on that same sum We scarce can hide
Our naked skin, and meat and drink provide.

Tradesmen of all descriptions raise their wages,
Why, therefore, no increase for copying pages ?
If we're employ'd to copy any paper,
For instance, to a Hosier or a Draper,
Than what it was a century before ;
But, if we need a hat, a coat, or stocking,
(With great submission, is it not provoking ?)
Our Draper says, he cannot sell them under
Five times the price they cost in 1700.

We groan beneath a sad, yet just taxation,
From which there's little hope of extrication ;
But, as we're eager to support this squabble,
Against that vile licentious Gallic rabble,
We'll pay the taxes, while we have a groat,
Whether your Lordships grant our prayer or not.

But one late tax afflicts us to the heart,
Because we cannot with a Guinea part;
When powder'd we were decent looking fellows.
But now resemble Blacksmiths at their bellows;
We're pointed out, (our very souls it racks,)
As Writer's Clerks who can't afford the tax.

While other Tradesmen join in combinations,
To raise their wages, or desert their stations ;
To aid our plea, truth, justice, sense refined,
Are in your Lordships generous breasts combiued.

In order all these hardship to prevent,
May't therefore please your Lordsships to augment
The price of pages to a penny more
Than the low re to at which they were before;
And your Petitioners shall pray sincere,
That you may live and judge ten thousand year.

Published by W. SMITH , 3 Bristo Port, Edina.

previous pageprevious          
Likely date of publication: 1824-1829   shelfmark: L.C.1268
Broadside regarding a petition of the clerks and apprentices of Writers to the Signet
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland