The Footman: An Epistle to my Friend Mr. Wright

Original Text: 
Robert Dodsley, A Muse in Livery: or, The Footman's Miscellany (London: for the Author, 1732): 17-21. 992.K.24 British Library
2Since I am now at leisure,
3And in the Country taking Pleasure,
4If it be worth your while to hear
5A silly Footman's Business there,
6I'll try to tell, in easy Rhyme,
7How I in London spend my Time.
8And first,
9As soon as Laziness will let me,
10I rise from Bed, and down I set me,
11To cleaning Glasses, Knives, and Plate,
12And such-like dirty Work as that,
13Which (by the bye) is what I hate.
14This done; with expeditious Care,
15To dress myself I strait prepare;
16I clean my Buckles, black my Shoes;
17Powder my Wig, and brush my Cloaths;
18Take off my Beard, and wash my Face,
19And then I'm ready for the Chace.
20Down comes my Lady's Woman strait:
21Where's Robin? Here. Pray take your Hat,
22And go -- and go -- and go -- and go -- ;
23And this -- and that desire to know.
24The Charge receiv'd, away run I,
25And here, and there, and yonder fly,
26With Services, and How-d'ye-does,
27Then Home return full fraught with News.
28Here some short Time does interpose,
30Which from the Spits and Kettles fly,
31Declaring Dinner-time is nigh.
32To lay the Cloth I now prepare,
33With Uniformity and Care;
34In Order Knives and Forks are laid,
35With folded Napkins, Salt, and Bread:
36The Side-boards glittering too appear,
37With Plate, and Glass, and China-ware.
38Then Ale, and Beer, and Wine decanted,
39And all Things ready which are wanted,
40The smoaking Dishes enter in,
41To Stomachs sharp a grateful Scene;
42Which on the Table being plac'd,
43And some few Ceremonies past,
44They all sit down, and fall to eating,
45Whilst I behind stand silent waiting.
46This is the only pleasant Hour
47Which I have in the Twenty-four;
48For whilst I unregarded stand,
50And seem to understand no more
51Than just what's call'd for, out to pour;
52I hear, and mark the courtly Phrases,
53And all the Elegance that passes;
54Disputes maintain'd without Digression,
55With ready Wit, and fine Expression;
56The Laws of true Politeness stated,
57And what Good-breeding is, debated:
58Where all unanimously exclude
59The vain Coquet, the formal Prude,
60The Ceremonious, and the Rude.
61The flattering, fawning, praising Train;
62The fluttering, empty, noisy, vain;
63Detraction, Smut, and what's prophane.
64This happy Hour elaps'd and gone,
65The Time of drinking Tea comes on.
66The Kettle fill'd, the Water boil'd,
67The Cream provided, Biscuits pil'd,
68And Lamp prepar'd; I strait engage
70Of Dishes, Saucers, Spoons, and Tongs,
71And all th' Et cetera which thereto belongs.
72Which rang'd in order and Decorum,
73I carry in, and set before 'em;
75And, as commanded, hand about.
76This Business over, presently
77The Hour of visiting draws nigh;
78The Chairman strait prepare the Chair,
80And Orders given where to go,
81We march along, and bustle thro'
82The parting Crouds, who all stand off
83To give us Room. O how you'd laugh!
84To see me strut before a Chair,
85And with a stirdy Voice, and Air,
86Crying -- By your Leave, Sir! have a Care!
87From Place to Place with Speed we fly,
88And Rat-tatat the Knockers cry:
89Pray is your Lady, Sir, within?
90If no, go on; if yes, we enter in.
91Then to the Hall I guide my Steps,
92Amongst a Croud of Brother Skips,
93Drinking Small-beer, and talking Smut,
94And this Fool's Nonsence puting that Fool's out.
95Whilst Oaths and Peals of Laughter meet,
96And he who's loudest, is the greatest Wit.
97But here amongst us the chief Trade is
98To rail against our Lords and Ladies;
99To aggravate their smallest Failings,
100T' expose their Faults with saucy Railings.
101For my Part, as I hate the Practice,
102And see in them how base and black 'tis,
104And sit me down, and feign to sleep;
106'Twou'd save my Ears much Noise and Jargon.
107But down my Lady comes again,
108And I'm released from my Pain.
109To some new Place our Steps we bend,
110The tedious Evening out to spend;
111Sometimes, perhaps, to see the Play,
112Assembly, or the Opera;
113Then home and sup, and thus we end the Day.


29] Effluvia: outflowing of cooking smells. Back to Line
49] Salver: serving dish or tray. Back to Line
69] Lilliputian: very small (from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels). Back to Line
74] Bohea: finest black tea (from Chinese Wu-i(shan), that is, the Wu-i hills north of Fuhkien; OED). Back to Line
79] Flambeau: torch. Back to Line
103] bye: out-of-the-way, unfrequented. Back to Line
105] Morpheus: the god of sleep and dreams. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.