In July of 1833 a man by the name of Doctor Cole went to the justice room to try and seek the assistance of the Lord Mayor after omnibus men refused to take him as a passenger, stating that he was too heavy. The following poem was written in response to this event and paints a rather unkind picture of Doctor Cole. While cruel in many aspects, the poem (regrettably) shows a response to size discrimination that is not unlike what we see nearly 200 years later.
“The Lord Mayor and the Doctor.
A Mansion-House Melody.*
Sir Peter sat in the Civic Chair,
In all the pride of a City Mayor,
And at every word Sir Peter said,
A winning smile on his features play’d;
And each gallant Marshalman took his place,
In coat of blue, bedizen’d with lace,
While pale-faced Hobler sat at ease,
His Lordship’s Mephistophilies.
Sir Peter rais’d his wondering eyes,
And beheld a man of enormous size—
Marks of distress on his face he bore,
And thirty stone he weigh’d, and more;
To his Lordship he made a courteous bow,
While perspiration bath’d his brwo,
And he said, with a sigh that touch’d the soul,
“My name Sir Peter, is Doctor Cole.
“You perceive, by this ample form of mine,
I’m none of King Pharoah’s skinny kine;
Of flesh I groan beneath a load,
And I live as far as the Edgware-road;
But the Omnibus drivers and cads, of late,
Protest that I carry too much weight,
And as how they won’t carry my carcase swear,
Unless I come down with double fare.
“When I hail the fellows to let me in,
They gaze at my ponderous paunch, and grin,
Then, cry, ‘such fares won’t do for us,’
As they close the doors of the Omnibus.
I presume they object to this heap of fat;
But I ask Sir Peter, can I help that?
And if what’s right these worthies mean,
They should take the fat along with the lean.”
Sir Peter smiled, with expression droll,
And he gaz’d on the bulk of Doctor Cole.
“In such a dilemma,” he cried “my friend,
I fear no assistance I can lend;
And I think, if the matter is fairly tried,
The fellows have reason on their side;
And to prove they are right, upon the whole,
I’ll put a case to you, Doctor Cole—
“The owners are licens’d you know full well,
To carry fourteen in their vehicle;
But, if they were all as fat as you,
Where could the cads their carcases screw?
Now, I put it to you, would you like to be
One of the close-wedg’d company?
I’m certain, that candidly you’ll say,
You would rather travel another way.”
“Why, to speak the truth,” said Doctor Cole,
“I should not like it, upon my soul;
In such hot weather as this, I know,
It would make us sweat, and pant and blow;
But, Sir Peter, I’m given to understand,
That double fare they can’t demand;
And perhaps you’ll inform me the intent
And words of the Act of Parliament.”
“Now, Doctor ‘tis just as plain as a pike,
That they needn’t have you unless they like;
And from the Bank, with such weighty stuff,
Sixpence to Paddington’s not enough;
But if you would reduce your corpus;
To common size, from that of a porpoise,
I mean to say, without any hoax,
You may travel as cheap as other folks.”
“What! Reduce this bulk of thirty stun!
The thing, Sir Peter, can’t be done.
If you recommended the training plan,
I beg to say I’m no fancy man;
With fighters and jockeys it may agree,
But it never will do for a man like me;
At fifty years, and much more than that,
It isn’t so easy to bring down fat.”
“Why, I think,” said Sir Peter, “it might be done,
If you walk from hence to Paddington;
As a four year old, it would make you fresh.
And bring down that mass of fat and flesh;
If Daniel Lambert, who grew so stout,
Had carried his travelling box about,
I venture to say, though no physician,
He would never have been in such plump condition.”
“For the hint,” said the Doctor, “I’m much your debtor,
But I know my own constitution better;
These limbs of mine are too weak, I doubt,
To carry so heavy a load about;
As to walking far, Sir Peter, the fact is,
I neither prescribe it, nor put it in practice;
And, with the subject no more to teaze ye,
Perhaps the best plan is to take things easy.
“Besides, I confess I’m disposed to grin,
When the fellows refuse to take me in,
And vow, at a just and proper rate,
I ought to fork out the fare of eight:
Farewell, Sir Peter, from pole to pole
You won’t see a heartier cock than Cole.”
He retired—an illustration pat,
Of the good old proverb, “Laugh and grow fat.”
*see London Police Report in last Tuesday’s News-Letter”