Henry Salt Archive

Henry Salt (1853-1939) was the author of the Life of Henry David Thoreau, Animals Rights and A Plea for Vegetarianism which inspired Gandhi for follow a vegetarian diet.

The Song of the Respectables

Respectables are we,
And we fain would have you see
Why we confidently claim to be respected;
In well-ordered homes we dwell,
And discharge our duties well—
Well dressed, well bred, well mannered, well connected.

We hate the common cant
About poverty and want,
And all that is distressing and unhealthy;
Certain cases may be sad,
But the system can't be bad,
If it gives such satisfaction to the wealthy.

As the Times each day we read,
We realize the need
Of more and more repression for the Masses;
And we muse with wondering awe
On the sanctity of Law,
As administered and construed by the Classes.

To us the breath of Change
Is ominous and strange,
And Reform is but a cloak for Revolution;
Our concern is not for self,
Not for property nor pelf,
Oh no, but for the British Constitution:

And our care transcends e'en that,
For in sable coat and hat
We never fail to flock to church each Sunday,
That with renovated zest,
And conscience lulled to rest,
We may yield our hearts to Mammon on the Monday.

So our wealth, which swells apace,
Is the outward sigh of grace,
As property goes step by step with piety:
In the present world we thrive,
Then save our souls alive,
And move for evermore in good society.

Thus on through life we march,
Stiff with decency and starch,
Well bred, well fed, well mannered, well connected—
For Respectables are we,
And you cannot fail to see
Why we confidently claim to be respected.

H. S. S.
The Commonweal, May 31, 1890