Daily Chronicle, March 25, 1904

1 [A pickpocket, sentenced at Clerkenwell, was said to have been in the habit of making frequent changes in his attire. In the morning he wore a frock coat and silk hat, in the afternoon a Norfolk suit and gaiters, and in the evening another suit.]

Unhappy sir, I grieve to note
 Your quite mistaken plan;
Believe me, it is not the coat
 That makes the gentleman.
No thinking soul will praise, I wis,
 Neat “bags,” and such-like frippery,
If but the heart they cover is
 Deceitful, black, and slippery.

Ah, better thirty-shilling suits,
 And made-up scarlet ties,
And paper cuffs, and yellow boots,
 Though painful to the eyes.
Better a hat without a band
 Than one acquired by trickery;
Oh! better far an ungloved hand
 Than kids and pocket-pickery.

Relinquish the frock coat of shame,
 Oh, shun the glossy tile;
Avoid (I use the tailors’ name)
 The “dressy Bond-street style.”
Go in no more for raiment bright:
 One suit—are you aware of it?—
Will last a really honest wight
 A year, if he takes care of it.

The words of wisdom which I drop
 Would meet with more success,
If gaol afforded greater op-
 Portunities for dress.
Your clothes are chosen for you. Still,
 When bonds have ceased to trouble you,
Remember what I’ve said. You will?
 That’s right.
       Yours,    P. G. W.




“A Dandy Thief. An expert pickpocket named William Elliott was at Clerkenwell London, the other day, ordered five years’ penal servitude. It was stated that in the morning he always wore a silk hat and frock coat, in the afternoon a Norfolk suit with knee breeches and gaiters, while in the evening he changed to a third suit.” (Edinburgh Evening News, March 25, 1904)

John Dawson