Nail It Down

Celebrates the integrity, honesty and independent mindedness of an archetypal character called John Littlejohn who is presumable intended to represent the membership of the union.


John Littlejohn was staunch and strong,
'Upright and downright, scorning wrong;
He gave good weight, and paid his way,
He thought for himself and he said his say.
Whenever a rascal strove to pass,
Instead of silver, money of brass,
He took his hammer, and said, with a frown :
'The coin's a bad one ; nail it down.'  [Note 575.2]

John Littlejohn was firm and true,
You could not cheat him in ' two and two '
When foolish arguers, might and main,
Darken'd and twisted the clear and plain,
He saw through the mazes of their speech
The simple truth beyond their reach,
And crushing their logic, said, with a frown :
' Your coin's a bad one, nail it down.'

John Littlejohn maintain'd the right,
Through storm and shine, in the world's despite;
When fools or quacks desired his vote,
Dosed him with arguments learn'd by rote,
Or by coaxing, threats, or promise, tried
To gain his support to the wrongful side,
' Nay, nay,' said John, with an angry frown,
' Your coin's a bad one, nail it down.'

When told that kings had a right divine, [Note 575.3]
And that the people were herds of swine,
That the rich alone were fit to rule,
That the poor were unimproved by school,
That ceaseless toil was the proper fate
Of all but the wealthy and the great,
John shook his head, and swore, with a frown :
' The coin's a bad one, nail it down.'

When told that events might justify
A false and crooked policy ;
That a decent hope of future good
Might excuse departure from rectitude ;
That a lie, if white, was a small offence,
To be forgiven of men of sense ;
'Nay, nay,' said John, with a sigh and frown,
' The coin's a bad one, nail it down.'

When told from the pulpit or the press
That heaven was a place of exclusiveness
That none but those could enter there
Who knelt with the 'orthodox ' at prayer
And held all virtues out of their pale
As idle works of no avail
John's face grew dark, as he swore, with a frown :
'The coin's a bad one, nail it down.'

Whenever the world our eyes would blind
With false pretences of such a kind,
With humbug, cant, and bigotry,
Or a specious sham philosophy,
With wrong dress'd up in the guise of right,
And darkness passing itself for light,
Let us imitate John, and exclaim, with a frown :
'The coins are spurious, nail them down ! '