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About this Poem 

From Ballads and Songs (London: Cassell and Company, 1896).

 

The Speculators

  The night was stormy and dark,
  The town was shut up in sleep:
  Only those were abroad who were out on a lark,
  Or those who'd no beds to keep.

  I pass'd through the lonely street,
  The wind did sing and blow;
  I could hear the policeman's feet
  Clapping to and fro.

  There stood a potato-man
  In the midst of all the wet;
  He stood with his 'tato-can
  In the lonely Hay-market.

  Two gents of dismal mien,
  And dank and greasy rags,
  Came out of a shop for gin,
  Swaggering over the flags:

  Swaggering over the stones,
  These shabby bucks did walk;
  And I went and followed those seedy ones,
  And listened to their talk.

  Was I sober or awake?
  Could I believe my ears?
  Those dismal beggars spake
  Of nothing but railroad shares.

  I wondered more and more:
  Says one—"Good friend of mine,
  How many shares have you wrote for,
  In the Diddlesex Junction line?"

  "I wrote for twenty," says Jim,
  "But they wouldn't give me one;"
  His comrade straight rebuked him
  For the folly he had done:

  "O Jim, you are unawares
  Of the ways of this bad town;
  I always write for five hundred shares,
  And THEN they put me down."

  "And yet you got no shares,"
  Says Jim, "for all your boast;"
  "I WOULD have wrote," says Jack, "but where
  Was the penny to pay the post?"

  "I lost, for I couldn't pay
  That first instalment up;
  But here's 'taters smoking hot—I say,
  Let's stop, my boy, and sup."

  And at this simple feast
  The while they did regale,
  I drew each ragged capitalist
  Down on my left thumbnail.

  Their talk did me perplex,
  All night I tumbled and tost,
  And thought of railroad specs,
  And how money was won and lost.

  "Bless railroads everywhere,"
  I said, "and the world's advance;
  Bless every railroad share
  In Italy, Ireland, France;
  For never a beggar need now despair,
  And every rogue has a chance."

This poem is in the public domain. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

William Makepeace Thackeray

William Makepeace Thackeray, born July 18, 1811, was an English writer best known for his novels, particularly The History of Henry Esmond, Esq. (The Mershon Company Publishers, 1852) and Vanity Fair (Bradbury and Evans, 1848). While in school, Thackeray began writing poems, which he published in a number of magazines, chiefly Fraser and Punch. He died on December 24, 1863.

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    With ganial foire
    Thransfuse me loyre,
  Ye sacred nympths of Pindus,
    The whoile I sing
    That wondthrous thing,
  The Palace made o' windows!

    Say, Paxton, truth,
    Thou wondthrous youth,
  What sthroke of art celistial,
    What power was lint
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  This combineetion cristial
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  When the moonlight's on the mountain
    And the gloom is on the glen,
  At the cross beside the fountain
    There is one will meet thee then.
  At the cross beside the fountain;
    Yes, the cross beside the fountain,
  There is one will meet thee then!

  I have braved, since first we met, love,
    Many a
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  Before I lost my five poor wits,
  I mind me of a Romish clerk,
  Who sang how Care, the phantom dark,
  Beside the belted horseman sits.
  Methought I saw the grisly sprite
  Jump up but now behind my Knight.

  And though he gallop as he may,
  I mark that cursed monster black
  Still sits behind his honor's