Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Stock Exchange in Poetry

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Loretta reports:

From the Department of Plus ça change--

Given the puzzling behavior on Wall Street here in the U.S. and the financial crises abroad, I wanted to share this little poem from the early 19th century.

HAVE you ever seen Donnybrook fair?
  Or in a caveau spent the night ?
On Waterloo's plains did you dare
  To engage in the terrific fight?

Has your penchant for life, ever led
  You to visit the Finish or Slums,
At the risk of your pockets and head ?
  Or in Banco been fixed by the bums ?

In a smash at the hells have you been,
  When pigeons were pluck'd by the bone ?
Or enjoyed the magnificent scene
  When our Fourth George ascended his throne?

Have you ever heard Tierney or Canning
  A Commons' division address?
Or when to the gallery ganging,
   Been floor’d by a rush from the press?
Has your taste for the fine arts, impell'd
  You to visit a bull-bait or fight ?
Or by rattles and charleys propell'd,
  In a watch-house been lodged for the night?

In a morning at Bow-street made one
  Of a group, just to bother sage Birnie?
Stood the racket, got fined, cut and run,
Being fleeced by the watch and attorney ?

Or say, have you dined in Guildhall
  With the Mayor and his corporate souls?
Or been squeezed at a grand civic ball,
  With dealers in tallow and coals?

Mere nothings are these, though the range
  Through all we have noticed you've been,
When compared to the famed Stock Exchange,
  That riotous gambling scene.
English Spy. 

This is from a very entertaining book, The Spirit of the public journals: being an impartial selection of the most exquisite essays and jeux d'esprits, principally prose, that appear in the newspapers and other publications, Volume 3.  1826.

Black & white illustration by Robert Cruikshank is from the book.
Color illustration of King George IV’s coronation banquet, 1821.


Mme.Tresbeau said...

Sadly all too true! Some things never do seem to change.

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