Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BANK CLERK AND THE STABLE KEEPERS, by HORACE SMITH



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THE BANK CLERK AND THE STABLE KEEPERS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Showing how peter was undone
Last Line: He had refused to lend a pound!
Alternate Author Name(s): Smith, Horatio
Subject(s): Banks And Banking; Office Employees; Stables; Clerks


SHOWING how Peter was undone
By taking care of Number One. --

OF PETER PRIM (so Johnson would have written,)
Let me indulge in the remembrance; -- Peter!
Thy formal phiz has oft my fancy smitten,
For sure the Bank had never a completer
Quiz among its thousand clerks,
Than he who elicits our remarks. --

Prim was a formalist, a prig,
A solemn fop, an office Martinet,
One of those small precisians who look big
If half an hour before their time they get
To an appointment, and abuse those elves
Who are not over-punctual like themselves.

If you should mark his powdered head betimes,
And polished shoes in Lothbury,
You knew the hour -- for the three quarters' chimes
Invariably struck as he went by;
From morning fines he always saved his gammon,
Not from his hate of sloth, but love of Mammon.

For Peter had a special eye
To Number One -- his charity
At home beginning, ne'er extends,
But where it started had its end too;
And as to lending cash to friends,
Luckily he had none to lend to.

No purchases so cheap as his,
While no one's bargains went so far,
And though in dress a deadly quiz,
No Quaker more particular.

This live automaton, who seemed
To move by clockwork, ever keen
To live upon the saving plan,
Had soon the honour to be deemed
That selfish, heartless, cold machine,
Called in the City -- a warm man.

A Bank Director once, who dwelt at Chigwell,
PRIM to a turtle-feast invited,
And as the reader knows the prig well,
I need not say he went, delighted;
For great men, when they let you slice their meat,
May give a slice of loan -- a richer treat.

No stage leaves Chigwell after eight,
Which was too early to come back,
So, after much debate,
Peter resolved to hire a hack;
The more inclined to this, because he knew
In London Wall, at Number Two,
An economic stable-keeper,
From whom he hoped to get one cheaper.

Behold him mounted on his jade,
A perfect Johnny Gilpin figure;
But the good bargain he had made
Compensating for sneer and snigger,
He trotted on -- arrived -- sat down,
Devoured enough for six or seven,
His horse remounted, and reached town
As he had fixed, exactly at eleven.
But whether habit led him, or the Fates
To give a preference to Number One,
(As he had always done,)
Or that the darkness jumbled the two gates,
Certain it is he gave that bell a drag,
Instead of Number Two,
Rode in -- dismounted -- left his nag,
And homeward hurried without more ado.

Some days elapsed, and no one came
To bring the bill, or payment claim;
He 'gan to hope 'twas overlooked,
Forgotten quite, or never booked,
An error which the honesty of PRIM
Would ne'er have rectified, if left to him.
After six weeks, however, comes a pair
Of groom-like looking men,
Each with a bill, which Peter they submit to;
One for the six weeks' hire of a bay mare,
And one for six weeks' keep of ditto:
Together -- twenty-two pounds ten!

The tale got wind. What! Peter make a blunder?
There was no end of joke, and quiz, and wonder,
Which, with the loss of cash, so mortified
PRIM, that he suffered an attack
Of bile, and bargained with a quack,
Who daily swore to cure him -- till he died;
When, as no will was found,
His scraped, and saved, and hoarded store,
Went to a man to whom, some months before,
He had refused to lend a pound!





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