Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ISRAEL FREYER'S BID FOR GOLD, by EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN

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ISRAEL FREYER'S BID FOR GOLD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Zounds! How the price went flashing through
Last Line: And give us a better atmosphere!
Subject(s): Gold; Speculation


ZOUNDS! how the price went flashing through
Wall Street, William, Broad Street, New!
All the specie in all the land
Held in one Ring by a giant hand --
For millions more it was ready to pay,
And throttle the Street on hangman's-day.
Up from the Gold Pit's nether hell,
While the innocent fountain rose and fell,
Loud and higher the bidding rose,
And the bulls, triumphant, faced their foes.
It seemed as if Satan himself were in it:
Lifting it -- one per cent a minute --
Through the bellowing broker, there amid,
Who made the terrible, final bid!
High over all, and ever higher,
Was heard the voice of Israel Freyer, --
A doleful knell in the storm-swept mart, --
"Five millions more! and for any part
I'll give One Hundred and Sixty!"

Israel Freyer -- the Government Jew --
Good as the best -- soaked through and through
With credit gained in the year he sold
Our Treasury's precious hoard of gold;
Now through his thankless mouth rings out
The leaguers' last and cruellest shout!
Pity the shorts? Not they, indeed,
While a single rival's left to bleed!
Down come dealers in silks and hides,
Crowding the Gold Room's rounded sides,
Jostling, trampling each other's feet,
Uttering groans in the outer street;
Watching, with upturned faces pale,
The scurrying index mark its tale;
Hearing the bid of Israel Freyer, --
That ominous voice, would it never tire?
"Five millions more! -- for any part
(If it breaks your firm, if it cracks your heart),
I'll give One Hundred and Sixty!"

One Hundred and Sixty! Can't be true!
What will the bears-at-forty do?
How will the merchants pay their dues?
How will the country stand the news?
What'll the banks -- but listen! hold!
In screwing upward the price of gold
To that dangerous, last, particular peg,
They have killed their Goose with the Golden Egg!
Just there the metal came pouring out,
All ways at once, like a water-spout,
Or a rushing, gushing, yellow flood,
That drenched the bulls wherever they stood!
Small need to open the Washington main,
Their coffer-dams were burst with the strain!
It came by runners, it came by wire,
To answer the bid of Israel Freyer,
It poured in millions from every side,
And almost strangled him as he cried, --
"I'll give One Hundred and Sixty!"

Like Vulcan after Jupiter's kick,
Or the aphoristical Rocket's stick,
Down, down, down, the premium fell,
Faster than this rude rhyme can tell!
Thirty per cent the index slid,
Yet Freyer still kept making his bid, --
"One Hundred and Sixty for any part!"
-- The sudden ruin had crazed his heart,
Shattered his senses, cracked his brain,
And left him crying again and again, --
Still making his bid at the market's top
(Like the Dutchman's leg that never could stop),
"One Hundred and Sixty -- Five Millions more!"
Till they dragged him, howling, off the floor.
The very last words that seller and buyer
Heard from the mouth of Israel Freyer --
A cry to remember long as they live --
Were, "I'll take Five Millions more! I'll give--
I'll give One Hundred and Sixty!"

Suppose (to avoid the appearance of evil)
There's such a thing as a Personal Devil,
It would seem that his Highness here got hold,
For once, of a bellowing Bull in Gold!
Whether bull or bear, it wouldn't much matter
Should Israel Freyer keep up his clatter
On earth or under it (as, they say,
He is doomed) till the general Judgment Day,
When the Clerk, as he cites him to answer for't,
Shall bid him keep silence in that Court!
But it matters most, as it seems to me,
That my countrymen, great and strong and free,
So marvel at fellows who seem to win,
That if even a Clown can only begin
By stealing a railroad, and use its purse
For cornering stocks and gold, or -- worse --
For buying a Judge and Legislature,
And sinking still lower poor human nature,
The gaping public, whatever befall,
Will swallow him, tandem, harlots, and all!
While our rich men drivel and stand amazed
At the dust and pother his gang have raised,
And make us remember a nursery tale
Of the four-and-twenty who feared on snail.

What's bred in the bone will breed, you know;
Clowns and their trainers, high and low,
Will cut such capers, long as they dare,
While honest Poverty says its prayer.
But tell me what prayer or fast can save
Some hoary candidate for the grave,
The market's wrinkled Giant Despair,
Muttering, brooding, scheming there, --
Founding a college or building a church
Lest Heaven should leave him in the lurch!
Better come out in the rival way,
Issue your scrip in open day,
And pour your wealth in the grimy fist
Of some gross-mouthed, gambling pugilist;
Leave toil and poverty where they lie,
Pass thinkers, workers, artists, by,
Your pot-house fag from his counters bring
And make him into a Railway King!
Between such Gentiles and such Jews
Little enough one finds to choose:
Either the other will buy and use,
Eat the meat and throw him the bone,
And leave him to stand the brunt alone.

-- Let the tempest come, that's gathering near,
And give us a better atmosphere!

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