Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
The Ghost of Continental Money
To the Embryo of the new Emission

  THOUGH I’m dead and forgotten,
  Though my carcase is rotten,
And my honours are sleeping in dust,
  Yet my visage, so hoary,
  Now rises before you,        5
To warn you, my friend, of the worst.
  I advise you to lie
  Where you are, and to die—
O!—ne’er to remove any farther:
  Should you come from the womb,        10
  You would wish it a tomb—
You’d curse both the midwife and mother.
  Why need I relate
  That series of fate
Which plunged me in wo and disaster—        15
  How I first was respected
  And then was rejected,
And, last, dwindled down to a plaster. 1
  The states, they united,
  Their honour they plighted,        20
But all was a whim and a sham:
  But before my escape, sir,
  Not all I could scrape, sir,
Would buy the poor soldier a dram.
  I have lived, to be sure,        25
  A while, to secure
The rights of a much-injured nation:
  But I got all my living
  By a course of deceiving,
That has sunk me in utter damnation.        30
  I’m dead and departed—
  But quickly I started
To hear of your sudden conception:
  Old Tenor and I
  Did sit down and cry        35
When we thought of your future deception.
  Enough we have done
  Without you, my son,
To turn the whole state topsy-turvy:
  Let our troubles, then, teach you,        40
  We humbly beseech you,
To fly from a treatment so scurvy.
  But your mother will say
  She “will dress you up gay,
With garments all wrought from her spinning.”        45
  You had better, I vags,
  Live still in your rags—
In fragments of cotton and linen.
  For your mother is weak:
  She’s lame and she’s sick,        50
And quite in a helpless condition:
  Not able, I’ve said it,
  To keep up your credit,
Or save your poor soul from perdition.
  She will try (but in vain)        55
  Your faith to maintain
By a tender on suits and contentions;
  But no one will sue;
  What then will you do?
You surely will make feuds and dissensions.        60
  How will you contrive
  My fate to survive?
Your emblems are not worth a farthing:
  The merchant will spite you,
  The lawyer will slight you,        65
And priests will not care for your starving.
  There’s a foe in disguise
  That will pick out your eyes,
And all your fine garments bespatter:
  He is hard—you are soft        70
  Such struggles too oft
Turn out to the loss of the latter.
  You may strive and may tease,
  But never will please—
You never will suit and content all:        75
  So stay where you are:
  Or, alas! you will share
The fortune of old Continental.
Note 1. Alluding to the ludicrous epithet of “shin-plaster,” applied to certain bills of the continental emission. [back]

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