Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
Humorous Poems: II. Miscellaneous
The Gouty Merchant and the Stranger
Horace Smith (1779–1849)
IN Broad Street building (on a winter night),
Snug by his parlor-fire, a gouty wight
Sat all alone, with one hand rubbing
His feet rolled up in fleecy hose:
With t’ other he ’d beneath his nose        5
The Public Ledger, in whose columns grubbing,
  He noted all the sales of hops,
  Ships, shops, and slops;
Gum, galls, and groceries; ginger, gin,
Tar, tallow, turmeric, turpentine, and tin;        10
When lo! a decent personage in black
Entered and most politely said,—
  “Your footman, sir, has gone his nightly track
  To the King’s Head,
And left your door ajar; which I        15
Observed in passing by,
  And thought it neighborly to give you notice.”
  “Ten thousand thanks; how very few get,
In time of danger,
Such kind attention from a stranger!        20
Assuredly, that fellow’s throat is
Doomed to a final drop at Newgate:
He knows, too, (the unconscionable elf!)
That there ’s no soul at home except myself.”
  “Indeed,” replied the stranger (looking grave),        25
  “Then he ’s a double knave;
He knows that rogues and thieves by scores
Nightly beset unguarded doors:
And see, how easily might one
  Of these domestic foes,        30
  Even beneath your very nose,
Perform his knavish tricks;
Enter your room, as I have done,
Blow out your candles—thus—and thus—
Pocket your silver candlesticks,        35
  And—walk off—thus”—
So said, so done; he made no more remark
  Nor waited for replies,
  But marched off with his prize,
Leaving the gouty merchant in the dark.        40

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