Ralph Windle. The Poetry of Business Life, An Anthology. (1994)
Windle quotes the 14 lines that appear italicized below in the "Money" section of his anthology. The whole of Meredith's Part II, Canto IV, Verse 5 is transcribed here, however, because in a variety of ways the entire passage is more interesting than the selection Windle chose.
"What's the matter?" he cried.
"What have you to tell me?"
What! have you not heard?
This sad business--
I? No, not a word.
You received my last letter?
I think so. If not,
You have acted upon it?
The advice that I gave you--
Advice?--let me see?
You ALWAYS are giving advice, Jack, to me.
About Parliament, was it?
Hang Parliament! no,
The Bank, the Bank, Alfred!
Heavens! I know
You are careless;--but surely you have not forgotten,--
Or neglected . . . I warn'd you the whole thing was rotten.
You have drawn those deposits at least?
No, I meant
To have written to-day; but the note shall be sent
To-morrow? too late!
Too late! oh, what devil bewitch'd you to wait?
Mercy save us! you don't mean to say . . .
Yes, I do.
What! Sir Ridley?
Smash'd, broken, blown up, bolted too!
But his own niece? . . . In Heaven's name, Jack . . .
Oh, I told you
The old hypocritical scoundrel would . . .
Surely can't mean we are ruin'd?
A fortnight ago a report about town
Made me most apprehensive. Alas, and alas!
I at once wrote and warn'd you. Well, now let that pass.
A run on the Bank about five days ago
Confirm'd my forebodings too terribly, though.
I drove down to the city at once; found the door
Of the Bank closed: the Bank had stopp'd payment at four.
Next morning the failure was known to be fraud:
Warrant out for McNab: but McNab was abroad:
Gone--we cannot tell where. I endeavor'd to get
Information: have learn'd nothing certain as yet--
Not even the way that old Ridley was gone:
Or with those securities what he had done:
Or whether they had been already call'd out:
If they are not, their fate is, I fear, past a doubt.
Twenty families ruin'd, they say: what was left,--
Unable to find any clew to the cleft
The old fox ran to earth in,--but join you as fast
As I could, my dear Alfred?*
*These events, it is needless to say, Mr. Morse,
Took place when Bad News as yet travell'd by horse;
Ere the world, like a cockchafer, buzz'd on a wire,
Or Time was calcined by electrical fire;
Ere a cable went under the hoary Atlantic,
Or the word Telegram drove grammarians frantic.
Last revised: 19 August 2010