Study Economy

A young man ruined by railway speculation describes how he copes with poverty

Field recording of a fragment of the tune see Music Comment

I’m a gent reduced by railway speculations
Tho’ not possessed of ample means, I’ve splendid expectations¹
My uncle’s a director of a round-the-corner-junction
So I often borrow a pound or two without the least compunction
For upon my word, by studying economy I live like a lord

Now since I’ve been upon the town by fickle fortune undone
I’ve found that there’s more ways than one to live slap(1) in London
The world is bad, but I contrive, first rate to rattle through it
So if you list a while to me I’ll tell you how I do it.

I rise at half-past nine a.m. and then I make my toilet
Put on my dickey¹, rub my boots, my hair with candle oil it
As breakfast is a matter of pure taste; why I don’t mind it
And if I’ve none, I go without, and healthy too I find it.

At ten I sally out and go to hear the band play
This takes to till eleven than I promenade the Strand way
Then I get up to London Bridge that rendezvous of schemers
When half an hour passes by admiring the steamers

This brings me round to twelve o’clock when I invest a joey(1)
In half a loaf, and pick out one slack backed and rather doughy
Because you see it satisfies; I feel compelled to tell it
And a drink of water at the pump to twice the size will swell it.

At one I buy a mutton pie and pop it in my pocket
And then bolt down a narrow court and bol(sic) it like a rocket.
It does not do to let the world know what you have for dinner
For if they think you’re living queer; they’ll swear you’re getting thinner.

At two I reach a coffee shop and read a book till seven
The half-a-pint of good four-ale will last me till eleven
By twelve get home and make no row for fear of mother Randall
Then in the dark I go to bed because it saves a candle

Sometimes to raise a sumptuous feast I tax my ingenuity
I don’t indulge in meat for that I think a superfluity
I can’t abide block ornaments for fear of the small maggots
So I wait till eight o clock comes round and patronise the faggots

I used to smoke a meerschaum pipe one upon a time I bought one
But now time are altered quite I glad to smoke a short one.
When I’ve no pieces of cigars and am getting low in coppers
I toddle round St James’ park and pick up all the topper(1)s

The faculty they all agree, light suppers aid digestion
And I decidedly agree with their view of the question
But if a friend should ask me out, I’ll not refuse the offer
Not I speculate my brown(1)s in a trotter(1) or a gouffer

I told you all the particulars of how I pass the day away
Thro’ studying economy I don’t have much to pay away
Though sometimes I reduced to pease pudding on a Friday
And (all) things considering I get on pretty tidy.