"The Beggar Boy." by Jane Taylor (1783-1824)
I'M a poor little beggar, my mammy is dead;
My daddy is naughty, and gives me no bread:
O'er London's wide streets all the day long I roam,
And when night comes on, I've got never a home.
I would not be idle, like some wicked boys,
So I got me a basket with trinkets and toys;
Nobody was e'er more industrious than I,
Nobody more willing to sell if you'll buy.
I've Bonaparte's life, and adventures, and birth,
And histories of all the great men of the earth:
Enigmas, and riddles, and stories complete:
Come buy them, dear ladies, a penny a sheet.
Here's cottons, and bobbins, and laces so white,
And thimbles, and scissors, well polished and bright:
Fine pictures of Frenchmen, and Tartar, and Swede;
And Darton's gay books for good children to read.
I've all the debates, in the parliament made,
On sinecures, pensions, and taxes new laid:
Accounts of the battles by land and by sea,
That were fought in one thousand eight hundred and three.
In summer, gay flowers and nosegays I sell,
Sweet-cowslips, and roses, and jasmines to smell:
Watercresses for breakfast, fresh gathered and green,
From bad weeds and hemlock picked careful and clean.
But alas! 't is in vain that I mournfully cry,
And hold out my basket to all who pass by;
I fancy they 're thinking of other affairs;
For they seem not to notice or me or my wares.
I would get me a place that was decent and clean,
Though in a capacity ever so mean;
But nobody credits a word that I say,
For they call me a vagrant, and turn me away.
In the evening I wander, all hungry and cold,
And the bright Christmas fires thro' the windows behold:
Ah, while the gay circles such comforts enjoy,
They think not of me, a poor perishing boy!
Oh had I a coat, if 't were ever so old,
This poor trembling body to screen from the cold;
Or a hat from the weather to shelter my head;
Or an old pair of shoes, or a morsel of bread!
'T is almost a fortnight since I've tasted meat;
Pray give a poor creature a mouthful to eat;
And while you in plenty all comforts enjoy,
Oh think upon me, a poor perishing boy.