Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  A Lamentation for Old Tenor Currency

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Lamentation for Old Tenor Currency

By Joseph Green (1706–1780)

[A Mournful Lamentation for the Sad and Deplorable Death of Mr. Old Tenor.]

A DOLEFUL tale prepare to hear,

As ever yet was told:

The like, perhaps, ne’er reach’d the ear

Of either young or old.

’Tis of the sad and woful death

Of one of mighty fame,

Who lately hath resigned his breath;

Old Tenor was his name.

In vain ten thousands intercede,

To keep him from the grave;

In vain, his many good works plead;

Alas! they cannot save.

The powers decree and die he must,

It is the common lot,

But his good deeds, when he’s in dust,

Shall never be forgot.

He made our wives and daughters fine,

And pleased everybody;

He gave the rich their costly wine,

The poor their flip and toddy.

The laborer he set to work;

In ease maintained the great:

He found us mutton, beef, and pork,

And everything we eat.

To fruitful fields by swift degrees,

He turned our desert land:

Where once naught stood but rocks and trees,

Now spacious cities stand.

He built us houses strong and high,

Of wood, and brick, and stone;

The furniture he did supply;

But now, alas! he’s gone.

The merchants, too, those topping folks,

To him owe all their riches;

Their ruffles, lace, and scarlet cloaks,

And eke their velvet breeches.

He launched their ships into the main,

To visit distant shores;

And brought them back, full fraught with gain,

Which much increased their stores.

Led on by him, our soldiers bold

Against the foe advance;

And took, in spite of wet and cold,

Strong Cape Breton from France.

Who from that fort the French did drive,

Shall he so soon be slain?

While they, alas! remain alive,

Who gave it back again?

From house to house, and place to place,

In paper doublet clad,

He passed and where he showed his face,

He made the heart full glad.

But cruel death, that spareth none,

Hath robbed us of him too;

Who through the land so long hath gone,

No longer now must go.

In senate he, like Cæsar, fell,

Pierced through with many a wound,

He sunk, ah, doleful tale to tell!

The members sitting round:

And ever since that fatal day

O! had it never been,

Closely confined at home he lay,

And scarce was ever seen,

Until the last of March, when he

Submitted unto fate;

In anno regis twenty-three,

Ætatis forty-eight.

Forever gloomy be that day,

When he gave up the ghost;

For by his death, oh! who can say,

What hath New England lost?

Then, good Old Tenor, fare thee well,

Since thou art dead and gone;

We mourn thy fate, e’en while we tell

The good things thou hast done,

Since the bright beams of yonder sun,

Did on New England shine,

In all the land, there ne’er was known

A death so mourned as thine.

Of every rank are many seen,

Thy downfall to deplore;

For ’tis well known that thou hast been

A friend to rich and poor.

We’ll o’er thee raise a silver tomb,

Long may that tomb remain,

To bless our eyes for years to come,

But wishes, ah! are vain.

And so God bless our noble state,

And save us all from harm,

And grant us food enough to eat,

And clothes to keep us warm.

Send us a lasting peace, and keep

The times from growing worse;

And let us all in safety sleep,

With silver in our purse.