Finley Peter Dunne explains High Finance


While I imagine many people are interested in How To Understand International Finance these days, I thought I’d step back to the turn of the 20th century and Finley Peter Dunne’s Mister Dooley, who in Mr Dooley’s Philosophy explains high finance. And yes, I understand, the dialect writing makes it harder to read. It’s worth it.

Mister Dooley on: HIGH FINANCE

“I THINK,” said Mr. Dooley, “I’ll go down to th’ stock yards an’ buy a dhrove iv Steel an’ Wire stock.”

“Where wud ye keep it?” asked the unsuspecting Hennessy.

“I’ll put it out on th’ vacant lot,” said Mr. Dooley, “an’ lave it grow fat by atin’ ol’ bur-rd cages an’ tin cans. I’ll milk it hard, an’ whin ’tis dhry I’ll dispose iv it to th’ widdies an’ orphans iv th’ Sixth Ward that need household pets. Be hivins, if they give me half a chanst, I’ll be as gr-reat a fi-nanceer as anny man in Wall sthreet.

“Th’ reason I’m so confident iv th’ value iv Steel an’ Wire stock, Hinnissy, is they’re goin’ to hur-rl th’ chairman iv th’ comity into jail. That’s what th’ pa-apers calls a ray iv hope in th’ clouds iv dipression that’ve covered th’ market so long. `Tis always a bull argymint. `Snowplows common was up two pints this mornin’ on th’ rumor that th’ prisidint was undher ar-rest.’ `They was a gr-reat bulge in Lobster preferred caused be th’ report that instead iv declarin’ a dividend iv three hundhred per cint. th’ comp’ny was preparin’ to imprison th’ boord iv directors.’ `We sthrongly ricommind th’ purchase iv Con and Founder. This comp’ny is in ixcillint condition since th’ hangin’ iv th’ comity on reorganization.’

“What’s th’ la-ad been doin’, Hinnissy? He’s been lettin’ his frinds in on th’ groun’ flure — an’ dhroppin’ thim into th’ cellar. Ye know Cassidy, over in th’ Fifth, him that was in th’ ligislachure? Well, sir, he was a gr-reat frind iv this man. They met down in Springfield whin th’ la-ad had some thing he wanted to get through that wud protect th’ widdies an’ orphans iv th’ counthry again their own avarice, an’ he must’ve handed Cassidy a good argymint, f’r Cassidy voted f’r th’ bill, though threatened with lynchin’ be stockholders iv th’ rival comp’ny. He come back here so covered with dimons that wan night whin he was standin’ on th’ rollin’ mill dock, th’ captain iv th’ Eliza Brown mistook his shirt front f’r th’ bridge lights an’ steered into a soap facthry on th’ lee or gas-house shore.

“Th’ man made a sthrong impression on Cassidy. ‘Twas : `As me frind Jawn says,’ or `I’ll ask Jawn about that,’ or `I’m goin’ downtown to-day to find out what Jawn advises.’ He used to play a dollar on th’ horses or sivin-up f’r th’ dhrinks, but afther he met Jawn he wanted me to put in a tick er, an’ he wud set in here figurin’ with a piece iv chalk on how high Wire’d go if hoopskirts come into fashion again. `Give me a dhrop iv whisky,’ he says, ` f’r I’m inthrested in Distillers,’ he says, `an’ I’d like to give it a shove,’ he says. `How’s Gas?’ he says. `A little weak, to-day,’ says I. `’Twill be sthronger,’ he says. `If it ain’t,’ says I, `I’ll take out th’ meter an’ connect th’ pipe with th’ ventilator. I might as well bur-rn th’ wind free as buy it,’ I says.

“A couple iv weeks ago he see Jawn an’ they had a long talk about it. `Cassidy,’ says Jawn, `ye’ve been a good frind iv mine,’ he says, an’ I’d do annything in the wurruld t’r ye, no matther what it cost ye,’ he says. `If ye need a little money to tide over th’ har-rd times till th’ ligislachure meets again buy’ — an’ he whispered in Cassidy’s ear. `But,’ he says, `don’t tell annywan. ‘Tis a good thing, but I want to keep it bottled up,’ he says.

“Thin Jawn took th’ thrain an’ begun confidin’ his secret to a few select frinds. He give it to th’ conductor on th’ thrain, an’ th’ porther, an’ th’ can dy butcher; he handed it to a switchman that got on th’ platform at South Bend, an’ he stopped off at Detroit long enough to tell about it to the deepo’ policeman. He had a sign painted with th’ tip on it an’ hung it out th’ window, an’ he found a man that carrid a thrombone in a band goin’ over to Buffalo, an’ he had him set th’ good thing to music an’ play it through th’ thrain. Whin he got to New York he stopped at the Waldorf Asthoria, an’ while th’ barber was powdhrin’ his face with groun’ dimons Jawn tol’ him to take th’ money he was goin’ to buy a policy ticket with an’ get in on th’ good thing. He tol’ th’ bootblack, th’ waiter, th’ man at th’ news-stand, th’ clerk behind th’ desk, an’ th’ bartinder in his humble abode. He got up a stereopticon show with pitchers iv a widow-an-orphan befure an’ afther wirin’, an’ he put an advertisement in all th’ pa-apers tellin’ how his stock wud make weak men sthrong. He had th’ tip sarved hot in all th’ resthrants in Wall sthreet, an’ told it confidintially to an open-air meetin’ in Madison Square. `They’se nawthin,’ he says, `that does a tip so much good as to give it circulation,’ he says.’ I think, be this time,’ he says, `all me frinds knows how to proceed, but — Great Hivins!’ he says. `What have I done? Whin all the poor people go to get th’ stock they won’t be anny f’r thim. I can not lave thim thus in th’ lurch. Me reputation as a gintleman an’ a fi-nanceer is at stake,’ he says. `Rather than see these brave people starvin’ at th’ dure f’r a morsel iv common or preferred, I’ll — I’ll sell thim me own stock,’ he says. An’ he done it. He done it, Hinnissy, with unfalthrin’ courage an’ a clear eye. He sold thim his stock, an’ so’s they might get what was left at a raysonable price, he wrote a confidintial note to th’ pa-apers tellin’ thim th’ stock wasn’t worth thirty cints a cord, an’ now, be hivins, they’re talkin’ iv puttin’ him in a common jail or pinitinchry pre ferred. Th’ ingratichood iv man.”

“But what about Cassidy?” Mr. Hennessy asked.

“Oh,” said Mr. Dooley, “he was in here las’ night. `How’s our old frind Jawn?’ says I. He said nawthin’. `Have ye seen ye’er collidge chum iv late?’ says I. `Don’t mintion that ma-an’s name,’ says he. `To think iv what I’ve done f’r him,’ he says, `an’ him to throw me down,’ he says. `Did ye play th’ tip?’ says I. `I did,’ says he. `How did ye come out?’ says I. `I haven’t a cint lift but me renommynation f’r th’ ligislachure,’ says he. `Well,’ says I, `Cassidy,’ I says, `ye’ve been up again what th’ pa-apers call hawt finance,’ I says. `What th’ divvle’s that?’ says he. `Well,’ says I, `it ain’t burglary, an’ it ain’t obtainin’ money be false pretinses, an’ it ain’t manslaughter,’ I says. `It’s what ye might call a judicious seliction fr’m th’ best features iv thim ar-rts,’ I says. `T’was too sthrong f’r me,’ he says. `It was,’ says I. `Ye’re about up to simple thransom climbin’, Cassidy,’ I says.”

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

4 thoughts on “Finley Peter Dunne explains High Finance”

    1. It’s a cute coincidence, though. Sadly most politicians don’t get to have any really remarkably good quotes, unless they’re either great orators or they say something spectacularly embarrassing. Funny and wise is rare.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We had one who was absolutely a great orator, and very funny when he felt like it – a master of the one-word put down, bon mots and so forth. David Lange, the Prime Minister 1984-89. I still remember the time he was being physically pursued by the media over some forgettable drama de jour. ‘Give us a word, Prime Minister.’ Lange turned and said: ‘Wombat.’

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        1. Oh, that’s a fine one. I do like a politician unafraid of deploying wit. I mean, I prefer good judgement, a healthy balance of resolve and flexibility, compassion, and perception and all that. But knowing the words to penetrate the fog of the day is also good.

          Liked by 1 person

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