Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  The Pen and the Album

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

William Makepeace Thackeray 1811–63

The Pen and the Album


“I AM Miss Catherine’s book” (the Album speaks);

“I ’ve lain among your tomes these many weeks;

I ’m tir’d of your old coats and yellow cheeks.

“Quick, Pen! and write a line with a good grace;

Come! draw me off a funny little face;

And, prithee, send me back to Chesham Place.”


I am my master’s faithful old Gold Pen;

I ’ve serv’d him three long years, and drawn since then

Thousands of funny women and droll men.

O Album! could I tell you all his ways

And thoughts, since I am his, these thousand days,

Lord, how your pretty pages I ’d amaze!


His ways? his thoughts? Just whisper me a few;

Tell me a curious anecdote or two,

And write ’em quickly off, good Mordan, do!


Since he my faithful service did engage

To follow him through his queer pilgrimage,

I ’ve drawn and written many a line and page.

Caricatures I scribbled have, and rhymes,

And dinner cards, and picture pantomimes,

And merry little children’s books at times.

I ’ve writ the foolish fancy of his brain;

The aimless jest that, striking, hath caus’d pain;

The idle word that he’d wish back again.

I ’ve help’d him to pen many a line for bread;

To joke, with sorrow aching in his head;

And make your laughter when his own heart bled.

I ’ve spoke with men of all degree and sort—

Peers of the land, and ladies of the Court;

O, but I ’ve chonicled a deal of sport.

Feasts that were ate a thousand days ago,

Biddings to wine that long hath ceas’d to flow,

Gay meetings with good fellows long laid low;

Summons to bridal, banquet, burial, ball,

Tradesman’s polite reminders of his small

Account due Christmas last—I ’ve answer’d all.

Poor Diddler’s tenth petition for a half

Guinea; Miss Bunyan’s for an autograph;

So I refuse, accept, lament, or laugh,

Condole, congratulate, invite, praise, scoff,

Day after day still dipping in my trough,

And scribbling pages after pages off.

Day after day the labor’s to be done,

And sure as comes the postman and the sun,

The indefatigable ink must run.

Go back, my pretty little gilded tome,

To a fair mistress and a pleasant home,

Where soft hearts greet us whensoe’er we come.

Dear, friendly eyes, with constant kindness lit,

However rude my verse, or poor my wit,

Or sad or gay my mood, you welcome it.

Kind lady! till my last of lines is penn’d,

My master’s love, grief, laughter, at an end,

Whene’er I write your name, may I write friend!

Not all are so that were so in past years;

Voices, familiar once, no more he hears;

Names, often writ, are blotted out in tears.

So be it:—joys will end and tears will dry—

Album! my master bids me wish good-by;

He ’ll send you to your mistress presently.

And thus with thankful heart he closes you;

Blessing the happy hour when a friend he knew

So gentle, and so generous, and so true.

Nor pass the words as idle phrases by;

Stranger! I never writ a flattery,

Nor sign’d the page that register’d a lie.