"A Penny Saved Is A Penny Got"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Imitating the manner of Edmund Spenser in diction, treatment of subject matter, and stanza pattern, the poet describes a romantic castle in a "pleasing land of drowsyhed." The castle is a retreat for a wizard named Indolence. One of the amusements of the inhabitants of the castle and their visitors is to gaze into a "huge crystal magic globe," named Vanity's Mirror. The crystal ball showed "as you turned, all things that do pass/ Upon this ant-hill earth; where constantly/ Of idly-busy men the restless fry/ Run bustling to and fro with foolish haste/ In search of pleasures vain. . . ." Looking into the magic ball one can see spendthrift, foppish heirs, studious scholars, literary men, politicians, soldiers, and all other kinds of humans. Among them is that race of towndwellers that follows narrow commercial interests, seeking to lay up wealth, in Thomson's view a labor of vanity:

"Of Vanity the Mirror" this was called.
Here you a muckworm of the town might see
At his dull desk, amid his ledgers stalled,
Eat up with carking care and penurie,
Most like to carcase parched on gallow-tree.
"A penny savèd is a penny got"–
Firm to this scoundrel maxim keepeth he,
Ne of its rigour will he bate a jot,
Till it has quenched his fire, and banishèd his pot.