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More Bab Ballads by W. S. Gilbert

Part 3 out of 3

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You have chosen wisely.
Tell your father
I would rather
As a churchman rank you.
You, in clover,
I'll watch over."
GEORGIE said, "Oh, thank you!"

GEORGIE scudded,
Went and studied,
Made all preparations,
And with credit
(Though he said it)
Passed examinations.
(Do not quarrel
With him, moral,
Scrupulous digestions--
'Twas his mother,
And no other,
Answered all the questions.)

Time proceeded;
Little needed
GEORGIE admonition:
He, elated,
Vindicated
Clergyman's position.
People round him
Always found him
Plain and unpretending;
Kindly teaching,
Plainly preaching,
All his money lending.

So the fairy,
Wise and wary,
Felt no sorrow rising--
No occasion
For persuasion,
Warning, or advising.
He, resuming
Fairy pluming
(That's not English, is it?)
Oft would fly up,
To the sky up,
Pay mamma a visit.

* * * * * * * *

Time progressing,
GEORGIE'S blessing
Grew more Ritualistic--
Popish scandals,
Tonsures--sandals--
Genuflections mystic;
Gushing meetings--
Bosom-beatings--
Heavenly ecstatics--
Broidered spencers--
Copes and censers--
Rochets and dalmatics.

This quandary
Vexed the fairy--
Flew she down to Ealing.
"GEORGIE, stop it!
Pray you, drop it;
Hark to my appealing:
To this foolish
Papal rule-ish
Twaddle put an ending;
This a swerve is
From our Service
Plain and unpretending."

He, replying,
Answered, sighing,
Hawing, hemming, humming,
"It's a pity--
They're so pritty;
Yet in mode becoming,
Mother tender,
I'll surrender--
I'll be unaffected--"
But his Bishop
Into HIS shop
Entered unexpected!

"Who is this, sir,--
Ballet miss, sir?"
Said the Bishop coldly.
"'T is my mother,
And no other,"
GEORGIE answered boldly.
"Go along, sir!
You are wrong, sir;
You have years in plenty,
While this hussy
(Gracious mussy!)
Isn't two and twenty!"

(Fairies clever
Never, never
Grow in visage older;
And the fairy,
All unwary,
Leant upon his shoulder!)
Bishop grieved him,
Disbelieved him;
GEORGE the point grew warm on;
Changed religion,
Like a pigeon, {12}
And became a Mormon!

Ballad: The Way Of Wooing

A maiden sat at her window wide,
Pretty enough for a Prince's bride,
Yet nobody came to claim her.
She sat like a beautiful picture there,
With pretty bluebells and roses fair,
And jasmine-leaves to frame her.
And why she sat there nobody knows;
But this she sang as she plucked a rose,
The leaves around her strewing:
"I've time to lose and power to choose;
'T is not so much the gallant who woos,
But the gallant's WAY of wooing!"

A lover came riding by awhile,
A wealthy lover was he, whose smile
Some maids would value greatly--
A formal lover, who bowed and bent,
With many a high-flown compliment,
And cold demeanour stately,
"You've still," said she to her suitor stern,
"The 'prentice-work of your craft to learn,
If thus you come a-cooing.
I've time to lose and power to choose;
'T is not so much the gallant who woos,
As the gallant's WAY of wooing!"

A second lover came ambling by--
A timid lad with a frightened eye
And a colour mantling highly.
He muttered the errand on which he'd come,
Then only chuckled and bit his thumb,
And simpered, simpered shyly.
"No," said the maiden, "go your way;
You dare but think what a man would say,
Yet dare to come a-suing!
I've time to lose and power to choose;
'T is not so much the gallant who woos,
As the gallant's WAY of wooing!"

A third rode up at a startling pace--
A suitor poor, with a homely face--
No doubts appeared to bind him.
He kissed her lips and he pressed her waist,
And off he rode with the maiden, placed
On a pillion safe behind him.
And she heard the suitor bold confide
This golden hint to the priest who tied
The knot there's no undoing;
With pretty young maidens who can choose,
'Tis not so much the gallant who woos,
As the gallant's WAY of wooing!"

Ballad: Hongree And Mahry. A Recollection Of A Surrey Melodrama

The sun was setting in its wonted west,
When HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
Met MAHRY DAUBIGNY, the Village Rose,
Under the Wizard's Oak--old trysting-place
Of those who loved in rosy Aquitaine.

They thought themselves unwatched, but they were not;
For HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
Found in LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOOLES DUBOSC
A rival, envious and unscrupulous,
Who thought it not foul scorn to dodge his steps,
And listen, unperceived, to all that passed
Between the simple little Village Rose
And HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores.

A clumsy barrack-bully was DUBOSC,
Quite unfamiliar with the well-bred tact
That animates a proper gentleman
In dealing with a girl of humble rank.
You'll understand his coarseness when I say
He would have married MAHRY DAUBIGNY,
And dragged the unsophisticated girl
Into the whirl of fashionable life,
For which her singularly rustic ways,
Her breeding (moral, but extremely rude),
Her language (chaste, but ungrammatical),
Would absolutely have unfitted her.
How different to this unreflecting boor
Was HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores.

Contemporary with the incident
Related in our opening paragraph,
Was that sad war 'twixt Gallia and ourselves
That followed on the treaty signed at Troyes;
And so LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOOLES DUBOSC
(Brave soldier, he, with all his faults of style)
And HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
Were sent by CHARLES of France against the lines
Of our Sixth HENRY (Fourteen twenty-nine),
To drive his legions out of Aquitaine.

When HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
Returned, suspecting nothing, to his camp,
After his meeting with the Village Rose,
He found inside his barrack letter-box
A note from the commanding officer,
Requiring his attendance at head-quarters.
He went, and found LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOOLES.

"Young HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
This night we shall attack the English camp:
Be the 'forlorn hope' yours--you'll lead it, sir,
And lead it too with credit, I've no doubt.
As every man must certainly be killed
(For you are twenty 'gainst two thousand men),
It is not likely that you will return.
But what of that? you'll have the benefit
Of knowing that you die a soldier's death."

Obedience was young HONGREE'S strongest point,
But he imagined that he only owed
Allegiance to his MAHRY and his King.
"If MAHRY bade me lead these fated men,
I'd lead them--but I do not think she would.
If CHARLES, my King, said, 'Go, my son, and die,'
I'd go, of course--my duty would be clear.
But MAHRY is in bed asleep, I hope,
And CHARLES, my King, a hundred leagues from this.
As for LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOOLES DUBOSC,
How know I that our monarch would approve
The order he has given me to-night?
My King I've sworn in all things to obey--
I'll only take my orders from my King!"
Thus HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
Interpreted the terms of his commission.

And HONGREE, who was wise as he was good,
Disguised himself that night in ample cloak,
Round flapping hat, and vizor mask of black,
And made, unnoticed, for the English camp.
He passed the unsuspecting sentinels
(Who little thought a man in this disguise
Could be a proper object of suspicion),
And ere the curfew bell had boomed "lights out,"
He found in audience Bedford's haughty Duke.

"Your Grace," he said, "start not--be not alarmed,
Although a Frenchman stands before your eyes.
I'm HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores.
My Colonel will attack your camp to-night,
And orders me to lead the hope forlorn.
Now I am sure our excellent KING CHARLES
Would not approve of this; but he's away
A hundred leagues, and rather more than that.
So, utterly devoted to my King,
Blinded by my attachment to the throne,
And having but its interest at heart,
I feel it is my duty to disclose
All schemes that emanate from COLONEL JOOLES,
If I believe that they are not the kind
Of schemes that our good monarch would approve."

"But how," said Bedford's Duke, "do you propose
That we should overthrow your Colonel's scheme?"
And HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
Replied at once with never-failing tact:
"Oh, sir, I know this cursed country well.
Entrust yourself and all your host to me;
I'll lead you safely by a secret path
Into the heart of COLONEL JOOLES' array,
And you can then attack them unprepared,
And slay my fellow-countrymen unarmed."

The thing was done. The DUKE of BEDFORD gave
The order, and two thousand fighting men
Crept silently into the Gallic camp,
And slew the Frenchmen as they lay asleep;
And Bedford's haughty Duke slew COLONEL JOOLES,
And gave fair MAHRY, pride of Aquitaine,
To HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores.

Ballad: Etiquette

The Ballyshannon foundered off the coast of Cariboo,
And down in fathoms many went the captain and the crew;
Down went the owners--greedy men whom hope of gain allured:
Oh, dry the starting tear, for they were heavily insured.

Besides the captain and the mate, the owners and the crew,
The passengers were also drowned excepting only two:
Young PETER GRAY, who tasted teas for BAKER, CROOP, AND CO.,
And SOMERS, who from Eastern shores imported indigo.

These passengers, by reason of their clinging to a mast,
Upon a desert island were eventually cast.
They hunted for their meals, as ALEXANDER SELKIRK used,
But they couldn't chat together--they had not been introduced.

For PETER GRAY, and SOMERS too, though certainly in trade,
Were properly particular about the friends they made;
And somehow thus they settled it without a word of mouth--
That GRAY should take the northern half, while SOMERS took the south.

On PETER'S portion oysters grew--a delicacy rare,
But oysters were a delicacy PETER couldn't bear.
On SOMERS' side was turtle, on the shingle lying thick,
Which SOMERS couldn't eat, because it always made him sick.

GRAY gnashed his teeth with envy as he saw a mighty store
Of turtle unmolested on his fellow-creature's shore.
The oysters at his feet aside impatiently he shoved,
For turtle and his mother were the only things he loved.

And SOMERS sighed in sorrow as he settled in the south,
For the thought of PETER'S oysters brought the water to his mouth.
He longed to lay him down upon the shelly bed, and stuff:
He had often eaten oysters, but had never had enough.

How they wished an introduction to each other they had had
When on board the Ballyshannon! And it drove them nearly mad
To think how very friendly with each other they might get,
If it wasn't for the arbitrary rule of etiquette!

One day, when out a-hunting for the mus ridiculus,
GRAY overheard his fellow-man soliloquizing thus:
"I wonder how the playmates of my youth are getting on,
M'CONNELL, S. B. WALTERS, PADDY BYLES, and ROBINSON?"

These simple words made PETER as delighted as could be,
Old chummies at the Charterhouse were ROBINSON and he!
He walked straight up to SOMERS, then he turned extremely red,
Hesitated, hummed and hawed a bit, then cleared his throat, and said:

I beg your pardon--pray forgive me if I seem too bold,
But you have breathed a name I knew familiarly of old.
You spoke aloud of ROBINSON--I happened to be by.
You know him?" "Yes, extremely well." "Allow me, so do I."

It was enough: they felt they could more pleasantly get on,
For (ah, the magic of the fact!) they each knew ROBINSON!
And Mr. SOMERS' turtle was at PETER'S service quite,
And Mr. SOMERS punished PETER'S oyster-beds all night.

They soon became like brothers from community of wrongs:
They wrote each other little odes and sang each other songs;
They told each other anecdotes disparaging their wives;
On several occasions, too, they saved each other's lives.

They felt quite melancholy when they parted for the night,
And got up in the morning soon as ever it was light;
Each other's pleasant company they reckoned so upon,
And all because it happened that they both knew ROBINSON!

They lived for many years on that inhospitable shore,
And day by day they learned to love each other more and more.
At last, to their astonishment, on getting up one day,
They saw a frigate anchored in the offing of the bay.

To PETER an idea occurred. "Suppose we cross the main?
So good an opportunity may not be found again."
And SOMERS thought a minute, then ejaculated, "Done!
I wonder how my business in the City's getting on?"

"But stay," said Mr. PETER: "when in England, as you know,
I earned a living tasting teas for BAKER, CROOP, AND CO.,
I may be superseded--my employers think me dead!"
"Then come with me," said SOMERS, "and taste indigo instead."

But all their plans were scattered in a moment when they found
The vessel was a convict ship from Portland, outward bound;
When a boat came off to fetch them, though they felt it very kind,
To go on board they firmly but respectfully declined.

As both the happy settlers roared with laughter at the joke,
They recognized a gentlemanly fellow pulling stroke:
'Twas ROBINSON--a convict, in an unbecoming frock!
Condemned to seven years for misappropriating stock!!!

They laughed no more, for SOMERS thought he had been rather rash
In knowing one whose friend had misappropriated cash;
And PETER thought a foolish tack he must have gone upon
In making the acquaintance of a friend of ROBINSON.

At first they didn't quarrel very openly, I've heard;
They nodded when they met, and now and then exchanged a word:
The word grew rare, and rarer still the nodding of the head,
And when they meet each other now, they cut each other dead.

To allocate the island they agreed by word of mouth,
And PETER takes the north again, and SOMERS takes the south;
And PETER has the oysters, which he hates, in layers thick,
And SOMERS has the turtle--turtle always makes him sick.

Foonotes:

{1} "Go with me to a Notary--seal me there
Your single bond."--Merchant of Venice, Act I., sc. 3.

{2} "And there shall she, at Friar Lawrence' cell,
Be shrived and married."--Romeo and Juliet, Act II., sc. 4.

{3} "And give the fasting horses provender."--Henry the Fifth, Act
IV., sc. 2.

{4} "Let us, like merchants, show our foulest wares."--Troilus and
Cressida, Act I., sc. 3.

{5} "Then must the Jew be merciful."--Merchant of Venice, Act IV., sc.
1.

{6} "The spring, the summer,
The chilling autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries."--Midsummer Night Dream, Act IV., sc. 1.

{7} "In the county of Glo'ster, justice of the peace and coram."
Merry Wives of Windsor, Act I., sc. 1.

{8} "What lusty trumpet thus doth summon us?"--King John, Act V., sc.
2.

{9} "And I'll provide his executioner."--Henry the Sixth (Second
Part), Act III., sc. 1.

{10} "The lioness had torn some flesh away,
Which all this while had bled."--As You Like It, Act IV., sc. 3.

{11} Described by MUNGO PARK.

{12} "Like a bird."--Slang expression.

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