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Songs of a Savoyard by W. S. Gilbert

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That's subject to no academic rule;
You may find it in the jeering of a jest,
Or distil it from the folly of a fool.
I can teach you with a quip, if I've a mind;
I can trick you into learning with a laugh;
Oh, winnow all my folly, and you'll find
A grain or two of truth among the chaff!

I can set a braggart quailing with a quip,
The upstart I can wither with a whim;
He may wear a merry laugh upon his lip,
But his laughter has an echo that is grim.
When they've offered to the world in merry guise,
Unpleasant truths are swallowed with a will -
For he who'd make his fellow-creatures wise
Should always gild the philosophic pill!

Ballad: Blue Blood

Spurn not the nobly born
With love affected,
Nor treat with virtuous scorn
The well connected.
High rank involves no shame -
We boast an equal claim
With him of humble name
To be respected!
Blue blood! Blue blood!
When virtuous love is sought,
Thy power is naught,
Though dating from the Flood,
Blue blood!

Spare us the bitter pain
Of stern denials,
Nor with low-born disdain
Augment our trials.
Hearts just as pure and fair
May beat in Belgrave Square
As in the lowly air
Of Seven Dials!
Blue blood! Blue blood!
Of what avail art thou
To serve me now?
Though dating from the Flood,
Blue blood!

Ballad: The Judge's Song

When I, good friends, was called to the Bar,
I'd an appetite fresh and hearty,
But I was, as many young barristers are,
An impecunious party.
I'd a swallow-tail coat of a beautiful blue -
A brief which was brought by a booby -
A couple of shirts and a collar or two,
And a ring that looked like a ruby!

In Westminster Hall I danced a dance,
Like a semi-despondent fury;
For I thought I should never hit on a chance
Of addressing a British Jury -
But I soon got tired of third-class journeys,
And dinners of bread and water;
So I fell in love with a rich attorney's
Elderly, ugly daughter.

The rich attorney, he wiped his eyes,
And replied to my fond professions:
"You shall reap the reward of your enterprise,
At the Bailey and Middlesex Sessions.
You'll soon get used to her looks," said he,
"And a very nice girl you'll find her -
She may very well pass for forty-three
In the dusk, with a light behind her!"

The rich attorney was as good as his word:
The briefs came trooping gaily,
And every day my voice was heard
At the Sessions or Ancient Bailey.
All thieves who could my fees afford
Relied on my orations,
And many a burglar I've restored
To his friends and his relations.

At length I became as rich as the GURNEYS -
An incubus then I thought her,
So I threw over that rich attorney's
Elderly, ugly daughter.
The rich attorney my character high
Tried vainly to disparage -
And now, if you please, I'm ready to try
This Breach of Promise of Marriage!

Ballad: When I First Put This Uniform On

When I first put this uniform on,
I said, as I looked in the glass,
"It's one to a million
That any civilian
My figure and form will surpass.
Gold lace has a charm for the fair,
And I've plenty of that, and to spare,
While a lover's professions,
When uttered in Hessians,
Are eloquent everywhere!"
A fact that I counted upon,
When I first put this uniform on!

I said, when I first put it on,
"It is plain to the veriest dunce
That every beauty
Will feel it her duty
To yield to its glamour at once.
They will see that I'm freely gold-laced
In a uniform handsome and chaste" -
But the peripatetics
Of long-haired aesthetics,
Are very much more to their taste -
Which I never counted upon
When I first put this uniform on!

Ballad: Solatium

Comes the broken flower -
Comes the cheated maid -
Though the tempest lower,
Rain and cloud will fade!
Take, O maid, these posies:
Though thy beauty rare
Shame the blushing roses,
They are passing fair!
Wear the flowers till they fade;
Happy be thy life, O maid!

O'er the season vernal,
Time may cast a shade;
Sunshine, if eternal,
Makes the roses fade:
Time may do his duty;
Let the thief alone -
Winter hath a beauty
That is all his own.
Fairest days are sun and shade:
Happy be thy life, O maid!

Ballad: A Nightmare

When you're lying awake with a dismal headache, and repose is
taboo'd by anxiety,
I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in
without impropriety;
For your brain is on fire - the bedclothes conspire of usual
slumber to plunder you:
First your counterpane goes and uncovers your toes, and your sheet
slips demurely from under you;
Then the blanketing tickles - you feel like mixed pickles, so
terribly sharp is the pricking,
And you're hot, and you're cross, and you tumble and toss till
there's nothing 'twixt you and the ticking.
Then the bedclothes all creep to the ground in a heap, and you pick
'em all up in a tangle;
Next your pillow resigns and politely declines to remain at its
usual angle!
Well, you get some repose in the form of a doze, with hot eyeballs
and head ever aching,
But your slumbering teems with such horrible dreams that you'd very
much better be waking;
For you dream you are crossing the Channel, and tossing about in a
steamer from Harwich,
Which is something between a large bathing-machine and a very small
second-class carriage;
And you're giving a treat (penny ice and cold meat) to a party of
friends and relations -
They're a ravenous horde - and they all came on board at Sloane
Square and South Kensington Stations.
And bound on that journey you find your attorney (who started that
morning from Devon);
He's a bit undersized, and you don't feel surprised when he tells
you he's only eleven.
Well, you're driving like mad with this singular lad (by the bye
the ship's now a four-wheeler),
And you're playing round games, and he calls you bad names when you
tell him that "ties pay the dealer";
But this you can't stand, so you throw up your hand, and you find
you're as cold as an icicle,
In your shirt and your socks (the black silk with gold clocks),
crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle:
And he and the crew are on bicycles too - which they've somehow or
other invested in -
And he's telling the tars all the particuLARS of a company he's
interested in -
It's a scheme of devices, to get at low prices, all goods from
cough mixtures to cables
(Which tickled the sailors) by treating retailers, as though they
were all vegeTAbles -
You get a good spadesman to plant a small tradesman (first take off
his boots with a boot-tree),
And his legs will take root, and his fingers will shoot, and
they'll blossom and bud like a fruit-tree -
From the greengrocer tree you get grapes and green pea,
cauliflower, pineapple, and cranberries,
While the pastry-cook plant cherry-brandy will grant - apple puffs,
and three-corners, and banberries -
The shares are a penny, and ever so many are taken by ROTHSCHILD
And just as a few are allotted to you, you awake with a shudder
despairing -
You're a regular wreck, with a crick in your neck, and no wonder
you snore, for your head's on the floor, and you've needles and
pins from your soles to your shins, and your flesh is a-creep, for
your left leg's asleep, and you've cramp in your toes, and a fly on
your nose, and some fluff in your lung, and a feverish tongue, and
a thirst that's intense, and a general sense that you haven't been
sleeping in clover;
But the darkness has passed, and it's daylight at last, and the
night has been long - ditto, ditto my song - and thank goodness
they're both of them over!

Ballad: Don't Forget!

Now, Marco, dear,
My wishes hear:
While you're away
It's understood
You will be good,
And not too gay.
To every trace
Of maiden grace
You will be blind,
And will not glance
By any chance
On womankind!
If you are wise,
You'll shut your eyes
Till we arrive,
And not address
A lady less
Than forty-five;
You'll please to frown
On every gown
That you may see;
And O, my pet,
You won't forget
You've married me!

O, my darling, O, my pet,
Whatever else you may forget,
In yonder isle beyond the sea,
O, don't forget you've married me!

You'll lay your head
Upon your bed
At set of sun.
You will not sing
Of anything
To any one:
You'll sit and mope
All day, I hope,
And shed a tear
Upon the life
Your little wife
Is passing here!
And if so be
You think of me,
Please tell the moon;
I'll read it all
In rays that fall
On the lagoon:
You'll be so kind
As tell the wind
How you may be,
And send me words
By little birds
To comfort me!

And O, my darling, O, my pet,
Whatever else you may forget,
In yonder isle beyond the sea,
O, don't forget you've married me!

Ballad: The Suicide's Grave

On a tree by a river a little tomtit
Sang "Willow, titwillow, titwillow!"
And I said to him, "Dicky-bird, why do you sit
Singing 'Willow, titwillow, titwillow'?
Is it weakness of intellect, birdie?" I cried,
"Or a rather tough worm in your little inside?"
With a shake of his poor little head he replied,
"Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!"

He slapped at his chest, as he sat on that bough,
Singing "Willow, titwillow, titwillow!"
And a cold perspiration bespangled his brow,
Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!
He sobbed and he sighed, and a gurgle he gave,
Then he threw himself into the billowy wave,
And an echo arose from the suicide's grave -
"Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!"

Now I feel just as sure as I'm sure that my name
Isn't Willow, titwillow, titwillow,
That 'twas blighted affection that made him exclaim,
"Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!"
And if you remain callous and obdurate, I
Shall perish as he did, and you will know why,
Though I probably shall not exclaim as I die,
"Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!"

Ballad: He And She

[HE.] I know a youth who loves a little maid -
(Hey, but his face is a sight for to see!)
Silent is he, for he's modest and afraid -
(Hey, but he's timid as a youth can be!)
[SHE.] I know a maid who loves a gallant youth -
(Hey, but she sickens as the days go by!)
SHE cannot tell him all the sad, sad truth -
(Hey, but I think that little maid will die!)
[BOTH.] Now tell me pray, and tell me true,
What in the world should the poor soul do?

[HE.] He cannot eat and he cannot sleep -
(Hey, but his face is a sight for to see!)
Daily he goes for to wail - for to weep -
(Hey, but he's wretched as a youth can be!)
[SHE.] She's very thin and she's very pale -
(Hey, but she sickens as the days go by!)
Daily she goes for to weep - for to wail -
(Hey, but I think that little maid will die!)
[BOTH.] Now tell me pray, and tell me true,
What in the world should the poor soul do?

[SHE.] If I were the youth I should offer her my name -
(Hey, but her face is a sight for to see!)
[HE.] If I were the maid I should fan his honest flame -
(Hey, but he's bashful as a youth can be!)
[SHE.] If I were the youth I should speak to her to-day -
(Hey, but she sickens as the days go by!)
[HE.] If I were the maid I should meet the lad half way -
(For I really do believe that timid youth will die!)
[BOTH.] I thank you much for your counsel true;
I've learnt what that poor soul ought to do!

Ballad: The Mighty Must

Come mighty Must!
Inevitable Shall!
In thee I trust.
Time weaves my coronal!
Go mocking Is!
Go disappointing Was!
That I am this
Ye are the cursed cause!
Yet humble Second shall be First,
I ween;
And dead and buried be the curst
Has Been!

Oh weak Might Be!
Oh May, Might, Could, Would, Should!
How powerless ye
For evil or for good!
In every sense
Your moods I cheerless call,
Whate'er your tense
Ye are Imperfect, all!
Ye have deceived the trust I've shown
In ye!
Away! The Mighty Must alone
Shall be!

Ballad: A Mirage

Were I thy bride,
Then the whole world beside
Were not too wide
To hold my wealth of love -
Were I thy bride!
Upon thy breast
My loving head would rest,
As on her nest
The tender turtle-dove -
Were I thy bride!

This heart of mine
Would be one heart with thine,
And in that shrine
Our happiness would dwell -
Were I thy bride!
And all day long
Our lives should be a song:
No grief, no wrong
Should make my heart rebel -
Were I thy bride!

The silvery flute,
The melancholy lute,
Were night-owl's hoot
To my low-whispered coo -
Were I thy bride!
The skylark's trill
Were but discordance shrill
To the soft thrill
Of wooing as I'd woo -
Were I thy bride!

The rose's sigh
Were as a carrion's cry
To lullaby
Such as I'd sing to thee -
Were I thy bride!
A feather's press
Were leaden heaviness
To my caress.
But then, unhappily,
I'm not thy bride!

Ballad: The Ghosts' High Noon

When the night wind howls in the chimney cowls, and the bat in the
moonlight flies,
And inky clouds, like funeral shrouds, sail over the midnight skies
When the footpads quail at the night-bird's wail, and black dogs
bay the moon,
Then is the spectres' holiday - then is the ghosts' high noon!

As the sob of the breeze sweeps over the trees, and the mists lie
low on the fen,
From grey tombstones are gathered the bones that once were women
and men,
And away they go, with a mop and a mow, to the revel that ends too
For cockcrow limits our holiday - the dead of the night's high

And then each ghost with his ladye-toast to their churchyard beds
take flight,
With a kiss, perhaps, on her lantern chaps, and a grisly grim "good
Till the welcome knell of the midnight bell rings forth its
jolliest tune,
And ushers our next high holiday - the dead of the night's high

Ballad: The Humane Mikado

A more humane Mikado never
Did in Japan exist;
To nobody second,
I'm certainly reckoned
A true philanthropist.
It is my very humane endeavour
To make, to some extent,
Each evil liver
A running river
Of harmless merriment.

My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time -
To let the punishment fit the crime -
The punishment fit the crime;
And make each prisoner pent
Unwillingly represent
A source of innocent merriment -
Of innocent merriment!

All prosy dull society sinners,
Who chatter and bleat and bore,
Are sent to hear sermons
From mystical Germans
Who preach from ten to four:
The amateur tenor, whose vocal villainies
All desire to shirk,
Shall, during off-hours,
Exhibit his powers
To Madame Tussaud's waxwork:
The lady who dyes a chemical yellow,
Or stains her grey hair puce,
Or pinches her figger,
Is blacked like a nigger
With permanent walnut juice:
The idiot who, in railway carriages,
Scribbles on window panes,
We only suffer
To ride on a buffer
In Parliamentary trains.

My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time -
To let the punishment fit the crime -
The punishment fit the crime;
And make each prisoner pent
Unwillingly represent
A source of innocent merriment -
Of innocent merriment!

The advertising quack who wearies
With tales of countless cures,
His teeth, I've enacted,
Shall all be extracted
By terrified amateurs:
The music-hall singer attends a series
Of masses and fugues and "ops"
By Bach, interwoven
With Spohr and Beethoven,
At classical Monday Pops:
The billiard sharp whom any one catches
His doom's extremely hard -
He's made to dwell
In a dungeon cell
On a spot that's always barred;
And there he plays extravagant matches
In fitless finger-stalls,
On a cloth untrue
With a twisted cue,
And elliptical billiard balls!

My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time -
To let the punishment fit the crime -
The punishment fit the crime;
And make each prisoner pent
Unwillingly represent
A source of innocent merriment,
Of innocent merriment!

Ballad: Willow Waly!

[HE.] PRITHEE, pretty maiden - prithee, tell me true
(Hey, but I'm doleful, willow, willow waly!)
Have you e'er a lover a-dangling after you?
Hey, willow waly O!
I would fain discover
If you have a lover?
Hey, willow waly O!

[SHE.] Gentle sir, my heart is frolicsome and free -
(Hey, but he's doleful, willow, willow waly!)
Nobody I care for comes a-courting me -
Hey, willow waly O!
Nobody I care for
Comes a-courting - therefore,
Hey, willow waly O!

[HE.] Prithee, pretty maiden, will you marry me?
(Hey, but I'm hopeful, willow, willow waly!)
I may say, at once, I'm a man of propertee -
Hey, willow waly O!
Money, I despise it,
But many people prize it,
Hey, willow waly O!

[SHE.] Gentle sir, although to marry I design -
(Hey, but he's hopeful, willow, willow waly!)
As yet I do not know you, and so I must decline.
Hey, willow waly O!
To other maidens go you -
As yet I do not know you,
Hey, willow waly O!

Ballad: Life Is Lovely All The Year

When the buds are blossoming,
Smiling welcome to the spring,
Lovers choose a wedding day -
Life is love in merry May!

Spring is green - Fal lal la!
Summer's rose - Fal lal la!
It is sad when Summer goes,
Fal la!
Autumn's gold - Fal lal la!
Winter's grey - Fal lal la!
Winter still is far away -
Fal la!
Leaves in Autumn fade and fall;
Winter is the end of all.
Spring and summer teem with glee:
Spring and summer, then, for me!
Fal la!

In the Spring-time seed is sown:
In the Summer grass is mown:
In the Autumn you may reap:
Winter is the time for sleep.

Spring is hope - Fal lal la!
Summer's joy - Fal lal la!
Spring and Summer never cloy,
Fal la!
Autumn, toil - Fal lal la!
Winter, rest - Fal lal la!
Winter, after all, is best -
Fal la!
Spring and summer pleasure you,
Autumn, ay, and winter, too -
Every season has its cheer;
Life is lovely all the year!
Fal la!

Ballad: The Usher's Charge

Now, Jurymen, hear my advice -
All kinds of vulgar prejudice
I pray you set aside:
With stern judicial frame of mind -
From bias free of every kind,
This trial must be tried!

Oh, listen to the plaintiff's case:
Observe the features of her face -
The broken-hearted bride!
Condole with her distress of mind -
From bias free of every kind,
This trial must be tried!

And when amid the plaintiff's shrieks,
The ruffianly defendant speaks -
Upon the other side;
What HE may say you need not mind -
From bias free of every kind,
This trial must be tried!

Ballad: The Great Oak Tree

There grew a little flower
'Neath a great oak tree:
When the tempest 'gan to lower
Little heeded she:
No need had she to cower,
For she dreaded not its power -
She was happy in the bower
Of her great oak tree!
Sing hey,
Let the tears fall free
For the pretty little flower and the great oak tree!

When she found that he was fickle,
Was that great oak tree,
She was in a pretty pickle,
As she well might be -
But his gallantries were mickle,
For Death followed with his sickle,
And her tears began to trickle
For her great oak tree!
Sing hey,
Let the tears fall free
For the pretty little flower and the great oak tree!

Said she, "He loved me never,
Did that great oak tree,
But I'm neither rich nor clever,
And so why should he?
But though fate our fortunes sever,
To be constant I'll endeavour,
Ay, for ever and for ever,
To my great oak tree!"
Sing hey,
Let the tears fall free
For the pretty little flower and the great oak tree!

Ballad: King Goodheart

There lived a King, as I've been told
In the wonder-working days of old,
When hearts were twice as good as gold,
And twenty times as mellow.
Good temper triumphed in his face,
And in his heart he found a place
For all the erring human race
And every wretched fellow.
When he had Rhenish wine to drink
It made him very sad to think
That some, at junket or at jink,
Must be content with toddy:
He wished all men as rich as he
(And he was rich as rich could be),
So to the top of every tree
Promoted everybody.

Ambassadors cropped up like hay,
Prime Ministers and such as they
Grew like asparagus in May,
And Dukes were three a penny:
Lord Chancellors were cheap as sprats,
And Bishops in their shovel hats
Were plentiful as tabby cats -
If possible, too many.
On every side Field-Marshals gleamed,
Small beer were Lords-Lieutenants deemed,
With Admirals the ocean teemed,
All round his wide dominions;
And Party Leaders you might meet
In twos and threes in every street
Maintaining, with no little heat,
Their various opinions.

That King, although no one denies,
His heart was of abnormal size,
Yet he'd have acted otherwise
If he had been acuter.
The end is easily foretold,
When every blessed thing you hold
Is made of silver, or of gold,
You long for simple pewter.
When you have nothing else to wear
But cloth of gold and satins rare,
For cloth of gold you cease to care -
Up goes the price of shoddy:
In short, whoever you may be,
To this conclusion you'll agree,
When every one is somebody,
Then no one's anybody!

Ballad: Sleep On!

Fear no unlicensed entry,
Heed no bombastic talk,
While guards the British Sentry
Pall Mall and Birdcage Walk.
Let European thunders
Occasion no alarms,
Though diplomatic blunders
May cause a cry "To arms!"
Sleep on, ye pale civilians;
All thunder-clouds defy:
On Europe's countless millions
The Sentry keeps his eye!

Should foreign-born rapscallions
In London dare to show
Their overgrown battalions,
Be sure I'll let you know.
Should Russians or Norwegians
Pollute our favoured clime
With rough barbaric legions,
I'll mention it in time.
So sleep in peace, civilians,
The Continent defy;
While on its countless millions
The Sentry keeps his eye !

Ballad: The Love-Sick Boy

When first my old, old love I knew,
My bosom welled with joy;
My riches at her feet I threw;
I was a love-sick boy!
No terms seemed too extravagant
Upon her to employ -
I used to mope, and sigh, and pant,
Just like a love-sick boy!

But joy incessant palls the sense;
And love unchanged will cloy,
And she became a bore intense
Unto her love-sick boy?
With fitful glimmer burnt my flame,
And I grew cold and coy,
At last, one morning, I became
Another's love-sick boy!

Ballad: Poetry Everywhere

What time the poet hath hymned
The writhing maid, lithe-limbed,
Quivering on amaranthine asphodel,
How can he paint her woes,
Knowing, as well he knows,
That all can be set right with calomel?

When from the poet's plinth
The amorous colocynth
Yearns for the aloe, faint with rapturous thrills,
How can he hymn their throes
Knowing, as well he knows,
That they are only uncompounded pills?

Is it, and can it be,
Nature hath this decree,
Nothing poetic in the world shall dwell?
Or that in all her works
Something poetic lurks,
Even in colocynth and calomel?

Ballad: He Loves!

He loves! If in the bygone years
Thine eyes have ever shed
Tears - bitter, unavailing tears,
For one untimely dead -
If in the eventide of life
Sad thoughts of her arise,
Then let the memory of thy wife
Plead for my boy - he dies!

He dies! If fondly laid aside
In some old cabinet,
Memorials of thy long-dead bride
Lie, dearly treasured yet,
Then let her hallowed bridal dress -
Her little dainty gloves -
Her withered flowers - her faded tress -
Plead for my boy - he loves!

Ballad: True Diffidence

My boy, you may take it from me,
That of all the afflictions accurst
With which a man's saddled
And hampered and addled,
A diffident nature's the worst.
Though clever as clever can be -
A Crichton of early romance -
You must stir it and stump it,
And blow your own trumpet,
Or, trust me, you haven't a chance.

Now take, for example, MY case:
I've a bright intellectual brain -
In all London city
There's no one so witty -
I've thought so again and again.
I've a highly intelligent face -
My features cannot be denied -
But, whatever I try, sir,
I fail in - and why, sir?
I'm modesty personified!

As a poet, I'm tender and quaint -
I've passion and fervour and grace -
From Ovid and Horace
To Swinburne and Morris,
They all of them take a back place.
Then I sing and I play and I paint;
Though none are accomplished as I,
To say so were treason:
You ask me the reason?
I'm diffident, modest, and shy!

Ballad: The Tangled Skein

Try we life-long, we can never
Straighten out life's tangled skein,
Why should we, in vain endeavour,
Guess and guess and guess again?
Life's a pudding full of plums
Care's a canker that benumbs.
Wherefore waste our elocution
On impossible solution?
Life's a pleasant institution,
Let us take it as it comes!

Set aside the dull enigma,
We shall guess it all too soon;
Failure brings no kind of stigma -
Dance we to another tune!
String the lyre and fill the cup,
Lest on sorrow we should sup;
Hop and skip to Fancy's fiddle,
Hands across and down the middle -
Life's perhaps the only riddle
That we shrink from giving up!

Ballad: My Lady

Bedecked in fashion trim,
With every curl a-quiver;
Or leaping, light of limb,
O'er rivulet and river;
Or skipping o'er the lea
On daffodil and daisy;
Or stretched beneath a tree,
All languishing and lazy;
Whatever be her mood -
Be she demurely prude
Or languishingly lazy -
My lady drives me crazy!
In vain her heart is wooed,
Whatever be her mood!

What profit should I gain
Suppose she loved me dearly?
Her coldness turns my brain
To VERGE of madness merely.
Her kiss - though, Heaven knows,
To dream of it were treason -
Would tend, as I suppose,
To utter loss of reason!
My state is not amiss;
I would not have a kiss
Which, in or out of season,
Might tend to loss of reason:
What profit in such bliss?
A fig for such a kiss!

Ballad: One Against The World

It's my opinion - though I own
In thinking so I'm quite alone -
In some respects I'm but a fright.
YOU like my features, I suppose?
I'M disappointed with my nose:
Some rave about it - perhaps they're right.
My figure just sets off a fit;
But when they say it's exquisite
(And they DO say so), that's too strong.
I hope I'm not what people call
Opinionated! After all,
I'm but a goose, and may be wrong!

When charms enthral
There's some excuse
For measures strong;
And after all
I'm but a goose,
And may be wrong!

My teeth are very neat, no doubt;
But after all they MAY fall out:
I think they will - some think they won't.
My hands are small, as you may see,
But not as small as they might be,
At least, I think so - others don't.
But there, a girl may preach and prate
From morning six to evening eight,
And never stop to dine,
When all the world, although misled,
Is quite agreed on any head -
And it is quite agreed on mine!

All said and done,
It's little I
Against a throng.
I'm only one,
And possibly
I may be wrong!

Ballad: Put A Penny In The Slot

If my action's stiff and crude,
Do not laugh, because it's rude.
If my gestures promise larks,
Do not make unkind remarks.
Clockwork figures may be found
Everywhere and all around.
Ten to one, if I but knew,
You are clockwork figures too.
And the motto of the lot,
"Put a penny in the slot!"

Usurer, for money lent,
Making out his cent per cent -
Widow plump or maiden rare,
Deaf and dumb to suitor's prayer -
Tax collectors, whom in vain
You implore to "call again" -
Cautious voter, whom you find
Slow in making up his mind -
If you'd move them on the spot,
Put a penny in the slot!

Bland reporters in the courts,
Who suppress police reports -
Sheriff's yeoman, pen in fist,
Making out a jury list -
Stern policemen, tall and spare,
Acting all "upon the square" -
(Which in words that plainer fall,
Means that you can square them all) -
If you want to move the lot,
Put a penny in the slot!

Ballad: Good Little Girls

Although of native maids the cream,
We're brought up on the English scheme -
The best of all
For great and small
Who modesty adore.
For English girls are good as gold,
Extremely modest (so we're told),
Demurely coy - divinely cold -
And we are that - and more.
To please papa, who argues thus -
All girls should mould themselves on us,
Because we are,
By furlongs far,
The best of all the bunch;
We show ourselves to loud applause
From ten to four without a pause -
Which is an awkward time because
It cuts into our lunch.

Oh, maids of high and low degree,
Whose social code is rather free,
Please look at us and you will see
What good young ladies ought to be!

And as we stand, like clockwork toys,
A lecturer papa employs
To puff and praise
Our modest ways
And guileless character -
Our well-known blush - our downcast eyes -
Our famous look of mild surprise
(Which competition still defies) -
Our celebrated "Sir!!!"
Then all the crowd take down our looks
In pocket memorandum books.
To diagnose,
Our modest pose
The kodaks do their best:
If evidence you would possess
Of what is maiden bashfulness,
You only need a button press -
And WE do all the rest.

Ballad: Life

First you're born - and I'll be bound you
Find a dozen strangers round you.
"Hallo," cries the new-born baby,
"Where's my parents? which may they be?"
Awkward silence - no reply -
Puzzled baby wonders why!
Father rises, bows politely -
Mother smiles (but not too brightly) -
Doctor mumbles like a dumb thing -
Nurse is busy mixing something. -
Every symptom tends to show
You're decidedly DE TROP -
Ho! ho! ho! ho! ho! he! ho! ho!
Time's teetotum,
If you spin it,
Give its quotum
Once a minute:
I'll go bail
You hit the nail,
And if you fail
The deuce is in it!

You grow up, and you discover
What it is to be a lover.
Some young lady is selected -
Poor, perhaps, but well-connected,
Whom you hail (for Love is blind
As the Queen of Fairy-kind.
Though she's plain - perhaps unsightly,
Makes her face up - laces tightly,
In her form your fancy traces
All the gifts of all the graces.
Rivals none the maiden woo,
So you take her and she takes you!
Ho! ho! ho! ho! ho! ho! ho! ho!
Joke beginning,
Never ceases,
Till your inning
Time releases;
On your way
You blindly stray,
And day by day
The joke increases!

Ten years later - Time progresses -
Sours your temper - thins your tresses;
Fancy, then, her chain relaxes;
Rates are facts and so are taxes.
Fairy Queen's no longer young -
Fairy Queen has such a tongue!
Twins have probably intruded -
Quite unbidden - just as you did;
They're a source of care and trouble -
Just as you were - only double.
Comes at last the final stroke -
Time has had his little joke!
Ho! ho! ho! ho! ho! ho! ho! ho!
Daily driven
(Wife as drover)
Ill you've thriven -
Ne'er in clover:
Lastly, when
Threescore and ten
(And not till then),
The joke is over!
Ho! ho! ho! ho! ho! ho! ho! ho!
Then - and then
The joke is over!

Ballad: Limited Liability

Some seven men form an Association
(If possible, all Peers and Baronets),
They start off with a public declaration
To what extent they mean to pay their debts.
That's called their Capital: if they are wary
They will not quote it at a sum immense.
The figure's immaterial - it may vary
From eighteen million down to eighteenpence.
I should put it rather low;
The good sense of doing so
Will be evident at once to any debtor.
When it's left to you to say
What amount you mean to pay,
Why, the lower you can put it at, the better.

They then proceed to trade with all who'll trust 'em,
Quite irrespective of their capital
(It's shady, but it's sanctified by custom);
Bank, Railway, Loan, or Panama Canal.
You can't embark on trading too tremendous -
It's strictly fair, and based on common sense -
If you succeed, your profits are stupendous -
And if you fail, pop goes your eighteenpence.
Make the money-spinner spin!
For you only stand to win,
And you'll never with dishonesty be twitted.
For nobody can know,
To a million or so,
To what extent your capital's committed!

If you come to grief, and creditors are craving
(For nothing that is planned by mortal head
Is certain in this Vale of Sorrow - saving
That one's Liability is Limited), -
Do you suppose that signifies perdition?
If so you're but a monetary dunce -
You merely file a Winding-Up Petition,
And start another Company at once!
Though a Rothschild you may be
In your own capacity,
As a Company you've come to utter sorrow -
But the Liquidators say,
"Never mind - you needn't pay,"
So you start another Company to-morrow!

Ballad: Anglicised Utopia

Society has quite forsaken all her wicked courses,
Which empties our police courts, and abolishes divorces.
(Divorce is nearly obsolete in England.)
No tolerance we show to undeserving rank and splendour;
For the higher his position is, the greater the offender.
(That's a maxim that is prevalent in England.)
No Peeress at our Drawing-Room before the Presence passes
Who wouldn't be accepted by the lower-middle classes;
Each shady dame, whatever be her rank, is bowed out neatly.
In short, this happy country has been Anglicised completely!
It really is surprising
What a thorough Anglicising
We've brought about - Utopia's quite another land;
In her enterprising movements,
She is England - with improvements,
Which we dutifully offer to our mother-land!

Our city we have beautified - we've done it willy-nilly -
And all that isn't Belgrave Square is Strand and Piccadilly.
(They haven't any slummeries in England.)
We have solved the labour question with discrimination polished,
So poverty is obsolete and hunger is abolished -
(They are going to abolish it in England.)
The Chamberlain our native stage has purged, beyond a question,
Of "risky" situation and indelicate suggestion;
No piece is tolerated if it's costumed indiscreetly -
In short, this happy country has been Anglicised completely!
It really is surprising
What a thorough Anglicising
We've brought about - Utopia's quite another land;
In her enterprising movements,
She is England - with improvements,
Which we dutifully offer to our mother-land!

Our Peerage we've remodelled on an intellectual basis,
Which certainly is rough on our hereditary races -
(They are going to remodel it in England.)
The Brewers and the Cotton Lords no longer seek admission,
And Literary Merit meets with proper recognition -
(As Literary Merit does in England!)
Who knows but we may count among our intellectual chickens
Like them an Earl of Thackeray and p'raps a Duke of Dickens -
Lord Fildes and Viscount Millais (when they come) we'll welcome
sweetly -
And then, this happy country will be Anglicised completely!
It really is surprising
What a thorough Anglicising
We've brought about - Utopia's quite another land;
In her enterprising movements,
She is England - with improvements,
Which we dutifully offer to our mother-land!

Ballad: An English Girl

A wonderful joy our eyes to bless,
In her magnificent comeliness,
Is an English girl of eleven stone two,
And five foot ten in her dancing shoe!
She follows the hounds, and on she pounds -
The "field" tails off and the muffs diminish -
Over the hedges and brooks she bounds -
Straight as a crow, from find to finish.
At cricket, her kin will lose or win -
She and her maids, on grass and clover,
Eleven maids out - eleven maids in -
(And perhaps an occasional "maiden over").
Go search the world and search the sea,
Then come you home and sing with me
There's no such gold and no such pearl
As a bright and beautiful English girl!

With a ten-mile spin she stretches her limbs,
She golfs, she punts, she rows, she swims -
She plays, she sings, she dances, too,
From ten or eleven till all is blue!
At ball or drum, till small hours come
(Chaperon's fan conceals her yawning),
She'll waltz away like a teetotum,
And never go home till daylight's dawning.
Lawn tennis may share her favours fair -
Her eyes a-dance and her cheeks a-glowing -
Down comes her hair, but what does she care?
It's all her own and it's worth the showing!
Go search the world and search the sea,
Then come you home and sing with me
There's no such gold and no such pearl
As a bright and beautiful English girl!

Her soul is sweet as the ocean air,
For prudery knows no haven there;
To find mock-modesty, please apply
To the conscious blush and the downcast eye.
Rich in the things contentment brings,
In every pure enjoyment wealthy,
Blithe as a beautiful bird she sings,
For body and mind are hale and healthy.
Her eyes they thrill with right goodwill -
Her heart is light as a floating feather -
As pure and bright as the mountain rill
That leaps and laughs in the Highland heather!
Go search the world and search the sea,
Then come you home and sing with me
There's no such gold and no such pearl
As a bright and beautiful English girl!

Ballad: A Manager's Perplexities

Were I a king in very truth,
And had a son - a guileless youth -
In probable succession;
To teach him patience, teach him tact,
How promptly in a fix to act,
He should adopt, in point of fact,
A manager's profession.
To that condition he should stoop
(Despite a too fond mother),
With eight or ten "stars" in his troupe,
All jealous of each other!
Oh, the man who can rule a theatrical crew,
Each member a genius (and some of them two),
And manage to humour them, little and great,
Can govern a tuppenny-ha'penny State!

Both A and B rehearsal slight -
They say they'll be "all right at night"
(They've both to go to school yet);
C in each act MUST change her dress,
D WILL attempt to "square the press";
E won't play Romeo unless
His grandmother plays Juliet;
F claims all hoydens as her rights
(She's played them thirty seasons);
And G must show herself in tights
For two convincing reasons -
Two very well-shaped reasons!
Oh, the man who can drive a theatrical team,
With wheelers and leaders in order supreme,
Can govern and rule, with a wave of his fin,
All Europe and Asia - with Ireland thrown in!

Ballad: Out Of Sorts

When you find you're a broken-down critter,
Who is all of a trimmle and twitter,
With your palate unpleasantly bitter,
As if you'd just bitten a pill -
When your legs are as thin as dividers,
And you're plagued with unruly insiders,
And your spine is all creepy with spiders,
And you're highly gamboge in the gill -
When you've got a beehive in your head,
And a sewing machine in each ear,
And you feel that you've eaten your bed,
And you've got a bad headache DOWN HERE -
When such facts are about,
And these symptoms you find
In your body or crown -
Well, it's time to look out,
You may make up your mind
You had better lie down!

When your lips are all smeary - like tallow,
And your tongue is decidedly yallow,
With a pint of warm oil in your swAllow,
And a pound of tin-tacks in your chest -
When you're down in the mouth with the vapours,
And all over your new Morris papers
Black-beetles are cutting their capers,
And crawly things never at rest -
When you doubt if your head is your own,
And you jump when an open door slams -
Then you've got to a state which is known
To the medical world as "jim-jams."
If such symptoms you find
In your body or head,
They're not easy to quell -
You may make up your mind
You are better in bed,
For you're not at all well!

Ballad: How It's Done

Bold-faced ranger
(Perfect stranger)
Meets two well-behaved young ladies
He's attractive,
Young and active -
Each a little bit afraid is.
Youth advances,
At his glances
To their danger they awaken;
They repel him
As they tell him
He is very much mistaken.
Though they speak to him politely,
Please observe they're sneering slightly,
Just to show he's acting vainly.
This is Virtue saying plainly,
"Go away, young bachelor,
We are not what you take us for!"
(When addressed impertinently,
English ladies answer gently,
"Go away, young bachelor,
We are not what you take us for!")

As he gazes,
Hat he raises,
Enters into conversation.
Makes excuses -
This produces
Interesting agitation.
He, with daring,
Gives his card - his rank discloses -
Little heeding
This proceeding,
They turn up their little noses.
Pray observe this lesson vital -
When a man of rank and title
His position first discloses,
Always cock your little noses.
When at home, let all the class
Try this in the looking-glass.
(English girls of well-bred notions
Shun all unrehearsed emotions,
English girls of highest class
Practise them before the glass.)

His intentions
Then he mentions,
Something definite to go on -
Makes recitals
Of his titles,
Hints at settlements, and so on.
Smiling sweetly,
They, discreetly,
Ask for further evidences:
Thus invited,
He, delighted,
Gives the usual references.
This is business. Each is fluttered
When the offer's fairly uttered.
"Which of them has his affection?"
He declines to make selection.
Do they quarrel for his dross?
Not a bit of it - they toss!
Please observe this cogent moral -
English ladies never quarrel.
When a doubt they come across,
English ladies always toss.

Ballad: A Classical Revival

At the outset I may mention it's my sovereign intention
To revive the classic memories of Athens at its best,
For my company possesses all the necessary dresses,
And a course of quiet cramming will supply us with the rest.
We've a choir hyporchematic (that is, ballet-operatic)
Who respond to the CHOREUTAE of that cultivated age,
And our clever chorus-master, all but captious criticaster,
Would accept as the CHOREGUS of the early Attic stage.
This return to classic ages is considered in their wages,
Which are always calculated by the day or by the week -
And I'll pay 'em (if they'll back me) all in OBOLOI and DRACHMAE,
Which they'll get (if they prefer it) at the Kalends that are

(At this juncture I may mention
That this erudition sham
Is but classical pretension,
The result of steady "cram.":
Periphrastic methods spurning,
To my readers all discerning
I admit this show of learning
Is the fruit of steady cram."!)

In the period Socratic every dining-room was Attic
(Which suggests an architecture of a topsy-turvy kind),
There they'd satisfy their twist on a RECHERCHE cold [Greek text
which cannot be reproduced],
Which is what they called their lunch - and so may you, if you're
As they gradually got on, they'd [Greek text which cannot be
(Which is Attic for a steady and a conscientious drink).
But they mixed their wine with water - which I'm sure they didn't
oughter -
And we Anglo-Saxons know a trick worth two of that, I think!
Then came rather risky dances (under certain circumstances)
Which would shock that worthy gentleman, the Licenser of Plays,
Corybantian maniAC kick - Dionysiac or Bacchic -
And the Dithyrambic revels of those indecorous days.

(And perhaps I'd better mention
Lest alarming you I am,
That it isn't our intention
To perform a Dithyramb -
It displays a lot of stocking,
Which is always very shocking,
And of course I'm only mocking
At the prevalence of "cram.")

Yes, on reconsideration, there are customs of that nation
Which are not in strict accordance with the habits of our day,
And when I come to codify, their rules I mean to modify,
Or Mrs. Grundy, p'r'aps, may have a word or two to say:
For they hadn't macintoshes or umbrellas or goloshes -
And a shower with their dresses must have played the very deuce,
And it must have been unpleasing when they caught a fit of
For, it seems, of pocket-handkerchiefs they didn't know the use.
They wore little underclothing - scarcely anything - or no-thing -
And their dress of Coan silk was quite transparent in design -
Well, in fact, in summer weather, something like the "altogether."
And it's THERE, I rather fancy, I shall have to draw the line!

(And again I wish to mention
That this erudition sham
Is but classical pretension,
The result of steady "cram."
Yet my classic love aggressive,
If you'll pardon the possessive,
Is exceedingly impressive
When you're passing an exam.)

Ballad: The Practical Joker

Oh what a fund of joy jocund lies hid in harmless hoaxes!
What keen enjoyment springs
From cheap and simple things!
What deep delight from sources trite inventive humour coaxes,
That pain and trouble brew
For every one but you!
Gunpowder placed inside its waist improves a mild Havanah,
Its unexpected flash
Burns eyebrows and moustache;
When people dine no kind of wine beats ipecacuanha,
But common sense suggests
You keep it for your guests -
Then naught annoys the organ boys like throwing red-hot coppers,
And much amusement bides
In common butter-slides.
And stringy snares across the stairs cause unexpected croppers.
Coal scuttles, recollect,
Produce the same effect.
A man possessed
Of common sense
Need not invest
At great expense -
It does not call
For pocket deep,
These jokes are all
Extremely cheap.
If you commence with eighteenpence (it's all you'll have to pay),
You may command a pleasant and a most instructive day.

A good spring gun breeds endless fun, and makes men jump like
And turnip-heads on posts
Make very decent ghosts:
Then hornets sting like anything, when placed in waist-coat pockets
Burnt cork and walnut juice
Are not without their use.
No fun compares with easy chairs whose seats are stuffed with
needles -
Live shrimps their patience tax
When put down people's backs -
Surprising, too, what one can do with fifty fat black beedles -
And treacle on a chair
Will make a Quaker swear!
Then sharp tin tacks
And pocket squirts -
And cobblers' wax
For ladies' skirts -
And slimy slugs
On bedroom floors -
And water jugs
On open doors -
Prepared with these cheap properties, amusing tricks to play,
Upon a friend a man may spend a most delightful day!

Ballad: The National Anthem

A monarch is pestered with cares,
Though, no doubt, he can often trepan them;
But one comes in a shape he can never escape -
The implacable National Anthem!
Though for quiet and rest he may yearn,
It pursues him at every turn -
No chance of forsaking
Its ROCOCO numbers;
They haunt him when waking -
They poison his slumbers -
Like the Banbury Lady, whom every one knows,
He's cursed with its music wherever he goes!
Though its words but imperfectly rhyme,
And the devil himself couldn't scan them;
With composure polite he endures day and night
That illiterate National Anthem!

It serves a good purpose, I own:
Its strains are devout and impressive -
Its heart-stirring notes raise a lump in our throats
As we burn with devotion excessive:
But the King, who's been bored by that song
From his cradle - each day - all day long -
Who's heard it loud-shouted
By throats operatic,
And loyally spouted
By courtiers emphatic -
By soldier - by sailor - by drum and by fife -
Small blame if he thinks it the plague of his life!
While his subjects sing loudly and long,
Their King - who would willingly ban them -
Sits, worry disguising, anathematising
That Bogie, the National Anthem!

Ballad: Her Terms

My wedded life
Must every pleasure bring
On scale extensive!
If I'm your wife
I must have everything
That's most expensive -
A lady's-maid -
(My hair alone to do
I am not able) -
And I'm afraid
I've been accustomed to
A first-rate table.
These things one must consider when one marries -
And everything I wear must come from Paris!
Oh, think of that!
Oh, think of that!
I can't wear anything that's not from Paris!
From top to toes
Quite Frenchified I am,
If you examine.
And then - who knows? -
Perhaps some day a fam -
Perhaps a famine!
My argument's correct, if you examine,
What should we do, if there should come a f-famine!

Though in green pea
Yourself you needn't stint
In July sunny,
In Januaree
It really costs a mint -
A mint of money!
No lamb for us -
House lamb at Christmas sells
At prices handsome:
In winter, parallels
A Monarch's ransom:
When purse to bread and butter barely reaches,
What is your wife to do for hot-house peaches?
Ah! tell me that!
Ah! tell me that!
What IS your wife to do for hot-house peaches?
Your heart and hand
Though at my feet you lay,
All others scorning!
As matters stand,
There's nothing now to say
Except - good morning!
Though virtue be a husband's best adorning,
That won't pay rates and taxes - so, good morning!

Ballad: The Independent Bee

A hive of bees, as I've heard say,
Said to their Queen one sultry day,
"Please your Majesty's high position,
The hive is full and the weather is warm,
We rather think, with a due submission,
The time has come when we ought to swarm."
Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz.
Up spake their Queen and thus spake she -
"This is a matter that rests with me,
Who dares opinions thus to form?
I'LL tell you when it is time to swarm!"
Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz.

Her Majesty wore an angry frown,
In fact, her Majesty's foot was down -
Her Majesty sulked - declined to sup -
In short, her Majesty's back was up.
Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz.
Her foot was down and her back was up!

That hive contained one obstinate bee
(His name was Peter), and thus spake he -
"Though every bee has shown white feather,
To bow to tyranny I'm not prone -
Why should a hive swarm all together?
Surely a bee can swarm alone?"
Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz.
Upside down and inside out,
Backwards, forwards, round about,
Twirling here and twisting there,
Topsy turvily everywhere -
Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz.
Pitiful sight it was to see
Respectable elderly high-class bee,
Who kicked the beam at sixteen stone,
Trying his best to swarm alone!
Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz.
Trying his best to swarm alone!

The hive were shocked to see their chum
(A strict teetotaller) teetotum -
The Queen exclaimed, "How terrible, very!
It's perfectly clear to all the throng
Peter's been at the old brown sherry.
Old brown sherry is much too strong -
Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz.
Of all who thus themselves degrade,
A stern example must be made,
To Coventry go, you tipsy bee!"
So off to Coventry town went he.
Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz.
There, classed with all who misbehave,
Both plausible rogue and noisome knave,
In dismal dumps he lived to own
The folly of trying to swarm alone!
Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz.
All came of trying to swarm alone.

Ballad: The Disconcerted Tenor

A tenor, all singers above
(This doesn't admit of a question),
Should keep himself quiet,
Attend to his diet,
And carefully nurse his digestion.
But when he is madly in love,
It's certain to tell on his singing -
You can't do chromatics
With proper emphatics
When anguish your bosom is wringing!
When distracted with worries in plenty,
And his pulse is a hundred and twenty,
And his fluttering bosom the slave of mistrust is,
A tenor can't do himself justice.
Now observe - (SINGS A HIGH NOTE) -
You see, I can't do myself justice!

I could sing, if my fervour were mock,
It's easy enough if you're acting,
But when one's emotion
Is born of devotion,
You mustn't be over-exacting.
One ought to be firm as a rock
To venture a shake in VIBRATO;
When fervour's expected,
Keep cool and collected,
Or never attempt AGITATO.
But, of course, when his tongue is of leather,
And his lips appear pasted together,
And his sensitive palate as dry as a crust is,
A tenor can't do himself justice.
Now observe - (SINGS A CADENCE) -
It's no use - I can't do myself justice!

Ballad: The Played-Out Humorist

Quixotic is his enterprise, and hopeless his adventure is,
Who seeks for jocularities that haven't yet been said.
The world has joked incessantly for over fifty centuries,
And every joke that's possible has long ago been made.
I started as a humorist with lots of mental fizziness,
But humour is a drug which it's the fashion to abuse;
For my stock-in-trade, my fixtures, and the goodwill of the
No reasonable offer I am likely to refuse.
And if anybody choose
He may circulate the news
That no reasonable offer I'm likely to refuse.

Oh happy was that humorist - the first that made a pun at all -
Who when a joke occurred to him, however poor and mean,
Was absolutely certain that it never had been done at all -
How popular at dinners must that humorist have been!

Oh the days when some stepfather for the query held a handle out,
The door-mat from the scraper, is it distant very far?
And when no one knew where Moses was when Aaron blew the candle
And no one had discovered that a door could be a-jar!
But your modern hearers are
In their tastes particular,
And they sneer if you inform them that a door can be a-jar!

In search of quip and quiddity, I've sat all day, alone, apart -
And all that I could hit on as a problem was - to find
Analogy between a scrag of mutton and a Bony-part,
Which offers slight employment to the speculative mind:
For you cannot call it very good, however great your charity -
It's not the sort of humour that is greeted with a shout -
And I've come to the conclusion that my mine of jocularity
In present Anno Domini, is worked completely out!
Though the notion you may scout,
I can prove beyond a doubt
That my mine of jocularity is utterly worked out.

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