Fifty Bab Ballads by William S. Gilbert

Transcribed from the 1884 and 1891 George Routledge and Sons editions by David Price, email FIFTY “BAB” BALLADS–MUCH SOUND AND LITTLE SENSE PREFACE. The “BAB BALLADS” appeared originally in the columns of “FUN,” when that periodical was under the editorship of the late TOM HOOD. They were subsequently republished in two volumes, one called
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  • 02/1876
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Transcribed from the 1884 and 1891 George Routledge and Sons editions by David Price, email



The “BAB BALLADS” appeared originally in the columns of “FUN,” when that periodical was under the editorship of the late TOM HOOD. They were subsequently republished in two volumes, one called “THE BAB BALLADS,” the other “MORE BAB BALLADS.” The period during which they were written extended over some three or four years; many, however, were composed hastily, and under the discomforting necessity of having to turn out a quantity of lively verse by a certain day in every week. As it seemed to me (and to others) that the volumes were disfigured by the presence of these hastily written impostors, I thought it better to withdraw from both volumes such Ballads as seemed to show evidence of carelessness or undue haste, and to publish the remainder in the compact form under which they are now presented to the reader.

It may interest some to know that the first of the series, “The Yarn of the Nancy Bell,” was originally offered to “PUNCH,”–to which I was, at that time, an occasional contributor. It was, however, declined by the then Editor, on the ground that it was “too cannibalistic for his readers’ tastes.”


24 The Boltons, South Kensington,
August, 1876.


Of all the ships upon the blue,
No ship contained a better crew
Than that of worthy CAPTAIN REECE,
Commanding of The Mantelpiece.

He was adored by all his men,
For worthy CAPTAIN REECE, R.N.,
Did all that lay within him to
Promote the comfort of his crew.

If ever they were dull or sad,
Their captain danced to them like mad, Or told, to make the time pass by,
Droll legends of his infancy.

A feather bed had every man,
Warm slippers and hot-water can,
Brown windsor from the captain’s store, A valet, too, to every four.

Did they with thirst in summer burn,
Lo, seltzogenes at every turn,
And on all very sultry days
Cream ices handed round on trays.

Then currant wine and ginger pops
Stood handily on all the “tops;”
And also, with amusement rife,
A “Zoetrope, or Wheel of Life.”

New volumes came across the sea
From MISTER MUDIE’S libraree;
The Times and Saturday Review
Beguiled the leisure of the crew.

Kind-hearted CAPTAIN REECE, R.N.,
Was quite devoted to his men;
In point of fact, good CAPTAIN REECE Beatified The Mantelpiece.

One summer eve, at half-past ten,
He said (addressing all his men):
“Come, tell me, please, what I can do To please and gratify my crew.

“By any reasonable plan
I’ll make you happy if I can;
My own convenience count as nil:
It is my duty, and I will.”

Then up and answered WILLIAM LEE
(The kindly captain’s coxswain he,
A nervous, shy, low-spoken man),
He cleared his throat and thus began:

“You have a daughter, CAPTAIN REECE,
Ten female cousins and a niece,
A Ma, if what I’m told is true,
Six sisters, and an aunt or two.

“Now, somehow, sir, it seems to me,
More friendly-like we all should be, If you united of ’em to
Unmarried members of the crew.

“If you’d ameliorate our life,
Let each select from them a wife;
And as for nervous me, old pal,
Give me your own enchanting gal!”

Good CAPTAIN REECE, that worthy man,
Debated on his coxswain’s plan:
“I quite agree,” he said, “O BILL;
It is my duty, and I will.

“My daughter, that enchanting gurl,
Has just been promised to an Earl,
And all my other familee
To peers of various degree.

“But what are dukes and viscounts to
The happiness of all my crew?
The word I gave you I’ll fulfil;
It is my duty, and I will.

“As you desire it shall befall,
I’ll settle thousands on you all,
And I shall be, despite my hoard,
The only bachelor on board.”

The boatswain of The Mantelpiece,
He blushed and spoke to CAPTAIN REECE: “I beg your honour’s leave,” he said;
“If you would wish to go and wed,

“I have a widowed mother who
Would be the very thing for you –
She long has loved you from afar:
She washes for you, CAPTAIN R.”

The Captain saw the dame that day –
Addressed her in his playful way –
“And did it want a wedding ring?
It was a tempting ickle sing!

“Well, well, the chaplain I will seek, We’ll all be married this day week
At yonder church upon the hill;
It is my duty, and I will!”

The sisters, cousins, aunts, and niece, And widowed Ma of CAPTAIN REECE,
Attended there as they were bid;
It was their duty, and they did.


List while the poet trolls
Who had a cure of souls
At Spiffton-extra-Sooper.

He lived on curds and whey,
And daily sang their praises,
And then he’d go and play
With buttercups and daisies.

Wild croquet HOOPER banned,
And all the sports of Mammon,
He warred with cribbage, and
He exorcised backgammon.

His helmet was a glance
That spoke of holy gladness;
A saintly smile his lance;
His shield a tear of sadness.

His Vicar smiled to see
This armour on him buckled:
With pardonable glee
He blessed himself and chuckled.

“In mildness to abound
My curate’s sole design is;
In all the country round
There’s none so mild as mine is!”

And HOOPER, disinclined
His trumpet to be blowing,
Yet didn’t think you’d find
A milder curate going.

A friend arrived one day
At Spiffton-extra-Sooper,
And in this shameful way
He spoke to Mr. HOOPER:

“You think your famous name
For mildness can’t be shaken,
That none can blot your fame –
But, HOOPER, you’re mistaken!

“Your mind is not as blank
Who holds a curate’s rank
At Assesmilk-cum-Worter.

“HE plays the airy flute,
And looks depressed and blighted,
Doves round about him ‘toot,’
And lambkins dance delighted.

“HE labours more than you
At worsted work, and frames it;
In old maids’ albums, too,
Sticks seaweed–yes, and names it!”

The tempter said his say,
Which pierced him like a needle –
He summoned straight away
His sexton and his beadle.

(These men were men who could
Hold liberal opinions:
On Sundays they were good –
On week-days they were minions.)

Your fare I will afford you –
Deal him a deadly blow,
And blessings shall reward you.

“But stay–I do not like
Undue assassination,
And so before you strike,
Make this communication:

“I’ll give him this one chance –
If he’ll more gaily bear him,
Play croquet, smoke, and dance,
I willingly will spare him.”

They went, those minions true,
To Assesmilk-cum-Worter,
And told their errand to

“What?” said that reverend gent,
“Dance through my hours of leisure? Smoke?–bathe myself with scent? –
Play croquet? Oh, with pleasure!

“Wear all my hair in curl?
Stand at my door and wink–so –
At every passing girl?
My brothers, I should think so!

“For years I’ve longed for some
Excuse for this revulsion:
Now that excuse has come –
I do it on compulsion!!!”

He smoked and winked away –
The deuce there was to pay
At Assesmilk-cum-Worter.

And HOOPER holds his ground,
In mildness daily growing –
They think him, all around,
The mildest curate going.


Only a dancing girl,
With an unromantic style,
With borrowed colour and curl,
With fixed mechanical smile,
With many a hackneyed wile,
With ungrammatical lips,
And corns that mar her trips.

Hung from the “flies” in air,
She acts a palpable lie,
She’s as little a fairy there
As unpoetical I!
I hear you asking, Why –
Why in the world I sing
This tawdry, tinselled thing?

No airy fairy she,
As she hangs in arsenic green
From a highly impossible tree
In a highly impossible scene
(Herself not over-clean).
For fays don’t suffer, I’m told,
From bunions, coughs, or cold.

And stately dames that bring
Their daughters there to see,
Pronounce the “dancing thing”
No better than she should be,
With her skirt at her shameful knee, And her painted, tainted phiz:
Ah, matron, which of us is?

(And, in sooth, it oft occurs
That while these matrons sigh,
Their dresses are lower than hers,
And sometimes half as high;
And their hair is hair they buy,
And they use their glasses, too,
In a way she’d blush to do.)

But change her gold and green
For a coarse merino gown,
And see her upon the scene
Of her home, when coaxing down
Her drunken father’s frown,
In his squalid cheerless den:
She’s a fairy truly, then!


Come with me, little maid,
Nay, shrink not, thus afraid –
I’ll harm thee not!
Fly not, my love, from me –
I have a home for thee –
A fairy grot,
Where mortal eye
Can rarely pry,
There shall thy dwelling be!

List to me, while I tell
The pleasures of that cell,
Oh, little maid!
What though its couch be rude,
Homely the only food
Within its shade?
No thought of care
Can enter there,
No vulgar swain intrude!

Come with me, little maid,
Come to the rocky shade
I love to sing;
Live with us, maiden rare –
Come, for we “want” thee there,
Thou elfin thing,
To work thy spell,
In some cool cell
In stately Pentonville!


A troubadour he played
Without a castle wall,
Within, a hapless maid
Responded to his call.

“Oh, willow, woe is me!
Alack and well-a-day!
If I were only free
I’d hie me far away!”

Unknown her face and name,
But this he knew right well,
The maiden’s wailing came
From out a dungeon cell.

A hapless woman lay
Within that dungeon grim –
That fact, I’ve heard him say,
Was quite enough for him.

“I will not sit or lie,
Or eat or drink, I vow,
Till thou art free as I,
Or I as pent as thou.”

Her tears then ceased to flow,
Her wails no longer rang,
And tuneful in her woe
The prisoned maiden sang:

“Oh, stranger, as you play,
I recognize your touch;
And all that I can say
Is, thank you very much.”

He seized his clarion straight,
And blew thereat, until
A warden oped the gate.
“Oh, what might be your will?”

“I’ve come, Sir Knave, to see
The master of these halls:
A maid unwillingly
Lies prisoned in their walls.”‘

With barely stifled sigh
That porter drooped his head,
With teardrops in his eye,
“A many, sir,” he said.

He stayed to hear no more,
But pushed that porter by,
And shortly stood before

SIR HUGH he darkly frowned,
“What would you, sir, with me?”
The troubadour he downed
Upon his bended knee.

“I’ve come, DE PECKHAM RYE,
To do a Christian task;
You ask me what would I?
It is not much I ask.

“Release these maidens, sir,
Whom you dominion o’er –
Particularly her
Upon the second floor.

“And if you don’t, my lord” –
He here stood bolt upright,
And tapped a tailor’s sword –
“Come out, you cad, and fight!”

SIR HUGH he called–and ran
The warden from the gate:
“Go, show this gentleman
The maid in Forty-eight.”

By many a cell they past,
And stopped at length before
A portal, bolted fast:
The man unlocked the door.

He called inside the gate
With coarse and brutal shout,
“Come, step it, Forty-eight!”
And Forty-eight stepped out.

“They gets it pretty hot,
The maidens what we cotch –
Two years this lady’s got
For collaring a wotch.”

“Oh, ah!–indeed–I see,”
The troubadour exclaimed –
“If I may make so free,
How is this castle named?

The warden’s eyelids fill,
And sighing, he replied,
“Of gloomy Pentonville
This is the female side!”

The minstrel did not wait
The Warden stout to thank,
But recollected straight
He’d business at the Bank.



At a pleasant evening party I had taken down to supper One whom I will call ELVIRA, and we talked of love and TUPPER,

MR. TUPPER and the Poets, very lightly with them dealing, For I’ve always been distinguished for a strong poetic feeling.

Then we let off paper crackers, each of which contained a motto, And she listened while I read them, till her mother told her not to.

Then she whispered, “To the ball-room we had better, dear, be walking;
If we stop down here much longer, really people will be talking.”

There were noblemen in coronets, and military cousins, There were captains by the hundred, there were baronets by dozens.

Yet she heeded not their offers, but dismissed them with a blessing,
Then she let down all her back hair, which had taken long in dressing.

Then she had convulsive sobbings in her agitated throttle, Then she wiped her pretty eyes and smelt her pretty smelling- bottle.

So I whispered, “Dear ELVIRA, say,–what can the matter be with you?
Does anything you’ve eaten, darling POPSY, disagree with you?”

But spite of all I said, her sobs grew more and more distressing, And she tore her pretty back hair, which had taken long in dressing.

Then she gazed upon the carpet, at the ceiling, then above me, And she whispered, “FERDINANDO, do you really, REALLY love me?”

“Love you?” said I, then I sighed, and then I gazed upon her sweetly –
For I think I do this sort of thing particularly neatly.

“Send me to the Arctic regions, or illimitable azure, On a scientific goose-chase, with my COXWELL or my GLAISHER!

“Tell me whither I may hie me–tell me, dear one, that I may know – Is it up the highest Andes? down a horrible volcano?”

But she said, “It isn’t polar bears, or hot volcanic grottoes: Only find out who it is that writes those lovely cracker mottoes!”


“Tell me, HENRY WADSWORTH, ALFRED POET CLOSE, or MISTER TUPPER, Do you write the bon bon mottoes my ELVIRA pulls at supper?”

But HENRY WADSWORTH smiled, and said he had not had that honour; And ALFRED, too, disclaimed the words that told so much upon her.

“MISTER MARTIN TUPPER, POET CLOSE, I beg of you inform us;” But my question seemed to throw them both into a rage enormous.

MISTER CLOSE expressed a wish that he could only get anigh to me; And MISTER MARTIN TUPPER sent the following reply to me:

“A fool is bent upon a twig, but wise men dread a bandit,” – Which I know was very clever; but I didn’t understand it.

Seven weary years I wandered–Patagonia, China, Norway, Till at last I sank exhausted at a pastrycook his doorway.

There were fuchsias and geraniums, and daffodils and myrtle, So I entered, and I ordered half a basin of mock turtle.

He was plump and he was chubby, he was smooth and he was rosy, And his little wife was pretty and particularly cosy.

And he chirped and sang, and skipped about, and laughed with laughter hearty –
He was wonderfully active for so very stout a party.

And I said, “O gentle pieman, why so very, very merry? Is it purity of conscience, or your one-and-seven sherry?”

But he answered, “I’m so happy–no profession could be dearer – If I am not humming ‘Tra! la! la!’ I’m singing ‘Tirer, lirer!’

“First I go and make the patties, and the puddings, and the jellies,
Then I make a sugar bird-cage, which upon a table swell is;

“Then I polish all the silver, which a supper-table lacquers; Then I write the pretty mottoes which you find inside the crackers.” –

“Found at last!” I madly shouted. “Gentle pieman, you astound me!” Then I waved the turtle soup enthusiastically round me.

And I shouted and I danced until he’d quite a crowd around him – And I rushed away exclaiming, “I have found him! I have found him!”

And I heard the gentle pieman in the road behind me trilling, “‘Tira, lira!’ stop him, stop him! ‘Tra! la! la!’ the soup’s a shilling!”

But until I reached ELVIRA’S home, I never, never waited, And ELVIRA to her FERDINAND’S irrevocably mated!


Oh! little maid!–(I do not know your name Or who you are, so, as a safe precaution I’ll add)–Oh, buxom widow! married dame! (As one of these must be your present portion) Listen, while I unveil prophetic lore for you, And sing the fate that Fortune has in store for you.

You’ll marry soon–within a year or twain – A bachelor of circa two and thirty:
Tall, gentlemanly, but extremely plain, And when you’re intimate, you’ll call him “BERTIE.” Neat–dresses well; his temper has been classified As hasty; but he’s very quickly pacified.

You’ll find him working mildly at the Bar, After a touch at two or three professions, From easy affluence extremely far,
A brief or two on Circuit–“soup” at Sessions; A pound or two from whist and backing horses, And, say three hundred from his own resources.

Quiet in harness; free from serious vice, His faults are not particularly shady,
You’ll never find him “SHY”–for, once or twice Already, he’s been driven by a lady,
Who parts with him–perhaps a poor excuse for him – Because she hasn’t any further use for him.

Oh! bride of mine–tall, dumpy, dark, or fair! Oh! widow–wife, maybe, or blushing maiden, I’ve told YOUR fortune; solved the gravest care With which your mind has hitherto been laden. I’ve prophesied correctly, never doubt it; Now tell me mine–and please be quick about it!

You–only you–can tell me, an’ you will, To whom I’m destined shortly to be mated, Will she run up a heavy modiste’s bill?
If so, I want to hear her income stated (This is a point which interests me greatly). To quote the bard, “Oh! have I seen her lately?”

Say, must I wait till husband number one Is comfortably stowed away at Woking?
How is her hair most usually done?
And tell me, please, will she object to smoking? The colour of her eyes, too, you may mention: Come, Sibyl, prophesy–I’m all attention.


Of all the youths I ever saw
None were so wicked, vain, or silly, So lost to shame and Sabbath law,
As worldly TOM, and BOB, and BILLY.

For every Sabbath day they walked
(Such was their gay and thoughtless natur) In parks or gardens, where they talked
From three to six, or even later.

SIR MACKLIN was a priest severe
In conduct and in conversation,
It did a sinner good to hear
Him deal in ratiocination.

He could in every action show
Some sin, and nobody could doubt him. He argued high, he argued low,
He also argued round about him.

He wept to think each thoughtless youth Contained of wickedness a skinful,
And burnt to teach the awful truth, That walking out on Sunday’s sinful.

“Oh, youths,” said he, “I grieve to find The course of life you’ve been and hit on – Sit down,” said he, “and never mind
The pennies for the chairs you sit on.

“My opening head is ‘Kensington,’
How walking there the sinner hardens, Which when I have enlarged upon,
I go to ‘Secondly’–its ‘Gardens.’

“My ‘Thirdly’ comprehendeth ‘Hyde,’
Of Secresy the guilts and shameses; My ‘Fourthly’–‘Park’–its verdure wide – My ‘Fifthly’ comprehends ‘St. James’s.’

“That matter settled, I shall reach
The ‘Sixthly’ in my solemn tether,
And show that what is true of each, Is also true of all, together.

“Then I shall demonstrate to you,
According to the rules of WHATELY,
That what is true of all, is true
Of each, considered separately.”

In lavish stream his accents flow,
TOM, BOB, and BILLY dare not flout him; He argued high, he argued low,
He also argued round about him.

“Ha, ha!” he said, “you loathe your ways, You writhe at these my words of warning, In agony your hands you raise.”
(And so they did, for they were yawning.)

To “Twenty-firstly” on they go,
The lads do not attempt to scout him; He argued high, he argued low,
He also argued round about him.

“Ho, ho!” he cries, “you bow your crests – My eloquence has set you weeping;
In shame you bend upon your breasts!” (And so they did, for they were sleeping.)

He proved them this–he proved them that – This good but wearisome ascetic;
He jumped and thumped upon his hat, He was so very energetic.

His Bishop at this moment chanced
To pass, and found the road encumbered; He noticed how the Churchman danced,
And how his congregation slumbered.

The hundred and eleventh head
The priest completed of his stricture; “Oh, bosh!” the worthy Bishop said,
And walked him off as in the picture.


‘Twas on the shores that round our coast From Deal to Ramsgate span,
That I found alone on a piece of stone An elderly naval man.

His hair was weedy, his beard was long, And weedy and long was he,
And I heard this wight on the shore recite, In a singular minor key:

“Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo’sun tight, and a midshipmite, And the crew of the captain’s gig.”

And he shook his fists and he tore his hair, Till I really felt afraid,
For I couldn’t help thinking the man had been drinking, And so I simply said:

“Oh, elderly man, it’s little I know
Of the duties of men of the sea,
And I’ll eat my hand if I understand However you can be

“At once a cook, and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo’sun tight, and a midshipmite, And the crew of the captain’s gig.”

Then he gave a hitch to his trousers, which Is a trick all seamen larn,
And having got rid of a thumping quid, He spun this painful yarn:

“‘Twas in the good ship Nancy Bell
That we sailed to the Indian Sea,
And there on a reef we come to grief, Which has often occurred to me.

“And pretty nigh all the crew was drowned (There was seventy-seven o’ soul),
And only ten of the Nancy’s men
Said ‘Here!’ to the muster-roll.

“There was me and the cook and the captain bold, And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And the bo’sun tight, and a midshipmite, And the crew of the captain’s gig.

“For a month we’d neither wittles nor drink, Till a-hungry we did feel,
So we drawed a lot, and, accordin’ shot The captain for our meal.

“The next lot fell to the Nancy’s mate, And a delicate dish he made;
Then our appetite with the midshipmite We seven survivors stayed.

“And then we murdered the bo’sun tight, And he much resembled pig;
Then we wittled free, did the cook and me, On the crew of the captain’s gig.

“Then only the cook and me was left,
And the delicate question, ‘Which
Of us two goes to the kettle?’ arose, And we argued it out as sich.

“For I loved that cook as a brother, I did, And the cook he worshipped me;
But we’d both be blowed if we’d either be stowed In the other chap’s hold, you see.

“‘I’ll be eat if you dines off me,’ says TOM; ‘Yes, that,’ says I, ‘you’ll be, –
‘I’m boiled if I die, my friend,’ quoth I; And ‘Exactly so,’ quoth he.

“Says he, ‘Dear JAMES, to murder me
Were a foolish thing to do,
For don’t you see that you can’t cook ME, While I can–and will–cook YOU!’

“So he boils the water, and takes the salt And the pepper in portions true
(Which he never forgot), and some chopped shalot. And some sage and parsley too.

“‘Come here,’ says he, with a proper pride, Which his smiling features tell,
”T will soothing be if I let you see How extremely nice you’ll smell.’

“And he stirred it round and round and round, And he sniffed at the foaming froth;
When I ups with his heels, and smothers his squeals In the scum of the boiling broth.

“And I eat that cook in a week or less, And–as I eating be
The last of his chops, why, I almost drops, For a wessel in sight I see!

* * * *

“And I never larf, and I never smile, And I never lark nor play,
But sit and croak, and a single joke I have–which is to say:

“Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo’sun tight, and a midshipmite, And the crew of the captain’s gig!'”


From east and south the holy clan
Of Bishops gathered to a man;
To Synod, called Pan-Anglican,
In flocking crowds they came.
Among them was a Bishop, who
Had lately been appointed to
The balmy isle of Rum-ti-Foo,
And PETER was his name.

His people–twenty-three in sum –
They played the eloquent tum-tum,
And lived on scalps served up, in rum – The only sauce they knew.
When first good BISHOP PETER came
(For PETER was that Bishop’s name), To humour them, he did the same
As they of Rum-ti-Foo.

His flock, I’ve often heard him tell, (His name was PETER) loved him well,
And, summoned by the sound of bell, In crowds together came.
“Oh, massa, why you go away?
Oh, MASSA PETER, please to stay.”
(They called him PETER, people say, Because it was his name.)

He told them all good boys to be,
And sailed away across the sea,
At London Bridge that Bishop he
Arrived one Tuesday night;
And as that night he homeward strode To his Pan-Anglican abode,
He passed along the Borough Road,
And saw a gruesome sight.

He saw a crowd assembled round
A person dancing on the ground,
Who straight began to leap and bound With all his might and main.
To see that dancing man he stopped, Who twirled and wriggled, skipped and hopped, Then down incontinently dropped,
And then sprang up again.

The Bishop chuckled at the sight.
“This style of dancing would delight A simple Rum-ti-Foozleite.
I’ll learn it if I can,
To please the tribe when I get back.” He begged the man to teach his knack.
“Right Reverend Sir, in half a crack! Replied that dancing man.

The dancing man he worked away,
And taught the Bishop every day –
The dancer skipped like any fay –
Good PETER did the same.
The Bishop buckled to his task,
With battements, and pas de basque. (I’ll tell you, if you care to ask,
That PETER was his name.)

“Come, walk like this,” the dancer said, “Stick out your toes–stick in your head, Stalk on with quick, galvanic tread –
Your fingers thus extend;
The attitude’s considered quaint.”
The weary Bishop, feeling faint,
Replied, “I do not say it ain’t,
But ‘Time!’ my Christian friend!”

“We now proceed to something new –
Dance as the PAYNES and LAURIS do,
Like this–one, two–one, two–one, two.” The Bishop, never proud,
But in an overwhelming heat
(His name was PETER, I repeat)
Performed the PAYNE and LAURI feat, And puffed his thanks aloud.

Another game the dancer planned –
“Just take your ankle in your hand, And try, my lord, if you can stand –
Your body stiff and stark.
If, when revisiting your see,
You learnt to hop on shore–like me – The novelty would striking be,
And must attract remark.”

“No,” said the worthy Bishop, “no;
That is a length to which, I trow,
Colonial Bishops cannot go.
You may express surprise
At finding Bishops deal in pride –
But if that trick I ever tried,
I should appear undignified
In Rum-ti-Foozle’s eyes.

“The islanders of Rum-ti-Foo
Are well-conducted persons, who
Approve a joke as much as you,
And laugh at it as such;
But if they saw their Bishop land,
His leg supported in his hand,
The joke they wouldn’t understand – ‘T would pain them very much!”

Ballad: THE PRECOCIOUS BABY. A VERY TRUE TALE. (To be sung to the Air of the “Whistling Oyster.”)

An elderly person–a prophet by trade – With his quips and tips
On withered old lips,
He married a young and a beautiful maid; The cunning old blade!
Though rather decayed,
He married a beautiful, beautiful maid.

She was only eighteen, and as fair as could be, With her tempting smiles
And maidenly wiles,
And he was a trifle past seventy-three: Now what she could see
Is a puzzle to me,
In a prophet of seventy–seventy-three!

Of all their acquaintances bidden (or bad) With their loud high jinks
And underbred winks,
None thought they’d a family have–but they had; A dear little lad
Who drove ’em half mad,
For he turned out a horribly fast little cad.

For when he was born he astonished all by, With their “Law, dear me!”
“Did ever you see?”
He’d a pipe in his mouth and a glass in his eye, A hat all awry –
An octagon tie –
And a miniature–miniature glass in his eye.

He grumbled at wearing a frock and a cap, With his “Oh, dear, oh!”
And his “Hang it! ‘oo know!”
And he turned up his nose at his excellent pap – “My friends, it’s a tap
Dat is not worf a rap.”
(Now this was remarkably excellent pap.)

He’d chuck his nurse under the chin, and he’d say, With his “Fal, lal, lal” –
“‘Oo doosed fine gal!”
This shocking precocity drove ’em away: “A month from to-day
Is as long as I’ll stay –
Then I’d wish, if you please, for to toddle away.”

His father, a simple old gentleman, he With nursery rhyme
And “Once on a time,”
Would tell him the story of “Little Bo-P,” “So pretty was she,
So pretty and wee,
As pretty, as pretty, as pretty could be.”

But the babe, with a dig that would startle an ox, With his “C’ck! Oh, my! –
Go along wiz ‘oo, fie!”
Would exclaim, “I’m afraid ‘oo a socking ole fox.” Now a father it shocks,
And it whitens his locks,
When his little babe calls him a shocking old fox.

The name of his father he’d couple and pair (With his ill-bred laugh,
And insolent chaff)
With those of the nursery heroines rare – Virginia the Fair,
Or Good Goldenhair,
Till the nuisance was more than a prophet could bear.

“There’s Jill and White Cat” (said the bold little brat, With his loud, “Ha, ha!”)
“‘Oo sly ickle Pa!
Wiz ‘oo Beauty, Bo-Peep, and ‘oo Mrs. Jack Sprat! I’ve noticed ‘oo pat
MY pretty White Cat –
I sink dear mamma ought to know about dat!”

He early determined to marry and wive, For better or worse
With his elderly nurse –
Which the poor little boy didn’t live to contrive: His hearth didn’t thrive –
No longer alive,
He died an enfeebled old dotard at five!


Now, elderly men of the bachelor crew, With wrinkled hose
And spectacled nose,
Don’t marry at all–you may take it as true If ever you do
The step you will rue,
For your babes will be elderly–elderly too.

Ballad: TO PHOEBE. {2}

“Gentle, modest little flower,
Sweet epitome of May,
Love me but for half an hour,
Love me, love me, little fay.”
Sentences so fiercely flaming
In your tiny shell-like ear,
I should always be exclaiming
If I loved you, PHOEBE dear.

“Smiles that thrill from any distance Shed upon me while I sing!
Please ecstaticize existence,
Love me, oh, thou fairy thing!”
Words like these, outpouring sadly
You’d perpetually hear,
If I loved you fondly, madly; –
But I do not, PHOEBE dear.


Of all the good attorneys who
Have placed their names upon the roll, But few could equal BAINES CAREW
For tender-heartedness and soul.

Whene’er he heard a tale of woe
From client A or client B,
His grief would overcome him so
He’d scarce have strength to take his fee.

It laid him up for many days,
When duty led him to distrain,
And serving writs, although it pays, Gave him excruciating pain.

He made out costs, distrained for rent, Foreclosed and sued, with moistened eye – No bill of costs could represent
The value of such sympathy.

No charges can approximate
The worth of sympathy with woe; –
Although I think I ought to state
He did his best to make them so.

Of all the many clients who
Had mustered round his legal flag,
No single client of the crew
Was half so dear as CAPTAIN BAGG.

Now, CAPTAIN BAGG had bowed him to
A heavy matrimonial yoke –
His wifey had of faults a few –
She never could resist a joke.

Her chaff at first he meekly bore,
Till unendurable it grew.
“To stop this persecution sore
I will consult my friend CAREW.

“And when CAREW’S advice I’ve got,
Divorce a mensa I shall try.”
(A legal separation–not
A vinculo conjugii.)

“Oh, BAINES CAREW, my woe I’ve kept
A secret hitherto, you know;” –
(And BAINES CAREW, ESQUIRE, he wept To hear that BAGG HAD any woe.)

“My case, indeed, is passing sad.
My wife–whom I considered true –
With brutal conduct drives me mad.” “I am appalled,” said BAINES CAREW.

“What! sound the matrimonial knell
Of worthy people such as these!
Why was I an attorney? Well –
Go on to the saevitia, please.”

“Domestic bliss has proved my bane, – A harder case you never heard,
My wife (in other matters sane)
Pretends that I’m a Dicky bird!

“She makes me sing, ‘Too-whit, too-wee!’ And stand upon a rounded stick,
And always introduces me
To every one as ‘Pretty Dick’!”

“Oh, dear,” said weeping BAINES CAREW, “This is the direst case I know.”
“I’m grieved,” said BAGG, “at paining you – “To COBB and POLTHERTHWAITE I’ll go –

“To COBB’S cold, calculating ear,
My gruesome sorrows I’ll impart” –
“No; stop,” said BAINES, “I’ll dry my tear, And steel my sympathetic heart.”

“She makes me perch upon a tree,
Rewarding me with ‘Sweety–nice!’
And threatens to exhibit me
With four or five performing mice.”

“Restrain my tears I wish I could”
(Said BAINES), “I don’t know what to do.” Said CAPTAIN BAGG, “You’re very good.”
“Oh, not at all,” said BAINES CAREW.

“She makes me fire a gun,” said BAGG; “And, at a preconcerted word,
Climb up a ladder with a flag,
Like any street performing bird.

“She places sugar in my way –
In public places calls me ‘Sweet!’
She gives me groundsel every day,
And hard canary-seed to eat.”

“Oh, woe! oh, sad! oh, dire to tell!” (Said BAINES). “Be good enough to stop.” And senseless on the floor he fell,
With unpremeditated flop!

Said CAPTAIN BAGG, “Well, really I
Am grieved to think it pains you so. I thank you for your sympathy;
But, hang it!–come–I say, you know!”

But BAINES lay flat upon the floor,
Convulsed with sympathetic sob; –
The Captain toddled off next door,
And gave the case to MR. COBB.


In all the towns and cities fair
On Merry England’s broad expanse,
No swordsman ever could compare

The dauntless lad could fairly hew
A silken handkerchief in twain,
Divide a leg of mutton too –
And this without unwholesome strain.

On whole half-sheep, with cunning trick, His sabre sometimes he’d employ –
No bar of lead, however thick,
Had terrors for the stalwart boy.

At Dover daily he’d prepare
To hew and slash, behind, before –
Which aggravated MONSIEUR PIERRE,
Who watched him from the Calais shore.

It caused good PIERRE to swear and dance, The sight annoyed and vexed him so;
He was the bravest man in France –
He said so, and he ought to know.

“Regardez donc, ce cochon gros –
Ce polisson! Oh, sacre bleu!
Son sabre, son plomb, et ses gigots Comme cela m’ennuye, enfin, mon Dieu!

“Il sait que les foulards de soie
Give no retaliating whack –
Les gigots morts n’ont pas de quoi – Le plomb don’t ever hit you back.”

But every day the headstrong lad
Cut lead and mutton more and more;
And every day poor PIERRE, half mad, Shrieked loud defiance from his shore.

HANCE had a mother, poor and old,
A simple, harmless village dame,
Who crowed and clapped as people told Of WINTERBOTTOM’S rising fame.

She said, “I’ll be upon the spot
To see my TOMMY’S sabre-play;”
And so she left her leafy cot,
And walked to Dover in a day.

PIERRE had a doating mother, who
Had heard of his defiant rage;
HIS Ma was nearly ninety-two,
And rather dressy for her age.

At HANCE’S doings every morn,
With sheer delight HIS mother cried; And MONSIEUR PIERRE’S contemptuous scorn Filled HIS mamma with proper pride.

But HANCE’S powers began to fail –
His constitution was not strong –
And PIERRE, who once was stout and hale, Grew thin from shouting all day long.

Their mothers saw them pale and wan,
Maternal anguish tore each breast,
And so they met to find a plan
To set their offsprings’ minds at rest.

Said MRS. HANCE, “Of course I shrinks From bloodshed, ma’am, as you’re aware,
But still they’d better meet, I thinks.” “Assurement!” said MADAME PIERRE.

A sunny spot in sunny France
Was hit upon for this affair;
The ground was picked by MRS. HANCE, The stakes were pitched by MADAME PIERRE.

Said MRS. H., “Your work you see –
Go in, my noble boy, and win.”
“En garde, mon fils!” said MADAME P. “Allons!” “Go on!” “En garde!” “Begin!”

(The mothers were of decent size,
Though not particularly tall;
But in the sketch that meets your eyes I’ve been obliged to draw them small.)

Loud sneered the doughty man of France, “Ho! ho! Ho! ho! Ha! ha! Ha! ha!
“The French for ‘Pish'” said THOMAS HANCE. Said PIERRE, “L’Anglais, Monsieur, pour ‘Bah.'”

Said MRS. H., “Come, one! two! three! – We’re sittin’ here to see all fair.”
“C’est magnifique!” said MADAME P., “Mais, parbleu! ce n’est pas la guerre!”

“Je scorn un foe si lache que vous,”
Said PIERRE, the doughty son of France. “I fight not coward foe like you!”
Said our undaunted TOMMY HANCE.

“The French for ‘Pooh!'” our TOMMY cried. “L’Anglais pour ‘Va!'” the Frenchman crowed. And so, with undiminished pride,
Each went on his respective road.


A gentleman of City fame
Now claims your kind attention;
East India broking was his game,
His name I shall not mention:
No one of finely-pointed sense
Would violate a confidence,
And shall _I_ go
And do it? No!
His name I shall not mention.

He had a trusty wife and true,
And very cosy quarters,
A manager, a boy or two,
Six clerks, and seven porters.
A broker must be doing well
(As any lunatic can tell)
Who can employ
An active boy,
Six clerks, and seven porters.

His knocker advertised no dun,
No losses made him sulky,
He had one sorrow–only one –
He was extremely bulky.
A man must be, I beg to state,
Exceptionally fortunate
Who owns his chief
And only grief
Is–being very bulky.

“This load,” he’d say, “I cannot bear; I’m nineteen stone or twenty!
Henceforward I’ll go in for air
And exercise in plenty.”
Most people think that, should it come, They can reduce a bulging tum
To measures fair
By taking air
And exercise in plenty.

In every weather, every day,
Dry, muddy, wet, or gritty,
He took to dancing all the way
From Brompton to the City.
You do not often get the chance
Of seeing sugar brokers dance
From their abode
In Fulham Road
Through Brompton to the City.

He braved the gay and guileless laugh Of children with their nusses,
The loud uneducated chaff
Of clerks on omnibuses.
Against all minor things that rack
A nicely-balanced mind, I’ll back
The noisy chaff
And ill-bred laugh
Of clerks on omnibuses.

His friends, who heard his money chink, And saw the house he rented,
And knew his wife, could never think What made him discontented.
It never entered their pure minds
That fads are of eccentric kinds,
Nor would they own
That fat alone
Could make one discontented.

“Your riches know no kind of pause,
Your trade is fast advancing;
You dance–but not for joy, because You weep as you are dancing.
To dance implies that man is glad,
To weep implies that man is sad;
But here are you
Who do the two –
You weep as you are dancing!”

His mania soon got noised about
And into all the papers;
His size increased beyond a doubt
For all his reckless capers:
It may seem singular to you,
But all his friends admit it true – The more he found
His figure round,
The more he cut his capers.

His bulk increased–no matter that –
He tried the more to toss it –
He never spoke of it as “fat,”
But “adipose deposit.”
Upon my word, it seems to me
Unpardonable vanity
(And worse than that)
To call your fat
An “adipose deposit.”

At length his brawny knees gave way,
And on the carpet sinking,
Upon his shapeless back he lay
And kicked away like winking.
Instead of seeing in his state
The finger of unswerving Fate,
He laboured still
To work his will,
And kicked away like winking.

His friends, disgusted with him now,
Away in silence wended –
I hardly like to tell you how
This dreadful story ended.
The shocking sequel to impart,
I must employ the limner’s art –
If you would know,
This sketch will show
How his exertions ended.


I hate to preach–I hate to prate –
– I’m no fanatic croaker,
But learn contentment from the fate Of this East India broker.
He’d everything a man of taste
Could ever want, except a waist;
And discontent
His size anent,
And bootless perseverance blind,
Completely wrecked the peace of mind Of this East India broker.


Vast empty shell!
Impertinent, preposterous abortion! With vacant stare,
And ragged hair,
And every feature out of all proportion! Embodiment of echoing inanity!
Excellent type of simpering insanity! Unwieldy, clumsy nightmare of humanity!
I ring thy knell!

To-night thou diest,
Beast that destroy’st my heaven-born identity! Nine weeks of nights,
Before the lights,
Swamped in thine own preposterous nonentity, I’ve been ill-treated, cursed, and thrashed diurnally, Credited for the smile you wear externally – I feel disposed to smash thy face, infernally, As there thou liest!

I’ve been thy brain:
I’VE been the brain that lit thy dull concavity! The human race
Invest MY face
With thine expression of unchecked depravity, Invested with a ghastly reciprocity,
I’VE been responsible for thy monstrosity, I, for thy wanton, blundering ferocity – But not again!

‘T is time to toll
Thy knell, and that of follies pantomimical: A nine weeks’ run,
And thou hast done
All thou canst do to make thyself inimical. Adieu, embodiment of all inanity!
Excellent type of simpering insanity! Unwieldy, clumsy nightmare of humanity!
Freed is thy soul!

(The Mask respondeth.)

Oh! master mine,
Look thou within thee, ere again ill-using me. Art thou aware
Of nothing there
Which might abuse thee, as thou art abusing me? A brain that mourns THINE unredeemed rascality? A soul that weeps at THY threadbare morality? Both grieving that THEIR individuality
Is merged in thine?


O’er unreclaimed suburban clays
Some years ago were hobblin’
An elderly ghost of easy ways,
And an influential goblin.
The ghost was a sombre spectral shape, A fine old five-act fogy,
The goblin imp, a lithe young ape,
A fine low-comedy bogy.

And as they exercised their joints,
Promoting quick digestion,
They talked on several curious points, And raised this delicate question:
“Which of us two is Number One –
The ghostie, or the goblin?”
And o’er the point they raised in fun They fairly fell a-squabblin’.

They’d barely speak, and each, in fine, Grew more and more reflective:
Each thought his own particular line By chalks the more effective.
At length they settled some one should By each of them be haunted,
And so arrange that either could
Exert his prowess vaunted.

“The Quaint against the Statuesque” – By competition lawful –
The goblin backed the Quaint Grotesque, The ghost the Grandly Awful.
“Now,” said the goblin, “here’s my plan – In attitude commanding,
I see a stalwart Englishman
By yonder tailor’s standing.

“The very fittest man on earth
My influence to try on –
Of gentle, p’r’aps of noble birth,
And dauntless as a lion!
Now wrap yourself within your shroud – Remain in easy hearing –
Observe–you’ll hear him scream aloud When I begin appearing!

The imp with yell unearthly–wild –
Threw off his dark enclosure:
His dauntless victim looked and smiled With singular composure.
For hours he tried to daunt the youth, For days, indeed, but vainly –
The stripling smiled!–to tell the truth, The stripling smiled inanely.

For weeks the goblin weird and wild,
That noble stripling haunted;
For weeks the stripling stood and smiled, Unmoved and all undaunted.
The sombre ghost exclaimed, “Your plan Has failed you, goblin, plainly:
Now watch yon hardy Hieland man,
So stalwart and ungainly.

“These are the men who chase the roe, Whose footsteps never falter,
Who bring with them, where’er they go, A smack of old SIR WALTER.
Of such as he, the men sublime
Who lead their troops victorious,
Whose deeds go down to after-time,
Enshrined in annals glorious!

“Of such as he the bard has said
‘Hech thrawfu’ raltie rorkie!
Wi’ thecht ta’ croonie clapperhead
And fash’ wi’ unco pawkie!’
He’ll faint away when I appear,
Upon his native heather;
Or p’r’aps he’ll only scream with fear, Or p’r’aps the two together.”

The spectre showed himself, alone,
To do his ghostly battling,
With curdling groan and dismal moan, And lots of chains a-rattling!
But no–the chiel’s stout Gaelic stuff Withstood all ghostly harrying;
His fingers closed upon the snuff
Which upwards he was carrying.

For days that ghost declined to stir, A foggy shapeless giant –
For weeks that splendid officer
Stared back again defiant.
Just as the Englishman returned
The goblin’s vulgar staring,
Just so the Scotchman boldly spurned The ghost’s unmannered scaring.

For several years the ghostly twain
These Britons bold have haunted,
But all their efforts are in vain – Their victims stand undaunted.
This very day the imp, and ghost,
Whose powers the imp derided,
Stand each at his allotted post –
The bet is undecided.


A Bishop once–I will not name his see – Annoyed his clergy in the mode conventional; From pulpit shackles never set them free, And found a sin where sin was unintentional. All pleasures ended in abuse auricular – The Bishop was so terribly particular.

Though, on the whole, a wise and upright man, He sought to make of human pleasures clearances; And form his priests on that much-lauded plan Which pays undue attention to appearances. He couldn’t do good deeds without a psalm in ’em, Although, in truth, he bore away the palm in ’em.

Enraged to find a deacon at a dance,
Or catch a curate at some mild frivolity, He sought by open censure to enhance
Their dread of joining harmless social jollity. Yet he enjoyed (a fact of notoriety)
The ordinary pleasures of society.

One evening, sitting at a pantomime
(Forbidden treat to those who stood in fear of him), Roaring at jokes, sans metre, sense, or rhyme, He turned, and saw immediately in rear of him, His peace of mind upsetting, and annoying it, A curate, also heartily enjoying it.

Again, ‘t was Christmas Eve, and to enhance His children’s pleasure in their harmless rollicking, He, like a good old fellow, stood to dance; When something checked the current of his frolicking: That curate, with a maid he treated lover-ly, Stood up and figured with him in the “Coverley!”

Once, yielding to an universal choice (The company’s demand was an emphatic one, For the old Bishop had a glorious voice), In a quartet he joined–an operatic one. Harmless enough, though ne’er a word of grace in it, When, lo! that curate came and took the bass in it!

One day, when passing through a quiet street, He stopped awhile and joined a Punch’s gathering; And chuckled more than solemn folk think meet, To see that gentleman his Judy lathering; And heard, as Punch was being treated penalty, That phantom curate laughing all hyaenally.

Now at a picnic, ‘mid fair golden curls, Bright eyes, straw hats, bottines that fit amazingly, A croquet-bout is planned by all the girls; And he, consenting, speaks of croquet praisingly; But suddenly declines to play at all in it – The curate fiend has come to take a ball in it!

Next, when at quiet sea-side village, freed From cares episcopal and ties monarchical, He grows his beard, and smokes his fragrant weed, In manner anything but hierarchical –
He sees–and fixes an unearthly stare on it – That curate’s face, with half a yard of hair on it!

At length he gave a charge, and spake this word: “Vicars, your curates to enjoyment urge ye may; To check their harmless pleasuring’s absurd; What laymen do without reproach, my clergy may.” He spake, and lo! at this concluding word of him, The curate vanished–no one since has heard of him.


Was a man-eating African swell;
His sigh was a hullaballoo,
His whisper a horrible yell –
A horrible, horrible yell!

Four subjects, and all of them male,
To BORRIA doubled the knee,
They were once on a far larger scale, But he’d eaten the balance, you see
(“Scale” and “balance” is punning, you see).

There was haughty PISH-TUSH-POOH-BAH, There was lumbering DOODLE-DUM-DEY,
Despairing ALACK-A-DEY-AH,
And good little TOOTLE-TUM-TEH –

One day there was grief in the crew,
For they hadn’t a morsel of meat,
Was dying for something to eat –
“Come, provide me with something to eat!

“ALACK-A-DEY, famished I feel;
Oh, good little TOOTLE-TUM-TEH,
Where on earth shall I look for a meal? For I haven’t no dinner to-day! –
Not a morsel of dinner to-day!

“Dear TOOTLE-TUM, what shall we do?
Come, get us a meal, or, in truth,
If you don’t, we shall have to eat you, Oh, adorable friend of our youth!
Thou beloved little friend of our youth!”

And he answered, “Oh, BUNGALEE BOO,
For a moment I hope you will wait, – TIPPY-WIPPITY TOL-THE-ROL-LOO
Is the Queen of a neighbouring state – A remarkably neighbouring state.

She would pickle deliciously cold – And her four pretty Amazons, too,
Are enticing, and not very old –
Twenty-seven is not very old.

“There is neat little TITTY-FOL-LEH,
There is rollicking TRAL-THE-RAL-LAH, There is jocular WAGGETY-WEH,
There is musical DOH-REH-MI-FAH –
There’s the nightingale DOH-REH-MI-FAH!”

So the forces of BUNGALEE BOO
Marched forth in a terrible row,
And the ladies who fought for QUEEN LOO Prepared to encounter the foe –
This dreadful, insatiate foe!

But they sharpened no weapons at all, And they poisoned no arrows–not they!
They made ready to conquer or fall
In a totally different way –
An entirely different way.

With a crimson and pearly-white dye
They endeavoured to make themselves fair, With black they encircled each eye,
And with yellow they painted their hair (It was wool, but they thought it was hair).

And the forces they met in the field:- And the men of KING BORRIA said,
“Amazonians, immediately yield!”
And their arrows they drew to the head – Yes, drew them right up to the head.

But jocular WAGGETY-WEH
Ogled DOODLE-DUM-DEY (which was wrong), And neat little TITTY-FOL-LEH
Said, “TOOTLE-TUM, you go along!
You naughty old dear, go along!”

And rollicking TRAL-THE-RAL-LAH
Tapped ALACK-A-DEY-AH with her fan; And musical DOH-REH-MI-FAH
Said, “PISH, go away, you bad man!
Go away, you delightful young man!”

And the Amazons simpered and sighed,
And they ogled, and giggled, and flushed, And they opened their pretty eyes wide,
And they chuckled, and flirted, and blushed (At least, if they could, they’d have blushed).

Said, “ALACK-A-DEY, what does this mean?” And despairing ALACK-A-DEY-AH
Said, “They think us uncommonly green! Ha! ha! most uncommonly green!”

Even blundering DOODLE-DUM-DEY
Was insensible quite to their leers, And said good little TOOTLE-TUM-TEH,
“It’s your blood we desire, pretty dears – We have come for our dinners, my dears!”

And the Queen of the Amazons fell
In a mouthful he gulped, with a yell, TIPPY-WIPPITY TOL-THE-ROL-LOO –

And neat little TITTY-FOL-LEH
Was eaten by PISH-POOH-BAH,
And light-hearted WAGGETY-WEH
By dismal ALACK-A-DEY-AH –
Despairing ALACK-A-DEY-AH.

And rollicking TRAL-THE-RAL-LAH
Was eaten by DOODLE-DUM-DEY,
And musical DOH-REH-MI-FAH
By good little TOOTLE-DUM-TEH –


BOB POLTER was a navvy, and
His hands were coarse, and dirty too, His homely face was rough and tanned,
His time of life was thirty-two.

He lived among a working clan
(A wife he hadn’t got at all),
A decent, steady, sober man –
No saint, however–not at all.

He smoked, but in a modest way,
Because he thought he needed it;
He drank a pot of beer a day,
And sometimes he exceeded it.

At times he’d pass with other men
A loud convivial night or two,
With, very likely, now and then,
On Saturdays, a fight or two.

But still he was a sober soul,
A labour-never-shirking man,
Who paid his way–upon the whole
A decent English working man.

One day, when at the Nelson’s Head
(For which he may be blamed of you), A holy man appeared, and said,
“Oh, ROBERT, I’m ashamed of you.”

He laid his hand on ROBERT’S beer
Before he could drink up any,
And on the floor, with sigh and tear, He poured the pot of “thruppenny.”

“Oh, ROBERT, at this very bar
A truth you’ll be discovering,
A good and evil genius are
Around your noddle hovering.

“They both are here to bid you shun
The other one’s society,
For Total Abstinence is one,
The other, Inebriety.”

He waved his hand–a vapour came –
A wizard POLTER reckoned him;
A bogy rose and called his name,
And with his finger beckoned him.

The monster’s salient points to sum, – His heavy breath was portery:
His glowing nose suggested rum:
His eyes were gin-and-WORtery.

His dress was torn–for dregs of ale
And slops of gin had rusted it;
His pimpled face was wan and pale,
Where filth had not encrusted it.

“Come, POLTER,” said the fiend, “begin, And keep the bowl a-flowing on –
A working man needs pints of gin
To keep his clockwork going on.”

BOB shuddered: “Ah, you’ve made a miss If you take me for one of you:
You filthy beast, get out of this – BOB POLTER don’t wan’t none of you.”

The demon gave a drunken shriek,
And crept away in stealthiness,
And lo! instead, a person sleek,
Who seemed to burst with healthiness.

“In me, as your adviser hints,
Of Abstinence you’ve got a type –
Of MR. TWEEDIE’S pretty prints
I am the happy prototype.

“If you abjure the social toast,
And pipes, and such frivolities,
You possibly some day may boast
My prepossessing qualities!”

BOB rubbed his eyes, and made ’em blink: “You almost make me tremble, you!
If I abjure fermented drink,
Shall I, indeed, resemble you?

“And will my whiskers curl so tight?
My cheeks grow smug and muttony?
My face become so red and white?
My coat so blue and buttony?

“Will trousers, such as yours, array
Extremities inferior?
Will chubbiness assert its sway
All over my exterior?

“In this, my unenlightened state,
To work in heavy boots I comes;
Will pumps henceforward decorate
My tiddle toddle tootsicums?

“And shall I get so plump and fresh,
And look no longer seedily?
My skin will henceforth fit my flesh So tightly and so TWEEDIE-ly?”

The phantom said, “You’ll have all this, You’ll know no kind of huffiness,
Your life will be one chubby bliss, One long unruffled puffiness!”