MORE BAB BALLADS
MORE BAB BALLADS
W. S. GILBERT
The Bumboat Woman's Story
The Two Ogres
Pasha Bailey Ben
Lost Mr. Blake
The Baby's Vengeance
The Captain And The Mermaids
Annie Protheroe. A Legend of Stratford-Le-Bow
An Unfortunate Likeness
Gregory Parable LL.D.
The King Of Canoodle-Dum
Brave Alum Bey
Sir Barnaby Bampton Boo
The Modest Couple
The Sailor Boy To His Lass
The Reverend Simon Magus
Damon v. Pythias
The Bishop Of Rum-Ti-Foo Again
A Worm Will Turn
The Haughty Actor
The Two Majors
Emily John James And I. A Derby Legend
The Perils Of Invisibility
Old Paul And Old Tim
The Mystic Selvagee
The Cunning Woman
The Fairy Curate
The Way Of Wooing
Hongree And Mahry. A Recollection Of A Surrey Melodrama
Ballad: Mister William
Oh listen to the tale of MISTER WILLIAM if you please
Whom naughty naughty judges sent away beyond the seas.
He forged a party's will which caused anxiety and strife
Resulting in his getting penal servitude for life.
He was a kindly goodly man and naturally prone
Instead of taking others' gold to give away his own.
But he had heard of Vice and longed for only once to strike--
To plan ONE little wickedness--to see what it was like.
He argued with himself and said "A spotless man am I;
I can't be more respectable however hard I try!
For six and thirty years I've always been as good as gold
And now for half an hour I'll plan infamy untold!
"A baby who is wicked at the early age of one
And then reforms--and dies at thirty-six a spotless son
Is never never saddled with his babyhood's defect
But earns from worthy men consideration and respect.
"So one who never revelled in discreditable tricks
Until he reached the comfortable age of thirty-six
May then for half an hour perpetrate a deed of shame
Without incurring permanent disgrace or even blame.
"That babies don't commit such crimes as forgery is true
But little sins develop if you leave 'em to accrue;
And he who shuns all vices as successive seasons roll
Should reap at length the benefit of so much self-control.
"The common sin of babyhood--objecting to be drest--
If you leave it to accumulate at compound interest
For anything you know may represent if you're alive
A burglary or murder at the age of thirty-five.
"Still I wouldn't take advantage of this fact but be content
With some pardonable folly--it's a mere experiment.
The greater the temptation to go wrong the less the sin;
So with something that's particularly tempting I'll begin.
"I would not steal a penny for my income's very fair--
I do not want a penny--I have pennies and to spare--
And if I stole a penny from a money-bag or till
The sin would be enormous--the temptation being nil.
"But if I broke asunder all such pettifogging bounds
And forged a party's Will for (say) Five Hundred Thousand Pounds
With such an irresistible temptation to a haul
Of course the sin must be infinitesimally small.
"There's WILSON who is dying--he has wealth from Stock and rent--
If I divert his riches from their natural descent
I'm placed in a position to indulge each little whim."
So he diverted them--and they in turn diverted him.
Unfortunately though by some unpardonable flaw
Temptation isn't recognized by Britain's Common Law;
Men found him out by some peculiarity of touch
And WILLIAM got a "lifer" which annoyed him very much.
For ah! he never reconciled himself to life in gaol
He fretted and he pined and grew dispirited and pale;
He was numbered like a cabman too which told upon him so
That his spirits once so buoyant grew uncomfortably low.
And sympathetic gaolers would remark "It's very true
He ain't been brought up common like the likes of me and you."
So they took him into hospital and gave him mutton chops
And chocolate and arrowroot and buns and malt and hops.
Kind Clergymen besides grew interested in his fate
Affected by the details of his pitiable state.
They waited on the Secretary somewhere in Whitehall
Who said he would receive them any day they liked to call.
"Consider sir the hardship of this interesting case:
A prison life brings with it something very like disgrace;
It's telling on young WILLIAM who's reduced to skin and bone--
Remember he's a gentleman with money of his own.
"He had an ample income and of course he stands in need
Of sherry with his dinner and his customary weed;
No delicacies now can pass his gentlemanly lips--
He misses his sea-bathing and his continental trips.
"He says the other prisoners are commonplace and rude;
He says he cannot relish uncongenial prison food.
When quite a boy they taught him to distinguish Good from Bad
And other educational advantages he's had.
"A burglar or garotter or indeed a common thief
Is very glad to batten on potatoes and on beef
Or anything in short that prison kitchens can afford--
A cut above the diet in a common workhouse ward.
"But beef and mutton-broth don't seem to suit our WILLIAM'S whim
A boon to other prisoners--a punishment to him.
It never was intended that the discipline of gaol
Should dash a convict's spirits sir or make him thin or pale."
"Good Gracious Me!" that sympathetic Secretary cried
"Suppose in prison fetters MISTER WILLIAM should have died!
Dear me of course! Imprisonment for LIFE his sentence saith:
I'm very glad you mentioned it--it might have been For Death!
"Release him with a ticket--he'll be better then no doubt
And tell him I apologize." So MISTER WILLIAM'S out.
I hope he will be careful in his manuscripts I'm sure
And not begin experimentalizing any more.
Ballad: The Bumboat Woman's Story
I'm old my dears and shrivelled with age and work and grief
My eyes are gone and my teeth have been drawn by Time the Thief!
For terrible sights I've seen and dangers great I've run--
I'm nearly seventy now and my work is almost done!
Ah! I've been young in my time and I've played the deuce with men!
I'm speaking of ten years past--I was barely sixty then:
My cheeks were mellow and soft and my eyes were large and sweet
POLL PINEAPPLE'S eyes were the standing toast of the Royal Fleet!
A bumboat woman was I and I faithfully served the ships
With apples and cakes and fowls and beer and halfpenny dips
And beef for the generous mess where the officers dine at nights
And fine fresh peppermint drops for the rollicking midshipmites.
Of all the kind commanders who anchored in Portsmouth Bay
By far the sweetest of all was kind LIEUTENANT BELAYE.'
LIEUTENANT BELAYE commanded the gunboat Hot Cross Bun
She was seven and thirty feet in length and she carried a gun.
With a laudable view of enhancing his country's naval pride
When people inquired her size LIEUTENANT BELAYE replied
"Oh my ship my ship is the first of the Hundred and Seventy-ones!"
Which meant her tonnage but people imagined it meant her guns.
Whenever I went on board he would beckon me down below
"Come down Little Buttercup come" (for he loved to call me so)
And he'd tell of the fights at sea in which he'd taken a part
And so LIEUTENANT BELAYE won poor POLL PINEAPPLE'S heart!
But at length his orders came and he said one day said he
"I'm ordered to sail with the Hot Cross Bun to the German Sea."
And the Portsmouth maidens wept when they learnt the evil day
For every Portsmouth maid loved good LIEUTENANT BELAYE.
And I went to a back back street with plenty of cheap cheap shops
And I bought an oilskin hat and a second-hand suit of slops
And I went to LIEUTENANT BELAYE (and he never suspected ME!)
And I entered myself as a chap as wanted to go to sea.
We sailed that afternoon at the mystic hour of one--
Remarkably nice young men were the crew of the Hot Cross Bun
I'm sorry to say that I've heard that sailors sometimes swear
But I never yet heard a BUN say anything wrong I declare.
When Jack Tars meet they meet with a "Messmate ho! What cheer?"
But here on the Hot Cross Bun it was "How do you do my dear?"
When Jack Tars growl I believe they growl with a big big D-
But the strongest oath of the Hot Cross Buns was a mild "Dear me!"
Yet though they were all well-bred you could scarcely call them
Whenever a sea was on they were all extremely sick;
And whenever the weather was calm and the wind was light and fair
They spent more time than a sailor should on his back back hair.
They certainly shivered and shook when ordered aloft to run
And they screamed when LIEUTENANT BELAYE discharged his only gun.
And as he was proud of his gun--such pride is hardly wrong--
The Lieutenant was blazing away at intervals all day long.
They all agreed very well though at times you heard it said
That BILL had a way of his own of making his lips look red--
That JOE looked quite his age--or somebody might declare
That BARNACLE'S long pig-tail was never his own own hair.
BELAYE would admit that his men were of no great use to him
"But then" he would say "there is little to do on a gunboat trim
I can hand and reef and steer and fire my big gun too--
And it IS such a treat to sail with a gentle well-bred crew."
I saw him every day. How the happy moments sped!
Reef topsails! Make all taut! There's dirty weather ahead!
(I do not mean that tempests threatened the Hot Cross Bun:
In THAT case I don't know whatever we SHOULD have done!)
After a fortnight's cruise we put into port one day
And off on leave for a week went kind LIEUTENANT BELAYE
And after a long long week had passed (and it seemed like a life)
LIEUTENANT BELAYE returned to his ship with a fair young wife!
He up and he says says he "O crew of the Hot Cross Bun
Here is the wife of my heart for the Church has made us one!"
And as he uttered the word the crew went out of their wits
And all fell down in so many separate fainting-fits.
And then their hair came down or off as the case might be
And lo! the rest of the crew were simple girls like me
Who all had fled from their homes in a sailor's blue array
To follow the shifting fate of kind LIEUTENANT BELAYE.
* * * * * * * *
It's strange to think that _I_ should ever have loved young men
But I'm speaking of ten years past--I was barely sixty then
And now my cheeks are furrowed with grief and age I trow!
And poor POLL PINEAPPLE'S eyes have lost their lustre now!
Ballad: The Two Ogres
Good children list if you're inclined
And wicked children too--
This pretty ballad is designed
Especially for you.
Two ogres dwelt in Wickham Wold--
Each TRAITS distinctive had:
The younger was as good as gold
The elder was as bad.
A wicked disobedient son
Was JAMES M'ALPINE and
A contrast to the elder one
Good APPLEBODY BLAND.
M'ALPINE--brutes like him are few--
In greediness delights
A melancholy victim to
Good well-bred children every day
He ravenously ate--
All boys were fish who found their way
Into M'ALPINE'S net:
Boys whose good breeding is innate
Whose sums are always right;
And boys who don't expostulate
When sent to bed at night;
And kindly boys who never search
The nests of birds of song;
And serious boys for whom in church
No sermon is too long.
Contrast with JAMES'S greedy haste
And comprehensive hand
The nice discriminating taste
Of APPLEBODY BLAND.
BLAND only eats bad boys who swear--
Who CAN behave but DON'T--
Disgraceful lads who say "don't care"
And "shan't" and "can't" and "won't."
Who wet their shoes and learn to box
And say what isn't true
Who bite their nails and jam their frocks
And make long noses too;
Who kick a nurse's aged shin
And sit in sulky mopes;
And boys who twirl poor kittens in
But JAMES when he was quite a youth
Had often been to school
And though so bad to tell the truth
He wasn't quite a fool.
At logic few with him could vie;
To his peculiar sect
He could propose a fallacy
With singular effect.
So when his Mentors said "Expound--
Why eat good children--why?"
Upon his Mentors he would round
With this absurd reply:
"I have been taught to love the good--
The pure--the unalloyed--
And wicked boys I've understood
I always should avoid.
"Why do I eat good children--why?
Because I love them so!"
(But this was empty sophistry
As your Papa can show.)
Now though the learning of his friends
Was truly not immense
They had a way of fitting ends
By rule of common sense.
"Away away!" his Mentors cried
"Thou uncongenial pest!
A quirk's a thing we can't abide
A quibble we detest!
"A fallacy in your reply
Our intellect descries
Although we don't pretend to spy
Exactly where it lies.
"In misery and penal woes
Must end a glutton's joys;
And learn how ogres punish those
Who dare to eat good boys.
"Secured by fetter cramp and chain
And gagged securely--so--
You shall be placed in Drury Lane
Where only good lads go.
"Surrounded there by virtuous boys
You'll suffer torture wus
Than that which constantly annoys
("If you would learn the woes that vex
Poor TANTALUS down there
Pray borrow of Papa an ex-
"But as for BLAND who as it seems
Eats only naughty boys
We've planned a recompense that teems
With gastronomic joys.
"Where wicked youths in crowds are stowed
He shall unquestioned rule
And have the run of Hackney Road
Ballad: Little Oliver
EARL JOYCE he was a kind old party
Whom nothing ever could put out
Though eighty-two he still was hearty
Excepting as regarded gout.
He had one unexampled daughter
The LADY MINNIE-HAHA JOYCE
Fair MINNIE-HAHA "Laughing Water"
So called from her melodious voice.
By Nature planned for lover-capture
Her beauty every heart assailed;
The good old nobleman with rapture
Observed how widely she prevailed
Aloof from all the lordly flockings
Of titled swells who worshipped her
There stood in pumps and cotton stockings
One humble lover--OLIVER.
He was no peer by Fortune petted
His name recalled no bygone age;
He was no lordling coronetted--
Alas! he was a simple page!
With vain appeals he never bored her
But stood in silent sorrow by--
He knew how fondly he adored her
And knew alas! how hopelessly!
Well grounded by a village tutor
In languages alive and past
He'd say unto himself "Knee-suitor
Oh do not go beyond your last!"
But though his name could boast no handle
He could not every hope resign;
As moths will hover round a candle
So hovered he about her shrine.
The brilliant candle dazed the moth well:
One day she sang to her Papa
The air that MARIE sings with BOTHWELL
In NEIDERMEYER'S opera.
(Therein a stable boy it's stated
Devoutly loved a noble dame
Who ardently reciprocated
His rather injudicious flame.)