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108 Works of W. S. Gilbert

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The Rival Curates

Story type: Literature

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List while the poet trolls Of MR. CLAYTON HOOPER, 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 […]

A leafy cot, where no dry rotHad ever been by tenant seen,Where ivy clung and wopses stung,Where beeses hummed and drummed and strummed,Where treeses grew and breezes blew–A thatchy roof, quite waterproof,Where countless herds of dicky-birdsBuilt twiggy beds to lay their heads(My mother begs I’ll make it “eggs,”But though it’s true that dickies doConstruct a […]

The story of FREDERICK GOWLER,A mariner of the sea,Who quitted his ship, the Howler,A-sailing in Caribbee.For many a day he wandered,Till he met in a state of rumCALAMITY POP VON PEPPERMINT DROP,The King of Canoodle-Dum. That monarch addressed him gaily,“Hum! Golly de do to-day?Hum! Lily-white Buckra Sailee”–(You notice his playful way?)–“What dickens you doin’ here, […]

I sing a legend of the sea,So hard-a-port upon your lee!A ship on starboard tack!She’s bound upon a private cruise–(This is the kind of spice I useTo give a salt-sea smack). Behold, on every afternoon(Save in a gale or strong Monsoon)Great CAPTAIN CAPEL CLEGGS(Great morally, though rather short)Sat at an open weather-portAnd aired his shapely […]

Oh! listen to the tale of little ANNIE PROTHEROE.She kept a small post-office in the neighbourhood of BOW;She loved a skilled mechanic, who was famous in his day–A gentle executioner whose name was GILBERT CLAY. I think I hear you say, “A dreadful subject for your rhymes!”O reader, do not shrink–he didn’t live in modern […]

Weary at heart and extremely illWas PALEY VOLLAIRE of Bromptonville,In a dirty lodging, with fever down,Close to the Polygon, Somers Town. PALEY VOLLAIRE was an only son(For why? His mother had had but one),And PALEY inherited gold and groundsWorth several hundred thousand pounds. But he, like many a rich young man,Through this magnificent fortune ran,And […]

I’ve painted SHAKESPEARE all my life–“An infant” (even then at “play”!)“A boy,” with stage-ambition rife,Then “Married to ANN HATHAWAY.” “The bard’s first ticket night” (or “ben.”),His “First appearance on the stage,”His “Call before the curtain”–then“Rejoicings when he came of age.” The bard play-writing in his room,The bard a humble lawyer’s clerk.The bard a lawyer {1}–parson […]

The Terrible Tale

Story type: Poetry

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“‘Tis now some thirty-seven years agoSince first began the plot that I’m revealing,A fine young woman, whom you ought to know,Lived with her husband down in Drum Lane, Ealing.Herself by means of mangling reimbursing,And now and then (at intervals) wet-nursing. “Two little babes dwelt in their humble cot:One was her own–the other only lent to […]

Why, pretty page, art ever sighing?Is sorrow in thy heartlet lying?Come, set a-ringingThy laugh entrancing,And ever singingAnd ever dancing.Ever singing, Tra! la! la!Ever dancing, Tra! la! la!Ever singing, ever dancing,Ever singing, Tra! la! la! He skipped for joy like little muttons,He danced like Esmeralda’s kid.(She did not mean a boy in buttons,Although he fancied that […]

Pasha Bailey Ben

Story type: Poetry

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A proud Pasha was BAILEY BEN,His wives were three, his tails were ten;His form was dignified, but stout,Men called him “Little Roundabout.” His Importance Pale Pilgrims came from o’er the seaTo wait on PASHA BAILEY B.,All bearing presents in a crowd,For B. was poor as well as proud. His Presents They brought him onions strung […]

The earth has armies plenty,And semi-warlike bands,I dare say there are twentyIn European lands;But, oh! in no directionYou’d find one to compareIn brotherly affectionWith that of COLONEL FLARE. His soldiers might be ratedAs military Pearls.As unsophisticatedAs pretty little girls!They never smoked or ratted,Or talked of Sues or Polls;The Sergeant-Major tatted,The others nursed their dolls. He […]

Lost Mr. Blake

Story type: Poetry

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MR. BLAKE was a regular out-and-out hardened sinner,Who was quite out of the pale of Christianity, so to speak,He was in the habit of smoking a long pipe and drinking a glass of grogon a Sunday after dinner,And seldom thought of going to church more than twice or–if GoodFriday or Christmas Day happened to come […]

A Mirage

Story type: Poetry

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Were I thy bride,Then the whole world besideWere not too wideTo hold my wealth of love–Were I thy bride!Upon thy breastMy loving head would rest,As on her nestThe tender turtle dove–Were I thy bride! This heart of mineWould be one heart with thine,And in that shrineOur happiness would dwell–Were I thy bride!And all day longOur […]

A Merry Madrigal

Story type: Poetry

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Brightly dawns our wedding day;Joyous hour, we give thee greeting!Whither, whither art thou fleeting?Fickle moment, prithee stay!What though mortal joys be hollow?Pleasures come, if sorrows follow:Though the tocsin sound, ere long,Ding dong! Ding dong!Yet until the shadows fallOver one and over all,Sing a merry madrigal–Fal la! Let us dry the ready tear;Though the hours are […]

The Love-Sick Boy

Story type: Poetry

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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 extravagantUpon 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 intenseUnto […]

Mister William

Story type: Poetry

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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 […]

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 […]

The Two Ogres

Story type: Poetry

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Good children, list, if you’re inclined,And wicked children too–This pretty ballad is designedEspecially 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 sonWas JAMES M’ALPINE, andA contrast to the elder one,Good APPLEBODY BLAND. M’ALPINE–brutes like him are few–In greediness delights,A […]

Rising early in the morning,We proceed to light our fire;Then our Majesty adorningIn its work-a-day attire,We embark without delayOn the duties of the day. First, we polish off some batchesOf political dispatches,And foreign politicians circumvent;Then, if business isn’t heavy,We may hold a Royal levee,Or ratify some acts of Parliament;Then we probably review the household troops–With […]

Little Oliver

Story type: Poetry

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EARL JOYCE he was a kind old partyWhom 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 raptureObserved how widely she prevailed […]

Oh, gentlemen, listen, I pray;Though I own that my heart has been ranging,Of nature the laws I obey,For nature is constantly changing.The moon in her phases is found,The time and the wind and the weather,The months in succession come round,And you don’t find two Mondays together.Consider the moral, I pray,Nor bring a young fellow to […]

Would You Know?

Story type: Poetry

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Would you know the kind of maidSets my heart a flame-a?Eyes must be downcast and staid,Cheeks must flush for shame-a!She may neither dance nor sing,But, demure in everything,Hang her head in modest way,With pouting lips that seem to say“Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me,Though I die of shame-a.”Please you, that’s the kind of […]

A magnet hung in a hardware shop,And all around was a loving cropOf scissors and needles, nails and knives,Offering love for all their lives;But for iron the magnet felt no whim,Though he charmed iron, it charmed not him,From needles and nails and knives he’d turn,For he’d set his love on a Silver Churn!His most aesthetic,Very […]

Braid the raven hair,Weave the supple tress,Deck the maiden fairIn her loveliness;Paint the pretty face,Dye the coral lip.Emphasize the graceOf her ladyship!Art and nature, thus allied,Go to make a pretty bride! Sit with downcast eye,Let it brim with dew;Try if you can cry,We will do so, too.When you’re summoned, startLike a frightened roe;Flutter, little heart,Color, […]

Don’t Forget

Story type: Poetry

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Now, Marco dear,My wishes hear:While you’re awayIt’s understoodYou will be good,And not too gay.To every traceOf maiden graceYou will be blind,And will not glanceBy any chanceOn womankind!If you are wise,You’ll shut your eyes‘Till we arrive,And not addressA lady lessThan forty-five;You’ll please to frownOn every gownThat you may see;And O, my pet,You won’t forgetYou’ve married me! […]

Is Life A Boon?

Story type: Poetry

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Is life a boon?If so? it must befalThat Death, whene’er he call,Must call too soon.Though fourscore years he give,Yet one would pray to liveAnother moon!What kind of plaint have I,Who perish in July?I might have had to die,Perchance, in June! Is life a thorn?Then count it not a whit!Man is well done with it;Soon as […]

I shipped, d’ye see, in a Revenue sloop,And, off Cape Finistere,A merchantman we see,A Frenchman, going free,So we made for the bold Mounseer.D’ye see?We made for the bold Mounseer!But she proved to be a Frigate–and she up with her ports,And fires with a thirty-two!It come uncommon near,But we answered with a cheer,Which paralyzed the Parley-voo,D’ye […]

The Humane Mikado

Story type: Poetry

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A more humane Mikado neverDid in Japan exist,To nobody second,I’m certainly reckonedA true philanthropist,It is my very humane endeavorTo make, to some extent,Each evil liverA running riverOf harmless merriment.My object all sublimeI shall achieve in time–To let the punishment fit the crime–The punishment fit the crime;And make each prisoner pentUnwillingly representA source of innocent merriment,Of […]

When Britain really ruled the waves–(In good Queen Bess’s time)The House of Peers made no pretenceTo intellectual eminence,Or scholarship sublime;Yet Britain won her proudest baysIn good Queen Bess’s glorious days! When Wellington thrashed Bonaparte,As every child can tell,The House of Peers, throughout the war,Did nothing in particular,And did it very well;Yet Britain set the world […]

The Aesthete

Story type: Poetry

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If you’re anxious for to shine in the high aesthetic line,as a man of culture rare,You must get up all the germs of the transcendental terms,and plant them everywhere.You must lie upon the daisies and discourse in novel phrases of yourcomplicated state of mind,The meaning doesn’t matter if it’s only idle chatterof a transcendental kind.And […]

Proper Pride

Story type: Poetry

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The Sun, whose raysAre all ablazeWith ever living glory,Does not denyHis majesty–He scorns to tell a story!He don’t exclaim“I blush for shame,So kindly be indulgent,”But, fierce and bold,In fiery gold,He glories all effulgent! I mean to rule the earth.As he the sky–We really know our worth,The Sun and I! Observe his flame,That placid dame,The Moon’s […]

Whene’er I pokeSarcastic jokeReplete with malice spiteful,The people vilePolitely smileAnd vote me quite delightful!Now, when a wightSits up all nightIll-natured jokes devising,And all his wilesAre met with smiles,It’s hard, there’s no disguising!Oh, don’t the days seem lank and longWhen all goes right and nothing goes wrong,And isn’t your life extremely flatWith nothing whatever to grumble […]

The Family Fool

Story type: Poetry

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Oh! a private buffoon is a light-hearted loon,If you listen to popular rumor;From morning to night he’s so joyous and bright,And he bubbles with wit and good-humor!He’s so quaint and so terse, both in prose and in verse;Yet though people forgive his transgression,There are one or two rules that all Family FoolsMust observe, if they […]

I’ve wisdom from the East and from the West,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 […]

When all night long a chap remainsOn sentry-go, to chase monotonyHe exercises of his brains,That is, assuming that he’s got any,Though never nurtured in the lapOf luxury, yet I admonish you,I am an intellectual chap,And think of things that would astonish you.I often think it’s comicalHow Nature always does contriveThat every boy and every galThat’s […]

Sorry Her Lot

Story type: Poetry

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Sorry her lot who loves too well,Heavy the heart that hopes but vainly,Had are the sighs that own the spellUttered by eyes that speak too plainly;Heavy the sorrow that bows the headWhen Love is alive and Hope is dead! Sad is the hour when sets the Sun–Dark is the night to Earth’s poor daughtersWhen to […]

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 I bought of a booby–A couple of shirts and a collar or two,And a ring that looked like a ruby! In Westminster Hall […]

True Diffidence

Story type: Poetry

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My boy, you may take it from me,That of all the afflictions accurstWith which a man’s saddledAnd 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 […]

Sad is that woman’s lot who, year by year,Sees, one by one, her beauties disappear;As Time, grown weary of her heart-drawn sighs,Impatiently begins to “dim her eyes!”Herself compelled, in life’s uncertain gloamings,To wreathe her wrinkled brow with well saved “combings”–Reduced, with rouge, lipsalve, and pearly grey,To “make up” for lost time, as best she may! […]

I stole the Prince, and I brought him here,And left him, gaily prattlingWith a highly respectable Gondolier,Who promised the Royal babe to rear,And teach him the trade of a timoneerWith his own beloved bratling. Both of the babes were strong and stout,And, considering all things, clever.Of that there is no manner of doubt–No probable, possible […]

Oh! my name is John Wellington Wells–I’m a dealer in magic and spells,In blessings and curses,And ever filled purses,In prophecies, witches and knells!If you want a proud foe to “make tracks”–If you’d melt a rich uncle in wax–You’ve but to look inOn our resident Djinn,Number seventy, Simmery Axe. We’ve a first class assortment of magic;And […]

Speculation

Story type: Poetry

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Comes a train of little ladiesFrom scholastic trammels free,Each a little bit afraid is,Wondering what the world can be! Is it but a world of trouble–Sadness set to song?Is its beauty but a bubbleBound to break ere long? Are its palaces and pleasuresFantasies that fade?And the glories of its treasuresShadow of a shade? Schoolgirls we, […]

In enterprise of martial kind,When there was any fighting,He led his regiment from behind,He found it less exciting.But when away his regiment ran,His place was at the fore, O–That celebrated,Cultivated,UnderratedNobleman,The Duke of Plaza-Toro!In the first and foremost flight, ha, ha!You always found that knight, ha, ha!That celebrated,Cultivated,UnderratedNobleman,The Duke of Plaza-Toro! When, to evade Destruction’s hand,To […]

Dr. Belville was regarded as the Crichton of his age:His tragedies were reckoned much too thoughtful for the stage;His poems held a noble rank, although it’s very trueThat, being very proper, they were read by very few.He was a famous Painter, too, and shone upon the “line,”And even Mr. Ruskin came and worshipped at his […]

Now, Jurymen, hear my advice–All kinds of vulgar prejudiceI 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 I first put this uniform on,I said as I looked in the glass.“It’s one to a millionThat any civilianMy 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 […]

King Goodheart

Story type: Poetry

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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 placeFor all the erring human raceAnd every wretched fellow.When he had Rhenish wine to drinkIt made him very sad to […]

The Tangled Skein

Story type: Poetry

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Try we life long, we can neverStraighten out life’s tangled skein,Why should we, in vain endeavor,Guess and guess and guess again?Life’s a pudding full of plums;Care’s a canker that benumbs.Wherefore waste our elocutionOn 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 […]

Girl Graduates

Story type: Poetry

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They intend to send a wireTo the moon;And they’ll set the Thames on fireVery soon;Then they learn to make silk pursesWith their rigsFrom the ears of Lady Circe’sPiggy-wigs.And weazels at their slumbersThey’ll trepan;To get sunbeams from cu cum bersThey’ve a plan.They’ve a firmly rooted notionThey can cross the Polar Ocean,And they’ll find Perpetual MotionIf they […]

A lady fair, of lineage high,Was loved by an Ape, in the days gone by–The Maid was radiant as the sun,The Ape was a most unsightly one–So it would not do–His scheme fell through;For the Maid, when his love took formal shape,Expressed such terrorAt his monstrous error,That he stammered an apology and made his ‘scape,The […]

Sans Souci

Story type: Poetry

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I cannot tell what this love may beThat cometh to all but not to me.It cannot be kind as they’d imply,Or why do these gentle ladies sigh?It cannot be joy and rapture deep,Or why do these gentle ladies weep?It cannot be blissful, as ’tis said,Or why are their eyes so wondrous red? If love is […]

The British Tar

Story type: Poetry

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A British tar is a soaring soul,As free as a mountain bird,His energetic fist should be ready to resistA dictatorial wordHis nose should pant and his lips should curl,His cheeks should flame and his brow should furl,His bosom should heave and his heart should glow,And his fist be ever ready for a knock-down blow. His […]

A Recipe

Story type: Poetry

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Take a pair of sparkling eyes,Hidden, ever and anon,In a merciful eclipse–Do not heed their mild surprise–Having passed the Rubicon.Take a pair of rosy lips;Take a figure trimly planned–Such as admiration whets(Be particular in this);Take a tender little hand,Fringed with dainty fingerettes,Press it–in parenthesis;–Take all these, you lucky man–Take and keep them, if you can. […]

When I was a lad I served a termAs office boy to an Attorney’s firm.I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor,And I polished up the handle of the big front door.I polished up that handle so successfulleeThat now I am the Ruler of the Queen’s Navee! As office boy I made such a […]

When a merry maiden marries,Sorrow goes and pleasure tarries;Every sound becomes a song,All is right and nothing’s wrong!From to-day and ever afterLet your tears be tears of laughter–Every sigh that finds a ventBe a sigh of sweet content!When you marry merry maiden,Then the air with love is laden;Every flower is a rose,Every goose becomes a […]

On a tree by the river a little tomtitSang “Willow, titwillow, titwillow!”And I said to him, “Dicky-bird, why do you sitSinging ‘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 […]

The law is the true embodimentOf everything that’s excellent.It has no kind of fault or flaw,And I, my lords, embody the Law.The constitutional guardian IOf pretty young Wards in Chancery,All very agreeable girls–and noneAre over the age of twenty-one.A pleasant occupation forA rather susceptible Chancellor! But though the compliment impliedInflates me with legitimate pride,It nevertheless […]

Willow Waly!

Story type: Poetry

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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 fain would discoverIf 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 […]

The Heavy Dragoon

Story type: Poetry

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If you want a receipt for that popular mysteryKnown to the world as a Heavy Dragoon,Take all the remarkable people in history,Rattle them off to a popular tune!The pluck of Lord Nelson on board of the Victory —Genius of Bismarck devising a plan;The humor of Fielding (which sounds contradictory)–Coolness of Paget about to trepan–The grace […]

Only Roses!

Story type: Poetry

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To a garden full of posiesCometh one to gather flowers,And he wanders through its bowersToying with the wanton roses,Who, uprising from their beds,Hold on high their shameless headsWith their pretty lips a-pouting,Never doubting–never doubtingThat for Cytherean posiesHe would gather aught but roses! In a nest of weeds and nettles,Lay a violet, half hidden,Hoping that his […]

As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,I’ve got a little list–I’ve got a little listOf social offenders who might well be underground,And who never would be missed–who never would be missed!There’s the pestilential nuisances who write for autographs–All people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs–All children who are up […]

When a felon’s not engaged in his employmentOr maturing his felonious little plans.His capacity for innocent enjoyment,Is just as great as any honest man’sOur feelings we with difficulty smotherWhen constabulary duty’s to be done:Ah, take one consideration with another,A policeman’s lot is not a happy one! When the enterprising burglar isn’t burgling,When the cut-throat isn’t […]

An Appeal

Story type: Poetry

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Oh, is there not one maiden breastWhich does not feel the moral beautyOf making worldly interestSubordinate to sense of duly?Who would not give up willinglyAll matrimonial ambition,To rescue such a one as IFrom his unfortunate position? Oh, is there not one maiden here,Whose homely face and bad complexionHave caused all hopes to disappearOf ever winning […]

There were three niggers of Chickeraboo–PACIFICO, BANG-BANG, POPCHOP–whoExclaimed, one terribly sultry day,“Oh, let’s be kings in a humble way.” The first was a highly-accomplished “bones,”The next elicited banjo tones,The third was a quiet, retiring chap,Who danced an excellent break-down “flap.” “We niggers,” said they, “have formed a planBy which, whenever we like, we canExtemporise kingdoms […]

Eheu Fugaces–!

Story type: Poetry

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The air is charged with amatory numbers–Soft madrigals, and dreamy lovers’ lays.Peace, peace, old heart! Why waken from its slumbersThe aching memory of the old, old days? Time was when Love and I were well acquainted.Time was when we walked ever hand in hand;A saintly youth, with worldly thought untainted,None better-loved than I in all […]

A tar, but poorly prized,Long, shambling, and unsightly,Thrashed, bullied, and despised,Was wretched JOE GOLIGHTLY. He bore a workhouse brand;No Pa or Ma had claimed him,The Beadle found him, andThe Board of Guardians named him. P’r’aps some Princess’s son–A beggar p’r’aps his mother.HE rather thought the one,I rather think the other. He liked his ship at […]

Roll on, thou ball, roll on!Through pathless realms of SpaceRoll on!What though I’m in a sorry case?What though I cannot meet my bills?What though I suffer toothache’s ills?What though I swallow countless pills?Never YOU mind!Roll on! Roll on, thou ball, roll on!Through seas of inky airRoll on!It’s true I’ve got no shirts to wear;It’s true […]

It was a robber’s daughter, and her name was ALICE BROWN,Her father was the terror of a small Italian town;Her mother was a foolish, weak, but amiable old thing;But it isn’t of her parents that I’m going for to sing. As ALICE was a-sitting at her window-sill one day,A beautiful young gentleman he chanced to […]

If you give me your attention, I will tell you what I am:I’m a genuine philanthropist–all other kinds are sham.Each little fault of temper and each social defectIn my erring fellow creatures, I endeavor to correct.To all their little weaknesses I open people’s eyesAnd little plans to snub the self-sufficient I devise;I love my fellow […]

(To be sung to the Air of “An ‘Orrible Tale.”) Oh list to this incredible taleOf THOMSON GREEN and HARRIET HALE;Its truth in one remark you’ll sum–“Twaddle twaddle twaddle twaddle twaddle twaddle twum!” Oh, THOMSON GREEN was an auctioneer,And made three hundred pounds a year;And HARRIET HALE, most strange to say,Gave pianoforte lessons at a […]

I am the very pattern of a modern Major-Gineral.I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral;I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical,From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;I’m very well acquainted too with matters mathematical,I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news,With many […]

Bob Polter

Story type: Poetry

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BOB POLTER was a navvy, andHis 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 […]

Strike the concertina’s melancholy string!Blow the spirit-stirring harp like anything!Let the piano’s martial blastRouse the Echoes of the Past,For of AGIB, PRINCE OF TARTARY, I sing! Of AGIB, who, amid Tartaric scenes,Wrote a lot of ballet music in his teens:His gentle spirit rollsIn the melody of souls–Which is pretty, but I don’t know what it […]

MACPHAIRSON CLONGLOCKETTY ANGUS McCLANWas the son of an elderly labouring man;You’ve guessed him a Scotchman, shrewd reader, at sight,And p’r’aps altogether, shrewd reader, you’re right. From the bonnie blue Forth to the lovely Deeside,Round by Dingwall and Wrath to the mouth of the Clyde,There wasn’t a child or a woman or manWho could pipe with […]

Peter The Wag

Story type: Poetry

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Policeman PETER forth I dragFrom his obscure retreat:He was a merry genial wag,Who loved a mad conceit.If he were asked the time of day,By country bumpkins green,He not unfrequently would say,“A quarter past thirteen.” If ever you by word of mouthInquired of MISTER FORTHThe way to somewhere in the South,He always sent you North.With little […]

O’er unreclaimed suburban claysSome 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 […]

I once did know a Turkish manWhom I upon a two-pair-back met,His name it was EFFENDI KHANBACKSHEESH PASHA BEN ALLAH ACHMET. A DOCTOR BROWN I also knew–I’ve often eaten of his bounty;The Turk and he they lived at Hooe,In Sussex, that delightful county! I knew a nice young lady there,Her name was EMILY MACPHERSON,And though […]

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 […]

No nobler captain ever trodThan CAPTAIN PARKLEBURY TODD,So good–so wise–so brave, he!But still, as all his friends would own,He had one folly–one alone–This Captain in the Navy. I do not think I ever knewA man so wholly given toCreating a sensation,Or p’raps I should in justice say–To what in an Adelphi playIs known as “situation.” […]

Letters, letters, letters, letters!Some that please and some that bore,Some that threaten prison fetters(Metaphorically, fettersSuch as bind insolvent debtors)–Invitations by the score. One from COGSON, WILES, and RAILER,My attorneys, off the Strand;One from COPPERBLOCK, my tailor–My unreasonable tailor–One in FLAGG’S disgusting hand. One from EPHRAIM and MOSES,Wanting coin without a doubt,I should like to pull […]

An Actor sits in doubtful gloom,His stock-in-trade unfurled,In a damp funereal dressing-roomIn the Theatre Royal, World. He comes to town at Christmas-time,And braves its icy breath,To play in that favourite pantomime,Harlequin Life and Death. A hoary flowing wig his weirdUnearthly cranium caps,He hangs a long benevolent beardOn a pair of empty chaps. To smooth his […]

KING BORRIA BUNGALEE BOOWas 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 […]

To Phoebe

Story type: Poetry

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“Gentle, modest little flower,Sweet epitome of May,Love me but for half an hour,Love me, love me, little fay.”Sentences so fiercely flamingIn your tiny shell-like ear,I should always be exclaimingIf I loved you, PHOEBE dear. “Smiles that thrill from any distanceShed upon me while I sing!Please ecstaticize existence,Love me, oh, thou fairy thing!”Words like these, outpouring […]

I’ve often thought that headstrong youthsOf decent education,Determine all-important truths,With strange precipitation. The ever-ready victims they,Of logical illusions,And in a self-assertive wayThey jump at strange conclusions. Now take my case: Ere sorrow couldMy ample forehead wrinkle,I had determined that I shouldNot care to be a winkle. “A winkle,” I would oft advanceWith readiness provoking,“Can seldom […]

Of all the good attorneys whoHave placed their names upon the roll,But few could equal BAINES CAREWFor tender-heartedness and soul. Whene’er he heard a tale of woeFrom client A or client B,His grief would overcome him soHe’d scarce have strength to take his fee. It laid him up for many days,When duty led him to […]

In all the towns and cities fairOn Merry England’s broad expanse,No swordsman ever could compareWith THOMAS WINTERBOTTOM HANCE. The dauntless lad could fairly hewA 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 […]

The REVEREND MICAH SOWLS,He shouts and yells and howls,He screams, he mouths, he bumps,He foams, he rants, he thumps. His armour he has buckled on, to wageThe regulation war against the Stage;And warns his congregation all to shun“The Presence-Chamber of the Evil One,” The subject’s sad enoughTo make him rant and puff,And fortunately, too,His Bishop’s […]

A GENTLEMAN of City fameNow claims your kind attention;East India broking was his game,His name I shall not mention:No one of finely-pointed senseWould violate a confidence,And shall I goAnd 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 […]

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 […]

Lord B. was a nobleman boldWho came of illustrious stocks,He was thirty or forty years old,And several feet in his socks. To Turniptopville-by-the-SeaThis elegant nobleman went,For that was a borough that heWas anxious to rep-per-re-sent. At local assemblies he dancedUntil he felt thoroughly ill;He waltzed, and he galoped, and lanced,And threaded the mazy quadrille. The […]

Oh! little maid!–(I do not know your nameOr who you are, so, as a safe precautionI’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 […]

I knew a boor–a clownish card(His only friends were pigs and cows andThe poultry of a small farmyard),Who came into two hundred thousand. Good fortune worked no change in BROWN,Though she’s a mighty social chymist;He was a clown–and by a clownI do not mean a pantomimist. It left him quiet, calm, and cool,Though hardly knowing […]

Sir Macklin

Story type: Poetry

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Of all the youths I ever sawNone 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 talkedFrom three to six, or even later. SIR MACKLIN was a priest severeIn […]

‘Twas on the shores that round our coastFrom Deal to Ramsgate span,That I found alone on a piece of stoneAn 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 […]

From east and south the holy clanOf Bishops gathered to a man;To Synod, called Pan-Anglican,In flocking crowds they came.Among them was a Bishop, whoHad lately been appointed toThe 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 […]

(To be sung to the Air of the “Whistling Oyster.”) An elderly person–a prophet by trade–With his quips and tipsOn 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 smilesAnd maidenly wiles,And […]

It was a Bishop bold,And London was his see,He was short and stout and round aboutAnd zealous as could be. It also was a Jew,Who drove a Putney ‘bus–For flesh of swine however fineHe did not care a cuss. His name was HASH BAZ BEN,And JEDEDIAH too,And SOLOMON and ZABULON–This ‘bus-directing Jew. The Bishop said, […]

The Troubadour

Story type: Poetry

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A TROUBADOUR he playedWithout a castle wall,Within, a hapless maidResponded to his call. “Oh, willow, woe is me!Alack and well-a-day!If I were only freeI’d hie me far away!” Unknown her face and name,But this he knew right well,The maiden’s wailing cameFrom out a dungeon cell. A hapless woman layWithin that dungeon grim–That fact, I’ve heard […]

PART I. At a pleasant evening party I had taken down to supperOne 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 […]

Lorenzo De Lardy

Story type: Poetry

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DALILAH DE DARDY adoredThe very correctest of cards,LORENZO DE LARDY, a lord–He was one of Her Majesty’s Guards. DALILAH DE DARDY was fat,DALILAH DE DARDY was old–(No doubt in the world about that)But DALILAH DE DARDY had gold. LORENZO DE LARDY was tall,The flower of maidenly pets,Young ladies would love at his call,But LORENZO DE […]

Oh, that my soul its gods could seeAs years ago they seemed to meWhen first I painted them;Invested with the circumstanceOf old conventional romance:Exploded theorem! The bard who could, all men above,Inflame my soul with songs of love,And, with his verse, inspireThe craven soul who feared to dieWith all the glow of chivalryAnd old heroic […]

Babette’s Love

Story type: Poetry

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BABETTE she was a fisher gal,With jupon striped and cap in crimps.She passed her days inside the Halle,Or catching little nimble shrimps.Yet she was sweet as flowers in May,With no professional bouquet. JACOT was, of the Customs bold,An officer, at gay Boulogne,He loved BABETTE–his love he told,And sighed, “Oh, soyez vous my own!”But “Non!” said […]

Captain Reece

Story type: Poetry

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Of all the ships upon the blue,No ship contained a better crewThan 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 toPromote the comfort of his crew. If ever they were dull or sad,Their captain danced to them like mad,Or […]

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 thereAs unpoetical I!I hear you asking, Why–Why in the world I singThis tawdry, tinselled thing? No […]

General John

Story type: Poetry

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The bravest names for fire and flamesAnd all that mortal durst,Were GENERAL JOHN and PRIVATE JAMES,Of the Sixty-seventy-first. GENERAL JOHN was a soldier tried,A chief of warlike dons;A haughty stride and a withering prideWere MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN’S. A sneer would play on his martial phiz,Superior birth to show;“Pish!” was a favourite word of his,And he often […]

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 eyeCan rarely pry,There shall thy dwelling be! List to me, while I tellThe pleasures of that cell,Oh, little maid!What though its couch be rude,Homely the only foodWithin its shade?No thought […]

John And Freddy

Story type: Poetry

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JOHN courted lovely MARY ANN,So likewise did his brother, FREDDY.FRED was a very soft young man,While JOHN, though quick, was most unsteady. FRED was a graceful kind of youth,But JOHN was very much the strongest.“Oh, dance away,” said she, “in truth,I’ll marry him who dances longest.” JOHN tries the maiden’s taste to strikeWith gay, grotesque, […]

Sir GUY was a doughty crusader,A muscular knight,Ever ready to fight,A very determined invader,And DICKEY DE LION’S delight. LENORE was a Saracen maiden,Brunette, statuesque,The reverse of grotesque,Her pa was a bagman from Aden,Her mother she played in burlesque. A coryphee, pretty and loyal,In amber and redThe ballet she led;Her mother performed at the Royal,LENORE at […]