50 Bab Ballads, vol 1

W.S. Gilbert
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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?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 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.
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