Bab Ballads and Savoy Songs


E-text prepared by Juliet Sutherland
and the Project Online Distributed Proofreading Team











‘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.”
“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
How you can possibly 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.
“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.
“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.
“And he stirred it round and round and round,
And he sniffed 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 I 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!”


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.
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:
“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.
“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 honor’s leave,” he said,
“If you 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!”


It was a Bishop bold,
And London was his see,
He was short and stout and round about,
And zealous as could be.
It also was a Jew,
Who drove a Putney bus—
For flesh of swine however fine
He 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, said he,
“I’ll see what I can do
To Christianize and make you wise,
You poor benighted Jew.”
“His name is Hash Baz Ben,
And Jedediah too,
And Solomon and Zabulon—
This bus-directing Jew.”
At first the busman smiled,
And rather liked the fun—
He merely smiled, that Hebrew child,
And said, “Eccentric one!”
And gay young dogs would wait
To see the bus go by
(These gay young dogs in striking togs)
To hear the Bishop cry:—
“Observe his grisly beard,
His race it clearly shows,
He sticks no fork in ham or pork:—
Observe, my friends, his nose.
But though at first amused,
Yet after seven years,
This Hebrew child got awful riled,
And busted into tears.
He really almost feared
To leave his poor abode,
His nose, and name, and beard became
A byword on that road.
At length he swore an oath,
The reason he would know—
“I’ll call and see why ever he
Does persecute me so.”
The good old bishop sat
On his ancestral chair,
The busman came, sent up his name,
And laid his grievance bare.
“I’ll ne’er annoy you more.”
“Indeed?” replied the Jew.
“Shall I be freed?” “You will, indeed!”
Then “Done!” said he, “with you!”
The organ which, in man,
Between the eyebrows grows,
Fell from his face, and in its place,
He found a Christian nose.
His tangled Hebrew beard,
Which to his waist came down,
Was now a pair of whiskers fair—
His name, Adolphus Brown.
He wedded in a year,
That prelate’s daughter Jane;
He’s grown quite fair—has auburn hair—
His wife is far from plain.



I knew a boor—a clownish card,
(His only friends were pigs and cows and
The 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 clown
I do not mean a pantomimist.
It left him quiet, calm, and cool,
Though hardly knowing what a crown was—
You can’t imagine what a fool
Poor rich, uneducated Brown was!
He scouted all who wished to come
And give him monetary schooling;
And I propose to give you some
Idea of his insensate fooling.
Their objects were—their only cares—
To justify their Boards in showing
A handsome dividend on shares,
And keep their good promoter going.
But no—the lout prefers his brass,
Though shares at par I freely proffer:
Yes—will it be believed?—the ass
Declines, with thanks, my well-meant offer!
He added, with a bumpkin’s grin,
(A weakly intellect denoting)
He’d rather not invest it in
A company of my promoting!
“You have two hundred ‘thou’ or more,”
Said I. “You’ll waste it, lose it, lend it.
Come, take my furnished second floor,
I’ll gladly show you how to spend it.”
Some blind, suspicious fools rejoice
In doubting friends who wouldn’t harm them;
They will not hear the charmer’s voice,
However wisely he may charm them.
I showed him that his coat, all dust,
Top boots and cords provoked compassion,
And proved that men of station must
Conform to the decrees of fashion.
I showed him where to buy his hat,
To coat him, trouser him, and boot him;
But no—he wouldn’t hear of that—
“He didn’t think the style would suit him!”
I offered him a country seat,
And made no end of an oration;
I made it certainly complete,
And introduced the deputation.
But no—the clown my prospects blights—
(The worth of birth it surely teaches!)
“Why should I want to spend my nights
In Parliament, a-making speeches?
I offered him a trotting horse—
No hack had ever trotted faster—
I also offered him, of course,
A rare and curious “old Master.”
I offered to procure him weeds—
Wines fit for one in his position—
But, though an ass in all his deeds,
He’d learnt the meaning of “commission.”
He called me “thief” the other day,
And daily from his door he thrusts me;
Much more of this, and soon I may
Begin to think that Brown mistrusts me.
So deaf to all sound Reason’s rule
This poor uneducated clown is,
You cannot fancy what a fool
Poor rich uneducated Brown is.


There were three niggers of Chickeraboo—
Pacifico, Bang-Bang, Popchop—who
Exclaimed, 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 plan
By which, whenever we like, we can
Extemporize islands near the beach,
And then we’ll collar an island each.
“Three casks, from somebody else’s stores,
Shall rep-per-esent our island shores,
Their sides the ocean wide shall lave,
Their heads just topping the briny wave.
“If to her skirts you want to cling,
It’s quite sufficient that you’re a king:
She does not push inquiry far
To learn what sort of king you are.”
A ship of several thousand tons,
And mounting seventy-something guns,
Ploughed, every year, the ocean blue,
Discovering kings and countries new.
The brave Rear-Admiral Bailey Pip,
Commanding that superior ship,
Perceived one day, his glasses through,
The kings that came from Chickeraboo.
“Dear eyes!” said Admiral Pip, “I see
Three flourishing islands on our lee.
And, bless me! most extror’nary thing!
On every island stands a king!
The admiral pulled to the islands three;
The kings saluted him graciouslee.
The admiral, pleased at his welcome warm,
Pulled out a printed Alliance form.
“Your Majesty, sign me this, I pray—
I come in a friendly kind of way—
I come, if you please, with the best intents,
And Queen Victoria’s compliments.”
The kings were pleased as they well could be;
The most retiring of all the three,
In a “cellar-flap” to his joy gave vent
With a banjo-bones accompaniment.
The great Rear-Admiral Bailey Pip
Embarked on board his jolly big ship,
Blue Peter flew from his lofty fore,
And off he sailed to his native shore.
The College of Heralds permission yield
That he should quarter upon his shield
Three islands, vert, on a field of blue,
With the pregnant motto “Chickeraboo.”
Ambassadors, yes, and attaches, too,
Are going to sail for Chickeraboo,
And, see, on the good ship’s crowded deck,
A bishop, who’s going out there on spec.
And let us all hope that blissful things
May come of alliance with darkey kings.
Oh, may we never, whatever we do,
Declare a war with Chickeraboo!



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 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.
The Bishop chuckled at the sight,
“This style of dancing would delight
A simple Rum-ti-Foozle-ite.
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, cuts, and pas de basque
(I’ll tell you, if you care to ask,
That Peter was his name).
“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 must striking be,
And must excite remark.”
“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—
‘Twould pain them very much!”