William Schwenck Gilbert ( )


The Bab Ballads. A Discontented Sugar Broker


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 sorrowonly one
   He was extremely bulky.
      A man must be, I beg to state,
      Exceptionally fortunate
            Who owns his chief
            And only grief
   Isbeing very bulky.

This load, hed say, I cannot bear;
   Im nineteen stone or twenty!
Henceforward Ill 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, Ill 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 dancebut 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 increasedno 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 limners art
            If you would know,
            This sketch will show
   How his exertions ended.

              MORAL.

I hate to preachI hate to prate
   Im no fanatic croaker,
But learn contentment from the fate
   Of this East India broker.
      Hed 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.



William Schwenck Gilbert's other poems:
  1. The Modest Couple
  2. The Bab Ballads. Ferdinando and Elvira; or, the Gentle Pieman
  3. The Bab Ballads. The Phantom Curate
  4. The Bab Ballads. The Force of Argument
  5. The Bab Ballads. Gentle Alice Brown


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