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Title: Mother Goose for Grown-ups
Author: Carryl, Guy Wetmore
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note:

  Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have
  been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_



MOTHER GOOSE FOR GROWN-UPS



  [Illustration: "'WILL YOU TELL ME IF IT'S STRAIGHT?'"]



    MOTHER GOOSE FOR GROWN-UPS

    By GUY WETMORE CARRYL

    With Illustrations by PETER NEWELL and GUSTAVE VERBEEK

    NEW YORK AND LONDON
    HARPER & BROTHERS 1900



    Copyright, 1900, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

    All rights reserved



TO CONSTANCE


    In memory of other days,
    Dear critic, when your whispered praise
        Cheered on the limping pen.
    How short, how sweet those younger hours,
    How bright our suns, how few our showers,
        Alas, we knew not then!

    If but, long leagues across the seas,
    The trivial charm of rhymes like these
        Shall serve to link us twain
    An instant in the olden spell
    That once we knew and loved so well,
        I have not worked in vain!



NOTE


I have pleasure in acknowledging the courteous permission of the editors
to reprint in this form such of the following verses as were originally
published in _Harper's Magazine_, the _Saturday Evening Post_, and the
_London Sketch_.

                                                                G. W. C.



CONTENTS


                                                                PAGE
  THE ADMIRABLE ASSERTIVENESS OF JILTED JACK                       3
  THE BLATANT BRUTALITY OF LITTLE BOW PEEP                         9
  THE COMMENDABLE CASTIGATION OF OLD MOTHER HUBBARD               15
  THE DISCOURAGING DISCOVERY OF LITTLE JACK HORNER                21
  THE EMBARRASSING EPISODE OF LITTLE MISS MUFFET                  27
  THE FEARFUL FINALE OF THE IRASCIBLE MOUSE                       33
  THE GASTRONOMIC GUILE OF SIMPLE SIMON                           39
  THE HARMONIOUS HEEDLESSNESS OF LITTLE BOY BLUE                  47
  THE INEXCUSABLE IMPROBITY OF TOM, THE PIPER'S SON               53
  THE JUDICIOUS JUDGMENT OF QUITE CONTRARY MARY                   59
  THE LINGUISTIC LANGUOR OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS SPRAGUE              65
  THE MYSTERIOUS MISAPPREHENSION CONCERNING A MAN IN OUR TOWN     71
  THE OPPORTUNE OVERTHROW OF HUMPTY DUMPTY                        77
  THE PREPOSTEROUS PERFORMANCE OF AN OLD LADY OF BANBURY          83
  THE QUIXOTIC QUEST OF THREE BLIND MICE                          89
  THE REMARKABLE REGIMEN OF THE SPRAT FAMILY                      95
  THE SINGULAR SANGFROID OF BABY BUNTING                         101
  THE TOUCHING TENDERNESS OF KING KARL THE FIRST                 107
  THE UNUSUAL UBIQUITY OF THE INQUISITIVE GANDER                 113



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                PAGE
  "'WILL YOU TELL ME IF IT'S STRAIGHT?'"                 Frontispiece
  "SHE WAS SO CHARMINGLY WATTEAU-LIKE"                   Facing p. 10
  "NOW SIMON'S TASTES WERE MOST PROFUSE"                   "       40
  "WHILE BY KICKS HE LOOSENED BRICKS"                      "       78
  "SHE PLUCKED HIM WITH RELENTLESS FROWN"                  "      114



THE ADMIRABLE ASSERTIVENESS

OF

JILTED JACK


    A noble and a generous mind
          Was Jack's;
    Folks knew he would not talk behind
          Their backs:
      But when some maiden fresh and young,
      At Jack a bit of banter flung,
      She soon discovered that his tongue
          Was sharp as any ax.

    A flirt of most engaging wiles
          Was Jill;
    On Jack she lavished all her smiles,
          Until
      Her slave (and he was not the first)
      Of lovesick swains became the worst,
      His glance a strong box might have burst,
          His sighs were fit to kill.

    One April morning, clear and fair,
          When both
    Of staying home and idling there
          In sloth
      Were weary, Jack remarked to Jill:
      "Oh, what's the sense in sitting still?
      Let's mount the slope of yonder hill."
          And she was nothing loth.

    But as she answered: "What's the use?"
          The gruff
    Young swain replied: "Oh, there's excuse
          Enough.
      Your doting parents water lack;
      We'll fill a pail and bring it back."
      (The reader will perceive that Jack
          Was putting up a bluff.)

    Thus hand in hand the tempting hill
          They scaled,
    And Jack proposed a kiss to Jill,
          And failed!
      One backward start, one step too bold,
      And down the hill the couple rolled,
      Resembling, if the truth were told,
          A luggage train derailed.

    With eyes ablaze with anger, she
          Exclaimed:
    "Well, who'd have thought! You'd ought to be
          Ashamed!
      You quite forget yourself, it's plain,
      So I'll forget you, too. Insane
      Young man, I'll say _oafweederzane_."
          (Her German might be blamed.)

    But Jack, whose linguist's pride was pricked,
          To shine,
    Asked: "_Meine Königin will nicht_
          Be mine?"
      And when she answered: "Nein" in spleen,
      He cried: "Then in the soup tureen
      You'll stay. You're not the only queen
          Discarded for a nein!"

    THE MORAL'S made for maidens young
          And small:
    If you would in a foreign tongue
            Enthrall,
      Lead off undaunted in a Swede
      Or Spanish speech, and you'll succeed,
      But they who in a German lead
          No favor win at all.



THE BLATANT BRUTALITY

OF

LITTLE BOW PEEP


    Though she was only a shepherdess,
        Tending the meekest of sheep,
    Never was African leopardess
        Crosser than Little Bow Peep:
    Quite apathetic, impassible
        People described her as: "That
    Wayward, contentious, irascible,
        Testy, cantankerous brat!"

    Yet, as she dozed in a grotto-like
        Sort of a kind of a nook,
    She was so charmingly Watteau-like,
        What with her sheep and her crook;
    "She is a dryad or nymph," any
        Casual passer would think.
    Poets pronounced her a symphony,
        All in the palest of pink.

    Thus it was not enigmatical,
        That the young shepherd who first
    Found her asleep, in ecstatical
        Sighs of felicity burst:
    Such was his sudden beatitude
        That, as he gazed at her so,
    Daphnis gave vent to this platitude:
        "My! Ain't she elegant though!"

    Roused from some dream of Arcadia,
        Little Bow Peep with a start
    Answered him: "I ain't afraid o' yer!
        P'raps you imagine you're smart!"
    Daphnis protested impulsively,
        Blushing as red as a rose;
    All was in vain. She convulsively
        Punched the young man in the nose!

    All of it's true, every word of it!
        I was not present to peep,
    But if you ask how I heard of it,
        Please to remember the sheep.
    There is no need of excuse. You will
        See how such scandals occur:
    If you recall Mother Goose, you will
        Know what tail-bearers they were!

    MORAL: This pair irreclaimable
        Might have made Seraphim weep,
    But who can pick the most blamable?
        _Both saw a little beau peep!_



  [Illustration: "SHE WAS SO CHARMINGLY WATTEAU-LIKE"]



THE COMMENDABLE CASTIGATION

OF

OLD MOTHER HUBBARD


    She was one of those creatures
            Whose features
        Are hard beyond any reclaim;
    And she loved in a hovel
            To grovel,
        And she hadn't a cent to her name.
    She owned neither gallants
            Nor talents;
        She borrowed extensively, too,
    From all of her dozens
            Of cousins,
        And never refunded a _sou_:
    Yet all they said in abuse of her
    Was: "She is prouder than Lucifer!"
        (That, I must say, without meaning to blame,
        Is always the way with that kind of a dame!)

    There never was jolli-
            Er colley
        Than Old Mother Hubbard had found,
    Though cheaply she bought him,
            She'd taught him
        To follow her meekly around:
    But though she would lick him
            And kick him,
        It never had any effect;
    He always was howling
            And growling,
        But goodness! What could you expect?
    Colleys were never to flourish meant
    'Less they had plenty of nourishment,
        All that he had were the feathers she'd pluck
        Off an occasional chicken or duck.

    The colley was barred in
            The garden,
        He howled and he wailed and he whined.
    The neighbors indignant,
            Malignant
        Petitions unanimous signed.
    "The nuisance grows nightly,"
            Politely
        They wrote. "It's an odious hound,
    And either you'll fill him,
            Or kill him,
        Or else he must go to the pound.
    For if this howling infernally
    Is to continue nocturnally--
        Pardon us, ma'am, if we seem to be curt--
        Somebody's apt to get horribly hurt!"

    Mother Hubbard cried loudly
            And proudly:
        "Lands sakes! but you give yourselves airs!
    I'll take the law to you
            And sue you."
        The neighbors responded: "Who cares?
    We none of us care if
            The sheriff
        Lock every man jack of us up;
    We won't be repining
            At fining
        So long as we're rid of the pup!"
    They then proceeded to mount a sign,
    Bearing this ominous countersign:
        "FREEMEN! THE MOMENT HAS COME TO PROTEST
        AND OLD MOTHER HUBBARD DELENDUM EST!"

    They marched to her gateway,
            And straightway
        They trampled all over her lawn;
    Most rudely they harried
            And carried
        Her round on a rail until dawn.
    They marred her, and jarred her,
            And tarred her
        And feathered her, just as they should,
    Of speech they bereft her,
            And left her
        With: "_Now_ do you think you'll be good!"

    THE MORAL'S a charmingly pleasing one.
    While we would deprecate teasing one,
    Still, when a dame has politeness rebuffed,
    She certainly ought to be collared and cuffed.



THE DISCOURAGING DISCOVERY

OF

LITTLE JACK HORNER


    A knack almost incredible for dealing with an edible
      Jack Horner's elder sister was acknowledged to display;
    She labored hard and zealously, but always guarded jealously
      The secrets of the dishes she invented every day.
    She'd take some indigestible, unpopular comestible,
      And to its better nature would so tenderly appeal
    That Jack invoked a benison upon a haunch of venison,
      When really she was serving him a little leg of veal!

    Jack said she was a miracle. The word was not satirical,
      For daily climbing upward, she excelled herself at last:
    The acme of facility, the zenith of ability
      Was what she gave her brother for his Christmas Day repast.
    He dined that evening eagerly and anything but meagerly,
      And when he'd had his salad and his quart of Extra Dry,
    With sisterly benignity, and just a touch of dignity,
      She placed upon the table an unutterable pie!

    Unflagging pertinacity, and technical sagacity,
      Long nights of sleepless vigil, and long days of constant care
    Had been involved in making it, improving it, and baking it,
      Until of other pies it was the wonder and despair:
    So princely and so prominent, so solemn, so predominant
      It looked upon the table, that, with fascinated eye,
    The youth, with sudden wonder struck, electrified, and thunder struck,
      Could only stammer stupidly: "Oh Golly! What a pie!"

    In view of his satiety, it almost seemed impiety
      To carve this crowning triumph of a culinary life,
    But, braced by his avidity, with sudden intrepidity
      He broke its dome imposing with a common kitchen knife.
    Ah, hideous fatality! for when with eager palate he
      Commenced to eat, he happened on an accident uncouth,
    And cried with stifled moan: "Of it one plum I tried. The stone of it
      Had never been extracted, and I've broke a wisdom tooth!"

    Jack's sister wept effusively, but loudly and abusively
      His unreserved opinion of her talents he proclaimed;
    He called her names like "driveller" and "simpleton" and "sniveller,"
      And others, which to mention I am really too ashamed.
    THE MORAL: It is saddening, embarrassing, and maddening
      A stone to strike in what you thought was paste. One thing alone
    Than this mischance is crueller, and that is for a jeweller
      To strike but paste in what he fondly thought to be a stone.



THE EMBARRASSING EPISODE

OF

LITTLE MISS MUFFET


    Little Miss Muffet discovered a tuffet,
      (Which never occurred to the rest of us)
    And, as 'twas a June day, and just about noonday,
      She wanted to eat--like the best of us:
    Her diet was whey, and I hasten to say
      It is wholesome and people grow fat on it.
    The spot being lonely, the lady not only
      Discovered the tuffet, but sat on it.

    A rivulet gabbled beside her and babbled,
      As rivulets always are thought to do,
    And dragon-flies sported around and cavorted,
      As poets say dragon-flies ought to do;
    When, glancing aside for a moment, she spied
      A horrible sight that brought fear to her,
    A hideous spider was sitting beside her
      And most unavoidably near to her!

    Albeit unsightly, this creature politely
      Said: "Madam, I earnestly vow to you,
    I'm penitent that I did not bring my hat. I
      Should otherwise certainly bow to you."
    Though anxious to please, he was so ill at ease
      That he lost all his sense of propriety,
    And grew so inept that he clumsily stept
      In her plate--which is barred in Society.

    This curious error completed her terror;
      She shuddered, and growing much paler, not
    Only left tuffet, but dealt him a buffet
      Which doubled him up in a sailor-knot.
    It should be explained that at this he was pained:
      He cried: "I have vexed you, no doubt of it!
    Your fist's like a truncheon." "You're still in my luncheon,"
      Was all that she answered. "Get out of it!"

    And THE MORAL is this: Be it madam or miss
      To whom you have something to say,
    You are only absurd when you get in the curd
      But you're rude when you get in the whey.



THE FEARFUL FINALE

OF THE

IRASCIBLE MOUSE


    Upon a stairway built of brick
      A pleasant-featured clock
    From time to time would murmur "Tick"
      And vary it with "Tock":
    Although no great intelligence
      There lay in either word,
    They were not meant to give offence
      To anyone who heard.

    Within the pantry of the house,
      Among some piles of cheese,
    There dwelt an irritable mouse,
      Extremely hard to please:
    His appetite was most immense.
      Each day he ate a wedge
    Of Stilton cheese. In consequence
      His nerves were all on edge.

    With ill-concealed impatience he,
      Upon his morning walk,
    Had heard the clock unceasingly,
      Monotonously talk,
    Until his rage burst every bound.
      He gave a fretful shout:
    "Well, sakes alive! It's time I found
      What all this talk's about."

    With all the admirable skill
      That marks the rodent race
    The mouse ran up the clock, until
      He'd crept behind the face,
    And then, with words that no one ought
      To use, and scornful squeals,
    He cried aloud: "Just what I thought!
      Great oaf, you're full of wheels!"

    The timepiece sternly said: "Have done!"
      And through the silent house
    It struck emphatically one.
      (But that one was the mouse!)
    To earth the prowling rodent fell,
      In terror for his life,
    And turned to flee, but, sad to tell,
      There stood the farmer's wife.

    She did not faint, she did not quail,
      She did not cry out: "Scat!"
    She simply took him by the tail
      And gave him to the cat,
    And, with a stern, triumphant look,
      She watched him clawed and cleft,
    And with some blotting paper took
      Up all that there was left.

    THE MORAL: In a farmer's home
      Run down his herds, his flocks,
    Run down his crops, run down his loam,
      But when it comes to clocks,
    Pray leave them ticking every one
      In peace upon their shelves:
    When running down is to be done
      The clocks run down themselves.



THE GASTRONOMIC GUILE

OF

SIMPLE SIMON


          Conveniently near to where
              Young Simple Simon dwelt
          There was to be a county fair,
              And Simple Simon felt
          That to the fair he ought to go
          In all his Sunday clothes, and so,
          Determined to behold the show,
              He put them on and went.
    (One-half his clothes was borrowed and the other half was lent.)

          He heard afar the cheerful sound
              Of horns that people blew,
          Saw wooden horses swing around
              A circle, two and two,
           Beheld balloons arise, and if
          He scented with a gentle sniff
          The smells of pies, what is the dif-
              Ference to me or you?
    (You cannot say my verse is false, because I know it's true.)

          As Simple Simon nearer came
              To these attractive smells,
          Avoiding every little game
              Men played with walnut shells,
          He felt a sudden longing rise.
          The sparkle in his eager eyes
          Betrayed the fact he yearned for pies:
              The eye the secret tells.
    ('Tis known the pie of county fairs all other pies excels.)

          So when he saw upon the road,
              Some fifty feet away,
          A pieman, Simple Simon strode
              Toward him, shouting: "Hey!
           What kinds?" as lordly as a prince.
          The pieman said: "I've pumpkin, quince,
          Blueberry, lemon, peach, and mince:"
              And, showing his array,
    He added: "Won't you try one, sir? They're very nice to-day."

          Now Simon's taste was most profuse,
              And so, by way of start,
          He ate two cakes, a Charlotte Russe,
              Six buns, the better part
          Of one big gingerbread, a pair
          Of lady-fingers, an eclair,
          And ten assorted pies, and there,
              His hand upon his heart,
    He paused to choose between an apple dumpling and a tart.

          Observing that upon his tray
              His goods were growing few,
          The pieman cried: "I beg to say
              That patrons such as you
           One does not meet in many a moon.
          Pray, won't you try this macaroon?"
          But soon suspicious, changed his tune,
              Continuing: "What is due
    I beg respectfully to add's a dollar twenty-two."

          Then Simple Simon put a curb
              Upon his appetite,
          And turning with an air superb
              He suddenly took flight,
          While o'er his shoulder this absurd
          And really most offensive word
          The trusting pieman shortly heard
              To soothe his bitter plight:
    "Perhaps I should have said before your wares are out of sight."

          THE MORAL is a simple one,
              But still of consequence.
          We've seen that Simon's sense of fun
              Was almost too intense:
           Though blaming his deceitful guise,
          We with the pieman sympathize,
          The latter we must criticize
              Because he was so dense:
    He might have known from what he ate that Simon had no cents.



  [Illustration: "NOW SIMON'S TASTES WERE MOST PROFUSE"]



THE HARMONIOUS HEEDLESSNESS

OF

LITTLE BOY BLUE


    Composing scales beside the rails
        That flanked a field of corn,
    A farmer's boy with vicious joy
        Performed upon a horn:
    The vagrant airs, the fragrant airs
        Around that field that strayed,
    Took flight before the flagrant airs
        That noisome urchin played.

    He played with care "The Maiden's Prayer;"
        He played "God Save the Queen,"
    "Die Wacht am Rhein," and "Auld Lang Syne,"
        And "Wearing of the Green:"
    With futile toots, and brutal toots,
        And shrill chromatic scales,
    And utterly inutile toots,
        And agonizing wails.

    The while he played, around him strayed,
        And calmly chewed the cud,
    Some thirty-nine assorted kine,
        All ankle-deep in mud:
    They stamped about and tramped about
        That mud, till all the troupe
    Made noises, as they ramped about,
        Like school-boys eating soup.

    Till, growing bored, with one accord
        They broke the fence forlorn:
    The field was doomed. The cows consumed
        Two-thirds of all the corn,
    And viciously, maliciously,
        Went prancing o'er the loam.
    That landscape expeditiously
        Resembled harvest-home.

    "Most idle ass of all your class,"
        The farmer said with scorn:
    "Just see my son, what you have done!
        The cows are in the corn!"
    "Oh drat," he said, "the brat!" he said.
        The cowherd seemed to rouse.
    "My friend, it's worse than that," he said.
        "The corn is in the cows."

    THE MORAL lies before our eyes.
        When tending kine and corn,
    Don't spend your noons in tooting tunes
        Upon a blatant horn:
    Or scaling, and assailing, and
        With energy immense,
    Your cows will take a railing, and
        The farmer take offense.



THE INEXCUSABLE IMPROBITY

OF

TOM, THE PIPER'S SON


    A Paris butcher kept a shop
        Upon the river's bank
    Where you could buy a mutton chop
        Or two for half a franc.
    The little shop was spruce and neat,
    In view of all who trod the street
    The decorated joints of meat
        Were hung up in a rank.

    This Gallic butcher led a life
        Of highly moral tone;
    He never raised his voice in strife,
        He never drank alone:
    He simply sat outside his door
    And slept from eight o'clock till four;
    The more he slept, so much the more
        To slumber he was prone.

    One day outside his shop he put
        A pig he meant to stuff,
    And carefully around each foot
        He pinned a paper ruff,
    But, while a watch he should have kept,
    His habit conquered, and he slept,
    And for a thief who was adept
        That surely was enough.

    A Scottish piper dwelt near by,
        Whose one ungracious son
    Beheld that pig and murmured: "Why,
        No sooner said than done!
    It seems to me that this I need."
    And grasping it, with all his speed
    Across the Pont des Invalides
        He started on a run.

    Then, turning sharply to the right,
        Without a thought of risk,
    He fled. 'Tis fair to call his flight
        Inordinately brisk.
    But now the town was all astir,
    In vain his feet he strove to spur,
    They caught him, shouting: "Au voleur!"
        Beside the Obelisk.

    The breathless butcher cried: "A mort!"
        The crowd said: "Conspuez!"
    And some: "A bas!" and half a score
        Responded: "Vive l'armée!"
    While grim gendarmes with piercing eye,
    And stern remarks about: "Canaille!"
    The pig abstracted on the sly.
        Such is the Gallic way!

    The piper's offspring, his defeat
        Deep-rooted in his heart,
    A revolutionary sheet
        Proceeded then to start.
    Thenceforward every evening he
    In leaders scathed the Ministry,
    And wished he could accomplish the
        Return of Bonaparte.

    THE MORAL is that when the press
        Begins to rave and shout
    It's often difficult to guess
        What it is all about.
    The editor we strive to pin,
    But we can never find him in.
    What startling knowledge we should win
        If we could find him out!



THE JUDICIOUS JUDGMENT

OF

QUITE CONTRARY MARY


    Though Mary had the kind of face
        The rudest wind would softly blow on;
    Though she was full of simple grace,
        Sweet, amiable, and kind, and so on;
    I would not have you understand
        That she was meek. You'd be mistaken.
    She worked out logarithms, and
        Her favorite essayist was Bacon.

    And, though not positive, I think
        She'd heard about Savonarola,
    Had studied Maurice Maeterlinck,
        And read the works of Emile Zola,
    And Emerson's and some of Kant's,
        And all of mine and Shopenhauer's;
    But still she cultivated plants,
        And spent her life in tending flowers.

    She had a little hedge of box,
        Azalias, and a bed of tansy,
    A double row of hollyhocks,
        And every different kind of pansy:
    And, though so innocent of look,
        She'd lovers by the scores and dozens,
    And learned, by talking with the cook,
        To tell her friends they were her cousins.

    The first was French, the second Greek,
        The third was born upon the Mersey,
    The fourth one came from Mozambique,
        The fifth one from the Isle of Jersey.
    I cannot tell about the rest,
        But, judging from their dress and faces,
    They came from north, east, south, and west,
        But all of them from different places.

    Now, such was Mary's sense of pride,
        Despite their fervent protestations,
    Before she vowed to be a bride
        She set them all examinations:
    She asked each one to tell the date
        Of Washington and Cleopatra,
    Name Dickens' novels, and locate
        The site of Yonkers and Sumatra.

    But so it chanced that, from a score
        Of suitors resolute and haughty,
    One gained a mark of sixty-four,
        And all the rest were under forty.
    One swain alone the rest outclassed;
        Because of one audacious guess, he
    This strict examination passed
        When Mary asked the date of Crécy.

    THE MORAL shows that when a maid
        Her life devotes unto a garden,
    When horticultural skill's displayed
        Her heart she does not dare to harden.
    So crafty suitors, scorn the fates
        And you may lay this flattering balm to
    Your souls; if you but get your dates
        The chances are you'll get the palm, too!



THE LINGUISTIC LANGUOR

OF

CHARLES AUGUSTUS SPRAGUE


    A child of nature curious
        Was Charles Augustus Sprague;
    He made his parents furious
        Because he was so vague:
    Although his age was nearly two
    Eleven words were all he knew,
    These sounded much as sounds the Dutch
        That's spoken at The Hague.

    A few of his errata
        'Tis just I should avow,
    He called his mother "Tata,"
        And "moo" he dubbed a cow,
    Nor was it altogether plain
    Why "choo-choo" meant a railway train.
    He called a cat "miouw," and that
        No purist would allow.

    Within his father's orchard
        There stood, for all to see,
    With branches bent and tortured,
        An ancient apple tree:
    That Charles Augustus Sprague might drowse
    His mother on its swaying boughs
    His cradle hung, and, while it swung,
        She sang with energy.

    A sudden blow arising
        One day, the branches broke,
    With suddenness surprising
        The sleeping babe awoke,
    And crashing down to earth he fell.
    Ah me, that I should have to tell
    The words that mild and genial child
        On this occasion spoke!

    His face convulsed and chequered
        With passion and with tears,
    He blotted out the record
        Of both his speechless years:
    His mother stupefied, aghast,
    Heard Charles Augustus speak at last;
    He opened wide his mouth and cried
        These ill conditioned sneers.

    "Sapristi! Accidente!
        Perchance my speech is late,
    But, be she two or twenty,
        A nincompoop I hate!
    What idiot said that woman's 'planned
    To warn, to comfort, and command?'"
    His words I quench. Excuse my French--
        Je dis que tu m'embêtes!

    THE MORAL: Common clocks, we find,
    In silence take a sudden wind,
    But only heroes, as we know,
    In silence take a sudden blow.



THE MYSTERIOUS MISAPPREHENSION

CONCERNING

A MAN IN OUR TOWN


    There was a man in our town,
      Half beggar, half rapscallion,
    Who, just because his eyes were brown,
      Was thought to be Italian:
    And, though with much insistence
      He said that people erred,
    And bitterly to Italy
      He frequently referred,
        The false report, as is the way
        Of false reports, had come to stay!

    So every one who'd been to Rome
      By aid of Cook's or Gaze's,
    Would call upon him at his home
      To flaunt Italian phrases.
    "Capite Questa lingua?"
    The inquiry would be:
    "Pochissimo? Benissimo!
      Vi prego, ditemi,
        Siete voi contento qua,
        Lontano dall'Italia?"

    The victim, plunged in deep disgust,
      Grew nervous, could not slumber;
    Said he, "I'm called Italian, just
      Because my eyes are umber,
    And if this persecution
      Is ever to be stopped,
    Some stern and stoic, hard, heroic
      Course I must adopt!"
        And so, to everyone's surprise,
        He calmly scratched out both his eyes!

    The neighbors said: "So strange a thing
      Might seem to be an omen.
    We _thought_ his wits were wandering,
      But now we _know_ they're Roman!"
    And so at him by legions,
      By bevies, hosts, and herds,
    Professors, purists, tramps, and tourists
      Screamed Italian words.
        Perceiving all he'd done was vain,
        He scratched his eyesight in again.

    THE MORAL: If your neighbors say
      You're one thing or another,
    You'll find there isn't any way
      Their prejudice to smother.
    What matter if they think you
      From Italy or Greece?
    I beg you, treasure no displeasure:
      Bow and hold your peace.
        Like Omar, underneath the bow
        You'll find there's paradise enow!



THE OPPORTUNE OVERTHROW

OF

HUMPTY DUMPTY


    Upon a wall of medium height
        Bombastically sat
    A boastful boy, and he was quite
        Unreasonably fat:
    And what aroused a most intense
        Disgust in passers-by
    Was his abnormal impudence
        In hailing them with "Hi!"
    While by his kicks he loosened bricks
        The girls to terrify.

    When thus for half an hour or more
        He'd played his idle tricks,
    And wounded something like a score
        Of people with the bricks,
    A man who kept a fuel shop
        Across from where he sat
    Remarked: "Well, this has got to stop."
        Then, snatching up his hat,
    And sallying out, began to shout:
        "Look here! Come down from that!"

    The boastful boy to laugh began,
        As laughs a vapid clown,
    And cried: "It takes a bigger man
        Than you to call me down!
    This wall is smooth, this wall is high,
        And safe from every one.
    No acrobat could do what I
        Had been and gone and done!"
    Though this reviled, the other smiled,
        And said: "Just wait, my son!"

    Then to the interested throng
        That watched across the way
    He showed with smiling face a long
        And slender Henry Clay,
    Remarking: "In upon my shelves
        All kinds of coal there are.
    Step in, my friends, and help yourselves.
        And he who first can jar
    That wretched urchin off his perch
        Will get this good cigar."

    The throng this task did not disdain,
        But threw with heart and soul,
    Till round the youth there raged a rain
        Of lumps of cannel-coal.
    He dodged for all that he was worth,
        Till one bombarder deft
    Triumphant brought him down to earth,
        Of vanity bereft.
    "I see," said he, "that this is the
        Coal day when I get left."

    THE MORAL is that fuel can
        Become the tool of fate
    When thrown upon a little man,
        Instead of on a grate.
    This story proves that when a brat
        Imagines he's admired,
    And acts in such a fashion that
        He makes his neighbors tired,
    That little fool, who's much too cool;
        Gets warmed when coal is fired.



  [Illustration: "WHILE BY KICKS HE LOOSENED BRICKS"]



THE PREPOSTEROUS PERFORMANCE

OF

AN OLD LADY OF BANBURY


    Within a little attic a retiring, but erratic
      Old lady (six-and-eighty, to be frank),
    Made sauces out of cranberry for all the town
                of Banbury,
      Depositing the proceeds in the bank.
    Her tendency to thriftiness, her scorn of any
                shiftiness
      Built a bustling business, and in course
    Of time her secret yearnings were revealed,
                and all her earnings
      She squandered in the purchase of a horse.

    "I am not in a hurry for a waggonette or
                surrey,"
      She said. "In fact, I much prefer to ride."
    And spite of all premonishment, to everyone's
                astonishment,
      The gay old lady did so--and astride!
    Now this was most periculous, but, what was
                more ridiculous,
      The horse she bought had pulled a car,
                and so,
    The lazy steed to cheer up, she'd a bell upon
                her stirrup,
      And rang it twice to make the creature go!

    I blush the truth to utter, but it seems a
                pound of butter
      And thirty eggs she had to sell. Of course,
    In scorn of ways pedestrian, this fatuous
                equestrian
      To market gaily started on the horse.
    Becoming too importunate to hasten, the un-
                fortunate
      Old lady plied her charger with a birch.
    In view of all her cronies, this stupidest of
                ponies
      Fell flat before the Presbyterian church!

    If it should chance that one set a red Italian
                sunset
      Beside a Beardsley poster, and a plaid
    Like any canny Highlander's beside a Fiji
                Islander's
      Most variegated costume, and should add
    A Turner composition, and with clever intuition,
      To cap the climax, pile upon them all
    The aurora borealis, then veracity, not malice,
      Might claim a close resemblance to her fall.

    At sight of her disaster, with arnica and plaster
      The neighbors ran up eagerly to aid.
    They cried: "Don't do that offen, ma'am, or
                you will need a coffin, ma'am,
      You've hurt your solar plexus, we're afraid.
    We hope your martyrdom'll let you notice
                what an omelette
      You've made in half a jiffy. It is great!"
    She only clutched her bonnet (she had fallen
                flat upon it),
      And answered: "Will you tell me if it's
                straight?"

    THE MORAL'S rather curious: for often the
                penurious
      Are apt to think old horses of account
    If you would ride, then seek fine examples of
                the equine,
      And don't look on a molehill as a mount.



THE QUIXOTIC QUEST

OF

THREE BLIND MICE


    A maiden mouse of an arrogant mind
    Had three little swains and all were blind.
    The reason for this I do not know,
    But I think it was love that made them so,
    For without demur they bowed to her,
    Though she treated them all with a high hauteur.
    She ruled them, schooled them, frequently fooled them,
    Snubbed, tormented, and ridiculed them:
    Mice as a rule are much like men,
    So they swallowed their pride and called again.

    The maiden mouse of an arrogant mind
    To morbid romance was much inclined.
    The reason for this I have not learned,
    But I think by novels her head was turned.
    She said that the chap who dared to nap
    One hour inside of the farmer's trap
    Might gain her, reign her, wholly enchain her,
    Woo her, win her, and thence retain her!
    Hope ran high in each suitor's breast,
    And all determined to stand the test.

    The maiden mouse of an arrogant mind
    Laughed when she saw them thus confined.
    The reason for this I can't proclaim,
    But I know some girls who'd have done the same!
    As thus they kept to their word, and slept,
    The farmer's wife to the pantry stept:
    She sought them, caught them, carefully brought them
    Out to the light, and there she taught them
    How that chivalry often fails,
    By calmly cutting off all their tails!

    The maiden mouse of an arrogant mind
    Treated her swains in a way unkind.
    The reason for this is not complex:
    That's always the way with the tender sex.
    With impudent hails she cried: "What ails
    You all, and where are your splendid tails?"
    She jeered so, sneered so, flouted and fleered so,
    Giggled, and altogether appeared so
    Lacking in heart, that her slaves grew bored,
    And threw up the sponge of their own accord.

    The maiden mouse of an arrogant mind
    Watched and waited, and peaked and pined.
    The reason for this, I beg to state,
    Is all summed up in the words TOO LATE!
    THE MORAL intwined is: Love is blind,
    But he never leaves all his wits behind:
    You may beat him, cheat him, often defeat him,
    Though he be true with torture treat him:
    One of these days you'll be bereft,
    You think you're right, but you'll find you're left.



THE REMARKABLE REGIMEN

OF

THE SPRAT FAMILY


    The Sprats were four in number,
        Including twins in kilts:
    All day Jack carted lumber,
        All day his wife made quilts.
    Thus heartlessly neglected
        Twelve hours in twenty-four,
    As might have been expected,
        The twins sat on the floor:
    And all the buttons, I should state,
    They chanced to find, they promptly ate.
        This was not meat, but still it's true
        We did the same when we were two.

    The wife (whose name was Julia)
        Maintained an ample board,
    But one thing was peculiar,
        Lean meat she quite abhorred.
    Here also should be stated
        Another fact: 'tis that
    Her spouse abominated
        The very taste of fat.
    This contrast curious of taste
    Precluded any thought of waste,
        For all they left of any meal
        No self-respecting dog would steal.

    No generous _table d'hôte_ meal,
        No dainties packed in tins,
    But only bowls of oatmeal
        They gave the wretched twins;
    And yet like princes pampered
        Had lived those babes accursed,
    Could they have fed unhampered:--
        I have not told the worst!
    Since nothing from the dining-room
    Was left to feed the cook and groom,
        It seems that these domestics cruel
        Were led to steal the children's gruel!

    The twins, all hopes resigning,
        And wounded to the core,
    Confined themselves to dining
        On buttons off the floor.
    No passionate resentment
        The docile babes displayed:
    Each day in calm contentment
        Three hearty meals they made.
    And daily Jack and Mrs. Sprat
    Ate all the lean and all the fat,
        And every day the groom and cook
        The children's meal contrived to hook.

    But when the twins grew older,
        As twins are apt to do,
    And, shoulder touching shoulder,
        Sat Sundays in their pew.
    They saw no Christian glory
        In parting with a dime,
    And in the offertory
        Dropped buttons every time.
    Said they: "What's good enough for Sprats
    Is good enough for heathen brats."
        (I most sincerely wish I knew
        What was the heathen's point of view.)

    THE MORAL: Anecdotes abound
    Of buttons in collections found.
    Thus on the wheels of progress go,
    And heathens reap what Christians sew!



THE SINGULAR SANGFROID

OF

BABY BUNTING


    Bartholomew Benjamin Bunting
      Had only three passions in life,
    And one of the trio was hunting,
      The others his babe and his wife:
    And always, so rigid his habits,
      He frolicked at home until two,
    And then started hunting for rabbits,
      And hunted till fall of the dew.

    Belinda Bellonia Bunting,
      Thus widowed for half of the day,
    Her duty maternal confronting,
      With baby would patiently play.
    When thus was her energy wasted
      A patented food she'd dispense.
    (She had bought it the day that they pasted
      The posters all over her fence.)

    But Bonaparte Buckingham Bunting,
      The infant thus blindly adored,
    Replied to her worship by grunting,
      Which showed he was brutally bored.
    'Twas little he cared for the troubles
      Of life. Like a crab on the sands,
    From his sweet little mouth he blew bubbles,
      And threatened the air with his hands.

    Bartholomew Benjamin Bunting
      One night, as his wife let him in,
    Produced as the fruit of his hunting
      A cottontail's velvety skin,
    Which, seeing young Bonaparte wriggle,
      He gave him without a demur,
    And the babe with an aqueous giggle
      He swallowed the whole of the fur!

    Belinda Bellonia Bunting
      Behaved like a consummate loon:
    Her offspring in frenzy confronting
      She screamed herself mottled maroon:
    She felt of his vertebræ spinal,
      Expecting he'd surely succumb,
    And gave him one vigorous, final,
      Hard prod in the pit of his tum.

    But Bonaparte Buckingham Bunting,
      At first but a trifle perplexed,
    By a change in his manner of grunting
      Soon showed he was terribly vexed.
    He displayed not a sign of repentance
      But spoke, in a dignified tone,
    The only consecutive sentence
      He uttered. 'Twas: "Lemme alone."

    THE MORAL: The parent that uses
      Precaution his folly regrets:
    An infant gets all that he chooses,
      An infant chews all that he gets.
    And colics? He constantly has 'em
      So long as his food is the best,
    But he'll swallow with never a spasm
      What ostriches couldn't digest!



THE TOUCHING TENDERNESS

OF

KING KARL THE FIRST


    For hunger and thirst King Karl the First
      Had a stoical, stern disdain:
    The food that he ordered consistently bordered
      On what is described as plain.
    Much trouble his cook ambitiously took
      To tickle his frugal taste,
    But all of his savoury science and slavery
      Ended in naught but waste.

    Said the steward: "The thing to tempt the King
      And charm his indifferent eye
    No doubt is a tasty, delectable pasty.
      Make him a blackbird pie!"
    The cook at these words baked twenty-four birds,
      And set them before the King,
    And the two dozen odious, bold, and melodious
      Singers began to sing.

    The King in surprise said: "Dozens of pies
      In the course of our life we've tried,
    But never before us was served up a chorus
      Like this that we hear inside!"
    With a thunderous look he ordered the cook
      And the steward before him brought,
    And with a beatified smile: "He is satisfied!"
      Both of these innocents thought.

    "Of sinners the worst," said Karl the First,
      "Is the barbarous ruffian that
    A song-bird would slaughter, unless for his daughter
      Or wife he is trimming a hat.
    We'll punish you so for the future you'll know
      That from mercy you can't depart.
    Observe that your lenient, kind, intervenient
      King has a tender heart!"

    He saw that the cook in a neighboring brook
      Was drowned (as he quite deserved),
    And he ordered the steward at once to be skewered.
      (The steward was much unnerved.)
    "It's a curious thing," said the merciful King,
      "That monarchs so tender are,
    So oft we're affected that we have suspected that
      We are too kind by far."

    THE MORAL: The mercy of men and of Kings
    Are apt to be wholly dissimilar things.
    In spite of "The Merchant of Venice," we're pained
    To note that the quality's sometimes strained.



  [Illustration: "SHE PLUCKED HIM WITH RELENTLESS FROWN"]



THE UNUSUAL UBIQUITY

OF

THE INQUISITIVE GANDER


    A gander dwelt upon a farm
      And no one could resist him,
    For had he died, such was his charm,
      His neighbors would have missed him:
    His scorn for any loud display,
    His cheerful hissing day by day,
    Would win your heart in such a way
      You almost could have kissed him.

    This bird was always nosing 'round.
      Most patiently he waited
    Until an open door he found,
      And then investigated.
    He loved to poke, he loved to peek,
    In every knothole, so to speak,
    He quickly thrust his prying beak,
      For what was hid he hated.

    The farm exhausted: "Now," said he:
      "My policy's expansion.
    When one's convinced how things should be
      The proper course he can't shun.
    His mind made up, he followed it,
    Relying on his native wit,
    And soon had wandered, bit by bit,
      Through all his master's mansion.

    "At least," he said: "It's not my fault
      If everything's not seen to:
    I've gone from garret down to vault,
      And glanced into the lean-to.
    In every room I've chanced to stop;
    A supervising glance to drop,
    I've looked below, I've looked on top,
      Behind, and in between, too!"

    One thing alone he found to blame,
      As thus his time he squandered,
    For, seeing not the farmer's dame,
      Into her room he wandered,
    And mounting nimbly on the bed:
    "Why, bless my careful soul!" he said:
    "These pillows are as hard as lead.
      Now, how comes that?" he pondered.

    The farmer's dame for half an hour
      Had watched the bird meander,
    And finding him within her power,
      She leaped upon the gander.
    "Why, how de do, my gander coy?"
    She shouted: "What will be my joy
    To dream to-night on you, my boy!"
      (This was no baseless slander.)

    For with a stoutish piece of string
      Securely was this fool tied,
    And by a leg and by a wing
      Unto an oaken stool tied:
    While, pinning towels around her gown,
    She plucked him with relentless frown,
    And stuffed the pillows with his down,
      And roasted him for Yuletide.

    THE MORAL is: When you explore
      Don't try to be superior:
    Be cautious, and retire before
      Your safety grows inferior.
    'Tis best to stay upon the coast,
    Or some day you will be like most
    Of all that bold exploring host
      That's gone to the interior.


THE END





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