William Schwenck Gilbert

(1836 - 1911 / London / England)

Phrenology - Poem by William Schwenck Gilbert

"COME, collar this bad man -
Around the throat he knotted me
Till I to choke began -
In point of fact, garotted me!"

So spake SIR HERBERT WRITE
To JAMES, Policeman Thirty-two -
All ruffled with his fight
SIR HERBERT was, and dirty too.

Policeman nothing said
(Though he had much to say on it),
But from the bad man's head
He took the cap that lay on it.

"No, great SIR HERBERT WHITE -
Impossible to take him up.
This man is honest quite -
Wherever did you rake him up?

"For Burglars, Thieves, and Co.,
Indeed, I'm no apologist,
But I, some years ago,
Assisted a Phrenologist.

"Observe his various bumps,
His head as I uncover it:
His morals lie in lumps
All round about and over it."

"Now take him," said SIR WHITE,
"Or you will soon be rueing it;
Bless me! I must be right, -
I caught the fellow doing it!"

Policeman calmly smiled,
"Indeed you are mistaken, sir,
You're agitated - riled -
And very badly shaken, sir.

"Sit down, and I'll explain
My system of Phrenology,
A second, please, remain" -
(A second is horology).

Policeman left his beat -
(The Bart., no longer furious,
Sat down upon a seat,
Observing, "This is curious!")

"Oh, surely, here are signs
Should soften your rigidity:
This gentleman combines
Politeness with timidity.

"Of Shyness here's a lump -
A hole for Animosity -
And like my fist his bump
Of Impecuniosity.

"Just here the bump appears
Of Innocent Hilarity,
And just behind his ears
Are Faith, and Hope, and Charity.

He of true Christian ways
As bright example sent us is -
This maxim he obeys,
'SORTE TUA CONTENTUS SIS.'

"There, let him go his ways,
He needs no stern admonishing."
The Bart., in blank amaze,
Exclaimed, "This is astonishing!

"I MUST have made a mull,
This matter I've been blind in it:
Examine, please, MY skull,
And tell me what you find in it."

That Crusher looked, and said,
With unimpaired urbanity,
"SIR HERBERT, you've a head
That teems with inhumanity.

"Here's Murder, Envy, Strife
(Propensity to kill any),
And Lies as large as life,
And heaps of Social Villany.

"Here's Love of Brand-New Clothes,
Embezzling - Arson - Deism -
A taste for Slang and Oaths,
And Fraudulent Trusteeism.

"Here's Love of Groundless Charge -
Here's Malice, too, and Trickery,
Unusually large
Your bump of Pocket-Pickery - "

"Stop!" said the Bart., "my cup
Is full - I'm worse than him in all;
Policeman, take me up -
No doubt I am some criminal!"

That Pleeceman's scorn grew large
(Phrenology had nettled it),
He took that Bart. in charge -
I don't know how they settled it.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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