William Schwenck Gilbert

(1836 - 1911 / London / England)

The Folly Of Brown - By A General Agent - Poem by William Schwenck Gilbert

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.

I formed a company or two -
(Of course I don't know what the rest meant,
I formed them solely with a view
To help him to a sound investment).

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 sticks to his brass,
Though shares at par I freely proffer:
Yet - will it be believed? - the ass
Declines, with thanks, my well-meant offer!

He adds, with bumpkin's stolid 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."

But will it be believed that he,
With grin upon his face of poppy,
Declined my aid, while thanking me
For what he called my "philanthroppy"?

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 county seat,
And made no end of an oration;
I made it certainty complete,
And introduced the deputation.

But no - the clown my prospect blights -
(The worth of birth it surely teaches!)
"Why should I want to spend my nights
In Parliament, a-making speeches?

"I haven't never been to school -
I ain't had not no eddication -
And I should surely be a fool
To publish that to all the nation!"

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.


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Read poems about / on: thanks, horse, school, birth, change, work, believe, friend, lost



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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