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The Precocious Baby - A Very True Tale - Poem by William Schwenck Gilbert

An elderly person - a prophet by trade -
With his quips and tips
On withered old lips,
He married a young and a beautiful maid;
The cunning old blade!
Though rather decayed,
He married a beautiful, beautiful maid.

She was only eighteen, and as fair as could be,
With her tempting smiles
And maidenly wiles,
And he was a trifle past seventy-three:
Now what she could see
Is a puzzle to me,
In a prophet of seventy - seventy-three!

Of all their acquaintances bidden (or bad)
With their loud high jinks
And underbred winks,
None thought they'd a family have - but they had;
A dear little lad
Who drove 'em half mad,
For he turned out a horribly fast little cad.

For when he was born he astonished all by,
With their "Law, dear me!"
"Did ever you see?"
He'd a pipe in his mouth and a glass in his eye,
A hat all awry -
An octagon tie -
And a miniature - miniature glass in his eye.

He grumbled at wearing a frock and a cap,
With his "Oh, dear, oh!"
And his "Hang it! 'oo know!"
And he turned up his nose at his excellent pap -
"My friends, it's a tap
Dat is not worf a rap."
(Now this was remarkably excellent pap.)

He'd chuck his nurse under the chin, and he'd say,
With his "Fal, lal, lal" -
"'Oo doosed fine gal!"
This shocking precocity drove 'em away:
"A month from to-day
Is as long as I'll stay -
Then I'd wish, if you please, for to toddle away."

His father, a simple old gentleman, he
With nursery rhyme
And "Once on a time,"
Would tell him the story of "Little Bo-P,"
"So pretty was she,
So pretty and wee,
As pretty, as pretty, as pretty could be."

But the babe, with a dig that would startle an ox,
With his "C'ck! Oh, my! -
Go along wiz 'oo, fie!"
Would exclaim, "I'm afraid 'oo a socking ole fox."
Now a father it shocks,
And it whitens his locks,
When his little babe calls him a shocking old fox.

The name of his father he'd couple and pair
(With his ill-bred laugh,
And insolent chaff)
With those of the nursery heroines rare -
Virginia the Fair,
Or Good Goldenhair,
Till the nuisance was more than a prophet could bear.

"There's Jill and White Cat" (said the bold little brat,
With his loud, "Ha, ha!")
"'Oo sly ickle Pa!
Wiz 'oo Beauty, Bo-Peep, and 'oo Mrs. Jack Sprat!
I've noticed 'oo pat
MY pretty White Cat -
I sink dear mamma ought to know about dat!"

He early determined to marry and wive,
For better or worse
With his elderly nurse -
Which the poor little boy didn't live to contrive:
His hearth didn't thrive -
No longer alive,
He died an enfeebled old dotard at five!


Now, elderly men of the bachelor crew,
With wrinkled hose
And spectacled nose,
Don't marry at all - you may take it as true
If ever you do
The step you will rue,
For your babes will be elderly - elderly too.

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