Policeman Peter Forth I drag from his obscure retreat:
He was a merry, genial wag, who loved a mad conceit.
If he were asked the time of day by country bumpkins green,
He not infrequently would say, "A quarter past thirteen."
If ever you by word of mouth enquired of Mister Forth
The way to somewhere in the South, he always sent you North.
With little boys he beat along he loved to stop and play;
He loved to send old ladies wrong, and teach their feet to stray.
He was not naturally bad, or viciously inclined,
But from his early youth he had a waggish turn of mind.
The Men of London grimly scowled with indignation wild;
The Men of London gruffly growled, but Peter calmly smiled.
(Now) retribution has her day although her flight is slow:
One day that Crusher lost his way near Poland Street, Soho.
The haughty youth, too proud to ask to find his way resolved,
And in the tangle of his task got more and more involved.
The Men of London, overjoyed, came there to jeer their foe,
And flocking crowds completely cloyed the mazes of Soho.
The news, on telegraphic wires, sped swiftly o'er the lea,
Excursion trains from distant shires brought myriads to see.
For weeks he trod his self-made beats through Newport, Gerrard, Bear,
Greek, Rupert, Frith, Dean, Poland Streets, and into Golden Square:
But all, alas, in vain, for when he tried to learn the way
Of little boys or grown-up men they none of them would say.
Their eyes would flash, their teeth would grind, their lips would tightly curl,
They'd say, "Thy way thyself must find, thou misdirecting churl!"
And, similarly, also, when he tried a foreign friend;
Italians answered, "Il balen." The French, "No comprehend."
Four stanzas omitted for space - but you get the idea.
Gilbert's ballads were fun and bouncy, light-hearted and ridiculous.
Hope you enjoyed this one as an example of Gilbert's creative genius.