The "Bab" Ballads/John and Freddy

John and Freddy  (1867) 
by W.S. Gilbert


JOHN courted lovely Mary Ann,
  So likewise did his brother Freddy.
Fred was a very soft young man,
  While John, though quick, was most unsteady.

Young Fred had grace all men above,
  But John was very much the strongest.
"Oh, dance," said she, "to win my love—
  I'll marry him who dances longest."

John tries the maiden's taste to strike
  With gay, grotesque, outrageous dresses,
And dances comically, like
  Clodoche and Co., at the Princess's.

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But Freddy tries another style,
  He knows some graceful steps and does 'em—
A breathing Poem—Woman's smile—
  A man all poesy and buzzem.

Now Freddy's operatic pas
  Now Johnny's hornpipe seems entrapping:
Now Freddy's graceful entrechats
  Now Johnny's skilful "cellar-flapping."

For many hours—for many days—
  For many weeks performed each brother.
For each was active in his ways,
  And neither would give in to t'other.

After a month of this, they say
  (The maid was getting bored and moody)
A wandering curate passed that way
  And talked a lot of goody-goody.

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"Oh, my," said he, with solemn frown,
  "I tremble for each dancing frater,
Like unregenerated clown
  And harlequin at some thee-ayter."

He showed that men, in dancing, do
  Both impiously and absurdly,
And proved his proposition true,
  With Firstly, Secondly, and Thirdly.

For months both John and Freddy danced,
  The curate's protests little heeding;
For months the curate's words enhanced
  The sinfulness of their proceeding.

At length they bowed to Nature's rule—
  Their steps grew feeble and unsteady,
Till Freddy fainted on a stool,
  And Johnny on the top of Freddy.

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"Decide!" quoth they, "let him be named,
  Who henceforth as his wife may rank you."
"I've changed my views," the maiden said,
  "I only marry curates, thank you!"

Says Freddy, "Here is goings on!
  To bust myself with rage I'm ready."
"I'll be a curate," whispers John
  "And I," exclaimed poetic Freddy.

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But while they read for it, these chaps,
  The curate booked the maiden bonny—
And when she's buried him, perhaps,
  She'll marry Frederick or Johnny.