The "Bab" Ballads/The Precocious Baby

The Precocious Baby  (1867) 
by W.S. Gilbert
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(To be sung to the Air of the "Whistling Oyster.")

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 of seventy-three:
Now what she could see
Is a puzzle to me,
In a buffer 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 weed 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! you know!'

And he turned up his nose at his excellent pap—
"My friends, it's a tap
That is not worth 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"—
"You 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 hook it 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 affaid '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.

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"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!"

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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 health 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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