The "Bab" Ballads/The Reverend Micah Sowls

The Reverend Micah Sowls  (1868) 
by W.S. Gilbert
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THE Reverend Micah Sowls,
He shouts and yells and howls,
He screams, he mouths, he bumps,
He foams, he rants, he thumps.

His armour he has buckled on to wage
The regulation war against the Stage;
And warns his congregation all to shun
"The Presence Chamber of the Evil One."

The subject's sad enough
To make him rant and puff,
And fortunately, too,
His Bishop's in a pew.

So Reverend Micah claps on extra steam,
His eyes are flashing with superior gleam,
He is as energetic as can be,
For there are fatter livings in that see.

The Bishop, when it's o'er,
Goes through the vestry door
Where Micah, very red,
Is mopping of his head.

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"Pardon, my Lord, your Sowls' excessive zeal,
It is a theme on which I strongly feel."
(The sermon somebody had sent him down
From London, at a charge of half-a-crown.)

The Bishop bowed his head
And, acquiescing, said,
"I've heard your well-meant rage
Against the Modern Stage.

"A modern Theatre, as I heard you say,
Sows seeds of evil broad-cast: well, it may—
But let me ask you, my respected son,
Pray, have you ever ventured into one?"
"My Lord," said Micah, "No!
I never, never go!
What! Go and see a play?
My goodness gracious, nay!"

The worthy Bishop said, "My friend, no doubt
The stage may be the place you make it out;
But if, my Reverend Sowls, you never go,
I don't quite understand how you're to know."

"Well, really," Micah said,
"I've often heard and read,
But never go—do you?"
The Bishop said, "I do."

"That proves me wrong," said Micah, in a trice;
"I thought it all frivolity and vice."
The Bishop handed him a counter plain;
"Just take this stall and go to Drury Lane."

The Bishop took his leave,
Rejoicing in his sleeve.
The next ensuing day
Sowls went and heard a play.

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He saw a dreary person on the stage,
Who mouthed and mugged in simulated rage—
Who growled and spluttered in a mode absurd,
And spoke an English Sowls had never heard.

For "gaunt" wast spoken "garnt,"
And "haunt" transformed to "harnt,"
And "wrath" pronounced as "rath,"
And "death" was changed to "dath."

For hours and hours that dismal actor walked
And talked, and talked, and talked, and talked,
Till lethargy upon the parson crept,
And sleepy Micah Sowls serenely slept.

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He slept away until
The farce that closed the bill
Had warned him not to stay,
And then he went away.

"I thought," said he, "I was a dreary thing,
I thought my voice quite destitute of ring,
I thought my ranting could distract the brain,
But oh! I hadn't been to Drury Lane.

"Forgive me, Drury Lane,
Thou penitential fane,
Where sinners should be cast
To mourn their wicked past!"