The "Bab" Ballads/The Rival Curates


LIST while the poet trolls
Of Mr. Clayton Hooper,
Who had a cure of souls
At Spiffton-extra-Sooper

He lived on curds and whey,
And daily sang their praises,
And then he'd go and play
With buttercups and daisies.

Wild croquêt Hooper banned,
And all the sports of Mammon,
He warred with cribbage, and
He exorcised backgammon.

His helmet was a glance
That spoke of holy gladness;
A saintly smile his lance,
His shield a tear of sadness.

His Vicar smiled to see
This armour on him buckled:
With pardonable glee
He blessed himself and chuckled.

"In mildness to abound
My curate's sole design is,
In all the country round
There's none so mild as mine is!"

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And Hooper, disinclined
 His trumpet to be blowing,
Yet didn't think you'd find
 A milder curate going.

A friend arrived one day
 At Spiffton-extra-Sooper,
And in this shameful way
 He spoke to Mr. Hooper:
"You think your famous name
 For mildness can't be shaken,
That none can blot your fame—
 But, Hooper, you're mistaken!
"Your mind is not as blank
 As that of Hopley Porter,
Who holds a curate's rank
 At Assesmilk-cum-Worter.

"He plays the airy flute,
 And looks depressed and blighted,
Doves round about him 'toot,'
 And lambkins dance delighted.

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"He labours more than you
 At worsted work, and frames it;
In old maids' albums, too,
 Sticks seaweed—yes, and names it!"
The tempter said his say,
 Which pierced him like a needle—
He summoned straight away
 His sexton and his beadle.

(These men were men who could
 Hold liberal opinions:
On Sundays they were good—
 On week-days they were minions.)

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"To Hopley Porter go,
 Your fare I will afford you—
Deal him a deadly blow
 And blessings shall reward you.

"But stay—I do not like
 Undue assassination,
And so before you strike,
 Make this communication:
"I'll give him this one chance—
 If he'll more gaily bear him,
Play croquêt, smoke, and dance,
 I willingly will spare him."

They went, those minions true.
 To Assesmilk-cum-Worter,
And told their errand to
 The Reverend Hopley Porter.

"What?" said that reverend gent,
 "Dance through my hours of leisure?
Smoke?—bathe myself with scent?—
 Play croquêt? Oh, with pleasure!

"Wear all my hair in curl?
 Stand at my door and wink—so:—
At every passing girl?
 My brothers, I should think so!

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"For years I've longed for some
 Excuse for this revulsion:
Now that excuse has come—
 I do it on compulsion!!!"

He smoked and winked away—
 This Reverend Hopley Porter
The deuce there was to pay
 At Assesmilk-cum-Worter.

And Hooper holds his ground,
 In mildness daily growing—
They think him, all around,
 The mildest curate going.

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