Modern Street Ballads


There liv’d, and may be living still,
In one of the streets of the town,
A respectable man who was call’d
By the neighbours, “Gentleman Brown.”
Very grand parties he gave,
At which in champagne, you might drown,
Now he cut such a dash, all the street,
Was jealous of Gentleman Brown.
      Jokery, jeering, quiz,
To the story I’m telling, oh list,
How happy we mortals might be,
If jealousy did not exist.

The Caggs’ who resided next door,
Were ever in sneers and in frowns,
And bursting with spleen when they saw
Such fine goings on at the Browns.
One night Mrs. C. said to Caggs,
“Some husbands are such stingy clowns,
Or they would give dinners and balls,
And show off as well as the Browns.”
      Jokery, jeering, quiz.
In the course of your life, find you may,
That a man has no power, when his wife
Is determined to have her own way.

“Consider my income!” said Caggs,
“Don’t talk in that way, Mr. C.
I warrant I’d make it suffice,
If you would but leave it to me.
Last Monday, I saw, well enough,
When the tradesmen were going their rounds,
Although they had money from us,
I’m sure they had none from the Browns.”
      Jokery, jeering, quiz.
It’s one of the greatest of ills,
When tradesmen will send in their bills,
And nothing else but their bills.

Caggs submitted to his better half,
Or rather two thirds, I should say,
And she soon sent her orders about,
Determined to make a display.
Her daughters were full of delight,
On Sunday they sported new gowns,
And exclaimed, as they went to the church,
“How we shall astonish the Browns!”
      Jokery, jeering, quiz.
What pleasures arise in the breast,
When we, as we walk through the streets,
Are conscious of being well dressed!

Preparations were made for a feast,
Tinted cards, highly glazed and embossed,
Invited the neighbours, who came,
And many in wonder were lost.
Champagne, Ices, Claret, Milk punch,
And cakes ornamented with crowns,
Soups, jellies, and scented pastilles,
And all to astonish the Browns.
      Jokery, jeering, quiz,
Most people are fond of a feast,
And they love them that give ’em the most,
More than those folks who give ’em the least.

One party soon drew on another,
And, then, to continue the game,
As the Browns were a going to the races,
The Caggs must, of course do the same.
“Lauk! how surpriséd they will be,
When they see us appear on the Downs,
We will go in a carriage and four,
And we shall so astonish the Browns.”
      Jokery, jeering, quiz,
The neighbours said “Caggs was clever,
But as sure as eggs be but eggs,
Such things won’t continue for ever.”

Whatever was done by the B’s,
The C’s tried to do more than equal,
But as they had not the same means,
They failed, as you’ll see by the sequel.
They were forc’d to run off from the street,
For fortune looked on them with frowns,
And, what was more galling than all,
It did not astonish the Browns.
      Jokery, jeering, quiz,
Many folks in this world’s ups and downs,
Very often astonish themselves,
When they try to astonish the Browns.

My tale I’ll conclude with a proverb,
In which there’s a great deal of sense,
Your pounds may be left to themselves,
If you will take care of the pence.
In this you’ll discover my moral,
A moral worth mitres and crowns,
If you would save silver and gold,
You must always beware of the Browns.
      Jokery, jeering, quiz,
Be cautious in great London town,
Or, in trying to do, you’ll be done,
And not only done—but done brown.

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