Modern Street Ballads


A tale I tell now without any flam,
In Holland there dwelt Mynheer von Clam,
Who, every morning, said, I am
The richest merchant in Amsterdam.
                  Ri too ral, etc.

One day he had stuffed him as full as an egg,
When a poor relation came to beg,
But he kick’d him out without broaching a keg,
And in kicking him out he broke his leg.

A surgeon, the first in his vocation,
Came, and made a long oration,
He wanted a limb for anatomization,
So he finished the job by amputation.

Said Mynheer, said he, when he’d done his work,
By your sharp knife, I lost one fork,
But on two crutches I’ll never stalk,
For I’ll have a beautiful leg of cork.

An artist in Rotterdam ‘twould seem,
Had made cork legs, his study and theme:
Each joint was as strong as an iron beam,
The springs a compound of clockwork and steam.

The leg was made and fitted tight,
Inspection the artist did invite,
The fine shape gave Mynheer delight,
And he fixed it on and screwed it tight.

He walked through squares, and past each shop,
Of speed he went to the utmost top,
Each step he took with a bound and a hop,
And he found his leg he could not stop.

Horror and fright were in his face,
The neighbours thought he was running a race;
He clung to a gas-post to stay his pace,
But the leg wouldn’t stop, but kept on the chace.

Then he call’d to some men with all his might,
“Oh! stop this leg or I’m murdered quite.”
But though they heard him aid invite,
He, in less than a minute was out of sight.

He ran o’er hill and dale, and plain,
To ease his weary bones he’d fain;
He threw himself down, but all in vain,
The leg got up, and was off again.

He walk’d of days and nights a score,
Of Europe he had made the Tour,
He died!—but though he was no more,
The leg walked on the same as before.

In Holland, sometimes it comes in sight,
A skeleton on a cork leg tight:
No cash did the artist’s skill require,
He never was paid, and it served him right.

My tale I’ve told both plain and free,
Of the rummest merchant that ever could be,
Who never was buried, tho’ dead we see,
And I’ve been singing his L E G.*

* Elegy.

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