The Ballad of Bill's Breeches by C.J. Dennis

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Once on a time, a party by the name of Mr. BULL
Discovered that with many schemes his hands were pretty full.
His cares of family were great. Four fine young sons he'd got;
They were, indeed, of goodly breed, a strong and hefty lot.
But Mr. BULL's domestic cares (as shortly will be seen)
Were not with them, but with his wife, whose name was JINGOPHINE.
A foolish fad this lady had that all the boys were ninnies;
         And, though they grew,
         As children do,
She dressed them all in pinnies.

Now, while her boys were young, JOHN BULL engaged in business strife -
Took little heed of their affairs, and left them to his wife;
And JINGOPHINE, who loved her lord, impressed them, noon and night.
With tales of his magnificence, his wisdom, wealth and might.
But when they talked of growing up, and "helping pa" some day,
She shook her finger at them in her stern, maternal way.
"Your pa's a great, big man," she said.  "You never, never, NEVER
         Can hope to be
         As big as he,
Or half so wise and clever.

Now, JINGOPHINE, like other dames of fussy, frilly kind,
Delighted to have round her folk of weak and narrow mind.
Pet persons were her weakness. also aldermen and those
Who held the very strictest views, and wore the nicest clothes.
They cheered her when she praised her lord, and listened, with a frown.
To tales of BILL; and all agreed he'd have to be "kept down."
"He is a naughty child," they said, "a most precocious brat.
To think good Mr. BULL should have an offspring such as that!"
But BILL despite the stern rebukes of aldermen and Wowsers,
         Defied the crowd.
         And shouted loud:
"Shut up!  I want my trousers!"

Now, in the course of time, JOHN BULL awakened to the fact
That, in the interests of his sons, 'twas time for him to act.
"My dear," he said, "these sons of ours are growing quite immense;
We ought to have a business talk - I'll call a conference.
They're nearly men; and they must learn, each one, to stand alone.
Each with responsibilities, and a household of his own.
They can't always be at our skirts, like great, big, awkward gabies."
         "Why, Mr. BULL!"
         She cried.  "You fool!
Those boys are only babies!"

But at the meeting Mr. BULL spoke plainly to his lads.
"My sons," said he, "I don't agree with all your mother's fads.
You can't be always little boys; like other lads, you've grown;
And now 'tis time to face the world, and learn to stand alone.
We still remain one family; and none will fail, I know,
To aid another in distress, against a common foe.
Dear lads, I know, you'll recollect - despite success and riches -
         Your father still."
         "Hear. hear!" said BILL -
"Hooray!  I've got me breeches!"

From out that solemn conference BILL marched in highest glee,
With more more respect for Mr. BULL, now that his limbs were free.
"The old man, he's an all-right sort, and talks sound, common sense,
It's time we learned to act like men, and chucked this fool-pretence.
We've done with apron-strings at last.  But what will Ma say now?
Her Wowsers and her aldermen? LORD, won't there be a row!
They've pecked at me quite long enough; it's up to me to scare 'em.
         They'll howl for weeks!
         But here's me breeks;
An', spare me days, I'll wear 'em!"

The Wowsers and the aldermen and Mrs. JING0PHINE
Were seated in the drawing-room when BILL came on the scene.
"He's got 'em on!" a Wowser cried.  "He's disobeyed his ma!"
"Help! Murder!" shrieked the aldermen. "He'll kill his pore, dear vp!"
Pell-mell they rushed to Mr. BULL - "Oh, sir, that dreadful BILL!
He'll murder you!  He stole yer pants!  He's got 'em on 'im still! Mr. BULL 
   said. "Is he?
         There, there, good folk,
         You've had your joke.
Now, go away; I'm busy."

But, up and down the land they went, the Wowsers and the rest;
And BILL, besides the trousers, sported now a coat and vest.
"He's dressin' like a man!" they shrieked. "He's going to resist
His dear, kind pa!  Oh, who'll restrain this rank disloyalist?
He won't take sops from 'is fond ma; 'er pore 'art's nearly broke!
He's even gone at scoffed at us; an' treats us as a joke!" ....
And if you chance to come across those aldermen and Wowsers
         You'll find them still
         Abusing BILL
Who grins, and wears the trousers.

First published in The Bulletin, 17 August 1911

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 17, 2013 6:08 AM.

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