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The Hermit

Fun, VII - 17th October 1868


I don't suppose you'd ever find
  A man who galloped faster
To grief of a decisive kind
  Than FREDERICK DISASTER.

I never knew a purer man
  Or one who lived more gently,
But still in every little plan
  He failed incontinently.

For daily bit and daily sup,
  Unfitted quite to battle —
No man has been more shaken up
  In this terrestrial rattle.

Poor FREDERICK succeeded ill
  In every single section;
He could not forge a simple bill
  Or cheque, without detection;

Indeed he often came to grief
  With pots on area railings,
And taking someone's handkerchief
  Ensured immediate jailings.

He couldn't take a pocket-book,
  Or finger people's dials,
But safe detection overtook
  This man of many trials.

I've known him long, and watched his ways
  And seen him growing thinner,
Along of passing many days
  Without a scrap of dinner.
  Illustration by Gilbert

And yet no man more closely bent
  To work than did my neighbour,
For every holiday he spent
  Ensured a year's hard labour.

He worked in Chatham, Devonport,
  And Portland dockyards featly;
I've known him build a bomb-proof fort
  Particularly neatly.

He worked abroad like any horse
  Or other dumb mammalia,
He once passed through a ten-years' course
  Road-making in Australia.

But still, though toiling like a brute,
  His labour little gained him;
Its anything-but-toothsome fruit
  But scantily sustained him.

But though black-holed he often got,
  And bread-and-watered weekly,
He never murmured at his lot
  But always bore it meekly.

Sometimes he'd say, poor gentle boy,
  "Though lodged and boarded poorly,
E'en such poor boons as I enjoy
  I'm undeserving surely.

"Suppose I quit the world so bright
  And turn a simple hermit —
A dim recluse — an anchorite —
  I don't know what you term it.

"Then, freed from every sinful mesh,
  On herbs and frugal diet,
I'll mortify rebellious flesh
  And live in rural quiet.

"In stony cell without a door
  I'll live and pay no usance —
(I've lived in stony cells before
  And found the door a nuisance).

Illustration by Gilbert

 
"In such a cell in mossy glade
  I'll sit, and live austerely;
And sympathetic village maids
  Shall love their hermit dearly.

"The maidens, too, before I wake —
  Before I draw my awning —
Shall come and ask me what I'll take
  And how I feel this dawning.

"And every visitor who comes
  To see me in my cavern,
Shall bring me marmalade and plums,
  And dinner from a tavern.

"So, for a skull, a knotted rope,
  And charitable rations,
A robe of sack, a hooded cope,
  And box for small donations,

"I'll freely, willingly resign
  (The pang will not be bitter)
The joys of life which now are mine
  With all their sheen and glitter!"

And so he did! To forest thick
  He fled from worldly folly;
When last I heard from FREDERICK
  He was extremely jolly.
 
Illustration by Gilbert

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