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The Phantom Head

Fun, VIII - 19th December 1868


Illustration by Gilbert  
There never was a face
  So suited, in its way,
A clergyman to grace,
  As MR. PARKS', M.A.

There never was a face
  (Excepting MR. PARKS')
More suited to its place,
  Than MR. PARKS's clerk's.

There never was a face
  So medically fine,
So free from metal base,
  As that of DR. BRINE.

In fact, if actors could
  Contrive to "look a part"
As perfectly, they would
  Have mastered half their art.

These worthy people three,
  They were the special pride
Of Twipton-on-the-Sea
  And all that countryside.

And strangers who might be
  In Twipton, too, would say,
"We never noticed three
  So comme il faut as they."

But, ah, and well-a-day!
  I fear it wasn't meant,
That with our features' play
  We should be quite content!

The clergyman would say,
  "My face is far too mild,
Suggestive in its way
  Of quite a little child."

The doctor wished for eyes
  That, eagle-like, would pierce;
The little clerk, likewise,
  He wished to look more fierce.

(We must not be severe:
  We have our failings, all;
For none are perfect here
  On this terrestrial ball.)

One night when nearly dark
  (The wind was blowing hard),
It so befell, the clerk
  Passed through the cold churchyard.

And, lo! while treading there
  The causeway of the dead,
He saw in middle-air
  A Solitary Head.

"Now this," he mused, "is strange,
  And though I may be dense,
It's quite beyond the range
  Of my experience.

"I've noticed heads before,
  Young, pretty, old, and plain;
But all, I'm nearly sure,
  Had bodies in their train."

Illustration by Gilbert

"Clerk," said that Phantom Head,
  "Do you admire my smile?"
The clerk politely said,
  "It is my favourite style.

"Your eyes, with lightning pronged,
  Quite pierce me through and through
For many years I've longed
  To have a head like you!"

"To-morrow evening, halt,"
  The awful Spectre said,
"At yonder handsome vault,
  And you shall have my head.

"For I, and brother two
  (You would not know our names),
Were all beheaded through
  The wicked SECOND JAMES.

"We're weary of our beds;
  Those merciless old hunks
Preserved our little heads
  But burnt our little trunks.

"('Trunks,' you'll observe, stand for
  Our bodies — now no more —
Not our portmanteaux, nor
  The breeches that we wore.)

"So,sure as eggs are eggs,
  We never shall stir out
Until we get some legs
  On which to move about.

Go, tell your worthy friends
  That if they'll lend us theirs,
'Twill serve their private ends
  And help us from our lairs."

The doctor and the priest
  Rejoiced to hear that day
That they, good men, at least
  Might have their wilful way.

Illustration by Gilbert  
Now mark the sorry plight
  Their envy brought them to:
They sought the vault that night —
  The Head had told them true!

But though the faces there
  Looked handsome in the light,
In point of fact they were
  Unsuited to them, quite.

One handsome head each friend
  Assumed — and bore it thence;
But, ah, the fearful end!
  But, ah, the consequence!

For none would take a pew
  In MR. PARKS'S church!
The Doctor's patients, too,
  Have left him in the lurch!

The humble little clerk
  Has no companions, when
He rises grim and stark
  To give his loud "Amen!"
  Illustration by Gilbert

MORAL

You'll learn this moral fit,
  That beauty, to the state
Of him who pays for it,
  Should be appropriate.

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