― 105 ―

The Political Dead-Beat

You needn't think a man's a mouse, because he looks forlorn,
'Cause his pants are out at elbows, and his linen's frayed and torn;
Because his coat's seen better days, and his waistcoat ain't quite new,
And his hat's a ventilating one and lets the air come through.
A man is easy sat upon when Fortune's done its worst,
And the only asset left him is unliquidated thirst.
I'm the shuttle-cock of Fortune, and the boomerang of Fate,
I'm a blighted politician, who got plucked for voting straight.

When first I entered parliament I knew a thing or two,
I used to trim my flowing sails to every wind that blew;

  ― 106 ―
Though I didn't have much learning I possessed some common sense,
And could hold my own at sitting on or sliding off a fence.
My opinions were elastic, but my principles were sound,
For if they caught an adverse wind, they always twisted round.
So Fortune smiled upon me, and I proved from day to day,
That the politics that wobble are the politics that pay.

One night when party strife was keen, I was an absentee,
So when they counted noses they could count on all but me;
My vote was worth the fattest prize the Ministry could give,
For I could kill the Government or I could let it live.
The party whip soon found me out and I remarked that I
Was conscientiously inclined to let the Government die.
Said he “What price your conscience?” Then I whispered in his ear,
And the party when I took my seat received me with a cheer.

  ― 107 ―
Alas! for fickle Fortune that will sometimes kick the beam,
While members droned I slumbered, and I dreamt a blissful dream.
The division bell awoke me; then I started from my doze,
And cast the vote among the “Ayes,” I'd promised to the “Noes.”
I discovered when I rubbed my eyes, and turned to look about,
That I'd voted with my conscience, but I'd put the Government out.
So a dissolution followed, and I found out when too late,
That people thought I'd lost my head, because I voted straight.

On polling day I faced the crowd, I argued north and south,
But talking's hard when half-hatched eggs keep dropping in one's mouth;
I could argue against men but not against bubonic rats,
Bits of pumpkin, rotten apples, and resuscitated cats.
I could raise my voice with resonance above the surging sea,

  ― 108 ―
But a thousand braying asses were a bit too strong for me;
So the boys sang “Rule Britannia,” and the men threw up their hats,
And when I tried to soothe the crowd, the crowd just shouted “Rats!”

I promised to do anything, to vote just as they chose,
But the ancient eggs came faster, then a furious yell arose;
My platform swayed, and then gave way, and then I lost my feet,
And when I found my head again I found I'd lost my seat.
I'm a blighted politician, crushed beneath the wheels of fate,
Minus my golden railway pass, because I voted straight.
So take heed ye politicians, and this little maxim keep,
The most successful wobbler is the man who doesn't sleep.