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The Policeman's Beard

Fun, IX - 1st May 1869

Illustration by Gilbert  

Go search throughout the human kind,
I'll undertake you will not find
A kinder, softer-hearted boy
Than gentle-eyed POLICEMAN JOY.

He sickened at the sight of sin,
And sought a hallowed refuge in
That haven of unruffled peace,
The Metropolitan Police.

"Here," thought the gentle-minded lad,
Protected from examples bad,
And far removed from worldly strife,
I'll pass a calm monastic life.

"For wicked men, with nimble feet,
Avoid the good policeman's beat;
And miscreants of every kind
Disperse like chaff before the wind.

"My beat shall serve me, as, I'm told,
Grey cloisters served the monks of old
A spot convenient, where, at case,
To ruminate on vanities.

"'Twill be, on all material scores,
A monastery out-of-doors,
With (here it beats monastic shades)
A good supply of servant maids."

Nor did his hopes betray the boy —
His life was one unruffled joy.
He breathed, at government's expense,
An atmosphere of innocence.

Vice fled before him day by day,
While Virtue often "asked the way";
Or beg he'd kindly leave his beat
To help her cross a crowded street.

Illustration by Gilbert  

Where'er he went 'twas just the same;
Whene'er he whistled, Virtue came;
And Virtue always found him near,
When she was sent to fetch the beer.

For Virtue said, "That gentle eye
Could never compass villainy.
A DON GIOVANNI none could trace
In that fair smooth angelic face!"

And Virtue guessed the simple truth,
He was a good and harmless youth,
As simple-hearted as he looked;
His "inside places" Truth had booked.

But, ah, alas! as time rolled on,
This order to policemen gave,
"All Constables must Cease to Shave!"

The order soon was noised about,
The prisoned beards broke madly out.
And sacred from the morning knife,
They revelled in a new-found life.

Moustachios, freed from scissor clips,
Poured madly over upper lips;
Or curled themselves in either eye
They breathed the breath of Liberty!

Illustration by Gilbert

How fared it with our gentle boy,
That tender lad, POLICEMAN JOY,
Whose eye recalls the mild gazelle?
Alas! with him it fared not well.

That peaceful chin — those chubby cheeks,
That mouth that smiles but rarely speaks,
Now wear by Hendersonian law,
The fiercest beard you ever saw!

It spoke of blood-it spoke of bones,
It spoke of yells and midnight groans;
Of death in lonely robber-cribs,
Of poignards stuck between the ribs!

Illustration by Gilbert

And Virtue, timid fluttering maid,
Shrank from her gentle boy afraid;
And took him for — I know not what,
At all events she knew him not.

Attracted by no whistled air,
Shy shrinking Virtue took good care
To see the boy was nowhere near,
When she was sent to fetch the beer.

And Vice, that used to run away,
Would now take heart of grace, and say,
"A beard that twirls and tangles thus
Must appertain to one of us!"

He brushed it often-combed it through,
He oiled it and he soaped it, too;
But useless 'twas such means to try,
It curled again when it was dry.

Well, Virtue sadly gave him up,
Vice proffered him her poisoned cup,
And thus good, kind POLICEMAN JOY
Became a lost, abandoned boy!

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