Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
Humorous Poems: II. Miscellaneous
Toby Tosspot
George Colman the Younger (1762–1836)
  ALAS! what pity ’t is that regularity,
  Like Isaac Shove’s, is such a rarity!
But there are swilling wights in London town,
  Termed jolly dogs, choice spirits, alias swine,
Who pour, in midnight revel, bumpers down,        5
  Making their throats a thoroughfare for wine.
These spendthrifts, who life’s pleasures thus run on,
  Dozing with headaches till the afternoon,
Lose half men’s regular estate of sun,
  By borrowing too largely of the moon.        10
One of this kidney—Toby Tosspot hight—
Was coming from the Bedford late at night;
  And being Bacchi plenus, full of wine,
    Although he had a tolerable notion
    Of aiming at progressive motion,        15
  ’T wasn’t direct,—’t was serpentine.
He worked with sinuosities, along,
Like Monsieur Corkscrew, worming through a cork,
Not straight, like Corkscrew’s proxy, stiff Don Prong,—a fork.
At length, with near four bottles in his pate,        20
He saw the moon shining on Shove’s brass plate,
When reading, “Please to ring the bell,”
  And being civil beyond measure,
“Ring it!” says Toby,—“very well;
  I ’ll ring it with a deal of pleasure.”        25
Toby, the kindest soul in all the town,
Gave it a jerk that almost jerked it down.
He waited full two minutes,—no one came;
  He waited full two minutes more;—and then
Says Toby, “If he ’s deaf, I ’m not to blame;        30
  I ’ll pull it for the gentleman again.”
But the first peal woke Isaac in a fright,
  Who, quick as lightning, popping up his head,
  Sat on his head’s antipodes, in bed,
Pale as a parsnip,—bolt upright.        35
At length he wisely to himself doth say, calming his fears,—
“Tush! ’t is some fool has rung and run away;”
When peal the second rattled in his ears.
Shove jumped into the middle of the floor;
  And, trembling at each breath of air that stirred,        40
He groped down stairs, and opened the street door,
  While Toby was performing peal the third.
Isaac eyed Toby, fearfully askant,
  And saw he was a strapper, stout and tall;
Then put this question, “Pray, sir, what d’ye want?”        45
  Says Toby, “I want nothing sir, at all.”
“Want nothing! Sir, you ’ve pulled my bell, I vow,
  As if you ’d jerk it off the wire.”
Quoth Toby, gravely making him a bow,
  “I pulled it, sir, at your desire.”        50
“At mine?” “Yes, yours; I hope I ’ve done it well.
  High time for bed, sir; I was hastening to it;
But if you write up, ‘Please to ring the bell,’
  Common politeness makes me stop and do it.”

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