Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > British
The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. VI–IX: British
‘The Ruler of the Queen’s Navee’
By William Schwenck Gilbert (1836–1911)
From “Pinafore”



  I am the monarch of the sea,
  The ruler of the Queen’s navee,
Whose praise Great Britain loudly chants—
  Hebe.  And we are his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!
  Rel.  And we are his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!        5
  Sir Joseph.    When at anchor here I ride
  My bosom swells with pride,
And I snap my fingers at a foeman’s taunts—
  Hebe.  And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!
  All.  And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!        10
  Sir Joseph.    But when the breezes blow
  I generally go below,
And seek the seclusion that a cabin grants!
  Hebe.  And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!
  All.  And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!        15
His sisters and his cousins,
Whom he reckons up by dozens,
  And his aunts!

When I was a lad I served a term
As office boy to an attorney’s firm.        20
I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor,
And I polished up the handle of the big front door.
    I polished up that handle so carefullee
    That now I am the ruler of the Queen’s navee!

He polished, etc.

As office boy I made such a mark
That they gave me the post of a junior clerk.
I served the writs with a smile so bland,
And I copied all the letters in a big round hand—
    I copied all the letters in a hand so free
    That now I am the ruler of the Queen’s navee!        30

He copied, etc.

In serving writs I made such a name
That an articled clerk I soon became;
I wore clean collars and a brand new suit
For the pass examination at the Institute.
    And that pass examination did so well for me        35
    That now I am the ruler of the Queen’s navee!

And that pass examination, etc.

Of legal knowledge I acquired such a grip
That they took me into the partnership;
And that junior partnership, I ween,
Was the only ship that I ever had seen.        40
    But that kind of ship so suited me
    That now I am the ruler of the Queen’s navee!

But that kind, etc.

I grew so rich that I was sent
By a pocket borough into Parliament.
I always voted at my party’s call,        45
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all.
    I thought so little, they rewarded me
    By making me the ruler of the Queen’s navee!

He thought so little, etc.

Now landsmen all, whoever you may be,
If you want to rise to the top of the tree,        50
If your soul isn’t fettered to an office stool,
Be careful to be guided by this golden rule:
    Stick close to your desks, and never go to sea,
    And you all may be rulers of the Queen’s navee!

Stick close, etc.

  Sir Joseph.  You’ve a remarkably fine crew, Captain Corcoran.
  Capt.  It is a fine crew, Sir Joseph.
  Sir Joseph  (examining a very small midshipman).  A British sailor is a splendid fellow, Captain Corcoran.
  Capt.  A splendid fellow, indeed, Sir Joseph.
  Sir Joseph.  I hope you treat your crew kindly, Captain Corcoran.
  Capt.  Indeed I hope so, Sir Joseph.        60
  Sir Joseph.  Never forget that they are the bulwarks of England’s greatness, Captain Corcoran.
  Capt.  So I have always considered them, Sir Joseph.
  Sir Joseph.  No bullying, I trust—no strong language of any kind, eh?
  Capt.  Oh, never, Sir Joseph.
  Sir Joseph.  What, never?        65
  Capt.  Hardly ever, Sir Joseph. They are an excellent crew, and do their work thoroughly without it.
  Sir Joseph.  Don’t patronise them, sir—pray don’t patronise them.
  Capt.  Certainly not, Sir Joseph.
  Sir Joseph.  That you are the captain is an accident of birth. I cannot permit these noble fellows to be patronised because an accident of birth has placed you above them and them below you.
  Capt.  I am the last person to insult a British sailor, Sir Joseph.        70
  Sir Joseph.  You are the last person who did, Captain Corcoran. Desire that splendid seaman to step forward.
  Capt.  Ralph Rackstraw, come here.
  Sir Joseph  (sternly).  If what?
  Capt.  I beg your pardon——
  Sir Joseph.  If you please.        75
  Capt.  Oh, yes, of course. If you please.  (RALPH steps forward.)
  Sir Joseph.  You’re a remarkably fine fellow.
  Ralph.  Yes, your honour.
  Sir Joseph.  And a first-rate seaman, I’ll be bound.
  Ralph.  There’s not a smarter topman in the navy, your honour, though I say it who shouldn’t.        80
  Sir Joseph.  Not at all. Proper self-respect, nothing more. Can you dance a hornpipe?
  Ralph.  No, your honour.
  Sir Joseph.  That’s a pity; all sailors should dance hornpipes. I will teach you one this evening, after dinner. Now tell me—don’t be afraid—how does your captain treat you, eh?”
  Ralph.  A better captain don’t walk the deck, your honour.
  All.  Hear! Hear!        85
  Sir Joseph.  Good. I like to hear you speak well of your commanding officer; I dare say he don’t deserve it, but still it does you credit. Can you sing?
  Ralph.  I can hum a little, your honour.
  Sir Joseph.  Then hum this at your leisure  (giving him MS. music). It is a song that I have composed for the use of the royal navy. It is designed to encourage independence of thought and action in the lower branches of the service, and to teach the principle that a British sailor is any man’s equal, excepting mine. Now, Captain Corcoran, a word with you in your cabin, on a tender and sentimental subject.
  Capt.  Aye, aye, Sir Joseph. Boatswain, in commemoration of this joyous occasion, see that extra grog is served out to the ship’s company at seven bells.
  Boat.  Beg pardon? If what, your honour?        90
  Capt.  If what? I don’t think I understand you.
  Boat.  If you please, your honour.
  Capt.  What!
  Sir Joseph.  The gentleman is quite right. If you please.
  Capt.  (stamping his foot impatiently).  If you please!        95
  Sir Joseph.  For I hold that on the seas
The expression, “If you please,”
  A particularly gentlemanly tone implants.
  Hebe.  And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!
  All.  And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!        100

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