The Ingoldsby Legends, by Thomas Ingoldsby

The Truants.

Three little Demons have broken loose

From the National School below!

They are resolved to play truant to-day,

Their primer and slate they have cast away,

And away, and away they go!

‘Hey boys! hey boys! up go we!

Who so merry as we three?’

The reek of that most infernal pit,

Where sinful souls are stewing,

Rises so black, that in viewing it,

A thousand to one but you’d ask with surprise

As its murky columns met your eyes,

‘Pray is Old Nick a brewing?’

Thither these three little Devils repair,

And mount by steam to the uppermost air.

They have got hold of a wandering star,

That happened to come within hail.

O swiftly they glide!

As they merrily ride

All a cock-stride

Of that Comet’s tail.

Oh the pranks! Oh the pranks!

The merry pranks, the mad pranks,

These wicked urchins play!

They kissed the Virgin and filled her with dread,

They popped the Scorpion into her bed;

They broke the pitcher of poor Aquarius,

They stole the arrows of Sagittarius,

And they skimmed the Milky Way.

They filled the Scales with sulphur full,

They halloed the Dog-star on at the Bull,

And pleased themselves with the noise.

They set the Lion

On poor Orion;

They shaved all the hair

Off the Lesser Bear!

They kicked the shins

Of the Gemini Twins —

Those heavenly Siamese Boys! —

Never was such confusion and wrack,

As they produced in the Zodiac! —

‘Huzza! Huzza!

Away! Away!

Let us go down to the earth and play!

Now we go up, up, up,

Now we go down, down, down,

Now we go backwards and forwards,

Now we go round, round, round!’

Thus they gambol, and scramble, and tear,

Till at last they arrive at the nethermost air.

And pray now what were these Devilets called?

These three little Fiends so gay?

One was Cob!

Another was Mob!

The last and the least was young Chittabob!

Queer little Devils were they!

Cob was the strongest,

Mob was the wrongest,

Chittabob’s tail was the finest and longest!

Three more frolicsome Imps I ween,

Beelzebub’s self hath seldom seen.

Over Mountain, over Fell,

Glassy Fountain, mossy Dell,

Rocky Island, barren Strand,

Over Ocean, over Land;

With frisk and bound, and squeaks and squalls,

Heels over head, and head over heels;

With curlings and twistings, and twirls and wheeleries,

Down they drop at the gate of the Tuilleries.

Courtiers were bowing and making legs,

While Charley le Roi was bolting eggs:

‘Mob,’ says Cob,

‘Chittabob,’ says Mob,

‘Come here, you young Devil, we’re in for a job!’

Up jumps Cob to the Monarch’s ear,

‘Charley, my jolly boy, never fear;

If you mind all their jaw

About Charter and Law,

You might just as well still be the Count d’ Artois!

No such thing,

Show ’em you’re King,

Tip ’em an Ordinance, that’s the thing!’

Charley dined,

Took his pen and signed;

Then Mob kicked over his throne from behind!

‘Huzza! Huzza! we may scamper now!

For here we have kicked up a jolly good row!’

‘Over the water and over the Sea,

And over the water with Charlie;’

Now they came skipping and grinning with glee.

Not pausing to chaff or to parley,

Over, over,

On to Dover;

On fun intent,

All through Kent

These mischievous devils so merrily went.

Over hill and over dale,

Sunken hollow, lofty ridge,

Frowning cliff, and smiling vale,

Down to the foot of Westminster-bridge.

‘Hollo,’ says Cob,

‘There’s the Duke and Sir Bob!

After ’em Chittabob, after ’em Mob.

Mob flung gravel, and Chittabob pebbles,

His Grace c — ‘d them both for a couple of rebels:

His feelings were hurt,

By the stones and the dirt —

In went he,

In an extasy,

And blew up the nobles of high degree.

‘Mr. Brougham, Mr. Hume,

May fret and may fume —

And so may all you whom I see in this room;

Come weal, come woe, come calm, come storm —

I’ll see you all — blessed — ere I give you Reform!’

‘Bravo!’ says Chittabob, ‘that’s your sort,

Come along, schoolfellows, here’s more sport.

Look there! look there!

There’s the great Lord May’r!

With the gravest of Deputies close to his chair;

With Hobler, his Clerk!

Just the thing for a lark;

Huzzah! huzzah! boys, follow me now;

Here we may kick up another good row.’

Here they are,

Swift as a star,

They shoot in mid air, over Temple Bar!

Tom Macaulay beheld the flight,

Of these three little dusky sons of night,

And his heart swell’d with joy and elation —

‘Oh, see!’ quoth he,

‘Those Niggerlings three,

Who have just got emancipation!’

Lord Key took fright:

At the very first sight,

The whole Court of Aldermen wheel’d to the right;

Some ran from Chittabob — more from Mob,

The great locum tenens jump’d up upon Cob,

Who roar’d and ran,

With the Alderman

To the Home Office, pick-a-back — catch ’em who can!

‘Stay at home — here’s a plot,

And I can’t tell you what,

If you don’t I’ll be shot,

But you’ll all go topot’

Ah little he weened while the ground he thus ran over,

’Twas a Cob he bestrode — not his white horse from Hanover.

Back they came galloping through the Strand,

When Joseph Lancaster, stick in hand,

Popped up his head before ’em.

Well we know,

That honest old Joe,

Is a sort of High Master down below,

And teaches the Imps decorum.

Satan had started him off in a crack,

To flog these three little runaways back.

Fear each assails;

Every one quails;

‘Oh dear! how he’ll tickle our little black tails!

Have done, have done,

Here’s that son f a gun;

Old Joe, come after us, — run, boys, run.’

Off ran Cob,

Off ran Mob.

And off in a fright ran young Chittabob

Joe caught Chittabob just by the tail,

And Cob by his crumpled horn;

Bitterly then did these Imps bewail,

That ever they were born!

Mob got away,

But none to this day,

Know exactly whither he went;

Some say he’s been seen about Blackfriars’-bridge,

And some say he’s down in Kent.

But where’er he may roam,

He has not ventured home,

Since the day the three took wing,

And many suppose,

He has changed his clothes;

And now goes by the name of ‘Swing.’

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56