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Arthur Sullivan - The Absent-Minded Beggar



When you've shouted "Rule Britannia," when you’ve sung "God save the Queen" --
When you've finished killing Kruger with your mouth --
Will you kindly drop a shilling in my little tambourine
For a gentleman in kharki ordered South?
He's an absent-minded beggar, and his weaknesses are great --
But we and Paul must take him as we find him --
He is out on active service, wiping something off a slate --
And he’s left a lot of little things behind him!
Duke's son -- cook's son -- son of a hundred kings --
(Fifty thousand horse and foot going to Table Bay!)
Each of 'em doing his country's work (and who's to look after their things?)
Pass the hat for your credit's sake, and pay -- pay -- pay!

There are girls he married secret, asking no permission to
For he knew he wouldn't get it if he did
There is gas and coals and vittles, and the house-rent falling due
And it’s more than rather likely there’s a kid
There are girls he walked with casual, they'll be sorry now he’s gone
For an absent-minded beggar they will find him
But it ain't the time for sermons with the winter coming on --
We must help the girl that Tommy's left behind him!
Cook's son -- Duke’s son -- son of a belted Earl --
Son of a Lambeth publican -- it's all the same to-day!
Each of 'em doing his country's work (and who's to look after the girl?)
Pass the hat for your credit's sake, and -- pay! pay! pay!
There are families by thousands, far too proud to beg or speak --
And they'll put their sticks and bedding up the spout
And they'll live on half o' nothing paid 'em punctual once a week
'Cause the man that earns the wage is ordered out
He's an absent-minded beggar, but he heard his country call
And his reg'ment didn't need to send to find him:
He chucked his job and joined it -- so the job before us all
Is to help the home that Tommy's left behind him!
Duke's job -- cook's job -- gardener, baronet, groom --
Mews or palace or paper-shop -- there's some one gone away!
Each of 'em doing his country's work (and who's to look after the room?)
Pass the hat for your credit's sake, and -- pay! pay! pay!

Let us manage so as, later, we can look him in the face
And tell him -- what he'd very much prefer --
That, while he saved the Empire his employer saved his place
And his mates (that's you and me) looked out for her
He's an absent-minded beggar and he may forget it all
But we do not want his kiddies to remind him
That we sent 'em to the workhouse while their daddy hammered Paul
So we'll help the homes that Tommy left behind him
Cook's home -- Duke's home -- home of a millionaire --
(Fifty thousand horse and foot going to Table Bay!)
Each of 'em doing his country's work (and what have you got to spare?)
Pass the hat for your credit's sake, and -- pay! pay! pay!