WHEN WILL IT BE?
 
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Old Mother Shipton's prophecy of which you've no doubt heard
May seem to you and me to be exceedingly absurd
But still there are some who believe their race is nearly run
And who expect the world will end in eighteen eighty one.
(and there are many that say)
It may be in a hurricane, It may be in a gale
It may be in a comet with a long and fiery tail
It may be in a London fog, or spots upon the Sun
But anyhow it's sure to end in eighteen eighty one.

There is a certain family that lives in Russel Square
I will not give the number, that would be hardly fair
But Mother Shipton's prophecy has filled their minds with fear
They think that the catastrophe to all is very near.
(They quite think that the world is doomed and that)
It may be that some dynamite will blow it all to scraps
A course of electricity may finish it perhaps
It may one day be busted up just like Thunderer's gun
But anyhow it's sure to end in eighteen eighty one.

The father was a merchant once in Lawrence Pountney Lane
But I am much inclined to think that he won't go there again
He's given up his business now and twiddles with his thumbs
To be in perfect readiness to meet it when it comes
(When asked why he had given up business he replied)
It may be in a moment, it may be in a week
A month perhaps, but as to that I can't precisely speak
It may be during office hours or when the work is done
But anyhow it's sure to be in eighteen eighty one.

The mother, of a frugal mind, believing it was true
Would only have provisions in just for a day or two
So when the dreadful snowstorm came and none could get about
They finished all they'd got to eat then had to go without
(And when they grumbled at nothing to eat, she said,'Hush, my dears, don't you know)
It may be just at breakfast time, it may be just at tea
It may be just at dinner time, at any of the three
It may be while we're saying grace or when we've just begun
But anyhow it's sure to be in eighteen eighty one.

The son, to show his faith in what he heard his father say
Got over head and ears in debt and never meant to pay
And when his father scolded him he answered with a smile
'Dear Father, all that's needful is to wait a little while.
(For you see)
It may come when I'm thinking how to pay for what I bought
It may perhaps come while the judge is in the County Court
It may come when they've just found out that my assets are none
But anyhow it's sure to come in eighteen eighty one.

The eldest daughter quite believed in all her father said
Her lover wished they hadn't put such nonsense in her head
But she in spite of everything was in a dreadful way
Because she feared the end might come before her wedding day
(When her lover said, 'How foolish you are' she replied)
It may come when the wedding peals are ringing us to church
It may come at an awkward time and leave us in the lurch
It may come when in spite of all the ceremony's done
But anyhow it's sure to come in eighteen eighty one.

I went to see this family at home the other night
And so I know that all you've heard is absolutely right
They asked me what I thought of it and I thought 'twould be
The question seemed to puzzle them I know it puzzles me
(So I said to them all, 'Well, of course)
It may at any moment on everybody fall
It may come very quickly but it may not come at all
I therefore think it most unwise to let one's fancy run
And think the world is going to end in eighteen eighty one.
 
 
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