THE BILLS
by J. Hickory Wood Here the reciter gives his celebrated imitation of himself-imitating Sir Henry Irving in his well-known recital of Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Bells". As a rule it is not very like Irving, but it is very good of the reciter-to do it. Before reciting this piece it is desirable to take a few lessons from some professor of elocution, in order that the reciter who fails may have somebody to blame. Here they come! - the Christmas Bills! Awful Bills! And as they come, with blank despair My wretched bosom thrills. How they flutter, flutter, flutter Through the letter-box at door, And my thoughts I dare not utter, Save to groan in voiceless mutter, "Heavens! Are there any more?" And they pour! pour! pour! In the letter-box at door, And they tumble on the floor, As the letter-box it fills Full of Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Note:- The reciter must be careful to say "Bills" seven times exactly, and dwell on each repetition. Here-the year's provision Bills! Butcher's Bills! baker's Bills! And each appalling item gives my spinal column chills. Bacon, bread, and chops and steaks, Legs of lamb and currant cakes; And I try but can't remember, On the fourth of last September Eating thirteen currant cakes. And I try and try again, While the baker sits and gloats. Well he knows 'tis all in vain; Well he knows I keep no notes. Ah! the Bills! Bills! Bills! How they swell, As I dwell On the future! Who can tell? Can I ever?-shall I never Pay those Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Note.:- If the reciter finds difficulty in counting the seven repetitions of "Bills" he may check them off on his fingers. Here-the local plumber's Bills! Brazen Bills! And with an awestruck terror now my wretched bosom thrills. In the dark ear of the night How I shriek with mad affright At the items in the local plumber's Bills! Charging Time! Time! Time! Without reason! without rhyme! Too much horrified to speak I can only shriek and shriek In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the plumber, In a mad expostulation with that fearsome local plumber! Mounting higher! higher! higher! And I have but one desire, And a resolute endeavour, That I'll never pay! no never! Oh! the Bills! Bills! Bills! The discord and the jangling caused by Bills! Oh! the discord and the wrangling, When the Bills come in for mangling! Oh! the fearful rows and rackets Caused by Bills for hats and jackets! And the feathers and the frills! And the Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Note:- If the audience be not exhausted, the reciter may here venture on an extra "Bills." Author's note. - It was here my intention to write a verse about gas bills, but when I tried I found I got too many cubic feet in some of the lines. I have since discovered that this was due to my using a defective metre. Hear the ringing of the Bells! Tradesmen's Bells! Ah! what a world of solemn thought their monody compels! In the chilly winter night How I shiver with affright At the melancholy menace of their tone! And I groan As the butcher and the baker and the coat and waistcoat maker Stand and ring! They are neither brute not human! They are neither man nor woman! Let them ring! But the plumber is the king! And he Rings! Rings! Rings! Rings! The back and front door bells, And his merry bosom swells, Charging Time! Time! Time! Without reason, without rhyme! Time for calling for his Bills! For his unreceipted Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills! Bills!
The end