The Gentlemen of Dickens

Henry Lawson, 1909

      The gentlemen of Dickens
      Were mostly very poor,
      And innocent of grammar,
      And of parentage obscure;
      But rich or poor or thriving,
      Of high or lowly birth,
      The gentlemen of Dickens
      Were the grandest on the earth.

      The gentlemen of Dickens,
      They wore no fancy names,
      Like Reginald or Percy
      Fitzgerald or FitzJames;
      But names for fools to laugh at,
      That sound like hob-nailed boots,
      Like Newman Noggs and Knubbles,
      Toodles and Mr Toots.

      They'd little save their kindness,
      Their honesty and truth;
      They mostly came embarrassed,
      And stammering and uncouth;
      But the gentlemen of Dickens,
      Their women and their girls,
      Could speak their minds if need be
      To ladies and to earls.

      But one who wore a title
      A lesson, too, could teach:
      Lord Feenix, Cousin Feenix
      Of wandering legs and speech.
      O he might teach a lesson
      A gentleman could give,
      Where he stands by his "lovely
      And accomplished relative".

      The gentlemen of Dickens
      Were gamblers now and then
      (And looked upon the ladies,
      No doubt, like other men);
      And some of them were drunkards,
      It cannot be denied;
      But one washed all their sins away
      When Sidney Carton died.

      The gentlemen of Dickens
      Are round us here to-day,
      For their self-sacrificing
      Brave spirits live for aye.
      They cheer my heart and lift it,
      They set my blood aglow,
      For I was once a gentleman,
      Though it was years ago.