#02068
The Shabby Genteel (MacEdward Leach)

I have heard it asserted a dozen times o'er
That a man may be happy in rags;
That a prince is no more in his carriage of four
Than a pauper who tramps on the flags.
As I chance to be neither, I cannot describe
What a prince or a pauper may feel;
I belong to that highly respectable tribe
Known as the shabby genteel.

Too proud for to beg, and too honest to steal,
I know what it is to be wanting a meal;
My tatters and rags I will try and conceal,
I am one of the shabby genteel.

I'm a party, in fact, that has known better days,
But their glory is faded and gone;
I have started in life in a lot of odd ways,
But I've not found a way to get on.
There are only three roads, I'm afraid, that are left,
I will have to beg, borrow or steal;
But I don't quite encourage that notion for theft,
Though I'm awfully shabby genteel.

Too proud for to beg, and too honest to steal,
I know what it is to be wanting a meal;
My tatters and rags I will try and conceal,
I am one of the shabby genteel.

I'm dressed in my best, though I cannot pretend
For my costume is too comme il faut;
You'll observe that my watch has been left with a friend,
My gloves are unfitted for show.
I've got traces of wear on my elbows and knees,
My boots are run down at the heels;
But it's cruel to criticize matters like this
When a man has grown shabby genteel.

Too proud for to beg, and too honest to steal,
I know what it is to be wanting a meal;
My tatters and rags I will try and conceal,
I am one of the shabby genteel.

Still I try to be cheerful in all my distress,
To bear my hard luck like a man;
If I can't have my way as to feeding and dress,
I'll still do the best that I can.
Remember, good people, that fortune today,
With one turn of her treacherous wheel,
Can reduce one of you in the very same way.
To the levels of shabby genteel.

####.... Variant of a minstrel comic song composed by Harry Clifton [1832-1872] and published by M Gray (San Francisco) sometime between 1875 and 1878 ....####
Collected in 1951 from Leo J Martin [1906-1985] of Trepassey, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

From the Free Dictionary: Comme il faut - being in accord with conventions or accepted standards; proper.



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