Thomas Hood

Faithless Nelly Gray

A Pathetic Ballad

Ben Battle was a soldier bold,
    And used to war's alarms;
But a cannon-ball took off his legs,
    So he laid down his arms.

Now as they bore him off the field,
    Said he, 'Let others shoot;
For here I leave my second leg,
    And the Forty-second Foot.'

The army-surgeons made him limbs:
    Said he, 'They're only pegs;
But there's as wooden members quite,
    As represent my legs.'

Now Ben he loved a pretty maid, —
    Her name was Nelly Gray;
So he went to pay her his devours,
    When he devoured his pay.

But when he called on Nelly Gray,
    She made him quite a scoff;
And when she saw his wooden legs,
    Began to take them off.

'O Nelly Gray! O Nelly Gray!'
    Is this your love so warm?
The love that loves a scarlet coat
    Should be a little more uniform.

Said she, ' I loved a soldier once,
    For he was blithe and brave;
But I will never have a man
    With both legs in the grave

'Before you had those timber toes
Your love I did allow;
But then, you know, you stand upon
Another footing now.'

'O Nelly Gray! O Nelly Gray!
    For all your jeering speeches,
At duty's call I left my legs
    In Badajos's breaches.'

'Why, then,' said she, 'you've lost the feet
    Of legs in war's alarms,
And now you cannot wear your shoes
    Upon your feats of arms!'

'O false and fickle Nelly Gray!
    I know why you refuse:
Though I've no feet, some other man
    Is standing in my shoes.

'I wish I ne'er had seen your face;
    But, now, a long farewell!
For you will be my death' — alas!
    You will not be my Nell!'

Now when he went from Nelly Gray
    His heart so heavy got,
And life was such a burden grown,
    It made him take a knot.

So round his melancholy neck
    A rope he did intwine,
And, for his second time in life,
    Enlisted in the Line.

One end he tied around a beam,
    And then removed his pegs;
And, as his legs were off -- of course
    He soon was off his legs.

And there he hung till he was dead
    As any nail in town;
For, though distress had cut him up,
    It could not cut him down.

A dozen men sat on his corpse,
    To find out why he died, -- 
And they buried Ben in four cross-roads
    With a stake in his inside.