Bendy's Sermon

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Bendy's Sermon  (1909) 
by Arthur Conan Doyle
This poem was part of Doyle's Songs of the Road. It originally appeared with 4 illustrations in Strand Magazine for April 1909, pp 420-4, and was reprinted in a manuscript facsimile in the first volume of A. J. Gough's Everybody's Weekly, 15 April 1911, p. 206. A separate edition of this poem as "Bendigo's Sermon" was published by Ishmael Wilson & Son in 1929.

You didn't know of Bendigo! Well, that
knocks me out!
Who's your board school teacher? What's
he been about?

Chock-a-block with fairy-tales — full of
useless cram,
And never heard o' Bendigo, the pride of
Nottingham!

Bendy's short for Bendigo. You should
see him peel!
Half of him was whalebone, half of him
was steel,

Fightin' weight eleven ten, five foot nine
in height,
Always ready to oblige if you want a
fight.

I could talk of Bendigo from here to king-
dom come,
I guess before I ended you would wish your v dad was dumb.

I'd tell you how he fought Ben Caunt, and
how the deaf 'un fell,
But the game is done, and the men are
gone — and maybe it's as well.

Bendy he turned Methodist—he said h e
felt a call,
He stumped the country preachin' and you
bet he filled the hall,

If you seed him in the pulpit, a-bleatin'
like a lamb,
You'd never know bold Bendigo, the
pride of Nottingham.

His hat was like a funeral, he'd got a
waiter's coat,
With a hallelujah collar and a choker round
his throat,

His pals would laugh and say in chaff that
Bendigo was right,
In takin' on the devil, since he'd no one
else to fight.

But he was very earnest, improvin' day by
day,
A-workin' and a-preachin' just as his duty
lay,

But the devil he was waitin', and in the
final bout,
He hit him hard below his guard and
knocked poor Bendy out.

Now I'll tell you how it happened. He
was preachin' down at Brum,
He was billed just like a circus, you should
see the people come,

The chapel it was crowded, and in the fore-
most row,
There was half a dozen bruisers who'd a
grudge at Bendigo.

There was Tommy Piatt of Bradford,

Solly Jones of Perry Bar,

Long Connor from the Bull Ring, the v same wot drew with Carr,

Jack Ball the fightin gunsmith, Joe Mur-
phy from the Mews,
And Iky Moss, the bettin' boss, the
Champion of the Jews.

A very pretty handful a-sittin' in a
string,
Full of beer and impudence, ripe for any-
thing,

Sittin' in a string there, right under
Bendy's nose,
If his message was for sinners, he could
make a start on those.

Soon he heard them chaflin'; "Hi, Bendy!
Here's a go!"
"How much are you coppin' by this Jump
to Glory show?"

"Stow it, Bendy! Left the ring! Mighty
spry of you!
Didn't everybody know the ring was
leavin' you."

Bendy fairly sweated as he stood above
and prayed,
"Look down, O Lord, and grip me with
a strangle hold!" he said.

"Fix me with a strangle hold! Put a stop
on me!
I'm slippin', Lord, I'm slippin' and I'm
clingin' hard to Thee!"

But the roughs they kept on chaffin' and
the uproar it was such
That the preacher in the pulpit might be
talkin' double Dutch,

Till a workin' man he shouted out, a-
jumpin' to his feet,
"Give us a lead, your reverence, and heave
'em in the street."

Then Bendy said, "Good Lord, since
first I left my sinful ways,
Thou knowest that to Thee alone I've
given up my days,

But now, dear Lord"—and here he laid his
Bible on the shelf—
"I'll take, with your permission, just five
minutes for myself."

He vaulted from the pulpit like a tiger
from a den,
They say it was a lovely sight to see him
floor his men;

Right and left, and left and right, straight
and true and hard,
Till the Ebenezer Chapel looked more like
a knacker's yard.

Platt was standin' on his back and lookup
at his toes,
Solly Jones of Perry Bar was feelin' for
his nose,

Connor of the Bull Ring had all that he
could do
Rakin' for his ivories that lay about the
pew.

Jack Ball the fightin' gunsmith was in a
peaceful sleep,
Joe Murphy lay across him, all tied up
in a heap,

Five of them was twisted in a tangle on
the floor,
And Iky Moss, the bettin' boss, had
sprinted for the door.

Five repentant fightin' men, sitting in a
row,
Listenin' to words of grace from Mister
Bendigo,

Listenin' to his reverence — all as good
as gold,
Pretty little baa-lambs, gathered to the
fold.

So that's the way that Bendy ran his
mission in the slum,
And preached the Holy Gospel to the
fightin' men of Brum,

"The Lord," said he, "has given me His
message from on high,
And if you interrupt Him, I will know
the reason why."

But to think of all your schooling clean
wasted, thrown away,
Darned if I can make out what you're
learnin' all the day,

Grubbin' up old fairy-tales, fillin' up with
cram,
And didn't know of Bendigo, the pride
of Nottingham.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1930, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.