Attend my words, my gentle knave,
And you shall learn from me
How boys at dinner may behave
With due propriety.
Guard well your hands: two things have been
Unfitly used by some;
The trencher for a tambourine,
The table for a drum.
We could not lead a pleasant life,
And ‘twould be finished soon,
If peas were eaten with the knife,
And gravy with the spoon.
Eat slowly: only men in rags
And gluttons old in sin
Mistake themselves for carpet bags
And tumble victuals in.
The privy pinch, the whispered tease,
The wild, unseemly yell —
When children do such things as these,
We say, “It is not well.”
Endure your mother’s timely stare,
Your father’s righteous ire,
And do not wriggle on your chair
Like flannel in the fire.
Be silent: you may chatter loud
When you are fully grown,
Surrounded by a silent crowd
Of children of your own.
If you should suddenly feel bored
And much inclined to yawning,
Your little hand will best afford
A modest useful awning.
Think highly of the Cat: and yet
You need not therefore think
That portly strangers like your pet
To share their meat and drink.
The end of dinner comes ere long
When, once more full and free,
You cheerfully may bide the gong
That calls you to your tea.