(A Legend)

[How many a doctor or architect must own that his professional life consisted of two periods – one in which he was too young to be trusted, the other in which he was too old to be efficient. – Times’ leading article]

Oh, read my melancholy rhyme,

   Peruse my mournful ditty,

Two men there dwelt upon a time

   Within a certain city.

Both were distinctly men of parts,

Well versed in their respective arts.

To fell diseases of the kind

   That everyone who can shuns,

One of this pair had turned his mind,

   The other's forte was mansions.

They were, as you'd no doubt expect,

A doctor and an architect.

The latter, when but twenty-nine,

   Planned a Titanic building,

A house of wonderful design,

   All marble, stone, and gilding.

Said he: "My fortune's made, I wis,

Men can't resist a thing like this."

With eager hope his heart beat high,

   He took his plans up boldly,

And thrust them in the public eye:

   The Public viewed them coldly.

"Pray take that rubbish right away,

You're far too young for us," said they.

The doctor next, a gifted man,

   Whose brain-pan teemed with umption,

Discovered quite a novel plan

   For dealing with consumption,

By treating each consumptive wight

With hard-boiled-eggs last thing at night.

He told the Public of his scheme,

   But met with stern denial.

"Absurd," said they, "We shouldn't dream

   Of giving it a trial.

Apparently you quite forget

That you are barely thirty yet."

The years rolled on. The doctor's schemes

   Soared annually higher.

His fellow-sufferer covered reams

   With plans that found no buyer.

The Public eyed with gentle smiles

These energetic juveniles.

More years rolled on. The hapless pair

   Found life no whit the gayer.

The medico's luxuriant hair

   Grew gradually greyer.

(The architect's was nearly white,

Through sitting up too late at night.)

And then – the Public changed their mood!

   Their hearts began to soften,

They felt the doctor's cures were good –

   (They'd had that feeling often).

They also chanced to recollect

The merits of the architect.

"Come, plan us mansions, bring us pills."

   Their cry no answer rouses.

No one alleviates their ills,

   No one designs them houses.

Upon inquiry it appears

Each has been dead for several years.

First published in Punch, March 11, 1903.