Bendy's Sermon

A poem by Arthur Conan Doyle

[Bendigo, the well-known Nottingham prize fighter, became converted to religion, and preached at revival meetings throughout the country.]

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 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 he 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 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.

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