It is the Police Commissioners,
All on a winter's day;
And they to prove the town water
Have set themselves away.
They went to the north, they went to the south,
And into the west went they,
Till they found a civil, civil engineer,
And unto him did say:
'Now tell to us, thou civil engineer,
If this be fit to drink.'
And they showed him a cup of the town water,
Which was as black as ink.
He took three sips of the town water,
And black in the face was he;
And they turned them back and fled away,
Amazed that this should be.
And he has written a broad letter
And sealed it with a ring,
And the letter saith that the town water
Is not a goodly thing.
And they have met, and the Bailies all,
And eke the Councillors,
And they have ta'en the broad letter
And read it within the doors.
And there has fallen a great quarrel,
And a striving within the doors,
And quarrelsome words have the Bailies said,
And eke the Councillors.
And one saith, 'We will have other water,'
And another saith, 'But nay;'
And none may tell what the end shall be,
Alack and well-a-day!