The Modern Major-General – W S Gilbert

I am the very pattern of a modern Major-Gineral,
I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral;
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical,
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical;
About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’news.
With interestingt facts about the square of the hypotenuse.
I’m very good at integral and differential calculus,
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous.
In short, in matters vegetable, animal and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-Gineral.

I know out mythic history – King Arthur’s and Sir Caradoc’s,
I answer hard acrostics, I’ve a pretty taste for paradox;
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,
In conics I can floor pecularities parabolous.
I tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies,
I know the croaking chorus from the ‘Frogs’ of Aristophanes;
Then I can hum a fugue, of which I’ve heard the music’s din afore,
And whistle all the airs from that confounded nonsense ‘Pinafore’.
Then I can write a washing-bill in Babylonic cuneiform,
And tell you every detail of Caractacus’s uniform.
In short, in matters vegetable, animal and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-Gineral.

In fact, when I know what is meant by ‘mamelon’ and ‘ravelin’,
When I can tell at sight a Chassepôt rifle from a javelin,
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I’m more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by Commissariat,
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery,
In short, when I’ve a smattering of elementary strategy,
You’ll say a better Major-Gineral has never sat a gee-
For my military knowledge, though I’m plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century.
But still in learning vegetable, animal and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-Gineral!

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