Steam Tongue, The

A scolding wife who has her tongue cut out by her husband has a "steam tongue" fitted with disasterous results


A most wondrous tale I'll now unfold,
Concerning the tongue of a rare old scold,
Who talked to death four husbands bold,
And a fifth to his grave she nearly bowled.
Ri too ral, &c [Note 417.0]

One night as usual she began
To scold her peaceful, poor old man,
Because he'd spoken to Miss Mary Anne,
And picked from the ground her fallen fan.

At last her husband's passion rose,
He fiercely seized her by the nose,
In vain the lady did oppose,
For all her words he gave hard blows.

A thought then struck him how he might,
Get rid of that which plagued his life:
He soon procured a long sharp knife,
And chopped in two the tongue of his wife.

She then resolved without delay,
To have a steam tongue, cost what it may,
And to raise the cash for this to pay,
Made shift with a pint of gin per day! [Note 417.1]

Now when of cash she'd saved enough,
Away she flew to Doctor Puff, [Note 417.2]
Who first took a pinch of pungent snuff(1)
Then a 'patent tongue' in her head did stuff.

Back home she rushed - up stairs she flew,
As fast as her legs would so let her do,
She call'd her lord wretch - a monster too,
And some other bad names, I daren't tell you.

The tongue now work'd with all its might,
The kitten rush'd out of the room in fright,
The man could scarce believe his sight,
But after a rub he found it all right.

With glaring eyes and trembling feet,
He rush'd downstairs and gain'd the street,
Upset a boy with a tray of meat,
And floor'd a cook with a dainty treat.

With lightening's speed she after him ran,
And loudly curs'd the fugitive man;
The neighbours scream'd and their cheeks grew wan,
As steam from her mouth to wiz began.

The tongue in noise did so increase,
That nothing could its might decrease;
So as the nuisance did not cease,
She was soon locked up by the New_Police¹.

When brought before the magistrate,
The tongue jaw'd on at a rapid rate;
Unheard the beak(1), the charge did state,
In vain the judge did expatiate.

The magistrate's patience gave way first,
He stamp'd, he rav'd, he sore, he curs'd;
The beak could have kill'd her if he durst,
When all of a sudden the steam tongue burst!

Head in splinters around, like hail stones flew,
One pierc'd the magistrates nose right through,
Whilst others a great deal more damage did do,
By blinding thee eyes of gents thirty-two.

Of course this kill'd the lady quite,
She wander now a churchyard sprite¹,
And the townsmen say, at the dead of night,
Yearly she shouts with all her might.