Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I just got back from vacation and I spent my vacation at a Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in Gettysburg.  It was wonderful.  I became acquainted with this little story by Gilbert which he published in FUN in 1870.  As is always the case with Gilbert his insights into the human condition and our social system are searing and right on.  This story is no exception - and is posted in dedication to all of those who feel like being right and breaking away is their calling from God (instead of being faithful and working to be vessels of God's healing and inclusive love).  SBD+  Enjoy.....
There was once a Colonial Bishop, whose see was on coast of Africa.

He was an energetic Bishop who laboured nobly, according to his views, and no
man gainsaid him.

In his immediate neighbourhood resided a barbarous tribe, The Tribe of the
Canoodle-Dums. You may have heard of them.

They were idolators.

They were ft simple race, with a primitive religion. They were a
mild and peaceable people, and lived in prefect harmony with one another.

The Bishop said (and very properly), "I will convert these poor benighted

He entered among them and they received him hospitably, He is indebted to them
for teaching him the flavour of ape which, to this day, is always served in
various forms at the episcopal banquets There are few pleasanter dishes than ape
stewed with oysters and port wine. But, on the other hand, he found them but
little prepared to listen to the beauties of the religion he was about to unfold
to them.

He began by entering into conversation with their Chum, or High Priest.

The Bishop learnt from the Chum, or High Priest, the heads of the
Canoodle-Dummers' faith.

He found that at sunrise they were summoned to prayer by the beating of a tom-
tom, or the blowing of it horn.

"It does not matter which," said the Chum.

"How is this?" said the Bishop. "it does net matter which?"

"It does not in the last matter, whether it is tom-tom or a horn," said the
Chum. "Why should it?''

"Oh," said the Bishop, "This is a terrible state of things." And he thought to
himself, "it in useless, just at present, to endeavour to inculcate the beauties
of Christianity. In their present Butte of mind they will not appreciate what I
have to tell them. I will begin by endeavouring to instil a healthier moral
tone, so will they the more readily apprehend the doctrine that I shall then lay
before them."

With the permission of their chief, he summoned the tribe. They
came like lambs.

"Oh, : Canoodle-Dummers," said he, "I am pained to find that you are indifferent
as to whether a tom-tom or horn is used to summon you to your devotions."

"We are quite indifferent," said they, with one voice, "so that we are

"But," said the Bishop, "Observe, if a horn is right, a tom-tom must be wrong.
So, likewise if a tom-tom is right, a horn is out of the question."

"But, why?" said the Canoodle-Dummers.

"Why?" echoed the Bishop, indignantly, "Why, of course!"

"I see," said each Canoodle-Dummer thoughtfully. And the members of the tribe
looked askance at each other, and each edged away from his neighbour.

And the neat day the tribe was divided into two mighty religious factions, those
who stood up for the horn, and those who stood up for the tom-tom.

The Chum, or High Priest, endeavoured, but in vain, to reconcile them.

"Why," said the Chum, "should you quarrel on such a point? You are all good
men. You are all amiable, sufficiently virtuous, tolerably sober, charitable,
and generally well-conducted. You agree on all the vital points of your
religion. Why divide on matters of unimportant detail?"

"Why, indeed! "said the tribe. And the two factions embraced.

"Stop!" said the Bishop, "I am pained beyond measure to see this. What are the
ingredients of a plum pudding to the shape of the mould in which it is boiled?""

"Nothing at all," said the tribe'. And they were again and finally, divided,

The Bishop persevered.
He addressed the Horn Party, and said, "I notice with pain that some
of your horns are long, and some are short. This should not be."

"Which is right?' said the Horn Party.

"I am not of your religion," said the Bishop, "so I cannot undertake to offer an
opinion. But one thing is certain, if one is right the other is wrong."

So the Horn Party was divided into two sects, the Long Horns and the Short
Horns. And the Long Horns hated the Short Horns more than the Horn party hated
the Tom-tom party. And the Short Horns returned the compliment

The Bishop then addressed the Tom-tom party and said, "I am grieved to see that
some of your tom-toms are long and narrow, while others are short and stout. If
it is that a tom-tom should be long and narrow. It is a sin to use those that
are of diametrically opposite form."

And the Tom-tom party were accordingly divided into two sects, the Long and
Narrow Tom-Tom party and the Short and Stout Tom-tom party

And the feud that existed between the Horn party and the Tom-tom party was as
nothing compared to that which raged between the Long and Narrow Tom-tom party and the Short and Stout Tom-tom party.

The Bishop still persevered..

He pointed out in the Long Horn party that same of the long horns were sharp and
some were flat.

So the Long Horn party were subdivided, and became the Sharp Long Horns and the
Flat Long Horns,

He pointed out to the Short Horn Party that some of the short horns were cows'
horns and some were rams' horns.

So, the Short Horn party were subdivided and became the Short Cow Horns and the
Short Rams Horns.

The Bishop still persevered

He pointed out to the Long and Narrow Tom-tom party that some of their long and
narrow tom-toms were headed with the skin of sheep and some with the skin of

So the Long and Narrow Tom-tom party were sub-divided and became the Long and
Narrow Sheepheaded Tom-tom party and the Long and Narrow Pigheaded Tom-tom

He pointed out to the Short and Stout Tom-tom party that some of their short and
stout tom-toms were boxed in with wood and some with iron.

So the Short and Stout Tom-tom party were sub-divided into the Short and Stout
Wooden-boxed Tom-Tom party, and the Short and Stoat Iron-boxed Tom-tom party.

And here the good Bishop took breath and rested. For by this time there was only
one man to each sub-division, and this process of disintegration could he
carried on no further.

Let us hope, however, that he was as successful in converting them to
Christianity, as he was in bringing them to a Christian frame of mind.

By Sir W. S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) Published in "Fun" January
8, 1870. page 115.

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