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'Alt! Who Goes There?

by Stanley Holloway (1930)
Illustrations by John Hassall

In t'Army
In t'Army

The colloquial expression "Who do you think you are?" usually means "Why are you being so arrogant?" or "You are being far too presumptious".

In the 7th verse of this poem, Sam's Lancashire translation is "Who'se thee, does tha' suppose?"

This colourful Northern toungue, we find in the poem, is also shared not only by the Duke of Wellington, but also King George IV.

The story ends after the Duke once more picks up the musket for Sam (see Old Sam) and then goes off in search of him.

Stanley Holloway wrote and performed this monologue in 1930.

Old Sam first came to London
When George the Fourth were King,
He'd been in th'Army, man and boy
For twenty year come spring.

The troops were lined up on parade
And Sergeant, says "Eh, Sam,
T'neet tha' goes on sentry-go
At t'Palace, Buckingham."

So off goes Sam to palace gates
His chest puffed out with pride,
With musket on his shoulder
He walks up and down, outside.

A crowd soon thronged around him
And caused a fearful jam -
Some come to look at King and Queen
Some come to look at Sam.

Sam stood there cold and haughty-like
With dignity sublime.
Some asks "Were you at Waterloo?"
And some asks "What's the time?"

When suddenly from out of crowd
A chap walks bold and straight,
He crosses right in front of Sam
And tries to open gate.

Old Sam says "Alt! And who goes there?
Who'se thee does tha' suppose?"
The stranger answers "George the Fourth.
I live in 'ere, tha' knows."

Old Sam says "Does think I'm daft?
Don't try to tell me that.
If thou art King - then where's thee Crown?
Tha'rt wearing bowler hat."

"That's right," says King. "That's right enough,
It's strange to thee no doubt,
But Ah put on bowler hat
'cos it t'were raining when I comes out."

Cuppa char
Cuppa char

"Oh well," said Sam, "Ah suppose you're right
I didn't know t'were thee."
The King says "No offence, me lad,
come in for a cup o' tea."

"I'd like a cup of tea," said Sam,
"Ah don't mind if I do."
The Queen pours cup of tea and says,
"How many lumps, Sam? Two?"

They chatted there for 'alf an hour
When knock come at the door,
The King he goes
And finds the Duke of Wellington there, for sure.

"Good Afternoon," says Duke of Wellington,
"Is Sam with thee?"
"Aye, he is an' all," says King,
"He's having a cup o' tea."

"Well that's a pretty thing," says Duke,
"That's pretty, I declare."
He catches sight of Sam and says,
"Sam, what's thar doing in there?"

Sam comes to door all jumpy like
And red as anything.
"Ah'm doing nothing, Duke," he cries,
"But having tea with King."

"Ah thought as there was summut up,"
The Duke coldly replied,
"Because I see thee musket
Leaning against rails outside."

"Some clumsy chap had knocked it down
It give me quite a scare,
So I stooped down and picked it up
Seeing as thee weren't there."

"You stooped and picked me musket up?" said Sam,
"Well, I declare,
And thee with thy lumbago, too,
I'll bet it made thee swear."

"I'll not wait for second cup," said Sam,
"Ah'll come with thee.
So Goodnight both your Majesties, and long live both your Majesties
And when tha's next in Lancashire, tha's tea's with me."


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