Collections and Recollections
by George William Erskine Russell
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As Royalty emerges from infancy and boyhood into the vulgar and artificial atmosphere of the grown-up world, it is daily and hourly exposed to such sycophancy that Royal persons acquire, quite unconsciously, a habit of regarding every subject in heaven and earth in its relation to themselves. An amusing instance of this occurred a few years ago on an occasion when one of our most popular Princesses expressed a gracious wish to present a very smart young gentleman to the Queen. This young man had a remarkably good opinion of himself; was the eldest son of a peer, and a Member of Parliament; and it happened that he was also related to a lady who belonged to one of the Royal Households. So the Princess led the young exquisite to the august presence, and then sweetly said, "I present Mr. ——, who is"—not Lord Blank's eldest son or Member for Loamshire, but—"nephew to dear Aunt Cambridge's lady." My young friend told me that he had never till that moment realized how completely he lacked a position of his own in the universe of created being.


[26] June 20-27, 1897.

[27] All this is now ancient history. 1903.



Archbishop Tait wrote on the 11th of February 1877: "Attended this week the opening of Parliament, the Queen being present, and wearing for the first time, some one says, her crown as Empress of India. Lord Beaconsfield was on her left side, holding aloft the Sword of State. At five the House again was crammed to see him take his seat; and Slingsby Bethell, equal to the occasion, read aloud the writ in very distinct tones. All seemed to be founded on the model, 'What shall be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour?'"

Je ne suis pas la rose, mais j'ai vecu pres d'elle. For the last month[28] our thoughts have been fixed upon the Queen to the exclusion of all else; but now the regal splendours of the Jubilee have faded. The majestic theme is, in fact, exhausted; and we turn, by a natural transition, from the Royal Rose to its subservient primrose; from the wisest of Sovereigns to the wiliest of Premiers; from the character, habits, and life of the Queen to the personality of that extraordinary child of Israel who, though he was not the Rose, lived uncommonly near it; and who, more than any other Minister before or since his day, contrived to identify himself in the public view with the Crown itself. There is nothing invidious in this use of a racial term. It was one of Lord Beaconsfield's finest qualities that he laboured all through his life to make his race glorious and admired. To a Jewish boy—a friend of my own—who was presented to him in his old age he said: "You and I belong to a race which knows how to do everything but fail."

Is Lord Beaconsfield's biography ever to be given to the world? Not in our time, at any rate, if we may judge by the signs. Perhaps Lord Rowton finds it more convenient to live on the vague but splendid anticipations of future success than on the admitted and definite failure of a too cautious book. Perhaps he finds his personal dignity enhanced by those mysterious flittings to Windsor and Osborne, where he is understood to be comparing manuscripts and revising proofs with an Illustrious Personage. But there is the less occasion to lament Lord Rowton's tardiness, because we already possess Mr. Froude's admirable monograph on Lord Beaconsfield in the series of The Queen's Prime Ministers, and an extremely clear-sighted account of his relations with the Crown in Mr. Reginald Brett's Yoke of Empire.

My present purpose is not controversial. I do not intend to estimate the soundness of Lord Beaconsfield's opinions or the permanent value of his political work. It is enough to recall what the last German Ambassador—Count Muenster—told me, and what, in a curtailed form, has been so often quoted. Prince Bismarck said, "I think nothing of their Lord Salisbury. He is only a lath painted to look like iron. But that old Jew means business." This is merely a parenthesis. I am at present concerned only with Lord Beaconsfield's personal traits. When I first encountered him he was already an old man. He had left far behind those wonderful days of the black velvet dress-coat lined with white satin, the "gorgeous gold flowers on a splendidly embroidered waistcoat," the jewelled rings worn outside the white gloves, the evening cane of ivory inlaid with gold and adorned with a tassel of black silk. "We were none of us fools," said one of his most brilliant contemporaries, "and each man talked his best; but we all agreed that the cleverest fellow in the party was the young Jew in the green velvet trousers." Considerably in the background, too, were the grotesque performances of his rural life, when, making up for the character of a country gentleman, he "rode an Arabian mare for thirty miles across country without stopping," attended Quarter Sessions in drab breeches and gaiters, and wandered about the lanes round Hughenden pecking up primroses with a spud.

When I first saw Mr. Disraeli, as he then was, all these follies were matters of ancient history. They had played their part, and were discarded. He was dressed much like other gentlemen of the 'Sixties—in a black frock coat, gray or drab trousers, a waistcoat cut rather low, and a black cravat which went once round the neck and was tied in a loose bow. In the country his costume was a little more adventurous. A black velveteen jacket, a white waistcoat, a Tyrolese hat, lent picturesque incident and variety to his appearance. But the brilliant colours were reserved for public occasions. I never saw him look better than in his peer's robes of scarlet and ermine when he took his seat in the House of Lords, or more amazing than when, tightly buttoned up in the Privy Councillor's uniform of blue and gold, he stood in the "general circle" at the Drawing-room or Levee. In his second Administration he looked extraordinarily old. His form was shrunk, and his face of a death-like pallor. Ever since an illness in early manhood he had always dyed his hair, and the contrast between the artificial blackness and the natural paleness was extremely startling. The one sign of vitality which his appearance presented was the brilliancy of his dark eyes, which still flashed with penetrating lustre.

The immense powers of conversation of which we read so much in his early days, when he "talked like a racehorse approaching the winning post," and held the whole company spellbound by his tropical eloquence, had utterly vanished. He seemed, as he was, habitually oppressed by illness or discomfort. He sat for hours together in moody silence. When he opened his lips it was to pay an elaborate (and sometimes misplaced) compliment to a lady, or to utter an epigrammatic judgment on men or books, which recalled the conversational triumphs of his prime. Skill in phrase-making was perhaps the literary gift which he most admired. In a conversation with Mr. Matthew Arnold shortly before his death he said, with a touch of pathos, "You are a fortunate man. The young men read you; they no longer read me. And you have invented phrases which every one quotes—such as 'Philistinism' and 'Sweetness and Light.'" It was a characteristic compliment, for he dearly loved a good phrase. From the necessities of his position as a fighting politician, his own best performances in that line were sarcasms; and indeed sarcasm was the gift in which from first to last, in public and in private, in writing and in speaking, he peculiarly excelled. To recall the instances would be to rewrite his political novels and to transcribe those attacks on Sir Robert Peel which made his fame and fortune.

It was my good fortune when quite a boy to be present at the debates in the House of Commons on the Tory Reform Bill of 1867. Never were Mr. Disraeli's gifts of sarcasm, satire, and ridicule so richly displayed, and never did they find so responsive a subject as Mr. Gladstone. As schoolboys say, "he rose freely." The Bill was read a second time without a division, but in Committee the fun waxed fast and furious, and was marked by the liveliest encounters between the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition. At the conclusion of one of these passages of arms Mr. Disraeli gravely congratulated himself on having such a substantial piece of furniture as the table of the House between himself and his energetic opponent. In May 1867 Lord Houghton writes thus: "I met Gladstone at breakfast. He seems quite awed with the diabolical cleverness of Dizzy, who, he says, is gradually driving all ideas of political honour out of the House, and accustoming it to the most revolting cynicism." Was it cynicism, or some related but more agreeable quality, which suggested Mr. Disraeli's reply to the wealthy manufacturer, newly arrived in the House of Commons, who complimented him on his novels? "I can't say I've read them myself. Novels are not in my line. But my daughters tell me they are uncommonly good." "Ah," said the Leader of the House, in his deepest note, "this, indeed, is fame." The mention of novels reminds me of a story which I heard twenty years ago; when Mr. Mallock produced his first book—the admirable New Republic. A lady who was his constant friend and benefactress begged Lord Beaconsfield to read the book and say something civil about it. The Prime Minister replied with a groan, "Ask me anything, dear lady, except this. I am an old man. Do not make me read your young friend's romances." "Oh, but he would be a great accession to the Tory party, and a civil word from you would secure him for ever." "Oh—well, then, give me a pen and a sheet of paper," and sitting down in the lady's drawing-room, he wrote: "Dear Mrs.——,—I am sorry that I cannot dine with you, but I am going down to Hughenden for a week. Would that my solitude could be peopled by the bright creations of Mr. Mallock's fancy!" "Will that do for your young friend?" Surely, as an appreciation of a book which one has not read, this is absolutely perfect.

When Lord Beaconsfield was driven from office by the General Election of 1880, one of his supporters in the House of Commons begged a great favour—"May I bring my boy to see you, and will you give him some word of counsel which he may treasure all his life as the utterance of the greatest Englishman who ever lived?" Lord Beaconsfield groaned, but consented. On the appointed day the proud father presented himself with his young hopeful in Lord Beaconsfield's presence. "My dear young friend," said the statesman, "your good papa has asked me to give you a word of counsel which may serve you all your life. Never ask who wrote the Letters of Junius, or on which side of Whitehall Charles I. was beheaded; for if you do you will be considered a bore—and that is something too dreadful for you at your tender age to understand." For these last two stories I by no means vouch. They belong to the flotsam and jetsam of ephemeral gossip. But the following, which I regard as eminently characteristic, I had from Lord Randolph Churchill.

Towards the end of Lord Beaconsfield's second Premiership a younger politician asked the Premier to dinner. It was a domestic event of the first importance, and no pains were spared to make the entertainment a success. When the ladies retired, the host came and sat where the hostess had been, next to his distinguished guest. "Will you have some more claret, Lord Beaconsfield?" "No, thank you, my dear fellow. It is admirable wine—true Falernian—but I have already exceeded my prescribed quantity, and the gout holds me in its horrid clutch." When the party had broken up, the host and hostess were talking it over. "I think the chief enjoyed himself," said the host, "and I know he liked his claret." "Claret!" exclaimed the hostess; "why, he drank brandy-and-water all dinner-time."

I said in an earlier paragraph that Lord Beaconsfield's flattery was sometimes misplaced. An instance recurs to my recollection. He was staying in a country house where the whole party was Conservative with the exception of one rather plain, elderly lady, who belonged to a great Whig family. The Tory leader was holding forth on politics to an admiring circle when the Whig lady came into the room. Pausing in his conversation, Lord Beaconsfield exclaimed, in his most histrionic manner, "But hush! We must not continue these Tory heresies until those pretty little ears have been covered up with those pretty little hands"—a strange remark under any circumstances, and stranger still if, as his friends believed, it was honestly intended as an acceptable compliment.

Mr. Brett, who shows a curious sympathy with the personal character of Lord Beaconsfield, acquits him of the charge of flattery, and quotes his own description of his method: "I never contradict; I never deny; but I sometimes forget." On the other hand, it has always been asserted by those who had the best opportunities of personal observation that Lord Beaconsfield succeeded in converting the dislike with which he had once been regarded in the highest quarters into admiration and even affection, by his elaborate and studied acquiescence in every claim, social or political, of Royalty, and by his unflagging perseverance in the art of flattery. He was a courtier, not by descent or breeding, but by genius. What could be more skilful than the inclusion of Leaves from the Journal of our Life in the Highlands with Coningsby and Sybil in the phrase "We authors"?—than his grave declaration, "Your Majesty is the head of the literary profession"?—than his announcement at the dinner-table at Windsor, with reference to some disputed point of regal genealogy, "We are in the presence of probably the only Person in Europe who could tell us"? In the last year of his life he said to Mr. Matthew Arnold, in a strange burst of confidence which showed how completely he realized that his fall from power was final, "You have heard me accused of being a flatterer. It is true. I am a flatterer. I have found it useful. Every one likes flattery: and when you come to Royalty you should lay it on with a trowel." In this business Lord Beaconsfield excelled. Once, sitting at dinner by the Princess of Wales, he was trying to cut a hard dinner-roll. The knife slipped and cut his finger, which the Princess, with her natural grace, instantly wrapped up in her handkerchief. The old gentleman gave a dramatic groan, and exclaimed, "When I asked for bread they gave me a stone; but I had a Princess to bind my wounds."

The atmosphere of a Court naturally suited him, and he had a quaint trick of transferring the grandiose nomenclature of palaces to his own very modest domain of Hughenden. He called his simple drawing-room the Saloon; he styled his pond the Lake; he expatiated on the beauties of the terrace walks, and the "Golden Gate," and the "German Forest." His style of entertaining was more showy than comfortable. Nothing could excel the grandeur of his state coach and powdered footmen; but when the ice at dessert came up melting, one of his friends exclaimed, "At last, my dear Dizzy, we have got something hot;" and in the days when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer some critical guest remarked of the soup that it was apparently made with Deferred Stock. When Lady Beaconsfield died he sent for his agent and said, "I desire that her Ladyship's remains should be borne to the grave by the tenants of the estate." Presently the agent came back with a troubled countenance and said, "I regret to say there are not tenants enough to carry a coffin."

Lord Beaconsfield's last years were tormented by a bronchial asthma of gouty origin, against which he fought with tenacious and uncomplaining courage. The last six weeks of his life, described all too graphically by Dr. Kidd in an article in the Nineteenth Century, were a hand-to-hand struggle with death. Every day the end was expected, and his compatriot, companion, and so-called friend, Bernal Osborne, found it in his heart to remark, "Ah, overdoing it—as he always overdid everything."

For my own part, I never was numbered among Lord Beaconsfield's friends, and I regarded the Imperialistic and pro-Turkish policy of his latter days with an equal measure of indignation and contempt. But I place his political novels among the masterpieces of Victorian literature, and I have a sneaking affection for the man who wrote the following passage: "We live in an age when to be young and to be indifferent can be no longer synonymous. We must prepare for the coming hour. The claims of the Future are represented by suffering millions, and the Youth of a Nation are the Trustees of Posterity."


[28] June 1897.



Can a flatterer be flattered? Does he instinctively recognize the commodity in which he deals? And if he does so recognize it, does he enjoy or dislike the application of it to his own case? These questions are suggested to my mind by the ungrudging tributes paid in my last chapter to Lord Beaconsfield's pre-eminence in the art of flattery.

"Supreme of heroes, bravest, noblest, best!"

No one else ever flattered so long and so much, so boldly and so persistently, so skilfully and with such success. And it so happened that at the very crisis of his romantic career he became the subject of an act of flattery quite as daring as any of his own performances in the same line, and one which was attended with diplomatic consequences of great pith and moment.

It fell out on this wise. When the Congress of the Powers assembled at Berlin in the summer of 1878, our Ambassador in that city of stucco palaces was the loved and lamented Lord Odo Russell, afterwards Lord Ampthill, a born diplomatist if ever there was one, with a suavity and affectionateness of manner and a charm of voice which would have enabled him, in homely phrase, to whistle the bird off the bough. On the evening before the formal opening of the Congress Lord Beaconsfield arrived in all his plenipotentiary glory, and was received with high honours at the British Embassy. In the course of the evening one of his private secretaries came to Lord Odo Russell and said, "Lord Odo, we are in a frightful mess, and we can only turn to you to help us out of it. The old chief has determined to open the proceedings of the Congress in French. He has written out the devil's own long speech in French and learnt it by heart, and is going to fire it off at the Congress to-morrow. We shall be the laughing-stock of Europe. He pronounces epicier as if it rhymed with overseer, and all his pronunciation is to match. It is as much as our places are worth to tell him so. Can you help us?" Lord Odo listened with amused good humour to this tale of woe, and then replied: "It is a very delicate mission that you ask me to undertake, but then I am fond of delicate missions. I will see what I can do." And so he repaired to the state bedroom, where our venerable Plenipotentiary was beginning those elaborate processes of the toilet with which he prepared for the couch. "My dear Lord," began Lord Odo, "a dreadful rumour has reached us." "Indeed! Pray what is it?" "We have heard that you intend to open the proceedings to-morrow in French." "Well, Lord Odo, what of that?" "Why, of course, we all know that there is no one in Europe more competent to do so than yourself. But then, after all, to make a French speech is a commonplace accomplishment. There will be at least half a dozen men at the Congress who could do it almost, if not quite, as well as yourself. But, on the other hand, who but you can make an English speech? All these Plenipotentiaries have come from the various Courts of Europe expecting the greatest intellectual treat of their lives in hearing English spoken by its greatest living master. The question for you, my dear Lord, is—Will you disappoint them?" Lord Beaconsfield put his glass in his eye, fixed his gaze on Lord Odo, and then said, "There is much force in what you say. I will consider the point." And next day he opened the proceedings in English. Now the psychological conundrum is this—Did he swallow the flattery, and honestly believe that the object of Lord Odo's appeal was to secure the pleasure of hearing him speak English? Or did he see through the manoeuvre, and recognize a polite intimation that a French speech from him would throw an air of comedy over all the proceedings of the Congress, and perhaps kill it with ridicule? The problem is well fitted to be made the subject of a Prize Essay; but personally I incline to believe that he saw through the manoeuvre and acted on the hint. If this be the true reading of the case, the answer to my opening question is that the flatterer cannot be flattered.

We saw in my last chapter how careful Lord Beaconsfield was, in the great days of his political struggles, to flatter every one who came within his reach. To the same effect is the story that when he was accosted by any one who claimed acquaintance but whose face he had forgotten he always used to inquire, in a tone of affectionate solicitude, "And how is the old complaint?" But when he grew older, and had attained the highest objects of his political ambition, these little arts, having served their purpose, were discarded, like the green velvet trousers and tasselled canes of his aspiring youth. There was no more use for them, and they were dropped. He manifested less and less of the apostolic virtue of suffering bores gladly, and though always delightful to his intimate friends, he was less and less inclined to curry favour with mere acquaintances. A characteristic instance of this latter manner has been given to the world in a book of chit-chat by a prosy gentleman whose name it would be unkind to recall.

This worthy soul narrates with artless candour that towards the end of Lord Beaconsfield's second Administration he had the honour of dining with the great man, whose political follower he was, at the Premier's official residence in Downing Street. When he arrived he found his host looking ghastly ill, and apparently incapable of speech. He made some commonplace remark about the weather or the House, and the only reply was a dismal groan. A second remark was similarly received, and the visitor then abandoned the attempt in despair. "I felt he would not survive the night. Within a quarter of an hour, all being seated at dinner, I observed him talking to the Austrian Ambassador with extreme vivacity. During the whole of dinner their conversation was kept up; I saw no sign of flagging. This is difficult to account for." And the worthy man goes on to theorize about the cause, and suggests that Lord Beaconsfield was in the habit of taking doses of opium which were so timed that their effect passed off at a certain moment!

This freedom from self-knowledge which bores enjoy is one of their most striking characteristics. One of the principal clubs in London has the misfortune to be frequented by a gentleman who is by common consent the greatest bore and buttonholer in London. He always reminds me of the philosopher described by Sir George Trevelyan, who used to wander about asking, "Why are we created? Whither do we tend? Have we an inner consciousness?" till all his friends, when they saw him from afar, used to exclaim, "Why was Tompkins created? Is he tending this way? Has he an inner consciousness that he is a bore?"

Well, a few years ago this good man, on his return from his autumn holiday, was telling all his acquaintances at the club that he had been occupying a house at the Lakes not far from Mr. Ruskin, who, he added, was in a very melancholy state, "I am truly sorry for that," said one of his hearers. "What is the matter with him?" "Well," replied the buttonholer, "I was walking one day in the lane which separated Ruskin's house from mine, and I saw him coming down the lane towards me. The moment he caught sight of me he darted into a wood which was close by, and hid behind a tree till I had passed. Oh, very sad indeed." But the truly pathetic part of it was one's consciousness that what Mr. Ruskin did we should all have done, and that not all the trees in Birnam Wood and the Forest of Arden combined would have hidden the multitude of brother-clubmen who sought to avoid the narrator.

The faculty of boring belongs, unhappily, to no one period of life. Age cannot wither it, nor custom stale its infinite variety. Middle life is its heyday. Perhaps infancy is free from it, but I strongly suspect that it is a form of original sin, and shows itself very early. Boys are notoriously rich in it; with them it takes two forms—the loquacious and the awkward; and in some exceptionally favoured cases the two forms are combined. I once was talking with an eminent educationist about the characteristic qualities produced by various Public Schools, and when I asked him what Harrow produced he replied, "A certain shy bumptiousness." It was a judgment which wrung my Harrovian withers, but of which I could not dispute the truth.

One of the forms which shyness takes in boyhood is an inability to get up and go. When Dr. Vaughan was Head Master of Harrow, and had to entertain his boys at breakfast, this inability was frequently manifested, and was met by the Doctor in a most characteristic fashion. When the muffins and sausages had been devoured, the perfunctory inquiries about the health of "your people" made and answered, and all permissible school topics discussed, there used to ensue a horrid silence, while "Dr. Blimber's young friends" sat tightly glued to their chairs. Then the Doctor would approach with Agag-like delicacy, and, extending his hand to the shyest and most loutish boy, would say, "Must you go? Can't you stay?" and the party broke up with magical celerity. Such, at least, was our Harrovian tradition.

Nothing is so refreshing to a jaded sense of humour as to be the recipient of one of your own stories retold with appreciative fervour but with all the point left out. This was my experience not long ago with reference to the story of Dr. Vaughan and his boy-bores which I have just related. A Dissenting minister was telling me, with extreme satisfaction, that he had a son at Trinity College, Cambridge. He went on to praise the Master, Dr. Butler, whom he extolled to the skies, winding up his eulogy with, "He has such wonderful tact in dealing with shy undergraduates." I began to scent my old story from afar, but held my peace and awaited results. "You know," he continued, "that young men are sometimes a little awkward about making a move and going away when a party is over. Well, when Dr. Butler has undergraduates to breakfast, if they linger inconveniently long when he wants to be busy, he has such a happy knack of getting rid of them. It is so tactful, so like him. He goes up to one of them and says, 'Can't you go? Must you stay?' and they are off immediately." So, as Macaulay says of Montgomery's literary thefts, may such ill-got gains ever prosper.

My Dissenting minister had a congener in the late Lord P——, who was a rollicking man about town thirty years ago, and was famous, among other accomplishments, for this peculiar art of so telling a story as to destroy the point. When the large house at Albert Gate, which fronts the French Embassy and is now the abode of Mr. Arthur Sassoon, was built, its size and cost were regarded as prohibitive, and some social wag christened it "Gibraltar, because it can never be taken." Lord P—— thought that this must be an excellent joke, because every one laughed at it; and so he ran round the town saying to each man he met—"I say, do you know what they call that big house at Albert Gate? They call it Gibraltar, because it can never be let. Isn't that awfully good?" We all remember an innocent riddle of our childhood—"Why was the elephant the last animal to get into the Ark?"—to which the answer was, "Because he had to pack his trunk." Lord P—asked the riddle, and gave as the answer, "Because he had to pack his portmanteau," and was beyond measure astonished when his hearers did not join in his uproarious laughter. Poor Lord P—! he was a fellow of infinite jest, though not always exactly in the sense that he intended. If he had only known of it, he might with advantage have resorted to the conversational device of old Samuel Rogers, who, when he told a story which failed to produce a laugh, used to observe in a reflective tone, "The curious part of that story is that stupid people never see the point of it," and then loud, though belated, guffaws resounded round the table.



Lately, when hunting for some notes which I had mislaid, I came upon a collection of Advertisements. No branch of literature is more suggestive of philosophical reflections. I take my specimens quite at random, just as they turn up in my diary, and the first which meets my eye is printed on the sad sea-green of the Westminster Gazette:

"GUARDIAN, whose late ward merits the highest encomiums, seeks for him the POSITION of SECRETARY to a Nobleman or Lady of Position: one with literary tastes preferred: the young gentleman is highly connected, distinguished-looking, a lover of books, remarkably steady, and exceptionally well read, clever and ambitious: has travelled much: good linguist, photographer, musician: a moderate fortune, but debarred by timidity from competitive examination."

I have always longed to know the fate of this lucky youth. Few of us can boast of even "a moderate fortune," and fewer still of such an additional combination of gifts, graces, and accomplishments. On the other hand, most of us, at one time or another in our career, have felt "debarred by timidity from competitive examination." But, unluckily, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and college dons who forced us to face the agonies of the Schools, instead of an amiable guardian who bestowed on us "the highest encomiums," and sought to plant us on Ladies of Position, "with literary tastes preferred."

Another case, presenting some points of resemblance to the last, but far less favoured by fortune, was notified to the compassionate world by the Morning Post in 1889:—

"Will any rich person TAKE a gentleman and BOARD him? Of good family: age 27: good musician: thoroughly conversant with all office-work: no objection to turn Jew: lost his money through dishonest trustee: excellent writer."

I earnestly hope that this poor victim of fraud has long since found his desired haven in some comfortable Hebrew home, where he can exercise his skill in writing and office-work during the day and display his musical accomplishments after the family supper. I have known not a few young Gentiles who would be glad to be adopted on similar terms.

The next is extracted from the Manchester Guardian of 1894:—

"A Child of God, seeking employment, would like to take charge of property and collect rents; has a slight knowledge of architecture and sanitary; can give unexceptionable references; age 31; married."

What offers? Very few, I should fear, in a community so shrewdly commercial as Manchester, where, I understand, religious profession is seldom taken as a substitute for technical training. The mention of that famous city reminds me that not long ago I was describing Chetham College to an ignorant outsider, who, not realizing how the name was spelt, observed that it sounded as if Mr. Squeers had been caught by the Oxford Movement and the Gothic Revival, and had sought to give an ecclesiastical air to his famous seminary of Dotheboys Hall by transforming it into "Cheat'em College."

That immortal pedagogue owed much of his deserved success to his skill in the art of drawing an advertisement:—

"At Mr. Wackford Squeers's Academy, Dotheboys Hall, at the delightful village of Dotheboys, near Greta Bridge, in Yorkshire, Youth are boarded, clothed, booked, furnished with pocket-money, provided with all necessaries, instructed in all languages, living and dead, mathematics, orthography, geometry, astronomy, trigonometry, the use of the globes, algebra, singlestick (if required), writing, arithmetic, fortification, and every other branch of classical literature. Terms, twenty guineas per annum. No extras, no vacations, and diet unparalleled."

Now, mark what follows. Wackford Squeers the younger was, as we all know, destined by his parents to follow the schoolmaster's profession, to assist his father as long as assistance was required, and then to take the management of the Hall and its pupils into his own hands. "Am I to take care of the school when I grow up a man, father?" said Wackford junior. "You are, my son," replied Mr. Squeers in a sentimental voice. "Oh, my eye, won't I give it to the boys!" exclaimed the interesting child, grasping his father's cane—"won't I make 'em squeak again!" But we know also that, owing to the pressure of pecuniary and legal difficulties, and the ill-timed interference of Mr. John Browdie, the school at Dotheboys Hall was at any rate temporarily broken up. So far we have authentic records to rely on; the remainder is pure conjecture. But I am persuaded that Wackford Squeers the younger, with all the dogged perseverance of a true Yorkshireman, struggled manfully against misfortune; resolved to make a home for his parents and sister; and, as soon as he could raise the needful capital, opened a private school in the South of England, as far as possible from the scene of earlier misfortune. Making due allowance for change of time and circumstances, I trace a close similarity of substance and style between the advertisement which I quoted above and that which I give below, and I feel persuaded that young Wackford inherited from his more famous father this peculiar power of attracting parental confidence by means of picturesque statement. We have read the earlier manifesto; let us now compare the later:—

"Vacancies now occur in the establishment of a gentleman who undertakes the care and education of a few backward boys, who are beguiled and trained to study by kind discipline, without the least severity (which too often frustrates the end desired). Situation extremely healthy. Sea and country air; deep gravelly soil. Christian gentility assiduously cultivated on sound Church principles. Diet unsurpassed. Wardrobes carefully preserved. The course of instruction comprises English, classics, mathematics, and science. Inclusive terms, 30 guineas per annum, quarterly in advance. Music, drawing, and modern languages are extras, but moderate. Address————, Chichester." Was it Vivian Grey or Pelham who was educated at a private school where "the only extras were pure milk and the guitar"?

I believe that there is no charitable institution which more thoroughly deserves support than the Metropolitan Association for Befriending Young Servants, affectionately contracted by its supporters into the "MABYS." Here is one of its advertisements, from which, I am bound to say, the alluring skill displayed by Mr. Squeers is curiously absent:—

"Will any one undertake as SERVANT a bright, clean, neat girl, who is deceitful, lazy, and inclined to be dishonest? Address, Hon. Secretary, M.A.B.Y.S., 21 Charlotte Street, S.E."

I remember some years ago an advertisement which sought a kind master and a pleasant home for a large, savage dog; and I remember how admirably Punch described the kind of life which the "large, savage dog" would lead the "kind master" when he got him. But really the vision of a bright maid-servant who is "deceitful, lazy, and inclined to be dishonest," and the havoc which she might work in a well-ordered household, is scarcely less appalling. A much more deserving case is this which I append:—

"Under-Housekeeper, under-Matron, desired by a Young Woman, age 22. Energetic, domesticated. Great misfortune in losing right arm, but good artificial one. Happy home, with small remuneration."

It is not, I fear, in my power to make a contribution of permanent value to the "Great Servant Question." But, having given instances of insufficient qualification in people seeking to be employed, I now turn to the opposite side of the account, and, after perusing what follows, would respectfully ask, Who is sufficient for these things?

"Can any lady or gentleman recommend a MAN and WIFE (Church of England)? Man useful indoors and out. Principal duties large flower-garden, small conservatory, draw bath-chair, must wait at table, understand lamps, non-smoker, wear dress suit except in garden. Clothes and beer not found. Family, lady and child, lady-help. House-parlourmaid kept. Must not object to small bedroom. Wife plain cook (good), to undertake kitchen offices, dining-room, and hall (wash clothes). Joint wages L50, all found."

Now there is really a study in exacting eccentricity which Thackeray might have made the subject of a "Roundabout Paper." In the first place, the two servants must be man and wife—unmarried people need not apply—and yet they must be contented with a small bedroom. The family consists of a lady (apparently an invalid), a child, a lady-help, and a house-parlourmaid. For these the wife must cook, and cook well, besides cleaning the dining-room, hall and offices, and washing the clothes. Her husband, yet more accommodating, must attend to a large flower-garden and a small conservatory, must draw a bath-chair, wait at table and clean lamps. After all these varied and arduous labours, he is denied the refreshment of a pipe; but, as a kind of compensation, he is not obliged to wear his dress suit when he is gardening! The joint wages are L50, with all found except clothes and beer; and the lucky recipients of this overpowering guerdon must be members of the Church of England.

This last requirement reminds me of a letter from a girl-emigrant written to Lady Laura Ridding, wife of the Bishop of Southwell, who had befriended her at home. "Dear Madam,—I hope this finds you as well as it leaves me. The ship is in the middle of the Red Sea, and it is fearfully hot. I am in a terrible state of melting all day long. But, honoured Madam, I know you will be pleased to hear that I am still a member of the Church of England." I hope the good plain cook and her non-smoking, bath-chair drawing, large-gardening husband may be able to comfort themselves with the same reflection when the varied toils of the day are ended and they seek their well-earned repose in the "small bedroom."

From these lowly mysteries of domestic life I pass to the Debatable Land between servitude and gentility. "MAN AND WIFE, superior and active, seek, in gentleman's family, PLACE OF TRUST; country, houseboat, &c. Wife needlewoman or Plain Cook, linen, &c.: man ride and drive, waiting, or useful. Can teach or play violin in musical family; sight-reader in classical works. Both tall, and refined appearance."

From the Debatable Land I pass on to the exalted regions of courtly life.

"The Great-niece of a Lord Chamberlain to King George III. REQUIRES a SITUATION as COMPANION to a lady, or Cicerone to young ladies. Her mind is highly cultivated. English habits and Parisian accent."

"Vieille ecole bonne ecole, begad!" cried Major Pendennis, and here would have been a companion for Mrs. Pendennis or a cicerone for Laura after his own heart. The austere traditions of the Court of George III. and Queen Charlotte might be expected to survive in the great-niece of their Lord Chamberlain; and what a tactful concession to the prejudices of Mrs. Grundy in the statement that, though the accent may be Parisian, the habits are English! This excellent lady—evidently a near relation to Mrs. General in Little Dorrit—reintroduces us to the genteel society in which we are most at home; and here I may remark that the love of aristocracy which is so marked and so amiable a feature of our national character finds its expression not only in the advertisement columns, but in the daily notices of deaths and marriages. For example: "On the 22nd inst., at Lisbon, William Thorold Wood, cousin to the Bishop of Rochester, to Sir John Thorold of Syston Park, and brother to the Rector of Widmerpool. He was a man of great mental endowments and exemplary conduct." I dare say he was, but I fear they would have gone unrecorded had it not been for the more impressive fact that he was kinsman to a Bishop and a Baronet.

While we are on the subject of Advertisements a word must be said about the Medical branch of this fine art; and knowing the enormous fortunes which have often been made out of a casual prescription for acne or alopecia, I freely place at the disposal of any aspiring young chemist who reads this paper the following tale of enterprise and success. A few years ago, according to the information before me, a London doctor had a lady patient who complained of an incessant neuralgia in her face and jaw. The doctor could detect nothing amiss, but exhausted his skill, his patience, and his remedies in trying to comfort the complainant, who, however, refused to be comforted. At length, being convinced that the case was one of pure hypochondria, he wrote to the afflicted lady, saying that he did not feel justified in any longer taking her money for a case which was evidently beyond his powers, but recommended her to try change of air, live in the country, and trust to that edax rerum which sooner or later cures all human ills.

The lady departed in sorrow, but in faith; obeyed her doctor's instructions to the letter, and established herself not a hundred miles from the good city of Newcastle. Once established there, her first care was to seek the local chemist and to place her doctor's letter in his hands. A smart young assistant was presiding at the counter; he read the doctor's letter, and promptly made up a bottle which he labelled "Edax Rerum. To be taken twice a day before meals," and for which he demanded 7s. 6d. The lady rejoicingly paid, and requested that a similar bottle might be sent to her every week till further notice. She continued to use and to pay for this specific for a year and a half, and then, finding her neuralgia considerably abated, she came up to London for a week's amusement. Full of gratitude, she called on her former doctor, and said that, though she had felt a little hurt at the abrupt manner in which he had dismissed so old a patient, still she could not forbear to tell him that his last prescription had done her far more good than any of its predecessors, and that, indeed, she now regarded herself as practically cured. Explanations followed; inquiries were set on foot; the chemist's assistant sailed for South Africa; and "Edax Rerum" is now largely in demand among the unlettered heroes who bear the banner of the Chartered Company.

That combination of pietism with money-making, which critics of our national character tell us is so peculiarly British, was well illustrated in the Christian Million of September 22, 1898:—

"BETHESDA, Hest Bank. Beautiful country home, near the sea. Christian fellowship, 3s. per day. Sickly persons desiring to trust the Lord will be considered financially. Apply Miss——. Stamped Envelope."

When poetry is forced into the service of advertisements, the result is peculiarly gratifying. This is an appeal for funds to repair the church in which Nelson's father officiated:—

"The man who first taught Englishmen their duty, And fenced with wooden walls his native isle, Now asks ONE SHILLING to preserve in beauty The Church that brooded o'er his infant smile."[29]

An electioneering address is, in its essence, an advertisement; and in this peculiar branch of literature it would be difficult to excel the following manifesto recently issued by a clergyman when candidate for a benefice to which the appointment is by popular election:—

"I appeal with the utmost confidence for the full support of the IRISH AND ROMAN CATHOLICS, because I am a Son of the Emerald Isle; to FOREIGNERS, because they love Ireland; to HIGH CHURCH, LOW CHURCH, and BROAD CHURCH, because I am tolerant to all parties; to NONCONFORMISTS, because I have stated in my pamphlet on Reunion that they are "the salt of the earth and the light of the world;" to JEWS, because my love for the Children of Promise is well known; to ATHEISTS, because they have often heard me in Hyde Park telling them of the Author of Nature in its endless beauties;—to one and all I appeal with the utmost confidence, and feel sure that the whole electorate will vote for me and do themselves honour, when they consider who I am, and when a person of my social and ecclesiastical standing allowed my name at all to be mentioned for a popular election."

I am thankful to say that this "Son of the Emerald Isle" was left at the bottom of the poll.


[29] Kindly communicated by "J.C.C."



"Parody," wrote Mr. Matthew Arnold in 1882, "is a vile art, but I must say I read Poor Matthias in the World with an amused pleasure." It was a generous appreciation, for the original Poor Matthias—an elegy on a canary—is an exquisite poem, and the World's parody of it is a rather dull imitation. On the whole, I agree with Mr. Arnold that parody is a vile art; but the dictum is a little too sweeping. A parody of anything really good, whether in prose or verse, is as odious as a burlesque of Hamlet; but, on the other hand, parody is the appropriate punishment for certain kinds of literary affectation. There are, and always have been, some styles of poetry and of prose which no one endowed with an ear for rhythm and a sense of humour could forbear to parody. Such, to a generation brought up on Milton and Pope, were the styles of the various poetasters satirized in Rejected Addresses; but excellent as are the metrical parodies in that famous book, the prose is even better. Modern parodists, of whom I will speak more particularly in a future chapter, have, I think, surpassed such poems as The Baby's Debut and A Tale of Drury Lane, but in the far more difficult art of imitating a prose style none that I know of has even approached the author of the Hampshire Farmer's Address and Johnson's Ghost. Does any one read William Cobbett nowadays? If so, let him compare what follows with the recorded specimens of Cobbett's public speaking:—

"Most thinking People,—When persons address an audience from the stage, it is usual, either in words or gesture, to say, 'Ladies and gentlemen, your servant.' If I were base enough, mean enough, paltry enough, and brute beast enough to follow that fashion, I should tell two lies in a breath. In the first place, you are not ladies and gentlemen, but, I hope, something better—that is to say, honest men and women; and, in the next place, if you were ever so much ladies, and ever so much gentlemen, I am not, nor ever will be, your humble servant."

With Dr. Johnson's style—supposing we had ever forgotten its masculine force and its balanced antitheses—we have been made again familiar by the erudite labours of Dr. Birkbeck Hill and Mr. Augustine Birrell. But even those learned critics might, I think, have mistaken a copy for an original if in some collection of old speeches they had lighted on the ensuing address:—

"That which was organized by the moral ability of one has been executed by the physical efforts of many, and DRURY LANE THEATRE is now complete. Of that part behind the curtain, which has not yet been destined to glow beneath the brush of the varnisher or vibrate to the hammer of the carpenter, little is thought by the public, and little need be said by the Committee. Truth, however, is not to be sacrificed to the accommodation of either, and he who should pronounce that our edifice has received its final embellishment would be disseminating falsehood without incurring favour, and risking the disgrace of detection without participating the advantage of success."

An excellent morsel of Johnsonese prose belongs to a more recent date. It became current about the time when the scheme of Dr. Murray's Dictionary of the English Language was first made public. It took the form of a dialogue between Dr. Johnson and Boswell:—

"Boswell. Pray, sir, what would you say if you were told that the next dictionary of the English language would be written by a Scotsman and a Presbyterian domiciled at Oxford?

"Dr. J. Sir, in order to be facetious it is not necessary to be indecent."

When Bulwer-Lytton brought out his play Not so Bad as we Seem, his friends pleasantly altered its title to Not so Good as we Expected. And when a lady's newspaper advertised a work called "How to Dress on Fifteen Pounds a Year, as a Lady. By a Lady," Punch was ready with the characteristic parody: "How to Dress on Nothing a Year, as a Kaffir. By a Kaffir."

Mr. Gladstone's authority compels me to submit the ensuing imitation of Macaulay—the most easily parodied of all prose writers—to the judgment of my readers. It was written by the late Abraham Hayward. Macaulay is contrasting, in his customary vein of overwrought and over-coloured detail, the evils of arbitrary government with those of a debased currency:—

"The misgovernment of Charles and James, gross as it had been, had not prevented the common business of life from going steadily and prosperously on.

"While the honour and independence of the State were sold to a foreign Power, while chartered rights were invaded, while fundamental laws were violated, hundreds of thousands of quiet, honest, and industrious families laboured and traded, ate their meals, and lay down to rest in comfort and security. Whether Whig or Tories, Protestants or Jesuits were uppermost, the grazier drove his beasts to market; the grocer weighed out his currants; the draper measured out his broadcloth; the hum of buyers and sellers was as loud as ever in the towns; the harvest-home was celebrated as joyously as ever in the hamlets; the cream overflowed the pails of Cheshire; the apple juice foamed in the presses of Herefordshire: the piles of crockery glowed in the furnaces of the Trent; and the barrows of coal rolled fast along the timber railways of the Tyne."

This reads like a parody, but it is a literal transcript of the original; and Hayward justly observes that there is no reason why this rigmarole should ever stop, as long as there is a trade, calling, or occupation to be particularized. The pith of the proposition (which needed no proof) is contained in the first sentence. Why not continue thus?—

"The apothecary vended his drugs as usual; the poulterer crammed his turkeys; the fishmonger skinned his eels; the wine merchant adulterated his port; as many hot-cross buns as ever were eaten on Good Friday, as many pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, as many Christmas pies on Christmas Day; on area steps the domestic drudge took in her daily pennyworth of the chalky mixture which Londoners call milk; through area bars the feline tribe, vigilant as ever, watched the arrival of the cat's-meat man; the courtesan flaunted in the Haymarket; the cab rattled through the Strand; and, from the suburban regions of Fulham and Putney, the cart of the market gardener wended its slow and midnight way along Piccadilly to deposit its load of cabbages and turnips in Covent Garden."

Twice has Mr. Gladstone publicly called attention to the merits of this "effective morsel of parody," as he styles it; and he judiciously adds that what follows (by the late Dean Hook) is "a like attempt, but less happy." Most people remember the attack on the constitution of the Court of Chancery in the preface to Bleak House. Dean Hook, in a laudable attempt to soothe the ruffled feelings of his old friend Vice-Chancellor Page Wood, of whom Dickens in that preface had made fun, thus endeavours to translate the accusation into Macaulayese:—



"The Court of Chancery was corrupt. The guardian of lunatics was the cause of insanity to the suitors in his court. An attempt at reform was made when Wood was Solicitor-General. It consisted chiefly in increasing the number of judges in the Equity Court. Government was pleased by an increase of patronage; the lawyers approved of the new professional prizes. The Government papers applauded. Wood became Vice-Chancellor. At the close of 1855 the Equity Courts were without business. People had become weary of seeking justice where justice was not to be found. The state of the Bench was unsatisfactory. Cranworth was feeble; Knight Bruce, though powerful, sacrificed justice to a joke; Turner was heavy; Romilly was scientific; Kindersley was slow; Stuart was pompous; Wood was at Bealings."

If I were to indulge in quotations from well-known parodies of prose, this chapter would soon overflow all proper limits. I forbear, therefore, to do more than remind my readers of Thackeray's Novels by Eminent Hands and Bret Harte's Sensation Novels, only remarking, with reference to the latter book, that "Miss Mix" is in places really indistinguishable from Jane Eyre. The sermon by Mr. Jowett in Mr. Mallock's New Republic is so perfect an imitation, both in substance and in style, that it suggested to some readers the idea that it had been reproduced from notes of an actual discourse. On spoken as distinguished from written eloquence there are some capital skits in the Anti-Jacobin, where (under the name of Macfungus) excellent fun is made of the too mellifluous eloquence of Sir James Mackintosh.

The differentiating absurdities of after-dinner oratory are photographed in Thackeray's Dinner in the City, where the speech of the American Minister seems to have formed a model for a long series of similar performances. Dickens's experience as a reporter in the gallery of the House of Commons had given him a perfect command of that peculiar style of speaking which is called Parliamentary, and he used it with great effect in his accounts of the inaugural meeting of the "United Metropolitan Improved Hot Muffin and Crumpet Baking and Punctual Delivery Company" in Nicholas Nickleby (where he introduces a capital sketch of Tom Duncombe, Radical Member for Finsbury); and in the interview between Mr. Gregsbury, M.P., and his constituents in a later chapter of the same immortal book.

The parliamentary eloquence of a later day was admirably reproduced in Mr. Edward Jenkins's prophetic squib (published in 1872) Barney Geoghegan, M.P., and Home Rule at St. Stephen's. As this clever little book has, I fear, lapsed into complete oblivion, I venture to cite a passage. It will vividly recall to the memory of middle-aged politicians the style and tone of the verbal duels which, towards the end of Mr. Gladstone's first Administration, took place so frequently between the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition. Mr. Geoghegan has been returned, a very early Home Ruler, for the Borough of Rashkillen, and for some violent breaches of order is committed to the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms. On this the leader of the House rises and addresses the Speaker:—

"Sir,—The House cannot but sympathize with you in the eloquent and indignant denunciation you have uttered against the painful invasion of the decorum of the House which we have just witnessed. There can be no doubt in any mind, even in the minds of those with whom the hon. member now at the bar usually acts, that of all methods of argument which could be employed in this House, he has selected the least politic. Sir, may I be permitted, with great deference, to say a word upon a remark that fell from the Chair, and which might be misunderstood? Solitary and anomalous instances of this kind could never be legitimately used as arguments against general systems of representation or the course of a recent policy. I do not, at this moment, venture to pronounce an opinion upon the degree of criminality that attaches to the hon. member now unhappily in the custody of the Officer of the House. It is possible—I do not say it is probable, I do not now say whether I shall be prepared to commit myself to that hypothesis or not—but it is not impossible that the hon. member or some of his friends may be able to urge some extenuating circumstances—(Oh! oh!)—I mean circumstances that, when duly weighed, may have a tendency in a greater or less degree to modify the judgment of the House upon the extraordinary event that has occurred. Sir, it becomes a great people and a great assembly like this to be patient, dignified, and generous. The honourable member, whom we regret to see in his present position, no doubt represents a phase of Irish opinion unfamiliar to this House. (Cheers and laughter.) ... The House is naturally in a rather excited state after an event so unusual, and I venture to urge that it should not hastily proceed to action. We must be careful of the feelings of the Irish people. (Oh! oh!) If we are to govern Ireland according to Irish ideas, we must make allowance for personal, local, and transitory ebullitions of Irish feeling, having no general or universal consequence or bearing.... The course, therefore, which I propose to take is this—to move that the hon. member shall remain in the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms, that a Committee be appointed to take evidence, and that their report be discussed this day month."

To this replies the Leader of the Opposition:—

"The right hon. gentleman is to be congratulated on the results of his Irish policy. (Cheers and laughter.) ... Sir, this, I presume, is one of the right hon. gentleman's contented and pacified people! I deeply sympathize with the right hon. gentleman. His policy produces strange and portentous results. A policy of concession, of confiscation, of truckling to ecclesiastical arrogance, to popular passions and ignorant prejudices, of lenity to Fenian revolutionists, has at length brought us to this, that the outrages of Galway and Tipperary, no longer restricted to those charming counties, no longer restrained to even Her Majesty's judges, are to reach the interior of this House and the august person of its Speaker. (Cheers.) Sir, I wash my hands of all responsibility for this absurd and anomalous state of things. Whenever it has fallen to the Tory party to conduct the affairs of Ireland, they have consistently pursued a policy of mingled firmness and conciliation with the most distinguished success. All the great measures of reform in Ireland may be said to have had their root in the action of the Tory party, though, as usual, the praise has been appropriated by the right hon. gentleman and his allies. We have preferred, instead of truckling to prejudice or passion, to appeal, and we still appeal, to the sublime instincts of an ancient people!"

I hope that an unknown author, whose skill in reproducing an archaic style I heartily admire, will forgive me for quoting the following narrative of certain doings decreed by the General Post Office on the occasion of the Jubilee of the Penny Post. Like all that is truly good in literature, it will be seen that this narrative was not for its own time alone, but for the future, and has its relevancy to events of the present day:[30]

"1. Now it came to pass in the month June of the Post-office Jubilee, that Raikes, the Postmaster-General, said to himself, Lo! an opening whereby I may find grace in the sight of the Queen!

"2. And Raikes appointed an Executive Committee; and Baines, the Inspector-General of Mails, made he Chairman.

"3. He called also Cardin, the Receiver and Accountant-General; Preece, Lord of Lightning; Thompson, the Secretarial Officer; and Tombs; the Controller.

"4. Then did these four send to the Heads of Departments, the Postmasters and Sub-Postmasters, the Letter-Receivers, the Clerks-in-Charge, the Postal Officers, the Telegraphists, She Sorters, the Postmen; yea from the lowest even unto the highest sent they out.

"5. And the word of Baines and of them that were with him went forth that the Jubilee should be kept by a conversazione at the South Kensington Museum on Wednesday the second day of the month July in the year 1890.

"6. And Victoria the Queen became a patron of the Jubilee Celebration; and her heart was stirred within her; for she said, For three whole years have I not had a Jubilee.

"7. And the word of Baines and of them that were with him went forth again to the Heads of Departments; the Postmasters and Sub-Postmasters, the Letter-Receivers, the Clerks-in-Charge, the Postal Officers and Telegraphists, the Sorters and the Postmen.

"8. Saying unto them, Lo! the Queen is become Patron of the Rowland Hill Memorial and Benevolent Fund, and of the conversazione in the museum; and we the Executive Committee bid you, from the lowest even to the highest, to join with us at the tenth hour of the conversazione in a great shouting to praise the name of the Queen our patron.

"9. Each man in his Post Office at the tenth hour shall shout upon her name; and a record thereof shall be sent to us that we may cause its memory to endure for ever.

"10. Then a great fear came upon the Postmasters, the Sub-Postmasters, and the Letter-Receivers, which were bidden to make the record.

"11. For they said, If those over whom we are set in authority shout not at the tenth hour, and we send an evil report, we shall surely perish.

"12. And they besought their men to shout, aloud at the tenth hour, lest a worse thing should befall.

"13. And they that were of the tribes of Nob and of Snob rejoiced with an exceeding great joy, and did shout with their whole might; so that their voices became as the voices of them that sell tidings in the street at nightfall.

"14. But the Telegraphists and the Sorters and the Postmen, and them that were of the tribes of Rag and of Tag, hardened their hearts, and were silent at the tenth hour; for they said among themselves, 'Shall the poor man shout in his poverty, and the hungry celebrate his lack of bread?'

"15. Now Preece, Lord of Lightning, had wrought with a cord of metal that they who were at the conversazione might hear the shouting from the Post Offices.

"16. And the tenth hour came; and lo! there was no great shout; and the tribes of Nob and Snob were as the voice of men calling in the wilderness.

"17. Then was the wrath of Baines kindled against the tribes of Rag and Tag for that they had not shouted according to his word; and he commanded that their chief men and counsellors should be cast out of the Queen's Post Office.

"18. And Raikes, the Postmaster-General; told the Queen all the travail of Baines, the Inspector-General, and of them that were with him, and how they had wrought all for the greater glory of the Queen's name.

"19. And the Queen hearkened to the word of Raikes, and lifted up Baines to be a Centurion of the Bath; also she placed honours upon Cardin, the Receiver-General and Accountant-General; upon Preece, Lord of Lightning; upon Thompson, the Secretarial Officer; and upon Tombs, the Controller, so that they dazzled the eyes of the tribe of Snob, and were favourably entreated of the sons of Nob.

"20. And they lived long in the land; and all men said pleasant things unto them.

"21. But they of Tag and of Rag that had been cast out were utterly forgotten; so that they were fain to cry aloud, saying, 'How long, O ye honest and upright in heart, shall Snobs and Nobs be rulers over us, seeing that they are but men like unto us, though they imagine us in their hearts to be otherwise?'

"22. And the answer is not yet."


[30] June 1897.



Here I embark on the shoreless sea of metrical parody, and I begin my cruise by reaffirming that in this department Rejected Addresses, though distinctly good for their time, have been left far behind by modern achievements. The sense of style seems to have grown acuter, and the art of reproducing it has been brought to absolute perfection. The theory of development is instructively illustrated in the history of metrical parody.

Of the same date as Rejected Addresses, and of about equal merit, is the Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin, which our grandfathers, if they combined literary taste with Conservative opinions, were never tired of repeating. The extraordinary brilliancy of the group of men who contributed to it guaranteed the general character of the book. Its merely satiric verse is a little beside my present mark; but as a parody the ballad of Duke Smithson of Northumberland, founded on Chevy Chase, ranks high, and the inscription for the cell in Newgate where Mrs. Brownrigg, who murdered her apprentices, was imprisoned, is even better. Southey, in his Radical youth, had written some lines on the cell in Chepstow Castle where Henry Marten the Regicide was confined:—

"For thirty years secluded from mankind Here Marten lingered ... Dost thou ask his crime? He had rebell'd against the King, and sate In judgment on him."

Here is Canning's parody:—

"For one long term, or e'er her trial came, Here Brownrigg lingered ... Dost thou ask her crime? She whipped two female 'prentices to death, And hid them in a coal-hole."

The time of Rejected Addresses and the Anti-Jacobin was also the heyday of parliamentary quotation, and old parliamentary hands used to cite a happy instance of instantaneous parody by Daniel O'Connell, who, having noticed that the speaker to whom he was replying had his speech written out in his hat, immediately likened him to Goldsmith's village schoolmaster, saying,—

"And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew That one small hat could carry all he knew."

Another instance of the same kind was O'Connell's extemporized description of three ultra-Protestant members, Colonel Verner, Colonel Vandeleur, and Colonel Sibthorp, the third of whom was conspicuous in a closely shaven age for his profusion of facial hair.

"Three Colonels, in three different counties born, Armagh and Clare and Lincoln did adorn. The first in direst bigotry surpassed: The next in impudence: in both the last. The force of Nature could no further go— To beard the third, she shaved the former two."

A similarly happy turn to an old quotation was given by Baron Parke, afterwards Lord Wensleydale. His old friend and comrade at the Bar, Sir David Dundas, had just been appointed Solicitor-General, and, in reply to Baron Parke's invitation to dinner, he wrote that he could not accept it, as he had been already invited by seven peers for the same evening. He promptly received the following couplets:—

"Seven thriving cities fight for Homer dead Through which the living Homer begged his bread."

"Seven noble Lords ask Davie to break bread Who wouldn't care a d—were Davie dead."

The Ingoldsby Legends—long since, I believe, deposed from their position in public favour—were published in 1840. Their principal merits are a vein of humour, rollicking and often coarse, but genuine and infectious; great command over unusual metres; and an unequalled ingenuity in making double and treble rhymes: for example—

"The poor little Page, too, himself got no quarter, but Was served the same way, And was found the next day, With his heels in the air, and his head in the water-butt."

There is a general flavour of parody about most of the ballads. It does not as a rule amount to more than a rather clumsy mockery of mediaevalism, but the verses prefixed to the Lay of St. Gengulphus are really rather like a fragment of a black-letter ballad. The book contains only one absolute parody, borrowed from Samuel Lover's Lyrics of Ireland, and then the result is truly offensive, for the poem chosen for the experiment is one of the most beautiful in the language—the Burial of Sir John Moore, which is transmuted into a stupid story of vulgar debauch. Of much the same date as the Ingoldsby Legends was the Old Curiosity Shop, and no one who has a really scholarly acquaintance with Dickens will forget the delightful scraps of Tom Moore's amatory ditties with which, slightly adapted to current circumstances, Dick Swiveller used to console himself when Destiny seemed too strong for him. And it will be remembered that Mr. Slum composed some very telling parodies of the same popular author as advertisements for Mrs. Jarley's Waxworks; but I forbear to quote here what is so easily accessible.

By way of tracing the development of the Art of Parody, I am taking my samples in chronological order. In 1845 the Newdigate Prize for an English poem at Oxford was won by J.W. Burgon, afterwards Dean of Chichester. The subject was Petra. The successful poem was, on the whole, not much better and not much worse than the general run of such compositions; but it contained one couplet which Dean Stanley regarded as an absolute gem—a volume of description condensed into two lines:—

"Match me such marvel, save in Eastern clime— A rose-red city, half as old as time."

The couplet was universally praised and quoted, and, as a natural consequence, parodied. There resided then (and long after) at Trinity College, Oxford, an extraordinarily old don called Short.[31] When I was an undergraduate he was still tottering about, and we looked at him with interest because he had been Newman's tutor. To his case the parodist of the period, in a moment of inspiration, adapted Burgon's beautiful couplet, saying or singing:—

"Match me such marvel, save in college port, That rose-red liquor, half as old as Short."

The Rev. E.T. Turner, till recently Registrar of the University, has been known to say: "I was present when that egg was laid." It is satisfactory to know that the undergraduate who laid it—William Basil Tickell Jones—attained deserved eminence in after-life, and died Bishop of St. David's.

When Burgon was writing his prize-poem about Petra, Lord John Manners (afterwards seventh Duke of Rutland), in his capacity as Poet Laureate of Young England, was writing chivalrous ditties about castles and banners, and merry peasants, and Holy Church. This kind of mediaeval romanticism, though glorified by Lord Beaconsfield in Coningsby, seemed purely laughable to Thackeray, and he made rather bitter fun of it in Lines upon my Sister's Portrait, by the Lord Southdown.

"Dash down, dash down yon mandolin, beloved sister mine! Those blushing lips may never sing the glories of our line: Our ancient castles echo to the clumsy feet of churls. The spinning-jenny houses in the mansion of our Earls. Sing not, sing not, my Angelina! in days so base and vile, 'Twere sinful to be happy, 'twere sacrilege to smile. I'll hie me to my lonely hall, and by its cheerless hob I'll muse on other days, and wish—and wish I were—A SNOB."

But, though the spirit of this mournful song is the spirit of England's Trust, the verbal imitation is not close enough to deserve the title of Parody.

The Ballads of Bon Gaultier, published anonymously in 1855, had a success which would only have been possible at a time when really artistic parodies were unknown. Bon Gaultier's verses are not as a rule much more than rough-and-ready imitations; and, like so much of the humour of their day, and of Scotch humour in particular, they generally depend for their point upon drinking and drunkenness. Some of the different forms of the Puff Poetical are amusing, especially the advertisement of Doudney Brothers' Waistcoats, and the Puff Direct in which Parr's Life-pills are glorified after the manner of a German ballad. The Laureate is a fair hit at some of Tennyson's earlier mannerisms:—

"Who would not be The Laureate bold, With his butt of sherry To keep him merry, And nothing to do but pocket his gold?"

But The Lay of the Lovelorn is a clumsy and rather vulgar skit on Locksley Hall—a poem on which two such writers as Sir Theodore Martin and Professor Aytoun would have done well not to lay their sacrilegious hands.

We have now passed through the middle stage of the development which I am trying to trace; we are leaving clumsiness and vulgarity behind us, and are approaching the age of perfection. Sir George Trevelyan's parodies are transitional. He was born in 1838, three times won the prize poem at Harrow, and brought out his Cambridge squibs in and soon after the year 1858. Horace at the University of Athens, originally written for acting at the famous "A.D.C.," still holds its own as one of the wittiest of extravaganzas. It contains a really pretty imitation of the 10th Eclogue, and it is studded with adaptations, of which the only possible fault is that, for the general reader, they are too topical. Here is a sample:—

"Donec gratus eram tibi."

Hor. While still you loved your Horace best Of all my peers who round you pressed (Though not in expurgated versions), More proud I lived than King of Persians.

Lyd. And while as yet no other dame Had kindled in your breast a flame, (Though Niebuhr her existence doubt), I cut historic Ilia out.

Hor. Dark Chloe now my homage owns, Skilled on the banjo and the bones; For whom I would not fear to die, If death would pass my charmer by.

Lyd. I now am lodging at the rus- In-urbe of young Decius Mus. Twice over would I gladly die To see him hit in either eye.

Hor. But should the old love come again, And Lydia her sway retain, If to my heart once more I take her, And bid black Chloe wed the baker?

Lyd. Though you be treacherous as audit When at the fire you've lately thawed it, For Decius Mus no more I'd care Than for their plate the Dons of Clare.

Really this is a much better rendering of the famous ode than nine-tenths of its more pompous competitors; and the allusions to the perfidious qualities of Trinity Audit Ale and the mercenary conduct of the Fellows of Clare need no explanation for Cambridge readers, and little for others. But it may be fairly objected that this is not, in strictness, a parody. That is true, and indeed as a parodist Sir George Trevelyan belongs to the metrical miocene. His Horace, when serving as a volunteer in the Republican Army, bursts into a pretty snatch of song which has a flavour of Moore:—

"The minstrel boy from the wars is gone, All out of breath you'll find him; He has run some five miles, off and on, And his shield has flung behind him."

And the Bedmaker's Song in one of the Cambridge scenes is sweetly reminiscent of a delightful and forgotten bard:—

"I make the butler fly, all in an hour; I put aside the preserves and cold meats, Telling my master the cream has turned sour, Hiding the pickles, purloining the sweets."

"I never languish for husband or dower; I never sigh to see 'gyps' at my feet; I make the butter fly, all in an hour, Taking it home for my Saturday treat."

This, unless I greatly err, is a very good parody of Thomas Haynes Bayly, author of some of the most popular songs of a sentimental cast which were chanted in our youth and before it. But this is ground on which I must not trench, for Mr. Andrew Lang has made it his own. The most delightful essay in one of his books of Reprints deals with this amazing bard, and contains some parodies so perfect that Mr. Haynes Bayly would have rejoicingly claimed them as his own.

Charles Stuart Calverley is by common consent the king of metrical parodists. All who went before merely adumbrated him and led up to him; all who have come since are descended from him and reflect him. Of course he was infinitely more than a mere imitator of rhymes and rhythms. He was a true poet; he was one of the most graceful scholars that Cambridge ever produced; and all his exuberant fun was based on a broad and strong foundation of Greek, Latin, and English literature. Verses and Translations, by C.S.C., which appeared in 1862, was a young man's book, although its author had already established his reputation as a humorist by the inimitable Examination Paper on Pickwick; and, being a young man's book, it was a book of unequal merit. The translations I leave on one side, as lying outside my present purview, only remarking as I pass that if there is a finer rendering than that of Ajax—645-692—I do not know where it is to be found. My business is with the parodies. It was not till ten years later that in Fly Leaves Calverley asserted his supremacy in the art, but even in Verses and Translations he gave good promise of what was to be.

Of all poems in the world, I suppose Horatius has been most frequently and most justly parodied. Every Public School magazine contains at least one parody of it every year. In my Oxford days there was current an admirable version of it (attributed to the Rev. W.W. Merry, now Rector of Lincoln College), which began,—

"Adolphus Smalls, of Boniface, By all the powers he swore That, though he had been ploughed three times, He would be ploughed no more,"

and traced with curious fidelity the successive steps in the process of preparation till the dreadful day of examination arrived:—

"They said he made strange quantities, Which none might make but he; And that strange things were in his Prose Canine to a degree: But they called his Viva Voce fair, They said his 'Books' would do; And native cheek, where facts were weak, Brought him triumphant through. And in each Oxford college In the dim November days, When undergraduates fresh from hall Are gathering round the blaze; When the 'crusted port' is opened, And the Moderator's lit, And the weed glows in the Freshman's mouth, And makes him turn to spit; With laughing and with chaffing The story they renew, How Smalls of Boniface went in, And actually got through."

So much for the Oxford rendering of Macaulay's famous lay. "C.S.C." thus adapted it to Cambridge, and to a different aspect of undergraduate life:—

"On pinnacled St. Mary's Lingers the setting sun; Into the street the blackguards Are skulking one by one; Butcher and Boots and Bargeman Lay pipe and pewter down, And with wild shout come tumbling out To join the Town and Gown.

* * * * *

"'Twere long to tell how Boxer Was countered on the cheek, And knocked into the middle Of the ensuing week; How Barnacles the Freshman Was asked his name and college, And how he did the fatal facts Reluctantly acknowledge."

Quite different, but better because more difficult, is this essay in Proverbial Philosophy:—

"I heard the wild notes of the lark floating far over the blue sky, And my foolish heart went after him, and, lo! I blessed him as he rose. Foolish; for far better is the trained boudoir bullfinch, Which pipeth the semblance of a tune and mechanically draweth up water. For verily, O my daughter, the world is a masquerade, And God made thee one thing that thou mightest make thyself another. A maiden's heart is as champagne, ever aspiring and struggling upwards, And it needed that its motions be checked by the silvered cork of Propriety. He that can afford the price, his be the precious treasure, Let him drink deeply of its sweetness nor grumble if it tasteth of the cork."

Enoch Arden was published in 1864, and was not enthusiastically received by true lovers of Tennyson, though people who had never read him before thought it wonderfully fine. A kinsman of mine always contended that the story ended wrongly, and that the really human, and therefore dramatic, conclusion would have been as follows:—

"For Philip's dwelling fronted on the street, And Enoch, coming, saw the house a blaze Of light, and Annie drinking from a mug— A funny mug, all blue with strange device Of birds and waters and a little man. And Philip held a bottle; and a smell Of strong tobacco, with a fainter smell— But still a smell, and quite distinct—of gin Was there. He raised the latch, and stealing by The cupboard, where a row of teacups stood, Hard by the genial hearth, he paused behind The luckless pair, then drawing back his foot— His manly foot, all clad in sailors' hose— He swung it forth with such a grievous kick That Philip in a moment was propelled Against his wife, though not his wife; and she Fell forwards, smashing saucers, cups, and jug Fell in a heap. All shapeless on the floor Philip and Annie and the crockery lay. Then Enoch's voice accompanied his foot, For both were raised, with horrid oath and kick, Till constables came in with Miriam Lane And bare them all to prison, railing loud. Then Philip was discharged and ran away, And Enoch paid a fine for the assault; And Annie went to Philip, telling him That she would see old Enoch further first Before she would acknowledge him to be Himself, if Philip only would return. But Philip said that he would rather not. Then Annie plucked such handfuls of his hair Out of his head that he was nearly bald. But Enoch laughed, and said, 'Well done, my girl.' And so the two shook hands and made it up."

In 1869 Lewis Carroll published a little book of rhymes called Phantasmagoria. It related chiefly to Oxford. Partly because it was anonymous, partly because it was mainly topical, the book had no success. But it contained two or three parodies which deserve to rank with the best in the language. One is an imitation of a ballad in black-letter called


"I have a horse—a ryghte goode horse— Ne doe I envye those Who scoure ye playne yn headye course Tyll soddayne on theyre nose They lyghte wyth unexpected force— Yt ys a Horse of Clothes."

Then, again, there is excellent metaphysical fooling in The Three Voices. But far the best parody in the book—and the most richly deserved by the absurdity of its original—is Hiawatha's Photographing. It has the double merit of absolute similarity in cadence and lifelike realism. Unluckily the limits of space forbid complete citation:—

"From his shoulder Hiawatha Took the camera of rosewood, Made of sliding, folding rosewood; Neatly put it all together. In its case it lay compactly, Folded into nearly nothing. But he opened out the hinges, Pushed and pulled the joints and hinges, Till it looked all squares and oblongs, Like a complicated figure In the Second Book of Euclid. This he perched upon a tripod, And the family in order Sate before him for their portraits.

* * * * *

Each in turn, as he was taken, Volunteered his own suggestions, His ingenious suggestions. First the Governor, the Father: He suggested velvet curtains, And the corner of a table, Of a rosewood dining-table. He would hold a scroll of something, Hold it firmly in his left hand; He would keep his right hand buried (Like Napoleon) in his waistcoat; He would contemplate the distance With a look of pensive meaning, As of ducks that die in tempests. Grand, heroic was the notion, Yet the picture failed entirely, Failed, because he moved a little; Moved, because he couldn't help it."

Who does not know that Father in the flesh? and who has not seen him—velvet curtains, dining-table, scroll, and all—on the most conspicuous wall of the Royal Academy? The Father being disposed of,

"Next his better half took courage, She would have her picture taken."

But her restlessness and questionings proved fatal to the result.

"Next the son, the Stunning-Cantab: He suggested curves of beauty, Curves pervading all his figure, Which the eye might follow onward Till they centered in the breastpin, Centered in the golden breastpin. He had learnt it all from Ruskin, Author of the Stones of Venice."

But, in spite of such culture, the portrait was a failure, and the elder sister fared no better. Then the younger brother followed, and his portrait was so awful that—

"In comparison the others Seemed to one's bewildered fancy To have partially succeeded."

Undaunted by these repeated failures, Hiawatha, by a great final effort, "tumbled all the tribe together" in the manner of a family group, and—

"Did at last obtain a picture Where the faces all succeeded— Each came out a perfect likeness Then they joined and all abused it, Unrestrainedly abused it, As the worst and ugliest picture They could possibly have dreamed of; 'Giving one such strange expressions— Sullen, stupid, pert expressions. Really any one would take us (Any one that didn't know us) For the most unpleasant people.' Hiawatha seemed to think so, Seemed to think it not unlikely."

How true to life is this final touch of indignation at the unflattering truth! But time and space forbid me further to pursue the photographic song of Hiawatha.

Phantasmagoria filled an aching void during the ten years which elapsed between the appearance of Verses and Translations and that of Fly Leaves. The latter book is small, only 124 pages in all, including the Pickwick Examination Paper, but what marvels of mirth and poetry and satire it contains! How secure its place in the affections of all who love the gentle art of parody! My rule is not to quote extensively from books which are widely known; but I must give myself the pleasure of repeating just six lines which even appreciative critics generally overlook. They relate to the conversation of the travelling tinker.

"Thus on he prattled like a babbling brook. Then I: 'The sun hath slipt behind the hill, And my Aunt Vivian dines at half-past six,' So in all love we parted; I to the Hall, He to the village. It was noised next noon That chickens had been missed at Syllabub Farm."

Will any one stake his literary reputation on the assertion that these lines are not really Tennyson's?


[31] Rev. Thomas Short, 1789-1879.



When I embarked upon the subject of metrical parody I said that it was a shoreless sea. For my own part, I enjoy sailing over these rippling waters, and cannot be induced to hurry. Let us put in for a moment at Belfast. There in 1874 the British Association held its annual meeting; and Professor Tyndall delivered an inaugural address in which he revived and glorified the Atomic Theory of the Universe. His glowing peroration ran as follows: "Here I must quit a theme too great for me to handle, but which will be handled by the loftiest minds ages after you and I, like streaks of morning cloud, shall have melted into the infinite azure of the past." Shortly afterwards Blackwood's Magazine, always famous for its humorous and satiric verse, published a rhymed abstract of Tyndall's address, of which I quote (from memory) the concluding lines:—

"Let us greatly honour the Atom, so lively, so wise, and so small; The Atomists, too, let us honour—Epicurus, Lucretius, and all. Let us damn with faint praise Bishop Butler, in whom many atoms combined To form that remarkable structure which it pleased him to call his mind. Next praise we the noble body to which, for the time, we belong (Ere yet the swift course of the Atom hath hurried us breathless along)— The BRITISH ASSOCIATION—like Leviathan worshipped by Hobbes, The incarnation of wisdom built up of our witless nobs; Which will carry on endless discussion till I, and probably you, Have melted in infinite azure—and, in short, till all is blue."

Surely this translation of the Professor's misplaced dithyrambics into the homeliest of colloquialisms is both good parody and just criticism.

In 1876 there appeared a clever little book (attributed to Sir Frederick Pollock) which was styled Leading Cases done into English, by an Apprentice of Lincoln's Inn. It appealed only to a limited public, for it is actually a collection of sixteen important law-cases set forth, with explanatory notes, in excellent verse imitated from poets great and small. Chaucer, Browning, Tennyson, Swinburne, Clough, Rossetti, and James Rhoades supply the models, and I have been credibly informed that the law is as good as the versification. Mr. Swinburne was in those days the favourite butt of young parodists, and the gem of the book is the dedication to "J.S." or "John Stiles," a mythical person, nearly related to John Doe and Richard Roe, with whom all budding jurists had in old days to make acquaintance. The disappearance of the venerated initials from modern law-books inspired the following:—

"When waters are rent with commotion Of storms, or with sunlight made whole, The river still pours to the ocean The stream of its effluent soul; You, too, from all lips of all living, Of worship disthroned and discrowned, Shall know by these gifts of my giving That faith is yet found;

"By the sight of my song-flight of cases That bears, on wings woven of rhyme, Names set for a sign in high places By sentence of men of old time; From all counties they meet and they mingle, Dead suitors whom Westminster saw; They are many, but your name is singles Pure flower of pure law.

* * * * *

"So I pour you this drink of my verses, Of learning made lovely with lays, Song bitter and sweet that reheares The deeds of your eminent days; Yea, in these evil days from their reading Some profit a student shall draw, Though some points are of obsolete pleading, And some are not law.

"Though the Courts, that were manifold, dwindle To divers Divisions of One, And no fire from your face may rekindle The light of old learning undone, We have suitors and briefs for our payment, While, so long as a Court shall hold pleas, We talk moonshine with wigs for our raiment, Not sinking the fees."

Some five-and-twenty years ago there appeared the first number of a magazine called The Dark Blue. It was published in London, but was understood to represent in some occult way the thought and life of Young Oxford, and its contributors were mainly Oxford men. The first number contained an amazing ditty called "The Sun of my Songs." It was dark, and mystic, and transcendental, and unintelligible. It dealt extensively in strange words and cryptic phrases. One verse I must transcribe:—

"Yet all your song Is—'Ding dong, Summer is dead, Spring is dead— O my heart, and O my head Go a-singing a silly song All wrong, For all is dead. Ding dong, And I am dead! Dong!'"

I quote thus fully because Cambridge, never backward in poking fun at her more romantic sister, shortly afterwards produced an excellent little magazine named sarcastically The Light Green, and devoted to the ridicule of its cerulean rival. The poem from which I have just quoted was thus burlesqued, if, indeed, burlesque of such a composition were possible:—

"Ding dong, ding dong, There goes the gong; Dick, come along, It is time for dinner Wash your face, Take your place. Where's your grace, You little sinner?

"Baby cry, Wipe his eye. Baby good, Give him food. Baby sleepy, Go to bed. Baby naughty, Smack his head!"

The Light Green, which had only an ephemeral life, was, I have always heard, entirely, or almost entirely, the work of one undergraduate, who died young—Arthur Clement Hilton, of, St. John's.[32] He certainly had the knack of catching and reproducing style. In the "May Exam.," a really good imitation of the "May Queen," the departing undergraduate thus addresses his "gyp":—

"When the men come up again, Filcher, and the Term is at its height, You'll never see me more in these long gay rooms at night; When the "old dry wines" are circling, and the claret-cup flows cool, And the loo is fast and furious, with a fiver in the pool."

In 1872 "Lewis Carroll" brought out Through the Looking-glass, and every one who has ever read that pretty work of poetic fancy will remember the ballad of the Walrus and the Carpenter. It was parodied in The Light Green under the title of "The Vulture and the Husbandman." This poem described the agonies of a viva-voce examination, and it derived its title from two facts of evil omen—that the Vulture plucks its victim, and that the Husbandman makes his living by ploughing:—

"Two undergraduates came up, And slowly took a seat, They knit their brows, and bit their thumbs, As if they found them sweet; And this was odd, because, you know, Thumbs are not good to eat.

"'The time has come,' the Vulture said, 'To talk of many things— Of Accidence and Adjectives, And names of Jewish Kings; How many notes a Sackbut has, And whether Shawms have strings.'

"'Please sir,' the Undergraduates said, Turning a little blue, 'We did not know that was the sort Of thing we had to do.' 'We thank you much,' the Vulture said; 'Send up another two.'"

The base expedients to which an examination reduces its victims are hit off with much dexterity in "The Heathen Pass-ee," a parody of an American poem which is too familiar to justify quotation:—

"Tom Crib was his name, And I shall not deny, In regard to the same, What that name might imply; But his face it was trustful and childlike, And he had the most innocent eye.

* * * * *

"On the cuffs of his shirt He had managed to get What we hoped had been dirt, But which proved, I regret, To be notes on the Rise of the Drama A question invariably set.

"In the crown of his cap Were the Furies and Fates, And a delicate map Of the Dorian States; And we found in his palms, which were hollow, What are frequent in palms—that is, dates."

Deservedly dear to the heart of English youth are the Nonsense Rhymes of Edward Lear. It will be recollected that the form of the verse as originally constructed reproduced the final word of the first line at the end of the fifth, thus:—

"There was an old person of Basing Whose presence of mind was amazing; He purchased a steed Which he rode at full speed, And escaped from the people of Basing."

But in the process of development it became usual to find a new word for the end of the fifth line, thus at once securing a threefold rhyme and introducing the element of unexpectedness, instead of inevitableness, into the conclusion. Thus The Light Green sang of the Colleges in which it circulated—

"There was an old Fellow of Trinity, A Doctor well versed in divinity; But he took to free-thinking, And then to deep drinking, And so had to leave the vicinity."


"There was a young genius of Queen's Who was fond of explosive machines; He blew open a door, But he'll do so no more— For it chanced that that door was the Dean's."


"There was a young gourmand of John's Who'd a notion of dining off swans; To the "Backs" he took big nets To capture the cygnets, But was told they were kept for the Dons."

So far The Light Green.

Not at all dissimilar in feeling to these ebullitions of youthful fancy were the parodies of nursery rhymes which the lamented Corney Grain invented for one of his most popular entertainments, and used to accompany on the piano in his own inimitable style. I well remember the opening verse of one, in which an incident in the social career of a Liberal millionaire was understood to be immortalized:—

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