The Casual Ward - academic and other oddments
by A. D. Godley
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He says he has seen enough of that kind of thing.


This is the tale that is told of an almost universally respected Minister, Who, being fully aware of the views of Continental Potentates, and their plans ambitious and sinister, For the better defence of his native land, and to free her from continual warlike alarms, Determined that he would popularize the conception (and a very good one too) of a Nation in Arms! Now this is the way he proceeded to fan the flame of patriot ardour— (This metre looks at first as easy to write as blank verse, or Walt Whitman, but is in reality considerably harder),— He assured his crowded audience that, while everyone must deprecate a horrid, militant, Jingoist attitude, Not to serve one's country—at least on Saturday afternoons—was the very blackest ingratitude: Death on the battlefield,—or at least the expense of buying a uniform,—was the patriots' chiefest glory; Dulce et decorum est (said the statesman, amid thunderous cheers) pro patria mori! Everyone should be ready to defend his hearth and home, be it humble cot or family mansion, Provided always that he discouraged a tendency to Militarism and Imperial Expansion: That was the habit of mind which a Briton's primary duty to stifle was, Seeing that the country's salvation lay rather with the intelligent, spontaneous, disinterested volunteer who didn't care how obsolete the pattern of his rifle was: Too much skill in shooting or drill was a perilous thing, and he did not mean to acquire it, For fear of alarming peace-loving Emperors and such-like by display of a combative spirit; Regular armies tended to that: and in view of the state of international conditions he Meant to cut down our own to the minimum consistent with Guaranteed Efficiency,— Being convinced as he was that an army recruited and trained on a properly peaceful principle Would be wholly (and here comes a rhyme that won't please the mere purist, but I'm sorry to say it's the only available one) wholly, I say, and completely invincible! This being so, he did not propose to devise any scheme or with cut-and-dried details to fetter a Patriot Public which quite understood of itself that England Expects—et cetera. After this oratorical burst, as the country next day was informed by about two hundred reporters, The Right Honourable Gentleman resumed his seat amid loud and continuous applause, having spoken for two hours and three quarters. The Public at once declared with unanimity so remarkable that nothing would well surpass it That patriotic self-sacrifice was a Priceless National Asset: No rational person, they said, could fail to be deeply impressed by the charms Of that truly august conception, a Nation in Arms: To become expert in the use of strictly defensive weapons, spear or sword, Lee-Metford, torpedo, or sabre, Was a duty—if not for oneself, yet incumbent without any shadow of doubt on one's neighbour; Still there were some who might possibly urge that the world was at peace, and the time was not ripe yet for it,— Besides the undoubted fact that a patriot who was asked to sacrifice his Saturday half-holiday might legitimately inquire what he was likely to get for it; So on the whole while they recognized quite (what a metre this is, to be sure!) that the Minister's scheme was replete with attraction, They decided to wait for a while (what with the danger of encouraging a spirit of Militarism and a number of other excellent reasons) before putting his plan into action. Then the Continental Potentates—and if I venture at all to allude to them, it is Only to show how all this Nation-in-Arms business may lead to the most regrettable extremities: This part of my poem in short most painful and sad to a lover of peace is, And in fact I believe I can deal with it best by a delicate use of the figure Aposiopesis— However—the net result was that a time arrived when Consols went down to nothing at all, caddies in thousands were thrown out of work and professional footballers docked of their salary, And several League matches had to be played at a lamentable financial loss in the absence of the usual gallery! Then, some time after that (it's really impossible to say what happened in between) when business at last had resumed its usual working, And the nation in general was no longer engaged in painfully realistic manoeuvres, on the Downs, between Guildford and Dorking,— Then the public met and resolved like the person whose case is recorded in fable That now that the steed had been stolen (or at least suffered from exposure to the air) it was high time to close the door of the stable; And that never again no more should their cricket-fields, football grounds, croquet lawns, bunkers, Be profaned by the feet of Cossacks, Chasseurs, Bashi-Bazouks, or Junkers; And I don't think they talked very big about Nations in Arms, or inscribed on their banners any particularly inspiring motto, But they learnt to shoot and to drill, not more or less but quite well—in spite of the dangers of Militarism—for the plain and simple reason that they'd got to!


Essence of boredom! stupefying Theme! Whereon with eloquence less deep than full, Still maundering on in slow continuous stream, All can expatiate, and all be dull: Bane of the mind and topic of debate That drugs the reader to a restless doze, Thou that with soul-annihilating weight Crushest the Bard, and hypnotisest those Who plod the placid path of plain pedestrian Prose:

Lo! when each morn I carefully peruse (Seeking some subject for my painful pen) The Times, the Standard, and the Daily News, No other topic floats into my ken Save this alone: or Dr. Clifford slates Dogmas in general: or the dreadful ban Of furious Bishops excommunicates Such simple creeds as Birrell, hopeful man! Thinks may perhaps appease th' unwilling Anglican.

Lo! at Society's convivial board (Whereat I do occasionally sit, In hope to bear within my memory stored Some echo thence of someone else's wit), Or e'er the soup hath yielded to the fish, A heavy dulness doth the banquet freeze: Lucullus' self would shun th' untasted dish When lovely woman whispers, "Tell me, please, What are Denominational Facilities?"

From scenes like these my Muse would fain withdraw: To Taff's still Valley be my footsteps led, Where happy Unions 'neath the shield of Law Heave bricks bisected at the Blackleg's head: In those calm shades my desultory oat Of Taxed Land Values shall contented trill, Of Man ennobled by a Single Vote,— In short, I'll sing of anything you will, Except of thee alone, O Education Bill!

THE WORKING MAN (After seeing his Picture in the Press)

Working Man! whose psychic beauty (Unattainable by me) Still it is my pleasing duty Painted by your friends to see,— You, whose virtues ne'er can bore us, Daily through their list we scan, Let me swell th' admiring chorus, Let me hymn the Working Man!

You whose Leaders, highly moral, Always shocked by war's alarms, Could not in their country's quarrel Contemplate the use of arms, Yet, should strikes provide occasion, Then by higher promptings led Do with more than moral suasion Break the erring Blackleg's head:—

You, whose intellectual state is Such that you are aiming at Getting all your culture gratis (Not that you're alone in that),— Always with the strict injunction That whate'er be false or true Every teacher's simple function Is to teach what pleases you:—

Not to gain by learned labour Any sordid quid pro quo: Not to rise above your neighbour (Comrades ne'er are treated so): Not to change your lowly station, Not for rank and not for pelf, Academic education Only, only for itself,—

Yet in whose commercial dealings Vainly we attempt to find Those disinterested feelings Which adorn the Student's mind,— Seeing that, O my high-souled brothers! There your dream of happiness Is (like mine, and several others') Earning more for working less!

'Tis not that I blame your getting Anything you think you can: 'Tisn't that which I'm regretting, Noble British Working Man! No—although the facts I mention Sometimes wake a mild surprise— Still—the truth's beyond contention— You are good, and great, and wise:

Swell my taxes: stint my fuel: Last, to close the painful scene, Send me, rather just than cruel, Send me to the guillotine: Ere the knife bisects my spinal Cord, and ends my vital span, This shall be my utterance final, Bless the British Working Man!


They tell me the Millennium's come (And I should be extremely glad Could I but feel assured, like some, It had): They tell me of a bright To Be When, freed from chains that tyrants forge By the Right Honourable D. Lloyd George, We shall by penalties persuade The idle unrepentant Great To serve (inadequately paid) The State,— All working for the general good, While painful guillotines confront The individual who could And won't: But horny-handed sons of toil, Who now purvey our meats and drinks, Our gardens devastate, and spoil Our sinks, Shall seldom condescend to take That inconsiderable sum For which they daily butch, and bake, And plumb; Such humble votaries of trade No more shall follow arts like these; Since most of them will then be made M.P.s!

* * * * *

And can I then (with some surprise You ask) possess my tranquil soul, And view with calm indifferent eyes The Poll, While partisans, in raucous tones, With doleful wail or joyful shout Proclaim that Brown is in, or Jones Is out? I can: I do: the reason's plain: That blissful day which prophets paint Perhaps may come: perhaps again It mayn't: And ere these ages blest begin (For Rome, I've heard historians say, Was only partly finished in A day) In men of sentiments sublime 'Tis possible we yet may trace The influence of mellowing Time And PLACE:— O who can tell? Ere Labour rouse Its ever-multiplying hordes To mend or end th' obstructive House Of Lords, And bid aristocrats begone, And their hereditary pelf Bestow with generous hand upon Itself— Why, Mr. George,—his threats forgot Which Earls and Viscounts cowering hear,— Himself may be, as like as not, A Peer!


Tomkins! when revolving lustres Thin those shining locks that now Wreathe their hyacinthine clusters Round your intellectual brow,— You who in your nobler station Still are kind enough to seek Our political salvation Rather more than once a week,—

Think you, will your rightful value Still be duly understood? Will the British Public hail you Always great and always good? When the Peoples fight for Freedom And the tyrant's rage confront, Will they call for you to lead 'em? —No, my friend: I fear they won't.

Soon or late are Truth's apostles Laid upon their destined shelf; You, who talk of Ancient Fossils, Tomkins! will be one yourself: Dons and Men with gibe and sneer your Ancient crusted ways will view, Wondering oft with smile superior What's the use of Things like you!

All the schemes that win you glory, Meant to mend our mortal mess— These will simply brand you Tory, Nothing more and nothing less: You who waked the world from slumber, You, who shone in Progress' van, You'll be then a mere Back Number, Obsolete as good Queen Anne!

You I see with zeal excessive Dying then for causes, which Now (forsooth) you call Progressive, In reaction's Final Ditch: By Conservatives in caucus (Ardent youth, reflect on that!) Sent to stem the horrid raucous Clamours of the Democrat . . .

No: I do not wish to quarrel With your high exalted sense; No: there isn't any moral— Not of any consequence: Only, 'neath your exhortations Passive while we're doomed to sit, Themes like these conduce to patience,— And I thought I'd mention it.


My Tityrus! and is't a fact (As wondrous facts there are) That History's scenes thou wouldst enact Beside the banks of Cher? Wilt thou for pomps like these desert Thy calm and cloistered lair, Not quite so young as once thou wert, Nor (pardon me) so fair?

We saw thee stalk in youthful prime With high Proctorial mien: We saw the majesty sublime Which marked the Junior Dean; O pundit grave! O sage M.A.! Say in what happy part Thou wilt before the crowd display Thy histrionic art!

With cranium bald, which ne'er again Will need the barber's shear, Wilt thou present in Charles his train Some long-locked Cavalier? A sober Don for all to see Who once didst walk abroad, Wilt now an Ancient Briton be And painted blue with woad?

Me from such scenes afar remove, And hide my shuddering head Where Nature doth in field and grove Her fairer pageant spread: There will I meditating lie 'Mid summer's calm delights,— But thou wilt walk adown the High My Tityrus,—in Tights. . . .


A Novelist, whose magic art, Had plumbed ('twas said) the human heart, Whom for the penetrative ken Wherewith he probed the souls of men The Public and the Public's wife Declared synonymous with Life,— Sat idle, being much perplexed What Attitude to study next, Because he would not wholly tell Which Pose was likeliest to sell. To him the Muse: "Why seek afar For things that on the threshold are? Why thus evolve with care and pain From your imaginative brain? Put Artifice upon the shelf,— Take pen and ink, and draw—Yourself!" The author heard: he took the hint: He photographed himself in print. His very inmost self he drew. . . . The critics said, "This Will Not Do. No more we recognize the art Which used to plumb the human heart,— This suffers from the patent vice Of being not Art but Artifice. 'Tis deeply with the fault imbued Of Inverisimilitude: He's written out; his skill's forgot: He only writes to Boil the Pot! It is not true; it will not wash; 'Tis mere imaginative Bosh; And if he can't" (they told him flat) "Get nearer to the Life than that, He will not earn the Public's pelf!"

This happens when you draw Yourself. Or—I should say—it happens when Such portraits are essayed by Men: For presently a Lady came And did substantially the same. (Let everyone peruse this sequel Who dreams that Man is Woman's equal),— She with a hand divinely free Drew what she thought herself to be: It did not much resemble Her In moral strength or mental stature— Yet did the critics all aver It simply teemed with Human Nature!


In that dim and distant aeon Known as Ante-Mycenaean, When the proud Pelasgian still Bounded on his native hill, And the shy Iberian dwelt Undisturbed by conquering Celt, Ere from out their Aryan home Came the Lords of Greece and Rome, Somewhere in those ancient spots Lived a man who painted Pots— Painted with an art defective, Quite devoid of all perspective, Very crude, and causing doubt When you tried to make them out, Men (at least they looked like that), Beasts that might be dog or cat, Pictures blue and pictures red, All that came into his head: Not that any tale he meant On the Pots to represent: Simply 'twas to make them smart, Simply Decorative Art. So the seasons onward hied, And the Painter-person died— But the Pot whereon he drew Still survived as good as new: Painters come and painters go, Art remains in statu quo.

When a thousand years (perhaps) Had proceeded to elapse, Out of Time's primeval mist Came an AEtiologist; He by shrewd and subtle guess Wrote Descriptive Letterpress, Setting forth the various causes For the drawings on the vases, All the motives, all the plots Of the painter of the pots, Entertained the nations with Fable, Saga, Solar Myth, Based upon ingenious shots At the Purpose of the Pots, Showing ages subsequent What the painter really meant (Which, of course, the painter hadn't; He'd have been extremely saddened Had he seen his meanings missed By the AEtiologist).

Next arrives the Prone to Err Very ancient Chronicler, All that mythologic lore Swallowing whole and wanting more, Crediting what wholly lacked All similitude of Fact, Building on this wondrous basis All we know of early races; So the Past as seen by him Furnished from its chambers dim Hypothetical foundations Whence succeeding generations Built, as on a basis sure, Branches three of Literature, Social Systems four (or five), Two Religions Primitive; So that one may truly say (Speaking in a general way) All the facts and all the knowledge Taught in School and taught in College, All the books the printer prints— Everything that's happened since— Feels the influence of what Once was drawn upon that Pot, Plus the curious mental twist Of that AEtiologist!

But the Pot that caused the trouble Lay entombed in earth and rubble, Left about in various places, In the way that early races— Hittites, Greeks, or Hottentots— Used to leave important Pots; Till at length, to close the list, Came an Archaeologist, Came and dug with care and pain, Came and found the Pot again: Dug and delved with spade and shovel, Made a version wholly novel Of the Potman's old design (Others none were genuine). Pots were in a special sense Echt-Historisch Documents: All who Error hope to stem Must begin by studying them; So the Public (which, he said, Had been grievously misled) Must in all things freshly start From his views of Ancient Art. All (the learned man proceeded) Otherwise who thought than he did, Showed a stupid, base, untrue, Obscurantist point of view; Men like these (the sage would say) Should be wholly swept away; They, and eke the faults prodigious Which beset their creeds religious, Render totally impure All their so-called Literature, Lastly, sap to its foundation All their boasted education,— Just because they've quite forgot What was meant, and what was not, By the Painter of the Pot!

* * * * *

Pots are long and life is fleeting; Artists, when their subjects treating, Should be very, very far Carefuller than now they are.


When by efforts literary you might scale the summits airy Which the eminent in fiction are ascending every day, Why obscurely crawl and grovel?—I will write (I said) a Novel! So I started and I planned it in the ordinary way.

I'd a Heroine—a creature of resplendent form and feature, With a spell in every motion and a charm in every look: I'd a Villain—worse than Nero,—I'd a most superior Hero: And the host of minor persons which is needed in a book:

Each was drawn from observation: yet was each a pure creation Which revealed at once the genius of originating mind: Not a man and not a woman but combined the Broadly Human With a something quite peculiar of an interesting kind:

What a wealth of meaning inner in the things they said at dinner! How their conversation sparkled (like the ripples on the deep), Half disclosing, half concealing a Profundity of Feeling Which would move the gay to laughter and incite the grave to weep!

There they stood in grace and vigour, each imaginary figure, Each a masterpiece of drawing for the world to wonder at: There was really nothing more I had to find but just the story, Nothing more, but just the story—but I couldn't think of that.

Yet (I cried), in other writers, how the lovers and the fighters Are conducted through the mazes of a complicated plan,— How the incidents are planted just precisely where they're wanted— How the man invites the moment, and the moment finds the man!

How a Barrie or a Kipling guides the maiden and the stripling Till they're ultimately landed in the matrimonial state,— And they die, or else they marry (in a Kipling or a Barrie) Just as if the thing was ordered by unalterable Fate,—

While with me, alas! to balance my innumerable talents, There's a fatal imperfection and a melancholy blot: All the forms of my creating stand continually waiting For a charitable person to provide them with a Plot!

Still I put the endless query why I wander lone and dreary (Barred from Eden like the Peri) minus fame and minus fee, Why the idols of the masses have an entree to Parnassus, While a want of mere invention is an obstacle to me!


Arise, my Muse, and ply th' extended Wing! It is of Language that I mean to sing. Thou mighty Medium, potent to convey The clearest Notions in the darkest Way, Diffus'd by thee, what Depth of verbal Mist Veils now the Realist, now th' Idealist! Our mental Processes more complex grow Than those our Sires were privileged to know. In Ages old, ere Time Instruction brought, A Thought or Thing was but a Thing or Thought: Such simple Names are now forever gone— A Concept this, that a Noumenon: As Cambria's Sons their Pride of Race increase By joining Ap to Evan, Jones, or Rees, A prouder Halo decks the Sage's Brow, Perceptive once, he's Apperceptive now! Here sits Mentality (that erst was Mind), By correlated Entities defin'd: Here Monads lone Duality express In bright Immediacy of Consciousness: O who shall say what Obstacles deter The Youth who'd fain commence Philosopher! The painful Public with bewilder'd Brain For Metaphysic pants, but pants in vain: Too hard the Names, too weighty far the Load: Language forbids, and Br-dl-y blocks the Road. From Themes like these I willingly depart, And pass (discursive) to the Realms of Art. Ye Muses nine! what Phrases ye employ, What wondrous Terms t' express aesthetic Joy! As once in Years ere Babel's Turrets rose Contented Nations talk'd the self-same Prose: As early Christians in the Days of Yore Took what they wanted from a common Store: So different Arts th' astonished Reader sees Pool all their Terms, then choose whate'er they please. 'Mid critick Crews (where Intellect abounds) Sound sings in Colours, Colours shine in Sounds: When mimick Groves Apelles decks with green, Or Zeuxis limns the vespertinal Scene, Staccato Tints delight th' auscultant Eye And soft Andantes paint the conscious Sky: Nor less, when Musick holds the list'ning Throng, How crisply lucent glows th' entrancing Song! Each loud Sonata boasts its lively Hue, And Fugues are red, and Symphonies are blue. Not mine to deem your Epithets misplac'd, Ye learned Arbiters of publick Taste! Yet such th' Effect on merely human Wit, That Esperanto is a Joke to it.

Hail, Terminology! celestial Maid! Portress of Science, Guide to Art and Trade! I see Democracy—an ardent Band Who fain would read yet wish to understand— Compell'd that Goal in alien Tongues to seek, Fly for Relief to Necessary Greek, Claim as their Right (advised by Mr. Snow) The sweet Simplicity of [Greek text],— While Dons con English till they're pale and lean, And Candidates in Mods do English for Unseen!


Relate, my Muse, the fame of him Whose calling and peculiar mission It was to wage with courage grim A battle 'gainst effete Tradition! When Movements moved, with holy zest He scaled the breach and led the stormers,— And was among the first and best Of Educational Reformers.

He saw the Boy at Public Schools Regard his books with fear and loathing, From Latin's arbitrary rules Deriving practically nothing:— He said,—"O bounding human Boys, Of all the fare whereon you batten, What chiefly mars your simple joys?" With one accord they answered "Latin!"

"Exactly so," th' Inquirer cried, "This is the lore which cramps and stunts us; O how can pedagogues abide A course that makes their pupils dunces? Since with the rules of Latin Prose They can't be brought to yield compliance, This Fact conclusively it shows— They've all a natural bent for Science!"

They sought for Scientific Truth, And pedagogues with books and birches Guided the faltering steps of Youth In biological researches: The infant in his nurse's care In Science' terms was taught to stammer: They practised vivisection where They used to cut their Latin grammar;

'Twas all in vain—the Human Boy Remained unalterably chilly: Still less than Virgil's tale of Troy He liked compulsory bacilli! Much grieved the Zealot was thereat:— "We'll try," he said, "a course of Spelling" . . . But O, the way they hated that Quite overcomes my power of telling!

"There must be ways," the good man said, "(Though hitherto perhaps we've missed 'em) Of putting things within the head: We've something wrong about the System:" And musing on the sacred flame Of Genius, and the cause that hid it, He unto this conclusion came— COMPULSION was the thing that did it.

"Within the Boy's aspiring brain For Study still there lies a craving, And what is won against the grain Is never really worth the having; This boasted Categorical Imperative is clearly vicious,— Pastors and masters, one and all, Must ascertain their pupils' wishes!"

And now those simple human Boys,— All, to a boy, for Culture yearning,— No pedagogues with idle noise Impede upon the path of Learning:— Released from books and teachers both, No intellectual pastures feed 'em; And, if they lose in mental growth, Think how they gain in moral freedom!


Of a Cheerful Hope.

Whene'er you do to Meetings go, as many such there be (And few and far those persons are who home return to tea), Then take with you this principle, to cheer you on your way— The less there is to talk about, the more there is to say.

Of an Exordium.

Consult your hearers' happiness, and state for their relief That you'll avoid prolixity and study to be brief: For if you can't be brief at once, 'twill comfort them to know That you'll arrive at brevity in half an hour or so.

Of Obedience to Rule.

Should e'er the Chairman censure you, as Chairmen oft will do, And tell you that you miss the point, and bid you keep thereto, (Though points are things, by Euclid's law, that always must be missed— They have no parts or magnitude, and therefore don't exist)— Obey at once the Chairman's hest (because, as you're aware, It is a most improper thing to argue with the Chair), Accept his ruling patiently, without superfluous fuss, And state the things you might have said—unless he'd ruled it thus.

Of a Peroration.

And when you've spent your arguments yet somehow still go on (It shows a want of enterprise to stop because you've done), Don't search about for topics new or vex your weary brain, But take what someone else has said and say it all again.

Of Impartiality.

And when at last your speech is o'er, be careful if you can That none may hint—a horrid charge—that you're a Party Man: So speak for this and speak for that as blithely as you may, But keep your mental balance true, and Vote the other Way.


Two youths there were in days of yore Called Jones and Robinson. Jones had abilities galore, While Robinson had none.

They met with corresponding fates: And Jones, that genius proud, Obtained in time a First in Greats: While Robinson was ploughed.

Jones hoped that mental gifts like his Might gain a Fellowship: But ah! full many a slip there is Between the cup and lip:

"You have a brain," the College said, "Which unassisted soars: 'Tis not for Colleges to aid Abilities like yours!

Go—wealth awaits your gathering hand, And empires crave your rule! But Fellowships like ours are planned To help the helpless fool."

He tried the Press: he tried the Bar: But still the Bar and Press Said, "Not for him our openings are Whose gifts ensure success:

Such posts are meant ('tis justice plain) For those unhappy chaps (Like Robinson) whom lack of brain Unfairly handicaps!"

And now—yet check the rising tear: It seems that long ago Those Founders whom we all revere Meant it to happen so—

Some lack of necessary food, All in a garret lone, Has ended Jones. I thought it would. But Robinson's a DON.



A rumour and rumbling volcanic Is heard in the Radical Press, And Presidents tremble in panic And Wardens their terrors confess: How each with anxiety shivers, The Dean with his fines and his gates, The ruffian who ragged me in Divvers, The pedant who ploughed me in Greats!

The doctrines degrading they taught, and The Progress they nipped in the bud: The things that they did when they oughtn't And failed to perform when they should: The Questions prevented from burning, The Movements forbidden to move, Recoil on their centres of learning, Their Parks and the System thereof!

Afar will Democracy chase it, That gang of impenitent Dons Who drowned the occasional Placet By bawling their truculent Nons: No idle and opulent College Will feed that obstructionist clique, Those scoffers at Practical Knowledge Who vote for compulsory Greek.

And now when the Party of Labour, Asserting its virtuous sway, Annexes the wealth of its neighbour In Labour's traditional way,— When purged of its various abuses By Birrell's beneficent rule, This haunt of the obsolete Muses Is changed to a charity school,—

When Fellows and bloated Professors Their stipends are forced to disgorge, (Obeying the fiat of Messrs. Keir Hardie and Burns and Lloyd George) Deprived by the wrath of the Nation Of all their unmerited aids, Perhaps to escape from starvation They'll take to respectable trades!

O wholly delectable vision! I view with excusable glee The fate of the shallow precisian Who failed to appreciate Me;— I fancy I see myself tossing With blandly contemptuous mien A penny for sweeping a crossing To him who was formerly Dean!


("Education differs from technical training."—Expert opinion in a letter to the Times.)

Not in vain with quaint devices Infants of the age of four Build their mimic edifices All upon the nursery floor; Neither is the presage missed By the Educationist, When he doth the fact recall How that Balbus built a wall!

Thus I mused on such-like theses, While my errant fancy swam Through the circumambient breezes To the silver streams of Cam,— There observed with pleased surprise Ancient Universities Still in touch at every stage With the Progress of the Age;

There, released from sloth and coma (Alma Mater's chief defect), There they grant a new Diploma To the budding Architect, Take the blighted Builder's art To their academic heart, Hope it may in time become Part of their curriculum:

There they tell their College Porters Not to think it strange or odd When a load of bricks and mortar's Dumped within the College quad; No indignant Tutor hauls Him who scales the College walls,— Plying on that airy perch Architectural Research!

Thus I sang: I seemed to see an Epoch made, the Future's guide; But my glad exultant paean Was not wholly justified: Men whose names we all revere, Stars in Architecture's sphere, Phrases used which don't imply Any genuine sympathy:

Ch—-mpn—-ys, Bl—-mfield, T. G. J—-cks—-n, Hushed my lyre's triumphant string— Said in limpid Anglo-Saxon What they thought about the thing: "Seats of learning are designed For to Educate the Mind, Not to teach a craft or trade," That was what these persons said!

What! and must a thwarted Nation Draw the obvious inference? What! a Liberal Education Doesn't mean the quest of pence? (Really, this extremely crude Obscurantist attitude Isn't quite what one expects From distinguished Architects!)

Here's another dear illusion Reft away and wholly gone: O the spiritual confusion Of the pained progressive Don! If the facts are quite correct As regards the Architect, Comes the question, plain and clear, How about the Engineer?


Now is the time when everything is glad, Their vernal greenery the fields renew, Each feathered songster chants with livelier tone, And lambkins leap and cloudless skies are blue, And all is gay and cheerful:—I alone Am singularly sad; Mine erstwhile happiness and calm content Yields to a sense of sorrowful surprise: Things that I thought were thus, are otherwise: And all is grief, and disillusionment.

For He, who did in everything surpass Our common world,—the Good, the Truly Great, The Working Man, who shamed with standards high Our obscurantists unregenerate,— Is not, 'twould seem, better than you, or I, Or any other ass: The vision's faded, as a snowflake melts; Fallen is that idol from his high renown: He hath waxed fat, and kicked, and tumbled down, And we must seek ensamples somewhere else!

Where is it, Comrades! in this direful day— That noble zeal for academic lore, That reverence due for discipline, in which He used to shine conspicuously o'er The Brainless Athlete and the Idle Rich? O, does he now display That ample breadth of calm impartial view, That sober judgment and that balanced mind, Which we were taught that we should always find, O R—-skin College, domiciled in you?

I have a Pupil: when his mental food Fails (as it will) his appetite to sate, What! does that patient much-enduring elf Proclaim a strike? set pickets at my gate? Boycott my lectures? give them for himself? (Full oft I wish he would:) Nay—when he finds those lectures dull and flat, He asks no other: new ones might be worse: Too well he knows that Cosmos' ordered course Meant him to hear, and me to talk like that.

Also I own I'm disappointed by Your friends and patrons, British Working Man! For they, methought, were champions of the Cause, Fighters for Freedom, foremost in the van, Not servile scruplers, bound by rules and laws, Not men who dealt in dry Respectable traditions: leaders true, No timid Moderates, who would define Too strict a boundary 'twixt Mine and Thine, Potential martyrs, heart and soul with you:—

'Twas all illusion: they would feed you with Mere talks on Temperance: when your spirit's wings Would soar to Sociology alone, Whereby will come that blessed state of things When none has property to call his own, They give you—Adam Smith . . . These too are fall'n: ah me, that I should live To hear our brightest Radicals and best By angry Labour in such terms addressed As might apply to a Conservative!

To this conclusion I perforce must come, 'Twere best we parted: seeing that we, 'twould seem, Haply have no appreciation of Your high ambitions and your aims supreme, Nor can we hope that you should greatly love Our mental pabulum: Depart, O Comrades! to some happier sphere Where you can still be nobly on the make, And mine, or plumb, or brew, or butch, or bake,— Best to depart, and leave us mouldering here!

Yea, if ye scorn our learning overmuch, Misguided sons of horny-handed toil! Yet discontented with your lowly lot Still pine to burn the sad nocturnal oil 'Mid academic culture, or 'mid what Describes itself as such— Go elsewhere, O my brothers! only go To Bath, to Birmingham—where'er the Don Teaches the sacred art of Getting On,—— —It is not far from here to Jericho.


It is Research of which I sing, Research, that salutary thing! None can succeed, in World or Church, Who does not prosecute Research: For some read books, and toil thereat Their intellect to waken: But if you think Research is that You're very much mistaken.

All in Columbia's blessed States They have no Smalls, or Mods, or Greats, Nor do their faculties benumb With any cold curriculum: O no! for there the ambitious Boy, Released from schools and birches, At once pursues with studious joy Original Researches:

A happy lot that Student's is, —I wish that mine were like to his,— Where in the bud no pedants nip His Services to Scholarship: And none need read with care and pain Rome's History, or Greece's, But each from his creative brain Evolves semestrial Theses!

On books to pore is not the kind Of thing to please the serious mind,— I do not very greatly care For such unsatisfying fare: To seek the lore that in them lurks Would last ad infinitum: Let others read immortal works,— I much prefer to write 'em!


When I ponder o'er the pages of the old romantic ages, ere the world grew cold and gray, When there wasn't a relation between Oxford and the Nation, or a Movement every day, How I marvel at the glamour (in these duller days and tamer) which informed those scenes of glee, At the glamour and the glory of contemporary story, and the Eights as they used to be!

It is obvious that the weather must have differed altogether from the kind that now we know: I arise from reading Fiction with the permanent conviction that it did not hail, nor snow: For each fair and youthful charmer had a summer sun to warm her and a bran new frock and hat,— In the progress of the lustres, when the crowd of Fashion musters it has grown too wise for that.

Every boat from keel to rigger was a grand ideal figure as it skimmed those Wavelets Blue, While the Heroes who propelled 'em were comparatively seldom of a commonplace type, like you— In their strength and in their science they were positively giants, through the gorgeous days of old, Still an Admirable Crichton in those lieben alten Zeiten was the oarsman brave and bold:

He could row devoid of training, and (it hardly needs explaining) got a quite unique degree: With his blushing honours laden, he espoused a lovely maiden at the end of Volume Three: This alone he had to grieve for—that he'd nothing more to live for, or expect from Fortune's whim: For I never could discover, when his Oxford days were over, what the world could hold for him!

O the rapture singlehearted of that Period has departed, with its views ornate of Man, And I think it won't come back till we restore the Pterodactyl, or revive the late Queen Anne: We have grown in mental stature, and we Go Direct to Nature, in these days of stress and strife, And the hero of a novel in a palace or a hovel is intolerably True to Life:—

Not an infant learns to toddle but EFFICIENCY'S his model, which he still pursues with rage, In a manner inconsistent with the methods dim and distant of that mid-Victorian age: For that atmosphere Elysian it has faded from our vision and has gone where the old tales go, And I really don't know whether I regret altogether—but the simple fact is so.


Minstrels! who your choicest notes Keep for men who row in boats, Mark with what exalted mien Comes the Hero of the Scene! He, amid the festal swarm, Fashion's glass and mould of form, How in shape and how in features Far surpassing other creatures, How incomparable to Common things like me and you! He in whose transcendent state All the ages culminate— Could we ever keep him thus, How delightful 'twere for us! Could he, 'mid the admiring throng, Ever beauteous, ever young, Still abide for ever pent In his true environment, Wear that aureole still which now Decks his high victorious brow! Out, alas! that Fortune can't Ever give us what we want! HE must quit this vernal stage: HE must sink to middle age (E'en the Poet's soaring wit Scarcely can envisage it): Go with men of common clay In to business every day: Be perhaps a Brewer, or Haply a Solicitor,— None the fact to notice that Haloes once adorned his hat: Ay! the ways of Fate are odd: Men are mortal . . . Ichabod . . .

* * * * *

Yet shall stay by stream and tree Something still of what was He,— Plainly put, his More or Less Immaterial Consciousness,— Very fine and very large, Floating o'er his College barge: Always while the world continues Bards shall sing his thews and sinews,— Here he rowed and here he ran, Being rather more than man;— Thus as ages onward go Still he'll great and greater grow, Larger still in prose or rhyme Looming down the aisles of time, Till he sit, sublime and vast, 'Mid the Giants of the Past, Men who lived in days of old (Ch-tty, W- -dg-te, N-ck-lls, G-ld), Lived and rowed in ages dark Long ere Noah built the Ark, Very, very famous oars, Mighty men in Eights and Fours, Towering o'er our Browns and Smiths Huge and grey, like Monoliths.

Thus the Hero's happy fate Keeps in store a blissful state, All adown the Future dim, Nearly worthy e'en of Him!


Dear Youth! whose wealth and lineage high Each outward sign denotes, The highly fashionable tie, The latest thing in coats— Imprinted on whose candid brow No gazer could detect (As e'en your enemies allow) The Pride of Intellect—

Who, 'spite your want of mental scope And lack of Serious Aim, Still left us, as we dared to hope, More pensive than you came, And thus at least, while critics vied In pointing out our flaws, For our continuance supplied A kind of Final Cause:—

Your part is played, your turn is o'er: Prepare to quit the stage: It seems you're not the person for The Spirit of the Age: Though high your birth, though large your means, I see—'tis sad, but true— Soon, 'mid these academic scenes, No corner left for you!

Ah! what avail the things that went To build your prosperous lot, The ample cash, the long descent, The athlete's frequent pot, The waistcoat bright of ardent red Or fascinating green, The social charm that captive led The Provost, and the Dean?

I see the Cherwell's peaceful flood, I see the courts of King's Invaded by a student brood Which knows all kinds of things— A crowd with high desires replete, Whose recreations are To sit at Professorial feet And join a Seminar:

Bright Butterfly! your haunts of old Are tenanted by men Who realise what studies mould Th' Efficient Citizen . . . These shall alone the blessings know Of Isis and of Cam, And You (I'm sure 'tis better so) Will go to—Birmingham!


Lo, where yon undistinguished grave Erects its grassy pile on One who to all Experience gave An Alpha or Epsilon!

The world and eke the world's content, And all therein that passes, With marks numerical (per cent.) He did dispose in classes:

Not his to ape the critic crew Which vulgarly appraises The Good, the Beautiful, the True In literary phrases:

He did his estimate express In terms precise and weighty,— And Vice got 25 (or less,) While Virtue rose to 80.

Now hath he closed his earthly lot All in his final haven,— (And be the stone that marks the spot On one side only graven,)

Bring papers on his grave to strew Amid the grass and clover, And plant thereby that pencil blue Wherewith he looked them over!

There, freed from every human ill And fleshly trammels gross, he Lies in his resting-place until The final Viva Voce:

So let him rest till crack of doom Of mortal tasks aweary,— And nothing write upon his tomb Save [Greek text: beta]—(?).


* * * * *



{24} 1897

{77} 1900.

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