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THOUGHTS Suggested by a College Examination.* High in the midst, surrounded by his peers, MAGNUS his ample front sublime uprears; Placed on his chair of state, he seems a god, While Sophs and Freshmen tremble at his nod; As all around, still wrapt in speechless gloom, His voice in thunder shakes the sounding dome; Denouncing dire reproach to luckless fools, Unskill’d to plod in mathematic rules.
Happy the youth in Euclid's axioms tried,
Though little versed in any art beside;
Who, scarcely skill’d an English line to pen,
Scans attic metres with a critic's ken;
What though he knows not how his fathers bled,
When civil discord piled the fields with dead;
When Edward bade his conquering bands advance;
Or Henry trampled on the crest of France ;
Though marvelling at the name of Magna Charta;
Yet well he recollects the laws of Sparta ;
Can tell what edicts sage Lycurgus made,
While Blackstone 's on the shelf neglected laid;
Of Grecian dramas vaunts the deathless fame,
Of Avon's bard remembering scarce the name.
Such is the youth, whose scientific pate
Class-honours, medals, fellowships, await;
Or even, perhaps, the declamation prize,
If to such glorious height he lifts his eyes.
* No reflection is here intended against the person mentioned under the name of Magnus. He is merely represented as performing an unavoidable function of his office: indeed, such an attempt could only recoil upon myself: as that gentleman is now as much distinguished by his eloquence, and the dignified propriety with which he fills his situation, as he was in his younger days, for wit and conviviality.
But, lo! no common orator can hope
The envied silver cup within his scope;
Not that our heads much eloquence require,
Th’ ATHENIAN's glowing style, or Tully's fire.
A manner clear or warm, is useless, since
We do not try by speaking to convince ;
Be other orators of pleasing proud,
We speak to please ourselves, not move the crowd:
Our gravity prefers the muttering tone,
A proper mixture of the squeak and groan;
No borrow'd grace of action must be seen,
The slightest motion would displease the Dean;
Whilst every staring Graduate would prate
Against what he could never imitate.
The man who hopes to obtain the promised cup,
Must in one posture stand, and ne'er look up;
Nor stop, but rattle over every word,
No matter what, so it can not be heard :
Thus let him hurry on, nor think to rest;
Who speaks the fastest 's sure to speak the best;
Who utters most within the shortest space,
May safely hope to win the wordy race.
The sons of science these, who, thus repaid, Linger in ease in Granta's sluggish shade; Where, on Cam’s sedgy bank supine they lie Unknown-unhonour'd live-unwept-for die ; Dull as the pictures which adorn their halls, They think all learning fix'd within their walls; In manners rude, in foolish forms precise, All modern arts affecting to despise; [note, Yet prizing BentLEY's,* BRUNK'S,* or PORSON'st More than the verse on which the critic wrote;
* Celebrated critics. + The present Greek professor at Trinity College, Cambridge; a man whose powers of mind and writings may perhaps justify their preference.
Vain as their honours, heavy as their ale,
Sad as their wit, and tedious as their tale ;
To friendship dead, though not untaught to feel,
When Self and Church demand a bigot zeal.
With eager haste they court the lord of power,
Whether 'tis PITT or P-TTY rules the hour,*
To him with suppliant smiles they bend the head,
While distant mitres to their eyes are spread.
But should a storm o'erwhelm him with disgrace,
They ’d fly to seek the next who fill'd his place.
Such are the men who learning's treasures guard,
Such is their practice, such is their reward;
This much, at least, we may presume to
say, The premium can't exceed the price they pay.
TO THE EARL OF
Tu semper amoris
Sis memor, et cari comitis ne abscedat Imago.
FRIEND of my youth! when young we roved,
Like striplings mutually beloved,
With Friendship's purest glow;
The bliss which wing'd those rosy hours
Was such as pleasure seldom showers
On mortals here below.
The recollection seems alone
Dearer than all the joys I've known,
When distant far from you;
Though pain, 'tis still a pleasing pain,
To trace those days and hours again,
And sigh again, adieu !
• Since this was written Lord H. Py has lost his place, and, subsequently (I had almost said, consequently), the honour of representing the University; a fact so glaring requires no comment.
My pensive memory lingers o'er.
Those scenes to be enjoy'd no more,
Those scenes regretted ever:
The measure of our youth is full,
Life's evening dream is dark and dull,
And we may meet-ah never!
As when one parent spring supplies
Two streams which from one fountain rise,
Together join'd in vain;
How soon; diverging from their source,
Each, murmuring, seeks another course,
Till mingled in the main.
Our vital streams of weal or woe,
Though near, alas ! distinctly flow,
Nor mingle as before :
Now swift or slow, now black or clear,
Till death's unfathom'd gulph appear,
And both shall quit the shore.
Our souls, my friend! which once supplied
One wish, nor breathed a thought beside,
Now flow in different channels; Disdaining humbler rural sports, 'Tis yours to mix in polish'd courts,
And shine in Fashion's annals.
'Tis mine to waste on love my time,
Or vent my reveries in rhyme,
Without the aid of Reason;
For sense and reason (critics know it)
Have quitted every amorous poet,
Nor left a thought to seize on.
Poor LITTLE, sweet, melodious bard,
Of late esteemed it monstrous bard,
That he who sang before all ;
He who the lore of love expanded,
By dire reviewers should be branded.
As void of wit and moral.*
And yet, while Beauty's praise is thine,,
Harmonious favourite of the Nine,
Repine not at thy lot;
Thy soothing lays may still be read,
When Persecution's arm is dead,
And critics are forgot.
Still I must yield those worthies merit,
Who chasten, with unsparing spirit,
Bad rhymes, and those who write them;
And though myself may be the next,
By critic sarcasm to be vext,
I really will not fight them.t
Perhaps they would do quite as well,
To break the rudely sounding shell
Of such a young beginner;
He who offends at pert nineteen,
Ere thirty, may become, I ween,
A very harden'd sinner.
Now I must return to you,
And sure apologies are due,
Accept then my concession;
In truth, dear in fancy's flight,
I soar along from left to right,
My muse admires digression. * These stanzas were written soon after the appearance of a severe critique in a northern review, on a new publication of the British Anacreon.
+ A bard (Horesco referens) defied his reviewer to mortal combat: if this example becomes prevalent, our periodical censors must be dipp'd in the river Styx, for what else can secure them from the numerous host of their enraged assailants!