« PreviousContinue »
TO A FRENCH AIR.
FARE thee well, Gabrielle ! Whilst I join France, With bright cuirass and lancel Trumpets swell, Gabrielle ! War horses prance, And Cavaliers advance 1
In the night,
Death may knell,
THE IMPUDENCE OF STEAM.
Over the billows and over the brine, Over the water to Palestine ! Am I awake, or do I dream 7 Over the Ocean to Syria by steam My say is sooth, by this right hand; A steamer brave - Is on the wave, Bound, positively, for the IHoly Land GoDFREY of Bulloigne, and thou, RICHARD, lion-hearted King, Candidly inform us, now, Did you ever? No you never Could have fancied such a thing. Never such vociferations Enter'd your imaginations As the ensuing— ‘Ease her, stop her s” “Any gentleman for Joppa 7” “’Mascus, 'Mascus?” “Ticket, please, sir.” “Tyre or Sidon 7” “Stop her, ease her s” “Jerusalem, 'lem 'lem s”—“Shur ! Shur !” “Do you go on to Egypt, Sir 7” “Captain, is this the land of Pharaoh’” “Now look alive there ! Who's for Cairo’” “Back her P’ “Stand clear, I say, old file !” “What gent or lady’s for the Nile, Or Pyramids?” “Thebes . Thebes | Sir!” “Steady 1" “Now, where's that party for Engedi”—
Pilgrims holy, Red Cross Knights,
THE Contest for the Professorship of Poetry at Oxford ought hardly to be passed over in silence by a Literary Periodical. Indeed it was our original intention to have gone into the subject, whilst it might have been treated as a cause pertaining solely to the Belles Lettres, and equally unconnected with the great bells that ring in Protestant steeples, or the little bells that tinkle before papistical altars. There was a classical seat to be filled; and it would never have occurred to us to examine into the opinions of either candidate on abstruse questions of divinity, any more than at the new-bottoming of an old chair, we should have inquired whether the rushes were to be supplied by the Lincolnshire Fens, or the Pontine Marshes. That any but poetical qualifications were to be considered would never have entered into our mind—we should as soon have dreamt of the Judge at a Cattle Show awarding the Premium, not to the fattest and best fed beast, but to an ox of a favorite color. No– in our simplicity, should have summoned the rival Poets before us, in black and white, and made them give alternate specimens of their ability in the tuneful art, like Daphnis and Strephon in the Pastoral—
Then sing by turns, by turns the Muses sing;
and to the best of our humble judgment we should have awarded the Prize Chair, squabs, castors and all, to the melodious victor. As to demanding of either of the competitors what he thought of the Wiaticum, or Extreme Unction, it would have seemed to us a far less pertinent question than to ask the would-be Chairman of a Temperance Society whether he preferred gin or rum. We should have considered the candidates, in fact, as Architects professing to “build the lofty rhyme,” without supposing its possible connection with the building of churches or chapels. In that character only should we have reviewed the parties before us; and their several merits would have been discussed in an appropriate manner. Thus we might perhaps have pointed out that Mr. Garbett possessed the finer ear, but Mr. Williams the keener eye for the picturesque;—that the Fellow of Brazen Nose had the greater command of language, but the Trinity man displayed a better assortment of images: and we might have particularized by quotations where the first reminded us of a Glover or a Butler, and the last of a Prior or a Pope. We might also have deemed it our duty to examine into the acquaintance of the parties with the works of the Fathers, not of Theology but of poetry; and it might have happened for us to inquire how certain probationary verses stood upon their feet—but certainly not the when, where, or wherefore, the author went down upon his knees. We should as soon have thought of examining a professed cook in circumnavigation, or a theatrical star in astronomy; or of proposing to an Irish chairman, of sedantary habits, to fill the disputed seat.
The truth is, that unlike a certain class of persons who would go to the pole for polemics, and seek an altercation at the altar, we have neither a turn nor a taste for religious disputation, and therefore never expected nor wished to find a theological controversy in a question of prosyversy. We never conceived the suspicion that the Père La Chaise of Poetry might become a Confessor as well as a Professor, and initiate his classes in the mysteries of Rome, any more than we should have feared his converting them to the Polytheism of the heathen Ovid, or that very blind Pagan old Homer. On the contrary, our first inkling of a division at Oxford concerning the Muses suggested to us simply that it must be the old literary quarrel of the Classicists and the Romanticists, or a dispute perhaps on the claims of Blank Verses to get prizes. At any rate we should never have committed such an anachronism as to associate Poetry, which is older by some ages than Christianity, with either Protestantism or Popery. It would have been like jumbling up Noah of Ark with Joan of Arc, as man and wife.
Our first intentions, however, have been frustrated; for even while preparing for the task, as if by one of those magical transformations peculiar to the season, the Chair has turned into a Pulpit, and the rival collegians are transfigured—pantomime fashion—into Martin Luther and the Pope of Rome ! Such a metamorphosis places the performance beyond our critical pale; but we will venture in a few sentences to deprecate religious dissension, and to forewarn such as call themselves friends of the church against the probable interference of those hot-headed and warm-tempered individuals who seem, as the Irish gentleman said, to have been vaccinated from mad bulls. Such persons may, doubtless, mean well; but the best-intentioned people have sometimes far more zeal than discretion, even as the medalsome Mathewite, who thinks that he must drink water usque ad