Transcribed from the 1891 Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton & Co. edition by David Price, firstname.lastname@example.org
THE SCARLET GOWN: BEING VERSES BY A ST. ANDREWS MAN
ST. ANDREWS, N.B.: A. M. HOLDEN LONDON: SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON & CO. 1891
' . . . the little town, The drifting surf, the wintry year, The college of the scarlet gown, St. Andrews by the Northern Sea, That is a haunted town to me.'
St. Andrews, but for its Town Council and its School Board, is a quiet place; and the University, except during the progress of a Rectorial Election, is peaceable and well-conducted. I hope these verses may so far reflect St. Andrews life as to be found pleasant, if not over exciting.
I am able to reprint the verses on 'The City of Golf' by the special courtesy of the Editor of the Saturday Review.
A few explanatory notes are given at the end of the book.
R. F. MURRAY.
THE VOICE THAT SINGS
The voice that sings across the night Of long forgotten days and things, Is there an ear to hear aright The voice that sings?
It is as when a curfew rings Melodious in the dying light, A sound that flies on pulsing wings.
And faded eyes that once were bright Brim over, as to life it brings The echo of a dead delight, The voice that sings.
THE BEST PIPE
In vain you fervently extol, In vain you puff, your cutty clay. A twelvemonth smoked and black as coal, 'Tis redolent of rank decay And bones of monks long passed away— A fragrance I do not admire; And so I hold my nose and say, Give me a finely seasoned briar.
Macleod, whose judgment on the whole Is faultless, has been led astray To nurse a high-born meerschaum bowl, For which he sweetly had to pay. Ah, let him nurse it as he may, Before the colour mounts much higher, The grate shall be its fate one day. Give me a finely seasoned briar.
The heathen Turk of Istamboul, In oriental turban gay, Delights his unbelieving soul With hookahs, bubbling in a way To fill a Christian with dismay And wake the old Crusading fire. May no such pipe be mine, I pray; Give me a finely seasoned briar.
Clay, meerschaum, hookah, what are they That I should view them with desire? Both now, and when my hair is grey, Give me a finely seasoned briar.
HYMN OF HIPPOLYTUS TO ARTEMIS
Artemis! thou fairest Of the maids that be In divine Olympus, Hail! Hail to thee! To thee I bring this woven weed Culled for thee from a virgin mead, Where neither shepherd claims his flocks to feed Nor ever yet the mower's scythe hath come. There in the Spring the wild bee hath his home, Lightly passing to and fro Where the virgin flowers grow; And there the watchful Purity doth go Moistening with dew-drops all the ground below, Drawn from a river untaintedly flowing, They who have gained by a kind fate's bestowing Pure hearts, untaught by philosophy's care, May gather the flowers in the mead that are blowing, But the tainted in spirit may never be there.
Now, O Divinest, eternally fair, Take thou this garland to gather thy hair, Brought by a hand that is pure as the air. For I alone of all the sons of men Hear thy pure accents, answering thee again. And may I reach the goal of life as I began the race, Blest by the music of thy voice, though darkness ever veil thy face!
ON A CRUSHED HAT
Brown was my friend, and faithful—but so fat! He came to see me in the twilight dim; I rose politely and invited him To take a seat—how heavily he sat!
He sat upon the sofa, where my hat, My wanton Zephyr, rested on its rim; Its build, unlike my friend's, was rather slim, And when he rose, I saw it, crushed and flat.
O Hat, that wast the apple of my eye, Thy brim is bent, six cracks are in thy crown, And I shall never wear thee any more; Upon a shelf thy loved remains shall lie, And with the years the dust will settle down On thee, the neatest hat I ever wore!
A SWINBURNIAN INTERLUDE
Short space shall be hereafter Ere April brings the hour Of weeping and of laughter, Of sunshine and of shower, Of groaning and of gladness, Of singing and of sadness, Of melody and madness, Of all sweet things and sour.
Sweet to the blithe bucolic Who knows nor cribs nor crams, Who sees the frisky frolic Of lanky little lambs; But sour beyond expression To one in deep depression Who sees the closing session And imminent exams.
He cannot hear the singing Of birds upon the bents, Nor watch the wildflowers springing, Nor smell the April scents. He gathers grief with grinding, Foul food of sorrow finding In books of dreary binding And drearier contents.
One hope alone sustains him, And no more hopes beside, One trust alone restrains him From shocking suicide; He will not play nor palter With hemlock or with halter, He will not fear nor falter, Whatever chance betide.
He knows examinations Like all things else have ends, And then come vast vacations And visits to his friends, And youth with pleasure yoking, And joyfulness and joking, And smilingness and smoking, For grief to make amends.
Sweetheart, that thou art fair I know, More fair to me Than flowers that make the loveliest show To tempt the bee.
When other girls, whose faces are, Beside thy face, As rushlights to the evening star, Deny thy grace,
I silent sit and let them speak, As men of strength Allow the impotent and weak To rail at length.
If they should tell me Love is blind, And so doth miss The faults which they are quick to find, I'd answer this:
Envy is blind; not Love, whose eyes Are purged and clear Through gazing on the perfect skies Of thine, my dear.
MUSIC FOR THE DYING
FROM THE FRENCH OF SULLY PRUDHOMME
Ye who will help me in my dying pain, Speak not a word: let all your voices cease. Let me but hear some soft harmonious strain, And I shall die at peace.
Music entrances, soothes, and grants relief From all below by which we are opprest; I pray you, speak no word unto my grief, But lull it into rest.
Tired am I of all words, and tired of aught That may some falsehood from the ear conceal, Desiring rather sounds which ask no thought, Which I need only feel:
A melody in whose delicious streams The soul may sink, and pass without a breath From fevered fancies into quiet dreams, From dreaming into death.
FAREWELL TO A SINGER
ON HER MARRIAGE
As those who hear a sweet bird sing, And love each song it sings the best, Grieve when they see it taking wing And flying to another nest:
We, who have heard your voice so oft, And loved it more than we can tell, Our hearts grow sad, our voices soft, Our eyes grow dim, to say farewell.
It is not kind to leave us thus; Yet we forgive you and combine, Although you now bring grief to us, To wish you joy, for auld lang syne.
THE CITY OF GOLF
Would you like to see a city given over, Soul and body, to a tyrannising game? If you would, there's little need to be a rover, For St. Andrews is the abject city's name.
It is surely quite superfluous to mention, To a person who has been here half an hour, That Golf is what engrosses the attention Of the people, with an all-absorbing power.
Rich and poor alike are smitten with the fever; Their business and religion is to play; And a man is scarcely deemed a true believer, Unless he goes at least a round a day.
The city boasts an old and learned college, Where you'd think the leading industry was Greek; Even there the favoured instruments of knowledge Are a driver and a putter and a cleek.
All the natives and the residents are patrons Of this royal, ancient, irritating sport; All the old men, all the young men, maids and matrons— The universal populace, in short.
In the morning, when the feeble light grows stronger, You may see the players going out in shoals; And when night forbids their playing any longer, They tell you how they did the different holes
Golf, golf, golf—is all the story! In despair my overburdened spirit sinks, Till I wish that every golfer was in glory, And I pray the sea may overflow the links.
One slender, struggling ray of consolation Sustains me, very feeble though it be: There are two who still escape infatuation, My friend M'Foozle's one, the other's me.
As I write the words, M'Foozle enters blushing, With a brassy and an iron in his hand . . . This blow, so unexpected and so crushing, Is more than I am able to withstand.
So now it but remains for me to die, sir. Stay! There is another course I may pursue— And perhaps upon the whole it would be wiser— I will yield to fate and be a golfer too!
FROM JEAN PIERRE CLARIS FLORIAN
I love to see the swallows come At my window twittering, Bringing from their southern home News of the approaching spring. 'Last year's nest,' they softly say, 'Last year's love again shall see; Only faithful lovers may Tell you of the coming glee.'
When the first fell touch of frost Strips the wood of faded leaves, Calling all their winged host, The swallows meet above the eaves 'Come away, away,' they cry, 'Winter's snow is hastening; True hearts winter comes not nigh, They are ever in the spring.'
If by some unhappy fate, Victim of a cruel mind, One is parted from her mate And within a cage confined, Swiftly will the swallow die, Pining for her lover's bower, And her lover watching nigh Dies beside her in an hour.
AFTER MANY DAYS
The mist hangs round the College tower, The ghostly street Is silent at this midnight hour, Save for my feet.
With none to see, with none to hear, Downward I go To where, beside the rugged pier, The sea sings low.
It sings a tune well loved and known In days gone by, When often here, and not alone, I watched the sky.
That was a barren time at best, Its fruits were few; But fruits and flowers had keener zest And fresher hue.
Life has not since been wholly vain, And now I bear Of wisdom plucked from joy and pain Some slender share.
But, howsoever rich the store, I'd lay it down, To feel upon my back once more The old red gown.
What the end the gods have destined unto thee and unto me, Ask not: 'tis forbidden knowledge. Be content, Leuconoe. Let alone the fortune-tellers. How much better to endure Whatsoever shall betide us—even though we be not sure Whether Jove grants other winters, whether this our last shall be That upon the rocks opposing dashes now the Tuscan sea. Be thou wise, and strain thy wines, and mindful of life's brevity Stint thy hopes. The envious moments, even while we speak, have flown; Trusting nothing to the future, seize the day that is our own.
ADVENTURE OF A POET
As I was walking down the street A week ago, Near Henderson's I chanced to meet A man I know.
His name is Alexander Bell, His home, Dundee; I do not know him quite so well As he knows me.
He gave my hand a hearty shake, Discussed the weather, And then proposed that we should take A stroll together.
Down College Street we took our way, And there we met The beautiful Miss Mary Gray, That arch coquette, Who stole last spring my heart away And has it yet.
That smile with which my bow she greets, Would it were fonder! Or else less fond—since she its sweets On all must squander. Thus, when I meet her in the streets, I sadly ponder, And after her, as she retreats, My thoughts will wander.
And so I listened with an air Of inattention, While Bell described a folding-chair Of his invention.
And when we reached the Swilcan Burn, 'It looks like rain,' Said I, 'and we had better turn.' 'Twas all in vain,
For Bell was weather-wise, and knew The signs aerial; He bade me note the strip of blue Above the Imperial,
Also another patch of sky, South-west by south, Which meant that we might journey dry To Eden's mouth.
He was a man with information On many topics: He talked about the exploration Of Poles and Tropics,
The scene in Parliament last night, Sir William's letter; 'And do you like the electric light, Or gas-lamps better?'
The strike among the dust-heap pickers He said was over; And had I read about the liquors Just seized at Dover?
Or the unhappy printer lad At Rothesay drowned? Or the Italian ironclad That ran aground?
He told me stories (lately come) Of good society, Some slightly tinged with truth, and some With impropriety.
He spoke of duelling in France, Then lightly glanced at Mrs. Mackenzie's monster dance, Which he had danced at.
So he ran on, till by-and-by A silence came, For which I greatly fear that I Was most to blame.
Then neither of us spoke a word For quite a minute, When presently a thought occurred With promise in it.
'How did you like the Shakespeare play The students read?' By this, the Eden like a bay Before us spread.
Near Eden many softer plots Of sand there be; Our feet, like Pharaoh's chariots, Drave heavily.
And ere an answer I could frame, He said that Irving Of his extraordinary fame Was undeserving,
And for his part he thought more highly Of Ellen Terry; Although he knew a girl named Riley At Broughty Ferry,
Who might be, if she only chose, As great a star. She had a part in the tableaux At the bazaar.
If I had said but little yet, I now said less, And smoked a home-made cigarette In mute distress.
The smoke into his face was blown By the wind's action, And this afforded me, I own, Some satisfaction;
But still his tongue received no check Till, coming home, We stood beside the ancient wreck And watched the foam
Wash in among the timbers, now Sunk deep in sand, Though I can well remember how I used to stand
On windy days and hold my hat, And idly turn To read 'Lovise, Frederikstad' Upon her stern.
Her stern long since was buried quite, And soon no trace The absorbing sand will leave in sight To mark her place.
This reverie was not permitted To last too long. Bell's mind had left the stage, and flitted To fields of song.
And now he spoke of Marmion And Lewis Morris; The former he at school had done, Along with Horace.
His maiden aunts, no longer young, But learned ladies, Had lately sent him Songs Unsung, Epic of Hades,
Gycia, and Gwen. He thought them fine; Not like that Browning, Of whom he would not read a line, He told me, frowning.
Talking of Horace—very clever, Beyond a doubt, But what the Satires meant, he never Yet could make out.
I said I relished Satire Nine Of the First Book; But he had skipped to the divine Eliza Cook.
He took occasion to declare, In tones devoted, How much he loved her old Arm-chair, Which now he quoted.
And other poets he reviewed, Some two or three, Till, having touched on Thomas Hood, He turned to me.
'Have you been stringing any rhymes Of late?' he said. I could not lie, but several times I shook my head.
The last straw to the earth will bow The o'erloaded camel, And surely I resembled now That ill-used mammal.
See how a thankless world regards The gifted choir Of minstrels, singers, poets, bards, Who sweep the lyre.
This is the recompense we meet In our vocation. We bear the burden and the heat Of inspiration;
The beauties of the earth we sing In glowing numbers, And to the 'reading public' bring Post-prandial slumbers;
We save from Mammon's gross dominion These sordid times . . . And all this, in the world's opinion, Is 'stringing rhymes.'
It is as if a man should say, In accents mild, 'Have you been stringing beads to-day, My gentle child?'
(Yet even children fond of singing Will pay off scores, And I to-day at least am stringing Not beads but bores.)
And now the sands were left behind, The Club-house past. I wondered, Can I hope to find Escape at last,
Or must I take him home to tea, And bear his chatter Until the last train to Dundee Shall solve the matter?
But while I shuddered at the thought And planned resistance, My conquering Alexander caught Sight in the distance
Of two young ladies, one of whom Is his ambition; And so, with somewhat heightened bloom, He asked permission
To say good-bye to me and follow. I freely gave it, And wished him all success. Apollo Sic me servavit.
A BUNCH OF TRIOLETS
You like the trifling triolet: Well, here are three or four. Unless your likings I forget, You like the trifling triolet. Against my conscience I abet A taste which I deplore; You like the trifling triolet: Well, here are three or four.
Have you ever met with a pretty girl Walking along the street, With a nice new dress and her hair in curl? Have you ever met with a pretty girl, When her hat blew off and the wind with a whirl Wafted it right to your feet? Have you ever met with a pretty girl Walking along the street?
I ran into a lady's arms, Turning a corner yesterday. To my confusion, her alarms, I ran into a lady's arms. So close a vision of her charms Left me without a word to say. I ran into a lady's arms, Turning a corner yesterday.
How many maids you love, How many maids love you! Your conscious blushes prove How many maids you love. Each trusts you like a dove, But would she, if she knew How many maids you love, How many maids love you?
A BALLAD OF REFRESHMENT
The lady stood at the station bar, (Three currants in a bun) And oh she was proud, as ladies are. (And the bun was baked a week ago.)
For a weekly wage she was standing there, (Three currants in a bun) With a prominent bust and light gold hair. (And the bun was baked a week ago.)
The express came in at half-past two, (Three currants in a bun) And there lighted a man in the navy blue. (And the bun was baked a week ago.)
A stout sea-captain he was, I ween. (Three currants in a bun) Much travel had made him very keen. (And the bun was baked a week ago.)
A sober man and steady was he. (Three currants in a bun) He called not for brandy, but called for tea. (And the bun was baked a week ago.)
'Now something to eat, for the train is late.' (Three currants in a bun) She brought him a bun on a greasy plate. (And the bun was baked a week ago.)
He left the bun, and he left the tea, (Three currants in a bun) She charged him a shilling and let him be, And the train went on at a quarter to three. (And the bun is old and weary.)
A DECEMBER DAY
Blue, blue is the sea to-day, Warmly the light Sleeps on St. Andrews Bay— Blue, fringed with white.
That's no December sky! Surely 'tis June Holds now her state on high, Queen of the noon.
Only the tree-tops bare Crowning the hill, Clear-cut in perfect air, Warn us that still
Winter, the aged chief, Mighty in power, Exiles the tender leaf, Exiles the flower.
Is there a heart to-day, A heart that grieves For flowers that fade away, For fallen leaves?
Oh, not in leaves or flowers Endures the charm That clothes those naked towers With love-light warm.
O dear St. Andrews Bay, Winter or Spring Gives not nor takes away Memories that cling
All round thy girdling reefs, That walk thy shore, Memories of joys and griefs Ours evermore.
A COLLEGE CAREER
When one is young and eager, A bejant and a boy, Though his moustache be meagre, That cannot mar his joy When at the Competition He takes a fair position, And feels he has a mission, A talent to employ.
With pride he goes each morning Clad in a scarlet gown, A cap his head adorning (Both bought of Mr. Brown); He hears the harsh bell jangle, And enters the quadrangle, The classic tongues to mangle And make the ancients frown.
He goes not forth at even, He burns the midnight oil, He feels that all his heaven Depends on ceaseless toil; Across his exercises A dream of many prizes Before his spirit rises, And makes his raw blood boil.
Though he be green as grass is, And fresh as new-mown hay Before the first year passes His verdure fades away. His hopes now faintly glimmer, Grow dim and ever dimmer, And with a parting shimmer Melt into 'common day.'
He cares no more for Liddell Or Scott; and Smith, and White, And Lewis, Short, and Riddle Are 'emptied of delight.' Todhunter and Colenso (Alas, that friendships end so!) He curses in extenso Through morning, noon, and night.
No more with patient labour The midnight oil he burns, But unto some near neighbour His fair young face he turns, To share the harmless tattle Which bejants love to prattle, As wise as infant's rattle Or talk of coots and herns.
At midnight round the city He carols wild and free Some sweet unmeaning ditty In many a changing key; And each succeeding verse is Commingled with the curses Of those whose sleep disperses Like sal volatile.
He shaves and takes his toddy Like any fourth year man, And clothes his growing body After another plan Than that which once delighted When, in the days benighted, Like some wild thing excited About the fields he ran.
A sweet life and an idle He lives from year to year, Unknowing bit or bridle (There are no proctors here), Free as the flying swallow Which Ida's Prince would follow If but his bones were hollow, Until the end draws near.
Then comes a Dies Irae, When full of misery And torments worse than fiery He crams for his degree; And hitherto unvexed books, Dry lectures, abstracts, text-books, Perplexing and perplexed books, Make life seem vanity.
Before admiring sister And mother, see, he stands, Made Artium Magister With laying on of hands. He gives his books to others (Perchance his younger brothers), And free from all such bothers Goes out into all lands.
THE WASTER'S PRESENTIMENT
I shall be spun. There is a voice within Which tells me plainly I am all undone; For though I toil not, neither do I spin, I shall be spun.
April approaches. I have not begun Schwegler or Mackintosh, nor will begin Those lucid works till April 21.
So my degree I do not hope to win, For not by ways like mine degrees are won; And though, to please my uncle, I go in, I shall be spun.
THE CLOSE OF THE SESSION
The Session's over. We must say farewell To these east winds and to this eastern sea, For summer comes, with swallow and with bee, With many a flower and many a golfing swell.
No more the horribly discordant bell Shall startle slumber; and all men agree That whatsoever other things may be A cause of sorrow, this at least is well.
The class-room shall not open wide its doors, Or if it does, such opening will be vain; The gown shall hang unused upon a nail; South Street shall know us not; we'll wipe the Scores From our remembrance; as for Mutto's Lane, Yea, even the memory of this shall fail.
A BALLAD OF THE TOWN WATER
It is the Police Commissioners, All on a winter's day; And they to prove the town water Have set themselves away.
They went to the north, they went to the south, And into the west went they, Till they found a civil, civil engineer, And unto him did say:
'Now tell to us, thou civil engineer, If this be fit to drink.' And they showed him a cup of the town water, Which was as black as ink.
He took three sips of the town water, And black in the face was he; And they turned them back and fled away, Amazed that this should be.
And he has written a broad letter And sealed it with a ring, And the letter saith that the town water Is not a goodly thing.
And they have met, and the Bailies all, And eke the Councillors, And they have ta'en the broad letter And read it within the doors.
And there has fallen a great quarrel, And a striving within the doors, And quarrelsome words have the Bailies said, And eke the Councillors.
And one saith, 'We will have other water,' And another saith, 'But nay;' And none may tell what the end shall be, Alack and well-a-day!
I love the inoffensive frog, 'A little child, a limber elf,' With health and spirits all agog, He does the long jump in a bog Or teaches men to swim and dive. If he should be cut up alive, Should I not be cut up myself?
So I intend to be straightway An Anti-Vivisectionist; I'll read Miss Cobbe five hours a day And watch the little frogs at play, With no desire to see their hearts At work, or other inward parts, If other inward parts exist.
TO NUMBER 27X.
Beloved Peeler! friend and guide And guard of many a midnight reeler, None worthier, though the world is wide, Beloved Peeler.
Thou from before the swift four-wheeler Didst pluck me, and didst thrust aside A strongly built provision-dealer
Who menaced me with blows, and cried 'Come on! Come on!' O Paian, Healer, Then but for thee I must have died, Beloved Peeler!
A STREET CORNER
Here, where the thoroughfares meet at an angle Of ninety degrees (this angle is right), You may hear the loafers that jest and wrangle Through the sun-lit day and the lamp-lit night; Though day be dreary and night be wet, You will find a ceaseless concourse met; Their laughter resounds and their Fife tongues jangle, And now and again their Fife fists fight.
Often here the voice of the crier Heralds a sale in the City Hall, And slowly but surely drawing nigher Is heard the baker's bugle call. The baker halts where the two ways meet, And the blast, though loud, is far from sweet That with breath of bellows and heart of fire He blows, till the echoes leap from the wall.
And on Saturday night just after eleven, When the taverns have closed a moment ago, The vocal efforts of six or seven Make the corner a place of woe. For the time is fitful, the notes are queer, And it sounds to him who dwelleth near Like the wailing for cats in a feline heaven By orphan cats who are left below.
Wherefore, O Bejant, Son of the Morning, Fresh as a daisy dipt in the dew, Hearken to me and receive my warning: Though rents be heavy, and bunks be few And most of them troubled with rat or mouse, Never take rooms in a corner house; Or sackcloth and ashes and sad self-scorning Shall be for a portion unto you.
THE POET'S HAT
The rain had fallen, the Poet arose, He passed through the doorway into the street, A strong wind lifted his hat from his head, And he uttered some words that were far from sweet. And then he started to follow the chase, And put on a spurt that was wild and fleet, It made the people pause in a crowd, And lay odds as to which would beat.
The street cad scoffed as he hunted the hat, The errand-boy shouted hooray! The scavenger stood with his broom in his hand, And smiled in a very rude way; And the clergyman thought, 'I have heard many words, But never, until to-day, Did I hear any words that were quite so bad As I heard that young man say.'
A SONG OF GREEK PROSE
Thrice happy are those Who ne'er heard of Greek Prose— Or Greek Poetry either, as far as that goes; For Liddell and Scott Shall cumber them not, Nor Sargent nor Sidgwick shall break their repose.
But I, late at night, By the very bad light Of very bad gas, must painfully write Some stuff that a Greek With his delicate cheek Would smile at as 'barbarous'—faith, he well might.
For when it is done, I doubt if, for one, I myself could explain how the meaning might run; And as for the style— Well, it's hardly worth while To talk about style, where style there is none.
It was all very fine For a poet divine Like Byron, to rave of Greek women and wine; But the Prose that I sing Is a different thing, And I frankly acknowledge it's not in my line.
So away with Greek Prose, The source of my woes! (This metre's too tough, I must draw to a close.) May Sargent be drowned In the ocean profound, And Sidgwick be food for the carrion crows!
AN ORATOR'S COMPLAINT
How many the troubles that wait On mortals!—especially those Who endeavour in eloquent prose To expound their views, and orate.
Did you ever attempt to speak When you hadn't a word to say? Did you find that it wouldn't pay, And subside, feeling dreadfully weak?
Did you ever, when going ahead In a fervid defence of the Stage, Get checked in your noble rage By somehow losing your thread?
Did you ever rise to reply To a toast (say 'The Volunteers'), And evoke loud laughter and cheers, When you didn't exactly know why?
Did you ever wax witty, and when You had smashed an opponent quite small, Did he seem not to mind it at all, But get up and smash you again?
If any or all of these things Have happened to you (as to me), I think you'll be found to agree With yours truly, when sadly he sings:
'How many the troubles that wait On mortals!—especially those Who endeavour in eloquent prose To expound their views, and orate.'
WITH APOLOGIES TO LORD TENNYSON
O swallow-tailed purveyor of college sprees, O skilled to please the student fraternity, Most honoured publican of Scotland, Milton, a name to adorn the Cross Keys; Whose chosen waiters, Samuel, Archibald, Helped by the boots and marker at billiards, Wait, as the smoke-filled, crowded chamber Rings to the roar of a Gaelic chorus— Me rather all those temperance hostelries, The soda siphon fizzily murmuring, And lime fruit juice and seltzer water Charm, as a wanderer out in South Street, Where some recruiting, eager Blue-Ribbonites Spied me afar and caught by the Post Office, And crimson-nosed the latest convert Fastened the odious badge upon me.
MAGNI NOMINIS UMBRA
St. Andrews! not for ever thine shall be Merely the shadow of a mighty name, The remnant only of an ancient fame Which time has crumbled, as thy rocks the sea.
For thou, to whom was given the earliest key Of knowledge in this land (and all men came To learn of thee), shalt once more rise and claim The glory that of right belongs to thee.
Grey in thine age, there yet in thee abides The force of youth, to make thyself anew A name of honour and a place of power. Arise, then! shake the dust from off thy sides; Thou shalt have many where thou now hast few; Again thou shalt be great. Quick come the hour!
SONG FROM 'THE PRINCESS'
As through the street at eve we went (It might be half-past ten), We fell out, my friend and I, About the cube of x+y, And made it up again. And blessings on the falling out Between two learned men, Who fight on points which neither knows, And make it up again! For when we came where stands an inn We visit now and then, There above a pint of beer, Oh there above a pint of beer, We made it up again.
FROM THE UNPUBLISHED REMAINS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE
It was many and many a year ago, In a city by the sea, That a man there lived whom I happened to know By the name of Andrew M'Crie; And this man he slept in another room, But ground and had meals with me.
I was an ass and he was an ass, In this city by the sea; But we ground in a way which was more than a grind, I and Andrew M'Crie; In a way that the idle semis next door Declared was shameful to see.
And this was the reason that, one dark night, In this city by the sea, A stone flew in at the window, hitting The milk-jug and Andrew M'Crie. And once some low-bred tertians came, And bore him away from me, And shoved him into a private house Where the people were having tea.
Professors, not half so well up in their work, Went envying him and me— Yes!—that was the reason, I always thought (And Andrew agreed with me), Why they ploughed us both at the end of the year, Chilling and killing poor Andrew M'Crie.
But his ghost is more terrible far than the ghosts Of many more famous than he— Of many more gory than he— And neither visits to foreign coasts, Nor tonics, can ever set free Two well-known Profs from the haunting wraith Of the injured Andrew M'Crie.
For at night, as they dream, they frequently scream, 'Have mercy, Mr. M'Crie!' And at morn they will rise with bloodshot eyes, And the very first thing they will see, When they dare to descend to their coffee and rolls, Sitting down by the scuttle, the scuttle of coals, With a volume of notes on its knee, Is the spectre of Andrew M'Crie.
I met him down upon the pier; His eyes were wild and sad, And something in them made me fear That he was going mad.
So, being of a prudent sort, I stood some distance off, And before speaking gave a short Conciliatory cough.
I then observed, 'What makes you look So singularly glum?' No notice of my words he took. I said, 'Pray, are you dumb?'
'Oh no!' he said, 'I do not think My power of speech is lost, But when one's hopes are black as ink, Why, talking is a frost.
'You see, I'm in for Math. again, And certain to be ploughed. Please tell me where I could obtain An inexpensive shroud.'
I told him where such things are had, Well made, and not too dear; And, feeling really very sad, I left him on the pier.
THE M.A. DEGREE
It was a phantom of delight When first it gleamed upon my sight, A scholarly distinction, sent To be a student's ornament. The hood was rich beyond compare, The gown was a unique affair. By this, by that my mind was drawn Then, in my academic dawn; A dancing shape, an image gay Before me then was my M.A.
I saw it upon nearer view, A glory, yet a bother too! For I perceived that I should be Involved in much Philosophy (A branch in which I could but meet Works that were neither light nor sweet); In Mathematics, not too good For human nature's daily food; And Classics, rendered in the styles Of Kelly, Bohn, and Dr. Giles.
And now I own, with some small spleen, A most confounded ass I've been; The glory seems an empty breath, And I am nearly bored to death With Reason, Consciousness, and Will, And other things beyond my skill, Discussed in books all darkly planned And more in number than the sand. Yet that M.A. still haunts my sight, With something of its former light.
After the melting of the snow Divines depart and April comes; Examinations nearer grow After the melting of the snow; The grinder wears a face of woe, The waster smokes and twirls his thumbs; After the melting of the snow Divines depart and April comes.
AT THE L.L.A. EXAMINATION
In Algebra, if Algebra be ours, x and x^2 can ne'er be equal powers, Unless x=1, or none at all.
It is the little error in the sum, That by and by will make the answer come To something queer, or else not come at all.
The little error in the easy sum, The little slit across the kettle-drum, That makes the instrument not play at all.
It is not worth correcting: let it go: But shall I? Answer, Prudence, answer, no. And bid me do it right or not at all.
THE WASTER SINGING AT MIDNIGHT
Loud he sang the song Ta Phershon For his personal diversion, Sang the chorus U-pi-dee, Sang about the Barley Bree.
In that hour when all is quiet Sang he songs of noise and riot, In a voice so loud and queer That I wakened up to hear.
Songs that distantly resembled Those one hears from men assembled In the old Cross Keys Hotel, Only sung not half so well.
For the time of this ecstatic Amateur was most erratic, And he only hit the key Once in every melody.
If 'he wot prigs wot isn't his'n Ven he's cotched is sent to prison,' He who murders sleep might well Adorn a solitary cell.
But, if no obliging peeler Will arrest this midnight squealer, My own peculiar arm of might Must undertake the job to-night.
THIRTY YEARS AFTER
Two old St. Andrews men, after a separation of nearly thirty years, meet by chance at a wayside inn. They interchange experiences; and at length one of them, who is an admirer of Mr. Swinburne's Poems and Ballads, speaks as follows:
If you were now a bejant, And I a first year man, We'd grind and grub together In every kind of weather, When Winter's snows were regent, Or when the Spring began; If you were now a bejant, And I a first year man.
If you were what you once were, And I the same man still, You'd be the gainer by it, For you—you can't deny it— A most uncommon dunce were; My profit would be nil, If you were what you once were, And I the same man still.
If you were last in Latin, And I were first in Greek, I'd write your Latin proses, While you indulged in dozes, Or carved the bench you sat in, So innocent and meek; If you were last in Latin, And I were first in Greek.
If I had got a prize, Jim, And your certif. was bad, And you were filled with sorrow And brooding on the morrow, I'd gently sympathise, Jim, And bid you not be sad, If I had got a prize, Jim, And your certif. was bad.
If I were through in Moral, And you were spun in Math., I'd break it to your parent, When you confessed you daren't, And so avert a quarrel And smooth away his wrath; If I were through in Moral, And you were spun in Math.
My prospects rather shone, Jim, And yours were rather dark, And those who knew us both then Would often take their oath then, That you would not get on, Jim, While I should make my mark; My prospects rather shone, Jim, And yours were rather dark.
Yet somehow you've made money, And I am still obscure; Your face is round and red, Jim, While I look underfed, Jim; The thing's extremely funny, And beats me, I am sure, Yet somehow you've made money, And I am still obscure.
THE GOLF-BALL AND THE LOAN
I drove a golf-ball into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For, so swiftly it flew, the sight Could not follow it in its flight.
I lent five shillings to some men, They spent it all, I know not when, For who is quick enough to know The time in which a crown may go?
Long, long afterward, in a whin I found the golf-ball, black as sin; But the five shillings are missing still! They haven't turned up, and I doubt if they will.
TO THE READER OF 'UNIVERSITY NOTES'
Ah yes, we know what you're saying, As your eye glances over these Notes: 'What asses are these that are braying With flat and unmusical throats? Who writes such unspeakable patter? Is it lunatics, idiots—or who?' And you think there is 'something the matter.' Well, we think so too.
We have sat, full of sickness and sorrow, As the hours dragged heavily on, Till the midnight has merged into morrow, And the darkness is going or gone. We are Editors. Give us the credit Of meaning to do what we could; But, since there is nothing to edit, It isn't much good.
Once we shared the delightful delusion That to edit was racy and rare, But we suffered a sad disillusion, And we found that our castles were air; We had decked them with carvings and gildings, We had filled them with laughter and fun, But all of a sudden the buildings Came down with a run.
Not a trace was there left of the carving, And the gilding had vanished from sight; But the 'column' for matter was starving, And we had not to edit—but write. So we set to and wrote. Can you wonder, If the writing was feeble or dead? We had started as editors—Thunder! We were authors instead.
We'd mistaken our calling, election, Vocation, department, and use; We had thought that our task was selection, And we found that we had to produce. So we sigh for release from our labours, We pray for a happy despatch, We will take our last leave of our neighbours, And then—Colney Hatch.
We are singing this dolorous ditty As we part at the foot of the stairs; We cannot but think it's a pity, But what matter? there's nobody cares. Our candle burns low in its socket, There is nothing left but the wick; And these Notes, that went up like a rocket, Come down like the stick.
Ever to be the best. To lead In whatsoever things are true; Not stand among the halting crew, The faint of heart, the feeble-kneed, Who tarry for a certain sign To make them follow with the rest— Oh, let not their reproach be thine! But ever be the best.
For want of this aspiring soul, Great deeds on earth remain undone, But, sharpened by the sight of one, Many shall press toward the goal. Thou running foremost of the throng, The fire of striving in thy breast, Shalt win, although the race be long, And ever be the best.
And wilt thou question of the prize? 'Tis not of silver or of gold, Nor in applauses manifold, But hidden in the heart it lies: To know that but for thee not one Had run the race or sought the quest, To know that thou hast ever done And ever been the best.
CATULLUS AT HIS BROTHER'S GRAVE
Through many lands and over many seas I come, my Brother, to thine obsequies, To pay thee the last honours that remain, And call upon thy voiceless dust, in vain. Since cruel fate has robbed me even of thee, Unhappy Brother, snatched away from me, Now none the less the gifts our fathers gave, The melancholy honours of the grave, Wet with my tears I bring to thee, and say Farewell! farewell! for ever and a day.
LOST AT SEA
Lost at sea, with all on board! No one saw their sinking sail, No one heard their dying wail, Heard them calling on the Lord— Lost at sea, with all on board.
Till the sea gives up its dead, There they lie in quiet sleep, And the voices of the deep Sound unheeded overhead, Till the sea gives up its dead.
A day of gladness yet will dawn, Though when I cannot say; Perhaps it may be Thursday week, Perhaps some other day,—
When man, freed from the bond of clothes, And needing no more food, Shall never pull his neighbour's nose, But be extremely good.
When Love and Nobleness shall live Next door to Truth and Right, While Reverence shall rent a room, Upon the second flight.
And wishes shall be horses then, And beggars shall be kings; And all the people shall admire This pleasant state of things.
But if it seems a mystery, And you're inclined to doubt it, Just ask your local poet. He Will tell you all about it.
THE DELIGHTS OF MATHEMATICS
It seems a hundred years or more Since I, with note-book, ink and pen, In cap and gown, first trod the floor Which I have often trod since then; Yet well do I remember when, With fifty other fond fanatics, I sought delights beyond my ken, The deep delights of Mathematics.
I knew that two and two made four, I felt that five times two were ten, But, as for all profounder lore, The robin redbreast or the wren, The sparrow, whether cock or hen, Knew quite as much about Quadratics, Was less confused by x and n, The deep delights of Mathematics.
The Asses' Bridge I passed not o'er, I floundered in the noisome fen Which lies behind it and before; I wandered in the gloomy glen Where Surds and Factors have their den. But when I saw the pit of Statics, I said Good-bye, Farewell, Amen! The deep delights of Mathematics.
O Bejants! blessed, beardless men, Who strive with Euclid in your attics, For worlds I would not taste again The deep delights of Mathematics.
STANZAS FOR MUSIC
I loved a little maiden In the golden years gone by; She lived in a mill, as they all do (There is doubtless a reason why). But she faded in the autumn When the leaves began to fade, And the night before she faded, These words to me she said: 'Do not forget me, Henry, Be noble and brave and true; But I must not bide, for the world is wide, And the sky above is blue.'
So I said farewell to my darling, And sailed away and came back; And the good ship Jane was in port again, And I found that they all loved Jack. But Polly and I were sweethearts, As all the neighbours know, Before I met with the mill-girl Twenty years ago. So I thought I would go and see her, But alas, she had faded too! She could not bide, for the world was wide, And the sky above was blue.
And now I can only remember The maid—the maid of the mill, And Polly, and one or two others In the churchyard over the hill. And I sadly ask the question, As I weep in the yew-tree's shade With my elbow on one of their tombstones, 'Ah, why did they all of them fade?' And the answer I half expected Comes from the solemn yew, 'They could none of them bide, for the world was wide, And the sky above was blue.'
THE END OF APRIL
This is the time when larks are singing loud And higher still ascending and more high, This is the time when many a fleecy cloud Runs lamb-like on the pastures of the sky, This is the time when most I love to lie Stretched on the links, now listening to the sea, Now looking at the train that dawdles by; But James is going in for his degree.
James is my brother. He has twice been ploughed, Yet he intends to have another shy, Hoping to pass (as he says) in a crowd. Sanguine is James, but not so sanguine I. If you demand my reason, I reply: Because he reads no Greek without a key And spells Thucydides c-i-d-y; Yet James is going in for his degree.
No doubt, if the authorities allowed The taking in of Bohns, he might defy The stiffest paper that has ever cowed A timid candidate and made him fly. Without such aids, he all as well may try To cultivate the people of Dundee, Or lead the camel through the needle's eye; Yet James is going in for his degree.
Vain are the efforts hapless mortals ply To climb of knowledge the forbidden tree; Yet still about its roots they strive and cry, And James is going in for his degree.
THE SCIENCE CLUB
Hurrah for the Science Club! Join it, ye fourth year men; Join it, thou smooth-cheeked scrub, Whose years scarce number ten
Join it, divines most grave; Science, as all men know, As a friend the Church may save, But may damage her as a foe.
(And in any case it is well, If attacking insidious doubt, Or devoting H—- to H—-, To know what you're talking about.)
Hurrah for the lang-nebbit word! Hurrah for the erudite phrase, That in Dura Den shall be heard, That shall echo on Kinkell Braes!
Hurrah for the spoils of the links (The golf-ball as well as the daisy)! Hurrah for explosions and stinks To set half the landladies crazy!
Hurrah for the fragments of boulders, Surpassing in size and in weight, To be carried home on the shoulders And laid on the table in state!
Hurrah for the flying-machine Long buried from sight in a cupboard, With bones that would never have been Desired of old Mother Hubbard!
Hurrah for the hazardous boat, For the crabs (of all kinds) to be caught, For the eggs on the surface that float, And the lump-sucker curiously wrought!
Hurrah for the filling of tanks In the shanty down by the shore, For the Royal Society's thanks, With Fellowships flying galore!
Hurrah for discourses on worms, Where one listens and comes away With a stock of bewildering terms, And nothing whatever to pay!
Hurrah for gadding about Of a Saturday afternoon, In the light of research setting out, Coming home in the light of the moon!
Hurrah for Guardbridge, and the mill Where one learns how paper is made! Hurrah for the samples that fill One's drawer with the finest cream-laid!
Hurrah for the Brewery visit And beer in liberal doses! In the cause of Science, what is it But inspecting a technical process?
Hurrah for a trip to Dundee To study the spinning of jute! Hurrah for a restaurant tea, And a sight of the Tay Bridge to boot!
Hurrah, after every excursion, To feel one's improving one's mind, With the smallest amount of exertion, And that of the pleasantest kind!
IMITATED FROM WORDSWORTH
He brought a team from Inversnaid To play our Third Fifteen, A man whom none of us had played And very few had seen.
He weighed not less than eighteen stone, And to a practised eye He seemed as little fit to run As he was fit to fly.
He looked so clumsy and so slow, And made so little fuss; But he got in behind—and oh, The difference to us!
REFLECTIONS OF A MAGISTRAND
ON RETURNING TO ST. ANDREWS
In the hard familiar horse-box I am sitting once again; Creeping back to old St. Andrews comes the slow North British train,
Bearing bejants with their luggage (boxes full of heavy books, Which the porter, hot and tipless, eyes with unforgiving looks),
Bearing third year men and second, bearing them and bearing me, Who am now a fourth year magnate with two parts of my degree.
We have started off from Leuchars, and my thoughts have started too Back to times when this sensation was entirely fresh and new.
When I marvelled at the towers beyond the Eden's wide expanse, Eager-hearted as a boy when first he leaves his father's manse
With some money in his pocket, with some down upon his cheek, With the elements of Latin, with the rudiments of Greek.
And his spirit leaps within him to be gone before him then, Underneath the towers he looks at, in among the throngs of men,
Men from Fife and men from Forfar, from the High School of Dundee, Ten or twelve from other counties, and from England two or three.
Oh, the Bursary Competition! oh, the wonder and the rage, When I saw my name omitted from the schedule in the cage!
Grief is strong but youth elastic, and I rallied from the blow, For I felt that there were few things in the world I did not know.
Then my ready-made opinions upon all things under heaven I declaimed with sound and fury, to an audience of eleven
Gathered in the Logic class-room, sworn to settle the debate, Does the Stage upon the whole demoralise or elevate?
This and other joys I tasted. I became a Volunteer, Murmuring Dulce et decorum in the Battery-Sergeant's ear;
Joined the Golf Club, and with others of an afternoon was seen Vainly searching in the whins, or foozling on the putting-green;
Took a minor part in Readings; lifted up my voice and sang At the Musical rehearsals, till the class-room rafters rang;
Wrote long poems for the Column; entered for the S. R. C, And, if I remember rightly, was thrown out by twenty-three;
Ground a little for my classes, till the hour of nine or ten, When I read a decent novel or went out to see some men.
So I reaped the large experience which has made me what I am, Far removed from bejanthood as is St. Andrews from Siam.
But with age and with experience disenchantment comes to all, Even pleasure on the keenest appetite at last will pall.
Had I now a hundred pounds, a hundred pounds would I bestow To enjoy the loud solatium as I did three years ago,
When the songs were less familiar, less familiar too the pies, And I did not mind receiving orange-peel between the eyes.
Yet, in spite of disenchantment, and in spite of finding out There are some things in the world that I am hardly sure about,
Still sufficient of illusion and inexplicable grace Hangs about the grey old town to make it a delightful place.
Though solatiums charm no longer, though a gaudeamus fails With its atmosphere unwholesome to expand my spirit's sails,
Though rectorial elections are if anything a bore, And I do not care to carry dripping torches any more,
Though my soul for Moral lectures does not vehemently yearn, Though the north-east winds are bitter—I am willing to return.
At this point in my reflections, on the left the Links expand, Many a whin bush full of prickles, many a bunker full of sand.
And I see distinguished club-men, whom I only know by sight, Old, obese, and scarlet-coated, playing golf with all their might;
As they were three years ago, when first I travelled by this train, As they will be three years hence, if I should come this way again.
What to them is train or traveller? what to them the flight of time? But we draw too near the station to indulge in the sublime.
In a minute at the furthest on the platform I shall stand, Waiting till they take my trunk out, with my hat-box in my hand.
As the railway train approaches and the train of thought recedes, I behold Professor —- in a brand new suit of tweeds.
TO C. C. C.
Oh for the nights when we used to sit In the firelight's glow or flicker, With the gas turned low and our pipes all lit, And the air fast growing thicker;
When you, enthroned in the big arm-chair, Would spin for us yarns unending, Your voice and accent and pensive air With the narrative subtly blending!
Oh for the bleak and wintry days When we set our blood in motion, Leaping the rocks below the braes And wetting our feet in the ocean,
Or shying at marks for moderate sums (A penny a hit, you remember), With aching fingers and purple thumbs, In the merry month of December!
There is little doubt we were very daft, And our sports, like the stakes, were trifling; While the air of the room where we talked and laughed Was often unpleasantly stifling.
Now we are grave and sensible men, And wrinkles our brows embellish, And I fear we shall never relish again The pleasures we used to relish.
And I fear we never again shall go, The cold and weariness scorning, For a ten mile walk through the frozen snow At one o'clock in the morning:
Out by Cameron, in by the Grange, And to bed as the moon descended . . . To you and to me there has come a change, And the days of our youth are ended.
ON AN EDINBURGH ADVOCATE
In youth with diligence he toiled A Roman nose to gain, But though a decent pug was spoiled, A pug it did remain.
THE BANISHED BEJANT
FROM THE UNPUBLISHED REMAINS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE
In the oldest of our alleys, By good bejants tenanted, Once a man whose name was Wallace— William Wallace—reared his head. Rowdy Bejant in the college He was styled: Never had these halls of knowledge Welcomed waster half so wild!
Tassel blue and long and silken From his cap did float and flow (This was cast into the Swilcan Two months ago); And every gentle air that sported With his red gown, Displayed a suit of clothes, reported The most alarming in the town.
Wanderers in that ancient alley Through his luminous window saw Spirits come continually From a case well packed with straw, Just behind the chair where, sitting With air serene, And in a blazer loosely fitting, The owner of the bunk was seen.
And all with cards and counters straying Was the place littered o'er, With which sat playing, playing, playing, And wrangling evermore, A group of fellows, whose chief function Was to proclaim, In voices of surpassing unction, Their luck and losses in the game.
But stately things, in robes of learning, Discussed one day the bejant's fate: Ah, let us mourn him unreturning, For they resolved to rusticate! And now the glory he inherits, Thus dished and doomed, Is largely founded on the merits Of the Old Tom consumed.
And wanderers, now, within that alley Through the half-open shutters see, Old crones, that talk continually In a discordant minor key: While, with a kind of nervous shiver, Past the front door, His former set go by for ever, But knock—or ring—no more.
For the information of those who have not the happiness to be members of the University of St. Andrews, it may be well to explain a few terms. A bejant is an undergraduate student of the first year. In his second year he becomes a semi, in his third a tertian, and in his fourth a magistrand. The last would seem to be a gerundive form, implying that a man at the end of his fourth year ought to be made a Master of Arts; but unfortunately this does not always happen. A divine is a student in Divinity. A waster is a man of idle and (it may be) profligate habits. A grinder, on the contrary, is one who 'grinds' or reads with an unusual degree of application. A bunk is the lodging or abode in St. Andrews of any student. A spree is not necessarily an entertainment of rowdy character; the most decorous Professorial dinner- party would be called a spree. A solatium is a Debating Society spree, held in December or January; a gaudeamus is a festival of the same kind, only rather more ambitious, celebrated towards the close of the session. Session would be rendered in England by 'term.' The Competition (for Bursaries), or the 'Comp.,' is the examination for entrance scholarships. The cage is a curious structure of glass, iron, and wood, in which notices and examination lists are posted. The letters S. R. C. denote the Students' Representative Council. An L.L.A. is a Lady Literate in Arts. Math. (as the discerning reader will not be slow to perceive) is an abbreviation, endearing or otherwise, of the word Mathematics. Moral stands for Moral Philosophy. Prof. is a shortened form of Professor, and certif. of certificate. Plough, pluck, and spin are used indifferently, to signify the action of an examiner in rejecting a candidate for the M.A. or any other degree. It should be mentioned that the degree of B.A. is not now conferred by the Universities of Scotland.
Page 4. Euripides: Hippolytus, 70-87.
Page 22. Odes, I. II.
Page 52. The Town Water. The state of things described in this ballad, so far as the quality of St. Andrews water is concerned, has long since been remedied. As to the demeanour of the Bailies and Councillors, I cannot speak with the same certainty.
Page 64. Milton, a name to adorn the Cross Keys. Mr. Milton's name is no longer associated with this time-honoured tavern, but with a new hotel.
Page 86. [GREEK TITLE]. The motto in the Upper Library Hall, where the ceremony of Graduation takes place.
Page 88. Catullus, CI.
Page 101. The shanty down by the shore. The St. Andrews Marine Biological Laboratory.
Page 117. This was cast into the Swilcan. The Swilcan Burn is a small stream which flows across the golfing links, and forms one of the hazards of the course.
EDINBURGH T. & A. CONSTABLE Printers to Her Majesty