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Its pleasant Isis, sweet to see,
So reeded and so watery!
Its bosky banks, enriching well
With green, old Learning's citadel !
Yet, after all, 'tis solitude
Of stone, of water, and of wood,
Of leaf, of river, and of brook,
Of trencher-hat, and gown, and book:-
Oh! life at Oxford is but death
Allow'd a little,- little breath!
Come up to town !-come up to me I have a knife and fork for thee, A little room,-a sofa bed, A platter, and a crumb of bread, An easy chair,-a merry fire, — And say,–What more can heart desire ?-Beneath my stairs in snug repose, Immured in sawdust, lie two rows Of those dark gentry, who inherit Long heads of cork, and hearts of spirit. They shall our moralizers be, And hold the glass to thee and me! And we will see ourselves, as free as Ourselves should see, not others see us. The postman's knock each morn shall shake Thy married eyelids wide awake: And if a little bilious (bottles Will raise the bile in lazy throttles), A taste of soda shall unyellow The eye-light of my Oxford Fellow. Then for a breakfast, slow and sure, (A hasty one I can't endure,)
A chat on Britain's own Fizgerald,
A lounge upon the Morning Herald,
Where Mr. White the fancy courts
In his divine Police Reports.
-The cloth removed--the cups from the board
(You know, we now expel the tea-board)
A turn or two about the room ;
Or if perchance the morning's gloom
Be prevalent-a game of draughts
To exercise each other's crafts.
We'll none of chess !- I hate the name
Of that old Tabernacle game,
That “ intellectual amusement,"
Meant half for fun, and half for use meant,
That odious tedious mode of slothing,
O’er which you hang and play for nothing
That bitter patience-teazing food-
That sober gambling for the good.
We'll have a hock of ham for lunching-
A pair of muffled gloves for punching
Two sticks to play at single stick-
To try if heads be thin or thick,
A pair of foils for button pinking-
All things in short that lead from thinking!
* Dinner shall come and we will beat
Two aldermen in what we eat:
Not in our quantity,—but in
The dainties slided o’er the chin-
The little lamb, the bright slim bean,
The thin wine in the glass of green,
The cherry tart full of the fruit,
The Stilton, with the ale to suit,
And the cool crimson store that keeps
Its steady flow, till either sleeps !
Brief, and yet pleasant be our slumber,
For tinkling cups, just two in number,
And steaming kettle,- singing long
And whisperingly its vesper song,
Shall call us to our sweet bohea,
And freshen us o'er fragrant tea!
You shall tell tales of sober college,
And libel old and gowned knowledge ;
And I'll beguile the Chinese hour
With English stories, bright in flower !
What for the night ?-My friend inquires :Two candles and the best of firesA pleasant game of double dummy, With cards not new, nor yet too thumby ; Spicy the points-a stirring bet Our spirit in the game to whet; Then hey! for thrifty play, and care, Shuffling and sorting-here and there The cautious spade led through the king, The sniff*d revoke—the “No such thing," The powers of candid dummy scann'd, The playing up to the weak handThe gentle heart—the thundering clubThere, double, single, and the rub!
Put by the cards, my gallant Tony,
(Let me conclude you've paid the money,)
The supper's here, quick at the call had,
Stale bread-old beer-a lobster-salad.
These set the appetite a-raving,
Yet satisfy the fiercest craving :-
And let me tell you when you've pass'd
An idle day from first to last,
And labour'd hard at doing little,
The stomach hungereth after victual.
'Tis getting late:-Oh, that's no matterHere! stay—there's brandy--there's the waterThe sugar,-mix, yourself !-no doubt (Some drink“ warm with,” some“ cold without,” You'll take what best your taste delights: But something must be had a-nights!
Then sitting, lad, behind the glass,
While the late moments mutely pass,
We whiff the fragrant mild cigar,
And mount upon the silver car
Of its bright clouds, in spirits then,-
And dream into ethereal men !
-To bed-to bed-as Macbeth's wife
Whisper'd in sleep : the springs of life
Are gone down with the sunken day ;-
And, we must rest.—To bed-away!
Such be your in-door pastime :-can
A tidier be contrived for man?-
If you would read ;-Ned Ward (not I)
The wit;– Tom Brown-Arbuthnot-lie
In a recess mahogany ;-
With Swift_and Congreve-Vanbrugh-all
That made our language magical !-
The less of reading, though, the better
This is the burden of my letter.
No more now write, and say you come,
Change your book cell for a warm room ;-
With London spirits all about you,
And one with you,—who's nought without you!
NED WARD, Jun.
P. S.-Should you not “stir at this,” I'll write
More wonders on another night ;-
And show you “ London Town” outright!
“ POURQUOI EXISTONS-NOUS ?"--VOLTAIRE.
Doctors, though skill'd in Nature's laws,
Are posed to find a final cause
Why first she breathed upon man's clay,
And call’d him forth to light and day.
To man, they ask, can it be given,
Poor worm, to glorify high Heaven?
Or can Omnipotence require
The nasal praise of earthly quire ?
And, more presumptuous still, they task
The fountain of their breath, and ask,
Can Providence its business further
By wars and famine, lust, and murder,
In tears, in sighs, and blood delighting,
The equal fruits of love and fighting?
Such are the knotty points and curious
Which men, by too much love made furious,
Turn on all sides, -as dogs an urchin,-
Yet gain no truth by all their searching.