Puslapio vaizdai

Why, tourist, why

The Seven Mountains view?
Any one at home can tint

A hill with Prussian blue.

Why, tourist, why

To old Colonia's walls?

Sure, to see a Wren-ish dome

One needn't leave St. Paul's.

This shows Hood at his most characteristic occupationpunning; a habit which may be further illustrated in these thoroughly Hood-ish verses On Sir John Bowring :'

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To Bowring, man of many tongues

(All over tongues, like Rumour),

This tributary verse belongs

To paint his learned humour.

All kinds of gabs he talks, I wis,
From Latin down to Scottish;

As fluent as a parrot is,

And far from Polly-glottish.

No grammar too abstruse he meets,
However dark and verby;

He gossips Greek about the streets,

And often Russ-in-urbe;

Strange tongues, whate'er you do them call;—
In short, the man is able

To tell you what's o'clock in all

The dial-ects in Babel.

Take him on 'Change. Try Portuguese,
The Moorish and the Spanish,

Polish, Hungarian, Tyrolese,

The Swedish and the Danish.

Try him with these, and fifty such,
His skill will ne'er diminish;
Although you should begin in Dutch,
And end, like me, in Fin-nish !

Of course, Hood did something else than merely pun.

Punning was, indeed, the major portion of his business, and he carried it to a perfection never surpassed and rarely ever equalled. But, for a change, he now and then made incursions in another vein, that of surprise or incongruity-whichever you please to call it the linking of the serious with the trivial, the alternating of the pathetic with the humorous, the high-flown with the commonplace. You see this in his famous and familiar Ode to his Son.' You see it, too, not so familiarly, in what he modestly describes as 'A few Lines on completing Forty-seven :'

When I reflect with serious sense,

While years and years run on,
How soon I may be summoned hence-
There's cook a-calling, John!

Our lives are built, so frail and poor,
On sand, and not on rocks;
We're hourly standing at Death's door-
There's some one double-knocks!

All human days have settled terms;
Our fates we cannot force.

This flesh of mine will feed the worms-
They've come to lunch, of course.

And when my body's turned to clay,
And dear friends hear my knell,
O, let them give a sigh and say—
I hear the up-stairs bell!

Hood was guilty, among other things, of many epigrams, a whole crop of which may be read in the pages of his Whims and Oddities. They chiefly depend for their point upon a pun; but though they may thus lose a good deal of true epigrammatic effect, they are not the less clever and amusing. The following, 'On a Picture called "The Doubtful Sneeze," appeared originally in the London Magazine:

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The Doubtful Sneeze! A failure quite;

A winker half, and half a gaper—

Alas, to paint on canvas here

What should have been on tissue-paper!


When Eve upon the first of men

The apple pressed with specious cant,
O, what a thousand pities then

That Adam was not Adam-ant!

Hood must have written hundreds of such trifles altogether; and none of them, probably, were much, if at all, below mediocrity.

We have placed Thackeray next to Hood; for it is obvious that, of all his contemporaries, he most nearly approached him in the breadth and depth of his vis comica. As a humourist pure and simple, Thackeray is of course a greater man than Hood; but we have to do in these pages only with the humour and the wit of verse; and in that respect Thackeray must, notwithstanding his delicious ballads, follow after the creator of Miss Kilmansegg. The volume of Thackeray's Ballads, &c., is indeed a mine of hearty laughter; but it cannot compare with the 'splendid flowershow' (as Browning said of Tennyson) of his rival. Thackeray's happiest efforts are, perhaps, the Ballads of Policeman X;' and of these undoubtedly the most exquisite, as it is the most famous, is that on Jacob Omnium :

Who was this master good

Of whomb I makes these rhymes?
His name is Jacob Homnium, Exquire:
And if I'd committed crimes,

Good Lord! I wouldn't 'ave that man
Attack me in the Times!

But beyond all question the prince of purely comic ballads is that unapproachable one on 'Little Billee,' which may be found fully and correctly given in the author's works. Who, however, does not know much of it, if not all of it, by heart? Who is unable to narrate how, once upon a time,

There were three sailors of Bristol city
Who took a boat and went to sea: . . .

There was gorging Jack and guzzling Jimmy,
And the youngest he was little Billee;


When they got as far as the Equator,
They'd nothing left but one split pea;

how gorging Jack then said to guzzling Jimmy,

I am extremely hungaree;'

and how guzzling Jimmy replied to gorging Jack,

'We've nothing left, us must eat we'?

Who, too, does not remember the masterly confusion at the end, when little Billee jumps up, and declares he sees

Jerusalem and Madagascar,

And North and South Amerikee;

There's the British flag a-riding at anchor,

With Admiral Napier, K.C.B.

Is it too much to say that in this very clever masterpiecewe have the germ of the Bab Ballads of a later day? Then, among other favourites, there is the characteristic Peg of Limavaddy,' with its happy-go-lucky rhymes and swinging metre:

Presently a maid

Enters with the liquor

(Half a pint of ale

Frothing in the beaker).

Gods! I didn't know

What my beating heart meant:

Hebe's self, I thought,

Entered the apartment.

As she came she smiled,

And the smile bewitching,

On my word and honour,

Lighted up the kitchen!

There is one little effort of Thackeray's which we may venture, we think, to give in full-his facile expansion or adaptation-it can hardly be called translation of the Persicos Odi.' It is hardly what Horace would have

written had he written in English, for there is the least possible touch of bourgeoisie about it, but nevertheless the tour de force is happy:

Dear Lucy, you know what my wish is,—

I hate all your Frenchified fuss:
Your silly entrées and made dishes
Were never intended for us.

No footman in lace or in ruffles

Need dangle behind my arm-chair,
And never mind seeking for truffles,
Although they be never so rare.

But a plain leg of mutton, my Lucy,
I prithee get ready at three:
Have it smoking and tender and juicy,

And what better meat can there be?

And when it has feasted the master,
'Twill amply suffice for the maid;
Meanwhile, I will smoke my canaster,
And tipple my ale in the shade.

All Thackeray's very best verses appeared in the pages of Punch-a periodical which has at all times rejoiced in the possession of an able staff. Of this not the least prominent member, in the last generation, was Charles Shirley Brooks, one of the most typical littérateurs of the present century. A novelist of more than ordinary power, and a dramatist of considerable reputation, his greatest, though not of course his most permanent, successes were those which he achieved as a journalist, and especially as a comic journalist. His contributions to Punch during the twenty years of his connection with it were particularly admirable -so numerous, indeed, that the same high level could not always be maintained-still, never below mediocrity, and generally sparkling with the keenest wit. Brooks had especially the gift of parody, as may be seen in this skit of one of Mr. Tennyson's most pathetic lyrics:

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