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In 1879 the Editor of The World offered a prize for the best parody on Tennyson's LotusEaters, the chosen subject being "Her Majesty's Ministers at Greenwich."
The prize was awarded to the author of the following parody, which appeared in The World, for September 3rd, 1879:
THE WHITEBAIT EATERS.
"COURAGE!" they said, and pointed through the gloom; "There is a haven in yon fishful clime," At dinner-time they came into a room,
In which it seemed all day dinner-time. All in the midst the banquet rose sublime,
Whose menu excellent no tongue might blame;
The mild-eyed muddle-headed whitebait-eaters came.
And sweet it was to jest of late affairs,
Of Ward and Power and Cat; but evermore Most weary seemed the Session almost o'er, Weary Hibernian nights of barren seed.
Then some one said, "We shall come here no more!" And all at once they cried, "No more, indeed The ballot shall release; we will no longer lead "
Why are we weighed upon with weariness,
But yield perpetual jest,
Still from one blunder to another thrown:
Nor ever pack our tricks,
And cease from politics;
Nor vote our last against the wild O'Connor;
Nor hearken what the moving spirit said,
"Let there be Peace with Honour!"
Why should we always toil, when England's trust is dead?
Let us alone. What pleasure could we have
To war with Afghans? But the Chief said "Fight! The times are perilous and the Jingoes rave, Whate'er I do is right.'
(drawn by Matt Morgan) in condemnation of this senseless and dangerous form of entertainment; it also published the following parody:
A DREAM OF FAIR WOMEN.
I READ, before I fell into a doze,
Some book about old fashions-curious tales
Of medieval milliners, whose taste
Of powdered heroes of the later days-
All belt and bucket boots
So shape chased shape (as swiftly as, when knocks
Till fancy, running riot in my brain,
Elbowed the PAST from out the PRESENT's way;
Methought that I was on what's called "a spree,"
Where youth with tipsy rapture drowns in beer
Then flashed before me in the gaslight's glare
Shame on the gaping crowds who only know
I saw that now, since License holds such sway,
And then methought I stood in fairy bowers,
Where Art groans under an unseemly ban,
Then starting I awoke from my nightmare.
A nightmare? No! the truth came clear to me. I'd dream'd the truth-bare facts (O much too bare!) And stern reality.
(After Mr. Tennyson's "Margaret.")
O, SLIPSHOD Mary Ann,
What gives your arms such fearful power
Who gave you strength, your mortal dower,
What can it matter, Mary Ann,
What songs the long-legged son of Mars-
Sings to you thro' the area bars?
O, red-armed Mary, you may tell
You stand not in such attitudes,
As your twin-sister, Mary Jane,
Or crimson as the damask rose !
ALBANY CLARKE. From The Weekly Dispatch, June 25th, 1882.
It is in the strongly marked individuality of some of Tennyson's early poems that we find the secret of much of his popularity, and the excuse for the vast number of parodies' of his works scattered about in nearly all our humorous literature. Three of his early poems have been especially chosen by parodists as models for imitation; these are "The May Queen," "Locksley Hall," and "The Charge of the Light Brigade."
In the "Bon Gaultier Ballads," by Theodore Martin and Professor Aytoun, will be found several parodies of Tennyson, also of Lord Macaulay, Thomas Moore, Bulwer Lytton, Mrs. Browning, and of Leigh Hunt, of whom parodies are somewhat scarce.
Of the parodies of Tennyson," Caroline" and "The Laureate have already been quoted; the others are "The Lay of the Lovelorn" and "The Dirge of the Drinker," both in imitation
of "Locksley Hall," "La Mort D'Arthur," concerning Mechi's steel; and "The Biter Bit."
"The Biter Bit" is a kind of burlesque continuation of "The May Queen," the pathos of the original being turned into cynical indifference, whilst preserving a great similarity of style and versification.
THE BITER BIT.
THE sun is in the sky, mother, the flowers are springing fair,
They are going to the church, mother, -I hear the marriage bell:
It booms along the upland, oh! it haunts me like a knell ; He leads her on his arm, mother, he cheers her faltering
And closely to his side she clings-she does, the demirep!
They are crossing by the stile, mother, where we so oft have stood,
The stile beside the shady thorn, at the corner of the wood; And the boughs, that wont to murmur back the words that
won my ear,
Wave their silver blossoms o'er him, as he leads his bridal fere.
He will pass beside the stream, mother, where first my hand he pressed,
By the meadow where, with quivering lip, his passion he confessed;
And down the hedgerows where we've strayed again and yet again;
But he will not think of me, mother, his broken-hearted Jane!
He said that I was proud, mother, that I looked for rank and gold;
He said I did not love him,-he said my words were cold; He said I kept him off and on, in hopes of higher game,And it may be that I did, mother, but who hasn't done the same?
I did not know my heart, mother, -I know it now too late; I thought that I without a pang could wed some nobler mate;
But no nobler suitor sought me,-and he has taken wing. And my heart is gone, and I am left a lone and blighted thing.
You may lay me in my bed, mother, my head is throbbing
And mother, prithee, let the sheets be duly aired before; And if you'd do a kindness to your poor desponding child, Draw me a pot of beer, mother-and, mother, draw it mild
THE MAY QUEEN CORRECTED-MAY, 1879.
THEY must wrap and cloak me warmly, cloak me warmly, mother dear,
For to-morrow is the iciest day of all the sad new year.
(A Farewell Ode to the Brompton Boilers.)
You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear, There's a work I wouldn't miss for worlds, a sight my heart does cheer:
Well, I know you'll not believe, mother, a word of what I say;
But they're carting the boilers away, mother, they're carting the boilers away.
There's many a black eye, of course, a moral one I mean, Has been exchanged about them, for many a fight they've seen;
But no more need of cavil now, the fact's as plain as day. They're carting the boilers away, mother, they're carting the boilers away.
Good taste had slept so sound, mother, I thought 'twould never wake,
But the Press, at last, has given it a most decided shake! Yes, at length its up and doing, oh, and isn't Brompton gay While they're carting its boilers away, mother, they're carting its boilers away!
As I came up from Knightsbridge whom think ye I should
But, Mr. Cole, my ancient friend, best known as our C. B. ! He thought of that sharp look, mother, I gave him yesterdayAnd he carted the boilers away, mother, he carted the boilers away.
You know it is his boast, mother, that in bricks all red and white,
He means to raise, on what appears an eligible ground site,
The turnstile and refreshment rooms, umbrella man, and charts,
The chimney pots, paints, plaster casts, and analysed jam tarts,
Yes, all are gone! No longer art her triumphs can display, For they've carted her boilers away, mother, they've carted her boilers away.
The cabs they come and go, mother, the omnibuses pass, The public scarce believe their eyes; they think the thing a farce,
They'd got resigned to Brompton, thought its boilers meant to stay!
Yet they're carting those boilers away, mother, they're carting those boilers away.
South Kensington no more, mother, need fear to be despised, The three most ugly things on earth, man ever yet devised, No longer shall scare fashion off, and keep the world at bay; Yes, the boilers are carted away, mother, the boilers are carted away.
So please call me very early-Oh! I mean it-mother dear, For I wouldn't miss the sight for worlds, it's such a bright idea;
They're nearly done-a pole or two will go and thenhooray!
The boilers are carted away Mother, are carted for ever away!
The following appeared in The Referee in 1882
"Chief Justice May has scandalously prejudged the Land League case, and in common decency he should not be allowed to try it. A fair trial is impossible after the partisanship which, in the vilest possible taste, this person has displayed. It is not the practice even now in Ireland to hang people first and try them afterwards, and May may congratulate himself upon having done the very worst thing in his power for the Government brief, which, sitting in judgment, he had the effrontery to flaunt in the face of the accused.' THE MAY OF THE QUEEN.
(The Land League Boy to his Mother).
You must wake and call me early; call me early, mother dear;
To-morrow will be the saddest time of Ireland's sad new year.
Of all this threat'ning year, mother, the blackest, foulest, day,
For I'm to be tried by Judge May, mother, I'm to be tried by Judge May.
There's many a black, black crime, mother, they charge against your lad!
There's Boycotting and murder, and everything that's bad And I'm bound to be convicted, though innocent, they sayFor I'm to be tried by Judge May, mother, I'm to be tried by Judge May.
You know I wasn't there, mother, when all the row was made;
I never made a wicked speech, or led a Land League raid; But the judge has made up his mind to put your boy awayFor I'm to be tried by Judge May, mother, I'm to be tried by Judge May.
So wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear, For at ten o'clock, before the Court, I'm summoned to appear.
There's little chance of justice, he's a partisan they sayThis fierce and biassed judge, mother, this Lord Chief Justice May.
THE PLAY KING.
(Not included in Mr. Tennyson's New Volume).
You may take and bill me early, bill me early HENRY dear;
There's lots of blank, blank verse, you know, but none so neat as mine;
There's GILBERT, and there's WILLS, and-well, some others in their line;
But none of them are Laureates, though clever in their way ; So I'm going to write you a play, HENRY, I'm going to write you a play.
'Twill be all right at night, HENRY, on that my name I'll stake:
I've got a good Egyptian plot, that's safe, I'm told, to take. You're poisoned in a temple, Miss TERRY dies at bay
I am writing you such a play, HENRY, I am writing you such a play.
As I came towards the theatre, whom think ye I should see.
I know your ghost draws well, Henry, but don't be in a
My forte isn't stage-effect; when I write plays, I write.
Some critics tell me that my place is not behind the scenes;
T For fads and fancies grow, HENRY, to wither like the grass,The latest, culture;-and for that, my name doth current pass,
So that's why though I can't construct, and you feel all astray,
You've asked me to write you a play, HENRY, you've asked
So take and bill me early, bill me early HENRY, dear;
From Punch, December 4th, 1880.
These verses had reference to the announcement that the Poet Laureate was writing a tragedy to be produced at the Lyceum Theatre. This was The Cup, which was indeed a greater success than most of Mr. Tennyson's previous dramatic productions, but it owed its popularity to the acting, and to the magnificent mise-en-scene, far more than to its merits as a play, beautiful as it was as a poem. duced on the 19th February, 1881.
It was pro
In The Referee for December 2, 1882, the following parodies were published. It will be noticed that the first part imitates Cowper's John Gilpin, the second part Tennyson's May Queen, and the third part Campbell's Hohenlinden.
"I beg very humbly to submit a poem to the Royal "Family, the Bench, the Bar, and the British Public on the "opening of the new Law Courts."
A MEDLEY FOR MONDAY.
JOHN BULLJOHN was a citizen
Of Volunteers a captain he
Of famous London town.
John Bulljohn's mother said, "My dear,
"To-morrow to the new Law Courts
Says John, "Good gracious! so she doesDear mother, we'll be there."
And ere he went to bed, J. B.
You must must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear
To-morrow 'll be the happiest time of all this famous year; Of all this famous year, mother, the grandest, jolliest day, For look on our Queen we may, mother, look on our Queen
There is many a loyal heart, they say, but none so true as mine,
There's Sandy and there's Dougal, across the Border line; But none so true as Johnny, not e'en by Alum Bay,
So look on my Queen I may, mother, look on my Queen I
All the Strand, dear mother, will be gay with flag and green; And they're selling seats in windows for gold to see the Queen ;
O long shall Johnny remember the Law Courts' opening day,
When look on the Queen he may, mother, look on the Queen he may.
In London when the Queen was low,
Too sad at heart about to go,
Or in our streets her face to show
But London saw another sight
Through arches, flags and greenery.
To where the new Law Courts were made,
O, how the English crowd hoorayed!
Then shook the sky with thunder riven,
Tennyson's longest and most important work is the collection of Arthurian Idyls, known as the Idyls of the King. These were originally published in detached parts, in somewhat irregular order, but in recent editions the Author has striven to arrange them in a consecutive, and more connected form.
The first to appear in order of date was the Morte d'Arthur, which was published in the 1842 volume, in the later arrangement of the poems this has been absorbed into the last Idyl, entitled "The Passing of Arthur."
In the original it commenced thus:
"So all day long the noise of battle roll'd
King Arthur; then because his wound was deep,
Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights,
Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere :
And fling him far into the middle mere:
This mission was distasteful to Sir Bedivere, who exclaims :
"And if indeed I cast the brand away,
Which might have pleased the eyes of many men.
The King is sick, and knows not what he does.
Thus much of the original must indeed be in one's thoughts ere the Voyage de Guillaume can be appreciated; it recounts the holiday trip of the Prime Minister to the north in September, 1883. It will be remembered that Mr. Gladstone was the guest of Sir Donald Currie, on board the Pembroke Castle, and that Alfred Tennyson was also one of the party.
VOYAGE DE GUILLAUME.-A FRAGMENT.
To the Editor of the St. James's Gazette.
SIR, I have received the following lines from North Britain. Evidently it was not without reason that the Prime Minister was accompanied on his cruise by the Poet Laureate.-I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
-So all the year the noise of talk had roared Before the Speaker's chair at Westminster, Until King Guillaume's council, man by man Were tired to death, as also was their Chief, King Guillaume. Then, observing he was bored, The bold Sir Donald C. invited him
(Sir Donald C., the last of all his knights) And bore him off to Barrow by the sea
Barrow-in-Furness, with a ruined church
Then spoke King Guillaume to Sir Donald C. : "Next session will most probably upset
The goodliest Ministry of virtuous men
Of Downing Street, as in the days that were.
To cut down oaks at Haw'rden, as before.
Then bold Sir Donald took Exbrummagem, And went, and lighted his cigar, and thought; "And if, indeed, I cast the axe away,
Surely a precious thing, one worthy note,
Which might have pleased the eyes of many men.
The King is cross, and knows not what he says.
Should be to aftertime, but empty breath
Condensed in Hansard's books? But were this kept,
It might be brought out by some lecturer,
So spake he, thinking of constituents,
Then came Sir Donald, gave the King his arm, And brought him to the margin of the sea. And at his call there hove a roomy barge, Manned with a gallant crew from stem to stern; And so they entered, and put off, and reached The stately Pembroke Castle, and were ware That all the decks were dense with manly forms In naval caps and jackets, and with these Three dames in yachting suits; and from them rose A cheer of greeting, and they stretched their hands Took him on board, and laughed, and petted him.
And so they sailed; and while the sea was calm
And like a prostrate oak-tree lay the King
Shot through the lists at Westminster, and charged
The St. James's Gazette. September 19th, 1883.
In the 1842 voiume also appeared "Godiva," "Locksley Hall," "Break, Break, Break," and