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Alfred Tennyson.

Poet Laureate.

ALFRED TENNYSON, the third of seven sons, was born August 5th, 1809, at Somersby, a small village near Horncastle, in Lincolnshire. His father, Dr. George Clayton Tennyson, was the rector of this parish, he was a man remarkable. for his strength, stature, and varied attainments as poet, painter, musician and linguist. In 1827, Alfred Tennyson, with his elder brother Charles, both then being scholars at the Louth Grammar School, published a small volume entitled, "Poems by Two Brothers." Shortly afterwards, these two young men removed to Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 1829, Alfred Tennyson obtained the Chancellor's Gold Medal for his poem on "Timbuctoo." His subsequent poetical works rapidly attracted attention, and, on the death of William Wordsworth, he was created Poet Laureate, the Warrant being dated the 19th November, 1850. As a poet he has achieved almost the highest fame, but in his numerous efforts as a dramatist he has been far less successful,

For the consideration of the Parodies of Tennyson's poems, they may conveniently be divided into three periods; namely, his early Poems, poems in connection with his appointment in 1850 to the office of Poet Laureate, and Poems since that date. Although Tennyson has suppressed many of his early works, yet he occasionally furbishes up, and re-issues as a new poem one or other of his youthful compositions.

Fastidious as he is known to be in his selection of what he thus re-publishes, it is still a matter of some surprise that he should have entirely suppressed his prize poem, Timbuctoo, which would always be of interest as a specimen of his early work, and is, besides, far removed above the average of Prize Poems It is printed in full in the edition of his works, published by Harper and Brothers, New York, 1873.

The poems were sent in for competition in the month of April, 1829; and on June 12, 1829, the Cambridge Chronicle recorded that "On Saturday last, the Chancellor's Gold Medal for the best English poem by a resident undergraduate was adjudged to Alfred Tennyson, of Trinity College." Shortly afterwards the poem was published, and was favourably reviewed in The Athenæum, which in speaking of Prize poems generally, stated, "These productions have "often been ingenious and elegant, but we have 66 never before seen one of them which indicated

"really first-rate poetical genius, and which "would have done honour to any man that ever "wrote. Such, we do not hesitate to affirm, is the "little work before us.'

W. M. Thackeray was at Cambridge at the same time as Tennyson, and early in 1829 he commenced the publication of a small paper entitled "THE SNOB, a Literary and Scientific Journal, not conducted by members of the University." This was published by W. H. Smith, of Rose Crescent, Cambridge, and ran for eleven weeks; its contents were humorous sketches in prose and verse, and the most remarkable paper amongst them is the following droll poem on Timbuctoo, which appeared on the 30th April, 1829. This has most unaccountably been omitted from recent editions of Thackeray's works, although it seems almost certain he must have written it:

To the Editor of the "SNOB." SIR,-Though your name be Snob, I trust you will not refuse this tiny "Poem of a Gownsman," which was unluckily not finished on the day appointed for delivery of the several copies of verses on Timbuctoo. I thought, Sir, it would be a pity that such a poem should be lost to the world; and conceiving "THE SNOB" to be the most widely circulated periodical in Europe, I have taken the liberty of submitting it for insertion or approbation. -I am, Sir, yours, &c., &c. TIMBUCTOO.-PART I.

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The day shall come when Albion's self shall feel

Stern Afric's wrath, and writhe 'neath Afric's steel.
I see her tribes the hills of glory mount,
And sell their sugars on their own account;



While round her throne the prostrate nations come, Sue for her rice, and barter for her rum! NOTES.-Lines 1 and 2.-See Guthrie's Geography. The site of Timbuctoo is doubtful; the author has neatly expressed this in the poem, at the same time giving us some slights hints relative to its situation.

Line 5.-So Horace: leonum arida nutrix.

Line 13." Pop goes the musketoons." A learned friend suggested" Bang" as a stronger expression, but as African gunpowder is notoriously bad, the author thought "Pop" the better word.

Lines 15-18.-A concise but affecting description is here given of the domestic habits of the people. The infamous manner in which they are entrapped and sold as slaves is described, and the whole ends with an appropriate moral sentiment. The enthusiasm the author feels is beautifully expressed in lines 25 and 26.

Although this poem is not actually a parody of Tennyson's Timbuctoo, it is a clever burlesque of Prize poems in general, and derives additional interest from being one of Thackeray's earliest writings.

The first independent volume of poems which Tennyson published in 1830, contained Mariana; The Ballad of Oriana; Adeline; Lilian; The Poet; The Merman; and the Mermaid; all of which are so well known that the following parodies require no introduction :

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From Fun, February 26th, 1873. "Oriana," a romantic legend in three acts, by James Albery, music by F. Clay, was first performed at the Globe Theatre, on Saturday, February 15th, 1873. The lessee and manager, Mr. H. J. Montague, performed the part of King Raymond, that of Oriana being represented by Miss Rose Massey. The plot was founded on a fairy tale, slightly resembling Mr. Gilbert's "Palace of Truth," but, beyond the name, the play had nothing in common with Tennyson's poem of "Oriana."


(At the Railway Station.)

HER parcels, tied with many a knot,
Were thickly labelled, one and all;
And sitting down beside the lot,

She waited for the train to call.
The waiting-room looked sad and strange-
Closed was the booking-office latch !
She watched the sleepy porter scratch
His head, or whistle as a change;

She only said, "The night is dreary-
It cometh not," she said:
She said, "I am aweary, aweary-
I would I were in bed."

She sought the grim refreshment stall-
The saucy barmaid long had slept ;
O'er biscuit, bun, and sandwich small
The shining beetles slowly crept.
Hard by a signal post alway

Shot coloured beams into the dark.
She called the porter to remark,

In tones the opposite of gay :

"The hour is late, the night is dreary-
It cometh not," she said;

Then mentally: "The man is beery-
I would I were in bed."

About the middle of the night

She heard the shrill steam-whistle blow,
And saw the signals gleaming bright!
And from dark pens the oxen's low
Came to her; but she watched with pain
A train with many a cattle van
Sweep past her, and the signal man
Reversed his lamps, and snoozed again.
She only said, "The night is dreary-
It cometh not," she said;

She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
Of lamps, green, white, and red!"

The tired officials kept aloof,

The telegraphic wires did sound

Their notes Eolian on the roof,

And goods trains shunting did confound
Her sense; yet still she waited on,
Until the porter came in sight-
"There is no other train to-night;
The next will stop at early dawn,"

She only said, "I am aweary:
It seems to me," she said,
"Your tables, like yourself, are beery-
Go find me now a bed."



IN picturesque confusion lies

Her scattered finery on the floor, And here and there her handmaid flies With parcels to increase the store. But dolefully she paced the room,

Although it was her wedding morn,
And often spoke in tones of scorn,
And brow of ever-deepening gloom.

She only said, "The morn is dreary;"
"It cometh not," she said.
She said, "The milliner is weary,
Or stayed too late in bed."

She hears the sound of pipe and drum,
And from the window looketh she,
Nodding their heads before her come

The merry Teuton minstrelsy,

Who wait to play "The Wedding March."
A member of the "force "stalks by,
And little urchins mocking cry,
"Oh! ain't he swallowed lots o' starch!"
She laughed not, for she heard a chime:
"Eleven o'clock !" she said.

"I wonder if 'twill be in time?
I would that I were wed.

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LIGHTSOME, bright some, cousin mine,
Easy, breezy, Caroline!

With thy locks all raven-shaded,
From thy merry brow up-braided,
And thine eyes of laughter full,
Brightsome cousin mine!

Thou in chains of love hast bound me-
Wherefore dost thou flit around me,
Laughter-loving Carolire!

When I fain would go to sleep
In my easy chair,

Wherefore on my slumbers creep-
Wherefore start me from repose,
Tickling of my hooked nose,
Pulling of my hair?

Wherefore, then, if thou dost love me,
So to words of anger move me,
Corking of this face of mine,
Tricksy cousin Caroline?

Would she only say she'd love me,
Winsome, tinsome, Caroline,
Unto such excess 'twould move me,
Teazing, pleasing, cousin mine!

That she might the live-long day
Undermine the snuffer-tray,

Tickle still my hooked nose,
Startle me from calm repose

With her pretty persecution; Throw the tongs against my shins, Run me through and through with pins, Like a pierced cushion; Would she only say she'd love me, Darning-needles should not move me; But, reclining back I'd say,

"Dearest ! there's the snuffer-tray; Pinch, O pinch those legs of mine! Cork me, cousin Caroline !"

THE LAUREATE. (After "The Merman.")

WHO would not be

The Laureate bold,

With his butt of sherry To keep him merry,

And nothing to do but to pocket his gold?
'Tis I would be the Laureate bold!
When the days are hot, and the sun is strong,
I'd lounge in the gateway all the day long,
With Her Majesty's footmen in crimson and gold.
I'd care not a pin for the waiting lord;
But I'd lie on my back on the smooth greensward
With a straw in my mouth, and an open vest,
And the cool wind blowing upon my breast,
And I'd vacantly stare at the clear blue sky,
And watch the clouds that are listless as I,
Lazily, lazily!
And I'd pick the moss and daisies white,
And chew their stalks with a nibbling bite;
And I'd let my fancies roam abroad
In search of a hint for a birthday ode,
Crazily, crazily!

Oh, that would be the life for me,
With plenty to get and nothing to do,
But to deck a pet poodle with ribbons of blue,
And whistle all day to the Queen's cockatoo
Trance-somely, trance-somely!

Then the chambermaids, that clean the rooms,
Would come to the windows and rest cn their brooms,
With their saucy caps and their crisped hair,
And they d toss their heads in the fragrant air,
And say to each other: "Just look down there,
At the nice young man, so tidy and small,
Who is paid for writing on nothing at all,
Handsomely, handsomely!"
Then I'd fling them bunches of garden flowers,
And hyacinths plucked from the castle bowers;
And I'd challenge them all to come down to me,
And I'd kiss them all till they kissed me,

Laughingly, laughingly.

Oh, would not that be a merry life,
Apart from care and apart from strife,

With the Laureate's wine, and the Laureate's pay,
And no deductions at quarter-day!
Oh, that would be the post for me!

With plenty to get and nothing to do,

But to deck a pet poodle with ribbons of blue,
And whistle a song to the Queen's cockatoo,
And scribble of verses remarkably few,
And at evening empty a bottle or two;
Quaffingly, quaffingly!

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I would not be a Mermaid dank,
Flopping about in a Westminster tank,
Like a shabby sham at a country fair,
And by far the ugliest monster there;
Exposed to the Cockney's vulgar chaff,
And the learned gush of the Daily T.,
To be called a porpoise or ocean-calf

Or a seven-foot slug from the deep blue sea.
Me a Manatee? Dickens a bit !

The Mermaid of fiction was something fine.
A fish-tailed Siren given to sit

On a handy rock, 'midst the breezy brine,
Each golden curl with a comb of pearl
Arranging in many a taking twirl,"
Like a free-and-easy nautical girl.
Taking a bath in a primitive style
Without any bother of dress or machine,
And likely the wandering tar to beguile,

If that Mariner chanced to be anyways green.
But your Modern Mermaid! good gracious me!
Who'd be inwiggled away from his tracts
Or driven to bung up his ears with wax
By the wiles and smiles of a Manatee?
A sort of shapeless squab sea-lubber,
A blundering bulk of leather and blubber,
Like an overgrown bottle of India-rubber;
The clumsiest, wobblingest, queerest of creatures,
With nothing but small gimlet holes for features.
This a Mermaid? Oh, don't tell me!

It's simply some sly scientifical spree,

And I mean to say it's a thundering shame

To bestow the Siren's respectable name,

Which savours of all that is rare and romantic,

On such a preposterous monster as this is,
Whose hideous phiz and ridiculous antic,
Would simply have frightened the mates of Ulysses.
Fancy the horror of blubberous kisses
From a mouth that's like a tarpaulin flap!
That Merman must be a most amorous chap
Who would sue her and woo her under the sea,
AS TENNYSON sings-a nice treat it would be
Were a Mermaid merely a Manatee !

From Punch, July 20th, 1878, in reference to the socalled Mermaid then being exhibited at the Westminster Aquarium.

Alfred Tennyson's "The Poet," was in fourteen

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He glanced through life and death, thro' good and ill,
He glanced through his own soul;

And found all dead as a dishonoured bill,
Or emptied bowl.

He thrummed his lay; with mincing feet he threaded
The walks of coteric fame:

On the dull arrows of his thought were threaded
Concetti tame.

And pop-gun pellets from his lisping tongue,

Erratic in their flight,

From studio to drawing-room he flung,
Filling with light

And mazèd phantasies each morbid mind,
Which, albeit lacking wit,
Like dandelion seeds blown by the wind,
In weak souls lit,

Took shallow root, and springing up anew
Where'er they dropt, behold,

Like to the parent plant in semblance, grew
A weed as bold,

And fitly furnished all abroad to fling

Fresh mockeries of truth,
And throng with poisonous blooms the verdant Spring
Of weak-kneed youth.

Till many minds were lit with borrowed beams
Of an unwholesome fire;

And many fed their sick souls with hot dreams
Of vague desire.

Thus trash was multiplied on trash; the world
Like a Gehenna glowed,
And through the clouds of Stygian dark upcurled,
Foul radiance flowed

And Licence lifted in that false sunrise
Her bold and brazen brow;
While Purity before her burning eyes
Melted like snow.
There was red blood upon her trailing robes,
Lit by those lurid skies;
And round the hollow circles of the globes
Of her hot eyes,

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THEY were two daughters of one race;
One dead, the other took her place;
Brotherly love? oh! fiddle-de-dee!
The Noes were but one forty-four;
I'm backed by retrospective law;

Oh! the Ayes were two forty-three!

Who'd run a tilt 'gainst common sense? I married for convenience;

Brotherly love? oh! fiddle-de-dee! 'Tis wiser th' ills we know to bear, Than run the chance of worse elsewhere Oh! the Ayes were two forty-three ! Twice married-but I'm bound to state Th' expediency of this is great; Brotherly love? oh! fiddle-de-dee ! I'm now no worse off than before, I only have one mother-in-law, And she's one too many for me!

A good many years ago a little volume, entitled "Carols of Cockayne," written by the late Mr. Henry S. Leigh (who died in June, 1883), had considerable success. It contained a number of Ballads and Parodies, and amongst others two amusing imitations of Tennyson (they can hardly be styled parodies), the first is in answer to the Laureate's somewhat bitter attack on a lady entitled "Lady Clara Vere de Vere.

THE Lady Clara V. de V.

Presents her very best regards

To that misguided Alfred T.

(With one of her enamell'd cards).

Though uninclin'd to give offence,
The Lady Clara begs to hint
That Master Alfred's common sense
Deserts him utterly in print.

The Lady Clara can but say

That always from the very first She snubb'd in her decisive way The hopes that silly Alfred nurs'd. The fondest words that ever fell From Lady Clara, when they met, Were "How d'ye do? I hope you're well Or else "The weather's very wet.'

To show a disregard for truth

By penning scurrilous attacks, Appears to Lady C. in sooth


Like stabbing folks behind their backs. The age of chivalry, she fears,

Is gone for good, since noble dames Who irritate low sonneteers

Get pelted with improper names.

The Lady Clara cannot think
What kind of pleasure can accrue
From wasting paper, pens, and ink,
On statements the reverse of true.
If Master Launcelot, one fine day,
(Urged on by madness or by malt,)
Destroyed himself-can Alfred say
The Lady Clara was in fault?

Her Ladyship needs no advice

How time and money should be speut, And can't pursue at any price

The plan that Alfred T. has sent. She does not in the least object

To let the "foolish yeoman


But wishes-let him recollect-
That he should move to Jericho,

The other, a reply to the well-known song, is scarcely so good, because it does not follow its original so closely :


NAY, I cannot come into the garden just now,

Tho' it vexes me much to refuse;

But I must have the next set of waltzes, I vow,
With Lieutenant de Boots of the Blues.

I am sure you'll be heartily pleased when you hear
That our ball has been quite a success.
As for me I've been looking a monster, my dear,
In that old-fashion'd guy of a dress.

You had better at once hurry home, dear, to bed;
It is getting so dreadfully late.
You may catch the bronchitis or cold in the head
If you linger so long at our gate.

Don't be obstinate, Alfy; come, take my advice,
For I know you're in want of repose.
Take a basin of gruel (you'll find it so nice)
And remember to tallow your nose.

No, I tell you I can't and I shan't get away,
For De Boots has implored me to sing.
As for you-if you like it, of course you can stay;
You were always an obstinate thing.

If you feel it a pleasure to talk to the flow'rs
About babble and revel and wine,"


When you might have been snoring for two or three hours, Why, it's not the least business of mine,

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