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A First Year in Canterbury Settlement With Other Early Essays

The Battle of Alma Mater

page 261

The Battle of Alma Mater

The Temperance commissioners
 In awful conclave sat,
Their noses into this to poke
 To poke them into that—
In awful conclave sat they,
 And swore a solemn oath,
That snuff should make no Briton sneeze,
That smokers all to smoke should cease,
 They swore to conquer both.

Forth went a great Teetotaller,
 With pamphlet armed and pen,
He travelled east, he travelled west,
 Tobacco to condemn.
At length to Cantabrigia,
 To move her sons to shame,
Foredoomed to chaff and insult,
 That gallant hero came.

’Tis Friday: to the Guildhall
 Come pouring in apace
The gownsmen and the townsmen
 Right thro’ the market place—
page 262 They meet, these bitter foemen
 Not enemies but friends—
Then fearless to the rostrum,
 The Lecturer ascends.

He cursed the martyr’d Raleigh,
 He cursed the mild cigar,
He traced to pipe and cabbage leaf
 Consumption and catarrh;
He railed at simple bird’s-eye,
 By freshmen only tried,
And with rude and bitter jest assailed
 The yard of clay beside.

When suddenly full twenty pipes,
 And weeds full twenty more
Were seen to rise at signal,
 Where none were seen before.
No mouth but puffed out gaily
 A cloud of yellow fume,
And merrily the curls of smoke
 Went circling ’thro the room.

In vain th’ indignant mayor harangued,
 A mighty chandler he!
While peas his hoary head around
 They whistled pleasantly.
page 263 In vain he tenderly inquired,
 ’Mid many a wild “hurrah!”
“Of this what father dear would think,
 Of that what dear mamma?”

In rushed a host of peelers,
 With a sergeant at the head,
Jaggard to every kitchen known,
 Of missuses the dread.
In rushed that warlike multitude,
 Like bees from out their hive,
With Fluffy of the squinting eye,
 And fighting No. 5.

Up sprang Inspector Fluffy,
 Up Sergeant Jaggard rose,
And playfully with staff he tapped
 A gownsman on the nose.
As falls a thundersmitten oak,
 The valiant Jaggard fell,
With a line above each ogle,
 And a “mouse” or two as well.

But hark! the cry is “Smuffkins!”
 And loud the gownsmen cheer,
And lo! a stalwart Johnian
 Comes jostling from the rear:
page 264 He eyed the flinching peelers,
 He aimed a deadly blow,
Then quick before his fist went down
 Inspector, Marshal, Peelers, Town,
While fiercer fought the joyful Gown,
 To see the claret flow.

They run, they run! to win the door
 The vanquished peelers flew;
They left the sergeant’s hat behind,
 And the lecturer’s surtout:
Now by our Lady Margaret,
 It was a goodly sight,
To see that routed multitude
 Swept down the tide of flight.

Then hurrah! for gallant Smuffkins,
 For Cantabs one hurrah!
Like wolves in quest of prey they scent
 A peeler from afar.
Hurrah! for all who strove and bled
 For liberty and right,
What time within the Guildhall
 Was fought the glorious fight.