1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Campbell

Anonymous, "The Cockney University" St. James's Chronicle (12 July 1825).



(From the John Bull.)
Tune — "Over the water to Charley."

Come bustle, my neighbours, give over your labours,
Leave digging and delving, and churning:
New lights are preparing to set you a staring,
And fill all your noddles with learning.
Each dustman shall speak, both in Latin and Greek,
And Tinkers beat Bishops in knowledge—
If the opulent tribe will consent to subscribe
To build up a new Cockney College.

We've had bubbles in milk — we've had bubbles in silk,
And bubbles in baths of sea-water;
With other mad schemes, of rail-roads and steams,
Of tombstones, and places for slaughter.
But none are so sure, so snug and secure,
As this for which now we are burning,
For 'tis noble and wise to rub the world's eyes,
And set all the Journeymen learning.

This notable scheme, as we've all of us seen,
To enlighten the stall and the shamble,
Is twin to a dun-coloured dull Magazine,
The offspring of Ritter Bann Campbell—
Has he wedded the Muse (I'm sure he'll excuse
A truth which ought not to be hidden),
To publish such Banns, was the worst of all plans,
Unless he had wished them forbidden.

This College, when formed, established, endowed,
Will astonish each Radical's grannam,
Who may place her young fry in the midst of the crowd
For two pounds ten shillings per annum.
And oh, what a thing, for a lad who climbs flues,
Or for one who picks pockets for purses,
To woo in Ionic and Attic, the Muse,
And make quires of bad Latin verses.

Hackney coachmen from Swift shall reply, if you feel
Annoyed at being needlessly shaken;
And butchers of course will be flippant from Steele,
And pig-drivers well-versed in Bacon—
From Locke shall the Blacksmith's authority crave,
And Gas-men cite Coke at discretion;
Undertakers talk Gay as they go to the Grave,
And Watermen Rowe by profession.

Burdett, who from Oxford received the degree
Which in Scotland procured him such laurels,
Will lecture each Tuesday at half after three,
On manners, and marriage, and morals;
Tom Creevy will teach the poor Sweeps how to dance,
Lord Cochrane shall tutor the Sailors;
On horseback mad Law instruct Beggars to prance,
And Fergusson manage the Taylors!

Pam Brougham shall teach mildness, and patience, and tact,
And respect for the laws and his betters;
And Hume shall instruct them to add and subtract,
While Wood teaches wisdom and letters.
On tactics of war civil Wilson shall speak,
Lord Sefton shall ground them in driving,
And Mackintosh show them three days in the week
The easiest way to be thriving.

From a College like this, what advantage must spring,
What strides will the people be taking;
Each cobler will soon be as good as a King,
And a King, a thing hardly worth making:
The rising of some, and the fall of the rest,
Will bring things at last to their level;
And just as in France, which has suffered the test,
Old England will go to the Devil.