1764
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Cam. An Elegy.

Cam. An Elegy.

Edward Burnaby Greene


An anonymously-published satire on the appointment of the Duke of Newcastle as Chancellor of Cambridge University, in imitation of William Mason's Isis. An Elegy (1749) which had criticized Oxford for its Tory affiliations. While there was speculation that the anonymous poet was an Oxford man, Edward Burnaby Greene had in fact been a student at Cambridge. Not seen.

John Langhorne: "As the intention of Isis, an Elegy, published some years ago, was to reproach the University of Oxford, for the supposed Jacobitical principles of some of its Members, so Cam, an Elegy, is now published as a satire on the University of Cambridge, for those servile and courtly principles which the Author ascribes to that illustrious body. The conduct of both poems is nearly the same, and as the Isis was the principal speaker in the former, so is Cam in the present Elegy; but Isis was introduced to bewail the degeneracy of her sons, Cam to lament the misfortunes of his, in the downfall of their powerful Patron the Duke of N[ewcastle]. We are far from approving such publications as these, which tend to injure either the political or the moral reputation of any respectable body; nevertheless, as a literary performance, we cannot withhold our approbation from the poem before us; for the sentiments are manly, and the versification is elegant; the composition is remarkable for its ease and perspicuity, and the descriptive parts of the poem are ingeniously invented" Monthly Review 30 (January 1764) 34.

Critical Review: "The author of this Elegy, which, perhaps, might, with more propriety be called a satire, has here rallied the university of Cambridge with some humour on their servility and dependence on the great. Those who are acquainted with the present share of that learned body will be pleased with the performance, which is certainly written by a man of genius: the verses are many of them extremely good, and the vein of irony which runs through it well supported" 17 (January 1764) 72.

St. James's Magazine: "It is not a great many years ago, that Isis, at the instigation of the muses, was made to reproach the University of Oxford, for the general disatisfaction of that university to the Hanover line. It is true, the politics of the times are changed, and the poet [note: Mr. Mason] now seems to disclaim that elegant production, by excluding it in the last edition of his works. It is not impossible that the author of the present essay, may some time or other disavow his performance in like manner. Be that as it may, it is not without some appearance of justice that CAM is introduced bewailing the misfortunes and ill-conduct of his children, as ISIS had before done the degeneracy of hers" 4 (March 1764) 102.



Far from his coral, wave-encircled, bower,
Form'd for the social, or the festal hour,
Lay sedgy-mantled CAM, on oozy bed;
While the bleak winds beat rudely on his head:
Some silent sorrow prey'd upon his mind,
And o'er his urn he sullenly reclin'd;
That urn where science wont in times of yore,
To trace the symbols of her sacred lore;
Where Freedom once, with virtuous pride elate,
Saw her dear emblems thron'd in social state:
But now their trophies banish'd from its side,
More modern ornaments their place supplied;
Where erst the Genius of the British race
The Charter grasp'd with stern and awful grace,
There smil'd a Peer, whose fortune-favour'd hand
Display'd its power, the staff, the seals, the wand;
Where Phoebus sat, and struck his golden lyre,
In concord sweet with all the Aonian choir;
There Plutus held Preferment's types on high,
Scarfs, mitres, stalls, that prompt the priestly sigh;
Fast by his side was servile Flattery seen,
Known by th' obsequious smile, the cringing mein:
Where Study wont, by taper dim, to toil,
And rifle Learning of her richest spoil,
There Indolence, and Mirth, congenial souls!
Loll'd on the couch, and crown'd the frequent bowls.
At distance due fit objects strike the eye,
Here temples seem with palaces to vie;
A bower umbrageous, a gymnastic green,
Sweet interchange! compleat th' inchanting scene. . . .

[Monthly Review 30 (1764) 35]