George Huddesford, an Oxford wit writing under cover of anonymity, spins a hilarious burlesque elegy on academic life, noting the passing of Thomas Warton (whom Dick the Cat resembles) in an inset elegy. After some bitter barbs at the patronage system in the government and at the university, Huddesford holds up the deceased laureate as a model of scholarly integrity: "'Twas his, 'midst mouldering palms of Chivalry, | To braid the deathless blooms of Poesy; | On Learning's gloom the rays of Taste to pour, | And gild with genuine Wit the social hour" p. 137. The opening is a burlesque of Milton's Lycidas, the source for much eighteenth-century academic verse.
St. James's Chronicle: "As it may be matter of surprise to Naturalists to learn that there exists a much greater variety of animals distinguished by one denomination than they have hitherto noticed; and as it may probably be not unacceptable to our readers in general, we present them with the following enumeration of the several tribes and descriptions of CATS; extracted from A MONODY on the death of DICK, an ACADEMICAL CAT, one of several pieces of Poetical pleasantry, for which the publick are indebted to the editor of SALMAGUNDI" (2 June 1791).
Gentleman's Magazine: "the Monody on the Death of an Academical Cat discovers throughout a vein of the richest humour, and justifies our again repeating, that in this species of writing the present publication is eminently happy" 61 (July 1791) 645.
Headnote in The Port Folio: "Certain highly humorous poems under the names of 'Topsy Turvey,' 'Bubble and Squeak,' 'Salmagundy,' &c. have lately appeared in London. They are said to be the exquisite effusions of the gay genius of a Mr. Huddesford, perhaps with the exception of our own TRUMBULL, the most successful imitator of BUTLER, that has ever appeared. The following ludicrous monody, replete with with classical allusion, and mirthful images, is from SALMAGUNDY, a work of which it is doubted, whether there be more than three or four copies in America. The Editor is certain that this individual poem has never found its way into any of our repositories. It will richly reward the attention of every jocund reader" 1 (10 January 1801) 14.
W. Davenport Adams: "George Huddesford, poet, published Topsy Turvey (1790), Salmagundi (1793), and Les Champignons du Diable, or Imperial Mushrooms (1800). He also contributed to and edited The Wiccamical Chaplet (1804). His collected Poems appeared in 1801" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 294.
Raymond Dexter Havens: "Huddesford bubbles over with puns, from the motto on the title-page, 'Micat inter omnes,' through the reference to Caligula's horse, — which, when consul, could 'silence Opposition with his Neigh,' — to the cataract of words, 'catacomb,' catechise,' 'categorical,' 'catarrhs,' 'catastrophe,' 'catalepsy'" The Influence of Milton (1922) 554. Havens includes two poems in this volume in his list of imitations of "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso."
J. R. de J. Jackson: "The Monody ... will be appreciated by those who enjoy Christopher Smart's verses on Jeoffry" Poetry of the Romantic Period (1980) 275
Ye Rats, in triumph elevate your ears!
Exult, ye Mice! — for Fate's abhorred shears
Of DICK'S nine lives have silt the Catguts nine;
Henceforth he mews 'midst choirs of Cats divine!
Tho' nine successive lives protract their date,
E'en Cats themselves obey the call of Fate;
Whose formidable Fiat sets afloat
Mortals, and mortal Cats, in Cheron's boat:
Fate, who Cats, Dogs, and Doctors makes his prize,
That grace Great Britain's Universities.
Where were ye, Nymphs, — when to the silent coast
Of gloomy Acheron DICK travell'd post?
Where were ye, Muses, in that deathful hour?—
Say, did ye haunt the Literary Bower
Where Science sends her Sons in STOCKINGS BLUE
To barter praise for soup with M****** ?
Or Point prepare for B******'s Anecdote,
Or Songs inspire, and fit 'em to his Throat?—
For not on Isis' classic shores ye stray'd,
Nor brew'd with CHERWELL'S wave your lemonade;
Nor assignations kept with Grizzled Elves,
Where Learning sleeps on BODLEY'S groaning shelves:
Nor, where no poet glows with kindred fire,
Wept o'er your favourite WARTON'S silent Lyre.
While venal Cats (leagued with degenerate Curs,
Of faded Prudes the four-legg'd pensioners)
On the soft Sofa rang'd in order due,
For eleemosynary muffin mew,
Regardless of the meed that Fame bestows,
Their tail a feather for each wind that blows;
Thee, generous DICK, the Cat-controlling Powers
Ordain'd to mouse in Academic Bowers:
Bade Thee the sacred stream of Sapience sip,
And in Pierean Cream thy whiskers dip!
Enshrin'd celestial Cateries among,
The sable Matron, from whose loins he sprung,
Who trac'd her high descent through ages dark
From Cats that Caterwaul'd in Noah's Ark,
Stern, brindled nurse, with unremitting care,
To high achievements train'd her Tabby Heir;
On Patriot Cats his young attention fix'd,
And many a cuff with grave instruction mix'd;
Taught the great Truth, to half his race unknown:
"Cats are not kitten'd for themselves alone;
But hold from Heav'n their delegated claws,
Guardians of Larders, Liberty, and Laws.
"Let Cats and Catlings of ignoble line
Slumber in bee-hive chairs, in dairies dine;
Shun, Thou the shades of Cat-enfeebling Ease!
Watch o'er the weal of Rhedycinian cheese;
The melting marble of Collegiate Brawn
For Heads of Houses guard, and Lords in Lawn;
And keep each recreant rat and mouse in awe
That dares to shew his nose in GOLGOTHA.
So may the brightest honours of the Gown
Thy riper years and active virtue crown!—
Say, shall not Cats, fraught with ethereal fire,
To seats of letter'd eminence aspire?—
Caligula a consul made his Steed.
What tho' the beast could neither write nor read,
Yet could he Talents Negative display,
And silence Opposition with his Neigh.
If Charles of Sweden swore he would depute,
The senate to control, his old Jack Boot;
If modern taste a LEARNED PIG reveres,
And Pigs unlearn'd keep company with PEERS;
If erst Rome's papal crown a Gossip wore,
Then, DICK, Thou, may'st become Vicech—r.
"Might I but live, tho' crazy, old, and sick,
To see thee stalk behind thy Beadles, DICK!
Behold, my brindled boy with conscious pride
O'er convocated Grizzle-Wigs preside!
Hear thee, e'er I explore my latest home,
Confer Degrees in SHELDON'S spacious Dome!
See thee in scarlet robe encase thy fur,
And at St. MARY'S venerably purr!—
Then let me be translated to the skies,
And close in welcome death these gooseb'ry eyes!
"Yet think not, Darling DICK, that Fame allows
Her glorious palm, unearn'd, to grace thy brows:
By toil Herculean and profound research
Expect to thrive in Politicks or Church!
The herd who worship at Preferment's shrine
No servile task, no sacrifice, decline;
Courtiers for coronets their conscience pawn,
Clerks in Prunello creep, then soar in Lawn.
See, with the Ribband grac'd and radiant Star,
The Chief that waged the Continental War!
Such palms diminish'd realms can yet afford
To patriotic H***'s protracting Sword!
See W****s, untrusted with the CITY KEY
Till he made fools of all the Livery!
See grov'ling S**** the wealth of India share:
He taught the Hindu Race to feed on air!
"Mark the career of Rhedycina's Bard;—
Not such His Toil, not such His Vast Reward,
Glean'd from Antiquity's exhaustless mine,
He bade the gems of Science brighter shine;
His care retriev'd each venerable name
Reft by Oblivion from the rolls of Fame,
And with new glory crown'd the Strains sublime
That echoed from the Harps of elder time.
'Twas his, 'midst mouldering palms of Chivalry,
To braid the deathless blooms of Poesy;
On Learning's gloom the rays of Taste to pour,
And gild with genuine Wit the social hour;
Affection and applause alike he shar'd;
All lov'd the Man, all venerate the Bard:
Ev'n Prejudice his fate afflicted hears,
And Letter'd Envy sheds reluctant Tears.—
"Of genius, taste, philanthropy, and sense,
Candour, and Wit — behold the Recompence!
No Sinecure, no venerable Stall,
He fills, o'ercanopied with crimson pall;
No Choir obsequious waits his dread commands,
Where supple Vergers pace with silver wands;
Where soft reclines in velvet pomp supreme
DIVINITY, entranc'd in mitrous dream:
No Coin his meed — for classic fobs unfit—
For, ah! what fellowship has Wealth with Wit!
Such worth THE LAUREL could alone repay,
Profan'd by CIBBER, and contemn'd by GRAY;
Yet hence its Wreath shall new distinction claim,
And, tho' it gave not, take from WARTON fame."
While glory's steep ascent GRIMALKIN shews,
DICK'S breast with emulative ardour glows;
His emerald eyes with richer radiance roll,
And ALL THE CAT awakens in his soul.
Within the tender velvet of his paw
Tho' yet unbloodied lurks each virgin claw,
Anticipated palms his hope descries,
And conquests gain'd o'er visionary mice:
Tho' much for Milk, more for Renown he mews,
And nobler objects than his Tail pursues.
O, could I call the Muses from the spheres
To sing the triumphs of his riper years!
What strife the larder's conscious shelves beheld!
What congregated rats his valour quell'd!
What mice descended, at each direful blow,
To nibble brimstone in the realms below!—
The Victor, who his foes in furious mood
Hurl'd from the Granic to the Stygian flood;
Churchill, whose bounty fainting Frenchmen gave
Soup-meagre gratis in the Danube's wave;
Heathfield, whose red-hot vengeance Spain defied,
Blist'ring, like Spanish flies, Old Neptune's hide;
Who plung'd his enemies, a whisker'd group,
In green waves twice as hot as green peas soup,
While Fate on Calpe's summit sat and smil'd
To see the dingy Dons like lobsters boil'd,
Or by the light'ning of th' exploded shell
Dispatch'd to seek a cooler birth in Hell—
All Heroes, bloody, brave, or politic,
All, all, should yield preeminence to DICK:
And everlasting laurels, thick as hops,
Wreath their bright foliage round his brindled chops.
Mysterious Powers,who rule the destinies
Of conquerors and kings, of cats and mice,
Why did your will the Pylian Chief decree
Three centuries, unspectacled, to see,
Yet summon from his patriot toils away
Illustrious DICK, before his beard was grey?
Of valour, sense, or skill, how vain the boast!—
DICK seeks the shades, an undistinguish'd ghost,
And turns his tail on this terrestrial ball,
Dismiss'd without Mandamus Medical;
Sent, without purge or Catapotium,
In prime of Cat-hood to the Catacomb;
No Doctor fee'd, no regimen advis'd,
Unpill'd, unpoultic'd, unphlebotomiz'd!
Ye sage Divines, if so concise our span,
Who for preferment would turn Cat in pan?
Since Clergymen and Cats one fate betides,
And worms shall eat their sermons and their hides!
Polecats, who DICK'S disastrous end survive,
Shall bless their stars that they still stink alive;
Muskcats shall feel a melancholy qualm,
And with their sweets departed DICK embalm;
Cats in each clime and latitude that dwell,
Brown, sable, sandy, grey, and tortoiseshell,
Of titles obsolete, or yet in use,
Tom, Tybert, Roger, Rutterkin, or Puss;
Cats who with wayward Hags the moon control,
Unchain the winds, and bid the thunders roll;
Brave in enchanted sieves the bois'trous main,
And Royal barks with adverse blasts detain;
Nay Two-legg'd Cats, as well as Cats with four,
Shall DICK'S irreparable loss deplore.
Cats who frail nymphs in gay assemblies guard,
As buckram stiff and bearded like the pard;
Calumnious Cats who circulate faux pas,
And reputations maul with murd'rous claws;
Shrill Cats whom fierce domestic brawls delight,
Cross Cats who nothing want but teeth to bite,
Starch Cats of puritanic aspect sad,
And learned Cats who talk their husbands mad;
Confounded Cats who cough, and croak, and cry,
And maudlin Cats who drink eternally;
Prim Cats of countenance and mien precise,
Yet oft'ner hankering for men than mice;
Curst Cats whom nought but castigation checks,
Penurious Cats who buy their coals by pecks,
Fastidious Cats who pine for costly Cates,
And jealous Cats who Catechise their mates;
Cat-Prudes who, when they're ask'd the question, squall,
And ne'er give answer Categorical;
Uncleanly Cats who never pare their nails,
Cat Gossips full of Canterbury tales,
Cat-Grandams vex'd with asthmas and Catarrhs,
And superstitious Cats who curse their stars;
Cats who their favours barter for a bribe,
And canting Cats, the worst of all the tribe!
And faded Virgin-Cats, and Tabbies old,
Who at quadrille remorseless mouse for gold;
Cats of each class, craft, calling, and degree
Mourn DICK'S calamitous Catastrophe.
Yet, while I chant the cause of RICHARD'S End,
Ye sympathizing Cats, your tears suspend!
Then shed enough to float a dozen whales,
And use, for pocket handkerchiefs, your tails!—
Fame says (but Fame a sland'rer stands confess'd,)
Dick his own Sprats, like B****r G******e, dress'd:
But to the Advocates of Truth 'tis known,
He neither staid for Grace nor Gridiron.
Raw Sprats he swore were worth all fish beside,
Fresh, stale, stew'd, spitchcock'd, fricassee'd, or fried:
Then swallow'd down a score without remorse,
And three fat Mice slew for a second course:
But, while the third his grinders dyed with gore,
Sudden those grinders clos'd — to grind no more!
And (dire to tell!) commission'd by Old Nick,
A Catalepsy made an end of DICK.
Thus from the Pasty's furious escalade,
Where blood, to gravy turn'd, embrown'd his blade,
(That all-encountering blade which scorn'd to fear
Broil'd gizzards charged with Kian-gunpowder)
From rais'd-crust levell'd never more to rise,
From Ducks dispatch'd, and massacred Minc'd pies,
From Turkey-poults transfix'd and Sirloins slash'd,
From Marrow-puddings maul'd, and Custards quash'd,
Crimpt Cod, and mutilated Mackarel,
And desolation of the Turtle's shell
Some Alderman, of giant appetite,
A surfeit sweeps to everlasting night:
Imbibing Claret with his latest breath,
And brandishing his knife and fork in death,
Downward a gormandizing ghost he goes,
And bears to Hell fresh fuel on his nose;
For Calipash explores th' infernal scene,
And wishes Phlegethon one vast Terrene.
O Paragon of Cats, whose loss distracts
My soul, and turns my tears to Cataracts,
Nor craft nor courage could thy doom prorogue!
DICK, premier Cat upon the Catalogue
Of Cats that grace a Caterwauling age,
Scar'd by Fate's Cat-call quits this earthly stage;
Dire fled the arrow that laid RICHARD flat,
And sickening Glory saw Death shoot a Cat.
Ah! tho' thy bust adorn no sculptur'd shrine,
No Vase thy relics rare to fame consign,
No rev'rend characters thy rank express,
Nor hail thee, DICK! D.D. nor F.R.S.,
For Thee, 'midst golden groves of Paradise,
Shall bloom the deathless wreath that Earth denies.
There, while GRIMALKIN'S mew her RICHARD greets,
A thousand Cats shall purr on sainted seats:
E'en now I see, descending from his throne,
Thy venerable Cat, O Whittington,
The kindred excellence of RICHARD hail,
And swell with joy his gratulating tail!
There shall the worthies of the Whisker'd Race
Elysian Mice o'er floors of sapphire chase,
Midst beds of aromatic marum stray,
Or raptur'd rove beside the Milky Way.
Kittens, than Eastern Houris fairer seen,
Whose bright eyes glisten with immortal green,
Shall smooth for Tabby Swains their yielding fur,
And to their amorous Mews assenting purr.—
There, like Alcmena's, shall GRIMALKIN'S SON
In bliss repose, — his mousing labours done,
Fate, Envy, Curs, Time, Tide,and Traps defy,
And Caterwaul to all eternity.