Ode on a distant Prospect of Dulwich College.

Knight's Quarterly Magazine 2 (1824) 460-63.


A satire on the architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837) cast as a burlesque of Thomas Gray's Eton College Ode. Soane designed the Dulwich Art Gallery in 1811-14; the poem also refers to his most important commission, the Bank of England (1795-1827) and the fantastic house he built for himself in London. John Nash (1752-1835) and Sir Robert Smirke (1781-1867) were, with Soane, joint architect to the Board of Works. Dulwich College was founded by Edward Alleyn (1566-1626).

Walter Hamilton (who prints an excerpt): "The eminent, but eccentric architect, Sir John Soane, was satirised in Knight's Quarterly Magazne (No. 4, 1824) in an article by a witty critic, who, speaking of Dulwich College, said, 'It is a fine specimen of Soane's own original and best style,' and thus addresses it, in a parody of Gray.... The poet then apostrophises the Superior of the College, who must always bear the same name as himself" Parodies of the Works of English and American Authors (1884-89) 5:52-53.

Robert Shelton Mackenzie: "In Knight's Quarterly Magazine, one of the best periodicals ever published in London, there was an imitation of the Noctes, lively, well-written, and with the character of each speaker well individualized. Mr. Vyvian Joyeuse was the nom de plume assumed by one of Knight's contributors. Macaulay, Praed, John Moultrie, Chauncy Hare Townshend, Charles Knight, (Editor and publisher,) were among the leading writers in this periodical" Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 1:361n.

Ye vases five, ye antic towers,
That crown the turnpike glade,
Where Art, in dingy light adores
Her BOURGEOIS' ochrey shade;
And ye that from the bosky brow
Of Sydenham-hill th' expanse below
Of long suburban rides survey,
Whose dusty paths, whose lanes among,
Wander the cockney crowds along
Their Sunday-saunt'ring way.

Ah sightless roof! Ah chimney-block!
Ah mausoleum grand!
Where late I lavish'd all my stock
With bold and practis'd hand;
I see the fame that round ye flies,
I hear the plaudits as they rise,
As, Art's dull precepts scorning,
My critic-hating soul they soothe,
And speak of "visions of my youth,"
Dreams of "my early morning."

Say, Master ALLEN, hast thou seen
The connoisseuring race,
Breathless, amaz'd, on Dulwich-green,
My lines of beauty trace?
Who foremost now delights to stop
To look at "God's Gift" picture shop;
Do not the knowing loungers cry
"My eye!" at my sarcophagi,
And guess by whom 'twas built?

Dare some, on critic business bent,
Their murmuring labours ply,
To work ill humour and constraint
On one so great as I?
Will wondering students e'er disdain
The limits of my boundless reign,
And Taste, beyond the BANK, descry?
Let them look here, before, behind;
And, if the whelps are not purblind,
They'll laud me to the sky.

Be theirs the beauties of my style,
Myst'ries by none possess'd;—
The roofs unsham'd by slate or tile,
The brick with Portland dress'd,
The stepless door, the scored wall,
Pillars sans base or capital,
And curious antiques;
The chimney-groups that fright the sweep,
And acroteria fifty deep,
And all my mighty freaks.

Let them, regardless of my doom,
Pursue the glorious race,
Nor fear the writing, spouting scum,
Or in, or out of place.
For see, how all around me wait
The crows who watch an Artist's fate—
The Printer's devils' baneful gang—
Ah see, where still in ambush stand
The dreadful miscellaneo-band,
Grinning at every pang.

May these the lawyer's talons tear,
The vultures of the mind,
Twenty indictments ev'ry year,
And fines that lurk behind!!
Let them in Newgate pine their youth!!
Let rivals, with a rankling tooth,
Eat thousands from their sale away!!!
May B—N make their readers snore!!!
And I, and NASH, and hundreds more
Curse them, aye, ev'ry day!!!!

See e'en where saving BANKES doth rise,
Catching the Speaker's eye,
To make THE COURTS a sacrifice,
A common infamy;—
The stings of wit will CROKER try?
Shall hard SIR CHARLES'S alter'd eye,
Mock the great plans he lately prais'd?
Will MACINTOSH the work revile?
And pert GREY BENNETT move a smile
In scorn of what I've rais'd?

See, where in Palace-yard below
The lawyer-troops look big;—
The powder'd ministers of woe
Sneering in gown and wig.
This mocks my PASSAGE, that my DOME,
And all cry out for WANT OF ROOM,—
The very juries rage;
And beardless students, cramm'd and jamm'd,
Swear that my COURTS may each be damn'd
For a most hideous cage.

To each his sufferings — all great men,
'Neath Envy still must groan;
ELMES for the beauties of his pen,
I, for my works of stone;—
Yet let us boldly laugh at Fame;
We'll still buy puffs, though somewhat tame,
The HOUSE some day MUST rise,
The BOARD OF WORKS yet pays its fees—
No more — where ignorance is ease,
"'Tis Folly to be wise."

[pp. 460-63]