Lapsus Calami by J.K.S.
Sincere Flattery of T. G.

This Thomas Gray parody was originally published under the title "Lines on a Recent Event at Eton College" in the Pall Mall Gazette, 17 November 1882. It was included with the present title in the "Sincere Flattery" section of Lapsus Calami. The "Recent Event" referred to was James Leigh Joynes' forced resignation from his post at Eton for writing a book about his travels in Ireland, including his mistaken arrest ("They snatched a fearful Joynes") by the Irish authorities.

V. Of T. G.

Ode on a retrospect of Eton College.

Ye bigot spires, ye Tory towers,
That crown the watery lea,
Where grateful science still adores
The aristocracy:
A happy usher once I strayed
Beneath your lofty elm trees' shade,
With mind untouched by guilt or woe:
But mad ambition made me stray
Beyond the round of work and play
Wherein we ought to go.

My office was to teach the young
Idea how to shoot:
But, ah! I joined with eager tongue
Political dispute:
I ventured humbly to suggest
That all things were not for the best
Among the Irish peasantry:
And finding all the world abuse
My simple unpretending views,
I thought I'd go and see.

I boldly left the College bounds:
Across the sea I went,
To probe the economic grounds
Of Irish discontent.
My constant goings to and fro
Excited some alarm; and so
Policemen girded up their loins,
And, from his innocent pursuits,—
Morose unsympathetic brutes,—
They snatched a fearful Joynes.

Escaped, I speedily returned
To teach the boys again:
But ah, my spirit inly burned
To think on Ireland's pain.
Such wrongs must out: and then, you see,
My own adventures might not be
Uninteresting to my friends:
I therefore ventured to prepare
A little book, designed with care,
To serve these humble ends.

Our stern head-master spoke to me
Severely:—"You appear
"(Horresco referens) to be
"A party pamphleteer.
"If you must write, let Caesar's page
"Or Vergil's poetry engage
"Your all too numerous leisure hours:
"But now annihilate and quash
"This impious philanthropic bosh:
"Or quit these antique towers."

It seems that he who dares to write
Is all unfit to teach:
And literary fame is quite
Beyond an usher's reach.
I dared imprisonment in vain:
The little bantling of my brain
I am compelled to sacrifice.
The moral, after all, is this:—
That here, where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise.

Pall Mall Gazette, Nov. 17, 1882.