Jemmy Blinker.

(In Memory of a Great Scholar of the Old School.)

Air— “ The Brown Jug.

Dear Tom, this brown beaker, so clasped and so cracked,1
Was once Jemmy Blinker’s, a scholar exact ;2
He gave it to me, when he died in his bed,3
This bowl, with his Homer bound trimly in red.4
And now once a-year, since the flight of his soul,5
I read in his Homer, and drink from his bowl6
Rare Jemmy Blinker !7
O rare Jemmy Blinker, where now shall we find8
A scholar like him, of omnivorous kind ?9
Not this volume he tasted, or that, for his whim,10
But a book was a book and a banquet to him :11
Its date and its title and binding he knew,12
And its place in the Bodleian Library too13
Rare Jemmy Blinker !14
O rare Jemmy Blinker, oh where shall we find15
A scholar like him, of the Polyglot kind ?16
For his Latin, could Cicero rise from the dead,17
He would wonder to find his own echo so spread ;18
And for Greek, every twig he could hunt to its root,19
In Sanscrit, and Gothic, and Gaelic to boot20
Rare Jemmy Blinker !21
When you caught him in one of his musty old nooks,22
Half buried behind a big rampart of books,23
With his soft-shaded hair, and his delicate skin,24
You ne’er had suspected the giant within ;25
But Jem was a tough one, and never knew pains26
In his vulcanite bowels and bend-leather brains27
Rare Jemmy Blinker !28
Our readers are now a light-skirmishing race,29
Who skim frothy fancies with grasshopper grace,30
But Jem, with a folio like Hercules, would wrestle,31
And he pounded the stuff in his brain with a pestle ;32
His memory beat all the rhapsodist crew,33
For Homer both forwards and backwards he knew34
Rare Jemmy Blinker !35
’Twas a feast to behold him, with pipe and with coffee,36
Grinding his teeth o’er some rugged old strophe ;37
His wit never failed when a verse was to mend,38
With a gash in the front and a gap in the end ;39
And keen as a terrier nosing the vermin,40
He smelt a hiatus like Porson or Hermann41
Rare Jemmy Blinker !42
At famous book-sales with the clock he was seen,43
In a snuffy old shirt, and a coat of pea-green ;44
Few volumes he bought, but when Blinker was there,45
Be sure that the lumber contained something rare ;46
He once stood an Aldus, so costly a winner,47
That he lived a whole week without port to his dinner48
Rare Jemmy Blinker !49
One winter at Rome, when he journeyed with me,50
No pictures he went, no processions, to see ;51
No vespers he heard, and no matins could say,52
But he sat in the Vatican day after day ;53
And when he came back from his tour antiquarian,54
He published the text of an old Greek grammarian55
Rare Jemmy Blinker !56
So mighty was he variantes to fish up,57
I never knew why he was not made a bishop ;58
Perhaps such a fellow, who shaped his own notions,59
Might shake an old creed with unseemly commotions :60
I once heard it whispered, though not Unitarian,61
He brewed in his brain a slight tincture of Arian62
Poor Jemmy Blinker !63
He had faults, I confess, but what mortal has not ?64
We moderns, he said, on the shelves would soon rot ;65
Bombastic was Shakespeare, and once he detected him,66
Cribbing from Pindar, when no man suspected him ;67
John Ruskin was flighty, Tom Carlyle was crude,68
And all were admired most when least understood69
Said learned Jemmy Blinker !70
His books he loved well, but loved not less his bottle,71
Like Socrates, Solon, and sage Aristotle72
For the Greeks were great drinkers, he said, and if you, sir,73
Denied it, you’d find that he knew what he knew, sir ;74
He’d rise in his chair, like a god, and belay us75
With book, page, and letter of old Athenæus76
Rare Jemmy Blinker !77
One day in his study—what fate could be sadder ?— 78
He clomb to the shelf, No. 10, on a ladder ;79
And while fumbling up there for a Cassiodorus,80
He came tumbling down with a rumble sonorous :81
And he broke his hip-bone, and the doctors him bled,82
And we wept briny tears when he died in his bed83
Poor Jemmy Blinker !84
Then fill up the glass, Tom, of port do not scrimp us,85
’Tis nine years to-day since he rose to Olympus ;86
Not lightly again shall we see such a tinker87
Of wormy old vellums as glorious Blinker.88
I read in his Homer, I drink from his bowl,89
And I pray that the gods may give peace to the soul90
Of rare Jemmy Blinker !91