When do the reasoning Powers decline?
The Ancients said at Forty-Nine.
At Forty-Nine behoves it then
To quit the Inkhorn and the Pen,
Since ARISTOTLE so decreed.
Premising thus, we now proceed.
In that thrice-favoured Northern Land,
Where most the Flowers of Thought expand,
And all things nebulous grow clear,
Through Spectacles and Lager-Beer,
There lived, at Dumpelsheim the Lesser,
A certain High-Dutch Herr Professor.
Than GROTIUS more alert and quick,
More logical than BURGERSDYCK,
His Lectures both so much transcended,
That far and wide his Fame extended,
Proclaiming him to every clime
Within a Mile of Dumpelsheim.
But chief he taught, by Day and Night,
The Doctrine of the Stagirite,
Proving it fixed beyond Dispute,
In Ways that none could well refute;
For if by Chance 'twas urged that Men
O'er-stepped the Limit now and then,
He'd show unanswerably still
Either that all they did was "Nil,"
Or else 'twas marked by Indication
Of grievous mental Degradation:
Nay--he could even trace, they say,
That Degradation to a Day.
The Years rolled on, and as they flew,
More famed the Herr Professor grew,
His "Locus of the Pineal Gland"
(A Masterpiece he long had planned)
Had reached the End of Book Eleven,
And he was nearing Forty-Seven.
Admirers had not long to wait;
The last Book came at Forty-Eight,
And should have been the Heart and Soul--
The Crown and Summit--of the whole.
But now the oddest Thing ensued;
'Twas so insufferably crude,
So feeble and so poor, 'twas plain
The Writer's Mind was on the wane.
Nothing could possibly be said;
E'en Friendship's self must hang the head,
While jealous Rivals, scarce so civil,
Denounced it openly as "Drivel."
Never was such Collapse. In brief,
The poor Professor died of Grief.
With fitting mortuary Rhyme
They buried him at Dumpelsheim,
And as they sorrowing set about
A "Short Memoir," the Truth came out.
He had been older than he knew.
The Parish Clerk had put a "2"
In place of "Nought," and made his Date
Of Birth a Brace of Years too late.
When he had written Book the Last,
His true Climacteric had past!
MORAL.--To estimate your Worth,
Be certain as to date of Birth.