The Devil Among The Scholars, A Fragment.

A poem by Thomas Moore

But, whither have these gentle ones,
These rosy nymphs and black-eyed nuns,
With all of Cupid's wild romancing,
Led by truant brains a-dancing?
Instead of studying tomes scholastic,
Ecclesiastic, or monastic,
Off I fly, careering far
In chase of Pollys, prettier far
Than any of their namesakes are,--
The Polymaths and Polyhistors,
Polyglots and all their sisters.

So have I known a hopeful youth
Sit down in quest of lore and truth,
With tomes sufficient to confound him,
Like Tohu Bohu, heapt around him,--
Mamurra[1] stuck to Theophrastus,
And Galen tumbling o'er Bombastus.[2]
When lo! while all that's learned and wise
Absorbs the boy, he lifts his eyes,
And through the window of his study
Beholds some damsel fair and ruddy,
With eyes, as brightly turned upon him as
The angel's[3] were on Hieronymus.
Quick fly the folios, widely scattered,
Old Homer's laureled brow is battered,
And Sappho, headlong sent, flies just in
The reverend eye of St. Augustin.
Raptured he quits each dozing sage,
Oh woman, for thy lovelier page:
Sweet book!--unlike the books of art,--
Whose errors are thy fairest part;
In whom the dear errata column
Is the best page in all the volume![4]
But to begin my subject rhyme--
'Twas just about this devilish time,
When scarce there happened any frolics
That were not done by Diabolics,
A cold and loveless son of Lucifer,
Who woman scorned, nor saw the use of her,
A branch of Dagon's family,
(Which Dagon, whether He or She,
Is a dispute that vastly better is
Referred to Scaliger[5] et coeteris,)
Finding that, in this cage of fools,
The wisest sots adorn the schools,
Took it at once his head Satanic in,
To grow a great scholastic manikin,--
A doctor, quite as learned and fine as
Scotus John or Tom Aquinas,
Lully, Hales Irrefragabilis,
Or any doctor of the rabble is.
In languages, the Polyglots,
Compared to him, were Babelsots:
He chattered more than ever Jew did;--
Sanhedrim and Priest included,
Priest and holy Sanhedrim
Were one-and-seventy fools to him.
But chief the learned demon felt a
Zeal so strong for gamma, delta,
That, all for Greek and learning's glory,[6]
He nightly tippled "Graeco more,"
And never paid a bill or balance
Except upon the Grecian Kalends:--
From whence your scholars, when they want tick,
Say, to be Attic's to be on tick.
In logics, he was quite Ho Panu;
Knew as much as ever man knew.
He fought the combat syllogistic
With so much skill and art eristic,
That though you were the learned Stagyrite,
At once upon the hip he had you right.
In music, though he had no ears
Except for that amongst the spheres,
(Which most of all, as he averred it,
He dearly loved, 'cause no one heard it,)
Yet aptly he, at sight, could read
Each tuneful diagram in Bede,
And find, by Euclid's corollaria,
The ratios of a jig or aria.
But, as for all your warbling Delias,
Orpheuses and Saint Cecilias,
He owned he thought them much surpast
By that redoubted Hyaloclast[7]
Who still contrived by dint of throttle,
Where'er he went to crack a bottle.

Likewise to show his mighty knowledge, he,
On things unknown in physiology,
Wrote many a chapter to divert us,
(Like that great little man Albertus,)
Wherein he showed the reason why,
When children first are heard to cry,
If boy the baby chance to be.
He cries O A!--if girl, O E!--
Which are, quoth he, exceeding fair hints
Respecting their first sinful parents;
"Oh Eve!" exclaimeth little madam,
While little master cries "Oh Adam!"

But, 'twas in Optics and Dioptrics,
Our daemon played his first and top tricks.
He held that sunshine passes quicker
Through wine than any other liquor;
And though he saw no great objection
To steady light and clear reflection,
He thought the aberrating rays,
Which play about a bumper's blaze,
Were by the Doctors looked, in common, on,
As a more rare and rich phenomenon.
He wisely said that the sensorium
Is for the eyes a great emporium,
To which these noted picture-stealers
Send all they can and meet with dealers.
In many an optical proceeding
The brain, he said, showed great good breeding;
For instance, when we ogle women
(A trick which Barbara tutored him in),
Although the dears are apt to get in a
Strange position on the retina,
Yet instantly the modest brain
Doth set them on their legs again!

Our doctor thus, with "stuft sufficiency"
Of all omnigenous omnisciency,
Began (as who would not begin
That had, like him, so much within?)
To let it out in books of all sorts,
Folios, quartos, large and small sorts;
Poems, so very deep and sensible
That they were quite incomprehensible
Prose, which had been at learning's Fair,
And bought up all the trumpery there,
The tattered rags of every vest,
In which the Greeks and Romans drest,
And o'er her figure swollen and antic
Scattered them all with airs so frantic,
That those, who saw what fits she had,
Declared unhappy Prose was mad!
Epics he wrote and scores of rebuses,
All as neat as old Turnebus's;
Eggs and altars, cyclopaedias,
Grammars, prayer-books--oh! 'twere tedious,
Did I but tell thee half, to follow me:
Not the scribbling bard of Ptolemy,
No--nor the hoary Trismegistus,
(Whose writings all, thank heaven! have missed us,)
E'er filled with lumber such a wareroom
As this great "porcus literarum!"

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