[Page 115]



1 A college life! I scorn the odious phrase;
2 So dull a theme shall ne'er employ my lays:
3 A life indeed! 'twere fitter stil'd a death,
4 Unless 'tis life merely to draw your breath;
5 By fusty walls coop'd up, as in a pen,
6 'Mongst fusty books, and still more fusty men.
7 Can this be life, by gothic rules compell'd
8 To part from liberty, or be expell'd?
9 At early dawn roused by the bell to matin,
10 The live long day confined to Greek and Latin;
11 At such an hour amongst old dons to dine,
12 Yet not allow'd a social glass of wine;
13 With cap in hand across the court to go,
14 But not to touch the grass-plat with your toe,
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15 Lest dire expulsion for that breach of laws
16 Seize on the culprit with it's iron claws.
17 If when fatigu'd at ev'ning, he should take
18 A nap too long, and not to pray'rs awake,
19 Strait through the College shall his name resound,
20 Dead or alive, the caitiff must be found:
21 Or if perchance some friend or lady sair
22 Should draw him forth to taste the noontide air,
23 Then as a squirrel, who his chain has broke,
24 Or slave new ransom'd from his galling yoke,
25 His liberty he hugs, with joy elate,
26 He for a while forgets his fervile state,
27 Nor e'er reflects on bars, or keys, or gate.
28 But now the college clock with gloomy knell
29 Assails his ear, and like conjurer's spell
30 Strikes thro' his heart with horror in his face
31 Sudden he starts his short-liv'd joy gives place.
32 With eager strides swift thro' the streets he hies,
33 And at the portal for admittance cries,
34 But cries in vain for ah! 'tis all too late;
35 The porter hears, but won't unbar the gate;
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36 Abash'd the youth retires with thoughful pace,
37 Dreams of jobation, lectures and disgrace;
38 Next morn by Master, Tutor, Fellows rated,
39 In short, not much unlike a bear when baited.
40 Since this a College Life, peace to that pair,
41 Who dying left me to a Guardian's care,
42 And he, thank Fortune, to unbend my mind,
43 Chose a young Tutor, gay, polite and kind,
44 Who, anxious much my morals to advance,
45 Took me a tour thro' Italy and France;
46 Gave me the Graces, which I more admire
47 Than all the learning I could else acquire:
48 This, this is life, but that within a College,
49 Which musty pedants term the Seat of Knowledge,
50 Let pedants take I will not see their faces,
51 But live and die devoted to the Graces.
52 Thus Florio talk'd much noise and little matter,
53 'Tis thus, that puppies yelp, and monkies chatter.


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Genres: heroic couplet; occasional poem

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Alcock [née Cumberland], Mary, 1741?–1798. Poems, &c. &c. by the Late Mrs. Mary Alcock [poems only]. London: Printed for C. Dilly, Poultry, 1799, pp. 115-117. vii,[25],183,[1]p. (ESTC T86344) (Page images digitized by University of Michigan Library.)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

Other works by Mary Alcock (née Cumberland)