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The Battle of Alma Mater

I

The Temperance commissioners In awful conclave sat, Their noses into this to poke To poke them into that - In awful conclave sat they, And swore a solemn oath, That snuff should make no Briton sneeze, That smokers all to smoke should cease, They swore to conquer both.

II

Forth went a great Teetotaller, With pamphlet armed and pen, He travelled east, he travelled west, Tobacco to condemn. At length to Cantabrigia, To move her sons to shame, Foredoomed to chaff and insult, That gallant hero came.

III

'Tis Friday: to the Guildhall Come pouring in apace The gownsmen and the townsmen Right thro' the market place - They meet, these bitter foemen Not enemies but friends - Then fearless to the rostrum, The Lecturer ascends.

IV

He cursed the martyr'd Raleigh, He cursed the mild cigar, He traced to pipe and cabbage leaf Consumption and catarrh; He railed at simple bird's-eye, By freshmen only tried, And with rude and bitter jest assailed The yard of clay beside.

V

When suddenly full twenty pipes, And weeds full twenty more Were seen to rise at signal, Where none were seen before. No mouth but puffed out gaily A cloud of yellow fume, And merrily the curls of smoke Went circling 'thro the room.

VI

In vain th' indignant mayor harangued, A mighty chandler he! While peas his hoary head around They whistled pleasantly. In vain he tenderly inquired, 'Mid many a wild "hurrah!" "Of this what father dear would think, Of that what dear mamma?"

VII

In rushed a host of peelers, With a sergeant at the head, Jaggard to every kitchen known, Of missuses the dread. In rushed that warlike multitude, Like bees from out their hive, With Fluffy of the squinting eye, And fighting No. 5.

VIII

Up sprang Inspector Fluffy, Up Sergeant Jaggard rose, And playfully with staff he tapped A gownsman on the nose. As falls a thundersmitten oak, The valiant Jaggard fell, With a line above each ogle, And a "mouse" or two as well.

IX

But hark! the cry is "Smuffkins! And loud the gownsmen cheer, And lo! a stalwart Johnian Comes jostling from the rear: He eyed the flinching peelers, He aimed a deadly blow, Then quick before his fist went down Inspector, Marshal, Peelers, Town, While fiercer fought the joyful Gown, To see the claret flow.

X

They run, they run! to win the door The vanquished peelers flew; They left the sergeant's hat behind, And the lecturer's surtout: Now by our Lady Margaret, It was a goodly sight, To see that routed multitude Swept down the tide of flight.

XI

Then hurrah! for gallant Smuffkins, For Cantabs one hurrah! Like wolves in quest of prey they scent A peeler from afar. Hurrah! for all who strove and bled For liberty and right, What time within the Guildhall Was fought the glorious fight.


Samuel Butler