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CHAPTER IX.

HOOD AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES.

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Thomas Hood-Poet and Punster-Up the Rhine'-' On Sir John Bowring'-'On completing Forty-seven''The Doubtful Sneeze'-William Makepeace Thackeray -Jacob Omnium' Little Billee'-'Peg of Limavaddy''Persicos Odi' - Charles Shirley Brooks - A Parody-A Poetic Jumble-Epigrams-Robert Brough -Neighbour Nelly'-Winthrop Mackworth Praed'The Belle of the Ballroom'-'A Letter of Advice'Edward Fitzgerald-Chivalry at a Discount'-'Because' -Lord Macaulay-A Valentine- The Country Clergyman's Trip to Cambridge'-Mortimer Collins-"The Positivists'-'Sky-making'-A Parody-Arthur Hugh Clough The Latest Decalogue'- The Bothie of Tober-naVuolich'-' Amours de Voyage'-' Dipsychus'-Edward Lord Lytton-King Arthur'-John Poole-Travestie of Hamlet'-Wm. Edmonstoune Aytoun-Bon Gaultier Ballads'-George Outram-Epigram-James Hannay-Epigrams-Lord Neaves-Songs and Verses by an Old Contributor'-James Ballantine-'John Thamson's Cart'-Francis Mahoney-'The Bells o' Shandon,' -Samuel Lover - Epigram - Charles Lever — The Widow Malone.'

CHAPTER IX.

HOOD AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES.

Ir was not to be expected that the generation after that which included among its members such distinguished names as those we have had to record in the previous chapter would exhibit an equal wealth of wits and humourists. There is ever a lull after a storm-in literature as in meteorology. Nevertheless, the generation which had Hood for its most prominent humourist has no cause to hide its head in shame. Apart, altogether, from the ever-memorable poet and punsfer, there were in those days. many able men fitted to carry on the proud traditions of their fathers. Side by side with Hood was Thackeray, and with Thackeray may be ranked that other Punch man'-Shirley Brooks, and, with Shirley Brooks, Robert Brough. Social poetry found exponents in Mackworth Praed, Macaulay, Edward Fitzgerald, and, in later days, Mortimer Collins. Lord Lytton, like so many other clever men, dabbled largely in satire; and Clough displayed his earnest humour in Dipsychus, The Bothie of Tober na Vuolich, Amours de Voyage, and many smaller pieces. The Scotch contingent was especially prominent, including as it did Aytoun and Hannay, whose reputation was renewed by men like Outram, Ballantine, and Lord Neaves. The list is not a long one, but it is a strong one, and will detain us as pleasingly as in any previous chapter.

And first for Hood. We have called him poet and punster, and it is really in these two characters that he is most interesting. As a poet, we venture to think he has not been properly estimated. People talk about, quote, or recite his Song of a Shirt' and 'Bridge of Sighs'ignorant that these are, perhaps, the least truly poetical of

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all his works. To most of us The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies is almost a dead letter; and the best of the sonnets, songs, and other lyrics are by no means describable as popular. Nor are Hood's happiest bits of humour so familiar as they might be. Ninety-nine are acquainted with Ben Battle' and 'Nelly Gray' to the one who is conversant with all the grim irony of the 'Ode to Rae Wilson, Esq.'-one of the most pungent exposés of hypocrisy ever penned by Englishman. Even this, however, pales by the side of the wonderful mass of what may be called purely comic writing which Hood gave to the world-writing in which the elements of wit and humour were so blended as to yield a compound of the most delicious fun imaginable.

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We have nothing to do here with his prose performances, among which his private letters shine out as even more deliciously amusing than his premeditated utterances, if indeed premeditation had much to do even with his obvious pot-boilers.' He sat down to write, no doubt, with dogged perseverance and determination; but, his pen once in hand, he seems to have overflowed with easy gaiety. The amount of his witty and humorous verse is as remarkable as its variety; so much so that it is difficult to know where to begin. It enables us, however, to select as specimens of his work pieces which are in no sense of the term trite. Take, for example, the lines entitled 'Up the Rhine :'

Why, tourist, why

With passports have to do?
Prythee stay at home, and pass
The port and sherry too.

Why, tourist, why

Embark for Rotterdam?

Prythee stay at home, and take
Thy Hollands in a dram.

Why, tourist, why

To foreign climes repair?
Prythee take thy German flute,

And breathe a German air.

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