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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

George Walter Thornbury (1828–1876)

Smith of Maudlin

MY chums will burn their Indian weeds

The very night I pass away,

And cloud-propelling, puff and puff

As white the thin smoke melts away;

Then Jones of Wadham, eyes half-closed,

Rubbing the ten hairs on his chin,

Will say, “This very pipe I use

Was poor old Smith’s of Maudlin.”

That night in High Street there will walk

The ruffling gownsmen three abreast,

The stiff-necked proctors, wary-eyed,

The dons, the coaches, and the rest:

Sly “Cherub Sims” will then propose

Billiards, or some sweet ivory sin;

Tom cries, “He played a pretty game—

Did honest Smith of Maudlin.”

The boats are out!—the arrowy rush,

The mad bull’s jerk, the tiger’s strength;

The Balliol men have wopped the Queen’s—

Hurrah!—but only by a length,

Dig on, ye muffs, ye cripples, dig!

Pull blind, till crimson sweats the skin!

The man who bobs and steers cries, “Oh,

For plucky Smith of Maudlin.”

Wine parties met—a noisy night;

Red sparks are breaking through the cloud;

The man who won the silver cup

Is in the chair erect and proud.

Three are asleep—one to himself

Sings, “Yellow jacket’s sure to win.”

A silence:—“Men, the memory

Of poor old Smith of Maudlin!”

The boxing rooms: With solemn air

A freshman dons the swollen glove;

With slicing strokes the lapping sticks

Work out a rubber—three and love;

With rasping jar the padded man

Whips Thompson’s foil so square and thin,

And cries, “Why zur, you’ve not the wrist

Of Muster Smith of Maudlin.”

But all this time beneath the sheet

I shall lie still, and free from pain,

Hearing the bed-makers sluff in

To gossip round the blinded pane;

Try on my rings, sniff up my scent,

Feel in my pockets for my tin:

While one hag says, “We all must die,

Just like this Smith of Maudlin.”

Ah! then a dreadful hush will come,

And all I hear will be the fly

Buzzing impatient round the wall,

And on the sheet where I must lie;

Next day a jostling of feet—

The men who bring the coffin in:—

“This is the door—the third pair back—

Here’s Mr. Smith of Maudlin.”