I was an ass and he was an ass,
In this city by the sea;
But we ground in a way which was more than a grind,
I and Andrew M’Crie;
In a way that the idle semis next door
Declared was shameful to see.
And this was the reason that, one dark night,
In this city by the sea,
A stone flew in at the window, hitting
The milk-jug and Andrew M’Crie.
And once some low-bred tertians came,
And bore him away from me,
And shoved him into a private house
Where the people were having tea.
Professors, not half so well up in their work,
Went envying him and me—
Yes!—that was the reason, I always thought
(And Andrew agreed with me),
Why they ploughed us both at the end of the year,
Chilling and killing poor Andrew M’Crie.
But his ghost is more terrible far than the ghosts
Of many more famous than he—
Of many more gory than he—
And neither visits to foreign coasts,
Nor tonics, can ever set free
Two well-known Profs from the haunting wraith
Of the injured Andrew M’Crie.
For at night, as they dream, they frequently scream,
‘Have mercy, Mr. M’Crie!’
And at morn they will rise with bloodshot eyes,
And the very first thing they will see,
When they dare to descend to their coffee and rolls,
Sitting down by the scuttle, the scuttle of coals,
With a volume of notes on its knee,
Is the spectre of Andrew M’Crie.
I met him down upon the pier;
His eyes were wild and sad,
And something in them made me fear
That he was going mad.
So, being of a prudent sort,
I stood some distance off,
And before speaking gave a short
I then observed, ’What makes you look
So singularly glum?’
No notice of my words he took.
I said, ‘Pray, are you dumb?’
‘Oh no!’ he said, ’I do not
My power of speech is lost,
But when one’s hopes are black as ink,
Why, talking is a frost.
’You see, I’m in for Math. again,
And certain to be ploughed.
Please tell me where I could obtain
An inexpensive shroud.’
I told him where such things are had,
Well made, and not too dear;
And, feeling really very sad,
I left him on the pier.
THE M.A. DEGREE
It was a phantom of delight
When first it gleamed upon my sight,
A scholarly distinction, sent
To be a student’s ornament.
The hood was rich beyond compare,
The gown was a unique affair.
By this, by that my mind was drawn
Then, in my academic dawn;
A dancing shape, an image gay
Before me then was my M.A.
I saw it upon nearer view,
A glory, yet a bother too!
For I perceived that I should be
Involved in much Philosophy
(A branch in which I could but meet
Works that were neither light nor sweet);
In Mathematics, not too good
For human nature’s daily food;
And Classics, rendered in the styles
Of Kelly, Bohn, and Dr. Giles.