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Songs and verses : social and scientific online

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A GREAT proportion of these pieces were originally
published in ' Blackwood's Magazine : ' some ap-
peared in the ' Scotsman ' Newspaper ; and the rest
were written for the amusement of a Scientific
Club, or of a circle of private friends. They were
received at the time with some approbation ; and
they are now collected mainly in the hope of pre-
serving or reviving in the minds of those who were
then pleased to approve of them a recollection of
the feelings that attended their first reception.










I'M VERY FOND OF WATER, . . . . . . 26


CASTER, THE FIRST M.A., . . .... 32







THE THREE MODERATORS, . . . . . . 57


DECIMIS INCLUSIS, . . . . . . . 64






HAVE you heard of this question the Doctors among,
Whether all living things from a Monad have sprung ?
This has lately been said, and it now shall be sung,
Which nobody can deny.

Not one or two ages sufficed for the feat,
It required a few millions the change to complete;
But now the thing's done, and it looks rather neat,
Which nobody can deny.

The original Monad, our great-great-grandsire,
To little or nothing at first did aspire;
But at last to have offspring it took a desire,
Which nobody can deny.

The Origin of Species.

This Monad becoming a father or mother,
By budding or bursting, produced such another;
And shortly there followed a sister or brother,
Which nobody can deny.

But Monad no longer designates them well
They're a cluster of molecules now, or a cell;
But which of the two, Doctors only can tell,
Which nobody can deny.

These beings, increasing, grew buoyant with life,
And each to itself was both husband and wife;
And at first, strange to say, the two lived without strife,
Which nobody can deny.

But such crowding together soon troublesome grew,
And they thought a division of labour would do;
So their sexual system was parted in two,

Which nobody can deny.

Thus Plato supposes that, severed by fate,
Human halves run about, each in search of its mate,
Never pleased till they gain their original state,
Which nobody can deny.

Excrescences fast were now trying to shoot;
Some put out a finger, some put out a foot;
Some set up a mouth, and some sent down a root,
Which nobody can deny.

The Origin of Species.

Some, wishing to walk, manufactured a limb ;
Some rigged out a fin, with a purpose to swim ;
Some opened an eye, some remained dark and dim,
Which nobody can deny.

Some creatures grew bulky, while others were small,
As nature sent food for the few or for all ;
And the weakest, we know, ever go to the wall,
Which nobody can deny.

A deer with a neck that was longer by half
Than the rest of its family's (try not to laugh),
By stretching and stretching, became a Giraffe,
Which nobody can deny.

A very tall -pig, with a very long nose,
Sends forth a proboscis quite down to his toes ;
And he then by the name of an Elephant goes,
Which nobody can deny.

The four-footed beast that we now call a Whale,
Held its hind-legs so close that they grew to a tail,
Which it uses for threshing the sea like a flail,
Which nobody can deny.

Pouters, tumblers, and fantails are from the same source;
The racer and hack may be traced to one Horse :
So Men were developed from Monkeys, of course,
Which nobody can deny.

The Origin of Species.

An Ape with a pliable thumb and big brain,
When the gift of the gab he had managed to gain,
As a Lord of Creation established his reign,
Which nobody can deny.

But I'm sadly afraid, if we do not take care,
A relapse to low life may our prospects impair ;
So of beastly propensities let us beware,

Which nobody can deny.

Their lofty position our children may lose,
And, reduced to all-fours, must then narrow their views ;
Which would wholly unfit them for filling our shoes,
Which nobody can deny.

Their vertebrae next might be taken away,

When they'd sink to an oyster, or insect, some day,

Or the pitiful part of a polypus play,

Which nobody can deny.

Thus losing Humanity's nature and name,
And descending through varying stages of shame,
They'd return to the Monad, from which we all came,
Which nobody can deny.

May 1 86 1.


Air The Looking- Glass.

'Tis strange how men and things revive

Though laid beneath the sod, O !
I sometimes think I see alive

Our good old friend Monboddo !
His views, when forth at first they came,

Appeared a little odd, O !
But now we've notions much the same ;

We're back to old Monboddo.

The rise of Man he loved to trace

Up to the very pod, O !
And in Baboons our parent race

Was found by old Monboddo.
Their A B C he made them speak,

And learn their Qui^ qnce, quod, O !
Till Hebrew, Latin, Welsh, and Greek

They knew as well's Monboddo.

The Memory of Monboddo.

The thought that Men had once had tails

Caused many a grin full broad, O !
And why in us that feature fails,

Was asked of old Monboddo.
He showed that sitting on the rump,

While at our work we plod, O !
Would wear th' appendage to the stump

As close as in Monboddo.

Alas ! the good lord little knew,

As this strange ground he trod, O !
That others would his path pursue,

And never name Monboddo !
Such folks should have their tails restored,

And thereon feel the rod, O !
For having thus the fame ignored

That's due to old Monboddo.

Though Darwin now proclaim the law,

And spread it far abroad, O !
The man that first the secret saw,

Was honest old Monboddo.
The Architect precedence takes

Of him that bears the hod, O !
So up and at them, Land of Cakes !

We'll vindicate Monboddo.

The Memory of Monboddo.

The Scotchman who would grudge his praise,

Must be a senseless clod, O !
A MONUMENT then let us raise,

To honour old Monboddo.
Let some great artist sketch the plan,

While Rogers * gives the nod, O !
A Monkey changing to a Man !

In memory of Monboddo.

* The Rev. promoter of the Wallace Monument.
September 1861.


Air Derry Down.

O ! Farming's not merely an art of some skill ;
It's a Science, or something more excellent still :
For the Farmer has such a command over nature,
You almost might call him a kind of Creator :
Singing down, down, down, derry down.

'Twas long ago found that a Horse and an Ass
Breed a good kind of beast for a mountainous pass ;
But since Mules were invented, it never till now
Was supposed you could breed from a Horse and a Cow
Singing down, down, down, derry down.

But all nowadays to their lessons must look :
So the Farmer must read Mr Darwin's great book,
Who proves or asserts, and has credit from some,
That from all sorts of creatures all others may come :
Singing down, down, down, derry down.

If this theory holds and we find the right way,

There's no end of the freaks that the Farmer may play ;

The Darwinian Era of Farming. 9

Getting all sorts of products from all sorts of stocks,
He may ride on his Ram and clip wool from his Ox :
Singing down, down, down, derry down.

He may breed you a beast mingled just half and half,
From a fortunate cross of a Pig and a Calf:
When you'll cut without trouble, so neat and so nice.
Both your ham and your veal in the very same slice :
Singing down, down, down, derry down.

As now well established beyond any question,
Variety's good both for taste and digestion ;
And a Hybrid would prove a prodigious relief,
With the fore-quarter mutton, the hind-quarter beef:
Singing down, down, down, derry down.

You must never lose heart if your mules seldom breed,
Or if some of your mixtures at first don't succeed ;
Mr Darwin himself would exhort you to wait,
As he draws his own bills at a very long date :
Singing down, down, down, derry down.

So, perhaps, when their practical worth you explore,
There's not much in these notions we hadn't before ;
For they'll scarcely come true (what a subject for

laughter !)

Till the great day of Judgment, or say the day After :
Singing down, down, down, derry down.


Air Let Schoolmasters puzzle their brains.

'Tis not very easy to tell

How language had first a beginning,
When Adam had just left the shell,

And Eve hadn't taken to spinning ;
Or if, in some other queer way,

Men rose to be lords of creation,
What power brought their tongues into play,

Or prompted their speechification ?
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.

Some think men were ready inspired

With lexicon, syntax, and grammar,
And never like children required

At lessons to lisp and to stammer.
As Pallas by Jove was begot

In armour all brilliantly burnished,
So Man with his Liddell and Scott

And old Lindley Murray was furnished.
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.

The Origin of Language. 1 1

Some say that the primitive tongue

Expressed but the simplest affections;
And swear that the words said or sung

Were nothing but mere Interjections.
Of Of was the signal of pain :

Ha ! If a ! was the symptom of laughter :
Pooh ! Pooh ! was the sign of disdain,

And Hillo ! came following after.

Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.

Some, taking a different view,

Maintain the old language was fitted
To mark out the objects we knew,

By mimicking sounds they emitted.
Bow, wow was the name for a dog :

Quack, quack was the word for a duckling
Hunc, hunc would designate a hog,

And wee, wee a pig and a suckling.
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.

Who knows if what Adam might speak,

Was mono- or poly-syllabic ;
Was Gothic, or Gaelic, or Greek,

Tartaric, Chinese, or Arabic.
It may have been Sanscrit or Zend

It must have been something or other ;

1 2 The Origin of Language.

But thus far I'll stoutly contend,
It wasn't the tongue of his mother.

Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.

If asked these hard things to explain,

I own I am wholly unable;
And hold the attempt the more vain,

When I think of the building of Babel.
Then why should we puzzle our brains

With Etymological clatter?
The prize wouldn't prove worth the pains,

And the missing it isn't much matter.
Toroddle, torrodle, toroll.

In courtship suppose you can't sing,

Your Cara, your Liebe, your Zoe,
A kiss and a sight of the ring

Will more quickly prevail with your Chloe.
Or if you in twenty strange tongues

Could call for a beef-steak and bottle,
A purse with less learning and lungs,

Would bring them much nearer your throttle.
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.

I've ranged, without drinking a drop,
The realms of the dry Mithridates :

I've studied Grimm, Burnouf, and Bopp,
Till patience cried " Ohejam satis."

The Origin of Language. 1 3

Max Miiller completed my plan,
And, leave of the subject now taking,

As wise as when first I began,
I end with a head that is aching.

Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.

The speech of Old England for me ;

It serves us on every occasion !
Henceforth, like our soil, let it be

Exempted from foreign invasion.
It answers for friendship and love,

For all sorts of feeling and thinking ;
And lastly, all doubt to remove

It answers for singing and drinking.
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.

February 1862.


Air Old Homer, but with him what have we to do?

[In a late Number of the ' Anthropological Review' Grimm's law
is explained in what is at least an ingenious manner. After describ-
ing an Aryan, or "articulate-speaking man," setting out to teach lan-
guage to some rude owners of the ' ' kitchen-middens " of the prim-
eval age, who are supposed to be speechless, a distinguished Anthro-
pologist thus reports the result of the attempt : "But now assume
the 200 [kitchen-middeners] to be mutes, and follow the leader of
the Aryans in his first lesson to the crowd around him. Naturally
he would get the crowd to pronounce after him some short syllables,
such as pa, fa, ka, to illustrate the use of lips, palate, and throat,
and very naturally the four or five men (or women more likely) just
in front of him would pronounce them rightly, but not one man in
fifty can tell the real effect of his work on a crowd. On their return-
ing to their wigwams much would be the emotion of risibility and
imitativeness displayed that night among the natives ; and next
morning the chances are that the majority who stood some distance
from the speaker would have fixed for ever upon the whole nation
the wrong utterance of ba, da, ga. The main point of my whole
argument is, that such a result would most naturally follow among
mutes, but would never happen among speaking men." Extract
from Paper read before the Anthropological Society by the Rev. D. I.
HEATH, M.A. Anthropological Rwiew, April 1867.]

ETYMOLOGY once was a wild kind of thing,
Which from any one word any other could bring :

Grimms Law. 15

Of the consonants then the effect was thought small,
And the vowels the vowels were nothing at all.
Down a down, down, &c.

But that state of matters completely is changed,

And the old school of scholars now feels quite estranged :

For 'tis clear that whenever we open our jaw,

Every sound that we utter comes under some Law.

Now one of these laws has been named after Grimm,
For the Germans declare it was found out by him :
But their rivals the Danes take the Germans to task,
And proclaim as its finder the great Rasmus Rask.

Be this as it may, few have sought to explain
How it came that this law could its influence gain :
Max Miiller has tried, and, perhaps, pretty well ;
But I don't understand him, and therefore can't tell.

Anthropologists say, after Man had his birth,
There were two human races possessing the earth ;
One gifted and graced with articulate speech,
And another that only could gabble and screech.

The Aryans could speak, and could build, and could


And knew most of the arts we are practising now ;
But the Dumbies that dwelt at those vile Kitchen-Middens
Weren't fit but to do their superiors' biddings.

1 6 Grimms Law.

So an Aryan went forth to enlighten these others,
And to raise them by speech to the level of brothers ;
On the Mutes of the Middens he burst with eclat,
And attempted to teach them the syllable PA.

This PA was intended to set things a-going
For a lot of Good Words very well worth the knowing
Such as Pater, and fl-oX/s, and Panis, and Pasco ;
But the Midden performers made rather a fiasco.

Scarce one of them all would say PA for a wonder,
But each blundered away with a different blunder :
Some feebly cried A, and some, crow-like, said KA,
While the nearest they came to was FA or was BA.

Then the Aryan propounded the syllable TA,
Which his pupils corrupted to THA and to DA :
Even KA, when they tried it, they never came nearer
Than to HA or to GA, or to something still queerer.

So slow were their senses to seize what was said,
That they never could hit the right nail on the head ;
And the game of cross purposes lasted so long,
That it soon was a rule they should always go wrong.

Thus the Dumbies for ever said Father for Pater,
And Bearing and Brother for Ferens and Frater :
The Aryan cried Pecu, the Midden-man Fee,
In which Doctors and Lawyers to this day agree.

Grimms Law. 17

Jove's Tonitru sank into Old Saxon Thunner,

Which the High-German dunderheads changed into

Donner ;

From Domo came Tame, and from Domus came Timmer,
While the hissing Helvetians said Zamen and Zimmer.

From 0u0a came Door, and from duyanjo Dochter,
Which dwindled away into Tiire and Tochter :
From Hortus and Hostis came Garden and Guest,
And from %oX?j came Gall, which so bothers the best.

The Old Aryan GAU was the Kitchener's Koo
(Though some tribes were contented to call the beast


If your wife in her xazfita would give you a Cornu,
The Midden-man said, " In her Heart she would Horn
- you."

Such a roundabout race I can only compare
To the whirligig engines we mount at a fair ;
Where each rides as in fear lest his steed be forsaken,
But he ne'er overtakes, and is ne'er overtaken.

A theory seldom is free from a flaw,
But the story I've told may account for Grimm's law :
Though some others suggest, if the Bible's no fable,
That Grimm's law was what caused the confusion at Babel.
Down a down, down, &c.

December 1867.


Air Roy's wife of Aldivalloch.

Stuart Mill., on Mind and Matter,
All our old Beliefs would scatter :

Stuart Mill exerts his skill
To make an end of Mind and Matter.

The self-same tale I've surely heard,
Employed before, our faith to batter :

Has David Hume again appeared,
To run a-muck at Mind and Matter ?

David Hume could Mind and Matter
Ruthlessly assault and batter :

Those who Hume would now exhume
Must mean to end both Mind and Matter.

* " Matter, then, may be defined a Permanent Possibility of
Sensation." MiWs Examination of Hamilton, p. 198.

" The belief I entertain that my mind exists, when it is not feel-
ing, nor thinking, nor conscious of its own existence, resolves itself
into the belief of a Permanent Possibility of these states." "The
Permanent Possibility of feeling, which forms my notion of Myself."
Ibid., p. 205, 206.

Stuart Mill on Mind and Matter. 1 9

Now Mind, now Matter, to destroy,
Was oft proposed, at least the latter :

But David was the daring boy

Who fairly floored both Mind and Matter.

David Hume, both Mind and Matter,
While he lived, would boldly batter :
Hume by Will bequeathed to Mill
His favourite feud with Mind and Matter

We think we see the Things that be ;

But Truth is coy, we cant get at her ;
For what we spy is all my eye,

And isn't really Mind or Matter.

Hume and Mill on Mind and Matter
Swear that others merely smatter :

Sense reveals that Something feels,
But tells no tale of Mind or Matter.

Against a stone you strike your toe ;

You feel 'tis sore, it makes a clatter :
But what you feel is all you know

Of toe, or stone, or Mind, or Matter.

Mill and Hume of Mind and Matter
Wouldn't leave a rag or tatter :

What although we feel the blow ?
That doesn't show therms Mind or Matter.

20 Stuart Mill on Mind and Matter.

We meet and mix with other men ;

With women, too, who sweetly chatter :
But mayn't we here be duped again,

And take our thoughts for Mind and Matter?

Sights and sounds like Mind and Matter,
Fairy forms that seem to chatter,

Are but gleams in Fancy's dreams
Of Men and Women, Mind and Matter.

Successive feelings on us seize

(As thick as falling hail-stones patter) :

The Chance of some return of these,
Is all we mean by Mind or Matter.

Those who talk of Mind and Matter
Just a senseless jargon patter :

What are We, or you, or he ?
Dissolving views, not Mind or Matter.

We're but a train of visions vain,

Of thoughts that cheat, and hopes that flatter :
This hour's our own, the past is flown :

The rest unknown, like Mind and Matter.

Then farewell to Mind and Matter :
To the winds at once we scatter

Time and Place, and Form and Space,
And You and Me, and Mind and Matter.

Stuart Mill on Mind and Matter. 2 1

We banish hence Reid's Common Sense j
We laugh at Dugald Stewart's blatter ;

Sir William, too, and Hansel's crew,

We've done for You, and Mind and Matter.

Speak 110 more of Mind and Matter :
Mill with mud may else bespatter

All your schools of silly fools,
That dare believe in Mind or Matter.

But had I skill, like Stuart Mill,
His own position I could shatter :

The weight of Mill, I count as Nil
If Mill has neither Mind nor Matter.

Mill, when minus Mind and Matter ;
Tfiough he make a kind of clatter,

Must himself just mount the Shelf,
And there be laid with Mind and Matter.

I'd push my logic further still

(Though this may have the look of satire) :
I'd prove there's no such man as Mill,

If Mill disproves both Mind and Matter.

If there's neither Mind nor Matter,
Mill's existence, too, we shatter :

If you still believe in Mill,
Believe as well in Mind and Matter.

February 1866.



To make life's pulses gaily go,

Not much too fast, nor yet too slow ;

And joy without dejection know,

Were worth a golden mine.
Then try with me the simple art,
If better views you can't impart,
To calm the brain and cheer the heart

With a flask of rosy Wine.

Cognac may better suit with some,
Or Gin and Whisky handier come;
And Glasgow long was fond of Rum

When merchants met to dine :
But Prudence there her part should play,
The fire with water to allay;
Or take instead, to wet her clay,

A flask of rosy Wine.

A Flask of Rosy Wine. 23

The rustic loves a rousing bout

With home-brewed Ale or bottled Stout :

When these are in the sense is out,

And wit shows little sign.
For dull and dense his thoughts appear
That's drinking and that's thinking beer :
There's nothing keeps the head so clear

As a flask of rosy Wine.

The Poppy's gifts can pain control,
And waft on wings the ravished soul,
While dreamy visions round us roll,

Where rainbow-hues combine :
But sad reaction comes at last,
And binds the helpless victim fast :
Such gloomy shadows ne'er o'ercast

The reign of rosy Wine.

The Hemp, with which we used to hang
Our prison pets, yon felon gang,
In Eastern climes produces Bang,

Esteemed a drug divine.
As Hashish dressed, its magic powers
Can lap us in Elysian bowers ;
But sweeter far our social hours

O'er a flask of rosy Wine.

24 A F^lask of Rosy Wine.

The Tartar's steeds, alive or dead,
Their master keep refreshed and fed ;
The steaks they yield, like saddles spread,

Are cooked beneath his spine :
The milky mothers of his stud,
Outdoing those that chew the cud,
With Koumiss stir his stagnant blood,

As if with rosy Wine.

The Indian race of famed Peru,
To mash their malt the Chica chew;
And Tonga's tribes the same way brew

What serves their Royal line.
The Court collects at dawn of day,
And munching sits and spits away:
The Monarch drinks: but, sooth to say,

It is not rosy W T ine !

A Fungus, on Siberia's plain,

The toper's zeal can so sustain,

That he passes the bottle again and again,

And gets drunk on the filtered brine.
Our liquor is not quite so strong,
And won't so well the war prolong ;
But much the fitter theme for song

Is our flask of rosy Wine.

A Flask of Rosy Wine. 2 5

Folks up and down will preaching run
That Man should all such influence shun :
They might as well forbid the Sun

In heaven at noon to shine.
We needs must seek, while here below,
Some kind Nepenthe for our woe;
And what can softer balm bestow

Than a flask of rosy Wine ?

The banquet is not spread in vain,
Nor instincts given to cause us pain ;
Though Reason's hand should hold the rein,

And taste our joys refine :
And trust me, friends, for temperate use,
Those vine-clad hills their sweets produce,
And Nature's self exalts the juice

That fills our flask with Wine.


[Adapted from the Platt Deutsch.~\

I'M very fond of water,

I drink it noon and night :
Not Rechab's son or daughter

Had therein more delight.

I breakfast on it daily ;

And nectar it doth seem,
When once I've mixed it gaily

With sugar and with cream.
But I forgot to mention

That in it first I see,
Infused or in suspension,

Good Mocha or Bohea.

Chorus I'm very fond of water,

I drink it noon and night :

No mother's son or daughter

Hath therein more delight.

I'm Very Fond of Water. 27

At luncheon, too, I drink it,

And strength it seems to bring :
When really good, I think it

A liquor for a king.
But I forgot to mention

'Tis best to be sincere
I use an old invention

That makes it into Beer.

Chorus I'm very fond of water, &c.

I drink it, too, at dinner ;

I quaff it full and free,
And find, as I'm a sinner,

It does not disagree.
But I forgot to mention

1 3

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