Anecdote For Fathers

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By the late W. W. (of H.M. Inland Revenue Service).
  And is it so? Can Folly stalk
  And aim her unrespecting darts
  In shades where grave Professors walk
 And Bachelors of Arts?
  I have a boy, not six years old,
  A sprite of birth and lineage high:
  His birth I did myself behold,
 His caste is in his eye.
  And oh! his limbs are full of grace,
  His boyish beauty past compare:
  His mother's joy to wash his face,
 And mine to brush his hair!
  One morn we strolled on our short walk,
  With four goloshes on our shoes,
  And held the customary talk
 That parents love to use.
 (And oft I turn it into verse,
  And write it down upon a page,
  Which, being sold, supplies my purse
 And ministers to age.)
  So as we paced the curving High,
  To view the sights of Oxford town
  We raised our feet (like Nelly Bly),
 And then we put them down.
 'Now, little Edward, answer me'—
  I said, and clutched him by the gown—
 'At Cambridge would you rather be,
 Or here in Oxford town?'
  My boy replied with tiny frown
 (He'd been a year at Cavendish),
 'I'd rather dwell in Oxford town,
 If I could have my wish.'
 'Now, little Edward, say why so;
  My little Edward, tell me why.'
 'Well, really, Pa, I hardly know.'
  'Remarkable!' said I:
 'For Cambridge has her "King's Parade,"
  And much the more becoming gown;
  Why should you slight her so,' I said,
 'Compared with Oxford town?'
  At this my boy hung down his head,
  While sterner grew the parent's eye;
  And six-and-thirty times I said,
 'Come, Edward, tell me why?'
  For I loved Cambridge (where they deal—
  How strange!—in butter by the yard);
  And so, with every third appeal,
 I hit him rather hard.
  Twelve times I struck, as may be seen
 (For three times twelve is thirty-six),
  When in a shop the Magazine
 His tearful sight did fix.
  He saw it plain, it made him smile,
  And thus to me he made reply:—
 'At Oxford there's a Crocodile;
 And that's the reason why.'
  Oh, Mr. Editor! my heart
  For deeper lore would seldom yearn,
  Could I believe the hundredth part
 Of what from you I learn.

© Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch