The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

March 19, 2014

March 19, 1824

William Allingham was an Irish poet. The books Allingham (March 19, 1824 to November 18, 1889) wrote and/or edited are suggested with this incomplete list. We glimpse his convivial nature and connections with the Victorian art world in these notes.

1850. Poems. Dedicated 'To Leigh Hunt, Esq.

1855. Day and Night Songs. With nine woodcuts, seven designed by Arthur Hughes, one by D. G. Rossetti, and one by John E. Millais, A.R.A. 

1860. The Music Master. A Love Poem. [Includes earlier published work, and also revised publications]

1862. Nightingale Valley. A collection of choice lyrics and short poems. From the Time of Shakespeare to the present day. A new edition, edited by William Allingham.

1865. Fifty Modern Poems. 'To A. F.'

1869. A new issue of Laurence Bloomfield in Ireland; or The New Landlord.

1872. The Ballad Book. A selection of the choicest British ballads. Edited by William Allingham.

1873. Rambles by Patricius Walker. Dedicated 'To Mr. and Mrs.W. H. Forbes.'

1877. Songs, Ballads, and Stories, including many now first collected, the rest revised and rearranged.

1882. Ashby Manor. Dedicated 'To my Wife.' And Evil May Day. Dedicated 'To my Children.'

1884. Blackberries, picked off many bushes by D. Pollex and others: put in a basket by W. Allingham.

1886. Rhymes for the Young Folk. Dedicated 'To Gerald, Eva and Little Henry, and others like them.' With pictures by Helen Allingham, Kate Greenaway, Caroline Paterson, and Harry Furniss.

1887. Irish Songs and Poems, with nine airs harmonised for voice and pianoforte

1888. Flower Pieces and Other Poems. Dedicated 'To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, whose early friendship brightened many days of my life, and whom I never can forget.' With two designs by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

From Blackberries we quote at length a poem about the cultural scene: titled, I think, "Ad Usum Scriptorum." and I think that translates to "What is the Use."

GREAT haughty Critics! your great toes I kiss; 
And humbly pray you to consider this— 
Were not a few poor devils here and there 
Original authors, how would critics fare?

THOUGH modest, as plainly her duty,
The Muse would prefer on the whole
A critic like Coleridge or Goethe
To Quirk, Bladder, Cowitch, or Mole.

SNORT cares not for my writings. 
That's but fair; 
Since I for Snort's opinions nothing care.

WHY, Screwnose, feel thy coldness or thy gibe?
 I never wish'd to please thee or thy tribe.
O BOUNCE! O flea! how sharp you bite!
I think far more of you to-night
Than of aught else beneath the moon,
Ay, or beyond it. But how soon
I shall forget!—ev'n should I fail
To catch you on my fierce thumb-nail. 

GREAT Critic Zed is rarely sweet of mood.
Forgive him; he's unhappy; for he would
Be Author, even a small one, if he could. 

ARR does write books; and, to exalt his own,
On principle runs every other's down, 

DESCEND from that high judgment-seat,
Pomposo !—doff that robe, you Cheat!
Distributor of praise and blame,
Devoid of conscience and of shame, 

Who give to ignorance and spite
Deceptive show of law and right,
By talking loud and looking big.
Off too with spectacles and wig!


WHO may this be, comes lounging through the door
With stuck-up eyeglass, drawling at his ease?
Now, Cadling, in the first place, if you please,
Off with your hat!—come, try to bend your knees !—

Down, sirrah, rub your nose upon the floor!
"WHO wrote, tell me true,
The tremendous Review?"

"'Twas Wilkins (you know him) did that;
The beast in a hole
With its glare and its growl
Is no tiger, but just a tom-cat."

I'VE studied the Review; let me count my gains:
Wilkins's opinions,—are they worth the pains?
Wilkins's opinions? No! not even these,
But what he thought would vex Timms, or Toodles please.

WERE once your Author underground,
By Critic Mole he might be found.

"PORTRAIT of Peter Pallette by Himself,"
In splendid drapery and heroic pose,
(Not the smug vulgar little man one knows)—
And Brown reviews his own books, happy elf!


Feeling Victorian yet? I thought not. This is clever light verse, despite the lost topical allusions,  and the sentiments would be shared later by many, far greater, writers than our William Allingham.  The greatness of William Allingham is however,  a more complicated question than I once thought. He uses poetic stanzas, elsewhere,  to express very subtle and telling commentary on the Victorian debate on science and religion.  Perhaps we can discuss that in another post. 

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