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    DEDICATORY EPISTLE TO HABBAKUKIUS DUNDERHEADIUS, Sometime Fellow, etc., of the renowned University of Leyden.


    The inestimable Homeric Fragment, which your singular patience of research hath given to the world, will hand down your name sacred and immortal to posterity.

    The sagacity of your Annotations, appendant to this divine relic, hath left no room to the learned but for admiration. To the unlearned perchance my feeble translation may afford a dim glimpse of its beauties.

    However infelicitous, O thrice sapient Sir! my effort to ren- der adequately into the English tongue so precious a morsel, I am consoled by the hope of stimulating others to so worthy a toil, and by beholding the unheard-of success of the original, in the appearance of a third edition.

    Suffer me, illustrious Sir, to subscribe myself, with all fitting veneration,
    Your devoted Worshipper, JEDEDIAH PUZZLEPATE.
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    As, when some antiquated virgin’s hand
    With baleful broom hath chased her feline band,
    Around the topmost garrets of the house
    Each caterwauling Tom consoles his spouse;
    No less a clamour in thy room, O Star!5
    To Ramblers pale portended woes and war:
    Ranged on the left the foe prepared the fight,
    The Rambler phalanx marshall’d on the right;
    In high command above their host are seen,
    W--d Tory chief, and C--ll’s graceful mien,10
    Supreme in eloquence they lead the way,
    The first in counsel, and the first in sway:
    B--r conducts the bold M--eian throng,
    Skill’d to protract debate, and voluble of tongue;
    Thron’d above all, and carpeted in state,15
    The mighty M--e, wordy warrior sate;
    (Where erst, with antics, fooleries, and puns,
    Matthews the comic tickled Oxford’s sons.)
    [Page 4]4UNIOMACHIA.
    In many a sable fold of honour* The learned Paunchius renders μελάγγουνος by "wearing his bachelor's." drest,
    The great L-wides tow’red above the rest;20
    Before the faithful lines advancing far,
    With winged words the chief provoked the war.
    “O friends, be men! Be ours the noble boast
    “From Union rooms to drive a traitor host;
    “Against our sov’reign will they dare combine,25
    “Form a new club, a diff'rent club from mine.
    “The godlike M--e feels their jealous hate
    “In empty benches, and in burk’d debate.
    “Accursed crew! whose ruthless hands have gored
    “Their mother’s breast with parricidal sword.30
    “Vote, then, my friends! And be the turncoat race
    “Expell’d, kick’d out, in merited disgrace.”
    The hero spake, the glad M--eian throng,
    With clam’rous joy exulting shouts prolong,
    But, ’mid their uproar and discordant sound,35
    Skimmerian S--r ardent sprang to ground,
    And, fixing on the chief a gloomy look,
    With brandish’d papers dreadful, thus he spoke:
    “Whence, men of M--e! this unjust decree?
    “Command your vassals, but command not me,40
    “Your vaunted chief, with proud, imperious soul,
    “Would all command, and all alike controul,
    [Page 5]UNIOMACHIA.5
    “With wit licentious practised to revile,
    “Jeers on his tongue, and satire in his smile;
    “Grant that the Gods his eloquence have giv’n,45
    “Hath foul reproach a privilege from heav’n?
    “His factious crew would banish in disgrace
    “The best and noblest of the Union race,
    “Strife and debate their restless souls employ,
    “And war and horrors are their only joy.50
    “Nor think, O chief! Thy purpose to perform,
    “Though high thy class, and like a God thy form.”
    He said and sat, when instant to oppose,
    Magnanimous, the mighty M--e rose,
    Redoubled clamours rang from either host,55
    The high roof shook, and half a speech was lost,
    As when some bull, by dogs bebaited round
    Glares on them fierce, nor funking quits his ground,
    So, grimly smiling, godlike M--e spoke,59
    (When ceased the Rambler din) and wrathful silence broke.
    “Joy’st thou, bold leader of the rebel train?
    “Yet hear our sentence, impudent and vain!
    “From this our Union we reject with scorn
    “Thy recreant crew, dishonoured and forlorn :
    “Thus shall ye prove our might, and curse the hour65
    “Ye stood the rivals of superior power,
    “There went not chiefs to fight for M-e’s state,
    “Our ‘hests obey, and shine in our debate.”
    [Page 6]6UNIOMACHIA.
    He said, and P--r heard with grief opprest,
    His heart swell’d high, divided in his breast:70
    Now words disdainful burst their angry way,
    Now calmer judgement bids his fury stay.
    Sudden, Minerva, gliding down the sky,
    Soft counsel whisper’d from a gas-light high,
    In gentle M--w’s form-the warrior heard,75
    Knit his dark brows, and loath obey’d the word,
    And, while his breast disdain and choler fill’d,
    Words sweet as honey from his lips distilled.
    “With equal zeal my friendly soul approves
    “The trusty Ramblers, and the Union loves,80
    “Ardent my wish in both alike to share,
    “Both clubs my pride, and both debates my care.”
    The gen’rous hero ceased-with thund’ring sound
    T--t shook his tassell’d cap, and sprang to ground,
    (The tassell’d cap by Juggins’ hand was made,85
    Or some keen brother of the London trade,
    Unconscious of the stern decrees of fate,
    What ruthless thumps the batter’d trencher wait,)
    Dire was the clang, and dreadful from afar
    Of T--t indignant, rushing to the war,90
    In vain the chair’s dread mandate interfer’d,
    Nor chair, nor fine, the angry warrior fear’d,
    A forfeit pound th’ unequal contest ends,
    Loud rose the clamour of condoling friends,
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    Loud from the foe triumphant thunders broke,95
    And, swoln with boiling rage, the fearless champion spoke:
    “Not I, O friends! provok’d th’ unholy strife,
    “Ye, men of M--e! gave the conflict life,
    “Your own Committee urg’d the dire debate,
    Your tongues contentious threat the tott’ring state.”100
    M--t the good with grief beheld from far
    His mulcted friend amid the ranks of war;
    Stung to the soul, he rose above the rest,
    Of Oriel’s sons the dearest and the best,
    Both hosts alike rever’d the peaceful man,105
    On both he kindly smil’d, and thus began.
    “Alas! my friends! the day decreed by fates,
    “(How my heart trembles while my tongue relates,)
    “The day must come, when this proud house shall bend,
    “And the high glories of our Union end,110
    “Then shall ye mourn the blow your madness gave,
    “Forc’d to deplore when impotent to save.
    “Cease then the war, your dire division cease,
    “And join in league of amity and peace.”
    He said, and many a list’ning chief approv’d115
    The prudent counsel of the man belov’d,
    Still the fierce M--ites for vengeance call,
    The Ramblers to confound, and banish all:
    Rising in royal majesty and pride,
    “Great Agamemnon” bade the house divide.120
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    The joyous Ramblers triumph’d in the fray,
    Theirs was the palm on that eventful day.
    As when a hundred mails and coaches meet,
    And cabs and buggies cram the crowded street,
    Down the wide Cornmarket they thunder in,125
    And far-off Broadstreet hears the mighty din;
    So long, so loud the shouts of conquest sound,
    In Castle’s dome, and many a dwelling round,
    The pipe was dropp’d, and wagg’d the sapient head,
    As some grave townsman to his neighbour said,130
    “Sure through the doors th’ affrighted house will fly,
    “With such fierce shouts the gownsmen rend the sky.”
    Rising at length, when hush’d the hideous roar,
    And their joy settled, and their throats were sore,
    Gath’ring their gowns and caps they left the fight,135
    And in snug parties pass’d the waning night,
    On oysters feasted through their classic tow’rs,
    With grog recruited their exhausted pow’rs,
    And brandy quaff’d, and smok’d segars for hours.

    About this text

    Title: Uniomachia, or The battle at the Union : an Homeric fragment, lately given to the world by Habbakukius Dunderheadius, and now rendered into the English tongue by Jedediah Puzzlepate.
    Author: Jackson, Thomas, 1812-1886 Giles, John Douglas
    Edition: Taylor edition
    Series: Taylor Editions: Guest
    Editor: Edited by Laura Johnson.

    About this edition

    This is a facsimile and transcription of Uniomachia, or The battle at the Union : an Homeric fragment, lately given to the world by Habbakukius Dunderheadius [pseud.] and now rendered into the English tongue by Jedediah Puzzlepate [pseud.]. It is held by Oxford Union Society Library (shelf mark 378.425 74 OUS UNI).

    The transcription was encoded in TEI P5 XML by Laura Johnson.

    Transcribed from: Oxford Union Society Library 378.425 74 OUS UNI Images scanned from Oxford Union Society Library 378.425 74 OUS UNI


    Written as a humorous account of a conflict amongst the members of the Oxford Union Society in the Michaelmas term of 1833, the poem Uniomachia succeeded in healing divisions and securing the future of the Society.

    The conflict arose when the ascendancy of the politically-Conservative governing Committee who had controlled the Union for the past year, was overthrown by a number of Liberal reformers, including Edward Massie as the new President. The old Committee took offence at this and formed their own debating society, known as the Ramblers. The Rambler debates proved very popular and attendance at the Union declined. This led Massie and the new Committee to propose a motion to expel all members of the Ramblers from the Oxford Union. The debate on the motion was fierce and the Society remained divided, even after a clear majority of 107 to 63 voters rejected the motion.

    In an attempt to heal the rift, Thomas Jackson (pseudonym Habbakukius Dunderheadius) decided to retell the story of the debate in mock Homeric verse. He was assisted in the enterprise by one of the participants of the debate, a fellow undergraduate of St Mary’s Hall, William Sinclair. Originally written in macaronic Greek and Latin, referred to as “Canino-Anglico-Græce et Latine”, this translation of Uniomachia into English in the manner of Alexander Pope was quickly composed and published the same year by John Douglas Giles of Corpus Christi (pseudonym Jedediah Puzzlepate). The texts circulated rapidly around the University and were found to be highly amusing by all sides. This succeeded in easing tensions and led to the arrangement of a banquet for the original protagonists where a blessing of friendship was read.


    Publication: Taylor Institution Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford, 2019. XML files are available for download under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License . Images are available for download under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License .

    Source edition

    Uniomachia, or The battle at the Union : an Homeric fragment, lately given to the world by Habbakukius Dunderheadius, and now rendered into the English tongue by Jedediah Puzzlepate. Oxford : J. Vincent, 1833.  

    Editorial principles

    Created by encoding transcription from printed text.

    This is a diplomatic transcription. All original spelling, punctuation and capitalisation has been reproduced. The running header, page and line numbers have been represented. All line breaks have been reproduced, but some spacing between words has been normalised.