An Acrostic and an Alphabet

IMG_1590Found in Herbert Kynaston.  A Memoir. (Macmillan, 1912)  an acrostic for a bazaar to raise money for a home for ‘Friendless Girls’ (below). The book has the ownership signature of F.E. Balfour (1922). This is almost certainly  Ronald Edmond Balfour , who among other things, wrote a bibliography for E.M Forster’s 1934 book on Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson. In World War 2 he was something of  a hero and there is much on him at the Monuments Men site. He had a huge book collection and went to Eton and King’s College Cambridge (hence the Forster connection.) Possibly inspired by Canon Kynaston’s acrostics (and double acrostics) he wrote out an alphabet at the end of the book. It is headlined ‘Camp Alphabet from the ECC of October 10th 1872.’ This is probably the Eton Cadet Corps, who are still in existence (David Cameron was a member- hence his fondness for The Jam’s Eton Rifles.)

A was an adjutant booted and spurred,

B was a bugle incessantly heard

C was the Colonel commanding the lot

D was the dog he would fain have shot

E is for earwigs esconced in one’s shirt

F the fleas, field- mice and frogs all alert.

G was the beard who so firmly behaved

H was H. Hobbs without mirror who shaved

I was inspection of blankets and store

J the smart jackets our officers wore

K stands for knee-caps which nobody bought

L for lumbago which nobody caught

M was a Major without even a horse

N the Northamptonshire neighbouring force

O was an Orderly ready and keen

P was the Piquet to clean the canteen

Q stands for the quartermasters both stout,

R for the Reveille which turned others out

S was the sound of their snoring sonorous

T the tattoo which preceded that chorus

U was our uniform wet day and night

V was a volley begun from the right

W was a wheel, war-like none out of place

X was Xenodochy shown by his grace

Y was the yell as we charged up the slope

Z is our zeal still unquenched let us hope.


Acrostic written for the Programme of a Bazaar in aid of the Friendless Girls Home

Framwellgate this humble lay

Recommends to you to-day:

Interest in our appeal

Every kindly heart should feel.

Novel knacks our mart supplies,

Do not scorn the merchandise.

Look around! see everywhere

Entertainment cheap and rare:

See what maidens fair attend

Smiling on you while you spend.

Gaily therefore at each stall

Indiscriminately call–

Rare the bargains you will make,

Lighter hearts, too, home you’ll take

Spending all for friendship’s sake.

Busy hands and active brains,

All intent on useful gains,

Zealously have here combined.

Aid us then:your hearts are kind:

And, encouraged by these verses

Readers, empty all your purses!



2 thoughts on “An Acrostic and an Alphabet

  1. Roger

    “G was the beard who so firmly behaved/ H was H. Hobbs without mirror who shaved”

    It looks like this was by someone else and Balfour had slips of the pen when he copied it. Someone writing their own work down would make different kinds of errors.

  2. Jot 101 Post author

    Many thanks Roger — you are almost certainly right, this army camp was about 30 years before he was born…so someone else wrote the original alphabetic acrostic. There was also a poem in Latin transcribed by him. Like many very serious book collectors he probably wrote comments or annotations in many books when so moved. Most of his books are at King’s– this one got away. Nigel


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