Punch,  47 (1864), 238.

'Ape or Angel?'



Poetry, Drollery


Evolution, Human Development, Animal Behaviour, Religion, Supernaturalism, Politics, Religious Authority, Controversy, Universities

    Begins with an extract from Benjamin Disraeli's recent speech at the University of Oxford, in which he claimed that in answer to the pressing question of whether man is an 'ape or an angel', he was 'on the side of the angels'. The poem opens by noting 'How happy the angels should be' that he has joined them, and how busy their 'mission' will be now that they have recruited one with 'brain big with schemes' and 'tongue glib of phrase'. Thinks Disraeli will now raise a 'dagger' at the 'Broad Church' and 'Reviewers and Essayists' (a reference to Temple 1860) with 'Wit's edge with Hate's poison annoiting'. Lists Disraeli's range of talents, but warns that 'scarce the best mimes can from Nature escape' and that Disraeli might therefore be 'most of the Ape, / When bent on enacting the Angel'.

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