I’m pretty sure that the Americans were among the most dedicated of the Ouidaites, but it appears that there were contenders among the Australian fans as well. I found this poem in a December 2, 1907 issue of The Lone Hand, and I instantly fell in love with it. Founded by Jules François Archibald and Frank Fox, The Lone Hand was an Australian literary magazine which ran from 1907 to 1928. It is in the second volume of the 1907 issue where we find this delightful little poem dedicated to Ouida and her work. Timely, it was released just a little over a month before her death in January of 1908. The poem was submitted by an individual who identified his or herself simply with the initials “N.E.T.” Sadly, I wasn't unable to track down the name of this contributor. In the poem, readers mature along with Ouida’s corpus as they read through each stanza. The sequence allows readers to reminisce about the pleasant times they’ve had in experiencing Ouida’s wonderful novels. Without further delay, I would like to present the poem in full:
Italian? French?—what, whence, or who
Was she our boyhood loved as Ouida?
We did not know, we only knew
Our parents wouldn't let us read her:
But—be the schoolboy slip condoned --
We quite forgot our filial duty,
And dreamt that “Forest King” we owned,
And rode him better e'en than “Beauty.”
And schoolgirls,—did the schoolgirls eat
Of Ouida's knowledge-tree forbidden?
And did they find those stories “sweet”
That sometimes were so swiftly hidden?
I think they did, -it's on the cards
They closed at last those scarlet covers
To know that lordlings in the Guards
Were much the nicest sort of lovers.
This for our youngest: when we grew
To thirty and (alas!) to forty,
We did not think it all quite true,
We knew that some of it was naughty:
We sought Experience's sieve,
And when that trying test was shaken,
We found that from each narrative
A certain discount must be taken.
Yet Ouida gained: for if our length
Of birthdays made us smile more often,
We now could see the signs of strength,
And how this stung, and that could soften.
And if her “plungers” seemed a bore,
And we grew tired of “fizz” and pheasants,
Of Zu-Zu, Bertie, and Strathmore,
We liked her poets and her peasants.
We liked her old Italian streets,
We liked her old French country places,
They seemed much better than her “Meets,”
And even than her Steeplechases;
And when with “swells” no more surprise
Might she our minds sophisticated,
She still could make us sympathise
With people, and with beasts ill-fated.
The British Matron (so she said)
Was not by her romances smitten,
And may have thought them bound in red
Because they blushed for being written.
And yet the thing was Art, and writ
With poetry's imagination,
But that was probably why it
Aroused the B.M.'s indignation.
Meanwhile let orchards in the Spring,
And old-world gardens old-world flowered,
Let all who paint or carve or sing
In silent woods or towns grey-towered,--
Let such recall and praise the pen
That traced an Art-world tenderer, truer
Than most of ours, so well that men
Must give the Genius-garland to her.
Citation: “Ouida.” The Lone Hand, vol. 2, 2 Dec. 1907, p. 228.