Fragment from a Lay of Modern England
From The Libertarian Labyrinth
Fragment From A Lay Of Modern England.
(Picked up somewhere between Downing Street and Khartoum.)
- But the statesman's brow was dark,
- And fear was in his eye,
- For he saw the wild storm rising
- Across his summer sky.
- "The Mahdi, he will water
- His steeds at Cairo's gate;—
- No Caucus, and no Chamberlain,
- Can save us from our fate!"
- Then out spoke gallant Gordon,—
- All fearless was his speech,—
- "What could a man ask better,
- Than to stand in the fiery breach;
- To go at England's bidding
- And rend the sordid chain,
- That binds the desert peoples,
- For the sake of a Pasha's gain;
- To build up out of ruin
- Order and peace once more;
- To burn the thongs for scourging,
- To break the prison door?"
- Alone stood our brave hero,
- But constant still in mind,
- In front, foes thick as desert sand,
- And sneaking friends behind.
- "Now curse it," quoth Lord Hartington,<ref>Lord Hartington, then Secretary of State for War, wag responsible for the treasures taken for the relief cf General Gordon.</ref>
- "Blood-guiltiness I fear;
- The sun beats strong, the way is long,
- And English gold is dear!"
- "Aye ! curse it," quoth smooth Granville,
- "Yet will I speak him fair;
- "And show in my despatches
- "A Minister's wise care,
- "To save him from the bad Zebehr,
- "And from the Mahdi too;
- "And praise him, while we leave him
- "To sink with all his crew!"
- "Aye! curse it," quoth Spectator,
- "Why raise a hand to save
- "The friends he's gathered round him;
- "Let each man dig his grave,
- "Or join the coming Mahdi,
- "Or take himself to flight;
- "We'll rally round the Government,
- "And have a faction fight."
- Round turned he as not deigning,
- Those craven ranks to see,
- Nought spake he to Lord Hartington,
- To Granville nought spake he;
- But he turned to the English people
- And spoke to the English heart,
- That ever has throbbed the higher
- When called to choose its part.
- "I came here at your bidding,
- "I came to try and save;
- "I spoke of that far England,
- "Away beyond the wave,
- "Whose hand could reach the helpless,
- "Whose shield could bar the way,
- "And would not leave to perish
- "One life, that owned her sway.
- "And now, forsooth, I'm bidden
- "To save myself in flight."
Pall Mall Gazette. May, 1884.
Source: Parodies of the Works of English & American Authors.