Fragment from a Lay of Modern England

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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."


Auberon Herbert.

Pall Mall Gazette. May, 1884.

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Source: Parodies of the Works of English & American Authors.