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SIR FRANCIS HASTINGS DOYLE

1810-1888

722                                    The Private of the Buffs

LAST night, among his fellow roughs,
    He jested, quaffd, and swore;
A drunken private of the Buffs,
    Who never lookd before.
To-day, beneath the foemans frown,
    He stands in Elgins place,
Ambassador from Britains crown
    And type of all her race.
Poor, reckless, rude, low-born, untaught,
    Bewilderd, and alone,
A heart with English instinct fraught
    He yet can call his own.
Aye, tear his body limb from limb,
    Bring cord, or axe, or flame:
He only knows, that not through him
    Shall England come to shame.
Far Kentish hop-fields round him seemd,
     Like dreams, to come and go;
Bright leagues of cherry-blossom gleamd,
     One sheet of living snow;
The smoke above his fathers door
     In grey soft eddyings hung:
Must he then watch it rise no more,
     Doomd by himself, so young?
Yes, honour calls!with strength like steel
     He put the vision by.
Let dusky Indians whine and kneel;
     An English lad must die.
And thus, with eyes that would not shrink,
     With knee to man unbent,
Unfaltering on its dreadful brink,
     To his red grave he went.

Vain, mightiest fleets of iron framed;
     Vain, those all-shattering guns;
Unless proud England keep, untamed,
     The strong heart of her sons.
So, let his name through Europe ring
     A man of mean estate,
Who died, as firm as Spartas king,
     Because his soul was great.

 

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