A mighty chief has fallen;
Mourn for the mighty dead,
For him whose sacred head
Has bowed to fate,
And passed “the Gate
And Flood,” by mighty heroes swollen.
Yet mourn with quiet joy,
And let the wide world see,
To mighty mournful England, he
Is still her pride,
Though death’s dark tide
Has swept his living honours by.
All hail thou might chief!
Let nations cry, all hail!
While Britain’s isle do wail,
The hero gone,
Great Palmerston;
And weeping bend beneath their grief.
“Peace hath her victories,”
No less than cruel war;
And in that shining car
He stately drove
Like peaceful Jove,
And stop’d the mourner’s tears and cries.
With years and honours crowned,
He saw new nations rise,
While England’s enemies;
All foreign foes,
As they arose,
And sunk, in gulph of Time profound.
All to him honours pay,
Who half a hundred years,
Midst moving hopes and fears,
The balance held,
War’s passions quelled,
And drove that hated fiend away.
Now, peace hath dawned at last,
While at the helm of state,
Where he all grandly sate,
And did preside,
His country’s pride,
Until his latest breath was past.
But now he’s of the past,
Joined with the mighty dead,
Whose valiant souls have fled
“Beyond the bourne
Whence none return;”
Yet future years
Shall owe him theirs,
And to his tomb shall pilgrims haste.
And votive offerings bring,
Who, as they mourning pay
Him honours due, shall say
“Temple” in name,
His lasting fame
Shall need no fane, no storied pane,
His country shall his anthems sing.
His native land he loved,
Which spoiling breath does feel,
He proudly held
Her honour still,
Above his will,
O’er private fame, or wealth and name,
His country was supreme, beloved.
Let not his loved wife weep,
But, like Cornelius, come
To his all honoured tomb,
And grandly bow,
While resting near
His sacred bier,
And meekly show
“Her gems” where he doth calmly sleep.
Of Melbourne’s honoured race,
A noble daughter she;
While in her face we see,
Reflected still,
That valiant will,
Her sire did deem her highest grace;
While he, now gone,
Lov’d Palmerston,
Lived in her smiles, which did his cares efface.
October 18th 1865.

Title:Dirge on Lord Palmerston

Author:W. Quarmby

Publication:Ashton and Stalybridge Reporter

Published in:Ashton-under-Lyne

Date:Oct 21 1865

Keywords:elegy, politics


This poem is an elegy to Lord Palmerston, the last British prime minister to die in office. Dying at the age of eighty in 1865, Palmerston held many of the top roles in government over fifty years in politics, and was seen as a stabilising force through many difficult times. Here the poem celebrates his life and career, with a seeming pun in the line ‘Now peace hath dawned at last’ (l. 37), referring both to the end of the statesman’s battle with illness and the end of the American Civil War. Palmerston’s government maintained an uneasy neutrality during the American conflict which wavered towards both sides at different times, but despite criticism many felt that it was at least consistent. – SR