He is down, and for ever! The good fight is ended,
In deep-dinted harness our Champion has died,
But tears should be few in a sunset so splendid,
And grief hush her wail at the bidding of pride.
He falls, but unvanquished. He falls in his glory,
A noble old king on the last ofhis field;
And with death-song we come, like the Northman of story,
And haughtily bear him away on our shields.
Nor yet are we mourners. Let proud words be spoke
By those who stand, pale, on the marge of his grave,
As we lay in the rest never more to be broken
The noble, the gentle, the wise and the brave.
His courage undaunted, his purpose unaltered,
His long patient labour, his exquisite skill,
The tones of command from a tongue that ne’er faltered
When bidding the nations to list to her will:
Let these be remembered; but higher and better
The tribute that tells how he dealt with his trust,
Is curbing the tyrant, in breaking the fetter,
Lay the pleasure of him we commit to the dust.
But his heart was his England, his idol her honour,
Her friend was his friend, and his foe was her foe,
Were her mandate despised, or a scrowl cast upon her,
How stern his rebuke, or how vengeful his blow!
Her armies were sad, and her banners were tattered,
And lethargy wrought on her strength like a spell.
He came to the front, the enchantment was scattered –
The rest let a reconciled enemy tell.
As true to our welfare, he did his own mission
When Progress approached him with Wisdom for guide;
He cleared her a path, and with equal derision
Bade quack and fanatic alike stand aside.
The choice of his country, low faction despising,
He marched as a leader all true men could claim:
They came to their fellows, and held it suffering
To give, as a creed, the great Minister’s name.
So, heir to traditions of him, long department,
“Who called the new world up to balance the old.”
We lay there in earth, - gallant natured, true-hearted!
Break, herald, thy wand[?], for his honours are told.
No, let Pride say her story and cease, for Affection
Stands near with a wealth of wild tears in her eyes,
And claims to be heard with more soft recollection
Of one who was ever as kindly as wise.
We trusted his wisdom, but love drew us nearer
Than homage we owed to his statesmanly art,
For never was statesman to Englishmen dearer
Than he who had faith in the great English heart.
The frank merry laugh, and honest eye filling
With mirth, and the jests that so rapidly tell,
Told out the state-secret that made us right willing
To follow his leading – he loved us all well.
Our brave English chief! - lay him down for the sleeping
That nought may disturb till the trumpet of doom:
Honour claims the proud vigil – but Love will come weeping
And hang many garlands on Palmerston’s tomb!
Title:Palmerston (from Punch)
Date:October 26th 1865
This affectionate Punch elegy to the Lord Palmerston (‘Old Pam’), the last British prime minister to die in office, gives an indication of the esteem in which he was held. Although he was not universally popular, he was seen as a steady hand, and he gained general praise for his leadership through the difficult years of the early 1860s when Britain negotiated its neutral stance in relation to the American Civil War. – SR