Arthur Conan Doyle
Songs of the road

A Hymn of Empire
Sir Nigel's Song
The Arab Steed
A Post-Impressionist
Empire Builders
The Groom's Encore
The Bay Horse
The Outcasts
The end
The Wanderer
Bendy's Sermon
The Banner of Progress
Religio Medici
Man's Limitation
Mind and Matter
A Woman's Love
By the North Sea
December's Snow
Shakespeare's Expostulation
The Empire
A Voyage
The Orphanage
Sexagenarius Loquitur
Night Voices
The Message
The Echo
Advice to a Young Author
The Farewell
" Now then, Smith ! "
To my Lady
A Reminiscence of Cricket

  A Hymn of Empire

   (Coronation Year, 1911)

GOD save England, blessed by Fate,
  So old, yet ever young :
The acorn isle from which the great
  Imperial oak has sprung !
And God guard Scotland's kindly soil,
  The land of stream and glen,
The granite mother that has bred
  A breed of granite men !

God save Wales, from Snowdon's vales
  To Severn's silver strand !
For all the grace of that old race
  Still haunts the Celtic land.
And, dear old Ireland, God save you,
  And heal the wounds of old,
For every grief you ever knew
  May joy come fifty-fold !

    Set Thy guard over us,
    May Thy shield cover us,
    Enfold and uphold us
      On land and on sea !

    From the palm to the pine,
    From the snow to the line,
      Brothers together
      And children of Thee.

Thy blessing, Lord, on Canada,
  Young giant of the West,
Still upward lay her broadening way,
  And may her feet be blessed !
And Africa, whose hero breeds
  Are blending into one,
Grant that she tread the path which leads
  To holy unison.

May God protect Australia
  Set in her Southern Sea !
Though far thou art, it cannot part
  Thy brother folks from thee.
And you, the Land of Maori,
  The island-sisters fair,
Ocean hemmed and lake be-gemmed,
  God hold you in His care !

    Set Thy guard over us,
    May Thy shield cover us,
    Enfold and uphold us
      On land and on sea !
    From the palm to the pine,
    From the snow to the line,
      Brothers together
      And children of Thee.

God guard our Indian brothers,
  The Children of the Sun,
Guide us and walk beside us
  Until Thy will be done.
To all be equal measure
  Whate'er his blood or birth,
Till we shall build as Thou hast willed
  O'er all Thy fruitful Earth.

May we maintain the story
  Of honest, fearless right!
Not ours, not ours the Glory !
  What are we in Thy sight ?
Thy servants, and no other,
  Thy servants may we be,
To help our weaker brother
  As we crave for help from Thee !

    Set Thy guard over us,
    May Thy shield cover us,
    Enfold and uphold us
      On land and on sea !
    From the palm to the pine,
    From the snow to the line,
      Brothers together
      And children of Thee.

    Sir Nigel's Song

A SWORD ! A sword ! Ah, give me a sword !
  For the world is all to win.
Though the way be hard and the door be barred
  The strong man enters in.
If Chance or Fate still hold the gate
  Give me the iron key,
And turret high, my plume shall fly
  Or you may weep for me !

A horse! A horse ! Ah, give me a horse
  To bear me out afar,
Where blackest need and grimmest deed,
  And sweetest perils are.
Hold thou my ways from glutted days,
  Where poisoned leisure lies,
And point the path of tears and wrath
  Which mounts to high emprise.

A heart! A heart! Ah, give me a heart,
  To rise to circumstance !
Serene and high, and bold to try
  The hazard of a chance.
With strength to wait, but fixed as fate
  To plan and dare and do ;
The peer of all―and only thrall,
  Sweet lady mine, to you !

   The Arab Steed

I GAVE the 'orse 'is evenin' feed,
  And bedded of 'im down,
And went to 'ear the sing-song
  In the bar-room of the Crown,
And one young feller spoke a piece
  As told a kind of tale
About an Arab man wot 'ad
A certain 'orse for sale.

I 'ave no grudge against the man―
  I never 'eard 'is name,
But if he was my closest pal
  I'd say the very same,
For wot you do in other things
  Is neither 'ere nor there,
But w'en it comes to 'orses
  You must keep upon the square.

Now I'm tellin' you the story
  Just as it was told last night,
And if I wrong this Arab man
  Then 'e can set me right;
But s'posin' all these fac's are fac's,
  Then I make bold to say
That I think it was not sportsmanlike
  To act in sich a way.

For, as I understand the thing,
  'E went to sell this steed―
Which is a name they give a 'orse
  Of some outlandish breed―
And soon 'e found a customer,
  A proper sportin' gent
Who planked 'is money down at once
  Without no argument.

Now when the deal was finished
  And the money paid, you'd think
This Arab would 'ave asked the gent
  At once to name 'is drink,
Or at least 'ave thanked 'im kindly,
  An' wished 'im a good day,
And own as 'e'd been treated
  In a very 'andsome way.

But instead o' this 'e started
  A-talkin' to the steed,
And speakin' of its " braided mane "
  An' of its " winged speed,"
And other sich expressions
  With which I can't agree,
For a 'orse with wings an' braids an' things
  Is not the 'orse for me.

The moment that 'e 'ad the cash―
  Or wot 'e called the gold,
'E turned as nasty as could be.
  Says 'e, " You're sold ! You're sold ! "

Them was 'is words ; it's not for me
  To settle wot 'e meant;
It may 'ave been the 'orse was sold,
  It may 'ave been the gent.

I've not a word to say agin
  His fondness for 'is 'orse,
But why should 'e insinivate
  The gent would treat 'im worse ?
An' why should 'e go talkin'
  In that aggravatin' way,
As if the gent would gallop 'im
  And wallop 'im all day ?

It may 'ave been an 'arness 'orse,
  It may 'ave been an 'ack,
But a bargain is a bargain
  An' there ain't no goin' back ;
For when you've picked the money up,
  That finishes the deal,
And after that your mouth is shut,
  Wotever you may feel.

Supposin' this 'ere Arab man
  'Ad wanted to be free,
'E could 'ave done it businesslike,
  The same as you or me ;
A fiver might 'ave squared the gent,
  An' then 'e could 'ave claimed
As 'e'd cleared 'imself quite 'andsome,
  And no call to be ashamed.

But instead o' that this Arab man
  Went on from bad to worse,
An' took an' chucked the money
  At the cove wot bought the 'orse ;
'E'd 'ave learned 'im better manners
  If 'e'd waited there a bit,
But 'e scooted on 'is bloomin' steed
  As 'ard as 'e could split.

Per'aps 'e sold 'im after
  Or per'aps 'e 'ires 'im out,
But I'd like to warm that Arab man
  W'en next 'e comes about;
For wot 'e does in other things
  Is neither 'ere nor there,
But w'en it comes to 'orses
  We must keep 'im on the square.

    A Post-Impressionist

  In his small atelier
Studied Continental Schools,
Drew by Academic rules.
So he made his bid for fame
But no golden answer came,
For the fashion of his day
Chanced to set the other way,
And decadent forms of Art
Drew the patrons of the mart.

Now this poor reward of merit
Rankled so in Peter's spirit,
It was more than he could bear ;
So one night in mad despair
He took his canvas for the year,
(" Isle of Wight from Southsea Pier ")
And he hurled it from his sight,
Hurled it blindly to the night,
Saw it fall diminuendo
From the open lattice window,
Till it landed with a flop
On the dust-bin's ashen top,
Where, 'mid damp and rain and grime,
It remained till morning time.

Then when morning brought reflection
He was shamed at his dejection,
And he thought with consternation
Of his poor ill-used creation ;
Down he rushed, and found it there
Lying all exposed and bare,
Mud-bespattered, spoiled and botched,
Water sodden, fungus-blotched,
All the outlines blurred and wavy,
All the colours turned to gravy,
Fluids of a dappled hue,
Blues on red and reds on blue,
A pea-green mother with her daughter,
Crazy boats on crazy water
Steering out to who knows what,
An island or a lobster-pot ?

Oh, the wretched man's despair !
Was it lost beyond repair ?
Swift he bore it from below,
Hastened to the studio,
Where with anxious eyes he studied
If the ruin, blotched and muddied,
Could by any human skill
Be made a normal picture still.
Thus in most repentant mood
Unhappy Peter Wilson stood,
When, with pompous face, self-centred,
Willoughby the critic entered―
He of whom it has been said
He lives a century ahead―

And sees with his prophetic eye
The forms which Time will justify,
A fact which surely must abate
All longing to reincarnate.

" Ah, Wilson," said the famous man,
Turning himself the walls to scan,
" The same old style of thing I trace,
Workmanlike but commonplace.
Believe me, sir, the work that lives
Must furnish more than Nature gives. "
The light that never was," you know,
That is your mark―but here, hullo !
What's this ? What's this ? Magnificent!
I've wronged you, Wilson ! I repent!
A masterpiece ! A perfect thing !
What atmosphere ! What colouring !
Spanish Armada, is it not ?
A view of Ryde, no matter what,
I pledge my critical renown
That this will be the talk of Town.
Where did you get those daring hues,
Those blues on reds, those reds on blues ?
That pea-green face, that gamboge sky ?
You've far outcried the latest cry―
Out Monet-ed Monet. I have said
Our Art was sleeping, but not dead.
Long have we waited for the Star,
I watched the skies for it afar,
The hour has come―and here you are."

And that is how our artist friend
Found his struggles at an end,
And from his little Chelsea fiat
Became the Park Lane plutocrat.
'Neath his sheltered garden wall
When the rain begins to fall,
And the stormy winds do blow,
You may see them in a row,
Red effects and lake and yellow
Getting nicely blurred and mellow,
With the subtle gauzy mist
Of the great Impressionist.
Ask him how he chanced to find
How to leave the French behind,
And he answers quick and smart,
" English climate's best for Art."

    Empire Builders

  With his banjo and retriever.
" Rough, I know, on poor old Flo,
  But, by Jove ! I couldn't leave her."
Niger ribbon on his breast,
  In his blood the Niger fever,
Captain Temple, D.S.O.,
  With his banjo and retriever.

Cox of the Politicals,
  With his cigarette and glasses,
Skilled in Pushtoo gutturals,
  Odd job man among the Passes,
Keeper of the Zakka Khels,
  Tutor of the Khaiber Ghazis,
Cox of the Politicals,
  With his cigarette and glasses.

Mr. Hawkins, Junior Sub.,
  Late of Woolwich and Thames Ditton,
Thinks his battery the hub
  Of the whole wide orb of Britain.
Half a hero, half a cub,
  Lithe and playful as a kitten,
Mr. Hawkins, Junior Sub.,
  Late of Woolwich and Thames Ditton.

Eighty Tommies, big and small,
  Grumbling hard as is their habit.
" Say, mate, what's a Bunerwal ? "
  " Somethin' like a bloomin' rabbit."
" Got to hoof it to Chitral! "
  " Blarst ye, did ye think to cab it! "
Eighty Tommies, big and small,
  Grumbling hard as is their habit.

Swarthy Goorkhas, short and stout,
  Merry children, laughing, crowing,
Don't know what it's all about,
  Don't know any use in knowing ;
Only know they mean to go
  Where the Sirkar thinks of going.
Little Goorkhas, brown and stout,
  Merry children, laughing, crowing.

Punjaub Rifles, fit and trim,
  Curly whiskered sons of battle,
Very dignified and prim
  Till they hear the Jezails rattle ;
Cattle thieves of yesterday,
  Now the wardens of the cattle,
Fighting Brahmins of Lahore,
  Curly whiskered sons of battle.

Up the winding mountain path
  See the long-drawn column go ;
Himalayan aftermath
  Lying rosy on the snow.
Motley ministers of wrath
  Building better than they know,
In the rosy aftermath
  Trailing upward to the snow.

      The Groom's Encore

NOT tired of 'earin' stories ! You're a nailer, so
  you are !
I thought I should 'ave choked you off with that 'ere
Well, mister, 'ere's another; and, mind you, it's a
Though you'll think perhaps I copped it out o' some blue
  ribbon tract.

It was in the days when farmer men were jolly-faced
   and stout,
For all the cash was comin' in, and little goin' out,
But now, you see, the farmer men are 'ungry-faced and
For all the cash is goin' out and little comin' in.

But in the days I'm speakin' of, before the drop in wheat,
The life them farmers led was such as couldn't well be
   beat ;
They went the pace amazin', they 'unted and they
And this 'ere Jeremiah Brown the liveliest of the lot.

'E was a fine young fellar; the best roun' 'ere by
But just a bit full-blooded, as fine young fellars are;
Which I know they didn't ought to, an' it's very wrong
   of course,
But the colt wot never capers makes a mighty useless

The lad was never vicious, but 'e made the money go,
For 'e was ready with 'is " yes," and backward with 'is
   " no,"
And so 'e turned to drink which is the avenoo to 'ell,
An' 'ow 'e came to stop 'imself is wot I 'ave to tell.

Four days on end 'e never knew 'ow 'e 'ad got to
Until one mornin' fifty clocks was tickin' in 'is 'ead,
And on the same the doctor came, " You're very near
If you don't stop yourself, young chap, you'll pay the
  price," said 'e.

" It takes the form of visions, as I fear you'll quickly
  know ;
Perhaps a string o' monkeys, all a-sittin' in a row,
Perhaps it's frogs or beetles, perhaps it's rats or
There are many sorts of visions and there's none of 'em
  is nice."

But Brown 'e started laughin', " No doctor's muck,"
  says 'e,
" A take-'em-break-'em gallop is the only cure for me!
They 'unt to-day down 'Orsham way. Bring round the
  sorrel mare,
If them monkeys come inquirin' you can send 'em on
  down there."

Well, Jeremiah rode to 'ounds, exactly as 'e said,
But all the time the doctor's words were ringin' in 'is 'ead,
" If you don't stop yourself, young chap, you've got
  to pay the price,
There are many sorts of visions but none of 'em is nice."

They found that day at Leonards Lee and ran to Shipley
'Ell-for-leather all the way, with scent and weather
Never a check to 'Orton Beck and on across the Weald,
And all the way the Sussex clay was weedin' out the

There's not a man among them could remember such
   a run,
Straight as a rule to Bramber Pool and on by Annington,
They followed still past Breeding 'ill and on by Steyning
Until they'd cleared the 'edges and were out upon the

Full thirty mile from Plimmers Style, without a check or
Full thirty mile the 'ounds 'ad run and never called
   a 'alt,
One by one the Field was done until at Findon Down,
There was no one with the 'untsman save young Jeremiah

And then the 'untsman 'e was beat. 'Is 'orse 'ad tripped
   and fell.
" By George," said Brown, " I'll go alone, and follow it
The place that it belongs to." And as 'e made the
There broke from right in front of 'im the queerest kind
   of row.

There lay a copse of 'azels on the border of the track,
And into this two 'ounds 'ad run―them two was all
   the pack―
And now from these 'ere 'azels there came a fearsome
With a yappin' and a snappin' and a wicked snarlin'

Jeremiah's blood ran cold―a frightened man was 'e,
But he butted through the bushes just to see what 'e
   could see,
And there beneath their shadow, blood drippin' from
   his jaws,
Was an awful creature standin' with a 'ound beneath its

A fox ? Five foxes rolled in one―a pony's weight and
A rampin', ragin' devil, all fangs and 'air and eyes;
Too scared to speak, with shriek on shriek,
   Brown galloped from the sight
With just one thought within 'is mind, " The doctor
   told me right."

That evenin' late the minister was seated in his study,
When in there rushed a 'untin' man, all travel-stained
   and muddy,
" Give me the Testament! " he cried. " And 'ear my
   sacred vow,
That not one drop of drink shall ever pass my lips from

'E swore it and 'e kept it and 'e keeps it to this day,
'E 'as turned from gin to ginger and says 'e finds it
You can search the whole o' Sussex from 'ere to Brighton
And you wouldn't find a better man than Jeremiah

And the vision―it was just a wolf, a big Siberian,
A great fierce 'ungry devil from a showman's caravan,
But it saved 'im from perdition―and I don't mind if
   I do,
I 'aven't seen no wolf myself―so 'ere's my best to you !

  The Bay Horse

SQUIRE wants the bay horse,
  For it is the best.
Squire holds the mortgage ;
  Where's the interest ?
Haven't got the interest,
  Can't raise a sou ;
Shan't sell the bay horse,
  Whatever he may do.

Did you see the bay horse ?
  Such a one to go !
He took a bit of ridin'
 When I showed him at the Show.
First prize the broad jump,
  First prize the high,
Gold medal, Class A,
  You'll see it by-and-by.

I bred the bay horse
  On the Withy Farm.
I broke the bay horse,
  He broke my arm.
Don't blame the bay horse,
  Blame the brittle bone,
I bred him and I've fed him,
  And he's all my very own.

Just watch the bay horse
  Chock full of sense !
Ain't he just beautiful,
 Risin' to a fence !
Just hear the bay horse
  Whinin' in his stall,
Purrin' like a pussy cat
  When he hears me call.

But if Squire's lawyer
  Serves me with his writ,
I'll take the bay horse
  To Marley gravel pit.
Over the quarry edge,
  I'll sit him tight,
If he wants the brown hide,
  He's welcome to the white !

      The Outcasts

THREE women stood by the river's flood
  In the gas-lamp's murky light,
A devil watched them on the left,
  And an angel on the right.

The clouds of lead flowed overhead ;
  The leaden stream below ;
They marvelled much, that outcast three,
  Why Fate should use them so.

Said one : " I have a mother dear,
  Who lieth ill abed,
And by my sin the wage I win
  From which she hath her bread."

Said one : " I am an outcast's child,
  And such I came on earth.
If me ye blame, for this my shame,
  Whom blame ye for my birth ? "

The third she sank a sin-blotched face
  And prayed that she might rest,
In the weary flow of the stream below,
  As on her mother's breast.

Now past there came a godly man,
  Of goodly stock and blood,
And as he passed one frown he cast
  At that sad sisterhood.

Sorely it grieved that godly man,
  To see so foul a sight,
He turned his face, and strode apace,
  And left them to the night.

But the angel drew her sisters three,
  Within her pinions' span,
And the crouching devil slunk away
  To join the godly man.

      The End

"TELL me what to get and I will get it."
  " Then get that picture―that―the girl in white."
" Now tell me where you wish that I should set it."
  " Lean it where I can see it―in the light."

" If there is more, sir, you have but to say it."
  " Then bring those letters―those which lie apart."
" Here is the packet! Tell me where to lay it."
  " Stoop over, nurse, and lay it on my heart.

" Thanks for your silence, nurse ! You understand me !
  And now I'll try to manage for myself.
But, as you go, I'll trouble you to hand me
  The small blue bottle there upon the shelf.

" And so farewell! I feel that I am keeping
  The sunlight from you ; may your walk be bright!
When you return I may perchance be sleeping,
  So, ere you go, one hand-clasp ... and good night!"


THEY recruited William Evans
  From the ploughtail and the spade;
Ten years' service in the Devons
  Left him smart as they are made.
Thirty or a trifle older,
  Rather over six foot high,
Trim of waist and broad of shoulder,
  Yellow-haired and blue of eye ;

Short of speech and very solid,
  Fixed in purpose as a rock,
Slow, deliberate, and stolid,
  Of the real West-country stock.
He had never been to college,
  Got his teaching in the corps,
You can pick up useful knowledge
  'Twixt Saltash and Singapore.

    .    .    .    .    .

Old Field-Cornet Piet van Celling
  Lived just northward of the Vaal,
And he called his white-washed dwelling,
  Blesbock Farm, Rhenoster Kraal.

In his politics unbending,
  Stern of speech and grim of face,
He pursued the never-ending
  Quarrel with the English race.

Grizzled hair and face of copper,
  Hard as nails from work and sport,
Just the model of a Dopper
  Of the fierce old fighting sort.

With a shaggy bearded quota
  On commando at his order,
He went off with Louis Botha
   Trekking for the British border.

When Natal was first invaded
  He was fighting night and day,
Then he scouted and he raided,
  With De Wet and Delarey.

Till he had a brush with Plumer,
  Got a bullet in his arm,
And returned in sullen humour
  To the shelter of his farm.

Now it happened that the Devons,
  Moving up in that direction,
Sent their Colour-Sergeant Evans
  Foraging with half a section.

By a friendly Dutchman guided,
  A Van Eloff or De Vilier,
They were promptly trapped and hided,
  In a manner too familiar.

When the sudden scrap was ended,
  And they sorted out the bag,
Sergeant Evans lay extended
  Mauseritis in his leg.

So the Kaffirs bore him, cursing,
  From the scene of his disaster,
And they left him to the nursing
  Of the daughters of their master.

Now the second daughter, Sadie―
  But the subject why pursue ?
Wounded youth and tender lady,
  Ancient tale but ever new.

On the stoep they spent the gloaming,
  Watched the shadows on the veldt,
Or she led her cripple roaming
  To the eucalyptus belt.

He would lie and play with Jacko,
  The baboon from Bushman's Kraal,
Smoked Magaliesberg tobacco
  While she lisped to him in Taal.

Till he felt that he had rather
  He had died amid the slaughter,
If the harshness of the father
  Were not softened in the daughter.

So he asked an English question,
  And she answered him in Dutch,
But her smile was a suggestion,
  And he treated it as such.

    .    .    .    .    .

Now among Rhenoster kopjes
  Somewhat northward of the Vaal,
You may see four little chappies,
  Three can walk and one can crawl.

And the blue of Transvaal heavens
  Is reflected in their eyes,
Each a little William Evans,
  Smaller model―pocket size.

Each a little Burgher Piet
  Of the hardy Boer race,
Two great peoples seem to meet
   In the tiny sunburned face.

And they often greatly wonder
   Why old granddad and Papa,
Should have been so far asunder,
   Till united by mamma.

And when asked, " Are you a Boer,
  Or a little Englishman ? "
Each will answer, short and sure,
  " I am a South African."

But the father answers, chaffing,
  " Africans but British too."
And the children echo, laughing,
  " Half of mother―half of you."

It may seem a crude example,
  In an isolated case,
But the story is a sample
  Of the welding of the race.

So from bloodshed and from sorrow,
  From the pains of yesterday,
Comes the nation of to-morrow
  Broadly based and built to stay.

Loyal spirits strong in union,
  Joined by kindred faith and blood,
Brothers in the wide communion
  Of our sea-girt brotherhood.

      The Wanderer1

'TWAS in the shadowy gloaming
  Of a cold and wet March day,
That a wanderer came roaming
  From countries far away.

Scant raiment had he round him,
  Nor purse, nor worldly gear,
Hungry and faint we found him,
  And bade him welcome here.

His weary frame bent double,
  His eyes were old and dim,
His face was writhed with trouble
  Which none might share with him.

His speech was strange and broken,
  And none could understand,
Such words as might be spoken
  In some far distant land.

We guessed not whence he hailed from,
  Nor knew what far-off quay
His roving bark had sailed from
  Before he came to me.

But there he was, so slender,
  So helpless and so pale,
That my wife's heart grew tender
  For one who seemed so frail.

She cried, " But you must bide here !
  You shall no further roam.
Grow stronger by our side here,
  Within our moorland home ! "

She laid her best before him,
  Homely and simple fare,
And to his couch she bore him
  The raiment he should wear.

To mine he had been welcome,
  My suit of russet brown,
But she had dressed our weary guest
  In a loose and easy gown.

And long in peace he lay there,
  Brooding and still and weak,
Smiling from day to day there
  At thoughts he would not speak.

The months flowed on, but ever
  Our guest would still remain,
Nor made the least endeavour
  To leave our home again.

He heeded not for grammar,
  Nor did we care to teach,
But soon he learned to stammer
  Some words of English speech.

With these our guest would tell us
  The things that he liked best,
And order and compel us
  To follow his behest.

He ruled us without malice,
  But as if he owned us all,
A sultan in his palace
  With his servants at his call.

Those calls came fast and faster,
  Our service still we gave,
Till I who had been master
  Had grown to be his slave.

He claimed with grasping gestures
  Each thing of price he saw,
Watches and rings and vestures,
  His will the only law.

In vain had I commanded,
  In vain I struggled still,
Servants and wife were banded
  To do the stranger's will.

And then in deep dejection
  It came to me one day,
That my own wife's affection
  Had been beguiled away.

Our love had known no danger,
  So certain had it been !
And now to think a stranger
  Should dare to step between.

I saw him lie and hearken
  To the little songs she sung,
And when the shadows darken
  I could hear his lisping tongue.

They would sit in chambers shady,
  When the light was growing dim,
Ah, my fickle-hearted lady !
  With your arm embracing him.

So, at last, lest he divide us,
  I would put them to the test.
There was no one there beside us,
  Save this interloping guest.

So I took my stand before them,
  Very silent and erect,
My accusing glance passed o'er them,
  Though with no observed effect.

But thelamp light shone upon her,
  And I saw each tell-tale feature,
As I cried, " Now, on your honour,
  Do or don't you love the creature ? "

But her answer seemed evasive,
  It was " Ducky-doodle-doo !
If his mummy loves um babby,
  Doesn't daddums love um too ? "

1 With acknowledgment to my friend Sir A. Quiller-Couch.

      Bendy's Sermon

 [Bendigo, the well-known Nottingham prize fighter, became
converted to religion and preached at revival meetings through-out
the country.]

YOU didn't know of Bendigo ! Well; that knocks
  me out !
Who's your board school teacher ? What's he been
   about ?
Chock-a-block with fairy-tales―full of useless cram,
And never heard o' Bendigo, the pride of Nottingham !

Bendy's short for Bendigo. You should see him peel !
Half of him was whalebone, half of him was steel,
Fightin' weight eleven ten, five foot nine in height,
Always ready to oblige if you want a fight.

I could talk of Bendigo from here to kingdom come,
I guess before I ended you would wish your dad was
I'd tell you how he fought Ben Caunt, and how the deaf
   'un fell,
But the game is done, and the men are gone―and maybe
   it's as well.

Bendy he turned Methodist―he said he felt a call,
He stumped the country preachin' and you bet he filled
   the hall,
If you seed him in the pulpit, a'bleatin' like a lamb,
You'd never know bold Bendigo, the pride of Nottingham.

His hat was like a funeral, he'd got a waiter's coat,
With a hallelujah collar and a choker round his throat,
His pals would laugh and say in chaff that Bendigo was
In takin' on the devil, since he'd no one else to fight.

But he was very earnest, improvin' day by day,
A-workin' and a-preachin' just as his duty lay,
But the devil he was waitin', and in the final bout
He hit him hard below his guard and knocked poor Bendy out.

Now I'll tell you how it happened. He was preachin'
   down at Brum,
He was billed just like a circus, you should see the people
The chapel it was crowded, and in the foremost row
There was half a dozen bruisers who'd a grudge at

There was Tommy Platt of Bradford, Solly Jones of
   Perry Bar,
Long Connor from the Bull Ring, the same wot drew
   with Carr,
Jack Ball the fightin' gunsmith, Joe Murphy from the
And Iky Moss, the bettin' boss, the Champion of the

A very pretty handful a-sittin' in a string,
Full of beer and impudence, ripe for anything,
Sittin' in a string there, right under Bendy's nose,
If his message was for sinners, he could make a start on

Soon he heard them chaffin' : " Hi, Bendy ! Here's
   a go ! "
" How much are you coppin' by this Jump to Glory
   show ? "
" Stow it, Bendy ! Left the ring ! Mighty spry of
   you !
Didn't everybody know the ring was leavin' you ? "

Bendy fairly sweated as he stood above and prayed, "
Look down, O Lord, and grip me with a strangle hold ! "
   he said.
" Fix me with a strangle hold ! Put a stop on me !
I'm slippin', Lord, I'm slippin' and I'm clingin' hard to
   Thee ! "

But the roughs they kept on chaffin' and the uproar it
   was such
That the preacher in the pulpit might be talkin' double
Till a workin' man he shouted out, a-jumpin' to his
" Give us a lead, your reverence, and heave 'em in the

Then Bendy said, " Good Lord, since first I left my sinful
Thou knowest that to Thee alone I've given up my days,
But now, dear Lord "―and here he laid his Bible on the
" I'll take with your permission, just five minutes for

He vaulted from the pulpit like a tiger from a den,
They say it was a lovely sight to see him floor his men ;
Right and left, and left and right, straight and true and
Till the Ebenezer Chapel looked more like a knacker's

Platt was standin' on his back and lookin' at his toes,
Solly Jones of Perry Bar was feelin' for his nose,
Connor of the Bull Ring had all that he could do
Rakin' for his ivories that lay about the pew.

Jack Ball the fightin' gunsmith was in a peaceful sleep,
Joe Murphy lay across him, all tied up in a heap,
Five of them was twisted in a tangle on the floor,
And Iky Moss, the bettin' boss, had sprinted for the

Five repentant fightin' men, sitting in a row,
Listenin' to words of grace from Mister Bendigo,
Listenin' to his reverence―all as good as gold,
Pretty little baa-lambs, gathered to the fold.

So that's the way that Bendy ran his mission in the
And preached the Holy Gospel to the fightin' men of
" The Lord," said he, " has given me His message from
   on high,
And if you interrupt Him, I will know the reason why."

But to think of all your schoolin', clean wasted, thrown
Darned if I can make out what you're learnin' all the day,
Grubbin' up old fairy-tales, fillin' up with cram,
And didn't know of Bendigo, the pride of Nottingham !


THE grime is on the window pane,
  Pale the London sunbeams fall,
And show the smudge of mildew stain,
  Which lies on the distempered wall.

I am a cripple, as you see,
  And here I lie, a broken thing,
But God has given flight to me,
  That mocks the swiftest eagle wing.

For if I will to see or hear,
  Quick as the thought my spirit flies,
And lo ! the picture flashes clear
  Through all the mist of centuries.

I can recall the Tigris' strand,
  Where once the Turk and Tartar met,
When the great Lord of Samarcand
  Struck down the Sultan Bajazet.

Under a ten-league swirl of dust
  The roaring battle swings and sways,
Now reeling down, now upward thrust,
  The crescent sparkles through the haze.

I see the Janissaries fly,
  I see the chain-mailed leader fall,
I hear the Tekbar clear and high,
  The true believer's battle-call.

And tossing o'er the press I mark
  The horse-tail banner over all,
Shaped like the smudge of mildew dark
  That lies on the distempered wall.

And thus the meanest thing I see
  Will set a scene within my brain,
And every sound that comes to me
  Will bring strange echoes back again.

Hark now ! In rhythmic monotone,
  You hear the murmur of the mart,
The low, deep, unremitting moan
  That comes from weary London's heart.

But I can change it to the hum
  Of multitudinous acclaim,
When triple-walled Byzantium
  Re-echoes the Imperial name.

I hear the beat of armed feet,
  The legions clanking on their way,
The long shout runs from street to street,
  With rolling drum and trumpet bray.

So I hear it rising, falling,
  Till it dies away once more,
And I hear the costers calling
 'Mid the weary London roar.

Who shall pity then the lameness,
  Which still holds me from the ground ?
Who commiserate the sameness
  Of the scene that girds me round ?

Though I lie a broken wreck,
  Though I seem to want for all,
Still the world is at my beck
  And the ages at my call.

The Banner of Progress

THERE'S a banner in our van,
And we follow as we can,
For at times we scarce can see it,
And at times it flutters high.
But however it be flown,
Still we know it as our own,
And we follow, ever follow,
Where we see the banner fly.

In the struggle and the strife,
In the weariness of life,
The banner-man may stumble,
He may falter in the fight.
But if one should fail or slip,
There are other hands to grip,
And it's forward, ever forward,
From the darkness to the light.


FAITH may break on reason,
    Faith may prove a treason
  To that highest gift
  That is granted by Thy grace ;
But Hope ! Ah, let us cherish
Some spark that may not perish,
  Some tiny spark to cheer us,
 As we wander through the waste !

A little lamp beside us,
A little lamp to guide us,
  Where the path is rocky,
  Where the road is steep ;
That when the light falls dimmer,
Still some God-sent glimmer
  May hold us steadfast ever,
  To the track that we should keep.

Hope for the trending of it,
Hope for the ending of it,
Hope for all around us,
  That it ripens in the sun.
Hope for what is waning,
Hope for what is gaining,
Hope for what is waiting
  When the long day is done.

Hope that He, the nameless,
May still be best and blameless,
  Nor ever end His highest
  With the earthworm and the slime.
Hope that o'er the border
There lies a land of order,
With higher law to reconcile
  The lower laws of Time.

Hope that every vexed life
Finds within that next life
  Something that may recompense,
  Something that may cheer.
And that perchance the lowest one
Is truly but the slowest one,
  Quickened by the sorrow
  Which is waiting for him here.

    Religio Medici

GOD'S own best will bide the test,
    And God's own worst will fall;
But, best or worst or last or first,
  He ordereth it all.

For all is good, if understood,
  (Ah, could we understand !)
And right and ill are tools of skill
  Held in His either hand.

The harlot and the anchorite,
  The martyr and the rake,
Deftly He fashions each aright,
  Its vital part to take.

Wisdom He makes to form the fruit
  Where the high blossoms be ;
And Lust to kill the weaker shoot,
  And Drink to trim the tree.

And Holiness that so the bole
  Be solid at the core ;
And Plague and Fever, that the whole
  Be changing evermore.

He strews the microbes in the lung,
  The blood-clot in the brain ;
With test and test He picks the best,
  Then tests them once again.

He tests the body and the mind,
  He rings them o'er and o'er ;
And if they crack, He throws them back,
  And fashions them once more.

He chokes the infant throat with slime,
  He sets the ferment free ;
He builds the tiny tube of lime
  That blocks the artery.

He lets the youthful dreamer store
  Great projects in his brain,
Until He drops the fungus spore
  That smears them out again.

He stores the milk that feeds the babe,
  He dulls the tortured nerve ;
He gives a hundred joys of sense
  Where few or none might serve.

And still He trains the branch of good
  Where the high blossoms be,
And wieldeth still the shears of ill
  To prune and prune His tree.

  Man's Limitation

MAN says that He is jealous,
    Man says that He is wise,
Man says that He is watching
  From His throne beyond the skies.
But perchance the arch above us
  Is one great mirror's span,
And the Figure seen so dimly
  Is a vast reflected man.

If it is love that gave us
  A thousand blossoms bright,
Why should that love not save us
  From poisoned aconite ?
If this man blesses sunshine
  Which sets his fields aglow,
Shall that man curse the tempest
  That lays his harvest low ?

If you may sing His praises
  For health He gave to you,
What of this spine-curved cripple,
  Shall he sing praises too ?
If you may justly thank Him
  For strength in mind and limb,
Then what of yonder weakling―
  Must he give thanks to Him ?

Ah dark, too dark, the riddle !
  The tiny brain too small!
We call and fondly listen
  For answer to that call.
There comes no word to tell us
  Why this and that should be,
Why you should live with sorrow,
  And joy should live with me.

   Mind and Matter

GREAT was his soul and high his aim,
  He viewed the world, and he could trace
A lofty plan to leave his name
Immortal 'mid the human race.
But as he planned, and as he worked,
The fungus spore within him lurked.

Though dark the present and the past,
The future seemed a sunlit thing.
Still ever deeper and more vast,
The changes that he hoped to bring.
His was the will to dare and do ;
But still the stealthy fungus grew.

Alas the plans that came to nought!
Alas the soul that thrilled in vain !
The sunlit future that he sought
Was but a mirage of the brain.
Where now the wit ?
Where now the will ?
The fungus is the master still.


A GENTLEMAN of wit and charm,
    A kindly heart, a cleanly mind,
One who was quick with hand or purse
  To lift the burden of his kind.
A brain well balanced and mature,
  A soul that shrank from all things base,
So rode he forth that winter day,
  Complete in every mortal grace.

And then―the blunder of a horse,
  The crash upon the frozen clods,
And―Death ? Ah ! no such dignity,
  But Life, all twisted and at odds !
At odds in body and in soul,
  Degraded to some brutish state,
A being loathsome and malign,
  Debased, obscene, degenerate.

Pathology ? The case is clear,
  The diagnosis is exact;
A bone depressed, a haemorrhage,
  The pressure on a nervous tract.
Theology ? Ah, there's the rub !
  Since brain and soul together fade,
Then when the brain is dead―enough !
  Lord help us, for we need Thine aid !

   A Woman's Love

I AM not blind―I understand ;
  I see him loyal, good and wise,
I feel decision in his hand,
  I read his honour in his eyes.
Manliest among men is he
  With every gift and grace to clothe him ;
He never loved a girl but me―
  And I―I loathe him !―loathe him !

The other ! Ah ! I value him
  Precisely at his proper rate,
A creature of caprice and whim,
  Unstable, weak, importunate.
His thoughts are set on paltry gain―
  You only tell me what I see―
I know him selfish, cold and vain ;
  But, oh ! he's all the world to me !

   By the North Sea

HER cheek was wet with North Sea spray,
  We walked where tide and shingle meet,
The long waves rolled from far away
  To purr in ripples at our feet.
And as we walked it seemed to me
  That three old friends had met that day,
The old, old sky, the old, old sea,
  And love, which is as old as they.

Out seaward hung the brooding mist,
  We saw it rolling, fold on fold,
And marked the great Sun alchemist
  Turn all its leaden edge to gold.
Look well, look well, oh lady mine,
  The grey below, the gold above,
For so the greyest life may shine
  All golden in the light of love.

    December's Snow

THE bloom is on the may once more,
  The chestnut buds have burst anew ;
But, darling, all our springs are o'er,
  'Tis winter still for me and you.
We plucked Life's blossoms long ago,
What's left is but December's snow.

But winter has its joys as fair,
  The gentler joys, aloof, apart;
The snow may lie upon our hair
  But never, darling, in our heart.
Sweet were the springs of long ago
But sweeter still December's snow.

Yes, long ago, and yet to me
  It seems a thing of yesterday,
The shade beneath the willow tree,
  The word you looked but feared to say.
Ah ! when I learned to love you so
What recked we of December's snow ?

But swift the ruthless seasons sped
  And swifter still they speed away ;
What though they bow the dainty head
  And fleck the raven hair with grey ?
The boy and girl of long ago
Are laughing through the veil of snow.

  Shakespeare's Expostulation

MASTERS, I sleep not quiet in my grave,
    There where they laid me, by the Avon shore,
In that some crazy wights have set it forth
By arguments most false and fanciful,
Analogy and far-drawn inference,
That Francis Bacon, Earl of Verulam
(A man whom I remember in old days,
A learned judge with sly adhesive palms,
To which the suitor's gold was wont to stick)―
That this same Verulam had writ the plays
Which were the fancies of my frolic brain.
What can they urge to dispossess the crown
Which all my comrades and the whole loud world
Did in my lifetime lay upon my brow ?
Look straitly at these arguments and see
How witless and how fondly slight they be.
  Imprimis, they have urged that, being born
In the mean compass of a paltry town,
I could not in my youth have trimmed my mind
To such an eagle pitch, but must be found,
Like the hedge sparrow, somewhere near the ground.
  Bethink you, sirs, that though I was denied
The learning which in colleges is found,
Yet may a hungry brain still find its food

Wherever books may lie or men may be;
And though perchance by Isis or by Cam
The meditative, philosophic plant
May best luxuriate ; yet some would say
That in the task of limning mortal life
A fitter preparation might be made
Besides the banks of Thames. And then again,
If I be suspect, in that I was not
A fellow of a college, how, I pray,
Will Jonson pass, or Marlowe, or the rest,
Whose measured verse treads with as proud a gait
As that which was my own ? Whence did they suck
This honey that they stored ? Can you recite
The vantages which each of these has had
And I had not ? Or is the argument
That my Lord Verulam hath written all,
And covers in his wide-embracing self
The stolen fame of twenty smaller men ?
  You prate about my learning. I would urge
My want of learning rather as a proof
That I am still myself. Have I not traced
A seaboard to Bohemia, and made
The cannons roar a whole wide century
Before the first was forged ? Think you, then,
That he, the ever-learned Verulam,
Would have erred thus ? So may my very faults
In their gross falseness prove that I am true,
And by that falseness gender truth in you.
And what is left i They say that they have found
A script, wherein the writer tells my Lord
He is a secret poet. True enough !
But surely now that secret is o'er past.
Have you not read his poems ? Know you not
That in our day a learned chancellor
Might better far dispense unjustest law
Than be suspect of such frivolity
As lies in verse ? Therefore his poetry
Was secret. Now that he is gone
'Tis so no longer. You may read his verse,
And judge if mine be better or be worse :
Read and pronounce ! The meed of praise is thine ;
But still let his be his and mine be mine.
  I say no more ; but how can you forswear
Outspoken Jonson, he who knew me well ?
So, too, the epitaph which still you read ?
Think you they faced my sepulchre with lies―
Gross lies, so evident and palpable
That every townsman must have wot of it,
And not a worshipper within the church
But must have smiled to see the marbled fraud ?
Surely this touches you ? But if by chance
My reasoning still leaves you obdurate,
I'll lay one final plea. I pray you look
On my presentment, as it reaches you.
My features shall be sponsors for my fame,
My brow shall speak when Shakespeare's voice is dumb,
And be his warrant in an age to come.

     The Empire


THEY said that it had feet of clay,
  That its fall was sure and quick.
In the flames of yesterday
  All the clay was burned to brick.
When they carved our epitaph
And marked us doomed beyond recall,
" We are," we answered, with a laugh,
  " The Empire that declines to fall."

      A Voyage


BREATHING the stale and stuffy air
  Of office or consulting room,
Our thoughts will wander back to where
  We heard the low Atlantic boom,
And, creaming underneath our screw,
  We watched the swirling waters break,
Silver filagrees on blue
  Spreading fan-wise in our wake.

Cribbed within the city's fold,
  Fettered to our daily round,
We'll conjure up the haze of gold
  Which ringed the wide horizon round.
And still we'll break the sordid day
  By fleeting visions far and fair,
The silver shield of Vigo Bay,
  The long brown cliff of Finisterre.

Where once the Roman galley sped,
  Or Moorish corsair spread his sail,
By wooded shore, or sunlit head,
  By barren hill or sea-washed vale
We took our way. But we can swear
  That many countries we have scanned,
But never one that could compare
  With our own island mother-land.

The dream is o'er. No more we view
  The shores of Christian or of Turk,
But turning to our tasks anew,
  We bend us to our wonted work.
But there will come to you and me
  Some glimpse of spacious days gone by,
The wide, wide stretches of the sea,
  The mighty curtain of the sky.

    The Orphanage

WHEN, ere the tangled web is reft,
  The kid-gloved villain scowls and sneers,
And hapless innocence is left
  With no assets save sighs and tears,
'Tis then, just then, that in there stalks
  The hero, watchful of her needs,
He talks, Great heavens, how he talks !
  But we forgive him, for his deeds.

Life is the drama here to-day
  And Death the villain of the plot.
It is a realistic play;
  Shall it end well or shall it not ?
The hero ? Oh, the hero's part
  Is vacant―to be played by you.
Then act it well! An orphan's heart
  May beat the lighter if you do.

  Sexagenarius Loquitur

FROM our youth to our age
    We have passed each stage
  In old immemorial order,
From primitive days
Through flowery ways
  With love like a hedge as their border.
Ah, youth was a kingdom of joy,
  And we were the king and the queen,
    When I was a year
    Short of thirty, my dear,
  And you were just nearing nineteen.

But dark follows light
And day follows night
  As the old planet circles the sun ;
And nature still traces
Her score on our faces
  And tallies the years as they run.
Have they chilled the old warmth in your heart ?
  I swear that they have not in mine,
    Though I am a year
    Short of sixty, my dear,
  And you are―well, say thirty-nine.

      Night Voices

FATHER, father, who is that a-whispering ?
  Who is it who whispers in the wood ?
    You say it is the breeze
    As it sighs among the trees,
But there's someone who whispers in the wood.

Father, father, who is that a-murmuring ?
  Who is it who murmurs in the night ?
    You say it is the roar
    Of the wave upon the shore,
But there's someone who murmurs in the night.

Father, father, who is that who laughs at us ?
  Who is it who chuckles in the glen ?
    Oh, father, let us go,
    For the light is burning low,
And there's somebody laughing in the glen.

Father, father, tell me what you're waiting for,
  Tell me why your eyes are on the door.
    It is dark and it is late,
    But you sit so still and straight,
Ever staring, ever smiling, at the door.

     The Message

     (From Heine)

UP, dear laddie, saddle quick
  And spring upon the leather !
Away post haste o'er fell and waste
  With whip and spur together !

And when you win to Duncan's kin
  Draw one of them aside
And shortly say, " Which daughter may
  We welcome as the bride ? "

And if he says " It is the dark,"
  Then quickly bring the mare,
But if he says " It is the blonde,"
  Then you have time to spare.

But buy from off the saddler man
  The stoutest cord you see,
Ride at your ease and say no word,
  But bring it back to me.

      The Echo

     (After Heine)

THROUGH the lonely mountain land
    There rode a cavalier.
" Oh, ride I to my darling's arms,
  Or to the grave so drear ? "
  The Echo answered clear,
  " The grave so drear."

So onward rode the cavalier
  And clouded was his brow.
" If now my hour be truly come,
  Ah well, it must be now ! "
  The Echo answered low,
  " It must be now."

Advice to a Young Author

      FIRST begin
      Taking in.
      Cargo stored,
      All aboard,
      Think about
      Giving out.
      Empty ship,
      Useless trip !

      Never strain
      Weary brain.
      Hardly fit,
      Wait a bit!
      After rest
      Comes the best.
      Sitting still,
      Let it fill;
      Never press ;
      Nerve stress
      Always shows.
      Nature knows.

      Critics kind,
      Never mind !
      Critics flatter,
      No matter !
      Critics curse,
      None the worse !
      Critics blame,
      All the same !
      Do your best.
      Hang the rest !

      The Farewell

     The Soul to the Body

SO sorry, dear old friend, you have to die,
We've been such goodly partners, you and I,
Such comrades in our work, and mates at play,
We've lived together many a happy day.
It's only lately that you disappoint,
Sluggish in limb and clogged in every joint;
But that is not your fault, for grim old
Time Has blocked your tiny arteries with lime,
And cut your sap and left its withering trace
In every wrinkle of your dear old face.
No, faithful comrade, I have nought but praise ;
If there were fault, 'twas mine. You walked the ways
On which I led you, be they low or high,
Thanks for all services ! And so good-bye !

     The Body to the Soul

Good-bye, old friend ! You've used me many a year,
And, as you say, I'm rather out of gear,
And quite disposed to rest. No doubt you'll find
Some other form congenial to your mind,
And moulded on this wreck you leave behind,
For that, they say, persists. May it be one
That serves you faithfully, as I have done.

Of course its right our partnership to sever
Since I am old and you as young as ever.
I'll find some cancer cell or handy germ
To bring my waning forces to a term
And break the framework of the old machine.
Then down at Woking or at Golder's Green
They'll do the trick. And you, friend, from afar,
Will see the oaken chest or cinder jar,
And know that I have gone without a pang
Back to the elements from which I sprang.

  " Now then, Smith ! "

 [The incident quoted is literally correct.]

'TWAS on Messina's day of wrath,
     When one wild morning laid her low,
On either side of that grey path
  The cinder piles were still aglow.
Down it there sauntered Skipper Wise,
  The Master of the Roderic Dhu,
And at his heels, with wondering eyes,
  A dozen of her collier crew.

But hark that cry ! Above their heads,
  There hung a riven shaking wall,
From bulging base to melting leads
  Was sheer a hundred foot of fall;
And there, half balanced on a sill,
  There clung a little frightened maid,
Her white face staring down, and still
  She waved her hand and cried for aid.

The Skipper cocked his thumb in air,
  " Now then, Smith ! " he curtly said.
The seaman marked the child up there,
  And growled an oath and scratched his head.

They saw him wet his horny paw,
  They saw him test the shaking wall,
They saw him creep from flaw to flaw,
  They saw him slip, they saw him fall,
And yet again regain his grip,
  And find a crevice for his stand,
And on with jerk and spring and slip,
  Until he clutched the downstretched hand.

He braced his shoulder to the strain,
  He caught her as she sank all spent,
And with her balanced turned again
  To make his terrible descent.
With pause for thought and pause for breath,
  While the dark rabble prayed and cried,
Until from that high place of death
  He bore her to her mother's side.

" Now then, Smith ! " the skipper said,
  And at the word the thing was done. But
where is Smith, whose hand and head
  Have played a match with death and won ?
He's just a chap among the chaps,
  Unknown, unhonoured, as before,
And there he'll stay until perhaps
  The world has need of him once more.

So has it been in every age,
  In every age it still shall be,
Smith's name is not on history's page,
  But who has made that page save he ?
The Warrior chief can frame his plan
  With all that wisdom can devise,
And then,―ah, then it needs the man,
  And " Now then, Smith ! " he loudly cries.

The Statesman in a parlous place
  May totter on unstable ground,
His blunders rise before his face,
  And no redemptiom may be found.
When all is lost, 'mid doubts and fears,
  There's one more card that he can play.
It's " Now then, Smith ! " and Smith appears
  To save him for some later day.

And when War raised its fearsome shape
  And Europe shrank before its form,
Our England stood with no escape,
  Unarmed before the rising storm,
'Twas Smith to whom at once we turned.
  Five million Smiths obeyed the call.
To Smith the praise that he has earned,
  For by his blood he saved us all.

Now then, Smith !
  You're neither rich nor gifted,
But here's a job that must be done,
  A job we may not shirk.
Now then, Smith !
  Get down to it and shift it!
You're just the common working bee,
  So work, you beggar, work !

      To my Lady

" WHICH of these four," the Angel said,
  " Will be your life-long choice,
The maiden with the kindest heart,
Or with the sweetest voice,
Or she who has the dearest form,
With every gentle grace,
Or she who shows the noblest soul
Upon the loveliest face ? "

Lost in deepest thought I sat,
And viewed these maidens four,
And first chose this and then chose that,
And doubted more and more ;
A kindly heart is treasure trove,
A perfect voice is rare,
A graceful form is Heaven's gift
And so is beauty rare.

The Angel laughed to see my doubt
And laid his hand on me,
He smoothed the puzzled wrinkles out,
" I'll set it right," said he,
" Each of the four you wish as mate ;
  Since that can not be done,
This lady saves you all debate,
By being all in one."

A Reminiscence of Cricket1

W.G. Grace

ONCE in my heyday of cricket,
  Oh, day I shall ever recall!
I captured that glorious wicket,
  The greatest, the grandest of all.

Before me he stands like a vision,
  Bearded and burly and brown,
A smile of good-humoured derision
  As he waits for the first to come down.

A statue from Thebes or from Cnossus,
  A Hercules shrouded in white,
Assyrian Bull-like Colossus,
  He stands in his might.

With the beard of a Goth or a Vandal,
  His bat hanging ready and free,
His great hairy hands on the handle
  And his menacing eyes upon me.

And I―I had tricks for the rabbits,
  The feeble of mind or of eye,
I could see all the duffer's bad habits
  And guess where his ruin might lie.

The capture of such might elate one,
  But it seemed like some horrible jest
That I should serve tosh to the great one,
  Who had broken the hearts of the best.

Well, here goes ! Good Lord, what a rotter !
  Such a sitter as never was dreamt,
It was clay in the hands of the Potter,
  But he tapped it with gentle contempt.

The second was better―a leetle,
  It was low, but was nearly long hop,
As the housemaid comes down on the beetle,
  So down came the bat with a chop.

He was sizing me up with some wonder,
  My broken-kneed action and ways,
I could see the grim menace from under
  The striped peak that shaded his gaze.

The third was a gift―or it looked it,
  A foot off the wicket or so,
His huge figure swooped as he hooked it,
  His great body swung to the blow.

Still when my dreams are night-marish
  I picture that terrible smite,
It was meant for a neighbouring parish
  Or any old place out of sight.

But―yes, there's a but to the story―
  The blade swished a trifle too low,
Oh wonder ! and vision of glory !
  It was up like a shaft from a bow.

Up, up, like the towering game bird,
  Up, up, to a speck in the blue,
And then coming down like the same bird
  Dead straight on the line that it flew.

Good Lord, was it mine ! Such a soarer
  Would call for a pair of safe hands ;
None safer than Derbyshire Storer―
  And there, face uplifted, he stands.

Wicket-keep Storer, the knowing,
  Wary and steady of nerve,
Watching it falling and growing,
  Marking the pace and the curve.

I stood with my two eyes fixed on it,
There was " plunk " as the gloves shut upon
  And he cuddled it up to his shirt.

Out, beyond question or wrangle !
  Homeward he lurched to his lunch,
His bat was tucked up at an angle,
  His great shoulders curved to a hunch.

Walking he rumbled and grumbled,
  Scolding himself, and not me,
One glove was off, and he fumbled
  Twisting the other hand free.

Did I give Storer the credit,
  The thanks he so splendidly earned ?
It was mere empty talk if I said it,
  For Grace was already returned.

1 Between 1900 and 1907 Arthur Conan Doyle played in ten first-class matches, mainly for the Marylebone Cricket Club, London. He was a lower-order, right-handed batsman and occasional slow bowler. He scored 231 runs in 18 innings, with a top score of 43.
On August 25, 1900 he took the wicket of W.G. Grace during a match against London County at Crystal Palace. The famous batsman skied one of the balls delivered by Doyle and was caught out by wicket- keeper for 110.
Doyle wrote the this poem to commemorate the occasion.


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