Blest be the times, for ever past away,1
When England boasted of her proud array2
Of noble knights and chiefs of high renown,3
Who broke their foes and saved their country’s crown ;4
Who scorn’d the mean dissembler’s hackney’d arts,5
And gave to England’s service English hearts.6
Dark were their souls, by ignorance made blind,7
They never glow’d with love for all mankind ;8
Ne’er left their countrymen in want and pain,9
To soothe the woes of Portugal or Spain,10
Ne’er shed one tear o’er Moslem or Hindoo,11
Or cared a single curse for Timbuctoo12
Lord ! what knew they of any spot of earth,13
Except the one dear land which gave them birth ?14
Tyrants unmark’d might rule their slavish trains,15
Or slaves unnoticed burst their tyrants’ chains ;16
Earthquakes unwept might shake the Tartar wall,17
And Egypt’s plagues unmourn’d on Egypt fall :18
Small care was theirs, so long as England rose,19
Loved by her patriot sons, and fear’d by foes,20
Fill’d with good honest hearts and brawny hands,21
Prepared alike to till or guard their lands,—22
A well-fed people, whom no fears could daunt,23
Whose dreams themselves could never picture Want.24
Round Arthur’s table, thus old tales relate,—25
Were gather’d all the wise, the good, the great,26
Men who were firm of soul, of purpose true,27
Who had the wit to plan, the arm to do ;28
Awed by no faction, won by no pretence29
To leave the beaten tracks of sober sense30
But, just and faithful, it was still their pride,31
From oath, once taken, ne’er to turn aside,32
Ne’er to make laughter of a nation’s grief,33
Nor bow submiss to one imperious chief ;34
With upright hearts they came, and open brow35
O what a change from Arthur’s table now !36
Hail to the chiefs who round that table sit,37
Blest with a more than usual want of wit !38
Who meekly follow each supreme behest,39
And sheathe the sword, or set their spears in rest,40
Who rush impetuous to each deed of shame,41
And blot their own to brighten Arthur’s name !42
Thus is it still, where lofty minds preside,43
The meaner herd accept their laws with pride.44
Low and more low the abject dastards fall,45
Till one sole spirit rules and governs all ;46
Gives each his post, and from his labour draws47
A mingled crop of hatred and applause ;48
Then with one half rewards the brainless elf,49
But keeps the crop of praises—to himself !50