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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Sir Henry Taylor 1800–86

The Hero

WHAT makes a hero?—not success, not fame,

Inebriate merchants, and the loud acclaim

Of glutted Avarice,—caps toss’d up in air,

Or pen of journalist with flourish fair;

Bells peal’d, stars, ribbons, and a titular name—

These, though his rightful tribute, he can spare;

His rightful tribute, not his end or aim,

Or true reward; for never yet did these

Refresh the soul, or set the heart at ease.

What makes a hero?—An heroic mind,

Express’d in action, in endurance prov’d.

And if there be preeminence of right,

Deriv’d through pain well suffer’d, to the height

Of rank heroic, ’t is to bear unmov’d,

Not toil, not risk, not rage of sea or wind,

Not the brute fury of barbarians blind,

But worse—ingratitude and poisonous darts,

Launch’d by the country he had serv’d and lov’d:

This, with a free, unclouded spirit pure,

This, in the strength of silence to endure,

A dignity to noble deeds imparts

Beyond the gauds and trappings of renown;

This is the hero’s complement and crown;

This miss’d, one struggle had been wanting still,

One glorious triumph of the heroic will,

One self-approval in his heart of hearts.