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

George Walter Thornbury 1828–76

The Jacobite on Tower Hill

HE tripp’d up the steps with a bow and a smile,

Offering snuff to the chaplain the while,

A rose at his button-hole that afternoon—

’Twas the tenth of the month, and the month it was June.

Then shrugging his shoulders he look’d at the man

With the mask and the axe, and a murmuring ran

Through the crowd, who, below, were all pushing to see

The gaoler kneel down, and receiving his fee.

He look’d at the mob, as they roar’d, with a stare,

And took snuff again with a cynical air.

“I ’m happy to give but a moment’s delight

To the flower of my country agog for a sight.”

Then he look’d at the block, and with scented cravat

Dusted room for his neck, gaily doffing his hat,

Kiss’d his hand to a lady, bent low to the crowd,

Then smiling, turn’d round to the headsman and bow’d.

“God save King James!” he cried bravely and shrill,

And the cry reach’d the houses at foot of the hill,

“My friend, with the axe, à votre service,” he said;

And ran his white thumb ’long the edge of the blade.

When the multitude hiss’d he stood firms as a rock;

Then kneeling, laid down his gay head on the block;

He kiss’d a white rose,—in a moment ’t was red

With the life of the bravest of any that bled.