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

Sir Francis Hastings Doyle

The Old Cavalier

“FOR our martyr’d Charles I pawn’d my plate,

For his son I spent my all,

That a churl might dine, and drink my wine,

And preach in my father’s hall:

That father died on Marston Moor,

My son on Worcester plain;

But the king he turn’d his back on me

When he got his own again.

“The other day, there came, God wot!

A solemn, pompous ass,

Who begged to know if I did not go

To the sacrifice of Mass:

I told him fairly to his face,

That in the field of fight

I had shouted loud for Church and King,

When he would have run outright.

“He talk’d of the Man of Babylon

With his rosaries and copes,

As if a Roundhead was n’t worse

Than half a hundred Popes.

I don’t know what the people mean,

With their horror and affright;

All Papists that I ever knew

Fought stoutly for the right.

“I now am poor and lonely,

This cloak is worn and old,

But yet it warms my loyal heart,

Through sleet, and rain, and cold,

When I call to mind the Cavaliers,

Bold Rupert at their head,

Bursting through blood and fire, with cries

That might have wak’d the dead.

“Then spur and sword was the battle word,

And we made their helmets ring,

Howling like madmen, all the while,

For God and for the King.

And though they snuffled psalms, to give

The Rebel-dogs their due,

When the roaring shot pour’d close and hot

They were stalwart men and true.

“On the fatal field of Naseby,

Where Rupert lost the day

By hanging on the flying crowd

Like a lion on his prey,

I stood and fought it out, until,

In spite of plate and steel,

The blood that left my veins that day

Flow’d up above my heel.

“And certainly, it made those quail

Who never quail’d before,

To look upon the awful front

Which Cromwell’s horsemen wore.

I felt that every hope was gone,

When I saw their squadrons form,

And gather for the final charge

Like the coming of the storm.

“Oh! where was Rupert in that hour

Of danger, toil, and strife?

It would have been to all brave men

Worth a hundred years of life

To have seen that black and gloomy force,

As it poured down in line,

Met midway by the Royal horse

And Rupert of the Rhine.

“All this is over now, and I

Must travel to the tomb,

Though the king I serv’d has got his own,

In poverty and gloom.

Well, well, I serv’d him for himself,

So I must not now complain,

But I often wish that I had died

With my son on Worcester plain.”