James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

December 7

Epitaph on Algernon Sidney

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

  • Algernon Sidney was the younger son of the second Earl of Leicester. He served in the Parliamentary army during the Civil War and after holding many honorable offices was arrested on the discovery of the Rye House Plot (with which he had no connection) and was executed on Dec. 7, 1683.

  • HERE Sidney lies, he whom perverted law,

    The pliant jury, and the bloody judge,

    Doom’d to a traitor’s death. A tyrant King

    Required, an abject country saw and shared

    The crime. The noble cause of Liberty

    He loved in life, and to that noble cause

    In death bore witness. But his Country rose

    Like Samson from her sleep, and broke her chains,

    And proudly with her worthies she enroll’d

    Her murder’d Sidney’s name. The voice of man

    Gives honor or destroys; bet earthly power

    Gives not, nor takes away, the self-applause

    Which on the scaffold suffering virtue feels,

    Nor that which God appointed its reward.