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

May 11

On the Death of Mr. Perceval

By Thomas Moore (1779–1852)

  • Spencer Perceval, at that time Prime Minister, was shot in the lobby of the House of Commons on May 11, 1812, by a man named Bellingham who appears to have been moved by private motives, a request of his having been slighted by the Government.

  • IN the dirge we sung o’er him no censure was heard,

    Unembittered and free did the teardrop descend;

    We forgot in that hour how the statesman had erred,

    And wept for the husband, the father and friend.

    Oh! proud was the meed his integrity won,

    And generous indeed were the tears that we shed,

    When in grief we forgot all the ill he had done,

    And, though wronged by him living, bewailed him when dead.

    Even now, if one harsher emotion intrude,

    ’Tis to wish he had chosen some lowlier state—

    Had known what he was, and content to be good,

    Had ne’er for our ruin, aspired to be great.

    So, left through their own little orbit to move,

    His years might have rolled inoffensive away;

    His children might still have been blessed with his love,

    And England would ne’er have been cursed with his sway.