Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The Jacobite on Tower Hill
 
George Walter Thornbury (1828–76)
 
 
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        5
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.        10
“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,        15
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.        20
 
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.
 

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