Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
An Epitaph on Thomas, Third Lord Fairfax
By George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham (1628–1687)
 
        Under this stone does lie
One born for Victory.

FAIRFAX the valiant; and only he
Whoe’er, for that alone a conqueror would be.
Both sexes’ virtues were in him combined:
He had the fierceness of the manliest mind,
And eke the meekness too of womankind.        5
  He never knew what Envy was, or Hate.
His soul was filled with worth and honesty;
  And with another thing, quite out of date,
        Called modesty.
 
He ne’er seemed impudent but in the field, a place        10
Where impudence itself dares seldom show her face.
Had any stranger spied him in the room
With some of those whom he had overcome,
And had not heard their talk, but only seen
  Their gestures and their mien,        15
They would have sworn he had, the vanquished been.
For as they bragged, and dreadful would appear;
While they, their own ill lucks in war repeated:
His modesty still made him blush to hear
  How often he had them defeated.        20
 
Through his whole life, the part he bore
  Was wonderful and great,
And yet it so appeared in nothing more
  Than in his private last retreat.
  For it’s a stranger thing to find        25
  One man of such a glorious mind,
  As can dismiss the Power he has got;
Than millions of the fools and braves
(Those despicable fools and knaves),
  Who such a pother make,        30
  Through dulness and mistake,
In seeking after power, but get it not.
 
When all the nation he had won,
With great expense of blood had bought,
  Store great enough, he thought        35
  Of fame and of renown:
  He then his arms laid down
  With full as little pride
As if he had been of his enemies’ side;
Or one of them could do that were undone.        40
  He neither wealth, nor places sought;
  For others, not himself, he fought.
    He was content to know
    (For he had found it so)
That when he pleased to conquer he was able,        45
And left the spoil and plunder to the rabble.
    He might have been a king,
    But that he understood
  How much it is a meaner thing
To be unjustly Great, than honourably Good.        50
 
This from the world, did admiration draw;
And from his friends, both love and awe:
Remembering what in fight he did before.
    And his foes loved him too,
    As they were bound to do,        55
Because he was resolved to fight no more.
So blessed of all, he died. But far more blessed were we,
If we were sure to live till we could see
A man as great in War, in Peace as just, as he.
 
 
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