Men of England

Men of England

Men of England! who inherit
Rights that cost your sires their blood!
Men whose undegenerate spirit
Has been proved on land and flood: —

By the foes ye’ve fought uncounted,
By the glorious deeds ye’ve done,
Trophies captured — breaches mounted,
Navies conquered — kingdoms won!

Yet, remember, England gathers
Hence but fruitless wreaths of fame,
If the patriotism of your fathers
Glow not in your hearts the same.

What are monuments of bravery,
Where no public virtues bloom?
What avail in lands of slavery,
Trophied temples, arch, and tomb?

Pageants! — Let the world revere us
For our people’s rights and laws,
And the breasts of civic heroes
Bared in Freedom’s holy cause.

Yours are Hampden’s, Russell’s glory,
Sydney’s matchless shade is yours,–
Martyrs in heroic story,
Worth a hundred Agincourts!

We’re the sons of sires that baffled
Crowned and mitred tyranny;–
They defied the field and scaffold
For their birthrights — so will we!

Thomas Campbell

‘The Last of England’

Madox Brown - The Last of England_sm

The painting above is by English artist Ford Madox Brown, (b. 1821). Painted in 1855, and titled ‘The Last of England,’ it depicts an English emigrant couple as they leave their homeland. This could represent many of the English who left their country to come to America, though in fact it is based on friends of the artist who left in 1855 for Australia.

I like Madox Brown’s work; this painting is a favorite of mine, and not just because of the ‘story’ it depicts — the obviously sad couple departing England for an unfamiliar new home across the sea — but because it vividly portrays the emotions of the young couple as they leave.

Most of our English forebears left their homeland because they felt compelled to — they lacked freedom to worship, and were escaping persecution, or they lacked economic opportunity, as with many of the ‘second sons’ of the gentry who emigrated to the colonies. My Virginia ancestors fell into the latter category.

Whichever reason compelled many of the emigrants to leave, I am sure they didn’t leave with the intent of forgetting their homeland or their origins and heritage. I am sure they would want us, their descendants, to honor that as well.