Candid and liberal, with a heart of steel
In Danger's path, though not untaught to feel.
Still, I remember, in the factious strife,
The rustic's musket aim'd against my life:
High pois'd in air the massy weapon hung,
A cry of horror burst from every tongue:
Whilst I, in combat with another foe,
Fought on, unconscious of th' impending blow;
Your arm, brave Boy, arrested his career—
Forward you sprung, insensible to fear;280
Disarm'd, and baffled by your conquering hand,
The grovelling Savage roll'd upon the sand:
An act like this, can simple thanks repay?
Or all the labours of a grateful lay?
Oh no! whene'er my breast forgets the deed,
That instant, Davus, it deserves to bleed.
Thy milder virtues could my Muse relate,
Lycus! on me thy claims are justly great:
- [The "factious strife" was brought on by the breaking up of school, and the dismissal of some volunteers from drill, both happening at the same hour. The butt-end of a musket was aimed at Byron's head, and would have felled him to the ground, but for the interposition of Tattersall.—Life, p. 25.]
Thus did you save that life I scarcely prize—
A life unworthy such a sacrifice.
Oh! when my breast forgets the gen'rous deed.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
- [John Fitzgibbon, second Earl of Clare (1792-1851), afterwards Governor of Bombay, of whom Byron said, in 1822, "I have always loved him better than any male thing in the world."—"I never," was his language in 1821, "hear the word 'Clare' without a beating of the heart even now; and I write it with the feelings of 1803-4-5, ad infinitum."