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Wednesday, May 7, 2014



Warrior of God, man’s friend, and tyrant’s foe,
Now somewhere dead far in the waste Soudan,
Thou livest in all hearts, for all men know
This earth has never borne a nobler man.
—Lord Tennyson's "Epitaph on General Gordon, 
published in the London Times on this day in 1885, three months after Gordon’s death at the siege of Khartoum.

Gordon was a national hero, and Tennyson was Poet Laureate, but the epitaph was not an obligatory or dispassionate exercise.

For Tennyson, Gordon was exemplary not as an agent of Empire but as a charity worker,

a man so devoted to helping destitute street kids that the Gordon Boys’ National Memorial Home was established at his death, paid for by public subscription.

When the funding for the Gordon Boys’ Home appeared to be sagging, Tennyson prodded the public conscience with “Have We Forgotten Gordon?” published in Punch magazine in 1891.

Tennyson was eighty-two at the time, and he would die the next year,

but he was still “the Singer of Haslemere,” (the Surrey town where he lived) and impassioned:

Are we sleeping? "Have we forgotten?" Like the thrust of an Arab spear
Comes that conscience-piercing-question from the Singer of Haslemere.
Have we indeed forgotten the hero we so be-sang,
When across the far south sand-wastes the news of his murder rang?...
What heroes do you think we as a nation have forgotten? 
Or have we forgotten not just people
but principles thought no longer


  1. You have flicked a nerve today. On this side of the world at anyrate we ae ignoring principles and worshipping money instead. Compassion, support for the disadvantaged are being sacrificed to the almighty dollar. To those who have - we are giving more, and taking it from the resources of the disenfranchised - because they don't have to power to fight back. And I am well nigh ballistic with rage.

  2. Elephant's Child:
    It is cold consolation I know, but it is much the same way on this side of the globe.

    And mostly, all through history it has always been so. Greed has always been Man's most beloved god.

    Groups tend to hurt the disenfranchised. It is only we individuals that can create a small oasis of healing around us.

    Try not to be consumed with the frustration that is only natural when you see those in power abuse it. It will only hurt you. :-(

    Thank you for being my friend, Roland

  3. Every nation has its heroes. Some we share. Remember one man's hero is another man's terrorist. Ah, life is fraught.

  4. Denise:
    No matter the nation, Man forgets his heroes and forgets the principles for which they fought.

    Only Greed is universal. :-(

  5. Principles? What's that?

    Priorities change when power shifts. Reducing crimes against women and children should be a priority, as should job creation, and climate projects to offset the warming trend.

  6. I knew about Gordon and Khartoum but not that he had helped street children, and that impresses me much more.

    There are so many real heroes and noble acts that we overlook and forget. There's a reason why one of my current manuscripts is titled "Charity MacCay and the Almighty Dollar." It's set in the Gilded Age, and people today are so right when they say we're going through that age of notorious greed yet again. How very sad.

  7. I've always wanted to visit the Sudan, both to see the battlefields and the ancient pyramids at Meroe and other sites. At Omdurman the Khalifa's palace has been turned into a museum and they have a collection of weapons from the Mahdi's army.

  8. Roland:

    Saw your comment on greed. Something God hates. This country no longer takes time to reflect on heroes, their fight for freedom, let alone a thought on God.

    The generic name of God has become a bad and hated word in this country. And the holidays to remember either hero or God, have become days to shop for more stuff.

    Hugs and chocolate!

  9. HI, Roland...

    You said a mouthful here. Principles? What are those?

    I don't even want to turn on the news any more. The world seems to be slipping and our politicians seem to be making things so much worse.

    Greed, taxe, greed, more taxes... When will it end? Manners are dying. Today's generations are rude, arrogant, and oblivious to a gentle word.

    You know I try to see the beauty in everything, but there are days I cringe when I leave my house, knowing full well what to expect....

  10. The principle that jumped to my mind is work ethic. Or maybe I should call it "pulling your own weight". Everyone's looking for that easy ride.

  11. D.G.:
    Sadly, you're right: those in power do what it takes to keep it. Period. Those who want it do anything to get it. The oppressed do not have influence so they are forgotten.

    He was a man of faith who fought slavery for he believed no man should be another's slave.

    He went to Khartoum and then stayed for the innocent women, children, and street orphans who would die if it fell.

    With ingenuity, wit, and courage he held out for nearly a year while the British politicians debated. When Gordon was killed, 10,000 civilians were slaughtered.

    Two days later the "Relief" troops arrived.

    I believe the Gilded Age never went away. Sigh.

    Like you, I have always wanted to visit the Sudan but now it would be higly unsafe I believe for Westerners. :-(

    You only hear the name of God on the streets in curses.

    Modern man seems to hold nothing sacred but his own skin, doing whatever it takes to protect it.

    Is there not room in our hearts to hold the Creator of all we see in reverance?

    There are many like you and my other cyber friends who keep the treasure of faith and innocence safe in their hearts. That is our world's only hope.

    I don't buy newspapers or cable, for the same reason you stated. The spin doctors make it so that the headlines are empty of validity.

    President Bush, who left office with an approval rating of 22 -- you'd have to be on parole to be worse -- is now being lauded as a great president.

    I begin each chapter of FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE with actual quotes and actions of Bush and other politicians who postured while New Orleans burned during Katrina.

    Gordon did not save the country from invasion or disaster, but among the British heroes of all ages, there is perhaps no other who stands out so prominently as an individualist, a man ready to die for his principles and for those who had no one else to fight for them.

    Here was one man who did not do what he was told, but what he believed to be right.

    In a world moving inexorably towards expediency and self-interest, it would be well to remember Gordon of Khartoum.

    Yes, people forget that in the "Easy Ride" someone is pulling not only his weight but theirs!

  12. Sad but salient post, Roland. These days our most prominent heroes are celebrities and principles play no part in their status. More's the pity.

    VR Barkowski

  13. We have a system of building up that which we value as a society. We pay those folks more money. They might have celebrity. They certainly have a louder voice and more power. Now... let's look at who is getting the Big Bucks, the Celebrities, and those with the Loud Voices Making the Power Decisions. Yeah, I think we lost our way somewhere.

    Oooh... a pic of Lindsay Lohan with no underwear. Gotta go...

  14. VR:
    Yes, principles are the new extinct species. :-(

    Me, I have to watch Miley Cyrus stick out her tongue and point to her personals!


    Ancient Rome died from the inside out. We are following that same tragic path. :-(

    Thanks for visiting and commenting.