Gladstone, 1885

A SKILFUL leech, so long as we were whole:
Who scann'd the nation's every outward part
But ah! misheard the beating of its heart.
Sire of huge sorrows, yet erect of soul.
Swift rider with calamity for goal,
Who, overtasking his equestrian art,
Unstall'd a steed full willing for the start,
But wondrous hard to curb or to control.
Sometimes we thought he led the people forth:
Anon he seemed to follow where they flew:
Lord of the golden tongue and smiting eyes;
Great out of season and untimely wise:
A man whose virtue, genius, grandeur, worth,
Wrought deadlier ill than ages can undo.
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