Epitaph On A Jacobite "Courage And Faith; Vain Faith, And Courage Vain"
by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Start Your Free Trial

Download Epitaph On A Jacobite Study Guide

Subscribe Now

"Courage And Faith; Vain Faith, And Courage Vain"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Those who sought to restore Roman Catholic James Stuart to the throne of England, after the revolution of 1688 gave it to William III and Mary, were called Jacobites, after the Latin form of James's name, Jacobus. In the struggle for power against the Protestants, some of the Jacobites were imprisoned and killed; others fled to exile on the continent. The movement did not die out with that generation, but had occasional flurries until 1746 when "The Young Pretender," "Bonny Prince Charlie" invaded England on behalf of his father and was defeated at Culloden Moor. The line of Stuarts did not die out, however, until Henry Stuart died in 1807. This brief poem was supposed to have been written for the gravestone of one Jacobite who died in exile in Italy. His "one dear hope" was probably to live in England under a Catholic Stuart ruler, though the romantic reader will suspect it refers to a sweetheart.

To my true king I offered free from stain
Courage and faith; vain faith, and courage vain.
For him, I threw lands, honors, wealth, away,
And one dear hope, that was more prized than they.
For him I languished in a foreign clime,
Grey-haired with sorrow in my manhood's prime;
Heard on Lavernia Scargill's whispering trees,
And pined by Arno for my lovelier Tees;
Beheld each night my home in fevered sleep,
Each morning started from the dream to weep;
Till God who saw me tried too sorely, gave
The resting place I asked, an early grave.
Oh thou, whom chance leads to this nameless stone,
From that proud country which was once mine own,
By those white cliffs I never more must see,
By that dear language which I spake like thee,
Forget all feuds, and shed an English tear
O'er English dust. A broken heart lies here.