A Summary History of Lord Clive

About a hundred and fifty years ago,
History relates it happened so,
A big ship sailed from the shores of Britain
Bound for India across the raging main.

And many of the passengers did cry and moan
As they took the last look of their old home,
Which they were fast leaving far behind,
And which some of them would long bear in mind.

Among the passengers was a youth about seventeen years old,
Who had been a wild boy at home and very bold,
And by his conduct had filled his parent’s hearts with woe,
Because to school he often refused to go.

And now that he was going so far away from home,
The thought thereof made him sigh and groan,
For he felt very sad and dejected were his looks,
And he often wished he had spent more time at his books.

And when he arrived in India he searched for work there,
And got to be a clerk in a merchant’s office, but for it he didn’t care;
The only pleasure he found was in reading books,
And while doing so, sad and forlorn were his looks.

One day while feeling unhappy he fired a pistol at his own head,
Expecting that he would kill himself dead;
But the pistol wouldn’t go off although he tried every plan,
And he felt sorry, and resolved to become a better man.

So Clive left his desk and became a soldier brave,
And soon rose to be a captain and manfully did behave;
For he beat the French in every battle,
After all their foolish talk and prattle.

Then he thought he would take a voyage home to his friends,
And for his bad behaviour towards them he would make some amends;
For he hadn’t seen them for many years,
And when he thought of them he shed briny tears.

And when he arrived in London
The people after him in crowds did run;
And they flocked to see him every minute,
Because they thought him the most famous man in it.

And all the greatest people in the land
Were proud to shake him by the hand;
And they gave him a beautiful sword because he had fought so well
And of his bravery the people to each other did tell.

And when his own friends saw him they to him ran,
And they hardly knew him, he looked so noble a man;
And his parents felt o’erjoyed when they saw him home again,
And when he left his parents again for India it caused them great pain.

But it was a good thing Clive returned to India again,
Because a wicked prince in his territory wouldn’t allow the british to remain,
And he resolved to drive them off his land,
And marched upon them boldly with thousands of his band.

But the bad prince trembled when he heard that Clive had come,
Because the British at the charge of the bayonet made his army run;
And the bad prince was killed by one of his own band,
And the British fortunately got all his land.

And nearly all India now belongs to this country,
Which has been captured by land and by sea,
By some of the greatest men that ever did live,
But the greatest of them all was Robert Clive.

Wikipedia Article

Related Gems

Comments (2) »

  1. Robert Haynie
    In the year 2018, on the 9th day of September at 1:40 pm

    This is classic McGonegall– not so much as it’s phrasing (Although that is also classic McGonegall) or it’s meter (Which is also classic McG)or even it’s rhymes (Which are remarkably subdued and un-strained for the poet, but everyone has an off– off?– day).

    Rather, for the theme and subject. Let’s take a kid– a fairly rotten kid, send him away to a far off place, let that experience make him into a rather merciless conqueror, controversial political figure, probable source of Indian famines that, well, starved a lot of Indians, and generally in this modern era would have him universally condemned as a war criminal, but at the time… well, pretty much the sort of people the Poet liked.

    I have come to the conclusion, in reading certain of McGonegall’s works, that he didn’t actually see people outside of England (and by extension, Scotland) as, well, people. To him, one gets the impression that everything outside of the Empire is an abstract, existing for the sole purpose of being… well, made British.

    In this, McGonegall is a purist. Even his contemporaries were at times chary about Clive, in Parliament he was harshly critiqued, and history is at best ambivalent about the man. In McGonegall’s eyes… well, India is ours now, and that’s all right, and the “wicked prince” was being rather rude about thinking that his kingdom was, well, HIS kingdom. Silly Indian Person.

    I always take McGonegall’s impressions of his fellow Imperialists with a grain of salt, but in this piece I find a half cup of Morton’s is more apropos…

  2. Dan E
    In the year 2018, on the 9th day of September at 8:34 pm

    I sometimes cringe when reading this sort of Williams words of wisdom. The thing is he was born into a different world than we live today, the populace thought in the same way. Fortunately not all of them had his talent for writing this unique poetry.

Leave a comment

Solve this puzzle to prove you’re not a robot