Humble Heroes

A poem celebrating the men and women memorialised by the Watts Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice including a reference to railwaymen Walter Peart and Harry Dean.

(At the suggestion of Mr. G. F. Watts, R.A., a cloister has been erected in " Postmen's Park," Aldersgate Street, for the purpose of commemorating; deeds of heroism performed by men and women in ' humble life.) [Note 571.1]

When the word to charge rings loud above
The shriek of the bursting shell,
Full well we know in heroic deeds
Our soldier lads excel ; [Note 571.2]
Be theirs the praise!—but remember
Peace Her heroes hath as well!

Go, search the dark and the cheerless mine
For this hero in humble guise !
When the miner feels the explosion's shock,
And the noxious vapours rise.
He rushes back through the stifling fumes,
And, to save a comrade, dies !

Again, when the frenzied cry of “Fire!”
Rings loud on the startled street,
With a Viking's valour the fireman fights
'Mid the smoke and the blinding heat,
And gives his life for another's life,
With the flames for his winding-sheet!

When the swift express to a swifter doom [Note 571.3]
Is hurled through a pointsrnan's slip,
Here's a driver who stands at his perilous post,
As a captain stands by his ship,
Facing his death with a courage stern,
Stout heart, and a firm-set lip !

Such are the heroes of humble life,
Unknown to the scroll of Fame,
Whose myriad tongues are exceedingly loud
With many a lesser name :
But this cloister set in the City's heart
Shall their deathless deeds acclaim!