The original of this narrative poem was thought to have been written by a D.W. Nash around 1870, the time of the Franco-Prussian War which resulted in a crushing defeat for the French; the poem was full of foreboding about the future. In the 1918 edition, a new foreword suggested that those fears were justified and that the events of 1870 gave rise to World War I. Much of that prophecy is worthy of thought in 1995 - from the wavering of Altar and Crown, to the derision of words such as "honour" and "truth", and to the possible lack of wisdom to "yield to foreigners", for which read the EC. More about it at this guys blog.
This comes from a very slim volume I seem to have had for quite a while. Certainly, I had read it long before the Hunting with Dogs saga was raised so it is a valid forecast there. The following verses are but selected extracts that seem to chime with what we are going through now.
Then round he turned his horse's head
And shook his bridle free,
When he was struck by an aged fox
That sat beneath a tree.
He raised his eye in glad surprise,
That huntsman keen and bold;
But there was in that fox's look
That made his blood run cold.
He raised his hand to touch his horn,
And shout a "Tally-ho"
But mastered by that fox's eye,
His lips refused to blow.
For he was grim and gaunt of limb,
With age all silvered o'er;
He might have been an arctic fox
Escaped from Greenland's shore.
"Huntsman" he said - a sudden thrill
Through all the listeners ran,
To hear a creature of the wood
Speak like a Christian man -
"Last of my race, to me' tis given
The future to unfold,
To speak the words which never yet
Spake fox of mortal mould.
"Then print my words upon your heart
And stamp them on your brain,
That you to others may impart
My prophecy again.
"Strong life is yours in manhood's prime,
Your cheek with heat is red;
Time has not laid his finger yet
In earnest on your head.
"But ere your limbs are bent with age,
And ere yours locks are grey,
The sport that you have loved so well
Shall long have passed away.
"Too well I know, by wisdom taught
The existence of my race
O'er all wide England's green domain
Is bound up with the Chase.
"Better in early youth and strength
The race for life to run,
Than poisoned like the noxious rat,
Or slain by felon gun.
"Better by wily sleight and turn
The eager hound to foil,
Than slaughtered by each baser churl
Who yet shall till the soil.
"For not upon these hills alone
The doom of sport shall fall;
O'er the broad face of England creeps
The shadow on the wall.
"The years roll on: old manors change,
Old customs lose their sway;
New fashions rule; the grandsire's garb
Moves ridicule to-day.
"Base churls shall mock the mighty names
Writ on the roll of time;
Religion shall be held a jest,
And loyalty a crime.
"No word of prayer, no hymn of praise
Sound in the village school;
The people's education
"In England's ancient pulpits
Lay orators shall preach
New creeds, and free religions
Self made apostles teach.
"The peasants to their daily tasks
In surly silence fall;
No kindly hospitalities
In farmhouse nor in hall.
"Nor harvest feast nor Christmas tide
Shall farm or manor hold;
Science alone can plenty give,
The only God is gold.
"The homes where love and peace should dwell
Fierce politics shall vex,
And unsexed woman strive to prove
Herself the coarser sex.
Trade shall be held the only good
And gain the sole device;
The statesman's maxim shall be peace,
and peace at any price.
"Her army and her navy
Britain shall cast aside;
Soldiers and ships are costly things,
Defence an empty pride.
Following these dire forecasts however, is a note of triumph as reason returns.
Old England's sons shall raise again
The Alter and the Crown.
"Rejoicing seas shall welcome
Their mistress once again;
Once more the banner of St George
Shall rule upon the main.
"The blood of the invader
Her pastures shall manure,
His bones unburied on her fields
For monuments to endure.
"Again in hall and homestead,
Shall joy and peace be seen,
And smiling children raise again
The maypole on the green.
"Again the hospitable board
Shall groan with Christmas cheer,
And mutual service bind again
The peasant and the peer.
"Again the smiling hedgerow
Shall field from field divide;
Again among the woodlands
The scarlet troop shall ride."