Ballads of Brave Deeds (London, 1896)

Hardwicke was obsessed with heroes and heroism, whether on the battle-field or in everyday life.  His first published work was a poem titled, ‘The Miner’s Rescue’, and was dedicated to those ‘who helped in the heroic rescue of their imprisoned fellow-men, in the Tynewydd Pit, April 20, 1877’.    

His first book, A Book of Bristol Sonnets, includes a number of examples of personal bravery.    His last poetry volume was titled The European Wae 1914-1915: Poems, and includes numerous poems on the heroic actions of individuals.  Even his juvenile unpublished poetry contains poems on this theme.  Although many of his writings on heroes and heroism are in the form of poems he also wrote articles on the subject.  An example is the series ‘Heroism in Common Life’, published in the Sunday Magazine, and intended to be read by parents to their children on a Sunday evening. 

Sir John Franklin, the naval officer and Arctic explorer, was Hardwicke’s great-uncle, and undoubtedly influenced him in his fascination with heroic exploits.  However, the ultimate exemplar of self-sacrifice for the common good is, of course, Jesus Christ, and Hardwicke fervently believed that heroes were following in the Lord’s footsteps.

Ballads of Brave Deeds is dedicated to the painter G. F. Watts and Mary Fraser Tytler, his second wife, who were great friends of Hardwicke and his wife, Edith.  Watts was the instigator of the ‘Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice’, a public display of ceramic tiles, each one commemorating ordinary people who sacrificed their lives that others may be saved.  The monument is in Postman’s Park, London.  In his Prefatory Note to Ballads of Brave Deeds, Watts wrote:

These poems were inspired by deep and reverential admiration for affecting and splendid self-sacrifice, even unto death, and for brave endeavours to save the lives of others, often unknown, and in no way connected save by the brotherhood of need.  This sublime sympathy, in the highest degree and beyond all else human, receives only the transient record in the daily papers, and is forgotten!

We pay the tribute due to those who distinguish themselves so nobly when duty calls, in the field and in the dangers that beset active life, and who receive the just reward of their devotion and service, in honours and dignities and permanent record in the annals of the nation, but our admiration is especially called for, when life is risked and given, not exacted by duty in the ordinary sense, not amid the tumultuous rush of comrades, not even in the forgetfulness of momentary excitement, but with the calm deliberateness of what may without exaggeration be called divine sympathy, undaunted by certain peril and often in the face of repeated failure that might justify abandonment of effort.  The known history of the world affords nothing more worthy of profound admiration.  These deeds, happily far from uncommon, will more than anything else constitute in the far future our claim to be considered a noble people.  When our material successes may be more than rivalled by peoples and states now undreamed of; inspired by the highest human impulse, by the secret of these deeds, the beating of the great heart of the nation will vibrate through all time.


Poems marked with an asterisk had appeared in print prior to their publication in the book.

Michael Hardy (p. 1)

In a Battery (p. 4)

Alice Ayres (p. 10)

The Warriors’ Death-Song (p. 13)

Brave Beresford (p. 17)

Heroes of Chitral (p. 20)

Captain Baird—In Memoriam (p. 23)

A Crosthwaite Hero (p. 25)

Loss of H.M.S. “Victoria” (p. 28)

The Greater Love (p. 35)

A Pearl for our Sea-King’s Crown (p. 37)

The Falling Star (p. 40)

A Ballad of Port Blair (p. 44)

M‘Dermott’s Deed (p. 48)

The Harvest of Courage: A Ballad of the Boston Deeps—August 1895 (p. 53)

“Well Done, ‘Calliope’!” (p. 57)

A River Tragedy: Barmouth (p. 64)

A Brave Bishop: Zululand (p. 66)

The Loss of the “Serpent” (p. 70)

Murphy, the Fireman (p. 74)

A Cumberland Miner’s Story (p. 78)

A Hero of Walhalla (p. 83)

A Modern Viking: Newcastle, Western Australia (p. 91)

The Mate of the “Norham Castle” (p. 94)

Tried in the Fire: The Stewardess of the Iona (p. 99)

The Wreck of the “Ocean Queen”: To the Heroes of Colwyn Bay—Nov. 7, 1890 (p. 103)

Dodd, the Hero of Audley Mine (p. 110)

The Brothers: A Ballad of Schleswig-Holstein (p. 114)

*The Heroes of Rhondda Vale (p. 119)

The Drummer Boy of the Malakand Pass (p. 124)

Harley’s Eight: A Ballad of Chitral—April 16, 1895 (p. 127)

Fletcher’s Fight: A Ballad of Nyasa Land (p. 131)

A Lincolnshire Hero (p. 135)

Jacob’s Well: An Incident in the Skirmish of Doornkop, Transvaal (p. 138)

Hosan the Faithful (p. 140)

Brave Plate-Laying (p. 143)

In Honour of E. A. Hatton, Seaman of the “Dunbar Castle” (p. 145)

The “Aidar’s” Master (p. 146)