When gentlemen wearied of castle and court
In kingdoms that flourished of yore,
They deemed it a pleasant and elegant sport
To mix for a while in war,
And skill with the mace and the crossbow and lance—
Good well-seasoned killing ability—
Enrolled a man’s name on the scroll of romance
As a person of lofty gentility.
When guns were invented the man who could aim
With a steady and murderous eye
Was the man who excelled in the gentleman’s game
And whose rank was uncommonly high.
Nobility rated according as men
In murder grew cunning and keen;
The gentle killed five and the gentler killed ten,
While the gentlest killed twelve or fifteen.
And now, when the howitzers mow down a crowd
With a single discharge of a shell,
The gentlemen soldiers should feel very proud
For they seem to be doing quite well.
When sometimes a couple of thousand or more
Are slaughtered by one cannonade,
It can’t be denied that the business of war
Is still a real gentleman’s trade.