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Rudyard Kipling is reviled by liberal literature teachers as a “writer of jingles.”  They ridicule him as not worth the time of “those who can read.”  I simply hope that someday they’ll be able to read well enough to appreciate the utter genius of his work.  Of course, it requires the reader be not only literate, but versed in history.  How many college professors are both?

I’m quite sure that this work, one of many from The Master, won’t bring tears to the eyes of the anti-gun nuts.

Let us pity them this lack of sensitivity.

~~ Michael Z. Williamson

Brown Bess
The Army Musket -- 1700-1815  

by Rudyard Kipling

In the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
  Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise--
An out-spoken, flinty-lipped brazen-faced jade,
  With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes--

At Blenheim and Ramilies fops would confess
  They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

Though her sight was not long and her weight was not small,
  Yet her actions were winning, her language was clear;

And everyone bowed as she opened the ball

  On the arm of some high-gaitered, grim grenadier.

Half Europe admitted the striking success
  Of the dances and routs that were given by Brown Bess.

When ruffles were turned into stiff leather stocks,
  And people wore pigtails instead of perukes,

Brown Bess never altered her iron-grey locks.

  She knew she was valued for more than her looks.
“Oh, powder and patches was always my dress,
  And I think I am killing enough,” said Brown Bess.

So she followed her red-coats, whatever they did,
  From the heights of Quebec to the plains of Assaye,

From Gibraltar to Acre, Cape Town and Madrid,

  And nothing about her was changed on the way;

(But most of the empire which now we possess
  Was won through those years by old-fashioned Brown Bess.)

In stubborn retreat or in stately advance,
  From the Portugal coast to the cork-woods of Spain,

She had puzzled some excellent Marshals of France

  ‘Till none of them wanted to meet her again:

But later, near Brussels, Napoleon--no less--
  Arranged for a Waterloo Ball with Brown Bess.

She had danced till the dawn of that terrible day--
  She danced till the dusk of more terrible night,

And before her linked squares his battalions gave way,

  And her long fierce quadrilles put his lancers to flight:

And when his gilt carriage drove off in the press,
  “I have danced my last dance for the world!” said Brown Bess.

If you go to museums--there’s one in Whitehall---
  Where old weapons are shown with their names writ beneath,

You will find her, upstanding, her back to the wall,

  As stiff as a ramrod, the flint in her teeth.

And if ever we English had reason to bless

  Any arm save our mothers’, that arm is Brown Bess!

Printer Version

The right of the people to keep and bear...arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country... — James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789.

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