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Short poem

Selected Poetry of Sir Alfred Comyn Lyall (1835-1911)

from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

Hard to be silent and have no credit
From man in this world, or reward in the next;
None to bear witness and reckon the cost
Of the name that is saved by the life that is lost.
        (Theology in Extremis: Or a soliloquy, 117-120)
  1. Studies at Delhi, 1876
  2. Theology in Extremis: Or a soliloquy

Notes on Life and Works

Born on January 4, 1835, in Coulston, Surrey, Lyell received his education at Eton and Haileybury College. He joined the Indian civil service at Bulandshahr in the Doab in 1856 and served in many capacities until his retirement in 1887. After being honoured for fighting in the Mutiny in 1857-58, Lyall successively became commissioner of Nagpur, commissioner of West Berar, the governor-general's agent in Rajputana, and (from 1878 to 1881) foreign secretary to the Government of India. During this period he helped negotiate peace and a monarchy in Afghanistan, a solution that earned him more honours, the C.B. (1879) and K.C.B. (1881). His last position, as Lieutenant-governor of the North-west Provinces and Oudh, enabled him to introduce local self-government there. After returning to England, Lyall served on the India Council from 1888 to 1902, and then as a privy councillor under Edward VII. These services earned him a K.C.I.E (1887) and a G.C.I.E. (1896). Throughout his life Lyall enjoyed the life of a man of letters, historian, essayist, and poet. His literary achievements brought him advanced degrees, a D.C.L. from Oxford (1889) and an LL.D. from Cambridge (1891), a fellowship at King's College Cambridge (1893), and membership in the British Academy (1902), among other honours. He and Cora Cloete of Cape Town married in 1863 and had four children, both sons and daughters. He died of a heart attack on April 10, 1911, and is interred at Harbledown, near the Canterbury of Chaucer's General Prologue.

Biographical information

Given name: Alfred Comyn
Family name: Lyall
Title: Sir
Birth date: 4 January 1835
Death date: 10 April 1911
Nationality: English
Family relations
          wife: Cora Cloete
          Eton, England
          Haileybury College
          C.B.: 1879
          K.C.B.: 1881
          K.C.I.E.: 1887
          D.C.L., Oxford University: 1889
          LL.D., Cambridge University: 1891
          G.C.I.E.: 1896
          Member, British Academy: 1902
          Soldier: 1856 to 1858
          Indian Civil Service: 1858 to 1887
          Coulston, Surrey, England: 1835
          India: 1856
          England: 1887 to 1911
Cause of death: Heart disease
Buried at: Harbledown, Kent, England
First RPO edition: 2001