On the 5th June, escorted by his old brothers-in- arms, by a battalion of Riflemen and by one of his own county regiment, amid the strains of martial music and the booming of guns, the body of our Colonel-Commandant was carried to the old cathedral church of Crediton.
‘Very splendid, very solemn, very stately,’ observed a gifted writer in the Western Morning News, ‘was the ceremonial with which Redvers Henry Buller, the man of whom Devon and the Army were so proud, was yesterday laid to rest hard by the noble fane in which he had so often avowed his allegiance to a greater than any earthly king. . . . There was a grief that walked lonely amid all that glittering panoply too deep, too sacred to be touched on here. But the remarks overheard in the crowd showed that the thousands of unpretentious folk who thronged the streets and churchyard, nearly all of them clad in the most seemly and sombre attire at their command [Even the little children had crape pinned on their frocks], were no mere heedless sightseers, but were indeed mourners, sincere if humble, for one who to so many of them had been, not the grim soldier daring in attack, . . . but the friendly, kindly landlord to whom his tenants and cottagers were neighbours and friends, with all the semi- feudal and wholly delightful mutual ties of confidence and respect. ... It was such a farewell as the General himself, with his strong attachment to his country and his home, would have wished to have.’
For all the two miles which separated Downes from the church the road on either side was thronged with people, some of whom had come from long distances to pay their last tribute of respect; and to us, standing in the churchyard as, with subdued tones, we talk of our hero, the surroundings seem to fade away. We are carried back a generation, and in our mind’s eye see before us, glorying in the intellect and vigour of his manhood, the Buller of the Fed Fiver, the Buller of the Frontier Light Horse, the Buller of Tamai; till the booming of the minute guns firing the last salute startles us from our reverie, and the opening words of solace,' I am the Resurrection and the Life' remind us that we shall meet him again only in that better land, far distant, yet rapidly brightening on the horizon of time, where ‘sorrow and sighing shall flee away.’
Within the church the chancel was carpeted with wreaths of the most beautiful flowers—the last sad offering that love could give. And never did the magnificent words of St. Paul sound more impressive, breathe more of hope and comfort: ‘It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption : it is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory.’
The indescribable pathos of the hymns, ‘Lead, kindly Light,’ and ‘ Peace, perfect peace,’ lent a setting to the touching service; and then, as the coffin was borne from the church, pealed forth the splendid strains of ‘Ten thousand times ten thousand.’
And so ‘we left him alone in his glory,’ and took leave of our noble chief and comrade with the words of triumph ringing in our ears:
Fling open wide the golden gates,
And let the victor in.