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« Light ! all is not corrupt; for thou art pure,
Unchanged and changeless! Though frail man is vile,
Thou lookst on him serene, sublime, secure,
Yet, like thy Father, with a pitying smile.
Light! we may cloud thy beams, but not defile.
Even on this wintry day, as marble cold,
Angels might quit their homes to visit thee,
And match their plumage with thy mantle, rolled
Beneath God's Throne, or billows of a sea,
Whose isles are worlds, whose bounds infinity.
Why, then, is Enoch absent from my side ?
I miss the rustle of his silver hair ;
A guide no more, I seem to want a guide,
While Enoch journies to the House of Prayer ;
Ah, ne'er came Sabbath day but he was there!
Lo, how, like him, erect and strong, though grey,
Yon village-tower, time-touched, to God appeals!
But, hark! the chimes of morning die away!
Hark! to the heart the solemn sweetness steals,
Like the heart's voice, unfelt by none who feels
That God is Love, that man is living dust." The Sabbath-walk of the toil-freed townsman, with his little children, to whom the very air of Heaven is a rich banquet, is, in tenderness and sweetness, the counterpart of similar descriptions in Grahame; and then we have the skailing of the kirk, which gives room for many little shrewd and sarcastic strokes and sketches of character. We see the spiritless, scorned curate; and are told of the reduced English yeoman and his degenerate successor, and see the ancient home,
"where once dwelt Matthew Hayes,
A trading yeoman of the bygone days.
There, where his fathers sojourned on the plain,
And damn'd the French, yet loved all humankind,
His annual feast was spread, nor spread in vain ;
There his own acres billowed in the wind
Their golden corn. A man of vulgar mind,
He laughed at learning, while he scrawled his cross,
And reared his boy in sloth. But times grew worse ;
War came; and public waste brought private loss." It is useless to follow a common history. The yeoman and his wife die broken-hearted beggars. Their ill-educated son supports a life of degradation and low debauchery, by poaching and theft. Let us turn for comfort to the dwelling, and forget the perished inmates. The English home
-“that sternly could withstand
The storms of more than twice a hundred years!
In such a home was Shakspeare's Hamlet planned ;
And Raleigh's boyhood shed ambitious tears
O'er Colon's wrongs. How proudly it uprears
Its tower of clustered chimneys, tufted o'er
With ivy, ever green amid the grey ;
Yet envy-stung, and muttering ever more
To yon red villa, on the King's highway,
“Thou dandy, I am not of yesterday.'
Time seems to reverence these fantastic walls.
Behold the gables quaint, the cornice strong!
The chambers, bellying over latticed halls !
The oaken tracery, outlasting long
The carven stone!" The following sketch of an intelligent, reasoning, relecting, instructed artisan, is a piece of first-rate Radical poetry. Let us hope, and, with
many late convincing proofs, the very existence of such a man as Elliott forces us to believe, that, among the skilled labourers of the great manufacturing towns, there exist thousands of parallels to the grandson of Miles Gordon, and that the number is rapidly increasing. Blind Enoch starts at hearing a footstep fancied familiar:
“Alas! Miles Gordon ne'er will walk again ;
But his poor grandson's footstep wakes thy tear,
As if indeed thy long-lost friend were near.
Here oft, with fading cheek, and thoughtful brow,
Wanders the youth, town-bred, but desert-born ;
Too early taught life's deepening woes to know,
He wakes in sorrow with the weeping morn,
And gives much labour for a little corn.
In smoke and dust, from hopeless day to day,
He sweats to bloat the harpies of the soil,
Who jail no victim, while his pangs can pay
Untaxing rent, and trebly taxing toil,
They make the labour of his hands their spoil,
And grind him fiercely; but he still can get
A crust of wheaten bread, despite their frowns;
They have not sent him, like a pauper yet,
For workhouse wages, as they send their clowns ;
Such tactics do not answer yet in towns ;
Nor have they gorged his soul. Thrall though he be
Of brutes who bite him, while he feeds them, still
He feels his intellectual dignity;
Works hard, reads usefully, with no mean skill
Writes ; and can reason well of good and ill.
He hoards his weekly groat. His tear is shed
For sorrows which his hard-worn hand relieves.
Too poor, too proud, too just, too wise to wed,
(For slaves enough already toil for thieves,)
How gratefully his growing mind receives
The food which tyrants struggle to withhold !
Though hourly ills his every sense invade,
Beneath the cloud that o'er his home is rolled,
He yet respects the power which man hath made,
Nor loathes the despot-humbling sons of trade.
-But when the silent Sabbath-day arrives,
He seeks the cottage bordering on the moor,
Where his forefathers passed their lowly lives,
Where still his mother dwells, content, though poor,
And ever glad to meet him at the door.
Oh, with what rapture he prepares to fly
From streets and courts, with crime and sorrow strewed,
And bids the mountain lift him to the sky!
How proud to feel his heart not all subdued !
How happy to shake hands with solitude!
Still, Nature, still he loves thy uplands brown,
The rock that o'er his father's freehold towers !
And strangers hurrying through the dingy town,
May know his workshop by its sweet wild flowers,
Cropped on the Sabbath from the hedge-side bowers.” Elliott's early passion for flowers breaks forth in the sequel to this description, as in many other places of his poetry; but all this we give up, deeming, since we cannot transfer his volumes altogether to our pages, the useful better than the beautiful.
Our Artisan-poet, in his pride of intelligence, and intellectual superiority, is occasionally somewhat severe, if not unjust, in speaking of agricultural labourers. And yet, with saddened hearts, we must subscribe to the painul truth of this picture. The writer is describing the worst con
dition of the toil-worn artisan, dragging the chain of life along, all but hopeless; and still, in all that distinguishes man from brute, so far above the rural labourer :
“How unlike thee, though once erect and proud,
Is England's peasant slave, the trodden down,
The parish-paid, in soul and body bowed !
How unlike thee, is Jem, the rogue avowed,
Whose trade is poaching! Honest Jem works not,
Begs not; but thrives by plundering beggars here.
Wise as a lord, and quite as good a shot,
He, like his betters, lives in hate and fear,
And feeds on partridge, because bread is dear.
Sire of six sons, apprentice to the jail,
He prowls in arms, the Tory of the night.
With them he shares his battles and his ale ;
With him they feel the Majesty of might;
No despot better knows that Power is Right.
Mark his unpaidish sneer, his lordly frown;
Hark! how he calls beadle and flunky liars ;
See, how magnificently he breaks down
His neighbour's fence." The comparison between Jem poaching in the squire's covers, and the Tory poaching on society at large is felicitous. By this time the reader surely sees that our Radical Poet is no ordinary versifier,power, beauty, tenderness, are alike his elements. We have given instances of them all, and might multiply them, page after page, if this were admissable. He only fails decidedly in attempts at light humour ; for abruptness, and occasional want of attention to minute finish, produce only those trivial blemishes which are not worthy notice. His vocation, as a poet and as a man, is to furnish the original metal in rods and bars, leaving to the less strong-armed, though more patient workman, to mould and finish into all kinds of useful instruments or pretty toys. Elliott is indeed too earnest and conscientious to succeed in humour. He is too deeply affected with his subject to sport, and dally, and trifle with it. We there. fore feel Alice Green, and all about that old lady, tiresome, and out of place; and this is the more provoking, as we suspect our author, without any affection for Alice himself, has introduced her, mistakingly enough, for the entertainment and relief of his readers. But, by this time, Mr. Elliott knows that the public are in the vein of witnessing his tragedy and serious comedy, without interlude of any kind. The world, for nearly four hundred years, has never been in so earnest a temper as now, nor in one so fitted to relish the poetry which grows out of this disposi. tion_his Radical poetry.
With whatever reluctance, we must pass all Mr. Elliott's heartfelt and beautiful descriptions of the scenery around Sheffield. They will survive to ennoble his town when much of it, of great present value, shall hare for ever perished. It is enough that he has made us familiar with the finest aspects of the streams, the moors, and the hills of Hallamshire, in strains of noble poetry. The desperate, reckless grinder, who,
“Born to die young, nor fears nor man nor death"we must also pass; and, what is more important, the vision, philosophie and political, of old Enoch, to whom the spirit of the regicide Bradshaw comes, in the night-watches, running over, with a spirit's fiery glance, the history of degenerate England. In this Dante vision, Pitt and Castlereagh-"ice-hearted dog !"--are not forgotten; and long shall we look
in fashionable pages for poetry of the same boldness and energy. It would , be doing positive injustice to the poet, to attempt any extract of this vision; nor can we enter on the tragic episode of Hannah Wray, exposing the effects of the cruel and detestable game-laws; nor yet on Enoch's visit to the churchyard, that now vital spot to him ; and of his groping among the tomb-stones, reading, for the last time, with his fingers, the inscription he had chiselled on the head-stone which marked where his wife and children reposed--the babe of a day, the infant of thirty weeks, the man of fifty years, all
“Children of Enoch and of Mary Wray.” Let us hasten to the close. In a lovely April evening, the patriarch sits in the cheerful sun,
“stooping his tresses grey,
To hear the stream, his ancient neighbour, run,
Young, as if Time had yesterday begun.
Heaven's gates are like an angel's wing, with plumes
Of glorious green, and purply gold, on fire;
Through rifts of mount'nous clouds, the light illumes
Hill tops and woods that, pilgrim-like, retire ;
And, like a giant torch, burns Morthen spire.
Primrosy odours, violet-mingled, float
O'er blue bells and ground ivy, on their wings
Bearing the music of the blackbird's note.
Beneath the dewy cloud the wood-lark sings,
But on our father's heart no gladness flinys.
Mary bends o'er him mute. Her youngest lad
Grasps, with small hand, his grandsire's finger fast.
Well knows the old man that the boy is sad;
And the third Mary, as she hurries past,
Trembles, and looks towards the town aghast.” These symptoms foretell an execution for rent in the house of his sonin-law, where his old age had long found refuge:
6 The Bible of his sires is marked for sale ;
But degradation is to him despair.
The hour is come which Enoch cannot bear;
But he can die !" And the Village Patriarch dies, the “last of England's king-souled poor.” Though tenderness that thrills, and a homely, earnest power that stirs and warms the breast, are the distinguishing excellencies of Elliott's poetry, the strong arm of the Artisan has a bolder sweep, his lyre grander, and more majestic and swelling tones. The final close of this poem rises to the true sublime :
“Bid the mountains weep for Enoch Wray,
And for themselves, albeit of things that last
Unaltered most ; for they shall pass away
Like Enoch, though their iron roots seem fast
Bound to the eternal Future, as the Past !
The Patriarch died, and they shall be no more.
Yes! and the sailless worlds which navigate
Th' unutterable deep that hath no shore,
Will lose their starry splendour, soon or late,
Like tapers, quenched by Him whose will is fate !
Yes, and the Angel of Eternity,
Who numbers worlds, and writes their names in light,
Ere long, oh, Earth! will look in vain for thee,
And start, and stop, in his unerring flight,
And, with his wings of sorrow and affright,
Veil his impassioned brow."
NO. VIII. VOL, II.
The Corn-Law Rhymes, we have said, are a collection of poems all bearing on one great point, but of unequal merit. The longest is entitled the Ranter; which, with Elliott, means a field preacher of the bold and free spirit of the old Scottish Covenanters. He is the same Miles Gordon lamented by the Village Patriarch. The home of the many-childed widow, in whose humble dwelling he occupies a prophet's chamber! the Sabbath morning preparations, the out-door worship “ on Shirecliffe's lofty side,” the surrounding scenery, the gradual dispersion of the mists, and the brightening of the morning, are all beautifully described ; but our readers will prize more a few “notes” of the energetic Radical sermon. And first, we have a denunciation of the Wesleyan Methodists, and an assertion of the right of out-door worship.
« « Wo be unto you, Scribes and Pharisees,
Who eat the widow's and the orphan's bread,
And make long prayers to hide your villanies,'
Said He who had not where to lay his head ;
And wandering forth, while blew the Sabbath breeze,
Pluck'd ears of corn, with humble men, like these.
God blames not him who toils six days in seven,
Where smoke and dust bedim the golden day,
If he delight, beneath the dome of heaven,
To hear the winds, and see the clouds at play,
Or climb his hills, amid their flowers to pray.
Ask ye, if I, of Wesley's followers one,
Abjure the house where Wesleyans bend the knee?
I do_because the spirit thence is gone;
And truth, and faith, and grace, are not, with me,
The Hundred Popes of England's Jesuitry.
We hate not the religion of bare walls ;
We scorn not the cathedral'd pomp of prayer ;
For sweet are all our Father's festivals,
If contrite hearts the heavenly banquet share,
In field or temple : God is everywhere!
But we hate arrogance and selfishness,
Come where they may-and most beneath the roof
Sacred to public worship; we profess
No love for him who feels no self-reproof
When in God's house he stands from God aloof,
Nor worship we grim Mars the homicide ;
Our prayers are not for slaughter; we behold
With scorn, sectarian and prelatic pride,
Slaves, if not bought, too willing to be sold,
Christians misnamed, whose gods are blood and gold.
What are the deeds of men call'd Christian, now?
They roll themselves in dust before the great ;
Wherever Mammon builds a shrine, they bow:
And would nail Jesus to their cross of hate,
Should He again appear in mean estate.
Pleasant, repaid by splendid beauty's smile,
Praised by the proud, to flatter power and pride,
And prate of independence all the while;
Pleasant and safe, down sunny streams to glide ;
But virtue fronts the blast, and breasts the tide.
Where are their protests,' monthly, weekly made,
Against Abaddon's Corn Law, and his sword ?
Where their petitions for unfetter'd trade ?
Where their recorded execrations, pour'd
On blood stain'd tyrants, and the servile horde ?
When earth wept blood, that wolves might lap and swill,
And pleading mercy was'a trampled worm,
Basely they pander'd to the slayer's will;
And still their spells they mutter in the storm,
Retarding long the march of slow reform."