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It is agreeable to turn from the Cadi-Dervises, or justice-parsons of the present day, held up to loathing and bitter scorn, in the severe, but truthful, not satiric page of Elliott to passages like this.
"Oh, for a Saint, like those who sought and found,
For conscience' sake, sad homes beyond the main,
The Fathers of New England, who unbound,
In wild Columbia, Europe's double chain;
The men whose dust cries, "Sparta, lite again!
The slander'd Calvinists of Charles's time
Fought, and they won it, Freedom's holy fight.
Like prophet-bards, although they hated rhyme,
All incorruptible as Heaven's own light,
Spoke each devoted preacher for the right.
No servile doctrines, such as power approvés,
They to the poor and broken-hearted taught;
With truths that tyrants dread, and conscience loves,
They wing'd and barb’d the arrows of their thought;
Sin in high places was the mark they sought.
They said not, “ Man, be circumspect, and thrive!
Be mean, base, slavish, bloody—and prevail !
Nor doth the Deity they worshipp'd drive
His four-in-hand, applaud a smutty tale,
Send Members to the House, and us to gaol.
With zeal they preach'd, with reverence they were heard ;
For in their daring creed, sublime, sincere,
Danger was found, that parson-hated word;
They flatter'd nonethey knew nor hate nor fear,
But taught the will of God and did here.
Even as the fire-winged thunder rends the cloud,
Their spoken lightnings, dazzling all the land,
Abash'd the foreheads of the great and proud,
Stilld faction's roar, as by a God's command,
And meekend Cromwell of the iron hand.” Against the “ Cadi-Amateur,” or fashionable Tory saint, the Ranter next launches his moral thunders; and let those who would understand the might of Radical poetry, read the following disjointed extracts, which we wish much we could give more entire :
« Dost thou, thus early, mighty lord, repair
To yonder fane ? 'Tis well. Go, and in tears
Kneel, holy wretch, although the Sabbath air
Is weary of thy long unpunish'd prayer.
Thou, who with hellish zeal, wast drunk and blind,
When tyrants, cloven-hoof'd in heart and brain,
Made murder pastime ; and the tardy wind
Bore fresh glad tidings o'er the groaning main
Of hecatombs on Moloch's altar slain !
Kneel, Saint of Carnage !-kneel, but not to Baal ;
Kneel, but alone, with none to laud thy zeal ;
For the hour cometh when the reed shall fail
On which the wicked lean. But wherefore kneel ?
Can the worn stone repent, and weep, and feel ?
Still harder granite forms the bosom core
Of him who laugh'd when freedom's thousands fell.
Hark ! 'tis the voice, that erst of battle's roar
Was wont too oft from yonder tower to tell,
Pealing, at thy command, o'er crash and yell,
And fiend-like faces, reddening in the light
Of streets, that crimson'd midnight with their glares
When England hired the hell-hounds of the fight,
Because men broke, in their sublime despair,
The bonds which nature could no longer bear!
Hark! 'tis the iron voicel and still to thee
It speaks of death. Perchance, some child of clay,
Some wo-worn thrall of long iniquity,
Some drudge, whose mate can get afford to pay
For decent pray’rs, treading the gloomy way
Which all must tread, is gone to her long rest,
And last account ;-a dread one thine will be !
Of means atrocious, used for ends unbless'd !
And joy-for what?- for guilty victory ;
States bought and sold, by fraud to tyranny!
Slaves arm'd to kill; the free by slaves enslaved ;
Red havoc's carnival from shore to shore ;
Sons slaughter'd, widows childless, realms depraved ;
And Britain's treasures pourd in seas of gore,
Till lords ask alms, and fiercely growl for more!
Yes, when your country is one vast disease,
And failing fortunes sadden every door,
These, O ye quacks, these are your remedies ;
Alms for the rich !-a bread-tax for the poor !
Soul-purchased harvests on the indigent moor!
Thus the wing'd victor of a hundred fights,
The warrior ship, bows low her banner'd head,
When through her planks the sea-born reptile bites
Its deadly way—and sinks in ocean's bed,
Vanquish'd by worms. What then? The worms were fed.
Will not God smite thee black, thou whited wall ?
Thy life is lawless, and thy law a lie,
Or nature is a dream unnatural.”
What follows is an original mode of illustrating the principles of Free Trade.
“ Look on the clouds, the streams, the earth, the sky!
Lo, all is interchange and harmony !
Where is the gorgeous pomp which, yester morn,
Curtain'd yon orb, with amber, fold on fold?
Behold it in the blue of Rivelin, borne
To feed the all-feeding seas! the molten gold
Is flowing pale in Loxley's crystal cold,
To kindle into beauty tree and flower,
And wake to verdant life, hill, vale, and plain.
Cloud trades with river, and exchange is power :
But should the clouds, the streams, the winds disdain
Harmonious intercourse, nor dew nor rain
Would forest-crown the mountains : airless day
Would blast, on Kinderscout, the heathy glow ;
No purply green would meeken into grey,
O'er Don at eve; no sound of river's flow
Disturb the sepulchre of all below.”
Pursuing the same subject the Ranter breaks out,
“Is there no land where useful men are prized
By those they feed? Or will there never be
For hope a refuge, and a dwelling place,
Where tyrants, in their mad rapacity,
Shake not their clench'd fists in the Almighty's face,
And cry "Thou fool!' Shall glorious seas embrace
A thousand shores in vain ? Shall paupers grow,
Where he hath said the eagle's young shall feed ?
Shall hopeless tears to water deserts flow,
While flow his mighty streams, with none to heed,
And make fertility a baneful weed ?
Poor bread-tax'd slaves, have ye no hope on earth ?
Yes, God from evil still educes good ;
Sublime events are rushing to their birth;
Lo, tyrants by their victims are withstood !
And Freedom's seed still grows, though steep'd in blood !"
We must give a few lines from the concluding exhortation of the Preacher, and his animated address to Commerce.
« Despond not, then, ye plunder'd sons of trade!
Hope's wounded wing shall yet disdain the ground,
And Commerce, while the powers of evil fade,"
Shout o'er all seas, “all lands for me were made !
Her's are the apostles, destined to go forth
Upon the wings of mighty winds, and preach
Christ Crucified! To her the South and North
Look through their tempests; and her lore shall reach
Their farthest ice, if life be there to teach.
Yes, world-reforming Commerce! one by one
Thou vanquishest earth's tyrants ! and the hour
Cometh, when all shall fall before thee-gone
Their splendour, fall’n their trophies, lost their power,
Then o'er th' enfranchised nations wilt thou shower,
Like dewdrops from the pinions of the dove,
Plenty and peace; and never more on thee
Shall bondage wait; but, as the thoughts of love,
Free shalt thou fly, unchainable and free ;
And men, thenceforth, shall call thee Liberty.
“ Farewell, my friends! we part, no more to meet
As trampled worms; but we shall meet again
At God's right hand, and our Redeemer's feet !
And oft! how oft! Meantime, your solemn strain
Shall roll from Shirecliffe's side, o'er vale and plain.
Oh, keep the seventh day holy, wheresoe’er
Ye be, poor sons of toil! sell not to those
Who sold your freedom, sell not for a sneer
Your day of rest ; but worship God, where glows
The flame-tipp'd spire, or blooms the wild-wood rose.
Hallow this day to gladness.” So much for the serious and earnest poetry of the Corn-Law Rhymes. A specimen of what is lighter in tone, though probably as effective, remains to be given; and, at a loss what to choose, we select, at random, a few stanzas of a kind of hymn.
“Up, widow, up, and swing the fly;
Or push the grating file !
Our bread is tax’d, and rents are high,
That wolves may burst with bile.
Sire of the hopeless ! canst thou sleep ?
Up, up, and toil for gouls,
Who drink our tears, but never weep,
And, soulless, eat our souls.
“Child, what hast thou with sleep to do?
Awake, and dry thine eyes :
Thy tiny hands must labour too;
Our bread is tax'd, arise !
Arise, and toil long hours twice seven,
For pennies two or three;
Thy woes make angels weep in Heaven,
But England still is free!
“Up, weary man, of eighty-five,
And toil in hopeless wo!
Our bread is tax’d, our rivals thrive,
Our gods will have it so.
Yet God is undethron'd on high,
And undethroned will be!
Father of all! hear Thou our cry,
And England shall be free!
66 They smite in vain who smite with swords,
And scourge with vollied fire;
Our weapon is the whip of words,
And truth's all-teaching ire ;
The blow it gives, the wound it makes,
Life yet unborn shall see,
And shake it, like a whip of snakes,
At unborn villany." The Death Feast is full of deep, touching pathos; and in the sarcastic vein we have Caged Rats, the Black Hole of Calcutta, and others; though these are the least our favourites.
The Splendid Village yet remains. It is a sequel to the Village Patriarch, and the most finished and beautiful of all Mr. Elliott's political poems. It has, however, appeared so recently in a periodical work that we must limit our extracts. The Splendid Village is the modern Auburn, It is re-visited by a lonely wanderer from foreign lands, who had spent his boyhood here, and who bitterly feels, and feelingly describes the changes visible, at his return, on every thing around him; and most of all on the hearts and minds of the degraded and brutalized poor. He enters a hovel :
“ My brother dwelt within. 'Tis true, he took
My offer'd hand, but froze me with a look
So trouble-worn and lost, so hard yet dull,
That I shrank from him, though my heart was full :
I sought society, but stood alone,
I came to meet a man, and found a stone !
His wife, in tatters, watch'd the fireless grate ;
Three boys sate near her, all in fierce debate,
And all in rags- but one constructing snares,
With which, at night, to choke Lord Borough's hares.
My sister Rose had parish pay,' they said,
* And Ann was sent abroad, and Jane was dead;
And these misfortunes laid my sire beside
The mother, who in better days had died.'
Such welcome found the wanderer of the deep !
I had no words--I sobb'd, but could not weep." Mr. Suckemwell, the keeper of the Modern Academy, which had taken place of the primitive village school ; the poor curate and his lame donkey on their Sunday steeple-chase ; the miserable usher,
“Servant of servants, brow-beat by a knave!" we must hurry past to come to the Attorney, whose mushroom pomp flourishes under the shadow of
“ Broad Beech! thyself a grove! five hundred years
Speak in thy voice, of bygone hopes and fears;
And mournfully, how mournfully! the breeze
Sighs through thy boughs, and tells of cottages
That, happy once, beneath thy shadow gazed
On poor men's fields, which poor men's cattle grazed !
Now, where three cotters and their children dwelt,
The lawyer's pomp alone is seen and felt;
And the park entrance of his acres three,
Uncrops the ground which fed a family.
What then? All see, he is a man of State,
With his three acres, and his park-like gate!
Besides, in time, if times continue dark,
His neighbour's woes may buy his gate a purk !
Oh, then, let trade wear chains, that toil may find
No harvests on the barren sea and wind;
Nor glean, at home, the fields of every zone ;
Nor make the valleys of all climes his own ;
But with the music of his hopeless sigh
Charm the blind worm that feeds on poverty !"
In drawing to a close, we feel as if, in the account we have given of Elliott's poetry, lengthened as it is, we have rather done justice to his vigour and peculiarities as a powerful thinker, than to the extreme beauty, delicacy, and sensibility of his genius as a poet. The fount of his inspiration is the lacerated and bleeding heart; the “ Parnassian dews” in which his Muse steeps her verse, are real human tears. Our remaining space must be devoted to illustrating this, only noting that the Splendid Village is studded full of descriptions that equal Crabbe in their truth, and surpass him in sweetness and heart-wringing tenderness, and in power to move the hidden springs of pity. The wanderer, who had so long
“ Ploughed the seas to reap the wind," has a secret cause of sorrow, which the lover " of imagination all compact" cannot reveal. He misses, from the changed village, one whom he had injured and deserted, but had not ceased to love.
“I dreamed I saw her, heard her ; but she fled !
In vain I seek her-is she with the dead ?
No meek blue eye, like hers, hath turned to me,
And deigned to know the pilgrim of the sea.
I have not named her--10-I dare not name!
When I would speak, why burns my cheek with shame ?
I joined the schoolboys, where the road is wide,
I watched the women to the fountain's side ;
I read their faces, as the wise read books,
And looked for Hannah, in their wondering looks;
But in no living aspect could I trace
The sweet May morning of my Hannah's face ;
No, nor its evening, fading into night :
Oh, Sun, my soul grows weary of thy light!" He learns of her at last, and the manner of her death-too horrible for poetry, the critics may say-drives him almost to frenzy. He hurries back to sea.
“Oh, welcome once again black ocean's foam !
England ? Can this be England ? this my home?
This country of the crime without a name,
And men who know nor mercy, hope, nor shame ?
Oh, Light! that cheer'st all life, from sky to sky,
As with a hymn, to which the stars reply!
Canst thou behold this land, oh, Holy Light!
And not turn black with horror at the sight?
Fallen country of my fathers! fallen and foul !
The body still is here, but where the soul ?
I look upon a corpse' putrid clay-
And fiends possess it! Vampires, quit your prey !
Or vainly tremble, when the dead arise,
Clarioned to vengeance by shriek-shaken skies
And cranch your hearts, and drink your blood for ale !
Then, eat each other"-
We shall conclude these long extracts with the Farewell to England,
“ Again upon the deep I toss and swing!
The bounding billow lifts me, like the wing
Of the struck eagle; and away I dart,
Bearing afar the arrow in my heart.