Imatges de pàgina

« Oh, bless'd, who drinks the bliss that Hymen yields,
And plucks life's roses in his quiet fields !
Though in his absence hours seem lengthen'd years,
His presence hallows separation's tears.
Oh, clasp'd in dreams, for his delay'd return
Fond arms are stretch'd, and speechless wishes bum!
Love o'er his fever'd soul sheds tears more sweet
Than angels' smiles, when parted angels meet :
To him no fabled paradise is given ;
His very sorrows charm, and breathe of heav'n.
And soon the fairest form that walks below
Shall bless the name of parent in her wo;
Soon o'er her babe shall breathe a mother's pray'r,
And kiss its father's living picture there,
While the young stranger on life's dangerous way
Turns with a smile his blue eye to the day."

The second book of this poem opens finely with an apostrophe to the faithful, conjugal love, and domestic bliss of virtuous Poverty. It is so amiable, and the lesson so nobly Radical, that we cannot resist this passage.

“Oh, faithful Love, by Poverty embraced !
Thy heart is fire, amid a wintry waste;
Thy joys are roses, born on Hecla's brow;
Thy home is Eden, warm amid the snow;
And she, thy mate, when coldest blows the storm,
Clings then most fondly to thy guardian form;
Ev'n as thy taper gives intensest light,
When o'er thy bow'd roof darkest falls the night.
Oh, if thou c'er hast wrong'd her, if thou e'er
From those mild eyes hast caused one bitter tear
To flow unseen,-repent, and sin no more!
For richest gems, compared with her, are poor;
Gold, weigh'd against her heart, is light-is vile,
And when thou sufferest, who shall see her smile?
Sighing, ye wake, and sighing sink to sleep,
And seldom smile, without fresh cause to weep ;
(Scarce dry the pebble, by the wave dash'd o'er,
Another comes to wet it as before ;)
Yet, while in gloom your freezing day declines,
How fair the wintry sunbeam when it shines !
Your foliage, where no summer leaf is seen,
Sweetly embroiders earth's white veil with green ;
And your broad branches, proud of storm-tried strength,
Stretch to the winds in sport their stalwart length,
And calmly wave, beneath the darkest hour,
The ice-born fruit, the frost-defying flower.
Let Luxury, sickening in profusion's chair,
Unwisely pamper his unworthy heir,
And, while he feeds him, blush, and tremble, too!
But, Love and Labour, blush not, fear not, you

Your children, (splinters from the mountain's side,)
With rugged hands, shall for themselves provide.
Parent of valour, cast away thy fear!
Mother of Men, be proud without a tear !
While round your hearth the wo-nursed virtues move,
And all that manliness can ask of love;
Remember Hogarth, and abjure despair,
Remember Arkwright, and the peasant Clare.
Burns o'er the plough sung sweet his woodnotes wild,
And richest SHAKSPEARE was a poor man's child.
Sire green in age, mild, patient, toil-inured,
Endure thine evils, as thou hast endured.
Behold thy wedded daughter, and rejoice!


Hear Hope's sweet accents in a grandchild's voice !
See Freedom's bulwarks in thy sons arise.
And Hampden, Russell, Sidney, in their eyes!
And should some new Napoleon's curse subdue
All hearths but thine, let him behold them, too,
And timely shun a deadlier Waterloo !"

The story of the blind-struck bride, is full of interest and subdued pathos, and knowledge of that most wayward thing, a human heart, which, though not naturally either cruel or bad, is yet not under the guidance of steady principle, and the influence of early-formed good habits.

But it is in the Village Patriarch that the opinions and tendencies of Elliott are first distinctly evolved. He feels like a true and reflecting Englishman the gradual debasement, and rapid impoverishment of the people, from the combined operation of the Poor Laws, the Game Laws, and that hydra-curse the Corn Law, which has given activity to all the misery resulting from the Poor Laws, and made them more injurious to the morals and condition of the people, from the end of the American war till now, or in fifty years, than in all the centuries which have intervened since their institution. The Bread Tax, which, he emphatically says, speaks to him from the trenchers of his ten children, Elliott considers the tap-root of all the evils under which the country is labouring. The scrimped trencher is, indeed, quickening, powerful inspiration. The beer flaggon of himself and his neighbours, drained dry by excessive taxation, is equal to the poet's Helicon, with the minstrel whose only muse is Useful Truth, The account Mr. Elliott has given of the origin of his political poetry, sets the matter in the true light. Nor is it to the philosopher the least valuable section of his writings.

“My poem may be a weed, but it has sprung, unforced, out of existing things. It may not suit the circulating libraries for adult babies ; but it is the earnest product of experience, a retrospect of the past, and an evidence of the present a sign of the times a symptom, terrible, or otherwise, which our state doctors will do well to observe with the profoundest shake of the head; for it affords a prognostic, if not a proof, that Smith and Macculloch must soon be as familiar as Dilworth to school. boys. And is it of no importance what a man of the middle class_hardly raised above the lowest-thinks, when the lowest are beginning to think ? Believing as I do, that the Corn Laws have a direct and rapid tendency to ruin my ten children and their country, with all its venerable and venerated institutions, where is the wonder if I hate the perpetrators of such insane atrocities? Their ancestors, I believe, were good men. The Savilles and the Rockinghams, were not palaced almoners, nor are their successors like the Shelleys and the Lauderdales. But when suicidal anti-profit laws speak to my heart from my children's trenchers; when statutes for restricting the industry of a population, which is only superabundant because it is oppressed, threaten to send me to the treadmill, for the crime of inflicted want; when, in a word, my feelings are hammered till they are cold-short;' habit can no longer bend them to courtesy ; they snap, and fly off in sarcasm. Is it strange that my language is fervent as a welding heat, when my thoughts are passions, that rush burning from my mind, like white-hot bolts of steel? You do not seem to be sufficiently aware of the importance of these low matters of trade ; you do not seem to suspect, that, if the Corn Laws continue much longer, the death-struggle of competition will termivate suddenly !

Like every other powerful thinker, who looks abroad with his eyes open, and whose vision is neither rendered purblind by “ interest-begotten prejudices," nor disturbed by an attempt to accommodate facts to theories, Elliott believes the condition of the great mass of the people to be much worse, than it was even thirty years back; and that the accumulation of capital has been the scattering of well-being, owing to bad government, bad institutions, and unskilful legislation. To prove this may be assumed as the leading moral object of the Village Patriarch.

Enoch Wray, the venerable ruin of an English handicraftsman of the good olden time, has seen a century of years, is blind and povertystricken, but still maintains his independence of character, and his place as the patriarch of the hamlet. He is full of shrewd and sagacious thought, and of ennobling feelings and recollections. The poem opens with a striking description of a day of severe settled frost, and the old blind man groping his way abroad.

“ How lone is he, who, blind and near his end,
Seeks old acquaintance in a stone or tree !
All feeling, and no sight! Oh let him spend
The gloaming hour in chat with memory,
Nor start from dreams, to curse reality,

And friends, more hard and cold than trees and stones.”
The “

poor blind father” is elbowed in his way by

“ Men whose harsh steps have language, cruel tones
That strike his ear and heart, as if with steel !
Where dwelt they, ere corruption's brazen seal
Stamped power's hard image on such dross as theirs.
Thou meanest thing that Heaven endures and spares,
Thou up-start Dandy, with the cheek of lead!
How darest thou from the wall push those grey hairs ?
Dwarf! if He lift a finger thou art dead !

• Some natural tears he drops, but wipes them soon,
And thinks how changed his country and his kind,
Since he in England's and in manhood's noon
Toiled lightly, and earned much ; or, like the wind,
Went forth o'er flowers, with not a care behind ;
And knew nor grief, nor want, nor doubt, nor fear.
Beadle ! how can'st thou smite with speech severe,
One who was reverenced long ere thou was't born ?
No homeless, soulless beggar meets thee here:
Although that threadbare coat is patched and torn,
His bursting heart repels thy taunt with scorn.

You, too, proud dame, whose eye so keenly scans
The king's blind subject on the king's high-road,
You, who much wonder that, with all our plans
To starve the poor, they still should crawl abroad;

Ye both are journeying to the same abode.” But we cannot follow the logical deductions of the lady, nor yet advert to, the beautifully descriptive lines which follow, blended with the recollections of the patriarch. This account of changed manners, and city life, is, if less pleasing, more to our purpose.

" But much he dreads the town's distracting maze,
Where all, to him, is full of change and pain.
New streets invade the country: and he strays,
Lost in strange paths, still seeking, and in vain,
For ancient landmarks, or the lonely lane
Where oft he played at Crusoe, when a boy.
Fire vomits darkness, where his lime-trees grew;
Harsh grates the saw, where coo'd the wood-dove coy ;
Tomb crowds on tomb, where violets drooped in dew ;
And, brighter than bright heav'n the speed-well blue
Cluster'd the bank, where now the town-bred boor
(Victim and wretch, whose children never smile)
Insults the stranger, sightless, old, and poor,

On swill'd Saint Monday, with his cronies vile,
Drunk, for the glory of the holy isle,
While pines his wife and tells to none her woes !
“ Here, Enoch, flaunts no more the wild brier rose,
Nor basks the lizard here, nor harmless snake.
In Spring, no more the broom, all golden glows
O’er the clear rill, that, whimpering through the brake,
Heard thy blithe youth the echoing vale awake.
All that was lovely then is gloomy now.
Then, no strange paths perplex'd thee, no new streets,
Where draymen bawl, while rogues kick up a row;
And fish-wives grin, while fopling fopling meets;
And milk lad his rebellious donkey beats,
While dwarfish cripple shuffles to the wall ;
And hopeless tradesmen sneaks to alehouse mean ;
And imps of beggary curse their dad, and squall
For mammy's gin; and matron, poor and clean,
With tearful eye, begs crust for lodger lean;
And famish'd weaver, with his children three,
Sings hymns for bread ; and legless soldier, borne
In dog-drawn car, imploreth charity;
And thief, with steak, from butcher runs forlorn ;
And debtor bows, while banker smiles in scorn ;
And landed pauper, in his coach and four,
Bound to far countries from a realm betray'd,
Scowls on the crowd, who curse the scoundrel's power,
While coachee grins, and lofty lady's maid
Turns up her nose at bread-tax-paying trade,

Though master bilketh dun, and is in haste.”
The contrast of the scene with the time

“When Locksley o'er the hills of Hallam chased

The wide-horned stag,” is more poetical but less characteristic of Elliott; and we turn to the city-pent widow, who

“ Still tries to make her little garden bloom,
For she was country-born. No weeds appear
Where her poor pinks deplore their prison-tomb;

To them, alas! no second spring shall come !"
We leave the decaying flowers, for the sickly human flower.

“ Pale, dwindled lad, that on her slated shop
Set'st moss and groundsel from the frosty lea!
O'er them no more the tiny wren shall hop :
Poor plants! poor child! I pity them, and thee;
Yet blame I not wise Mercy's high decree :
They fade, thou diest, but thou to live again,
To bloom in heav'n. And will thy flowers be there?
Heav'n, without them, would smile, for thee, in vain.
Thither, poor boy, the primrose shall repair,
There violets breathe of England's dewy air,
And daisies speak of her, that dearest one,

Who then shall bend above thy early bier." We must not follow the widow and her boy farther. Yet more deeply pathetic, in the same strain, is this little incidental notice of the poor women in the Sheffield Factories, soothing toils, which nothing can cheer, by chanting hymns.

“ Hark! music still is here! How wildly sweet,
Like flute-notes in a storm, the psalm ascends
From yonder pile, in traffic's dirtiest street !
There hapless woman at her labour bends,

While with the rattling fly her shrill voice blends,
And ever, as she cuts the headless nail,
She sings, I waited long, and sought the Lord,
And patiently did bear.' A deeper wail
Of sister voices joins, in sad accord,
• He set my feet upon his rock ador'd!'
And then, perchance, “0 God, on man look down !""

Such is the pathetic power, the moral pathetic of this Radical poet. We can remember many picturesque incidents of this nature in the elder poets and romance writers. The peasant chanting the old ballad of the Roncesvalles fight,—the milk-maid's song, so finely introduced by honest Isaac Walton,-and poor Ophelia's snatches of old ballads—but nothing so deeply moving as the minstrelsy of these poor Sheffield tasked workwomen.

The blind patriarch on his ramble, visits an old friend, also blind and bed-ridden. But we cannot go farther into the history of his friend, or of the interview, than to extract a few lines from the prayer which Enoch breathes by the bed-side of Charles. Let us first notice that the patriarch's useful life had been spent in the labours of a stonemason,-almost an architect,—the constructor of country mills, and stanch, enduring, old-fashioned mountain bridges. Charles had been his fellow-labourer, and now Enoch,

6 with hands uplifted reverently,
And heav'nward eyes, upon his bended knees,
Implores the Father of the poor to spare
His pious friend, and cure his long disease ;
Or give him strength his painful load to bear,

That, dying, he may shew what good men are.'”
But we pass to the pith of Enoch's earnest petitions and thanksgivings.

“ Thee, we bless, that he can proudly say
He eats the hoarded bread of industry,
And that he hath not, in his evil day
Tasted the bitterness of parish-pay.
Though frail thy child, like all who weep below,
His life, thou know'st, has been no baneful weed;
He never gather'd where he did not plough,
He reap'd not where he had not scatter'd seed ;
And Christ for wretched sinners deigned to bleed !
At thy tribunal want may be forgiv'n ;
There, to be lowly, is not to be base ;
Oh, then-if equal in the eye of heav'n

Are all the children of the human race,”We break off again abruptly ; leaving the reader to follow out this passage.

The old man, seated in the sunshine of a bright winter's day, gives the poet opportunity for a hasty retrospection of the great public events of the last century; ending with the first French Revolution. This closes with a comparison between Washington and Napoleon, which it rejoices us to see a Radical make; as the name of the latter hero has often proved a meteor that has dazzled and misled too many professing the political faith of Elliott, but with much less knowledge of its fundamental principles.

Some complimentary lines to “ cloud-rolling” Sheffield, and her skilled and independent artisans, free, on the return of the Sabbath, to emerge from the forge, and from the darkness of their six days' toil, lead to this splendid passage :

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