Corn Law Rhymes and Other Poems (2)
Home Up Autobiography Biographical Biographical Misc Poems Main Index Site Search


 

BURNS, FROM THE DEAD.


MACLATHER, the radical barber of Perth,
Was the saddest of all politicians on earth;
But his business increased, while his thoughts darker
        grew
For his shop was a news-shop, and barber's shop too.
One night he lay sleepless, reflecting with awe
On the laws of the lawless, and wrongs that are law,
When a stranger approach'd, with a voice and a stride
That awoke the good woman asleep at his side.
Like Tell from the torrent, or Burns from the brae,
Or Cromwell in youth, or the Hampden of Gray,
He came—and around his broad brow, as he spoke,
His black locks were curl'd, like the gnarl of the oak.
But his voice—oh! its tones were the music of scorn,
The laugh of a trumpet, impatient for morn!
"Come, bring me a pen, boy! and all shall know soon
That still I am Bobby, the bard o' the Doon;
Yes, bring me a pen, and I'll write thee an ode
On the law that sends tax-eaten Britons abroad."
"Aye, write me," said Mac, with a sigh like a rope,
"An ode on the bread-tax, that banishes hope,"
Mac brought him a pen, and he took it and wrote,
While laughing, while talking, while glooming in
        thought,
While glow'ring at Meg, who lay mute as the grave,
As he hutch'd up his breeches, then scribbled a stave.

"Awake sate the Devil, and felt quite unwell
With scheming how best he might send souls to hell,
When at last he exclaim'd, as he rose with a spring,
' A Bread-tax, a Bread-tax, will just be the thing!
To beggar the wealthy, by robbing the poor,
To mortgage the meadow, by stealing the moor,
To turn into monsters the young and the old,
There's nought like a Bread. tax, with paper or gold.
France, once the great nation, held others in scorn;
But when could France boast of her kings of dear corn?
In the page of her glory bright names may be read,
But the ace of all titles is ' Lord of Dear Bread.'
Rome rose like the sun, but in darkness to set,
For her Lords of the Bread-tax Rome never had yet;
Her heroes, and Neroes, great names we may call,
But Lord of the Bread-tax, is greater than all.
A Bread-tax will bring me, all cursing dear corn,
The proud and the splendid, the tatter'd and torn,
From palace and hovel, from woodland and street,
At my table as equals and brothers to meet.
There seated with me, round the broad brimstone bowl,
They shall quaff the true blue for the health of the
        soul;
And pledge me in bumpers with horror for glee,
May the God of the good send all Tories to me!
My philosopher's stone is the moral sublime
A Bread-tax will turn all it touches to crime.
Then hey for a Bread-tax! hark forward, soho!
That my halls may be cramm'd with the high and the
        low.'
So saying, he hied to the bought and the sold,
And whisper'd the haughty, the base and the cold,
Where they lay in their venom, all toad-like and grim,
How to damn souls on earth, and fill hell to the brim."
Thus ended the poet—and fled like a dream,
O'er valley, and torrent, and woodland, and stream,
Through scenes of his loves, in the morn of his day,
When he met the fond lasses among the sweet hay.
And the moon and the stars, over mountain and moor,
Look'd slyly on Bobby, the honest and poor,
While he thought of the sprees o' the bonny lang
        syne,
When the gloss of his locks was like gold from the
        mine.

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


ELEGY.


OH Huskisson!  oh,  Huskisson!
Oh, Huskisson, in vain our friend!
Why hast thou left thy work undone?
Of good begun is this the end?
Thou should'st have lived, if they remain
Who fetter'd us, and hated thee.
Oh Huskisson, our friend in vain!
Where now are hope and liberty?
Thou should'st have lived, if with thee dies
The poor man's hope of better days.
Time stops, to weep, but yet shall rise
The sun whose beams shall write thy praise.
The widow weeps—but what is she,
And what her paltry, common woe?
Worlds weep—and millions fast for thee;
Our hope is gone! why didst thou go?
Pleased hell awhile suspends his breath,
Then, shouts in joy, and laughs in hate;
And plague, and famine, call on death,
Their jubilee to celebrate.
A shadow bids improvement stand,
While faster flow a nation's tears.
Oh, dead man! with thy pallid hand,
Thou rollest back the tide of years!

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


THE BLACK HOLE OF CALCUTTA.


WHAT for Saxon, Frank, and Hun,
What hath England's bread-tax done?
Ask the ruin it hath made;
Ask of bread-tax-ruin'd trade;
Ask the struggle and the groan,
For the shadow of a bone,
Like a strife for life, for life,
Hand to hand, and knife to knife.

Hopeless trader, answer me!   [note 1]
What hath bread-tax done for thee?
Ask thy lost and owing debts;
Ask our bankrupt-throng 'd Gazettes,
Clothier, proud of Peterloo!
Ironmaster, loyal, too!
What hath bread-tax done for you?
Let the Yankee tariff tell,
None to buy, and all to sell;
Useless buildings, castle strong,
Hundred thousands, worth a song;
Starving workmen, warehouse full,
Saxon web, from Polish wool,
Grown where grew the wanted wheat,
Which we might not buy and eat.
Merchant, bread-tax'd-trade wont pay,
Profits lessen every day;
Sell thy stock and realize,
Let thy streeted chimneys rise;
And when bread-tax'd ten are two,
Learn what bread-tax'd rents can do.
Sneak! that wouldst for groat a year
Sell thy soul, and sell it dear!
Self-robb'd servile! sold, not bought,
For the shadow of a groat!
Unbribed Judas! what thy gain,
By sad Europe's millions slain—
By our treasures, pour'd in blood
Over battle-field and flood—
Bread-tax'd profits, endless care,
Competition in despair.
With thy bile and with thy gear,
Wheels and shuttles gainless here,
With the remnant of thy all,
Whither, reptile, wilt thou crawl?
What bath bread-tax done for me?
Farmer, what for thine and thee?
Ask of those who toil to live,
And the price they cannot give;
Ask our hearths, our gainless marts,
Ask thy children's broken hearts,
Ask their mother, sad and grey,
Destined yet to parish pay.

Bread-tax'd weaver, all can see
What that tax hath done for thee,
And thy children, vilely led,
Singing hymns for shameful bread,
Till the stones of every street
Know their little naked feet.

Building laywer's nominee,
What hath bread-tax done for thee?
Ask thy fainting thoughts, that strive
But to keep despair alive;
Ask thy list of friends betray'd,
Houses empty, rents unpaid,
Rising streets and falling rents,
Money fights for half percents;
Ask yon piles, all bread-tax-built,
Guiltless, yet the cause of guilt,
Swallowing fortunes, spreadlng woes,
Losing, to make others lose.

Bread-tax-eating absentee,
What bath bread-tax done for thee?—
Cramm'd thee, from our children's plates,
Made thee all that nature hates,
Fill'd thy skin with untax'd wine,
Fill'd thy purse with cash of mine,
Fill'd thy breast with hellish schemes,
Fill'd thy head with fatal dreams—
Of potatoes basely sold
At the price of wheat in gold,
And of Britons sty'd to eat
Wheat-priced roots, instead of wheat.

England! what for mine and me,
What bath bread-tax done for thee?
It hath shown what kinglings are,
Stripp'd the hideous idols bare,
Sold thy greatness, stain'd thy name,
Struck thee from the rolls of fame,
Given thy fields to civil strife,
Changed thy falchion for the knife,
To th' invading knout consign'd
Basest back, and meanest mind,
Cursed thy harvests, cursed thy land,
Hunger-stung thy skill'd right hand,
Sent thy riches to thy foes,
Kick'd thy breech, and tweak'd thy nose,
And beneath the western skies,
Sown the worm that never dies.

Man of Consols, hark to me!
What shall bread-tax do for thee?
Rob thee for the dead-alive,
Pawn thy thousands ten for five,
And, ere yet its work be done,
Pawn thy thousands five for one.

What shall bread-tax yet for thee,
Palaced pauper?   We shall see.
It shall tame thee, and thy heirs,
Beggar them, and beggar theirs,
Melt thy plate, for which we paid,
Buy ye breeches ready made,
Sell my lady's tax-bought gown,
And the lands thou call'st thy own.
Then of courses five or more,
Grapery, horse-race, coach and four,
Pamper'd fox-hounds, starving men,
Whores and bastards, nine or ten,
Twenty flunkies fat and gay,
Whip and jail for holiday,
Paid informer, poacher pale.
Sneaker's license, poison'd ale,
Seat in senate, seat on bench,
Pension'd lad, or wife, or wench,
Fiddling parson, Sunday card,
Pimp, and dedicating bard,—
On the broad and bare highway,
Toiling there for groat a day,
We will talk to thee and thine,
Till thy wretches envy mine,
Till thy paunch of baseness howl,
Till thou seem to have a soul.

Peer, too just, too proud to share
Millions wrung from toil and care!
Righteous peer, whose fathers fed
England's poor with untax'd bread!
Ancient peer, whose stainless name
Ages old have giv'n to fame!—
What shall bread-tax do for thee?
Make thee poor as mine and me;
Drive thee from thy marble halls
To some hovel's squalid walls;
Drive thee from the land of crimes,
Houseless, into foreign climes,
There to sicken, there to sigh,
Steep thy soul in tears and die—
Like a flower from summer's glow,
Withering on the polar snow.

Church bedew'd with martyrs' blood
Mother of the wise and good!
Temple of our smiles and tears,
Hoary with the frost of years!
Holy church, eternal, true!
What for thee will bread-tax do?
It will strip thee bare as she
Whom a despot stripp'd for thee;
Of thy surplice make thy pall,
Low'r thy pride, and take thy all—
Save thy truth, establish'd well,
Which—when spire and pinnacle,
Gorgeous arch, and figured stone,
Cease to tell of glories gone—
Still shall speak of thee and Him
Whom adore the seraphim.

Power, which likest Heaven's might seem,
Glorious once in freedom's beam;
Once by tyrants felt and fear'd,
Still as freedom's dust revered—
Throne, established by the good,
Not unstain'd with patriot blood,
Not unwatch'd by patriot fears,
Not unwept by patriot tears—
What shall bread-tax do for thee,
Venerable Monarchy?—
Dreams of evil, spare my sight!
Let that horror rest in night.

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


CAGED RATS.


YE coop us up, and tax our bread,
    And wonder why we pine;
But ye are fat, and round, and red,
    And fill'd with tax-bought wine.
Thus, twelve rats starve while three
        rats thrive,
    (Like you on mine and me,)
When fifteen rats are caged alive,
    With food for nine and three.

Haste! havoc's torch begins to glow,
    The ending is begun;
Make haste; destruction thinks ye slow;
    Make haste to be undone!
Why are ye call'd ' my lord,' and ' squire,'
    While fed by mine and me,
And wringing food, and clothes and fire
    From bread-tax'd misery?
Make haste, slow rogues! prohibit trade,   [note 2]
    Prohibit honest gain;
Turn all the good that God hath made
    To fear, and hate, and pain;
Till beggars all, assassins all,
    All cannibals we be,
And death shall have no funeral
    From shipless sea to sea.

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


THE RECORDING ANGEL.

I.


I AM not death, O King! nor by him sent,
    O'er thy sad heart my pinions black to wave;
But when men die, I stand, in silence bent,
    Writing the deeds of warrior, saint, or slave,
    And canonize the timid and the brave.
They die, but after them their actions live,
    For good or ill.   Speak, then, if thou wouldst be,
Though bad, not worst; and mercy may forgive
    The cureless past.   What shall I write of thee?
    Shall toil be plunder'd still—or trade be free?
Know'st thou the law by which Kings govern well,—
    The golden law, "Reign not for some but all?"
Shall I to men, and to the immortals tell
    That thou didst fetter hope, or disenthrall?
    Oh, answer, ere the fatal curtain fall!
To-morrow, and the Sultan is forgot
    Even in the harem; but on realms oppress'd
The scar remains, where pass'd the iron hot
    With which he sear'd them; and wrongs unredress'd
    Cry to the hopeless dead, "Ye shall not rest!"
Would'st thou be mourn'd with curses, or with tears?
    As angels mourn the blow that casts aside
The axle of a world, for years and years
    Turning the seasons back and all their pride?
    Or as men mourn a godlike friend who died?
Thou hast, men say, for misery's tear a sigh;
    But if thy heart is warm, 'tis warm in vain.
King of the bread-tax! dearly did'st thou buy
    That title.   Shall it evermore remain
    To mock thy virtues, an eternal stain?


II.


No answer?—Oft the meanest of mankind,
    Gay as "The Tenth," and polish'd as their swords,
Have rivall'd Nash in etiquette of mind,
    And all the littleness of forms and words;
    But thou art King of Squires, and reign'st for
        Lords!
To teach thy sire, earth wept a sea of gore;
    He lived unteachable, and died untaught
By curses, wrung from millions.  It is o'er,
    And thou wast heir of all his madness wrought;
    Be this thy plea—all else availeth naught.
But nations beggar'd, that ye might bequeath
    Old bonds to France redeem'd; and Peterloo
Immortal; and Napoleon's deathless death!
    These were such deeds as vulgar kings can do;
    They made thee famous, but not matchless too.
King of dear Corn! Time hears, with ceaseless groan,
    Time ever hears, sad names of hate and dread:
But thou, thou only, of all monarchs known,
    Didst legislate against thy people's bread!
    King of the Corn Laws! thus wilt thou be read!
For ever thus.   A monarch calls thee—Go:
    And if there be, in other worlds, a throne
That waits a prince unequall'd, be not slow
    To seize the vacant seat—it is thine own;
    King of dear Corn! thou art "thyself alone!"
Safe is thy fame.   'Tis come, th' unerring hour
    That calls even kings to their account away;
And o'er thee frowns a shadow and a power
    To quench the stars, and turn the living day
    Black.   Yoked below, pant Horror and Dismay;
The steeds, O king! with soundless speed, that drag
    Thee, and a king more dreaded than his Lord,
The King of kings—O Death! behold his flag—
    The wormy shroud! his sceptre, crown, and sword—
    Worms! his dread slaves—worms, worms that do
        his word!
But where are thine! thy slaves! thy flatterers?—
        Gone.
    Nor need'st thou sigh for parasite or sage;
For, lo! the mightiest of all kings, but one,
    (Lord of the dust that once was youth and age,)
    Attends thee fallen! Behold his equipage!
How strange a chariot serves both him and thee!
    But Death rides royally—no stop, no stay;
On, on; far hence thy final home must be.
    What cloud swings there? A world that turns
        from day
    Her mountains. Death drives well—Away! Away!
As when to ships, which mists at sea surround,
    The dangerous fog assumes a golden hue,
While rocks draw near with sudden breakers bound,
    And distant mountains, reeling into view,
    Lift o'er the clouds their cliffs of airy blue;
So, to thy soul, released from mortal ties,
    Scenes grand and wild, and terrible, and new,
Strange lands, strange seas, the stars of unknown skies—
The realms of death with all their hosts, arise.
    King of dear Corn! the dead have heard that name;
They come—imperial spectres throng to meet
    Him, who, at once, eclipsed their dismal fame.
But why should despots long to kiss thy feet?
    Did Nero starve his People?   No—Oh shame!
He only hymn'd the flames, that, street by street,
    Swept Rome, no longer Roman:—it is meet
That greatness bow to greatest.   Famine's lord!
    What pallid crowds plebeian round thee rise!
Sent to sad graves by human fiends abhorr'd,
    They come to thank thee with their tears and sighs:—
    Nay, shrink not from the crowd of hollow eyes!
Thou know'st their children live to toil and pine,
    And that eternity's long roll supplies
No nickname, deathless, grand, and just as thine.
    But who is she, of aspect masculine,
Amid the silent moving silently,
    With saddest step, but not unroyal air,
And gazing like an injured friend on thee?
    There is sublimity in her despair!
    O king! that pitying look is hard to bear;
Thee she forgives,—but not the havoc made
    By thy meek servants and most gracious foes,
Who sagely interdict, hope, profit, trade.
    And must thy name be link'd for aye with those—
    "The triple hundred kinglings"—who oppose
    All change, but evil change; and, deaf and blind,
Refute the sun, and ocean as he flows?
    While daily, hourly, in their war on mind,
    They scourge again the Saviour of mankind.
Oh! why didst thou obey them from thy throne?
    Thou might'st have been, alas! thou would'st not be—
King of the people!   (Would that thou had'st known
    How almost godlike 'tis to rule the free!)—
    Or lived a tyrant! not the nominee
Of tyrants, wallowing in their victims' woe,
    And arm'd to curse mankind, with worse than stings.
Compared with thine, their deeds are night on snow,
    The breath of dungeons on a seraph's wings!
Derision! who would reign where such are kings?
    But to be slave—if thou wert willing slave—
Of mean barbarians; to be signing clerk
    Of palaced almoner, and tax-fed knave;
To wear their livery, and their badge, and mark;
    To love the light, and yet to choose the dark;—
This, this was vile, and did to millions wrong
    Not to be borne by men who boast a spark
Of manly worth.   Oh! Tamer of the strong!
Wake thy slow angel, God! He slumbers long—
    His voice of reformation should be heard,
His hand be active,—not to overturn,
    But to restore; ere, sick with hope deferr'd,
The good despond; ere lord and peasant mourn,
Homeless alike; ere Waste and Havoc spurn,
    With hand and foot, the dust of Power and Pride;
While tower and temple at their bidding burn,
    And the land reels, and rocks from side to side,
    A sail-less wreck, with none to save or guide;
A sail-less wreck, with multitudes to do
    Deeds more accursed than pirate's deck e'er saw;
A helmless wreck, a famine-frantic crew,   [note 3]
    All rage and hunger, hand, and voice, and maw;
    And on that rolling wreck, no food, no hope, no law!

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


OH LORD, HOW LONG?


UP, bread-tax'd slave! and sagely curse
  Greek, Russian, Swede, and Turk;
For we have better men, and worse,
  Than honest Hare and Burke
Proud men who cannot live, they say,
  Unless they plunder thee!
But thou art free to toil and pay,—
  And so is England free.

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! can'st thou sleep?
  Up, up, and toil for gouls,
Who drink our tears, but never weep,
  And, soul-less, eat our souls!

Child, what bast 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 woe!
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!

Methinks, thy nation-wedding waves
  Upbraid us as they flow;
Thy winds, disdaining fetter'd slaves,
  Reproach us as they blow;
Methinks thy bolts are waxing hot,
  Thy clouds have voices too;
"Father!" they cry, "hast thou forgot
  Land-butcher'd Peterloo?"

Oh, vengeance!—no, forgive, forgive!
  'Tis frailty still that errs:
Forgive?—Revenge! Shall murderers live?
  Christ bless'd his murderers.
Father, We only ask our own;
  We say, "Be commerce free,
Let barter have his mutton-bone,
  Let toil be liberty."

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;   [note 4]
The blow it gives, the wound it makes,
  Life yet unborn shall see,
Arid shake it, like a whip of snakes,
  At unborn Villany.

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


THE TREE OF RIVELIN.


THE lightning, like an Arab, cross'd
    The moon's dark path on high,
And wild on Rivelin writhed and toss'd
    The stars and troubled sky,
Where lone the tree of ages grew,
    With branches wide and tall;
Ah! who, when such a tempest blew,
    Could hear his stormy fall?
But now the skies, the stars are still,
    The blue wave sleeps again,
And heath and moss, by rock and rill,
    Are whispering, in disdain,
That Rivelin's side is desolate,
    Her giant in the dust!
Beware, O Power! for God is great,
    O Guilt! for God is just!
And boast not, Pride! while millions pine,
    That wealth secures thy home;
The storm that shakes all hearths but thine
    Is not the storm to come.
The tremor of the stars is pale,
    The dead clod quakes with fear,
The worm slinks down, o'er hill and vale,
    When God in wroth draws near.
But if the Upas will not bend
    Beneath the frown of Heaven,
A whisper cometh, which shall rend
    What thunder hath not riven.

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


DRONE v. WORKER.

 
How God speeds the tax-bribed plough,
    Fen and moor declare, man;   [note 5]
Where once fed the poor man's cow,
    ACRES drives his share, man.
But he did not steal the fen,
    Did not steal the moor, man;
If he feeds on starving men,
    Still he loves the poor, man.
Hush! he bullies state and throne,
    Quids them in his jaw, man;
Thine and mine he calls his own;
    Acres' lie is law, man.
Acres eats his tax on bread,
    Acres loves the plough, man;
Acres' dogs are better fed,
    Beggar's slave! than thou, man.
Acres' feeder pays his debts,
    Waxes thin and pale, man,
Harder works, and poorer gets,
    Pays his debts in jail, man.
Acres in a palace lives,
    While his feeder pines, man;
Palaced beggar ne'er forgives
    Dog on whom he dines, man.
Acres' feeder, beggar'd, begs,
    Treadmill'd rogue is he, man;
Scamp! he deals in pheasants' eggs,—
    Hangs on gallows tree, man!
Who would be an useful man?
    Who sell cloth, or hats, man?
Who make boiler, or mend pan?   [note 6]
    Who keep Acres' brats, man?
Better ride, and represent—
    Better borough tools, man;
Better sit in pauperment—
    Better corn-law fools, man.
Why not right the plunder'd poor?
    Why not use our own, man?
Plough the seas, and not the moor?
    Why not pick a bone, man?
Lo, the merchant builds huge mills,—
    Bread-tax'd thinks, and sighs, man!
Thousand mouths and bellies fills,—
    Bread-tax'd breaks, and dies, man!
Thousand mouths and bellies, then,
    Bread-tax'd, writhe and swear, man:
England once bred honest men,
    Bread-tax'd, Burke and Hare, man!
Hark ye! millions soon may pine,
    Starving millions curse, man,
Desperate millions long to dine
    A-la-Burke, and worse, man!
What will then remain to eat?
    Who be eaten then, man?
"Few may part, though many meet, "
    At Famine's Feast, ye ken, man.

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


SONG.

_________
TUNE"Scots wha hae," &c.
_________


OTHERS march in freedom's van;
Canst not thou what others can?
Thou a Briton! thou a man!
    What are worms, if human thou?

Wilt thou, deaf to hiss and groan,
Breed white slaves for every zone?
Make yon robber feed his own,
    Then proclaim thyself a man.

Still shall paltry tyrants tell
Freemen when to buy and sell?
Spurn the coward thought to hell!
    Tell the miscreants what they are.

Dost thou cringe, that fiends may scowl?
Wert thou born without a soul?
Spaniels feed, are whipp'd, and howl;
    Spaniel! thou art starved and whipp'd.

Wilt thou still feed palaced knaves?
Shall thy sons be traitors' slaves?
Shall they sleep in workhouse-graves?
    Shall they toil for parish-pay?

Wherefore did'st thou woo and wed?
Why a bride was Mary led?
Shall she, dying, curse thy bed?
    Tyrants! tyrants! no, by heaven!

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


SQUIRE LEECH.


COME, Lord Pauper! pay my bill
    For radish-tops and fire;
Ploughman Joe, and Weaver Bill,
    Keep Robert Leech, Esquire.
You say, shares are fairly shared
    Between the high and low;
While we starve, this joke runs hard
On bread-tax'd Will and Joe.

Leech drinks wine, sometimes enough,
    But then, he drinks in style:
Clubfeast-ale is sinful stuff;
    And pewter-plate is vile.
Robert rides, and Robert drives—
    His feeders barefoot go;
Will is clamming—bread-tax thrives—
    And tread-mill's clamming Joe.

"Give," of old, the horse-leech cried;
    Squire Robert cries, "Give, give!"
Now the leeches are belied!
    They suck, yet cannot live!
Little souls grow less and less,
    And ever downward grow;
"Live, and let live," they profess,
    And feed on Will and Joe! 

Bread-tax murders trade and hope;
    Lord Pauper cries "Well done!"
Bread-tax is not yet a rope
    To every rascal's son;
Justice is not done, 'tis said
    To Robert Leech and Co:
Gibbet is not tax on bread,—
    But Bread-tax gibbets Joe!

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


HOW DIFFERENT.


POOR weaver, with the hopeless brow,
    And bare woe-whiten'd head;
Thou art a pauper, all allow,
    All see thou begg'st thy bread;
And yet thou dost not plunder slaves,
    Then tell them they are free;
Nor bast thou join'd with tax-fed knaves,
    To corn-bill mine and me.

What borough dost thou represent?
    Whom bid'st thou toil and pay?
Why sitt'st not thou in pauperment,
    If baser beggars may?
Where are thy hounds, thy palaced w——e,
    To feed on mine and me?
Thy reverend pimp, thy coach and four,
    Thy thieves in livery?

No house hast thou, no food, no fire;
    None bow to thee, alas
A beggar! yet nor lord, nor squire?
    Say how comes this to pass?
While yon proud pauper, dead to shame,
    Is fed by mine and me?
And yet behind the rascal's name
   The scoundrel writes M. P.!

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


INSCRIPTION,

FOR A TABLET IN THE ISLAND OF JUAN FERNANDEZ.


LAST of a race of giants, lived De Foe,
First champion of commercial liberty!
Where lie his bones?   He died—'tis all we know,
Save that he lived and died in penury;
And, sorrowing, paid to unrelenting hate
That debt, which envy ne'er forgives the great.
Hampden! De Foe! Cromwell! and Milton!  When
Shall twenty years boast four such names again?
But which was greatest?   Great was he who fell—
The rebel Hampden; great and terrible
He, who well merited the crown he dared;
Mighty the novelist; sublime the bard,
That blind old man of London!   With their deeds
The world still rings as age to age succeeds;
But which will longest bask in glory's smile?
The tale of Paradise—or that of Crusoe's Isle?

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


ROGUES v. REASON.


YOUR cause is thresh'd—'tis time! forgive
    The husk that casts ye out;
And with your horrid bread-tax live,
    Or try to live without.

"What! eat our own?"  Poor rogues! not so—
    Your own is gone and spent:
Shall orphan Jane, and Dupe and Co.,
    Repay you what they lent?

"Yes, and the poor man then may keep
    A keg of home-brew'd beer:"
Towards which end let toil be cheap,
    And hops and barley dear.

"Transfer to us, the malt tax, then;
    Hark forward! Tally-ho!"
Both tax and price, kind gentlemen?
    "Both, both, Sir! on we go."

Let price and tax to you be paid,
    If ruin'd trade can pay;
"Pay?   What care we for ruin'd trade?
    Hark forward! hark away!"

Too fast, perhaps.   "Transfer! transfer!
    Tax commerce! we must eat:"
And, having earth'd your customer,
    To Poland send your wheat?

"Pshaw! doubly-tax wheat, hemp, and flax!
    Tax wool!" And keep it, too.   [note 7]
Lord help you, try a parson-tax,
    Your labour-tax wont do.

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


THE MIRACULOUS GOOSE.


Ho, all who laud the Stamford ass,
    Lend me your ears, I pray!
On C——r's wave a goose there was,
    That, cackling, seem'd to bray.
Some say, she was a noble bird,
    But in good print we find,
That ever when her voice was heard
    It gave sight to the blind!
Loud sounding, like Old Sarum's knell,
    It startled Newark's mead;
And folks, who had not learn'd to spell,
    Were taught, at once, to read!
E'en sundry Squires, and men of might,
    All true John Bulls, I ween,
Became acquainted with the light,
    Though they stone-blind had been.
For when they turn'd their backs on trade,
    And would true Squires be thought,
By paper-prices undismay'd,
    Their bread-tax'd lands they bought.
But when they heard—and they had ears—
    The goose of C———r bray,
Their eyes were open'd, and, in tears,
    They saw the light of day.
But when they saw that they could see,
    They saw that they were trick'd;
And when they thought of mortgagee,
    They stared like donkeys stick'd;
For all their foes did on them burst,
    Like dogs at bear let loose,
And mortgagee, of all the worst,
    Had also heard the goose!
Then, too, their farmers wroth did wax,
    And they wax'd witty, too,
Advising much a turnip-tax,
    Since bread-tax would not do.
The Squires, who gibes regarded nought,
    Were inly troubled sore,
And marvelled that they never thought
    Of turnip tax before.
"A turnip-tax," with sudden glee,
    "A turnip-tax," they cried,
And C———r's goose, and mortgagee,
    "A turnip-tax," replied.
So, let us sing, God save the King,
    And C———r's goose God save,
And when she next consents to sing,
    May Sadler hear a stave!

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


THE JACOBIN'S PRAYER.


AVENGE the plunder'd poor, oh Lord!
But not with fire, but not with sword,
Not as at Peterloo they died,
Beneath the hoofs of coward pride.
Avenge our rags, our chains, our sighs,
The famine in our children's eyes!
But not with sword—no, not with fire
Chastise Thou Britain's locustry!
Lord, let them feel thy heavier ire;
Whip them, oh Lord! with poverty!
Then, cold in soul as coffin'd dust,
Their hearts as tearless, dead, and dry,
Let them in outraged mercy trust,
And find that mercy they deny!

Yon cotton-prince, at Peterloo,
Found easy work, and glory, too:
"Corn laws," quoth he, "make labour cheap,
And famine from our trenchers keep."
He sees but wealth in want and woe;
Men starve, he owns, and justly so;
But if they marry and get brats,
Must he provide their shirts and hats?
Lord, fill his ledger with bad debts!
Let him be learned in gazettes!

A beadle's son, a lawyer's sire,
And born the favourite of a Squire,
STRUT hath town-acres three or four,
Two taverns, and can license more;
That street is his, Blue Jobber's Row:
He feels no want, he sees no woe;
But, having jobb'd another groat,
Pays Corn-law two-pence, as he ought,
And still is purchased with his own,
Although his god is half-a-crown.
Talk not to hint of wants and woes;
He hates the fool who names his foes.
Lord, let his hollow rental fail,
And lice instruct him in a jail,
When Tories, to diminish votes,
For liberal laws strain all their throats,
Untaxing deals, too dear to buy,
And bricks, and laths,—but tell not why!

Yon prigling, territorial grown,
Sublimely takes his Satrap-stride
On two vast acres, call'd his own,
And almost bursts with British pride.
"Cheap corn is ruin," he can show;
"Let rents be raised, Sir!"  Are they low?
"They are—despite your liberal cant,
And all the pack of growling hounds:
The poor, Sir, are extravagant:
These eight roods cost five hundred pounds!"
He earns with ease his daily bread;
But want still quits his door unfed.
Let thrice five sons and daughters, Lord,
Surround this childless husband's board,
Till wisdom from his trencher preach,
And back and belly learn and teach.

Yon yeoman used, in better days,
When "D—n the French" was pray'r and praise,
To teach us thrice a year or so,
From Tory-rule what blessings flow:
He back'd his war-horse through the panes
Of quiet people who had brains;
And when pale Freedom's champions fell,
He three-times-three'd his carnage yell,
Till awe-struck fiends turn'd pale in hell.
For wool-tax now, and parish pay,
He prays in curses every day,
And bans the liberals and the peace.
Lord, let him take his farm on lease!
That he may feel the growing pain
Which they endure who toil in vain;
The sinking soul, the dark distress,
The sting of this world's hopelessness;
Till down his cheek of lemon-peel
A selfish tear, at least, may steal,
And wondering sceptics gladly own
His heart is human, though of bone!

See, how yon Thane of Corn Laws scowls,
Picking our pockets, while he growls!
Lord, shall his law, untaxing rent,
Become his order's monument?
A beacon, bidding future times,
Avoid his fate, abhor his crimes?
When Ruin yells, and Havock goads,
And long-prepared, his mine explodes,
Oh, may the wretch outlive the shock
Of shaken earth, and shatter'd rock!
Whip him, O Lord! with want and woe! [note 8]
Lord, teach him what his victims know!
And when, with toil and trouble worn,
He rests beneath a blasted thorn,
Let him behold, with grief and ire,
While sets the sun in pomp of fire,
The palace of his patriot sire,
Who fed the poor, that feed the proud,
And plunder'd not the toiling crowd!
But if, when chastening years are past,
His sorrows try to smile at last,
And in his plot of garden-ground,
The wire-edged cottage flower be found,
Or rose, or pink, whose glowing rays
Remind him of departed days;
Let no mean worm's despotic power
Envy that fallen man his flower!
O let no little tyrant dare
To rend the hope of his despair,
The solace of his closing day,
His friend—his garden-plot away!
Nor upstart pride, with scornful tone,
The poor man's claim to taste disown,
And turn affronted tears to stone!

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


SONG.


WHEN freedom's foes mock'd labour's groan,
And, drunk with power, contemn'd the throne,
God bade great William rule the waves;
And William scorn'd to govern slaves.
        Rule, great William, rule the free!
        William Britain's shield will be!

On their hard hearts they ground their words,
And made them sharp as traitor's swords,
But cower'd, like dogs, beneath his eye,
When millions shouted to the sky,
        Rule, great William, rule the free!
        William Freedom's shield shall be!

He broke his bonds o'er Rapine's head;
"Free men! Free bread!" great William said,
And like a second Alfred stood,
King of the happy and the good;
        While the free, from sea to sea,
        Sang, Great William rules the free!

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


SONG.


WHO came when hope had fled? 
Who will untax our bread?
        Who save the state?
Who storm the robber's den?
Sole theme of tongue and pen,
William, the king of men,
        William the great!

Hark, how his people sing,
God save our patriot king,
        God save the state!
Long may he rule the brave,
Smiling at fool and knave,
Ere truth inscribe his grave,
        WILLIAM THE GREAT!

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


CREED O' THE CANNY.


NO printing! the printers are devils,
    Whose lore teaches slaves to be free:
Long life to all orthodox evils,
    Our watchword and motto shall be.

The dust of Old Sarum is holy,
    In our hearts live her ramparts and towers;
No progress! improvement is folly;
    The foes of green Gatton are ours.

To the dogs with the poor and the needy!
    Rogues and vagabonds! what can they pay?
Does the tree of our planting grow seedy?
    Up, yeoman, and hatchet away!

No freedom! the French are all pagan;
    Make a torch of their tallow and blood!
Then fire their new temples of Dagon,
    But quench every spark where it stood.

No Flemish republic to plague us;
    No Poland, to bother our sons;
Success to thee, Lamb of the Tagus;
    Success to thee, King of the Huns.

Watch well, thou black eagle of Prussia;
    Sarmatia claims one of thy wings:
Purvey for the dragon of Russia;
    Be base for the honour of kings.

Our god is the Great God of Slaughter;
    The hope of our purse is the sword:
Hosanna to Carnage, God's daughter!
    Hosanna to Massacre's Lord!

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


JUDAS.


WHILE retribution o'er thee hangs,
Tory, thou com'st—but hid'st thy fangs—
To aid, with hollow, base harangues,
    The hated cause of Liberty!

But never more pale Freedom's rout,
Slaves, Peterloo'd, with shriek and shout,
Or whipp'd till drop their bowels out,
    Shalt thou behold in extasy!

Thy proper glories all are gone;
"Revered and ruptured Ogden's" none,
With dungeon groans, shall urge thee on,
    Henceforth, to new atrocities?

Of Freedom's champions now are thine
No shipments o'er the burning line;
O'er trampled rights no yell divine;
    No hangings, burnings, massacres!

Thy scourge is dry, but stiff with blood;
It drinks no more, though fain it would;
No gibbet waits the wise and good;
    Thy prison-ship is victimless!

Australia o'er the deep complains
That patriots come not now in chains,
To tell, amid her woods and plains,
    The tale of British liberty.

Then, praise be thine, Iscariot's son,
Who, when our fight was fought and won,
With water in a sieve did'st run,
    To cheer the victor veteran!

But let the patriot's memory rot!
Long sufferings—woes are best forgot:
With Gerald, Muir, and Margarot,
    (Insulted miscreant!) bury them.

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


EPITAPH ON THOMAS MUIR.


THY earth, Chantilly, boasts the grave of Muir,
The wise, the lov'd, the murder'd, and the pure!
While in his native land the murderers sleep,
Where marble forms in mockery o'er them weep;—
His sad memorials, telling future times
How Scotchmen honour worth, and gibbet crimes.

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


REFORM.


TOO long endured, a power and will,
That would be nought, or first in ill,
Had wasted wealth, and palsied skill,
        And fed on toil-worn poverty.

They call'd the poor a rope of sand;
And, lo! no rich man's voice or hand
Was raised, throughout the suffering land,
        Against their long iniquity.

They taught the self-rob'd sons of pride
To turn from toil and want aside,
And coin their hearts, guilt-petrified,
        To buy a smile from infamy.

The philter'd lion yawn'd in vain,
While o'er his eyes, and o'er his mane,
They hung a picklock, mask, and chain,—
        True emblems of his dignity.

They murder'd Hope, they fetter'd Trade;
The clouds to blood, the sun to shade,
And every good that God had made
        They turn'd to bane and mockery.

Love, plant of Heaven, and sent to show
One bliss divine to earth below,
Changed by their frown, bore crime and woe,
        And breathed, for fragrance, pestilence.

With Freedom's plume, and Honour's gem
They deck'd Abaddon's diadem,
And call'd on hell, to shout for them
        The holiest name of holiness.

They knew no interest, but their own;
They shook the state; they shook the throne;
They shook the world; and God alone
        Seem'd safe in his omnipotence.

Did then his thunder rend the skies,
To bid the dead in soul arise?
The dreadful glare of sullen eyes
        Alone warn'd cruel tyranny!

A murmur from a trampled worm,
A whisper in the cloudless storm—
Yet these, even these, announced Reform;
        And Famine's scowl was prophecy!

Nor then remorse, nor tardy shame,
Nor love of praise, nor dread of blame,
But tongues of fire, and words of flame,
        Roused Mammon from his apathy.

At length, a MAN to Mercia spoke;
From smitten hearts the lightning broke;
The slow invincible awoke;
        And England's frown was victory.

No thanks to thee, thou self-robb'd slave!
And none to thee, thou Tory knave!
But all to them, the few and brave,
        Whose watchword still was "Liberty!"

Oh, years of crime!   The great and true—
The nobly wise—are still the few,
Who bid Truth grow where Falsehood grew,
        And plant it for eternity!

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


SONG.


WHEN working blackguards come to blows,
And give or take a bloody nose,
Shall juries try such dogs as those,
        Now Nap lies at Saint Helena?

No, let the Great Unpaid decide,
Without appeal, on tame bull's hide,
Ash-planted well, or fistified,
        Since Nap died at Saint Helena.

When Sabbath stills the dizzy mill,
Shall Cutler Tom, or Grinder Bill,
On footpaths wander where they will,
        Now Nap lies at Saint Helena?

No, let them curse, but feel our power;
Dogs! let them spend their idle hour
Where burns the highway's dusty shower;
        For Nap died at Saint Helena.

Huzza! the rascal Whiglings work
For better men than Hare and Burke,
And envy Algerine and Turk,
        Since Nap died at Saint Helena.

Then close each path that sweetly climbs
Suburban hills, where village chimes
Remind the rogues of other times,
        Ere Nap died at Saint Helena.

We tax their bread, restrict their trade;
To toil for us, their hands were made;
Their doom is seal'd, their prayer is pray'd;
        Nap perish'd at St. Helena.

Dogs! would they toil and fatten too?
They grumble still, as dogs will do:
We conquer'd them at Waterloo;
        And Nap lies at Saint Helena.

But shall the villains meet and prate
In crowds about affairs of state?
Ride, yeoman, ride! Act, magistrate!
        Nap perish'd at Saint Helena.

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


ARTHUR BREAD TAX WINNER.


WHO is prais'd by dolt and sinner?
    Who serves masters more than one?
Blucherloo, the bread tax winner;
    Bread tax winning Famineton.

Blucherloo, the bread tax winner!
    Whom enrich'd thy battles won?
Whom does Dirt-grub ask to dinner?
    Bread tax winning Famineton.

Whom feeds Arthur Bread-tax-winner?—
    All our rivals, sire and son,
Foreign cutler, foreign spinner,
    Bless their patron, Famineton.

Prussia fattens—we get thinner!
    Bread tax barters all for none:
Bravo! Arthur Bread-tax-winner!
    Shallow, half-brain'd Famineton!

Empty thinks the devil's in her:
    Take will grin, when Make is gone!
Bread tax teaches saint and sinner,
    Grinning, flint-fac'd Famineton!

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


LINES

WRITTEN IN AN EDITION OF COLLINS, WITH
ETCHINGS BY PLATT.


STRUCK blind in youth, Platt ask'd the proud for bread;
He ask'd in vain, and sternly join'd the dead.
I saw him weep—"Hail, holy light!" he cried;
But living darkness heard him, and he died.
Oh, by the light that left too soon his eyes,
And bade him starve on ice-cold charities;
Doom'd is the wealth that could no pittance spare,
To save benighted genius from despair!
These etchings, Platt, alone remain of thee!
How soon, alas! e'en these will cease to be!
But poesy hath flowers that ever bloom;
And music, though she seal'd thy cruel doom,*
Shall sing a ballad o'er her pupil's tomb.


* The unfortunate artist, having lost his sight, attempted
 to learn music for subsistence.  A concert, which he
 advertised, failed, and the cup ran over.

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


DEATH AND CO.


On, Huskisson! too meek of soul,
    Thou took'st thy station with the dead,
To compliment the "Mousing Owl,"
    Whose triumph tax'd thy country's bread.
Death smote thee down, as now he smites
    His foodless thousands, all in vain;
While Rapine, over trampled rights,
    Beneath his shadow, yells amain;—
"Strike!  Death, these dogs are thine and mine;
    To famish them, I worship thee:
One murderous cry is mine and thine—
    One murderous aim—Monopoly!"

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


LINES

ON THE ELEVEN POOR MEN OF HALLAMSHIRE, WHO
ORIGINATED THE SHEFFIELD POLITICAL UNION.


COME, drink to the four and the seven,
    Who first bade their breth'ren combine;
Hurra, for the glorious eleven!
    Though their doublets are not very fine,
"Combine, for the wicked conspire!
    Combine!" said the four and the seven;
And Hallam's old eyes darted fire
    At the words of the dreadless eleven.
And what are the four and the seven,
    Whose doublets are not very fine?
And what are the glorious eleven,
    Who first bade the plunder'd combine
All useful, all modest, all brave;
    All British through marrow and bone:
There is not among them a slave
    Gold-rusted, gold-rotten,—not one!
Not one of them all fears the laugh,
    Of Booby, the grandson of Bear;
Or Bleatwell, the third gilded calf;
    Of footman's son Golden Horn's heir;
Or Surface, quite easy to paint;
    Or Struttle, whose dignity crawls;
Or solemn Select, the queer saint,
    Who would not know Christ at Saint Pauls'.
Then drink to the four and the seven!
    Though their doublets are not very fine
The modest and manly eleven,
    Who first bade the plunder'd combine.
"Combine!" said the four and the seven, 
    "Combine, for the wicked conspire!"
So spoke the immortal eleven,
    While the eyes of old Hallam flash'd fire.

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


HYMN WRITTEN FOR THE SHEFFIELD
POLITICAL UNION.

______

TUNE—"Scots wha' ha"
______


HANDS and hearts, and minds are ours;
Shall we bow to bestial powers?
Tyrants, vaunt your swords and towers!
Reason is our citadel.

With what arms will ye surprize
Knowledge, of the million eyes?
What is mightier than the wise?—
Not the might of wickedness.

Trust in force!—So tyrants trust!
Words shall crush ye into dust;
Yet we fight, if fight we must—
Thou didst, Man of Huntingdon!*

Records name a wretch abhorr'd,
Who, when Stewart claim'd his sword,
Fled the land, and left his lord:
Blustering Pelham! who was he?

Or will Bane, the pauper, say
Who, in Stewart's evil day,
Baffled, vanquish'd, swept away,
Rebel-king, and foreign slave?

What were they who prostrate laid
Far-fam'd hosts, whom despots bade
Gaul's enfranchis'd soil invade?
Answer, proudest history!

Heirs of Pym! can ye be base?
Locke! shall Frenchmen scorn a race
Born in Hampden's dwelling place?
Blush to write it, infamy!

What we are, our fathers were;
What they dar'd, their sons can dare;
Vulgar tyrants! hush! beware!
Bring not down the Avalanche.

By the death which Hampden died!
By oppression, mind defied!
Despots, we will tame your pride—
Stormily, or tranquilly!

* One Oliver Cromwell, a Brewer.

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


SONG.


WHO won Blucher's Waterloo?
Britons fought, and won it, too—
Or, if doubtful tales be true,
Bread-tax winning Wellington.

Sons and brethren brave remain
Of the men of Mont Saint Jean,
Nobler conflicts to maintain,
Arthur's master, Nicholas!

Warriors of the well-fill'd chest,
Empty purse will teach ye best:
Do your worst—we'll do the rest;
Thieves ho! lock the treasury!

 

_______________________

[Top of page]


EPITAPH.


DIED he of want, who bade the pow'r of steam
Urge Britain's commerce o'er the conquer'd stream?
Ye tax-fed worldlings! may the name of Bell
Weigh heavy on your pigmy souls in hell!


_______________________


[Next page]

 


 

[Home] [Up] [Autobiography] [Biographical] [Biographical] [Misc Poems] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be sent to Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk