Corn Law Rhymes and Other Poems (3)
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BATTLE SONG.


DAY, like our souls, is fiercely dark;
        What then?  'Tis day!
We sleep no more; the cock crows—hark!
        To arms! away!
They come! they come!   The knell is rung
        Of us or them;
Wide o'er their march the pomp is flung
        Of gold and gem.
What collar'd hound of lawless sway,
        To famine dear—
What pension'd slave of Attila,
        Leads in the rear?
Come they from Scythian wilds afar,
        Our blood to spill?
Wear they the livery of the Czar?
        They do his will.
Nor tassell'd silk, nor epaulette,
        Nor plume, nor torse—
No splendour gilds, all sternly met,
       Our foot and horse.
But, dark and still, we inly glow,
        Condens'd in ire!
Strike, tawdry slaves! and ye shall know
        Our gloom is fire.
In vain your pomp, ye evil powers,
        Insults the land;
Wrongs, vengeance, and the cause are ours,
        And God's right hand!
Madmen! they trample into snakes
        The wormy clod!
Like fire, beneath their feet awakes
        The sword of God!
Behind, before, above, below,
        They rouse the brave;
Where'er they go, they make a foe,
        Or find a grave.

 

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THE REVOLUTION OF 1832.


SEE, the slow Angel writhes in dreams of pain!
      His cheek indignant glows!
Like Stanedge, shaking thunder from his mane,
      He starts from his repose.
Wide, wide, his earthquake-voice is felt and heard;
      "Arise, ye brave and just!"
The living sea is to its centre stirr'd—
      And, lo! our foes are dust!
The earth beneath the feet of millions quakes;
      The whirlwind-cloud is riv'n;
As midnight, smitten into lightning, wakes,
      So waked the sword of Heav'n.
The angel drew not from its sheath that sword;
      He spake, and all was done!
Night fled away before the Almighty word,
      And, lo—the sun! the sun!

 

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THE TRIUMPH OF REFORM.

WRITTEN FOR THE SHEFFIELD POLITICAL UNION.
_______

TUNE"Rule Britannia."
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WHEN woe-worn France first sternly spread
Her banner'd rainbow on the wind;
To smite rebellious Reason dead,
The kings of many lands combined.
        Did they triumph? So they deem'd:
        Could they triumph? No!—They dream'd.

From Freedom's ashes at their call
A form of might arose, and blaz'd:
'Tis true they saw the phantom fall;
'Tis true they crush'd the power they rais'd;
        But in conflict with the wise,
        Vain are armies, leagues, and lies.

Not Freedom—no! but freedom's foe,
The baffled league of kings o'erthrew;
We conquer'd them, though slaves can shew
They conquer'd us at Waterloo:
        Mind is mightier than the strong!
        Right hath triumph'd over wrong!

By sordid lusts to ruin led,
Come England's foes, ye self-undone!
Behold for what, ye taxed our bread!
Is this the Mont Saint Jean, ye won?
        Hark the rabble's triumph lay!—
        Sturdy beggars! who are they?

Go, call your Czar! hire all his hordes!
Arm Cæsar Hardinge! League and plot!
Mind smites you with her wing of words,
And nought shall be, where mind is not.
        Crush'd to nothing—what you are—
        Wormlings, will ye prate of war?

No paltry fray, no bloody day,
That crowns with praise, the baby-great;
The DEED of Brougham, Russell, Grey,
The Deed that's done, we celebrate!
        Mind's great Charter! Europe sav'd!
        Man for ever unenslav'd!

Oh could the wise, the brave, the just,
Who suffer'd—died—to break our chains;
Could Muir, could Palmer, from the dust,
Could murder'd Gerald hear our strains;
        Then would martyrs, thron'd in bliss,
        See all ages bless'd in this.

 

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THE PRESS.

WRITTEN FOR THE PRINTERS OF SHEFFIELD, ON
THE PASSING OF THE REFORM BILL.

  
        GOD said—"Let there be light!"
        Grim darkness felt his might,
                And fled away;
Then, startled seas, and mountains cold
Shone forth, all bright in blue and gold,
        And cried—"'Tis day! 'tis day!"
        "Hail, holy light!" exclaim'd
        The thund'rous cloud, that flamed
                O'er daisies white;
And, lo, the rose, in crimson dress'd,
Lean'd sweetly on the lily's breast,
        And, blushing, murmur'd—"Light!"
        Then was the skylark born;
        Then rose th' embattled corn;
                Then floods of praise
Flow'd o'er the sunny hills of noon;
And then, in stillest night, the moon
        Pour'd forth her pensive lays.
        Lo, heav'ns bright bow is glad!
        Lo, trees and flowers, all clad
                In glory, bloom!
And shall the mortal sons of God
Be senseless as the trodden clod,
        And darker than the tomb?
        No, by the mind of man!
        By the swart artisan!
                By God, our Sire!
Our souls have holy light within,
And every form of grief and sin
        Shall see and feel its fire.
        By earth, and hell, and heav'n,
        The shroud of souls is riven!
                Mind, mind alone
Is light, and hope, and life, and power!
Earth's deepest night, from this bless'd hour,
        The night of minds, is gone!
        "The Press!" all lands shall sing;
        The Press, the Press we bring,
                All lands to bless:
Oh, pallid want! oh, labour stark!
Behold, we bring the second ark!
                The Press! the Press! the Press!

 

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THE EMIGRANT'S FAREWELL.


ENGLAND, farewell! we quit thee—never more
To drink thy dewy light, or hear the thrush
Sing to thy fountain'd vales.   Farewell! thy shore
Sinks—it is gone! and in our souls the rush
Of billows soundeth, like the crash and crush
Of hope and life. No land! all sky and sea!
For ever then farewell! But may we blush
To hear thy language, if thy wrongs or thee
Our hearts forget, where screams o'er rock and tree
The Washingtonian eagle! In our prayers,
If we forget our wrongers, may we be
Vile as their virtues, hopeless as their heirs,
And sires of sons whom scorn shall nickname theirs—
And to such wolves leave we our country?   Oh!
The heart that quits thee, ev'n in hope, despairs!
Yet from our fathers' graves thy children go
To houseless wilds, where nameless rivers flow,
Lest, when our children pass our graves, they hear
The clank of chains, and shrieks of servile woe
From coward bones, that, ev'n though lifeless, fear
Cold rapine's icy fang, cold havock's dastard spear.

 

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SONG.


HERE'S a health to our friends of Reform!
    And, hey, for the town of the cloud,
That gather'd her brows, like the frown of the storm,
    And scatter'd the base and the proud.

Drink, first, to that friend of the right,
    That champion of freedom and man,
Our heart-broken Milton, who rous'd to the fight,
    Again took his place in the van.

Then, to Palfreyman, Parker, and Ward;
    And Bailey, a star at mid-day:
And Badger the lawyer, and Brettell the bard;
    And Phillips in battle grown grey.

And Bramhall, by bigots unhung;
    And Holland, the fearless and pure;
And Bramley, and Barker, the wise and the young;
    And Bently the Rotherham brewer.

And Knight, whom the poor know and love,
    For he does not scorn to know them;
And Dixon; whom conscience and prudence approve;
    And Smith, though unpolish'd a gem,

Here's a health to our friends of Reform,
    The champions of freedom and man,
Our pilots who weather'd and scatter'd the storm,
    Our heroes, who fought in the van.

And since Russell's bolus is driv'n,
    Down the throats of Cant Plunder and Co.,
May the firm of the Maggots take wing to that heav'n
    Whither all the Saint Castlereaghs go!

Or, while, with the Bat and the Owl,
    For darkness invaded they grieve,
May their angels take each tory body or soul
    Which the devil would blush to receive!

 

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A POET'S PRAYER.


ALMIGHTY Father! let thy lowly child,
Strong in his love of truth, be wisely bold—
A patriot bard, by sycophants revil'd,
Let him live usefully, and not die old!
Let poor men's children, pleas'd to read his lays,
Love, for his sake, the scenes where he hath been;
And, when he ends his pilgrimage of days,
Let him be buried where the grass is green;
Where daisies, blooming earliest, linger late
To hear the bee his busy note prolong:—
There let him slumber, and in peace await
The dawning morn, far from the sensual throng,
Who scorn the windflower's blush, the redbreast's
        lonely song.

 

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                             To

                    The followers of the fallen fortunes

                                         Of him

                      Who would not be the greatest of mankind

                                I inscribe

                                        This picture of

                     NAPOLEON BONAPARTE,

                                              England's

            Noblest, best, and most magnanimous Enemy.

 

____________

GREAT FOLKS AT HOME.


A TRAGEDY IN ONE ACT.


SCENEthe Infernal Regions.—NAPOLEON in
deep thought,
—SATAN watching near him.


Nap.    France! and ye Armies! is it thus indeed?
Satan.  Poor Outcast! he too, from the aspirer's
        heaven
        Fell, never more, oh, never more to rise!
Nap.    Heir of the saddest flower, and loftiest
        sun-beam!
        To-morrow's Caesar! if degenerate earth
        Refuse to arm thy grown right-hand with steel,
        Ravish from heaven the lightning, and avenge me!
Satan.   Fraternal Spirit, rest!
Nap.    The Alps are dust,
        And Borodino is not ev'n a name.
Satan.   But yesterday still is—at least with thee.
        How farest thou, Brother?
Nap.    Brother?—oh yes, yes!
        The twain who highest sate, and lowest fell,—
        True brothers we! And I, too, sometimes talk
        With joys that were.
Satan.  What spectre of the past
        Hath sadly visited thy restless thoughts,
        Making truth hateful, and the wretched feel
        He once was bless'd?
Nap.    Not wretched if with thee,
        Who, self-dethroned, yet reignest in thy soul.
        But I did dream a hideous hateful dream,
        Of fall'n, insulted greatness.—To have been
        A King of Kings, and then to fall so low!
        Oh, Victory, whose shout alarmeth heaven!
        And thou, the imperishable, that wilt be
        Young, when the time-worn mountains shall have
            levell'd
        The stream-loved valley with the fountain'd rock!
        Oh, Victory! Oh, Glory! if ye can,
        Make, if ye can, atonement!—But ye cannot;
        No, ye empoison even the aconite.
Satan.  Now will his soul, with baneful industry,
        Convert the past to anguish, and extract
        A torturing essence from the memory
        Of god-like aims, and actions worth ambition.
Nap.    Marengo! Austerlitz! But ye are like
        The rest—names, dreams! Ye come not, when I call
        From my soul's solitude. I knew ye not
        When I was happy. Then, the burning day
        Had not yet risen, to drink from hope's pure flowers
        The stainless dew, and on the scathed hill's side
        Leave bare ambition blind in his own beams—
        Alone and blind. But 'tis no matter—Night,
        Deep night bath fall'n at last. Why was I not
        Cast like a leaf upon the tide of time,
        And, unresisting, borne to that dull sea
        Where Envy sleeps? Selfish ambition! thou,
        Vulgar alike in all, whate'er their ends,
        Art but a yielding to our baser nature.
        How dost thou bribe the demi-deity,
        To ape despotic instinct! Too, too late,
        Glorious American, I envy thee
        The grandeur of thy super-human meekness.
        Thy country saved, thou, her first citizen,
        Wert greater than ten Caesars! Earth, thy proudest
        Name is George Washington!
Satan.  What were the thoughts
        Which thus could shake whom fate left unsubdued?
Nap.     Methought that Stichrag prick'd me with
            his needle;
        That Fingerlace, the vile man-milliner,
        Assail'd me with his yard-wand; that one Bolus
        Call' d me, "Poor Boney!"
Satan.   See, whom have we here?
        One of them seems to wear a scarlet necklace.

Enter STITCHRAG and FINGERLACE.

Nap.   The very pair!—Oh, Mars!—Trimmings
            and cabbage.
Finger.  (To Stitchrag.) Seest thou the rustic?
            not a bit of ribbon
        About the clod!
Stitch.  Unfashionable dog!
        Look at the scoundrel's breeches; what a cut!
Nap.     Lodi! Immortal Friedland!
Finger. Saint Taxation!
        Thrice holy Corn-bill! Holier Peterloo!
Stitch.  Now for the genuine Doric—hush! no
            laughter!
Nap.     Thrones and the shopboard! Ancient
            goose and shears!
        Can things like these rule nations? Destiny,
        Thy sceptre is a bodkin!
Satan.   (To Fingerlace.) What art thou?
Finger.  I? (To Stitchrag. ) Dust thou hear?
            the spooney does not know me—
        Clod! not know me? May it please your Majesty,
        I'm the man-milliner.
Satan.    (To Stitchrag. ) And what art thou?
Stitch.    The tailor; at your service.
Satan.    And what would you
            Here?
Finger. I would serve—
Stitch. (Aside.) In the capacity
            Of master—
Finger. Your infernal despotship,
        And this your empire. I much like the country
        And cannot praise enough your good old stock
        Of penal fire, which I long to be using,
        And will apply to great state purposes.
        You have, of course, the necessary number
        Of radicals; if not, I well know how
        To raise a crop.
Satan.    But art thou qualified
            To serve me?
Finger.  Qualified! Sir! (To Stitchrag. )
        Dust thou hear
        The spooney?
Satan.    When your neighbours stole your beef
        And your plum-pudding, what was thy employment?
Finger.  Furnishing tinsel.
Satan.   When your working paupers
        By thousands died of want, what then didst thou?
Finger.  I measured ribbon.
Satan.   But my subjects here
        Eat victuals highly season'd. Should we have
        A scarcity of pitch, or brimstone broth,
        Would the poor shine of tinsel fill their bellies?
Finger.  No; but I'd yerk their guts with Stitchrag's
            shears.
Nap.     Happy the land whose tailors are the law.
Satan.    (To Fingerlace.) I like thy humour.
Finger.   Yes; I'll make you like it.
        And, Sire, I will commence my reign—
Satan.    Thy reign?
Finger.   I hate all radical appendages—
        I will commence my reign with an improvement
        Wrought on your person. I hate this exposure
        Of the imperial tail. Besides, 'tis not
        The fashion to wear tails; I never wore one.
Satan.    Thou hatest radicals, and yet thou art
            one—
        A dangerous fire-flinging innovator.
Finger.   Let Stitchrag, Sire, make you a pair of
            breeches,
        And I will find the trimming.
Satan.    I wear breeches!
Finger.   Yes, Sire, you shall.
Satan.    I won't.
Finger.   You shall.
Satan.    I won't.
Finger.   Measure him, Stichrag, and I'll hold him.
Satan.    (Knocks Fingerlace down.) There,
        Measure your bungler by his own dear rule.
Finger.   (Rising.) Out with the clod! he won't
            wear breeches, Stitchrag.
        Oh, could I die again!
Stitch.    Die: Would it not
        Be quite as well to live, and—
Finger.   Clip his tail off?
Stitch.    Clip! that's a tell-tale word. Say amputate,
        As brother Bolus would.
Finger.   What! amputate
            The sacred tail?
Stitch.    And live to bless the deed.
Finger.   By tweezers, so I will. (To Satan.)
        Sire, by your leave,
        Your fundamental ornament is rather—
        I humbly beg to slice your—
        (He gets behind Satan.)
Satan.    You be flogged! (Kicks Fingerlace on the back front.)
Finger.   Oh, foul dishonour! oh, indignity!
        Hell, thou art lost, like Europe! and, once more,
        I'll perish for the public good. A moment,
        And this Corinthian column, this great pillar
        Of state, shall fall once more. Oh, Atlas, Atlas!
                                                                             (Exit Fingerlace.
Stitch.    Wide Peterloo—immortaler than some,
        Legitimate as any—not so foreign
        As those outlandish loos of royal Nismes,
        Where our side had it,—is thy hero now
        No more than Caesar and Mark Antony,
        Those famed Dutch tailors, that historians write of?
        Troy, and thou, Tadmor!—tailors, too, are mortal,
        I'll go, and mourn "the statesman now no more."
                                                                               (Exit Stitchrag.
Nap.     And could'st thou, Fate, in vile alliance join
        Reptiles, like these, with me?—venomous grubs
        That die of their own poison? Shall such names,
        Defiling glory's page, appear with mine?
Satan.   Aye, like fat vermin on a lion's mane,
        Astonish'd at their pasture.
Nap.     Still, O Fortune!
        Still be thy crown the emblematic goose!
        And may the shears spare thy skull epaulettes!
        What I have been is safe, in spite of thee.
        Yet O, imperial throne, I bought thee dear!
        The people's love, the bulwark of true hearts,
        The fear'd, the dreadless, the invincible,
        All vilely thrown away—for what? A bauble.
        Thou, too, poor shadow of a wife and queen!
        Thou art, indeed, a shadow to my soul,
        Dark and beloved, that will not pass away,
        And stays in vain. Yet, yet, I will believe,
        That in the boundless universe of God
        There yet is hope. Is not our boy with thee?
        Widow and wife!  Our boy, how beautiful!
        "The young Astyanax!" I clasp ye both!
        And is not hope with him? O, can he prove
       Unworthy of his Sire, the desolate,
        The fate-dethroned? "Hail to thee, Man that shalt
            be!"
        I clasp ye in my soul, and am alone.
        'Twas ever so. I perish'd as I lived
        Alone—unparallel'd in life's extremes!
        Thou, too, wast dearly bought, O fatal shadow!
Satan.   But to the island of the free belongs
        Th' unenvied glory of thy death most lone;
        A glory unsurpassable, unequall'd,
        Unfading, as the golden characters,
        Which night reads calmly on her dome engraved,
        While the unheeded stream of ages sweeps
        Along, untired, for ever and for ever.
Nap.     That tyrants should the tyrant overthrow,
            is retribution just.
Satan.   'Ti s also just
        That the magnanimous punisher receive
        What he hath earn'd, and wear his honours proudly.
Nap. First of plebeians, why did I become
        Less than earth's greatest? I was my own idol;
        And to myself I poorly sacrificed
        Fame in the highest. Yet, O Freedom! yet,
        If thou art unavenged, the island-tomb,
        Untenanted, hears ocean's deathless foam,
        With no inscription for eternity.
        Sieyes, intrench'd in gold, smiles safe from scorn,
        If thou art unavenged; Murat's rash plume
        Floats on the surge of horror unappall'd,
        And Lannes still—Fall'n Angel, pardon me!
        Even thy stern soul, at times, weeps mournful
        thoughts for tears.

 

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INSCRIPTION

FOR A SLAB, ON A ROCK, IN THE OCEAN.


BE this your song, slow-moving, in deep hell,
To sieze the honours ye have earn'd so well:
"Ye fiends eclipsed! resign your fiery thrones
To us, whose greater worth ev'n envy owns.
Sad years that were, and years that yet shall weep,
In beggary and in blood we steep'd and steep:
Ours were the deeds unmatch'd since time began,
And that eternal murder, of the man
Jail'd on the lone rock of the shrieking sea,
Who, last and greatest of the sons of fame,
Where mourns a fount, beneath a weeping tree,
Inhabits now 'the tomb without a name.'"

 

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                             To

         JOHN BOWRING, ESQUIRE,

                One of our steadiest champions of liberty,

                       Civil and religious,

Whose translations have enabled us to shake hands with

         Brethren whom we knew not;

              The living, who to us were dead,

                        And the dead, who cannot die,

                                 THIS POEM,

                                          Is Dedicated,

                 By his obliged and thankful Friend,

                                                                   THE AUTHOR.

 

THE RANTER.
______

I.


Miles Gordon sleeps; his six days' labour done,
He dreams of Sunday, verdant fields, and prayer:
Oh, rise, blest morn, unclouded! Let thy sun
Shine on the artisan,—thy purest air
Breathe on the bread-tax'd labourer's deep despair!
Poor sons of toil! I grudge them not the breeze
That plays with Sabbath flowers, the clouds that play
With Sabbath winds, the hum of Sabbath bees,
The Sabbath walk, the skylark's Sabbath lay,
The silent sunshine of the Sabbath day.


II.


The stars wax pale, the moon is cold and dim;
Miles Gordon wakes, and grey dawn tints the skies:
The many-childed widow, who to him
Is as a mother, hears her lodger rise,
And listens to his prayer with swimming eyes.
For her and for her orphans poor he prays,
For all who earn the bread they daily eat:—
"Bless them, O God, with useful, happy days,
With hearts that scorn all meanness and deceit;
And round their lowly hearths let freemen meet!"—
This morn, betimes, she hastes to leave her bed,
For he must preach beneath th' autumnal tree:
She lights her fire, and soon the board is spread
With Sabbath coffee, toast, and cups for three.
Pale he descends; again she starts to see
His hollow cheek, and feels they soon must part;
But they shall meet again—that hope is sure;
And, Oh! she venerates his mind and heart,
For he is pure, if mortal e'er was pure!
His words, his silence, teach her to endure;
And then he helps to feed her orphan'd five!
O God! thy judgments cruel seem to be!
While bad men biggen long, and cursing thrive,
The good, like wintry sunbeams, fade and flee—
That we may follow them, and come to Thee.


III.


In haste she turns, and climbs the narrow stair,
To wake her eldest born, but pausing stands,
Bent o'er his bed; for on his forehead bare,
Like jewels ring'd on sleeping beauty's hands,
Tired labour's gems are set in beaded bands;
And none, none, none, like bread-tax'd labour know'th
How more than grateful are his slumbers brief.
Thou dost not know, thou pamper'd son of sloth!—
Thou canst not tell, thou bread-tax-eating thief!—
How sweet is rest to bread-tax'd toil and grief!
Like sculpture, or like death, serene he lies.
But, no—that tear is not a marble tear;
He names, in sleep, his father's injuries;
And now, in silence, wears a smile severe.
How like his sire he looks, when drawing near
His journey's close, and that fair form bent o'er
His dark'ning cheek, still faintly tinged with red,
And fondly gazed—too soon to gaze no more!—
While her long tresses, o'er the seeming dead,
Stream'd, in their black profusion, from the head
Of matron loveliness—more touchingly,
More sadly beautiful, and pale, and still—
A shape of half-divine humanity,
Worthy of Chantrey's steel, or Milton's quill,
Or heaven-taught Raphael's soul-expressing skill.
And must she wake that poor o'er-labour'd youth?
Oh, yes, or Edmund will his mother chide;
For he, this morn, would hear the words of truth
From lips inspired, on Shirecliffe's lofty side,
Gazing o'er tree and tower on Hallam wide.—
Up, sluggards, up! the mountains one by one,
Ascend in light; and slow the mists retire
From vale and plain.   The cloud on Stannington
Beholds a rocket—No, 'tis Morthen spire!
The sun is risen! cries Stanedge, tipp'd with fire;
On Norwood's flowers the dew-drops shine and shake;
Up, sluggards, up! and drink the morning breeze.
The birds on cloud-left Osgathorpe awake;
And Wincobank is waving all his trees
O'er subject towns, and farms, and villages,
And gleaming streams, and wood, and waterfalls.
Up, climb the oak-crown'd summit!   Hoober Stand
And Keppel's Pillar, gaze on Wentworth's halls,
And misty lakes, that brighten and expand,
And distant hills, that watch the western strand.
Up! trace God's foot-prints, where they paint the
        mould
With heavenly green, and hues that blush and glow
Like angel's wings; while skies of blue and gold
Stoop to Miles Gordon on the mountain's brow.
Behold the Great Unpaid! the prophet, lo!
Sublime he stands beneath the Gospel tree,
And Edmund stands on Shirecliffe at his side;
Behind him, sinks, and swells, and spreads a sea
Of hills, and vales, and groves; before him glide
Don, Rivelin, Loxley, wandering in their pride
From heights that mix their azure with the cloud;
Beneath him, spire and dome are glittering;
And round him press his flock, a woe-worn crowd.
To other words, while forest echoes ring,
"Ye banks and braes o' bonny Doon," they sing;
And, far below, the drover, with a start
Awaking, listens to the well-known strain,
Which brings Shihallian's shadow to his heart,
And Scotia's loneliest vales; then sleeps again,
And dreams, on Loxley's banks, of Dunsinane.
The hymn they sing is to their preacher dear;
It breathes of hopes and glories grand and vast,
While on his face they look, with grief and fear;
Full well they know his sands are ebbing fast;
But, hark! he speaks, and feels he speaks his last!—


IV.


"'Woe 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. [note 1]
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 called 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? [note 2]
Where their petitions for unfetter'd trade? [note 3]
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. [note 4]
When palaced paupers, sneering, beard the town,
They preach the bread-tax in a text like this,
No text more plain—'To Cæsar give his own!'
Ah, Serviles, dev'lishly the mark they miss,
And give to Cæsar ours, not theirs nor his.
What said the blushing saints, when Britain's name
Brought blushes to all else, o'er every sea,
And Lowe, Reade, Bathurst, names of deathless fame,
Engraved on hers their immortality?
Oh, we were great, magnanimous, and free,
And pillage-purchased—yet unsold, unbought;
Bread-tax'd, and Peterloo'd, and parish paid,
And Cadi-Dervised—therefore most devout;
Unplunder'd, undegraded, unbetray'd,
And Sidmouth'd, Oliver'd, and Castlereagh'd!—
Pious they are, cool, circumspect, severe;
And while they feel for woes beyond the wave,
They laud the tyrants who starve millions here:
The famish'd Briton must be fool or knave,
But wrongs are precious in a foreign slave.
Their Bibles for the heathen load our fleets; [note 5]
Lo, gloating eastward, they inquire, 'What news?'
We die, we answer, foodless, in the streets,
And what reply your men of Gospel-views?
Oh, they are sending bacon to the Jews!
Their lofty souls have telescopic eyes,
Which see the smallest speck of distant pain,
While, at their feet, a world of agonies,
Unseen, unheard, unheeded, writhes in vain.
Yet thou, oh God! withhold'st thy sulphurous rain!
Or, if it fall, it blasts the labour'd vale,
And spares the barren summit!   Lord! how long!
Shall freedom's struggles turn the good man pale,
And, like a vile apology for wrong,
Add to the torturing scourge another thong?
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, live 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 approves,
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 none—they knew nor hate nor fear,
But taught the will of God—and did it here.
Even as the fire-wing'd thunder rends the cloud,
Their spoken lightnings, dazzling all the land,
Abash'd the foreheads of the great and proud,
Still'd faction's roar, as by a God's command,
And meeken'd Cromwell of the iron hand.
    "Now look beneath, where tax-bought horses draw
The Cadi amateur—a devotee
For drum-head justice famed, and parlour law!
Hater evangelized of liberty!
How worthy Him who died on Calvary,
The Great Reformer, Christ!  Who does not loathe
His loathsome loathing of all liberal taint?
Which of you hath not toil'd, to feed and clothe
His lacqueys?   Oh, for Hogarth's hand, to paint
His mental lineaments of beast and saint,
His corn-law scowl, and landed length of ears! [note 6]
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, wert 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 glare,
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 voice! and still to thee
It speaks of death.   Perchance, some child of clay,
Some woe-worn thrall of long iniquity,
Some drudge, whose mate can yet 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 pour'd 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 harvest on the indignant 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.
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 rivers, and exchange is power: [note 7]
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.
    "O for a ship—a ship!—the wing of steam
To bear us from the land, where toil despised,
Is robb'd and scourged, and life's best prospects seem
Sad as the couch of patience agonized!
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!
When by our Father's voice the skies are riven,
That, like the winnow'd chaff, disease may fly;
And seas are shaken by the breath of heaven,
Lest in their depths the living spirit die;
Man views the scene with awed but grateful eye,
And trembling feels, could God abuse his power,
Nor man, nor nature, would endure an hour.
But there is mercy in his seeming wrath;
It smites to save, not, tyrant-like, to slay;
And storms have beauty, as the lily hath:
Grand are the clouds that, mirror'd on the bay,
Roll like the shadows of lost worlds, away,
When bursts through broken gloom the startled
        light;
Grand are the waves that, like that broken gloom,
Are smitten into splendour by His might;
And glorious is the storm's tremendous boom,
Although it waileth o'er a watery tomb,
And is a dreadful ode on ocean's drown'd.
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!"
Hers 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 dew-drops 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! for, behold,
The spoilers watch, to steal your Sabbath too!
Shall seven days' toil for six days' bread be sold? [note 8]
Forget not yet land-butcher'd Peterloo!
Are ye not bread-tax'd?   What they did they do,
And then most treacherous when they holiest seem,
At your salvation here take deadliest aim. [note 9]
Oh, trust them not! but henceforth rightly deem
Of sordid fiends, who murder hope and shame,
And for a bread-tax, wrapp'd the world in flame.
Nor marvel if, athwart the exulting seas,
A steam-highway bring soon to their firesides
War, and its long inflicted miseries,
To plough them with the plough which havoc guides,
Despite their wide-wing'd sway o'er winds and tides.
Meantime, like wolves full gorged, they lick their jaws,
And, sick of prey, roll wide their eyes for more;
But from their black and crime-distended maws
Eject not yet the clotted gold and gore,
The price of souls, death-freed on many a shore."
    He ceased—but still, while young and old retired,
Beneath th' autumnal tree, and concave blue,
Stood, like the statue of a man inspired;
And many an eye turn'd fondly back, to view
His face, more saint-like than e'er pencil drew.
Then gush'd his tears.   He cast a lingering look
On farthest moors—dear scenes, remember'd well!
And thought of that lone church, and verdant nook
Where sleeps his mother, in the Alpine dell.
"I am alone," he said—and sigh'd "Farewell!"
Alone—but, oh, not unbeloved thou art!
Nor undeplored, Miles Gordon, shalt thou sleep
In death's cold arms.   Full many a manly heart
Shall weep o'er thee; the orphan'd five shall weep;
The mother of the fatherless shall steep
Thy shroud in tears, such tears as mothers shed
Nor shall the patriot bard refuse to pay
Melodious honours to the patriot dead,
And write above his narrow house of clay,
That all save righteous deeds, must pass away.
But shall they lay thy bones, oh, desert-born,
Where no wild bird hears infant rivers flow?
Oh, not beneath that cloud, which night would scorn,
Not in vile earth, where flowers refuse to grow,
"And vanity, in sables, mimics woe;"
Not in yon rank church-yard, where buried lie
Tyrant and slave, polluting still the air;
But where the rude heath hears the plover cry,
And swings the chainless cloud o'er summits bare;
There shouldst thou rest, thy heart was ever there!
There shouldst thou rest beneath the mountain wind,
Far from the pauper's grave, the despot's door;
Though few would seek thy home, and fewer find
Thy brief inscription on the shadow'd moor:—
"Here lies the preacher of the plunder'd poor."

 

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THEY MET IN HEAVEN.


I.


THROUGH realms of ice my journey lay, beneath
    The wafture of two pinions black and vast,
That shook o'er boundless snows the dust of death,
    While overhead, thick starless Midnight cast
    Gloom on sad forms, that ever onward pass'd.
But whither pass'd they?   O Eternity,
    Thou answerest not! Yet still thy sable wings—
Silently, silently, how silently!—
    Are sweeping worlds away, with all their Kings.
    And still I wander'd with forgotten things,
In pilgrimage with Death, an age-long day,
    A year of anxious ages—so methought—
Till rose a living world in morning grey,
    And light seem'd born of darkness—light which
            brought
    Before my soul the coasts of land remote.
"Hail, holy light, offspring of Heav'n, first-born,
    Or of the eternal, coeternal beam!"
Through worlds of darkness led, and travel-worn,
    Again I felt thy glowing, brightening gleam;
    Again I greeted thine ethereal stream,
And bless'd the fountain whence thy glories flow.


II.


I waked not then, methought, but wander'd slow,
    Where dwell the great, whom death hath freed
            from pain.
Trembling, I gazed on Hampden's thoughtful brow,
    While Strafford smiled upon me in disdain,
    And turn'd away from Hutchison and Vane.
There, some whom criminals disdain'd; and all
    Who, battling for the right, had nobly died;
And some whom justest men deem'd criminal,
    Wond'ring, I saw! the flatter'd, the belied!
    And Muir and Saville, walking side by side!
They wept—e'en Strafford melted, when I told
    Of Britain's woes—of toil that earn'd not bread,
And hands that found not work; but Fairfax scowl'd,
    While Cromwell laugh'd, and Russell's cheek
            grew red,
    When, pale, I spake of Satraps bread-tax-fed.
Lo! as I ceas'd, from earth a Stranger came,
    With hurried step—a presence heavenly fair!
Yet grief, and anger, pride, contempt, and shame
    Were strangely mingled in his troubled stare!
    And thus he spoke, with timid, haughty air,
To Russell, Fairfax, in tones low but sweet:
    "I, too, am noble.   England's magnates rank
Me with themselves; and when, beneath their feet
    Fate's low-born despot, hope-deserted, sank—
When torrid noon his sweat of horror drank—
I join'd his name for ever with my own!"


III.


Him then to answer, one who sate alone,
    Like a maim'd lion, mateless in his lair,
Rose from his savage couch of barren stone,—
    His Kingly features wither'd by despair,
    And heart-worn till the tortur'd nerve was
            bare—
With looks that seem'd to scorn ev'n scorn of
            less
    Than demigods, the Army-Scatterer came;
An awful shadow of the mightiness
    That once was his; the gloom, but not the flame
    Of waning storms, when winds and seas grow
            tame.
The stranger, shrinking from the warrior's eye,
    On his own hands his beauteous visage bow'd,
Sobbing; but soon he rais'd it mournfully,
    And met th' accusing look, and on the crowd
    Smil'd, while the stern accuser spake aloud.


IV.


    "Yet, Lordling,*—though ' but yesterday a King,
    Throneless, I died,'—yet nations sobb'd my knell!
And still I live, and reign, no nameless thing!
    I fell, 'tis true—I failed; and thou canst tell
    That any wretch alive may say I fell,
Of worth convicted, and the glorious sin
    That wreck'd the angels, now I owe and pay,
To wealth and power's pretended Jacobin,
    Scorn for thy glory, laughter for the lay
    That won the flatteries of an abject day.
When Meanness taught her helots to be proud,
    Because the breaker of their bonds was gone;
Didst thou, too, join, magnanimous and loud,
    The yell of millions o'er the prostrate one?
    What cat out-mew'd the Cat of Helicon?
Yes, thou didst soothe my sorrows with an ode,
    When stunn'd I lay beneath Destruction's wing,
And realms embattled o'er their conqueror rode.
    Yes, when a world combined with fate to fling
    A cruel sunshine on each vulgar King;
When fall'n, deserted, blasted, and alone,
Silent he press'd his bed of burning stone,
    What caitiff aim'd at greatness in despair,
    Th' immortal shaft that pierc'd Prometheus there?
Cat, and not vulture! couldst not thou refrain,
    The laureate vile of viler things to be?
When ' Timour's Captive's' cage was rock and main,
    What was ' proud Austria's mournful flower' to thee,
    Thou soul-less torturer of Captivity?
And what to thee, mean Homager of Thrones,
    The sleepless pang that stung him till he died?
Tortur'd, he perish'd—but who heard his groans?
    Chain'd through the soul, the ' throneless homicide'
    Mantled his agony in stoic pride.
While souls guilt-clotted watch'd, with others' eyes,
    And from afar, with others' feet, repair'd
To count and weigh, and quaff his agonies—
    Like Phidian marble he endur'd, and dared
    The Universe to shake what Fate had spared.
How fare the lands he lov'd, and fought to save?
    Oh, Hun and Goth! your new-born hope is gone
Thou, Italy, art Glory's spacious grave,
    Through which the stream of my renown flows on,
    Like thine Euphrates, ruin'd Babylon!
What gain'd my gaolers by my wrongs and fall?
Laws prais'd in hell—not Draco's laws, but worse;
A mournful page, which history writes in gall;
    A table without food—an empty purse;
    A name, become a by-word and a curse,
O'er every sea, to warn all nations, borne!"


V.


Was it the brightening gleam of heavenly morn,
    Beneath the shadow of his godlike brow?
Or, did a tear of grief, and rage, and scorn,
    Down his sad cheek of pride and trouble, flow?—
    He felt upon his cheek th' indignant glow,
But shed no tear, not ev'n a burning tear.
    The fire of sorrow in his bosom pent,
He gazed on Milton, with an eye severe,
    On tranquil Pym a look of sternness bent,
    Then, smiling on the humbled stranger, went
To laugh with Cæsar tasking Hannibal.



* If it be objected to these lines that the great bard is dead, so, I answer,
is also  the great warrior; and he who has honest and useful thoughts to
express of either, or both of them, should do his duty Briton-like.


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