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Full text of "Memoirs of Ebenezer Elliott, the Corn law rhymer, with criticisms upon his writings"

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LIFE, CHARACTER, AND. GENIUS 



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MEMOIRS 



OF 



EBENEZER ELLIOTT 



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W IT 1 1 



CRITICISMS UPON HIS WRITINGS. 



BY JANUARY SEARLE. p *> iv<A 



LONDON : 

WHITTAKER & CO., AVE-MARIA LANE; 
AND J. BROOK, HUDDERSFIELD. 

1852. 



TO 



THE EIGHT HON. THE EAEL OF CAKLISLE, 



IN SINCEBE ADMIEATION OF 



HIS LOEDSHIP'S EMINENT TALENTS, HIS PUBLIC AND PBIVATE VIBTUES, 



AND HIS LAEGE POPULAB SYMPATHIES, 



€jji5 jjnmMp %n\wm is initjj prrmission IPpMrntfu, 



BY HIS LOBDSHIP S 



MOST FAITHFUL AND OBEDIENT SEEYANT, 



THE AUTHOK. 



V IX E F ACE. 



On the appearance of the first edition of this work, or 
that part of it, rather, which is properly mine, 1 was 
accused by some of Elliott's friends of doing him an 
injustice in saving- that he never fully appreciated 
"Wordsworth as a poet. But upon mature consideration, 
I am inclined to stand by that statement. I know well 
enough that numerous passages from the letters and 
prose writings of Elliott might be adduced to show that 
he held Wordsworth in high estimation, and he is 
credited to this extent in my analysis of his genius 
and writings. What he did not appreciate, however, 
was what Wordsworth most valued in the judgment of 
his readers, namely, the spirituality with which he 
endeavoured to invest external nature, and the life of 
man. And this endeavour, which lies at the root of all 
Wordsworth's writings, Elliott had little or no sympathy 
with. In the conclusion of his Autobiography he says : 
"My mind is the mind of my eyes;" and it could not 



Vi PEEFACE. 

have been better characterized. Wordsworth's mind 
made his eyes ; and here lies the grand distinction 
between the two poets. 

In conclusion, I have to return thanks to all who have 
helped me in this volume ; especially to my friend 
Thomas Lister of Barnsley ; and, if it were possible for 
my thanks to reach him, to my poor dead correspondent, 
Paul Rodgers of Sheffield : Bequiescat in pace ! 



HUDDEBSTTELD, 

December 1st, 1851. 



LIFE,' CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 



EBENEZEll ELLIOT T. 



PAIiT I. 

KEYIEW OF EBENEZEll ELLIOTT'S MIND AND WBITIXGS. 

I have to speak in this paper upon the 
genius and character of Ebenezer Elliott, 
whose stormy life is now ended, and whose 
great musical heart lies still and silent in 
the grave. And although, if I consulted 
my own feelings, the love which I bore 
the departed poet would prompt me to 
write a threnody over his ashes, rather 
than a cool analysis of his mind and 

B 



2 LIFE, CHARACTER, AJS T D GENIUS 

writings, yet I will endeavour to merge 
all private sympathies in this discourse, 
and treat my subject in a catholic spirit, 
from the historical point of view alone. 

Fortunately, the materials for this work 
are near at hand ; and the poet has not 
been long enough dead to have passed into 
the perplexing regions either of mythology 
or tradition. Indeed it was but yesterday 
that I conversed with him in his own house, 
heard him read his own poems, and joined 
with his fair daughters in singing the 
beautiful melodies which, at their request, 
he wrote and adapted to some of our most 
popular airs. And when I think of the 
good and brave old man — Avith his venerable 
grey hairs — his kind eyes, now beaming with 
love, and now flashing with indignant fire, 
as he spoke of human wrong and misery — 
I can scarcely reconcile myself to the idea 
that he is gone for ever from the world. 
The stern truth, however, returns to me 
with solemn emphasis, in spite of my in- 
credulity, and I know but too surely, that 
I shall see him no more. It is, nevertheless, 
a high consolation to look back upon the 
noble and manly life which he lived ; for he 
was an examplar worthy, in many important 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 3 

particulars, to be imitated and reverenced. 
He was no half-and-half man, wavering with 
doubtful indecision between two opinions, 
but an earnest and sincere, if not a complete 
and many-sided character. It was his way 
throughout life, first of all to master every 
subject that interested him, and then heroic- 
ally, and without calculating the chances of 
defeat, or caring for the world's sanction or 
opposition, to throw himself into the arena 
as its champion. Like the warriors of the 
old chivalry, wherever he appeared he left 
the marks of his battle-axe behind him. 
Indeed, Nature seems to have cast him in 
such sharp and decisive moulds that she 
might be sure of her man, and secure herself 
from all counterfeits of him. It is at all 
events certain, that while the mannerism of 
every other considerable poet has been seized 
upon by verse-wrights, and persons of that 
ilk, and passed into the general currency of 
literature, Elliott is the only bard whose 
genius has not been corrupted by these 
base coiners. Looking at him through Iris 
writings, he reminds me of some grim 
Cyclop, into whose body a divine soul has 
passed, radiating him with glory, and making 
even his deformities beautiful. Eor he is not 



4i LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

dressed in the ordinary costume of the bards* 
having his garland and singing robes around 
him — such as Spencer and Milton, wore — 
but he appears in the naked buff of a hard- 
working man — grimed with soot and sweat, 
and singing of the " accursed Bread Tax," — 
made manifest to him as such, in the empty 
trenchers of his famished children ! We 
must not look, therefore, in his pages for 
that external polish and courtly bearing 
which characterise the highest nobility of 
the poetic order ; for there is nothing which 
he so little professes. And yet he is not 
without polish, but, on the contrary, he 
sometimes surprises us with delicate touches, 
and even with whole pictures, finished in the 
best style of art. The secret of this rude 
demeanour — this bandying of coarse names 
and crooked epithets, which are so common 
in his writings, lies primarily in the earnest- 
ness of his nature, and, in a secondary sense, 
in that lack of early culture which he sets 
forth so prominently in his autobiography. 
It is this rugged, fiery, and impetuous utter- 
ance, however, which gives the main charm 
to his poetry, and makes it, like Luther's 
speech, a continual battle. I, for one, do 
not wish to see these scars and trenches 



OF EBEXEZER ELLIOTT. O 

erased from his writings. They are the 
birth-pangs of his spirit, as it burst forth, 
with mighty upheavings, from its dumb 
sepulchre, and arose triumphant into life 
and melody. 

In his later writings he evinces more 
mastery over his imagination and feelings 
than in most of his earlier productions, but 
his wild spirit was never entirely tamed ; 
and the spots and claws of the leopard are 
everywhere visible in his pages. Few men, 
however, have proved themselves greater 
masters than he of the secrets of rhythmical 
science. Many of his poems are executed 
with consummate skill; and his descriptive 
passages are so true, natural, and beautiful, 
that they can scarcely be surpassed by any 
similar efforts in the lamma2;e. He excels 
most in this kind of writing — because he is 
always at home with Nature — and loves her 
like a mother, with a gentle, confiding, and 
most affectionate heart. But no sooner do 
the dark aspects of humanity — the wrongs, 
the follies, the pride, and the crimes of men 
pass over his mind, than he bursts forth 
into passionate and vehement exclamation, 
and the calm heavens, and the meek and 
beautiful earth, are suddenly darkened and 

b 2 



6 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

distorted with the fiery ashes of his wrath. 
We see in all that he does a strong man; 
a sort of gigantic Titan, who hates his 
chains ; in whom the Divine impulses are 
so powerful that he must speak, even 
if it be in flame; for although he has a 
wonderful faculty of condensation — both in 
thought and matter — yet he rarely evinces 
that subdued power, that central balance 
and equipoise, which are the highest marks 
of greatness. He knows nothing of the 
deep repose, the sorrowful strength, which 
is manifested in Wordsworth ; nor did he 
ever fully appreciate the writings of that 
noble and philosophical bard. He mistook 
in several instances the artistic simplicity, 
and the pure Greek beauty, of Wordsworth, 
for sheer weakness, and thought very meanly 
of the Ecclesiastical Sonnets. He allowed 
that there was merit in the " Peter Bell," 
but gave his praise grudgingly, like one who 
was half ashamed of his judgment. He had 
no sympathy with those high speculations 
which are for ever haunting the mind of 
Wordsworth, and are so beautifully em- 
bodied in his poetry. He was a far-seeing, 
much-enduring, hard-working, practical man; 
dealing always with practical questions, and 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 7 

rarely attempting to soar into the higher 
regions of thought. Whatever was tinged 
with mysticism, and did not represent some 
tangible matter, which he could grasp and 
wrestle with, was to him idle and empty 
dreaming. He was cradled into poetry by 
human wrong and misery, and was emphat- 
ically, the Bard of Poverty — singing of the 
poor man's loves and sorrows, and denounc- 
ing his oppressors. This he conceived to 
be his mission; and whilst the Corn Laws 
existed, and Labour and Famine went hand 
in hand together, he had no time for the 
dainty speculations of philosophy, even if 
he had possessed the capacity for them. His 
mind, however, was not metaphysical ; but, 
as I said, practical ; and his want of relish for 
Wordsworth as a whole, lay in the necessity 
of his intellect. 

I remember reading to him, after a long 
conversation upon the relative merits of 
Wordsworth and Byron, the fine ode of 
the former poet, called. " Intimations of 
Immortality, gathered from Recollections 
of Early Childhood ; " but notwithstanding 
the profound significance, and deep anthem- 
melody of the poem, he would not acknow- 
ledge its merit. — Nay, he confessed that it 



8 LIFE, CHAKACTEK, AND GENIUS 

was beyond his depth, although he after- 
wards quoted one or two fine lines, which 
had struck him during the reading, and 
seemed to haunt him in spite of himself. — 
This poem, which may he called the Apo- 
theosis of life, and is in every respect a 
wonderful performance, both in spirit, com- 
pass, and execution, is the test by which 
one might measure the depth and culture 
of all candidates for honours in the Poetical 
Tripos. And as some one has said — I 
believe Berkeley — that unless a man have 
doubted the fact of his own existence, he 
may be sure he has no aptitude for meta- 
physics, so it may likewise be said, that he 
who cannot understand the moral fitness 
and spiritual aim of the ode in question, 
has no claim to be admitted into the highest 
regions of poetical inspiration. The truth 
of this postulate is borne out, so far as 
Elliott is concerned, both in his public 
writings and private discourse. The fine 
Platonism of the ode alluded to, finds no echo 
in his heart ; the shadowy recollections, as 
of a dim and forgotten existence, which flit 
over the golden brain of childhood, and 
which to Wordsworth are evidences of an 
old, dateless, and eternal birth, and which, 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 9 

" be they what they may, 

Are still the common light of all our day; 
Are still the fountain light of all our seeing ; 
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make 
Our noisy years seem moments in the being 
Of the Eternal Sdence ; "— 

these recollections, I say, suggest no such 
deep thoughts and high emprises to the 
mind of Elliott, but have a psychological 
base, and may be psychologically explained. 
He looked, in fact, for a literal meaning in 
the ode, and missed, therefore, the Avhole 
grandeur and sublimity of its aim. " Eor 
what purpose," said he, " should the soul 
return again to earth, after it lias once left 
it ? Is life, then, and such a life as this 
famine-life of England, so loveable ? " The 
question is a key to Elliott's mind, and 
we can see very well how many, and what 
kind of chambers in the Spiritual kingdom, 
it will unlock. I find the same practical 
and obstinate question occurring in one of 
his latest poems, the " Plaint," written, as 
he told me, one night to withdraw his 
mind from the pain and agony of his bodily 
suffering. This " Plaint," which is the most 
mystical of all his poems, is pitched in the 
same key-note as the "Silent Land," by Salis, 



10 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

and is wonderfully beautiful and striking. 
It is the sorrowful wail of a soul wandering 
in the dark, on the very margin of the 
eternal shores ; companioned by millions, and 
yet going all alone, into the dark, silent, 
dread, Unknown. I know of nothing so 
sad and melancholy in literature; and the 
gloomy, almost heart-breaking effect of the 
poem is heightened by the dreary melody 
of the rhythm, and the skill whereby the 
main idea of one verse is repeated in the 
next, and merged into some new and still 
more mournful thought. The question to 
which I have alluded will be found in the 
sixth verse of this poem, where the desire 
for the re-union of the soul, either with 
the world or with its ex-tenants in the 
immortal spheres, is regarded as selfish and 
profane, because God is all. Here is the 
poem : — 

PLAINT. 

T. 

" Daek, deep, and cold, the current flows, 
Unto the sea where no wind blows, 
Seeking the land which no one knows. 

n. 
O'er its sad gloom stdl comes and goes, 
The mingled wail of friends and foes, 
Borne to the laud which no one knows. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. H 



III. 



Why shrieks for help yon wretch who goes, 
"With millions, from a world of woes, 
Unto the land which no one knows ? 



IV, 



Though myriads go with him who goes, 
Alone he goes, where no wind hlows. 
Unto the land which no one knows. 



For all must go where no wind blows. 
And none can go for him who goes ; 
None, none return, whence no one knows. 

VI. 

Tet why should he who shrieking goes 
With millions, from a world of woes, 
Re-union seek with it or those ? 

VII. 

Alone with God, where no wind blows, 
And Death, His shadow, doom'd he goes, 
That God is there the shadow shows. 

VIII. 

Oh ! shoreless Deep ! where no wind blows ! 
And thou, oh Land, which no one knows ! 
That God is All, His shadow shows." 

Still, altliougii Elliott could not penetrate 
the deep allusions of Wordsworth, nor ap- 
preciate his philosophy, he held the Bard in 
great reverence, and spoke of the "Excursion" 



12 LIFE, CHAEACTEE, AND GENIUS 

as one of the poems destined for immortality. 
He could quote all its finest descriptive 
passages; and regarded many of Wordsworth's 
Minor Effusions, as pieces of pure nature. 
His love for Southey, "who condescended," 
as he says, " to teach him the art of poetry," 
was sincere, natural, and characteristic. For 
Elliott was a worshipper of power and beauty 
and delighted in the architectural pomp of 
poetry, where he could sit as in a vast cathe- 
dral, and contemplate the gorgeous creations 
of genius upon its painted domes. Hence he 
spoke of "Thalaha" as the most wonderful 
effort of the human imagination, and more 
than one of his pieces is stained with the 
fiery colouring of that caballistic poem. His 
admiration of Byron amounted almost to 
idolatry ; and he was impatient of all dissent 
from his judgment in this particular. Neither 
would he allow you to differ from him, unless 
you could at once substantiate your opinion 
by a direct reference to the poet's writings. 
Nor was it easy to convince him that there 
was a single flaw in the rhetoric or sentiments 
of his noble idol. He would not admit that 
he was irreligious or immoral in his writings; 
and denounced all such judgment as " cant, 
twaddle, and hypocrisy." " It has become 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 13 

fashionable," he said, "to abuse Lord Byron, 
but he will live when the bones of his blas- 
phemers shall have rotted." And then, after 
he had exhausted the fierce tornadoes of his 
wrath against all such blasphemers, he would 
quote you endless passages from this poet, all 
of them full of human beauty, and breathing 
a fine spirit of natural piety. lie had a rich 
and costly edition of " Childe Harold" — 
illustrated, if I remember rightly, by Turner 
— which he cherished with an almost holy 
love; for he declared this poem to be the 
finest master-piece of melody which our 
noble English tongue can boast of. Shelley 
and Keats were likewise great favourites 
with him. The former he loved not only for 
his genius, but for his deep sympathy with 
his race; and the latter he estimated more 
highly than any modern poet, with the 
exception of Byron ; not so much from what 
he had actually accomplished, as for the 
promise which his performances manifested. 
In these likings and estimates of the genius 
of his contemporaries, we see the objective 
tendency of his mind, and its delight in 
sensuous, rather than in spiritual beauty 
and speculative thought. 

I think, therefore, from these consider- 

c 



14 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

ations, and others to be shown hereafter, 
that Elliott can scarcely be classed amongst 
the highest order of poetical minds. And yet 
he belongs to the "true breed of the vermin/' 
as he himself expressed it in speaking of a 
much humbler person. Eor in his writings 
are to be found all the elements of a beauti- 
ful and aesthetic, as well as of a grand moral 
poetry. And it is precisely in the aesthetic 
and moral sphere, as distinguished from the 
spiritual, that he takes his place as a poet; 
looking upon all things through the medium 
of the beautiful, in their relation to the 
moral laws. There is something Hebraic 
and sublime in the stern justice which he 
executes upon falsehood and wrong-doing. 
He is like the Indian impersonation of 
Brahm — all eyes, all ears, all feet — keen to 
see, powerful to perform, swift to overtake. 
He has one central idea — terrible and awful 
in its aspect, although beautiful and benefi- 
cent in its spirit — before which he tries all 
causes, and men, and things. It is the 
Eternal Idea of Bight; his synonyme of God. 
And this idea is perpetually present in his 
mind, pervades all his thoughts, will not be 
shuffled nor cheated, but demands a full 
satisfaction from all violators of it. The 



OP EBENEZEK ELLIOTT. 15 

Titled Scoundrel, and the Mitred Priest, 
the Bread-Tax-Eater, the Pox-Hunter, the 
Game-Law-Squire, the Hundred Popes of 
England's Jesuitry, are all summoned before 
this tribunal, and dealt with — sometimes 
with an over-severe judgment. One can 
make allowance, however, for the occasional 
exaggeration of the sentence, because the 
doom of his delinquents is always just. 
Besides, a man whose feelings, as he says, 
" have been hammered until they have 
become cold-short, and are apt to snap and 
fly off in sarcasms," is not likely to be choice 
in his expressions, when he is dealing with 
known lies; nor have they any mercy to 
expect at his hands. Por poetry, with Elliott, 
was no pastime, nor even a musical unrest, 
but a stern and inspired demonic labour, 
deep as life, strong as death ; involving life, 
or death issues. He had a great contempt for 
dilettante poetry, and could pardon notlrihg 
short of genius ; and even then, genius must 
be married to practical endeavour, or God 
had thrown away his highest gift upon an 
indolent dreamer. "We cannot spare one 
true man from the ranks of thought and 
progress, in these distracted times," he said ; 
"and it grieves me to see any man waste 



16 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

his talents in constructing cobwebs, when 
the world has to be built anew/' Eor he 
looked upon the world as altogether diseased; 
right and wrong had changed places in it, 
and the divine was undermost. A hireling 
church, and a do-nothing, eat-every-thing 
Aristocracy, were his nightmare of this 
moral death ; and he devoted all his powers 
to crush it. The waving com fields, and 
the sweet-singing birds, piping their rich 
melodies in the trees and hedge-rows around 
him, made him sad. "God has given us 
food to eat, and man, the tyrant and oppres- 
sor, has taxed it !" he one day exclaimed, as 
I wandered with him, in the valley below 
his house, "and these beautiful birds are 
sino-ina: as if there were no sorrow in the 
world. Ye break my heart, ye little birds,'* 
he added, turning with his eyes brimful of 
tears, to the unconscious musicians. It was 
a touching sight ; for Elliott was then grey, 
and bowed down with the weight of years 
and affliction. He could not find one pure, 
unmixed pleasure in all the landscapes, 
woodlands, and cloudlands of Nature; for 
this divine harmony which he saw every 
where around him, became, as I said, sad 
and painful when contrasted, as by the very 



OF EEENEZER ELLIOTT. 17 

law of his mind it was sure to be, with 
the wretchedness and misery of men. For 
the Poet had looked upon Nature in so 
many and such various moods, that all 
her phenomena and forms were transfigured 
by the power of his feelings and passions, 
and had become to him the symbols and 
the representatives of human thought and 
life. Nature and man's life were fused 
indeed into one great whole, and in the 
midst of sunshine, and waters, and singing 
birds, he heard the wild wail of famine, 
and the shrieks and moans of bleeding and 
broken hearts. Nay, he took a strange 
and unwearied pleasure in drawing pictures 
of woe and misery, and making them speak 
in a language that melts all hearts. AVe 
may thank Crabbe for much of this, and 
for the gloomy colouring which darkens the 
genius of our manful and earnest poet. 
Crabbe was his model in early life, and 
confirmed the natural bias of his mind 
towards those dark and doleful subjects. 
All his heroes are unhappy; the victims 
of social wrong and Corn Law oppression. 
He regarded Poverty as the waste and 
flaming Sahara of Life, where no flowers 
grew, no rain descended, no stars shone. It 

c 2 



18 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

was his extremest, deepest hell ; and he 
peopled it with horror and despair. On 
the other hand, outward prosperity and a 
" Home of Taste," for the working man, 
were his highest visions of a terrestrial 
Paradise. These were the two Poles of 
his ethical and political science. He could 
not understand that Poverty was no evil; 
that it might he a great good ; capahle of 
yielding priceless blessings : he called it an 
immitigable curse. Por he looked at it with 
the eyes of a Political Economist, and could 
not, or would not, entertain it as a question 
of morals. Prom a very sufficient trial of 
poverty, however, I can pronounce it good 
for discipline, consolation, guidance, strength; 
a very Hercules' cradle ; and not at all, there- 
fore, a curse, but a blessing ; provided always 
that a trustful and hopeful heart be at the 
bottom of it. But Elliott could not see the 
Angel through this disguise of rags ; and his 
professed business was to denounce it as a 
loathsome harlot ; the mother of crime and 
infamy. As a politician, he was stone-blind 
to the moral uses of suffering ; and neither 
the public history of nations, nor the private 
lives of great men, who had been tried and 
purified in that fire, could instruct him in 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 10 

the wisdom of the Institution, or induce him 
to regard it as a divine appointment. Free 
trade was his religion, and heaven was paved 
with cheap bread, and rich mosaics of golden 
untaxed ^rain. From the altar of this en- 
thusiasm he preached his new gospel of 
commerce, which was to emancipate the 
world from tyranny and superstition, and 
regenerate the lives and ways of men. It 
is curious and instructive to observe the 
strong faith which he has in the power 
and consequences of this material reform; 
what impossible things he expects from it ! 
and how earnestly he believes the demon 
that possesses him, and speaks through his 
tongue. Had he been born a little earlier, 
he would have been a leader in the Com- 
monwealth — perhaps a Puritan preacher, a 
regicide, and Poet Laureate to the Lord 
Protector. He would have fought well too, 
at Marston Moor, if one may judge from 
the battle-music which rings through his 
verses. But as a divine guide, and teacher 
of heavenly things, he has no faculty, and 
therefore no mission. He is a poet, but 
not a priest ; and one always feels dark and 
lonely with him, except when he goes forth 
to worship on the hill tops. The beautiful 



20 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

and sorrowful stars instruct us in a holier 
lore than that of Corn Law Rhymes, and 
anti-Corn Law curses ; and the poet himself 
is never so human, natural, and happy, as 
when singing the songs which they inspire. 
His thoughts and wavs are his own, how- 
ever — the proper and necessary unfolding of 
his nature, and should be received and 
accepted as such. 

The philosophy of Adam Smith and Jeremy 
Bentham was the substratum upon which his 
mind was built ; and this philosophy, inter- 
penetrated by his genius, found at last a 
voice which burst forth in Corn Law Rhymes. 
It was the first melody that ever came from 
the dead and monotonous mill-wheels of 
political economy, and is the best result 
which I, for one, can hope for from that 
quarter. The works of the above authors, 
and those of the good Colonel Thompson, 
made Elliott a politician; and he no sooner 
saw the evil effects of the Corn Laws upon 
the industry of the nation, than he began to 
denounce them. Unfortunately, his hatred 
of monopoly made him a monoplist in his 
hatred, limited his vision, dwarfed his sym- 
pathies, and converted him into a kind «£ 
of Polyphemus — a one-eyed King of Song. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 21 

The Corn Laws were at the root of all our 
evils; social, moral, political, and religious. 
Destroy these laws, and you will have free 
trade, and with it a happy, contented, and 
virtuous population ! Such was the remedy 
which the Poet proposed for the deep spiritual 
disease of the nation. 

His insight did not extend beyond the 
cuticle of the world ; and all its spiritual 
wants and necessities were as impenetrably 
hidden from his eyes as if they had been 
closed by the seven seals spoken of in the 
Apocalypse. But no man living in his time 
had a clearer practical vision, or a more 
readv and seasonable wit. He alwavs struck 
at the right moment, whilst the iron was 
hot, and sent the hissing and burning sparks 
around him, with good effect. And thus, 
Avhether speaking at public meetings, lec- 
turing at mechanics' institutes, or writing 
political lyrics, he was always successful. 

His early poems are remarkable for rude 
power, and for a wild and somewhat turgid 
imagination. They remind me of the Voluspa, 
and the Prose Edda of the Scandinavians, 
Avhere the Norse genius revels in unrestrained 
license, and conjures its gigantic creations 
out of the tempest and the whirlwind, and 



•22 MFE, CHAEACTEE, AND GENIUS 

the ghostly regions of eternal ice and snow. 
We see that the wild Eagle has not yet 
acquired the mastery over its wings ; although 
in all its heavenward attempts there is much 
of glory, if also of defeat. It is extremely 
interesting to trace the progress of the poet's 
mind from his first effort, " The Vernal 
Walk," made in his seventeenth year, up 
to the publication of the "Uanter" and 
the "Corn Law Khymes." He gathers 
fresh strength at every step, and beats up 
the thunder from the hard highway as he 
marches along, giving us assurance that an 
earnest fighting man is on the road, who 
means, by the grace of God, to become a 
hero and a conqueror. Unfortunately, he 
is too often a Quixotic spendthrift of his 
power : and, although he does not fight 
windmills, he often grinds in them — like 
blind Sampson — and that too, with no prac- 
tical result, but merely to shake off the 
superabundance of his strength. I have 
read the "Vernal Walk" with pleasure, as 
a literary curiosity; and with the same 
feelings which induce us to look into the 
early literature of great nations. It is very 
singular too, the striking resemblance in the 
development of ideas which exists between 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 23 

the youth of man, and the youth of nations. 
"Wonder and worship are the elements of 
human culture, and religion flows naturally 
out of the loving heart, in the presence of 
Nature. Hence all great nations have their 
theogonies and theosophies, whose origin lies 
in the very morning of their existence; 
and hence also the earliest efforts of our 
best poets have a religious source. Elliott's 
"Vernal Walk," originally published by 
Mr. Eowler, of Cambridge, is full of this 
devotional feeling, and is moreover no incon- 
siderable performance, in the literary sense, 
if we take into the account his neglected 
education, and the age at which it was 
written. I fancy also that I can discover 
in this poem the seeds of the future man, 
his love of Nature, his worship of the 
beautiful, his earnestness, strength, and 
weakness. The same fusion of human 
sorrow with natural beauty, which marks 
all he does in after years, is likewise visible 
here. It is, however, an imitative and 
reminiscent, rather than an inspired poem; 
and he apologises for including it in Ms 
collected works by saying, that as the idiot 
of the family is sometimes a favourite, so 
this poem is endeared to him by the critical 



24 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS, 

persecution which it has suffered. I subjoin 
a few extracts, which will give some idea of 
this earliest effusion of the poet: — 

" Hark ! 'tis the hymn of Nature ! Love-taught birds 
Salute, with songs of gratulation sweet, 
The sweet May morning. How harmoniously 
Over these meadows of the rising sun 
The music floats ! O Love ! Love ever young ! 
On the soft bosom of the Spring reclined ; 
Nurse of the tender thought, and generous deed ! 
Thou comest to bless thy children. * * 
Oft have I passed yon cottage door at eve. 
Where sat the swain, his daily labour done, 
Nursing his little children on his knee, 
And kissing them at times, whilst o'er him bent 
His happy partner, smiling as she viewed 
Her lisping babes ; then have I blessed thee, Love ! 
And fondly called thee Fount of Social Peace ! 
What art thou, deathless, all-pervading power, 
That, like a meek, yet universal sun, 
Through universal Nature gently shinest ? 
Art thou a ray from light's unclouded source ? 
An emanation of divinity ? 
No; thou art God!" 

*,y* au j£. <y. 

"7? -w tp ?;■ 

" Here springs the odorous primrose ; sweetly here 
The orchard blooms; here bees are full of Spring. 
The poet courts the violet as he strays ; 
But Winter cometh, and the flower is gone ; 
And then saith he, ' 'Tis faded.' Thus, Man ! 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 25 

Thou livest, and diest ! Strong is thy youthful frame, 
But soou the feeble steps of Age approach, 
Follow'd by Death. Even on thy new-made grave 
Oblivion sits " 



"Ere there lived one soul 

To worship thee, Oh God of Holiness ! 

Wrapt in incomprehensibility, 

Pleased with self-contemplation, thou didst muse 

In silence on thine own eternal thoughts. 

Through all extent thou piercest ; nothing is 

Where thou art not : even in me thou dwellest, 

Thou movest the strings of mental melody 

Which tune my soul to harmony and love. 

Thou bidd'st my fancy soar to realms of light, 

Bidd'st reason, holy reason, muse ou thee 

And in thy works behold thee, throned o'er heights 

And depths of glory inaccessible. 

I, in the majesty of Nature, see 

The greatness of eternal majesty; 

I, in her smiling scenery, behold 

The bounteous smile of beauty infinite. 

Thy goodness is unbounded, God of Love ! 

Here, or wherever uncreated light 

Flames in the sea of ever-vital beams, 

World peopled — as this vernal air with buds — 

Father and God ! thy sons shall worship thee !" 

But notwithstanding that these early effu- 
sions are rudely and coarsely constructed, 

D 



28 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

there are gleams of real talent in them, 
and touches of that deep pathos whereof 
Elliott has since proved himself so great 
a master. The Rejected's Song in " The 
Second Nuptials " may be instanced as a 
specimen of his early skill in this depart- 
ment of poetry. 

At a very early period of his poetical ca- 
reer, Elliott was fortunate enough to secure 
the friendship of the poet Southey; who, 
on the appearance of his second volume, 
which originally comprised "Bothwell," — a 
dramatic poem, "The Exile," and "Second 
Nuptials," with a Preface from " Peter 
Eaultless to his brother Simon," — defying 
his reviewers — wrote him as follows : " There 
is power in the least of these tales ; but 
the higher you pitch your tone the better 
you succeed. Thirty years ago they would 
have made your reputation ; and thirty 
years hence, the world will wonder that 
they did not do so." Elliott's third volume 
contained a satire, under the title of 
" Giaour," which, strange enough, was a 
vehement attack upon Lord Byron. The 
secret of its history is one of the many 
curiosities of literature. According to 
Elliott's own statement, it was written 



OF EBENEZEK ELLIOTT. 27 

with a view to goad Lord Byron into 
a notice of him; and to revenge himself 
for an affront which he fancied he had 
received from the noble lord, in the old 
Bank at Rotherham. Tke party wko re- 
lates tkis storv, tkinks it skould receive 
but a qualified credence. There seems, 
however, to be no reason to doubt its 
accuracy — since the original statement was 
made by Elliott himself ; and I have fre- 
quently remarked, that he was not only 
candid in the announcement, but severe in 
the condemnation of his own faikngs. It 
is, moreover, easy enougk to see now a 
young and sensitive man — conscious of kis 
own unacknowledged merits, might be en- 
trapped by the impetuosity of his feelings, 
into an ungenerous revenge of a supposed 
insult. Byron's " English Bards and Scotch 
Reviewers " is an example of this head- 
strong retaliation ; and Elliott could very 
well plead it as a precedent, if not as a 
justification. But in neither instance must 
we draw too hasty conclusions, from these 
erratic outbursts ; for they are no true 
indications of the character of either party. 
In both cases it is wounded pride that 
speaks, and not a corrupt and revengeful 



28 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

heart. I do not seek, however, to apologise 
for Elliott's conduct in this instance; and 
will merely add that Lord Byron took no 
notice of his assailant. 

" Corn Law Rhymes and the Ranter ' 
appeared next, in one volume, and were 
noticed in the "Eclectic," and in "Black- 
wood's Magazine." In 1829, he published 
the "Village Patriarch," which was praised 
by the "Westminster," but did not bring 
Mm the suffrage and applause of the public. 
He owes the celebrity which he soon after 
acquired, to an accidental visit which Dr. 
Bowring paid to T. A. Ward, Esq., of 
Sheffield. This gentleman placed a copy 
of the " Corn Law Bhymes, &c," in the 
hands of the Doctor — who was immediately 
struck with the great merit of the Poet, 
and was subsequently introduced to him 
by Mr. Ward. In returning to London, 
Dr. Bowring visited William Howitt, at 
Nottingham, where he met Wordsworth, and 
made them acquainted with the "wonderful 
poet of Sheffield, not Montgomery, but a new 
name." Mr. Howitt claims to have direct- 
ed Southey's attention to Elliott, through 
Wordsworth; but this is an error, for Elliott 
had already been known to Southey for ten 



OF EBENEZETt ELLIOTT. 29 

or eleven years. In London, Dr. Bowring 
showed Elliott's poems to Bulwer, who 
introduced them to the public in an anony- 
mous letter in the "New Monthly Magazine." 
It is dated March 19th, 1831, and is entitled 
"A Letter to Dr. Southey, &c, Poet- 
Laureate, respecting a remarkable poem by 
a Mechanic." Bulwer concludes his letter 
thus : " And now I think you will admit 
that I am borne out in the praises with 
which I have prefaced this poem. I do 
not know whether the author be young, or 
old ; if the former, I must unaffectedly add, 
that to my judgment, he has given such a 
promise as few men, even in this age — an 
age wronged and unappreciated — would be 
capable of performing. " 

This friendly notice may be regarded 
as the culminating point in Elliott's poet- 
ical career; for from this time his fame 
spread over the land, and his merit was 
generally acknowledged. Miss Jewsbury, in 
the "Athenaeum," Mrs. Holland, in the 
"New Monthly," and various other writers, 
hastened to pay him homage; and Thomas 
Carlyle wrote a genial criticism upon his 
writings, in the " Edinburgh Review." In 
1833, '34, and '35, he collected and published 

jd 2 



LIFE, CHAEACTEE, AND GENIUS 



his poems in three successive volumes, and in 
1840, the previous editions being exhausted, 
he published the whole of his works in one 
volume, through Tait, of Edinburgh. His 
later poems have since been published in two 
volumes, by Pox, London, under the title 
of "More Verse and Prose/' by the Corn 
Law E/hymer. 

I do not propose to enter into a critical 
analysis of these works, in their separate 
character; but I may make a few short 
remarks upon them by way of illustrating 
the genius and limits of the writer. It is 
singular enough, as I said awhile ago, that 
his tales are all sad, and his heroes 
unhappy. He had studied the physiology 
and anatomy of human misery, and was 
its poetical demonstrator. Every painful 
throb, and every agony of the heart, was 
familiar to his ear, and he reproduced them 
in melodies which drop down into the soul 
like the tears of Music. He loves the 
cypress and the yew ; and the gloomy 
aisles of death and the grave. I have 
before alluded to his powers of pathos; 
and it is strange how such tenderness, pity, 
and deep womanly love, should be united 
to so much rugged manliness, sternness, 



OF EBENEZEE, ELLIOTT. 31 

fierceness, and valour, as met together in 
his nohle and hospitable nature. It was 
this mixture of opposing elements, however, 
which gave strength, beauty, and consist- 
ency, to his character; and although his 
curses and his hatred were so violent, that 
he exhausted all the capabilities of language 
in his utterance of them — yet there was 
nothing low or vulgar in all this, and 
looked at from the true point of vision it 
was even grand and prophetic, — like the 
half savage, half archangelic denunciations 
of the old Hebrew seers. For this hate 
sprang from love; from the inmost depths 
of a heart that vibrated with sympathies 
for all that was high and dear to man. 
Hence an act of oppression done to tho 
meanest creature, was done to him; and as 
if he had been God's deputy on earth, he 
seized his thunderbolts, and hurled them 
flaming upon the head of the aggressor. 
He pleads for the poor, because they have 
no one else to plead for them; and it is 
most beautiful and touching to see him 
kneeling before the Maker of all the 
worlds, and imploring heavenly justice at 
his hands, for these wronged and suffering 
children. He is blamed for writing political 



32 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

poetry, and his most friendly critics — Carlyle 
amongst the number — admonished him of the 
fleeting nature of such effusions. But politics 
were his element — the motive and the cue 
for all his actions and literary achievements. 
His mission, indeed, from the beginning to 
the end of his life, was that of a reformer — 
chiefly in the political sphere ; and he clothed 
his message in the forms of poetry, and 
the robes of song, that he might render 
it attractive and successful. In later ages 
his poetry will mark the history of his 
time ; for it is the embodiment of the 
wrongs and sufferings of the people, and 
of that "bloodless revolution" which has 
just terminated in commercial freedom. 
He has reflected, likewise, in his verse all 
the great political movements of the age; 
and we see there, in shadowy outline, the 
mighty pageantry of Europe as it passed 
in blood and fire before the eyes of men 
in 1848 and '49. Nothing escapes him con- 
nected with these external movements ; for 
he is deeply and personally interested, not 
only as a poet, but as a man, in all these 
outward and human concerns. His genius, 
however, is not universal, but limited. He 
has but one die in his mint wherewith he 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 33 

stamps all his issues. lie does not, like 
Shakspcre, give us endless types of cha- 
racter, hut reproduces himself in his poems, 
as Byron did hefore him. His sympathies 
are deep and extensive; hut they are all of 
one class. His very love is sorrow. He 
cannot laugh at any time, without weeping. 
He has wrung from knowledge its deepest 
lesson, and finds it hitter as hlood. His 
teaching is all hopeless, save in one direc- 
tion, and that in the lowest of all directions 
— namely, the political. He lacked faith 
and spiritual insight, and could not harmo- 
nize the distracting elements of the human 
world ; nor contemplate them aloof from 
their present and practical hearings. The 
world disturbed him too much, and he was 
too much of a man to he a philosopher in 
it. His poetry was not art — although he 
was an artist — hut impulse and passion. 
He did not, like Goethe, study men and 
things, nor pass through all the grades of 
animal, intellectual, and spiritual experience, 
for literary purposes, or for his develop- 
ment as a complete man; — he had no such 
ice in his nature ; he was all fervour and 
fire, and lie loved the world too well to make 
experiments upon it for artistic purposes. 



34 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

There is a moral in his politics, and a 
moral even in his most trifling effusions; 
and whilst he spares not the classes above 
him in social rank, neither does he spare 
those of his own order. A knave is as 
infamous to him in a fustian jacket as in 
an ermine robe, 

I have said that Crabbe was the Poet 
who first formed his style of writing, and 
determined the natural tendency of his mind 
to sorrowful themes. He followed Crabbe, 
likewise, in the structure of his tales, 
although he is immeasurably superior to 
him in imagination, diction, and melody. 
"The Exile," dedicated to Bulwer, is after 
this model, but deeper in its feeling than 
anything to be found in Crabbe, and incom- 
parably more powerful. So, likewise, the 
poem called " The Letter, " is of that 
household character which Crabbe loved 
to delineate. This is a beautiful, simple, 
touching, and domestic tragedy; a common 
tale of common occurrence. It is managed 
throughout with great skill ; and contains 
passages of real and marvellous beauty. 
Both these poems are examples of the 
power of genius to exalt human passion 
and human misery, and invest them with 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 35 

enduring interest. His picture of the 
maiden Anna, prior to her marriage and 
desertion, is one of the sweetest in poetry ; 
and he ransacks all the charms of nature 
wherewith to clothe her virgin heauty. 
Indeed, whenever he speaks of woman, 
his words melt into music ; and violets 
and all sweet flowers spring up and blossom 
around him, as if by enchantment. The 
poem which he calls "Love," is almost 
an Anthem; and would be worthy to be 
celebrated as such, in some grand cathedral 
service, if it were perfect in its representa- 
tions of the divine passion. But in this, 
as in all other of Elliott's performances, 
we miss the highest voices, the choral 
symphonies of the spiritual spheres. He 
sings of human love in its relation to 
the sexes, and to social life, with the lyre 
and emphasis of a master ; but of the 
divinest love, to which all other love is 
but the prelude and the initiation, he 
knows nothing. He sticks to flesh and 
blood, and dare not trust the heavenly 
inspirations, lest they should lead him into 
mysticism. Still, this poem is worthy to 
have been pronounced at the banquet 
of Plato ; and old Plutarch would have 



36 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

worshipped the author of it. Let the 
following passages speak for themselves : — 

" Love ! eldest Muse, Time heard thine earliest lay 
When light through heaven led forth the new-born day. 
The stars that give no accent to the wind, 
Are golden odes, and music to the mind; 
So, Passion's thrill is Nature's minstrelsy ; 
So, to the young heart love is poetry. 
God of the soid ! illumination caught 
From thy bright glance, is energy to thought ; 
And song bereft of thee is cold and tame. 



But when the heart looks through the eyes of love 
On Nature's form, things lifeless breathe and move. 
The dewy forest smiles ; dim Morning shakes 
The rainbow from his plumage ; music wakes 
The dimpled ripple of the azure wave ; 
In fiery floods green hills their tresses lave, 
And myriad flowers, all brightening from the dews, 
Day's earth-born stars, their golden beams effuse ; 
Transported passion bids rocks, floods, and skies, 
Burst into song, while her delighted eyes 
To all they see their own rich hues impart ; 
And the heart's language speaks to every heart." 

A little further on I find the following 
lines, which, as they have a personal hearing 
upon the poet and his home, will he read 
with interest : — 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 37 

" Love, 'twas my heart that named thee — sweetest word, 
Here, or in highest heaven, pronounced or heard. 
Whether by seraph near the throne above, 
Or soul-sick maiden, in the vernal grove, 
Or matron, with her first-born on her knee, 
Or sweeter, lisped by rose-lipped infancy ! 
Yes, love ! my heart did name thee ; not becaua 
Thy mandate gave the bright-haired comet law* ; 
Not that thy hand, in good Almightiest showers 
The ever-blooming, fiery petalled flowers, 
"Wide o'er the fields of hyacinthine heaven ; 
But that to me thy richest smile hath given 
Bliss, tried in pain. So 'mid my rosy boys, 
In joy and grief, I sing thy griefs and joys." 

He then bursts out in these beautiful 
strains, picturing his own family group, 
and domestic happiness : — 

" Blessed is the hearth when daughters gird the fire, 
And sons that shall be happier than their sire, 
Who sees them crowd around his evening chair, 
While love and hope inspire his wordless prayer. 
O from their home paternal may they go, 
With little to unlearn, though much to know ! 
Them, may no poisoned tongue, no evil eye, 
Curse for the virtues that refuse to die ; 
The generous heart, the independent mind, 
Till truth, like falsehood, leaves a sting behmd ! 
May Temperance crown their feast, and Friendship share ! 
May Pity come, Love's sister spirit, there ! 
May they shun baseness, as they shun the grave ! 
May they be frugal, pious, humble, brave ! 

E 



38 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

Sweet peace be theirs— the moonlight of the breast- 
Arid occupation, and alternate rest ; 
And dear to care and thought the rural walk ; 
Theirs' be no flower that withers on the stalk, 
But roses cropped, that shall not bloom in vain ; 
And Hope's blessed sun, that sets to rise again. 
Be chaste their nuptial bed, their home be sweet, 
Their floor resound the tread of little feet ; 
Blessed beyond fear and fate, if blessed by thee, 
And heirs, Love! of thine Eternity." 

Elliott's longest, and best work upon the 
whole, is "The Village Patriarch." It is 
professedly a political poem; and in the 
dedication— which is addressed to Henry 
Brougham — he calls it the incarnation of 
a century. Enoch "YVray, the blind old 
Patriarch of the Village, is finely drawn, 
and his early recollection of better days 
is made to tell, with painful effect, upon 
the miseries which surround him in the 
desolation of his age. It is, in fact, an 
Epic of misery; and Elliott, like Dante, had 
been in hell. It is a book without hope, 
and his prophecies of England's future are 
as terrible as anything in Isaiah. It is 
embued, too, with the Hamlet spirit; or, 
perhaps I should say, with that of Manfred. 
But it is set in such a frame-work of poetic 
jewels, that it would be difficult to find its 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 39 

compeer; and for pathos there is certainly 
no poem in our language to match it. It 
reads as if it were written in tears. The 
pictures of rustic scenery, however, which it 
contains, are sunny, genial, and glowing with 
life. Elliott knows most of the wild flowers 
hy name, and the colour and fashion of 
their leaves and petals. Enoch appears at 
his cottage door, attracted by the [ brief 
sunshine of the winter's day, and the poet 
makes the red-breast trill his lay in the old 
man's ears, perched on a blossoming hazel. 
Rivers flow and murmur through his verses, 
and flash in the sunshine, through valley 
and meadow, or fall with trumpet voices 
over rocks in the dark and lonesome glen. 
The hum of the bee, and the twitter of 
the wren, are familiar and musical sounds 
to him; and he knows the song of all the 
forest birds. There is nothing too humble 
for his notice and love. The weed on the 
wall, the snake in the grass, the poor harm- 
less fly — as gentle Shakspere calls it — are 
all God's creatures, and dear to his heart. 
He says in his Autobiography, that he 
became acquainted in his walks with a 
beautiful green snake, about a yard long, 
which, on the fine Sabbath mornings, about 



40 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS, 

ten o'clock, seemed to expect Mm at the top 
of Primrose Lane, It became so familiar 
that it ceased to uncurl at his approach. 
And he has sat on the stile beside it, until 
it seemed unconscious of his presence. 
" When I arose to go, " he says, " it 
would only lift the scales behind its head 
or the skin beneath them, and they shone 
in the sun like fire. I know not how 
often this beautiful and harmless child of 
God may have sat for his picture in my 
writings; a dozen at the least." And it 
was by this close observance of Nature, 
and through this deep love for her manifold 
creatures, that he came to represent them 
so truthfully in his poems. I know of 
nothing finer than this apostrophe to the 
Moors, which occurs in the fifth book of 
the Village Patriarch :— 

" The moors ! all hail ! ye changeless, ye sublime ! 
That seldom hear a voice save that of Heaven. 
Scorners of chance, and fate, and death, and time. 
But not of him whose viewless hand hath riven 
The chasm, through which the mountain stream is driven. 
How like a prostrate giant — not in sleep — 
But listening to his beating heart, ye lie. 
With winds and clouds dread harmony ye keep ; 
Ye seem alone beneath the boundless sky ; 
Ye speak, are mute, and there is no reply." 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 41 

In the centre, however, of all this out- 
ward array of beauty, which clothes the 
poem, the worm of decay and death is 
gnawing; and the poet leads us from the 
banqueting halls of Nature to a horrid 
feast of skulls. Misery and famine are 
everywhere ; and when the curtain falls 
over the poem, it is as if a dark blanket 
were dropped down from heaven by sor- 
rowing angels, over some region of beauty 
abandoned to despair. 

The concluding lines of this fine poem are 
amongst his happiest and most successful 
efforts : — 

"And when the woodbine's clustered trumpet blows; 
And when the pink's melodious hues shall speak, 
In unison of sweetness with the rose, 
Joining the song of every bird that knows 
How sweet it is of wedded love to sing ; 
And when the fells, fresh bathed in azure air, 
Wide as the summer day's all golden wing, 
Shall blush to Heaven, that nature is so fair, 
And man condemned to labour in despair ; 
Then the gay gnat, that sports its little hour ; 
The falcon, wheeling from the ancient wood ; 
The redbreast, fluttering o'er its fragrant bower ; 
The yellow-bellied lizard of the flood ; 
And dewy morn, and evening — in her hood 
Of crimson, fringed with lucid shadows grand — 
Shall miss the Patriarch ; at his cottage door 

E 2 



42 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

The bee shall seek to settle oil his hand, 

But from the vacant bench haste to the moor, 

Mourning the last of England's high-souled poor, 

And bid the mountains weep for Enoch Wray ! 

And for themselves ! — albeit of things that last 

Unaltered most ; for they shall pass away 

Like Enoch, though their iron roots seem fast 

Bound to the eternal future, as the past ; 

The Patriarch died ! and they shall be no more. 

Yes, and the sailless worlds, which navigate 

The unutterable deep, that hath no shore, 

Will lose their starry splendour soon or late ! 

Like tapers, quenched by him whose will is fate ! 

Tes, and the Angel of Eternity, 

Who numbers worlds, and writes their names in light, 

Ere long, Oh Earth, will look in vain for thee ! 

And start, and stop, in his unerring flight, 

And, with his wings of sorrow and affright, 

Veil his impassioned brow and heavenly tears ! " 

"The Splendid Village" is a poem of the 
same cast as " The Village Patriarch," and is 
another chapter of the prophecies of Jeremiah, 
although written as a satire. He laments the 
decay of old virtues and customs, and mourns 
once more over the bloated prosperity of the 
bad, and the wretchedness and poverty of the 
people. It contains, like all his poems, pas- 
sages of great tenderness and beauty. 

" Bothwell" and " Kerhonah" are attempts 
at dramatic poetry, and failures. For Elliott 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 43 

is no Proteus, and can assume no other form 
than his own. His individuality is too strong 
in him to be put off, and he makes all men 
in his own likeness. 

" The Ranter " and " The Corn Law 
Rhymes," which first attracted the general 
notice of the public to the Poet, are amongst 
his happiest effusions. "The Gospel Tree" 
sermon is a historic record, and reflects all 
that the eloquent preacher Stephens, or the 
Chartist orator Vincent, has thought, felt, 
and spoken in the late disastrous times. — 
Whilst, however, I can understand the in- 
tense earnestness which breathes throughout 
this poem, I find fault with the poem it sell', 
as I do with most of Elliott's longer works, 
because it is too literary. He is always at 
the height of his strength, and one can feel 
the strong writer in his sentences, and detect 
his art. In other words, he aims at powerful 
writing, and his real strength often passes 
away in thunder-clouds. It was the fault of 
his nature, which on one side was all antago- 
nism, and on the other all love. There is a 
strange fascination, however, about this short 
poem, which nothing but genius could pro- 
duce. The materials are bare and scanty, 
and there is neither plot nor plan in it ; 



4i LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

yet it is wonderfully effective. We have first 
of all a picture of the cottage where the 
Ranter lodges — then we see the poor widow 
rise at daybreak, to prepare breakfast for her 
little household, for it is the Sabbath morn- 
ing, and the Ranter's congregation of mecha- 
nics will soon await him at the Gospel Tree. 
Presently she goes to awake her son, and we 
see her trembling with indecision as she gazes 
upon the face of her " o'er laboured boy" — 
half inclined to let him sleep on. But she 
knows it would pain him to miss the morn- 
ing's discourse, for it may be the last he will 
ever hear from the poor preacher, whose pale 
and wasted form is already smitten with the 
blight and mildew of death. So she rouses 
him ; and he accompanies the Ranter to the 
place of meeting, whilst, 

" the mountains one by one 

Ascend in light ; and slow the mists retire 

From vale and plain. The clouds on Stannington 

Behold a rocket — No, 'tis Morthen spire! 

The sun is risen ! cries Stanedge, tipped 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 woods, and waterfalls. 



OF EBEXEZER ELLIOTT. 45 

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 angels' wings ; while skies of blue and gold 
Stoop for Miles Gordon on the mountain's brow. " 

And in the midst of this magnificent 
scenery, under the old oak of Shirecliffe, 
the Ranter delivers his sermon. After 
which the congregation disperses, and the 
poor brave Preacher disappears to die. But 
the image of the man never leaves you after 
reading the poem, although Elliott gives no 
portrait of him. It is the words he speaks 
which fashion him to our minds, and give 
him such a distinct individuality. I may 
add also, that the conclusion of the sermon 
is the most hopeful prophecy to be found 
in Elliott's writings, and I will quote it 
here as a specimen of the sunny side of 
his mind : — 

" Poor Bread-taxed 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 steeped in blood. 



46 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

When by our Pather's voice the skies are riven, 

That, like the winnowed chaff, disease may fly ; 

And seas are shaken by the breath of Heaven, 

Lest hi 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 mirrored on the bay, 

Boll, 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 Oceans drowned. 

Despond not, then, ye plundered sons of trade ! 

Hope's wounded wing shall yet disdain the ground, 

And Commerce, while the powers of evil fade, 

Shout o'er all seas, — ' All Lands for me were made.' 

Her's are the apostles destined to go forth 

Upon the wings of mighty winds, and preach 

Christ crucified! To her the south and north 

Look through their tempests; and her love shall reach 

Their farthest ice, if life there be 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, fallen their trophies, lost their power. 

Then o'er the enfranchised nations wilt thou shower, 

Like dew-drops from the pinions of the dove, 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 47 

Plenty and peace ; and never more on thee 
Shall bondage wait ; hut as the thoughts of love, 
Free shalt thou fly, unchainable and free ; 
And men, thenceforth, shall call thee ' liberty ! ' 

The Corn Law PJrymes, notwithstanding 
their occasional coarseness, are real poetry — 
effusions from the heart. They are dedicated 
" to all who revere the memory of Jeremy 
Bentham, our second Locke, and wish to 
promote the greatest happiness of the great- 
est number, for the greatest length of time." 
Poor Elliott ! How fast a hold the spirit of 
Political Economy has upon his mind ! and 
how strangely it distorts and darkens his 
vision. One could have wished that he 
had seen a little deeper than good Jeremy 
Bentham's philosophy; or at least, that he 
might have outlived it ; flinging it from him 
as the lumber of a dead world, through 
which he had victoriously fought his way. 
But neither in these Rhvmes, nor in his 
latest writings, is there any evidence of 
his Spiritual progression. He is painfully 
bound in chains, like Prometheus to his 
rock, and in the highest sense, can neither 
sink nor soar. He always harps on the 
same string — with a Paganini's hand, it is 
true — but one wearies even of the most 



48 LIFE, CHAEACTEE, AND GENIUS 

beautiful variations, when the melody is 
always the same. 

His writings divide themselves naturally 
into three distinct parts ; each of which 
represents a phase of the mind and genius 
of the Poet. They consist, firstly, of the 
Political Poems ; secondly, of the ^Esthetic, 
or those which relate to the affections, and 
the cultivation of the Taste; and, thirdly, 
those of a Moral and Descriptive nature, 
wherein the poet, by a direct teaching and 
exhortation, seeks to raise the minds of 
the people into the regions of truth and 
duty. It must not be supposed, however, 
that these divisions follow in consecutive 
order, or that the Poet designed his writings 
to fall into this classification. He simply 
obeyed his genius, and wrote as he was 
inspired, without reference to psychological 
manifestation. Whoso, however, will take 
the trouble to examine his works, will 
find that they resolve themselves into the 
divisions above alluded to. In some of 
his greater poems there will of course be 
found a fusion of the faculties, which are 
singly predominant in others ; for in all 
serious undertakings of this nature, what- 
ever is in a poet will come out of him; 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 19 

and he is sure to develope the entire wealth 
and capabilities of his genius. But in his 
lyrical moments he will obey the mood 
which possesses him, whether it be Political, 
^Esthetic, or Moral. 

I will now quote examples of his art 
under the three divisions I have named, 
commencing with the Political ones. 

BATTLE SONG. 

" Day, like our souls, is fiercely dark— 
What then ? 'Tis day ! 
We sleep uo more : the crows — hark ! 
To arms ! away ! 

They come ! they come ! the kuell is ruug 

Of us, or them ; 
AVide o'er their march the pomp is iluug 

Of gold, aud gem. 

What collared hound of lawless sw aj 

To famine dear — 
What pensioned slave of Attda, 

Leads in the rear ? 

Come they from Scythian wdds afar, 

Our blood to spill ? 
Wear they the livery of the Czar ? 

They do his will. 

Nor tassel'd sdk, uor epaulette, 
Nor plume, nor corse ; 

E 



50 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

No splendour gilds, all sternly met, 
Our foot and horse. 

But dark and still, we inly glow, 

Condensed in ire ! 
Strike, tawdry slaves ! and ye stall 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." 

This is perhaps the finest of his Political 
Poems, and reminds one, in its spirit, of 
the wonderful " Sword Song, " by Korner. 
The opening verse is full of martial music; 
and we can hear the gathering of mighty 
hosts, and the trampling of armed feet, 
throughout the poem. Terrible and defiant 
stand the two hostile armies; and the 
pageantry of the " tawdry slaves : of 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 51 

power, is finely contrasted with the dark 
unbannered " foot and horse " of the op- 
pressed, all sternly met for battle. It is 
an ideal celebration of the fight between 
Right and Wrong, which Elliott, in all 
probability, imagined would one day be 
realized in the terrible manner he has 
described. But this song will give no idea 
of the Poet, in his coarse and eccentric 
moods; and as I design to exhibit every 
phase of his character, it will be necessary 
to quote the following : — 

SQTJIEE LEECH. 

" Come, Lord Pauper ! pay my bill 

For radish tops and fire ; 
Ploughman Joe, and "Weaver Will, 

Keep Eobert Leech, Esquire. 
You say, shares are fairly shared 

Between the high and low ; 
While we starve, this joke runs hard 

On bread-taxed Will and Joe. 

Leech drinks wine ; sometimes enough ; 

But then he drinks in style : 
Club-feast ale is sinful stuff; 

And pewter plate is vile. 
Bobert rides, and Eobert drives, — 

His feeders bare-foot go ; 
Will is clamming ; bread-tax thrives ; 

And tread-mill's clamming Joe. 



52 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

' Give,' of old, the Horse Leech cried : 

Squire Robert cries, ' Give ! Give 1 * 
How the leeches are belied I 

They suck, yet cannot live. 
Little soids grow less and less, 

And ever downward grow : 
' Live and let live,' they profess, 

And feed on Will and Joe I 

Bread tax murders trade and hope: 

Lord Pauper cries c Well done I * 
Bread tax is not yet a rope 

To every rascal's son. 
Justice is not done, 'tis said, 

To Bobert Leech & Co. ; 
Gibbet is not tax on bread, — 

But Bread tax gibbets Joe.'" 

Here is another poem belonging to the 
same class as the last, although it is more 
serious, and indeed fearfully earnest : — 



CAGED BATS. 

" Ye coop us up, and tax our bread, 

And wonder why we pine ; 
But ye are fat, and round, and red, 

And filled 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. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 53 

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 called ' my Lord,' and ' Squire,' 

While fed by mine and me, 
And wringing food, and clothes, and fire, 

From bread taxed misery ? 

Make haste, slow rogues ! prohibit trade, 

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." 

I will not dwell longer, however, upon 
these political effusions, but proceed to give 
specimens of his aesthetic poems. These 
cannot be introduced more appropriately than 
by the following picture of — 

THE HOME OF TASTE. 

" You seek a home of taste, and find 
The proud mechanic there, 
Rich as a king, and less a slave, 

Throned in his elbow-chair ! 
Or on his sofa reading Locke, 
Beside his open door .' 

F 2 



54 LIFE, CHAEACTER, AND GENIUS 

"Why start ? — "Why envy worth like his 
The carpet on his floor ? 

Tou seek the home of sluttery — 

' Is John at home ? ' yon say, 
'No, sir ; he's at the " Sportman's Arms ;" 

The dog fight's o'er the way.' 
Oh, lift the workman's heart and mind 

Above low sensual sin ! 
Give him a home ! the home of taste ! 

Outbid the house of gin ! 

Oh, give him taste ! it is the link 

"Which binds us to the skies — 
A bridge of rainbows thrown across 

The gulph of tears and sighs ; 
Or like a Avidower's little one — 

An angel in a child — 
That leads him to her mother's chair, 

And shows him how she smiled." 



It was one of Elliott's darling schemes, 
to raise the homes of the working classes; 
and he knew that this could only be done 
by cultivating their taste, feelings, and in- 
tellectual faculties. Hence, he exhorted 
them to ceaseless thrift and industry, and 
to the study of good and ennobling books 
in their leisure hours. To stimulate them 
to this course, he described in many of his 
poems the beauty and dignity of home, 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 55 

when presided over by wise and virtuous 
people. He showed, likewise, that the 
limited means of the industrious classes 
were no bar to elegance and happiness; 
and there is a direct teaching of this sort 
in the following household pictures : — 

SATURDAY. 

" To-moeeow will be Sunday, Ann, — 
Get up nay child with me ; 
Thy father rose at four o'clock 
To toil for ine and thee. 

The fine folks use the plate he makes, 
And praise it when they dine ; 

For John has taste — so we'll be neat, 
Although we can't be fine. 

Then let us shake the carpet well, 

And wash and scour the floor, 
And hang the weather-glass he made 

Beside the cupboard-door 

And polish thou the grate, my love ; 

I'll mend the sofa arm ; 
The autumn winds blow damp and chill ; 

And John lores to be warm. 

And bring the new white curtain out, 
And string the pink tape on — 

Mechanics should be neat and clean : 
And I'll take heed for John. 



56 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

And brush the little table, child, 
And fetch the ancient books — 

John loves to read ; and when he reads, 
How like a king he looks ! 

And fill the music-glasses up 

"With water fresh and clear ; 
To-morrow, when he sings and plays, 

The street will stop to hear. 

And throw the dead flowers from the vase, 

And rub it till it glows ; 
For in the leafless garden yet 

He'll find a winter rose. 

And lichen from the wood he'll bring, 

And mosses from the dell : 
And from the sheltered stubble-field 

The scarlet pimpernel." 

Here is a holiday for the working man 
most beautifully described : — 

HOLIDAY. 

" Oh blessed ! when some holiday 
Brings townsmen to the moor, 
And in the sunbeams brighten up 
The sad looks of the poor. 

The bee puts on her richest gold, 

As if that worker knew — 
How hardly (and for little) they 

Their sunless task pursue. 



OP EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 57 

P>ut from their souls the sense of wrong 

On dove-like pinion flies ; 
And, throned o'er all, forgiveness sees 

His image in their eyes. 

Soon tired, the street-born lad lies down 

On marjoram and thyme, 
And through his grated fingers sees 

The falcon's flight sublime ; 

Then his pale eyes, so bluely dull 

Grow darkly blue with light, 
And his lips redden like the bloom 

O'er miles of mountain bright. 

The little lovely maiden-hair 

Turns up its happy face, 
And saith unto the poor man's heart, 

' Thou'rt welcome to this place.' 

The infant river leapeth free 

Amid the bracken tall, 
And cries, - for ever there is one 

Who reigneth over all ; 

1 And unto him, as unto me, 

Thou'rt welcome to partake 
His gift of light, His gift of air, 

O'er mountain, glen, and lake. 

' Our father loves us, want-worn man ! 

And know thou this from me, 
The pride that makes thy pain his couch, 

May wake to envy thee. 



58 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

' Hard, hard to bear are want and toil, 

As thy worn features tell ; 
But Wealth is armed with fortitude, 

And bears thy sufferings well.' ' 

The following is an example of the poet's 
moral teaching ; and perhaps nothing can 
better express his constant delight in con- 
templating the works of Nature, and his deep 
reverence for Nature's God, than the quota- 
tion of this solemn and hopeful 

BUNEBAL HYMN. 

" Eathee ! our brother's course is run, 
And we bring home Thy weary son ; 
No more he toils, no more he weeps ; 
And shall we mourn because he sleeps ? 

He thank' d Thee, God of earth and sky, 
Bor all that creep, and all that fly ; 
Bor weeds, that silent anthems raise, 
And thoughts, that make their silence praise. 

Bor every thorn and every flower ! 
Bor conquering Bight and baffled Bower ; 
Bor all the meek and all the proud, 
He thank' d the Lord of sun and cloud. 

Bor soul to feel and sight to see, 
In all Thy works, but types of Thee ; 
Bor all Thy works, and for Thy "Word, 
In life and death, he thank'd Thee, Lord. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 59 

He thank'd Thee, too, for struggles long, 
For storms that make the feeble strong ; 
For every pang Thy goodness gave ; 
For hope deferr'd — and for the grave. 

Oh, welcome in the morn, the road 
That climbs to Virtue's high abode ! 
But when descends the evening dew, 
The inn of rest is welcome, too. 

Thou say'st to man, ' Arise, and run 
Thy glorious course, like yonder sun ! ' 
But when Thy children need repose, 
Their Father's hand the curtain draws. 

"What though with eyes that yet can weep, 
The sinner trembles into sleep ? 
Thou know'st he yet shall wake and rise 
To gaze on Mercy's brightest skies. 

The fearful child, though still caress'd, 
Will tremble on his mother's breast ; 
But he, she knows, is safe from ill, 
Though, watched by love, he trembles still. 

Lord ! when our brother wakes, may they 
Who watch beneath thy footstool, say, 
' Another wanderer is forgiven ! 
Another child is born in Heaven !' " 

" Forest "Worship " is likewise a beautiful 
poem, notwithstanding the mixture of poli- 
tics and religion which it contains : — 



60 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

FOREST WOKSHIP. 

" Within tlie sunlit forest, 

Our roof the bright blue sky, 
"Where fountains flow, and wild flowers blow, 

"We lift our hearts on high. 
Beneath the frown of wicked men 

Our country's strength is bowing ; 
But, thanks to God ! they can't prevent 

The lone wild flowers from blowing. 

High, high, above the tree-tops, 

The lark is soaring free, 
Where streams the light through broken clouds 

His speckled breast I see : 
Beneath the might of wicked men 

The poor man's worth is dying; 
But, thanked be God ! in spite of them, 

The lark still warbles flying ! 

The preacher prays, ' Lord bless us ! ' 

' Lord bless us ! ' Echo cries ; 
' Amen ! ' the breezes murmur low, 

' Amen ! ' the rill replies ; 
The ceaseless toil of wo-worn hearts, 

The proud with pangs are paying ; 
But here, O God of earth and heaven ! 

The humble heart is praying ! 

How softly in the pauses 

Of song, re-echoed wide, 
The cushet's coo, the linnet's lay, 

O'er rill and river glide ! 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 61 

With evil deeds of evil men 

The affrighted land is ringing, 
But still, O Lord ! the pious heart 

And soul-toned voice are singing ! 



Hush ! hush ! the Preacher preacheth ! 

' Wo ! to the oppressor, wo ! 
But sudden gloom o'ercasts the sun 

And saddened flowers below : 
So frowns the Lord! — hut tyrants, ye 

Deride his indignation, 
And see not in his gathered brow 

Tour days of tribulation ! ' 



Speak low, thou heaven-paid teacher ! 

The tempest bursts above : 
God whispers in the thunder ; hear 

The terrors of his love ! 
On useful hands, and honest hearts, 

The base their wrath are wreaking ; 
But, thank' d be God ! they can't prevent 

The storm of heaven from speaking." 



I will close these extracts with a few more 
specimens from his miscellaneous poems ; 
and the reader will then have a fair concep- 
tion of the range of Elliott's mind. The two 
which follow are very striking and beautiful, 
and are in his highest manner : — 



G2 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

LEAVES AND MEN. 

" Dkop, drop into the grave, Old Leaf, 
Drop, drop into the grave ; 
Thy acorus grown, thy acorns sown, — 
Drop, drop into the grave. 
December's tempests rave, Old Leaf, 
Above thy forest-grave, Old Leaf ; 
Drop, drop into the grave. 

The birds in Spring, will, sweetly siug, 

That death alone is sad ; 

The grass will grow, the primrose show, 

That death alone is sad ; 

Lament above thy grave, Old Leaf ; 

Eor what has life to do with grief ? 

'Tis death alone that's sad. 

What then ? "We two have both lived through 

The sunshine and the rain ; 

And blessed be He, to me and thee, 

Who sent His sun and rain. 

We've had our sun and rain, Old Leaf, 

And God will send again, Old Leaf, 

The sunshine and the rain. 

Race after race of leaves and men, 

Bloom, wither, and are gone : 

As wiuds and waters rise and fall, 

So life and death roll on ; 

And long as ocean heaves, Old Leaf 

And bud and fade the leaves, Old Leaf, 

AVill life and death roll on. 



OF EBENEZEE ELLIOTT. 63 

How like am I to thee, Old Leaf! 

"We'll drop together down ; 

How like art thou to me, Old Leaf ! 

We'll drop together down. 

I'm grey, and thou art brown, Old Leaf! 

We'll drop together down, Old Leaf, 

We'll drop together down. 

Drop, drop into the grave, Old Leaf, 
Drop, drop into the grave ; 
Thy acorns grown, thy acorns sown, — 
Drop, drop into the grave. 
December's tempests rave, Old Leal'. 
Above thy forest-grave, Old Leaf; 
Drop, drop into the grave ! " 



OH, TELL US. 



" Companioned each, by all and none, 
A mob of souls, yet each alone, 
We journey to the dread Unknown. 

ii. 

In nothing found, in all tilings shown, 

In all life living, yet alone, 

Where may it be, that dread Unknown ? 

hi. 

Oh, who, or what, so dreadly shown, 

And world-attended, yet alone, 

Is that all-sought, all-known Unknown ? " 



64 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 



The following lines remind ns of Goethe 



TO EANNY ANN. 

" As the flower bloweth, 
As the stream floweth, 
Daughter of beauty, 
Do thou thy duty. 
"What, though the morrow 
May dawn in sorrow ? 
E'en as light hasteth, 
Darkness, too, wasteth ; 
Morn then discloses, 
Rain-drops on roses ! 
Daughter of beauty, 
"What then is duty ? 
Time says, 'Death knoweth !' 
Death says, ' Time showeth 1' " 

The poem which I shall now quote was 
sent me in MS., and appeared originally in 
" The Truth Seeker " Magazine, edited by 
my friend, Dr. Lees, of Leeds. It is entitled 

LET ME BEST. 

" He does well who does his best ; 
Is he weary ? Let him rest : 
Brothers ! I have done my best ; 
I am weary — let me rest. 
After toiling oft in vain, 
Baffled, yet to struggle fain ; 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 65 

After toiling long to gain 
Little good, and mickle pain ; 
Let me rest — but lay me low, 
Where the hedge-side roses blow ; 
Where the little daisies grow ; 
Where the winds a- Maying go ; 
Where the foot-path rustics plod ; 
Where the breeze-bowed poplars nod ; 
Where the old woods worship God ; 
Where His pencil paints the sod ; 
Where the wedded throstle sings ; 
Where the young bird tries his wings, 
Where the wailing plover swings 
Near the runlet's rushy springs ! 
Where at times the tempest's roar, 
Shaking distant sea and shore, 
Still will rave old Barnsdale o'er, 
To be heard by me no more ; 
There, beneath the breezy west, 
Tired and thankful, let me rest, 
Like a child, that sleepeth best 
On its gentle mother's breast." 



The following poems may be cited, as speci- 
mens of the pathetic power developed in the 
Corn Law Rhvmes : — 



" Where the poor cease to pay, 
Go loved one, and rest, 
Thou art wearing away 
To the land of the blest. 

Or _d 



06 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

Our father is gone 

Where the wronged are forgiven. 
And that dearest one, 

Thy husband, in heaven. 

II. 

No toil in despair ; 

No tyrant, no slave ; 
No Bread-tax is there, 

With a maw like the grave ; 
But the Poacher, thy pride, 

Whelmed in ocean afar : 
And his brother who died 

Land-butchered in war ; 

IIT. 

And their mother who sank 

Broken-hearted, to rest ; 
And the baby that drank 

Till it froze on her breast ; 
With tears and with smiles, 

Are waiting for thee 
In the beautiful isles, 

Where the wronged are the free. 

IV. 

Go loved one, and rest ; 

Where the poor cease to pay ! 
To the land of the blest 

Thou art wearing away ; 
But the son of thy pride 

Shall yet stay with thee, 
And poor little Jane, 

Look sadly like thee." 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 67 



SONG. 

" Child, is thy father dead ? 

Father is gone ! 
Why did they tax his bread ? 

God's will be done ! 
Mother has sold her bed ; 
Better to die than wed ! 
Where shall she lay her head ? 

Home we have none ! 

Father clamm'd thrice a week — 

God's will be done ! 
Long for work did he seek, 

Work he found none. 
Tears on his hollow cheek 
Told what no tongue could speak 
Why did his master break ? 

God's will be done ! 

Doctor said air was best — 

Food we had none ; 
Father, with panting breast. 

Groaned to be gone : 
Now he is with the blest — 
Mother says death is best ! 
We have no place of rest — 

Tes, ye have one ! " 



ast'ograp&p of tbt poet. 



PAKT II. 



BIOGEArHT OF THE I>OET. 



And now, having given a general character- 
ization of the niind and writings of onr 
Poet, let ns take a glimpse at his early 
history, and try if we can discover the 
process hy which his mind and character 
were developed. His Autobiography, which 
appeared in No. 1159 of the Athenaeum, 
and extends to his twenty-third year, will 
enable ns to accomplish this ; and it is one 
of the most interesting pieces of personal 
history upon record. It is written in a 
style as unvarnished as that of Gibbon, and 
contains all the prominent features in his 
early career, both of mind and fortune. It 
is too long to extract in these pages, but 
it will well repay the student for a private 
and careful reading. We will first relate 
the particulars of his birth and parentage, 
and then run rapidly over such parts of 



72 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS, 

his subsequent history, as may throw light 
upon our investigation. 

Elliott was born at the New Foundry, 
Masbrough, in the parish of Rotherham, 
March 17th, 1781; and was well nigh 
smothered before he had been in the world 
a quarter of an hour. His son Francis, 
who relates the story to me in a private 
letter, says : "In the hurry and confusion 
attendant upon his birth, he was laid in an 
open drawer, which was presently shut by 
another person, who did not notice its con- 
tents, and the child was missing for some 
minutes, and could not be found. Fortu- 
nately, however, he was rescued from his 
perilous situation by the same hands that 
placed him in it, and restored to his mother. 
Three quarters of a century later, this child 
repealed the Corn Laws; and it would be 
interesting to know how many hungry deaths, 
how many broken fortunes, how many broken 
hearts, the timely opening of that drawer has 
saved." His father, who, for his eccentrici- 
ties, and ultra- calvinistic notions, was called 
" Devil Elliott," was a dissenter ; and our 
Poet was baptized by one Tommy Wright, a 
Barnsley tinker, who belonged to the same 
school of theology as Elliott's father, and 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 73 

believed that " hell was hung round with 
little children, a span long;" a belief by no 
means uncommon in those days, nor even 
in later times, as I have good reason to 
remember. He describes the ancestors of 
his grandfather Elliott, as border thieves, 
who lived on the cattle they stole, both from 
English and Scotch, and thinks he has made 
out a good pedigree so far. Of his own father 
he speaks in high terms. He was married to 
an opulent yeoman's daughter near Hudders- 
field, and settled in business at Masbrough, 
as an iron -founder, where Ebenezer, and ail 
his other children were born and bred. " I 
can remember seeing," says the poet's son 
Francis, " when very young, the name Elliott 
in twisted iron, over the door of a little, low, 
time-dark building, at the top of the High 
Street, in the town above-named, where my 
father and his brother Giles, if I mistake not, 
spent many years of their youth and early 
manhood in serving customers with iron- 
mongery. My grandfather was a man of 
great natural shrewdness and penetration, 
with a talent for humour and satire, fond 
of controversy, especially on theology, and 
possessed of respectable literary powers. 
" I have seen a ' rhymed Paraphrase of 

H 



74 LIFE, CIIAEACTEE, AND GENIUS 

Job,' written by him; and I must do my 
buried ancestor the justice to say that it did 
not require a Job's patience to read it. If 
not very poetical in its structure, it is at 
least as good as many noted pieces in Pope 
and Dryden. It is sententious, concise, and 
logical. My grandmother was a very differ- 
ent person ; all heart, sensitiveness, and 
meekness. The slightest look, word, or tone 
of unkindness, cut her to the quick; whilst 
a whole world of injuries could not arouse 
within her the shadow of a desire for revenge. 
She had great personal attractions, a soft and 
gentle style of beauty, which was sister to her 
heart. She was a very violet in sweetness 
and unobtrusiveness, and she had a violet's 
fate, too. She lived unnoticed, and misfor- 
tune trod her out of life. My grandfather's 
bankruptcy broke her heart." 

Mr. P. Hodgers, of Sheffield, has furnished 
me with the following anecdote of the poet's 
father. " In those days, when the French 
were generally considered Atheists, and the 
divine right of kings was an article of almost 
universal belief — it is no wonder that the 
poet's father, who was a Jacobin and ultra- 
calvinist, should be regarded with dread by 
some, and suspicion by others. He was not 



OF EBENEZEE ELLIOTT. /5 

a man, however, to be trodden upon with im- 
punity. His son alludes, in the poem called 
'The Jacobin's Prayer,' to an incident in his 
father's life which I well remember, and 
which furnishes a good illustration of his 
character. The Rotherhani troop of Yeo- 
manry had had a field-day. It was getting 
towards evening ; and previous to the dis- 
missal of the men, they were drawn up in a 
line, in High Street, with their faces to the 
Crown Inn, while some one was addressing 
a loyal speech to them from one of the win- 
dows. Mr. Elliott's shop being in the nar- 
rowest part of the street, and, from some 
cause or other, one or more of the military 
steeds, which stood with their hinder parts 
towards his door and windows, beginning to 
prance, they were not long before their tails 
and haunches came through the glass. The 
old man immediately conceived the idea, that 
the seeming accident was done on purpose, 
and because he was a Jacobin. Under this 
impression he flew into a terrible rage, seized, 
I believe, upon some offensive weapon, which 
the stock in his own shop supplied, and 
rushed to the assault. A disturbance en- 
dued, but no blood was shed; and thus the 
affair did not end so seriously as it might 



76 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

have done, considering what it was to quarrel 
with the authorities in those days. Probably, 
Mr. Elliott's real respectability in the eyes of 
his neighbours, together with his commercial 
influence in the town, protected him from 
similar consequences to those which befel the 
more unfortunate James Montgomery, at a 
little earlier date, in Sheffield. " 

Such, then, was the parentage of the poet 
— and his physical and mental characteristics 
may be traced, in a great measure, to this 
source. lie had his father's strength of 
mind and character, and his mother's sensi- 
tiveness and nervous weakness. He gives us 
a picture of his father's home, whilst he was 
a clerk at the foundry, and before he became 
the proprietor of it, which is interesting in 
many important respects. "Under the room 
where I was born," he says, " in a little par- 
lour like the cabin of a ship, which was yearly 
painted green, and blessed with a beautiful 
thoroughfare of light — for there was no 
window-tax in those days — my father used 
to preach every fourth Sunday, to persons 
who came from distances of twelve to four- 
teen miles, to hear his tremendous doctrines 
of ultra-calvinism. On other days, pointing 
to the aqua-tint pictures on the walls, he de- 



OP EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 77 

lighted to declaim on the virtues of slandered 
Cromwell, and of Washington the rebel ; or, 
shaking his sides "with laughter, explain the 
glories of the ' glorious victory of his Ma- 
jesty's forces over the rebels at Bunker's 
Hill.' " " Here," he adds, " the reader has a 
key which will unlock all my future politics." 
And the fact is worth remembering. He re- 
lates, as proof of his nervous sensibility, that 
at twelve years of age he fell in love with a 
young woman, to whom he never spoke a 
word in his life, and whose voice he never 
heard. "Yet if I thought she saw me," he 
adds, "as I passed her father's house, I felt 
as if weights were tied to my feet." This is 
the old story, in a new form, illustrative of 
the power of love over the youthful heart ; 
and Elliott is not the last person who will 
feel these weights to his feet, in the presence 
of the beloved object. The fact, however, 
made a deep impression upon him throughout 
life; for it was the first sunbeam that fell 
upon the dark fallows of his nature, and 
quickened them into flowers and verdure. 
Prom this moment he was a new being, and 
his poetical tendencies began to develop them- 
selves. In the yard of the foundry, sur- 
rounded by blast furnaces, and half-naked 

n 2 



78 LIFE, CIIAKACTEK, AND GENIUS 

smiths, hammering at innumerable anvils, 
he contrived a little garden of mugwort and 
wormwood, and placed a pan of water in the 
midst of it, where he could see the reflection 
of the sun and clouds, and of the plants 
themselves, as from the surface of a natural 
fountain. And this anecdote, trifling as it 
may seem, contains the microcosm of the 
poet's genius ; for Nature has no new me- 
thods, hut repeats, and re-repeats herself in 
every one of her processes; and the macro- 
cosm is hut the microcosm, on a large and 
complete scale. Combined, however, with 
this love for the beautiful, Elliott had also a 
strange taste for the horrible — a passion — a 
rage, for seeing the faces of the hanged or 
the drowned. These frightful visages made 
his life a burden, followed him wherever he 
went, and haunted him in his dreams. He 
cannot account for this morbid love of the 
dark and obscene imagery of death ; and asks 
whether it was a result of constitutional in- 
firmity ? and whether it had any connexion 
with his taste for writing of horrors and 
crimes? I think there can be no doubt of 
the answer to either of these questions, and 
I can trace the effects of this morbid taste in 
his poems. During childhood he had no 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 79 

associates ; and although the neighbourhood 
swarmed with children, he was alone. Hence 
his mind fell back upon itself, and by dwell- 
ing too much upon its own reflections, and 
constantly brooding over the mixed imagery 
of beauty and horror which possessed it, he 
grew unhealthy and diseased. Still his soli- 
tude was not painful; and he occasionally 
occupied himself in constructing boats and 
ships. He remarks, however, that his imita- 
tive talents secured him no respect ; and he 
was altogether unaware that he possessed 
others of a higher and nobler order, which 
were one day to awake the admiration and 
secure the applause of the world. Nature, 
however, knew what she was about in im- 
pelling him to these ingenious devices of boats 
and ships ; for now he must go down to the 
water's side and launch them; and there, in 
the midst of sunshine, flowers, and darnels, 
she taught him many preparatory poetic 
lessons. 

He speaks with unconscious complaint of 
his "wondrous brother Giles," — who was 
beautiful as an angel, — and compared with 
whom he (the poet) was ugliness itself. " In 
the presence of his splendid abilities," he 
says, " I might well look like a fool, and 



80 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

believe myself one. As I grew up, my fond- 
ness for solitude increased; for I could not 
but observe the homage that was paid to 
him, and feel the contempt with which I was 
regarded; although I am not aware that I 
ever envied or at all disliked him." 

His ninth year was an era in his life, he 
says, for his father having cast a great pan, 
weighing several tons, for an uncle who lived 
in Thurlstone, the young embryo poet re- 
solved to travel thither with it ; and accord- 
ingly, at sunset, he stole unperceived, and hid 
himself inside the pan amongst the hay. As 
the night advanced, he looked forth from 
his hiding-place, and gazed long with new, 
strange, and excited feelings, upon the great 
blue vault of heaven, with its solemn and 
lonely stars. " I have not forgotten," he 
writes, " how much I was excited by the 
solemnity of the night, and its shooting stars, 
until I arrived at Thurlstone, about four 
o'clock in the morning." His uncle, who 
was of course surprised to see him, made the 
best of his visit, and sent him to school at 
Penistone, where he learnt nothing. His 
heart, too, was with his mother ; and he spent 
his evenings in looking from the back of his 
uncle's house to Hoy land Swaine; for he had 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 81 

discovered that Masbrough lay beyond that 
village ; " and ever when the sun went down, 
I felt," he says, " as if some great wrong 
had been done me." 

When he returned from this " land of the 
great Pan," as he calls it, he was sent to 
Hollis's School, in Sheffield, but made no 
proficiency in his studies. All his sums were 
done for him by the other boys, and his father 
regarded him as a confirmed dunce. He 
confesses that he could never learn anything 
at school — that he got into the Rule of Three 
without having any knowledge of numera- 
tion, and stuck in Decimals, like Christian in 
his bog of Despond. Still he was looked up 
to, by the other boys at school, and his 
brother Giles, when in danger, always took 
Elliott out to defend him. His father, as a last 
resource, finding that he had made nothing 
out at Hollis's Hospital, sent him to Dalton 
School, two miles from Masbrough, where 
he hoped to have him more under his own 
eye. "I see," says Elliott, "at this moment, 
as vividly as if fifty years had not since passed 
over me, the kingfisher shooting along the 
Don, as I passed schoolward through the 
Aldwark Meadows, eating my dinner four 
hours before dinner-time." And so Nature 



82 LIFE, CHAKACTEK, AND GENIUS 

was revenged upon the schoolmaster ; for she 
taught the boy her great mystic alphabet 
and deep symbol writing, before he could 
either read a book, or write a line. She took 
her own way likewise in doing it, eschewing 
the methods of the pedant. Elliott made no 
proficiency at this new school — although his 
master was a kind and good man — " a sort 
of sad-looking, half- starved angel without 
wings," he says, "and I have stood for hours 
beside his desk, with the tears running down 
my face, utterly unable to set down one cor- 
rect figure." His ignorance, and apparent 
want of common capacity, disgusted him with 
school duties, and during the summer months 
he was almost always absent — playing truant 
amongst the woods of Dalton, Deign, Silver- 
wood, and Thryberg Park. On one of these 
occasions he stole duck eggs, mistaking them 
for the eggs of wild birds, and was brought 
before the Lady of the Manor for his delin- 
quency, who dismissed him when she saw 
what a live goose he was. 

These truantings were soon discovered by 
tbe poet's father, who resolved at last to 
make him work in the foundry. " The result 
of this experiment," says Elliott, " vexed the 
experimenter ; for it was soon found that I 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 83 

could play my part at the York Keelman, 
with the best of its customers." He was 
never fond of the alehouse, however, and his 
thoughts were always wandering to the canal 
banks, which were covered all over with the 
golden " ladies' -bedstraw" and to his little 
ships. In other respects the trial at the 
foundry proved successful, for Elliott found 
he was not less clever than other beginners, 
and the work he had to do, was done. He 
mentions that about this time, he had strong 
religious impressions, and attended the min- 
istrations of an eccentric Domine Sampson, 
with regularity and profit. But Nature at 
this juncture played him another trick, and 
dissipated his religious moods with her fine 
nicknackery of flowers. Happening to call 
one Sunday at his Aunt Robinson's — a widow 
with three children and £30 a-year, out of 
which she gave her two sons an education, 
which made them both gentlemen — he became 
acquainted with "Sowerby's English Botany." 
" Never shall I forget," he says, " the im- 
pression made upon me by the beautiful 
plates. I actually touched the figure of the 
primrose, half convinced that the mealiness 
on the leaves was real." The good aunt 
seeing the delight he took in these pictures, 



84 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

showed him how to draw the figures, by 
holding them to the light with a thin piece 
of paper before them. Finding he could 
draw them correctly, he ivas lifted at once, 
he says, above the inmates of the alehouse, at 
least a foot in mental stature. And here we 
may see the reason why, in his aesthetic 
poems, he exhorts the working classes to 
cultivate a " Home of Taste." His aunt 
then showed him a book of Dry Plants, which, 
with the Botanical work, belonged to her son 
Benjamin. And these cheap and simple 
exhibitions gave an impulse to Elliott's mind 
which never abandoned him, until it had 
completed its work, and conducted him to 
the Elysian fields of poetry. He soon after 
began to study Botany on his own account 
— not, however, in a consecutive and scien- 
tific manner — for to the day of his death he 
never relished Botany as a science ; the clas- 
sifications of which seemed to him to be like 
preparations for sending flowers to prison. 
The minister, who had begun to entertain 
hopes of Elliott's conversion, made frequent 
inquiries at the paternal home why Ebenezer 
did not come to chapel as usual ; and the 
poet says that he passed his Sundays in 
gathering flowers, that he might make pic- 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 85 

tures of them; totally unconscious that he 
was learning the art of poetry in his wood- 
land wanderings. Nay, he then hated poetry, 
especially that of Pope, which " always gave 
him the headache." His floral and herbal 
gatherings soon made him a noted person in 
his neighbourhood, and people stopped him 
with his plants to inquire what diseases he 
was going to cure. Even his wondrous bro- 
ther Giles, condescended to admire his Sortus 
Siccus ; and he had been so long a stranger 
to the voice of praise, that it sounded sweetly 
in his ears, and he welcomed it when it came 
with joy and triumph. About this time, 
his brother read to him the first book of 
Thompson's " Seasons," and when he came 
to the description of the polyanthus and the 
auricula — " I waited," says Elliott, " impa- 
tiently until he had laid down the book ; I 
then took it into the garden, where I com- 
pared the description with the living flowers. 
Here was a new idea ! Botany in verse ! — 
a prophecy," he continues, " that the days 
of scribbling were at hand." The account 
which he gives of his first essay in verse is 
interesting enough. It was an imitation in 
rhyme of Thompson's blank verse thunder- 
storm. " I knew perfectly well," he writes, 

i 



86 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

" that sheep could not take flight after being 
killed, but the rhyme seemed to be of opinion 
that they should be so described; and as it 
doggedly abided by this perversity, there was 
nothing for it but to describe my flock scud- 
ding away after the lightning had slain 
them." His cousin Benjamin criticised the 
poem mercilessly, and Elliott never forgave 
him. This cousin, it seems, was a scholar, 
and the poet was never so happy as while 
listening to his recitations of Homer's Greek 
— of which, although he did not understand 
a word — yet after the lapse of nearly half a 
century, its music had not departed from his 
soul. He regarded his brother Giles as a 
prodigy, and became at last painfully alive 
to his own deficiencies. Giles's accomplish- 
ments stung him into self-instruction; and 
the misery of his mind at this crisis may be 
gathered from the fact that he lost his round 
healthy proportions, and fell into the disease 
of all students, namely, that of leanness and 
pale-faced anxiety. He bought a grammar, 
and studied it laboriously — but could never 
retain a single rule in his memory. Then 
he took to the key, and read it through and 
through, a hundred times. " I found at 
last," he says, " that by reflection, and by 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 87 

supplying elisions, &c, I could detect and 
correct grammatical errors. At this moment 
I do not know a single rule in grammar, 
although I natter myself I can write English 
as well as Samuel Johnson could, and detect 
errors in a greater author — Samuel Bailey." * 
His attempt at learning the French language 
was equally unsuccessful; and his teacher, 
who seems to have been an incompetent 
person, got in this instance all the blame. 

An accident assisted him much at this 
period, by placing a number of books at his 
disposal; and as Elliott confesses that his 
writings owe something to the list which he 
furnishes in the text of his Autobiography, 
section 5th, I shall be pardoned for naming 
them. Thev are " Barrow's Sermons," 
" Bay's Wisdom of God," " Derham's Phy- 
sico Theology," " Young's Night Thoughts," 
"Hervey's Meditations," " Herepin's Travels," 
and three volumes of the "Boyal Magazine," 
embellished with engravings. " I was never 
weary," he says, " of Barrow, and Young 
taught me to condense." Shenstone was 
afterwards a favourite with him, and he 
thinks that he is now undervalued. The 

* S. Bailey, Esq., of Sheffield : Author of " Essays 
on the Formation and Publication of Opinions," 



88 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

following passage contains a good word to 
all students. " I never could read a feeble 
book through ; and it follows that I read 
masterpieces only — the best thoughts of the 
highest minds; after Milton, Shakspere, then 
Ossian, then Junius, with my father's Jacob- 
inism, for a commentary. Paine's Common 
Sense, Swift's Tale of a Tub, Joan of Arc, 
Schiller's Hobbers, Burger's Leonora, Gib- 
bon's Decline and Fall, and long afterwards 
Tasso, Dante, De Stael, Schlegel, Hazlitt, 
and the Westminster Review." A strange 
medley, but valuable as revealing something 
of the sources of Elliott's peculiarities of 
writing and thinking. 

He complains that his memory sometimes 
fails him altogether ; and yet he almost knew 
the Bible by heart at twelve years of age, 
and could repeat, at sixteen, loithout missing 
a word, the first, second, and sixth books of 
Paradise Lost. 

He is conscious, to a considerable extent, 
of his own powers, although he does not do 
full justice to his good angel, and speaks dis- 
paragingly of his acknowledged merits and 
genius. " Time," he says, " has developed 
in me, not genius, but powers which exist in 
all men, and lie dormant in most. I cannot, 



OP EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 89 

like Byron and Montgomery, pour poetry 
from my heart as from an unfailing fountain ; 
and of my inability to identify myself, like 
Shakspere and Scott, with the character of 
other men, my abortive ' Kerhoneh' and 
' Taurepdes,' and similar rejected failures, are 
melancholy instances. My thoughts are all 
exterior ; my mind is the mind of my eyes. 
A primrose is to me a primrose, and nothing 
more. I love it because it is nothing more. 
There is not in my writings one good idea 
that has not been suggested to me by some 
real occurrence, or by some object actually 
before my eyes, or by some remembered 
object or occurrence, or by the thoughts of 
other men heard or read." At the close of 
his Autobiography he says : — " Newspaper- 
taught as I am, and having no ideas of my 
own, I can only seize those of others as they 
occur, earnestly applying them to current 
occasions. If I have been mistaken in my 
objects, I am sorry for it ; but I have never 
advocated any cause without first trying to 
know the principle on which it was based. 
On looking back on my public conduct, 
thanks to the science which poor Cobbett, 
ever floundering, but great and brave, called 
in scorn, ' Poleetical Economy,' I find I have 



i 2 



90 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

had little to unlearn. And when I shall go 
to my account, and the Great Questioner, 
whose judgments err not, shall say to me, 
' What didst thou with the lent talent ? ' I 
can truly answer, ' Lord, it is here, and with 
it all that I could add to it, doing my best to 
make little, mticli? " 

Such, in a condensed form, is the account 
which Elliott gives of his early years. I am 
warned, however, by his son Francis not to 
place implicit reliance upon the statements 
it contains. " I doubt not," he says, "that 
it is as correct as my father could make it ; 
but he was the unfittest man in the world to 
write or speak of himself. His estimate of 
his merits was far below the true one ; and 
he was neither the dunce and simpleton at 
school, nor the lesser light, paled by the 
brilliant brother Giles, which he described 
and believed himself. Giles was a first-rate 
business man, but he was nothing more ; and 
my father was that, and something more. 
I am not surprised, however, that his more 
solid and sterling qualities were but a poor 
foil to the mortal thrusts, which, in the eyes 
of his father's household, Giles's brilliance 
dealt him. All of them homaged and flat- 
tered Giles, and my father hid his despised 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 91 

head in the brightness of his brother's glory. 
I have always thought that the disparage- 
ment which he received from all about him, 
had much influence in producing that melan- 
choly and love of gloom which through the 
rest of his life so strongly characterized his 
mind. At school he fared no better than at 
home ; and unless he was consoled by his 
almost constant truantings in the woods and 
fields, his youth must have been one of 
unrelieved repining and despondency. I am 
inclined to think, however, that the ambitious 
lad was happier in so making himself a poet, 
than he would have been in outshining his 
schoolfellows in studies distasteful to him." 

This statement is further confirmed by 
Mr. John Fowler, and Mr. Paul Rodgers, of 
Sheffield, who were both friends of the poet. 
The latter says : * " Mr. Elliott, in the ac- 
count of himself recently published in the 
Athenaeum, talks about his own remarkable 
dulness when a boy. I do not think he is 
right ; in fact, he was no judge at all in the 
matter. It was rather that his brother's 
taste and his differed, than that Ebenezer 
was essentially inferior in any way. I have 

* MSS. memoranda of the poet, which will be found 
in the Appendix. 



92 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS . 

no doubt lie showed as much genius among 
the modellers and mechanists in the manu- 
factory, as the other did in the shop or the 
counting-house. Mr. Mark Gregory, then a 
youth about his own age, and long a workman 
of Elliott's father's — a man whom Ebenezer 
always highly esteemed — says he never knew 
that his young master was dull at anything, 
but always regarded him as very much the 
contrary." 

Mr. Hodgers likewise gives the following 
description of the " wondrous brother Giles," 
who later on in life fell, I regret to add, into 
intemperate habits, and blighted his own 
prospects and the hopes which his family 
had entertained of him : — " He was rather a 
handsome-faced youth, but lame, went with 
a limp, and wore a high-heeled shoe. He 
had very quick parts, and was Ebenezer's 
acknowledged favourite." 

Erom his sixteenth to his twenty-third 
year Elliott worked for his father — as labo- 
riously as any servant he had — and without 
wages, except a shilling or two for pocket 
money. 

His first trial at business, which proved so 
melancholy in its results, is thus spoken of 
by his son, from whose letter I have previ- 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 93 

ously quoted: — " The fortune he received 
with my mother was invested in a business 
already bankrupt beyond redemption, and 
my father went in as a partner with the old 
firm, consisting of many partners, amongst 
whom was my grandfather. Here he passed 
several years in hopeless efforts, and hopeless 
hopes and yearnings, to retrieve the des- 
perate affair. He lost the last penny he had 
in it ; and found an asvlum under the roof of 
my mother's maiden sisters, with whom he 
spent many months, in a state of wretched- 
ness, which was relieved, however, by the 
tenderest solicitude for his happiness, on the 
part of his friends. He endeavoured to beat 
down despair by writing poems, and painting 
landscapes in oil, from views in the neigh- 
bourhood. But his state of mind will be 
readily conceived when it is remembered 
that he was an honest man, a proud man, 
and possessed of all the sensitiveness which 
characterizes the poet." 

In 1821, when he was forty years of age, 
he was enabled, chiefly by the affectionate 
generosity of his wife's sisters, to make 
another venture in business. He began 
with a capital of £150, and managed at 
last to accumulate a fortune ; making £20 



94 LIFE, CHARACTEE, AND GENIUS 

a day sometimes, without stirring from his 
counting-house, or ever seeing the goods he 
disposed of, which exchanged hands as they 
were landed at the wharf.* His warehouse is 
described as a small, dingy place, piled all 
round with bars of iron, having a bust of 
Shakspere in the centre of it ; and his 
counting-house contained casts of Achilles, 
Ajax, and Napoleon. The following anecdote, 
(the circumstances of which occurred in this 
warehouse,) illustrative of his attachment to 
his poorer guests, and of his impatience at 
insolent behaviour, has been forwarded to 
me from Sheffield, f " All readers of Elliott," 
the writer commences, " will be prepared to 
learn that a man of such strong passions 
did not always conduct himself with perfect 
smoothness, under circumstances of real 
provocation. No one ever saw him guilty 
of anything like a deliberate, or even 
thoughtless insult ; but in reply to insolence 
he was always indignant. A friend of mine, 
in humble life, happening to call at his 
warehouse in Gibraltar Street, found himself 
in company there, with a third party, — a 

* These, however, were very rare occasions. See 
Mr. Thomas Lister's paper upon Elliott, in the Appendix, 
t By Mr. Paul Kodgers. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 95 

semi-clerical gentleman. Whether this gen- 
tleman had a previous pique against my 
friend, or whether something arose during 
the conversation which caused a misunder- 
standing between them, I cannot tell; but 
from some cause or other, the said gentle- 
man deliberately insulted him. Whereupon, 
losing all control over himself, Elliott started 
up, and shouting ' Away with you ! Do my 
friends come here to be insulted by you ? ' 
seized a broom-stick which was within reach, 
and dealt his blows on the offender without 
mercy, not ceasing until he had pursued 
him into the middle of the street." This is 
certainly the most striking anecdote which 
I have been able to gather from the poet's 
history ; and like that of the old woman who 
flung the stool at the head of the bishop — in 
the Scotch kirk — in Charles the First's time, 
it sticks very fast to the memory. 

Up to the time of Elliott's second trial of 
business, in 1821, " he had written," says 
his son, " nothing of importance ; nothing 
which gave prophecy of Ebenezer Elliott. 
But shortly after this event, works of greater 
pretension to poetic power appeared; and 
the world had an opportunity — and used 
it — of disregarding some of the finest poetry 



96 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

he ever penned, and which it now lauds as 
such, under other titles, in the poems of 
1 Love ' and ' Night.' Of the ' Giaour,' and 
' Scotch Nationality,' * poems of ahout the 
same period, I am not able to speak so 
highly. The one contained first-rate satire, 
which is never even the worst poetry; and 
the other an attempt at humour, which was 
of course a failure — for humour was a faculty 
which he did not possess." 

Many of his poems were written at the 
request of his friends; and the following 
deeply interesting letter explains the origin 
of "The Sinless Cain" — which celebrates 
the life tragedy of genius : — 

" Upperthorpe, 15th Oct. 1835. 

" Young Ladt, — Your father requested me to write 
you a poem, and I did so, and called it ' The Sinless 
Cam.' But you are come into a world filled with 
dangers, and instead of sending you the poem, I think 
it better, on the whole, to refer you to it, when it shall 
appear in some one or other of the Magazines. You 
will remember that you are the occasion of its having 
been written. It describes a wretched being who has 
wandered over the earth, playing various parts, almost 
all of them sad ones, during more than six thousand 

* Vide Appendix. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 97 

years. If in after days you chance to meet with him, do 
not believe that the rags which may clothe him, are the 
garment of God's indignation. Should he ask you for a 
pittance, borrow a penny for him, if you have not one. 
Should he silently implore your pity only, turn not away ; 
for he has a heart that will thank you for a tear, with its 
last throb. But should he solicit your love, tell him that 
you once heard of a maiden, who dreaming that she saw 
and heard a celestial spirit (that had eyes bright as pas- 
sion, and a voice like that of the woods in spring), loved 
it with excessive love, but embracing it, found it a corpse! 
— -sweet, indeed, and sadly beautiful, with tears in its 
eyelids, like a white rose gathered in the dew — but still 
a corpse ! "Which, had it never known the touch of 
mortal passion, might have continued to walk even on 
the earth, a spirit of life and joy. There is a meaning in 
all this, which, if you cannot understand, come and learn 
it from 

" Ebenezer Elliott. 
" To Miss Eodgers." 

I have already related how the poet 
became acquainted with Southey, and was 
cheered on by him ; and how, likewise, 
he was suddenly raised into fame by the 
publication of the Corn Law Hhymcs. It 
will be interesting to get a personal glimpse 
of liim at this period of his life ; and I 
will, therefore, quote from Mr. Stanton, an 
American writer, who visited him about 
this time, and presents us with the follow- 
ing picture both of the poet and his home : — 

K 



98 LIFE, CHAEACTER, AND GENIUS 

" I inquired," says he, "of a young man 
dressed in a frock besmeared with iron and 
coal, for the head of the establishment. 
' My father,' said he, ' is just gone : you'll 
find him at his house yonder.' I repaired 
thither. The Corn Law Rhymer stood on 
the threshold, in his stocking feet, holding 
a pair of coarse shoes in his hand. His 
frank ' walk in ' assured me I was welcome. 
I had just left the residence of Montgomery. 
The transition could hardly have been greater 
— from James Montgomery to Ebenezer 
Elliott. The former was polished in his 
manners, exquisitely neat in his personal 
appearance, and his bland conversation 
never rose above a calm level, except once, 
when he spoke with an indignation which 
years had not abated, of his repeated impri- 
sonment in York Castle, for the publication 
— first in verse and then in prose — of liberal 
and humane sentiments, which offended the 
government. And now I was confronted 
with a burly ironmonger, rapid in speech, 
glowing with enthusiasm, putting and an- 
swering a dozen questions in a breath ; 
eulogising American republicanism, and 
denouncing British aristocracy ; throwing 
sarcasms at the Duke of Wellington, and 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 99 

anointing General Jackson with the oil of 
flattery; pouring out a flood of racy talk 
about church establishments, poetry, politics, 
the price of iron, and the price of corn ; 
while ever and anon he thurst his clamp 
feet in the embers, and hung his shoes on 
the grate to dry." As his prosperity in- 
creased, he took a handsome house in the 
suburbs of Sheffield, where he could look 
down upon the smoky chimneys of the town, 
full of prophetic thoughts, like Teufelsdrock 
in the " Sartor Resartus." A path at the 
back of the house led to the hills, and the 
vale of the Pivelin, about which he loved 
to sing. Here he entertained all comers 
right hospitably, attracting around him 
troops of friends, who listened to his songs 
and speech as to an oracle. 

During the whole of his residence in 
Sheffield, and indeed throughout life, he 
identified himself with its interests, took 
part in all the public concerns of the town, 
was an active member of the Committee 
of the Mechanics' Institution, and delivered 
a course of lectures there, " On Poets and 
Poetry," some of which were published in 
Tait's Magazine, and are admirable literary 
performances. 



100 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

Mr. Robert Leader, jun., in an article 
which appeared in The Sheffield and Mother- 
ham Independent, December 8th, 1849, gives 
the following summary of Elliott's political 
career : — 

" In politics, the great object of Mr. 
Elliott was the abolition of the food mon- 
opoly. Some were ready to say that he 
was a monomaniac on this subject. But 
he saw that this question lay at the root of 
all others in regard to politics and national 
prosperity ; that a nation confined to a 
limited supply of food could never be 
permanently happy and prosperous ; and 
that a commercial system based on restric- 
tion could not be sound. The great cause 
of Mr. Elliott's rejoicing in the triumph of 
Reform was the conviction that it must 
speedily ensure the repeal of the Corn Laws. 
He soon after formed a local society for 
promoting this object. But the restoration 
of transitory prosperity diverted the public 
mind from the subject, and the Anti-Corn 
Law agitation failed. Mr. Elliott continued 
to raise his warning voice, but it was not 
until 1838 that people could be induced 
again to move. Then commenced the 
agitation of the Anti-Corn Law League, 



OF EEESTEZER ELLIOTT. 101 

and also that for the Charter. Mr. Elliott 
had been so much disheartened by the 
previous apathy shown towards his great 
subject, that he seemed to lack faith in 
the sincerity and power of the movement 
in Manchester. The cotton lords had so 
long been apathetic that he could not all 
at once give them credit for having honestly 
and heartily taken up the cause. He seems 
to have had more hope in the movement 
for the Charter, which commenced about 
the same time, and in which, at first, some 
influential Birmingham Reformers took part. 
In September, 1838, Mr. Elliott attended 
a conference in London, and in the same 
month he presided at a meeting in Hoscoe 
Eields, when the Charter was first publicly 
brought forward in Sheffield. But when, 
in the succeeding January, the Chartists 
put themselves in opposition at an Anti- 
Corn Law meeting, Mr. Elliott was found 
supporting the effort which they opposed. 
He did not completely separate himself 
from them, however, till further proof 
had been given of the desperate nature 
of the counsels which prevailed among 
them. When Peter Foden was arrested 
for sedition in August, 1839, Mr. Elliott, 

k 2 



102 LIFE, CHAKACTEK, AND GENIUS 

who seems not to have watched Eoden's 
course, gave bail for him, at the same 
time reprobating the men who counselled 
violence. His want of caution was pun- 
ished, as might fairly have been expected, 
by the absconding of Eoden ; and Mr. 
Elliott's recognizance was estreated. The 
more complete demonstration of the prin- 
ciples then dominant among the Chartists, 
which the events of the winter of 1839-40 
afforded, seems to have satisfied Mr. Elliott 
completely, that the Chartist cause was in 
wrong hands. He continued to aid by his 
writings the Anti-Corn Law movement, 
but he felt that with him the time for 
active personal effort was passed. He 
retired from business, and from active in- 
terference in politics, and left Sheffield in 
1841, to spend his last years at Great 
Houghton, near Barnsley, where he built 
a house upon a small estate of his own. 
Many persons have wondered that he took 
so little part in the operations of the Anti- 
Corn Law League. We believe the primary 
cause to have been a conviction that his 
work was done, and this was not unmingled 
with a doubt whether it was yet possible 
to save the country from the anarchy into 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 103 

which he foresaw that the continuance of 
monopoly must inevitably plunge it. Be- 
coming interested, too, in rural engagements, 
being separated from the friends with whom 
he had been used to converse on public 
affairs, and left behindhand, as it were, in 
the current news of the day, he lacked 
the stimulus to play his accustomed part. 
During great part of his residence at Great 
Houghton, he wrote and published little. 
To various invitations to take part in 
public affairs, he pleaded the old man's 
excuse, and gradually withdrew himself." 

The following letter, upon the Corn Laws, 
addressed to Mr. Rodgers, of Sheffield, 
and dated Houghton Common, May 7th, 
1842, is almost a prophecy ; and shows 
the political sagacity and foresight of the 
poet : — 

" Eat each other, said we ? Yes ! but bare bones are 
poor picking. I have still the remains of a forlorn hope 
in the Tories. Peel, I have long thought, understands 
our position, and will do his best to prevent the coming 
catastrophe ; but he wants moral courage. Wellington 
does not understand our position ; when he does, if 
ever, he will act boldly on his convictions — perhaps too 
late. 

" But the ' fifty pound tenant-at-will-clause Whigs ; — 
the ballot-refusing Whigs ; — the reform-defecting Whigs ; 



104 LIFE, CHARACTER AND GENIUS 

— the monopoly-defending "Whigs ; — the Bank Charter- 
renewing "Whigs ; — the Coercion-bill "Whigs : the twenty- 
milhon- slave -holder -rewarding "Whigs; — the half-faced, 
double-faced "Whigs ; who could once have saved the 
State, and would not — can do no good, if willing. Their 

time is past. 

" Ebenezeb Elliott." 

The active part which he took at political 
meetings in Sheffield, and elsewhere, and the 
fierce poems and epigrams which he scattered 
over the land, made him many enemies ; and 
to such an extent did the virulence of party 
feeling prevail against him, that when, in 
1839, he sought admission to the Sheffield 
Literary and Philosophical Society, the gen- 
tlemen members blackballed him ! Elliott, 
who was fearful lest this transaction, so 
disgraceful to the parties concerned in it, 
should damage in its results the Mechanics' 
Institution — of which he was a member — 
wrote the following letter to Messrs. Paul 
Rodgers and John Powler, members of the 
Committee, offering to withdraw himself 
from all active part in its counsels and 
proceedings. He was the more readily in- 
duced to this course, because certain weak 
minded persons had already taken offence 
at his remarks upon a late occasion, whilst 
introducing the Reverend B. Stannus, an 



OF EBENEZEE, ELLIOTT. 105 

eloquent Unitarian minister of Sheffield, and 
for many years editor of the Sheffield Iris — 
a paper originally started by James Mont- 
gomery, the poet — to the audience, prepara- 
tory to the delivery, by that gentleman, of a 
lecture " On Burns." The letter runs thus : 

" Sheffield, 11th March, 1839. 

" To Messrs. Paul Eodgers and John Fowler. 

" In my old age, I have got the heart-ache. The few 
words with which I introduced Mr. Stannus, I am told 
offended influential friends, or foes, of the institution. 
Certainly, when I said he would show that ' tow hack- 
lers have souls,' I forgot that not one in fifty of my 
hearers knew that poor Burns had been a tow hackler. 
You at least will not suspect me of trying to injure the 
Institution. Besides, you know, if tow kacklers have 
soids, cutters and grinders have ! This may be a scandal, 
but the conclusion seems inevitable. Tou are aware how 
unwilling I am to come forward on any public occasion, 
and that I never do so but from a wish to be useful. All 
the misfortunes of the Institution, it is said, are owing 
to two or three infidels, of whom I am the worst. It 
tortures me to hear it said that no institution can stand, 
if I am known to support it. They err, however, who 
think that I am an irreligious man. I know more of the 
Book than some persons who five by it. Having studied 
the evidence on both sides of the question, I am a 
Christian from conviction, and because I cannot help it. 
But would it not be better, not to elect me to any 
office in the Institution? I could then mingle with 



106 LIFE, CHAEACTEE, AND GENIUS 

the audience, and should not offend by my seeming 
presumption. There would then be no drawback on 
my efforts to serve the Institution ; and no loss could 
be sustained, as I am useless on committees, and worse 
than useless in the chair. 

"Might I suggest to Mr. Fowler, that in moving a 
vote of thanks to Mr. Stannus, it would be well to say 
something to the following purport. In Mr. Stannus's. 
first lecture, he told us that we have to thank John 
Knox for the schools and the educational systems of 
Scotland. How much, then, does the world owe to John 
Knox ? He sowed the fire-seeds which, growing into 
a flame, enabled the English Puritans, not long after- 
wards, to kindle another flame, that seems destined to 
enlighten the whole earth. But for him, and the schools 
of Scotland, perhaps, there would not have been in the 
world, at this day, a shadow or a dream of public liberty. 
The mention of a fact so honourable to John Knox, 
connected as it is with a similar fact in the history of 
Burns, who established the first Scotch book-club, shows 
what a mighty educational engine public lecturing may 
become ; and so long as one person can be found to give 
lectures, splendid as those which have been heard from 
the reverend gentleman, I for one, will not despair of 
the Sheffield Mechanics' Institution. It stands yet ; and 
if the edifice of society is to stand, such institutions 
must not fall. If this country is to escape ruin, it will 
not be by monopolizing ignorance. 

* «M. Jf. At. J*. 

■TV" "A* "JT TP 

Now don't suppose that I should not have written this 
letter if the phflosophers had not blackballed me. I 
should not care a straw for a hogshead full of their black 
balls, unless they were black peas, and I had permission 
to feed a pig with them. " 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 107 

Elliott was at this time amongst the highest 
subscribers to the funds of the Institution ; 
and he manifested his attachment to the cause 
of Popular Education by his own labours 
therein, and by the counsel which he gave 
to others respecting it. Altogether, he was 
not only a good poet, but a good citizen, 
and a true patriot. Prom the beginning 
to the end of his life, there was not a blot 
or flaw upon his character. His attention 
to his business was almost proverbial; and 
although many of his poems were written 
in his counting-house, he never allowed 
his genius to interfere with his bread. He 
was deeply loved by the higher class of 
artizans in Sheffield, who read and appre- 
ciated his poems ; whilst the middle classes, 
as a whole, never understood him, and can 
scarcely be said, even now, to be acquainted 
with his works. The lower orders of the town 
knew him only as a politician, and public 
speaker; and it frequently happened, whilst 
upon the platform or hustings, that he was 
carried away by the force of his own 
thoughts into a complete forgetfulness of 
the conventional uses of language. On 
more than one occasion he has shocked 
the propriety of his hearers, and of the 



108 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

town at large, by the utterance of for- 
bidden words, whilst speaking upon the 
ultimate consequences of the Corn Laws, 
of which he was at the time totally uncon- 
scious. He was so absorbed in his subject 
that he forgot to dress it in decent costume ; 
and from these and similar causes sprang 
the prejudice which ordinary people con- 
ceived against him. 

Nevertheless, he was a brave, high-minded, 
and noble person ; one of the few men who 
come to us across the centuries, and restore 
our faith in man and manful action. His 
whole life was a poem, an epic that closed 
with the demolition of the Corn Laws. 

His prosperity at Sheffield was interrupted 
by the panic of 1837 ; and the subsequent 
commercial revolution, caused by the oper- 
ation of the Corn Laws — against which 
he was still fighting — swept away a great 
part of his earnings. " I lost fully one- 
third of my savings," he says, "and after 
enabling my six boys to quit the nest, 
got out of the fracas with about £6000, 
which I will try to keep." He now left 
his villa, near Sheffield, and retired to 
Hargate Hill, near Great Houghton, where 
he built a good substantial house, suitable 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 109 

to his family and resources. In an interest- 
ing letter which he wrote to Mr. Tait, of 
Edinburgh, after he was quietly domiciled 
in his new abode, he relates all the par- 
ticulars of the purchase, and gives an 
account of the fortunes and prospects of 
his children, which I will here extract : — 

"My eldest son, Ebenezer, whom you 
saw at Sheffield, is a clergyman of the 
establishment, being at Lothedale, near 
Skipton, on a salary of about £140 per 
annum, and a house better fur than mine, 
rent free. He has married a lady of great 
merit, who has a fortune of a hundred a 
year, made safe to herself, and which is in 
Chancery. Perhaps a more simple-man- 
nered, unassuming man never lived. lie 
is no poet, and yet there is a touch of the 
poetic in all he does or suffers. If he 
opens his snuff-box to a stranger, he spills 
the snuff of course ; and he gets on best 
when he stumbles. His mother thinks he 
has some resemblance to me. 

" My son Benjamin, unwarned by his 
father's losses, is carrying on a steel trade 
at Sheffield, in my old premises, where 
(as he thinks, poor fellow ! for he is a 
great hoper,) he has some prospect ; in 

L 



110 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

any other country he would already have 
made an independency. He endures pri- 
vations such as no man of his pretensions 
ought to endure anywhere, and such as no 
man will here endure if free trade he 
obtained before all is lost. He is a fine 
young man, upwards of six feet high, of 
superior abilities, and the highest moral 
worth ; but, alas ! not unindebted to his 
grandmother ! 

" My sons Henry and Francis (as I wish 
them to do) are living as bachelors on 
the interest of money earned and saved by 
themselves, and increased by gifts from me. 
Henry is tall, handsome, and mechanical; 
he ought to have been apprenticed to en- 
gineering. Francis is tall and good-looking, 
but he has the misfortune to be a born 
poet ; for my mother has transmitted to 
him, through me, her nervous constitution 
and body-consuming sensibilities. Is poetic 
genius, then, a disease ? My seventh son, 
Edwin, is a clergyman of the established 
church, for which he may be almost said to 
have educated himself, and into which he 
has won his way by his own efforts. Less 
assisted by me than any of my other sons, 
he is now a rector in the West Indies, where 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. Ill 

he has, I am told, a better income than I 
have been able to secure after all my toils. 
He is a Lytton-Bulwer-looking person, not 
unlike a well-grown young clergy-justice, 
with forehead enough for three. At school 
he was remarkable for laughing hostility 
into kindness — a favourite wherever he went. 
We always called him the gentleman of the 
family. Having observed, when quite a 
youth, that fine folks ride, he broke open 
his thrift-box, and with the contents (after 
drawing tears and kisses from his mother) 
bought an ass of a Tory's son (all his asso- 
ciates were Tories,) who sold it because it was 
starving. Edwin knew that he had nothing 
for it to eat; but the ass, accustomed to hope 
in despair, had expectations. It commenced 
business at my place in Burgus Street, by 
thrusting its lean neck through the kitchen 
window and eating a pound of butter. The 
servant lass, suspecting it to be a thief, kick- 
ed it into the street. From the street it got 
into the fields, and thence into the pin-fold. 
To prevent the lad's heart from breaking, I 
paid seven shillings and sixpence for trespass, 
and released the famished creature. What 
then was to be done? Mark the difference 
between the Tories and the toried ! At last, 



112 LIFE, CHARACTER, ATVD GENIUS 

after various efforts in stock-feeding, I made 
a present of it to a small manufacturing free- 
holder, who always voted blue. He fattened 
it by night in his neighbour's field, and then 
sold it to him for two guineas. 

" My poor son John, the weakling — kind- 
hearted, intelligent, five feet four inches 
high, and almost blind — is druggisting at 
Sheffield, in a sort of chimney called a 
shop, for which he pays £40 a year. He is 
engaged, almost without a moment's pause, 
from seven in the morning until ten at 
night, in dealing out halfpenny-worths of 
drugs ; yet I, who have been accustomed to 
sell goods by tons, think that he is as likely 
to thrive as most of his neighbours, and 
believe that there are thousands of persons 
in Sheffield who would gladly change places 
with him. But what can our constitution 
be worth, if it should turn out at last that 
my sons Henry and Francis, living poorly 
on the interest of their earnings, are wiser 
in their generation than the trade-troubled? 
The worst I wish the Dukes of Richmond 
and Buckingham is, that they may be forced, 
in my time, to earn their living as my sons 
Benjamin and John earn theirs. Old as I 
am, I would engage to hop a mile without 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 113 

changing leg, or die rather than not, to see 
them at it ; for to their unholy legislation, 
I impute it, that of my six sons, the only 
two who could afford to marry may be said 
to be maintained by the labour of others. 

" Of my thirteen children, five are gone 
— William, Thomas, Charles, and the two 
unchristened ones. They left behind them 
no memorial, and the old inscription has 
departed from the grave of Charles. But 
they are safe in the bosom of mercy, and 
not yet quite forgotten even here." 

We have now before us the leading 
features in the external life of the poet. 
As a boy, he was dull, idle, and incapable 
of learning the simplest rudiments of educa- 
tion. Up to his thirteenth year he does 
not manifest a single faculty from which 
his future greatness might be augured. 
His affection for his mother is the only 
redeeming quality which he seems to have 
possessed. Por although, he says, he can- 
not remember when he was not fond of 
ruralities, one can scarcely call his endless 
truantings a manifestation of his love for 
Nature. It was vagabondism, induced by 
shame, not unmixed with sorrow, at his 

l 2 



114 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND QENIUS 

own wilful ignorance. Still, the forms of 
Nature impressed themselves upon his soul 
in these wild, woodland ramblings, and 
remained there in dumb pictury, until he 
was able to reproduce them in song. I 
notice, likewise, that he never forgets a 
single vision of Nature; and that all her 
phenomena and beautiful creatures range 
themselves round his mind as if he was 
the sole centre of the universe. The king- 
fisher flying over the waters of the Don 
is remembered through the darkness of fifty 
years; and the lonely and solemn night, 
with its flaming stars and meteors, is the 
unforgotten canopy of his Hejira into the 
land of the great Pan. The nightingales 
in Bassingthorpe Wood; the snake which 
waited for him on the sunny Sabbath 
mornings at the top of Primrose Lane, 
are all related to him, and flow towards 
hirn by the law of polarity. They are 
waiting to be sung ; although he is un- 
conscious of that deep underlying faculty 
which they are gradually and silently 
awakening within him. The botanical 
book, and the specimens of dry plants, 
which he saw at his aunt's, gave the first 
quickening impulse to his mind and genius. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 115 

Up to this time he had been a frequent 
visitor at the York Keelman ; was drunk, 
even, a few days before this memorable 
visit to his aunt's cottage ; but now, when 
he found he had talents, could admire, 
and, by mechanical process, draw the 
flowers, in the botanical book, he was 
lifted three feet all at once above his ale- 
house companions ; and for the first time 
in his life the good demon opened the 
windows of his soul, and gave him a 
glimpse of the wonders and beauties of the 
universe. Then followed the impressions 
made upon him on hearing his brother 
Giles read that first book of Thomson's 
Seasons — his comparison of the poetical 
description of the flowers with the flowers 
themselves; and the new idea which burst 
upon him of Botany in Verse ! Afterwards, 
we find him rambling for a purpose, mys- 
teriously collecting plants, for the cure of 
diseases the people thought, and thought 
truly, although the diseases were not such 
as they imagined. Then Homer's Greek 
turns all his thoughts into melody; and 
at last he attempts his rhymed thunder- 
storm, where the sheep are represented 
running away after they were killed by 



116 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

lightning, because the rhyme would have 
it so; and thus, by slow and imperceptible 
degrees, was the mind of the poet developed; 
and thus he sought to break the chains 
of his spirit, and uplift the awful veil of 
Nature. He served, however, a long ap- 
prenticeship to his art before he produced 
anything worthy of a place in the Pantheon 
of literature. Twenty years elapsed between 
the publication of " The Vernal Walk," and 
that of " The Corn Law Rhymes ; " and 
although these are by no means his best 
performances, yet they won for him a name, 
which led to an appreciation by the public 
of those higher books which he had written 
in the interim alluded to. Prom the first 
his muse was wedded to politics and to 
social wrong. These, indeed, were the 
materials from which his inspiration was 
drawn, and he found in them the region of 
his work and power. Hence, he never 
loses sight of his mission, but with the 
jealous eye and vehement soul of a Prophet 
and Reformer, labours without ceasing for 
its accomplishment. He is of all other 
men, the Man of his age. Such scars are 
upon the face of this old warrior — such 
lightnings in Ins eyes — such thunder and 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 117 

terror upon his brow — yet, withal such 
pity and womanly tenderness — such musical 
pathos in his heart, and all so strangely 
and inextricably woven in his nature and 
radiating his person, that were I to meet 
him a thousand years hence, in the most 
out-of-the-wav corner of Heaven, I should 
recognize him in spite of his celestial 
raiment, and rejoice with him that life 
was at last swallowed up in victory. 

I must not omit, before proceeding to the 
final division of my subject, to quote in this 
place, a short and characteristic note, written 
to the editor of The Sheffield Independent, 
by James Montgomery, the sole remaining 
poet now, in the town of fire and steel, upon 
the subject of this paper : — 

" I do not remember having ever been for 
an hour in Mr. Elliott's company. Our 
occasional meetings were few, and short, and 
far between, though he was known and ad- 
mired by me as a poet, before the world 
would either know or honour him as such. 
He published several small volumes, at inter- 
vals, the manuscripts of which (mostly) he 
had confidentially submitted to me; and they 
had my best encouragement, on the ground 
of their merit; but not one of these could 



118 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

command public attention, till he broke out 
in ' The Corn Law Rhymes,' as Waller said 
of Denham, ' like the Irish Rehellion, forty 
thousand strong, when nobody thought of such 
a thing' Then, indeed, he compelled both 
astonishment and commendation from all 
manner of critics : Whig, Tory, and Radical 
reviewers vieing with each other who should 
magnanimously extol the talents which they 
had either not discovered, or had superci- 
liously overlooked, till, for their own credit, 
they could no longer hold their peace, 
or affect to despise what they had not 
had heart to acknowledge, when their 
countenance would have done service to 
the struggling author. A few of his mas- 
terpieces did find their way into the Iris, but 
I believe these were all republished by himself 
in his successive miscarrying volumes. I, 
however, am quite willing to hazard any cri- 
tical credit by avowing my persuasion, that 
in originality, power, and even heauty, when 
he chose to be beautiful,—- he might have 
measured heads beside Byron in tremendous 
energy, Crabbe in graphic description, and 
Coleridge in effusions of domestic tenderness ; 
while in intense sympathy with the poor, in 
whatever he deemed their wrongs or their 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 119 

sufferings, he excelled them all, — and per- 
haps everybody else among- contemporaries, in 
prose or verse. He was, in a transcendental 
sense, the Poet of the Poor, whom, if not 
always 'wisely,* I at least dare not say, he 
loved ' too well.'' His personal character, his 
fortunes, and his genius, would require, and 
they deserve a full investigation, as fur- 
nishing an extraordinary study of human 
nature." 

The allusions made by Montgomery, in 
the above letter, to Elliott's " Effusions of 
Domestic Tenderness," and to his " intense " 
sympathy with the people, cannot be better 
illustrated than by the following poems : — 

THE DYING BOY TO THE SLOE BLOSSOM. 

" Before thy leaves thou comest once more, 

"White blossom of the sloe ! 
Thy leaves will come as heretofore ; 
But this poor heart, its troubles o'er, 

Will then lie low. 

A month at least before thy time 

Thou comest, pale flower, to me ; 
For well thou know'st the frosty rime 
Will blast me, ere my vernal prime, 
Xo more to be. 



120 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

Why here in winter ? No storm lowers 

O'er Nature's silent shroud ! 
But blithe larks meet the sunny showers, 
High o'er the doomed untimely flowers 

In beauty bowed. 

Sweet violets, in the budding grove, 
Peep where the glad waves run ; 
The wren below, the thrush above, 
Of bright to-morrow's joys and love 
Sing to the sun. 

And where the rose-leaf, ever bold, 
Hears bees chant hymns to God, 
The breeze-bowed palm, mossed o'er with gold, 
Smfles on the well, in summer cold, 
And daisied sod. 

But thou, pale blossom, thou art come, 

And flowers in winter blow, 
To tell me that the worm makes room 
Bor me, her brother, in the tomb, 

And thinks me slow. 

Bor as the rainbow of the dawn 

Boretells an eve of tears, 
A sunbeam on the saddened lawn, 
I smile, and weep to be withdrawn 

In early years. 

Thy leaves will come ; but songful spring 

Will see no leaf of mine ; 
Her bells will ring, bride' s-maids sing, 
"When my young leaves are withering 

Where no suns shine. 



OF EBENEZEK ELLIOTT. 121 

might I breathe morn's dewy breath, 
When June's sweet Sabbaths chime ! 

But thine before my time, O death ! 

1 go where no flower blossometh, 
Before my time. 



Even as the blushes of the morn 

Vanish, and long ere noon, 
The dewdrop dieth on the thorn, 
So fair I bloomed ; and was I born 
To die as soon ? 



To love my mother and to die - 

To perish in my bloom ; 
Is this my sad brief history ; 
A tear dropped from a mother's eye 

Into the tomb. 



He lived and loved — will sorrow say- 
By early sorrow tried : 

He smiled, he sighed, he past away ; 

His life was but an April day — 
He loved and died ! 



My mother smiles, then turns away, 

But turns away to weep : 
They whisper round me — what they say 
I need not hear, for in the clay 

I soon must sleep. 



122 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

Oh, love is sorrow ! sad it is 
To be both tried and true ; 

I ever trembled in my bliss ; 

Now there are farewells in a kiss — 
They sigh adieu, 



But woodbines flaunt when blue bells fade, 

"Where Don reflects the skies ; 
And many a youth in Shirecliff's shade 
Will ramble where my boyhood played, 
Though Alfred dies. 



Then panting woods the breeze will feel, 

And bowers, as heretofore, 
Beneath their load of roses reel ; 
But I through woodbined lanes shall steal 

No more, no more. 



Well, lay me by my brother's side. 

Where late we stood and wept ; 
For I was stricken when he died— 
I felt the arrow as he sighed 

His last, and slept." 



The above poem needs no comment; and 
the following, entitled "The People's An- 
them," will show what Montgomery means 
by Elliott's love for the people. 



OF E13ENEZER ELLIOTT. 123 

" WiiEtf wilt thou save the people ':' 
Oh, God of Mercy ! when ? 
Not kings and lords, hut nations ! 
Not thrones and crowns, hut men ! 
Flowers of thy heart, oh God, are they, 
Let them not pass like weeds away ! 
Their heritage a sunless d:iv ! 

God save the people ! 



Shall crime "bring crime for ever, — 
Strength aiding still the strong ? 
Is it thy will, oh Father, 
That men shall toil for wrong ? 
« No ! ' say thy mountains ; ' No ! ' thy skies ; 
' Man's clouded sun shall brightly rise 
And songs be heard instead of sighs.' 
God save the people ! 



When wilt thou save the people ? 
Oh, God of Mercy ! when ? 
The people, Lord ! the people ! 
Not thrones and crowns, but men ! 
God save the people ! thine they are, 
Thy children, as thy angels fair : 
Save them from bondage, and despair ? 
God ! save the people.' ' 



afttminfarenrc* of tl)e $oet. 



PART III. 

REMINISCENCES OE THE POET IN HIS RETIREMENT AT HARGATE 

HILL. 

It only now remains for me to speak of the 
poet in his retirement at Hargate Hill, and 
present a picture of his private life. And as 
I design to give personal reminiscences of 
him, I hope I shall not incur the charge 
of egotism, if, in the execution of my pur- 
pose, I shall find it necessary to take a more 
prominent part than I could otherwise wish 
or consent to. At all events, egotism is very 
far from my intention. I have thought the 
matter well over, however, and do not see 
how I could better render justice to my 
subject, than by adopting the plan I have 
chosen ; and with this explanation will ad- 
dress myself forthwith to the work before 
me. 

Hargate Hill is about eight miles from 
Barnsley, and three from Darfield Station, 
on the North Midland Railway. " I chose 



128 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

this place," says the poet,* " for its beauty, 
which, as is usual in affairs of the heart, is 
invisible to all but the enamoured. Rising 
early one morning, I took a beautiful walk 
of eighteen miles, through parks, wild lanes, 
and footpaths ; reached the place ; liked it ; 
and returning the same day, resolved to buy 
it. Supposing the cottage, which stood upon 
it, to be worth £60, I gave £180 for the 
land, say £18 per acre. It was a wild land, 
having being a wood, and fox cover ; called 
on the maps Argilt Hill, or wood. I have 
laid out upon it, land and all, about a 
thousand guineas. My establishment," he 
continues, " is illustrious for a St. Bernard's 
dog, and a Welsh pony, ' the observed of 
all observers,' which in its green old age of 
twenty years, draws a small gig; both un- 
taxed. Gig, harness, and mare, cost alto- 
gether £8. 10s. My family here consists of 
Mrs. Elliott, my two daughters, or rather 
one daughter, for they keep house for one 
of my sons at Sheffield in turn, — a servant 
maid, and a man who works for me occasion- 
ally. Rid the Corn Laws, and I shall not 
be without dim visions of a flunkey." 

It is a lovely walk from Darfield Station 
* In a letter previously quoted, addressed to Mr. Tait. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 129 

up to the poet's house, and the surrounding 
country is of an undulating, quiet, and 
pastoral character. The road runs through 
thick hedges and tall trees ; with wide, green 
pastures on either side of it, where sheep 
and oxen graze in undisturbed tranquillity. 
I have many beautiful recollections of this 
old green road, with its musical birds and 
flowers ; its cool brooks, and shadowy outline 
of trees, falling in sunny mosaics upon the 
pathway. I remember, too, the wild roses 
and the honeysuckles which grew upon the 
hedges ; especially the latter, whose " clus- 
tered trumpets," as Elliott calls them, seemed 
to be blowing anthems of incense upon the 
morning air, to the praise of the Great Crea- 
tor. For it always happened in my summer 
visits to Elliott that the days were fine and 
sunny ; so that I look back upon them as 
Sabbaths consecrated to the genius of friend- 
ship and poetry. 

After walking about two miles through 
this fine country, you come to Great 
Houghton, a long and straggling village, 
chiefly remarkable for an old dilapidated 
hall, from which Wentworth, Lord Strafford, 
married his third wife, and where he lived 
for some time afterwards. It is a fine old 



130 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

ruin; and I remember with what interest 
I regarded it, on my first visit in that 
direction, to the poet. It was very early 
one summer's morning, and long before I 
arrived at the village, I saw the grey massy 
building looming through the sunny mists, 
and presently, beheld its grotesque gables, 
and projecting windows. There was such 
an antique look about the place, that I 
could have imagined myself, for the mo- 
ment, drawn suddenly back into the middle 
ages. A nearer approach, however, dissi- 
pated the illusion; for it was soon evident 
that the old glory had departed from its 
walls, and with it the ancient spirit of its 
chivalrous owners. At the end of the field 
enclosing it on the west, which it was 
evident enough, from the scattered elms 
and chesnut trees, had once been a park, 
hung a wooden gate upon two stone pillars, 
formerly a chief entrance to the mansion. 
A stone wall ran from this gate to the 
mansion itself; and upon an inspection of 
the front, I found it was converted into 
an inn, where provender was furnished to 
man and beast for money. I opened the 
great door and entered the house ; for 
Elliott had frequently desired me to in- 



OF EBENEZEK ELLIOTT. 131 

spect the old mansion, and named it with 
pride, as the most interesting historic ruin 
in his neighbourhood. A large fire was blaz- 
ing up the huge chimney, and the landlady 
was washing her chubby-faced children in 
an earthen pancheon, before it. A servant 
girl brought me a cup of milk, and asked 
if I would not like a drop of rum in it. 
The landlord, who was dressed in a velveteen 
shooting jacket, and corduroy breeches, was 
quietly devouring his hot toast and tea ; 
whilst a braw fellow, who had brought a 
team of horses from Sheffield, was regaling 
himself on the oak settle, with a pint of 
beer. I enquired how the house came to 
be in such a dilapidated condition, and the 
landlord told me that the steward of the 
property had frequently promised to patch 
up the old rooms, and make them habitable 
for him and his family — but always forgot 
to keep his word. The roof was quite 
rotten, he said, from neglect ; and he could 
not afford to repair it himself, out of the 
profits of the little farm he rented. And to 
this complexion, thought I, has the pride of 
Wentworth come at last ! The lofty rooms, 
and tracery on the oaken beams and wain- 
scots, seemed to mock the vulgarity and 



132 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND OENIUS 

poverty of their present occupiers; and I 
could not help thinking that so fine a 
building — with its rich historic memories — 
might have been devoted to a better purpose 
than that of an alehouse. Having obtained 
permission, I wandered over the hall, up 
massy stone staircases ; into large rooms 
lighted by magnificent Avindows ; along 
twilight galleries, where old family pic- 
tures, instinct with life, were wont to stare 
from the walls upon observing visitors, in 
the dim times that are gone. Here were 
dark antechambers; the floors all rotten, 
and breaking into dust beneath the foot ; 
and there were others well lighted, and 
looking out upon a fair and beautiful 
country, over which the sun shone as 
brightly as in Strafford's proudest and 
happiest days. But Strafford himself, and 
his third wife, and all their retainers, 
where were they ? The eastern part of 
the building is a mere ruin. The walls 
are dismantled, and have fallen in in some 
places, leaving nothing to be seen but 
broken staircases and mouldering stones, 
where the ivy clings, and the bat and the 
owl inhabit. Elliott, in speaking of this 
old hall to a friend, who reports his last 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 133 

visit to him. in an interesting paper which 
appeared in a late number of " Eliza Cook's 
Journal," says: "after Wentworth's time 
it became the property of Sir William 
Rhodes, a stout Presbyterian and Parlia- 
mentarian. When the Civil War broke 
out, Rhodes took the field with his tenantry, 
on the side of the Parliament, and the first 
encounter between the two parties is said 
to have taken place only a few miles to 
the north of Old Houghton. While Rhodes 
was at Tadcaster, with Sir Thomas Fairfax, 
Captain Grey, (an ancestor of the present 
Earl Grev,) at the head of a bodv of about 
three hundred royalist horse, attacked the 
old hall, and there being only some thirty 
servants left to defend it, took the place 
and set fire to it, destroying all that would 
burn. But Cromwell rode down the Cav- 
aliers with his ploughmen at Marston Moor, 
not very far from here either, and then 
Rhodes built the little chapel that you will 
see still standing at the west end of the 
hall, and established a godly Presbyterian 
divine to minister there; forming a road 
from thence to Driffield, about three miles 
off, to enable the inhabitants of that place 
to reach it by a short and convenient route. 



134 LIFE, CIIAKACTER, AND GENIUS 

I forget how it happened, (continued the 
poet,) I believe it was by marriage — but 
so it was — that the estate fell into the 
possession in these latter days, of Monckton 
Milnes, the poet's father, to whom it 
belongs." 

Resting myself awhile after I had explored 
the dusty chambers and ruins of the hall, I 
resumed my walk through Great Houghton 
village, about half a mile from which, at the 
top of a hill, stands the poet's house. And 
as I ascended from the valley, I heard afar 
off the well-known bark of the great St. 
Bernard's dog already alluded to, as one of 
the notable appendages to Elliott's establish- 
ment. The red marly road led me under 
beautiful shady trees, up to Houghton Com- 
mon, which spread out with its blossoming 
gorse bushes, like a sea of gold and emeralds. 
On the right hand there was a farm-house, 
with great stacks piled up on one side of it, 
and a little cluster of trees in the back- 
ground ; and on the left, fenced in from the 
common by a good and substantial stone 
wall, stood Elliott's villa. Here I turned off 
upon the gravel road leading to the large 
blue gates, and entered the poet's grounds, 
where I was saluted by the great shaggy dog 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 135 

whose bark I had heard below. He came at 
me with a bound, wagging his huge tail, and 
jumping with his paws upon my shoulder 
he thrust his friendly snout into my face. I 
entered the garden, and soon stood within 
the porch of the door. It was about nine 
o'clock, and I remained awhile to listen, for 
I heard the sound of musical voices within, 
accompanied by the piano-forte. It Avas soon 
evident that the whole family were engaged 
in singing those beautiful matins ; and I 
heard the poet's voice mingling its plaintive 
wailings with the general harmony. I walked 
into the hall, took off my hat and coat, and 
suddenly presented myself in the sitting-room. 
There was a general exclamation of surprise, 
joy, and welcome. The poet advanced first 
to shake me by the hand, flinging his specta- 
cles over his shaggy brows, whilst his blue 
eyes were lighted up as with the sunshine of 
all the worlds. It was something to feel the 
warm grip of that manly hand, and to hear 
the kind, hearty, and hospitable words that 
accompanied it. Nor was it less pleasant to 
be greeted by the good wife and fair daughter, 
who constituted at that time the little house- 
hold at Hargate. I shall never forget that 
morning. The warm sunshine streamed into 



136 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

the room from the open casement, as we sat 
at breakfast, and the sweet roses looked 
through the window-panes, smiling upon the 
happy group within. An open canary cage 
stood upon a table under the window, and 
the pretty yellow warbler sang its richest 
song all breakfast time, flying across the 
room at intervals, and settling with loving 
wings upon the head of the venerable poet. 
Then we had a pleasant conversation about 
the beautiful country that lay around us, 
with its dark woods, valleys, dells, and moor- 
lands ; and the poet related to me all the 
local traditions and histories, which he had 
gathered from the " Deanery of Doncaster," 
and other sources. He spoke of two great 
oaks about a mile from his house, where the 
Wapentake assembled in ancient times, and 
where, in the hollow of one of them, Nevison, 
the celebrated highwayman, used to secrete 
himself when in danger. He likewise related 
the history of Nevison, who was born at 
Wortley in Charles the Second's time, and 
knew the site of the public-house where he 
was at last captured: "A heart-breaking 
story, I have no doubt," said Elliott, in speak- 
ing of it, " for the daughter of the innkeeper 
was Nevison' s sweetheart." The site of this 



OF EBENE2ER ELLIOTT. 137 

house is at Ringstone Hill, otherwise cele- 
brated as the place where Sir Godfrey Rhodes 
assembled the first troop in the parliamen- 
tary war. He spoke likewise of South Kirby 
— a little village abont two and a half miles 
off — as interesting to him from the fact that 
there the Rev. George Beanmont lived as 
vicar, who was tried and executed February 
18th, 1648, for holding correspondence with 
Colonel Morris, who had surprised Pontefract 
Castle for the King. Pope's mother was 
born also in his neighbourhood, he said, viz., 
at Marrow Thorn, although it was nearer 
Barnsley than Hargate. Her maiden name 
was Edith Turner, and the registry of her 
birth is dated the 18th of June, 1049. These 
historical facts were deeply interesting to 
him, and he loved to relate them to his 
friends and visitors. I shall not soon forget 
the indignation with which he spoke of one 
Thomas Gargrave, who, at the age of thirty- 
four, was hanged, for burning a poor servant 
boy of his in an oven at Great Houghton. 

When breakfast was over, the poet related 
to me many incidents in his early life, and 
spoke of his ramblings around Sheffield, as 
the most beautiful of all his memories. The 
hill above the old Park Wood, where the 

n 2 



138 LIFE, CHAEACTEE, AND GENIUS 

scene of the Ranter's last sermon is placed, 
was a favourite haunt of his ; and he heard 
the sound of the many voiced rivers — the 
Don, the Loxley, Ewden, Rivelin, Sheaf, 
and Porter — like the songs of innumerable 
Syrens, singing to him for ever, and cheer- 
ing him in his Hargate solitude. His love 
for these beautiful streams had grown into 
a passion, which was increased by his long 
absence from them; and whilst alluding 
to them on the morning in question, he 
repeated the following "Farewell to Riv- 
elin" — which he had written previous to 
his leaving Sheffield : — 



" Beautiful Biver ! Goldenly shining 
Where, with the cistus, Woodbines are twining, 
(Birklands around thee, Mountains above thee,) 
Bivelin wildest ! Do I not love thee ? 



Why do I love thee, Heart-breaking Biver ? 
Love thee, and leave thee ? Leave thee for ever ! 
Never to see thee, Where the storms greet thee ! 
Never to hear thee, Bushing to meet me ! 



Never to hail thee, Joyfully chiming 
Beauty in music, Sister of Wyming ! 
Blayfully mingling Laughter and sadness, 
Eibbledin's sister! Sad in thy gladness. 



OP EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 139 

Oh, when thy poet, "Weary reposes, 
Coffin'd in slander, Far from thy roses, 
Tell slave and tyrant (Heart-breaking Eiver !) 
Tell them I loved thee, Love thee for ever!" 

He was, however, well satisfied with his pre- 
sent position. " People," he said, " laughed 
at me for buying this little estate, and 
thought I should soon die of ennui, so far 
removed as I am from friends, companions, 
and the conveniences of civilization. But 
they were all mistaken. I am happy with 
my family and books ; and spend my time in 
laying out my garden, planting trees, walk- 
ing, driving, reading, writing. I envy no 
man, nor have I any right to do so. This is 
not an unlovely neighbourhood (he added) for 
a poet in his old age, as I will prove to you 
before you return. And in the meanwhile, 
look out of the window, and tell me what 
you think of the view from it." I did so, 
and found that the poet had made artificial 
openings in the trees which bounded the 
croft beyond the garden, through which the 
best pictures of the landscape were visible. 
Here were the hall and village of Great 
Houghton, and the dim landscape beyond it ; 
and a little to the right, far off, through 
another opening of foliage, lay the manufac- 



140 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

turing villages of Swinton and Wath ; * and 
nearer in the valley, the beautiful church 
of Darfield looked over the quiet scenery 
towards the poet's house, backed by the 
woods of Wentworth, through which the 
monuments of Hoober Stand, Needles' Eye, 
and Smoothing Iron, shot gleaming in the 
sunshine, whilst a line of dark hills bounded 
the horizon. " Confess now," said the poet, 
"that I have not made a foolish choice, in 
coming up here to live." Shortly after- 
wards, at my request, he read to me some of 
his unpublished poems. These were written 
in a large folio book, which he kept in a 
wooden box, on one side the piano. He 
repeated, likewise, several melodies which he 
had adapted to some of our national airs, 
and I afterwards had the pleasure of joining 
his daughter in singing them. In this way 
we beguiled several hours, and then took a 
short ramble over the moor, and through the 
fields and woods, conversing by the way, of 
the aspects and tendencies of the age, and of 
the truly great men now living amongst us. 
In the political sphere, Cobden was his idol. 
He called him the Hero of the Bloodless 
Revolution ; — the golden - mouthed orator, 

* Earthenware is the staple manufacture of these villages. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 141 

whose plainest words rang with music, and 
whose eloquence, at once simple, powerful, 
earnest, argumentative, and convincing, was 
the most wonderful which ancient or modern 
times could boast of. "I look to Cobden," 
he said, " as the leader of the Advance Body 
Guard of Man ! Great as the Corn Law 
Battle was, and incalculably great as it will 
be in its results, Cobden will yet effect 
another revolution as great as that. He will 
destroy monopoly in all its forms ; and by 
reducing our taxation, he will rid the country 
of its titled paupers, and enable the working 
man not only to eat cheap bread, but to 
possess a comfortable home — to educate his 
children — to live as a man ! ' He named 
Bright, too, as a fiery and energetic speaker 
and actor, but intellect ually considered, as 
a Melancthon leaning upon the bosom of 
Luther. Of Lord John Russell and the 
"Whigs he had no hope, and spoke of them 
in contemptuous and not very polite lan- 
guage. But he respected Sir Robert Peel, 
and regretted that he had " retired from 
business." I have previously shown, in an 
extract from one of his letters, that he had 
all but prophesied, ten years before the event 
took place, that Sir Robert would repeal 



142 LIFE, CHAKACTEK, AND GENIUS 

the Corn Laws, as soon as he understood the 
true commercial position of England ; " and 
now," he said, " we want Sir Robert to exe- 
cute his own measures ; for we have not got 
Free Trade yet, and when we do get it, we 
shall have hard work to keep it." Speaking 
of Colonel Thompson — the brave Reformer 
and accomplished scholar — he called him the 
Prince of Politicians ; and said that every 
letter of the Corn Law Catechism ought to 
be printed in gold, and read once a day on 
Sundays from every pulpit in the land. Por 
this book was Elliott's gospel ; and I am not 
quite sure that he did not go to heaven with 
it in his hand. He will read it there to 
Bentham, as he advised Tennyson, when he 
died, to read Longfellows' "Evangeline" to 
Homer. 

I ventured to allude to the neglect with 
which he had been treated by his own party, 
as a sort of probe which I thought might 
reach him; but he had no bitterness in his 
heart against his quondam associates, and 
fellow- workers. " I am no longer wanted," 
he said; "I have done my work, and can 
die, when God calls me ; thankful that the 
battle is over, and the ' good time coming.' " 
We were now in the midst of a wood, 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 143 

wandering knee-deep in blue bells, whilst 
the birds were singing merrily around us. 
"These," he said, pointing to the flowers, 
and trees, and birds, " are my companions ; 
from them I derive consolation and hope, for 
Nature is all harmony and beauty, and man 
will one day be like her, and the war of 
castes and the war for bread will be no more." 
And then he stooped down, and gathering a 
flower, placed it affectionately in my hand, 
and bade me keep it in remembrance of that 
day's ramble. " For," he added, with the 
most touching emphasis of voice, " when 
these old woods are brown with their autum- 
nal attire, I shall, in all probability, be at 
rest in the grave." 

The afternoon of that day was spent in 
walking up and down the grass-plot before 
the house, where we continued our morn- 
ing's conversation, interrupted occasionally 
by the St. Bernard's dog, who seemed to 
be jealous of my monopoly of the poet, 
and came to ask for his wonted caresses. 
We were sometimes joined likewise by Mrs. 
Elliott and her daughter, who, when they 
had heard enough of our politics, retired 
amongst the flowers, and left us alone in 
the full glory of debate. It is well known 



144 LIFE, CHAEACTEE, AND GENIUS 

that Elliott was a redoubted champion of 
competition, and that he looked upon com- 
munism as fatal to the best interests of man; 
as a system where Do-nothing was to have 
all, with George Sand for a king.* It is 
related of him that walking once in company 
with a leading Socialist of Sheffield, discuss- 
ing this subject, they came to a sudden turn 
of the road, which revealed a number of 
willow trees in a meadow, all recently cut 
into one uniform shape. At this strange 
and unexpected sight Elliott extended his 

* Elliott's Epigram, which lie called " Bully Idle's 
Prayer," will convey a good idea of his hatred of com- 
munism, and of his unfairness also in dealing with the 
great problem which communism has opened up to 
modern enquiry. Here it is : — 

" Lord, send us weeks of Sundays ; 
A Saint's day, every day ; 
Shirts gratis, ditto breeches, 
No work, and double pay ; 
Tell Short and Long they're both short now ; 
To Slow and East one meed allow ; 
Let Louis Blanc take Ashley's cow, 
And Richmond give her hay." 

A letter by Isaac Ironside, of Sheffield, respecting this 
epigram will be found in the Appendix, and will be 
read, I think, with interest. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 145 

arms, and cried aloud, " Behold a society of 
ready-made Socialists ! " He was apt enough 
at this work, and never let slip a good oppor- 
tunity of illustrating his arguments by such 
casual examples as fell in his way. His 
hatred of communism, however, blinded him, 
as usual, to the whole merits of the subject, 
which he had never studied, and which he 
said was not worth studying. George Sand 
was his Mother of Harlots in the new regime; 
and he called Louis Blanc the fit legislator 
of an infernal Noodledom. He regarded the 
communistic tendencies of the age as the 
most death-like sign, which, if not arrested 
would plunge the nation into anarchy, 
confusion, and ruin. No argument drawn 
from the anomalies of our social state, could 
convince him that Capital had not a right to 
rule the world, according to the law of 
supply and demand ; and no horrible Irish 
famine ; no criminal statistics ; no facts of 
daily starvation ; no revelation of fever cel- 
lars — of starving needlewomen making shirts 
at 4d. a day, and that they might not die, 
compelled to the most pitiable, sorrowful 
degradation— (such as one cannot think of 
without tears and agony) — I say none of 
these things could move Elliott one inch 

o 



146 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

from his political doctrine, or make him 
doubt for a moment that competition was 
the great social law of God, destined to 
rule the world to the end of time. Nei- 
ther would he admit the validity of the 
higher argument drawn from the Christian 
precepts, in favour of co-operation. Eree 
trade, he said, would give us all we wanted 
of material wealth ; and education would 
gradually introduce a better feeling, and a 
kinder understanding between masters and 
men. Not that Elliott was impassible to 
the sufferings of the classes we have al- 
luded to ; for it is notorious, that he was 
keenly alive to them. It was as a poet, 
however, not as a political economist. In 
the former capacity he would have died to 
save them ; in the latter, he could have seen 
the earth filled with graves, rather than have 
abandoned it to poor Dudevant, " Ashley's 
Cow," and Louis Blanc. 

Returning once more to the Corn Law 
Agitation he said, " You spoke this morning 
about the neglect which you imagined me to 
have received at the hands of the old League; 
and you are not perhaps aware that the 
League itself originated in Sheffield ; and 
that the Anti-Corn Law Association com- 



OF E13ENEZER ELLIOTT. 1^7 

mencecl the crusade against monopoly, and 
engaged Paulton as their lecturer." He 
likewise claimed for himself the honour of 
having given the first decided impulse to the 
movement, and by his songs, epigrams, and 
satires, prepared the way for the reception 
of the Anti-Corn Law doctrines. He spoke, 
too, with great and pardonable pride upon 
his position with respect to the Corn Law 
Agitation. " I have won my name as the 
1 Rhymer of the Revolution,' " he said, "and 
am prouder of that distinction than I should 
be if I were made Poet Laureate of England." 
He did not seem to be aware that his fame 
as a poet could not last upon that foundation 
alone; or that there was anything in his 
poetry of which he might be more justly 
proud than of these political effusions. He 
was delighted when his correspondents styled 
him Ebenezer Elliott, C. L. R. (Corn Law 
Rhymer), and he had a seal with these 
initials surmounting his own name, which 
he was in the habit of using upon his letters. 
In conversation he was sometimes slow and 
deliberate ; condensing his thoughts in as few 
words as possible, and giving the net result 
— as with a "whip of fire," without letting 
one see the "cold process" of his thinking. 



148 LIFE, CHAEACTEE, AND GENIUS 

Hence he was often sudden and startling in 
liis annunciations ; but he was no dogmatist 
— in the rigid meaning of that word — and 
if his premises were disputed, would take 
infinite pains to establish them, conducting 
afterwards the entire argument with logical 
accuracy. But when the subject was a sacred 
one to him, and he grew warm over it, there 
was no bound to his rhetoric. He would 
utter the finest things, one after another, 
with the throat of Etna, scattering them 
about in blasts of fire and thunder. He was 
a sort of walking earthquake, clad in flowers 
and rainbows, one of the most beautiful and 
terrible of men. 

I need not say that he was a thorough 
democrat in principle, for all his poems bear 
witness to the fact ; but he had no patience 
with Mobocracy, and despised the dema- 
gogues who made it their business to mislead 
the people, coolly pocketing the wages of 
their iniquity. At one period of his life, 
when William Lovett guided the popular 
movement for reform, Elliott did all in his 
power to promote the enfranchisement of 
the people, both by speaking and writ- 
ing ; but when O'Connor and the physical 
force Chartists appeared, he withdrew from 



OP EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 149 

the movement, and warned the working 
men of the inevitable issue of that busi- 
ness. 

And whilst we were walking this afternoon 
in the garden at Hargate, he fought his 
old Reform Battles over again ; and told 
me how he trembled when he had to face 
a public meeting; how he prepared all his 
speeches, and committed them to memory, 
singing them in public, to the same tune 
wherein he had learned them in private. 
And when we were tired of talking, he con- 
ducted me round the house and garden, and 
over his little farm of corn fields, grass, 
and clover. The garden, which was laid out 
by the poet himself, was very tastefully 
arranged, having many winding paths in it, 
running between rich borders of shrubs and 
flowers. A mound, artificially elevated, on 
one side of the garden, commanded a beautiful 
and extensive prospect of hills, woods, dales, 
and streams. On the west lay a sunny dell, 
and just beyond it, on the side of the hill, 
stood a farm-house and buildings — whilst 
several cows were grouped under the branches 
of a large beech tree in the farm croft. 
Lady Wood, West Wood, Spring Wood, and 
Lunn Wood, stretched away at our feet, 

o 2 



150 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

covering many hundred acres, and forming 
a fine foreground to the wide and distant 
scenery, lying between them and the Hud- 
dersfield Hill, which bounded the horizon. 
" We can see West Nab and Home Moss 
distinctly from this mound," said the poet, 
" and in damp weather they look as if they 
would come into my parlour windows." We 
proceeded from this mound down the hill 
side, which the poet had planted with trees 
and shrubs, to the little dell below, where a 
trout stream went babbling along over its 
shallow and stony bed. When we arrived 
opposite the corn-fields, just as they slope 
down to the lowlands — we being still in the 
dell — the poet led me to a tree, which spread 
its friendly branches over the beautiful 
waving grass at our feet. " Under this 
tree," he said, with a plaintive and serious 
voice, — " I mean to be buried. I shall sleep 
well enough here, out of the consecrated 
churchyard ; and who knows but I may feel 
the daisies growing over my grave, and hear 
the birds sing to me in my winding-sheet ! " 
He once desired to be buried at Shirecliffe, 
under the Gospel Tree, which he has cele- 
brated in his poem of the "Ranter;" and 
had even driven a large nail in it, and com- 



OP EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 151 

municated the fact to two beloved friends in 
Sheffield, that they might know it, and see 
his wishes enforced in case of his sudden 
death. But his sepulture on his own estate 
at Hargate was a more pleasing and touch- 
ing desire, full of pastoral simplicity and 
patriarchal beauty. That it was his earnest 
desire to be thus buried, and that he had 
long contemplated the event, there can be 
no doubt. Writing to a friend, (Isaac Iron- 
side, of Sheffield,) in September, 1848, he 
says : "I suffer great pain, and after losing 
more than twenty-eight pounds in weight, I 
continue to lose at the rate of one pound 
weekly. You cannot fatten calves in that 
way ! If I am not removed suddenly, I 
shall last till April next." He then con- 
tinues, " I wish to be buried in mv skin at 
the foot of Lord Galway's ash tree here. 
My folks are all for holy ground and costs, 
so I suppose I must submit; and Rotherhani 
Church being full of corruption, and one of 
our neighbouring clergymen happening to be 
here, I have been trying to bargain with him 
for a grave at Darfield. Could you think it ! 
Sinking the offal, it will cost 40s. for the use 
of the ground alone." In this way he grimly 
played with the subject, but it had a deep 



152 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

hold of him, nevertheless, as the little poem 
entitled "Let me rest: — " 

" "Where the wayside daisies grow, 
Where the winds a- Maying go," 

will sufficiently testify. Neither did he look 
on death as trifling and unimportant, but as 
a serious event, upon which were suspended 
the awful reprisals of a future judgment and 
an eternal doom. He confessed, however, 
that he knew nothing of this great Hereafter, 
whose starry curtain all mortals are forbidden 
to undraw. But he clung with an infinite 
faith to the idea of immortality, and knew 
that he must soon unriddle the problem 
which it presents to us. 

As we returned to the front of the house, 
he pointed to the wooded hills in the east, 
where Hickleton Hall, the seat of Sir Charles 
Wood (present Chancellor of the Exchequer) 
was situated ; with Conisbro' Castle in the 
distance, all of them visible in clear weather. 
We then crossed the garden, and went to the 
back of the house, where we had a fine view 
of Houghton Common — with its gorse and 
bracken — whilst lines of dark trees fenced it 
on the right, and thick towering woods on 
the left. Descending the hill side, which 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 153 

was well planted with trees, we again entered 
the dell ; and the poet led me to a fish pond 
which he had laid down himself, and stocked 
with trout from the neighbouring streams. 
It was a cool and beautiful spot, like some 
quiet nook in the mythic vale of Tempe. 
The birds sang there all day ; and the pond 
itself was supplied by water which gushed 
in living streams out of the hill side. Elliott 
promised himself many happy hours in fish- 
ing and musing upon its banks. He had 
been a fisher in early life, and the statement 
of this fact, led naturally to Izaak Walton 
and his beautiful book on Angling, which 
contains, perhaps, the very best pastoral 
description in our language. I found that 
Elliott knew Walton by heart, and loved the 
fine old commonswealth-man, too, notwith- 
standing his loyalty to the king. All books, 
indeed, which were true reflexes of nature, 
were his delight. Hence the Howitts were 
his especial favourites, two of Nature's most 
beautiful children, whose lives were all sun- 
shine and poetry. He spoke of their mutual 
wanderings, and visits to remarkable places, 
as a rare and pleasant feature in the married 
life of literary people; and so inseparable 
were they, he said, in his mind, that he 



154 LIFE, CHAKACTEK, AND GENIUS 

always associated with their names the old 
William and Mary shillings.* 

When we returned to the house, we found 
Mrs. Elliott and her daughter waiting for us 
at the tea table. The little yellow canary 
was still singing, perched outside its cage; 
and the distant lowland landscape was be- 
ginning to darken in the blue twilight of 
evening, as we gazed upon it through the 
open casement. The room in which we were 
assembled was large and convenient, having 
the true household look about it, with none 
of the modern finery which marks the sitting 
rooms of the wealthy. There was the poet's 
library against the wall opposite the window, 

* It is but right to add here, that Elliott's opinion of 
the Howitts underwent considerable modification, after 
the unhappy dispute between "William Howitt, himself, 
and John Sanders, in the matter of the " People's 
Journal;" and he frequently expressed himself in no 
measured terms against what he called the " unfair 
statements " made by "W. H. respecting the easy manner 
in which he (Elliott) had made his fortune. (See the 
" Visit to Elliott " hi Howitt's " Homes and Haunts 
of the British Poets.") All that I can say here, from a 
personal knowledge of W. Howitt, is, that he is utterly 
incapable of falsehood or wilful misrepresentation, and 
must have misunderstood Elliott in the particular matter 
alluded to. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 155 

which, with his easy chair, and the wooden 
box wherein he kept his MSS., are now the 
most interesting of these household relics. 
The piano he did not look upon as a luxury, 
but as a necessary article, which ought to 
appertain to every home, even the poorest, 
and a deal box, instead of a mahogany case, 
to put the instrument in, would bring it, he 
said, within reach of the humblest means. 
Music was a great source of consolation to 
him, and often charmed him into forgetful- 
ness of his bodily pain. For music has a 
language of her own, and speaks to us of 
things which, as Jean Paul says, " in all our 
endless life we have not found, and shall not 
find." The best parlour was opposite to 
the one we were sitting in, and contained 
portraits of the poet, his wife, and children. 
That of Elliott himself is the best I have yet 
seen, although it is far from being a true 
representation of the man. It is singular, 
that all the attempts made by various art- 
ists to paint him upon canvass, have been 
unsuccessful. "William Howitt compliments 
Margaret Gillies upon the sketch she made 
of him, which appeared in the " People's 
Journal" during its palmy days, but it is a 
most comical failure, and reminds me of the 



156 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

following criticism which the poet passed 
upon four portraits of him in oil, which 
appeared in the first exhibition on behalf of 
the Sheffield Mechanics' Institute. "Taking 
them altogether, I could imagine them to 
represent four important scenes in the life of 
a Tailor : first, the tailor turned . gentleman ; 
second, the tailor going a picturesqueing ; 
third, the tailor seeking cabbage ; fourth, 
the tailor selecting his own grave." As I 
said, however, the portrait possessed by his 
family is the best I have seen. 

After tea we fell gradually into an earnest 
conversation upon the literature of the day. 
I have already spoken of his admiration of 
Byron, Keats, and other poets ; and in allud- 
ing to the Life of Keats, by R. Monckton 
Mimes* — which he thought a fine piece of 
biography on the whole, although rather too 
hasty in its finish — he said the death of 
Keats, as described by his friend Severne, 
was the most painful and deeply- affecting 
scene upon record. And, indeed, the world 
is deeply indebted to this true and beautiful 
brother, who, with the love of St. John in 

* Elliott thought very highly of E. M. Milnes, but 
said he was a lazy poet, aud too rich to do justice to his 
faculties. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 157 

his great and devoted heart, watched the 
poor dying poet — day after day — week after 
week, and never left him until the stern 
work of death was over. " Had Keats 
lived," said Elliott, " there is nothing which 
he might not have achieved in the way of 
poetry." It was remarked that the poem 
called " St. Agnes Eve," had no rival in our 
language as a picture of media3\ r al life ; that 
its feudal and religious architecture was per- 
fect, and that all the characters were as truly 
and faithfully drawn as those in the Romeo 
and Juliet of Shakspere, of which, indeed, it 
was a kind of episode. " But the Hyperion, 
sir," said Elliott, " what do you think of 
that ? " That it is a beautiful ruin, created 
and deserted by the gods. "Aye," he an- 
swered, " and what a ruin ! " He then read 
the following lines upon Keats, which are 
published in the first volume of his " More 
Prose and Verse, etc." 

" He lived, and loved ! He was a power 

That left its thought more felt than spoken : 

' A fading flower, a falling shower, 

A breaking wave '• — which now is broken. 

Can greatness die and be unborn ? 
It cannot thou in scorn repliest ; 



158 LIFE, CIIAEACTEK, AND GENIUS 

He perished in his scorn of scorn, 

And lowest deemed, of all was highest. 

A vapour quenched his visions grand ; 

Ah ! hope destroyed is worth's undoing ! 
He left the deathless deed he planned, 

A deed undone ! — And what a Euin ! " 

We then spoke of Scott and Tennyson, of 
Leigh Hunt, Charles Lamb, Philip Bailey, 
and Charles Reece Pemberton. Scott was his 
greatest favourite, and he quoted long pas- 
sages from " Marmion " and the " Lady of 
the Lake." " I envy Scott his narrative 
power in poetry," he said, " more than any 
other faculty he possesses. Nothing is more 
difficult than to tell a tale well in rhyme; 
and Scott has succeeded better than any one 
else. I have begun," he continued, " a nar- 
rative epic in twelve books, four of which are 
finished ; and each book is complete in itself. 
I will read it to you before you go, and you 
will then see, in my own failure, why I envy 
Scott." * I afterwards heard the poem in 

* Elliott was fond of depreciating his own powers, and 
I believe there was a good deal of egotism in the practice. 
He knew very well what he could do, and what his poetry 
was worth. He was, when he chose to be so, an excellent 
and judicious critic, both of his o'vn performances and 
those of others. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 150 

question, which is printed in his new vol- 
umes ; and I cannot understand why it has 
dropped silently from the press ; for it is a 
poem of great power and beauty, and con- 
tains passages superior to anything which 
Elliott had previously written. There is a 
little incongruity and indistinctness perhaps 
in some of the characters, but this is amply 
atoned for by the general skill of the narra- 
tive, and the harmony of its plan and details. 
There are one or two blots in it, however, 
of which he was duly warned by friendly 
critics ; and these consist in that love of the 
horrible, which, he says in his autobiography, 
haunted him so in his young days. I allude 
more particularly to the picture of the 
drowned woman who fell a victim to Lord 
Konig's lust — which occurs in the sixteenth 
section of the second book of this poem* — and 
which, in spite of the moral and poetical 
drapery thrown over it by the poet, is a 
loathsome and not a " beauteous horror.'" 
This was pointed out to him when he read 
it, and it was endeavoured to be shown that 
things horrible and repulsive in themselves 
were not fit subjects for poetry, and could 

* " Etheline," an epic in four books, each book complete 
in itself; printed in " More Prose and Verse, etc." 



160 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

not be elevated, even by tlie highest genius, 
into the region of human sympathy. He 
acknowledged the justice of this criticism, 
and promised to alter the passage, and I 
have no doubt would have done so, if death 
had not summoned him away so soon after 
this conversation. 

Elliott loved Tennyson for his pathos, and 
the courtly finish of his marvellous verse. 
He has caught a few echoes of the Marianne 
in a soliloquy which occurs in the opening 
of " Etheline ;" but Tennyson was too dreamy 
a poet to make much impression on the Corn 
Law- Rhymer, although he spoke of him with 
affection and reverence. Bailey's " Eestus ' : 
had a stronger hold of him; but he knew 
very well how to discriminate between a 
panorama of pictures and a poetic work of 
art. His admiration of " Pestus " was, 
therefore, limited to its glorious passages 
and wild flights of imagination, and to the 
lyrics scattered through its pages. He se- 
verely condemned the theological soliloquies 
which darken the last edition of this poem, 
and so painfully burden its action. "The 
book," he said, " wanted cutting down before 
in the first edition, and now it sprawls its 
unwieldy length to such an appalling extent, 



OF EBENEZEK ELLIOTT. 161 

that its many and manifest beauties will 
hardly save it from perishing." 

He spoke with great enthusiasm of Carlyle, 
and had a copy of "The French Revolution, 
a History," in his library. He was a long 
while before he knew what to make of that 
book ; but when he had grown familiar with 
its strange terminology, and could steer his 
way amid the endless pageants that swept 
in glaring colours past him upon that wild 
revolutionary ocean of blood and fire, he 
found it the most vivid and splendid of 
histories. He called it poetry in prose, and 
named Carlyle the Homer of his age. And 
then as he warmed in his eulogies, he rose 
from his seat, and advancing to the bookcase 
took down the first volume — the Bastille — ■ 
and said, " Now, sir, I will give you a scene 
from this book that would wring tears from 
marble." He then read, with a voice full of 
pathos, the following letter, signed Queret 
Demery, which was found in one of the cells 
of the Bastille, after its demolition by the 
populace : — 

" If, for my consolation, Monseigneur 
would grant me, for the sake of God, and 
the most Blessed Trinity, that I could have 
news of my dear wife, were it only her name 

p 2 



162 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

on a card, to show that she is alive ! it 
were the greatest consolation I could receive, 
and I should for ever bless the greatness of 
Monseigneur." 

" There, sir," he said, wiping away the 
tears which streamed down his furrowed 
cheeks, " that is the most painful and 
agonizing passage in the language. You see 
it has made a woman of me; and I should 
be a brute if I could not weep over such 
great, sad sufferings, such calm resignation 
in the midst of I know not how many years 
of despair, which only breaks silence at last 
in a touching, heart-breaking appeal to this 

d d Monseigneur, that it would please 

him to send the poor captive tidings of his 
dear wife, were it onlv ' her name on a card.' 
O God," he continued, " how dreadfully the 
wail of that poor, unknown, broken heart 
sounds in the ears of men for ever. Bless 
the greatness of Monseigneur ! " he added, 
walking fiercely up and down the room, 
" yes ! and pray, too, that hell might be hot 
enough for him ! God forgive these scoun- 
drels, sir, it is not in me !" 

Later in the evening he asked me if I had 
seen Emerson during his visit to this country, 
and when I replied that I had the honour to 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 1G3 

entertain him during the greater part of his 
stay in Huddersfield, he requested me to 
describe the man, and his hearing in social 
life. My great reverence for Emerson made 
me draw, perhaps, too partial a picture of 
him ; for the poet remarked, that such a high 
and impassable nature, with such simple and 
winning manners, rarely met together in so 
illustrious a person, and that he approached 
the ideal he had formed of the great Plato, 
lie had not read Emerson, however, and was 
only acquainted with him through extracts 
from his printed works, which he had seen 
in the periodicals of the day, and through 
the public reports of his lectures. If he had 
known more of him, he would have liked 
him less ; for the so called Transcendental 
Philosophy was to him a stumbling-block. 
He was too strongly tied with his natal-cord 
to the objective world to appreciate the 
speculations and inner revealings of the 
Massachusetts Philosopher ; although his 
mind was broad enough in its aesthetic and 
intellectual relations, and could grasp all the 
beauty of the universe, and resolve — in some 
fashion at least — not a few of the moral pro- 
blems which affect the destiny of the race. 
But beauty was not symbolical to him ; or at 



164 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

least, not in the same sense as it was to 
Shakspere, Plotinus, or Swedenborg. It 
was God's silent gospel, revealing God as tlie 
Beautiful ; and beauty was his divinest Idea. 
He did not see that beauty was fleeting and 
evanescent, the mere garment of the Invisible, 
behind which HE sat enthroned, whose are 
all the worlds. And because he could not 
pierce through the painted robes of thePhe- 
nominal, he never read the Divine Secrets, 
and could form, therefore, no conception of 
the " Ubi," or " Whereness," of Emerson. 
Still there was enough of the practical and 
homely in this author to recommend itself 
to the poet; and as the newspapers, which 
always cater for the mass, instinctively assi- 
milated such passages, as they were thrown 
off by the reviewers, Elliott's estimate of 
Emerson was formed almost exclusively upon 
them. He much regretted that neither 
Carlyle nor Emerson had visited him, espe- 
cially since they had both been in his 
neighbourhood. He was informed that Car- 
lyle had once set off with Monckton Milnes 
to visit him, but was detained on the way 
by some occurrence which had slipped the 
memory of the speaker ; and moreover, that 
Carlyle had asked many questions about him 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 165 

upon one or two occasions which were spe- 
cified ; and Elliott in his turn now asked for 
particulars respecting Carlyle. The conver- 
sation terminated by the poet expressing his 
deep regret that the opportunity alluded to 
was gone by for ever. For now, he said, we 
shall never meet, unless in heaven. 

I have previously given the general cha- 
racteristics of Elliott's conversational speech, 
but I find it impossible to do him justice in 
this respect. The poor fragments which I 
have rendered in these pages will give no 
idea of him, except to those who knew him 
personally (for they can vivify these broken 
sentences, by putting the fire of the mam 
into them) ; to all others they must be com- 
paratively lifeless. And this seems to be the 
fittest place to describe Elliott's personal 
appearance, not as he was when a young 
man, but at the time I am now speaking of. 
Most of his readers imagine him to have 
been a man of large proportions, a true son 
of the forge — broad-set, strong, and muscular 
as a Cyclop. But he was the reverse of all 
this. In stature he was not more than five 
feet six inches, of a slender make, and a 
bilious-nervous temperament. His hair was 
quite grey ; and his eyes, which were of 



1G6 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

a greyish blue, were surmounted by thick 
bushy brows, which looked like the thunder 
clouds of Jove. His forehead was not broad, 
but rather narrow ; and his head was small. 
There was great pugnacity in the mouth, 
especially when he was excited, but in repose 
it seemed to smile, more in consciousness of 
strength, however, than in sunny unconscious 
beauty. His nostrils were full of scorn; and 
his eyes — which were the true indices of his 
soul — literally smote you with fire, or beamed 
with kindness and affection, according to the 
mood he was in. In earnest debate, his 
whole face was lighted up, and became terri- 
ble and tragic. At such times he paced up 
and down the room with a firm foot, full of 
trampling scorn, and his words were whirl- 
winds. In gayer moments he would attempt 
comedy, and I have heard him recite passages 
from Molliere — who was a great favourite 
with him — until I scarcely knew whether to 
laugh or weep. For he had no comic faculty, 
and all his attempts that way were mere 
travestied tragedy. His voice was as musical 
as a lute, and capable of the deepest pathos. 
He was very fond of that fine old song by 
Burns, "Ye banks and braes o' bonny Doon," 
and during the evening I am now speaking 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 1G7 

of, he recited and sang it with great effect, 
notwithstanding his weakness. Fancy the 
grey old man, standing, during this perform- 
ance, behind his easy chair, dressed in a hlue 
frock-coat, a blue waistcoat, which came down 
to the hips, and a pair of blue trousers, for 
this was his ordinary attire, and he walked 
about his garden with a blue cap on. These 
facts are, to me at least, very interesting; 
and I think they are not without general 
interest. 

He had a great love for the Latin and 
Greek classics, which he read through Eng- 
lish translations. Homer, Hesiod, Sophocles, 
and Tacitus, were his chief favourites. He 
was well acquainted with " iEschylus," was 
keenly alive to its beauties, and was fond of 
comparing the different translations of this 
tragedy ; never failing to adopt the best 
renderings of particular lines. In a book 
called a "Monopoly graph," by Samuel Gower, 
a scholar and poet of Holmfirth, near Hud- 
dersfield, he found the following beautiful 
translation of one of the most difficult lines 
in this tragedy, which he was never weary 
of repeating. I will quote the passage ; 
and it is the last line to which I now 
allude : — ; 



1G8 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

PROMETHEUS (solus.) 

" Oh, thou divine and boundless atmosphere ! 
And you, ye swift-winged winds of heaven ; and thou 
Oh countless laughter of the salt-sea waves! " 

There can be no question that this is a great 
improvement npon the old translations — and 
that it is rendered in the true spirit of the 
original. 

I said that Elliott's prejudices were very 
strong, and will now relate an anecdote to 
illustrate this fact, although, indeed, such 
illustration is scarcely necessary. We had 
been speaking about mesmerism : and Mrs. 
Elliott, who had seen many experiments 
performed by Dr. Holland* of Sheffield, con- 
fessed her entire belief in this mysterious 
and occult science. The poet, however, was 
loud in his denunciations of it, and insisted 
that it was mere collusion and quackery. 
As this was a charge brought against many 
men whom I knew to have practised mes- 
merism, and whose characters were unim- 
peachable, I ventured to remonstrate with 
him, intimating at the same time that I had 

* O. C. Holland, Esq., M.D., of Sheffield, was an old 
and intimate friend of Elliott's — a poet, a scholar, and a 
man of considerable eminence in his profession. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 109 

proved the truth of mesmerism myself, in 
various cases, and at various times. " If 
that be the case," said Elliott, " you can 
mesmerize me. Come, sir, try your power ; 
and if you succeed I will believe in this 
infernal art." I was unwilling, however, 
to make the attempt, because I do not like 
playing at such a serious game ; but I told 
him I had no doubt I should succeed, in case 
I tried. He called this a subterfuge, and 
laughed at me with the merriest mockery ; 
literally crowing with exultation, and repeat - 
ing his challenge, as he paced up and down 
the room. At the request of his daughter 
and Mrs. Elliott, who were very anxious that 
he should be convinced, I at last accepted the 
challenge. Accordingly, the poet sat down 
in his chair, and the moment my hand came 
in contact with his head, he shrunk as if 
struck by a Voltaic Pile, uttered a deep sigh, 
fell back upon his chair, and all conscious- 
ness fled from him. I shall never forget my 
sensations at that moment, as I contemplated 
the pale and lifeless form of the poet — thus 
suddenly silenced — all the fire of his spirit 
quenched, and put out as if by the hand of 
Death. His daughter, however, became 
alarmed, and to relieve her I began to 

Q 



170 LIFE, CHABACTER, AND GENIUS 

clemesmerize him. He gradually roused 
himself, and when consciousness returned, 
he rubbed his eyes, started from his chair, 
and exclaimed, "What, have I been asleep ?" 
" Yes," was the triumphant reply of his 
daughter ; and Mrs. Elliott clapped her 
hands in chorus. The poet, however, was 
still dubious ; and would have it that he 
had fallen asleep from exhaustion. 

In religious matters it is difficult to say 
what he believed, and what he disbelieved. 
Like the great mass of literary men, he had 
no creed, properly so called, and no faith in 
sects or parties. Still he loved Christianity 
for the human beauty which pervades it, and 
the divine revelations which it unfolds to 
man. In one of his letters to a friend, 
already quoted, he says, " I am a Christian 
from conviction, and because I cannot help 
it." The same friend to whom this letter 
was written confesses himself much indebted 
to Elliott for removing his religious doubts, 
although the method adopted by the poet 
was strange, and quite alien to orthodox 
teaching. " Eor instance," says the party 
alluded to, " on my expressing a conjecture, 
or a hope, or a belief, of which he saw the 
absurdity, he would, by a single striking 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 171 

sentence, send a flash of conviction to my 
mind, which suddenly demolished my airy 
castles. He well knew that wholesale doubt 
led to enquiry, and enquiry to consistent and 
lasting faith. He seldom meddled with theo- 
logical views, and thought religion more a 
passion than a belief. The character, real 
works and doctrine of Christ, he maintained 
were only to be accounted for on the grounds 
of God's presence and power in Christ. 
Lastly, he had a strong faith in the immor- 
tality of the soul." Such is the account 
furnished me by this Sheffield friend; but 
it must be remembered that this is a remi- 
niscence of years long since passed away; 
and I have no means of knowing what were 
Elliott's latest convictions on these import- 
ant subjects. I will quote, however, a 
passage from one of his letters to me, dated 
September 11th, 1848, in which, speaking 
upon the availableness of prayer, he says : 
" Long, long ago, perhaps fifteen years, 
when food -taxing and much - mortgaged 
Chandos — who grieved to see anything eat- 
able escape his maw — had been accusing his 
victims of luxurious living, and want of 
forethought, I prayed aloud, in the presence 
of eight or ten thousand Sheffielders, in 



172 LIFE, CHATCACTEE, AND GENIUS 

Paradise Square assembled, ' that be might 
live to know what it is to be poor.' Though 
a murmured, yet sublime, 'Amen ! ' respond- 
ed to me, persons present, and afterwards 
persons not present, called me ' monster? 
with the saving clause, ' if not madman.'' 
But God heard my prayer. I then ought 
not to say that supplications addressed im- 
mediately to Him are useless. The following*, 
however, is my creed : The only true, because 
the only useful prayer, is that which human 
beings (after vainly doing their best for 
themselves) address to their fellow-creatures 
for assistance. And it justifies begging ! 
Unless desperate people are to be forced to 
that awful and sole remaining alternative, 
which they have just the same right to use 
that a drowning man has to catch at a 
straw." 

The best summary, however, of his reli- 
gious convictions is contained in the following 
poem : — 

EELIGIOK 

" ~Wn at is religion ? speak the truth in love, 
Reject no good : mend, if thou canst, tby lot. 
Doubting, enquire,— nor dictate till thou prove. 
Enjoy thy own — exceed not, trespass not. 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 173 

Pity the scorners of life's meanest thing. 

If wronged, forgive — that hate may lose his sting. 

Think, speak, work, get ; bestow, or wisely keep. 

So live, that thou may'st smile and no one weep. 

Be blessed — like birds that sing because they love. 

And bless — like rivers singing to the sun, 

Giving and taking blessings, as they run ; 

Or soft voiced showers, that cool the answering grove 

When cloudy wings are seen in heaven displayed, 

And blessings brighten o'er the freshened sod 

Till earth is like the countenance of God. 

This is Kelijnon ! saith the Bard of Trade." 



■a 



Ill the year 1818, I proposed to deliver a 
lecture upon his writings, and he furnished 
me with the following particulars, which, 
added to the sketch I have already drawn 
of his person and manners, will complete 
the picture. 

" You may say," he begins, " that there 
is nothing remarkable in Elliott's personal 
appearance, except, perhaps, his gentle man- 
ners. He has neither a shoulder like a leg 
of mutton, nor a hinder-end broader than a 
blacksmith's bellows. He is five feet seven 
inches high, and slimly rather than strongly 
made. His eyes are dim and pale; mostly 
kind in their expression, but sometimes wild. 
His features are harsh, but expressive, and 
not unpleasing. On the whole, he is just 

Q 2 



174 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

the man who, if unknown, would pass unno- 
ticed anywhere." 

This letter was written October 5th, 1848. 
and on the 7th of the same month, I received 
the following : — 

" What you have to say of me will not be 
complete without this addition, which you 
can use, or not : He is a politician and a 
poet. With his politics, you know, I have 
here nothing to do. Poets, you also know, 
are usually people who, having expressed in 
verse, thoughts not fit or not good enough 
for prose, get pensioned or die in the work- 
house. It is a real distinction to the Corn 
Law Rhymer, that in his grey hairs, and in 
the land of palaces and workhouses, he is 
not yet either a pauper or a pensioner. 
Tired, and comparatively poor, but self-sus- 
tained, like one who, after hard labour, 
reaches his home and rests, he sits on his 
own hill top." 

The first notice of serious illness we find 
in his letters is dated May, 1838. " I have 
been lately troubled," says he, writing to 
Mr. Tait, " with a disease which the doctors 
tell me is not dangerous, although it may 
become so, unless I remove some of the 
causes of it. It is a spasmodic affection of 



OF EBENEZEK ELLIOTT. 175 

the nerves, caused or exasperated by over- 
excitement of any kind, and particularly 
public speaking. Even lecturing, I am 
told, is injurious. I must, then, lecture 
no more." * 

" 21st December, 1839. — I am warned 
that I cannot speak at public meetings 
without great danger of sudden death. 
You are not aware, perhaps, that I have 
been for two years or more liable, after 
excitement of any kind, to dreadful breath- 
lcssness — a sensation of being hanged with- 
out a rope — resulting, I suppose, from a 
change at head-quarters. I have been 
better, however, since the great Chartist 
meeting here. When the hustings fell, 
something gave way in my left side, or 
rather towards it, as if two fingers had 
been thrust down it inside." 

* When Mr. Elliott became well known, lie lectured 
occasionally on poetry and other subjects. The following 
is his frank estimate of his own powers as a lecturer : — 
" Tou ask if I am eloquent ? Yes, when I have got the 
steam up. But I cannot manage details well, and 
consequently am not fit to lecture on the corn laws. I 
have more thoughts than words ; but I can condense 
long arguments into short phrases, and give, like a blow 
from a whip of fire, the result of thinking without the 
cold process." 



170 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

" Great Houghton, near Barnsley. — If you 
print this article, I will accept nothing for it. 
It is quite unworthy of the subject, and yet 
I have done my best. My mind is gone." 

This continued to torment him at intervals 
for six years, when a more serious complaint 
took its place. 

" Argilt Hill, near Barnsley, 9th May, 
1849. — Four years ago I had got rid of the 
breathlessness which often frightened me 
at Sheffield, and I thought I never was 
stronger; but I have since been two and a 
half years ill of a bowel complaint, suffering 
intense pain by day and night, except when 
dozed with laudanum. About a month ago 
the disease was discovered to be that of 
which Talma died — stricture of the great 
gut, threatening enclosure. For some days 
I have been rather better ; and if I recover, 
I shall certainly bestow my tediousness upon 
you in an Highland tour." 

" 19th September. — I have been for some 
months very, very ill." 

Here these letters stop suddenly ; and in 
little more than two months — that is, on the 
1st of December, 1849, the struggles of their 
writer, first with ignorance, then with for- 
tune, then with bread-tax, then with disease, 



OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT. 177 

touched and elevated throughout by gleams 
of poetry, and of pure, gentle, and beautiful 
feeling, terminated in death.* 

In conclusion, I will quote what the poet's 
son writes me respecting his father's last ill- 
ness : " He was troubled with acute internal 
pain of a fixed character. It was cancer of 
the rectum. By means of the strongest 
stimulants and opiates, his life was prolonged 
until the close of 18-19. Then his sufferings 
rapidly increased. The last month of his life 
Avas one of great torture, and equal fortitude ; 
and he died in the presence of his family 
early on the morning of the first of Decem- 
ber, and was buried, in great privacy, as he 
wished to be, in the churchyard of the beau- 
tiful little village of Darfield. The tower of 
the church can be seen from the windows of 
his house, and forms a distinguishing feature 
in a landscape that was dear to his eyes. 

" What can I say more ? Shall I tell you 
how beautifully, how poetically he watched 
the approach of death ? ' Francis,' he often 
said to me, ' I am to die ; and if I am to live 
in pain, I do not ask to live. I could have 

* The above passage, including the extracts from 
Elliott's letters, is quoted from a tract ou the poet, 
published by the Messrs. Chambers, of Edinburgh. 



178 LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 

wished to finish Eth-Kon-Tel (this was the 
name he had intended to give to a narrative 
poem, consisting of three narrative poems, 
each a part of the same story, and yet a 
complete story in itself, 'Etheline' heing the 
first of them) ; I die with my work undone 
— with my faculties undeveloped. I cannot 
help mourning over Eth-Kon-Tel.' He 
hastened the contemplated marriage of his 
daughter Eanny — his beloved daughter — 
whose name was her mother's, and desired 
to be buried in the church where she was 
married. On the wedding day he was sup- 
ported from the bed to the window, to see 
the return of the party from church. The 
fatigue was almost more than he was capable 
of bearing. ' My child,' he said to Eanny, 
* I feel so weak that an infant could fell me 
with a primrose.' He heard a robin singing 
one morning in the garden beneath his 
chamber window, and composed the lines I 
send you below, dictating them to me as 
lie lay upon his pillow. They are his last 
notes : — 

" ' Thy notes, sweet Robin, soft as dew, 
Heard soon or late, are dear to me ; 
To music I could bid adieu, 

But not to thee. 



OF EBENEZEE ELLIOTT. 179 

When from my eyes this lifeful throng 
Has passed away, no more to be ; 
Then Autumn's primrose, Kobin's song, 
Return to me.' " 

And thus in strains of gentle music did 
the spirit of our brave poet pass away for 
ever from the earth. Those who knew him 
best, loved him most ; and will feel for some 
time yet to come as if, in his death, " some 
great wrong " had been done to them. Time, 
however, will bring with it its own wisdom, 
and convert this private and apparent wrong 
into universal justice, which all shall see and 
acknowledge. In the meanwhile, let us be 
thankful for the rich legacy which the poet 
has left us in his songs, and for the example 
which he has set us of a life lived for a 
purpose. 



APPENDIX 






LIFE, CHARACTER, AND GENIUS 



OF 



EJ3ENEZER ELLIOTT. 



APPENDIX. 



Mr. Thomas Lister, the Barnslcy Poet, 
has sent me the letter and extracts which I 
print below ; and I am glad of an opportun- 
ity so favourable as the present to say a word 
or two respecting this excellent man, whom 
Elliott delighted to call his friend, and for 
whom I also have great respect and esteem. 
Mr. Lister was on terms of intimacy with 
the Corn Law Rhymer for upwards of 
fifteen years. During the last eight or 
nine years Mr. Lister was a frequent guest 
at Elliott's house ; for Barnsley and Hargate 
Hill are not more than seven or eight miles 
apart. It was my good fortune to visit 
Elliott — when I was first introduced to 
him — with Mr. Lister, and I recollect with 



184 APPENDIX. 

pleasure the beautiful drive we had through 
that richly-wooded country, and the many 
objects of interest which Lister pointed out 
to me on the way. When we arrived at 
Hargate Hill I was surprised to find Elliott 
a man of short stature, instead of the bulky 
Titan I had pictured him in imagination. 
The sound of our gig wheels in the court- 
yard brought him to the door. He was 
dressed in a complete suit of blue, and wore 
a blue cap, as I have described him in the 
third part of this memoir. He welcomed us 
with real hospitality, and as his serving-man 
was away from the house, lie fell to, with 
great dexterity, and began to unbuckle our 
harness himself. His wife and daughter 
received us in the hall, and ushered us into 
the sitting-room, where we spent a happy 
and memorable evening. I had been invited 
to spend a few days with the poet, and after 
Mr. Lister was gone, Elliott and I made a 
night of it. 

And now let me give a short sketch of 
Lister's life, in the words of a friendlv and 
competent critic : — 

" Our rustic Bard was lured by the charms 
of Nature, which luxuriate in his native 
valley, and by the trains of contemplation 



APPENDIX. 185 

to which existing events prompted him, to 
indulge in the sweet seducemcnts of Poesy, 
before he had acquired almost any acquaint- 
ance with the proudest and least perishable 
of her songs. Possessing but a slight know- 
ledge of the rules of composition, and still 
less of the laws which regulate the standard 
of taste — he has composed, chiefly whilst 
pursuing his daily toils in the open air, many 
productions which have found favour amongst 
those who know him, and have excited a 
warm interest throughout the country. 

" Some time after his ' warblmgs wild' had 
attracted the notice of his townsmen, and 
particularly of James Porter, Esq., of Park 
House, his warmest advocate and weightiest 
supporter, a vacancy occurred in the office of 
post-master, at Barnsley, his native town. 
The appointment of a successor rested with 
Lord Morpeth. His lordship, remembering 
the Yorkshire bard who had been introduced 
to him during the election for Yorkshire, 
generously nominated him to the office, and 
was seconded in his choice by the principal 
inhabitants of the town. But an insuperable 
obstacle prevented the fulfilment of his wishes 
— an oath was then, by law, required, previ- 
ous to an instalment in a government office. 

r 2 



18G APPENDIX. 

Though the contrast between the manage- 
ment of a horse and cart (which was then 
Lister's occupation) and that of a profitable 
situation, was greatly in favour of the latter, 
yet Lister could only fill this post by sacri- 
ficing his principle. He had been trained up 
under the eye of honest and revered parents 
in the principles of the Society of Friends, 
and hence his objection to taking an oath." 

I may add, that a very interesting corre- 
spondence took place between the young poet 
and Lord Morpeth upon this subject of the 
oath, which ended in mutual regrets on the 
part of the writers ; for as Lister could not 
violate his conscience by taking the required 
oath, neither could the noble and generous 
lord suspend the existing law in the objector's 
favour. Lister, therefore, lost the situation 
and kept his conscience, like a brave and 
truthful man. 

A subsequent alteration in the law enabled 
him, however, when the office became again 
vacant, to accept the appointment, which he 
still retains. The "warblings wild" alluded 
to in the previous extracts, were published 
in a volume called " The Puistic Wreath," 
and had a sale of upwards of 3,000 copies. 
Some of the poems are beautiful; and they 



APPENDIX. 187 

are all far above mediocrity. In character 
they are simple and descriptive, sometimes 
pathetic and humorous. The " Yorkshire 
Hirings " is full of fun, and hits off the 
provincial dialect in admirable style. Since 
his duties commenced as post-master, Mr. L. 
has written no more poems. He has devoted 
himself, however, to science and scientific 
pursuits, and is a good botanist, ornithologist, 
and geologist. If he would write a descrip- 
tion of his own neighbourhood, after the 
manner of " White's Natural History of Sel- 
bourne," (for which he is well qualified,) he 
would produce a book that would add consi- 
derably to his reputation, and give pleasure 
and instruction to all. 



THOMAS LISTER TO JANUARY SEARLE. 

" Post Office, Barnsley, i/h mo. 21st, 1850. 

"Dear Friend, 

" I was at Leeds yesterday, and was 
reminded (from certain matters which then transpired) 
of thy request to furnish a few particulars of the literary 
life of our lamented friend, Ehenczer Elliott. Although, 



188 APPENDIX. 

at the time, I had no intention of undertaking this duty, 
to any extent, partly from a cause which operates in hoth 
of us, though diversely — that is, a dread of taking up the 
pen for lengthy communications — and partly, hecause 
the experiences I had known of Elliott's literary life 
were too much connected with myself to be generally 
interesting, or even desuable to be made public ; yet, 
notwithstanding these objections, I had previously formed 
a resolve to collect, from my manifold reminiscences of 
the last fifteen years, a few choice souvenirs of my wan- 
derings, conversations, and correspondence with Elliott. 
That task has proceeded no farther than the opening 
step ; and I cannot answer for my morbid indolence — 
so far as writing is concerned — when I shall be able to 
bring it to a conclusion. I have seen nothing yet to 
satisfy me, either in delineations of the Life and character, 
or criticisms on the writings, recently ushered into the 
world, of this extraordinary man ; nor is it in my power 
to supply the desideratum. His 'More Prose and Verse ' 
was reviewed by The Examiner ; many of the poetic 
excellencies contained therein were ably pointed out ; 
but I differ greatly with them in their under estimate 
of his capability for prose composition ; witness the 
beauty and strength combined in his Lectures on the 
English Poets, three of which now appear in the second 
volume, just issued. This volume, The Spectator of 
yesterday reviews. I think the editor's discriminating 
notice of the merits and demerits of the poetry therein 
is just — even the severer portions thereof, which condemn 
the unreflecting manner in which everything, good, bad, 
or indifferent, that has proceeded from Elliott's pen 
for the last few years, — gleanings from ' Tait,' the 
Sheffield Papers, and innumerable periodicals — have been 
issued in these posthumous volumes. The critic supposes 



APPENDIX. 189 

the blame to rest with the over anxiety of survivors ; 
it was not so. Elliott's own deliberate will lias resolved, 
and his own uncontrolled act has accomplished, their 
publication ; every line was sent to the publisher before 
his death ; and it was only the last few proofs that his 
energy — scarce vanquished by the gripe of Death — failed 
to overlook. Even that coarseness, and virulence towards 
the landed gentry, manifested in his style, when those 
vexatious questions were touched, was adopted by him 
on principle. When I have contended the point with 
him, as to marring the beauty of a fine passage, or a 
whole poem, by some violent or unpoetic expression, he 
always had a reason to offer for such violation of the 
poetic proprieties. Take the following as an example 
of what I mean ; the passage occurs at the close of ' The 
Splendid Village : ' — 

" ' Path of the quiet fields, which oft, of yore, 
Led me at morn o'er Shenstone's page to pore ; 



Sweet, dewy, sunny, flowery footpath, thou 
Art gone for ever like the poor man's cow. 
No more the pious youth, with book in hand, 
Spelling the words he fain would understand, 
Shall bless thy mazes, while the evening bell 
Sounds o'er the valley, softened, up the dell. 
But, from the window of the loyal inn, 
The great unpaid, who cannot err or sin, 
Well pleased, shall see the pomp of Lawyer Eidge, 
And poor Squire Grub's stctrv'd maids and dandy bridge,' 
etc., etc. 

" Again, in that noble delineation of mountain grand- 
eur and desolate sterilitv — the scenery of which is 



190 APPENDIX. 

embodied in that picture of liiin which hangs in the 
parlour at Hargate Hill : — 

" ' I thank ye, billows of a granite sea, 

That the bribed plougb, defeated, halts below ; 

And thanks, majestic barrenness ! to thee, 

For one grim region, in a land of woe, 

Wliere tax-soivn wlieat, and paupers will not grow.' 

" To my objections as to having so rich a draught 
of pleasure so rudely dashed from my lips, he would 
reply, 'I always endeavour to use words which express 
my meaning. I wish to stir up indignation against 
Lawyer Eidge and Squire Grub.' Again, in the other 
passage, I name the ' bribed plough,' because it is so in 
effect ; and ' tax-sown wlieat ' because the land is ' sown 
in taxes.' 

" To this I should acquiesce in silence ; I could not 
gainsay the logic, whatever I might advance as to the 
poetry. But I by no means admit the supposition of 
The Spectator, that the cause of this coarse violence 
has been the narrowness of his education ; not intended 
by The Spectator to be considered as such, perhaps, 
as to book-learning, but with respect to a certain low 
provincial range of association and acquaintance, and a 
desire — manifest enough, The Spectator thinks, in his 
writings — to become the head of the company. To speak 
from what I know, I have almost always had the pleasure 
to meet him, when in company with minds of a superior 
stamp to the ordinary run of society. For instance — I 
met him first with Pemberton ; after one of the spirited 
delineations of Shakspere, given by the latter, in a 
manner that I have never seen excelled ; (and Pemberton 
was able to give two hours' talk after that effort) on which 



APPENDIX. 191 

occasion Elliott as well as myself" were the interested 
listeners of the company. On another occasion I have 
met him, with the same party and others, at the house 
of Thomas Asline Ward, Esq., of Sheffield — to whom, 
as The Man of the People, one of Elliott's poems is 
dedicated. I have met him also often with Mr. Stannus, 
an eloquent minister of the Unitarian persuasion ; with 
John Eowler, Hon. Secretary of the Sheffield Institute 
and editor of the 'Remains of C. R. Pemberton;' 
with Spencer T. Hall ; etc., etc. 

" Then there are the interviews and communications 
of our humble selves, with this inestimable bard; and, 
spite of The Spectator, we will not class ourselves either 
with the narrow or vulgar. In addition to all these, 
there are numerous distinguished men that Elliott, al 
home and abroad, has met and communicated with ; 
amongst others, Southey, to whom he gives the credit 
of having 'taught him the art of Poetry;' and Dr. 
Bowring, both of whom had a main hand in making his 
talents more widely known. Also Colonel Thompson 
and O'Connell, at great meetings, both in Manchester 
and London. Adams, (Junius Rendivivus,) who often 
visited him at Sheffield and Hargate Hill ; Montgomery 
and Gr. C. Holland, fellow-townsmen and co-labourers 
in the wide, pleasant fields of poesy : enough, amply 
so, to prove the superior class of his companionship. 
Then as to his ' seeking to be the head of the company,' 1 
the contrary was the case. Though he was civd and 
amiable to all, gentle and simple, that came across him, 
or with whom he came in contact, he rather shunned 
than sought company or public notice. To any conver- 
sation of interest he was always a willing listener, and 
never assumed to be the Oracle of the circle. On Corn 

Law and monied subjects we grant he was allowed to 



192 APPENDIX. 

discourse, ad libitum. In all my intercourse with him, I 
never observed in him an ungenerous action, nor heard — 
except of factions — an unkind word. My first interview, 
detailed in an accompanying extract, was followed by 
many others before he left Sheffield. I accompanied him 
to one or two sites in that neighbourhood, but he did not 
fix on one eligible as a residence. About ten years ago 
he bought, at great advantage, a plot of ten acres at 
Hargate Hill, on Houghton Common. He has since told 
me that more than the purchase money was soou made of 
the bark and a portion of the wood. I walked over with 
him to view the spot, through the vale of the Dearne, 
whose sylvan pastoral scenes delighted him greatly. 
There was nothing on the estate but a small cottage, 
which now forms the kitchen of the poet's house. At a 
second visit with him, J. Fowler, and other Sheffield 
friends, something in the way of planning the building 
and grounds was accomplished. The neighbouring 
farmers laughed at the idea of a comfortable spot and 
productive grounds being made on a mere 'fox cover,' 
and prophesied him a succession of plentiful crops of 
whins and brackens. Even his Sheffield friends augured 
great discomfort, almost approaching to starvation, in the 
probability that he would have everything to fetch from 
Barnsley ; and Fowler humorously remarked that he had 
better affix a board at the end of his house, inscribed, 
1 Ebenezer Elliott, Poet and Common Carrier.' What the 
result of his patient toils and well-executed plans prove, 
I need not say — it is a most delightful home for a retired 
poet,* and up to the last few weeks before his death, he 

* Siuee Elliott's death the estate lias been sold, and I am glad 
to say re-purchased, though at some disadvantage. I hope it will 
never go again out of the family. J. S- 



APPENDIX. 193 

busied himself with projects to make the grounds still 
more pleasant and picturesque. 

" I have made it a point to visit him at least once every 
season ; and many and delightful are the rambles we have 
taken in that richly-diversified locality, to which Ilowitt, 
with all his descriptive powers, has done nothing like 
justice in his unsatisfactory account of a visit to Elliott's 
abode. 

" New Park Spring conjoined to Lady Cross Wood ; 
the bold stretch of billowy woodland which his residence! 
commands ; with the Dearne Valley and wooded slopes 
beyond, on the Barnsley side, were frequently explored 
by us. The Lady Cross was pointed out by him amid 
these woods separating two domains. Then, in the 
opposite direction, was the delightful walk over the 
common, blossoming with gorse and broom, to Howell 
"Wood- — a walk thou wilt remember well, being taken on 
our memorable first visit. 

" At another time we should diverge by Howell Spring, 
a small fountained glen, abounding with the freshest and 
purest water, by Clayton-in-the-Clay — through Hooton 
Pagnell Park to AVatchley Crags, returning by Frickley 
Hall. Another rich and commanding scene was found 
in prolonging the route, over Houghton Common to 
Kirby Common, examining the sole remaining oak of the 
colossal couple, ' Adam and Eve,' one of which sheltered 
Nevison during his sojourn at Eingstone Hill. Then 
descending the elevated slopes, by Brierley Manor, we 
took the field path to Grimethorpe, and returned through 
Lady Cross Wood. In these rambles, Elliott's intense 
love for all natural objects was continually manifested, 
and his marvellous power of depicting them vividly. 
Though presuming on no scientific skill, he had consider- 
able knowledge of trees, flowers, and birds, by their 



194 APPENDIX. 

common names, and was always glad to increase liis stock 
of information from those who had gone more minutely 
into the various walks of natural history and science. 
To me the most interesting journey we took was in his 
small pony-gig through Thurnscoe, Bolton-on-Dearne, to 
Conishorough Castle. The spacious valley of the Don, 
(a rich alluvial bed lying between the magnesian lime- 
stone beds on the one hand, stretching in a bold 
continuous ridge from Hickleton Park to Sprot borough, 
and the first swell of the coal measures on the side of 
Conisborough and Dennaby) — the neat village of Conis- 
borough, where we dined, the frowning keep of the old 
Saxon Castle towering above town and river — and above 
all, the locality itself, stamped with the ineffaceable 
triumphs of Scott's genius, in his incomparable ' Ivanhoe,' 
made a permanent impression on Elliott's mind, though 
his years did not permit him to mount the keep with me, 
and enjoy the commanding scene from that elevation. 
Our return by the flourishing village of Wath-upon- 
Dearne, and Darfielcl, was an agreeable variation of our 
route. In one of the treasured scraps received from 
him, he says : — ' If I live till summer, I could like to 
revisit Conisborough with you. A result of our visit is 
a long poem, which I think my best. Edliugton Wood, 
I am told, is worth a visit.' The poem alluded to is 
' Etheline.' A loose remark of mine about the Don 
Valley appearing like the bed of an ancient lake, he told 
me, originated the conception of the poem. None of the 
newspaper critics, not even the local ones, admit any 
merit in this poem. I know none, with the fatal facility 
of the octosyllabic measux*e, of more sustained strength 
and beauty. On my last visit he spoke of his probable 
Biography, for which he has collected much matter. He 
had heard of the life of poor Keats, by E. M. Milnes — 



APPENDIX. 195 

fortunately, I had secured the work, and sent it — and the 
mode of allowing Keats's correspondence and writings to 
tell the tale of his life, met his approbation. 

" T. Lister." 

I subjoin the following extract froni Mr. 
Lister's note-book, for the year 1836 : — 

" I was first introduced to Elliott by Charles Pemberton, 
the graceful elocutionist, the fiery-souled patriot. Since 
that time, months elapsed without my seeing Elliott 
again. However, I took the privilege of kindred feeling, 
though low in its stamp, and made bold to visit him in 
his own abode. Our presuppositions of a person's cha- 
racter, from his works, are often fallacious ; one would 
hardly expect, from the bold and fiery spirit stamped on 
his writings, to meet a man of mild speech and urbane 
manners. But when his heart glows with his subject, 
especially in recitation, whether of his own impassioned 
lines, or the strains of some of those worthies whom he 
worships as stars of song, his features kindle into energy, 
his eyes, otherwise somewhat sunken and grey, glisten 
with rapture, and his voice assumes a rich and tuneful 
accent, characterizing expressly the subject on which his 
powers are awakened. One of his themes was ' Kibble- 
den,' or 'The Christening;' — Ribbleden being a small 
mountain stream, near Sheffield, tumbling down a darkly- 
shaded ravine, and falling into the Bivilin, after a short 
but beautiful and romantic course ; and he read the poem 
with great effect. I have seen Ribbleden, and other 
scenes celebrated in his poems, with the poet himself, and 
shall never forget it. His conversation on these occasions 
was fully equal to his best compositions. It was, in fact, 
a second edition of his poetry. His language does not 



196 APPENDIX. 

flow either in swift or copious streams, but always with 
precision and force, conveying solid enlightened senti- 
ments, strongly condensed, yet full and well defined, so 
that at this distance of time I can give a slight delineation 
of them. 

" Walking up Shirecliffe "Wood, where in a few 
moments, from the full glare of the town, we found 
ourselves as much shut out from the world as in the 
heart of the New Forest, these remarks fell from him ■ — 
' No one could have dreamed of a seclusion like this 
within bow-shot of the town. What a treat to the inha- 
bitants, did they but know it ! This scene is worth 
thousands of pounds to Sheffield. Money can be no 
equivalent for pure pleasures like these. Tou surely 
would not part with your present tastes and feelings foF 
a mine of wealth. I shall never forget the last time I 
came here with Charles R. Pemberton — that tree which 
overlooks the summit he climbed with as much agility as 
if the act were as familiar to him as walking is to us. 
He clasped the stem with his sinewy limbs, set his toil- 
strung muscles in motion, and went up like a man of 
wire. How the view delighted him ! I, too, have my 
predilections for the spot. It is the scene of my 
" Ranter." From that tree I made my observations of 
the bold striking scene around. I am attached to the 
place from the associated idea. I know not that the 
"Ranter" is my best poem, but it is the first that 
brought me into notice, and I am grateful to it on that 
account.' At another time the conversation turned on 
books most worthy to be read. ' Have you seen aught 
of Joanna Baillie's?' (No! I had no notion of her 
merits as a writer.) ' Oh ! sir, you should read " De 
Montford ; " it only wants a little to equal Shakspere, 
and that is almost as much as to say we have seen 



APPENDIX. 197 

another god. It wants originality though ; the leading 
idea, the plot of the story, is Southey's. Have you read 
any German work ? ' (No.) ' Well, you have a new 
country to open upon you. Read Schiller's " Wallen- 
stein," translated by Coleridge. Such an original, and 
such a translation ! Have you read any of Hazlitt ? ' 
(Only the choice specimens of him in 'Tait.') 'Not 
read Hazlitt, nor De Stiiel, nor Godwin, nor Schiller ! 
I wonder how you got your taste to the standard it now 
reaches, and that it is not narrow and grovelling. The 
reading of Hazlitt was an epoch to me.' 

The " Giaour" and " Scotch Nationality" 
I have not been able to procure a sight of, 
and am indebted to my friend Mr. John 
Fowler, of Sheffield, for the following ex- 
tract from the "Scotch Nationality," — a 
poem, I am told, which virulently attacked 
the Scotch character, and of which Mr. 
Elliott was so heartily ashamed in later times, 
that he bought up and destroyed all the copies 
that fell in his way. 

A DAT DREAM. 

" While keenly blew the biting North, 

He dream'd his spirit wander'd forth. 

# *- # # 

He seem'd to trudge beneath the pall 

Of darkness supernatural. 

The wind, that hurried sullenly, 

Not o'er, but through a starless ocean, 
(Like swift Time in Eternity,) 

s 2 



198 APPENDIX. 

Whisper' d aloue of life or motion ; 
And soon that wind, like one grown old, 
Expired — and all was gloom and cold. 
Long then he roam'd the realms of night, 

his only light, 
Which, glimmering pale on shadows, show'd 
That death had paved with ice the road ; 
And o'er a gulph of darkness lay- 
That narrow, strange, and dismal way. 
He seem'd to move, with hollow tread, 
O'er countless fragments of the dead, 
Tet could not trace 
Of limb or face ; 
No hone, no frozen winding-sheet, 

Crackled beneath his feet ; 
No sound was there, no flutter' d wing, 
No leaf, no form, no living thing, — 
No beating heart but his, — no air ; 
But cold that pierced the soul was there ; 
And horror which no tongue can tell, 
And silence insupportable. 
'Twas depth unplumed, 'twas gloom untrod, 
'Twas shuddering thought alone with God ! 
And on he went alone, — alone — 
And felt like life frozen into stone ; 
Or life, in earth and gloom laid low, 
With pangs untold, with speechless woe, 
With buried soul ; that living death, 
That direst life, which heaves no breath, 
Which would, but cannot, move or moan, 
Tet feels and bears, too weak to groan, 
(While the worm pauses, as in awe,) 
What life, unburied, hath not known, 
And e'en abhors, in thought, to bear. 



APPENDIX. 199 

His tears were frozen in his heart : 
He knew he was, but knew not where ; 

He felt he was a thing apart 
From all companionship, — a bird 
That wings th' eternal calm unheard ; 
On death's wide waste the conscious one ; 
A flag above the waves, with none 
To tell that ship and crew are gone ; 

A sad memorial, never read ; 
A meteor in the eyeless gloom ; 

A blind, endanger' d wretch, unled, 
Who would bave flown on the lightning's wing 
To clasp earth's foulest living thing. 

He fear'd no worse, but cursed his doom, 
And mutter'd, in his dreary mood, 
' There is no hell but solitude ! * ' " 

As a specimen of Elliott's prose composi- 
tion I subjoin the following passage from his 
printed lectures, upon — 

COWPER AND BURNS. 

" I must now conclude, with a few observations on the 
lives and characters of the two great founders of the 
Modern School of Poetry. Perhaps no falsehood has 
been more frequently repeated than that men of genius 
are less fortunate and less virtuous than other men ; but 
the obvious truth that they who attempt little are less 
liable to failure than they who attempt much, will account 
for the proverbial good luck of fools. In our estimate of 
the sorrows and failings of literary men, we forget that 
sorrow is the common lot ; we forget, too, that the mis- 

* Several of the ideas, and some of the couplets of this fragment 
are woven into his last poem, " Etheline." 



200 APPENDIX. 

fortunes and the errors of men of genius are recorded ; 
and that, although their virtues may be utterly forgotten, 
their minutest faults will be sure to find zealous histo- 
rians. And this is as it should be. Let the dead instruct 
us. But slanderers blame, in individuals, what belongs 
to the species. ' We women,' says Clytemnestra, iu 
'JEschylus,' when meditating the murder of her hus- 
band, and in reply to an attendant who was praising the 
gentleness of the sex, ' We women are — what we are.' 
So is it with us all. Then, let every fault of men of 
genius be known ; but let not hypocrisy come with a 
sponge, and wipe away their virtues. 

" Of the misfortunes of Cowper we have all heard, and 
certainly he was unfortunate, for he was liable to fits of 
insanity. But it might be said of him that he was tended 
through life by weeping angels. Warm-hearted friends 
watched and guarded him with intense and unwearied 
solicitude ; the kindest-hearted of the softer sex, the best 
of the best, seem to have been born only to anticipate 
his wants. A glance at the world will show us that his 
fate, though sad, was not saddest ; for how many madmen 
are there, and how many men still more unfortunate than 
madmen, who have no living creature to aid, or soothe, or 
pity them ! Think of Mdton — ' blind among enemies ! ' 

" But the saddest incident in the life of Cowper 
remains to be told. In his latter days he was pensioned 
by the crown — a misfortune which I can forgive to him, 
but not to destiny. It is consoling to think that he was 
not long conscious of his degradation after the cruel 
kindness was inflicted on him. But why did not his 
friends — if weary of sustaining their kinsman stricken 
by the arrows of the Almighty, suffer him to perish in a 
beggar 's madhouse ? Would he had died in a ditch rather 
than this shadow had darkened over his grave ! Burns 



APPENDIX. 201 

was more fortunate in his death than Cowper ; he lived 
self-supported to the end. Glorious -hearted Burns! 
Noble but unfortunate Cowper ! 

" Burns was one of the few poets fit to he seen. It 
has been asserted that genius is a disease — the malady of 
physical inferiority. It is certain that we have heard of 
Pope, the hunchback ; of Scott and Byron, the cripples ; 
of the epileptic Julius Ca?sar, who, it is said, never 
planned a great battle without going into fits ; and of 
Napoleon, whom a few years of trouble killed : whilst 
Cobbett (a man of talent, not of genius) would have 
melted St. Helena, rather than have given up the ghost 
with a full belly. If Pope could have leaped over five- 
barred gates, he probably would not have written his 
inimitable sofa-and-lap-dog poetry ; but it does not follow 
that he would not have written the ' Essay on Man:' and 
they who assert that genius is a physical disease, should 
remember, that as true critics are more rare than true 
poets (we have only one in our language, "William Hazlitt,) 
so very tall and complete men are as rare as genius itself, 
a fact well known to persons who have the appointment 
of constables. And if it be undeniable that God wastes 
nothing, and that we, therefore, perhaps seldom find a 
gigantic body combined with a soul of iEolian tones ; it 
is equally undeniable that Burns was an exception to the 
rule — a man of genius, tall, strong, and handsome, as 
any man that could be picked out of a thousand at a 
country fair. 

" But he was unfortunate we are told. Unfortunate ! 
He was a tow-hackler who cleared six hundred pounds by 
the sale of his poems, of which sum he left two hundred 
pounds behind him, in the hands of his brother Gilbert ; 
two facts which prove that he could neither be so unfor- 
tunate, nor so imprudent, as we are told he was." 



202 APPENDIX. 

The following is a fair specimen of Elliott's 
power and style as a speaker, and shows how 
thoroughly practical he was, and what a keen 
eye he had in business transactions : — 

" Mb. Chairman and Gentlemen. — Here is another 
Dead Stock to sell, for the benefit of the vendors ! But 
if a majority of you are not canal proprietors, in the 
name of all creeping things, why are we to buy these 
dead ditches ? And if we are to deal in dead things, 
why are we to deal in dead canals only ? Why not buy 
dead road-coach-and-cart interests ? Plenty of them can 
be had dog cheap, and worth nothing ; capital bargains, 
as railway bargains go. I know a carrier whose interest 
might be bought for ten pounds, and he has a better 
claim on our charity than these canal gentlemen. If you 
commit one great stock error, you will never divide a 
shilling out of profits. Be cautious, then, for this motion 
is a trap — not, I hope, set by your directors, but for 
them ; it is a trap, laid by a broken-down whale to catch 
railway gudgeons. It is founded on the assumption, that 
River Dun shares, which cost originally one hundred 
pounds per share, are worth one hundred and twenty 
pounds per annum per share for ever. For ever, mind ! 
Now £120 is the interest of £3000 at 4 per cent. Then 
it is clear as figures can show it, that we are to give 
£3000 per share for Eiver Dun shares, which is £500 
per share more than they were ever worth, and I believe 
thirty times as much as they would sell for if offered to 
the market in mass, as they are offered to you — supposing 
that they would sell at all in that way, which I don't • 
believe. Well, out of what are you to pay this £120 
per share per annum ? Not out of one penny per ton 



APPENDIX. 203 

per mile, freight and dues, for that will barely pay canal 
expenses, and railways can carry profitably at a halfpenny. 
Then you are to pay it out of the profits of your main 
line, and literally throw £100,000 away. But how do 
you know that you will have any profits ? Your direc- 
tors cannot be very sanguine on that point, if they are 
putting off the evil day, by paying dividends out of 
capital. But even if we were idiotic enough to enter 
into this partnership with the dead-alive on any terms, 
why are we to run all risks, and they none ? Beware 
how jou place yourselves in the position of parties, who 
out of their ultimate 3 or 4 per cent, will have to pay 
the deficits of their amalgamations, guaranteed at 6, 8, 
10, and 12| per cent., and yet by no means so prepos- 
terously guaranteed as your directors now propose that 
you shall guarantee the Biver Dun Co. If the Railway 
King himself, who will bite anything like bait, will take 
this bare hook, he ought to be called Gudgeon the Great. 
Don't buy a horse-laugh too dear. We are laughed at 
in all directions ; in every train persons are shaking their 
sides at this expected hooking of railway gudgeons. A 
great fat fellow from near Bolton was laughing at us 
through his very guts this morning — and he shook mine ! 
for mine are not so well lined as he intends his to be, if 
you pass this motion : he is a Biver Dun shareholder. 
You may laugh ; some people laugh at funerals — the 
winners, I mean ; but don't you give a splendid funeral 
to a dead interest, if the residt is to be beggary and a 
parish coffin for your own. The proposal is monstrous ; 
monstrously characteristic of the brazen modesty of the 
parties making it ; and until it was made, I did not know 
that even their brass could bear so black a polish. Whom 
are we to enrich with our hard-earned savings ? Men 
who are supporting the cause of the destruction of their 



204 APPENDIX. 

own property — and thus rush into railway speculation a 
hundred years before the time, by leaving nothing else to 
rush into ? Look at their prospectus. Why, with one 
noble exception, there is hardly a man on the list who is 
not either a landowner and monopolist through bone and 
marrow, or a River Dun shareholder. Is it for such 
people that we have been toiling all our lives ? I thought 
I had been toiling to keep the oppressor's foot from my 
neck, his greedy mouth from my children's trenchers. 
And what is this Dun and Coal Railway to pay, if made ? 
Nothing to the good faith of shareholders ; three thousand 
per cent, to the setters of the trap ! Why, they are 
getting out, as shareholders, though they believe you to 
be stark mad. To be sure, the guarantee of madmen 
cannot be worth much. And mad indeed you are, if you 
are prepared to pass this motion. If it pass, you wdl 
see your shares at £50.* If it pass, I can have no faith 
in public bodies; for I must conclude that they can be 
led wrong at any time, by any party who will take the 
trouble.f " 

Allusion is made more than once in these 
memoirs to the ballad called " Devil Byron," 
and to the tradition upon which it is 
founded. I transcribe it here, therefore, for 
the benefit of the reader, who, if I mistake 
not, will agree with me in thinking it one 
of the most extraordinary poems in our 
language. 

* They were then at £117. They are now (September, 1819,) 
at £25. 

f He got seven votes, out of about three hundred. 



APPEND1A. 205 

DEVIL BYKON. 

A BALLAD.* 

* " A strange man own'd } r on Abbey once, 

Men call'd him Devil Byron ; 
Yet he a sister had who loved 

Well that man of iron. 

And well he loved that sister — Love 
Is strong in rugged bosoms ; 

* " I had the facts on which this ballad is founded from 
Luke Adams, an old forgeman, who had worked many years, when 
young, in a small Charcoal Bloomery near Newstead Abbey ; but I 
have not adhered strictly to his narrative. The words uttered by 
the lady were ' Speak to me, my lord ! ' uttering which words, she 
was often seen on horseback, accompanying her brother in his 
drives. The character which Luke Adams gave me of the old lord 
of Newstead differs from the received and accredited one. Ho 
seems to have been rather a kind man. His rich neighbours 
sneered at him because he was poor, and hated him because the 
poor loved him. Never was it said of Devil Byron that he prose- 
cuted any one for killing God's hares ; but Chaworth was a strict 
game-preserver. The duel, however, was not caused by disputes 
about game alone. Chaworth was in the habit of calling Byron 
'A poor little lord! ' his lordship being not only poor, but of low 
stature. My informant was himself a character. It is still told of 
him, that when he became too old to work, and retired to a quiet 
place, there to live on his club-money, (which he received from two 
or three clubs,) he could not sleep out of the sound of the Hasbro' 
forge-hammer ! He lost his sight, at last, but still found his way 
to my house on the Saturdays, when he knew my boys were not at 
school, bringing gingerbread for them ; and was never satisfied till 
they took it out of his pocket — a smile passing over his rough face, 
as he felt the touch of their hands." 

T 



206 APPENDIX. 

E'en as the barren-seeming bough 

Off hoards richest blossoms. 

Yet from his heart, when she espoused 

A peasant, he dismiss'd her ; 
And thenceforth Devil Byron spoke 
Never, to his sister. 

Therefore, whene'er he drove abroad, 

She chased the Man of iron, 
Rode by his wheels, and riding cried, 

' Speak to me, Lord Byron ! ' 

Thus, at his chariot's side, she pray'd; 

For was he not her brother ? 
' Do speak to me, my lord ! ' she said ; 
"Was he not her brother ? 

Her quiv'ring hand, her voice, her looks, 

Might wring soft speech from iron ; 
But he speaks not ! — her heart will break : 
He is Devil Byron. 

Yet down his cheeks tears shoot, like had ; 

Then, speak, thou Angel's brother! 
"Why struggle, in thy burning soul 

"Wordless fire to smother ? 

Oh, Power is cruel ! — "Wilful Man ! 

Why kill thy helpless sister ? 
Belent ! repent ! already, lo, 

Beauteous blight hath kiss'd her! 



APPENDIX. 207 

Men say, a spectre with thee walks, 

And will not from thee sever ; 
A shadow — not, alas ! thy own ! 

Pointing at thee ever. 

Oh think of Chaworth rashly slain, 

And wrath, too late repenting ! 
Think of the kiss men give the dead ! 
Vainly, then, relenting. 

Think of thy sister's mother's grave; 
Think of your days of childhood — 
The little hands in fondness join'd, 

Wandering through the wild-wood. 

The hedgerose, then, was not so fair 

As she, in gladness ranging ; 
Now, sorrowful as beautiful ; 

Changed, and sadly changing! 

The wither' d hand, the failing voice, 

Moved they the Man of iron ? 
The live rose took the dead one's hue : 
God, forgive thee, Byron ! 

As rainbow fades, she perish'd. Then, 

How fared the stubborn-hearted ? 
With her, the wrong'd and lost, he lived — 
Never to be parted. 

The Abbot's garden well he liked, 
But there a shape was sighing ; 
There in each pale, reproaehful flower, 
Sinless love seem'd dying. 



208 APPENDIX. 

The bird that on the belfry wail'd, 

It all her tones did borrow ; 
The shadows in his banquet-hall 

"Wore her brow of sorrow. 

Where'er he went, she with him went — 

Alas, thou stubborn-hearted ! 
The grey old Abbey's gloom did groan, 
' Life and Death be parted ! ' 

He wish'd, but did not pray, for death — 

Pray, pray, thou Heart of iron ! 
Dying he heard her heart's last pray'r, 
' Speak to me, Lord Byron.' 

Dying, he saw her dying face ; 
And as with poison' d lashes, 
Its look'd forgiveness, its slow smile, 
Smote him — He is ashes. 

Well sleep the dead ; in holy ground 

Well sleeps the Heart of irou ; 
The worm that pares his sister's cheek, 
What cares it for Byron ? 

Yet when her night of death comes round, 

They ride and drive together, 
And ever when they drive and ride, 
Wilful is the weather. 

On mighty winds, in spectre-coach, 

Fast speeds the Heart of iron ; 
On spectre-steed, the spectre-dame — 
Side by side with Byron. 



APPENDIX. 209 

Tlie winds they blow rain, sleet, and snow, 

To welcome Devil Byron ; 
Through sleet and snow the hail doth go, 
Ripped — like shot of iron. 

A star ? Tis gone. The moon ? How fast 

She hurries through wild weather! 
The coach and steed chase moon and star, 
Lost and seen together. 



'6' 



* Halloo !' — The slain hath left his grave ! 

He knows thee, Heart of iron ! 
And with a laugh that dafts hellfire, 
Hails thy sister, Byron i 

"Which is most sad of saddest things ? 

The laughter ? or the weeping ? 
Laughs Chaworth, while her Feast of Sighs 
Love-in-Death is keeping ? 

Thou ghastly thing ! thou mockery 

Of life, and human doings ! 
"With flame-like eyes, on shadows fix'd! 
Shadows which are ruins ! 

Thou see'st but sadness in her smile, 

And pity in her sadness, 
And in her slander' d innocence 

Pain, that once was gladness. 

And canst thou — while Night groans — do less 

Than weep for injured woman ? 
Man ! is thy manhood manliness ? 
Is she not a woman ? 



210 APPENDIX. 

Oh, Night doth love her ! oh, the clouds 

They do her form environ ! 
The lightning weeps — it hears her sob, 

' Speak to me, Lord Byron ! ' 

On winds, on clouds, they ride, they drive- 

Oh, hark, thou Heart of iron ! 
The thunder whispers moiirnfully, 

' Speak to her, Lord Byron ! ' 

• 
My God ! thy judgments dreadful are 

When thought its vengeance wreaketh, 
And mute reproach is agony : 

Now, thy thunder speaketh ! 

He doth not speak ! he cannot speak ; 

Then, break, thou Heart of iron ! 
It cannot break ! it cannot break ! 
I can weep for Byron. 

The uttered word is oft a sin, 

Its stain oft' everlasting ; 
But, oh, that saddest unsaid word ; 

Its dumb guilt is blasting ! 

Eternity, the ever young 

Hath, with fixed hand, recorded 
The speechless deed unspeakable ; 
Ne'er to be unworded ! 

Oh, write it, then, ' in weeping blood,' 

Te purified and thwarted ! 
Oh, House of Brokenheartedness ! 

Spare the broken-hearted. 



APPENDIX. 211 

TeJl not the fallen that he fell, 

The foil'cl that there are winners, 
If He, whose name is Purity, 

Died, to ransom sinners. 

No, spare the wronger and the wrong' d, 

Oh, ye, who wrongs inherit ! 
' A wounded spirit who can bear ? ' 
Soothe the erring spirit ! 

He, earning least, and taking most, 
May love the wrong in blindness, 
Not needing less, but all the more, 

Pity, help, and kindness." 



REMARKS UPON ELLIOTTS POETRY, 



A XT. 



Jlemorantm of t\)t $oet* 



EEMAEKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETEY, 



AND 



MEMORANDA OE THE POET 



BY THOMAS LISTER. 



The heads of this discourse may be thus 
stated: The descriptive beauty and earnest- 
ness of Elliott's poetic genius, combining 
poetry with painting — with music — descrip- 
tion with sentiment : The poet and philan- 
thropist — the poet and seer. 

" By the term ' poetry with painting ' we do not 
necessarily understand that Elliott was a man who drew 
pictures by the aid of pencils and colours, but that the 
arts of design, the grouping and colouring of objects, 
were matters of earnest study to him ; and that clear 
and vivid representation of all objects in nature coming 
within the reach of his vision, in a series of word paint- 
ings, were the residt. My first walk with him on the 
banks of the Don, under Shirecliffe Wood, illustrated 



216 REMAKES UPON ELLIOTT'S POETRY, 

the close attention he paid to such matters : ' Observe,' 
said he, ' the effect of the light on the water, as we stand 
on a level with it — it is like the gleaming of heated steel ; 
I have not seen that effect in any painting.' Having 
crossed the river, and ascended the opposite hill, he said, 
' Now look at the water.' I observed it was a beautiful 
blue. 'Do you perceive the cause of the change?' I 
not answering, he pointed upwards: 'It is the blue of 
the sky imaged down on the water — that is reflection; 
you have the light from above. Before, when on the 
same level, it was refraction.' 

" "When I accompanied him the first time to view the 
plot of ground on which he fixed his residence, we walked 
down the Yale of Dearne, by Storr Mill to Houghton 
Common, and he enlivened the way by producing a series 
of mental pictures. The substance of his conversation is 
permanently impressed on my mind, so that in default of 
any written memoranda I may hope faintly to recal it, 
though I cannot give the rich and varied tones of the 
voice, nor the soul that animated it. In the meadow 
path over Grange Bridge, looking at the ruins of Monk 
Bretton Priory and Lunn Wood beyond, he remarked, 
• What a lovely subject for a sketch. Let us make our 
own landscape, and be our own artists. Lf you want to 
make a picture, place your arms thus ; ' extending his 
arms, and bringing the hands in contact before his head, 
' here is my picture-frame and the picture in it. That 
further bank of the stream, with its shady trees, its 
variously coloured herbs and flowers, with the group of 
cattle in the meadow above it, shall be my foreground- 
that venerable ivy-clad ruin, and the old farm buildings, 
form the middle ground — and yon bold leafy wood, with 
those rich pastoral eminences, make as fine a background 
as could be wished.' Nor was he less happy in designing 



AND MEMORANDA OF TIIE POET. 217 

pictures on a smaller scale. A little further, in one of 
those beautiful windings of the stream, he thus attracted 
my attention : — ' Observe that group of calves and young 
heifers, with their heads over a rail stretching across the 
bed of the stream, how picturesque they look, and how 
tranquilly they enjoy their retreat under the shade of 
those old trees. Many a painter would give his ears for 
such a subject.' The trunk of an old tree, mottled finely 
with lichens and mosses, having a wreck of shattered 
boughs above adorned with ivy, was pointed out as another 
delightful subject. This trunk, which was in the bed of 
the stream at the lower end of Sunny Bank Wood, has 
since been swept away by some of the floods frequently 
occurring in the Dearne. ' Here is a striking illustration 
of the laws of light and shade,' said he, directing my atten- 
tion to a bank by Oscar Wood, which was principally in 
the shade ; ' observe that thistle, with a bee feeding on the 
topmost flower, how richly they stand out in the light, 
every object around them in the shade. How the minute 
and the vast, the near and the remote, are here blended ; 
and what is the connecting link ? that straggling sunbeam 
escaping from the interstices of those cloud masses brings 
light from yon glorious orb millions of miles, to gild the 
humble flower and the feeding bee. That illustrates 
what I have sometimes told you of the faculty of ima- 
gination as distinct from fancy — its uniting, expanding 
power, and its tendency to the infinite. I like this valley 
of yours ; it is a perfect sylvan retirement ; it has not 
the grand features of our Don Valley under the Old Park 
Wood, but it has a sweeter character of its own — of 
beauty in repose.' 

" There is ground for the application of the term 
' painter,' in its literal sense, to Elliott. After his mind 
had been awakened to the study of flowers— a taste by 

U 



218 REMARKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETRY : 



which lie said he was lifted above the inmates of the 
alehouse a foot in mental stature, — he practised a little 
the art of painting landscapes in oil. One of the greatest 
treasures to me, in his library, was the noble work of 
Sowerby, giving, to the very life, coloured representations 
of all our British plants. c I am proud of that work,' he 
said, ' it made a poet of me — my aunt showed me how to 
draw the figures exactly by holding the plates, with a 
piece of thin paper before them, to the pane — it acted 
like a charm, and lead me to the fields and woods to 
search out these floral treasures. It was the turning 
point of my life, which decided whether I was to be a 
man or a malt swill ! ' It is abundantly manifest that 
he not only possessed the faculty, but that he frequently 
introduced the very terms of the painter. The first 
example I give, to exemplify this, is extracted from a 
poem called ' The Tear of Seeds,' which appeared in his 
last publication : * — 

" ' Art thou a colourist ? Mark how yon reel 
Poppy, and that bright patch of yellow bloom, 
Cliff-borne above green depths and purply gloom, 
Like spark and blaze on smiling darkness shed, 
Give and take beauty ! Mark, too, over head, 
How the rich verdure of this ancient tree, 
And the deep purple of the bank agree 
To thrive in partnership ! And while the bed 
Of the clear stream, through tints of every hue, 
Lifts its bathed pebbles, lo ! to brighten all, 
The little harebell brings its bit of blue, 
And is a gainer ; happy to behold 
Red blessing green, and purple gilding gold, — 
Of light and shade a marriage festival ! ' 

" Again, what exquisite colouring, what knowledge of 
* " More Prose and Verse," by the Corn Law Rhymer. 



AND MEMORANDA OF THE POET. 210 

light and shade, of the effect of trees and flowers growing 
over a stream, viewed in their natural position, and in 
their reflected aspect in the water, are manifest in these 
portions of his tribute to Burns : — 

" ' Be proud man-childed Scotland ! 

Of earth's unpolish'd gem, 
And bonny Doon, and Heaven aboon, 

For Burns has hallow' d them. 
Be proud, though sin dishonour'd 

And grief baptized thy child, 
As rivers run, in shade and sun, 

He ran his courses wild. 
Grieve not though savage forests 

Look'd grimly on the wave, 
Where dim-eyed flowers, and shaded bowers, 

Seemed living in the grave,' etc. 

" The principles of the art of painting are not only 
developed in those parts of his writings which a fanciful 
judgment might arrange under this head — they pervade 
his whole poetry, in a greater degree in some poems than 
in others ; and here I will endeavour, by an easy transi- 
tion, to pass to my next division, and to connect paint- 
ing by ' links of sweetness ' with the sister art of 
music. With this view I will quote ' Lines written after 
seeing at Mr. J. Heppenstall's, of Upperthorpe, near 
Sheffield, the plates of Audubon's birds of America.' 

" c Painting is sdent music, so said one 
Whose prose was sweetest painting,' etc. 

" Poetry with Music. The expression may seem unne- 
cessary because obvious, as all true poetry should have 
music as one of its constituents ; but how different in the 
notes themselves and their variations ! I do not apply 
this phrase to Elliott solely on account of the melody or 
rhythm of his verses, for in this, as in the admirable 



220 REMARKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETKY, 

adaptation of the words to the thoughts, Coleridge, 
Tennyson, and many others in then lyrical writings, 
might well vie with him. But with Coleridge and 
Tennyson there is more of the melody of the inner soul, 
than that conquest of the elements of harmonious ex- 
pression in external nature which Elliott has effected. 
From the gentle to the terrible all sounds in nature 
are made in unison with his spirit — from the gushing 
spring to the bursting torrent ; from the whispering of 
the summer woods and the carols of their feathered 
inmates, to the struggle of the elements in their wrath; 
amid the groaning forest or lightning-shattered peak, he 
feels ever at home. I need but evidence one instance of 
the gentle and one of the stormy character, calling to 
your attention, as in the case of painting, how the very 
language of the art, as well as the spirit of music, mingle 
in his vivid descriptions : — 

RIBBLEDIN; OR, THE CHRISTENING* 

" ' No name hast thou, lone streamlet, 

That marriest Rivelin ; 
Here, if a bard may christen thee, 

I call thee Ribbledin. 
Here, where first murmuring from thine urn, 

Thy voice deep joy expresses, 
And down the rocks like music flows 

The wildness of thy tresses. 

* Mr. Wm. Howitt, in his beautiful book upon the "Homes 
and Haunts of the British Poets," bas the following passage upon 
the valley of the Rivelin : — " Our next visit was to the valley of 
the Rivelin, so often named in Elliott's poetry. The Rivelin is one 
of the five rivers that run from tbe moorland hills and join near 
Sheffield ; and the scenery is very peculiar, from the singular fea- 
tures which art and trade have added to those of nature. The 



AND MEMORANDA OF THE POET. 221 

Dim world of weeping mosses ! 

A hundred years ago, 
Yon hoary-headed holly tree 

Beheld thy streamlet flow ; 
See how he bends him down to hear 

The tune that ceases never ! 
Old as the rocks, wild stream, he seems, 

While thou art young for ever. 



river is one of those streams which show their mountain origin by 
their rapid flow over their rugged beds, scattered with masses of 
stone. It has a tinge of the peat moss, and is overhung by woods 
and alternate steep banks of saudstone rock, clothed with the 
bilberry plant. But what gives it, to a stranger, the most striking 
character, are the forges and grinding-wheels, as they call them, 
scattered along them. Formerly these stood chiefly out amongst 
the neighbouring hills, being turned by the streams that descend 
from them, and you still find them in all the neighbouring valleys, 
the rivulets and rivers which run along them being damned up into 
a chain of ponds, which give a peculiar character to the scene. 
These ponds look dark brown, as from the rust of iron, which is 
ground oft' with the water, and are generally flanked by dark alders, 
or are overhung by the woods which clothe the sides of the valleys ; 
and you now come to a forge where the blast roars, and the flame 
glances out from the sooty chimney-tops, and the hammers resound 
and tinkle in various cadences from within ; and now to low mill- 
like buildings, with huge wheels revolving between two of them, or 
beside one of them : and these are the grinding-mills, or wheels, as 
they are termed. Formerly they were all turned by these streams, 
which are conveyed in channels, cut for them, and spouts, and let 
fall on those great wheels ; but now steam is applied, as to every- 
thing else, and large grinding-wheels as they are still called, that is, 
mills, meet you along all the lower parts of the town, as they still 
require a good supply of water for their engines, and for their wet 
grinding, that is, to keep their grinding- stones wet for some par- 
ticular articles. Owing to this introduction of steam, as you 
advance further up amongst the moorland hills and streamlets, you 
find the old and picturesque grinding-wheels falling to decay. 

u 2 



222 REMARKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETRY, 

Would that I were a river, 

To wander all alone 
Through some sweet Eden of the wild, 

In music of my own ; 

Such is the scenery of Rivelin. Far up, solitude and falling wheels 
give a pleasing melancholy to the scene ; but as you return nearer 
to Sheffield, you see the huge hammers of forges put in motion by 
stream or steam, thumping away at the heated bars of iron, while 
water is kept trickling upon their great handles to keep them cool." 
Elliott gives the following description of these five rivers, 
alluded to by Howitt, in his " Village Patriarch." 

" Five rivers, like the fingers of a hand, 
Flung from black mountains, mingle, and are one 
Where sweetest valleys quit the wdd and grand, 
And eldest forests, o'er the sylvan Don, 
Bid their immortal brother journey on, 
A stately Pilgrim, watched by all the hills. 
Say, shall we wander where, through warriors' graves, 
The infant Yewden, mountain cradled, trills 
Her Doric notes ? or where the Loxley raves 
Of broil and battle, and the rocks and caves 
Dream yet of ancient days ? or where the sky 
Darkens o'er Rivelin, the clear and cold, 
That throws his blue length, like a snake, from high ? 
Or where deep azure brightens into gold 
O'er Sheaf, that mourns in Eden ? or where rolled, 
On tawny sands, through regions passion wild 
And groves of love, in jealous beauty dark, 
Complains the Porter, nature's thwarted chdd, 
Born in the waste, like headlong Wiming ? Hark, 
The poised hawk calls thee Village Patriarch ? 
He calls thee to his mountains ! Up, away ! 
Up, up, to Standedge ! higher still ascend, 
Tdl kindred rivers from the summit grey 
To distant seas their course in beauty bend ; 
And, like the lives of human millions blend, 
Disparted waves in one immensity !" 



AND MEMORANDA OF THE POET. 223 

And bathed in bliss, and fed with dew, 

Distilled o'er mountains hoary, 
Return unto my home in heaven 

On wings of joy and glory ! 

Or that I were a skylark, 

To soar and sing above, 
Filling all hearts with joyful sounds, 

And my own soul with love ! 
Then o'er the mourner and the dead, 

And o'er the good man dying 
My song should come like buds and flowers 

When music warbles flying,' etc. 

" The ascent of "Win Hill, and the storm witnessed on 
its summit, will supply one of the nohlest amongst many 
instances throughout his writings, of the mastery this 
poet exercises over the mightier elements of the min- 
strel's art : — 

" ' Blow, blow, thou breeze of mountain freshness, blow ! 

Stronger and fresher still as we ascend, 
Strengthen' d and freshen'd till the land below 

Lies like a map ! On ! on ! those clouds portend 

Hail, rain, and fire ! Hark ! how the rivers send 
Their skyward voices hither, and their words 

Of liquid music ! See how bluely blend 
The east moors with the sky ! The lowing herds 
To us are silent now, and hush'd the songful birds. 

# * # # 

High on the topmost jewel of thy crown, 

Win Hill ! I sit bare-headed, ancle deep 
In tufts of rose-cupp'd bilberries ; and look down 

On towns that smoke below, and homes that creep 

Into the silvery clouds, which far off keep 
Their sultry state ! and many a mountain stream, 

And many a mountain, 'vale, and ridgy' steep ; 
The Peak and all his mountains, where they gleam 
Or frown, remote or near, more distant than they seem ! 



224 REMARKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETRY, 

There flows the Ashop, yonder bounds the Wye, 

And Derwent here towards princely Chatsworth tends ; 
But, while the Nough steals purple from the sky, 

Lo ! northward far, what giant shadow bends ? 

A voice of torrents, hark ! its wailing sends : 
Who drives yon tortured cloud through stone-still air ? 

A rush ! a roar ! a wing ! a whirlwind rends 
The stooping larch ! The moorlands cry prepare ! 
It comes ! ye gore-gorged foes of want and toil beware ! 
It comes ! behold ! black Blakelow hoists on high 
His signals to the blast from GHedhilTs brow. 



Now expectation listens, mute and pale, 

While ridged with sudden foam the Derwent brawls ; 
Arrow-like comes the rain, like fire the hail ; 

And hark ! Mam-Tor on shuddering Standedge calls ; 

See, what a frown o'er castled Winnat falls ! 
Down drops the death-black sky ! and Kinderscout, 

Conscious of glory, laughs at intervals ; 
Then lifts his helmet, throws the thunder out, 
Bathes all the hills in flame, and hails their stormy shout.' 

The poem from which the above extract is taken is one 
of many noble productions, in which graphic descriptions 
of the poet's native scenery abound. The whole basin 
of the Don and its tributaries, exhibiting every kind of 
scene, from the picturesque well-wooded valleys and 
fertile plains of south Yorkshire — the green fountained 
dales on the moor edges to the innermost recesses and 
bleakest heights of the western range of hills, known by 
the appellation of ' the back-bone of Eugland ' — may be 
justly said to have gained a deeper interest from the 
illustrations of his powerful pen. The upper part of 
this region, extending to the well-heads of the Don, 
Dearne, Derwent, and Mersey, whence the infant feeders 



AND MEMORANDA OF THE POET. 225 

of these rivers diverge to different seas, lie may fairly 
claim as his own— being new poetic ground : — and to 
him we are indebted for the embodiment of some of our 
fairest and grandest scenes in deathless verse. From 
"Win Hill, southward, 'King of the Peak,' and Lord's 
Seat, overlooking his own sweet valley of Eivelin, to 
Blakelow Scar, commanding the "VVoodhead valley, north- 
ward, he has sung of their diversified aspects and old 
recollections, both in his longer poems, as ' The Letter,' 
and ' The Village Patriarch ; ' in his shorter lyrics, as 
his touching ' Farewell to Bivelin ; ' and in his sonnets, 
which also embrace a wider range, yielding pleasing 
recollections of more renowned Yorkshire scenes, as 
Bolton, and Fountain's Abbey, and the massive crags of 
Brimham. The latter species of verse, as well as hex- 
ameters, were tried as experiments ; showing, as his 
various correspondence proves, how much the mere form 
of metrical composition had been an object of his 
culture. On one occasion he wrote me as follows : — 
' I now send a legitimate sonnet for your Doncaster 
friend, (the editor of the Gazette;') I will send you 
three more, with an explanatory note — one of them 
in the legitimate form, and the other two in measures 
which I think more harmonious and more agreeable 
with the genius of our language. But it does not 
follow that my practice is right. I will write them 
on purpose. ' In the communication which accompanied 
these sonnets, he gave his reason for preferring the form 
alluded to — which is simply an extension of Spenser's 
melodious Stanza, of nine lines to fourteen, the limit of 
the sonnet. ' The Spenserian Stanza, ' he remarked, 
'preceded by five lines linked to it in melody, and 
concluding occasionally with an Alexandrine, is the best 
which an English sonneteer can employ. ' Space forbids 



226 REMARKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETRY, 

ine to give more than the conclusion of this Spenserian 
sonnet, and portions of the Petrarchan or legitimate 
forms. Though marked by that sententious brevity, 
which is a distinguishing feature of Elliott, in prose or 
poetry, and containing the same elements of pictorial de- 
lineation and musical expression already pointed out, and 
here manifesting themselves in the changeful hues of 
earth and sky, and the hymning of the forest trees to 
that Being ' who makes the clouds his harp strings,' yet 
with all these merits it is doubtful whether even Elliott 
can make the sonnet popular to the English mind, or 
appreciated with more than passing interest, except by 
the student. 

" He admonishes the young writer, whose hopes are 
high for the advancement of the dawning age to earnest- 
ness in the task, which, without a sense of his true 
mission, should not be undertaken : — 

* * * " ' As the rose, 

Growing beside the streamlet of the field, 
Sends sweetness forth on every breeze that blows ; 
Bloom like the woodbine where the linnets build; 
Be to the mourner as the clouds, that shield, 
With wings of meeken'd flame, the summer flower ; 
Still in thy season, beautifully yield 
The seeds of beauty ; sow eternal power, 
And wed eternal Truth ! though suffering be her dower. 
Don whispers audibly ; but Whamcliffe's dread, 
In speechless adoration, hymns the Lord ; 
While, smiting his broad lyre with thunder stored, 
He makes the clouds his harp-strings. Gloom is spread 
O'er Midhope, gloom o'er Tankersley, with red 
Streak'd ; and noon's midnight silence doth afford 
Deep meanings, like the preaching of the Word 
To dying men. Then let thy heart be fed 
With honest thoughts. * * * 



AND MEMORANDA OF THE POET. 227 

Yes, minstrel ! bear to him who toils and sighs, 
The primrose and the daisy, in thy rhyme ; 
Bring to his workshop odorous mint and thyme ; 
Shine like the stars on graves, and say, arise, 
Seed sown in sorrow ! that our Father's eyes 
May see the bright consummate flower of mind ; 
And the great heart of ransom'd human kind, 
Sing in all homes the anthem of the wise, 
" Freedom is Peace ! Knowledge is Liberty ! 
Truth is Religion ! " ' 

" To connect this portion of my theme with the next, 
viz : description blending with sentiment, I quote from one 
of his hest poems, 'Ethcline,' which, for musical flow 
and sustained beauty, is not exceeded by any of his 
choicest productions. I select the striking description 
of Wharncliffe. The poem of ' Etheline,' dedicated to 
Miss E. Eendall, which at first was slighted by the 
press, has a peculiar value to me, not only as effecting 
a conquest over the difficulty experienced by most poets, 
in what Byron calls ' the fatal facility of the octosyllabic 
measure,' but from the interesting circumstances in 
which it stands to myself. The first intimation I had 
of its existence was in the following letter : — 

" ' Hargate Hilt, Jan. 3, 1849. 

" ' Deae Sie, — Thank you for securing The Spectator for 
me. If I live till summer, I could like to re-visit Conisbro' with 
you. A result of our visit is a long poem, which I think my best. 
Edlington Wood, I am told, is worth a visit. 

" ' With our best wishes to you both, I am yours very truly, 

" ' EBENEZER ELLIOTT.' 

" On my next visit I asked to see the piece written 
respecting our trip to Conisbro' Castle. ' It is a loug 
poem,' he said, ' of many hundred lines ; you can't read 



228 REMARKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETRY, 

it now, we have other matters to engage us this even- 
ing ; stay all night, and you shall have it at full length 
in the morning. I took the idea of the poem from your 
remark, " that the Don Valley looked like the bed of an 
ancient lake." I have transformed it into a lake, girt 
with its vast primeval woods.' Not beiug able to accept 
his invitation for the night, I never saw the manuscript ; 
and on a subsequent visit, full of pleasant and painful 
reminiscences, I took my leave of him, and of his kind- 
hearted family, without having had my longing to see the 
poem gratified. When I saw his posthumous publication 
it was with mingled pleasure and regret. Its beautiful 
construction surpassed my warmest hopes, and proved 
that his hand had not forgotten its mastery of the lyre 
to the last — but many inquiries which I fain would have 
made of the author were rendered hopeless by the stern 
finisher — Death. 

" ' O'er Wharncliffe of the Demons thou, 
Dear Ellen, hast a wanderer been ; 
Thy second letter places now 
Before my soul the beauteous scene. 
But thou hast named a name that brings 
Back the deplored and hopeless past, 
And o'er remember'd Wharncliffe flings 
An angel's shadow flitting fast : 
Why didst thou name that mournful name ? 
Beautiful in its worth and woe, 
Over my sadden' d heart it came 
Like funeral music wailing low ; 
Or like a deep cathedral toll 
At midnight swung o'er Witham's wave, 
Proclaiming that a weary soul 
Had cast his staff into the grave. 
Oh, never more will Lycid see 
That relic of the forest old, 



AND MEMOEANDA OF THE POET. 229 

Which spread like an eternity 

Its green night over plain and wold ! 

Grey Wharnclitfe, and the oaks that stand 

Like spectres of their sires sublime ; 

Yet how unlike, though old and grand, 

Those giants of the olden time ! 

Symbols of age-long funerals, 

They frown'd o'er fear's suspended breath, 

And pillar'd in their living halls 

The deathless might of mental death. 

Oh, Superstition ! cruel, blind, 

False, restless, fair as ocean's foam, 

How shall I paint ? where shall I find, 

Save in man's darkness, thy dark home? ' 

" The expression ' Wharncliffe of the Demons ' alludes 
to a wild supernatural poem written by him at an early 
period. The present poem ' Etheline,' the execution of 
which is better than the plan or the strange groundwork, 
of the tale, embodies a powerful censure against the 
superstitions of all times, while delineating those of our 
pagan forefathers, whose cruel altars he places on the 
giant crags, amid the deepest forest recesses of old 
"Wharncliffe. The allusion to a departed friend in the 
plaintive spirit of Milton's Lycidas, adds that sombre 
tinge of gloom which in one form or another is seldom 
absent from his finest compositions. His city-bred 
reviewers and transcendental critics may slight ' Etheline,' 
and pronounce it, as some of them have been pleased to 
do, a failure ; it may be, to those who have communed 
little with their own hearts amid the quiet shades of 
retirement, nor taught themselves to feel the beauty 
which exists, apart from the polished circle, in objects 
overlooked or rarely glanced upon, nor stilled the cravings 
for excitement in the majestic temple of creation. To 
bring it to the test of performances rather than words, 

X 



230 REMARKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETRY, 

let one of these transcendentalists attempt what he whom 
they call a realist has here achieved. In this further 
selection, for example, are portions of a richer delineation 
of forest scenery than the above. Let those who have 
been fascinated with the opening page of ' Ivanhoe ' — 
calling up before the mind, and peopling with beings in 
accordance with the scene the vast tracts of forest land 
extending from Wharncliffe (haunt of the fabled Dragon 
of Wantley) to Wentworth, and the sloping heights that 
overlook the confluence of the Bother and the Don — let 
such who have glowed over this picture (and what York- 
shire reader has not) of our own native region, as it 
existed in the time of the Crusades, throw their imagina- 
tions back a thousand years previous to that era, to 
realize Elliott's embodiment of the same scenes in the 
times of the Druids, when the vast primeval forest 

' Spread like an eternity 
Its green night over plain and wold,' 

ere the Roman had hacked his way through its tangled 
depths, or the Saxon had planted his homestead amid its 
glades. 

" ' They traversed realms of verdant night, 
And many a treeless isle of light, 
"Whose peaceful bliss the eyes of love 
Watch'd fondly through the blue above ; 
A wilderness of shaded flowers, 
A wilderness of virgin bowers, 
Of beauty calm not passionless, 
And lonely song, a wilderness ; 
Ear on, on, far and long they went, 
Through paths of green bewilderment, 
Where oft the Ouzle, perch'd on high, 
Beneath his clouds, above his woods, 
Poui''d his full notes in gushing floods, 
Flattering the wood-rill tunefully, 



AND MEMORANDA OF THE POET. 231 

Then listened to its still reply, 
In all a bard's regality. 

They reach' d at last the mount where stood 
The father of the boundless wood, 
An oak, before whose vastness man, 
Dwarf'd to a gnat's dimensions, shrunk. 
Twelve full-sized men had failed to span 
With outstretch'd arms his giant trunk : 
One mighty limb, extended forth, 
Might have a war-ship's frame supplied; 
One shoulder, twisted to the north, 
A thousand winters had defied. 

The tree was call'd the " Wizard's Chair," 
And in his hollow trunk the gloom 
Reveal' d an uncouth banquet room ; 
Perchance, in after ages, dined 
In such a tree stout Robin Hood, 
Amid the depths of Barnsdale wood, 
Feasting his men on hart and hind.' 

" Under the bead of Poetry, where description blends 
with sentiment, I might class a large proportion of the 
poems of Elliott ; indeed, the secret of beauty and power 
combined in his strains, lies in the vehemence and fervour 
with which he throws the whole feelings of his soid into 
his subject. Tbis is also the reason of the distaste with 
which, in some circles, he is regarded ; he being a fearless, 
out-spoken man, not caring whether his words of terrible 
earnestuess accord with the canonical rules of poetic 
taste, or conventional propriety, so that they only convey 
the meaning he intends. His mental vision, in a direct 
line, was clearer than that of most men. ' My mind, ' 
he said, 'is the mind of my eyes. All my ideas are from 
my own observations, or what I have made my own by 
reflection on the thoughts of other men. Some of my 



232 REMARKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETRY, 

finest thoughts come from the minds of others, but so 
adapted to my own that the theft is not traced. I am 
enriched, and I leave them no poorer ; for instance, 
Homer, in Cowper's translation — the best our language 
boasts — says, of the meeting of two armies: "The earth 
beneath them trembled, and the heavens sang them 
together with a trumpet's voice." I thus transfer the 
thought : — 

" O light that, cheer'st all life from sky to sky, 
As with a hymn to which the stars reply." 

The trumpet I transform to a hymn, and the change is 
complete and undetected. ' 

" To describe and narrate well, are excellent qualities 
in a poet j but to invest the object with sentiment, to 
pour soid and feeling therein, is a much higher advance 
in the art. I will exemplify this by a selection from 
' The Splendid Village, ' where the twice exded victim 
of usurping power breathes a sad farewell to England, 
which he thus passionately apostrophizes : — 

" ' Yet in my heart thy verdant Eden smiles ; 

Land where my Hannah died and hath no tomb, 
Still in my soul thy dewy roses bloom. 
E'en mid Niagara's roar remembrance still 
Shall hear thy throstle by the lucid rill, 
At lucid eve — the bee at stillest noon ; 
And when clouds chase the heart-awaking moon, 
The mocking bird, where Erie's waters swell, 
Shall sing of fountain' d vales and Philomel ; 
To my sick soul bring, over worlds of waves, 
Dew-glistening Albion's rocks, and dripping caves, 
But with her, redbreast, linnet, lark, and wren, 
Her blasted homes and much-enduring men.' 

" That perfect little poem, ' The Dying Boy to the 



AND MEMORANDA OF THE POET. 233 

Sloe-Blossom,' is an exquisite illustration of the principle 
here enunciated; and equally sweet and perfect are 
< Come and Gone ;' ' To the Bramble Flower ;' and ' The 
Wonders of the Lane. ' Many choice pieces also adorn 
his last publication, such as 'Lyrics for my Daughters;' 
the pleasure of reading which is only exceeded by that 
of hearing them sung and played — the heart mingling 
with the strain— in the household circle for which they 
were composed; ' God Save the People ;' and ' The Sun's 
Bird,' breathing the same spirit as the Ettrick Shepherd's 
' Skylark,' but less sustained in its exultant cheerfulness. 
These fully prove that the poetic gift was as potent, 
when he willed it, in his declining years, as in his manly 
prime. Tet in these posthumous volumes, it must be 
mournfully confessed, there are many blemishing verses, 
which it could have been hoped his riper judgment had 
either not composed, or rejected from an after collection 
— it being quite possible, as he himself has sometimes 
proved, to utter strong truths without offensive language. 
" A judicious selector might extract a cabinet of gems 
from his works. Such, one would think," might find 
favour in the eyes of those who have been repelled by 
what they consider the violence, approaching to coarse- 
ness, of his political opinions. They who have said that 
the Corn Law Rhymer's fame will die, when the exciting' 
questions of partizan strife that brought him into notice, 
have subsided, may be partially right in their opinion ; 
that the lower aspect of politics, the harping on party 
measures, is inimical to poetry ; but, they are deplorably 
wrong, when they pronounce him who has made politics 
so important a staple of his productions, to be no poet. 
The pieces named above, and many more from [which 
there is a strong temptation to quote, are equal to any 
of their class. They may stand by the master-pieces 

x 2 



234 REMARKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETRY, 

of Coleridge, Keats, and Tennyson. And how is it that 
Elliott may compare, without loss, in the same kind of 
poetry — natural description blending with natural sen- 
timent—with men more richly endowed with the poet's 
best gift, imagination, than he admitted himself to be ? 
The response is simply this : because his heart was homed 
with nature ; he had familiarized himself more with her 
varied aspects, and listened more attentively to her 
teachings than any of the ideal poets, "Wordsworth alone 
excepted. This venerable bard, sojourning nearly all his 
long existence among his native hills, open to all the in- 
fluences of nature, revealing to other hearts her secret 
whisperings to his own, after toiling through an age of 
contumely, lived to be hailed, by general consent, as her 
ministering priest. In one important element, passion, 
that which gives life to all composition, Elliott possessed 
an advantage over the last hallowed bard, as over all 
modern poets, unless Byron be deemed his equal, who 
excels him in splendour of diction, but yields to him 
in reverential love and knowledge of the surrounding 
creation. Elliott's remarkable definition, ' Poetry is 
impassioned Truth, ' paradox though it seem, is ably 
borne out in his masterly lectures, first published in 
' Tait, ' and now the choicest of them in ' More Prose 
and Verse.' 

" These lectures, while they are true exponents of Ins 
poetical views, are written in a style, beautiful as it is 
brief, equal to that of his verse, and would be a profitable 
study to some of his judges, who disallow this claim. 
The condensed fulness of such prose would make many of 
these scribes rich indeed. Referring once to these lec- 
tures, he remarked, ' Tou ask how I attained my peculiar 
prose style ? There is a secret lies in that : I have 
served a long apprenticeship to it. I allow no word 



AND MEMORANDA OF TIIE POET. 235 

to pass in composition that docs not answer my purpose. 
I can afford to wait, and the world also, until the right 
word be found. I never wrote an idle line in my life, 
nor used a word for effect, or for rhyme, unless it gave 
my full meaning. Would our numerous writers and 
young poets look to this, they would not rush into 
authorship without feeling assured they had a call to 
the work. ' 

" Again, to cause my divisions of the subject to flow 
easily into each other, I connect this head with the 
succeeding one, by an epistle to his friend Francis 
Fisher, who was then living in Sheffield, in which rare 
powers of description, and wondrously varied sentiment, 
combine with an ardent, active philanthropy; exhibiting 
also, the quaintly humourous side of the poet's mind, 
mingled with touching pathos. This was an experiment 
in ' Metrical Epistolary Composition,' written to drive 
away painful thoughts, as he states in a subsequent letter 
to F. Fisher, apologizing for sending it to ' Tait,' ' though 
there is nothing in it which could hurt his feelings, or 
injure or prejudice him.' That amiable youth, now de- 
ceased, whose loss is, no doubt, the one introduced in the 
"Wharnclifte reminiscence, would excuse everything there- 
in, knowing the source from which it sprung ; but there 
are some passages, which, to the hard-judging conventional 
world, had better have been erased ; and such omission 
would have made this one of the finest specimens of 
the Rhymed Epistle — -worthy to rank with those of his 
cherished favourites, Cowper and Burns : — 

" ' This sixteenth morn of new-styled May 
Brings me your letter. Ah, you say, 
You cannot come to Hargate Hill ; 
I'm sorry, but my bees are come. 
There's gold, there's fire, on Hargate Hill ; 



236 REMARKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETRY, 

The forests kindle into green ; 
Sun-bright the landscape burns between, 
And bees hum o'er my apple bloom. 
You will not come, but they are come, 
The bees, my punctual bees, are come. 
Oh, when arrives my hour of doom, 
Bury me where the orchards bloom, 
That to my grave the bees may come ; 
And while the wren his dinner gets, 
Murmur a song of violets. 
I've pass'd with bees some happiest hours, 
For well they know, I dwell with flowers : 
They love me, dou't they, little wags ! 
Ay, just as heirs do miser bags : 
My flowers they seek, my flowers, not me. 
Good taste is thine, my bonny bee. 
As skylarks love the clouded sky, 
Where bees and flowers are, there am I. 
Who loves not flowers ? I know not who : 
But this I know most good folk do. 
No foe of flowers could I forgive, 
They are my life, in them I live ; 
But oh ! there's frailty in their beauty, 
How mutely making sadness duty. 

# # # # 

My steps to health are slow and sure, 
My choking fits are few and fewer. 
Thanks to the air of Hargate Hill, 
And breeze, and bee, and flower, and rill ; 
And rides, and drives, in carriage low, 
To Nostell, Watchley, jjilla'd Mar, 
Tower'd Bilham, Castle- Conisbro', 
Or palaced Wentworth, famous far ; — 
And pathless walks o'er sweetest thyme, 
By fountain'd Howell's dewy chime, 
Or Waltheof s moat, or hall of Grime ; 
Through woods that wave in golden rhyme, 
To roofless mill — half crushed by time— 
And grey historic oak sublime.' 



AND MEMORANDA OF TIIE TOET. 237 

To complete this aspect of his character, and to evince 
his intense desire for the social and moral elevation of 
the working community, I give another extract from his 
last published work, the closing prayer of his Temperance 
ballad, mingled as that effusion is with harsh uncouth 
expressions and startling views : — 

" ' Lord, grant to poor o'er-labour'd man 

More leisure, and less prayer, 
More church, less priest — and homes for inns, 
More libraries and fewer sins ; 

More music and less care. 

And when the tardy Sabbath dawns, 

Bid townsmen leave behind 
The goldfinch, smother'd on his perch, 
Gin-shop and chapel, jail and church, 

And drink the mountain wind. 

Or teach the artizan to seek 

Some village house of prayer, 
And kneel an apparition meek, 
Amid the rustics red and hale, 

And humbly worship there. 

Or bid him (in the temple, built 

By skill Divine for all,) 
Expound to pallid listeners near, 
While rose-cheek'd pilgrims stop to hear 

The words of Christ or Paul. 

There in lone shelter' d dales, amid 

Their patriarchal trees, 
Beneath the skylark's quivering wing, 
Let parents, sons, and daughters, sing 

Great Handel's harmonies. 



238 REMARKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETRY, 

Then to the dome of boundless blue, 

O'er-rooiing sea and land, 
Triumphant hope and faith will rise, 
And with the anthems of the skies 

Mingle their anthem grand. 

And sinners saved shall weep again 

For sins repented long, 
And broken-hearted, though forgiven, 
Repeat in music-hallow' d Heav'n 

Earth's spirit- warbled song.' 

" In a note to this passage, which it must be borne in 
mind is made to proceed from the lips of a poor reformed 
sot, Elliott says : ' Yes, more music. Do I then mean 
that churches and chapels in towns should be deserted ? 
No, let the rich attend them, for they can breathe fresh 
air when they please, which the poor can only breathe on 
the "poor man's day."' He suggests the building of 
churches and chapels at the railway stations. By the 
phrase 'less prayei*,' which may appear irreverent, I would 
understand shorter prayers, and more to the purpose. 
The contest bears out this view. To ' prayer, the soul's 
sincere desire,' he cannot object. He frequently exhorts 

' Him who toils six days in seven 
To climb the hills amid their flowers to pray,' 

on the only day when he can refresh his toil-worn frame 
in the free country air. Doubtless Elliott had been 
struck with the contrast between a long drawn-out 
supplication, and the simple heart-utterance of the Lord's 
Prayer that concludes it, as though the speaker pro- 
nounced unconsciously in the fulness of these few closing 
words, an expressive condemnation of his past lengthened 
effort. The noblest models of the effective Teacher he 



AND MEMOEANDA OF THE POET. 239 

held out in the characters of Christ and Paul, as enforced 
in this piece, and embodied in ' The Ranter/ where 
' preaching ought to be its own reward' — a task of love. 
The religion he advocated was one of the spirit rather 
than of form ; of deeds rather than of words. One of 
the evils of this age, which he never failed to enter his 
strong protest against, was that of many words in the 
expression of few or feeble thoughts. A frequent excla- 
mation of his, when sick of the interminable disquisitions 
of this much-writing, long-talking age was, ' O that men 
would see the beauty of brevity.' In a very characteristic 
letter, he binds the lecturer with almost too close a tether 
— long enough if a dull affair, but where interest is 
manifested, one hour might be allowed, with a few 
minutes' grace to wind up. ' No lecture should exceed 
three quarters of an hour in the delivery. Always send 
your audience away full yet hungry, rather than tired 
and wanting. Speak slowly and clearly, standing bolt 
upright ; if you cannot speak like one having authority, 
what right have you to speak at all ? Use very few 
long sentences. Interpose round shot (short ones) for 
emphasis, also for safety ; you may want time to breathe. 
If you extemporise, you may as a Quaker use the Quaker's 
privilege (as Emerson does) in the occasional dignity of 
silence ! ' 

" The public lecturer he looked upon as a mighty 
instrument in the work of social progression, and 
in the above he has well prescribed the rules of his 
calling. Linked with this, as co-operating to the same 
end, were educational and literary institutions. He 
was an advocate for popular education long before 
that class of objections to any enlarged national 
scheme of it which have wearied the world of late 
had even an existence in thought. He at one time 



2i0 REMARKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETEY, 

contemplated, ' under a solemn sense of a"* duty to be 
performed,' to write ' Educational Rhymes.' It is to be 
regretted that he consigned such a noble task to any one 
else, either"too indolent or incompetent to carry out his 
enlightened instructions. The text laid down by him, 
being for the good of mankind, may be introduced here ; 
the objection to exhibiting private correspondence is less- 
ened by considering this part of the communication as 
more of the nature of public property than such as is 
but individual ' in its character. From an interesting 
letter, dated 1839, written in the indulgent spirit he was 
wont to manifest towards his young correspondents, he 
thus touches on the question referred to : ' What a 
name you may win, and what good you may do, by 
writing short pieces, after the manner of your Tem- 
perance Rhymes, to be called Education Rhymes. 
What a world of pathos, beauty, hope, humour, and 
merciful sarcasm, is within your reach ! Be this your 
text, to be expounded in a thousand ways, with a thou- 
sand sad and beautiful elucidations — " From national 
ignorance result not drunkenness only, but all other 
public evils ! " When you conquered the rare power of 
expressing every-day and common-life thoughts in rhyme, 
you bent the bow of TJlysses. This power, and your love 
of the beautiful, with your knowledge of the people, and 
your graphic power to paint them, all point you out as 
the man who is to be the Education Rhymer. What 
felicitous opportunities you will have of introducing 
your fine pictures of rural scenery, and what might be 
and ought to be happiness ! AVhat a universe of sorrowful 
thoughts, and sweet contrasts, and heavenly anticipations. 
But do not go out of your way to seek poetry. I find some 
of your very best in your ' Temperance Rhymes,' and it 
is found in them because it came unsought. For instance: 



AND MEMORANDA OF THE POET. 241 

' Such joys are but the meteor's flash 
That through the darkness gleams ; 
Their memories knotted cords that lash 
The thoughtless from their dreams. ' 

" And here is a capital bit of education poetry :— 

' Drunkard— I cannot read a single line, 
Nor spell a single word. ' 

Remove the great cause of evil, and not intemperance 
only, but all its other bad consequences will cease,' etc. 
The best plea for this extract is the importance of 
EDiott's testimony to the great question which has 
enlisted already the proud names of Chalmers, Vaughan, 
Earl Carlisle, Cobden, Dawson, and a host of worthies, 
who have pleaded for national enlightenment in their 
respective spheres, upon such comprehensive principles 
as reason and conscience dictated to them was best. 
To wait until all sects have made up their minds as to 
the plan upon which a National Education shall be 
founded, were as hopeless as the aim of Charles V. to 
subdue the world to one faith. Not alone in expressive 
prose, terse, full, and musical, but in more varied verse, 
Elliott has proved himself an effective pleader in this 
cause ; witness, among other meritorious poems, ' The 
Press ; ' ' The Home of Taste ; ' and the lines on the 
'Sheffield Mechanics' Exhibition.' The last closes with 
an impressive appeal to the classes who have power to 
do something effectual in giving the first right impulse 
to the faculties and habits of the rising race. These 
prove that Elliott is no malignant agitator, but an 
earnest tranquillizer of those conflicting elements of 
society which threaten to spread, like a wasting torrent, 
when unwisely influenced or left to their own unregulated 
course : — 



2i2 REMARKS UPON ELLIOTT'S POETRY. 

' Truth, Mercy, Knowledge, Justice, 
Are powers that ever stand ; 
They build their temples in the soul, 
They work with God's right hand. 



Then trader, lord, or yeoman, 

If thou a patriot art ; 
If thou wouldst weep to see the light, 

Erom England's name depart, 
Her streets blood-flooded, and her plains 

In boundless conflagration, 
Instruct her poor benighted sons, 

And save a sinking nation. 
Shall we not lift the lowly, 

Whom law and custom ban ? 
O help us to exalt and praise 

Grod in the mind of man, ' etc. 

This, in its aspirations, is closely linked with his 
prophetic language in that sublime hymn, where he 
looks forward to the time — 

' When man, by painful ages taught, 
Shall build at last on truthful thought, 
And wisdom won from sorrow.' 

" To this I add, in 'conclusion, the magnificent close of 
'The Ranter, ' foretelling the certain triumph of com- 
mercial freedom, of which he lived to see the fulfilment. 
He thus anticipates the ultimate achievements of ' world- 
reforming commerce,' of which he was at once the 
prophet and dauntless pioneer : — 

' When o'er the enfranchised nations thou wilt 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, 
Eree shalf thou fly, unchainable and free, 
And men henceforth shall call thee liberty.' ' 



lUrnllrctiono nf (Plictmer (Elliott, 



HIS FAMILY, AND FRIENDS. 



THE LATK MR, PAUL ROBGERS. 



Since the following MSS. came to my band, the 
author has been gathered to his long home. It was 
not my good fortune to know much of him, but 
what little I knew, and more that I heard, impressed 
me very much in his favour. He was an intelligent, 
affable, and most kind-hearted man, and was esteemed 
as such in his town and neighbourhood. He was lir>l 
introduced to me as a friend of Elliott's, and it is in this 
light that he now appears before the reader in the notes 
and reminiscences which follow. As a brief aecoun! 
of his life and struggles may not, however, be uninterest- 
ing, I will subjoin the following memoir, extracted from 
The Sheffield Independent, of September 27th, 1851 :- 

The late Mr. Paul Eodoers was a man so well known and 
so much respected that his departure from amongst us must be 
widely regretted. Although his life was unmarked by any striking 
events, his characteristics was strong and well defined. Born at 
Greasbrough, near Rotherham, in the year 1788, he was at an 
early age bound apprentice to a shoemaker. Being of a serious 
turn of mind, he joined the Methodists, and in the course of time 
became one of their local preachers. He married, and settled at 
Greasbrough, working at his trade and using his best exertions to 
support a large family of children. Though possessed of little 
school learning, he was a reader and a thinker. To amuse himself 
he tried his hand at literary composition, and his productions won 
not merely the approbation of his village companions, but also the 
praise of individuals of superior judgment. He gained the intimate 
friendship of several of the then popular Methodist preachers of the 



248 THE LATE MR. PAUL RODGERS. 

Rotherham Circuit, and especially of the Rev. Francis Hall, the 
late incumbent of Greasbrough. His opinions on certain religious 
doctrines changed, and he ceased to be a member of the Wesleyan 
Connexion. Speaking of this in after years, he said, " To the 
Methodists, amongst whom I was brought up, and with whom I 
was pleasantly connected for many years, I retain a constant and 
deep feeling of respect : and certain I am, could the same belief 
have been preserved by any legitimate efforts of my own under- 
standing, the pleasant and prolonged intercourse with the friends 
of my youth, would not be broken by any choice of mine." He 
contributed to a magazine, which was published in the neighbour- 
ing village of Wath, and his writings attracted considerable 
attention. Our townsman, G. C. Holland, M.D., was not slow to 
recognise the abilities of the rustic author ; and through his influ- 
ence, in the beginning of 1833, Mr. Rodgers was induced to leave 
his native village, and to take up his abode in ShefBeld. For 
several years Mr. Rodgers was engaged as secretary to the Sheffield 
Mechanics' Institution. In that capacity he became acquainted with 
men of eminence from most parts of the kingdom. He laboured long 
and zealously for the Mechanics' Institution, and his efforts in its 
behalf were in many emergencies extremely successful. His own 
views were enlarged by a more extended knowledge of the world. 
He secured the friendship of Ebenezer Elliott, and of many gentle- 
men of the highest standing in the town. When he resigned his 
official connexion with the Mechanics' Institution, he was appointed 
canvasser, and subsequently collector, to the Sheffield New Gas 
Company. On the amalgamation of the two Gas Companies, his 
services as collector were fotmd acceptable to the directors of the 
United Company ; and he retained that situation to the day of his 
death. His literary works, written entirely in the leisure hours of 
a busy life, consist of a volume of poems, the " Memoirs of Matthias 
D' Amour," several tales, and miscellaneous essays. During the whole 
of his residence in Sheffield, he was an occasional correspondent of 
The Independent, and ever took a warm interest in its prosperity. 
He was skilled in versification, and some of his best effusions in 
rhyme richly deserve the name of poetry. The bent of his mind, 
however, was decidedly metaphysical. This is shown in his verse 
and in his prose ; and those who enjoyed the pleasure of his conver- 
sation had often reason to remark his readiness to suggest topics 



THE LATE MR. PAUL RODGERS. 249 

for discussion of an abstruse nature. With better training lie might 
have been distinguished in sorr.u of t .lie higher branches of philosophy. 
As a politician, Mr. Rodgers was favourable to all rational plans of 
progress. On some points his sentiments bordered on the extremity 
of Radicalism ; but he was always tolerant of the opinions of others. 
To do good was his constant aim. His fadings sprung from his 
virtues. He delighted to soothe the afflicted, and to succour the dis- 
tressed. In all domestic relations he was most kind aud affectionate. 
His means were small, but his spirit was bountiful ; and many were 
the designs of benevolence that he originated. One of the latest of 
his labours of love was the attempt, and not without success, to raise 
funds for the erection of a monument to the memory of his friend 
Ebenezer Elliott. He lived not for himself but for others. His 
cordial manner and familiar face will long be missed by the many 
persons with whom he was necessarily associated ; and his death will 
be regarded as a public loss. After a severe illness of about twelve 
days, and with a full knowledge that his end was at hand, Mr. 
Rodgers peacefully expired last Monday morning, 22nd of Septem- 
ber, 1851, in the presence of the principal members of his family. 
His remains were interred in Grcasbrough churchyard on Thursday 
afternoon. 



E E C O L LECTIO N S 



OF 



EBENEZER ELLIOTT, HIS FAMILY, AND FRIENDS: 



BY PAUL RODGERS. 



I knew the family of Mr. Ebenezer Elliott from about 
the second year of the present century. His father, 
who was also called Ebenezer, kept an ironmonger's shop, 
then the only mil in the town of Eotherham. It was 
situated at the top of High Street, opposite to the shop 
now occupied by Mr. Wigfield. As I was a shoemaker's 
apprentice at Greasbrough I had frequently to visit -Mr. 
Elliott's shop for the purchase of various articles in out- 
line of work. 

I recollect old Mr. Elliott very well, for he was a most 
marked character. In person he was low and squat, with 
a broad face, as the poet has described him. I know not 
how it was that he coidd be so constantly in attendance 
upon the shop, having the important concerns of the 
foundry on hand at the same time. Ebenezer, the poet, 
was then about twenty years of age ; and notwithstanding 
what he says about his oven juvenile dulness, I suspect 
that at that age he was a better man than his father. It 
is a tact, however, that the old gentleman was the prin- 
cipal shopkeeper. I always liked to have business at his 



252 RECOLLECTIONS OF EBENEZEE, ELLIOTT, 

counter, for I was foud of hearing his quaint remarks, 
and his pithy Jacobin epigrams and speeches. I was the 
more pleased, however, when an older person, and one of 
more consequence, had taken the precedence of me ; for 
I had then to stand and wait, and was certain to hear 
more of his pithy speeches, and witness more of his 
strange gesticulations, than I should otherwise have 
done. 

This was during the period when Mr. Pitt was in 
office, and when the active and daring spirit of Bona- 
parte was keeping the world in such a state of bustle 
and excitement. The popularity of the first French 
Revolution had entirely died away in England, and, in 
fact, the excesses which the French had run into, first 
by murdering each other at home, and then by their lust 
of conquest abroad, had completely turned the English 
people into the opposite extreme of loyalty. Yeomanry 
Cavalry, and Volunteers of Infantry were the great 
engrossing subjects of the time. In those days a hearty 
old Jacobin was something rare. I only knew two such 
of any consequence. One was a Joseph Oxley, of Elscar, 
who got the nick-name of Boney, which he has always 
since retained, for he is still living in extreme old age, 
and the other was this same Mr. Elliott. 

I have thought since, that old Ebenezer must have 
been rather fonder of talking, and less prone to conden- 
sation, than his son was, or he would never have endured 
some of the loquacious characters, who, I know, were in 
the habit of holding conversations with him. One of 
them, namely, old Godfrey Thompson of Grreasbrough, was 
a particularly long-winded fellow. He would have talked 
till doomsday. I have frequently seen him in Elliott's 
shop, and as I recollect, he had not all the talk to him- 
self. As an incident, illustrative of Thompson's talking 



%.?> 



HIS FAMILY, AND FRIENDS. 25 

propensity, I may mention that he once started to walk 
from G-reasbrough to Wath, a distance of four miles, in 
company with a neighbour, about some business in which 
they were jointly interested. They had not proceeded more 
tban two hundred yards from the village, ere they were 
met by a third party, who engaged Godfrey in his beloved 
art of talking. The friend proceeded without him, slowly 
at first, but ultimately with a more average speed. Vain- 
ly he continued to look behind him for his companion. 
Mile after mile passed, till he arrived at Wath. After 
waiting there sometime, in vain, he proceeded to transact 
the business himself; which, in time, he did. He then 
set out on his return, wending his way leisurely along 
till, having walked eight miles, lie arrived at the same 
field where he left the disputants, and there he still 
found them in the heat of debate. 

One reason why I so well recollect Godfrey Thompson 
in connexion with the elder Mr. Elliott is, that I was 
once in the latter gentleman's shop, and saw him give or 
lend Godfrey a publication of his own, being a poetic, or 
at least rhymed " Paraphrase of the Book of Job." At 
that time I was wonderfully struck with the idea of being 
in the presence of a man who had printed a book. As 
such, the incident made a lasting impression on me. 

As I have spoken of one original character in connexion 
with the elder Mr. Elliott, I will allude to another, who 
has been specially distinguished by the poet, in the 
magazine preface which he published to his poem called 
" Hevd Byron." The character I mean was Luke Adams. 
Old Luke, whom Mr. Elliott calls "one of God's own," 
was a forgeman. In figure he was short and thick-set, 
with an uncommonly swarthy face. His appearance, 
altogether, gave a mixed idea of fun and importance. 
Among his own associates he was a very important man, 

Z 



254 EEC0LLECT10NS OF EBENEZEE ELLIOTT, 

and being a small literary genius was often appealed to, 
as a learned authority, by his mates. 

I believe all through life, Luke had a lively sense of 
religion, though he sometimes took singular methods of 
manifesting it. He was much attached to the Method- 
ists. His call to preach was so powerful, that he needed 
neither the laying on of hands, nor even a place on the 
Local Preacher's Plan. He had many acquaintances and 
associates in the villages round about, and to one of these 
villages he would go, call on some original in his own line 
whose house he could occupy for his purpose ; seud, or go 
round the neighbourhood to invite the people together, 
and then hold forth in a most voluble style, making use 
of words, which neither he nor they understood, to 
the great wonder of the simple people, and to his own 
entire satisfaction. At Greasbrough, Luke always held 
these primitive kinds of preaching at old Polly Sharpe's. 

I must not omit to mention that on one occasion Luke 
was preaching at Brightside, where several of his old 
pot-companions lived, for he was unfortunately addicted 
to drinking. One of these, called Oilman, happened to 
be drinking at a public-house hard by. The toper, know- 
ing Luke's propensity, and feeling for what he considered 
his unenviable position, took his own tankard of ale in 
his hand, and with his pipe in his mouth, deliberately 
walked into the assembly. As the attention of the 
auditors was turned towards him, the fellow held out the 
pot, saying, " Luke, lad, take hold and drink, thou must 
be very dry." Taking the invitation as it was meant, 
kindly, Luke drank off the ale, and then resumed the 
discourse. 

Mr. Mark Gregory, an old workman of Elliott's, gave 
me another edition of the story, namely, that Luke did 
not actually drink, but merely suspended his discourse a 



HIS FAMILY, AND FRIENDS. 255 

moment, waived his hand to his friend, and said in an under 
tone, "take your time, Gilman, I'll be with thee soon." 

Luke's fondness for drink was very strong, and very 
unfortunate. His great house of call in Eotherham was 
the Red Bear, in Bridge Gate. It is related of him, 
that in one of his remorseful moods, having resolved to 
be heroically virtuous, he actuallv got quite past the Red 
Bear without calling. He had not proceeded more chu_i 
fifty yards, however, chuckling in self-esteem over his 
victory, when his usual strong desire attacked him again, 
and he audibly resolved that he would give so deserving a 
resolution a special treat, and he actually turned back for 
the purpose. 

But Luke was also a literary genius. To give an 
instance of his readiness at literary criticism : One of 
his fellow-workmen, namely, John Martin, was a religious 
man. I knew John ; he was a reader iu a certain line. 
Having met, one day, witli the word oblivion, and not 
understanding its meaning, he solicited the necessary 
information from Luke Adams as follows : " Luke," 
says he, "what does ob-li-vi-on mean?" Luke con- 
founding, I believe, the word as pronounced, with the 
word Apollyon, in the Book of Revelation, but, never 
wishing to be thought wanting in a difficulty, though 
generally as much in the dark as his querists, promptly 
answered, (not without a tone of scorn at the man's 
confessed ignorance,) " what does ob-li-vi-on mean ? the 
Devil, to be sure." Notwithstanding, Luke Adams was 
a character; and it was to Mr. Elliott's honour that he 
knew and appreciated what was good in him. 

John Woffenden, the Greasbrough boat-builder,* whom 

* Mr. Rodgers alludes here to the fact that Elliott, when a boy, 
having built and. rigged a sort of model ship, presented it to 
Woffenden, who, in his turn, presented it to Lord Fitzwilliam, as 



256 RECOLLECTIONS OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, 

Mr. Elliott names in connexion with Earl Fitzwilliam, 
affords another illustration of the same sort. I knew 
him very well. He brought a large family from Thome 
to Greasbrough, about 1796, and commenced a boat- 
building establishment by the canal side. He was a 
mere working man ; how he raised the means to com- 
mence business I cannot tell. He was a remarkable 
instance of honest persevering industry, combined with 
many humorous and jovial characteristics. Though the 
sound of the boat-builder's hammer has loug since ceased, 
and though the canal itself has disappeared, John's son, 
John, still lives in the same house, highly respected. 
Elliott found out old John Woffenden in some of his 
fishing rambles, which he was fond of taking up the 
Greasbrough canal. If I mistake not, my own personal 
knowledge of the poet originated while pursuing the 
same art, in the same locality. I should then be about 
ten or twelve years old. He would be eighteen or 
nineteen. 

Mr. Elliott had a younger brother, named Edward, 
who attended a school at Greasbrough, during part of 
the time that I was serving my apprenticeship there. 
As our shop was near the school, and as we occasionally 
worked for the family, this Edward used frequently to 
spend his hour of noon with me in the shop. To 
show how Ebenezer was regarded at home, I may name, 
that this boy always spoke of him in more affectionate 
terms than he did of the rest. If he had to mention 
anything which had occurred at home, of a pleasing 
character, Ebby was sure to have been the hero of the 

a sample of what lie (Woffcnden) could do in the boat-building 
line ! His lordship was so pleased with it, that he made Woffenden 
his boat-builder ; and Elliott relates this very questionable circum- 
stance, with a little dash of triumph, in his autobiography. 



HIS FAMILY, AND FEIENDS. 257 

circumstance. This trifling evidence does not justify 
Ebenezer's idea of his own dulness. 

My next recollections of Ebenezer Elliott are those 
of frequently meeting him when newly married, with 
his young wife by his side, on the Sunday morning, on 
the Greasbrough road, as I went to Masbrough chapel. 
Sometimes he would be alone, and either musing aloud, 
or occupied in evident but silent contemplation. Those 
who have only known him during his later years, cau 
have no conception of the perfectly erect gait, and stylish 
dress and air which he then manifested. 

Mr. Elliott, like his father, always knew the value 
of money, and the difficulty of getting and keeping it. 
Notwithstanding, he failed in business. While Ebenezer 
and Giles were yet young men, Ebenezer, by arrange- 
ment, took to the entire business of the foundry. The 
father had the shop to himself; and GUes commenced a 
similar ironmongery concern at Doncaster. Poor Giles, 
who had early contracted intemperate habits, soon blighted 
his own prospects. This unfortunate propensity, with 
its consequences, was a source of great grief to the 
family, and, perhaps, most of all to the fond and sensitive 
heart of his brother, the poet. Meantime, Ebenezer 
found that a large payment which he had agreed to 
make to his father and brother on their separation from 
him, was more than he shoidd ever have undertaken, 
and its consequences more than he could long contend 
against. He gradually sunk, and became, I believe, a 
perfect specimen of an honest bankrupt. Poor Ebenezer ! 
His heart was long and sorely rent ; nor had he then the 
consolation of knowing how Providence was preparing 
him to be the consoler of thousands who should be fixed 
in similar circumstances. 

The first indication which I received of Mr. Elliott's 

z 2 



258 KECOLLECTIONS OF EBENEZEE ELLIOTT, 

poetic character, was from The Iris newspaper. I have 
little notion of the date of the circumstance, but it is a 
great many years ago. Mr. Montgomery was then 
editor of The Iris. Some poetry appeared in the corner 
of the paper usually appropriated to it, headed "Night," 
and introduced by the editor in words like these: — 
' The following lines are from a beautiful, but unpublished 
poem, called < Wharncliffe, ' by Mr. Ebenezer Elliott, of 
Eotherham." The lines were the concluding paragraph of 
the above-named poem; and they now stand on the seven- 
teenth page of Tait's edition of Elliott's Poetical Works. 

"Without any knowledge of particulars, but rather 
judging from incidental remarks and allusions which I 
have frequently heard him make, I believe that after his 
unfortunate fadure, Mr. Elliott had to struggle hard for 
a considerable time under its consequences. At last 
he received essential help in an extraordinary way. His 
name, as a writer, was becoming known, if not to the 
world, at least, among a circle of literary men ; and the 
late truly-generous Earl Fitzwilliam being aware of his 
difficulties and his merits, voluntarily remitted to him 
a considerable present. This, I have heard the poet say, 
saved him from final ruin. 

It was after Mr. Elliott had been several years in 
Sheffield, that my attention was called to one of his 
earliest published volumes, containing, among other 
poems, " The Village Patriarch." The man who showed 
it to me was Mr. Samuel Crooks, Bookseller, then of 
Eotherham, now of Chester ; and. because he knew I 
could not afford to buy it, he kindly (after pointing out 
some of its beauties) lent it me out of his shop, that I 
migbt have an opportunity of reading it. 

Soon after the date of the last-named circumstance, 
Mr. Elliott's name had become far better known. A 



HIS FAMILY, AND FKIENDS. 259 

small local publication called "The Wath Magazine," 
to which I had contributed, introduced me to Mr. Larett 
Langley, of Brampton, who was its principal editor ; of 
him I borrowed a thin volume, consisting chiefly of 
Elliott's short and striking poems, called " Corn Law 
.Rhymes." Mr. Langley was an excellent critic of lan- 
guage, as well as a judge of general literature ; and he gave 
me a deep impression of Elliott's composition, independ- 
ently of his political views and feelings. This, together 
with my previous knowledge, both of the man and his 
works, caused me to take the volume home from 
Brampton, with the expectation of receiving a rich treat, 
and I was not disappointed. I read the poems over, 
one after another, first to myself, and then to my wife 
and children. As the subjects were chiefly suffering 
poverty, of which we had been, and still were, large 
partakers, they suited us amazingly. We sympathized 
with the poet, even tearfully, because he sympathized 
with us. An honest-hearted old collier, worn out with 
a life of hard work, and who was then a pauper, and 
frequented my little shop as a place for pastime, wept 
again and again, as I read the passages to him. In fact, 
though some of Ebenezer's strong expressions at first 
rather shocked my religious prejudices, I was not long 
before I venerated his character, as I should have ven- 
erated an old inspired Hebrew prophet. 

I am not aware that I had hitherto been personally 
known to Mr. Elliott. Soon after I removed to Sheffield, 
which was in January, 1833, I saw him for the first time 
after many years. He was walking up Barker Pool, towards 
his own house, and I was walking behind him. Instead 
of the straight and upright figure which I had still 
retained in the eye of my memory, I was amazed to see 
a bent and time-worn man. I wished much to speak 



260 RECOLLECTIONS OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, 

and make myself known to kim, but could not find a 
pretext to do it at tkat time. Subsequently, I kaving 
publisked some lines in The Sheffield Iris, wkick kad 
tke good luck to be slightly admired, and kaving kad a 
few copies of tkem struck off for private circulation, my 
friend, Dr. Gr. C. Holland, persuaded me to call on 
Elliott, and present one to kim, togetker witk kis (Dr. 
Holland's) compliments. I did so, and was received 
witk extreme courtesy. As to my verses, I know not 
wkat extravagant tkings ke said about tkem. I recollect 
ke ended by telling me, that I kad tkrown botk 
Montgomery and kimself into tke skade ! * Of course 
I was not so foolisk as to swallow tkis nonsense, literally ; 
yet, I confess, I was not only muck pleased witk kis 
kind reception, but a good deal intoxicated witk tke 
praise. Wkat poor scribbler could kave been otkerwise ? 
I soon learned to value Mr. Elliott's off-kand flattery 
more at its real value. Tet tkis injudicious way of 
buoying people up, I always tkougkt one of tke irrecon- 
cilable tkings in my friend's conduct. It is true, after 
one knew kim better, tkere was a way of getting at kis 

* This was a grave fault of Elliott's. He praised young authors 
so indiscriminately, that he did immense mischief; and often 
encouraged talents which would have been more profitably em- 
ployed in blacking shoes than in soiling paper with bad rhymes. 
I once remonstrated with him for persisting in this injurious 
habit, and his answer was : " I do not like to give pain. Writing 
will do these poor devils no harm, but good, and 3ave them from 
worse things." My reply was : "But your criticisms are not just, 
if they were, they would be serviceable." "But," he said, " these 
scribblers don't want justice, but praise ; and if my praise can do 
them any good, they are welcome to it." This was bad enough, 
and I think unpardonable. Yet Elliott was a true critic when 
he pleased to be so, " but not to fools," as he emphatically said. 

J. S. 



HIS FAMILY, AND FRIENDS. 261 

real opinions ; but the enquirer must be himself capa- 
ble of reasoning, and of putting this and that together. 
It is but justice to say, that I had afterwards many 
proofs of honest criticism from him, which, by -the -by, 
were not so pleasant, if more useful. 

From that clay — I say it with gratitude, as well as 
pride — Mr. Elliott waa my friend. One thing which 
helped to keep up and increase our intercourse, was the 
circumstance, that while I was the assistant-secretary 
of the Mechanics' Institution, he was, at the same time, 
a member of its committee. I had not been very long 
known to him, before I gave him to understand that I 
had formed some excellent acquaintances among the 
members and managers of the Institution, one of whom, 
particularly, I should much like him to know. "When 
I mentioned the name, I was glad and surprised to 
learn that he already knew and appreciated him. Those 
who know anything of me and my associates will scarcely 
need informing that the individual meant was my still 
highly-esteemed friend, Mr. John Fowler. Mr. Elliott 
immediately gave a hearty invitation to his house for any 
or all of us. This was the origin and commencement of 
many pleasant meetings and excursions, and of at least 
sixteen years of varied but always satisfactory intercourse 
between the poet, myself, and four or five others. 

With regard to myself, I will diverge from my subject 
so much as to say, that I had now, as far as interesting 
associates went, satisfied a craving which I had long 
experienced. For many previous years I had vainly 
sighed for congenial society. As for literary genius, I 
had once been greatly pleased to walk sixteen nnles to 
look upon and listen to James Montgomery. Now, I 
was an honoured member of a voluntary and select band, 
any of which were capable of literary appreciation, and 



262 RECOLLECTIONS OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, 

exercise too, and numbering one of almost world-wide 
fame. I can look back to the time to which I am allud- 
ing, and see how crude many of my own notions were, 
and how vaguely my principles were jumbled together. 
Having led more than twenty years of my previous life 
as a conventionally religious man, but having recently 
had my orthodoxy shaken by reading and study, I was 
just then a curious medley of doubt, conjecture, and 
speculation. My naturally strong religious feelings had 
given way, and I was bewildered, something like a certain 
personage in his celebrated journey through chaos ; first, 
I was lifted up by some ideal "nitrous cloud" into the 
third heaven of speculation ; and, anon, dropping into a 
"boggy syrtis" of despair. In this condition, I am not 
aware that I could have met with a more efficient help 
than Mr. Elliott proved to be. "Whatever the world may 
say to the contrary, he was a deeply religious man ; and 
when deep feeling comes to be appreciated as a better 
test than mere profession of belief, religion like his will 
not then be questioned. 

In one of the letters which I had the pleasure of 
receiving from him, Mr. Elliott states, that nearly all 
his poems originated in real circumstances. I had 
conjectured that such was the case, before he told me. 
"The Jacobin's Prayer," I think, is no doubt made 
up of curses and singularly-expressed wishes which he 
had heard over and over from his own father. The 

backing of 

" His war-horse through the panes 
Of quiet people who had brains," 

was an incident in the old man's history ; and the 
cursings, after the fashion of David, King of Israel, 
are no less genuine remembrancers, to all who knew 
anything of old Ebenezer, the Ironmonger. 



HIS FAMILY, AND FRIENDS. 263 

Those who did not personally know Mr. Elliott, will, 
of course, have learned from his writings how much the 
iniquity of the corn and provision-restricting laws were 
hated and condemned hy him. But such persons cannot 
be fully aware of the extent of his feeling, and the 
occasional frenzy of his excited powers, when the subject 
was introduced in conversation. One of the individuals 
whom I alluded to as belonging to our literary and social 
circle, was the late lamented Mr. Francis Fisher. This 
amiable young gentleman, though not then in the regular 
ministry, was in the habit of preaching at Stannington, 
and various places, in connexion with the Unitarians. Of 
all benevolent, truth-loving individuals, I never knew his 
superior. Mr. Elliott thought equally highly of him. 
Though extremely modest, Mr. E. was fond of preaching, 
and of talking about his sermons, and Mr. Elliott had 
invited him to read one of them to a few of us, at his 
house, at Upperthorpe, one Sunday afternoon. After the 
sermon, which was a real good one, and whde the party 
were engaged in conversation, it happened that Mr. 
Eisher, who did not think exactly with Mr. EUiott on 
the subject, by some allusion or other, introduced his 
view of the Corn Laws. I shall never forget the scene 
which followed. It was tremendous. He had evidently 
allowed his mind to get over-balanced by strong and long 
continued excitement. Half an hour, however, set all 
right again ; the poet was as gentle as a lamb. 

In conversation, Mr. EUiott was what a reader of his 
works would have expected him to be. No one who 
has studied his poems would imagine that he was a 
loquacious person. He thought too well, and selected 
his language with too much care, to be always talking. 
Perhaps, in the art of condensation, he never had his 
equal. It is certain, that in this power he even sur- 



264 RECOLLECTIONS OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, 

passed Burns. It will be easy to conceive, that to such 
a thinker, and to such a master of language, mere talk 
would be very annoying. 

Perhaps it was owing to his systematic mode of think- 
ing and speaking, that one often got a glimpse of what 
he was contemplating in his study, even before he 
formally announced it. "While the thoughts which were 
intended to live were becoming clothed in language 
whose beauty would stereotype it, he not unfrequently 
allowed the newly-coined ideas and phrases to emanate 
beforehand. I have frequently been struck while reading 
his last published piece, to find one or other of its most 
striking passages already tingling, as it were, in the ear 
of my memory, from their repetition in recent conver- 
sations. If I am right on this subject, and I think I 
am, it not only shows how rich he was in material for 
thought, but how carefully he husbanded that material, 
and how economical even genius sometimes is. 

The first appearance of the late Charles B-eece Pember- 
ton in Sheffield, was an event which influenced Elliott both 
immediately and in its consequences. Pemberton had 
previously written the Pel Verguice Papers, and other 
things which had raised his name high in the esteem of 
an influential class of literary men. One of his first 
enquiries, on reaching the town, by the hills of Norton, 
was for the Mechanics' Institution. His next was for 
Ebenezer Elliott. I believe their first meeting was at 
Mr. Elliott's warehouse. Such persons needed no intro- 
duction. They . had been acquainted before they met ; 
and, if a personal recognition, increased their mutual 
attachment, it no more altered its nature than it origin- 
ated the feeling. Mr. Elliott hailed with increased 
delight every subsequent visit of the distinguished 
di'amatist. During Pemberton' s long and painful illness 



HIS FAMILY, AND FRIENDS. 205 

Elliott cheerfully joined Sergeant Talfourd, W. J. Fox, 
Dr. Holland, and many other sympathising friends in 
their efforts to promote his relief and recovery. 

How Pemberton's death affected Mr. Elliott all his 
friends know who have read his touching and beautiful 
lines, entitled " Poor Charles." I have often thought 
how highly and appropriately honoured the memory of 
Pemberton was, in Finsbury Square Chapel, on that 
Sunday morning when those lines were sung to music, 
composed for the occasion by the sweetly-gifted, now 
deceased, Miss Flower. I will here quote the verses : — 

POOE CHARLES. 

" Shunn'd by the rich, the vain, the dull, 

Truth's all-forgiving son, 
The gentlest of the beautiful, 

His painful course hath run ; 
Content to live, to die resign'd ; 
In meekness, proud of wishes kind, 

And duties nobly done. 

A godlike child hath left the earth ; 

In heaven a child is born : 
Cold world! thou could' st not know his worth, 

And well he earned thy scorn ; 
For he believed that all may be 
What martyrs are, in spite of thee. 

Nor wear thy crown of thorn. 

Smiling, he wreathed it round his brain, 

And dared what martyrs dare ; 
For God, who wastes not joy nor pain, 

Had armed his soul to bear : 
But vain his hope to find below 
That peace which heaven alone can know; 

He died, to seek it there." 

A A 



2GG RECOLLECTIONS OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, 

Poor Charles, indeed ! Elliott long mourned his distress- 
ing illness and his painful wanderings. If, however, his 
spirit could feel a sense of recompense in heaven, for his 
earthly sufferings, it must have been in looking down and 
witnessing such a trio of geniuses as Elliott, Fox, and 
Elower, surrounded, perhaps, by the most intellectual 
Christian congregation in the world, all conspiring to 
honour his memory. 

At the time when the "Working-men's Associations" 
were first formed, for the improvement and subsequent 
enfranchisement of the working classes, Mr. Elliott, like 
the rest of us, joined in the project, heart and soul. He 
wrote for us, spoke at public meetings, joined our sub- 
scriptions, and laid himself out in every possible way to 
advance the cause of the people. "While such men as 
William Lovett guided the movement, nothing was 
wanting on Elliott's part. As soon, however, as the 
demagogues got the upper hand, and physical -force 
became the order of the day, Elliott knew better than to 
allow his name to remain attached to such a debased 
and ruined cause. He withdrew, like many more, in 
utter disgust. 

It is a fact that will perhaps astonish some people, 
to know that Elliott, as a writer, is very little known, 
and poorly appreciated, in Sheffield. Had he not been 
a politician, and sometimes a public speaker, thousands 
of his townsmen would never have known him at all. 
One apology may be made for this apparent apathy, 
namely, the prodigious condensation, and consequent 
frequent incomprehensibility of his style. This is 
peculiarly applicable to many of his political epigrams, 
and such short pieces as often appeared in the news- 
papers. I need not say to such as have read him 
thoroughly, that lie sometimes wrote as effectively to 



HIS FAMILY, AND FRIENDS. 2G7 

the plainest understanding, and as touchingly to the 
most rustic heart of nature's true child, as either Scott, 
Burns, or Shakspere. But this was far from being 
always the case. From experience, I can say that the 
common understanding frequently failed to comprehend 
him at the first sight. Many were the occasions on 
which I laid down the newspaper or magazine, resolving 
that, at last, Ebenezer had written something which 
I could not understand, and of course, could not like. 
I scarcely need add, that in every instance, I found the 
fault was in my own dulness, and that the persevering 
intellect was always rewarded. Many of his readers, 
however, wanted the interest which I felt ; they merely 
wondered what he aimed at, and laid aside the paper. 
Though every one acknowledged his merit, it is with 
him as it has often been with others — popular opinion 
follows that of acknowledged literary authority. Popular 
opinion would raise a monument to Elliott ; but more 
because his name is in every newspaper, than because 
the populace have read, understood, and appreciated 
him. It is true, it was very different, if the lines coming 
under observation were such as " Hannah Badcliffe," 
"The Home of Taste," "The Dying Boy to the Sloe 
Blossom," and other pieces of a similar popular character. 
The above was one reason why Elliott was not univers- 
ally appreciated; but there were others. A man who 
does not support conventional interests, but rather takes 
every opportunity of opposing selfish and oppressive 
authority, is sure to make himself many enemies. And 
the greater the power he brings to bear against the evils, 
the more he will be slandered and persecuted. It will 
be easily seen, that his energetic zeal manifested against 
the Corn Laws, would cause his name to be hated by a 
larsfe and influential class. But neither was this the last 



268 RECOLLECTIONS OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, 

reason. Ebenezer Elliott was not religiously orthodox. 
It would not have signified much had he been a mere 
practical atheist ; that is, if he had forgotten that there 
is a God in heaven ; if he had overlooked the oppressed 
and the oppressors on earth. He might have done all 
this, and have been one of the boon associates of these 
professedly orthodox Christians ; but he could not let 
tyranny and hypocrisy alone. Like an inspired bard, 
as he was, he told the tyrants the truth, and they hated 
him, and called him an injidel ! Shame on the calum- 
niators ! If ever a Christian heart beat in a human 
bosom, it was in that of the Corn Law Ilhymer. It will 
never be forgotten, that when Ebenezer Elliott, in the 
year 1839, simply sought admission to the Sheffield 
Literary and Philosophical Society, the members of that 
society black-balled him ! 

As a member of the Mechanics' Institution Committee, 
Mr. Elliott constantly exerted himself, energetically and 
effectively, for its welfare. His course of Lectures on 
" Poets and Poetry," part of which were published in 
" Tait's Magazine," were written for and delivered to the 
Mechanics' Institution at our request. Eor a consider- 
able period he devoted much of his time in waiting on 
manufacturers and neighbouring gentlemen, on behalf of 
the fund for the erection of the building in Surrey Street. 
Nor did he withhold his money. Besides his name being 
in the highest list of annual subscribers, he gave several 
special donations. 

The circumstances which led to Mr. Elliott's removal, 
with his family, from Sheffield to the neighbourhood of 
Grreat Houghton, as they were related by himself, deserve 
recording. I think it was in the ante-room of the Com- 
mercial News-room, High Street, that he gave me the 
following account. "Many years ago," he said, "while 



HIS FAMILY, AND FRIENDS. 2G9 

he was waiting to transact some business at an office in 
East Parade, Sheffield, being seated with his eye towards 
tbe churchyard, he observed a dog gnawing a human bone 
which had been flung from a new-made grave. Being 
nervously sensitive on such subjcts, he turned away with 
the greatest disgust, and was for some time agitated dis- 
tressingly. He immediately determined that if ever he 
became able, he would purchase at least as much land as 
would afford himself a quiet grave." 

He next went on to tell me, " that a few days ago he 
had gone down to Eotherham, for the purpose of transact- 
ing some business with Mr. Benjamin Badger, auctioneer. 
AVhen he got to Eotherham, jM r. Badger happened to be 
in his auction-room, attempting to sell a few acres of land, 
which he described as lying on the edge of Houghton 
Common. For a short time he (Mr Elliott) walked 
about outside tbe room ; presently some one spoke to 
him of what was going on within, and of what an excel- 
lent bargain a person might make avIio had the means and 
the inclination. His old determination to become a free- 
holder came into his mind. He stepped in, and, if I 
mistake not, Mr. Badger personally addressed him on the 
unmistakable chance of a cheap pennyworth. The land 
was described as to situation, extent, what part was 
arable, what was covered with a small wood, etc. Mr. 
Elliott concluded to make a bid. He did so, and suddenly 
became possessed of a laud estate." At the time he 
related these circumstances, he had been over to look at 
the property, and was still evidently pleased with his 
bargain ; talked of making a good deal of the purchase- 
money, by clearing the land of wood, and of the probability 
of his building himself a house, and going to live upon it; 
all which, time and his own energies brought to pass. 

To show that his idea of a rural and private grave was 

A A 2 



270 RECOLLECTIONS OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, 

a serious desire of his mind, I may mention that he once 
wrote a most feeling letter to Mr. Fowler and myself, 
wherein he manifested an earnest wish that if it was 
possible his remains might be buried under a certain tree 
on the top' of Shirecliffe. For our guidance, he had 
marked the tree by driving a nail into it. Under this 
tree, he told us, and around it, was the ideal scene of the 
Sunday morning preaching of Miles Gordon, the Eanter. 
And a glorious scene it is truly; the most interesting, 
perhaps, of any around Sheffield. Nearly every hill, and 
wood, and spire, and monument, which he enumerates in 
the poem so beautifully, are not only to be seen, but, with 
their picturesque associations, fully justify his glorious 
description. 

I have often thought, while reading this poem or think- 
ing about it, that had Ebenezer Elliott been somewhat 
differently educated, he might himself have made the very 
prototype of Miles Gordon. Had his strong religious 
feeling only been guided in a more orthodox channel, that 
same feeling, combined with his great benevolence and 
firmness of character, would have fitted him for any work 
of love and self-denial. Respecting his wish to be buried 
beneath the Gospel Tree, who can blame him, after con- 
sidering how interestingly dear his musings must have 
made the scene to his own heart ? How such a project 
was ever to be accomplished, without the concurrence of 
the members of his own family, was another thing ; we 
never enquired, however ; concluding that not to oppose 
him peremptorily, but to let the matter die away out of 
his mind, by means of time and other circumstances, 
would be the best policy. 

I recollect that a little while before he left Sheffield I 
made a kind of casual and slight request to Mr. Elliott, 
that he would sometime give the particular list of friends 



HIS FAMILY, AND FRIENDS. 271 

amongst whom I ranked myself, and whom he had so 
long distinguished by a degree of attachment, the further 
honour of being knit together by means of a few verses 
of his valued rhymes. It is unnecessary to acknowledge, 
on my part, a degree of vanity in this request. I hope, 
however, it will be deemed pardonable. My veneration 
for a real poet has been profound, ever since I became 
acquainted with the writings of Cowper, Goldsmith, 
Young, and Montgomery, in my youthful days. "Whether 
Mr. Elliott again thought of my request, or whether it 
went out of his mind, and the idea originated some other 
way, I know not ; but after he had resided awhile at 
Houghton, having occasion to write to one of our party, 
namely, Mr. Michael Beale, watchmaker, about a new 
watch which he was thinking of purchasing, he took 
occasion to accompany his letter on business by the 
following copy of singular verses.* The piece has never 
been published : — 

THE WORLD'S BEST. 

" Said the world's best of men (to the knowing, known well 
As a fish that could swim with the stream) 
Let us sing to the glory and praise of oursel' 
My ninety-ninth hymn on that theme. 



* I hope the reader will pardon me for inserting these question- 
able verses. They are however so highly characteristic of Elliott, 
in his free moods, and possess such real merit, and, what is singular, 
humour, also, that I felt I could not omit them without manifest 
injustice. Effusions of a similar nature will be found amongst the 
poems of Burns, and I must plead this precedent in my own justifi- 
cation in the present matter. 

J. S. 



272 RECOLLECTIONS OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, 

I cannot conceive how a wise man, (can you ?) 

Could differ from me and do well ; 
Eor my god, Prudence bight, is a god well to do, 

Alias, Marry Tak' Care o' Mysel. 

The best of all maxims is " Keep what you've got " 

Says Marry Tak' Care o' Mysel ; 
So I keep to myself what I know, and know not, 

Or they who know nothing, would tell. 

While my tongue is as close as my fist, taking care 
That I seem to know more than is known, 

Who suspects that my treasures, pick'd up here and there, 
Are bits of fios silk and staiu'd bone ? 

God curse that John Fowler, and cobbling old Paul ! 

They would teach beggar's boys to know more 
Than your deep gifted men, who know nothing at all 

About Freedom, and such beggar's lore. 

My servant mate, Kit, turns her nose up at me ! 

The tinner's blear' d lad as I pass 
Cries, "Who'll buy a bag of sloe-leaves for bohea? 

Here's the elephant goose, in an ass ! " 

The Devil take Fisher and Lowe, with their zeal 

For the love of the lovely and true ! 
And burn in his pit, Spencer Hall, and Mic' Beale ! 

What have I with their rambles to do ? 

Yet I'm blamed by Hell-thunder the parson, who sees 

That e'en Kitty comes seldom to pray : 
I'd have her devout, as my mare's broken knees, 

Why is she not, d — n her ? I say. 

I ask'd her last night, "Why in duty so slack ? " 

" He calls us base scum ! " she replied ; 
But we're good as his master, and not quite so black, 

And we don't curse the chaise, if we ride. 



HIS FAMILY, AND FRIENDS. 273 

Now, God in his mercy, confound squinting Sam, 

For lending her " Nature Revealed ! " * 
But they'd both be religious, as I myself am, 

Were I king while two backs could be peeled. 

For they're both gone astray from the fold to the den ; 

From the saints and salvation they're flown ; 
From Wesley and Heaven, to the chapel of men, 

AVhere the Devil is preached by his own." 

Although Elliott was deficient of the humour necessary 
to create a " Sir John Falstaff, " or even a " Tain 
o'Shanter," he was by no means without humour, as 
the above, as well as several of his publications prove. 
It never was matter of surprise to me that he thought 
he possessed more of it than he really did; for I have 
known many instances of self-deception on this very 
point. That he thought he had humour, the following 
extract from one of his letters will show. After finding 
fault with one of my rhymed epistles, for want of humour, 
he says : — 

" I intend to ' shame the fools' who say I have no 
humour, by transcribing the ' Gipsy,' and sending it to 
John Fowler for his opinion. t But once again, and once 
for all, I disclaim all personal allusion in that poem. J 
Like most of my poems, it is a result of observation, and 
not more personal than the least personal of them 
all." 

* " Nature, a Revelation." 

t He had a high and just opinion of Mr. Fowler's judgment. 
But though he sent the poem as proposed, and promptly received a 
full acknowledgment of many of its peculiar beauties, he was not, I 
believe, gratified with an unqualified confirmation of his own 
opinion. 

X I had previously intimated that the poem contained personal 
allusions. 



274 RECOLLECTIONS OF ENENEZER ELLIOTT, 

On the subject of humour I shall be excused in tran- 
scribing part of another letter, as no mean proof that he 
was not entirely without it. I had sent him a printed 
copy of an account of a pleasure excursion among the 
hills and dales of Derbyshire. The passage may not suit 
every one, but we shall never all think alike ; and Elliott, 
I am sure, would have been the last to make light of what 
he conscientiously deemed sacred subjects. Here is 
Elliott's letter:— 

" Great Houghton, near Barnsley, \M7t Oct., 1846. 

" Dear Mr. Rodgees, 

" I wronged all the souls in my carcase, (if any are left,) 
when I thought I was forgotten even of Paul. 
" Thanks for your ' Days in the Dales,' and — 

" When next you mount your one-horse chay, 
May I ride with you all the way. 

* * # # 

" Railway trips to the moors not heing yet the fashion, and 

economy being, of course, an object with all poets, I suggest an 

improvement on the one-horse chaise. As Sheffield poets (unless 

they are altered) sometimes travel on the Sabbath, I think we might 

prevail on a certain personage, who shall be nameless, to constitute 

his back our locomotive, when next we go a picturesquing. We 

might hold on by his tail; taking care to grease it first, that we 

might slip him at his hall door,* if he took it into his head to carry 

us further than we bargained for. Ask Fowler what he thinks of 

this plan ? 

" Ebenezee, C.L.R." 

As a writer and public speaker Mr. Elliott was truly 
no respecter of persons. Although their well-known 
champion and defender on most occasions, when he saw 
the people in the wrong, as he frequently did, he no more 
flattered them than the rest. It is well recollected in 

* The Peak Cavern, at Castleton, called by the vulgar "The 
Devil's Hole," " The Devil's House of the Peak," etc. 



HIS FAMILY, AND FRIENDS. 275 

Sheffield how indignantly he hurled his ue against the 
physical-force Chartists. The Socialists, too, had little 
mercy at his hands. Two or three of the latter sect were 
well known to him. On a subject, however, of such vital 
importance to the interests of society, no associations of 
friendship, or worldly consideration, blinded him to the 
truth, or prevented him from uttering its dictates. 

Mr. Elliott's judgment on public matters and questions 
of business I always thought varied a good deal. I know 
not whether it was that he did not, in every case, bring 
the whole of his powers to bear on the subject before 
him, or how it was, but while his perception and decision 
seemed now and then faulty, generally and most especially 
on points of importance, his judgment was clear and his 
mind foreseeing. Perhaps he was sometimes warped by 
prejudice. I think it is clear that he was so on subjects 
connected with the conduct of the aristocracy. He had 
contemplated their occasional baseness, till he suspected 
them in everything. On the subject which he studied 
well he almost always decided right. Being very attentive 
to his business, I believe he seldom committed business 
errors. 

With regard to Mr. Elliott's frame and figure, he has 
been sorely handled by the painters and engravers. 
Those who never knew him ought to be told, that the 
published portraits convey scarcely any idea at all of the 
man. The one in Tait's copy is a mere scare-crow. 
On the first publication of the volume, he kindly sent 
several copies as presentations among his friends. I 
recollect he told me in a note accompanying mine, that 
he "had touched the portrait up a little." And so he 
had, with a strong hand, for he had made the eye-brows 
and hair stand staring out like the prickles on a hedge- 
hog. I should not now, however, be soon induced to 



276 RECOLLECTIONS OF EBEKEZER ELLIOTT. 

part with the valued relic. The portrait of him by- 
Margaret Gillies, in "Howitt's Journal," may be a better 
picture, but is still less like him. It is amusing to read 
Mr. Howitt's congratulatory remarks upon it. He says : 
" Here he sits, in his own proper likeness, as he sat on 
that pleasant Sunday morning in January last." Mr. 
Howitt thought so, or he would not have said it ; but 
" God forbid," say Elliott's friends, "that such a common 
looking thing should be taken for anything resembling 
Ebenezer Elliott." Among the engraved portraits, the 
one which conveys the best impression of him, is that 
in the first volume of his works, published in 1833. 
Mr. Elliott's head was not large; and he often said, 
that supposing it true that he had something in it, its 
want of size belied phrenology. His frame was energetic 
and wiryj more remarkable for nerve than sinew. In 
youth, as I have said before, he was singularly upright, 
like a little man who did not wish to lose a hair's-breadth 
of height. As age came on, he became a little bent, a 
good deal bleached, and wrinkled ; and altogether carry- 
ing the appearance of a weather-beaten, care-worn man. 
Tbe last time I had the pleasure of seeing him, was the 
day on which he planted a tree, by request, in our 
Botanical Gardens. 



CORRESPONDENCE. 



CORRESPONDENCE. 



The following characteristic letters were addressed 

to Mr. George Tweddell, editor of " The Yorkshire 

Miscellany." 

" Great Houghton Common, near Barnsley, 

\Zth Avgust, 1844. 
" Dear Sir, 

" I feci honoured by the receipt of a letter fom such a man 

as George Tweddell. But it grieves me to say that I have no 

unpublished non-political poem, except one which is 300 lines too 

long for any magazine, and having been written as an experiment to 

combine the humorous and the beautiful, by a writer destitute of 

humour, is, of course, a failure. I will send you something soon, 

if I can bring my drape of a muse to her milk again. But what 

can you expect from an old bitch past bearing ? I set her to work 

for you last night, and she conceived and brought forth certain 

glimmerings of moonshine, but of such a red, ferrety, anti-corn-law 

hue, that I put them into the fire, without at all weakening the 

flame. She is like the painter who could paint nothing but red 

lions ; if she tries to paint angels, it is plain at a glance that they 

come of red lions, let the lady say what she will. Perhaps the 

truth is, that I am humbled by the excellence of the poetry in your 

magazine. Who is Sylvan? I have long suspected that I am 

nobody in such company. The author of ' The Island of Demons,' 

gone to the Capulets, was assuredly somebody. 

' Why should futurity give nie or thee hopes, 
WTien not a pinch of dust is left of Cheopes ? ' 

Oould we persuade some other great folks to suspect that they are 
not gods, but mortals of the useless species, our bread-taxers would 
be much wiser and happier devils than they are. 

" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

" Ebenezer Elliott. 
B B 2 



282 CORRESPONDENCE. 

" I am uiiwilliug to depress you, yet I must in honesty say, that 
you cannot succeed without a miracle, and miracles are no longer 
wrought, except for the strong. No town out of London, 
(Edinburgh excepted) has been able to support a magazine; not 
Manchester, nor Liverpool ; it is whispered, not Dublin, though, 
like Edinburgh, a metropolis. 

"E. E." 



" Great Houghton, near Barnsley, 8th Jan., 1845. 
" Dear Sir, 

" If I have not sent you a contribution, it is because I have 
not been able to write one likely to be of service to you. The only 
things I have sent to the press during the last three years are 
failures, extreme in their politics. Indeed, I did not leave Sheffield 
before my energies had left me. I need no bookseller, and have 
none, for the only book I buy is a weekly newspaper at second hand. 
But that I have read a few articles in the Westminster Review, I 
might say that I am newspaper taught, and after passing a very 
active life, I cannot read without being ill. I am sorry you blame the 
people for not helping you : famine is helping hundreds of thousands 
of them into the grave, and the survivors will be more to be pitied 
than the dead. * * I have tried in vain to obtain a subscriber 
or two for you. I live surrounded by several hundred acres of 
wood, nine miles from the nearest market town, with three neigh- 
bours in the circuit of a mile, reading no book but Old Moore. 
With Roseberry — with the whole district of Hambleton, Helmsley, 
Guisbrough, Rosedale, Eskdale, — I am much better acquainted than 
I dare try to be with these police-haunted woods, and farmsteads 
tenanted by unliveried dependents of palaced paupers. Alter or 
omit the lines in your poem which refer to your detracters. Why 
stand on your defence without occasion ? Live them down, or die 

them down. 

" I am, dear Sir, yours truly, 

"Ebenezer Elliott." 



" Great Houghton, 25th Feb., 1845. 
" Dear Sir, 

" I thank you for your favour of the 20th instant, and 

gladly subscribe for your friend's ' Songs of the Heart,' heartily 



CORRESPONDENCE. 283 

wishing him success, though the days of verse are numbered. My 
Sonnet on the Dearne is utterly worthless. In ' Tait' there are 
one or two good ones of mine, addressed to our friend Thomas 
Lister. You will find him in many respects remarkable — a 
courageous, energetic, gristle-bodied man, with a bump of * I'll 
have my own way,' bigger than a hen's egg, on his summit-ridge ; 
his face is handsome, except the eyes, or rather their position, 
which is cavernous ; the eyes themselves are keen and characteristic ; 
his lips are beautiful. If there is truth in phrenology, his observant 
faculties should be strong and active, as his writings seem to prove. 
If I had known such a man forty years earlier, I could have climbed 
Ben Lomond with him , for, with the assistance of my hands, I 
could then have sprung over such a man. But well-a-day! 

' My hair is grey, my blood is cold, 
The minstrel is infiriu and old.' 

" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

" Ebenezer Elliott. 
" I shall be glad to see you in my den, but home-brewed I have 
none. When I married ' Ar Mester,' she agreed that she would 
have two bairns, a lad and a lass, and the best home-brewed ale in 
England. She more than kept her promise as to the bairns, for 
they came so fast that they stopped the brewing." 



The six subsequent letters, addressed to Mr. Isaac 
Ironside, the leading Socialist of Sheffield, and for a 
long time Elliott's friend and business agent, will show 
how determined was the hatred with which Elliott 
regarded the communistic ideas and communism. I 
will insert them according to their dates. 

" Sheffield, 10th March, 1834. 
" Sir, 

" My son Ben advises me to have nothing to do with your 

meeting. Why, he asks, should it be called ? If your object is 

to prove me wrong and Owen right, why did you not do so long 

since, before all England ? Instead of doing so, what have you 

done ? You have used the worst fallacies, and the worst language, 



284 CORRESPONDENCE. 

of your worst enemies, the Tories, for the purpose of bullying a 
man whom you cannot refute, and whom you would not attempt to 
bully, if you were not dupes. And who are now your allies ? The 
Patrons of Blackwood — the bread-tax-eaters themselves ! ' Why,' 
my son asks, ' should Ebenezer Elliott encourage a set of hulking 
idlers to come here with the money of the Charles Street Gang 
under their tongues, and an endless farrago of abuse and common- 
place plausibilities at the end of them, all got by rote ? ' Is it 
worth a public meeting to give certain geese an opportunity of 
crowing like cocks, if a man, who so far from being a public 
speaker, despises both the babble and the babblers, should not be 
able, or willing, to outgabble half a dozen deluded fools, and 
perhaps half a dozen vile hirelings beside ? Hirelings? Yes. You 
say your parent society has now plenty of money. Whence comes 
it ? If you are sold, who bought you ? Where are the accounts ? 
I don't like mystery. My conduct in your society has been 
straightforward and undisguised, and you have suffered it to be 
misrepresented. But my opinions are before the public. And 
your barrister — the greatest goose of Manchester and Salford — has 
taken good care not to re-publish them. As to your plan of what 
you call Regeneration, the more impracticable it is the better, 
provided you act upon it, instead of talking about it. In all the 
circumstances — a late motion in the Commons on the Corn Laws 
included — perhaps you cannot do better for all England than follow 
the advice of Owen and Fielding, Do so, in sufficient numbers, 
and the bread-tax-eaters, whose dupes you are, will awake with a 
start ! There will be no occasion then to ask either you or them to 
rid the Corn Laws ; they will then be got rid of with a vengeance." 



The following letter, from Mr. Ironside of Sheffield, 
has been alluded to in the ' Memoir,' and will be read 
here with interest, as an explanation of the above 
letter : — 

" Sheffield, June 23rd, 1850. 
" My deae January, 

" I was on intimate terms with Elliott when he wrote me 
the letter in 1834. Its roughness was caused in the following 



CORRESPONDENCE. 285 

manner. Owen had been here lecturing in favour of the National 
Regeneration Society : Elliott heard him. A committee was 
formed, which met at my house. At one meeting, Elliott produced 
a memorial to Owen, a beautifully done thing, w^ith far more love 
in it than he could afford to objects of which he disapproved. He 
moved its adoption ; tried hard ; but, on a division, was floored. 
He and the minority signed it and published it in The Iris for 
February, 1834. I have recently read it, and trust it w r ill be 
exhumed when his life is written. He told me, with some dis- 
pleasure, that he should have carried it in the committee but for 
me. On its publication, the central committee wrote me, and old 
Pitkethly, of Huddersfield, came, and we agreed to send Elliott a 
challenge to meet Condy, a Manchester barrister, in public discus- 
sion on the subject. I did so, and in my letter told him that he 
would run no risk of expenses, as we (meaning the Sheffield com- 
mittee) would guarantee him as we had plenty of money. It had 

been subscribed by ourselves, not given. He was so fairly and 
fully met, mat nis ire was roused, and he wrote me as you see, 
making a dishonest use of what I had said. What you knew of 
him would teach you that he was an unscrupulous opponent 
where free trade was concerned : we soon got round again, 
however. I cannot concentrate my mind to read much, but I 
read your book. Perhaps my love of the man was one reason. 
On the whole, I think you have given a fair description of him. 
The personal sketches are very graphic and life-like. I was with 
you throughout your described visit. The dog, and the canary 
which hopped from my head to his and back, the mound, the com- 
mon, woods, etc., all were as familiar as possible. I saw him vividly 
when ridiculing mesmerism. He was not truthful where his pre- 
judices or free trade were concerned. He never would admit that 
you had any power over him, although his wife and daughters 
assured me it was so ; but they did not like to irritate him. You 
have hit the striking inconsistency in his character. As a man, he 
wept for the miseries of the poor, and would have done anything 
for them ; as a political economist, he left them to its mercy. To- 
wards his later years, he began to see that free trade was not the 
only gospel. He would admit this inferentially in conversation, 
while, at the same time, he would be wTitiug as furiously as ever in 
its favour, and mauling anything not in strict accordance with his 



286 CORRESPONDENCE. 

notion of it. In my reply to his letter criticising ' England the 
Civilizer,' I told him that the principle of trade therein embodied 
was far superior to his e Fair exchange of positive surplus, value 
for value.' This, I told him, was fair trade, and was preferable to 
free trade. 

" He saw communism arising inevitably, and was enraged that he 
could not stop it. He told me not to be surprised if I heard of 
him burning the Bible, because its principles were essentially com- 
munistic* His wife has frequently begged of me not to discuss 
with him, as it excited him, and he could not bear it. I used to 
retreat under shelter of a headache, which he regarded as a proof 
that he had silenced me, although my obstinacy would not allow 
me to be convinced. 

" On the appearance of ' Bully Idle's Prayer,' Goodwyn Barmby 
wrote an answer in the same style, commencing thus : — 

' Lord send Elliott his reason.' 
T>-..-„l,_ ^.:„1, „j „,„ i, _,i. u .\,„„„4-„;i ;„ Win TnJenpnrle'nt wTiaw flip 

'Prayer' had first appeared. Leader declined. So did The Times. 
I went to Houghton, intending to have it out there. On reading 
it to the wife and daughters they earnestly begged that I would not 
read it to him. I did not like to give it up, but could not with- 
stand their entreaties. I eventually gave it to Dr. Watts to get it 
in The Manchester Examiner. They however, declined, and it has 
not yet been published." 

" Yours right truly, 
"January Searle." "ISAAC IRONSIDE." 



" Great Houghton, 29th September, 1847. 
" Dbab Sir, 

" Your favour of the 21st instant, with your correspondent's 
article on ' Railways and Bullionism,' reached me in a parcel from 
Sheffield on the 28th instant, and my house being fidl of visitors, 
I cannot give it at present the consideration which the vast import- 
ance of the subject demands. But I have attentively read the 
paper, and find that the writer is wrong from beginning to end. An 
issue of the stuff, which he is pleased to call money, might increase 

* This was one of Elliott's extravagances. He would not hare burnt George 
Sand's ' Cousuelo,' much less the Bible. 



CORRESPONDENCE. 287 

Railway speculation, and would enable some speculators to get out 
of their dirt-holes ; hut it is capital — not what is called money — 
that is wanted to complete railways. A few years ago, railways 
offered the only feasible investment for surplus capital in food-taxed 
Britain ; but so slowly was that surplus produced, that even the 
Midland was executed with difficulty. Yet now, when the compar- 
ative safety with which accommodation bills, endorsed by Joint- 
Stock Banks, can be re-discounted, has facilitated undue speculation, 
he would increase the evil! He talks, too, of one pound notes 
circulating with sovereigns ! Can you tell me where the sovereigns 
would be found, and at what price purchasable in six months after 
the appearance of the notes ? I can tell you who would take good 
care of them, and sell them at a profit (30 per cent, perhaps), 
especially if Tony Lumpkins' cousins wanted (what they always 
want) a foreign war. Thank God, the notes would not do much 
throat-cutting out of Britain ! It is painful to think that the only 
use he makes of his free trade argument is to sustain a sham. Now 
free trade means ' Something for Something,' but accommodation 
bills, if receivable by the tax-gatherer (which is all that your 
friend's security implies), means an increase of taxation ! and finally, 
' Nothing for Something,' as poor Louis the Sixteenth's red necklace 
dismally proved. But the fact suggests a very important question." 



" Great Houghton, 20th September, 1848. 
" Dear Sie, 

" I shall never be able to repay your kindness. You have 

behaved like a father to me, and whenever I speak of you in future 

my speech shidl be in this wise, ' Our father Ironside ! ' 

" I have delayed answering your favour of the 10th August, in 
the hope that I should have good news to tell you, and give my 
opinion of 'England the Civilizer,' the brave, wise, and most 
tolerant authoress of which extraordinary book deserves and shall 
have a re-perusal before I presume to pronounce on its merits. (! !) 

" If you can spare the bath please place it at my debit, as it will 
be useful to my family. I ceased to use it on Saturday la3t. It 
has driven the blood, accumulated by the straining, from the seat 
to the back, whence I hope the constitution will be able to distri- 
bute it through the system. I shall recover I am told. The truth 
is, I improve desperately. I suffer great pain, and after losing more 



288 COEEESrONDENCE. 

than twenty-eight pounds in weight, I continue to lose weight at 
the rate of about one pound weekly. You cannot fatten calves in 
that way. If I am not removed suddenly, I shall last till April next. 

"I wish to be buried in my skin at the foot of Lord Galway's 
ash tree here ; my folks are all for holy ground and costs. Bother- 
ham churchyard being full of corruption, and one of our clergymen 
happening to be here, I have been trying to bargain with him for a 
grave at Darfield. Could you think it ? Sinking the offal, it will 
cost ten shillings for the use of the ground alone. 

" If you know any poor devil who meditates rusticide (or death 
by living in the country), kill him with his granted wish ; sell him 
the estate you have bought. Though as a country residence near 
Sheffield, it must be dog-cheap at the price you are to pay for it, 
you will not like it. The approach to it is a thoroughfare crossing 
your threshold ! If you have bought the rising ground beyond the 
wall, in front of the cottage, you may enclose a portion for lawn, 
etc., and so remove the road a few yards from you, and be able, 
right and left, to see approaching rascalry, which will be a great 
satisfaction ! Help-seeking friends, also, will visit you, under pre- 
tence of seeing Wiming, and desolation beyond it ; but you will not 
be able to say, with the earnestness of the smoke-dried rhymer : — 

" ' I thank ye, billows of a granite sea, 

That the bribed plough, defeated, halts below ! 

And thanks, majestic Barrenness, to thee, 

For one grim region in a world of woe, 

Where tax-grown wheat, and paupers will not grow.' 

"I have before me a wood-cut of great George (the man!) 
Stephenson. The expression of the countenance is more than 
beautiful — almost divine, godlike in its calm and thoughtful sim- 
plicity. If Phidias had left us such a head and face of Jupiter, 
the world would never have tired of praising it. 

" Eemember us to your excellent wife ; and if you see sweet 
sister Kate, tell her she will hear from me in a few days." 



" Great Houghton, 20th November, 1848. 
"Deae Sir, 

" I return you three books, and show my gratitude by 

advising you to lend no more. At Sheffield I made it a rule to 



CORRESPONDENCE. 289 

lend the book that instructed me. When I came hither, intending 
to use my books, I found that I had lent and lost the very books 
which I most wanted. 

" I have been much pleased with the ' Irish Lyrics,' and am a 
thought richer for reading them, having contrived to steal a thought 
from one of them without robbing the author. 

" I hardly know whether Henry Sutton's book* or Fanny Wright's 
is the more extraordinary. May they ever continue to be singular 
exhibitions of talent, labouring to be absurd! He, I am happy to 
believe, will not be able to make man in the image of his conceit, 
nor she in that of her bigotry. 

"Puzzled by 'England the Civilizer,' I gave it, I am sorry to 
say, a second and very careful reading. Two-thirds of it, at least, 
consist of wearisome repetitions ; explanations which do not explain ; 
and pompous truisms not worth asserting. She exchanges one word 
for another, and thinks she has done something. Instead of govern- 
ment, she says, we are to have administration — government using 
things, and administration men ; what the latter are to use, except 
things, I cannot see. The only point that she proves is, that (not 
England but) Italy, has been the civilizer ; and she repudiates the 
only power that ever did, or can improve the condition of mankind; 
that power, whose last invented tool — the rail — has done more in 
ten years for the emancipation of the human race, than unaided 
agriculture (which means linger-grubbiug for pig-nuts) could in ten 
thousand." 



" Great Houghton, 2nd January, 1849. 
" Dear Sir, 

" A plague on all your houses ! Your Hall of Science, your 
Chapel of Jabez, your Church of Peter, your House that Jack built, 
and the House that Martin stole. The result of Neddy's general- 
ship will be a 6s. duty. For this end, (affirming the deadly prin- 
ciple of protection,) the monopolists have retained the Is. duty. 
That duty — though as a revenue duty it will only produce £400,000 
a year, even if our yearly imports are 8,000,000 of quarters — wdl 
be a class-tax of £2,500,000 a year, and consequently a 6s. duty 

* It is but right to add here, that Elliott afterwards acknowledged he had 
been unjust to Sutton. 

C C 



290 CORRESPONDENCE. 

will be a similar tax of £15,000,000. Lord, have mercy on us, or, 
ere long, England will be (for years to come) from sea to sea, a sea 
of blood and fire. Why fight a battle, useless if won — and if lost, 
fatal ? " 



" Margate Hill, Barnsley, 5th Oct., 1849- 
" Dear Sib, 

" I thank you for your favour of the 2nd, covering the 

balance of account to 30th Sept, last, £20 2s. 6d. 

" Though I despise the nonsense of Communism, think not that 
I despair of man's federation. No, brother ! read, as I have done, 
(for I have had the honour of reading the proof sheets,) in, I 
believe, the forthcoming number of the ' Westminster Review,' an 
article on ' Human Progress,' one of the most eloquent and encou- 
raging productions ever w-ritten. The author is, perhaps, our 
greatest living mechanician, (and certainly one of our greatest 
living benefactors of his kind) a Communist, worthy of any good 
cause. 

" In his choice of an habitation he has proved the adaptability of 
communal principles to individual taste. Living in the kernel of 
London, he breathes a pure atmosphere, commanding from his 
windows perhaps the grandest and loveliest prospect in the world ; 
and with all the advantages of the highest civilization, within a few 
yards around him, enjoys (for to him it is enjoyment) the absolute 
solitude of an anchorite ! He fives on the eighth and highest 
landing of a huge pile of buildings, a portion of the roof of which 
is his yard : the infinite blue kisses his noble forehead ; and beneath 
him flows the Thames, with its universe of life and motion. 

" If you will contrive to quote the above at a public meeting, 
you will advertise the book, and give the good cause a shove ; for 
all your 'shorts' are reported — I grieve to find you spinning long 
yarns. 

" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

"Ebekezeb Elliott." 



The four next letters were addressed to Mr. Paid 
Rodgers of Sheffield. 



CORRESPONDENCE. 291 

" Hargale Hill, near Barnsleg, 2'drd Jan. 1M9. 

"Dear Paul Rodger?, 

" You know Mark Gregory, then ? You cannot know a 

I or man. And so the son i* gone before the sire. Well, it lifts 
me up to learn that he left love and means sufficient to bring his 
poor remains home for interment. Then God speed your ' Word 
for the Poor.' But why the poor ? Nay, they are the rich ! the 
richest ! 

" Your song i3 very pleasing, and if it will sing, you ought to 
crow ! I cannot write anything that will sing, because, I am told, 
I will not suffer each succeeding stanza to be like the preceding in 
rhythm. But the truth is, head-work is not heart-work. 

" I think I have written some poems here which excel all un- 
published doings. The last and best is a long narrative, or rather 
only a part of one, yet in itself complete. I have a capital knack 
of writing poems in three parts, and leaving two of them unbegun; 
the day of epics having gone by, and an abortive epic being the 
very thing I will not do. The scene is at Conisbrough, many cen- 
turies before the Christian era. I have taken the liberty to suppose 
that the Vale of Don and Dar, from Wath to Cadeby, was then a 
lake, with a little Niagara at the east end. 

" Give my respects to Mrs. R. and to all your family, and to 
John Fowler, our son ' by better ties than blood.' I suppose he is 
by this time John Fowler, Esq. Never mind. I shall touch my 
hat to him, as I did to Jemmy Teapot, who nodded not again. To 
be sure, I had told him that he would go the carriage-road to God. 
" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

"Ebenezer Eleiott." 



" Kargate Rill, near Barnsley, 2Uh Aug. 18-i9. 
"Dear Sir, 

"My master-critic says, 'your narrative has no characters, 
unless your Derbyshire emigrant is a character; and if he is, his 
dialect is his character. The story, however, is not, she thinks, 
less true to nature on that account ; for, in her opinion, sacks 
stuffed with straw, if they could talk, and were numbered 1, 2, 3, 
or 3, 2, 1, might pass for men, as well as nineteen-twentieths of the 
human beings we meet with. If so, Carlyle is right, and we must 



292 CORRESPONDENCE. 

wait not for circumstances, but the man, who is to make and be 
them." You've nae sic cricket i' your town. 

" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

"Ebenezer Elliott." 



" Great Houghton, near Barnsley, \f>th July, 1848. 

" Dear Sir, 

" It is a comfort to see again this hand-writing. To meet 
the writer, and the friends named, in Wentworth Park, would be 
a greater blessing still ; but it is not to be. Not that it might not 
easily be. I should only have to take a teaspoonful or two of 
laudanum ; but I should suffer great pain afterwards — to say 
nothing of the horrid ' black-drop muddle.' 

" My present disease (the only serious one I ever had) is imputed 
to the influenza, which again and again attacked me some months 
ago. I believe it commenced before I left Sheffield. The feeling 
of suffocation which generally followed my speechifying there, was 
premonitory of it, and of the slow breaking up of my constitution. 
It will end either in apoplexy or consumption. 

" You say nothing how you and Fowler are, and what you are 
doing or meditating. No evil, I am sure. Has he left the Insti- 
tution ? 

" My ' People's Anthem,' it seems, is printed. I wrote it at the 
request of one of Mr. Willowby Wood's brothers, who said he 
would set it to music. Perhaps ' People's Doings ' have changed 
his mind. He suggested alterations essential to the tune ; and I 
send you a corrected copy in the hope that Mr. Leader will print 
it for the note's sake. 

" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

" Ebenezer Elliott." 



"29t7iJuly, 184,8. 
"Kind Apostle, 

" Do not suppose that you always go without me on your 

excursions : ' I inherit your wanderings, and am still.' Might I 

recommend to you, for a iveek-day out, a visit, by rail, to the 

Etherow Viaduct ? On to Dunwell, that you may know what 

barrenness is, and be thankful ! 



CORRESPONDENCE. 293 

"Thank Mr. Fowler for me; but T did not fear that he or you 
would forget me. 

" The wording of my ' Home of Taste ' might justify The Daily 
News in their interpretation. They have, however, misunderstood 
me. I did not mean to give the workman a Home of Taste, but 
to let him earn one ; permission to do so being really all that is 
wanted. And this brings me back to the note appended to my 
' People's Anthem,' in Tlie Independent : it does not say all that 
I ought to have said. Add as follows, after me, whenever you 
have an opportunity; never mind whose thoughts they are — 1 
would fain atone for original sin before I die : — 

" ' The right to vote for members of parliament is founded on 
property and knowledge, that property and knowledge which every 
self-sustained person possesses in the labour and skill which enable 
him or her to live ; and taxation and represeutation ousrht to be 
co-extensive, because taxes are paid by self- sustained persons alone. 
The pauper, be he palaced or hovelled, pays no taxes ; the murder- 
ous protectionist, be he voter or legislator, none. Little knows the 
latter, if he is rich, for whom and what he has been an impoverisher ; 
and woe be to hiui and his appropriations, if his folly and wickedness 
are to be much longer misruling forces.' 

" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

"Ebenezee Elliott." 



The following letters, addressed to tlie Author of this 
volume, will explain themselves, although nothing but an 
anxious desire to place Elliott truly and faithfully before 
the public could have induced him to publish them. 

" Great Houghton, near Barnsley, 29th July, 1848. 
" Deab Sir, 

" In the land of palaces and jails, where poverty is a crime, 
I would not say to everybody what I am about to tell you. If I 
could well make ends meet, you would not need to ask me to sub- 
scribe for your book.* I should have done so already, for you have 

* The book alluded to is called " Essays, Poems, Allegories, Fables; with an 
Elucidation and Analysis of the ' Bhagavat Geeta.' " John Chapman, Strand, 
London. 

2 c c 



291 CORRESPONDENCE. 

been heard of, even in this wilderness ; but I ought not to afford 
it, and the book itself would bear witness against ine. I could 
driuk a glass of rum in the city of cornstacks, and fear no informer ; 
but your book would remain with me, and say as plainly as words 
could, ' This fellow, who is indebted to his butcher for two months' 
meat, has expended 10s. in silent conversation with the best thoughts 
of January Searle, thirty miles hence.' It would enlarge this ' cloud 
of witnesses,' this assembly of souls, (blessed companions, who 
never quarrel with me, and never mean to betray me, though they 
betray,) this library — which must have cost my poor family at 
least twenty pounds. 

"Should we ever 'grip fists,' (which is not likely,) the 'knuckle 
sparks' will hardly be mine, for my hand is all but that of a corpse. 
" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

"Ebenezeb Elliott." 



" Great Houghton, near Bamsley, 6th Aug. 1848. 
"Dear Sib, 

" Do not despond : think nothing impossible if your hand- 
writ iug can be read: what a d d inconceivable, unfathomable 

autogulph it is ! 

" The railway speculation will absorb every spare penny for some 
time to come ; and the publishiug trade is always the last to mend ; 
but it will mend. I have written a volume of far better verse than 
auy I have printed ; and though I am notorious, if Dot famous, 
I doubt whether I could at present find a publisher who would risk 
it, and divide profits But verse has now absolutely no reading 
public. You are wise in mixing prose with your verse. I would 
have done so, and it woidd have been of some use, if I could have 
prevailed upon Tait to be of my opinion. I know nothing of his 
successors. I lately sent them some verses of the politico- 
economical species, (which you know will not keep;) whether 
they printed them or not, I don't know. 

" I have always eggs, bacon, and a spare bed, and should be glad 
to see you, if you could come and stop a day or two, though I 
should be poor company. Dou't come if you mean to hurry away 
again in a few hours. 

" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

" Ebenezer Elliott." 



CORRESPONDENCE. 29.*> 

" Great Houghton Common, near Bamsley, 

23rd August, 1848. 
"Dear Sir, 

" Every work of art ought to tell its own story. If it need 
explaining, the artist has to that extent failed. And as you par- 
ticularly allude in your Eclogue* to one lady only, the words ' her' 
and 'she' must, in strict construction, apply to that lady. There- 
fore when it receives your final corrections, you should inform the 
reader that not the matron but a maiden sat for the portrait which 
■ you have so beautifully painted. 

"I have read 'The Gala' with great delight, and if I ever come 
your way, I will endeavour to see Kirklees. What is the name of 
the nearest station ? 

" I know not whether I like best your prose or your verse. In 
both you are often remarkably felicitous! 

" In the second sentence of your preface I find a slight inaccuracy, 
two other errors in page 17, and a fourth in page 27. I mention 
these trifles, because 'the country's eyes is on us.' 

" Instead of stating what was not true, you should have apos- 
trophized your absent friend, and said, ' How happy he would have 
been to be with you, and you to see him.' 

" Your comparison of the Institute with the old monasteries is 
grand as the sleep of the latter. 

" I have heard of one ' Pan,' and I think I see a pair of ' young 
rogue's eyes' asking if he was a fiddler? Your mention of him 
reminds me of an incident in the life of a mayor of Doncastcr, who 
had received a letter from the then prime minister, Lord Shelburne. 
' Shelburne ! Shelburne ! I don't know him. Shelburne ! Shel- 
burne ! He buys no bread at my shop.' 

"Verse ought to be equal, as language, to the best prose. 

' Unfather'd, save by him and God in heav'n,' 
though bad, woiild be better than 

' All fatherless, save God in heav'n and him.' 

" Can false natural history be true poetry ? Flowers burn, and 

* This poem is called "The Eectory in the Yale of Trent," and is included, as 
all the other pieces are to which Elliott alludes in these letters, with the exception 
of the " Gala," in the " Essays " published by Chapman. 



296 CORRESPONDENCE. 

are cool. I am not aware that I ever saw the hyacinth, violet, 
kingcup, primrose, and harebell, blooming together. You may 
think I like to find fault. Never with fools. I think you are 
capable of doing the true, and I therefore exercise on you the 
pedant's privilege. But your philosophy is as mischievous as your 
natural history is incorrect. He ' who pays wages for work,' has 
not, on that account, any right to ride his fellow-men. The paid 
and the payer are quits. By one act good is done to two parties, 
and evil to nobody. You a hater of tyranny ! and teaching the doc- 
trines of a slave ! If your wish is to instruct the rising race, I can 
— but that I fear to offend you — name a book that might teach you 
the A B C of your business, the Corn Law Catechism ; a book that 
contains more thought than any other book of this century. Still, 
and for ever (with such books unread) shall the people's teachers 
continue to be, like Cobbett and Howitt, all fingers and no wrist ? 

" There is power in your lines which associate the localities of 
Bobin Hood's life with his grave : they exemplify the fusing power 
of genius, and I have seldom read sweeter poetry than your reflec- 
tions on the graveyard of the convent ; but — and I hardly know 
why — I don't like the word 'promiscuous.' Nor can I bid you 
good bye, without blackballing ' iEolus.' The devil take him, and 
all the breed of him, including his relations ' Nimp' and ' Dryhead.'* 
If they were otters or badgers I could understand them. And the 
devil take all comparisons that do not dlustrate, or (better stall,) 
demonstrate something, like Colonel Thompson's. Bead him, you 
b — ch, if you would be Amazonian. 

" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

" Ebenezee Elliott." 

* "I beg pardon of these folks. ' Nymph ' and ' Dryad ' is the proper spelling." 



" Great Houghton Common, 26th Aug. 1848. 
"Dear Sir, 

" In criticising any poem, really such, I coidd find in my 
heart to be hypercritical ; because, while fearing that poetry bas 
seen her best days, I am unwilling to conclude that her days are 
numbered, and that the ' old melody ' will soon be heard no more 
for ever. Living in an age of poetical unbelief — and which boasts 



CORRESPONDENCE. 297 

that it has outlived the 'artifice of verse ' — we ought to have faith 
in a precept of old Isaac Walton's, which applies equally to verse- 
making and angling. ' When you use your worm,' said he, 'put 
him on the hook as if you loved him.' So he who, in these days, 
professes to write poetry, should write it as if he were writing for 
his life. Yet I could point out in your poem, lines which are not 
verse of any kind. You, I doubt not, wrote them with a purpose. 
But I have no faith in what are called imitative verse : consonantal 
English is harsh in itself: to write musically is our bow of Ulysses. 
Do not, however, misunderstand me. Your versification usually 
sings your thoughts well. 

" The paid and the payer, you admit, are quits ; and yet you talk 
of the payer's 'mastership;' a heresy too widely believed to need 
inculcating, and which must be abjured if either of the parties is to 
be a man. If neither of them is to be a man, I can understand why 
one of them is to luxuriate, or wallow in the insolence of condescen- 
tion, at the expense of the others. 

" I requested my daughter, at Sheffield, to look at your piano, 
and she writes me, in reply, that her brother has given £20 for a 
new one, on which she is practising. 

" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

"Ebenezer Elliott." 



" Qreat Houghton, near Barnsley, 2nd Sep, 18-48. 

" Dear Sib, 

" Late events seem to be verifying your prediction ' that 
Germany has an important mission to fulfil in the world.' The 
authoress of 'England the Civilizer' has also risked some predic- 
tions which have already received startling confirmation. 

" I don't like your ' Bridge of Death.' When you sat down to 
write it, you were in search of a great victim for execution. So, 
you said mentally, ' Dilly, dilly, duckling, come and be killed!' It 
came, alas ! and frightful work you made of it. I know nothing 
like it but Frank Alsop's sermon, when he preached before the 
blazing tar-barrel. ' Terrible work ! Woe to the wicked ! None 
of your works ! None of your works ! Damn your works ! Free 
grace is all.' 



298 CORRESPONDENCE. 

" You never, I am sorry to say, write lines of ten syllables pro- 
nounced in the time of nine. The effect of such lines is always 
bad, and no precedents can make it otherwise. Lines of eleven 
syllables pronounced in the time of ten, have often a good effect, 
as the following line from Gray, and your general practice prove : — 

' Full many a flower is born to blush unseen.' 
Here the words ' many a' form a dactyl — three syllables pronounced 
in the time of two. Of all arts and mysteries there is scarcely one 
that requires so long an apprenticeship as this beggarly trade of 
poetry ; and you are an envious villain for having learned it so well. 
" But, Lord be thanked, you are not faultless. I defy you to 
make verse of any kind, by any seaming, of any one of these lines 
from 'The Gala :'— 

' With the great glad blessedness of knowledge.' 

'Honest John, plain-spoken as a bell.' 

* Lies stained with coloured Are in the sun.' 

This last is a line of nine syllables, pronounced in the time of ten. 
The effect is that of offering a fourpenny-bit for sixpence. 
" I am, dear Sir, your much gratified faidtfinder, 

"Ebenezer Elliott." 



" Great Houghton, near Barnsley, 11th Sept. 1848. 

"Dear Sir, 

" I have seldom read better prose than your essay on 
' Prayer and Other Things.' It is more poetical than any of your 
mounted poetry that I have yet seen. And in my cabbage book, 
(I am naturally a tailor,) ' formality is selfishness on stilts,' stands 
at your credit. Lord, if that book were fairly posted, what a tale 
it would tell about the originalities of — you know who ! 

'"Long, long ago,' (perhaps fifteen years,) when food-taxing 
and much-mortgaged Chandos, (grieved to see anything eatable 
escape his maw,) had been accusing his victims of luxurious living 
and want of forethought, I prayed aloud in the presence of eight 
or ten thousand Sheffielders, in Paradise Square assembled, ' That 
he might live to know what it is to be poor.' Though a murmured, 
yet sublime ' Amen ' responded to me, persons present, (and 
afterwards persons not present,) called me 'monster!' with the 



CORRESPONDENCE. 299 

Bftving clause of, 'if not madmau.' But God heard my prayer. 
I then ought not to say that supplications, addressed immediately 
to him, are useless. The following, however, is my creed, and it 
probably differs little from your own : ' The only true, because the 
ouly useful prayer, is that which human beings, (after vainly doing 
their best for themselves,) address to their fellow creatures for 
assistance. And it justifies begging ! unless desperate people are 
to be forced on that awful, and sole remaining alternative, which 
they have full the same right to use, that a drowning man has to 
catch at a straw.' 

" Your constant teazer, 

"Ebenezeb, C.L.R," 



" Hargate Hill, near Barnsley, oth Oct. 1848. 
" Dear Sir, 

" As an ultimate corrective of blunders, I have written an 

account of my boyhood and youth — say a history of the education 

of my mind — and made a present of it. Of course I could not 

comply with your request, without destroying the value of the gift. 

But if you like you may speak of me thus : ' Ebenezer Elliott, 

the Corn Law Rhymer, a poet of the people if ever they had one, 

was born at Masbrough, in March, 1781. He is the second son of 

a commercial clerk, who had eleven children, and a salary of £70 a 

year. The bard, when a boy, was so dull, or so inattentive, that at 

last he was thought incapable of learning anything at school. 

After being sent to two schools, with little or uo result, he was 

allowed to have pretty much his own way. To this circumstance 

he attributes any merit he may have displayed. Thrown on himself, 

he learned to think for himself; and in God's good time saw the 

necessity of educating himself. His merit, such as it is, is his own, 

for, says he, I earned it ; and T have heard his wife say that he has 

to thank himself only for all that he knows. His laziness never 

could learn grammar ; but he can correct inaccurate language by 

reflection ; and he thinks he writes better English than some people 

who teach Latin. There is nothing remarkable in his personal 

appearance, except, perhaps, his gentle manners. He has neither a 

shoulder like a leg of mutton, nor a hinder-end broader than a 

blacksmith's bellows. He is five feet seven inches high, and slimly 

rather than strongly made. His eyes, dim aud pale, kindle wildly 



300 CORRESPONDENCE. 

sometimes. His features are harsh, but expressive and not unpleas- 
ing. On the whole, he is just the man, who if unknown, would 
pass unnoticed anywhere.' 

" Say for my book what you can, and for or of me the less the 
better. People are dog sick of the topic. 

" I still suffer great pain, and lose a pound in weight weekly. If 
not removed suddenly by this dizziness, or by this fluttering, I shall 
last till April. 

" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

"Ebenezer Elliott." 



" Great Houghton, near Barnsley, 7t7i Oct. 1848. 
"Dear Sir, 

" "What you have to say of me will not be complete without 
this addition, which you can use or not : — 'He is a politician and a 
poet. With his politics, you know, I have here nothing to do. 
Poets, you also know, are iisually people who having expressed in 
verse thoughts not fit or not good enough for prose, get pensioned, 
or die in the workhouse. It is a real distinction to the Corn Law 
Rhymer, that in his grey hairs, and in the land of palaces and 
workhouses, he is not either a pauper or a pensioner. Tired and 
comparatively poor, but self-sustained, like one who after hard 
labour reaches his home and rests, he sits on his own hill-top.' 

" Yours very truly, 

" Ebenezee Elliott." 



" Hargate Hill, near Barnsley, \Zth Nov. 1848. 
"Dear Sir, 

" Though I am becoming great in the peg line, having lost 
two front teeth since last Wednesday, I think I could yet make 
your 'Discourse on Plutarch' tell in a Mechanics' Hall. Oh, that I 
were conditioned to recite it, Roary O' Thunder, before a thousand 
radicals! I have read it to Mrs. E. and my younger daughter, 
who both say they know not when they had such a treat before. 
It is indeed a noble oration. I greatly like your style. None of 
your sentences are too long ; and your short ones give time to 
breathe. Some of your passages are perfect music. Verse to the 
devil, then! you can write prose. But can you afford such com- 
positions ? 



CORRESPONDENCE. 301 

"I have, so far, kept my carcass out of the cask filled with 
the black droning stingers, that eat the honey of all workers, and 
poison what they do not devour. 

"I have quoted from the letter of a lady-friend a passage very 
like one of yours, in my preface to a poem, or rather trilogy, in 
twelve books, of which the first part in four books is finished and 
complete in itself. Whether I proceed or not with the remaining 
two parts, I shall want defenders; for the action is placed in 
eldest time, and yet the characters, etc., I am told, are rather 
modern; but I think with you, 'that he who speaks truly to one 
age, speaks truly to all ages.' Shall I do this into verse ? 

' He truly to all ages speaks, 
Who truly speaks to one.' 

"I have lost five pounds since I weighed last, and am now just 
ten pounds heavier than cuckold's weight. 

"I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

"Ebenezer Elliott." 



" Hargate Rill, 20lh March, 1849. 
"Dear Sir, 

"I said in my heart, 'Where is he? Surely the city 
of counties, the swallower of giants, hath gobbled him up, 
and evermore to be forgotten by him is the lone hill and its 
grasshopper.' 

"Come when you may, you will be welcome here, and I hope 
I need not say how glad I shall be to see you if, when you come, 
I am in the land of the living. 

"I rejoice to hear that you are progressing. Who is Troup? 
Tait's editor ? As I see neither Tait's nor Blackwood's Magazine, 
let me know when anything of yours appears in either, and I 
will buy the number. 

" We have not seen the second part of the Banquet of Plutarch ; 
but we have been contrasting your prose style with that of a writer 
in ' The North British Review,' who seems determined to burst his 
readers with his long-winded sentences, and interminable wordiness. 

" Of an epic in three parts, each complete in itself, to be called 
respectively 'Etheline,' 'Konig,' and 'Telmerine,' I have finished 
the first part in four books. I mean it to form portion of a volume 
of prose and verse which I am preparing for the press ; but, alas! 

D D 



302 COEBESPONDENCE. 

in such discredit is political honesty, that I doubt whether I shall 
be able to find a publisher, even on the principle of sharing profits. 
" One of my daughters-in-law, going to the West Indies, said to 
me, ' Write me a song.' So I said I would, and I did do. You 
live in the land of ' Great Sings.' If it will sing tell me. You say 
nothing of your lecture on the Greatest Goose. 

" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

" Ebenezer Elliott." 

MAEY. 

Tune — Limy ago. 



" Sing her a song of the white-headed one, 

Gone, gone before ! Gone, gone before ! 
Sing to her tears of the Sire who is gone ! 
When to come more ? Never more ! 
Heart-breaking sea, when she weepeth alone, 
Tell his sad child that the white-headed one 
Went to the grave blessing her who was gone, 
Wide, wide waves o'er ! wide waves o'er ! 

II. 

Now sighs the widow unto the lone sea, 

' Bring her again ! Bring her again ! 
Sea, let the sad find a true friend in thee ! 

Bring her again ! Soon again ! ' 
Wild was the parting, but may there not be 
Tears which are blissful ? when sings the old sea, 
' Mother and child, thank the good God for me : 
Meet, meet again ! Meet again.' " 



" Margate Hill, Barnsley, 30th March, 1849. 

" Dear Sib, 

"Easter Sunday at latest—and dinna forget. 

" Your ' Ballad History of the Norman Conquest ' gives me a 
higher conception of your poetical likelihood than anything else 
of yours that I have seen. It proves you to be a poet. But our 



CORRESPONDENCE. 303 

noble fourteen syllable line, which young bards chirp instinctively 
(though there is 'thunder on its tongue" capable of earthquake 
impression, yet,) having but two notes (B and C) would be intol- 
erably tiresome in a long poem. The first part of my three-in-one 
poem is written in a ballad measure, or rather in ballad measures ; 
the longest lines containing nine syllables. But I purpose to write 
the second part in our heroic Iambic, rhyming irregularly, (and 
not at too long intervals,) running the hues into each other, as 
the most eloquent of poets does in the fourth canto of his ' Childe.' 
" I am, dear Sir, yours truly, 

" Ebenezeb Elliott." 



" Hargate Rill, near Barnsley, 12th April, 1849. 
" Dear Sib, 

" I have tried all I know at Rotherham and Sheffield to get 
'The Christian Teacher,' from which Mr. Howitt, in his 'People's 
Journal,' picked the pretty. It cannot be had at either of those 
places. But it was edited at Manchester by an Unitarian minister, 
and I think a letter to some Unitarian minister there or there- 
abouts, would procure you such numbers of it as relate to me. My 
best cricket (the angel of my hearth) having objected to the song 
I gave you, I enclose it, corrected by her. 

" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

"Ebenezeb Elliott." 

SONG. 

I. 

" DoNOtTGHT would have everything ; 
Eat the lark, and use its wings ; 
Sip the sweet, and be the sting : 
Donought is the only king. 

II. 

Donought is an alchemist ;* 
Hencock is a communist ; 

* Alchemist, or thief, he must be : or how does he live ? 



301 CORRESPONDENCE. 

Idlehead is heavy-fist ; 

Will's a right-line — with a twist. 

III. 

Hark ! the throstle ! what sings he ? 
' Worm, my beauty, come to me ! ' 
Yet all lovely things are free ; 
Chain'd and happy ! can it be ? 

IV. 

See the daisies, how they grow ! 
When they list, the breezes blow : 
Why can't weary man do so ? 
All enjoy, and nothing owe ? 



' Mouth, keep open ! Eyes, be shut ! : 
Take no care for back or gut : 
Best of women is the slut ! 
Hey for cattle, cook'd and cut ! " 



" Hargate Hill, near Barnsley, 22nd June, 1849. 

"Dear Sir, 

" It is quite true that I have been so ill as to be scarcely 
able to say I was alive, and also true that laudanum must be making 
havoc of my intellectuals, if I did not answer your letters. Men- 
tally, I am quite sure, I answered them, thanking you sincerely for 
them, and all your kindness ; but I can find no copy of my answer. 
How kind it is in you to think of a poor broken-down man like 
me ! You are close upon some of the finest scenery in England ; 
scenery which I have long purposed to see, and which I will see, if 
I live another year. 

" Southey thought Gordale Scar finer than anything of the kind 
in Britain. Ingleborough ! MalhamTarn! MalhamCove! Kilnsey 
Pike ! all in a ring of twelve miles ! But the fall at Malham, 300 
feet high, is worth seeing only after a heavy rain. Is Dr. Carlyle's 
residence in Huddersfield ? What is the price of his translation of 
Dante? I will strain a point to buy it, if it is not very high. 



COKKESPONDENCE. 305 

Two and a half years ago, when I first sought medical aid, my 
disease was curable. I have discovered the cause of it — constriction 
of the great gut, threatening closure, and a death of torture. Talmer 
died of it, eight inches of the rectum having closed ! It is now, 
perhaps, incurable, but mitigation is still possible, and such com- 
parative relieve from pain as will allow mo to prepare another 
volume for the press. You see what I am made of: I talk of 
myself. You think of me, and how you can serve me. God 
bless you. 

" I am, dear Sir, yours truly, 

"Ebenezer Elliott." 



" Hargate Hill, 3rd July, 1849. 
" Dear Sib, 

" Alas, then, the water-cure does not cure you ! ! ! Cold 

immersion would not cure me. Could you describe the process of 

water-cure ? I have cold water here ; better, none anywhere. But 

if I could get 'dacent 1 I would try Scarborough. 

" Both Tait and Bulwer have asked me to perform the task you 
set me. I never could set about it ; and at the risk of being 
thought ungrateful, I must say that I much doubt the possibility 
of my writing a page of such composition, though I delight to read 
such. Nor, if able, could I wisely undertake any new tasks. 
There are three things which I ought to do, not one of which shall 
I be allowed to do — so I fear. I woidd fain write the two remain- 
ing parts of my epic, ' Eth-Kon-Tel,' of which I read you the first 
part in four books. I would fain arrange my letters, papers, etc., 
for publication, if wanted, when I am gone. And I would fain 
prepare a new volume for the press. This last I am trying to do, 
but if I use the pen half an hour I suffer torments which I hope 
the damned do not suffer. 

" They whose corn laws blessed the ' agricultural hills and 
valleys of ILkley' with weavers working sixteen hours for fivepence, 
did not create those hills and valleys ; but they talk to us as if they 
did, and you believe them. Heaven help us ! 

" My son Erank is here, reading aloud your Sketches of Hudders- 
field scenery. But the scene itself is present with me. 
" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

"Ebenezeb Elliott." 



306 CORRESPONDENCE. 

" Great Houglrfon, near Barnsley, 5th Sept. 1849. 
"Deab Sib, 

" I should fear I had offended you if you came so near 
as Wentworth without calling on me. Seriously, I mean not to 
be complimentary when I say it, for it is true, we see so few 
humans here, that the devil would be welcome if he came, as I 
hope he will some day soon. Wentworth Castle is another most 
interesting place. 

" I am, dear Sir, yours very truly 

"Ebenezeb Elliott." 



J. BROOK, PRINTER, WESTGATE, UUDDEHSFIELD. 



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