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Elliott had been a poet in print about twenty years before he was known, popularly, as the “Corn Law Rhymer.” The commercial disasters of 1837 did not leave him scatheless; they took from his wealth in iron bars, and bank deposits, but added to the number and reputation of his poems. IIere are two, out of many, the offspring of that time :
Child, is thy father dead
Father clamm'd "thrice a week—
Doctor said air was best—
Ye coop us up, and tax our bread
And wonder why we pine ;
And filled with tax-bought wine.
Thus twelve rats starve while three rats thrive,
When fifteen rats are caged alive,
Haste . Havock's torch begin's to glow—
Make haste . Destruction thinks ye slow :
o Make haste to be undone !
Why are ye called “my Lord,” and “Squire,’
And wringing food, and clothes, and fire,
Make haste, slow rogues prohibit trade,
Prohibit honest gain;
Turn all the good that God hath made
Till beggars all, assassins all,
And death shall have no funeral
We must refer to the collections of Elliott's poems for the true evidences of his intellectual strength and literary immortality. The two here quoted are under the average of his real poetry; but above the average of his Corn Law Rhymes.
e lived to see the Corn Laws repealed, but not to
see the fruit of that Act ripening. It may be thought that we under-estimate the influence of his rhymes directed against the selfish tax on corn. We would point to the facts that the working classes of Sheffield understood the question so ill in 1839 when the rhymes had become as well known as at any time, that he found it his duty to write the letter already quoted, and that they quite willingly let him go and adhered to the leadership of Feargus O'Connor, whose prime element of popularity was denunciation of the Anti-Corn Law League. Nor can it be said that the middle class practical men read or knew much of Ebenezer Elliott. Far less did the aristocracy. It is a curious, and not unimportant truth, that the first man of letters who drew public attention to Elliott, and exceeded ordinary friendliness of criticism to effect his purpose, was Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer ; and that he continued to believe in the justice of the corn laws throughout the agitation which repealed them, and offered himself the year after their extinction as a candidate for the city of Lincoln, avowedly to restore them. With what suc cess is not known at the time of the present writing.
Elliott's publications, so far as they are known to the reading world, are as follows :-1. Corn Law Rhymes.
2. Love, a poem. 3. The Village Patriarch, a poem. 4. Poetic Works. 5. More Verse and Prose by the Corn Law Rhymer, in two volumes. The last, though prepared by the poet himself, is a posthumous publication, and exhibits the prevailing merits as well as defects of the other volumes. In the “Year of Seeds,” more especially, there are passages not surpassed in his best works. We quote one last passage :
A POET'S EPITAPH.
Stop, Mortal Here thy brother lies,
THE ANTI-CORN LAW LEAGUE.
sECTION I.-ARCHIBALD PRENTICE, OF MANCHESTER.
In the memoir of the Right Hon. William Pitt, we have seen how Manchester made a vigorous and successful opposition to the Free Trade measures of that statesman. It falls not within the scope of the present work to trace the tortuosities of that public opinion in Manchester which, in all its windings, commotions, and changes, was rather the turbid Irwell of unclean errors, than a clear expression of well defined principles. In Manchester, France was held to be the “natural enemy of England,” when monopoly was in danger because Fox and Francis pronounced that accursed dictum out of opposition to Pitt, and in defence of the narrow-mindedness of this town, and the manufacturing monopolists generally. But when Pitt, to stem, as he thought, the tide of revolution, and the wreck of Europe, waged war with France, (an unfortunate policy, but one which he might have hoped to be supported by the opposition which so recently had declared inherent enmity to that nation,) than the cry of political opposition which sat, or rose, or raved, on the opposite benches of the Parliament House, and supported nothing because its leaders were not Cabinet Ministers, was “fraternity with France.” This was re-echoed by the adherents of the Fox policy in Manchester; the same men who, five years before, had held the “naturalenemy” policy. The Fox party obtained place and power in 1806, and, imitating the absurdest errors of Napoleon Buonaparte, issued Orders in Council relating to continental commerce, which had the immediate effect of laying the trade of Manchester prostrate. When Fox died, and his party sank to rise no more for nearly a quarter of a century, the Tories, who first opposed the Orders in Council in Manchester, supported them ; and the Liberals, so called, who first supported, now inveighed against them. The Corn Law of 1818, was opposed and defended by the same parties who changed sides on the same question in five years, with the exception of a very few persons (Mr. John Shuttleworth and friends) named in this memoir.
Yet all the while there was a large store of strong mental power in Manchester, fit for the accomplishment of great intellectual purposes. Politics, morals, science, religion, education, from whence have they drawn their nourishment more abundantly than from this town in later years : And from what order of men : From those strong-minded men who for half a century or more laid their heads together in wisdom in the private matters of cotton, iron, and spinning mules, but knocked their heads together like idiots in matters of public policy. To bring those men to their senses on public affairs, to direct them in the study of olitical science, to save the intellectual waste, and out of it to form and give to Manchester a political mind, no single man has done so much as Archibald Prentice. He was born on the 17th November, 1792, being the third son of Mr. Archibald Prentice, tenant-farmer, popularly known in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire as the “Gude man of Covington Mains.” In the “Life of Alexander Reid, a Scottish Covenanter, written by himself, and edited by his great grandson,” we find that, amongst the combatants for religious liberty at the battle of Bothwell Brig, fought in June, 1679, were Archibald Prentice, Laird of Stane, in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire, and Alexander Reid, farmer, in Easter Mains of Broxburn, in the county of Linlithgow, both of them somewhat remarkable in descent. Prentice's father. by great bravery in the civil wars, raised himself to be the right hand man of Cromwell's ambassador, General Lockhart, under whom he was Deputy-Governor of Dunkirk, and was literally the last man who, by giving up the keys of that fortress, after all England had given in its adhesion, who submitted to the “restored” Charles II. Reid's mother was a Hamilton, a woman of high and noble mind, who chose rather to be the wife of a pious Presbyterian farmer than to marry a Prelatist of her own (much higher) rank of life. Prentice's son, David, married Reid's daughter, Agnes, and of their numerous issue were Archibald, born in 1734, and Thomas, born in 1740. Thomas, who resided in Lanark, married Beatrice Bell, niece to James Thomson, the author of “The Seasons,” and their son David, a man of vast literary acquirements, sound political opinions, and perfect integrity, was the founder of the Glasgow Chronicle, which he conducted from its commencement in 1811, greatly to the promotion of liberal political principles throughout the west of Scotland, until his death in 1837. Archibald Prentice, father of the subject of this memoir, combined mental and corporeal strength in an extraordinary degree. When he appeared in the streets of Edinburgh or