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EMERSON'S TRIBUTE TO FREEDOM.
N lifting the veil from English society to reveal the terrible shapes that lay beneath it; in going over the painful details of oppression and suffering inflicted by a heartless few to increase their pleasures and their pride; especially in speaking of the fearful, but inevitable crisis to which all things are steadily tending, I may seem to some readers to have been betrayed into an asperity of language that would seem inconsistent with the feelings such disasters should awaken. But while I would not avert the crisis which shall relieve the people from an oppressive government and heartless church, whatever be the means by which it must be reached, I pity the stupidity and selfishness that will probably make it so terrible. Freedom is dearer than life: it is a part of our nature, and burns on forever a sacred flame. "I have lived," says Emerson, "to hear that blessed name taken in vain, used in caricature, uttered with a sneer. It will not be so always. Prophets proclaimed it, noble men died for it, and felt the price cheap. None counted how much gold could be coined out of fetters. Dimly seen, imperfectly understood, its dimmest shapes, its shadowy visions even rising amidst bloody clouds, have been heralds of joy. Not brighter and more glad to the forlorn and weary traveler the first rays which look out through the golden dawn, than to commonwealths and men the day-break of liberty. I may regret, to be sure, that a dagger should ever have been hidden in a myrtle bough; I may mourn that in the name of liberty the least wrong should ever have been done; would that the blessed form needed never but voice soft as the gentlest evening wind. More deeply should I mourn, my tears more hopeless, if I saw her assailed, nor hand nor voice lifted in her defence. Nay, as in the worst superstitions I welcome the divine idea of religion, as through dreams and filthy tales of mythology I see and bless the living God, nor ever feel more sure that God is, that truth is, and
AN OPERATIVE'S MEMORIAL.
that man is made for God and truth; so in and through frantic excesses of an incomplete and infantile freedom, I see, I feel, that freedom is, and is sacred, and that it is everything to the soul of man. Carry me to Paris in the frenzy of its first revolution; carry me to St. Domingo in the storm of its insurrection; carry me to Bunker's Hill and its carnage; carry me to Thermopyla while its three hundred wait the sure death; set me beside those whose names may scarce be uttered without contempt and hate-a Wat Tyler; set me where and with whom you will, be it but man struggling to be free, to be himself, I recognize a divine presence, and wish not to withhold my homage. Pardon me, but in the slavish quietude of the ages, I see nothing but despondency. Freedom, be it wild as it may, quickens my hope. The wildness is an accident which will pass soon; that slavish quietude is death. There is a grandeur in the earthquake or volcano; in the dark, dank, offensive vault -something else."
FEW years ago, in addressing the following Memorial to the Queen, an English operative expressed the feelings of his whole class:
"It is not unknown to you, Madam, that among large bodies of my fellow-subjects, there prevails an ill-defined, but strong opinion, that Whigs and Tories are alike their natural enemies; that, in fact, all the middle and upper classes are in one grand conspiracy to trample on and oppress them. Let an attempt be made to pass through the fearful approaching winter without some grand legislative effort made to relieve the industry of the country, and the spirit of Chartism—aye! and something worse will once more raise its head, and neither churches nor yeomanry, neither bayonets nor sabres, will put it down. We have had Jack Cades and Wat Tylers in England, and these have been put down; we have had great gatherings in Birmingham, riots in Bristol, Ludism, Radicalism, and physical force Chartism-and all these have been
THE SONG OF THE CHARTIST.
appeased and subdued. But we have yet to see another spectacle, which comes as surely as the sun rises to-morrow, should the Corn Laws be maintained. In the midst of a 'run of gold,' and the fear of a national bankruptcy, thousands upon thousands of starving men, rising up like grim and appalling shadows; men hunger-worn with savage hatred in their hearts, demanding not bread alone, but their rights, and trampling alike upon public credit, national honor and general safety. Oh, let not good easy souls persuade you that in England such a thing is impossible! It is perfectly possible. The materials for such a frightful catastrophe are ready; the train is laid, and wants but the lightning's flash to set it on fire. England is strong in the natural spirit which regards order as heaven's first law; but when hunger and hatred are combined, and these concentrated in masses, the public opinion which respects the laws falls powerless before them." Are these, we ask, vain forebodings ?*
*The following noble Lyric was written for this work.
SONG OF THE ENGLISH CHARTIST.
[Affectionately inscribed to the Author of "The Glory and Shame of England."]
THE lord sits high in his old stone tower,
And the blood-red wine is there:
The lord hath smiled at his ancient power,
And he lists to an ancient air.
Its stern wild music swelled of old,
O'er the marble arch and the roof of gold,
From the harp of a gray-haired minstrel rolled,-
Like a cheerful flash of morning light
The blood-red wine is poured.
Ha! the Chieftain starts from his velvet throne
With a flush of rage and a stifled groan:
The ancient air in its silver fall,
And golden rise, which filled the hall,
For a wilder, deeper, grander tone
DISCONTENT-DEEP AND BITTER.
OME new Duke of Wellington, or some other noble lord may declare there is no distress in the land for want of food, and no need of reform; yet no one who has looked on England with open eyes will believe him. Discontent, deep and bitter, must follow such a state of things as I describe in this work. Men's hearts are not made of steel, that no amount of suffering can move them. All men are not martyrs in resignation; and hence, so long as England carries on her extensive scheme of oppression, there must be the reaction of discontented, indignant men. There must be feelings when the iron enters the soul, which will result, sooner or later, in determinations and actions.
Crushed between the Church and State, the working classes are reduced to want, the small farmers are slowly consuming A mighty Song
Of woe and wrong
It rushes abroad like the roaring of fire-
Like a surging sea through the Vassal's soul;
And an answer sweeps through the troubled night,
With a shout for the voice and a shout for the Right.
Glitter on! glitter on! in your bright array!
Hear ye not? hear ye not, through your marble arch,
See ye not that the flame of our vengeance plays
your hall like a Vulcan's lurid blaze
When the earthquake wakes in a giant-start,
And breaks the chain which has bound its heart?
HOW TYRANNY STRIKES THE POOR.
away, and general distress is spreading through the entire population, so that, however ministers may strive to urge on the government, a deep and powerful feeling, like the undertow of a wave, continually drags it back to the bosom of agitation. Yet from the mere narrative of the condition of men, we can but poorly estimate the suffering it creates. It is a principle everywhere true, that we can never appreciate the distress of others till it becomes our own. Could we look with the eye of God into the hearts as well as hovels of the destitute poor-hear, as he does, the secret language and desolate prayer they utter in the solitude of reflection-know all the agony the spirit embraces in its moments of despair, and behold all the sad sights the future presents to the parent, as the gaunt form of famine stands on the threshold of his house, withering up the very hearts of the inmates, we could better describe the feelings of English subjects under their mighty wrongs. The same injustice and suffering produce different feelings in different classes.
It depends very much on a man's education and natural spirit, whether he rises on his oppressor and strikes in selfdefence, or retreats sadly away to some place of peace. Some, with the first lash of the tyrant, bound madly on his bosom, and conquer or die. Others if they can, flee the scourge and the conflict. Others wait, and bear, and, guided by principle rather than passion, calmly ask for justice, believing in the omnipotence of truth. Others still will lie down in despair, and abandon themselves to brutish habits, neither asking nor expecting a change. All these varieties are found in England. The first are those who, having little hope of success if they should attempt to resist oppression, and preferring the tranquillity of other lands to the agitation of their own, take up their household goods and depart. But they who leave are not all of those embraced in this class; for multitudes, impelled by the same feeling, would gladly forsake their homes if poverty did not prevent them. Seeing this discontent and fearing its effects, England, some years ago, offered a premium for emigration. Not only did she employ agents to persuade, by false