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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,
The lord hath smiled at his ancient power,
And he lists to an ancient air.
Its stern wild music swelied of old,
O'er the marble arch and the roof of gold,
And around the festal board,
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,
DISCONTENT-DEEP AND BITTER.
COME 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-
"Revel on revel on! we have waited long,
And writhed like a worm under feudal wrong:
We have heard the mighty music roll
Like a surging sea through the Vassal's soul;
And an answer sweeps through the troubled night,
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
When the earthquake wakes in a giant-start,
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
ENGLAND SHIPS PAUPERS HERE.
representations, her subjects out of her dominions, but she directly appropriated funds for this purpose. Money was scarce enough, the Premier knew, but he would gladly incur a deeper debt for his country, if by it he could sweep away the agitated millions around him. But the cruelest of all her acts to drive off her subjects, is the compulsion of her infirm and helpless paupers into wretched exile. In one year, between June of 1835 and July of 1836, the Poor Law Commissioners of England reported that 7,075 paupers were expatriated at the cost of £39,340, or about $196,000. A more brutal deed was never justified by a civilized nation. Whenever a good opportunity offered itself, these paupers, old and infirm, were shipped off like cattle, in vessels hired to convey them to other countries, where their miserable food and miserable burial would not be charged to the government. Is not this more inhuman than shipping off slaves to New Orleans or the Georgia plantations. Our own coasts have never rung with wilder farewells than have gone up from the shores of England's despairing emigrants. Multitudes have thus been banished for the flagrant crime of being poor, when their poverty was brought on them by the robbery of those very persons, who thus wrenched them, like neglected branches, from the parent tree.*
*I am here half tempted to give what lays at my hand, the Statistics of Pauper Exportation to the United States by the British government. Of her exportation of criminals, secretly and clandestinely, to our shores, I need hardly speak. Ever since our Government was founded this has been British policy. In multitudes of cases condemned men, indicted persons, or people who had become obnoxious or dangerous, whom the Colonial authorities would not receive, have been shipped to this country-supplying us with murderers, burglars, forgers and thieves; while of the pauper class the number has amounted to tens of thousands. We all know that this mean, unfriendly and contemptible conduct of the British government went so far, that our General and State Governments had to resort to laws of self protection, when the most earnest and repeated protests and expostulations had failed. The records of our criminal courts in every State of the Union, show the enormous excess of imported over native pauperism and crime. It is also well known from authentic sources, that by far the larger share of imported paupers and criminals was of the class sent away by the authority or money of the government, or both.
England lets them toil as long as that toil wrings from the ground or manufactory the luxuries she enjoys, and then, when old and infirm, she ships them to strange lands to find for themselves graves. The Southern planter fed and clothed his decrepid, aged slaves. The humane man refuses to knock in the head the horse that has carried him for years, because he can do no more work. But England, more cruel to her subjects than the master to his slave or the man to his beast, not only plunders their pockets, but wrings their hearts with anguish; and when her merciless extortion can force out no more, she casts forth the exhausted and helpless wretch into the wilderness to die.
IR ROBERT PEEL did not propose any plan of emigration, for by looking over the statistics he discovered that voluntary emigration was increasing fast enough, without the aid of compulsion. The artisans and manufacturers, whom English injustice has driven to our shores, have helped to enrich us, and added to that prosperity which enables us to offer a still wider asylum to their brethren. If to enrich her nobles England will send away her industrious subjects, we will gladly receive them.
But our charge against England is, that much of this is not voluntary emigration. The oppression and distress that force them abroad, is as much the act of government as the special acts of confiscation and banishment. The result is the same, both to the government and the sufferers-the means only are different by which it is reached. We have no objection to voluntary emigration; but let the emigrant's choice be between freedom and equal rights at home, and the promise of a better fortune abroad. Let him go borne up by hope and the spirit of adventure, and not crowded out by dire necessity from the home of his fathers.
The pains and regrets they suffer in their departure are not