1868 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ebenezer Elliott

Emily Taylor, in Memories of Contemporary Poets; with Selections from their Writings (1868) 141-42.



The quantity of Elliott's poetry which can be given, apart from that which is mixed up with his strong political views, is small; but this is singularly precious and worthy of preservation. Anything more gentle, more femininely sweet, than his occasional poetical effusions, I really do not know. One is conscious of having met with a soul capable of the profoundest tenderness; and the loving, heart-stirring tones, are quite irresistible. Excessive, no doubt, he is everywhere; and we become the more convinced of the sincerity and naturalness of his political writings, when we see his habit of investing every character he has to do with, with his own passionate affections. Thus, in the touching poem on his son Thomas' death, you find him boldly picturing his beloved child as standing at the footstool of grace, and still inconsolable, even in heaven itself, for the absence of the dear ones left behind.

They come not yet: until they come,
Heaven is no heaven, my Father!

The few specimens I have given are surely very beautiful. His delight in nature, his accurate eye, his clear, bold language, so terse and expressive, arrest all our attention. I wish I were certain that the copy of the poet's epitaph which I found in Miss Martin's charming volume, "Springtime with the Poets," is one of those, a little altered by Elliott himself, as is not improbable, in one of his latest editions. It is radically improved by one or two small changes, at all events; and I trust he had taste enough to make them. I have not hesitated in taking it as it stands in Miss Martin's book.

Elliott wrote several poems of considerable length, as "The Village Patriarch," "Love," &c.; but with these I have not meddled. "The Wonders of the Lane" is a beautiful descriptive piece.