1821 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edward Rushton

Thomas Noble, "An Epistle to Edward Rushton" 1821; in Rushton, Poems and Other Writings (1824) 8-10.



The MAN, to whose memory these lines are a sincere tribute, united, in a perfection of which there are few examples, those distinguishing characteristics of a reasoning, sensitive being, FORTITUDE and AFFECTION. His mind and his heart were equally capacious: the former, endowed with activity and energy of thought, was "comprehensive of" every moral and political truth; the latter, excited by the purest benevolence, was ardent in domestic love; — open, liberal, and independent, in social intercourse; — boundless in devotion to the freedom and welfare of mankind! His soul had an elasticity of temperament, which not bodily infirmity, nor misfortune, nor even affliction, could subdue. It was this, his elasticity of soul, that has imparted to his poetic compositions an unabating vigour of expression. With indignation against the oppressors of mankind, the perverters of intellect, the subjugators of reason, the violators of humble affection, and, the plunderers of industry, he, who "'midst clouds of utter night," well knew "what mournful moments wait the blind," poured forth, from his luminous and contemplative mind, eloquent strains of reproof, of commiseration, of hope to the wretched, and of freedom to the enslaved! I knew him for little more than three years; but it required only to know him once, to esteem him for ever! The generous liberality of his opinions proved, in an instant, the extent, as well as the strength, of the principles on which they were founded. For my own part, I felt immediately convinced that he had taken his stand with TRUTH, and that he had tenacity of mind ever to abide by her. I was not deceived: what he was one day, that he was continually. Had he lived, my esteem for him could not have increased. In his death, what an example of sincerity, energy, and independence, have not I, and all who knew him, to deplore!


Is there a spot to thee, O FREEDOM, known,
That owns no altar, and that dreads no throne?
Where servile men to tyrant man ne'er bend,
Nor mock the God they cannot comprehend
Is there a spot uncurst by martial fame,
Where Conquest never cast its meteor flame,—
Where mighty heroes would be paltry things,
And thrown, unnamed, aside with slaves and kings?—

Is there a spot that priests could never stain,
Making the nat'ral awe in man their gain,—
Where man from man no mystic faith receives,
But trusts the Cause unknown, by which he lives?—
Is there a spot, where man's unclouded mind,
Conscious of social bonds that blend his kind,
Frames, firm in all his rights, the law that sways,
Is independent still, and still obeys?

O! in that spot, let FREEDOM'S vot'ries place
A column on an adamantine base
'Gainst its firm shaft, let INDEPENDENCE stand,
Our RUSHTON'S lyre, eternal, in his hand!
Oft from its chords a deep and daring sound
Shall burst upon the wretched nations round,
Till, startled slaves th' arousing thunder hear,
And kings, 'mid all their glittering armies, fear
Till priests, gods, demons, dread awak'ning mind,
And stand no more 'twixt NATURE and MANKIND!