1829
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Elegy written on viewing the Quakers' Burial Ground at Cullercoats.

Verses on the Earl of Northumberland's restoring Alnwick Castle ... Lines occasioned by a View of the Hermitage at Warkworth; and An Elegy An Elegy written on viewing the Quakers' Burial Ground at Cullercoats, in Northumberland.

Anonymous


Eleven quatrains, after Gray's Elegy written in a Country Churchyard: "Perhaps some good old WHITEHEAD rests below, | Some CROOK releas'd from persecution's chain; | When violence and folly aim the blow, | In vain is innocence, and virtue vain!" Whitehead is not the poet, but the Quaker John Whitehead (1630-1696) who published controversial writings and suffered imprisonment. Thomas Story (1670?-1742) was with William Penn one of the founders of Pennsylvania.

The poem appears in what seems to be a keepsake intended for tourists visiting the north of England. The editor and publisher, John Sykes, explains that "The following Poetical Pieces are reprinted from scarce Publications; the Prose portions are now first added. The Editor's most anxious wish is, 'to keep | A local subject from oblivion's sleep.'" This is a different poem from An Elegy written in a Quakers' Burial Ground (1764).

Headnote: "At Cullercoats, a small fishing town about two miles north from Shields, formerly lived several Quakers; near it is a piece of ground enclosed as a grave-yard. A view of it gave occasion to the following Elegy, by a Quaker" p. 11.



Be hushed each giddy thought, each passion rude,
Still as the tenants of the turf I tread;
Let no vain wish, nor anxious fear intrude,
Whilst musing here, I converse with the dead.

Come Contemplation, sweetest maid, O come
And teach my soul to love thy pensive sway,
Guided by thee, in midnight's sable gloom,
Fearless I'll rove, nor wish the glare of day.

Led by thy steady taper, I'll explore
The clay cold mansions of this lonely spot,
Where blended lie, what once were rich and poor:
Alike returned to dust, alike forgot.

How solemn is the scene! beneath this sod
Perhaps some village PENN, or STORY, lies,
Who, only mindful what they owed their God,
The world's alluring pleasures could despise.

Perhaps some good old WHITEHEAD rests below,
Some CROOK releas'd from persecution's chain;
When violence and folly aim the blow,
In vain is innocence, and virtue vain!

Hail! great respected names! with fearful eye
The muse recounts the injuries ye bore;
Ye nobly dared oppression's rage defy,
Tho' arm'd in terror by a lawless power.

And oft when nature scarce the load sustain'd,
And not a gleam of hope for human aid;
Then have ye witness'd the supporting hand
Of him, whose precepts you thro' life obey'd.

In bonds, and stripes, and death's alarming hour,
Ye found him still your teacher and your guide;
Kept firm in faith by his almighty power,
When strong temptations press'd on every side.

Ye now from bonds, and stripes, and death remov'd,
Are in your heavenly father's presence blest,
And reap the high reward of worth approv'd,
In the calm mansions of eternal rest.

May we your children, born in happier time,
When persecution is expell'd the land,
When now no longer 'tis esteem'd a crime,
To do what conscience and your God demand;

May we, like you, be ever faithful found,
Like you, devoted to the will of heaven,
And shew, when ease and affluence surround,
We're not unworthy of the blessings given.

[pp. 11-12]