1806
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Complaint.

Poems, by Edward Rushton.

Edward Rushton


A lover's complaint in five double-quatrain stanzas by Edward Rushton, the blind Liverpool poet and political activist: "'Tis the plaintive alone which can please, | 'Tis the plaintive which soothes my fond soul, | Yet often those cordials that ease, | Raise a malady 'bove all control" p. 112. Since Rushton had been composing poetry for at least twenty years before the appearance of this first collection of his work, it may be that this lyric was written at an earlier date. Rushton also uses this measure in his elegy for the poet Hugh Mulligan.

Monthly Review: "In description, we think, the author is peculiarly happy: he is a spirited delineator, as well as a faithful observer of nature; and scenes, which he probably witnessed in early life, have furnished him with a rich store of marine and tropical imagery. As a pathetic writer, also, Mr. R. manifests considerable powers: but his plaintive strains not unfrequently sink into a style somewhat gloomy and splenetic" NS 50 (May 1806) 95.

British Critic: "In every mention of the Americans, the poet eagerly embraces the opportunity of vilifying the conduct of Britain. But the author (whom, from his long acquaintance with the gout, we presume not to be a young man) might have learned to cherish more rational and British feelings, or at least to make allowance for the weakness of those, who still feel a partiality to their native country. He is certainly a pleasing versifier, though not a first rate poet" 28 (November 1806) 561.

Monthly Register, Magazine, and Review [New York]: "Many little poems, written by him, have been long handed about in manuscript; at length, in the month of April, 1806, a small volume of poems were published by him in London; we believe, that this volume is, not yet, very generally known in America: — from which we select some lines on the death of a late Welsh poet; we shall, probably, from time to time, present the reader with a selection from Rushton, because, although he seldom, or ever pens a single stanza without discovering his want of a liberal education, and his imperfect acquaintance with the English language, yet his lays are poured so directly warm from the heart, and abound in such exquisite touches of nature and feeling, that he must, be, indeed, squeamishly fastidious, who cannot over-look the little inaccuracies of the untaught bard, for the sake of the beauties, which he so abundantly, and continually produces" 2 (February 1807) 187.



The bulfinch no music can boast,
While wandering the gardens among,
But nature, when freedom is lost,
Endows the poor captive with song.
So, I, ere thy heart could approve,
Regarded not melody's page,
But now I am fetter'd by love,
And with sounds I my anguish assuage.

When I caroll'd of war and of wine,
In hopes to abandon my pain,
Discordance has mark'd every line,
And I've found all my efforts were vain.
'Tis the plaintive alone which can please,
'Tis the plaintive which soothes my fond soul,
Yet often those cordials that ease,
Raise a malady 'bove all control.

The notes of the Lark give me pain,
His music too cheerfully flows,
But the Robin's soft querulous strain
Is in unison still with my woes.
I have heard of the Nightingale's lay,
But his song to the north is unknown,
Ah! would he but travel this way,
I would listen all night to his moan.

The joyous I cautiously shun,
Their mirth is disgusting to me;
Nay I loathe e'en the glare of the sun,
For it acts on my feelings like glee.
When the mole leaves his darksome retreat,
When the urchin is seeking for prey,
When the poor harass'd hare quits her seat,
O'er the moorlands by moonlight I stray.

When I dream of my love, and awake,
Tho' disdain had appear'd in her eye,
Chagrin'd, every method I take
The delusion again to enjoy.
Oh Lucy! attend to the strain
Of one who but feebly can sue,
Oh Lucy! reject not a swain
Who loves with a passion so true.

[pp. 111-13]