1794
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Written for the General Fast in England, April 1794.

Time-Piece and Literary Companion 2 (9 May 1798).

Edward Rushton


Four couplet Spenserians signed "Edward Rushton." Rushton deplores the Pitt administration's attacks on the French Revolution and its attempts to stifle opposition at home: "If o'er the murderer's back you fling | The purple robe that decks a king, | Or 'dizen out a band of thieves | In crosiers, mitres, and lawn sleeves | You'll find, disguise 'em as you will, | That villains will be villains still." This poem, reprinted in New York in 1798, presumably made its first appearance in a British newspaper. The Time-Piece evidently had a Liverpool correspondent, as it was reprinting political verse by both Edward Rushton and William Roscoe. The correspondent may well have been Rushton himself.



Is this the far-fam'd spot of earth,
Which gave immortal Milton birth?
Is this the soil where Hampden bled,
And Hampden's tyrant lost his head?
Is this the insulated ground
For men of fearless truth renown'd,
For men who felt as men should feel,
And nobly grasp'd th' avenging steel,
For men who form'd in Freedom's sacred cause,
Bar'd the red arms of war, and spurn'd the oppressor's laws?

Yes, patriots, yes — behold the land
Once press'd by many a sturdy band,
By men who shew'd the world, that kings,
Oppos'd to men, are puny things!
Yes! view that Britain now combin'd
With the worst foes of human kind!
Behold her sons, with savage ire
Eager to quench fair freedom's fire!
And mark her goodly sovereign's pious care
Who spreads wide-wasting war, and whets the sword with — prayer.

Shall I, because a poor fork'd thing
Whom fate, not merit, made a —,
Has dar'd in slav'ry's cause once more
To drench the earth with British gore,
Shall I, because this scourge would fain
Restore to France oppression's chain,
Shall I implore the God of peace
To grant that slaughter may increase?
No — from my soul the war I execrate,
And would not join the pray'r t' avoid the felon's fate.

If o'er the murderer's back you fling
The purple robe that decks a king,
Or 'dizen out a band of thieves
In crosiers, mitres, and lawn sleeves
You'll find, disguise 'em as you will,
That villains will be villains still,
So Britons, while your warriors die
In the curst cause of tyranny,
Howe'er you fast — and pray — and whine — and groan
'Tis all an impious cloak, — guilt marks you for her own.

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