THE GHOST OF CHATHAM; A VISION.
DEDICATED TO THE HOUSE OF PEERS.
"Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof. A SPIRIT passed before my face." Job.
LONDON: PRINTED FOR WILLIAM HONE, 45, LUDGATE HILL.
J. M'Creery, Tooks Court, Chancery Lane, London.
The following lines were written under the powerful impulse of feelings which appear to have been almost consentaneous with those of the whole British people. The national spirit has been rouzed against this cruel and unconstitutional attack upon the QUEEN, with pervasive ardour, which forcibly recalls the language of the Augustan poet:—
"SPIRITUS intus alit, totamque infusa per ARTUS, MENS agitat MOLEM, et magno se corpore miscet."
This irresistible movement has been one of LOYALTY, not of FACTION; of love and not of enmity towards the constitution. It is not disputed that factious men exist, who are ready to swell public tumult whenever it arises: but it is mere drivelling, for ministers and their adherents, to talk of "radicalism" and democracy on this occasion. They must know, if they consult the commonest sources of intelligence open to them, that detestation of "THE BILL OF PAINS AND PENALTIES" is rooted beyond all possibility of eradication in the breasts of an overwhelming majority of good men, and faithful subjects.
At the moment when it was determined to send the following "VISION" to the press, a burst of honest exultation has electrified the whole kingdom. With feelings of solemn gratitude to God, and love for my country, I rejoice not only that the QUEEN is thus delivered from the fangs of her enemies; but that THE KING, THE CONSTITUTION, and THE COUNTRY, have been thus, as I do unequivocally believe, rescued from a tremendous explosion, which would at best have been of doubtful issue to our liberties.
Notwithstanding this most happy, this providential result, I have determined still to send out the poem to the public; because it expresses in strong, however inadequate language, sentiments which are essential to our character as a free people, and to the preservation of our justly balanced monarchy.
I have not assumed the FASCIS of satire, without deep conviction that its rods were imperatively called into action: but most gladly shall I reverse them, after the manner of the ancient LICTORS, over the obsequies of an administration, which must be now in its death-pangs. May succeeding cabinets be WARNED, not guided, by its example!
THE GHOST OF CHATHAM;
A vision came! It was not in the hour Of sleep; but when the unresisted power Of magic Fancy, threw, with full control, Her half prophetic mantle o'er the soul. The place was thron'd like Britain's royal halls, And her proud navy deck'd the tap'stried walls. Statesmen and heroes grac'd the pictur'd scene; Fathers who were what since their sons have been; And some whose laurell'd brows might glow with shame, Of sons with nought of their's besides the name. In this august abode the loud debate Seem'd hush'd, and prince and peer in silence sate; E'en G—ff—d's brazen descant seem'd to fail, And gasping C—pley gazed on L—d—rd—le; Panting, they loll'd their contumelious tongues, And suck'd Italian juice to clear their lungs. Y—k mus'd on armies; yet, with doubtful trust, Wish'd he were certain, or the cause were just: The eye of Cl—r—nce fiercely rang'd the floor, But soften'd as it fell on D—n—ghm—re; While L—v—rp—l, who inly seem'd to fear For place and power, his fellows strove to cheer With sickly smile; and courtier lords obscene, Temper'd new filth, to daub their libell'd QUEEN.
Sudden amid the peers whom ENGLAND hails HER nobles—men who fail but when SHE fails, The vision rose. It was a rev'rend form Of aged dignity: its eye was warm With kindlings of a spirit that of old Made those walls tremble through its earthly mould. Now a mild glory round its presence play'd, And 'spoke from heav'nly courts the awful shade. Its brow wore high reproof; the lifted arm Was stretch'd for pleading; and there was a charm Of coming eloquence, as firm it stood, Like one whose rank was with the great and good; And well that rank was own'd, when ERSKINE cried, "'Tis England's CHATHAM!"—"CHATHAM!" all replied.
Like the dead stillness of the summer air, When pregnant clouds of shrouded fire are there, They sat:—and like the voice of thunder broke The rolling periods, as the vision spoke. "Is this," he cried, "the consecrated floor, Where England's peerage stood, as known of yore, Jealous of honour, zealous for the laws; Justice their sword, and England's weal their cause? Are these the walls whose echoes then return'd No words that chasten'd gallantry had spurn'd? Is this the throne whose last loved tenant view'd His people's morals as the monarch's good? Display'd beneath the sov'reign diadem, DOMESTIC VIRTUE, Britain's dearest gem; And bade Example to his court proclaim What taught, unpractis'd, is the teacher's shame? Ah no! that throne is chang'd; this gew-gaw thing Befits a raree-shew, not England's King! And can it be that Brunswick's cherish'd heir Will also change the laws which plac'd him there? Forget the STUART'S FATE, the BRUNSWICK'S OATH; Yet make his sorrowing subjects dwell on both? Forbid it, Heaven! Far other thoughts he knew, When yet his talents with his graces grew; When Genius, Beauty, in his circle ran, Admired the prince, and half adored the man. Nor now thus fall'n!—Yet whence this hot cabal Of treasury bench, and bench episcopal? These monstrous portents that before me rise Of mitred pimps, and coronetted spies! This deep, dark plotting, spreading net and snare, By hands that used their country's ark to bear? This hateful truckling to misguided power, Combined in palace, temple, hall, and bower, To crush an outcast Queen, with evidence By facts refuted, ridiculed by sense?— Tales that would merit but an equal fate, Told of the veriest wench in Billingsgate! FATHERS! and BRITONS! whence this alien band Of miscreant lechers bribed from sea and land?— By England spurn'd, yet plied with England's gold, Till every scoundrel's stock of oaths was sold; Then hither sent by hirelings vile as they, To pass for sterling truth in open day. Monstrous fatuity! and British peers Have lent these vermin not unwilling ears; For new-born lies have barter'd ancient law, Broke public faith, to patch a private flaw, And made a court that freemen never saw. ACCUSERS, JURY, JUDGES, all in ONE! O England! now be firm, or be undone! Strangle this monster, ere its birth be o'er, Or grov'lling lick the dust to rise no more! Heard I aright? and was it HERE I heard This crew 'gainst England's CONSORT QUEEN preferred? Here did their sland'rous breath infest the air? Hence did malicious tongues the scandal bear? Gush'd 'neath this sacred dome the prurient flood Of filth and venom, from that viper brood, Which o'er the land hath spread its noisome stain, While shudd'ring virtue weeps, but weeps in vain? And (O shame's nauseous dregs!) did noble lips Here taste that stream with epicurean sips? And mitred heads, as o'er its scum they bent, Snuff the rank steam, and chuckle at the scent?— My soul is sick!—I turn with sated ear, And find a cordial in my brethren here. Peers who their conscience to no market bring; Respect themselves, their country, and their king: Nor would round England's smiling hearths diffuse The breath—the very atmosphere of stews. O horrid! yes, I feel the blast impure, Air no blessed spirit may unpained endure: Yet leave I not without a warning voice: Hear, and obey, and Britons shall rejoice!
"You cannot, Lords! by votes create a crime, Nor make your country's voice with falsehood chime:— You cannot quench, with all this flood of LIES, A gallant people's glowing sympathies:— You cannot hide your idol God from them, When prone you kiss its garment's nether hem:— You cannot waste their treasure on a cause, That boldly violates their guardian laws; And 'scape the arrows from their quiver hurl'd— The keen reproach, and hisses of the world. You may cry 'GUILTY!' but the umpire land Cancels the verdict with indignant hand, Reveres the NOBLE MANY who uphold The nation's dignity; nor brooks that gold, Wrung hardly from her toiling sons, should pay The Judas gang that would her rights betray. Scorn meets THE FEW who, bought by pandering power, Outvote the nation's voice in hapless hour. O pause ere yet that fatal hour is seen!— Be counsell'd, Lords!—You cannot crush your Queen, But by a blow that must, with blind intent, Bruise THRONE and ALTAR in its dire descent!
"O where, ye PRELATES! is your light withdrawn? Where now the lustral influence of your lawn?[A] Where the meek crosier, and the crook of fleece, That guard the fold (not reckless of the peace)? Is there no wolf in all your pastur'd plains? No murrain rankling in your lambkins' veins? No lurking thief, by whom they nightly bleed? No arid spots refreshing streams that need? O why, forgetful of your solemn call, Sit ye, unmindful where the victims fall, To hire ONE SACRIFICE with cords be bound, And your anointed hands inflict the wound? O desecrated thus, by off'rings high To demon passions!—Foul idolatry! If such your rites, no LEVITE here I view, But BAAL'S PRIESTS may leap and shout with you.[B] O whither urge these bodings of my breast? Let hope, let charity their flight arrest! In Britain's SARDIS, surely some remain Whose courtly robes yet bear no wilful stain! PRINCES! and PEERS! once more on you I call— Save! save your tottering glory ere it fall! If truth, if virtue, to your hearts be dear; If sounds of sweet content you love to hear; If generous sons, and daughters chaste, you prize, And all a happy home's delightful ties; If just gradation on the social scale Be worth your care; if rank can aught avail: If rev'rence for the altar and the throne, Be yours, and GEORGE the lawful king, you own: If rights your fathers were combin'd to save, When Britain's sceptre to his race they gave, Be justly claim'd, as justly claim'd they are By every son that British mothers bear: O save your names from hate, disgrace, and scorn, HIST'RY'S bequest to ages yet unborn!
"Ah! heard ye not your lion-genius roar, And shake with mighty tread his ev'ry shore? Deem not that roar in vain; for it hath found Redoubl'd echoes all the realm around, And generous hearts have rous'd them at the sound. There is a spirit mightier far than yours— Magnanimous and mild, it much endures: But urg'd too far, a giant's strength awakes, And gyves and bonds at one fierce effort breaks. O hear yet more! There is a GOD, whose eye Pierces your counsels' darkest mystery; Whose blessing England owns for countless years, Whose vengeance now she deprecates with tears. To HIM your Queen appeals, and at HIS bar, Your names must mark the awful calendar; There must the witness CONSCIENCE naked plead, And guilty kings receive the culprit's meed. O think on this! e'en now that witness own, And save YOURSELVES, your COUNTRY, and your THRONE!"—
The vision ceas'd, and in a radiant cloud Withdrew—The breathless senate rev'rent bow'd. New vigour throbb'd in every patriot breast, And nerveless horror sicken'd all the rest.
[A] See the Earl of Chatham's animated speech against the employment of Indian warriors to assist in the subjugation of America.
[B] In this, as I conceive, seasonable reproof of certain "Lords Spiritual" I would not be understood to involve the whole of that reverend body. Some of them, I firmly believe, have remained at a distance from the combat, aged and infirm, like ELI, sitting by the wayside of Shiloh, and watching with trembling heart, lest the ark (I will not say of GOD, but of THE CONSTITUTION) should fall in the unhallowed conflict. Others, perhaps, have not cared to meddle in what they may have considered a doubtful matter: but it must not be concealed, that when TRUTH and JUSTICE are at stake, neutrality is no honourable sanctuary for the avowed servants of the TEMPLE. Let the Bishops beware of discovering their nakedness upon the very steps of the altar.—The eye of an enlightened people is upon them; and with their character for real consistent PIETY, and fidelity to sound PROTESTANT PRINCIPLES, THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND will stand or fall.
J. M'Creery, Tooks Court, Chancery Lane, London.
JUST PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM HONE, 45, LUDGATE-HILL.
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THE PREROGATIVES OF A QUEEN CONSORT OF ENGLAND; particularly of her ability to make and receive Gifts, to sue and be sued, and to hold Courts without the King; of its being Treason to plot against her Life; of the modes of trying her for Offences; and of her ancient Revenue of Queen-Gold.
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