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A BLESSING ON THE OLD YEAR.
Thou art passing away, Old Year!
Thou art passing away ;
Would bid thee longer stay;
My heart sends up for thee,
And kindly looked on me,
Nor loosened one fond tie,
Hast made still nearer lie,
I thought that thou might'st spare-
And sad perplexing care,
How sun, and cloud, and shower,
Its life-producing power,
The steps with thee I've trod-
And nearer unto God,
Thy latest moment's here-
Kind and loving Old Year!
e, may none for me Feel but as I can feel for thee. Dec. 12th.
G. ON EBENEZER ELLIOTT, THE POET OF HALLAMSHIRE AND OF THE
· CORN LAW RHYMES.' EBENEZER Elliott, in childhood, boyhood and youth, was remarkable for good nature, as it is called, and a sensitiveness, exceeded only by his extreme dullness and inability to learn anything that required the least application or intellect. His good nature made him rather a favourite in his childhood with servant girls, nurses, and old women. One of the latter was a particular favourite with him— Nanny Far, who kept the York Keelman public-house, near the Foundry, at Masbro', where he was born. She was a walking magazine of old English prejudices and superstitions ;—to her he owes his fondness for ghost stories. When he was about ten years old, he fell in love with a young girl, now Mrs. Woodcock, of Munsber, near Greasbro', to whom he never to this day spoke one word. She then lived with her father, Mr. Ridgeway, a butcher and publican, close to the bridge on the Masbro' side of the river Don. Such was his sensitiveness, that if he happened to see her as he passed, and especially if she seemed to look at him, (which he now believes she never did) he was suddenly deprived almost of the power of moving. He describes the effect produced on him by comparing it to that produced on a greyhound when pursued by a mastiff, which strains his tail between his legs, and instead of being urged to speed by his terror, is chained by it, and compelled as it were to lift the earth at every step. His unconquerable dullness was improved into absolute stupidity by the help he received from an uncommonly clever boy, called John Ross, who did him his sums. He got into the Rule of Three without having learned Numeration, Addition, Subtraction and Division. Old Joseph Ramsbotham seemed quite convinced, gave him up in despair,—and at Rule of Three the bard jumped all at once to Decimals, where he stuck. At this time he was examined by his father, who discovered that the boy scarcely knew that two and one are three. He was then put to work in the foundry, on trial, whether hard labour would not induce him to learn his counting,' as arithmetic is called in Yorkshire. Now, it happened that nature in her vagaries had given him a brother called Giles, of whom it will be said by any person who knew him, that never was there a young person of quicker or brighter talents; there was nothing which he could not learn: but the praise he received ruined him in the end. His superiority produced no envy in Ebenezer, who almost worshipped him. The only effect it produced on him was, a sad sense of humiliation, and confirmed conviction that himself was an incurable dunce. The sense of his deficiencies oppressed him, and in private he wept bitterly. When he saw Giles seated in the
counting-house, writing invoices, or posting the ledger; or when he came dirty out of the foundry, and saw him showing his drawings, or reading aloud to the circle, whose plaudits seemed to have no end—his resource was solitude, of which from his infancy he was fond; he would go and fly his kite, always alone and he was the best kite-maker of the place; or he would saunter along the canal bank, swimming his ships, or anchoring them before his fortresses--and he was a good ship-builder. His sadness increased; he could not post books he could not write invoices-he could not learn to do what almost any boy could learn, namely, to do a sum in Single Division; yet, by this time he had discovered that he could do 'men's work,' for he could make a frying-pan. It ought to be observed here, that the assistance he received from John Ross accompanied him, like his double, to every school to which his parents, in their despair, had sent him, and they had sent him to two, besides Mr. Ramsbotham's. When it was found that he could not do decimals, he was put back to the Rule of Three; and then pronounced incurable. Labour, however, and the honour paid to his brother, at length made him try one effort more. He had an aunt in Masbro', one of whose sons was studying botany. He was buying, in monthly numbers, a book called Sowerby's English Botany,' with beautiful coloured plates. They filled him with delight; and she showed him that by holding the plates before a pane of glass he might take exact sketches of them. Dunce though he was, he found he could draw, and with such ease, that he almost thought he was a magician. He became a bota nist, or, rather, a hunter of flowers, but, like his cousin Ben, (though not Greek learned like him,) he too had his · Hortus Siccus. He does not remember having ever read, or liked, or thought of poetry, until he heard his brother recite that passage in • Thomson's Spring,' which describes the polyanthus and auricula. His first attempt at poetry was an imitation in rhyme of Thomson's Thunder Storm, in which he described a certain flock of sheep running away after they were killed by lightning. Now this came to pass because the rhyme would have it so. His critic, cousin Ben, the learned, though the bard most imploringly told him how the miracle happened, nevertheless exercised the critic's privilege, and ridiculed him without mercy. Never will he forget that infliction. His second favourite author was Shenstone, whose translations of passages from the classics, prefixed to his elegies, produced an effect on his mind and heart which death only can obliterate. His next favourite was Milton, who slowly gave way to Shakespeare. He can trace all his literary propensities to physical causes. His mind, he says, is altogether the mind of his own eyes. A primrose is to him a primrose, and nothing more; for Solomon in his glory was not more delicately arrayed. There is not a good passage in his writings, which he cannot trace to some real occurrenceor to some object actually before his eyes—or to some passage in some other author. He has the power, he says, of making the thoughts of other men breed; and he is fond of pointing out four or five passages in his poems, all stolen from one passage in Cowper's Homer. We will give the original, and one of the imitations; he made the thought his own, he says, by substituting the word “hymn' for the word • trumpet ; and the words in italics will show his power of making other men's thoughts breed ; they describe poetically and philosophically the reflection of light from the heavenly bodies:
• The carth beneath them trembled, and the heavens
Sang them together, with a trumpet's voice.'—Cowper's Iliad. Thus imitated
• Oh, Light, that cheer'st all worlds, from sky to sky,
As with a hymn, to which the stars reply.' When he became a poet, he also became more and more ashamed of his deficiencies. He actually tried to learn French, and could with ease get his lesson, but could never remember it an hour. Nor could he ever write correctly until he met with Murray's Grammar, which he learned at the wrong end, (namely, the Key,) and never reached the beginning. To this day, he does not thoroughly know a single rule of grammar; yet, by thinking, he can detect any grammatical errors. If he errs, it is in the application of words derived from the Latin or Greek, which, although he has a strong propensity to use them, he now avoids, unless they are very melodious, or harmonize with his Saxon, and seldom without consulting his dictionary, that he may guess at their meaning. He has more than once shown his fondness for learned words, by begging Latin and Greek quotations, for his prefaces and notes, of the writer of this article. But his propensity to use fine words will be still better elucidated by the following anecdote, of the truth of which the reader may be assured :—Having written a sonorous poem in blank verse, on the American Revolution, he wished for a learned title. He wished to call it Liberty'; so his learned cousin baptized it in Greek by the name of · Eleutheria'; but the bard having found out that Éleutheria also signifies fire, humbled himself to Latin, expunged the Greek, and wrote in place of it · Jus Triumphans.' " He then read Johnson's Dictionary through, and selected several dozen words (fifty-three, we believe) of six and seven syllables, which he wrote on a slip of paper, and pasted over his verses, where they would scan and read grammatically! In this state the manuscript was sent to Whitbread, the brewer, who returned it with a flourishing compliment; and, if it is in existence, certainly it is a curiosity that a bibliographer would place in his cabinet.
The following is an extract from the first copy of the * Vernal Walk,' his first publication, written in his 17th year. He afterwards improved these rough verses into bombast, and then printed them.
· Arising cheerful from the bed of rest,
Hurried tlie angry blast, and blast-blown sleat.' Mr. Elliott's defective education appears in the incorrect orthography of this juvenile performance. In after years, he corrected this and other defects by private study. One of his early companions was a youth of cultivated mind, with whom he read much and conversed more, Joseph Ramsbotham, the son of his schoolmaster, who was educated for the ministry. This excellent young man (who died tvo soon) used to recite Greek to him; and the poet, without knowing any thing of that language, was so delighted with the music of Homer, that he committed to memory the introductory lines of the Iliad, and could repeat them when the writer of this article first became acquainted with him. His memory is very retentive, and he does not easily forget what he has once learned. Translations have made him familiar with the classic poets of Greece and Rome. Amongst the tragedians, Æschylus is his favourite, whom he admires as the most original and sublime of the Athenian dramatic writers. His reading is extensive, and it has not been confined to poetry. History and political economy seem to have been his favourite studies ;- the latter has inspired some of his most admired productions. He writes prose as well as verse, and the style of some of his letters on the Corn Laws has the condensed energy and fire of Junius; less polished, indeed, but equally pointed and severe. In conversation he is