BETA

The Penitent Free-Trader.

Tufnell !  For the love of mercy,1
Let me go for half an hour2
I’ll be back before that proser3
Hath discussed the price of flour.4
Don’t you hear, he’s just beginning5
To investigate the rate6
Of the Mecklenburgh quotations,7
Metage, lighterage, and freight ?8
Next, I know, he’ll pass to Dantzic,9
With a glimpse at Rostock wheat10
I have seen the whole already11
In his Economic sheet.12
See ! upon the backward benches13
There reposes stealthy Peel14
Dreaming, doubtless, that he’s smothered15
In an atmosphere of meal.16
Palmerston’s recumbent yonder—17
Hawes is sleeping by the door ;18
Even Russell’s tiny nostril19
Quivers with a nascent snore.20
Let me go—nay, do not hold me21
So intensely by the coat ;22
I assure you, on my honour,23
I’ll be back in time to vote.24
Oh, the night-winds wander sweetly25
O’er my hot and throbbing brow !26
What a contrast is the moonlight27
To the scene I left just now !28
Let me walk a little onward29
Underneath the budding trees,30
Where the faint perfume is wafted31
On the pinions of the breeze :32
Overhead a thousand starlets33
Glisten in the robe of night,34
And the earth is wrapped in slumber35
With a pure and calm delight.36
By your leave, good Master Tufnell,37
I shall stay a little here ;38
You have plenty noodles yonder39
Who are safe enough to cheer40
Wilson’s dunderhead discourses,41
Or the cant of Labouchere !42
What a dolt was I to credit43
All these wild, free-trading schemes !44
Cobden’s calico predictions,45
Porter’s importation dreams !46
For I loathed the mean alliance,47
Even when I chose to wheel48
In the wake of him who led us,49
Pinning foolish faith to Peel.50
Was I mad, to place my honour51
In this most disgusting fix ?52
Half the world was rather crazy53
In the days of Forty-six.54
O the happy times of premiums !55
O the balmy touch of scrip !56
Would that I had sold my bargains57
Ere they had me on the hip !58
Every day a new allotment59
Promised shining heaps of gold ;60
Every day the mounting market61
Swelled my hopes a hundredfold,62
I remember old Sir Robert,63
With his shirt-sleeves rolled on high,64
Lust of speculation gleaming65
In his gray and greedy eye ;66
Turning sods with silver shovel,67
Celebrating that event68
With a speech on competition69
At the opening of the Trent.70
I have dined with royal Hudson,71
And may dine again, perhaps,72
Should another exaltation73
Follow on this drear collapse.74
All had drunk the wine of gambling,75
All had quaffed the share champagne,76
Wisdom’s warnings were rejected,77
Prudence preached to us in vain.78
Madness, frenzy, lust of riches,79
Reigned within the minds of all,80
That, we thought, must answer Peter81
Which had served the turn of Paul.82
If, by scorning honest labour,83
Men made fortunes in a trice,84
What might be the luck of Britain,85
Casting with Free-traders’ dice ?86
I am strongly of opinion—87
Looking to my country’s good88
That I’ve stuck by him of Tamworth89
Rather longer than I should.90
As concerning next election,91
I’ve received some pregnant hints,92
Both from country correspondents,93
And the leading public prints.94
Cultivation’s at a discount,95
Rents are very slowly paid :96
Some aver that sly Sir Robert97
Has contrived to coin his spade ;98
Neither is there much progression99
In the wool and cotton trade.100
What the deuce would men be after ?101
If those fellows had their will,102
England would be straight converted103
To a monstrous cotton-mill.104
Everywhere would ghastly chimneys105
Vomit forth their odious mist,106
Settling, like the breath of Satan,107
O’er this island of the blest :108
When the only occupation109
Would be spinning yarn and twist !110
Spin away, my brave compatriots !111
Spin as largely as you can ;112
Who shall dare to set a limit113
To the sale of shirts for man ?114
Whilst the raw material’s granted,115
Spin away with might and main ;116
Use the time that’s still vouchsafed you,117
For it may not come again.118
There’s a smartish kind of notion119
Running in the Yankees’ head,120
That they need not be indebted121
To your kindness for their thread.122
In the meanwhile go for cheapness,123
Smite the farmers hip and thigh124
Making honest people bankrupt125
Is the way to make them buy.126
Starve the masses of the nation,127
Drive them all into the mills ;128
Clear the plains and sweep the valleys,129
Desolate the Highland hills.130
Let the rough hard-fisted yeoman,131
All too clumsy for the loom132
Migrate to the western prairies,133
Where for labour still there’s room.134
Let the peasant and the cottar135
Quit the useless plough and spade136
Built for them are costly mansions,137
Raised for them are rates in aid.138
To the workhouse let them gather,139
Or by theft attain the jail ;140
Honesty has bread and water,141
Crime is fed on beef and ale.142
O the glorious consummation143
Of this truly Christian scheme,144
Such as never saint or prophet145
Witnessed in ecstatic dream !146
Wasted fields and crowded cities,147
Swarming streets and desert downs,148
All the light of life concentred149
In the focus of the towns !150
Yea, exult, ye foes of England !151
In the downfall of the race152
That of yore, in fiery combat,153
Met your fathers face to face :154
For the pride of lusty manhood,155
And the giant Saxon frame,156
Never more shall be embattled157
In the coming fields of fame ;158
Shrunken sinews, sallow faces,159
Twisted limbs and factory sears160
These shall mark your next opponents161
In the European wars.162
Not such yeomen as with Alfred163
Won their freedom long ago164
Such as on the plain of Cree165
Triumphed o’er a worthy foe166
Such as drove invasion backward,167
Have their homes in Britain now !168
This at least our sons may utter,169
Blushing for their fathers’ shame170
Brain me with a billy-roller,171
If I longer play this game,172
Hither for the crimp of Tamworth,173
Or his first lieutenant, Graham !174
No, by Jove !  I will not suffer175
Degradation of the kind176
What care I for Johnny Russell,177
With his hungry host behind ?178
Let them blunder on insanely,179
Digging holes within the sand,180
Thinking, like the stupid ostrich,181
To escape the hunter’s hand.182
Let them shirk the facts before them,183
Comforting themselves the while,184
That their Economic asses185
Can the public ear beguile.186
Lord !  to hear the blockheads braying.187
Spite of proof before their eyes188
I assure the house,” quoth Wilson, :189
Wheat must very shortly rise.190
It was so-and-so at Dantzic191
More than twenty years ago ;192
Therefore wait a little longer—193
’Twill be up again, I know.”194
Jolly Villiers, on the other195
and, with exultation vows,196
More than one-and-ninety millions197
Have been plundered from the ploughs ;198
And he hopes before another199
Year shall run its destined course,200
To congratulate the public201
That affairs are worse and worse.202
I, for one, am sick and weary203
Of these everlasting prigs ;204
Quite disgusted with the shuffling205
Of the miserable Whigs ;206
With their impudent averments,207
And their flagrant thimblerigs !208
Hark, the midnight chimes !  I fancy209
The palaver’s nearly over :210
For to-night let Johnny Russell to211
And his colleagues rest in clover.212
But upon the next occasion,213
When there’s talk about a tax,214
Whether it shall weigh on foreign215
Or on native British backs,216
Master Tufnell must excuse me,217
If I seek another lobby218
Than the one that’s now frequented219
By my former chief, Sir Bobby !220