Capel Lofft

Ernest: The Rule Of Right - Book VII

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BOOK VII.
He ended--and his speech from one so mild
And maiden-like, amazed them utterly,
As who should see a flash of lightning start
From a blue sky. Long they stood wondering
And witless what to do, much less to say;
The sudden danger yawning at their feet
So startled them. The first, on his return,
Was Linsingen, to frame his mind in speech
From that surprise. "Hermann, what you have said
It is not words but a sheer wonderment.
Do I behold thee indeed--art thou thyself?
Give me thy hand--ah, well--but why then lock
This counsel from thy friend? Beshrew us both--
Holding so high a stake upon this game
Methinks I have full right to know its plan--
And have my hand too in the play of it,
And Hermann, either you did flatter me,
Or this our undertaking, I am its head.
The head as I once thought, and others too
Upheld me for no less--but now it seems--
This your new--something--hath made nothing of me:
And I'm the empty skull, that other brains
Supply me--
I've risked all, my means, my life,
My pleasures, ah! how genial to enjoy!
But I have whistled them away to the winds.
And stand myself here on this dizzy edge,
Where none but madmen have foothold for their hope--
And how 'tis doomed in Heaven, Heaven only knows.
But, for the worldly rate, all affluence
Of Honour, how full swoll'n soe'er, were but
A thing of straw against this waste of wealth.
E'en tho' 'twere safe--such honour--not what 'tis--
Reeling its wild round like a gamester's ball--
With but one hopeful hit 'gainst misses amain,
And then all lost--bare as I was erewhile,
Better and braver so 'gainst winter and winds,
Than my new flush of leaf, which gives no strength
Against the storm, but larger hold and sway
To its sweeping onset--Hermann! this from thee!
If such thy friendship, what were my foes' hate?
How should they e'er screw the rack high eno'
When their time comes to wreak their will on me.
'Fore Heaven, I fear not danger, all I wish
Is to be first and foremost meeting it--
Nor am I such a plodder, if I know
Myself, so like an overburden'd ass,
That any other man need trip my heels,
And, so supplanted, take my room himself,
Shouting for hotter speed--a will-o'-wisp--
To flash in front of them--only take heed
Lest such a leader land you in a bog,
And so fulfil your hopes.
Well--I care not--
What I have done I mean others should rue,
Not I myself: nor is my heart so poor,
So brain-sickly, as sot-like, to puke now,
When wassail leaves him muddled on its ebb
From his high fit. No, be ye false or true,
Shifter or trimmer, I am none--hold fast
What I take up--neither an underling
Nor upstart over others--save what they
Were free to give, and I worthy to take;
But of my own merit becomes me not--
Withhold its meed who will"--
"Nay--'tis thy right,"
With heart o'erflowing Hermann answered him,"
"Freely and faithfully I yield it thee--
Take it and hold--'tis earnestly thy own.
But oh no word--e'en whisper'd--of mistrust--
Thou know'st how little a damp may check the train--
Must so miss fire--and a two-headed plot
Is but a monster of no lasting life,
How stoutly limbed soe'er. Then think no thought
But that we hold thee our acknowledged head
To lead us all, and we to follow thee.
What late I said, trust me, that utterance
Was but a fainter echo of thy own,
Thy spirit--tho' by me outspoken amiss.
Then no more words--rather the proof of them.
That proof, so let it come, welcome whene'er,
We will fulfil it. Only command thou
Boldly--and we will back thee all as bold,
That the head shall have no cause to say to the hand
'Thou coward.' Whate'er thy call, we answer it--
Forward or back? which shall we? speak the word."
"Forward in name of God," cried Linsingen,
Fired as with sudden lightning. "Whate'er be,
We will abide it. See--on the slope there--
By Heaven, a goodly muster: if they be
As strong in daring as they seem in show,
No more were need"--
They reached that sundering
Ridge, and there stopping, waved their hats on high
For friendly token: Those awaiting them
Beheld and knew and gladly answered it;
Greeting them with so hearty loud a shout
That the lone lapwing wheeling o'er their heads
Started aside, as from the fowler's shot,
At that so sudden alarm: soon were they met
With hasty earnestness and grasp of hand:
Not such as holiday meetings are wont,
Mirthful and light; but as when man with man
Is leagued to do some danger, and hands clasp
Consciously, in fast-bound conspiracy;
Suppress'd, yet strong.
Sudden a murmur ran,
A birth without a father, thro' the crowd,
Stirring its surface up into a swell,
Bodal of storm: and as that crowd was swayed
This way and that by fitful eagerness,
So by the shadow of their coming cloud
With wild unwonted feelings hearts were stirred
Swelling to meet it. Linsingen awhile
Left their deep smouldering warmth to work in them
Each upon each; till the glow spread throughout,
Threatening to burst in flame. Then he strode forth,
And mounted on a hillock there hard by;
Heaped up of yore for warriors' burial.
"Haply my forefathers--and haply I--
If those who grind us now--Vengeance thou'rt slow
To come, but thy beginning brings their end--
Here Kings are buried, and here Freedom is born,
In this birth-hour. Hail to her! So 'twere well;
Happen what may to me." He stood on the mound,
And suddenly that tumult became still--
An awful stillness, ere the hurricane
Utter its wrath.
"Friends, neighbours, countrymen,
Ye were a happy people 'mong these hills
'Neath my sires' sway: and so would be again,
If Nature were herself, unmarred by Man:
And ye might welcome her free from the scourge
Of these raw rulers--Ah! it grieves me sore--
So sore; that for this bitter wide-spread grief
I relish not God's special gifts to me.
True--I am wealthy--and you--the yoke-bearers
Are but poor men: Yet are we all alike
One kind--still closer, for that faithful tie
Between our forefathers. Ah! happy days!
When Right and Nature ruled--She gave to them
Her wealth, who gave to her their livelong toil,
(So once our clan laboured these common lands)
And the idle hand she left it empty too.
And so should we; but for their selfishness--
Their kind and gentle selves--the Aristocrats--
The rats--a true name, taken by the tail--
So call them--for why lengthen in the mouth
The bitter tang--But we might bear e'en this--
If this alone: but bad begets still worse:
And I'yranny, where once it makes a sore,
Must fret and gnaw it to an angry foul
Ulcer--with cankering claws.
We were content
To till God's free gift Earth for our hard bread;
And pay for leave to do it: Yes, Industry
Pay Idleness the grain and best of the chaff
For leave to be itself. This had we borne--
But then comes one demanding what our toil
Hath earned to buy its bread and eat in peace,
For wars to wage therewith--in Christian love--
And so Christ crucified again--hewn--shot--
Drown'd in a gore of blood--by us, his sons,
Against ourselves and him--Can this be well?
Oh no--and what is next betters it not,
But makes the wormwood venom. Ye all know
How, striving in scant hope, our sturdy toil
Hath yet improved that hope to harvestage,
And waste to wealth--hath tamed yon rugged hills,
Made conquest of their stubborn barrenness,
And set its golden sheaves for trophies up
Over the field. Methinks, who did so much,
Deserves a better quittance for the deed
Than beggary and gaol. But toiling worth
Is but a silly ass--must do drudge-work,
And then--eat thistles. Well, our fields are full.
Down comes the parson--like a crow at scent
Of carrion, and claims the law of us:
He who ne'er lent a hand at time of need,
To put it in then first at harvest-tide,
Taking his tenth--so leaving us our loss,
To live on it. A man strange to us all,
A lone black raven, croaking hatefully,
Whose doctrine was ne'er heard or known to us,
Or known but for the off-curse of our souls.
What followed on that claim is deep in your hearts,
I will not brand it deeper by my words.
Let woe go weep in silence. My dear friends,
Are ye already full to the overflow,
Or needs there one drop more? Said I a drop?
Oh! 'tis indeed a flood doth threaten us
With rage most ruthless. Aye--yon hills--yon streams--
Ours and our forefathers, our inborn right,
Which to tear from us 'twere as well tear out
Our eyes from out our heads--these must they have--
And we must shrink within our dull clay-walls:
For if we peer beyond them, well I ween
'Tis outright treason. Such a thing as this
Burdens us worse than man can bear--the back--
And harder yet, the heart: gores our whole life.
Whoso but thinks of it, his thought straightway
Must lash itself to madness. But what boots
To think, or talk, or mutter, or aught else
But rise and strike forthwith. 'Tis all is left:
The one good hope that sets us wretches above
The toad in harrow--aye, and with this one
We may requite our loss, with gain thereto;
Else be forlorn of all.
My friends, this tale
I've told it truly, as an earnest man;
Truth without aggravation. For what needs
To flare up Hell with fireworks, or fire-words?
Besides--my heart--its outswell chokes my speech:
What more I should--forgive me--better I were
At sword-stroke, my sires wont. Hermann, stand forth
And speak our wrongs as thou well knowest them;
And if thou can'st devise some milder means
To quench this fever without flow of blood,
I'll hold thee for a healer above price,
And bless thy skill: else we must draw the sword,
E'en as our foes compel us, and God wills."
That speech was Truth, but, utter'd brokenly,
It died in air, seeking an answering shout,
But finding none in that full meeting of friends:
Faltering halfway; e'en as a miner's train
Broken, before the lurking magazine
Hath caught its flash, and with a burst of wild
Uproar, outblown all round. Yet, what he spoke,
Twas not unknown, nor unapproved to them:
They willed none other: but the many are like
Tinder, soon firing, if the flint strike swift
And strongly on the steel, and the sparks fall
Streamingly--else dull, cold, and dark: for light
And heat they have but scantly in themselves;
Must from without. The forward faculty
Of words, to wield them, cannily, at will,
Never did Linsingen give heed to it
And lacked it now--with his cramped utterance
Baulking their zeal--as a flagging sail bemocked
By gusts untoward. Oh words! air-words! how much
Stronger than substance are ye over will!
Who would be great must con and ken ye well
To help his greatness. Linsingen stood back;
And Hermann, thus, calmly at first, began:
"My friends! my brethren of this Fatherland,
I thank ye, that ye're met thus earnestly;
And these same thanks your children shall repeat
To bless your memories; and what erewhile
I wondered, that your patience was so tame,
That wonder is rebuked, and your wise truth
Self proven from its fruit; else were this birth--
This outbreak, now so hopeful, since ripetimed,
Abortive from rash hurry. What ye've heard
Of evils by our leader here rehearsed,
Doubtless you've felt them also deep within,
Worse than the bitterest words. The man that writhes
Beneath a whip, needs none to whisper him
'This smart is true, thou dreamest not.' But ye--
Have ye so felt, that feeling hath become
A flame, and with its sufferance fed its strength
For self-redress? For me, my calling is God's--
A Gospeller, a shepherd of men's souls:
And I have striven that my working life
Should earn itself that name--not that the name
Should throw its cloak of falsehood o'er my life.
And in this truth, as I have walked in it,
So, have I taught ye evermore the like,
To practise faithfully and earnestly
What ye profess. Such faith should give its own
Proof, in forbearance of wrongs done to it.
So, I beseech ye, undergo in Christ
Each his own burden, wreaking not himself:
But for his neighbour and the commonweal;
Impatience of their wrongs is all as true
Righteousness as to bear meekly our own.
Aye, and I tell ye, the one lives and grows
Out of the other's death. All we forego
Of indignation, each on self-behalf,
We hoard it for our brethren and country's need
To crush her outragers.
That warrants us
Thus rising to redress her rightfully.
For 'tis not restiveness 'gainst public wrong,
But passiveness beneath it that keeps back--
Nay--but stamps down--Man's welfare. When without
Cause, did e'er folk revolt? 'Tis not the curb,
But the spur, they need. Selfishness fears to stir--
Will rather suffer--(so short-sighted is wealth,
So coward, so mean)--than help uphold the main
Fence with its several stake. Thus doth each man's
Default lay open the whole All-man's field
To one man's rule.
Look round--how many huge
Nations, whose hugeness might be great, if free,
Are sunk in slavery? Age after age,
Father to son. 'Tis fear and faint distrust
Of his fellow, so dooms man to cowardly
Forbearance--'neath the Tyrant's wilful yoke--
Wrongful howe'er: those tyrants--that distrust
Upholds them--and they too uphold it in turn
Most foully--what care they for sighs and groans?
'Tis shot and steel and trusty fellowship
Of Patriots must stir them--but that sharp
Avenging Angel, few and far between
Are his onslaughts--Godly and glorious whene'er.
Hallowed each Marytyr who in righteousness
Answering that angel-call by high behest
Uprises to resist and sternly smite
The evil Ruler, worst of wrong-doers--
Fighting 'gainst him, for God--
This had ye done
Many years since, then had much sin been spared
To your Rulers, and much sufferance to you:
And yet 'tis well--since that sour leaven hath raised
Your souls to Freedom; and your meekness spurned
Warrants ye by sheer force to win, what Truth
With lowly prayer protesting, is but paid
With mockery: from robbers to preach back
Their prey! How humble! how hopeful!
No--our Lords
Make famine law; and we must quit them home,
Making Rebellion duty--look to the wise
Statesmen of the West--one penny, wrongfully
Taxed on their tea, to them was a just war--
They fought and won it--glorious thenceforth--
And we--our bread--our life--thus clipped! dear friends,
I do beseech ye for the good of all
Abate the wrongful few; drown Flunkeydom
In the gutter--plush and all--lace, puff bag, plumes,
Put Manhood in its place--Wreak your short wrath--
That lasting peace may 'stablish on sure grounds,
Our rights, our lives, our fortunes of us all.
For me--ye've known me long, and what ye know
Be it my witness; if tried hitherto,
True in all else, staid--earnest--free of self--
Then trust me this: and oh! misdeem me not
To think I and my office are at odds
For that, since this sore mischief gnaws our life,
I counsel ye--but what 'vails counsel? whom sheer
Stress of misrule doth drive us to such deeds--
As else I would not, for all worlds to win.
But now both Need and Conscience cry us on
And Faith--for know ye brethren what Faith is?
No sluggard thing, but like the air we breathe,
Which feeds our life with its calm influence,
But yet can storm foul things away; and stir
This world's pool, with its healing angel-wings.
Yes, it comes down to win us peace on earth
Thro' its own warfare--for what Christ himself
Said, that He cast a firebrand light 'mong men,
That must we do: preparing the Lord's way,
Straightening the crooked paths, smoothing the rough,
Filling each valley, levelling each hill.
So shall all flesh see God's salvation wrought,
And Faith fulfilled. This for my function's sake:
Lest ye should deem I wrong its holiness,
To bless thus boldly and hallow your outbreak.
Next, since with force outright meet them we must--
Our force, what is it, in amount and plight,
How willed, how weapon'd, how enured to war?
Why brethren, neither witch nor wizard am I,
Nor have no spell to make our weakness strength,
Nor their strength weakness--only--we are men--
And in our manhood must we strongly win,
Or sternly die. Ah! but if that be our aim,
There have been others have essayed the like:
And how they sped, their history is writ
In their own blood--the headsman's axe fulfilled
Its sharp behest more surely than their sword.
True, they fared ill--most true, they died half-way,
Whom this low world, that they should live in it,
Was all unworthy. Martyr, hangman and judge
Are dead alike; the loss of life, the odds
Of a few years, Time hath made even now.
But there's an after doom all must abide:
And there are three men and three several hopes,
And which think you the best and fairest one?
Oh! I've strong faith their earthly doom stands not
In Heaven--Sure for the good fight they fought,
Wrestling 'gainst principalities and powers,
The rulers of the darkness of this world,
There is laid up for them a righteous crown
By the Lord's grace--So for the heavenly hope:
Now for the earthly one. They failed and why?
'Twas their will first, and then their shaft, fell short.
For what is he but a fool, the man who fain
Would shoot thro' a steel plate, and strings his bow
With a silk thread, and draws it silken-like,
Most girlish? but on their ruins we climb,
O'er the dead body of their enterprise;
The mouldering bone-heaps--their sad witnesses
Of downfal, our shrewd warning for success.
But how succeed, what hope, what means, which way?
Why, brethren, 'tis but first to know yourselves--
How strong--so knowing, and so manfully
With your known strength working your righteous will.
For ye are the main body, sinew, bone,
Blood of this land: and what ye will, ye shall,
Spite of your lords: whose strongest power is but
An idle plume, that waves on the steel cap,
And idly waving fondly brags itself
To guard the head and crown it over-flaunts:
A show for courtly sunshine, joy and pride,
To swell the flunkey soul, but in the crash
Of fight, 'mid flashing swords and cloven helms,
Where is their vaunt?--gone!--for the feather it is,
Fluttering down the wind.
Friends, what ye will
That shall ye have, so ye will earnestly.
But such an earnest will needs earnest worth
For motive. There they erred, who fondly dreamt
Their brain-born constitution had some charm
That full contentment needs must follow it.
A thing without heart, life, or likelihood,
With ink for all its blood--a birth still born--
In the printers' winding sheets. That idol fell--
Fell, flat as Dagon. The folk's eager will
'Gan wane, and then, wrathful to feel itself
So fooled, broke out, self-maddened; till in that
Mad fit, it stormed all strength away, then sank--
Sank down, weakly and listlessly, to wear
The old fetters.
But for us, a better wit
Guides us a better way; and, be ye sure
The spirit that we raise we'll feed it too--
Fail it shall not for food. Rash say ye--how so?
Come forth the man who said it. Yes, erewhile
I was discreet in counsel and in deed;
But well I know boldest decision now
Is best discretion. What, again? brute force,
Say'st thou, brute force? why yes, my feeble friend,
'Tis truly to be dreaded: but by whom?
By those whose wrongful weakness withholds aught
From rightful strength: look to our sires! long years
They wasted arguing, then armed and won.
E'en so must we likewise; since peace is a plague,
Gird we our loins for war. Ye, who've no sword
Sell each his coat and buy one; for know this:
The devil of selfish sway will rend us sore
Ere he quit hold of us--scabbard away--
He hath no ears for parley--and best so--
For in old abuse compromise is no cure,
Better off-sweep it with high-handed sway.
Self-willed: which asks no warrant from times past,
And those that shall come after, gives them none;
Since sprung from the sword's point, not the Law's pen.
Needing no curious adjustment nice,
No purblind charters; nor fears shallows or straits,
Since steering the main sea--so were all safe:
So should our revolution go full round,
Smooth as the earth revolving in mid-air,
No partial cheek nor jar--selfish concerns
Confounded in main change: no struggle or spite,
Quibbling, that frets against small tampering shifts,
But wonder and dumb awe--e'en prejudice
Once launched, losing all hold of olden things
Must needs along, must cling to Freedom's ark,
Foregoing its fond trappings, or else drown
In Freedom's flood--nor bicker against doom,
But undergo the yoke.
True the folk's will
Is slow to kindle, heavy to upraise,
But set our lever once on the land's self,
We'll heave it high enough. Then if your will
Hold fellowship with mine, resolve we thus.
Since wrongfulness hath overridden of old
Our hard-earned rights, our welfare, freedom, and faith,
Well nigh to the extinction of all three;
The poor man by the rich outlawed of bread,
The Law depraved, the Church careless of Christ.
And since this folk, forbearing hitherto,
But stirred at last for Truth's sake and their own,
Hath sought redress of grievance and found none.
But rather hath been mocked of scornful men,
Called, but untrue, the representatives
And working body of the people's will:
Who yet in truth do none the smallest thing
Whereof that people would. Therefore 'tis thus
Agreed, and thus resolved by those met here.
'Tis good and fitting that the commonalty
In might and right of its own majesty,
Seeing that selfish lords unanswerable
To its Law, have hitherto trampled it down,
Should undertake itself its own self-rule,
And frame its tide, its life-blood, in its true
Channel, to run straightforward from its source:
From its side-issues feeding its side-fields.
Begin we then from God's own Truth, hat man's
True life is mainly self development,
Which cannot be without self-government.
And as the man's life, so the folks' likewise
Must be self-framed thro' its own mind's forewill,
Else were that life some other's, not its own.
Hence must the folk's will settle the folk's law
Not for the gain of few, but the main good,
Likeliest reached by self-rule; since no folk
Willingly wrongs itself; or at worst, when known,
Will sure redress the wrong. Thence, how folk-rule
Were best fulfilled, 'tis our main need to know.
Therefore divide this land into new shires,
Thirty or more, with each a million souls,
And forty representatives for each,
Whereof the greatest rentowners shall name
Eight, and the greatest taxpayers eight more.
Each class, on stated qualifying votes
And rents, the higher having plural rates;
The highest, ten, those intermediate
As council shall deem best; the lowest two--
All below these three several standards, one.
Next the learned callings, those allowed, shall name
Four steadmen; and the other rate and tax
Payers shall last name twenty; since the highest
Stands not without the lowest; and the higher
A State is reared, it needs a broader base.
Besides, no safeguard else the workman hath
Upholding all, but oft down-trodden himself.
But those unrated, who earn wages, or else
Have means, shall pay a poll-tax, and be called
Pollmen, and any three of them may choose
To vote for them, by secondary voice,
One steadman, who shall give one vote for the three.
So none shall be denied free choice, but those
Who live by idle alms or theft, nor pay
E'en the poll-tax--such have no part with us.
For bulwark some must be 'gainst rabble rule:
Since only the warm working blood can build
The body; which rejects or excreates all
Dull or dead offal as unfit for its frame.
Hence only those should choose State-rulers who bear
State-burdens--so shall worth have steadying weight.
Such forty steadmen, making the shiremote,
Shiremotes-men shall be called, and rule the shire:
Which so, shall be self-governed in its own
Concerns, a lesser State within the main.
Choosing its headmote for executive,
Committee-men for reference and report,
And Senate for revisal, fifteen men,
Who shall vote first in the main body, and then
Revise its sanctions. This shiremote shall have
Large powers, but local only, and e'en these
Subject to regulation by the main
Landmote; but such control to countervail
These lower motes shall choose that highest one.
Thus--each of the twelve hundred from the shires
Shall name, for the main, one hundred, women or men.
At large, no local limit: for so worth
Shall likeliest get its due reward, and so
May lofty minds, tho' few and far apart,
Combine their rays to one true central choice,
And thro' such concentration reach their ends
Hopeless from trivial suffrage. And of those
So named, the hundred on whom most votes meet
Shall serve--thus mainly--but some specialties
Omitted here, must riper counsel adjust--
Then, as the shiremotes, the mainmote likewise,
Its process shall ordain and settle its state,
Thro' headmote, senate, and committee-man:
Thence, single and supreme shall rule the whole land,
From this its constitution: which shall ne'er
Be changed, unless by two-thirds of its own
Motesmen, and also, of the joint shiremotes--
From such safeguards Democracy hath hope,
And so, its fearful name forgotten, and fierce
Nature foregone in righteous mild folk-rule,
It sets more truly forth the fable old:
To belly and limbs adding head and heart--
Its heart the folk's will--the lawmote its head--
Its belly the main toil-won wealth--its limbs
The workmen. Thus the whole, fitly compact,
May grow up one true body, one live Church,
Atoned in Christ to God. A body now
Hugely uncouth and brutish; but henceforth
Within its stalwart fabric, sound and safe,
Confining and compressing its own force--
May guide from its head-counsel its heart-blood;
Tho' swirling oft, never o'erswelling in wild
Excess: and haply so shall speed its hope--
But thereto needs stedfast conservative
Channels, a strong-boned life-stead to frame blind
Hot-blood: for loose power works no good, but waste
Only, until in due limits coerced--
Thus be the State-rule settled: and, henceforth
The rule of property should be redress'd
From its wrong bias unto its right aim--
Which is, indeed, to comfort industry
As sure it doth, where Reason limits it--
Tho' oftener, self-seeking greediness
Hath wrested it, to pamper idleness:
Resolve we then this foremost--the land's growth
By God's grace given, belongs only to those
Thro' whom, by work or wages, skill or means
'Tis grown; hence on each farm be the farmer's stock
Rated, and for its use a yearly hire
Be paid him on that rate from the land's growth,
And for his management a further share;
Also some quittance to the owner of late,
And for State-tax; the rest, they who have toil'd
Shall share, by rule of overseers ordained
To allot hands to work, and judge debates;
But for the landlord 'tis an impious name,
By man usurped from God--name and right too
We forsay wholly and bury them for dead.
Henceforth the State shall hold their ownership,
Paying them compensation, lest they starve:
The less as they have taxed the more our bread
For many years, and now must quit the account.
But since high-birth with breeding, hath some soul
Of goodness, specially its own, tho' oft
Self-shamed--and courtesy, which, more than speech,
Lifts man above brutes, should belong to it,
Thence in that hope, Gentry we will uphold
For sake of the whole folk more than its own;
Nor will we only uphold, but strengthen it,
On its landstead, deep-rooted from old time.
Erst as landowner, hence as landholder--
For such landlordship courteous and high-born
Is Aristocracy; when true, a truth
Lovely, not hateful; tho' some hate its name:
But lest it sink to Alazonocracy
In dronish proud self-will, we must find means
How its good leaven may work thro' the loaf--
Therefore each shire in hundreds shall be split,
And these in tithings--and each tithing choose
From its indwellers, motes-men for its own
Friendsmote, and for the main friendsmote of the whole
Hundred, one steadman. These friendmotes shall be
For social ministration, as lawmotes
For legal--or as crime and causemotes, each
For its calling. Shall State ordinance, choose heads,
And divide functions: taking cognizance
Of what belongs to them; friendly concerns
Improvement, pastime, furtherance of whate'er
Helps welfare; soul or body; science, art,
Skill, culture; comfort, social and spiritual:
'Bove all, of their poor brethren's need--their main
Mighty undertaking, unwieldy to all else
But Christian Love, which hence shall supersede
The hateful iron Poor Law, enforced no more.
And of these friendmotes, bye and main, the chief
Landholders in the country, and in towns,
The foremost townsmen shall be senators:
And with them others, whom professional
Skill, trade and wealth shall name, each from its bulk.
That choice may overrule ill chance: and thence
Those that were hitherto but forestanders
Shall be foredoers--each to undertake
What best becomes him and belongs to him
After his calling--so a circle wide
Of Christian work were open to each will--
But that were little--common erst as air,
And no more prized--but now--'twere much to feel
The spur of special duty, and the glow
Of fellowship: to swell the cheerful shout
Of progress, lend an earnest helping hand
'Gainst Satan's tottering throne, and do the work
Of a new manly, Christian, godly world--
Not of the old self-hacknied worldiness.
To be God's fellow-workers--That were much--
These friendmotes mean and hope it. So our new
Landholders shall become a living power
From a dead ownership. Leading aloft,
Not like a kite's tail, all unwillingly
Draggling and wriggling after. So shall speed
What now they clog--each in his several range
Mainly, but helping others, where he can,
For social, moral, and material good.
O'erseeing the poor, schools and hospitals;
Furnishing in fair halls at public cost
For mote-days their friend meetings, for folk-days
Teachings and recreations; helps for art,
Skill, science; music, lectures, manly games
In parks and gardens; welcoming the folk
With kindly hospitable holidays.
So best may Aristocracy assert
Itself, and, haply, blend thro' handicraft
And drudging toil some gentler feeling and grace,
And love of fair refining fellowship.
With hope to make these slow grades stepping-stones
To the all-atoning altar crowning them.
So may such shire-motes, friendmotes, magistrates
With weighty ballast steady the State-ship.
Else, danger, lest the folk, drops multiplied
To an ocean, each self-weak, but mighty in main,
Should if self left, by Conscience uncontrolled
Within, be drawn by influence from without
Thro' thoughtless fellowship, or mooning wild
Agitation and attraction, to break loose
In reckless wild excess, unknowing why--
Or if known, wrongful--from hate, envy or greed.
Therefore we need standards of weight and worth
O'er the low level upreared loftily,
For popular respect to look to them
In Love, Faith, Reverence; and so lift itself
Above itself to the height it contemplates.
And that such standards be not lightly stirred,
Like pyramids, self-sure in their own strength
Majestic, tempering glare with shadowy awe,
And staying what they o'ersee, the shifting sands,
Which else from blind instinctive surging drift
Make all one desert, barren as themselves.
These standards, in each shire, as magistrates
Shall advise, arbitrate, conciliate,
In all Life's knotty needs, not Law alone;
Guiding in simpler cases untaught minds
Thro' legal forms and process; then what kind
Counsel avails not, shall decide by Law.
Beside all this, for the land's management
The landholders shall be land-ministers;
For God and the main good: for their own too:
Accounting each to the State; whose steadman he is.
And for that purpose they shall hold in each
Tithing their farmmotes, weekly, as may seem,
Or monthly, rendering their reports therein
To the head-mote and council--o'erlooking work,
Employing, paying workmen, buying too
And selling 'neath the farm-council's control--
Which, if skill, health or honest earnest will
Fail him, shall name some fitter in his stead.
And of his pay as working landholder
Abate one half: its full amount being fixed
On thoro' inquisition by the State.
Which, shall hereafter be sole landowner.
Leaving each landholder his own homestead
With its park, garden, all appendages,
On a light yearly quittance. Paying all rent,
And taking, in corn-worth; reserving too
These and all other questions for its own
Revisal, and full final settlement.
Taking good heed that landholders shall rue
Little, if at all, their loss of ownership.
But as their management, must their meed be,
This scanted if that slacken'd. To these ends
Be the land's native worth valued, and on
That value be assessed a fixed State-rent,
To be new settled once in twenty years.
Thereafter labourer, farmer, landholder
(Who may himself be farmer, finding stock),
Shall each be paid from sale of the year's growth,
On scale of graduation 'tween two terms,
Highest and lowest--the most gainful years
Shall so supply the scantiest--and leave, too,
Beside that surplus some for other needs--
Thus all shall gain from improved management--
And things most needful shall be dealt from stores,
That weekly wage may be less needed; and these,
Managers, one from each class, shall control.
For cheapness both and goodness--and withal
To keep off filching meddlers from the fund.
We need not so much counter-sleight--against
All comers. This same council, in three sets
Shall class, and pay its workmen by their worth
On larger farms: for the smaller, what one man
Can till, that let him hold--paying State-rent
Only--double for grass, single for plough--
Thus mainly--but full rules of management
From riper thought, shall our chief council ordain.
Next for the Law: 'tis much in fault--behoves
To bring it back to Truth, whence 'tis bewrayed.
Untwisting all the wiles of crookedness
To open-handed clear straightforwardness:
But so to settle rules of right and wrong,
Strong minds, not lawyers' craft is needed--as well
Ask foxes to guard geese. 'Tis a stiff task--
Who undertakes it, must well heed these truths.
Law must be stern and strict; since Law and Love
Were ever, and are, twain: and for Man's weal
The characters of evil against good,
Black against white, by slackness now o'erslurred,
By justice must be deeply branded in:
That wickedness may rue, goodness rejoice.
But since the Law hath lost much of its dread
Thro' silly sentimental maunderers,
Who cherish evildoers, it shall now
Be sharpened, to smite sorely, as of yore.
That Sin may see and shudder--Hence, slow pains
Shall precede Death, more fearful than itself,
Foreshadowing to the sinner his own Hell.
For who but fools deem all murder alike?
Some from hot blood--some prove the murderer
Self-sold to Satan, should thence bear his brand.
For the evildoer, hard work, hard fare; short scourge
Nor other comfort than the hope to escape
Here and hereafter, by behaviour fair
Proven thro' lingering trial, the sour lot
He abhors, nor likely its return will risk.
Sorrow and steady toil starve guilt: The known
Prison scares sinners more than the unknown Hell.
Next, longer doom must punish each relapse,
That lengthened toil may beget skill, and each
Prison from its inmates work sustain itself--
Further, to shorten suits and strife, all debt
By sale, shall be of faith, not law--who will
May trust--else take a pledge: sue he shall not.
So each man to himself were law enough
And safeguard--but who wilfully runs risk,
Let him rue it--nor crave help from Law, meant only
A shield 'gainst others, not against self-wrong.
Then honesty, again, as erst, were high
Honour, and life's path cleared of thousand thorns.
Next, lawyers shall be all law-officers,
Under the sword, as clients under the shield
Of State; which shall receive all fees from these
After its settled standard, and pay those
A yearly salary; also a fixed
Per-centage on fees earned for it by them.
One such law-officer shall the State name
For every district, who shall keep the maps
Of all its parishes, with properties
All numbered in a triplicate register
For him, the parish church, and State, one each,
Lest the State be defrauded of its dues.
Nor any advocate shall be allowed
Unless for party's disability.
Or for transcendent import of the cause:
But law-clerks of the State, one for each side,
Shall frame all pleadings into written form.
But this foreprocess, in civil suit; shall be.
The magistrate, whoe'er belongs, shall hear
The parties, and if need be, witnesses,
To hinder, by atonement, hateful strife,
And if thence reconcilement grow, so good,
Else, the gainsayer, if cast, shall pay a fine.
And if such magistrate shall deem the plaint
Doubtful, the plaintiff shall give bail for costs,
Then be the suit to another magistrate
Carried; to one for small; to three or four
Jointly, for greater stakes; to the full court
For revisal, on appeal. Such courts shall search,
Settle and instate the resulting right,
Whether of law, or fact, or both, without
A jury's blundering blockheadedness.
Thus for all civil suits, and if the change
Work well, for criminal too--only in State
Trials, for treason, libel, or sedition,
And also libel and slander between men,
The jury shall decide: and, five of six
Shall condemn, else the culprit shall go clear.
For Freedom's life is free discussion in speech
Or writ: and State-power needs much counterpoise.
For selfish men, the many, of folk-right
Reck not: would let the shepherd wrong the sheep.
Thence whoso 'gainst State-wrong sounds the alarm,
Deserves much honour for his zeal, slight blame
For haste--forbear him then, or give him at least
A jury of his countrymen for judge;
Husband and wife shall answer each for self,
Not the other; and hold severally each their own.
No suit shall be for marriage unfulfilled,
Save on betrothal registered in form;
Nor for seduction any civil suit,
But criminal. No man for his agents' acts
Shall answer, (under stress of law) unless
Specially ordered, or needfully implied.
Traders shall not be sworn to try trade debts.
Game, where'er found, shall be the landowners,
And poachers doomed as thieves. Laws shall be fram'd
'Gainst drunkenness and those who foster it.
A tenant holding over after due
Notice to quit, shall be deemed a trespasser,
And for the owner, any constable
Entry may force, and reinstate his right.
Better so shortly at first, than troublously
At last, as now. Judges shall mend mistakes,
Unless misleading the main cause. No quirks
Technic shall thwart Truth, nor entitle fraud.
No minor's debt shall ever bind him, unless
For plain clothes, food, and shelter, lest he starve.
Nor lords be bound for more than working men.
Nor shall e'en marriage give a right to more.
And since what once was sport is poison now,
Running, like wildfire, yearly worse and worse,
Thro' our country's blood; no horse shall run in race
Under four years, two miles, and ten stone weight;
To try swift strength, not sleight of jadish speed,
Else, be horse forfeit--owner and rider fined.
None shall take other than his father's true
Birth-name, but on State leave, and a thousand pounds
Paid down--the same for every month, if un-
Licensed; to strip the swindler's self-plumed show.
These and what other changes may seem good
To shorten, cheapen process, amend, improve,
Fit council shall revise, settle, decree.
Thus shall Law wield, not only scourge and sword,
But an olive-branch withal; may heal the sore
She now but wrathens. Not as hirelings do,
Warping, belying, juggling right and wrong,
Clashing with cunning drift, each against each,
Two self-wills, blindly to be crushed or bruised,
But standing fair between, to balance both.
So tempering doom with grace: not without hope
To renew Christian brotherhood, from strife
Not wholly unfair, hateful, or ruinous.
Further, the State shall help, or even compel
(If need be, failing other helpful means)
Co-operation between hirer and hired;
By partnership of profits: binding so
Master and man to the only union true,
Of mutual gain or loss, trust and goodwill.
Abating here self-pride; there envious spite.
And since short weights and measures are to God
Abomination, and a crying curse
To Man, from buyers wronged, sellers depraved;
Henceforth, for all such dealers be dealt back
The felon's doom, foreiture, gaol, hard work,
So should worst thieves worst rue their thievery.
For those too who sell silver and gold, debased
Below mint-standard, or adulterate food.
And be it resolved--the Church is naught--a thing
Rotten throughout, essence and ordinance:
No true Church, for the Lord dwells not therein,
But a foul den, sheltering many thieves,
And money-changers, trafficking men's souls
With hire and sale, instead of saving Grace.
Being one half or nigh to their own flocks
Foreigners, knowing them no otherwise
Than feeding on their flesh, clothed with their fleece.
Truly, a sin to draw damnation down
Not only on them but us who suffer them;
As God will sure require it at our souls--
Therefore let this huge scandal be pulled down,
And then reframed in frame apostolic
After old Wickliffe, his right earnest wise.
That so the clergy first be Christianized.
Thence shall each congregation rule itself
Without all bias of authority
In things of Faith save the free Bible alone.
Choosing its elders, and they choosing again
Deacons and preachers of the Word; whereof
Each preacher; so he profess faith in Christ's
Teachings, shall be his own interpreter.
No other forms of creed imposed on him.
And tithes shall cease, and each Church bear its charge
They who own none being taxed in aid of all--
Not without profit to themselves--for God's
Worship much hinders Satan's wasteful lures.
But since by holy writ we have one Priest
Only, and one Faith-founder, Christ alone,
And since the only words spoken by Christ
For rule of worship forbid public prayer
And ordain private--stand we brethren fast,
Whatever others may ordain, by Christ's
Standard--bound man with man in covenant
Thereto: nor take from preacher nor from book
Our prayers: such strange dry stuff, like painted sticks,
Kindle not, warm, nor stay the soul within;
Which from live inward growth alone can bear
Faith's fruit, and knowing its own needs, in its own
Ground rooted, by its own Conscience convinced,
Shall find its one sure comfort in self-prayer.
This to unfold, not others nor his own
The preacher should intend, leaving between
His sermons, readings, hymns, some awful space
Of silence: for soul-prayer, each 'gainst his heart's
Evil, and for its good 'neath stated heads,
Some time allowed for each, but thereto needs
For minds unskilled to inward homily
Earnest foretrial and self-tasking Truth.
These should the preacher quicken, and each Church
Thro' Faith's sore troubles, by communion and class
Help its own children. So may worship and work
Be blent together in true Christian life.
And be it resolved that everwearing toil
Befits not man, being brute drudgery;
Unless, which few men can, he raise his work
To worship, doing all he doth for God.
Else must such hardship stunt his nature, born
Earthly, but yet for self-development
To Heaven, a little lower than angels are.
And from this rule the working-man hath right
Of leisure and appliance to enlarge
His span of life; toiling to live, and not
Living to toil, as need o'erstrains him now:
Barring all spiritual exercise,
Stunting all holy growth, and robbing so
His soul of its unprized, tho' God-given
Birthright, its means of grace, and hope of Heaven.
Then to forfend this evil, and gain this good,
Let fitting recreation be foreseen,
Both for refreshment of Man's weekly toil,
And holy comfort after worldiness.
But, since vice ever grows from vacancy,
Therefore let needful aids be minister'd
To occupy in sport or seriousness
The space that else the evil one would fill.
And be those aids varied for various needs.
Gardens and spacious shades, where the weary sense
In their cool freedom may refresh itself;
And contemplative leisure study God
By Nature's help, his best interpreter;
Besides, what ground for pastime may seem meet
Whenever thronging toil hath holiday,
For lusty games, and proof of manliness.
Next, since Man sins only from lack of true
Knowledge, mistaking evil for his good;
And as he learns, e'en so he practises,
Practising only what he first hath learned;
Therefore it much behoves the common good
And common right that each man be taught well:
Lest evil discipline lead to ill deeds;
And then the Law rising up wrathfully
Albeit itself worthier far of blame
In its default, than was the man in his act,
Do bloody vengeance on the deed foredone:
Making much evil in its slothfulness,
And mending it with more in its hastiness;
To punish eager, as careless to prevent:
Rather a hangman than good governor:
For to him kindly grace and love belongs--
Therefore be there provided public schools,
Industrial for good behaviour, toil,
Love, godliness: to strengthen body and heart
First, and then soul and mind to earnestness.
Thither shall those within that school-range send
Their children, or else prove their time well-spent
For earnings--since work teaches better 'n books:
There shall each girl be taught things useful and good,
Deftly to sew, then read, write, cypher--and what
Of household work schools can; but far 'bove these
Conditions gentle and gracious, kindness, truth,
Reverence for elders, willingness to work,
Holiness; but the boy, if born to toil
Yet like to learn, as one in twenty may,
Let him be taught: up to accounts: for trade
And skilled handcraft: thence, if his bent of will
Drive him toward learned callings, give him aid
For his whole mind fully to unfold itself.
Else, if dull, froward or untowardly
For books, (as worthiest workers often are,
Since stolid implies solid, muscle and bone,
In them more prominent than nerve and brain)
Then teach him to love God, and those who in life
Belong to him; to do biddings; work well.
No more--for Manhood needs no wider ring--
Such lowly wisdom shames the sharpest wit.
And what he lacks of learning, if his wife
Own it, he loves her, his helpmate, all the more;
Each from the other getting what each needs
Kindly commutual; his strength with her skill:
Thence to the weaker wife shall respect grow
In wedlock: Hence the mother to her own
Standard will strive to bring her children up.
So childhood shall be taught--but when, toward noon,
Youth ripens into manhood, let free-will
Be kindly aided to take up the aim
By discipline foregone at her due time.
And to that end the friendmotes may help much.
Somewhat perhaps by books--but more by talk,
Cheerful, and teachings of the living tongue,
With pictured illustration; and not least
Concerts, for friendly order and accord,
Games, singing, dancing; for such lively hints
Tune not alone the body, but the mind,
In moving harmony. So Grace, too, grows;
And finer sentiment so to the soul
Attempered, may teach fitness to the uncouth,
And subdue sinful lust to heart-blending Love.
Or, first in comelier spirits, somewhat o'er self
Prevailing, may from them reach and redeem
The low coarse clay from utter loutishness.
But since all gifts and grace beside, without
Godliness, leave man where they found him, low
As the dust whence he was drawn, so culture's first
And latest aim must be that godly one--
For Nature needs thoro' development
Mostly in man, her highest and best work,
When fulfilled--else if stunted, lowest and worst.
Being then a mannish brute--more mischievous
Since strengthened with man's organs for brute lust.
And such development cannot stop short
At self, but spreads thro' social and politic,
And rises by devotion unto God.
Therefore behoves us practically in man
To prosecute God's project, and unfold
The hard-coiled heart to expansive sympathy
Outward; with Faith upward and holiness:
From its central spot to a wide circumference
Of kind concern, from sense to godly soul,
Public from private, patriot from self-love.
So Freedom may run happily between
Law and Religion, steadfast continents.
And so Man's earthly spirit may sum itself
In heavenly: from such beginnings small,
Thro' fellow-feeling trained, by daily wont
Of duties, social, politic, devout,
To God at last--woe to who hinders it,
But how best help, needs counsel wiser 'n mine.
Next, council should advise, how best to make
Wedlock, life's stem, where its roots meet, and whence
Its branches, leaves, fruit, grow, a well-earned high
Reward of steady worth: a holy tie,
Not a chance huddled knot, tangled too oft,
And brangled; also how train boy and youth
To wholesome awe and deference worshipful
For elders, teachers, masters; seldom now
Proven, but blackguardly self-will instead
With outlash wild shaming our slack outleave.
Needs sharp strict curb: else riot will rule all.
And be it resolved, soldiership shall not be
A special calling, but all men alike
Enured in arms, to help defensive need.
And be it resolved, 'tis an unholy thing
To make a general dearth for gain of few.
Therefore what other lands can send, be ours
Free to receive, save the State's needful dues.
But by this law: the rule that other lands
Apply to us, shall we apply to them.
First then, we tax a tenth of its worth here
On produce of all countries that take ours
At a like rate or less--if they exact
More, so will we; by rule reciprocal.
Else, if they send us their excess, yet shut
Their market against ours, free-trade is none:
Nor any reason why we should so help
Their efforts to outdo our skill with theirs
By giving them all vantage, taking none.
Besides, 'tis good by fostering home growths
To save the cost of transport, and to shift
Some part of our State-load on aliens.
Who else with riper clime and working means
And lower wage would overbear our own;
Making our land a sink for all their cheap
Superfluous offal, and thence heading back
Our course of home-trade, as full dykes stop drains:
Sickening our field-growth and handicraft,
Till by that flooding refuse stifled and sunk
In swamp-like sour stagnation it droops and dies.
Then, from all rivals freed, that foreign cheap
Stuff becomes dear, as practise sadly proves.
Words then we trust not, but till trade be free
Indeed, we deal with others as they with us.
And since to what we've holden long we hold
Most, from old wont--but what comes suddenly
Is surplus, and what's taken thence, is felt
Less sorely, likelier spared; therefore the State
To prompt men to live kindly, not die rich,
Shall take one third of a dead man's ownership:
One half if he die childless--all he owned
Within his last year, being reckoned his:
Unless on sale for worth--all who partake
Must disclose all; whoe'er hides or abets
Shall forfeit his whole share with prison and fine.
Further, the old straightforward course of trade
Is now sore cursed with meddlers--middle-men--
Brokers--or fitlier, breakers--hopeless whoe'er
Is stranded 'mong them: whence trade's even tide
Is wabbled up and down, trust oftentimes
Betrayed--fraud rife--traffic demoralized.
And by shrewd selfish concert needful goods
Forestalled, and prices screwed; that the poor man's mites
May swell the griper's millions. True, all this,
So the blockbook-heads tell us, is all right--
We feel it a sore crying wrong; and as such
Smite it; thus: all stocks, shares, debentures, bonds,
Bills, values, funds of states or companies,
Or chartered bodies, shall be sold to buyer
By owner, with no middleman between,
Or else by public sale, at foreset time
And place; daily or weekly, as seems good.
And any middle man on brokerage
Of other goods and values shall pay two
Per cent. of the sale's import, to the State:
(Unless such sale be public: 'tis then free.)
With penalty of twice the value's amount
Half to the State, half to the informer due,
By the delinquent broker to be paid.
Further, all copyrights, monopolies
And patents, are alike unwarranted.
For Man's work ne'er can be original,
Since all suggestions spring from former ones,
And no self-called inventor but from the old
Store takes a hundred fold more than he adds.
Freely he took, and freely let him give.
And if he choose to publish let him not
Think counter things, to publish privily.
But each mind drawing from the main should drop
Therein its small dew-driblets, sprung therefrom.
Besides what one found many more might find.
Why, then, so block the many for the one.
Thus with law-traps and thorns to beset the paths
'Tis as tho' some explorer happening first
On Darien's narrow neck should thence forbid
Both continents to after comers, tho',
From their own onset, taking the same track.
Such froward doltish hindrance we forbid--
Better, for signal merits, give State-meeds
But few and sparely, after thoro' proof,
Well weighed--for worth is, mostly, its own reward.
And since, the greed of hasty gain is Man's
Main curse, and State-example lavishing
Its public pay, kindles and feeds that greed.
Hence should the State, as doth the Gospel, stamp
Christ's simple pattern on its followers,
Content with little--neither exacting much,
Nor spending--since to wring from toil its hard
Earnings for idle waste, is wickedness
Most wanton--such taxation is twice curs'd,
To giver and taker; sparingness is thrift,
And savingness salvation to State-weal.
Needs too, a strong curb on official sway--
Manhood's sore canker and curse,--whence likeliest,
Freedom becomes corrupt, e'en to self-loss--
Better one lord, lion, nay wolf, than swarms
Of vermin, crawling, teasing, stinging our blood;
Making the common wealth a common waste
For ass, goose, swine, by their base selfish greed
Fast bound in braying, cackling, grunting league
Against all earnestness of thriftier tilth.
But like an ulcer, drawing from the whole
Body, its lively working blood, to swell
Their lazy foulness--So the mischief grows.
And so self-life, self-help, self-will, self-worth
Are lost, and self-love only left: to live
Jew-like, by jobbery, shams, o'erreaching wiles--
Therefore resolve we that the standard of pay
For all State-hirelings, high or low, shall be
The ploughman's daily wage reckon'd in wheat:
And other work, as each, compared therewith
Hath more or less of hardship, skill and worth,
So be it paid proportionate thereto.
Statesmen or judge by the units multiple,
Service unskilled or slight by its minuple:
But higher than tenfold no rate shall be,
Unless our after Council otherwise
Ordain, for offices of special charge.
And since a private master gives not pay
To former hirelings, neither shall the State:
Which to all ruled by it should show a true
Pattern of thrift--not, as oft seen, of waste.
The head betraying to a vermin horde
The body--but henceforth wage is for work
Alone, unless for wounds disabling it--
But, lest thrift fail, one twentieth from all pay
Shall be abated for a pension fund.
And since Man's greed is but a blind snow-ball
Gathering wealth, not for its worthy use
And comfort; but for self-pride--so to say,
Behold--admire me--biggest of snow-balls--
Nay--of dung-heaps--corruptive, when close-piled,
Productive, when spread fairly--We must hence
Further this fair spread: taxing bloated wealth
With rising graduation--that gold-greed
Be checked; land-greed, yet worse, we've rooted out.
And Poor-rates shall be drawn from Christian Love,
Not Law--so shall that Love slumbering now,
Since superseded by forced doles and thence
Less needed, yearn to its renewed strong need;
Free from Law's iron bars and hateful screws--
Thence willing hearts quickening helpful hands,
May bind in kind communion wealth to want,
And Faith, thro' works, feel her way heavenward.
Further the people's danger is not now,
From ruthless tyrants or from plundering mobs,
But from their own corruption, idleness,
Rankness, place-hunting, and place-holding rot--
Whereby the many are bribed to make the few
Their rulers, who turn privilege to pelf:
By secret sale of contracts, offices,
Ownerships, till the plague corrupts the whole blood,
Slackens the body, deadens working will:
While wens like those claim pay and honour as heads.
For who would strive when he could sit at ease
And watch the storm-blown seamen from the shore
Of calm official sham? This deadly sap
To stay, behoves stern will and iron strength;
For those blood-sucking swarms are keen, and they
Who watch them, waiting to suck after them
Yet keener--to this root must the axe be laid.
First by low salaries, next by Law's sharp lash,
Scourging wrong-doers--then competitive
Foretrials, then by sifting choice of men,
Earnest to serve the country for its sake,
From zeal and conscience of their calling, as now
Godly men serve Christ; asking not so much
High wages, as a field for high-aimed work.
Also be 'stablished shrewd committee-men,
Strong-willed, stern, earnest, watchful against all
Corruption, as fendykes-men against rats.
Tax-pruners, to sift narrowly all new
Outlay, and to report what can be saved
And spared from the old. No new charge shall be set
Unless two thirds of them shall vote for it.
Nor any old retained by less than half.
Nor shall the mainmote cancel their report
By fewer than three-fourths of their full vote.
So haply from its hirelings may the State
Get as good work as private masters do,
Not shammed or slurred as now--a deadly shame--
Since from State-models others take their mould.
Next, standard embassies, that stir more strife
Than e'er they still, shall be forbidden--and then
And there, where needs arise, Statesmen be sent.
And since, from hasty greed Fraud daily grows
More rife, in trade, companies, bankruptcy;
And since such roguery is worse than sheer
Unblushing theft, more wasteful and dangerous:
By sterner pains be all such frauds repress'd.
And the old wholesome laws gainst usury
From mawkish purblind sophistry repealed
Be they renewed, with further stringency
And strength, intensive and extensive too--
That thrift may plod on steadily as erst,
With small gains, helping trade, not spendthrift waste.
Further, lives fleet like leaves, nor can the now
Rule the after; hence the State, for wholesome check
On loans, shall stake against them taxes, enough
Ere twenty years, to clear them--so no son
Shall bear his father's burden--for thence grow
Wars, and all waste--who charged must discharge too--
Further, since arts, professions, offices
Are hugely overpaid, and greed in these
More than in land-rents, field-work, handicraft,
Trade-gains, and interest on public loans,
Outswells the wise wont of our forefathers;
And their high pitch mars the main harmony,
As in a globe, which rolls not evenly,
If here down-trampled, there to airy pride
Puffed out--be such excess reduced to rule.
With field-work for a standard, whence to pay
All these their worth comparative, more or less:
So may their rate keep compass, as of old,
Nor claim pounds now where pence were welcome then--
This let the State begin, others will thence
Follow--and so the middle class, that holds
And binds to a whole, the extremes, lofty and low,
Trafficking 'twixt the two, partaking of each,
And by its tempering means steadying both,
May keep its level, nor forego as now,
Rising too high, its means conservative.
For the central stay of rest once shifted, each pole
Swings wildly about, and chaos comes again.
Lastly, no time shall run against folk-right.
But fraud or wrong, when found, shall be redress'd,
Tho' centuries come between: else proofs are rife
(Since what concerns all, often concerns none)
That scoundrels in high place will scoop this land,
Finding means, openly or stealthily,
To draw from it an everlasting drain--
Then the catch-pipe once set, they call their wrong
A vested right; the more they 've plundered us
The less our claim to wring them. Thus have Kings
Burdened their misbegotten lustling sons
On our hard earnings--Thus by juggling tricks,
Leases of folk-lands, sinecures, sham-suits,
Exactions by law-makers for law-leave,
Has many an idle wretch fatten'd on the blood
Of our main body--and what one blood-sucker
Gets, many covet; and sell body and soul
For shameful hope of it--deep and wide-spread
This plague--must smite it sternly, root and branch:
Nor only tear from our State-oak such foul
Funguses, but withal make them disgorge
From their back gains what can be got from them--
Therefore for thrift and against fraud, be named
Shrewd and stern men, trustworthy from tried Truth,
To watch and ward, sift thoro'ly, and vouch
Or brand as bad all public claims--each year
Reporting what's ill-spent, what can be spared.
And public frauds shall feel the sharpest scourge
Of Law; with wrongful gains repaid tenfold;
That Fear may check whom Conscience never could.
My friends these truths to me are sure--if so
To you likewise, 'tis yours to make them rules.
But take them not on trust for me--they need
A stronger warrant. To wise councillors
Must be committed, and by them reframed.
Lastly, since these and other righteous dues
Are yet withholden from us by our Lords,
With whom nor Right nor Reason availeth aught:
And patience of their heavy oppression
Doth but provoke them to heap wrong on wrong,
As this poor land hath proved, under their power,
Groaning and travailing in pain till now:
Therefore be it resolved, there is strong need
That we rise up from our long listlessness
In arms, and so redress ourselves to right
Manfully, as behoves good and true men.
Brethren, ye have my conscience, my full mind,
No learned trickery, but earnest Truth;
For I've bestowed my whole life searching it.
Ye've heard it in full meeting now, and singly
Erewhile.--Each man with me and wiser heads
Weighing it well--in bulk, and bit by bit:
And this my thought's hasty deliverance
Hath been the offspring of slow ripening time.
Then why stand here to make more words of it?
Ye've heard the whole, answer me, aye or no;
Is it your will? Do ye determine so?"
He ended: and the throng that listened him
So by his words were borne beyond self-will,
That answer was spell-bound--all utterance lost
In the eager audience. And, his speech done,
After him came a billow-like heart-thrill
To fill the void. Then a dark high-browed smith,
Grimy, but stalwart, skilled of timely stroke
To weld the iron in high flush of heat,
Upcried, with his deep thunder of assent;
And upon that, a shout tumultuous,
Conclaiming, like a battery's general peal
After the signal shot. It spoke a strength
Manifold more in spirit than in show,
That hundreds might seem thousands; and so strong
Against the surly mountain side it struck
As every voice had been a living thing,
Yearning for utterance. Then a glad fire
Kindled in Hermann's eye, to feel their hearts
Swelling to meet his own; pulse against pulse,
Deep answering deep; and thus his soul spake out:
"Brethren and friends, 'tis well--
Ye've said it--and what power can gainsay?
Not all the host of Hell
Shall now withstand your will, or bar your forward way.
We're risen up, and where's the mighty hand
Shall smite us down?
We're risen up to win unto this land
Her old renown:
Her high blood-bought prerogative
To teach the nations how to live:
Erst it was an idle boast,
Least vouchsafed when vaunted most;
But the lie is now made true,
Thanks to ye and honour due,
Due to ye all, and to your patriot worth,
And to the blessed land that sent ye forth.
Yes, hail to thee, my glorious motherland!
For glorious shalt thou be,
Thou that hast borne this holy brother band,
All hail to thee!
Men shall look to thee from far
As to some lone shining star,
Shining in the dead of night
For a lofty guiding light.
Now the patriot-glow I feel,
Now the thrilling burning zeal
Never felt for thee before,
Vassal'd as thou wert of yore.
For who in his most fond imaginings
Could love thee, crouching then
Beneath those curs'd o'erlording creeping things
Instead of men?
Things that had crawled unto their height
Thence to rule thee in the right
Of their fangs and poisonous power.
But, thanks to God, they have fulfilled their hour.
Mother of Freedom, yes, I greet thee now,
Thy travail o'er;
There beams a high soul'd beauty from thy brow,
Was not before.
And ever brighter glance thy fountains;
And ever higher swell thy mountains;
And all for pride that thou art grown
To stand amid the world alone:
Stand aloft while others bow
To thee above them, for their Queen art thou:
And before thy full-orbed sway
Lesser lights must fade away.
I greet thee with clasped hands--and ye around
Bare ye your feet, for here is holy ground:
And mark the spot and set a sign thereon,
A stedfast sign, to bide when

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Capel Lofft