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Title: Ireton, A Poem
Author: Bailey, Thomas
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                                A Poem.

                           BY THOMAS BAILEY.

   “Let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what _will_.”





                  _Price One Shilling and Sixpence._

                                TO THE

                           RIGHT HONOURABLE

                          LORD JOHN RUSSELL,




                       _RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED_,


                              THE AUTHOR.


The following Poem was suggested in an excursion one afternoon to
Attenburrow, a village on the banks of the Trent, about five miles
south-west of Nottingham, the birthplace of the well known Republican,

If, in the contemplation of the character of that illustrious man, and
in the indulgence of feelings excited by a consideration of the great
struggle in which he bore so distinguished a part, the author has been
led, in the progress of this poem, to animadvert strongly on the state
of society as existing in some countries; or to avow sentiments
peculiarly favourable to forms of popular government, as opposed to
absolute monarchy;--he assures the reader it is not with any wish or
intention to weaken the bonds which hold society together, or to excite
to discontent or insubordination those classes of the community
dependent on labour for their support. His object has been to shew
mankind, that their vices and follies are the real cause of their
degradation;--that good morals, springing from right principles, form
the only sure foundation of civil liberty; and that the men who would
found an improvement of the social system, on any other basis than that
of an improved moral and intellectual condition of the people, can only
enter on a course of fearfully hazardous experiments: rationally hoping
for nothing but to reap from the crimes of others, a harvest of contempt
and execration as their own portion.

The true patriot is he who aims to elevate the tone of morals among his
fellow citizens,--to excite them to a just respect for themselves,--

    “And teach, by virtue, man to break his chains.”

This was the true spirit of the eminent reformers of the age of Charles
the first. They had undertaken the important work of settling the
national character and institutions, at a period when men’s minds
generally were bent on obtaining an improvement of their social
condition--and an extensive toleration of religious opinions: and to
accomplish the great benefits their sedate and comprehensive minds
contemplated, they strove to induce among all classes, severe and
independent habits of thinking and feeling in reference to politics and
religion: without which they knew it would be in vain to attempt to
abolish the pageantry and frivolity connected with kingly government,
that they had begun to despise; or to supersede the heathenish rites and
vain ceremonies of outward religion, the reliques of popery, which their
souls abhorred; by those spiritual and devout exercises of the mind that
themselves practised, and which they conscientiously believed the good
of society required, and the laws of God enjoined.[A] Among the patriots
no one was more deeply imbued with this sublime spirit, nor partook
more largely of the generous enthusiasm it excited, than HENRY IRETON,
whose inflexible virtue, after the apparent defection of Cromwell,
formed the basis on which rested the darling hopes of all the virtuous
and enlightened reformers of his day.

[A] Just as the above remarks were going to press, a friend put into
the author’s hands, William Godwin’s History of the Commonwealth--a
work which he has just cause to regret he had not the good fortune
to become acquainted with earlier: as many useful hints and much
interesting matter might have been afforded him both for his preface
and notes: but he cannot deny himself the pleasure of transcribing
the following passage, so ably corroborative of the opinions advanced
above, as well as in other parts of the preface to his poem.

“Religion,” says Mr. Godwin, “with them (the patriots) was a serious
consideration, a topic which they were disposed to treat with good
faith, and in earnest. They were sincere patriots to the best of
their judgment, anxious to promote the substantial welfare of their
fellow-creatures. They knew that there can be no real liberty, and no
good political government, without morality; and they believed that the
morality of the various members of the community intimately depended
upon their religious creed, and upon the character and conduct of the
ministers of the national religion.”

In pursuing the train of thought connected with his subject, the author
has been led to touch upon the comparative value of republicanism and
monarchy, as conducive in the spirit of their institutions, to advance
that perfectibility of the social system which he believes it the duty
of every true patriot steadily to pursue. And he could not blink the
question so far, (claiming to give an honest opinion) as to refrain from
avowing that upon the abstract question of theoretical preference he is
decidedly favourable to republicanism; at the same time declaring,
unequivocally and unreservedly, that he will yield to no man in a
cheerful, cordial, and loyal attachment and obedience to the mixed
government under which he lives; identified as it is with the most
generous feelings of his countrymen; and calculated, as in his
conscience he believes it to be, to promote in a superlative degree the
glory and happiness of a people with such habits and dispositions; and
above all with such a condition of moral and intellectual attainment, as
characterizes the community of Englishmen. Nor will he shrink from
avowing, that, individually, he should feel himself necessitated by a
sense of duty, unresistingly (as far as relates to the employment of
physical means,) to obey any form of government, however despotic, under
which he should live, so long as such government had the support and
approbation of the decided majority of his fellow citizens. It might be
his duty to SUFFER in bearing an honourable testimony against tyrants
and tyranny; but at this point, in his individual capacity he must
stop;--though acting in concert with the true _vox-populi_, in
resistance to the encroachments of ambitious power, or the exactions of
established despotism, he would not stop at any thing short of its
certain abridgement or final extinction.

To this spirit in our ancestors we owe the revolutions of 1640 and
1688--as individuals they suffered long and grievously for the sake of
conscience, and the rights of man in civil society: but individual
suffering became at last so identified with the general feeling of
disgust and indignation at the despotism of the government, that its
character ceased longer to be that of private suffering, or its
remonstrance or resistance the effect of personal consideration: hence a
legitimate opposition to authority on that great principle, that the
public weal forms the only true measure of political allegiance, was
aroused; sanctioning such an appeal to force, as under other
circumstances, would have been justly stigmatized as treason and
rebellion. And it is worthy of remark, that, principally to these two
great events, as regenerating the political constitution of our country,
and unfettering the conscience and intellect of man; are owing, under
providence, most of those stupendous discoveries in science--and those
sublime achievements of philanthropy, which are rapidly changing in our
day, the moral aspect of the whole world.

That so much real and permanent good was accomplished by these events,
is a decisive proof that the minds of Englishmen were fitted to receive
and improve the benefits of them; and, of consequence, that a high
degree of criminality attached to the men whose devotion to antiquated
principles of civil government,--and superstitious veneration for the
high prerogatives of barbarous ages, caused them to close their eyes
against the light of truth, by which they were surrounded, and to lift
their impious, but puny arms against the spirit inspired by heaven for
the moral improvement of its creatures: for whilst there must always
exist in the previous habits and attainments of nations, a qualification
for the rational enjoyment of liberty, in order to prevent it from
becoming a curse rather than a blessing; there ought always to prevail
in governments a disposition to concede so much as the people know how
properly to use;--if this principle form a constituent in the rule of
any government, it signifies not by what name it is called--it is
strictly a popular form of government, exercising its powers for the
good of the people: if not, it is essentially despotic--employing the
resources of the state for its own aggrandizement:--and will certainly
be overturned at some moment of peculiar excitation, by the natural
efforts made by the people, to render their social condition analogous
to that improved moral and intellectual condition, subsisting at the
period of such excitation--nor ought it, nor can it be otherwise: nor
needs there any thing more than this simple principle to explain all
popular revolutions, at least, such as have occurred in modern times.
To claim for civil government under any name a right to withstand this
principle, is to insult the moral Governor of the universe, and to libel
human nature by advocating the divine right of governors to rule in
unrighteousness. To enjoy liberty, nations in their individual, as well
as collective capacity, must be wise and virtuous. Independence, it is
true, requires neither the one nor the other of these high attainments;
but _independence_ is only the freedom of the savage state:--_liberty_,
the rule of perfect society:--that happy condition, where man is only
restrained in the exercise of what is injurious to others, or fatal to
himself--where the laws necessitate no evil, and afford occasion for the
greatest possible good of which the social institution is susceptible.
Independence, mere independence,--founded on abstract considerations of
the natural powers and propensities of man, irrespective of the moral
effects of established habits and sophisticated institutions, appears to
have been the object contemplated by the leaders in the late French
revolution. Liberty,--rational liberty!--built on the firm basis of a
refined morality, deduced from divine Truth and calculated to purify and
exalt human nature, was the good sought for, by most of those men
concerned in the subversion of the throne of the Stuarts. Yet have the
memories of these men been assailed by the senseless cry of “hypocrites
and fanatics,” in every age, by writers who were too timid or too
passionate to take a sober view of their motives and actions: and
yet in reality they were “men of whom the world was not
worthy:”--philanthropists whose piety and genius broke open the sealed
fountains of truth and happiness, long denied by the despotism of
princes and the artifice of priests, to a suffering world;--but which
thence issuing from Britain, have irrigated the world with their
majestic streams, and carried beauty and fertility into regions
apparently doomed for ever, to the sterile dreariness of slavery and
superstition. That they were _enthusiasts_ may be granted: but to
denounce enthusiasm in the cause of religion and liberty, (those great
interests so intimately connected with the real glory and welfare of
mankind,) is to imagine the overthrow of virtue, and to join in
confederacy against the true dignity of human nature. Such conduct in
the bulk of mankind, is as becoming as if the tortoise were to impeach
the character of the noble courser, because in the strength of his
power, he makes the earth to shake beneath him as he scours along the
plain, and overleaps in his might the enclosure which circumscribes
_his_ limited vision.

It is the cant of despotism and infidelity to decry enthusiasm in the
cause of religion and liberty: they dread its vivifying effects, as they
detest the principles which give birth to its spirit; and therefore seek
to render that contemptible in the eyes of their fellows, which puts to
shame their own pretensions. What, it may be asked, was there in the
degrading frivolity,--in the cold and cheerless scepticism introduced
among Englishmen, at the restoration of the second Charles, which could
kindle in the breasts of men enthusiasm? or compensate in any
degree for the lofty hopes and generous darings of the Puritan
heroes?--nothing!--absolutely nothing!--all feeling, except malevolence
and voluptuousness, became congealed in the heart of man: and the nation
presented the melancholy spectacle, of a people stricken with a general
blight. It then became the fashion to ridicule the enthusiasm of
the bye-gone days,--and to brand the reformers and their principles
with terms of obloquy and reproach:--they were called
“hypocrites,”--“fanatics,”--“visionaries,” and “enthusiasts.” That the
leaders of them were sincere, is abundantly proved by their general
character for integrity, and the sacrifices they made to the cause in
which they had engaged;--that they were not “fanatics” is proved as far,
at least, as respects the _Independents_, the true Republicans, by the
liberality of their sentiments respecting religious toleration:--that
they were not altogether visionary in their plans of government, may be
demonstrated from the fact that the broad outline of policy marked out
by them, still continues to be the land-marks of British policy; and has
been so ever since, both with respect to our intercourse with foreign
nations and the conducting of our internal affairs:--and that their
enthusiasm neither debased their morals, nor weakened the force of their
discrimination nor judgment, the record of their comprehensive plans and
vigorous operations satisfactorily testifies. Among those whose memories
have shared the largest portion of this abuse General Ireton stands
conspicuous. His uncompromising sternness of principle, and intrepidity
of conduct naturally exposed him to this: nor is it to be wondered at
that such a character, possessing so much compass,--so much originality,
and diversity of feature, should be liable to misrepresentation: it is
the error of weak or rash minds to distort what they cannot comprehend;
and to mistake their own crudities for imperfections in the sublime
objects which they casually contemplate. The only cause for wonder would
have been, if such a character as IRETON, had not been exposed to
calumny and misrepresentation, by prejudiced persons, whose feeble or
oblique vision rendered them unable to penetrate the slight mists with
which error or inadvertency occasionally dimmed the true light of his
glory: ascribing to deliberate criminality, or designed hypocrisy, what
in reality only arose from the defectibility of human nature. But is it
wise?--is it generous?--is it just?--in Englishmen thus to insult the
memories, and degrade the characters of men to whom they undoubtedly owe
much of that stamina in their moral character, which has so nobly
distinguished them among the nations of the earth? it cannot be! it is
high time that society, in the expression of its language, and the
indulgence of its opinions respecting them, reversed that attainder
under which they were condemned by the frivolous and licentious
generation which followed them. This was, as it were, conventionally
done by the country at the revolution in 1688--when the Stuarts were
decisively expelled the throne of these realms--and the foul infection
of their name, allowed no more to pollute the annals of Britain: a most
glorious achievement this; which deliberately recognizing by an act of
legislation the real voice of the people, as the only basis of
legitimate government laid “the divine right of kings” prostrate before
“the majesty of the people;” and then reared in triumph in the portico
of our constitution, as two beautiful pillars, the “Bill of Rights” and
the “Act of Toleration:” thus opening a more noble entrance than had
hitherto been enjoyed into that venerable edifice, reared by the
conjoined efforts of a long succession of more illustrious patriots than
ever graced the annals of any other country; that so Englishmen of every
name and party might be admitted to take refuge in its sanctuary, and
walk exulting in the light of its glory. The revolution of 1688
certainly removed the stigma, which, but for that event might have
rested on the reformers of 1640 as traitors and rebels:--it gave them
generally a title to our gratitude and veneration; and most happy will
the author of this little work feel himself, if, in following so good an
example, he may contribute in any degree, however small, to restore
particularly to his just rank among the acknowledged worthies of
Britain, one of the most illustrious of those patriots, his much abused
countryman, HENRY IRETON.


Page 10, line 12, for _has_ read _have_.


     “It may be said, there wanted but little, perhaps only the
     survivance of IRETON, to have made CROMWELL _intrinsically_, as
     well as _splendidly_ Great.” ... _Mrs. Hutchinson’s Memoirs._

    As nature lights in solitude, the blaze
    Of the proud gem; and deep conceals its rays
    Awhile, from human sight, till in full worth
    It breaks at last, in splendor on the earth;
    So in these shades, she, IRETON,(1) lit thy mind,
    With all the glories which adorn our kind;--
    First struck the spark, which kindling into flame,
    Wreathes with a light ineffable thy name.
    Hero and Statesman;--Patriot! names rever’d!
    Which singly, to mankind has long endear’d
    The fame of others, center’d all in Thee;
    Blent with true grace, and worn with dignity.
    Though faction’s breath thy glory overcast
    (As fogs the sun), awhile, the shades have pass’d
    Harmless away: for truth, with native might
    Dispels the clouds of falsehood by her light.
    Content I yield her Cato, now, to Rome;
    Her Brutuses,--her Cassius,--nor become
    Envious, that Greece Aristides can boast,--
    Demosthenes, nor any of that host
    Of glorious names, which blazon her fair page,
    And swell the blast of fame through ev’ry age.
    Whilst IRETON’S lofty deeds, adorn the spot,
    I call my home, my country; I will not
    Covet the fame which other lands can give,
    Nor age, nor place, o’er that in which I live.
    Who prizes freedom, prizes those who bought
    The precious rights;--whose valour for him wrought
    This good supreme: and holds them dear to fame,
    Though tyrants brand their memory with shame.
    When, from the grave, the Patriot’s limbs are torn,(2)
    The despot’s triumph, and the minion’s scorn;
    Like him, who would not rather rot in air,
    Than with the slave a tomb of marble share?
    Better the gibbet, and the high renown
    The Patriot earns, than to sink slowly down
    By shameful life, and fill a dastard’s grave,
    Scorn’d by the wise, the virtuous, and the brave;
    And when remember’d, bear the curse of all
    Whose gen’rous spirits scorn tyrannic thrall.
    That there exists a slave, is the disgrace
    Of man alone;--nature abhors the race:
    The meanest thing she makes, of meaner life,
    Will wage for liberty, perpetual strife:
    Toils for itself alone, secure to find
    That state of comfort suited to its kind.
    It, to no fellow brute, deep rev’rence yields,
    Who wastes the produce of an hundred fields;
    Content to follow shiv’ring in his train,
    The loyal victim of a tyrant’s reign:
    Nor, leagued with others, to provide a feast,
    Brings slaughter’d herds to gorge some kingly beast;
    Seeking no further bounty than to taste,
    For all this toil, a morsel of the waste:
    Then, weary, crouch and lick his wounds, o’erjoy’d
    That a kind monarch has _his_ strength employ’d,
    To cater for the royal appetite,
    And kept his sacred person from the fight.
    Ask of the Beaver, Slave! what wholesome rules
    Binds his community,--unknown to schools:
    Inquire the rights he claims,--the law he gives,
    In that society in which he lives?
    He will instruct thee, ’tis for mutual good,
    To share defence, and fellowship and food:--
    That gen’ral benefit cements the tie,
    Which binds his species in society.
    Ask if he rears for some proud beast, a pile,
    Secure and warm, and skulks himself, the while
    Into a den, expos’d to pinching cold,
    To damp and hunger, on the bare earth roll’d?
    Content and cheerful so _that_ worthless beast,
    Which hunts not,--toils not, may profusely feast?
    And learn, thy crimes, thy follies, fears, alone
    Of all earth’s varied beings, make thee own
    A tyrant in thy equal;--whose control
    O’erawes thy pow’rs, and fetters e’en thy soul.
    The brute, content with what kind nature gives,
    Guards his own rights, and thus, in freedom lives.
    Or, if too weak for once, to guard the spoil,
    He bars no right, nor lends himself to toil
    Or hunt, that others may doze out the day,
    And wake to riot on his proffer’d prey.
    But myriad slaves of human kind, are found
    To toil and sweat,--to cultivate the ground,
    To spin, to weave, to mine, ’midst fœtid air
    And noxious damps,--to spend their lives with care
    And grief oppress’d,--by penury bow’d down,
    That some vile mortal’s brows may wear a crown.
    Yes! nations faint beneath this dead’ning blight!--
    This mildew of oppression! in despite
    Of nature’s promptings, or of reason’s call,
    Bound by the spells of superstition’s thrall.
    A bigot priesthood,--or a venal train
    Of selfish nobles, (such as govern Spain,)
    Can shackle millions! boasted reas’ning kind!
    And awe, through fear of ills unknown, the mind.
    Heavens! how they creep,--and cringe,--and fawn,--and fear
    These earthly Gods--and meanly stoop to bear
    Insult, and slav’ry’s yoke, to buy an hour
    Of shameful life: whilst, in the lust of pow’r,
    Their haughty despot sends his mandate forth,
    And makes a prison-house of this fair earth:
    Nor nobly dare to strike for Liberty,
    And die for Truth,--but, with servility,
    Shake like weak reeds which by the rivers stand,
    And bend obsequious to the dread command.
    But who is he, that through the mists of Time
    Beams nobly forth, in look and port sublime,
    Announc’d with benedictions on his name?
    And title, fairest on the scroll of fame?
    Before whom tyrants quake?--and conq’rors bow?
    And haughty fav’rites sink their greatness low?
    It is the Patriot! who when Danger frown’d,
    And cruel foes his country hover’d round;
    Whilst hearts grew faint,--and hands sunk weak with fear,
    As, stain’d with blood, the Conq’ror shook his spear,
    And men, like herds of deer, when on the plain
    A tiger darts, in terror sought to gain
    The wood’s dark fastness, or the mountain’s side,--
    Rallied their hopes; and taught them to abide
    With manly courage the invader’s blow,
    And back the bolts of war hurl on th’ astonish’d foe:--
    It is the Patriot!--he who nobly dar’d,
    (When Tyranny his iron sceptre rear’d,
    And millions crouch’d,) to spurn his fierce command,
    And rouse the spirit of his native land.
    Intent to rescue, treading in the dust
    The spite of factions,--rage of Kings,--and lust
    Of haughty nobles, as the vineyard’s waste
    Is trodden down, by him, whose hopes are plac’d
    On gath’ring a rich vintage,--firm he stood;
    And sav’d his suffering Country by his blood.
    Valiant to suffer! though his robe be red
    With crimson spots, from those dark stains is shed
    An odor, fragrant as the morning breeze
    Wafted at spring time o’er the blossom’d trees;
    Yea! sweeter far! for a great nation lives,
    In joy and freedom, by the life it gives.
    A Patriot’s blood can make a holy shrine
    Of meanest earth: with pow’r, as though divine,
    Can melt the heart,--can blanch the cheek, or fire
    The ardent spirit with exalted ire.
    No spot so barren, by such life blood fed,
    ’Midst snow-capt rocks,--or where dull marshes spread,--
    In forest glooms,--or splendid city’s bound,
    But hence is hail’d as consecrated ground.
    Country, endear’d, assumes a lovelier hue,
    And man, enfranchis’d, starts his race anew:
    The pilgrim, wand’ring through some foreign clime,
    Pensively led to mark the spoil of Time;
    Beholds some widow’d city on the plain,
    Who once led nations in her glorious train,
    Espous’d of princes:--in whose days of mirth,
    Kings sought her favor, from the ends of earth.
    Whose armies, like thick clouds, around her throne
    Waited, to make her royal mandates known:
    And ships, shadow’d the sea--floating sublime
    Like ocean demons:--linking clime to clime,
    And land to land, in one vast, boundless sway,
    They bade the world their lofty queen obey:
    And at her feet laid down the gather’d spoil,
    For which an hundred realms were doom’d to toil.
    Now childless homes,--cold hearths,--forsaken halls,
    Where ruin echoes to destruction’s calls,--
    Alone remain: the wand’rer asks, in grief,
    Why widow’d ages, close the years of brief
    And flitting glory, which once round her throne
    Play’d, like the sunbeams through the loop holes thrown
    Which time hath worn in temple, tow’r, and roof?
    Because she heeded not the sage reproof
    Of patriot warning!--but, in lustful pride,
    Clad in the plunder which a world supplied,
    Lifted herself in grandeur o’er the rest,
    And said, “I sit an eagle in my nest!”
    Her people vassals, and her nobles vain,
    Debauch’d and cruel, soon a tyrant’s reign
    Alone, was able to uphold her pow’r;--
    And there she sits--the owl’s and dragon’s dow’r.
    If seeking some memento, to convey
    Back to his home, which shall recall the way
    His feet has trod, in his lone pilgrimage,
    What think you shall his fondest thoughts engage?--
    Or waken deepest feelings for the fate
    Of that “discrowned Queen,” who desolate
    Dwells in a desert by her ruins made:--
    Whom lux’ry first debauch’d,--then kings betray’d?
    Will he attempt, ’midst urns and busts, to find,
    Broken and scatter’d, something which the mind
    Can take unto itself? No!--all which art,
    That seeks by flatt’ring marbles to impart
    Remembrance of the mighty, will be cast
    Heedless away:--the tombs of kings be pass’d
    With unconcern;--his heart more pleas’d to save
    A simple leaf that decks her Patriot’s grave.
    When through the maze of history we stray,
    Beset with crime! how cheering in the way,
    ’Midst desolations, conquests, rapine’s deeds,
    Oppressions foul, at which the bosom bleeds,
    To meet one name above the traitor’s lure,--
    The tyrant’s frown,--who nobly seeks, to cure
    Those bitter woes inflicted on mankind
    By tyrant Pow’r;--his country’s wounds to bind;--
    To lead exultant Freedom o’er its plains,
    And teach, by virtue, man to break his chains;
    As waters gushing in a desert land,
    Rejoice the trav’ller,--so, refresh’d we stand,
    And drink, in copious draughts, the streams which roll
    Of truth and knowledge, from his gen’rous soul;--
    Delighted view the landscape brighten round,
    See fruits burst forth, and flow’rs adorn the ground;
    Whilst man, no more debas’d, exerts new pow’rs,
    And gives to truth and virtue, all his hours.
    Such Patriots, Heroes, Britain! have been thine:--
    Such did thy Wickliffe, Russell, Hampden shine.
    Nor beams the name on hist’ry’s page more sweet,
    To patriot eyes, nor one he loves to greet
    With heartier welcomes, than the Chief’s, who here,
    On Trent’s green banks, first drew the vital air.
    No fawning parasite his soul beguil’d;
    No courtly arts his youthful mind defil’d;
    Nurtur’d in solitude, his thoughts were free;
    Daring and brave, he scorn’d servility;
    Train’d in religion, and devote to truth,
    In virtuous labours pass’d his ripening youth;
    Thus grew his mind, for lofty deeds prepar’d,
    To sternness moulded, by the toils he shar’d;
    So grows the sapling oak, ’midst woods profound,
    And gathers strength from storms which beat around:
    At length matur’d, a nation’s pride, in war
    It guards the realm, and spreads its fame afar.
    IRETON! yet lives there one, in this base age,
    Whose heart thy manly virtues can engage,
    To love and rev’rence; as he greets the blow,
    By which thou laid’st the treach’rous STUART low:(3)
    Whilst hordes of slaves look’d on, with wond’ring awe,
    And kings were taught obedience to law.
    And still, in Charles’s blood, the lesson lives,
    Which teaches them ’tis Public _Will_ that gives
    Alone the right to rule; and fixes sway
    On _subjects’ love_, and _interest to obey_;
    Not “right divine,” that charm, by Priestcraft spread
    Round guilty thrones, to save th’ anointed head
    From public vengeance; when its crimes no more
    An outrag’d suff’ring people will endure.
    IRETON, enfranchis’d England truly owes,
    With all mankind, much of the bliss that grows
    From rights secur’d, and privilege defin’d,
    And pow’r control’d, to thy exalted mind.(4)
    More had it ow’d, but, that mysterious heaven,
    In all things just, deem’d that enough was given
    To teach mankind, too long abas’d, to prize
    What in religion,--what in freedom lies;
    So, to itself, recall’d thy soul, whose ray
    Had been the patriot’s guide through many a day
    Of doubtful strife,--in many a troublous hour
    Had chas’d his gloom, and cheer’d him by its pow’r.
    Long hadst thou, IRETON, borne, ’midst toils and blood
    The holy ark of Freedom;--long hadst stood
    Thy Country’s hope;--lent vigour to her arms,
    Light to her councils;--in her wild alarms
    Been her high rock;--her strong pavilion, where
    The brave took courage, and the weak lost fear;
    Ere heaven, on sudden, quench’d in the dread tomb
    Thy glorious light; and left the land in gloom.
    As the proud steed, impatient of the reins,
    Frets at the hand whose pow’r his rage restrains,
    And, if he breaks the curb, will fiercer run
    The dang’rous path his rider sought to shun;
    Or if by shock severe he quits his seat,
    The foaming courser darts on ruin fleet;
    Leaves the plain track,--leaps fences yet untried,
    And braves some mound, in insolence of pride,
    At which he falls: so, Cromwell,(5) when the voice
    No more was heard, which once controll’d his choice:
    When IRETON, stern and rigid, in the cause
    Of pure religion, equal rights and laws,
    Remain’d no longer to abash the pride
    Which sought, with bold ambition, to bestride
    The prostrate strength of a great realm, whose blood
    Had stream’d for Freedom as a copious flood:
    Leap’d, madly o’er each guard which had secur’d
    The dear-bought rights: and, in his fall, ensur’d
    The ruin of that cause, so nobly won,
    And left his country, and mankind, undone.
    Darkness too soon o’erspread the land again,
    Beneath a Tyrant’s lewd capricious reign:
    Virtue and freedom were rever’d no more,
    And the stern virtues sought a genial shore:(6)
    A new found world! by nature’s bounty grac’d
    With pow’rs stupendous;--and by wisdom plac’d,
    Where, undebauch’d by regal sway, might rise
    A pure Republic: to console the wise,
    And teach the good, that heaven, this simple plan,
    As yet, designs to staunch the woes of man:
    When all shall know, from liberty what flows,
    And share the bliss that _equal law_ bestows.
    But God, in wrath, the benefit suspends;
    And k--s, its ministers of vengeance, sends
    To rule on earth, that vicious man may see
    The bitter fruits of his impiety:
    For iron sceptres, only, can command,
    And haughty despots rule, a venal land.
    The lion roams the monarch of the wood;
    For might must sway, where subjects hunt for blood.
    Could ought to gen’rous spirits reconcile
    The kingly rule, such monarchs as our isle,
    In the fourth George presents, “_a patriot King_,”
    Just, lib’ral, and humane, the balm must bring:
    A reign where pow’r but guards the subject’s right,
    And the proud crown beams fair with freedom’s light.
    Had such the Stuart’s been the raging blast,
    Which, from his throne, the bigot Monarch cast,
    And, in dread fury, hurl’d in ruin, down,
    The lofty ones of earth, had not been known.
    Hid in the solitudes of private life,
    Earth’s lowly sons had mingl’d not in strife
    With mighty names, princes and pow’rs, whose state
    Seem’d, once, to dare the wildest storms of fate.
    But, as the ocean on its billows bears,
    In raging mood, the mire and dirt it tears
    From its low bed, and overwhelms the pride
    Of halls and palaces; so drear and wide
    The ravage made, when through its custom’d mound
    Subjection bursts, and owns no settled bound.
    O’er rank and state the torrent rises high,
    Whilst ruin’d thrones and altars prostrate lie.
    Let princes learn, then, righteously to sway:--
    And to their subjects’ weal just def’rence pay:
    Nor lust of pow’r e’er tempt them to withstand
    What justice prompts the _People_ to demand.
    Let rights of conscience, social claims allow’d,
    Disarm the factious, and confound the proud:
    Who seek, ’midst wounded spirits,--tortur’d minds,
    That cement which a suff’ring people binds.
    Then shall rebellion to establish’d pow’r,
    Be as the snow drift beat against a tow’r
    Of massive strength; which may obscure, awhile,
    Its native grandeur, but, anon, the pile
    Shall show its beauty, whilst the vengeful storm
    Melts at its base, no longer to deform.
    _Rebellion!_ ’tis a foul,--an odious deed!
    The traitor, justly, is to death decreed:
    But _nations_ may not bear the hateful name,
    Nor, in their gen’ral acts, incur the shame.
    A _rebel People_, no where can be found;
    For public will, alone, can fix the bound
    Of law and right, determine the just plan
    Of social government, and give to man
    What may comport, in fix’d society,
    With gen’ral good and private liberty.
    Traitors, when rightly scann’d, are the base _few_
    Who claim those rights which to the whole are due.
    And be they kings, lords, demagogues, or mobs,
    Who seek such sway, each manly bosom throbs
    With anguish at their thrall; nor will sustain,
    Longer than force compels, their iron reign.
    The Lark, by nature taught to wing the air,
    Flutters and strives, his native skies to share,
    As much, when gilded wires confine his wings,
    As when from rustic twigs his durance springs:
    ’Tis not the _sort_ of prison, but the _cage_
    He mourns; and freedom must his woes assuage.
    A pow’r as strong as fate; which force defies:
    Is that a common suffering supplies.
    When men bethink them of the wrongs they feel
    From tyrant’s foul contempt of public weal;
    And look upon their little ones at play,
    Inheritors of slav’ry! born t’obey
    Oppression’s cruel lash,--yet, not allow’d
    To share the good their sweat procures the proud
    Enthrall’d by laws severe, unjust, refin’d
    By cruel policy, the soul to bind;
    Their fev’rish spirits drink their hearts blood dry
    With long despair: or, else, in agony,
    They burst their chains; and, reckless of the life
    No longer priz’d, rush, madden’d, into strife.
    Before such spirit hirelings disappear,
    As leaves are scatter’d when the sullen year
    Marshals its troop of storms;--and forests shake,
    While from her brows fierce blasts the crown of nature take.
    The gales which fan the earth,--the rolling streams,--
    The echoing rocks,--the sea,--the sun’s bright beams;
    All nature joins to bind, refresh, inspire,
    To lift the high resolve,--to fix the strong desire;
    When once a nation, rous’d from slavery,
    Has caught the thrilling sound of LIBERTY!
    From tongue to tongue,--from heart to heart it flies,
    Hand clench’d in hand, the desp’rate struggle tries;
    The tocsin sounds to arms! Resistance wakes:
    And his weak bonds the rising giant breaks.
    Such spirit call’d the valiant heroes forth,
    Of Charles’s age:--theirs the exalted worth,
    To strive for freedom,--rights of conscience,--all
    That England’s worthies good and noble call;
    And nobly triumph too,--in the just cause
    Of teaching kings to rule by wholesome laws.
    And ’mongst that gen’rous band, no name more dear,
    IRETON! than thine: with breast estrang’d to fear;--
    With fame unsullied;--uncorrupt in heart;--
    In motive pure;(7) thou well perform’dst thy part.
    IRETON, farewell! but, often as my eyes,
    In my lone walks shall view this spire arise,
    In the blue vale,--which marks the spot, rever’d,
    Where thou, the glory of thy age, first shar’d
    The vital air, thou shalt my rev’rence claim,
    And I will pause--and bless the Patriot’s name.


        Fill the cup to the ghosts of the dead!
          The sage and the hero of old:--
        The men who for liberty bled,
          Unaw’d, uncorrupted by gold.


        Their mem’ries we’ll cherish,
        Their names ne’er shall perish,
    The rights which they won shall by us be preserv’d:--
    The glory they earn’d shall by us be deserv’d!

        Strike the harp to the praise of the dead!
          With songs their high honors proclaim:--
        Our valiant forefathers! who bled
          For country, and freedom, and fame.
        Their mem’ries we’ll cherish,
        Their names ne’er shall perish,
    The rights which they won shall by us be preserv’d:--
    The glory they earn’d shall by us be deserv’d!

        Chant a dirge to the shades of the dead!
          The worthies of Albion’s story:
        But let no weak tears be shed;
          They rest in the light of their glory.
        Their mem’ries we’ll cherish,
        Their names ne’er shall perish,
    The rights which they won shall by us be preserv’d:--
    The glory they earn’d shall by us be deserv’d!


    O England, my country! the land of the free;
      Thou queen of the ocean, most fair!
    The myrtle and laurel belong unto thee;
      To science and liberty dear:
    When dark clouds of slavery hung o’er the world,
      And Europe was buried in night,
    Midst thee, was the standard of freedom unfurl’d,
      Religion o’er thee shed her light.

    Should conquest allure thee; aggression provoke;
      How terrible art thou array’d!
    But mercy descends, as thy arm gives the stroke,
      To heal the deep wounds war has made.
    The light of the nations, my country! art thou;
      A beacon that cheers the world round;
    Thy name is a refuge--in it monarchs hide,
      And earth’s thousand realms own its sound.

    Go search the bright record of deeds which belongs
      To France, or to Spain’s proudest days,
    Their glory was built on humanity’s wrongs,
      Their fame was the lightning’s fierce blaze:
    But England! thy glory is rais’d on true worth,
      And fair, as it beams o’er the wave,
    Sheds light which illumines the crowns of the earth,
      And cheers e’en the hut of the slave.


     _Written at the Tomb of Col. Hutchinson, Owthorpe,

    Hail! heaven-born Liberty! I feel thy pow’r
    Awakening in my breast, at this lone hour,
    As o’er thy martyr’s tomb I fondly bend;
        Such holy, fervent ecstasy,
        That health, and strength, and life, for thee!
    In noble daring I would freely spend.
    Who blushes not, to bear the name of _Slave_,
    Let him not venture near this hallow’d grave.
        There is a fresh’ning odour round,
        Which makes the freeman’s heart to bound
        Like summer leaves;--but the blanch’d cheek,
        Tyrants and vassals show,--bespeak
        A fear is on them, which awakens dread,
    As though their step should rouse th’ indignant dead.


(1) HENRY IRETON, so well known for his republican principles and the
great part he took in the affairs of his country during the dispute
between Charles the First and his parliament; and, subsequently to the
death of the unfortunate Monarch, for the sway he bore in the councils
of Cromwell, was the eldest Son of German Ireton, Esq. of Attenburrow,
near Nottingham, and was born in the year 1610. He was entered a
Gentleman Commoner of Trinity College, Oxford, in 1626; and from his
great proficiency in learning, took, so early as 1629, the degree of
Bachelor of Arts. From College he removed to the Middle Temple, where he
studied the common law; but the civil war breaking out, he quitted his
pursuits in that line, to serve in the army, where he made such
proficiency in the military art, that some have not scrupled to say,
even Cromwell himself learned the rudiments of war from him. He sat in
the long Parliament, for Appleby, but at what time he was returned, does
not appear quite clear; probably some time between 1640 and 1647. Soon
after his going into the army, he married Bridget, eldest daughter of
Mr. Oliver Cromwell, afterwards Protector. At the new modelling of the
army, in 1645, he was raised to the rank of Commissary General, having
rapidly passed through the subordinate degrees of command. He greatly
distinguished himself in many actions, particularly at the battle of
Naseby, in which, his ardor having led him too far from his men, he was
taken prisoner by the Royalists; but, in the confusion which soon after
ensued in the king’s army, he made his escape.

    (2) “_When from the grave the Patriot’s limbs are torn_,”

After the restoration of Charles the Second, the body of IRETON was
removed from its tomb, in Westminster Abbey, where it had been interred
with great pomp by direction of Cromwell, and conveyed on a hurdle to
TYBURN, upon which it was taken from the coffin and hung on the gibbet
from sun-rise to sun-set; the head was then severed from the body and
set upon a pole, and the carcase buried under the gallows. Ludlow,
speaking of the preceding pompous funeral with which IRETON was
honoured, by his father-in-law Cromwell, and in allusion to the
subsequent degradation of his body, says, “IRETON would have despised
these pomps, having erected for himself a more glorious monument in the
hearts of good men, by his affection to his country, his abilities of
mind, his impartial justice, his diligence in the public service, and
his virtues; which were a far greater honor to his memory, than a
dormitory among the ashes of kings; who, for the most part, as they had
governed others by their passions, so were they as much governed by

    (3) “_By which thou laid’st the treach’rous Stuart low_:”

Noble says, “IRETON was perhaps more than any other man the cause of the
king’s death:--and which is said to be owing to his having intercepted a
letter from his Majesty to the Queen, in which his destruction along
with that of Cromwell was fixed:” thus attempting to make private
revenge or retaliation, rather than a sense of public duty, the
operating principle of his mind in his subsequent conduct towards the
infatuated monarch. A notion in which he is not at all borne out by
contemporary testimony: for though Bishop Burnet remarks, that “Cromwell
was wavering whether to put the king to death or not; but that IRETON,
who had the temper and principles of a CASSIUS, stuck at nothing that
might have turned England into a Commonwealth, hoping that by the king’s
death that all men concerned in it would become irreconcileable to
monarchy;” yet it cannot be reasonably inferred from this, that he was
at all actuated by personal considerations, but only, that by this
decisive step, when Charles’s insincerity was placed beyond doubt, such
a bond of union would be formed amongst the whole body of Reformers, and
their immediate descendants, as should, in a manner, guarantee the
complete abolition of royalty, by a sense of the common danger to which
they would be exposed, in their persons and properties, by its

Mrs. Hutchinson, in her memoirs, alluding to the condition and treatment
of the king at Hampton Court, after he was delivered up to the
Parliamentary Commissioners by the Scots, says, “The king, by reason of
his daily converse with the officers, began to be trinkling with them,
and had drawn in some of them to engage others to fall in with him;” but
to speak the truth of all, Cromwell was at that time so uncorruptibly
faithful to his trust, and to the people’s interest, that he could not
be drawn in to practice even his own usual and natural dissimulations on
that occasion. His son-in-law, IRETON, that was as faithful as he, was
not so fully of opinion (till he had tried it and found to the contrary)
but that the king might have been managed to comply with the public good
of his people, after he could no longer uphold his own violent will;
but, upon some discourses with him, the king uttering these words to
him, “I shall _play my game_ as well as I can,” IRETON replied, “if your
Majesty have _a game_ to play, you must give us liberty also to play

Colonel Hutchinson discoursing privately with his cousin (IRETON) about
the conversations he had with the king,--the latter made use of these
expressions: “He gave us words, and we paid him in his own coin, _when
we found he had no real intention to the people’s good_, but to prevail
by our factions, to regain by art what he had lost in fight.”

This conviction of the king’s insincerity, and this alone, appears to
have determined IRETON to accomplish his death. The public good he
evidently believed required it: and, as in this cause, he was prepared
to lay down his own life; so he was resolved that no individual’s life
should be an obstacle to its furtherance. That “he was perhaps more than
any other man the cause of the king’s death,” may be readily believed:
but that his conduct in that solemn affair proceeded upon the despicable
principle of private revenge, because the king had secretly resolved,
previously, upon his destruction and that of Cromwell, may be safely
denied. His motives are better explained in the following extract from
the speech made by him upon the motion that no more addresses be made to
the King, from Parliament, nor any messages received from him; wherein
he says, “Subjection to the king is but in lieu of protection from him,
which being denied, we may settle the kingdom without him.” With his
rooted antipathy to the government of a single person, and his bold and
decisive character; at the same time possessing a mind fitted for the
most daring resolves, and capacious of enterprizes requiring boldness,
and skill in their accomplishment, there can be no wonder that he was
amongst the foremost in bringing about the death of the king. This
perfectly agrees with the character given of him by NEAL, in his history
of the Puritans, where he remarks, “Lieutenant-General Ireton was bred
to the law, and was a person of great integrity; bold and intrepid in
all his enterprizes, and never to be diverted from what he thought just
and right, by any arguments or considerations. He was most liberal in
employing his purse and hazarding his person in the service of the
Public.” To this may be added the testimony of WHITLOCK, who, in
speaking of some reforms proposed in the election and composition of the
House of Commons, says, “IRETON was chiefly employed in them, having
learned some grounds of law, and having a laborious and working brain
and fancy.” In another place he remarks, “this gentleman (Ireton) was a
person very active, industrious, and stiff in his ways and purposes: he
was of good abilities for council as well as action; made much use of
his pen, and was very forward to reform the proceedings in law, wherein
his having been bred a lawyer was a great help to him. He was stout in
the field, and wary in councils; exceedingly forward as to the business
of a Commonwealth.” These credentials of character and motive, will,
undoubtedly, prove sufficient to every impartial mind, to clear the fame
of General Ireton from the foul stigma attempted to be fixed on it by
NOBLE, in his memoirs.

    (4) “_to thy exalted mind_”

IRETON was, in his day, emphatically called the “Scribe,” from his skill
in drawing up petitions, declarations, &c. The remonstrance of the army
for justice against the king, the agreement of the people, the ordinance
for the trial of the king, the precept for proclaiming the high court
of justice, and many other important state papers of that eventful
period, are believed to be his production.

Extracts from one or two of these interesting documents will tend to
place the character and principles of this virtuous republican in their
just light, and strikingly exemplify the fact that there is scarcely a
great object of reform at present contemplated by British patriots, or
which has been entertained at any period since his time, but what his
bold and sagacious mind had entertained as necessary to secure the
liberty of the subject. The proposals of the army, as preserved in
Rushworth, contemplate the following great objects of political reform,
viz. “that the duration of parliaments be limited,--elections better
regulated,--the representation more equally distributed,--improper
privileges of members of parliament given up,--the coercive powers and
civil penalties of bishops taken away,--the laws simplified and lessened
in expense,--monopolies set aside,--tythes commuted,” &c.

In “the agreement of the people,” designed to change the form of
government into a simple commonwealth without a king or house of lords,
were the following just and liberal sentiments relating to religion: and
which, through the bigotry of the age, were the main cause of its not
being more generally supported, viz. “All persons professing religion,
however differing in judgment from the doctrine, discipline, and worship
publicly held forth, to be protected in the profession of their faith,
and exercise of their religion according to their consciences, so as
they abuse not this liberty to the civil injury of others, or the
disturbance of the public peace.” Yet is this great man continually
branded as a fanatical sectarian, by the advocates of arbitrary power,
although his patriotism, his benevolence and candour, are apparent in
all the public transactions of the eventful period in which he lived,
over which he had any control, or with which he was in any way

    (5) “_So Cromwell, when the voice_
    _No more was heard, which once controll’d his choice._”

The great influence which IRETON possessed over CROMWELL, and the
obstacles which his unbending republican principles, and genuine
patriotism presented to the accomplishment of his ambitious longings,
are strikingly remarked by Mrs Hutchinson, who says, “His (Cromwell’s)
son-in-law, IRETON, lord deputy of Ireland, would not be wrought over to
serve him, but hearing of his machinations, determined to endeavour to
divert him from such destructive courses. But God cut him short by
death.” And it is delicately remarked by the editor of that lady’s
memoirs, in a note, by way of comment, on an act of Cromwell towards
Col. Hutchinson, that, “it may be thought there wanted but little,
perhaps only the survivance of IRETON, to have made Cromwell
_intrinsically_, as well as _splendidly_ Great.” A finer compliment to
the genius and virtues of IRETON cannot well be imagined.

WHITLOCK says, “Cromwell had a great opinion of him, and no man could
prevail so much, or order him so far, as IRETON could;” his death is
very pointedly regretted by the same author, on account of the great
influence he had over the mind of Cromwell; deeming it more than
probable, that the prolongation of his life might have made a great
difference in the subsequent conduct of that extraordinary man: the
justness of which supposition is strikingly exemplified, by the change
in Cromwell’s policy, which almost immediately followed upon this event.

“General Ireton,” says the history of England, “was much celebrated for
his vigilance, industry, capacity, and for the strict execution of
justice in that unlimited command which he possessed in Ireland. He was
observed to be inflexible in all his purposes for the public good; and
was animated with so sincere and passionate love of liberty, that he
never could have been induced by any motive, to submit to the smallest
appearance of regal government. Cromwell was much affected by his death;
and the republicans who reposed unlimited confidence in him were

NOBLE likewise admits that, “he was beloved by the republicans in the
highest degree; they admired him alike as a soldier and a statesman, and
revered him as a saint.”

The man who was acknowledged to have such claims, by the commonwealth’s
men, a body comprizing, probably, more genius, virtue, and sterling
patriotism, than were ever united for the accomplishment of any social
purpose in the annals of mankind, must have been unquestionably an
extraordinary person; and is, it may safely be affirmed, still entitled
to the high veneration of every real friend to the true interests of

    (6) “_And the stern virtues sought a kindlier shore._”

Previous to the standard of resistance to the arbitrary proceedings of
the court being raised in England, several small bodies of puritans had
passed over to America, and began the colonization of the tract of land
called _New England_: many more joined them upon the approach of the
troubles which they saw coming upon the country; impelled, partly, by a
desire to avoid being engaged in open rebellion against the government,
whose violence and tyranny they perceived were driving men’s minds to
desperate resolves, but mostly influenced by an earnest fervor to enjoy
amidst the solitudes of that unexplored country, the privilege of
worshipping God agreeably with the dictates of an enlightened
conscience: a privilege they could not enjoy in their native country,
under the bigoted and intolerant policy which swayed in the councils of
the misguided Charles: this consideration had, at one time, induced
_Cromwell_, _Hampden_, _Haslerigge_, and many other non-conformists of
rank and influence, to determine to take refuge in New England: Cromwell
and his family, as well as others of the party, had embarked, and the
rest were on the point of so doing, but were prevented leaving the
kingdom by an order in council, “directing the lord treasurer to take
speedy and effectual course for the stay of eight ships then in the
river Thames, prepared to go to New England, and for putting on land all
the passengers and provisions therein intended for the voyage.”
“Those whom God destines to destruction, he deprives of their
understanding,”--the very men thus compelled by the king in council to
remain at home, became the immediate instruments by which the blood of
the saints, and the cries of the oppressed were avenged on a guilty
court and a cruel hierarchy. When the restoration of the Stuarts to
power became apparent, still greater numbers of the republicans and
non-conformists sought refuge in New England from the persecutions which
they foresaw awaited them. To the descendants of these men, inheriting
the noble detestation of arbitrary power which so strikingly
distinguished their forefathers, America owes all her _real_ greatness.
The New England men still exhibit a distinct feature in American
society, and probably possess more virtue, intelligence, and
independence of character than is to be found in any other state in the
union.--_See Doctor Dwight’s Travels in New England._

    (7) _“In motive pure;” &c._

For the disinterestedness of IRETON’S motives in the discharge of his
public functions, the following anecdote from LUDLOW, who was next in
command to him in Ireland, at the period of the transaction, shall

“The parliament,” he says, “also ordered an act to be brought in, for
settling two thousand pounds per annum on the lord-deputy IRETON,” (out
of the confiscated estates of the Duke of Buckingham, and which,
therefore, it might have been thought he could have the more
conscientiously accepted than, though it had been drawn directly from
the pockets of the people,) the news of which, being brought over, was
so unacceptable to him, that he said, they had many just debts, which he
desired they would pay before they made such presents; that he had no
need of their lands, _and would not have it_; and that _he should be
more contented to see them doing the service of the nation, than so
liberal in disposing of the public treasure!_--What would the patriotic
general have said of some modern British parliaments?--No wonder, that
the hungry place and pension hunting pack, that returned in the train of
Charles the second, procured the exhumation of the bones of such an
enemy to their tribe as IRETON: the light of whose glory, in his
generosity and disinterestedness, showed so much of the deformity of
their mercenary and malignant natures--that indignity towards all that
remained of him, in their power, as far as their little malice could
accomplish it, was necessary to give them any degree of consequence,
even in their own eyes.


                   S. BENNETT, PRINTER, NOTTINGHAM.

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Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.