A Parliamentary Debate.
All ye who with credulity the whispers hear of fancy,
Or yet pursue with eagerness hope’s wild extravagancy,
Who dream that England soon will drop her long miscalled neutrality,
And give us, with a hearty shake, the hand of nationality,
Read, as we give, with little fault of statement or omission,
The _next_ debate in parliament on Southern Recognition;
They’re all so much alike, indeed, that one can write it off, I see,
As truly as the _Times_’ report, without the gift of prophecy.
Not yet, not yet to interfere does England see occasion,
But treats our good commissioner with coolness and evasion;
Such coolness in the premises, that really ’tis refrigerant
To think that two long years ago she called us a belligerent.
But, further, Downing-street is dumb, the premier deaf to reason,
As deaf as is the _Morning Post_, both in and out of season;
The working men of Lancashire are all reduced to beggary,
And yet they will not listen unto Roebuck or to Gregory,
“Or any other man,” to-day, who counsels interfering,
While all who speak on t’other side obtain a ready hearing–
As, _par exemple_, Mr. Bright, that pink of all propriety,
That meek and mild disciple of the blessed Peace Society.
“Why, let ’em fight,” says Mr. Bright, “those Southerners, I hate ’em,
And hope the Black Republicans will soon exterminate ’em;
If freedom can’t rebellion crush, pray tell me what’s the use of her?”
And so he chuckles o’er the fray as gleefully as Lucifer.
Enough of him–an abler man demands our close attention–
The Maximus Apollo of strict _non_-intervention–
With pitiless severity, though decorous and calm his tone,
Thus spake the “old man eloquent,” the puissant Earl of Palmerston:
“What though the land run red with blood, what though the lurid flashes
Of cannon light, at dead of night, a mournful heap of ashes
Where many an ancient mansion stood–what though the robber pillages
The sacred home, the house of God, in twice a hundred villages.
“What though a fiendish, nameless wrong, that makes revenge a duty,
Is daily done” (O Lord, how long!) “to tenderness and beauty!”
(And who shall tell this deed of hell, how deadlier far a curse it is
Than even pulling temples down and burning universities)?
“Let arts decay, let millions fall, aye, let freedom perish,
With all that in the western world men fain would love and cherish;
Let universal ruin there become a sad reality:
We cannot swerve, we must preserve our rigorous neutrality.”
Oh, Pam! oh, Pam! hast ever read what’s writ in holy pages,
How blessed the peace-makers are, God’s children of the ages?
Perhaps you think the promise sweet was nothing but a platitude;
‘Tis clear that _you_ have no concern in that divine beatitude.
But “hear! hear! hear!” another peer, that mighty man of muscle,
Is on his legs, what slender pegs! “ye noble Earl” of Russell;
Thus might he speak, did not of speech his shrewd reserve the folly see,
And thus unfold the subtle plan of England’s secret policy.
“John Bright was right, yes, let ’em fight, these fools across the water,
‘Tis no affair at all of ours, their carnival of slaughter;
The Christian world, indeed, may say we ought not to allow it, sirs,
But still ’tis music in our ears, this roar of Yankee howitzers.
“A word or two of sympathy, that costs us not a penny,
We give the gallant Southerners, the few against the many;
We say their noble fortitude of final triumph presages,
And praise, in Blackwood’s Magazine, Jeff. Davis and his messages.
“Of course we claim the shining fame of glorious Stonewall Jackson,
Who typifies the English race, a sterling Anglo-Saxon;
To bravest song his deeds belong, to Clio and Melpomene”–
(And why not for a British stream demand the Chickahominy?)
“But for the cause in which he fell we cannot lift a finger,
‘Tis idle on the question any longer here to linger;
‘Tis true the South has freely bled, her sorrows are Homeric, oh!
Her case is like to his of old who journeyed unto Jericho.
“The thieves have stripped and bruised, although as yet they have not
We’d like to see her slay ’em all to right and left around her;
We shouldn’t cry in parliament if Lee should cross the Raritan,
But England never yet was known to play the Good Samaritan.
“And so we pass the other side, and leave them to their glory,
To give new proofs of manliness, new scenes for song and story;
These honeyed words of compliment may possibly bamboozle ’em,
But ere we intervene, you know, we’ll see ’em in–Jerusalem.
“Yes, let ’em fight, till both are brought to hopeless desolation,
Till wolves troop round the cottage door in one and t’other nation,
Till, worn and broken down, the South shall prove no more refractory,
And rust eats up the silent looms of every Yankee factory.
“Till bursts no more the cotton boll o’er fields of Carolina,
And fills with snowy flosses the dusky hands of Dinah;
Till war has dealt its final blow, and Mr. Seward’s knavery
Has put an end in all the land to freedom and to slavery.
“The grim Bastile, the rack, the wheel, without remorse or pity,
May flourish with the guillotine in every Yankee city;
No matter should old Abe revive the brazen bull of Phalaris,
‘Tis no concern at all of ours”–(sensation in the galleries.)
“So shall our ‘merry England’ thrive on trans-Atlantic troubles,
While India, on her distant plains, her crop of cotton doubles;
And just so long as North or South shall show the least vitality,
We cannot swerve, we must preserve our rigorous neutrality.”
Your speech, my lord, might well become a Saxon legislator,
When the “fine old English gentleman” lived in a state of natur’,
When Vikings quaffed from human skulls their fiery draughts of honey mead,
Long, long before the barons bold met tyrant John at Runnymede.
But ’tis a speech so plain, my lord, that all may understand it,
And so we quickly turn again to fight the Yankee bandit,
Convinced that we shall fairly win at last our nationality,
Without the help of Britain’s arm, _in spite of_ her neutrality.
(John Reuben Thompson)
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