George Canning

(11 April 1770 – 8 August 1827 / London, England)

Elijah's Mantle


A TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF THE RIGHT HON. WILLIAM PITT.
When, by th' Almighty's dread command
Elijah, call'd from Israel's land,
Rose in the sacred flame,
His Mantle good Elisha caught,
And, with the Prophet's spirit fraught,
Her second hope became.


In Pitt our Israel saw combined
The Patriot's heart--the Prophet's mind,
Elijah's spirit here:
Now, sad reverse!--that spirit reft,
No confidence, no hope is left;
For no Elijah's near.


Is there, among the greedy band
Who've seized on power, with harpy hand,
And Patriot, worth assume,
One on whom public faith can rest--
One fit to wear Elijah's vest,
And cheer a Nation's gloom?


Grenville!--to aid thy Treasury fame,
A portion of Pitt's Mantle claim,
His gen'rous ardour feel;
Resolve, 'bove sordid self, to soar,
Amidst Exchequer gold be poor!
Thy wealth--the public weal.


Fox!--if on thee some remnant fall,
The shred may to thy mind recall,
Those hours of loud debate,
When thy unhallow'd lips be-praised
"The glorious fabric" traitors raised
An Bourbon's fallen state.


Thy soul let Pitt's example fire,
With patriot zeal thy tongue inspire,
Spite of thy Gallic leaven;
And teach thee in thy latest day,
His form of prayer, (if thou canst pray)
"O save my country, Heaven!


Windham,--if e'er thy sorrows flow
For private loss or public woe,
Thy rigid bow unbend:
Tears over Cæsar Brutus shed,
His hatred warr'd not with the dead--
And Pitt was once thy friend.


Does Envy bid thee not to mourn?
Hold then his Mantle up to scorn,
His well-earn'd fame assail:
Of funeral honors stript his corse,
And at his virtues till thou'rt hoarse,
Like curst Thersites rail!


Illustrious Roscius of the State!
New-breech'd and harness'd for debate,
Thou wonder of thy age!
Petty or Betty art thou height,
By Granta sent to strut thy night
On Stephen's bustling stage.


Pitt's 'Chequer robe 'tis thine to wear;
Take of his Mantle too a share,
'Twill aid thy Ways and Means;
And should Fat Jack, and his Cabal;
Cry "Rob us the Exchequer, Hal!"
'Twill charm away the fiends.


Sage Palinurus of the realm!
By Vincent call'd to take the helm!
And play his proxy's part;
Dost thou or star or compass know?
Canst reef aloft--or hand below?
Past conn'd the shipman's chart?


No!--From Pitt's Mantle tear a rag,
Enough to serve thee for a flag,
And hoist it on thy mast:
Beneath that sign (our prosperous star)
Shall future Nelsons rush to war,
And rival victories past.


Sidmouth--though low his head is laid
Who call'd thee from thy native shade,
An gave thee second birth;
Gave thee the sweets of Power and Place,
The tufted gown--the gilded mace,
And rear'd thy puny worth:


Think how his Mantle wrapp'd thee round:
Is one of equal virtue found
Among thy new compeers?
Or can thy cloak of Amiens stuff,
Once laugh'd to scorn by Blue and Buff,
Screen thee from Windham's jeers?


When Faction threaten'd Britain's land
Thy new-made friends--a desperate band,
Like Ahab--stood reproved:
Pitt's powerful tongue their rage could check;
His counsel saved, 'midst General wreck,
The Israel that he loved.


Yes, honor'd shade! whilst near thy grave
The letter'd sage, and chieftain brave,
The votive marble claim;
O'er thy cold corse--the public tear
Congeal'd, a crystal shrine shall rear,
Unsullied as thy fame!

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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