Linton- Life in the Collections
18) The Poetical Works of Ebenezer Elliott, the Corn-Law Rhymer.
This popular volume of selected poems is based on the complete edition, which had appeared in 1835. Included is his famous cycle against the protectionist corn laws, the so-called bread tax, which had caused famine among the lower classes and had enhanced the profits of the landlords. As Mark Storey states in his preface to a recent selection of Elliott’s poems, the iron trader, who had married rich, can neither be comprehended as being uneducated nor as really belonging to the working class. Elliott’s unerring political commitment was shaped by an extensive reading of republican literature of the likes of Milton, Swift, Burns, and Paine. His work marks a crucial watershed, where the tradition of Romantic communitarian writing starts to face the economic realities of the industrial revolution. Elliott prepared the grounds on which those ambitious poetic projects like Thomas Cooper´s Prison-Rhyme and Linton’s body of interventionist hymnody could unfold.