The Collected Writings of Edward Rushton

BookThe Collected Writings of Edward Rushton

The Collected Writings of Edward Rushton


Liverpool English Texts and Studies, 65


October 31st, 2014



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The edition brings together the known writings in poetry and prose of Edward Rushton (1756--1814). Blinded by trachoma after an outbreak on the slaving ship in which he was a young officer, Rushton returned to Liverpool to scratch a living as a publican, newspaper editor, and finally bookseller and publisher. In his day Rushton was a well-known Liverpool poet and reformer, with an impressively wide range of causes (the Liverpool Blind School, the Liverpool Marine Society, and many radical political groups). Many of his songs, particularly the marine ballads, were very familiar in Britain and America. In the later Victorian period, as a particular version of romanticism began to dominate literary sensibilities, Rushton’s overt politics fell from favour and he became rather obscure, at least by comparison with his like-minded (but much better off) friend William Roscoe. As the history of slavery abolition and other radical causes has come to be re-examined, the bicentenary of Rushton’s death, falling in November 2014, has suggested an opportunity to take a new look at his remarkable career and impressive body of work. There has never been a critical edition of Rushton’s poems. His own 1806 edition omits much, including what is his best-known work in modern times, the anti-slavery West-Indian Eclogues of 1787; the posthumous 1824 edition omits much from the 1806 collection while drawing in other work. The present edition works from the earliest datable sources, in newspapers, chapbooks, periodicals, and broadsides, providing a clean text with significant revisions and variants noted in the commentary. Unfamiliar words are glossed, and brief introductions and contextual commentaries, informed by the latest scholarship, are given for each piece of writing.


'A very welcome book and one which does justice to Edward Rushton’s remarkable and unique literary achievement.'
John Whale

'Important and long-due, this book will have a significant impact in restoring critical attention to a sadly neglected Romantic-era poetic voice.' Franca Dellarosa, Università degli Studi di Bari ‘Aldo Moro

'The Collected Writings of Edward Rushton (1756–1814), edited by Paul Baines and Franca Dellarosa’s Talking Revolution: Edward Rushton’s Rebellious Poetics 1782–1814 (a first-rate critical biography) taken together, are two volumes that enable Rushton’s work to join a large and sometimes quite riveting body of material at the intersection of working-class poetry and the literary history of abolitionism.'
Jenny Davidson, SEL Review

'Paul Baines’s The Collected Writings of Edward Rushton, is a triumph... space is given to Rushton’s poetry and prose in a manner that allows them to speak for themselves. Baines does not clutter the text with lengthy notes concerning textual variants, history, or glosses, instead confining these to a detailed but concise ‘commentary’ at the end of the volume.'
Matthew Ward & Paul Whickman, Year's Work in English Studies

'[This is] the first modern volume of [Rushton's] collected works (painstakingly edited by Paul Baines)... As Baines pointed out at the 2014 conference marking both the bicentenary of Rushton’s death and the publication of these books, the attempt to collect, collate and rationalise the fugitive poetry of a figure whose work was often ephemeral, unattributed or reproduced without permission on either side of the Atlantic was a formidable one. The scale of this undertaking is evidenced by the 102 pages of commentary that accompany the works themselves.'
Ryan Hanley, The BARS Review, No. 48

'[Baines] brings more attention to this fascinating writer.'
Jeffrey N. Cox, Studies in English Literature

Author Information

Edward Rushton (1756–1814) was a poet, writer, bookseller and abolitionist. After losing his own vision, he opened a school for the blind, the oldest continuous such school in the world. Paul Baines is Professor of English at the University of Liverpool and co-editor of The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Eighteenth-Century Writers and Writing.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Abbreviations and Short Titles
An Irregular Ode (1781)
To the People of England (1782)
The Dismember’d Empire (1782)
West-Indian Eclogues (1787)
The Neglected Tars of Britain (1787)
Neglected Genius (1787)
Poor Ben (1790)
A Song Sung at the Commemoration of the Anniversary of the French Revolution, at Liverpool, July 14, 1791 (1791)
The Fire of Liberty (1792)
Seamen’s Nursery (1794)
Stanzas on the Anniversary of the American Revolution (1794)
The Tender’s Hold (1794)
Blue Eyed Mary (1796)
Elegy [To the Memory of Robert Burns] (c.1796)
Sonnet [The Swallow] (c.1796)
The Remedy [The Leviathan] (1797)
Song [Mary le More] (1798)
Written for the anniversary of the Liverpool Marine Society (1799)
Song. From Hymns, &c. for the Blind (c. 1799)
Lucy’s Ghost. A Marine Ballad (1800)
Sonnet by a Poor Man. On the approach of the Gout (1801)
Will Clewline (1801)
Ode. Sung at St. John’s Chapel, Lancaster, on Tuesday last, being the Anniversary of the Lancaster Marine Society (1801)
Ode. To France (1802)
The Maniac (1804)
Stanzas on Blindness (1805)
To a Redbreast (1806)
Solicitude (1806)
Toussaint to his Troops (1806)
On the Death of Hugh Mulligan (1806)
To a Bald-Headed Poetical Friend (1806)
The Ardent Lover (1806)
The Lass of Liverpool (1806)
Woman (1806)
Mary’s Death (1806)
The Halcyon (1806)
The Shrike (1806)
Briton, and Negro Slave (1806)
Absence (1806)
On the Death of a Much-Loved Relative (1806)
Entreaty (1806)
A Caution (1806)
The Throstle (1806)
The Complaint (1806)
The Pier (1806)
Mary (1806)
The Origin of Turtle and Punch (1806)
Parody (1806)
The Farewell (1806)
The Return (1806)
To the Gout (1806)
On the Death of Miss E. Fletcher (1806)
The Chase (1806)
The Winter’s Passage (1806)
Stanzas on the Recovery of Sight (1809)
Lines to the Memory of William Cowdroy (1814)
The Fire of English Liberty (1824)
Lines Addressed to Robt. Southey, Esq. (1817)
The Exile’s Lament (1824)
An Epitaph on John Taylor (1824)
To the Memory of Bartholomew Tilski (1824)
Jemmy Armstrong (1824)
Superstition (1824)
Expostulatory Letter to George Washington (1797)
[Letter to Thomas Paine] (written c. 1800, published 1809)
[Monthly Retrospect of Politics] (1810)
Extracts from Letters (written 1805-1813, published 1814)
A Few Plain Facts relative to the Origin of the Liverpool Institute for the Blind (written 1804, published 1817)
An Attempt to prove that Climate, Food, and Manners, are not the Causes of the Dissimilarity of Colour (unknown date, published 1824)
[Letter to Samuel Ryley, 12 August 1814] (written 1814, published 1903)
[Mr Rushtons Remarks on the Slavery] (unknown date, previously unpublished)
[Letter to Thomas Walker, 30 January 1806] (written 1806, previously unpublished)
Abbreviations and Short Titles
Appendix One: poems possibly by Rushton
Appendix Two: poems written to and about Rushton