Elliott, Ebenezer (1781–1849)

The ‘Corn-Law Rhymer’. Son of an ironmaster, Elliott became an amateur botanist and a self-taught poet after his brother introduced him to Thomson’s Seasons. From 1808, when Elliott first requested Southey’s advice, Southey encouraged his poetic career: Elliott later declared that Southey had taught him the art of poetry. He published Night, or, the Legend of Wharncliffe in 1818 and Tales of the Night in 1820. From the 1820s, Elliott was a manufacturer in Sheffield, where, disgusted by what he saw as the adverse effects of the Corn Laws on business and on the poor, he campaigned for their repeal, especially through his Corn Law Rhymes (1831). Southey reviewed these critically in 1833, writing to Lord Mahon, ‘I never suspected him of giving his mind to any other object than poetry till Wordsworth put the Corn-Law Rhymes into my hands . . . In such times as these, whatever latent evil there is in a nation is brought out’.