Richard Jago


Edge-Hill, Book Three


Poems, Moral and Descriptive

Argument to Book the Third. Address to the Right Hon.the Earl of Clarendon. Metaphysical Subtleties exploded. Philosophical Accountof Vision, and Optic Glasses. Objects of Sight not sufficiently regarded onAccount of their being common. Story relative thereto. Return to the Mid-Scene. Solihul. School-Scene. Bremicham. Its Manufactures. Coal-Mines. Iron-Ore.Process of it. Panegyric upon Iron.

 Again, the Muse her airy flight essays.
 Will Villers, skill'd alike in classic song,
 Or, with a critic's eye, to trace the charms
 Of Nature's beauteous scenes, attend the lay?
5   Will he, accustom'd to soft Latian climes,
 As to their softer numbers, deign awhile
 To quit the Mantuan Bard's harmonious strain,
 By sweet attraction of the theme allur'd?
 The Latian Poet's song is still the same.
10   Not so the Latian fields. The gentle Arts
 That made those fields so fair, when Gothic Rule,
 And Superstition, with her bigot train,
 Fixt there their gloomy seat, to this fair Isle
 Retir'd, with Freedom's gen'rous sons to dwell,
15   To grace her cities, and her smiling plains
 With plenty cloathe, and crown the rural toil.
 Nor hath he found, throughout those spacious realms
 Where Albis flows, and Ister's stately flood,
 More verdant meads, or more superb remains
20   Of old magnificence, than his own fields
 Display, where Clinton's venerable walls
 In ruin, still their ancient grandeur tell.
 Requires there aught of learning's pompous aid
 To prove that all this outward frame of things
25   Is what it seems, not unsubstantial air,
 Ideal vision, or a waking dream,
 Without existence, save what Fancy gives?
 Shall we, because we strive in vain to tell
 How Matter acts on incorporeal Mind,
30   Or how, when sleep has lock'd up ev'ry sense,
 Or fevers rage, Imagination paints
 Unreal scenes, reject what sober sense,
 And calmest thought attest? Shall we confound
 States wholly diff'rent? Sleep with wakeful life?
35   Disease with health? This were to quit the day,
 And seek our path at midnight. To renounce
 Man's surest evidence, and idolize
 Imagination. Hence then banish we
 These metaphysic subtleties, and mark
40   The curious structure of these visual orbs,
 The windows of the mind; substance how clear,
 Aqueous, or crystalline! through which the soul,
 As thro' a glass, all outward things surveys.
 See, while the sun gilds, with his golden beam,
45   Yon' distant pile, which Hyde, with care refin'd,
 From plunder guards, its form how beautiful!
 Anon some cloud his radiance intercepts,
 And all the splendid object fades away.
 Or, if some incrustation o'er the sight
50   Its baleful texture spread, like a clear lens,
 With filth obscur'd! no more the sensory,
 Thro' the thick film, imbibes the chearful day,
 'But cloud instead, and ever-during night
 Surround it.' So, when on some weighty truth
55   A beam of heav'nly light its lustre sheds,
 To Reason's eye it looks supremely fair.
 But if foul Passion, or distemper'd Pride,
 Impede its search, or Phrenzy seize the brain,
 Then Ignorance a gloomy darkness spreads,
60   Or Superstition, with mishapen forms,
 Erects its savage empire in the mind.
 The vulgar race of men, like herds that graze,
 On Instinct live, not knowing how they live;
 While Reason sleeps, or waking stoops to Sense.
65   But sage Philosophy explores the cause
 Of each phænomenon of sight, or sound,
 Taste, touch, or smell; each organ's inmost frame,
 And correspondence with external things:
 Explains how diff'rent texture of their parts
70   Excites sensations diff'rent, rough, or smooth,
 Bitter, or sweet, fragrance, or noisome scent:
 How various streams of undulating air,
 Thro' the ear's winding labyrinth convey'd,
 Cause all the vast variety of sounds.
75   Hence too the subtle properties of light,
 And sev'n-fold colour are distinctly view'd
 In the prismatic glass, and outward forms
 Shewn fairly drawn, in miniature divine,
 On the transparent eye's membraneous cell.
80   By combination hence of diff'rent orbs,
 Convex, or concave, thro' their crystal pores,
 Transmitting variously the solar ray,
 With line oblique, the telescopic tube
 Reveals the wonders of the starry sphere,
85   Worlds above worlds; or, in a single grain,
 Or watry drop, the penetrative eye
 Discerns innumerable inhabitants
 Of perfect structure, imperceptible
 To naked view. Hence each defect of sense
90   Obtains relief; hence to the palsy'd ear
 New impulse, vision new to languid sight,
 Surprize to both, and youthful joys restor'd!
 Cheap is the bliss we never knew to want!
 So graceless spendthrifts waste unthankfully
95   Those sums, which Merit often seeks in vain,
 And Poverty wou'd kneel to call its own.
 So objects, hourly seen, unheeded pass,
 At which the new-created sight would gaze
 With exquisite delight. Doubt ye this truth?
100   A tale shall place it fairer to your view.
 A youth there was, a youth of lib'ral mind,
 And fair proportion in each lineament
 Of outward form; but dim suffusion veil'd
 His sightless orbs, which roll'd, and roll'd in vain
105   To find the blaze of day. From infancy,
 Till full maturity glow'd on his cheek,
 The long, long night its gloomy empire held,
 And mock'd each gentle effort, lotions,
 Or cataplasms, by parental hands,
110   With fruitless care employ'd. At length a Leech,
 Of skill profound, well-vers'd in optic lore,
 An arduous task devis'd aside to draw
 The veil, which, like a cloud, hung o'er his sight,
 And ope a lucid passage to the sun.
115   Instant the Youth the promis'd blessing craves.
 But first his parents, with uplifted hands,
 The healing Pow'rs invoke, and pitying friends
 With sympathizing heart, the rites prepare:
 'Mongst these, who well deserv'd the important trust,
120   A gentle Maid there was, that long had wail'd
 His hapless fate. Full many a tedious hour
 Had she, with converse, and instructive song,
 Beguil'd. Full many a step darkling her arm
 Sustain'd him; and, as they their youthful days
125   In friendly deeds, and mutual intercourse
 Of sweet endearment pass'd, love in each breast
 His empire fix'd; in her's with pity join'd,
 In his with gratitude, and deep regard.
 The friendly wound was giv'n; th'obstructing film
130   Drawn artfully aside; and, on his sight
 Burst the full tide of day. Surpriz'd he stood,
 Not knowing where he was, nor what he saw!
 The skilful artist first, as first in place
 He view'd, then seiz'd his hand, then felt his own,
135   Then mark'd their near resemblance, much perplex'd,
 And still the more perplex'd, the more he saw.
 Now silence first th'impatient mother broke,
 And, as her eager looks on him she bent,
 My son, she cried, my son! On her he gaz'd
140   With fresh surprize. And, what? he cried, art thou
 My mother? for thy voice bespeaks thee such,
 Tho' to my sight unknown. Thy mother I!
 She quick reply'd, thy sister, brother these -
 O! 'tis too much, he said; too soon to part,
145   Ere well we meet! But this new flood of day
 O'erpow'rs me, and I feel a death-like damp
 Chill all my frame, and stop my fault'ring tongue.
 Now Lydia, so they call'd his gentle friend,
 Who, with averted eye, but, in her soul,
150   Had felt the lancing steel, her aid apply'd,
 And stay, dear youth, she said, or with thee take
 Thy Lydia, thine alike in life, or death.
 At Lydia's name, at Lydia's well-known voice,
 He strove again to raise his drooping head,
155   And ope his closing eye, but strove in vain,
 And on her trembling bosom sunk away.
 Now other fears distract his weeping friends.
 But short this grief! for soon his life return'd,
 And, with return of life, return'd their peace.
160   Yet, for his safety, they resolve awhile
 His infant sense from day's bright beams to guard,
 Ere yet again they tempt such dang'rous joy.
 As, when from some transporting dream awak'd,
 We fondly on the sweet delusion dwell,
165   And, with intense reflection, to our minds
 Picture th'enchanted scene - angelic forms -
 Converse sublime - and more than waking bliss!
 Till the coy vision, as the more we strive
 To paint it livelier on th'enraptur'd sense,
170   Still fainter grows, and dies at last away:
 So dwelt the Youth on his late transient joy,
 So long'd the dear remembrance to renew.
 At length, again the wish'd-for day arriv'd.
 The task was Lydia's! her's the charge, alone
175   From dangers new to guard the dear delight;
 But first th'impatient Youth she thus address'd.
 Dear Youth! my trembling hands but ill essay
 This tender task, and with unusual fear,
 My flutt'ring heart forebodes some danger nigh.
180   Dismiss thy fears, he cried, nor think so ill
 I con thy lessons, as still need be taught
 To hail, with caution, the new-coming day.
 Then loose these envious folds, and teach my sight,
 If more can be, to make thee more belov'd.
185   Ah! there's my grief, she cried: 'tis true our hearts
 With mutual passion burn, but then 'tis true
 Thou ne'er hast known me by that subtle sense
 Thro' which love most an easy passage finds;
 That sense! which soon may shew thee many a maid
190   Fairer than Lydia, tho' more faithful none.
 And may she not cease then to be belov'd?
 May she not then, when less thou need'st her care,
 Give place to some new charmer? 'Tis for this
 I sigh; for this my sad foreboding fears
195   New terrors form. And can'st thou then, he cried,
 Want aught that might endear thee to my soul?
 Art thou not excellence? Art thou not all
 That man cou'd wish? Goodness, and gentlest love?
 Can I forget thy long assiduous care?
200   Thy morning-tendance, surest mark to me
 Of day's return, of night thy late adieu?
 Do I need aught to make my bliss compleat,
 When thou art by me? when I press thy hand?
 When I breath fragrance at thy near approach;
205   And hear the sweetest music in thy voice?
 Can that, which to each other sense is dear,
 So wond'rous dear, be otherwise to sight?
 Or can sight make, what is to reason good,
 And lovely, seem less lovely, and less good?
210   Perish the sense, that wou'd make Lydia such!
 Perish its joys, those joys however great!
 If to be purchas'd with the loss of thee.
 O my dear Lydia! if there be indeed
 The danger thou report'st, O! by our love,
215   Our mutual love, I charge thee, ne'er unbind
 These hapless orbs, or tear them from their seat,
 Ere they betray me thus to worse than death.
 No, Heav'n forbid! she cried, for Heav'n hath heard
 Thy parents pray'rs, and many a friend now waits
220   To mingle looks of cordial love with thine.
 And shou'd I rob them of the sacred bliss?
 Shou'd I deprive thee of the rapt'rous sight?
 No! be thou happy; happy be thy friends;
 Whatever fate attends thy Lydia's love;
225   Thy hapless Lydia! - Hapless did I say?
 Ah! wherefore? wherefore wrong I thus thy worth?
 Why doubt thy well-known truth, and constant mind?
 No, happiest she of all the happy train,
 In mutual vows, and plighted faith secure!
230   So saying, she the silken bandage loos'd,
 Nor added further speech, prepar'd to watch
 The new surprize, and guide the doubtful scene,
 By silence more than tenfold night conceal'd.
 When thus the Youth. And is this then the world,
235   In which I am to live? Am I awake?
 Or do I dream? Or hath some pow'r unknown,
 Far from my friends, far from my native home;
 Convey'd me to these radiant seats? O thou!
 Inhabitant of this enlighten'd world!
240   Whose heav'nly softness far transcends his shape,
 By whom this miracle was first atchiev'd,
 O! deign thou to instruct me where I am;
 And how to name thee by true character,
 Angel, or mortal! Once I had a friend,
245   Who, but till now, ne'er left me in distress.
 Her speech was harmony, at which my heart
 With transport flutter'd; and her gracious hand
 Supplied me with whate'er my wish cou'd form;
 Supply, and transport ne'er so wish'd before!
250   Never, when wanted, yet, so long denied!
 Why is she silent now, when most I long
 To hear her heav'nly voice? why flies she not
 With more than usual speed to crown my bliss?
 Ah! did I leave her in that darksome world?
255   Or rather dwells she not in these bright realms,
 Companion fit for such fair forms as thine?
 O! teach me, if thou canst, how I may find
 This gentle counsellor; when found, how know
 By this new sense, which, better still to rate
260   Her worth, I chiefly wish'd. The lovely form
 Replied, In me behold that gentle friend,
 If still thou own'st me such. O! yes, 'tis she,
 He cried; 'tis Lydia! 'tis her charming voice!
 O! speak again; O! let me press thy hand:
265   On these I can rely. This new-born sense
 May cheat me. Yet so much I prize thy form,
 I willingly would think it tells me true -
 Ha! what are these? Are they not they, of whom
 Thou warn'dst me? Yes - true - they are beautiful.
270   But have they lov'd like thee, like thee convers'd?
 They move not as we move, they bear no part
 In my new bliss. And yet methinks, in one,
 Her form I can descry, tho' now so calm!
 Who call'd me son. Mistaken Youth! she cried,
275   These are not what they seem; are not as we,
 Not living substances, but pictur'd shapes,
 Resemblances of life! by mixture form'd
 Of light, and shade, in sweet proportion join'd.
 But hark! I hear, without, thy longing friends,
280   Who wait my summons, and reprove my stay.
 To thy direction, cried th'enraptur'd Youth,
 To thy direction I commit my steps.
 Lead on, be thou my guide, as late, so now,
 In this new world, and teach me how to use
285   This wond'rous faculty; which thus, so soon
 Mocks me with phantoms. Yet enough for me!
 That all my past experience joins with this
 To tell me I am happier than I know.
 To tell me thou art Lydia! From whose side
290   I never more will part! with whom compar'd,
 All others of her sex, however fair,
 Shall be like painted, unsubstantial forms.
 So when the soul, inflam'd with strong desire
 Of purer bliss, its earthly mansion leaves,
295   Perhaps some friendly genius, wont to steer
 With ministerial charge, his dang'rous steps;
 Perhaps some gentle partner of his toil,
 More early blest, in radiant lustre clad,
 And form celestial, meets his dazzled sight;
300   And guides his way, thro' trackless fields of air,
 To join, with rapt'rous joy, th'ethereal train.
 Now to the midland search the Muse returns.
 For more, and still more busy scenes remain;
 The promis'd schools of wise artificers
305   In brass, and iron. But another school
 Of gentler arts demands the Muse's song,
 Where first she learn'd to scan the measur'd verse,
 And aukwardly her infant notes essay'd.
 Hail Solihul! respectful I salute
310   Thy walls; more awful once! when, from the sweets
 Of festive freedom, and domestic ease,
 With throbbing heart, to the stern discipline
 Of paedagogue morose I sad return'd.
 But tho' no more his brow severe, nor dread
315   Of birchen Sceptre awes my riper age,
 A sterner tyrant rises to my view,
 With deadlier weapon arm'd. Ah! Critic! Spare,
 O! spare the Muse, who feels her youthful fears
 On thee transfer'd, and trembles at thy lash.
320   Against the venal tribe, that prostitutes
 The tuneful art, to sooth the villain's breast,
 To blazon fools, or feed the pamper'd lust
 Of bloated vanity; against the tribe
 Which casts its wanton jests at holy truths,
325   Or clothes, with virtue's garb, th'accursed train
 Of loathsome vices, lift thy vengeful arm,
 And all thy just severity exert.
 Enough to venial faults, and hapless want
 Of animated numbers, such as breathe
330   The soul of epic song, hath erst been paid
 Within these walls, still stain'd with infant blood.
 Yet may I not forget the pious care
 Of love parental, anxious to improve
 My youthful mind. Nor yet the debt disown
335   Due to severe restraint, and rigid laws,
 The wholesome curb of Passion's headstrong reign.
 To them I owe that ere, with painful toil,
 Thro' Priscian's crabbed rules, laborious task!
 I held my course, till the dull, tiresome road
340   Plac'd me on classic ground, that well repaid
 The labours of the way. To them I owe
 The pleasing knowledge of my youthful mates
 Matur'd in age, and honours. These among,
 I gratulate whom Augusta's senate hails
345   Father! and, in each charge, and high employ,
 Found worthy all her love, with amplest trust,
 And dignity invests. And well I ween,
 Her tribunitial pow'r, and purple pomp
 On thee confers, in living manners school'd
350   To guard her weal, and vindicate her rights,
 O Ladbroke! once in the same fortunes class'd
 Of early life; with count'nance unestrang'd,
 For ev'ry friendly deed still vacant found!
 Nor can the Muse, while she these scenes surveys,
355   Forget her Shenstone, in the youthful toil
 Associate; whose bright dawn of genius oft
 Smooth'd my incondite verse; whose friendly voice
 Call'd me from giddy sports to follow him
 Intent on better themes - call'd me to taste
360   The charms of British song, the pictur'd page
 Admire, or mark his imitative skill;
 Or with him range in solitary shades,
 And scoop rude grottos in the shelving bank.
 Such were the joys that cheer'd life's early morn!
365   Such the strong sympathy of soul, that knit
 Our hearts congenial in sweet amity!
 On Cherwel's banks, by kindred science nurs'd;
 And well-matur'd in life's advancing stage,
 When, on Ardenna's plain, we fondly stray'd,
370   With mutual trust, and amicable thought;
 Or in the social circle gaily join'd:
 Or round his Leasowe's happy circuit rov'd;
 On hill, and dale invoking ev'ry Muse,
 Nor Tempe's shade, nor Aganippe's fount
375   Envied; so willingly the Dryads nurs'd
 His groves; so lib'rally their crystal urns
 The Naiads pour'd, enchanted with his spells;
 And pleas'd to see their ever-flowing streams
 Led by his hand, in many a mazy line;
380   Or, in the copious tide, collected large,
 Or tumbling from the rock, in sportive falls,
 Now, from the lofty bank, precipitate;
 And now, in gentler course, with murmurs soft
 Soothing the ear; and now, in concert join'd,
385   Fall above fall, oblique, and intricate,
 Among the twisted roots. Ah! whilst I write,
 In deeper murmur flows the sadning stream;
 Wither the groves; and from the beauteous scene,
 Its soft enchantments fly. No more for me
390   A charm it wears, since he alas! is gone,
 Whose genius plann'd it, and whose spirit grac'd.
 Ah! hourly does the fatal doom, pronounc'd
 Against rebellious sin, some social band
 Dissolve, and leave a thousand friends to weep,
395   Soon such themselves, as those they now lament!
 This mournful tribute to thy mem'ry paid!
 The Muse pursues her solitary way;
 But heavily pursues, since thou art gone,
 Whose counsel brighten'd, and whose friendship shar'd
400   The pleasing task. Now Bremicham! to thee
 She steers her flight, and, in thy busy scenes,
 Seeks to restrain awhile the starting tear.
 Yet ere her song describes the smoky forge,
 Or sounding anvil, to the dusky heath
405   Her gentle train she leads. What? tho' no grain,
 Or herbage sweet, or waving woods adorn
 Its dreary surface, yet it bears, within,
 A richer treasury. So worthy minds
 Oft lurk beneath a rude, unsightly form.
410   More hapless they! that few observers search,
 Studious to find this intellectual ore,
 And stamp, with gen'rous deed, its current worth.
 Here many a merchant turns adventurer,
 Encourag'd, not disgusted. Interest thus,
415   On sordid minds, with stronger impulse works,
 Than virtue's heav'nly flame. Yet Providence
 Converts to gen'ral use man's selfish ends.
 Hence are the hungry fed, the naked cloath'd,
 The wintry damps dispell'd, and social mirth
420   Exults, and glows before the blazing hearth.
 When likely signs th'adventrous search invite,
 A cunning artist tries the latent soil:
 And if his subtle engine, in return,
 A brittle mass contains of sable hue,
425   Strait he prepares th'obstructing earth to clear,
 And raise the crumbling rock. A narrow pass
 Once made, wide, and more wide the gloomy cave
 Stretches its vaulted isles, by num'rous hands
 Hourly extended. Some the pick-axe ply,
430   Loos'ning the quarry from its native bed.
 Some waft it into light. Thus the grim ore,
 Here useless, like the miser's brighter hoard,
 Is from its prison brought, and sent abroad,
 The frozen hours to cheer, to minister
435   To needful sustenance, and polish'd arts.
 Mean while the subterraneous city spreads
 Its covert streets, and echoes with the noise
 Of swarthy slaves, and instruments of toil.
 They, such the force of Custom's pow'rful laws!
440   Pursue their sooty labours, destitute
 Of the sun's cheering light, and genial warmth.
 And oft a chilling damp, or unctuous mist,
 Loos'd from the crumbly caverns, issues forth,
 Stopping the springs of life. And oft the flood,
445   Diverted from its course, in torrents pours,
 Drowning the nether world. To cure these ills
 Philosophy two curious arts supplies,
 To drain th'imprison'd air, and, in its place,
 More pure convey, or, with impetuous force,
450   To raise the gath'ring torrents from the deep.
 One from the wind its salutary pow'r
 Derives, thy charity to sick'ning crowds,
 From cheerful haunts, and Nature's balmy draughts
 Confin'd; O friend of man, illustrious Hales!
455   That, stranger still! its influence owes to air,
 By cold, and heat alternate now condens'd,
 Now rarefied. Agent! to vulgar thought
 How seeming weak, in act how pow'rful seen!
 So Providence, by instruments despis'd,
460   All human force, and policy confounds.
 But who that fiercer element can rule?
 When, in the nitrous cave, the kindling flame,
 By pitchy vapours fed, from cell to cell,
 With fury spreads, and the wide fewell'd earth,
465   Around, with greedy joy, receives the blaze.
 By its own entrails nourish'd, like those mounts
 Vesuvian, or Ætnean, still it wastes,
 And still new fewel for its rapine finds
 Exhaustless. Wretched he! who journeying late,
470   O'er the parch'd heath, bewilder'd, seeks his way.
 Oft will his snorting steed, with terror struck,
 His wonted speed refuse, or start aside,
 With rising smoak, and ruddy flame annoy'd.
 While, at each step, his trembling rider quakes,
475   Appall'd with thoughts of bog, or cavern'd pit,
 Or treach'rous earth, subsiding where they tread,
 Tremendous passage to the realms of death!
 Yet want there not ev'n here some lucid spots
 The smoaky scene to cheer, and, by contrast,
480   More fair. Such Dartmouth's cultivated lawns!
 Himself, distinguish'd more with ornament
 Of cultur'd manners, and supernal light!
 Such thine, O Bridgman! Such - but envious time
 Forbids the Muse to these fair scenes to rove,
485   Still minding her of her unfinish'd theme,
 From russet heaths, and smould'ring furnaces,
 To trace the progress of thy steely arts,
 Queen of the sounding anvil! Aston thee,
 And Edgbaston with hospitable shade,
490   And rural pomp invest. O! warn thy sons;
 When, for a time, their labours they forget,
 Not to molest these peaceful solitudes.
 So may the masters of the beauteous scene,
 Protect thy commerce, and their toil reward.
495   Nor does the barren soil conceal alone
 The sable rock inflammable. Oft-times
 More pond'rous ore beneath its surface lies,
 Compact, metallic, but with earthy parts
 Incrusted. These the smoaky kiln consumes,
500   And to the furnace's impetuous rage
 Consigns the solid ore. In the fierce heat
 The pure dissolves, the dross remains behind.
 This push's aside, the trickling metal flows
 Thro' secret valves along the channel'd floor,
505   Where in the mazy moulds of figur'd sand,
 Anon it hardens. Now the busy forge
 Reiterates its blows, to form the bar
 Large, massy, strong. Another art expands,
 Another yet divides the yielding mass
510   To many a taper length, fit to receive
 The artist's will, and take its destin'd form.
 Soon o'er thy furrow'd pavement, Bremicham!
 Ride the loose bars obstrep'rous; to the sons
 Of languid sense, and frame too delicate
515   Harsh noise perchance, but harmony to thine.
 Instant innumerable hands prepare
 To shape, and mould the malleable ore.
 Their heavy sides th'inflated bellows heave,
 Tugged by the pulley'd line, and, with their blast
520   Continuous, the sleeping embers rouse,
 And kindle into life. Strait the rough mass,
 Plung'd in the blazing hearth, its heat contracts,
 And glows transparent. Now, Cyclopean chief!
 Quick on the anvil lay the burning bar,
525   And with thy lusty fellows, on its sides
 Impress the weighty stroke. See, how they strain
 The swelling nerve, and lift the sinewy arm
 In measur'd time; while with their clatt'ring blows,
 From street to street the propagated sound
530   Increasing echoes, and, on ev'ry side,
 The tortur'd metal spreads a radiant show'r.
 'Tis noise, and hurry all! The thronged street,
 The close-piled warehouse, and the busy shop!
 With nimble stroke the tinkling hammers move;
535   While slow, and weighty the vast sledge descends,
 In solemn base responsive, or apart,
 Or socially conjoin'd in tuneful peal.
 The rough file grates; yet useful is its touch,
 As sharp corrosives to the schirrhous flesh,
540   Or, to the stubborn temper, keen rebuke.
 How the coarse metal brightens into fame
 Shap'd by their plastic hands! what ornament!
 What various use! See there the glitt'ring knife
 Of temper'd edge! The scissars' double shaft,
545   Useless apart, in social union join'd,
 Each aiding each! Emblem how beautiful
 Of happy nuptial leagues! The button round,
 Plain, or imbost, or bright with steely rays!
 Or oblong buckle, on the lacker'd shoe,
550   With polish'd lustre, bending elegant
 Its shapely rim. But who can count the forms
 That hourly from the glowing embers rise,
 Or shine attractive thro' the glitt'ring pane,
 And emulate their parent fires? what art
555   Can, in the scanty bounds of measur'd verse,
 Display the treasure of a thousand mines
 To wond'rous shapes by stubborn labour wrought?
 Nor this alone thy praise. Of various grains
 Thy sons a compound form, and to the fire
60   Commit the precious mixture, if perchance
 Some glitt'ring mass may bless their midnight toil,
 Or glossy varnish, or enamel fair,
 To shame the pride of China, or Japan.
 Nor wanting is the graver's pointed steel,
565   Nor pencil, wand'ring o'er the polish'd plate,
 With glowing tints, and mimic life endued.
 Thine too, of graceful form, the letter'd type!
 The friend of learning, and the poet's pride!
 Without thee what avail his splendid aims,
570   And midnight labours? Painful drudgery!
 And pow'rless effort! But that thought of thee
 Imprints fresh vigour on his panting breast,
 As thou ere long shalt on his work impress;
 And, with immortal fame, his praise repay.
575   Hail, native British Ore! of thee possess'd,
 We envy not Golconda's sparkling mines,
 Nor thine Potosi! nor thy kindred hills,
 Teeming with gold. What? tho' in outward form
 Less fair? not less thy worth. To thee we owe
580   More riches than Peruvian mines can yield,
 Or Motezuma's crowded magazines,
 And palaces cou'd boast, though roof'd with gold.
 Splendid barbarity! and rich distress!
 Without the social arts, and useful toil;
585   That polish life, and civilize the mind!
 These are thy gifts, which gold can never buy.
 Thine is the praise to cultivate the soil;
 To bare its inmost strata to the sun;
 To break, and meliorate the stiffen'd clay,
590   And, from its close confinement, set at large
 Its vegetative virtue. Thine it is
 The with'ring hay, and ripen'd grain to sheer,
 And waft the joyous harvest round the land.
 Go now, and see if, to the Silver's edge,
595   The reedy stalk will yield its bearded store,
 In weighty sheafs. Or if the stubborn marle,
 In sidelong rows, with easy force will rise
 Before the Silver plowshare's glitt'ring point.
 Or wou'd your gen'rous horses tread more safe
600   On plated Gold? Your wheels, with swifter force
 On golden axles move? Then grateful own,
 Britannia's sons! Heav'n's providential love,
 That gave you real wealth, not wealth in shew,
 Whose price in bare imagination lies,
605   And artificial compact. Thankful ply
 Your Iron arts, and rule the vanquish'd world.
 Hail, native Ore! without thy pow'rful aid,
 We still had liv'd in huts, with the green sod,
 And broken branches roof'd. Thine is the plane,
610   The chissel thine; which shape the well-arch'd dome,
 The graceful portico; and sculptur'd walls.
 Wou'd ye your coarse, unsightly mines exchange
 For Mexiconian hills? to tread on gold,
 As vulgar sand? with naked limbs, to brave
615   The cold, bleak air? to urge the tedious chace,
 By painful hunger stung, with artless toil,
 Thro' gloomy forests, where the sounding axe,
 To the sun's beam, ne'er op'd the cheerful glade,
 Nor culture's healthful face was ever seen?
620   In squalid huts to lay your weary limbs,
 Bleeding, and faint, and strangers to the bliss
 Of home-felt ease, which British swains can earn,
 With a bare spade; but ill alas! cou'd earn,
 With spades of gold? Such the poor Indian's lot!
625   Who starves 'midst gold, like misers o'er their bags;
 Not with like guilt! Hail, native British Ore!
 For thine is trade, that with its various stores,
 Sails round the world, and visits ev'ry clime,
 And makes the treasures of each clime her own,
630   By gainful commerce of her woolly vests,
 Wrought by the spiky comb; or steely wares,
 From the coarse mass, by stubborn toil, refin'd.
 Such are thy peaceful gifts! And War to thee
 Its best support, and deadliest horror owes,
635   The glitt'ring faulchion, and the thund'ring tube!
 At whose tremendous gleam, and volley'd fire,
 Barbarian kings fly from their useless hoards,
 And yield them all to thy superior pow'r.

First published 1784.