Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FLEECE: BOOK 3, by JOHN DYER



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THE FLEECE: BOOK 3, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Proceed, arcadian muse; resume the pipe
Last Line: Lo, from the simple fleece, how much proceeds.
Subject(s): Labor & Laborers; Trade; Weaving & Weavers; Work; Workers


THE ARGUMENT.

Introduction. Recommendation of labour. The several methods of spinning.
Description of the loom, and of weaving. Variety of looms. The fulling-mill
described, and the progress of the manufacture. Dyeing of cloth, and the
excellence of the French in that art. Frequent negligence of our artificers. The
ill consequences of idleness. County workhouses proposed; with a description of
one. Good effects of industry exemplified in the prospect of Burstal and Leeds;
and the cloth-market there described. Preference of the labours of the loom to
other manufactures, illustrated by some comparisons. History of the art of
weaving: its removal from the Netherlands, and settlement in several parts in
England. Censure of those who would reject the persecuted and the stranger. Our
trade and prosperity owing to them. Of the manufacture of tapestry, taught us by
the Saracens. Tapestries of Blenheim described. Different arts procuring wealth
to different countries. Numerous inhabitants, and their industry, the surest
source of it. Hence a wish, that our country were open to all men. View of the
roads and rivers through which our manufactures are conveyed. Our navigations
not far from the seat of our manufactures: other countries less happy. The
difficult work of Egypt in joining the Nile to the Red Sea; and of France
attempting, by canals, a communication between the ocean and the Mediterranean.
Such junctions may more easily be performed in England, and the Trent and Severn
united to the Thames. Description of the Thames, and port of London.

PROCEED, Arcadian Muse; resume the pipe
Of Hermes, long disused, though sweet the tone,
And to the songs of Nature's choristers
Harmonious. Audience pure be thy delight,
Though few: for every note which virtue wounds,
However pleasing to the vulgar herd,
To the purged ear is discord. Yet too oft
Has false dissembling vice to amorous airs
The reed applied, and heedless youth allured:
Too oft, with bolder sound, inflamed the rage
Of horrid war. Let now the fleecy looms
Direct our rural numbers, as of old,
When plains and sheepfolds were the Muse's haunts.
So thou, the friend of every virtuous deed
And aim, though feeble, shalt these rural lays
Approve, O Heathcote, whose benevolence
Visits our valleys; where the pasture spreads,
And where the bramble: and would justly act
True charity, by teaching idle want
And vice the inclination to do good,
Good to themselves, and in themselves to all,
Through grateful toil. Even Nature lives by toil:
Beast, bird, air, fire, the heavens, and rolling worlds,
All live by action: nothing lies at rest,
But death and ruin: man is born to care;
Fashioned, improved by labour. This of old,
Wise states observing, gave that happy law,
Which doomed the rich and needy, every rank,
To mutual occupation; and oft called
Their chieftains from the spade, or furrowing plough,
Or bleating sheepfold. Hence utility
Through all conditions; hence the joys of health;
Hence strength of arm, and clear judicious thought;
Hence corn, and wine, and oil, and all in life
Delectable. What simple Nature yields
(And Nature does her part) are only rude
Materials, cumbers on the thorny ground;
'Tis toil that makes them wealth; that makes the fleece,
(Yet useless, rising in unshapen heaps)
Anon, in curious woofs of beauteous hue,
A vesture usefully succinct and warm,
Or, trailing in the length of graceful folds,
A royal mantle. Come, ye village nymphs,
The scattered mists reveal the dusky hills;
Gray dawn appears; the golden morn ascends,
And paints the glittering rocks and purple woods,
And flaming spires; arise, begin your toils;
Behold the fleece beneath the spiky comb
Drop its long locks, or, from the mingling card,
Spread in soft flakes, and swell the whitened floor.
Come, village nymphs, ye matrons, and ye maids
Receive the soft material: with light step
Whether ye turn-around the spacious wheel,
Or, patient sitting, that revolve which forms
A narrower circle. On the brittle work
Point your quick eye; and let the hand assist
To guide and stretch the gently-lessening thread:
Even, unknotted twine will praise your skill.
A different spinning every different web
Asks from your glowing fingers: some require
The more compact, and some the looser wreath;
The last for softness, to delight the touch
Of chamber delicacy: scarce the cirque
Need turn-around, or twine the lengthening flake.

There are, to speed their labour, who prefer
Wheels double-spoled, which yield to either hand
A several line: and many yet adhere
To the ancient distaff, at the bosom fixed,
Casting the whirling spindle as they walk:
At home or in the sheepfold, or the mart,
Alike the work proceeds. This method still
Norvicum favours, and the Icenian towns:
It yields their airy stuffs an apter thread.
This was of old, in no inglorious days,
The mode of spinning, when the Egyptian prince
A golden distaff gave that beauteous nymph,
Too beauteous Helen: no uncourtly gift
Then, when each gay diversion of the fair
Led to ingenious use. But patient art,
That on experience works from hour to hour,
Sagacious, has a spiral engine formed,
Which, on an hundred spoles, an hundred threads,
With one huge wheel, by lapse of water, twines,
Few hands requiring; easy-tended work,
That copiously supplies the greedy loom.
Nor hence, ye nymphs, let anger cloud your brows;
The more is wrought, the more is still required:
Blithe o'er your toils, with wonted song, proceed:
Fear not surcharge; your hands will ever find
Ample employment. In the strife of trade,
These curious instruments of speed obtain
Various advantage, and the diligent
Supply with exercise, as fountains sure,
Which ever-gliding feed the flowery lawn.
Nor, should the careful State, severely kind,
In every province, to the house of toil
Compel the vagrant, and each implement
Of ruder art, the comb, the card, the wheel,
Teach their unwilling hands, nor yet complain.
Yours, with the public good, shall ever rise,
Ever, while o'er the lawns, and airy downs,
The bleating sheep and shepherd's pipe are heard;
While in the brook ye blanch the glistening fleece,
And the amorous youth, delighted with your toils,
Quavers the choicest of his sonnets, warmed
By growing traffic, friend to wedded love.
The amorous youth with various hopes inflamed,
Now on the busy stage see him step forth,
With beating breast: high-honoured he beholds
Rich industry. First, he bespeaks a loom:
From some thick wood the carpenter selects
A slender oak, or beech of glossy trunk,
Or saplin ash: he shapes the sturdy beam,
The posts, and treadles; and the frame combines.
The smith, with iron screws, and plated hoops,
Confirms the strong machine, and gives the bolt
That strains the roll. To these the turner's lathe,
And graver's knife the hollow shuttle add.
Various professions in the work unite;
For each on each depends. Thus he acquires
The curious engine, work of subtle skill;
Howe'er, in vulgar use around the globe
Frequent observed, of high antiquity
No doubtful mark: the adventurous voyager,
Tossed over ocean to remotest shores,
Hears on remotest shores the murmuring loom;
Sees the deep-furrowing plough, and harrowing field,
The wheel-moved waggon, and the discipline
Of strong-yoked steers. What needful art is new?
Next, the industrious youth employs his care
To store soft yarn; and now he strains the warp
Along the garden-walk, or highway side,
Smoothing each thread; now fits it to the loom,
And sits before the work: from hand to hand
The thready shuttle glides along the lines,
Which open to the woof, and shut, altern;
And ever and anon, to firm the work,
Against the web is driven the noisy frame,
That o'er the level rushes, like a surge,
Which, often dashing on the sandy beach,
Compacts the traveller's road: from hand to hand
Again, across the lines oft opening, glides
The thready shuttle, while the web apace
Increases, as the light of eastern skies,
Spread by the rosy fingers of the morn;
And all the fair expanse with beauty glows.
Or, if the broader mantle be the task,
He chooses some companion to his toil.
From side to side, with amicable aim,
Each to the other darts the nimble bolt,
While friendly converse, prompted by the work,
Kindles improvement in the opening mind.
What need we name the several kinds of looms?
Those delicate, to whose fair-coloured threads
Hang figured weights, whose various numbers guide
The artist's hand: he, unseen flowers, and trees,
And vales, and azure hills, unerring works.
Or that, whose numerous needles, glittering bright,
Weave the warm hose to cover tender limbs:
Modern invention: modern is the want.
Next, from the slackened beam the woof unrolled,
Near some clear sliding river, Aire or Stroud,
Is by the noisy fulling-mill received;
Where tumbling waters turn enormous wheels
And hammers, rising and descending, learn
To imitate the industry of man.
Oft the wet web is steeped and often raised,
Fast dripping, to the river's grassy bank;
And sinewy arms of men, with full-strained strength,
Wring out the latent water: then, up-hung
On rugged tenters, to the fervid sun
Its level surface, reeking, it expands;
Still brightening in each rigid discipline,
And gathering worth; as human life, in pains,
Conflicts, and troubles. Soon the clothier's shears,
And burler's thistle, skim the surface sheen.
The round of work goes on, from day to day,
Season to season. So the husbandman
Pursues his cares; his plough divides the glebe;
The seed is sown; rough rattle o'er the clods
The harrow's teeth; quick weeds his hoe subdues;
The sickle labours, and the slow team strains;
Till grateful harvest-home rewards his toils.
The ingenious artist, learn'd in drugs, bestows
The last improvement; for the unlabour'd fleece
Rare is permitted to imbibe the dye.
In penetrating waves of boiling vats
The snowy web is steeped, with grain of weld,
Fustic, or logwood, mixed, or cochineal,
Or the dark purple pulp of Pictish woad,
Of stain tenacious, deep as summer skies,
Like those that canopy the bowers of Stow
After soft rains, when birds their notes attune,
Ere the melodious nightingale begins.
From yon broad vase behold the saffron woofs
Beauteous emerge; from these the azure rise;
This glows with crimson; that the auburn holds;
These shall the prince with purple robes adorn;
And those the warrior mark, and those the priest.
Few are the primal colours of the art;
Five only; black, and yellow, blue, brown, red;
Yet hence innumerable hues arise.
That stain alone is good, which bears unchanged
Dissolving water's, and calcining sun's,
And thieving air's attacks. How great the need,
With utmost caution to prepare the woof,
To seek the best-adapted dyes, and salts,
And purest gums! since your whole skill consists
In opening well the fibres of the woof
For the reception of the beauteous dye,
And wedging every grain in every pore,
Firm as the diamond in gold enchased.
But what the powers which lock them in the web;
Whether incrusting salts, or weight of air,
Or fountain-water's cold contracting wave,
Or all combined, it well befits to know.
Ah! wherefore have we lost our old repute?
And who inquires the cause, why Gallia's sons
In depth and brilliancy of hues excel?
Yet yield not, Britons; grasp in every art
The foremost name. Let others tamely view,
On crowded Smyrna's and Byzantium's strand,
The haughty Turk despise their proffered bales.
Now see, o'er vales, and peopled mountain-tops,
The welcome traders gathering every web,
Industrious, every web too few. Alas!
Successless oft their industry, when cease
The loom and shuttle in the troubled streets;
Their motion stopp'd by wild intemperance,
Toil's scoffing foe, who lures the giddy rout,
To scorn their task-work, and to vagrant life
Turns their rude steps; while misery, among
The cries of infants, haunts their mouldering huts.
O when, through every province, shall be raised
Houses of labour, seats of kind constraint,
For those, who now delight in fruitless sports,
More than in cheerful works of virtuous trade,
Which honest wealth would yield, and portion due
Of public welfare? Ho, ye poor, who seek,
Among the dwellings of the diligent,
For sustenance unearned; who stroll abroad
From house to house, with mischievous intent,
Feigning misfortune: Ho, ye lame, ye blind;
Ye languid limbs, with real want oppressed,
Who tread the rough highways, and mountains wild,
Through storms, and rains, and bitterness of heart;
Ye children of affliction, be compelled
To happiness: the long-wished daylight dawns,
When charitable rigour shall detain
Your step-bruised feet. Even now the sons of trade,
Where'er the cultivated hamlets smile,
Erect the mansion: here soft fleeces shine;
The card awaits you, and the comb, and wheel;
Here shroud you from the thunder of the storm;
No rain shall wet your pillow: here abounds
Pure beverage; here your viands are prepared;
To heal each sickness the physician waits,
And priest entreats to give your Maker praise.
Behold, in Calder's vale, where wide around
Unnumbered villas creep the shrubby hills,
A spacious dome for this fair purpose rise.
High o'er the open gates, with gracious air,
Eliza's image stands. By gentle steps
Up-raised, from room to room we slowly walk,
And view with wonder and with silent joy
The sprightly scene, where many a busy hand,
Where spoles, cards, wheels, and looms, with motion quick,
And ever-murmuring sound, the unwonted sense
Wrap in surprise. To see them all employed,
All blithe, it gives the spreading heart delight,
As neither meats, nor drinks, nor aught of joy
Corporeal, can bestow. Nor less they gain
Virtue than wealth, while, on their useful works
From day to day intent, in their full minds
Evil no place can find. With equal scale
Some deal abroad the well-assorted fleece;
These card the short, those comb the longer flake;
Others the harsh and clotted lock receive,
Yet sever and refine with patient toil,
And bring to proper use. Flax too, and hemp,
Excite their diligence. The younger hands
Ply at the easy work of winding yarn
On swiftly-circling engines, and their notes
Warble together, as a choir of larks:
Such joy arises in the mind employed.
Another scene displays the more robust,
Rasping or grinding rough Brazilian woods,
And what Campeachy's disputable shore
Copious affords to tinge the thirsty web;
And the Caribbee isles, whose dulcet canes
Equal the honeycomb. We next are shown
A circular machine, of new design,
In conic shape: it draws and spins a thread
Without the tedious toil of needless hands.
A wheel, invisible, beneath the floor,
To every member of the harmonious frame
Gives necessary motion. One, intent,
O'erlooks the work: the carded wool, he says,
Is smoothly lapped around those cylinders,
Which, gently turning, yield it to yon cirque
Of upright spindles which, with rapid whirl,
Spin out in long extent an even twine.
From this delightful mansion (if we seek
Still more to view the gifts which honest toil
Distributes) take we now our eastward course,
To the rich fields of Burstal. Wide around
Hillock and valley, farm and village, smile:
And ruddy roofs and chimney-tops appear,
Of busy Leeds, up-wafting to the clouds
The incense of thanksgiving: all is joy;
And trade and business guide the living scene,
Roll the full cars, adown the winding Aire
Load the slow-sailing barges, pile the pack
On the long tinkling train of slow-paced steeds.
As when a sunny day invites abroad
The sedulous ants, they issue from their cells
In bands unnumbered, eager for their work;
O'er high, o'er low, they lift, they draw, they haste
With warm affection to each other's aid;
Repeat their virtuous efforts, and succeed.
Thus all is here in motion, all is life:
The creaking wain brings copious store of corn:
The grazier's sleeky kine obstruct the roads;
The neat-dressed housewives, for the festal board
Crowned with full baskets, in the field-way paths
Come tripping on; the echoing hills repeat
The stroke of axe and hammer; scaffolds rise,
And growing edifices; heaps of stone,
Beneath the chisel, beauteous shapes assume
Of frieze and column. Some, with even line,
New streets are marking in the neighbouring fields,
And sacred domes of worship. Industry,
Which dignifies the artist, lifts the swain,
And the straw cottage to a palace turns,
Over the work presides. Such was the scene
Of hurrying Carthage, when the Trojan chief
First viewed her growing turrets. So appear
The increasing walls of busy Manchester,
Sheffield, and Birmingham, whose reddening fields
Rise and enlarge their suburbs. Lo, in throngs,
For every realm, the careful factors meet,
Whispering each other. In long ranks the bales,
Like war's bright files, beyond the sight extend.
Straight, ere the sounding bell the signal strikes,
Which ends the hour of traffic, they conclude
The speedy compact; and, well-pleased, transfer,
With mutual benefit, superior wealth
To many a kingdom's rent, or tyrant's hoard.
Whate'er is excellent in art proceeds
From labour and endurance: deep the oak
Must sink in stubborn earth its roots obscure,
That hopes to lift its branches to the skies:
Gold cannot gold appear, until man's toil
Discloses wide the mountain's hidden ribs,
And digs the dusky ore, and breaks and grinds
Its gritty parts, and laves in limpid streams,
With oft-repeated toil, and oft in fire
The metal purifies: with the fatigue,
And tedious process of its painful works,
The lusty sicken, and the feeble die.

But cheerful are the labours of the loom,
By health and ease accompanied: they bring
Superior treasures speedier to the State,
Than those of deep Peruvian mines, where slaves
(Wretched requital!) drink, with trembling hand,
Pale palsy's baneful cup. Our happy swains
Behold arising, in their fattening flocks,
A double wealth; more rich than Belgium's boast,
Who tends the culture of the flaxen reed;
Or the Cathayan's, whose ignobler care
Nurses the silkworm; or of India's sons,
Who plant the cotton-grove by Ganges' stream.
Nor do their toils and products furnish more
Than gauds and dresses, of fantastic web,
To the luxurious: but our kinder toils
Give clothing to necessity; keep warm
The unhappy wanderer, on the mountain wild
Benighted, while the tempest beats around.
No, ye soft sons of Ganges and of Ind,
Ye feebly delicate, life little needs
Your feminine toys, nor asks your nerveless arm
To cast the strong-flung shuttle, or the spear.
Can ye defend your country from the storm
Of strong invasion? Can ye want endure
In the besieged fort, with courage firm?
Can ye the weather-beaten vessel steer,
Climb the tall mast, direct the stubborn helm,
Mid wild discordant waves, with steady course?
Can ye lead out to distant colonies,
The o'erflowings of a people, or your wrong'd
Brethren, by impious persecution driven,
And arm their breasts with fortitude to try
New regions; climes, though barren, yet beyond
The baneful power of tyrants? These are deeds
To which their hardy labours well prepare
The sinewy arm of Albion's sons. Pursue,
Ye sons of Albion, with unyielding heart,
Your hardy labours: let the sounding loom
Mix with the melody of every vale;
The loom, that long-renown'd, wide-envied gift
Of wealthy Flandria, who the boon received
From fair Venetia; she from Grecian nymphs;
They from Phenice, who obtained the dole
From old Ægyptus. Thus, around the globe,
The golden-footed sciences their path
Mark, like the sun, enkindling life and joy;
And, followed close by ignorance and pride,
Lead day and night o'er realms. Our day arose
When Alva's tyranny the weaving arts
Drove from the fertile valleys of the Scheld.
With speedy wing and scatter'd course, they fled,
Like a community of bees, disturbed
By some relentless swain's rapacious hand;
While good Eliza to the fugitives
Gave gracious welcome; as wise Ægypt erst
To troubled Nilus, whose nutritious flood
With annual gratitude enriched her meads.
Then, from fair Antwerp, an industrious train
Crossed the smooth channel of our smiling seas;
And in the vales of Cantium, on the banks
Of Stour alighted, and the naval wave
Of spacious Medway: some on gentle Yare
And fertile Waveney pitched; and made their seats
Pleasant Norvicum, and Colcestria's towers:
Some to the Darent sped their happy way:
Berghem, and Sluys, and elder Bruges, chose
Antona's chalky plains, and stretched their tents
Down to Clausentum, and that bay supine
Beneath the shade of Vecta's cliffy isle.
Soon o'er the hospitable realm they spread,
With cheer revived; and in Sabrina's flood,
And the Silurian Tame, their textures blanched:
Not undelighted with Vigornia's spires,
Nor those by Vaga's stream, from ruins raised
Of ancient Ariconium: nor less pleased
With Salop's various scenes; and that soft tract
Of Cambria, deep embayed, Dimetian land,
By green hills fenced, by ocean's murmur lulled;
Nurse of the rustic bard, who now resounds
The fortunes of the fleece; whose ancestors
Were fugitives from superstition's rage,
And erst from Devon thither brought the loom;
Where ivied walls of old Kidwelly's towers,
Nodding, still on their gloomy brows project
Lancastria's arms, embossed in mouldering stone.
Thus then, on Albion's coast, the exiled band,
From rich Menapian towns and the green banks
Of Scheld alighted; and, alighting, sang
Grateful thanksgiving. Yet, at times, they shift
Their habitations, when the hand of pride,
Restraint, or southern luxury, disturbs
Their industry, and urges them to vales
Of the Brigantes; where, with happier care
Inspirited, their art improves the fleece,
Which occupation erst, and wealth immense,
Gave Brabant's swarming habitants, what time
We were their shepherds only; from which state
With friendly arm they raised us: nathless some
Among our old and stubborn swains misdeemed,
And envied who enriched them; envied those,
Whose virtues taught the varletry of towns
To useful toil to turn the pilfering hand.
And still, when bigotry's black clouds arise
(For oft they sudden rise in papal realms,)
They from their isle, as from some ark secure,
Careless, unpitying, view the fiery bolts
Of superstition and tyrannic rage,
And all the fury of the rolling storm,
Which fierce pursues the sufferers in their flight.
Shall not our gates, shall not Britannia's arms
Spread ever open to receive their flight?
A virtuous people, by distresses oft
(Distresses for the sake of truth endured)
Corrected, dignified; creating good
Wherever they inhabit: witness, all ye realms
Of either hemisphere, where commerce flows:
The important truth is stamped on every bale;
Each glossy cloth, and drape of mantle warm,
Receives the impression, every airy woof,
Cheyney, and baize, and serge, and alepine,
Tammy, and crape, and the long countless list
Of woollen webs; and every work of steel;
And that crystalline metal, blown or fused,
Limpid as water dropping from the clefts
Of mossy marble: not to name the aids
Their wit has given the fleece: now taught to link
With flax or cotton, or the silk-worm's thread,
And gain the graces of variety:
Whether to form the matron's decent robe,
Or the thin-shading trail of Agra's nymphs;
Or solemn curtains, whose long gloomy folds
Surround the soft pavilions of the rich.

They too the many-coloured arras taught
To mimic nature, and the airy shapes
Of sportive fancy: such as oft appear
In old Mosaic pavements, when the plough
Up-turns the crumbling glebe of Weldon field;
Or that, o'ershadowed erst by Woodstock's bower,
Now graced by Blenheim, in whose stately rooms
Rise glowing tapestries, that lure the eye
With Marlb'rough's wars: here Schellenberg exults,
Behind surrounding hills of ramparts steep,
And vales of trenches dark; each hideous pass
Armies defend; yet on the hero leads
His Britons, like a torrent, o'er the mounds.
Another scene is Blenheim's glorious field,
And the red Danube. Here, the rescued states
Crowding beneath his shield: there, Ramillies'
Important battle: next, the tenfold chain
Of Arleux burst, and the adamantine gates
Of Gaul flung open to the tyrant's throne.
A shade obscures the rest—Ah, then what power
Invidious from the lifted sickle snatched
The harvest of the plain? So lively glows
The fair delusion, that our passions rise
In the beholding and the glories share
Of visionary battle. This bright art
Did zealous Europe learn of pagan hands,
While she assayed with rage of holy war
To desolate their fields: but old their skill:
Long were the Phrygians' picturing looms renowned;
Tyre also, wealthy seat of arts, excelled,
And elder Sidon, in the historic web.
Far-distant Thibet in her gloomy woods
Rears the gay tent, of blended wool unwoven,
And glutinous materials: the Chinese
Their procelain, Japan its varnish boasts.
Some fair peculiar graces every realm,
And each from each a share of wealth acquires.
But chief by numbers of industrious hands
A nation's wealth is counted: numbers raise
Warm emulation: where that virtue dwells,
There will be traffic's seat; there will she build
Her rich emporium. Hence, ye happy swains,
With hospitality inflame your breast,
And emulation: the whole world receive,
And with their arts, their virtues, deck your isle.
Each clime, each sea, the spacious orb of each,
Shall join their various stores, and amply feed
The mighty brotherhood; while ye proceed,
Active and enterprising, or to teach
The stream a naval course, or till the wild,
Or drain the fen, or stretch the long canal,
Or plough the fertile billows of the deep.
Why to the narrow circle of our coast
Should we submit our limits, while each wind
Assists the stream and sail, and the wide main
Wooes us in every port? See Belgium build,
Upon the foodful brine, her envied power;
And, half her people floating on the wave,
Expand her fishy regions. Thus our isle,
Thus only may Britannia be enlarged.—
But whither, by the visions of the theme
Smit with sublime delight, but whither strays
The raptured Muse, forgetful of her task?
No common pleasure warms the generous mind,
When it beholds the labours of the loom;
How widely round the globe they are dispersed,
From little tenements by wood or croft,
Through many a slender path, how sedulous,
As rills to rivers broad, they speed their way
To public roads, to Fosse, or Watling-street,
Or Armine, ancient works; and thence explore,
Through every navigable wave, the sea
That laps the green earth round: through Tyne, and Tees,
Through Weare, and Lune, and merchandising Hull,
And Swale, and Aire whose crystal waves reflect
The various colours of the tinctured web;
Through Ken, swift rolling down his rocky dale,
Like giddy youth impetuous, then at Wick
Curbing his train, and, with the sober pace
Of cautious eld, meandering to the deep;
Through Dart, and sullen Exe, whose murmuring wave
Envies the Dune and Rother, who have won
The serge and kersie to their blanching streams;
Through Towy, winding under Merlin's towers,
And Usk, that frequent, among hoary rocks,
On her deep waters paints the impending scene,
Wild torrents, crags, and woods, and mountain snows.
The northern Cambrians, an industrious tribe,
Carry their labours on pigmean steeds,
Of size exceeding not Leicestrian sheep,
Yet strong and sprightly: over hill and dale
They travel unfatigued, and lay their bales
In Salop's streets, beneath whose lofty walls
Pearly Sabrina waits them with her barks,
And spreads the swelling sheet. For nowhere far
From some transparent river's naval course
Arise and fall our various hills and vales,
Nowhere far distant from the masted wharf.
We need not vex the strong laborious hand
With toil enormous, as the Egyptian king,
Who joined the sable waters of the Nile,
From Memphis' towers to the Erythræan gulf;
Or as the monarch of enfeebled Gaul,
Whose will imperious forced an hundred streams,
Through many a forest, many a spacious wild,
To stretch their scanty trains from sea to sea,
That some unprofitable skiff might float
Across irriguous dales, and hollowed rocks.
Far easier pains may swell our gentler floods,
And through the centre of the isle conduct
To naval union. Trent and Severn's wave,
By plains alone disparted, woo to join
Majestic Thamis. With their silver urns
The nimble-footed Naiads of the springs
Await upon the dewy lawn, to speed
And celebrate the union: and the light
Wood-nymphs; and those who o'er the grots preside,
Whose stores bituminous, with sparkling fires,
In summer's tedious absence, cheer the swains,
Long sitting at the loom; and those besides,
Who crown, with yellow sheaves, the farmer's hopes;
And all the genii of commercial toil:
These on the dewy lawns await, to speed
And celebrate the union, that the fleece,
And glossy web, to every port around
May lightly glide along. Even now behold,
Adown a thousand floods, the burdened barks,
With white sails glistening, through the gloomy woods
Haste to their harbours. See the silver maze
Of stately Thamis, ever chequered o'er
With deeply-laden barges, gliding smooth
And constant as his stream: in growing pomp,
By Neptune still attended, slow he rolls
To great Augusta's mart, where lofty trade,
Amid a thousand golden spires enthroned,
Gives audience to the world: the strand around
Close swarms with busy crowds of many a realm.
What bales, what wealth, what industry, what fleets!
Lo, from the simple fleece, how much proceeds.





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