[Poem as part of the dedication to a statue of Crompton]
Forth o’er Earth’s green and dasied floors,
The Year leads smiling May;
And surely Bolton-in-the-Moors
Looks beautiful to-day:
And doubly so in this sweet spot,
Where friendship casts my happy lot,
And makes me almost half forget
Distant affection’s homelier debt!
Indulgent friends untiring, try
To make my sojourn sweet;
To favour’d scenes direct my eye;
To hallow’d spots my feet;
A poet-pilgrim to this town,
I visit places of renown;
The martyr’s church, the seats of health,
The birthplace of the spinner’s wealth.
Some names warm, like a spell, the speech
Which I am wont to hear;
Hargreaves, Peel, Arkwright, Crompton, - each
To History’s muse is dear;
And fitly may my generous host,
Of these rare British worthies boast;
O that my verse to some may seem
Not quite unworthy of the theme!
Hail Spirit of Invention! Hail,
Sublime Industrial Art!
So, toilsome Genius doth avail
Triumphant, - to impart
To wheels and spindles, motions rare,
That almost may with life compare:
So subtle, varied, quick, and nice,
A prince’s ransom is their price.
And this is the old “Hall - i’ th’ – Wood” –
Where long in secret thought,
Ingenious Crompton erewhile stood,
And his machinery wrought;
Till more and more he saw expand,
In actual form, what fancy plann’d:
With trembling hope, and lingering fear,
Now deemed rewarding profit near.
How simple seemed the curious frame
When its great end was won:
And how significant its name;
How fine the thread it spun!
What wonder, while this quaint, old room
Close as the secret of the tomb –
Held a machine so rich and rare
That prying eyes came slyly there
‘Twas but a little while, - and then
The secret was reveal’d;
And what a power – when money’d men
Had the Mule’s value seal’d!
I ween the inventor little though
How much his brief success had taught;
That from such small beginning, he
Would live such grand results to see.
So, yonder many-window’d piles –
So strong, and high, and wide;
On whose vast, ruddy bulk, now smiles
The sun in vernal pride!
But enter – each within reveals,
O what wilderness of wheels!
What life-like movements, quick or slow,
From automatic pulses flow.
Strange, that by any trick of art,
The moving frame should pull
So exquisitely part from part,
The vegetable wool;
Till the fine staple seems to run
Like that still by Arachne spun;
Or that fine filature like gold,
Which doth the silkworm’s young enfold.
The trees have mostly from these lands,
Been fell’d, and borne away;
This fine, old timber’d mansion, stands
In dignified decay:
Long may it stand unscathed to claim
Respect for the brave spinner’s name;
For strangers oft, through years to come,
Will venerate the good man’s home!
He toil’d and hoped – and hoped and toil’d –
And struggled long and hard;
Fortune still beckoning – but still foil’d
Him of his just reward;
He lived to see what wealth was won,
By the good which he had done;
He died, - and left his country still
Debtor for unrequited skill.
Honour’d by Bolton’s wealthiest sons,
With triumph as befits;
Statued in ever-during bronze,
Lo, yonder Crompton sits:
In look and attitude of thought,
As he at some hard problem wrought
While in his hand appears the plan,
Which crowns with fame the gifted man.
United thus, these gifts of God –
The Genius, and the Flower –
Gossipium’s cotton-tufted pod,
The mind’s creative power;
Have given to Trade a mighty birth,
Whose influence stretches o’er the earth;
And wins for this Lancastrian town,
Increasing wealth – world-wide renown!
Southfield House, Bolton, J.H.
May 20, 1865.
Publication:The Bolton Chronicle
Date:May 27th 1865
Written just after the end of the American Civil War, as the prospects of the cotton industry could be seen to be truly on the rise again for the first time in four long years, this poem celebrates the erection of a statue in the town of Bolton-born Samuel Crompton (1753-1827), the inventor of the spinning mule which revolutionised the textile industry. – SR