Of Shire Brow,who died on the 17th of Feb, 1862.

WEEP, toiling millions, OSBALDESTON’S dead!
The iron knight – the wizard of the loom
Is gathered to his cold and wormy bed,
On Death’s pale horse he met the pauper’s doom.
Is this thy fate, O genius? – this the dower
The vampyres of thy brain to thee bequeath?
Hast thou to perish ‘neath a tyrant’s power
In Bastile gloom to earn a poet’s wreath?
Most eighty year’s of toil for other’s gain
Roll o’er thy radiant brow in the dim past –
Throw to the sensualist thy golden grain,
And languish in a Lazarhouse at last?
No mock-emblazonry – no gorgeous weeds –
None, save the panic-stricken heart to mourn; -
No golden-spurred postillions pricked the steeds
When OSBALDESTON to the grave was borne.
No solemn dirge, alas – no muffled toll –
No herald-mercury winged thy name abroad –
No priest sung paternosters for thy soul
When thou hadst left behind thy earthly load.
But there were hearts that felt the keenest throe –
Hearts that once beat in unison with thine;
And tongues that cheered thee in thy house of woe,
Familiar to thy ears in “Auld Lang Syne.”
What care the wealthy for the people’s groans?
They eat the kernel, but the husk is ours;
We are the working bees, and they the drones
Who gorge the honey, while we cull the flowers.
Our vaunted realm – our earth-defiant isle –
Provides the millionaires with princely hall;
The artisan with cheerless heart must pile
His glittering heaps, and then ignobly fall.
Our Blackburn genius was of brighter mould
Than wealthy cloisters can ever share;
Carved on the Loom his handicraft behold –
In glaring lines it stands immortal there!

Title:Lines on the Death of John Osbaldeston

Author:John Baron

Publication:The Blackburn Times

Published in:Blackburn

Date:February 22nd 1862

Keywords:industry, literature, poverty


This elegy to the Blackburn weaver and inventor John Osbaldeston celebrates the life of the man and the town’s industrial legacy but also takes the opportunity to attack the wealthy in terms of class opposition. Osbaldeston obtained a patent in 1836 for the improvement of metal healds used in the production of cotton and other textiles. This advanced textile manufacturing considerably but the poem implies that Osbaldeston did not profit proportionately from his invention and the fact that he ‘met the pauper’s doom’ (l. 4) is related bitterly. This is a skilfully written poem, as one would expect from John Baron, with echoes of Shelley’s elegy to Keats, ‘Adonais’, in its suggestion that its subject’s immortality will be achieved by his earthly achievements. – SR