Lapsus Calami (Apr 1891)/Of W. W. (Britannicus)
IV. Of W. W. (Britannicus).
Poetic lamentation on the insufficiency of steam locomotion in the Lake district.
Bright Summer spreads his various hue
O'er nestling vales and mountains steep,
Glad birds are singing in the blue,
In joyous chorus bleat the sheep.
But men are walking to and fro,
Are riding, driving far and near,
And nobody as yet can go
By train to Buttermere.
The sunny lake, the mountain track,
The leafy groves are little gain,
While Rydal's pleasant pathways lack
The rattle of the passing train.
But oh! what poet would not sing
That heaven-kissing rocky cone,
On whose steep side the railway king
Shall set his smoky throne?
Helvellyn in those happy days
With tunnelled base and grimy peak
Will mark the lamp's approaching rays,
Will hear the whistle's warning shriek:
Will note the coming of the mails,
And watch with unremitting stare
The dusky grove of iron rails
Which leads to Euston-square.
Wake, England, wake! 'tis now the hour
To sweep away this black disgrace—
The want of locomotive power
In so enjoyable a place.
Nature has done her part, and why
Is mightier man in his to fail?
I want to hear the porters cry,
"Change here for Ennerdale!"
Man! nature must be sought and found
In lonely pools, on verdant banks;
Go, fight her on her chosen ground,
Turn shapely Thirlmere into tanks:
Pursue her to her last retreats,
And if perchance a garden plot
Is found among the London streets,
Smoke, steam and spare it not.
Presumptuous nature! do not rate
Unduly high thy humble lot,
Nor vainly strive to emulate
The fame of Stephenson and Watt.
The beauties which thy lavish pride
Has scattered through the smiling land
Are little worth till sanctified
By man's completing hand.
Pall Mall Gazette, Nov., 1882.