Poets of John Company/John Company



John Company.

From the days of Job Charnock, scarce known on record.
To the triumphs of Plassey's redoubtable Lord,
The Company traffick'd unheeded:
She sent her ships forth, the wide ocean to roam,
With rich cargoes well freighted, and brought richer home
And in all she adventur'd succeeded.

By oppression provok'd, she to arms had recourse,
And soon made her oppressors submit to her force;
From defensive proceeded offender:
And her courage attemper'd with wisdom conspir'd
To aggrandize her pow'r, till at length she acquir'd
Of an empire entire the surrender.

Now the sages in schools of diplomacy bred,
Civil doctors, divines, and state-moralists said—
(And the senate confirm'd their opinion;)
That for her, a mere trader (for what was she more?)
Or her factors and clerks, from her counting-house door,
To pretend to the rights of dominion;

That to give up the pen in exchange for the gun;
To hold rule over nations—no matter how won:—
To make treaties; assume legislature;
Nay worse, of finance to distribute the drains,
To elicit their currents, and pocket the gains;
Was to gospel repugnant and nature.

So they stripped off her robe; but the loss to atone.
His Majesty gave her a cloak of his own;
Lent her armies and fleets for protectors;
To diminish her cares, and to lighten their weight,
For her guardians appointed the Lords of the State,
And a Board to direct her Directors.

Thus equipp'd, and embrac'd by the beams of the throne.
As once Semele, wrapp'd in Jove's attributes, shone,
Now as meek and resigned as a martyr.
With the guilt of imputed offences defil'd,
By rapacity pilfer'd, by malice revil'd.
She gave up the ghost, and her charter.

Though ignoble her birth, yet in death she may boast
That her orb in the colours of glory was lost.
Like the sun, when he sets in Orion;
This reflection of comfort at least to produce—
That her greatness arose from the quill of a goose,
And was crush'd by the paw of a lion.