The land that answers best the farmer’s care,
And silvers to maturity the Hop:
When to inhume the plants; to turn the glebe;
And wed the tendrils to th’ aspiring poles:
Under what sign to pluck the crop, and how
To cure, and in capacious sacks infold,
I teach in verse Miltonian. Smile the muse,
And meditate an honour to that land
Where first I breath’d, and struggled into life
Impatient, Cantium, to be call’d thy son.
Oh! cou’d I emulate Dan Sydney’s muse,
Thy Sydney, Cantium—He from court retir’d
In Penshurst’s sweet elysium sung delight,
Sung transport to the soft-responding streams
Of Medway, and enliven’d all her groves:
While ever near him, goddess of the green,
Fair Pembroke sister to Sir Philip Sydney sat, and smil’d immense applause.
With vocal fascination charm’d the Hours
Unguarded left Heav’ns adamantine gate,
And to his lyre, swift as the winged sounds
That skim the air, danc’d unperceiv’d away.
Had I such pow’r, no peasants toil, no hops
Shou’d e’er debase my lay: far nobler themes,
The high atchievements of thy warrior kings
Shou’d raise my thoughts, and dignify my song.
But I, young rustic, dare not leave my cot,
For so enlarg’d a sphere—ah! muse beware,
Lest the loud larums of the braying trump,
Lest the deep drum shou’d drown thy tender reed,
And mar its puny joints: me, lowly swain,
Every unshaven arboret, me the lawns,
Me the voluminous Medway’s silver wave,
Content inglorious, and the hopland shades!
Yeomen, and countrymen attend my song:
Whether you shiver in the marshy Weald commonly, but improperly call’d, the Wild,
Egregious shepherds of unnumber’d flocks,
Whose fleeces, poison’d into purple, deck
All Europe’s kings: or in fair Madum’s Maidstone vale
Imparadis’d, blest denizons, ye dwell;
Or Dorovernia’s Canterbury awful tow’rs ye love:
Or plough Tunbridgia’s salutiferous hills
Industrious, and with draughts chalybiate heal’d,
Confess divine Hygeia’s blissful seat;
The muse demands your presence, ere she tune
Her monitory voice; observe her well,
And catch the wholesome dictates as they fall.
‘Midst thy paternal acres, Farmer, say
Has gracious heav’n bestow’d one field, that basks
Its loamy bosom in the mid-day sun,
Emerging gently from the abject vale,
Nor yet obnoxious to the wind, secure
There shall thou plant thy hop. This soil, perhaps,
Thou’lt say, will fill my garners. Be it so.
But Ceres, rural goddess, at the best
Meanly supports her vot’ry’, enough for her,
If ill-persuading hunger she repell,
And keep the soul from fainting: to enlarge,
To glad the heart, to sublimate the mind,
And wing the flagging spirits to the sky,
Require th’ united influence and aid
Of Bacchus, God of hops, with Ceres join’d
‘Tis he shall gen’rate the buxom beer.
Then on one pedestal, and hand in hand,
Sculptur’d in Parian stone (so gratitude
Indites) let the divine co-part’ners rise.
Stands eastward in thy field a wood? ’tis well.
Esteem it as a bulwark of thy wealth,
And cherish all its branches; tho’ we’ll grant,
Its leaves umbrageous may intercept
The morning rays, and envy some small share
Of Sol’s beneficence to the infant germ.
Yet grutch not that: when whistling Eurus comes,
With all his worlds of insects in thy lands
To hyemate, and monarchize o’er all
Thy vegetable riches, then thy wood
Shall ope it’s arms expansive, and embrace
The storm reluctant, and divert its rage.
Armies of animalc’les urge their way
In vain: the ventilating trees oppose
Their airy march. They blacken distant plains.
This site for thy young nursery obtain’d,
Thou hast begun auspicious, if the soil
(As sung before) be loamy; this the hop
Loves above others, this is rich, is deep,
Is viscous, and tenacious of the pole.
Yet maugre all its native worth, it may
Be meliorated with warm compost. See!
Yon craggy mountain Boxley-Hill, which extends through great part of Kent, whose fastidious head,
Divides the star-set hemisphere above,
And Cantium’s plains beneath; the Appennine
Of a free Italy, whose chalky sides
With verdant shrubs dissimilarly gay,
Still captivate the eye, while at his feet
The silver Medway glides, and in her breast
Views the reflected landskip, charm’d she views
And murmurs louder ectasy below.
Here let us rest awhile, pleas’d to behold
Th’ all-beautiful horizon’s wide expanse,
Far as the eagle’s ken. Here tow’ring spires
First catch the eye, and turn the thoughts to heav’n.
The lofty elms in humble majesty
Bend with the breeze to shade the solemn groves,
And spread an holy darkness; Ceres there
Shines in her golden vesture. Here the meads
Enrich’d by Flora’s daedal hand, with pride
Expose their spotted verdure. Nor are you
Pomona absent; you ‘midst th’ hoary leaves
Swell the vermilion cherry; and on you trees
Suspend the pippen’s palatable gold.
There old Sylvanus in that moss-grown grot
Dwells with his wood-nymphs: they with chaplets green
And russet mantles oft bedight, aloft
From yon bent oaks, in Medway’s bosom fair
Wonder at silver bleak, and prickly pearch,
That swiftly thro’ their floating forests glide.
Yet not even these—these ever-varied scenes
Of wealth and pleasure can engage my eyes
T’ o’erlook the lowly hawthorn, if from thence
The thrush, sweet warbler, chants th’ unstudied lays
Which Phoebus’ self vaulting from yonder cloud
Refulgent, with enliv’ning ray inspires.
But neither tow’ring spires, nor lofty elms,
Nor golden Ceres, nor the meadows green,
Nor orchats, nor the russet-mantled nymphs,
Which to the murmurs of the Medway dance,
Nor sweetly warbling thrush, with half those charms
Attract my eyes, as yonder hop-land close,
Joint-work of art and nature, which reminds
The muse, and to her theme the wand’rer calls.
Here then with pond’rous vehicles and teams
Thy rustics send, and from the caverns deep
Command them bring the chalk: thence to the kiln
Convey, and temper with Vulcanian fires.
Soon as ’tis form’d, thy lime with bounteous hand
O’er all thy lands disseminate; thy lands
Which first have felt the soft’ning spade, and drank
The strength’ning vapours from nutricious marl.
This done, select the choicest hop, t’ insert
Fresh in the opening glebe. Say then, my muse,
Its various kinds, and from th’ effete and vile,
The eligible separate with care.
The noblest species is by Kentish wights
The Master-hop yclep’d. Nature to him
Has giv’n a stouter stalk, patient of cold,
Or Phoebus ev’n in youth, his verdant blood
In brisk saltation circulates and flows
Indesinently vigorous: the next
Is arid, fetid, infecund, and gross
Significantly styl’d the Fryar: the last
Is call’d the Savage, who in ev’ry wood,
And ev’ry hedge unintroduc’d intrudes.
When such the merit of the candidates,
Easy is the election; but, my friend
Would’st thou ne’er fail, to Kent direct thy way,
Where no one shall be frustrated that seeks
Ought that is great or good. Hail, Cantium, hail!
Illustrious parent of the finest fruits,
Illustrious parent of the best of men!
For thee Antiquity’s thrice sacred springs
Placidly stagnant at their fountain head,
I rashly dare to trouble (if from thence,
If ought for thy util’ty I can drain)
And in thy towns adopt th’ Ascraean muse.
Hail heroes, hail invaluable gems,
Splendidly rough within your native mines,
To luxury unrefined, better far
To shake with unbought agues in your weald,
Than dwell a slave to passion and to wealth,
Politely paralytic in the town!
Fav’rites of heav’n! to whom the general doom
Is all remitted, who alone possess
Of Adam’s sons fair Eden—rest ye here,
Nor seek an earthly good above the hop;
A good! untasted by your ancient kings,
And almost to your very sires unknown.
In those blest days when great Eliza reign’d
O’er the adoring nation, when fair peace
Or spread an unstain’d olive round the land,
Or laurell’d war did teach our winged fleets
To lord it o’er the world, when our brave sires
Drank valour from uncauponated beer;
Then th’ hop (before an interdicted plant,
Shun’d like fell aconite) began to hang
Its folded floscles from the golden vine,
And bloom’d a shade to Cantium’s sunny shores
Delightsome, and in chearful goblets laught
Potent, what time Aquarius’ urn impends
To kill the dulsome day—potent to quench
The Syrian ardour, and autumnal ills
To heal with mild potations; sweeter far
Than those which erst the subtile Hengist mix’d
T’ inthral voluptuous Vortigern. He, with love
Emasculate and wine, the toils of war,
Neglected, and to dalliance vile and sloth
Emancipated, saw th’ incroaching Saxons
With unaffected eyes; his hand which ought
T’ have shook the spear of justice, soft and smooth,
Play’d ravishing divisions on the lyre:
This Hengist mark’d, and (for curs’d insolence
Soon fattens on impunity! and becomes
Briareus from a dwarf) fair Thanet gain’d.
Nor stopt he here; but to immense attempts
Ambition sky-aspiring led him on
Adventrous. He an only daughter rear’d,
Roxena, matchless maid! nor rear’d in vain.
Her eagle-ey’d callidity, grave deceit,
And fairy fiction rais’d above her sex,
And furnish’d her with thousand various wiles
Preposterous, more than female; wondrous fair
She was, and docile, which her pious nurse
Observ’d, and early in each female fraud
Her ‘gan initiate: well she knew to smile,
Whene’er vexation gall’d her; did she weep?
‘Twas not sincere, the fountains of her eyes
Play’d artificial streams, yet so well forc’d
They look’d like nature; for ev’n art to her
Was natural, and contrarieties
Seem’d in Roxena congruous and allied.
Such was she, when brisk Vortigern beheld,
Ill-fated prince! and lov’d her. She perceiv’d,
Soon she perceiv’d her conquest; soon she told,
With hasty joy transported, her old sire.
The Saxon inly smil’d, and to his isle
The willing prince invited, but first bad
The nymph prepare the potions; such as fire
The blood’s meand’ring rivulets, and depress
To love the soul. Lo! at the noon of night
Thrice Hecate invok’d the maid—and thrice
The goddess stoop’d assent; forth from a cloud
She stoop’d, and gave the philters pow’r to charm.
These in a splendid cup of burnish’d gold
The lovely sorceress mix’d, and to the prince
Health, peace, and joy propin’d, but to herself
Mutter’d dire exorcisms, and wish’d effect
To th’ love-creating draught: lowly she bow’d
Fawning insinuation bland, that might
Deceive Laertes’ son; her lucid orbs
Shed copiously the oblique rays; her face
Like modest Luna’s shone, but not so pale,
And with no borrow’d lustre; on her brow
Smil’d Fallacy, while summoning each grace,
Kneeling she gave the cup. The prince (for who!
Who cou’d have spurn’d a suppliant so divine?)
Drank eager, and in ecstasy devour’d
Th’ ambrosial perturbation; mad with love
He clasp’d her, and in Hymeneal bands
At once the nymph demanded and obtain’d.
Now Hengist, all his ample wish fulfill’d,
Exulted; and from Kent th’ uxorious prince
Exterminated, and usurp’d his seat.
Long did he reign; but all-devouring time
Has raz’d his palace walls—Perchance on them
Grows the green hop, and o’er his crumbled bust
In spiral twines ascends the scancile pole.—
But now to plant, to dig, to dung, to weed;
Tasks how indelicate? demand the muse.
Come, fair magician, sportive Fancy come,
With thy unbounded imagery; child of thought,
From thy aeriel citadel descend,
And (for thou canst) assist me. Bring with thee
Thy all-creative Talisman; with thee
The active spirits ideal, tow’ring flights,
That hover o’er the muse-resounding groves,
And all thy colourings, all thy shapes display.
Thou to be here, Experience, so shall I
My rules nor in low prose jejunely say,
Nor in smooth numbers musically err;
But vain is Fancy and Experience vain,
If thou, O Hesiod! Virgil of our land,
Or hear’st thou rather, Milton, bard divine,
Whose greatness who shall imitate, save thee?
If thou O Philips Mr. John Philips, author of Cyder, a poem fav’ring dost not hear
Me, inexpert of verse; with gentle hand
Uprear the unpinion’d muse, high on the top
Of that immeasurable mount, that far
Exceeds thine own Plinlimmon, where thou tun’st
With Phoebus’ self thy lyre. Give me to turn
Th’ unwieldly subject with thy graceful ease,
Extol its baseness with thy art; but chief
Illumine, and invigorate with thy fire.
When Phoebus looks thro’ Aries on the spring,
And vernal flow’rs promise the dulcet fruit,
Autumnal pride! delay not then thy setts
In Tellus’ facile bosom to depose
Timely: if thou art wise the bulkiest chuse:
To every root three joints indulge, and form
The Quincunx with well regulated hills.
Soon from the dung-enriched earth, their heads
Thy young plants will uplift their virgin arms,
They’ll stretch, and marriageable claim the pole.
Nor frustrate thou their wishes, so thou may’st
Expect an hopeful issue, jolly Mirth,
Sister of taleful Jocus, tuneful Song,
And fat Good-nature with her honest face.
But yet in the novitiate of their love,
And tenderness of youth suffice small shoots
Cut from the widow’d willow, nor provide
Poles insurmountable as yet. ‘Tis then
When twice bright Phoebus’ vivifying ray,
Twice the cold touch of winter’s icy hand,
They’ve felt; ’tis then we fell sublimer props.
‘Tis then the sturdy woodman’s axe from far
Resounds, resounds, and hark! with hollow groans
Down tumble the big trees, and rushing roll
O’er the crush’d crackling brake, while in his cave
Forlorn, dejected, ‘midst the weeping dryads
Laments Sylvanus for his verdant care.
The ash, or willow for thy use select,
Or storm-enduring chesnut; but the oak
Unfit for this employ, for nobler ends
Reserve untouch’d; she when by time matur’d,
Capacious, of fome British demi-god,
Vernon, or Warren, shall with rapid wing
Infuriate, like Jove’s armour-bearing bird,
Fly on thy foes; They, like the parted waves,
Which to the brazen beak murmuring give way
Amaz’d, and roaring from the fight recede.—
In that sweet month, when to the list’ning swains
Fair Philomel fings love, and every cot
With garlands blooms bedight, with bandage meet
The tendrils bind, and to the tall pole tie,
Else soon, too soon their meretricious arms
Round each ignoble clod they’ll fold, and leave
Averse the lordly prop. Thus, have I heard
Where there’s no mutual tye, no strong connection
Of love-conspiring hearts, oft the young bride
Has prostituted to her slaves her charms,
While the infatuated lord admires
Fresh-budding sprouts, and issue not his own.
Now turn the glebe: soon with correcting hand
When smiling June in jocund dance leads on
Long days and happy hours, from ev’ry vine
Dock the redundant branches, and once more
With the sharp spade thy numerous acres till.
The shovel next must lend its aid, enlarge
The little hillocks, and erase the weeds.
This in that month its title which derives
From great Augustus’ ever sacred name!
Sovereign of Science! master of the Muse!
Neglected Genius’ firm ally! Of worth
Best judge, and best rewarder, whose applause
To bards was fame and fortune! O! ’twas well,
Well did you too in this, all glorious heroes!
Ye Romans!—on Time’s wing you’ve stamp’d his praise,
And time shall bear it to eternity.
Now are our lab’rours crown’d with their reward,
Now bloom the florid hops, and in the stream
Shine in their floating silver, while above
T’embow’ring branches culminate, and form
A walk impervious to the sun; the poles
In comely order stand; and while you cleave
With the small skiff the Medway’s lucid wave,
In comely order still their ranks preserve,
And seem to march along th’ extensive plain.
In neat arrangement thus the men of Kent,
With native oak at once adorn’d and arm’d,
Intrepid march’d; for well they knew the cries
Of dying Liberty, and Astraea’s voice,
Who as she fled, to echoing woods complain’d
Of tyranny, and William; like a god,
Refulgent stood the conqueror, on his troops
He sent his looks enliv’ning as the sun’s,
But on his foes frown’d agony, frown’d death.
On his left side in bright emblazonry
His falchion burn’d; forth from his sevenfold shield
A basilisk shot adamant; his brow
Wore clouds of fury!—on that with plumage crown’d
Of various hue sat a tremendous cone:
Thus sits high-canopied above the clouds,
Terrific beauty of nocturnal skies,
Northern Aurora Aurora Borealis, or lights in the air; a phoenomenon which of late years has been very frequent here, and in all the more northern countries; she thro’ th’ azure air
Shoots, shoots her trem’lous rays in painted streaks
Continual, while waving to the wind
O’er Night’s dark veil her lucid tresses flow.
The trav’ler views th’ unseasonable day
Astound, the proud bend lowly to the earth,
The pious matrons tremble for the world.
But what can daunt th’ insuperable souls
Of Cantium’s matchless sons? On they proceed,
All innocent of fear; each face express’d
Contemptuous admiration, while they view’d
The well-fed brigades of embroider’d slaves
That drew the sword for gain. First of the van,
With an enormous bough, a shepherd swain
Whistled with rustic notes; but such as show’d
A heart magnanimous: The men of Kent
Follow the tuneful swain, while o’er their heads
The green leaves whisper, and the big boughs bend.
‘Twas thus the Thracian, whose all-quick’ning lyre
The floods inspir’d, and taught the rocks to feel,
Play’d before dancing Haemus, to the tune,
The lute’s soft tune! The flutt’ring branches wave,
The rocks enjoy it, and the rivulets hear,
The hillocks skip, emerge the humble vales,
And all the mighty mountain nods applause.
The conqueror view’d them, and as one that sees
The vast abrupt of Scylla, or as one
That from th’ oblivious Lethaean streams
Has drank eternal apathy, he stood.
His host an universal panic seiz’d
Prodigious, inopine; their armour shook,
And clatter’d to the trembling of their limbs;
Some to the walking wilderness gan run
Confus’d, and in th’ inhospitable shade
For shelter sought—Wretches! they shelter find,
Eternal shelter in the arms of death!
Thus when Aquarius pours out all his urn
Down on some lonesome heath, the traveller
That wanders o’er the wint’ry waste, accepts
The invitation of some spreading beech
Joyous; but soon the treach’rous gloom betrays
Th’ unwary visitor, while on his head
Th’ inlarging drops in double show’rs descend.
And now no longer in disguise the men
Of Kent appear; down they all drop their boughs,
And shine in brazen panoply divine.
Enough—Great William (for full well he knew
How vain would be the contest) to the sons
Of glorious Cantium, gave their lives, and laws,
And liberties secure, and to the prowess
Of Kentish wights, like Caesar, deign’d to yield.
Caesar and William! Hail immortal worthies,
Illustrious vanquish’d! Cantium, if to them,
Posterity will all her chiefs unborn,
Ought similar, ought second has to boast.
Once more (so prophecies the Muse) thy sons
Shall triumph, emulous of their sires—till then
With olive, and with hop-land garlands crown’d,
O’er all thy land reign Plenty, reign fair Peace.
The land that answers best the farmer’s care,