Reply to Wordsworth

Synopsis: Reply to Wordsworth's sonnet objecting to the Kendal & Windermere railway countering Wordsworth's objections by describing the benefits the railway will bring.

Baffle the Rail, bright scene from Orrest Head,
Somewhere in Wordsworth I this line have read; [Note 663.1]
Who calls on Winds and Torrents fierce and strong
In sound and fury to forbid the wrong.
They heard the call in vain; - on "English ground"
"No sacred nook" has ever yet been found
To scare the dead, when enterprise could throw
A fair surmise, that "flowers of hope" might grow.
Our "earliest flowers" we offer to the Bard,
Although his compliments were rather hard;
"Round his paternal fields at random throw"
No "false" enchantments; but a kindly glow;-
"Utilitarian lures?" - 'tis even so.
To feast upon the "beautiful romance"
"Given to the pausing traveller's rapturous glance,"
Shall be the lot of thousands who shall feel
The vast advantage of a road of steel;
Who 'mongst its pleasing features shall recount,
An easy pilgrimage to Rydal Mount, [Note 663.2]
"Retirement" "from the busy world, kept pure"
They may admire, but could not well endure;
The Bard need not "the ruthless change bemoan"
When Art flings double charms round Nature's throne.
The Train has stopped it buzzing, roaring wheels,
But the Lake's ripples follow at its heels:
For gliding down its bosom, smooth and clear,
Steamers on Windermere itself appear:- [Note 663.3]
How shall the Poet's soul "this blight endure!"
His powers will sink! - I fear to rise no more:-
"The rash assault!" "Are humans so dead"
To all that fills a poet with such dread;
As to commit such outrage, and such wrong
In spite of protests which though vain were long?
Come to the bar ye wriggling Rail and Barge
Say if ye can, - Not Guilty! to the charge.
Or why invade the land, (the Plaintiff pleads)
Sacred to solitude, to rocks and weeds
O'er my "paternal fields" a line to throw
Comes near the darker verge of human woe:
Why give each town-cramp'd soul the sight so grand
To view the peaks that decorate our land?
Speak! - answer why! - or crumble into sand
The Rail and Barge both glory in the deed,
To the impeachment gladly Guilty plead,
But conscious of the bounties they dispense
They offer this, a short and firm defence.
Not to disturb the pure and classic fount
That graceful, flows in ink from Rydal Mount,
But to unite the ground with tamer scenes,
And show to each, that each with beauty teems:
To give the hamlets of the mountain dells
The Arts in which the busy South excells;
To give the South to view the peaks sublime,
That bid defiance to the scythe of time;
To give to town-cramp'd souls the power to soar,
And taste of pleasures never known before:-
WE won our way - through rocks - o'er waters grand,
Opening, (we trust) the beauties of the land.
If from "paternal fields" we take a part,
We pay most handsomely by way of smart;
We give a double value for the slice,
And make the remnant worth a double price.
And for the Bard, - (as Off'ring for our crimes)
We'll give the world to appreciate his rhymes,
The mind will surely place his beauties higher
When read 'mid scenes that did the thoughts inspire,
We'll spread his fame: - what more can he require?
Are not these motives good, and clear, and strong,
Full satisfaction for the sons of song?
Carrying conviction wheresoever read,
Appealing to the heart, as well as head.
Conscious from wrong our cause we have been clearing,
We'll give the Plaintiff good Words,-worth the hearing
The judgement of a jury never fearing

Notes on the Poem and Its Historical Context: