Friday, 4 January 2013

Carlton Bank

Carlton Bank

Wide is the prospect Carlton Bank commands
O’er Cleveland and o’er Mowbray’s fertile plains:
Gazing on such a sight the mind disdains
To be bound down by Superstition’s bands.
Yonder the towers of York and Ripon rear 5
Their hoary heads, and many a village spire;
Whilst groves and meads and cornfields never tire
The Poet’s eye; and brooks, as crystal clear,
And grand old Tees, meandering on their way
To yon sail-studded ocean. ’T is a sight 10
To fill the mind with rapturous delight.
Even the smoke that rises night and day,
From Cleveland’s Iron Industry, combines
To form a scene which pleases and refines.
Time was when Alum was the staple trade 15
Of Cleveland. At our feet appears to be
Some old volcano’s crater. Industry
Of Alum-workers’ muscles ’t was that made
That huge abyss,—the only monument
Remaining of their toil; but ’t will remain 20
Whilst Cleveland’s cornfields bear their golden grain,
Or meads with grass are green. Here have been bent
Hundreds of stalwart forms in honest toil—
Useful as honest! they have long since gone,
And flowers they loved in life now grow upon 25
Their quiet country graves: for let us moil
As much through life and ably as we may,
Like them, at last, we in the dust may lay.
As in a book, we here may records read
Of the far-distant Past; strata for leaves, 30
Fossils for hieroglyphics. He perceives
Relics of mighty changes who will heed
The structures of this mountain. On this brow
Still stand large Mare’s Tail water plants erect,
Though turn’d to stone.* No wise man will reject 35
The knowledge Science brings: she never bows
The mind to dogmas without proof, but shows
As we descend this hill, her oyster bed,
And cockles turn’d to stone, around us spread,
To prove that once the ocean’s water rose 40
O’er all the scene. How different since then—
The Pterodactyls giving place to Men!

Mankind have progress’d, with slow march, but sure,
Since Cleveland’s Alum industry began
At yonder Highcliff, under that sage man— 45
One of an ancient race, brave, wise, and pure,
Who bore the honour’d name of CHALLONER.
Through all the district, Cleveland enterprise
Made Alum-works in quick succession rise,
A blessing on the country to confer, 50
Till foul Monopoly—ever a curse
To Commerce and to honest Industry—
Blighted their prospects: and when Liberty
Triumph’d at last in factory and in bourse,
The trade had gone: for driven once away, 55
Our Manufactures are exiled for aye.
Here now, where once the mountain was alive
With stalwart toilers, I can sit alone,
Musing on men and modes for ever gone.
Once Carlton Bank was a most busy hive, 60
With workmen for its bees: now all is still,
Save cuckoo’s call, the hum of bumble bee,
The thrush and linnet’s mingled minstrelsy,
And those glad songs the larks aboon me trill.
Though much reminds me of the past around, 65
The feathery steam, rising from the railroads near,
Recalls me to the Present. Some may jeer
At poet’s musings; but from this very ground,
Once busy, now so quiet, I can see
The harbingers of Good for Futurity. 70

George Markham Tweddell
* The Equisetum Columnare, fine specimens of which are
visible at the summit of Carlton Bank,—the plants and the mud
in which they grew alike turned to stone, and the roots a thin
streak of coal.

Alum Mining on Carlton Bank

No comments:

Post a Comment