You may tell me of furnaces blazing and bright,
Of engines that thunder from morning till night;
But show me the craftsman, whoe'er he may be,
That works, in his calling, such wonders as we?
'Tis we that bring riches, 'tis we that bring fame,
Give the banker his notes, and the author his name;
Provide for the future, past ages recall,
Make books for the learned, and letters for all!
But who that beheld us receiving the stuff,
So foul and so tattered, so worn and so rough,
Could think of the changes our magic can teach,
When we sort, and we dust, and we boil, and we bleach?
The dark we make white, and the foul we make clean,
And the rags of the beggar we fit for the Queen;
And the pulp must be taught, ere we work it, to flow
As soft as sea-foam and as pure as the snow.
From the vat to the cistern, from thence to the wire,
That the pulp may grow firm, and the water retire;
And still, as it moves in continuous length,
It loses in weight, and increases in strength:
Then o'er the first roller, to dry and to drain,
Then over the second, and under again:
That the damp of the vat it may learn to forget,
It must roll o'er the hot metal cylinder yet:
Thence passing still onwards, its toil it completes,
Shaped out by the cutting machine into sheets:
Forthwith we can sort it, as best may beseem,
For the warehouse or shop, in the quire or the ream.
We may learn, (who sit watching from morning to night,
How foul are our rags, and our paper how white,)
When we meet with an evil how inbred soe'er,
To try and improve it, and never despair!