The Press, a Poem, in Two Parts, with Other Pieces. By John M‘Creery. 2nd ed. London: William Pickering, 1828. 1-9.


ADDRESS to the Shade of Guttemberg--State of man before the Invention of Letters--Efforts of Ambition to perpetuate his fame--Birth of Letters--Tribute to the memory of those who first applied themselves to study--Awaking of Science--Astronomy, Painting, Sculpture, Poetry, began to improve--Celebrated Characters who flourished before the invention of Printing--The office of Scribe among the ancients--Libraries instituted--Printing discovered at Mentz by Guttemberg--described--Faust and Schœffer assist him--The former invents moveable Types--Thrown into prison at Paris under suspicion of dealing with the Devil--Diffusion of the art over the continent of Europe--Caxton introduces it into England--Practises it in Westminster Abbey--Origin of the Printer’s Chapel--Respectable mention of celebrated Printers--Apostrophe to Warriors on their abuse of the Press--Characters by whom the art is degraded--Prostitution of the Public Journals--Pitt’s Statue, and his hostility against the Liberty of the Press--Bonaparte tramples on the Rights of Man, and extinguishes the Freedom of the Press in France--Conclusion.



SIRE of our Art, whose genius first design’d
This great memorial of a daring mind,
And taught the lever with unceasing play
To stop the waste of time’s destructive sway,
The verse--O great Progenitor! be thine,
Late, but sincere, where all thy worth shall shine;
What Printer ever since thy distant days
Hath touch’d the strings responsive to thy praise?
With trembling hand the boon let me bestow;
Hear then, ye nations, what to him ye owe.
    Say, what was man ere by the PRESS refined?
What bonds his glorious energies confined?
Did genius, through the dull chaotic waste,
Court the fair forms of beauty and of taste,
Though strong his ardour, and though pure his love,
Small was the sphere wherein those powers could move.
    The meteor beam that science lent mankind,
Darting effulgence on th’ inquiring mind,
Oft gleam’d--a weak and transitory light,
A moment glared--then sunk in endless night:
Man knew no means to hold the flitting race
Of art’s coy forms, that courted his embrace,
His only hope in memory’s stinted power,
The oral record--changing every hour.
    In early times, our PRESS as yet unknown,
The artist carved his hieroglyphick stone;
The lasting pile Ambition sought to raise,
To gratify his ardent thirst of praise;
Whilst round him mouldering ruins mock’d his care,
And shew’d th’ oblivious fate his toil must share;
And Genius pensive sat--in thought profound,
Mourning the spoils of ages scatter’d round.
Benighted reason slumber’d in the breast,
Lull’d by the gloom of ignorance to rest;
The trackless age with rapid pinion flew,
And dropp’d the veil that closed the distant view.
    Muse--to my pensive hours for ever dear,
With brighter scenes my languid spirits cheer,
From man unletter’d as I willing turn,
Let me the guardian hand of Heaven discern;
Blest be his shade in endless realms of light,
Who bade the Alphabet dispel our night;
Those wondrous symbols that can still retain
The phantom forms that pass along the brain,
O’er unsubstantial thought hold strong controul,
And fix the essence of the immortal soul.
Man unreluctant meets the general doom,
His mind embalm’d, defies the o’erwhelming tomb,
Lives in fresh vigour through succeeding years,
Nor yields its powers whilst nature guides the spheres.
    Where swelling Nile his fertilizing stores
O’er thirsty Egypt unexhausted pours,
Where Plenty, rising from the reeking soil,
Bends with the load that asks no human toil,
And every charm luxuriant nature brings,
Spontaneous from her teeming bosom springs,
Industrious Science form’d the great design,
To range in words the alphabetic sign;
On language permanence and life bestow’d,
Of written thought the first rude efforts shew’d:
And as the rays of morning’s golden eye
Streak with resplendent light the eastern sky,
So with mild beam the sun of knowledge rose,
That round us now a noontide lustre throws.
    Immortal spirits! ye who first could feel
For learning’s pure delights a holy zeal;
Who first the ever-wasting lamp renew’d,
Wrapt in the joys of thoughtful solitude;
And raised the temple on eternal base,
To knowledge sacred and the human race;
Through drear oblivion’s boundless vortext tost,
Sages! we mourn your great productions lost;
Yet be your worth in every distant clime
Acknowledged through the thickening mists of time.
    Now Science, rising from her trance profound,
Benignant calls her numerous children round;
As study wills--commands them to impart
The secret means that shew her wondrous art.
    Astronomy--in Heavenly beauty bright,
Traced the pure glories of celestial light,
Where clustering worlds in countless numbers throng;
To distant systems distant suns belong;
Beheld the flaming comet’s course sublime,
And rolling orbs that mark the lapse of time--
With her, through nature’s works the mortal soar’d,
Then sunk astonish’d and his God adored.
    Perspective soon to Painting lent her aid;
Her mellowing tints in softness distance fade;
The beamy forms more captivating shone,
Through the dull gloom by shapeless shadow thrown.
Whate’er the skill that guides the immortal hand,
Fate but a moment leaves at its command.
The kindred Muse no irksome bondage fears,
Her song the great events of circling years.
    ’Twas then the Sculptor sought a nobler goal;
Strong emulation fired his ardent soul;
Celestial beauty wondering at his art,
As from the block her sister angels start.
    Bewitching Verse her mild enchantments threw,
The fine nerve trembling as her spells she drew;
Enliven’d by her harp’s symphonious sound
Gay Fancy’s airy offspring sported round.
    Led by this band in paths untrod before,
Man sought the depths of nature’s boundless store;
As dropt the film from his obstructed sight,
And ignorance fled in deepest shades of night,
He saw the gifts conferr’d by bounteous Heaven,
Felt the strong impulses to reason given,
And still, as taste inspired or genius will’d,
The arduous aim, the high behest fulfill’d.

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