Sunday, October 07, 2012


Blest Leaf!

James Hurnard (1808-1881), The Setting Sun, 3rd ed. (London: Saml. Harris & Co., 1878), pp. 321-322; rpt. in James Hurnard: A Victorian Character. Being Passages from The Setting Sun. Selected and Arranged by G. Rostrevor Hamilton (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1946), pp. 118-119:
The Tea-kettle, with its grand high-pressure power
Of irresistible yet submissive steam,
Has turned the old world wholly topsy turvy;
And so the Tea-pot, in a gentler way,
Wields at its will the modern moral world,
Warms and inspires and fashions it anew,
And elevates it into nobler forms.
Every good cause and every generous object
Gains strength, and fervour, and determination
When it is heated over a cup of tea!
Blest leaf! the product of the Flowery Land,
Invested with a fragrance, and a flavour,
A delicacy, a charm, an animation,
Caught from the sun and soil of far Cathay,
How are thy potent influences diffused
Through every rank of life! whether thou art sipped
From the gold burnished porcelain of proud halls.
Or the coarse earthen cups of the thatched cottage—
Whether by jewelled duchesses and nobles,
Or the lone, weary, widowed washerwoman—
All find in thee an innocent inspiration,
Which leaves behind no baneful Nemesis.
Thou art the small, cheap, luxury of millions!
Life is made up of trifles multiplied.
Moments compose the tissue of our years,
Small grains of wheat form the chief food of nations,
And tiny leaves, from the Celestial Empire,
Gladden the hearts of world-wide Christendom,
And help to civilise the human race.
Let us do honour to the immortal Teapot,
The true palladium of our happy country!
Talk of the Lion and the Unicorn—
They are the emblems only of the past;
The Tea-kettle and the Tea-pot are become
The symbols of our national strength and virtue!

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