Punch,  48 (1865), 106.

The Ruin of the Rivers



Poetry, Drollery


Pollution, Disease, Environmentalism, Hunting, Comparative Philology, Manufactories, Commerce

    Begins by lamenting the fact that 'we now can taste no more' the fishes that swam in rivers owing to 'the foul pollution / Of our cities'. Comparing the benefits of 'Rus in urbe' to 'Urbs in rure', condemns the factory 'poison' that mixes with 'the turbid streamlet' and sends fish and birds fleeing from the foul rivers. Ponders the form in which Plutus will turn 'poor old England' and believes that 'River-gods' should now be 'represented / Not as bearing urns, but pails'. Develops the classical metaphors by describing how the nymphs of the lake, the Naiads, 'and their mistress, Cloacina, / Holds with you divided reign / O'er what something is between a / River and an open drain'. Concludes by wondering whether 'our money-makers' consider the 'fever, / Sweeping Britain's crowded soil' and lamenting the fact that such people always win the battle for the land.

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