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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

At the Press of Laurentius

By Elihu Hubbard Smith (1771–1798)

[Born in Litchfield, Conn., 1771. Died in New York, N. Y., 1798. From an Epistle prefixed to the first American Edition of Darwin’s “Botanic Garden.” 1798.]

FIRST, their nice hands the tempered “letter” frame,

Alike in height, in width, in depth, the same

Deep in the “matrices” secure enfold,

And fix within, and “justify” the “mould;”

The red amalgam from the cauldron take,

And flaming pour, and as they pour it, shake;

On the hard table spread the type congealed,

And smooth and polish on its marble field;

While, as his busy fingers either plies,

The embryon parts of future volumes rise.

Next, with wise care, the slender “plate” they choose,

Of shining steel, and fit, with hardened screws,

The shifting “sliders,” which the varying line

Break into parts, or yet as one confine;

Whence, firmly bound, and fitted for the chase,

“Imposed,” it rests upon the stony base;

Till, hardly driven, the many figured “quoins”

Convert to forms the accumulated lines.

Then, with new toil, the upright frame they shape,

And strict connect it by the solid cap;

The moving “head” still more the frame combines,

The guiding shelf its humbler tribute joins;

While the stout “winter” erring change restrains,

And bears the carriage, and the press sustains:

The “platen” these, and “spindle” well connect,

Four slender bars support it, and direct,

As the high handle urging from above,

Downwards and forceful bids its pressure move.

Beneath, with “plank” the patent “carriage” spread,

Lifts the smooth marble on its novel bed,

Rides on its wheeled “spit” in rapid state,

Nor fears to meet the quick-descending weight.

Last, the wise sire the ready “form” supplies,

With cautious hands and scrutinizing eyes;

Fits the moist “tympan” (while the youth intent,

With “patting balls,” applies the sable paint),

Then lowers the “frisket,” turns the flying rounce,

And pulls amain the forceful “bar” at once;

A second turn, a second pressure, gives,

And on the sheet the fair impression lives.

Raptured, the youth and reverend sire behold,

Press to their lips and to their bosoms fold;

Mingle their sighs, ecstatic tears descend,

And, face to face, in silent union blend:

Fond Science triumphs, and rejoicing Fame,

From pole to pole, resounds LAURENTIUS’ name.