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Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Early Stove Poem

18th-century England wasn't a great place for iron stoves (nor was 19th century Britain either, for reasons I might get into sometime), but there was one big exception: the works of Abraham Buzaglo, an immigrant Moroccan Jew of Spanish émigré background, who died in 1788.  He is known in America because one of the last royal governors of Virginia, Lord Botetourt, gave a very grand Buzaglo stove to the House of Burgesses in 1770.  It survived the Revolution, and being removed from Williamsburg to Richmond when the new state's capital was moved to escape British troops.  It's now back in Williamsburg.


G.A.M., "The Old Stove Again," in William Maxwell, ed., The Virginia Historical Register, and Literary Companion, 6:1 (Richmond: Macfarlane & Fergusson, 1853), pp. 42-5,

Samuel Mordecai, Richmond in By-Gone Days: Being Reminiscences of an Old Citizen (Richmond,
VA: G.M. West, 1856; New York, Arno Press, 1975), pp. 60-61, -- pp. 74-5 in the 1860 ed.,

Elizabeth P. Guzler, "Buzaglo's 'Masterpiece' in Iron -- London Iron Founder Abraham Buzaglo," Magazine Antiques (Jan. 1997),

Loretta Chase & Susan Holloway Scott, "Keeping Warm: Buzaglo Stoves," 4 Feb. 2010,

Anyway, 'Buzaglos' (the maker's name turned into the name for his works) found quite a market in upper-class houses, churches, etc., in Georgian England, and even made their way into a poem that I found, as I find so much, online.

-- o -- 

Richard Tickell, "The Project. To the Dean Tucker," Epistle 11 in Bell's Classical Arrangement of Fugitive Poetry Vol. 4 (London: John Bell, 1793), pp. 92-101,

The basic 'conceit' underlying the poem is that climate forms national character, a common late C18th belief; so if you can change the indoor climate with the aid of a Buzaglo, maybe you can change people's character and behaviour too, and in particular the behaviour of members of the warring parties and factions in the House of Commons.  It's too long to quote in full, but the following extracts give the essence, and if anybody is ever interested, they can read it in full above.

p. 93

The silken sons of slavish ease [the TURKS], /
Wou'd glow for freedom, while they freeze, /
And, in proportion to the coldness, /
Discover latent fire and boldness. /
For thus 'tis Montesquieu explains /
The power of air upon the veins ; /
The short'ning fibres brac'd by cold, /
The blood flies back, the heart grows bold ; /
Relax'd by heat, their force declines, /
The spirits droop, the being pines :  /
Till, quite o'erpow'r'd, the sick'ning soul, /
Yields to the atmosphere's control : /
Thus air each impulse can impart, /
To that thermometer, the heart. /
Thanks, mighty Jove, thy sovereign care, /
Environs us with Northern air ! /
Our atmosphere to honor leads, /
Inspires the breast to hardy deeds ; /
The heart beats quick ; -- the spirits rise; /
All which our latitude supplies. /
Yet, (for extremes ev'n virtue mar) /
We sometimes carry our's too far : /
When winter winds too chilly pierce, /
We grow impatient, wild. and fierce; /
While every softer virtue flies, /
To gentler climes, and milder skies.

p. 94

The system's plain if well pursued; /
We must correct our latitude. /
How many Questions have been lost, /
By the house meeting in a frost? /
The opposition flock together, /
Like strings of wild geese, in hard weather ;/
Keen, as the blast that chills their blood, /
They nip each ministerial bud :

p. 95 Tickell's bright idea: excessive COLD leads to political argument, and anti-ministerial attacks; so THE PROJECT is to mitigate the effects with a stove:

Winter, stern pow'r ! must still create /
The kindred storms of mad debate; /
Still, by the climate's magic pow'r, /
Must gloomy statesmen droop and lour, /
Unless some Project we can frame /
To sooth it's rage - it's rigor tame. /
A simple plan the Muse explains; /
Nor asks a patent for her pains. /
In either house, below the chairs, /
Where Bathurst rules, and Norton glares, /
There stands a table, where they place /
The votes, the journals, and the mace: /
"Hence with that bauble!" Cromwell cried; /
And wisely too; 'tis useless pride; /
Hence with it all! it fills a place /
A nobler ornament shall grace. /
Here with capacious bulk, profound /
As Falstaff's paunch, as Plymouth's round, /
A vast Buzaglo, day by day, /
Shall chase the noxious blasts away, /
And spread an artificial glow, /
Tho' Palace-yard be wrapt in snow. - /
Around the flame, with vestal pride, /
A Fire-Committee shall preside,

p. 96

How bright will the Buzaglo glow, /
While heaps of Juntas blaze below.

p. 97

Already, by thy fond presage, /
Her [time's] blest Buzaglo melts the age; /
Relenting Party feels it's sway; /
And Faction's vapors die away.

p. 98

Now let the full Buzaglo glow! /
Spread wide the flame above, below: /
Now Montesquieu, thy wisdom shines; /
Thy system 's true, 'tis heat refines: /
It's genial influence all adore; /
And opposition is no more.

p. 100

... the House enjoys the effect /
And the Buzaglo all protect. /
But Fox, more warily, to gain. /
His dear delight to speak again, /
Most humbly moves, since they approve /
This potent wonder-working stove,  /

Lest some unseen mischance ensue, /
They'd have a Ventilator too.


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