George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

. (page 13 of 49)
Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 13 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

growtli. liiivo nn apin-anilice illtercbting and agreeable evi u lo tliose wlto are ignorant of,
and indiflocnt to, tlie canpe.

• 11m teveral purposes lor which bells are used, are expressed in two Latin verses of
this kind.


And by the honours dealt to every name.
The King of Terrors seems to level fame.
See ! here lamented wives, and every wife
The pride and comfort of her husband's life ;
Here, to her spouse, with every virtue graced,
His mournful widow has a trophy placed ;
And here 'tis doubtful if the duteous son,
Or the good father, be in praise outdone.

This maj' be nature : when our friends we lose,
Our alter'cf feelings alter too our views ;
What in their tempers teased us or distress' d.
Is, with our anger and the dead, at rest ;
And much we grieve, no longer trial made.
For that impatience which we then display'd ;
Now to their love and worth of every kind
A soft compunction turns th' afflicted nand ;
Virtues neglected then, adored become.
And graces slighted, blossom on the tomb.

'Tis well ; but let nut love nor gi-ief believe
That we assent (who neither loved nor grieve)
To all that praise which on the tomb is read,
To all that passion dictates for the dead ;
But more indignant, we the tomb deride,
Whose bold inscription flattery sells to pride.

Kead of this Burgess — on tho stone appear
How worthy he, how virtuous, and how dear !
What wailing was there when his spirit fled.
How mourn'd his lady for her lord when dead.
And tears abundant through the town were shed ;
See ! he was lilieral, kind, religious, wise,
And free from all disgrace and all disguise ;
His sterling worth, which words cannot express,
Lives with his friends, their pride and their distress.

All this of Jacob Holmes ? for his the name ;
Ho thus kind, liberal, just, religious ? — Shame !
What is the truth ? Old Jacob married thrice ;
He dealt in coals, and av'rice was his vice ;
He ruled the Borough when liis year came on.
And some forget, and some are glad he's gone ;
For never yet with shilling could he part.
But when it left his hand it struck liis heart.

Yet, here will Love its last attentions pay.
And place memorials on these bervs of clay.
Large level stones lie fiat uiwn the grave.
And half a century's sun and tempest brave;
But many an honest tear and heartfelt sigh
Have follow'd those who now unnoticed lie ;
Of these what numbers rest on every side !
Without one token left by grief or prida ;
Their graves soon levell'd to the earth, and then
Will other hillocks rise o'er other men ;
Daily the dead on the deeay'd are thrust,
And generations foil .w, " dust to dust."

Yes ! there are real mourners — I hive seen

102 crabbe's poems.

A fair, sad girl, mikl, suffering, and serene ;

Attention (through the day) her duties claim'd.

And to be useful as resign'd she aiin'd :

Neatly she dress'd, nor vainly scem'd t' expect

Pity for grief, or pardon for neglect ;

But when her wearied parents sank to sleep.

She sought her place to meditate and weep :

Then to her mind was all the past display'd.

That faithful memory brings to sorrow's aid :

For then she thought on one regretted youth,

Her tender trust, and his unquestion'd truth ;

In evei-y place she wander'd where they'd been,

And sadly sacred held the parting scene ;

Where last for sea he took his leave — that place

With doulilo interest would she nightly trace ;

For long the courtship was, and he would say.

Each time he sail'd, — " This once, and then the day : "

Yet prudence tarried, but when last he went.

He drew from pitying love a full consent.

Happy he sail'd, and great the care she took
That he should softly sleep and smartly look ;
White was his better linen, and his check
Was niade more trim than any on the deck ;
And every comfort men at sea can know
Was hers to buy, t(i make, and to bestow.
For he to Greenland sail'd, and much she told
How he should guard against the climate's cold ;
Yet saw not danger ; dangers he'd withstood.
Nor could she trace the fever in his blood ;
His messmates smiled at flushings in his cheek,
And he too smiled, but seldom would he speak ;
For now he found the danger, felt the pain,
With grievous symptoms he co\dd not explain ;
Hope was awaken'd, as for home ho sail'd,
But quickly sank, and never more prevail'd.

He call'd his friend, and prefaced witli a sigh
A lover's message :— " Thomas, I must die :
Would I could see my Sally, and could rest
My throbbing temples on her faithful breast,
And gazing, go ! — if not, this triHe take.
And say, till death I wore it for her sake :
Yc?, I must die — blow on, sweet breeze, blow on !
Give me one look before my life be gone,
Oh ! give me that, and let me not despair.
One last fond look — and now repeat the prayer."

He had his wish, had more : I will not paint
The lovers' mooting : she behold him faint, —
With tender fears, she took a nearer view,
Her terrors doubling as her hopes withdrew ;
He tried to smile, ami, half succeeding, said,
" Yes, I must die !" and hope for ever fled.

Still, long she nursed him : tender thoughts meantime
Wore interchanged, and hopes and views sublime :
To her ho camo to die, and every day


She took some portion of the dread away ;
With him she pray'd, to him his Bible read,
Soothed the faint heart, and held the aching head :
She came with smiles the hour of pain to cheer ;
Apart she sigh'd ; alone she shed the tear :
Then, as if breaking- from a cloud, she gave
Fresh light, and gilt the prospect of the grave.

One day he lighter seem'd, and they forgot
The care, the dread, the anguish of their lot ;
They spoke with cheerfulness, and seem'd to think,
Yet said not so, — " Perhaps he will not sink ; "
A sudden brightness in his look appear' d,
A sudden vigour in his voice was heard, —
She had been reading in the Book of Prayer,
And led him forth, and placed him in his chair ;
Lively he seem'd, and spoke of all he knew.
The friendly many, and the favourite few ;
Nor one that day did he to mind recall
But she has treasured, and she loves them all :
When in her way she meets them, they appear
Peculiar people — death has made them dear.
He named his friend, but then his hand she press'd.
And fondly whisper'd — " Thou must go to rest ; "
" I go," he said : but as he spoke, she found
His hand more cold, and fluttering was the sound !
Then gazed aflnghten'd ; but she caught a last,
A dying look of love, — and all was past !

She placed a decent stone his grave above.
Neatly engraved — an offering of her love ;
For that she wrought, for that foi-sook her bed,
Awake alike to duty and the dead ;
She would have grieved, had friends presumed to spare
The least assistance — 'twas her proper care.

Here will she come, and on the grave will sit,
Folding her arms, in long abstracted fit ;
But if observer pass, will take her round.
And careless seem, for she would not be found ;
Then go again, and thus her hour employ.
While visions please her, and while woes destroy.

Forbear, sweet maid ! nor be by fancy led
To hold mysterious converse with the dead ;
For sure at length thy thoughts, thy spirit's pain.
In this sad conflict will disturb thy brain ;
All have their tasks and trials ; thine are hard.
But short the time, and glorious the reward ;
Thy patient spirit to thy duties give,
Kegard the dead, but to the living live.*

• It ha* be«n olisen-ecl to mo, that in the first part of the story I have represented this
yonng woman nii resigned and atti-nlive to her dutii'B ; from which it would Hi)i)e.'ir that
the conoludinx advice is unneceiiwiry ; Imt it tho reader will constnie the expriRtiun " to
the living live," into tli8nen»c— live entirely for them, attend to duties only which are
real, and not tlioae imposed by the imaginutlon— I shall )mvc no need to alter the Uno
which tenuiiuitcs tho story.

104 crabee's poems.


And telling me the sovereign'st tiling on eai-th
"Was pamiaceti lor an inward bruise.

Shaesfeake. — First Part 0/ IJeiiry IV., i. 3.

So gentle, yet so brisk, su wondrous sweet.
Bo lit to prattle .it a lady's feet.— Chuuchiix.

Mu'-li .ore the precious hours of youth mis.spcut.

In climbing learning's rugged, steep ascent ;

■When to the top the bold adventurer's got.

He reigns vain monarch of a b<arren spot ;

While in the v.ile of ignorance 'jelow,

FoUy and vice to rank luxuriance grow ;

Honours and wealth pour in on every side,

And proud preferment rolls her golden tide.— CHunciiiix.


The lately departed Minister of the Borough— His soothing and supplicatory Manners— His
cool and timid Affections — No praise due to such negative Vu-tue — Address to Character's
of this kind — The Vicar's Employments — His Talents and moderate Ambition— Uia
dislike ol Innovation— His mild but ineft'ectuiU Benevolence— A summary of his Cha-


Mode of pajing the Borough Minister — The Curate has no such Resources — His Learning
and Poverty — Erroneous idea of his P.oz-ent — His Feeling** a.« a Ihislianti and Father— The
dutiful Regard of his nxuiierous Family — His Pleasure as a Writer — huw int^'rnlpt^d —
No Resource in the Press — Vulgar Insult — His Account of a Liteniry Society, and a Fund
for the Relief of indigent Authors, &c.

Where ends our cli.ancel in a vaulted space,
Sleep the departed vicars of the place ;
Of most, all mention, memory, thought, are past —
But take a slight memorial of the last.

To what famed college we our \-icar owe,
To what fair county, let historians show :
Few now remember when the mild young man,
Ruddy and fair, his Sunday task began ;
Few live to speak of that soft soothing look
He cast around, as he prepared his book ;
It was a kind of supplicating smile.
But nothing hopeless of applause the while ;
Anil when he finish'd, his corrected pride
F'elt the desert, and yet the praise denied.
Thus he his race began, and to the end
His constant care was, no man to oftend ;
No haughty vii-tues stirr'd his peaceful mind ;
Nor urged the priest to lca^■e the flock behind ;
He was his Master's soldier, but not one
To lead an army of liis martyrs on :
Fear was his ruling passion ; yet was love,
Of timid kind, once known his lioart to move ;
It led his patient spirit where it paid
Its languid oflcrings to a listening maid :
She, with her widow'd mother, heard liim speak.
And sought awhile to find what he would seek :


Smiling he came, lie smiled when he withdrew,
And paid the same attention to the two ;
Meeting and parting without joy or pain,
lie seem'd to come that he might go again.

The wondering girl, no prude, but something nice,
At length was chill'd by his unmelting ice ;
She found her tortoise held such sluggish pace.
That she must turn and meet him in the chase :
This not approving, she withdrew, till one
Came who appear'd with livelier hope to run ;
Who sought a readier way the heart to move,
Than by faint dalliance of unfixing love.

Accuse me not that I approving paint
Impatient hope or love without restraint ;
Or think the jjassions, a tumultuous throng,
Strong as they are, ungovernably strong :
But is the laurel to the soldier due,
Who, cautious, comes not into danger's view ?
What worth has Virtue by Desire untried,
When Nature's self enlists on Duty's side (

The married dame in vain assail'd the truth
And guarded bosom of the Hebrew youth ;
But with the daughter of the priest of On
The love was lawlul, and the guard was gone ;
But Joseph's fame had lessen'd in our view,
Had he, refusing, fled the maiden too.

Yet our good priest to Joseph's praise aspired,
At once rejecting what his heart desired ;
" T am escaped," he said, when none pursued ;
When none attack'd him, " I am unsubdued ;"
" Oh pleasing pangs of love ! " he sang again.
Cold to the jo}', and stranger to the pain.
E'en in his age would he address the young,
" I, too, have felt these fires, and they are strong ;"
But from the time he left his favourite maid.
To ancient tcmales his devoirs were paid :
And still they miss him after morning prayer ;
Nor yet successor fills the vicar's chair.
Where kindred spirits in his praise agree,
A happy few, as mild and cool as he ;
The easy I'ollowers in the female train,
Led witnout love, and captives without chain.

Ye lilies male ! think (as your tea you siji,
While the town small-talk flows from lip to lip ;
Intrigues half-gather'd, conversation-scraps,
Kitchen cabals, and nursery mishaps).
If the vast world may not some scene produce,
Some state where your small talents might have use ;
Within seraglios you might harmless move,
'Mid ranks of beauty, and in haunts of love ;
There from too daring man the treasures guard,
An easy duty, and its own reward ;
Nature's soft sulistitutcs, you there might save
From crime the tyrant, and from wrong the slave.

106 crabbe's poems.

But let applause be dealt in all we maj',
Our priest was cheerful, and in season gay ;
His frequent visits seldom fail'd to please ;
Easy himself, he sought his neighbour's ease :
To a small garden with delight he came.
And gave successive flowers a summer's fame ;
These he presented, with a grace his own,
To his fair friends, and made their beauties known.
Not without moral compliment ; how they
" Like flowers were sweet, and must like flowers decay.

Simple he was, and loved the simple truth,
Yet had some usehil cunning from his youth ;
A cunning never to dishonour lent,
And rather for defence than conquest meant ;
'Twas fear of power, with some desire to rise,
But not enough to make him enemies ;
He ever aim'd to please ; and to offend
Was ever cautious ; for he sought a friend ;
Yet for the friendship never much would pay,
Content to bow, be silent, and obey,
And by a soothing suff'rance find his way.

Fiddling and fishing were his arts : at times
He alter'd sermons, and he aim'd at rhymes ;
And his fair friends, not yet intent on cards,
Oft he amused with riddles and charades.

Mild were his doctrines, and not one discourse
Bvit gain'd in softness what it lost in force :
Kind his opinions ; he would not receive
An ill report, nor evil act believe ;
"If true, 'twas wrong ; but blemish great or small
Have all mankind ; yea, sinners are we all."

If ever fretful thought disturb'd his breast,
If aught of gloom that cheerful mind oppress' d,
It sprang from innovation ; it was then
He spake of mischief made by restless men ;
Not by new doctrines : never in his life
Would he attend to controversial strife ;
For sects he cared not ; ' ' They are not of us,
Nor need we, brethren, their concerns discuss ;
But 'tis the change, the schism at homo I fool ;
Ills few perceive, and none have skill to heal :
Not at the altar our young brethren read
(Facing their flock) the Decalogue and Creed ;
But at their duty, in their desks they stand,
With naked surplice, lacking hood and band :
Churches are now of holy song bereft.
And half our ancient customs clianged or left ;
Few sprigs of ivy are at Christmas seen.
Nor crimson berry tips the holly's green ;
Mistaken choirs refuse the soletnn strain
Ot ancient Stcrnhuld, wliich from ours amain
Comes flying forth from aisle to aisle about,
Sweet hnks of harmony, and long drawn out."

These were to him essentials ; all things new


lie (leeinVl superfluous, useless, or untrue :

To all beside iiidiflereut, easy, cold.

Here the fire kindled, and the woe was told.

Habit with him was all the test of truth :
" It must be right ; I've doue it from my youth,"
Questions he answer'd in as brief a way :
" It must be wrong- — it was of yesterday." *

Though mild benevolence our priest possess'd,
'Twas but by wishes or by words express'd.
Circles in water, as they wider flow.
The less conspicuous in their progress grow,
And when at last they touch upon the shore,
Distinction ceases, and they're view'd no more.
His love, like that last circle, all embraced.
But with cflect that never could be traced.

Now rests our vicar. They who knew him best.
Proclaim his life t' have been entirely rest ;
Free from all evils which disturb his mind
Whom studies vex and controversies blind.

The rich approved,— of them in awe he stood ;
The poor admired,— they all believed him good ;
The old and serious of his habits spoke ;
The frank and youthful loved his pleasant joke ;
Mothers approved a sate contented guest,
And daughters one who back'd each small request ;
In him his flock found nothing to condemn ;
Him sectaries liked,— he never troubled them :
No triflcsfail'd his yielding mind to please,
And all his passions sank in early ease ;
Nor one so old has left this world of sin.
More like the being that he enter'd in.


Ask you what lands our Pastor tithes ? — Alas !

But few our acres, and but short our grass :

In some fat pastures of the rich indeed,

May roll the single cow or favourite steed ; ,

Who, stable-fed, is here for pleasure seen.

His sleek sides bathing in the dewy green ;

But these, our hilly heath and common wi'lo

Yield a slight portion for the p.arish guide ;

No crops luxuriant in our borders stand.

For here wo jilough the ocean, not the land ;

Still reason wills that we our Pastor pay,

And custom ilocs it on a certain day.

Much is the duty, small the legal due.

And this with gratcfid minds wo keep in view ;

Each makes his off'ring, some by habit led,

Some by the thought that ;ill men nuist be fed ;

Duty and love, and piety and pride.

Have each their force, nnd for the Priest provide.

Not thus our Curate one whom all btlievo
Pious and just, and for whose fate they grieve ;

108 crabbe's poems.

All see him poor, but e'en llie vulgar know
He merits love, and their respect bestow.
A man so loarn'd you shall but seldom see.
Nor one so honour' d, so aggrieved as he ; —
Not grieved by j-ears alone ; though his appear
» Dark and more dark ; severer on severe :
Not in his need, — and j-et we all must grant
How painful 'tis for feeling Age to want :
Nor in his body's suiferings ; yet we know
Where time has plough' d, there Misers' loves to sow ;
But in the wearied mind, that all in vain
Wars with distress, and struggles with its pain.

His father saw his powers — " I'll give," quoth he,
" My first-born learning ; 'twill a portion be :"
Unhappy gift ! a portion for a son !
But all he had. He learn'd, and was undone !

Better, apprenticed to an humble trade,
Had he the cassock for the priesthood made,
Or thrown the shuttle, or the saddle shaped.
And all these pangs of feeling souls escaped.
He once had hope — Hope, ardent, lively, light ;
His feelings pleasant, and his prospects bright :
Eager of fame, he read, he thought, he wrote,
Weigh'd the Greek page, and added note on note.
At morn, at evening, at his work was he,
And dream'd what his Euripides would be.

Then care began : — he loved, ho woo'd, he wed ;
Hope cheer'd him stUl, and Hymen bless'd his bed—
A curate's bed ! then came the woful j-ears,
The husband's terrors, and the father's tears ;
A wife grown feeble, mourning, pining, vex'd
With wants and woes— by daily cares perplex'd ;
No more a help, a smiling, soothing aid.
But boding, drooping, sickly, and afraid.

A kind phj^sician, and without a fee.
Gave his opinion — " Send her to the sea."
" Alas ! " the good man answer' d, " can [ send
A friendless woman ? Can I find a friend '!
No ; I must with her, in her need, repair
To that new place ; the poor lie everywhere ;
Some priest will pay me for my pious pains." —
He said, he came, and liere he yet remains.

Behold his dwelling ! this poor hut he hires,
Where he from view, though not from want, retires;
Where four fair daughters, and five sorrowing sons,
Partake his sufferings, and dismiss his duns ;
All join their efforts, and in patience learn
To want the comforts they aspii-e to earn ;
For the sick mother something thoj-'d obtain.
To soothe her grief and mitigate her pain ;
For the sad fatlicr something they'd procure
To case the burden they themselves endure.

Virtues like these at once delight and press
On the fond father with a proud distress ;


On all around he looks with care and love,
Giieved to behold, but happy to approve.

Then from his care, his love, his grief, he steals,
And by himself an author's pleasure feels :
Each line detains him ; ho omits not one.
And all the sorrows ol his state are gone. —
Alas ! even then, in that delicious hour,
He feels his fortune, and laments its power.

Some tradesman's bill his wandering eyes engage,
Some scrawl for payment thrust 'twixt page and page ;
Some bold, loud rapping at his humlile door.
Some surly message he has hoard before,
Awake, alarm, and tell him he is poor.
An angry dealer, vulgar, rich, and proud.
Thinks of his bill, and, passing, raps aloud ;
The elder daughter meekly makes him way —
" I want my money, and I cannot stay :
My mill is stopp'd ; what, miss ! I cannot grind ;
Go tell your father he must raise the wind : "
Still trembling, troubled, the dejected maid
Says, " Sir — my father ! " — and then stops afraid :
E'en his hard heart is soften'd, anrl he hears
Her voice with pity ; he respects her tears ;
His stubborn features half admit a smile.
And his tone softens — " Well ! I'll wait awhile."

Pity ! a man so good, so mild, so meek,
At such an age, should have his bread to seek ;
And all those rude and fierce attacks to dread.
That arc more harrowing than the want of bread ;
Ah ! who .shall whisper to that misery peace,
And say that want and insolence shall cense ?

" But why not publish ? " Those who know too well.
Dealers in Greek, are fearful 'twill not sell ;
Then he himself is timid, troubled, slow.
Nor likes his labours nor his griels to show ;
The hope of fame may in his heart have place.
But he has dread and horror of disgrace ;
Nor has lie that confiding, easy way,
That might his learning and himself display ;
But to his work he from the world retreats,
And frets and gluiies o'er the favourite sheets.

But see, the man himself! and sure I trace
Signs of nev*r jo}' exulting in that face
O'er care that sleeps — we err, or we discern
Life in thy looks — the reason may wo learn ?

" Yes," he replied, " I'm happy, I confess,
To learn that some are pleased with happiness
Which otliers feel — there arc who now combine
The worthiest natures in the best design.
To aid the lettcr'd poor, and soothe such ills as mine :
We who more keenly feel the world's contempt.
And from its miseries are the least exempt ;
Now hope sh.'ill whisper to the woun<led breast
And grief, in soothing expectation, rest.

110 crabbe's rOEMS.

"Yes, I am taught that men who think, who feel,
Unite the pains of thoug-htful men to heal ;
Not with disdainful pride, whose bounties make
The needy curse the benefits they take ;
Not with the idle vanity that knows
Only a selfish joj' when it bestows ;
Not with o'erbearing wealth, that, in disdain,
Hurls the superfluous bliss at groaning pain ;
But these are men who j-ield such blest relief.
That with the grievance they destroy the grief;
Their timely aid the need}' sufferers find,
Their generous manner soothes the suffering mind ;
Theirs is a gracious bountj', form'd to raise
Him whom it aids ; their charity is jjraise ;
A common bount}'^ niay relieve distress,
But whom the vulgar succour they oppress ;
This though a favour is an honour too,
Though Mercy's duty, yet 'tis Merit's due ;
When our relief from such resources rise.
All painful sense of obligation dies ;
And grateful feelings in the bosom wake,
For 'tis their offerings, not their alms we take.

"Long may these founts of Charity remain,
And never shrink, but to be fill'd again ;
True, to the author they are now confined.
To him who gave the treasure of his mind.
His time, his liealth, — and thankless found mankind :
But there is hope that from these founts may flow
A side-way stream, and equal good bestow ;
Good that may reach us, whom the day's distress
Keeps from the fame and perils of the press ;
Whom study beckons from the ills of life.
And they from study ; melancholy strife !
Who then can saj% taut bounty now so free.
And so diffused, may find its way to me ?

"Yes ! I may see my decent table yet
Cheer'd with the meal that adds not to my debt ;
May talk of th)se to whom so much wo owe,
And guess their names whom yet we may not know ;

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 13 of 49)