George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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Blest, wo shall say, are those who thus can give,
And next who thus upon the bounty live ;
Then shall 1 close with thanks my humble meal,
iVnd feci so well— Oh, God ! how I shall ieel ! "



But cast your eyes again,

And view tUose errors which new sects maintAin,

Or which of old disturbed the Cliurch's peacelul reign :

And we can point e;ieli i)eriod of the time

M'hcn they began, and who begat the crime ;

Can calculate how long tli" eclipse endured ;

Who interposed, what digits were obscured ;

Of all which are already pjLss'd away,

"We knew the rise, the progress and decay.

Dr\t»en. — JJind and Panther, Part II.

Oh ! said the Hind, how many sons have you
M'ho call you mother, whom you never knew ?
But most of them who that relation plead.
Are such ungracious youths as wish you dead ;
They gape at rich revenues which you hold,
^ And fain would nibble at your grandame gold.

JItnd and Panther.


re numerous and successive — General effect of false Zeal — Deists — Fanatical Idea of
Church lleformers — The Church of Rome— Baptists — Swedenborguvns — Universalists—

[ethodists of two kinds ; Calvinistic and Amiinian.

he Preaching of a Cahnnistic Enthusiast — His contempt of Learnings Dislike to sound
Morality : why — Ills Idea of Conversion — His Success and Pretensions to Hxmiility.
he Armini.'in Teacher of the older Flock— Their Notions of the operations and i)OWer of
Satan— Doscriiition of his Devices — Their opinion of regular Ministers— Comparison of
these with the Preacher himself — A Rebuke to his Heard's ; introduces a deseriptiou of
Uie i>owerful Effects of the Word in the early and awakening Days ot Methodism.

"Sects in Religion ?" — Yes of every race
Wo nm-se some jiortion in our fovour'd place ;
Not one wann preacher of one growing sect
Can say our Borough treats him with neglect ;
Frequent as fashions they with us appear,
And you might ask, "how think we for the year?"
They come to us as riders in a trade,
And with much ,'irt exhibit and persuade.

Minds are for Sects of various kinds decreed.
As diff'rent soils aro form'd for difl'ront seed ;
Some when converted sigh in sore amaze.
And some are wrapt in joy's ecstatic blaze ;
Others again will change to each extreme.
The}' know not why — as hiu'ricd in a dream j
Unstable, they, like water, take all forms,
Aro nuick and stagnant ; have their calms and storms ;
High on the hills, they in the sunbeams glow.
Then muddily they move debased and slow ;
Or cold and frozen rest, and neither rise nor flow.

Yet none the cool and prudent teacher prize.
On him thej' doto who wakes their ecstasies ;
With pas.sions ready primed such guide they meet,
And wai-m and kindle with th' imparted heat ;
'Ti.s ho who wakes the nameless strong desire,
The melting rapture and the glowing fire ;
'Tis he wlio pierces deep the tortured breast,

112 craebe's poems.

And stirs the teiTors never more to rest.

Opposed to these, we have a prouder kind,
Rash without heat, and without raptures blind ;
These our Glad Tidinf/x unconcern'd peruse,
Search without awe, and without fear refuse ;
The truths, the blessings, found in Sacred Writ,
Call forth their spleen, and exercise their wit ;
Respect from these, nor saints nor martyrs gain.
The zeal they scorn, and they deride the pain :
And take their transient, cool, contemptuous \-iew,
Of that which must be tried, and doubtless mai/ he trup.

Friends of our faith we have, whom doubts like these.
And keen remarks, and bold objections please ;
They grant such doubts have weaker minds oppress'd,
Till sound conviction gave the troubled rest.

" But still," they cry, "let none their censures spare,
They but confirm the glorious hopes we share ;
From doubt, disdain, derision, scorn and lies.
With five-fold triumph sacred Truth shall rise."

Yes ! I allow, so Truth shall stand at last,
And gain fresh glory by the conflict past :—
As Solvvaj' Moss (a barren mass and cold,
Death to the seed, and poison to the fold).
The smiling plain and fertile vale o'erlaid.
Choked the green sod, and kill'd the springing blade ;
That, changed by culture, may in time be seen
Enrich'd by golden grain and pasture green ;
And these fair acres rented and enjoy'd
May those excel by Solway-Moss destroy 'd.*
Still must have mourn'd the tenant of the day.
For hopes destroy'd, and harvests swept away ;
To him the gain of future years unknown,
The instant grief and sufl'oring were his own.
So must I grieve for many a wounded heart,
Chill'd hy those doubts which bolder minds impart ;
Truth in the end shall shine divinely clear.
But sad the darkness till those times appear ;
Contests for truth, as wars for freedom, yield
Gloiy and joy to those who gain the field :
But still the Christian must in pity sigh
For all who suffer, and uncertain die.

Here are, who all the Church maintains approve,
But yet the Church herself they will not love;
In angry speech, they blame the carnal tie
Which pure Religion lost her spirit by ;
What time from prisons, flames, and tortures led,
She slumbcr'd careless in a royal bed ;
To make, they add, the Church's glory shine,
Should Diocletian reign, not Constantine.

"In pomp," they cr}-, "is England's Chiu'ch array'd,

♦ Solway Moss, bordering on Scotland. It swellfd, owing to hea\T rains ; and ujiwArdl
of 400 licrt-p of it rose to swell a height above the level of the grouiul. tha* at last it roUeil^
forward like a torreni, and continued ita course alwve a mile, Bweei»ing along with Ifl
houses trecH, and all in it« way. It covered (iOO acres at Netlurby, and destroj-ed AboQ||
thirty small villages, Nov, 13, 1771.


Her cool reformere wrought like men afraid ;
We would have pull'd her gorgeous temples do'mi.
And spurii'd her mitre, and defiled her gown :
We would have trodden low both bench and stall,
Nor left a tithe remaining, great or small."

Let us be serious — Should such trials come,
Are they themselves prepared for martyi'dom ?
It seems to us that our reformers knew
Th' important work they undertook to do ;
An equal priesthood they were loth to tr3%
Lest zeal and care should with ambition die ;
To them it seem'd that, take the tenth away,
Yet priests must eat, and j'ou must feed or pay :
Would they indeed, who hold such pay in scorn.
Put on the muzzle when they tread the corn ?
Would they, all gratis, watch and tend the fold,
Nor take one fleece to keep them from the cold ?

Men are not e(|ua), and 'tis meet and right
That robes and titles our respect excite ;
Order requires it ; 'tis by vulgar pride
That such regard is censured and denied ;
Or by that false enthusiastic zeal,
That thinks the Spirit will the priest reveal.
And show to all men, by their powerful speech,
Who are appointed and inspired to teach :
Alas ! could we the dangerous rule believe.
Whom for their teacher should the crowd receive?
Since all the varying kinds demand respect,
All press you on to join their chosen sect,
Although but in this single point agreed,
"Desert your churches, and adopt our creed."

We know full well how much our forms offend
The burthen'd Papist and tlie simple Friend :
Him, who new robes for every service takes,
And who in drab and beaver sighs and shakes ;
He on the priest, whom hood and band adorn.
Looks with the sleepy ej'e of silent scorn ;
But him I would not for my h-iond and guide.
Who views such things with sjileen, or wears with pride.

See ne.xt our several sects, — but first behold
The Church of Itome, who here is poor and old :
Use not triumphant raill'ry, or, at least.
Let not thy mother be a whore and beast ;
Great was her jiride indeed in ancient times.
Yet shall wo think of nothing but her crimes?
Exalted high above all earthlj' things.
She placed her foot upon the neck ot kings :
But some have deeply since avenged the crown.
And tlirown lier glory and her honours down ;
Nor neck nor ear can she of kings command.
Nor place a foot upon her own fair land.

Among her sons, with us a quiet few,
Obscure themselves, her ancient state review,
And fond and melancholy glances cast
" I

114 crabbe's poems.

On power insulted, and on triumph past :

They look, they can but look, with many a sigh,

On sacred buildings doom'd in dust to lie ;

" On seats," they tell, " where priests 'mid tapers dim

Breathed the warm prayer, or tuned the midnight hymn ;

Where trembling penitents their guilt confess' d.

Where want had succour, and contrition rest ;

There weary men from trouble found relief,

There men in sorrow lound repose from grief.

To scenes like these the fainting soul retired ;

Revenge and anger in these cells expired ;

By Pity soothed, Remorse lost half her iears,

And soften'd Pride dropp'd penitential tears.

"Then convent walls and nunnery spires arose.
In pleasant spots which monk or abbot chose ;
When counts and barons saints devoted fed,
And making cheap exchange, had prayer for bread.

" Now all is lost, the earth where abbeys stood
Is layman's land, the glebe, the stream, the wood :
His oxen low where monks retired to eat,
His covi's repose upon the prior's seat :
And wanton doves within the cloisters bill.
Where the chaste votary warr'd with wanton will."
Such is the change they mo\irn, but they restrain
The rage of grief, and i)assively complain.

We've Baptists old an.l new ; forliear to ask
What the distinction — I decline the task ;
This 1 perceive, that when a sect grows old.
Converts are tew, and the converted cold :
First comes the hotbed heat, and while it glows,
The plants spring up, and each with vigour grows :
Thi;n comes the cooler day. and tliough awhile
The venlure prospers and the blossoms smile.
Yet poor the truit, and iorni'd by long delay,
Nor will the profits for the culture pay ;
The skilful gard'iier then no longer stops,
But turns to other beds for bearing crops.

Some Swcdenborgians in our streets are found,
Those wanderinu: walkers on enchanted ground.
Who in our world can other worlds survey.
And speak with spii-its, though confined in c'.ay :
Oi Bible mysteries they the keys possess,
Assured themselves, where wiser men but guess :
'Tis theirs to see ai-ound, about, above, —
How sjiirits mingle thoughts, and angels move ;
Those whom our grosser views from us exclude.
To them appear — a heavenly multitude ;
While the dark sayings, scal'd to men like us.
Their piiests interpret, and their flocks discuss.

But while these gifted men, a favour'd fold.
New powers exhibit and now worlds behold ;
Is there not danger lest their minds confoimd
The pure above them with the irross around?
May not these riiaetous, who thus ooutrive


'Twixt heaven above and earth beneath to drive,
When from their flaming chariots they descend.
The worlds they visit in their fancies blend ?
Alas ! too sure on both they bring disgrace.
Their earth is crazy, and their heaven is base.

We have, it seems, who treat, and doubtless well.
Of a chastising not awarding hell ;
Who are assured that an offended God
Will cease to use the thunder and tlie rod :
A soul on earth, by crime and folly stain'd,
When here corrected has improvement gain'd ;
In other state still more improved to grow.
And nobler powers in happier world to know ;
New strength to use in each divine employ,
And more enjoying, looking to more joy.

A pleasing vision ! could we thus be sure
Polluted souls would be at length so pure ;
The view is happy, we may think it just,
It may be true — hut who shall add, it must ?
To the plain words and sense of Sacred Writ,
With all my heart I reverently submit ;
But where it leaves me doubtful, I'm afraid
To call conjecture to my reason's aid ;
Thy thoughts, thy ways, great God ! are not as mine,
And to thy mercy I my soul resign.

Jews ai-e with us, but far unlike to those.
Who, led by David, warr'd with Israers foes ;
Unlike to those whom his imperial son
Taught truths divine — the Preacher Solomon :
Nor war nor wisdom yield our Jews delight ;
They will not study, and they dare not tight.

These are, with us, a slavish, knavish crew.
Shame and dishonour to the name of Jew ;
The poorest masters of the meanest arts,
With cunning heads, and cold and cautious hearts ;
They grope their dirty way to petty gains.
While poorly paid for their nefnriovis pains.

Amazing race ! de[)rive(l of land and laws,
A general language and a p\iblic cause ;
With a religion none can now obey,
With a reproacli that none can take away :
A people SI ill, whoso common ties arc gone ;
Who, mix'd with every race, are lost in ncjnc.

What said their pro|)hot ?^" Shouldst thou disobey,
The Lord shall take thee from thy land away;
Thou shalt a by-word and a proverb be,
And all shall wonder at thy woes and thee ;
Daughter and son, shalt thou, while captive, have,
And see them made the bond-maid and the slave ;
He, whom thou leav'st, the Lord thy God, shall bring
War to thy coimtry on an eagle-wing.
A people strong and droadliil to boliold,
Stern to the young, remorseless to the old ;
Masters whose speech thou canst not uudersLaud,
I 2

116 crabbe's poems.

By crviel sifxiis shall give the harsh command :
Doubtful of life shalt thou by night, by day.
For grief, and dread, and trouble pine away ;
Thy evening wish, — Would God I saw the sun ;
Thy morning sigh,— Would God the day were done !
Thus shalt thou suffer, and to distant times
Kegret thy misery, and lament thy crimes."*

A part there are, whom doubtless man might trust.
Worthy as wealthy, pure, religious, just ;
They who with patience, yet with rapture, look
On the strong promise of the Sacred Book ;
As unlulfill'd th' endearing words they view.
And blind to truth, yet own their prophets true ;
Well pleased they look for Sion's coming state.
Nor think of Julian's boast and Julian's fate.f

More might I add : I might describe the flocks
Made by seceders fi-om the ancient stocks ;
Those vvho will not to any guide submit,
Kor find one creed to their conceptions fit —
Each sect, they judge, in something goes astray,
And every church has lost the certain way !
Then lor "themselves they carve out creed and laws,
And weigh their atoms, and divide their straws.

A sect remains, which, though divided long
In hostile parties, b(;th are fierce and strong.
And into each enlists a warm and zealous throng.
Soon as they rose in fame, the strife arose,
The Calvinistic these, th' Arminian those ;
With Wesley some remain'd, the remnant Whitfield chose.
Now vario\is leaders both the parties take.
And the divided hosts their new divisions make.

See yonder preacher to his people pass !
Borne up and swell'd by tabernacle-gas :
Much he discourses, and of various points,
All imconnected, void of limbs and joints ;
He rails, persuades, explains, and moves the will
By fierce bold words, and strong mechanic skill.

"That Gospel, Paul with zeal and love maintain' d.
To others lost, to you is now explain'd ;
No worldly learning can these points discuss.
Books teach them not as they are taught to us.
Illiterate call us ! — let their. wisest man
Draw forth his thousands as your teacher can :
They give their moral precepts : so they say,
Did Epictctus once, and Seneca ;
One was a slave, and slaves we all must be.
Until the Si)irit comes and sets us free,
Yet hear you nothing from such man but works ;
They make the Christian service like the Turks'.

"Hark to the Churchman : day by day he cries,
'Children of men, be virtuous and bo wise :

• Sre the Book of Deuteronomy, chap, xxvil., and vnrinu.i other pIncPB.
\ HiB l.'Kist, thiit he would reliuiirt the Temple of Jen^^■alenl ; his fate (whatever be-
COIUC'8 ol the luiiaculous part uf the stui-j), that lie died boloru the luuudatiou was laid.


Seek patience, justice, temp'rance, meekness, trutb ;
In age be courteous, be sedate in youth.' —
So they advise, and when such things be read.
How can we wonder that their tiocks are dead ?
The heathens wrote of virtue : they could dwell
On such light points : in them it might be well ;
Thoy might for virtue strive ; but 1 maintain.
Our strife for virtue would be proud and vain.
When Samson carried Gaza's gates so far,
Lack'd he a helping hand to bear the bar ?
Thus the most virtuous must in bondage groan :
Samson is grace, and carries all alone.*

" Hear you not priests their feeble spirits spend
In bidding sinners turn to God, and mend ;
To check their passions and to walk aright.
To run the race, and fight the glorious fight ?
Nay more — to praj', to stud}', to improve.
To grow in goodness, to advance in love ?

"Oh, babes and sucklings ! dull ot heart and slow !
Can grace be gradual ? Can conversion grow I
The work is done by instantaneous call ;
Converts at once are made, or not at all ;
Nothing is left to grow, reform, amend.
The first emotion is the movement's end :
If once forgiven, debt can be no more ;
If once adopted, will the heir be poor ?
The man who gains the twenty-thousand prize.
Does he by little and by little rise ?
There can no fortime for the soul be made.
By peddling cares and savings in her trade.

" Why are our sins forgiven '< — priests ropl}',
— ' Because by faith on mercy we rely ;
Because, believing, we repent and pray.'
Is this their doctrine?— then they go astray ;
We're pardon'd neither for belief nor deed.
For luith nor practice, principle nor creed ;
Nor for our sorrow for our former sin.
Nor for our fears when better thoughts begin ;
Nor prayers nor i)euance in the cause avail,
All stnmg remorse, all soft contrition fail :
It is the catU till that proclaims us free,
In darkness, doubt, and bondage we must be ;
Till that assures us, we've in vain endured,
And all Ls over when we're once assured.

" This is conversion : — first there comes a cry
Which utters, ' Sinner, thou'rt condemn'd to die ;'
Then the struck soul to every aid repairs,
To church and altar, ministers and prayers ;
In vain she strives, — involved, engult'd in sin,
She looks for hell, and seems already in :
When in this travail, the New Birth comes on,

• Whoever has att«neli'il to the linoks or preachinu of thMC enthiiniiwtlo people, ron«t
have olnurvcd much ol tliis kind of absurd and looliuh application o< Scripture history ; it
weiuB tu them as r«fuoniu^.

118 crabbe's poems.

And in an instant every pang is gone ;

The mighty work is done without our pains, —

Claim but a part, and unt a part remains.

" All this e.xperience tells the soul, and yet
These moral men tlieir pence and forthings set
Against the terrors of the countless debt ;
But such compounders, when they come to jail.
Will find that virtues never serve as bail.

" So much to duties: now to learning look,
And see their priesthood piling book on book ;
Yea, books of infidels, we're told, and play.s,
Put out by heathens in the wink'd-on days ;
The very letters are of crooked kind,
And show the strange perverseness of their mind.
Have I this learning ? When the Lord would speak.
Think ye he needs the Latin or the Greek ?
And lo ! with all their learning, when they rise
To preach, in view the ready sermon lies ;
Some low-prized stuft' they purchased at the stalls.
And more like Seneca's than mine or Paul's :
Children of bondage, how should they explain
The Spirit's freedom, while they wear a chain ?
They study words, tor meanings grow perplex'd.
And slowly hunt for truth from text to text.
Through Greek and Hebrew : — we the meaning seek
Of that within, who every tongue can speak :
This all can witness ; yet the more I know,
The more a meek and humble mind I show.

" No ; let the Pope, the high and mighty priest.
Lord to the poor and servant to the beast ;
Let bishops, deans, and prebendaries swell
With pride and fatness till their hearts rebel :
I'm meek and modest : — if I could bo proud,
This crowded meeting — lo I th' amazing crowd !
Your mute attention, and your meek respect.
My spirit's fervour, and my words' effect.
Might stir th' unguarded soul ; and oft to me
The tempter speaks, whom I compel to flee ; .
He goes in fear, for he my force has tried, —
Such is my power ! hut can you call it pride ?

" No, lellow-pilgrims ; of the things I've shown
T might be proud, wore they indeed my own !
But they are lent : and well you know the source
Of all that's mine, and must confide of course :
Mine ! no, 1 err ; 'tis but consign'd to mo,
And I am nought but steward and trustee."

Fau other doctrines yon Arminian speaks ;

" Seek grace," ho cries, " for ho shidl find who seeks.*

This is the ancient stock by Wesley led ;

They the pure body, he the reverend head :

All innovation they with dread decline.

Their John the elder was the John divine.

Hence, still their moving prayer, the melting hymn.


The varied accent, and the active limb ;

Hence that implicit faith in Satan's might,

And their own matchless prowess in the fight.

In every act they see that lurking foe,

Let loose awhile, about the world to go ;

A dragon flying round the earth, to kill

The heavenly hope, and prompt the carnal will ;

Whom sainted kuights attack in sinners' cause,

And force the wounded victim Irom his paws ;

Who but for them would man's whole race subdue,

For not a hireling will the foe pursue.

" Show me one Churchman who will rise and pray
Through half the night, though lab'ring all the day,
Always abounding — show me him, I say : " —
Thus cries the preacher, and he adds, " Their sheep
Satan devours at leisure as they sleep.
Not so with us ; we drive him from the fold.
For ever barking and for ever bold :
While they securely slumber, all his schemes
Take full eftcct, — the devil never dreams :
Watchful and changelul through the world he goes.
And lew can trace this deadliest of their foes ;
But I detect, and at his work surprise
The subtle serpent under all disguise.

" Thus to man's soul the foe of souls will speak,
— ' A saint elect, you can have nought to seek ;
Why all this labour in so plain a case.
Such care to run, when certain of the race ? '
All this he urges to the carnal will.
He knows you'ie slothful, and would have you still :
Bo this your answer, — ' Satan, I will keep
Still on the watch till you are laid asleep.
Tlius too the Chrisfian's progress he'll retard : —
'The gates of mercy are for ever barr'd ;
And that with bolts so driven and so stout,
Ten thousand workmen cannot wrench them out.'
To this deceit you have but one reply, —
Give to the Father of all lies the lie.

" A sister's weakness he'll by fits surprise,
His her wild laughter, his her piteous cries ;
And should a pastor at her side attend.
He'll use her organs to abuse her friend :
These are possessions — unbelieving wits
Impute them all to nature : ' They're her fits.
Caused by commotions in the nerves and brains ;'—•
Vain talk ! but they'll be fittefl for their pains.

"These are in part the ills the foe has wrought,
And these the Churchman thinks not worth his thought ;
They bid the troubled try for peace and rest,
Compose their minds and he no more distrcss'd ;
As well might they command the [lassive shore
To keep secure, and bo o'erliow'd no more ;
To the wrong subject is their skill .■ip|)lied, —
To act like workmen, they should stem the tide.

120 crabbe's poems.

" These are the Church-phj'sicians : they are paid
With noble fees for their advice and aid ;
Yet know they not the inward pulse to fee].
To ease the anguish, or the wound to heal.
With the sick sinner, thus their work begins :
' Do you repent you of your former sins ?
Will you amend if you revive and live ?
And, pardon seeking, will you pardon give ?
Have you belief in what your Lord has done,
And are you thankful? — all is well, my son.'

"A way far different ours— we thus surprise
A soul with questions, and demand replies :
' How dropp'd you first,' I ask, ' the legal yoke ?
What the first word the living witness spoke ?
Perceived you thunders roar and lightnings shine,
And tempests gathering ere the Birth divine ?
Did fire, and storm, and earthquake all appear
Before that still small voice, W/<at dost Ihou here t
Hast thou by day and night, and soon and late,
Waited and watch'd before Admission-gate ;
And so a pilgrim and a soldier pass'd
To Sion's hill through battle and through blast ?
Then in thy way didst thou thy foe attack.
And mad'st thou proud Apollyon turn his back ?'

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 14 of 49)