George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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" Heart-searching things are these, and shake the mind.
Yea, like the rustling of a mighty wind.

" Thus would I ask : 'Nay, let me question now.
How sink my sayings in your bosoms — how ?
Feel you a quickening ? — drops the subject deep ?
Stupid and stony, no ! you're all asleep ;
Listless and lazy, waiting for a close.
As if at church, ; — do I allow repose ?
Am I a legal minister ? Do I,
With form or rubric, rule or rite comply ?
Then whence this quiet, tell me, I beseech ?
One might believe, you heard your rector preach.
Or his assistant dreamer : — Oh ! return.
Ye times of burning, when the heart would bum ;
Now hearts are ice, and you, my freezing fold.
Have spirits sunk and sad, and bosoms stony cold.

" Oh ! now again for those prevailing powers.
Which once began this mighty work ot ours ;
When the wide field, God's temple, was the place.
And birds flow by to catch a breath of grace ;
When 'mid his timid friends and threat'ning iocs,
Ovu- zealous chief as Paul at Athens rose :
When with internal spite and knotty clubs
The Ill-One arm'd his scoundrels and his scrubs ;
And there were flying all arountl the sfrnt
Brands at the preacher, but they touch'd him not :
Stakes brought to smite him, threaten')! in his cause,
And tongues attuned to curses, roar'd ajiplause :
Louder and louder gre\v his awful tones,
Sobbing and sighs were heard, and rueful groans ;



THE BOROUGH — THE ELECTION. 121

Soft women fainted, prouder man express'd
Wonder and woe, and butchers smote the breast ;
Eyes wept, ears tingled ; stiff'ning on each head
The hair drew back, and Satan howl'd and fled.

" In that soft season when the gentle breeze
Rises all round, and swells by slow degrees ;
Till tempests gather, when through all the sky
The thunders rattle, and the lightnings fly ;
When rain in torrents wood and vale detorm,
And all is horror, hurricane, and storm !

" So, when the preacher in that glorious time, _
Than clouds more melting, more than storm sublime,
Dropp'd the new Word, there came a charm around ;
Tremors and terrors rose upon the sound ;
The stubborn spirits by his force he broke,
As the fork'd lightning rives the knotted oak :
Fear, hope, dismay, all signs of shame or grace,
Chain'd every foot, or featured every face.
Then took his sacred trump a louder swell.
And now they groan'd, they sicken'd, and they fell ;
Again he sounded, and we heard the cry
Of the Word-wounded, as about to die ;
Further and further spread the conquering Word,
As loud ho cried, — ' The battle of the Lord.'
E'en those apart, who were the sound denied.
Fell down instinctive, and in spirit died._
Nor stay'd he yet— his eye, his frown, his speech.
His very gesture, had a power to teach :
With outstretch'd arms, strong voice, and piercing call,
He won the field, and made the Dagons fall ;
And thus in triumph took his glorious way,
Through scones of horror, terror, and dismay."



LETTER V.

Sny tlien wliich class to greater folly stoop.
Till' great in promise, or the poor in hope ?

Bo brave, for your loader is brave, and vows refonnation ; there shall be in Eiicland
seven halfpenny loaves sold for a jieliny ; and the three-hooped pot shall have tin hiin)i3.
I will make it felony to drink small beer : all shall eat and drink on my scor.', aiul 1 will
apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers; and they shall all
worship me as their lord.— Shakspeark.— ^enry Vt.

THE ELECTION.

The Evils of the Contest, and how in part to be avoided— The Miseries endured by a Friend
of the Candidate— Tlie various Liberties taken with hiiii who has no I'crsonal Interest
in the Success- Tlie unreasonable Kxpectations ol Voters— The Censures of tlie opposing
Party—The Vices as well as Follies shown in such Time of (.'untest— Dans and Cunning
of Electors— Evils which remain alter the Decision, opiwsed in vain l>y the I'.tfmts ol Wvi
Friendly, and of the Successful ; among whom is the Mayor— Htory of his Ad\nncenRnt
till he was raised to the Govominent of the Borough— Tliose Evils not to be placed in
balance with the Liberty of the People, but are yet Subjects of just Complaint.

Yes, our election's jiast, and we've been free,
Somewhat as madmen without keepers bo ;



122 crabbe's poems.

And such desire of freedom has been shown,
That both the parties wish'd her all their own ;
All our free smiths and cobblers in the town
Were loth to lay such pleasant freedom down ;
To put the bludgeon and cockade aside,
And let us pass unhurt and undefied.

True ! you might then your party's sign i^roduce,
And so escape with only half th' abuse :
With halt the danger as j'ou walk'd along,
With rage and threat'ning but from half the throng.
This you might do, and not your fortune mend,
For where you lost a foe you gain'd a friend ;
And to distress you, vex you, and expose.
Election friends are worse than any foes ;
The party-curse is with the canvass past,
But party-friendship, for your grief will last.

Friends of all kinds ; the civil and the rude.
Who humbly wish, or boldly dare t' intrude :
These beg or take a liberty to come

(B'riends should be free), and make your house their home ;
They know that warmly you their cause espouse.
And come to make their boastings and their bows ;
You scorn their manners, you their words mistrust,
But you must hear them, and they know you must.

One plainly sees a friendship firm and true,
Between the noble candidate and you ;
So humbly begs (and states at large the case),
" You'll think of Bobby and the little place."

Stifling his shame by drink, a wretch will come,
And prate your wife and daughter from the room :
In pain you hear him, and at heart despise.
Yet with heroic mind your pangs disguise ;
And still in patience to the sot attend.
To show what man can bear to serve a friend.

One enters huiigrj'^ — not to be denied.
And takes his place and jokes — " We're of a side.'
Yet worse the proser who, upon the strength
01 his one vote, has tales of three hours' length ;
This sorry roguo you bear, yet with siu'priso
Start at his oaths, and sicken at his lies.

Then comes there one, and tells in friendly way
What the opponents in their anger say ;
All that through life has vcx'd you, all abuse,
Will this kind friend in pure regard produce ;
And having through your own oftenccs run.
Adds (as appendtige) what your friends have done.

Has any female cousin made a trip
To Gretna (ireen, or more vexatious slip :
Has your witc's brother, or your uncle's son,
Done aught amiss, or is ho thought t' have done ;
Is there of all your kindred some who lack
Vision direc-t, or have a gibbous back ;
From your unlucky name may quips and puns
Bo made by these upbraiding Goths and Huns ;



THE BOKOUGH — THE BLECTION. 123

To some grreat public character have you
Assign' (i the fame to worth and talents due,
Proud ot your praise '?— In this, in any case.
Where the brute-spirit may affix disgrace,
These friends will smiling bring it, and the while
You silent sit, and practise for a smile.

Vain of their power, and of their value sure,
They nearly guess the tortures you endure ;
Nor spare one pang — for they perceive your heart
Goes with the cause ; you'd die before you'd start ;
Do what they may. they're sure you'll not ofl'end
Men who have pledged "their honours to your triend.

Those friends indeed, who start as in a race,
May love the sport, and laugh at this disgrace ;
They have in view the glory and the prize,
Nor heed the dirt.y steps by which they rise :
But we, their poor associates, lose the fame,
Though more than partners in the toil and shame.
Were this the whole ; and did the lime produce
But shame and toil, btit riot and abuse ;
We miafht be then from serious griefs exempt.
And view the whole with pity and contempt.
Alas ! but here the vilest passions rule ;
It is seduction's, is temptation's school ;
Where vices mingle in the oddest ways,
The grossest slander and the dirtiest praise ;
Flattery enough to make the vainest sick.
And clumsy stratagem, and scoundrel trick :
Nay more, your anger and contempt to cause,
These, while they hsh for profit, claim applause ;
Bribed, bought, and bound, they banish shame and fear ;
Tell you they're stanch, and have a soul sincere ;
Then talk of honour, and, if doubt 's express'd,
bhow where it lies, and smite upon the breast.
Among these worthies, some at first declare
For whom they vote : he then has most to spare :
Others hang off — when coming to the post
Is spurring time, and then he'll spare the most:
While some demurring, wait and find at last
The bidding languish, and the market past ;
These will affect all bribery to condemn,
And be it Satan laughs, he laughs at them.

Some too are pious — One desired the Lord
To teach him where "to drop his little word ;
To lend his vote where it will profit best ;
Promotion came not from the east or west ;
But as their treedom had promoted sonic,
Ho should bo glad to know which way 'twould come.
It was a naugiity world, and where to sell
His iirccious charge, was more tliaii lio ciuilil toll."

" B\it you succeeded V — True, at mighty cost,
And om- good iriond, I fear, will think he's lost :
Inns, horses, chaises, dinners, l)alls, aii<l notes ;
What fiU'd their purses, and what drench'd their throats :



124 crabbe's poems.

The private pension, and indulgent lease, —
Have all been granted to these friends who fleece ;
Friends who will hang like burs upon his coat,
And boundless judge the value of a vote.

And though the terrors of the time be past,
There still remain the scatterings of the blast ;
The boughs are parted that entwined before,
And ancient harmony exists no more ;
The gusts of wrath our peaceful seats deform.
And sadly flows the sighing of the storm :
Tliose who have gain'd are sorry for the gloom.
But they who lost, unwilling peace should come ;
There open envy, here suppress'd delight.
Yet live till time shall better thoughts excite.
And so prepare us, by a six-years' truce.
Again for riot, insult, and abuse.

Our worthy mayor, on the victorious part,
Cries out for peace, and cries with all his heart ;
He, civil creature ! ever does his best
To banish wrath from every voter's breast ;
" For where," says he, with reason strong and plain,
" Where is the profit — what will anger gain '{"
His short stout person he is wont to brace
In good brown broad-cloth, edged with two-inch lace,
When in his seat ; and still the coat seems new.
Preserved by common use of seaman's blue.

He was a fisher from his earliest day.
And placed his nets within the Borough's bay ;
Where, by his skates, his herrings, and his soles,
He lived, nor dream'd of corporation doles ;*
But toiling saved, and saving, never ceased
Till he had box'd up twelvescore pounds at least :
He knew not money's power, but judged it best
Safe in his trunk to let his treasure rest ;
Yet to a friend complain'd : " Sad charge, to keep
So many pounds ; and then I cannot sleep :"
" Then put it out," replied the friend :— " What, give
My money up ? why then I could not live :"
" Nay, but for interest place it in his hands
Who'll give you mortgage on his house or lands."
" Oh but," said Daniel, " that's a dangerous plan ;
He may be robb'd hke any other man :"
" Still "ho is botuid, and you may be at rest,
More safe the money than within your chest ;
And you'll receive, from all deductions clear,
Five pounds for every hun<lred, every year."
"What good in that?" quoth Daniel, for 'tis plain.
If part I take, there can but part remain :"
" What ! you, my friend, so skill'd in gainful things,

• I am informed that some exi)l.-ui:ition Is here ncccssiiry, though I iim ign<ii-aiit for wlmt
class of my re.'wlera it can ho rciiuircd. Some coriiorate bodies liavo aetiial iiroiierty, as
appears by tlieir receiving rents ; and they obtain money on the aiiraission ol members
Into tlieir society : tliis they may lawiuily sliare i.erliaps. Tliere are, moreover, oilier
doles, ol still greater value, of which it is not necessary for mc to exiilaiu the uatui-o or to
inquire into the legality.



THE BOBODGH— THE ELECTION. 125

Have you to learn what interest money brings ? "
" Not so," said Daniel, " perfectly I know,
He's the most interest who has most to show."
"True ! and he'll show the more the more he lends ;
Thus he his weight and consequence extends ;
For they who borrow must restore each sum.
And pay for use. What, Daniel, art thou dumb ? "^^
For much amazed was that good man. — "Indeed ! "
Said he with gladd'ning eye, " will money breed ?
How have 1 lived ? I grieve, with all my heart.
For my late knowledge in this precious art : —
Five pounds for every hundred will 'ne give ?
And then the hundred ?— I begin to live." —
So he began, and other means he found,
As he went on, to multiply a pound :
Though blind so long to interest, all allow
That no man better understands it now :
Him in our body corporate we chose.
And once among us, he above us rose ;
Stepping from post to post, he reach'd the chair.
And there he now reposes — that's the mayor.

But 'tis not he, 'tis not the kinder few.
The mild, the good, who can our peace renew ;
A peevish humour swells in every eye,
The warm are angry, and the cool are shy ;
There is no more the social board at whist.
The good old partners arc with scorn dismiss'd ;
No more with dog and lantern comes the maid.
To guide the mistress when the rubber's play'd ;
Sad shifts are made lest ribbons blue and green
Should at one table, at one time, bo seen :
On care and merit none will now rely,
'Tis party sells what party friends must buy ;
The warmest burgess wears a bodger's coat,
And fashion gains less int'rest than a vote ;
Unchcck'd the vintner still his poison vends.
For he too votes, and can command his friends.

But this admitted ; bo it still agreed,
These ill otfects from noble cause proceed ;
Though like some vile excrescences they be.
The tree tliey spring from is a sacred tree,
And its true produce, strength and liberty.

Yet if we could th' attendant ills suppress.
If we could make the sum of mischief loss ;
If we could warm and angry men jjcrsuade
No more man's common comforts to invade ;
And that old ease and harmony re-seat,
In all our meetings, so in joy to meet ;
Much would of glory to tho Muse ensue,
And our good Vicar would have less to do.



126 CRABBE'S FOEMS.



LETTER VI.

PROFESSIONS — LAW.

rradea and Professions of every kind to be found in the Borough— Its Seamen and Sold?cr^
— Law, the Danger of the Subject — Coddrington's Offence — Attorneys increiioed ; tbeir
splendid Appearance, how supported— Some worthy Exceptions — Spirit of Litigation.
how stirred up — A Boy articled as a Clerk ; his Ideas — How tliis Proleikiion i>ervertji the
Judgment — Actions appear through this medium in a false Light — Success from honest
Application — Archer, a worthy Character— Swallow, a Character of different kind —
Hia Origin, Progress, Success, &c.

"Trades and Professions " — these are themes the Muse,
Left to her freedom, would forbear to choose ;
But to our Borough they in truth belong,
And we, perforce, must take them in our song.

Be it then known that we can boast of these
In all denominations, ranks, degrees ;
All who our numerous wants through life supply.
Who soothe us sick, attend us when we die,
Or for the dead their various talents try.
Then have we those who live by secret arts.
By hunting fortunes, and by stealing hearts ;
Or who by nobler means themselves advance.
Or who subsist by charity and chance.

Say, of our native heroes shall I boast,
Born in our streets, to thunder on our coast.
Our Borough seamen ? Could the timid Muse
More patriot ardour in their breasts infuse ;
Or could she paint their merit or their skill.
She wants not love, alacrity, or will ;
But needless all ; that ardour is their own.
And for their deeds, themselves have made them known.

Soldiers in arms ! Defenders of our soil !
Who from destruction save us ; who from spoil
Protect the sons of penes who traffic or who toil ;
Would I could duly praise you ; that each deed
Your foes might honour, and your friends might read :
This too is needless ; you've imprinted well
Your powers, and told what I should feebly toll :
Beside, a Muse like mine, to satire prone.
Would fail in themes where there is praise alone.
— Law shall I sing, or what to Law belongs ?
Alas ! there may be danger in such songs ;
A foolish rhyme, 'tis said, a trifling thing.
The law found treason, for it touch'd the king.
But kings have mercy, in these hajipy times.
Or surely one had suflor'd tor his I'hymos ;
Our glorious Edwards and our Henrys bold.
So touch'd, had kept the reprobate in hold ;
But he escaped, nor fear thank Ileav'n have I,
Who love my king, for such offence to die.
But I am taught the danger would be much,
If those poor lines should one attorney touch —



THE BOnOUGH— LAW. 127

(One of those limbs of law who're always here ;
The heads come down to guide them twice a year).
I might not swing, indeed, but he in sport
Would whip a rhymer on from court to court ;
Stop him in each, and make him pay for all
The long proceedings in that dreaded Hall : —
Then let my numbers flow discreetly on,
Warn'd by the fate of luckless Coddrington,*
Lest some attorney (pardon me the name)
Should wound a poor solicitor for fame.

One man of law in George the Second's reign
Was all our frugal fathers would maintain ;
He too was kept for forms, a man of peace.
To frame a contract, or to draw a lease :
He had a clerk, with whom he used to write
All the day long, with whom he drank at night ;
Spare was his visage, moderate his bill.
And he so kind, men doubted of his skill.

Who thinks of this, with some amazement sees,
For one so poor, three flourishing at ease ;
Naj', one in splendour ! see that mansion tall,
That lofty door, the far-resounding hall ;
Well-furnish'd rooms, plate shining on the board.
Gay liveried lads, and cellar proudly stored :
Then say how comes it that such fortunes crown
These sons of strife, these terrors of the town ?

Lo, that small office ! there th' incautious guest
Goes blindfold in, and that maintains the rest ;
There in his web, th' observant spider lies.
And peers about for fat intruding flies ;
Doubtful at first he hears the distant hum,
And feels thom fluttering as they nearer come ;
They buzz and bUnk, and doubtfully they tread
On the strong birdlime of the utmost thread ;
But when they're once entangled by the gin,
With wliat an eager clasp he draws thtim in ;
Nor shall they 'scape, till after long delay.
And all that sweetens life is drawn away.

" Nay, this," you cry, "is common-place, the talo
Of petty tradesmen o'er their evening ale ;
There are who, living by the legal pen,
Are held in honour, — ' honourable men.' "

Doubtless — there are who bold manorial courts,
Or whom the trust of powerful friends supports ;
Or who, by labouring through a length of time,
Have pick'd their way, \uisullied l)y a crime.
These are the few : in this, in every place.
Fix the litigious rupture-stirring race ;
Who to contention as to trade are le<l.
To whom dispute and strife are bliss and bread.

There is a doubtful pauper, and wu think
'Tis not with us to give him meat and drink ;

* ThA n£Count of Coddrington occurs in *' The Kirrour for Mogbitratej." lie Buffered In
the reign of UicUiud 111.



128 CRABBE'S POEMS.

There is a child ; and 'tis not mighty clear
Whether the mother lived with us a year :
A road 's indicted, and our seniors doubt
If in our proper boundary or without :
But what says our attorney ? He, our friend,
Tells us 'tis just and manly to contend.

" What ! to a neighbouring parish yield your cause,
While you have money, and the nation laws ?
What ! lose without a trial, that which, tried,
May — nay it must — be given on our side ?
All men of spirit would contend ; such men
Than lose a pound would rather hazard ten.
What ! be imposed on ? No ! a British soul
Despises imposition, hates control :
The law is open ; let them, if they dare,
Support their cause ; the Borough need not spare.
All I advise is vigour and good will :
Is it agreed then— Shall I tile a bill ["

The trader, grazier, merchant, priest, and all,
Whose sons aspiring, to professions call,
Choose from their lads some bold and subtle bo}'.
And judge him fitted for this grave employ :
Him a keen old practitioner admits.
To write five years and exercise his wits ;
The youth has heard— it is in lact his creed —
Mankind dispute, that lawyers may be fee'd :
Jails, bailift's, writs, all terms and threats of law,
Grow now familiar as once top and taw ;
Rage, hatred, fear, the mind's severer ills,
All bring employment, all augment his bills :
As feels the surgeon for the mangled limb,
The mangled mind is but a job for him ;
Thus taught to think, these legal reasoners draw
Morals and maxims from their views ot law ;
They cease to judge by precepts taught in schools,
By man's plain sense, or by religious rules ;
No ! nor by law itself, in truth discern'd.
But as its statutes may bo warp'd and turn'd :
How they should judge of man, his word and deed.
They in their books and not their bosoms read.
Of some good act you speak with just applause ;
" No, no !" says ho, " 'twould be a losing cause :
Blame you some tyrant's deed !" — ho answers " Nay,
He'll got a verdict ; heed you what you say."
Thus to conclusions from examples led.
The heart resigns all judgment to the head ;
Law, law alone for ever kept in view.
His measures guides, and rules his conscience too ;
Often commandments, ho confesses three
Are yet in force, and tells you which they be.
As Law instructs him, thus : " Your neighbour's wife
You must not take, his chattels, nor his life ;
Break these decrees, for damage you must pay ;
These you must reverence, and the rest — you may."



THE BOROUGH— LAW. liJ9

Law was design'd to keep a state in peace ;
To punish robbery, that wrong might cease ;
To be impregnable : a coustaut fort,
To whicli the weak and injured might resort :
But tliese perverted minds its force employ.
Not to protect mankind, but to annoy ;
And long as ammunition can be found.
Its lightning flashes and its thunders sound.

Or Law with lawyers is an ample still,
Wrought by the passions' heat with chymic skill :
While the fire burns, the gains are quickly made,
And freely flow the profits of the trade ;
Nay, when the fierceness fails, these artists blow
The dying fire, and make the embers glow.
As long as they can make the smaller profits flow :
At length the process of itself will stop.
When they perceive they've drawn out every drop.

Yet, I repeat, there are who nobly strive
To keep the sense of moral worth alive ;
Men who would starve, ere meanly deign to live
On what deception and chican'ry give ;
And these at length succeed ; they have their strife,
Their apprehensions, stops, and rubs in life ;
But honour, application, care and skill.
Shall bend opposing fortune to their will.

Of such is A rcher, he who keeps in awe
Contending parties by his threats of law :
He, roughly honest, has been long a guide
In Borough business, on the conquering side ;
And seen so much of both sides, and so long.
He thinks the bias of man's mind goes wrong :
Thus, though he's friendly, he is still severe,
Surly, though kind, suspiciously sincere :
So much he's seen of baseness in the mind.
That, while a friend to man, be scorns mankind ;
He knows the human heart, and sees v/ith dread.
By slight temptation, how the strong are led ;
Ho knows how interest can asunder rend
The bond of parent, master, guardian, friend.
To form a new and a degrading tie
'Twixt needy vice and tempting villany,
Sound in himself, yet when such flaws appear,
He doubts of all, and learns that self to fear :
For where so dark tho moral view is grown,
A timid conscience trembles for her own ;
The pitchy taint of general vice is such
As daubs the fancy, and you dread tho touch.

Far unlike him was one in former times,
Famed for the spoil he gathcr'd by his crimes ;
Who, while his brethren nibbling "hold ther prey,
He like an eagle seized and boro tho whole away.

Swallow, a poor attorney, brought his boy
Up at his desk, and gave him his employ ;
He would have bound him to an honest trade,

K



130 crabbe's poems.

Could preparations have been duly made.

The clerkship ended, both the sire and son

Together did what business could be done ;



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