George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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Sometimes they'd luck to stir up small disputes

Among their friends, and raise them into suits :

Though close and hard, the father was content

With this resource, now old and indolent :

But his young Swallow, gaping and alive

To fiercer feelings, was resolved to thrive : —

" Father," he said, "but little can they win.

Who hunt in couples where the game is thin ;

Let's part in peace, and each pursue his gain.

Where it may start — our love may yet remain."

The parent growl'd, he couldn't think that lovo

Made the young cockatrice his den remove ;

But, taiight by habit, he the truth suppress'd.

Forced a frank look, and said he "thought it best."

Not long they'd parted ere dispute arose ;

The game they hunted quickly made them foes.

Some house the father by his art had won

Seem'd a fit cause of contest to the son,

Who raised a claimant, and then found a way

By a stanch witness to secure his prey.

The people cursed him, but in times of need

Trusted in one so certain to succeed :

By Law's dark by-ways he had stored his mind

With wicked knowledge, how to cheat mankind.

Few are the freeholds in our ancient town ;

A copyright from heir to heir came down.

From whence some heat arose, when there was doubt

In point of heirship ; but the fire went out,

Till our attorney had the art to raise

The dying spark, and blow it to a blaze :

For this he now began his friends to treat ;

His way to starve them was to make them eat.

And drink oblivious draughts — to his apj)lause.

It must be said, he never starved a cause ;

He'd roast and boil'd upon his board ; the boast

Of half his victims was his boil'd and roast ;

And these at every hour : — he seldom took

Aside his client, till he'd praised his cook ;

Nor to an office led him, there in pain

To give his story and go out again ;

But first the brandy and the chine were seen.

And then the business came by starts between.

" Well, if 'tis so, the house to you belongs ;
But have you money to redress these wrongs?
Nay, look not sad, my friend ; if you're correct.
You'll find the friendship that you"d not expect."

If right the man, the house was Swallow's own ;
If wrong, his kindness and good-will were shown :
" Rogue !" " Villain !" " Scoundrel !" cried the losers all
He let them cry, for what would that recall ?
At length ho left us, took a village seat.


And like a vulture look'd abroad for meat ;

The Borough booty, give it all its praise.

Had only served the appetite to raise ;

But if from simple heirs he drew their land.

He might a noble feast at will command ;

Still he proceeded by his former rules,

His bait their pleasures, when he fish'd for fools —

Flagons and haunches on his board were placed.

And subtle avarice look'd like thougtless waste :

Most of his friends, though youth from him had fled,

Were young, were minors, of their sires in dread ;

Or those whom widow'd mothers kept in bounds.

And check'd their generous rage for steeds and hounds ;

Or such as travell'd 'cross the land to view

A Christian's conflict with a boxing Jew :

Some too had run upon Newmarket heath

With so much speed that they were out of breath ;

Others had tasted claret till they now

To humbler port would turn, and knew not how.

All these for favours would to Swallow run.

Who never sought their thanks for all he'd done ;

He kindly took them by the baud, then bow'd

Politely low, and thus his love avow'd —

(For he'd a way that many judged polite,

A cunning dog — he'd fawn before he'd bite) —

"Observe, my friends, the frailty of our race
When age unmans us — let me state a case :
There's our friend Rupert — we shall soon redresa
His present evil— drink to our success —
I flatter not ; but did you ever see
Limbs better turn'd ? a prettier boy than he ?
His senses all acute, his passions such
As Nature gave — she never does too much ;
His the bold wish the cup of joy to drain.
And strength to bear it without qualm or pain.

"Now view his father as he dozing lies,
Whose senses wake not when he opes his eyes ;
Who slips and shuffles when he means to walk,
And lisps and gabbles if ho tries to talk ;
Feeling he's none — he could as soon destroy
The earth itself, as aught it holds enjoy ;
A nurse attends him to lay straight his limbs.
Present his gruel, and respect his whims :
Now shall this dotard from our hero hold
His lands and lordships ? Shall he hide his gold ?
That which he cannot use, and dare not show.
And will not give — why longer should he owe ?
Yet, 'twould bo murder should wo snap the locks.
And take the thing he worships from the box ;
So lot him dote and dream : but, till ho r'.io.
Shall not our generous heir receive supply ?
For ever sitting on the river's brink.
And ever thirsty, shall he fear to drink?
The moans are simple, let him only wish,
K 2

132 cbabbe's poems.

Then say he's wilhng, and I'll fill his dish."

They all applauded, and not least the boy,
Who now replied, " It till'd his heart with joy
To find he needed not deliv'rance crave
Of death, or wish the justice in the grave ;
Who, while he spent, would every art retain,
Of luring home the scatter'd gold again ;
Just as a fountain gaily spirts and plays
With what returns in still and secret ways."

Short was the dream of bliss ; he quickly found
His father's acres all were Swallow's giound.
Yet to those arts would other heroes lend
A willing ear, and Swallow was their friend ;
Ever successful, some began to think
That Satan help'd him to his pen and ink ;
And shrewd suspicions ran about the place,
" There was a compact " — I must leave the case.
But of the parties, had the fiend been one.
The business could not have been speedier done ;
Still when a man has angled day and night.
The silliest gudgeons will refuse to bite :
So Swallow tried no more ; but if they came
To seek his friendship, that remain'd the same :
Thus he retired in peace, and some would say
He'd balk'd his partner, and had learn'd to pray.
To this some zealots lent an ear, and sought
How Swallow felt, then said " A change is wrought."
'Twas true there wanted all the signs of grace.
But there were strong professions in their place :
Then, too, the less that men from him expect.
The more the praise to the converting sect ;
He had not yet subscribed to all their creed,
Nor own'd a Call, but he confess'd the need :
His acquiescent speech, his gracious look,
That pure attention when the brethren spoke.
Was all contrition, — he had felt the wound.
And with confession would again be sound.

True, Swallow's board had still the sumptuous treat ;
But could they blame ? the warmest zealots eat :
He drank — 'twas needful his poor nerves to brace ;
He swore — 'twas habit ; he was grieved — 'twas graco :
What could they do a new-born zeal to nurse ?
" His wealth 's undoubted — let him hold our purse ;
He'll add his bounty, and the house we'll raise
Hard by the church, and gather all her strays :
We'll watch her sinners as they home retire.
And pluck the brands from the devouring fire."

Alas ! such speech was but an empty boast ;
The good men reckon'd, but without iheir host ;
Swallow, delighted, took the trusted store.
And own'd the sum ; they did not ask for more.
Till more was needed ; when they call'd for aid —
And had it ? — No, their agent was afraid :
" Could he but know to whom he should refund.


He would most gladly — nay, he'd go beyond ;

But when such numbers claiin'd, when some were gone.

And others going — he must hold it on ;

The Lord would help them." — Loud their anger grew,

And while they throat'ning fi-om his door withdrew,

He bow'd politely low, and bade them all adieu.

But lives the man by whom such deeds are done ?
Yes, many such — But Swallow's race is run ;
His name is lost, — for tlmugh his sons have name.
It is not his, they all escape the shame :
Nor is there vestige now of all he had.
His means are wasted, for his heir was mad ;
Still we of Swallow as a monster speak,
A hard bad man, who prey'd upon the weak.


He fell to juggle, cant, and cluat • • • •

For as those Jowls that live in writer

Are never wet. he did but amnttor ;

Whate'er he Libour'd to appear,

Hlfl understanding still was clear,

A paltry wretch he h;wl, hall-starved,

That him in place of zany served. — Butler's Hudibrat,


The Worth and Excellence of the true Physician— Merit not the sole Cause of Success-
Modes of advancing Reputation — Motives ol niclical Men for publi^hin;^ their Works —
T)ie great Evil of Quackery— Present State or advertisina; Quacks— Tlieir Hazard— Some
fail, and why — Cau-ses of Success— Hww Men ol uiulcrstaiidingare prevailed npo!'. to iiave
recourse to Empirics, and to permit their Names to bo .advertised— Evus of Qu.aokery : to
nervous I''emale3 ; to Youth : to lulants- History of an advertising Empiric, &c.

Next, to a graver tribe we turn our view.
And yield the praise to worth and science due ;
But this with serious words and sober style,
For these are friends with whom wc seldom smile ;
Helpers of men* they're call'd, and we coniess
Theirs the deep study, theirs the lucky ruess ;
We own that numbers join with care and skill,
A temperate judgment, a devoted will :
Men who suppress their feelings, but who feel
The painful symptoms they doliglit to heal ;
Patient in all their trial.s, they sustain
The starts of passion, the reproach of pain ;
"With hearts affected, but with looks serene,
Intent they wait through all the solemn scene ;
Glad if a hope should rise from nature's strife,
To aid their skill and save the lingering life ;
But this must virtue's generous effort bo.
And spring from nobler motives than a fee :
To the Physician of the Soul, and these,
Turn the distrcss'd for safety, hope, and ease.
But as physicians of that nobler kind

* OpUerquo per orlicm dlcor.

134 crabbe's poems.

Have their warm zealots, and their sectaries blind ;

So among these for knowledge most renown'd,

Are dreamers strange, and stubborn bigots found ;

Some, too, admitted to this honour'd name.

Have, without learning, found a way to fame ;

And some by learning — young physicians write,

To set their merit in the fairest light :

With them a treatise is a bait that draws

Approving voices — 'tis to gain applause.

And to exalt them in the public view.

More than a life of worthy toil could do.

When 'tis proposed to make the man renown'd.

In every ago convenient doubts abound ;

Convenient themes in every period start,

Which he may treat with all the pomp of art ;

Curious conjectures he may always make.

And either side of dubious questions take ;

He may a system broach, or, if he please.

Start new opinions of an old disease :

Or may some simple in the woodland trace,

And be its patron till it runs its race ;

As rustic damsels from their woods are won.

And live in splendour till their race be run ;

It weighs not much on what their powers be shown.

When all his purpose is to make them known.

To show the world what long experience gains.
Requires not courage, though it calls for pains ;
But at life's outset to inform mankind
Is a bold effort of a valiant mind.

The great, good man, for noblest cause displays
What many labours taught, and many days ;
These sound instruction from experience give.
The others show us how they mean to live ;
That they have genius, and they hope mankind
Will to its efforts be no longer blind.

There are, beside, whom powerful friends advance.
Whom fashion favours, person, patrons, chance ;
And merit sighs to see a fortune made
By daring rashness, or by dull parade.

But these are trifling evils ; there is one
Which walks unoheck'd, and triumjjhs in the sun :
There was a time when we beheld the quack.
On public stage, the licensed trade attack ;
He made his labour'd speech with poor parade.
And then a laughing zany lent him aid :
Smiling wo pass'd him, but wo felt the while
Pity so much, that soon we ceased to smile ;
Assured that fluent speech, and flow'ry vest
Disguised the troubles of a man distress' d ; —

But now our quacl;s are gamesters, and they play
With craft and skill to ruin and betray ;
With monstrous promise they delude the mind.
And thrive on all that tortures human kind.

Void of all honour, avaricious, rash,


The daring tribe compound their boasted trash —

Tincture of syrup, lotion, drop, or pill ;

All tempt the sick to trust the lying bill ;

And twenty names of cobblers tum'd to squires,

Aid the bold language of these blushless liars.

There are among them those who cannot read,

And yet they'll buy a patent, and succeed ;

Will dare to promise dying sufferers aid.

For who, when dead, can threaten or upbraid ?

With cruel avarice still they recommend

More draughts, more syrup, to the journey's end :

"I feel it not ;" — " Then take it every hour :"

" It makes me worse ;" — " Why then it shows its power ;"

" I fear to die ;" — " Let not your spirits sink.

You're always safe, while you believe and drink."

How strange to add, in this nelarious trade,
That men of parts are dupes by dunces made :
That creatures. Nature meant should clean our streets,
Have purchased lands and mansions, parks and seats :
Wretches with conscience so obtuse, they leave
Their untaught sons their parents to deceive ;
And when they're laid upon their dying bed.
No thought of murder comes into their head,
Nor one revengeful ghost to them appears,
To fill the soul with penitential fears.

Yet not the whole of this imposing train
Their gardens, seats, and carriages obtain :
Chieffy, indeed, they to the robbers fall,
Who are most fitted to disgrace them all ;
But there is hazard — patents must be bought.
Venders and puffers for the poison sought ;
And then in many a paper through the year.
Must cures and cases, oaths and proofs appctir ;
Men snatch'd from graves, as they were dropping in,
Their lungs cough'd up their bones pierced througii their .skin ;
Their liver all one schirrus, and the frame
Poison'd with evils which they dare not name ;
Men who spent all upon physicians' fees,
Who never slept, nor had a moment's case,
Are now as roaches sound, and all as brisk as bees.

If the sick gudgeons to the bait attend,
And come in shoals, the angler gains his end :
But should the advertising cash be spent.
Ere yet the town has due attention lent,
Then bursts the bubble, and the hungry cheat
Pines for the bread ho ill deserves to eat ;
It is a lottery, and ho shares perhaps
The rich man's feast, or begs the jiauper'a scraps.

From powerful causes spring th' empiric's gains,
Man's love of life, his weakness, and his pains ;
These first induce hini the vile trash to try.
Then lend his name, that other men may buy :
This love ot life, which in our nature rules,
To vile imposture makes ua dupes and tools ;

133 crabbe's poems.

Then pain compels th' impatient soul to seize
On promised hopes of instantaneous ease ;
And weakness too with every wish complies,
Worn out and won by importunities.

Troubled with something in your bile or blood,
You think your doctor does you little good ;
And gi-own impatient, you require in haste
The nervous cordial, nor dislike the taste ;
It comforts, heals, and strengthens ; naj"-, you think
It makes you better every time j'ou drink ;
" Then lend your name "—you're loth, but yet confcs;;
Its powers are great, and so you acquiesce :
Yet think a moment, ere your name you lend,
With whose 'tis placed, and what you recommend ;
Who tipples brandy will some comfort feel,
But will he to the med'cine set his seal ?
Wait, and you'll find the cordial yon admire
Has added fuel to your fever's fire :
Say, should a robber chance your purse to spare.
Would you the honour of the man declare '?
Would you assist his purpose ! swell his crime ?
Besides, he might not spare a second time.

Compassion sometiaios sets the fatal sign, —
The man was poor, and humbly begg'd a line ;
Else how should noble names and titles back
The spreading praise of some advent'rous quack ?
But he the moment watches, and entreats
Your honour's name,— your honoiu- joins the cheats ;
You judged the med'cine harmless, and you lent
What help jj^ou could, and with the best intent ;
But can it please you, thus to league with all
Whom he can beg or bribe to swell the scrawl ?
Would you these wrappers with your name adorn
Which hold the poison for the yet unborn ?

No class escapes them— from the poor man's pay
The nostrum takes no trilling part away :
See ! those square patent bottles from the shop.
Now decoration to the cupboard's top ;
And there a favourite hoard yo\i'll find within,
Companions meet ! the julep and the gin.

Time too with cash is wasted ; 'tis the fate
Of real helpers to be call'd too lato ;
This find tlio sick, when (time and patience gone)
Death with tenfold terror hurries on.

Suppose tlie case surpasses human skill,
There comes a quack to flatter weakness still ;
What greater evil can a flatterer do.
Than Jrom himself to take the sufferer's view?
To turn from .sacred thoughts liis reasoning powers.
And rob a sinner of his flying hours ?
Yet this they dare, and craving to the last.
In hope's strong bondage hold their victim fast :
For soul or body no concern have they,
All their inquii-y, " Can the patient pay ?


" And will he swallow draughts until his dying day ?"

Observe what ills to nervous females flow,
When the heart flutters, and the pulso is low ;
If once induced these cordial sips to try,
All feel the ease, and few the danger fly ;
For, while obtain'd, of drams they've all the force,
And when denied, then drams are the resource.

Nor those the only evils — there are those
Who for the troubled mind prepare repose ;
They write : the young are tenderly address'd.
Much danger hinted, much concern expross'd ;
They dwell on freedoms lads are prone to take,
Which makes the doctor tremble for their sake ;
Still if the youthful patient will but trust
In one so kind, so pitiful, and just ;
If he will take the tonic all the time,
And hold but moderate intercourse with crime ;
The sage will gravely give his honest word.
That strength and spirits shall be both restored ;
In plainer English — if you mean to sin,
Fly to the drops, and instantly begin.

Who would not lend a sympathizing sigh,
To hear yon infant's pity-moving cry ?
That feeble sob, unlike the new-born note
Which came with vigour from th' opening thj-oat.
When air and light first rush'd on lungs and eyes,
And there was life and spirit in the cries :
Now an abortive, faint attempt to weep
Is all we hear ; sensation is asleep :
The boy was healthy, and at first express'd
His feelings loudly when he fail'd to rest ;
When cranim'd with food, and tightcn'd every limb,
To cry aloud was what i>ertain'd to him ;
Then the good nurse (who had she borne a brain, _
Had sought the cause that made her babe complain)
Has all her efforts, l<jving soul ! applied
To set the cry, and not the cause, aside ;
She gave her powerful sweet without remorse
The sleeping cordial — she ha<I tried its force,
Repeating oft : the infant, freed from pain,
Kcjccted food, but took the dose again.
Sinking to sleep ; while she her joy express'd
That her dear charge could sweetly take his rest :
Soon may she spare her cordial ; not a doubt
licmains, but quickly he will rest without.^

This moves our grief and pity, and we sigh
To think what numbers from these causes die ;
But what contem[)t and anger should we show,
Did we the lives of these impostors know !

Ere for the world's I left the cares of sch(jol,
One I roniomber who assumed the fool ;
A part well suited— when the idler boys
Would shout around him, and ho lovctl the noiso :
They cuU'd him Neddy :— Neddy had the art

138 crabbe's poems.

To play with skill his ignominious part ;
When he his trifles would for sale display,
And act the mimic for a schoolboy's pay.
For many years he plied his humble trade,
And used his tricks and talents to persuade ;
The fellow barely read, but chanced to look
Among the fragments of a tatter'd book ;
Where, after many efforts made to spell
One puzzling word, he found it oxyinel ;
A potent thing, 'twas said to cure the ills
Of ailing lungs — the oxyniel of squills :
Squills he procured, but found the bitter strong
And most unpleasant ; none would take it long ;
But the pure acid and tho sweet would make
A med'cino numbers would for pleasure take.

There was a fellow near, an artful knave.
Who knew the plan, and much assistance gave ;
He wrote the puffs, and every talent plieil
To make it sell : it sold, and then he died.

Now all the profit fell to Ned's control.
And Pride and Avarice quarrell'd for his soul ;
When mighty profits by the trash were made.
Pride built a palace. Avarice groan'd and paid ;
Pride placed the signs of grandeur all about,
And Avarice barr'd his friends and children out.

Now see him Doctor ! yes, the idle fool,
The butt, the robber of the lads at school ;
Who then knew nothing, nothing since acquired.
Became a doctor, honour'd and admired ;
His dress, his frown, his dignity were such.
Some who had known him thought his knowledge much ;
Nay, men of skill, of apprehension quick.
Spite of their knowledge, trusted him when sick ;
Though he could neither reason, write, nor spell.
They yet had hope his trash would make them well ;
And while they scom'd his parts, thoy took his oxj-mel.

Oh ! when his nerves had once received a shock,
Sir Isaac Newton might have gone to Rock :*
Hence impositions of tho grossest kind.
Hence thought is feeble, understanding blind ;
Hence sums enormous by those cheats are made,
And deaths unnumber'd by their dreadful trade.

Alas ! in vain is my contempt cxpress'd.
To stronger passions are their words address'd ;
To pain, to fear, to terror, their a]ipcal.
To those who, weakly reasoning, strongly feel.

What then our hopes ? — perhaps there may by law
Be method found these pests to curb and awo ;
Yet in this land of freedom law is slack
With any being to commence attack ;
Then let us trust to science — there are those
Who can their falsehoods and their frauds disclose.
All their vile trash detect, and their low tricks expose ;

* An empiric who flourished at the ftamc time with this gi'eat man


Perhaps their numbers may in time confound
Their arts— as scorpions give themselves the wound ;
For when these curers dwell in every place,
While of the cured we not a man can trace,
Strong truth may then the public mind persuade,
And spoil the fruits of this nefarious trade.



No extensive manufactories in the Boroagh ; yet considerable Fortunes mailo tliei-e— 111
Judgment of Parents in disposing of their Sons— The best educated not the most likely
to succeed— Instance— Want of Success compensated by the lenient Power ot ccme Avo-
catiotis— The Naturalist— The Weaver an Entomologist, &c.— A Prize Flower— Story of
Walter and William.

Of manufactures, trade, inventions rare,

Steam-towers and looms, you'd know our Borough's share—

'Tis small : we boast not these rich subjects here,

Who hazard thrice ten thousand pounds a year ;

We've no huge buildings, where incessant noise

Is made by springs and spindles, girls and boys ;

Where, 'mid such thundering sounds, the maiden's song

Is " Harmony in Uproar"* all day long.

Still common minds with us in common trade.
Have gain'd more wealth than ever student made ;
And yet a merchant, when he gives his son
His college-learning, thinks his duty done ;
A way to wealth ho leaves his boy to find.
Just when he's made for the discovery blind.

Jones and his wife perceived their elder boy
Took to his learning, and it gave them joy ;
This they encouraged, and were blest to see
Their son a Fellow with a high degree ;
A living fell, he married, and his sire
Declared 'twas all a father could require ;
Children then blcss'd them, and when letters came,
The parents proudly told each grandchild's name.

Meantime the sons at home in trade were placed,
Money their object — ^just the father's taste ;
Saving he lived and long, and when he died,
Ho gave them all his fortune to divide :
"Martin," said he, " at vast expense was taught ;
He gain'd his wish, and has the ease he sought."

Thus the good priest (the Christian scholar !) finds

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 16 of 49)