George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

. (page 17 of 49)
Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 17 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


What estimate is made by vulgar minds ;
Ho sees his brothers, who had every gift
Of thriving, now assisted in their thrift ;
While he, whom learning, habits, all prevent,
Is largely mulct for each impediment.

Yet let us own that Trade has much of chance,

• The title of a short ploco of humoui by Arbuthnot.



140 crabbe's poems.

Not all the careful by their care advance ;
With the same parts and prospects, one a seat
Builds for himself ; one finds it in the Fleet.
Then to the wealthy you will see denied
Comforts and joys that with the poor abide :
There are who labour througli the year, and yet
No more have gain'd than — not to be in debt ;
Who still maintain the same laborious coiu'se.
Yet pleasure hails them from some favourite source ;
And health, amusements, children, wife, or friend,
With life's dull views their consolations blend.

Nor these alone possess the lenient power
Of soothing life in the desponding hour ;
Some favourite studies, some delightful care,
The mind with trouble and distresses share ;
And by a coin, a flower, a verse, a boat.
The stagnant spirits have been set afloat ;
They pleased at first, and then the habit grew.
Till the fond heart no higher pleasure knew ;
Till, from all cares and other comforts freed,
Th' important nothing took in life the lead.

With all his phlegm, it broke a Dutchman's heart,
At a vast price, with one loved root to part ;
And toys like these fill many a British mind.
Although their hearts are found of firmer kind.

Oft have I smiled the happy pride to see
Of humble tradesmen, in their evening glee ;
When of some pleasing fancied good possess'd,
Each grew alert, was busy, and was blest :
Whether the call bird yield the hour's delight,
Or, magnified in microscope the mite ;
Or whether tumblers, croppers, carriers seize
The gentle mind, they rule it, and they please.

There is my friend the Weaver : strong desires
Reign in his breast ; 'tis beauty he admires ;
See ! to the shady grove he wings his way,
And feels in hope the raptures of the day —
Eager he looks ; and soon, to glad his eyes.
From the sweet bower, by nature form'd, arise
Bright troops of virgin moths and fresh-born butterflies ;
Who broke that morning from their half-year's sleep.
To fly o'er flowers where they were wont to creep.

Above the sovereign oak, a sovereign skims.
The purple Emp'ror, strong in wing and limbs:
There fair Camilla takes her flight serene,
Adonis blue, and Paphia silver-queen ;
With every filmy flj' from mead or bower.
And hungry Sphinx who threads the honey'd flower;
She o'er the larkspurs' bed, where sweets abound.
Views every bell, and hums th' approving sound ;
Poised on her busy plumes, with Iccling nice
She draws from every flower, nor ti'ies a floret twice.

lie fears no bailiff"s wrath, no baron's blame.
His is untax'd aud undisputed game :



THE BOROUGH — TRADES. 141

Nor less the place of curious plant he knows ;*

He both his Flora and his Fauna shows ;

For him is blooming in its rich ai-ray

The glorious flower which bore the palm away ;

In vain a rival tried his utmost art,

His was the prize, and joy o'erflow'd his heart.

" This, this ! is beauty ; cast, I pray, your eyes
On this my glory ! see the grace ! the size !
Was ever stem so tall, so stout, so strong,
Exact in breadth, in just proportion long !
These brilliant hues are all distinct and clean,
No kindred tint, no blending streaks between :
This is no shaded, iim-ofF,t pin-eyed J thing ;
A king of flowers, a flower for England's king :
I own my pride, and thank the favouring star
Which shed such beauty on my fair Bizarre." §

Thus may the poor the cheap indulgence seize.
While the most wealthy pine and pray for ease :
Content not always waits upon success,
And more may he enjoy who profits less.

Walter and William took (their father dead)
Jointly the trade to which they both were bred ;
When fix'd, they married, and they quickly found
With due success their honest labours crown'd ;
Few were their losses, but although a few,
Walter was vex'd, and somewhat peevish grew ;
"You put your trust in every pleading fool,"
Said he to William, and grew strange and cool.
" Brother, forbear," he answer'd : " take your duo,
Nor lot my lack of caution injure you :"
Half friends they parted, — better so to close.
Than longer wait to part entirely foes.

Walter had knowledge, prudence, jealous care ;
He let no idle views his bosom share ;
He never thought nor felt for other men —
" Let one mind one, and all are minded then."
Friends he respected, and believed them just,
But they were men, and he would no man trust ;
He tried and watch'd his people day and night, — •
The good it harm'd not, for the bad 'twas right.
He could their humours bear, nay disrespect,
But he could yield no pardon to neglect ;
That all about him were of him airaid,
" Was right," he said — "so should we be obey'd."

• In botanical laiigiiugo, " the habitat," the favourite soil or situation of the more scarce
spocies.

t This, it must be acluiowledgcd, is contrary to the opinion of Thomson, and I believe of
some other poeta, who, iu desirribing the var>'ing hues of our Uiont beautiful flowers, have
considered thiin as loat aiul blended with ciuh other ; whereas their beauty, in th eye of
a florist (and 1 cojiceivo iu that of the uninitiated h1so<. depends upon the distinctnens of
their coloure : the stronger tlio bounding line, and the less they biciik into the nelghlniur-
ing tint, so much the rither and uicire valuable is the fltiwer esteemed.

I I'lueyed.— An auricula, or any other single flnwcr. bi so called when the $tigma (the
part which arises from the seed-veysel) is protruded beyond the tube of the flower, and
Deconies visible,

i) This word, so far as It relates to flowers, rneana tho«e variegated wltli three or uioiK
GolouTB irregularly uud iudeteruiiuately.



142 crabbe's roEMS.

These merchant-maxims, much good fortune too,
And ever keeping one grand point in view,
To vast amount his once small portion drew.
William was kind and easy ; he complied
With all requests, or grieved when he denied ;
To please his wife he made a costly trip.
To please his child he let a bargain slip ;
Prone to compassion, mild with the distress'd,
He bore with all who poverty profess'd,
And some would he assist, nor one would he arrest.
He had some loss at sea, bad debts at land.
His clerk absconded with some bills in hand,
And plans so often fail'd, that he no longer plann'd.
To a small house (his brother s) he withdrew,
At easy rent— the man was not a Jew ;
And there his losses and his cares he bore.
Nor found that want of wealth could make him poor.

No, he in fact was rich, nor could he move,
But he was follow'd by the looks of love ;
All he had suffer'd, every former grief,
Made those around more studious in relief ;
He saw a cheerful smile in every face.
And lost all thoughts of error and disgrace.
Pleasant it was to see them in their walk
Round their small garden, and to hear them talk ;
Free are their children, but their love refrains
From all offence — none murmurs, none complains ;
Whether a book amused thera, speech, or play,
Their looks were lively, and their hearts were gay ;
There no forced efforts for delight were made,
Joy came with prudence, and without parade ;
Their common comforts they had all in view,
Light were their troubles, and their wishes few :
Thrift made thom easy for the coming day,
Eeligion took the dread of death away :
A cheerful spirit still insured content.
And love smiled roimd them wheresoo'er they went.
Walter, meantime, with all his wealth's increase,
Gain'd many points, but could not purchase peace ;
When he withdrew from business for an hour.
Some fled his presence, all confess'd his power;
He sought affection, but received instead
Fear undisguised, and love-repelling dread !
He look'd around him—" Harriet, dost thou love ?
" I do my duty," said the timid dove ;
" Good Heav'n, your duty ! jjritheo, tell mo now —
To love and honour— was not that your vow ?
Come, my good Harriet, I would gladly sock
Your inmost thought— Why can't the woman speak ?
Have you not all things ?"—" Sir, do I complain ?"
"No, that's my part, which I perform in vain ;
I want a simple answer, and direct —
But you evade ; yes ! 'tis as 1 suspect.
Come then, my children ! Watt ! upon your knees



THE BOROUGH — AMUSEMENTS. 143

Vow that you love me." — "Yes, sir, if you please."
" Again ! B}' Hcav'n, it mads nie ; I require
Love, and they'll do whatever I desire :
Thus, too, my people shun me ; I would spend
A thousand pounds to get a single friend ;
I would be happy, I have means to pay
For love and triendship, and you run away :
Ungrateful creatures ! why, you seem to dread
My very looks ; I know you wish me dead.
Come hither, Nancy ! you must hold me dear ;
Hither, I say ; why ! what have you to fear ?
You see I'm gentle — Come, you trifler, come:
My God ! she trembles ! — Idiot, leave the room !
Madam ; your children hate me ; I suppose
They know their cue ; you make them all my foes
I've not a friend in all the world — not one :
I'd be a bankrupt sooner ; nay, 'tis done ;
In ever}' better hope of life I fail.
You're all tormentors, and my house a jail.
Out of my sight ! I'll sit and make my will —
What, glad to go ? stay, devils, and be still ;
'Tis to your uncle's cot you wish to run.
To learn to live at ease and be undone ;
Him j'ou can love, who lost his whole estate.
And I, who gain you fortunes, have your hate ;
'Tis in my absence you yourselves enjoy :
Tom ! are you glad to lose me ? tell me, boy ;
Yes ! does ho answer ? — -Yes ! upon my soul ;
No awe, no fear, no duty, no control !
Away ! away ! ten thousand devils seize
All I possess, and plunder where they please !
What's wealth to me ? — yes, yes ! it gives me sway,
And you shall feel it — Go ! begone, I say. "



LETTER IX.

AMUSEMENTS.

Common AmusemPTita of aBathlng-placo — Morning Rides, Walks, Ac. — Company resorting
to thy Town — DUlercntClioice olLotli^ings — Cheap Indulgences— Seaside Walks— Wealthy
Invalid — Summer evening on the Sands — Sea I'roductiuns — *' Water parted from the
Sea"— Winter Views serene— In what cisen to be avoided — Bailing up<in the River — A
KBifUl Islet of Sand ofVtlio Coast — Visited by Company — Covered by the Flowing of the
Tide — Adventure in that place.

Of our amusements ask you ? — Wo amuse
Ourselves and friends with seaside walks and viow.s,
Or take a morning ride, a novel, or the news ;
Or, seeking nothing, glide about the street.
And so engaged, with vario\is parties meet ;
Awhile we stop, discourse of wind and tide,
Bathing and books, thu raffle, and the ride :
Thus, with the aid which shops and sailing give,



144 crabbe's foems.

Life passes on ; 'tis labour, but we live.

When evening comes, our invalids awake,
Nerves cease to tremble, heads fbi'bear to ache,
Then cheerful meals the sunken spirits i-aise,
Cards or the dance, wine, visiting, or plays.

Soon as the season comes, and crowtls arrive.
To their superior rooms the wealthy drive ;
Others look round for lodgings snug and small.
Such is their taste — they've hatred to a hall ;
Hence one his fav'rite habitation gets.
The brick-floor'd parlour which the butcher lets,
Where, through his single light, be may regard
The various business of a common yard.
Bounded by backs of buildings form'd of clay,
By stable, styes, and coops, et-castera.

The needy-vain, themselves awhile to shun.
For dissipation to these dog-holes run ;
Where each (assuming petty pomp) appears.
And quite forgets the shopboard and the shears.

For them are cheap amusements : they raaj' slip
Beyond the town and take a private dip ;
When they may urge that, to be safe they mean.
They've heard there's danger in a light machine ;
They too can gratis move the quays about.
And gather kind replies to every doubt ;
There they a jmcing, lounging tribe may view.
The stranger's guides, who've little else to do ;
The Borough's placemen, where no more they gain
Thau keeps them idle, civil, poor, and vain.
Then may the poorest with the wealthy look
On ocean, glorious page of Nature's book !
May see its varying views in every hour,
All softness now, then rising with all power,
As sleeping to invite, or threat'ning to devour :
'Tis this which gives us all our choicest views ;
Its waters heal us, and its shores amuse.

See ! those fair nymphs upon that rising strand,
Yon long salt lake has parted from the land ;
Well plea.scd to press that path, so clean, so pure,
To seem in danger, yet to feel secure ;
Trifling with terror, while they strive to shun
The curling bUlows ; laughing as they run ;
They know the neck that joins the shore and sea,
Or, ah ! how changed that fearless laugh would bo.

Observe how various Parties take their way,
By seaside walks, or make the sand-hills gay ;
Tiaere group'd are laughing maids and sighing swains
And some apart who feel un{)itied pains ;
Pains from diseases, pains which those who feel.
To the physician, not the fair, reveal :
For nymphs (propitious to the lover's sigh)
Leave these poor jiatients to coinjjlain and die,

Lo ! where on that huge anchor sadly loans
That sick tall figure, lost in other scenes ;



THE BOllOUGH— AMUSEMENTS. 145

He late from India's clime impatient sail'd,
There, as his fortune grew, his spirits fail'd ;
For each dehght, in search of wealth he went.
For ease alone, the wealth acquired is spent —
And spent in vain ; enrich'd, aggrieved, he sees
The envied poor possess'd of joy and ease :
And now he flies from place to place, to gain
Strength for enjoyment, and still flies in vain :
Mark ! with what sadness, of that pleasant crew,
Boist'rous in mirth, he takes a transient view ;
And fixing then his eye upon the sea.
Thinks what has been, and what must shortly be :
Is it not strange tliat man should health destroy,
For joys that come when he is dead to joy ?

Now is it pleasant in the summer eve.
When a broad shore retiring waters leave.
Awhile to wait upon the iirm fair sand.
When all is calm at sea, all still at land ;
And there the ocean's produce to explore.
As floating by, or rolling on the shore :
Those living jellies*' which the flesh inflame.
Fierce as a nettle, and from that its name :
Some in huge masses, some that you may bring
In the small compass of a lady's ring ;
Figured by Hand Divine — there's not a gem
Wrought by man's art to be compared to them ;
Soft, brilliant, tender, through the wave they glow.
And make the moonbeam brighter where they &ow.
Involved in sea-wrack, here you find a race
Which science, doubting, knows not where to place ;
On shell or stone is dropp'd the embryo seed.
And quickly vegetates a vital breed. f

While thus with pleasing wonder you inspect
Treasures the vulgar in their scorn reject.
See as they float along th' entangled weeds
Slowly approach, upborne on bladdery beads ;
Wait till they land, and you shall then behold
The fiery sparks those tangled fronds infold.
Myriads of living points ;t th' unaided eye
Can but the fire, and not the form descrj'.
And now your view upon the ocean turn.
And there the splendour of the waves discern ;
Cast but a stone, or strike them with an oar,

•Some of the smiiller species of the .Uedusa (sea-nettic) are exquisitely beautiful ; tlicir
wm 18 neariy oval varied with serratcfl longituainal lines; they are extrenioly tcudw,
oa tiy no means which I am aciiualnted with can be preserved, for they soon dissolve in
trier spirit of wine or water, and lose every vestige of their shape, and indeed of their
lOBlaiico : the larjf.r species are found in liiissiiapen masses of many pounds wciKht :
le»e, when han. l,-.l, ha^•e tlie effert of the nettle, and the stinniilK is ofUm a.T.;onipaiiio<l
lUMd b the t 'cd"'"™ ""''''"^^"' feeling, iierliaps in a slight degree resembling that
t Various tribes and species of marine verm>-» are here meant ; that which so nearly
seinbies a vegetal.le in its fonn, and perhaps, in some degree, manner of growth, is the
irajllne, called by naturalists S.-rlult,ria, of which there are many species in almost ev.^y
Vv I "'^,'-'"^''t- Tlie animal protrudes its many claws (apparently in search of prey) from
iriwn pellucid vesicles, which proceed from a horny, tenacious, branchy stem.
f. i„ T.Cf" ?*"''" •"> " minute kind of animal of the same class : when it does not shine,
U Invisible to tho naked eyo.



146 crabbe's poems.

And j-oii shall flames within the deep explore ;
Or scoop the stream phosphoric as you stand,
And the cold flames shall flash along your hand ;
"VVhe*i, lost in wonder, you shall walk and gaze
On weeds that sparkle, and on waves that blaze.*

The ocean, too, has winter views serene,
When all j'ou see through densest log is seen ;
When you can hear the fishers near at hand
Distinctly speak, yet see not where they stand ;
Or sometimes them and not their boat discern,
Or, half-conceal'd, some figure at the stern ;
The view 's all bounded, and from side to sido
Your utmost prospect but a few ells wide ;
Boys who, on shore, to sea the j^ebble cast,
Will hear it strike against the viewless mast ;
"While the stern boatman grovels his fierce disdain,
At whom he knows not, whom he threats in vain.

'Tis pleasant then to view the nets float past,
Net alter net till you have seen the last :
And as you wait till all beyond you slip,
A boat comes gliding from an anchor'd ship,
Breaking the silence with the dipping oar.
And their own tones, as labouring for the shore ;
Those measured tones which with the scene agree.
And give a sadness to serenity.

All scenes like these the tender maid should shun,
Nor to a misty beach in autumn run ;
Much should she guard against the evening cold,
And her slight shape with fleecy warmth infold ;
This she admits, but not with so much ease
Gives up the night-walk when th' attendants please ;
Her have I seen, pale, vapour'd through the day,
"With crowded parties at the midnight play ;
Faint in the morn, no powers could she exert ;
At night with Pam delighted and alert ;
In a small shop she's raffled with a crowd,
Breathed the thick air, and cough'd and laugh'd aloud ;
She who will tremble if her eye explore
" The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor ;"
Whom the kind doctor charged, with shaking head,
At eiu-ly hour to quit the beaux for bed ;
She has, contemning fear, gone down the dance.
Till she perceived the rosy morn advance ;
Then has she wondor'd, fainting o'er her tea.
Her drops and julep should so useless bo :
Ah ! sure her joys must ravish every sense.
Who buys a portion at such vast expense.

Among those joys 'tis one at eve to sail
On the broad river with a favouring gale ;
"When no rough waves upon the bo.soni ride.
But the keel cuts, nor rises on the tide ;

• For the cause or raiifles of thia phenomenon, which 1b sometiines, though rarelr
observed on our cwists, 1 must refer the reader to the writoi-s on uiuarai philosophy Mul
iiaturnl history.




*' Among' thost' jt)yH, 'ti« one at eve to miil
On the broftil river, with n favuuring yalc."— P. Uti.



THE BOROUCn — AMUSEMENTS. 147

Safe from the stream the nearer gunwale stands,

Where playful children trail their idle hands :

Or strive to catch long- grassy leaves that tioat

On either side of the impeded boat ;

What time the moon arising shovv's the mud,

A shining border to the silver flood :

When, by her dubious light, the meanest views,

Chalk, stones, and stakes, obtain the richest hues ;

And when the cattle, as they gazing stand,

Seem nobler objects than when view'd trom land :

Then anchor'd vessels in the way appear.

And sea-boys greet them as they pass — " What cheer ?" '

The sleeping shell-ducks at the sound arise,

And utter loud their unharmonious cries ;

Fluttering they move their weedy beds among,

Or instant diving, hide their plumeless young.

Along the wall, returning from the town.
The weary rustic homeward wanders do^vn :
Who stops and gazes at such joyous crew,
And feels his envy rising at the view ;
He the light siaeech and laugh indignant hears.
And feels more press'd by want, more vex'd by iears.

Ah ! go in peace, good fellow, to thine home.
Nor fancy those escape the general doom :
Gay as they seem, be sm-e with them are hearts
With sorrow tried ; there's sadness in their parts :
If thou couldst see them when they think alone,
Mirth, music, friends, and these amusements gone ;
Couldst thou discover every secret ill
That pains their sjjirit, or resists their will ;
Couldst thou behold forsaken Love's distress.
Or Envy's pang at glory and success.
Or Beauty, conscious of the spoils of Time,
Or Guilt alarm'd when j\Iemory shows the crime ;
All that gives sorrow, terror, grief, and gloom ;
Content would cheer thee trudging to thine home.*

There are, 'tis true, who lay their cares aside,
And bid some hours in calm enjoyment glide ;
Perchance some fair one to the sober night
Adds (by the sweetness of her song) delight ;
And as the music on tlie water floats,
Some bolder shore returns the soften'd notes ;
Then, youth, beware, for all around conspire
To banish caution and to wake desire ;
The day's amusement, feasting, beauty, wine,
Those accents sweet, and this soft hour comV)ine,
When most unguarded, then to win that heart o( thine :
But see, they land ! the fond enchantment flics,
And in its place, life's common views arise.

Sometimes a party, row'd from town, will land
On a small islet form'd of shelly sand,
Left by the water v.'hen the tides are low,

• Tills Is Tiot offered a^ n r«^a3onil>lo source of contentment, bnt rw one THotive for roslg-
nation : thei'y would nut be no iuuch anvy if tlioi-t) were luoro dbiuoraiucut.

L 2



148 crabbe's poems.

But which tho floods in their return o'erflow ;
There will they anchor, pleased awhile to view
Tho watery waste, a jirospeet wild and new ;
The now recedirn- billows give them space.
On either side tho growing shores to pace ;
And then returning, they contract the scene.
Till small and smaller grows the walk between ;
As sea to sea approaches, shore to shores,
Till the next ebb the sandy isle restores.

Then what alarm ! -s^hat danger and dismay,
If all their trust, their boat, should drift away ;
And once it happen'd — Gay the friends advanced.
They walk'd, they ran, they play'd, they sang, they danced ;
The urns were boiling, and the cups went round.
And not a grave or thoughtful face was found ;
On the bright sand they trod with nimble feet, —
Dry shelly sand that made the summer seat ;
Tho wondering mews flew fluttering o'er the head,
And waves ran softly up their shining bed.
Some form'd a party from the rest to stray,
Pleased to collect the trifles in their way ;
These to behold they call their friends around, —
No friends can hear, or hear another soimd ;
Alarm'd, they hasten, yet perceive not why ;
But catch the fear that quickens as they fly.

Forlo ! a lady sage, who paced the sand
With her fair children, one in either hand.
Intent on home, had turn'd, and saw the boat
Slipp'd irom her moorings, and now far afloat ;
She gazed, she trembled, and though faint her call,
It seem'd, like thunder, to confound them all.
Their sailor-guides, the boatman and his mate.
Had drunk, and slept regardless of their state :
"Awake !" they cried aloud ; "Alarm the shore !
Shout all, or never shall we reach it more ! "
Alas ! no shout the distant land can reach,
Nor eye behold them from the foggy beach :
Again they join in one loud poweriul cry,
Then cease, and eager listen for reply ;
None came — the rising wind blew sadly by :
They shout once more, and then they turn aside.
To see how quickly flow'd the coming tide ;
Between each cry they find the waters steal
On their strange prison, and new horrors feel ;
Foot after foot on the contracted ground
The billows fall, and dreadful is the soimd ;
Less and yet less the sinking isle became.
And there was wailing, weeping, wrath, and blame.

Had one liccn there, with spirit strong and high.
Who could observe, as ho prepared to die,
He might have seen of hearts tho varying kind.
And traced the movement of each difterent mind ;
He might have seen, that not the gentle maid
Was more than stern and haughty man afraid ;



THE BOROUGH — CLUBS, ETC. 149

Such, calmly grieving, will their fears suppress.
And silent prayers to mercy's throne address ;
While fiercer miiuis, impatient, anfrry, loud.
Force their vain grief on the reluctant crowd :



Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 17 of 49)