George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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Next, but not near, yet honour'd through the town.
There swing, incongruous pair ! the BearM\<\. Croioi :
That Crown suspended gems and ribands deck,
A golden chain hangs o'er that furry neck :
Unlike the nobler beast, the Bear is bound.
And with the Crown so near him, scowls uncro^ra'd ;
Less his dominion, but alert are all
Without, within, and ready for the call ;
Smart lads and light nm nimbly here and there.
Nor for neglected duties mourns the Bear.


To his retreats, on the election-day.
The losing party found their silent way ;
There they partook of each consoling good,
Like him uncrown'd, like him in sullen mood —
Threat'uing, but bound. — Here meet a social kind,
Our various clubs for various cause combined ;
Nor has he pride, but thankful lakes as gain
The dewdrops shaken from the Lion's mane :
A thriving couple here their skill display.
And share the profits of no vulgar sway.

Third in our Borough's list appears the sign
Of a fair queen — the gracious Caroline ;
But in decay — each feature in the tace
Has stain of time, and token of disgrace.
The storm of winter, and the summer sun,
Have on that form their equal mischief done ;
The features now are all disfigured seen,
And not one charm adorns th' insulted queen.
To this poor face was never paint applied,
Th' unseemly work of cruel Time to hide ;
Here we may rightly such neglect upbraid.
Paint on such faces is by prudence laid.
Large the domain, but all within combine
To coiTCspond with the dishonour'd sign ;
And all aroimd dilapidates ; you call —
But none replies — they're inattentive all :
At length a ruin'd stable holds your steed,
While you through large and dirty rooms proceed,
Spacious and cold ; a proof they once had been
In honour, — now magnificently mean;
Till in some small half-furnish'd room you rest,
Whose dying fire denotes it had a guest.
In those you pass'd, where former splendour reig^'d,
You saw the carpets torn, the paper stain'd ;
Squares of discordant glass in windows fix'd,
And paper oil'd^in many a space betwixt ;
A soil'd and broken sconce, a mirror crack'd,
With table underpropp'd, and chairs new back'd ;
A mai'ble side-slab with ten thousand stains.
And all an ancient tavern's poor remains.

With much entreaty, they yoiu- food prepare.
And acid wine aflord, with meagre fare ;
Heartless you sup ; and when a dozen times
You've read the fractured window's senseless rhymes,
Have been assured that Phosbe Green was fair.
And Peter Jackson took his supper there ;
You reach a chilling chamber, whore you dread
Damps, hot or cold, from a tremendous bed ;
Late comes your sleep, and you are waken'd soon
By rustling tatters of the old iestoou.

O'er this largo building, thus by time defaced,
A servile couple has its owner placed,
Who not immindful that its stylo is large,
To lost magnilicenco adapt their charge :

160 crabbe's poems.

Thus an old beauty, who has long declined,
Keeps formei- dues and dignity in mind ;
And wills that all attention should be paid
For graces vanish'd and for charms decay'd.

Few years have pass'd, since brightly 'cross the way,
Lights from each window shot the lengthen'd ray.
And busy looks in every face were seen,
Through the warm precincts of the reigning queen ;
There fires inviting blazed, and all around
Was heard the tinkling bells' seducing sound ;
The nimble waiters to that sound from far
Sprang to the call, then hasten'd to the bar ;
Where a glad priestess of the temple sway'd,
The most obedient, and the most obey'd ;
Rosy and round, adorn'd in crimson vest,
And flaming ribands at her ample breast ;
She, skiil'd like Circe, tried her guests to move
With looks of welcome and with words ot love ;
And such her potent charms, that men unwise
Were soon transform'd and fitted for the sties.

Her port in bottles stood, a well-stain'd row,
Drawn for the evening from the pipe below ;
Three powerful spirits fiU'd a parted case.
Some cordial bottles stood in secret place ;
Fair acid fruits in nets above were seen.
Her plate was splendid, and her glasses clean ;
Basins and bowls were ready on the stand.
And measures clatter'd in her powerful hand.

Inferior houses now our notice claim.
But who shall deal them their appropriate fame ?
Who shall the nice, yet known distinction, tell.
Between the Peal complete and single Bell f

Determine j^e, who on your shining nags
Wear oil-skin beavers, and bear seal-skin bags ;
Or ye, grave topers, who with coy delight
Snugly enjoy the sweetness of the night ;
Ye travellers all, superior inns denied
By moderate purse, the low by decent pride ;
Come and determine, — will you take your place
At the full Orb, or half tho lunar Face ?
With the Black Hoy or Angel will ye dine ?
Will ye ajiprove the Fountain or the Vine7
Horses the White or Black will ye prefer ?
The Silver Siran or Swa/i opposed to her —
Rare bird ! whose form the ravcn-])lumago decks,
And graceful curve her three alluring necks ?
All these a decent entertainment give,
And by their comforts comfortably life.

Shall I pass by the Boar I — there are who cry,
" Beware the Boar," and pass determined by :
Those dreadful tusks, those little peering eyes
And churning chaps, are tokens to the wise.
There dwells a kind old aunt, and there you sco
Some kind young nieces in her company ;


Poor village nieces, whom the tender dame

Invites to town, and gives their beauty fame ;

The grateful sisters feel th' important aid.

And the good aunt is flatter'd and repaid.

What, though it ma}' some cool observers stiike.

That such fair sisters should be so imlike ;

That still another and another comes.

And at the matron's table smiles and blooms ;

That all appear as if they meant to stay

Time undefined, nor name a parting day ;

And yet, though all are valued, all are dear,

Causeless they go, and seldom more appear.
Yet let Suspicion hide her odious head,

And Scandal vengeance fi-om a burgess dread ;

A pious friend, who with the ancient dame

At sober cribbage takes an evening game ;

His cup beside him, through their play he quaffs.

And oft renews, and innocently laughs ;

Or growing serious, to the text resorts,

And ii-om the Sunday sermon makes reports ;

While all, with grateful glee his wish attend,

A grave protector and a powerful friend :

But Slander says, who indistinctly sees.

Once he was caught with Sylvia on his knees ; —

A cautious burgess with a careful wife

To be so caught ! — 'tis false, upon my hfe.
Next are a lower kind, yet not so low

But they, among them, their distinctions know ;

And when a thriving landlord aims so high.

As to exchange the Chequer for the Pye,

Or from Duke William to the Dog repairs.
He takes a finer coat and fiercer airs.

Pleased with his power, the poor man loves to say
What favourite inn shall share his evening's pay ;
Where he shall sit the social hour, and lose
His past day's labours and his next day's views.
Our seamen too have choice ; one takes a trip
In the warm cabin of his favourite iikip ;
And on the morrow in the humbler Boat
He rows till fancy feels herself afloat ;
Can ho the sh^n— Three Jolly Sailors — pass.
Who hears a fiddle, and who sees a lass ?
The A rickor too affords the seaman joys.
In small smoked room, all clamour, crowd, and noise :
Where a curved settle half surrounds the fire.
Where fifty voices purl and punch require ;
They come for pleasure in their leisure hour.
And they enjoy it to their utmost power ;
Standing they drink, they swearing smoke, while all
Call, or make ready for a second call :
There is no time for trifling — " Do ye see ?
We drink and drub the French extempore."

See ! i-ound the room, on every beam and bulk
Are mingled scrolls of hieroglyphic chalk ;


162 crabbe's roEiis.

Yet nothing heeded — would one stroke suffice
To blot out all, here honour is too nice, —
" Let knavish landsmen think such dirty things.
We're British tars, and British tars are kings."

But the Green Man shall 1 pass by unsung,
Which mine own James upon his sign-post hung ?
His sign his image, — for he once was seen
A squire's attendant, clad in keeper's green ;
Ere yet, with wages more and honour less.
He stood behind me in a graver dress.

James in an evil hour went forth to woo
Young Juliet Hart, and was her Romeo :
They'd seen the play, and thought it vastly sweet
For two j'oung lovers by the moon to meet ;
The nymph was gentle, of her favours free.
E'en at a word — no Rosalind was she ;
Nor, like that other Juliet, tried his truth
With — " Be thy purpose marriage, gentle youth?"
But him received, and heard his tender tale
When sang the lark, and when the nightingale :
So in few months the generous lass was seen
I' the way that all tlie Capulets had been.

Then first repentance seized the amorous man,
And— shame on love ! — he reason'd and he ran ;
The thoughtful Romeo trembled for his purse,
And the sad sounds, "for better and for worse."

Yet could the lover not so far withdraw,
But he was haunted both by Love and Law ;
Now Law dismay'd him as he view'd its fangs.
Now Pity seized him for his Juliet's pangs ;
Then thoughts of justice and some dread of jail.
Where all would blame him, and where none might bail ;
These drew him back, till Juliet's hut appear'd,
Where love had drawn him when he should have fear'd.

There sat the father in his wicker throne.
Uttering his curses in tremendous tone :
With foulest names his daughter he reviled.
And look'd a very Herod at the child ;
Nor was she patient, but with equal scorn
Bade him remember when his Joe was born :
Then rose the mother, eager to begin
Her plea for frailty, when the swain came in.

To him she turn'd, and other theme began,
Show'd him his boy, and bade him bo a man :
"An honest man, who, when he breaks tho laws,
Will make a woman honest if there's cause."
With lengthen'd speech she proved what came to pass
Was no reflection on a loving lass :
" II she your love as wife and mother claim,
What can it matter which was first tho name ?
But 'tis most base, 'tis perjury and theft.
When a lost girl is like a widow left ;

The rogue who ruins " here the father found

His spouse was treading on forbidden ground.


" That's not the point," quoth he ; "I don't suppose
My good friend Fletcher to be one of those :
What's done amiss he'll mend in proper time —
I hate to hear of villany and crime :
'Twas ray misfortune, in the days of youth.
To find two lasses pleading for m}^ truth ;
The case was hard, I would with all my soul
Have wedded both, but law is our control :
So one I took, and when we gain'd a home,
Her friend agreed — what could she more ? — to come ;
And when she found that I'd a widow'd bed.
Me she desired — what could I less ? — to wed.
An easier case is yours : you've not the smart
That two fond pleaders cause in one man's heart.
You've not to wait from year to year distress' d,
Before your conscience can be laid at rest ;
There smiles j'our bride, there sprawls j'our new-born son —
A ring, a license, and the thing is done."

" My loving James," — the lass began her plea,
" I'll make thy reason take a part with me ;
Had I been froward, skittish, or unkind.
Or to thy person or thy passion blind ;
Had I refused, when 'twas thy part to pray,
Or put thee off with promise and delay ;
Thou mightst in justice and in conscience fly,
Denying her who taught thee to deny :
But, James, with me thou hadst an easier task,
Bonds and conditions I forbore to ask ;
I laid no traps for thee, no plots or plans,
Nor marriage named by license or by banns ;
Nor would I now the parson's aid employ,
But for this cause," — and up she held her boy.

Motives like these could heart of flesh resist ?
James took the inf int and in triumph kiss'd ;
Then to his mother's arms the child restored,
Made his proud speech, and pledged his worthy word.

" Three times at church our banns shall publish'd be.
Thy health be drunk in Vjumpers three times three ;
And thou shalt grace (bcdeck'd in garments gay)
The christening-dinner on the wedding-day. '

James at my door then made his parting bow.
Took the Green Man, and is a master now.

u 2



These are monarchs none respect.

Heroes, yet an hnnibled crew,
Kobles, whom the crowd correct.

Wealthy men, whom duns pursue ;
Beauties, shrinking from the view

01 the day's detecting eye ;
Lovers, who with much ado
L lUg-forsaken damsels woo.

And heave the Ul-leign'd sigh.

These are misers, craving means

Of existence through the day,
F tmous scliolars, conning scenes

Of a dull bewildering play ;
Kagged beaux and misses grey,

Wliom the rabble pniise and blame ;
Proud and mean, and and gay.
Toiling after ease, are they.

Infamous,* and boasting fame.


They arrive in the Borough — Welcomed by their former Friends — Are better fitted for
Comic than Tragic Scenes : yet better approved in the latter by one Part of tlu-ir
Audience — Their general <'har,aeter and Pleasanti-y— Particular Distresses and Labours —
Their Fortitude and Patience — A private Rehearsal — The Vanity of the aged Actress — A
Heroine from the Milliner's Shop — A deluded Tradesman — Of what Persons the Com-
pany is comjiosed^Character and Adventures of Frederick Thompson.

Dra'W'n by the annual call, we now behold

Our Troop Dramatic, heroes known of old,

And those, since last they march'd, enlisted and enroll'd :

Mounted on hacks or borne in waggons some,

The rest on foot (the humbler brethren) come.

Three favour'd places, an unequal time,

Join to support this company sublime :

Ours for the longer period — see how light

Yon parties move, their former fi'ionds in sight,

Whose claims are all allow'd, and friendship glads the night.

Kow public rooms shall sounil ■with words divine,

And private lodgings hear how heroes shine ;

No talk of pay shall yet on })leasnre steal.

But kindest welcome bless the friendly meal ;

While o'er the social jug and decent cheer.

Shall be described the fortunes of the year.

Peruse these bills, and see what each can do, —
Behold ! the prince, the slave, the monk, the Jew ;
Change but the garment, and they'll all engage
To take each part, and act in every ago ;
Cull'd from all houses, what a house are they !
Swept from all barns, our Borough-critics say ;
But with some jiortion of a critic's ire,
We all endure them ; there are some admire ;
They might have praise confined to farce alone ;
Full Well they grin, they should not try to groan ;
But then our servants' and our scamen'i? wives
Love all that rant and rapture as their lives :

• strolling playeri are thus held in a legal sease.


He who Squire Richard's part could well sustain,

Finds as King Richard he must roar amain —

" My horse ! my horse ! "— Lo ! now to their abodes,

Come lords and lovers, empresses and gods.

The master-mover of these scenes has made

No trifling gain in this adventurous trade ;

Trade we may term it, for he duly buys

Arms out of use and undirected eyes ;

These he instructs, and guides them as he can.

And vends each night the manufactured man :

Long as our custom lasts they gladly stay,

Then strike their tents, like Tartars ! and away !

The place grows bare where they too long remain,

But grass will rise ere they return again.

Children of Thespes, welcome ! knights and queens !
Counts! barons! beauties! when before your scenes.
And mighty monarchs thund'ring from your throne ;
Then step behind, and all your glory 's gone :
Of crown and palace, throne and guards bereft.
The pomp is vanish'd and the care is left.
Yet strong and lively is the joy they feel.
When the full house secures the plenteous meal ;
Flatt'ring and flatter'd, each attempts to raise
A brother's merits for a brother's praise :
For never hero shows a prouder heart.
Than he who proudly acts a hero's part ;
Nor without cause ; the boards, we know, can yield
Place for fierce contest, like the tented field.

Graceful to tread the stage, to be in turn
The pnnce we honour, and the knave we spurn ;
Bravely to bear the tumult of the crowd,
The hiss tremendous, and the censure loud :
These are their parts, — and ho who these sustains.
Deserves some praise and profit fcjr his pains.
Heroes at least of gentler kind are they.
Against whose swords no weeping widows pray.
No blood their fury sheds, nor havoc marks their way.

Sad happy race ! soon raised and soon depress'd.
Your days all pass'd in jeopardy and jest ;
Poor without prudence, with afflictions vain,
Not warn'd by misery, not enrich'd by gain :
Whom Justice, pitying, chides from place to place,
A wandering, careless, wretched, merry race,
Who cheerfid looks assume, and play the pares
Of happy rovers with repining hearts ;
Then cast off care, and in the mimic pain
Of tragic woe feel spirits light and vain,
Distress and hope — the mind's tiio body's wear.
The man's affliction, and the actor's tear :
Alternate times of fasting and excess
Are yours, ye smiling children of distress.

Slaves though ye be, your wand'ring freedom seome,
And with your varying views and restless schemes,
Your griefs are trp.nsient, as your joys are dreams.

166 crabbe's poems.

Yet keen those gi-iefe — ah ! what avail thy charms.
Fair Juliet ! what that infant in thine arms ;
What those heroic lines thy patience learns.
What all the aid thy present Romeo earns,
Whilst thou art crowded in that lumbering wain
With all thy plaintive sisters to complain '!

Nor is there lack of labour — To rehearse,
Day after day, poor scraps of prose and verse ;
To bear each other's spirit, pride, and spite ;
To hide in rant the heart-ache of the night ;
To dress in gaudy patchwork, and to force
The mind to think on the appointed course ; —
This is laborious, and may be defined
The bootless labour of the thriftless mind.

There is a veteran dame : I see her stand
Intent and pensive with her book in hand ;
Awhile her thoughts she forces on her part.
Then dwells on objects nearer to the heart ;
Across the room she paces, gets her tone,
And fits her features for the Danish throne ;
To-night a queen — I mark her motion slow,
I hear her speech, and Hamlet's mother know.

Methinks 'tis pitilul to see her try
For strength of arms and energy of eye ;
With vigour lost, and spirits worn away,
Her pomjj and pride she labours to display ;
And when awhile she's tried her part to act,
To find her thoughts arrested by some fact ;
When struggles more and more severe arc seen,
In the plain actress than the Danish queen, —
At length she feels her part, she finds delight.
And fancies all the j^laudits of the night ;
Old as she is, she smiles at every speech,
And thinks no youthful part beyond her reach.
But as the mist of vanity again
Is blown away, by press of present pain.
Sad and in doubt she to her jjurse applies
For cause of comfort, where no comfort lies :
Then to her task she sighing turns again —
" Oh ! Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain ! "

And who that poor, consumj3tive, wither'd thing.
Who strains her slender throat and strives to sing ?
Panting for breath and forced her voice to drop.
And far unlike the inmate of the shop.
Where she, in youth and health, alert and gay,
Laugh'd off at night the labours of the day ;
With novels, veiscs, fancy's fertile powers.
And sister-converse pass'd the evening hours ;
But Cynthia's soul was soft, her wishes strong.
Her judgment weak, and her conclusions wrong :
The morning call and counter were her dread.
And her contempt the needle and the thread ;
But when she read a gentle damsel's part,
Her woe, her wish ! she had them all by heart.


At length the hero of the boards drew nigh.
Who spake of love till sigh re-echo'd sigh ;
He told in honej^'d wortls his deathless flame.
And she his own by tender vows became ;
Nor ring nor license needed souls so fond,
Alfonso's passion was his Cynthia's bond :
And thus the simple girl, to shame betraj''d,
Sinks to the grave forsaken and dismay'd.

Sick without pity, sorrowing without hope,
See her ! the grief and scandal of the troop ;
A %vretched martyr to a childish pride,
Her woe insulted, and her praise denied ;
Her humble talents, though derided, used ;
Her prospects lost, her confidence abused ;
All that remains — for she not long can brave
Increase of evils — is an early grave.

Ye gentle Cynthias of the shop, take heed
What dreams ye cherish, and what books ye read !

A decent sum had Peter Nottaqe mado
By joining bricks — to him a thriving trade :
Of his employment master and his wife,
This humble tradesman led a lordly life ;
The house of kings and heroes lack'd repairs.
And Peter, though reluctant, served the pla3'ers :
Connected thus, he heard in way polite, —
" Come, Master Nottage, see us play to-night."
At first 'twas folly, nonsense, idle stuff ;
But seen for nothing it grew well enough ;
And better now — now best, and every night,
In this fool's paradise he drank delight ;
And as he felt the bliss, he wish'd to know
Whence all this rapture and these joys could flow ;
For if the seeing could such pleasure bring,
What must the feeling ? — feeling like a king?

In vain his wife, his uncle, and his friend.
Cried, "Peter ! Peter ! lot such follies end ;
'Tis well enough these vagabonds to see,
But would you partner with a showman be ? "

" Showman ! " said Peter, " did not Quin and Clive,
And Roscius-Garrick by the science thrive ?
Showman ! — 'tis scandal ; I'm by genius led
To join a class who've Shakspeare at their head."

Poor Peter thus by easy steps became
A dreaming candidate for scenic fame,
And, after years consumed, iiifh-m and poor,
He sits and takes the tickets at the door.

Ot various men these marching troops are made, —
Pon-spurning clerks, and lads contemning trade ;
Waiters and servants by confinement teased.
And youths of wealth by dissipation eased ;
With feeling nymphs, who, such resource at hand,
Scorn to obey the rigoiu' of command ;
Some, who from higher views by vice are won.
And some of either sex by love undone ;

168 crabbe's poems.

The greater part lamenting as their fall,
What some an honour and advancement call.

There are who names in shame or fear assume,
And hence our Bevilles and our Savilles come ;
It honours him, from tailor's board kick'd down.
As Mister Dormer to amuse the town ;
Falling, he rises : but a kind there are
Who dwell on former prospects, and despair ;
Justly but vainly they their fate deplore.
And mourn their fall, who fell to rise no more.

Our merchant Thompson, with his sons around,
Most mind and talent in his Frederick found :
He was so lively, that his mother knew.
If he were taught, that honour must ensue ;
The father's views were in a difi'erent line, —
But if at college, he were sure to shine.
Then should he go — to prosper who could doubt ?
When schoolboy stigmas would be all wash'd out ;
For there were marks upon his youthful face,
'Twixt vice and error — a neglected case —
These would submit to skill ; a little time,
And none could trace the error or the crime ;
Then let him go, and once at college, he
Might choose his station — what would Frederick be ?

'Twas soon determined — He could not descend
To pedant laws and lectures without end ;
And then the chapel — night and morn to pray.
Or mulct and threaten'd if he kept away ;
No ! not to be a bishop — so he swore.
And at his college he was seen no more.

His debts all paid, the father, with a sigh.
Placed him in office — " Do, my Frederick, try :
Confine thyself a few short months, and then — "
He tried a fortnight, and threw down the pen.
Again demands were hush'd : " My son, 3'ou're free,
But you're unsettled ; take your chance at sea :"
So in few days the midshipman, equipp'd.
Received the mother's blessing, and was shipp'd.

Hard was her fortune ! soon compell'd to meet
The wretched stripling staggering through the street ;
For, rash, impetuous, insolent, and vain.
The captain sent him to his friends again :
About the Borough roved th' uuliappy boy,
And ate the bread of every chance employ !
Of friends he borrow'd, and the parents yet
In secret fondness autliorizeil the debt ;
The younger sister, still a child, was taught
To give with fei^n'd aflright the pittance sought ;
For now the father cried — " It is too late
For trial more — I leave him to Ins fate ;"

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 19 of 49)