George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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Yet left him not ; and with a kind of joy,
The mother heard of her desponding boy.
At length he sicken'd, and he found when sick,
All aid was ready, all attendance quick ;


A fever seized him, and at once was lost
The thought of trespass, error, crime, and cost :
Th' indulgent parents knelt beside the youth,
They heard his promise and believed his truth ;
And when the danger lessen' d on their view,
They cast oflf doubt, and hope assurance grew ; —
Nursed by his sisters, cherish'd by his sire,
Begg'd to be glad, encouraged to aspire.
His life, they said, would now all care repay,
And he might date his prospects from that day ;
A son, a brother to his home received,
They hoped for all things, and in all believed.

And now will pardon, comfort, kindness draw
The youth from vice ? — will honour, duty, law ?
Alas ! not all : the more the trials lent.
The less he seem'd to ponder and repent ;
Headstrong, determined in his own career.
He thought reproof unjust and truth severe ;
The soul's disease was to its crisis come.
He lirst abused and then abjured his home ;
And when he chose a vagabond to be,
He made his shame his glory — " I'll be free."

Friends, parents, relatives, hope, reason, love,
With anxious ardour for that empire strove ;
In vain their strife, in vain the means applied.
They had no comfort, but that all were tried ;
One strong vain trial made, the mind to move.
Was the last effort of parental love.

E'en then he watch'd his father from his home,
And to his mother would for pity come,
Where, as he made her tender terrors rise,
Ho talk'd of death, and threaten'd for supplies.

Against a youth so vicious and undone,
All hearts were closed, and every door but one :
The Plaj^ers received him ; they with open heart
Gave him his portion and assign 'd his part ;
And ere three days were added to his life,
He found a home, a duty, and a wife.

His present friends, though they were nothing nice.
Nor ask'd how vicious ho, or what his vice,
Still they expected he should now attend
To the joint duty as a useful friend ;
The leader too declared, with frown severe.
That none should pawn a robe that kings might wear ;
And much it moved him, when he Hamlet play'd.
To see his Father's Ghost so dnuiken made ;
Then too the temper, the unbending pride
Of this ally would no reproof abide : —
So leaving these, he march'd awa}' and join'd
Another troop, and other goods purloin'd ;
And other characters, both gay and sage,
Sober and sad, made stagger on tlio stage.
Then to rebuke with arrogant disdain,
He gave abuse, and sought a homo again.

170 crabbe's poems.

Thus changing scenes, but with unchanging vice.
Engaged by many, but with no one twice :
Of this, a last and poor resource, bereft.
He to himself, unhappy guide ! was left —
And who shall say where guided ? to what seats
Of starving villany ? of thieves and cheats ?

In that sad time of many a dismal scene
Had he a witness, not inactive, been ;
Had leagued with petty pilferers, and had crept
Where of each sex degraded numbers slept :
With such associates he was long allied,
Where his capacity for ill was tried,
And that once lost, the wretch was cast aside :
For now, though willing with the worst to act,
He wanted powers for an important fact ;
And while he felt as lawless sj^irits feel.
His hand was palsied, and he couldn't steal.

By these rejected, is their lot so strange.
So low ! that he could suffer by the change ?
Yes ! the new station as a fall we judge —
He now became the harlots' humble drudge,
Their drudge in common ! they combined to save
Awhile from starving their submissive slave ;
For now his spii-it left him, and his pride,
His scorn, his rancour, and resentment died ;
Few were his feelings — but the keenest these.
The rage of hunger, and the sigh for ease ;
He who abused indulgence, now became
By want subservient, and by misery tame ;
A slave, he begg'd forbearance ; bent with pain,
He shunn'd the blow, — "Ah ! strike mo not again."

Thus was he found : the master of a hoy
Saw the sad wretch whom he had known a boy ;
At first in doubt, but Frederick laid aside
All shame, and humbly for his aid applied :
He, tamed and smitten with the storms gone by,
Look'd for compassion through one living eye,
And stretch'd th' unpalsied hand : the seaman felt
His honest heart with gentle pity melt,
And his small boon with clicerfui frankness dealt ;
Then made inquiries of th' unhappy youth,
Who told, nor shame forbade liim, all the truth.

"Young Frederick Thompson, to a chandler's shop
By harlots order'd, and afraid to stop ! —
What ! our good merchant's favourite to be seen
In state so loathsome and in dress so mean ( " —

So thought the seaman as he bade adieu.
And, when in port, related all he knew.

But time vi'as lost, inquiry came too late.
Those whom he served knew nothing ot his fate ;
No ! they had seized on what the sailor gave.
Nor bore resistance from their abject slave.
The spoil obtain'd, they cast him from the door,
Eobb'd, beaten, hungry, pain'd, diseased, and poor.


Then Nature, pointing to the only spot
"Which still had comfort for so dire a lot,
Although so feeble, led him on the way.
And hope look'd forward to a happier day :
He thought, poor prodigal ! a father yet
His woes would pity and his crimes forget ;
Nor had he brother who with speech severe
Would check the pity or refrain the tear :
A lighter spirit in his bosom rose.
As near the road he sought an hour's repose.

And there he found it : he had left the town.
But buildings j^et were scatter'd up and down ;
To one of these, half-ruin'd and half-built.
Was traced this child of wretchedness and giiilt ;
There, on the remnant of a beggar's vest.
Thrown by in scorn, the sufierer sought for rest ;
There was this scene of vice and woe to close,
And there the wretched body found repose.


Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.— PoPi

There are a sort of men whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pool.
And do a wiiful stUlness entertain ;
With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion.
As who siiould say, " I am Sir Oracle,
And when I ope my lips let no dog bark."

Shakspeajie. — Merchant of Tetxin.


The fhigal Merchant— Eiralship in Modes of Fragality— Private Exceptions to the general
Manners— Almshouse builtr— Its Description- Founder dies— Six I'l-ustees- Sir Denya
Bnind, a Principal— His Eulogium in the Chronicles of the day— Truth reckoned in-
vidious on these Occasions— An Ex))lanatinn of the Magnanimity and Wisdom of Sir
Denys- His kinds of Moderation and Humility— Laugliton, his Successor, a planning,
ambitious, wealthy M;ui— Advancement in Life bis perpetual Object, and all things
make the means of it— His Idea of Falsehood— His IScsentment dangercius ; how re-
moved—Success produces Love of Flattery: his daily Gralitlcatiou— His Merits and
Acts of Kindness— His proper Choice of Almsmen- In this respect meritorious— His
PredeccsEor not so cautious.

Leave now our streets, and in yon plain behold

Those pleasant seats for the reduced and old ;

A merchant's gift, whose wife and children died.

When he to saving all his powers applied ;

Ho wore his coat till bare was every thread.

And with the meanest fare his body fed.

He had a female cousin, who with care

Walk'd in his steps, and learn'd of him to spare ;

With emulation and success they strove,

Improving still, still seeking to improve,

As it that useful knowledge they would gain —

How little food would human life sustain :

No pauper came their table's crumbs to crave ;


Scraping they lived, but not a scrap tbey gave :

When beggars saw the frugal merchant pass,

It moved their pity, and they said, "Alas !

Hard is thy fate, my brother," and they felt

A beggar's pride as they that pity dealt.

The dogs, who learn of man to scorn the poor,

Bark'd him away from every decent door ;

While they who saw him bare, but thought him rich,

To show respect or scorn, they knew not which.

But while our merchant seem'd so base and mean,
He had his wanderings, sometimes " not unseen ;"
To give in secret was a favourite act,
Yet more than once they took him in the fact.
To scenes of various woe he nightly went.
And serious sums in healing misery spent ;
Oft has he cheer' d the wretched at a rate
For which he daily might have dined on plate ;
He has been seen — his hair all silver white,
Shaking and shining — as he stole by night,
To feed unenvied on his still delight.
A twofold taste he had ; to give and spare.
Both were his duties, and had equal care ;
It was his joy to sit alone and fast.
Then send a widow and her boys repast :
Tears in his eyes would spite of him appep ~,
But he from other eyes has kept the tear :
All in a wint'ry night from far he came,
To soothe the sorrows of a suffering dame.
Whose husband robb'd him, and to whom he meant
A ling'ring, but reforming punishment :
Home then he walk'd, and found his anger rise
When fire and rushlight met his troul)led eyes ;
But these extinguish'd, and his prayer address'd
To Heaven in hope, he calmly sank to rest.

His seventieth year was past, and then was seen
A building rising on the northern green ;
There was no blinding all his neighbours' eyes,
Or surely no one would have seen it rise :
Twelve rooms contiguous stood, and six were near.
There men were placed, and sober matrons here :
There were behind small useful gardens made.
Benches before, and trees to give them shade ;
In the first room were seen above, below.
Some marks of taste, a few attempts at show.
The founder's picture and his arms were there
(Not till he left us), and an clbow'd chair ;
There, 'mid these signs of his superior place,
Sat the mild ruler of this humble race.

Within the row are men who strove in vain.
Through years ot troiible, wealth and ease to gain ;
Less must they have an ajipoiuted sum,
And freemen been, or hither must not come ;
They should be decent, and command repect,
(Though needing fortune), whom these doors protect,


And should for thirty dismal years have tried
For peace unfelt and competence denied.

Strange ! that o'er men thus train'd in sorrow's school,
Power must he held, and they must live by rule ;
Infirm, corrected by misfortunes, old.
Their habits settled and their passions cold ;
Of health, wealth, power, and worldly cai-es bere%
Still must they not at liberty be left ;
Theie must be one to rule them, to restrain
And gviide the movements of his erring train.

If then control imperious, check severe.
Be needed where such reverend men appear ;
To what would youth, without such checks, aspire,
Free the wild wish, uncurb'd the strong desire ?
And where (in college or in camp) they found
The heart ungovern'd and the hand unbound ?

His house endow'd, the generous man resign'd
All power to rule, nay, power of choice declined ;
He and the female saint survived to view
Their work complete, and bade the world adieu !

Sis are the guardians of this happy seat.
And one presides when they on business meet ;
As each expires, the five a brother choose ;
Kor would iSir Denys Brand the charge refuse ;
Ti-ue, 'twas beneath him, "but to do men good
Was motive never by his heart withstood : "
He too is gone, and they again must strive
To find a man in whom his gifts survive.
Now, in the various records of the dead.
Thy worth, Sir Denys, shall be weigh'd and read ;
There we the glory of thy house shall trace,
With each alliance of thy noble race.

Yes ! here we have him !— " Came in William's reign,
The Norman Brand ; the blood without a stain ;
From the fierce Dane and ruder Saxon clear,
Pict, Irish, Scot, or Cambrian mountaineer :
But the pure Norman was the sacred spring.
And he, Sir Denys, was in heart a king :
Erect in person and so firm in soul,
Fortune he seem'd to govern and control :
Generous as ho who gives his all away,
Pnident as one who toils for weekly pay ;
In him all merits were decreed to meet.
Sincere thovigli cautious, frank and yet discreet.
Just all his dealings, faithful every word.
His passions' master, and his temper's lord."

Yet more, kind dealers in decaying fame ?
His magnanimity you next proclaim ;
You give him learning, join'd with sound good sense.
And match his wealth with his benevolence ;
What hides the multitude of sins, you add.
Yet seem to doubt if sins ho ever had.

Poor honest Truth ! thou writ'st of living men.
And art a railor and detractor then :


They die, again to be described, and now
A foe to merit and mankind art thou !

Why banish Truth ? It injures not the dead.
It aids not them with flattery to be fed ;
And when mankind such perfect pictures view,
They copy less, the more they think them true.
Let us a mortal as he was behold.
And see the dross adhering to the gold ;
When we the errors of the virtuous state,
Then erring men their worth may emulate.

View then this picture of a nolDle mind.
Let him be wise, magnanimous, and kind ;
What was the wisdom ? Was it not the frown
That keeps all question, all inquiry down ?
His words were powerful and decisive all.
But his slow reasons came for no man's call.
" 'Tis thus," he cried, no doubt with kind intent,
To give i-esults and spare all argument : —

" Let it be spared — all men at least agree
Sir Denys Brand had magnanimity :
His were no vulgar charities ; none saw
Him like the Merchant to the hut withdraw ;
He left to meaner minds the simple deed.
By which the houseless rest, the hungry feed ;
His was a public bounty vast and grand,
'Twas not in him to work with viewless hand ;
He raised the Room that towers above the street,
A public room where grateful parties meet ;
He first the Life-boat plann'd ; to him the place
Is deep in debt — 'twas he revived the Race j
To every public act this heart}' friend
Would give with freedom or with frankness lend ;
His money built the Jail, nor prisoner yet
Sits at his ease, but he must feel the debt ;
To these let candour add his vast display ;
Around his mansion all is grand and gay,
And this is bounty with the name of pay."

I grant the whole, nor from one deed retract,
But wish recorded too the private act :
All these were great, but still our hearts approve
Those simpler tokens of the Christian love ;
'Twould give me joy some gracious deed to meet
That has not call'd for glory through the street :
Who felt for many, could not always shim.
In some soft moment, to be kind to one ;
And yet they tell us, when Sir Denys died,
That not a widow in the Borough sigh'd ;
Great were his gifts, his mighty heart I own.
But why describe what all the world has known ?

The rest is petty pride, the useless art
Of a vain mind to hide a swelling heart :
Small was his private room ; men found him there
By a plain table, on a paltry chair ;
A wretched floor-cloth, and some prints around,


The easy purchase of a single pound :

These humble trifles and that study small

Make a strong contrast with the servants' hall ;

There barely comfort, here a proud excess,

The pompous seat of pamper'd idleness,

Where the sleek rogues with one consent declare

They would not live upon his honour's fare ;

He daily took but one half-hour to dine,

On one poor dish and some three sips of wine ;

Then he'd abuse them for their sumptuous feasts.

And say, " My friends ! you make yourselves like beasts ;

One dish suflBces any man to dine.

But you are greedy as a herd of swine ;

Learn to be temperate." Had they dared t' obey,

He would have praised and turn'd them all away.

Friends met Sir Denj's riding in his ground,
And there the meekness of his spirit found :
For that grey coat, not new for many a year.
Hides all that would like decent dress appear ;
An old brown pony 'twas his will to ride.
Who shuflQed onward, and from side to side ;
A five-pound purchase, but so fat and sleek.
His very plenty made the creature weak.

" Sir Denys Brand ! and on so poor a steed ! "
" Poor ! it may be — such things I never heed :"
And who that youth behind, of pleasant mien,
Equipp'd as one who wishes to be seen.
Upon a horse, twice victor for a plate,
A noble hunter, bought at dearest rate 1 —
Him the lad fearing, yet resolved to guide.
He curbs his spirit, while he strokes his pride.

" A handsome youth, Sir Denys ; and a horse
Of finer figure never trod the course, —
Yours, without question ? " — "Yes ! I think a groom
Bought me the boast ; I cannot say the sum.
I ride him not ; it is a foolish pride
Men have in cattle — but my people ride ;
The boy is — hark ye, sirrah ! what's your name ?
Ay, Jacob, yes ! I recollect — the same ;
As I bethink me now, a tenant's son —
I think a tenant, — is your father one ?"

There was an idle boy who ran about,
And found his master's humble spirit out ;
He would at awful distance snatch a look.
Then run away and hide him in some nook ;
" For oh ! " quoth he, " I dare not fix my sight
On him, his grandeur puts me in a fright ;
Oh ! Mister Jacob, when you wait on him,
Do you not quake and trcinblo every limb ?"

The steward soon had orders — "bummers, s"0
That Sam bo clothed, and let him wait on nic."

Sir Denys died, bequeathing all affairs
In trust to Laucjhton's long-cxpcrionced cares ;


Before a guardian, and Sir Deuys dead,
All rule and power devolved upon his head.
Numbers are call'd to govern, but in fact
Only the powerful and assuming act.

Laughton, too wise to be a dupe to fame.
Cared not a whit of what descent he came,
Till he was rich ; he then conceived the thought
To fish for pedigree, but never caught :
A 11 his desire, when he was young and poor,
Was to advance ; he never cared for more :
" Let me buy, sell, be factor, take a wife.
Take any road to get along in life."

Was he a miser, then ? a robber ? foe
To those who trusted ? a deceiver ? — No !
He was ambitious ; all his powers of mind
Were to one end controlld, improved, combined ;
Wit, learning, judgment, were, by his account,
Steps for the ladder he design'd to mount ;
Such step was money : wealth was but his slave.
For power he gain'd it, and for power he gave :
Fall well the Borough knows that he'd the art
Of bringing money to the surest mart ;
Friends, too, were aids, — they led to certain ends, —
Increase of power, and claim on other friends.
A favourite step was marriage : then he gain'd
Seat in our hall, and o'er his jjart}"^ rcign'd ;
Houses and lands he bought, and long'd to buy,
But never drew the springs of purchase dry ;
And thus at last they answer'd every call.
The failing found him ready for their fall :
He walks along the street, the mart, the quay,
And looks and mutters, " This belongs to me."
His passions all partook the general bent ;
Interest inform'd him when he should resent.
How long resist, and on what terms relent :
In points where he determined to succeed,
111 vain might reason or compassion plead ;
But gain'd his point, he was the best of men,
'Twas loss of time to be vexatious then :
Hence ho was mild to all men whom he led,
Of all who dared resist, the scourge and dread.

Falsehood in him was not the useless lie
Of boasting pride, or laughing vanity :
It was the gainful — the persuading art,
That made its way and won the doubting lieart.
Which argued, soften'd, liiinililed, and prevail'd.
Nor was it tried till oveiy truth had fail'd ;
No sage on earth could more than ho despise
Degrading, poor, unj)rofitable lies.

Though fond of gain, and grieved by wanton waste.
To social parties he had no distaste :
With one presiding purpose in his view.
He .sometimes could descend to tritio too !
Yet, in these moments, he had still the art


To ope the looks and close the guarded heart ;
And, like the public host, has sometime made
A grand repast, for which the guests have paid.

At length, with power endued and wealthy grown.
Frailties and passions, long suppress'd, were shown :
Then to provoke him was a dangerous thing,
His pride would punish, and his temper sting :
His powerful hatred sought th' avenging hour,
And his proud \engeance struck with all his power.
Save when th' ofiender took a prudent way
The rising storm oi fury to allay :
This might he do, and so in safety sleep.
By largely casting to the angry deep ;
Or, better yet (its swelling force t' assuage),
By pouring oil of flattery on its rage.

And now, of all the heart approved, possess'd,
Fear'd, favour'd, foUow'd, dreaded, and caress'd.
He gently yields to one mellifluous joy.
The only sweet that is not found to cloy,
Bland adulation ! — other jileasures pall
On the sick taste, and transient are they all ;
But this one sweet hath such enchanting power,
The more we take, the faster we devour :
Naufjeous to those who must the dose apply.
And most disgusting to the standers-by ;
Yet in all companies will Laughton feed.
Nor care how grossly men perform the deed.

As gapes the nursling, or, what comes more near.
Some Friendly-Island chief, for hourly cheer ;
When wives and slaves, attending round his seat,
Prepare by turns the masticated meat :
So for this master, husband, parent, friend,
His ready slaves their various efforts blend.
And, to their lord still eagerly inclined.
Pour the crude trash of a dependent mind.

But let the Muse assign the man his due :
Worth he possess'd, nor wore his virtues fcw ; —
He sometimes help'd the injured in their cause ;
His power r.nd purse have l)aek'd the failing laws ;
He for religion has a duo respect.
And all his serious notions are correct ;
Although he pray'd and languish'd for a son.
He grew rcsign'd when Heaven denied him one ;
He never to this quiet mansion .sends
Subject unfit, in compliment to friends :
Not so Sir Denys, who would yet protest
Ho always chose the worthiest and the best :
Not men in trade by various loss brought down,
But those glory once amazed the town.
Who their last guinea in their pleasures spent,
Yet never fell so low as to repent :
To these his pity ho could largely deal, —
Wealth they had known, and therefore want could feel.

Thi-eo seats were vacant while Sir Dcnys reign'd,


178 crabbe's roEMs.

And three such favourites tlieir admission gaili'd
These let us view, still more to understand
The moral leelintrs ol Sir Donvs Brand.


Behold what blessing wealth to life can lend.— Pope.


Blaney, a we.aUliy Heir, dissipated, and reduced to Poverty — His fortune restored hy
Marriage; again con8»med—Hi5 Manner of Living in the West Indies — Recalled to a
larger Inheritimce— His more refined and exi>ensive Luxuries — His Method of quieting
Conscience — Death oi his Wife — Again become iwor— His Method of supjKjrting Ex-
istence—His Ideas of Eeligion — His Habits and Connections when old — Admitted into
the AUu3house.

Observe that tall pale veteran ! what a look
Of shame and guilt ! — who cannot read that hook ?
Misery and mirth are blended in his face,
Much innate vileness, and some outward grace :
There wishes strong, and stronger griefs are seen,
Looks ever changed, and never one serene :
Show not that manner, and these features all,
The serpent's cunning, and the sinner's fall ?

Hark to that laughter ! — 'tis the way he takes
To force applause for each vile jest he makes ;
Such is yon man, by partial favour sent
To calm seats to ponder and repent.

Blaney, a wealthy heir at twenty-one,
At twentj'-five was ruin'd and undone ;
These years with grie\ous crimes we need not load,
He found his ruin in the common road ! —
Gamed without skill, without inquiry bought,
Lent without love, and borrow'd without thought.
But gay and handsome, he had soon the dower
Of a kind wealthy widow in his power :
Then he aspired to loftier flights of vice,
To singing harlots of enormous price :
He took a jockey in his gig to buy
A hor.'se so valued that a duke was shy :
To gain the plaudits of the knowing few.
Gamblers and grooms, what would not Blaney do ?
His dearest fiieiid, at that imjiroving age,
Was Hounslow Dick, who drove the western stage.

Cruel he was nut- if he left his wife,
He left her to her own pursuits in life ;
Deaf to reports, to all expenses blind,
Profuse, not just, and careless, but not kind.

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 20 of 49)