George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

. (page 22 of 49)
Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 22 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Bounds of all kinds he hated, and had felt
Choked and impiison'd in a modern belt,
Which some rare genius now has twined about
The good old .house, to keep old neighbours out.
Along his valleys, in the evening hours.
The borough damsels str.ay'd to gather flowers ;
Or by the brakes and brushwood of the park,



THE BOROUGH— THE ALMSHOUSE, ETC. ]89

To take their pleasant rambles in the dark.

" Some prades, of rigid kind, forbore to call
On the kind females — favourites at the hall ;
But better nature saw, with much delight,
The different orders of mankind unite.
'Twas schooling pride to see the footman wait,
Smile on his sister, and receive her plate.

" His worship ever was a churchman true,
He held in scorn the Methodistic crew ;
' May (iod defend the Church and save the king,'
He'd pray devoutly, and divinely sing.
Admit that he the holy day would spend
As priests approved not, still he was a friend :
Much then I blame the preacher, as too nice,
To call such trifles by the name of vice ;
Hinting, though gently, and with cautious speech.
Of good example — 'tis their trade to preach.
But still 'twas pity, when the worthy squire
Stuck to the Church, what more could they require 1
'Twas almost joining that fanatic crew,
To throw such morals at his honour's pew ;
A weaker man, had he been so reviled,
Had left the place — he only swore and smiled.

" But think, ye rectors and ye curates, think.
Who are your friends, and at their frailties wink ;
Conceive not, mounted on your Sunday throne.
Your firebrands fall upon your foes alone ;
They strike your patrons— and should all withdraw
In whom your wisdoms may discern a flaw,
You would the flower of all your audience lose,
And spend your crackers on their empty pews.

"The father dead, the son has found a wife.
And lives a formal, proud, unsocial life ;
The lands are now inclosed ; the tenants all,
Save at a rent-day, never see the hall ;
No lass is sufter'd o'er the walks to come,
And if there's love, they have it all at home.

" Oh ! could the ghost of our good squire arise.
And .sec such chanj;e, — would it believe its eyes?
Would it not glide about from place to place.
And mourn the manners of a feebler race ?
At that long table, where the servants found
Mirth and abvmdance while the year went round ;
Where a huge pollard on the winter fire
At a huge distauce made them all retire ;
Whore not a measure in the room was kept,
And but one rule— they tij>pled till their slept, —
There would it sec a pale old hag preside,
A thing made up of stinginess and pride ;
Who carves the meat, as if the flesh could feel,
Carcle-ss whoso flesh must miss the plenteous meal ;
Here would the ghost a small coal tiro behold,
Not fit to keep one body from the cold ;
Then would it flit to higher rooms, and stay



IPO crabbe's poems.

To view a dull, dress'd company at play ;
All the old comfort, all the j^enial fare
For over gone ! how sternly would it stare ;
And though it might not to their view appear,
'Twould cause among them lassitude and fear ;
Then wait to see — where he delight has seen —
The dire effect of fretfulness and spleen.

" Such were the worthies of these better days ;
We had their blessings — thej' shall have our praise.

"Of Captain Dowling would you hear me speak ?
I'd sit and sing his pi'aises for a week :
He was a man, and man-like all his joy ;
I'm led to question was he ever boy ;
Beef was his breakfast ; if from sea, and salt.
It relish'd better with his wine of malt ;
Then, till he dined, if walking in or out.
Whether the gravel teased him or the gout,
Though short in wind and flannell'd every limb,
He drank with all who had concerns with him :
Whatever trader, agent, merchant, came,
They found him ready, every hour the same ;
Whatever liquors might between them pass.
He took them all, and never balk'd his glass ;
Nay, with the seamen working iu the ship,
At their request, he'd share tlie grog and flip.
But in the club-room was his chief delight,
And punch the favourite liquor of the night ;
Man after man they from the trial shrank,
And Dowling ever was the last who drank.
Arrived at home, he, ere he sought his bed.
With pipe and brandy would compose his head ;
Then half an hour was o'er the news beguiled,
When he retired as harmless as a child.
Set but aside the gravel and the gout,
And breathing short — his sand ran (airly out.

"At fifty-five we lost him — after that
Life grows insipid, and its pleasures flat.
He had indulged in all that man can have.
He did not drop a dotard to his grave :
Still to the la.st, his feet upon the chair.
With rattling lungs now gone beyond repair ;
When on each feature Death had fix'd his stamp.
And not a doctor could the body vamp ;
Still at the last, to his beloved bowl
He clung, and cheer'd the sadness of his soul ;
For though a man may not have much to fear,
Yet <lcath looks ugly when the view is near :
' I go,' ho said, ' but still my friends shall say
'Twas as a man — I did not sneak away ;
An honest life with worthy souls I've spent, —
Come, fill my glass !'— he took it, and he went.

" Poor Dolly Murray ! I might live to sco
My hundredth year, but no such lass as she.
Easy by nature, in hor humour gay,



THE BOROUGH— HOSPITAL AND GOVERNORS. 191

She chose her comforts, ratafia and play ;
She loved the social game, the decent glass,
And was a jovial, friendly, laughing lass ;
We sat not then at whist demure and still.
But pass'd the pleasant hours at gay quadrille :
Lame in her side, we placed her in her seat.
Her hands were free, she cared not for her feet ;
As the game ended, came the glass around
(So was the loser cheer' d, the winner crown'd).
Mistress of secrets, both the young and old
In her confided— not a tale she told ;
Love never made impression on her mind,
She held him weak, and all his captives bhnd ;
She sutfer'd no man her free soul to vex,
Free from the weakness of her gentle sex ;
One with whom ours unmoved conversing sate.
In cool discussion or in free debate.

" Once in her chair we'd placed the good old lass,
Where first she took her preparation-glass ;
By lucky thought she'd been that day at prayers.
And long before had fix'd her small affairs ;
So all was easy — on her cards she cast
A smiling look ; I saw the thought that pass'd :
' A king,' she call'd — though conscious of her skill,
' Do more,' I answer'd — ' More,' she said, ' I will ; '
And more she did — cards answer'd to her call,
She saw the mighty to her mightier fall :
' A vole ! a vole ! ' she cried, ' 'tis fairly won.
My game is ended, and my work is done.'
This said, she gently, with a single sigh.
Died as one taught and practised how to die.

' ' Such were the dead departed ; I survive,
To breathe in pain among the dead alive."
The boll then call'd these ancient men to pray,
''Again ! " said Benbow, — " tolls it every day ?
Where is the Ufe I led f " — lie sigh'd and walk'd his way.



LETTER XVII.

" Blesned is tlip m.an who providcth for the sick ami needy : the Uinl '<h.ill doluer him
in time of trouhle."

THE HOSPITAL AND GOVERNORS.

ChrL^ti.^n Charity iinx Ions to provide for future as well m present Miseries— Hence the
Hiapltjil for the Oise.-uied— Description of a recovered Piitieiit— The Building : liuw
erected- The Patroiii! and Oovcrnors— Kugebius— The more active M.uiager of ISuhineiui a
moral and correct Contributor— One of diUcrent Description— Good the Result, however
mt^nuixed with Imperfection.



An ardent spirit dwells with Christian love,
The eagle's vigour in the pitying dove ;
'Tis not inough that we with sorrow sigh,
That we the wants of ijleading man supply,



132 crabbe's poems.

That we in sympatby with sufferers feel,
Nor hear a grief without a wish to heal ;
Not these suffice — to sickness, pain, and woe,
The Christian spirit loves with aid to go ;
Will not be sought, waits not for want to plead,
But seeks the duty — nay, prevents the need ;
Her utmost aid to every ill applies.
And plans relief for coming miseries.

Hence yonder building rose : on either side
Far stretch'd the wards, all airy, warm, and wide ;
And every ward has beds by comfort spread,
And smooth'd for him who suffers on the bed :
There all have kindness, most relief, — for some
Is cure complete ; it is the sufferer's home :
Fevers and chronic ills, corroding pains.
Each accidental mischief man sustains !
Fractures and wounds, and wither'd limbs and lame.
With all that, slow or sudden, vex our frame.
Have here attendance ; here the sufferers lie
(Where love and science every aid apply).
And heal'd, with rapture live, or soothed by comfort die.

See ! one relieved from anguish, and to-day
Allow'd to walk and look an hour away ;
Two months confined by fever, frenzy, pain.
He comes abroad and is himself again :
'Twas in the spring when carried to the place,
The snow fell down and melted in his face.

'Tis summer now ; all objects gay and new,
Smiling alike, the viewer and the view ;
He stops as one unwilling to advance.
Without another and another glance ;
With what a pure and simple joy he sees
Those sheep and cattle browsing at their ease ;
Easy himself, there's nothing breathes or moves.
But he would cherish — all that lives he loves :
Observing every ward as round he goes.
He thinks what pain, what danger they inclose ;
Warm in his wish for all who suffer there.
At every view he meditates a prayer :
No evil counsels in his breast abide.
There joy, and love, and gratitude reside.

The wish that Roman necks in one were found.
That ho who torm'd the wish might deal the wound.
This man had never heard ; but of the kind.
Is that desire which rises in his mind ;
He'd have all English hands (for lurther ho
Cannot conceive extends our charity),
All but his own, in one right hand to grow, '

And then what hearty shake would ho bestow !

" How rose the building i " — Piety first iiiid
A strong foundation, but she wanted aid ;
To Wealth unwieldy was her prayer addross'd,
Who largely gave, and she the donor bloss'd :
Unwieldy Wealth then to hia couch withdi-ew,



THE BOROUGH — HOSPITAL AND GOVERNORS. 103

And took the sweetest sleep he ever knew.

Then busy Vanity sustain'd her part,
"And much," she said, '• it moved her tender heart ;
To her all kinds of man's distress wore known,
And all her heart adopted as its own."

Then Science came — his talents he display'd.
And Charity with joy the dome survey'd !
Skill, Wealth, and Vanity, obtain the fame,
And Piety, the joy that makes no claim.

Patrons there are, and governors, fi'om whom
The greater aid and guiding orders come ;
Who voluntary cares and labours take.
The sufl'erei-s' servants for the service' sake ;
Of those, a part I give you — but a part ;
Some hearts arc hidden, some have not a heart.

First let me praise — for so I best shall paint
That pious moralist, that reasoning saint !
Can I of worth like thine, Eusebius, speak ?
The man is willing, but the Muse is weak :
'Tis thine to wait on woe ! to soothe ! to heal !
With learning social, and polite with zeal :
In thy jiure breast although the passions dwell,
They're train'd by Virtue, and no more rebel ;
But have so long been active on her side,
That passion now might be itself the guide.

Law, conscience, honour, all obey'd ; all give
Th' approving voice, and make it bliss to live ;
While faith, when life can nothing more supply,
Shall strengthen hope, and make it bliss to die.

He preaches, speaks, and writes with manly sense,
No weak neglect, no labour'd eloqiience ;
Goodness and wisdom are in all his ways.
The ru'lo revere him and the wicked praise.

Upon humility his virtues grow.
And tower so high because so fix'd below ;
As wider spreads the oak his boughs aroimd.
When deeper with his roots ho digs the solid ground.

By him, from ward to ward, is every aid
The sufferer neeils, with every care convcy'd :
Like the g<iod tree he brings his treasure forth,
And, like the tree, unconscious of his worth :
Meek as the poorest Publican is ho,
And strict as lives the straitost Pharisee ;
Of both, in him unite the better part,
The V)lanieless conduct .and the humble heart.

Yet he escapes not ; ho, with some, is wis6
In carnal things, and loves to moralize :
Others can doubt if all that Christian caro
Has not its price — there's something he may share :
But this and ill severer he sustains,
As gold the fire, and as unhurt remains ;
When most reviled, although ho feels the smart,
It wakes to nobler deeds the wounded heart.
As the rich olive, beaten for its fruit,

O



194 crabbe's poems.

Puts forth at every bruise a bearing shoot.

A second friend we have, whose care and zeal
But few can equal — few indeed can feel ;
He lived a lite obscure, and profits made
In the coarse habits of a vulgar trade.
His brother, master of a hoy, he loved
So well, that he the calling disapproved :
" Alas ! poor Tom ! " the landman oft would sigh
When the gale treshen'd and the waves ran high ;
And when they parted, with a tear he'd say,
" No more adventure ! — here in safety stay."
Nor did he feign ; with more than half he had
He would have kept the seaman, and been glad.

Alas ! how lew resist, when strongly tried —
A rich relation's nearer kinsman died ;
He sicken'd, and to him the landman went,
And all his hours with cousin Ephraim spent.
This Thomas heard, and cared not : " I," quoth ho,
" Have one in port upon the watch for me."
So Ephraim died, and when the will was shown,
Isaac, the landman, had the whole his own :
Who to his brother sent a moderate purse,
Which he return'd in anger, with his eurse ;
Then went to sea, and made his grog so strong.
He died before he could forgive the wrong.

The rich man built a house, both large and high,
He enter'd in and set him down to sigh ;
He planted ample woods and gardens lair.
And walk'd with anguish and compunction there :
The rich man's pines, to every friend a treat,
He saw with pain, and he refused to eat ;
His daintiest food, his richest wines, were all
Turn'd by remorse to vinegar and gall :
The softest down by living body press'd,
The rich man bought, and tried to take his rest ;
But care had thorns upon his pillow spread.
And scatter'd sand and nettles in his bed :
Nervous he grew, — would often sigh and groan.
He talk'd but little, and he walk'd alone ;
Till by his priest convinced, that from one deed
Of genuine love would joy and health proceed.
He from that time with care and zeal began
To seek and soothe the grievous ills of man ;
And as his hands their aid to grief apply.
He learns to smile and he forgets to sigh.

Now he can drink his wine .and taste his food,
And feel the blessings Heaven has dealt arc good ;
And, since the suffering seek the rich man's door,
He sleeps as soundly as when young and poor.

Here much he gives— is urgent more to gain ;
Ho begs^rieh beggars seldom sue in vain :
Preachers most iamcd he moves, the crowd to move.
And never wearies in the work of love :
He rules all business, settles all affairs ;



i



THE BOROUGH-HOSPITAL AND GOVERNORS. 195

He makes collections, he directs repairs •

Th^LtT'l''^''^ °"*' brother. -Heaven forgive
1 lie man by whom so many brethren live !

Then 'mid our signatures, a name appears.
Of one for wisdom famed above his years •
And these were forty : he was from his youth
A patient searcher after useful truth •
To language little of his time ho gave
lo science less, nor was the Muse's slave •
bober and grave his college sent him do^u,
A fair example lor his native town

You d think a Socrates or Solon there •

For though a Christian, he's disposed to draw

- Know" r"' 'T'^" ' """^ ^^'^ "^ture's law.
Virfnr', ''^^\'''^™«' "my fellow mortals, know
Virtue alone is happiness below •

And what is virtue ? prudence first to choose
Li es real good,-the evil to refuse •
Add justice then, the eager hand to hold,
To curb the lust of power and thirst of gold •

A nH f ?•? T""" "''^*' '^''^^t ^-^^^erful health insures
And fortitude unmoved, that conquers or endures"

He speaks, and lo !-the very n an you see
Prudeu and temperate, just and patie^nt he, '

No follv wn V^"^^*^ ^"' .^^'°'-^^"^ ^"^^^Ith to keep,
No folly wastes no avarice swells the heap ■

He no man s debtor, no man's patron lives •'

Save sound advice, he neither asks nor gives ;

By no vam thoughts or erring fancy sway'd.

His words are weighty, or at least are weigh'd •

Temp rate in every place-abroad, at home '

Thence will applause, and hence v^ill pro^t come •

And health from eithei-he in time prepares '

But ^iT'l- "^'''. ''?];^ '^""- •'^"^"'^^^"t cares
But not for fancy's ills ; -he never grieves
For love that wounds or friendship that deceives
H s patient sou endures what Helven ordaUr
But neither feels nor fears ideal pains. '

Al Jf ""if/ • "^^l" ^''''^'''^ •" '■^ '"'^n so wise ? "_

Alas !— I think he wants infirmities :

He wants the ties that knit us to ou^ kind-

?twruld h''?''^' '''''' -"^Pla-nt mind,
ihat would the feelings, which he dreads excito
And make the virtues he approves del <dit '

ThoJln^'^r'^l''' '"^'"'i '-^"'l patriots feel,

Are^icelv T'^ .'-and see a man whose cares
Are nicely placed on either world's allairs —

SwiTJh a "' 'rt ' '"'^ ^'''"^''"' it 1. e kn'ows
Of ho/h ) ^'^,'^°™t he most reganl bestows ;

Of .r "n ^ ' ^T' ^'' ^'^'^fe'*^'- ■- the-" >'o reads
Of gainful ventures and of godly deeds •



196 crabbe's poems.

There all he gets or loses find a place,
A lucky bargain and a lack of grace.

The joys above this prudent man invito
To pay his tax — devotion ! — day and night ;
The pains of hell his timid bosom awe,
And force obedience to the Church's law ;
Hence that continual thought, — that solemn air,
Those sad good works, and that laborious prayer.

All these (when conscience, wakcn'd and afraid,
To think how avarice calls and is obey'd)
Ho in his journal finds, and for his grief
Obtains the transient opium of relief,

" Sink not, my soul ! — my spirit, rise and look
O'er the fair entries of this precious book :
Here are the sins, our debts ; — this fairer side
Has what to carnal wish our strength denied ;
Has those religious duties every day
Paid, — which so few upon the Sabbath pay ;
Here too are conquests over frail desires,
Attendance due on all the Churcli reqiures ;
Then alms I give — for I believe the word
Of holy writ, and lend unto the Lord,
And if not all th' importunate demand,
The fear of want restrains my ready hand :
— Behold ! what sums I to the j^oor resign.
Sums placed in Heaven's own book, as well as mine :
Rest then, my spirit ! — fastings, prayers, and alms
Will soon suppress these idly-raised alarms.
And weigh'd against our frailties, set in view
A noble balance in our favour due :
Add that I yearly here affix my name.
Pledge for large payment — not fiom love of fame,
But to make peace within ; — that peace to make.
What sums I lavish ! and what gains forsake !
Cheer up, my heart ! let's cast off every doubt,
Pray without dread, and jilace our money out."

Such the religion of a mind that steers
Its way to bliss, between its hopes and fears ;
Whose passions in due bomids each other keep.
And thus s>ib(hied, they murmur till they sleep ;
Whose virtues all their certain limits know.
Like well-dried herbs that neither fade nor gi'OW J
Who for success and safety ever tries.
And with both woilds alternately complies.

Huch are tlie Guardians of this bless'd estate,
Whate'er without, they're praised within the gate ;
That they are men, and have their faults, is true ;
But here their woi-th alone a]ipears in view :
The Muse indeed, who reads the very breast.
Has something of the secrets there oxpress'd,
But j'ct in charity ; — and when she sees
Such means for joy oi- comfort, health or ease,
And knows how much united minds effect,
She almost dreads their failings to detect ;



THE BOROUGH— THE POOR, ETC. 197

But Truth commands : — in man's eiToneous kind.
Virtues and trailties mingle in the mind,
Happy ! — wlien ieara to public spirit move,
And even vices, to the work ot love.



LETTER XVIII.

Bhow not to the poor thy pride.

Let their home a cott.ige he ;
Nor the feeble body hide

In a palace fit fur thee ;

Let him not about him see
Lofty ceilings, ample halls,

Or a gate his boundary be,
Where nor friend or kinsman caXis.

Let him not one walk behnld,

That only one which he must tread.
Nor a chamber large and cold,

Where the aged and sick are led ;

Better far his humble shed,
Humble aheds of neighbours by.

And the old and tatter'd bed,
Where he sleeps and hopes to die.

To qvjit of torpid sluggishness the c;ive,
And from the powerful arms of sloth be freR,
'Tis rising from the de;wl— Alas ! it cannot be.

Tno^LMti.— Castie of Jndolence,

THE POOR AND THEIR DWELLIxN'GS.

The Method of treating the Borough Paupers — Many maintained at their own Dwellings^
Bomo Charactei-H of the Poor— The Schoolmistress, when aged — The Idiot— The poo
Bailor — The declined Tiudesman and his Companion— This contr.usted with the Main
tenance of the Fnor in a common Mansion erected by tho Hundred — The Objections t»
this iilL'tliod : not VVant, nor (_'ruelty, but the necessiiry Evils of this Mode— What they
are— In.st,iuces of the Evil — A Keturn to the Dorongb Poor— The Dwellings of these —
The LiiRes and By ways— No Attention here paid to Convenience— The Pools in the Path-
ways—Amusements of Seaport Children— The Town Flora — Herbs on Walls and vacant
8pact*«— A Female InhahiUuit of an Alley — A large Building let to several poor lu-
hahitauts — Their Mannei*s and Habits.

Yes ! we've our Borough vices, and I know
How far they spread, how rapidly they grow ;
Yet think not Virtue quits tlie busy place.
Nor Charity, the virtues' crown and grace.

'' Oar Poor, how feed we ?" — To tlie most we give
A weekly dole, and at their lionies tliey live ; —
Others together dwell, — but when they come
To the low roof, they see a kind of home,
A social people whom they've ever known,
With their own thoui^hts, and manners like their own.

At her old house, her dress, her air the same,
I see mine ancient letterdoving dame :
*' Learning, my child," said she, *' shall fame command ;
Learning is better worth than house or land :
For houses ficrish, lands are gone and spent ;
Li learning then excel, lor that's must excellent."

** And what her learning .- " — 'Tis with awe to look
In every verse throughout one sacred book ;
From this her joy, her hope, her peace is sought ;



198 cbabbe's poems.

This she has learn'd, and she is nobly taught.

If aught of mine have gaiii'd the public ear ;
If Rutland deigns these humble tales to hear ;
If critics pardon what my friends approved,
Can I mine ancient widow pass vmmoved ?
Shall I not think what pains the matron took.
When first I trembled o'er the gilded book ?
HovF she, all patient, both at eve and morn,
Her needle pointed at the guarding horn ;
And how she soothed me, when, with study sad,
I labour 'd on to reach the final zad ?
Shall I not grateful still the dame survey,
And ask the Muse the poet's debt to pay ?

Nor I alone, who hold a trifler's pen,
But half our bench of wealthy, weighty men,
Wlio rule our Borough, who enforce our laws ;
They own the matron as the leading cause,
And feel the pleasing debt, and pay the just applause :
To her own house is borne the week's supply ;
There she in credit lives, tliere hopes in peace to die.

With her a harmless idiot we behold.
Who hoards up silver shells for shining gold :
These he preserves, with unremitted care.
To buy a seat, and reign the Borough's mayor :
Alas ! — who could th' ambitious changeling tell.
That what he sought our rulei-s dared to sell ?

Near these a sailor, in that hut of thatch
(A fish-boat's cabin is its nearest match).
Dwells, and the dungeon is to him a seat.
Large as he wishes — in his view complete :
A lockless coffer and a lidless hutch.
That hold his stores, have room for twice as much :
His one spare shirt, long glass, and iron box,
Lie all in view ; no need has he lor locks :
Here he abides, and, as our strangers pass,
He shows the shipping, he presents the glass ;
He makes (unask'd) their ports and business known.
And (kindly heard) turns quickly to his own,
Of noble captains, heroes every one, —
You might as soon have made the steeple run ;
And then his messmates, if you're pleased to stay.



Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 22 of 49)