George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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The bloom is softer and more sweetly glows ; —
Pierced by no crime, and urged by no desire
For more than true and honest hearts require.
They feel the calm delight, and thus proceed
Thi-ough the green lane, —then linger in the mead, —
Stray o'er the heath in all its purple bloom, —
And pluck the blossom where the wild bees hum ;
Then through the broomy bound witli ease tlicy pass.
And press the sandy sheep-walk's slender grass.
Where dwarfish flowers among the gorse are spread,
And the lamb browses bj' the linnet's beil ;
Then 'cross the bounding brook they make their way
O'er its rough bridge — and there behold the bay ! —
The ocean smiling to the fervid sun —
The waves that faintly fall and slowly run —
The ships at distance and the boats at hand ;
And now they walk upon the seaside sand,
Counting the nmnber and what kind they be.
Ships soilly sinking in the sleepy sea :
Now arm in arm, now parted, they behold
The glitt'ring waters on the shingles roU'd :
The timid girls, half dreading their design,
Dip the small foot in the retarded brine,
And search for crimson weeds, which spreading flow.
Or lie like pictures on the sand below;
"With all those bright red pebbles, that the sun
Through the small waves so softly shines upon ;
And those live lucid jellies which the eye
Delights to trace as they swim glittering by :
Pearl-shells and rubied star-fish they admire.
And will arrange above the parlour-fire, —
Tokens of bliss ! — "Oh! horrible! a wave
Koars as it rises — save mo, Edward ! save !"
She cries : — Alas ! the watchman on his way
Calls, and lets in — truth, terror, and the day I



THE BOROUGH— SCHOOLS. 239



LETTER XXrV.

Be it a weakness, it deserves some praise, —

M'e luve tljc play-place of our early daj'S ;

The scL'iie is touching, and the heart is stone

That feels not at thut sight — and tetls at none.

The wall ou which we tried our graving sltill ;

The very name we carved subsisting still ;

The bench ou which we sat while deep employ'd.

Though mangled, hack'd. and hew'd, yet not destroy'd.

The little ones unbutton'd, glowing hut.

Playing our games, and on the ver> spot ;

As happy as we once to kneel and draw

The chalky ring and knuckle down at taw.

This iond attachment to the well-known place.

When first we started into life's long race.

Maintains its hold with such unfailing sway.

We feel it e'en in age and at our latest day.

COWPKR.

SCHOOLS.

Every kind to be found in the Borough — The School for Infants— The School Preparatorj' :
the Sagacity of the Mistress in foreseeing Character — Day-schools of the lower kind— A
Manter with Taleuti adapted to such Pupils : one of superior Qualifications- J!oarding-
schools : that for young Ladies ; one going first to tlie Governess, one finally returning
Home— School for Youth : AI:ister and Teacher ; various Dispositions and Caimcitiea —
The Miser-Boy — The Boy-Bully — Sons of Farmers : how amused — Wliat Study will
effect, examined — A College Life : one sent from his College to a Benefice ; one retained
there in Dignity— The Ad vantages in either case nut consideral)le— Where, then, the good
of a Literary Life ?— Answered— Conclusion.

To every class we have a school assign'd,
Rules for all ranks and food for evei'y mind :
Yet one there is, that small rej^ard to rule
Or study pays, and still is dceni'd a school :
That, where a deaf, poor, patient widow sits,
And awes some thirty infants as she knits ;
Infants of humble, busy wives, who pay
Some tiifiin{^ jirice for freedom through the day :
At this good matron's hut the children meet.
Who thus becomes the mother of the street :
Her room is small, they cannot widelj' stray ;
Her threshold high, they cannot run away :
1'hough deaf, she sees the I'cbel heroes shout ;
Though lame, her white rod nimbly walks about :
With band of yai-n she keeps offenders in.
And to her gown the sturdiest rogue can pin :
Aided by these, and spell.s, and tell-tale birds,
Her power they dread and reverence her words.

To learning's second seats we now proceed.
Where humming students gilded })riiners read ;
Or books with letters large and pictures gay,
To make their reading but a kind of play —
" Reading made easy," so the titles tell ;
But they who read must first begin to si)cll :
There may be profit in these arts, but still
Learning is labour, call it what you will ;
Upon the youthful mind a heavy load.
Nor must we hope to find the royal roftd.



240 crabbe's poems.

Some will their easy steps to science show,

And some to heav'n itself their bj'-way know ;

Ah ! trust them not, — who fame or bliss would share,

Must learn by labour, and must live by care.

Another matron, of superior kind.
For higher schools prepares the rising mind :
Preparatory she her learning calls,
The step first made to colleges and halls.

She early sees to what the mind will grow.
Nor abler judge of infant powers I know :
She sees what soon the lively will impede,
And how the steadier will in turn succeed ;
Observes the dawn of wisdom, fancy, taste.
And knows what parts will wear, and what will waste ;
She marks the mind too lively, and at once
Sees the gay coxcomb and the rattling dunce.

Long has she lived, and much she loves to trace
Her former pupils, now a lordly race ;
Whom when she sees rich robes and furs bedeck.
She marks the pride which once she strove to check.
A burgess comes, and she remembers well
How hard her task to make his worship spell ;
Cold, selfish, d\\\\, inanimate, unkind,
'Twas b\it by auger he display'd a mind :
Now civil, smiling, complaisant, and gay,
The world has worn the unsocial crust away :
That sullen spirit now a softness wears.
And, save by fits, e'en dulness disappears :
But still the matron can the man behold.
Dull, selfish, hard, inanimate, and cold.
A merchant passes, — " Probity and truth,
Prudence and patience, mark'd thee from thy youth."
Thus she observes, but oft retains her fears
For him, who now with name unstnin'd appears :
Nor hope relinquishes, for one who yet
Is lost in error and involved in debt ;
For latent evil in that heart she found.
More open hero, but here the core was sound.

Various fjur day-schools : here behold we one
Empty and still : — the morning duties done,
Soil'd, tatter'd, worn, and thrown in various heaps,
Appear their books, and there confusion sleeps ;
The workmen all are from the Babel fled.
And lost their tools, till the return they dread :
Meantime the master, with his wig awry,
Prepares his books for business by-and-by :
Now all the insignia of the monarch laid
Beside hiui, rest, and none stand \^y afraid ;
Ho, while liis troop light-hearted leap and play.
Is all intent on duties of the day ;
No more the tyrant stern, or ju<lge severe.
Ho feels the f ither's and the husband's fear.

Ah ! little think the tiniiil trembling crowd.
That one so wise, so powerful, and so proud,



THE BOROUGH— SCHOOLS. 241

Should feel himself, and dread the humble ills
Of rent-daj^ charges, and of coalman's bills :
That while they mercy from their judge implore,
Ho fears himself — a knocking at the door ;
And feels the burthen as his nei<jhbour states
His humble portion to the jjarish rates.

Thej- sit th' allotted hours, then eager run,
Rushing to pleasure when the duty 's done ;
His hour of leisure is of diiferent kind.
Then cares domestic rush upon his mind,
And half the ease and comfort he enjoys,
Is when surromided by slates, books, and boys.

Poor Reuben Dixon has the noisiest school
Of ragged lads, who ever bow'd to rule ;
Low in his price — the men who heave our coals.
And clean our causeways, send him boys in shoals ;
To see poor Reuben, with his fry beside, —
Their half-chcck'd rudeness and his half-scorn'd pride, —
Their room, the sty in which th' assombly meet,
In the cl(jse lane behind the Northgate-street ;
T' observe his vain attempts to keep the peace.
Till tolls the bell, and strife and troubles cease, —
Calls for our praise ; his labour praise deserves,
But not our pity ; Reuben has no nerves :
'Mid noise and dirt, and stench, and play, and prate.
He calmly cuts the pen or views the slate.

But Leonard /—yes, for Leonard's fate I grieve,
Who loathes the station which he dares not leave :
He cannot dig, he will not beg his bread,
All his de]iendence rests upon his head ;
And deeply skill'd in sciences and arts.
On vulgar lads he wastes superior p.arts.

Alas ! what grief that feeling mind sustains.
In guiding hands and stirring torpid br.ains ;
He whose proud mind from polo to pole will move.
And view the wonders of the worlds above ;
Who thinks and I'easons strongly : — hard his fate,
Confined for ever to the pen and slate :
True, he submits, and when the long dull day
Has slowly pass'd, in weary tasks, away.
To other worlds with cheerftd view he looks,
And parts the night between repose and books.

Amid his labours, he has sometimes tried
To turn a little from his cares aside ;
Pope, Milton, Drydcn, with delight has seized,
His soul engaged, and of his trouble eased ;
When, with a heavy eye and illdono sum.
No part conceived, a stupid boy will come ;
Then Leonard first subdues the rising frown,
And bids the blockhead lay his blunders down ;
O'er which disgusted ho will turn his eye ;
To his sad duty his sound mind apply,
And, vex'd in spirit, throw his ))lcasures by.

Turn wo to schools which more than these aflord—



crabbe's poems.

The sound instruction and the wholesome board ;
And first, our school tor ladies :— pity calls
For one soft sigh, when we behold these walls.
Placed near the town, and whore, fa-om window high,
The lair, confined, may our tree crowds espy,
With many a stranger gazing up and down.
And all the envied tumult of the town ;
May, in the smiling summer eve, when they
Are sent to sleep the pleasant hours away.
Behold the poor (whom they conceive the blest)
Employ'd lor hours, and grieved they cannot rest.
Here the fond girl, whose days are sad and few
Since dear mamma pronounced the last adieu,
Looks to the road, and fondly thinks she hears
The carriage-wheels, and struggles with her tears :
All yet is new, the misses, great and small,
Madam herseli, and teachers, odious all ;
From laug-hter, pity, nay command, she turns,
But melts in softness, or with anger burns ;
Nauseates her food, and wonders who can sleep
On such mean beds, where she can only weep :
She scorns condolence, but to all she hates
Slowly at length her mind accommodates !
Then 'looks on bondage with the same concern
As others lelt, and finds that she must learn
As others learn'd— the common lot to share,
To search for comfort, and submit to care.

There are, 'tis said, who on these seats attend.
And to these ductile minds destniction vend ;
Wretches (to virtue, peace, and nature, loes)
To these soft minds their wicked trash expose ;
Seize on the soul, ere passions take the sway,
And lead the heart, ere yet it feels, astray :
Smugglers obscene !— and can there be who take
Infernal pains the sleeping \-ice to wake ?
Can there be those by whom the thought dehlcd
Enters the spotless bosom ol a child V
By whom the ill is to the heart convey'd.
Who lend the ioe, not yet in arms, their aid ;
And sap the city walls bolore the siege be laid '.

Oh ! rather skulking in the by-ways steal,
And rob the poorest traveller of his meal ;
Burst through the huml)lest trader's bolted door ;
Bear from the widow's hut her winter's store ;
With stolen steed, on highways take your stand.
Your lips with curses ann'd, with death your hand ;
Take all but lilu —the virtuous more would say.
Take life itself, dear as it is, away,
Kather than guilty thus the guileless soul betray.

Years pass away — let us suppose them past,
Th' accomplish'd nymph ior freedom looks at last ;
All hardships over which a school contains,
Tlio spirit's bondage and the body's pains ;
Where teachers make the heartless, treiubhng set



THE BOROUGH— SCHOOLS. 2i3

Of pupils suffer for their own regret ;

Where winter's cold, attack'd by one poor fire,

Chills the fair child, commanded to retire :

She felt it keenly in the morning air.

Keenly she felt it at the evening prayer.

More pleasant summer ; but then walks were made,

Not a sweet ramble, but a slow parade ;

They moved by pairs beside the hawthorn hedge.

Only to set their feelings on an edge ;

And now at eve, when all their spirits rise.

Are sent to rest, and all their pleasure dies ;

Where yet they all the town alert can see.

And distant ploughboj's pacing o'er the lea.

These and the tasks successive masters brought —
The French they conn'd, the curious works they wz'ought ;
The hours they made their taper fingers strike
Note after note, all dull to them alike ;
Their drawings, dancings on aiipointed days.
Playing with globes, and getting parts of plays :
The tender friendships made 'twixt heart and heart,
When the dear friends had nothing to impart : —

All ! all ! are over ; now th' accomplish'd maid
Longs for the world, of nothing there afraid :
Dreams of delight invade her gentle breast.
And fancied lo\ers rob the heart of rest;
At the paternal door a carriage stands.
Love knits their hearts and Hymen joins their hands.
Ah ! world unknown ! how charming is thy view,
Thy pleasures many, and each pleasure new :
Ah ! world experienced ! what of thee is told ?
How few thy pleasures, and those few how old !

Within a silent street, and far apart
From noise of business, from a quay or mart.
Stands an old spacious buikling, and the din
You hear without explains the work within ;
Unlike the whispering of the nymphs, this noise
Loudly proclaims a " L)()ardin^''-School for Boys ;"
The master heeds it not, for tiiirty j'oars
Have render'd all familiar to his cars ;
He sits in comfort, 'mid the various sound
Of mingled tones for ever fiowing round :
Day after day he to his task attends, —
Unvaried toil, and care that never ends :
Boj's in their works proceed ; while his employ
Admits no change, or changes but the boy !
Yet time has made it ea.sy ; ho beside
Has power supreme, and power is sweet to prido :
But grant him pleasure ; what can teachers leei.
Dependent helj)ers always at the wheel ?
Their power despised, their compensation small,
Their labour dull, their life laborious all ;
Set after set the lower lads to make
Fit for the class which their siqieriors take ;
The road of learning for a time to track
B 2



244 crabbe's poems.

In roughest state, and then again go back :
Just the same way on other troops to wait, —
Attendants fix'd at leai-ning's lower gate.

The daj'-tasks now are o\'er — to their ground
Eush the ga)- crowd with joy-compelling sound ;
Glad to elude the burthens of the day,
The eager parties hurry to their play :
Then, in these hours of liberty, we find
The native bias of the opening mind ;
Thej' yet possess not skill the mask to place.
And hide the passions glowing in the face ;
Yet some are found — the close, the sly, the mean,
Who know already all must not be seen.

Lo ! one who walks apart, although so young.
He lays restraint ujion his eye and tongue,
Nor will he into scrapes or dangers get,
And half the school are in the stripling's debt :
Suspicious, timid, he is much afraid
Of trick and plot ; — he dreads to be bctray'd :
He shuns all friendship, for he finds they lend.
When lads begin to call each other friend :
Yet self with self has war ; the tempting sight
Of fruit on sale provokes his appetite ; —
See ! how he walks the sweet seduction by ;
That he is tempted, costs him first a sigh, —
'Tis dangerous to indulge, 'tis grievous to deny !
This he will choose, and whispering asks the price,-
The purchase dreadful, but the portion nice :
Within the pocket he explores the pence ;
Without, temptation strikes on either sense, —
The sight, the smell ; — but then he thinks again
Of money gone ! while fruit nor taste remain.
Meantime there comes an eager thoughtless boy,
Who gives the price and only feels the joy ;
Example dire ! the youthful miser stops
And slowly back the treasured coinage drops :
Heroic deed ! for should he now comply.
Can he to-morrow's appetite deny ?
Beside, these spendthrifts who so freely live,
Cloy'd with their purchase, will a portion give : —
Here ends debate, ho buttons up his store,
And feels the comfort that it burns no more.

Unlike to him the Tyrant-boy, whose sway
All hearts acknowledge ; him the crowds obey :
At his command they break through every rule ;
Whoever governs, he controls the school :
'Tis not the distant emperor moves their fear,
But the proud viccro}' who is ever near.

Verres could do that mischief in a day.
For which not l^me, in all its power, could pay ;
And these boy-tyrants will their slaves distress.
And do the wrongs no master can redress :
The mind they load with fear ; it feels disdain
For its own baseness ; yet it tries in vain



THE BOROUGH — SCHOOLS. 245

To shake th' admitted power : — the coward comes again :
'Tis more than present pain these t}Tants give.
Long as we've hfe, some strong impressions live ;
And these young ruffians in the soul will sow
Seeds of all vices that on weakness grow.

Hark ! at his word the trembHug younglings flee, —
Where he is walking none must walk but he ;
See ! from the winter fire the weak retreat.
His the warm corner, liis the favourite seat,
Save when he yields it to some slave to keep
Awhile, then back, at his return, to creep :
At his command his poor dependents fly,
And humbly bribe him as a proud ally ;
Flatter'd by all, the notice he bestows.
Is gross abuse, and bantering and blows ;
Yet he's a dunce, and, spite of all his fame
Without the desk, within he feels his shame :
For there the weaker boy, who felt his scorn.
For him corrects the blunders of the morn ;
And he is taught, unpleasant truth ! to find
The trembling body has the prouder mind.

Hark ! to that shout, that burst of empty noise,
From a rude set of blutf, obstreperous boys ;
They who, like colts let loose, with vigour bound,
And thoughtless spirit, o'er the beaten ground ;
Fearless they leap, and every youngster feels
His Alma active in his hands and heels.

These arc the sons of farmers, and they come
With partial fondness for the joys of home ;
Their minds are coursing in their fathers' fields,
And e'en the dream a lively pleasure yields ;
They, nmcli enduring, sit th' allotted hours.
And o'er a grammar waste their sprightly powers ;
They dance ; but them can measured steps delight.
Whom horse and hounds to daring deeds excite '(
Nor could they bear to wait fi'om meal to meal.
Did they not slily to the chamber steal,
And there the jiroduce of the basket seize.
The mother's gift ! still studious of their ease.
Poor Alma, thus opprcss'd forbears to rise,
But rests or revels in the arms and thighs.*

" But is it sure that study will rej)ay
The more attentive and forbearing '!" — Nay !
The farm, the ship, the humljle shiip, have each
Gains which severest studies seldom roach.

At college place a youth, who means to raise
His state by merit and his name by praise ;
Still much he hazards ; there is serious strife
In the contentions of a scholar's life :
Not all the mind's attention, care, distress,
Nor diligence itself, insure success :
His jealous heart a rival's powers may dread,

• SlioHld nny of my rcadurs fluil them»clvo« at a loss In this pliito, I beg lenre to lofer
Iwm to a poeuj of I'lior, called " Alma, or the I'rogrcua of tUc Mind."



2iQ crabbe's poems.

Till its strong feeling's have confused his head.
And, after days and moiuhs, nay, years of pain.
He finds just lost the object he would gain.

But grant him this and all such life can give.
For other prospects he begins to live ;
Begins to feel that man was form'd to look
And long for other objects than a book :
In his mind's eye his house and glebe he sees,
And farms and talks ^\ 1th farmers at his ease ;
And time is lost, till fortune sends him forth
To a rude world vmconscious of his worth :
There in some petty parish to reside,
The college boast, then turn'd the village guide :
And though awhile his flock and dairy please.
He soon reverts to former joys and ease.
Glad when a friend shall come to break his rest,
And speak of all the pleasures they possess'd.
Of masters, fellows, tutors, all with whom
They shared those pleasures, never more to come ;
Till both conceive the times by bliss endear'd,
Which once so dismal and so dull appear'd.

But fix our scholar, and suppose him crown'd
V/ith all the glory gain'd on classic ground ;
Suppose the world without a sigh resign'd.
And to his college all liis care confined ;
Give him all honours that such states allow.
The freshman's terror and the tradesman's bow ;
Let his apartments with his taste agree.
And all his views be those ho loves to see ;
Let him each day behold the savouiy treat.
For which he paj's not, but is paid to eat ;
These joys and glories soon delight no more.
Although, withheld, the mind is vex'd and sore ;
The honour, too, is to the place confined.
Abroad they know not each superior mind :
Strangers no wranglers in these figures see.
Nor give they worship to a high degree ;
Unlike the prophet's is the scholar's case.
His honour all is in his dwelling-])lace :
And there such honours are f amiUar things ;
What is a monarch in a crowd of kings?
Ijikc other sovereigns, he's by forms addrcss'd.
By statutes govern'd and with rules oppross'd.

When all these forms .and duties dio away.
And the day j)asses like the former day,
Then of exterior things at once bereft,
He's to himself and one attendant left ;
Nay, John too goes ; nor aught of service more
Remains for him ; he glatUy quits the door,
And, as he whistles to the college-gate,
He kindly pities his poor master's fate.

Books cannot always please, however good ;
Minds are not ever craving tor their food ;
But sleep will soon the weary soul prepare



THE BOROUGH — SCHOOLS. ' 2i7

For cares to-morrow that were this day's care :
For forms, for feasts, that simdry times have pass' J,
And formal feasts that will for ever last.

" But then from study will no comforts rise ?" —
Yes ? such as studious minds alone can prize ;
Comforts, yea ! — ^joys ineifable they find.
Who seek the prouder pleasures of the mind :
The soul, collected in those happy hours,
Then makes her efforts, then enjoys her powers ;
And in those seasons feels herself repaid
For labours past, and honours long delay'd.

No ! 'tis not worldly gain, although by chance
The sons of learning may to wealth advance ;
Nor station high, though in some favom-ing hou^'
The sons of learning may arrive at power ;
Nor is it glory, though the public voice
Of honest praise will make the heart rejoice :
But 'tis the mind's own feelings give the joy.
Pleasures she gathers in her own employ —
Pleasures that gain or praise cannot bestow,
Yet can dilate and raise them when they flow.

For this the poet looks the world around,
Where form and life and reasoning man are found ;
He loves the mind, in all its modes, to trace.
And all the manners of the changing race ;
Silent he walks the road of fife along.
And views the aims of its tumultuous throng ;
He finds what shapes the Proteus passions take,
And what strange waste of life and joy they make,
And loves to show them in their varied ways.
With honest blame or with miflattering praise ;
'Tis good to know, 'tis pleasant to impart.
These turns and movements of the human heart :
The stronger featui'es of the soul to paint,
And make distinct the latent and the faint ;
Man as he is, to place in all men's view,
Yet none with rancour, none with scorn pursue :
Nor be it ever of my portraits told —
" Here the strong lines of malice we behold."



This let me hope, that when in public view
I bring my pictures, men may feel them true :
" This is a likeness," may they all declare,
" And I have seen him, but I know not where ;
For I should mourn the mischiet I had done,
It as the likeness all would fi.\^ on one.



Man's vice and crime I combat as I can,
But to his Go» and conscience leave the man ;
1 search (a Quixote !) all the land about,
To find its giants and enchanters out —



248 crabbe's poems.

(The giant Folly, the enchanter Vice,

Whom dovibtless I shall vanquish in a trice) ;—

But is there man whom I would injure? — No !

I am to him a fellow, not a loe, —

A fellow-sinner, who must rather dread

The bolt, than hurl it at another's head.



Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 27 of 49)