George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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At other timer, with every word at will.
He now sat lost, perplcx'd, astonish'd, still.

Hero were Socinians, Deists, and indeed


All who, as foes to England's Church agreed ;
But still with creeds unlike, and some without a creed :
Here, too, fierce friends of liberty he saw,
Who own'd no prince, and who obey no law •
There were reformers of each difierent sort, '
Foes to the laws, the priesthood, and the court ;
Some on their favourite plans alone intent,
Home purely angry and malevolent :
The rash were proud to blame their country's laws ;
The vain, to seem supporters of a cause ;
One call'd for change, that he would dread to see •
Another sigh'd for Gallic liberty ! '

And numbers joining with the forward crew.
For no one reason— but that numbers do.
^ " How," said the Justice, " can this trouble ri::e,
This shame and pain, from creatures I despise ? "
And conscience answer'd— " The prevailing cause
Is thy delight in listening to applause ;
Here, thou art seated with a tribe, who spurn
Thy favourite themes, and into laughter turn
Thy tears and wishes : silent and obscure.
Thyself, shalt thou the long harangue endure •
And learn, by feeling, what it is to force
On thy unwilling friends the long discourse :
What though thy thoughts be just, and these, it soema,
Are traitors' projects, idiots' empty schemes ;
Yet minds, like bodies, cramm'd, reject their fjod,
Nor will be forced and tortured for their good I "

At length, a sharp, shrewd, sallow man arose.
And begg'd he briefly might his mind disclose ;
"^It was his duty, in these worst of times,
T' inform the govern'd of their rulers' crimes : "
This jjleasant subject to attend, they each
Pi-ejiared to listen, an<l forbore to teach.

Then voluble and fierce the wordy man

Through a long chain of favourite horrors ran :

First of the Church, from whose enslaving power
He was deliver' d, and ho bless'd the hour";
" Bishops and deans, and prebendaries all,"
He said, " were cattle fatt'ning in the stall ;
Slothful and pursy, insolent and mean,
Were every bishop, prebendary, dean.
And wealthy rector : curates, poorly paid.
Were only dull ; ho would not them upbraid."

From priests he turn'd to canons, creed.s, and prnycrs,
Kubncs and rules, and all our Church aifairs ;
Churches themselves, desk, piilpit, altar, all
The Justice reverenced — ai:d pronounced their fall.

Then from religion Ifnw.noiid turn'd his view
To give our rulers the correction due ;
Not one wise action had these trifloi-s plann'il ;
There was, it seem'd, no wisdom in the l.-ind,
Save in this patriot tribe, wlio meet at times
To show the statesman's errors and his crimes.


258 crabbe's roEMS.

Now here vpas Justice Bolt compell'd to sit,
To hear the deist's scorn, the rebel's wit ;
The iuct misstated, the envenom'd ho.
And, staring spellbound, made not one reply.

Then were our laws abused— and with the laws,
All who prepare, defend, or judge a cause : ^_
" We have no lawyer whom a man can ti-ust,
Proceeded Hammond—" if the laws were just ;
But they are evil ; 'tis the savage state
Is only good ; and ours sophisticate !
See • the free creatures in their woods and plains,
Where without laws each happy monarch reigns.
King of himself— while we a number dread.
By slaves commanded and by dances led :
Oh, let the name with either state agree— ^^

Savage our own we'll name, and civil theirs shall be.

' Th'e silent Justice still astonish'd sat,
And wonder'd much whom he was gazing at ;
Twice he essav'd to speak— but in a cough
The taint, indignant, dying speech went ott :
" But who is this? " thought he— "a demon vile,
With wicked meaning and a vulgar style :
Hammond they call him : they can give the name
Of man to devils. Why am I so tame ?
Why crush I not the viper ? " Fear replied, _
" Watch him awhile, and let his strength be tried :
He will be foil'd, if man ; but if his aid
Be from beneath, 'tis well to be afraid. ^_ , , , , . ^^
"We are call'd free !" said Hammond- "doleful times,
When rulers add their insult to their crimes ;
For should our scorn expose each powcrlul vice,
It would be libel, and we pay the price.-'

Thus with licentious words the man went on,
Proving that liberty of speech was gone ;
That all were slaves— nor had wc better chance
For better times, than as allies to Franco.

Loud groan'd the stranger— why, he must relate,
And owiVd, " In sorrow for his country's fate ;
"Nay she were safe," the ready man replied,
" Might patriots rule her, and could reasoncrs guide ;
When all to vote, to speak, to teach, are tree,
Whatc'er their creeds or their oj)nnons be ;
When books of statutes arc consumed m flames,
And courts and copvholds are empty names ;
Then will be times of joy— but ere tboy come,__
Havoc, and war, and tilood must be our doom.

The man here paused— tlicn loudly for rctorm
He call'd, and hail'd the prospect of the storm :
The wholesome blast, the tertilizing flood—
Peace gain'd by tumult, plenty bought with blood :
Sharp means, he own'd ; but when the land's disease
A.sks cure complete, no med'cmes are hke those.

Our Justice now, more led by fear than rage,
Saw it in ^■ain with madness to engage ;


With imps of darkness no man seeks to fight,

Knaves to instiaict, or set deceivers right :

Then as the daring speech denounced these woes,

Sick at the soul, the grieving guest arose ;

Quick on the board his ready cash he threw,

And from the demons to his closet flew :

There when secured, he pray'd with earnest zeal,

That all thef' wish'd these patriot souls might teel ;

" Let thum to France, their darling country, haste.

And all the comforts of a Frenchman taste ;

Let them his safet}', freedom, pleasure know,

Feel all their rulers on the land bestow ;

And be at length dismiss'd by one unerring blow,—

Not hack'd and hew'd by one afraid to strike,

But shorn by that which shears all men alike ;

Nor, as in Britain, let them curse delay

Of law, but borne without a form away —

Suspected, tried, condemn'd, and cai'ted in a day ;

Oh ! let them taste what they so much approve,

These strong fierce freedoms of the land they love." *

Home came our hero, to forget no more
The fear he felt and ever must deplore :
For though he quickly join'd his friends again.
And could with decent force his themes maintain.
Still it occurr'd that in a luckless time.
Ho fail'd to fight with heresy and crime ;
It was observed his woi-ds wore not so strong,
His tones so powerfiil, his harangues so long.
As in old times — for he would often drop
The lofty look, and of a suildun stop ;
When conscience whispcr'd, that he once was still,
And let the wicked triumph at their will ;
And therefore now, when not a foe was near.
He had no right so valiant to appear.

Some years had pass'd, and he perceived his fears
Yield to the spirit of his earlier years —
When at a meeting, with his friends beside.
He saw an object that awakeil his pride ;
His shame, wrath, vengeance, indignation — all
Man's harsher feelings did that siglit recall.

For, lo ! beneath him fix'd, our man of law
That lawless man, the foe of order, saw ;
Once fcar'd, now scora'd ; once dreadcil, now abhorr'd :
A wordy man, and evil every word :
Again he gazed — " It is," said ho, " the same.
Caught and secure : his master owes him shamo ;"
So thought our hero, who ouch instant found
His courage rising, from the numl)ors round.

As when a felon has escai)ed and fled.
So long, that law conceives the culprit dead ;

• The rentier will perceive in these and the preceding vewes, allUAinnn to the state of
Fmnce, h8 tluit country was circumstanced some yeiirs since, mtlier tii;in iw It iipjicHrs to
he lit the present (late ; aeveral years eiiipsinK between the iiliirni oC tlie loyiil ini^cititrato
on tile occasion now related, and a subaeiueut event that fuither iUuatrutes the remark
witli which the narrative commcucn.

s 2

260 craebe's poems.

And back recalls her myrmiilons, intent

On some new game, and with a stronger scent ;

Till she beholds him in a place, where none

Could have conceixcd the culprit would have gone ;

There he sits upright in his seat, secure.

As one whose conscience is correct and pure ;

This rouses anger for the old oHence,

And scorn for all such seeming and pretqpco :

So on this Hammond look'd our hero bold,

Kememb'ring well that vile oflence of old ;

And now he saw the rebel dared t' intrude

Among the pure, the loyal, and the good ;

The crime provoked his wrath, the folly stirr'd his blood.

Nor wonder was it, if so strange a sight

Caused joy with vengeance, terror with delight ;

Terror like this a tiger might create,

.A joy like that to see his captive state.

At once to know his force and then decree his fate.

Hammond, much praised by numerous friends, was como
To read his lectures, so admired at home ;
Historic lectures, wdiere he loved to mix
His free plain hints on modern politics :
Here, he had heard, that numbers had design.
Their business finish'd, to sit down and dine ;
This gave him pleasure, for he judged it right
To show by day that he could speak at night.
Eash the design — for he perceived, too late,
Not one approving friend beside him sate ;
The greater number, whom he traced around,
Were men in black, and he conceived they Irown'd.
"I will not speak," he thought; " no pearls of mine
Shall be presented to this herd of swine."
Not this avail'd him, when he cast his eye
On Justice Bolt ; he could not fight, nor fly :
He saw a man to whom he gave the pain
Which now he felt must be return'd again ;
His conscience told him with what keen delight
He, at that time, enjoy 'd a stranger's tright ;
That stranger now befriended — he alone.
For all his insult, friendless, to atone ;
Now he could lecl it cruel that a heart
Sliould be distress'd, and none to take its part :
" Though one by one," said Pride, " I would ilcfy
Much greater men ; yet meeting every eye,
I do confess a fear — but he will pass me by."

Vain hope ! the Justice saw the foe's distress
With exultation he covUd not sujipress ;
He felt the fish was hook'd — and so i'orbore,
In jtlayful spite, to druw it to the shore.
Hammond look'd round again ; but none were near.
With friendly smile to still hisgrowing lear ;
But all above him seem'd a solenm row
Of priests and deacons, so they seem'd below ;
Ho wonder'd who his right-hand man might be —


Vicar of Holt-cum-Uppingham was he ;

And who the man of that dark frown possess'd —

Rector ot Bradley and ot Barton-west ;

" A pluralist," ho f^-rowl'd— but clieck'd the wor.l,

That warfare might not, b}- his zeal, be stirr'd.

But now began the man above to show
Fierce looks and threat'uings to the man below ;
Who had some thoughts his peace bj^ flight to seek —
But how then lecture, if he dared not speak ! —

Now as the Justice for the war prepared,
He seem'd just then to question if he dared :
" He may resist, although his power be small,
And gi-owing desperate may defy us all ;
One dog attack, and he prepares for flight —
Resist another, and he strives to bite ;
Nor can I say, if this rebellious cur
Will fly for safety, or will scorn to stir."
Alarm'd by this, he lash'd his soul to rage,
Burn'd with strong shame, and hurried to engage.

As a male turkey straggling on the green,
When by fierce harriers, terriers, mongrels seen,
He feels the insult of the noisj' train
And skidks aside, though moved by much disdain ;
But wlien that turkey, at his own barn-door,
Sees one poor straying pup])y and no more
(A foolish punpy who had left the pack.
Thoughtless what foe w;is threat'ning at his back).
He moves about, as ship prepared to sail.
He hoists his proud rotundity of tail.
The half-scul'd eyes and changeful neck he shows.
Where, in its quick'ning colours, vengeance glows ;
From rod to blue the pendent wattles turn.
Blue mix'd with red, as matches when they burn :
And thus th' intruding snarler to oppose.
Urged by enkindling wrath, ho gobbling goes.

So look'd our hero in his wrath, his cheeks
Flush'd with fires and glow'd in tingling streaks,
His breath by passion's lorce awhile restrain'd,
Like a stopp'd current greater force regaiu'd ;
So spoke, so look'd he, every ej'e and ear
Were fix'd to view him, or were turn'd to liear.
" My friends, you know me, you can witness all,
How, urged i)y passion, I restrain my gall ;
And every motive to revenge withstand —
Save when I hoar abused my native land.

" Is it not known, agreed, confirm'd, confcss'd.
That, of all people, we are govern'd best ?
Wo have the force of monarchies ; are tree.
As the most proud i-epublicans can bo ;
And have those prudent counsels that arise
In grave and cautious aristocracies ;
And live there those, in such all-glorious stale,
Traitors protected in the land they hate ?
Rebels, still waning with the laws that give

2G2 crabbe's poems.

To them subsistence ? Yes, such wretches live.

" Oure is a Church reform'd, and now no more
Is aught for man to mend or to restore ;
'Tis pure in doctrines, 'tis correct in creeds,
Has nought redundant, and it nothing needs ;
No evil is therein — no wrinkle, spot.
Stain, blame, or blemish : I affirm there's not.

" All this you know — now mark what once befell,
With grief I bore it, and with shame I tell :
I was entrapp'd — yes, so it came to pass,
'Mid heathen rebels, a tumultuous class ;
Each to his country bore a hellish mind.
Each like his neighbour was of cursfed kind ;
The land that nursed them thej' blasphemed, the lav»"s,
Their sovereign's glory, and their country's cause :
And who their mouth, their master-fiend, and who

Rebellion's oracle? You, caitiff, you !"

He spoke, and standing stretch'd his mighty arm,
And fix'd the man of words, as by a charm.

" How raved that railer ! Sure some hellish power
Eestrain'd my tongue in that delirious hour.
Or I had hurl'd the shame and vengeance duo
On him, the guide of that infuriate crew ;
But to mine eyes, such dreadful looks appear' d,
Such mingled yell of lying words I heard,
That I conceived around were demons all.
And till I fled the house, I fear'd its fall.

"Oh ! could our country from our coasts expel
Such foes ! to nourish those who wish her well :
This her mild laws foi-bid, but we may still
From us eject them by ovir sovereign will ;
This let us do. "—Ho said, and then began
A gentler feehng for the silent man ;
E'en in our hero's mighty soul arose
A touch of pity for experienced woes ;
But this was transient, and with angry eye
He sternly look'd and paused for a reply.

'Twas then the man of many words would speuk —
But, in his trial, had them all to seek ;
To find a friend he look'd the circle round.
But joy or scorn in every feature found ;
He sip'p'd his wine, but in those times of dread
Wine only adds confusion to the head ;
In doubt lie rcason'd with himself^" And how
Harangue at night, if I be silent now ?"
From pride and praise received, he sought to drav.'
Courage to speak, but still rcmain'd the awe ;
One moment rose he with a forced disdain.
And then, abash'd, sunk sadly down, again ;
While in our hero's glance he secm'd to read,
" Slave and insurgent ! what hast thou to plead ?"

By despei'ation urged, ho now began :
" I seek no favour— I the rights of man
Claim ; and I— nay ! but give me leave— and I


Insist — a man — that is — and in reply,

1 speak — " Alas ! each new attempt was vain :

Confusetl he stood, he sate, he rose again ;

At length he growl'd defiance, sought the door,

Cursed the whole synod, and was seen no more.

" Laud we," said Justice Bolt, "the powers above :
Thus could our speech the sturdiest foe remove."
Exulting now, he gain'd new strength of tame,
And lost all feelings of defeat and shame.

" He dared not strive, you witness'd — dared not lift
His voice, nor drive at his aecursfed drift :
So all shall tremble, wretches who oppose
Our Church or State — thus be it to our foes."

He spoke, and, seated with his former air,
Look'd his full self, and fill'd his ample chair ;
Took one full bumper to each favourite cause,
An<l dwelt all night on politics and laws,
With high applauding voice, that gaiu'd him high applause



I did not take my leave of him, but had
Most pretty things to say ; ere I could tell him
How I would think on him, at cert:tin hours.
Such thoughts and such :— or ere I could
Give him that parting kiss, which I had set
Betwixt two chanuing words — comes in my father.

Giief hath changed me since you saw me last,
And careful hours with Time's delormt^-d hand
Have written strange defeatures o'er iny face.

Comedy of Error).

Oh I if thou be the same vEgeon, speak.

And speak unto the same j-Emilia.— Comedy of Errors.

I ran it through, e'en from my hoyish days
To tl»e very moment that he bade me tell it.
Wherein I spake of most disjiatrous chances,
or moving accidents by flood and field,
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery. Othello,

An old man, broken with the storms of fate.
Is come to lay his weary bones among you ;
Gi\e him a little earth for charity.— //en rj/ VIU.

Minutely trace man's life ; year after year,
Through all his days let all his deeds appear.
And then, though some may in that life be strange.
Yet there appears no vast nor sudden change :
The links that bind those various deeds are seen.
And no mysterious void is left between.

But let these binding links bo all destroy'd,
All that through years ho suffcr'd or enjoy'd.
Let that vast gap be made, and then bcholil —
This was the youth, ami he is thus when old ;
Then we at once the work of time survey.

254: crabbe's poems.

Ami in an instant see a life's decay ;
Pain mix'd with pity in our bosoms rise,
And sorrow takes new sadness from surprise.

Beneath yon tree, observe an ancient pair —
A sleeping man ; a woman in her chair,
Watching his looks with kind and pensive air ;
No wife, nor sister she, nor is the name
Nor kindred of this friendly pair the same ;
Yet so allied are they, that few can feel
Her constant, warm, unwearied, anxious zeal ;
Their years and woes, although they long have loved.
Keep their good name and conduct unreproved :
Thus life's small comforts they together share,
And while life lingers for the g>ave prepare.

No other subjects on their spirits press.
Nor gain such int'rest as the past distress :
Grievous events, that from the mem'ry drive
Life's common cares, and those alone survive,
Mix with each thought, in every action share,
Darken each dream, and blend with every prayer.

To David Booth, his fourth and last-born boy,
Allen his name, was more than common joy ;
And a-s the child grew up, there seem'd in him
A more than common life in every limb ;
A strong and handsome stripling he became.
And the gay spirit answcr'd to the frame ;
A lighter, happier lad was never seen,
For ever easy, cheerful, or serene ;
His eariy love he fix'd upon a fair
And gentle maid ; they were a handsome pair.

They at an infant-school together play'd,
Where the foundation of their love was laid :
The boyish champion would his choice attend
In every sport, in every fray defend.
As prospects open'd, and as life advanced.
They walk'd together, they togetlier danced ;
On all occasions, from their early years.
They mix'd their joys and sorrows, hopes and fea/s :
Each heart was anxious, till it could impart
Its daily feelings to its kindred heart ;
As years increased u.inumber'd petty wars
Broke out between them, jealousies and jarf?,
Causeless indeed, and follow'd by a peace.
That gave to love growth, vigour, and increasa.
Whilst yet a boy, when other m- ds are void,
Domestic thoughts young Allen's hours employ'd.
Juditli in gaining hearts had no concern.
Rather intent the matron's jiart to learn ;
Thus early prudent and sedate thej' grow.
While lovers, thoughtful — and though children, truo.
To either parents not a day a])])oar'd,
When with this love they might have interfered.
Childish .at first, they cared not to restrain ;
And strong at last, they saw restriction vain ;


Nor knew they when that passion to reprove.
Now idle fondness, now resistless love.

So, while the waters rise, the children tread
On the broad estuary's sandy bed ;
But soon the channel fills, from side to side
Comes danger rolling with the deep'ning tide ;
Yet none who saw the rapid current flow
Could the first instant of that danger know.

The lovers waited till the time should come
When they together could possess a home ;
In either house were men and maids unwed,
Hopes to be soothed, and tempei's to be led.
Then Allen's mother of his favourite maid
Spoke from the feelings of a mind afraid :
" Dress and amusements were her sole employ,"
She said — " entangling her deluded boy ;"
And yet, in truth, a mother's jealous love
Had much imagined and could little prove ;
Judith had beauty — and if vain, was kind.
Discreet and mild, and had a serious mind.

Dull was their prospect. When the lovers met.
They said, " We must not — dare not venture yet."
" Oh ! could I labour for thee," Allen cried,
" Wh}' should our friends be thus dissatisfied?
On mv own arm I could depend, but they
Still urge obedience — must I yet obey ?"
Poor Judith felt the grief, but grieving begg'd delay„

At length a prospect came that seem'd to smile.
And faintly woo them, from a western isle ;
A kinsman there a widow's hand had gain'd,
" Was ol<l, was rich, and childless yet remain'd ;
Would some young Booth to his affairs attend,
And wait awhile, he might expect a friend."
The elder brothers, who wore not in love,
Fear'd the false seas, unwilling to remove ;
But the young Allen, an enamour'd boy,
Eager an indcjiendence to enjoy.
Would through all perils seek it, — by the sea, —
Through labour, danger, pain, or slavery.
The faithful .Judith his design approved,
For both wore sanguine, — they were young, and loved.
The mother's slow consent was then obtain'd ;
The time ari-ived, to part alone remain'd :
All things prcjiared, on the expected day
Was seen the vessel anchor'd in the bay.
From her would seamen in the evening come,
To take th' advcnturous_Allen from his home ;
With his own friends the final day he pass'd,
And every painful hour, excejit the last.
The grieving father urged the cheerhil glass.
To make the moments with less sorrow pass ;
Intent the mother l(iok'<l upon her son.
And wish'd th' assent withdrawn, the deed undone :
The younger sister, as he took his way,


Hung on his coat, and begg'd for more delay ;

But his own Judith cali'd him to the shore,

Whom he must meet, for they might meet no more ; —

And tliere he found her— faithful, mourniul, true,

Weeping, and waiting for a last adieu !

The ebbing tide had left the sand, and there

Moved -n-ith slow steps the melancholy pair ;

Sweet were the painful moments — but, how sweet.

And without pain, when the}' again should meet !

Now either spoke as hope and fear impress'd

Each their alternate triumph in the breast.

Distance alarm'd the maid ; she cried, " 'Tis far ! "
And danger too — " it is a time ol' war :
Then in those countries are diseases strange,
And women gay, and men are prone to change :
What then may happen in a year, when things
Of vast importance every moment brings !
But hark ! an oar ! " she cried, yet none appear'd —
'Twas love's mistake, who fancied what it tear'd ;
And she continued — " Do, my Allen, keep
Thy heait from evil, let thy passions sleep ;
Believe it good, nay glorious, to prevail.
And stand in safety where so many fail ;
And do not, Allen, or for shame, or pride.
Thy faith abjure, or thy profession hide ;
Can I believe kis love v?ill lasting prove.
Who has no rev'rence for the God I love ?
I know thee well ! how good thou art and kind ;
But strong the passions that invade thy mind. —
Now, what to me hath Allen to commend ? "
" Upon my mother," said the youth, " attend ;
Forget her spleen, and in my place appear,
Her love to me will make my Judith dear :
Oft I shall think (such comfort lovers seek)
Who speaks of me, and fancy what they speak ;
Then write on all occasions, always dwell
On hope's fair prospects, and be kind and well,
And ever choose the fondest, tenderest style."
She answer'd, " No," but answcr'd with a smile.

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 29 of 49)