George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

. (page 3 of 49)
Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 3 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Paid by the parish for attendance here.
He wears contempt upon his sapient sneer ;
In haste he seeks tho bed where misery lies,
Impatience mark'd in his averted eyes ;
And, some habitual queries hurried o'er,
Without reply, he rushes on the door :
His droojiing patient, long inured to pain.
And long unheeded, knows remonstrance vain ;
He ceases now the feeble help to crave
Of man ; and silent sinks into the grave.

But ere his death some pious doubts arise,
Some simple fears wliich " bold bad " men despise ;
Fain would he ask the parish priest to prove



THE VILLAGE— BOOK I,

His title certain to the joys above :

For this ho sends the murmunng nui-se, who calls

The holy strangei to these dismal walls :

And doth not he, the pious man, appear.

He, " passing rich with forty pounds a year" ?

Ah ! no ; a shepherd of a different stock,

And far unlike him, feeds this little flock :

A jovial youth, who thinks his Sunday's task

As much as God or man can fairly ask ;

The rest he gives to loves and labours light,

To fields the morning and to feasts the night ;

None better skill'd the noisy pack to guide,

To ui-ge their chase, to cheer them or to chide ;

A sportsman keen, he shoots through hah the day.

And, skill'd at whist, devotes the night to play :

Then, while such honours bloom around his head.

Shall he sit sadly by the sick man's bed,

To raise the hope he feels not, or with zeal

To combat fears that e'en the pious feel ?

Now once again the gloomy scene explore.
Less gloomy now ; the bitter hour is o'er.
The man of many sorrows sighs no more. —
Up yonder hill, behold how sadly slow
The bier moves winding from the vale below ;
There lie the happy dead, from trouble free.
And the glad parish pays the frugal fee :
No more, Death ! thy victim starts to hear
Chui'chwarden stem, or kingly overseer ;
No moi-e the farmer claims his humble bow, —
Thou art his lord, the best of tjTants thou !

Now to the church behold the mourners come.
Sedately torpid and devoutly dumb ;
The village children now their games suspend.
To see the bier that bears their ancient friend :
For he was one in all their idle sport,
And hke a monarch ruled their little court ;
The pliant bow he form'd, the flying ball,
The bat, the wicket, were his labours all ;
Him now they follow to his grave, and stand
Silent and sad, and gazing hand in hand ;
While bending low, their eager eyes explore
The mingled relics of the parish poor ;
The bell tolls late, the moping owl flies round,
Fear marks the flight and magnifies the sound ;
The busy jiriest, detain'd by weightier care.
Defers his duty till the day of prayer ;
And, waiting long, the crowd retire distress'd.
To think a poor man's bones should lie unbless'd.



BOOK II.

There are found, amid the Evils of a laborious Life, some Views of Tranquillity and
Hapi>iness — Tlie Repose and Pleasure of a Summer Sabbath : inteiTupted by Intoxica-
tion and Dispute — VUlage Detraction — Complaints of the Squire — The Evening Riots —
Justice — Reasons for this unpleasant View of Rustic Life : the Effect it should have
upon the Lower Classes ; and the Higher — These last have their peculiar Distresses :
eiemplified in the Life and heroic Death of Lord Robert Manners — Concluding Address
to His Grace the Duke of Rutland.

No longer truth, though shown in verse, disdain,

But own the village life a life of pain :

T too must yield, that oft amid these woes

Are gleams of transient mirth and hours of sweet repose.

Such as you find on yonder sijortive green.

The squire's tall gate and churchway-walk between ;

Where loitering stray a little tribe of friends.

On a fair Sunday when the sermon ends :

Then rural beaux their best attire put on,

To win their nymphs, as other nymphs are won ;

While those long wed go plain, and, by degrees.

Like other husbands, quit their care to please.

Some of the sermon talk, a sober crowd.

And loudly praise, if it were preach'd aloud ;

Some on the labours of the week look round,

F'cel their own worth, and think their toil renown'd ;

While some, whose hopes to no renown extend.

Are only pleased to find their labours end.

Thus, as their hours glide on, with pleasure fraught,
Their careful masters brood the painful thought ;
Much in their mind they murmur and lament.
That one fair day should be so idly spent ;
And think that Heaven deals hard, to tithe their store
And tax their time for preachers and the poor.

Yet still, ye humbler friends, enjoy your hour,
This is your portion, yet unclaim'd of power ;
This is Heaven's gift to weary men oppress' d.
And seems the typo of their expected rest :
But yours, alas ! are joys that soon decay, —
Frail joys, begun and ended with the day ;
Or yet, wliile day permits those joys to reign,
The village vices drive them from the plain.

See the stout churl, in drunken fury great.
Strike the bare bosom of his teeming mate !
His naked vices, rude and imrefined.
Exert their open empire o'er the mind ;



THE VILLAGE— BOOK 11.

But can we less the senseless rage despise.
Because the savage acts without disguise ?

Yet here disguise, the city's vice, is seen.
And Slander steals along and taints the green :
At her approach domestic peace is gone.
Domestic broils at her approach come on ;
She to the wife the husband's crime conveys,
She tells the husband when his consort strays ;
Her busy tongue through all the litle state
Diffuses doubt, suspicion, and debate ;
Peace, tim'rous goddess, quits her old domain.
In sentiment and song content to reign.

Nor are the nymphs that breathe the rural air
So fair as Cynthia's, nor so chaste as fair :
These to the town afford each fresher face,
And the clown's trull receives the peer's embrace ;
From whom, should chance again convey her down.
The peer's disease in turn attacks the clown.

Here too the squire or squire-like farmer, talk.
How round their regions nightly pilferers walk ;
How from their ponds the fish are borne, and all
The rip'ning treasures from their lofty wall ;
How meaner rivals in their sports delight,
Just rich enough to claim a doubtful right ;
Who take a license round their fields to stray,
A mongrel race ! the poachers of the day.

And hark ! the riots of the green begin,
That sprang at first from yonder noisy inn ;
What time the weekly pay was vanish'd all.
And the slow hostess scored tho threat'ning wall ;
What time they ask'd, their friendly feast to close,
A final cup, and that will make them foes ;
When blows ensue that break the arm of toil,
And rustic battle ends the boobies' broil.

Save when to yonder Hall they bend their way.
Where the grave justice ends tho grievous fray ;
He who recites, to keep the poor in awe.
The law's vast volume — for he knows the law :
To him with anger or with shame repair
The injured peasant and deluded fair.

Lo ! at his throne tho silent nymph appears.
Frail by her shape, but modest in her tears ;
And while she stands abash'd, with conscious eye.
Some favourite female of her judge glides by.
Who views wth scornful glance the strumpet's fato.
And thanks the stars that made her keeper great :
Near her the swain, about to bear for life
One certain evil, doubts 'twixt war and wife ;
But, while the fait' ring damsel takes her oath,
Consents to wed, and so secures them both.

Yet why, you ask, these humble crimes relate.
Why make the poor as guilty as tho gi-cat ? _
To show the great, those mightier sons of pride.
How near in vice the lowest are allied ;



10 CRABBE'S POEMS.

Such are their natures and their passions sucTi,

But these disguise too little, those too much :

So shall the man of power and pleasure see

In his own slave as vile a wretch as he ,

In his luxm-ious lord the sei-vant find

His own low pleasures and degenerate mind .

And each in all the kindred vices trace,

Of a poor, blind, bewilder'd, erring race ;

Who, a short time in varied fortune pass'd.

Die and are equal in the dust at last.

And you, ye poor, who stiU lament your fate.

Forbear to envy those you call the great ;

And know, amid those blessings they possess.

They are, like you, the victims of distress ;

While Sloth with many a pang torments her slave.

Fear waits on guilt, and Danger shakes the brave.

Oh ! if in life one noble chief appears,
Great in his name, while blooming in his years ;
Bom to enjoy whate'er delights mankind,
And yet to all you feel or fear resign'd ;
Who gave up joys and hopes to you unknown,
For pains and dangers greater than your own :
If such there be, then let your murmm-s cease,
Think, think of him, and take your lot in peace.

And such there was : — Oh ! grief, that checks our pride,
Weeping we say there was, — for Manners died :
Beloved of Heaven, these humble lines forgive.
That s.ng of thee, and thus aspire to live.

As the tall oak, whose vigorous branches form
An ample shade, and brave the wildest stonn.
High o'er the subject wood is seen to grow.
The guard and glorj' of the trees below ;
Till on its head the fiery bolt descends.
And o'er the plain the shatter'd trunk extends ;
Yet then it lies, all wondrous as before,
And still the glory, though the guard no more :

So Tuou, when every virtue, every grace.
Rose in thy soul, or shone within thy face ;
When, though the son of Granby, thou wert known
Less by thy father's glory than thy own ;
When Honoiu- loved and gave thee every charm.
Fire to thy eye and \-igom* to thy arm ;
Then from our lofty hopes and longing eyes,
Fate and thy virtues call'd thee to the skies ;
Yet still we wonder at thy tow'ring fame.
And losing thee, still dwell upon thy name.

Oh ! ever honour'd, ever valued ! say.
What verse can praise thee, or what work repay ?
Yet verso (in all we can) thy worth repays,
Nor trusts the tardy zeal of future days ; —
Honom-s for thee thy country shall prepare.
Thee in their hearts, the good, the brave shall boar ;
To deeds like thine shall noblest chiefs aspu-e,
The muse shall mourn thee, and the world admire.



THE VILLAGE— BOOK II. II

In future times, when smit with glory's charms,
The untried j'outh first quits a father's arms ; —
"Oh ! be like him," the weeping sire shall say ;
" Like Manners walk, who walk'd in Honour's way ;
In danger foremost, yet in death sedate.
Oh ! be like him in all things, but his fate ! "

If for that fate such public tears be shed.
That Victory seems to die, now thou ai't dead ;
How shall a'friend his nearer hope resign,
That friend a brother, and whose soul was thine ;
By what bold lines shall we his grief express,
Or by what soothing numbers make it less ?

'Tis not, I know, the chiming of a song.
Nor all the powers that to the muse belong.
Words aptly cuU'd and meanings well express'd,
Can calm the soitows of a wounded breast ;
But Virtue, soother of the fiercest pains.
Shall heal that bosom, Rutland, where she reig-ns.

Yet hard the task to heal the bleeding heart,
To bid the still-recurring thoughts depart,
Tame the fierce grief and stem the rising sigh,
And curb rebellious passion, with reply ;
Calmly to dwell on all that pleased before,
And yet to know that all shall please no more ; —
Oh ! glorious labour of the soul, to save
Her captive powers, and bravely mourn the brave.

To such these thoughts will lasting comfort give —
Life is not measured by the time we live ;
'Tis not an even course of threescore years,
A life of narrow views and paltrj' fears.
Grey hairs and wrinkles, and the cares they bring.
That take from Death the terrors or the sting ;
But 'tis the gen'rous spirit, mounting high
Above the world, that, native of the sky ;
The noble spirit that, in dangers brave.
Calmly looks on, or looks beyond the grave ; —
Such Manners was, so he resig-n'd his breath,
If in a glorious, then a timely death.

Cease then that grief, and let those tears subside ;
If passion rule us, be that passion pride ;
If reason, reason bids us strive to raise
Our fallen hearts, and be like him we f>raise ;
Or if affection still the soul subdue,
Bring all his virtues, all his worth in view.
And let affection find its comfort too :
For how can gi'ief so decpl}' wound the heart.
When admiration claims so large a part ?

Grief is a foe, expel him then thy soul.
Let nobler thoughts the nearer views control !
Oh ! make the age to come thy better care,
See other Rutlands, other Granbys there !
And, as thy thoughts through streaming ages glide.
See other heroes die as Manners died :
And from theii- fate, thy race shall nobler grow.



12 crabbe's poems.

As trees shoot upwards that are pruned below :
Or as old Thames, borne down with decent pride,
Sees his young streams run warbling at his side ;
Though some, by art cut ofl, no longer run.
And some are lost beneath the summer's sun.
Yet the pure stream moves on, and, as it moves,
Its power increases and its use improves ;
While plenty round its spacious waves bestow,
Still it flows on, and shall lor ever flow.



THE PARISH REGISTER



PART I.

rNTEODUCnON.

The Village Keglfiter considered, as containing principally the Annals of the Poor — Slate
of the Peasantry aa meliorated by Frugality and Industrj'— The Cottage of an industrioiis
Peasant ; ita Ornaments— Prints and Books— Tlie Garden ; its Satisfactions— The State
of the Poor, when improvident and ricious— Tlie Eow or Street, and its Inhabitiiits—
The Dwelling of one of these— A Public House— Gai-den and its Appendages— Game-
gteis ; rustic Sharpers, &c.— Conclusion of the Introductory Fart.

BAPTISMS.

The Child of the Miner's Daughter, and Eelation of her Misfortune— A frugal Couple ;
their Kind of Frugality— Plea of the Mother of a natural Child : her Churching- Ijirge
Family of Gerard Ablett : his Apprehensions : Comparison between his state and that of
the wealthy Farmer his Master : his Consolation— An Old Man's Anxiety for an Heir :
the Jealousy of another on having many— Characters of the Grocer Dawktns and his
Friend : thlir diifurcnt Kinds of Disappointment — Three Infants named— An Orjihan
Girl and Village Schoolmistress— Gardener's Child : Pedantry and Conceit of the
Father : his botanical Discoui-se : Method of fixing the Embryo-fruit of Cucumbers-
Absurd Ellects of Kustic Vanity : observed in the Names of their Children— Relation of
the Vestry Debate on a Foundling : Sir Richard Monday— Children of various In-
habitants—The poor Farmer— Children of a Profligate : his Chiuacter and Fate-
Conclusion.

The year revolves, and I again explore
The simple annals of my parish poor ;
What infant members in my flock appear,
What pairs I bless' d in the departed year ;
And who, of old or younf?, or nymphs or swains,
Arc lost to life, its pleasures and its pains.

No muse I ask, before my view to bring
The humble actions of the swains I sing'. —
How pass'd the youthful, how the old their days ;
Who sank in sloth, and who aspired to praise ;
Their tempers, manners, morals, customs, arts.
What parts they had, and how eraploy'd their parts ;
By what elated, soothed, seduced, depress' d.
Full well I know — these records give the rest.

Is there a place, save one the poet sees,
A land of love, of liberty, and etise ;
Whore labour wearies not, nor caras suppress
Th' eternal flow of rustic happiness ;



14 CRABBKS POEMS.

Where no proud mansion frowns in awful state,

Or keeps the sunshine from the cottage gate ;

Where yovmg and old, intent on pleasure, throng,

And half man's life is holiday and song ?

Vain search for scenes like these ! no view appears,

B3' sighs unruffled or uustain'd by tears ;

Since ^-ice the world subdued and waters drown'd.

Auburn and Eden can no more be louud.

Hence good and evil mix'd, but man has skill
And power to part them, when he feels the will !
Toil, care, and patience bless th' abstemious few.
Fear, shame, and want the thoughtless herd pursue.

Behold the cot, where thi-ives th' industrious swain.
Source of his pride, his JDleasure, and his gain ;
Sereen'd from the winter's wind, the sun's last ray
Smiles on the window and prolongs the day ;
Projecting thatch the woodbine's branches stop.
And turns their blossoms to the casement's top :
All need requires is in that cot contain'd,
And much that Taste, untaught and unrestrain'd.
Surveys delighted ; there she loves to trace.
In one gay picture, all the royal race ;
Around the walls are heroes, lovers, kings ;
The print that shows them and the verse that sings.

Here the last Louis on his throne is seen.
And there he stands imprison' d, and his queen ;
To these the mother takes her child and shows
What grateful duty to his God he owes ;
Who gives to him a happy home, where he
Lives and enjoys his freedom with the free ;
When kings and queens, dethroned, insulted, tried,
Are all these blessings of the poor denied.

There is King Charles, with all his golden rules.
Who proved misfortune's was the best of schools :
And there his son, who, tried by years of pain,
P)-oved that misfortunes may be sent in vain.

The magic mill that grinds the gran'nams young,
Close at the side of kind Godiva hung ;
She, of her favourite place the pride and joy.
Of charms at once most lavish and most coy,
By wanton act the purest fame could raise,
And give the boldest deed the chastest praise.

There stands the stoutest ox in England led ;
There fights the boldest Jew Whitcchapel bred ;
And here Saint Monday's worthy votaries live,
Li all the joys that ale and skittles give.

Now, lo ! on Egypt's coast that hostile fleet,
By nations dreaded, and by Nelson beat ;
And here shall soon another triumph come,
A deed of glory in a day of gloom ;
Distressing glory ! giievous boon of fate !
The proudest conquest at the dearest rate.

On shell of deal beside the cuckoo clock.
Of cottage reading rests the chosen sf»ck j







7-^-^



' Ik-hulil the cot I where thrives the huUistrious swain,
Source of liis iiride, hin pleftsure. anil lii» gnin."— 1". H.



THE PAKISH REGISTER — BAPTISMS. 15

Learning we lack, not books, but have a kind

For all our wants, a meat for every mind.

The tale for wonder and the joke for whim,

The half-sung sermon and the half-groan'd hymn.

No need of classing ; each within its place.

The feeling finger in the dark can trace ;

" First from the corner, farthest from the wall ;"

Such all the rules, and they suffice for all.

There pious works for Sunday's use are found ;
Companions for that Bible newly bound ;
That Bible, bought by sixpence weekly saved,
Has choicest prints by famous hands engraved ;
Has choicest notes by many a famous head,
Such as to doubt have rustic readers led ;
Have made them stop to reason why 1 and hoio ?
And, where they once agreed, to cavil now.
Oh ! rather give me commentators plain,
Who with no deep researches vex the brain ;
Who from the dark and doubtful love to run.
And hold their glimmering tapers to the sun ;
Who simple truth with ninefold reasons back.
And guard the point no enemies attack.

Bunyan's famed Pilgrim rests that shelf upon ; —
A genius rare but rude was honest John ;
Not one who, early by the muse beguiled,
Drank from her well the waters undefiled ;
Not one who slowly gain'd the hill subhme.
Then often sipp'd and little at a time ;
But one who dabbled in the sacred springs.
And drank them muddy, mix'd with baser things.

Here to interpret dreams we read the rules.
Science our own, and never taught in schools ;
In moles and specks we Fortune's gifts discern.
And Fate's fix'd will from Nature's wanderings learn.

Of Hermit Quarll we read, in island rare.
Far from mankind and seeming far from care ;
Safe from all want, and sound in every limb ;
Yes ! there was he, and there was care with him.

Unbound and heap'd, these valued works beside,
Lay humbler works, the pedlar's pack supplied ;
Yet these, long since, had all acquired a name :
The Wandering Jew had found his way to fame ;
And fame, denied to many a labour'd song.
Crowns Thumb the Great, and llickathrift the strong.

There too is he, by wizard power upheld.
Jack, by whoso arm the giant brood were (juell'd :
His shoes of swiftness on liis feet he placed ;
His coat of darkness on his loins he braced ;
His sword of sharpness in his hand he took.
And off the heads of doughty giants stroke :
Their glaring eyes beheld no mortal near ;
No sound of feet alarm'd the drowsy ear ;
No Enj^lish blood their pagan sense coulil smell.
But heads dropp'd headlong, wondering why they fell.



16 cbabbe's poems.

These are the peasant's joy, when, placed at ease.
Half his delighted oftspring mount his knees.

To every cot the lord's indulgent mind
Has a small space for garden-ground assign'd :
Here — till return of mom, dismiss'd the farm —
The careful peasant plies the sinewy arm,
Warm'd as he works, and casts his look around
On every foot of that improving ground :
It is his own he sees ; his master's eye
Peers not about, some secret fault to spy ;
Nor voice severe is there, nor censure known ;—
Hope, profit, pleasm-e, — they are all his own.
Here grow the humble cives, and hard by them,
The leek with crown globose and reedy stem ;
High climb his pulse in many an even row,
Deep strike the ponderous roots in soil below ;
And herbs of potent spell and pungent taste
Give a warm rehsh to the night's repast.
Apples and cherries grafted by his hand.
And cluster'd nuts for neighbouring market stand.

Nor thus concludes his labour ; near the cot,
The reed-fence rises round some fav'rite spot,
Where rich carnations, pinks with purple eyes,
Proud hyacinths, the least some florists prize.
Tulips tall-stemm'd and pounced auriculas rise.

Here on a Sunday eve, when service ends.
Meet and rejoice a family of fi-iends ;
All speak aloud, are happy and are free,
And glad they seem, and gaily they agree.

What, though fastidious ears may shim the speech,
Where all are talkers, and where none can teach ;
Where still the welcome and the words are old,
And the same stories are for ever told ;
Yet theirs is joy, that bursting from the heart,
Prompts the glad tongue these nothings to impart ;
That forms these tones of gladness we despise.
That lifts their steps, that sparkles in their eyes ;
That talks, or laughs, or runs, or shouts, or plays.
And speaks in all their looks and all their ways.
Fair scenes of peace ! ye might detain us long.
But vice and misery now demand the song ;"
And turn our view from dwellings simply neat.
To this infected row, we term our Street.

Here, in cabal, a disputatious crew
Each evening meet, — the sot, the cheat, the shrew ;
Eiots are nightly heard : the curse, the cries
Of beaten wife, perverse in her replies ;
While shrieking children hold each threat'ning hand,
And sometimes life, and sometimes food demand :
Boys, in their first-stol'n rags, to swear begin.
And gh-ls, who heed not dress, are skill'd in gin :
Snarers and smugglers here their gains divide ;
Ensnaring females here tl\eir victims hide ;
And here is oije, the Sibyl of the row,



THE PARISH REGISTER — BAPTISMS. 17

Who knows all secrets, or affects to know.

Seukiug their fate, to her the simple run,

To her the guilty, theirs awhile to shun ;

Mistress of worthless arts, depraved in will,

Her care unblest, and unrepaid her skill,

Slave to the tribe, to whose commands she stoops.

And poorer than the poorest maid she dupes.

Between the road-way and the walls, oflence
Invades all eyes, and strikes on every sense ;
There lie, obscene, at every open door.
Heaps from the hearth, and sweepings from the floor,
And day by day the mingled masses gTOW,
As sinks are disembogued and kennels flow.

There hungry dogs from hungry children steal ;
Tliere pigs and chickens quarrel for a meal ;
There dropsied infants wail without redress.
And all is want, and woe. and wretchedness ;
Yet should these boys, with bodies bronzed and bare,
High-swoln and hard, outlive that lack of care —
Forced on some farm, the unexerted strength.
Though loth to action, is compell'd at length.
When warm'd by health, as serpents in the spring.
Aside their slough ol indolence they fling.

Yet, ere they go, a greater evil comes —
See ! crowded beds in those contiguous rooms ;
Beds but ill parted by a paltry screen
Of paper 'd lath, or curtain dropp'd between ;
Daughters and sons to yon compartments creep.
And parents here beside their children sleep :
Ye who have power, these thoughtless people part.
Nor h-t the ear be first to taint the heart.

Come, search within, nor sight nor smell regard ;
The true physician walks the foulest ward.



Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 3 of 49)