George Crabbe.

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" And now, my Judith, at so sad a time,
Forgive my fear, and call it not my crime ;
When with our youthful neighbours 'tis thy chanco
To meet in walks, the visit, or the dance,
When every lad would on my las.s attend,
Choose not a smooth designer for a friend ;
That fawning Philip ! — nay, be not severe,
A rival's hope must cause a lover's fear."

Displeased she telt, and might in her reply
Have niix'd some anger, but the boat was nigh,
Now truly heard ! — it soon was full in sight ; —
Now the sad farewell, and the long good-night ;
For see ! — lijs friends come hast'ning to the beach.
And now the gunwale is within the reach ;
" Adieu ! — farewell ! — remember ! " — and what more


Affection taught, was utter'd from the shore.
But Judith left them with a heavy heart,
Took a last view, and went to weep apart,
And now his friends went slowly' from the place.
Where she stood still the dashing oar to trace.
Till all were silent I — for the youth she pray'd,
And softly then return'd the weeping maid.

They parted, thus hy hope and fortune led,
And Judith's hours in pensive pleasure fled ;
But when return'd the youth ?— The youth no more
Return'd exulting to his native shore ;
But forty years wore past, and then there came
A worn-out man with wither'd limbs and lame,
His mind oppress'd with woes, and bent with age his frame :
Yes ! old, and grieved, and trembling with decay,
Was Allen landing in his native bay,

Willing his breathless form should blend with kindred clay.
In an autumnal eve he left the beach.
In such an eve he chanced the port to reach :
He was alone ; he press'd the very place
Of the sad parting, of the last embrace :
There stood his parents, there retired the maid.
So fond, so tender, and so much afraid ;
And on that spot, through many a year, his mind
Tui-n'd moumhil back, half sinking, half resign'd.

No one was present ; of its crew bereft,
A single boat was in the billows left ;
Sent from some anchor'd vessel in the bay.
At the returning tide to sail away.
O'er the black stern the moonlight softly play'd.
The loosen'd foresail flapping in the shade ;

All silent else on shore ; but from the town

A drowsy peal of distant bells came down : '

From the tall houses, here and there, a light

Served some confused remembrance to excite :

" There," he observed, and new emotions felt,

" Was my first home — and yonder Judith dwelt ;

Dead, dead are all — I long — 1 lear to know !"

He said, and walk'd impatient, and yet slow.
Sudden there broke upon his grief a noise

Of merry tumult and of vulgar joys :

Seamen returning to their ship, were come,

With idle numbers straying from their home ;

Allen among them mix'd, and in the old

Strove some familiar features to behold ;

iVhile fancy aided memory: — " Man ! what cheer?"

A sailor cried, " Art thou at anchor here '("

Faintly he answer'd, and then tried to trace

Some youthful features in some aged face :

A swarthy matron he beheld, and thought

She might unfold the very truths he sought.

Confused and trembling, ho the dame addi'css'd :

"The Booths.' yet live they !" jiausing and oppross'd ;

Then spake again : — " Is there no ancient man,

26S crabbe's roEMS.

David his name ? — assist mc, if you can. —

Flemings tliere were — and Judith, doth she live?"

The woman gazed, nor could an answer give ;

Yet wond'ring stood, and all were silent by,

Feeling a strange and solemn sympathj^.

The woman musing said — "She knew full well

Where the old people came at last to dwell ;

They had a married daughter, and a son,

But they were dead, and now remain'd not one."

" Yes," said an elder, who had j^aused intent

On days long ]iast, " there was a sad event ; —

One of these Booths — it was my mother's tale —

Here left his lass, I know not where to sail :

She saw their parting, and observed the pain ;

But never came th' unhappy man again :"

" The ship was capturetl " — Allen mceklj^ said,

" And what became of the forsaken maid ?"

The woman answer'd : " I remember now,

She used to tell the lassos ot her vow,

And of her lover's loss, and I have seen

The gayest hearts grow sad where she has been ;

Yet in her grief she married, and was made

Slave to a wretch, whom meekly she ohey'd,

And eai'ly buried — but I know no more :

And hark ! our friends are hast'ning to the shore."

Allen soon found a lodging in the town,
And walk'd a man unnoticed up and down.
This house, and this, he knew, and thought a faco
He sometimes could among a number trace :
Of names remember'd there remain'd a few,
But of no favourites, and the rest were new :
A merchant's wealth, when Allen went to sea,
■\Vas reckon'd boundless ; could he living be ?
Or lived his son ? for one he had — the heir
To a vast business, and a iortune fair.
No ! but that heir's poor widow, from her shed,
With crutches went to take hor dole of bread :
There was a friend whom ho had loft a boy.
With hope to sail the master of a hoy ;
Him, after many a stormy day, he found
With his great wish, his life's whole purpose, crowu'd.
This hoy's proud captain look'd in Allen's faco, —
" Yours is, my friend," said he, " a wootul caso ;
We cannot all succeed : I now command
The Jidji)/ sloop, and am not much at land :
But when we meet, yon shall your story toll
Of foreign paits — I bid you now iarowcll !"

Allen so long had left his native shore,
lie saw but few whom he had seen beloro ;
The older people, as they met him, cast
A jntying look, oft speaking as they pass'd —
" The man is. A Hen Booth, and it appears
He dwelt among us in his early j'ears :
We SCO the name engraved upon the stones,


Where this poor wanderer means to lay his bones."
Thus where he lived and loved — unhappy change ! —
He seems a stranger, and finds all are strange.

But now a widow, in a village near,
Chanced of the melancholy man to hear ;
Old as she was, to Judith's bosom came
Some strong emotions at the well-known name ;
He was her much loved Allen, she had stay'd
Ten troubled years, a sad afflicted maid ;
Then was she wedded, of his death assured,
And much of mis'ry in her lot endured ;
Her husband died ; her children sought their bread
In various places, antl to her were dead.
The once fond lovers met ; not grief nor age.
Sickness or pain, their hearts could disengage :
Each had immediate confidence ; a friend
Both now beheld, on whom they might depend :
" Now is there one to whom I can express
My nature's weakness, and my soul's distress."
Allen look'd up, and with im])atient heart — -
" Let me not lose thee — never let us part :
So Heaven this comtbrt to my sufferings give,
It is not all distress to think and live."
Thus Allen spoke — for time had not removed
The charms attach'd to one so fondly loved ;
Who with more health, the mistress of their cot.
Labours to soothe the evils of his lot.
To her, to her alone, his various fate.
At various times 'tis comfort to relate ;
And yet his sorrow — she too loves to hoar
What wrings her bosom, and compels the tear.

First he related how he left the shore.
Alarm 'd with I'ears that they should meet no more.
Then, ere the shij) had reach'd her purposed course.
They met and yielded to the Spanish force ;
Then 'cross th' Atlantic seas they V)ore their prey,
Who grieving landed from their sultry bay:
And marching many a burning league, he found
Himself a slave upon a miner's ground ;
There a good priest his native language spoke.
And gave some case to his tcH'menting yoke ;
Kindly a<lvanceil him in his master's grace.
And he was station'd in an easier place ;
There, hopeless ever to escape the land.
He to a Spanish maiden gave his hand ;
In cottage sheltei''<l from the blaze of day.
Ho saw his happy infants round him j)lay ;
Where summer shadows, made by lofty trees.
Waved o'er his scat, and soothed his reveries ;
E'en then lie thouglit of England, nor could sigh.
But his fond Isabel demanded, " Why?"
Grieved by the story, she the sigh repaid.
And wept in i)ity for the English maid :
Thus twenty years were pass'd, and pass'd his views

270 crabbe's poems.

Of further bliss, for he had wealth to lose.

His friend now dead, some foe had dared to paint

" His faith as tainted : ho his spouse would taint ;

Make all his children infidels, and found

An English heresy on Christian ground."

" Whilst I was poor," said Allen, " none would care
What my poor notions of religion were ;
None ask'd me whom I worshipp'd, how I pray'd.
If due obedience to the laws were paid ;
My good adviser taught me to be still.
Nor to make converts, had I power or will.
I preach'd no foreigii doctrine to m)' wife.
And never niention'd Luther in my life ;
I, all they said, say what they would, allow'd,
And when the fathers bade me bow, I bow'd ;
Their forms I foUow'd, whether well or sick.
And was a most obedient Catholic.
But I had monej^ and these pastors found
My notions vague, heretical, unsound :
A wicked book they seized : the veiy Turk
Could not have read a more pernicious work ;
To me pernicious, who if it were good
Or evil questional not, nor understood :
Oh ! had I little but the book possess'd,
I might have read it, and enjoy'd my rest."

Alas ! poor Allen — through his wealth was seen
Crimes that by povert}' conceal'd had been :
Faults that in dusty pictures rest unknown.
Are in an instant through the \'aruish shown.

He told their cruel mercy ; how at last.
In Christian kindness for the merits past.
They spared his forfeit life, but bade him fly.
Or for his crime and contumacy die ;
Fly from all scenes, all objects of delight :
His wife, his children, weeping in his sight,
All urging him to flee, he fled, and cursed his flight.

He next related how he found a way,
Guideless and grie\ing, to Campeachy Bay:
There in the woods ho wrought, and there, among
Some lab'ring seamen, heard his native tongue :
The sound, one moment, broke upon his pain
With joyful force ; he long'd to hear again :
Again he heard ; he seized an offer'd hand,
" And when beheld you last our native land ?"
He cried, " and in what country? quickly say."
The seamen answer'd — strangers all were they ;
One only at his native port hail been ;
He, landing once, the <iuay ami church had seen,
For that esteem'd ; but nothing more he knew.
Still more to know, would Allen join the crew.
Sail where they sail'd, and, many a peril past,
They at liis. kinsman's islo their anchor cast ;
But him thcj' found not, nor could one relate
Aught of his will, his wish, or his estate.


This grieved not Allen ; then afjain ho sail'il
For England's coast, again his fate prevail VI :
War raged, and he, an active man and strong,
Was soon impress'd, and sefved his country long.
By various shores he pass'd, on various seas,
Never so hapjiy as when void of ease.
And tlien he told how in a calm distress'd,
Da)' after day his soul was sick of rest ;
When, as a log upon the deep they stood,
Then roved his spirit to the inland wood ;
Till, while awake, he dream'd that on the seas
Were his loved home, the hill, the stream, the trees :
He gazed, he pointed to the scenes : — '■ There stand
My wile, my children, 'tis my lovely land.
See ! there my dwelling — oh, delieioas scene
Of my best life ! unhand me — are ye men V
And thus the frenzy ruled him, till the wind
Brush'd the fond pictures from the stagnant mind.

He told of bloody fights, and how at length
The rage of battle gave his spirits strength :
'Twas in the Indian seas his limb he lost.
And he was left half-dead upon the coast ;
But living gain'd, 'mid rich asj^iring men,
A iair subsistence by his ready pen.
" Thus," he continued, " pass'd unvaried .years,
Without events producing hopes or fears."
Augmented pay jirocured him decent wealth.
But years advancing undermined his health ;
Then ofttimes in delightful dream he flew
To England's shore, and scenes his childhood knew :
He saw his parents, saw his fav'rite maid,
No feature wrinkled, not a charm decay' d ;
And thus excited, in his bosom rose
A wish so strong, it baffled his repose :
Anxious he lolt on English earth to lie ;
To view his native .soil, and there to die.
He then described the gloom, the di'oad he found,
When first he landed on the chosen ground,
Where undefined was all he ho])ed and fear'd.
And how confuseil and troubled all appear'd ;
His thoughts in past and present scenes employ'd.
All \"iews in future blighted and destroy'd :
His were a medley of bewildering theme.s.
Sad as realities, and wild a.s dreams.

Hero his relation closes, but his mind
Flies back again, some resting-place to find ;
Tlius silent, musing through the day, lie sees
His children sporting by those lofty trees,
Their mother singing in the sliady scene.
Where the fresh springs burst o'er the lively green
So strong his eager fancy, lie affrights
The faithlul widow bj" its ])oworlul (lights ;
For what di.sturbs him he aloud will toll,
And cry, " 'Tis she, my wile ! my Isabel !


272 CEABBE'S roEiis.

Where are my children ? " — Judith grieves to hoar
How the soul works in sorrows so severe ;
Assiduous all his wishes to attend,
Deprived of much, he )'et may boast a friend ;
Watch'd by her care, in sleep, his spirit takes
Its flight, and watchful finds her when he wakes.

'Tis now her office ; her attention see,
While her friend sleeps beneath that shading tree,
Careful she guards him fi'om the glowing heat.
And pensive muses at her Allen's feet.

And where is he ? Ah ! doubtless in those scenes
Of his best days, amid the vi\'id greens,
Fresh with unnumber'd rills, where every gale
Breathes the rich fragranco of the neighb'ring vale,
Smiles not his wife, and listens as there comes
The night-bird's music from the thick'ning glooms 1
And as he sits with all these treasures nigh,
Blaze not with faii-y-light the phosphor fly.
When like a sparkling gem it wheels illumined by?
This is the joy that now so plainly speaks
In the warm transient flushing of his cheeks ;
For he is list'ning to the fancied noiso
Of his own children, eager in their joys :
All this he feels, a dream's delusive bliss
Gives the expression, and the glow like this.
And now his Judith lays her knitting by.
These strong emotions in her friend to spy ;
For she can fully of their nature ileem —
But see ! he breaks the long-protracted theme.
And wakes, and cries — " My God ! 'twas but a dream,''



Pause there,
And weigh thy valiie with jui even liaiul.
If thou beest r.ited by thy estimation,
Tliou tlost deserve enough. — Merchant of Venice,

Because T will not do them wrong to mistrust any, T will do myself the right to tnist
none ; and the line is (lor the whieli I may go the finer), I will live a biu;helor.

Much Ado about A'othiny.

Tlirow physic to the dogs, ni none of ii.~Macbeth.

His i)romise8 were, as he tlicn was, miijhty ;

But his performance, as he now is, nutliing. — Henri/ 'V//,

GwTN was a farmer, whom the farmers all.

Who dwelt around, " the Geuthmau " would call ;

Wliether in pure humility or ])rido.

They only knew, and they would not decide.

Far dilVercnt ho from that dull plodding tribe,
W'hom it was his amusement to describe ;
Creatures no more enliveu'd than a clod,


But treading still as their dull fathers trod ;
Who lived in times when not a man had seen
Corn sown by drill, or thresh'd by a machine :
He was of those whose skill assigns the prize
For creatures fed in pens, and stalls, and sties ;
And who, in places where improvers meet.
To fill the land with fatness, had a seat ;
Who in large mansions live like petty kings.
And speak of farms but as amusing things ;
Who plans encourage, and v^rho jounials keep.
And talk with lords about a breed ot sheep.

Two are the species in this genus known ;
One, who is rich in his profession grown,
Who yearly finds his ample stores increase,
From fbrtime's favours and a fiivouring lease ;
Who rides his lumter, who his liouse adorns ;
Who drinks his wine, and his disbursements scorns ;
Who freely lives, and loves to show he can, —
This is the farmer made the gentleman.

The second species from the world is sent.
Tired with its strife, or with his wealth content ;
In books and men boj'ond the former read.
To farming solely by a pa.ssion led.
Or by a fashion ; curious in his land ;
Now planning much, now changing what he plann'd ;
Pleased by each trial, not by failures vex'd.
And over certain to succeed the next ;
Quick to resolve, and easy to persuade, —
This is the gentleman a farmer made.

Uvyn was of these ; he from the world withdrew
Early in life, his reasons known to few ;
Some disappointment said, some pure good sense.
The love of land, the press of indolence ;
His fortune known, and coming to retire.
It not a farmer, men had call'd him squire.

Forty-and-five his years, no ciiild or wife
Cross'd the still tenor of his chosen life ;
Much land he inuvhased, planted far around.
And let some portions of superlluous ground
To farmers near him, not dis])leased to say,
"My tenants," nor " our worthy landlord," the}'.

Fix'd in his farm, he soon displayVl his skill
In small-boned lambs, the horse-hoe, and tlie drill ;
From these ho rose to themes of nobler kind,
And show'd the riches of a fertile mind ;
To all around their visits he repaid.
And thus his mansion and himself display'd.
His rooms were stately, rather fine than neat,
And guests politely call'd his house a seat ;
At much expense was each apartment graced,
His taste was gorgeous, but it still was taste ;
In full festoons the crimson curtains fell,
The sofas rose in bold elastic swell ;
Mirrors in gilded frames display'd the tints


crabbe's poems.

Of glowing carpets, and of colijur'd prints :

The weary eye saw every object shine,

And all was costly, fanciful, and fine.

As with his friends he pass'd the social hours,

His generous spirit seorn"d to hide its powers ;

Powers unexpected, for his eye and air

Gave no sure signs that eloquence was there ;

Oft he began with sudden fire and force,

As loth to lose occasion for discourse ;

Some, 'tis observed, who feel a wish to speak.

Will a due place for introduction seek ;

On to their piupose step by step they steal.

And all their way, by certain signals, feel ;

Others filunge in at once, and never heed

Whose turn they take, whose pui-pose they imped? ;

Resolved to shine, they hasten to begin,

Oi ending thoughtless — and of these was Gwyn.

And thus he spake : —

" It grieves me to the soul,
To see how man submits to man's control ;
How overpower'd and shackled minds are led
In vulgar tracks, and to submission bred ;
The coward never on himself relies.
But to an equal for assistance flies ;
Man yields to custom as he bows to fate,
In all things ruled — mind, body, and estate ;
In pain, in sickness, we for cure apply
To them we know not, and we know not why ;
But that the creature has some jargon read.
And got some Scotchman's system in his head ;
Some grave impostor, who will health insure,
Long as your patience or your wealth endvu-o.
But mark them well, the pale and sickly crew,
They have not health, and can they give it you ? solemn cheats their various methods choose,
A system fires them, as a bard his muse :
Hence wordy wars arise ; the learn'd divide,
And groaning patients curse each erring guide.
" Next, our affairs are govern'd, buy or sell,
Upon the deed the law must fix its spell :
Whether wo hire or let, we must have still
The dubious aid of an attorney's skill ;
They take a part in every man's afl'air.s.
And in all business some concern is theirs ;
Because mankind in ways prescribed are found
Like flocks that follow on a beaten ground.
Each abject nature in the way proceeds,
That now to shearing, now to slaughter leads.
Should you offend, though meaning no offence,
You have no safety in your innocence ;
The statute broken then is placed in view,
And men nmst pay for crimes they never kn'iw ;
Who would by law regain his plundcr'd store,
Would pick up fallen mercury from the floor ;


If he pursue it, here and there it slides.

Ho would collect it, but it more divides :

This part and this he stops, but still in vain,

It slips aside, and breaks in parts again ;

Till, after time and pains, and care and cost,

He finds his labour and his object lost.

But most it grieves me (friends alone are round),

To see a nnui in priestly fetters bound ;

Guides to the soul, these friends of Heaven contrive

Long as man Uvea, to kee\> his fears alive.

Soon a.s an infant breathes, their rites begin ;

Who knows not sinning, must be freed from sin ;

Who needs no bond, must yet engage in vows ;

Who has no judgment, must a creed espouse :

Advanced in life, our boj's are bound by rules.

Are catechised in churches, cloisters, schools.

And train'd in thraldom to be fit for tools :

The youth grown up, he now a partner needs,

And lo ! a priest, as soon as he succeeds.

What man of sense can marriage-rites approve 'I

What man of spirit can be bound to love ?

Forced to bo kind ! compell'd to be sincere !

Do chains and fetters make companions dear?

IMs'ners indeed we bind ; but though the bond

May keep them safe, it does not make them fond ;

Ths ring, the vow, the witness, license, prayers.

All parties knowTi ! made public all affairs !

Such forms men suSer, and from these they date

A deed of love begun with all they hate :

Absurd ! that none the beaten road should sliun,

But love to do what other dupes have done.

" Well — now your priest has made j'ou one of twain,
Look you for rest ? Alas ! you look in vain.
If sick, he comes ; you cannot die in peace,
Till he attends to witness j'our release ;
T(j vex your soul, and urge you to confess
The sins you feel, remember, or can guess ;
Nay, when departed, to your grave he goes —
But there indeed he hurts not your repose.

" Such are our burthens ; jjart we must sustain,
But need not link new grievance to the chain :
Yet men like idiots will their frames siu'round
With these vile shackles, nor confess they're bound ;
In all that most confines them they confide,
Their slaverj- boast, and make their bonds their piide ;
E'en as the pressure galLs them, they declare
(Good souls ! ) how hapjiy and how free they are I
As madmen, pointing round their wretched cells.
Cry, ' Lo ! the palace where our honour dwells.'

" Such is our state ; but I resolve to live
By rules my reason and my feelings gi\'e ;
No legal guards .shall keep cnthiall'cl my mind,
No slaves command mo, and no teachers blind.
Tempted by sins, let me their strength defy.

276 crabbe's poems.

But have no second in a surplice by ;

No bottle-liokler, with officious ai<l,

To comfort conspicnce, wealcen'd and airaid :

Then if I yield, my frailty is not known ;

And, if I stand, tl^e glory is my own.

" When truth and reason are our friends, we seem
Alive, awake — the superstitious dream.

" Oh ! then, fair truth, for thee alone I seek,
Friend to the wise, supporter of the weak ;
From thee we learn whate'er is riftht and jutt ;
Forms to despise, professions to distrust ;
Creeds to reject, pretensions to deride,
And, lollowing thee, to follow none beside."

Such was the speech : it struck upon the ear
Like sudden thunder none expect to hear.
He saw men's wonder with a manly pride,
And gravely smiled at guest electrified.
" A farmer this ! " they said, "oh, let him seek
That place where he may lor his country speak ;
On some great question to harangue for hours,
"While sjieakers, hearing, envy nobler powers ! "

Wisdom like this, as all things rich and rare,
Must be acquired with pains, and kept with care ;
In books he sought it, which his fi'iends might view,
When their kind host the guarding curtain drew.
There were historic works lor graver hours.
And lighter verse to spur the languid powers ;
There metaphysics, logic there had place ;
But of devotion not a single trace —
Save what is taught in Gibbon's florid page,
And otlicr guides of this inquiring age.
There Hume appear'd, and near a sjilondid book
Composed by Gay's ' ' good lord of Uolingbroke : "
With these were mix'd the light, the free, the vain.
And from a corner peep'd the sage Tom Paine ;
Here lour neat volumes Chesterfield were named,
For manners much and easy morals famed ;

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 30 of 49)