George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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With chaste memoirs of females, to be read
When deeper studies had confused the head.

Such his resources, treasures where he sought
For daily knowledge till his mind was fraught :
Then, when his friends were present, for tlieir uso
He would the riches he had stored produce ;
He found his lamp bimi clearer when each day
He drew for all ho purjiosed to di.s))lay ;
For these occasions forth his knowledge sprung.
As mustard (juickens on a bed of dung :
All was prepared, and guests allow'd the praise
For what thej' saw he could so quickly raise.

Such this new friend ; and when the year came round.
The same impressive, reasoning sage was found :
Then, too, was seen the pleasant mansion graced
With a fair damsel — his no vulgar t.'isto ;
The neat iictettu — sly, observant, still,


Watching hLs eye, and waiting on his will ;
Simple yet smart her dress, her manners meek,
Her smiles spoke for her, she would seldom speak :
But watch'd each look, each meaning to detect,
And (pleased with notice) felt for all neglect.

With her lived Gwyn a sweet harmonious life,
Who, forms excepted, was a charming wife :
The wives indeed, so made by vulgar law,
Affected scorn, and censured what they saw.
And what they saw not, fancied ; said 'twas sin.
And took no notice of the wife of Gwyn :
But he despised their rudeness, and would prove
Theirs was compulsion and distrust, not love ;
" Fools as they were ! could they conceive that rings
And parsons' blessings were sul>stantial things ? "
They answer'd, ' ' Yes ; " while he contemptuous spoke
Of the low notions held by simple'folk ;
Yet, strange that anger in a man so wise
Should from the notions of these fools arise ;
Can they so vex us, whom we so despise ?

Brave as he was, our hero felt a dread
Lest those who saw him kind should think him led ;
If to his bosom fear a visit paid.
It was, lest ha should be supposed afraid :
Hence .sjirang his orders ; not that he desired
The things when done : obedience he reijuired ;
And thus, to prove his absolute command.
Ruled every heart, and moved each subject hand ;
Assent he ask'd for every word and whim,
To prove that he alone was king of him.

The still Rebecca, who her station knew,
With ease resign'd the honours not her duo :
Well pleased she saw that men her board would grace,
And wish'd not there to see a female ftxce ;
When by her lover she his spouse was styled,
Polite she thought it, and demurely smiled ;
But wh6n he wanted wives and maidens round
So to regard her, she grew grave and frown'd ;
And sometimes whisper'd — " Why shouM you respect
These people's notions, yet their forms reject .'"

GwjTi, though from marriage bond and fetter free.
Still felt abriilgment in his liberty ;
Something of hesitation he betray' d,
And in her presence thought of what he said.
Thus fair Rebecca, though she walk'd astray,
His creed rejecting, judged it right to i)ra\',
To be at church, to sit with sei'ious looks,
To read her Bil)le and her Sunday books :
She hated all those new and daring themes,
And call'd his free conjectures " devil's dreams : "
She honour'd still the priesthood in her fall.
And claim'd respect an<l i-cverence for them all ;
Call'd them "of sin's destructive jiovver the foes,
And not such blockheads as he might suppose."

278 crabbe's poems.

Gwyn to his iriends would smile, and sometimes say,

" 'tis a kind fool ; why vex her in her way ?

Her way she took, and still had more in view,

For she contrived that he should take it too.

The daring freedom of his soul,^ 'twas jilam,

In part was lost in a divided rei,<?n ;

A king and queen, who yet in prudence sway d

Their peaceful state, and were in turn obey'd.

Yet such our fate, that when we plan the best.
Something arises to disturb our rest :
For though in spirits high, in body strong,
Gwyn something felt— he knew not what— was wrong.
He "wish' d to know, for he behoved the thing,
If unremoved, would other evil bring :
"She must perceive of late he could not eat,
And when he walk'd he trembled on his feet :
He had forebodings, and he seem'd as one
Stopp'd on the road, or threaten'd by a dun ;
He could not live, and yet, should he apply-
To these physicians— he must sooner die." _

The mild Rebecca heard with some disdain, _
And some distress, her friend and lord complain :
His death she fear'd not, but had painful doubt
What his distemper' d nerves might bring about ;
With power like hers she dreaded an ally,
And yet there was a person in her eye ;—
She thought, debated, fix'd— " Alas ! " she said,
"A case like yours must be no more delay d_;
You hate these doctoi-s ; well ! but were a friend
And doctor one, your fears woulil have an end :
My cousin 3/o«ei— Scotland holds him now—
Is above all men skiltul, all allow ;
Of late a doctor, and within a while
He means to settle in this favour'd isle :
Should he attend you, with his skill profound, ^
You must be safe, and shortly would be sound.
When men in health against physicians raij,^^
They should consider that their nerves may fai. ;
Who calls a lawyer rogue, may find, too late.
On one of those depends his whole estate ;
Nay, when the world can nothing more produce,
The priest, th' insulted priest, may have his use ;
Ease, health, and comfort lift a man so high,
These powers are dwarfs that he can scarcely spy ;
Pain, sickness, languor, keep a man so low.
That these neglected tlwarfs to giants grow :
Happy is he who through the medium sees
Of clear good sense— but Gwyn was not of these.

He heard and he rejoiced ; " Ah ! let him come.
And till he fixes, make my house his home."
Home came the doctor— ho was much admn-ed ;
lie told the- patient what liis case reciuired :
His hours for sleep, his time to oat and drink, _
When he should ride, read, rest, compose, or tlimk.


Thus join'd peculiar skill and art profound,

To make the fancj'-sick no more than fancy-sound.

With such attention, who could long be ill ?
Returning health proclaim'd the doctor's skill.
Presents and jjraises from a gi-ateful heart
Were freely offer'd on the patient's part ;
In high repute the doctor seem'd to s^and,
Uut still had got no footing in the land ;
And, as he saw the seat was rich and fair.
He felt disposed to fix his station there.
To gain his purpose he perform'd the part
Of a good actor, and prcpai-ed to start ;
Not like a traveller in a day serene.
When the sun shone, and when the roads were clean ;
Not like the pilgrim, when the morning gray.
The ruddy eve succeeding, sends his way ;
But in a season when the sharp east wind
Had all its influence on a nervous mind ;
When past the parlour's front it fiercely blew,
And Gwyn sat pitying every bird that ilew,
This strange physician said — " Adieu ! Adieu !
Farewell ! Heaven bless you ! if you should — but no,
You need not fear — farewell ! 'tis time to go."

The doctor spoke ; and as the patient heard,
His old disordei-s (dreadful train !) appear'd :
He felt the tingling tremor, and the stress
Upon his nerves that he could not express ;
Should his good friend forsake him, he perhaps
Might meet his death, and surely a relapse.

So, as the doctor seem'd intent to part.
Ho cried in terror — " Oh ! bo where thou art :
Come, thou art young and unengaged ; oh, come !
Make mc thy friend, give comtoi-t to mine home ;
I have now symptoms that require thine aid,
Do, doctor, stay :"— th' obliging doctor stay'd.

ThusGwjTi was happy ; he had now a Iriend,
And a meek spouse on whom ho could dei)end ;
But now possess'd of male and female guide,
Divided power he thus must subdivide :
In earlier days ho i-odo, or sat at ease
Keclined, and liaviug but himscli to please;
Now if ho would a fav'rito nag bestride.
He sought permis.sion — " Doctor, may I ride ?
(Rebecca's eye her sovereign pleasure told) —
" [ think you may, but guanled from the cold,
Ride forty minutes." Free and liappy soul !
He scorn'd submission, and a man's control ;
But where such friends in every care unite
All for his good, ol^ediencc is delight.

Now Gwyn, a sultan, bade aftairs adieu,
Led and assisted by the faithful two ;
The favourite fair, Rebecca, near him sate,
And whispor'd whom to love, assist, or hate ;
While the chief vizier cased his lord of cai-es,


And bore himself the burden of affairs :
No dangers could from such alliance flow,
But from that law that changes all below.

When wintrj- winds with leaves bestrew'd the ground,
And men were coughing; all the village round ;
When public papers of invasion told,
Diseases, famines, perils new and old ;
When philosophic writers failVl to clear
Tlie mind of gloom, and lighter works to cheer ;
Then came fresh terrors on our hero's mind -
Fears unforeseen, and feelings undefined.

"In outward ills," he cried, "I rest assured
" Of mj'' friend's aid ; they will in time be cured ;
But can his art subdue, resist, control
These inward griefs and ti-oubles of the soul 1
Oh, my Rebecca ! my disorder'd mind
No help in study, none in thought can find ;
What must I do, Rebecca?" She proposed
The parish guide ; but what could be disclosed
To a proud priest ? " No ! him have I defied,
Insulted, slighted — shall he be my guide ?
But one there is, and if report be just,
A wise good man, whom I may safely tiiist ;
Who goes from house to house, from ear to ear.
To make his truths, his gospel- truths appear ;
True if indeed they be, 'tis time that I should heai".
Send for that man ; and if report be just,
I, like Cornelius, will the teacher tnist ;
But if deceiver, I the vile deceit
Shall soon discover, and discharge the cjieat."

To Doctor Mollet was the grief confess'd,
While Gwyn the freedom of his mind express'd ;
Yet own'd it was to ills and errors ijrone.
And he for guilt and frailtj' nuist atone.
" My books, perhaps," the wav'ring mortal cried,
" Like men deceive ; I would be satisfied ;
And to my soul the pious man may bring
Comfort and light : do let me try the thing."

The cousins met ; what pass'd with Gwyn was told :
" Alas ! " the doctor said, " how hard to hold
These easy minds, whore all impressions made
At first sink deeply, and then ( [uickly fade ;
For while so strong these new-born fancies reign.
We must divert them, — to oppose is vain :
You see him valiant now, lie scorns to hoed
Tlie bigot's threat'nings or the zealot's creed ;
Shook by a dream, he next for truth receives
What frenzy teaches, and what fear believes ;
And this will place him in the power of one
Whom we must seek, because wo cannot shim."

Wis]) had been ostler at a busy inn,
Where he beheld and grew in dread of sin ;
Then to a Baptists' meeting found his way,
Became a convert, and was taught to pray ;


Then preach'd ; and, being earnest and sincere

Brought other sinners to religious fear :

Together grew his influence and his fame.

Till our dejected hero heard his name :

His little failings were a grain of pride,

Raised by the numbers he presumed to gTiide

A love of presents, and of lofty praise

For his meek spirit and his humble ways ;

But though this spirit would on flattery feed,

No praise could blind him and no arts mislead : —

To him the doctor made the wishes known

Of his good patron, but conceal'd his own ;

He of all teachers had distrust and doubt,

And was reserved in what he came about ;

Though on a plain and simple message sent.

He had a secret and a bold intent :

Their minds at first were deeply veil'd ; disguise

Form'd the slow speech, and oped the eager eyes ;

Till by degrees sufficient light was thrown

On e\"ery view, and all the business shown.

Wisp, !is a skilful guide who led the blind.

Had powers to rule and awe the vapourish mind ;

But not the changeful will, tlie wavering fear to bind :

And should his conscience give him leave to dwell

With Gwyn, and every rival power expel

(A dubious point), yet he, with every care.

Might soon the lot of the rejected share ;

And other Wisps be found like him to reign.

And then bo thrown upon the world again •

He thought it prudent then, and felt it just,

The present guides of his new friend to trust :

True, he conceived to touch the luirder heart

Of the cool doctor, was beyond his art ;

But mild Kebecca he could surely sway.

While Gwyn would follow where she led the way :

So to do good, (and why a duty shun

Because rewarded for the good when done ?)

He with his friends would join in all they plann'd.

Save when his faith or feelings should withstand ;

There he must rest sole judge of his aflairs.

While they might rule exclusively in theirs.

When Gwyn his message to the teacher sent.
He fear'd his friends would show their discontent ;
And prudent seeni'd it to th' attendant pair,
Not all at once to show an aspect fair :
On Wisp they seem'd to look with jealous eye.
And fair llcbccca was demure and shy ;
B\it by degrees the teacher's worth the,y knew,
Anil were so kind, they socm'd converted too.

Wis]) took occasion t(j the nymph to say,
"You must be married : will you name the day?"
She smiled, — '"Tis well : but should he not comply
Is it quite safe th' ex]ieriiiicnt to try ?"
"My child," the teacher said, " who feels romoree

2£2 crabbe's poems.

(And feels not he ?) must wish relief of course :
And can he find it, while he fears the crime 1 —
You must be married ; will you name the time ?"

Glad was the patron as a man could be.
Yet marvell'd too, to find his guides agree ;
"But what the cause?" he cried ; "'tis genuine love for me."

Each found his part, and let one act describe
The powers and honours of th' accordant tribe : —
A man for favour to the mansion speeds.
And cons his threefold task as he proceeds ;
To teacher Wisp he bows with humble air.
And begs his interest for a ham's repair :
Then for the doctor he inquires, who loves
To hear applause for what his skill improves,
And gives for praise, assent — and to the fair
He brings of pullets a delicious jDair ;
Thus sees a peasant, with discernment nice,
A love of power, conceit, and avarice.

Lo ! now the change complete : the convert Gwyn
Has sold his books, and has renounced his sin ;
Mollet his body order.s. Wisp his soul.
And o'er his purse the lady takes conti'ol ;
No fi-iends beside he needs, and none attend —
Soul, body, and estate, has each a friend ;
And fair Rebecca leads a virtuous life-
She rules a mistress, and she reigns a wife.



Heaven witness
I have been to you a true iiud humble vilie.—Ilcnrtj YIIl.

(Jentlo lady,
^^^len first T did impart my love to you,
1 freely told you all the wealth I \iaA.— ilerchant of Venice.

Tlie fearftil time,
Cuts off all ceremonies and \owa of love,
And ample interchauKo of sweet discourse,
WTiich so lont' sunder'd Iriends should dwell upon.

Richard J 1 1.

I know thee not, old man ; fall to thy prayere.— 2 Henrij IV.

Thou pure impiety, tliou impious purity.
For thee I'll lock up all the gates ol love.

Mucli Ado about Xuthing.

Love will expire— the gay, the happy dream
Will turn to scorn, indifl'rencc, or esteem :
Some favour'd pairs, in this exchange, are blest,
Nor sigh for raptures in a state of rest ;
Others, illmatch'd, with minds unpair'd. repent
At once the deed, and know no more content ;
From joy to anguish they, in haste, decline,


And, with their fondness, their esteem resign ;
Llore luckless still their fate, who are the prey
Of long-protracted hope and dull delay ;
'ifid plans of bliss the heavy hom-s pass on,
Till love is wither'd, and till joy is gone.

This gentle flame two youthful hearts possess'd.
The sweet disturber of unenvied rest ;
The prudent Dinah was the maid beloved.
And the kind Ruptrt was the swain approved ;
A wealthy aunt her gentle niece sustain'd,
He, with a father, at his desk remain'd ;
The youthful couple, to their vows sincere,
Thus loved expectant ; year succeeding year,
With pleasant views and hopes, but not a prospect near.
Kupert some comfort in his station saw.
But the poor \'irg-in lived in dread and awe ;
Upon her anxious looks the widow smiled,
And bade her wait, " for she was yet a child."
She for her neighbour had a due respect.
Nor would his son encourage or reject ;
And thus the pair, with expectations vain,
Beheld the seasons change and change again ;
Meantime the njTni^h her tender tales perused.
Where cruel aunts impatient girls refused ;
WTiile hers, though teasing, boasted to be kind.
And she, resenting, to be all resign'd.

The dame was sick, and when the youth applied
For her consent, she groan'd, and cough'd, and cried,
Talk'd of departing, and again her breath
Drew hard, and cough'd and talk'd again of death :
" Hero you may live, my Dinah ! here the boy
And you together my estate enjoy : "
Thus to the lovers was her mind express'd,
Till they forbore to urge the fond request.

Servant, and nurse, an<l comforter, and friend,
Dinah had still some duty to attend ;
But yet their walk, when Rupert's evening call
Obtain'd an hour, made sweet amends for all ;
So long they now each other's thoughts had known,
That nothing seem'd exclusively their own ;
But with the common wish, the mutual fear.
They now had travell'd to their thirtieth year.

At length a pr jsjiect open'd — but alas !
Long time must yet, before the union, pass.
Rupert was call'd, in other clime, t'
Another's wealth, and toil for future peace.
Loth were the lovers, hnt the aimt declai-ed
'Twas fortune's call, and they must be prepared :
'• You now arc young, and for this bi'icf delay,
And Din.ah's care, what 1 bequeath will pay ;
All will be yoiu's; nay, love, sujipress that sigh ;
The kind must suffer, and the l)est must dio :"
Then came the coucrh, and strong the signs it gave
Of holding long contention with the grave.

284 crabbe's poems.

The lovers parted with a gloomy view,
And little comfort, but tliat both wei-e true ;
He for uncertain duties doom'd to steer.
While hers remain'd too certain and severe.

Letters arrived, and Rupert fairly told
" His cares were many, and his hopes were cold :
The view more clouded, that was never fafr,
And love alone i:ireserved him from despair :"
In other letters brig'hter hopes he drew,
" His friends were kind, and he believed them true."

When the sage widow Dinah's grief descried.
She wonder'd much why one so hajjpy sigh'd :
Then bade her see how her poor aunt sustain'd
The ills of life, nor murmur'd nor complain'd.
To vary pleasures, from the lady's chest
Were drawn the pearly string and tabbj^ vest ;
Beads, jewels, laces, all their value shown.
With the kind notice — "They will be your own."

This hope, these comforts, cherish'd day by day,
To Dinah's bosom made a gradual way ;
Till love of treasure had as large a part
As love of Rupert, in the virgin's lieart.
Whether it be that tender passions fail.
From their own nature, while the strong prevail ;
Or whether av'rice, like the poison-tree,*
Kills all beside it, and alone will bo ;
Whatever cause prevail'd, the pleasure grew
In Dinah's soul, — she loved the hoards to view ;
With liveh' joy those comforts she survey' d,
And love grew languid in tlie careful maid.

Now the grave niece partook the widow's cares,
Look'd to the great, and ruled the small affairs ;
Saw clean'd the plate, arranged the china-show.
And felt her passion for a shilling grow :
Th' indulgent aunt increased the nuud's delight,
B)' placing tokens of her wealth in sight ;
She loved the value of lier bonds to tell,
And spake of stocks, and how they rose and fall.

This passion grew, and gain'd at length such sway,
That other passions slirank to make it way ;
Romantic notions now the heart forsook,
She read but seldom, and she changed her book ;
And for the verses she was wont to send,
Short was her prose, and she was Rupert's friend.
Seldom she wrote, and then the widow's cough,
And constant call, excused her breaking off';
Who now opprcss'd, no longer took the air.
But sat and dozed upon an easy chair.
The cautious doctor saw the case was clear,
But judged it best to have companions near ;
They came, they reason' d, they prescribed, — at last,

■ Allusion is here ina<Te, riot to tlie well-known species of mimnrh, called the poison-
o^k.or (rjj-i(orfcn</r')»i. but to the upaa, or po .ou-tree of Juva : whether it be real or
imasiiutr>'. this is uu iiropcr place for iuquiiy.


Like honest men, they said their hopes were past ;
Then came a priest — 'tis comfort to reflect.
When a\] is over, there was no neglect :
And all was over. Bj- her husband's bones,
The widow rests beneath the sculptured stones.
That yet record their fondness and their fame.
While all they left the virgin's care became ;
Stock, bonds, and buildings ; it disturb'd her rest,
To think what load of troubles she jiossess'd :
Yet, if a trouble, she resolved to take
Th' important duty for the donor's sake ;
She too was heiress to the widow's taste.
Her love of hoarding, and her dread of waste.

Sometimes the past would on her mind intrade,
And then a conflict full of care ensued ;
The thouglits of Rupert on her mind would press.
His worth she knew, but doubted his success :
Ot old she saw him heedless ; what the boy
Forbore to save, the man would not enjoy ;
Oft had he lost the chance that care would seize.
Willing to live, but more to live at ease :
Yet could she not a broken vow defend,
And Heav'n, perhaps, might yet enrich her friend.

Month after month was pass'd, and all were spent
In quiet comfort, and in rich content ;
Miseries there were, and woes the world around.
But these had not her pleasant dwelling found ;
She knew that mothers grieved, and widows wept.
And she was sorry, said her prayers, and slept :
Thus pass'd the seasons, and to Dinah's board
Gave what the seasons to the rich afford ;
For she indulged, nor was her heart so small,
That one strong passion should engross it all.

A love of splendour now with av'rice strove.
And oft appear'd to be the stronger love :
A secret pleasure fill'd the widow's breast,
When she reflected on the hoards possess'd ;
But livelier joy inspired th' ambitious maid.
When she the jiurchase of those hoards chsplay'd :
In small but splendid room she loved to see
That all was placed in view and harmony.
There, as with eager glance she look'd around,
She much delight in every object found.
While books devout were near her — to destroy.
Should it arise, an overflow of joy.

Within that fair apartment guests might seo
The comforts cull'd for wealth by vanity :
Around the room an Indian paper blazed.
With lively tint and figin-cs boldly raised ;
Silky an<l soft upon the floor below,
Th' elastic carpet rose with crimson glow ;
All things arovnid imj)lied both cost and care,
What met the eye was elegant or rare ;
Some curious trifles round the room were laid.

238 crabbe's poems.

By hope presented to the wealthy maid ;

Within a costly case of varnishM wood,

111 level rows, her polish'd volumes stood ;

Shown as a favour to a chosen few,

To prove what beauty for a hook could do :

A silver urn with curious work was frau^^ht ;

A silver lamp from Giocian i)attcrn wrou^'ht :

Above her head, all gorgeous to behold,

A time-piece stood on feet of burnish'd gold ;

A stag's-head crest adorn'd the jiicturod case,

Through the pure crystal shone the cnamell'd face ;

And while on brilliants moved the hands of steel,

It click'd from [irayer to prayer, from meal to meal.

Here as the la<ly sat, a friendly pair
Stcpp'd in t' admire the view, and took thoir chair :
Tliey then related how the young and gay
Were thoughtless wandering in the broad highway :
How tender damsels sail'd in tilted boats,
And laugh'd with wicked men in scarlet coats ;
And how wo live in such degeii'i'ate times,
'J'hat men conceal their wants and show their crimes
While vicioiLS deeds are screen'd by fashion's name,
Ami what was once our pride is now our shame.
Dinah was musing, as her friends discoursed,
When these last words a sudden entrance forced
Ui)on her mind, and what was once lier pi-ido
And now her shame, some painful views supplied ;
Thoughts of the past within hor bosom pross'd.
And there a change was felt, and was confess'd.
While thus the virgin strove with secret pain,
llor mind was waiulering o'er the troubled main ;
Still she was silent, nothing seem'dto see.

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 31 of 49)