George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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But sat and sigh'd in pensive reverie.

The friends i>reparcd new subjects to begin,
When tall Susannah, maiden starch, stalk'd in;
Not in hor ancient mode, sedate and slow,
As when she came, the mind she knew, to know ;
Nor as, when Jist'ning half an hour befoi-e,
She twice or thrice tapp'd gently at the door ;
But all decorum cast in wrath a.side,
" I think the devil 's in the man ! " she cried ;
"A huge tall sailor, with liis tawny cheek
And pitted face, will with my hwly siieak ;
Ho grinn'd an ugly smile, and saiil he knew.
Please you, mv lady, 'twould be joy to you :
What must f answer ? " Trembling arid distress'd
Sank the pale I>inah by her fears oppress'd ;
When thus alarm'd, and brooking no delay,
Swift to her room the stranger made his way.

" llevive, my love ! " said ho, " I've done thee harm ;
Give mo thy pardon," and ho look'd alarm :
Meantime the prudent J^iiiah had contrived
Her s(ml to (luestion, and she then revived.

" See ! my good friend," and then she raised her head,


" The bloom of life, the strength of youth is flod ;
Living we die ; to us the world is dead ;
We parted bless'd with health, and I am now
Age-struck and feeble— so I find art thou ;
Thine eye is sunken, furrow'd is thy face.
And downward look'st thou — so we run our race ;
And happier they whose race is nearly run.
Their troubles ovei-, and their duties done."

"True, lady, true — we are notg-irl and boy.
But time has'loft us something to enjoy."
" What ! hast thou learn'd my fortune ?— yes, I live
To feel how poor the comforts wealth can give :
Thou too. perhaps, art wealthy ; but our fate
Still mocks our wishes ; wealth is come too late."

' ' To me nor late nor early, I am come
Poor as 1 left thee to my native home :
Nor yet," said Rupert, " will I grieve ; 'tis mino
To share thy comforts, and the glory thine :
For thou wilt gladly take that generous part
That both exalts aiid gratifies the heart ;
While mine rejoices."' " Heavens ! " retyrn'd the maid,
" This talk to one so wither'd and decay'd ?
No ! all my care is now to lit my mind
For other spousal, and to die resign'd ;
As friend and neighbour, I shall hope to see
These noble views, this pious love in thee ;
That wo together may the change await,
Guides and spectators in each other's fate ;
When fellow-pilgrims, we shall daily crave
The mutual prayei- that arms us for the grave."

Half angry, half in doubt, the lover gazed
On the meek maiden, by her speech amazed :
" Dinah," said he, " dost thou respect thy vows ?
What spousal mean'st thou 1 — thou art Rupert's spouse ;
The chance is mino to take, and thine to give :
But, trifling this, if we together live.
Can I believe that, after all the past.
Our vows, our loves, thou wilt be false at last ?
Something thou hast — I know not what— in view ;
I finrl thee ])ious — let me find thco true."

"Ah ! cruel this; but do, my friend, depart ;
And to its feelings leave my wounded hcait."

" Nay, speak at once ; and Dinah, let mo know,
Jfean'.st thou to take me, now I'm wreck'd, in tow ?
Be fair ; nor longer keep mo in the dark !
Am I forsaken for a trimmer spark ?
Heaven's sixnise thou art not, nor can I believe
That God accepts her who will man deceive :
True I am shattcr'd, I huvo service seen,
Anil service done, and havo in trouble been ;
My check (it shames me not) has lost its red,
And tiio brown buff is o'er my features spread :
Perchance my speech is lude ; for I among
Th' untamed "havo been, in temper and iu tonguo ;

288 ceabbe's poems.

Have been trepann'd, have lived in toil and care,
And wrought for wealth I was not doom'd to share ;
It touch' d" me deeply, for I felt a pride
In gaining riches for my destined bride :
Speak then my fate ; for these my sorrows past.
Time lost, youth fled, hope wearied, and at last
This doubt of thee— a childish thing to tell,
But certain tr\ith — my very throat they swell :
They stop the breath, and'but for shame could I
Give way to weakness, and with passion cry ;
These are unmanly struggles, but I feel
This hour must end them, and perhaps will heal."

Here Dinah sigh'd, as if afraid to speak.
And then repeated—" They were frail and weak :
His soul she loved, and hoped he had the grace
To fix his thoughts upon a better place."
She ceased ;— with steady glance, as if to see
The very root of this hypocrisy,— _
He her small fingers moulded in his hard
And bronzed broad hand ; then told her his regard,
His best respect, were gone, but love had still
Hold in his heart, and govern'd yet the will—
Or he would curse her : saying this, ho threw
The hand in scorn away, and bade adieu
To every lingering hope, with every care in view.
Proud ami indignant, suffering, sick, and p jor.
He grieved unseen ; and spoke ol love no more —
Till all he felt in indignation died.
As hers had sunk in avarice and pride.

In health declining, as in mind distress' d.
To some in power his troubles he confess'd,
And shares a parish gift ; at prayers he sees
The pious Dinah droi)p'd upon her knees ;
Thence as she walks the street with stately air,
As chance directs, oft meet the parted jiair ;
When ho, with thickset coat of badgeinan's blue,
Moves near her shaded silk of changeful hue ;_
When his thin locks of grey approach her braid,
A costly purchase made in beauty's aid ;
When his frank air, and his unstudied pace.
Are scon with her soft manner, air, aud grace ;_
And his plain artless look with her sharp meaning face ;
It miglit some wonder in a stranger move,
How these together could liavo talk'd of love.

Behold them now I— sec there a tradesman stands.
And humbly hearkens to some fresh commands ;
He moves to speak, she interrupts him — " IStay,"
Her air expresses — '• Hark to what I say !"
Ten paces off, poor Rupert on a seat
Has taken refuge from the noon-day heat,
His eyes on her intent, as if to find
What were tho movements of that subtle mind :
How still— how earnest is ho !— it appears
His thoughts are waud'ring through his earlier years ;


Through years of fruitless labour, to the day

When all his earthly prospects died away :

" Had I," ho thinks, "been wealthier of the two.

Would she have found me so unkind, untrue —

Or knows not man when poor, what man when rich will do 1

Yes, yes ! I feel that I had faithful proved,

And should have soothed and raised her, bless'd and loved."

But Dinah moves — she had observed before
The pensive liupert at an humble door :
Some thoughts ot pity raised liy his distress.
Some fecliny touch of ancient tenderness,
Religion, duty, urged the maid to speak,
In terms of kindness to a man so weak :
But pride forbade, and to return would prove
She felt the shame of his neglected love ;
Nor wrapp'd in silence could she pass, afraid
Each eye should see her, and each heart ujibraiJ ;
One way remain' d — the way the Levite took.
Who without mercy could on misery look
(A way perceived by craft, approved by pride);
She ci-oss'd and pass'd him on the oiher side.



It were all one.
That I shoiUd love a bright jiarticuljir star.
And think to wed it ; he is ao above me :
In his bright radiance and collateral light
Hu3t X be comlorted, not in his sphere.

Air a Well that Ends tfe.l

Poor wretclies that depend
On greatness' favours, dream as I have done ;
Wake, and find nothing. drmbeline.

And slnce-

Th' affliction of my mind amends, with which,
1 tear, a madness held me. Tempest.

A EOROUGH-BAILIFF, who to law was train'd,
A wife and .sons in decent state maintain'd.
He had his way in life's rough ocean steer'd.
And many a rock and coast of danger clcar'd :
He saw where otliers fail'd, and care had he,
Others in him should not such failings see.
His sons in various busy states were placed.
And all began the sweets of gain to taste.
Save John, the younger, who, of sprightly parts,
Felt not a love for money-making arts :
In childho<id feeble, he, for country air.
Had long resided with a rustic jiair ;
All round whose room were <lolutal liallada, songs.
Of lovers' suflorings, and of ladies' wrongs ;
Ot peevish ghosts who came at dark midnight,


290 crabbe's poems.

For breach of promise, guilty men to fright ;
Love, marriage, murder, were tlie themes, with these,
All that on idle, ardent spirits seize ;
Robbers at land, and jiirates on the main,
Enchanters foil'd, spells broken, giants slain ;
Legends of love, with tales of hal's and bowers.
Choice ot rare songs, and garlands of choice flowers.
And all the hungr}' mind without a choice devouis.

From village children kept apart by pride.
With such enjoyments, and without a guide.
Inspired by feelings all such works infused,
John snatch'd a pen, and wrote as he perused :
With the like fancy he could make his knight
Slaj' half a host and put the rest to flight ;
With the like knowledge he could make him rido
From isle to isle at J-'arthenissn's side ;
And with a heart yet free, no busy brain
Form'd wilder notions of delight and pain,
The raptures smiles create, the anguish of disdain.

Such were the fruits of John's poetic toil —
Weeds, but still proofs of vigour in the soil :
He nothing pui-jjosed but with vast delight,
Let fancy loose, and wonder' d at her flight :
His notions of poetic worth were high,
And of his own still-hoarded poetry ;
These to his father's house he bore with pride,
A miser's treasure, in his room to hide ;
Till sjjurr'd by glor}', to a reading friend.
He kindly show'd the sonnets he had penn'd :
With erring judgment, though with heart sincere.
That friend exclaim'd " These beauties must appear."
In magazines they claim'd their sliarc of fame,
Though undistinguisli'd by their author's name ;
And with delight the young enthusiast found
The muse of " Marcus" with applauses crown'd.
This heard the father, and with some alarm ;
" The boy," said ho, "will neither trade nor farm ;
He for both law and j^hj-sie is unflt.
Wit he may have, but camiot live on wit :
Let him his talents then to leaniing give,
Wliere verse is honour'd, and whore poet'^ live."

John kept his terms at college unroproved,
Took his degree, and left the life he loved ;
Not yet ordain'd, his leisure he emjiloy'd
In the light labouis he so much enjoy'd ;
His favourite notions and his daring views
Were cherisli'<l still, and he adored the muf^o.

" A little time, and he should burst to light,
And admiration of the world excite ;
And every friend, now cool and aj>t to blame
11 is fond pursuit, would wonder at his fame."
When led by fancy, and from view retired,
He call'd belore liim all his hoart desired ;
"Fame shall be mine, then wealth shall I possess.


And beauty next an ardent lover bloss ;
For me the luaid shall leave her nobler state,
Happy to raise and share her poet's fate."
He saw each day his father's frugal board,
With simple fare by cautious prudence stored :
"Where each indulgence wiis foreweigh'd with care,
And the grand maxims wore to save and spare :
Yet in his walks, his closet, and his bed,
All frugal cares and prudent counsels fled ;
And bounteous Fancy, for his glowing mind, _
Wrought various scenes, and all of glorious kind :
Slaves of the ring and lamp ! what need of you.
When Fancy's self such magic deeds can do '<

Though rapt in \-isions of no vulgar kind,
To commou subjects stoop'd our poet's mind ;
And oft when wearied with more ardent flight.
Ho felt a spur satiric song to write ;
A rival burgess his bold muse attack' d,
And wliiiip'd severely for a well-known fact ;
For while he secm'd to all demure and shy,
Our poet gazed at what was passing by ;
And e'en his father smiled when playful wit, _
From his young bard, some haughty object hit.

From ancient times, the borough where they dwelt
Had mighty contests at elections felt ;
Sir Godtroy Ball, 'tis true, had held in pay
Electors many for the trying day ;
But in such golden chains to bind them all
Pioquired too much for e'en Sir Godfrey Ball.
A member died, and to supply his place
Two heroes entor'd for th' important race ;
Sir Godfrey's friend and Earl Fitzdonnel's son,
Lord Frederick Damor, both prepared to run ;
And partial numbers saw, with vast delight.
Their good j'oung lord oppose the proud old knight.

Our poet's father, at a first request.
Gave the young lord his vote and interest ;
And what he could our poet, for he stung
The foe by verse satiric, said and sung.
Lord Frederick hoard of all this youthful zeal,
And felt as lords upon a canvass feel ;
Ho read the satire, and he saw the use
That such cool insult, and such keen abuse.
Might on the wavering minds of voting men produce ;
Then too his praises were in contrast seen,
" A lord as noble as the knight was mean.'

" I much rejoice," he cried, " such worth to find ;
To this the woi-ld must be no longer blind :
His glory will descend from sire to son.
The Burns of English race, the hapjuer Chattortou.''
Our poet's minil now hurried and elate,
Alarm'd the anxious pare? 1 1, fur liis fate ;
Who saw with sorrow, should their friend succeed,
That much discretion would the poet need.
U 2

292 ckabbe's poems.

Their friend succeeded, and repaid the zeal
The poet lelt, and made opposers leel.
By praise (irom lords how soothing and how sweet ! )
An invitation to his noble seat.
The father ponder'd, doubttul if the brain
Of his proud hoy such honour could sustain ;
Pleased with the iavoure ofier'd to a son,
But seeing dangers few so ardent shun.

Thus when they parted, to the youthful breast
The father's fears were by his love impress'd :
" There will you find, my son, the courteous ease
That must subdue the soul it means to please ;
That soft attention which e'en beauty pays
To walce our passions, or provoke our praise ;
There all the eye beholds will give delight.
Where every sense is fiatter'd like the sight ;
This is your peril ; can you from such scene
Of splendour part, and feel your mind serene,
And in the father's humble state resume
The frugal diet and the narrow room ? "
To this the youth with cheerful heart replied.
Pleased with the trial, but as yet untried ;
And while professing patience, shouhl he fail.
He sufiter'd hope o'er reason to prevail.

Impatient, by the morning mail convey' d.
The happy gviest his promised visit paid ;
And now arriving at the Hall, he tried
For air composed, serene and satisfied ;
As he had practised in his room alone,
And there acquired a free and easy tone :
There he had said, " Whatever the degree ^^
A man obtains, what more than man is he ? "
And when arrived — " This room is but a room ;
Can aught we see the steady soul o'ercome ?
Let me in all a manly firmness show.
Upheld by talents, and their value know."

This reason urged ; but it surpass'd his skill
To be in act as manly as in will :
When he his lordship and the lady saw.
Brave as he was, he lelt opprcss'd with awe ;
And spite of verse, that so nmdi praise had won.
The poet found he was the bailiff's son.

But dinner came, and the succeeding hours
Fix'd his weak nerves, and raised his failing powers ;
Praised and assured, he ventured once or twice
On some remark, and bravely broke the ice ;
So that, at night, reflecting on liis words.
He found, in time, he might converse with lords.

Now was the sister of his patron seen —
A lovely creature, with majestic mien ;
Who, softly smiling, while she look'd so fair,
Praised the. young poet with such friendly air ;
Such winning frankness in her looks exjiress'd.
And such attention to her brother's guest ;


That so mucli beauty, join'd with speech so kind,
liaised strong emotions in the poet's mind ;
Till reason fail'd his bosom to delond,
From the sweet power of this enchanting friend.
Rash boy ! what hope thy irantic mind invades —
What love confuses, and what i^rido persuades ?
Awake to truth ! shouldst thou deluded leod
On hopes so groundless, thou art nmd indeed.

What saj-'st thou, wise one ? '■ that all-powerful love
Can fortune's strong impediments remove ;
Nor is it strange that worth should wed to worth.
The pride of genius with the pride of birth. "
While thou ai't dreaming thus, the beauty spies
Love in thy tremor, passion in thine eyes ;
And with th' amusement pleased, of conquest vain,
She seeks her pleasure, careless of thy pain ;
She gives thee praise to humble and confound.
Smiles to ensnare, and flatters thee to wound.

Why has she said that in the lowest state
The noble mind insures a noble fate ?
And why th)' daring mind to glory call ? —
That thou mayst dare and suiter, soar and fall.
Beauties are tyrants, and if they can reign,
They have no feeling for their subjects' pain :
Their victim's anguish gives their charms applause,
And their chief glory is the woe they cause :
Something of this was felt, in spite of love.
Which hope, in spite of reason, would remove.

Thus lived our youth, with conversation, books.
And Lady Emma's soul-subduing looks ;
Lost in delight, astonish'd at his lot.
All prudence banish'd, all advice forgot —
Hopes, fears, and every thought, were fix'd upon the spot.
'Twus autumn yet, and many a (lay must irowu
Ou Brandon Hall, ere went my lord to town ;
Meantime the father, who had hoard his boy
Lived in a round of luxury and joy,
And justly thinking that the youth was one
Who, meeting danger, was unskill'd to shun ;
Knowing his temper, virtue, spirit, zeal,
How prone to hope and trust, believe and fcol ;
These on the parent's soul their weight impress'd.
And thus he wrote the counsels of his breast : —
" John, thou'rt a genius ; thou hast some pretence,
I think, to wit, — but hast thou sterling sense?
That which, like gold, may through the world go forth,
And always pass for what 'tis truly worth :
Whereas this genius, like a bill must take
Only the value our opinions make.

" Men famed for wit, of dangerous talents vain,
Treat those of common parts with proud disdain ;
Tiie powers that wisdom would, impi-oving hide,
Tliey blaze abroad with inc;onsid'rato pride ;
While yet but mere probationers for fame,

29i crabbe's roEMs.

They seize the honour they should then disclaim :
Honour so hurried to the light must fade, —
The lasting- laurels flourish in the shade.

" Genius is jealous : I have heard of some
Who, if unnoticed, g-rew perversely dumb ;
Nay, different talents would their envy raise ;
Poets have sicken'd at a dancer's praise ;
And one, the happiest writer of his time,
Grew pale at hearing Reynolds was sublime ;
That Rutland's duchess wore a heavenly smile —
'And I,' said he, 'neglected all the while ! '

"A waspish tribe are these, on gilded wings.
Humming their laj's, and brandishing their stings :
And thus they move their friends and foes among.
Prepared for soothing or satiric song.

" Hear me, my boy ; thou hast a virtuous mind —
But be thy virtues of the sober kind ;
Be not a Quixote, ever up in arms
To give the guilty and the great alarms :
If never heeded, thy attack is vain ;
And if they heed thee, they'll attack again ;
Then too in striking at that heedless rate.
Thou in an instant mayst decide thy fate.

" Leave admonition — let the vicar give
Piules how the nobles of his flock should live ;
Nor take tliat simple fancy to thy brain.
That thou canst cure the wicked and the vain.

" Our Pope, they say, once entertain'd the whim
Who fear'd not God should be afraid of him ;
But grant they fear'd him, was it further said,
Tliat he reform'd the hearts he made afraid?
Did C'hartres mend — Ward, Waters, and a score
Of flagrant feluns, with his floggings sore ?
Was (Jibber silenced ? No ; with vigour blest.
And brazen front, half earnest, half in jest,
He dared the bard to battle, and was seen
In all his glory match'd with Pope and spleen :
Himself he stripp'd, the harder blow to hit,
Then boldly match'd his ribaldry with wit ;
The poet's conquest truth and time proclaim,
But yet the battle hurt his peace and fame.

" Strive not too much for favour ; seem at ease,
And rather pleased thyself, than bent to please :
Upon thy lord with decent care attend,
But not too near ; thou canst not be a friend,
And fixvourite be not — 'tis a dangerous post —
Is gain'd by labour, and by fortune lost :
Talents like thine may make a man approved,
But other talents trusted and beloved.
Look round, my son, and thou wilt early sco
The kind of man thou art not form'd to be.

" The real favourites of tlie great are they
Who to their \'iews and wants attention pay.
And pay it ever ; who, with all their skill,


Dive to the heart, and learn the secret will ;

If that be vicious, soon can they provide

The favourite ill, and o'er the soul preside ;

For vice is weakness, and the artful know

Their power increases as the passions grow :

If indolent the pupil, hard their task ;

Such minds will ever for amusement ask ;

And great the labour for a man to choose

Objects for one v.diom nothing can amuse ;

For ere those objects can the soul delight.

They must to joy the soul herself excite ;

Therefore it is, this patient, watchful kind

With gentle friction stir the drowsy mind :

Fix'd on their end, with caution they proceed.

And sometimes give, and sometimes take the lead ;

Will now a hint conve}^ and then retire.

And let the spark awake the lingering fire.

Or seek new joys, and livelier pleasures bring

To give the jaded sense a quick'uing spring.

"These arts, indeed, my son must not pursue ;
Nor must he quarrel with the tribe that do :
It is not safe another's crimes to know,
Nor is it wise our proper worth to show : —

' My lord,' you say, ' engaged me for that worth ;' —
True,"* ami preserve it ready to come forth :
If question'd, fairly answer,— and that done.
Shrink back, be silent, and thy father's son ;

For they who doubt thy talents scorn thy boast,
But they who grant them will dislike thee most :

Observe the prudent ; they in silence sit,

Display no learning, and affect no wit ;

They hazard nothing, nothing they assume,

But "know the useful art of actiiuj dumb.

Yet to their eyes each varying look appears,

And every word finds entrance at their ears.
" Thou art religion's advocate — take heed,

Hurt not the cause, thy pleasure 'tis to plead ;

With wine before thee, and with wits beside,

Do not in strengh of reasoning powers confide ;

What seems to thee convincing, certain, plain,

They will deny, and daro thee to maintain ;

And thus will triumph o'er thy eager youth,

While thou wilt grieve for so disgracing truth.

With pain I've seen, these wrangling wits among,

Faitli's weak defenders, passionate and young ;

Weak thcni art not, yet not cnou'^h on guard,

Where wit and humour keep their watch and ward :

Men gay and noisy will o'erwhelm thy sense,

Then loudly laugh at truth's and thy expense ;

While the kind ladies will do all thoy can

To check their mirth, and cry, ' The (jood young man!'
" Prudence, my boy, forl)ids thee to commend

The cause or party of thy noble friend :

What are liis praises worth, who must be known,

296 crabbe's poems.

To take a patron's maxims for his own ?
^Vben ladies sing, or in thy presence play,
Do not, dear John, in rapture melt away ;
'Tis not thy part, there will be listeners round.
To cry ' Divine ! ' and dote upon the sound ;
Eemember, too, that though the poor have ears,
They take not in the music of the spheres ;
They must not feel the warble and the thrill,
Or be dissolved in ecstasy at will ;
Beside, 'tis freedom in a youth like thee
To drop his awe and deal in ecstasy !

" In silent ease, at least in silence, dine.
Nor one opinion start of food or wine ;
Thou know'st that all the science thou canst boast,
Is of thy father's simple boil'd and roast ;
Nor always these ; he sometimes saved his cash,
By interlinear daj's of frugal hash :
Wine hadst thou seldom ; wilt thou be so vain
As to decide on claret or champagne ?
Dost thou from me derive this taste sublime,
Who order port the dozen at a time ?
When (every glass held precious in our eyes)
We judged the value by the bottle's size :
Then never merit for thy praise assume ; _

Its worth well knows each servant in the room.

" Hard, boy, thy task, to steer thj- way among
That servile, supple, shrewd, insidious throng.
Who look upon thee as of doubtful race.
An interloper, one who wants a place :
Freedom with these, let thy free soul condemn.
Nor with thy heart's concerns associate them.

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 32 of 49)