George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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' ' Of all be cautious — but be most afraid
Of the pale charms that grace mj^ lady's maid ;
Of those sweet dimples, of that fraudftil eye,
The frequent glance dcsign'd for thee to spy ;
The soft bewitching look, the fond bewailing sigh :
Let others frown and envy ; she the while
(Insidious siren ! ) will demurely smile !
And for her gentle purpose, every day
Inquire thy wants, and meet thee in thy way ;
She has her blandishments, and, though so weak.
Her person pleases, and her actions speak ;
At first her folly may her aim defeat ;
But kindness shown, at length will kindness meet :
Have some offended ( them will she disdain.
And, for thy sake, contempt and pitj^ ieign ;
She hates the vulgar, she admires to look
On woods and groves, and dotes upon a book :
Let her once see thee on her features dwell.
And hear one sigh — then liberty farewell.

"But, John, remember we cannot maintain
A poor, proud girl, extravagant and vain.

" Doubt much of friendship : shouldst thou find a friend
Pleased to advise thee, anxious to commend ;


Should he the praises Le has heard report,

And confidence (in thee confiding:) court ;

Much of neglectful patrons should he saj'.

And then exclaim, ' How long must merit staj' !'

Then show how high thy modest hopes may stretch.

And point to stations far beyond thj^ reach ;

Let such designer, by thy conduct, see

(Civil and cool) he makes no dupe of thee ;

And he will quit thee, as a man too wise

For him to ruin first, and then despise.

"Such are thy dangers : yet, if thou canst steer
Past all the perils, all the quicksands clear.
Then niayst thou profit ; but if storms prevail,
If foes beset thee, if thj' spirits fail, —
No more of winds or waters be the sport.
But in thy father's mansion find a port."

Our poet read. — " It is in truth," said he,
" Correct in part, but what is this to me ?
I love a foolish Abigail ! in base
And sordid office ! fear not such disgrace :
Am I so blind <" " Or thou wouldst surely see
That lady's fall, if she should stoop to thee !"
" The cases differ." " True ! for what sui-prise
Could from thy marriage with the maid arise ?
But through the island woiild the shame be spread.
Should the fair mistress deign with thee to wed."

John saw not this ; and many a week had pass'd,
While the vain beauty held her victim fast ;
The noble friend still condescension show'd,
And, as before, with praises overflow'd ;
But his grave lady took a silent view

Of all that pass'd, and smiling, pitied too.

Cold grew the foggy mom, the day was brief.

Loose on the cherry hung the crimson leaf ;

The dew dwelt ever on the herb ; the woods

Roar'd with strong blasts, with mighty showers the floods :

All green was vanish'd, save of pine and yew.

That still display'd their melancholy hue ;

Save the green holly with its berries red,

And the green moss that o'er the gravel spread.
To [)ublic views my lord must soon attend ;

And soon the ladies — would they leave their friend ?

The time was fix'd — approach'd — was near — was come ;

The trying time that fill'd his soul with gloom :

Thoughtful our poet in the morning rose.

And cried, " One hour my fortune will disclose ;

Terrific hour ! from thee have I to date

Life's loftier views, or my degraded state ;

For now to be what I have been before

Is so to fall that I can rise no more."

Tlio morning meal was pa-st ; and all around

The mansion rang with each discordant sound ;

Haste was in every foot, and every look

The trav'ller'sjoyfor London journey spoko : •

293 crabbe's poems.

Not so our youth, -whose feeling-s at the noise
Of preparation, had no touch of joys :
He pensive stood, and saw each carriage drawn.
With lackeys mounted, ready on the lawn :
The ladies came ; and John in terror tlirew
One painful glance, and then his eyes withdrew ;
Not with such speed, but he in other eyes
With anguish read — " I pity, but despise —
Unhappy boy ! — presumptuous scribbler ! — you,
To dream such dreams ! — be sober, and adieu ! "

Then came the noble friend — "And will my lord
Vouchsafe no comfort — drop no soothing word ?
Yes he must speak ;" — he speaks, " My good young friend,
You know my views ; upon my care depend ;
My hearty thanks to your good father pay.
And be a student. — Harry, drive away."

Stillness reign'd all around ; of lato so full
The busy scene, deserted now and dull :
Stern is his nature who forbears to feci
Gloom o'er hia spirits on such trials steal ;
Most keenly felt our poet as he went
From room to room without a fix'd intent ;
" And here," he thought, " I was caress'd ; admired
Wore here my songs ; she smiled, and I aspired.
The change how grievous ! " As he mused, a damo
Busy and peevish to her duties came ;
Aside the tables and the chairs she drew.
And sang and mutter'd in the jjoet's view : —
" This was her fortune ; here they leave the poor ;
Enjoy themselves, and think of us no niore ;
I had a promise " — here his pride and shame
Urged him to fly fi-om this familiar dame ;
He gave one farewell look, and by a coach
Eeach'd his own mansion at the night's approach.

His father met him with an anxious air.
Heard his sad tale, and check'd what soem'd despair :
Hope was in him corrected, but alive ;
My lord would something for a friend contrive ;
His word was pledged : our hero's feverish mind
Admitted this, and half his grief resign'd.
But, when three months had fled,, and every day
Drew from the sickening hopes their strength away,
The youth became abstracted, pensive, dull ;
He utter'd nothing, though his heart was full ;
Teased by inq\iiiing words and anxious looks,
And all forgetful of his muse and books ;
Awake ho niourn'd, but in his sleep perceived
A lovely vision that his pain relieved : —
His soul, transported, hail'd the happy seat.
Where once his pleasvu'e was so inu'c and sweet ;
Where joys departed came in blissful view
Till reason waked, and not a joy he knew.

Questions now vex'd his spirit, most from those
Who aro call'd friends, because they aro not foes :


"John ! " they would say ; he, starting, tnni'd aroiind
"John ! " there was something shocking in the sound :
111 brook'd he then the pert familiar phrase,
The imtauuht freedom and th' inquiring gaze :
JMuch was his temper touch'd, his spleen provoked,
When ask'd how ladies talk'd, or walk'd, or look'd.
" What said my lord of politics — how spent
He there his time— and was he glad he went ?"
At length a letter came, both cool and brief.
But still it gave the burthen'd heart relief :
Though not inspired by lofty hopes, the youth
Placed much reliance on Lord Frederick's truth ;
Bummon'd to town, he thought the visit one
Where something fair and friendly would be done :
Although ho judged not as before his fall,
When all was love and promise at the Hall.
Ai-rived in town, he early sought to know
The fate such dubious friendship would bestow ;
At a tall building, trembling he appear'd,
And his low rap was indistinctly heard ;
A well-known servant came — " Awhile," said he,
" Be pleased to wait ; my lord has company."
Alone our hero sat ; the news in hand.
Which though he read, he could not understand :
Cold was the day ; in days so cold as these
There needs a fire where minds and bodies freeze.
The vast and echoing room, the polish'd grate,
The crimson chairs, the sideboard with its plate ;
The splendid sofa, which, though made for rest,
He then had thought it fi-ecdom to have press'd ;
Tlie shining tables, curioiisly inlaid, _ .
Were all in comfortless proud style display'd ;
And to the troubled feelings terror gave,
That made the once dear friend the aick'ning slave.

" Was he forgotten ?" Thrice upon his ear
Struck the loud clock, yet no relief was near :
Each rattling carriage, and each thundering stroke
On the loud door, the dream of fancy broke ;
Oft as the servant chanced the way to come,
" Brings he a mess.-ige?" no ! he pass'd the room :
At length 'tis certain ; "Sir, you will attend
At twelve on Thm-sday!" Thus the day had end.
Vcx'd by these tedious hours of needless pain,
John left the noble mansion with disdain ;
For there something in that still, cold place.
That seem'd to threaten and portend disgrace.
Punctual again the modest rap declared
Tho youth attended ; then was all prci)ared :
For the same servant, by his lord's command,
A paper ofter'd to his tremblint;- hand :
"No more !" he cried ; "disdains ho to afTord
One kind expression, one consoling word '("

With trouhlo(l spirit he bc'jran to read
That "in the Church my lord could not succeed ;"


SOO crabbe's poems.

Who had " to peers of either kind applied,
And was with dignity and grace denied ;
While his own livings were by men possess'd
Not likely in their chancels yet to rest ;
And therefore, all things weigh' d (as he, my lord,
Had done maturely, and he pledged his word).
Wisdom it seem'd for John to tm-n his view
To busier scenes, and bid the Church adieu ! "

Here grieved the youth : he lelt his father's prido
Must with his own be shock'd and mortified ;
But when he found his future comforts placed
Where he, alas ! conceived himself disgraced — ■
In some appointment on the London quays,
He bade farewell to honour and to ease ;
His spirit fell, and ft-om that hour assured
How vain his dreams, he suifer'd and was cured.

Our poet hurried on, with wish to fly
From all mankind, to beconceal'd, and die.
Alas ! what hopes, what high romantic views
Did that one visit to the soul infuse,

Which cherish'd with such love, 'twas worse than death to lose !
Still he would strive, though painful was the strife,
To walk in this appointed road of life ;
On these low duties duteous he would wait.
And patient bear the anguish of his fate.
Thanks to the patron, but of coldest kind,
Express'd the sadness of the poet's mind ;
Whose heavy hours were pass'd with busy men.
In the dull practice of th' official pen ;
Who to superiors must in time impart
(The custom this) his progress in their art :
But so had grief on his perception wrought,
That all unheeded were the duties taught ;
No answers gave he when his trial came.
Silent he stood, but suffering without shamo ;
And they observed that words severe or kind
Made no impression on his wounded mind :
For all perceived from whence his failure rose,
Some grief, whose cause he deign'd not to disclose.
A soul averse from scenes and works so new,
Fear ever shrinking from the vulgar crew ;
Distaste for each mechanic law and rule.
Thoughts of past honour and a patron cool ;
A grieving parent, and a feeling mind.
Timid and ardent, tender and refined :
These all with mighty force the youth assail'd.
Till his soul fainted, and his renson fail'd :
When this was known, and some debate arose.
How they who saw it should the fact disclose.
He found their purpose, and in terror fled
From unseen kindness, with mistaken dread.
Meantime the parent was distress'd to find
His son no longer for a priest dcsign'd ;
But still he gain'd some comfort by the news


Of John's promotion, though with humbler views ;
FdV ho conceived that in no distant time
The boy would learn to scramble and to climb ;
He little thought a son, his hope and pride.
His favour'd boy, was now a homo denied :
Yes ! while the parent was intent to trace
How men in office climb from place to place,
By day, by night, o'er moor and heath, and hill,
Roved the sad youth, with ever-changing will,
Of every aid bereft, exposed to every ill.
Thus as he sat, absorb' d in all the care
And all the hope that anxious fathers share,
A friend abi-uptly to his presence brought,
AVith trembling hand, the subject of his thought ;
Whom he had found afflicted and subdued
By hunger, sorrow, cold, and solitude.
Silent he enter'd the forgotten room.
As ghostly forms may be conceived to come ;
With sorrow-shrunken face and hair upright.
He look'd dismay'd, neglect, despair, aflright ;
But dead to comfort, and on misery thrown.
His parent's loss he felt not, nor liis own.

The good man, struck with horror, cried aloud,
And drew around him an astonish'd crowd ;
The sons and servants to the father ran.
To share the feehngs of the grieved old man.

"Our brother, speak !" they all exclaim'd, "explain
Thy grief, thy suffering : — but they ask'd in vain :

The friend told all he knew ; and all was known,

Save the sad causes whence the ills had grown ;

But, if obscure the cause, they all agreed

From rest and kindness must the c\xre proceed :

And he was cured ; for quiet, love, and care

Strove with the gloom, and broke on the despair ;

Yet slow their progress, and as vapours move

Dense and reluctant from the wintry grove ;

All is confusion, till the morning light

Gives the dim scene obscurely to the sight ;

More and yet more definetl the trunks appear.

Till the wild prospect stan<ls distinct and clear ; —

So the dark mind of om- young poet grew

Clear and sedate ; the dreadful mist withdrew ;

And he resembled that bleak wintry scene.

Sad, though unclouded ; dismal, though serene.
At times he utter'd, " What a dream was mine

And what a prospect ! glorious and divine !

Oh ! in that room, and on that night to see

These looks, that sweetness beaming all on me ;

That siren Hattery— and to send me then,

Hope-raised and soften'd, to those heartless men ;

That dark-brow'd stern director, pleased to show

Knowledge of subjects I disdain'd to know ;

Cold and controlling — but 'tis gone — 'tis past ;

I had my trial, and liavc peace at last."

B02 crabbe's poems.

Now grew the youth resign'd • ho bade adieu
To all that hope, to all that fancy drew ;
His frame was languid, and the hectic heat
Flush'd on his pallid face, and countless beat
The quick'ning pulse, and faint the hmbs that bore
The slender form that soon would breathe no more.

Then hope of holy kind the soul sustain'd ;
And not a lin^-ering thou'^ht of earth reniain'd ;
Now heaven had all, and he coidd smile at love,
And the wild sallies of his youth reprove ;
Then could he dwell upon the tempting days,
The proud aspiring thought, the partial praise ;
Victorious now, his worldly' views were closed,
And on the bed of death the youth reposed.

The father grieved — but as the poet's heart
Was all unfitted for his earthly part ;
As, he conceived, some other haughty fair
Would, had he lived, have led him to despair ;
As, with this fear, the silent grave shut out
All feverish hope, and all tormenting doubt ;
While the strong faith the pious youth posscss'd,
His hope enlivening gave his sorrows rest ;
Soothed by these thoughts, he folt a mournful joy
For his aspiring and devoted boy.

Meantime the news through various channels spread^
The youth, once favom-'d with such praise, was dead :
" Emma," the lady cried. " my words attend.
Your siren smiles have kill'd your humble friend ;
The hope you raised can now delude no more,
Nor chai-ms, that once inspired, can now restore."

Faint was the flush of anger and of shame.
That o'er the cheek of conscious beauty came :
" You censure not," said she, "the sun's bright rays,
When fools imprudent dare the dangerous gaze ;
And should a stripling look till he were blind.
You would not justly call the light unkind :
But is he dead — and am I to suppose
The power of poison in such looks as those ? "
She spoke, and pointing to the mirror, cast
A pleased gay glance, and curtsied as she pass'd.

Mj' lord, to whom the poet's fate was told,
Was much affected, for a man so cold :
" Dead ! " said his lordship, " run distracted — mad !
Upon my soul I'm sorry for the lad ;
And now no doubt th' obliging world will say
That my harsh usage help'd him on his way :
What ! I snp[)i)sc, I .should have nursed his muso,
And with chami>agiie have brighten 'd up his views ;
Then had ho ma<lo mo famed my whole life long,
And stunn'd my ears with gratitude and song.
Still should tho" father hoar that I regret
Our joint misfortune — yes ! Fll not forget."

Thus they : — the father to his grave eonvey'd
The son he loved, and his last duties paid.


"There lies my boy," he cried, "of care bereft.
And heaven be praised, I've not a genius left :
No one amono; ye, sons, is doom'd to live
On high-raised hojies of what the great maj' give ;
None, with exalted \ncwB and fortunes mean,
To die in anguish, or to live in spleen :
Your pious brother soon escaped the stiife
Of such contention, but it cost his life ;
You then, my sons, upon yourselves depend.
And in your own exertions find the fi'ieud."



Yea, faith. It is my coTisin's duty to make a curtay, and say " Father, as K plcaao you ;"
but yet for all that, cousiu, let him be a liaudsome fellow, or else make another cuitay and
Bay, " Father, as it please me." — Much Ado about Nothing,

He cannot flatter, he !
An honest mind and plain — he must speak truth.

Kiny Lear.

God hath (nvcn you one face, and you make yourselves another ; yon jig, you amhle,
and you lisp, and nick -name God's cuatures, and make yuur wantonness your ignorance.

What fire is in mine ears ? Can this be true ;
Am I contcmn'd for jjride and sconi so much ?

Much Ado about yotMnr/.

Grave Jonas Kindred, ^^yhi\ Kindred's sire,
Was six feet high, and look'd six inches higher ;
Erect, morose, determined, solemn, slow,
W'lio knew the man, could never cease to know ;
His tiiithful spouse, when Jonas was not by.
Had a firm presence and a steady eye ;
But with her husband dropp'd her look and tone.
And Jonas ruled unquestion'd and alone.

He read, and oft wouM (juote the sacrc<l words,
How pious husbands oi their wives were lords ;
Sarah call'd Abraham Lord, and who could be.
So Jonas thought, a greater man than he ?
Himself he view'd with undisguised respect.
And never pardon'd freedom or neglect.

They had one daughter, and this favourite child
Had oft the father of his sjjleen beguiled ;
Soothed by attention from her early years,
She gain'd all wishes by her smiles or tears ;
But Sijhil then w;ls in that playful time,
When contradiction is not liolil a crime ;
When parents yield their children idle praise
For faults corrected in their after-days.

Peace in the sober house of Jonas dwelt.
Where each his duty and liis station felt :
Yet not that peace some favour'd morUds find.
In equal views and harmony of mind ;

304 crabbe's poems.

Not the soft peace that blesses those who love,
Where all with one consent in union move ;
But it was that which one superior will
Commands, by making all inleriors still ;
Who bids all murmurs, all objections, cease.
And with imperious voice announces — peace.

They were, to wit, a remnant of that crew.
Who, as their foes maintain, their sovereign slew ;
An independent race, precise, correct,
Who ever married in the kindred sect :
No son or daughter of their order wed
A friend to England's king who lost his head ;
Cromwell was still their saint, and when thej' met.
They mourn'd that saints'" were not our rulers yet.

Fix'd were their habits ; they arose betimes,
Then pray'd their hour, and sang their party-rhymes :
Their meals were plenteous, regular, and plain.
The trade of Jonas brought him constant gain ;
Vender of hops and malt, of coals and corn —
And, like his fiither, he was merchant born.
Neat was their house ; each table, chair, and stool.
Stood in its place, or moving moved by rule ;
No lively print or picture graced the room ;
A plain brown paper lent its decent gloom ;
But here the eye, in glancing rcJund survey'd
A small recess that seem'd for china made ;
Such pleasing pictures seem'd this pencill'd ware.
That few would search for nobler objects there —
Yet, turn'd by chosen fiiends, and there appear'd
His stern strong features, whom they all revered ;
For there in lofty air was seen to stand
The bold Protector of the conquer'd land,
Drawn in that look with which he wept and swore,
Turn'd out the members, and made fast the door.
Ridding the House of every knave and drone,
Forced, though it grieved his soul, to rule alone.
The stern still smile each friend approving gave,
Then turn'd the view, and all again wore grave.

There stood a clock, though small the owner's need.
For habit told when all things should proceed ;
Few their amusements, but when friends appear'd.
They with the world's distress their .spirits cheer'd ;
The nation's guilt, that would not long endure
The reign of men so modest and so pure :
Their town was large, and seldom pass'd a day
But some had fail'd, and others gone astray ;
Clerks had .absconded, wives eloped, girls flown
To Gretna-Green, or sons rebellious grown ;
Quarrels and fires arose ; — and it w.'is plain
The times were bad ; the Saints had ceased to reign !
A few j'et lived, to languish ami to mourn
For good (jld manners never to return.

• This appellation ifl here used not ironically, nor wiUi mali;^nity ; hut it is takei
merely to Utsigiiatc a luoiosuly devout people, with peculiar austerity ol miumers.


Jonas had sisters, and of these was one
Who lost a husband and an only son :
Twelve months her sables she in sorrow wore,
And mom-n'd so long that she could mourn no more.
Distant from Jonas, and from all her race^
She now resided in a lively place ;
There, by the sect unseen, at whist she play'd.
Nor was of churchmen or their church afraid :
If much of this the graver brother heard,
He something censured, but he little fear'd ;
He knew her rich and fnigal ; for the rest.
He felt no care, or if he felt, suppress'd :
Nor for companion when she ask'd her niece,
Had he suspicions that disturb'd his peace ;
Frugal and rich, these virtues as a charm
Preserved the thoughtful man from all alarm ;
An infant yet, she soon would home return.
Nor stay the manners of the world to learn ;
Meantime his boys would all his care engross,
And bo his comforts if ho felt the loss.

The sprightly Sybil, pleased and unconfined,
Felt the pure pleasure of the opening mind :
All here was gay and cheerful — all at home
Unvaried quiet and unruffled gloom :
There were no changes, and amusements few ;
Here all was varied, wonderful, and new ;
There were plain meals, plain dresses', and grave looks —
Here, gay companions and amusing books ;
And the young beauty soon began to taste
The light vocations of the scene she graced.
A man of business feels it as a crimo
On calls domestic to consume his time ;
Yet this grave man had not so cold a heart.
But with his daughter he was grieved to part :
And he demanded that in every year
The aimt and niece should at his house appear.

" Yes ! wo must go, my child, and by our dress
A grave conformity of mind express ;
Must sing at meeting, and from cards refrain,
The more t' enjoy when we return again."

Thus spake the aunt, and the discerning child
Was pleased to learn liow fathers are beguiled.
Her artful part the young dissemljlcr took.
And from the matron caught th' approving look.
When thrice the friends had met, excuse was sent
For more delay, and Jonas was content ;
Till a tall maiden by her sire was seen.
In all the bloom and beauty of sixteen ;
He gazed admiring ; she, with visage prim.
Glanced an arch look of gravity on him ;
For slio was gay at heart, but woro di.sguise.
And stood a vestal in hor father's oycs :
Pure, pensive, simple, sad ; tho damsel's heart,
When Jonas praised, reproved her for the part ;

30(5 crabbe's poems.

For Sybil, fond of pleasure, gay and light,
Had still a secret bias to the right ;
Vain as she was— and flattery made her vaui—
Her simulation gave her bosom pain.

Again return'd, the matron and the niece
Found the late quiet gave their joy increase ;
The aunt infirm no more her visits paid,
But still with her sojourn' d the favourite maid.
Letters were sent when franks could be procured,
And when they could not, silence was endured ;
All were in health, and if they older grew,
It seem'd a fact that none among them knew ;
The aunt and niece still led a pleasant life.
And quiet days had Jonas and his wife.

Near him a widow dwelt of worthy fame.
Like his her manners, and her creed the same ;
The wealth her husband left her care retain' d
For one tall youth, and widow she remain'd ;
His love respectful all her care repaid.
Her wishes watch'd, and her commands obey d.

Sober he was and grave from early youth,
Mindful of forms, but more intent on truth :

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 33 of 49)