George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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She felt the courage of a wounded heart ;
The world receded from her rising view,
When heaven approach'd as earthly things withdrew ;
Not strange before, for in the days of love,
Joy, hope, and pleasure, she had thoughts above ;
Pious when most of worldly prospects fond.
When they best pleased her, she could look beyond ;
Had the young priest a faithful lover died.
Something had been her bosom to divide :
Now heaven had all, for in her holiest views,
She saw the matron whom she fear'd to lose ;
While from her parent, the dejected maid
Forced the implcasant thought, or thinking pray'd.

Surprised, the mother saw the languid frame.
And felt indignant, yet forbore to blame :
Once with a frown she cried, "And do you mean
To die of love,— the folly of fifteen ?"
But as her anger met with no reply.
She let the gentle girl in quiet die ;
And to her sister wrote, impell'd by pain,
"Come quickly, Martha, or you come in vam."
Lucy meantime profess'd with joy sincere,
That nothing held, employ'd, engaged her here.

" I am an humble actor, doom'd to play
A part obscure, and then to glide away :
Incurious how the great or happy shine, _
Or who have parts obscure and sad as mine ;
In its best prospect I but wish'd for lilb.



TALE Vm. — THE MOTHER.



327



To be th' assiduous, gentle, useful wife ;

That lost, with wearied mind and spirit poor,

I drop my eftbrts, and can act no more ;

With arrowing joy I feel my spirits tend

To that last scene where all my duties end.
Hope, ease, delight, the thoughts of dying gave.

Till Lucv spoke with fondness of the grave ;

She smiled with wasted form, but spirit firm,

And said, " She left but little for the worai."

As toU'd the bell, "There'sone," she^said, "hathpressd

Awhile before me to the bed of rest : "

And she beside her with attention spread

The decorations of the maiden dead.

While quickly thus the mortal part declined,

The happiest visions fill'd the active mind ;

A soft, religious melancholy gain'd

Entire possession, and for ever reign'd :

On Holy Writ her mind reposing dwelt.

She saw the wonders, she the mercies felt ;

Till, in a bless'd and glorious reverie.

She seem'd the Saviour as on earth to see,

And, fill'd with love di%'ine, th' attending friend to be ;

Or she who trembling, yet confiding, stole

Near to the garment, touch'd it, and was whole ;

When, such the intenseness of the working thought,

On her it seem'd the very deed was wrought ;

She the glad patient's fear and rapture found,
The holy transport, and the healing wound ;
This was so fix'd, so grafted in the heart.
That she adopted, nay became the part:
But one chief scene was present to her sight,
Her Saviom- resting in the tomb by night ;
Her fever rose, and still her wedded mind
Was to that scene, that hallow'd cave confined—
Where in the shade of death the body laid.
There watch'd the spirit of the wandering maid ;
Her looks were fix'd, entranced, illumed, sereue.
In the still glory of the midnight scene :
There at her Saviour's feet, in visions bless'd,
Th' enraptured maid a sacred joy possess'd ;
In patience waiting for the first-born ray
Of that all-glorious and triumphant day.
To this idea all her soul she gave,
Her mind reposing by the sacred grave ;
Then sleep would seal the eye, the vision close,
And steep the solemn thoughts in brief repose.
Then grew the soul serene, and all its powers
Again restored, illumed the dying hours ;
But reason dwelt where fancy stray'd belore,
And the mind wander'd from its views no more ;
Till death approach'd, when every look express d
A sense of bliss, till every sense had rest.

The mother lives, and has enough to buy
The attentive ear and the submissive eye



323 CBABBE'S POEMS.

Of abject natures — these are daily told.
How triumph'd beauty in the days of old ;
How, by her window seated, crowds have cast
Admiring glances, wondering as they pa.s.s'd ;
How from her carriage as she stepp'd to pray,
Divided ranks would humbly make her way ;
And how each voice in the astonish'd throng
Pronounced her peerless as she moved along.

Her picture then the greedy dame displays ;
Touch'd by no shame, she now demands its praise ;
In her tall mirror then she shows her face.
Still coldly fair with unafiecting grace ;
These she compares : " It has the form," she cries,
" But wants the air, the spiiit, and the eyes :
This, as a likeness, is correct and true,
But there alone the living grace we view."
This said, th' applauding voice the dame required.
And, gazing, slowly from the glass retired.



TALE IX.

ARABELLA.

Thrice blessed they that master so their blood^
Bat earthly happier is the rose distill'd,
Than that which, withering on the viradn thorn.
Grows, Uvea, and diea in single blenedne^a.

Midtummer Xlght$ Ih-eam

I something do excnse the thing I hate.

For hia advantage that I dearly love. — iteaturt/or Jfetuure.

Contempt, lirewell : and maiden pride, adien !

Meature/or Heature.

Of a fair town where Doctor B.ack was guide.

His only daughter was the boa-st and pride —

Wise Arabella, yet not wise alone,

She like a bright and polish'd briUiant shone ;

Her father own'd her for his prop and stay.

Able to giiide, yet willing to obey ;

Pleased with her learning while fliscourse could please,

And with her love in languor and disease :

To every mother were her virtues known.

And to their daughters as a pattern shown ;

Who in her youth had all that age requires.

And with her prudence all that youth admires :

These odious praises made the damsels try

Not to obtain such merits, but deny ;

For, whatsoever wise mammas might say.

To guide a daughter, this was not the way ;

From such applause disdain and anger rise,

And envy lives where emulation dies.

In all his strength contends the noble horse

With one who just precedes him on the course ;



TALE IX. — ARABELLA.

But when the rival flies U)o far belore,
His spirit lulls, and ho attornpts no more.

This reasoninj^ maid, above her sex's dread.
Had dared to read, and dared to say she read ;
Not the last novel, not the new-Vjorn play ;
Not the mere trash and soandal ot the day ;
But (thouj,'h lier young companions ieltthe shock)
She studied lierkeley, Bacon, Hohbes, and Locke:
Her mind within the mas^e ol histfjry dwelt,
And oi the moral muse the beauty ielt ;
The merits ol the lionian pa^e she knew,
And could converse with More and Montague :
Thus she became the wonder of the town.
From that she reap'd, to that she gave renown ;
And strangers coming, all were taught t' a/lmire
The learned la'ly, and the lofty spire.
Thus fame in public fjx'd the maid where all
Might throw their darts, and see the idol tall :
A hundred arrows ctirno with vengeance keen,
From ton;.TUC8 envenoin'd, and from arms unseen ;
A thousand eyes were fix'd upon the place,
Tliat, if she fell, she might not fly disgrace :
But malice vainly throws the p(jison'd dart,
Unless our frailty shows the peccant part ;
And Arabella still preserved her name
Unt<^jueh'd, and shone with undisp\itod fame ;
Her very notice some rcsiioct would caasc.
And her esteem was huuow and apjihiuse.

Men she avoided ; not in childish fear.
Ah if she thought some savage foe was near ;
Not as a prude, who hides, that man should Kcck,
Or who by silence hints that they should speak ;
But with discretion all the sex she view'd,
Ere yet engaged, i)ur8uing or jjursued ;
p:r e love ha<l made her to his vices blind,
Or liid the favourite's failings from hei- mind.
Thu« wa« the ]<icturo of the man jiortray'd,
By merit destined for ho rare a maid ;
At whoso request she might exchange her state,
Or still be happy in a virgin's fate : —
Ho must be one with manners like her own,
His life unquestion'd, his ojiinions known ;
His stainless virtue mast all tests endure,
His honour spotless, and his bosom jiure ;
She no allowance made for sex or times.
Of lax ojiinion — r;rimes were ever crimes ;
No wretch lorsaken must his Irailty curso.
No spurious oflsi)ring drain his private i>urse ;
Ho at all times ni« passions must coinniand,
And yet possoBS — or Vjo refused her hand.

Alf this without reserve the mai<len told,
And some began to weigh the rector's gold ;
Tr) a«k wluit sum a jirudent man miRht gain,
Who had such store of virtues to maintain ?



820



330 CRABBE'S POExMS.

A Doctor Campbell, north of Tweed, came forth.
Declared his passion, and proclaim'd his worth ;
Not unapproved, for he had much to say
On every cause, and in a pleasant way ;
Not all his trust was in a pliant tongue,
His form was good, and ruddy he, and young :
But though the doctor was a man of parts,
He read not deeply male or female hearts ;
But judged that all whom he esteem' d as wise
Must think alike, though some assumed disguise ;
That every reasoning Brahmin, Christian, Jew,
Of all religions took their liberal view ;
And of her own, no doubt, this learned maid
Denied the substance, and the forms obey'd :
And thus persuaded, he his thoughts express'd
Of her o23inions, and his own profess'd : —
" All states demand this aid, the vulgar need
Their priests and prayers, their sermons and their creed ;
And those of stronger minds should never speak
(In his opinion) what might hurt the weak :
A man may smile, but still he should attend
His hour at church, and be the Church's friend.
What there he thinks conceal, and what he hears commend."

Frank was the speech, but heard with high disdain,
Nor had the doctor leave to speak again ;
A man who own'd, nay gloried in deceit,
" He might despise her, but he should not cheat."

The Vicar Holmes appear'd : he heard it said
That ancient men best pleased the prudent maid ;
And true it was her ancient friends she loved.
Servants when old she favour'd and approved ;
Age in her pious parents she revered.
And neighbours were by length of days endear'd ;
But if her husband too must ancient be,
The good old vicar found it was not he.

On Captain BUfjh her mind in balance hung —
Though valiant, modest ; and reserved, though young :
Against these merits must defects be set —
Though poor, imprudent ; and though proud, in debt :
In vain the captain close attention paid ;
She found him wanting, whom she fairly weigh'd.

Then came a youth, and all their friends agreed
That Edward Iluntli/ was the man indeed ;
Respectful duty he had paid awhile,
Then ask'd her hand, and had a gracious smile :
A lover now declared, he led the fair
To woods and fields, to visits and to prayer ;
Then whispor'd softly — " Will you name the day?"
She softly whisper'd — " If you love mo, stay."_
" Oh ! try me not beyond my strength," he cried :
" Oh ! be not weak," the prudent maid replied ;
" But by some trial your affection prove —
Respect, and not impatience, argues love :
And love no more is by impatience known,



TALE IS. — ARABELLA. 331

Than ocean's depth is by its tempests shown :

He whom a weak and fond impatience sways,

But for himself with all his fervour prays,

And not the maid he woos, but his own will obeys ;

And will she love the beinpc who prefei'S,

With so much ardour, his desire to hers ? "

Young Edward grieved, but let not grief be seen ;
He knew obedience pleased his fancy's queen :
Awhile he waited, and then cried — " Behold !
The year advancing, be no longer cold !"
For she had promised—" Let the flowers a-ppear,
And I will pass with thee the smiling year : '
Then pressing grew the youth : the more he press' (?,,
The less inclined the ma'id to his request :
" Let June arrive, "—Alas ! when April came,
It brought a stranger, and the stranger, shame ;
Nor could the lover from his house persuade
A stubborn lass whom he had mournful made ;
Angry and weak, by thoughtless vengeance moved.
She told her story to the fair beloved ;
In strongest words th' unwelcome truth was shown.
To blight his prospects, careless of her own.

Our "heroine grieved, but had too firm a heart
For him to soften, when she swore to part ;
In vain his seeming penitence and prayer, _
His vows, his tears ; she left him m despair :
His mother fondly laid her grief aside,
>^nd to the reason of the njnnph applied.

" It well becomes thee, lady, to appear.
But not to be, in very truth, severe ;
Although the crime be odious in thy sight.
That daring sex is taught such things to slight.
His heart is thine, although it once was frail ;
Think of his grief, and let his love prevail ! " _

" Plead thou no more," the lofty lass return'd :
' ' Forgiving woman is deceived and spum'd :
Say that the crime is common — shall I take
A common man my wedded lord to make ?
See ! a weak woman by his arts beti-ay'd.
An infant born his father to upbraid ;
Shall I forgive his vilcness, take his name,
Sanction his eiTor, and partake his shame ?
No ! this assent would kindred frailty prove,
A love for him would be a vicious love :
Can a chaste maiden secret counsel liold
With one whose crime by every mouth is told ?
Forbid it spirit, pmdenco, \-irtuous pride ;
Ho must despise mo, were he not denied :
The way from vice the erring mind to win
Is with presuming sinners to begin, _ ^^

And show, by scorning them, a just contempt for sin.'

The youth, repulsed, to one more niilil oonycy'd
His heart, and smiled on the remorseless maid ;
The maid, remorseless, in her pride, the while



CRABBES rOEJIS.

Despised the insult, and roturu'd the smile.

First to admire, to praise lier, and defend,
Was (now in years advanced) a virgin friend :
Much she prefcrr'd, she cried, the single state,
"It was her choice" — it surely was her fate ;
And much it pleased her in the train to view
A maiden vot'ress, wise and lovely too.

Time to the yielding mind his change imparts.
He varies notions, and he alters hearts ;
'Tis right, 'tis just to feel contempt for vice ;
But he that shows it may be over-nice :
There are, who feel, when young, the false sublime,
And proudly love to show disdain for crime ;
To whom the ftiture will new thoughts supply.
The pride will soften, and the scorn will die ;
Nay, where they still the \'ioe itself condemn.
They bear the vicious, and consort with them :
Young Captain Grove, Vi'hen one had changed his side,
Despised the venal turncoat, and defied ;
Old Colonel Crove now shakes him by the hand.
Though he who bribes may still liis vote command.
Why would not Ellen to Belinda speak.
When she had flown to London for a week.
And then return'd, to every friend's siu-prise,
With twice the spirit, and with half the size ?
She spoke not then — but, after years had flown,
A better friend had Ellen never known.
Was it the ladj - her mistake had seen ?
Or had she also such a journey been ?
No : 'twas the gradual change in human hearts.
That time, in commerce with the world, imparts ;
That on the roixghest temper throws disguise,
And steals from virtue her asperities.
The young and ardent, who with glovring zeal
Pelt wi'ath for trifles, and were proiid to feel,
Now find those trifles all the mind engage.
To soothe dull hours, and cheat the cares of age ;
As young Zelin<la, in her quaker dress,
Disdain'd each varying fashion's vile excess.
And now her friends on old Zelinda gaze.
Pleased in rich sillvs and orient gems to blaze :
Changes like these 'tis folly to condemn,
So virtue yields not, nor is changed with them.

Let us proceed : — Twelve brilliant years were past,
Yet each with less of glory than the last.
Whether these years to this fair virgin gave
A softer mind — effect they often have ;
Whether the virgin state was not so blcss'd
As that good maiden in her zeal profoss'd ;
Or whether lovers falling from her train.
Cave greater price to those she could retain,
Is all unknown.; but Arabella now
Was kindly listening to a merchant's vow,
Who ofier'd terms so fair, against his love



TALE IX. — ARABELXA,



333



To strive was folly, so she never strove.

Man in his earlier days we often find

With a too easy and unguarded mind ;

But by increasing- years and pruiienee taught,

He grows reserved", and locks up every thought :

Not thus the maiden, for in blooming youth

She hides her thought, and guards the tender truth :

This, when no longer young, no more she hides>

But frankly in thelavour'd swain confides.

Man, stubborn man, is like the growing tree.

That, longer standing, still will harder be ;

And like its fruit, the virgin, first austere,

Then kindly softening with the ripening year.

Now was the lover urgent, and the kind
And yielding lady to his suit inclined :
"A little time, my friend, is just, is right ; ^_
We must be decent in our neighbours' sight :
Still she allow'd him of his hopes to speak.
And in compassion took off week by week ;
Till few remain' d, when, wearied with delay,
She kindly meant to take oil' day by day.

That female friend who gave our virgin praise
For flying man and all his treacherous ways,
Now heard with mingled anger, shame, and fear,
Of one accepted, and a wedding near ;
But she resolved again with fi-iendly zeal
To make the maid her scorn of wedlock teel ;
For she was grieved to find her work undone.
And like a sister mourn'd the failing nun.

Why are these gentle maidens prone to make
Their sister-doves the tempting world forsake?
Why all their triumph when a maid disdains
The tyrant sex, and scorns to wear its chains?
Is it pure joy to see a sister flown

From the ftdse jileasures they themselves have known—
Or do they, as the call-birds in the cage,
Try, in pure envy, others to engage ?
And therefore paint their native woods and groves.
As scenes of dangerous joys and naughty loves ?

Strong was the maiden's hope ; her friend was proud,
And had her notions to the world avow'd ;
And, could she find the merchant weak and frail,
With power to prove it, then she must prevail ;
For .she aloud would publish his disgrace,
And save his victim from a man so base.

When all imiuiiies had been duly made.
Came the kind friend her burthen to unlade: —
"Alas ! my dear ! not all our care and art
Can thread the maze oi man's deceitful heart ;
Look not surprise— nor let resentment swell
Those lovely features,— all will yet bo well ;
And thou, from love's and man's deceptions froo.
Wilt dwell in virgin state, an<l walk to Heaven with mo.
The maiden frown'd and then conceived " that wives



334 crabbe's poems.

Could walk as well, and lead as holy lives

As ano-ry prudes who scot-n'd the marriage-chain,

Or luckless maids, who sought it still in vain."

The friend was vex'd — she paused ; at length she cried,
*■' Know your own danger, then your lot decide :
That traitor Beswell, while he seeks your hand,
Has, I affirm, a wanton at command ;
A slave, a creature from a foreign place,
The nurse and mother of a spurious race ;
Brown ugly bastards (Heaven the word forgive.
And the deed punish ! ) in his cottage live :
To town if business calls him, there he stays
In sinful pleasures wasting countless days.
Nor doubt the facts, for I can witness call,
For every crime and jjrove them one and all."

Here ceased th' informer : Arabella's look
Was like a schoolboj''s, puzzled by his book ;
Intent she cast her eyes u.pon the floor,
Paused — then rei^hed —

" I wish to know no more :
I question not your motive, zeal, or love.
But must decline such dubious points to prove.
All is not true, I judge, for who can guess
Those deeds of darkness men with care suppress ?
He brought a slave perhaps to England's coast,
And made her free ; it is our country's boast !
And she perchance too grateful — good and ill
Were sown at first, and grow together still ;
The colour'd infants on the village green,
What are they more than we have often seen ?
Children half-clothed who round their village stray,
In sun or rain, now starved, now beaten, they
Will the dark colour of their fate betray :
Let us in Christian love for all account.
And then behold to what such tales amount."

" His heart is evil," said the impatient friend :
" My duty bids me try that heart to mend,"
Replied the virgin : "we may be too nice.
And lose a soul in our contempt of vice ;
If false the charge, I then shall show regard
For a good man, and be his just reward :
And what for virtue can I better do
Than to reclaim him, if the charge be ti-uo?"

She spoke, nor more her holy work delay'd ;
'Twas time to lend an erring mortal aid :
" The noblest way," she judged, " a soul to win.
Was with an act of kindness to begin.
To make the sinner sure, and then t' attack the sin."*

• As the iiuthor's pvii-pose In this tale may be mistaken, he wishes to observe, tlial
conduct like that of the lady's here descrilwd must be nuTitorious or censurable just »
the motives to it are pure or selfish ; that these motives may in a great measure be con
cealed from the mind of the agent ; and that we often take credit to our virtue, foractiou:
which siiring originally frbm our tampers, inclinations, or our indittercnce. It canuol
therefore be improper, much less immoral, to give an instance of such self -deception.



TALE X.— THE LOVER'S JOURNEY. 335



TALE X.

THE lover's journey.

Tl.e s\m is in the heaven, and the proud day.

Attended with the pleasures of the woild,

la all too wanton. King John.

The hinatic, the lover, and the poet,

Are ol imagination all compact. — Midsummer Wight's Dream,

O, how this spring of love reaembleth

Th' uncertain glory oi an April day.
Which now shows all the beauty ot the sun.

And by-and-by a cloud takes all away.

Two Gentlemen of Verona.

And happily I have arrived at last

Unto the wishdd haven of my bliss. — Taming of the Shrew.

It is the soul that sees : the outward eyes

Present the object, but the mind descries ;

And thence delight, disgust, or cool indifl'erence rise :

When minds are joyful, then we look around,

And what is seen is all on fairy ground ;

Again they sicken, and on every view

Cast their own dull and melancholy hue ;

Or, if absorb'd by their peculiar cares.

The vacant eye on viewless matter glares;

Our feelings still upon our views attend,

And their own natures to the objects lend :

Sorrow and joy are in their influence sure,

Long as the passion reigns th' effects endure ;

But Love in minds his various changes makes.

And clothes each object with the change he takes ;

His light and shade on every view he throws,

And on each object what he feels bestows.

Fair was the morning, and the month was June,
When rose a lover ;^love awakens soon :
Brief his repose, yet much he dreamt the while
Of that day's meeting, and his Laura's smile :
Fancy and love that name assig:i'd to her,
Call'd Susan in the parish register ;
And ho no more was John — his Laura gave
The name Orlando to her faithful slave.

Bright shone the glory of the rising day.
When the fond traveller took his favourite way ;
He mounted gaily, felt his bosom light,
And all he saw was pleasing ui his sight.

"Ye hours of expectation, quickly fly, "

And bring on hours of bless'd reality ;
When I shall Laura see, beside her stand.
Hear her sweet voice, and i)rcss her yielded hand."

First o'er a l)arren heath besitlo the coast,
Orlando rode, and joy began to boa.st.

" This neat low gorso," said he, " with golden bloom,



336 crabbe's poems.

Delights each sense, is beauty, is perfume ;
And this gay ling, with all its purple flowers,
A man at leisure might admire for hours ;
This green-tringed cup-moss has a scarlet tip,
That yields to nothing but my Laura's lip ;
And then how fine this herbage ! men may say
A heath is barren ; nothing is so gay :
Barren or bare to call such charming scene
Arg-ues a mind possess'd by care and spleen."

Onward he went, and fiercer grew the heat,
Dust rose in clouds before the horse's feet ;
For now he pass'd through lanes or burning sand,
Bounds to thin crops or yet uncultured land ;
Where the dark poppy flourish'd on the dry
And sterile soil, and mock'd the thin-set rye.

" How lovely this ! " the wrapt Orlando said ;
"With what delight is laboming man rapaid !
The very lane has sweets that all admire,
The rambling suckling, and the vigorous brier ;
See ! wholesome wormwood grows beside the way,
Where dew-press'd yet the dogrose bends the spray ;
Fresh herbs the fields, fair shrubs the banks adorn,
And snow-white bloom falls flaky from the thorn ;
No fostering hand they need, no sheltering wall.
They spring uncultured, and they bloom for all."

The lover rode as hasty lovers ride,
And reach'd a common pasture wild and wide ;
Small black-legg'd sheep devour with hunger keen



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