George Crabbe.

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See, on the floor, what frouzy patches rest !
What nauseous fragments on you fractured chest !
What downy dust beneath yon window-seat !
And round these posts that serve this bed for feet !
This bed where all those tatter'd garments lie.
Worn by each sex, and now perforce thrown bj' !

See ! as we gaze, an infant lifts its head.
Left by neglect, and burrow'd in that bed ;
The mother-gossip has the love suppress'd
An infant's cry once waken 'd in her breast ;
And daily prattles, as her rounds she takes
(With strong resentment), of the want she makes.

Whence all these woes ? — From want of virtuous will.
Of honest shame, of time-improving skill ;
From want of care t' employ the vacant hour.
And want of every kind but want of power.

Here are no wheels for cither wool or flax,
But packs of cards— made up of sundry packs.
Here is no clock, nor will thoy turn the glass,
And see how swift th' important moments pass
Here are no books, but ballads on the wall,

c



18 CRABBE'S POEMS.

Are some abusive, and indecent all ;

Pistols are here, unpair'd ; with nets and hooks,

Of every kind, for rivers, ponds, and brooks ;

An amjile flask, that nightly rovers fill

With recent poison from the Dutchman's still ;

A box of tools, with wires of various size,

Frocks, wigs, and hats, for night or day disguise.

And bludgeons stout, to gain or guard a prize.

To every house belongs a space of ground,
Of equal size, once fenced with paling round ;
That paling now by slothful waste destroy'd.
Dead gorse and stumps of elder fill the void ;
Save in the centre spot, whose walls of clay
Hide sots and striplings at their drink or play :
Within, a board, beneath a tiled retreat,
Allures the bubble, and maintains the cheat ;
Where heavy ale in spots like varnish shows,
Where chalky tallies yet remain in rows ;
Black pipes and broken jugs the seats defile,
The walls and windows, rhymes and reck'nings vile ;
Prints of the meanest kind disgrace the door,
And cards, in curses torn, lie fragments on the floor.

Here his poor bird, th' inhuman cocker brings.
Arms his hard heel, and clips his golden wings ;
With spicy food th' impatient spirit feeds.
And shouts and curses as the battle bleeds.
Struck through the brain, deprived of both his eyes,
The vanquish'd bird must combat till he dies ;
Must faintlj' peck at his victorious foe.
And reel and stagger at each feeble blow :
When fallen, the savage grasps his dabbled plumes.
His bloodstain'd arms for other deaths assumes ;
And damns the craven fowl, that lost his stake.
And only bled and perish 'd for his sake.

Such are our peasants, those to whom we yield
Praise with relief, the fathers of the field ;
And these who take from our reluctant hands
What Burn advises or the Bench commaiids.

Our farmers round, well pleased with constant gain.
Like other farmers, flourish and complain. —
These are our groups ; our portraits next appear.
And close our exhibition for the year.



With evil omen we that year begin :
A child of shame — stern Justice adds, of sin.
Is first recorded ; — I would hide the deed.
But vain the wish ; I sigh, and I proceed :
And coiild I well th' instructive truth convey,
'Twould warn the giddy and awake the gay.

Of all the nymphs who gave our village grace.
The miller's daughter had the fairest face :
Proud was the miller : monej' was his pride ;
Ho roile to market, as our farmers ride.
And 'twas his boast, inspired by spirits, there.



THE PARISH EEGISTER — BAITISMS. 19

His favo\irite Lucy should be rich as fair ;
But she must meek and still obedient prove,
And not presume, without his leave, to love.

A j'outhful sailor heard him ; — " Ha ! " quoth he,
"This miller's maiden is a prize for me ;
Her charms I love, his riches I desire.
And all his threats but fan the kindling fire ;
My ebbiu": purse no more the foe shall fill,
But love's kind act, and Lucy at the mill."

Thus thought the youth, and soon the chase began,
Stretch'd all his sail, nor thought of pause or plan :
His trusty staff in his bold hand he took.
Like him, and like his frigate, heart of oak ;
Fresh were his features, his attire was new ;
Clean was his linen, and his jacket blue :
Of finest jean his trousers, tight and trim,
Brush'd the large buckle at the silver rim.

He soon arrived, he traced the village green.
There saw the maid, and was with pleasure seen ;
Then talk'd of love, till Lucy's yielding heart
Confess'd 'twas painful, though "twas right, to pai'fc.

" For ah ! my father has a haughty soul ;
Whom best he loves, he loves but to control ;
Me to some churl in bargain he'll consign.
And make some tyrant of the parish mine :
Cold is his heart, and he with looks severe
Has often forced but never shed the tear ;
Save when my mother died, some drops express'd
A kind of sorrow for a wife at rest : —
To me a master's stern regard is shown,
I'm like his steed, prized highly as his own :
Stroked but corrected, threaten'd when supplied,
His slave and boast, his victim and his pride."

" Cheer up, my lass ! I'll to thy father go, —
The miller cannot be the sailor's ibe ;
Both live by heaven's free gale, that plays aloiwl
In the stretch'd canvas and the piping shroud ;
The rush of winds, the flapping sails above.
And rattling planks within, are sounds tve love ;
Calms arc our dread ; when tempests plough the deep,
We take a reef, and to the rocking sleep."

" Ha ! " quoth the miller, moved at speech so rash,
"Art thou like mo ? then whore thy notes and cash ?
Away to Wapping, and a wife command.
With all thy wealth, a guinea in thine hand ;
There wilh thy messmates quatl' the nuiddy cheer.
And leave my Lucy for thy betters here."

" Revenge ! revenge ! " the angry lover cried.
Then sought the nymph, and " Be thou now uiy brido.
Bride had she been, but they no priest could move
To bind in law the couple bound by love.

What sought these lovers then by day, by night.
But stolen moments of disturb'd delight ;
Soft trembling tumults, torroi-s dearly prized,
c 2



20 CRABBES POEMS.

Transports that pain'd, and joys that agonized?
Till the fond damsel, pleased with lad so trim,
Awed by her parent, and enticed by him.
Her lovely f rm from savage power to save.
Gave — not her hand — but all she could she gave.

Then came the day of shame, the grievous night,
The varying look, the wand'ring appetite ;
The joy assumed, while sorrow dimm'd the eyes.
The forced sad smiles that follow'd sudden sighs ;
And every art, long used, but used in vain,
To hide thy progress, Nature, and thy pain.

Too eager ca\ition shows some danger 's near,
The bully's bluster proves the coward's fear ;
His sober step the drunkard vainly tries,
And nymphs expose the failings thej' disguise.

First, whispering gossips were in parties seen,
Then louder Scandal walk'd the village green ;
Next babbling Folly told the growing ill.
And busy Malice dropp'd it at the mill.

" (io ! to thy curse and mine," the father said,
" Strife and confusion stalk around thy bed ;
Want and a wailing brat thj' portion be.
Plague to thy fondness, as thy fault to me.
Where skulks the villain ?" —

" On the ocean wide
My William seeks a portion for his bride." —

"Vain be his search ; but, till the traitor come,
The higgler's cottage be thy futiu'e home ;
There with his ancient shrew and care abide.
And hide thy head, — thy .shame thou canst not hide."

Day after day was pass'd in pains and grief;
Week follow'd week, — and still was no relief ;
Her boy was born, — no laxls nor la.sses came
To grace the rite, or give the child a nanio ;
Nor grave conceited nurse, of office proud,
Bore the young Christian roaring through the crowd :
In a small chamber was my office done.
Where blinks through paper'd panes the setting sun ;
Where noisy sparrows, perch 'd on penthouse near,
Chirp tuneless joy, and mock the frequent tear ;
Bats on their webby wings in darkness move.
And feebly shriek their melancholy love.

No sailor came ; the months in terror fled !
Then news arrived — he fought, and he was dead!

At the lone cottage Lucy lives, and still
Walks for her weekly pittance to the mill ;
A mean seraglio there her father keeps,
Whose mirth insults her, as she stands and weeps ;
And sees the plenty, while comjicU'd to stay.
Her father's pride become his harlot's prey.

Throiij^diout the lanes she glides at evening's close.
And soltly lulls her infant to rcpo.se ;
Then sits and gazes, but with viewless look,
As gilds the irioon the rippling of the brook ;



THE PARISH REGISTER — BAniSMS. 21

And sings her vespers, but in voice so low,

She hears their murmurs as the waters flow ;

And she too murmurs, and begins to find

The solemn wanderings of a wounded mind.

Visions of terror, views of woe succeed,

The mind's impatience, to the body's need ;

By turns to that, by turns to this a prey,

She knows what reason jdelds, and dreads what madness may.

Next, with their boy, a decent couple came, "
And call'd him Robert, — 'twas his father's name ;
Three girls preceded, all by time endear'd.
And future births were neither hoped nor lear'd ;
Blest in each other, but to no excess.
Health, quiet, comfort, form'd their happiness ;
Love all made up of torture and delight.
Was but mere madness in this couple's sight :
Susan could think, though not without a sigh,
II she were gone, who should her place supply ;
And Robert, half in earnest, half in jest,
Talk of her spouse, when he should be at rest :
Yet strange would either think it to be told.
Their love was cooling, or their hearts were cold.
Few were their acres, — but, with these content.
They were, each pay-day, ready with their rent :
And tew their wishes — what their farm denied,
The neighbouring town, at trifling cost, suppUed.
It at the draper's window Susan cast
A longing look, as with her goods she paes'd.
And, with the produce of the wheel and chmTi,
Bought her a Sunday robe on her return ;
True to her maxim, she vvould take no rest
Till care repaid that portion to the chest :
Or if, when loitering at the Whitsun-tair,
Her Robert spent some idle shillings there ;
Up at the barn, before the break of day.
He made his labour for th' indulgence pay :
Thas both — that waste itself might work in vain —
Wrought double tides, and all was well again.

Yet, though so prudent, there were times of joy
(The day they wed, the christening of the boy).
When to the wealthier farmers there was shown
Welcome unfeign'd, and plenty like their own ;
For Susan served the great, and had some prido
Among our topmost people to preside :
Yet in that plenty, in that welcome free,
There was the guiding nice frugality.
That, in the festal as the frugal day.
Has, in a different mode, a sovereign sway ;
As tides the same attractive influence know.
In the least ebb and in their proudest flow
1'he wise frugality, that does not give
A life to saving, but that saves to live ;
Sparing, not pinching, mindful though not mean.
O'er all presiding, yet in nothing seen.



22 cuabbe's poems.

Recorded next a babe of love I trace !
Of many loves, the mother's frtish disgrace. —

"Again, thou harlot ! could not all thy pain,
All my reproof, thy wanton thoughts restrain '( "

" Alas ! yom' reverence, wanton thoughts, I grant.
Were once my motive, now the thoughts of want ;
Women, like me, as ducks in a decoy,
Swim down a stream, and seem to swim in joy.
Your sex pursue us, and our own disdain ;
Return is dreadful, and escape is vain.
Would men forsake us, and would women strive
To help the fall'n, their virtue might revive."

For rite of churching soon she made her way.
In dread of scandal, should she miss the day : —
Two matrons came ! with them she humbly knelt.
Their action copied and their comforts lelt,
From that great pain and peril to be free.
Though still in peril of that pain to be ;
Alas ! what numbers, like this amorous dame,
Are quick to censure, but are dead to shame !

Twin infants then appear ; a girl, a boy,
Th' o'erflowing cup of Gerard Ablett's joy :
One had I named in every year that pass'd
Since Gerard wed ; and twins behold at last !
Well pleased, the bridegroom smiled to hear — " A vino
Fruitful and spreading round the walls be thine.
And branch-like be thine offspring ! " — Gerard then
Look'd joyful love, and softly said " Amen."
Now of that vino he'd have no more increase,
Those playful branches now disturb his peace :
Them he beholds around his tables spread.
But finds, the more the branch, the less the bread ;
And while they run his humble walls about.
They keep the sunshine of good humour out.

Cease, man, to grieve ! thy master's lot survey,
Whom wife and children, thou and thine obey ;
A fai-mer proud, beyond a farmer's pride.
Of all around the envy or the guide ;
Who trots to market on a steed so fine.
That when I meet him, I'm ashamed of mine ;
Whoso board is high uphoap'd with generous faro.
Which five stout sons and three tall daughters share.
Cease, man, to grieve, and listen to his care.

A few years fled, and all thy boys shall bo
Lords of a cot, and labourers like thee :
Thy girls unportion'd neigh b' ring youth shall lead
Brides from m}' church, and thenceforth thou art freed :
But then thy master shall of cares complain,
Care after care, a long connected train ;
His sons for farms shall ask a large supply.
For fanners' sons each gentle miss, shall sigh ;
Thy mistress, reasoning well of life's decay.
Shall ask a chaise, and hardly brook delay ;
The smart young comet, who with so much grace



THE PARISH REGISTER — BAPTISMS. Ztf

Kode in the ranks and betted at the race.
While the vex'd parent rails at deeds so rash,
Shall d — n his luck, and stretch his hand for cash.
Sad troubles, Gerard ! now pertain to thee.
When thy rich master seems from trouble free ;
But 'tis one fate at different times assign 'd,
And thou shalt lose the cares that he must find.

" Ah ! " quoth our village grocer, rich and old,
"Would I might one such cause for care behold ! "
To whom his friend, " Mine greater bliss would be.
Would Heav'n take those my spouse assigns to me."

Aged were both, that Dawkins, Ditchem this.
Who much of marriage thought, and much amiss ;
Both would delay, the one, till— riches gain'd,
The son he wish'd might be to honour train'd ;
His friend — lest fierce intruding heirs should como
To waste his hoard and vex his quiet home.

Dawkins, a dealer once, on burthen'd back
Bore his whole substance in a pedlar's pack ;
To dames discreet, the duties yet unpaid.
His stores of lace and hyson he couvey'd :
When thus enrich'd, he chose at home to stop,
And fleece his neighbours in a new-built shop ;
Then woo'd a spinster blithe, and hoped, when wed,
For love's fair favours and a fruitful bed.

Not so his friend ; — on widow fair and staid
He fix'd his eye, but he was much afraid ;
Yet woo'd ; while she his hair of silver hue
Demurely noticed, and her eye withdrew :
Doubtful he paused— " Ah ! were I sure," he cried,
No craving chiMren would my gains divide ;

Fair as she is, I would my widow take,

And live more largely tor my partner's sake."

With such their views some thoughtful yeai-s they pass'd,

And hoping, dreading, they were bound at last.

And what their fate ? Observe them as they go.

Comparing fear with tear and woo with woo.

" Humphrey ! " said Dawkins, "envy in my breast

Sickens to see thee in thy children blest :

They are thy joys, while I go grieving home

To a sad spouse, and our eternal gloom :

We look despondency ; no intant near

To bless the eye or win the parent's ear ;

Our sudden heats and quarrels to allay.

And soothe the petty sufferings of the day :

Alike our want, yet both the want reprove ;

' Where are,' I cry, ' these pledges of our love? '

When she, like Jacob's wife makes fierce reply,

Yet fond—' Oh ! give me children, or I die : '

And I return — still childless doom'd to live,

Like the vex'd patriarch—' Are they mine to give? '

Ah ! much I envy thee thy boys, who ride

Oil poplar branch, and canter at thy side ;

And girls, whose cheeks thy chin's tierce fondness know,



24 CRABBE'S POEMS.

And with fresh beauty at the contact glow."

" Qh ! simple Iriend," said Ditchem, " wouldst thou gain
A lather's pleasure by a husband's pain ?
Alas ! what pleasure -when some vig'rous boy
Should swell thy pride, some rosy girl thy joy ;
Is it to doubt who grafted this sweet flower,
Or whence arose that spii'it and that | lower ?
Four years I've wed ; not one has pass'd in vain ;
Behold the fifth ! behold a babe again !
My wife's gay friends th' unwelcome imp admire,
And fill tho room with gratulation dire :
While I in silence sate, revolving all
That influence ancient men, or that befall ;
A gay pert guest — Heav'n knows his business — came ;
' A glorious boy ! ' he cried, ' and what the name ? '
Angry I growl'd, — ' My spirits cease to tease,
Name it yourselves, — Cain, Judas, if you please ;
His father's give him, — should you that explore,
The devil's or yours : ' — I said and sought the door.
My tender partner not a word or sigh
Gives to my wrath, nor to my speech reply ;
But takes her comforts, triumphs in my pain,
And looks undaunted for a birth again."

Heirs thus denied aflBict the pining heart,
And thus afforded, jealous pangs impart ;
Let, therefore, none avoid, and none demand
These arrows number'd for the giant's hand.

Then with their infants three, the parents came,
And each assign' d— 'twas all they had — a name ;
Names of no mark or price ; of them not one
Shall court our view on the sepulchral stone,
Or stop the clerk, th' engraven scrolls to spell.
Or keep the sexton from the sermon bell.

An orphan-girl succeeds : ere she was born
Her father died, her mother on that mom :
The pious mistress of the school sustains
Her parents' part, nor their affection feigns,
But pitying feels : with due resjject and joy,
I trace the matron at her loved employ ;
What time the striplings, wearied e'en with play,
Part at the closing of the summer's day,
And each by different path returns tho well-known way —
Then I behold her at her cottage-door,
Frugal of light — her Bible laid before.
When on her double duty she proceeds,
Of time as frugal— knitting as she roads :
Her idle neighbours, who approach to tell
Some trifling tale, her serious looks compel
To hear reluctant, — while tho lads who pass,
In pure respect, walk silent on the grass :
Tlion sinks the day, but not to rest she goes,
Till solemn prayers tho daily duties close.

But I digress, and lo! an infant train
Appear, and call ine to my task again.



THE PARISH REGISTER— BAPTISMS. 25

" Why Lonicera wilt thou name the child ? "
I ask'd the gardener's wife, in accents mild :
" We have a ri<rht," replied the sturdy dame ; —
And Lonicera was the infant's name.
If next a son shall yield our gardener joy.
Then Hyacinthus shall be that fair boy ;
And if a girl, they will at length agree
That Belladonna that fair maid shall be.

High-sounding words our worthy gardener gets.
And at his club to wondering swains repeats ;
He then of Rhus and Rhododendron speaks.
And Allium calls his onions and his leeks ;
Nor weeds .are now, for whence arose the weed,
Scarce plants, fair herbs, and curious flowers proceed ;
Where cuckoo-pints and dandelions sprung
(Gross names had they our plainer sires among),
There Arums, there Leontodons we view,
And Artemisia grows where wormwood grew.

But though no weed exists his garden round,
From Rumex strong our gardener frees his ground,
Takes soft Senecio from the yielding land.
And grasps the arm'd Urtica in his hand.

Not Darwin's self had more delijiht to sing
Of floral courtship, in th' awaken'd spring.
Than Peter Pratt, who simpering loves to tell
How rise the stamens, as the pistils swell ;
Plow bend and curl the moist-top to the spouse.
And give and take the vegetable vows ;
How those esteem 'd of old but tips and chives, ;
Are tender husbands and obedient wives ; \

Who live and love within the sacred bower, — ;

That bridal bed, the vulgar term a flower. I

Hear Peter proudly, to some humble friend,
A wondrous secret, in his science, lend : —
"Would you advance the niiptial hour and bring
The fniit of autumn with the flowers of spring ;
View that light frame where Oucumis lies spread,
And trace the husbands in their gulden bed,
Three powder'd anthers ; then no more delay.
But to the stigma's tip their dust convey ;
Then by thyself, from prying glance secure.
Twirl the fall tip and make your purpose sure ;
A long-abiding race the deed shall pay,
Nor one unblest abortion pine away."

T' admire their friend's discourse our swains agree.
And call it science and philosophy.

'Tis good, 'tis pleasant, through th' advancing year.
To see unnumber'd growing forms appear;
What leafy life from earth's broad bosom rise !
What insect myriads seek the summer skies !
What scaly tribes in every streamlet move ;
What plumy people sing in every grove !
All with the year awaked to life, deli!j;lit, and love.
Then names are good ; for how, without their aid.



26 crabbe's poems.

Is knowledge, gain'd by man, to man convey'd ?
But from that source shall all our pleasures flow ?
Shall all our knowledj^o be those names to know ?
Then he, with memory blest, shall bear away
The palm from Grew, and Middleton, and Ray :
No ! let us rather seek, in grove and field,
What food for wonder, what for use they yield ;
Some just remark from Nature's people bring.
And some new source of homage for her King.

Pride lives with all ; strange names our rustics give
To helpless infants, that their own may live ;
Pleased to be known, they'll some attention claim.
And find some by-way to the bouse ot tame.

The straightest furrow lifts the ploughman's art.
The hat he gain'd has warmth for head and heart ;
The bowl that beats the greater number down
Of tottering nine-pins, gives to fame the clown ;
Or, foil'd in these, he opes his ample jaws.
And lets a frog leap down, to gain applause ;
Or grins for hours, or tipples for a week.
Or challenges a well-pinch'd pig to squeak :
Some idle deed, some child's preposterous name.
Shall make him known, and give his folly fame.

To name an infant meet our village su'es,
Assembled all as such event requires ;
Frequent and full, the nu-al sages sate,
And speakers many urged the long debate, —
Some harden'd knaves, who roved the country round,
Had left a babe within the parish bound. —
First, of the tact they question'd — " Was it true ?"
The child was brought — " What then remain'd to do ?"
" Was't dead or living ?" This was fairly proved, —
'Twas pinch'd, it roar'd, and every doubt removed.
Then by what name th' unwelcome guest to call
Was long a question, and it posed them all ;
For he who lent it to a babe unknown.
Censorious men might take it tor his own :
Tliey look'd about, they gravely spoke to all,
And not one Richard ansvver'd to the call.
Next thoy inquired the day, when, passing by,
Th' unlucky peasant heard the stranger's cry :
This known, — how food and raiment they might give
Was next debated — for the rogue would live ;
At last, with all their words and work content,
Back to their homes the prudent vestry went,
An<l Richard JSlonday to the workhouse sent.

There was he pinch'd and pitied, thump'd and fed.
And duly took his beatings and his bread ;
Patient in all control, in all abuse.
He found contempt and kicking have their use :
Sad, silent, supple ; bending to the blow,
A slave of slaves, the lowest ot the low ;
His pliant soul gave way to all things base,
He knew no shame; he dreaded no disgrace.



THE PARISH REGISTER— BAPTISMS. 27

It scem'd, so well his passions he suppress'd,

No feeling stirr'd his ever torpid breast ;

Him might the meanest pauper bruise and cheat,

He was a footstool for the begg-ar's feet ;

His were the legs that ran at all commands ;

They used on all occasions Richard's hands :

His very soul was not his own ; he stole

As others order'd, and without a dole ;

In all disputes, on either part he lied,

And freely pledged his oath on either side ;

In all rebellions Richard join'd the rest,

In all detections Richard first confess'd ;

Yet, though disgraced, he watch'd his time so well,

He rose in favour when in fame he fell ;

Base was his usage, vile his whole employ.

And all despised and fed the pliant boy.

At length " 'Tis time he should abroad be sent,"

Was whisper'd near him, — and abroad he went ;

One morn they call'd him, Richard answer'd not ;



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