George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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Fall on thy knees, and pray with all thy soul,

Thy purpose banish, thy design control :

Let every hope of such advantage cease,

Or never more cxi)cct a moment's peace."
Th' aSrighten'd man a liuo attention paid,

Felt the rebuke, and the command obey'd.
Again the wife rebeU'd, again express'd

A love for pleasure — a contemiit of rest ;

"She whom she pleased would visit, would receive

Those who pleased her, nor deign t<} ask for leave."
" One way there is," said he ; "I might contrive

Into a trap "this foolish thing to drive :

' Who pleased her,' said she ?— I'll be certain who."

" Take heed," said Conscience, "what thou mcan'st to do

576 • crabbe's poems.

Enmare thy wife ?" — " Why, yes," he must confess,
" It might be wrong, hut there was no redress ;
Beside, to think," said he, "is not to sin."
"Mistaken man !" rephed the power within.
No guest unnoticed to the lady came.
He judged th' event with mingled joy and shame ;
Oft he withdrew, and seem'd to leave her free,
But still as watchful as a Ijmx was he ;
Meanwhile the wife was thoughtless, cool, and gay,
And, without virtue, had no wish to stray.

Though thus opposed, his plans were not resign'd ;
"Revenge," said he, " will prompt that daring mind ;
Refused supplies, insulted and distress'd.
Enraged with me, and near a favourite guest —
Then will her vengeance prompt the daring deed,
And I shall watch, detect her, and be freed."

There was a youth — but let me hide the name,
With all the progress of this deed of shame ;
He had his views — on him the husband cast
His net, and saw him in his trammels fast.

" Pause but a moment— think what you intend,"
Said the roused sleeper : " I am yet a fi-iend.
Must all our days in enmity be spent?"
"No !" and he paused — " I surely shall repent :"
Then hurried on— the evil plan was laid.
The wife was guilty, and her friend betray'd.
And Fulham gain'd his wish, and for his will was paid.

Had crimes less weighty on the sjjirit press'd,
This ti-oubled Conscience might have sunk to rest ;
And, like a foolish guard, been bi-ibod to peace,
B}- a false promise, that offence should cease ;
Past faults had seem'd familiar to the view.
Confused if many, and obscure though true ;
And Conscience, troubled with the dull account,
Had dropp'd her tale, and slumber'd o'er th' amount :
But, struck by dai-ing guilt, alert she rose,
Disturb'd, alarm'd, and could no more repose ;
All hopes of fi-icndship and of peace wore past.
And every view with gloom was overcast.
Hence from that day, that day of shame and sin,
Arose the restless enmity within :
On no resource coxild Fulham now rely,
Doom'd all expedients, and in vain to try ;
For Conscience, roused, sat bolillv on her throne,
Wateh'd every thought, attack'd the foe alone.
And with cnvenoni'd sting drew forth the inwai'd groan :
pjxpedicnts fail'd that brought relief before,
In vain his alms gave comfort to tlie poor,
Give what he would, to him the comfort came no more :
Not praj'er avail'd, and when (his crimes confessed)
Ho felt some ease, she said, " Are they redress'd ?
You still retain the profit, and be s>n-e.
Long ,as it lasts, this anguish sh.all endure."

Fulham still tried to soothe her, cheat, mislead.


But Conscience laid her finger on the deed,

And read the crime with power, and all that must succeed ;

He tried t' expel her, but was sure to find

Her strength increased by all that he design'd ;

Nor ever was his groan more loud and deep

Than when refresh 'd she rose fi-om momentary sleep.

Now desperate grown, weak, harass'd, and afraid.
From new allies he sought for doubtful aid :
To thought itself he strove to bid adieu,
And from devotions to diversions flew ;
He took a poor domestic for a slave

(Though avarice grieved to see the price he gave) ; •

Upon his board, once fragal, press'd a load
Of viands rich, the appetite to goad ;
The long-protracted meal, the sparkling cup,
Fought with his gloom, and kept his courage up :
Soon as the morning came, there met his eyes
Accounts of wealth, that he might reading rise ;
To profit, then, he gave some active hom-s,
Till food and wine again should renovate his powers •
Yet, spite of all defence, of every aid,
The watchful foe her close attention paid ;
In every thoughtful moment on she press'd,
And gave at once her dagger to his breast ;
He waked at midnight, and the fears of sin,
As waters through a bursten dam, broke in ;
Nay, in the banquet, with his friends around.
When all their cares and half their crimes were drown' d,
Would some chance act awake the slumbering fear,
And care and crime in all their strength appear ;
The news is read, a guilty victim swings,
And troubled looks proclaim the bosom-stings ;
Some pair are wed — this brings the wife in view ;
And some divorced— this shows the parting too :
Nor can he hear of evil word or deed,
But they to thought, and thought to sufferings lead.

Such was his life— no other changes came.
The hurrying day, the conscious night the same ;
The night of horror— when he starting cried.
To the poor startled sinner at his side,
" Is it in law ? am I condemn'd to die ?
Let me escaj)0 I— I'll give— oh ! let me fly —
How ! but a dream !— no judges ! dungeon ! chain !
Or these grim men I — I will not sleep again.
Wilt thou, dread being, thus tliy piomise keep ?
Day is tliy time — and wilt thou murder sleep ?
Sorrow and want repose, and wilt thou come,
Nor give one hour of pure untroubled gloom ?

"Oh, Conscience ! Conscience! man's most faithful friend.
Him canst thou comfort, ease, relieve, defend ;
But if he will thy fricmlly chocks forego.
Thou art, oh ! wxic for me, his deadliest foe ! "

378 crabbe'8 poems.



His hours flll'd up with riots, banquets, sports ;

And never noted in him any study.

Any retii-eiueut, any sequestration. Henry V,

I will converse with iron-witted fools.
And uurespective boys : none are for me,
That look into me with considerate eyes.— Hichard III.

You cram these words into mine eai-s, against
The stomach of my sense. Tempest.

A WEALTHY LORD, of far-extended land,

Had all that pleased him placed at his command ;

Widow'd of late, but finding much relief

In the world's comforts, he dismiss'd his grief;

He was by marriage of his daughters eased,

And knew his sons could marry it they pleased ;

Jleantime in travel he indulged the boys.

And kejjt no spy nor partner ot his joys.

These joys, indeed, were of the grosser kind.
That fed the cravings of an earthly mind ;
A mind that, conscious of its own e.xcess.
Felt thereproacli his neighbours would exjjress.
Long at th' indulgent board he loved to sit,
Where joy was lauglitei', and i)r()fanencss wit ;
And such the guest and maimers at the Hall,
No wedded lady on the Scpiire would call.
Here reign'd a favourite, and her triumph gain'd
O'er other favourites who botoi-e had reign'd ;
Eeserved and modest secm'd the nympirto be,
Knowing her lord was charm'd with modesty :
For he, a sportsman keen, the more enjoy 'd.
The greater value had the thing destroy'd.

Our Hqxiire declared, that from a wife released.

He would no more give trouble to a jiriest ;

Seem'd it not, then, ungratehil and unkind

That he should trouble from the priesthood find ?

The Church he honour'd, and ho gave the due

And full resi)cct to every son he knew ;

But envied those who had the luck to meet

A gentle pastor, civil and discreet ;

Who never bold and hostile sermon penn'd.

To wound a sinner, or to shame a friend ;

One whom no being cither shunn'd or foar'd :

Such must bo loved wherever they ajjpoar'd.
Not .such the stern old rector of the time,

Wlio soothed no culprit, and who spared no crime ;

AV'ho would his fears and his contempt e.\press,

For ii-religion and licentiousness ;

Of him our village lord, his guests among,

By speech viudicti\e proved his feelings stunj



" Were he a bigot," said the Squire, " whose zeal
Condemn'd us all, I should disdain to feel :
But when a man of parts, in college train'd,
Prates of our conduct, who would not be pain'd ?
While he declaims (where no one dares reply)
On men abandon'd, grov'Ung in the sty
(Like beasts in human shape) of shameless luxury.
Yet with a patriot's zeal I stand the shock
Of vile rebuke, example to his flock :
But let this rector, thus severe and proud.
Change his wide surplice for a narrow shroud,
And I will place within his seat a youth,
Train'd by the Graces to explain the truth ;
Then shall the flock with gentle hand bo led,
By wisdom won, and by compassion fed."
This purposed teacher was a sister's son,
Who of her children gave the priesthood one ;
And she had early train'd for this employ
The pliant talents of her college boy :
At various times her letters painted all
Her brother's \iews — the manners of the Hall ;
The rector's harshness, and the mischief made
By chiding those whom preachers should persuade.
Tills led the youth to views of easy life,
A friendly patron, an obliging wife ;
His tithe, his glebe, the garden, and the steed.
With books as many as he wish'd to read.
All this accorded with the uncle's will :

He loved a priest compliant, easy, still ;

Sums he had often to his I'avourite sent,

" To be," he wrote, " in manly freedom spent ;

For well it pleased his spirit to assist

An honest lad, who scorn'd a methodist."

His mother, too, in her maternal care.

Bade him of canting hj'pocrites beware ;

Who from his duties would his heart seduce,

And make his talents of no earthly use.
Soon must a trial of his worth lie made —

The ancient j)ricst is to the tomb coiivey'd ;

And the youth snmmon'd from a serious friend.

His guide and host, new duties to attend.

Three months before, the nejihcw and the Squire

Saw mutual worth to praise and to admire ;

And though the one too early left his wine.

The other still exclaim'd, " My boy will shine:

Yes, I perceive that he will soon improve.

And I shall form the very guide T love ;

Decent abroad, he will my name defend,

And when at home, be social and unbend."
The plan was specious, for the mind of James

Accorded duly with his uncle's .schemes :

He then aspired not to a higher name

Than sober clerks of moderate talents cl:.:ai ;

Gravely to praj-, and revorendly to preach,


Was all he saw, good youth, within his reach :
Thus may a mass of sulphur long- abide.
Cold and inert, but, to the flame applied.
Kindling it blazes, and consuming turns
To smoke and poison, as it boils and burns.

James, leaving college, to a preacher stray'd :
What call'd he knew not — but the call obey'd ;
Mild, idle, pensive, ever led by those
Who could some specious novelty propose ;
Humbly he listen'd, while the preacher dwelt
On touching themes, and strong emotions felt ;
And in this night was fix'd that pliant will
To one sole point, and he retains it still.

At first his care was to himself confined ;
Himself assured, he gave it to mankind.
His zeal grew active — honest, earnest zeal.
And comfort dealt to him, he long'd to deal ;
He to his favourite preacher now withdrew,
Was taught to teach, instructed to subdue.
And train'd for ghostly warfare, when the call
Of his new duties reach'd him from the Hall.

Now to the Squire, although alert and stout.
Came unexpected an attack of gout ;
And the grieved patron felt such serioxis pain.
He never thought to see a church again :
Thrice had the j-outhful rector taught the crowd.
Whose growing numbers spoke his powers aloud,
Before the patron could himself rejoice
(His pain still lingering) in the general voice ;
For he imputed all this early fame
To graceful manner and the well-known name ;
And to himself assumed a share of praise,
For worth and talents he was pleased to raise.

A month had flown, and with it fled disease ;
What pleased before, began again to please ;
Emerging daily from his chamber's gloom.
He found his old sensations hurrying home ;
Then call'd his nephew, and exclaim'd, "My boy,
Let us again the balm of life enjoy ;
The foe has left tne, and I deem it right,
Should he return, to arm me for the light."

Thus spoke the Squire, the favourite nymph stood by,
And vicw'd the Priest with insult in her eye ;
She thrice had heard him when he boldly spoke
On dangerous points, and fear'd he would revoke :
For James she loved not — and her manner told,
" This warm affection will lie quickly cold :"
And still she fear'd impression might be made
Upon a .subject nervous and decay'd ;
She knew her danger, ami had no desire
Of reformation in the gallant S(]uire ;
And felt an cnvjoiLs i)leasure in her breast
To see the Kcctor daunted and distrcss'd.
Again the uncle to the youth applied —


"■Cast, my deai- lad, that cursed gloom aside :
There are for all tbini^s time and place ; appear
Grave in your pulpit, and be merry here :
Now take your wine — for woes a sure resource,
And the best prelude to a long discourse."

James half obey'd, but cast an angry eye
On the fair lass, who still stood watchful by ;
Resolving thus, "I have my fears— but still
I must perform my duties, and I will :
No love, no interest, shall my mind control ;
Better to lose my comforts than my soul ;
Better my uncle's favour to abjure.
Than the'upbraidings of my heart endure,"

He took his glass, and then address'd the Squire :
" I feel not well, peniiit me to retire."
The Scjuire conceived that the ensuing day
Gave him these terrors for the grand essay,
When he himself should this young preacher try.
And stand before him with observant eye ;
This raised compassion in his manly breast.
And he would send the Rector to his rest :
Yet first, in soothing voice — "A moment stay,
And these suggestions of a friend obey ;
Treasure these hints, if fame or peace you prize, —

The bottle emptied, I shall close my eyes.
"On every priest a twofold care attends.

To prove his talents, and insure his friends :

First, of the first — your stores at once produce ;

And bring your reading to its proper use :

On doctrines dwell, and every point enforce

By quoting much, the scholar's sure resource;

For he alone can show us on each head

What ancient schoolmen and sage fathers said :

No worth has knowledge, if you fail to show

How well you studied and how much you know :

Is faith your subject, and you judge it right

On theme so dark to cast a ray of light.

Be it that faith the orthodox maintain,

Found in the rubric, what the creeds explain ;

Fail not to show us on this ancient faith

(And quote the passage) wliat some martyr saith :

Dwell not one moment on a faith that shocks

The minds of men sincere and orthodox ;

'J'hat gloomy fiaith, that robs the wounded mind

Of all the comfort it was wont to find

From virtuous acts, and to the soul denies

It proper due for alms and charities ;

That partial faith, that, weighing sins alone.

Lets not a virtue for a fault atone ;

That starving foith, that would our tables clear,

And m.ake one dreadful Lent of all the year ;

And cruel too, for this is faith that rends

Confiding beauties from protecting friends ;

A faith that all embracing, what a gloom

8S2 crabbe's poems.

Deep and terrific o'er the land would come !
What scenes of liorror would that time disclose !
No sight but misery, and no sound but woes ;
Your nobler faith, in loftier style convey'd.
Shall be with praise and admiration paid :
On points like these your hearers all admire
A preacher's depth, and nothing more require.
Shall we a studious youth to college send,
That every clown his words may comprehend ?
'Tis for your glory, when your hearers own
Your learning matchless, but the sense unknown.

" Thus honour gain'd, leam now to gain a friend,
And the sure way is — never to offend ;
For, James, consider — what your neighbours do
Is their own business, and concerns not you :
Shun all resemblance to that forward race
Who preach of sins before a sinner's face ;
And seem as if they overlook'd a pew,
Only to drag a failing man in view :
Much should I feel, when groaning in disease,
If a I'ough hand upon my limb should seize ;
But great my anger, if this hand were found
The very doctor's who sliould make it sound :
So feel our minds, young priest, so doubly feel,
When hurt by those whose office is to heal.

"Yet of our duties you must something tell,
And must at times on sin and frailty dwell ;
Here you may jireach in easj% flowing style.
How errors cloud us, and how sins defile :
Here bring persuasive tropes and figures forth,
To show the poor that wealth is nothing worth ;
That they, in fact, possess an ample share
Of the world's good, and feel not half its care :
Give them this comfort, and, indeed, my gout
In its full vigour causes me some doubt ;
And let it always for your zeal suffico
That vice you combat, in the abstract— vice :
The very captious will be quiet then ;
We all confess we are offending men :
In lashing sin, of every stroke beware,
For sinners teel, and sinners you must spare ;
In general satire, every man ])erceives
A slight attack, yet neither fears nor grieves ;
But name th' offence, and you absolve the rest.
And point the dagger at a single breast.

" Yet are there sinners of a class so low.
That you with safety may the lash bestow :
Poachers, and drunkards, i(llc rogues, who feed
At others' cost, a mark'd correcti(m need :
And all the bettor surt, who see your zeal.
Will love and reverence for their pastor feel ;
Iteverence for. one who can intlict tlio smart,
And love, bccatiso ho deals them not a part.

" lieuiombor well what love and age advise :


A quiet rector is a parish prize,

Who in his learning: has a decent pride ;

Who to his people is a gentle guide ;

Who only hints at failings that he sees ;

Who loves his glebe, his patron, and his ease.

And finds the way to fame and proiit is to please."
The nephew auswer'd not, except a sigh

And look oi sorrow might be terni'd reply ;

He saw the fearful hazard of his state,

And hold with truth and safety strong debate ;

Nor long he reason'd, for the zealous youth

Resohed, though timid, to profess the truth ;

And though his friend should like a lion roar.

Truth would he preach, and neither less nor more.
The bells had toll'd— arrived the time of prayer,

The flock assembled, and the Squire was there :

And now can poet sing, or proseman say.

The disappointment of that trying day i

As he who long had train'd a favourite steed
(Whose blood and bone ga\-e promise of his speed),
Sanguine with hope, he runs with partial eye
O'er every feature, and his bets are high ;
Of triumph s\ire, he sees the rivals start,
And waits their coming with exulting heart,
Forestalling glory, with impatient glance,
And sure to sec his conquering steed advance ;
The conqueiing steed advances- luckless day !
A rival's Hrrod bears the prize away.
Nor second his, nor third, but lagging last,
With hanging head he comes, by all surpass'd :
Surprise and wrath the owner's mind inflame.
Love turns to scorn, and glory ends in shame ; —
Thus waited, high in hope, the i>artial Stiuire,
Eager to hear, impatient to admiie ;
Wheu the yomig preacher, in the tones that find
A certain passage to the kindling mind,
With air and accent strange, impressive, sad,
Alarm'd the judge — he trembled fn- the lad ;
But when the text announced the power of grace,
Amazement scowl'd upon his clouded face
At this degenerate son of his illustrious race ;
Staring he stood, till hope again arose
That James miglit well define the words he choso:
For this ho listen'd— but, alas ! ho found
The ]ireachcr always on forbidden ground.

And now the uncle left the hateil pew,
With James, and James's conduct, in his view ;
A long farewell to all his favourite schemes !
For now no crazed fanatic's frantic dreams
Seem'd vile as James's conduct, or as James :
All he had long derifled, liated, fcar'd,
This, from the chosen youth, the uncle heanl ; —
The needless pause, the fierce disorder'd air,
The groan for sin, the vehemence of prayer,

384 crabbe's roEMS.

Gave birth to wrath, that, in a long discourse

Of grace triumphant, rose to fourfold force :

He found his thoughts despised, his rules transgress'd,

And while the anger kindled in his breast,

The pain must be endured that could not be express'd :

Each new idea more inflamed his ire,

As fuel thrown upon a rising fire :

A hearer yet, he sought by threatening sign

To ease his heart, and awe the young divine ;

But James refused those angry looks to meet,

Till he dismiss'd his flock, and left his seat :

Exhausted then he felt his trembling frame,

But fix'd his soul, — his sentiments the same ;

And therefore wise it seem'd to fl}' from rage.

And seek for shelter in his parsonage :

There, if forsaken, yet consoled to find

Some comforts left, though not a few resign'd ;

There, if he lost an erring parent's love.

An honest conscience must the cause ajsprove ;

If the nice palate were no longer fed.

The mind enjoy'd delicious thoughts instead ;

And if some part of earthly good was flown,

Still was the tithe of ten good farms his own.

Fear now, and discord, in the village reign,
The cool remonstrate, and the meek complain ;
But there is war within, and wisdom pleads in vain.
Now dreads the uncle, and proclaims his dread,
Lest the boy-])riost should turn each rustic head ;
The certain converts cost him certain woe.
The doubtful fear lest they should join the foe :
Matrons of old, with whom he used to joke,
Now pass his honour with a pious look ;
Lasses, who met liim once with lively airs,
Now cross his way, and gravely walk to prayers :
An old companion, whom he long has loved.
By coward fears confess'd his conscience moved ;
As the third bottle gave its spirit forth.
And they boi-e witness to departed worth,
The friend arose, and he too would depart :
"Man," said the Squire, " thou wert not wont to start ;
Hast thou attended to that foolish boy.
Who would abridge all comforts, or destroy?"

Yes, he had listcn'd, who had slumbor'd long.
And was convinced that something must be wrong ;
But, though affected, still his yielding heart,
And craving palate, took the uncle's part ;
Wine now oppress'*! him, wlio, when free from wine,
Could seldom clearly utter his design ;
But though by nature and indulgence weak.
Yet, half converted, he resolved to speak ;
And, speaking, own'd, " that in his mind the youth
Had gifts and learning, and that truth was truth :
The Squire he honour'd, and for his poor part,
Ho hated nothing like a hollow heart :


Biit 'twas a maxim he had often tried,

Tliat right was right, and there he would abide ;

He houour'd learning, and he would confess

The preacher had his talents — more or less :

Why not agree ? he thought the 3'oung divine

Had no such strictness — they might drink and dine ;

For them sufficient— but he said before

That truth was truth, and he would drink no more."

This heard the Squire with mix'd contempt and pain ;
Ho fear'd the Priest this recreant sot would gain.
The favourite nymph, though not a convert made,*
Conceived the man she scorn'd her cause would aid.
And when the spirits of her lord were low,
TTie lass presumed the wicked cause to show ;
" It was the wretched life his honour led.
And would draw vengeance on his guilty head ;
Their loves (Heav'n knew how dreadfully distress'd
The thought had made her !) were as yet unbless'd :
And till the Church had sanction' d — " Here she saw
The wrath that forced her trembling to withdraw.

Add to these outward ills some inward light.
That show'd him all was not correct and right :
Though now he less indulged — and to the jx)or,
From day to daj', sent alms from door to door ;
Though he some ease from easy virtues found.
Yet conscience told him he could not compound,
But must himself the darling sin deny,
Change the whole heart,— but here a heavy sigh
Prockiim'd, " How vast the toil ! and, ah, how weak am I !"

James too has trouble— he divided sees
A parish, once harmonious and at ease ;
With him united are the simi)ly meek,
The warm, the sad, the nervous, and the weak ;
The rest his uncle's, save the few beside.
Who own no doctrine, and obey no guide;

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 41 of 49)