George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

. (page 43 of 49)
Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 43 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Writhing in i)angs — but come, my friend ! revive :
Had some beheld you, all your purse contains
Could not have saved you from terrific pains ;
I scorn such meanness ; and, if not in debt.
Would not an aspcr on your folly set.'

" The hint was strong : young Osmyn search'd his store
For bribes, and found he soon could bribe no more ;
That time arrived, for Osmyn's stock was small.
And the young tyrant now possess'd it .all ;
The cruel yoiith. with his c(>ni|ianions near,
(Jave the broad liint that raised the sudilcu fear ;
Th' ungenerous insult now was daily shown,
And Osmyn's peace and honest prido wore Hown ;

• The sfivereign here iiKunt ia the AInuicliiil or H.iruii al Riuchld, wlm ii;i(l
early in the ninth ccnlnrj- . lie 1« olten tU« hcunir, aiiU aumeUiucs Uio hcio, ol a talo la
the Aiubiou Nights' £utertaiuments.

S96 crabbe's poejis.

Then came augmenting woes, and fancy sti-ong
Drew forms of sufferiiifj, a tormenting tlirong ;
He felt degraded, and the struggling mind
Dared not be free, and could not be resign'd ;
' And all his pains and fervent prayers obtain'd

Was truce from insult, while the fears remain'd.

" One day it chanced that this degraded boy
And tyrant-friend were fix'd at their employ ;
Who now had thrown restraint and form aside.
And for his bribe in plainer speech applied :
' Long have I waited, and the last sui)ply
Was but a pittance, j'et how patient I !
But give me now what thy first terrors gave,
My speech shall praise thee, and mj' silence save'

" Osmyn had found, in many a dreadful day,
The tyrant fiercer when he secm'd in play ;
He begg'd forbearance : ' I have not to give ;
Spare me awhile, although 'tis pain to live ;
Oh ! had that stolen fniit the power possess'd
To war with life, I now had been at rest.'

" ' So fond of death,' replied the boy, ' 'tis plain
Thou hast no certain notion of the pain ;
But to the Caliph were a secret shown.
Death has no pain that would be then unknown.'

" Now, says the story, in a closet near,
The monarch seated, chanced the boys to hear ;
There oft he came, when wearied on his throne.
To read, sleep, listen, pray, or be alone.

" The tale j^roceeds — when first the Caliph found
That he was robb'd, although alone, ho frown'd ;
And swoi-e in wrath that he would send the boy
Far from his notice, favour, or employ ;
But gentler movements soothed his ruffled mind,
And his own tailings taught him to be kind.

" Relenting thoughts then painted Osmyn young.
His passion urgent, and temptation strong ;
And that he sufl'er'd from that villain spy
Pains worse than death, till he desired to die ;
Then if his inorals had received a stain.
His bitter sorrows made him jiuro again :
To reason pity lent her powerful aid.
For one so tempted, troubled, and botray'd :
And a free pardon the glad boj"- restored
To the kind presence of a gentle lord ;
Who from his ofldce and his coimtry drove
That traitor friend, whom pains nor prayers could move ;
Who raised the fears no mortal coiild endure,
And then, with cruel a\''rice, sold the euro.

" My tale is ended ; but, to bo aj)))liod,
I must iloscribe the place where Calii)hs hide."

Hero both the females look'd alarm'd, distress' d,
With h\u-ried j)assii)ns liard to be cxpress'd.

" It was a closet by a chamber placed,
Whore slept a lady ol no vulgar taste ;


Her friend attended in that chosen room

That she had honour'd and proelaim'd her home ;

To please the ej-e wei'e chosen pictures placed ;

And some liyht volumes to amuse the taste ;

Letters and music on a table laid,

For much the lady wrote, and often play'd :

Beneath the window was a toilet spread,

And a fire gleam'd upon a crimson bed."

He paused, he rose ; with troubled joy the wifo
. Felt the new era of her changeful life ;
Frankness and love appear'd in Stafford's face,
And all her trouble to delight gave place.

Twice made the guest an effort to sustain .
Her feelings, twice resumed her seat in vain.
Nor could suppress her shame, nor could support her pain ;
Quick .she retired, and all the dismal night
Thought of her guilt, her folly, and her flight ;
Then sought unseen her miserable home.
To think of comforts lost, and brood on wants to come.



He h.ath a tear for pity, and a hand

Ot'en iu* day fur melting charity :

Yet, nutwithstainling, lieing incensed, he *b flint :

His temper, therefore, must be well obsen-cd.

2}id Part Henry IV.

Three or four wenclies, where I stiwd, cried—" Alas 1 good soul !"— and forgave hiin witli
all their hearts : but there is no heed to be taken of them : If Ciesar had stabbed their
luutheis, they would have done no Vaes.—Juliut Catar.

How dost 1 Art cold r
I'm cold myself.— Where is this .xtniw, my fellow ?
The art of our necessities is strange.
And can make vile things precious. King Lear,

Females there are of unsuspicious mind,
Easy, and soft, and credulous, and kind ;
Who, when offended for the twentieth time,
\> ill hear the offender and forgive the ci-ime :
And there are othci's whom, like these to cheat,
A.sks but the humblest efforts of deceit ;
But they, once injured, feel a strong disdain,
And, seldom pardoning, never trust again ;
Urged by religion, they forgive — but yet
Guard the warm heart, and never more forget.
Those are like wax — apply them to the fire.
Melting, they take th' impressions you desire ; to mould and fashion as you please,
And again moulded with an ecpial ease :
Like smelted iron these the forms retain,
But once impress'd, will never melt again.
A busy port a serious merchant made

398 crabbe's poems.

His chosen place to recommence his trade ;

And brought his lady, who, their children dead.

Their native seat of recent soitow fled :

The husband duly on the quay was seen.

The wife at home became at length serene ;

There in short time the social couple grew

With all ac(iuainted, friendly with a few ;

W hen the good lady, by disease assail'd,

In vain resisted — hope and science fail'd :

Then spake the female friends, by pity led,

" Poor merchant Paul ! what think ye — will he wed ?

A quiet, easy, kind, religious man.

Thus can he rest — I wonder if he can ?"

He too, as grief subsided in his mind.
Gave place to notions of congenial kind :
CIrave was the man, as we have told before ;
His years were forty — he might pass for more ;
Composed his features were, his stature low,
His air important, and his motion slow:
His dress became him, it was neat and plain,
The colour purple, and without a stain ;
His words were few, and special was his care
In simplest terms his purpose to declare ;
A man more civil, sober, and discreet,
Blore grave and courteous, you couM seldom meet :
Though frugal he, j-et simiptuous was his board,
As if to prove how much he could afford ;
For though reserved himself, he loved to see
His table plenteous, and his uoighbours free :
Among these fViemls ho sat in solemn stylo.
And rarely softcn'd to a sober smile :
For this, observant friends their reasons gave —
" Concerns so vast would make the idlest grave ;
And for such n)an to be of language free,
Woidd seem incongruous as a singing tree :
Trees have their music, but the birds they shield
The pleasing tribute for protection yield ;
Each ample tree the tuneful choir defends.
As this rich merchant cheers his happy friends!"

In the same town it was his chance to meet
A gentle lady, witli a mind discreet ;
Keither in life's decline, nor l)loom of youth,
One famed for maiden modesty and truth :
By nature cool, in i)i()us liabits bred,
Siie look'd on lovere with a virgin's dread :
Deceivers, rakes, and libertines were they.
And harmless beauty tlieir pursuit and prey;
As bad as giants in the ancient times
Were morleni lo%'ers, and tlie same their crimes :
Soon as she heard of her all-conijuering charm.s.
At once she fled to her defensive arms ;
C'onn'd o'er the tales her maiden aunt had told,
And. statue like, was motionless and cohl :
From prayer of love, hko that Pygmalion pray'd.


Ere the hard stone became the yielding maid,

A difterent change in this chaste nymph ensued,

And turn'd to stone the breathing tlesh and blood :

Whatever youth described his wounded heart,

*' He came to rob her, and she seorn'd his art ;"

And who of raptures once presumed to speak,

T<ild list'ning maids he thought them fond and weak ;

But should a worthy man his hopes display

In few plain words, and beg a yes or nay,

Ho would deserve an answer just and plain.

Since adulation only moved disdain —

" Sir, if mj' friends object not, come again."

Hence, our grave lover, though he liked the face,
Praised not a feature — dwelt not on a grace ;
But in the simplest terms declared his state :
" A widow'd man, who wish'd a virtuous mate ;
Who fear'd neglect, and was compell'd to trust
Dependents wasteful, idle, or unjust ;
Or should they not the trusted stores destroy,
At best, they could not help him to enjoy ;
But with her person and her prudence bless'd,
His acts would prosper, and his soul have rest :
Would she be his V — " Why, that was much to say ;
She would consider ; he awhile might stay :
She liked his manners, and believed his word ;
He did not Hatter, — flattery she abhorr'd :
It was her happy lot in peace to dwell —
WouM change make better what was now so well ?
But she wouhl ponder." " This," he .said, " was kind ;"
And bcgg'd to know " when she had fix'd her mind."

Komantic maidens would have seorn'd the air,
And the cool prudence of a mind so fair ;
lint well it i)leaseil tliLs wiser maid to find
Her own mild virtues in her lover's mind.

His worldly wealth she sought, and (juickly grew
Pleased with her search, and happy in the view
Of vessels freighted with abundant stores.
Of rooms treasm-es press'tl the groaning floors ;
And ho of clerks and servants could display
A little army on a public day :
Was this a man like needy hard to speak
Of balmy lip, bright eys, or rosy cheek ?

The s\nii appointed for her widow'd state,
Fix'd by her friend, excited no debate ;
1'hen the kind lady gave her haml and heart.
And, never finding, never dealt with art :
In his engagements she had no concern ;
He taught her not, nor had she wish to learn ;
On him in .all occasions she rulicil,
His word her surety, and his worth her pride.

When ship was launch'd, and juerciiant Paul had share,
A bounteous feast became the lady's care ;
Who then her entry to tlio dinner made,
In costlj' raiment, and with kind parade.

400 crabbe's poems.

Call'd by this duty on a certain day,
And robed to grace it in a rich array,
Forth from her room, with measured step she came.
Proud of th' event, and stately look'd the dame ;
The husband met her at his study door —
" Tliis way, my love — one moment, and no more :
\K trifling business — j'ou will understand —
The law requires that j'ou affix your hand ;
But first attend, and you shall learn the cause
Why forms like these have been prescribed bj' laws."
Then from his chair a man in black arose,
And with much quickness hurried off his prose —
That " Ellen Paul, the wife, and so forth, freed
From all control, her own the act and deed,

And forasmuch " said she, " I've no distrust,

For he that asks it is discreet and just ;

Our friends are waiting — where am I to sign ? —

There ? — Now be ready when we meet to dine."

This said, she hurried off in great delight,

The ship was launch'd, and joyful was the night.

Now, says the reader, and in much disdain.
This serious merchant was a rogue in grain ;
A treacherous wretch, an artful sober knave,
And ten times worse for manners cool and grave ;
And she devoid of sense, to set her hand
To scoundrel deeds she could not understand.

Alas ! 'tis true : and I in vain had tried
To soften crime that cannot be denied ;
And might have labour'd many a tedious verse
The latent cause of mischief to rehearse :
l!e it confess'd, that long, with troubled look.
This trader view'd a huge accomj)ting-book ;
(His former marriage for a time delay'd
The dreaded hour, the present lent its aid ;)
But he too clearly saw the evil day,
And put the terror, by deceit, away ;
Thus, by connecting with his sorrows crime,
He gain'd a portion of uneasy time. —
All this too late the injured lady saw :
What law had given, again she gave to law ;
His guilt, her follj' — these at once impress'd
Their lastiner feelings on her guileless breast.

" Shame I can bear," she cried, "and want sustain.
But will not see this guilty wretch again ! "
For all was lost, and he with many a tear
Confess'd the fault — she turning scorn 'd to hear.
To legal claims he yielded all his worth.
But small the portion, and the wnmg'd were wroth.
Nor to their debtor woidd a part allow ;
And where to live ho know not — knew not how.

The wife a cottage found, and thither went
The suppliant man, but she wi)uld not relent :
Thenceforth she utier'd with indignant tone,
" I leel the misery, and will feel alone."


He would turn servant for her sake — would keep

The poorest school— the very streets would sweep,

To show his love. '' It was already shown.

And her affliction should be all her own :

His wants and weakness might have touch'd her heart,

But from his meanness she resolved to part."

In a small alley was she lodged, beside
Its humblest poor, and at the view she cried —
" Welcome, yes ! let me welcome, if I can,
Tile fortune dealt me by this cruel man :
Welcome this low thatch'd roof, this shatter'd door.
These walls of clay, this miserable floor ;
Welcome my envied neighbours ; this to you
Is all familiar — all to me is new :
You have no hatred to the loathsome meal.
Your firmer nerves no trembling terrors feel.
Nor, what you must expose, desire j'ou to conceal ;
What your coarse feelings bear without offence.
Disgusts my taste and poisons every sense :
Daily shall I your sad relations hear
Of wanton women and of men severe ;
There will dire curses, dreadfid oaths abound.
And vile expressions shock me and confound :
Noise of dull wheels, and songs with horrid words.
Will be the music that this lane aflbrds ;
Mhth that disgiists, and quarrels that degrade
The human mind, must my retreat invade :
Hard is my fate ! yet easier to sustain.
Than to aliide with guilt and fraud again.
A grave impostor ! Who expects to meet,
In such grey locks and gravity, deceit ?
Where the sea rages and the billows roar.
Men know the danger, and they quit the shore ;
But, be there nothing in the way descried.
When o'er the rocks smooth runs the wicked tide —
Sinking unwarn'd. they execrate the shock
Anrl the dread peril of the sunken rock."

A frowning world had now the man to dread.
Taught in no arts, to no profession bred ;
Pining in grief, be.set with constant care.
Wandering he went, to rest ho knew not where.

Meantime the wife — but she abjured the name —
Endvn-ed her lot, and struggled with the shame ;
When, lo I an uncle on the motlicr's side,
In nature something, as in blood allied.
Admired her firmness, liis protection gave.
And show'd a kindness she disdain'd to crave.

Frugal and ricli the man, and frugal grew
The sister mind witiiout a selfish view ;
And further still — the temp'rate pair agreed
With what they saved the patient poor to feed :
His whole estate, when to the grave consign'd,
Left the g<)o<l kinsman to the kindred mind ;
Assured that law, with spell secure and tight,
2 D

402 • crabbe's roEMS.

Had fix'd it as her own peculiar right.

Now to her ancient residence removed,
She lived as widow, well endowed and loved;
Decent her table was, and to her door
Came daily welcomed the neglected poor :
The absent sick were soothed by her relief.
As her free bounty sought the haunts of grief;
A plain and homely charity had she.
And loved the objects of her alms to see ;
With her own hands she dress'd the savoury meat.
With her own fingers wrote the choice receipt ;
She heard all tales that injured wi^es relate,
And took a double interest in their fate ;
But of all husbands not a wretch was known
So vile, so mean, so cruel, as her own.

This bounteous lady kept an active spy,
To search th' abodes of want, and to supplj' ;
The gentle S^isaii served the liberal dame —
Unlike their notions, yet their deeds the same :
No practised villain could a victim find
Than this stern lady more completely blind ;
Nor (if detected in his fraud) could meet
One less disposed to pardon a deceit ;
The wrong she treasured, and on no pretence
Received th' offender, or forgot th' offence :
But the kind servant, to the thrice-proved knave
A fourth time listen'd and the past forgave.

First in her youth, when she was blithe and gay,
Came a smooth rogue, and stole her love away ;
Then to another and another flew.
To boast the wanton mischief he could do :
Yet she forgave him, though so great her pain,
That she was never blithe or gay again.

Then came a spoiler, who, with villain art
Implored her hand and agonized her heart ;
He seized her purse, in idle waste to spend
With a vile wanton whom she call'd her friend ;
Five j'eara she suffer'd — he had revell'd fi\e —
Then came to show her he was just alive ;
Alone he came, his vile comjianion dead,
And he a wand'ring paujier wanting bread ;
His body wasted, wither'd life and limb.
When this kind soul became a slave to him :
Nay, she was sure that, should he now survive.
No better husband would bo left alive :
For liim she mourn'd, and then, alone and poor,
Sought and found comfort at her lady's door :
Ten years she served, and mercy her employ,
Her tasks were pleasure, and iier duty joy.

Thus lived the mistress and the maid, design'd
Each other's aid — one cautious, and both kin<l :
Oft at their window, working, they would sigh
To see the aged and the sick go by ;
Iviko wounded bees, that at their home arrive


Slowly and weak, but labouring for the hive.

Tho busy peojile of a mason's yard
The curious lady view'd with much roccard ;
With steady motion she perceived them draw
Through blocks of stone the slowly-working saw ;
It gave her pleasure and surprise to sec
Among these men the signs of revelry :
Cold was the season, and confined their view.
Tedious their tasks, but merry wore the crew ;
There she beheld an aged pauper wait.
Patient and still, to take an humble freight ;
Within the panniers, on an ass he laid
The ponderous grit, and for the portion paid ;
This he re-sold, and, with each trifling gift.
Made shift to live, and wretched was the shift.

Now will it be by every reader told
Who was this humble trader, poor and old. —
In vain an author would a name suppress,
From the le;ist hint a reader learns to g-uess ;
Of children lost, our novels sometimes treat,
We never care— assured again to meet :
In vain the writer for concealment tries,
We trace his j)urpose under all disguise ;
Nay, though he tells us they are dead and gone,
Of whom we wot, they will ap)>ear anon ;
Our favourites tight, arc wounded, hopeless lie.
Survive they cannot^nay, they cannot die ;
Now, as these tricks anil stratagems are known,
Tis best, at once, tho sim]]lo truth to own.

This was the husband— in an Inuiihle shod
He nightly slept, and dailj^ sought his bread :
Once for relief the weary man applied—
" Your wife is rich," the angry vestry cried :
Alas ! he dared not to his wife comi)lain.
Feeling her wrongs, and fearing her disdain ;
By various methods ho had tried to live.
But not one effort would subsistence give :
Ho was an usher in a school, till noise
Wade him less able than the weaker boys ;
On messages he went, till ho in vain
Strove names, or words, or meanings to retain ;
Kach small emjiloymeiit in each neighbouring town,
By turn he took, to lay as quickly down :
For, such his fate, he fail'd in all he plann'd.
And nothing prosper'd in his luckless hand.

At his old home, his motive half suppre-ss'd.
Ho sought no more for riches, but for rest :
There lived tho bounteous wife, and at her gato
He saw in cheerful groups tho needy wait ;
" Had he a right with holder hope t' ajiply ? "
He ask'd— was anawer'd, and went groaning by :
For some remains ol spirit, temper, ])rido,
Forl)ado a prayer ho know would he denied.

Thus was the grieving man, with burthcn'd ass,

') 1, o

V i^ w

404 ckabbe's poems.

Seen day by day along the street to pass :

" Who is he, Susan — who the poor old man ?

Hs never calls — do make him, if j'ou can."

The conscious damsel still delay'd to speak.

She stopp'd conlused, and had her words to seek ;

From Susan's fears the fact her mistress knew.

And cried — " The wretch ! what scheme has he in view ?

Is this his lot ? — but let him, let him feel —

Who wants the courage, not the will, to steal."

A dreadful winter came, each day severe.
Misty when mild, and icy cold when clear ;
And still the humble dealer took his load.
Returning slow, and shivering on the road :
The lady, still relentless, saw him come.
And said — " I wonder has the wretch a home ? "
"A hut — a hovel ! " " Then his fate appears
To suit his crime." — "Yes lady, not his years ;
No ! nor his sufferings — nor that form decay'd."
"Well, let the parish give its paupers aid ;
You must the vileness of his acts allow."
"And you, dear lady, that he feels it now."
" When such dissemblers on their deeds reflect.
Can they the pity they refused expect ?
He that doth evil, evil shall he dread."
"The snow," quoth Susan, "falls upon his bed —
It blows beside the thatch, it melts upon his head."
"'Tis weakness, child, for grieving gnilt to feel."
"■ Yes, but he never sees a wholesome meal ;
Through his bare dress ajipears his shrivell'd skin.
And ill he fares without, and worse within :
With that weak body, lame, diseased, and slow.
What cold, pain, peril, must the sufferer know ! "
" Think on his crime." — " Yes sure 'twas very wrong ;
But look (God bless him !) how he gropes .along."
" Brought me to shame." — " Oh! yes, I know it all —
What cutting blast ! and he can scarcely crawl ;
He freezes as ho moves — he dies if he should fall :
With cruel fierceness drives this icy sleet —
And must a Christian perish in the street.
In sight of Christians '( — There ! at last, he lies ;
Nor unsupjiortoil can he ever rise.
He cannot live." "But is ho fit to die?"
Here Susan softly mutter'd a reply,
liOok'd round the room, said something of its state,
Dives the rich, and Lazanis at his gate ;
And then aUnid — " In pitj' do behold
The man alfrighten'd, weeping, trembling, cold :
Oh ! how those flakes of snow their entrance win
Through the poor rags, and keep tho frost within.
His vcrj' heart seems frozen as he goes.
Leading that starved companion of his woes :
He tried to pray — his lips, I saw them move.
And he so turn'd his piteous looks above ;
But the fierce wind the willing heart opposed,


And, ere he spoke, the lips in misery closed :
Poor suffering- object ! yes, for ease j'ou pray'd,
And God will hear — He only, I'm afraid."

"Peace! Susan, peace ! pain ever follows sin."
"Ah ! then," thouj^ht Susan, " when will ours begin?
When reach'd his home, to what a cheerless fire
And chilling bed will those cold limbs retire !
Yet ragged, wretched as it is, that bed
Takes half the space of his contracted shed ;
I saw the thorns beside the narrow grate,
With straw collected in a putrid state :
There will he, kneeling, strive the fire to raise,
And that will warm him rather than the blaze :
The sullen, smoky blaze, that cannot last
One moment after his attempt is past ;
And I so warmly and so purely laid.
To sink to rest — indeed, I am afraid."
" Know you his conduct ?" — " Yes, indeed, I know,
And how he wanders in the wind and snow ;
Safe in our rooms the threat'ning storm we hear,
But he feels strongl3' what we faintly fear."
" Wilful was rich, and he the storm defied ;
Wilful is poor, and must the storm abide,"
Said the stern lady ; " 'tis in vain to feel ;
Go and prepare the chicken for our meal."

Susan her task reluctantly began,
And utter'd as she went — " The poor old man ! "
But while her soft and ever-j'ielding heart
Made str(ing protest against her lady's part,
The lady's self began to think it wrong
To feel so wrathful, ami resent so long.

" No more the wretch would she receive again,
No more behold him — but she would sustain ;

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 43 of 49)