George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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Great his offence, and evil was his mind.
But he had suffer'd, and she would be kind :
She spurn'd such baseness, and she found within
A fair aciiuittal from so foul a sin ;
Yet she too err'd, and niu.'ft of Heaven exi^ect
To be rejected, him should she reject."

Susan was summon'd — "I'm about to do
A fooli.sh act, in part seduced by you ;
Go to the creature — .say that I intend.
Foe to his sins, to bo his sorrow's friend :
Take, for his present comforts, food and wine.
And mark his feelings at this act of mine :
Observe if shame be o'er his features spread.
By his own victim to bo soothed and fed ;
r.ut this inform him, that it is not love
That jirompts my heart, that duties only movo.
Say, that no merits in his favour i>lea(l.
But miseries only, ancl his abject need ;
Nor bring mo grov'llinLf thanks, nor high-flown proiso ;
I would liis spirits, nut his fancy raise :
Give him no hope that I shall over moro



406 crabbe's roEMS.

A man so vilo to my esteem restore ;
But warn him, rather, that, in time of rest,
His crimes be all remember'd and confess'd :
I know not all that form the sinner's debt,
But there is one that he must not forg-ct."

The mind of Susan prompted her with speed
To act her part in every courteous deed :
All that was kind she was prepared to say,
And keep the lecture for a future day ;
When he had all life's comforts by his side,
Pity might sleep, and good advice be tried.

This done, the mistress felt disposed to look.
As self-approving, on a piovis book ;
Yet, to her native bias still inclined,
She felt her act too merciful and kind ;
But when, long musing on the chilling seen©
So lately past — the frost and sleet so keen —
The man's whole misery iu a single view —
Yes, she could think some pity was his due.

Thus fix'd, she heard not her attendant glide
With soft, slow step — till, standing by her side.
The trembling servant gasp'd for breath, and shed
Relieving tears, then utter'd, " He is dead ! "
" Dead ! " said the startled lady.—" Yes, he fell
Close at the door where he was wont to dwell ;
There his sole friend, the ass, was standing by,
Half dead himself, to see his master die."

"Expired he then, good heaven ! for want of food?"
" No ! crusts and water in a corner stood :
To have this plenty, and to wait so long.
And to be right too late, is doubly wrong :
Then, every day to sec him totter by.
And to forbear — Oh ! whrtt a heart had I !"
" Blame me not, child ; I tremble at the news."
" 'Tis my own heart," said Susan, " I accuse :
To have this money in my p\n-se — to know
What grief was his, and what to grief we owe ;
To see him often, always to conceive
How he must pine and languish, groan and grieve.
And every day in oaso and peace to dine,
And rest in comfort — What a heart is mine ! "



TALK XVIII. — THE WAGER. 407

TALE XVIII.

THE Wx\.GER,

Tis thought, your deer does hold you ivt a bay.

Tanning 0/ the Skrcu\

I choose her for myself,
If slie and I Iw i>lea3ed, what's that to you t—Ibid*

Let's each one send to his wife.
And he whose wife is most obedient
Shall win the wager. Ibiil,

Now, by the world, it is a lusty wench ;

I love her ten times more than e'er I did. — Jhittm

Counter and Clubb were men in trade, -whose pain?.

Credit, and prudence, brought them constant gains ;

Partners and punctual, every friend a,n'reed

Counter and Clubb were men who must succeed.

When they had fix'd some little time in life.

Each thought of taking to himself a wife ;

As men in trade alike, as men in love.

They seem'd with no according views to move ;

As certain ores in outward view the same.

They show'd their difference when the magnet came.

Counter was vain : with spirits strong and high,

'Twas not in him like suppliant swain to sigh.

" His wife might o'er his men and maids preside,

And in her province bo a judge and guide ;

But what he thought, or did, or wish'd to do.

She must not know, or censure if slie knew ;

At home, abroad, by day, by night, if he

On aught determined, so it was to be.

How is a man," he asked, " for business fit.

Who to a female can his will submit ?

Absent a while, lot no inquiring eye

Or plainer sj)eech presume to question why :

But all be silent ; and, when seen again,

Let all be cheerfid — s/iall a wife complain 1

Friends I invite, and who shall dare t' object,

Or look on them with coolness or neglect ?

No ! I must ever of my house be head.

And, thus obey'd, I condescend to wed."

Clubb heard the speech — "My friend is nice," said ho,
"A wife with less respect will do for mc :
How is he certain such a prize to gain ?
What he apjn'ovcs a lass may learn to feign.
And so affect t' obey till she begins to reign ;
Awhile complying, she may vary then.
And be as wives of more unwary men ;
Beside, to him who plays such lordly part,
How shall a tender creature yield hei' heart ?
Should he the promised confidence refuse.
She may another more confiding chooiio ;



403 crabbe's roEMs.

May show her anger, yet her purpose hide,
And wake his jealousy, and wound his pride.
In one so humbled, who can trace the friend ?
I on an equal, not a slave, depend ;
If true, my confidence is wisely placed,
And being false, she only is disgraced."

Clubb, with these notions, cast his eye around ;
And one so easy soon a partner found.
The lady chosen was of good repute ;
Meekness she had not, and was seldom mute ;
Though quick to anger, still she loved to smile.
And would be calm if men would wait awhile :
She knew her duty, and she loved her way,
More pleased in truth to govern than obey ;
She heard her priest with reverence, and her spouse
As one who felt the pressure of her vows ;
Useful and civil, all her friends confess'd —
Give her her way, and she would choose the best ;
- Though some indeed, a sly remark would make —
GivQ it her not, and she would choose to take.

All this, when Clubb some cheerful months had spent.
He saw, confess'd, and said he was content.

Counter meantime selected, doubted, weigh'd.
And then brought home a young complying maid ;
A tender creatui'e, full of fears as charms,
A beauteous niirsling from its mother's arms ;
A soft, sweet blossom, such as men must love.
But to preserve must keep it in the stove :
She had a mild, subdued, expiring look —
Raise but the voice, and this fair creature shook ;
Leave her alone, she felt a thousand fears —
Chide, and she melted into floods of tears ;
Fondly she pleaded, and would gently sigh.
For very pit}', or she knew not why ;
One wfiom to govern none could be afraid —
Hold up the finger, this meek thing obey'd ;
Her happy husband had the easiest task — ■
Say but his will, no question wouhl she ask ;
She sought no reasons, no affairs she knew.
Of business spoke not, and had nought to do.

Oft he exclaim'd, " How meek ! how mild ! how kind !
With her 'twere cruel but to seem unkind :
Though ever silent when I take my leave.
It pains my heart to think how hers will grieve ;
'Tis heaven on earth with such a wife to dwell,
I am in raptures to have sped so well ;
But let mo not, my friend, your envy raise,
No ! on my life, your patience has my praise."

His friend, though silent, felt the scorn implied —
" What neecl of iiatlencc? " to himself he cried ;
" Better a woman o'er hor house to rule,
Than a poor child just hurried from her school ;
Wlio has no care, yet never lives at ease ;
Unfit to rulOj and indisposed to please.



TALE XVIir. — THE WAGER. 409

What if he gfoveni, there his boast should end :
No husband's power can make a slave his friend."

It was the custom of these friends to meet
With a few neighbours in a neighbouring street ;
Where Counter ofttimes would occasion seize
To move his silent friend by words like those :
" A man," said he, " if govern'd by his wife.
Gives up his rank and dignity in life ;
Now, better foto befalls my friend and me."
He spoke, and look'd th' a]3proving smile to see.

The quiet partner, when he chose to speak.
Desired his friend " another theme to seek ;
"Ulien thus the\' met, he judged that state affairs
And such important subjects should be theirs :"
But still the partner, in his lighter vein,_
Would cause in Clubb affliction or disdain ;
It made him anxious to detect the cause
Of all that boasting : — " Wants my friend applause ?
This plainly jiroves him not at perfect ease.
For, felt he i)leasure, he would wish to please.
These triumphs here for some regrets atone —
]\Ien who are blcss'd let other men alone."
Thus made suspicious, he observed and saw
His friend each night at earlj' hour withdraw ;
He sometimes mention'd Juliet's tender nerves,
And what attention such a wife deserves :
'■In this," thought Clubb, "full sure some mystery lies-
He laughs at me, yet he with much complies.
And all his vaunts of bliss are proud apologies."

With such ideas treasured in his breast,
lie grew composed, and let his anger rest ;
Till Counter once (when wine so long went round,
That friendship and discretion both were drown'd)
Began, in teasing and triumi)hant mood.
His evening banter : — " Of all earthly good.
The best," he said, "was an obedient sjjouse,
Such as my friend's — that every one allows :
What if she wishes his designs to know ?
It is because she would her praise bestow ;
What if she wills that he remain at home ?
She knows that mischief may from travel come.
I, who am free to venture where I please.
Have no sucli kind preventing checks as these ;
But mine is double <luty, first to gaiido
Myself aright, then rule a house beside ;
While this our friend, more happy than the free,
llcsigns all power, and laughs at liberty."

" liy heaven ! " said Clubb, " excuse me if I swear,
I'll bet a hundred guineas, if ho dare.
That uncoiitroli'd I will such freeiloms take
That he will fear to ecpial — there's my stake."

" A match ! " said C<junter, much by wine inflamed ;
" But we arc friends — lot smaller stake bo named :
Wino tor our future mooting, that will I



410 cuabbe's roEMS.

Take and no more — what peril shall we try ? "
"Let's to Newmarket," Clubb replied ; " or choose
Yourself the place, and what you like to lose :
And he who first returns, or fears to go,
Forfeits his cash." — Said Counter, " Be it so."

The friends around them saw with much delight
The social wai-, and hail'd the pleasant night :
Nor would they further hear the cause discuss' d.
Afraid the recreant heart of Clubb to tnist.
Now sober thoughts return'd as each withdi'ew.
And of the subject took a serious view :

" 'Twas wrong," thought Counter, " and will grieve my love,"
'"Twas wrong," thought Clubb, " my wife will not approve :
But fiiends were present ; I must try the thing.
Or with my folly half the town will ring."

He sovight his lady — " Madam, I'm to blame.
But was reproach' d, and could not bear the shame ;
Here in my folly— for 'tis best to say
The very truth — I've swoni to ha^■e my way ;
To that Newmarket — though I hate the place,
And have no taste or talents for a race.
Yet so it is — well, now prepare to chide) — ■
I laid a wager that I dared to ride :
And I must go : by heaven, if you resist,
I -shall be scorn'd, and ridiculed, and hiss'd ;
Let me with grace before my friends appear.
You know the truth, and must not be severe :
He too must go, but that he will of course :
Do j'ou consent? — I never think of force."

" You never need," the worthy dame replied ;
" The husband's honour is the woman's pride ;
If I in trifles be the wilful wife,
Still for your credit I would lose my life.
Go ! and when fix'd the day of your return,
Stay longer yet, and let the blockheads learn
That though a wife may sometimes wish to rule,
She would not make th' indulgent man a fool ;
I would at times advise— but idle they
Who think th' assenting husband w.ust obey."

The happy man, who thought his lady right
In other cases, was assured to-night ;
Then for the day with jn-oud delight prepared,
To .show his doubting friends how much he dared.
Counter — who grieving sought his bed, his rest
Broken by pictures of his lovo distress' d —
With soft and winning speech the fair prepared :
" She all his coiuicils, comforts, pleasures .shared :
She was assured he loved her from his soul,
She never knew and need not fear control ;
But so it happen'd — he was grieved at heart
It happen'd so, that they awhile must part —
A little time — the distance was but short.
And business call'd him — ho despised the sport ;
But to Newmarket he engaged to ride



TALE XVm.— THE WAGER. 411

With his friend Clubb :" and there he stopp'd and sigh'd.

Awliile tl>e tender creature look'd dismay'd,
Then floods of tears tlie call of y;vM obej'd ; —

" She an objection ! No ! " she sobb'd, not one :
Her work was finish'd, and her race was nm ;
For die she must — indeed she would not live
A week alone, for all the world could give ;
He too nnist die in that same wicked place ;
It always happen'd — was a common case ;
Among those horrid horses, jockeys, crowds,
'Twas certain death— they might bespeak their shrouds ;
He would attempt a race, be sure to tall —
And she expire with terror — that was all ;
With love like hers she was indeed unfit
To bear such horrors, hut she must submit."

" But for three days, my love, three days at most."

" Enough for me ; I then shall be a ghost."
" My honour's pledged ! "— " Oh ! yes, my dearest life,
I know your honour must outweigh your wife ;
But ere this absence have you sought a friend t
I shall be dead — on whom can you depend .<
Let me one favour of your kin<lness crave.
Grant me the stone I raention'd for my grave."
" Nay, love, attend — why, bless my soul — I say

I will return — there — weep no longer— nay ! "

" Well ! I obey, and to the last am true.

But spirits fail me ; I must die ; adieu ! "

" What, madam, must ?— 'tis wrong— I'm angry— zounds !

Can I remain and lose a thousand pounds ?"
"Go then, my love ! it is a monstrous sum,

Worth twenty wives — go, love ! and I am dumb ;

Kor be displeased — had I the power to live.

You might be angry, now you uiust forgive :

Alas ! 1 faint— ah ! cruel — there's no need

Of wounds or fevers — this has done the deed."
The lady fainted, and the husband sent

For every aid — for every comfort went ;

Strong terror seized him : " Oh ! she loved so well.

And who th' eflect of tenderness could tell '!■ "
She now recover'd, and again began

With accent (lucrulous — " Ah ! cruel man ! "

Till the sad husband, conscience-struck, confess' d,

'Twas very wicked with his friend to jest ;

For now he saw that tlioso who were obey'd.

Could, like the most subservient, feel afraid :

And tliough a wife might not dispute the will

Of her liege lord, she C(juld prevent it still.

The morning came, and Clubb iireparcd to rido

With a smart boy, his servant, and his guide ;

When, ere he mounted on the ready steed.

Arrived a letter, and he stopp'd to read.

" My friend," he road, " our joiirney I decline,

A heart too tender for such strife is mine ;

Yours is the triumph, bo you so inclined ;



412 ckabbe's poems.

But you are too considerate and kind :

In tender pity to my Juliet's feai's

I tiius relent, o'ercome by love and tears ;

She knows your kindness ; I have heard her say,

A man like j'ou 'tis pleasure to obey :

Each faithful wife, like ours, must disapprove

Such dangerous trifling with connul^ial love ;

What has the idle world, my friend, to do

With our affairs ? they envy me and you :

What if I could my gentle spouse command —

Is that a cause I should her tears withstand ?

And what if j'ou, a friend of peace submit

To one you love — is that a theme for wit ?

'Twas wrong, and I shall henceforth judge it weak

Both of submission and control to speak :

Be it agreed that ail contention cease.

And no such follies vox our future peace ;

Let each keep guard against domestic strife,

And find nor slave nor tyrant in his wife."

" Agreed," said Clubb, "with all my .soul agreed ;"—
And to the boy, delighted, gave his steed.
"I think my friend has well his mind express'd,
And I assent ; such things are not a jest."
" True," said the wife, " no longer he ean hide
The truth that pains nim by his wounded pride :
Your friend has found it not an easy thing.
Beneath his 3'oke this yielding soul to bring :
These weeping willows, though they seem inclined
By every breeze, yet not the strongest wind
t:an from their Ijent divei-t this weak but stubborn kind ;
Drooping they seek your pity to excite.
But 'tis at once their nature and delight ;
Such women feel not ; while they sigh and weep,
'Tis but their habit — their affections sleep ;
They are like ice that in the hand we hold,
So very melting, yet so very cold ;
On such affection lot not m;in relj',
The husbands suffer, and the ladies sigh :
But your friend's offer let us kindly take.
And spare his pride for his vexation's sake ;
For he has found, and through his life will find,
'Tis easiest dealing with the firmest mind —
More just when it resists, and, when it yields more kind."



TALE XIX.— THE CONVERT. 413



TALE XIX.

THE CONVERT.

A tapster is a good tratlo : an old cloak makes a new jerkin ; a withered ser^-ingman a
fresh tapster.— J/err» Wives of Windsor.

A fellow, sir, that I have known to go about with my troll-my-dames.— Wivter't Talc.

I myself, sometimes leaving the fear of Heaven on the left hand, and hiding mine
honoui- in my necesrity, am fain to shuffle, to hedge, and to lurch.

Merry Wives of Windsor.

Yea, at that very moment.
Consideration like an augel came.
And whipp'd th' offending Adam out ottam.— Henry 1 .

I have lived long enongh : my way of life
Is lall'u into the sear, the yellow leaf ;
And that which should accompany old age.
As honour, love, ohcdience, troops of friends,
I must not look to have. Macbeth.

Some to our hero have a hero's name
Denied, because no father's he could claim ;
Nor could his mother with precision state
A full foir claim to her certificate ;
On her own word the marriage must depend —
A point she was not eager to defend :
But who without a father's name can raise
His own so high, deserves the greater praise :
The less advantage to the strife he brought,
The greater wonders has his prowess wrought ;
He who depends upon his wind and limbs,
Needs neither cork nor bladder v.hen he swims ;
Nor will by empty breath be piift'd along.
As not himself, but in his helpers, strong.

Suffice it then, our hero's name was clear.
For call Jolui Dighton, and he an.swer'd " Here.'
But who that name in early life assign'd
He never found — he never tried to find :
Whether his kindred were to John disgrace.
Or John to them, is a disputed case ;
His infant state owed nothing to their care —
His mind neglected, and his body bare ;
All his success must on himself depend.
He had no money, counsel, guide, or friend ;
But in a market-town an active boy
Appear'd, and sought in various ways employ ;
VVho soon, thus cast upon the world, began
To show the talents of a thriving man.

With spirit high John Icarn'd tlio world to brave.
And in Vjoth senses was a ready knave ;
Knave as of old, obedient, keen, and quick.
Knave as at present, skill'd to shift and trick ;
Some humble part of many trades ho cauglit.
He for t!ie builder and the painter wrought ;



414 OR abbe's poems.

For serving-maids on secret errands ran,

The waiter's helper, and the ostler's man ;

And when he chanced (oft chanced he) place to lose,

His varying genius shone in blacking shoes ;

A midnight fisher by the pond he stood,

Assistant jjoachor, he o'erlook'd the wood ;

At an election John's impartial mind

Was to no cause nor candidate confined ;

To all in turn he full allegiance swore,

And in his hat the various badges bore ;

His liberal soul with every sect agreed,

Unheard their reasons, he received their creed ;

At church he deign'd the organ-pipes to fill,

And at the meeting sang both loud and shrill ;

But the full purse these different merits gaiu'd.

By strong demands his lively passions draiu'd ;

Liquors he loved of each infiaming kind.

To midnight revels flew with ardent mind ;

Too warm at cards, a losing game he play'd,

To fleecing beauty his attention paid ;

His boilmg passions were by oaths exprcss'd,

And lies he made his profit and his jest.

Such was the boy, and such the man had been/
But fate or happier fortune changed the scene ;
A fever seized him, " He should surely die — "
He fear'd, and lo ! a friend was praying by ;
With terror moved, this teacher he addrcss'd,
And all the erroi-s of his youth confess'd ;
The good man kindly clear'd the sinner's way
To lively hope, and counsell'd liim to pray ;
Who then resolved, should ho from sickness rise.
To quit cards, liquors, poaching, oaths, and lies :
His health restored, he yet resolved and grow
True to his masters, to tlieir meeting true ;
His old companions at his solier face
Laugh'd loud, while he, attesting it was grace.
With tears besought them all his calling to embrace ;
To his new friends such convert gave ai)plause,
Life to their zeal, and glory to their cause ;
Though terror wrought the mighty change, yet strong
Was the impression, and it lasted long ;
John at the lectures due attendance paid,
A convert meek, obedient, and afraid ;
His manners strict, though form'd on fear alono,
Pleased the grave friends, nor less his solemn tone.
The lengthen'd face of care, the low and inward groan ;
The stern good men exulted when they saw
Those timid looks of penitence and awe ;
Nor thought that one so passive, liumble, meek,
Had j'et a creed and principles to seek.

The faith th.at lleason finds, confirms, avows,
The ho])CS, the views, the comforts she allows —
These were not his, who by his feelings found,
And by them only, that his faith was sound ;



TALE XIX. — THE CONVERT. 415

Feelings of terror these, for evil past.
Feelings of hope to he received at last ;
Now weak, now lively, changing with the day —
These were his feelings— and he felt his way.

Sprung from such source.?, will this faith remain
While these supporters can their strength retain ;
As heaviest weights the deepest rivers pass.
While icy chains fast bind the solid mass ;
So, born of feeHngs, faith remains secure.
Long as their firmness and their strength endure ;
But when the waters in their channel glide,
A bridge must bear us o'er the threat'ning tide ;
Such bridge is Keason, and there Faith i-elies,
Whether the varying sjiirits fall or rise.

His patrons, still disposed their aid to lend,
Behind a counter placed their humble friend.
Where pens and paper were on shelves display'd,
And pious pamj)hlets on the windows laid :
By nature active, and from vice restrain'd.
Increasing trade his bolder views sustain'd ;
His friends and teachers, finding so much zeal
In that young convert whom they taught to feel,
His trade encouraged, and were pleased to find
A hand so ready, with such humble mind.

And now. his health restored, his spirits eased.
He wisli'd to mairy, if the teachers pleased.
They, not unwilling, from the virgin class
Took him a comely and a courteous lass ;
Simple and civil, loving and beloved.
She long a fond and faithful [fartner proved ;
In every year the elders and the priest
Were duly summon'd to a christening feast ;
Nor came a babe, but by his growing trade
John had provision for the coming made ;
For friends and strangers all were pleased to deal
With one whose care was equal to his zeal.

In human friondsliips, it compels a sigh
To think what trifles will di.ssohe the tie.
John, now become a master of his trade.
Perceived how much improvement might be made ;
And as this prospect opeu'd to his view,
A certain portion of his zeal withdrew ;
His fear abated — " What had he to fear—
His profits certain and his conscience clear?"
Above his door a boai-d was placed by John,
And " Dighton, Stationer," was gilt thereon ;
His win<low next, enlarged to twice the size.
Shone with such trinkets as the simple jirizo ;
While in the shop, with pious works, were seen
The last new play, review, or m;igazine :
In orders jiunctual, he observed — " Tlio books
He never read, and could he jnclgo their looks ?
Readers and critics should thoir merits try,
He had no olfico but to sell and buy ;



416 crabbe's roEjis.

Like other traders, profit was bis care ;
Of what tlioy print, the authors must beware."



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