George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

. (page 45 of 49)
Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 45 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

He hekl his patrons and his teachers dear,
But with his trade they must not intorlere.

'Twas certain now tliat John had lost the dread
And pious thoughts that once such terrors bred ;
His habits varied, and he more inclined
To the vain world, which ho had hall resigvi'd ;
He had moreover in his brethren seen,
Or he imagined, craft, conceit, and spleen :
" They are but men," said John, " and shall I then
Fear man's control, or stand in awe of men ?
'Tis their advice (their Convert's rule and law).
And good it is — I will not stand in awe."

IMorcover Dighton, though ho thought oi books
As one who cliicHy on the title looks.
Yet sometimes pondcr'd o'er a page to find,
When vex'd with cares, amusement for his mind ;
And by degrees that mind had treasured much
From works his teachers were afraid to touch :
Satiric novels, poets bold and free,
And what their writers term philosophy ;
All these were read, and ho began to feel
Some self-approval on his bosom steal.
Wisdom creates humility, but he
Who thus collects it will not humble be •
No longer John was fill'd with pure delight
And humble reverence in a pastor's sight ;
Who, like a g7-ateful zealot, listening stood.
To hear a man so friendly and so good :
But felt the dignity of one who made
Himself important by a thriving trade :
And growing pride in Dighton's mind was bred
By the strange food on which it coarsely ted.

Their brother's fall the grieving brethren heard —
The pride indeed to all around ajipcar'd ;
The world, his friends agreed, hail won the soul
From its best hojies, the man from their contrcil.
To make him humble, and confine his views
Within their bounds, and books which they peruse,
A dci)utation iVom these friends select
Might reason with him to some good effect ;
Arm'd with iuithority, and led by love,
They might those lollies fi-om his mind remove.
Deciding thus, and with this kind intent,
A chosen body with its speaker went.

" John," said the teacher, "John, with great concern
We see thy frailty, and thy fate discern — ■
Satan with toils thy simple so\d beset,
And thou art careless slumbering in the net :
Unmindful art thou of thy early vow ;
Who at tho morning meeting seas thee now ?
Who at the evening I ' Wliere is brother John ?'
We ask ; — are answer' d, ' To the tavern gone.'


Thee on the Sabbath seldom we behold ;
Thou canst not sin.? — thou'rt nursing for a coM :
This from the churchmen thou hast learu'd, for they
Have colds and fevers on the Sabbath-day ;
When in some snug warm room they sit, and pen
Bills from their ledgers — world-entangled nitn.

" See with what pride thou hast enlarged thy shop ;
To view thy tempting stores the heedless stop.
By what strange names dost thou these baubles know.
Which wantons wear, to make a sinful show ?
Hast thou in view these idle volumes placed
To be the pander of a vicious taste ?
What's here ! a book of dances ! you advance
In goodly knowledge — John, wilt learn to dance ?
How ! ' G'o,' it says, and ' to the Devil go !
' A ml shahe tlaiself I I treml de — but 'tis so.
Wretch as thou art, what answer canst thou make ?
Oh ! without question tUoii wilt go and shake.
What's here? ' The School for Scandal' — pretty schools !
Well, and art thou proficient in the rules ?
Art thou a pupil ? Is it thy design
To make our names contemptible as thine ?
' Old iVick, a Novel /' oh ! 'tis mighty well —
A fool has courage when he laughs at hell ;
' Frolic and Fun ;' the ' Humours of Tim Grin ;'
Why, John, thou grow'st facetious in thy sin ;
And what ? — ' The A rch deaco n's Charge ! ' — 'tis mighty well —
If Satan jiublish'd, thou wouldst doubtless sell :
Jests, novels, dances, and this precious .stuh
To crowTi thy folly — we have seen enough ;
We find thee fitted for each evil work :
Do print the Koran and become a Turk.

" John, thou art lost ; success and worldly pride
O'er all thy thoughts and purposes preside,
Have bound thee fast, and drawn thee far aside :
Yet turn ; these sin-traps from thy shop expel.
Repent and pray, and all may yet be well.

" And here thy wife, thy Dorothy behold,
How fashion's wanton robes her form enfold !
Can grace, can goodness with such trappings dwell 1
John, thou hast made thy wife a Jezebel :
See ! on her bosom rests the sign of sin,
1'lie glaring proof of naughty thoughts within :
What ! 'tis a cross : come hither — as a friend,
Thus from thy neck the shameful badge I rend."

" Rend, if you dare !" said Dighton ; "you shall find
A man of S[)irit, though to peace inclined j
Call mo ungrateful ! have 1 nyt my pay
At all times ready for the expectetl day?
Vo share my plenteous board you deign to come,
]\Iyself your puj)il, and my house your home :
And shall the jiersons who my meat enjoy
Talk of my faults, and treat me tis a boy ?
Have you not told how Rome's insulting priests

•I E


Led their meek laymen like a herd of beasts ;
And by their fleecing and their forgery made
Their holy calling an accursed trade ?
Can j'ou such acts and insolence condemn,
Who to your utmost power resemble them ?

" Concerns it you what books I set-for sale ?
The tale perchance may be a virtuous talc ;
And for the rest, 'tis neither wise nor just
In you, who read not, to condemn on trust ;
Why should th' Archdeacon's Charge your spleen excite?
He, or perchance th' Archbishop, may be right,

" That from your meetings I refrain is true :
I meet with nothing pleasant — nothing now ;
But the same prt)ots, that not one text explain,
And the same lights, where all things dark remain ;
I tliought j'ou saints on earth — but I have found
Some sins among j'ou, and the best unsound :
You have your failings like the crowds below.
And at your pleasure hot and cold can blow :
When I at first j^our grave deportment saw
(I own ni}^ folly), I was fill'd with a:ve ;
You spoke so warmly, and it seem'd so well,
I should have thought it treason to rebel.
Is it a wonder that a man like mo
Should such ])eriection in such teachers see —
Nay. should conceive 3'(m sent from heaven to bravo
The host of sin, and sinful souls to save ?
But as our reason wakes, our prospects clear,
And failings, flaws, and blemishes appear.

" When you were mounted in j-our rostrum high,
We shrank beneath yo<ir tone, j'our frown, your eye :
Then you beheld us abject, lallen, low,
And felt your glory fi'om our baseness grow ;
Touch'd hj your words, I trembled like the rest,
And my own vileness and your power confess'd :
These, I exclaim'd, are men divine, and gazed
On him who taught, delighted and amazed ;
Glad when he tinish'd, if by chance he cast
One look on such a sinner as ho pas.s'd.

" But when I vicw'd you in a clearer light.
And saw the frail and carnal appetite ;
When at his hiunble prayer, you deigii'd to eat,
Saints as you are, a civil sinner's meat ;
When, as you sat contented and at ease,
NiV)bling at leisin-e on the ducks and pease,
And, pleased some comforts in such place to find,
You could descend to bo a little kind ;
And gave us hojie in heaven there might bo room
For a tew souls lieside your own to come ;
While tills world's good engaged j^our carnal view,
And like a sinner you enjoy d it too ;
All this perceiving, can you think it strange
That change in you should work an oqua! change ?"

'' Wretch tliou art I" an elder cried, "and gouo


For everlasting !" — " Go thyself," said John ;
" Depart this instant, let me hear no more ;
My house my castle is, and that my door."

The hint thej' took, and from the door withdrew.
And John to meeting bade a long adieu ;
Attach'd to business, he in time became
A wealthy man of no inferior name.
It seem'd, alas ! in John's deluded sight.
That all was wrong, because not all was right :
And when he found his teachers had their stains.
Resentment and not reason broke his chains :
Thus on his feelings he again relied,
And never look'd to reason for his guide :
Could he have wisely view'd the frailty shown,
And rightly weigh' d their wanderings and his own,
He might have known that men may be sincere,
Though gay, and feasting on the savoury cheer ;
That doctrines sound and sober they may teach.
Who love to eat with all the glee they preach ;
Nay! who believe the duck, the grape, the pine,
Were not intended for the dog and swine :
But Dighton's hasty mind on every theme
lian from the truth, and rested in th' extreme ;
Flaws in his friends he found, and then withdrew
(Vain of his knowledge) from their virtues too.
feest of his books he loved the libeial kind,
That, if they improve not, still enlarge the mind ;
And found himself, with such advisers, free
From a fix'd creed, as mind enlarged could be.
His humble wife at these opinions sigh'd.
But her he never heeded till she died :
He then assented to a last request.
And by the meeting-window let her rest ;
And on lier stone the sacred text was seen,
Whicli had her comfort in departing been.

Dighton with joj' beheld his trade adv.ance.
Yet seldom publish'd, loth to trust to chance :
Then wed a doctor's si.stcr — poor indeed.
But skill'd in works her husband could not read ;
Who, if he wish'd new wa)'s of wealth to seek.
Could make her half-crown jiamphlet in a week:
This he rejected, though vi'itho\it ilisdain.
And the old and certain way to gain.

Thus he proceeded : trade increased the while.
And fortvmc woo'd him with perpetual smile :
On earlj' scenes he .sometimes cast a thought.
When on his heart the mighty change was wrought ;
And all the ease and comfort converts find
Was mai^mificil in his reflecting mind :
Then on the toaclior's ]>riestly i)rido ho dwelt,
That caused his freedom ; but with this he (elt
The danger of the free — for since that day
No guide hail shown, no brethren join'd his way ;.
Forsaking one, ho found no second creed,
2 E 2

t20 crabbe's roKMS.

But reading- doubted, doubting what to read.

Still, tho\igh reproof had brought some present pain.
The gain he made was iair and honest gain ;
He laid his wares indeed in public view.
But that all traders claim a right to do :
By means like these he saw his wealth increase,
And lelt his consecjueiice, and dwelt in peace.

Our hero's age was threescore years and five.
When he exclaim'd, " Why longer should I strive?
Why more amass, who never must behold
A young John Dighton to make glad the old?"
(The sous he had to early graves were gone.
And girls were burdens to the mind ol' John.)
" Had I a boy, he would our name sustain.
That now to nothing must return again ;
But what are all my profits, credit, ti-ade,
And parish honours ? — fully and parade."

Thus Dighton thought, and in his looks appear'd
Sadness, increased by much he saw and heard ;
The brethren often at the shop would stay,
And make their comments ere they walk'd away ;
They niark'd the window, fill'd in e\ery pane
With lawless prints of reputations slain ;
Distoited forms of men with honours gi-accd.
And our chief rulers in derision placed :
Amazed they stood, remembering well the days
When to be humhle was their bi'othcr's praise ;
When at the dwelling of their friend they stopp'd ;
To drop a word, or to receive it di-opy)'d ;
Where they beheld the prints ol men renown'd
And fur-lamed preachers pasted all around
(Such mouths, eyes, hair — so jirim, so fierce, so sleek !
The}' look'd as speaking what is woo to speak) :
On these the passing brethren loved to dwell —
How long the}' spake — how strongly, warmly, well !
What power tiad each to dive in mysteries deep.
To warm the cold, to make the hurdcn'd weep ;
To lure, to fright, to soothe, to awe the soul,
An<l list'ning tiocks to lead and to control !

But now discoursing, as tiiey lingcr'd near,
Thc^y teni])to<l John (whom t.iey accused) to hear
Their weight}' charge — " And can the lost one foci,
As in the time of duty, love, and zeal ;
When all were siunnion'd at the rising sun.
And he was ready with his friends to run ;
When he, partaking with a chosen few.
Felt the great change, sensation rich and now?
No ! all is lost ; her favours Fortune shovver'd
Upon the man, and he is overjiowerd ;
The world has won him witli its tempting store
Of needless wealth, .and that has ma<le him poor :
Success midoes him ; ho has risen to fall,
Has gaiuM a fortune, and has lust his all ;
Gone back from Sion, he will find his age


Loth to commence a second pilgfr™ftse ;
He has retreated from the chosen track.
And now must ever bear the burden on his back."

Hurt b}^ such censure, Jolm be'^'an to find
Fresh revokitions workintj in his mind ;
He soutjht for comfort in his books, but read
Without a plan or method in his head ;
What once anuiscd, now i-ather made him sad ;
What should inform, increased the doubts he had ;
Shame would not let him seek at church a guide.
And from his meeting he was held by pride !
His wife derided tears she never felt.
And passing brethren daily censures dealt ;
Hope for a son was now for ever past,
He was the fii-st John Dighton and the last.
His stomach fail'd, his case the doctor knew.
But said, " he still might hold a year or two."
" No more !" he siid ; " but why should I comiDlain ;
A life of doubt must be a life of yjain :
Could I be sure — but why should I despair?
I'm sure my conduct has been just and fair ;
In youth, indeed, I had a wicked will,
But I repented, and have sorrow still :
I had my comforts, and a growing trade
Gave greater pleasure than a fortune made ;
And as I more pos.sess'd, and reason'd more,
I lost those comforts I enjoy'd before.
When reverend guides I saw my table round.
And in my guardian gtiest my safety fouud :
Now sick and sad, no appetite, no case,
Nor pleasure have I, nor a wish to please ;
Nor views, nor hopes, nor plai\s, nor taste have I ;
Yet, sick of life, have no desire to die."

He said, and died : his trade, his name is gone.
And all that once gave consequence to John.

Unhappy Dighton ! had he foiuid a friend
When conscience told him it was time to mend —
A friend discreet, considerate, kind, sincere.
Who would have shown the grounds of hope and fear.
And proved that s[)irits, whether high or low.
No cert.iin tokens of man's safety show —
Had Reason ruled him in her proper place.
And Virtue led him while he lean'd on Grace —
Ila'l lie while zealous been discreet and pure.
His knowledge humble, and his hoi>e seciu-o ; —
These guides had placed him on the solid rock.
Where faith had rested, nor received a shock;
But his, alas ! was i)laeed \ipon the sand,
Where long it stood not, and where none can stand.

422 crabbe's poriis.



A brother noble.
Whose natare is so far from doing harms,
That he suspects none ; on wliose foolish honesty
My practices ride easy. King Lear.

He lets me feed with hinds, bars me the place of a brother.— ,4 « You Like It.
■Twas I ; but 'tis not I : I do not shame
To tell you what I was, being the thing I am.— .45 i'ou Like It.

Than old George Fletcher, on the British coast

Dwelt not a seaman who had more to boast :

Kind, simple, and sincere — he seldom spoke,

Biit sometimes sang and chorus' d — " Hearts of oak !"

In dangers steadj-, with his lot content,

His days in labom- and in love were spent.

He left a .son so like him, that the old
With joy exclaim'd, " 'Tis Fletcher we behold ;"
But to his brother, when the kinsmen came
And view'd his form, they grudged the father's name.
George was a bold, intrepid, careless lad,
With just the failings that his father had ;
Isaac was weak, attentive, slow, exact,
With the virtues that his fatlier lack'd.

Geoi-ge lived at sea : upon the land a guest —
He sougho for recreation, not for rest ;
While, far unlike, hi.s brother's feebler form
Shrank from the cold, and shudder'd at the storm ;
Still with the seaman's to connect his trade,
The boy was bound where blocks and ropes Averc made.

George, strong and sturdy, had a tender mind,
And was to Isaac pitiful and kind ;
A very father, till his art was gain'd,
And then a friend unwearied lie remain'd ;
He .saw his brother wa.s of spirit low,
His temper peevish, and his motions slow ;
Not fit to bustle in a world, or make
Friends to his fortune for his merit's sake ;
But the kind .siiilor could not boast the art
Of looking deeply in the hum;ui heart ;
Else had he seen that this weak brother knew
What men to com-t — what objects to pursue ;
That he to dist;iut gain the way discern'd,
And none so crooked but his genius learn'd.

Isaac w;us poor, and this the brother felt ;
He hired a, and there the landman dwelt,
Wrought at his. trade, and had an easy home,
For there w<iuld George with cash and comforts como :
And when they parted, Isaac look'd around •
Where other friends and helpers might be found.


He wish'd for some port-place, and one might fall.

He wisely thought, if he should try tor all ;

He had a vote — and were it well applied,

Might have its worth — and ho had views beside ;

Old Burgess Steel was able to promote

An humble man who served him with a vote ;

For Isaac felt not what some tempers feel.

But bow'd and bent the neck to Burgess Steel ;

And great attention to a lady gave.

His ancient friend, a maiden siiare and grave ;

One whom the visage long and look demure

Of Isaac pleased— he seem'd sedate and pure ;

And his soft heart conceived a gentle flame

For her who waited on this virtuous dame :

Not an outrageous love, a scorching fire,

But friendly liking and chastised flesire ;

And thus he waited, patient in delay,

In present favour and in fortune's way.

George then was coasting— war was yet delay'd.

And what he gain'd was to his brother paid ;

Nor ask'd the seaman what he saved or spent,

But took his grog, wrought hard, and was content ;

Till war awaked the land, and George began

To think what part became a useful man :
" Press'd, I must go ; why, then, 'tis better far
At once to enter like a British tar,
Than a brave captain and the foe to shun,
As if I foar'd the music of a gun." ^^

" Go not !" said Isaac— " you shall wear disguise.
" What !" said the seaman, "clothe myself with lies !
" Oh ! but there's danger."—" Danger in the fleet ?
You cannot mean, good brother, of defeat ;
And other dangers I at land must share-
So now adieu ! and trust a brother's c-are."
Isaac awhile demurr'd — but, in his heart.
So might he share, he was di.sposed to [)art :
The better mind will sometimes feel the pain
Of benefactions — favour is a chain ; ,. j •

But they the feeling scorn, and what they wish, disdam ;—
While beings form'd in coarser mould will hate
The helping hand they ought to venerate :
No wonder George should in this cause prevail,
With one contending who was glad to fall :
" farewell ! do wipe that doleful eye ;
Crying we came, and groaning wo may (lie ;
Let us do something 'twixt the groan an<l cry :
And hear me, brother, whether pay or prize,
One half to thee I give and I devise ;
For thou hast oft occasion for the aiil
Of learn'd physicians, ami they will bo p.aid ;
Their wives and children men sujiport at sea,
And thou, my lad. art wife anrl child to me :
Farewell ! 1 go where hope and honour call,^^
Nor does it follow that who fights must fall."

424 crabbe's poems.

Isaac here made a poor attempt to speak,
And a huge tear moved slovvl_v down his cheek ;
Like Phito's iron drop, hard sign of grace.
It slowly roll'd upon the rueful foce.
Forced by the striving will alone its way to trace.

Years fled — war lasted — George at sea remain' tl.
While the slow landman still his profits gain'd :
A humble place was vacant — he besought
His patron's interest, and the office caught ;
For still the virgin was his faithful friend,
And one so sober could with truth commend.
Who of his own defects most humbly thought.
And their advice with zeal and reverence sought :
Whom thus the mistress praised, the maid approved.
And her ho wedded whom he wisely loved.

No more he needs assistance — but, alas !
He fears the money will for liquor pass ;
Or that the seaman might to tlattei'ers lend.
Or give sujiport to some protended friend :
Still he must write — he wrote, and he confess'd
That, till absolved, he should be sore distress'd ;
But one so friendly would, he tliought, forgive
The hasty deed — Heav'n know how he should live ;
" But you," he added, " as a man of sense,
Have well consider'd danger and expense ;
I ran, alas ! into the fatal snare,
And now for trouble must ni}' mind prepare ;
And how, witli children, I shall ]iick mj' way
Through a hard world, is more than I can say :
Then change not, brother, your more happy state.
Or on the hazard long deliberate."

George answered gravely, " It is right and fit.
In all our crosses, humbly to .submit :
Your apprehensions are imwise, unjust ;
Forbear repining, and e.xpel distrust."
He added, "marriage was the joy of life,"
And gave his service to his brother's wife ;
Then vow'd to bear in all expense a part.
And thus concluded, " Have a cheerful heart."

Had the glad Isaac been his brother's guide.
In the same terms the seaman liad replied ;
At such rej)roofs the crafty landman smiled.
And softly said, "Tiiis creature is a child."

Twice had the gallant ship a captui-e made —
And when in jiort the happy crow were paid.
Home wont the sailor, with his pockets stored.
Ease to enjoy, and pleasure to afford ;
His time was short, joy shone in every face,
Isaac half fainted in the fond embrace :
The wife resolved her honour'd guest to please,
Tl>e children clung upon their uncle's knees ;
The grog went round, the ncighlunu's drank his health,
And George oxclaim'd, " Ah ! what to this is wealth ?
Better," said he, " to bear a loving heart,


Than roll in riches— 1 ait we now must part ! "

All yet is still— but hark ! the winds o'ersweep
The rising waves, and howl upon the deep ;
Sliips late hccalm'd on mountain-billows ride —
So life is thrcaten'd and so man is tried.

Ill were the tidings that arrived from sea.
The worthy Georire must now a cnp]>le be :
His le^ was lopp"d ; and though his heart was sound,
Tliougli his >)ravo captain was with glory crowu'd.
Yet much it vex'd him to repose on shore.
An idle log, and be of use no more :
True, he was sure that Isaac would receive
All of his brother that the foe might leave ;
To whom the seaman his design had sent,
Ere from the jMjrt the wounded hero went :
His wealth and exjiectations told, he "knew
Wherein they fail'd, what Isaac's love would do ;
That he the grog and cabin would supply,
Where George at anchor during life would lie."

The landman read— and, reading grew distress'd : —
" Could he resolve t' admit .s<j poor a g-uest?
Better at Greenwich might the sailor stay,
Unless his purse could for his comforts pay."
So Isaac judged, and to his wife appeal'd,
But yet acknowledged it was best to yield :
" Perhaps his pension, with what sums remain
Due or unsquander'd may the man maintain ;
Refuse we must not."— With a heavy sigh
The lady heard, and made her kind reply : —
" Nor would I wish it, Isaac, were we sure
How long this crazy building will endure ;
Like an old house, that every day appears
About to fall, he may bo proppM for years ;
For a few months, indeed, wc might comply.
But these old batter'd fellows never die."

'Fhc hand of Isaac, George on entering took.
With love and resignation in his look ;
Declared liis comfort in the fortune past.
And jov to find his anchor safely cast :
" Call then my nephews, lot the grog be brov^'ht.
And I will tell them how the .ship was fought."
Alas ! our simple seaman should have known
Tliat all the care, the kindness, ho had shown,
Were from his brother's heart, if not his memory, flown :
All swept away, to be i)ereeivcd no more.
Like idle strtictures on the sandy shore,
The chance anuiscmcnt of the ])Iayfnl boy.
That the rude billows in their rage destroy.

Poor George confes.s'd, though loth tlic truth to find,
Slight was his knowledge of a brother's mind :
The vulgar pipe was to the wife offence.
The fre(\uent grog to Isaac an cxjienso;
Would friends like hers, she (piesliou'd, "choose to como
Where clourls of poLsou'd fume defiled a room ?

426 crabbe's roEMS.

This could their lady friend, and Burgess Steel
(Teased with his worship's asthma), bear to leel ?
Could they associate or converse with him —

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 45 of 49)