George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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A loud rough sailor with a timber limb ? "

Cold as he grew, still Isaac strove to show.
By well-feign'd care, that cold he could not grow ;
And when he saw his brother look distress'd,
He strove some petty comtorts to suggest ;
On his wife solely their neglect to lay.
And then t' excuse it, is a woman's way ;
He too was chidden when her rules he broke.
And then she sickon'd at the scent of smoke.

George, though in doubt, was still consoled to find
His brother wishing to be reckon'd kind :
That Isaac seem'd concern'd liy his distress.
Gave to his injured feelings some redress ;
But none he found disposed to lend an ear
To stories all were once intent to hear :
Except his nephew, seated on his knee.
He found no creature cared about the sea ;
But George indeed -for George they eall'd the boy.
When his good uncle was then- boast and joy —
Would listen long, and would contend with sleep.
To hear the woes and wonders of the deep ;
Till the fond mother cried—" That man will teach
The foolish boy his loud and boisterous speech."
So judged the father— and the boy was taught
To shun the uncle, whom his love had sought.

The mask of kindness now but seldom worn,
George ielt each evil harder to be borne ;
And cried (vexation growing day by day),
"Ah ! brother Isaac ! What ! I'm 'in the way !"
"No ! on my credit, look ye. No ! but I
Am fond of peace, and my repose would buy
On any terms— in short, wc must comply :
My spouse had money — she must have her will—
Ah ! brother, marriage is a bitter jiill."

George tried the lady— " Sister, I offend."
" Me ? " she replied—" Oh no ! you may depend
On my regard— but watch your brother's way,
Whom I, like you, must study and obey."

"Ah!" thought the seaman, " what a head was mine,
That easy berth at Greenwich to resign !
I'll to the parish"— but a little pride.
And some affection, put the thought aside.

Now gross neglect and ojien scorn he boro
In silent sorrow — but ho felt the tnore :
The odious pipe ho to the kitchen took.
Or strove to profit by some pious book.

When the mind stoops to this dcgiadoil state,
New griefs will <larken the dependent's fate ;
" Brother ! " said I.saac, "you will sure excuss
The little freedom I'm compell'd to use :
My wife's relations— (cui-se the haughty crow ')—



TALE XX. — THE BROTHERS. 427

Affect such niceness, and such dread of you :
You speak so loud— and they have natures soft —
Brother — I wi.sh — do go upon the loft ! "

Poor George obej'Vl, and to the garret fled,
Where not a being saw the tears ho shed :
But more was yet required, for guests were conic.
Who could not dine if he disgraced the room.
It shock'd his spirit to be esteem'd unfit
With an own brother and his wife to sit ;
He grew rebellious — at the vestry spoke
For weekly aid — they heard it as a joke :
"So kind a brother, and so wealthy — you
Apply to us ?— No ! this will never do :
Good neighbour Fletcher," said the Overseer,
" We are engaged — you can have nothing here !"

George muiter'd something in despairing tone,
Then sought his loft, to think and grieve alone ;
Neglected, slighted, restless on his bed,
With heart half broken, and with scraps ill fed ;
Yet was he pleased that hours for play design'd
Were given to ease his ever-troubled mind ;
The child still listen 'd with increasing joy.
And he was soothed by the attentive boy. .

At length he .sickeu'd, and this duteous child
Watch'd o'er his sickness, and his pains beguiled ;
The mother bade him from the loft refrain,
But, though with caution, yet he went again ;
And now his tales the sailor feebly told.
His heart %vas heavy, and his limbs were cold :
The tender boy came often to entreat
His good kind friend would of his presents eat ;
Piirloin'd or purchased, for he saw, with shame,
The food untouch'd that to his uncle came;
Who, sick in body and in mind, received
The boy's indulgence, gratified and grieved.

" Uncle will die ! " said George : — the piteous wife
Exclaim'd, " she saw no value in his life ;
But, sick or well, to my commands attend,
And go no more to your complaining friend."
The boy was vex'd, he felt his heart reprove
The stern decree. — What ! punish'd for hLs love 1
No ! he would go, but .softlj', to the room
Stealing in silence — for ho knew his doom.

Once in a week the father came to say,
"George, arc you ill ! " and hurried him away ;
Yet to his wife would on their duties dwell.
And often cry, " Do use my brother well ; "
And something kind, no question, Isaac meant.
Who took vast credit for the vague intent.

But, truly kin<l, the gentle boy cssay'd
To cheer his uncle, firm, although afraid ;
But now the father caught him at the door,
And, swearing — yes, tiie man in office swore,
And cried, " Away ! How ! brother, I'm surprised



428 crabbe's roEMS.

That one so old cnn he so ill advised :

Let him not dare to visit you again,

Your cursed stoi-ies will disturb his brain;

Is it not vile to court a foolish boy

Your own absurd narrations to enjoy ?

What ! sullen !— ha, George Fletcher ! you shall seo.

Proud as you are, your bread depends on me ! "

He spoke, and, frowning, to his dinner went.
Then cool'd and felt some qualms of discontent :
And thought on times when ho compell'd his sou
To hear these stories, nay, to beg for one ;
But the wife's wrath o'ercame the brother's pain.
And shame was felt, and conscience rose, in vaiu.

George yet stole up ; he saw his uncle lie
Sick on the bod, and heard his heavy sigh ;
So he resolved, before he went to rest.
To comfort one so dear and so distress'd ;
Then watch'd his time, but, with a child-like art,
Betray'd a something treasured at his heart :
Th' observant wife remark'd, " The boy is grown
So like your brother, that he seems his own :
So close and sullen ! and I still susj)ect
They often meet : — do watch them and detect."

George now remark'd that all was still as night.
And hasten'd up with terror and delight ;
" Uncle !" he cried, and softly tapp'cl the door,
" Do let me in " — but he could add no more ;
The careful father caught him in the fact,
And cried, — " You serpent ! is it thus you act ?
Back to your mother ! " and, with hasty blow.
He sent th' indignant boy to grieve below ;
Then at the door an angry speech began —
" Is this your conduct ? Is it thus you plan ?
Seduce mj"- child, and make my house a scene

Of vile dispute What is it that you mean ?

George, are3'ou dumb ? do learn to know your friends,
And think a while on whom your bread depends.
What ! not a word ? be thankful I am cool —
But, sir, beware, nor longer play the fool.
Come ! brother, come ! what is it that you seek
By this rebellion ? — Speak, you villain, speak !
Weeping, 1 warrant — sonow makes you ihimb :
I'll ope your mouth, impostor ! if I come :
Lot mo approach — I'll shako you from the bed,
You stubborn dog Oh God ! my brother's dead !"

Timid was Isaac, and in all the past
He felt a purjiosc to bo kind at last :
Niir did he mean his brother to dejiart
Till ho had shown this kindness oi his heart ;
But day by day he put the cause aside.
Induced by av'rico, |)eevishness, or pride.

But now awak<;n'd, from this fatal time
His conscience Isaac felt, and found his crime :
Ho raised to George a monumental stone.



TALE XX. — THE BROIHEUS. 429

And there retired to sigh and think alone ;

An ague seized him, he grew pale, and shook —

"So," said his son, " would my poor undo look."

" And so, my child, shall I like him expire."

" No ! j'ou have phj'sic and a cheerful fire."

" Unhappy sinner ! yes, I'm well supplied

With every comfort my cold heart denied."

He view'd liis brother now, but not as one

Who vexd his wile by fondness tor her son ;

Not as with wooden limb, and seaman's talc,

The odious pipe, vile grog, or humbler ale :

He now the worth and grief alone can view

Of one so mild, so generous, and .so true ;

" The frank, kind brother, with such open heart, —

And I to break it— — 'twas a demon's part ! "

So Isaac now, as led by conscience, feels.

Nor his unkindness palliates or conceals ;

" This is your folly," said his heartless wife :

"Alas ! my lolly cost my brother's life ;

It sufter'd liim to languish and decay —

My gentle brother, whom I could not pay,

And therefore left to pine, and fret his life avray! "

He takes his son, and bids the boy unfold
All the good uncle of his teelings told.
All he lamented — and the ready tear
Falls as he listens, soothed, and grieved to hear.

" Did ho not curse me, child ?" — " He never cur.scd,
But could not breathe, and said his heart would bur.-t."
" And so will mine :" — " Then, father, you must pray :
My uncle sai<l it took his pains away."

Ilepeatiag thus his sorrows, Isaac shows
That he, repenting, feels the debt he owe.s,
And from this source alone his every comfort flows.
He takes no joy in office, honours, gain ;
They make him humV>le, nay, thej' give him pain :
" These from my lieart," he cries, " all feeling drove;
They made me cold to nature, dead to love."
He takes no joy in home, but sighing, sees
A son in s jrrow, and a wile at ea.se ;
He takes no joy in oflicc — see him now,
And Burgess Steel has but a passing bow ;
Of one sad train of gloomy thoughts possess'd,
He takes no joy in friends, in food, in rest —
Dark are the enl days, and void ot peace the best.
And thus he lives, if living Ix) to sigh.
And from all comlorts of the world to fly,
Without a hope in life — without a wi.sh to die.



430 crabbe's poems.

TALE XXI.

THE LEARNED BOY.

Like one well studied in a sad oatent,

To please his grandam. Merchant of Venice.

And then the winning schoolboy, with his satchel.
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. As You Like It,

He is a better scholar than I thought he was : he has a good sprag memory.

Merry Wives of Windsor.

One that feeds
On objects, arts, and imitations ;
"Which, out of use, and staled by other men.
Begin his fashion. Julius Casar.

Oh I torture me no more — I will confess. — 2nrf Part Henry ri.

An honest man was Farmer Jones, and true ;

He did by all as all by him should do ;

Grave, cautious, careful, fond of gain was he.

Yet famed for rustic hospitality :

Left with his children in a widow'd state,

The quiet man submitted to his fate ;

Though prudent matrons waited for his call,

With cool forbearance he avoided all ;

Though each jsi-ofess'd a pure maternal joj^,

Bj' kind attention to his feeble boy ;

And though a friendly widow knew no rest,

Whilst neighbour Jones was lonely and distress'd ;

Nay, though the maidens spoke in tender touo

Their hearts' concern to see him left alone,

Jones still persisted in that cheerless life.

As if 'twere sin to take a second wife.

Oh ! 'tis a precious thing, when wives are dead.
To find such numbers who will serve instead ;
And in whatever state a man be thrown,
'Tis that precisely they would wish theii' own ;
Left the depai'ted infants — then their joy
Is to sustain each lovely girl and boj' ;
Whatever calling his, whatever trade,
To that their chief attention has been paid ;
His hajjpy taste in all things they approve,
His friends they honour, and his food they love.
His wish for order, prudence in afl'airs.
And equal temjier (tliank their stars !), are theirs ;
In fact, itseem'd to be a thing decreeil.
And fix'd as fate, that marriage must succeed ;
Yet some, like Jones, with stul)lKirn hearts and hard.
Can hear such claims and show tliem no regard.

Soon as our farmer, like a general, found
By what strong foes he was encompass'd round,
Engage lie dared not, and he coulil not Hy,
But saw his hcjpe in gentle parley lie ;
With looks of kindness then, and trembling heart,



TALE XXI. — THE LEARNED BOY. 401

He met the foe, and art opposed to art.

Now spoke that foe insidious — gentle tones.
And pentle looks, assumed for Farmer Jones :
'■ Three girls," the widow cried, " a lively three
To govern well — indeed it cannot be. "
" Yes," he replied, " it calls for j^aius and care ;
But I must bear it." — " Sir, you cannot bear ;
Your son is weak, and asks a mother's eye ;"
'• That, my kind friend, a father's may supply."
" Such growing griefs your very soul will tease :"
"To grieve another would not give me ease —
I have a mother," — " She, jjoor ancient soul !
Can she the spirits of the young control ?
Can she thy peace promote, partake thy care,
Procure thy comforts, and thy sorrows share ?
Age is itself impatient, uncontroll'd : "
" But wives like mothers must at length be old."
"Thou hast shrewd servants — they are evils sore ;"
" Yet a shrewd mistress might afflict mo more."
"Wilt thoii not be a weary, wailing man ? "
" Alas ! and I must bear it as I can."

Resisted thus, the widow soon withdrew,
That in his pride the hero might pursue ;
And oft' his wonted guard, \fi some retreat.
Find from a foe prepared entire defeat :
But he was prudent ; for he knew in flight
These Parthian warriors turn again and fight :
He but at freedom, not at glory aim'd.
And only safety by his caution claim' d.

Thus, when a great and powerfid state decrees
Upon a small one, in its love, to .seize —
It vows in kindness, to protect, defend,
And be the fond ally, the faithful friend ;
It therefore wills that humbler state to place
Its hopes of safety in a fond embrace ;
Then must that humbler state its wisdom provo,
By kind rejection of such f)ressing love ;
Must dread such dangerous friendship to commenco,
And stand collected in its own defence.
Our farmer thus the profl'er'd kindness fled.
And shunn'd the love that into bondage led.

The widow failing, fresh besiegers came,
To share the fate of this retiring dame :
And each fores.aw a thousand ills iittcnd
The man that Hed from so discreet a friend ;
And pray'd, kind soul I that no event might make
The harden'd heart of Farmer Jones to ache.

But he still govern'd witli resistless hand.
And where he could not guide he would command :
With steady view, in cour.se direct he steor'd.
And his fair daughters loved him, though they fear'd ;
Each had her school, and as liis wealth was known,
Each hail in time a household other own.

The boy, indeed, was at the grandam's aido



432 CRABBE'S rOEMS.

Humour'd and train'd, her tronljle and ]ier pride :
Companions dear, witli speech and spirits mild.
The childisli widow and the vapourish cliild ;
This nature prompts ; minds uninform'd and weak
In such alhance ease and comfort seek :
Push'd by the levity ol youth aside,
The cares of man, his humour, or his pride.
They feel, in their defenceless state, allied ;
The child is pleased to meet regard from age.
The old are pleased e'en children to engage ;
And all their wisdom, scorn'd l>y jaroud maukiiid,
They love to pour into the ductile mind.
By its own weakness into error led,
And by fund age with prejudices fed.

The father, thankful for the good ho had,
Yet saw with pain a v^'hining, timid lad ;
Whom he instructing led through cultured fields.
To show what man performs, what nature yields :
But Stephen, listless, wander'd Irom the view.
From beasts he fled, for butterflies he flew,
And idly gazed about in search of something new.
The lambs indeed he loved, and wish'd to play
With things so mild, so hannless, and so gay ;
Best pleased the weakest of the Hock to see.
With vv'hom he felt a sickly sympath^^

IMeantimcthe dame was anxious, day and night.
To guide the notions of her babe aright.
And on the favourite mind to throw her glimmering light ;
Her Bible stories she itnpress'd betimes,
And fill'd his head with hymns and holy rhymes ;
On powers unseen, the good and ill, she dwelt,
And the poor boy mysterious terrors felt;
Prom frightful dreams he waking sobb'd in dread,
Till the good lady came to guard his bed.

The father wish'd such errors to correct,
But let them pass in duty and respect :
But more it grieved his worthy mind to see
That Stephen never would a farmer be :
In vain he tried the shiftless la<l to guide,
And yet 'twas time that something should bo tried:
He at the village school jjerchance might gain
All that such mind could gather and retain ;
Yet the good dame affirm'd her favourite child
Was apt and studious, though sedate and mild ;
" That he on many a learned point could siicak,
And that his body, not liis mind, was weak."

The father doul)ted — but to sv'hool was scut
The timid Stephen, weeping as ho wont :
There the rude lads coinpeli'd the child to fight.
And sent him bleeding to his liome at night ;
At this the graiidaui more indulgent grew.
And bade her darling "shun the beastly crew,
Whom Satan ruled, and who were sure to lie
Howling in torments, when they came to die."



TAT.E XXI.— THE LEARNED EOT. 435

This was such comfort, tliat in high disdain
He told their fate, and felt their blows again :
Yet if the boy had not a hero's heart,
Within the school he play'd a better part ;
He wrote a clean fine hand, and at his slate
With more success than many a hero sato ;
He thought not much indeed — l)ut what depends
On pains and care was at his finjrers' ends.

This had his father's praise, who now espied
A spark of merit, with a blaze of pride ;
And though a farmer he would never make.
He might a pen with some advantage take ;
And as a clerk that instrument employ.
So well adapted to a timid boj'.

A London cousin soon a place obtain'd.
Easy but humble — little could be gain'd :
The time arrived when youth and age must part.
Tears in each eye, and sorrow in each heart ;
The careful father bade his son attend
To all his duties and obey his friend ;
To keep his church, and "there behave aright.
As one existing in his Maker's sight.
Till acts to habits led, and duty to delight :
" Then try, my boy, as quickly as you can,
T' assume the looks and spirit of a man ;
I say, be honest, faithful, civil, ti-ue,
And this you may, and yet have courage too :
Heroic men, their country's boast and pride.
Have fear'd their God, and nothing fear'd beside ;
While others daring, yet imbecile, fly
The power ol man, and that of God defy :
Be manly, then, though mild, for, sure as fate.
Thou art. my Stephen, too effeminate ;
Here, take my purse, and make a worthy u.se
('Tis fairly stock'd) of what it will produce ;
And now my blessing, not as any charm
Or coniuration ; but 'twill do no harm."
Stephen, whose thoughts were wandering up and dovsm.
Now charm'd with promised sights in London town,
Now loth to leave his grandam — lost the force.
The drift and tenor of tliis grave discourse ;
But, in a general way, he understood
'Twas good advice, and meant, " My son, be good ;"
And Stephen knew that all such precepts mean
That lads should read their Bible, and bo clean.

The good old buly, though in some distress,
Begg'd her dc^ar Stephen would his grief suppress :
"Nay, dry those eyes, my cliild — and, first of all,
Hold fast thy faith, whatever may befall :
Hear the l)cst preacher, and preserve the text
For meditation till you hear the next ;
Within your BiV^lo night and morning look —
There is your duty, read no other book ;
Be not in crowds, in broils, in riots seen,
2 F



4S4 crabbe's poems.

And keep your conscience and 3-our linen clean :
Be you a Joseph, and the time may be
When kings and rulers will be ruled by thee."

"Nay," said the father " Hush, my son !" replied

The dame, " the Scriptures must not be denied."

The lad, still weeping, heard the wheels approach.
And took his place within the evening coach.
With heart quite rent asunder : on one side
Was love, and grief, and fear, for scenes untried ;
Wild beasts and waxwork fill'd the happier part
Of Stephen's varying and divided heart :
This he betray'd by sighs and questions strange.
Of famous shows, the Tower, and the Exchange.

Soon at his desk was placed the curious boy,
Demure and silent at his new employ ;
Yet as he could he much attention paid
To all around him, cautious and afraid ;
On older clerks his eager eyes were fix'd,
But Stephen never in their council mix'd :
Much their contempt he fear'd, for if like them,
He felt assured ho should himself contemn ;
" Oh ! they were all so eloquent, so free,
No ! he was nothing — nothing could he be :
Q'hey dress so smartly, and so boldly look,
And talk as if they read it from a book ;
But I," said Stejihen, " will forbear to speak,
And they will think nie prudent and not weak.
They talk, the instant they have dropp'd tlie pen,
Of singing women and of acting men :
Of plays and places where at night they walk
Beneath the lamps, and with the ladies talk ;
While other ladies for their pleasure sing, —
Oh ! 'tis a glorious and a happy thing :
They would despise me, did they understand
I dare not look upon a scene so grand ;
Or see the j'lays when critics rise and roar.
And hiss and groan, and cry — Encore ! encore !
'J'here's one among them looks a little kind ;
If more encouraged, 1 would ope my mind."

Alas ! poor Stephen, hai)pier had he kept
His purjwse secret, while his envy slept 1
Virtue perhaps had conquer'd, or his shamo
At least jjrescrved him simple as he came.
A year elapsed before this clcik began
To treat the rustic something like a man ;
He then in trifling points the youth advised,
Talk'd of his coat, and had it modernized ;
Or with the lad a Sundaj- walk would take,
And kindly strive his passions to awake ;
Meanwhile explaining all they hoard and saw,
Till Stephen stood in wonderment and awe ;
To a neat garden, near the town they stray'd,
Where the lad felt delighted and airaid ;
There all he saw was smart, and tine, and fair —



TALE XXI. — THE LEARNED BOY. i?>5

He could but marvel how lie ventured there :
Soon lie observed, witli terror and alarm,
His friend enlock d within a lady's ami,
And freely talking—" But it is," said he,
" A near relation, and that makes him free ;"
And much amazed was Stephen when he knew
This was the first and only interview ;
Nay, had that lovely arm by him been seized,
The lovely owner had been highly pleased.
" Alas ! " he sigh'd, " I never can contrive
At such bold, blessed freedoms to arrive ;
Never shall I such hajip}' courage boast, —
I dare as soon encounter with a ghost."

Now to a play the friendly couple went,
But the boy murmur'd at the money sjaent ;
" He loved," he said, " to buy, but not to spend—
They only talk awhile, and there's an end."

"Come, you shall piu'chase books," the friend replied ;
" You are bewilder'd, and you want a guide ;
To me refer the choice, and you shall find
The light break in upon your stagnant mind !"

The cooler clerks exclaim 'd, ' ' In vain your art
T' improve a cuV> without a head or heart ;
llusties, though coarse, and savages, though wild,
Our cares may render liberal and mild :
But what, my friend, can flow from all these pains?
There is no dealing with a lack of brains."

" True I am hopeless to behold him man,
But let me make the booby what I can :
Though the rude stone no polish will display,
Yet you may strij) the nigged coat avi'ay."

Stephen beheld his books — " I love to know
How money goes — now here is that to show :
And now," he cried, " I shall bo pleased to get
Beyond the Bible — there I puzzle yet."

He spoke abash'd — " Nay, nay !" the friend replied,
" You need not lay the good old book aside ;
Antique and curious, I myself indeed
Read it at times, but as a man should read ;
A fine old work it is, and I protest
I hate to hear it treated as a jest :
The book has wisdom in it, if you look
Wisel}' upon it, as another book :
For superstition (as our priests of sin
Are pleased to tell us) makes us blind within ;
on this hereafter — we will now select
Some works to please you, others to direct;
Tales and romances shall your fancy feed,
And reasonora form your morals and your creed."

The hooks were viow'd, the price was fairly paid,
And Stephen read undaunted, undismay'd :
But not till first ho paper'd all the row,
And placeil in order to enjoy the show :
Next lotter'd all the backs with caro and speed,
2 ta



■136 CllABBE'S rOE.MS.

Set tbem in ranks, and then began to read.

The love of order — I the thing receive
From reverend men, and I in pai-t believe —
Shows a clear mind and clean, and whoso needs
This love, but seldom iii the world succeeds ;
And }-et with this some other love must be.
Ere I can fully to the fact agree ;
Valour and study may by order gain.
By order sovereigns hold more steady reign ;
Through all the tribes of nature order runs,



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