George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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The madness of the poorest mind ?

PUYSICIAN.

No ! for the more he swell'd with pride,
The more he felt misfortune's blow ;

Disgrace and grid he could not hide,
And poverty hud laid him low :

Thus shame and sorrow working slov.-,
At length this humble spirit gave ;



THE HALL OF JUSTICE. 459

Madness on these began to grow,
And bound him to his fiends a slave.

Though the wild thoughts had touch'd his brain.

Then was be free : — so, forth he ran ;
To soothe or threat, aUke were vain :

He spake of fiends ; look'd wild and wan ;
Year after year, the hurried man

Obey'd those fiends from place to place ;
Till his religious change began

To form a frenzied child of grace.

For, as the fury lost its strength.

The mind reposed : by slow degrees
Came lingering hope, and brought at length.

To the tormented spirit, ease ;
This slave of sin, whom fiends could seize,

Felt or believed their power had end : —
"'Tis faith," he cried, " my bosom frees.

And now my Saviour is my friend."

But, ah ! though time can yield relief.

And soften woes it cannot cure ;
Would we not suffer pain and grief,

To have our reason sound and sure?
Then let us keep our bosoms pure.

Our fancy's favourite flights suppress ;
Prepare the body to endure.

And bend the mind to meet distress ;
And then His guardian care imislore,
Whom demons di-ead and men adore.



THE HALL OF JUSTICE.

gl ^ocm, lit STfeo ^arts.



PART I.

MAGISTRATE, VAGRANT, CONSTABLE, ETC.
VAGRANT.

TaKK, take away thy barbarous hand.
And let me to thy master speak ;

Remit awhile the harsh command,
And hear me, or my heart will break.

MACISTItATK.

Fond wretch ! and what canst thou relate,
But deeds of sorrow, shame, and sin ?

Thy crime is proved, tiiou know'st thy fato ;
But come, thy tale ! — begin, begin !



4o0 CRABBE'S POEMS.

VAGRANT.

My crime ! — This sick'ning child to feed,_
I seized the food, your witness saw ;

I knew your laws forbade the deed,
But yielded to a stronger law.

Know'st thou, to Nature's great command
All human laws are frad and weak ?

Nay ! frown not — stay his eager hand,
And hear me, or my heart will break.

In this th' adopted babe I hold

With anxious fondness to my breast,

My heart's sole comfort I behold,

More dear than life when life was blest ;

I saw her pining, fainting, cold,
I begg'd — but vain was my request.

I saw the tempting food, and seized —
My infant suflerer found relief ;

And in the pilfor'd treasure pleased,

Smiled on my guilt, and hush'd my grief.

But I have griefs of other kind,
Troubles and sorrows more se\erc :

Give me to ease my tortured mind,
Lend to ray woes a patient ear,

And let me— if I may not find
A friend Lo help — find one to hear.

Yet nameless let me plead — my name
Would only wake the cry of scorn ;

A child of shi, conceived in shame,
Brought forth in woe, to misery born,

My mother dead, my father lost;

I wander'd with a vagrant crew ;
A common care, a common cost ;

Their sorrows and their sins I knew ;
With them, by want on error forced.

Like them, I base and guilty grew.

Few arc my j'cars, not so my ci-imes ;

The age which these sad looks declare,
Is Sorrow's work, it is not Time's,

And I am old in shame and care.

Taught to believe the world a place
Where every stranger was a foe,

Train'd in the aris tliat mark our race.
To what new people could I go ?

Could I a better life embrace.

Or live as virtue dictates'^ No ! —

So through the land I wandering went.
And little found of grief or joy ;

But lost my bosom's sweet content
When first I loved — the Gipsy-boy,



THE HALL OF JUSTICE. IGl

A sturdy youth he was and tall,

His looks would all his soul declare ;
Ilis piercing eyes were deep and small.

And strongly curl'd his raven hair.

Yes, Aaron had each manly charm,

All in the Maj" of youthful pride,
He scarcely feur'd his lather's arm,

And every other arm defied. —

Oft, when the}' grew in anger warm,

(Whom will not love and power divide ".)

I rose, their wrathful souls to calm.
Not yet in sinful combat tried.

His father was our party's chief.

And dark and dreadful was his look ;
His presence fill'd my heart with grief.

Although to me ho kmdly spoke.

With Aaron I delighted went,

His favour was my bliss and pride ;
In growing hope our days we spent,

Love growing charms in cither spied ;
It saw them all which Nature lent.

It lent them all which she denied.

Could I the father's kindness prize,

Or grateful looks on him bestow.
Whom I beheld in wrath arise.

When Aaron sunk beneath his blow ? —

He drove him down with wicked hand, —

It was a dreadful sight to see ;
Then vexM him, till he left the land.

And told his cruel love to me ;
The clan were all at his command.

Whatever his command might be.

The night was dark, the lanes were deep,

And one by one they took their way ;
lie bade me lay me down and sleep, —

I only wept and wish'd for day.

Accursed be the love he bore,

Accursed was the force he used,
So let him of his God implore

Fot mercy, and be so refused !

You frown again — to show my vrrong

Can I in geT)tle langiiage speak ?
My woos are deeji, mj' woids are strong, —

And hear me, or my heart will break.

MAGISTRATE,
I hear thy worils, I feel thy ]in'm ;

Forbear awhile to s]ioak thy woes ;
rteccivo our aiil, atnl then again

Tlio story of thy life disclose.



432 CRABBE'S POEMS.

For, though seduced and led astra}',

Thou'st travcll'd far aud wander'd long ;

Thy God hath seen thee all the way,
And all the turns that led thee wrong.



PART II.

MAGISTRATE.

Come, now again thy woes impart.
Tell all thy sorrows, all thy sin ;

We cannot heal the throbbing- heart
Till we discern the wounds within.

Compunction weeps our guilt away,
The sinner's safety is his pain ;

Such pangs for our offences pay,
And these severer griefs are gain.

VAGRANT.

The son came back — he found ns wed,
Then dreadful was the oath he swore; —

His waj' through Blackburn Forest led, —
His father we beheld no more.

Of all our daring- clan not one

Would on the doubtful subject dwell ;

For all esteem'd the injiired son,

And fear'd the tale which he could tell.

But I had mightier cause for fear,

For slow and mournful round my bed

I saw a dreadful ft)rm appear, —
It came when I and Aaron wed.

Yes ! we were wed, I know my crime, —
We slept beneath the elniin tree ;

But I was grieving- all the time.

And Aaron frown'd my tears to see.

For he not yet had felt the pain
That rankles in a wotmded breast ;

Ho waked to sin, then slept again.
Forsook his God, yet took his rest. —

But I was forced to feign delight.

And joy in mirth ami music sought, —

And meiii'ry now recalls the night,

With sucli s\irjiiiso and hori-or fraught.

That reason felt a moment's llight.
And left a mind to madness wrought.

When waking, on my heaving breast
I felt a hand as cold as death :

A sudden fear my voice sui)iiress'd,
A chilling terror stopp'd my breath.



THE HALL OF JUSTICE. 463

I seem'd — no words can utter how !

For there mv father-husband stood, —
And thus he said : " Will God allow.

The great avenger just and good,
A wife to break her marriage vow ?

A son to shedfhis father's blood ? "

I trembled at the dismal sounds.

But vainly strove a word to say ;
So, pointing to his bleeding wounds.

The threat'niug spectre stalk'd away.*

I brought a lovely daughter forth.

His lather's child, in Aaron's bed ;
He took her from me in his wrath,

" Where is my child ? "—"Thy child is dead."

'Twas false :— we wander'd far and wide.
Through town and country, field and fen,

Till Aaron, fighting, fell and died,
And I became a wife again.

I then was young : — my husband sold

My fancied charms for wicked price ;
He gave me oft for sinful gold.

The slave, but not the friend of vice :
Behold me. Heaven ! my pains behold.

And let them for my sins suffice.

The wretch who lent me thus for gain.
Despised me when my youth was fled ;

Then came disease, and brought me pain : —
Come, death, and bear me to the dead !

For tliough I grieve, my gi-ief is vain.
And fruitless all the tears I shed.

True, I was not to virtue train'd.

Yet well I knew my deeds were ill ;
By each offence my heart was pain'd

I wept, but I oft'ended still ;
Mj' better thoughts my life disdain 'd.

But yet the viler led my will.

My husband died, and now no more

My smile was sought, or ask'd my hand,

A widow'd vagr.int, vile and poor.
Beneath a vagrant's vile command.

Ceaseless I roved the country round,

To win my bread V)y frau<lful arts.
And long a poor subsistence found,

By spreading nets for simple hearts.

Though iwiir, and abject, and despised,

Their fortiuies to tlio crowd I told ;
I gave tlie young the love thuy ])rizod,

And promised wealth to bless the old.

• The stite of mind hern (lescrllnd, will .-iccotiiit for a visluii of tills iiaturo, wllliout
having rocoursu to any aupcriiatuml ai'puamiico.



4Si crabee's roEMs.

Schemes for the doubtful I devised,
And charms for the forsaken sold.

At length for arts like these confined
In prison with a lawless crew,

I soon perceived a kindred mind,
And there my long-lost daughter knew ;

His father's child, whom Aaron gave
To wander with a distant clan.

The miseries of the world to brave.
And be the slave of vice and man.

She knew mj' name — we met in pain ;

Our parting pangs can I express 1
She sail'd a convict o'er the main,

And left an heir to her distress.

This is that heir to shame and pain,
For whom I only could descry

A world of trouble and disdain :
Yet, could I bear to see her die.

Or stretch hor feeble hands in vain,
And, weeping, beg of me supply ?

No ! though the fate thj' mother know
Was shameful ! shameful though thy i-aco

Have wander'd all a lawless crew.
Outcasts despised in every place ;

Yet as the dark and muddy tide.
When far from its polluted source,

Becomes more pure and purified.
Flows in a clear and happy course ;

In thee, dear infant ! so may end

Our shame, in thee our sorrows cease !

And thy pure course will then extend,
In floods of joy, o'er vales of peace.

Oh ! by the God who loves to spare.

Deny me not the boon I crave ;
Let this loved child your mercy share.

And let me find a peacefiil grave :
JIake her yet spotless soul your care,

And let my sins their jiortion have ;
Ilcr for a better fate prepare,

And punish whom 'twere sin to save !

MAGISTRATE.

Recall the word, renounce the thoui^rht.
Command thy heai-t and bend thy knco.

There is to all a pardon bi-ought,
A ransom rich, assured, and free ;

'Tis full when found, 'tis found if sought.
Oh ! seek it, till 'tis seal'd to thee.

VAGRANT.

But how my pardon shall I know ?



WOMAN I 465



MAGISTRATE.

By feeling dread that 'tis not sent,
By tears for sin that freely flow,

By grief, that all thy tears are spent,
By thoughts on that great debt we owe,

With all the mercy God has lent,
By suffering what thou canst not show.

Yet showing how thine heart is rent,
Till thou canst feel thy bosom glow,

And say, "My Saviour, I repent."



WOMAN !

MR. LEDYARD, AS QUOTED BY MUNGO PARK IN HIS TRAVELS
INTO AFRICA.

'• To a woman 1 never addressed myself in the language of decency and friendship,
without receiving a decent and friendly answer. If I was hungry or thirsty, wet or sick,
they did not hesitate, like men, to perform a generous action : in so free and kind a
manner did they contribute to my relief, that if I was dry, I drank the sweetest draught ;
and if hungry, 1 ate tlie coarsest morsel with a double relish."

Place the white man on Afric's coast,

Whose swarthy sons in blood delight.
Who of their scorn to Europe boast.

And paint their very demons white :
There, while the sterner sex disdains

To soothe the woes thej' cannot feel,
Woman will strive to heal his pains.

And weep for those she cannot heal :
Hers is warm Pity's sacred glow ;

From all her stoi-es she bears a part,
And bids the si)ring of hope reflow,

That languish'd in the fainting heart.

"What though so pale his haggard face,
So sunk and sad his looks," she cries ;
" And far unlike our nobler race,
With crispfed locks and rolling eyes ;
Yet misery marks him of our kind ;

We see him lost, alone, afraid ;
And pangs of body, griefs in mind.
Pronounce him man, and ask our aid.

" Perhaps in some far-distant shore

There are who in these forms delight ;
Whose milky features please them more.
Than ours of jet thus burnish'd bright :
Of such may be his weeping wife.

Such children for their sirn may call,
And if we spare his ebbing life,
Our kindness may preserve them all."
2 H



iQ6 crabbe's roEMS.

Thus her compassion Woman shows :

Beneath the line her acts are these ;
Nor the wide waste of Lapland snows
Can her warm flow of pity freeze : —

' ' From some sad land the stranger comes,

Where joys like ours are never found ;
Let's soothe him in our happy homes,
Where freedom sits, with plenty crown'd.

" 'Tis good the fainting soul to cheer,

To see the famish' d stranger fed ;
To milk for him the mother-deer.
To smoothe for him the furry bed.
The powers above our Lapland bless
With good no other people know ;
T' enlai-ge the joys that we possess.
By feeling those that we bestow I "

Thus in extremes of cold and heat,
Where wanderiiia; man may trace his kind ;

Wherever grief and want retreat,
In Woman they compassion find ;

She makes the female breast her seat.
And dictates mercy to the mind.

Man may the sterner virtues know,

Determined justice, truth severe ;
But female hearts with pity glow.

And woman holds affliction dear ;
For guiltless woes her sorrows flow,

And suffering vice compels her tear ;
'Tis hers to soothe the ills below.

And bid life's fairer views appear :
To woman's gentle kind wo owe

What coTiiforts and delights us here ;
They its gay hojics on youth bestow,

And care they soothe, and age they cheer.



I'OX AND WVMAN, PltlNTKliS, GHKAT tiUKliN SIKKKT, I.nMloS.



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