George Crabbe.

The poetical works of George Crabbe online

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They deem'd him hanging, and in time forgot, —

Yet miss'd him long, as each throughout the clan

Found "he had better spared a better man."

Now Richard's talents for the world were fit, —
He'd no small cunning, and had some small wit ;
Had that calm look which seem'd to all assent,
And that complacent speech which nothing meant :
He'd but one care, and that he strove to hide —
How best for Richard Monday to provide.
Steel, through opposing plates, the magnet draws.
And steely atoms culls irom dust and straws ;
And thus our hero, to his interest true.
Gold through all bars and from each trifle drew ;
But still more surely round the world to go,
This fortune's child had neither friend nor foe.

Long lost to us, at last our man we trace, —
" Sir Richard Monday died at Monday Place :"
His lady's worth, his daughter's, we peruse.
And find his grandsons all as rich as Jews :
He gave reforming charities a sum.
And bought the blessings of the blind and dumb ;
Bequcath'd to missions mono)' from the stocks,
And Bibles issued from his private box ;
But to his native j)lace severely just.
He left a pittance bound in rigid trust ; —
Two paltry pounds on every quarter's day
(At church [)roduced) for forty loaves should pay ;
A stinted gift that to the parish shows
He kept in mind their bounty and their blows !

To farmers three, the year has given a son.
Finch on the Moor, and French., and MiddUlon.
Twice in this year a female OiUs I see,
A Spalding once, and once a Ikirnahy : —
A humble man is /le, and when they meet,
Our farmers find him on a distant seat ;

28 ckabbe's poems.

There for their wit he serves a constant theme, —

" They praise his dairy, they extol his team,

They ask the price of each unrivall'd steed,

And whence his sheep, that admirable breed.

His thriving arts they beg he would explain,

And where he puts the money he must gain.

They have their daughters, but they fear their friend

Would think his sons too much would condescend ;—

They have their sons who would their fortunes try.

But fear his daughters will their suit deny."

So runs the joke, while James, with sigh profound,

And face of care, looks moveless on the ground ;

His cares, his sighs, provoke the insult more.

And point the jest — for Barnaby is poor.

Last in my list, five untaught lads appear ;
Their father dead, compassion sent them here, — •
For still that rustic iutidel denied
To have their names with solemn rite applied :
His, a lone house, by Deadman's Dyke-way stood ;
And his a nightly haunt, in Lonely-wood :
Each village inn has heard the ruffian boast
That he believed "in neither God nor ghost ;
That when the sod upon the sinner press' d.
He, like the saint, had everlasting rest ;
That never priest believed his doctrines true.
But would, for profit, own himself a Jew,
Or worship wood and stone, as honest heathen do ;
That fools alone on future worlds rely.
And all who die for fixith deserve to die."

These maxims, — part th' attorney's clerk profess' d,
His own transcendent genius found the rest.
Our pious matrons heard, and miich amazed,
Gazed on the man, and trembled as they gazed ;
And now his face explored, and now his feet,
Man's dreaded foe in this bad man to meet :
But him our drunkards as their champion raised,
Their bishop call'd, and as their hero praised :
Though most, when sober, and the rest when sick.
Had little qtiestion whence his bishoiM'ic.

But he, triumphant spirit ! all things dared ;
He poach'd the wood, and on the warren snared ;
'Twas his, at cards, each novice to ti-opan,
And call the wants ol rogues "the rights of man ;"
Wild as the winds he let his offspring rove.
And deem'd the m.arriago bond the bane of love.

What age and sickness, for a man so bold.
Had done, we know not ; — none behold him old :
By night, as business urged, he sought the wood ;
The ditch was deep, — the rain had caused a flood, —
The foot-bridge fail'd,— he plunged beneath the deep.
And slept, if truth were his, th' eternal sleep.

These have we named ; on life's rough sea they sail,
With many a prosperous, many an advert-o gale !
Where passion soon, like powerful winds, will rage.


And prudence, wearied, with their strength engage :

Then each, in aid, shall some companion ask,

For help or comfort in the tedious task ;

And what that help — what joys from union flow,

What good or ill, we next prepare to show ;

And row, meantime, our weary bark to shore,

As Spenser his — but not with Spenser's oar.*



Previous Consideration necessary : yet not too long Delay— Imprudent Marriage of old
Kirk and liis Servant— Comparison between an ancient and youtliliil Partner to a young
Man— Prudence of Donald the Gardener— Parish Wcdiling : the coiopellcd Bridegroom :
Day of Marriage, how si .ent— Relation of the AccompUbhments of Phcebe Dawson, a rustic
Beauty • her Lover : his Courtship : their Marriage— Misery of Precipitation- The
wealthy Couple : Et-luctance in the Husband : why f- Unusually fair Siguatiires in the
Register : the common Kind—Seduction of Lucy Collins by Footman Daniel : her rustic
Lover • her lletum to him— An ancient Couple : Comparisons on the Occasion— More
i.leasant View of Village Matrimony : Farmers celebrating the Day of Marriage : their
■VV-ives- Reuben and Rachel, a happy Pair : an example of prudent Dehiy- Reflections
on their State who were not so prudent, and its Improvement towards tlie Termiiiatmli
of Life : an old Man so circumstanced- Attempt to seduce a Village Beauty : Persuasiou
and Reply : the Event.

Disposed to wed, e'en while you hasten, stay ;
There's great advantage in a small delay :
Thus Ovid sang, and much the wise approve
This prudent maxim of the priest of Love ;
If poor, delay for future want prepares,
And eases humVjle life of half its cares :
If rich, delay shall brace the thoughtful mind,
T' endure the ills that e'en the happiest find :
Delay shall knowledge yield on either part.
And show the value of the vanquish'd heart ;
The humours, passions, merits, failings prove.
And gently raise the veil that's worn by Love ;
Love, that impatient guide ! — too proud to think
Of vulgar wants, of clothing, meat, and drink,
Urges our amorous swains their joys to seize.
And then, at rags and hunger frightcn'd, flees :
Yet not too long in cold debate remain ;
Till age refrain not— but if old, refrain.

By no such rule would Gaftor Kirk be tried ;
First in the year he led a blooming bride,
And stood a wither'd elder at her side.
Oh ! Nathan ! Nathan ! at thy years trepann'd,
To take a v/anton harlot by the hand !
Thou, who wert used so tartly to exi)ress
Thy sense of matrimonial hajipincss.
Till every youth, whose banns at church were read,

• All'isioua of this kind are to bo found in the " FaLrj- Queen." See tho end of the I'lrst
Duuk, and other places.

80 ceabbe's poems.

Strove not to meet, or meeting, hung his head ;
And every lass forbore at thee to look,
A sly old fish, too cunning for the hook ;
And now at sixty, that pert dame to see
Of all thy savings mistress, and of thee ;
Now will the lads, rememb'ring insults past.
Cry, " What, the wise one in the trap at last ! "

Fie ! Nathan ! fie ! to let an artful jade
The close recesses of thine heart invade ;
"What grievous pangs, what suffering she'll impart !
And fill with anguish that rebellious heart ;
For thou wilt strive incessantly, in vain.
By threatening speech thy freedom to regain :
But she for conquest married, nor will prove
A dupe to thee, thine anger or thy love ;
Clamorous her tongue will be : — of either sex.
She'll gather friends around thee and perplex
Thy doubtful soul ; — thy money she will waste
In the vain ramblings of a vulgar taste ;
And will be happy to exert her power.
In every eye, in thine, at every hour.

Then wilt thou bluster — " No ! I will not rest,
And see consumed each shilling of my chest : "
Thou wilt be valiant — " When thy cousins call,
I will abuse and shut my door on all :"
Thou wilt be cruel ! — " What the law allows.
That be thy portion, my ungrateful spouse !
Nor other shillings shalt thou then receive ;
And when I die — What ! may I this believe?
Are these true tender tears ? and does my Kitty grieve i
Ah ! crafty vixen, thine old man has fears ;
But weep no more ! I'm melted by thy tears :
Spare but my money ; thou shalt rule me still,
And see thy cousins : — there ! I burn the will. "

Thus, with example sad, our year began,
A wanton vixen and a weary man ;
" But had this tale in other guise been told,"
Young let the lover be, the lady old,
And that disparity of years shall prove
No bane of peace, although some l)ar to love :
'Tis not the worst, our nuptial ties among.
That joins the ancient bride and bridegroom young ; —
Young wives, like changing winds, their power display
By shitting points antl varying day by day ;
Now zep'nyrs mild, now whirlwinds in their force,
They sometimes speed, but oftin thwart our course
And much experienced should that pilot be
Who sails with them on life's tompcstucms se;\.
Btit like a trade-wind is the ancicTit dame,
Mild to your wish and every day the same ;
Steady as time, no sudden sijualls you tear,
But set full sail and with assurance steer ;
Till every danger in your way be passVl,
And then she gently, mildly breathes her last


Rich you arrive in port, awhile remain,

And for a second venture sail again.

For this, blithe Donald southwaid made his way.

And left the lasses on the banks of Tay ;

Him to a neighbouring garden fortune sent.

Whom we beheld, aspiringly content :

Patient and mild he sought the dame to please,

Who ruled the kitchen and who bore the keys.

Fair Lucy first, the laundry's grace and pride,_

With smiles and gracious looks, her fortune tried ;

But all in vain she praised his " pawky eyue,"

Where never fondness was for Lucy seen :

Him the mild Susan, boast of dairies, loved,

And found him civil, cautious, and unmoved :

From many a h-agrant simple, Catherine's skill

Drew oil and essence fi-om tlie boiling still ;

But not her warmth, nor all her winning ways,

From his cool phlegm could Donald's spirit raise :

Of beauty heedless, with the merry mute.

To Mistress Dobson he preferr'd his suit ;

There proved his service, there address'd his vows,

And saw her mistress, — friend, — protectress, — spouse ;

A butler now, he thanks his powerful bride.

And, like her keys, keeps constant at her side.
Next at our altar stood a luckless pair,

Brought by strong passions and a warrant there ;

By long rent cloak, hung loosely, strove the bride.

From every eye, what all perceived, to hide,

While the boy-bridegroom, shuffling in his pace.

Now hid awhile and then exposed his face ;

As shame alternately with anger strove,

The brain confused with muddy ale, to move :

In haste and stammering he perform'd his part.

And look'd the rage that rankled in his heart

(So will each lover inly curse his fate.

Too soon made happy and made wise too late) :

I saw his features take a savage gloom.

And deeply threaten for the days to come.

Low spake the lass, and lisp'd and minced the while,

Look'd on the lad, and faintly tried to smile ;

With soften'd speech and humbled tone she strove

To stir the embers of departed love :

While he, a tyrant, frowning walk'd before,

Felt the poor purse, and sought the public door,

She sadly following, in submission went.

And saw the final shilling loully spent ;

Then to her father's hut the pair withdrew,

And bade to love and comfort long adieu 1

Ah ! fly temptation, youth, refrain ! refrain !
I preach for ever ; but I preach in vain !
Two summers since, I saw at Lammas fair
The sweetest flower that ever blossom'd there,
When Phuibe Dawson gaily cross'd the g^een,
In haate to see, and happy to be seen :


Her air, her manners, all who saw admired ;

Courteous though coy, and gentle though retired ;

The joj' of youth and health her eyes display'd,

And ease of heart her every look convey'd ;

A native skill her simple robes express'd,

As with untutor'd elegance she dress'd ;

The lads around admired so fair a sight.

And Phcebe felt, and felt she gave, delight.

Admirers soon of every age she gain'd.

Her beauty won them and her worth retain'd ;

Envy itself could no contempt display,

They wish'd her well, whom yet they wish'd away.

Correct in thought, she judged a servant's place

Preserved a rustic beaut}' Irom disgrace ;

But yet on Sunday eve, in freedom's hour,

V/ith secret joy she felt that beauty's power,

When some proud bliss upon the heart would steal.

That, poor or rich, a beauty still must feel.

At length the youth ordain'd to move her breast.
Before the swains with bolder spirit press'd ;
With looks less timid made his passion known.
And pleased by manners most tuilike her own ;
Loud though in love, and confident though young ;
Fierce in his air, and voluble of tongue ;
By trade a tailor, though, in scorn of trade,
He served the Squire, and brush'd the coat he made.
Yet now, would Plioibe her consent afford.
Her slave alone, again he'd mount the board ;
With her should years of growing love be spent.
And growing wealth ; — she sigh'd and look'd consent.
Now, through the lane, up hill, and 'cross the green
(Seen by but few, and blushing to be seen —
Dejected, thoughtful, anxious, and afraid),
Led by the lover, walk'd the silent maid ;
Slow through the meadows roved they, many a mile,
Toy'd by each bank, and trifled at each stile ;
Where, as he {tainted every blissful view.
And highly colour'd what he strongly drew,
The pensive damsel, prone to tender fears,
Dinun'd the false prospect with projihetic tears. —
Thus pass'd th' allotted hours, till lingering late.
The lover loitcr'd at the master's gate ;
There he pronounced adieu ! and yet would stay,
Till chidden — .soothed — entreated — forced away ;
Ho would of coldness, though indulged, complain.
And oft retire, and oft return again ;
When, if his teasing vex'd her gentle mind,
The grief assumed compoH'd her to be kind !
For he would proof of plighted kindness crave,
That she resented first, and then forgave ;
And to his grief and penance yielded more
Than his presumption had required before.

Ah ! ily temptation, youth ; refrain ! refrain
Each yielding maid and each presuming swain


Lo ! now with red rent cloak and bonnet black,
And torn green gown loose hanging at her back.
One who an infant in her arms sustains,
And seems in patience striving with her pains ;
Pinch'd are her looks, as one who pines for bread.
Whose cares are growng and whose hopes are fled ;
Pale her parch'd hps, hei- heavy eyes sunk low.
And tears unnoticed from their channels flow ;
Serene her manner, till some sudden pain
Frets the meek soul, and then she's calm again ; —
Her broken pitcher to the pool she takes.
And every step with cautious terror makes ;
For not alone that infant in her arms.
But nearer cause, her anxious soul alarms.
With water burthen'd, then she picks her way,
Slowly and cautious, in the clinging clay ;
Till, ui mid-green, she trusts a place unsound.
And deeply plunges in th' adhesive ground ;

Thence, but with pain, her slender foot she takes.

While hope the mind as strength the frame forsakes :

For when so full the cup of sorrow grows,

Add but a drop, it instantly o'erttows.

And now her path, but not her peace, she gains.

Safe from her task, but shivering with her pains ;

Her home she reaches, open leaves the door,

And placing first her infant on the floor.

She bares her bosom to the wind, and sits.

And sobbing struggles with the rising fits :

In vain they come, she feels th' inflating grief,

That shuts the swelling bosom from relief ;

That speaks in feeble cries a soul distress'd.

Or the sad laugh that cannot be repress'd.

The neighbour matron leaves her wheel and flics

With all the aid her poverty supplies ;

Unfee'd, the calls of nature she obeys.

Not led by profit, nor allured by praise ;

And waiting long, till these contentions cease.

She speaks of comfort, and departs in peace.
Friend of distress ! the mourner feels thy aid ;

She cannot pay thee, but thou wilt be paid.

But who this child of weakness, want, and care ?

'Tis Phoebe Dawson, pride of Lammas Fair ;

Who took her lover for his sparkling eyes,

Expressions warm, and love-inspiring lies :

Compsission first assail'd her gentle heart.

For all his suffering, all his bosom's smart :

" And then his prayers ! they would a savage move,

And win the coldest of the sex to love : " —

But ah ! too soon his looks success declared.

Too late her loss the marriage-rite repair'd ;

The faithless flatterer then his vows forgot,

A captious tyrant or a noisy sot :

If |>rosent, railing, till he saw her pain'd ;

If absent, spending what their labom-s gain'd ;


84 crabbe's poems.

Till that fair form in want and sickness pined,
And hope and comfort fled that gentle mind.
Then fly temptation, youth ; resist, refrain !
Nor let me preach for ever and in vain !
Next came a well-dress'd pair, who left their coach.
And made, in long procession, slow approach ;
For this gay bride had many a female friend,
And youths were there, this favour'd youth t' attend :
Silent, nor wanting due respect, the crowd
Stood humbly round, and gratulation bow'd ;
But not that silent crowd, in wonder fix'd.
Not numerous friends, who praise and envy mix'd.
Nor nymphs attending near to swell the pride
Of one more fair, the ever-smiling bride ;
Nor that gay bride, adorn'd with every grace.
Nor love nor joy triumphant in her face,
Could from the youth's sad signs of sorrow chase :
Why didst thou grieve ? wealth, pleasure, freedom thine ;
Vex'd it thy soul that freedom to resign ?
Spake Scandal truth ? " Thou didst not then intend
So soon to bring thy wooing to an end 1"
Or, was it, as our prating rustics say.
To end as soon, but in a different way ?
'Tis told thy Phillis is a skilful dame,
"Who play'd uninjured with the dangerous flame ;
That, while, like Lovelace, thou thy coat display'd.
And hid the snare for her afiFection laid.
Thee, with her net, she found the means to catch.
And at the amorous see-saw won the match :
Yet others tell, the captain fix'd thy doubt ;
He'd call thee brother, or he'd call thee out : —
But rest the motive — all reti-cat too late,
Joy like thy bride's should on thy brow have sate ;
The deed had then appear'd thine own intent,
A glorious day, by gracious fortune sent.
In each revolving year to be in triumph spent.
Then in few weeks that cloudy brow had been
Without a wonder or a whisper seen ;
And none had been so weak as to inquire
" Why pouts my Lady ?" or " Why frowns the Squire ?"

How fair these names, how much unlike they look
To all the blun-'d subscriptions in my book :
The bridegroom's letters stand in row above.
Tapering yet stout, like pine-trees in his grove ;
While free and fine the bride's appear below,
As light and slender as her jasmines grow.
Jtark now in what confusion stoop or stand
The crooked scrawls of many a clownish hand ;
Now out, now in, they droop, they fall, they rise,
Like raw recruits drawn forth for exercise ;
Ere yet reform'd and modell'd by the drill,
The free-born legs stand striding as they will.

Much have I tried to guide the fist along.
But still the blunderers placed their blottings wrong :


Behold these marks uncouth ! how strange that men

Who guide the plough should fail to guide the pen ;

For half a mile the furrows even lie ;

For half an inch the letters stand awry ;—

Our peasants, strong and sturdy in the field,

Cannot these ai-ms of idle students wield :

Like them, in feudal days, their valiant lords

Resign'd the pen and gi-asp'd their conqu'ring swords ;

They to robed clerks and poor dependent men

Left the light duties of the peaceful pen ;

Nor to their ladies wrote, but sought to prove,

By deeds of death, their hearts were fiU'd with love.

But yet, small arts have charms for female eyes ;
Our rustic nymphs the beau and scholar prize ;
Unletter'd swains and ploughmen coarse they slight,
For those who dress, and amorous scrolls indite.

For Lucy Collins happier days had been.
Had footman Daniel scorn'd his native green.
Or when he came an idle coxcomb down.
Had he his love reserved for lass in town ;
To Stephen Hill she then had pledged her truth,—
A sturdy, sober, kind, unpolish'd youth :
But from the day, that fatal day she spied
The pride of Daniel, Daniel was her pride.
In all concerns was Stephen just and true ;
But coarse his doublet was and patch'd in view,
And felt his stockings were, and blacker than his shoe ;
While Daniel's hnen all was fine and fair, —
His master wore it, and he deign' d to wear
(To wear his livery some respect might prove ;
To wear his linen must be sign of love ) :
Blue was his coat, unsoil'd by spot or stain ;
His hose were silk, his shoes ot Spanish grain ;
A silver knot his breadth of shoulder bore ;
A diamond buckle blazed his breast before —
Diamond ho swore it was ! and show'd it as he swore ;
Rings on his fingers shone ; his milk-white hand
Could pick-tooth case and box for snuff command :
And thus, with clouded cane, a fop complete.
He stalk 'd, the jest and glory of the street.
Join'd with these powers, he could so sweetly sing,
Talk with such toss, and saunter with such swing ;
Laugh with such glee, and trillc with such art.
That Lucy's promise fail'd to shield her heart,

Stephen, meantime, to ease his amorous cares,
Fix'd his full mind upon his farm's affairs ;
Two pigs, a cow, and wethers half a score.
Increased his stock, and still he look'd for more.
He for his acres few so duly paid,
That yet more acres to his lot were laid :
Till our chaste nymphs no longer felt disdain,
And pnident matrons prnised the frugal swain ;
Who thriving well through many a fruitful year,
Now clothed himself anew, and acted overseer.
U 2


Just then poor Lucy, from her friend in town
Fled in pure fear, and came a beggar down ;
Trembling, at Stephen's door she knock'd for bread,
Was chidden first, next pitied, and then fed ;
Then sat at Stephen's board, then shared in Stephen's bed ;
All hope of marriage lost in her disgrace,
He mourns a flame revived, and she a love of lace.

Now to be wed a well-match'd couple came ;
Twice had old Lodge been tied, and twice the dame ;
Tottering they came and toying (odious scene !)
And fond and simple, as they'd always been.
Children from wedlock we by laws restrain ;
Why not prevent them when they're such again ?
Why not forbid the doting souls to prove
Th' indecent fondling of preposterous love ?
In spite of prudence, uncontroll'd by shame,
The amorous senior woos the toothless dame.
Relating idly, at the closing eve.
The youthful follies he disdains to leave ;
Till j'outhful follies wake a transient fire,
When arm in arm they totter and retire.

So a fond pair of solemn bii'ds all day
Blink in their seat and doze the hours away ;
Tlien by the moon awaken'd, forth they move.
And fright the songsters with their cheerless love ;
So two sere trees, dry, stunted, and unsound,
Each other catch, when dropping to the ground ;
Entwine their wither'd arms 'gainst wind and weather,
And shake their leafless heads and drop together :
So two eold limbs, touch'd by Galvani's wire,
Move with new life, and feel awaken'd fire ;
Quivering awhile, their flaccid forms remain.
Then turn to cold torpidity again.

"But ever frowns your Hymen ? man and maid
Are all repenting, suffering, or botray'd 1 "
Forbid it. Love ! we have our couples here
Who hail the day in each revolving year :
Tiiese are with us as in the world around ;
Tliey are not frequent, but they may be found.

Our farmers too, what though they fail to prove.
In Hymen's bonds, the tonderest slaves of lovo
(Nor, like those pairs whom sentiment unites.
Feel they the fervour of the mind's delights) ;
Yet coarsely kind and comfortably gay.
They heap the board and hail the happy day :
And though the bride, now freed from school, admits.
Of pride implanted there, some transient fits ;
Yet soon she casts her girlish flights aside,
And in substantial blessings rests her pride.
No more she moves in measured steps ; no more
Rims, with bewildcr'd ear, her music o'or ;

Online LibraryGeorge CrabbeThe poetical works of George Crabbe → online text (page 5 of 49)