George Crabbe.

The poetical works of the George Crabbe: with his letters and journals, and his life (Volume 8) online

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It is our belief that, in respectftdli/ inscrihing to
you these Tales, we select the name which, if our
Father had himself superintended their publication,
he looidd have been most ambitious to connect with

We have the honour to be, Sir,

Your grateful and faithful
humble ServantSy



August, 183 ':.

On the \st of Decemher next will he published,






Although, in a letter written shortly before
his death, Mr. Crabbe mentioned the following
pieces as fully prepared for the press ; and to with-
hold from the Public what he had thus described,
could not have been consistent with filial re-
verence ; yet his executors must confess that,
when they saw the first pages of his MS. re-
duced to type, they became very sensible that,
had he himself lived to edit these compositions,
he would have considered it necessary to bestow
on them a good deal more of revision and cor-
rection, before finally submitting them to the
eye of the world. They perceived that his
language had not Iways effected the complete
developement of .lis ideas ; that images were
here and there If ft imperfect — nay, trains of
reflection rather hinted than expressed ; and
that, in many peaces, thoughts in themselves
valuable could not have failed to derive much
additional weight and point, from the last touches
of his own pen.

Under such circumstances, it was a very
great relief to their minds to learn, that several


persons of the liighest eminence in literature had
read these poetical Remains before any part of
them was connnitted to the printer; and that the
verdict of such judges was, on the whole, more
favourable than they themselves had begun to
anticipate : — that, in the opinion of those whose
esteem had formed the highest honour of their
father's life, his fame would not be tarnished by
their compliance with the terms of his literary
bequest ; that, though not so uniformly polished
as some of his previous performances, these
Posthumous Essays would still be found to
preserve, in the main, the same characteristics
on which his reputation had been established ;
much of the same quiet humour and keen ob-
servation ; the same brief and vivid description ;
the same unobtrusive pathos ; the same pre-
vailing reverence for moral truth, and rational
religion, — and, in a word, not a few " things
which the world would not willingly let die."

The following verses are therefore at length
submitted to the Public; not indeed without
deep anxiety, but still with some considerable
hope, that they may be received with a fair
portion of favour now, and allowed to descend
to posterity as not, on the whole, unwortliy of a
place in their Author's collective works.



[" There are, in my recess at home, where they have been long
undisturbed, another series of Stories, — in number and quantity
sufficient for a volume; and as I suppose they are much like
the former in execution, and sufficiently different in eveiits and
characters, they may hereafter, in peaceable times, be worth
something to you ; and the more, because I shall, whatever is
mortal of me, be at rest in the chrnicel of Trov:bridge church ;
for the works of authors departed are generally received with
some favour, partly as they are old acquaiiitances, and in part
because there can be no more of them." — Mr. Crabbe to his
SON George, dated Clifton, October 29. 1831.]

TALE I. SiLFORD Hall ; or. The Happy Day 3

TALE II. The Fajiily of Love - - 35

TALE III. The Equal Marriage - - 77

TALE IV. Rachel - - - 91

TALE V. Villars - - - - 101



TALE VI. The Farewell and Retoen - 121

TALE Vn. The School-Fellow - - 131

TALE VIII. Barnaby; the Shopman - - 137

TALE IX. Jane - - - 147

TALE X. The Ancient Mansion - - 157

TALE XL The Merchant - - 167

TALE XII. The Brother Burgesses - - 175

TALE XIIL The Dean's Lady - - 183

TALE XIV. The Wife and Widow - - 191

TALE XV. Belinda Waters - - 201

TALE XVI. The Dealer and Clerk - - 209

TALE XVII. Danvers and Rayner - - 225

TALE XVIIL The Boat Race - , - - 241

TALE XIX. Master William; or, Lad's Love 255

TALE XX. The Will - - - 267

TALE XXI. The Cousins - - - 279

TALE XXII. Preaching and Practice - - 295

INDEX - - - - 307






B 2




Within a village, many a mile from town,

A place of small resort and no renown ; —

Save that it form'd a way, and gave a name

To SiLFORD Hall, it made no claim to fame ; —

It was the gain of some, the pride of all.

That travellers stopt to ask for Silford Hall.

Small as it was, the place could boast a School,
In which Nathaniel Perkin bore the rule.
Not mark'd for learning deep, or talents rare,
But for his varying tasks and ceaseless care ;
Some forty boys, the sons of thrifty men.
He taught to read, and part to use the pen ;
While, by more studious care, a favourite few
Increased his pride — for if the Scholar knew
Enough for praise, say what the Teacher's due ? -
These to his presence, slates in hand, moved on,
And a grim smile their feats in figures won.

B 3


This Man of Letters woo'd in early life
The Vicar's maiden, whom he made his wife.
She too can read, as by her song she proves —
The song Nathaniel made about their loves :
Five rosy girls, and one fair boy, increased
The Father's care, whose labours seldom ceased.
No day of rest was his. If, now and then,
His boys for play laid by the book and pen.
For Lawyer Slow there was some deed to write.
Or some young farmer's letter to indite.
Or land to measure, or, with legal skill.
To frame some yeoman's widow's peevish will ;
And on the Sabbath, — when his neighbours drest,
To liear their duties, and to take their rest —
Then, when the Vicar's periods ceased to flow.
Was heard Nathaniel, in his seat below.

Such were his labours ; but the time is come
When his son Pete?' clears the hours of gloom,
And brings him aid : though yet a boy, he shares
lu staid Nathaniel's multifarious cares.
A king his father, he, a prince, has rule —
The first of subjects, viceroy of the school :
But though a prince within that realm he reigns,
Hard is the part his duteous soul sustains.
He with his Father, o'er the furrow'd land.
Draws the long chain in his uneasy hand, [plann'd.
And neatly forms at home, what there they rudely
Content, for all his labour, if he gains
Some words of praise, and sixpence for his pains.
Thus many a hungry day the Boy has fared,
And would have ask'd a dinner, had he dared.


When boys are playing, he, for hours of school

Has sums to set, and copy-books to rule ;

When all are met, for some sad dunce afraid,

He, by allowance, lends his timely aid —

Taught at the student's failings to connive,

Yet keep his Father's dignity alive :

For ev'n Nathaniel fears, and might offend.

If too severe, the farmer, now his friend ;

Or her, that farmer's lady, who well knows

Her boy is bright, and needs nor threats nor blows.

This seem'd to Peter hard ; and he was loth,

T' obey and rule, and have the cares of both —

To miss the master's dignity, and yet,

No portion of the school-l)oy's play to get.

To him the Fiend, as once to Launcelot, cried,

" Run from thy wrongs ! " — " Run where ? " his fear

replied :
" Run !" — said the Tempter, " if but hard thy fare,
" Hard is it now — it mai/ be mended there."

But still, though tempted, he refused to part,
And felt the Mother clinging at his heart.
Nor this alone — he, in that weight of care.
Had help, and bore it as a man should bear.
A drop of comfort in his cup was thrown ;
It was his treasure, and it was his own.
His Father's shelves contained a motley store
Of letter'd Avealth ; and this he might explore.
A part his mother in her youth had gain'd,
A part Nathaniel from his club obtain'd,
And part — a well-worn kind — from sire to son


He sought his Mother's hoard, and there he found
Romance in sheets, and poetry unbound ;
Soft Tales of Love, which never damsel read,
But tears of pity stain'd her virgin bed.
There were Jane Shore and Rosamond the Fair,
And humbler heroines frail as these were there;
There was a tale of one forsaken Maid,
Who till her death the Avork of vengeance stay'd ;
Her Lover, then at sea, while round him stood
A dauntless crew, the angry ghost pursued ;
In a small boat, without an oar or sail.
She came to call him, nor would force avail,
Nor prayer ; but, conscience-stricken, down he

And o'er his corse the closing billows slept ;
All vanish'd then ! but of the crew were some,
Wondering whose ghost would on the morrow come.

A learned Book was there, and in it schemes
How to cast Fortunes and interpret Dreams ;
Ballads were there of Lover's bliss or bale,
The Kitchen Story, and the Nursery Tale.
His hungry mind disdain'd not humble food,
And read with relish keen of Robin Hood ;
Of him, all-powerful made by magic gift.
And Giants slain — of mighty Hickerthrift ;
Through Crusoe's Isle delighted had he stray'd,
Nocturnal visits had to witches paid, [afraid.

Gliding through haunted scenes, enraptured and

A loftier shelf with real books was graced,
Bound, or part bound, and ranged in comely taste ;


Books of high mark, the mind's more solid food,
Which some might think the owner understood ;
But Fluxions, Sections, Algebraic lore,
Our Peter left for others to explore,
And quickly turning to a favourite kind.
Found, what rejoiced him at his heart to find.

Sir Walter wrote not then, or He by whom
Such gain and gloi*y to Sir Walter come —
That Fairy-Helper, by whose secret aid.
Such views of life are to the world convey 'd —
As inspiration known in after-times,
The sole assistant in his prose or rhymes.
But there were fictions wild that please the boy,
Which men, too, read, condemn, reject, enjoy —
Arabian Nights, and Persian Tales were there.
One volume each, and both the worse for wear ; ■
There by Quarles' Emblems, Esop's Fables stood,
The coats in tatters, and the cuts in wood.
There, too, " The English History," by the pen
Of Doctor Cooke, and other leai'ned men,
In numbers, sixpence each ; by these was seen,
And highly prized, the Monthly Magazine; —
Not such as now will men of taste engage,
But the cold gleanings of a former age.
Scraps cut from sermons, scenes removed from

With heads of heroes famed in Tyburn's palmy days.

The rest we pass — though Peter pass'd them not,
But here his cares and labours all forgot :

10 SILFORD HALL ; OR, tale I.

Stain'd, torn, and blotted every noble page,

Stood the chief poets of a former age —

And of the present ; not their works complete,

But in such portions as on bulks we meet,

The refuse of the shops, thrown down upon the

There Shakspeare, Spenser, Milton found a place,
With some a nameless, some a shameless race.
Which many a weary walker resting reads,
And, pondering o'er the short relief, proceeds.
While others lingei'ing pay the written sum,
Half loth, but longing for delight to come.

Of the Youth's morals we would something
speak ;
Taught by his Mother Avhat to shun or seek :
She show'd the heavenly way, and in his youth,
Press'd on his yielding mind the Gospel truth.
How weak is man, how much to ill inclined,
And where his help is placed, and how to find.
These words of weight sank deeply in his breast.
And awful Fear and holy Hope imprest.
He shrank from vice, and at the startling view,
As from an adder in his path, withdrew.
All else was cheerful. Peter's easy mind
To the gay scenes of village-life inclined.
The lark that soaring sings his notes of joy,
Was not more lively than th' awaken'd boy.
Yet oft with this a softening sadness dwelt.
While, feeling thus, he marvell'd why he felt.
" I am not sorry," said the Boy, " but still,
" The tear will drop — 1 wonder why it will ! "




His books, his walks, his musing, morn and eve,
Gave such impressions as such minds receive ;
And with his moral and religious views
Wove the wild fancies of an Infant-Muse,
Inspiring thoughts that he could not express,
Obscure sublime ! his secret happiness.
Oft would he strive for words, and oft begin
To frame in verse the views he had within ;
But ever fail'd : for how can words explain
The unform'd ideas of a teeming brain ?

Such was my Hero, whom I would portray
In one exploit — the Hero of a Day.

At six miles' distance from his native town
Stood Silford Hall, a seat of much renown —
Computed miles, such weary ti'avellers ride.
When they in chance wayfaring men confide.
Beauty and grandeur were within ; around.
Lawn, wood, and water ; the delicious ground
Had parks where deer disport, had fields where

game abound.
Fruits of all tastes in spacious gardens grew ;
And flowers of every scent and every hue,
That native in more favoui-'d climes arise.
Are here protected from th' inclement skies.

To this fair place, with mingled pride and
This lad of learning without knowledge came —
Shame for his conscious ignorance — and pride
To this fair seat in this gay style to ride.


The cause that brought hiin was a small account,
His father's due, and he must take the amount.
And sign a stamp'd receipt I this done, he might
Look all around him, and enjoy the sight.

So far to walk was, in his mother's view.
More than her darling Peter ought to do ;
Peter indeed knew more, but he would hide
His better knowledge, for he wish'd to ride ;
So had his father's nag, a beast so small,
That if he fell, he had not far to fall.

His fond and anxious mother in his best,
Her darling child for the occasion drest :
All in his coat of green she clothed her boy.
And stood admiring with a mother's joy :
Large was it made and long, as meant to do
For Sunday-service, when he older grew —
Not brought in daily use in one year's wear or

White was his waistcoat, and what else he wore
Had clothed the lamb or parent ewe before.
In all the mother show'd her care or skill ;
A riband black she tied beneath his frill ;
Gave him his stockings, white as driven snow,
And bad him heed the miry way below ;
On the black varnish of the comely shoe,
Shone the large buckle of a silvery hue.
Boots he had worn, had he such things possest —
But bootless grief ! — he was full proudly drest ;
Full proudly look'd, and light he was of heart,
When thus for Silford Hall prepared to start.


Nathaniel's self with joy the stripling eyed,
And gave a shilling with a father's pride ;
Rules of politeness too Avith pomp he gave,
And show'd the lad how scholars should behave.

Ere yet he left her home, the Mother told —
For she had seen — what things he should be-
There, she related, her young eyes had view'd
Stone figures shaped like naked flesh and blood,
Which, in the hall and up the gallery placed.
Were proofs, they told her, of a noble taste ;
Nor she denied ^ — but, in a public hall,
Her judgment taken, she had clothed them all.
There, too, were station'd, each upon its seat,
Half forms of men, without their hands and feet ;
These and what more w ithin that hall might be
She saw, and oh ! how long'd her son to see I
Yet could he hope to view that noble place,
Who dared not look the porter in the face ?

Forth went the pony, and the rider's knees
Cleaved to her sides — he did not ride with ease ;
One liand a whip, and one a bridle held.
In case the pony falter'd or rebell'd.

The village boys beheld him as he pass'd, '
And looks of envy on the hero cast ;
But he was meek, nor let his pride appear.
Nay, truth to speak, he felt a sense of fear,
Lest the rude beast, unmindful of the rein,
Should take a fancy to turn back again.


He found, and wonder 't is he found, his way,
The orders many that he must obey :
" Now to the right, then left, and now again
" Directly onward, through the winding lane ;
" Then, half way o'er the common, by the mill,
" Turn from the cottage and ascend the hill,
" Then — spare the pony, boy! — as you ascend —
" You see the Hall, and that's your journey's

Yes, he succeeded, not remembering aught
Of this advice, but by his pony taught.
Soon as he doubted he the bridle threw
On the steed's neck, and said — " Remember you !"
For oft the creature had his father borne,
Sound on his way, and safe on his return.
So he succeeded, and the modest youth
Gave praise, where praise had been assign'd by

His business done, — for fortune led his way
To him whose office was such debts to pay,
The farmer-bailiff, but he saw no more
Than a small room, with bare and oaken floor,
A desk with books thereon — he'd seen such things

before ;
" Good day ! " he said, but linger'd as he spoke
" Good day," and gazed about with serious look;
Then slowly moved, and then delay'd awhile.
In dumb dismay which raised a lordly smile
In those who eyed him — then again moved on,
As all might see, unwilling to be gone.



While puzzled thus, and puzzling all about,
Involved, absorb'd, in some bewiklering doubt,
A lady enter'd, Madam Johnson call'd,
Within whose presence stood the lad appall'd.
A learned Lady this, Avho knew the names
Of all the pictures in the golden frames ;
Could every subject, every painter, tell,
And on their merits and their failures dwell ;
And if perchance there was a slight mistake —
These the most knowing on such matters make.


" And what dost mean, my pretty lad ? " she cried,
" Dost stay or go ? " — He first for courage tried,
Then for fit words, — then boldly he replied.
That he •' would give a hundred pounds, if so
He had them, all about that house to go ;
For he had heard that it contain'd such things
As never house could boast, except the king's.

The ruling Lady, smiling, said, " In truth
" Thou shalt behold them all, my pretty youth.
" Tom ! first the creature to the stable lead,
" Let it be fed ; and you, my child, must feed ;
" For three good hours must pass e'er dinner

come," —
" Supper," thought he, " she means, our time at


First was he feasted to his heart's content.
Then, all in rapture, with the Lady went ;
Through rooms immense, and galleries wide and tall,
He walk'd entranced — he breathed in Silford Hall

16 SILFORD HALL ; OR, tale I.

Now could he look on that delightful place,
The glorious dwelling of a princely race ;
His vast delight was mixed with equal awe,
There was such magic in the things he saw.
Oft standing still, with open mouth and eyes,
Turn'd here and there, alarm'd as one who tries
T' escape from something strange, that would before

him rise.
The wall would part, and beings without name
Would come — for such to his adventures came.
Hence undefined and solemn terror press'd
Upon his mind, and all his powers possess'd.
All he had read of magic, every charm.
Were he alone, might come and do him harm :
But his gaze rested on his friendly guide —
" I 'm safe," he thought, " so long as you abide."

In one large room was found a bed of state —
" And can they soundly sleep beneath such weight,
" Where they may figures in the night explore,
" Form'd by the dim light dancing on the floor
" From the far window ; mirrors broad and high
" Doubling each terror to the anxious eye? —
" 'Tis strange," thought Peter, " that such things pro-
" No fear in her ; but there is much in use." [duce

On that reflecting brightness, passing by.
The Boy one instant fix'd his restless eye —
And saw himself: he had before descried
His face in one his mother's store supplied ;
But here he could his whole dimensions view.
From the pale forehead to the jet-black shoe.



Passing he look'd, and looking, grieved to pass
From the fair figure smiling in the glass.
'T was so Narcissus saw the boy advance
In the dear fount, and met th' admiring glance
So loved — But no ! our happier boy admired,
Not the slim form, but what the form attired, —
The riband, shirt, and frill, all pure and clean,
The white ribb'd stockings, and the coat of green.

The Lady now appear 'd to move away —
And this was threat'ning; for he dared not stay,
Lost and alone ; but earnestly he pray'd —
" Oh ! do not leave me — I am not afraid,
" But 't is so lonesome ; I shall never find
" My way alone, no better than the blind."

The Matron kindly to the Boy replied,
" Trust in my promise, I will be thy guide."
Then to the Chapel moved the fi"iendly pair.
And well for Peter that his guide was there !
Dim, silent, solemn was the scene — he felt
The cedar's power, that so vmearthly smelt ;
And then the stain'd, dark, narrow windows threw
Strange, partial beams on pulpit, desk, and pew :
Upon the altar, glorious to behold.
Stood a vast pair of candlesticks in gold !
With candles tall, and large, and firm, and white,
Such as the halls of giant-kings would light.
There was an organ, too, but now unseen ;
A long black curtain served it for a skreen ;
Not so the clock, that both by night and day,
Click'd the short moments as they pass'd away.



" Is this a church ? and does the parson read " —
Said Peter — " here ? — I mean a church indeed." —
" Indeed it is, or as a church is used,"
Was the reply, — and Peter deeply mused,
Not without awe. His sadness to dispel.
They sought the gallery, and then all was well.

Yet enter'd there, although so clear his mind
From every fear substantial and defined.
Yet there remain'd some touch of native fear —
Of something awful to the eye and ear —
A ghostly voice might sound — a ghost itself

There noble Pictures fiU'd his mind with joy —
He gazed and thought, and was no more the

boy ;
And Madam heard him speak, with some surprise.
Of heroes known to him from histories.
He knew the actors in the deeds of old, —
He could the Roman marvels all unfold.
He to his guide a theme for wonder grew.
At once so little and so much he knew —
Little of what was passing every day,
And much of that which long had pass'd away ; —
So like a man, and yet so like a child,
That his good friend stood wond'ring as she smiled.

The Scripture Pieces caused a serious awe,
And he with reverence look'd on all he saw ;
His pious wonder he express'd aloud,
And at the Saviour Form devoutly bow'd.


Portraits he pass'd, admiring ; but with pain
Turn'd from some objects, nor would look again.
He seem'd to think that something wrong was

When crimes were shown he blush'd to look upon.
Not so his guide — " What youth is that?" she cried,
" That handsome stripling at the lady's side ;
" Can you inform me how the youth is named ? "
He answer'd, '''■Joseph;" but he look'd ashamed.
" Well, and what then ? Had you been Joseph, boy !
" Would you have been so peevish and so coy ? "
Our hero answer'd, with a glowing face,
*' His mother told him he should pray for grace."
A transient cloud o'ercast the matron's brow ;

She seem'd disposed to laugh but knew not

how ;
Silent awhile, then placid she appear'd —
" 'T is but a child," she thought, and all was clear'd.

No — laugh she could not ; still, the more she
To hide her thoughts, the more of his she caught.
A hundred times she had these pictures named.
And never felt perplex'd, disturb'd, ashamed ;
Yet now the feelings of a lad so young
Call'd home her thoughts and paralysed her tongue.
She pass'd the offensive pictures silent by,
With one reflecting, self-reproving sigh ;

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