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Пну own there's granted all such place can give, But fne repining,—for 'tis there they live! [see,
"Grandsires are there, who now no more must No more must nurse upon the trembling knee, The lost lov'd daughter's infant progeny! lake death's dread mansion, this allows not place Kor joyful meetings of a kindred race.
"Is not the matron there, to whom the son
'• Widows arc; here, who in their huts were left,
"Who can, when here, the social neighbour Who learn ihe story current in the street t [meet 1 Who lo the long-known intimate impart Kicts they have learn'd, or feelings of the heart ?— They talk, indeed; but who can choose a friend, Or seek companions, at their journey's end ?"—
"What, if no grievous fears their lives annoy,
ТШ the stern hell forbids, or master's sterner call.
These we take to be specimens of Mr. Crabbe's best style ;—but he has great variety; —ami some readers may be better pleased *тЛ his satirical vein—which is both copious and orijriual. The Vicar is an admirable «ketchof what must be very difficult todraw; —e good, easy man, with no character at all. Hie little, humble vanity;—his constant care to offend no otie;—his mawkish and feeble f—indolent good nature, and love of and trilling—are all very exactly, '¿'•и very pleasingly delineated.
Tothe character of Blaney, we have already objected, as offensive, from its extreme and minutent depravity. The first part of his ti:.4ory, however, is sketched with a masterly kor»!: and affords a good specimen of that wntentious and antithetical manner by which Mr. Crabbe sometimes reminds us of the style •öd versification of Pope.
"Blanry. a wealthy hrir at twenty-one, -V !4£riiv-five was ruin'd and undone: ТЬме years with grievous crimes we need not load, ne found his ruin in the common road; ''iTTi'fi ujihotit skill, without inquiry bought, !•*'>• vsi'hotit love, and borrow'd without thought, ""'•nyand handsome, he had soon the dower Of a kind wealthy widow in his power; Tnen hf nspir'd to loftier flights of vice! To «neing harlots of enormous price: ArH took a jockey in his gig to buy An hone, so valued, that a duke was shy:
To gain the plaudits of the knowing few, Gamblers and grooms, what wouid not Blaney
"Cruel he was not.—If he left his wife,
pp. 193, 194.
Clelia is another worthless character, drawn with infinite spirit, and a thorough knowledge of human nature. She began, lile as a sprightly, talking, flirting girl, who passed for a wit and a beauty in the half-bred circles of the borough; and who, in laying herself out to entrap a youth of better condition, unfortunately fell a victim to his superior art. and forfeited her place in society. She then became the smart mistress of a dashing attorney—then tried to teach a school—lived as the favourite of an innkeeper—let lodgings— wrote novels—set up a toyshop—and. finally, was admitted into the almshouse. There is nothing very interesting perhaps in such a story; but the details of it show the wonderful accuracy of the author's observation of character; and give it, and many of his other pieces, a value of the same kind that some pictures are thought to derive from the truth and minuteness of the anatomy which they display. There is something original, too, and well conceived, in the tenacity with which he represents this frivolous person, as adhering to' her paltry characteristics, under every change of circumstances. The concluding view is as follows.
"Now friendless, sick, and old, and wanting bread,
Now with the menials crowding to the wall.
pp. 209, 210.
The gtaphic powers of Mr. Crabbe, indeed, are too frequently wasted on unworthy subjects. There is not, perhaps, in all English poetry a more complete and highly finished piece of painting, than the following description of a vast old boarded room or warehouse, which was let out, it seems, in the borough, as a kind of undivided lodging, for beggars and vagabonds of every description. No Dutch painter ever presented an interior more distinctly to the eye; or ever gave half such a group to (he imagination.
"That window view !—oil'd paper and old glass Stain (he strong rays, which, though impeded, pass, And give a dusty warmth to that huee room, The conquer'd sunshine's melancholy gloom;
When all those western ray«, without so bright,
"Where'er the floor allows an even space,
"On swinging shellare things incongruous stor'd;
"Here by a curtain, by a blanket there,
"Each end contains a grate, and these beside
"Above the fire, the mantel-shelf contain«
"High hung at either end, and next the wall, Two ancient mirrors show the forms of all."
The following picture of a calm sea fog is by the same powerful hand :—
"When all you see through densest fog is seen;
We add one other sketch of a similar character, which though it be introduced as the haunt and accompaniment of a desponding spirit, is yet chiefly remarkable for the singular clearness and accuracy with which it represents the dull scenery of a common tide river. The author is speaking of a solitary and abandoned fisherman, who was compelled—
"At the same times the same dull views to see,
"When lides were neap, and. in the sultry day, Through the tall bounding mud-banks mnde their Which on each side roae swelling, and below [way.
The dark warm flood ran silently and slow;
Under the head of Amusements, we have a spirited account of the danger and escape ot a party of pleasure, who landed, in a rin« evening, on a low sandy island, vrhich vn>t covered with the tide at nigh water, and w-.-r.' left upon it by the drifting away of their bn¿:
"On the bright sand they trode with nimble feet.
While engaged in their sports, they t their boat floating at a distance, and are struck with instant terror.
"Alas! no shout the distant land can reach.
But hark! an oar,
That sound of bliss! comes dashing to their shot:
In the letter on Education, there are «om" fine descriptions of boarding-schools for Ny.h KAes, and of the irksome and useless ram:'-' which they impose on the bounding spin» and open affections of early youth. This tf followed by some excellent remarks or is? ennui which so often falls to the lot nf lh" learned—or that description at leasJ oí üu learned thai are bred in English universities. But we have no longer lefl room for any considerable extracts; though we should have wished to lay before our readers some part of the picture of the secretaries—the description of the inns—the strolling players— und the clubs. The poor man's club, which partakes of the nature of a friendly society, i.- described with that good-hearted indulgence which marks all Mr. Crabbe's writings.
•• The primed rules he guards in painted frame, And »hows his children where to read his name."
We have now alluded, we believe, to what is beet and most striking in this poem; and. (hough we do not mean to quote any part of u liât we consider as less successful, we must fay. that there are large portions of it which appear to us considerably inferior to most of the author's former productions. The letter en the Election, we look on as a complete failure—or at least as containing scarcely any thing of what it ought to have contained.— The letters on Law and Physic, too, are tedious ; and the general head s of Trades, Amusements, and Hospital Government, by no means amusing. The Parish Clerk, too, we find dull, and without effect; and have already given our opinion of Peter Grimes, Abel Keene. and Bcnbow. We are struck, also, with several omissions in the picture of a maritime borough. Mr. Crabbe might have made a great deal of a press-gang; and, at all event«, should have ¡riven us some wounded veteran sailors, and some voyagers with tales of wonder from loreiim lands.
The style of this poem is distinguished, Шее all Mr. Crabbe's other performances, by great force and compression of diction—a sort of sententious brevity, once thought essential lo poetical composition, but of which he is now the only living example. But though this is almost an unvarying characteristic of his «tyle, it appears to us that there is great variety, and even some degree of unsteadiness and inconsistency in the tone of his expression and versification. His taste seems scarcely to be sufficiently fixed and settled as to these essential particulars; and, along with a certain quaint, broken, and harsh manner of lii* own, we think we can trace very frequent imitations of poets of the most opposite character. The following antithetical and half-punning lines of Pope, for instance :—
"Sleepless himself, to give hie readers sleep;" and— "WboM trifling pleases, and whom trifles please ;—
have evidently been copied by Mr. Crabbe in i hi- following, and many others:—
"And in the restless ocean, seek for rest." "Denying her who taught thee to deny." "Scraping they liv'd, hut not a scrap they gave." "Bound for a friend, whom honour could not bind." Among the poor, f >r poor distinctions sigh'd."
In the same way. the common, nicely baluiced line of two members, which is so characteristic of the same author, has obviously
been the model of our author in the follow ing:—
"That woe could wish, or vanity deviso.'1 "Sick without pity, sorrowing without hope." "Gloom to the night, and pressure to the chain"— and a great multitude of others.
On the other hand, he appears to us to be frequently misled by Darwin into a sort of mock-heroic magnificence, upon ordinary occasions. The poet of the Garden, for instance, makes his nymphs
"Present the fragrant quintessence of tea."
And the poet of the Dock-yards makes his carpenters
"Spread the warm pungence of o'erboiling tar." Mr. Crabbe, indeed, does not scruple, on some occasions, to adopt the mock-heroic in good earnest. When the landlord of the Griffin becomes bankrupt, he says— "The insolvent Griffin struck her wings sublime,"
and introduces a very serious lamentation over the learned poverty of the curate, with this most misplaced piece of buffoonery :—
"Oh! had he learn'd to make the wig he wear«!"
One of his letters, too, begins with this wretched quibble—
"From Law lo Physic stepping at our ease. We find a way to finish—by degree»."
There are many imitations of the peculiar rhythm of Goldsmith and Campbell, too, as our readers must have observed in some of our longer specimens; — but these, though they do not always make a very harmonious combination, are better, at all events, than the tame heaviness and vulgarity of such verses as the following :—
Could he have thought gold issued from the moon."
"Those who will not to any guide submit,
"Here pits of crag, with spongy, plashy base,
Of the suddeii, narsh turns, and broken conciseness which we think peculiar to himself, the reader may take the following specimens :—
"Has your wife's brother, or your uncle's son, Done aught amiss; or is he thought Г have done t"
"Stepping from post to post he reach'd the chair; And.there he now reposes :—that's the Mayor!"
He has a sort of jingle, too, which we think is of his own invention ;—for instance,
"For forms and feasts that sundry times hnve past, And formal feasts that will for ever last."
"We term it free and easy; and yet we Find it no easy matter to be free."
We had more remarks to make upon the taste and diction of this author ; and had noted several other little blemishes, which we meant lo have pointed out for his correction: but we have no longer room for such minute criticism —from which, indeed, neither the author nor the reader would be likely to derive any great benefit. We take our leave of Mr. Crabbe, therefore, by expressing our hopes that, since i> is proved that he can write fast, he will not allow his powers to languish for want of exer< ise; and that we shall soon see him again lepaying the public approbation, by entitling liimself to a still larger share of it. An author generally knows his own forte so much better than any of his readers, that it is commonly a very foolish kind of presumption to offer any advice as to the direction of his efforts; but we own we have a very strong desire to вее Mr. Crabbe apply his great powers to the construction of some interesting and connected etory. He has great talents for narration ; and that unrivalled gift in the delineation of character, which is now used only for the creation of detached portraits, might be turned to ad
mirable account m maintaining the ínteres' and enhancing the probability, of an e.vtendeil train of adventures. At present, it is impossible not to regret, that so much genius should be wasted in making us perfectly acquainted with individuals, of whom we are to know nothing but the characters. In such a poem, however. Mr. Crabbe must entirely lay aside the sarcastic and jocose style to which he harather too great a propensity; but which we know, from what he has done in Sir Enetace Grey, that he can, when he please?, entirelv relinquish. That very powerful and original performance, indeed, the chief fault of which is. to be set too thick with images—to be too strong and undiluted, in short, for the disfftion of common readers—makes us regret, that its author should ever have stopped ю Ъ? trifling and ingenious — or condescended to tickle the imaginations of his reader«, instead of touching the higher passions of their nature.
Tales. By the Reverend George Crabbe. 8vo. pp. 398. London: 1812.
We are very thankful to Mr. Crabbe for these Tales; as we must always be for any thing that comes from his hands. But they are not exactly the tales which we wantea. We did not, however, wish him to write an Epic—as he seems from his preface to have imagined. We are perfectly satisfied with the length of the pieces he has given us ; and delighted with their number and variety. In these respects the volume is exactly as we could have wished it. But we should have liked a little more of the deep and tragical passions; of those passions wnich exalt and overwhelm the soul—to whose stormy seat the modern muses can so rarely raise their flight—and which he has wielded with such terrific force in his Sir Eustace Grey, and the Gipsy Woman. What we wanted, in short, were tales something in the style of those two singular compositions—with less jocularity than prevails in the rest of his writings —rather more incidents—and rather fewer details.
The pieces before us are not of this description ;—they are mere supplementary chapters to "The Borough," or "The Parish Register." The same tone—the same subjects—the same style, measure, and versification ;—the same finished and minute delineation of 4hings ordinary and common—generally very engaging when employed upon external object?, Dut often fatiguing when directed merely to insignificant charactersand habits;—the same strange mixture too of feelings that tear the heart and darken the imagination, with starts of low humour and patches of ludicrous imagery ;—the same kindly sympathy with the humble and innocent pleasures of the poor and inelegant, and the same indulgence for
their venial offences, contrasted with a stron; sense of their frequent depravity, and too constant a recollection of the sufferings it produces ;—and, finally, the same honours pa;J to the delicate affections and ennobling passions of humble life, with the same generous testimony to their frequent existence; mi.ted up as before, with a reprobation sufficieutlv rigid, and a ridicule sufficiently severe, of their excesses and affectations.
If we were required to make a comparative estimate of the merits of the present publication, or to point out the shades of difference by which it is distinguished from tho«.- that have gone before it, we should say that there are a greater number of instances on which he has combined the natural language ятЛ manners of humble life with the energy of true passion, and the beauty of géneros» affection ;—in which he has traced out the course of those rich and lovely veins in the rude and unpolished masses that lie at the bottom of society ;—and unfolded, in the middling orders of the people, the working c; those finer feelings, and the stirring? of thtw loftier emotions which the partiality of other poets had attributed, almost exclusively, to actors on a higher scene.
We hope, too, that this more amiable and consoling view of human nature will have the effect of rendering Mr. Crabbe still more popular than we know that he already is among that great body of the people, шип among whom almost all his subjects are laker, and for whose use his lessons are chiefly intended : and we say this, not only on account of the moral benefit which we think they may derive from them, but because we are persuaded that they will derive more pleasure fiom them than readers of any other description. Those who do not belong to that rank of society with which this powerful writer is chiefly conversant in his poetry, or who have not at least gone much among them, and attended diligently to their characters and occupations, can neither be half aware of the exquisite fidelity of his delineations, nor feel m iheir full force the better part of the emot,ons which he has suggested. Vehement passion indeed is of all ranks and conditions; and its language and external indications nearly the same in all. Like highly rectified spirit, it blazes and inflames with equal force and brightness, from whatever materials it is extracted. But all the softer and kindlier affections, all the social anxieties that mix with our daily hopes, and endear our homes, and colour our existence, wear a different livery, and are written in a different character in almost every great caste or division of *iciety; and the heart is warmed, and the spirit touchc'd by their delineation, exactly in the proportion in which we are familiar with ths types by which they are represented.— When Burns, in his better days, walked out in a fine summer morning with Dugald Stewart, and the latter observed to him what a beauty the scattered cottages, with their white walls and curling smoke shining in the silent sun, imparted to the landscape, the present poet answered, that he felt that beauty ten timeä more strongly than his companion could Jo ; and that it was necessary to be a cottager to know what pure and tranquil pleasures often nestled below those lowly roofs, or to read, in their external appearance, the signs of so many heartfelt ana long-remembered enjoyments. In the same way, the humble and patient hopes—the depressing embarrassments—the little mortifications—the slender triumphs, and strange temptations which arise in middling life, and are the theme of Mr. Crabbe's finest and most touching representations—can only be guessed at by those who suiter in the higher walks of existence; while theymust raise manya tumultuous throb and many a fond recollection in the breasts of those to whom they reflect so truly the image of their own estate, and reveal so clearly the secrets of their habitual sensations.
We cannot help thinking, therefore, that though such writings as are now before us must give great pleasure to all persons of taste arid sensibility, they will give by far the greatest pleasure to those whose condition is least remote from that of the beings with whom they are occupied. But we think also, that it was wise and meritorious in Mr. Crabbe to occupy himself with such beings. In this rountry, there probably are not less than three hundred thousand persons who read for amusement or instruction, among the mid•11 ing classes* of society. In the higher
* By the middlinff Наяяея. we mean almost nil itvise who are below ihe sphere of what is called f'lfjiionshle or public life, and who dp not aim at «fii'inction or notoriety beyond the circle of their <ia«le in fortune and situation.
classes, there are not as many as thirty thousand. It is easy to see therefore which a poet should choose to please, for his own glory and emolument, and which he should wish to delight and amend, out of mere philanthropy. The fact too we believe is, that a great part of the larger body are to the full as well educated and as high-minded ая the smaller; and, though their taste may not be so correct and fastidious, we are persuaded that their sensibility is greater. The misfortune is, to be sure, that they are extremely apt to affect the taste of their superiors, and to counterfeit even that absurd disdain of which they are themselves the objects; and that poets have generally thought it safest to invest their interesting characters with all the trappings of splendid fortune and high station, chiefly because those who know least about such matters think it unworthy to sympathise in the adventures of those who are without them! For our own parts, however, we are quite positive, not only that persona in middling life would naturally be most touched with the emotions that belong to their own condition, but that those emotions are in themselves the most powerful, and consequently the best fitted for poetical or pathetic representation. Even with regard to the heroic and ambitious passions, as the vista is longer which leads from humble privacy to the natural objects of such passions; so, the career is likely to be more impetuous, and its outset more marked by striking and contrasted emotions :—and as to all the more tender and less turbulent affections, upon which the beauty of .the pathetic is altogether dependant, we apprehend it to be quite manifest, that their proper soil and nidus is the privacy and simplicity of humble life;—that their very elements are dissipated by the variety of objects that move for ever in the world of fashion; and their essence tainted by the cares and vanities that are diffused in the atmosphere ofthat lofty region. But we are wandering into a long dissertation, instead of making our readers acquainted with the book before us. The most satisfactory thing we can do, we believe, is to give them a plain account of its contents, with such quotations and remarks as may occur to us as we proceed.
The volume contains twenty-one tales;— the first of which is called "The Dumb Orators." This is not one of the most engaging; and is not judiciously placed at the portal, to tempt hesitating readers to go forward. The second, however, entitled "The Parting Hour," is of a far higher character, and contain» some passages of great beauty and pathos. The story is simply that of a youth and a maiden in humble life, who had loved each other from their childhood, but were too poor to marry. The youth goes to the West Indies to push his fortune; but is captured by the Spaniards and carried to Mexico, where, in the course of time, thongh still sighing for his first love, he marrie? a Spanish girl, and lives twenty years with her anil his children—he is then impressed, and car