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verses with magnanimity. At last a distant relation leaves ner his fortune; and she returns to the enjoyment of moderate wealth, and the exercise of charity—to all but her miserable husband. Broken by age and disease, he now begs the waste sand from the stone-cutters, and sells it on an ass through the btreets :—
"And from each trifling gift
Made shift to live—and wretched was the shift."
The unrelenting wife descries him creeping through the wet at this miserable employment; but still withholds all relief; in ffate of the touching entreaties of her compassionate handmaid, whose nature is as kind and yielding as that of her mistress is hard and inflexible. Of all the pictures of mendiant poverty that have ever been brought forward in prose or verse—in charity sermons or seditious harangues—we know of none half so moving or complete—so powerful and so true —as is contained in the following passages:—
"A dreadful winter came ; each day severe, Misiy when mild, and icy-cold when clear; And still the humble dealer took his load, Returning slow, and shivering on the road: The Lady, elill relentless, saw him come, And said,—' I wonder, has the Wretch a home!' 'A hat! a hovel !'—' Then his fate appears To sail his crime.'—' Yes, Lady, not his years ;— No! nor his suflerines— nor that form decay'd.'— The snow/ quoth Susan, ' falls upon his bed— I' blows beside the thatch—it melts upon his
'Tis weakness, child, for grieving guilt to feel.'
The Lady at last is moved, by this pleading pity, to send him a little relief; but has no чюаег dismissed her delighted messenger, 'Kan phe repents of her weakness, and begins to harden her heart again by the recollection <Л his misconduct.
Thus fix'd. she heard not her Attendant glide w!th soft slow «ep—till, standing by her side, The trembling Servant gasp'd for breath, and shed Relieving tears, then uttered—' He is dead!'
"' Dead !' gaid the startled Lady. 'Yes, he fell Поэд at the door where he was wont to dwell. There tm sole friend, the Ass, was standing by, Half dead himself, to see his Master die.'"
pp. 324, 325.
"The Convert" is rather dull—though it teaches a lesson that may be useful in these fanatic times. John Dighton was bred a blackguard; and we have here a most lively and complete description of the items that go to the composition of that miscellaneous character; but being sore reduced by a long fever, falls into the hands of the Methodists, and becomes an exemplary convert. He is then set up by the congregation in a 'small stationer's shop; and. as he begins to thrive in business, adds worldly literature to the evangelical tracts which composed his original stock in trade. This scandalises the brethren; and John, having no principles or knowledge, falls out with the sect, and can never settle in the creed of any other; and so lives perplexed and discontented—and dies in agitation and terror.
"The Brothers" restores us again to human sympathies. The characters, though humble, are admirably drawn, and the baser of them, we fear, the most strikingly natural. An open-hearted generous sailor had a poor, sneaking, cunning, selfish brother, to whom he remitted all his prize-money, and gave all the arrears of his pay—receiving, in return, vehement professions of gratitude, and false protestations of regard. At last, the sailor is disabled in action, and discharged; just as his heartless brother has secured a small office by sycophancy, and made a prudent marriage with a congenial temper. He seeks the shelter of his brother's house as freely as he would have given it; and does not at first perceive the coldness of his reception.—But mortifications grow upon him day by day. His grog is expensive, and his pipe makes the wife sick; then his voice is so loud, and his manners so rough, that her friends cannot visit her if he appears at table! So he is banished by degrees to a garret; where he falls sick, and has no consolation but in the kindness of one of his nephews, a little boy, who administers to his comforts, and listens to his stories with a delighted attention. This too, however, is at last interdicted by his hard-hearted parents; and the boy is obliged to steal privately to tiis disconsolate uncle. One day his father catches him at his door; and, after beating tlim back, proceeds to deliver a severe rebuke '.o his brother for encouraging the child in disobedience—when he finds the unconscious culprit released by death from his despicable insults and reproaches! The great art of the story consists in the plausible excuses with which the ungrateful brother always contrive? :o cover his wickedness. This cannot be eximplified in an extract; but we shall give э Tew lines as a specimen.
'Cold as he grew, still Iiaac strove to show, By well-feign'd care, that cold he could not grow; And when ho saw his Brother look distress's, He strove some petty comforts to suggest; On his Wife solely their neglect to lay, And then t' excuse it as a woman's way; tie too was chidden when her rules he broke, And then shtsicken'd at the scentof smoke! [find "George, though in doubt, was eiill consol'd to His Brother wishing to be reckon'd kind: That Isaac seem'd concern'd by his distress.
Gave lo his injur'd feelings some redress;
pp. 368, 369.
"At length he sicken'd, and this duteous Child Watch'd o'er his sickness, and his pains beguil'd; The Mother bade him from the loft refrain. But, though with caution, yet he went again; And now nis tales the sailor feebly told, His heart was heavy, and his limbs were cold! The tender boy came often to entreat His good kind friend would of his presents eat: Purloin'd or purchased, for he saw, with shame, The food untouch'd that to his Uncle came; Who, sick in body and in mind, receiv'd The Boy's indulgence, gratified and griev'd!
"Once in a week the Father came to say, 'George, are 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, And took vast credit for the vague intent.
"But, truly kind, the gentle Boy essay'd To cheer his Uncle, firm, although afraid; But now the Father caught him at the door,
And, swearing yes. the Man in Office swore.
And cried, ' Away !—How ! Brother, I'm surpns'd, That one so old can be so ill advis'd,' " &c.
After the catastrophe, he endures deserved remorse and anguish.
"He takes his Son, and bids the boy unfold
All the good Uncle of his feelings told,
All he lamented—and the ready tear
Falls a» he listens, sooth'd. and griev'd to hear.
"' Did he not curse me, child ?'—'He never cure'd.
But could not breathe, and «aid his heart would
burst :'— [pray;
'And so will mine!'—' Then, Father, you must
My Uncle said it took his pains away.' "—p. 374.
The last tale in the volume, entitled, "The Learned Boy," is not the most interesting in the collection ; though it is not in the least like what its title would lead us to expect. It ig the history of a poor, weakly, paltry lad, who is sent up from the country to be a clerk in town; and learns by slow degrees to affect freethinking, and to practise dissipation. Upon the tidings of which happy conversion his father, a worthy old farmer, orders him down again to the country, where he harrows up the soul of his pious grandmother by his infidel prating—and his father reforms him at once bv burning his idle books, and treating him with a vigorous course of horsewhipping. There is some humour in this tale;—and a great deal of nature and art, especially in the delineation of this slender clerk's gradual corruption—and in the constant and constitutional predominance of weakness and folly, in all his vice and virtue—his piety and profanenese.
We have thus gone through the better part of this volume with a degree of minuteness for which we are not sure that even our poet
ical readers will all be disposed to 'Лгал tu. But considering Mr. Crabbe as, upon the whole, the most original writer who has ew come before us; and being at the same time of opinion, that his writings are destined to i still more extensive popularity than they пате yet obtained, we could not resist the temptation of contributing our little aid to the fuiniment of that destiny. It is chiefly lor the same reason that we have directed our remarks rather to the moral than the literary qualities of his works :—to his genius at lea.-'rather than his taste—and to his thoughts rather than his figures of speech. By far the most remarkable thing in nis writings, is tL» prodigious mass of original observations ar.J reflections they every where exhibit ; and ¡ha: extraordinary power of conceiving and representing an imaginary object, whether phys;ca! or intellectual, with such a rich and compiele accompaniment of circumstances and detail«. as few ordinary observers either perceive or remember in realities; a power which, though often greatly misapplied, must for ever entitle. him to the very first rank among descriptive poets; and, when directed to worthy objects, to a rank inferior to none in the highert departments of poetry.
In such an author, the attributes of style and versification may fairly be considered a» secondary;—and yet, if we were to go minutely into them, they would aflbrd room for a still longer chapter than that which we »re now concluding. He cannot be said to be uniformly, or even generally, an elegant writer. His style ie not dignified—and neither тегу pure nor very easy. Its characters are force, precision, and familiarity;—now and thez оЬвсвге—sometimes vulgar, and sometime» quaint. With a great deal of tendemee, »nd occasional fits of the sublime of despair and agony, there is a want of habitual fire. anJ of a tone of enthusiasm in the general tenor of his writings. He seems to recollect rathe: than invent; and frequently brings forward his statements more in the temper of а Cmtious and conscientious witness, than of «fervent orator or impassioned spectator. Ни similes are almost all elaborate and ingenix». and rather seem to be furnished from the efforts of a fanciful mind, than to be exhaled by the spontaneous ferment of a heated anagination. His versification again is frequently harsh and heavy, and his diction flat and prosaic ;—both seeming to be altogether rejected in his zeal for the accuracy and complete rendering of his conceptions. The*» defects too are infinitely greater in his recrji than in his early compositions. "The Village" is written, upon the whole, in a flowing and sonorous strain of versification ; sod "&' Eustace Grey," though a late publication, ¡» in general remarkably rich and mel"d'"1K It is chiefly in his narratives and curious descriptions that these faults of diction *"» measure are conspicuous. Where he isw»ro>' ed by hie subject, and becomes fairly ir^Knant or pathetiCj his language is often тегт aweet and beautiful. He has no fiied synrm or manner of versification; but mixes several
тегу opposite style», as it were by accident, and not in general very judiciously ;—what is peculiar to himself is not good, and strikes us as being both abrupt and affected.
It is no great matter. If he will only write a few more Tales of the kind we have suggested at the beginning of this article, we shall enj gage for it that he shall have our praises—and
He may profit, if he pleases, by these hints those of more fastidious critics—whatever be —and, if he pleases, he may laugh at them, the qualities of his style or versification.
Teles of the Hall. By the Reverend George Crabbe. 2 vole. 8vo. pp.670. London: 1819. Tales of My Landlord, and the other pieces of tliat extraordinary writer. In the common case, however, a great observer, we believe, will be found, pretty certainly, to be a person of a shy and retiring tempei—who does not mingle enough with the people he surveys, to be heated with their passions, or infected with their delusions—and who has usually been led, indeed, to take up the office of a looker on, from some little infirmity of nerves, or weakness of spirits, which ha» unfitted him from playing a more active part on the busy scene of existence.
Mr. Crabbe is the greatest mannerist, perhaps, of all our living poets; and it is rather unfortunate that the most prominent features "t his mannerism are not the most pleasing. The homely, quaint, and prosaic style—the ir.it. and often broken and jingling versification —the eternal full-lengths of low and worthless characters—with their accustomed gar¡i -.hinge of sly jokes and familiar moralising— ar-> ail on the surface of his writings; and are almost unavoidably the things by which we are first reminded of him, when we take up any of his new productions. Yet they are not tile things that truly constitute his peculiar manner; or give that character by which he will, ami ought to be, remembered with future ï-wrations. It is plain enough, indeed, that these are things that will make nobody remembered—and can never, therefore, be really characteristic of some of the most original and powerful poetry that the world lias ever teen.'
Mr. C., accordingly, has other gifts; and thoee not less peculiar or less strongly marked than the blemishes with which they are contrasted; an unrivalled and almost magical power of observation, resulting in descriptions so true to nature as to strike us rather as transcripts than imitations—an anatomy of I'tbiracter and feeling not less exquisite and f-earehmg—an occasional touch of matchless tenderness—and a deep and dreadful pathetic, iuterapflrsed by fits, and strangely interwoven with lb.3 most minute and humble of his detiJs. Add to all this the sure and profound sagacity of the remarks with which he every now and then startles us in the midst of very unambitious discussions ;—and the weight and terseness of the maxims which he drops, like oracular responses, on occasions that give no prom i se of such a revelation ;—and last, though not least, that sweet and seldom sounded chord of Lyrical inspiration, the lightest touch of which instantly charms away all harshness from his numbers, arid all lowness from his themes—and at once exalts him to a level with the most energetic and inventive poets of his age.
Theee, we think, are the true characteristics ni íhe genius of this great writer; and it is in their mixture with the oddities and defects to •я-hich we have already alluded, that the peculiarity of his manner seems to us substantially to consist. The ingredients may all of thfrn be found, we suppose, in other writers;
but their combination—in such proportions at least as occur in this instance—may safely be pronounced to be original.
Extraordinary, however, as this combination must appear; it does not seem very difficult to conceive m what way it may have arisen, and, so far from regarding it as a proof of singular humorousness. caprice, or affectation in the individual, we are rather inclined te hold that something approaching to it must be the natural result of a long habit of observation in a man of genius, possessed of that temper and disposition which is the usual accompaniment of such a habit; and that the same strangely compounded and apparently incongruous assemblage of themes and sentiments would be frequently produced under such circumstances—if authors had oftener the courage to write from their own impressions, and had less fear of the laugh or wonder of the more shallow and barren part of their readers.
A great talent for observation, and a delight in the exercise of it—the power and the practice of dissecting and disentangling that subtle and complicated tissue, of habit, and self-love, and affection, which constitute human character— seems to us, in all cases, to imply a contemplative, rather than an active disposition. It can only exist, indeed, where there is a good deal of social sympathy ; for, without this, the occupation could excite no interest, and afford no satisfaction—but only such a measure and sort of sympathy as is gratified by being a i spectator, and not an actor on the great theatre i of life—and leads its possessor rather to look j with eagerness on the feats and the fortunes j of others, than to take a share for himself in I the game that is played before him. Some stirring and vigorous spirits there are, nc doubt, in which this taste and talent is com: bined with a more thorough and effective i sympathy; and leads to the study of men's characters by an actual and hearty participation in their various passions and pursuits; —though it is to be remarked, that when such persons embody their observations in writing, they will generally be found to exhibit their characters in action, rather than to describe i them in the abstract; and to let their various ! personages disclose themselves and their peculiarities, as it were spontaneously, and without help or preparation, in their ordinary conduct and speech—of all which we have a very splendid and striking example in the
Now, it is very obvious, we think, that this contemplative turn, and this alienation from the vulgar pursuits of mankind, must in the first place, produce a great contempt for most of those pursuits, and the objects they seek to obtain—a levelling of the factitious distinctions which human pride and vanity have established in the world, and a mingled scorn and compassion for the lofty pretensions under which men so often disguise the nothingness of their chosen occupations. When the manycoloured scene of lile, with all its petty agitations, its shifting pomps, and perishable passions, is surveyed by one who does not mix in its business, it is impossible that it should not appear a very pitiable and almost ridiculous affair; or that the heart should not echo back the brief and emphatic exclamation of the mighty dramatist—
——" Life's a poor player, Who frets and struts his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more !"—
Or the more sarcastic amplification of it, in
"Behold the Child, by Nature's kindly law,
This is the more solemn view of the subject :—But the first fruits of observation are most commonly found to issue in Satire—the unmasking the vain pretenders to wisdom, and worth, and happiness, with whom society is infested, and holding up to the derision of mankind those meannesses of the great, those miseries of the fortunate, and those
"Fears of the brave, and follies of the wise,"
which the eye of a dispassionate observer so
quickly detects under the glittering exterior
by which they would fain be disguised—and
which bring pretty much to a level the intellect, and morals, and enjoyments, of the great
mass of mankind.
This misanthropic end has unquestionably
been by far the most common result of a habit
of observation; and that in which its effects
have most generally terminated : — Yet we
cannot bring ourselves to think that it is their
just or natural termination. Something, no , engage the attention of the incurious.—tui:"
bring the whole family of maukind nearer I" a level, by finding out latent merits as well u
ud the milk of human kindness have been j latent defects in all its members, and сиш
originally mingled in his composition.— IV satirists, we think, have not in general l«t ill-natured persons — and we are inclín« гчther to ascribe this limited and uncharitable application of their powers of observation t» their love of fame and popularity, — which г> well known to be best secured by suecesifu ridicule or invective — or, quite as probafcij, indeed, to tho narrowness and msufiku-; • . of the observations themselves, and the imperfection of their talents for their due catsduct and extension. It is certain, at least »< think, that the satirist makes use but of loll the discoveries of the observer; and ttatL •but half — and the worser half — of the lesson which may be deduced from his occupation He puts down, indeed, the proud pretenso» of the great and arrogant, and levels the v¿... distinctions which human ambition hag established among the brethren oí mankiin! he
"Bares the mean heart that lurks beneath a S»."
— and destroys the illusion» which Wcl . limit our sympathy to the forward and ¡suing persons of this world — the favourite- i •: fame and fortune. But the true result of observation should be, not so much to cast tit« the proud, as to raise up the lowly ;— not so much to diminish our sympathy with tí powerful and renowned, as to exteud it u> ь who, in humbler conditions, have the ame, or still higher claims on our esteem or affection. — It is not surely the natural consequent of learning to judge truly of the character? o: men, that we should despise or be indinen: about them all ;— and, though we have К-агт.л! to see through the false glare which рЫ* round the envied summits of existence, аг. л to know how little dignity, or happiness o: worth, or wisdom, may sometimes bekxa'; the possessors of power, and fortune, a;,: learning and renown, — it does not follow, by any means, lhat we should look upon ii" whole of human life as a mere deceit ami imposture, or think the concerns of our s
fit subjects only for scorn and derision. Obj promptitude to admire and to envy will mJer: be corrected, our enthusiasm abated, at.d ¡ •-: distrust of appearances increased; — bul '^ sympathies and affections of our nature « continue, and be better directed— our kae <Я our kind will not be diminished — and our .: • dulgence for their faults and follies, if we n^: our lesson aright, will be signally strer.tflie: • ed and confirmed. The true and proper elm: therefore, of a habit of observation, ai.ii * thorough and penetrating knowledge oí humar. character, will be, not to extinguish our мгаpathy, but to extend it — to turn, no tiuu::. many a throb of admiration, and many a aicb of love into a smile of derision or of pit) but at the same time to reveal much that commands our homage and excites our afl >'• lion, in those humble and unexplored г^'юь* of the heart and understanding, which i¡e^';
doubtj will depend on the temper of the individual, and the proportions in which the gall
pmsating the flaws that are detected in the boasted ornaments of life, by bringing to light the richness and the lustre that sleep in the mines beneath its surface.
We are afraid some of our readers may not at once perceive the application of these profound remarks to the subject immediately before us. But there are others, we doubt not, who do not need to be told that they are intended to explain how Mr. Crabbe, and other persons with the same gift of observation, should so often busy themselves with what may be considered as low and vulgar character»; and, declining all dealings with heroes and heroic topics, should not only venture to seek for an interest in the concerns of ordinary mortals, but actually intersperse small pieces of ridicule with their undignified pathos, and endeavour to make their readers look on their books with the same mingled feelings of compassion and amusement, with which—unnatural as it may appear to the readers of poetry —they, and all judicious observers, actually lixik upon human life and human nature.— This, we are persuaded, is the true key to the greater part of the peculiarities of the author before us; and though we have disserted upon it a little longer than was necessary, we really think it may enable our readers to comprehend him, and our remarks on him, something better than they could have done without it.
There is, as everybody must have felt, a strange mixture of satire and sympathy in all his productions—a great kindliness and compassion for the errors and sufferings of our poor human nature, but a strong distrust of its heroic virtues and high pretensions. His heart is always open to pity, and all the milder emotions—but there is little aspiration after the jrrand and sublime of character, nor ver)" much encouragement for raptures and ecstasies of any description. These, he seems to think, are things rather too fine for the said poor human nature: and that, in our low and erring condition, it is a little ridiculous to pretend, either to very exalted and immaculate virtue, or very pure and exquisite happiness. He not only never meddles, therefore, with the delicate distresses and noble fires of the heroes and heroines of tragic and epic fable, but may generally be detected indulging in a lurking sneer at the pomp and vanity of all such superfine imaginations — and turning from them, to draw men in their true postures and dimensions, and with all the imperfections that actually belong to their condition :— the prosperous and happy overshadowed with racing clouds of ennui, and disturbed with little flaws of bad humour and discontent— the great and wise beset at times with strange weaknesses and meannesses and paltry vexations—and even the most virtuous and enlightened falling far below the standard of poetical perfection—and stooping every now and then to paltry jealousies and prejudices— or sinking into shabby sensualities—or meditating on their own excellence and importance, with a ludicrous and lamentable anxiety. This is one side of the picture; and charac
terises sufficiently the satirical vein of our author: But the other is the most extensive and important. In rejecting the vulgar sources of interest in poetical narratives, and reducing his ideal persons to the standard of reality, Mr. C. does by no means seek to extinguish the sparks of human sympathy within us. or to throw any damp on the curiosity with which we naturally explore the characters of each other. On the contrary, he has ailbrded new and more wholesome food for all those propensities—and, by placing before us those details which our pride or fastidiousness is so apt to overlook, has disclosed, in all their truth and simplicity, the native and unadulterated workings of those affections which are at the bottom of all social interest, and are really rendered less touching by the exaggerations of more ambitious artists—while he exhibits, with admirable force and endless variety, all those combinations of passions and opinions, and all that cross-play of selfishness and vanity, and indolence and ambition? and habit and reason, which make up the intellectual character of individuals, and present to every one an instructive picture of his neighbour or himself. Seeing, by the perfection of his art, the master passions in their springs, and the high capacities in their rudiments—and having acquired the gift of tracing all the propensities and marking tendencies of our plastic nature, in their first slight indications, or even from the aspect of the dieguises they so often assume, he does not need, in order to draw out his characters in all their life and distinctness, the vulgar demonstration of those striking and decided actions by which their maturity is proclaimed even to the careless and inattentive ;—but delights to point out to his readers, the seeds or tender filaments of those talents and feelings which wait only for occasion and opportunity to burst out and astonish the world— and to accustom them to trace, in characters and actions apparently of the most ordinary description, the self-same attributes that, under other circumstances, would attract universal attention, and furnish themes for the most popular and impassioned descriptions.
That he should not be guided in the choice of his subject by any regard to the rank or condition which his persons hold in society, may easily be imagined ; and, with a view to the ends he aims at, might readily be forgiven. But we fear that his passion for observation, and the delight he takes in tracing out and analyzing all the little traits that indicate character, and all the little circumstances that influence it. have sometimes led him to be careless about his selection of the instances in which it was to be exhibited, or at least to select them upon principles very different from those which give them an interest in the eyes of ordinary readers. For the purpose of mere anatomy, beauty of form or complexion are things quite indifferent; and the physiologist, who examines plants only to study their internal structure, and to make himself master of the contrivances by which their various functions are performed,