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Jays no regard to the brilliancy of their hues, ihe sweetness of their odours, or the graces of their form. Those who come to him for the sole purpose of acquiring knowledge may participate perhaps in this indifference; but the world at large will wonder at them—and he will engage fewer pupils to listen to his instructions, than if he had condescended in some degree to consult their predilections in the beginning. It is the same case, we think, in many respects, with Mr. Crabbe. Relying for the interest he is to produce, on the curious expositions he is to make of the elements of human character, or at least finding his own chief gratification in those subtle investigations, he seems to care very little upon what particular individuals he pitches for the purpose of these demonstrations. Almost every human mind, he seems to think, may serve to display that fine and mysterious mechanism which it is his delight to explore and explain;–and almost every condition, and every history of life, afford occasions to show how it may be put into action, and pass through its various combinations. It seems, therefore, almost as if he had caught up the first dozen or two of persons that came across him in the ordinary walks of life, and then fitting in his little window in their breasts, and applying his tests and instruments of observation, had set himself about such a minute and curious scrutiny of their whole habits, history, adventures, and dispositions, as he o must ultimately create not only a familiarity, but an interest, which the first aspect o the subject was far enough from leading any one to expect. That he succeeds more frequently than could have been anticipated, we are very willing to allow. But we cannot help feeling, also, that a little more pains bestowed in the selection of his characters, would have made his power of observation and description tell wit
truth of his delineations, and the fineness of the perceptions by which he was enabled to make them, it is impossible to take any considerable interest in many of his personages, or to avoid feeling some degree of fatigue at the minute and patient exposition that is made of all that belongs to them. These remarks are a little too general, we believe—and are not introduced with strict propriety at the head of our fourth article on Mr. Crabbe's productions. They have drawn out, however, to such a length, that we can afford to say but little of the work immediately before us. It is marked with all the characteristics that we have noticed, either now or formerly, as distinctive of his poetry. On the whole, however, it has certainly fewer of the grosser faults—and fewer too, perhaps, of the more exquisite passages which occur in his former publications. There is nothing at least that has struck us, in going over these volumes, as equal in elegance to Phoebe Dawson in the Register, or in pathetic effect to the Convict's Dream, or Edward Shore, or the Parting Hour, or the Sailor dying beside his Sweetheart. On the other hand, there is far
tenfold effect; and that, in spite of the exquisite
less that is horrible, and nothing that can be said to be absolutely disgusting; and the picture which is afforded of society and human nature is, on the whole, much less painful and degrading. There is both less misery and less guilt; and, while the same searching and unsparing glance is sent into all the dark caverns of the breast, and the truth brought forth with the same stern impartiality, the result is more comfortable and cheering. The greater part of the characters are rather more #.F in station, and milder and more amiable in disposition; while the accidents of life are more mercifully managed, and fortunate circumstances more liberally allowed. It is rather remarkable, too, that Mr. Crabbe seems to become more amorous as he grows older-the interest of almost all the stories in his collection turning on the tender passion—and many of them on its most romantic varieties. The plan of the work,-for it has rather more of plan and unity than any of the former—is abundantly simple. Two brothers, both past middle age, meet together for the first time since their infancy, in the Hall of their native parish, which the elder and richer had purchased as a place of retirement for his declining age—and there tell each other their own history, and then that of their guests, neighbours, and acquaintances. The senior is much the richer, and a bachelor—having been a little distasted with the sex by the unlucky result of an early and very extravagant passion. He is, moreover, rather too reserved and sarcastic, and somewhat Toryish, though with an excellent heart and a powerful understanding. The younger is very sensible also, but more open, social, and talkative—a happy husband and father, with a tendency to Whiggism, and some notion of reform—and a disposition to think well both of men and women. The visit lasts two or three weeks in autumn; and the Tales, which make up the volume, are told in the after dinner tite à têtes that take place in that time between the worthy brothers over their bottle. The married man, however, wearies at length for his wife and children; and his brother lets him go, with more coldness than he had expected. He goes with him, however, a stage on the way; and, inviting him to turn aside a | little to look at a new purchase he had made of a sweet farm with a neat mansion, he finds his wife and children comfortably settled there, and all dressed out and ready to receive them ' and speedily discovers that he is, by his brother's ". the proprietor of a fair domain within a morning's ride of the
|Hall—where they may discuss politics, and
tell tales any afternoon they think proper. Though their own stories and descriptions are not, in our opinion, the best in the work, it is but fair to introduce these narrative brothers and their Hall a little more particularly to our readers. The history of the elder and more austere is not |...}. probable— nor very interesting; but it affords many passages extremely characteristic of the author. He was a spoiled child, and grew up into a youth of a romantic and contemplative turn— dreaming, in hie father's rural abode, of diтше nymphs and damsels all passion and purity.' One day he had the good luck to rescue a fair lady from a cow, and fell desperately in love:—Though he never got to «peech of his charmer, who departed from the place where she was on a visit, and eluded the eager search with which he purwed her, in town and country, for many a long year: For this foolish and poetical pasmon settled down on his spirits; and neither time Dor company, nor the business of a London banker, could effect a diversion. At last, ai the end of ten or twelve years—for the fit lasted that unreasonable time—being then an npper clerk in his uncle's bank, he stumbled upon his Dulcinea in a very unexpected way —and a way that no one but Mr. Crabbe would either have thought of—or thought of describing in verse. In short, he finds her established as the chère amie of another respectable banker! and after the first shock is orer. sets about considering how he may reclaim her. The poor Percuta professes penitence; and he offers to assist and support her il she will abandon her evil courses. The following passage is fraught with a deep and a melancholy knowledge of character and of human nature.
"She vow'd—she tried !—Alas! she did not know
As her health fails, however, her relapses become lese frequent; and at last she dies. -'rntfful and resigned. Her awakened lover я stunned bv the blow—takes seriously to business—and is in danger of becoming avaricious; when a severe illness rouses him to ''-'her thoughts, and he takes his name out Í the firm, and, being turned of sixty, seeks » place of retirement.
"H« chose hie native village, and the hill
"f dirnb'd a boy had its attraction still;
'»"rtfa thai small brook beneath, where he would
And stooping fill the hollow of his hand, [stand,
Tnqncnoh ih' impatient ihirst—then stop awhile
To« the sun upon the waters smile.
In that sweet weariness, when, long denied,
"8 drink anH view the fountain that supplied
'liî sparkling bliss—and feel, if not express,
1 '»' perfect ease, in that sweet weariness.
'Jheoak* vet flourished in that fertile ground, "here etill the church with lofty lower was found; A ni still that Hall, a first, a favourite view," &c.
IJhi H»ll of Binning! his delight ahoy,
'ГР. from bis father's modest home, he gaz'd,
That sun-excluding window gives ihe room; Those broad brown stairs on which he loves to
Those beams within; without, that length of lead.
Vol. i. pp. 4—6.
So much for Squire George—unless any reader should care to know, as Mr. Crabbe has kindly told, that—"The Gentleman was tall." and, moreover. "Looked old when followed, but alert when met." Of Captain Richard, the story is more varied and rambling. He was rather neglected in his youth; and passed his time, when a boy, very much, as we cannot help supposing, Mr. Crabhe must have passed his own. He ran wild in the neighbourhood of a seaport, and found occupation enough in its precincts.
"Where crowds assembled I was sure to run,
"To me the wives of seamen lov'd to tell
"No ships were wreck'd upon that fatal beach,
"There were fond girls, who look me to their side,
Once he saw a boat upset; and still recollects enough to give this spirited sketch of the
"Then were those piercing shrieks, that frantic All hurriri)' all in tumult and aifriizht! [flight,
A gathering crowd from different streets drew
All ask, all answer—none attend, none hear!
"О! how impatient on ihe sands we Iread,
"And who is the apart! She dares not come
He also pries into the haunts of the smugglers, and makes friends with the shepherds on the downs in summer; and then he becomes intimate with an old sailor's wife, to whom he reads sermons, and histories, and }. books, and hymns, and indelicate balads! The character of this woman is one of the many examples of talent and labour misapplied. It is very o and, we doubt not, very truly drawn—but it will attract few readers. Yet the story she is at last brought to tell of her daughter will command a more general interest.
“Ruth—I may tell, too oft had she been told !-
“There was a sailor boy, and people said
They are betrothed—and something more than betrothed—when, on the eve of their wedding-day, the youth is carried relentlessly off by a press-gang; and soon after is slain in battle !—and a preaching weaver then woos, with nauseous perversions of scripture, the loathing and widowed bride. This picture, too, is strongly drawn;–but we hasten to a scene of far more power as well as pathos. Her father urges her to wed the missioned suitor; and she agrees to give her answer on Sunday.
“She left her infant on the Sunday morn,
“And she was gone! the waters wide and deep
“But O ! what storm was in that mind! what
Richard afterwards tells how he left the sea and entered the army, and fought and marched in the Peninsula; and how he came home and fell in love with a parson's daughter, and courted and married her;-and he tells it all very prettily,–and, moreover, that he is very happy, and very fond of his wife and children. But we must now take the Adelphi out of doors; and let them introduce some of their acquaintances. Among the first to whom we are presented are two sisters, still in the bloom of life, who had been cheated out of a handsome independence by the cunning of a speculating banker, and deserted by their lovers in consequence of this calamity. Their characters are drawn with infinite skill and minuteness, and their whole story told with great feeling and beauty;-but it is difficult to make extracts.
The prudent suitor of the milder and more serious sister, sneaks pitifully away when their fortune changes. The bolder lover of the more elate and gay, seeks to take a baser advantage.
“Then made he that attempt, in which to fail
The effects of this double trial on their different tempers are also very finely described. The gentler Lucy is the most resigned and magnanimous. The more aspiring Jane suffers far keener anguish and fiercer impatience; and the task of soothing and cheering her devolves on her generous sister. Her fancy, too, is at times a little touched by her afflictions—and she writes wild and melancholy verses. The wanderings of her reason are represented in a very affecting manner;-but we rather choose to quote the following verses, which appear to us to be eminently beautiful, and makes us regret that Mr. Crabbe should have indulged us so seldom with those higher lyrical effusions.
“Let me not have this gloomy view,
“I’ll have my grave beneath a hill,
Where only Lucy's self shall know;
Where runs the pure pellucid rill
There violets on the borders blow,
Till as the morning sunbeams glow,
“There will the lark, the lamb, in sport,
'О! fake me from a world I hate,
-Men cruel, selfish, sensual, cold;
Lei me my sisier minds behold:
Our heaven of spul less love to share,
Vol. i. pp. 212—215
-The Preceptor Husband1' is exceedingl' well managed—but is rather too facetious fo our present mood. The old bachelor, wh( had been five times on the brink of matri толу, is mixed up of sorrow and mirth;— but we cannot make room for any extracts except the following inimitable description of the first coming on of old age,—though we feel assured, somehow, that this mali cioui observer has mistaken the date of these ugly symptoms; and brought them into view nine or ten, or, at all events, six or seven years too early.
"Six years had pass'd, and forty era the six,
•'• The Maid's Story " is rather long—though i'- has many passages that must be favourites with Mr. Crabbe's admirers. "Sir Owen Dale " is too long also; but it is one of the best in the collection, and must not be discussed so shortly. Sir Owen, a proud, handsome man, is left a widower at forty-three, and is won after jilted by a young lady of twenty;
tiii^i uiuuouig Д-tCirjCH (J¥ i;j|UULU (liMIJli 1119
assiduities, at last meets his long-expected declaration with a very innocent surprise at finding her familiarity with "such an old friend of her father's" so strangely misconArued! The knight, of course, is furious ;— aad, to revenge himself, looks out for a handsome young nephew, whom he engages to lay »ifce to her. and, after having won her affectrnie, to leave her,—as he had been left. The lad rashly engages in the adventure; but soon iinds his pretended passion turning into a real *K—and entreats his uncle, on whom he is iependentj to release him from the unworthy
part of his vow. Sir Owen, still mad for vengeance, rages at the proposal ; and, to confirm his relentless purpose, makes a visit to one, who had better cause, and had formerly expressed equal thirst for revenge. This was one of the higher class of his tenantry—an intelligent, manly, good-humoured farmer, who had married the vicar's pretty niece, and lived in great comfort and comparative elegance, till an idle youth seduced her from his arms, and left him in rage and misery. It is here that the interesting part of the story begins; and few things can be more powerful or striking than the scenes that ensue. Sir Owen inquires whether he had found the objects of his just indignation. He at first evades the question; but at length opens his heart, and tells him all. We can afford to give but a small part of the dialogue.
"' Twice the year came round— Years hateful now—ere I my victims found: But I did find them, in the dungeon's gloom Of a small garret—a precarious home; The roof, unceil'd in patches, gave the snow Enirance within, and there were heaps below; I pass'd a narrow region dark and cold, The strait of stairs to that infectious hold; And, when I enler'd, misery met my view In every shape she wears, in every hue. And the bleak icy blast across the dungeon flew. There frown'd the ruin'd walls that once were whit« There gleam'd the panes that once admitted light, There lay unsavory scraps of wretched food; And there a measure, void of fuel, stood. 3ut who shall, part by part, describe the state Of these, thus follow'd by relentless fate Î All, too, in winter, when the icy air Breathed its black venom on the guilty pair.
'' And could you know the miseries they endur'd, The poor, uncertain pittance they procur'd; tVhen, laid aside the needle and the pen, Their sickness won the neighbours of their den, 'oor as they are, and they are passing poor, Го lend some aid to those who needed more! Then, too, an ague with the winter came, And in this state—that wife I cannot name! irought forth a famish'd child of Buffering and of shame!
'' This had you known, and traced them to this rVhere all was desolate, defiled, unclean, [scene, A tireless room, and, where a fire had place, The blast loud howling down the empty space, fou must have felt a part of the distress, ''orgoi your wrongs, and made their Buffering less!
'' In that vile garret—which I cannot paint— The sight was loathsome, and the smell was faint]
And there that wife,—whom I had lov'd so well,
And to behold among our neighbours, line,
There she reclin'd unmov'd, her bosom bare
As lovely once! О ! how wert thou disgrac'd!
'At the bed's feet the man reclin'd his frame
Thai warm'd hie agued limbs ; and, sad to see,
4 ' She had not food, nor aught a mother needs,
"' Sure it was all a grievous, odious scene.
That arm—that eye—the cold, the sunken cheek— Spoke all !—Sir Owen—fiercely miseries speak !>
"'And you reliev'dt'
"' If hell's seducing crew Had seen that sight, tkry must have pitied too.'
"' Revenge was thine—thou hadst the power—the
right; To give it up was Heav'n's own act to slight.'
"' Tell me not. Sir, of rights, and wrongs, or
powers! I felt it written—Vengeance is not ours !'—
"' Then did you freely from your soul forgive Г—
"' Sure as I hope before my Judge to live,
Sure as I trust his mercy to receive,
Sure as his word I honour and believe,
Sure as the Saviour died upon the tree
For all who sin—-for that dear »reich, and me—
Whom, never more on earth, will I forsake—or see!'
"Sir Owen softly to his bed adjourn'd!
Vol. u. pp. 36—46.
We always quote too much of Mr. Crabbe: —perhaps because the pattern of hie arabesque is so large, that there is no getting a fair specimen of it without taking in a good space. But we must take warning this time, and forbear—or at least pick out but a few little morsels as we pass hastily along. One of the best managed of all the tales is that entitled <: Delay has Danger ;"—which contains a very full, true, and particular account of the way in which a weakish, but well meaning young man, engaged on his own suit to a very amiable girl, may be seduced, during her unlucky absence, to entangle himself with a far inferior person, whose chief seduction is her apparent humility and devotion to him.
We cannot give any part of the long and finely converging details by which the catastrophe is brought about: But we are tempted to venture on the catastrophe itself, for the sake chiefly of the right English, melancholy, autumnal landscape, with which it concludes:—
"In that weak moment, when disdain and pride, And fear and fondness, drew the man aside, In that weak moment—' Wilt thou,' he began, 'Be mine Г and joy o'er all her features ran; 'I will!' she softly whisper'd ; but the roar Of cannon would not strike his spirit more! Ev'n as his lips the lawless contract seal'd He felt that conscience lost her seven-fold shield, And honour fled ; but still he spoke of love; And »I! was joy in the consenting dove!
That evening all in fond discourse Wm «pent; Till the sad lover to his chamber went, [ptr.t'
To think on what had past,—to grieve and ю re-
Vol. ii. pp. 84, 85.
The moral autumn is quite as gloomy, and far more hopeless.
"The Natural Death of Love" is perha;-the best written of all the pieces before u». It consists of a very spirited dialogue betweti. a married pair, upon the causes of the dtrirrence between the days of marriage and tho-< of courtship;—in which the errors and laci'j of both parties, and the petulance, impatirr.o and provoking acuteness of the lady, wuh ti? more reasonable and reflecting, but Mraewiul insulting manner of the gentleman, are .... exhibited to the life; and with more uniwm delicacy and finesse than is usual with the author.
"Lady Barbara, or the Ghost," Ц a keg story, and not very pleasing. A fair v¡¿'.••* had been warned, or supposed she had l*~>-:. warned, by the ghost of a beloved brother, that she would be miserable if she contract a second marriage—and then, some fil'icv: years after, she is courted by the son (•: i reverend priest, to whose house she hao r-tired—and upon whom, during all the yew» of his childhood, she had lavished the eu« of a mother. She long resists his unratu-ji passion; but is at length subdued by hi? i:'gency and youthful beauty, and gives him Ь•• hand. There is something rather disent "we think, in this fiction—and certain!) ''' worthy lady could not have taken no vn\ likely to save the ghost's credit, as by Pt.i'•'• ing into st/cA a marriage—and she confer • as much, it seems, on her deathbed.
"The Widow," with her three hii*bar;¿- • not quite so lively as the wife of Bath with her five ;—but it is a very amusinc. a* wrl¡ »' a very instructive lecena; and exhibits.! гд'-"• variety of those striking intellectual portraitwhich mark the hand of our poetical RVrrbrandt. The serene close of her event/a/ life is highly exemplary. After carefully collecting all her dowers and jointures—
"The widow'd lady lo her cot reiir'd: And there she lives, delighted and admir'd.'