Page images

p. 79.

Next at our allar stood a luckless pair,

The ardent lover, it seems, turned out a Brought by strong passions--and a warrant--there ; brutal husband :By long rent cloak, hung loosely, s'rove the bride, From ev'ry eye, what all perceiv'd to hide ; While the boy-bridegroom, shuffling in his pace,

If present, railing, till he saw her pain'd;

If abseni, spending what their labours gain'd: Now hid awhile, and then expos'd his face ; Till that fair form in want and sickness pin'd, As shame alternately with anger strove

And hope and comfort fled that gentle mind." The brain, confus'd with muddy ale, to move! In haste and stamm'ring he perform'd his pari, And look'd the rage that rankled in his heart. It may add to the interest which some Low spake the lass, and lisp'd and minc'd the readers will take in this simple story, to be

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

told, that it was the last piece of poetry that With soft'nened speech and humbled tone she and that he examined and made some flatter

was read to Mr. Fox during his fatal illness; To stir the embers of departed love; (strove While he a tyrant, frowning walk'd before. ing remarks on the manuscript of it a few Felt the poor purse, and sought the public door ; days before his death. She sadly following in submission went,

We are obliged to pass over the rest of the And saw the final shilling foully spent !

Marriages, though some of them are extremeThen to her father's hut the pair withdrew, And bade to love and comfort long adieu !"

ly characteristic and beautiful, and to proceed pp. 74, 75

to the Burials. Here we have a great variety The next bridal is that of Phæbe Dawson,

of portraits, --ihe old drunken innkeeperthe most innocent and beautiful of all the the bustling farmer's wife—the infant-and village maidens.

next the lady of the manor. We give the following description of her deserted mansion is strik,

The following pretty description of her courtship :

ing, and in the good old taste of Pope and “Now, through the lane, up hill, and cross the Dryden :(Seen but by few, and blushing to be seen-- (green, Dejected, thoughtful, anxious and afraid,)

" Forsaken stood the hall, Led by the lover, walk'd the silent maid :

Worms are the floors, the tap’stry fled the wall; Slow through i he meadows rov'd they, many a mile, No fire the kitchen's cheerless grate display'd; Toy'd by each bank, and trifled at each stile; No cheerful light the long-clos'd sash convey'd ; Where, as he painted every blissful view,

The crawling worm that turns a summer fly, And highly colour'd what he strongly drew, Here spun his shroud and laid him up to die The pensive damsel, prone to tender fears,

The winter-death ;-upon the bed of state, Dimm'd the fair prospect with prophetic tears." The bat, shrill-shrieking, woo'd his flick'ring mate:

pp. 76, 77. To empty rooms, the curious came no more, This is the taking side of the picture : At And surly beggars curs'd the ever-bolted door.

From empty cellars, turn'd the angry poor, the end of two years, here is the reverse. To one small room the sleward found his way, Nothing can be more touching, we think, than Where tenants follow'd, to complain and pay. the quiet suffering and solitary hysterics of

pp. 104, 105. this ill-fated young woman:

The old maid follows next to the shades of "Lo! now with red rent cloak and bonnet black, mortality. The description of her house, furAnd torn green gown, loose hanging at her back, niture, and person, is admirable, and affords One who an infant in her arms sustaing, And seems, with patience, striving with her pains;

a fine specimen of Mr. Crabbe's most minute Pinch'd are her looks, as one who pines for bread finishing ; but it is too long for extracting. We Whose cares are growing, and whose hopes are fled: rather present our readers with a part of the Pale her parch'd lips, her heavy eyes sunk low, character of Isaac Ashford :And tears unnotic'd from their channels flow; Serene her manner, till some sudden pain

• Next to these ladies, but in nought allied, Frets the meek soul, and then she's calm again ! - A noble peasant, Isaac Ashford, died. Her broken pitcher to the pool she takes,

Noble he was--contemning all things mean, And every step with cautious terror makes ; His truth unquestion'd, and his soul serene : For not alone ihat infant in her arms,

Of no man's presence Isaac felt afraid : But nearer cause, maternal fear, alarms!

Al no man's question Isaac look'd dismay'd: With water burden'd, then she picks her way,

Shame knew him not, he dreaded no disgrace," &c. Slowly and cautious, in the clinging clay;

“ Were others joyful, he look'd smiling on, Till in mid-green she trusts a place unsound, And gave allowance where he needed none; And deeply plunges in th' adhesive ground;

Yet far was he from stoic-pride remov'd; From whence her slender foot with pain she He felt, with many, and he warmly lov’d: lakes,' &c.

I mark'd his action, when his infant died, * And now her path, but not her peace, she gains, And an old neighbour for offence was tried ; Safe from her task, but shiv'ring with her pains;- The still tears, stealing down that furrow'd cheek, Her home she reaches, open leaves the door, Spoke pity, plainer than the tongue can speak,” &c. And placing first her infant on the floor,

pp. 111, 112. She bares her bosom to the wind, and sits, And sobbing struggles with the rising firs!

The rest of the character is drawn with In vain !--they come-she feels th' inflaming grief, equal spirit; but we can only make room for That shuts the swelling bosom from relief; the author's final commemoration of him. That speaks in feeble cries a soul distrest, Or the sad laugh that cannot be represt;

"I feel his absence in the hours of prayer, The neighbour-matron leaves her wheel, and flies And view his seai, and sigh for Isaac there! With all the aid her poverty supplies;

I see, no more, those white locks thinly spread, Unfee'd, the calls of nature she obeys,

Round the bald polish of that honour'd head; Nor led by profit, nor allur'd by praise ;

No more that awful glance on playful wight, And waiting long, till these contentions cease, Compell'd to kneel and iremble at the sight; She speaks of comfort, and departs in peace.”

To fold his fingers all in dread the while, pp. 77, 78. | Till Mr. Ashford soften'd to a smile !

p. 226.

No more that meek, that suppliant look in prayer, Shone softly-solemn and serene,
Nor that pure faith, chat gave it force-are ihere :- And all that time I gaz'd away,
But he is blest; and I lament no more,

The setting sun's sad rays were seen."
A wise good man contented to be poor."--p. 114.
We then bury the village midwife, super- Gipsy Convict, is another experiment of Mr.

“ The Hall of Justice," or the story of the seded in her old age by a volatile doctor; Crabbe's. It is very nervous-very shocking then a surly rustic misanthrope ; and last of -and very powerfully represented. The all, the reverend author's ancient sexton, woman is accused of stealing, and tells her whose chronicle of his various pastors is given rather at too great length. The poem ends story in impetuous and lofty language. with a simple recapitulation.

· My crime! this sick’ning child to feed, We think this the most important of the

Í seiz'd the food


witness saw; new pieces in the volume; and have ex

I knew your laws forbade the deed, tended our account of it so much, that we can

But yielded to a stronger law!”. afford to say but little of the others. "The “But I have griefs of other kind, Library” and “The Newspaper" are republi

Troubles and sorrows more severe;

Give me to ease my tortur'd mind, cations. They are written with a good deal

Lend to my woes a patient ear; of terseness, sarcasm, and beauty, but the

And let me-if I may not find subjects are not very interesting, and they will A friend to help-find one to hear. rather be approved, we think, than admired

“My mother dead, my father lost, or delighted in. We are not much taken either I wander'd with a vagrant crew; with “ The Birth Flattery.” With many A common care, a common cost, nervous lines and ingenious allusions, it has

Their sorrows and their sins I knew; something of the languor which seems insep

With them on want and error fore'd,

Like them, I base and guilty grew! arable from an allegory which exceeds the length of an epigram.

“So through the land I wand'ring went,

And little found of grief or joy ; "Sir Eustace Grey” is quite unlike any of

But lost my bosom's sweet content, the preceding compositions. It is written in

When first I lov'd the gypsy boy. a sort of lyric measure; and is intended to

A sturdy youth he was and tall, represent the perturbed fancies of the most

His looks would all his soul declare, terrible insanity settling by degrees into a His piercing eyes were deep and small, sort of devotional enthusiasm. The opening And strongly curl'd his raven hair. stanza, spoken by a visiter in the madhouse,

• Yes, Aaron had each manly charm, is very striking.

All in the May of youthful pride ;

He scarcely fear'd his father's arm, "I'll see no more !-the heart is torn

And every other arm defied. -
By view's of woe we cannot heal;

Oft when they grew in anger warm,
Long shall I see these things forlorn,

(Whom will not love and power divide ?) And oft again their griefs shall feel,

I rose, their wrathful souls to calm,
As each upon the mind shall steal;

Nor yet in sinful combat tried."
That wan projector's mystic style,

pp. 240—242, That luinpish idiot leering by, That peevish idler's ceaseless wile,

The father felon falls in love with the be. And that poor maiden's half-form'd smile, trothed of his son, whom he despatches on While struggling for the full-drawn sigh! some distant errand. The consummation of I'll know no more!"-p. 217.

his horrid passion is told in these powerful There is great force, both of language and stanzas :conception, in the wild narrative Sir Eustace “ The night was dark, the lanes were deep, gives of his frenzy; though we are not sure

And one by one they took their way; whether there is not something too elaborate,

He bade me lay me down and sleep!

I only wept, and wish'd for day. and too much worked up, in the picture. We

Accursed be the love he boregive only one image, which we think is orig

Accursed was the force he us'dinal. He supposed himself hurried along by

So let him of his God implore two tormenting demons.

For mercy ! --and be so refus'd!"-p. 243. “Through lands we fled, o'er seas we flew,

It is painful to follow the story out. The And halted on a boundless plain;

son returns, and privately murders his father; Where nothing fed, nor breath'd, nor grew, and then marries his widow! The profligate But silence rul'd the still domain.

barbarity of the life led by those outcasts is “Upon that boundless plain, below,

forcibly expressed by the simple parrative of The setting sun's last rays were shed,

the lines that follow:And gave a mild and sober glow,

“ I brought a lovely daughter forth, Where all were still, asleep, or dead;

His father's child, in Aaron's bed!
Vast ruins in the midst were spread,

He took her from me in his wrath,
Pillars and pediments sublime,

Where is my child ?'—' Thy child is dead.'
Where the grey moss had form'd a bed,
And cloth'd ihe crumbling spoils of Time. “ 'Twas false! We wander'd far and wide,

Through town and country, field and fen, “ There was I fix'd, I know not how,

Till Aaron fighting, fell and died,
Condemn'd for untold years to stay;

And I became a wife again."-p. 248.
Yet years were not ;-one dreadful now,
Endur'd no change of night or day ;

We have not room to give the sequel of this The same mild evening's sleeping ray

dreadful ballad. It certainly is not pleasing reading; but it is written with very unusual, enough to pass judgment on her future propower of language, and shows Mr. Crabbe to geny: But we trust

, that a larger portion of have great mastery over the tragic passions of public favour than has hitherto been dealt to pity and horror. The volume closes with some him will encourage him to greater efforts; and verses of no great value in praise of Women. that he will soon appear again among the

We part with regret from Mr. Crabbe; but worthy supporters of the old poetical estabwe hope to meet with him again. If his muse, lishment, and come in time to surpass the to be sure, is prolific only once in twenty-four revolutionists in fast firing, as well as in weight years, we can scarcely expect to live long of metal.

(April, 1810.) The Borough: a Poem, in Twenty-four Letters. By the Rev. GEORGE CRABBE, LL. B.

8vo. pp. 344. London: 1810. We are very glad to meet with Mr. Crabbe by far the greater part of his poetry is of a so soon again; and particularly glad to find, that different and a higher character; and aims his early return has been occasioned, in part, at moving or delighting us by lively, touchby the encouragement he received on his last ing, and finely contrasted representations of appearance. This late spring of public favour, the dispositions, sufferings, and occupations we hope, he will yet live to see ripen into ma- of those ordinary persons who form the far ture fame. We scarcely know any poet who greater part of our fellow-creatures. This, deserves it better; and are quite certain there too, he has sought to effect, merely by placing is none who is more secure of keeping with before us the clearest, most brief, and most posterity whatever he may win from his con- striking sketches of their external conditiontemporaries.

the most sagacious and unexpected strokes The present poem is precisely of the char- of character-and the truest and most pathetic acter of The Village and The Parish Register. pictures of natural feeling and common sufferIt has the same peculiarities, and the same ing. By the mere force of his art, and the faults and beauties; though a severe critic novelty of his style, he forces us to attend might perhaps add, that its peculiarities are to objects that are usually neglected, and to more obtrusive, its faults greater, and its beau- enter into feelings from which we are in geneties less. However that be, both faults and ral but too eager to escape ;-and then trusts beauties are so plainly produced by the pe- to nature for the effect of the representation. culiarity, that it may be worth while, before It is obvious, at first sight, that this is not a giving any more particular account of it, to try task for an ordinary hand; and that many inif we can ascertain in what that consists.

genious writers, who make a very good figure And here we shall very speedily discover, with battles, nymphs, and moonlight landthat Mr. Crabbe is distinguished from all other scapes, would find themselves quite helpless, poets, both by the choice of his subjects, and if set down among streets, harbours, and by his manner of treating them. All his per- taverns. The difficulty of such subjects, in sons are taken from the lower ranks of life; short, is sufficiently visibleand some of and all his scenery from the most ordinary the causes of that difficulty: But they have and familiar objects of nature or art. His their advantages also ;-and of these, and characters and incidents, too, are as common their hazards, it seems natural to say a few as the elements out of which they are com- words, before entering more minutely into the pounded are humble; and not only has he merits of the work before us. nothing prodigious or astonishing in any of The first great advantage of such familiar his representations, but he has not even at- subjects is, that every one is necessarily well tempted to impart any of the ordinary colours acquainted with the originals; and is thereof poetry to those vulgar materials. He has fore sure to feel all that pleasure, from a no moralising swains or sentimental trades- faithful representation of them, which results men; and scarcely ever seeks to charm us by from the perception of a perfect and successthe artless graces or lowly virtues of his per- ful imitation. In the kindred art of painting, sonages. On the contrary, he has represented we find that this single consideration has been his villagers and humble burghers as alto- sufficient to stamp a very high value upon gether as dissipated, and more dishonest and accurate and lively delineations of objects, in discontented, than the profligates of higher themselves uninteresting, and even disagreelife; and, instead of conducting us through able; and no very inconsiderable part of the blooming groves and pastoral meadows, has pleasure which may be derived from Mr. Jed us along filthy lanes and crowded wharfs, Crabbe's poetry may probably be referred to to hospitals, alms-houses, and gin-shops. In its mere truth and fidelity; and to the brevity some of these delineations, he may be con- and clearness with which he sets before his sidered as the Satirist of low life-an occupa- readers, objects and characters with which tion sufficiently arduous, and, in a great de- they have been all their days familiar. gree, new and original in our language. But In his happier passages, however, he has a

higher merit, and imparts a far higher grati- Jors, ploughmen, and artificers. If the poet fication. The chief delight of poetry consists, can contrive, therefore, to create a sufficient not so much in what it directly supplies to interest in subjects like these, they will intalthe imagination, as in what it enables it to libly sink deeper into the mind, and be more supply to itself;--not in warming the heart prolific of kindred trains of emotion, than subby its passing brightness, but in kindling its jects of greater dignity. Nor is the difficulty own latent stores of light and heat ;-not in of exciting such an interest by any means so hurrying the fancy along by a foreign and ac- great as is generally imagined. For it is cidental impulse, but in setting it agoing, by common human nature, and common human touching its internal springs and principles of feelings, after all, that form the true source activity. Now, this highest and most delight of interest in poetry of every description ;ful effect can only be produced by the poet's and the splendour and the marvels by which striking a note to which the heart and the affec- it is sometimes surrounded, serve no other tions naturally vibrate in unison ;-by rousing purpose than to fix our attention on those one of a large family of kindred impressions;= workings of the heart, and those energies of by dropping the rich seed of his fancy upon the the understanding, which alone command all fertile and sheltered places of the imagination. the genuine sympathies of human beings+ But it is evident, that the emotions connected and which may be found as abundantly in the with common and familiar objects—with ob- breasts of cottagers as of kings. Wherever jects which fill every man's memory, and are there are human beings, therefore, with feel. necessarily associated with all that he has ings and characters to be represented, our at. ever really felt or fancied, are of all others tention may be fixed by the art of the poetthe most likely to answer this description, and by his judicious selection of circumstancesto produce, where they can be raised to a suf- by the force and vivacity of his style, and the ficient height, this great effect in its utmost clearness and brevity of his representations. perfection. It is for this reason that the images In point of fact, we are all touched more and affections that belong to our universal na- deeply, as well as more frequently, in real ture, are always, if tolerably represented, in- life, with the sufferings of peasants than of finitely more captivating, in spite of their princes; and sympathise much oftener, and apparent commonness and simplicity, than more heartily, with the successes of the poor, those that are peculiar to certain situations, than of the rich and distinguished. The ochowever they may come recommended by casions of such seelings are indeed so many; novelty or grandeur. 'The familiar feeling of and so common, that they do not often leave maternal tenderness and anxiety, which is any very permanent traces behind them, but every day before our eyes, even in the brute pass away, and are effaced by the very rapidity creation—and the enchantment of youthful of their succession. The business and the love, which is nearly the same in all charac- | cares, and the pride of the world, obstruct the ters, ranks, and situations—still contribute far development of the emotions to which they more to the beauty and interest of poetry than would naturally give rise; and press so close all the misfortunes of princes, the jealousies of and thick upon the mind, as to shut it, at most heroes, and the feats of giants, magicians, or seasons, against the reflections that are perladies in armour. Every one can enter into petually seeking for admission. When we the former set of feelings; and but a few have leisure, however, to look quietly into our into the latter. The one calls up a thousand hearts, we shall find in them an infinite mul. familiar and long-remembered emotions—titude of little fragments of sympathy with which are answered and reflected on every our brethren in humble life-abortive moveside by the kindred impressions which ex- ments of compassion, and embryos of kindness perience or observation have traced upon and concern, which had once fairly begun to every memory: while the other lights up but live and germinate within them, though with. a transient and unfruitful blaze, and passes ered and broken off by the selfish bustle and away without perpetuating itself in any kin- fever of our daily occupations. Now, all these dred and native sensation.

may be revived and carried on to maturity by Now, the delineation of all that concerns the art of the poet ;-and, therefore, a powerthe lower and most numerous classes of so- ful effort to interest us in the feelings of the ciety, is, in this respect, on a footing with the humble and obscure, will usually call forth pictures of our primary affections—that their more deep, more numerous, and more perma-, originals are necessarily familiar to all men, nent emotions, than can ever be excited by and are inseparably associated with their own the fate of princesses and heroes. Indepenmost interesting impressions. Whatever may dent of the circumstances to which we have be our own condition, we all live surrounded already alluded, there are causes which make with the poor, from infancy to age ;—we hear us at all times more ready to enter into the daily of their sufferings and misfortunes ;- feelings of the humble, than of the exalted and their toils, their crimes, or their pastimes, part of our species. Our sympathy with their are our hourly spectacle. Many diligent enjoyments is enhanced by a certain mixture readers of poetry know little, by their own of pity for their general condition, which, by experience, of palaces, castles, or camps; and purifying it from that taint of envy which alstill less of tyrants, warriors, and banditti;- most always adheres to our admiration of the but every one understands about cottages, great, renders it more welcome and satisfacstreets, and villages; and conceives, pretty tory to our bosoms; while our concern for their correctly, the character and condition of sail- sufferings is at once softened and endeared to

than any


for ever.

us, by the recollection of our own exemption and anatomical precision; and must make from them, and by the feeling, that we fre- both himself and his readers familiar with the quently have it in our power to relieve them. ordinary trails and general family features of

From these, and from other causes, it ap- the beings among whom they are to move, bepears to us to be certain, that where subjects, fore they can either understand, or take much taken from humble life, can be made suffi- interest in the individuals who are to eligross ciently interesting to overcome the distaste their attention. Thus far, there is no excess and the prejudices with which the usages of or unnecessary minuteness. But this faculty polished society too generally lead us to re- of observation, and this power of descriptior, gard them, the interest which they excite will hold out great temptations 10 go further. commonly be more profourd and more lasting There is a pride and a delight in the exercise

that be raised upon loftier of all peculiar power ;; and the poet, who has themes ; and the poet of the Village and the learned to describe external objects exquiBorough be oftener, and longer read, than the sítely, with a view to heighten the effect of poet of the Court or the Camp. The most his moral designs, and to draw characters popular passages of Shakespeare and Cowper, with accuracy, to help forward the interest or we think, are of this description: and there is the pathos of the picture, will be in great danmuch, both in the volume before us, and in ger of describing scenes, and drawing charMr. Crabbe's former publications, to which acters, for no other purpose, but to indulge his we might now venture to refer, as proofs of taste, and to display his talents. It cannot be the same doctrine. When such representa- denied, we think, that Mr. Crabbe has, on tions have once made an impression on the many occasions, yielded to this templation. imagination, they are remembered daily, and He is led away, every now and then, by his

We can neither look around, nor lively conception of external objects, and by within us, without being reminded of their his nice and sagacious observation of human truth and their importance; and, while the character; and wantons and luxuriates in demore brilliant effusions of romantic fancy are scriptions and moral portrait painting, while recalled only at long intervals, and in rare his readers are left to wonder to what end so situations, we feel that we cannot walk a step mych industry has been exerted. from our own doors, nor cast a glance back on His chief fault, however, is his frequent our departed years, without being indebted to lapse into disgusting representations; and the poet of vulgar life for some striking image this, we will confess, is an error for which we or touching reflection, of which the occasions find it far more difficult either 10 account or were always before us, but-till he taught us to apologise. We are not, however, of the how to improve them—were almost always | opinion which we have often heard stated,

that he has represented human nature under Such, we conceive, are some of the advan- too unfavourable an aspect; or that the distages of the subjects which Mr. Crabbe has taste which his poetry sometimes produces, in a great measure introduced into modern is owing merely to the painful nature of the poetry :—and such the grounds upon which scenes and subjects with which it abounds. we venture to predict the durability of the On the contrary, we think he has given a justreputation which he is in the course of ac- er, as well as a more striking picture, of the quiring. That they have their disadvantages true character and situation of the lower oralso, is obvious; and it is no less obvious, that ders of this country, than any other writer, it is to these we must ascribe the greater part whether in verse or in prose; and that he has of the faults and deformities with which this made no more use of painful emotions than author is fairly chargeable. The two great was necessary to the production of a pathetic errors into which he has fallen, are—that he effect. has described many things not worth describ- All powerful and pathetic poetry; it is obing;—and that he has frequently excited dis- vious, abounds in images of distress. The gust, instead of pity or indignation, in the delight which it bestows partakes strongly of breasts of his readers. These faults are ob- pain; and, by a sort of contradiction, which vious—and, we believe, are popularly laid to has long engaged the attention of the reflecthis charge: Yet there is, in so far as we have ing, the compositions that attract us most observed, a degree of misconception as to the powerfully, and detain us the longest, are • true grounds and limits of the charge, which those that produce in us most of the effects of

We think it worth while to take this opportu- actual suffering and wretchedness. The conity of correcting.

lution of this paradox is to be found, we think, The poet of humble life must describe a in the simple fact, that pain is a far stronger great deal—and must even describe, minutely, sensation than pleasure, in human existence; many things which possess in themselves no and that the cardinal virtue of all things that beauty or grandeur. The reader's fancy must are intended to delight the mind, is to produce be awaked—and the power of his own pencil a strong sensation. Life itself appears to condisplayed :-a distinct locality and imaginary sist in sensation ; and the universal passion reality must be given to his characters and of all beings that have life, seems to be, that agents: and the ground colour of their com- they should be made intensely conscious of mon condition must be laid in, before his pe- it

, by a succession of powerful and engrossing culiar and selected groups can be presented emotions. All the mere gratifications or natuwith any effect or advantage. In the same ral pleasures that are in the power even of the way, he must study characters with a minute I most fortunate, are quite insufficient to fill this

allowed to escape:

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