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And festive joy sedate; that ancient garb
The Impressed Sailor Boy. [From the 'Birds of Scotland.'"] Low in a glen, Down which a little stream had furrowed deep, "Tween meeting birchen boughs, a shelvy channel, And brawling mingled with the western tide; Far up that stream, almost beyond the roar Of storm-bulged breakers, foaming o'er the rocks With furious dash, a lowly dwelling lurked, Surrounded by a circlet of the stream. Before the wattled door, a greensward plat, With daisies gay, pastured a playful lamb; A pebbly path, deep worn, led up the hill, Winding among the trees, by wheel untouched, Save when the winter fuel was brought homeOne of the poor man's yearly festivals. On every side it was a sheltered spot, So high and suddenly the woody steeps Arose. One only way, downward the stream, Just o'er the hollow, 'tween the meeting boughs, The distant wave was seen, with now and then The glimpse of passing sail; but when the breeze Crested the distant wave, this little nook Was all so calm, that, on the limberest spray, The sweet bird chanted motionless, the leaves At times scarce fluttering. Here dwelt a pair, Poor, humble, and content; one son alone, Their William, happy lived at home to bless Their downward years; he, simple youth, With boyish fondness, fancied he could love A seaman's life, and with the fishers sailed, To try their ways far 'mong the western isles, Far as St Kilda's rock-walled shore abrupt, O'er which he saw ten thousand pinions wheel Confused, dimming the sky: these dreary shores Gladly he left-he had a homeward heart: No more his wishes wander to the waves. But still he loves to cast a backward look, And tell of all he saw, of all he learned; Of pillared Staffa, lone Iona's isle, Where Scotland's kings are laid; of Lewis, Skye, And of the mainland mountain-circled lochs; And he would sing the rowers timing chant And chorus wild. Once on a summer's eve, When low the sun behind the Highland hills Was almost set, he sung that song to cheer
The aged folks; upon the inverted quern
To My Son.
Twice has the sun commenced his annual round,
And trace to him the way, the truth, the life.
The Thanksgiving off Cape Trafalgar. Upon the high, yet gently rolling wave, The floating tomb that heaves above the brave, Soft sighs the gale that late tremendous roared, Whelming the wretched remnants of the sword. And now the cannon's peaceful thunder calls The victor bands to mount their wooden walls, And from the ramparts, where their comrades fell, The mingled strain of joy and grief to swell: Fast they ascend, from stem to stern they spread, And crowd the engines whence the lightnings sped: The white-robed priest his upraised hands extends; Hushed is each voice, attention leaning bends; Then from each prow the grand hosannas rise, Float o'er the deep, and hover to the skies. Heaven fills each heart; yet home will oft intrude, And tears of love celestial joys exclude. The wounded man, who hears the soaring strain, Lifts his pale visage, and forgets his pain; While parting spirits, mingling with the lay, On hallelujahs wing their heavenward way.
The REV. GEORGE CRABBE, whom Byron has characterised as 'Nature's sternest painter, yet the best,' was of humble origin, and born at Aldborough, in Suffolk, on the Christmas eve of 1754. His father was collector of the salt duties, or salt-master, as he was termed, and though of poor circumstances and violent temper, he exerted himself to give George a superior education. It is pleasing to know that the old man lived to reap his reward, in
witnessing the celebrity of his son, and to transcribe, with parental fondness, in his own handwriting, his poem of The Library. Crabbe has described the unpromising scene of his nativity with his usual
force and correctness :
Lo! where the heath, with withering brake grown
o'er, Lends the light turf that warms the neighbouring poor; From thence a length of burning sand appears, Where the thin harvest waves its withered ears; Rank weeds, that every art and care defy, Reign o'er the land, and rob the blighted rye: There thistles stretch their prickly arms afar, And to the ragged infant threaten war; There poppies nodding, mock the hope of toil; There the blue bugloss paints the sterile soil; Hardy and high, above the slender sheaf, The slimy mallow waves her silky leaf; O'er the young shoot the charlock throws a shade, And clasping tares cling round the sickly blade; With mingled tints the rocky coasts abound, And a sad splendour vainly shines around. So looks the nymph whom wretched arts adorn, Betrayed by man, then left for man to scorn; Whose cheek in vain assumes the mimic rose, While her sad eyes the troubled breast disclose; Whose outward splendour is but folly's dress, Exposing most, when most it gilds distress.
The poet was put apprentice in his fourteenth year to a surgeon, and afterwards practised in Aldborough;
Birthplace of Crabbe.
to only three pounds. Having completed some poetical pieces, he offered them for publication, but they were rejected. In the course of the year, however, he issued a poetical epistle, The Candidate, addressed to the authors of the Monthly Review. It was coldly received, and his publisher failing at the same time, the young poet was plunged into great perplexity and want. He wrote to the premier, Lord North, to the lord-chancellor Thurlow, and to other noblemen, requesting assistance; but in no case was an answer returned. At length, when his affairs were desperate, he applied to Edmund Burke, and in a modest yet manly statement, disclosed to him the situation in which he stood. Burke received him into his own house, and exercised towards him the most generous hospitality. While under his happy roof, the poet met Mr Fox, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and others of the statesman's distinguished friends. In the same year (1781) he published his poem, The Library,' which was favourably noticed by the critics. Lord Thurlow (who now, as in the case of Cowper, came with tardy notice and ungraceful generosity) invited him to breakfast, and at parting, presented him with a bank-note for a hundred pounds. Crabbe entered into sacred orders, and was licensed as curate to the rector of his native parish of Aldborough. In a short time, Burke procured for him the situation of chaplain to the Duke of Rutland at Belvoir castle. This was a great advancement for the poor poet, and he never afterwards was in fear of want. He seems, however, to have felt all the ills of dependence on the great, and in his poem of The Patron, and other parts of his writings, has strongly depicted the evils of such a situation. In 1783 appeared his poem, The Village, which had been seen and corrected by Johnson and Burke. Its success was instant and complete. Some of the descriptions in the poem (as that of the parishi workhouse) were copied into all the periodicals, and took that place in our national literature which they still retain. Thurlow presented him with two small
livings then in his gift, telling him at the same the unassumingness of his manners with the origitime, with an oath, that he was as like Parson nality of his powers. In what may be called the Adams as twelve to a dozen. The poet now married ready-money small-talk of conversation, his facility a young lady of Suffolk, the object of an early at- might not perhaps seem equal to the known calibre tachment, and taking the curacy of Stathern, ad- of his talents; but in the progress of conversation, I joining Belvoir castle, he bade adieu to the ducal recollect remarking that there was a vigilant shrewdmansion, and transferred himself to the humbleness that almost eluded you, by keeping its watch parsonage in the village. Four happy years were so quietly.' This fine remark is characteristic of spent in this retirement, when the poet obtained Crabbe's genius, as well as of his manners. It the exchange of his two small livings in Dorset- gathered its materials slowly and silently with inshire for two of superior value in the vale of Bel- tent but unobtrusive observation. The Tales of voir. Crabbe remained silent as a poet for many the Hall' were received with that pleasure and apyears. Out of doors,' says his son, he had always probation due to an old and established favourite, some object in view-a flower, or a pebble, or his but with less enthusiasm than some of his previous note-book in his hand; and in the house, if he was works. In 1822, the now venerable poet paid a not writing, he was reading. He read aloud very visit to Sir Walter Scott in Edinburgh; and it is often, even when walking, or seated by the side of worthy of remark, that, as to the city itself, he soon his wife in the huge old-fashioned one-horse chaise, got wearied of the New Town, but could amuse heavier than a modern chariot, in which they usually himself for ever in the Old. His latter years were were conveyed in their little excursions, and the spent in the discharge of his clerical duties, and conduct of which he, from awkwardness and absence in the enjoyment of social intercourse. His atof mind, prudently relinquished to my mother on tachment to botany and geology seemed to increase all occasions.' In 1807 he published his Parish with age; and at threescore and ten, he was busy, Register, which had been previously submitted to cheerful, and affectionate. His death took place at Mr Fox, and parts of this poem (especially the story Trowbridge on the 3d of February 1832, and his of Phoebe Dawson) were the last compositions of parishioners erected a monument to his memory in their kind that 'engaged and amused the capacious, the church of that place, where he had officiated for the candid, the benevolent mind of this great man.' nineteen years. A complete collection of his works, The success of this work was not only decided, but with some new pieces and an admirable memoir, nearly unprecedented. In 1810 he came forward was published in 1834 by his son, the Rev. G. Crabbe. with The Borough, a poem of the same class, and The Village,' 'Parish Register,' and shorter tales more connected and complete; and two years after- of Crabbe are his most popular productions. The wards he produced his Tales in Verse, containing Tales of the Hall' are less interesting. They relate perhaps the finest of all his humble but happy deli- principally to the higher classes of society, and the neations of life and character. The public voice,' poet was not so happy in describing their pecusays his biographer, was again highly favourable, liarities as when supporting his character of the and some of these relations were spoken of with the poet of the poor. Some of the episodes, however, utmost warmth of commendation, as, the Parting are in his best style-Sir Owen Dale, Ruth, Ellen, Hour, the Patron, Edward Shore, and the Confidant.' and other stories, are all marked with the peculiar In 1814 the Duke of Rutland appointed him to the genius of Crabbe. The redeeming and distinguishing living of Trowbridge, in Wiltshire, and he went feature of that genius was its fidelity to nature, even thither to reside. His income amounted to about when it was dull and unprepossessing. His power £800 per annum, a large portion of which he spent of observation and description might be limited, but in charity. He still continued his attachment to his pictures have all the force of dramatic represenliterature, and in 1817 and 1818, was engaged on his tation, and may be compared to those actual and last great work, the Tales of the Hall. He fancied existing models which the sculptor or painter works that autumn was, on the whole, the most favourable from, instead of vague and general conceptions. season for him in the composition of poetry; but They are often too true, and human nature being exthere was something in the effect of a sudden fall of hibited in its naked reality, with all its defects, and snow that appeared to stimulate him in a very ex- not through the bright and alluring medium of traordinary manner.' In 1819 the Tales were pub- romance or imagination, our vanity is shocked and lished by Mr Murray, who, for them and the re- our pride mortified. His anatomy of character and maining copyright of all Crabbe's previous poems, passion harrows up our feelings, and leaves us in gave the munificent sum of £3000. In an account the end sad and ashamed of our common nature. of the negotiation for the sale of these copyrights, The personal circumstances and experience of the written by Mr Moore for the life of his brother poet affected the bent of his genius. He knew how poet, we have the following amusing illustration of untrue and absurd were the pictures of rural life Crabbe's simplicity of manner :- When he received which figured in poetry. His own youth was dark the bills for £3000, we (Moore and Rogers) earnestly and painful-spent in low society, amidst want and advised that he should, without delay, deposit them misery, irascible gloom and passion. Latterly, he in some safe hands; but no-he must "take them had more of the comforts and elegances of social life with him to Trowbridge, and show them to his son at his command than Cowper, his rival as a domestic John. They would hardly believe in his good luck painter. He not only could have wheeled his sofa at home if they did not see the bills." On his way round,' 'let fall the curtains, and, with the bubbling down to Trowbridge, a friend at Salisbury, at whose and loud hissing urn' on the table welcome peaceful house he rested (Mr Everett, the banker), seeing evening in,' but the amenities of refined and intellecthat he carried these bills loosely in his waistcoat tual society were constantly present with him, or at pocket, requested to be allowed to take charge of his call. Yet he did not, like Cowper, attempt to them for him; but with equal ill success. "There describe them, or to paint their manifold charms. was no fear," he said, "of his losing them, and he When he took up his pen, his mind turned to Aldmust show them to his son John."' Another borough and its wild amphibious race-to the parish poetical friend, Mr Campbell, who met him at this work house, where the wheel hummed doleful through time in London, remarks of him-'His mildness in the day-to erring damsels and luckless swains, the literary argument struck me with surprise in so prey of overseers or justices-or to the haunts of stern a poet of nature, and I could not but contrast desperate poachers and smugglers, gipsies and
gamblers, where vice and misery stalked undisguised in their darkest forms. He stirred up the dregs of human society, and exhibited their blackness and deformity, yet worked them into poetry. Like his own Sir Richard Monday, he never forgot the parish. It is true that village life in England in its worst form, with the old poor and game laws and nonresident clergy, was composed of various materials, some bright and some gloomy, and Crabbe drew them all. His Isaac Ashford is as honourable to the lowly English poor as the Jeanie Deans or Dandie Dinmont of Scott are to the Scottish character. His story of the real mourner, the faithful maid who watched over her dying sailor, is a beautiful tribute to the force and purity of humble affection. In the 'Parting Hour' and the 'Patron' are also passages equally honourable to the poor and middle classes, and full of pathetic and graceful composition. It must be confessed, however, that Crabbe was in general a gloomy painter of life— that he was fond of depicting the unlovely and unamiable and that, either for poetic effect or from painful experience, he makes the bad of life predominate over the good. His pathos and tenderness are generally linked to something coarse, startling, or humiliating-to disappointed hopes or unavailing
Still we tread the same coarse way,
No wheels are here for either wool or flax,
The minuteness with which he dwells on such sub-
Heaven in her eye, and in her hand her keys. This jingling style heightens the effect of his humorous and homely descriptions; but it is too much of a manner, and mars the finer passages. Crabbe has high merit as a painter of English scenery. He is here as original and forcible as in delineating character. His marine landscapes are peculiarly fresh and striking; and he invests even the sterile fens and barren sands with interest. His objects are seldom picturesque; but he noted every weed and plar.t-the purple bloom of the heath, the dwarfish flowers among the wild gorse, the slender grass of the sheep walk, and even the pebbles, sea-weed, and shells amid
mounted his horse and rode alone sixty miles from his house, that he might inhale its freshness and gaze upon its waters.
The glittering waters on the shingles rolled. He was a great lover of the sea, and once, as his son relates, after being some time absent from it,
[The Parish Workhouse and Apothecary.]
Theirs is yon house that holds the parish poor,
Here too the sick their final doom receive,
And strong compulsion plucks the scrap from pride;
His thrifty housewife, Widow Goe, falls down in Shakes the thin roof, and echoes round the walls;
But soon a loud and hasty summons calls,
Such is that room which one rude beam divides,
Anon, a figure enters, quaintly neat,
Paid by the parish for attendance here,
[Isaac Ashford, a Noble Peasant.] [From the Parish Register."]
Next to these ladies, but in nought allied, A noble peasant, Isaac Ashford, died. Noble he was, contemning all things mean, His truth unquestioned and his soul serene: Of no man's presence Isaac felt afraid; At no man's question Isaac looked dismayed: Shame knew him not, he dreaded no disgrace; Truth, simple truth, was written in his face; Yet while the serious thought his soul approved, Cheerful he seemed, and gentleness he loved; To bliss domestic he his heart resigned, And with the firmest, had the fondest mind: Were others joyful, he looked smiling on, And gave allowance where he needed none; Good he refused with future ill to buy, Nor knew a joy that caused reflection's sigh; A friend to virtue, his unclouded breast No envy stung, no jealousy distressed; (Bane of the poor! it wounds their weaker mind To miss one favour which their neighbours find) Yet far was he from stoic-pride removed; He felt humanely, and he warmly loved: I marked his action when his infant died, And his old neighbour for offence was tried; The still tears, stealing down that furrowed cheek, Spoke pity plainer than the tongue can speak. If pride were his, 'twas not their vulgar pride, Who, in their base contempt, the great deride; Nor pride in learning, though my clerk agreed, If fate should call him, Ashford might succeed; Nor pride in rustic skill, although we knew None his superior, and his equals few: But if that spirit in his soul had place, It was the jealous pride that shuns disgrace; A pride in honest fame, by virtue gained, In sturdy boys to virtuous labours trained; Pride in the power that guards his country's coast, And all that Englishmen enjoy and boast; Pride in a life that slander's tongue defied, In fact, a noble passion, misnamed pride.
He had no party's rage, no sect'ry's whim;
In times severe, when many a sturdy swain
At length he found, when seventy years were run, His strength departed and his labour done; When, save his honest fame, he kept no more; But lost his wife and saw his children poor; 'Twas then a spark of-say not discontentStruck on his mind, and thus he gave it vent:
'Kind are your laws ('tis not to be denied), That in yon house for ruined age provide, And they are just; when young, we give you all, And then for comforts in our weakness call. Why then this proud reluctance to be fed, To join your poor and eat the parish-bread? But yet I linger, loath with him to feed Who gains his plenty by the sons of need: He who, by contract, all your paupers took, And gauges stomachs with an anxious look: On some old master I could well depend; See him with joy and thank him as a friend; But ill on him who doles the day's supply, And counts our chances who at night may die :
Yet help me, Heaven! and let me not complain Of what befalls me, but the fate sustain.'
Such were his thoughts, and so resigned he grew; Daily he placed the workhouse in his view! But came not there, for sudden was his fate, He dropt expiring at his cottage-gate.
I feel his absence in the hours of prayer, And view his seat, and sigh for Isaac there; I see no more those white locks thinly spread Round the bald polish of that honoured head; No more that awful glance on playful wight Compelled to kneel and tremble at the sight; To fold his fingers all in dread the while, Till Mister Ashford softened to a smile; No more that meek and suppliant look in prayer, Nor the pure faith (to give it force) are there:.... But he is blest, and lament no more,
A wise good man contented to be poor.
[From the Parish Register."]
Two summers since, I saw at Lammas fair, The sweetest flower that ever blossomed there; When Phoebe Dawson gaily crossed the green, In haste to see and happy to be seen; Her air, her manners, all who saw, admired, Courteous though coy, and gentle though retired; The joy of youth and health her eyes displayed, And case of heart her every look conveyed; A native skill her simple robes expressed, As with untutored elegance she dressed; The lads around admired so fair a sight, And Phoebe felt, and felt she gave, delight. Admirers soon of every age she gained, Her beauty won them and her worth retained; Envy itself could no contempt display, They wished her well, whom yet they wished away; Correct in thought, she judged a servant's place Preserved a rustic beauty from disgrace; But yet on Sunday-eve, in freedom's hour, With secret joy she felt that beauty's power; When some proud bliss upon the heart would steal, That, poor or rich, a beauty still must feel.
At length, the youth ordained to move her breast, Before the swains with bolder spirit pressed; With looks less timid made his passion known, And pleased by manners, most unlike her own; Loud though in love, and confident though young; Fierce in his air, and voluble of tongue; By trade a tailor, though, in scorn of trade, He served the squire, and brushed the coat he made; Yet now, would Phoebe her consent afford, Her slave alone, again he'd mount the board; With her should years of growing love be spent, And growing wealth :-she sighed and looked consent. Now, through the lane, up hill, and cross the green, (Seen by but few and blushing to be seenDejected, thoughtful, anxious, and afraid) Led by the lover, walked the silent maid: Slow through the meadows roved they many a mile, Toyed by each bank and trifled at each stile; Where, as he painted every blissful view, And highly coloured what he strongly drew, The pensive damsel, prone to tender fears, Dimmed the false prospect with prophetic tears: Thus passed the allotted hours, till, lingering late, The lover loitered at the master's gate;
There he pronounced adieu! and yet would stay,