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workhouse, where the wheel hummed doleful through the day-to erring damsels and luckless swains, the prey of overseers or justices -or to the haunts of 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 non-resident 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 sorrow
Still we tread the same coarse way,
The present's still a cloudy day. The minuteness with which he dwells on such subjects sometimes makes his descriptions tedious, and apparently unfeeling. He drags forward every defect, every vice and failing, not for the purpose of educing something good out of the evil, but, as it would seem, merely for the purpose of completing the picture. In his higher flights, where scenes of strong passion, vice, or remorse are depicted, Crabbe is a moral poet, purifying the heart, as the object of tragedy has been defined, by terror and pity, and by fearful delineations of the misery and desolation caused by unbridled passion. His story of Sir Eustace Grey is a domestic tragedy of this kind, related with almost terrific power, and with lyrical energy of versification. His general style of versification is the couplet of Pope-he has been wittily called "Pope in worsted stockings'-but less flowing and melodious, and often ending in points and quibbles. Thus, in describing his cottage fur niture, he says
No wheels are here for either wool or flax,
But packs of cards made up of sundry packs.
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 plant—the purple bloom of the heath, the dwarfish flowers among the wild gorse, the slender grass of the sheepwalk, and eves the pebbles, sea-weed, and shells amid
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, mounted his horse and rode alone sixty miles from his house, that he might inhale its freshness and gaze upon its waters. The Parish Workhouse and Apothecary. From · The Village.'
Theirs is yon house that holds the parish poor,
Here too the sick their final doom receive,
Such is that room which one rude beam divides,
Save one dull pane, that, coarsely patched, gives way
But soon a loud and hasty summons calls,
Paid by the parish for attendance here,
Isaac Ashford, a Noble Peasant. — From the Parish Register.'
Next to these ladies, but in nought allied,
Nor pride in learning, though my clerk agreed,
He had no party's rage, no sect'ry's whim;
In times severe, when many a sturdy swain
honest fame, he kept no more ;
Kind are your lawg—'tis not to be denied
Such were his thoughts, and so resigned he grew;
I feel his absence in the hours of prayer,
Phæbe Dawson. From the ' Parish Register.'
Two summers since, I saw at Lammas fair, The sweetest flower that ever blossomed there; When Phæbe 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 you h and health her eyes displayed, And ease 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 Phæbe 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 Phæbe 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 greenSeen by but few, and blushing to be seenDejected, thoughtful, anxious, and afraidLed 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, Till chidden-soothed-entreated-forced away i He would of coldness, though indulged, complain, And oft retire and oft return again; When, if his teasing vexed her gentle mind, The grief assumed compelled her to be kind ! For he would proof of plighted kindness crave, That she resented first, and then forgave, And to his grief and penance yielded more Than his presumption had required before:
Ah! fly temptation, youth; refrain ! refrain !"
Each yielding maid and each presuming swain!. Lo! now with red rent cloak and bonnet black, And torn green gown loose hanging at her back,