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CRABBE's PoEMs — siR EUSTACE GREY. 291
I mark'd his action, when his infant died, And an old neighbour for offence was tried; The still tears, stealing down that furrow'd cheek, Spoke pity plainer than the tongue can speak,” &c. p. 111, 112. The rest of the character is drawn with equal spirit; but we can only make room for the author's final commemoration of him. “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, Compell'd to kneel and tremble at the sight; To fold his fingers all in dread the while, Till Mr. Ashford soften’d to a smile ! No more that meek, that suppliant look in prayer, Nor that pure faith, that gave it force—are there: — But he is blest; and I lament no more A wise good man contented to be poor.” — p. 114.
We then bury the village midwife, superseded in her old age by a volatile doctor; then a surly rustic misanthrope; and last of all, the reverend author's ancient sexton, whose chronicle of his various pastors is given rather at too great length. The poem ends with a simple recapitulation.
We think this the most important of the new pieces in the volume; and have extended our account of it so much, that we can afford to say but little of the others. “The Library” and “The Newspaper” are republications. They are written with a good deal of terseness, sarcasm, and beauty; but the subjects are not very interesting, and they will rather be approved, we think, than admired or delighted in. We are not much taken either with “The Birth of Flattery.” With many nervous lines and ingenious allusions, it has something of the languor which seems inseparable from an allegory which exceeds the length of an epigram.
“Sir Eustace Grey” is quite unlike any of the preceding compositions. It is written in a sort of lyric measure; and is intended to represent the perturbed fancies of the most terrible insanity settling by degrees
Q92 CRABBE — SIR EU STACE GREY.
into a sort of devotional enthusiasm. The opening stanza, spoken by a visitor in the madhouse, is very striking.
“I’ll see no more 1 — the heart is torn
There is great force both of language and conception, in the wild narrative Sir Eustace gives of his frenzy; though we are not sure whether there is not something too elaborate, and too much worked up, in the picture. We give only one image, which we think is original. He supposed himself hurried along by two tormenting demons.
“Through lands we fled, o'er seas we flew,
“Upon that boundless plain, below,
The setting sun's last rays were shed,
And gave a mild and sober glow,
Wast ruins in the midst were spread,
Where the grey moss had form'd a bed,
“There was I fix’d, I know not how,
Condemn'd for untold years to stay;
Yet years were not;-one dreadful now,
The same mild evening's sleeping ray
And all that time I gazed away,
“The Hall of Justice,” or the story of the Gipsy Convict, is another experiment of Mr. Crabbe's. It is very nervous – very shocking — and very powerfully
represented. The woman is accused of stealing, and tells her story in impetuous and lofty language.
“My crime ! this sick'ning child to feed,
“But I have griefs of other kind,
“My mother dead, my father lost,
“So through the land I wand'ring went,
“A sturdy youth he was and tall,
“Yes, Aaron had each manly charm,
All in the May of youthful pride;
He scarcely fear'd his father's arm,
Oft when they grew in anger warm,
I rose, their wrathful souls to calm,
The father felon falls in love with the betrothed of his son, whom he despatches on some distant errand. The consummation of his horrid passion is told in these powerful stanzas:— “The night was dark, the lanes were deep, And one by one they took their way;
He bade me lay me down and sleep
294 CRABBE — HIS GREAT POWERS.
Accursed be the love he bore —
It is painful to follow the story out. The son returns, and privately murders his father; and then marries his widow ! The profligate barbarity of the life led by those outcasts is forcibly expressed by the simple narrative of the lines that follow:— “I brought a lovely daughter forth, His father's child, in Aaron's bed |
“'Twas false ! We wander'd far and wide,
We have not room to give the sequel of this dreadful ballad. It certainly is not pleasing reading; but it is written with very unusual power of language, and shows Mr. Crabbe to have great mastery over the tragic passions of pity and horror. The volume closes with some verses of no great value in praise of Women.
We part with regret from Mr. Crabbe; but we hope to meet with him again. If his muse, to be sure, is prolific only once in twenty-four years, we can scarcely expect to live long enough to pass judgment on her future projeny: But we trust, that a larger portion of public favour than has hitherto been dealt to him will encourage him to greater efforts; and that he will soon appear again among the worthy supporters of the old poetical establishment, and come in time to surpass the revolutionists in fast firing, as well as in weight of metal.
The Borough: a Poem, in Twenty-four Letters. By the Rev. GEORGE CRABBF, LL.B. 8vo. pp. 344. London: 1810.
WE are very glad to meet with Mr. Crabbe so soon again; and particularly glad to find, that his early return has been occasioned, in part, by the encouragement he received on his last appearance. This late spring of public favour, we hope, he will yet live to see ripen into mature fame. We scarcely know any poet who deserves it better; and are quite certain there is none who is more secure of keeping with posterity whatever he may win from his contemporaries. The present poem is precisely of the character of “The Willage” and the “Parish Register.” It has the same peculiarities, and the same faults and beauties; though a severe critic might perhaps add, that its peculiarities are more obtrusive, its faults greater, and its beauties less. However that be, both faults and beauties are so plainly produced by the peculiarity, that it may be worth while, before giving any more particular account of it, to try if We can ascertain in what that consists. And here we shall very speedily discover, that Mr. Crabbe is distinguished from all other poets, both by the choice of his subjects, and by his manner of treating them. All his perons are taken from the lower ranks of life; and all his scenery from the most ordinary and familiar objects of nature or art. His characters and incidents, too, are as common as the elements out of which they are compounded are humble; and not only has he nothing prodigious or astonishing in any of his representations, but he has not even attempted to impart any of the ordinary colours of poetry to those vulgar materials. He has no moralising swains or sentimental tradesmen; and scarcely ever seeks to charm us by the