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RESENTMENT. 341

existence by her selfish threats and ungenerous extortions. The husband, who had been greatly disturbed at the change in his wife's temper and spirits, at last accidently overhears enough to put him in possession of the fact; and resolving to forgive a fault so long past, and so well repaired, takes occasion to intimate his knowledge of it, and his disdain of the false confidant, in an ingenious apologue—which, however, is plain enough to drive the pestilent visitor from his house, and to restore peace and confidence to the bosom of his grateful wife.

“Resentment” is one of the pieces in which Mr. Crabbe has exercised his extraordinary powers of giving pain — though not gratuitously in this instance, nor without inculcating a strong lesson of forgiveness and compassion. A middle-aged merchant marries a lady of good fortune, and persuades her to make it all over to him when he is on the eve of bankruptcy. He is reduced to utter beggary; and his wife bitterly and deeply resenting the wrong he had done her, renounces all connection with him, and endures her own reverses with magnanimity. At last a distant relation leaves her his fortune; and she returns to the enjoyment of moderate wealth, and the exercise of charity — to all but her miserable husband. Broken by age and disease, he now begs the waste sand from the stone-gutters, and sells it on an ass through the streets: —

“And from each trifling gift
Made shift to live — and wretched was the shift.”

The unrelenting wife descries him creeping through the wet at this miserable employment; but still withholds all relief; in spite of the touching entreaties of her compassionate handmaid, whose nature is as kind and yielding as that of her mistress is hard and inflexible. Of all the pictures of medicant poverty that have ever been brought forward in prose or verse—in charity sermons or seditious harangues — we know of none half so moving or complete—so powerful and so true — as is contained in the following passages: —

342 CRABBE's TALEs — Touchi NG PICTURE OF PoVERTY.

“A dreadful winter came; each day severe,
Misty when mild, and icy-cold when clear;
And still the humble dealer took his load,
Returning slow, and shivering on the road:
The Lady, still relentless, saw him come,
And said, - “I wonder, has the Wretch a home !'
‘A hut! a hovel !’ — ‘Then his fate appears
To suit his crime.”—“Yes, Lady, not his years; —
No! nor his sufferings — nor that form decay’d."—
‘The snow,' quoth Susan, “falls upon his bed —
It blows beside the thatch — it melts upon his head."—
‘'Tis weakness, child, for grieving guilt to feel."
‘Yes, but he never sees a wholesome meal;
Through his bare dress appears his shrivel'd skin,
And ill he fares without, and worse within :
With that weak body, lame, diseas'd, and slow,
What cold, pain, peril, must the suff'rer know !—
Oh! how those flakes of snow their entrance win
Through the poor rags, and keep the frost within'
His very heart seems frozen as he goes,
Leading that starv'd companion of his woes:
He tried to pray — his lips, I saw them move,
And he so turned his piteous looks above;
But the fierce wind the willing heart oppos'd,
And, ere he spoke, the lips in misery clos'd
When reached his home, to what a cheerless fire
And chilling bed will those cold limbs retire
Yet ragged, wretched as it is, that bed
Takes half the space of his contracted shed;
I saw the thorns beside the narrow grate,
With straw collected in a putrid state:
There will he, kneeling, strive the fire to raise,
And that will warm him, rather than the blaze;
The sullen, smoky blaze, that cannot last
One moment after his attempt is past:
And I so warmly and so purely laid,
To sink to rest! — indeed, I am afraid!’” — p. 320–322.

The Lady at last is moved, by this pleading pity, to send him a little relief; but has no sooner dismissed her delighted messenger, than she repents of her weakness, and begins to harden her heart again by the recollection of his misconduct.

“Thus fix 'd, she heard not her Attendant glide
With soft low step – till, standing by her side,
The trembling Servant gasp'd for breath, and shed
Relieving tears, then uttered — He is dead ' '
“‘Dead ' ' said the startled Lady. ' Yes, he fell
Close at the door where he was wont to dwell.

THE BROTHERS. 343

There his sole friend, the Ass, was standing by,
Half dead himself, to see his Master die.’”—p. 324, 325.

“The Convert” is rather dull — though it teaches a lesson that may be useful in these fanatic times. John Dighton was bred a blackguard; and we have here a most lively and complete description of the items that go to the composition of that miscellaneous character; but being sore reduced by a long fever, falls into the hands of the Methodists, and becomes an exemplary convert. He is then set up by the congregation in a small stationer's shop ; and, as he begins to thrive in business, adds worldly literature to the evangelical tracts which composed his original stock-in-trade. This scandalises the brethren; and John, having no principles or knowledge, falls out with the sect, and can never settle in the creed of any other; and so lives perplexed and discontented — and dies in agitation and terror.

“The Brothers ” restores us again to human sympathies. The characters, though humble, are admirably drawn, and the baser of them, we fear, the most strikingly natural. An open-hearted generous sailor had a poor, sneaking, cunning, selfish brother, to whom he remitted all his prize-money, and gave all the arrears of his pay—receiving, in return, vehement professions of gratitude, and false protestations of regard. At last, the sailor is disabled in action, and discharged; just as his heartless brother has secured a small office by sycophancy, and made a prudent mariage with a congenial temper. He seeks the shelter of his brother's house as freely as he would have given it; and does not at first perceive the coldness of his reception. — But mortifications grow upon him day by day. His grog is expensive, and his pipe makes the wife sick; then is voice is so loud, and his manners so rough, that her friends cannot visit her if he appears at table! So he is banished by degrees to a garret; where he falls sick, and has no consolation but in the kindness of one of his nephews, a little boy, who administers to his comforts, and listens to his stories with a delighted attention. This, too, however, is at last interdicted by his hard-hearted parents;

344 CRABBE's TALEs.—HEART BREAKING.

and the boy is obliged to steal privately to his disconsolate uncle. One day his father catches him at his door; and, after beating him back, proceeds to deliver a severe rebuke to his brother for encouraging the child in disobedience—when he finds the unconscious culprit released by death from his despicable insults and reproaches . The great art of the story consists in the plausible excuses with which the ungrateful brother always contrives to cover his wickedness. This cannot be exemplified in an extract; but we shall give a few lines as a specimen.

“Cold as he grew, still Isaac strove to show,
By well-feign'd care, that cold he could not grow ;
And when he saw his Brother look distress'd,
He strove some petty comforts to suggest;
On his Wife solely their neglect to lay,
And then to excuse it as a woman's way;
He too was chidden when her rules he broke,
And then she sicken'd at the scent of smoke

“George, though in doubt, was still consol'd to find
His Brother wishing to be reckon'd kind:
That Isaac seem'd concern'd by his distress,
Gave to his injur'd feelings some redress;
But none he found dispos'd to lend an ear
To stories, all were once intent to hear !
Except his Nephew, seated on his knee,
He found no creature car'd about the sea;
But George indeed — for George they call'd the boy,
When his good Uncle was their boast and joy –
Would listen long, and would contend with sleep,
To hear the woes and wonders of the deep :
Till the fond Mother cried — ‘That man will teach .
The foolish boy his loud and boisterous speech.'
So judg’d the Father — and the boy was taught
To shun the Uncle, whom his love had sought.”—368, 360.

“At length he sicken'd, and this duteous Child
Watch'd o'er his sickness, and his pains beguil'd :
The Mother bade him from the loft refrain,
But, though with caution, yet he went again;
And now his tales the Sailor feebly told,
His heart was heavy, and his limbs were cold !
The tender Boy came often to entreat
His good kind friend would of his presents eat :
Purloin'd or purchas'd, for he saw, with shame,
The food untouch'd that to his Uncle came ;
Who, sick in body and in mind, receiv'd
The Boy's indulgence, gratified and griev'd

KINDNEss AND UNKINDNEss. 345

“Once in a week the Father came to say,
“George, are you ill 2" — and hurried him away;
Yet to his wife would on their duties dwell,
And often cry, “Do use my brother well; '
And something kind, no question, Isaac meant,
And took vast credit for the vague intent.

“But, truly kind, the gentle Boy essay'd
To cheer his Uncle, firm, although afraid;
But now the Father caught him at the door,
And, swearing yes, the Man in Office swore,
And cried, “Away! — How ! Brother, I'm surpris'd,
That one so old can be so ill advis'd,’” &c. — p. 370, 371.

After the catastrophe, he endures deserved remorse and anguish.

“He takes his Son, and bids the boy unfold
All the good Uncle of his feelings told,
All he lamented –- and the ready tear
Falls as he listens, sooth'd and, griev'd to hear,

“‘Did he not curse me, Child 2' — ‘He never curs'd,

But could not breathe, and said his heart would burst : " —
‘And so will mine !' – ' Then, Father, you must pray;
My Uncle said it took his pains away.’” — p. 374.

The last tale in the volume, entitled “The Learned Boy,” is not the most interesting in the collection; though it is not in the least like what its title would lead us to expect. It is the history of a poor, weakly, paltry lad who is sent up from the country to be a clerk in town; and learns by slow degrees to affect freethinking, and to practise dissipation. Upon the tidings of which happy conversion his father, a worthy old farmer, orders him down again to the country, where he harrows up the soul of his pious grandmother by his infidel prating — and his father reforms him at once by burning his idle books, and treating him with a vigorous course of horsewhipping. There is some humour in this tale ; – and a great deal of nature and art, especially in the delineation of this slender clerk's gradual corruption — and in the constant and constitutional predominance of weakness and folly in all his vice and virtue—his piety and profaneness.

We have thus gone through the better part of this volume with a degree of minuteness for which we are

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