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under circumstances most calculated to be impressive try is excellently hit off in the “ Rejected Addresses," and Burke was at the height of his power and reputation ; be the lines beginning was the first man of any distinction whom the poet had
John Richard William Alexander Dwyer ever seen ; the two men had long and intimate conversa
Was footman to Justinian Stubbs, Esquire, tions, and Crabbe, it may be added, was a very keen observer of character. And yet all that Rogers and
are probably more familiar to the present generation than Moore could extract from him was a few “ vague gener any of the originals. Pope in worsted stockings" is the alities.” Moore suggests some explanation ; but the fact
title bit off for him by Horace Smith, and has about the same seems to be that Crabbe was one of those simple, homespun degree of truth as most smart sayings of the kind. The characters whose interests were strictly limited to his own
“worsted stockings" at least are characteristic. Crabbe's peculiar sphere. Burke, when be pleased, could talk of son and biographer indicates some of the surroundings of oxen as well as of politics, and doubtlese, adapted his con
his father's early life in a description of the uncle, a Mr. versation to the taste of the young poet. Probably, much Tovell, with whom the poet's wife, the Mira of his Journal, more was said about the state of Burke's farm than about passed her youth. He was a sturdy yeoman, living in an the prospects of the Whig party. Crabbe's powers of vis- old house with a moat, a rookery, and fish-ponds. The ion were as limited as they were keen, and the great ball was paved with black and white marble, and the stairqualities to wbich Burke owed his reputation could only case was of black oak, slippery as ice, with a chimiog exhibit themselves in a sphere to which Crabbe never rose.
clock and a barrel-organ on the landing-places. The His attempt to draw a likeness of Burke under the name of handsome drawing room and dining-rooms were only used “ Eugenius,” in the Borough,” is open to the objection Mrs. Tovell jealously reserved for herself the duty of scrub
on grand occasions, such as the visit of a neighboring peer. that it would be nearly as applicable to Wilberforce, Howard, or Dr. Johnson. It is a mere complimentary daub, in bing these state apartments, and sent any servant to the which every remarkable feature of the original is blurred right about who dared to lay unballowed bands upon or altogether omitted.
them. The family sat habitually in the old-fashioned The inward Crabbe remained to the end of his days kitchen, by a huge open chimney, where the blaze of a what nature and education had already made him; the whole pollard sometimes eclipsed the feeble glimmer of outward Crabbe, by the help of Burke, rapidly put on a
the single candle in an iron candlestick, intended to illumore prosperous appearance. His poems were published minate Mrs. Tovell's labors with the needle. Masters and and achieved success. He took orders and found patrons. servants, with any travelling tinker or ratcatcher, all dined Thurlow gave him £100, and afterwards presented him to together, and the nature of their meals has been described two small livings, growling out with an oath that he was
by Crabbe himself :“as like parson Adams, as twelve to a dozen." The Duke
But when the men beside their station took, of Rutland appointed him chaplain, a position in which he
The maidens with them, and with these the cook; seems to have been singularly out of bis element. Further
When one huge wooden bowl before them stood, patronage, however, made bim independent, and he mar
Filled with huge balls of farinaceous food; ried bis Mira and lived very happily ever afterwards.
With bacon, mass saline, where never lean Perhaps, with bis old-fashioned ideas, he would not quite
Beneath the brown and bristly rind was seen; have satisfied some clerical critics of the present day. His
When from a single horn the party drew views about non-residence and pluralities seem to have
Their copious draughts of heavy ale and new; 1 been lax for a time; and his hearty dislike for dissent then, the poet goes on to intimate, squeamish persons might was coupled with a general dislike for enthusiasm of all feel a little uncomfortable. After dinner followed a nap kinds. He liked to ramble about for flowers and fossils, of precisely one bour. Then bottles appeared on the and to hammer away at his poems in a study where chaos table, and neighboring farmers, with faces rosy with reigned supreme. For twenty-two years after his first brandy, drifted in for a chat. One of these beroes never success as an author, he never managed to get a poem into went to bed sober, but scandalized all teetotalers by rea state fit for publication, though periodical conflagrations taining all his powers and coursing after he was ninety. of masses of manuscript — too vast to be burnt in the Bowl after bowl of punch was emptied, and the conversachimney — testified to his continuous industry. His re- tion took so convivial a character that Crabbe generally appearance seems to have been caused chiefly by his desire found it expedient to withdraw, though bis son, wbo reto send a son to the University. His success was repeated, cords these performances, was held to be too young to be though a new school had arisen which knew not Pope. injured, and the servants were too familiar for their presThe youth who had been kindly received by Burke, Rey- ence to be a restraint. nolds, and Johnson, came back from his country retreat to It was in this household that the poet found bis Mira. be lionized at Holland House, and be petted by Brougham Crabbe's own father was apparently at a lower point of and Moore, and Rogers, and Campbell, and all the rising the social scale ; and during his later years took to drinkluminaries. He paid a visit to Scott contemporaneously ing and to flinging dishes about the room whenever be was with George IV., and pottered about the queer old wynds out of temper. Crabbe always drew from the life; most and closes of Edinburgh, which he preferred to the New of his characters might have joined in his father's drinkTown, and apparently to Arthur's Seat, with a judicious ing bouts, or told stories over Mr. Tovell's punch-bowls. caddie following to keep him out of mischief. 'A more Doubtless a social order of the same kind survived till a tangible kind of homage was the receipt of £3000 from later period in various corners of the island. The Torells Murray for his “ Tales of the Hall,” which so delighted him of to-day get their fashions from London, and their laborthat he insisted on carrying the bills loose in his pocket ers instead of dining with them in their kitchen, have taken till he could show them to bis son John " in the country. to forming unions and making speeches about their rights. There, no doubt, he was most at home; and his parishioners If, bere and there, in some remote nooks we find an apgradually became attached to their “ parson Adams," in proximation to the coarse, hearty, patriarchal mode of life, spite of his quaintnesses and some manful defiance of their we regard it as a naturalist regards a puny modern reptile, prejudices. All women and children loved him, and he the representative of gigantic lizards of old geological died at a good old age in 1832, having lived into a new epochs. A sketch or two of its peculiarities, sufficiently order in many things, and been as little affected by the softened and idealized to suit modern tastes, forms a pictchange as most men. The words with which he concludes the sketch of the Vicar in his “ Borough
uresque background to a modern picture. Scme of Miss
are not inap- Bronté's rough Yorkshiremen would have drunk punch propriate to himself :
with Mr. Tovell; and the farmers in the “ Mill on the Nor one so old has left this world of sin
are representatives of the same race, slightly deMore like the being that he entered in.
generate, in so far as they are just conscious that a new The peculiar homeliness of Crabbe's character and poe
cause of disturbance is setting into the quiet rural districts. Dandie Dinmont again is a relation of Crabbe's heroes, though the fresh air of the Cheviots and the stirring tradi- after he had finished his tale. There is one of these detions of the old border life have conferred upon him a liberately concocted ornaments, intended to explain the more practical coloring. To get a realistic picture of remark that the difference between the character of two country life as Crabbe saw it, we must go back to Squire brothers came out when they were living together Western, or to some of the roughly-hewn masses of Hesh quietly :who sat to Hogarth. Perhaps it may be said that Miss
Asfvarious colors in a painted ball, Austen's exquisite pictures of the more polished society,
While it has rest are seen distinctly all; which took ihe waters at Bath, and occasionally paid a
Till, whirled around by some exterior force, visit to London, implies a background of coarser manners
They all are blended in the rapid course; and more brutal passions, which lay outside her peculiar
So in repose and not by passion swayed
We saw the difference by their habits made; province. The question naturally occurs to social philoso
But, tried by strong emotions, they became phers, whether the improvement in the external decencies
Filled with one love, and were in heart the same. of life and the wider intellectual horizon of modern days implies a genuine advance over the rude and homely The conceit is ingenious enough in one sense, but painfully plenty of an earlier generation. I refer to such problems ingenious. It requires some thought to catch the likeness only to remark that Crabbe must be consulted by those suggested, and then it turns out to be purely superficial. who wish to look upon the seamy side of the time
The resemblance of such a writer to Pope obviously does which he describes. He very soon dropped his nymphs
not go deep. Crabbe imitates Pope because everybody and shepherds, and ceased to invoke the idyllic muse. In
imitated him at that day. He adopted Pope's metre behis long portrait gallery there are plenty of virtuous peo
cause it had come to be almost the only recognized means ple, and some people intended to be refined; but features of poetical expression. He stuck to it after his contempoindicative of coarse animal passions, brutality, selfishness,
raries had introduced new versification, partly because he and sensuality are drawn to the life, and the development
was old-fashioned to the backbone and partly because of his stories is generally determined by some of the baser
he had none of those lofty inspirations which naturally elements of human nature. “Jesse and Colin” are de- generate new forms of melody. He seldom trusts himself scribed in one of the Tales; but they are not the Jesse
to be lyrical, and when he does his versification is nearly and Colin of Dresden china. They are such rustics as ate
as monotonous as in bis narrative poetry. We must not fat bacon and drank “heavy ale and new; not the im
expect to soar with Crabbe into any of the loftier regions ; aginary personages who exchanged amatory civilities in
to see the world “ apparelled in celestial light,” or to dethe old-fashioned pastorals ridiculed by Pope and Gay.
scry Crabbe's rough style is indicative of his general temper.
Such forms as glitter in the muses' ray, It is in places at least the most slovenly and slipshod that
With orient hues, unborrowed of the sun. was ever adopted by any true poet. The authors of the We shall find no vehement outbursts of passions, breaking “Rejected Addresses ” had simply to copy, without at- loose from the fetters of sacred convention. Crabbe is tempting the impossible task of caricaturing. One of their perfectly content with the British Constitution, with the familiar couplets, for example, runs thus :
Thirty-nine Articles, and all respectabilities in Church and Emmanuel Jennings brought his youngest boy
State, and therefore he is quite content also with the good Up as a corn-cutter, a safe employ!
old jogtrot of the recognized metres; his language haltAnd here is the original Crabbe :
ing unusually, and for the most part clumsy enough, is
sufficiently differentiated from prose by the mould into which Swallow, a poor attorney, brought his boy
it is run, and he never wants to kick over the traces with Up at his desk, and gave him his employ.
his more excitable contemporaries. When boy cannot be made to rhyme with employ, Crabbe
The good old rule is very fond of dragging in a hoy. In the Parish Register
Sufficeth him, the simple plan he introduces a narrative about a village grocer and his
that each verse should consist of ten syllables, with an friend in tbese lines :
occasional Alexandrine to accommodate a refractory epithet, Aged were both, that Dawkins, Ditchem this,
and should rhyme peaceably with its neighbor. Who much of marriage thought and much amiss.
From all wbich it may be too harshly inferred that Or to quote one more opening of a story:
Crabbe is merely a writer in rhyming prose, and deserving
of no attention from the more enlightened adherents of a Counter and Clubb were men in trade, whose pains, later school. The inference, I say, would be hasty, for it Credit, and prudence, brought them constant gains ; Partners and punctual, every friend agreed
is impossible to read Crabbe patiently without receiving a Counter and Clubb were men who must succeed.
very distinct and original impression. If some pedants of
æsthetic philosophy should declare that we ought not to be But of such gems any onel may gather as many as he impressed, because Crabbe breaks all their rules, we can pleases by simply turning over Crabbe's pages. In only reply that they are mistaking their trade. The true sense, they are rather pleasant than otherwise. They are business of the critic is to discover from observation what so characteristic and put forward with such absolute sim- are the conditions under which art appeals to our sympaplicity that they have the same effect as a good old pro- thies, and, if he finds an apparent exception to his rules, to vincialism in the mouth of a genuine countryman. It must, admit that he has made an oversight, and not to condemn however, be admitted that Crabbe's careful study of Pope the facts which persist in contradicting his theories. It had not initiated him in some of bis master's gecrets. may, indeed, be freely granted that Crabbe has suffered The wor’ted stockings were uncommonly thick. If Pope's seriously by his slovenly methods and his insensibility to brilliance of style savors too much of affectation, Crabbe the more exquisite and ethereal forms of poetical excelnever manages to hit off an epigram in the whole of his lence. But however he may be classified, be possesses the poetry. The language seldom soars above the style which essential mark of genius, namely, that his pictures, however would be intelligible to the merest clodhopper; and we coarse the workmanship, stamp themselves on our minds can understand how, when in his later years Crabbe was indelibly and instantaneously. His pathos is here and introduced to wits and men of the world, he generally held there clumsy, but it goes straight to the mark. His cbarhis peace, or, at most, let fall some bit of dry quiet humor. acteristic qualities were first distinctly shown in the “ VilAt rare intervals he remembers that a poet ought to in- lage,” which was partly composed under Burke's eye, and dulge in a figure of speech, and laboriously compounds a was more or less touched by Johnson. It was, indeed, a simile wbich appears in his poetry like a bit of gold lace work after Jobpson's own heart, intended to be a pendant, on a farmer's homespun coat. He confessed as much in or perhaps a corrective, to Goldsmith's " Deserted Vil. answer to a shrewd criticism of Jeffery's, saying that he lage.” It is meant to give the bare blank facts of rural generally thought of such illustrations and inserted them | life, stripped of all sentimental gloss. To read the two is
something like hearing a speech from an optimist landlord He gives the plain prosaic facts which impress us because and then listening to the comments of Mr. Arch. Gold- they are in such perfect harmony with the sentiment. smith, indeed, was far too exquisite an artist to indulge in Here, for example, is a fragment from the “ Village,” which mere conventionalities about agricultural bliss. If bis is simply a description of the neighborhood of Aldbor“ Auburn” is rather idealized, the most prosaic of critics ough : cannot object to the glow thrown by the memory of the
Lo! where the heath, with withering brake grown o'er, poet over the scene of now ruined happiness, and, more- Lends the light turf that warms the neighboring poor ; over, Goldsmith's delicate humor guards him instinctively From thence a length of burning sand appears, from laying on his rose-color too thickly. Crabbe, how- Where the thin barvest waves its withered ears ; ever, will bave nothing to do with rose-color, thick or thin. Rank weeds, that every art and care defy, There is one explicit reference in the poem to his predeces- Reign o'er the land, and rob ihe blighted rye ; sor's work, and it is significant. Everybody remembers, or
There thistles stretch their prickly arms afar, ought to remember, Goldsmith's charming pastor, to whom
And to the ragged infant threaten war; it can only be objected that he has not the fear of political
There poppies nodding, mock the hope of toil ; economists before his eyes. This is Crabbe's retor t, after
There ihe blue bugloss paints the sterile soil ;
Hardy and high, above the slender sheaf, describing a dying pauper in need of spiritual consol ation :
The slimy mallow waves her silky leaf ; And does not he, the pious man, appear,
O'er the young shoot the charlock throws a shade, He, “passing rich with forty pounds a year?”
And clasping tares cling round the sickly blade. Ah! no; a shepherd of a different stock,
The writer is too obviously a botanist; but the picture And far unlike him, feeds this little flock; A jovial youth, who thinks his Sunday's task
always remains with us as the only conceivable background As much as God or man can fairly ask ;
for the poverty-stricken population whom he is about to deThe rest he gives to loves and labors light,
scribe. The actors in the “ Borough " are presented to us To fields the morning, and to feasts the night.
in a similar setting; and it may be well to put a sea-piece None better skilled the noisy pack to guide,
beside this bit of barren common. Crabbe's range of deTo urge their chase, to cheer them, or to chide ;
scriptive power is pretty well confined within the limits so A sportsman keen, he shoots through half the day, defined. He is scarcely at home beyond the tide-marks : And skilled at whist, devotes the night to play.
Be it the summer noon; a sandy space This fox-bunting parson (of whom Cowper has described a.
The ebbing tide has lett upon its place; duplicate) lets the pauper die as he pleases; and after- Then just the hot and stony beech above, wards allows him to be buried without attending, perform- Light twinkling streams in bright confusion move; ing the funerals, it seems, in a lump, upon Sundays. Crabbe admits in a note that such negligence was uncommon, but adds that it is not unknown. The flock is, on the
There the broad bosom of the ocean keeps whole, worthy of the shepherd. The old village sports
An equal motion; swelling as it sleeps, have died out in favor of smuggling and wrecking. The
Then slowly sinking; curling to the strand,
Faint lazy waves o'ercreep the ridgy sand, poor are not, as rich men fancy, healthy and well fed.
Or tap the tarry boat with gentle blow, Their work makes them premature victims to ague and And back return in silence, smooth and slow. rheumatism ; their food is
Ships in the calm seem anchored : for they glide Homely, not wholesome, plain, not plenteous, such
On the still sea, urged slowly by the tide : As you who praise would never deign to touch.
Art thou not present, this calm scene before
Where all beside is pebbly length of shore, The ultimate fate of the worn-out laborer is the poorhouse, And far as eye can reach, it can discern no more? described in lines, of which it is enough to say that Scott and Wordsworth learnt them by heart, and the melancholy for Crabbe is unpleasantly anxious to leave nothing unex
I have omitted a couplet which verges on the scientific; death-bed already noticed. Are we reading a poem or a Blue Book done into rhyme ? may possibly be the question plained. The effect is, in its way, perfect. Any one who of some readers. · The answer should perhaps be that a
pleases may compare it with Wordsworth's calm in the good many Blue Books contain an essence which only re
verses upon Peele Castle, where the sentiment is given quires to be properly extracted and refined to become gen
without ihe minute statement of facts, and where, too, we uine poetry. If Crabbe's verses retain rather too much of
bave the inevitable quotation about the “light that never the earthly elements, he is capable of transmuting his min
was on sea or land,” and is pretty nearly as rare in erals into genuine gold, as well as of simply collecting
Crabbe's poetry. What he sees, we can all see, though not them. Nothing, for example, is more characteristic than
so intensely; and his art consists in selecting the precise the mode in which the occasional descriptions of nature are
elements that tell most forcibly towards bringing us into harmoniously blended with the human life in his poetry: ought perbaps to be acclimatized on the coast of the East
the required frame of mind. To enjoy Crabbe fully, we Crabbe is an ardent lover of a certain type of scenery, to which justice has not often been done. We are told how, music of the scenery, which is now generally drowned by
ern counties; we should become sensitive to the plaintive after a long absence from Suffolk, he rode sixty miles from his house to bave a dip in the sea. Some of his poems ap
the discordant sounds of modern watering places, and would pear to be positively impregnated with a briny, or rather
seem insipid to a generation which values excitement in perhaps a tarry odor. The sea which he loved was by no
scenery as in fiction. Readers, who measure the beauty of means a Byronic sea. It has no grandeur of storm, and
a district by its average height above the sea-level, and still less has it the Mediterranean blue. It is the sluggish
who cannot appreciate the charm of a muddy element which wasbes the shores of his beloved Suf.
find Crabbe uncongenial. folk. He likes even the shelving beach, with fishermen's
The human character is determined, as Mr. Buckle and boats and decaying nets and remnants of stale fish. He
other pbilosophers have assured us, by the climate and the loves the dreary estuary, where the slow tide sways back
soil. A little ingenuity, such as those philosophers display wards and forwards, and whence
in accommodating facts to theory, might discover a parallel
between the type of Crabbe's personages and the fauna and High o'er the restless deep, above the reach Of gunner's hope, vast flocks of wildfowl stretch.
flora of his native district. Declining a task which might
lead to fanciful conclusions, I may assume that the East The coming generation of poets took to the mountains; but Anglian character is sufficiently familiar, whatever the
Crabbe remained faithful to the dismal and yet, in his causes by which it has been determined. To define hands, the impressive scenery of his native salt-marshes. Crabbe's poetry we have simply to imagine ourselves listenHis method of description suits the country. His verses ing to the stories of his parishioners, told by a clergyman never become melodramatic, nor does he ever seem to in- brought up amongst the lower rank of the middle classes, vest nature with the mystic life of Wordsworth's poetry. | scarcely elevated above their prejudices, and not willingly
leaving their circle of ideas. We must endow him withial, but never 'the sentiment. The deep manly emotion that simplicity of character which gives us frequent cause makes us forget not only the frequent clumsiness of his to smile at its proprietor, but which does not disqualify him style but the pettiness of the incident, and, what is more from seeing a great deal further into his neighbors than difficult, the rather bread-and-butter tone of morality. If they are apt to give him credit for doing. Such insight, he is a little too fond of bringing his villains to the gallows, in fact, is due not to any great subtlety of intellect, but to he is preoccupied less by the external consequences than the possession of deep feeling and sympathy. Crabbe saw by the natural working of evil passions. With him sin is little more of Burke than would have been visible to an or- not punished by being found out, but by disintegrating the dinary Suffolk farmer. When transplanted to a ducal character and blunting the higher sensibilities. He shows mansion, he only drew the pretty obvious inference, in- - and the moral, if not new, is that which possesses the ferred in a vigorous poem, that a patron is a very disagree. really intellectual interest - how evil-doers are tortured by able and at times a very mischievous personage. The joys the cravings of desires that cannot be satisfied, and the and griefs which really interest him are of the very tangi- | lacerations inflicted by ruined self-respect. And therefore ble and solid kind which affect men and women to whom there is a truth in Crabbe's delineations which is quite inthe struggle for existence is a stern reality. Here and dependent of his more or less rigid administration of poetithere his good-humored but rather clumsy ridicule may cal justice. His critics used to accuse him of having a low strike some lady to whom some demon has whispered opinion of human nature. It is quite true that he assigns “ Have a taste ; and who turns up her nose at the fat to selfishness and brutal passions a very large part in carbacon on Mr. Tovell's table. He pities her squeamishness, rying on the machinery of the world. Some readers may but tbinks it rather | unreasonable. He satirizes too the infer that he was unlucky in his experience, and others that heads of the rustic aristocracy; the brutal squire who bul. he loved facts too unflinchingly. His stories sometimes relies his nephew, the clergyman, for preaching against his mind one of Balzac's in the descriptions of selfishness trivices, and corrupts the whole neighborhood; or the specu- umphant over virtue. One, for example, of his deeply palative banker who cheats old-maids under pretence of look thetic poems is called the “ Brothers ;” and repeats the ing after their investments. If the squire does not gener: old contrast given in Fielding's Tom Jones and Bliil
. The ally appear in Crabbe in the familiar dramatic character of shrewd sly hypocrite has received all manner of kindnesses a rural Lovelace, it is chiefly because Crabbe has no great from the generous and simple sailor, and when, at last, the belief in the general purity of the inferior ranks of rural | poor sailor is ruined in health and fortune, he comes home life. But his most powerful stories deal with the tragedies expecting to be supported by the gratitude of the brother, - only too life-like — of the shop and the farm. He de- who has by this time made money and is living at his ease. scribes the temptations which lead the small tradesman to Nothing can be more pathetic or more in the spirit of some adulterate his goods, or the parish clerk to embezzle the of Balzac's stories than the way in which the rich man remoney subscribed in the village church, and the evil effects ceives his former benefactor ; his faint recognition of fraof dissenting families who foster a spiritual pride which ternal feelings gradually cools down under the influence of leads to more unctuous hypocrisy ; for though he says of a selfish wife ; till at last the poor old sailor is driven from the wicked squire, that
the parlor to the kitchen, and from the kitchen to the loft, His worship ever was a churchman"true,
and finally deprived of his only comfort, his intercourse And held in scorn the methodistic crew,
with a young nephew not yet broken into hardness of heart.
The lad is not to be corrupted by the coarse language of the scorn is only objectionable to him in so far as it is a
his poor old uncle. The rich brother suspects that the cynical cloak for scorn of good morals. He tells how boys sailor has broken this rule, and is reviling him for his inrun away to sea, or join strolling players, and have in con
gratitude, when suddenly he discovers that he is abusing a sequence to beg their bread at the end of their days. The
corpse. The old sailor's heart is broken at last; and his almshouse or the county jail is the natural end of his vil
brother repents too late. He tries to comfort his remorse lains, and be paints to the life the evil courses which gen- by cross-examining the boy, who was the cause of the last erally lead to such a climax. Nobody describes better the quarrel : process of going to the dogs. And most of all, he sympatbizes with the village maiden who has listened too easily “Did he not curse me, child ?” “ He never cursed, to the voice of the charmer in the shape of a gay sailor, or But could not breathe, and said his heart would burst.” a smart London footman, and has to reap the bitter conse
“And so will mine.” –“But, father, you must pray ; quences of her too easy faith. Most of his stories might be
My uncle said it took his pains away.” paralleled by the experience of any country clergy man who | Praying, however, cannot bring back the dead; and the has entered into the life of his parishioners. They are as
fratricide, for such he feels himself to be, is a melancholy commonplace and as pathetic as the things which are hap
man to the end of his days. In Balzac's bands repentance pening round us every day, and which fill a neglected par
would have had no place, and selfishness been finally triagraph in a country newspaper. The treatment varies umphant and unabashed.' We need not ask which would from the purely humorous to the most deep and genuine be the most effective or the truest treatment; though. I pathos; though it seldom takes us into the regions of the must put in a word for the superior healthiness of Crabbe's loftier imagination. The more humorous of these performances may be briefly be absurd to push such a comparison far. Crabbe's por
mind." There is nothing morbid about him. Still, it would dismissed. Crabbe possesses the faculty, but not in any
traits are only spirited vignettes compared with the elabo-eminent degree; his hand is a little heavy, and one must
rate full lengths drawn by the intense imagination of the remember that Mr. Tovell and his like were of the race French novelist; and Crabbe's whole range of thought is who require to have a joke driven into their heads with a
narrower. The two writers have a real resemblance only sledge hammer. Once or twice we come upon a sketch
in so far as in each case a powerful accumulation of lifewhich may help to explain Miss Austen's admiration.
like details enables them to produce a pathos, powerful by There is an old maid devoted to Mira, and rejoicing in its vivid reality. stuffed puppies and parrots, who might have been another
The singular power of Crabbe is in some sense more conEmma Woodhouse, and a parson who would have suited spicuous in the stories where the incidents are almost authe Eltons admirably :
daciously trifling. One of them begins with this not very Fiddling and fishing were his arts ; at times
impressive and very ungrammatical couplet :- .
With our late Vicar, and his age the same,
His clerk, hight Jachin, to his office came.
which he is strong enough to resist. At last, however, it | Peter grew more sullen, and the scenery became more occurs to Jachin that he can easily embezzle part of the weird and depressing. The few who watched him reusual monthly offerings while saving his character in his marked that there were three places where Peter seemed to own eyes by some obvious sophistry. He is detected and be more than usually moved. For a time he burried past dismissed, and dies after coming upon the parish. These them, whistling as he rowed; but gradually he seemed to materials for a tragic poem are not very promising; and I
be fascinated. The idle lodgers in the summer saw a man do not mean to say that the sorrows of poor Jachin affect and boat lingering in the tideway, apparently watching the us as deeply as those of Gretchen in “ Faust.” The par gliding waves without casting a net or looking at the wild. ish clerk is perhaps a fit type of all that was least poetical fowl. At last, his delirium becoming stronger, he is carried in the old social order of the country, and virtue which to the poor-house, and tells his story to the clergyman. Nosuccumbs to the temptation of taking two shillings out of a body has painted with greater vigor that kind of externalplate scarcely wants a Mephistopheles to overcome it. We ized conscience which may still survive in a brutalized may perhaps think that the apologetic note which the ex. mind. Peter Grimes, of course, sees his victims' spirits cellent Crabbe inserts at the end of his poem, to the effect and hates them. He fancies that his father torments him that he did not mean by it to represent mankind as “pup- out of spite, characteristically forgetting that the ghost bad pets of an overpowering destiny,” or “to deny the doctrine some excuse for his anger :of seducing spirits,” is a little superfluous. The fact that
P’T was one hot noon, all silent, still, serene, a parish-clerk has taken to petty pilfering can scarcely jus- No living being had I lately seen; tify those heterodox conclusions. But when we have I paddled up and down and dipped my net, smiled at Crabbe's philosophy, we begin to wonder at the
But (such his pleasure) I could nothing get, force of his sentiment. A blighted human soul is a pa- A father's pleasure when his toil was done, thetic object, however paltry the temptation to which it
To plague and torture thus an only son!
And so I sat and looked upon the stream, has succumbed. Jacbin has the dignity of despair, though
How it ran on, and felt as in a dream; he is not quite a fallen archangel; and Crabbe's favorite
But dream it was not; no!- I fixed my eyes scenery harmonizes with his agony.
On the mid stream and saw the spirit rise ; In each lone place, dejected and dismayed,
I saw my father on the water stand, Shrinking from view, his wasting form he laid ;
And hold a thin, pale boy in either hand; Or to the restless sea and roaring wind
And there they glided ghastly on the top Gave the strong yearnings of a ruined mind;
Of the salt flood, and never touched a drop; On the broad beach, the silent summer day,
I would have struck them, but they knew the intent, Stretched on some wreck, he wore his life away;
And smiled upon the oar, and down they went. Or where the river mingles wit
Remorse in Peter's mind takes the shape of bitter hatred Or on the mud-bank by the elder tree,
for his victims; and with another characteristic confusion, Or by the bounding marsh-dyke, there was he. 1
he partly attributes his sufferings to some evil influence inNor would he have been a more pitiable object if he had
trinsic in the locality:betrayed a nation or sold his soul for a garter instead of There were three places, where they ever rose, — the pillage of a subscription plate. Poor old Jachin's story The whole long river has not such as those, – may seem to be borrowed from a commonplace tract; but
Places accursed, where, if a man remain, the detected pilferer, though he has only lost the respect of
He'll see the things which strike him to the brain. the parson, the overseer, and the beadle, touches us deeply And then the malevolent ghosts forced poor Peter to lean as the Byronic hero who has fallen out with the whole syg. on his oars, and showed him visions of coming horrors. tem of the world.
Grimes dies impenitent, and fancying that his tormentors If we refuse to sympathize with the pang due to so petty are about to seize him. Ofall haunted men in fiction, it is a catastrophe- though our sympathy should surely be pro- not easy to think of a case where the horror is more terriportioned to the keenness of the suffering rather than the bly realized. The blood-boultered Banquo tortured a absolute height of the fall — we may turn to a tragedy of a noble victim, but scarcely tortured him more effectually. deeper dye. Peter Grimes, as bis name indicates, was a Peter Grimes was doubtless a close relation of Peter Bell. ruffian from his infancy. He once knocked down his poor Bell having the advantage of Wordsworth's interpretation, old father, who warned him of the consequences of his bru- leads us to many thoughts which lie altogether beyond tality :
Crabbe's reach; but, looking simply at the sheer tragic On an inn-settle, in his maudlin grief,
force of the two characters, Grimes is to Bell what brandy This he revolved, and drank for his relief.
is to small beer. He would never have shown the white
feather like his successor, who, Adopting such a remedy, he sank from bad to worse, and gradually became a thief, a smuggler, and a social outlaw.
After ten months' melancholy In those days, however, as is proved by the history of Mrs.
Became a good and honest man. Brownrigg, parish authorities practiced the boarding out If, in some sense, Peter Grimes is the most effective of system " after a reckless fasbion. Peter was allowed to Crabbe's heroes, he would, if taken alone, give a very distake two or three apprentices in succession, whom he bul- torted impression of the general spirit of the poetry. It is lied, starved, and maltreated, and who finally died under only at intervals that he introduces us to downright crimisuspicious circumstances. The last was found dead in Pe
nals. There is, indeed, a description of a convicted felon, ter's fishing-boat after a rougb voyage; and though noth- which, according to Macaulay, has made “ many a rough ing could be proved, the mayor told him that he should
and cynical reader cry like a child," and which, if space have no more slaves to belabor. Peter, pursuing his trade
were unlimited, would make a striking pendant to the in solitude, gradually became morbid and depressed. The agony of the burdened Grimes. But, as a rule, Crabbe melancholy estuary became haunted by ghostly visions.
can find motives enough for tenderness in sufferings which He had to groan and sweat with no vent for his pas- have nothing to do with the criminal law, and of which the
mere framework of the story is often interesting enough. Thus by himself compelled to live each day,
His peculiar power is best displayed in so presenting to us To wait for certain hours the tide's delay;
the sorrows of commonplace characters as to make us feel At the same time the same dull views to see,
that a shabby coat and a narrow education, and the most The bounding marsh-bank and the blighted tree;
unromantic causes, need not cut off our sympathies with a The water only, when the tides were high, When low, the mud half-covered and half-dry;
fellow-creature; and that the dullest tradesman who treads The sun-burnt tar that blisters on the planks,
on our toes in an omnibus, may want only a power of articuAnd bank-side stakes in their uneven ranks ;
late expression to bring before us some of the deepest of Heaps of entangled weeds that slowly float,
all problems. The parish clerk and the grocer- or what. As the tide rolls by the impeded boat.
ever may be the proverbial epitome of human dullness