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Crabbe is one of the most original of English poets, and, as has been well remarked, “his originality is of that best kind, which displays itself not in tumid exaggeration or flighty extravagance-not in a wide departure from the sober standard of truth-but in a more rigid and uncompromising adherence to it than inferior writers venture to attempt." He is pre.eminently the poet of the poor, describing with graphic minuteness their pri. vations, temptations, and vices.' But, while he spares some of their vices, he does more justice to their virtues, and renders them more important objects of consideration than perhaps any other imaginative writer. His chief characteristics are simplicity, force, pathos, and truth in describing character, and through these, and the originality of his style, he compels us to bestow our attention on objects that are usually neglected. He had a heart to feel for his fellow man, in however low and humble a sphere he may be placed, and he directs our sympathy where it is well for the cause of humanity that it should be directed, but where the squalidness of misery and want too frequently repels it.2
An edition of his poems, in eight volumes, was published by Murray in 1834, the first volume being occupied by a very pleasing piece of filial biography by his son, the Rev. George Crabbe.3
THE PARISH WORKHOUSE.
Theirs is yon house that holds the parish poor,
1 “Mr. Crabbe exhibits the common people of England pretty much as they are, and as they must appear to every one who will take the trouble of examining into their condition; at the same time that he renders his sketches in a very high degree interesting and beautiful-by selecting what is most fit for description--by grouping them into such forms as must catch the attention or awake the memory-and by scattering over the whole such traits of moral sensibility, of sarcasm, and of useful reflection, as every one must feel to be natural and own to be powerful.”
Edinburgh Review, vol. xii. p. 133. • Though his having taken a view of life too minute, too humiliating, too painful, and too just, may have deprived his works of so extensive, or, at least, so brilliant a popularity as some of his contemporaries have attained; yet I venture to believe that there is no poet of his times who will stand higher in the opinion of posterity. He generally deals with the short and simple annals of the poor ;" but he exhibits them with such a deep knowledge of human nature, with such general ease and simplicity, and such accurate force of expression, whether gay or pathetical, as, in my humble judgment, no poet, except Shakspeare, has excelled.
J. Wilson Croker, in Boswell's Johnson, vol. viii. p. 164. • See articles in "Edinburgh Review," vol. xii. p. 131; vol. xvi. p. 30; vol. xx. p. 277; vol. xxxii. p. 118; vol. Ix p. 255.
Heart-broken matrons on their joyless bed,
Here too the sick their final doom receive,
Such is that room which one rude beaın divides, And naked rasters form the sloping sides; Where the vile bands that bind the thatch are seen, And lath and mud are all that lie between; Save one dull pane, that, coarsely patched, gives way To the rude tempest, yet excludes the day: Here, on a matted flock, with dust o'erspread, The drooping wretch reclines his languid head; For him no hand the cordial cup applies, Or wipes the tear that stagnates in his eyes; No friends with soft discourse his pain beguile, Or promise hope till sickness wears a smile.
THE ALMSHOUSE PHYSICIAN.
But soon a loud and hasty summons calls,
He bids the gazing throng around him fly,
Paid by the parish for attendance here,
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 youth 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 knowi), And pleased by manners most unlike her own; Loud though in love, and confident though young, Fierce in bis 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,
Now, through the lane, up hill, and cross the green,
Lo! now with red rent cloak and bonnet black, And torn green gown loose banging at her back, One who an infant in her arms sustains, And seems in patience striving with her pains; Pinched are her looks, as one who pines for bread, Whose cares are growing and whose hopes are fled; Pale her parched lips, her heavy eyes sunk low, And tears unnoticed from their channels flow; Serene her manner, till some sudden pain Frets the meek soul, and then she's calm again; Her broken pitcher to the pool she takes, And every step with cautious terror makes; For not alone that infant in her arms, But nearer cause her anxious soul alarms; With water burdened then she picks her way, Slowly and cautious, in the clinging clay; Till, in mid green, she trusts a place unsound, And deeply plunges in the adhesive ground; Thence, but with pain, her slender foot she takes, While hope the mind as strength the frame forsakes; For when so full the cup of sorrow grows, Add but a drop, it instantly o’erflows. And now her path, but not her peace, she gains, Safe frorn her task, but shivering with her pains; Her home she reaches, open leaves the door, And placing first her insant on the floor,
She bares her bosom to the wind, and sits,
Friend of distress! the mourner feels thy aid ;
But who this child of weakness, want, and care? 'Tis Phæbe Dawson, pride of Lammas fair; Who took her lover for his sparkling eyes, Expressions warm, and love inspiring lies: Compassion first assailed her gentle heart For all his suffering, all his bosom's smart: " And then his prayers! they would a savage move, And win the coldest of the sex to love:” But ah! too soon his looks success declared, Too late her loss the marriage-rite repaired; The faithless flatterer then his vows forgot, A captious tyrant or a noisy sot: If present, railing till he saw her pained; If absent, spending what their labors gained; Till that fair form in want and sickness pined, And hope and comfort fled that gentle mind.
THE HARDSHIPS OF THE POOR.
Or will you deem them amply paid in health,
There may you see the youth of slender frame