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And, O don't send me back! I dare not go-"
My house has childless been this many a year;
Thus was the sacred compact doubly seald !
From The Miller's Maid: Aale.
ADDRESS TO HIS NATIVE VALE.
On thy calm joys with what delight I dream, Thou dear green valley of my native stream! Fancy o'er thee still waves th' enchanting wand, And every nook of thine is fairy land, And ever will be, though the axe should smite In Gain's rude service, and in Pity's spite, Thy clustering alders, and at length invade The last, last poplars, that compose thy shade: Thy stream shall then in native freedom stray, And undermine the willows in its way; These, nearly worthless, may survive this storm, This scythe of desolation, callid “Reform.” No army pass'd that way! yet are they fled, The boughs that, when a schoolboy, screen’d my head : I hate the murderous axe; estranging more The winding vale from what it was of yore, Than e'en mortality in all its rage, And all the change of faces in an age. “Warmth,” will they term it, that I speak so free? They strip thy shades,—thy shades so dear to me!
From The Broken Crutch: A Tale.
THE WIDOW TO HER HOUR-GLASS.
Come, friend, I'll turn thee up again:
Since thou hast stood
In frame of wood,
And, when my husband died.
I've often watch'd thy streaming sand,
Its conic crowd
Still sliding down, Again heap'd up, then down again; The sand above more hollow grew, Like days and years still filtering through,
And mingling joy and pain.
While thus I spin and sometimes sing
Though silent thou,
Still shalt thou flow,
Thou gett'st a holiday.
Steady as truth, on either end
Come, lovely May !
Thy lengthen'd day Shall gild once more my native plain; Curl inward here, sweet woodbine flower; “Companion of the lonely hour,
I'll turn thee up again."
This accurate and minute painter of humble life was born at Aldborough, in Suffolk, on the Christmas Eve of 1754, and was the son of a salt-master, or collector of the duties on salt. The boyhood of the poet was spent in listening to every tale and legend with which that part of the country abounded, and reading every book that fell in his way. After receiving a scanty education, in consequence of his father's poverty and dissipated habits, George began to display his inclination for poetry by writing in the poet's comer of several provincial magazines. In this exercise he had been flattered by the approbation of his readers, when in consequence of a prize poem on the subject of Hope being announced by the Lady's Magazine, Crabbe, at the age of eighteen, entered the competition, and was successful. This event determined him to become a poet. After several disappointments in his efforts to settle himself in some regular profession, he resolved to repair to London, and there try his fortune in authorship-a perilous expedient, but justified by the fact, that no other remained. He went accordingly to the metropolis a helpless stranger, with only three pounds in his pocket-offered his manuscripts to several publishers, and was rejected-and having expended his resources, had no prospect before him but starvation. The struggle that succeeded was arduous and painful, but his habitual piety and constitutional cheerfulness enabled him to bear with equanimity those hardships that would have crushed a less regulated spirit. His endurance was at last crowned with success; for on having addressed himself, when his difficulties were greatest, to Edmund Burke, that eminent statesman and orator perceived the merits of the neglected poet, and instantly took him under his protection. In consequence of the patronage of his illustrious friend, Crabbe was enabled to publish The Library under the most favourable circumstances, and the celebrity which he acquired in consequence recommended him to the favour of Lord Chancellor Thurlow, who ever after proved to him a generous and effective friend and patron.
As Crabbe, notwithstanding the want of a regular education, possessed a great amount of general knowledge, and was of a religious disposition, Burke advised him to turn his thoughts to the church, and in 1782 he was licensed as Curate to the rector of Aldborough, upon which he returned to his native place to commence his clerical duties. He remained, however, only a few months in this humble station, being appointed to the office of Chaplain to the Duke of Rutland, at Burke's recommendation; and here he married Miss Elmy, after a mutual attachment that had subsisted unshaken through thirteen years of poverty and disappointment. Lord Thurlow afterwards bestowed upon him two crown livings in the vale of Belvoir, worth nearly 500l. per annum, which subsequently were exchanged for that of the large town of Trowbridge, in Wiltshire, and the incumbency of Croxton, near Belvoir. As a clergyman, Crabbe was distinguished, not only by devotedness to his sacred duties, but by gentleness, liberality, and charity, in which few have surpassed him. He died on the 3d of February, 1832.
Crabbe had no liking to authorship as a profession, and therefore when he had acquired a competence his productions appeared at very long intervals. In 1783, he published The Village-a work that had been perused in manuscript by Burke and Johnson with great delight; and in 1785 appeared The Newspaper, which added to the high reputation he had already acquired. But his next poem, The Parish Register, did not appear till twenty-two years after, and it was only published that he might realize a sufficient sum from the work to give his second son a University education. During this long interval he had remained dead to fame, and wholly employed in the self-denying duties of his profession.
As a poet, Crabbe had nothing of that high quality called Imagination. To him the ideal world was an utter terra incognila. Even external nature too he was unable to exalt and to beautify, and leaves and flowers were in his eyes nothing but small objects, distinguished by certain shapes and colours. But his merit consisted in the correct and minute delineation of what he saw, a faculty in which no writer of poetry has ever surpassed him,
Then died lamented, in the strength of life, A valued Mother and a faithful Wife; Call’d not away, when time had loosed each hold On the fond heart, and each desire grew cold; But when, to all that knit us to our kind, She felt fast-bound, as charity can bind ;Not when the ills of age, its pain, its care, The drooping spirit for its fate prepare; And, each affection failing, leaves the heart Loosed from life's charm and willing to depart;But all her ties the strong invader broke, In all their strength, by one tremendous stroke! Sudden and swift the eager pest came on, And terror grew, till every hope was gone:
Still those around appear'd for hope to seek,
Slowly they bore, with solemn step, the dead :
The elder sister strove her pangs to hide,
Curious and sad, upon the fresh-dug hill,
From The Parish Register.
Now be their arts display'd, how first they choose