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316 CRABBE-TIDE RIVER- -PARTY OF PLEASURE.
Those measur'd tones with which the scene agree,
And give a sadness to serenity.”—p. 123, 124. We add one other sketch of a similar character, which though it be introduced as the haunt and accompaniment of a desponding spirit, is yet chiefly remarkable for the singular clearness and accuracy with which it represents the dull scenery of a common tide river. The author is speaking of a solitary and abandoned fisherman, who was compelled
At the same times the same dull views to see,
“ When tides were neap, and, in the sultry day,
Of fishing Gull or clanging Golden Eye." - p. 305, 306. Under the head of Amusements, we have a spirited account of the danger and escape of a party of pleasure, who landed, in a fine evening, on a low sandy island, which was covered with the tide at high water, and were left upon it by the drifting away of their boat.
“On the bright sand they trode with uimble feet,
Dry shelly sand that made the summer seat ;
And waves ran softly up their shining bed.” — p. 127. While engaged in their sports, they discover their boat floating at a distance, and are struck with instant terror.
PERIL AND DELIVERANCE
“Alas! no shout the distant land can reach,
Nor eye behold them from the foggy beach :
the rising wind blew sadly by.
“Now rose the water through the less'ning sand,
But hark! an oar,
Think of their danger, and their God adore.”—p. 127 — 130. In the letter on Education, there are some fine descriptions of boarding-schools for both sexes, and of the irksome and useless restraints which they impose on the bounding spirits and open affections of early youth. This is followed by sone excellent remarks on the ennui which so often falls to the lot of the learned - or that description at least of the learned that are bred in
FAULTS OF THE POEM.
English universities. But we have no longer left room for any considerable extracts; though we should have wished to lay before our readers some part of the picture of the sectaries — the description of the inns — the strolling players — and the clubs. The poor man's club, which partakes of the nature of a friendly society, is described with that good-hearted indulgence which marks all Mr. Crabbe's writings.
“ The printed rules he guards in painted frame,
And shows his children where to read his name," &c,
We have now alluded, we believe, to what is best and most striking in this poem; and, though we do not mean to quote any part of what we consider as less successful, we must say, that there are large portions of it which appear to us considerably inferior to most of the author's former productions. The letter on the Election, we look on as a complete failure — or at least as containing scarcely any thing of what it ought to have contained. The letters on Law and Physic, too, are tedious; and the general heads of Trades, Amusements, and Hospital Government, by no means amusing. The Parish Clerk, too, we find dull and without effect; and have already given our opinion of Peter Grimes, Abel Keene, and Benbow. We are struck, also, with several omissions in the picture of a maritime borough. Mr. Crabbe might have made a great deal of a press-gang; and, at all events, should have given us some wounded veteran sailors, and some voyagers with tales of wonder from foreign lands.
The style of this poem is distinguished, like all Mr. Crabbe's other performances, by great force and compression of diction — a sort of sententious brevity, once thought essential to poetical composition, but of which he is now the only living example. But though this is almost an unvarying characteristic of his style, it appears to us that there is great variety, and even some degree of unsteadiness and inconsistency in the tone of his expression and versification. His taste seems scarcely to be sufficiently fixed and settled as to these essential
particulars; and, along with a certain quaint, broken, and harsh manner of his own, we think we can trace very frequent imitations of poets of the most opposite character. The following antithetical and half-punning lines of Pope, for instance:
“Sleepless himself, to give his readers sleep;” and
“Whose trifling pleases, and whom trifles please ; " have evidently been copied by Mr. Crabbe in the following, and many others: —
“ And in the restless ocean, seek for rest."
Scraping they lived, but not a scrap they gave."
“ Among the poor, for poor distinctions sigh'd." In the same way, the common, nicely-balanced line of two members, which is so characteristic of the same author, has obviously been the model of our author in the following:
“ That woe could wish, or vanity devise."
“ Gloom to the night, and pressure to the chain ” and a great multitude of others.
On the other hand, he appears to us to be frequently misled by Darwin into a sort of mock-heroic magnificence, upon ordinary occasions. The poet of the Garden, for instance, makes his nymphs
“Present the fragrant quintessence of tea." And the poet of the Dock-yards makes his carpenters
Spread the warm pungence of o`erboiling tar.” Mr. Crabbe, indeed, does not scruple, on some occasions, to adopt the mock-heroic in good earnest. When the landlord of the Griffin becomes bankrupt, he says —
“ The insolvent Griffin struck her wings sublime
320 CRABBE — FAULTS OF STYLE AND VERSIFICATION.
and introduces a very serious lamentation over the learned poverty of the curate, with this most misplaced piece of buffoonery:
“Oh! had he learn'd to make the wig he wears!' One of his letters, too, begins with this wretched quibble:
“ From Law to Physic stepping at our ease,
We find a way to finish — by Degrees." There are many imitations of the peculiar rhythm of Goldsmith and Campbell
, too, as our readers must have observed in some of our longer specimens; — but these, though they do not always make a very harmonious combination, are better, at all events, than the tame heaviness and vulgarity of such verses as the following:
“ As soon
They heed as little what Socinians state.”— p. 54.
To some enrich the uncultivated space,” &c, &c. Of the sudden, harsh turns, and broken conciseness which we think peculiar to himself, the reader may take the following specimens:
“ Has your wife's brother, or your uncle's son,
that's the Mayor !" He has a sort of jingle, too, which we think is of his own invention ; — for instance,
For forms and feasts that sundry times have past,
And formal feasts that will for ever last." “We term it free and easy ; and yet we
Find it no easy matter to be free.' We had more remarks to make upon the taste and diction of this author ; and had noted several other little