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326

CRABBE'S TALES

THE PARTING HOUR.

elements are dissipated by the variety of objects that move for ever in the world of fashion; and their essence tainted by the cares and vanities that are diffused in the atmosphere of that lofty region. But we are wandering into a long dissertation, instead of making our readers acquainted with the book before us. The most satisfactory thing we can do, we believe, is to give them a plain account of its contents, with such quotations and remarks as may occur to us as we proceed.

The volume contains twenty-one tales ; -- the first of which is called “ The Dumb Orators." This is not one of the most engaging; and is not judiciously placed at the portal, to tempt hesitating readers to go forward. The second, however, entitled “ The Parting Hour,” is of a far higher character, and contains some passages of great beauty and pathos. The story is simply that of a youth and a maiden in humble life, who had loved each other from their childhood, but were too poor to marry.

The youth goes to the West Indies to push his fortune ; but is captured by the Spaniards and carried to Mexico, where, in the course of time, though still sighing for his first love, he marries a Spanish girl, and lives twenty years with her and his children - he is then impressed, and carried round the world for twenty years longer; and is at last moved by an irresistible impulse, when old and shattered and lonely, to seek his native town, and the scene of his youthful vows. He comes and finds his Judith like himself in a state of widowhood, but still brooding, like himself, over the memory of their early love. She had waited twelve anxious years without tidings of him, and then married: and now when all passion, and fuel for passion, is extinguished within them, the memory of their young attachment endears them to each other, and they still cling together in sad and subdued affection, to the exclusion of all the rest of the world. The history of the growth and maturity of their innocent love is beautifully given: but we pass on to the scene of their parting:

* All things prepard, on the expected day Was seen the vessel anchord in the bay.

ANCIENT MARINER'S RETURN.

327

-P. 29.

From her would seamen in the evening come,
To take th' advent'rous Allen from his home;
With his own friends the final day he pass'd,
And every painful hour, except the last.
The grieving Father urg'd the cheerful glass,
To make the moments with less sorrow pass ;
Intent the Mother look'd upon her son,
And wish'd th' assent withdrawn, the deed undone ;
The younger sister, as he took his way,
Hung on his coat, and begg'd for more delay;
But his own Judith call d him to the shore,
Whom he must meet for they might meet no more! -
And there he found her faithful, mournful, true,
Weeping and waiting for a last adieu !
The ebbing tide had left the sand, and there
Mov'd with slow steps the melancholy pair :
Sweet were the painful moments

but how sweet, And without pain, when they again should meet!” The sad and long-delayed return of this ardent adventurer is described in a tone of genuine pathos, and in some places with such truth and force of colouring, as to outdo the efforts of the first dramatic representation.

“ But when return'd the Youth ? — the Youth no more
Return'd exulting to his native shore !
But forty years were past; and then there came
A worn-out man, with wither'd limbs and lame!
Yes! old and griev'd, and trembling with decay,
Was Allen landing in his native bay:
In an autumnal eve he left the beach,
In such an eve he chanc'd the port to reach:
He was alone; he press'd the very place
Of the sad parting, of the last embrace :
There stood his parents, there retir'd the Maid,
So fond, so tender, and so much afraid;
And on that spot, through many a year, his mind
Turnd mournful back, half sinking, half resign'd.

No one was present; of its crew bereft,
A single boat was in the billows left;
Sent from some anchor'd vessel in the bay,
At the returning tide to sail away:
O'er the black stern the moonlight softly play'd,
The loosen'd foresail flapping in the shade :
All silent else on shore; but from the town
A drowsy peal of distant bells came down :
From the tall houses, here and there, a light
Serv'd some confus'd remembrance to excite:
* There,' he observ'd, and new emotions felt,
Was my first home - and yonder Judith dwelt,' &c.

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328 CRABBE'S TALES

- MEETING OF LONG-PARTED LOVERS.

A swarthy matron he beheld, and thought
She might unfold the very truths he sought;
Confus'd and trembling, he the dame address'd :
• The Booths ! yet live they ?' pausing and oppress d:
Then spake again :— * Is there no ancient man,
David his name? — assist me, if you can.
Flemings there were ! — and Judith ! doth she live?'
The woman gaz'd, nor could an answer give;
Yet wond'ring stood, and all were silent by,

Feeling a strange and solemn sympathy."- p. 31, 32.
The meeting of the lovers is briefly told.

“But now a Widow, in a village near,
Chanc'd of the melancholy man to hear:
Old as she was, to Judith's bosom came
Some strong emotions at the well-known name;
He was her much-lov'd Allen! she had stay'd
Ten troubled years, a sad afflicted maid," &c.

“ The once-fond Lovers met: Not grief nor age,
Sickness or pain, their hearts could disengage :
Each had immediate confidence; a friend
Both now beheld, on whom they might depend :
• Now is there one to whom I can express

My nature's weakness, and my soul's distress.' There is something sweet and touching, and in a higher vein of poetry, in the story which he tells to Judith of all his adventures, and of those other ties, of which it still wrings her bosom to hear him speak.We can afford but one little extract.

“ There, hopeless ever to escape the land,

He to a Spanish maiden gave his hand;
In cottage shelter'd from the blaze of day,
He saw his happy infants round him play;
Where summer shadows made by lofty trees,
Wav'd o'er his seat, and sooth'd his reveries;
E'en then he thought of England, nor could sigh,
But his fond Isabel demanded Why?'
Griev'd by the story, she the sigh repaid,

And wept in pity for the English Maid."— p. 35, 36. The close is extremely beautiful, and leaves upon the mind just that impression of sadness which is both salutary and delightful, because it is akin to pity, and mingled with admiration and esteem.

“ Thus silent, musing through the day, he sees

His children sporting by those lofty trees,
Their mother singing in the shady scene
Where the fresh springs burst o'er the lively green;-

CONTRASTED VISIONS.

329

So strong his eager fancy, he affrights
The faithful widow by its pow'rful flights;
For what disturbs him he aloud will tell,
And cry — 'Tis she, my wife! my Isabel !'-
• Where are my children?' Judith grieves to hear
How the soul works in sorrows so severe;
Watch'd by her care, in sleep, his spirit takes
Its flight, and watchful finds her when he wakes.

"Tis now her office; her attention see!
While her friend sleeps beneath that shading tree,
Careful, she guards him from the glowing heat,
And pensive muses at her Allen's feet.

And where is he? Ah! doubtless in those scenes
Of his best days, amid the vivid greens,
Fresh with unnumber'd rills, where ev'ry gale
Breathes the rich fragrance of the neighb'ring vale ;
Smiles not his wife ? — and listens as there comes
The night-bird's music from the thick'ning glooms?
And as he sits with all these treasures nigh,
Gleams not with fairy-light the phosphor fly,
When like a sparkling gem it wheels illumin'd by ?
This is the joy that now so plainly speaks
In the warm transient flushing of his cheeks;
For he is list’ning to the fancied noise
Of his own children, eager in their joys !-
All this he feels; a dream's delusive bliss
Gives the expression, and the glow like this.
And now his Judith lays her knitting by,
These strong emotions in her friend to spy;
For she can fully of their nature deem
But see! he breaks the long protracted theme,
And wakes and cries — My God! 'twas but a dream !'" —

p. 39, 40. The third tale is “ The Gentleman Farmer," and is of a coarser texture than that we have just been considering — though full of acute observation, and graphic delineation of ordinary characters. The hero is not a farmer turned gentleman, but a gentleman turned farmer — a conceited, active, talking, domineering sort of

person -who plants and eats and drinks with great vigour — keeps a mistress, and speaks with audacious scorn of the tyranny of wives, and the impositions of priests, lawyers, and physicians. Being but a shallow fellow however at bottom, his confidence in his opinions declines gradually as his health decays; and, being seized with some maladies in his stomach, he ends with

330

CRABBE'S TALES

PROCRASTINATION.

marrying his mistress, and submitting to be triply governed by three of her confederates; in the respective characters of a quack doctor, a methodist preacher, and a projecting land steward. We cannot afford any extracts from this performance.

The next, which is called “Procrastination," has something of the character of the “Parting Hour;" but more painful, and less refined. It is founded like it on the story of a betrothed youth and maiden, whose mar. riage is prevented by their poverty; and this youth, too, goes to pursue his fortune at sea; while the damsel awaits his return, with an old female relation at home. He is crossed with many disasters, and is not heard of for many years. In the mean time, the virgin gradually imbibes her aunt's paltry love for wealth and finery; and when she comes, after long sordid expectation, to inherit her hoards, feels that those new tastes have supplanted every warmer emotion in her bosom; and, secretly hoping never more to see her youthful lover, gives herself up to comfortable gossiping and formal ostentatious devotion. At last, when she is set in her fine parlour, with her china and toys, and prayer-books around her, the impatient man bursts into her presence, and reclaims her vows! She answers coldly, that she has now done with the world, and only studies how to prepare to die ! and exhorts him to betake himself to the same needful meditations. We shall give the con. clusion of the scene in the author's own words. The faithful and indignant lover replies:

“ Heav'n's spouse thou art not: nor can I believe

That God accepts her, who will Man deceive :
True I am shatter'd, I have service seen,
And service done, and have in trouble been ;
My cheek (it shames me not) has lost its red,
And the brown buff is o'er my features spread;
Perchance my speech is rude ; for I among
Th’untam'd have been, in temper and in tongue ;
But speak my fate! For these my sorrows past,
Time lost, youth fled, hope wearied, and at last
This doubt of thee -- a childish thing to tell,
But certain truth, my very throat they swell ;
They stop the breath, and but for shame could I
Give way to weakness, and with passion cry;

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