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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; "
"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."
Denying her who taught thee to deny."
Scraping they lived, but not a scrap they gave."
'Bound for a friend, whom honour could not bind.”
"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."
"Sick without pity, sorrowing without hope."
"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:
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:
66 As soon
Could he have thought gold issued from the moon."
A seaman's body— there'll be more to-night."
"Those who will not to any guide submit,
'Here pits of crag, with spongy, plashy base,
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,
Done ought amiss; or is he thought t' have done?"
"Stepping from post to post he reach'd the chair:
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
We had more remarks to make upon the taste and diction of this author; and had noted several other little
MIGHT DO STILL BETTER THAN HAS DONE. 321
blemishes, which we meant to have pointed out for his correction: but we have no longer room for such minute criticism from which, indeed, neither the author nor the reader would be likely to derive any great benefit. We take our leave of Mr. Crabbe, therefore, by expressing our hopes that, since it is proved that he can write fast, he will not allow his powers to languish for want of exercise; and that we shall soon see him again repaying the public approbation, by entitling himself to a still larger share of it. An author generally knows his own forte so much better than any of his readers, that it is commonly a very foolish kind of presumption to offer any advice as to the direction of his efforts; but we own we have a very strong desire to see Mr. Crabbe apply his great powers to the construction of some interesting and connected story. He has great talents for narration; and that unrivalled gift in the delineation of character, which is now used only for the creation of detached portraits, might be turned to admirable account in maintaining the interest, and enhancing the probability, of an extended train of adventures. At present, it is impossible not to regret, that so much genius should be wasted in making us perfectly acquainted with individuals, of whom we are to know nothing but the characters. In such a poem, however, Mr. Crabbe must entirely lay aside the sarcastic and jocose style to which he has rather too great a propensity; but which we know, from what he has done in Sir Eustace Grey, that he can, when he pleases, entirely relinquish. That very powerful and original performance, indeed, the chief fault of which is, to be set too thick with images -to be too strong and undiluted, in short, for the digestion of common readers-makes us regret, that its author should ever have stopped to be trifling and ingenious or condescended to tickle the imaginations of his readers, instead of touching the higher passions of their nature.
Tales. By the Reverend GEORGE CRABBE. Svo. pp. 398. London: 1812.
WE are very thankful to Mr. Crabbe for these Tales; as we must always be for any thing that comes from his hands. But they are not exactly the tales which we wanted. We did not, however, wish him to write an Epic as he seems from his preface to have imagined. We are perfectly satisfied with the length of the pieces he has given us; and delighted with their number and variety. In these respects the volume is exactly as we could have wished it.
But we should have liked a little more of the deep and tragical passions; of those passions which exalt and overwhelm the soul to whose stormy seat the modern muses can so rarely raise their flight- and which he has wielded with such terrific force in his Sir Eustace Grey, and the Gipsy Woman. What we wanted, in short, were tales something in the style of those two singular compositions with less jocularity than prevails in the rest of his writings—rather more incidents and rather fewer details.
The pieces before us are not of this description; — they are mere supplementary chapters to "The Borough," or "The Parish Register." The same tone the same subjects -the same style, measure, and versification; the same finished and minute delineation of things ordinary and common- generally very engaging when employed upon external objects, but often fatiguing when directed merely to insignificant characters and habits; the same strange mixture too of feelings that tear the heart and darken the imagination, with starts of low humour and patches of ludicrous imagery; — the same kindly sympathy with the humble and innocent pleasures of the poor and inelegant, and the same in
CRABBE'S TALES MOSTLY OF HUMBLE LIFE. 323
dulgence for their venial offences, contrasted with a strong sense of their frequent depravity, and too constant a recollection of the sufferings it produces; and, finally, the same honours paid to the delicate affections and ennobling passions of humble life, with the same generous testimony to their frequent existence; mixed up, as before, with a reprobation sufficiently rigid, and a ridicule sufficiently severe, of their excesses and affectations.
If we were required to make a comparative estimate of the merits of the present publication, or to point out the shades of difference by which it is distinguished from those that have gone before it, we should say that there are a greater number of instances on which he has combined the natural language and manners of humble life with the energy of true passion, and the beauty of generous affection; -- in which he has traced out the course of those rich and lovely veins in the rude and unpolished masses that lie at the bottom of society; and unfolded, in the middling orders of the people, the workings of those finer feelings, and the stirrings of those loftier emotions which the partiality of other poets had attributed, almost exclusively, to actors on a higher
We hope, too, that this more amiable and consoling view of human nature will have the effect of rendering Mr. Crabbe still more popular than we know that he already is, among that great body of the people, from among whom almost all his subjects are taken, and for whose use his lessons are chiefly intended: and we say this, not only on account of the moral benefit which we think they may derive from them, but because we are persuaded that they will derive more pleasure from them than readers of any other description. Those who do not belong to that rank of society with which this powerful writer is chiefly conversant in his poetry, or who have not at least gone much among them, and attended diligently to their characters and occupations, can neither be half aware of the exquisite fidelity of his delineations, nor feel in their full force the better part of