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PENALTIES OF WEAK INCONSTANCY.
How he, resenting first, forbore, forgave;
vol. ii. p. 36-46.
We always quote too much of Mr. Crabbe: - perhaps because the pattern of his arabesque is so large, that there is no getting a fair specimen of it with taking in a good space. But we must take warning this time, and forbear or at least pick out but a few little morsels as we pass hastily along. One of the best managed of all the tales is that entitled "Delay has Danger;' which contains a very full, true, and particular account of the way in which a weakish, but well meaning young man, engaged on his own suit to a very amiable girl, may be seduced, during her unlucky absence, to entangle himself with a far inferior person, whose chief seduction is her apparent humility and devotion to him.
We cannot give any part of the long and finely converging details by which the catastrophe is brought about: But we are tempted to venture on the catastrophe itself, for the sake chiefly of the right English, melancholy, autumnal landscape, with which it concludes:
"In that weak moment, when disdain and pride,
"That evening all in fond discourse was spent;
DULL AUTUMNAL LANDSCAPE.
On the right side the youth a wood survey'd,
Where the rough wind alone was heard to move,
When now the young are rear'd, and when the old,
Then met his Fanny with a borrow'd smile."— vol. ii. p. 84, 85. The moral autumn is quite as gloomy, and far more hopeless.
"The Natural Death of Love" is perhaps the best written of all the pieces before us. It consists of a very spirited dialogue between a married pair, upon the causes of the difference between the days of marriage and those of courtship; -in which the errors and faults of both parties, and the petulence, impatience, and provoking acuteness of the lady, with the more reasonable and reflecting, but somewhat insulting manner of the gentleman, are all exhibited to the life; and with more uniform delicacy and finesse than is usual with the author.
"Lady Barbara, or the Ghost," is a long story, and not very pleasing. A fair widow had been warned, or supposed she had been warned, by the ghost of a beloved brother, that she would be miserable if she contracted a second marriage and then, some fifteen years after, she is courted by the son of a reverend priest, to whose house she had retired and upon whom, during all the years of his childhood, she had lavished the cares of a mother. She long resists his unnatural passion; but is at length subdued by his urgency and youthful beauty, and gives him her hand. There is something rather disgusting, we think, in this fiction — and certainly the worthy lady could have taken no way so likely to save the ghost's credit, as by entering into such a marriageand she confessed as much, it seems, on her death-bed.
TALES OF THE HALL.
"The Widow," with her three husbands, is not quite so lively as the wife of Bath with her five; - but it is a very amusing, as well as a very instructive legend; and exhibits a rich variety of those striking intellectual portraits which mark the hand of our poetical Rembrandt. The serene close of her eventful life is highly exemplary. After carefully collecting all her dowers and jointures
The sea an object for reflecting minds,
And change for tender spirits: There she reads,
And weeps in comfort, in her graceful weeds!"-vol. ii. p. 213. The concluding tale is but the end of the visit to the Hall and the settlement of the younger brother near his senior, in the way we have already mentioned. It contains no great matter; but there is so much good nature and goodness of heart about it, that we cannot resist the temptation of gracing our exit with a bit of it. After a little raillery, the elder brother says
"We part no more, dear Richard! Thou wilt need
Thy brother's help to teach thy boys to read;
And I should love to hear Matilda's psalm,
To keep my spirit in a morning calm,
vol. ii. p. 348, 349 And then, after leading him up to his new purchase, he adds eagerly
Alight, my friend! and come,
Here, on this lawn, thy boys and girls shall run,
FAREWELL TO CRABBE.
While thou, more gravely, hiding thy delight,
vol. ii. p. 352.
We shall be abused by our political and fastidious readers for the length of this article. But we cannot repent of it. It will give as much pleasure, we believe, and do as much good, as many of the articles that are meant for their gratification; and, if it appear absurd to quote so largely from a popular and accessible work, it should be remembered, that no work of this magnitude passes into circulation with half the rapidity of our Journal- and that Mr. Crabbe is so unequal a writer, and at times so unattractive, as to require, more than any other of his degree, some explanation of his system, and some specimens of his powers, from those experienced and intrepid readers whose business it is to pioneer for the lazier sort, and to give some account of what they are to meet with on their journey. To be sure, all this is less necessary now than it was on Mr. Crabbe's first re-appearance nine or ten years ago; and though it may not be altogether without its use even at present, it may be as well to confess, that we have rather consulted our own gratification than our readers' improvement, in what we have now said of him; and hope they will forgive us.
1. Endymion: a Poetic Romance. By JOHN KEATS. pp. 207. London: 1818.
2. Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and other Poems. By JOHN KEATS, author of "Endymion." 12mo. pp. 200. London: 1820.*
We had never happened to see either of these volumes till very lately -and have been exceedingly struck with the genius they display, and the spirit of poetry which breathes through all their extravagance. That imitation of our old writers, and especially of our older dramatists, to which we cannot help flattering ourselves that we have somewhat contributed, has brought on, as it were, a second spring in our poetry; -and few of its blossoms are either more profuse of sweetness, or richer in promise, than this which is now before us. Keats, we understand, is still a very young man; and his whole works, indeed, bear evidence enough of the fact. They are full of extravagance and irregularity, rash attempts at originality, interminable wanderings, and excessive obscurity. They manifestly require therefore, all the indulgence that can be claimed for a first attempt: But we think it no less plain that they deserve it: For they are flushed all over with the rich lights of fancy; and so coloured and bestrewn with the flowers of poetry, that even while perplexed and bewil
* I still think that a poet of great power and promise was lost to us by the premature death of Keats, in the twenty-fifth year of his age; and regret that I did not go more largely into the exposition of his merits, in the slight notice of them, which I now venture to reprint. But though I cannot, with propriety, or without departing from the principle which must govern this republication, now supply this omission, I hope to be forgiven for having added a page or two to the citations, by which my opinion of those merits was then illustrated, and is again left to the judgment of the reader.