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has an eye to seize and a hand to copy the wild and fleeting appearances of nature.
The lines which commence the second letter are so much to our taste, and go so far toward making some degree of atonement for the moral blemishes of the poem already noticed, that we willingly introduce them.
««What is a Church?”-le: Truth and Reason speak,
Of all professions, and in every place.'' p. 17.
. In the third letter, which describes the Vicar and Curate,
What said their Prophet ? Should'st thou disobey,
« Thy evening wish;-would God! I saw the Sup;
Thy morning sigh,--would God! the Day were done. « Thus shalt thou suffer, and to distant times
Regret thy Misery and lament thy Crimes.” The characters of Archer, the honest but stern and suspicious attorney, and that of the cunning and unprincipled Swallow, are well drawn ; but in the latter, Mr. C. takes care to throw in some sarcasms on the zealots,' who were too ready to claim him as a convert and trust him as a treasurer.
We must pass bastily over several of the succeeding letters, which contain some pleasing sketches of scenery and manners, but
upon the whole rather tire than encourage the attention. The tenth letter affords a good specimen of Mr. C.'s manner; it is a card-table scene, which some of our readers may find no difficulty in realizing.
Meantime Discretion bids the Tongue be still,
“ Sir, I protest, were Job himself at play,
• Complain of me! and so you might indeed,
“ Yes, and their Diamonds : I have heard of one
• Better a Beggar, than to see him tied
I'd strive to be polite,
Against their Nature they might show their Skill
of Insult Sir, when next you play, « Reflect whose Money 'tis you throw away. “ No one on Earth can less such things regard, » But when one's partner does’nt know a Card
• I scorn Suspicion, Ma'am, but while you stand usipi • Behind that Lady, pray keep down your hand.'
• Good Heav'n, revoke! remember, if the Set
“ There, there's your Money; but, while I have life,
we, poor devils ! never can divine :
“Or goes it all to Family Account?”' pp. 138, 139, There are some happy observations in the same letter, on the quarrels and reconciliations of what is called a convivial party.
• Till Wine, that rais’d the Tempest makes it cease,
And jovial Folly drinks and sings and sleeps.' p. 141. In this and the following extract, there is an air of truth and a vein of humour, which recal and perhaps excel many of the passages we admire in Cowper.
« A Club there is of Smokers-Dare you come
Of late so fast, is now grown drowsy too.' p. 141, Much of a similar kind will be found in the amusing letter on Inns : but the mode of introducing the signs, is rather forced and affected. The story of James and Juliet exposes the author to the same kind of censure we have already intimated; his lenity and sprightliness on the subject of “frailty,' is a fine contrast to his bitterness on that of
enthusiasm. The story of Frederic, in the letter on Stroll. ing Players, is curious, but not told with the author's usual felicity.
The character of Sir Denys Brand, governor of the almshouse, is a fine portrait of a very original and peculiar subject. It is needless to observe, how well Mr. Crabbe suc. ceeds in this sort of delineation. He chooses his character well: his strokes are masterly, and his likenesses striking.
We cannot particularize the distinguishing merits of those of Blaney the profligate, Clelia the vicious and worn-out coquette, Benbow the “boon companion,' (the least interesting of all except for the memoir of a Squire Asgill which he is made to relate,) Jachin already alluded to, and Ellen Orford a signal example of patience under a complication of distress. In this last story, a horrible incident is introduced, like a ghastly corpse or frightful spectre in the back ground of a picture, not very obvious, but which the moment it is discerned chills the blood: it even surpasses the unnatural outrage related in his poem, iutitled the Hall of Justice.' The art with which this discovery is intimated, would on any other occasion deserve praise. But we question the wisdom of familiarizing the mind with brutal profligacy and portentous crimes.
The story of Abcl k'eene is very singular. He is described as a quiet simple man, who grew oid in the lowest rank of pedagogues, and at length became clerk in a counting. house, where he was persuaded to turn infidel, beau, and debauchee. Our first extract contains part of his confessions, when worn out with age, and struggling, half-insane, between fear and presumption, remorse and intidelity.
The master-picce of the volume, however, for energy of conception and effect, is the story of Peter Grimes, a ruffian from his very infancy, a ferocious tyrart and suspected murderer, who finally became a madman, tormented with the most gloomy visions, and self-convicted of the most atrocious crimes. We have been exceedingly struck with the peculiar and unrivalled skill, with which Mr. Crabbe paints the 'horrors of a disordered imagination ; a pre-eminence which we can only account for, by supposing it may 1 have been his mourutul privilege, for a considerable length of time, to watch the emotions and hear the ravings of the insane.
Our extracts must conclude with a view of low life, in Mr. Crabbe's own manner. It represents the interior of a large building, inhabited by a promiscuous and vile assemblage of all the shapes of physical and moral evil. It is a companionpicture to the smuggler's haunt in his Village.
- Where'er the Floor allows an even space,
• Here by a Curtain, by a Blanket there,
The drowsy Children at their pleasure creep
• Each end contains a Grate, and there beside
As suit the Purse, the Person, or the Prey.' p. 250. If we had not trespassed too far, we should add our author's character of the excellent Eusebius. We have left, however, too little room for a few general remarks. On the whole, we must say this is not a very pleasing poem, and we question whether its popularity will ever bear a due proportion to the talent which in many passages it displays. There is no unity in it, no subject on which the interest excited may
be concentrated and fixed. Of the borough, we know and care as Jitle at the last page as at the first; perhaps less, because the title raises a curiosity which the volume disappoints. The admirable descriptions of scenery and sketches of character have scarcely any connection and dependence, either mutual or common; and would lose no interest if detached. There is also a great sameness in the subjects; they are specifically different, but generically alike. As the poem is too long, this fault is peculiarly unfortunate. Moral reflections are interspersed, of which, generally, however, it were better to be silent; for what could we say in behalf of such lines as these?
· Vice, dreadful habit! when assum'd so long,
It takes possession, and for ever reigns." p. 172. There is often a point and an edge in the expression, when there is not much strength or temper in the thought. There is little to delight the fancy, and less to captivate the heart. The versification also is monotonous; the perpetual, snappish recurrence of antitheses is tiresome'; there are many very dull paragraphs, and numberless feeble lines. Several couplets are patched up with expletive clauses; and as the rhymes are generally very good, the consequence is that they are sometimes better than the diction. On one occasion, Mr. C. mentions the singular phænomenon of a young woman's • terrors doubling as her hopes withdrew;' and in the following couplet, the devnavayun of rhyme is but loo tyraanical.
• These drew him back, till Juliet's hut appeared,
Where love had draws him when he should have feared.? It is quite needless to add any recommendation to our readers, to examine the poem for themselves. VOL. VI.