Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, POSTHUMOUS TALES: TALE 15. BELINDA WATERS, by GEORGE CRABBE

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POSTHUMOUS TALES: TALE 15. BELINDA WATERS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Of all the beauties in our favour'd place
Last Line: Who blames and fondles, humours, chides, and loves.


OF all the beauties in our favour'd place,
BELINDA WATERS was the pride and grace.
Say ye who sagely can our fortunes read,
Shall this fair damsel in the world succeed?
A rosy beauty she, and fresh and fair,
Who never felt a caution or a care;
Gentle by nature, ever fond of ease,
And more consenting than inclined to please.
A tame good nature in her spirit lives --
She hates refusal for the pain it gives:
From opposition arguments arise,
And to prevent the trouble, she complies.
She, if in Scotland, would be fash'd all day,
If call'd to any work or any play;
She lets no busy, idle wish intrude,
But is by nature negatively good.
In marriage hers will be a dubious fate:
She is not fitted for a high estate; --
There wants the grace, the polish, and the pride;
Less is she fitted for a humble bride:
Whom fair Belinda weds -- let chance decide!
She sees her father oft engross'd by cares,
And therefore hates to hear of men's affairs:
An active mother in the household reigns,
And spares Belinda all domestic pains.
Of food she knows but this, that we are fed: --
Though, duly taught, she prays for daily bread,
Yet whence it comes, of hers is no concern --
It comes! and more she never wants to learn.
She on the table sees the common fare,
But how provided is beneath her care.
Lovely and useless, she has no concern
About the things that aunts and mothers learn;
But thinks, when married, -- if she thinks at all, --
That what she needs will answer to her call.
To write is business, and, though taught to write,
She keeps the pen and paper out of sight:
What once was painful she cannot allow
To be enjoyment or amusement now.
She wonders why the ladies are so fond
Of such long letters, when they correspond.
Crowded and cross'd by ink of different stain,
She thinks to read them would confuse her brain;
Nor much mistakes; but still has no pretence
To praise for this, her critic's indolence.
Behold her now! she on her sofa looks
O'er half a shelf of circulating books.
This she admired, but she forgets the name,
And reads again another, or the same.
She likes to read of strange and bold escapes,
Of plans and plottings, murders and mishaps,
Love in all hearts, and lovers in all shapes.
She sighs for pity, and her sorrows flow
From the dark eyelash on the page below;
And is so glad when, all the misery past,
The dear adventurous lovers meet at last --
Meet and are happy; and she thinks it hard,
When thus an author might a pair reward --
When they, the troubles all dispersed, might wed --
He makes them part, and die of grief instead!
Yet tales of terror are her dear delight,
All in the wintry storm to read at night;
And to her maid she turns in all her doubt, --
'This shall I like? and what is that about?'
She had 'Clarissa' for her heart's dear friend --
Was pleased each well-tried virtue to commend,
And praised the scenes that one might fairly doubt,
If one so young could know so much about:
Pious and pure, th' heroic beauty strove
Against the lover and against the love;
But strange that maid so young should know the strife,
In all its views, was painted to the life!
Belinda knew not -- nor a tale would read,
That could so slowly on its way proceed;
And ere Clarissa reach'd the wicked town,
The weary damsel threw the volume down.
'Give me,' she said, 'for I would laugh or cry,
"Scenes from the Life," and "Sensibility;"
"Winters at Bath," -- I would that I had one!
"The Constant Lover," the "Discarded Son,"
"The Rose of Raby," "Delmore," or "The Nun."
These promise something, and may please, perhaps,
Like "Ethelinda," and the dear "Relapse."'
To these her heart the gentle maid resign'd,
And such the food that fed the gentle mind.


P. KNEW you the fair BELINDA, once the boast
Of a vain mother, and a favourite toast
Of clerks and young lieutenants, a gay set
Of light admirers? -- Is she married yet?
F. Yes! she is married; though she waited long,
Not from a prudent fear of choosing wrong,
But want of choice. -- She took a surgeon's mate,
With his half pay, that was his whole estate.
Fled is the charming bloom that nature spread
Upon her cheek, the pure, the rosy red --
This, and the look serene, the calm, kind look, are fled.
Sorrow and sadness now the place possess,
And the pale cast of anxious fretfulness.
She wonders much -- as, why they live so ill, --
Why the rude butcher brings his weekly bill, --
She wonders why that baker will not trust, --
And says, most truly says, -- 'Indeed, he must.'
She wonders where her former friends are gone, --
And thus, from day to day, she wonders on.
Howe'er she can -- she dresses gaily yet,
And then she wonders how they came in debt.
Her husband loves her, and in accent mild,
Answers, and treats her like a fretted child;
But when he, ruffled, makes severe replies,
And seems unhappy -- then she pouts, and cries
'She wonders when she'll die!' -- She faints, but never dies.
'How well my father lived!' she says. -- 'How well,
My dear, your father's creditors could tell!'
And then she weeps, till comfort is applied,
That soothes her spleen or gratifies her pride:
Her dress and novels, visits and success
In a chance-game, are soft'ners of distress.
So life goes on! -- But who that loved his life,
Would take a fair Belinda for his wife?
Who thinks that all are for their stations born,
Some to indulge themselves, and to adorn;
And some, a useful people, to prepare,
Not being rich, good things for those who are,
And who are born, it cannot be denied,
To have their wants and their demands supplied.
She knows that money is a needful thing,
That fathers first, and then that husbands bring;
Or if those persons should the aid deny,
Daughters and wives have but to faint and die,
Till flesh and blood can not endure the pain,
And then the lady lives and laughs again.
To wed an ague, and to feel, for life,
Hot fits and cold succeeding in a wife;
To take the pestilence with poison'd breath,
And wed some potent minister of death,
Is cruel fate -- yet death is then relief;
But thus to wed is ever-during grief.
Oft have I heard, how blest the youth who weds
Belinda Waters! -- rather he who dreads
That fate -- a truth her husband well approves,
Who blames and fondles, humours, chides, and loves.

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