Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TALES OF THE HALL: BOOK 22. THE VISIT CONCLUDED, by GEORGE CRABBE



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TALES OF THE HALL: BOOK 22. THE VISIT CONCLUDED, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: No letters, tom?' said richard - 'none to-day'
Last Line: Our tale of tales! -- health, reader, and repose!


'NO letters, Tom?' said Richard -- 'None to-day.'
'Excuse me, Brother, I must now away;
Matilda never in her life so long
Deferr'd -- Alas! there must be something wrong!'
'Comfort!' said George, and all he could he lent;
'Wait till your promised day, and I consent;
Two days, and those of hope, may cheerfully be spent.
'And keep your purpose, to review the place,
My choice; and I beseech you do it grace:
Mark each apartment, their proportions learn,
And either use or elegance discern;
Look o'er the land, the gardens, and their wall,
Find out the something to admire in all;
And should you praise them in a knowing style,
I'll take it kindly -- it is well -- a smile.'

Richard must now his morning visits pay,
And bid farewell! for he must go away.
He sought the Rector first, not lately seen,
For he had absent from his parish been;
'Farewell!' the younger man with feeling cried,
'Farewell!' the cold but worthy priest replied;
'When do you leave us?' -- 'I have days but two:'
''Tis a short time -- but, well -- Adieu, adieu!'
'Now here is one,' said Richard, as he went
To the next friend in pensive discontent,
'With whom I sate in social, friendly ease,
Whom I respected, whom I wish'd to please;
Whose love profess'd, I question'd not was true,
And now to hear his heartless, "Well! adieu!"
'But 'tis not well -- and he a man of sense,
Grave, but yet looking strong benevolence;
Whose slight acerbity and roughness told
To his advantage; yet the man is cold;
Nor will he know, when rising in the morn,
That such a being to the world was born.
'Are such the friendships we contract in life?
O! give me then the friendship of a wife!
Adieus, nay, parting-pains to us are sweet,
They make so glad the moments when we meet.
'For though we look not for regard intense,
Or warm professions in a man of sense,
Yet in the daily intercourse of mind
I thought that found which I desired to find,
Feeling and frankness -- thus it seem'd to me,
And such farewell! -- Well, Rector, let it be!'
Of the fair sisters then he took his leave,
Forget he could not, he must think and grieve,
Must the impression of their wrongs retain,
Their very patience adding to his pain;
And still the better they their sorrows bore,
His friendly nature made him feel them more.
He judged they must have many a heavy hour
When the mind suffers from a want of power;
When troubled long we find our strength decay'd,
And cannot then recall our better aid;
For to the mind, ere yet that aid has flown,
Grief has possessed, and made it all his own;
And patience suffers, till, with gather'd might,
The scatter'd forces of the soul unite.
But few and short such times of suffering were
In Lucy's mind, and brief the reign of care.
Jane had, indeed, her flights, but had in them
What we could pity but must not condemn;
For they were always pure and oft sublime,
And such as triumph'd over earth and time,
Thoughts of eternal love that souls possess,
Foretaste divine of Heaven's own happiness.
Oft had he seen them, and esteem had sprung
In his free mind for maids so sad and young,
So good and grieving, and his place was high
In their esteem, his friendly brother's nigh,
But yet beneath; and when he said adieu!
Their tone was kind, and was responsive too.
Parting was painful; when adieu he cried,
'You will return?' the gentle girls replied;
'You must return! your Brother knows you now,
But to exist without you knows not how;
Has he not told us of the lively joy
He takes -- forgive us -- in the Brother-boy?
He is alone and pensive; you can give
Pleasure to one by whom a number live
In daily comfort -- sure for this you met,
That for his debtors you might pay a debt --
The poor are call'd ungrateful, but you still
Will have their thanks for this -- indeed you will.'
Richard but little said, for he of late
Held with himself contention and debate.
'My brother loves me, his regard I know,
But will not such affection weary grow?
He kindly says "defer the parting day,"
But yet may wish me in his heart away;
Nothing but kindness I in him perceive,
In me 'tis kindness then to take my leave;
Why should I grieve if he should weary be?
There have been visitors who wearied me;
He yet may love, and we may part in peace,
Nay, in affection -- novelty must cease --
Man is but man; the thing he most desires
Pleases awhile -- then pleases not -- then tires;
George to his former habits and his friends
Will now return, and so my visit ends.'
Thus Richard communed with his heart; but still
He found opposed his reason and his will,
Found that his thoughts were busy in this train,
And he was striving to be calm in vain.
These thoughts were passing while he yet forbore
To leave the friends whom he might see no more.
Then came a chubby child and sought relief,
Sobbing in all the impotence of grief;
A full fed girl she was, with ruddy cheek,
And features coarse, that grosser feelings speak,
To whom another miss, with passions strong,
And slender fist, had done some baby-wrong.
On Lucy's gentle mind had Barlow wrought
To teach this child, whom she had labouring taught
With unpaid love -- this unproductive brain
Would little comprehend, and less retain.
A farmer's daughter, with redundant health,
And double Lucy's weight and Lucy's wealth,
Had won the man's regard, and he with her
Possess'd the treasure vulgar minds prefer;
A man of thrift, and thriving, he possess'd
What he esteem'd of earthly good the best;
And Lucy's well-stored mind had not a charm
For this true lover of the well-stock'd farm,
This slave to petty wealth and rustic toil,
This earth-devoted wooer of the soil: --
But she with meekness took the wayward child,
And sought to make the savage nature mild.
But Jane her judgment with decision gave --
'Train not an idiot to oblige a slave.'
And where is Bloomer? Richard would have said,
But he was cautious, feeling, and afraid;
And little either of the hero knew,
And little sought -- he might be married too.
Now to his home, the morning visits past,
Return'd the guest -- that evening was his last.
He met his Brother, and they spoke of those
From whom his comforts in the village rose;
Spoke of the favourites, whom so good and kind
It was peculiar happiness to find:
Then for the sisters in their griefs they felt,
And, sad themselves, on saddening subject dwelt.
But George was willing all this woe to spare,
And let to-morrow be to-morrow's care:
He of his purchase talk'd -- a thing of course,
As men will boldly praise a new-bought horse.
Richard was not to all its beauty blind,
And promised still to seek, with hope to find:
'The price indeed -- --'
'Yes, that,' said George, 'is high;
But if I bought not, one was sure to buy,
Who might the social comforts we enjoy,
And every comfort lessen or destroy.
'We must not always reckon what we give,
But think how precious 'tis in peace to live;
Some neighbour Nimrod might in very pride
Have stirr'd my anger, and have then defied;
Or worse, have loved, and teased me to excess
By his kind care to give me happiness;
Or might his lady and her daughters bring
To raise my spirits, to converse, and sing:
'Twas not the benefit alone I view'd,
But thought what horrid things I might exclude.
'Some party man might here have sat him down,
Some country champion, railing at the crown,
Or some true courtier, both prepared to prove,
Who loved not them, could not their country love:
If we have value for our health and ease,
Should we not buy off enemies like these?'
So pass'd the evening in a quiet way,
When, lo! the morning of the parting day.
Each to the table went with clouded look,
And George in silence gazed upon a book;
Something that chance had offer'd to his view,
He knew not what, or cared not, if he knew.
Richard his hand upon a paper laid, --
His vacant eye upon the carpet stray'd;
His tongue was talking something of the day,
And his vex'd mind was wandering on his way.
They spake by fits, -- but neither had concern
In the replies, -- they nothing wish'd to learn,
Nor to relate; each sat as one who tries
To baffle sadnesses and sympathies:
Each of his Brother took a steady view, --
As actor he, and as observer too.
Richard, whose heart was ever free and frank,
Had now a trial, and before it sank:
He thought his Brother -- parting now so near --
Appear'd not as his Brother should appear;
He could as much of tenderness remark
When parting for a ramble in the park.
'Yet, is it just?' he thought; 'and would I see
My Brother wretched but to part with me?
What can he further in my mind explore?
He saw enough, and he would see no more:
Happy himself, he wishes now to slide
Back to his habits ---- He is satisfied;
But I am not -- this cannot be denied.
'He has been kind, -- so let me think him still;
Yet he expresses not a wish, a will
To meet again!' ---- And thus affection strove
With pride, and petulance made war on love:
He thought his Brother cool -- he knew him kind --
And there was sore division in his mind.
'Hours yet remain, -- 'tis misery to sit
With minds for conversation all unfit;
No evil can from change of place arise,
And good will spring from air and exercise:
Suppose I take the purposed ride with you,
And guide your jaded praise to objects new,
That buyers see?' ----
And Richard gave assent
Without resistance, and without intent:
He liked not nor declined, -- and forth the Brothers went.
'Come, my dear Richard! let us cast away
All evil thoughts, -- let us forget the day,
And fight like men with grief till we like boys are gay.'
Thus George, -- and even this in Richard's mind
Was judged an effort rather wise than kind;
This flow'd from something he observed of late,
And he could feel it, but he could not state:
He thought some change appear'd, -- yet fail'd to prove,
Even as he tried, abatement in the love;
But in his Brother's manner was restraint
That he could feel, and yet he could not paint.
That they should part in peace full well he knew,
But much he fear'd to part with coolness too:
George had been peevish when the subject rose,
And never fail'd the parting to oppose;
Name it, and straight his features cloudy grew
To stop the journey as the clouds will do; --
And thus they rode along in pensive mood,
Their thoughts pursuing, by their cares pursued.
'Richard,' said George, 'I see it is in vain
By love or prayer my Brother to retain;
And, truth to tell, it was a foolish thing
A man like thee from thy repose to bring
Ours to disturb -- -- Say, how am I to live
Without the comforts thou art wont to give?
How will the heavy hours my mind afflict, --
No one t' agree, no one to contradict,
None to awake, excite me, or prevent,
To hear a tale, or hold an argument,
To help my worship in a case of doubt,
And bring me in my blunders fairly out.
'Who now by manners lively or serene
Comes between me and sorrow like a screen,
And giving, what I look'd not to have found,
A care, an interest in the world around?'
Silent was Richard, striving to adjust
His thoughts for speech, -- for speak, he thought, he must:
Something like war within his bosom strove --
His mild, kind nature, and his proud self-love:
Grateful he was, and with his courage meek, --
But he was hurt, and he resolved to speak.
'Yes, my dear Brother! from my soul I grieve
Thee and the proofs of thy regard to leave:
Thou hast been all that I could wish, -- my pride
Exults to find that I am thus allied:
Yet to express a feeling, how it came,
The pain it gives, its nature and its name,
I know not, -- but of late, I will confess,
Not that thy love is little, but is less.
'Hadst thou received me in thy present mood,
Sure I had held thee to be kind and good;
But thou wert all the warmest heart could state,
Affection dream, or hope anticipate;
I must have wearied thee yet day by day, --
"Stay!" said my Brother, and 'twas good to stay;
But now, forgive me, thinking I perceive
Change undefined, and as I think I grieve.
'Have I offended? -- Proud although I be,
I will be humble, and concede to thee:
Have I intruded on thee when thy mind
Was vex'd, and then to solitude inclined?
O! there are times when all things will molest
Minds so disposed, so heavy, so oppress'd;
And thine, I know, is delicate and nice,
Sickening at folly, and at war with vice:
Then, at a time when thou wert vex'd with these,
I have intruded, let affection tease,
And so offended.' -- --
'Richard, if thou hast,
'Tis at this instant, nothing in the past:
No, thou art all a Brother's love would choose;
And, having lost thee, I shall interest lose
In all that I possess: I pray thee tell
Wherein thy host has fail'd to please thee well, --
Do I neglect thy comforts?' --
'O! not thou,
But art thyself uncomfortable now,
And 'tis from thee and from thy looks I gain
This painful knowledge -- 'tis my Brother's pain;
And yet that something in my spirit lives,
Something that spleen excites and sorrow gives,
I may confess, -- for not in thee I trace
Alone this change, it is in all the place:
Smile if thou wilt in scorn, for I am glad
A smile at any rate is to be had.
'But there is Jacques, who ever seem'd to treat
Thy Brother kindly as we chanced to meet;
Nor with thee only pleased our worthy guide,
But in the hedge-row path and green-wood side,
There he would speak with that familiar ease
That makes a trifle, makes a nothing please.
'But now to my farewell, -- and that I spoke
With honest sorrow, -- with a careless look,
Gazing unalter'd on some stupid prose --
His sermon for the Sunday I suppose, --
"Going?" said he: "why then the 'Squire and you
Will part at last -- You're going? -- Well, adieu!"
'True, we were not in friendship bound like those
Who will adopt each other's friends and foes,
Without esteem or hatred of their own, --
But still we were to intimacy grown;
And sure of Jacques when I had taken leave
It would have grieved me, -- and it ought to grieve;
But I in him could not affection trace, --
Careless he put his sermons in their place,
With no more feeling than his sermon-case.
'Not so those generous girls beyond the brook, --
It quite unmann'd me as my leave I took.
'But, my dear Brother! when I take at night,
In my own home, and in their mother's sight,
By turns my children, or together see
A pair contending for the vacant knee,
When to Matilda I begin to tell
What in my visit first and last befell --
Of this your village, of her tower and spire,
And, above all, her Rector and her 'Squire,
How will the tale be marr'd when I shall end --
I left displeased the Brother and the friend!'
'Nay, Jacques is honest -- Marry, he was then
Engaged -- What! part an author and his pen?
Just in the fit, and when th'inspiring ray
Shot on his brain, t' arrest it in its way!
Come, thou shalt see him in an easier vein,
Nor of his looks nor of his words complain:
Art thou content?' --
If Richard had replied,
'I am,' his manner had his words belied:
Even from his Brother's cheerfulness he drew
Something to vex him -- what, he scarcely knew:
So he evading said, 'My evil fate
Upon my comforts throws a gloom of late:
Matilda writes not; and, when last she wrote,
I read no letter -- 'twas a trader's note, --
"Yours I received," and all that formal prate
That is so hateful, that she knows I hate.
'Dejection reigns, I feel, but cannot tell
Why upon me the dire infection fell:
Madmen may say that they alone are sane,
And all beside have a distemper'd brain;
Something like this I feel, -- and I include
Myself among the frantic multitude:
But, come, Matilda writes, although but ill,
And home has health, and that is comfort still.'
George stopt his horse, and with the kindest look
Spoke to his Brother, -- earnestly he spoke,
As one who to his friend his heart reveals,
And all the hazard with the comfort feels.
'Soon as I loved thee, Richard, -- and I loved
Before my reason had the will approved,
Who yet right early had her sanction lent,
And with affection in her verdict went, --
So soon I felt, that thus a friend to gain,
And then to lose, is but to purchase pain:
Daily the pleasure grew, then sad the day
That takes it all in its increase away!
'Patient thou wert, and kind, -- but well I knew
The husband's wishes, and the father's too;
I saw how check'd they were, and yet in secret grew:
Once and again, I urged thee to delay
Thy purposed journey, still deferr'd the day,
And still on its approach the pain increased
Till my request and thy compliance ceased;
I could not further thy affection task,
Nor more of one so self-resisting ask;
But yet to lose thee, Richard, and with thee
All hope of social joys -- it cannot be.
Nor could I bear to meet thee as a boy
From school, his parents, to obtain a joy,
That lessens day by day, and one will soon destroy.
'No! I would have thee, Brother, all my own,
To grow beside me as my trees have grown;
For ever near me, pleasant in my sight,
And in my mind, my pride and my delight.
'Yet will I tell thee, Richard; had I found
Thy mind dependent and thy heart unsound,
Hadst thou been poor, obsequious, and disposed
With any wish or measure to have closed,
Willing on me and gladly to attend,
The younger brother, the convenient friend;
Thy speculation its reward had made
Like other ventures -- thou hadst gain'd in trade;
What reason urged, or Jacques esteem'd thy due,
Thine had it been, and I, a trader too,
Had paid my debt, and home my Brother sent,
Nor glad nor sorry that he came or went;
Who to his wife and children would have told,
They had an uncle, and the man was old;
Till every girl and boy had learn'd to prate
Of uncle George, his gout, and his estate.
'Thus had we parted; but as now thou art,
I must not lose thee -- No! I cannot part;
Is it in human nature to consent,
To give up all the good that heaven has lent,
All social ease and comfort to forego,
And live again the solitary? No!
'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,
And feel the soft devotion that prepares
The soul to rise above its earthly cares;
Then thou and I, an independent two,
May have our parties, and defend them too;
Thy liberal notions, and my loyal fears,
Will give us subjects for our future years;
We will for truth alone contend and read,
And our good Jacques shall oversee our creed.
'Such were my views; and I had quickly made
Some bold attempts my Brother to persuade
To think as I did; but I knew too well
Whose now thou wert, with whom thou wert to dwell,
And why, I said, return him doubtful home,
Six months to argue if he then would come
Some six months after? and, beside, I know
That all the happy are of course the slow;
And thou at home art happy, there wilt stay,
Dallying 'twixt will and will-not many a day,
And fret the gloss of hope, and hope itself away.
'Jacques is my friend; to him I gave my heart,
You see my Brother, see I would not part;
Wilt thou an embassy of love disdain?
Go to this sister, and my views explain;
Gloss o'er my failings, paint me with a grace
That Love beholds, put meaning in my face;
Describe that dwelling; talk how well we live,
And all its glory to our village give;
Praise the kind sisters whom we love so much,
And thine own virtues like an artist touch.
'Tell her, and here my secret purpose show,
That no dependence shall my sister know;
Hers all the freedom that she loves shall be,
And mine the debt, -- then press her to agree;
Say, that my Brother's wishes wait on hers,
And his affection what she wills prefers.
'Forgive me, Brother, -- these my words and more
Our friendly Rector to Matilda bore;
At large, at length, were all my views explain'd,
And to my joy my wishes I obtain'd.
'Dwell in that house, and we shall still be near,
Absence and parting I no more shall fear;
Dwell in thy home, and at thy will exclude
All who shall dare upon thee to intrude.
'Again thy pardon, -- 'twas not my design
To give surprise; a better view was mine;
But let it pass -- and yet I wish'd to see
That meeting too: and happy may it be!'
Thus George had spoken, and then look'd around,
And smiled as one who then his road had found;
'Follow!' he cried, and briskly urged his horse:
Richard was puzzled, but obey'd of course;
He was affected like a man astray,
Lost, but yet knowing something of the way;
Till a wood clear'd, that still conceal'd the view,
Richard the purchase of his Brother knew;
And something flash'd upon his mind not clear,
But much with pleasure mix'd, in part with fear;
As one who wandering through a stormy night
Sees his own home, and gladdens at the sight,
Yet feels some doubt if fortune had decreed
That lively pleasure in such time of need;
So Richard felt -- but now the mansion came
In view direct, -- he knew it for the same;
There too the garden walk, the elms design'd
To guard the peaches from the eastern wind;
And there the sloping glass, that when he shines
Gives the sun's vigour to the ripening vines. --
'It is my Brother's!' --
'No!' he answers, 'No!
'Tis to thy own possession that we go;
It is thy wife's, and will thy children's be,
Earth, wood, and water! -- all for thine and thee;
Bought in thy name -- Alight, my friend, and come,
I do beseech thee, to thy proper home;
There wilt thou soon thy own Matilda view,
She knows our deed, and she approves it too;
Before her all our views and plans were laid,
And Jacques was there t' explain and to persuade.
Here, on this lawn, thy boys and girls shall run,
And play their gambols when their tasks are done;
There, from that window, shall their mother view
The happy tribe, and smile at all they do;
While thou, more gravely, hiding thy delight,
Shalt cry "O! childish!" and enjoy the sight.

'Well, my dear Richard, there's no more to say --
Stay, as you will -- do any thing -- but stay;
Be, I dispute not, steward -- what you will,
Take your own name, but be my Brother still.
'And hear me, Richard! if I should offend,
Assume the patron, and forget the friend;
If aught in word or manner I express
That only touches on thy happiness;
If I be peevish, humorsome, unkind,
Spoil'd as I am by each subservient mind;
For I am humour'd by a tribe who make
Me more capricious for the pains they take
To make me quiet; shouldst thou ever feel
A wound from this, this leave not time to heal,
But let thy wife her cheerful smile withhold,
Let her be civil, distant, cautious, cold;
Then shall I woo forgiveness, and repent,
Nor bear to lose the blessings Heaven has lent.'
But this was needless -- there was joy of heart,
All felt the good that all desired t' impart;
Respect, affection, and esteem combined,
In sundry portions ruled in every mind;
And o'er the whole an unobtrusive air
Of pious joy, that urged the silent prayer,
And bless'd the new-born feelings -- -- Here we close
Our Tale of Tales! -- Health, reader, and repose!





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