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Tale XVII

George Crabbe 1754 (Aldborough) – 1832 (Trowbridge)



RESENTMENT.

Females there are of unsuspicious mind,
Easy and soft and credulous and kind;
Who, when offended for the twentieth time,
Will hear the offender and forgive the crime:
And there are others whom, like these to cheat,
Asks but the humblest efforts of deceit;
But they, once injured, feel a strong disdain,
And, seldom pardoning, never trust again;
Urged by religion, they forgive--but yet
Guard the warm heart, and never more forget:
Those are like wax--apply them to the fire,
Melting, they take th' impressions you desire;
Easy to mould and fashion as you please,
And again moulded with an equal ease:
Like smelted iron these the forms retain,
But once impress'd, will never melt again.
A busy port a serious Merchant made
His chosen place to recommence his trade;
And brought his Lady, who, their children dead,
Their native seat of recent sorrow fled:
The husband duly on the quay was seen,
The wife at home became at length serene;
There in short time the social couple grew
With all acquainted, friendly with a few;
When the good lady, by disease assail'd,
In vain resisted--hope and science fail'd:
Then spoke the female friends, by pity led,
'Poor merchant Paul! what think ye? will he wed?
A quiet, easy, kind, religious man,
Thus can he rest?--I wonder if he can.'
He too, as grief subsided in his mind,
Gave place to notions of congenial kind:
Grave was the man, as we have told before;
His years were forty--he might pass for more;
Composed his features were, his stature low,
His air important, and his motion slow:
His dress became him, it was neat and plain,
The colour purple, and without a stain;
His words were few, and special was his care
In simplest terms his purpose to declare;
A man more civil, sober, and discreet,
More grave and corteous, you could seldom meet:
Though frugal he, yet sumptuous was his board,
As if to prove how much he could afford;
For though reserved himself, he loved to see
His table plenteous, and his neighbours free:
Among these friends he sat in solemn style,
And rarely soften'd to a sober smile:
For this, observant friends their reason gave -
'Concerns so vast would make the idlest grave;
And for such man to be of language free,
Would seem incongruous as a singing tree:
Trees have their music, but the birds they shield -
The pleasing tribute for protection yield;
Each ample tree the tuneful choir defends,
As this rich merchant cheers his happy friends!'
In the same town it was his chance to meet
A gentle Lady, with a mind discreet;
Neither in life's decline, nor bloom of youth,
One famed for maiden modesty and truth:
By nature cool, in pious habits bred,
She look'd on lovers with a virgin's dread:
Deceivers, rakes, and libertines were they,
And harmless beauty their pursuit and prey;
As bad as giants in the ancient times
Were modern lovers, and the same their crimes:
Soon as she heard of her all-conquering charms,
At once she fled to her defensive arms;
Conn'd o'er the tales her maiden aunt had told,
And, statue like, was motionless and cold:
From prayer of love, like that Pygmalion pray'd,
Ere the hard stone became the yielding maid,
A different change in this chaste nymph ensued,
And turn'd to stone the breathing flesh and blood:
Whatever youth described his wounded heart,
'He came to rob her, and she scorn'd his art;
And who of raptures once presumed to speak,
Told listening maids he thought them fond and weak;
But should a worthy man his hopes display
In few plain words, and beg a yes or nay,
He would deserve an answer just and plain,
Since adulation only moved disdain -
Sir, if my friends object not, come again.'
Hence, our grave Lover, though he liked the

face,
Praised not a feature--dwelt not on a grace;
But in the simplest terms declared his state:
'A widow'd man, who wish'd a virtuous mate;
Who fear'd neglect, and was compell'd to trust
Dependants wasteful, idle, or unjust;
Or should they not the trusted stores destroy,
At best, they could not help him to enjoy;
But with her person and her prudence bless'd,
His acts would prosper, and his soul have rest:
Would she be his?'--'Why, that was much to say;
She would consider; he awhile might stay:
She liked his manners, and believed his word;
He did not flatter, flattery she abhorr'd:
It was her happy lot in peace to dwell -
Would change make better what was now so well?
But she would ponder.' 'This,' he said, 'was

kind;'
And begg'd to know 'when she had fix'd her mind.
Romantic maidens would have
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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George Crabbe

George Crabbe was an English poet, surgeon, and clergyman. more…

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