Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
An Entanglement (from Tales of the Hall)
By George Crabbe (1754–1832)
 
          [The following is an extract from one of the Tales of the Hall, entitled ‘Delay has Danger.’ A young man, who is happily engaged to be married, finds himself, during a visit in a friend’s house, partly through his own weakness and folly, partly through the cunning designs of others, compromised in his relations with a girl of inferior station and insignificant attractions. The dialogue that ensues is between the unwilling lover and the girl’s adopted parents, who are upper servants in his host’s house, and who, having brought about the entanglement, now affect to encourage the lover in his timid advances.]

‘AN ORPHAN maid—your patience! you shall have
Your time to speak; I now attention crave—
Fanny, dear girl! has in my spouse and me
Friends of a kind we wish our friends to be,
None of the poorest—nay, sir, no reply,        5
You shall not need—and we are born to die;
And one yet crawls on earth, of whom, I say,
That what he has he cannot take away:
Her mother’s father, one who has a store
Of this world’s goods and always looks for more;        10
But, next his money, loves the girl at heart,
And she will have it when they come to part.’
  ‘Sir,’ said the youth, his terrors all awake,
‘Hear me, I pray, I beg—for mercy’s sake!
Sir, were the secrets of my soul confessed,        15
Would you admit the truths that I protest
Are such—your pardon—’
                        ‘Pardon! good my friend,
I not alone will pardon, I commend;
Think you that I have no remembrance left
Of youthful love and Cupid’s cunning theft?        20
How nymphs will listen when their swains persuade,
How hearts are gained and how exchange is made?
Come, sir, your hand—’
                        ‘In mercy hear me now!’
‘I cannot hear you, time will not allow:
You know my station, what on me depends,        25
For ever needed—but we part as friends;
And here comes one who will the whole explain,
My better self—and we shall meet again:’
‘Sir, I entreat—’
                ‘Then be entreaty made
To her, a woman, one you may persuade;        30
A little teasing, but she will comply,
And loves her niece too fondly to deny.’
‘O! he is mad, and miserable I!’
Exclaimed the youth; ‘but let me now collect
My scatter’d thoughts; I something must effect.’        35
Hurrying she came—‘Now what has he confessed,
Ere I could come to set your heart at rest?
What! he has grieved you! Yet he too approves
The thing! but man will tease you, if he loves.
But now for business: tell me, did you think        40
That we should always at your meetings wink?
Think you, you walked unseen? There are who bring
To me all secrets—O you wicked thing!
Poor Fanny! now I think I see her blush,
All red and rosy, when I beat the bush;        45
And “Hide your secret,”—said I, “if you dare!”
So out it came like an affrightened hare.
“Miss!” said I, gravely: and the trembling maid
Pleased me at heart to see her so afraid;
And then she wept,—now, do remember this,        50
Never to chide her when she does amiss;
For she is tender as the callow bird,
And cannot bear to have her temper stirred;—
“Fanny,” I said, then whispered her the name,
And caused such looks—yes, yours are just the same;        55
But hear my story—When your love was known
For this our child—she is in fact our own—
Then, first debating, we agreed at last
To seek my Lord and tell him what had passed.’
‘To tell the Earl?’

                    ‘Yes truly, and why not?
        60
And then together we contrived our plot.’
‘Eternal God!’
                ‘Nay be not so surprised,—
In all the matter we were well advised;
We saw my Lord, and Lady Jane was there,
And said to Johnson—‘Johnson, take a chair.’        65
True we are servants in a certain way,
But in the higher places so are they;
We are obeyed in ours and they in theirs obey—
So Johnson bowed, for that was right and fit,
And had no scruple with the Earl to sit—        70
Why look you so impatient while I tell
What they debated? You must like it well.’
*        *        *        *        *
  That evening all in fond discourse was spent
When the sad lover to his chamber went,
To think on what had passed, to grieve and to repent.        75
Early he rose, and looked with many a sigh
On the red light that filled the eastern sky;
Oft had he stood before, alert and gay,
To hail the glories of the new-born day:
But now dejected, languid, listless, low,        80
He saw the wind upon the water blow,
And the cold stream curled onward as the gale
From the pine hill blew harshly down the dale;
On the right side the youth a wood surveyed,
With all its dark intensity of shade;        85
Where the rough wind alone was heard to move,
In this, the pause of nature and of love,
When now the young are reared, and when the old,
Lost to the tie grow negligent and cold—
Far to the left he saw the huts of men,        90
Half hid in mist, that hung upon the fen;
Before him swallows gathering for the sea,
Took their short flights and twittered on the lea;
And near the bean-sheaf stood, the harvest done,
And slowly blackened in the sickly sun;        95
All these were sad in nature, or they took
Sadness from time, the likeness of his look,
And of his mind—he pondered for a while,
Then met his Fanny with a borrowed smile.
 
 
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