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ing the Creator with daring flights of unpremeditated absurdity,' if intended to apply indiscriminately, can only be excused, by supposing the writer ignorant and rash, instead of malicious and unprincipled. There is too much truth, we fear, in his strictures on the author of the Bank of Faith ;' but the criticism (in his note, p. xxiii,) on a particular instance of inaccuracy, might as well have been spa, red, in a volume which abounds with errors in grammar
and spelling, and which has for its motto, Paulo majore canamus.'
Were it allowed, however, that Mr. C. has confined himself to the exact truth of the care in depicting the absurdities of individuals, we should nevertheless object to his sketches, because they will be understood to apply to whole societies. And whatever absurdities may prevail in these societies, we should still object to Mr. Crabbe's manner of exposing them, as in the first place unfair, and in the next pernicious. If a fair description were given of these
enthusiasts' and 'fanatics,' (we speak generally, not universally) it would include so much of genuine devotion, strict sobriety, and zealous benevolence, so many of the dispositions and habits that conduce to domestic comfort, public peace, and national wealth, and among the lower orders at Jeast so decided a superiority in intellect to those who are their equals in station, as would amply atone for a few harmless extravagancies and trivial mistakes. If Mr. Crabbe had thought it safe or prudent to do justice to these enthusiastical persons, he would have represented them, on the whole, as rather the salt. than the offscouring' of the earth.-lo short, what would he have thought of the liberality of a sectarian poet, who should undertake in his turn to describe a borough, and represent the clergyman as performing the burial service wbile he was intoxicated, and crowning his final benediction with an oath? What would he think of the writer, who should profess to describe the members of the established church duly regenerated in baptism, and perform his task by giving sketches of biography from the hulks, or of deportment at the gallows ? - But the mockery with which Mr. Crabbe has treated these sincere, though in some instances mistaken religionists, is as injurious to the public as it is unjust to the individual. There is no surer method, perhaps, of inaking piety itself contemptible, in the estimation of the trifling, thoughtless, and vicious, than by fixing their attention on the meanest of its professors. The scorn excited against the errors with which certain tenets are often combined, attaches itself but too readily, in an irreligious mind, to the tenets themselves; and even habits of virtue, when exhibited in connection with
what is uncouth, fantastic, and absurd, become in effect the butts of ridicule. Religion, however, is not so light and trifling a concern, that it should ever be made the theme of wit and the cause of merriment. Instead of enforcing this point more at large, we will express and sanction our own sentiments by employing the language of Paley; and we hope that the following extract from a publication, which inay be considered as communicating the death-bed senti-. ments of that great man, will make a deep impression on Mr. Crabbe (who certainly, cannot bave read it before), as well as on our readers in general. After observing that the first and most indispensable requisite in religion is seriousness, and mentioning levity in conversation upon religious subjects, or subjects connected with religion, as one of the most powerful means of preventing or destroying it, Dr. Paley remarks, that
“ The turn which this levity usually takes, is in jests and raillery upon the opinions, or the peculiarities, or the persons, of men of particular sects, or who bear particular names ; especially if they happen to be more serious than ourselves. And of fate this loose, and I can hardly help calling it profane humour, has been directed chiefly against the followers of methodism. But against whomsoever it happens to be pointed, it has all the bad effects both upon the speaker and the hearer which we have noticed : and as in other instances, so in this, give me leave to say that it is very much misplaced. In the first place, were the doctrines and sentiments of those who bear this name ever so foolish and extravagant (I do not say that they are either) this proposition I shall always maintain to be true, viz. that the wildest opinion that ever was entertained in matters of religion, is more rational than unconcern about these matters. Upon this subject nothing is so absurd as indifference ; no folly 80 contemptible as thoughtlessness and levity. In the next place, do methodists deserve this treatment ? Be their particular doctrines what they may, the professors of these doctrines appear to be in earnest about them, and a man who is in earnest in religion cannot be a bad still less a fit subject for derision. I am no methodist myself. In their leading doctrines I differ from them. But I contend, that sincere men are not, for these, or indeed any doctrines, to be made laughing stocks to others. I do not bring in the case of the methodists in this part
my discourse, for the purpose of vindicating their tenets, but for the purpose of observing and I wish that the observation may weigh with all my readers) that the custom of treating their characters and persons, their preaching or their preachers, their meetings, or worship, with scorn, has the pernicious consequence of destroying our own seriousness, together with the seriousness of those who hear or join in such sort of conversation ; especially if they be young persons ; and I am persuaded that much mischief is actually done in this very way.” Sermon on Se. riousness.
If burlesque and buffoonery were ever the proper method of correcting religious excentricities, and if ever it were a
fit method for a clergyman to employ, it would be, when the greatest anxiety was evinced to counteract its pernicious tendency,-when a careful separation was made between piety itself and the errors with which it was associated, and when the profoundest reverence was manifested for sound principles, enlightened zeal, and pure morality. The readers of the Reverend Mr. Crabbe's former publication will not be very forward to suppose, that his satire in the poem under review is thus checked and guarded. Among other passages that we fear bave not the best tendency, is the story of Jachin,--parish clerk, distinguished for his austerity of manners, but who was at length detected in pilfering from the communion, money, and sinking down, heart-broken with remorse and the public contempt, died miserably, at the moment when the vicar, who till then it seems) had neglected him, came to inquire the state of his mind: A part of this story, which would be more creditable to Peter Pindar than to the Reve: rend George Crabbe, we shall transcribe.
• This book-taught Man, with ready Mind receiv'd
“ Me has the sly Seducer oft withstood,”
the House where swings the tempting Sign,
pass the Damsels pacing down the Street,
At Feasts and Banquets seldom am I found,
Master goes, forbear to go.” • * John Bunyan, in one of the many productions of his zeal, has ven tured to make public this extraordinary sentiment, which the frigid piety of our Clerk so readily adopted.
• No wonder Satan took the thing amist,
. With his own Peace our Clerk was not content,
He tried, good Man! to make his Friends repent,' &c. As the author of these facetious lines is a clergyman, it is impossible he could intend to ridicule two received doctrines of Holy Writ, the agency of evil spirits on the mind, and the sinfulness of mental adultery. We should be happy to conceive of any good motive he could have, for representing the believer in these truths as a hypocrite and a thief, or for exhibiting them in terms of indecent and profane jocularity. It must be with a very ill grace that he will in future obey the injunction to Timothy, Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.' Mr. Crabbe may think to defend himself, by saying the picture is taken from real life; a defence which will suit exactly as well for the venders of licentious pamphlets and obscene prints. A very false idea of our currency would be conveyed to a foreigner, if he were shewn. a clipped or counterfeit guinea, unless he were distinctly informed, that, though such pieces were to be found in the circulating medium of the country, the bulk of our coin was of a very different description. Pro. fligates are naturally disposed to represent the counter-feits of piety, as genuine specimens; and do their utmost to cherish in their own minds the prejudice it is their interest to propagate. We are sorry that such prejudices as these should derive support from such a writer as Mr. Crabbe.
Considering the moral tendency of this poem as unspeak. ably more important than its poetical merit, we make no apology for the length of these strictures. We must own the performance appears to us almost certain to do some harm, and almost incapable of doing any good; so that we feel some degree of reluctance to congratulate Mr. Crabbe, on the ability it discovers, and the reputation it will acquire. In our view,
a most heavy responsibility attaches to the possession of leisure and talents; and it would have been à satisfaction to us to announce a poem from the pen of a clergyman, which might afford him consolation in his last moments, by a recollection of the hours he had empluy. ed in writing it, and an anticipation of its future utility. But though we are not constrained in this instance to revere his character or applaud his diligence, we willingly do honour to his genius. In spite of the prejudice which his preface is calculated to awaken, we have perused many parts of his poem with great satisfaction. In the impressive energy of his narrations, and the striking exactness of his descriptions, he probably excels all his contemporaries, and has little to fear from a comparison with any preceding poet. His subjects, we apprehend, are mostly taken from real life. They are, in general, far from pleasing; and appear selected to excite horror and disgust, rather than any gentler and finer sentiments. If they were the creatures of imagination, we should scarcely know in what order of poets to place him. But though he is not intitled to the praise of conceiving these subjects, his manner of reprea senting them is truly admirable. – Having on a former occasion described the nature of Mr. Crabbe's poetry, and the volume before us being exactly of the same description as the poems by which he is already known, we shall only give a brief sketch of the plan upon which it is framed, and extract a few passages that will serve as a criterion of its merit. . The poem is divided into twenty-four letters, from a burgess of a maritime borough, to a distant friend who requested a description of it. Their contents may be partly understuod from the catalogue of their titles.
• General Description. The Church. The Vicar. The Curate, &c. Sects and Professions in Religion. Elections. Professions-LawPhysic. Trades. Amusements. Clubs and Social Meetings. Inos, Players. The Alms-house and Trustees. Inhabitants of the Alms. house-Blaney. Clelia. Benbow. The Hospital and Governors. The Poor and their Dwellings. The Poor of the Borough—The Parish Clerk. Ellen Orford. Abel Keene. Peter Grimes. Prisons. Schools.'
The following is one of the neat little sketches with which the poem abounds.
• Nor Angler we on our wide stream descry
His tingling Fingers into gathering heat.' p.'5. The principal phænomena of the sea are described with much accuracy, and in a very easy style. We were pleased to observe that Mr. Crabbe's experiness is not confined to works of art, or the manners of human beings, but that he