Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
Extracts from The Borough: The Founder of the Almshouse
By George Crabbe (1754–1832)
[From Letter xiii.]

LEAVE now our streets, and in yon plain behold
Those pleasant seats for the reduced and old;
A merchant’s gift, whose wife and children died;
When he to saving all his powers applied;
He wore his coat till bare was every thread,        5
And with the meanest fare his body fed.
He had a female cousin, who with care
Walked in his steps, and learned of him to spare;
With emulation and success they strove,
Improving still, still seeking to improve,        10
As if that useful knowledge they would gain—
How little food would human life sustain:
No pauper came their table’s crumbs to crave;
Scraping they lived, but not a scrap they gave:
When beggars saw the frugal merchant pass,        15
It moved their pity and they said ‘Alas!
Hard is thy fate, my brother,’ and they felt
A beggar’s pride as they that pity dealt.
The dogs, who learn of man to scorn the poor,
Barked him away from every decent door;        20
While they who saw him bare but thought him rich,
To show respect or scorn they knew not which.
  But while our merchant seemed so base and mean,
He had his wanderings, sometimes not unseen;
To scenes of various woe he nightly went,        25
And serious sums in healing misery spent;
Oft has he cheered the wretched at a rate
For which he daily might have dined on plate;
He has been seen—his hair all silver white,
Shaking and shivering—as he stole by night,        30
To feed unenvied on his still delight.
A twofold taste he had; to give and spare,
Both were his duties, and had equal care.
It was his joy to sit at home and fast,
Then send a widow and her boys repast:        35
Tears in his eyes would spite of him appear,
But he from other eyes has kept the tear:
All in a wintry night from far he came
To soothe the sorrows of a suffering dame,
Whose husband robb’d him, and to whom he meant        40
A lingering but reforming punishment:
Home then he walked, and found his anger rise
When fire and rushlight met his troubled eyes;
But these extinguished, and his prayer addressed
To Heaven in hope, he calmly sank to rest.        45

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.