Tale VII

George Crabbe 1754 (Aldborough) – 1832 (Trowbridge)

THE WIDOW'S TALE.

To Farmer Moss, in Langar Vale, came down,
His only daughter, from her school in town;
A tender, timid maid! who knew not how
To pass a pig-sty, or to face a cow:
Smiling she came, with petty talents graced,
A fair complexion, and a slender waist.
Used to spare meals, disposed in manner pure,
Her father's kitchen she could ill endure:
Where by the steaming beef he hungry sat,
And laid at once a pound upon his plate;
Hot from the field, her eager brother seized
An equal part, and hunger's rage appeased;
The air surcharged with moisture, flagg'd around,
And the offended damsel sigh'd and frown'd;
The swelling fat in lumps conglomerate laid,
And fancy's sickness seized the loathing maid:
But when the men beside their station took,
The maidens with them, and with these the cook;
When one huge wooden bowl before them stood,
Fill'd with huge balls of farinaceous food;
With bacon, mass saline, where never lean
Beneath the brown and bristly rind was seen;
When from a single horn the party drew
Their copious draughts of heavy ale and new;
When the coarse cloth she saw, with many a stain
Soil'd by rude hinds who cut and came again -
She could not breathe; but with a heavy sigh,
Rein'd the fair neck, and shut th' offended eye;
She minced the sanguine flesh in frustums fine,
And wonder'd much to see the creatures dine;
When she resolved her father's heart to move,
If hearts of farmers were alive to love.
She now entreated by herself to sit
In the small parlour, if papa thought fit,
And there to dine, to read, to work alone -
'No!' said the Farmer in an angry tone;
'These are your school-taught airs; your mother's

pride
Would send you there; but I am now your guide. -
Arise betimes, our early meal prepare,
And, this despatch'd, let business be your care;
Look to the lasses, let there not be one
Who lacks attention, till her tasks be done;
In every household work your portion take,
And what you make not, see that others make:
At leisure times attend the wheel, and see
The whit'ning web besprinkled on the lea;
When thus employ'd, should our young neighbours

view,
A useful lass,--you may have more to do.'
Dreadful were these commands; but worse than

these
The parting hint--a Farmer could not please:
'Tis true she had without abhorrence seen
Young Harry Carr, when he was smart and clean:
But, to be married--be a farmer's wife -
A slave! a drudge!--she could not for her life.
With swimming eyes the fretful nymph withdrew,
And, deeply sighing, to her chamber flew;
There on her knees, to Heaven she grieving pray'd
For change of prospect to a tortured maid.
Harry, a youth whose late-departed sire
Had left him all industrious men require,
Saw the pale Beauty,--and her shape and air
Engaged him much, and yet he must forbear:
'For my small farm what can the damsel do?'
He said,--then stopp'd to take another view:
'Pity so sweet a lass will nothing learn
Of household cares,--for what can beauty earn
By those small arts which they at school attain,
That keep them useless, and yet make them vain?'
This luckless Damsel look'd the village round,
To find a friend, and one was quickly found:
A pensive Widow, whose mild air and dress
Pleased the sad nymph, who wish'd her soul's

distress
To one so seeming kind, confiding, to confess.
'What Lady that?' the anxious lass inquired,
Who then beheld the one she most admired:
'Here,' said the Brother, 'are no ladies seen -
That is a widow dwelling on the Green;
A dainty dame, who can but barely live
On her poor pittance, yet contrives to give;
She happier days has known, but seems at ease,
And you may call her lady if you please:
But if you wish, good sister, to improve,
You shall see twenty better worth your love.'
These Nancy met; but, spite of all they taught,
This useless Widow was the one she sought:
The father growl'd; but said he knew no harm
In such connexion that could give alarm;
'And if we thwart the trifler in her course,
'Tis odds against us she will take a worse.'
Then met the friends; the Widow heard the sigh
That ask'd at once compassion and reply: -
'Would you, my child, converse with one so poor,
Yours were the kindness--yonder is my door:
And, save the time that we in public pray,
From that poor cottage I but rarely stray.'
There went the nymph, and made her strong

complaints,
Painting her woe as injured feeling paints.
'Oh, dearest friend! do think how one must feel,
Shock'd all day long, and sicken'd every m
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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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