Tale XIX

THE CONVERT.

Some to our Hero have a hero's name
Denied, because no father's he could claim;
Nor could his mother with precision state
A full fair claim to her certificate;
On her own word the marriage must depend -
A point she was not eager to defend:
But who, without a father's name, can raise
His own so high, deserves the greater praise;
The less advantage to the strife he brought,
The greater wonders has his prowess wrought;
He who depends upon his wind and limbs,
Needs neither cork nor bladder when he swims;
Nor will by empty breath be puff'd along,
As not himself--but in his helpers--strong.
Suffice it then, our Hero's name was clear,
For call John Dighton, and he answer'd 'Here!'
But who that name in early life assign'd
He never found, he never tried to find:
Whether his kindred were to John disgrace,
Or John to them, is a disputed case;
His infant state owed nothing to their care -
His mind neglected, and his body bare;
All his success must on himself depend,
He had no money, counsel, guide, or friend;
But in a market-town an active boy
Appear'd, and sought in various ways employ;
Who soon, thus cast upon the world, began
To show the talents of a thriving man.
With spirit high John learn'd the world to

brave,
And in both senses was a ready knave;
Knave as of old obedient, keen, and quick,
Knave as of present, skill'd to shift and trick;
Some humble part of many trades he caught,
He for the builder and the painter wrought;
For serving-maids on secret errands ran,
The waiter's helper, and the ostler's man;
And when he chanced (oft chanced he) place to lose,
His varying genius shone in blacking shoes:
A midnight fisher by the pond he stood,
Assistant poacher, he o'erlook'd the wood;
At an election John's impartial mind
Was to no cause nor candidate confined;
To all in turn he full allegiance swore,
And in his hat the various badges bore:
His liberal soul with every sect agreed,
Unheard their reasons, he received their creed:
At church he deign'd the organ-pipes to fill,
And at the meeting sang both loud and shrill:
But the full purse these different merits gain'd,
By strong demands his lively passions drain'd;
Liquors he loved of each inflaming kind,
To midnight revels flew with ardent mind;
Too warm at cards, a losing game he play'd,
To fleecing beauty his attention paid;
His boiling passions were by oaths express'd,
And lies he made his profit and his jest.
Such was the boy, and such the man had been,
But fate or happier fortune changed the scene;
A fever seized him, 'He should surely die--'
He fear'd, and lo! a friend was praying by;
With terror moved, this Teacher he address'd,
And all the errors of his youth confess'd:
The good man kindly clear'd the Sinner's way
To lively hope, and counsell'd him to pray;
Who then resolved, should he from sickness rise,
To quit cards, liquors, poaching, oaths, and lies;
His health restored, he yet resolved and grew
True to his masters, to their Meeting true;
His old companions at his sober face
Laugh'd loud, while he, attesting it was grace,
With tears besought them all his calling to

embrace:
To his new friends such convert gave applause,
Life to their zeal, and glory to their cause:
Though terror wrought the mighty change, yet strong
Was the impression, and it lasted long;
John at the lectures due attendance paid,
A convert meek, obedient, and afraid;
His manners strict, though form'd on fear alone,
Pleased the grave friends, nor less his solemn

tone,
The lengthen'd face of care, the low and inward

groan;
The stern good men exulted when they saw
Those timid looks of penitence and awe;
Nor thought that one so passive, humble, meek,
Had yet a creed and principles to seek.
The Faith that Reason finds, confirms, avows,
The hopes, the views, the comforts she allows -
These were not his, who by his feelings found,
And by them only, that his faith was sound;
Feelings of terror these, for evil past,
Feelings of hope to be received at last;
Now weak, now lively, changing with the day -
These were his feelings, and he felt his way.
Sprung from such sources, will this faith remain
While these supporters can their strength retain?
As heaviest weights the deepest rivers pass,
While icy chains fast bind the solid mass;
So, born of feelings, faith remains secure,
Long as their firmness and their strength endure;
But when the waters in their channel glide,
A bridge must bear us o'er the threat'ning tide;
Such bridge is Reason, a
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George Crabbe

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

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"Tale XIX" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 20 Sep. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/14868/tale-xix>.

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