1827 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

David Morris.

New Poems by George Crabbe. Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Arthur Pollard.

Rev. George Crabbe


George Crabbe alludes to Spenser in a manuscript poem first printed in 1960.

Ronald B. Hatch: "In David Morris, a posthumously published poem, he creates the melancholic figure of David Morris who resembles Spenser's figure of Despair, and who actually quotes several lines from Despair's argument with the Red Cross Knight over suicide. Crabbe has David say, 'Will Spencer sang, "When weary mortals die, | Let none ask How, or whence, or where, or Why"'.... In allowing David to refer mistakenly to 'Will Spencer,' not Edmund Spenser, he indicates to the reader that David possesses only a superficial acquaintance with Spenser's poem and theme, and therefore is not to be trusted entirely" Spenser Encyclopedia (1990) 200.

S. C. Hall: "He contemplates all things, animate and in animate, 'through a glass, darkly.' The consequence has naturally been, that Crabbe never was a popular Poet. Yet the rough energy of his descriptions, the vigorous and manly style of his versification, the deep though oppressive interest of his stories, and his stern maxims of morality, — with a little more of a kindly leaning towards humanity — must have secured for him universal admiration" in The Book of Gems (1838) 98.

W. J. Courthope: "Though Crabbe occupies so marked a place in the history of English poetry, he has not met in our own generation with all the attention which he deserves. Something of this comparative neglect is to be attributed to changes in society; the altered position of the poor has fortunately deprived his poems of much of the reality they once possessed. Something too must be ascribed to the revolutions of taste. We have been long accustomed to look at Nature and peasant life through the philosophic medium created for us by Wordsworth and his followers. From the poetical standpoint of this school Crabbe is as far removed as he is from the .conventional pastoralism of his predecessors. His intention is simply to paint things as they are, and modern ideology therefore finds in his poetry an uncongenial atmosphere. But beyond this it must be allowed that of all standard English writers Crabbe makes the largest demands on the patience of his readers. His great defect is an incurable want of taste" The English Poets (1880) 3:584.

Arthur Pollard: "It seems to me that the extended, and often explicitly religious, comment to be found in David Morris helps to place it among the latest of his works" New Poems (1960) 8.



'Twas at this Time my Knowledge of the Man
And my Compassion for his State began.
This I related with my Wish to raise
His fallen Mind by Views of brighter Days;
To me the Symptoms of his Case were known,
Signs of the Disease that Once had been my own.
I strove to soothe him, Chose him Books, and read,
But his Desire and Love of Truth were fled.
He neither granted nor denied the Proof
Of Man's true State! but would reply, "Enough!
It may be so! but all is dark to me.
I've neither Power to argue, nor t' agree."
Yet he could sometimes speak in cheerful Style,
And small Events would cause a transcient Smile,
But an attempt his wayward Mind to guide
Disturbed his Temper and provoked his Pride.
He talked of Death, but, as it then appear'd,
There were in him no Symptoms to be feared.
"Temperance and Care," I said, "will Health restore."
"For what?," said he, "My comforts live no more,
And when our Dwelling we no longer love,
What Law on Earth forbids us to remove?"
To this I answer'd from my common Place:
"Who quits his Post is sure to meet Disgrace."
"Disgrace with Whom?" said David, "shall the Dread
Of babling Malice pain the happy Dead?
Will Spencer sang, 'When weary Mortals die,
Let none ask How, or whence, or where, or Why.'"
Smiling he spoke, and earnest I replied:
"The Poet's Verse is not the Sinner's Guide."
And thus we parted — "Think not I forget,"
He said, "your Kindness, 'tis One pleasing Debt,
And proves there's Love in Man." — My Leave I took,
And left poor David to his Bed and Book. . . .

[pp. 141-42]