English Men of Letters: Crabbe eBook

Alfred Ainger
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 219 pages of information about English Men of Letters.
in the Peninsula; and finally returned to his native country, covered with glory and enjoying a modest pension.  He woos and wins the daughter of a country clergyman, marries, and finds a young family growing up around him.  He is filled with a desire to resume friendly relations with his half-brother George, but is deterred from making the first advances.  George, hearing of this through a common friend, cordially responds, and Richard is invited to spend a few weeks at Binning Hall.  The two brothers, whose bringing up had been so different, and whose ideas and politics were far removed, nevertheless find their mutual companionship very pleasant, and every evening over their port wine relate their respective adventures and experiences, while George has also much to tell of his friends and neighbours around him.  The clergyman of the parish, a former fellow of his college, often makes a third at these meetings; and thus a sufficient variety of topic is insured.  The tales that these three tell, with the conversations arising out of them, form the subject matter of these Tales of the Hall.  Crabbe devised a very pleasant means of bringing the brother’s visit to a close.  When the time originally proposed for the younger brother’s stay is nearing its end, the brothers prepare to part.  At first, the younger is somewhat disconcerted that his elder brother seemed to take his departure so little to heart.  But this display of indifference proves to be only an amiable ruse on the part of George.  On occasion of a final ride together through the neighbouring country, George asks for his brother’s opinion about a purchase he has recently made, of a pleasant house and garden adjoining his own property.  It then turns out that the generous George has bought the place as a home for his brother, who will in future act as George’s agent or steward.  On approaching and entering the house, Richard finds his wife and children, who have been privately informed of the arrangement, already installed, and eagerly waiting to welcome husband and father to this new and delightful home.

Throughout the development of this story with its incidental narratives, Crabbe has managed, as in previous poems, to make large use of his own personal experience.  The Hall proves to be a modern gentleman’s residence constructed out of a humbler farmhouse by additions and alterations in the building and its surroundings, which was precisely the fate which had befallen Mr. Tovell’s old house which had come to the Crabbe family, and had been parted with by them to one of the Suffolk county families.  “Moated Granges” were common in Norfolk and Suffolk.  Mr. Tovel’s house had had a moat, and this too had been a feature of George’s paternal home: 

  “It was an ancient, venerable Hall,
  And once surrounded by a moat and wall;
  A part was added by a squire of taste
  Who, while unvalued acres ran to waste,
  Made spacious rooms, whence he could look about,
  And mark improvements as they rose without;
  He fill’d the moat, he took the wall away,
  He thinn’d the park and bade the view be gay.”

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Project Gutenberg
English Men of Letters: Crabbe from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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