Friday, December 24, 2010

George Crabbe

English poet George Crabbe was born this day, December 24th, in the year 1754.  Nearly 17 years Walter Scott's senior, he died just seven months before Scott (in February1832).  In addition to his work as a poet, Crabbe served as a priest for the Duke of Rutland, living at Belvoir Castle.

Crabbe's most famous poems, The Village and The Borough, focus on village life.  Crabbe developed a friendship with Scott due to his poetry.  It was Scott who initiated contact, as related in Rene Louis Huchon's "George Crabbe and his Times, 1754 - 1832; a critical and biographical study":

'In this comparatively sedentary life, the year 1822 is marked by an event of some importance—a journey to Edinburgh. A correspondence had arisen in 1812 between Crabbe and Sir Walter Scott. The latter, hearing that the Tales in Verse were about to be Published, had bespoken a copy at Hatchard's, and had afterwards intimated his entire satisfaction with the work in a highly eulogistic letter addressed to the publisher. Hatchard hastened to send it to Crabbe, who at once expressed his deep gratitude to the writer. " I have," he says, " long entertained a hearty wish to be made known to a poet whose works are so greatly and so universally admired. I continued to hope that I might at some time find a common friend, by whose intervention I might obtain that honour; but I am confined by duties near my home and by sickness in it. . . . Excuse me then, Sir, if I gladly seize this opportunity which now occurs to express my thanks for the politeness of your expressions, as well as my desire of being known to a gentleman who has delighted and affected me, and moved all the passions and feelings in turn, I believe—envy surely excepted. ... I truly rejoice in your success, and while I am entertaining, in my way, a certain set of readers, for the most part probably of peculiar turn and habit, I can with pleasure see the effect you produce on all." Scott replied by return of post with marked cordiality. He fully snared Crabbe's wish. " It is more than twenty years ago," he added, " that I was, for great part of a very snowy winter, the inhabitant of an old house in the country, in a course of poetical study, so very like that of your admirably painted ' Young Lad,' that I could hardly help saying, ' That's me!'"' And Scott, being unable to procure the poems themselves, had learnt by heart all the extracts from them given by The Annual Register—the conclusion of the first book of The Village, and the satire on the romantic novels in The Library: " You may therefore guess my sincere delight when I saw your poems at a later period assume the rank in the public consideration which they so well deserve. It was a triumph to my own immature taste to find I had anticipated the applause of the learned and the critical."...'

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