"It Must Be Right: I've Done It From My Youth"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The Borough is a description of the town and those who inhabit it in the early nineteenth century. The poem consists of a number of "letters," containing descriptions of people, except for the first letter, which is a general picture of the borough. The third letter describes the local clergy, including the vicar and the curate; the quotation is from the portrait of the vicar. Crabbe speaks of the vicar as a man who from his earliest days as a clergyman sought always to offend no one. The poet also says of him: "Fear was his ruling passion." The vicar is never tempted, because he never allows himself near temptation, even in love. His courtship of the one young girl for whom he felt affection was so languid that she turned from him to marry another, realizing that she would always have to take the lead if she were to marry the clergyman. What were the pleasures of such a man? They were simple: "Fiddling and fishing were his arts: at times/ He alter'd sermons, and he aim'd at rhymes;/ And his fair friends, not yet intent on cards,/ Oft, he mused with riddles and charades." In his work the vicar simply dismisses from his mind other sects and their variant views. Crabbe suggests what the vicar stood for:

These were to him essentials; all things new
He deem'd superfluous, useless, or untrue;
To all beside indifferent, easy, cold,
Here the fire kindled, and the wo [sic.] was told.
Habit with him was all the test of truth,
"It must be right: I've done it from my youth."
Questions he answer'd in as brief a way,
"It must be wrong–it was of yesterday."