Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

B

Say, when age his snows shall shed
Gently o'er my thoughtless head,
You will ease the bosom's throes,
You will sootbe me to repose ;
And, whep those no more entice,
Waft to joys of Paradise !

But what Paradise is thine ?
Heedless rotary of the vine !
Mirth, and jest, and revelry,
What the hope you proffer me!
Will it lead Life's steep adown
Softly to the shades unkoown?
Will its promises be paid,
When frail Nature needs your aid !
Do you from the prospect shriok,
On Eternity's dread brink ?
Treach'rous friends! O, save me ! save!
Will you quit me at the grave?
Dearly I your counsels rue !

Wretched comforters, adieu !
The next Song, “ The thirsty earth drinks up
the rain,” (p. 66.) is “ freely translated from
Anacreon, by Cowley. In this “the plants”.
also are represented as “ sucking in the earth,”
the “ sea” as “ drinking twice ten thousand
rivers up”, the “ sun” as “ drinking up the
sea," and " the moon and the stars” as 66 drink-
ing up the sun.” This might, perhaps, be in
some measure allowed as a figure of speech;
but when the sun is represented as having a
"drunken fiery face" and the poet affirms that

Nothing in nature's sober found,
But an eternal health goes round.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

I conceive that he goes much beyond what is admissible.

Bishop Horne, however, will direct us to a different use of the works of Nature. In his admirable Sermon on the Garden of Eden, he observes,

" When it is said, “ The Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden, to DREss it, and to keep it,” the words undoubtedly direct us to conceive of it, as a place for the exercise of the body. We readily acquiesce in this, as the truth, but not as the whole truth; it being difficult to imagine, that so noble a creature, the lord of the world, should have no other or higher employment. Much more satisfaction will be found in supposing, that our first parents, while thus employed, like the priests under the law, while they ministered in the temple, were led to contemplations of a more exalted nature, “serving to the example and shadow of heavenly things.” (Heb. viii. 5.) “ The powers of the body and the faculties of the mind might be set to work at the same time, by the same objects. And it is well known, that the words here used, do as frequently denote mental as corporeal operations; and under the ideas of DRESSING and KEEPING the sacred Garden, may fairly imply the CULTIVATION

and OBSERVATION of such religious truths as were pointed out by the external signs and sacraments which Paradise contained.” Again, speaking of man in Paradise, he says, “ He studied the works of God, as they came fresh from the hands of the work-master, and in the çreation, as in a glass, he was taught to behold the glories of the Creator. Trained, in the school of Eden, by the material elements of a visible world, to the knowlege of one that is immaterial and invisible, he found himself excited by the beauty of the picture, to aspire after the transcendent excellence of the divine original.” The sacred writers have, accordingly, made use of the works of Nature as the material objects whereon to found moral and spiritual lessons, and many writers, in later times, following their example, have written books with this view. To make use of these, therefore, as authorities to sanction drunkenness, a sin wliich God has expressly forbid and will undoubtedly punish, appears to me in the nature of blasphemy against the Creator. This, certainly, was less reprehensible in the heathen Anacreon, but in a Christian we expect purer doctrine; and I cannot but wonder that the late Bishop Hurd, in separating the good from the bad in Cowley's writings, should have retained

what he himself calls 66 these mad Anacreontics.” (Hurd's Cowley, Vol. I. p. 147.)

Amongst the Anacreons of our own country, Walter de Mapes, * Archdeacon of Oxford, and styled “ The Anacreon of the eleventh century," wrote an ode, beginning, Mihi est propositum in Tabernâ mori, which I conceive to be as contrary to the spirit of Christianity as any writing can well be. Yet it has found a translator, to give it fresh circulation in English, in Dr. Huddesford, in his Salmagundi. Strange to say, also, it met with a translator into Greek, in the late Frederick Wolfgang Reiz, Professor of Greek at Leipsic.

The Song (p. 68.) beginning

Wine, wine in the morning

Makes us frolic and gay,

is another instance of the poet in contradiction to the Prophet. (See p. 192.) Isaiah, says, 6 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning that they may follow strong drink, that continue until night, till wine inflame them! And the harp and the viol, the tabret and pipe, and wine are in their feasts; but they regard not the

* See Pursuits of Literature, Dialogue I. p. 96. 14th Edition, 1808.

work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands.” (V. 11, 12.)

The last of these Convivial Songs (p. 69.) is an Anacreontic Glee, by a living author, consisting of Bacchus, Venus, " each light Grace, with zone unbound," Cupid, &c.

I cannot forbear observing, Sir, 'that of the eight convivial songs given in your volume, only two of them, the first and the seventh, appeared

first publication. So that they cannot be viewed as the collection of a juvenile mind, in the hey-day of the blood, but as the deliberate selections of one in the cool evening of life. And yet there is only one of them, “Busy, curious, thirsty Fly," which I consider as admissible.

in your

I am, Sir,
With great respect,

Your &c.

However difficult the task may be, I shall attempt a selection of Songs for the use of convivial parties. Some of them have been long and deservedly popular ; there is nothing in them, I trust, contrary to sound morality, but each one may amuse and leave a good impression upon the mind.

« VorigeDoorgaan »