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TO THE READER,
Studious of good, and penitent for ill,
&c. The grandeur of scriptural sublimity, or Still short of grace, yet persevering still ; simplicity, admits of few or no embellishments. As just and true as erring nature can
George Sandys, in the reign of Charles I. seems (For imperfectiou sets its stamp on man). only to have known this secret. Heav'n marks the saint, her mansiops to adorn, And, having purg'd the chaff, accepts the corn.
And in the morning, rising up a great while bea
fore day, he went and departed into a solitary
place, and there prayed. THE ASCETIC ;
Mark, c. i. v. 35.
Deer in a vale, where clovd-born Rhyne 1
Where pansies mixt with daisies shine,
And asphodels instarr'd with gold;
Two forests, skirting round the feet
Half parted by an op’ning glade;
Around Hercynian oaks are seen. Aspicis; illo alii rursus jactantur in alto.
Larches ?, and cypress ever green, At tua securos portus, vlandamque quietein
Unite their hospitable shade. Intravit, non quassa ratis.
Stat. Sylv, L. II.
Impearld with dew, the rosy Mom
Gleame following gleams the Heav'ns adorn,
And gild the theatre below:
And from her misty eye-balls shakes
The balmy dews of soft repose : I bad sereral inducements for venturing to
The pir uz lark with grateful lays change the ode into heroic ineasure. The first Ascends the skies, and chants the praise was, that I might diversify ihe doctrinal part which man to bis Creator owes 4. from the descriptive. The second was, that our When lo! a venerable sire appears, excellent and most learned poet, Cowley, had
With sprightly footsteps bast'ning o'er the plain; given me his authority for making this change, His tresses bore the marks of fourscore years, in his poem de Plantis. But the third and truer
Yet free from sickpess he, and void of pain: reason was, that I found it next to impracticable, His eyes with balftheir youthful clearness shones. to deliver short, unadorned, didactical sentences Still on his cheeks health's tincture gently glow'd, consistently with the copiousness, irregularity, His aged voice retain'd a mauly tone, and enthusiasm peculiar to ude-writing.-Let the
His peaceful blood in equal tenour flow'd. reader only make the experiment, and I flatter
At length, beneath a beechen shade reclin'd, insselt he will join with me in opinion.—Nor have He thus pour'd forth to Heav'n the transports of I departed any further than in a metaphor or
his mind. two from that original simplicity which characterises my author, however difficult and self-de
3 Tip-toe. Shakespeare. nying such an undertaking might be in a poeti
4 “Before we engage in worldly business, or cal composiiion. What gave me warning was,
any common amusements of life, let us be carethat Castalio and Stanhope had both spoiled ful to consecrate the first-fruits of the day, and Thomas a Kempis by attempting to adorn him the very beginning of our holy thoughts unto the with flowery language, false elegance, and glaring service of God.”
St. Basil. imagery. And, by the way, to this cause may • Thomas à Kempis had no manifest infirinibe attributed the miscarriages of many poets, ties of old-age, and retained his eye-sight per(otherwise confessedly eminent) in their para- fect to the last. phrases of the Psalms of David, the Book of Jub,
All that I have ever been able to learn in Ger. to man as well as God. “Wo unto him that is many upon goud authority, concerning hin, is
as follows: He was born at Kempis, or Kenipen, faint-hearted; for he believeth not, therefore a small walled town in the dutchy of Cleves, shall he not be defended. Wo unto you that and diocese of Cologn. His family-name was have lost patience: wbat will ye do when the Hamerlein, which signifies in the German Lord shall visit you?-they that fear the Lord language a little bammer. We find also that will say, we will fall into the bands of the Lord, his parents were named John and Gertrude Haand not into the hands of men : for as his ma
merlein. He lived chiefly in the monastery of jesty is, so is his mercy.”
Mount St. Agnes; where his effigy, together witle lo like manner St. Chrysostom informs us,
a prospect of the monastery, was engraven on a “ That, in proportion as God adds to our tribu- plate of copper that lies over his body. The said lation, he adds likewise to our retribution."
monastery is now called Bergh-Clooster, or, as This river takes its rise from one of the high- we might say in English, Hiit-Cloyster. Many est ice-mountains in Switzerland.
strangers in their travels visit it. Kempis was 2 The species of larch-tree here meant is cal- certainly one of the best and greatest men since led sempervirens: the other larches are deciduis the priinitive ages. His book of the Imitation foliis
of Christ has seen near forty editions in the ori. “Come unto me (Messiah cries)
Stealer of marches, subtile foe, All that are laden and oppress’d:
Sinon of stratagem and woe! To Thee I come (my heart replies)
Thy fatal blows, ah! who can ward? O Patron of eternal rest!
Around thee lurks a motley train Who walks with me (rejoins the voice)
Of wants, and fears, and chronic pain,
The hungry Croats of thy guard.
“ (Thus on the flow'r-enamelld lawn,
Unconscious of the least surprize, Long l’ve thy painful foot-steps trod,
In thoughtless gambols sports the fawn, Redeemer, Saviour, Friend of all!
Whilst reil'd in grass the tygress lies. “ Heav'n in my youth bestow'd each good The silent trait'ress crouches low, Of choicer sort: in fertile lands
Her very lungs surcease to blow : A decent patrimony stood,
At length she darts on hunger's wings Sufficient for my just demands.
Sure of her distance and success, My form was pleasing ; health refin'd
Where Newton could but only guess, My blood; a deep-discerning mind
She never misses, when she springs 9.) Crown'd all the rest - The fav’rite child
“More truly wise the man, whose early youth to Of un-affected eloquence,
Is offer'd a free ofi'ring to the Lord, Plain nature, un-scholastic sense:
A self-addicted votary to truth, And once or twice the Muses smild !
Servant thro' choice, disciple by accord! "Blest with each boon that sinipler minds desire, Heav'n always did th’unblemish'd turtle choose, Till Heav'n grows weary of their nauseous pray’rs, Where health conjoin'd with spirit most abounds: I made the nobler option to retire 1,
Heav'n seeks the young, nor does the old refuse, And gave the world to worldlings and their heirs; But youth acquits the debt, which age comThe warriors laurels, and the statesman's fame,
pounds! The vain man's bopes for titles and employ, Awkward in time, and sour'd with self-disgrace, The pomp of station, and the rich man's name, The spend-thrift pays his all, and takes the I left for fools to seek, and knaves t'enjoys ;
bankrupt's place.” An early whisper did its truths impart,
Thus spoke the venerable sage And all the God conceal'd irradiated my heart.
Who ne'er imbib'd Mæonian lore, " Happy the man who turns to Heav'n,
Who drew no aids from Maro's page, When on the landscapes verge of green And yet to nobler flights could soar. Old-age appears, to whom 'tis giv'n
Tanght by the Solyméan maid; To creep in sight, but ny, unseen!
With native elegance array'd,
He gave his easy thoughts to flow; ginal Latin, and above sixty translations have the charms which anxious art deny'd been made from it into modern languages. 'Truth and simplicity supply'd,
Our author died August the 8th, 1471, aged Melodious in religious woe. 92 years.
In the engraving on copper above-mentioned, Poet in sentiment! he feels and lying over his grave, is represented a per- The veil which artful charms conceals,
The flame; nor seeks from verse his aid! son respectfully presenting to him a label on which is written à verse to this effect:
To real beauty proves a shade.
Wben nature's out-lines dubious are, Oh! where is Peace? for Thou its paths hast Verse decks them with a slight cymarr" ; trod.
True charms by art in vain are drest. To which Kempis returns another strip of paper, Not icy prose could damp bis fire: inscribed as follows:
Intense the flame and mounting high'r, In poverty, retirement, and with God, Brightly victorious when opprest! He was a canon regular of Augustins, and sub- By this time morn in all its glory shone; prior of mount St. Agnes' monastery. He com- The Sm's chaste kiss absorb'd the virgin-dew: posed his treatise on the Imitation of Christ in Th’impatient peasant wish'd his labour done, the sixty-first year of bis age, as appears from The cattle to th' umbrageous strcams withdrew: a note of his own writing in the library of his Beneath a cool imperetrable shade, convent.
Quiet, he mus’d.So Jonas safely sate (play'd) • Imitation of Christ, Lib. I. c. i.
(Wben the swift gourd her palmy leaves disgo Solitude is the best school wherein to learn To see the tow'rs of Ninus bow to fate 12. the way to Heaven.”
St. Jerom. “Worldly honours are a trying snare to men 9 This parenthesis was inserted by way of of an exalted station; of course their chief care imitating the famous parenthesis in Horace's must be, to put themselves out of the reach of Ode, which begins envy by humility.”
Qualem ministrum fulminis alitem, &c. “ The pleasures of this world are only the mo
10 • Eren from the flower till the grape was mentary comforts of the miserable, and not the ripe, bath my heart deligbed in Wisdom.” rewards of the happy." St. August.
Ecclus. c. li. v. 15. *Cætera solicitæ speciosa incommoda vitæ " A thin covering of the gause, or sarspetPermisi stultis quærere, babere malis. kind.
Dryd. Cymon & Iphigen, Couleius de Plant. 12 Jonah, c. iv. V, 6.
TH' Ascetic then drew forth a parchment-scroll, When man desponds, (of human hope bereft)
Let patience be thy first and last coneern;
Advances, on the side it now goes back.
By force, a virtue of celestial kind (1.) 'Trs vanity to wish for length of days; Was never storm'd; by arı 'tis undermin’d 10. The art of living well is wise men's praise.
(5.) All seek for knowledge. Knowledge is no If death, pot length of life, engag'd our view, Life would be happier, and death bappier tool. Than this; to know ourselves, and God adore.
Nature foreshows our death : 'tis God's decree; Wouldst thou with protit seek, and learn with The king, the insect dies; and so must we.
gain?-What's natural, and cominon to us all,
Unknown thyself, in solitude remain ". What's necessary ;-none should evil call. Virtue retires, but in retirement blooms, Check thy fond love of life, and human pride; Full of good works, and dying in perfumes '. Shall man repine at death, when Christ has dy'd? | In thy own heart the living waters rise '3;
(2.) He that can calmly view the mask of Good conscience is the wisdom of the wise! 14 will never tremble at the face beneath ; (death, Man's only confidence, unmixt with pride, Probationer of Heav'n, he starts no more Is the firm trust that God is op his side 151 To see the last sands ebb, tban those before Like Aaron's rod, the faithful and the just,
(3.) In vain we argue, boast, elude, descant;— Torn from their tree, shall blossom in the dust. No man is honest that's afraid of want.
(6.) God, says the chief of penitents'n, is One, No blood of confessors that bosom warms), Who gives Himself, his Spirit, and his Son. Which starts at hunger, as the worst of harms 4 “Is hunger irksome?- Thou by Him art fed
(4.) The man with christian preservance fir’ds, With quails miraculous, and Heav'nly bread. Check'd but not stop'd; retarded but not tird; Is thirst oppressive ?-Lift thy eyes, and see Straiten'd by foes, yet sure of a retreat,
Cat'racts of water fall from rocks for thee,
Art thou an orphan?-He's thy father too."
8 Ibid. c. 35, No. 2. Ibid. c. 18, No. 2.
9 See also Caussin's Holy Court, Part I, L. 3. * This and the following passages marked with Sect. S2, fol. 1650. a note of reference are extracted almost verbatim 10 « True christian piety was never made a from Kempis's Book of the Imitation of Christ. real captive; it may be killed, but not conquerLib. I, c. 1, 2. See also Lib. 1, c. 19. 23.
St. Jerom. 3“ Death, when compared to life, scems to 11 “ Imitation of Christ, L. I. c. 20. L. II, be a remedy and not a punishment.”
- The retired Christian, in seeking after an On the same point another primitive Chris- happy life, actually enjoys one ; and possesses tian hath observed, “That the Supreme Being that already which he only fancies he is pursu, made life short; since, as the troubles of iting."
St. Eucher. cannot be removed from us, we may the sooner 13" Drink waters out of thine own cisterns. be removed from them.”
St. Bernard. Prov. c. v, V. 15. See also Rev. c. xxii, v. 1. 3" Dost thou fear poverty ? Christ calls the
“ And he showed me a pure river of water of life,
clear as crystal.” See Joho, c. vii, v. 38. poor man blessed.
14 Imitat. of Jesus Christ, L. I, c. 6. - Art thou afraid of labour? Pains are productive of a crown, [fears no famine:
15 Iunitat. of Jesus Christ, Lib. II, c. 10.
“ The only means of obtaining true security - Art thou hungry? A true confidence in God
for the Supreme Governor of the world beholds is to commit all our interests to God, who con thy warfare; and prepares for thee a crown of stantly knows and is ever willing to bestow good glory and everlasting rest.”.
things on them that ask him as they ought." Hieron. in Epist.
“ Security is no where but in the love and 'L. II. Thom. à Kempis.
service of God. It is neither in Heaven, nor 5 Perseverance is an image of eternity."
Paradise, much less in the present world. In St. Bernard.
Heaven the angels fell from the divine presence: 6 « The greatest safety man can have is to
in Paradise Adam lost his abode of pleasure: in fear nothing but God."
St. Bernard. “Human fear depresses, the fear of God exhi- viour." larates."
Cassian. 16 St. August. The ten lines marked with
inverted coinmas are a literal translation from 7 Imitat. of Christ, L III., c. 5. Ibid. c. 19, him.
(7.) The men of Science aim themselves to Say, is it much iudignities to bear, show 17,
When God for thee thy nature deign'd to wear! And know just what imports them not to know 18. If slander vilifies the good man's name, (Once having miss'd the truth, they farther stray: It hurts not; but prevents a future shame, As men ride fastest who have lost their way ;) The censure and reproaches of mankind Whilst the poor peasant that with daily care Are the true christian mentors of the mind, Improves bis lands and offers Heav'n his pray'r, No other way humility is gain'd ; With conscious boldness may produce his face No other way vain glory is restrain'd. Where proud philosophers shall want a place!9. Nor worse, nor better we, if praise or blame Philosophy in anxious doubts expires :
Lift or depress the man is still the same 27. Religion trims her lamp, as life retires 20. The happy, if they're wise, must all things fear; True faith, like gold into the furnace cast, Nor need th' unhappy, if they're good, desMaintains its sterling pureness to the last.
pair. Conscience will ev'ry pious act attest 21:
(10.) Hard is the task 'gainst nature's strength A silent panegyrist, but the best!
to strive : (8.) All chastisements for private use are giv'n; Perfection is the lot of none alive ; The revelations Personal of Heav'n 22 :
Or grant frail man could tread th' unerring road, But man in misery mistakes his road,
How could we suffer for the sake of God? Sighs for lost joys, and never turns to God 23. AMiction's ordeal, sharp, but brightly shines; Hear'n more than meets her child with sorrows Sep'rates the gold”, and ev'ry vice calcines. try'd ;
In adverse furtune, when the storm runs high, Her dove brings olive, e'er the waves subside24. And sickness graves death's image on the eye, Man gives but once, and grudges when we sue; Nor wealth, nor rank, nor pow'r, assuage the Heav'n makes old gifts the precedents for new.
grief(9.) AMictions have their use of ev'ry kind; Aşk God to send thee patience or reliefs, At once they humble, and exalt the mind : The infant Moses 'scap'd his watry gravesi, The ferment of the soul by just degrees
Heav'n half o'erwhelms the man it means to Refines the true clear spirit from the lees 25.
save! Boast as we will, and argue as we can,
(11.) Th' ambitious and the covetous desires! None ever knew the virtues of a man,
More than their worth deserves, or wants reExcept affliction sists the four from bran2.
Not merely for the profit things may yield, 17 « It is gnod to know much and live well: But, ah ! their neighbour's pittance maims their but, if we cannot attain both, it is better to de
field : sire piety than learning : for knowledge makes no Thus, gain'd by force, or fraudulent design, man truly happy, nor doth happiness consist in the grapes of Naboth yield them blood for intellectual acquisitions. The only valuable thing is a religious life.”
(12) Nothing but truth can claim a lasting Sti. Greg. Magn. Moral. And again: “That only is the best knowledge Time is truth's surest judge, and judges late: which makes us better." 18 Imitat. of Christ.
27 Imitat. of Christ, L. III, c. 5. 20 Imitat, of Jesus Christ, L. II, c. 10.
28 Ibid. 21 “ As in water face answereth to face, so the
29 “ For gold is tried in the fire, and accepheart of man to man.” Prov. xxvii, v. 19.
table men in the furnace of adversity.” “ Thou canst avoid, sooner or later, whatever
Ecclus. c, ii, f. 5. molesteth thee, except thy own conscience.”
30 Imitat. of Christ, L. III, c. 5. Augustin. in Psalm xxx.
3! Exod, c. II, v.5. 22 Imitat, of Jesus Christ, L. I, c. 13.
32 “ He that gathereth by defrauding his own “ God causeth (afliictions) to come, either for correction, or for his land, or for mercy." soul, gathereth for others, that shall spend his
goods riotously. A covetous man's eye is not saJob, c. xxxvii, v, 13.
tisfied with his portion, and the iniquity of the “ It is the work and providence of God's se
wicked drieth up his soul.” cret counsel, that the days of the elect should
Ecclus. c. xiv. bé troubled in their pilgrimage. This present 33 « Abab's excuse to Naboth, when he said life is the way to our eternal abode: God therefore in his secret wisdom afflicts our travel with give me thy vineyard that I may make it a gar
den of herbs, represents in a lively manner the continual trouble, lest the delights of our jour pretences that avaricious and ambitious men ney might take away the desire of our journey's use, when they waut to make new acquisitions
“ No servant of Christ is without amiction. If They lye to their consciences; asking a seeining you expect to be free from persecution, you have trifle, and meaning to obtain soinething rery ra.
St. Ambrose. not yet so much as begun to be a Christian."
“ Woe unto them that covet fields, and take St. August.
them away by violence," Micah, c. ii, v. 9. 23 Imitat. of Christ, L. I, c. 11.
They enlarge their desire as Hell, and are as 24 Imitat. of Christ, ibid. See also Gen. c.
death, and cannot be satisfied: woe unto them viii, v. 11.
that encrease that which is not theirs." 25 (mitat. of Christ, L. I, c. 13.
Hab. c. ii, v. 5, 26 Ibid. Lib. I, c. 16. Lib. III, c. 12. See
34 Imitat, of Jesus Christ, L. 1, C, 3, also Amos, C, ix, v. 3, and Luke c. xxii, v. 31.
And, for thy guide, be he alone believ'd, But if vain glory prompts the tongue to boast,
There's still a rent, which wily Satan tearsti: (13.) Flatt’ry and fame at death the vain for- A man may mend it, at returning light, sake,
But the arch-fiend undarns the work at night. And other knaves and fools their honours take36, Useless, O miser ! are thy labours found; (11.) Tease not thy mind; nor run a restless and all thy vintage leaks on thirsty ground, round
Chimeric nonsense ! Riches unemploy'd
Is a mere Dioclesian to himself;
A Paula's 44 name is better known in Heav'n. But those who inake prophaneness stand for wit, (19.) Riches no more are ours, than are the Desp'rate apply the pigeons to their feet :
(laves. Bankrupts of sense, and impudently bad; Of yonder Rhyne, which our Mount-Agnas “S Their judgment ruin'd, and their fancy mad! Th' impatient waters no continuance inake; Like Daniel's 37 goat 38 in th' insolence of youth, Adopt new owners, and their old forsake. Stars they displace, and overturn the truth. 46 As those who call for wines, beyond their (16.) He, who adopts religions, wrong or right,
share, Is not a convert, but an hypocrite :
Refund the draughts which nature cannot bear; Him, seeming what he is not, man esteems; (Whilst bile and gall corroding in their breast God hates him, for he is not what he seems. Demand a passage, and admit no rest :) The bull-rush thus a specious outside wears, Just so rapacious misers swell their store; Smooth as the shining rind the poplar bears : To di’monds di'monds add, and ore to ore; But strip the cor'ring of its polish'd skin, They gulp down wealth,-and, with heart pierAnd all is insubstantial sponge within.
cing pain, When not a whisper breaihs upon the trees, And clay-cold qualms, discharge the load again. Unmor'd it stands, but bends with ev'ry breeze. Death bursts the casket, and the farce is o'er. It boasts th' ablution of a silver flood,
(Curst is that wealth, which never eas'd the But feeds on mire, and roots itself in mud.
[floor; (17.) Self-love is foolish, criminal, and vain), Whilst fools and spendthrifts sweep it from the Therefore, O man, such partial views restrain : The gold of Ophyr 41 dazzles their weak eyes, And often take this counsel for a rule,
Turquoises 48 next their weaker minds surprise, To please one's self is but to please one fool40, Rich, deeply azur'd, like Italian skies. (18.) The alms we give, we keep: the alms
lost; those which thou charitably bestowest, are We lose : possessing only what we gave", truly thine."
42 Haggai, c. i, v. 6. 85 —Neque decipitur,neque decipit unquam.
Virg. 36 “ There is no work that shows more art and 44 Paula was a Roman lady descended from industry than the texture of a spider's web. The the Graccbi and Scipios. Her husband was of delicate threads are so nicely disposed, and so the Julian race. After his decease, she gave curiously interwoven one with another, that you most of her possessions to the poor, and retired would think it produced by the labour of a ce- from Rome to a solitude at Bethlehem. That lestial being; yet nothing in the event is more incomparable virgin Eustochium was her daugh-" fragil and insubstantial. A breath of wind tears ter. Both their histories are drawn at large by it to pieces, and carries it away. Just so are St. Jerom, and addressed to Eustochium. Paula worldly acquisitions made by men in exalted has written some excellent verses on religious stations, and reputedly wise and cunning." subjects.
Origen. She built a temple at Emmäus in honour of 37 Dan. c. viii, v. 10, 11.
our Blessed Saviour. Her tomb is at Bethlehem. 35 The prophet here means, by the goat, the The inscription for her and her daughter was king of Greece, the region of vain philosophy. written by St. Jerom. Sandy's Tray, fol. 135.
-9 “ He that lovelb himself most, hath of all 139, &c. men the happiness of finding the fewest rivals.” 45 The name of the monastery where Kempis
Anon. Vet. resided. 40 55 He that pleaseth himself, pleaseth a 46 Part of this paragraph, is copied from Job, fool."
C. XX, v. 14, 15, 18. Compare also Job, c. 41 “ There is that scattereth and yet increas- xxvii, v. 19, 20, 21. eth ; and there is that withholding mure than is 47 Gold of Ophir. See 1 Kings c. ix, v. 28. 1 meet, but it tendeth to poverty.”
Chron. xxix, v. 4. 2 Chron. viii, v. 18. Psalm
Prov. c. xi, v. 24. xly, v. 9. Isaiah xiii. v. 12. “ The riches which thou treasurcst up, are 48 Turquoises.
“ The true oriental turquoise