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"Now it was so, that Naomi had a *' kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man "of wealth, of the family of Elimelech, "and his name was Boaz:" and it happened as Ruth was gleaning after the reapers, she was situate on a part of the field belonging to Boaz. This circumstance occasioned a turn of fortune perfectly dramatic. For, Boaz, coming to take a view of his reapers, perceiving the strano-er said unto the servant who was set over the reapers, " Whose damsel is this?" The servant's answer is penned with the most natural simplicity. "It is the Moabitish "damsel, that came back with Naomi, "out of the country of Moab: and she "said, I pray you let me glean, and gather "after th^eapers among the sheaves: so "she came and hath continued amongst us ** even from the morning until now, that "she tarried a little in the house." Something there was either in this account, or in the appearance of the object, which won much upon the favour of the landlord: for it is surely a softer voice, even than J 2 tjie
the voice of hospitality, that speaks in the sequel. "Hearest thou not my daughter? "go not I charge you to glean in any other "field, neither go from hence, but abide "here fast by my maidens." I have given particular injunctions to " the young men "that they shall not touch thee. And when "thou art athirst, go to the vessels, and "drink of that which the young men have 41 drawn." Here, began the first fruits of her fidelity, and the partiality of Boaz made a very rapid progress, for in his second address he was more benevolent than in the first: He invited her to consider herself, as one of his own people, to "eat "of the bread, to dip her welcome morsel "in the vinegar" at meal times, and to sit chearfully beside the refPers. Nay more, with his own hand—surely the heart extended it—" he reached her parched corn, "and she did eat, and was sufficed and "left." Now it was that Boaz began to discover more evidently, that, the spring of this generous current lay very near the hearts When she was risen up to glean after
her her repast, he commanded the young men to shew her all possible marks of courtesy and distinction. His strict orders were, not to suffer her to gather the scanty p^tance, ear by ear, aster the cautious ralTe had gone over the ground, but to let her glean unquestioned,even amongst thejJieavcs. Nay more, they were to let fume handfulls fall on purpose for her, and leave them for her particular gleaning: And indeed, such was the successful consequence of these indulgences, that after she had beat out what (he had been permitted to glean in one single day, " it was about an ephah *« of barley." This, the kind creature carried with all the expedition of affection to Iver friend: and when Naomi saw it— when the fftul of the sorrowful widow sang for joy ; then Ruth related to her the whole history of her good fortune, and concluding that the■ name of the hospitable owner of the land was Boaz. This intelligence revived her spirits like a cordial, and she exclaims with the most 'animated transport: "the man is near a-kin to us," my beI 3 lovad loved Ruth—" one of our next kinsmen." Often, and with equal success, she went after this.into the field, and .continued■■ there to%earn a very comfortable living for herself and her friend, even to the close of the harvest. In the mean time, the passion of Boaz had made a very pathetic progress, and the result of it was, that he became the honourable lover of our fair gleaner, and renewed his acquaintance with his relation Naomi, to whom he made, we are told, various presents. Boaz and Ruth were soon united, and, as a convincing instance of the harmony in which the family lived together, we find, highly to thegratification of every elegant heart, that when Ruth presented to Boaz a child—her first-born—Naomi,—after all trie perils of her past life,—re-enjoyed the sweets of privacy and peace: "for she took the babe, "and laid it in her bosom, and became *« nurse unto it:" :And I must not forget to add, that this very child, whose name was Obed, was the grandfather of the famous David, to whose pen, the Psalms
are attributed; which, both as pieces of scripture and of writing, are totally unrivalled in points of energy and sublimity, by any composition that hath yet been, or that probably ever will be, produced in human language.
1 Undoubtedly our English Virgil, the author of the Seasons, took from this story the hint of his episode of Palemon and Lavinia: bur, beautiful as that episode may be, I by no means think he hath improved the present subject. Indeed, it is not easy to improve any of the sacred narratives, nor was Mr. Thomson a poet of simplicity. He hath, however, followed the original pretty closely, especially in the principal incidents: yet Palemon is a poor copy of Boaz, and Lavinia is less captivating than Ruth,
But I shall quote Mr. Thomson's poetical paraphrase—for it is little more—that the reader may compare it with the original.
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