페이지 이미지

failed to break his spirit. His commission is to preach the Gospel to every criature, and thus we find him proclaiming the same Gospel of the grace of God, the same salvation, to the sovereign of the most powerful empire, and to the humblest cottager ; nay, he disdains not to enter the dark cellar, the wretched abode of the child of want and of crime. Nor is he without trophies. Already his followers are as the sands of the sea for multitude, “glorious as the sun, fair as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners.” Nothing can withstand his onward march ; his works are imperishable as the mind itself. And when the mighty Pyramids shall have crumbled to dust, and empires and powerful dynasties have passed away, when even old Father Time himself shall have sunk to rest, and his requiem pronounced by the thrilling blast of the archangel's trumpet,--when all of us now present, and every mortal being, shall have crossed the threshold of eternity,-even then the triumph of our champion shall appear, while he himself, called by the favour of his King to receive the reward of his labours, shall share in the felicity of Heaven, when

the cloud-capt towers,
The gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples,
The great globe itself--yea, all that it inherit,
Shall dissolve; and, like the baseless fabric of a vision,
Leave not a wreck behind."

[ocr errors]

SO LONG as human lips remain unfed,

Men starve their Christ for lack of coarsest bread; Where'er a single bondsman fettered stands, Men chain their CHRIST, and bind their SAVIOUR's hands : Where'er a single orphan inly dies, Or grows embruted in their factories, Like old King Herod, they again condemn To death the infant LORD of Bethlehem. And when they spurn the outcast from their doors, While the thick tempest sweeps along the plain, They drive out CHRIST into the storm and rain, To perish frozen on the barren moors.






worn, and to

(Concluded from p. 96.) NE cause of the misery which prevailed when Cowper

wrote, is still unquestionably uncorrected, if not incorrigible. I allude to dress, and the insane submission made to the costly rule of fashion. It is not that dress, becoming in colour and scrupulously perfect in fit, variously modified as the complexion or form of the differing wearers may require, and gracefully adapted to the necessity of seasons and occasions ;-it is not, in short, that the art of dress should be excluded from regard, but that the caprice of fashion should be held in contempt by all independent minds, as nothing more than the cunning of trade, to compel the purchase of new things before the old are fairly

but let the poet speak :-
“ Our habits, costlier than Lucellus wore,

And by caprice as multiplied as his,
Just please us while the fashion is at full,
But change with every moon. The sycophant
That waits to dress us, arbitrates their date.

We have run
Through every change that fancy, at the loom
Exhausted, has had genius to supply ;
And, studious of mutation still, discard
A real elegance, a little used,
For monstrous novelty, and strange disguise.
We sacrifice to dress, till household joys
And comforts cease. Dress drains our cellars dry,
And keeps our larder lean, puts out our fires,
And introduces hunger, frost, and woe,

Where peace and hospitality might reign." “ The Garden.”—Half this poem has particular reference to what is not the garden ; but an important portion of it is practically instructive to the garden culturist. In this poem is the beautiful description of the tame hares--one

of the passages which first met my eyes as a mere child, and made me a Cowperian. The time, however, allowed for this lecture restrains me from more than a mere mention of it,—the more so as it is generally known.

“The Winter Evening” is exceedingly charming, and the perusal of it on such an evening by the fireside, will give to January charms rivalling those of July. I shall read to you an extract which will make the labouring poor rejoice in having the sympathy of such a poet :

“ Poor, yet industrious, modest, quiet, neat,

Such claim compassionțin a night like this,
And have a friend in every feeling heart.
Warmed, while it lasts, by labour, all day long
They brave the season, and yet find at eve,
Ill clad and fed but sparely, time to cool.
The frugal housewife trembles when she lights
Her scanty stock of brushwood, blazing clear,
But dying soon, like all terrestrial joys :
The few small embers left she nurses well;
And while her infant race, with outspread hands
And crowded knees, sit cowering o'er the sparks,
Retires, content to quake, so they be warmed.
The man feels least, as more inured than she
To winter, and the current in his veins
More briskly moved by his severer toil;
Yet he, too, finds his own distress in theirs.
The taper soon extinguished, which I saw
Dangled along at the cold finger's end
Just when the day declined ; and the brown loaf
Lodged on the shelf, half-eaten, without sauce
Of savoury cheese, or butter, costlier still ;
Sleep seems their only refuge. For, alas !

penury is felt, the thought is chained,
And sweet colloquial pleasures are but few.
With all this thrift they thrive not. All the care
Ingenious parsimony takes, but just
Saves the small inventory, bed and stool,
Skillet and old carved chest, from public sale.
They live, and live without extorted alms
From grudging hands ; but other boast have none
To soothe their honest pride, that scorns to beg;
Nor comfort else, but in their mutual love."

I think this, altogether, the most beautiful of the six poems.

“The Winter Morning Walk” opens with a very fine passage, descriptive of the professed subject, till the talk of ice suggests an account of the famous palace of that material, built by the Empress of Russia, and illustrating the remark _“Great princes have great playthings. The building of Babel is next considered, and, through the confusion of tongues which arrested it, the poet traces the rise of war as the origin of monarchy leading to despotism,--the sole rule of the man

“ Who deems a thousand or ten thousand lives,

Spent in the purchase of renown for him,
An easy reckoning; and they think the game!
But war's a game which, were their subjects wise,
Kings would not play at. Nations would do well
To extort their truncheons from the puny hands
Of heroes, whose infirm and baby minds
Are only pleased with mischief; and who spoil,

Because men suffer it, their toy, the world.”
He contrasts the loyalty of Englishmen and that of the
French for Louis the Fourteenth :-

“We, too, are friends to loyalty; we love

The King who loves the law, respects his bounds,
And reigns content with them ; him we serve
Freely and with delight who leaves us free;
But recollecting still that he is man,
We trust him not too far. King though he be,
And King in England, too, he may be weak
And vain enough to be ambitious still,
May exercise

iss his proper powers,
Or covet more than freemen choose to grant:
Beyond that mark is treason. He is ours
T'administer, to guard, t'adorn the state,
But not to warp or change it. We are his,
To serve him nobly in the common cause,

True to the death, but not to be his slaves." Liberty is here, as in many other parts of Cowper's works, his darling theme; and he apostrophises liberty political, liberty of heart, and the liberty of freedom from the worst of despotisms, that of our own lusts.

In the “Winter Walk at Noon,” the wondrous course of nature is beautifully observed on, and the unremitting care of God asserted, in opposition to the theory, that

“ in the origin of things,
The infant elements receiv'd a law
From which they swerve not since; that under force
Of that controlling ordinance they move;
And need not His immediate hand, who first

Prescrib'd their course, to regulate it now." “Thus,” says the poet, with that peculiar satiric humour which distinguishes him,

Thus dream they; and contrive to save a God

The encumbrance of His own concerns !" If time permitted, I would read the description of the fine Winter Noon, and of the transformation effected by Spring, with the poet's lines on Meditation, as being better than mere book knowledge.

The picture of the “Happy Man," near the end of the poem, is also exquisitely beautiful ; and admirable are the lines that conclude the combined books of “The Task.”

The Minor Poems of Cowper are vastly varied. His sacred hymns are among the best of their class,--and far better than most ; for this style of writing is rarely, poetical sense, successful. He says so himself in “Table Talk,"

Pity Religion has so seldom found

A skilful guide into poetic ground !" I need not here quote from them to show Cowper's piety; because that has been sufficiently evidenced already, and may be said to appear in every thing he has written. His translations from the sacred poems of Madame de Guyon, from Vincent Bourne, from Milton's Latin and Italian poems, show his modest and reverential regard for the good things of others, and his desire for their beneficial appreciation.

The lecturer then read the verses supposed to be written by Alexander Selkirk, remarking-I think no separate passage in Cowper's works exceeds this for stirring interest.

I conclude with the diverting ballad of John Gilpin ; and I think it is among the most singular anomalies in the history of our Poets, that the saddest among them

in a

« 이전계속 »