페이지 이미지

In the poem of "Expostulation," the Muse weeps for England, even as the prophet wept for Israel; asserting that

" When nations are to perish in their sins,

'Tis in the Church the leprosy begins.
Then ceremony leads her bigots forth,
Prepared to fight for shadows of no worth ;
While Truths on which eternal things depend,

Find not, or hardly find, a single friend;" and priestcraft fills

“ religion's vacant place With hollow form, and gesture, and grimace; The temple and its holy rite profan'd,

By mummeries he that dwelt in it disdain'd." I now adduce two quotations, just to exemplify the self-consistency of Cowper's muse, by two similes in different poems. Having marked the first in one poem, I was the more struck on meeting with the other in the second, inasmuch as they have an interesting relationship in their character and application. The first quotation affords consolation to the lowly poor; the second, correction for the loftier in place and means. They are instances, too, of the moral use poets make of those natural facts which the ordinary mind would consider only in respect to their practical value. The husbandman knows what soil is favourable to this or that seed or plant, but the poet gives his knowledge double application. In the poem of “Truth,” Cowper had written

“Oh bless'd effect of penury and want,

The seed sown there, how vigorous the plant !
No soil like poverty for growth divine,

As leanest land supplies the richest wine.”
In the poem of “Expostulation,” speaking of the
Jews, he says, -

“ Theirs were the prophets; theirs the priestly call;

And theirs, by birth, the SAVIOUR of us all :
But grace abus'd brings forth the foulest deeds,
As richest soil the most luxuriant weeds."

These extracts will indicate to you how the writer expostulates with the Church on allowing the cultivation of ceremonial to stifle the vigorous and spreading growth of simple truth: and the careful perusal of Cowper—necessary to the delivery of this lecture—has led me rather to wonder at the high favour in which he is professedly held by many of the present day, who certainly do not go along with him in very much that he has written. I am not here to decide between him and them; but this I may assert, that if the latter be determinate in their own opinions, they had better be cautious of referring to William Cowper as an orthodox authority.

The other poem under notice contains also some very strong passages on England's forgotten God, both in her conquests and her losses. The next poem is on “Hope," “ That sets the stamp of vanity on all

That men have deem'd substantial since the fall.” The writer denounces the idea that all the good and beautiful things of nature were created merely to be enjoyed. They are, he says, of the "good vouchsafed” to “make known superior good;" and, rightly received, they instigate all our feelings

« with a noble scorn Of sensual evil, and thus Hope is born." The effect of hope is to make us use all temporal things, not as the allowable indulgences of a sensuous present, but with reference to an eternal hereafter; remembering that however briefly transient

" is the fleeting hour, It is yet the seed of an immortal flower.” To take the fruits, the flowers, and the sunshine, as gifts for passing enjoyment, having no more important value, is

“ To deal with life as children with their play,
Who first misuse, then cast their toys away.”

The next poem on “Charity," or "Love,”—(for, as the writer says

“GOD working ever on a social plan,

By various ties attaches man to man,")contains stirring passages on that greatest violation of the social law, shown by "merchants rich in cargoes of despair,"—in plain terms by the slaveholders,

“Who drive a loathsome traffic, guage, and span,
And buy the muscles and the bones of man!
Grief is itself a medicine, and bestow'd
T improve the fortitude that bears the load;
But slavery Virtue dreads it as her grave,-
Patience itself is meanness in a slave,
Who, to deep sadness sullenly resign'd,
Must feel his body's bondage in his mind;
Puts off his gen'rous nature; and, to suit
His manners with his fate, puts on the brute."

(To be continued.)


NDER this head we purpose giving monthly one or

more short pieces, either prose or poetry, suitable for public reading or recitation-a form of entertainment that is daily becoming more popular, for it may be made equally instructive and amusing. It is said that lectures have had their day-that people have been bored by selfnamed lecturers until the word lecture has become unpopular. Of course there are both good and bad lectures, and our province is to print only the best. We are happy to say there is no lack of first-rate lectures ; in fact, their number was never so great, thanks to the growing intelligence amongst all classes--speakers and listeners, writers and readers. The insertion of Readings will, it is hoped,

prove an additional feature of interest in this magazine, and render it more acceptable to the promoters and patrons of educational institutions, reading-rooms, and places, of intellectual recreation. Under the title of “Penny Readings,” these pleasant evenings with English and American authors have been successful, even in the paying sense of the word, which lectures seldom are. The secret of this success lies in the variety of the entertainment, several pieces-grave and gay-being usually given by as many readers. Good compositions, well read, create a healthy literary taste, and impart some knowledge of elocution. Generally the selections should be made from modern authors, the standard poets, and our periodical literature: people understand and enjoy descriptions of the life of to-day better than the world of Swift, Steele, and Addison. But the whole range of literature will furnish material accordant with the character of the audience. Having had. considerable experience in this matter, we shall give our readers the benefit of it, with hints on the management of the voice, in order to read with effect.

Our first piece is by the inimitable Thomas Hood, and will require considerable ability and practice to do it justice. It should be committed to memory (which is best done by writing it two or three times); and ought to be delivered seated, or standing at a desk, pen in hand.


Thou happy, happy elf!
(But stop-first let me kiss away that tear)

Thou tiny image of myself!
(My love, he's poking peas into his ear!)

Thou merry, laughing sprite,

With spirits feather light,
Untouched by sorrow, and unsoiled by sin,
(Good heav'ns! the child is swallowing a pin !)

Thou little tricksy Puck!
With antic joys so funnily bestuck,
Light as the singing bird that wings the air,
(The door, the door! he'il tumble down the stair!)

Thou darling of thy sire !
(Why, Jane, he'll set his pinafore afire !)

Thou imp of mirth and joy!
In love's dear chain so strong and bright a link,
Thou idol of thy parents! (Drat the boy!

There goes my ink !)

Thou cherub but of earth!
Fit playfellow for fays by moonlight pale,

In harmless sport and mirth,
(That dog will bite him if he pulls its tail !)
Thou human huniming-bee, extracting honey
From every blossom in the world that blows;
Singing in youth's Elysium ever sunny,
(Another tumble--that's his precious nose!)

Thy father's pride and hope ! (He'll break the mirror with that skipping-rope !). With pure heart newly stamped from Nature's mint,

(Where did he learn that squint?)

Thou young domestic dove !
(He'll have that jug off with another shove !)

Dear nursling of the hymeneal nest?
(Are those torn clothes his best ?)

Little epitome of man! (He'll climb upon the table—that's his plan!) Touched with the beauteous tints of dawning life,

(He's got a knife !)

Thou enviable being !
No storms, no clouds, in thy blue sky foreseeing,

Play on, play on,
My elfin John!

Toss the light ball—bestride the stick,
(I knew so many cakes would make him sick !)
With fancies buoyant as the thistle-down,
Prompting the face grotesque, and antic brisk,

With many a lamb-like frisk,
(He's got the scissors, snipping at your gown !)

Thou pretty opening rose ! (Go to your child, and wipe his nose !) Balmy, and breathing music like the south, (He really brings my heart into my mouth!) Fresh as the morn, and brilliant as its star, (I wish that window had an iron bar!) Bold as the hawk, yet gentle as the dove, (I'll tell you what, my love, I cannot write unless he's sent above !)

London : FRED. PITMAN, 20, Paternoster Row, E.C.

Printed by J. WARD, Dewsbury.

« 이전계속 »