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As once we did, till disproportioned' sin
Jarred against nature's chime, and with harsh din
To their great Lord, whose love their motion swayed
In first obedience, and their state of good.
To live with him, and sing in endless morn of light!
ON THE LATE MASSACRE IN PIEDMONT.3
AVENGE, O Lord! thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,*
To Heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
(1) Disproportioned-mismatched, disorderly. (2) Diapason-from the Greek diá, through, and Tao@v, of all the interval of the octave, so called because it includes all admitted musical sounds"— here, metaphorically, full harmony.
(3) This sublime prayer, as it may truly be called, was written on occasion of the barbarous massacre in 1655, inflicted by the Duke of Savoy on his Protestant subjects, the Vaudois.
(4) So pure of old-The Vaudois appear to have kept themselves separate from the church of Rome from time immemorial.
(5) Their moans, &c.-The simplicity of the expression, the fulness of meaning, and the fine movement of the verse, make this sentence truly sublime.
(6) The triple tyrant-the Pope. So designated, probably, from his wearing the triple crown.
(7) Babylonian woe-the woe denounced on the spiritual Babylon, which is by many considered to be the Roman Catholic church.
TO A FRIEND.
WHEN we were idlers with the loitering rills,
Of that sweet music which no ear can measure;
WE watched her breathing through the night,
Her breathing soft and low,
As in her breast the wave of life
Kept heaving to and fro.
So silently we seemed to speak,
As we had lent her half our powers
Our very hopes belied our fears,
Our fears our hopes belied—
We thought her dying when she slept,
(1) Wisely doting-to dote, connected with the Dutch dutten, and the French, doter, radoter, probably meant originally to sleep, or dream, then to rave, to talk or act foolishly: hence the pointed antithesis, in the above phrase. (2) This beautiful line reminds us of Gray's expression (see p. 127)—
"Where ignorance is bliss
'Tis folly to be wise;"
and also of the exquisite story of Cupid and Psyche, as told by Apuleius (book iv. 28). Psyche was perfectly happy in the love of Cupid, or Eros, until her curiosity prompted her to try to ascertain who he was-and then he vanished for ever!
NIGHT is the time for rest;-
Stretch the tired limbs and lay the head
Night is the time for dreams ;
The gay romance of life;
When truth that is, and truth that seems,
Blend in fantastic strife;
Ah! visions less beguiling far
Than waking dreams by daylight are!
Night is the time for toil ;-
Night is the time to weep ;-
Those graves of memory where sleep
The joys of other years;
Hopes that were angels in their birth,
Night is the time for care;-
Come to our lonely tent;
Like Brutus,' 'midst his slumbering host,
(1) Like Brutus-in allusion to the phantom of Cæsar, which is said to have appeared to Brutus before the battle of Philippi.
(2) Stalworth-from the Anglo-Saxon stal-weorth, worth stealing or taking, and therefore (says Richardson), by inference-brave, strong, daring. Jamieson derives its equivalent stalwart from the Anglo-Saxon stalferhth, steel mind or spirit-a much more probable derivation.
Night is the time to pray;-
Steal from the throng to haunts untrod,
Calmly to yield the weary breath,
From sin and suffering cease;
Think of heaven's bliss and give the sign
To parting friends-such death be mine!
DEATH OF AN INFANT.1
DEATH found strange beauty on that infant brow,
And dashed it out.
On cheek and lip.
And the rose faded.
There was a tint of rose
He touched the veins with ice,
There spake a wishful tenderness, a doubt
EARLY RISING AND PRAYER.2
WHEN first thine eyes unveil, give thy soul leave
(1) This subject has not often been more gracefully and tenderly handled than in the above lines. The picture here presented matches with that by the same elegant hand in p. 88.
(2) The author of these striking lines was a Welsh private gentleman, who lived in the 17th century. It is rare to find so much meaning in so few words.
The spirit's duty; true hearts spread and heave
Give Him thy first thoughts then, so shalt thou keep
Yet never sleep the sun up;1 prayer should
Dawn with the day; there are set awful hours
(1) The sun up-i. e. when the sun is up.
(2) Prevent-from the Latin præ, before, and venire, to come or go-to go before. This is the primitive signification of the word, and was common in the 17th century and earlier, as is evident from the Liturgy:-" Prevent us, O Lord, by thy continual grace."
(3) Heaven's gate, &c.-It is difficult to conceive of a more beautiful mode of suggesting the charms and benefits of early rising. Many a long poem on the subject is less eloquent than this one line.
(4) Fellow-creatures-i. e. the trees, flowers, birds, &c., created by the same hand.
(5) I Am-See Exodus iii. 14.
(6) Go this way-i. e. do as they do-praise God early in the morning.
(7) Who prevailed, &c.-See Genesis xxxii. 26.
(8) Heaven-rhymes here, by a most extraordinary license, with sin.
(9) Shroud in, &c.—are wrapt in, or symbolized by; as when we speak of the morning of the world, of the resurrection, &c.