« 上一頁繼續 »
Cowper is eminently the David of English poetry, pouring forth, like the great Hebrew bard, his own deep and warm feelings in behalf of moral and religious truth. "His language," says Campbell, "has such a masculine, idiomatic strength, and his manner, whether he rises into grace or falls into negligence, has so much plain and familiar freedom, that we read no poetry with a deeper conviction of its sentiments having come from the author's heart; and of the enthusiasm, in whatever he describes, having been unfeigned and unexaggerated. He impresses us with the idea of a being, whose fine spirit had been long enough in the mixed society of the world to be polished by its intercourse, and yet withdrawn so soon as to retain an unworldly degree of purity and simplicity." And a writer in the Retrospective Review remarks, that "the delightful freedom of his manner, so acceptable to those who had long been accustomed to a poetical school, of which the radical fault was constraint; his noble and tender morality; his fervent piety; his glowing and well-expressed patriotism; his descriptions, unparalleled in vividness and accuracy since Thomson; his playful humor and his powerful satire; the skilful construction of his verse, at least in die 'Task,' and the refreshing variety of that fascinating poem,—all together conspired to render him highly popular, both among the multitude of common readers, and among those who, possessed of poetical powers themselves, were capable of intimately appreciating those of a real poet."
We might thus All many pages with encomiastic remarks upon the poetry of Cowper, but the reader would rather taste of the original for himself.1
THE PROVIDENCE OF OOD IN ALL THINGS.
Happy the man, who sees a God employ d
1 Read—Hayley's Lire, a most Interesting piece of blogTaphy—Grlmshaw's Life, prefixed to bis edition In I vols., and Southey's Life, prefixed to his ediUon In 15 vols. The latter ts the best edition of the poet. Read, also. artlcUs In the Edinburgh Review, 11. 6i, and iv. 273, and In the Quarterly xvl. 116, and xxx. Its. Also, an article In Jeffrey's Miscellanies. An admlrible dissertation on the pro* cress of English poetry, from Chaucer to Cowper, will be found in vol. II. chap. 12, of Soutbcy'g ediUon of the poet
3 A C2«
Kindle a fiery boil upon the skin,
And putrefy the breath of blooming Health.
He calls for Famine, and the meagre fiend
Blows mildew from between his shrivell'd lips,
And taints the golden ear. He springs his mines,
And desolates a nation at a blast
Forth steps the spruce Philosopher, and tells
Of homogeneal and discordant springs,
And principles; of causes, how they work
By necessary laws their sure effects
Of action and reaction: he has found
The source of the disease that nature feels,
And bids the world take heart and banish fear.
Thou fool! will thy discovery of the cause
Suspend the effect, or heal it? Has not God
Still wrought by means since first he made the world •
And did he not of old employ his means
To drown it? What is his creation less
Than a capacious reservoir of means,
Form'd for his use, and ready at his will?
Go, dress thine eyes with eye-salve; ask of Him,
Or ask of whomsoever he has taught;
And learn, though late, the genuine cause of all.
no, u. isi.
THE WOUNDED SPIRIT HEALED.
I was a stricken deer, that left the herd
Tort, 111. 108.
Philosophy, baptized In the pure fountain of eternal love, Has eyes indeed; and viewing all she sees As meant to indicate a God to man, Gives Him his praise, and forfeits not her own. Learning has borne such fruit in other days On all her branches: Piety has found Friends in the friends of science, and true prayer Has flow'd from lips wet with Castalian dews. Such was thy wisdom, Newton, child-like sage! Sagacious reader of the works of God, And in His word sagacious. Such, too, thine, Milton, whose genius had angelic wings, And fed on manna! And such thine, in whom Our British Themis gloried with just cause, Immortal Hale! for deep discernment praised, And sound integrity, not more than famed For sanctily of manners undefiled. '"*■1B
THE GEOLOGIST AND COSMOLOOIST.1
Some drill and bore
r<ut, Ul. ISO.
There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart;
1 In toe early history of geology many good and pious people were concerned, lest such discoveries should be made ns would invalidate the Mosaic account of the creation. But how groundless have all their fears proved I Truth is one, and God's works can never be in conflict with his Word. 01 the whole race of "spruce philosophers," as Cowper calls them, even the infidel Voltaire could thus write: "Philosophers put themselves, without ceremony, in the place of God, and destroy and renew the world after their own fashion." "From the time of Bullbn," says Dr. Wiseman, in his learned Lectures on Science and Revealed Religion, "system rose beside system, like the moving pillars of the desert, advancing In threatening array; but Ukc them they were fabrics of sand; and though in 1806 the French Institute counted more than Eiqhty such theories of geology hostile to Scripture history, not one of them has stood till now, or deserves to be recorded." And Turner, in his learned work on Chemistry, says, "Of all Uie wonders of geology, none is so wonderful as the confidence of the several theorists."
s Upon this and other pieces of Cowper, in behalf of the poor slave, the poet Campbell thus truthfully as well as feelingly remarks: "Poetical expositions of the horrors of slavery may, Indeed, seem very uuUkcly agents in contributing to destroy it; and it is possible that the most refined planter In the West Indies, may look with neither shame nor compunction on his own tmagt, exposed in the pages of Cowper, as a being degraded by giving stripes and tasks to his fellow creatures. But such appeals to the heart of the community arc not lost- They fix themselves silently ui the popular memory, and they become, at last, a part of that public opinion, whtca must, sooner os faster, wrench the lash from the hand of the oppressor."—Spteiauni, vil. 364.
As human nature's broadest, foulest blot,
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat
With stripes, that Mercy, with a bleeding heart,
Weeps when she sees inflicted on a beast.
Then what is man? And what man, seeing this,
And hiiving human feelings, does not blush,
And hang his head, to think himself a man?
I would not have a slave to till my ground,
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep,
Anil tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
That sinews bought and sold have ever earn'd.
No: dear as freedom is, and in my heart's
Just estimation prized above all price,
I had much rather be myself the slave,
And wear the bonds, than fasten them on him.1
KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM.
Knowledge and Wisdom, far from being one,
Tut. vL 68.
MERCY TO ANIMALS.
I would not enter on my list of friends,
1 When Cowpcr wrote these lines, nearly a million of African slaves tolled In the British colonies. But the English abollUonists, led on by Sharpe, and Clarkson, and Wllberforce, so earnestly portrayed their wrongs nnd plead their cause, that the great heart of the nnUon became at length fully aroused to the subject, and they were declared absolutely and unconditionally free on the 1st of August, IMS.
ft was predicted that theft, and plunder, and murder, would be the consequence and the lrt of August was anticipated by all with the most intense interest. It came and passed with ah the solemnity of a Sabbath-day. The houses of worship were thronged the preceding evening, to wrl come the advent of Liberty, and as the clock tolled out the hour of midnight, the assembled populace bowed the knee in prayer and praise to the God who had bestowed it. Not a blow was struck in revenge—not an arm upraised in riot.
Ten years have now elapsed, and they have borne witness to the constantand rapid improvement of the freedmen. Their food, clothing, and furniture are much better: nearly every family has a horse or a mule, and very many have several. They are willing to work steadily for moderate W&kcs, and most of them remain on the estates of their former masters. Many have purchased land, and It is esUmated that there are now 20,000 freeholders among the emancipated peasantry of Jamaica alone. Marriage is now "honorable" among them; the parental relation Is better understood, and Its duties better performed; ed'icaUon Is appreciated; and churches have multiplied. The freed men contribute liberally towards sustaining the ministration of the gospel among themselves, and are already beginning to stretch out their hands, and to send forth their missionaries to their benighted fatherland. For these condensed facts I am indebted to Rev. C. S. Renahaw, for many years a desotcu missionary among the freedmcn In Jamaica.
Yet wanting sensibility,) the man
Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.
An inadvertent step may crush the snail
That crawls at evening in the public path;
But he that has humanity, forewarn'd,
Will tread aside, and let the reptile live.
The creeping vermin, loathsome to the sight,
And charged perhaps with venom, that intrudes,
A visitor unwelcome, into scenes
Sacred to neatness and repose, the alcove,
The chamber, or refectory, may die:
A necessary act incurs no blame.
Not so when, held within their proper bounds,
And guiltless of offence, they range the air,
Or take their pastime in the spacious field.
There they are privileged; and he that hunts
Or harms them there is guilty of a wrong,
Disturbs the economy of Nature's realm,
Who, when she form'd, design'd them an abode.
The sum is this: If man's convenience, health,
Or safety interfere, his rights and claims
Are paramount, and must extinguish theirs.
Else they are all—the meanest things that are—
As free to live, and to enjoy that life,
As God was free to form them at the first,
Who in his sovereign wisdom made them all.
Ye, therefore, who love mercy, teach your sons
To love it too. TTM*. "<•5M
Some seek diversion in the tented field,
Taj*, v. its.
Tis liberty alone that gives the flower
Tail. v. <ts.