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tum suggested or a want expressed, than half a dozen competitors start up to supply the deficiency. The observation we threw out, in noticing some selections of sacred poetry, was to this effect; that a selection of our finest devotional poetry, beginning with the early poets, and comprising the productions of neglected authors, would really be valuable. The volumes before us, though not in all respects answering to our ideas or wishes, are distinguished by the meritorious attention which has been paid by their respective Editors to the works of our elder bards.
Mr. Johnstone prefaces his very elegant little volume with remarking that
• There never were so many readers of compilations and extracts as now: and yet, but for certain accidental lights streaming in upon the pages of the ordinary caterers for the general taste, it would scarcely be guessed that poetry or the art of printing was above a half century old, in a country which has for ages possessed the richest and the most copious and varied literature in the world. There is no better nor surer mcans of elevating the taste and bracing the minds of a people beginning to be enervated by a feeble and diffuse literature, than to multiply cheap editions of the best parts of the works of those who were the irue and manly fathers of the national mind. Nor, in this point of view, can a greater blessing be conferred on a people, than by clearing away the rubbish from those golden mines which they have long unconsciously possessed, and which they must prize the moment they are thrown open.'
The present volume, comprehending Specimens of Sacred and Scrious Poetry, is intended to be the first of a Series; but the Editor's plan does not seem to be quite matured, and he will find it somewhat difficult to adhere to the arrangement he proposes. Amatory and Patriotic Poetry, we venture to submit, cannot class otherwise than as 'Lyrical.' Of the present selection we may say in general, that it contains much that is little known from our elder poets, and more that cannot be repeated too often from many of our modern ones. Among the latter, the works of Grahame are laid under large contributions. The whole of the Sabbath is given, followed by his Sabbath Walks and some of the best executed of his Biblical Pictures and Miscellaneous Poems. There is also prefixed, a very interesting memoir of that excellent man, the
• Bard of sinless life and holiest song.' To these succeeds “ The Grave" by Blair, one of the most popular performances, and deservedly so, in the language.
With the exception of the Night Thoughts, no poetical work of a religious description has, perhaps, gone through a greater number of editions. Most of these, however, are very incorrect, and
Mr. Johnstone deserves well of his readers for having presented to them a correct edition of this admirable poem. Having paid this homage to the Muse of Scotland, by giving entire these popular productions of her two leading sacred poets, Mr. Johnstone addresses himself to the task of selecting materials for the remainder of his volume from the works of the British Poets at large, from Chaucer down to the present day. With regard to either the principle or the character of his selection, we deem it unnecessary to enter into minute criticism. He has evidently bestowed a praiseworthy diligence on the compilation, and there is every appearance of a wish to be impartial. Among the early poets from whose works specimens are given, will be found the names of Lord Vaux, Southwell, Sylvester, the Fletchers, Drayton, Donne, Jonson, Wotton, Quarles, Herbert, Sandys, King, Davis, Drummond, Crashaw, Walton, Herriek, and Vaughan. As a sample of this portion of the work, we give the following lines by Ben Jonson, which are remarkable for the spirit of deep and self-abasing devotion by which they are characterized.
« TO HEAVEN.
But it must straight my melancholy be?
That, laden with my sins, I seek for ease ?
And hearts of all, if I be sad for show ;
To ought but grace, or aim at other end.
First, midst, and last, converted One and Three,
My judge, my witness, and my advocate.
And whither rapt, now thou but stoop'st to me?
How can I doubt to find thee ever here!
Conceiv'd in sin, and unto labour born,
And destin'd unto judgement after all.
Upon my flesh to inflict another wound.
With holy Paul, lest it be thought the breath
For weariness of life, not love of thee.' p. 247.
poetry will not prove the most attractive portion of the volume. The extreme quaintness and false taste of many of the poems, will prevent them from pleasing that class for whom the selection appears to be adapted; and we should have thought that larger selections from our greater poets would have been preferable to a somewhat incongruous variety. The biographical notices will be found a pleasing and acceptable feature in the volume. The last division of the selection, consisting of Specimens from Living Authors, is, as might be anticipated, the least satisfactory. Several of the pieces inserted are of inferior merit, having little or no claim to distinction; while many of the most exquisite poems of contemporary writers are passed over. Among deceased poets, the Author of “ Essays in Rhyme" ought not to have been forgotten. The omission of Charles Wesley's name is an unpardonable oversight; nor ought some others to have been neglected. Still, the volume altogether contains so much to commend and so little to find fault with, is so well intended and neatly executed, and is withal so cheap, considering the quantity of matter it comprises, that we cordially recommend it as a very pleasing Christmas present. We must make room for the following striking sonnet by Mr. Moir.
p. 510. Mr. Mitford's volume is of a very different description, less popular in its character, but claiming from us, in some respects, a more minute notice. It consists entirely of selections from our Early Poets, many of them of the highest interest. That • it might have been more complete and correct,' the Editor says, " he is fully aware. • Yet some indulgence may be extended to the execution of the work, when it is considered how scarce and difficult of access are many of the productions, and even the entire works of some of the Early English Poets. The number of poets from whose works extracts are here given, is inferior, by about a third part, to that which the Catalogue of Mr. Ellis presents; but it must be recollected, that the present Editor was confined entirely to the selection of poems connected with sacred subjects and religious feeling, while the former ranged uncontrolled over the whole field of English Poetry. At the same time, the names of some Poets will be found in this volume, that are omitted by Mr. Ellis, and from whose writings no previous specimens have been presented to the public.'
But the question arises, Is the principle of selection a sound one, which leads an Editor to regard less the specific and intrinsic merit of the several compositions, than the number of authors whose names he may bring into his catalogue ? If the object be to illustrate the history of English poetry, by exhibiting specimens of the changes in language, or by shewing he progress of taste, we admit, that the rarity of the work, as well as the very quaintness of the style, may be a sufficient recommendation of the poem extraeted, and that the more extensive the range taken in selecting, the better. But, in compiling a volume of sacred poetry, we know of no other considerations that ought to determine the choice, than the striking cast of the sentiment, or the real beauty of the expression. Nor do we think that it would be difficult to fill a volume with specimens of this kind, which, though less interesting to the bibliographer or antiquary,would be extremely more gratifying to the lovers of devotional poetry.
We have been too much interested, however, by the contents of Mr. Mitford's volume, to murmur at bis not having executed his task in all respects quite to our taste. Many of the less pleasing specimens are highly curious, and the volume will forn a very acceptable addition to our library. As our first specimen of these Specimens, we cannot do better than give the following striking and pathetic stanzas by the Author of the Silex Scintillans.
• They are all gone into the world of light!
And I alone sit ling'ring here :
And my sad thoughts doth clear.
Like stars upon some gloomy grove,
After the sun's remove.
Whose light doth trample on my days:
Mere glimmerings and decays.
O holy hopel and high humility!
High as the heavens above !
To kindle my cold love.
Shining no where but in the dark;
Could man outlook that mark !
At first sight if the bird be flown ;
That to him is unknown.
Call to the soul when man doth sleep,
And into glory peep.
Her captive flames must needs burn there ;
She'd shine thro' all the sphere.
Created glories under thee!
Into true liberty.
My perspective as they pass,
Where I shall need no glass.' One specimen is given from Poems by John Milton.' We were at first ready to imagine that Mr. Mitford had lighted upon the works of some minor poet of that name, not to be found in Ellis, and whom we had never before heard of. It will hardly be credited that, as a specimen of the devotional poetry of the Author of Paradise Lost, we are here presented with one of the psalms done into metre, wherein all but what is in a different character are the very words of the text translated from the original.' This is the notice which prefaces the nine psalms from which Mr. Mitford has taken the one inserted in his volume, the lxxxiid; and it sufficiently accounts for the servility, baldness, and inelegance of the version. But Milton's own explanation of his design is suppressed, and we are left wholly to conjecture as to Mr. Mitford's motive for passing over the exquisite ode on the Na tivity and the Sonnets, to say nothing of the sublime devotional passages in the larger poems, to give this doggrel as a