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The unfortunate author of these inimitable lines, a little while before his death,-in a lucid interval of that madness to which "a wounded spirit" had driven him, was found by a visitor, with the Bible in his hand. "You see," said the poor sufferer, "I have only one book left; but it is the best!" Oh! had he found that one, that best book, earlier, and learned to derive from it those comforts which it was sent from heaven to convey to the afflicted, could not he have sung "the death of the righteous," in numbers as swcet, as tender and sublime, as these on "the death of the brave?" Christian views and scriptural images, might here have been quite as harmoniously blended with human regrets and blessed remembrances.

But we proceed to exhibit a third specimen of an English lyric, very different from either of the for


"The wretch, condemn'd with life to part,
Still, still on hope relies;

And every pang that rends his heart,
Bids expectation rise.

"Hope, like the glimmering taper's light,
Adorns and cheers the way;

And still, as darker grows the night,
Emits a brighter ray."


Is this poetry? Every reader feels that it is. if the same ideas were to be given in prose, they could not well be more humbly arrayed. Nothing can be more simple, nothing more exquisite; and hymns, in the same pure and natural manner, might be adapted to every subject in alliance with religion. But by whom? Not by one who had only the delicate ear, the choice expression, the melodious measures, and

the fine conceptions of Goldsmith; but by him who, to all these, should add the piety of Watts, the ardour of Wesley, and the tenderness of Doddridge. Had Goldsmith possessed these latter qualifications, (and they were all within his reach,) would he not have left hymns as captivating in their degree, as any of those few, but inestimable productions, which have rendered him the most delightful of our poets, to the greatest number of readers.

It may be superciliously answered, that all this is mere speculation; and it may be reasonably demanded, that some examples of hymns of merit should be adduced, to establish beyond dispute the possible union of poetry with devotion. This shall be done in the sequel; at present, we will only offer a small extract from one of the best known hymns of the only great poet of our country who has written such things; and we offer it as worthy of being classed with the foregoing quotations from Gray, Collins, and Goldsmith, and as showing, that a heart, filled with the ¦ peace of God, has language suitable to its enjoyments, and capable of communicating a sense of them to every other heart not dead to sympathy:

"The calm retreat, the silent shade,
With prayer and praise agree,
And seem by thy sweet bounty made
For those that follow Thee.

"There, if thy Spirit touch the soul,
And grace her mean abode,

Oh, with what peace, and joy, and love,
She communes with her God!

"There, like the nightingale, she pours
Her solitary lays;

Nor asks a witness to her song,

Nor sighs for human praise."

Now, if this be not poetry, the one-and-twenty enormous and unreadable volumes of Chalmers' English Poets, containing some four or five millions of lines, must be burnt down to the size of "THE CHRISTIAN PSALMIST," before they will yield a residuum of finer standard. Yet will a profane world never be "smit with the love of Sacred Song." The language of devotion, whether in prose or rhyme, cannot be relished, because it is not understood, by any but those who have experienced the power of the Gospel, as bringing salvation to them that believe; for the same reason that the Bible itself is neither acceptable nor intelligible to those who are not taught by the Spirit of God. To such, though "I speak with the tongues of men and of angels" about divine things, "I am as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." To those, on the other hand, who have "tasted the good word of God, and felt the powers of the world to come," it will be easy to comprehend, that poetry and piety may be as surely united on earth, as they are in heaven before the throne, in the songs of angels and the spirits of just men made perfect.

A hymn ought to be as regular in its structure as any other poem; it should have a distinct subject, and that subject should be simple, not complicated, so that whatever skill or labour might be required in the author to develope his plan, there should be little or none required on the part of the reader to understand it. Consequently, a hymn must have a beginning, middle, and end. There should be a manifest gradation in the thoughts, and their mutual dependence should be so perceptible, that they could not be transposed without injuring the unity of the piece; every

line carrying forward the connection, and every verse adding a well-proportioned limb to a symmetrical body. The reader should know when the strain is complete, and be satisfied, as at the close of an air in music; while defects and superfluities should be felt by him as annoyances, in whatever part they might occur. The practice of many good men, in framing hymns, has been quite the contrary. They have begun apparently with the only idea in their mind at the time; another, with little relationship to the former, has been forced upon them by a refractory rhyme; a third became necessary to eke out a verse, a fourth to begin one; and so on, till, having compiled a sufficient number of stanzas of so many lines, and lines of so many syllables, the operation has been suspended; whereas it might, with equal consistency, have been continued to any imaginable length, and the tenth or ten thousandth link might have been struck out, or changed places with any other, without the slightest infraction of the chain; the whole being a series of independent verses, collocated as they came, and the burden a cento of phrases, figures, and ideas, the common property of every writer who had none of his own, and therefore found in the works of each, unimproved, if not unimpaired, from generation to generation.Such rhapsodies may be sung from time to time, and keep alive devotion already kindled; but they leave no trace in the memory, make no impression on the heart, and fall through the mind as sounds glide through the ear,-pleasant, it may be, in their passage, but never returning to haunt the imagination in retirement, or, in the multitude of the thoughts, to refresh the soul. Of how contrary a character, how transcendently su

perior in value as well as in influence, are those hymns, which, once heard, are remembered without effort, remembered involuntarily, yet remembered with renewed and increasing delight at every revival! It may be safely affirmed, that the permanent favourites in every collection are those, which, in the requisites before-mentioned, or for some other peculiar excellence, are distinguished above the rest. This is so remarkably the case with the compositions of Watts, Wesley, and Newton, the most prolific writers of this class, that no further illustration is needful than a recurrence to their pages, when it will be found, that the most neglected are generally inferior in literary merit to the most hackneyed ones, which are in every body's mouth, and every body's heart.

It may be added, that authors, who devote their talents to the glory of God, and the salvation of men, ought surely to take as much pains to polish and perfect their offerings of this kind, as secular and profane poets bestow upon their works. Of these, the subjects are too often of the baser sort, and the workmanship as frequently excels the material; while, on the other hand, the inestimable materials of hymns, -the truths of the everlasting Gospel, the very thoughts of God, the very sayings of Christ, the very inspirations of the Holy Ghost, are dishonoured by the meanness of the workmanship employed upon them; wood, hay, straw, and stubble, being built upon foundations which ought only to support gold, silver, and precious stones; work that will bear the fire, and be purified by it. The faults in ordinary hymns are vulgar phrases, low words, hard words, technical terms, inverted construction, broken syntax, barbarous ab

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