Imágenes de páginas
PDF

sacred poems of a maid-servant, which have accidentally fallen in our way. One reason, indeed, we know, for which critics “ of sterner stuff.” have occasionally threatened to require a qualification for appearing in the manor of Parnassus, is, that we materially injure society by a confusion of trades; that a man must necessarily make bad shoes who makes good (or even bad) verses; that to polish periods absolutely disqualifies your servant for polishing tables; and that a farmer's boy must necessarily misguide the plough or starve his horses, whilst he is in poetical “jocundity driving his team a field,” or thrashing his brains for rhymes upon his oats. To this, however, the answer of candouris very easy; that the instances are so very few, in spite of the utmost licence, or

licentiousness, if we please, allowed

to such spirits, of their appearance at all; and so much fewer, of their materially injuring themselves or others, by the exercise of a humble wit and rustic fancy upon the objects immediatly lying around them; that it would be idle to preach against the permission of such an effort upon any general principle of social order. And perhaps the most rigid laws of Aristippus himself would repress only the least mischievous of this not very mischievous class, by repressing only the humbler and less riotous of the breed; whilst the wilder and really dangerous part of the community of genius would, in spite of all restraint, “break prison like a Levanter, sweep the earth with their hurricane,” and only leave their superiors to lament that due encouragement had not been afforded at first, which might have turned their frantic efforts into a channel really honourable to themselves and o: to the public. We have the

appiness to add, as a confirmation of the foregoing remarks, that Sarah Newman, certainly, “for her station,” rising almost above the former class, has not been at all spoiled, by a poetical vein, for the hum

Chaist. Observ. No. 118.

ble occupation of a servant. Her “short and simple annals,” the editor tells us, are these.

"She is a native of Odiham, in Hampshire, where she was left, in early life, an unprotected orphan, possessed of no other mental acquirements than those of knowing how to read and write; the latter she gained by procuring a few occasional lessons from a schoolmaster. This was the whole of Sarah Newman's education. Possessing an honest, active, and independent mind, she soon went out to service, and successively discharged her duties in that relation to several families. I knew her first in the family of a respectable boarding-school at Alton: she afterwards removed to another house, where she took the charge of an infirm person, who required constant attention. Whilst she was at the latter place, I first became acquainted with her poetical talents, by accidentally calling on a friend on whose table lay a book of her verses, which she had lent one of the family to read. Though the verses were loosely connected, and evidently misarranged, I discovered enough merit in them to excite my curiosity to converse with the writer: in consequence, I prevailed with her to entrust me with a few more papers, and the result was, a determination to attempt the present use of them.” p. v.

We find further, that she had occasionally looked into the works of Milton, Pope, and Young; which latter she possesses, and we should guess, from the style which our readers will notice in the extracts we shall make, she has been much in the habit of reading. She is described at present as near sixty years of age, far from robust, though supporting herself by her needle work, and by the rustic labours of “the prong and the rake,” in addition to an annual income of three pounds saved from wages. With this she is represented as cheerful and contented, having an inexhaustible source of comfort within herself: “ but who,” as the editor truly enough asks, “ will tax either her or her friends with covetousness, in desiring to enlarge her scanty store of supplies, against the approaching winter of

old age?” She has already, he tells us, “expressed herself very gratefully” for the kind, and, as she considers it, unmerited patronage of the numerous subscribers to her little volume. The editor, in announcing further that Sarah Newman is a Church of England woman, cannot restrain ... himself from venting a wish which would have done honour to a St. Cyprian or a St. Angustine; and if fairly acted upon from their time to the present, would have saved the world from the incumbrance of many hundred large unmeaning folios, as well as from the loss of many of its best friends, prematurely cut off by the operation of other principles, some from usefulness, and some from life itself. “I wish,” he says, “ with my whole soul, that all who are distinguished from the children of this world,’ by a conduct directed and inspired by the pure spirit of Gospel faith, which makes 'fit for the kingdom of God,” were less solicitous about those minuter distinctions which prevail in this age, of multifarious division on doctrinal points.” p. vii. What an affecting phenomenon is it, in the history of human infirmity and inconsistency, that sentiments similar to these shall have been uttered by persons whom those very minuter distinctions only separate, as they think conscientiously, from the desired unity in Christian fellowship; and who perpetuate in their own persons the seeds of that very division, of which “with their whole soul,” they deprecate the fruit ! This is the inconsistency which we presume will gradually convince our editor of the certain disappointment which awaits his most ardent wishes on this head;— awaits them, at least, till the prayers of the righteous, which avail much, daily ascending to the Spirit of all grace, shall at length obtain, as Heaven's last best gift to the universal church, that “all who profess and call themselves Christians, shall

be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in lighteousness of life.” But to return to Sarah Newman: Before we offer a few specimens of her style to our readers, we must premise further, that we follow the editor in disclaiming any participation in the guilt of grammatical or other inaccuracies, which the critical reader will find little trouble in detecting—though with the still more complete disavowal of correcting any one “ orthographical or grammatical inaccuracy”,” in addi. tion to the “wonderfully few" which have been corrected, or which may still remain in the pages of the whole volume. This premised, we entertain a hope of surprising our readers with some extracts from the writings of this servant-maid, which, with due allowance, bespeak something of a “heart pregnant with celestial fire.” They are chiefly in the heroic style, which seems evidently her turn, and that in which she excels. The first we give, is from the opening piece, entitled, “Desultory Reflections on the Creation in general, the Fałł. and the Redemption of Man" After an address to the “Parent of nature,” “Whose powerful voice primeval silence broke, Pierc'd thro' the void, and thro' the darkness spoke,” and who “—Fix'd the vigorous sun's obsequions ray, To wake the nations, and unbind the day." the authoress proceeds through the creation of man— “Erect his make, for upward gazing meet, And earth was his, an empire at his feet"to his fall, which is set forth in the following lines. “The seal of peace was broke, the opening

sound Of thunders burst, and fightnings flew around;

* Page iv.

Fierce hurling, whirlwinds roll their rapid car, And trembling nature felt impending war. The orbs o'erpass their spheres, the ocean rtars, And bursts his bounds to unfrequented shores. By chills of horror and of guilt convey'd, They shroud them in the unavailing shade. One lofty wood that did a mountain scale, And verged o'ershadowing on the nether vale, (Unsought before) their guilty footsteps trod, To shield them trembling from the face of God. in vain they shun that power whose wisdom darts Thro' the enclos'd concealment of our hearts. In holy fervours, rapturous as before, They hold high converse with their God no rtrote In Eden's bowers, nor feel that sweet dis.

Whence morning praise, and evening incense rose When virtue turn'd their water into wine, And clouds of blessing drop'd the dew divine: When heavenly harps to silver sounds were strung, And the grand morning stars in concert sung, Now far from living streams of heavenly flow, From hallow'd ground, with devious steps they go: Expell'd their state of ease, their toils they share, Where lands untill'd a barren aspect wear: Where nature's face lay chang'd in sad reverse, And blasted by the thunders of the curse. The silver cord was loos'd, the golden bowl Was downward turn'd, like man's perverted soul. 0 fatal knowledge! Direful overthrow! Whence sprang the inlet to their offspring's woe; Whence fallen nature shrank before her God, And felt the awful scourges of his rod!" pp. 6–8. If we are not mistaken, the impression produced on the mind of our readers by the above extract, is of a nature highly favourable to the original genius of this almost uneducated female. Amidst some common-place rhymes (perhaps to her not so) and many harsh incondile expressions, which the last “ la

bour of the file ” is necessary to rub off from inexperienced composition, we find still a poetical vein running through the lines, enriched with a variety of allusion, which, if not always apposite, is at least very remote from the tame and colourless uniformity of polished debility; and not very deeply chargeable with that bombast which no vigorous imagination, more conversant with Young than with the sober lessons of classical taste, can be expected wholly, to avoid... In some of the expressions, our Miltonic reader may perhaps trace a vestige of the great poet's No more of talk, where God or angel guest With man, as with his friend familiar, used To sit indulgent;

and may perhaps seem to hear again, when —Nature gave her second groan, Sky lour'd, and, muttering thunder, some sad drops Wept at completing of the mortal sin. PAR. Lost. B. ix. But we feel some distrust, it must be owned, in such a method of commending Sarah Newman to our readers. Or, at least, in placing a gem from the immortal crown of John Milton, so nearly in contact with the humble wreath of our rustic authoress, we can only be actuated by the hope of communicating to her, by reflection, a few of those sparkling rays, which may leave the reader under impressions more pleasing than were to be expected from the bare recital of her own defective verses. From p. 16, we select the following lines, which, with some claim upon the praise of ingenious versification, and much on that of genuine orthodoxy, may be a warming to all future poetasters, how they meddle with such real personages as bishops and primates, or invest their transient rhymes in the “shining robes of holy orders.” “We are Abraham's seed, the house of Aaron saith— But where is Abraham's zeal, and Abraham's faith?

This priest of priest's the purer ephod wore, And on his heart the chosen jewels bore— Great bishop of his church, with Urim grac'd, And Thummin pendant on his hallow'd breast. Primate of souls! Immaculate divine! How do thy robes with holy orders shine!” pp. 16, 17.

The editor, we should observe here, has inserted a note on the Urim and Thummim, extracted from Lewis's Origines Hebraeae, which, with some other critical and moral notices in illustration of the text, deserves commendation, as shewing a spirit of research, and as judiciously conciliating respect to his authoress, by gaining it to her patron and panegyrist.

If we have succeeded in bringing on our readers thus far with us, in our remarks on this little volume, we do not despair of decoying them through two more tolerably long quotations, one from a second heroic production, entitled “Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ?” and the other, an entire little piece, called “ A Spiritual Song for Harvest-home,” which shall be our specimen of her powers in the lyric measure.

“Would all the kingdoms that the world bestows, Bow to my sway, and yield to my dispose, (While years—unnumbered ages roll'd along State undiminished, and my tower strong) My soul would ask an ampler treasure: more Than all the fulness of the eastern store; Than courts contain, or palaces of state, 'Mid trains and trappings of the earthly great; Than all that whirls ambition's flaming car, On with the tumult, and applause of war: Than mighty conquerors, those of fam'd renown, That wield the sceptre, and that wear the - crown : Than all the charms that tickle mortal ears, Join'd to the music of harmonious spheres; Than all gay Fancy's elevated powers, And choice delusions of her mispent hours: Than all the rocks, the pastures, or the woods; Than all the mountains, sountains, or the floods;

Than gold or rubies; every foud delight Beneath the globe of day, or orbs of night. The soul has wider scope: she spreads het wings, And gains a prospect o'er terrestrial things: Soars to that Friend who did his state foregos And hung, eclipsed, in a night of woe. whose graceful hand first bruis’d the serpent's head, Whose vigorous arm captivity captive led; Pass'd the dread gulf of old, and now prepares To unloose its terrors, and break up its bars; Release, and set the exulting prisoners free, And wrest the spear, and pluck the sting from thee O Death!” . . . . . pp. 43–45. A Spiritual Song for Harrest-home. “Thanks! to the goodness of the Lord, Whose sov’reign bounty spreads our board: We are daily feeding from his hand, His rich donations fill the land. But by his Son (our cov'nant head) We are daily fed on living bread. Led by his Spirit may we come, And feast with Him at harvest-home. Lord sanctify our souls from sin, Lay thy rich seed of graces in: Thy will be done—Thy kingdom come— Lord bring thy fruits of harvest home. Opurify our hearts anew, And every frailty there subdue— Meet for thy presence, may we come, And join thy blest at harvest-home ! Our soul and spirit Lord upraise: Inspire the theme, and aid our lays: Grant we may to thy banquet come, And sing thy praise at harvest-home. 'Twas thy free mercy mark'd the deed, To bring us to the living Head; That bids the immortal spirit come, And taste the joys of harvest-home.” pp. 33.40. We shall make but one concluding observation on the foregoing quotations, and the poems from whence they are extracted. Had their only merit been their having proceeded from the pen of an uneducated and illiterate woman, though the wonder of such a person rhyming at all is something curious in the history of the human mind, yet we should not have deemed the time of our readers sufficiently ill employed, to warrant so large a transfer of it to the task of perusing them. At the same time, possessing

some considerable portion of intrinsic merit, we think that these poems advance a large additional claim upon the attention of the curious—may we not say also of the pious 2—as having issued from the pen of a person such as we have described. As such, and in consideration of the original meritorious cause of their publication, stated already, we venture to recommend them to the patronage of our readers. And if the poems redeem our pledge, as to the pleasure to be derived from their perusal, in no other manner, yet we shall be satisfied if they should be found to furnish another instance of the power of religion in exalting and enobling the human mind, even under the most unfayourable circumstances. And if the reader should still perceive Sarah Newman to be “an ignorant and unlearned” woman, we hope at least he will, from her style and general appearance, “take knowledge of her, that she has been with Jesus.” —-mo

[blocks in formation]

trust, nothing will be able to quench, until every corner of our Eastern, empire shall have been satiated, if that be possible, with Divine light and heat. The friends of the Bible Society in India, Mr. Martyn tells us, have endeavoured to ascertain the order of the respective claims of the various classes of persons in India. The European regiments having been supplied with the Scriptures, it became a duty to consider to whom next they should direct their attention, and it was soon determined that the claims of the native Christians were those which were the most urgent. The preacher, after considering the obligation of Christians to do good to all, but especially to the household of faith, and putting the question, Where is this household to be found, and what can be done for them replies—“You need not go out of India to look for them: they dwell in the land, and are natives of it; and the only favour we ask for them, is the present of a Bible.” The native Christians of India Mr. Martyn arranges in four divisions. From this part of the sermon we shall make copious extracts. “I. The Portuguese, of whom there are about 50,000. On the Malabar coast alone there are 36,000; at Calcutta, 7,000; in Ceylon, 5,000. Besides these, there are settlements of Portuguese all along the coast from Madras to Cape Comorin, and fani. lies of them are to be found in all the principal towns on the Ganges and Jumna. Copies of the Portuguese Scriptures could be procured immediately from England, and they might be put into circulation without difficulty, because here, as well as in Europe, the Roman Catholic priests are no longer averse to the translation and dispersion of the Scriptures. “ II. The next class of Christians to be noticed are those of Tanjore, who were converted to the Christian faith chiefly by the labours of Swartz. They are in number about 12,000, and speak the Tamul. A version of the Scriptures, in this language, was made long ago by Fabricius, one of the Danish Inissionaries, who devoted his whole life to the work. “These people are all Protestants; every

« AnteriorContinuar »