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• The Lord descended from above,
“ And bowed the heavens high, “ And underneath his feet he cast
“ The darkness of the sky.
« On cherubs and on cherubims
“ Full royally he rode,
“ Came flying all abroad."
Dryden honoured these verses with very high commendation, and, in the following lines of his Annus Mirabilis, has apparently imitated them, in preference to the original.
“ The duke less numerous, but in courage more,
On wings of all the winds to combat flies.”
And in his Ceyx and Alcyone, from Ovid, he has
“ And now sublime she rides upon the wind,”
Succedunt pedibus fuscæ caliginis umbræ;
This is somewhat too harsh and prosaic, and there is an up. pleasant cacophony in the terminations of the 5th and 6th lines,
which is probably imitated, as well as most of the following, not from Sternhold, but the original. Thus Pope,
“ Not God alone in the still calm we find,
« Rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm."
The unfortunate Chatterton has
“ And rides upon the pinions
pinions of the wind."
“ With arms sublime that float upon the air."
Few poets of eminence have less incurred the charge of plagiarism than Milton; yet many instances might be adduced of similarity of idea and language with the scripture, which are certainly more than coincidences, and some of these I shall, in a future number, present to your readers. Thus the present passage in the Psalmist was in all probability in his mind when he wrote
“And with mighty wings outspread,
Par. Lost, L. 20, B. 1.
The third verse of the civ. Psalm
“ He maketh the clouds his chariot, and walketh upon the wings of the wind,"
is evidently taken from the before-mentioned verses in the xviiith Psalm, on which it is perhaps an improvement. It has also been imitated by two of our first poets, Shakespeare and Thomson. The former in Romeo and Juliet
“ Bestrides the lazy paced clouds,
The latter in Winter, I. 199–
" "Till Nature's King who oft
As these imitations have not before, I believe, been noticed, they cannot fail to interest the lovers of polite letters; and they are such as at least will amuse your readers in general. If the sacred writings were attentively perused, we should find innumerable passages from which our best modern poets have drawn their most admired ideas; and the enumerations of these instances, would perhaps attract the attention of many persons to
those volumes, which they now perhaps think to contain every thing tedious and disgusting, but which, on the contrary, they would find replete with interest, beauty, and true sublimity.
STERNHOLD AND HOPKINS.
MR. EDITOR, IN your Mirror for. July, a Mr. William Toone has offered a few observations on a paper of mine, in a preceding number, containing remarks on the versions and imitations of the 9th and 10th verses of the xviiith psalm, to which I think it necessary to offer a few words by way of reply; as they not only put an erroneous construction on certain
passages of that paper, but are otherwise open to material objection.
The object of Mr. Toone, in some parts of his observations, appears to have been to refute something which he fancied I had advanced, tending to establish the general merit of Sternhold and Hopkins's translation of the Psalms; but he might have saved himself this unnecessary trouble, as I have decidedly condemned it as mere doggrel, still preserved in our churches, to the detriment of religion: And the version of the passage in question is adduced as a brilliant, though probably accidental, exception to the general character of the work. What necessity, therefore, your correspondent could see for “ hoping that I should think with him, that the sooner the old version of the psalms was consigned to oblivion, the better it would be for rational devotion,” I am perfectly at a loss to imagine.