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This concluding sentence of Mr. Toone's paper, which I consider as introduced merely by way of rounding the period, and making a graceful exit, needs no further animadversion. I shall therefore proceed to examine the objections of the “ worthy clergyman of the church of England,” to these verses cited by your correspondent, by which he hopes to prove, that Dryden, Knox, and the numerous other eminent men who have expressed their admiration thereof, to be little better than ideots. - The first is this:
“ Cherubim is the plural of Cherub; but our versioner, by adding an s to it, has rendered them both plurals.” By adding an s to what? If the pronoun it refer to cherubim, as according to the construction of the sentence it really does, the whole objection is nonsense.-But the worthy gentleman, no doubt, meant to say, that Sternhold had rendered them both plurals, by the addition of an s, to cherub. Even in this sense, however, I conceive the charge to be easily obviated; for, though cherubim is doubtless usually considered as the plural of cherub, yet the two words are frequently so used in the Old Testament as to prove, that they were often applied to separate ranks of beings. One of these, which I shall cite, will dispel all doubt on the subject.
" And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high."
1 Kings, v. 23, chap. vii.
202 The other objection turns upon a word with which it is not necessary for me to interfere; for I did not quote these verses as instances of the merit of Sternhold, or his version, I only asserted, that the lines which I then copied, viz.
The Lord descended from above, &c.
were truly noble and sublime. Whether, therefore, Sternhold wrote all the winds (as asserted by your correspondent, in order to furnish room for objection) or mighty winds, is of no import. But if this really be a subsequent alteration, I think at least there is no improvement; for when we conceive the winds as assembling from all quarters, at the omnipotent command of the Deity, and bearing him with their united forces from the heavens, we have a more sublime image, than when we see him as flying merely on mighty winds, or as driving his team (or troop) of angels on a strong tempest's rapid wing, with most amazing swiftness, as elegantly represented by Brady and Tate*.
How any man, enjoying the use of his senses, could prefer the contemptible version of Brady and Tate of this verse to Sternhold's, is to me inexplicable. The epithets which are introduced would have disgraced a school-boy, and the majestic imagery of the original is sacrificed to make room for tinsel and fustian.
The chariot of the king of kings,
Which active troops of angels drew;
With most amuzing swiftness fiew.
I differ from your correspondent's opinion, that these verses, so far from possessing sublimity, attract the reader merely by their rumbling sound: And here it may not be amiss to observe, that the true sublime does not consist in high sounding words, or pompous magnificence; on the contrary, it most frequently appears clad i native dignity and simplicity, without art, and without ornament.
The most elegant critic of antiquity, Longinus, in his treatise on the sublime, adduces the following passage from the book of Genesis, as possessing that quality in an eminent degree.
“God said let there be light, and there was light: Let the earth be, and earth was
From what I have advanced on this subject, I would not have it inferred, that I conceive the version of Sternhold and Hopkins, generally speaking, to be superior to that of Brady and Tate; for, on the contrary, in almost every instance, except that abovementioned, the latter possesses an indubitable right to pre-eminence. Our language, however, cannot yet boast one version possessing the true spirit of the original; some are beneath contempt, and the best has scarcely attained mediocrity. Your correspondent has quoted some verses from Tate, in triumph, as comparatively excellent; but, in my opinion, they are also instances of our general failure in sacred poetry: they abound in those ambitiosa ornamenta which do well to please women and children, but which disgust the man of taste.
* The critic apparently quoted from memory, for we may search in vain for the latter part of this sentence.
To the imitations already noticed of this passage, permit me to add the following :
“ But various Iris Jove's commands to bear, Speeds on the wings of winds through liquid air.”
Pope's Iliad, B. 2.
“ Miguel cruzando os pelagos do vento.”
Carlos Reduzido, Canto I. by Pedro de Azevedo Tojal, an ancient Portuguese poet of some merit.
REMARKS ON THE ENGLISH POETS.
THE poems of Thomas Warton are replete with a sublimity, and richness of imagery, which seldom fail to enchant: every line presents new beauties of idea, aided by all the magic of animated diction. From the inexhaustible stores of figurative language, majesty, and sublimity, which the ancient English poets afford, he has culled some of the richest and the sweetest flowers. But, unfortunately, in thus making use of the beauties of other writers, he has been too unsparing; for the greater number of his ideas, and nervous epithets, cannot, strictly speaking, be called his own; therefore, however we may be charmed by the grandeur of his images, or, the felicity of his expression, we must still bear in our recollection, that we cannot with justice bestow upon him the highest eulogium of genius—that of originality.
It has, with much justice, been observed, that Pope, and his imitators, have introduced a species of refinement into our language, which has banished that nerve and pathos, for which Milton had rendered it eminent. Harmonious modulations, and unvarying exactness of measure, totally precluding sublimity and fire, have reduced our fashionable poetry to mere sing-song. But