Page images
PDF
EPUB

of this deeper apprehension be a growth of faith, or my own nearer approach to the better country? Objects, as we draw closer to them, assume a clearer outline, and present to the eye enlarged dimensions. Beyond the narrow stream there now stands, in majesty, Jerusalem the golden. It seems so near, that it might be reached by me in a moment. The glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. Happy are they, who have passed within its gates! Blessed are they, who are called unto the marriage-supper of the Lamb! They are near to Him now; for they lie in His bosom. They see Him as He is; and, as they admiringly look, they are made like unto Him. They behold His glory; and that glory is reflected on them, for ever

more.

Strange and sad it appears, to return to earth's tumult and toils—sharing again in Life's common employments, after such vivid contemplation of "things not seen as yet.”

CHAPTER XI.

VERNAL MUSINGS.

“ 'Twas my Beloved spake :
I know His charming voice ; I heard Him say,
Rise up my love, my fairest one; awake,

Awake and come away.

“ The winter all is past,
And stormy winds that with such rudeness blew,
The heavens are no longer overcast,

But try to look like you.

“ The flowers their sweets display,
The birds in short preludiums tune their throat ;
The turtle in low murmurs doth essay

Her melancholy note.

“ The fruitful vineyards make
An odorous smell, the fig looks fresh and gay :
Arise, my love, my fairest one ; awake,
Awake and come away.'

John Norris. 1679.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

cess.

FFORTS innumerable have been made to

versify portions of Holy Scripture, but they

have been attended with a very limited suc

Sir Philip Sidney in other days, and in our own James Montgomery, were in great part happy in their rendering of the Psalms. We should, perhaps, hold them to be exceptions to the accustomed failures;

it can

[ocr errors]

yet be only as exceptions, proving the general rule. The essays of other translators are insufferably tame and spiritless. The trammels of rhythm seem always too mighty for them; while the constant recurrence of our English rhymes leads them full often into childish sing-song. The sublimity of the original is, in truth, unapproachable. It is wiser far to take the text as it stands, noting in the writings of the Hebrew Bards the symmetrical structure of their parallelisms, and in the majestic prose of the historians the unaffected language of men,“ speaking that

. they did know, and testifying that they had seen.” While thus I meditate, I am not insensible to the claims of the little lyric, which I have prefixed to this paper. Its grace and beauty have long made it a favourite with me in thoughtful hours; and the good old rector of Bemerton appears to me to have gone as near to success as is possible, when clothing in English verse an exquisite passage in the Book of Canticles. But of the original, in “the Song of songs, which

, is Solomon's," who can fitly speak? Were this description of the Spring-tide found in an uninspired writer, it would win our praise. Shall it obtain from us less of admiration, because it occurs among the words of the living God? Its imagery is felicitous. The language employed is striking. We are reminded of desolation that is “past," and of joy that is "come.” We are not to look upon Earth in widowhood,

" but arrayed as a bride in her loveliness. Flowers strew her path. Nature's winged choristers trill their happy notes. The fig-tree and the vines send out their fragrance. Life, beauty, and fruitfulness are spread around; and every heart should beat in unison with their glad acclaim.

[blocks in formation]

To us, residents of the country, Winter's advent and withdrawal are things of no trivial inportance. Citizens enjoy a higher civilization, and may in consequence bid defiance to Boreas' rude blasts. Their comforts are in the zenith, when ours are at zero. We depend for society on homes, often far sundered; and short dark days, with dripping skies, are with us sad impediments to friendly intercourse.

A rainy Sunday is deprecated, as thinning our little congregation. A snowy evening sensibly interferes with the attendance on the cottage lecture.

A flood in our river compels us to make a mile's détour, by covering

а. the stepping-stones. Visits to our rustic friends, over moorland and by lone pathways so pleasant in summer, are rendered difficult or wearisome by the season's change. Our tastes are simpler, and our sources of pleasure fewer. We turn to Nature, that we may hearken to her many voices, and behold her myriad beauties; but our communion with her is interrupted by the frigid presence of Aquarius and Pisces. Changed for us is everything, when the wood-walks are silent, and the glebe, where'er we try it, is ironbound with the frost. 'Tis hard to bid adieu to our little flower-garden, though we turn from it to the more pretentious pleasures of the conservatory. Its simple progeny were the children of our native soil, or had become such as having been naturalized within it; while the exotics of the greenhouse, with their

a

gayer robes, stronger perfumes, and unpronounceable names, are only well-bred foreigners, that we wondering stare at, but never rightly comprehend. Then are there other drawbacks. Snow constantly blocks up the roads, and deprives us for a time of the tributes of the Post-office, with the needful supplies of the market-town. In our persons and dwellings, we are more exposed to the tempest. When duty calls, we go forth, unsheltered by edifices, and lacking the easy locomotive appliances of the town; and, if we remain in-doors, the storm nevertheless will announce to us its presence, by the roaring of the wind in our chimneys, and the dismal creaking of the old forest trees by our side. For reasons like these, and with meaning best understood by ourselves, we, sojourners in the country, always rejoice when “the winter is past,” and “the rain is over and gone."

There are other motives for thankfulness, nobler and more unselfish. We think of brethren in the flesh, less favoured in fortune than ourselves; and we bear in mind that the trials of Poverty are enhanced tenfold by the rigour of the season. For many, the winter is associated with all that is bright and joyous. Absent members of the household return, at least for the Yule-tide. On Christmas-day the family pew is again full; and the Bethlehem hymn is joined in by voices, long unheard in unison. At the happy feast, blithe are the guests of the dinner-table; and cheery at even is the re-union around the blazing hearth. Hospitalities become general. The squire brings with him from town a gay bevy of guests; and, let the storm rage as it list, festivities will go on in the

« PreviousContinue »