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Deity! They bandy about the Bible as if it were an album. They forget that the poorest sinner has a soul to be saved, as well as a set of verses to be damned; they look forward to the first of the month with more fear and trembling than to the last day; and beseech a critic to be merciful upon them with far more earnestness than they ever beseeched their Maker. They pray through the press—vainly striving to give some publicity to what must be private for evermore; and are seen wiping away, at tea-parties, the tears of contrition and repentance for capital crimes perpetrated but on paper, and perpetrated thereon so paltrily, that so far from being worthy of hell fire, such delinquents, it is felt, would be more suitably punished by being singed like plucked fowls with their own unsaleable sheets. They are frequently so singed ; yet singeing has not the effect upon them for which singeing is designed; and like chickens in a shower, that have got the pip, they keep still gasping and shooting out their tongues, and walking on tip-toe with their tails down, till finally they go to roost in some obscure corner, and are no more seen among bipeds.
Among those, however, who have been unfortunately beguiled by the spirit of imitation and sympathy into religious poetry, one or two--who, for the present, must be nameless—have shown feeling; and would they but obey their feeling, and preser walking on the ground with their own free feet, to attempting to fly in the air with borrowed and bound wings, they might produce something really poetical, and acquire a creditable reputation. But they are too aspiring; and have taken into their hands the sacred lyre without due preparation. He who is so familiar with his Bible, that each chapter, open it where he will, teems with household words, may draw thence the theme of many a pleasant and pathetic song. For is not all human nature, and all human life, shadowed forth in those pages ? But the soul, to sing well from the Bible, must be imbued with religious feelings, as a flower is alternately with dew and sunshine. The study of THE BOOK must have begun in the simplicity of childhood, when it was felt, indeed, to be divine and carried on through all those silent intervals in which the soul of manhood is restored, during the din of life, to the purity and peace of its early being. The Bible must be to such a poet even as the skies-with its sun, moon, and starsits boundless blue, with all its cloud-mysteries--its peace deeper than the grave, because of realms beyond the grave-its tumult louder than that of life, because heard all together in all the elements. He who begins the study of the Bible late in life, must, indeed, devote himself to it -night and day—and with a humble, and a contrite heart, as well as an awakened and soaring spirit, ere he can hope to feel what he understands, or to understand what he feels,—thoughts and feelings breathing in upon him, like spiritual scents and sounds, as if from a region hanging, in its mystery, between heaven and earth. Nor do we think that he will venture on the composition of poetry drawn from such a source. The very thought of doing so, were it to occur to his mind, would seem irreverent; it would convince him that he was still the slave of vanity, and pride, and the world.
They alone, therefore, to whom God has given genius as well as faith, zeal and benevolence;-will, of their own accord, fix their Pindus either on Lebanon or Cal. vary--and of these but few. The genius must be high the faith sure—and human love must coalesce with divine, that the strain may have power to reach the spirits of men, immersed as they are in matter, and with all their apprehensions and conceptions blended with material imagery, and the things of this moving earth and this restless life.
So gifted and so endowed, a great or good poet, having chosen his subject well within religion, is on the sure road to immortal fame. His work, when done, must secure sympathy for ever ; a sympathy not dependent on creeds, but out of which creeds spring, all of them manifestly moulded by imaginative affections of religion. Christian poetry will outlive every other ; for the time will come when Christian poetry will be deeper and higher far than any that has ever yet been known among men. Indeed, the sovereign songs hitherto have been either religious or superstitious; and as “the day-spring from on high that has visited us,” spreads wider and wider over the earth, « the soul of the world, dreaming of things to come,” shall assuredly see more glorified visions than have yet been submitted to her ken. That poetry has so seldom satisfied the utmost longings and aspirations of human nature, can only have been because poetry has so seldom dealt in its power with the only mysteries worth knowing —the greater mysteries of religion, into which the soul of a Christian is initiated only through faith, an angel sent from heaven to spirits struggling by supplications and sacrifices to escape from sin and death.
(Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1837.)
It is remarked by Mr. Dyce, in the preface to his Spe'cimen of British Poetesses (1827,) that of the selections which have been made from the chaos of our past poetry, the majority has been confined almost entirely to the writings of men ; and from the great collections of the English poets, where so many worthless compositions find a place, that the productions of women have been carefully excluded. It is true, he admits, that the grander inspirations of the Muse have not been often breathed into the soster frame. The magic tones which have added a new existence to the heart—the tremendous thoughts which have impressed a successive stamp on the fluctuation of ages, and which have almost changed the character of nations—these have not proceeded from woman ; but her sensibility, her tenderness, her grace, have not been lost nor misemployed : her genius has gradually risen with the opportunities which facilitated its ascent. To exhibit the growth and progress of the genius of our country. women in the department of poetry was the object of his most interesting volume; and he expresses an honest satisfaction in the reflection that his tedious chase through the jungles of forgotten literature--for by far the greater number of female effusions lie concealed in obscure publica. tions—must procure to his undertaking the good will of the sex. For though, in the course of centuries, new an. thologies will be found, more interesting and more exqui. site, because the human mind, and, above all, the female mind, is making a rapid advance, yet his work will never be deprived of the happy distinction of being one of the
* The Birthday, a Poem, by Caroline Bowles, now Mrs. Southey,
first that has been entirely consecrated to women. The specimens begin with Juliana Berners, and end with Letitia Landon.
We are not going to give an account of this selection, but having taken it down from Shelf Myra in a mistake for Caroline Bowles's “ Birth-day,”—though 'tis bigger by half-we have passed a pleasant hour in turning over the leaves, skipping some, glancing at others, perusing a sew, and sing-songing two or three by heart, forgetful how, where, or when we had committed them to memory, yet feeling they were old friends, and worthy of being wel. comed the moment we saw their faces. Probably, till we come near our own times, there is but little of what one would call poetry in these specimens. The British poet. esses seem a series of exceedingly sensible maids and matrons-not “ with eyes in a fine frenzy rolling”-nor with hair dishevelled by the tossings of inspiration, but of calm countenances and sedate demeanour, not very distinguishable from those we love to look on by " parlour twi. light” in any happy household we are in the habit of dropping in upon of an evening a familiar guest.
Poetry, or not poetry, such verses are to us often very delightful; and there are many moods of mind in which good people prefer Pomfret to Pindar
Why should we always be desiring fancy, imagination, passion, intellect, power, in poetry, as if these were essential to it, and none were poets but those gifted with the vision and the faculty divine ?" Surely the pure expression of pure thoughts and feelings—the staple of common lise-if imbued with a certain sweetness of soulfelt sound beyond that of ordinary speech-coloured, if that image please you better, with a somewhat greener light than is usual to our eyes--is poetry. Surely they who are moved so to commune with their own hearts, or with the hearts of them they love-since forms and hues of sentiment are thus produced that else had not been—are poets. There is genius in goodness; and gratitude beautifies the blessings bestowed by heaven on the pure of heart.
There is Katherine Philips-born 1631, died 1664known as a poetess by the name of Orinda. She was the daughter of John Fowler, a London merchant, and married James Philips of the Priory, Cardigan. - Her devo