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If there be here any merit, it arises solely from preserving the expressions of the prose version. And the translator would have done better had he preserved more, and had given us no feeble or foreign enlargements of his own. He has shewn no independent skill or energy. When once he attempts to add or dilate, his weakness appears. It is this circumstance alone, which supports the two following well-known stanzas".
the church of England. It is certain, had they been more poetically translated, they would not have been acceptable to the common people. Yet however they may be allowed to serve the purposes of private edification, in administering spiritual consolation to the manufacturer and mechanic, as they are extrinsic to the frame of our liturgy, and incompatible with the genius of our service, there is perhaps no impropriety in wishing, that they were remitted and restrained to that church in which they sprung, and with whose character and constitution they seem so aptly to correspond. Whatever estimation in point of composition they might have attracted at their first appearance in a ruder age, and however instrumental they might have been at the infancy of the reformation in weaning the minds of men from the papistic ritual, all these confiderations can now no longer support even a specious argument for their being retained. From the circum
stances of the times, and the growing refinements of literature,
of course they become obsolete and contemptible. A work grave, serious, and even respectable for its poetry, in the reign of Edward the fixth, at length in a cultivated age, has contracted the air of an absolute travestie. Voltaire observes, that in proportion as good taste improved, the psalms of Clement Marot inspired only disgust: and that although they charmed the court of Francis the first, they seemed only to be calculated for the populace in the reign of Lewis the fourteenth ". To obviate these objećtions, attempts have been made from time to time to modernise this antient metrical version, and to render it more tolerable and intelligible by the substitution of more familiar modes of dićtion. But, to say nothing of the unskilfulness with which these arbitrary correótions have been conducted, by changing obsolete for known words, the texture and integrity of the original style, such as it was, has been destroyed : and many stanzas, before too naked and weak, like a
• Hist. Mop. ch. ccvii.
Z 2 plain
plain old Gothic edifice stripped of its few signatures of antiquity, have lost that little and almost only strength and support which they derived from antient phrases. Such alterations, even if executed with prudence and judgment, only corrupt what they endeavour to explain ; and exhibit a motley performance, belonging to no character of writing, and which contains more improprieties than those which it professes to remove. Hearne is highly offended at these unwarrantable and incongruous emendations, which he pronounces to be abominable in any book, “much more in a sacred work;” and is confident, that were Sternhold and Hopkins “now living, they would be so far from “ owning what is ascribed to them, that they would proceed “ against the innovators as che ATs".” It is certain, that this translation in its genuine and unsophisticated state, by ascertaining the signification of many radical words now perhaps undeservedly disused, and by displaying original modes of the English language, may justly be deemed no inconsiderable monument of our antient literature, if not of our antient poetry. In condemning the pračtice of adulterating this primitive version, I would not be understood to recommend another in its place, entirely new. I reprobate any version at all, more especially if intended for the use of the church. In the mean time, not to infist any longer on the incompatibility of these metrical psalms with the spirit of our liturgy, and the barbarism of their style, it should be remembered, that they were never admitted into our church by lawful authority. They were first introduced by the puritans, and afterwards continued by connivance. But they never received any royal approbation or parliamentary sanétion, notwithstanding it is said in their title page, that they are “set forth and Al Low ED to be “sung in all churches of all the people together before and “ after evening prayer, and also before and after sermons: and “moreover in private houses for their godly solace and comfort, “laying apart all ungodly songs and ballads, which tend only “ to the nourishing of vice and the corrupting of youth.” At the beginning of the reign of queen Elisabeth, when our ecclesiastical reformation began to be placed on a solid and durable establishment, those English divines who had fled from the superstitions of queen Mary to Franckfort and Geneva, where they had learned to embrace the opposite extreme, and where, from an abhorrence of catholic ceremonies, they had contraćted
* Gloss. Rob. Gl. p. 699. “ laying the choral formalities should still be continued in the celebration.
a dislike to the decent appendages of divine worship, endea
voured, in conjunction with some of the principal courtiers, to effect an abrogation of our solemn church service, which they pronounced to be antichristian and unevangelical. They contended that the metrical psalms of David, set to plain and popular music, were more suitable to the fimplicity of the gospel, and abundantly adequate to all the purposes of edification : and this proposal they rested on the authority and practice of Calvin, between whom and the church of England the breach was not then so wide as at present. But the queen and those bishops to whom she had delegated the business of supervifing the liturgy, among which was the learned and liberal archbishop Parker, obječted, that too much attention had already been paid to the German theology. She declared, that the foreign reformers had before interposed, on fimilar deliberations, with unbecoming forwardness: and that the Common Prayer of her brother Edward had been once altered, to quiet the scruples, and to gratify the cavils, of Calvin, Bucer, and Fagius. She was therefore invariably determined to make no more concessions to the importunate partisans of Geneva, and peremptorily decreed that
of the sacred offices'.
* See Canons and Injunctions, A. D. 1559. Num, xlix.
S E C T.
S E. C. T. XXVIII.
HE spirit of versifying the psalms, and other parts of the Bible, at the beginning of the reformation, was almost as epidemic as psalm-finging. William Hunnis, a gentleman of the chapel under Edward the fixth, and afterwards chapel-master to queen Elisabeth, rendered into rhyme many select psalms, which had not the good fortune to be rescued from oblivion by being incorporated into Hopkins's colle&tion, nor to be sung in the royal chapel. They were printed in 1550, with this title, “ Certayne Psalmes chosen out of the Psalter of David, and “ drawen furth into Englysh meter by William Hunnis servant “ to the ryght honourable syr William Harberd knight. Newly “ colleóted and imprinted".” I know not if among these are his Seve N Sobs of a sorrowful soul for sin, comprehending the seven PEN IT ENTIAL PsALMs in metre. They are dedicated to Frances countess of Sussex, whose attachment to the gospel he much extols, and who was afterwards, the foundress of Sydney college in Cambridge. Hunnis also, under the happy title of a HANDF UL of Hon EYsuckles, published Blosings out of Deuteronomie, Prayers to Christ, Athanasius's Creed, and Meditations, in metre with mufical notes. But his spiritual nosegays are numerous. To say nothing of his RE cr EAT Ions on Adam's banishment, Christ Ais Cribb, and the Lost Sheep, he translated into English rhyme the whole book of GENESIs, which he calls a HIvE FULL of HoNEY”. But his honey-suckles and his honey are now no longer delicious. He was a large contributor to the PARA dise