תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

metaphors are too bold to please the weaker christian, therefore I have allotted them a place here.

Amongst the songs that are dedicated to divine love, I think I may be bold to assert, that I never composed one line of them with any other design than what they are applied to here; and I have endeavoured to secure them all from being perverted and debased to wanton passions, by several lines in them that can never be applied to a meaner love. Are not the noblest instances of the grace of Christ represented under the figure of a conjugal state, and described in one of the sweetest odes, and the softest pastoral that ever was written? I appeal to Solomon*, in his song, and his father David, in Ps. xlv. if David was the author : And I am well assured, that I have never indulged an equal licence: It was dangerous to imitate the sacred writers tov nearly, in so nice an affair.

The Poems sacred to virtue, &c. were formed when the frame and humour of my soul was just suited to the subject of my verse: The image of my heart is painted in thein; and if they meet with a reader whose soul is a-kin to mine, perbaps they may agreeably entertain bim. The dulness of the fancy, and coarseness of expression, will disappear; the sameness of the humour will create a pleasure, and insensibly overcome and conceal the defects of the muse. Young gentlemen and ladies, whose genjus and education have given them a relish for oratory and verse, may be tempted to seek satisfaction among the dangerous diversions of the stage, and impare sonnets, if there be no provision of a safer kind made to please them. While I have attempted to gratify innocent fancy in this respect, I have not forgotten to allure the heart to virtue, and to raise it to a disdain of brutal pleasures. The frequent interposition of a devout thought may awaken the mind to a serious sense of God, religion, and eternity. The same duty that might be despised in a sermon, when proposed to their reason, may here, perhaps, seize the lower faculties with surprise, delight, and devotion at once ; and thus, by degrees, draw the superior powers of the mind to piety. Amongst the infinite numbers of mankind, there is not more difference in their outward shape and features, than in their temper and iuward inclination. Some are more easily susceptive of religion in a grave discourse and sedate reasoning. Soine are best frighted from sin and ruin by terror, threatening and amazement; their fear is the properest passion to which we can address ourselves, and begin the divine work: Others can feel no motive so powerful as that which applies itself to their ingenuity, and their polished imagination. Now I thought it lawful to take hold of any handle of the soul, to lead it away betimes from vicious pleasures; and if I could but make up a composition of virtue and delight, suited to the taste of well-bred youth, and a refined education, I had some hope to allure and raise them thereby above the vile temptations of degenerate nature, and custom, that is yet more degenerate. When I have felt a slight inclination to satire or burlesque, I thought it proper to suppress it. The grinning and the growling muse are not hard to be obtained; but I would disdain their assistance, where a manly invitation to virtue, and a friendly smile may be successfully employed. Could I persuade any man by a kinder method, I should never think it proper to scold or laugh at him.

Perhaps there are some morose readers, that stand ready to condemn every line that is written upon the theme of love; but have we not the cares and the felicities of that sort of social life represented to us in the sacred writings? Some expressions are there used with a design to give a mortifying influence to our softest affections; others again brighten the character of that state, and allure virtuous souls to pursue the divine advantage of it, the mutual assistance in the way to salvation. Are not the cxxviith and cxxviiith psalms indited on this very subject? Shall it be lawful for the press and the pulpit to treat of it with a becoming solemnity in prose, and must the mention of the same thing in poesy be pronounced for ever unlawful? Is it utterly unworthy of a serious character to write on this argument, because it has been unhappily polluted by some rilous pens? Why may I not be permitted to obviale a common and a growing mischief while a thousand vile poems of the amorous kind swarın abroad, and give

scur

* Solomon's song was much more in use amongst preachers and writers of divinity, when these poems were written than it is now.

P

1736.

VOL. IX.

[ocr errors]

a vicious taint to the unwary reader? I would tell the world that I have endervoured so recover this argument out of the hands of impure writers, and to make it appear, that virtue and love are not such strangers as they are represented. This blissful intimacy of souls in that state will afford sufficient furniture for the graves t entertainment in verse ; so that it need not be everlastingly dressed up in ridicule nor assumed only to furnish out the lewd sonnets of the times. May some happie genius promote the same service that I proposed, and by superior sense, and sweeter sound, render what I have written contemptible and useless.

The imitations of that noblest Latin poet of modern ages, Casimire Sarbiewski of Poland would need no excuse, did they but arise to the beauty of the original. I have often taken the freedom to add ten or twenty lines, or to leave out as many,

hat I might suit my song more to my own design, or because I saw it impossible to present the force, the fineness, and the fire of his expression in our language. There are a few copies wherein I borrowed some hints from the same author, without the mention of his name in the title. Methinks I can allow so superior a genius now and then to be lavish in his imagination, and to indulge some excursions beyond the limits of sedate judgment: The riches and glory of his verse make atonement in abundance. I wish some English pen would import more of his trea. sures, and bless our nation.

The inscriptions to particular friends, are warranted and defended by the practice of almost all the Lyric writers. They frequently convey the rigid rules of morality to the mind in the softer method of applause. Sustaived by their example, a man will not easily be overwhelmed by the heaviest censures of the unthinking and unknowing ; especially when there is a shadow of this practice in the divine Psalmist, while he inscribes to Asaph or Jeduthun his songs that were made for the harp, or, which is all one, his Lyric odes, though they are addressed to God himself.

In the poems of heroic measure, I have attempted in rhyme the same variety of cadence, comma, and period, which blank verse glories in as its peculiar elegance and ornament. It degrades the excellency of the best versification when the lines run on by couplets, twenty together, just in the same pace, and with the same pauses. It spoils the noblest pleasure of the sound: The reader is tired with the tedious uniformity, ur charmed to sleep with the unmanly softness of the numbers, and the perpetual chime of even cadences.

In the Essays without rhyme, I have not set up Milton for a perfect pattern; though he shall be for ever honoured as our deliverer from the bondage. His works contain admirable and unequalled instances of bright and beautiful diction, as well as majesty and sereneness of thought. There are several episodes in his longer works, that stand in supreme dignity without a rival ; yet all that vast reverence with which I read his Paradise Lost, cannot persuade me to be charmed with every page of it. The length of his periods, and sometimes of his parenthesis, runs me out of breath: Some of his numbers seem too harsh and uneasy. I could never believe that roughness and obscurity added any thing to the true grandeur of a poem: Nor will I ever affect archaisms, exoticisms, and a quaint uncouthness of speech, in order to become perfectly Miltonian. It is my opinion that blank verse may be written with all due elevation of thought in a modern style, without borrowing any thing from Chaucer's tales, or running back so far as the days of Colin the shepherd, and the reign of the Fairy Queen. The oddness of an antique sound gives but a false pleasure to the ear, and abuses the true relish, eren when it works delight. There were some such judges of poesy among the old Romans, and Martial ingeniously laughs at one of them, that was pleased even to astonishment with obsolete words and figures.

ce Attonitusque legis terrai frugiferai." So the ill-drawn postures and distortions of shape that we meet with in Chinese pictures, charm a sickly fancy by their very awkwardness ; so a distempered appetite will chew coals and sand, and pronounce it gustful.

In the Pindarics I have generally conformed my lines to the shorter size of the ancients, and avoided to itnitate the excessive lengths to which some modern writers bave stretched their septences, and especially the concluding verse. lo these

the ear is the truest judge; nor was it made to be enslaved to any precise model of elder or later times.

After all, I must petition my reader to lay aside the sour and sullen air of criticism, and to assume the friend. Let him choose such copies to read at particular hours, when the temper of his mind is suited to the song. Let him come with a desire to be entertained and pleased, rather than to seek his own disgust and aversion, which will not be hard to find. I am not so vain as to think there are no faults, nor so blind as to espy none: Though I hope the multitude of alterations in this second edition are not without amendment. There is so large a difference between this and the former, in the change of titles, lines, and whole poems, as Fell as in the various transpositions, that it would be useless and endless, and all confusion, for any reader to compare them throughoat. The additions also make up alınost half the book, and some of these have need of as many alterations as the former. Many a line needs the file to polish the roughness of it, and many a thought wants richer language to adorn and make it shine. Wide defects and equal superfluities may be found, especially in the larger pieces; but I have at present neither inclination nor leisure to correct, and I hope I never shall. It is one of the biggest satisfactions I take in giving this volume to the world, that I expect to be for ever free from the temptation of making or mending poems again.* So that my friends may be perfectly secure against this impression's growing waste upon their hands, and useless as the former has done. Let minds that are better furnished for such performances pursue these studies, if they are convinced that poesy can be made serviceable to religion and virtue. As for myself, I almost blush to think that I have read so little, and written so much. The following years of my life shall be more entirely devoted to the immediate and direct labours of my station, excepting those hours that may be employed in finishing my imitation of the Psalms of David in christian language, which I have now promised the world.t

I cannot court the world to purchase this book for their pleasure or entertain. ment, by telling them that any one copy entirely pleases me. The best of them sinks below the idea which I form of a divine or moral ode. He that deals in the mysteries of heaven, or of the muses, should be a genius of no vulgar mould : And as the name Vates belongs to both; so the furniture of both is comprised in that line of Horace.

Cui mens divinior, atque os

“ Magna sonaturum." But what Juvenal spake in his age, abides true in ours: A complete poet or * prophet is such a one,

“Qualem nequeo monstrare, et sentio tantum.” Perhaps neither of these characters in perfection shall ever be seen on earth, till the seventh angel has sounded his awful trumpet, till the victory be complete over the beast and his image, when the natives of heaven shall join in consort with prophets and saints, and sing to their golden harps, “ Salvation, honour and glory to him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever."

* “ Naturam expellas furca licet, usque recurret.” HoR. Will this short noto of Horace excuse a man who has resisted nature many years, but has been sometimes overcome? 1736. Edition the 7th. + In the year 1719 Liese were finished and printed.

May 14, 1709.

DR. WATTS's POEMS

SACRED TO PIETY AND DEVOTION.

" REGARD the man, who, in seraphic 1,7 Far as the distant regions, where lays,

(praise: The beauteous morning springs, And flowing numbers, sing his Maker's And scatters odours through the air, He need invoke no fabled muse's art, From her resplendent wing ; The heav'nly song comes genuine from

8 Unto the new-found realms, which see his heart,

The latter sun arise, From that pure heart, which God has

When, with an easy progress, he deign'd t inspire

Rolls down the nether skies.”
With holy raptures, and a sacred fire,
Thrice happy man? whose soul, and July, 1706.

PHILOMELA. guiltless breast,

[guest! Are well prepar'd to lodge th' almighty 'Tis he that lends thy tow'ring thoughts

TO DR. WATTS, their wing,

(to sing : And tunes thy lyre, when thou attempt'st

On reading his Hore Lyrice. He to lhy soul lets in celestial day,

“HAIL, heav'n-born muse! that with Ev'nwhilst imprison'd in this mortalclay.

celestial flame, By death's grim aspect thou art not

And high seraphic numbers,durstattempt alarm’d,

(arm’d;

To gain thy native skies. No common He, for thy sake, has death itself dis. theme

(soul Nor shall the grave o'er thee a vict'ry | Merits thy thought, self-conscious of a boast ;

Supcrior, though on earth detain'dawhile; Her triumph in thy rising shall be lost, Let soine propitious angel, that's de. When thou shalt join th' angelic choirs

sign'd above,

A resident in this inferior orb, In never-ending songs of praise and love. To guide the wand’ring souls to heavenly

EUSERIA.

bliss, Thou seem'st; while thou their ever

lasting songs

Hast sung to mortal ears, and down to TO DR. WATTS,

earth On his Poems Sacred to Devotion.

Transferr'd the work of heaven: with thought sublime,

(sing'st {"TO murmuring streams, in tender | And high sonorous words, thou sweetly strains,

Tothy immortal lyre. Amaz'd, we view My pensive muse no more

The tow'ring height stupendous, while Of love's enchanting force complains,

thou soar'st

(thought Along the flow'ry shore.

Above the reach of vulgar eyes or

Hymning th' eternal Father; as of old 2 No more Mirtillo's fatal face

When first the Almighty from the dark My quiet breast alarms;

abyss His eyes, his air, and youthful grace,

Of everlasting night and silence calld Have lost their usual charins.

The shiningworlds withone creatingword, * No gay Alexis in the grove

And rais'd from nothing all the heavenly Shall be my future theme:

hosts, I burn with an immortal love,

And with external glories fill'd the void; And sing a purer flaine.

Harmonious seraphs tun'd their golden

harps, 4 Seraphic heights I seem to gain, Andwith their cheerful Hallelujahsbless'd And sacred transports feel,

The bounteous Author of their happiness; While, WATTS, to thy celestial strain, Froin orb to orb th'alternate music rang, Surpris'd I listen still.

And from the crystal arches of the sky 5 The gliding streams their course for- | Reach'd our then glorious world, the na.

tive seat bear,

(songs When I thy lays repeat;

Of the first happy pair, who joind their The bending forest lends an ear;

To the loud echoes of the angelic choirs, The birds their notes forget.

And fill'd with blissful hymns, terrestial

heaven, . With such a graceful harmony The paradise of God where all delights Thy numbers still prolong;

Abounded, and the pure ambrosial air, And let remotest lands reply,

Fann’d by mild zephyrs, breath'd eternal And echo to thy song ;

sweets,

Forbidding death and sorrow, and Others, for the sublimest wisdom scorn'd; bestow'd

(youth. When pointed lightnings from the wrathPresh heavenly bloom, and gay immortal ful Judge

Shall singe your laurels, and the men Not so, alas! the vile apostate race, who thought they flew so high, shall fall Who in mad joys their brutal hours

so low. employ'd

(phemies No more, my muse of that tremenda' Assaulting with their impious blas- ous thought, The pow'r supreme that gave 'em life Resume thy more delightful theme, and and breath;

sing

[verse Incarnate fiends! outrageous they defy'd | Th' immortal man, that with immortal Th' eternal thunder, and almighty wrath Rivals the hymns of angels, and like Fearlessprovok'd,whichalithe otherdevils Despises moral critics idle rules : (them Would 'dread to meet ; remember well While the celestial flame that warms thy the day (above, soul

(moves When driven from pure immortal seats Inspires us, and with holy transports A fi'rytempest borld 'em down the skies, Our labouring minds, and nobler scenes And hung upon the rear, urging their fall

presents To the dark, deep, unfathomable golph, Than all the Pagan poets erer sung. Where bound on sulph'rous lakes to Homer or Virgil'; and far sweeter notes growing rocks

(woes, Than Horace ever taught his sounding With adamantine chains, they wail their lyre,

[scem And know Jehovah great as well as good; And purer far, thro' Martial's self might and lix'd for ever by eternal fate, A modest poet in our christian days. With horror find his arm omnipotent. May those forgotten and neglected lie, Prodigious madness! that the sacred No more let man be fond of fab’lous gods, muse,

(tal heights,

Nor heathenwitdebauchonechristian line; First taught in hear'n to mount immor: While with the course and daubing paint And trace the boundless glories of thesky, The shining beauties of eternal truth, Should now to ev'ry idol basely bow, And curse the deity she once ador'd,

That in her native dress appears most Erecting trophies to each sordid vice,

bright,

(like thee And celebrating the infernal praise

And charms the eyes of angels,--Oh! Of haughty Lucifer, the desp'rate foe

Let every nobler genius tune his voice Of God and man,and winning ev'ry hour To subjects worthy of their tow'ring New votaries to hell, while all the fiends thoughts.

(ful art Hear these accursed lays, and thus out

Let HEAVEN and Anna then your tunedone,

[race, | Improve, and consecrate your deathless Raging they try to match the human lays Redoubling all their hellish blasphemies, To him who reigns above, and her who And with loud curses rend the gloomy

rules below. vault.

April, 17, 1706.

Joseph STANDEN. Ungrateful mortals ! ah! too late you'll find

[hell ;

TO DR. WATTS, What 'tis to banter heav'n and laugh at

On his Divine Poems. To dress up vice in false delusive charms, And with gay colours paint her hideous “SAY, human seraphs whence that face,

(paths, charining force, Leading besotted souls thro' How'ry That flame! that soul! which animates In gaudy dreams, and vain fantastic joy's each line ; To dismal scenes of everlasting woe:

And how it runs with such a graceful ease, When the great Judge shall rear his Loaded with pond'rous sense ! Say, did awful throne, [ling globe, not he

[breast, And raging flames surround the tremb- The lovely Jesas, who commands thy While the loud thunders roar from pole Inspire thee with' binnself? With Jesus to pole,

[dead; dwells, And the last trump awakes the sleeping Knit in mysterious bands, the paraclete, And guilty souls to ghastly bodies driven, The breath of God, the everlasting source Within those dire eternal prisons shut, Of love: And what is love in souls like Expect their sad inexorable doom.

thine, Say now, ye men of wit! What turn of But air, and incense to the poet's fire ; thought

Should an expiring saint whose swimming Will please you then! Alas, how dull eyes

Mingle the images of things about him, Ev'n to yourselves will your lewd flights But hear the least exalted of thy strains, appear!

How greedily he'd drink the music in, How will you envy then the happy fate Thinking his heav'nly convoy wait'dnear! Of idiots! and perhaps in vain you'llwish, | So great a stress of powerful harmony, You'd been as very fools as once you Nature unable longer to sustain [rest. thought

! Would sink oppress'd with joy to endless

and poor,

« הקודםהמשך »