Lame as I am, I take the prey;
Hell, earth, and sin, with ease o’ercome;
I leap for joy, pursue my way,
And as a bounding hart fly home;
Through all eternity to prove
Thy nature and thy name is Love.
It seems to me that the art with which his very difficult end in the management of the allegory is reached, is admirable. I have omitted three stanzas.
I cannot give much from William Cowper. His poems—graceful always, and often devout even when playful—have few amongst them that are expressly religious, while the best of his hymns are known to every reader of such. Born in 1731, he was greatly influenced by the narrow theology that prevailed in his circle; and most of his hymns are marred by the exclusiveness which belonged to the system and not to the man. There is little of it in the following:—
Far from the world, O Lord, I flee,
From strife and tumult far;
From scenes where Satan wages still
His most successful war.
The calm retreat, the silent shade,
With prayer and praise agree,
And seem by thy sweet bounty made
For those who follow thee.
There if thy spirit touch the soul,
And grace her mean abode,
Oh with what peace, and joy, and love,
She communes with her God!
There, like the nightingale, she pours
Her solitary lays,
Nor asks a witness of her song,
Nor thirsts for human praise.
Author and guardian of my life,
Sweet source of light divine,
And—all harmonious names in one—
My Saviour, thou art mine!
What thanks I owe thee, and what love—
A boundless, endless store—
Shall echo through the realms above
When time shall be no more.
Sad as was Cowper’s history, with the vapours of a low insanity, if not always filling his garden, yet ever brooding on the hill-tops of his horizon, he was, through his faith in God, however darkened by the introversions of a neat, poverty-stricken theology, yet able to lead his life to the end. It is delightful to discover that, when science, which is the anatomy of nature, had poisoned the theology of the country, in creating a demand for clean-cut theory in infinite affairs, the loveliness and truth of the countenance of living nature could calm the mind which this theology had irritated to the very borders of madness, and give a peace and hope which the man was altogether right in attributing to the Spirit of God. How many have been thus comforted, who knew not, like Wordsworth, the immediate channel of their comfort; or even, with Cowper, recognized its source! God gives while men sleep.
THE NEW VISION.