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THE RELIGION OF THE POETS. of God ;” of “his love of his neighbor,
his charity, the Samaritan kindness for
the distressed, his good-will to all men." THAT were Moore's religious princi- Hear Lord John continuing, “In the last
pies ?—and what was his religious days of his life, he frequently repeated to life, as exhibited in his poetry? In seek- | his wife, ‘Lean upon God, Bessy ; lean ing an answer, we may safely follow the upon God.' That God was love, was the friendly verdict of Lord John Russell : he summary of his belief; and that a man would be dead to genius, to the beautiful should love his neighbor as himself, seems in poetry, to the exquisitely pathetic in to have been the rule of his life.” sentiment, or the melodious in rhythm, Now, in all this, it would appear that who can for a moment deny to Moore one the poet of Ireland was much in the habit of the highest places among our sons of of keeping the first, and the great comsong. Lord John is not averse to place mandment-love to God; and the second, him side by side, though in a separate which is like unto it—the love of our sphere, with Byron, Burns, and Scott, neighbor as ourselves : and did facts warand we do not dispute the decision. Brill- rant the conclusion, 0, who would not reiant talents, ever-sparkling wit, an affec-joice in the verdict! But do facts wartion to those whom he loved, whether rant the decision? Ah, no. We follow parent, wife, child, or friend, which refused | Thomas Moore from land to land, and see to be damped by adversity, or diminished him through decade after decade of his life. by distance, all signalized Thomas Moore. We see him amid the tropical glories of The man who could write to his mother Bermuda, and the grandeur of some of twice each week during his whole public the noblest scenes in North America. life, as Moore punctiliously did, must | We accompany him to Italy, and the sunny have been possessed of an affection as South—the lands which have “ the fatal deep as it was persistent; and one loves gift of beauty.” We notice how he luxhim for that, far more than for the beauty uriates amid such scenes: how he weeps of his verses, or the exhaustless fertility for very joy at sunset among the Alps; or 01' his genius. His independence also, of stands in awe, as if "the fountains of the which his friendly biographer says that he great deep had been broken up,” before " would not sully its white robe for any Niagara. Everywhere he is captivated object of ambition or of vanity,” com- with mands our homage, especially when we
“ The silence that is in the starry sky, know that he was often pressed by pov
The sleep that is among the lonely hills ;" erty, and had not seldom to purchase by the labors of the brain what was needed and everywhere he pours forth poetry for the wants of the body. That much beautified all over with exquisite versificonceded, however, we fear that we have cation, with deep passion, and with eager nearly exhausted our praise. Throughout patriotism. Lord John Russell may be his life we miss the fear of God; we can- right when he speaks of his “ longings not see the recognition of the great reme- after life and immortality ;" but it does dial system, and the principles which not appear that it was the life and immorspring from it. We trace a generous and tality brought to light in the gospel. a gifted nature through its meanderings And it is just here that faithfulness to on earth toward eternity ; but the ever- the truth of God commands us to enter present One in whom we live, and move, a solemn protest against what passes so and have our being, has not his place in often for devotion, especially among our that heart. Amid all that is beautiful in poets. It is not by the poetry of religion affection, or exquisite in taste, God is an that men are prepared to grapple with the exception, the Redeemer does not appear; | ills, or master the temptations of life: it all proceeds much as if he had never is by the grace and truth which came by alighted on our world to take away sin, Jesus Christ: and wherever that simple and guide men to purity and virtue. truth is ignored, the Christian will lodge
But hear his noble biographer speak of his protest, even though the error be held the poet's “ strong feelings of devotion, by a genius like that which exalted Moore his aspirations, his longings after life and among the sons of fame. immortality, and his submission to the will And we notice that the religion of sen
timent, or poetry, is utterly insufficient to frenzy," and its “longings after life and fortify man for the rude onset which virtue immortality," is a preparative for heavenmust sustain in life. Nay, the most ex- a substitute for that holiness of nature and quisite of our poets, the men whose “feel- of life which the holy God requires, and ings of devotion” were the deepest, or in has made rich provision for imparting to whom “ the poetry of religion” was the presiding power, were alternately the vic- We are aware of the aversion which tims and the dupes of something far worse many feel thus to uncover the sins of the than folly. This was notoriously the case gifted, and we feel it. We are alive to with Burns, with Byron, and many more; the appeal not to drag their frailties from and the poet Moore is no exception to the their dread abode. But truth has stronger general law. His noble biographer at claims than the memory of gifted men. tempts, indeed, to defend his licentious- Against all attempts to vindicate them at ness; but surely a Christian child can the expense of truth, or upon its ruins, understand the strange incongruity be- we must again and again protest; and tween confessed “licentiousness” and when the man who is thus defended could deep “ feelings of devotion.” It may be vindicate his attacks upon religion as true that Horace was very licentious, and Moore did, by quoting Pascal, and saying, that, notwithstanding, he is “the delight 6. There is a wide difference between of our clerical instructors ;" but what has laughing at religion, and laughing at those the heathen Horace to do with a profess- who profane it by their extravagant opining follower, as Moore was, of the holy ions,” we must beware lest that be the Saviour of the lost? Or was it safe in name by which worldly men assail the one breath to confess that some of Moore's true religion of God, the truth which the poems “should never have been written, Saviour taught, which Paul and John and far less printed ;” and in the next taught, the very truth which came from breath to palliate their licentiousness, heaven to guide men to its glory and its their offense against all that is pure and God. holy-by gently “classing them with If we turn to Moore's own views of those of other amatory poets who have purity, we find him saying in his preface allowed their fancy to roam beyond the to “ The Loves of the Angels,” that he limits which morality and decorum would had “ tried allegorically to shadow out prescribe.” A strange concession that, the fall of the soul from its original purity, regarding one whose devotion was the loss of light and happiness which it deep, whose charity to all men was so suffers in the pursuit of the world's perlike the good Samaritan's! Even Moore ishable pleasures, and the punishments himself has confessed to the wildness of both from conscience and divine justice his verses; and we must ask again con- with which impiety, pride, and presumpcerning such “ melodious advocates of tuous inquiry into the awful secrets of lust," in the name and for the honor of heaven are sure to be visited.” And true devotion, can it coexist with a licen- since Moore has told us so, we must betiousness which modesty dare not quote, lieve that he meant what he said. But a wildness which even self-love cannot has he done what he attempted ? Nay, disguise ? To argue on that supposition does not the very poetry to which these is to do all that man can to degrade devo- words form a preface, rank among the tion ; it is to mingle the heavenly and the most impure and seductive in our tongue ? human, the pure and the polluted; it is Have not the licentious quoted them, and to insnare the ignorant and efface the felt their licentiousness increased ? Has eternal distinction which God has appoint- not the libertine gloated over them, and ed between the religion which comes from deemed his libertinism excused ? Such heaven, and the religion which originates productions, indeed, emanating from one in the heart of man. Another poet has who is eulogized for his devotional feelsaid that “the man, woman, or child, who ings, and his longings after life and imis not delighted with the songs of Burns, mortality, are only a fascinating way of be their virtues what they may, must scattering firebrands, arrows, and death. never hope to be in heaven;" and it is not It is Satan in the garb of an angel of light; an uncommon sentiment, we fear, that the meretricious, the polluting, and the the poetic temperament, with its “fine gross, vailed with the flimsy covering of
exquisite versification, or adorned with the solid hope. It is fed after all upon flowbrilliants of fancy.
ers, not upon truth; it is regaled with But this man, the summary of whose poetry, not with the good tidings of great creed is said to have been “God is love," joy; and the question, “ How shall man and the rule of whose life was good-will be just before his God ?" or, “Who shall to all, has enabled us to judge by another bring a clean thing out of an unclean ?" test besides his poetry. He once fought disposes forever of all the beauties a duel ; and there are incidents connected which so brilliantly sparkle in the “ Sawith that transaction which shed a very cred Songs." Were man only a mourner, lurid light upon his feelings of devotion. and not a sinful mourner, Moore might When preparing for his work, which might soothe ; but there are sorrows which lie have been one of blood, and which was so too deep for his appliances. It is the in the eyes of God, it does not appear Spirit of God that is the Comforter, as it that he was checked by any consideration is the Son of God that is the Saviour ; but the state of his finances. He was too and to neither the one nor the other does poor to rush on the instant to assail his the author of the “ Sacred Songs" even antagonist, or he says he would have done once distinctly point us. it. And when he sat down to write his It is not a little instructive to read in the challenge, he is careful to tell that he same volume with the “ Sacred Songs," couched it in such phrase as made com- certain malicious lampoons upon Sir Anpromise or apology hopeless.
• You are
drew Agnew, in connection with his ena liar; yes, sir, a liar,” were the words deavors to secure the rest of the Sabbath which one, whose creed was, “God is inviolate to man. One of them beginslove,” hurled against the man who had
“As snug in his easy chair of late, accused Moore of attempting to corrupt On a Sunday evening Sir Andrew sate, his fellow-men by his grossly licentious Being much too pious, as every one knows, poetry. For the duel he bought ammuni
To do aught of a Sunday eve but doze,
He dream'd a dream, dear holy man, tion, he says, “ for a score ;" and after
And I'll tell you his dream as well as I can." the combatants became the laughing-stock of a kingdom, Moore deliberately says,
Another begins :Though the business were to be gone “ Puir, profligate Londoners, having heard tell, through again, I should feel it to be my That the deil's got amaug you, and fearing 't is duty to do it.” My duty, he unconsciously we hae sent you a man that's a match for his means, to shed blood ; my duty, to run
spell, the risk of appearing before my God A chiel o' our ain, that the deil himsel charged with a double murder-my own,
Will be glad to keep clear of—one Andrew Agand that of a fellow mortal. Nay,
The man who discharged such verses “My bosom's lord sits lightly in its throne,"
against one of our truest patriots is said, were the boastful words which Moore we repeat, by his noble biographer to have quoted on a review of the whole. O how been signalized by his “ feelings of devodeep the delusion which blinds the heart tion,” and a “ Samaritan charity.” of man, if things like these be deemed It is too apparent how ineffectual the compatible with a creed whose summary poetry, or the mere sentiment of religion, is “God is LOVE!"
must ever prove in repressing the sinfulIn the thirty-one poems which Moore ness of man's heart. It may trim the has called his “ Sacred Songs,” what hint exterior ; it may adorn the coffin ; it may is there to tell the soul of the way to par- place gaudy trappings on the hearse ; but don and to peace? The religion of emo
it cannot cleanse the sepulcher: and when tion is there; but where is the foundation, the light of God's truth is admitted into truth? Truth is named. The gospel is the dark chambers, then, like the action likened to sunrise ; and we are told in of the solar microscope upon a drop of lines worthy of Moore, that
water, it brings to light many hideous,
monstrous, and misshapen things. But do " As fresh the dreaming world awoke, In truth's full radiance then :"
we pronounce any verdict on the dead,
while we thus unmask the insufficiency of but withal, we find nothing to which the their religious opinions ? Nay, they stand earnest soul can cling for one moment of or fall to their own Master. In Moore,
for instance, we judge the poetry, the opin- heaven was that of holy happiness ions, not the man. Tried he often was while to the mind of Owen, heaven's by poverty and crosses of many kinds. glory was regarded as consisting in the Things took place in his history which he unvailed manifestation of Christ. The says,
might have put the nine Muses to conceptions, though varied, are all true ; flight ;" and his closing hours were cloud- and Christ, fully'seen and perfectly ened with many woes. Death after death joyed, will secure all the others. Let us bereft him of those whom he loved with now trace the few remaining steps that all the ardor of his nature; and as blow conducted Owen into the midst of this after blow descended, he seemed to feel exceeding weight of glory. and to love what he had formerly sung : Lord Wharton was one of those noble“O Thou who dry'st the mourner's tear,
men who continued their kindness to the How dark this world would be,
Nonconformists in the midst of all their If, when deceived and wounded here, troubles. His country residence at WoWe could not fly to thee !"
burn afforded a frequent asylum to the Amid these crowding sorrows, who dare persecuted ministers ; just as we find the say that He who is full of grace was not France opened by their noble owners as a
castles of Mornay and De Plessis in sought and found? We are far from daring to say it ; but this we must say, that refuge to the Huguenots. judging from the whole tone of his poetry,
During his growing infirmities, Owen Moore was one of those who exercised a
was invited to Woburn, to try the effects blighting influence on the morals of his
of change of air; and also that others of country. The phase of his religion or de his persecuted brethren, meeting him in votion was spurious, because it was not
this safe retreat, might enjoy the benefit Scriptural. It was destitute of the basis of united counsel and devotion. It apof truth: he is, in short, a beacon to warn
pears that while here his bodily infirmities us to keep far from the spot where he increased upon him, and that he was unshines.
able to return to his flock in London at the time that he had hoped ; and a letter
written to them from this place gives a THE LAST DAYS OF JOHN OWEN. vivid reflection of the anxieties of a peTHE last production of Owen's pen,
riod of persecution, and a most interesting (observes Dr. Thomson,) was his specimen of Owen's fidelity and affection - Meditations and Discourses on the
to his people in the present experience of Glory of Christ.” It embodies the holy suffering, and in the dread of more. musings of his latest days, and in many
His infirmities increasing, he soon after parts of it seems actually to echo the removed from London to Kensington, for praises of the heavenly worshipers.* country air : occasionally, however, he We may apply to Owen's meditations, as
was able still to visit London ; and an recorded in this book, the words of Bun incident which happened to him on one of yan in reference to his pilgrim,“ Draw- these visits presents us with another picing near to the city he had yet a more
ture of the times. As he was driving perfect view thereof.” It is a striking along the Strand, his carriage was stopcircumstance that each of the three great ped by two informers, and his horses seizPuritan divines wrote a treatise on the ed. Greater violence would immediately subject of heaven, and that each had his have followed, had it not been that Sir own distinct aspect in which he delighted Edmund Godfrey, a justice of the peace, to view it. To the mind of Baxter the
was passing at the time, and, seeing a mob most prominent idea of heaven was that collected round the carriage, asked what of rest; and who can wonder, when it is
was the matter. On ascertaining the cirremembered that his earthly life was little cumstances, he ordered the informers, else than one prolonged disease ?-to the with Dr. Owen, to meet him at the house mind of Howe, ever aspiring after a purer
of another justice of the peace, on an apstate of being, the favorite conception of pointed day. When the day came, it was
found that the informers had acted so « « Weakness, weariness, and the near
irregularly, that they were not only dis
approach of death, do call me off from any fur. appointed of their base reward, but sether labor in this kind.”—Preface to Reader. verely reprimanded and dismissed. Thus
once more did Owen escape as a bird from ter at Saffron-Walden, in Essex; and on the snare of the fowler.
that person's calling to inform him of the Retiring still further from the scenes of circumstance on the morning of the day public life, Owen soon after took up his he died, he exclaimed, with uplifted hands abode in the quiet village of Ealing, where and eyes looking upward, “I am glad to he had a house of his own, and some prop- hear it; but, O brother Payne! the longerty. Only once again did persecution wished-for day is come at last, in which hover over him, and threaten to disturb I shall see that glory in another manner the sacredness of his declining days, by than I have ever done, or was capable of seeking to involve him and some other of doing in this world.” Still it was no the Nonconformists in the Rye-House easy thing for that robust frame to be plot; but the charge was too bold to be broken to pieces, and to let the struggling believed, and God was about, ere long, to spirit go free. His physicians, Dr. Cox remove him from the reach of all these and Sir Edmund King, remarked on the evils, and to hide him in his pavilion, from unusual strength of the earthly house the pride of man, and from the strife of which was about to be dissolved; while tongues. Anthony Wood has said of Owen, his more constant attendants on that conthat “he did very unwillingly lay down secrated hour were awe-struck by the his head and die;" but how different was mastery which his mighty and heaventhe spectacle of moral sublimity presented supported spirit maintained over his physto the eyes of those who were actual wit- ical agonies. “In respect of sicknesses, nesses of the last days of the magnani- very long, languishing, and often sharp mous and heavenly-minded Puritan! In a and violent, like the blows of inevitable letter to his beloved friend, Charles Fleet- death, yet was he both calm and submiss wood, on the day before his death, he thus under all.” At length the struggle ceasbeautifully expresses his Christian affec- ed; and with eyes and hands uplifted, as tion, and his good hope through grad if his last act was devotion, the spirit of "DEAR SIR, -Although I am not able to write
Owen passed in silence into the world of one word myself, yet I am very desirous to glory. It happened on the 24th of August, speak one word more to you in this world, and 1683, the anniversary of St. Bartholodo it by the hand of my wife. The continu
mew's Day ;-a day memorable in the ance of your entire kindness, knowing what it is accompanied withal, is not only greatly val
annals of the Church of Christ, as that in ued by me, but will be a refreshment to me, as
which two thousand Nonconformist conit is, even in my dying hour. I am going to fessors had exposed themselves to poverty Him whom my soul has loved, or rather who and persecution at the call of conscience, has loved me with an everlasting love,—which and in which heaven's gates had been is the whole ground of all my consolation. The passage is very irksome and wearisome, opened wide to receive the martyred Protthrough strong pains of various sorts, which estants of France. Eleven days afterare all issued in an intermitting fever. Allward, a long and mournful procession, things were provided to carry me to London to-day, according to the advice of my physi: in carriages drawn by six horses each, and
composed of more than sixty noblemen, cians; but we are all disappointed by my utter disability to undertako the journey. "I am leav- of many others in mourning-coaches and ing the ship of the Church in a storm; but on horseback, silently followed the morwhilst the great Pilot is in it, the loss of a
tal remains of Owen along the streets of poor under-rower will be inconsiderable. Live, and pray, and hope, and wait patiently, and do London, and deposited them in Bunhillnot despond; the promise stands invincible, Fields, the Puritan necropolis. that he will never leave us, nor forsake us. am greatly aftlicted at the distempers of your Paul was a man as strong in natural and dear lady; the good Lord stand by her, and acquired parts as any living, and he knew support and deliver her. My affectionate respects to her, and the rest of your relations, how to word it and to carry it in as lofty who are so dear to me in the Lord. Remem- strains as any that breathed; yet who ber your dying friend with all fervency. I rest
more plain in his preaching than Paul ? upon it that you do so, and am yours entirely,
It hath many a time made my heart sad, "J. Owen."
to think how those men will answer it, in The first sheet of his " Meditations on the day of Christ, that affect lofty strains, the Glory of Christ” had passed through high notions, and cloudy expressions—that the press under the superintendence of the make the plain things of the gospel dark Rev. William Payne, a dissenting minis- 1 and obscure.—Brooks.