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Ecstatic shine; the little strong embrace
In these lines of Thomson," the little strong embrace of prattling chil dren twin'd around his neck," is more like the dulces pendent circum oscula nati" of Virgil, than the translation of Dryden-" his little children climbing for a kiss. In the page of the Roman poet, the little children are not described as climbing the knees of their sire, but as hanging around his lips, which Thomson, with a variation, has happily preserved in the expression twin'd around his neck."
The conclusion of Autumn, in which the poet, after celebrating the hapness of a peaceful and unambitious life spent in rural retirement, calls upon nature to enrich him with the knowledge of her works, though it does not resemble the conclusion of the second Georgic, from which the beautiful description that precedes it is imitated, is yet very much like the address of the Latin poet to the Muses, which occurs during the course of his praises on a country-life. I shall here insert both passages, for the inspection of those who take delight in comparisons of this kind:
Me vero primùm dulces ante omnia Musæ,
Ye sacred muses! with whose beauty fir'd,
But, if my heavy blood restrain the flight
Or in the plains of Tempe lay me down,
Georg. ii. 475–489.
Oh, Nature! all sufficient! over all!
The varied scene of quick-compounded thought,
In sluggish streams about my heart, forbid
Between these exquisite passages, there is not only a general, but in some lines even a verbal resemblance; "sia-frigidus obsteterit circum præcordia sanguis," is rendered almost word for word by Thomson,—“ if the blood in sluggish streams about my heart forbid :" and "under closing shades inglorious lay me," is literally expressive of "sylvasque inglorius et ingenti ramorum protegat umbrâ.” On the whole, then, it is evident, from the comparison of these celebrated poets, that the beautiful panegyric of Thomson on a country-life, is copied, if we except a few original variations in the course of it, from that of Virgil.
[To be concluded in our next.]
ABBOTS OF KIRKSTALL-ABBEY.
To the Editors of the Northern Star.
AS many of your readers may lately have felt particular pleasure in contemplating the remains of Kirkstall Abbey, as well from your engraving of the ruins of that venerable pile, as from the beautiful and picturesque account thereof, by your correspondent R., it may be acceptable to several of them to know, that they will find in the Methodist Magazine, for 1812, a pleasing poem of about three hundred lines, written on the ruins of that once magnificent fabric. I will take the liberty of making a short quotation, purposely to introduce to your readers the character of one of its abbots, contained in a note on the passage :—
And here the cemetery, hallow'd ground,
-The pious saint
"Turgėsius was the fourth abbot of Kirkstall. He was a severe chastiser of his body, and of the motions of the flesh; constantly clothed in a haircloth, and frequently repeating to himself, "Those who are clothed in soft raiment are in king's houses." His clothing was alike in all seasons, being only a tunic and a cawl. His body was so habituated to this discipline, that he appeared equally insensible to the heat of dog-days and the cold of January. In the severest weather, he endured the night-watches without shoes; and when his well-clad brethren were almost stiff with frost, he gave himself to the praises of God, and repelled the cold without by the heat of devotion within. Yet none was more mild and affable than Turgesius. His abstinence was extreme. He never tasted wine, except when no other beverage could be obtained. He never tasted flesh. Fish he permitted to be set before him for his friends, not for himself. His compunctions knew no bounds; in common conversation, he scarcely refrained from weeping. At the altar he never celebrated without such a profusion of tears, that his eye might be said rather to rain than weep; insomuch, that the sacerdotal vestment he officiated in, could not be used until it was dried. He governed nine years,”
Whatever may be thought of the severe bodily mortifications and rigourons abstinence of several Christian Fathers, or the strictness and seclusion of monastic discipline, it certainly is not required in these extremes by the reasonable and sublime dictates of the Christian religion, which, so far from enjoining it upon men to immure themselves from the world, breathes
the purest spirit of social benevolence, and directs its every tendency to assimilate in the spirit of love, and the bond of peace, nothing less than the family of mankind. Nevertheless, equally true are the words of the poet,
"Needful austerities the will restrain,
As thorns fence in the tender plant from harm." Young.
And as in the present day there is but little danger of running into excess in the exercise of mortification or self-denial, there is yet danger of lapsing into the opposite extreme. At a time when religious profession is become popular, and its sincerity not subjected to the test of persecution, strict examination would be a most profitable, as it is a most imperious duty. Far, very far be it from me to suppose persecution necessary to the existence of religion, or indispensable to prove its reality in the heart of him professing it.
Yet, while it is written, that they who would live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution, and when little is known of persecution now besides the name, it cannot be unprofitable to contemplate the sufferings and intrepidity of the martyrs and confessors of the Christian Church, the sanctity and devotion, the self-denial and labours, of the primitive Fathers, and the rigorous discipline of the monastery.
Let us feel grateful to God, that we are not called upon to seal our profession with martyrdom, but are reaping the fruits of their sufferings who have been justly called the seeds of the Church; at the same time, let us examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith, and if we could witness a good confession if called to support the testimony of our consciences with our lives.
It must be confessed, that although the dissolution of what were called religious houses was of essential consequence in the cause of religion, and assisted much in the progress of the reformation, yet it was in these sacred retreats that learning was protected; there the arts retired, and while the tide of barbarism, alternately repelled and overwhelming, drove literature and the arts to seek a refuge from destruction where they could, these retreats were considered sacred and inviolable, and their seclusion considered favourable to the prosecution of science. Speaking of Kirkstall, the poet says,
"Here science calmly rear'd his laurell'd brow,
It is principally in unison with these sentiments, that we feel pleasure in contemplating retrospectively the ruinated, uninhabited Abbey, where silence, lone and undisturbed, seems to muse on times and deeds gone by ; and the foot advances with trepidation through the mouldering cloisters, as if fearful of profaning the hallowed precincts of hoar antiquity. It is, however, among these relics of monachism, we behold so many beautiful specimens of architecture, so many lofty designs, such stupendous masses of
masonry: it was congenial to the dispositions of a people, whose religion required splendid ceremonies and imposing accompaniments, however severe the chastisement of their own bodies, to believe the most magnificent edifices acceptable to the Deity, and sufficient evidences of their piety or their charity. To them we owe most of the beautiful ruins, picturesque vestiges, and romantic piles, which adorn our country, and one of the most beautiful and extensive of which is the Abbey, the mention of which has given birth to these desultory reflections, for the length of which I must apologise.
December 16, 1817.
ON THE KNARESBROUGH SWORD-DANCE.
To the Editors of the Northern Star.
Mr. HARGROVE in his interesting history of Knaresbro' mentions a kind of Sword-dance practised there during the Christmas-holidays, which he judges to have been derived from our Saxon ancestors; but this idea, I think, he will find erroneous; and I beg leave through the pages of your useful Miscellany, to offer my reasons for supposing that it was introduced into England, not by the Saxons, but by the Romans.
The Scholiast on Stobæus has a remark which may be thus translated: "The Cretan youth assemble in public, and perform an armed dance, which Pyrrhus the Cydonian first invented." Pliny mentions Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, as the inventor, and other authors assign it to Dædalus, whilst Aristotle says, that it was the invention of Achilles himself.
Without endeavouring to prove which of these persons instituted the warlike exercise in question, it is evident that such a custom was prevalent both amongst the Greeks and Romans. Homer mentions it in many parts of his works, particularly in his description of the shield of Achilles, -with this difference, however, that his account agrees with that of Apuleius, who says that young women as well as men perform this dance :—
"A figur'd dance succeeds, such once was seen
Iliad, book 18th.