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T E M P L E:
By the Rev. GEORGE HERBERT.
Late OrĄTOR of the University of CAMBRIDGE.
To which is added,
A Biographical SKETCH of the AUTHOR.
In his Temple doth every Man speak of bis Honour.
A NEW EDITION.
PRINTED BY AND FOR R. EDWARE
'HE Poems of HERBERT have an intrinsic excel.
lence, which has been duly appreciated by a certain class of readers, from the time they firft made their appearance to the public eye. To offer any remarks, therefore, upon them, will be deemed by pious persons who are already acquainted with the subject, equally improper and unnecessary.
Notwithstanding, though the Poetry of HERBERT was much known, and, as it should seem by their frequent recital of some of the stanzas, held in no small estimation by the devotional writers of the beginning of the present century, and though nothing can be said to give it an additional recommendation to those who possess a copy, the piece itself being its sufficient patron -there are, however, many who have admired the detached sentiments they have met in the course of their reading other authors, but have never been able to meet a copy of the whole work. It was their inquiries so often made after the Poems of HERBERT, that led the Editor into the design of publishing the present edition. Connected with this view indeed, was an additional wish, to administer pleasure to all the lovers of divine Poesy. Acknowledging the deference due to the classic Censor of the age, who maintains “ that devotional poetry is always unsatisfactory, from the paucity of its topics enforcing perpetual repetition, and the
sanctity of the matter rejecting the ornaments of figurative diction,” it does not therefore follow that divine subjects always disdain poetic dress. Allowing they feldom admit of the brilliant ornaments of poetic diction, it surely will not be required to acknowledge their total incapability of it, though we regret their experiencing too seldom the culture of first-rate geniuses in the walks of poetry. That sacred verse can more than satisfy that it can please, delight, enchant, will be scarcely denied by the candid classical readers of the poetry of Moses, David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk.
And, leaving the ancient Poets, who could command by their mighty prosopopæia all the objects of creation to adorn their song—we could mention Vida of later times, and others whuse brows acquire no faint lustre from the wreath of Zion, though not generally permitted to share the laurels of Parnassus.
It is not presumed, however, that the poems of HERBERT possess all the excellencies necessary to the perfection of poetry; it is not even pretended they inherit many of the charms indispensably required by the acknowledged laws of criticism. We only wish it to be understood, that we consider them as displaying some genuine effects of the Poetic Afflatus. The little poem «i On Virtue" might be instanced.
Mr. HERBERT's Poetry must be viewed in its own light. Though it does not barely glimmer with the phosphoric spark of the glow-worm, it would be unjust to hold it up to the applied evidence of the meridian sun. The intention of sending it into the world'either to challenge the acumen of the critics, or to court the favorable reception of candid admirers, had no impulse in its production. It was the spontaneous fruit of re
tired genius; a genius that in the lonely vale gave to it no other beauty or amelioration than it naturally derived froin the innate virtues of its parent stock. In some places we meet abruptly the "thought that lives.” Elegance itself possesses not more delicacy than polishes not unfrequently some of the verses. But the inanly sentiment, thrown into maxims, and expressed in an extremely, terse and commanding manner, charms while it informs the christian philosopher, and generally succeeds in exemplifying the fundamental excellence of the ethics of our holy religion. There is, finally, a group of singular excellencies, which, as they secure the admiration of the select readers, so they should be always taken into the estimate of HERBERT's poetry; this is the lovely combination ofchristian graces, which not merely adorn the author's thought, as in that case they might have been only adventitious, plucked with rude hand from the Eden of God, to bestow an ornament on fictious matter — they are nothing less than the instinctive life and soul of the poetry. It is the holy Shechinah, that, though it be sometimes veiled in thick darkness, is yet at other times only “ dark with excessive brightnels;" and whether He be immediately revealed or not, we feel that the present God always inhabits “The Temple.”
After expressing our regret that English lyric poetry had not in HERBERT's days been beautified by the resa traint Waller taught us to put upon the licentiousness of the muse, which knew not how graceful her movements should become in that species of poety when directed by measured numbers; we must be permitted to add, that neither had lyric poety then abandoned sterling wit and dignified sentiment, to solicit the caprice of ease and