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By the Rev. GEORGE HERBERT.
Late Orator of the University of Cambridge.
To which is added,
THE Poems os Hubert have an intrinsic excellence, which has been duly appreciated by a certain class os readeis, srom thetime they sirst made their appearance to the public eye. To osser any remarks, theresore* upon them, will be deemed by pious persons who are already acquainted with the subject, equally improper and unnecessary.
Notwithstanding, though the Poetry os Herbert was much known, and, as it should seem by their srequent recital ps some os the stanzas, held in no small estimation by the devotional writers os the beginning or' the present century, and though nothing can be said to give it an additional recommendation to those who possess a copy, the piece itsels being its sussicient patron —there are, however, many who have admired the detached sentiments they have met in the course os their reading other authors, but have never been able to meet a copy os the whole work. It was their inquiries so osten made aster the Poems os Herbert, that led the Editor into the design os publishing the present edition. Connected with this view indeed, was an additional wish, to -administer pleasure to all the lovers os divine Poesy. Acknowledging the deserence due to the classic Censor os the age, who maintains "that devotional poetry is always unsatissactory, srom the paucity os its topics ensorcing perpetual repetition, and the a Z
fanctity of the matter rejecting the ornaments of sigurative diction," it does not therefore follow that divine fubjects always difdain poetic drefs. Allowing they feldom admit of the brilliant ornaments of poetic diction, it furely'will not be required to acknowledge their total incapability of it, though we regret their experiencing too feldom the culture of firft-rate geniufes in the walks of poetry. That facred verfe can more than fatisfy—that it can pleafe, delight, enchant, will be fcarcely denied by the candid classical readers of the poetry of Mofes, David, Ifaiah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk.
And, leaving the ancient Poets, who could command by their mighty profopopœia all the objects of creationto adorn their fong—wecould mention Vida of later times, and others whofe brows acquire no faint lustre from the wreath of Zion, though not generally permitted to fhare the laurels of Parnassus.
It is not prefumed, however, that the poems of Herbert possefs all the excellencies necessary to the perfection of poetry; it is not even pretended they inherit many of the charms indifpenfably required by the acknowledged laws of criticifm. We only wifh it to be understood, that we confider them as difplaying fome genuine effects of the Poetic Asflatus. The little poem "On Virtue" might be inftanced.
Mr. Herbert's Poetry must be viewed in its own light. Though it does not barely glimmer with the phofphoric fpark of the glow-worm, it would be unjust to hold it up to the applied evidence of the meridian fun. The intention of fending it into the world either to challenge the acumen of the critics, or to court the favoiable reception of candid admirers, had no impulse -ii its production. It was the fpontaneous fruit of retired genius; a genius that in the lonely vale gave to it no other beauty or amelioration than it naturally derived srom the innate virtues os its parent llock. In some places we meet abruptly the "thought that lives." Elegance itsels possesses not tnore delicacy than poliihes not unsrequently some os the verses. But the manly sentiment, thrown into maxims, and expressed in an extremely < terse and commanding manner, charms while it insorms the christian philosopher, and generally succeeds in exemplisying the sundamental excellence os the ethics os our holy religion. There is, sinally, a group os singular excellencies, which, as they secure the admiration os the select readers, so they should be always taken into the estimate os Herbert's poetry; this is the lovely combination oschristian graces, which not merely adorn the author's thought, as in that case they might have been only adventitious, plucked with rude hand srom the Eden os God, to bestow an ornament on sictious matter — they are nothing less than the instinctive lise and soul os 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 brightness;'' and whether He be immediately revealed or not, we seel that the present Gon always inhabits "TkeTempU."
Aster expressing pur regret that English lyric poetry bad not in Herbert's days been beautisied by the restraint Waller taught us to put upon the licentiousness os the muse, which knew not how gracesul her movements should become in that species os poety when directed by measured numbers; we must be permitted to add, that neither had lyric poety then abandoned sterling wit and dignisied sentiment, to solicit the caprice os case and