Imagens da página

lashed the follies and vices of his age with true hearted earnestness. Many of his couplets, and much of his teachings have passed into the current literature of our day, and much that he wrote has become familiar in our mouths as household words. Who well thinks of a fine old English gentleman, without thinking of

An honest man close buttoned to the chin,
Broad cloth without, and a warm heart within.

His letters are generally regarded as the finest models of epistolary cones produced in our language. There is in them so much ease, so much naturalness, so much beauty ; and such sound sense in simple words, such artless simplicity and grace, such gentleness of spirit, such a genial flow of warm friendship, such an insight into the writer's own soul, such fine delineations of natural scenery, such portraitures of home scenes, in fact, so much of William Cowper in all his varied feelings, moods, employments, enjoyments, and sufferings, that we could read such letters as his from January to December, without getting weary of them. So much excellency is very rarely met associated with so few imperfections of style and manner; indeed, Robert Hall – that most consummate critic, said, literary faults, he had found none in the letters of William Cowper. Uncle Joseph is very anxious, he might almost say ambitious, to be able to write and speak his mother tongue with ease, naturalness, beauty, correctness, and power; and he turns to Cowper for a model. He hates all big words, when little ones will express his meaning with more clearness and power. There are some speakers and writers that always appear to be walking on stilts. They never set their feet easily and firmly upon the ground. They must, above all things, look large. They cannot afford to be simple and natural. They must always be in full dress, and that dress be a gaudy and fine one; they are not easy themselves, and no one feels easy in listenivg to, or writing them. This is a great pity, and Uncle Joseph wishes himself and his young friends to guard against such a habit and spirit, themselves. One of


the easiest and most graceful writers of the English language, once said, to another literary character of great mental power, and much elegance, but whose gait was always stately. “Doctor, if you were to write a history of little fishes, you would make your little fishes talk like whales.” In Cowper's letters there is the absence of any thing approaching to a style like this. What ease, grace, and beauty, there is in the following specimen of Cowper's style of letter writing. It is the only specimen I bave room for :

“My greenhouse is never so pleasant as when we are just upon the point of being turned out of it. The gentleness of the autumnal suns, and the calmness of this latter season, make it a much more agreeable retreat than we ever found it in the summer; when, the winds being generally brisk, we cannot cool it by admitting a sufficient quantity of air, without being at the same time incommoded by it. We keep no bees, but if I lived in a hive I should hardly hear more of their music. All the bees in the neighbourhood resort to a bed of mignonette, opposite to the window, and pay me for the honey they get out of it by a hum, which, though rather monotonous, is as agreeable to my ear as the whistling of my linnets. All the sounds that nature utters are delightful, at least in the country. I should not, perhaps, find the roaring of lions in Africa, or bears in Russia, very pleasing, but I know no beast in England whose voice I do not account musical, save and except always the braying of an ass. The notes of all our birds and fowls please me without an exception. I should not indeed think of keeping a goose in a cage, that I might hang him in the parlour for the sake of his melody, but a goose upon a common, or in a farm-yard, is no bad performer; and as to insects, if the black beetle, and beetles indeed of all hues, will keep out of my way, I have no objection to any of the rest ; on the contrary, in whatever key they sing, from the gnat's fine treble, to the bass of the humble bee, I admire them all.

“Seriously, however, it strikes me as a very observable instance of providential kindness to man, that such an exact accord has been contrived between his ear and the sounds with which, at least in a rural situation, it is almost every moment visited. All the world is sensible of the uncomfortable effect that certain sounds have often upon the nerves, and consequently upon the spirits. And if a sinful world had been filled with such as would have curdled the blood, and have made the sense of hearing a perpetual inconvenience, I do not know that we should have had a right to complain. But now the fields, the woods, the gardens, have each their concert, and the ear of man is for ever regaled by creatures who seem only to please themselves. Even the ears that are deaf to the Gospel are continually entertained, though without knowing it, by sounds for which they are solely indebted to its Author. There is somewhere in infinite space a world that does not roll within the precincts of mercy, and as it is reasonable, and even Scriptural, to suppose that there is music in heaven, in these dismal regions perhaps the reverse of it is found ; tones so dismal as to make woe itself more insupportable, and to accumulate even despair. But my paper admonishes me in good time to draw the reius, and to check the descant of my fancy into regions with which she is but too familiar."

I ought ere I close to say something about Cowper's Hymns. Indeed, I have in my mind a good deal that I would like to say ; but it is time that this letter was in the hands of the Editor. Indeed, I fear that it will be too late. Besides, Uncle Joseph is not over well, and imperfect as this letter is, he must draw it to a close. He has read Cowper's Hymns many times. Some of them are universal favourites with the Church of God. They breathe so true a spirit of devoutness, are so tender, so beautiful, so much in harmony with piety in its varied moods, that they will be sung by the pious to the end of time. I read an interesting anecdote the other day of that great, good man, Wilberforce. In the midst of the turmoils of a very stirring and exciting election, one of his agents, who had to meet him every day, says, “I usually put myself in his way when he came in from the hustings to dress for dinner. On each day as he entered, I perceived that he was repeating to himself what seemed the same words : at length I was able to catch them, and tliey proved to be that stanza of Cowperis

The calm retreat, the silent shade,

With prayer and praise agree,
And seem by Thy sweet bounty made

For those that follow Thee. I was much pleased with the anecdote, as a picture of the man Wilberforce, and I was also pleased because that verse is one that specially struck and impressed my own mind the first time I read Cowper's hymns through. It often comes up to memory in one's lonely musing walks, and with it I must take a hurried leave of yourselves and Cowper for the present. My next letter may be about * a Model Soldier." Your affectionate friend,



MEMOIR OF ELIZABETH MARTIN. Elizabeth Martin was one of a large family who came to reside at Low Moor, Clitheroe, in the year 1842.

She was then nine years of age-from that time to the last Sabbath she spent on earth, she was regular in her attendance at our Sabbath-school. Before her conversion to God she was very steady and decorous in all her deportment. In the spring of the year 1853, a very remarkable revival of religion took place in the Clitheroe Circuit, when penitent sinners became so numerous, especially in Clitheroe, at the Sunday night service, that it was found necessary to commence special meetings. Night after night, and week after week, the cries of contrite sinners were heard mingled with the glad hosannas of those whose sins were pardoned, and whose iniquities were covered. These were glorious times, for the Lord added to His church daily such as should be saved. The Clitheroe Circuit could scarcely have stood the severe trial then impending, had it not been for this gracious outpouring of the Holy Spirit—the Rev. T. W. Pearson and the praying men who held up his hands will ever remember the event with peculiar pleasure. Elizabeth Martin was one among the multitude of young persons who were saved at that time, and she continued stedfast and unmoveable, adorning the doctrines of God her Saviour in all things ; she was indeed a pattern of piety and virtue, and was respected and loved by all who knew her. At home she was the soul of the family, kind and dutiful to her aged mother, she always manifested a deep concern for the spiritual welfare of her brothers and sisters; over the latter she watched with all the tenderness and solicitude of a parent. "The class was a means of grace which she highly valued and delighted in, her experience and prayers manifested much fervency and simplicity, but the Sunday-school was her favorite place of resort; she often said that her happiest moments were spent there, the strong love she always showed towards her young charge, was warmly returned by them. The time between the close of the school and ovening service, she generally spent in her closet, holding sweet communion with her heavenly Father. She was constant in her attendance at the public worship of God, she delighted to praise God in the great congregation, her language was

“I have been there, and still will go,
• Tis like a little heavenly below.”

« AnteriorContinuar »