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tion of a youth of nineteen, it displays a good degree of versatile talent, and is creditable to its author. We deem it a subject of praise, that he has been willing to turn the poetical stream of thought into the pure channel of christian feeling, rather than with so many others sully it with immoral and degrading themes. He is not wanting in genius, and exbibits an active mind passionately fond of poetry, especially, as we should judge, loving the muse of olden time. We cannot go into an extended analysis of the work, but will barely sketch the outline, and throw out a hint or two as to its plan and execution.—The title at once bespeaks the subject. It is an attempt, under a dramatic form, to shadow forth the scenes of the night of our Savior's birth. sonages are shepherds and shepherdesses, the wise men, Zacharias and Elizabeth, good and evil spirits. The whole time of action is from sunset to morn. The main incident of the author's invention is a meeting of Hecate and other evil spirits, to frustrate the annunciation of the birth of Christ to the shepherds. For this purpose Somnus is sent to seal up their eyes. This mission, however, is foiled by the precaution of a good spirit, Adiel, who was on the watch, and who also, under the form of a beautiful female, puts Reuel, a shepherd, who had lost his way, in his right path. Another good spirit summons Elizabeth and Zacharias to repair to Bethlehem and greet their Lord. The wise men, also, who had seen the star, are on their way, inquiring for the expected Messiah. Thus, by a variety of instrumentality, the different persons who figure in the drama are brought together at the time needed. The plot of the simplest kind, is too open, wanting in nice arrangement, and was meant, we presume, only to give form to the drama. The characters are for the most part natural enough, though we could point out some defects in them. Perhaps the lyrical portions are the most poetical ones in the work. These are in a great degree based on scripture-language, and a happy facility in weaving together the different predictions and descriptions is evinced. The scene in Hecate's cave is an evident imitation of Shakspeare's and Ben Johnson's witch-scenes, and shows considerable power of delineation.Among other passages which strike us as possessing more than common merit, we may mention Adiel's soliloquy near the beginning of the poem; parts of Reuel's colloquy with Adiel; the first sage's account of Judea, and Reuel's story from the old Rabbins; Elizabeth and Zacharias' conversation, &c. We could point out some prosaic lines, and an occasional use of expletives, such as “full," "so,'
so," "right," &c., which mar the beauty and weaken the strength of the poetry. And now and then, also, we notice inversions which appear stiff and forced, and imagery stretched beyond its proper limits. Yet with all these defects, the poem will amply repay a perusal
. More care and pruning would have improved it, and should the author continue to tread the path of the Muses, he would do well to elaborate his productions yet further. We would commend to him, in this respect, the Hadad of Hillhouse, and Mr. Talfourd's Ion.
The Union Bible Dictionary. Prepared for the American
Sunday School Union, and revised by the committee of publication. Philadelphia : American Sunday School Union, 146 Chestnut street. 1837. pp. 648, 12mo.
This is a valuable little work. It is not designed to supersede the use of Robinson's Calmet, and the larger Bible Dictionaries, but as there are many who have not access to them, a compend like the present was most desirable. It is peculiarly suited to sabbath schools and families. After having been prepared with great care, and revised by good judges, it has been stereotyped ; so that its accuracy may be relied on. It is adorned with numerous cuts and maps, which aid in the explanation of the word, and convey a more accurate idea of the manners and customs of the eastern nations. The journals of our missionaries, and the volumes of the best modern Oriental travelers have been consulted, and the information there found condensed and brought in to illustrate scripture. Much superfluous matter, which not unfrequently fills up the pages of similar works, has been carefully excluded. The plan which has been pursued is eminently a judicious one ; since it secures for the owner a true Biblical Dictionary. No word is introduced, as the subject of an article which is not found in the canonical books of the common translation of the bible, and at least one passage is cited in which the word occurs.” “No word is introduced unless it has a peculiar scriptural use or signification which would not be found in a common defining dictionary.' “No word is admitted into the body of the dictionary of which all that can be said is found in immediate connection with the word itself.” All sectarianism is scrupulously excluded. “The leading articles embrace, as far as practicable, the various topics that properly fall under them.” This gives great value to the work, as we are thus presented with a picture of the dwellings, mode of life, clothing, implements of husbandry, or war, in a connected form, rendering the volume a true multum in parvo repository of information. We commend it to our readers as a work which will aid them much in the study and understanding of the sacred volume; and would acknowledge the obligations of the christian public to the American Sunday School Union for this as well as a variety of valuable works having a similar bearing, with the hope that they will go on adding to the treasury of knowledge which already is found on their shelves.
* Other notices are necessarily deferred for a subsequent number.
VOLUME X.-NUMBER II.
ART. I.-MEMOIR OF WILLIAM C. WALTON.
Memoir of William C. Walton, late Pastor of the Second
Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, D. C. and of the Free Church in Hartford, Conn.: by Joshua N. DANFORTH. Hartford : Daniel Burgess & Co. New York: John S. Taylor. 1837. pp. 319.
THEY who almost idolize talent, and care little comparatively for the persevering devotedness of the humble christian, may not perhaps be greatly interested in these pages. Not that we mean to deny to Mr. Walton the possession of intellectual excellence. He was distinguished for good natural attainments, and his acquisitions were more than respectable; but it has been the aim of his biographer to exhibit his piety and the sweet attractiveness of those virtues which borrow their lustre from the example of Christ, rather than to erect a memorial to perpetuate the recollection of those qualities which most often command the world's applause. It is not so much the scholar, or the man of genius, intelligence and refinement, who stands prominent in this record of his life, as the untiring efforts and their success of the minister of Jesus. His motto seems to have been, “for me to live is Christ;" while his closing hours spoke out in language such as death-beds like his only can furnish, “to die is gain.” It is no easy task to write a biography or memoir, such as will be generally satisfactory. Friends are apt enough Vol. X.
to feel, that all which might have been said has not been, while others, ignorant of the worth or character of the subject, are no less ready to believe, that his merits have been exaggerated. If the writer is comparatively a stranger, then he is unable to depict the man in the intimacy of home and the society of a circle of endeared friends : if a relative, or one who shared in his bosom's secrets, then he has looked upon the character and person, as the image was too brightly and strongly reflected from the mirror of gratified affection, and brought out the reminiscences of more private scenes into too great relief, while the portraiture of the public individual, where the community might be a better judge of its accuracy, has been touched more lightly, and with less attention. To avoid both these difficulties, and find the happy middle track, where universal approval awaits the endeavor, seldom falls to the lot of any one. The inequalities of character also often add to the difficulty. It is comparatively easy to portray the great outlines, but to catch the nicer shades of feeling in a variety of circumstances, which give out the full reality, is no easy task.
The biography before us is marked with several peculiarities. It is generally well written, though occasionally we meet with inaccuracies of expression. The style is lively and pleasing; the reflections judicious, and the exhibition of character natural. The digressions are frequent, and numerous anecdotes relating to conversion, revivals, &c. are interspersed throughout its pages, adding an additional charm of felicitous illustration to the detail of incidents and opinions. It is a work suited to the exigencies of the present time, when there seems to be a needless shrinking, even in good men, from acknowledging with favor the blessed effects of God's Spirit, manifested in revivals of religion.
The first thing with which we are struck on opening the volume, and commencing the perusal of the records of Walton's early life and condition, is the marked display of sovereign grace which he exhibited. It is usual in almost all instances of distinguished piety, to trace the germ of it, under God, to parental influence and example, but it was not so in the case of Walton. No father bore him in the arms of faith by dedication to a covenant keeping God. No family altar summoned him day by day to listen to that father's earnest supplications for the grace of Christ to rest upon him. No mother breathed over his cradle and childhood, the hallowed name of his Redeemer, and taught his lisping tongue to utter the words of praise ; for they who should have led him to an inviting Savior, were
themselves strangers to the power of the Spirit of life. It was not till his seventeenth year, that he heard the voice of prayer in family worship by a pious uncle. His father had early fallen a victim to intemperance, and within the precincts of a tavern he himself had grown up, surrounded by sensual indulgence and every bad example. They who should have been foremost to counsel, with an eye of watchful guardianship ever bent on him, were heedless as himself of the claims of heaven, and no one cared for his soul. But though thus exposed to the thousand evil influences about him, there was an eye which kept him in view, and there was an arm which was thrown around him, to save him from the power of the great destroyer. More than once his life was most remarkably preserved, and the natural result of such associations as those with which he was constantly mingling, were prevented from being fully realized. God had a work for him to do; he was yet to be a brand plucked from the fire, to become a burning and shining light in the church of Christ. Who that reads the life of Walton, but must acknowledge a superintending Providence. But we are forgetting ourselves. Our readers have not been told the details of his early history. We will therefore hasten and place them in view—sketching the outline of his life, as presented to us in this volume, and adding such reflections as occur to ourselves. We do it with a melancholy interest; we remember the man, as many of our readers probably do; for our pages have heretofore borne an impress of his mind and heart, in more than one rich contribution from his pen. We shall gather without reserve from the materials his biographer has afforded, sometimes using our own, and sometimes his language, as may seem best suited to our purpose. The incidents related of his earlier life are but few, and they may have been such as his friend chose to let sleep in the oblivion which rested upon them, rather than to expose them more fully to the gaze of the world.
“ William C. Walton was born in Hanover County, Va. on the 4th day of Nov. 1793.” His father, of whom he was an only child, was a blacksmith, and also kept a tavern, about thirty two miles from the city of Richmond, till the spring of 1803, when, in consequence of perplexity in his affairs, he removed to Hardy County, near Moorefield. At the age of thirteen, Walton was left, a fatherless boy. The early
victim of intemperance, (for the parent died at the age of thirty eight,) no pure and healthful influence could have been exerted by him, although the sad story is dismissed in a few lines. He