Слике страница
PDF
ePub

Is substance: the reverse is Folly's creed.
How solid all when change shall be no more:"

It will thus guard us against improper and undue excitement from worldly objects and pursuits : it will also furnish alleviations of the severity of earthly sorrows and disappointments.

It will admonish is of the too common vice of every age-an unprofitable, if not universal, waste of time, the value of which is nowhere so eloquently portrayed as in this volume.

“Each night we die,
Each morn are born anew; each day a life!
And shall we kill each day? If trifling kills,
Sure vice must butcher. O what heaps of slain
Cry out for vengeance on us !

Time destroyed
Is suicide, where more than blood is spilt.

Moments seize;
Heaven's on their wing: a moment we may wish,
When worlds want wealth to buy."

*

Again ; this poem is a well-filled magazine of offensive arms against scepticism, and of defensive arins for the security of the great Christian scheme of redemption. The sixth and seventh Nights are appropriated to this service. In the preface to the poem the author remarks : “ The dispute alout religion may be reduced, I think, to this single question ; Is man immortal, or is he not? If he is not, all our disputes are mere amusements, or trials of skill : but if man is immortal, it will behoove him to be

very

serious about eternal consequences, or, in other words, to be truly religious. And this great fundamental truth, unestablished or unawakened ir tho minds of men, is, I conceive, the real source and support of all our infidelity ; how remote soever the particular objections advanced may seem to be from it."

As a fair sperimen of the grandeur and impressiveness, and useful

[ocr errors]

tendencies of this portion of the work, take the following, selected with no special care :

“Know'st thou the importance of a soul immortal ?

Behold this midnight glory: worlds on worlds!
Amazing pomp! Redouble this amaze:
Ten thousand add ; and twice ten thousand more:
Then weigh the whole. One soul outweighs them all,
And calls the astonishing magnificence
Of unintelligent creation poor.
For this, believe not me: no man believe;
Trust not in words, but deeds; and deeds no less
Than those of the Supreme; nor his, a few:
Consult them all: consulted, all proclaim
Thy soul's importance."

Another great advantage of the frequent perusal of the poem will be found in its eloquent inculcation of those great Christian doctrines which lie at the foundation of pure morals and sound religion. Faith in those doctrines may be acquired, or greatly strengthened by a familiar intercourse with the sublime communings of the "Night-watcher." His address to the triune Godhead, in the last night, is wonderfully sublime and impressive. To the Son he says:

"O thou Patron-God!
Thou God and mortal! thence more God to man!
Man's theme eternal ! man's eternal theme!
Thou can'st not ’scape uninjured from our praise.
Uninjured from our praise can He escape,
Who, disembosom'd from the Father, bows
The heaven of heavens, to kiss the distant earth!
Breathes out in agonies a sinless soul !
Against the Cross Death's iron sceptre breaks !
From famished Ruin plucks her human prey !
Throws wide the gates celestial to his foes !"

We have spoken of the “ Night Thoughts” as a peculiarly valuable study for young persons. We should be guilty of a gross offence against the poem, to omit to add that the general strain of its meditations is such as to seize hold upon the sympathies, and to be adapted to the wants of those who are beginning to feel the infirmities of age; and there are but few poems, if any, so well suited to give their thoughts a profitable direction toward those grave

realities, to the borders of which time is carrying them forward. If there is any class of persons to whom the high themes connected with death and immortality should be welcome, it must be they whose advanced years admonish them that the scenes of earth can be enjoyed but a short time longer. And how touchingly does the author describe the case of such !

“O my coevals! remnants of yourselves !
Poor human ruins tottering o'er the grave!
Shall we, shall aged men, like aged trees,
Strike deeper their vile root, and closer cling,
Still more enamored of this wretched soil ?
Shall our pale, withered hands be still stretched out,
Trembling, at once, with eagerness and age ?
With avarice, and convulsions, grasping hand ?
Man wants but little, nor that little long."

It is not then a useless labor to prepare this edition of the “Night Thoughts,” for the use of those who are on or within the precincts of old age ; since, in reading, as the poet in writing it, their experience inay accord with his :

" I chase the moments with a serious song,
Song sonthes our pain; and age has pains to soothe.”

We have spoken of the importance of the use of this poem in the education of the youthful mind, on account of the weighty sentiments briefly expressed, and the practical maxims of great value scattered through its pages. As an illustration of this remark the following may be offered.

“Oh Time! than gold more sacred.
Part with it as with money, sparing: pay
No moment but in purchase of its worth.
And what its worth, ask death-beds; they can tell."

“Tis greatly wise to talk with our past hours

And ask them what report they bore to heav'n."

"! Earth's highest station ends in "Here he lies;
And 'Dust to dust, concludes her noblest song"

* The grand morality is love of Thee.”

"A Christian is the highest style of man."

"Believe, and show the reason of a man;
Believe, and taste the pleasure of a god;
Believe, and look with triumph on the tomb."

* That life is long which answers life's great end:
The time that bears no fruit deserves no name.
The man of wisdom is the man of years.".

“And all may do what has by man been done.
The more our spirits are enlarged on earth,
The deeper draught shall they receive of heaven."

It has been objected to this poem that it often indulges in a stran too gloomy; an objection which is fully presented and considered in the following “ Estimate of the Writings of the Author," and therefore it may now be sufficient just to enter our dissent from the objections, and to adduce in the author's vindication a few of the beautiful and triumphant lines with which he brings his poem to a close;

showing, that whatever effect it may have produced on other minds, it had not an unhappy one on his own; and giving us to understand that the complaint of gloominess must be ascribed to an exclusive attention to certain portions, the subjects of which could truthfully be endowed with no other characteristics ; and to a neglect of those other portions which raise the enraptured and Christian mind to the very heavens, in joyful anticipations of what he describes as existing there, and in grateful thank-offerings to the Divine benevolence.

* Then, farewell, Night! Of darkness, now no more.
Joy breaks, shines, triumphs : 'tis eternal Day.
Shall that which rises out of nought complain
Of a few evils, paid with endless joys?
My soul! henceforth in sweetest union join
The two supports of human happiness,
Which some, erroneous, think can never meet;-
True taste of life, and constant thought of Death;
The thought of Death, sole victor of its dread!
Hope be thy joy, and probity thy skill;
Thy Patron He, whose diadem has droppd
Yon gems of heaven; eternity thy prize."

In taking up the productions of any distinguished aụthor there is naturally and universally felt a strong desire to learn something of his history and character : if he be a writer of genius, it is advantageous to most readers also, to be furnished with a critical account of his writings, as a preparation for reading them with an intelligent appreciation of the excellencies and defects, or as a means of awakening the attention to all those qualities and objects that are intrinsically most deserving of it. The author of the present edition has therefore deemed it important to draw up a memoir of Dr. Young, though the materials for it are by no means abundant. He has availed himself of all he could command, and has embodied more

« ПретходнаНастави »