صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

mists and mountains, his grey dogs and feeble sons of the wind, ftrung in couplets ! ]—But besides this want of conformity and alimilation between language and sentiment, there are, we apprehend, other reasons, why the versification of the sacred writings should not be attended with success; reasons which were obvious enough to Shaftesbury, when he observed that no poem founded upon them would prosper.

With respect to the Book of Psalms in particular, various attempts have been made to versify it in our own language ; but they have been unsuccessful from the first to the last. It has not, indeed, been attempted by men of diftinguished genius; yet some, whose poetical abilities were not altogether contemptible, have applied themselves to the talk. Sandys tells us, that finding the little advantage he made of his other poems, he had refumed his old scheme of translating the Psalms.-Were Sandys now living, we presume it would be the last scheme he would think of with any view to advantage. His translation, or rather paraphrase, we have never looked into. It was, however, published; and it has sunk into oblivion, with many others, on the merits of which we do not think it worth our while to enter ; satisfied of the truth of what we have already observed, that the songs of Sion will no more bend to the genius of a strange language, than their fingers would of old to the commands of their conquerors, when called upon to sing them in a strange land,

With regard to the merit of the translation before us, the Reader must form his judgment from the following specimens :

Plalm cxxxvii. is one of the most beautiful elegiac poems in all , antiquity. The subject is the happiest that could be suggested.

The captivity of Sion was a proper object for the mournful harmony of her own songs. The scene upon the Euphrates; the harps suspended on the willows; the pathos and patriotic affection described in it are truly beautiful; but we have nothing to say in favour of the barbarous conclusion, which, in our opia nion, the Translator would have done better to have softened,

Where Babylon's proud water flows,
We fate and wept, while in us role
The dear remembrance of thy name,
O fair, O loft, Jerusalem !
Our filent harps the willows bore,
Whole boughs along the extended Thore
Their shades Outspread : when thus the Foe
Insulting aggravates our woe:
Came, (une to mirth your fulien tongue;
• Rife, Hebrew Naves, and give the long i
Such ftrains as wont your fane to fil,
* On captive Sion's boasted liili.".


How shall we yield to the demand?
How, exiles in a heathen Land,
Presume the Heav'n-taught song to raise,
And desecrate the hallow'd lays ?
If Sion from my breast depart,
Forget my hand its tuneful art:
Fast to my palate cleave my tongue,
If, when I form my sprightlieft long,
Aught to my mirth supply a theme,
But Thou, O lov'd Jerusalem.
Think, Lord, O think, when Sion lay
Abandon'd to the dreadful day,
How, as thy heaviest wrath the tried,
“ Down, down, exulting Edom cried,
“ Down let the hated City fall,
“ And level to the dust her wall.”
Daughter of Babylon, that woe,
Depress’d, consum'd, thyself thalt know,
Which we, dire Murth'ress, found from Thee:
And Bleft, who shall by God's Decree
Warn from thy fate each distant Land
To dread the Justice of his hand;
Commiffion'd lead the Naughter on,

And dash thine infants on the stone. - This is, in general, the measure in which the Psalms are here translated ; and we are sorry that either this, or some ftronger ftanza than that of the old translations was not used in Pfalm cvii. which contains such a beautiful, natural and moral description of the immediate agency of Providence, and is one of the finest compositions in the whole book. Next in merit to - this is Psalm civ. which we shall felect as a farther specimen.

Awake, my Soul, to hymns of praise ;
To God the fong of triumph raise.
O cloch'd with majeity divine,
What pomp, what glory, Lord, are thine !
Light forms thy robe, and round thy head
The Heav'ns their ample curtain spread.
Thou know'lt amid the fluid space
The strong-compacted beams to place,
That proof to wasting Ages lie,
And prop the chambers of the sky.

Dehold, aloft, the King of Kings,
Borne on the wind's expanded wings,
(ilis Chariot by the Clouds supplied,)
Through Heav'n's wide realms triumphant ridea
Around him rang'd in awful state
Th' fubled durins ministrant wait;


And Flames, attentive to fulfill
The dictates of his mighry Will.
On firmett base uprear'd, the Earth
To him ascribes her wondrous birth.
He spake; and o'er each mountain's head

The deep its watry mantle spread :
He spake ; and from the whelming food i
Again their tops emergent stood ;
And fast adown their bending fide
With refluene stream the Currents glide : "
Aw'd by his stern rebuke they fly,
While peals of thunder send the sky,
In mingled tumult upward borne
Now to the mountain's height return,
Now lodo'd within their peaceful bed
Along the winding vale are' led,
And, caught their deftin'd bounds to know,
No more th' affrighted earth o'erflow,
But obvious to her use (their course
By Nature's ever copious source
Supplied,) refresh the hilly plain,
And life in all its forms luftain.
Here stooping o'er the river's brink
The herds and focks promiscuous drink;
There, 'mid the barren Desert nursid,
The Wild-Ass ccols his burning thirft :
While falt beside the murm'ring fpring
The feather'd minstrels fit and fing,
And Thelter'd in the branches fhun
The fervors of the mid-day fun.
His show'rs with verdure crown the hills;
The earth with various fruits lie fills :
Preventive of their wants, his aid
Yields to the Brute the springing blade;
For Man, chief object of his care,
His hands the foodful herb prepare,
The glad ning wine, refreshing oil,
And bread that strings his nerves for toil.
By Him with genial moisture fed
The Trees their shades luxuriant spread;
The Cedars, nurtur'd by his hand,
On Lebanon's high fummit stand,
And weave their social boughs, design'd
A refuge for th' aerial kind:
While on the Fir tree's spiry top
The vagrant Stork i foen to stop,
Where, cradled in their waving neit,
Her infant brood in safety res.
See from the hills the Goats depend,
Or bounding from the cliff de cond:
The lesier tribes, in furry prije

Array'd, the rock dark cavern s hide.
Rev. Sept. 1765.

Here &

Her way by Him prescrib'd, the Moon Our seasons marks, and knows her own; And taught by Him the Orb of day Slopes in the West his parting ray. Now Night from Ocean's bed ascends, And o'er the earth her wings extends ; While favour'd' by the friendly gloom The sylvan race licentious roam : The Lions chief with hideous roar From God their needful food implore, And eager for the wonted prey Along the echoing Desert tray ; Till now, as Morn approaches nigh, Back to their cavern'd haunts they fly, W'here, saria!e with the bloody fealt, The lordly favage finks to reft., His care suficient to the day, Man to his labour takes his way, His task at earliest dawo begun, And ended with the setting fun. Eternal Ruler of the Skies, How various are thy Works, how wise! Nor Earth alone beholds her shores Inrich'd from thy exhaustless stores; Alike, throughout their liquid reign, Th’extended Seas thy gifts contain: Beneath, unnumber'd reptiles swarm, Of diff'rent size, of diff'rent form; Above, the ships enormous glide, Incumbent on the burthen'd tide ; And oft, the rolling waves between, The huge Leviathan is seen, There privileg'd by Thee to stray, And wanton o'er the watry way. Thy care, great God, sustains them all; As, urg'd by hunger's furious call, Expectant of the known supply, , . To Thee they lift the asking eye, :. And reap from thy extended hand Whate'er their various wants demand. If Thou thy face but turn away, Their troubled looks their grief betray; If Thou the vital air deny, Behold them ficken, faint, and die; Dutt to its kindred dult returns, And Earth her ruin'd offspring mourns : But loon thy breath her loís fupplies; Slir fees a 12 -born race arile, And, eitt her regions scatter'd wide, The lines of the band divide. Thy!!07, tearicts of decline, Teglary, Lord, al ever this,

Thy Works in changeless order lie,
And glad their great Creator's eye... :'.
Earth at thy look shall trembling stand,
* Conscious of sov'reign pow'r at hand,
And, touch d by Thee, Almighty Sire;
The cloud-topt Hills in smoke aspire.
To God in ceaseless strains my tongue
Shall meditate the grateful song,
And, long as breath informs my fame,
The wonders of his Love proclaim,
Allurid that his paternal ear
With full regard my voice will hear;
His Acts its unexhausted theme, .
His favour my Delight supreme.
Behold his wrath on Sinners shed ;
Behold them number'd with the dead :
But Thou, my Soul, the hymn of praise
In loudest nbtes triumphant raise;
And let confenting Nations join..

To bless with Me the Name divine. To whatever poctical reputation Mr. Merrick may be erltitled by this translation, his whole claim to merit does not reft upon that. His translation, or rather paraphrase; has frequently elucidated the text. Passages that were dark and difficult he has sendered easy and obvious, and where, in our common translation, there appeared inconsistencies and a waht of connections he has reconciled the former, and regulated the latter:

What joy my conscious heart o'erflows !
Not fuch th' exulting labourer knows,
When to his long expecting eyes

The Vintage and the harvests rise. How much clearer and more natural is this interpretation, than Thou hast put gladness in my heart, fince * the time that their corn and wine and oil increased !” * Mr. Merrick acknowledges hiš obligations to the learned Dr. Lowth for several interpretations and obfervations, through this work; and gives us reason to hope that the world will be favoured with them in fome future publication.

* Thus it stands in the Common-prayer-book version; but in the Pible-translation we read, “ Thou hast put gladness in my heart, mure Ihan in the time ibai their corn and their wine increased.”


[ocr errors][merged small]
« السابقةمتابعة »