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Ruins of Petra.
“ The entire edifice, however, owes much of its effect to the suddenness with which it bursts upon the sight; from [to] the beauty and freshness of its color, and from [to its fanciful design; all in strange contrast with the loneliness of the place, and the wild, weather-beaten crags with which it is surrounded. Sheltered in an immense niche in the rock, it has been wonderfully preserved from the effects of the weather, and now retains the same lustre it bore when just finished by the artist. The rock in which it is cut, when polished, is of the most beautiful colors. It does not present a dead mass of dull red, but a variety of bright and liv. ing hues, from the deepest crimson to the softest pink; and sometimes verging to green, blue, orange, and yellow. All these colors intermingle [on] the surface in beautiful waves, reflecting all the lustre of the rainbow. The beauty of the rock into which they are formed adds vastly to the entire ruins of Petra. It is so unlike any thing I ever saw anywhere else, that it is im. possible to give the reader a perfect idea of it.
“ The mountain cliff, at this place, rises in perpendicular form for over one hundred feet, and it will be remembered that this vast edifice is cut in the solid rock. Every column, cornice, and indeed every portion of it, is in reality part of the rock where it stands. In front is a portico of four columns, with Corinthian capitals, supporting an entablature, above which is a gable with broad, highly-wrought cornices, in the centre of which is an eagle with extended wings. The entablature is ornamented with vases, connected by festoons of flowers, and the summit of the whole is crowned with a large, beautiful urn. On both sides of the portico are other ornaments of various dimensions. The columns are about thirty-five feet in height and three in diameter. One of these has now fallen, and lies nearly covered in sand and rubbish. Yet, from a distance, this missing brother scarcely disfigures the edifice.”
- pp. 194 - 196. We discover in Professor Millard's work a few inaccuracies of expression, particularly in regard to names. For the pyramid of Cephrenes we have the pyramid Sephrenes”; and for the mosque of the Caliph Omar we have that of “ St. Omer.” Other instances might be mentioned, some of them apparently, mere errors of the press. In power of description, and in correctness and elevation of sentiment, the book does honor to its author. May it be the precursor of other volumes from his pen, - contributions to a truly Christian literature, and the commencement of a rich stream of theological learning which in future years is to flow from the new fountain in the West.
S. G. B.
Art. IV. - NOYES'S TRANSLATION OF THE PSALMS.*
The first edition of this work was issued in 1831 ; and it was reviewed by the late Dr. Greenwood in the September number of the Examiner for that year. His article, which is characterized by his usual elegance of sentiment and style, professes to regard the volume as one
intended for popular use, rather than as a critical help to the student.” The view which he takes of it presents its claims to consideration on the score of taste and devotional feeling. It is in other aspects that we now propose to notice its value.
Dr. Noyes has acquired for himself a name and a place among the most distinguished living scholars of this country, through his labors in Hebrew literature. Various books of the Old Testament have been clad in a somewhat new attire by his diligence ; and his versions have been quite favorably received, not only in the denomination of Christians to which he belongs, but among those whose religious sentiments differ widely from his own. Reading of this character, however ably supplied, is not likely to obtain very extensive diffusion. Yet most of Dr. Noyes's new translations have reached a second edition ; all of them, we believe, except the last, which is entitled “ A New Translation of the Prov. erbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Canticles,” in one volume, and which appeared only a few months since. The first production of this nature which he published was “A New Translation of the Book of Job,” in one volume, which appeared in 1827, and of which a second edition was issued in 1838. Next came the first edition of the book which we propose to consider somewhat particularly in the present article. This was printed in 1831 ; the second edition in
In 1933, the first volume of “A New Translation of the Hebrew Prophets was presented by him to the public, and the remaining two in 1837; and a second edition of the work in 1843.
Among all the sacred writings which have thus been subjects of investigation and illustration on the part of Dr. Noyes, it is probable that the Psalms maintain unquestioned
* A Nero Translation of the Book of Psalms, with an Introduction, and Notes, chiefly Explanatory. By GEORGE R. Noves, D. D., Hancock Profes. sor of Hebrew, etc., and Dexter Lecturer in Harvard University. Second Edition. Boston: ). Munroe & Co. 1846. 12mo. pp. 367.
ascendency in point of interest and importance. In this light, at least, they have been generally regarded by both Jews and Christians. The copiousness, naturalness, fervor, and frequent sublimity of their devotional sentiment have appealed successfully to the heart of man in all generations since their composition ; and we may be sure they will not resign their power in the lapse of time to come.
It is no doubt true, as is suggested by Dr. Noyes in his Introduction, that were the Psalms to be first presented to us in mature life, recommended by the charm of novelty, the impressions we should receive from them would be much more vivid and valuable than those they now communicate. Being accustomed to an inadequate and improper perusal of them in our early years, we are apt to fail
ever after in our endeavours to pass the bounds of habit. The way in which we first accost and treat any work exerts an enduring influence upon our estimate of it. Lord Byron remarks in one of his letters, that he was never able to relish Horace thoroughly at any period of his life, from associations connected with the drudgery and irksomeness of his school-boy days ; and every student can state more or less experience of a similar character.
Dr. Noyes mentions “the very imperfect translation which is in most common use, as
another obstacle to a proper estimate of the poetry of the Scriptures.” Now, we must frankly avow our conviction that, taking every thing into account, the translation of the Psalms contained in what is called King James's version of the Bible cannot justly be stigmatized as a “very imperfect ” one. It is marked by some imperfections, indeed, as every translation of them must be; but, for the time in which it was prepared, it seems to us remarkably correct, and the progress of Biblical literature has, we believe, secured but few indubitable and important amendments. There are such amendments, however; and we owe thanks to Dr. Noyes for what he has done in bringing them within the reach of the common reader.
It has been often said, that poetry has properly two objects, utility and pleasure. So should every sort of composition have, as far as possible. The design of poetry is, indeed, more than that of most other composition, to gratify the ear, the taste, and the sensibility ; and thus the bestowment of pleasure may, perhaps, be considered a larger ingre
dient in poetical than in prosaic efforts. Lowth remarks, in his Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, that he could wish utility were represented as the chief object of poetry, and pleasure as only a means to that end. Utility ought certainly to be accredited as the only proper object of every thing. But then utility must be justly estimated. By a just estimate, pleasure, within suitable metes and bounds, is utility. The mere gratification which poetry affords deserves some respect.
Hebrew poetry possesses few, if any, charms of an external character, at least for the modern scholar. of metre and rhyme, and all the pleasant devices of sound, on which most other poetry, both ancient and modern, depends considerably for its interest, are almost undiscoverable in the productions of the Jews. Much pains have been taken, with little success, to fix principles of quantity upon the Psalms. Their writers may possibly have had more reference to metre and other artifices than we of modern times can discern ; for it is to be remembered that the true pronunciation of the Hebrew language is now unquestionably lost. The poetry of the Greeks and Romans has been considerably shorn of its original beauty, to our apprehension, from the same fact respecting their languages; and it may be that the poetry of the Old Testament suffers yet more largely from the necessary injustice of ignorance. The outward guise of the Jewish bard might appear far more lovely, could we fully comprehend the principles on which that guise was contrived. As it is, we can ascertain but slight evidences of art in its preparation. What has been largely treated of by Lowth, Michaelis, De Wette, and others, under the designation of Parallelism, is the most distinctive device of form in Jewish poetry. And this feature cannot properly be considered altogether an external one. It is usually a repetition of the same sentiment in two or more different sets of phraseology. It is much the same thing in respect to thought, as our rhyme is in respect to words ; excepting that parallelism relates to the entire sentiment of the line, and rhyme relates only to final syllables or words. This repetition or correspondence is supposed to have been designed for the responsive chanting of separate choirs. In general but two choirs were intended ; though sometimes three. In addition to this parallelism there are but very few peculiarities of artificial structure to be dis
cerned in Hebrew poetry. The only undoubted one, of consequence, is that which characterizes what are called the alphabetical Psalms, in which the initial letters of the lines or verses follow the order of the alphabet. This and one or two other traits of artifice, which sometimes present themselves in Hebrew poetry, bear considerable resemblance to traits of Icelandic versification, as described by Professor Rask.
The characteristics which distinguish Hebrew poetry are almost exclusively of an internal character, pertaining to the sentiment rather than the form. The phraseology employed is, indeed, to some extent, different from that of prose. What are called poetic forms of Hebrew are very numerous. The poetic style, too, is specially, daringly, figurative. Eastern nations indulge largely in hyperbolical expression, even when using what is called prose. Poetry transcends prose among them as much as among us. Accordingly, Hebrew poetry abounds in bold fancies, in startling conceptions, in striking personifications, in the loftiest exercises of the imagination. On the whole, we may well adopt the criticism of Lowth, which declares it " poetry, than which the human mind can conceive nothing more elevated, more beautiful, or more elegant ; in which the almost ineffable sublimity of the subject is fully equalled by the energy of the language and the dignity of the style.” So great a contrariety exists between Oriental and Occidental habits and associations, that the figurative phraseology of the Hebrews presents extreme difficulty to the interpreter. Their images are drawn, of course, mostly from objects of nature, from the arts, and from the manners and customs of society, almost all of which were very different with them from what they are with us; and it is impossible that we should, through any study, enter so fully into their life as to receive the same impressions which they received from their poetry. The severest effort can only approach such a result.
We now turn more particularly to the contents of the volume which has given occasion for the general remarks we have made on Hebrew poetry. It consists of an Introduction of somewhat more than fifty pages, a Translation of the Psalms, occupying over two hundred more, and Notes at the conclusion, to which nearly one hundred pages are devoted. In the first edition of the work the Notes were not collected in a body by themselves, but were placed as appendages of