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and to feel her inner spirit," will hardly commend itself to those who have made trial of this to any extent. But enough. These are but illustrations of the many singular utterances of Mr. Mallock, in regard to Romanism. There is, in fact, little which he says in defence. of that peculiar system called Catholicism, that is not open to objection, though, as already intimated, he is in it blindly feeling for something higher and better. It cannot be conceded that he has really advanced anything new in support of that system. Minds at all familiar with Catholic apologetics will recognize the old arguments of church infallibility, the dangers of individualism, the inadequacy of the Bible, merely somewhat decked out to suit modern taste. All that is advanced has been elsewhere more elaborately and ably presented, notably in S. Baring-Gould's Origin and Development of Religious Belief, Part II. of which, entitled Christianity, bears a strong resemblance to Mr. Mallock's book, in its advocacy of Catholicism. In this connection, a brief extract from a letter of Charles Kingsley's, written in 1849, to a young man about going over to the Church of Rome, may not be inappropriate, as concluding the consideration of this subject: * * * * “God made man in His image, not in an imaginary Virgin Mary's image. And do not fancy that you will really get any spiritual gain by going over. very devotional system which will educe and develope the souls of people born and bred up under it, and cast constitutionally and by hereditary association, into its mould, will only prove a dead, leaden, crushing weight on an Englishman, who has, as you have, tasted from his boyhood the liberty of the Spirit of God. You will wake, my dear brother, you will wake, not altogether, but just enough to find yourself not believing in Romish doctrines about saints and virgins, absolution, and indulgencies, but only believing in believing them—an awful, an infinite difference, on which I beseech you earnestly to meditate. You will find yourself crushing the voice of conscience, common-sense, and humanity-I mean the voice of God within you, in order to swallow down things at which your gorge rises in disgust. You will find the Romish practice as different from the Romish ideal as the English is from the English ideal, and you will find amid all your discontents and doubts,
ARTICLE II.-NEW ENGLAND POETRY OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.
It is an old and common saying, that the earliest literature of a people appears in the form of poetry. The bards and minstrels begin to sing, long before the historians and philosophers enter upon their sober and stately work. Homer was the bright morning star, heralding the long and splendid day of Grecian literature and art. Centuries before the great scholars of Germany started upon their learned activities, the Nibelungenlied, with its wild tales of love and war, had been sounding out from the cold forests of the north.
But while this may stand, as a kind of fixed law, with races, passing on from a semi-barbarous state, toward a high civilization; the case is quite otherwise with nations, which grow up from colonies, transplanted from civilized lands, to rude and inhospitable shores. Here the earliest movements, so far as the finer forms of literature are concerned, will, almost inevitably, be retrograde. The early life of such colonies is so intensely practical, the struggle with wild nature is so rough and longcontinued, that poetry, a tender plant, withers under the harsh experiences. It is reserved for the men of a later age, dwelling in quiet ease and security, to catch the romantic aspects of this hard life and sing the deeds of the fathers in fitting and lofty strains.
In the year 1629, when those first ship-loads of Puritans were landing in the Massachusetts Bay and organizing their church at Salem, John Milton was a student in Cambridge University. In that very year, about Christmas time, being then at the age of twenty-one, he wrote his “Ode on the Nativity," which stands, to-day, as one of the choicest gems of English poetry. During the next thirty-five years, while the New England fathers were struggling with the complicated problems of Church and State, subduing an untamed wilderness, and playing a game of diplomacy with the mother country, Milton was writing "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso," till
at length, out of blindness and darkness, came forth the immortal epic, Paradise Lost. Many of the great master pieces of English literature were already old in the infancy of New England. The early books of Spenser's Fairie Queen had been public in the English world for nearly forty years when John Winthrop landed at Charlestown. The early plays of Shakespeare had been upon the stage nearly the same length of time. The Puritans did not probably feed much upon Shakespeare, but the Fairie Queen had nothing in it to demoralize the minds of their children.
The early settlers of New England came therefore from a country already rich in the treasures of literature, and they themselves were not illiterate. Many of them left high and responsible positions in their native land, and not a few of the leading men had enjoyed the thorough culture of the English universities.
Passing by for the present all occasional attempts at poetical production in the early days, we will confine ourselves, at first, only to such efforts in this line as resulted in published volumes.
The first systematic attempt at something like poetry on these New England shores, was when, in 1639, the Puritan fathers of the Massachusetts Bay thought they must have a Psalm Book, native and original. We say something like poetry, for the very conditions of the enterprise forbade all spontaneity and poetical freedom. The good people of that sober age used no hymns in their Sabbath worship, and, if it had been convenient, would much have preferred to sing the Psalms of David precisely as they found them in their Bible. But some rhythmical arrangement was necessary to prevent utter confusion and chaos in their congregational singing. There was a public demand, having all the force of a law, requiring of those who undertook such a task that they should indulge in no flights of fancy, but keep themselves, as near as possible, to the exact words of the original. When the Puritans left England, whatever else might be overlooked, their Bibles were not forgotten. In those Bibles, bound in at the end, were the Psalms, in the version of Sternhold and Hopkins, then in use in the parish churches of England. This metrical version was in a much
more comely shape than the early settlers in the Bay would be likely to give it. But our Fathers had planted their college at Cambridge, in 1638, and the first class of nine members were now entered upon their course of study. They had evidently come to stay, and to build a new Commonwealth in the earth, and what should hinder them from having a Psalm-Book of their own? So, in 1639, the ministers and magistrates chose out three men, whom they deemed fit, and gave this work specially into their hands. The three were Richard Mather of Dorchester, John Eliot of Roxbury, and Thomas Welde, Eliot's colleague in the ministry. These men were of good scholarship and sound judgment, but without any apparent fitness for a work of this peculiar kind. Moreover, the nature of their task compelled them to move in a kind of poetical tread-mill.
Hardly any man of those early New England days handled a more facile and vigorous pen than Richard Mather. Indeed, he became a kind of general scribe in the Bay. From him came the draft of the famous Cambridge Platform, and many other important public papers. John Eliot was a man of good learning, though, intellectually, not the equal of Mather. But his heart was large, his emotional nature strong, and his name is embalmed forever for his self-denying toils in behalf of the wild men of the forest. We know less of Thomas Welde. He came over in 1632 and went back in 1641, no more to return. These men set themselves promptly to the appointed task, and in 1640 produced what is now known among us as the Bay Psalm-Book. This, however, is only a conventional name, used to distinguish that first edition from the revised editions that followed. On the title-page it reads, "The Whole Book of Psalms faithfully translated into English Metre." The book was published the same year (1640) and was the first book printed in New England. Gov. Winthrop, in his journal under date of March, 1639-40, tells us: "A printing house was begun at Cambridge by one Daye, at the charge of Mr. Glover, who died on sea hitherward. The first thing which was printed was the freeman's oath; the next was an almanac for New England, by Mr. William Pierce Mariner; the next was the Psalms, newly turned into metre."
This book had free course for about seven years, when it was
submitted to a revision, under the charge of President Dunster, of Harvard College, who was assisted by Mr. Richard Lyon, a good scholar, fresh over from England. It was doubtless improved by this operation, but was yet exceedingly rough and antique. However it had a wonderful fortune, for in its various revisions and under the general name of the New England Psalm-Book, it passed through an immense number of editions, and held its place in the churches for more than a hundred years. It had, besides, the honor of being extensively used in the dissenting churches of England and Scotland.
Judged by any standards now recognized among us, this piece of work would be called exceedingly coarse and even outlandish. Men setting themselves about such a task as this, would be likely to do as well, at the outset, as they knew how, even though they might afterward make some unfortunate lapses. To show, therefore, how they started off, we will give their translation of the first two verses of the first Psalm :
1. "O blessed man, that in th' advice
of wicked doeth not walk;
nor stand in sinners way, nor sit
2. "But in the law of Iehovah
In the version of
Sternhold and Hopkins, which these wise
and faithful men rejected, we have those grandly rolling lines, as a part of the eighteenth Psalm :
"The Lord descended from above,
and bowed the heavens hie; And underneath his feet he cast
the darknesse of the skie:
On Cherubs and on Cherubims
full royally he rode,
And on the wings of all the windes
But this was too flighty and earthly-minded, not literal enough. So the New England versifiers put it thus:
9. "Likewise the heavens he downe-bow'd
and he descended, and there was
under his feet a gloomy cloud.