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Sabbath Morning-'The Sabbath,' by James Grahame-Sketch of his Life-Extracts from his Poetry-The Cameronians— 'Dream of the Martyrs,' by James Hislop-Sabbath Morning Walk-Country Church-The old Preacher-The Interval of Worship-Conversation in the Churchyard-Going Home from Church-Sabbath Evening.
SABBATH morning dawns upon us, bright and clear, and all around a hushed stillness pervades the air.
"With silent awe I hail the sacred morn,
That scarcely wakes while all the fields are still;
Thus sang Leyden, the celebrated scholar, poet, and traveller, who, like all true sons of Scotland, revered the holy Sabbath, regarding it as the best of days, the sweetest, purest, calmest of the seven! The same images, borrowed not from Leyden, but from nature and his own heart, are used by Grahame, in his delightful poem of The Sabbath,' a
production not without defects, but one of the most
popular in Scotland.
"How still the morning of the hallowed day!
The ploughboy's whistle and the milkmaid's song.
The voice of psalm, the simple song of praise."
The Rev. James Grahame, the author of 'The Sabbath,'The Birds of Scotland,' Biblical Pictures,' and so forth, was born in 1765, in the city of Glasgow. He studied law, but afterwards took orders in the Church of England, and officiated as curate in the counties of Gloucester and Durham. He is said to have been a popular and useful preacher. Possessed of great simplicity of character, purity of morals, and kindness of heart, he won the affections of all his parishioners. Suffering from ill health, he gave up his curacy, and returned to Scotland, where he acted, we believe, as a school-teacher. His poems, particularly that of The Sabbath,' attracted much attention in his native land, which he dearly loved. A deep re
ligious vein pervades the whole. Attached to the ritual of his own church, he could yet. appreciate the solemn hill worship' of the Covenanters. His descriptions of Scottish scenery are accurate and beautiful. His Sabbath is the Sabbath of Scotland. All its pictures are drawn from real life. His verse may seem prosaic at times, but it is melodious as a whole. Nothing can be more natural or agreeable, in its easy gentle flow. Moreover, it often sparkles with original turns of thought, and felicitous expressions.
An interesting anecdote is told of Grahame in connection with the publication of 'The Sabbath.' He had finished the poem, and sent it to the press unknown to his wife. When it was issued he brought her a copy, and requested her to read it. As his name was not prefixed to the work, she did not dream that he had anything to do with it. As she went on reading, the sensitive author walked up and down the room. At length she broke out in praise of the poem, and turning to him said: "Ah! James, if you could but produce a poem like this." Judge then of her delighted surprise when told that he was its author. The effect upon her is said to have been almost overwhelming.
After describing the solemn and delightful worship of God's house, particularly the music, ascending in a thousand notes symphonious,' he touchingly adds:
"Afar they float,
Wafting glad tidings to the sick man's couch:
Yet thinks he hears it still: his heart is cheered;
His description of the shepherd boy's Sabbath worship among the hills is a passage of great beauty.
"It is not only in the sacred fane
That homage should be paid to the Most High;
At intervals heard through the breezeless air;
Nor yet less pleasing at the heavenly throne,
And wonders why he weeps: the volume closed,
The sacred lays, his weekly lesson conned
Where humble love is learnt, where humble worth
The hill worship of the Covenanters is also described with much beauty and pathos.
"With them each day was holy, every hour
To death-old men, and youths, and simple maids.
On which the angel said, 'See where the Lord
Was laid,' joyous arose-to die that day
Was bliss. Long ere the dawn, by devious ways,
O'er hills, through woods, o'er dreary wastes, they sought
The upland moors, where rivers, there but brooks
A little glen is sometimes scooped, a plat
With greensward gay, and flowers that strangers seem