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• He lived a lowly life in lowly home
That he must stand with them on level ground.'-P. 16. If this is indeed so, how is it that the poor, in town and village both, while, too often choosing to attend the public ministrations of dissenting preachers, itinerant and others, of much their own class of life, in all times of spiritual and temporal trouble look naturally to their lawful pastor for sympathy, in spite of his better house, higher style of living, and acknowledged difference of social position. Ernest eschewed all domestic ties for reasons which we cannot quote without expressing our own sense of their fallacy.
"We cannot serve two masters : in-door life
The home beloved and clung to-often tends
On whom 'tis bound.'—P. 41. Of his own spiritual warfare we have the following ascetic picture :
· His war was true: no mimic warrior he,
To talk of Christian battle as a tale,
Told that the strife of vivid mental woe
The rest of heaven were his,'-P. 35. Now we are not going to enter into any theological questionings upon this passage. It is as a point of nature that we would treat it, and we maintain that asceticism of this quality is incompatible with an intense love of nature and a life out of doors, as a country pastor's may be described to be, and as Ernest's was. There is a natural connexion between country objects, when observed and appreciated, and cheerfulness. It is not that our mortal state and our eternal prospects have not their gloomy aspects, and that the heart may not find arguments for despondency, but with the lovers of nature cheerful views carry the day, They look about them, and every object tells of God's goodness, and without reasoning upon it they accept the omen. It is the . leaden eye that loves the ground,' that turns inward to contemplate the plague of its own heart; and it argues a diseased temperament and stricken heart, which none but the Heavenly Physician Himself can heal, to look abroad with a poet's, and a painter's, and a christian's admiration, and yet find no relief from care. When Cowper found himself uncheered by Nature, then he realized his evil case, for he knew it to be contrary to the experience of mankind. Our readers will excuse our recalling to them lines so beautiful in their dejection :
• Oh happy shades! to me unblest,
Friendly to peace, but not to me,
And heart that cannot rest, agree!
Those alders quivering to the breeze,
And please, if anything could please.
· But fix'd, unalterable care
Foregoes not what she feels within,
And slights the season and the scene.' The ascetic of real life does not begin his morning like Ernest, who
• Often when the flush of early dawn
• He would forth along the humble hedgerow, on the path
Some unsubjected passion of the day.' His penances are all within-doors, or with eyes wrapt in a trance, seeing as though they saw not. "What need to tell,' writes S. Basil, from his hermitage, of the exhalations from the * earth, or the breezes from the river? Another might admire the "multitude of flowers and singing-birds, but leisure I have none • for such thoughts. We have dwelt thus long upon this objection because we feel the character, which is the soul and mainspring of all that follows, to be altogether an unreal one: and a mere fancy sketch, borrowed from no inodel of either past or present time, is not likely to be of much utility either for instruction or example, and may do harm if it accustoms the mind to regard, in a merely sentimental way, things of such close practical importance. Sentimentality is, in fact, the bane of a book, which, at first sight, and for its professed principles, might seem to demand our sympathy and full approval. "Things are nowhere • like this,' we say to ourselves; 'these are not real village • children; not real poor people; not real youths and maidens;
the real victims of seduction are not simple and artless like • these;' and so we question on through the book; and in little things it is the same; for the sake of effect all sorts of improbabilities are indulged in. Daffodils form part of a Whitsuntide garland. The girls and women of an English village have all their boddice blue,' which it is a test of virtue to persist in. The dull period of middle life is ignored. Girls of sixteen have aged parents, and the youthful bride, an only child of twenty, is decked out by her mother, who
"Poor old soul, 'twixt tears and smiles, Could scarcely guide her palsied hand
To fix the boddice true.' Indeed, this wedding scene altogether is more after the fashion of · The Maid of the Oak,' or some such specimen of the genteel
and probabilit it is a male's, for det erted by
opera to be found in the play-books of the last century, than what any eye can have seen in England off the stage. And yet the object of the story is a good one, advocating the importance of distinguishing and dignifying the marriage rite. There is another pair of youthful lovers, Walter and Nanny,' whose happy marriage and subsequent melancholy fate we trust are as much matter of fancy as these rustic groupings, and the inexpressible maudlin of Walter's own courtship. We cannot believe, though the preface does say that the narratives are drawn in most cases from fact, that a young couple who have been brought up in the bosom of the Church, the subject of all her ordinances, constant at her services, deeply religious, frugal, industrious, and marrying not imprudently, should be conipelled in less than two years to go to the Union, where very soon Walter and the babe die. This, we feel convinced, is a greater sin against probability than any we have yet quoted. We hope and believe that it is a rare thing in England, and impossible in such a village as Ernest's, for any one who has led a religious life in our Church to be so far deserted by her wealthier members as to be left to die in alien scenes, objects of an unwilling charity. We cannot think that the example of those early disciples, who held not anything they possessed as their own, can be so far unheeded. We have faith that the saint's experience in God's older dispensation still holds good in Gospel times, and that we, too, may say:
*I have been young and now am old, yet saw I never the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread.
It is at the christening of this very Walter that some expressions are used on the subject of baptism which seem to us unguarded. The most strenuous maintainer of the doctrine of baptismal regeneration never yet said that the gift of perseverance is necessarily one of the Holy Spirit's gifts in that ordinance. No one can say it: it is bad enough to have to admit that there are some who, in the heat of an extempore effusion, and to give point to an eloquent philippic, will charge their opponents with this absurdity. If such persons pointed their charge with the following lines they would have more authority for what they say than we have hitherto given them credit for. We quote the first passage in connexion with the second; for as Walter died in the faith, it may be only prospectively of his known end that the words are used:
• In darkness Jesus died, in darkness rose,
In the next, Ernest is musing over the event of the day on his return homeward after partaking of the christening cheer:
• He left the happy group with earnest prayer
That He would bless and guard yon sleeping child,
Whom He that day had made His own for aye.'—P. 307. But in spite of our resolutions we are verging again on the confines of theology. The Parish' contains some happy descriptions of village scenery, which we would gladly have extracted had our limits permitted, some passages of earnest devotion to the services and the system of our Church, and some scenes of human interest expressed with feeling and tenderness, though wanting in that severe truth which experience in parochial work might have been expected to give, even to the exclusion of grace and ornament.
It is time to bring our remarks, both general and particular, to a close. Having supplied our readers with such various examples of the powers and tone of thought of the versewriters of the hour, it is for them to judge how far these may be regarded as foreshadowings of what the future may have in store for us; if in any sense we may esteem them as heralds announcing the coming of the time's great want, what alone is needed to crown our proud age in unapproached completeness
a great poet.