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delight. He had the manliness to trust to the simplest expression of his genuine and habitual feelings ; and his power over the sympathies of his readers justifies this boldness. Grahame indeed appears to have been totally indifferent to the arti. ficial graces of poetic diction; hence his versification approaches nearer to the Hebrew poetry than to classic models, not indeed in strength and grandeur, but in directness and nervous simplicity. His numerous Hebraisms are so many beauties ; for what style can be so well adapted to the devout poet as that of scripture ?
If we accept strictly of Bacon's definition of poetry,—“ The shews of things accommodated to the desires of the mind,”- -We must altogether exclude Grahame from Parnassus ; for he has invented almost nothing ; and has never once dressed his “ truths severe in fairy fiction.” Truth was the very essence of his mind. In the many exquisite pictures of external nature which he has sketched, there is no exaggeration, no ideality, no artful interposition of the atmosphere to mellow the effect,no poetical haze. They are faithful resemblances of real scenes and modes of existence, which he could delineate with more graphic fidelity than other poets, not because he had more power, but because he loved them better, and had lingered over them longer, and with truer and warmer sympathy. Grahame's subjects are not selected by the eye of an imaginative poet, but by the simple instincts of a compassionate and genial heart. To this exceed
ing softness of disposition, this benevolence “to man and beast,” and exquisite enjoyment of the simple charms of nature, was added the finest spirit of nationality—a highly poetical quality in any descriptive writer. His works are imbued with this spirit. He had wandered in the wild loneliness of the midland moors and glens of Scotland, listening to her songs of ancient times, and her religious chronicles, and noting the pious and affectionate habits of her peasantry, till his mind was filled with picturesque images of the people and their landscape, and their virtues and kindnesses; and overflowed in poetry worthy of the subject. There are writers who have embodied those images with greater power and amplitude, but none with more sensibility or stronger moral effect. The fine excess of this national feel. ing has at times almost raised the sober muse of Grahame into the regions of romantic poetry ; but his knights are the grey-haired patriarchs of the upland hamlets_his heroes that illustrious band of peasant martyrs whose glory he has commemorat. ed, and whose memories he has embalmed in the richest strains of his verse. But though the structure of his poetry be thus simple, it has many peculiar beauties. It exhales no “ rich distilled perfume;" but the evening odour of the bean-field and the fragrance of the birch breathe freely around it. Its flowers and fruits are gleaned in haste in the forest, or at random on the moors ; but the dew and the bloom are fresh and sparkling on those wildings. They have the race of the soil, and will by
many be prized more than the gayest cultivated varieties of the garden.
The author of THE SABBATH has one strong feature in common with Cowper-and that is, an utter loathing of affectation and pretence, whether in expression, image, or sentiment. He dwells in no
Raptures conjured up To serve occasions of poetic pomp.” Grahame never condescends to sport and dally with his subject as the author of The Task has sometimes so delightfully done; but if he wants Cowper's English humour and gay gleams of playful fancy, he is also without his gloom and austerity. His faith was as pure and as fervent; but his mental health was sounder, and his course of life more happy than that of his illustrious prototype, who often, in the midst of surely very harmless gaiety, abruptly breaks away like an ascetic, suddenly stung with the sin of having, in smiling, transgressed the superstitious rule of his order. In the moral character of all Grahame's writings there is the sober and sustained gravity, which, if not indispensable, well becomes the poet of Christianity. There are no bursts of overstrained passion,mno wild impulses of overpowering genius,—all is the calm consistent dignity and sweetness which are essential to the really useful sacred poet. If he had force to wield " the satiric thong,” his nature was too gentle and too relenting for its frequent application.
THE SABBATH, the first work of Grahame, affords one of the happiest subjects which a religious poet could select. It is the day of the Son of MAN,—the day of the Lord, which He has blessed and hallowed; it is one of the most distinctive features of the Christian system,-a finer instrument for ameliorating even the civil condition of mankind than ever was devised by human wisdom :
“ Did ever law of man a power like this
A miracle !
In every region.” THE SABBATH is emphatically called by our poet, “ The Poor Man's Day;” and what an whelming majority” of all the men whom God has made, are, in this sense, poor men! Any attempt to set aside the moral obligation of this day is an infringement of that birthright of which their Bible is the charter. How many poetical and picturesque circumstances mingle with the weekly return, and religious and social observances of the Sabbath ! On that blessed day the axe ceases to ring in the primeval forests of America. The Scottish exile sits down on the felled trees and sings,
“ By Babel's streams we sat and wept.” The felon of New Holland wipes the sweat from his brow, and has leisure to think on his own lost land, - the field-slave in the West Indian colonies enjoys his weekly jubilee, there is a pause from worldly
toils and worldly cares in the remotest quarter of the globe to which Christian nations have ever sent a mission or a colony. Of many of those attendant circumstances the poet has availed himself with the tenderness, delicacy, and benevolence, so consonant to his amiable mind,--and particularly in describing the “ frugal meal” of the day-labourer, socially enjoyed on the Sabbath with his family,_the morning saunter of the “ pale mechanic” up the river's bank,- the church-bells, - the gathering groups of humble worshippers,—the aged men, the bowed down,—the blind,”—“the Sabbath service of the shepherd boy,”—and the meditation at even-tide of " the grey-haired man, the father, and the priest.” The compass of English poetry does not contain sweeter or more touching pictures than these.
In the SABBATH WALKS, placid description is blended with endearing sentiment, and that strain of sober moralizing which naturally rises from the subject to a good man's mind. The warmth of the grateful exclamation of the poet in the Summer Sabbath Walk, comes from the depth of his own feelings, and touches the inmost recesses of our sympathies :
66 Sweet the thought-heart-soothing thought, That thousands, and ten thousands of the sons Of toil, partake this day the common joy Of rest, of peace, of viewing hill and dale, Of breathing in the silence of the woods, And blessing him who gave the Sabbath-day. Yes, my heart flutters with a freer throb,