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recorded that Sir T. More used to punish all parties concerned in circulating the Scriptures, by obliging them to ride with their heads towards the tails of their horses, and the New Testament, and other books which they had dispersed, hung about their cloaks ; and at the Standard in Cheapside, to throw them into a fire prepared for that purpose.
But the power of the law was not sufficient. Sir Thomas, with the licence of the bishop of London, prepared a dialogue, in which he represented Tyndale as mistranslating three words of very great moment, viz., priests, church, and charity, which the worthy translator had rendered, "seniors, congregation, and love." Tyndale shrunk not from replying to the Lord Chancellor, but his efforts in the great cause of Bible circulation were ill requited by the political authorities of these times. After more than a year and a half's imprisonment, he was strangled, and his body committed to the flames. His last prayer was in behalf of the blind ruler who then wielded the royal sceptre of this country. “Lord, open the king of England's eyes !"
During the next seventy years a variety of translations were undertaken, with more or less success. But the great effort which resulted in the production of the Authorised Version, was made in the reign of James I. This translation was prescribed by royal mandate. James appointed fiftyfour learned men to perform the work, but before it was began, seven of the persons named were either dead or had declined the task. The list given by Fuller consists only of forty-seven names. Ten of the number translated from the beginning of the Scriptures to the end of the second book of Kings. The next eight finished the other historical books, and the Hagiographa. Seven more were to translate the four greater prophets, the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and the minor prophets, twelve in number. Another party of eight had assigned them the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Apocalypse.
To seven more the king assigned the translation of the Apostolic Epistles. And finally, to the remaining seven, the
Apocryphal books, including the Prayer of Manasseh. Each party scrutinized the work of all the rest; and to this, in a great measure, is owing the extraordinary accuracy of the authorized version of the Sacred Scriptures. The work was commenced in 1607; the translators were three years in completing it. This translation was published in the year 1611: and all parties admit it to be a work of great merit. Seldom has any individual appeared who was more capable of appreciating such a work than the learned Selden. Now this distinguished man says, “ The English translation of the Bible is the best translation in the world, and renders the sense of the original best, taking in for the English translation the Bishops' Bible as well as King James's. The Bible is rather translated into English words than into English phrase. The Hebraisms are kept, and the phrase of that language is kept."
LETTERS TO THE YOUNG.- No, 18.
THE POETRY OF COWPER. My dear young Friends---Allow me once more, very sincerely, to wish you a happy New Year.” It is a long time since my last letter appeared in this Magazine. Some of you may have inquired, as a person did some months ago, in writing to me, if Uncle Joseph is dead. Others, who have not entirely forgotten him, may say, as a friend did in a letter that I saw yesterday, “ I am looking every month for Uncle Joseph's long-promised letter on The Poetry of Cowper.” It is many months since I wrote a letter on the subject for you, but various causes have operated to prevent me from copying and sending it to the Editor. Perhaps, however, the remark holds true in this, as well as other matters, “ Better late than never.”
You will, I dare say, remember that several of my former letters were on the Poetry of Milton. I have reason to know that those letters were read with interest by many of the subscribers to the “Juvenile Companion,"
and I hope what I have now to say on
“ The Poetry of Cowper,” will be welcomed with equal kindness.
These two great and good men, Milton and Cowper, were in some respects alike, though in others they were very much unlike one another. They are each highly distinguished and favourite poets. Milton belongs to the very highest class, and if Cowper occupies a lower place, it is still one of very great eminence. Milton's poetry is profoundly admired, that of Cowper is very sincerely loved. They are each secure of immortality. Cowper was a bard of no ordinary excellency, beauty, and power; but he would have shrunk from comparison with our geatest epic poet, as his sensitive nature shrunk from a prominent and foremost place in the stern battle-field of life. Milton was made to command and to conquer—to do hard, earnest, manly work. He was an entire stranger to nervous fear. His mind was never prostrated. He deeply loved his study and his books, and serene converse with the spirit of the woods, the meadows, and the waters. He loved the haunts of the Muses; but if duty called him, he could leave “
a quiet solitude fed by peaceful thoughts,” and, putting the trumpet to his mouth, he could "blow a dolorous, and a jarring blast ;” and, approaching the helm of his country's affairs, became Latin Secretary in earnest and stirring times, for the greatest man that ever ruled England.” Cowper was, alas ! unable to maintain mental quiet when called upon to occupy a subordinate place in the British legislature. Milton was equally at home at the counciltable of glorious , old Oliver, or in his own study. Cowper's congenial home was the quiet town of Olney. It was there that he was most in his element, in the midst of domestic comforts, feeding his tame hares, cultivating flowers, writing his inimitable letters, and his pensive and beautiful poetry. The following characteristic lines give us a clear insight into Cowper's gentle and shrinking soul
“ 'Tis pleasant, through the loopholes of retreat,
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd ;.
Both were true patriots—both loved their country, both had a strong sympathy with the oppressed and the suffering—both hurled their anathemas at the heads of tyrants—both were men of piety and men of God. They were each, in a subordinate but important sense, prophets to their own and succeeding ages. Milton reminds us of Isaiah ; Cowper brings to our minds the “weeping prophet.” Their piety, though equally sincere, reflects the peculiar temperaments of each. Milton's was akin to the glowing and seraphic ardour of Abdiel, the dreadless angel; Cowper's was that of the “stricken deer that left the herd.” They were each blessed with pious and excellent parents; and while Milton pays special homage to the his father, not forgetting his good mother-Cowper remembers with characteristic tenderness and gratitude the affectionate fondness of his mother. How finely and tenderly does Cowper pour out his heart's sympathies in those most touching of his verses—the Lines written on the receipt of his Mother's Picture. As the piece so finely exhibits the character of the man, and manifests feelings that Uncle Joseph would like his young friends to cherish, I shall here quote some short extracts from it, earnestly commending the whole poem to your
attention. We can fancy the poet's pensive eyes reverently fixed on the portrait of his sainted mother, as he thus begins his immortal tribute to her memory and worth“() that those lips had language ! Life has pass'd With me but roughly since I heard thee last. Those lips are thine-thy own sweet smile I see, The same that oft in childhood solaced me; Voice only fails, else how distinct they say, • Grieve not, my child, chase all thy fears away!'
My mother! when I learn'd that thou wast dead,
Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed ? Hover'd thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son, Wretch even then, life's journey just begun ? Perhaps thou gavest me, though unfelt, a kiss ; Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss-Ah, that maternal smile! it answers—Yes.' He then runs over, with touching beauty and pathetic tenderness, the various acts that his tenacious memory had cherished
of her maternal care and love. He follows his sainted mother to the world of bliss where she is gone, and where her husband had followed her; and, anticipating a meeting there, though his hopes are not unclouded, he says
“My boast is not, that I deduce my birth
The son of parents pass'd into the skies.” We think of Milton, as the sublimest and grandest; of Cowper, as the most amiable and tender of the sons of men. They have, we doubt not, met in that brighter and more glorious world; and are united in singing song."
I shall now, my young friends, endeavour to give you a short sketch of the life of Cowper, as I did in the case of Milton.
One reads a man's books with greater interest when acquainted with his character and life. There are some who never read the preface of a book. Uncle Joseph never omits it. He likes to see what kind of a bow an author makes to his readers. He also likes to see what the writer himself thinks of his own production, and to learn from the preface what he can of the man whose book he is about to read. Now then, my dear friends, for something about Cowper. This letter, while remembering that he was a poet, and giving some specimens of his poetry, will be, after all, little more than a preface to the next letter, in which I shall endeavour to point out some of the principal characteristics of the Poetry of Cowper.