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extravagant fancies for the sense of the Hebrew Scriptures ; and, unfortunately, the teachers of Christianity seem, at a very early period, to have been led astray by their example. In the epistle ascribed to Barnabas, which, whoever was its author, was certainly written in the second century, we find an exposition of Levit. xx. 24, a verse in which the Israelites are promised possession of Canaan, 'a land flowing with milk and honey.' This promise was, judice Barnaba, a call to believe on the Messiah, who, by becoming man, a son of Adam, whose origin was of the earth, allied himself to the earth ; and who saves those that believe in him, by making the naturally barren earth a fruitful soil, a land flowing with milk and honey. Christians are this goodly land. This figure he follows out at great length, and is so delighted with his ingenuity as to exclaim, Blessed be the Lord, who hath endowed us with wisdom, and the understanding of his hidden things. During a series of years longer than the Apocalyptic period, such was the style of scriptural exposition generally prevalent. It outlived the darkness that preceded the Reformation, and was cultivated by protestant doctors of considerable name. John Cocceius, who in his time had a host of followers, and is even in the present day respectfully looked up to by many as a safe guide, held it to be a fundamental principle of interpretation that, ' Sacri codicis dicta ea significant omnia que significare possunt. We live in a better day, in an age of greater hope and promise. The canons of right interpretation are now firmly established; they are becoming better known; and by many we find them successfully applied. The volumes before us are the work of a good scripture expositor. The purpose for which Dr. Brown's discourses were originally written, precludes verbal criticism, or what may be called strict grammatical comment, in the form, or to the extent, in which we meet with it in the expository works of Grotius, Koppe, Fritsche, and others, who write expressly for persons who have had a classical education. But though we have not the thing in form, we have a good deal of it in reality: we have not the process, but we are always furnished with the results.
Art. III.-The Poetical Works of William Motherwell. With Memoir.
By James M'Connechy, Esq. Second Edition, Enlarged. Glasgow :
David Robertson. London : Longman and Co. The late William Motherwell occupies no mean place among the minor poets of our country. He did not burn with the radiance
of a luminary of the first magnitude, nor revolve in those lofty spheres in which genius finds its appropriate orbit. Yet while
one star differeth from another in glory, each has a lustre peculiar to itself, and none can be spared from the heavens. The eye cannot always gaze on superior brilliance, it is dazzled and fatigued, and turns away, and rests with delight on 'skiey gems,' of fainter splendour and humbler position. Men like Motherwell, who know their own mission and fulfil it, are not less to be honoured than those who command a wider influence, and reap a richer harvest.
Who does the best his circumstance permits,
Does well, acts nobly,-angels could no more, Whatever were Motherwell's talents, they were assiduously cultivated, as far as his condition in life and his vocations permitted. His poems were not spontaneous effusions, poured out in inexhaustible fecundity, and rich variety, and with the fascinating charm of a graceful negligence. Nature was not so bountiful to him. Whatever he wrote was carefully and highly elaborated. His choice of words and selection of imagery, were made slowfully and cautiously, not from sudden impulse, but from a sagacious and disciplined preference. We mean not to say, that his composition was cold and artificial, or in any respect a spasmodic attempt to rise above his powers. But he felt that pains-taking was essential to his success, and that the labor limãe brought its own reward, in that exquisite refinement and polish, which distinguish the best of his poems.
Motherwell possessed the requisite qualifications of a poet. He was a man of deep feeling, vivid imagination, and cultivated taste, so that in the construction of an ode or ballad, fancy clothed itself in transparent diction, and pathos was often expressed in faultless rhythm-'music married to immortal verse.' His stanzas are not wild, abrupt and glowing, but calm, harmonious and chaste, often pensive and tender. In his imitations of the ancient minstrelsy of the North, some of which are bold and stirring, his spirit has not flung itself into the fury of Scandinavian rhapsody; there is method in his madness,' a consciousness of self-restraint labours beneath the studied exhibition of that warlike glee, and unearthly furor which possessed the Runic bards. Yet he did much in unpropitious circumstances.
Apprenticed in early life to the legal profession, in a provincial town, he had well-nigh been transferred into a scribbling automaton, covering paper with a profusion of words, in which it felt little interest and less satisfaction. But mental power can scarcely ever be wholly repressed. The little pen-holder shewed himself possessed both of mind and taste. In course of time
Ferocity ware his favour Hoary lee he had a he Hould
he came to hold an inferior legal office, that of sheriff clerk depute, an office which in troublous times, and in such a town as Paisley, is necessarily occupied with political offences, and the preservation of public order. Motherwell was always fond of antique lore, and through the warmth of his love for things that were, became a tory of the first water, and peculiarly obnoxious to the Paisley radicals. About the years 1818–19-20, great political excitement prevailed in the west of Scotland, and government fomented it by its infamous spy-system. Motherwell's office exposed him sometimes to danger, and he became the sworn antagonist of all that wore the aspect of liberalism. Still he gave his mind to literature, and occasionally published the results of his leisure hours. After seventeen years spent in such uncongenial employment, he accepted the editorship of the Glasgow Courier,-a conservative journal,—where he continued for five years, till death suddenly seized him. It is a strange phenomenon, to witness such depth of quiet feeling, such generous sympathies, such poetical ardour, such tenderness and grace dwelling in the bosom of one who, as a public journalist, was proverbial for his rabid toryism, and for the truculence and ferocity which marked his warfare as a political partisan. Old things were his favourites; he preferred Holinshed and Stowe to Hume and Hallam ; hoary legends, and wild traditions, had for him a peculiar fascination, and he had a firm belief in spectres and supernatural visitants. In short, he would have been quite prepared to join young England, a party only redeemed from contempt by the philanthropy and talents of some of its adherents. His mind laboured under these diseased illusions, and became conservative in feeling, from being antiquarian in tendency and pursuit. Hence too, it happened, as his biographer has remarked, that one of his most prominent defects as a Tyrical poet, is the assumption—for it was no more-of a morbid feeling respecting the world and its ways.
But it is as a poet, and not as a politician, that we now write of him. We might enrich our pages with many lovely extracts from his various productions. We cannot place his imitations of Norse Minstrelsy so high as his biographer,—though certainly the 'Battle Flag of Sigurd' possesses no ordinary fire and vigour Lit is bold, free, chivalrous and wild, and deserves a place next the 'Fatal Sisters,' and the 'Descent of Odin.' But we admire the bard most in his soft and pensive pieces, in which there breathes the very spirit of gentleness and love. The finer sensibilities of his nature are excited, and low, murmuring music ascends from the vibrating 'cords of love.
But the ballad of 'Jeanie Morrison' is of itself enough to immortalize him. Admiring critics have often eulogized it.
Thought, feeling, imagery and diction are all serenely beautiful; homely, indeed, but truthful, — the mirrored reminiscence of early fancies and feelings. We trust its classic Scotch will not prevent its being understood and relished :
I've wandered east, I've wandered west,
Through mony a weary way;
The luve o' life's young day!
May weel be black gin Yule;
Where first fond luve grows cule.
The thochts o' bygane years
And blind my een wi' tears ;
And sair and sick I pine,
The blithe blinks o' langsyne.
'Twas then we twa did part ;
Twa bairns, and but ae heart !
To leir ilk ither dear;
When sitting on that bink,
What our wee heads could think?
Wi' ae buik on our knee,
My lesson was in thee.
How cheeks brent red wi' shame,
We cleek'd thegither hame?
(The scule then skail't at noon),
The broomy braes o’ June?
The throssil whusslit in the wood,
The burn sang to the trees,
For hours thegither sat
Wi' very gladness grat.
Tears trinkled doun your cheek,
Had ony power to speak!
When hearts were fresh and young,
Gin I hae been to thee,
As ye hae been to me?
Thine ear as it does mine ;
Wi' dreamings o' langsyne?
I've borne a weary lot ;
Ye never were forgot.
Still travels on its way;
The luve o' life's young day.
Since we were sindered young,
The music o'your tongue;
And happy could I die,
O' bygane days and me!-p. 37.
We are sure that this edition of 'Motherwell's Collected Poems, some of which are printed for the first time, will meet its due reward. It deserves a wide and speedy sale. The poet's life, prefixed, is a judicious and discriminating memoir.