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Pure panic terrors of the blind.

Collect thy soul unto one sphere
Of light, and 'bove the earth it rear ;
Those wild scattered thoughts that erst
Lay loosely in the world dispersed,
Call in : — thy spirit thus knit in one
Fair lucid orb, those fears be gone
Like vain impostures of the night,
That fly before the morning bright.
Then with pure eyes thou shalt behold
How the first goodness doth infold
All things in loving tender arms ;
That deemed mischiefs are no harms,
But sovereign salves and skilful cures
Of greater woes the world endures ;
That man's stout soul may win a state
Far raised above the reach of fate.

Then wilt thou say, God rtdes the world^
Though mountain over mountain hurled
Be pitched amid the foaming main
Which busy winds to wrath constrain ;

♦ « » *

Though pitchy blasts from hell up-born

Stop the outgoings of the morn.

And Nature play her fiery games

In this forced night, with fulgurant flames :

* * * •

All this confusion cannot move

The purged mind, freed from the love

Of commerce with her body dear.

Cell of sad thoughts, sole spring of fear,

Whate'er I feel or hear or see
Threats but these parts that mortal be;
Nought can the honest heart dismay
Unless the love of living clay,


And long acquaintance with the light
Of this out world, and what to sight
Those two officious beams 1 discover
Of forms that round about us hover.

Power, wisdom, goodness, sure did frame
This universe, and still guide the same.
But thoughts from passions sprung, deceivt
Vain mortals. No man can contrive
A better course than what's been run
Since the first circuit of the sun.

He that beholds all from on high
Knows better what to do than I.
I'm not mine own : should I repine
If he dispose of what's not mine ?
Purge but thy soul of blind self-will, .
Thou straight shalt see God doth no ill.
The world he fills with the bright rays
Of his free goodness. He displays
Himself throughout. Like common air
That spirit of life through all doth fare,
Sucked in by them as vital breath
That willingly embrace not death.
But those that with that living law
Be unacquainted, cares do gnaw ;
Mistrust of God's good providence
Doth daily vex their wearied sense.

Now place me on the Libyan soil.
With scorching sun and sands to toil,
Far from the view of spring or tree.
Where neither man nor house I see ;
« * * «

Commit me at my next remove

To icy Hyperborean ove ;

Confine me to the arctic pole,

Where the numb'd heavens do slowly roll ;

1 It is the light of the soul going out from the eyes, as certainly
the light of the world coming in at the eyes that makes things seen.

S.L. IV. Q


To lands where cold raw heavy mist

Sol's kindly warmth and light resists ;

Where lowering clouds full fraught with snow

Do sternly scowl ; where winds do blow

With bitter blasts, and pierce the skin,

Forcing the vital spirits in,

Which leave the body thus ill bested,

In this chill plight at least half-dead ;

Yet by an antiperistasis i

My inward heat more kindled is ;

And while this flesh her breath expires,

My spirit shall suck celestial fires

By deep-fetched sighs and pure devotion.

Thus waxen hot with holy motion,

At once I'll break forth in a flame ;

Above this world and worthless fame

I'll take my flight, careless that men

Know not how, where I die, or when.

Yea, though the soul should mortal prove,

So be God's life but in me move

To my last breath — I'm satisfied

A lonesome mortal God to have died.

This last paragraph is magnificent as any single
passage I know in literature.

Is it lawful, after reading this, to wonder whethe\
Henry More, the retired, and so far untried, student
of Cambridge, would have been able thus to meet
the alternations of suffering which he imagines .•* It
is one thing to see reasonableness, another to be
reasonable when objects have become circumstances.
Would he, then, by spiritual might, have risen indeed
above bodily torture t It is possible for a man to
arrive at this perfection ; it is absolutely necessary
that a man should some day or other reach it ; and

^ The action by which a body attacked collects force by oppositif^"


I think the wise doctor would have proved the
truth of his principles. But there are many who
would gladly part with their whole bodies rather than
offend, and could not yet so rise above the invasions
of the senses. Here, as in less important things, our
business is not to speculate what we would do in
other circumstances, but to perform the duty of the
moment, the one true preparation for the duty to
come. Possibly, however, the right development of
our human relations in the world may be a more
difficult and more important task still than this con-
dition of divine alienation. To find God in others
is better than to grow solely in the discovery of him
in ourselves, if indeed the latter were possible.


Good God, when thou thy inward grace dost shower
Into my breast,
How full of light and lively power
Is then my soul !
How am I blest !
How can I then all difficulties devour !
Thy might,
Thy spright,
With ease my cumbrous enemy control

If thou once turn away thy face and hide
Thy cheerful look,
My feeble flesh may not abide

That dreadful stound ; hour.

I cannot brook
Thy absence. My heart, with care and grief then gride,

* Cut roughly through.

Q 2


Doth fail,
Doth quail ;
My life steals from me at that hidden woaud.

My fancy's then a burden to my mind ;
Mine anxious thought
Betrays my reason, makes me blind ;

Near dangers drad dreaded.

Make me distraught ;
Surprised with fear my senses all I find :
In hell
I dwell,
Oppressed with horror, pain, and sorrow sad.

My former resolutions all are fled —
Slipped over my tongue ;
My faith, my hope, and joy are dead.
Assist my heart,
Rather than my song.
My God, my Saviour ! When I'm ill-bested.
Stand by.
And I
Shall bear with courage undeserved smart.

Sing aloud !— His praise rehearse
Who hath made the universe.
He the boundless heavens has spread,
All the vital orbs has kned, kneaded.

He that on Olympus high
Tends his flocks with watchful eye,

And this eye has multiplied suns, as centres of systems.
Midst each flock for to reside.
Thus, as round about they stray,
Toucheth^ each with outstretched ray;
Nimble they hold on their way.
Shaping out their night and day.
Summer, winter, autumn, spring,
Their inclined axes bring.
Never slack they ; none respires.
Dancing round their central fires.

1 Intransitively used. They touch each other.


Jn due order as they move,
Echoes sweet be gently drove
Thorough heaven's vast hollowness,
Which unto all comers press :
Music that the heart of Jove
Moves to joy and sportful love ;
Fills the listening sailers' ears
Riding on the wandering spheres :
Neither speech nor language is
Where their voice is not transmiss.

God is good, is wise, is strong,

Witness all the creature throng,

Is confessed by every tongue ;

All things back from whence they sprung, goback • a verb.

As the thankful rivers pay

What they borrowed of the sea.

Now myself I do resign :
Take me whole: I all am thine.
Save me, God, from self-desire —
Death's pit, dark hell's raging fire — *
Envy, hatred, vengeance, ire ;
Let not lust my soul bemire.

Quit from these, thy praise I'll sing,

Loudly sweep the trembling string.

Bear a part, O Wisdom's sons,

Freed from vain religions I

Lo ! from far I you salute,

Sweetly warbling on my lute —

India, Egypt, Araby,

Asia, Greece, and Tartary,

Carmel-tracts, and Lebanon,

With the Mountains of the Moon,

From whence muddy Nile doth run,

Or wherever else you won : dwell.

Breathing in one vital air,

One we are though distant far.

1 Self-desire, which is death's pit, &c


Rise at once ; — let's sacrifice :
Odours sweet perfume the skies ;
See how heavenly lightning fires
Hearts inflamed with high aspires !
All the substance of our souls
Up in clouds of incense rolls.
Leave we nothing to ourselves
Save a voice — what need we else !
Or an hand to wear and tire
On the thankful lute or lyre !

Sing aloud ! — His praise rehearse
Who hath made the universe.

In this Philosopher's Devotion he has clearly imitated
one of those psalms of George Sandys which I have


Far have I clambered in my mind,
But nought so great as love I find :
Deep-searching wit, mount-moving might,
Are nought compared to that good sprite.
Life of delight and soul of bliss !
Sure source of lastuig happiness !
Higher than heaven ! lower than hell !
What is thy tent ? Where may'st thou dwell ?

" My mansion hight Humility^ is named.

Heaven's vastest capability.

The further it doth downward tend,

The higher up it doth ascend ;

If it go dovm to utmost nought.

It shall return with that it sought."

Lord, stretch thy tent in my strait breast j

Enlarge it downward, that sure rest

May there be pight for that pure fire pitched.

Wherewith thou wontest to inspire

All self-dead souls : my life is gone ;

Sad solitude's my irksome won ; dwelling.


Cut off from men and all this world,

In Lethe's lonesome ditch I'm hurled ;

Nor might nor sight doth ought me move,

Nor do I care to be above.

O feeble rays of mental light,

That best be seen in this dark night,

What are you? What is any strength

If it be not laid in one length

With pride or love ? I nought desire

But a new life, or quite to expire.

Could I demolish with mine eye

Strong towers, stop the fleet stars in sky,

Bring down to earth the pale-faced moon,

Or turn black midnight to bright noon ;

Though all things were put in my hand —

As parched, as dry as the Libyan sand

Would be my life, if charity

Were wanting. But humility

Is more than my poor soul durst crave

That lies entombed in lowly grave ;

But if 'twere lawful up to send

My voice to heaven, this should it rend :

" Lord, thrust me deeper into dust,

That thou may'st raise me with the just."

There are strange things and worth pondering in
all these. An occasional classical allusion seems to
us quite out of place, but such things we must pass.
The poems are quite different from any we have had
before. There has been only a few of such writers in
our nation, but I suspect those have had a good deal
more influence upon the religious life of it than many
thinkers suppose. They are in closest sympathy with
the deeper forms of truth employed by St. Paul and
St. John. This last poem, concerning humility as the
house in which charity dwells, is very truth. A re-
pentant sinner feels that he is making himself little
when he prays to be made humble: the Christian


philosopher sees such a glory and spiritual wealth
in humility that it appears to him almost too much
to pray for.

The very essence of these mystical writers seems
to me to be poetry. They use the largest figures for
the largest spiritual ideas — light for good, darkness for
eviL Such symbols are the true bodies of the true
ideas. For this service mainly what we term nature
was called into being, namely, to furnish forms for
truths, for without form truth cannot be uttered.
Having found their symbols, these writers next pro-
ceed to use them logically ; and here begins the pecu-
liar danger. When the logic leaves the poetry behind,
it grows first presumptuous, then hard, then narrow
and untrue to the original breadth of the symbol ; the
glory of the symbol vanishes ; and the final result
is a worship of the symbol, which has withered into
an apple of Sodom. Witness some of the writings
of the European master of the order — Swedenborg :
the highest of them are rich in truth ; the lowest
are poverty-stricken indeed.

In 1615 was born Richard Baxter, one of the
purest and wisest and devoutest of men — and no
mean poet either. If ever a man sought between con-
tending parties to do his duty, siding with each as
each appeared right, opposing each as each appeared
wrong, surely that man was Baxter. Hence he fared
as all men too wise to be partisans must fare —
he pleased neither Royalists nor Puritans. Dull of
heart and sadly unlike a mother was the Church
when, by the Act of Uniformity of Charks II., she


drove from her bosom such a son, with his two
thousand brethren of the clergy !

He has left us a good deal of verse — too much,
perhaps, if we consider the length of the poems and
the value of condensation. There is in many of
them a delightful fervour of the simplest love to God,
uttered with a plain half poetic, half logical strength,
from which sometimes the poetry breaks out clear and
fine. Much that he writes is of death, from the dread
of which he evidently suffered — a good thing when it
drives a man to renew his confidence in his Saviour's
presence. It has with him a very different origin from
the vulgar fancy that to talk about death is religious.
It was refuge from the fear of death he sought, and
that is the part of every man who would not be a
slave. The door of death of which he so often speaks
is to him a door out of the fear of death.

The poem from which the following excerpt is
made was evidently written in view of some imminent
suffering for conscience-sake, probably when the Act
of Uniformity was passed : twenty years after, he
was imprisoned at the age of sixty-seven, and lay
nearly a year and a half. — I omit many verses.


It's no great matter what men deem.

Whether they count me good or bad :
In their applause and best esteem,

There's no contentment to be had.
Thy steps, Lord, in this dirt I see ;

And lest my soul from God should stray,
I'll bear my cross and follow thee :

Let others choose the fairer way.


My face is meeter for the spit ;

I am more suitable to shame,
And to the taunts of scornful wit :

It's no great matter for my name.

My Lord hath taught me how to want

A place wherein to put my head :
While he is mine, I'll be content

To beg or lack my daily bread.
Must I forsake the soil and air

Wliere first I drew my vital breath?
That way may be as near and fair :

Thence I may come to thee by death.
All countries are my Father's lands ;

Thy sun, thy love, doth shine on all ;
We may in all lift up pure hands.

And with acceptance on thee calL

What if in prison I must dwell ?

May I not there converse with thee ?
Save me from sin, thy wrath, and hell.

Call me thy child, and I am free.
No walls or bars can keep thee out ;

None can confine a holy soul ;
The streets of heaven it walks about ;

None can its liberty control.
This flesh hath drawn my soul to sin :

If it must smart, thy will be done !
O fill me with thy joys within.

And then I'll let it grieve alone.

Frail, sinful flesh is loath to die ;

Sense to the unseen world is strange ;
The doubting soul dreads the Most High,

And trembleth at so great a change.
O let me not be strange at home.

Strange to the sun and life of souls.
Choosing this low and darkened room,

Familiar with worms and moles !
Am I the first that go this way ?

How many saints are gone before !
How many enter every day

Into thy kingdom by this door I


Christ was once dead, and in a grave ;

Yet conquered death, and rose again ;
And by this method he will save

His servants that with him shall reign.
The strangeness ^viU be quickly over,

When once the heaven -born soul is there :
One sight of God will it recover

From all this backwardness and fear.
To us, Christ's lowest parts, his feet,

Union and faith must yet suffice
To guide and comfort us : it's meet

We trust our head who hath our eyes.

We see here that faith in the Lord leads Richard
Baxter to the same conclusions immediately to which
his faithful philosophy led Henry More.

There is much in Baxter's poems that I would
gladly quote, but must leave with regret. Here is a
curious, skilful, and, in a homely way, poetic ballad,
embodying a good parable. I give only a few of the


Who was it that I left behind

When I went last from home,
That now I all disordered find

When to myself I come ?

I left it light, but now all's dark,

And I am fain to grope :
Were it not for one little spark

1 should be out of hope.

My Gospel-book I open left,

Where I the promise saw ;
But now I doubt it's lost by theft :

I find none but the Law.


The stormy rain an entrance hath

Through the uncovered top :
How should I rest when showers of wrath

Upon my conscience drop ?

I locked my jewel in my chest ;

I'll search lest that be gone : —
If this one guest had quit my breast,

I had been quite undone.

My treacherous Flesh had played its part,

And opened Sin the door ;
And they have spoiled and robbed my heart,

And left it sad and poor.

Yet have I one great trusty friend

That will procure my peace,
And all this loss and ruin mend,

And purchase my release.

The bellows I'll yet take in hand.

Till this small spark shall flame :
Love shall my heart and tongue command

To praise God's holy name.

I'll mend the roof; I'll watch the door,

And better keep the key ;
I'll trust my treacherous flesh no more,

But force it to obey.

What have I said ? That I'll do this

That am so false and weak.
And have so often done amiss,

And did my covenants break ?

I mean, Lord — all this shall be done

If thou my heart wilt raise ;
And as the work must be thine own,

So also shall the praise.

The allegory is so good that one is absolutely sorry
when it breaks down, and the poem says in plain
words that which is the subject of the figures, bring-


ing truths unmasked into the midst of the maskers
who represent truths — thus interrupting the pleasure
of the artistic sense in the transparent illusion.

The command of metrical form in Baxter is some-
what remarkable. He has not much melody, but he
keeps good time in a variety of measures.



I COME now to one of the loveliest of our angel-
birds, Richard Crashaw. Indeed he was like a bird
in more senses than one ; for he belongs to that class
of men who seem hardly ever to get foot-hold of
this world, but are ever floating in the upper air of it.

What I said of a peculiar ^Eolian word-music
in William Drummond applies with equal truth to
Crashaw ; while of our own poets, somehow or other,
he reminds me of Shelley, in the silvery shine and
bell-like melody both of his verse and his imagery;
and in one of his poems. Music's Duel, the fineness
of his phrase reminds me of Keats. But I must not
forget that it is only with his sacred, his best poems
too, that I am now concerned.

The date of his birth is not known with certainty,
but it is judged about 1616, the year of Shakspere's
death. He was the son of a Protestant clergyman
zealous even to controversy. By a not unnatural
reaction Crashaw, by that time, it is said, a popular
preacher, when expelled from Oxford in 1644 by the
Puritan ParHament because of his refusal to sign


their Covenant, became a Roman Catholic. He died
about the age of thirty-four, a canon of the Church of
Loretto. There is much in his verses of that sentimen-
talism which, I have already said in speaking of South-
well, is rife in modern Catholic poetry. I will give
from Crashaw a specimen of the kind of it. Avoid-
ing a more sacred object, one stanza from a poem
of thirty-one, most musical, and full of lovely speech
concerning the tears of Mary Magdalen, will suit my

Hail, sister springs,
Parents of silver-footed rills !

Ever-bubbling things !
Thawing crystal ! Snowy hills.
Still spending, never spent ! — I mean
Thy fair eyes, sweet Magdalene !

The poem is called The Weeper, and is radiant of
delicate fancy. But surely such tones are not worthy
of flitting moth-like about the holy sorrow of a re-
pentant woman I Fantastically beautiful, they but
play with her grief. Sorrow herself would put her
shoes off her feet in approaching the weeping Mag-
dalene. They make much of her indeed, but they
show her little reverence. There is in them, notwith-
standing their fervour of amorous words, a coldness
like that which dwells in the ghostly beauty of icicles
shining in the moon.

But I almost reproach myself for introducing
Crashaw thus. I had to point out the fact, and
now having done with it, I could heartily wish I had
room to expatiate on his loveliness even in such
poems as TJte Weeper.


His Divine Epigrams are not the most beautiful,
but they are to me the most valuable of his verses,
inasmuch as they make us feel afresh the truth which
he sets forth anew. In them some of the facts of our
Lord's life and teaching look out upon us as from
clear windows of the past. As epigrams, too, they
are excellent — pointed as a lance.

Upon the Sepulchre of our Lord.

Here, where our Lord once laid his head.
Now the grave lies buried.

The Widow's Mites.

Two mites, two drops, yet all her house and land,
Fall from a steady heart, though trembling hand ;
The other's wanton wealth foams high and brave :
The other cast away — she only gave.

On the Prodigal.

Tell me, bright boy ! tell me, my golden lad !
Whither away so frolic ? Why so glad ?

What ! all thy wealth in council ? all thy state ?
Are husks so dear ? Troth, 'tis a mighty rate !

I value the following as a lovely parable. Mary
is not contented: to see the place is little comfort.
The church itself, with all its memories of the Lord,
the gospel-story, and all theory about him, is but his
tomb until we find himself.

Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Show me himself, himself, bright sir ! Oh show
Which way my poor tears to himself may go.


Were it enough to show the place, and say,
" Look, Mary ; here see where thy Lord once lay ; "
Then could I show these arms of mine, and say,
" Look, Mary; here see where thy Lord once lay."

From one of eight lines, on the Mother Mary
looking on her child in her lap, I take the last two,
complete in themselves, and I think best alone.

This new guest to her eyes new laws hath given :
'Twas once look up, 'tis now look down to heaven.

And here is perhaps his best.

Two went tip into the Temple to pray.
Two went to pray ? Oh rather say.
One went to brag, the other to pray.

One stands up close, and tieads on high,
Where the other dares not lend his eye.

One nearer to God's altar trod ;
The other to the altar's God.

This appears to me perfect. Here is the true
relation between the forms and the end of religion.
The priesthood, the altar and all its ceremonies, must
vanish from between the sinner and his God. When
the priest forgets his mediation of a servant, his duty
of a door-keeper to the temple of truth, and takes
upon him the office of an intercessor, he stands
between man and God, and is a Satan, an adversary.
Artistically considered, the poem could hardly be

Here is another containing a similar lesson.

/ am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof.

Thy God was making haste into thy roof ;
Thy humble faith and fear keeps him aloof.
He'll be thy guest : because he may not be.
He'll come— into thy house ? No ; into thee.
21 R


The following is a world-wide intercession for them
that know not what they do. Of those that reject the
truth, who can be said ever to have truly seen it ? A
man must be good to see truth. It is a thought
suggested by our Lord's words, not an irreverent
opposition to the truth of them.

But now they have seen and hated.

Seen ? and yet hated thee? They did not see —
They saw thee not, that saw and hated thee !
No, no ; they saw thee not, O Life ! O Love !
Who saw aught in thee that their hate could move.

We must not be too ready to quarrel with every
oddity : an oddity will sometimes just give the start
to an outbreak of song. The strangeness of the
following hymn rises almost into grandeur.


Rise, heir of fresh eternity,
From thy virgin-tomb ;
Rise, mighty man of wonders, and thy world with thee ;
Thy tomb, the universal East —
Nature's new womb ;
Thy tomb — fair Immortality's perfumed nest.

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Online LibraryGeorge MacDonaldEngland's antiphon → online text (page 14 of 19)