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I^arbartr Bibinftp ^ctjool 


Gift of 
Mrs» Trueman J. Menadue 








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vmAjnaATBB rsov tkb xatoi or tVM 

Bight Rev. ROBERT LOWTH, D. D. 

nuucvox or fostbt u tkb tmiTsssiTr or oxroxi^ avb jkimwABM 
Mm» BiMor ur uivbov, 

Axmom or jhmato bzstobioa£ An xoBAft. 






RoBsmT LowTBf ion of the tot. William Lowtb» cbapltin to 
the biftbop of Winchester, tnd prebemlaty of a cathedral church 
in that wm^ was bom at Winchester in the year 1710, whcro 
lie was educated in grammar learning at the school fcmnded by 
William of Wykeham, in which he acquired an accurate knowl- 
edge of the Greek and Roman classics» and made considerable 
progress in oriental literature. Even at school he discovered a 
poetical genius, and among other pieces which he wrote at that 
pefiod, was a beautiful poem on « The Genealogy of Christ,' as it 
is represented on the east window of Winchester college chapel { 
and another, which appeared in the twenty-third volume of the 
Gentleman's Magazine, entitled * Catherine's Hill,' the place 
where the Winchester scholars are allowed to play on holidays. 
In 17S8, he was sent to New college, Oxford, of which institution 
lie wa^ elected a fellow in 1734: took his degree as M. A. in 1737, 
and was, in 1 741, eleaed professor of poetry in tlie university of Ox- 
ford* In the discharge of the duties of this office he delivered his 
< Prflelectiones' on |Iebrcw poetry ; which work, entitled » Do 
Sacra Poesi Hebrseorum Praelectiones Acsdemicae," he gave to 
^e public in 1753, and a second edition in 1763. 

His first preferment in the church was the rectory of Ovingdon, 
in Hampshire» toi which he was presented by bishop Hoadly. In 
1748, Mr. howth accompanied Mr. Legge, afterwards chancellor 
of the exchequer, to Berlin, who went to that court in a publip 
character, and with whom, from his earliest years« he lived on 
^rms of the most iminterrupted friendship. In the iollowiug year 


lie undertook the charge of the sons of the duke of DeTonshire, m 
travelling tutor on the continent. Tbe duke was so thoroughly 
satisfied with the conduct of Mr. Lowth in this office, that he after- 
irards proved his steady friend and patron. In 1750 he was ap- 
pointed archdeacon of Winchester, and three years after he was 
presented to the rectory of East Woodhay, in the county of South- 

Jn the year 1754, the university of Oxford honoured the au« 
thor with the degree of doctor of divinity, and in the following 
year be was nominated first chapiido to the mafquis of Uaningtoiii 
lord lieutcnaDt of Ireland. Thither he accompanied that noble- 
man, and was, in a short time, offered the bishopric of Limerick» 
which however he exchanged for some preferment in the county 
of Durham, in his own country. In 17$ 8, Dr. Lowth preached a 
sermon atDurbi^m, on Free Enquiry in Matters of Religion, which 
has been frequently reptinted. 

In tbe same year he published his ^ Life of Wyk^ha^, Bifthop 
of Winchester,' and founder of the Mleges in which lie had re- 
ceived his education. )iis next {liece has beea exceedingly pofx» 
ular in our schoola, though no# generally superceded by a work 
of the same kind by ^r. Lindiey Murfiy, vi^, ^ Ah lotroductiofi 
|o English Grammar.' 

Passing over a controversy between Dr. Lowth and Df. War« 
burton, whkh did not rtfieot much credit on the angry tempera 
itf the disputants, we tnay observe that Dn Lowth vraa elected k 
fellow of the I^oyal Society at Gotdngen in the year 1765« and in 
Ihe following year he was promoted to the see of St. David's, and 
almost immediately translated to the bishopric of Oxford. In thia 
high office he remained tilt the year 1 777, when he iucceedefl 
Dr. Terrick in the see of Londoit. In 1778 be published thb 
last of his literary labours, entitled « Isaiah : A new Translationi 
with a preliminary Dissertation, and Notes, critical, philological» 
and expkuiatery.' His design, in this workt was not only to give 
an exact and faithful representation of the words and sen^ of tUe 
prophet, by adhering closely to the letter ctf the teit,abd treading, 
as nearly as noay be^ in his footsveps ) but, moreover» to imitate 
the air and mnnnet of the author, to express the form tod fashiob 
of the composition, and to give the Engtish readbr soiiM notiicto 6f 
the peculiar tura and cast of the original. 

}n 1779 the Wakofi i^«s called ea to preAeh n eermciD before the 


king at the Chapel-royai, on Ash- Wednesday, in which he at- 
tacked the opponents to the ministerial system of government^ 
among whom was the celebrated Dr. Richard Price, who defend- 
ed himself with energy and spirit. In 1781 bishop Lowth was 
engaged in a law suit with Lewis Disney Ffytche, Esq. concern* 
ing the legality of general bonds of resignation, which, if Dr. 
Towers's statement of the case be at all accurate, was higlUy dis* 
creditable to his lordship : suffice it to say, that m this case the 
decisions of the courts of law, almost unanimously pronounced, 
were unexpectedly reversed by the house of lords, by a ma- 
jority of oncf and of the members who voted on this occasion 
fourteen were bishops, and as such parties in their own cause^ 
(See Dr. Tower's observations on the Cause between the bishop 
of London, and L. D. Ffytche, Esq.) In 1783 the bishop was fix- 
ed on to succeed archbishop Coruwallis, but on account of his ad* 
vanced age he thought proper to decline the high honour of the 
archbishopric of Canterbury, In the latter years of his life he 
endured i^great degree of suffering from that dreadful disorder, 
the atone, which he bore with fortitude and resignation to the di» 
vine will. He experienced also some of the most painful strokes 
of calamities which a father can experience, in the loss of affec- 
tionate children. 

In 1768 his eldest daughter died at the age of thirteen, of whom 
he was passionately fond, and whose death he deplored in the fol- 
lowuig exquisitely beautiful epitaph, which is inscribed on her 

Cars, Tale, ingenio przatans, pietate, pudore^ 

Et plusquam natae nomine cara* vale. 
Cars Maria, vale. At veniet feliciua aevum 

Quando iteniin tecum, aim modo dignos, ero. 
Cara, redi, l«ta turn dicam voce patemus, 

£js^ <^ in amplezus, cara Maria, redL 

In 1783, his second daughter, as she was presiding at the tea-ta- 
ble, suddenly expired. His eldest son also, of whom he was led 
to form the highest expectations, was hurried to the grave in the 
bloom of youth. His lordship died at Fulham in 1787« having 
nearly completed the 77th year of his age. Of bishop Lowth's 
extenuve learning, fine taste, and peculiar qualifications for the 
station which he filled, he has left abundant proofs. While his 
amiable manners rendered him an ornament to the high rank in 


which he moved, and endeared bim to all with whom he eonTers- 
edj his zeal for the established religion of the country made him 
anxious to promote to places of trust and dignity such clergjrrocii 
as he knew were best qualified to fill them. He united, in an em- 
inent degree, the qualities of the gentleman with those of the 
scholar : he conversed with elegance, as he wrote with accuracy. 
His heart was tender and sympathetic. He possessed a mind 
which felt its own strength, and decided on whatever came be» 
fore it with promptitude. In those trials where affliction was to 
be suffered or subdued he behaved as a man and a Christian* 
His piety had no tincture of moroseness ; his charity no leaven of 
ostentation. The bishop was author of some sermons, preached 
on particular occasions, and of many poetical pieces, some of 
which have been frequently reprinted ; the titles of which will be 
found in the General Biography. Ree9*9 Cyclopedia. 


It may oot be improper to apprise tlie pobUc, that «llheogh tbe 
fblleiwiDg Lectures be eotitled Lectures on the Hebrew Poetrft 
tbeir utility is by no meaiw confined to that single object. Tbqr 
embrace all ths orsat frivgiflss or objisral CRXTiciSMf as 
delivered by the ancients^ improfed by the keen judgement and 
polished taste of tbeir author. In other wordsy this work will be 
Sound an escellent compendium of ail the best rules of taste, and 
of all the principles of composition, illustrated by the boldest and 
most exalted specimens of genius (if no higher title be allowed 
them) which antiquity has transmitted to us : and which have hith- 
erto seldom fallen under the inspection of rational criticism- 

Lest, from the title of the work, or from the cuvumstance of be- 
ing originally published in a learned language, a prejudice shouM 
arise in the breast of anf individual, that these Lectures are ad« 
dressed only to the learned, 1 thbk it a duty to anticipate a mis- 
apprehension which might interfere both with bis entertainment 
and instruction. The greatest as well as the most useful works 
of taste and literature, are those^ which, with respect at least to 
their general scope and design, lie most level to the common sense 
of mankmd. Though the learning and genius displayed in the 
following Lectures must ever excite our warmest admiration ; 
though they abound in curious researches, and in refined and ex- 
quisite observations ; though the splendour oS the sentiments and 
the elegance of the style will necessarily captivate the eye and the 
ear of the classical reader; the truthis,THAT thst arb mors cal* 


are few nice philological disquisitions, no abstruse meuphysical 
speculations ; our author has built solely upon the basis of com- 
mon sense, and 1 know no part of his work, which will not be iiH* 
telligible and useful to almost every understanding. 

A still greater mistake it would be, to suppose any knowledge 
of the Hebrew necessary to enable us to read these Lectures with 
profit and pleasure. Se happily does the simple genius of the 
Hebrew language accord with our own ; and so excellent a trans- 
cript of the original (notwithstanding a few errors) is our common 
translation of the Scriptures ; so completely, so minutely, I might 
aay, does it represent the style and character of the Hebrew writ- 
ingsi that no person, who is conversant with it, can be at all at a 


loss in applying all the criticisms of otir author. On this account 
I will venture to assert, that if the genius of the translator ap- 
proached in any degree the clearness, the elegance, the elevation 
of the author, these Lectures in our own language would exhibit 
the subject in a much fairer and more advantageous light, than in 
the original form. The English idiom, indeed, has so much greats 
cr analogy to the Hebrew, that the advantages, which it posstssei 
over the Latin, must be obvious to any reader who compares the 
literal translations in each of these languages. 

But the utility of these Lectures, as a system of criticism, is per* 
haps their smallest n)erii. They teach us not only taste but vir-t 
tue ; not only to admire and revere the Sciiptuies, but to profit 
by their precepts. The author of the present work is not to be 
considered merely as a master of the general principles of critic 
cism ; he has penetrated the very sanctuaries of Ut brew litera* 
ture ; he has investigated with a degree of precision, which few 
critics have attained, the very nature and ct^aracier of their com* 
position : by accurately cxammiii)?, and cautiously comparing ev- 
eiy part of the sacred writings ; by a force of genius, which could 
enter imo the very design of the authors ; and by a comprehen- 
siveness of mind, which could embrace at a single view a vast se- 
ries of corresponding passages, he has discovered the manner, the 
spirit, the idiom of the original, and has laid down such axioms as 
cannot fail greatly to iaciliiate our knowUdge and understanding 
of the Scriptures. The woiK would amply ripay the trouble of 
perusing it, by the exr«hent elucidations of particular passages of 
holy writ which it afionis ; but, when we reflect that these are 
connected with such rules and prii.cipUs as may be applied with 
the greatest advantage to other difiiiult passages, with such rules, 
indeed, as will enable us better to comprehend the whole, surely 
it must appear inestimahle in the eye of any man, who has at all 
at heart his own improvement in religious knowledge. Perhapa 
the sceptic may learn from the perusal of thesr Lectures, thai the 
difficulties of which he complains in the Scriptures, are diiiiculiies 
which might in some measure be removed by a little more knowl- 
edge, and a little more diligence in the application of it. Perhaps, 
too, those profound and Uarned critics^ wl o quote and censure 
authors, whom they have never read, and talk fluently about lan- 
guages, the rudiments of which they have yet to learn, may find, 
to thtir great astonishment, that a degree of penetration superior 
to their own is able to discover at least a few rays of sublimity in 
the writings of the Pkhrews. 

Whatever be the merits or the defects of this translation, on one 
account at least 1 will venture to promise mjselt the warmest 
commendations of my reaflers, namely, for having made them ac- 
quainted «rith the admirable criticisms of the learned Michaelia. 
I have much reason to regict, that the nature of this publication 
would not permit the insertion of all his observations, and at full 
length. But the ti uth is, however suitable they may have been to 
the work in its original form, seme of his remarks are too refined 


to be [^nerally useful ; and sonie of them too learned to be intel- 
Ugible to any, but those who are familiar with the whole circle of 
Oriental literature. 1 have therefore selected such of them as I 
thoug^ht applicable to my present purpose ; and, as it was my wish 
to confine this work within as narrow limits as my duty to the pub- 
lic would permitf and to suffer in it notLing, but what i esteemed 
immediately useful, I have Uken the liberty of abridging some» 
wittch i thought in a literal translation might appear tedious to 
the English reader. 

Some observations of my own I have also presumed to introduce 
among the notes. They were such as to me seemed calculated 
to render the work a more complete compendium of critical sci- 
ence. As I do not, however, think myself above censure, so I 
trust I shall not be found too obstinate for correction. Should my 
indiscretion, therefore, have obtruded any thing which a fair and 
liberal critic shall deem impertinent or improper, I shall with 
much cheerfulness, in a future edition, submit to its erasement. 

It was not till I had consulted some of the first literary charac* 
actcrs concerning the propriety of substituting in the place of our 
author's inimitable Latin poems any English versions, that i ven* 
tunsd to appear as a poetical translator. Even then 1 did not fail 
to inspect every modern author, who I imagined might furnish me 
with compositions worthy of appearing among the criticisms of 
Lowth. I have prtierred Mr. Merrick's Psalms to any version 
which 1 should have- been able to produce, (except, indeed, in a 
sungle instance, where it was necessary that the measure should 
beelegtac) notonly on account of their intrinsic merit, but inconse- 
quence of the commendation which our author has bestowed upon 
them. By the kindness of Mr. Mason also, this publication is en- 
riched with one of the most beautiful lyric productions in our lan^ 
guage, 1 mean bis paraphrase of the zivth of Isaiah. When I 
could find no translation to answer my purpose, I was obliged to 
attempt the versification of the passages myself. The public will 
therefore recollect, that | was a poet through necessity, not 
choice ; and will, I flatter myself, receive this as a sufficient 
apology for the indifferent performance of that part of my under- 

Presuming that it would be more agreeable to give the literal 
translations of the Hebrew from works of established reputation, 
I have taken many of them from our author's excellent version of 
Isaiah, from Mr. Blaney's Jeremiah, from Bishop Newcombe's 
Minor Prophets, Mr. Heath's Job, and from Dr. Hodgson's trans- 
lation of the Canticles : and this I trust will be accepted by those 
Gentlemen as a general acknowledgment. Where these did not 
furnish me with a translation, 1 have endeavoured myself to pro- 
duce one as faithiul to the original as my knowledge of the Ian*? 
guage would admit. 

Convinced on the whole of the utility of this publication, and 
yet aware of my own inability to do it justice, 1 dismiss it with 
that mixed emotion of confidence and humility, which such a siti 


nation naturally bspirei. Imperfect as it appears before tliei 
irorld, if it be the means of imparting to but a few some of that 
information, which all who read the original must regret was nol 
more generally diffused, I am sure I shall have desenred well of 
the community i at the same time, the reader will do me great in* 
justice, if he supposes that I have satisfied myself in the execution 
of my task. Whatever be its reception* it will disappoint no ex- 
pectations formed by me ot profit or of £sme ; and if neither en« 
sue from it, I shall have no just cause of complaint. It was im- 
possible to read these Lectures with the attention which even this 
translation required, and not derive advantages from them far su- 
perior to the labour they have cost me ; and whatever may b« 
their effect with others, I am confident they have left roc some- 
thing wiser, and I trust something better, than they found me. 

In the prosecution of this work I have. incurred a debt of grati- 
tude, which if I cannot discharge, it is but fair to acknowledge^ 
By the advice and encouragement of Dr. Kippis, I was in a great 
measure induced to undertake this translation ; by a continuance 
of the same friendly disposition I was enabled cheerfully to pro- 
ceed in it. The public will easily perceive a part of their obliga- 
tion and mine to the ingenious Mr. Henley of Rendlesham, in the 
numerous and valuable notes which bear his signature ; but I am 
also indebted to him for many corrections. These are not the 
only friends to whom I have been obliged on this occasion : I will 
venture to menuon in particular Mr. Wakefield of Ndttingham, a 
name sufficiently known in the classical world ; and Mr. Foster 
of Woolton* near Liverpool, whose careful and laborious jevisiQii 
of my manuscript is the least of the many favours he has conferred 
upon me. To this companion of my youth, I can indeed with the 
strictest propriety apply the language of the Roman poet : 

** Tecum ctenim longog memini canBomere soles» 

** Et tecum primas epulis decerpere noctes. 

*' Unum opus, k requiem pariter disponimus «mbo : 

*' Atque verecunda laxamus seria mensa. 

'* Hon equidem hoc dubitea, amborum foedere certo 

'* Consentire diea & ab uno sidere ducL 

** Nostra vel squali suspendit tempora libra 

" Parca tenax veri : seu nata fidelibus hora 

" Diyidit in geminos concordia fata duorum : 

" Satumumque gravem nostro Jove irang^mus una. 

** Nescio, quod certe est, quod me tibi temperat astnim.^ 

Jmbm tevec Tamee^ 

BnekiiiKlMin Gai^ 

Mar^ 1,1787. 

*«* The Author's Kotes are all particularly distinflniiahed. Those mark^ 
ed M. are by Professor Mlchaelis ; tliose marked S. H. are by Mr. Henley; 
and tJiosc marked T. bv the Translator. 



I SHALL eDde»TOur in a few words to explain the additions an4 
issproTementSi which have been made to this edition. 

I have reyised the whole work ; I have added some things, t 
have corrected many ; and especially in the notes. I have how- 
ever refruned from all corrections which did not appear absolutelf 
necessary. If any reader should object, that many passages re* 
main, which might be amended, as being scarcely established up« 
00 the grounds of certainty and conviction ; I have only to urge 
in my own defence, thai on very obscure and difficult subjects, it 
has always appeared to me sufficient to propose a probable expli- 
cation t nor can I esteem that to be correction, which only substi- 
totes one conjecture for another. 

In other respects this edition has received considerable improve- 
ments. In the first place I am greatly indebted to the friendly 
communications of the learned Dr. Kennicott, for the variations of 
the different copies in several passages of the Old Testament, 
which I have quoted. I have distinguished his notes by inverted 
commas, and by the letter K. subjoined» The manuscripts are 
numbered according to the catalogue annexed to that learned au- 
thor's dissertation on the Hebrew text.^ I have, moreover, added 
some obVrvations of the learned Dr. Hunt, professor of the He* 
brew and Arabic languages, which he kindly communicated at 
my requesr~These also I have distinguished by inverted commas^ 
and the letter H. subjoined. 

After this edition was committed to the press, I was favoured 
with a sight of the Gottingen edition, published under the inspec* 

1 In the third edition, the manuscript copies are not cited according to 
these numbers» which axe necessarily changed in the Bible published bj 
Dr. K. but it is only mentioned in how many manuscripts the different read- 
ing oocun. Some different readings also are cited at large. 


tion of the learned and ingenious professor of philosophy in that 
university, John David Michaelis, and greatly improved and illus- 
trated by him. To this were added his notes and additions, in 
which he has with great candour supplied my defects, and cor« 
rected my errors. These, with the preface entire, and with a few 
additions to the notes, communicated to roe by the author, (who 
would have added more, but that he was prevented by the increas- 
ing business of the university) I have printed in a separate volume, 
lest my readers should be deprived of these very learned and ex- 
cellent illustrations : and 1 chose to do it in a separate state, that 
the purchasers of the first edition might partake equally of the 
benefit. Whatever some of these notes may contain repugnant 
to my own sentiments, I have thought it better to submit them in 
this form to the judgement of the reader, than, by retracing my 
former ground, to divert hb attention into a controversy, unpleas- 
ant, and probably fruitless. 




"THS purpose of poetry is to instruct while it elves pleasure; instruotioa 
benup the end, and pleasure the means— Illustrated by examples from 
the £flrerent species of poetry— >The Didactic— The Epic— Tragedy— Lyr- 
ic — ^Tbe lighter kinds of poetry» which are calculated as well for the a- 
■lusement of our leisure as for the ornament and improyement of Utera- 
• tore— Saered «poetry ; whence a transition to the immediate object of 

• these Lectures, Page 3 



The dignity of the subject, and its suitableness to the design of the insti- 
tution—That poetry which proceeds from divine inspiration is not be- 
yond the provmce of criticism— Criticism will enable us to account for 
the origin of the art, as Well as to form a just estimation of its dignity ; 
that the opinion of the divine origin of poetry was common in Gr e e ce — 
This work purely critical : and consequently theological disquisitions 
will be avoided— The general distribution of the subject into three parts, 
the nature of the verse, the style, and the arrangement, 29 





The necessity of inquiring into the nature of the Hebrew verse— The He- 
brew poetry proved to be metrical from the alphabetical poemsi and 
from the equality and correspondence of the sentiments ; also from the 
poetical diction---Some of the most obvious properties of the verse— 
The rhythm and mode of scanning totally lost : proved from facts— The 
poetical conformation of the sentences — ^The Greek and Latin poetry 
materially different from the Hebrew, from the very nature of the lan- 
guages — Hence a peouliar property in the prose versioilsr of the Hebrew 
poe^, and the attempts to exhibit this poetry in the verse of other lan- 
guag»«t 38 




The pottle style of the Hebrews bears the general title of Paro^o^'o— Its 
cofisthoent principles are the sententious, the fi^^iirative, and the su- 
blime— The source of the Parabolic style and its original use : among oth- 
er nations ; among the Hebrews — Certain examples of it preserved from 
the first ages in the writings of Moses— L The sententious kind ; its 
nature and effects, 49 



II. The F^^ative Style; to be trested rather according to the genius vf 


the Hebrew poetry, than according^ to the forms ind airangenentB «T 
rhetoricians — ^The definition and constituent parts of the Fijfurative 
Style, Mbtaphoii, AbLsooRT, Coxparisoh, pBRsoKincATioir — ^The rea- 
son of this mode of treating the subject : difficulties in reading the He- 
brew poetry, which result from the Figurative Style ; how to be avoided. 
1. Of the Metaphor, including a general disquisition concerning poetic 
imagery : the nature of which Is explained ; and four principal source» 
pointed out : Ifature, Common. life. Religion, History, 66 



Tlie frequent use of the Metaphor renders a style magnifioent, but oftoi 
obscure : the Hebrew poets hare accomplished the sublime without los* 
ing perspicuity— Three causes assigned for thib singular fact : first, tiie 
im^^ry which tliey introduce is in general derived from familiar ob- 
jects : again, in the use and accommodation of it they pursue a certain 
custom and analogy : lastly, they make the most free use of that which 
is most familiar, and the nature and extent of which is most generally 
ktfiown— -These observstions confirmed by exwnples (1.) from natural ob- 
jects» : such as are common to mankind in generu ; such as are more 
famiHar to the Hebrews than to others ; and such as are j>eculiar to 
them, 76 


Examples of poetical imagery from common life — The habits of Ufe ex- 
tremely simple among the Hebrews, whose prtncipaJ employments were 
agriculture and pasturage— The dignity cxf these employments ; and Ihe 
splendour of the imagery which is borrowed from them : Threshio|^,. 
and the threshinj^ instrument*— The sublimity of the imagery which is 
taken from familiar' objects results from its propriety — ^Tne poetic hell 
of the Hebrews explained i the imagery of which is borrowed from their 
subterraneous nepolcbre» and ituieral nte9t 90 



Imagery* which is borrowed from the rites and ceremonies of religion, pe- 
culiarly liable to obscurity and mistake — ^Instances of expressions, which 
appear uncommonly harsl); and of others, the principal eleg^ce of 
which woul(l be lost, unless we adverted to the nature of the sacred 
rites— The exordium of the hundred and fourth Psalm explained, 104 



The imagery from the sacred history is the most luminous and evident of 
all^T^e peculiar nature of this kind of metaphor expl^ned, as upsed br 
the Hebrew poets— The order of the topics which commonly fumish 
them : the Ch«os and Creation ; the Deluge ; the destruction of Sodom ; 
the emigration of the Israelites from Egypt ; the descent of Oodiipoii 
Mount Sinah—This species of metaphor excellently adapted to the sa- 
cred poetiy, and particulsrly to the prophetic i not easy to ibrm any 
comparison betwieen the sacred and |»t}|ane poetry in this vespect, 115 

Three fi»rms of Allegory : 1. Continued Metaphor.; which is seareely 
worth distinguishing fronj the simple Metaphor— The freedom ofUv 
Hebrews in confounding the. forms of the Metaphor, Allegory, and 
Compnrison : a more perfect form also of Allegory instanced — 2 «^ The 
Parable ; and its principal charatteristics : that it ought to be fblnMd 


k an J4>t and wcU-laiown image, the significaiion of which is ohirkMlft 
^od definite ; alao irum one whicAi is elegani und beautiful i that its 
pMits and a^}^^^^' ^ perspicuous, and conduce to the main object ; 
that it be consistent, and must not confound tJUe literul and figurative 
meaning— The Parables of the Prophets, and particularly of Ezekiel» 
examined according to this standard, 133 

The definition of the Mystical AUe^ry— Founded upon th« «U^goncal or 
typical nature of the Jewish religion — The distinction between this and 
the two former «ipecies of allegoi^' ; in the nature of the materials : it 
being allowable in the former to m<ike use of imageiy from indiffcreot 
objects i in this, only such as is derived from things sacred» or their qi- 
posites ; in the (brmerj the exterior image has no foundation in truth ; 
jn the latter, both images are equally true — The diiTereace in the form 
or manner of treating Uiem— The most beautiful form is when the cor- 
responding images run parallel throu|^h the whole poem, and jnutually 
illustrate each others— Examples of this in the second and seventy-second 
Psalms — TUe.par^ibolic style admirably adapted to this species of allegory ; 
the nature of which renders it the language most proper for prophecy — 
Extremely dark in itseli^ bwt it is graduid^ cleared up by the series of 
«venu foretold, and more complete revelation ; tune also, which in the 
general obscures, cvAtriliateB td its fUU explanalipn* 146 



Comparisons are introduced ibr three purposes i illustration, amplification, 
and yarietyw.por the &'st an knage is requisite» apt, well^nown, and 
perspicuous ; it is of little consequence whether It be sublime or beauti- 
iul, or neither j hence comparisons from objects which are in themselvea 
mean and bumble may be sometimes useful— For the purpose of amplifi- 
cation an imi^ is requisite which is sublime or beautiful, even though 
it should lie less apt and perspicuous : and on this plea a degree of ob- 
scurity, or a remotenest in the resembtanee, oiay sometimes be excused 
— When variety is the object, sipleiidid» benuti^ aad elegant iroager|r 
must be soifght for ; and which has an apt sf^reement with the object of 
the comparison in the circumstances or adjuncts, though tlie objects 
themselves may be different in kind— The most perfect comparison is 
that, in which all these excellencies are united — ^The peculiar form of 
comparisons in the Hebrew poetry ; it nesults from the nature of the 
sententious style — ^Thev are short, frequent, simple, depending often on 
a single attribute-^-Different imi^s displayed in the parallel sentences j 
many comparisons are arranged in this manner to illustrate the same 
subject ; or different attributes of the same comparison are often dis- 
tributed in the di&rent divisions or parallelisms, ISS 

Tvo kinds of Bevsonlficattcm : when a character is assigned to fictitious pv 
inanimate objects, and when a probable speech is attributed to a neal per^ 
son — Of fictitious and inanimate characters i of real characters— The 
Prosopopceia of the mother of Sisera (in the song of Deborah) explained : 
also the triumphal song of the Israelites oonoeming the death of the 
king of Babylon, (in Isaiah) which consists altogether of this figure, and 
exhibits it in all its difierent form?, 1^3 


ilL In what manner tlie word Mathal implies the idea of Sublimity— Sub> 


* limity of languiffe'and sentiment— On what account the poetic diction of 
the Hebtews, cither considered in itself, or compared with prose compo- 
aition, merits an appellation expressive of sublimity— The sublimity of 
the poetic diction arises from the .passions — How far the poetic diction 
differs from prose amon^ the Hebrews— Certain forms of poetic diction 
and construction exemplified from Job, chap. lii. 186 



The character of t1>e Poetic Dialect further illustrated by examples of 
different 'kinds from the Song* of Moses, Deut. xxxti. — The frequent and 
sudden transition from one person to another ; its cause and effects— 
The use of the Tenses in sr manner quite different from common langfuage : 
the reasons of this — The Hebrew language peculiar in this respect — ^The 
future is often spoken of in the perfect present, and the past in the fu- 
ture Tense ; the reason of the former easy to be explained ; the latter 
is a matter of considerable difficulty, which neither the Commentators» 
the Translators, nor even the Grammarians hare elucidated — Some 6x- 

' amples of this, and the explanation of them— The frequent use of this 
form of construction may be considered as characterbticai of tlie Po- 
etic Dialect, - 199 



Sublimity of sentiment arises^ either from eleiial&on of mind, or from some 
vehement passion ; in etcb, it ia either nati^al^/qr the effect of divine in- 
spiration — Elevation of mind is displayed in the greatness of the subject, 
the adjuncts, and the imagery*-ExampIes from the descriptions of the* 
Divine Majesty ; of the works and attributes of the Deity ; also from 
the display of the Di^^ine Power in the form of Interrogation and Irony— 

' Tlie Hebrew poets attribute the human passions to the Peity without de- 
parting from sublimity j and that frequently when the Imagery appears 
least consistent with the Divine Majesty : the reason of this, 21^ 



$uMimity of sentiment as arising fi*om the vehement affections of tiiemind 
— What is commonly called Enthusiasm is thfe natural effect of passion : 
the true Entlmsiasm arises from the impulse of the Divine Spirit, and is 
peculiar to the sacred poets — The prijicipal force' of poetry is displayed 
m the expression of passion : in exciting the passions poetry best a- 
chicves its purpose, whether* it be utility or pleasure— How the passions 
are excited to the pui'pose of utility ; how to that of pleasure— The dif- 
ference and connection between the pathetic and the sublime— That sub- 
Ihnity, which in the sacred poetry proceeds from the imitation of the 
passions of admiration, of joy,' indignation, grief, and terror; illustrated 
by examples, ' • . . 225 




The poetry of the Hebrews clnssed according to its different characters ; 
this mode of arr:ingcniv-nt fcsults rather from tlie nature of the subject» 
than from any authority of the Hebrews themselves — ^The Prophetic 
PoKTHv — The writii/gs of the proplicts in general poetical and metricai" 
—The opnilon of the modern Jews and of Jerome on this point refuted*— 


In the booka ofihe prophets, the sMiie evidences are found of a metrical 
arrangement as in the poetical books : in the dialect, the style, and po- 
etical conformation of the sentences-^Obvious in respect to the two tbr- 
Bier circumstances ; the latter requires a more minute investigation^ and 
also illustration by examples — The intimate relation between Poetry and 
Prophecy— The college of Prophets ; a part of whose discipline it was to 
sing Hymns to the dinerent instruments : and tliis exercise was called 
prophecy : the same word, tlierefore, denotes a prophet, a poet, and a 
musician — ^Elisba,'Wheil about to pronounce the Oracle of (sod, orders a 
minstrel to be brought to him— Poetry excellently adapted to the pur- 
pose of prophecy^A review of the most ancient predictions extant in the 
historical books, which are proved to be truly poetical, 239 



The psalmod]^ of the Hebrews — The manner of chant'mg the hymns by al- 
. tcmate choirs : whence the origin of the poetical construction of the 
sentences, and that peculiar form, in which verses and distichs run par- 
allel or correspondent to each other— Three species of parallelism ; the 
synooymous, the antithetic, and the synthetic : examples of each, first 
from the books generally allowed to be poetical, and afterwards from 
the wilting of Sie prophets — ^The sentiments of R. Azarias considered— 
The great importance of an accurate attention to this poetical conforma- 
tion St the sentences, • 253 



The whole of the book of Danielj as well as of Jonah, are to be excepted as 
not poetical, though of the prophetic kind ; also certain historical rela- 
tions inserted in the books of the prophets — Some poems occur in the 
prophetic writings, which properly belong to the other classes of poetry 
—The remainder constitutes what may be termed a system or code of 
prophetic poetry— The character of this species of poetry deduced from 
the nature and design of prophecy itself— An example of the true style 
of prophetic poetry produced from Isaiah, and explained : also another 
from the prophecies of Balaam, translated into English verse, 374 

The particular style and character of the different prophets : what parts, of 
each of them are poetical, and what otherwise — Nothhig deserving of 
notice of this kind in the poetry of Greece — In the Latin poetry the 
fourth Eclogue of Virgil is remarkable ; that poem much mo]3e obscure 
than it is generally accounted, and has not hitherto beea properly ex-* 
plained, 288. 



The nature and origpnof the Hebrew Elegy traced into the solemn expres- 
sions of grief exhibited in their funeral ceremonies — The office and nine* 
tion of professed mourners : the dirges, which were sung by them, were 
shorty metrical, and sententious ; many of the lamentations, which are 
extant in the prophets, were composed in imitation of them — ^The whole 
of the Lamenta^ons of Jeremiah constructed upon the same principle — 
The general conduct and form of that poem i the natui;e of the verse k 
the subject and the style, 31(it 


Many poeiDS of this kind still extant in th« writings of the Uebrews.- 
coUection of Elegies or Lamentations appears to oe lost^-Eleeies in Eze- 
kiel.-^Many passages in Job may be accounted Elegiac. — ^About a sev- 
enth part of the book of Psalms consists of Elegies.— A perfect specimen 
of ele|^ poetry from the Psalms.— The Lamentation ot David over Saul 
and Jonathan explained : attempted in English rencg 332 



The ancient mode of instructing by Parables or Proverbs— The Proverbs 
of Solomon : that work consists of two parts ; the first, which extends 
to the ninth chapter inclusive, truly poetical, and most elegant in its 
kind : the remainder of the book consists of detached maxlms.-^Tbe 
principal characteristics of a Parable or Proverb ; brevity (which natnr- 
ally involves in it some degree of obscurity) and elegance— 'Eccleikiastes : 
the argument, disposition, and style of that work— All the alpfbabetieal 
Psalms of this kind, as well as some others— The Wisdom of the son of 
Sirach, written originally in Hebrew, in imitation of the Proverbs of Sol- 
.«roon— The fidelity of the Greek translator ; and the ^reat .elegance of 
the work in general — ^Tlfe Wisdom of Solomon, written onghially in Greek, 
and in imitation of the Proverbs ; the style and economy of that book— 
A n^ translation of the xxivtli chapter of Eccleaiasticusy - - . • ^5 




l<yric Poetry oripnated from the most jocund and pleasing affections of 
the human mind— The most ancient species of poetry, and almost coeval 
with human nature itself-^Particularly cultivated by the Hebrew»— Tlie 
wanner, introduced by David, of singing their odes higfaljr magnificent— 
The general character of this species of poetry : its principal distinc- 
tions—The first character of the Ode, sweetness— What passions and af- 
fections it is intended to express : examples from the Psal ms - The 
cxxxiiid Psalm in English verse, 311 



The l^Tic poetry of the intermediate or mixed style consists of an union 
of sweetness and sublimity— The ninety-first and eightv-first Psalms ex- 
plained and critically illustrated— Of the digressions of the Hebrew po- 
ets, also of Pindar ; not upon the same principle — A criticism upon the 
seventy-seventh Psalm— The nineteenth Psalm in English verse* 364 


The third species of the Hebrew Ode, the characteristic of which is sub- 
limity—This sublimity results fix)m three sources — From the general form 
and arrangement of the poem exemplified in the Ith and xxivth Psalms — 
From the greatness of the sentiments and the force of the language — 
The Ode of Moses on passing the Red Sea explained and illustrated*- 
Tbe brevity of the Hebrew style— The xxixth Psahn in English verse, 



Xk^ sublime Ode^ in which all the eonstituents of sublimity formerly ipt* 
cified «re united—- The prophetic Ode of Moses, Dxut. xxxii.— The tri« 
umphal Ode of Deborah ; the Prayer of Habakkuk ; the Fat^lof Tyranny, 
being a poetical imitation of the xiyth chapter of Isaiah, 391 

Besides ttioae poems which may be sinctly termed odes, the fcneral ap- 
pellation, which in the. Hebrew is equivalent to Canticle or Sonf^, in- 
cludes another species called by the C^reeks, the Idyllium^-The reason 
«rf'this name, and the definition of the poem to which it is appropriated. 
•«"The historical Psalms in general bdong properly to this elass.^— The 
istercalavy stansa and the nsture of it.— The elennt plan and arrange- 
ment of the hmidred and aeyenth Psalm explained : also the ixth chap- 
ter of Isaiah, Ter* 8, to chap. z. ver. 4^— This passage a peHect specimen 
of the Idyllium : other examples of the IdyUium no fess perfect as to 
style and fbiOL^The Hymn of Clcanthes the stoic coBmended. The 
exaouxtii Psafan in English verse, 400 

The Platonic division of Poetry into the narrative, dramatic, and mixed 
kinds, of little use ; but deserves to be noticed on this occasion, as lead- 
ing to an accurate definition of Dramatic Poetry, and clearing up the am- 
biguity in which the term has been involved by the modems-^Two spe- 
cies pointed out: the lesser, which oossesses only the form of dialogue, 
without the personal intervention or the poet % and the greater, which 
contuns a plot or fiible— There are extant some instances of the former 
in the writings of the Hebrews s but none of their productions seem to 
have the least title to the latter character, two peihaps exceptnl ; the 
Song of Solomon, and the Book of Job— Inquiry, whether the Soi^ o^ 
Solomon contain a complete plot or fable— It is an Eptthalamium : th4 
characters which are represented in it : the poem founded upon ^e nup- 
tial rites of the Hebrews — ^The opinion of Bossuet cited and explainea » 
namely, that this poem is a representation of the seven days or festival 
which succeeded the marriage, and consequently consists or seven parts 
or divisions — ^This opinion the most favourable of all, to those who ac- 
count this poem a regular Drama : it however doea not prove, that it 
contains a complete plot or fable— Definitioii of a Dram«tie Fable-*Nol3l^ 
ing like it in the Song of Solomon : it is therefore not a perfect Drama, 
but is of the lesser class of Dramatic poems— The chorus of Yirgini 
beara a great analogy to the chorua of tlio Greek tragedies ; but could 
not serve as a model for them, 411 

The question debated, whether tlie Song of Solomon is to be taken in k 
literal or allegorical sense: the allegorical sense defended upon the 
grounds of the parabolic style.^-The nature and ground-work of this al- 
kipory explained^— The fastidiousness of those critics rq>roved, who pre* 
tend to take oilenoe at the freedom of some of those images which ard 
found in the Sacred Writings i the nature of those images explained. 
The allegorical interpretation confirmed by analogical arguments : not 
te^aally dsmoMtrabk from the interml a tructure of the work itself.^ 


This allegory of the tlurd oc mysiical species ; the subject literally re« 
latlngp to the nuptials of Solomon. — Two cautions to be observed by 
commentators. — ^The style of the Poem pastoral : the characters are 
represented as pastoral ; how agreeable this to the manners of the He- 
brews. — ^The elegance of the topics, descriptions, comparisons of this 
Poem : illustrate by examples, 424 


la order to criticise the book of Job with any degree of satisfaction to his 
auditors, the critic must explain his own sentiments concerning the work 
in general<^The book of Job a singular composition, and has little or no 
connection with the affairs of the Hebrew»--The seat of the history is 
Idumaea ; and the characters are evidently Idumxan of the family of 
Abraham ; the author appears to be an Idumaean, who spoke the Hemw 
as his vernacular tongue — Neither Elihu nor Moses, rather Job himself» 
or some contemporary— ITbis appears to be the oldest book extant : 
founded upon true history, and contains no allegory— Although extceme- 
ly obscure, still the general subject and design are suiBcientfir evident— 
A short and general analysis ot the whole work ; in which the obscurer 
passages are brou^t as little as possible in question — ^The deductions 
from this disquisition — 1 The subject of the controversy between Job 
and his iriend»--2. The subject of the whole poem — 3. Its end or pur- 
pose — All questions not necessarily appertaining to this point to be 
avoided, 445 

The poem of Job commonly accounted dramatic ; and thoueht by many 
to be of the same kind with the Greek Tragedy : this opimon examined. 
A plot or fable essential to a regular drama ; its definition and essential 
qualities according to Aristotle—Demonstrated, that the poem of Job 
does not contain any plot : its form and design more fully explained-<- 
Compared witli the Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles ; with the Oedipus 
Coloneus ; and shewn to differ entirely from both in form and manner — 
It is nevertheless a roost beautiful and perfect performance in its kind : 
it approaches very near the form of a perfect drama ; and, for regularity 
in form and arrangement, justly claims the first place among the poet- 
ical compositions of the Hebrews, 469 




Though the poem of Job do not contain a plot or fable, it possesses, nev- 
erth^ess, some things in common with tlie perfect drama — Maititeks or 
character— The manners of Job ; to be distinguished from the passions 
or emotions— *The opinion of Aristotle, that the character of extreme 
virtue is not proper for tragedy, demonstrated to be neither applicable 
to Job, nor true with respect to tragedy in general— The design of the 
poem — ^The manners of the tliree friends : the gradations of passion more 
strongly marked in them than the diversity of manners — ^Elihu — ^The 
expostulation of God himself— SxnTiitEKTs ; expressive of things and 
of manners ; the latter already noticed ; the former consist partly of 
passion, partly of description : two examples of the softer passions: lex- 
amples of description— The Sttub of this poem uncommonly elegant and 
sublime ; and the poetic conformation of the sentences extremely cor- 
rectr^Peroration, recommending the study of Hebrew literature, 481 

A brief Confut»tk>n of Biahc^ Hare's System of Hdikeir Uetre^ ' 499 








The parpose of poetry ii to iiutruct while it gives pleasure t instraetion 
bdn^f the end, and pleasure the meaiUH-lllustnited by examples from the 
different species of poetiy^The Didactic— The Epic— Tragedy— Lyrio— 
the lighter kinds of poetiyy which are calculated as well for the amuse- 
ment of our leisure, as for the ornament and improrement of literature. 
Sacred poetry ; whence a transition to the immediate object of these 

XHOUGH^ our present meeting be, on some ac- 
counts, rather earlier than I coald have wished ; yet I 
cheerfully embrace the opportunity which it affords me 
of assuring you, gentlemen, that to this undertaking 
(whether considered as a duty imposed, or as a favour 
conferred upon me) I bring, if no other accomplishment, 
at least industry and inclination. I could, indeed, more 
patiently bear to be accused of wanting genius, fluency, 
or elegance, than of wanting diligence in the exercise of 
that office, to which your authority has called me, or 
gratitude in the acceptance of that favour, which (what- 
ever it be in itself) is undoubtedly great, since conferred 

1 The Prelector of poetry at Oxford is obliged by the statute to read his 
inaugural leisure the first Tuesday in the term subsequent to his election ; 
and it appears by the university register, that Mr. Lowtb was elected to the 
professorship on the 31st of May, 1741, in the vacation between Easter and 
Act term. As this vacation is only thirteen days, commencing the Thurs- 


on me by you. For to judge rightly of obligations of 
this kind, regard must be had not only to the favour it- 
self, but to the persons who confer it, and to the person 
on whom it is conferred. When, therefore, I reflect, 
that the station, to which I am invited, has been adorned 
by men of the first rank in genius and learning ; when 
I regard you, whosb &vour cati add dignity to the most 
respectable characters ; when, in fine, I consider myself, 
who could never have expected or hd^ied fh>m my own 
merits for any public testimony of your approbation ; I 
receive this appointrnqnt as an honour, for which the ut- 
most exertions of labour and assiduity will be but a ve« 
ry inadequate return. This part of my duty, however, 
though feebly and iniperfectly, I would wish you to be- 
lieve I most willingly peifomi : for to an ingenuous mind 
nothing can be more agreeable than the expression, or 
even the sense of gratitude ; and the remembrance of 
the obligation will rather stimulate than depress. Other 
considerations have, I must confess, tendered me not a 
little solicitous : I am appointed to superintend a partic- 
ular department of science, which you have constantly 
distinguished by your presencp and attention ; and a 
subject is to be discussed, which not only you have 

day before Whitsunday, and ending the Wednesday after Trinity Sunday, 
the longest interval that could possibly happen between his election and his 
first lecture is somewhat less than three weeks : It ntight probably be much 
shorttr. Even in his youth bishop Lowth Was di^inguished by the cautious 
accuracy of bis judgement $ he therefore very properly introduces a plan^ 
upon which he was to work for ten years (the usual term of the professor- 
ship) with much modesty and reserve ; and when he speaks of meeting his 
constituents rather earlu (paulo maturius) he must be understood as re* 
gretting the little time, which by the statute was allowed him to prepare 
his introductory address. This fact will serve also to expUin some paisa» 
ges towards the conclusion of the lecture. 

For the substance of this note I am indebted to a very intelligent friend 
at Oxford, and am happy in this opportunity of returning my best acknowl- 
edgements, T, 

LscT. 1. OF POETRY. 5 

judged wordqr 6f your cultivation, acnd the public coan» 
tenancc of the university, but whidi has hitherto receiv- 
ed in this place all the embellishinems of grace and ele- 
gance, of which it is naturally susceptible. Should it 
therefiDne M into neglect or disrepute hereafter, I fear, 
that I shall be compelled to acknowledge the fault to 
have been aaine, and not that of the institution itself. 

Whatever degree of success indeed may attend my 
endeavours, \dt it not for a moment be suspected, that 
die design ib not altogether deserving of approbauon^ 
For can there be any thing of more real importance to 
^mttti^ itsctf, can any thing be more consistent with 
die ends for which this Univerrity was founded, than 
that the alt, of whose assistance every other art and pro« 
fession has so greatly availed itself, should be assigned 
a place among the rest? That art, so venerable for its 
antiquity, so delightful in itself; that art, which is in a 
manner congenial to humanity, and which sets off na< 
ture by the most agreeable representation of her beau* 
ties : which among the ignorant and the learned, the idle 
and the studious, has ever obtained favour, admiration 
and regard. Nothing surely can be more worthy of a 
liberal and accomplished mind, than to perceive what is 
perfect, and what is defective in an art, the beauties of 
which frequendy lie beneath the surface ; to understand 
what is graceful, what is becoming, in what itsexcellen* 
cies consist, and in a word to discover and relish those 
delicate touches of grace and elegance, that lie beyond 
the reach of vulgar apprehension. From these subtile 
researches after beauty and taste, there is also the fairest 
reason to aj^rehend that the judgement itself will re^ 
ceive some accessions of strength and acuteness, which 
it may successfully employ upon other objects, and up- 
on other occasions. Such at least appear to have been 


the sentiments of that excellent person/ to whose mu- 
nificence poetry has been long indebted for her admis- 
sion into the circle of those sciences which are cultivat- 
ed in this university. For possessing a mind not only 
instructed in the most useful branches of knowledge» 
but adorned with the most elegant arts ; and having im- 
bibed the first principles of education in a seminary, 
where the most important and sacred subjects, recom- 
mended»by all the elegance of polite literature, have been 
heretofore, and still continue to be, studied with vigour 
and e&ct; he saw and experienced, how much an at- 
tention to these elegancies would contribute to the in* 
vestigation or illustration of the severer branches of eru- 
dition, and how strict the alliance between philosophy 
and the muses. 

The design, therefore, of the author of this institution, 
as well as the usual practice on occasions like the pres- 
ent, reminds me, gentlemen, of the propriety (though 
a matter already familiar to most of you) of premising a 
few such observations, as appear least exceptionable con- 
cerning the end and utility of the poetic art. 

Poetry is commonly understood to have two objects 
in view, namely, advantage and pleasure, or rather an 
union of both. I wish those who have furnished us 
with this definition, had rather proposed utility as its 
ultimate object,' and pleasure as the means by which 

s The poetic lecture was instituted by Hxvkt Biekheao^ LL. D. fon^er- 
ly Fellow of All Souls. JluthorU J^ote. 

3 There are however poems which on!y delight, but which are not there- 
fore to be condemned. Some, which though they contain no moral pre- 
cepts, no commendation of virtue, no sentiment curious or abstruse, yet 
dress and adorn common ideas in such splendour of diction and harmony of 
numbers, as to aiford exquisite pleasure ; they bring, as it were before our 
eyes, the woods and streams, and all the elegant and enchanting objects of 
nature. The excellence of such poems is founded upon the aame pnnoiple 


that end) may be eflfectually accomplished* The philoa- 
ofiier and the poet indeed seem principally to differ in 
the means, by which they pursue the same end. Each 
sustains the character of a preceptor, which the one is 
thought best to support, if he teach with accuracy, widi 
subtle^, and with perspicuiQr ; the other, with spkn* 
dour, harmony, and elegance. The one makes hb ap* 
peal to reason only, independent of the passions ; the 
other addresses the reason in such a;manner, as<^even to 
engagie the passions on his side. The one proceeds to 
virtue and truth by the nearest and most compendious 
wsLfs ; the other leads to the same point through certain* 
deflexions and deviations, by a winding, but pleasanter 
path. It is the part of the former so to describe and 
explain these objects, that we must necessarily become 
acquainted with them ; it b the part of the latter so to 
dress and adorn them, that of our own accord we must 
love and embrace them. 

I therefore lay it down as a fundamental maxim, that 
poetry is useful, chiefly because it is agreeable ; and 
should I, as we are a|^ to do, attribute too much to my 
favourite occupation, I trust philosophy will forgive me, 
when I add, that the writings of the poet are moir use- 
ful than those of the philosopher, inasmuch as they are 
more agreeable. To illustrate this position by well 
known examples : Can it be supposed that the more 
learned Romans, when they became devoted to the doc- 
trine of Epicurus, did not more highly esteem, and 
more frequently apply to the admirable poem of Lucre- 

with that of a beautiful picture» which it more valued for contributhi^ to 
pleasure only, than many other things are for their actual utility. What 
follows I greatly approre : only I would not wish it to be denied, that there 
are some poems which have no design but that of giving pleasure, and that 
this is even a laudable end; nor indeed does our author altogether suppose 
this imposaible. M. 


tius, than to Catius, or Amafaaius, or even the com- 
mentaries of £picun]s himself? Who can believe thai 
even th/e roost tasteless could penise the writings on 
agriculture, either of the learned Varro, or (not to men* 
tioQ the elder Cato) of Columella, an author by no means 
deficient in elegance, with the same pleasure and atten^ 
lion aa that most delightful and tnost perfeol worl^, tfan 
Georgica of Virgil ? A work in which he haa e^aUo4 
Ijhe most .respectable writrvs in the aolidi^ of hb mat* 
tar/ and has greatly excelled the moat elegant ifk the 
incredible hanmmy of hm numbers. On the oontcaiyv 
}f Maniliua, who b numbered (and righdy if wc maf 
credit his own testimonjr) among the writcra of the 
Augustan age, has treated the engaging science of as^ 
tronon^ in such low and inelegant verse, aaeven acaix^e» 
ly to excel Julius Firmicus, a prose writer on the same 
subject in a less polished age, I will allow him the merit 
of a philosopher and astronomer, but never can account 
him a poet* ' For what is a poet, destitute of harmony, 
of grace, and of 4II that conduces to allurement and de« 
light ? or how should we derive advantage or improve* 
ment from an author, whom no man of taste can endure 
to read ? The reason, therefore, why poetiy is so studi* 

4 SnriCA teems to detract from tlie authoritir of yxBou.^8 Oe^rgietf de- 
■cribing him as an author, **who studied truth less th^n ele^^ance; and 
wished nitber to delight the reader» than to instruct the husbimdman." 
CoKUMKUiA» however, seems to be of a very diflferent opinion, and I cannot 
help thinking him 9. much better judge. He continaallx cites the 9e9rgiu$ 
never with any degree of blame, and generally with Uie greatest applause: 
" this mode we shall pursue, if we may trust the poet, whose authority on 
such occasions I esteem litde less than an oracle." Lib. 4. " I shall fre- 
^uenUy make use of the authority of this divine poem.** JUb. vii. 3. fn 
the very matter for which Siitsga finds fault with Vieoil, namely, the 
time of sowing millet, the reader will see how ignorantly the poet b cen- 
tred by the philosopher, if he consults Coivxijuu, U, 9. PLnr. N. H. 
tviiir. Paiaab. m. 3. •IvlAfr'ffisfe. 

L*cT. I. OF POETRY. 9 

ous to embellish her precepts with a certain inviting 
sweetness, and as it were 

^^« tinctyre tbem with the honey of the muses/* 

is plainly, by such seasoning to conciliate favour to her 
doctrine, as is the practice even of physicians, who tem- 
per with pleasant flavours their least agreeable medi- 

« Thus the sick infant's taste disg^uis'd to meet» 
« They tinge the vessol's brim with juices sweet | 
** The bitter draught hb willing lip receires ; 
<* He drinks deceiv'd, and so deceived he lives ;** 

as Lucretius expresses himself in illustration of his own 
design, as well as that of poetry in general. 

But if it be manifest, even in authors who directly 
profess improvement and advantage, that those will \ 
most efficaciously instruct, who afford most entertain- J 
ment ; the same will be still more apparent in those, 
who, dissembling the intention of instruction, exhibit 
only the blandishments of pleasure ; and while they treat 
of the most important things, of all the principles of 
moral action, all the offices of life, yet laying aside the 
severity of the preceptor, adduce at once all the decora- 
tions of elegance, and all the attractions of amusement : 
who display, as in a picture, the actions, the manners, 
the pursuits and passions of men ; and by the force of 
imitation and fancy, by the harmony of numbers, by the 
taste and variety of imagery, captivate the affections of 
the reader, and imperceptibly, or perhaps reluctantly, 
impel him to the pursuit of virtue. Such is the real 
purpose of heroic poetry ; such is the noble effect pro- 
duced^by the perusal of Homer. And who so thought- 
less, or so callous, as not to feel incredible pleasure in 
that most agreeable occupation ; who is not moved, as^ 


tonished, enraptured by the inspiration of that most 
sublime genius? Who so inanimate as not to see, not 
to feel inscribed, or as it were imprinted upon his heart, 
his most excellent maxims concerning human life and 
manners ? From philosophy a few cold precepts may be 
deduced ; in history some dull and spiridess examples 
of manners may be found : here we have the energetic 
voice of virtue herself, here we behold her animated 
form. Poetry addresses her precepts not to the reason 
alone, she calls the passions to her aid : she not only 
exhibits examples, but infixes them in the mind. She 
softens the wax with her peculiar ardour, and renders it 
more plastic to the artistes liand. Thus does Horace 
most truly and most justly apply this commendation to 
the poets : 

«« What's fair, and false, and right, these bards describe, 
«^ Better and plainer than the Stoic tribe i** 

Plainer or more completely, because they do not per- 
plex their disciples with the dry detail of parts and de- 
finitions, but so perfectly and so accurately delineate by 
examples of every kind, the forms of the human pas*- 
sions and habits, the principles of social and civilized 
life, that he, who from the schools of philosophy should 
turn to the representations of Homer, would feel him- 
self transported from a narrow and mtricate path to an 
extensive and flourishing field. Better, because the 
poet teaches not by maxims and pretepts, and in the 
dull, sententious form ; but by the harmony of verse, 
by the beauty of imagery, by the ingenuity of the fable, 
by the exactness of imitation, he allures and interests 
the mind of the reader, he fashions it to habits of vir- 
tue, and in a manner informs it with the spirit of integ- 
rity itself. 

LscT. I. OP POETRY. 11 

But if, from the heroic we turn to the tragic Muse, 
lo which Aristotle' indeed assigns the preference, be- 
cause of the true and perfect imitation, we shall yet 
more clearly evince the superiority of poetry over phi- 
losophy, on the principle of its being more agreeable. 
Tragedy is, in truth, no other than philosophy introduced 
upon the stage, retaining all its natural properties, remit- 
ting nothing of its native gravity, but assisted and embeU 
fished by other favouring circumstances. What point» 
for instance, of moral discipline have the tragic writers of 
Greece left untouched, or unadorned ? What duty of 
life, what principle of political economy, what motive or 
precept for the government of the passions, what com- 
mendation of virtue is there, which they have not treat- 
ed of with fulness, variety, and learning ? The moral 
of ^schylus (not only a poet, but a Pythagorean) will 
ever be admired. Nor were Sophocles and Euripides 
less illustrious for the reputation of wisdom ; the latter 
of whom was the disciple of Socrates and Anaxagoras, 
and was known among his friends by the title of the 
dramatic philosopher. In these authora surely, the al- 
lurements of poetry afforded some accession to the em- 
pire of philosophy ; nor indeed has any man arrived at 
the summit of poeUc feme, who did not previously lay 
the foundation of his ait in true philosophy. 

Should it be objected, that some have been eminent 
in this walk of poetry, who never studied in the schoob 
of the philosqphera, nor enjoyed the advantages of an 
education above the common herd of mankind ; I an- 
swer, that I am not contending about the vulgar opin- 
ion, or concerning the meaning of 'a word : the man 
who, by the force of genius and observation, has arriv- 
ed at a perfect knowledge of mankind, who has ac- 

' Boe$, Cap. nit. 


quainted himself with the natural powers of the human 
mind, and the causes by which the passions are excited 
and repressed ; who not only in words can explain, but 
cijn deUneate to the senses everv emotion of the soul ; 
who can excite, can temper and regulate the passions ; 
such a man, though he may not have acquired erudition 
by the common methods, I esteem a true philosopher. 
The passion of jealousy, its causes, circumstances, its 
pr<%ress and efiectBi, I hold to be more accurately, more 
copiously, more satisfactorily described in one of the 
dramas of Shakspeare, than in all the disputations of the 
schools of philosophy. 

Now if tragedy be of so truly a philosophical nature ; 
and if to all the force and gravity of wisdom it add 
graces and allurements peculiarly its own, the harmony 
of verse, the contrivance of the faUe, the excellence of 
imitation, the truth of action ; shall we not say that phi- 
losophy must yield to poetry in point of utility ; or shall 
we not rather say, that the former is greatly indebted to 
the latter, of whose assistance and recommendation it 
makes so advantageous a use, in order to attain its par-« 
ticular purpose, utility or improvement? 

** But if the force of imitation and fable be so great, 
the fotce of truth itself must surely appear much great- 
er : we should therefore apply to history rather than to 
poetrj' for instruction in morals," This however is a 
mistaken notion. • History is confined within too narrow 
limits ; history is subject to laws peculiar to itself, and 
too Si vere to admit of such an application. It relates 
things as they really were, it traces events under the 
guidance of authority ; it must exhibit what has hap- 
pened, not what might or ou^ht to have happened. It 
must not dt viate in quest of reasonable instruction or 
plaubibie conjecture, but confine itself to that path) 

ijicT. I- OF POETRY. IS 

which the stublxMnness of fact has prescribed. History 
treats of thii^ and persons which have been in actual 
existence ; the subjects of poetry are infinite and uni- 
versal. The one investigates causes through the uncer- 
tain medium of conjecture ; the other demonstrates them 
with clearness and certainty. The one catches the casual 
glimpses of truth, whenever they break forth to the 
view ; the other contemplates her unclouded appearance. 
History pursues her appointed journey by a direct path ; 
poetry ranges uncontrolled over the wide expanse of 
nature. The former must make her precepts subser- 
vient to the subject ; the latter forms a subject subordi- 
nate to her precepts and design. For these reasons 
poetry is defined by Aristotle to be something of a more 
sak^lis wd philosophical nature tlian history ;^ nor is our 
Bacon (a name not inferior in literature) <^ a different 
sentiment. The subject itself, and the authority of so 
great a man, require that the passage should be quoted 
in his own words. ** Since the sensible world is in dig- 
** nity inferior to the rational soul ; poetry seems to en- 
" dow human nature with that which lies beyond the 
'* power of history, and to gratify the mind with at least 
" the shadow of things, where the substance cannot be 
'* had. For if the matter be properly considered, an 
'* argument may be drawn from poetry, that a superior 
** d'^nity in things, a more perfect order, and a more 
** beautiful variety delights the soul of man, than is 
*' found in nature since the ialL As, therefore, the ac« 
*' tions and events, which are the subject of true history, 
*^ are not of sufficient amplitude to content the nund of 
^* man ; poetry b at hand, and invents actions of a more 
*^ heroic nature. Because true history reports the sue- 

* Km OiX«7«^WIif«r mm ^imimfStftf vmnt if «f mh <f »• Aeist. Pgcts 
c. 9. Ai*th9f^9 J\r9te, 



^ cess of events not proportionably to desert, or accord- 
** ing to the virtue or vice that has been displayed in 
^^ them ; poetry corrects this, and represents events and 
** fortunes according to justice and merit : Because true 
'* history, from the obvious similarity of actions, and the 
*' satiety which this circumstance most occasion, fre» 
^' quently creates a distaste in the mind ; poetry cheers 
** and re&reshes it, exhibiting thii^ uncommon, varied^ 
** and fuU of vicissitude. As poetry, th^^fin^, contr3>utes 
*'not oii\y to pleasure, but to magnemift^ity and good 
** morals; it is deservedly supposed to participate in 
** some measure of divine inspiraticxi ; since it raises the 
^^ mind, and fills it with sublime ideas, by proportioning 
^« the appearances of things to the desires d the mind ; 
^ and not submitting the mind to things, like reason 
" and history.'** 

That elevation of sentiment, that in^iration, that use- 
^ fulness in forming the manners, is however by no means 
so peculiar to the epic (to which that great man chiefly 
refers in this passage) as to exclude the claim of every 
other species of poetry ; there are others which also de- 
serve to partake in the commendation : and first the 

^ With tbotightt that breathe, and «onk that bum ;'' 

which, though in some respects inferior to what are 
called die higher species of poetry, yields to none in 
force, ardour, and sometimes even in dignity and so- 
lemnity. Every species of poetry has in fact its pecul- 
iar mode of acting on the human feelings ; the general 
e&ct is perhaps the same. The epic accomplishes its 
design with more leisure, with more consideration and 
care, and therefore probably with greater certainty. It 
more gradually insinuates itself, it penetrates, it moves, 

'' De Au^r^ Sdenu L.IL la 

Lmct. I. Ot POETRY. TS 

it delights ; now rising to a high degree ()f sublimity, 
now subsiding to its accustomed smoothness ; and con- 
ducting the reader through a varied and delightful 
scene, it applies a gentle constraint to the mind, making 
its Impression by the forcible nature of this application, 
but more especially by its continuance. The ode, on 
die contrary, strikes with an instantaneous effect, a- 
mazes, and as it were storms the dfl^tions. 'fhe one 
may be compared to a flame, which, fimned by the 
winds, gradually spreads itself on all sides, and at last 
involves every object in tfie conflagration ; the other to 
a flash of lightning, which instantaneously bursts forth, 

<( With instant ruin threats g^eat nature's frame, 
« And shoots through cv't^ part the vivid flame.** 

The amazing power of lyric poetry in directing the 
passions, in forming the manners, in maintaining civil 
life, and particularly in exciting and cherishing that 
generous elevation of sentiment, on which the very ex- 
btence of public virtue seems to depend, will be suffic- 
iently apparent by only contemplating those monuments 
of genius, which Greece has bequeathed to posterity* 
If we examine the poems of Pindar (which, though by 
no means accounted the most excellent of their kind, 
by some strange fatality are almost the only specimens 
that remain) how exquisite must have been the pleas- 
ure, how vivid the sensation to the Greek, whose ordi- 
nary amusement it was to sing, or hear them sung ! 
For this kind of entertainment was not confined to per- 
sons of taste and learning, but had grown into general 
use. When he heard his gods, his heroes, his ances- 
tors received into the number of the gods, celebrated in 
a manner so glorious, so divine, would not his bosom 
glow with the desire of fame, with the most fervid em- 
ulation of virtue, with a patriotism, immoderate per- 


haps, but honourable and useful in the highest degree f 
Is it wonderful, that he should be so elevated with this 
greatness of mind (shall I call it?) or rather insolence 
and pride, as to esteem every other people mean, bar- 
barous and contemptible, in comparison with himself 
and his own countrymen ? It is almost unnecessary to. 
remind this assembly, that, in the sacred games (which 
aflbrded so much support to the warlike, virtue of. 
Greece)* no inconsiderable share of dignity and esteem, 
resulted from the verses of the. poets ; nor did the O** 
lympic crown exhibit a more ample reward to the Can-; 
didate for victory, than the enqomium of Pindar or Ste-*; 
sichorus* I wish, indeed, that time had not invidious- 
ly deprived us of the works of the latter, whose majesty 
and excellence commanded universal applause, whom 
Dionysius* preferred before every other Lyric poet,, 
because he made choice of the sublimest and most 
splendid subjects, and in the amplification of them pre- 
served most completely the manners and the dignity of 
his characters. To Alcaeus, however, the same author 
attributes the most excellent manner of treating politic- 
al subjects.*^ As a man, indeed, how great ! as a citi- 
zen how strenuous ! What a spirited defender of the 
laws and constitution of his country ! What a vigorous 
opposer of tyrants ! who consecrated equally his sword 
and his lyre on the altar of freedom ! whose prophetic 
Muse, ranging throu^ every region, acted as the sacred 
guardian, not for the present moment only, but for fu- 
ture ages ; not of his own city alone, but of the whole 
commonwealth of Greece. Poetry such as this, so 
^'ehement, so animated, is certainly to be esteemed 

• Consult the disaerUtkmof the learned Gilbxat Wist on the Olympic 
garnet. Sect zvii. 
« Diojr. Haijoar. T. II. p. 123. Edit. Hudson. lo ibid. 

L*et. I. OP POETRY. if 

highly efficacious as well in exciting tht hrnnan mind 
to virtue* as in purifying it from every mean and vicious 
propensity ; but still more especially does it conduce to 
cherish and support that vigour of soul, that generous 
temper and spirit, which is both the offspring and 
guardian of Liberty. Could an apprehension arise» 
that another Pisistratas would meditate the enslaving of 
that city, where at every banquet, nay, in the streets 
and in the meanest assemblies of the common people, 
that convivial ode was daily sung, which bears the name 
of Callistratus ? An author known to us only by this 
composition, which however sufficiently demonstrates 
him to have been an admirable poet and an excellent 
citizen :" f 

11 K-nMnrnvn^ Zib. XV. This SkoUm (or convivial longp) some have at- 
tributed to \lcttQ8 : but not conformably with strict chronology ; for AU 
OKUs (loitfislied about eigbty years before the death of Hipparchus. But 
HuTCRTus has preserved the name of the author from oblivion^ directly 
assigning the poem to Callistbatits. This poem was so celebrated at 
Athens, that it was sung a.t alaiMt «veiy banquet, as we lea|B from Aais- 
ToniAHxsy A^ttf^. 977. 

" Grin) vifftg'd War shall never be my gilest, 

** Nor at my table sing^ Hannodius' pratte *. 

** Such lawless riot mars our temp*rate joys/* 
** He ilud! liever sing^ Harmodius with me :" that is, he shall never be ny 
piest Upon this passage the Sghouast : ** In theit convivial meetings 
tfafcy sung* a eertam. ballad of Harmodius, which begins ^i*3m!k Af/*^a n, r, a.'* 
Also in the same comedy, 109S, these songs are enumerated amon^ the 
«ther appaimtus of the entertainment : 

^ The spri^tly dance : Harmodius ! tl&y deKgfat." 
There is an allusion to the same Aurir. 633. 

•* My sword Fll bear hid in a myrtle branch ; 

*' And like AHstogfiton walk m arms.^ 
It Is evident from this ballad, that the «onsptrators, when they assaulted 
Hipparchtts, concealed their dag^gers In those inyrtle garlands, which, if I 
mistake not, were carried by all who assisted at the sacred rites of the 
Ponathetudc sacrifice : and this is indeed cmrfirmed by the STcholiast upon 
Aristophanes, in the passage before referred to : ** For these men, Harmo- 
diua and Aristogiton, hastiiy drawing their swords out bf the myrtle 



Verdant myrtle's branchy pride, 

Shall my thirsty blade entwine :, 
Such, Harmodius, deck'd thy side, 

Such, Aristogiton, thine. 
Noblest youths ! in islands blest, 

Not like recreant idlers dead } 
fou with fleet Pelioes rest» 

And with godlike Diomkd. 

Myrtle shall our brows entwine» 

While the Muse your fame shall tell ; 
'Twas at Pallas' sacred shrine. 

At your feet the tyrant fell. 
Then in Athens all was peace, 

Equal laws and liberty : 
Nurse of ana and eye of Greece, 

People valiant, firm and free 1^' 

boughs, fell fm*iou8ly upon the tyrant." Hence perhaps arose the custom^ 
that whoever sung any convivial song in company, always held a branch of 
xtiyrtle in his hand. See Plutabcb 1, Symp. ^test, 1. Author^» JVofe. 

Our CoLLiirs in particular has attributed this poem to Aicjbvs, in the 
following beautiful lines : 

•• What new Alcxus, fancy blest, 
'*Sha]l sing the sword, in myrtles drest^ 
■< At Wisdom's shrine a while its flame concealing, 

" (What place so fit to seal a deed renown'd ?) 
** Till she her brightest lightnings round revealing, 
*< It leap'd in glory forth, and dealt her prompted wound." 

Ode to Liberty. 

IS The above imitation, all but the third stanza, is taken from a para- 
phrase of this poem, said to be the production of Sir W. JoinM. The fbU 
lowing is a more literal translation by Mr. Cuxbiblak]» : 
" He is not dead, our best belov*d 

*' Harmodius is not lost, 
" But with Troy's conquerors remov'd 

'* To some more happy coast. 
•• Bind then the myrtle's mystic bough, 

** And wave your swords around, 
«• For so they struck the tyrant low, 

" And so their swords were bound. 
" Perpetual objects of our love 

« Tlie patriot pair shall be, 
** Who in Minerva's sacred grove 

" Struck and set Athens free.'* Obtet-ber, No. 9. T. 

L«CT. 1. OF POETRY. 19 

If after the memorable Ides of March, any one of the 
Tyrannicides had delivered to the populace such, a po- 
em as this, had introduced it to the Suburra, to the as- 
semblies of the Forum, or had put it into tlie mouths of 
the common people, the dominion of the Caesars and 
its adherents would have been totally extinguished: 
and I am firmly persuaded, that one stanza of this sim- 
ple ballad of Harmodius would have been more effectu- 
al than all the Philippics of Cicero. 

There are some other species of poetry, which with 
us generally appear in an easy and familiar style, but 
formerly assumed sometimes a graVer and more impor- 
tant character. Such is the elegy ; I do not speak of 
the light and amorous elegy of the moderns, but that 
ancient, serious, sacred, and didactic elegy, the precep- 
tress of morals, the lawgiver of nations, the oracle of 
virtue. Not to enter into a detail of authors, of whose 
works we are not in possession, and of whose merits 
we consequently can form no adequate judgement, it 
will be sufficient to instance Solon, the most venerable 
character of antiquity, the wisest of legislators, and 
withal a poet of no mean reputation. When any thing 
difficult or perplexing occurred in the administration of 
public a&irs, we are informed that he had recourse to 
poetry." Were the laws to be maintained or enforced 
upon any particular emei^ncy ; was the indolence or 
licentiousness of the citizens to be reproved ; were th^ir 
minds to be stimulated to the love of liberty, he imme- 
diately attacked them with some poetical production, 
bold, animated, and severe, in the highest tone of cen- 
sorial gravity, and yet in no respect deficient in ele- 

IS See Plutabcb & Diog. Lasbt. Life of Solon, 


<< 9efcr€ the Bwfuf pe»! the lightning fliea, 
And gathering clouds iinptodiog storms presage ; 

By aouls aspiring civil freedom dies ; 

The people's madness whets the tyrant's rage.'* 

^19 a well-known fact, that Athens was altogether in« 
debted for the recovery of Salamia to the verses of So* 
Ion ; even contrary to their own inclination and inten- 
tipq. After they bad, from repeated overthrows, fallen, 
into the deepest despa^', insomuch that it was made a 
capital o&nce, even to propose the renewal of the war» 
or the reclaiming of the island, such was the influence 
of that single poem, which begins--— ^^ Let us march to 
Salamis," that as if pronounced by a prophet, instinct 
with divine enthusiasm, the people, propelled by a kind 
of celestial inspiration, flew immediately to arms, became 
clamorous for war, and sought the field of battle with 
such incredible ardour, that by the violence of their on- 
setf after a great slau^ter of the enemy, they achieved 
a most decisive victory. 

We have also some remains of the celebrated Tyr- 
tasus, who 

" manly soub to martial deed^ 
By verse e3(cUedr'* 

The whole scope i^nd siibject of his compositions, b the 
celebration of valour and patriotism, and the immortal 
gjpry of those, who bravely fell in battie :**^*cc)inpoal^ 
tions, which could impart some degree of courage even 
to the timid and upn^nly ; by which,, indeed, heekvatn 
ed the minds of the LMcedemoDiaWt which bad been 
long debilitated ^nd depressed, to the certain hope rf 
•victory. The fact is well known^ and had it not been 
corroborated by the testimony of so many authors, it 
would doubtless have been thought by some incredible i 
though I confess it appears to me no less supported by 

Lmt. 1« Off FOETRY. 31 

the foison of Aiags than by the aulhority of die histori- 
an. It is inpcfisible that men should act otherwise than 
with the most heroic ardour, die moat undaunted reso* 
hition, who aung to the anartialpipe, when arranged in 
mtlitaiy order, marching to the onset, or perhaps adu-* 
atty engaged, sui^ straina aa these : 

Our country's voice invites the brave 

The gtorbus loilft of war I» try ; 
Curs'd be the cov^i^ or %i» a^ire. 

Who shtto^ thfC fi^t, ipnfao fears to die I 

Obedient tp tlia hi(h owmiaii4 

Fuli f^ni^ht with patriouc firtf 
Descends a small but trusij 'bandy 

And scarce restrains th' impatient ire* 

Lo the hostile crouds advance I 

Firmly we their might oppose^ 
Helm to helm, and lance to lance, 

Id awful pomp we meet our foes^ 

Unaw'd by fear, untaught to yield, 

We boldly tread th' ensanguin'd plain : 
And scorn to quit the. martial field. 

Though drench'd in blood, though heap*d with slain. 

For though stem deaith assail the brave. 

His virtues endless life shall claim ; 
His fame shall mock th! invidious grave, 

To times unburn a sacred name ! 

Not entiid3r to onni the lighter kinds of poetry, many 
will think that we allow them full enough, uhen we sup« 
ppse their utility to consist in the entertainment which 
they affovd. Nor b this, gentlemen, altogether to be 
despised^ if it be considered that this entertainment, this 
levity itself; a£forda relaxation to the mind when wearied 
with the hdboriou^ investigation of truth ; that it unbends 
the understanding, after intense application ; restores it 
whm debilitated; and refireahes it, even by an mter- 


change and variety of study. In this we are counte- 
nanced by the example and authority of the greatest men 
of Greece, by that of Solon, Plato and Aristotle ; among 
the tlomans, by that of Scipio and Laelius, Julius and 
Augustus Caesar, Varro and Brutus, who filled up the 
intervals of their more important engagements, tbeirse* 
verer studies, with the agreeabkness and hilariqr of this 
poetical talent. Nature indeed seems in this most wise- 
ly to have consulted for us, who, while she impels us to 
the knowledge of truth, which is frequently remote, and 
only to be prosecuted with inde&tigable industry, has 
provided also these pleasing recreations, as a refuge to 
the mind, in which it might occasionally shelter itself, 
and find an agreeable relief from languor and anxiety. 

But there is yet a further advantage to be derived 
from these studies, which ought not to be neglected ; 
for beside possessing in reserve a certain solace of your 
labours, from the same repositcHy you will also be sup* 
plied with many of the brightest ornaments of literature. 
The first object is, indeed, to perceive and comprehend 
clearly the reasons, principles, and relations of things ; 
the next is to be able to explain your conceptions not 
only with perspicuity, but with a degree of elegance. 
For in this respect we are all of us in some measure 
fastidious : we are seldom contented with a jejune and 
naked exposition even of the most serious subjects ; 
some of the seasonings of art, some ornaments of style» 
some splendor of diction, arc of necessity to be adopted; 
even some regard is due to the harmony of. mimbers, < 
and to the gratification of the ear. In all these respects, 
though I grant that the language of pdetry differs very 
widely from that of all other kinds of composkion, yet 
he, who has bestowed some time and attention on the 
perusal and imitation of (lie poets, will, I am persuaded. 

tin. !• OF POETRY. aS 

find his understanding exercised and improved as it 
m^ere in this Palsestra, the vigour and activity of his im- 
agination increased, and even his manner of expression 
to have insensiUy acquired a tinge from this elegant in* 
tercourae. Thus we observe in persons, who have 
been tau^t to dance, a ceilaui indescribable grace and 
manner ; though they do not form their common ges- 
ture and gait by any certain rules, yet there results 
from that exercise a degree of elegance, which accom* 
panies those who have been proficients in it, even when 
they have relinquished the practice. Nor is it in the 
kast improbable, that both Csesar and TuUy^^ (die one 
the most elegant, the other the most eloquent of the 
Romans) might have derived considerable assistance 
fi^m the cultivation of this branch of polite literature, 
since it is well known, that both of them were addicted 
to the reading of poetry, and even exercised in the com* 
position of it.^' Thb too is so apparent in the writings 

14 <* It Will not be inconsistent with these studies to amuse yourself with 
^ Poetry : — ^Tully indeed appears to me to have acquired that luminous 
** and splendid diction which he possessed, by occasionally resorting to 
" such occupations." Qcixct. Lid, X. 5. jhahor^t A*oftf. 

1' It may be doubted whether Oicsbo was indebted for his excellence at 
an orator to the cultivation of Poetry. He would have been accounted bu^ 
a moderate orator, if his orations had only equalled his poetry, had he 
spoken as he sung : 

** Fortune foretun'd the dying notes of Rome i 

" Till I thy Consul sole, consol'd thy doom.** 
I do not expect from Cicsbo the polish and perfection of TrsoiL, but 
me might at least have hoped to meet in his verse some of that fire and 
hncy which appears in his oratory. The case however is ftr otherwise^ 
for he appears not deficient in art, but in nature ; in that energy and en- 
thusiasm, which is called the poetic Juror, 

T7pon very mature consideration, indeed, I will venture to proless, that 
however Fbetry may contribate to form an aecompUshed orator, I hatdly* 
ever expect to find the same person excellent in both arts. The language* 
of Poetry has something in it so different and contrary to that of Oratory» 
that we seldom find those whp have, implied much ti> the one rise above 



of Pbto, that he is thought not only to have erred ii» 
his judgement, but to have acted ^it ungratefal part^ 
when he exchrded from his tmaj^inarjr commonwealdf 
that art, to which he was so much indebted Sat xhig 
qriendoor and elegance of his genius, from whose fouti» 
tfains he had derived tiiat soft, copious, and harmdiibUft 
style, for wbioh be is so juitly admifdd* 

But to r^ilrft to thii nobler and mof^ iAiporfeait pfiv 
dactiona of the Muses. Thus far poetfy tnudt be al- 
lowed to stsmd emineni «noifg the odier liberal artb ; 
inasmQeh as it refreshes the mind when it te fii%uerf, 
soothes it when it is i^itated^ urtievea and invigorates it 
when it is depressed t as it elevates the thoughts to die 
admiration of what is beaotifiil, what is becoming, what 
is great and noUe : nor is it enough to say, that it de- 
livers the precepts of virtue in the most agreeable msai* 
ner ; it insinuates or instils into the soul the very prin* 
eipies of morality' itself* Moreover, since the desire of 

medbcrity in the other. The chief extdlence of tax Orator consists in 
perspicuity, and in such a degp'ee of perspicuity as is necessary to render 
the compoattlon inteUifpibte even to the common pieople : hut» Uioagh ob- 
jicurity be not a necessary adjunct of a good poem» it must be considera- 
bly superior to the language and comprehension of the vulgar to rank 
jtbove mediocrity. The Orator must not deviate from the common and 
b^ten track of language ; the Poet must aim at a happy boldness of dic- 
tion, and wander into new paths. The Orator, in order to be generally un- 
derstood, is necessarily more copious and prolix not only than the Poet, 
but than all other wrrters s the chief commendation of the Poet is brevity. 
A poem is always enervated by circumlocutions, unless new lig^ of sen- 
ihnent and language are thrown in. For these aAd other reasons, I am of 
c^inion, that if a well-cultivated genius for Poetry should apply earnestly 
to Oratory, he might indeed prove such an Orator as would jdease a leun- 
cd audience, Mid not be unpleasing to the populace ; but such a man will 
never prove a very popular Orator, on whom the people shall gasse with 
admiration and rapture, and who shall aequiK a perfect aseendancy over 
«H their poMtons : and he wto is by nature an Onttor, may poMibly be • 
Poet for the multitude, ov by art and study, and the imitation of tiie best 
models, niay make a decent proficiency, but he nerer can be a great and 
divine PoeL M. 

U«v. 1. Olf PO£tRY. SI 

I^Kxy, innale in man, af^ars to be the most pnwciful 
incentive to groat and heroic actions, it is the peculitf 
fonction of poetiy to improve diis bias of our natere, and 
thus to cherisb and enliven the embers €i virtue z and 
^Bce one of the principal employ menls cS poe^ eoiii* 
sists in the celebration of gveat and virtuous aptiona, io 
ttansmitting to posterity die examples of the IravesI 
and most excellent of men, and in consecradng Iheit 
names to immortafity ; this praise is certainly ibdu'e^ 
llkat while it forms the mind to hslnls of reodtude by Ha 
precepts, directs it by example, excites and animatn» lA 
by lis peculiar force, it has also the distinguished hooout 
ef distributing to virtue the most^ ample and (fesirabh^ 
rewards of its labours. 

But after all, we shall think move humbly of poetry* 
than it deserves, unless^ we direct our attention to that 
quarter, where its importance is most eminently ecm- 
spicuoys ; unless we contemplate it as employed on sa- 
cred subjects, and in subservience to religion. This 
indeed appears to liave been the original office and des- 
tination of poetry ; and this it atiU so hapi^ly performs» 
tibat in all other eases it seems out oi character, as if in- 
tended for this purpose alone* In other instances poet- 
ry appears to want the assistance of art, but in this to 
shine forth with all ks natural splendour, or rather to be 
animat)ed by that inspiration, which cm other occasions 
is spoken of without being felt. These observations arc- 
remarkably exemplified in the Hebrew poetry,, than 
which the human mind can conceive nothing more ele- 
vated, more beautiful, or more elegant ; in which the 
almost ineffable sublimity of the subject is fully equalled 
by the enei^y of the language, and the dignity of the 
style. And it is worthy observation, that as some of 
these writings exceed in antiquity the fabulous ages of 


extent of my abHifcies ; and that for what is wanting in 
genius, in erudition, in' fluency, and in every tespect in 
^hich I feel myself deficient, I shall endeavour to com- 
pensate, as much as possible, by care and asmduity. If 
In these points I shall be enabled to perform my duty, 
I trust, gentlemen, that other defidences you will be 
kind enough to. excuse; and that the person whom 
yod have honoured widi your fiivour and attention; 
with your candour and indulgence^ you will contmiie 
IK) Mppoit; 



The dignity «f the Mbjett, «nd its tuitalilelMn to the fhngn of the iMti» 
ttttion— That poetry which proceeds from divine inspiration is not be- 
j^AiA <he ph>vince of criticism— Critioism win enable as to account for 
the «il^ of the irt» as well 4s «o form a just ssthnBtk» dfits dignity < 
that the opimon t>f the diyiie 4irigin of poetiy was oomman in Greece— 
This work purely critical : and consequently theological disquisitiona 
wili be avoided- The jgeneral distrlbation of the subject iitto ihrete 
psrte, the natim df the Terse» the style» and the arfangemoftt. 

^OGAAtEft, as we read in Plato^^ having been fre» 
quently admonished in a dream to apply to music ; and 
esteemii\g himself bound to fulfil a duty, which appear» 
ed to have been imposed upon him by4ivine authority, 
began with composing a hymn to Apollo, and after*, 
wards undertodiL to t/anslate some of the fables of ^* 
sop into verse. This he did, I aj^ehend, under the 
persuasion, that the first fruits of his poetry (which he 
esteemed the principal bmnch of the science of music') 
ought to be consecrated to the immortal gods ; and 
that it was not lawful for him, who was but litde versed 
in those studies, to descend to lighter subjects, which 
perhaps might in the main be more agreeable to his 
genius, before he had discharged the obligations of re^ 

^ In Phmd. sub init 

^ " What then is education ?— As hr as respects the body it consists in 
the gymnastic exercises ; as far as resi>ects the mind, it consists in h«ro 
mooy.'' FilaTo 4c JIfep, lah. H. AiUh^t Mte. 





ligion. It is my intention, gentlemen, to follow the 
example of this great philosopher ; and since the uni- 
versity has honoured me with this office of explaining 
to you the nature and principles of poetry, I mean 
to enter upon it from that quarter, whence he thought 
himself obliged to commence the study and practice of 
the 9rt. I have determined, therefore, in the first place, 
to treat of sacred poetr}% that species, I mean, which 
was cultivated by the ancient Hebrews, and which is 
peculiarly appropriated to subjects the most solemn and 
sublime ; that should my endeavours prove unequal to 
so great a subject, I may, as it were, with favourable 
auspices, descend to matters of inferior importance. I 
undertake this office, however, with the most perfect 
conviction, that not only from a r^;ard to duty it ought 
to be executed with diligence ; but from the respecta^ 
bility of that body, at whose command it is under- 
taken, it ought to be executed with honour and repu* 
tation ; nor is it merely to be considered what the in- 
tent of the institution and the improvement of the stu- 
dents may require, but what will be consistent with 
the dignity of this university. For since the university, 
when it gave its sanction to this species of di^ipline by 
a special degree, recommended the study of poetry, 
particularly because it might conduce Co the improve- 
ment of the more important sciences, as well sacred as 
pro&ne,' nothing could certainly appear more useful in 
itself, or more agreeable to the purpose of this institu- 
tion, and the design of its learned patrons, than to treat 
of that species of poetry, which constitutes so consider» 
able a part of sacred literature, and excels all other poe- 
try, not less in the sublimity of the style, than in the 
dignity of the subject, 

9 See the statute relating to tfae*poetic lecture. 


It would not be easy, indeed, to assign a reason, 
why the writings of Homer, of Pindar, and of Horace, 
should engross our attention and monopolize our praise, 
while those of Moses, of David and Isaiah pass totally 
unregarded. Shall we suppose that the subject is not 
adapted to a seminary, in which sacred literature has 
ever maintained a precedence ? Shall we say, that it is 
ibreign to this assembly of promising you^, of whom 
the greater part have consecrated the best portion of 
theic time and labour to the same department of learn- 
ing f Or must we conclude, that the writings of those 
men, who have accomplished <MiIy as much as human 
genius and ability could accomplish, should be reduc- 
ed to method and theory ; but that those which boast a 
much higher origin, and are jusdy attributed to the 
inspiration of the Holy Spirit, may be considered as in- 
deed illustrious by their native force and beauty, but 
not as conformable to the principles of science, nor to 
be circumscribed by any rules of art ? It is indeed most 
true, that sacred poetry, if we contemplate its origin 
alone, is far superior to both nature and art; but if we 
would rightly estimate its excellencies, that is, if we 
wish to understand its power in exciting the humati 
a&ctions, we must have recourse to both : for we must 
consider what those affections are, and by what means 
they are to be excited. Moreover, as in all other 
branches of science, so in poetry, art or theory con- 
sists in a certain knowledge derived from the careful 
observation of nature, and confirmed by practice and 
experience ; for men of learning having remarked in- 
things what Mras graceful, what was fit, what was con-^ 
ducive to the attainment of certain ends, they digested 
such discoveries as had been casually made, and re- 
duced them to an established order or method : whence 


it is evident, that art deduces its origin from die works 
of genius^ not that geraus has been formed or directed 
by art ; and that it is propeiiy applied in illustrating 
the works of even those writers, who were either ig« 
9oraDt of its rules, or inattentive to them. Since then 
k is die purpose of sacred poetry to Sotm the humaa 
mind to the constant habit of true virtue and piety, 
and to escice tibe more ardent a&ctions of the soul, in 
order to direct them to their proper end ; whoever liaft 
a dear ins^ht into the instnanents, the machinery as 
as it were, by which this, end is efibcted, will certainly 
eomribuie nol a little to the improvement of the criiiGafc 
art Kow although it be scarcely possible to penetrate 
to the fountains of this celestial Nile^ yet it may surely^ 
be alkxwed us to pursue the meanders of the stream, to 
mark the flux and reflux of its waters, and even to con« 
duct a few rivulets into the adjacent plains. 

The sacred poetry is undoubtedly entitled to die first 
rank in this school, since from it we ave to learn both 
the origin of the art, and how to estimate its excellence. 
The commencement of other arts, however rude and 
imperfect, and though employed only on light and trivial 
matters, is an inquiry geiiemlly prcductive of satis&c- 
tion and deSg^K* Here we may contemplate poetry in 
its very beginning ; not so much the offspring of hu* 
msMfi geniui^ as an emanation from heaven ; not gradu* 
ally increasing by small accessions, but from its birth 
possessing a certain maturity both of beauty and strength ; 
Wt administering to trifling passions^ and oflTering its 
delicious incense at the shrine of vanity, but the priest* 

^ Otir author either affects the orator too much in tliis passage, or too 
carelessly follows those Jews and Christians, who attribute all the Hebrew 
writing to the finger of God himself: He seems to foi*g^t, that, before tlic 
rites of Moses, the Muabibcs eelebmled tlie victorio» of tbeir king in a 


eas of divine twtb, the interouncbte between earth and 

hewen» For tim was the first aod peculiar office of 

poetiy» OQ the ooe hand to commend to the Almighty 

the |»rayer8 and than|;:agivings oi his creatures» and to 

oelebmle his pmi^es ;-^^Qd on the other, to display to 

iBankind the inyfiteries of the divine will, bdA the 

predictions of future events ; the best and ooUest of 

•tt emfiiloyments. It i» to thb observ«tiom .ii¥kffd, t^hst 

I would particularly point yo^ attention ; for it is plain 

fio^n» tbe.geociial tenour of 'the sacred volume» that th^ 

indications of future ieyents have been, almost without 

esmption» i^evealed in numbeis and in verse ; aod that 

ih^ same spirit was aocus^tomed tp impart, t:ty iis own 

omrgy, -^ once ^e presentiment of things, and to olothe 

it in «dl the .magmfioence, in all the elegance of poetry, 

that the sublimity of the style mi^t consist with senti- 

ments <so infinitely surpassing all human conception* 

Whcn.consideced, therefore, in this point of view, what 

is thene of all which the most devoted admirers of poet* 

«y Ji^ave.ever wiitten or fabricated in its commendation, 

that doosnot &U «greatly shcut of the truth itself? What 

«f.^ the insinuations» which its bitterest adversaries 

«jeiy elejfant poem» which Moses himself has preserved, and that there 
vere other historical poems, even more ancient than the prophetic Messing 
5lf Jacoh. ^o lliQfe pur author 4eems.not sufficiently to have attended in 
this place, though he has made some very just remarks on this subject in 
a succeeding lecture. I am of opinion» indeed» that the Hebrew poetry 
ATiginated is the choirs of danoen (not alvrajrs, however, of a religious 
Idnd) when Jthejpeatures of the dancer accorded with the music. To this 
I think the frequent parallelisms of the verses may be referred, of which no 
man has treated more satisfactorily than our author» Lect 19. If indeed 
JCosea was jMTt the Institutor of a practice totally new to the Hebrews, I 
mean the accommodation of poetry to music and dancing, it follows that 
poetry existed long before his time» rustic and unciiltivated at first» no 
doubt, but afterwards more perfect and refined. Nor is it probable» that 
the {urst.essi^ jn poetry were made in the time of Moses» which may be- 
called the golden age of the Hebrew language» and in which we meet witl» 
poetry too perfect to have been produced in the infancy of the art, M. 




hate objected against it, which is not refuted by simply 
eontemplatifig the nature and design of the Hebrew po^ 
etry f LcC those who affect to despise the Muses cease 
to attempt, for the tices of a few, who may abuse the 
best of things, to bring into disrepute a most laudable 
talent. Let them cease to speak of ibstt art as light or 
trifling in itself, to accuse it as profone Or impious ; that 
art, which has been conceded tp man by the favour of 
his Creator, and for the most sacred purposes ; that art, 
consecrated by the authority of God himself» and by 
his example in his miost august ministrations. 

Whether the Greeks^ origitiaUy derived their poetry 
from the fountains erf* nature,' or received it through a 
diflferent channel from a remoter source, appears a ques* 
tion of little importance, and not easy to be detei^mined; 
Thus far, however, is evident, that an opinion wasprev^ 
aient in Gteece concerning the nature and origin of po- 
etry, which appears most groundless and absurd, if we 
contemplate only thfe poetry of Greece, though truly 
and justly applicable to that of the Hebrews. Thtf 
considered poetry as something sacred and celestial, not 
produced by human art of genkis>«but altogether a divine 
gift. Among them, therefore, poets were accounted ^ 
sacred, the ambassadors, of heaven, men favoured with 
an immediate intercourse and familiarity with the gods; 
The mysteries and ceremonies of their religion, and the 
worship of their deities, were all performed in verse ; . 
and the most ancient of their compositions, their ora- 
cles, always consisted of numbers. This circumstance 
I must add rendered them not only more sublime, but 
more deserving of credit in the eyes of the common 
people ; for they conceived it equally the effect of divine 
inspiration to foresee events, and to express them in- 
extempokraneous verse. Thus they seem to have re- 


tuned some traces of an qsinion iiBpressed upon the 
minds of men in the very earliest ages concerning the 
true and ancient ppetry, even after they had lo$t the re- 
ality itself, and when re;}igion and poetry had by the U^ 
centiousiiess of fic;tjon reciprocally corrupted each other, 
Sioce, .therefore, in the sacred writings the only spec- 
imens of the primeval and genuine poetry ^re to be ' 
founds and since these are hot less venerable for their 
antiquity than fpr their divine original, I conceived it 
iny duty in the first place to investigate the nature o^f 
these writings, as far as might be cpQsistent with the 
de^gn of this institution : in other words, it b not my 
intention to expound to the student of theology the ora- 
cles of divine truths but to recommend to the notice 
of theyou^ who is addicted to the politer science^ and 
3tydious of the elegancies of composition, sonie of the 
first and choicest specimens of poetic taste. The diflL 
culty of the undertaking ought probably to hayp 4i^ 
couraged me from the attempt ; yet with you^ geptle^ 
men, I trust my temerity will find this excuse, namely, 
that I have undertaken a subject the mqsX ffoble in it- 
self, and the best adapted to the circumstances of my 
office. I trust that you will allow me at least the tnerit 
of distinguishing what was most worthy (^ this place 
and this assembly ; though perhaps I have too rashly 
engaged, without a due Qoosid^ratjoq c^ my own abil?» 

In this disquisition it is my intention to pur$Me that 
track which the nature of the subject seems to require. 
Three points are to be con^dered in every poem : 
First, the argumefit pr matter, and the manner of treat- 
ing it; what disposition, what order, and what general 
form is adapted to each species of composition : Sec- 
pndly, the elocution and style ; in which are comprci. 


hended lively and elevated setitiments, splendour and 
perspicuity of arrangement, beauty and taricty of ifn-t 
^g^ry, and strength and elegance of diction : Lasdy^ 
the harmony of the verse or numbers is to be consider^ 
ed, not only as intended to captivate the ear^ but ad 
adapted to the subject, and expressive of it, and Ks cat- 
culated to excite corresponding emotioiis in the souL> 
We shall now consider what is to be performed in each 
df the^e departments, ahd how far we may vrith ^f^^ 
^nd with any pix}spect bf advantage^ engage iii a crHitel 
examination cf the Hebrew poetry. 

With respect to the nature of the versification (if I 
may be allowed td reverse tny own arrangement, and to 
speak of that first, which eonstituted the last division of 
iny subject) I fear that little can be produced to you^ 
satisfaction or my own ; since it is manifisst not only 
from the unsuccessful endeavours of the most learned 
then, but from the nature of the thing itself, that scarce^- 
ly any real knowledge of the Hebrew versification is 
now to be attained : and the only merit to which any 
modem writer can lay claim, is that of distinguishing 
certain facts (if any there be) from uncertain conjectur&^ 
and demonstrating how imperfect our information must 
of necessity be upon this topic. Were the inquiryv 
however, concerning the Hebrew nietre to be wholly 
overlooked ; yet since some vestiges of verse are dist> 
cernible, a few observations of a general nature wiU 
probably occur, which we shall in the first place slight- 
ty adven to, and afterwards, as ocbaston serves, partic* 
ularize and explain. 

That part of these lectures, ob the other hand, which 
treats of the style of the Hebrew poetry, will afford very 
ample scope for disquisition ; since it possesses not only 
all the principal excellencies which we common to po* 


f ctry, but possesses many also which are proper and pe- 
culiar to itself. 

Li the remail&ig part, which though first in order 
and dignity, will be the last to be treated of, we roust 
with diligence, (as considering the difficulty of the sub- 
ject) and at the same time with caution engage ; lest 
idiile we wander too much at large in the ample field 
of poetry, we should imprudently break in upon the 
sacred boundaries of theology. It will be our business 
on this occasion to cUstribute the Hebrew poems, ac- 
cording to their diftrem species, into different classes ; 
lo consider ifi each what is most worthy of attention; 
and perhaps to compare them with those of Greeoe and 
Rame^ tf there be any extant of the same kmd. 





The necessity of anqutmg^ into the nature of the Hebrew rene— The He- 
brew poetry proved to be metrical from the alphsbeticsi poems, snd from 
the equality and correspondence of the sentiments ; sIqo from the poeti* 
cal diction— Some of the most obvious properties of the Terse— The 
rhythm and mode of scanning totally lost : proved from frets— The po- 
etical conformation of the sentences— The Greek and I#ti|i poetry mate- 
rially different from the Hebrew, from the very nature of the languages— 
Hence a peculiar pToperiy in the prose versions of the Hebrew poetry 
and the attempts to exhibit this poetry in the verse of other languages. 

Ok the very first attempt to elucidate the nature of the 
sacred poetry, a question presents itself uncommonly 
difficult and obscure, concerning the nature of the He> 
brew verse. This question I would indeed gladly have 
avoided, could I have abandoned it consistently with my 
design. But since it appears essential to every species 
of poetry, that it be confined to numbers, and consist of 
some kind of verse, (for indeed wanting this, it would 
not only want its most agreeable attributes, but would 
scarcely deserve the name of poetry) in treaung of the 
poetry of the Hebrews, it appears absolutely necessary 
to demonstrate, that those parts at least of the Hebrew 
writings which we term poetic, are in a metrical form, 
and to inquire whether any thing be certainly known 
concerning the nature and principles of this versification 
or not. This part of my subject therefore I undertake, 
not «s hoping to illustrate it by any new observations, 

LstT. A. OF THE BEBltEW METftE. «9 

bat merely with a view of inquiring whether it will ad- 
mit of any illustration at all. Even thb I shall attempt 
with brevity and caution, as embarked upon an ocean 
dishonoured by the shipwreck of many eminent persons, 
and therefore presuming only to coast along the shore. 

In the first place (notwithstanding that a c<mtrary 
(pinion has been supported by some of the learned) I 
think it will be sufficiently apparent, if we but advert to 
them a little more attentively, that certain of the Hebiew 
writings are not only animated with the true poetic sphr- ^ 
it, but in some degree confined to numbers. For there » 
appear in almost every part of them such marks and 
yestiges of verse, as could scarcely be expected to re« 
main in any language, after the sound and pronunciation 
(as is the case with the Hebrew at present) were, through 
extreme antiquity, become almost totally obsolete. 

There existed a certain kind of poetry among the 
Hebrews, principally intended, it should seem, for the 
assistance of the memor y : in which, when there was 
little connection between the sentiments, a sort of or- 
der or method was preserved, by the initial letters of u^ 
each line or stanza following the order of the alphabet. 
Of this there are several examples extant among the 
sacred poems ;^ and in these examples the verses are so 
exactly marked and defined, that it is impossible to mis- 
lake them for prose ; and particularly if we attentively 
consider the verses, and compare them with one anoth- 
er, since they are in general so regularly accommodate* 
ed, that word answers to word, and almost syllable to 
syllable. This being the case ; though an appeal can 
scarcely be made to the ear on this occasion, the eye 

1 Psalm XXT» xtxir, :axfn, cti^ czii, cxix, cslr. Pro?. zxxL from the 
10th vene to the end. The whole of the LtnifatKtionfl of JeremiaK except 
the last chapter. Amh»r*9 ^9te. 

40 or THE Hevneiy H1^^^■ u^t^ s- 

Itself will distiiigiush the poptie <)iviskm imd wwige^ 
ment, iuid also that 90t«ie latxmr and accuracy has beoi^ 
cmploy/ed '}n adapting the word» to the mea^inrie^ 

The Hebrew poetry has likewise ianolher property 
altogether peculisr to m^riosd cpmpwttion. Wntcfs 

. who are ^onfiaed witUn the tca^^mels jof viense, are 

generally induigpd with the UccMeof iMmg wAnda in a 

./ v^^nse snd^maHoerr^tQK^tie from jdieir ooaein»(9B acoeptai» 
tion^ aod in ^«le^fiegree contfary to die amlogy of the 
laogLu^; so that ^omeitimcai^y Morten them <hylak« 
^ ing from the number 4>f ^ ayllftUea^ and aometimes 
venture to add a ^Uahte ^W Ae lasihe jgf adapiting them 
to their immediiate piiijpose. This praot^ce la not only 
effectual to the lacilitating .^f the versification, but also 
to the prevention of aatiety by varying the sounds^ an^ 
/^ by iniparting to the style a certain peculiar colouring» 
(^ \v4iich elevates it aboi^ &e language .of the vulgar. 
Poetry therefore always makes use of some j^h arti« 
£ce, as accords bcrst with the geoias oi each language. 
This is e^cemplified particularly in two M&pects : First» 
in the*use of glosses or foreign language ; suid secondly» 
in that of certain irrt^gular or less received forms of 
common words.' The exti^eme liberty which the 
Greeks aUowed themselves in these respects is remarka- 
ble; and their languiige, beyond every other, because 
of the variety and copiousness of the different dialects, 
which prevailed in the several states of Greece, was pe- 
culiarly favourable to it. Next to them none perhaps 
Jiave admitted these liberties more freely than the He- 
brews, who not only by the use of glosses, but by that 
/ of anomalogs language, and chiefly of certain particles' 

• Sec Abi»t0t. Poet. c. 22. 

' The poetical particles, which tlie grammarians in general call para- 
go^c, (or redundant) are as follow. *i added to nouns : Nux0. xxir. 3- 


peculiar to metrical composition, and added frequently 
at the end of words, have so varied their style, as to form 

PsAX. 1. 10. Itxix. 3. cxiv. 8. civ. 11, 30. Isai. M. 9. (it occurs hcf» 
twice.) Z£ra. ii. 14. 

*' isa Suun. xxiv. 3. as slso "vl^n, Psak. 1. 10, 8tc. seems to be a pleonasm 
* mus peculiar to the Syria*. For thus it is common for that people to 
«< express themselres T^Tr mau The son of Am David, Mattr. L 1. inn*| 
*■ rmxQ* The countenance of hi* Lord, Isai. i. 20. 13<90V» Psai. cxiv. 8. 
** It was formerly read mtnb, as appears from the SarruAsisr, v^cmc 
. «^*fer.'* H. 

« Added to nouns, advesrbs, prepositions, is common in the poets *. also 
to the participles, Benoni, singp. masc. & fern. 6sir. xlix. 11. Psas. ci. 5. 
Psov. xxviii. 16. Jsm. xxii. 23, xlix. 15. li. 13. fizsx. xxviL 3. This, 
however, the Masorites have sometimes rashly expunged. 

Concerning the \ when added to verbs in the second pers. fem. sing. pret. 
I have sometimes my doubts whether it be an error or not. Certainly the 
Masorites sre of opinion that it should always be expunged. See Jia. xiti. 
SI. xxii. 33. xxxL 21, and Euk. xvi. where it occurs eleven times. Now 
it is not in the least probable that m one chapter the same error should so 
frequently take place. ** But in these eleven places many M3S. confirm 
•*the Masoretic Ken,* for the « is wanting.'* K. It may also be a Syriac 
gloss, which is the opinion of CAmn ; Crit, Sac, lib. iU. c xiit. 8. Though 
there is a passage, where it occurs in the same person masc. «niDM ^a, ** be- 
^ cause thou hast said," Psal. Ixxxix. 3. So indeed almost all the old in- 
I terpveters, except the Chaldean paraphrast, have taken it ; and rightly, in- 
deed, if regard is to be paid to the context or the parallelism of the sen» 
fences. But this I rather esteem an error, though the Masorites have not 
noted it as such. 

*« Verbs in which the « is added to the second piers, fem. smg. pret. fol- 
** low the Syriac and Arabic Ibrm." H. 

ID for O, or on, occurs frequently in the Hebrew poetry. See Psai. if. 
9, 4, 5. where it appears five times : sometimes in the singular fori; see 
Isai. xliv. 15. liii. & Job xx. 23. xxii. 3. xxvii 23. Psauc xi. 7. It is very 
often merely paragogic, or redundant noa simply seems to be altogether 
poetical ; it occurs in Nshxm. ix. 11 and is taken firom the song of Moses, 
Exon. XV. 5.— It is, however, not the same with prefixes or sufiixes. , 

** Isai,. liii. 8. Msb. The SarroAeunr in this place is n^ ue ^^«mi?o» (he 
** was led unto death :) in this it follows the Arabic version, which reads 
«mob." ' H. 

Of these particles, which I call poetical, there occur very few examples 
in the prose parts of Scripture, indeed t do not know that there are any 
more than the following : \ Gsx. i. 24. but instead of in» Vt^, the 8a- 
XAaiTA9 copy has irmrr n^n, as it is also expressed m the Hebrew in tiie 
following verse. % Gsir. xxxi. 39. twice : but it is also wanting in the Sa^ 
* A MmokiIs tinn ftr a nrioiB n^Hscii 



to themselves a distinct poetical dialect. Thus br^ 
therefore,. I thank we may with safety affirm» diat the 

mtritan copy : althou^ it may possibly be meant for a pronominal aflix. 
Also in Ruth iii. 3, 4. three times ; vr. 5. and in 2 Kiiras \v. 33. *' But in 
** all these places, many MSS. confinn the Bfasoret !c Keri $ for « is wanting^.** 
K. Lastly, lO, Exon. xJiiii. 31. but instead of lonvv, the Sbptcaoist and 
t^ VirLOATx read l^jltni, and the cont^t favours this reading. 

Hitberttf perhaps misrl^t be refisrred the n and | paragog^io» and the n^^ 
tive iH' wbioh oocur more fr^uently in the poets than elsewhere. 

These are most, if not all of them, examples of anomalies, which serve 
to distinguisfai particularly the poetic Dialect To demonstrate moK fully» 
how freely they ar« made use of by the sacred poets, I shall annex a spec*-^ 
men, which Abarbsjiel.exhibitf aa ceUected from one short pgem, namely» 
the song of Mose9. ** You may obaerve^" says he, ** in thia poem, wor49 
** sometimea. contracted for the sake of the measui^e» and soroetimea length»- 
** ened and extended by additional letters and syllables, according aa ther 
** simple terms may be redundant or deficient The letters which in thie 
** canticle are superadded, are as follow : the vau and jod twice in the word 
** ysfyyy* for in reality O^ would have been quite sufficient : the jod ia alaa 
** added in ^tm»: the vau m itiism^ the vau in iDaniHi the vau also!» 
^ iidDS : in iiaybdn ; in noiriM : the thau in ivno^t" (In truth this form of 
Qouns appears to be altogether poetical i many examples of which may be- 
found in Gcass. Phil Sac, p. 369. all of themt However, from tllepoetic and 
prophetic books.) ** The vau m -nMTdn; in MOStaru The deficient are jod 
<« in IV m&n; SD in iDRbon for Dma Mbon : The vau in nbm for V)VlTa> 
«< so also the word aa^ is deficient in the verse T9)3 ov» ^3 lavai ; for th* 
** prince of the prophets cannot be suspected of emng in grammatical or 
<* orthographical accuracy ; but the necessity of the verse and a proper re. 
<* gard to harmony so required it** AaamB. in MmtiiM Duteri. ad Ukr, 
Cosai. a BuxToario, edit. Banl, 1660^ p. 413. To these examples one 
migbt add from the same canticle la twice in 109, s.Epith^tic in vnoft^K^ 
Paragogic in piaY. 

Concerning the glosses or forago words, which occur in the Hebrew 
poetry ; in the present state of the Hebrew language, it ia difiicult to pvo^ 
nounce on the rums, aa it were, of neighbouring and contemporary dialects : 
since possibly those words which are commonly tdten for Chaldaic (for 
instance) might have been oommon^ to both langui^^ ; on the contrary, 
some of those, which more rarely occur, and tiie etymology of which we 
are ignoraiit about, may have been borrowed from the neighbouring dia* 
lects. Since, iiowever, there «re some words which more freqtiently occur 
in tlie poetical remains, and which are not elsewhere to be found but in the 
Chaldee ; we may reasonably conjeoture cooeeming these, that they have 
been introduced into the Hebrew, or at least, after becoming obsolete ia 
common language, might be again made use of: such are the following, 
3ai^ (a son) Koshei (truth) Stgf^ (he incre«sed>^ JSkekaeh (he praised) Za- 


Hebrew poetiy is metrical. One or two of the pecu- 
fiar]tie«d80 of their versification it"niay'be|>Foper to re» 
naork, which as they are Tery observable in those poemSi 
in.which «heifcnts are -deifined by the initial letters, may 
at least be reasonably ooojectored of the rest. The first 
xd these is, that ite verses are very unequal in length ; 
<he dtortest consisting of six or seven syliaUes ; the 
longest extending to about twice that number ; the same 
{>oem is, faoweyeny generally continued throughout iHk 
"memts not veiy «neqoal to eaoh odier. I must also ob^ 
serve^ that the close of the vense generally falb whene 
the membeiis'of the sentences are divided.^ 

kaph (he lifted up) Gnuck (in the Heboew Txick,) he pressed, &c. 01> 
^rve MoseSy'howerer, in the exordium of Ills last benediction, BrrT. zxxiil. 
Ims he not idso frQqti«ntly wbmtted of Chaldaisms ? What is una ? whic)i 
«gain occurs, vet. 31. What is :aaa ^ in both fonn and sense Chaldaic. 
"What T\^^ ? a word scarcely received into common use amonp the Hebrews 
tm af^ ^tfae fiabylomsfa caiptivity i especially since the Hebrew abounded 
in synonymOtta tenns, etprcssive of the Ij9w «/ Ofd. ^But perhaps thip 
last word in this place ia rightly auspected to 4»e an esror. See Ka^isi- 
coTT, Dittert. I. of ihe Bebrtrm Text, p. 427, and HouBioAirr in loc.) 
Isaiaby httttreiwr, «kgintly adopts the Chaldaic fon», spekkmg of Babylon, 
in the word name», which in the •Hehiew weuld beinamD, chap xiv. 4- 
Not less appositely on the same subject does the Psalmist introduce the 
iBTOtd '^Off^Yxn, PsAL. cxxxrii. 3j which is the Chaldaic for tu^bbittr, as the 
^^ttldean 9»a|4ifiBt himself aUawa» who oenders it by the syAonyinoiu 
tenn 4(iaiD, aa elsewhere he renders the .word bb«r ; (4ee Bxax. xxvi. 12. 
xxix. 19. xixviii. 12, 13.) nor indeed do the other interpreters pi-oduce 
any t^ng to the purpose. Some instances of grammatical anomalies in the 
ipkmses hafye been detected^ siieh are the iblUkwing, 8|yriac or Chaldaic : 
^3 for ^ PsjiA. czvi. thrice ; eiii.cfive times ; also in Jxa. xi. 15. \T) for 1« 
Pbal. cxvi. 12. 1« as a termination plur. nom. masc. for DS Job. iv. 2. xxiY. 
S2. xlcxi. la and frequently elsewhere i also Paot. xxxi. 3. Lam. iv. 3. 
£aaK. xxvi. IS. Mic. iii. 12. 

*• rrnir, the Samabitajt has vuc, in the Arabic form, aan, namo, are 
*• Chaldaic as Well as Arabic. irbVun, but this word seems fo have follow- 
^ ed^hectymol(|gy 0f the Arabic verb Vstn, he iSntntl, he lei: captive / whence 
^* the Septuagint awayayathf nfta^ i and tbe Chaldaic apiu, he carried avfOff 
« captive.** H. * Author'» JSTote. 

*« This mode of versification is not altogether foreign to our own lan- 
|;««ge^ as is evadent-frem «ene ^of «ar eaziiest writers, partioularly Piaan 
Plowvajt. 8. H. 


As to the real quantity, the rhythm, or modulation» 
these from the present state of the language seem to be 
altogether unknown, and even to admit of no invesdga* 
tion by human art or industry. It is indeed evidei^ 
that the true Hebrew pronunciation is totally lost The 
rules concerning it, which were devised by the modem 
Jews many ages after the language of their ancestors 
had fallen into disuse, have been long since suspected 
by the learned to be destitute of authority and truth : 
for if in reality the Hebrew language is to be confimn- 
ed to the positions of these men, we must be under the 
necessity of confessing, not only, what we at present 
experience, that the Hebrew poetry possesses no re- 
mains of sweetness or harmony, but that it never was 
possessed of any. The truth is, it was neither possible 
for them to recal the true pronunciation of a language 
long since obsolete, and to institute afresh the rules of 
orthoepy ; nor can any person in the present age so 
much as hope to effect any thing to the purpose by the 
aid of conjecture, in a matter so remote from our sens-, 
es, and so involved in obscurity. In this respect, in* 
deed, the delicacy of all languages is most remarkable. 
After they cease to be spoken, they are. still significant 
of some sound ; but that in the mouth of a stranger 
becomes most dissonant and barbarous : the vital grace 
is wanting, the native sweetness is gone, the colour of 
primeval beauty is faded and decayed. The Greek 
and Latin doubtless have now lost much of their prist« 
tine and native sweetness ; and as they are spoken, the 
pronunciation is different in different nations, but eveiy 
where barbarous, and such as Attic or Roman ears 
would not have been able to endure. In these, how. 
ever, the rhythm or quantity remains, each retains its 
peculiar numbersi and the versification is distinct ; b^t 


the state of the HelH^w is &r more unfavourable, which, ^ 
destitute of vpwel sounds, has remained altogether si* " 
lent (if I may use the expression) incapable of utterance 
upwards of two thousand years. Thus, not so much 
as the number of syllables, of which each word consist- 
ed, could with any certainty be defined, much less the 
length or quantity of the syllables : and since the regu- 
lation of the metre of any language must depend upon 
two particulars, I ipean the number and the length of 
the syllables, the knowledge of which is utterly unat* 
tainable in the Hebrew, he who attempts to restore the 
true and genuine Hebrew versification, erects an edifice 
without a foundation. To some of those indeed who 
have laboured in this matter, thus much of merit is to 
be allowed ; that they rendered the Hebrew poetry, 
which formerly sounded uncommonly harsh and bar«. 
barous, in some degree softer and more pdbhed ; they 
indeed furnished it with a sort of versification, and mett 
rical arrangement, when baffled in their attempts to dis« 
cover the reaL That we are justified in attributing to 
them any thing more than this, is neither apparent from 
the nature of the thing, nor from the arguments with 
which they attempt to defend their conjectures.' Their 
endeavours in truth would rather tend to supersede all 
inquiry on a subject which the most learned and ingen- 
ious have investigated in vain ; and induce us to relin- 
quish as lost, what we see cannot be retrieved. 

But although nothing certain can be defined concern- 
ing the metre of the particular verses, there is yet anoth^ 
er artifice of poetry to be remarked of them when in a 
eoUective state, when several of them are taken togeth. 
er. In the Hebrew poetry, as I before remarked, ther^ 
may be observed a certain conformation of the sentenQ*. 

« Sec the brief oonfutatkn af 9ialiap Hm*i ilelxrtw Metiti. 


cs, the nature of which is, that a complete sense is al- 
most equally infused into every component part, and 
that every member constitutes an entire verse. So that 
as the poems divide themselves in a manner spontane- 
ously into periods, for the most pait equal ; so the pe- 
riods themselves are divided into verses, most common 
ly couptets, thOH^ frequently of greater ki^h. This 
is dnefly observable in those passages, which frequently 
occur in the Hebrew poetry, in which they treat one 
subject in many different ways, and dwell upon the same 
sentiment ; when they express the same thing in dilfer* 
ent words, or different things in a similar form of words ; 
when equals refer to equals, and opposites to opposites t 
and since ^s artifice of composition seldom fails to 
produce even in prose an agreeable and measured ca- 
dence, we can scca-oely dou^btthat it must have imparted 
to their poetry, were we masters of the versification, an 
exquisite degree of beauty and grace. In this circum- 
stance, therefore, which is common to most of the He- 
brew poems, we find, if not a rule and principle, at least 
a characteri^ic of the sacred poetry : insomuch that in 
that language the word Mizmoi^ (or Psalm) according 

• Zamar, ht cut oft^ be poruned, namety, tiie superfluous «nd luxuriant 
. brancbes of tfees. Befioe SUmorahf a t^raneh^ or f«4r/ Marmmrah, a prutH* 
ini^-hoot. Also he sung, or chanted ; he cut his voice by the notes in sin^ 
ing, or divided it. Shur signifies singing with the voice (vocal music :) 
^azattf to play upon an instrument. ZaiMtr implies ei^er vocal or instru» 
mental jnelody. Thus JBintiginpih mitmifr dur (See ftou^viiTii. 1.) I thinly 
means a metrical wng', actompamed -with munc* Thus I suppose ndtmwr t6 
denote meanire, or numbers, what tlie Greeks called gu9fen (Kythmon.j 
It may also be more immediately inferred to the former and onginal sense 
of the root, as signiiyingf a potm etit mim «Atrf aennnsef^ and pruned fnm 
every luxuriancy of expression, which is a distinguishing characteristic of 
_ the Hebrew poetry. Prose composition is called SKehichdh, loose or free, 
diifoicd with no respeet lo rule ; like a inld tree, luxunant on ^«ery side 
in its leaves and brancbes : Metrical language is Zimrah, emi and pHmed 
on every side into sentences, like branches, distributed into a certain form 
and order; w vines, which the vine-dresser conects with his pruning-kni^ 
^d adjusts into form. Authet^» itete. 


to its etymology, is cxpresuve of a composition cut or 
divided^ in a peculiar manner, into short and cquaL 

The nature of the Greek and Latin poetry is in this 
respect dirccdy opposite ; and that in conformity to the 
genius of the different lai^guages. For the Greek, be- 
yond every other lai^age, (and the Latin next to it) isi 
copious» flowing, and harmonious, possessed of a great 
iKariety qf measures, of which the impression is so defi*. 
ntif , the effects so striking, that if one should recite 
some lame and ini|)erfect portion of a verse, or even e« 
Bunciate hastily several verses in a breathi the numbera 
would nevertheless be clearly discernible : so that in 
diese fvety variety essent^l to poetry and verse may be 
provided for almost at pleasure, without the smallest in- 
jury to the different metres. But in the Hebrew lan- 
guage the whole economy is different* Its form is urn- 
pic above every other ; the radical words are uniform, 
and resemble each other almost exactly ; nor are the 
inflexions numerous, or materially different: whence 
we may readily understand, that its metres are neither 
eomplex, nor capable of much variety ; but rather sim« 
pie, grave, temperate ; less adapted to fluency than dig- 
nity and force : so that possibly they found it necessa- 
ry to distinguish the extent of the verse by the conclu- 
sion of the sentence, lest the lines, by running into each 
other, ^ould become altogether implicated and con- 

Two observations occur in this place worthy of at- 
tention, and arise naturally from what has been said. 
The first is, that a poem translated literally from the 
Hebrew into the prose of any other language, whibtthe 
same forms of the sentences remain, will still retain, 
even as far as relates to versification, much of its native 



dignity, and a faint appearance of versification. This 
is evident in our common version of the Scriptures, 
where frequently 

^ The order changM, and verse from verse disjoin'di 
<< Yet stiU the poet's scatter'd limbs we find :" 

But the case is very different in literal translations from 
the Greek or Latin/ The other remark, which I wish- 
ed to recommend to your notice, is, that a Hebrew po- 
em, if translated into Greek or Latin verse, and having 
the conformation of the sentences accommodated to the 
/ idiom of a foreign language, will appear confused and 
mutilated ; will scarcely retain a trace of its genuine 
elegance, and peculiar beauty. For in exhibiting the 
works of great poets in another language, much depends 
upon preserving not only the internal meaning, the force 
and beauty as far as regards the sense, but even the 
^ernal lineamcntsy the proper colour and habit, the 
movement, and, as it were, the gait of the original. 
Those, therefore, who have endeavoured to express the 
beauties of the sacred poets in Greek or Latin verse, 
have unavoidably failed in the attempt to depict them 
according to their native genius and character; and 
have exhibited something, whether inferior or not, cer- 
tainly very unlike them, both in kind and form ; wheth- 
er, on the other hand, they have been able to approach 
in some degree, their energy, their majesty and spirit, 
is not our present object to consider. 

7 " Nevertheless" (that is, thoug;fa the sacred poetry he not possessed of 
netrical syllables, and divided into feet, which is the opinion of this learn- 
ed man) ** we cannot doubt thalithaa-soother species of metrical arrange- 
^ *< ment, which depends upon the aubject^Is it not evident, that if you 
'' translate some of them into another language, they still retain this met- 
** rical form, if not perfect, at least in a great degree ? which cannot possi. 
" bly take place in those poems, the metre of which consists in the number 
" and quantity of syllables." R. Axajiias in Manti99. Di99ert. ad Lihr, 
CosRi, p. 430. Authar^i A^* 







The poetic etyle of tke VUbrewu beim tiie genenl titie of ^ofoMip— 4tts 
ooostituent principles are the aententioiu» the figurative» and the sub» 
lime— The source of the parabolic style and its original use : among 
other nations ; among the Hebrews— ^Gertun examples of it preserved 
from the fint ages in the writings of Moses**»!. The sententious Und f 
its nature and effects. 


Tluz subject which next presents itself to our investi- 
gation, b the style of the Hebrew poetry. The mean- 
ing of this word I do not wish to be restricted to the 
diction only of the sacred poets, but rather to include 
their sentiment, their mode of thinking ; whence, a» 
from its genuine source, the peculiar character of their 
composition may be deduced. It will be proper, how- 
ever, before we proceed, to remark, that as it is the na- 
ture of an poetry, so it is particularly of the Hebrew, to 
be totally different from common language ; and not 
only in the choice of words, but in the construction, to 
affect a peculiar and more exquisite mode of expres- 
sion. The truth of this remark will appear from what 
usually happens to a learner of Hebrew. He, for in^ 
stance, who is a proficient in the historical books, when 
he comes to the poetical parts, will find himself almost 
a perfect stranger. The phraseology, however, pecu- 
liar to the poets, the bold ellipses^ the sudden transitions 


of the tenses^ gend!ers^ and persons, and other similar 
circumstances, I shall leave to the grammarian : or 
rather I shall leave (mcb I d!a not find that the gram-» 
marians acknowledge an^ distinction between poetical 
and common language) ta be collected from practice 
and attentive reading. It would be a no less indolent 
and trifling occupation to post through all those form» 
of tropes and figures, wbich the teachers of rhetoric 
have pompooslf (not to aaj osetesslgr) heqied together ^ 
since there is no necessity of appl3r]ng to die sacred po» 
etiy Smt examples of these, every oonpoBition, however 
trite and barren, abounding in them. Of these, ttH^re^ 
fore, we shall be sparing, and use them not as freely as 
we might, but as much only » shall appear absolutely 
necessary. For at present we are not so much to in- 
quire what are the general principles of poetical com- 
position, as what are the peculiar marks and character» 
of the Hebrew poetry. Let us consider, therefore, 
whether the litei^ture of the Hebrews will not surest 
some general term, which will ^ve us an opportunity 
of discussing the subject, so as to bring it under one 
comprehensive view ; and which» being divided accord- 
ing to its constituent parts, will prescribe a proper or- 
[ dcr and limit to our disquisition. - — -* 

A poem is called in Hebrew A£izmor, that b, as was 
before remarked, a short composition cut and divided 
into distinct parts.^ It is thus called in reference to the 
verse and numbers. Again, a poem is calKtl, in refer* 
cnce to the diction and sentiments, Mashal^ which I 
take to be the word properly expressive of the poetical 

1 " Agreeable to tliis is the meaning of the Arabic rerb Zamar^ coUected, 
'< or tied up^ therefore rendered ffMaOft-, and eemimned within less space : It 
'* also means te ting, Stc.*' H. 

t NvxB. xxi. 27. zxiii. and xxiv. frequentlf . Mic. il 4. laai. xlv. 4* 
PsAi.. xlix. 5. IxxviiL 2. Job xxviL 1. xxix. 1. 

UcT. «. SENTS VT«>US STYLE. 5 1 

Style. Many translators render it by the word parabk^ 
which in some re$f)ects is not improper, though it 
scarcely comprehends the fuU compass of the Hebrew 
e2;pression^ for if we investigate its full and proper 
fiorce, we shall find that it includes three forms or modes 
of speech, the sententious, the figurative, and the sub- 
lime. To these as part^ or divisions of the general 
subject may be referred whatever occurs concerning 
the parabolical or poetical style of the Hebrews : but 
the reason of this arrangemeiit wil} perhaps be better 

Maikalf he Ukened, he eon^artd^ he 9p9ke in poraUet / he uiteredprm^ 
«f6«, mni0ne€9 jrove andpmntud^ % ernnpoHUMt ^tnaimented -mtkjigia-ew ami 
€0mpari$9n9f also he ruledf he wom emmenis he ^«sommI thmmin tad mm 
tbority ; delegated» perhapf» and vicarious in its original and restricted 
sense, whence at last it was taken moie lasly» as referring^ to an^ kind of 
do^inkm : The eider servant of Abraham, who presided Ovtt Kia fkmily^ 
was certainly called IlAJSJkSBia.Ae4ra4 a9ker b, Qiir. u^iv. 3. He was in fatst 
Ik steward in the place of his master, and representing him by a delegated 
MHiiBriiy ; whence there is evidently a relation between the twolntet^reta» 
tioas ^f this roo% censisting in this cinomostance, th^it V>^ ^e parabolical /^x^ 
image, and the steward or deputy, are representative. Jhfag^al is thereforg 
ft composition elevated and grave, weighty and poweriiil» highly ornament- 
ed wiA compnisoas, figures, snd imagery ; such is the style of the ISalms^ 
the Propihets, and the Book of Job : it is a diction, which under one image 
or exemplar includes many, and may easily he transferred to every one of 
iht same kind s which is in general the nature of proverbs : it is in fine, 
$Bf aenteace or azkan excdUcntly or gravely uttered, concise, and confined 
to a certaon form or manner : as is evident frpip 1 ^ax. xxiv. 14. and from 
many examples in the jProverbs of Solomon. 

" In Arabic Maihai (tar « (sh) and n (1h) are interchangeable letters) 
moms to makt a HkemM^ to €Xprf9% or imi$a^ ft rtttmf^lmnceg to dicitUe ^ 
parable or pnoverh^ to give an tnttance/* H. 

With JMotAo^ eMdah is frequently jobed, snd means, a tat/ing pointed, ^ , 
exqiddUt ^kfcvse / such as venires either to the eonoeptionor underatsnd- 
P9-f^ it, eoniaidmble ingeiulity. It h derived from Ciad, to prop(>se a 
probleil^ mynigmaf or to«ii^ exqmnte and curiouM taying ; which agrees / 
with Chedad, to ehaxpen, or to be 9harp. 

** In the Anbic, it signifies, toM hehi / snd Chid, he turned aui of fUs 
f'voy.* whence Scm&TBirs (Comment, in Jos ^vi.30.) deduces the Hebrew 
H word Chidah : as it were an intricate spegietof compositioft, a riddle.** H, 


understood, if we premise a short inquiry into the ori- 
gin and early use of this style of composition. 

The origin and first use of poetical language are un- 
doubtedly to be traced into the vehement affections of 
the mind. For what is meant by that singular frenzy of 
poets, which the Greeks, ascribing to divine inspiration^ 
distinguished by the appellation of enthusiasm^ but a 
style and expression directly prompted by nature itself» 
and exhibiting the true and express image of a mind 
violently agitated ? When, as it were, the secret avenues, 
the intgrlor recesses of the soul are thrown open ; when 
the iBpQpst conceptions are displayed, rushing together in 
one turbid -stream, without order or connection. Hence 
sudden exclamations, frequent interrogations, apostro* 
phes even to inanimate objects : for to those, who are. 
violently agitated themselves, the universal nature of 
tilings seems under a necessity of being a&cted with 
similar emotions. Every impulse of the mind, however, 
has not only a peculiar style and expression, but a cer- 
tain tone of voice and a certain gesture of the body adapt» 
ed to it : some, indeed, not satisfied with that expression 
which language afibrds, have added to it dancing and 
song ; and as we know there existed in the first ages 
a very strict connection between these arts and that of 
poetry, we may possibly be indebted to them for the 
accurately admeasured verses and feet, to the end that 
the modulation of the,^anguage might accord with the 
music of the voice, and the motion oi the body. 

Poetry, in this its rude origin and commencement, 
being derived from nature, was in time improved by art, 
and applied to the purposes of utility and delight. For 
9s it owed its birth to the affections of the mind, and had 
availed itself of the assistance of harmony, it was found, 
on account of the exact and vivid delineation of the ob% 


jects which it described, to be excellently adapted to the 
exciting of every internal emotion, and niaking a more 
forcible impression upon the nuhd than abstract reason- 
ing could possibly eflkct ; it was found capable of inter- 
esting and a&cting the senses and passions, of captivat- 
ing the ear, of directing the perception to the minutest 
circumstances, and of assisting the memory in the reten- 
tion of them. Whatever therefore deserved to be gen- 
erally known and accurately remembered, was (by those 
men, who on this very account jvere denominated wist^) 
adorned with a jocund and captivating style, illuminated 
with the varied and splendid colouring of language, and 
moulded into sentences comprehensive, pointed and har- 
monious* It became the peculiar province of poetry to 
depict the great, the beautiful, the becoming, the virtu^ 
ous ; to embellish and recommend the precepts of re- 

s The barda, or poeta, are enumerated by the 8ov or Si«Aca» among the 
^nae and niuatrioua men of ibnner timea : 

** Wiae and eloquent in their inatructiona, 
^ Such aa found out musical tunea, 
^ And recited written veraea/' Ecc&va xliv. 4. 

Obaerve aiKH whether those four, whoae wiadom ia ao much celebrated* 
1 Kinoa iT< 31. Jfom' JMbcAa^ be not S&tu ^f the Chair g that is, mualciana 
or poeta : for they were (not eotu •/ Mlahol, aa our translatora render it, 
taking an iq>pellatiTe for a proper name, but) aona of Zerach^ as appeara 
from 1 Chbov. ii. 6L ** Whence the eldest of them» £than, waa alao called 
** Ba^Bxrachi, I Kivea it. 31. where the Targum expre^ly has it Bar Zc- 
rachf son of ZeracV* H. Among the Greeks alao the poeta were ancients 
ly palled wise men, or aophists : 

** Rosy Tenua, queen of all ! 

<' So the wife bright Venua calL'' Aitacrbov. 

That ia, the pcieta«*-9o alao Pindar 

■ *♦ Sung by the wise, 

^ And honoured by the will of Jotc.** ht, V. 36. 

Upon which passage the Scholiaat : *< The poeta are commonly called wise 
** men, and sophiats.'* ** The poets preceded these (the philosophers) by 
** some ages ; and befote the name of philoaopher wia known were called 
<* wise men.** LACTjunrma, Lib. T. 5. «Iiif Atr** AVat. 



li^on and yirtue, to transmit to poolerity excdleot and 
sublime actions and sayings ; to celebrate the works of 
the Deity, his beneficence, his wisdom ; to record the 
memorials of the past, and the predictions of the future» 
In each of these departments poetry was of singular 
/ utility, since before any characters expressive of sounds 
were invented, at least before they were commonly re- 
ceived» and applied to general use» it seems to have af^ 
forded the only means of preserving the rude scienoe of 
the early times ; and in this respect, to have vendere^ 
the want of letters more tolerable : it seems also to have 
acted the part of a pubtic herald, by whose vcuce each 
memorable transaction of antiqui^ was proclaimed and 
transmitted through diflferent ages and nations. 

Such appears by the testimony of authors to have 
been the undoubted origin of poetry among heathen 
nations. It is evident that Greece for several succes- 
nve ages was possessed of no records but the poetic ; 
for the first who published a prose oration was Phere-r 
cydes, a man of the isle of Syrus, and contemporary 
with king Cyrus, who lived some ages posterior to that 
of Homer and Hesiod : somewhat after that lime Cad- 
mus the Milesian^ began to compose lustory. The laws 
themselves were metrical, and adapted to certain music- 
al notes : such were the laws of Charondas, which were 
sung at the banquets of the Athenians :' such were 

4 Stbabo 600^. liib. I. P&ijr. Mtt. MBti. Lib. VIL 5^ & V. 29. This 
matter is well explained by Isidorus, however rashly some learned men may 
have taken it *' It is well known/' says he, ** that among^ the Greeks, as 
*< well as among the Latins» metrical composition was much more ancient 
** than prose. Every spedcs of knowledlfa was at^nrtcontiuned mpoetry : 
*' it was long before prose compotitioii Souriahod. The first man among 
** the Greeks, who composed in prose, was Pherecydes Syrius ; among the 
** Romans, Applus Cxcus first published a work ia pmafi against Pyrrhua.** 
(si DOB. HisPAL. Orijr. Lib. I. 27. wStilAsr's A'o/e. 

f ^ The laws of Charondas were s«og at banqoets aiaoiig Hie Athcmam^ 

|jieT.4» S&Nt^MnOtJA STYLE» S5 

ttose which were delivered hf die CretniaP to the in. 
genuous youth to be learned by rote, with accompani* 
nents of immieai melody, in order that by the enchaat- 
flaent of harmony, the sentiments might be more forci- 
bly in^>ressed upon their memories. Hence ' certain 
poems were denominated mfm (nomoi) which implied 
convivial or banqueting songs, as b remarked by Aris- 
totle ;^ who adds, that the same custom of chanting the 
hws to muttc, existed rvcn m his own time among the 
J^thyrsi.' If we may credit Strabq,^ the Turdetani» 
a peqple of Spain, had laws in vcrae« But the Ger- 
naBs,* as Tacitus positively asserts, had no records or 
annals but the traditional poems, in which they cde- 

^ M Ben&i(}piis relates." Athsv. lib. XIV. 3. See Bbstut's DitHna- 
IfoM m PhaUsrU^ p. 373. Aia/mf*9 JV«fe. 

• MuAX, Var. aStt. L. O. 39. 
t^^WiyaiekwtcOledaDrtkks? but dMt Mbie alphiOwticiA writinf^ 

** VM invented, the laws need to be sang» tfaet they mif^t be pfeterred 'm 
** remembiuioe ? as i« the cufltom etill amon^ the AgimthynL** Jh^. S. 
19. Q. 38. Jiuiku^9 .^W. 

• IHMtibly UwB» iHiich are m the Mnteatkmi s^le^ were oni^iiielly pre- 
eepu of equity and morals, and in eoiurae of time aoquired authority in the 
courts of justice. There is much of this proverbial style in the ancient 
Ctermaa Imts : and I am assuned by good authority, in those of Sweden 
also. Moees himself is so scntenlious and eompatt. and pays so much at- 
teatioa to btevity in many of his laws, that he seems to have sdopted into 
lus cede some w^-4nown prorcrbs, containing the general principles of 
equity ; of this 1 think theie is sn instance inEzon. zziii. 5. in which there 
is a point and antithesis» mote resembling the familiarity of a proverb than 
the dignity of a statute. To the example of the Lusitanians, we may add 
one more recent of the Swedes, who in the yesr 13^48 published laws in 
▼crse. M. 

• Gmj". Lib. m. 

"» After the extraoidhnry revolutions of Germany, and the dispersion of 
tfiat people into different colonies, it is not surprizing that no monuments 
of the poetical records of our ancestors should remain. Scandinavia and 
Icefaaid have been more fortunate in this respect ; there the records of their 
most sncient transactbns are traditionally preserved to this day. These 
instsnces of a practice so agreeable to that of the Hebrews existing among 
a people so lemote» serve to prove the great similarity in the human mind 


biated the heroic exploits of their ancestors.^^ In the 
^me manner, and on the same account» the Persians^ 

Ihroaghout all the coantries of the glohe, and show that the most natanl 
and early mode of preserving ^ts, has been by verses committed to memo* 
ly, rather than by vritten documents. What Pocock relates of the Arabs, 
applies perhaps more dil«ctly to the pre&ent subject ** It seems,** he says, 
^ to be entirely owing to their poetry, that so copbos a language is pre- 
** served in a perfect state. Among other commendations of their poetry, 
*' they enumerate this, that both the purity of the Arabic language, and the 
^ propriety and elegance of their pronunciation, hate owed their pn eae r va » 
** tion entirely to it. Ebn Phares observes, that the Arabic poems serve iit 
*'the place of commentaries, or annals, in which are recorded the series of 
** their genealogies,' and all the facts of history deserving of remembrance, 
** and from whi^ a knowledge of the language is to be collected.'* BC 

However the antiquity of Ossian's poems, as exhibited to the public, may 
be doubted, it is certain that there exists in the Highlands of Scotland ma- 
ny remains of the ancient historical ballads, which, though in all probabili- 
ty of a much later date than the age of Ossian is pretended to be, contain 
many marks of wild genius, and i am informed from good authority fur- 
nished Mr. Macpherson with the bulk of his materials. T. 

11 To these testimonies concerning the early use of poetrjr, I Will add a 
remarkable passage of Plutarch, which states summarily many facts relat-» 
ing to this circumstance. *' The use of reason seems to resemble the ex- 
*' change of money : that which is good and lawful is generally current 
** and well known, and passes sometimes at a higher and sometimes at a 
** lower value. Thus, there was a time Miien the stamp and coin of all 
« reasoning or composition was verse and song. Even history, philosophy, 
" every action and passion, which required grave or serious discussion, was 
« written in poetry and idq>ted to music. For what at present few wift 
" attend to, was then by all men thought an object of importance : ^ 
•* ploughmen and by bird-catchera, according to Pzvsae. For such was the 
•* inclination for poetry at that period, that they adapted their ve>y pre- 
** cepts and instructions to vocal and instrumental music, and exhorted, 
•« reproved, and persuaded by fables or allegories. The praises also of 
•• their gods, their prayers, and thanksgivings after victory, were all com- 
** posed in verse ; some tbrou§^ the love of harmony, and some through 
" custom. It is not therefore that Apollo envies the science of divination 
•* this ornament, nor did he design to banish from the Tripos his beloved 
** muse ; he rather wished to -introduce her as one who loved harmony and 
•* excited to it ; as one who was ready to assist the fancy and conception, 
•' and to help to produce what was noble and sublime, as most becoming 
** and most to be admired." Plut. Inquiry^ -why the PytMa now ceases te 
deliver her oracles in verse, Author^s JVol», 

See this subject treated at large, essays historical and marai, by G. Gnas- 
OBT, Essay I. On the progress of manners, p. 31, 37, 39, 40, 43.. T. 


the Arabs, and many of the most ancient of the Eastern 
nations, preserved in verse their history and politics, as 
well as the principles of religion and morals : Thus all 
science human and divine was deposited in the treasury 
(rf'the Muses, and thither it was necessary on every oc- 
casion to resort," The only mode of instruction, in- 
deed, adapted to human nature in an uncivilized state, 
when the knowledge of letters was very litde, if at all, 
diffused, must be that which is calculated to captivate 
the ear and the passions, which assists the memory, 
which is not to be delivered into the hand, but Infused 
into the mind and heart.^^ 

That the case was the same among the Hebrews; 
diat poetry was both anciently and generally known and 
practised by them, appears highly probable, as well from 
the analogy of things, as from some vestiges of poetic 
language extant in the writings of Moses* The first 
mstance occurs in one of the most remote periods of the 
Mosaic history, I mean the address of Lamech to his 
wives, which is indeed but ill understood in general, be- 
cause the occasion of it is very obscurely intimated : 
nevertheless, if we consider the apt construction of the 
words, the exact distribution of the period into three 
distichs, and the two parallel, and as it were correspond- 
ii^, sentiments in each distich ; I apprehend it will easi- 
ly be acknowledged an indubitable specimen of the pa- 
etry of the first ages : 

<< Hadah and Siliah bear my voice ; 

<* Ye wives of Lamech hearken to my speech ; 

1* See CflAmDUf's TraveU, Vol. D. c. xiv. Pococx. Spec, BUt. Jtrai. p. 1^8. 

^ We may add, that poetry is much leM liable to be corrupted than 
prose. So fidthful a preienrer of truth is metre, that what is liable to be 
changed, augmented, or violated, almost daily in prose, may continue for 
a^ in verse, without variation, without even a cbange in tlie obsplete 
phraseology. M. 



^ Fat I have slain a man, because of my wounding ; 
" A young man, because of my hurt. 
f^K Cain shall be avengedi4 seven times, 
<* Certainly Lamech seventy and seven."^' 

M " If the murder of Cain shall be avenged^" That is, " If vengtpan^ 
" sevenfold shall fall upon the head of him that murders Cain» then yen- 
^ geance seventy times seven shall fall on him that murders Lamech.*' A- 
greeably to what is pronounced by Crod in the l^tb vexse of the same chap* 
ter, " Whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be takea on him seven* 
fcld/' T. 

I' Gasr, iv. 33, 24. The Jews have indulged great liberty of fiction and 
conjecture oonceming this passage^, whiph has a&awered no odier purpose 
than to render it mare perplexed to others also, who were unable to digest 
their whimsical and absurd explications. To me there is very little obscu- 
i^ty in the original ; for though we are necessarily ignorant of the name of 
the person who was murdered, I OMt it is sufficiently plain that some per- 
son was murdered by Lamech. I say perwn / for what the. Jews have feign- 
ed concerning the death of two persons, the one a youth, and the other a 
man, proceeds entirely ftomt^eir igiforanoe of the nature of the Hebrew 
poetry, and particularly of the paiallebsm or lepetitum of certain memberSi 
of the sentences, which our author has explained in a very masterly manner 
in the 19th Iiecture. Nor is there any more reason to distinguish between 
tlie youth and the man, than to suppose Badah and SiUah other than the 
wives of Lamech, who are mentioned in the next line : 
'* Iladah and Sillah hear my voice, 
•* Ye wives of Lamech attend, Stc.** 
The truth is, Lamech had committed a murder : he repents of the fact, but- 
hppcj}, af;^ the example of Cain,, to escape witi> impunity, and with that 
hope lie cheers his wives, who are anxious for his fate. It is not to be sup- 
posed tliat he addi*essed them in verse ; the substance of what he said has 
been reduced to numbers lor the sake of preserving it easily in the memory. 
Til is poem therefore constitutes a part of history known to the Isracdi^ : 
and Moses intimates to what Lamech it relates, namely, not to the son- of 
Seth^ the father of Noah, but to this Lamech of the seed of Cain : what he 
a<ldii IS to this effect : << This Lamech, who was of the seed of Cain, is the 
*'samc wlio complained to his wives in those well-known traditional 
verses, &c." 

That Moses has prcser>''ed many relics of this kind, is evident from tlie 
fragineuis of verse which are scattered tbrougliout his writings, and which 
are very distinguishable from his usual language. Such is that which he 
relates Gsir. iii. 24. of the clierubs placed at the east of the garden of Eden : 
under which appellation I understand to be meant, not angels, but tlie JEqui 
tenaiiies of the Greek and Latin p.)ets : the reasons for which opinion I have 
mote fully explained in the Commentaries of the Royal Society at Gottin- 

Lkct. 4. SENTENTIOUS STYl.E. 3d 

Another example, which I shall point out to you, ap, 
pears no less to bear the genuine marks of poetry than 

fen, T. L p« 175. The ptsfltge is without doubt poetical : << He placed be> 
*• fore the garden cherubim f thundering hortcnj and a flaming sword, to 
** keep the way of the tree of life :** in plain terms, the dread of the frequent 
tempests and daily thunders deterred men from that track, m which par:^ 
dise was situated, lest they should eat of the tree of life. M. 

The former part of the 23d verse is thus translated by HouBieAXT : 
" I, being wounded, have slain a man, 
" ** Being assaulted, a young man.'* 
This translation is mgenious, and I think right But atiH it seems to want 
some further explanation as well as confirmation ; which, since he has omit- 
ted, I will attempt. The speech of I<amech is an apology for an homicide 
committed in his own defence, upon some man who violently assaulted him, 
and it appears struck and wounded him. An homicide of this nature he 
opposes to the voluntary and inexcusable fratricide of Cain. The phrases 
wfaicli produce the obacurity— Xe-^/zon^, and La^hakvrathi^ *< because of 
" my wound," that is^ a -wound vMch vom gvum me, and, *' because of mj 
^ blows (or stripes,)** that is, »tripe§ inJUcUd upon me, may 1 think be ex- 
plained as follows. The af&xes to nouns (as Kimcdivs observes on Ibau 
sxi %) ate tskcn actively aa well u passively ; thus Chamati^ <* my vio- 
** lence, or injury," means a violence committed againot me / Gav. xvi. 31. 
Jaft. li. ZS. Chamao Bern Jehotulah, ** the violence of the sons of Judali ;'* 
JeiL iv. 19. Chamao Ereti, ** the violence of the land," means that rohich 
theif have oujfkred .* " My servant ahall justify many JBe-deanffthif in his 
** knowledge," that is, m their knoioledge of him ; Isai. liii. 11. Beangecha, 
*< thy thoughts," mean thoughts concerning thee. Psal. cxxxix. 17. The 
preposition b fie J frequently means becavoe : ** The ships that trcnt to 
" Ophir, Le-xahab, because (or for the sake) of gold :" 1 Kihos xxii. 48. 
Le-obiv veUe-emoUf he. ** because of his father, or because of his mother, 
<* or because of his bnyther, or because of his sister, be shall not pollute « 
*« himself." Huxb. vLf. See mote bi Voldius ad ^ Ko 28. Juthor^o ^ote* 

There ia nothing m the contact to induce a suspicion that Lamech had 
ecmiaiitted a murder. By taking to himself two wives he first vblated the 
divine institution of marriage. Such an ofTence Was IScely to draw upon 
him the zesentment of hia kindred, ezpoie him to a particular quarrel (per- 
haps with hia brother) and fiH his wives xrith fear, lest he should be pro- 
voked to follow the example of Cain. To remove therefore their apprehen- 
sions, he thus expostulates with them, contraatlng the offences OC polygamy 
and murder : 

Hadah and Sillah hear my voice : 
Ye wives of Lamech attend to my speech ; 
^ Have I slain a man in my contest } 

Yea, one bom among my kmdred? 


the former, and that is the execration of No^ upon 
Ham ; with the magnificent predictions of prosperity ta 
his two brothers, to Shem in particular, and the ardent 
breathings of his soul for their future happiness : these 
are expressed in three equal divisions of verses, con- 
cluding with an indignant repetition of one of the pre^ 
ceding lines : 

^ Cursed be Canaan 1 

<< A servant of seryants to his brotbers let him be ! 

<< Blessed be Jehovah the God of Shem ! 

<< And let Canaan be their servant ! 

<( May God extend Japheth, 

<< And may he dwell in the tents of Shem ! 

<* And let Canaan be their servant/'i^ 

The inspired benedictions of the patriarchs Isaac and 
Jacob are altogether of the same kind :^^ and the great 
importance of these prophecies, not only to the destiny 
of the people of Israel, but to that of the whole human 
race, renders it highly probable that they were extant in 
this form before the time of Moses ; and that they were 
afteAvards committed to writing by the inspired histo- 
rian, exactly as he had received them from his ancestors. 

If Cain shall be avenged seven times. 
Assuredly shall lAmech seventy times seven. 
^3 in various instances is used interrogativdy ; 1 Sax. xziv. 30. 3 Kiv«a 
xviiL 34. IsAi. xxix. 16. Pmov. xzx. 4» &c. *9iab,mffigrdlroMJon or strife, 
from Pitt» 9cidit, but if the derivative be referred to the secondary sense : 
vtilneravit^it may in that case be rendered, Jrom my wound, or the 'wound 
that I have inJUcied. nV signifies a son, or perwn bom, and n very frequent- 
ly occurs in the sense of yea, fCXXn is. in various passages, equivalent to 
union, alHance, affinity. (In Mai. ii. 14. the same term is applied to the 
ntarringe union. J^ One bom ameng my kwdted may be considered as sy- 
nonymous with my brother, 8. H. 

I did not however think myself at liberty to depart in the text from that 
of our author, though I think this explication exceedingly ingenious. The 
reader may for further information on this subject consult Daw802I*b trans* 
lation of Gkjtesis, c. iv. T. 

16 Gen. ix. 25. 27* " Uek, xxvii. 27, 29, 39, 40. 


Without presuming to bestow on these sacred oracles 
any adventitious ornaments or poetical colouring. 

The matter will appear yet clearer, if we advert to 
some other verses, a little different in kind, to which the 
same historian appeals (as well known and popular) in 
testimony of the truth of his narration. Thus, when he 
relates the first incursion of the Israelites into the coun- 
try of the Amorites, in order to mark more precisely the 
boundaries of that state, and to explain more satis&cto- 
rily the nature of the victories not long before atchieved 
over the Moabites, he cites two fragmcDts of poems i 
the one from the book of the Wars of Jehovah,^' the 
other from the sayings fMashalimJ of those who spoke 
in parables ;^^ that is, as appears from the nature of 

la NtraiB. xxj. 14, 15. 

w Ibid. 27—30. Compare Jbb. xlviii. 45, 46. krftyptaHtmt fatrnffmatit» 
ttdj Ssrr. <* Who tbeee enigmatUu are (saya Auguatin) is not veiy plain, 
*< since there is no such appellation in our language (Latin) \ nor indeed is 
«• the word elsewhere found in the Holy Scriptures (that is, in the Septua- 
** ^t) ; but sinee they seem to have been employed in singing a poem, in 
'* which was celebrated a war, that had been carried on between the Anior* 
" ites and the Moabites, in which Seor king of the Amorites was yictori- 
** ous, it is not improbable that these enigmatists may have been those 
** whom we now cidl poets ; inasmuch as it is customary with poets to 
" mingle enigmas and fables in their Yerses, by which they obscurely indi- 
** cate realities : for an enigma is no other than a figurative mode of ex- 
" pression, upon the explanation of which depends our understanding the 
*< author.'* Quaet. xW. in Nun. Autk9i^9 J^ote. 

This matter will appear clearer and more easy of conception, if the dis- 
tinction be rightly observed between the two different significations ef the 
word Huuhal.' the one more comprehensive, and including all kind of po- 
etry, on account of the figurative language ( the other peculiar to a certain 
kind of poetry, which is opposed to the canticle or song. Our author, in 
the following page, seems to apprehend rightly of the word in tliis double 
sense ; but I thus far differ from him, that I think it is not expressive of 
two particular species of poetry, but in the one sense it means the whole 
genus, and in the other the particular species, which I just now pointed 
out. The l^XX. have rendered this word very ill aneyfxafit^s \ maghal^ or 
nmUtude, may indeed sometimes denote an enigma ; and if Aug^stin has 
jonJstaken the meaning of the Septuagint, it is excusable, sinse, whatever 


things, from some panegyrical or triumphal poem of the 
Amorites. To which we may add, what immediately 
follow, the prophecies of Balaam the Mesopotamian, 
pronounced also in the parabolic style, as appears from 
the extreme neatness of the composition, the metrical 
md parallel sentences, the sublimity of the language and 
sentiment, and the uncommon elegance of die verse. 
Hence it is easy to collect, that this kind of poetry, 
which appears perfectly analogous to all the rest of the 
Hebrew poetty that still remains, was neither originally 
die production of Moses, nor peculiar to the Jewish na- 
y tion, but that it may be accounted among the first-fruits 
of human ingenuity, and was cultivated by the Hebrews 
and other eastern nations from the first ages, as the re- 
corder of events, the preceptor of morals, the historian 
of the past, and prophet of the future.* 

Concerning the utility of poetry, therefore, the He- 
brews have maintained the same opinion throughout all 
ages. This being always accounted the highest com- 
mendation of science and erudition : *^ To understand a 
•• proverb and the interpretation ; the words of the wise 
^and their dark sayings;"^ under which titles two 
species of poetry seem to be particularly indicated, dif- 
ferent indeed in many respects, yet agreeing in some. 
The one I call didactic^ which expresses some moral 
pecept in elegant and pointed verses, often illustrated 
by a comparison either direct or implied ; similar to the 
yf»/icu (gnomai) and adages of tlie wise men : the other 

might be bis ability in otber respects, a ]>rofoand knowledge of Hebrew 
was certainlynot among his eiteellencies. M. 

» To tlie above examples from the books of Moses add the following ♦ 
Gwi. xxi. 6, 7. xxiv. 60. xxv. 23. xxviii. 16, 17. Observe also whether the 
answer of God, Numb. xii. 6—8, be not of the same kind. •tftilAor»* JVbte. 

«1 See PaoT. i. 6. Wis», vui. 8. Ecclus. I 25. vi. 35. xviii. 29. xxxix. 
h 2, 3. 


ima traljLpdetical» adorned with all the move splendid 
cdouriqg of language, magnificently sublime in the 
sentiments, aaimated by the most pathetic expfessioni 
and diverafied and embeUtafaed by figurative diction 
and poetical imagery ; such are almost sdl the remaining 
productions of the prophets. Brevity or conciseness 
was a chamctcriatic cf each of Aese. forms of composi- 
tion,, and a degree of obscur ity iva& not unfirequently* 
attendant t^xm thb studied breyi^. Each consisted ^* 
metrical /scotenoea ; on which^aoconat cfatefty ther poetfc 
and iM*overbial language seem to have obtained the same 
appcUatifHi ; and in these two kinds of composition aU' 
knowle<%ei human and divine.ivas.thou|^ to be com^- 

The sententious s^le, therefore, I define to be the 
primary characteristic of the Hebrew poetry, as bring 
the most coos{mcuous and comprehensive of ail. For 
although that style seems natondly adapted only to the 
didactic^ yet it iis found to pervade the whole of the po- 
cuy of the Hebrews. There are indeed many passages 
in the sacred writings highly %urative, and infinitely 
sublime ; but all of them manifestly assume a senten^ 
tious form. There are some too, and those not inele- 
gant, which possess little more of the cliaracteristics of 
poetry than the versification, and that terseness or a^ 
daptauon of the sentences, which constitutes so impor- 
tant a part even of the harmony of verse. This b man* 
ifest in most of the didactic pshms, as well as in some 
othens, thfs matter, order, diction, and thoughts of which 
are clearly historical ; but the conformation of the sen- 
tences wholly poetical. There b indeed so strict an 
analogy between the structure of the sentences and the 
versificaticm, that when the former chances to be con- 
fused or obsoured, it is scarcely possible to form a con- 


jecture concerning the division of the lines or verses, 
which is almost the only part of the Hebrew versifica- 
tion thai remains. It was therefore necessary, before I 
could explain the mechanism of the Hebrew verse, to 
remark many particulars, which properly, belong to the 
present topic. 

The reason of this (not to detain you with what is 
obvious in almost every page of the sacred poetry) is as 
follows. The Hebrew poets frequently txprt^ a sen- 
timent With the utmost brevity and sim{dicity, illustrat- 
ed by Qo: circumstances, adorned with no epithets 
(which in truth they seldom use ;) they afterwards call 
in the aid of ornament ; they repeat, they vary, they 
amplify the same sentiment ; and adding one or more 
sentences which run parallel to each other, they express 
the same or a similar, and often a contrary sentiment in 
nearly the same form of words. Of these three modes 
of ornament at least they make the modt frfequent use, 
namely^ the amplification of the same ideas, the accu- 
mulation of others, and the opposition or antithesis of 
such as are contrary to each other ; they dispose the 
corresponding sentences in regular distichs adapted to 
each other, and of an equal length, in which for the 
most part, things answer to things, and. words to words, 
as the son of SiracKsays of the works of God, two and 
two^ one against the other J^ These forms again are 
diversified by notes of admiration, comparison, nega- 
tion, and more particularly interrogation, whence a sin- 
gular degree of force and elevation is frequently added 
to the composition. 

Each language possesses a peculiar genius and char- 
acter, on which depend tlie principles of the versifica- 
tion, and in a great measure the style or colour of the 
poetic diction. In Hebrew the frequent or rather per- 

^ ECCI.V8 zzxiii. 1$, 


petual splendour of the sentences, and the accurate re- 
currence of the clauses, seem absolutely necessary to 
distinguish the verse : so that what in any other lan- 
guage would appear a superfluous and tiresome repeti- 
tion, in this cannot be omitted without injury to the 
poetry. This excellence therefore the sententious style 
possesses in the Hebrew poetry, that it necessarily pre^ 
vents a prosaic mode of expression, and always reduc- 
es a composition to a kind of metrical form. For, as 
Cicero remarks, '* in certain forms of expression there 
•• exists such a degree of conciseness, that a sort of 
** metrical arrangement follows of course. For when 
** words or sentences directly correspond, or when con- 
" traries are opposed exactly to each other, or even when 
^' words of a similiar sound run parallel, the composi- 
" tion will in general have a metrical cadence."*' It 
possesses, however, great force in other respects, and 
produces several great and remarkable beauties of com- 
position. For, as the sacred poems derive from this 
source a great part of their elegance, harmony, and 
splendour, so they are not unfrequently indebted to it 
for their sublimity and strength. Frequent and laconic 
sentences render the composition remarkably concise, 
harmonious, and animated ; the brevity itself imparts 
to it additional strength, and being contracted within 
a narrower space, it has a more energetic and pointed 

Examples sufKcient to evince the truth of these re- 
maxks will occur hereafter in the passages which wiU 
be quoted in illustration of other parts of our subject : 
and, in all probability, on a future occasion the nature 
of my undertaking will require a more ample discus- 
sion of this subject."* 

» Orfttor. s« See X^t. XIX. 




2* The Figurative Style ,• to be treated rather according' to the gpenius of 
the Hebrew poetry than according to the forms and arrangements of 
rhetoricians— The definition and constituent parts of the Figurative 
Style, MsTAPHOB, Aixeoort, Compabiboit, PsRsoKiriCATioir — The reason 
of this mode of treating the subject : difficulties in reading the Hebrew 
poetry, which result from the Figurative Style ; how to be avoided» 
1. Of tlie Metaphor, including a general disquisition concerning poetic 
imagery : the nature of which is explained ; and four principal sources 
pointed out : Nature, Common Life, Religion, History. 

JLn my last lecture I offered it as my opinion, that the 
Hebrew word expressive of the poetic style had not one 
simple and distinct meaning, but might commodiously 
enough be supposed to admit of three contituent parts 
or divisions : in other words, that it might imply the 
sententious^ the figurative^ and the sublime. On the 
sententious style, its nature, origin, and effect in the He- 
brew poetry, I offered such brief remarks as occurred to 
me at the time : and now that I am about to treat of the 
figurative style, I observe before me an infinity of mat- 
ter and an ample field ; in which, lest we should too 
freely expatiate, or irregularly wander, the scope and 
order of our journey, . the outlets of the road, the cir- 
cuitous paths, and the most direct avenues, are in the 
first place to be carefully investigated. In order to the 
full comprehension also of those matters which will be 
treated of in this part, for they are in some degree remote 
from common use, it may not be improper previously to 


explain as clearly as possible, and therefore with some 
flegree of copiousness, my immediate design ; on what 
principles, in what order and method, and to what end 
I mean to treat of the figures which are chiefly employ- 
ed in the Hebrew poetry* 

The word Mashal^ in its most common acceptation, 
denotes resemblance, and is therefore directly expressive 
of the figurative style, as far as the nature of figures con- 
asts in the substitution of words, or rather of ideas, for 
those which they resemble ; which is the case even with 
roost of the figures that have been remarked by the 
rhetoricians. This definition therefore of the figurative 
style, drawn both from the writings of the Hebrews, and 
the sense of the word itself, I mean to follow in explain- 
ing the nature of their poetry ; and this I do the more 
willingly, because it will enable me to confine our in- 
vestigation within narrower limits. I shall also vei^ture 
to omit the almost innumerable forms of the Greek 
rhetoricians, who possessed the faculty of inventing 
names in the highest peilbction ; I shall neglect even 
their primary distinction between tropes and figures,* 
and their subdivisions of the figures themselves, denom- 
inating some figures of expression, and some figures of 
sentiment. In disregarding these distinctions, I might 
in my own justification alledge the authority of C. Ar- 
torius Proculus, who gave the name of figure to a trope, 
as Quintilian informs us ; and indeed the example of 
Quintilian himself.' I omit them, however, upon a dif- 
ferent ground ; for I do not pretend to say that in their 

1 This distinction is very judiciously laid aside, s'mf e each of these words 
is but a partial mode of expressing the same thing. A trope signifies no 
more than the turning a word from its appropriate meaning ; and a figure j 
an appearance incidentally assumed, without the least implication of its Us- 
ing borrowed. S. H. 

I Sec QciHT. Lib. IX. I. 


proper place they are destitute either of reality or use : 
but our present concern h not to explain the sentiments 
of the Greek but of the Hebrew writers. By figurative 
language, I would be understood to mean that, in which 
one or more images or words are substituted in the room 
of others, or even introduced by way of illustration upon 
the principle of resemblance. That resemblance, if it 
be only intimated, and confined to a few words, is called 
a Metaphor ; if the figure be continued, it is called am 
Allegory ; if it be directly expressed by comparing the 
ideas together, and by the insertion of any words exprefri 
sive of likeness, it is called Sirmk or Comparison^ On 

8 Comparitott appears to be the first and most natural of all rhetorical 
figures. When at a loss to explain our meaning, we naturally apply to the 
associating principle to furnish an illustration : and this seems almost an 
involuntary act of the mind. A Metaphor is a comparison, without the 
words indicating resemblance. When a sarage experienced a sensation^ 
for which he had as yet no name, he applied that of «he idea which most 
resembled it, in order to explain himself. Thus the words expressing the 
faculties of the mind are taken from sensible images, as fancy from pkan^ 
iasma g idea in the original language means an image or picture t and a 'maj^ 
has always been used tp express &e ilibde of attaining our end or duhrt. 

There is, however, another reason for the use of metaphorical language » 
when the mind is agitated, the associations are more strongly felt, and the 
connected ideas will more readily present themselves than at another time. 
On this account a man in a passion will frequently reject the words which 
simply express his thoughts, and, for the sake of giving them more force, 
will make use of images stronger, more lively, and more congenial to the 
tone of his mind. 

The principal advantage which the ipetaphor pfMsesses over the simile 
or comparison, seems to consist in the former transporting the mind, and 
canying it nearer to the reality than the latter ; as when we say*—'* Achil^ 
*' les rushed like a lion,^ we have only the idea of a man going on furiously 
to battle ; but \» hen we say instead of Achilles-*-" The lion rushed on,** 
the idea is more animated. There is also more of brevity in a style that 
abounds in metaphoi», than in a style which consists mote of comparisons ; 
and therefore it proves a better vehicle for the sublime. 

The rule which good writers seem to have adopted respecting the use of 
similes or metaphors is this. Where the resemblance is very strong and 
obvious, it may be expressed by a simple metaphor, and it will, in general^ 
be expressed more forcibly ; but where the resopblanoe is nQt so ol^viov». 


the same principle of resembkinoe the Froscpopma, or 
PcrsDDificafticMi, is also founded» vfhtn a diaracter and 
person is assigned even to things inaoimale or fictitious 
(which is a bolder species of metaphor) or when a proba- 
ble but fictitious speech is attributed to a real personage. 
I mean, therefore, to treat of these figures in the or* 
der just now proposed ; not as supposing them the only 
figures made use of by the Hebrew poets */ but in the 

it zequirc9 to be more espandcd, and then a coinparUon or simile will 
ndfther appear fbrmal nor pompous. 

There m another obterration coneemiBg the use of these figviee, n^iich 
1^ more common, tboug^b I do not think the reason of it is generally under^ 
stood. Comparisons are unnatural in extremes of patnon, though meta- 
phors are not. The truth is, the mind when strongly agitated readily catch« 
t» at slight aa^ociationsc and neti^ihorB therefore are instantaiiBoualy form* 
ed i but it is impossible that the mind should dwell upon them with the 
fiannality and exactness of a person making a comparison. T. 

4 To the figures specified by our author, ihetoricians have added innu- 
memble others of lest importance. The principal of these, and the most 
comeeted with poetry, are mefonyfi^, periphrana, apoHrophe, and hyperb9le, ' 

In order to explain the nature and origin of these and the other tropes or 
figures, I must remind the reader that the associating principle is the true 
source of all figurative language. I must also remind him, that all ideaa 
«re associated or introduced into the mind by one of these three relations ; 
CnUiguity in time and place, cauwe and effect, or resemblance. On the latter 
of these relations d^)end cemparieontf metaphr; atte^wrie; &c. and on the 
other relations depend the metetufmy, the peripkraeie, the preeop^paia, and 
probably the apoitrophe. 

The word Metemfmy cHdently means a change i{f name, an adoption of 
some other mark to signify an idea, than that which was originall/ assign-* 
ed it. This figure therefore is most frequently derived from the relation 
of cauee and effect, and sometimes from that of contiguity : thus we sub- 
stitute the cause for the effect, when we say — ** We have read Pope," for 
*' the works of Pope ;** and the effect for the cause, when we say — " The 
** day arose,** for " the sun arose :" for further illustration I refer to Dr. 
Pxf xsTLET^s InntiAttc9 of Oratory and Criticiam, p. 238. The Periphratia 
is little else than a species of MetonjTny, as «• the lover of Daphne," for 
Apollo. For the connection between the Metonymy and the Prosopopceia, 
see a note on the 13th lecture. The Jpottrophe is a more animated Proso- 
popoia, when the thing personified is spoken to in the second person, or a 
distant person or thing is addressed as present. A most beautiful and pa. 
thetic instance is that of Ere, Paradiee Lo%t, B. II. v. 2(S9. 


first place, because they chiefly come within the defini- 
tion of the parabolic style ; because too they most fre- 
quently occur in the sacred poetry, and constitute some 
of its greatest beauties : insomuch that their true force 
and energy b in no other compositions so apparent I 
must add, that it will not be sufficient to illustrate them 
barely by producing a few examples, as if matters un- 
common and abstruse were the object of our inquiry, 
and not such as spontaneously occur on almost every 
occasion. It will be necessary to proceed still further 
if possible ; it will be necessary to inquire whether there 
^ was any mode of using them peculiar to the Hebrews ; 
the particular and interior elegancies of them are to be 
investigated : and to this object of our pursuit we shall 

The Bjfperhole is nothings more than an excess of figurative language, the 
eflTect of passion. All the passions are inclined to magnify the objecta. In- 
juries seem greater than they really are to those who have received them ( 
and dangers to those who are in fear. The lover naturally makes a divinity 
of his mbtrcss : valour and contempt are equally inclined to degrade and 
diminish. This figure, tlierefore, in particular, requires passion to give it 
force or propriety } and if this be not the case, it renders a style very bom- 
bastic and frigid. Lucan is too fond of this figure. See the first six lints 
•f Bowk's Lucah, where " The Sun 

*« -— sicken'd to behold Emathia's plain, 

** And would have sought the backward East again." 
And in B. VL v. 329. 

*' The missive arms fix'd all around he wears, 

'< And even his safety in his wounds he bears, 

'< Fenc'd with a fatal wood, a deadly grove of spears.** 
Kothing indeed can be more bombastic, than the whole description of tfai» 
warrior's death. The poet calls upon the Pompeians to lay siege to him as 
they would to a town ; to bring battering engines, fiames, racks, &c. to sub* 
due him. lie is first compared to an elephant, and again to a hunted boarw- 
at length 

" when none were left him to repel, 

" Fainting for want of foes the victor fell.*' 
Some of tlie extravagance of the above may, however, be the ikult of the 
translator, but how far I could not determine, as I have not the original by 
.ne ; nor is it of any consequence to the English reader. T. 


not, I apprehend, find any easier access, than by that 
track, which the nature of the subject itself obvbusly 
indicates to us. 

It is the peculiar design of the figurative style, taken 
in the sense in which I have explained it, to exhibit ob« 
jects in a clearer or more striking, in a sublimer or more 
fi>rcible manner. Since, therefore, whatever is employed 
with a view to the illustration and elevation of another 
subject, ought itself to be as familiar and obvious, at the 
same time as grand and magnificent as possible, it be- 
comes necessary to adduce images from those objects, 
with which both the \i'**'^ers and the persons they address 
are well acquainted, and which have been constantly es- 
teemed of the highest dignity and importance. On the 
other hand, if the reader be accustomed to habits of life 
totally different from those of the author, and be conver- 
sant only with different objects ; in that case many de- 
scriptions and sentiments, which were clearly illustrated 
and magnificently expressed by the one, will appear to 
the other mean and obscure, harsh and unnatural : and 
this will be the case more or less, in proportion as they 
differ or are more remote from each other in time, situa- 
tion, customs saCred or pro&ne, in fine, in all the forms 
of public and private life. On this account difficulties 
must occur in the perusal of almost every work of lite- 
rature, and particularly in poetry, where every thing is 
depicted and illustrated with the greatest variety and 
abundance of imagery ; they must be still more nume- 
rous in such of the poets as are foreign and ancient ; in 
the Orientals above all foreigners, they being the farthest 
removed from our customs and manners ; and of all the 
Orientals more especially in the Hebrews, theirs being 
confessedly the most ancient compositions extant To 
all who apply themselves to the study of their poetry, 


for the reaaoBs which I have enumerated, dsficiritiea Mi 
ux:oavenienees must necessarily occur. Not only the 
antiquity of these writings forms a principal obstruction 
in many respects ; but the manner of living:, of speak- 
ing, of thinkiag, which prevailed in those times, will be 
found altogether d^rent from our customs» and habits. 
There is therefoFe greal dunger, lest viewing them from 
an improper situation, and rashly estimating sdl things 
by our own standard. We form ail erroneous judgements 
Of thi& kind of mistake we are to be always aware, 
and these inconveniences are to be counteracted by all 
possible diligence : nor is it enough to be acquainted 
with the language of thb people, their manners, dtsci* 
pline, rites and ceremonies r^ we miust even investigate 
their inmost sentiment^ the manner and' connexion of 
their thoughts ; in one word, we must see all thk^ wid^ 
their eyes, estimate all things by their opinions: we* 
must endeavout as much as possible to read He brewa s' 
the Hebrews would have read it. We must act as the* 
astronomers with regard to that branch of dieir science 
which is called comparative, who^ in order to form a 
more perfect idea of the general system, and its dUSnr- 
ent parts, conceive themselves as passing^ through, and- 
surveying the whole universe, migrating from (xie plan« 
et to another, and becoming for a short time inhabitants^ 
of each. Thus they clearly contemplate, and accurately 
estimate what each possesses peculiar to itself with res- 
pect to situation, celerity, satellites, and its relation to 
the rest ; thus they distinguish what and how difierent 
an appearance of the universe is exhibited according to 
the different situations from which it is contemplated. 
In like manner, he who would perceive and feel the pe» 
euliar and interior elegancies of the Hebrew poetry, must 
ima gin e himself exactly situated «as the persons for whom 


it was written, or even as the writers themselves } he 
ihust not attend to the ideas which on a cursory reading 
certain wofds would obtradd upon his mind ; he is to 
fieel dim as a Hebrew, hearing or delivering the same 
^^wds, at the same time, and in the same country. As 
fur as he is able to pursue this (dan, so &r he wUl com- 
prehend their ftirce and excellence. This indeed in 
ttiany cases it wttl not be easy to do; in some it will be 
nupossible ; in all, however, it ou^t to be regaided, 
and in those passages particularly in which the figura. 
tiv^ style is found to prevail. 

In the metaphor for instance (and what I ramrk con- 
cermng it may be applied to all the rest of the figures, 
since they are all naturally allied to each other) two cir- 
eumstanoes are to be especially regarded, on which its 
whole force and elegance will depend t first, that resem- 
bbtice which is the ground* work of the figurative and 
parabolic style, and which will perhaps be sufficiendy 
apparent, even from a common and indistinct knowledge 
of the objects ; and secondly, the beauty or dignity of 
the idea which is substituted for another ; and this is a 
circumstance of unusual nicety. An opinion of grace 
ttid dignity results firequenUy, not so much from the ob- 
jects themselves, in which these qualities are supposed 
Id exbt, as from t he disposition of .tlie spect ator ; or 
from softie slight and obscure relation or connexion 
winch they have with some other things. Thus it some- 
times happens, that the external form and lineaments 
may be sufficiently apparent, though the original and 
intrinsic beauty and elegance be totally erased by time. 

For these reasons, it will perhaps not be an useless 
undertaking, when we treat of the metaphors of the sa- 
cred poets, to enter more fully into the nature of their 
poetical imagery in general, of D^ich the metaphor con- 


stitutes so principal a part By thb mode of proceed- 
ing, we aiuli be enabled not only to discern the general 
beauty and elegance of this figure in the Hebrew poetiy, 
but the peculiar elegance, which it frequently possesses» 

/ if we only consider how forciblejt must ha ve appg red 
to those for whom it was originally intended ; and what 
a connexion and s^reement these figurative expressions 
must have had witk their circumstances, feelings, and 
opinions. Thus many expressions and allusions, which 
even now appear beautiful, must, when considered in 
this manner, shine with redoubled lustre;^ and many» 
which now strike the superficial reader as coarse, mean, 
or deformed, must appear graceful, elegant, and sublime* 
The whcde course of nature, this immense universe 
of tilings, offers itself to human contemplation, and af- 
fords an infinite variety, a confused assemblage, a wil- 
denness, as it were, of images, which, being coUeoted as 
the materials of poetry, are selected and produoed as 
occasion dictates. The mind of mat^ that mirror of 
Plato/ which as he turns about at pleasure, and directs 

' to a different point of view, he creates another sun, other 
stars, planets, animals, and even another self. In this 
shadow or image of himself, which man behplds when 
the mirror is turned inward towards himself, he is ena- 
bled in some degree to contemplate the souls of other 
men : for, from what he feels and perceives in himself, 
he forms conjecture&eoncerning others ; and apjn-ebends 
and describes the manners, affections, conceptions of 
others from his own. Of this assemblage of images, 
which the human mind collects from all nature, and 
even from itself, that is, from its own emotions and op- 
erations, the least clear and evident are those which arc 
' explored by reason and argument ; the more evident and 

' 2fo R«p, Lib. X. sub iniC 

Lect. S. figurative LANGUAGE. r$ 

distinct are those which are formed from ihc impressions 
made by external objects on the senses ; and of these, 
the clearest and most vivid are those which are perceiv- 
ed by the eye. Hence poetry abounds most in those 
images which are furnished by the senses, and chiefly 
those of the sight; in order to depict the obscure by the 
more manifest, die subtile by the more substantial ; and» 
as far as simplici^ is its object, it pursues those ideas 
which are most &miliar and most evident ; of which 
diere is such an abundance, that they serve as well the 
purpose of ornament and variety, as that of illustration. 
Those images or pictures of external objects, which 
like lights adorn and distingubh the poetic diction, are. 
indeed infinite in number. In an immensity of matter» 
however, that we may be enabled to pursue some kind 
of order, and not wander in uncertainty and doubt, we 
may venture to fix upon four sources of these ideas, 
mother all that occur nuiy be commodiously referred. 
Thus, poetical imagery may be derived first, from nat* 
ural objects ; secondly, from the manners, arts, and 
circumstances of common life ; thirdly, fronr things 
sacred ; and lastiy, from the more remarkable fiicts re* 
corded in sacred history. From each of these topics a 
few cases will be selected, and illustrated by examples» 
Yi^ch though chiefly of the metaphorical kind, will yet 
be in a great measure applicable to the other figures 
which have been specified ; these we shall afterwards 
take an opportunity to explain, when not only the fig- 
ures themselves will be noticed, but also the different 
forms and rules for their introduction and embellish» 




The frequent use ef tlie metaphor renders a style magnificent, Imt ofteq 
obscure : the Hebrew poets hare accomplished the sublime without lo»- 
ing perspicuity— Three causes assig^ned for this singular fapt : first, the 
imagery which they introduce is in general derired from familiar ob- 
jects : again, in the use and accommodation of it they pursue a certaoi 
custom and analogy : lastly, they make the most free use of that whid^ 
is most familiar, and the nature and extent of which is most generally 
known— These obserrations confirmed by examples (1.) from natural 
objects : such as are common to mankind in general ; such as aze mom 
fiunilisr to the Hebrews than to others ; and such as are peculiar tq 

" 1 HE great excellence of the poetic dialect," as Aris» 
totle most judiciously remarks, ^* consists in perspicui- 
*' ty without meanness. Familiar terms and words ii^ 
'* common use form a clear and perspicuous, but fre- 
** qucntlj»^ a low style ; unusual or foreign expressions 
** give it an air of grandeur, but frequently render it 
*• obscure."* Of thosp which he calls foreign, the 
principal force lies in the metaphor ; but ** as the tem- 

^ " perate and reasonable use of this figure enlivens a 
*^ composition, so the frequent introduction of meta? 

'^ *• phors obsgures it, and if they yery commonly occur, 

1 Poet, c. 23. Modem writers are hardly aware of the ill consequence 
of what is called far-fetched imagery, or that which is taken from objects 
not generally known. This was the great error of Cowley, and the meta^ 
physical poets of the last centuty ; an error ibr which no beauties Can 
compensate, which always gives a harshness, often a prosaic appearance to 
poetry, and never fails to be attended with some degree of obscurity. J, 

Lbct.£« PQSTi9 IMAGERY, fcc. 77 

'' it will he little better than aki^iugma.''V If the He* 
brew poets be examined by the rules and precepts of 
this great philosopher and crilic, it will readily be al- 
lowed, that they have assiduously attended to the sub- 
limity of their Qompositions by the abundance and 
splendQur of their figqres ; though it may be doubled 
whether they might not have been more temperate in 
the use of them* For in those poems at least, in which 
something of ungommon grandeur and sublimity ia 
aimed at» then^ predominate a perpetual, I had almost 
said a continued use c^ tbf metaphor^ sometimes dar^^ 
ingly introduced, sometimes rushing in with imminent 
ba»rd pf l^^i^ty, A metaphor thus licentiously in» 
truded, is frequently continued to an immoderate exr 
tent The Orientals are attached to this style of com- 
position ) and many flights which our ears, too fastidi- 
ous perhaps in the^e respects, will scarcely bear, must 
be allowed to the general freedom and boldness of these 
writers» But if we examine the sacred poems, and 
oonsickr at the same time that a great degree of obscurr 
ity must result from the total oblivion in which many 
sources of their imagery must be involved ; of which 
many examples are to be found in the Song of Solomon, 
fis weU as in other parte of the sacred writings ; we 
shall, I think, find cause to wonder that in writings of 
so great antiquity, and in such an unlimited use of fig- 
urative expression, there should yet appear so mucl^ 
purity and perspicuity, both in sentiment and languagCf 
In onler to explore the real cause of this reniarkable 
^ct, and to explain more accurately the genius of the 
parabolic style, ) shall premise a few observations con- 
cerning the use of the metaphor in the Hebrew poetry ; 
^hia|i I tru^t will be suiEciently clear to those who pe^ 

9 12)» fc Qourr. TJii. 6. 



ruse it with attention, and which I think in general are 
founded in truth. 

In the first place» the Hebrew poets frequently make 
use of imagery borrowed from common life, and firom 
objects well known and &miliar. On this the perspi* 
cuity of figurative language will be fouhd in a great 
measure to depend : For a principal use of metaphors 
is to illustrate the subject by a tacit comparison ; but if» 
instead of fSuniliar ideas, we introduce such as are new, 
and not perfectly underatood ; if we endeavour to de« 
monstrete what is plain by what is occult, instead of 
making a subject clearer, we render it more perplexed 
and difficult. To obviate this mconvenience, we must 
take care, not only to avoid the violent and too finequent 
use of metaphon, but also not to introduce such as are 
obscure and but slightly related. From these causes, 
and especially from the latter, arises the difficulty of the 
Latin satirist Persius ; and but fix* the uncommon ac- 
curacy of the sacred poets in this respect, we should now 
be scarcely able to comprehend a single word of their 

In the next place, the Hebrews not only deduce their 
metaphors from familiar, or well-known objects, but 
preserve one constant track and manner in the use and 
accommodation of them to their subject. The parabdic 
may incited bf accounted a peculiar style, in which things 
moral, political and divine, are marked and represented 
by comparisons implied or expressed and adopted from 
sensible objects. As in common and plain language, 
therefore, certain words serve for signs of certain ideas ; 
so, for the most part, in the parabolic style, certain nat» 
ural images serve to illustrate certain ideas more abstruse 
and refined. This assertion indeed is not to be under^ 
9XQod absolutely without exception ; but thus far at teasi 

IftcT. «. THE OBJECTS OP NATUltE. f 9 

iwe tnay affimit that die sacred poets in iUustniting the 
same subject^ make a anuch more conalant use of the 
same imagery than other poets are accostomed to : and 
this practice has a surprising cflfect in preserving per- 

I must observe in the last placet that the Hebrews em- 
ploy more freely and more daringly that imi^ery in par- 
ticular, which is borrowed from the most obvious and 
fiuniliar objects, and the figurative eflSH:t of which is es* 
taWshed and defined by general and constant use. This, 
as it renders a composition clear and luminous even where 
there is the greatest danger of obscurity ; so it shelters 
eflfectually the sacred poets from the imputation of exu- 
berance, harshness, or bombast.* 

In order to confirm and illustrate by examples what 
has, been briefly set forth in the prewding remarks, I 
shall proceed to con^der a few instances of metaphors 
derived from natural objects,^ and such as are most in 

s It is very obfcrrable in our own as well as other langoagef» how miich 
■leUphort lose of the figumthre tense by repetition ; and it is curious to 
Mmak how metaphors are in this manner derired from one another. Fromr 
Hkt reeemblance of a narrow bed of metal running in the earth to the shii^ 
stionof aTcmin thehumanbody, it has taken that name ; and hentie I 
apprehesid are derired the eipresaions, » i»m ^^iry» a veAi ^/ hmuur^ 
Uc T. 

« The frequent recurrence for metaphorical expressions to natural ob^ 
jects, and pertieularly to plants and to trees» is so oharacteristic of the 
Hebrew poetfy, that it m%ht be ahnost called Uie AsHmiM/ poetry. This 
drcumstance, however» is not at aU eztraor^naxy^ if we consider that the» 
greater part of that people were occupied with tilling the earth, and keep' 
big their flocks ; and forthtf^ that the cultivation of poetiy, instead of be- 
ing conflnert to the learned, wns so generally diflused, that eveiy valley re- 
echoed the songs of the shepherds. Hence in the very few remains of the- 
Hebrew writii^ which are come down to us» I mean the Scriptures» there 
sfe upwards of 350 botanical terms, which none use so frequently as the 
poets : and thia circumstance I think ^ves sn air of pastoral elegance to 
their poetry, which any modem writer will emulate in vain. 

It is, however, extraordinary, that the stars should be so seldom men- 
tioned m the HcbKW poetry, fyt the names of not more than three or fovr. 

lO NOETIC lltAtiERY ^OKi lM&t.€i 


use : Tliis I sludl do in kueh ft maiUiet*, that whatever 
observations occur upon one Or two of Ih^m, may be 
Applied to many other instances. 

Th£ imaged cS Ugfa and darkness are cotiimonly 
made use of in all languages to imply or denotie pros* 
perity and adversity, agreeably to the common sense 
and perceptiOii whi^h all men have of the objecto them- 
selves. But the Hebrews employ those metaphors moire 
frequently, and with less Vtfisktioii than other people 3 
indeed they seldom refhiin from ttiem Whenever ths 
object reqoil^s, or will even admit of thei^ kitroductiem 
These expressions^ dierefcNrei miy be acGOtinted among 
tiiose forms of st)ee(ih, which in the parabolic style are 
established and defined ; since they exhibit the most 
noted and familiar images, and iikt applica!&n of them 

occur in the whole BiUe. It has been said, that the patriarchal ahepherda 
applied very much to the study of astronotny ; but if so, whence is it, tha;t 
We meet with such frequent alloaiona to botanical subjects, and So few tf>' 
the heavenly luminaries ? A comet is, however, I think, spoken of in Xumb. 
xxiv. IT. and in allusion to David, but it is by Balaam, who, resi^ng^ on 
the borders of the Euphrates, it is reasonable to suppose was not ahogethei' 
«naequunted with the Sabylonish sciences. M. 

There appears but Mttle foundation for this last remaHc Of the learned 
professor. For in reality, so little are the heavenly bodies subjects of po-' 
etic allusion, '^at W£ find them but seldom in^oduoed into any poetry 
either ancient or modem. Our annotator seems to forget that poetry is no 
more than painting in language, arid has not respect to names bvit appenr- 
ances. The appearance of every star is nearly the same, and consequently 
they can furnish no great Variety of imagery, and that can only relate to 
their general qualities, their splendour, &c. whereas the nature and viaifalo 
qualities of plants are infinitely diversified, and therefore admit of a much 
greater variety of allusion. Indeed a poem, the principal imagery of whidi 
consisted of the names of stars, would be a vei^ strange and a very didl 
production. We cannot, therefore, arg^e from the silence of the Hebrew 
poetry, tliat Moses or the writers of the Scriptures were ignorMit of aft* 
tronomy ; neither is it fair to suppose that a naHan of thepkerdtf m the ae» 
rene cvuniry of tlie East, were unacquainted with the Am^ of A#<iwii, which» 
in truth, from these causes, were tlie objects of adoration, and even of 
worship, in those parts, as i^pears from the preface to Mr. Woojs's Ac^ 
ewtU of the Mmru of BM99. T. 

Lbct.4. the objects OF NATURE. 81 

on this occasion is justified by an acknowledged analo* 
gy, and approved by constant and unvarying custom. 
In the use of images, so conspicuous and so familiar 
among the Hebrews, a degree of boldness is excusable. 
The Latins introduce them more sparingly, and there- 
fore are more cautious in the application of them : 

Restore, great chief, thy ceantry's light { 

Di8i>el the dreuy shades of night i 

Thy aspect lllw the spring shall cheer» 

And brighter suns shall gild the year.' 

The most respectable of the Roman Muses have scarce.^ 
ly any thing more elegant, I will add at the same time 
that they have scarcely any thing bolder on any similar 
occasion. But tbt Hebrews, upon a subject more sub- 
lime indeed b itself, and lUustraidng it by an id^ which 
was more habitual to them, more daringly exalt their 
strains, and give a loose nein to the spirit of poetry. 
They display, for instance, not the image of the spring, 
of Aurora, of the dreary night, but the sun and stars as 
rising with increased splendour in a new creation, or a- 
gain involved in chaos and primeval darkness. Does 
the sacred bard promise to his people a renewal of the 
divine favour, and a recommencement of universal 
prosperity ? In what magnificent colours does he depict 
it ! such indeed as no translation can illustrate, but such 
as none can obscure : 

^ The light 4>f the moon shall be as the light of the sun,® 
M And the light of the sun shall be sevenfold."' 

' Hob. Carm. it. S. 

^ Hence Milton perhaps adopted his 

" — another morning 

** Ris'n on midnoon, &c. ParadUe Lo$$, V. 308. S. U. 

7 IiAz. zxx. 36. These and the following descriptions of the increased 
splendour of the son and the stars» are not taken from natural objects, but 
fr9ifi fable.\ The remarkable fieUcity of the people is compafcd with tb*t 


But even this is not sufficient : 

.« No longer shall ihou have the sun for thy lig^ht by day ; 

« Nor by night shall the brightness of the moon enlighten thee i 

<( For Jehovah shall be to thee an everlasung lighty 

« And thy God shall be thy glory. 

<< Thy sun shall no more deciuie ; 

« Neither «{lall thy moon wane ; 

<< For Jehovah shall be thine everlasting light; 

^' And the days of thy mourning shall cease/'* 

In another place he has admirably diversified the same 

sentiment : 

« And the moon shall be confounded, and the sun shall be ashamed; 

M For Jehovah God of Hosts shall reign 

<< On Mount Sion, and in Jerusalem ; 

^ And before his antients shall he be glorified.' 

On the other hand, denouncing ruin against the proud 
king of Egypt : 

<* And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heavens, 

^* And the stars thereof will I make dark ; 

<^ I will involve the sun in a cloud, 

(' Nor shall the moon give out her light. 

<( All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee,^ 

" And I will set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord Jero* 

<* VAH."*«» 

These expressions are bold and daring : but the imagery 
/ -. isjKellAnown, the use of it is common, the significatioa 
' . /^efini^r; they are therefore perspicuous, clear, and truly 

There are, moreover, other images from natural ob- 
jects, which although in some measure common to other 
nations as well as the Hebrews, are nevertheless, from 

golden age, of which the prophet» had acquired a knowledge from the- 
Ep^tians. Isaiah has expatiated very much upon this image, of whIcK 
more in the notes to the ninth Lecture. M. 

8 IsAi. Ix. 19, 20. • IsAi. xxiv. 23. 

'0 BxxK. xxxiL r, 8. 


the situation and nature of the country, much better 
known and more familiar to them. There is no meta- 
phor more frequent in the sacred poems, than that by 
which sudden and great calamities are expressed under 
the figure of a deluge of waters. This metaphor seems 
to have been remarkably familiar to the Hebrews, as if 
directly taken from the nature and state of the country. 
The river Jordan was immediately before their eyes," 
which annually overflowed its banks ; for the snows of 
Lebanon and the neighbouring mountains being melted 
in the beginning of the summer, the waters of the river 
were often suddenly augmented by the torrents which 
burst forth from them. The whole country of Pales- 
tine** indeed was watered by very few perennial cur- 
rents ; but being chiefly mountainous, was exposed to 
frequent floods, rushing violently along the valleys and 
narrow passages, after great tempesjs of rain, which pe- 
riodically took place at certain seasons : and on this ac- 
count Moses'^ himself commends to the Israelites the 
country which they were about to invade, as being to- 
tally different from every thin^LJhey had experienced in 
Egypt, or in the desert of AraHfe. This image, there- 
fore, though known to all poets and adopted by most, 
may be accounted peculiarly familiar, local in a manner 
to the Hebrews, and of consequence we cannot wonder 
at its frequent introduction into their compositions. The 
prophet seems to have depicted the face of nature ex- 
actly as it appeared to him, and to have adapted it to the 
figurative description of his own situation, when from 
the banks of Jordan, and the mountains at the head of 
that river, he pours forth the tempestuous violence of 
his sorrow with a force of language and an energy of 
expression, which has been seldom equalled : 

1» See Sakiits's Travel», B. HI. 13 Deut. vili. T. xl 10, 11, 

U Josh. iU. US. 1. Cbbok. xii. 15. Ecclus xxlv. 26, 



<< Deep callcth unto deep» in the voice of thy cataracts» 
<< All thy waves and thy billows have gone over me."^^ 

It may not be improper to remark in this place, that 
though this metaphor is so usual in all the other sacred 
writers, whenever an occasion presents itself of introdt»c- 
ing it, the author of Job, in the whole of that poera, 
which from the nature of the subject presented excelle&t 
opportunities of employing it, has not more than twice,^ 
and then but slightly, made the least allusion to it. Na^* 
ture, indeed, presented a different aspect to the author^ 
whoever he was, of diat most noble poem, if, as many 
learned men conjecture, it was composed in some pari 
of Arabia, for which, I confess, diere is great appearance 
of argument, from that famous simile,^^ in which he comn 
pares his friends with the perfidious brook ; a compari-r 
son manifestly taken from the rocky parts of Arabiag 
and adorned by many images proper to that region. 

Finally, there is a species of imagery derived also from 
natural objects, altogether peculiar to the Hebrews. A* 
mong the mountains of Palestine, the most remarkable^ 
and consequently the most celebrated in the sacred poet- 
ry, are Mount Lebanon and Mount CarmeL The one, 
remarkable as well for its height as for its age, magnitude, 
and the abimdance of the cedars which adorned its sum- 
mit, exhibiting a striking and substantial appearance of 
strength and majesty. The other, rich and fruitful, a-^ 
bounding with vin^s, olives, and delicious fruits, in a 
most flourishing state both by nature and cultivation, 
and displaying a delightful appearance of fertility, beauty, 
and grace, The different form and aspect of these two 
mountains is most accurately defined by Solomon, whea 
he compares the manly dignity with Lebanon,*^ and the 
beauty and delicacy of the female with Carmel. Each oC 

14 PsAL. xcii. 8. " Sec Job xxii. 11. xxvii. 30. 

1« Jo» vi. 15—20. ^y Caht. v. 15. riL Si, 


tfaem suggeatsa different general image, which the Hebrew 
poets adopt for difierent purposes, expressing that by a 
metjqphor, which more timid writers would delineate by 
a direct comparison. Thus Lebanon is used, by a very 
bold figure, for the whole people of the Jews, or for the 
state of the church ;^" for Jerusalem ;** for the temple of 
Jerusalem ;^ for the king of Assyria'^ even, and for his 
army ; for whatever in a word is remarkable, august, 
and subliooe :^ and in the same manner whatever pos- 
sesses much fertility, wealth, or beauty, is called Car- 
mel.^ Thus too, by the &t rams, heifers, and bulls of 
Basan»^ by the wild beast of the reeds,^ or lion of Jor« 

!• IsAi. zxziii. 9. zxxv. 3. ^' Isi-f. zxxvii. 24. Jbb. xxii. 6, S3. 

» Ztcm, xi 1. ^ Ibai. X. 34. •> Uai. xi. 13. See Ezbk. xxxi. 

^ See «8 above, and Ibai. x. 18. Mic. vii. 14. Jsm. iv. 36. 

^ PsAi.. xxii. 13. EzBK. xxxix. 18. Axob ir. 1. 

» PsAXM bnriii. 31. Chaiah Xanehy ** The wild beast of the reeds/' is a 
periphrasis for ** the lion ;** and that by no means obscure, if we bestow 
upon it a little attention. The lions make their dens very commonly among 
the reeds. ** Innumerable lions wander about among the reeds and copses 
*< on the borders of the rivers in Mesopotamia." Ax. Mar. Lib. xviii. c. T. 
Thi» is so familiar to the Arabs, that they have a particular name for the 
den or haunt of » lion, when it is formed among- the reeds. Bochabt. Nie^ 
vox. Par. I. Lib. iii. c. 2. The river Jordan was particularly infested with 
lions, which concealed themselves among the thick reeds upon the banks. 
JoHAiT. Phmas. DeMCrip. Loe. Sanci, c. 23. See also Maujtorsl's TraveU, 
Jkboxe upon these words of Zbcbariar xi. 3. ** The voice of the roaring 
** of young lions, for the pride of Jordan is spoiled." " With tlie river 
** Jordan (says he) which is the largest in Judea, and near which there are 
** many lions, the prophet associates the roaring of those animals, on ac- 
■' count of the heat of the climate, the vicinity to the desert, the extent of 
f* that vast wilderness, the reeds and the deep sedge which grow about it" 
Hence in Jbr. it. 7. the lion is said to go forth Me^tobechou (from his thick- 
ct ;) and xlix. 19. " to ascend from the overflowing of Jordan."^In this 
place, therefore, (PSAI.X Ixviii. 31.) the wild 6ea»t of the reeds, the herd of 
the itnm^, and the eojiwt, are the lions, the bulls, and the beasts wantor-i 
mg about» or in plain terms, the fierce and insolent tyrants : of whom, by 
a continuation of the metaphor, the prophet adds, " each of them eagerly" 
(for there is that force in the distributive in the singular number, and in 
the conjugation Ilithpael) " ftriking -with their feet, and disturbing the 
Afo^r, or perbi^ deHrable^ riveve ;" that is, destroying, and laying wast4^. 


dan, are denoted the insolent and cruel tyrants of the 
Gentiles. In this and other imagery of the same kind, 
though the sacred writers presume to attempt what would 

the pleasant places of Judeau This very image is addpted by Ezjikisl, c. 
«xii. 2. and again c. xxxiv. 18, 19. in which places the verb rapfuu thrice 
occurs in that sense ; see also Dav. vii. 19. But whether rutx be spoken 
of the motion of the river, as in the Latin currere (ViRO. Georg. 1. 132.) 
so as to signify the river, is not altogether so plain. 

" This word CretuJ seems in the Arabic to convey the idea of water. 
** For there is a verb rux, to afford plenty o/ dritde / or to contain otagnant 
** -water, ao a Jiah-pond, or valley .* and the noun rutz, a quannty of water 
** /yf ny in the bottom of a lake, or cistern" H. 

A gentleman of great learning and genius has furnished me with another 
explication of this passage, which perhaps will attract the attention of the 
learned reader. 

This learned man interprets the whole verse in this manner : — ^"Consume 
'< the vfild beast of tlie reed ; the multitude of those who are strong in the 
** calves of the nations ; who excite themselves with fragments of silver : 
** disperse the people who delight in war." The wild beast of the reed is 
the Hippopotamus, which lives among the reeds of the Nile : under this 
metaphor the people of Egypt is properly delineated, which of itself opens 
the way to the explication of the whole verse. For the Egyptians are in- 
deed alluded to through tlic whole of the passage : they were remarkable 
for the worship of calves, and tliat of Jm and ^pia in the form of an ox ; 
and for their religious dances before tliese idols to the music of timbrels. 
The Chaldce runs thus: " The assembly of the strong, who put their trust 
•• in the calf-idols of the nations." — •« Srong in the calves of the nations,'* 
is a phrase analogous to tliat, Eph. vi. 10. " Be strong' in the Lord," and is 
«n Hebraism. The manner of dancing in the worship of the Egyptian 
idols, is confirmed from Exod. xxxii. 6, 19. also both it and the use of the 
timbrel, Hxnon. Lib. ii. The word nnn is totally different from Dfi*i, which 
is also found in Pbov. vi. 3. where the Yolsath renders it hasten thee, or 
better, excite thee, since it is in Hithpael. In the Chaldee it means to mii»- 
pic { in tlie Syriac to dance i in the Arabic to spuim,- whence in this place, 
" excite or stimulate themselves to dancing." ** With fragments of silver'* 
(so literally ;) that is, with the small pieces or laminx of metal round the 
timbre], which produce Uie jingling noise when the instrument is beaten* 
Tlic timbrel was formerly a warlike instrument : " The Queen calls forth 
*< the band with warlike timbrels," Vijlb. Whence Pbopxrtius also oppo- 
ses the Egyptian timbi*el to the Roman trumpet in the battle of Actium 
(Lib. iii. ix. 4f3.) If we consider it in this light, it will serve much to clear 
up what follows : " disperse tlie people who delight in war." Thus we 
have not only a clear d&>cription of the Eg^-ptians, but one that agrees ad-» 
roirably with the context : " princes come out of Egypt," &c. 

Author's wVo/e, 


not^cjdlQWcd in the Giwk and^Latia-pocts, yet they 
cannot be accused ^T "an'y'3eficiency in perspicuity or 
elegance, especially if it be remembered that the objects 
which furnished them with this imagery were all famil- 
iar, or, if I may be allowed the expression, indigenous 
to the Hebrews. 

In a word, we may generally remark upon this head, 
that all poetry, and particularly that of the Hebrews, 
deduces its principal ornaments or imagery from natur- 
al objects : and since these images are formed in the 
mind of each writer, and expressed conformably to what 
occurs to his senses, it cannot otherwise happen, but, 
that through diversity of situation, some will be more 
&miliar, some almost peculiar to certain nations ; and 
even those which seem most general, will always have 
some latent connexion with their immediate origin, and 
with their native soil. It is the first duty of a critic, 
therefore, to remark, as far as is possible, the situation 
and habits of the author, the natural history of his coun- 
try, and the scene of the poem. Unless we continually 
attend to these points, we shall scarcely be able to judge 
with any degree of certainty concerning the elegance or 
propriety of the sentiments : the plainest will sometimes^ 
escape our observation ; the peculiar and interior excel- 
lencies will remain totally concealed." 

M We must not omit noticing in this place, those images which are' dc- 
rived from rivers and fountains, and the earth recreated with rain ; which 
are indeed used hj our poets, hut more frequently by tiie Orientals. For 
the scarcity of water, and the extreme heat of the summer, togetlier with 
the wonderful fertility of the soil, when watered, render this a more ele- 
gant and jocund comparison in the East than with us. In spring and sum- 
mer, if the east wind continues to blow a few days, the fields are in gen- 
eral so parched, that scarcely a blade of any thing green remains ; many 
rivers and streams are dried up, the others are rendered briny, and all na-- 
lure seems at the point of dissolution. After a plentiful shower, however, 
the fields revive beyond all ezpeistatioQ,. the rivers resume their course. 


«id the springs pour forth more deUoious ^ater. BCahonet nakep use «f 
this idea frequently, as figurative of the resurrection ; and i^ thjp he sjieFJ 
himself no less of a philosopher than a poet Dr. Russel has described 
/ y this regeneration of nature in most lively colours ki his J^tahtrol Sutoty «f 
Aleppo, a hook which every man ought to vead, who wishes not oidy Utef> 
ally to understand the Oriental writers, but to feel them. Indeed, for want 
of this, many similes appear to us bold and unusual, which among the 
Orientals have a proper and distinct signification. Caab, an Arabic poet, 
who was contemporary with Mahomet, in one of his poems compares the 
teeth of a yoimg lady when she smiled to wine wixed with water, in which 
remained bubbles of yesterday's rain. In Iswah there are many allusions 
of this nature, the favourable or adveme state >of the vations being fyeqwa^ 
ly expressed by this image, which many commentators have attempted to 
yyy explain with more exactness than jT I^y^^Mto will frc^'' They have 
JG&en what the poet meant figuratively sometimes in a literd sense ; and 
at other times they have explained every thing in a mystical manner, and 
have pretended to define what is .meant by the -mater ^ who are those that 
are thirtty, &c. &c. intermingling many very pious reflexions, but utterly 
foreign to the subject, and such as never once entesed the mind of the po- 
et For it certainly was not the intention of the prophet to write en jgm^i^ 
but to illustrate and adorn the beautiful figure which he introduces. Thus, 
^. XXXV. 6, 7, speaking of the happy state of Palestine, at the time that 
Idumea was laid waste and subdued : 

<' The desert, and the waste, shall he glad ; 

*' And the wilderness shall rejoice and flourish *. 

*' For in the wilderness shall burst forth waters, 

*' And torrents in the desert : 

*< And the glowing sand shall become a ppol, 

** And the thirsty soil bubbling springs : 

'' And in the haunt of dragons shall spring forth 

*' The grass, with the reed, and the bulrush." 
It is however to be remarked, that the level ground suflfers most &om the 
intolerable heat, and that the deserts are almost destitute of water. He 
amplifies the same image in a different manner in c. xxxv. 17, celebrating 
the return of the Israelites from the Babylonian exile : 

*' The poor and the needy seek for water, and there is none ; 

«• Their tong^ie is parched with thirst : 

" I Jehovah will answer them ; 

** The God of Israel, I will not forsake them. 

" I will open in the high places rivers ; 

" And in the midst of valleys, fountains : 

" I will make the desert a standing pool ; 

*' And the dry ground streams of waters. 

•• In the wilderness I will give the cedar ; 

*' The acasia, the myrtle, and the tree producing oil :. 

** I will plant the fir-tree in the desert. 

UcT. 6- THE OBJECTS OF «AtUttE. d9 

^ The pine and the box together." 
ThU is admirable painting, and displays a most happy boldness of invcn* 
tlon i the trees of difTerent kmds transplanted from their native soils to 
frow together in the desert ; the fir-tree and the pine, which are indige^^ 
iMHis to Ijdiailon, to which sno^ and rain, and an imMense (l^u^ntitj of 
HMMsture seem almost essential; the olive, which is the native of Jenia^ 
lem ; the Egyptian thorn, indigenous to Arabia ; both of them requiring a 
dry soil ; and the myrtle, Which flourishes most oU the sea-shore. l^be 
same image occurs c xxxiii. 16—30, but placed in a different light The 
poet feigns in this place, that the wild beasts of the desert, and the drag- 
ons themselves, which had been aMicted With thirst, pour fd^th their noc- 
turnal cries in thankfulness to God (br sending rain upon the desert See 
also c. zzxiv. 3, 4. Sometimes in the district of Jerusalem, which by na- 
ture is a very dry soil, and in which there are few streams, an immense 
flood is seen to burst forth, and with irresistible violence fall into theliead 
flea, so that its water, which is more salt than that of any other sea, ia 
rendered sweet Gihon seems to have afforded the basis of the above de- 
•criptien, a rivulet which proceeds from Sbn, when perhaps some uncom- 
mon flood had prodigiously increased it If I am not mistaken, David was 
the first who made use of this bold figure, but with such a degree of mod* 
eaty as becomes the author who first introduced it, Psal. zlvL 2—6. I 
suspect something of the kind indeed tb have happened about the time of 
Ins composing that Psalm, fiv it is usual in earthquakes for iome streams 
to be entirely drained, while others overflow. But his imitators, in their 
ardour for novelty, have gone far beyond him. Thus Joel intermingles 
With tbb figure the picture of the golden age, c iiL 18^ 
'* The mountains shaE drop' down new wine, 
<< And the hills sh^ flow with milk, 
** And all the rivers of Judah shall flow with water, 
** And a fountain shall flow from the bousd of JelH>vi^ 
« And ahaU water live ralley of ShittoD.'' m;. 




Xiamples of tk^tifcial 5ttiag«ty'fpbm eomrndtJ fife— The h&Bits of'Mfe ex- 
'timely 8irrt{)leifX6n^ the He111^W9,.vli09e'pn^toipftl^hii^ wett 

agriculture and )>k9tut^gpe-^t1i6 di{;nlty of these employments ; indllie 
splendour of the ima]g^iy which U 1>0^roVed'fh>m them : 'Threshing, and 
the threshing instrUhients—^The sublltnity of the iihagery whtchis taken 
'from faniUiar olijects reSolts flfom tl»tn^riety. The ix>etic hdll of te 
Kelirevs explained ; Ihe'iiti'sgeky of which ia boitowed'fromtlieip silh- 
terraneous sepillchrcs' ajfia fdneral cites. 

Xn roy last Lecture I explained three causes, wlucb 
'^IteVe enabled the Hebfeirpoets to presence fai thrirfig- 
iirdtive style the raost perfect union betweeri perspicuity 
and sublimity. 1 remarked in the first place, that dwy 
chiefly employed images 'tak^n from finnili^ 'objects, 
such I mean as were generally ktidwti arid understood ; 
secondly, that in the use or application of them, they ob- 
served a regurar track, metlKxl, or anatogy ; Md lastly, 
that they used most freely that kind of inutgery which 
was most familiar, and the application of which was 
most generally understood. The truth of these obser- 
vations will I think find further and more decisive con^ 
firmation, if those metaphors be considered, which are 
taken from arts, manners^ and common life» These,, 
you will easily recollect, I before pointed out as another 
source of poetical imagery : and for this part of the sub- 
ject a few general observations will suffice, with an ex- 
ample or two out of the great number which present 
themselves in the sacred writings. The whole course 

a^d^iDetbo^ of ooom^n.or dpiqf^tic life among t)ie H^- 
brew^ of tbp more ^qqiientt^oicf^ was sii|i^^|^ ^nd unifprmi 
iff the grfsatqst d/tg^ Theft eixisted n^t that varkt|r 
of atudlfs aiK) piKSM^ cf arts, cpnditiw^» and employ r. 
iDfrnl^i wl^; may be^ observed among other patiocis^^ 
yfho bp9^ of superior civilization; and rightiy, indeed^, 
if luxury^. Ipvity, and pride, be the critf rions of it. AU 
9J9y^^ the s^e^qiial liberty ; all of theix)$ as bein^ the 
^i^ri^ of' t^^pi|^4U)qbent stocky boasted an equality^ 
^ Uqeag^ s^d r^fjlf ; tsh^jC ^i^re no epxj^y titles, no eu,-^ 
>^gns of fi^ls^ f^pry ; sparcely any distipction or pre.ce.-. 
defMie biU t|uit^ u^ch resulted froip^sf^perior virtue or. 
<;9nduct, froip tj^e dignity of. age aiod exjperiencet or from, 
services rendered ^9 their countiy. i^ps^rated fi;om tht; 
cesft of mankind by th^ir. religion and, laws, and not at aU^ 

aWi, ^iWfih, wc?^. W<?e«i^y ^^., si*if p)Ip w^^ uucv^ltivalef)^ 
(ps ra^hpB mi?OFMB*^4) ?tate qf; lifip. Thjus thqr, pf^iR-j 
«ip4 ^i¥igIqy«neQ|a;^i?i^ ^gciqul^urf a^d, tj^ car^ of 921!.-. 
^i %y.^P&*,P?ti«» of ^u^3i^m^p aptl ^bep|>?r4^^ 
The lands had been originally parcelled OHt to the diff^^f^ 
fnt lafnilies •, th^ portions of whicl^ (by the l^ws of the 
qount^fy) cqijdd n9jt,l;^ alienaited b^y s^^,* apjd^ :tl}qr^i^^ 
^esc^nded to their posterity without dwipu^ipn« . l()f^^ 
fruits of ,tl|Q ea^ ^ produo: pf hia lan^ ^d^^^t 
^ons^iju^d the ^wealth of each iq^d/vj^ju^ ^ ^oi^ evf;!) tlj^ 
great^fift apopg t^m este^nicd if njfiain;and disgfaf^fjitf 
to b|e,e|^plpy94.i>^.^he lowest offi^^^ of r^Tal^^bo^c. In 
^ ScripHjw ^V^VX, tjiereforq, we,T?8|^ pf ejnum^per* 
sons called to the highest and most sacred offices, he- 
coes, kingsi and prophets» from the{»laugh andfroo» the 

1 Lky. XXV. 13—16, and 23,24.. Compare 1 luats xxi. 3. 
« See JuD. iil 31. vL 11. 1. Sam. *ix. 3. xl 5,' 2. Sam. vH. J8. PbaXj, 
Ixxriii» 72, 7X 1. Kives xix. 19, 20. Amlqb i. 1. vii. 14, 15, 


Such being the state of things, wt cannot reasonably 
be surprized to find the Hebrew writers deducing most 
of their metaphors from those arts particularly, in which 
they were educated from th*ir earfiest years. We are 
not to wonder that those objects which were most fe- 
rn iliar to their senses afforded the principal ornaments 
of their poetry ; especially since they furnished so vari- 
ous and so elegant an assortment of materials, that not 
only the beautiful, but the grand and magnificent might 
hi collected from them. If any person of more nicety 
than judgenient should esteem solhe of these rustic im*?' 
ages groveling or vulgar, it may be of some use to lum 
to be Informed, tilat such an effect can only result from 
th^ ignorance of the critic, who, through the medium 
61 his scatit)^ information and peculiar prejudices, pre*» 
siinies to estimate matters of the most remote antiquity ;* 
n dannot reasonably be attributed as an error to the sa- 
ct^d< {ioets, who not only give to those ideas all theif 
neural force and dignity, but frequently by the vivacity 
and boldnesa of the figure^ e^hibH them with additional . 
vlgqilr, ornairient, and beauty^ 

'It wduld be a tedious task to instance particularly with 
nt^h^t^ embellishmehts of diction, derived from one low 
mdt trivial objetit, ' Tas it may appear, to some) the barn, 
or the threshingi'-flobr^thr sacred writers have contrived 
tbaddaliiStretothlerMdst subHme, and a force to the 
hlbst' impbitant stittjddt^ : Thus •* Jehovah threshes 
*^H>ni ihe heathen as com, tramples them under his feet^ 
'^ and ' dtspef sld^ 'thetm He delivers the nations, to Israel 

' ^ Okie iPdula ilitiott^ii^ tbitt tbit keen mn^vk ^ proplwtically levelU 
ed at a late critic of a very extraordinary xast. ft was a little unfortunate 
for that learned g^entlemai^ that these lectures were not traiulated prerU 
0U6 to the publication of his hook : if they had, he certainly would neve^ 
)ia?e laid himself open t6 the application of so pointed a sturcaspi., X*. 

LscT. 7. COMMON LIFE. 91 

** to be besleo in pieces by an indcnfted Bnl,^ or to be 
*^ crashed by their brazen hoofik He scatters bis ene* 
** mies like chaff upon the mountains/ and disperses 
'* them with the whirlwind of his indignation*"^ 
^ Behold I have made thee a threftUng wain ; 
<* A new com-drag armed with pointed teeth s 
^ Thou shah thresh the mountainai and beat them small» 
« And reduce the hills to chaff. 

^ Thou shah wimiow them, and the whid shall bett them away } 
^ And the tempest shall scatter them abroad.'*' 

Of these quotations it b to be remarked* first» that the 
nature of this metaphor» and the mode of applying it, 
are constantly and cautiously regarded by the diffi:rent 
authors of the sacred poems ; and on this account, not- 
withstanding the boldness of it, botlT chastity and per- 
spicuity are preserved : since they app1y"it^soIely to ex- 
aggerate the slaughter and dispersion of the wicked* 
The force and aptness of the image itself in illustrating 
the subject, will also afford a very proper and ready apol- 
ogy for some degree of freedom in the application of it, 
particularly if we advert to the nature and method of this 
rustic operation in Palestine, It was performed in a 
high situation exposed to the wind, by bruising the ear, 
either by driving in upon the sheaves a herd of cattle, 
or else by an instrument constructed of large planks, and 
sharpened underneath with stones or iron ; and some- 
times by a machine in the form of a cart, with iron 
wheels or axles indented, which Varro calls jphcenicum^* 
as being brought to Italy by the Carthaginians from 
Phoenicia, which w^s adjacent to Palestine. From this 
It is plain (not to mention that the descriptions agree in 
every particular) that the same custom was common 

«Has. ill. 13. JosL&i. 14. JsB.]i33. IiAi.xzi.ia 

« Mic. IT. 13. • PtAUt Ixxsiii. 14» 16. Isax. xvU* IS^ 

7 IBAU x)i. 15» 16^ •J)0M€ »ut{. 1. S^ 

94^ POETie Of MOBK ntOM LsGT< U 

bolhcCb the Hebrews aad Ae Bbmant'; Md^et I d^odt^ 
reeoUecC dial the latter btow tiwnwediany of Ask po- 
edeal imagery from . thas» oecupatioD» Vt is prsper^ ho v-> 
ever, to renMiiik, tjiat tlwuihiaep wa&obvaoua and^fiunii^ 
iar to the Hebrews in a^ high degree», as we kam Uota 
what is said of the tfareshingwfloor of Oman^ die Jebuaite, 
which was situated in an open place (as were alltfae rest) 
in Jerusalem itself, and in the highest part of. the city, 
in the very plaee,, indeed,, where the temple q£ Siolowqa 
was afterwards erected. 

Homer, who was uncon^monly fond of everj;^ picture 
of nival life» esteemed that under our con^deration so 
beautiful and sigmficant, that, in a few insitances,^ he 
draws his comparisons from the threshUig^floor (for even 
he was fearful of the boldness of t^b image in the fom 
of a metaphor.) Two of these comparison^ he intro- 
duces to illustrate light subjects, contrary to the practice, 
of the Hebrews ; but the third is employed upon a sub- 
ject truly magnificent, and this, as it approaches in some 
degree the sublimity of the H^t^rew^ it may not be im- 
proper to recite : 

« As with automnal harvests covor'd o*er, 

*< And thick bestrown, lies Ceres* sacred floor, 

« When round and round, with neiwr-wearied paib, 

<^ The trampKng steers beat out th' unnumber'd grain i 

^ So the fierce coursers, as the chariot roU^ 

«< Tread down whole ranka, and crush out heroes' souls.** > ^ 

This comparison, however, though deservedly account* 
ed one of the grandest and most beautiful which antiqui- 
ty has transmitted to «s, still feUs goeatly short of tbn 
Hebrew boldness and sublimity. A Hebrew writet 
would have compered the hero himself .with the instru* 
ment, and not his horses with the oxen that ase harness- 

• 2 Chbow. iii. 1. 

»0 Sec Hiad y. & xiii. 588. " Pors's JUad xx. 577. 

ed to'it,'%lfidi49 rfcttKr too appMile, «nd itoo exactly 
similar.^ But custom ha d not gifven equal lice nce to 
the Greek p oetry ; this image had not been equaUy &• 
miliar, had not occupied the same place as with the He- 
brews ; norili^cqutved llietfianieilbrcecaiid laudiority 
by long prHfllptidn, 

I bugfat not in this (Adceto om&tlhat supreimdy mag- 
nificent delineadon of the divine vengeance, expressed 
bylkra[gety t4k:eiif frbm the tiine:-press ; an image whi6h 
very ftbqaethly occurarin the sacred pofets, but which 
Mb bdfef pbttty has pre^Mddto introduce. But itrhere 
^iaD Mit^ tUiA e^pre^ibns 6f ifquki digtiity with the orig- 
inalinr any rnddfem' language? By what art of the pcfncil 
testn^WeeJtfhiblt even'a Shadow or m buttine bf that de- 
Irir^^on, iA t«4ik!h^ Isaiah depicts the Messiah as coming 
to vengeah6c?f** 

* *^yfkp i|Htlus'tM'Coii«Ui iboni Bdom I 

« Withgarnienta dcjeply 4ied from Botsra ^ 

<< This that is magnificent in his apparel ; 
'^«< Marching on in the -greatntsss of ius stretjgth ? 

'•9kn&s wilVfac^(*i4re fil% «at»UtaedlMlilJkiet/xn. 

. '•Ui8e^aiAi.'lti&/l«-3. >Otar mMior,»'m 4us «xodlent eMimiemary «n 
U$i^ Mst»-v^4Qng mi^ pi^Wng-^i^atet Bomer kvMd intfrffctari (I 
suppose Jewisl\) that JuEas Maccabeus, could not be the subject of this 

^TCyphecy. ^%'asSi£rtS vexy pfopsrly that* the glorious» but fruitless» effort 

.cfliieMsfaeabee0;ffra8noVaniewentiSJde4aiiUtos^ioft7 a pvedietion : ^ahd 
He' adds another «very matecialxircuinstanoe, which Jie presumes endiely 
excludes Judas Maccaheus» and even the Idumeans properly so csUed i for 

"IheidiiKiea of^the^mypAief s- time' was 'quite a different country Irom that 
which Judas conquered. To the question, ** to wkmudoes it then apply ?" 
lie answers, to no event that he knows of in history» unless perhaps the de-' 
stmction of Jerusalem snd the Jewish polity, which in the gospel is called 
the coming of Christ, and the days of vengeance. He adds, however, that 
there are prd^hecSes,Wiiich^iiftimste agveat'sUnghterof the enemies of 
God and his people» which femaiik to be Ailfilfed.-.these inJUekielr«idin 
the Revelation are called Gog.andB|sg|)g,.|o4' possibly .this pcopheey nay 
lefier to the same or the like event T. 



« I who p«bU»h right90usDeM«^ ^ and am mightf to ihtc. 

M Wherefore is thioe apiwrc 1 red ? 

<< And thy garments, as one that treadeth tbe wine-vat ? 

<< I have trodden the yat alone ; 

^ And of the peoples there was not a man with me. 

^ And I trod them in mine anger ; M^ 

« And I trampled on them in mine i«ttgp«|U ; 

^ And their life-blood was sprinkled upon mj garments i 

^ And I have stained all my apparel/^ 

But the instances are innumerable which might be ^uot» 
ed of metaphors taken from the manners and customs 
of the Hebrews. One general remark» however, may 
be made upon this subject, namely, that frooj^ one sim- 
ple, regular, and natural mode of life haying prevailed 
among the Hebrews, it has arisen, that in their poetry 

. ' these metaphors have less of obscurity, of meanness or 
depression, than could be expected, when we consider 
the antiquity of their writings, the distance of the scene, 
and the uncommon boldness and vivacity cS their rhet- 
oric. Indeed, to have made use of the boldest imagery 
with the most perfect perspicuity, and the most com« 

,^ y mon and familiar with the greatest dignity, is a com* 
mendation almost peculiar to the sacred poets. I shall 
not hesitate to produce an example of thb kind, in which 
the meanness of the image is fully equalled by the plain- 
ness and inelegance of the expression ; and yet such is 
its consistency, such the propriety of its applicalioD, 
that I do not scruple to pronounce it sublime. The 
Almighty threatens the ultimate destruction of Jerusa- 
leinjn these terms : 

' << And I will wipe Jerusalem, 

<< As a man wipeth a dish : 
L^ *< He wipeth it, and tumetb it upude down."i» 

14 In one msniucript tfaii word stands» ** the Announcer of rif^hteons- 
iiess." See bishop Lowtr's AViet on Igaiah* 

» 2 KivM z%l IX This Is the answer of some prophet as rdUted hy 
(he historian. 

Lbct. r. COMMON LIFE. 9/ 

But nmny of these imi^ies must fakdy appear mean 
and obscure to us, who differ so materially from the He- 
brews in our manners and customs : but in such cases 
it is our duty neither too rashly to blame, nor too sud<* 
denly to despair. The mind should rather exert itself 
to discover, if possible, the connection between the lit- 
eral and the figurative meanings, which, in abstruse sub* 
jects, frequently depending upon some very delicate and 
nice relation, eludes our penetration. An obsolete cus- 
tom, for instance, or s6me forgotten circumstance, op^ 
portuncly adverted to, will sometimes restore its true 
perspicuity and credit to a very intricate passage» 
Whether the instance I have at present in view may 
prove of any utility or not in thb respect, I will not pre- 
sume to say ; it may possibly, however, serve to illus<^ 
trate ^ill further the nature of the Hebrew imagery, and 
^ accuracy of their poet^ in the application of it. 

Either through choice or necessity, the infernal re* 
gtons and the state of the dead has been a very common 
topic with the poets of every nation ; and this difficult 
subject, which the most vigorous understanding is un* ^ > 
able to fethom by any exertion of reason, and of which -^ y 
conjecture itself can scarcely form any adequate idea, 
they have ornamented with all the splendour of descrip- 
tion, as one of the most important themes which could 
engage the human imagination. Thus the prompt and 
fertile genius of the Greeks, naturally adapted to the 
bbulous,** has eagerly embraced the opportunity to in- 

^ I fear our author» who is not a little indebted to the Greeks, is rather 
unjustly severe upon them in this passage. The infernal regions of the 
Greeks, which probably they borrowed from the Egyptians, I have little 
doubt flowed from the very same source, and the seat of the soul was sup- 
posed to be under the earth, because the body was deposited there. Neither 
can it be denied that the Hebrew poets also feigned a sort of society or civil 
commoBity of the departed souls, which without a doubt was utterly fabu^ 



kings. One of these is in Jerusalem, and contains 
twenty.four cells; the other, containing twice that num- 
ber, is in a place without the city. 

the sepulchre itself raifov or ftnfut; and the chambers, into many of which 
the sepulchre was diTided, oimk tvt «* rf fem/u^i ; the cells ftwuic* ^^nHq. 
viL 15. zv. 7. Bell I. 3. The sepulchres of the Egyptian monaichs are des- 
cribed by STaABo, Lib. xviL ** About forty cells are cut in the Caves.** Of 
the remains of which see a description, Pocock's De*cripHon o/ the Etut, 
B. ii. c« 3* There are still remaining at Naples certain sepulchral vaults 
called Catactnb$, which have not been exceeded In grandeur by any similar 
work of man. They appear to me, indeed, to be a monument of the most 
lemote antiquity, which, though originally appropriated to some other use, 
about the Christian xra were made use of as burial-places. They are evi- 
dently of the same kind with other subterraneous works of that country, 
many of which have been destroyed 1^ ^arthqual^, but niany lemain at 
this day a^ Cumap, Misenum, Baiae, the lake of Avemo, and mount Iposilypo. 
I have no doubt but that these works were antecedent to the time of Ho- 
mer, who describes them as inhabited by the Cimmerians, a people w4io live 
in perpetual darkness, 0<hf99. ix. sub init. as Ephorus in Stkabo, Lib. 5. 
says of them, *' that they live in certain subterraneous dwellings, which 
*' they call JirgiUa», and associate with one another by narrow fosses or 
^ passages ;" and the remaining monuments demonstrate this account not 
to be altogether fabulous. These caves are called ArgUlat, from the na- 
ture of the soil in which I brieve they are usually dug. ** Jlrgil^ or that 
** kind of earth which is used for cleansing, is white clay,** Hasvca. whence 
a hill between Puteoli and Naples was called Leucogmwt Puv. Abi. Bijd^ 
yiii. 11. although those mentioned above are all hewn out of the solid grit, 
in order to resist the injuries of time. Hence ArgiUtum, the name of a 
street in Rome, taken from some Argil of this kind, such as formed the cave 
of Cacus, which .was not far from that streets thou£^ Virgil does not fof 
vour this opinion ; see however Varro De Ling. Lot, Lib. iv. It is evident 
that Homer first, and Virgil after him, derived their notions of the infer- 
nal regions from these Cimmerian caves of Campania ; and when Virgil la 
describing the pave of Cacus, when forced open by Hercules, the image of 
the infernal state immediately occurs : 

'' The court of Cacus stands reveal'd to sight, 

** The cavern glares with new-admitted light, 

*' So the pent vapours with a rumbUng sound 

** Heave from below, and rend the hoUow ground: 

'* A sounding flaw succeeds : and from on high, 

*< The gods with hate beheld the nether sky : 

« The ghosts repine at violated right ; 

^^ ^nd curse th' invading sun ; and sicken at the sight.** 
Dbtds^'s Virg. JEn. viiL 321. 

Atah9i^9 JVWa. 

LmcT. 7. COMMON LIFE. 10) 

If, therefore, we examine all those passages, in which 
the sacred writers have poetically described the infernal 
legions, we may, if I mistake not, clearly perceive them 
intent upon this gloomy picture, which their mode of 
sepulture presented to their view. That which struck 
their senses they delineated in their descriptions : we 
there find no exact account; no explicit mention of im- 
mortal spirits; not, according to the notion of some 
learned persons,** because they disbelieved in the exist- 
ence of the soul after death, but because they had no 
clear idea or perception by which they might explain 
where or in what manner it existed ; and they were not 
possessed of that subtilty of language, which enables 
men to speak with plausibility on subjects abstruse, and 
remote from the apprehension of the senses, and to cov- 
er their ignorance with learned disputation. The con- 
dition, the form, the habitation of departed spirits were 
therefore concealed from the Hebrews equally with the 
rest of mankind. Nor did revelation afford them the 
smallest assistance on this subject ; not, perhaps, be- ' 
cause the divine providence was disposed to withhold 
this information from them, but because the present con- 
dition of the human mind renders it i ncapable of recg iv- 
ingit. For when the understanding contemplates things 
distinct from body and matter, from the want of just 
ideas, it is compelled to have recourse to such as are 
false and fictitious, and to delineate t he inc orporeal^ world 
by things corporeal and terrestriaU Thus, observing 
that after death the body returned to the earth, and that 
it was deposited in a sepulchre, after the manner which 
has just been described, a sort of popular notion prevail- 
ed among the Hebrews, as well as among other nations, 

M See III CuBC Comment. Ea^ographa : conftult the index for the worc^ 



that the life which succeeded the present was to be pass- 
ed beneath the earth : and to this notion even the sacred 
prophets were obliged to allude occasionally, if thqy 
wished to be understood by the people on this subject. 

Hence the meaning is evident, when the deceased are 
said to ^* descend into the pit/^ to the nether parts of 
** the earth, to the gates and chambers of death, to the 
** gates and chambers of death, to the stony places, to 
^* the sides, to the gates of the caverns ;" when it is 
said, *' that the grave has swallowed them up, and closed 
" its mouth upon them ;"** that " they lie down in the 
^* deep ;^ immersed in a desert place, in the gulf, in 
'* thick darkness, in the land of darkness and the shadow 
^* of death, wild, hideous, where all is disorder and 
'* darkness : and darkness, as it were, instead of light 
** diffuseth its beams."" 

The poets of other nations, amidst all their fictions, 
have yet retained a congenial picture of the habitations 
of the dead : Thus the tragic poet has admirably de* 
scribed the deep course of Acheron ; 

« Thro* dreary caves cut in the rugged rock, 

" Where reigns the darkness of perpetual hell.***' 

But how grand and magnificent a scene is depicted by 
the Hebrew poets from the same materials, in which 
their deceased heroes and kings are seen tp aidvance 

SI nrWf aUo *ra, or nwa, Jok. xxxUi. 16. Pial. xktlij. 1. & piusilM. 
n^nn pK, or nrnnn nn» Ebsk. xxxi. U. ixxli. 18. & PUin passim, "^f^ 
bMW Ibai. xxxviii. 10. npsf mD> Job. xxxviii. 17. Psal. ix. 14. niD '*ym» 
Prov. vii. 27. "TO *3aic, Isai. xiv. 19. "Jta *n3T, IsAi. xiv, 15. E»kk. xxxil. 
23. Vmv na. Job. xyu. 16. 

ss Vucv "», PsAL. cxlL 7. Mca % Pmi- Ixix. 16. Bee also Isaj. v. 14. 

33 nbtSQ, PsAL. Ixix. 16. Ixxxviii. 7. niann, Job iU. 14.£zes. xxvL 20. 

«* I remember, tliougii I cannot refer to tlie pMiagei some Arabian 
vriter considers the nocturnal darkness as an emanation from an opadue 
body, just as the light of day proceeds from the sun. S. H. 

« Cic. Tu8c. Qu4e9t, I. 

LacT. 7. COMMON LIFE. 103 

from the earth ! Figure to yourselves a vast, dreary, 
dark, sepulchral cavern,^ where the kings of the nations 
lie, each upon his bed of dust,^ the arms of each beside 
him, his sword under his head,** and the graves of their 
numerous hosts round about them :^ Behold ! the king 
of Babylon is introduced, they all rise and go forth to 
meet him ; and receive him as he approaches ! ** Art 
*' thou also come down unto us? Art thou become like 
** unto us f Art thou cut down and withered in thjr 
^strength, O thou destroyer oi the nations !"-— But I 
reluctantly refrain. — It is not for me, nor indeed for 
human ability, to explain these subjects with a becom- 
ing dignity. You will see this tran scend ent imagery, 
yourselves, better and more completely displayed in tl^ 
triumphal song, which was composed by Isaiah^ (the 
first of all poets for sublimity and elegance) previous to 
tbt death of the king of Babylon. EzekieF^ also has 
9obly illustrated the same scene, with similar machinery, 
in the last prophecy concerning the fall of Pharaoh ; 
that remarkable example of the terrific, which is indeed 
deservedly accounted the peculiar excellence of this 

» Jbai. xIt. 9» 18. E»K. xyxii. 19, 31, &c. 

S7 aavD Ibai. Wiv 3. E«sk. xxxiL 35. i ^vm» the cell vhich receives the 
mcopfaagut. V 

« £i», xjuui. 37. S«elMACQ*xiiLS9. s» Bus. zjoiL 33, 3d, 34 
» iMj^r «It* 4^37. » Esjix. zxzii 18-33. 




Xtoagery, which is borrowed from the rites and ceremonies of reUgion, pe- 
culiarly liable to obscurity and mistake— Instances of expressions» which 
appear uncommonly harsh ; and of others, the principal elegance of 
which would be lost, unless we adverted to the nature of the sacred 
rites— The exordium of the hundred and fourth psalm explained. 

XR£ present disquisition concerning the poetical im- 
agery of the Hebrews was undertaken, gendemen, prin- 
cipally with a view of guarding you against an error, 
which is apt to mislead those who peruse without suffi- 
cient attention and information writings of so old a date ; 
namely, that of accounting vulgar, mean, or obscure, 
passages which were probably accounted among the 
most perspicuous and sublime by the people to whom 
they were addressed. Now, if with respect even to that 
imagery, which is borrowed from objects of nature, and of 
common life, (of which we have just been treating) such 
a caution was proper, it will surely be still more neces- 
sary with respect to that which is borrowed from the sa- 
cred mysteries of religion. For though much of that 
imagery which was taken by the Hebrew writers from 
the general face of nature, or from the customs of com- 
mon life, was peculiar to their own country, yet much, 
it must be confessed, was equally familiar to the rest of 
the world ; but that, which was suggested by the rites 
and ceremonies of religion, was altogether peculiar to 
themselves, and was but little known beyond the limits 


Lbgt. 8. P0£TIC IMAGERY, fcc. 104 

Judea* Since, therefore, thb topic in particular seems 
to involve many such difficulties and inconveniences, it 
appears to me deserving of a serious investigation ; and 
such investigation, I flatter myself, will tend to restore 
in some degree the real majesty of the Hebrew poetry» 
which seems to have shone forth in former times with 
no ordinary splendour. 

The rdi^on of the Hebrews embraced a veiy cxtca* 
sive circle of divine and human economy* It not only 
included all that regarded the worship of God ; it ex- 
tended even to tlie regulation of the commonw ealth, the 
ratification of the ]$sat9, the forms and administration of y 
justice, and almost all the relations of civil and d omest ic 
life. With them almost every point of conduct was 
connected either directly or indirectly with their rdig^ 
ion. Things which were held least in esteem by other 
nations, bore among them the sanction of divine author- 
i^, and had a very close alliance with both the more se- 
rious concerns of life and the sacred ceremonies. On 
these accounts it happens in the first place, that abynd,- 
ance of metaphors occur in the Hebrew poetry deduc- 
ed firom sacred subjects ; and further, that there is a ne- 
eessity for the most diligent observation, lest that very 
eonnection with the a&irs of religion should escape us. 
For should we be mistaken in sq material a point; 
should we erroneously account as common or profane 
what is in its nature divine ; or should we rank among 
the mean and the vulgar, sentiments and images which 
are sacred and sublime ; it is incredible how much the 
strength of the language, and the force and majesty of 
the ideas, will be destroyed. Nothing in nature, in- 
deed, can be so conducive to the sublime, as those con* 
ceptions which are suggested by the contemplation of 




Ac greatest of all bein^ ; and when the august form of 
ReKgion presents itself to the mental eye, 

A fervent pleasure, and an awe divine 
Seizes the soul, and lift» h to its God. 

It follows therefore of course, that the dignity of the He- 
brew poetry must in some measure be diminished ia 
our eyes, since not only the connection of the imagery 
with sacred things must JFrequently escape our observa- 
£km, but even when it is most apparent, it can scarcely 
strike us with that force and vivacity with which it must 
have penetrated die minds of the Hebrews. The whole 
system of the Hebrew rites is one great and complicated 
allegory, to the study and observance of which all pos- 
sible diligence and attention were incessantly dedicated 
by those who were employed in the sacred offices. Oh 
diis occt^pation and study, therefore, all good and con- 
siderate men were intent ; it constituted all their busi- 
ness, all their amusenierit ; it was their treasure and their 
hope ; on this every care and every thought was em- 
ployed ; and the utmost sanctity and reverence distin- 
guished every part of their conduct which had any rela* 
tion to it. Much dignity and sublimity must also have 
resulted from the recollection, which these allusions pro- 
duced, of the splendour and magnificence x)f the sacred 
ntes themselves ; the force of which upon the minds of 
those who hud frequent opportunities of observing them 
must have been incredibte. Such a solemn grandeur 
attended these rites, especially after the building of Sol- 
omoft's temple, that although we arc possessed of very 
accurate descriptions, our imaginations are still utterly 
unable to embody them. Many allusions, therefore, of 
this kind, which the Hebrtew poets found particularly 
energetic, and highly popular among their countrymen, 
may possibly appear to us mean and contemptible ; since 


many things which were held by them in the highest 
veneration, are by us but little regarded, or perhaps but 
little understood. 

I shall subjoin a few examples of what I have just 
been remarking ; or rather I shall point out a few topics» 
which will of themselves suggest a variety of examples. 

Much of the Jewish Jiaw is employed in discriminate 
big between things clean and unclean ; in removing, 
and making, atonement for things polluted or prescribed: 
and under these ceremonies, as under a veil or cover- 
ing, a meaning the most important and sacred is con- 
cealed, as would be apparent from the nature of them, 
even if we had not besides, other clear and explicit au- 
thority for this opinion. Among the rest are certain 
diseases and infirmities of the body, and some customs 
evidently in themselves indifferent : these, on a cursory 
view, seem light and trivial ; but when the reasons of 
them are properly explored, they are found to be of 
considerable importance. We are not to wonder, there* 
fore, if the sacred poets sometimes have recourse to 
these topics for imagery, even on the most momentous 
occasions, when they display the general depravity in- 
herent in the human mind,^ or exprobrate the corrupt 
manners of their own people,' or when they deplore the 
abject state of the virgin, the daughter of Sion, polluted 
and exposed.' If we consider these metaphors without 
any reference to the religion of their authors, they will 
doubtless appear in some degree disgusting and inele- 
gant ; if we refer them to their genuine source, to the 
peculiar rites of the Hebrews, they, will be found want- 
ing neither in force nor in dignity. Of the same na- 
ture, or at least analogous to them, are those ardent ex- 

» iB-ii. Ixiv. 6. • IsAi, i. 5, 6, 16. Exnc. xxxti, 17, 

3 Lax. I 8, 9, 17. and il 2. 


pressions of grief and misery, which are poured forth 
by the roysd prophet (who, indeed, in many of those 
divine compositions personates a character &r more ex» 
alted than his own ;) especially when he complains, that 
he is wasted and consumed with the loathsomeness of 
disease, and bowed down and depressed with a burden 
of sin too heavy for human nature to sustain/ On 
reading these passages, some, who were but litde ac» 
cjuainted with the genius of the Hebrew poetry, have 
pretended to inquire into the nature of the disease widi 
which the poet was affected ; not less absurdly, in my 
opinion, than if they had perplexed themselves to dis^ 
cover in what river he was plunged, when he complains 
th^t ** the deep waters had gone over his soul.*' 

But a$ there are many passages in the Hebrew poets, 
which mdy se(m to require a similar defence, so thero 
are in all probability many, which, although they now 
appear to abound in beauties and elegancies, would yet 
be thought much more sublime, were they illustrated 
from those sacred rites to which they allude ; and, as 
excellent pictures, viewed in their proper light. To 
this purpose many instances might be produced from 
one topic, namely, from the precious and ifiagnlftcent 
ornaments of the priest's attire. Such was the grace* 
fulness, such the magnificence of the sacerdotal vest- 
ments, especially those of the high-priest ; so adapted 
were they, as Moses says,' to the expression of glory 
and of beauty, that to those, who were impressed with 
an equ(il opinion of the sanctity of the wearer, nothing 
could possibly appear more venerable and sublime. Tq 
these, therefore, we find frequent allusions in the He- 
brew poets, when they have occasion to describe extra* 
ordinary beauty or comeliness, or to deluieate the per* 

i Sec f SAL. jjuviii. ' Exoo. xxviii. 2. See ficcLci. \, 5— 13.j 


feet form of supreme Majesty. The elegant Isaiah* has 
a most beautiful idea of this kind, when he describes in 
his own peculiar manner (that is, most* magnificently) 
the exultation and glory of the church, after its triumph* 
al restoration. Pursuing the allusion, he decorates 
her with the vestments of salvation, and clothes her in 
the robe of righteousness. He afterwards compares 
die church to a bridegroom dressed for the marriage, to 
which comparison incredible dignity is added by the 
word Ikohen^ a metaphor plainly taken from the apparel 
of the priests, die fcH'ce of which, therefore, no modem 
langu£^ can express. No imagery, indeed, which the 
Hebrew writers could em^oy, was equally adapted with 
diis to the display (as far as the human powers can con- 
ceive or depict the subject) of the infinite majesty of 
God. **Jehovab" is therefore introduced by the 
Psalmist, as ^* clothed with glory and with strength,**^ 
he is ^* girded with power ;*** which are die very terms 
appropriated to the describing of the dress and orna- 
ments of the priests. 

Thus bx may appear plain and indisputable ; . but, if 
I mistake not, there are other passages, the beauty <X 
which Ues still more remote from common observation. / 
In dmt most perfect ode, which celebrates the immen. 
81^ of the Omnipresent Deity, and the wisdom of the 
^vine Artificer in forming the human body, the author 
uses a metaphor derived from the most subtile art of the 
Phrygian workman : 

^ When I was formed in the secret place, 

« When I was wrought with a needle in the depths of the earth."* 

Whoever observes this, (in truth he will not be able to 
observe it in the common translations) and at the same 

« IiAj, Ui. XO. ^ Pbal. xcUL 1. 

• PiiAi.lxT. 7, • PsAUi cxxxix. 15. 


time reflects upon the wopderftil mechanism of the hu« 
man body, the various implicatioDs of t^e veins» arteries, 
fibres, and membranes; the ** undescribable texture** 
of the whole fabric ; may. indeed, feel the beauty and 
gracefulness of this well-adapted metaphor^ but will miss 
much of its force and sublimity, unless be be apprized 
that the art of designing in needlework was whoUy ded^ 
kated to the use of the sanctuary, and, by a direct pre- 
cept of the divine law, chiefly employed in furnishing a 
part of the sacerdotal habit,^^ and the veils for the en« 
trance of the tabernacle* Thus, die poet compares the 
wisdom of the divine artificer, with the most estimable 
of human arts, that art which was dignified by being con- 
secrated altogether to the use of religion ; atid the work- 
mansh^» of which was so exquisite, that eveo the sacicd 
writings seem to attribute it to a supernatural guidance/^ 
I will instance also another topic, which, if I am not 
deceived, will suggest several remarkable examples to 
this purpose* There is one of the Hebrew poems, 
which has been long since distinguished by; universal 
appn^tion ; the subject is the wi^pm and design of 
the Creator in the formation of the universe : you wi4 
easily perceive that I have in view the hundred and 
fourth Psalm* The exordium is most sublime, and 
consists of a delineation of the divine majesty and pow» 
er, as exemplified in the admirable constitution of na-» 
ture. On this subject, since it is absdutely necessaiy 
to employ figurative language, the poet has introduced 
such metaphors as were accounted by the Hebrews the 
most magnificent and most worthy ; for all of them are, 
in my opinion, borrowed from the tabernacle : but I find 
it will be necessary to quote the passage itself, and I 
shall endeavour to explain it as briefly as possible. 

10 ExoD. xxriii. 39. xxvi 36. xxvii. 16. Compare Bksk. xvi. 10, 13, 1^ 
» See ExoD. xxxy. 30—35. 

Lect. 8. SACRED TOPICS. 1 1 1 

The poet firrt expresses his sense of the greatness and 
power of the Deity in plain and &miliar language ; and 
^n breaks out in metaphor : 

« Thou art invested with majesty and glory ;** 

Where observe the word laba^h (to invest) is the word "^ 
always used to express the ceremony of putting on the 
sacerdotal ornaments. 
« Covering thyself with light as with a garment :'* 

The light in the holy of holies, the manifest symbol of 
the divine presence, is figured under this idea ;^' and this 
singular example is made use of figuratively to express 
the universal and inefiable glory of God. 

ft See EvoD. xl. 34—38. Lbv. xvi. 2. Nvmb. ix. 15, 16. 1 Knr«s. viu. 
10,11. 2 CBBim. vii. 1, S. AstinilaraUuiioiiIsAi.iT. 5. lx.2»19 Zsco.. 
u. 5. BsT. xxL 23. Autkw^» JVo/e. 

I d« not know upon what authority our author has received this f»ct. 
The Rabbis, who talk much about the Shechtna, could not possibly be wit- 
nesses of that sii^t, which they themselves confess had disappeared for 
many ages before their time, and had never been seen in the second temple. 
Who, indeed, that is acquainted with the rules which sound reason dictates. 
Mid which sU who study history must regard, will give credit, in a matter 
of so great antiquity, to witnesses, whose faculty in fabricating falsehood 
has been so frequently exposed, and especially as they themselves confess, 
ifaat they do not r^;K>rt the fact upon the authority of any books or records, 
but meraly upon the tradition of their ancestors ? and no man can be igno- 
Tsnt how much such a notion is lULely to increase in the different hands 
through which it passes. In reality, I do not suppose our author took u^ 
the matter upon their representation, but that be founded his opinion upoif 
the passage in Lxvrr. xvi. 3. which, however, the learned Thakman has as- 
serted, is not to be understood of a miraculous Shechina, but of a cloud of 
smoke, which surrounded the throne consecrated to the Deity, lest the va- 
cmt seat should be exposed to the mulUtude. From the 13th verse of th6 
same chapter the same author argues, that the cloud upon the mercy-seal: 
was fictitious, or arose from the incense which was offered there ; though 
I cannot say that I am so entirely of his opinion as to believe, that not even 
upon the solemn day of inauguration, a cloud of a miraculous nature rested 
en the Cherubims. Unless, therefore, we interpret this passage of the 
Psalmist, as intimating that God is the fountain of all light, I would refer 
it to that part of the history of creation, which relates the first great dis- 
play of Almighty power. M. 


** Stretching out the heavens aa a curtain ;*' 

Jeringnah is the word made use of, and is the very name 
of those curtains, with which the tabernacle was covered 
at the top and round about." The seventy seem to have 
had this in view, when they render it wu %kffv (as a skin :)^ 
whence the vuIgate sicut peUetn (which is a literal trans- 
lation of the Septuagint ;) and another of the old trans- 
lators lifffut (a hide or skin.) 

*^ Laying the beatna of hia chambers in the waters :" 

In these words the poet admirably expresses the nature 
of the air, which, from various and floating elements, is 
formed into one regular and uniform mass, by a meta- 
phor drawn from the singular construction of the taber- 
nacle : for it consisted of many different parts, which 
might be easily separated, but which were united by a 
curious and artful juncdon and adaptation to each oth* 
cr." He proceeds ; 

«« Making the clouds his chariot ; 

*< Walking upon the wings of the wind t" 

He had before exhibited the divine Majesty under the 
appearance which it assumed in the Holy of Holies, that 
of a bright and dazzling light : he now describes it ac-- 
cording to that which it assumed, when God accompa- 
nied the ark in the pillar of a cloud, which was carried 
along through the atmosphere. That vehicle of the di- - 

ts I do not see why we should suppose the comparison to leUte to thc- 
tabemacle of Moses more th» to any other superb Ikbric of that kind. M. 

U Compare Exod. xztl 7, Sec. with the SxprvAGiirr. 

» It IB very evident, that if this obscrration of our author prove any 
things, it proves that any raftered building^ may be compared to the air. For 
my own part I am certain, that in this passage there is no allusion at all to 
tlie tabernacle, in which there was no cmnaculum, or upper chamber, bat 
rather to the houses in Palestine, at the top of which there was a cmnacu^ 
luftty or chamber, apart from the rest, lor the sake of retirement, which has 
been very accurately described by Shaw. M. 

Lbct, 6. SACRED TOPICS. ■ I IJ8 

vine Presence is, indeed, distinguished in the sacqcd 
history by the particular appellation of d chariot.^ 

^ Ma4cing the winds his messengers, . 

M And his ministevs a Baoung fire :" 

The elements are described as prompt and ready in exe- 
cuting the commands of Jehov ahv as angels, mcssett- 
gers, or ministers serving at the tafaemaele, the Hebrew 
word being exactly expressive of ihe btter aedse. ' ^ • 
« Who founded the earth apon its bases :^ V ' * - \ i -. ■ 

The following phrase also is directly^'takfen from 'the 
same : ' . ) 

. « That it should not be displaced for mpr^itban ages i** 

That is, " for a certain period known only to the infinite 
wisdom of God." As the situation of bpth was. in this 
tespect nearly the same, so, on the dthef hand, the per- 
manence of the sanctuary is in other places compared, 
and in almost the same words, with the stability of the 
earth.^^ ; 

Perhaps, in pursuing this investigation W|th so nvuch 
subtilty and minuteness, I have scarcely acted consist- 
ently with the customs of this place, or the nature of my 
design : but it appeared absolutely necessary so^to do» 
in order to make myself perfectly understood ; and to 
demonstrate, that it is scarcely or not at all, possible for 
any translation fully to represent the genuine sense of 
the sacred poets, and that delicate connection which for *- 
the most part exists between their poetical imagery, and 
the peculiar circumstances of their nation.^ This con? 
nection frequently depends upon the use of certain terms, 

10 2 CflBoir. xxviii. 18. See also Ecckus zlU. 8. 

w PsAL. ixxviii. 69. 

1* It may be asserted of translations in general, and I am sure I have ex- 
perienced the trath of tlie obser>'ation in this very attempt, that many of 
the minuter beauties of style are necessarily lost ; a translator is scarcely 



114 POETIC IMAGERY, &c. Lbct.!. 

.npon a certain atebciation between words and things, 
which a translation generally perplexes, and very fiie- 
qnently destroys. This» therefore, is not to be preserv- 
ed in the most literal and accurate version, much less in 
any poetical translation, or rather imitation: thou^ 
there are extant sonie not unsuccessful attempts of this 
kind. To relish completely all the excellencies of the 
Hebrew literatms^ Ae fountains themselves must be ap- 
proached, the peculiar flavour of which cannot be con- 
veyed by aqueducts, or indeed by any exertion of mod- 
em art. 

allowed to intrade upon hii author any figures or images of his own. and 
ivany which appear in the original must be omitted of course. Metaphon, 
synecdoches» and metonymies, are frequently untractahle ; the correspond- 
ing irards woiild }ii!obab}y in a figoratiye sense appear harsh or obaeure. 
Th^obyefTaUoiiy bowcvier, appU^ with less justice to our common versioa 
of the Bible than to any translation whatever. It was made in a very early 
stage of our literat^sre, and when the language was by no mesns formed : 
- In Bu^ a state of the labgtmg^, theftgucatxve diction of the Hebrews might 
be literally rendered without riolence to the national taste ; and the fre- 
quent recurrence of the saijne images and expressions serves to familiarize 
thenTio' us. Time' and habit have nowg^ves it feree and authority ; and I 
bcli«»)s th4v no? cr was an instance of any translation^ so very literal and ex- 
act, being read with s^ch universal satisftctioa and pleasure. T. 



Tile ixaaguy from tlie sacred hiftory is the most luminous and erident of 
all— The peculiar nature «f ^is kind of metaphor explained, as used by 
the Hebrew poet*— The order of the toph» which commonly filhinh' 
Ihem : the Chaos snd Creation { the Delufet the destntctioqof Sodon^ 
the emigration of the Israeliies from Egypt ; the descent of God upof^ 
Mount Sinah-^This species of metaphor excellently adapted to the s'sp 
cred poetry, and particularly to the prophetic ; not easy to form any> 
comparison between the sacred and profiuie poetry in this respect 

mFovk distinot classes of imagery having been specified, 
as capable of being introduced in a metaphorical form 
into the poetry of the Hebrews, the last of these, or that 
which is si^^gested by the more remarkable transactions 
recorded in the sacred history, now remains to be exam*^ 
ined« Here, however, since the nature o£ the subject 
differs in some degree from the former objects of our 
investigation, so the manner of treating it must be also 
different. The principal design of our late disquisition 
was, by conudering the circumstances, customs, opin** 
ions, and sentiments of the Hebrews, to facili^te our 
approach to the interior beauties of their poetry ; and,, 
by duly examining die nature of the circumstaiKes, to 
estimate more properly the force and power of each ; to 
dispel as much as possible the mists of antiquity ; to re* 
store their native perspicuity to such passages as appear 
obscure, their native agreeableness to such as npw in- 
spire us with sentiments of disjjust, their proper allMre* 




ment and elegance to those which seem harsh and vul- 
gar, and their original dignity to those which the change- 
ablencss of custom has rendered contemptible or mean. 
In this division of our subject, on the contrary, but little 
will occur either difficult or obscure ; nothing which 
will seem to require explication or de£stice : all will be 
at once perspicuous, splendid, and sublime. Sacred 
history iUununates tlus class of imagery with its proper 
light, and renders it scarcely less con^icuous to us than 
tothc Hebrews themselves. There is, indeed, this d\t- 
ference, that to the Hebrews the objects of these allu- 
sions were all national and domestic ; and the power of 
them in moving or delighting the mind was of course 
proportionably greater ; nay, frequently, the very place, 
the scene of action, certain traces, and express tokens of 
so many miracles lying before their eyes, must have in- 
(jreased the trfTect. To us, on the other hand, however 
ifre may hold these facts in veneration, however great 
and striking they may be in themselves, the distance 
.p/ of time and place must of necessity render them less 

' 'The manner in which these metaphors are formed is 
well deserving of observation, and is in fact as follows. 
In describing or embellishing illustrious actions, or fu- 
ture t+tnts of a miraculous nature, the Hebrew poets 
at^ acclistomcd to introduce allusions to the actions of 
fofr^hier times, such as possess a conspicuous place iu' 
thefr history ; and thus they illuminate with colours, 
fBfcip;^!, indeed, but similar, the future by the past, the 
rt^oeirt l^' the antique, facts less known by others more 
gciidriilf)' .understood : and as this property seems pecu- 
liilr to iKt poetry of the Hebrews, at least is but seldom 
to be met with in that of other nations, I have determin- 
ed to iflitstratb this part of my subject with a greater 
variety of examples ilum usual? I mean, therefore, to 


instance in a reguliff order certain topics or common* 
places of Scripture, which seem to have furnished, if 
not all, at least the principal part of these allusions : it 
will be necessary at the same time to remark their figur- 
ative power and effect, and the regular and uniform 
method pursued in the application of them, which has 
been already stated as characteristical of the poetical 
imagery of the Hebrews. 

The first of these topics, or common-places, is the 
Chaps and the Crea tion, which compose the first pages y 
of the sacred history. These are constantly alluded to» 
as expressive of any remarkable change, whether pros* 
perous or adverse, in the public affairs ; of the over- 
throw or restoration of kingdoms and nations : and are 
consequently very common in the prophetic poetry, 
particularly when any unusual degree of boldness is at- 
tempted. If the subject be the destruction of the Jew- 
ish empire by the Chaldeans, or a strong denunciation 
of ruin against the enemies of Israel, it is depicted in 
exactly the same colours, as if universal nature were 
about' to relapse into the primeval chaos. Thus Jere- 
miah, in that sublime, and indeed more than poetical 
vision, in which is represented the impending desolation 
of Judea : 

^ I beheld the earth, and lo ! disorder and confusion ; 

<< The beaYens also, and there was no light. 

<< I beheld the mountains, and lo ! they trembled ; 

M And all the hills shook. 

^ I beheld, and lo ! there was not a man ; 

^« And all the fowls of the heavens were fled. 

(* 1 beheldi and lo ! the fruitful field (was become) the desen ; 

^ And all its cities were thrown down, 

^ Before the presence of Jehovah, 

*< Before the fierce heat of his anger.*' ^ 

\ Jkb. it. 2S— 26. This imagie, and that which follows from Joel, the 
learned Michaells wiU not allow to relate to the Mosaic chaos, but «up. 



And on a nmilar subject Isaiah expresses himself with 
wonderful force andsublimiqr : 

M And he shall stretch over her the line of devaslation, 
^ And the plummet of emptiness."* 
Each of them not only had in his mind the Mosaic cha* 
/^ 03, but actually uses the words of the divine historian. 
^^ The same subjects are amplified and embellished by 
the prophets with several adjuncts : 

M The sun and the moon are darkened, 

M And the stars withdraw their shining. 

« Jkhotab also will thunder from Sion, 

<( And from Jerusalem will he utter his voice ; 

^ And the heavens and the earth shall shake."* 

« And all the host of heaven shall waste away : 

« And the heavens shall he rolled up like a scroll ; 

«< And all their host shall wither ; 

<< As the withered leaf falleth from the vine, 

w And as the hlighted fig from the fig-tree."* 

On the contrary, when he foretels the restoration of 
the Israelites : 

« For I am Jehovah thy God ; 

M He who stilleth at once the sea, 

" Though the waves thereof roar ; 

<< Jbhovah God of Hosts is his name. 

<< I have put my words in thy mouth ; 

« And with the shadow of my hand have I covered thee: 

M To stretch out the heavens» and to lay the foundations of the 
« earth ; 

M And to say unto Sion, Thou art my people."' 

posei them to be no more than a description of some horrible and desoUt- 
ing tempest Of this the reader must judge for himself. T. 
s IsAi. zxxiv. 11. ' JoEi iii. IS, 16. < Isai. xzxiv. 4 

f Isii. li. 15, 16. R^Mgang, " tranquillizing^ (or) instantaneously stilling^ :^ 
it is commonly rendered clearing', dividing, not only in this, but in the 
parallel places, Jaa. zxzi. 35. Job xxvl 13. I am, however, of opinion, 
that the meaning of the word has been totally mistaken, it denotes strictly 
something^ imtmuainemu / a cessation of motion, or a wdden qtdeHng : as 
when a bird suddenly lights upon a tree. See Isai. xxxiv. 14. The Bs^ 


« Thus therefinre shall Jxrotah console Mod ^ 
« He shell console her desolations : 
<< And he shall make her wQdemess like Eden 9 
<< And her desert like the garden of Jxhotab i 
^ Joy and gladness shall be found in her ; 
<* Thanksgiving, and the voice of melody .**> 

In the former of these two last-quoted examples the 
universal deluge is exactly delineated, and on similar 
subjects the same imagery generally occurs. Thus, as 
the devastation of the holy land is frequently represented 
by the restoration of ancient chaos, so the same event is 
sometimes expressed in metaphors suggested by the 
universal deluge : 

f< Behold, Jbhotah emptieth the land, and maketh it waste ; 

« He even tumeth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the in- 

*^ habitants* 
^ For the flood-gates from on high are opened ; 
M And the foundations of the earth tremble. 
« The land is grievously shaken ; 
M The land is utterly shattered to pieces ; 
^ The land is violently moved out of her place ; 

TUAozxT very properly tenders it, in the sbove-quoted passage in Job, 
wtfBnnm. Conmilt the CoveoKDAHOi. 

** If any doabt can reoudn concerning this tmnalation of the word ra- 
'^ gvng^ it wiU meet anfficient confirmation ftom the Arabic, in which the 
" aame verb impliea, /• rtdiu^ a iking to if ftrmgr^ «r a better^ ttate. 
** Whence are derived the following words, regangf a lake (aa it were a 
** flood of water atopped and confined ;) ragitu^t to atop or confineaflood 
^ of water ; ragangan^ atagnant or confined waters.** H. 

Concerning the phrase ^ to atretch out the heavens,** consult Yrranio. 
in loc. JtuihM*9 /Tpte, 

^ Ver. 16. Tq ttretch out the heanetui] In the present text it ia ynab, to 
** plant the heavena : the phrase ia certainly very obscure ; and in all prob» 
" abUity is a mistake for jYwib. This latter ia the word uaed in ver. 13. 
" just before, in the very same aentence ; and thia phrase occurs fi-equently 
c* in ItJki. Chap. zl. 32. xlii. 5. xliv. 34. xlv. 12. The former in no oth- 
^ er place. It ia alao very remarkable, that in the Samaritan text. Hums. 
«■ zxiv. %, these two words are tince changed, by miatake, one for the other, 
«< in the same verse.** Mi9hop l4SWTa*s Uaiah, Akftt, ch. li. 

• IsAX. li. 3. 


*< The land reeleth to and fro like a drunkard ; 

^ And moretb this way and that, like a lodge for a iiight"7 

These are great ideas ; indeed the human mind can- 
not easily conceive any thing greater or more sublime. 
There is nothing,, however, of this kind more forcible 
and elevated than that imagery which is taken from the 
destruction of Sodom, that being the next in order of 
these topics, and generally applied to express the pun- 
ishments to be inflicted by the Almighty on the wicked : 
<^ He shall rain li?e coals upon the ungodly, 
^ Fire and sulphur, and a burning storm :* this shall be the con- 
•< tents of their cup."* 

» iBAi. Mir. 1, 18, 19, 20. *• Solekah, ipiyc^i «V, (desoUteth it) Sew. 
" and in the same sense the Jewish commenUtors : amongst whom R. D. 
" KiMcHi, having recoupse to the Arabic, says, the word Balohah signifies 
" in that language, a place in which no plant it found to vegotate."* H. 

•* The word Melunah properly signifies an abode chan^d nightly from 
^ place to place: «ul is therefore expressive of the vibrating and unsublc 
« situation of the earth. The Sept. is «nuyMr^xmio** The Taho. and Sth. 
" KVnj^, a couch for one night g a travelling bed. See Bvxtobv. Lex Otald 
•• col. 1670. Kixcni also explains the word in the same manner.'* H. 

^uthor^t JVote. 

• This is an admirable image, and is taken from the school of nature. 
The wind Zilgaphoth, which blows from the East, is very pestUental, and 
therefore almost proverbial among the Orientals. In the months of Jul/ 
and August, when it happens to continue for the space often minutes, it 
kills whatever is exposed to it Many wonderlul stories are related of iU 
effects by the Arabians, and their poeto feign that the wicked, in their 
place of eternal torment, are to breathe this pestiferous wind as their vi- 
tal air. M. 

• PsAL. xi. 6. PacAtm, « live coals," «9p««f, as it is rendered' by tlie 
•Id Translator, Chrts. in Loc. Globes of fiie, or meteors, such as Pliny 
calls Bolidao, Nat. Hist. ii. 26. or simply the liglitning seems to be under- 
stood. Compare PsAt. xviii. 13, 14. JosiFRrs on the DettrucUon of Sod^ 
0«, " God assailed the city with his thunderbolts ;" JnHq. i. 11. Philo on 
the same : « Lightning fell down from heaven.»» Be Vit. Mob. i. 12. This 
18 certainly more agreeable to the context than onareo. The root is Pu. 
Qch, which though it sometimes means to entnare, yet more frequently 
means to breathe forth, or emit, fire, for inst:ince. Ezek. xxi. 31 « In the 
*'fire of my -urrath 1 -mtt blow upon theeV The Ammonites are spoken of, 
ts thrown into the furnace of the divine wralli : compare ch. xxii. 21. 

I-Bet.*. «a SACKED mSTORtT. lii 

«* For it is the day of rengeance to J^Bomn ; 

^ The year of recompence to the defender of the cause of Sioo. 

^ And her torrents shall be turned into pitch, 

* And her dust into sulphur ; 

<* And her whole land shall become burning pitch : 
" By night br by day it shall not be extinguished, 
« For eVer shall her sAoke ascend : 
« From generation to generation she shsll lie desert ; 
« To everlasting ages no one shall pass through her.'** * 

The emigration of the Israelites from Egypt, as it af^ 
fords materials for many magnificent descriptions, ig 
commonly applied in a metaphorical manner to many 
events, which bear no unapt resemblance to it. Doci 
God promise to his people liberty, assistance, security^ 
ami favour ? The Exodus occurs spontaneously to the 
mind of the poet ; the dividing of the sea, the destruc* 
tion of the enemy, the desert which was safely Imvers^ 
cd, and the torrents bursting forth from the rocks, are 
so many splendid objects that force themselves on his 
imagination : 

where almost the saflie words occur, except that the corresponding (and 
m this case synonymous) verb JStapauh ia made use of, whenee Mapnach, 
a bellows : Jib. ▼!. S9. In the same sense the yerb Jhiaeh is intniduced 
PaoT. xzix 8. ^ Scomers will inJUme a oity.** So also the Sarr. Stmxa* 
nus, the Stxiac ; and rightly, aa appears ftom the si^tithetie member of 
the sentence : ** hut rrim men rriU turn away wrath." ftim this ezplicar 
tkm of the root Jhtaeh^ the word Fach, a cm/ blown «>, is rightly derived t 
ind Piatk, (BX09. ix. a) ember», in which the fire may yet be excited by 
*<The true sense of the word PocAiaiinthis place, " burning coals,** will 

* easily be confirmed from the use of the verb I*uach m the Arabic '* te 
**bMap9t f** whence JPuchai (vehement heat, or bundn^.) It cannot, 
** however, be denied, that the Orientals sometimes call the Liaanriv» 
«* enaret, or chatn». The Arabic word nVobo, (plur. boi6D) according to 
•* 6oLru8, not only signifies a cAom, but also the track 9/ a thunderbolt 
** tkreugh the cloude ; so called, I apprehend, from the continual oonusc». 
^ tions, which seem to be connectoi with each other like a chain.** H, 

Authm^e JVWr. 
M IsAX. xxxiv. 8, 9» 10# 




^ Thus «aith Jbhotah ; 

M Who made a way in the sea ; 

^ And a path in the oiighty waters : 

M Who brought forth the rider and the horse, the army and the 

" warrior ; 
^ Together they lay down, they rose no more ; 
M They were extinguished, they were quenched like tow : 
** Remember not the former things ; 
•< And the things of ancient times regard not ; 
«« Behold, I make a new thing ; 

«< Even now shall it spring forth ; will ye not regard it ? 
<< Yea, I will make in the wilderness a way ; 
^ In the desert streams of water."^ ^ 

There is also another prophecy of the same divine poet, 
which in one sense (though I think not the principal) is 
to be understood as relating to the liberation of the Is- 
raelites from the Babylonish captivity. In the exordium 
the same imagery is introduced, but in a very noble per- 
sonification, than which nothing can be more sublime : 

<( Awake, awake, clothe thyself with strength, O arm of Jehovah I 

^ Awake as in the days of old, the ancient generations. 

<« Art thou not the same, that smote Rahab, that wounded the 

<( dragon ? 
^ Art thou not the same that dried up the sea, the waters of the 

tt great deep I 
^ That made the depths of the sea a path for the redeemed to past 


Of the same kind is the last of these topics which I 
shall instance, the descent of Jehovah at the delivery 
of the law. When the Almighty is described as com- 
ing to execute judgement, to deliver the pious, and to 
destroy his enemies, or in any manner exerting his di- 
vine power upon earth, the description is embelhshed 
from that tremendous scene which was exhibited upon 

» ItAi. zliii. 16—19. See also zlWiL 21. 
ft liAi. IL 9, 10. 



Mount Sinah :" there is no imagery more frequently \ 

recurred to than this, and there is none more sublime : 

1 will only trouble you with two examples : 

« For, behold, Jsbovau will go forth from his place ; 

^ And he will come dowo, and will uead on the high place» of the 

« And the mountains shall be molten under him : 
^* And the valleys shall cleave asunder ; 
^ As wax before the fire, 
^ As waters poured down a steep place/*^^ 
M The earth shook and was alarmed, 
>< And the foundations of the hills rocked with terror, 
^ For the wrath of Jbhovah was hot against them. 
^ Before his face a smoke ascended, 
<• And a flame consumed before his presence, 
«< Burning fires were kindled by it. 
<* He bowed the heavens and came down, 
^ And clouds of darkness were beneath his feet 
<< He rode upon the pinions of the Cherubim» 
^ And flew on the wings of the wind. 
<* He concealed himself in a veil of darkness ; 
** A pavilion encompassed him 
« Of black water, and thick ctouds of ether.^ ' 
<*From the brightness before him thick clouds pass'd along, 
^ Hailstones and burning fires. 
^ Jbbovab thundere^^in the heavens ; 
<* And th^ most high Qod sent forth his voice ; 
<* He fhot out his arrows and dbpersed the enemies, 
^ And he multiplied his thunder and confounded them.*'^* 

These examples, though literally translated, and des^ 
tjitute of the harmony of verse, will I think sufficiently 
demonstrate the force, the grandeur and sublimity of 

13 See Exov. xix. 16^ 18. Dxur. iv. 11, 12. m Mic. i. 3, 4. 

u Yer. 13 and 14. They seem to be conected by the psrallel passage» 

2 Sax. xziL 13, 14. See KsinricoTT, Dissert L Of the Hebrew Text, p. 461. 
'< The words put 'hmn na, which are now repeated in Ter. 14. are wanting^ 
in four Manoscripu. K. 4uihai^9 JWle. 

» PsAL. XTiii. r— 14. 



these images, which, wl^ applied to other events, sug« 
gest ideas still greater, than when described as phin facts 
by the pen of the historian, in however magnificent 
terms : for to the greatness and sublimity of the itpages 
which are alluded to, is added the pleasure and admira- 
tion which results from the comparison between them 
and the objects which they are brought to illustrate. 

It is, however, worthy of observation, that, since 
many of these images possess such a degree of resem- 
blance as renders them equally fit for the illustration of 
the same objects, it frequently happens that several of 
them are collected togedier, in order to magnify and 
embellish some particular event : of this there is an ex« 
ample in that very thanksgiving ode of David, which 
we have just now quoted.^^ For, after describing the 
wrath and majesty of God, in imagery taken from the 
descent upon Mount Sinai, as already explained, in the 
very ne^t verse, the division of the Red sea and the 
river Jordan is alluded to : 

^ Then appeared the channels of the waters; 
" The foundations of the world were discorered ; 
«< At thy reproofs, O Jshoyah i 
** At the breathing of the spirit of thine anger /*^* 

It is evident, however, as well from the examples 
which have been adduced, as from the nature of the 
thing itself, that this species of metaphor is peculiarly 
adapted to the prophetic poetry. For some degree of 
obscurity is the necessary attendant upon prophecy; 

17 See also Isai. xxxiv. and what is remarked on that passage, Lect. XX. 

1* PsAL. xvili. 16. AUusioni to the deitruction of Niimod, the first in- 
atitutor of idolatry, and his adherents, are, in the prophets at least, as 
frequent, if not more so, than to any other of the topics here noticed.-^ 
fixsmples of this kind I have pointed out in a Dissertation on Fallen An- 
gels, published by Johnson :— «nd in another edition shall instanee many 
:piore^ 8. H. 

l4(eT.9. T^E S^^RED HISTORY. 1«5 

not th^ iii4ced^ which coofiises the dictioni and dark* 
cos the ^le ; but that which results from the necesbity 
of murwaing a part c^ the future» and from the impro- ^ ^ 
priety of making a complete revelation of every circum- 
stance c9HDected with the prediction. The event iuiclf, 
therefore^ is o&en c^earty indicated, but the manner and 
th^ circumstances are generally involved in obscurity. 
To this purpose imagery such as we have specified is 
ea^ceitently adapted, for it enables the prophet more 
^cihl^ to impress \ipon the mindaof his auditors those 
Harts qf bis subject which admit of amplification, the 
force, the splendour, the magnitude of every incident \ 
apd at the same time more completely to conceal, what 
are proper to be concealed, the order, the mode, and s,^^^ 
the minuter circumstances attending the event. It is also y 
no less apparent, that in thb respect the sacred poetry 
bears little or no analogy to that of other nations ; since ^ 
neither history nor fable afforded to the profane writers i . 
a sufficiently importanj st ore of , tbi^kiDd^oLJmagcry ; 
nor did their subjects in general require that use or ap** J 
plication of it. 

Thb species of metaphor b indeed so adapted, as I 
before observed, to the nature of prophecy, that even 
profane poetry, when of the prophetic kind, is not alto* 
gether destitute of it ; and we find that Virgil himself, 
in delivering his prophecies, has more than once adopt* 
ed thb method ; 

<« Shnois nor Xsathuft thsll be wanting there ; 

^ A new Achilles shall in arms appear ; 

« And be too godde8s«bom^-«-«- 

<< Another Tiphjrs shall new seas explore, 

<* Another Argos brave Uie Iberian shore, 

<• Another Helen other wars create, 

^ And great Achilles urge the Tit>]an iate :'*^* 

I» Damn's VirgO^ JEo. tL 134. lidog. W. 4I, 


Though some will perhaps be inclined to interpret this 
passage literally from the completion of the great year^ 
and the doctrine of the general restitution of all things.** 
There is, indeed, this difference between the sacred and 
pro&ne writers, that among the latter we find frequent 
examples of metaphors taken from some remarkable 
person and event, applied to some other event or char- 
acter ;*^ but we never find from such facts a general or 
common image derived, which, as an established mode 
of expression, is regularly applied to the illustration of 
similar objects, even to the designation of a universal 
or unlimited idea* 

I have classed all these examples under one general 
head of metaphor, though many of them might more 
properly be referred to that of Allegory : but this cir^ 
cumstance is of no importance to the object which I was 
desirous of elucidating. Many, indeed, of those which 
I have produced on this last occasion, might more prop* 
erly be referred to that sublimer kind of allegory, which 

f<^ in its principal view looks forward to a meaning mu ch 


« 90 See OaioBK cvntra Cehumt Lib. tr. p. 208. Edit Spencer. 

U AUusIoBs to ancient histoiy, both fabulous and authentic^ are com- 
nion with the poets and orators of all nations. There b a very fine one of 
this kind in the second Philippic of Cicero. When he replies to Antony's 
accusaUon of being concerned in Caesar's death, he excUums, that he glories 
in the accusation :— >" I esteem it»" says he. " as great an honour to be ac* 
" counted a partner in such an action, as if, with the princes of the Greeks, 
** I had been inclosed in the Trojan horse." But I do not recollect a mote 
beautiful instance than one of a contemporary poet : 
** Humility herself, divinely mild, 
" Sublime Relig^n's meek and modest child, 
" Like the dumb son of Croesus, in the strife, 
*' When force assail'd his father's sacred Ufe| 
" Breaks silence, and, will) filial duty warm, 
** Bids thee revere her parent's hallowed form !" 

flATLsr's Ettay wit HUtory, addressed to Mr. Gibbo:^ 

Essay iii. v. 379. T» 


more i mporta nt than that which is obvious and literal ; •^ 
and under the ostensible subject, asj nSer a rind or shell, 
conceals 'iShe interior and more sacrecl^) Of thb, how- 
ever, we shall presendy have occasfotTto speak more ex- 
plicidy ; for when we come to treat of the allegory of 
the Hebrews, it will be necessary to touch upon that 
species (however difficult and obscure the subject) in 
which the sublimity of many of the sacred poems will 
be found chiefly to consbt.** 

tt Professor Michselis nukes a very considerable addition to this Lectave» 
concemuig those images or figures which are taken from poetic fable. He 
asserts that such fable is essential to all poetry ; that whoever has a taste 
lor poetry cannot possibly take it m a literal sense» and that the sole pur- 
pose of it is ornament and pleasure. 

He obserres that there are many particulars, in which a wonderlul agree- 
ment may be discorered between the fables of the Greeks and Romans, and 
thckse of the Hebrews. He is of opinion that this agreement clearly indi- 
cates a common source, which he supposes to be Egypt From Egypt, Ho- 
mer and the other Greek poets borrowed tlie principal of their fables, as we 
may learn from Herodotus and Heliodorus : nor is it at all improbable, that 
the Hebrtws should do the same, who were for two successive ages the 
subjects and scholars of the Egyptians. The most ancient Hebrew poem. 
Job, abounds in Egyptian and fabulous imagery : as may be seen in the pro- 
lessor's dissertation on that subject before the academy of sciences. 

He begins with instancing a common fabulous notion of the sun retiring 
to rest in the sea, and there spending the night in the indulgence of the 
passions. This, he says, is so familiar an idea to the Hebrews, that it oc- 
curs even in prose. The setting |iun is called MD (to enter or come in) 
and the moon tpnai (to be received as a guest.) In the xixth Psalm, how- 
ever, the fiction is expressed in still bolder terms ; 
** For he hath set a tabernacle for the sun, 
** Who cometh forth as a bridegroom from his chamber, 
** And rejoiceth as a strong man to ran a race.** 

Nor is the description of the Atlantic very far distant fiom this idea, 
PsauK. cxxziz. 9. 

** If I take the wings of the morning, 

** And dweU in the uttermost parts of the sea ; 

^ Even thefe thy hand shall lead me, 

" And thy right hand shall hold me." 
The resemblance between this image and the fable of Aurora, who was sup- 
paeed to retire to rest to the borders of the ocean, and there enter the cham- 



ber of l*lt]iomu, can scarcely ful to str^ cfvery claaiod reader. There 
is this dJfTerence, howeyer, between the Greek and Hebrew fictions. Wltli 
the latter the " Sun runs his race," and Aurora is depicted with wings ; 
with the f>nner, who perliaps might imitate the Persian manner in the de«- 
criptioOf the Sun has a chariot and horsetf, Which do not octur in the He- 
brew poets, though they are mentioned as appendages to the idol of the 
^un (2 kiHOB zxiii. II.) 

The profesior faext obsei^es» thit tiie Greek ahd Latin poMfe assigned tft 
their Jupiter a eka/Hmt and horses of thunder, probably from the 'resem- 
blance between the noise of a chariot and that of thunder. The Hebrews, 
he remarks, have a similar fable ; and the ChenMm are expressly the hors- 
es of Jshoyah's chariot. He refers to a ^inertatimi on this subject pi^ 
lished by himself in the Gomsexir Mixoias, T. L p. 157—189. He re- 
minds his readers of the common but truly poetical expression, ** Jxbotak 
^ of IIosu,** and how frequently he is described as *< sitting upon the Cher- 
** ubim," PsALX xcix. 1. 

*' Jbbotab rngnethy let the people tremble i 
** He sitteth on the Cherubim, let the earth be moved." 
fti plain hmgnage he thonden^ k> tlwt theeirth thakei>«r is Haraee woteld 
iaTc eipretoed it : 

^ JiHOTAli per boelum tonantes, 

'* Egit eqdos, volucremque cumim : 
** Quo bruta tellus, & vaga flumina, ^ 

** Quo Styx, & invisi horrida Txnari 
'' Sedes, Atlanteusque iinia 

•* Concutitur." 
<< JxHOYAB Lord of an above, 
** Late through the floating fields of air, 
" The face of heaven, serene and fair, 

** His thundering steeds and winged chariot drove ; 
*' When at the bursting of his flames, 
** The ponderous earth, and vag^rant streams, 

*' Infernal Styx, the dire abode ' 
" Of hateful Taenarus profound, 
« And Atlas to his utmost bound, 
«* Trembled beneath the terrors of the God." 

FBAircis*s iTor. B. L v. 34. 
The expression is still bolder in Psalx Isviii. 17. and the same idea is in- 
troduced with superior elegance in the Ixvth, where God is described as 
visiting the earth, and dispensing Iktness and plenty. He rdPers also to 
PsAUi. xviiL 10. civ. 3, 4. and to Habak. liL 8. He shews that this has 
not only been a common fiction with Uie Greeks and Romans, btlt even 
with the Swedes, and other Northern nations. He remarks the admirable 
use which Milton has made of it, as well as of other poetical fictions appli- 
ed to sacred subjects. 

Lbct.9. the sacred history. 139 

Another fable, which our commentator points out as common to the He- 
brews with the Greeks and Romans, and erLdently derived from the same 
aoorce, is the fiction of a golden age. To this purpose he cites the three 
prophecies of Isaiah, in which the kingdom of the Messiah is described, in 
almost the same colours as Virgil depicts the happy state of Rome under 

He proceeds in the third place to point out the resemblance between the 
poetic descriptions of a future state, which are furnished by the Hebrew 
poets, and those of the Greeks. He is of an opmion, contrary to that of 
many learned men, who have attributed them to theCelts,that the Greeks were 
altogether indebted to Bgypt for their descriptions. He quotes Josephus, 
who, speaking of the Essenes, a people who as to country, philosophy, 
c^inions, discipline, were more Egyptian than Jewish, adds, ** that in this 
" respect they resemble the Greeks, namely, in asserting that the good 
** shall enjoy another life, in a pleasant situation beyond the ocean, free 
" from storms, tempests, and all excesses of cold or heat, and which is 
^ constantly refreshed by a delightful breeze springing from the ocean.**-^ 
** The Greeks, in the same manner," he observes, " have assigned to their 
** heroes and demigods, the happiness of Elysium.** The opinion of the 
Bramins is similar, who, the professor asserts, have borrowed all their 
manners and philosophy from the Egyptians as well as the Gauls, the 
Greeks, &c. &c. He thinks this hypothesis is clearly demonstrated by the 
analogy between these opinions and the rites or ceremonies of sepulture 
among the Egyptians. Buto, the Egyptian goddess, who presided over 
the dead, had a temple built upon some floating islands in the Butic lake. 
To this the Greeks are, by their own confession, indebted for their fable of 
Charon, he for on the day appointed for burial, the name of the deceased 
being announced, certain judges were convened at the lake, where a boat 
was ready ; the pilot of which, in the Egyptian language, was called Cha^ 
ron. Before the deceased was put on board, full liberty was given to all 
present of accusing him. But if ho accuser was present, or if his accusa- 
tion was proved groundless, the body was put into the boat, and carried across 
the lake to the sepulchral fields (Dion. Sic. L. L c.9S.) The sepulchres of 
their kings also were situated on islands formed by art, by admitting the 
water of the Nile, as Hsbodotus testifies (L. ii. c. 124.) 

Moses, therefore, being educated among them, and initiated in their 
hieroglyphic learning, to which the Grecian mythology is under so many 
obligations, seems to allude to the fable of Elysium (or the blessed isles) 
when in that beautiful poem, which constitutes the xcth Psauc, at the 10th 
verse, he thus expresses himself : 

** The strength of our years is labour and soxrow, 
*' It passeth over quickly, and we^. 

** The words we j^, if 1 am not mistaken," adds the professor, *' might 
** be rendered, ws iet §ail, since there is sometliing alike in the actions of 
" sailing and flying, and the one is frequently made use of poetically for 
« the other." 



There is another passage of Moses, which, contrarv to the opinion of all 
the commentators, M. Michaelis observes, seems to have been understood 
by St Paul alone, in the sense he speaks of, namely, the words " beyond 
" the sea," as alluding to the sepulchre, or Elysium fields. Moses is ad- 
dressing the Israelites, not as a poet, indeed, but as an orator, concerning 
•« the circumcision of the heart,** of which the common rite was only an 
emblem or a type. The law^ says he, vhick I command thee thi% dtuf ie not 
hidJenfrom thee, &c. It i» not in heaven, that thou thouldett tay, fFho thaU 
go up for U9 to heaven, and bring it down to U9 T Neither it it beto^o tbs 
SKA, that thou ohouldett oojfy HHto viUgo over the tea for ut ? &c. (Dkut. 
XXX. 11, 12, 13) St. Paul, after quoting these words, adds, FFho ohaO. 
descend into the deep ? that is, to bnng up Chriot aguin from the dead. 
The professor acknowledges that these words created him no small diffi* 
culty, before he could perceive their agreement with the original : until 
one of his auditors remarked, that *< Moses might probably allude to the 
■* custom of the Blgyptians, who buried their dead on the other side of a 
*' lake,*' &c. This sentiment, he says, struck him so forcibly, that he im* 
mediately adopted it» and in consequence of it, oiTers the following para«- 
phrase of the passage already quoted. ** The precept" (says Moses) 
** which I now inculcate" (namely, that of loving and worshipping the one 
true God, which is the real circumcision of the heart) *' is unlike some of 
** my precepts» which have a mystical meaning, not easily understood» 
** There is no need that some person of uncommon learning should come 
" down from heaven to instruct you in it : no need that some person should 
*^ cross the lake to the Itlet of the Bleooedf to learn from the dead what 
** this obscure precept conceals. All is easy and obvious," &c. 
Our annotator next refers to a passage in Job, ch. iz. 25 and 26. 
** My days are swifter than a courier, 
** They flee away, they see no pleasure : 
*' They are passed away with the swift ships» 
*' As an eagle rushing on hb prey." 
This he allows might have been said, without any allusion to the loUe of 
the Bleooedf or Elysium, though the picture is more striking if taken in 
that view ; but he thinks the allusion is clear beyond a doubt if we regard 
the answer of Zophar, ch. zL 16, 17, 18. 

•• Thou shalt forget thy misery, 
** Or remember it as waters passed away ; 
" And after the noon-tide thy age shall be happier, 
" Tliou shalt fly, (^or tail J it shall be momi g.' 
" Thou shait be secure because there is hope ; 
" Thou shJt dig fthf eepulchrej and calmly lie down." 
If any one should doubt of these examples, he thinks there is one still 
clearer in ch. xxiv. 18 — ^21. 

'* He is light upon the waters : 

" His portion in the earth is ciu'sed. 

" He shall not behold the way of the vineyards," &c. 


** That is,** u he explains it, ^ The wicked shall be carried down the rap- 
** id stream of Acheron, and shall have their portion in a land which is 
** accorsed. It shall not be permitted them to enter into the gardens of 
« the blessed."* 

The learned professor is of opinion, that even the infernal rivers were 
not unknown to the Hebrews, and that they are mentioned in the zxiiid 
Psalm under the name of tlie rivers of BeUaL He thinks it not fair to in* 
tevpret Bekial in lliis place Satau^ into whose power Bavid was not appre- 
hensive of falling, though he complains that the «narr* of deiUh fell upon 
him, ver. 4, 5, 6. It is rather, he asserts, derived from the negative particle 
heh (noa) and jagual (altus f uit) that is, not fdgk^ or estimable ; whence 
men of BeUal are the vilest of men ; and tlie rivers of Belial^ the rivers of 
hell. The following lines in this sense are truly poetical : 

** Distracted with evils, 1 called upon God ; 

" I am saved from ray enemies. 

** The snares of death were spread over my soul i 

« The floods of hell made me afraid ; 

" The waters of Tartarus encompassed me," &c. M. 

There is sonething so infeniom in the above observations, that I could 
not help «zhibiting a slight sketch of them to the reader ; but, as (^before 
iBtimated, many of them are too fanciful to challenge any serious atten- 
tkm. It IS impossible, for instsnoe, to ftid the smallest allusion in the 
passage irom Psai. czxxiz. 9, to any fable similar to that of Aurora and- 
Tlthonus.— I sm, on the contrary, inclined to believe, that nothing more is 
meant by the imng» tf the mortdnff, than an allusion to the swift and fleet- 
ing nature of time, and particularly the pleasant and jocund hours of 
morning ; and the poet only means to say, '* Had I the swiftness of time, 
** and could transport myself in a few hours to the boundaries of the ocean, 
** even there," &c. If one were even inclined to admit his hypothesis con- 
cerning the eherubitHt I see no occasion to suppose them to have any kind 
of relation to the chariot or horses of the heathen Jtjfitsb. The only po- 
etical idea, under which the great Governor of the universe can be depict- 
ed, is that of a powerful monarch ; and under this idea it is as natural for 
the Hebrew poets to assign him a chariot and other insignia of royalty, as 
for the Gre^s t and this they may do without having the slightest con- 
nexion with each other, or without any necessity of studying in the Egyp- 
tian school. The supposition that the prophecies of Isaiah, relating to 
the time of the Messiah's appearing, are borrowed from the fables con- 
cerning the Golden age, is still more improbable. The prophet, in those 
passages, is describing a state of temporal happiness ; such is the intention 
of those poets who have celebrated the Golden age; and is it any thing 
extraordinary that some similar ideas occur upon a subject perfectly simi- 
lar, and one of so general a nature ? The arguments of our annotator to 
prove that the Greeks were indebted to Egypt for their notions of a future, 
state, demonstraie much learning and ingenuity, and are, I confess, satis- 
&ctory and convincing to me : But when he endeavours to find the same 

133 POETIC IMAGERY, Sec. Lbct.9. 

notions in the Hebrew poets, the reader will, | think, ftg^ree with me, that 
he is altogether visionary, and strains violently a few general expressions 
to adapt them to his particular purpose. I must add, that his Latin trans- 
lations of those passs^s of Scripture, which I thought myself in 89010 
measure obliged to follow in delivering his sentiments, are by no means so 
faithful to the original as our common version, and yet on these depends 
the principal force of his argument. T. 

The vdngaofthe mornings I believe, stripped of their imagery, are th» 
beam» of the rieing tun. Wing» are attributed to the moon by Maniliua : 

** Ultima ad Hesperios infectis volveris alis :** 
and, if my memory fail me not, in the hymn ascribed to Homer, etc tskmm» 

Instead also of referring to those imaginary I»k» of the Ble»»ed, which 
the Professor thinks are alluded to by Moses, it seems far more probable 
that he had a retrospect to the place where the wicked after death were 
supposed to be confined ; and which, from the destruction of the old 
world by the deluge, the covering of the Asphaltic vale with the Dead Sea, 
&c. was believed to be situated wMfor the -water». To this idea there are 
allusions in the sacred writings without number. See the second com* 
mand in the Decalogue, Job zzvi. 5, 6. and many passages in the Psalms 
and the* Prophets.— The stoiy in the Gospel of the daemon entering the 
herd of swine, and urging them into the «eo, which in the Sxrruaoiirv 
version of Job zli. is styled tw TAFTAION yw A(i«v% the Tartarus ofth$ 
^u. 9. H. 



Three Ibrms of Allegory : 1. Continued Metaphor ; which it scireely 
worth distinguishing from the simple Metaphor— The freedom of the 
Hehrewa in confounding the forms of the Metaphor, AUegoiyy and 
Comparison : a more perfect form also of Allegory instanced— 3. The 
Parable ; and its principal characteristics : that it oiif^t to be formed 
from an apt and well-known image» the signification of which b obTious 
and definite ; also from one which is elegant and beautiful ; that its 
parts and adjuncts be perspicuous» and conduce to the main object t 
that it be consistent, and must not confound the literal and figurative 
meaning»— The Parables of the Prophets, and particularly of Exekiel* 
f^apiinM accordingfto this standard. 

Another branch of the Mashal^ or figurative style, 
is Allegory, that is, a figure which, under the literal 
sense cf the words, conceals a foreign or distant mean- 
ing.^ Three forms of allegory may be observed in the 
sacred poetry* The first is that which is commonly 
treated of by rhetoricians, a continuation of metaphor. 
" When several kindred metaphors succeed one anoth* * 
^* er, they alter,'' says Cicero, '^ the form of a composi- 

1 The allegoricfd seems to be one of the first modes of composition a- 
dopted by nations emerging from barbarism. Indeed it is only calculated 
to interest those who have made little progress in intellectual pursuits. ^ ^ 
It is a mere play of the fancy» and such as requires not enough of exertion / ^ 
to occupy those who have been accustomed to the exercises of reasons 
This remark, howeTer, must not be extended to the exclusion of allegor- 
ical expressipps or passages from poetry : but is meant only to be applied 
to compositions purely allegorical, such as Spisssb's Fairy Qutfen, which, 
notwithstanding some incomparably poetical passages, find» few readerf ii^ 
t|)e present age. T. 

134 ALLEGORY. Lect. 10. 

^^ tion ; for which reason a succession of this kind is 
** called by the Greeks an AUegory ; and properly, in 
•* respect to the etymology of the word ; but Aristotle, 
'* instead of considering it as a new species of figure, 
** has more judiciously comprized such modes of ex- 
** pression under xht general appellation of metaphors.'" 
I therefore scarcely esteem it worth while to dweU upon 
this species of allegory ; since hitherto I have made no 
distinction between it and the simple 'metaphor: for 
many of the examples, wtuch I produced as metaphors, 
are probably of this class: the principle of each is the 
same, nor indeed would it be an easy matter to restrict 
each to its proper limits, or to define where the one 
ends or the other be^ns. 

It will not, however, be foreign to our purpose to re- 
mark the peculiar manner, in which the Hebrew poets 
use the congenial figures, metaphor, allegory, and com- 
parison, and particularly in the prophetic poetry. When 
they undertake to express any sentiment in ornamented 
language, they not only illustrate it with an abundance 
and variety of imagery, but they seldom temper or reg- 
ulate this imagery by any fixed principle or standard. 
Unsatisfied with a simple metaphor, they frequently run 
it into an allegory, or mingle with it a direct comparison. 
The allegory sometimes precedes and sometimes fol* 
lows the simile ; to this is added a frequent change of 
imagery, and even of persons and tenses ; through the 
whole displaying a degree of boldness and freedom, un- 
confined by rule or method, altogether peculiar to the 
Hebrew poetry. 

^ Judah is a lion's whelp :*'s 
This metaphor is immediately drawn out into an allego- 
ry, with a change of person : 

* Orator, 3 Gkt. xlix. 9. 

LscT. let ALLEOORt. 135 

^ From the prej, mf «on, thou art gone vp ;" 

(to the dens in the mountains understood :) fn the suc- 
ceeding sentences the person is again changed, the im* 
age is gradually advanced, and the metaphor b joined 
with a comparison, which is repeated : 

^ He stoopeth down, he coocbeth, as a lion ; 

M And as a lioness ^ who shall rouse hioi V* 

Of a similar nature is that remarkable prophecy, in which 
the exuberant increase of the gospel on its first dissemi- 
nation is most explicitly foretold. In this passage, how* 
ever, the mixture oS the metaphor and comparison, as 
well as the ellipsis of the word to be repcfated, creates a 
degree of obscurity : 

K Beyond the womb of the morning is the dew of thy offspring to 

That is, " preferable to the dew which proceeds from 
" the womb of the morning ; more copious, more 
** abundant. '*' In the interpretation of this passage, 

4 Psalm ex. 3. 

' Some of the more modem translators seem at length agreed, that this 
is the proper sense of the; passage ; none of them, however» as far as I havo 
been able to judge» has hitherto actually explained it at length. I shall» 
therefore» take advantage of this oppckrtunity to give my sentiments upon 
H» last doubts should afterwards arise concerning the meaning of a very 
important» and (as I think) a very clear passage of holy writ. The prin- 
c^ud difficulty proceeds from the word me<4*acAain, and from the ambiguity 
•f the particle D and the ellipsis of the word tal : which» I think» will be 
wadily cleared up, if we attend to the following examples» the nature and 
neaning of which is evidently similar. Psalm iv. 8. 

** Thou hast excited joy in my heart» 

** Beyond the time m which their com and wine increased :" 
That is» « beyoad (or superior to) the joy of that time." Isai. x. 10. 

<* Although their shrines are b^ore Jerusalem and Samaria :" 
That is» ** excel the shrines of Jerusalem and Samaria." Job xxxv. % 
** My justice before God ." that is» " My justice is grater than the justice 
** «f God :" (compare xxxii. 3. and xl. 8.) In the same manner me-racham^ 
" before the womb/* is the same as me- tal racham, *' before the dew of the 
^ womb»** Nor are there wanting in the Greeks examples of similar ellips- 

131 ALLEGORY. Lbct. 10. 

whsit monstrous blunders has an ignorance of the Hebrew 
idiotn produced ! 

There is, indeed, a certain form, which this kind of 
allegory sometimes assumes, more perfect and regular, 
which therefore ought not to be overlooked, and that is» 
when it occupies the whole compass and argument of 
the composition. An excellent example of this may be 
seen in that well-known allegory of Solomon,^ in which 
old age is so admirably depicted. The inconveniences 
of increasing years, the debility of mind and body, the 
torpor of the senses, are expressed, most learnedly and 
elegantly indeed, but with some degree of obscurity, by 
different images derived from nature and common life : 
for by this enigmatical composition, Solomon, after the 
manner of the Oriental sages, meant to put to trial the 
acuteness of his readers. It has on this, account afford- 
ed much exercise to the ingenuity of the learned, many 
of whom have differently, it is true, but with much 
learning and sagacity, explained the passage. 

es : Mtit Oku/tartac «ycif» ftftltpn au^emfor ** Neither can we celebrate a con- 
** test more noble than it that of Oiympia :" fe«ff rv Okofuruaut aytmt ^Uftn 
^xlioMh FiiTD. Oxv/tT. A. ▼. 11. & SchoL Edit. Oxon. 

Ac M Keatmnx rm ^pvytn /uun m>j( t 
** As if the city of the Lacedemonians were smaller than that of the 
Phrygians." Eurip. ^ndrom, t. 193. 
The metaphor taken from the dew is expresive of fecundity, plenty» 
multitude : (compare 2 Sax. xvii. 11, 12. Mic. v. 7.) " A numerous oflT- 
'* spring shall be bom unto thee, and a numerous offspring it shall produce." 
Jaladecha, " thy youth," or ** the youth tliat are produced from thee ;'* 
«the abstract for the concrete, as Shebahf " whiteness," or being grey-head- 
ed, for a grey-headed man. Lev. xix. 32. Shelrif " captivity," for a cap- 
tive, IsAi. xlix. 24. and so the Chaldee interpreter takes the following, 
TDTVin \VTrr\b pan*, " Thy ofTsprmg shall sit (or remain) in confidence." 

Anthot^f JVbte. 
• EccLvs. xii. 2~^. Concerning this passage, consult the learned com- 
mentary of that excellent physician of the last century Dr. John Sxitbu 
See also what has been lately advanced on the same subject by the first 
physician of Uiis age. Dr. R. Mead, in his Medica S^cra. niuihgrU Mte. 

LfttT. 10. ALLEGORV. 187 

There is also in tsaiah an allegoiy, which, widi no 
less elegance of imagery, is more simple and regular, 
more just and complete in the form and colouring : I 
shall, therefore, quote the whde passage/ llie prophet 
is explaining the design and manner of the divine judge* 
ments : he is inculcating the principle, that God adopts 
different modes of acting in the chastisement of the 
wicked, but that the most perfect wisdom is conspicu- 
ous in all ; that ** he will," as he had urged before, 
*' exact judgement by the line, and righteousness by 
the plummet ;'^ that he ponders with the most minute 
attention the distinctions of times, characters, and cir- 
cumstances ; all the motives to lenity or severity* AU 
this is expressed in a continued aU^cny, the imagery 
of which is tajcen from agriculture and threshing : the 
use and suitableness of which imagery, as in a manner 
consecrated to this subject, I have formerly explained, 
so that there is no need of further detail at present. 

<« Listen ye and hear my Toice ; 

« Attend and hearken unto my words. 

« Doth the husbandman plottgh erery day that he may sow, 

• Openkigy and breaking the clods of his field I 

^ When he hath made even the face thereof ; 

M Doth he not then scatter the dill, and east abroad the cummin i 

^ And sow the wheat in due measure ; 

<* And the barley, and the rye, bath its appobted limit ? 

^ For his God rightly instructeth him ; he fumisheth him with 

^ knowledge. 
A The dill is not beaten out with the corn-drag ; 
« Nor is the wheel of the wain made to turn upon the cummin : 
» But the dill is beaten out with the suflT; 
^ And the cummin with the flail : but the bread<om* with the 

« threshing-wain. 

7 IsiU. xxTiiL 23^29. • Ibai. zxviii. 17. 

9 prr onb] I luTe amiexed these to the preceding, disregsrding the 
ICuareticdifttnict'Kms in thu I follow the LXX (though they have fktstly 

us ALLEGORY. Lbct. 10. 

« But ^ot forever vijW Ue continue thus to ; 

" Nor to vex it wiili the wheel of his wain ; 

" Nor to bruise it with the lioofs of his cattle. 

" This aUo proteedeth from Jehovah God of hosts ; 

«^ Hie showeth himself wonderful in counsel, great in operation/'!»* 

* Another kind of allegory is that, wHich, in the proper 

and restricted sense, may be called paraMe, and consists 

mistaken the sense) aiul Stmmachuh : 1 suspect 'also that the T before DH^ 
ha» tieeh obliterated » which Bixmachus expressed by the particle it, the 
YuLoATS by auiem. The translation wiU. sufficiently explain my reasons. 
LccHKM, howover, seems to be taken for com, Psal. cir. 14. and Ecclu. 
xl. 1. **Cai9t thy brcaCd,'* that'is, •' sow thy seed op com, upon the face of 
the waters :'* la plain terms, sow Without any hope of a harvest : do good 
to. them on whom you even tliink-yonr benefaction thrown away. A pre- 
cept'enforclng' g^eat and disinterested liberality, with a promise annexed 
to it ; '* for after many days tfioo Ahalt find it agnin t** at length, if not is 
the preaait world, at least in a future thou shalt have a reward. The leam« 
ed Or. Gsoa&x Jvdb, the gentleman alluded to in page 86, suggested this 
explanation, which he has elegantly Illustrated fi'Om Theognis and Phocy- 
lides, who intimate that to do atfts of kindness to the ungrateful and mu 
worthy, is the same as sowing the aea ^ 

Vain are the favours done to vicious men. 

Not vainer 'tis to sow the foaming deep ; 

The deep no pleasant harvest shall afford. 

Nor will the wicked ever make return. Tnaoa. iVo^ v. 105. 

To befiiend the wicked is like sowing in the sea. Piioora. v. I4I. 
These, indeed, invert the pfecf^pt of Solomon ; nor is it extraordinary that 
tliey should : 

The one, frail human power alone produced s 

The other, God. JIuthor'M JV0I& 

to « Four methods of threshing are here mentioned, by different instru. 
«* menls ; the flail, tlie drag, the wain, and the ti-eading of the cattle. The 
*< stafi' or flail was used for the grain that was too tender to be treated in 
" tlic otiier methods. The drag consisted of a. sort of frame of strong 
*' planks, made rough at the bottom with hard stone or iron : it was drawn 
** by horses, or oxen over the com-sheaves spread on the floor, the drivers 
'* sitting upon it. The wain was much like the former, but had wheels 
'* with iron teeth, or edges, like a saw i and it should seem that the axle 
** was armed with iron teeth or serrated wlieels tliroug^out. The drag not 
" only forced out the grain, but cut the straw in pieces for fodder for the 
•« cattle ; for in the Ejwtem countries they have no hay. The last method 
" is well known from the law of Moses, which • forbids the ox to be muz 
«• zled, when he treadeth out the com/*» Jfitft^p Lowra's lioiah, ^ote9, 
ch. xjstiit. V. 27, 28. 


' of a continued narration of a fictitious event, applied by ^^ 
way of simile to the illustration of some important truth. 
The Greeks call these allegories, outm (or apnhgues^^ 
Latins y&^fi/iT (or fables :) «and the writings of the Phry* 
gian sage, or those composed in imitation of him, Have 
acquired the greatest celebrity. <}4or has Mtr Saviour 
himself disdained to adopt the same method of instruc- 
tion, of whose parables it is d^ibtful, whether they ei^ 
eel most in wisdom and utility, or in sweetnesfe, ele- 
gance, and perspicuity. I must observe,* that thei^ppeU 
lation of parable having been applied to his discourses 
of this kind, the term is now restricted from its former 
extensive signification to a more confined scns^. This 
species of composition occurs ver}' frequently in the pro- 
phetic poetry, arid particularly in that of Ezekiel. But 
to enable us to judge with more certainty tipon the sub- 
ject, it will be necessary to explain in a few words some 
of the primary qualities of the poetic parables, that, by 
considering the general nature of them, we may decide 
more accurately on the merits of particular examples. ' 
It is the first excellence of a paret^ile to tum^upon'an 
l ^age well tno^ and applicable to the subject, the 
meaning of which is clear and definite ; for this circum^ 
stance will give it perspicuity j which is esseiitialto eye» 
ry species of allegory. If, therefore, by this rule wc 
examine the parables of the sacred prophets; w^ sfaaU,!! 
am persuaded, find them not in the least deficient. They 
are in general founded upon such imagery as is frequpnt- 
ly used, and similarly applied by way. of metaphor an<i 
comparison ip the Hebrew poetry. Most accurate ex'^ 
amples of this are to be found in the i)arable of the de-*" 
ceitful vineyard,** of the useless vine,** which isgivento 
the fire; for under this imagery the ungrateful people 

%\ l9A|, V. l-^r. n Eaii^. XV. nnd xlx. 10—14. 

140 ALLEGORY. Lact. 10« 

of God ax€ more than once described. I may instance 
also that of the lion's whelps fiilling into the pit,^ in 
which is appositely displayed the captivity of ttie Jewidi 
princes ; or that of the fiiir, lofty, and iloiurisfaing cedar 
of Lebanon,*^ which raised its head to the clouds, cot 
down at length and neglected ; exhibiting, as in a pic-r 
ture, the prosperity and the M of the king of Assyria* 
I will add one more example (there is^ indeed, scarcely 
any which «night not with propriety be introduced here) 
I mean that, in which the love of God towards his peo- 
ple, and their piety and fidelity to biro, are expressed by 
an allusioti to the solemn covenant of marriage. £ze« 
kiel has pursued this image with uncommon freedom in 
two parables ;^ in truth almost all the sacred poets have 
touched tipon it. There was, therefore, no part of the 
imagery of the Hebrew poetry more established thai^ 
this ; nor ought it to appear extraordinaiy, that Solomon» 
in that most elegant poem, the Canticles, should distin- 
guish and depict the most sacred of all subjects witl\ 
similar outlines, and in similar colours. 

It is not, however, su$cient, that the image be apt 
and familiar ; it must also be elegant and beautiful in 
itself: since it is the purpose of a poetic pamble, not 
only to explain more perfectly some propositicMi, but 
frequently to give it more animation and splendour. 
The imagery from natural objects is superior to all otb^ 

u Ezsx. ziz* 1—9. 

14 EsftK. xzxi. I take thia pMsage according to the common ezplani^ 
tien^tllBrrgardiiig that of Meibomiua, which I find is hlamed by many of 
the learned : and indeed it haa aome difficultiea, which are not easy to clear 
away. Nor can I indeed relish that ABtyrian^ who has intruded himself I 
know not how. |n the 10th for nro9 I thiiik it were better to read m^ 
with the Stbtac md Vvmatk, which neading ii adopted by the learned 
HovniVAjrT. Observe ftlso, that the LXX have very rip^htly rendered Me^ 
Orahathim by m /m«9v mf MfMMPt» ^ throu|^ the midft of the clouds." 

ylMAar^a Mte. 

19 EsEK xvi. and xziii. 

Uur. 16. ALLEOORT. Ul 

er in this resfiect ; fbr almost every fucture from nature» 
if accurately drawn, has its peculiar beauty. As th^ 
panyi>les of tiie sacred poetsi tbercforei consist chiefly of 
diis kind of imageiy, the elegance of the materials gen- 
erally serves to recommend thefn* If there be any of 
a different kind, such as may be accounted less delicate 
and refined, it ought to be considered, whether they are 
Qot to be accounted among those, the dignity and grace 
of which are lost to us, though they were perhaps want* 
ing in neither to people of the same age and countiy. 
If any reader, for instance, diould be offended with the 
boiling pot of Ezekiel,^ and die scum flowing over into 
the fire ; let him remember, that the prophet, who was 
also a priest, took the allusion from his own sacred rites : 
nor is there a possibility, that an image could be ac- 
counted mean or disgusting, which was connected with 
the holy ministration of the temple. 

It is also essential to the elegance of a parable, that 
the imagery should not only be apt and beautiful, but 
Aat all its parts and appendages should be perspicuous 
and pertinent* It is, however, by no means necessary, 
that in every parable the allusion should be com|)Iete in 
every part ; such a degree of resemblance would fre- 
quently appear too mmute and exact ; but when the na- 
ture of the subject will bear, much more when it wiH 
even require a fuller explanation ; and when the simili- 
tude runs directly, naturally, and regularly, through eve- 
ry circumstance, then it cannot be doubted that it is 
productive of the greatest beauty. Of all these exceU 
lencies, there cannot be more perfect examples than the 
parables which have been just specified. 1 will also ven- 
ture to recommend the well-known parable of Nathan,^^ 
fQthough written in prose, as well as that of Jotham,** 

U £uK. ^Kziv. d, fMk IY S Sa]i« xii, l-*4. II Jv9. is. r— 15. , 


142 ALLEGORY. Lect. !•. 

which appears to be the most ancient*eittant, and ap- 
proaches somewhat nearer the poetical ibrm.^^ 

To these remarks I will add anodier» which may be 
considered as the criterion of a parable, namely, that it 
be consistent throughout, and that the literal be never con- 
(^ founded with the figurative sense. In tthis respect it 
materially differs from the former species of allegory, 
which, deviating but gradually from the simple meta* 
phor, does not always immediately exclude literal ex» 
pressions, or words without a figure.^ But both the 

19 Poetrjr seems to me to be. often strtmgely confoanded with oratory; 
from which it is, however, very difierent These instances appear to me 
only the rudiments of popular oratory, the ancient and wtr^ned mode ^f 
epeakmgi as liiTT calls it : aad if the reader will be at the pains to exam, 
ine Liv. L. ii, q. 32» I dare believe he will be of the same opinion. Poetry, 
as our author himself has stated, is one of the first arts, and was in a much 
more perfect state, than yie should suppose from the passages in question 
long before the days of Jotham : oratory is of more recent origin, and was, 
we may well suppose, at that period in its infancy ; as Cickho remarks 
that it was one of the latest of the arts of Greece. Brut, c. 7. M. See 
^Moyt BUfrictd and Meral, p. 41. 

M 1 think there is great judgement and taste in this remark, of which 
the parable of the good Samaritan will afford a happy exemplification, in 
the mention of the man^t journeying from Jeruealem to Jericho^ a circum- 
stance that gives substance and reality to the parable. 

It may be observed, moreover, that in allegorical writing the literal sense 
may be sometimes suffered to obtrude itself upon the figurative with very 
good effect, just as the gold that betrays itself in glimpses from the plum, 
age of the peacock, the scales of the dolj^iin, or (to illustritte my idea 
from Spenser) the texture of the loom, augments thereby the splendour of 
their colours. 

■ ** round about the walls y clothed were 
** With goodly anas of great maiesty, 
" Woven with gold and silk so close and nere 
*• That the rich metall lurked privily, 
** As fining to be bidd from envious eyt ; 
*< Yet here, and there, and every where unawares 

" It shewed itselfe, and shone unwillingly ; 
*' Like a discoloured snake, whose hidden snaivs 
■' Through the green grass his long bright bumisht back declares.** 

Faery Queened B. 3. c. xi. s. 28. 
A fine poetical allegory of this kind may be seen in the first strophe c^f 
Gray's Ode on Poesy, 8. U. 

Lbct. \% ALLEOORr. US 

fact itself» arid this distinction» will more evidently ap^ 
pear from ati example of each kind. 

The psalmist» (virboever he was) describing the peo- 
ple of Israel as a vine»*^ has continued the metaphor» and 
happily drawn it out through a variety of additional cir- 
cumstances. Among the many beauties of this allego- 
17, not the least graceful is that modesty» with which he 
enters upon and concludes his subject» making an easy 
and gradual transition from plain to figurative language» 
9Dd no less delicately receding back to the plain and 
unornamented narrative. 

^ Tboa hast brought a vine out of Egypt ; 

^ Thou hast cast out the nations and planted it» 

« Thou preparedst room before it* * * 

After this follow some figurative expressions, less cau- 
dously introduced : in which when he has indulged for 
some time» how elegantly does he revert to his proper 
subject ! 

« Return, O God of Hosts I 

^ Look down from heaven» and behold» 

** And viteit this vine : 

^ And the branch which thy right hand hath planted ; 

^ And the offspring^ which thou madest strong for thyself. 

" It is burned in the fire, it is cut away ; 

* By the rebuke of thy countenance they perish. 

^ Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand ;» 

** Upon the son of man» whom thou madest strong for thyself/' 

tl PBA&. Ixxx. 9^18. 

» <« If I am not mistaken, all the (dd trtnaUtorsy tiie Chaldee excepted, 
** s€«m to have read in this place Ben Jtikun^ ** the son of man»" as in ver. 
^ 18. Dr. KjunrxcoTT affirms also that he found this same reading in one 
" manuscript. H. JhUhm*9 A*o«p. 

^ That is, the man «Ao i% Joined u th99 6y a wlemn ewenant. The Orieafals 
all swear by lifting up the right hqmd. Hence also among the Arabs jasiin 
is to swear. M. 

144 AIXB061tt. Lbct. la 

You mdy easily perceive, gentletnefi, how, in thb 
first kind of allegory, the literal may be miiig^ed with 
the figurative sense ; and even how graceful this prac- 
tice appears, since light is more agreeably thrown upon 
/^the subject in an oblique manner, without too bare and 
v^s^ direct an explication. But it is diSbrenti when the same 
image puts on the form of the other sort of allegory, or 
parable, as in Isaiah.** Here is no room for literal, or 

<even ambiguous expressions t every word is figurative | 
the whole mass of colouring is taken from the sam^ 
pallet. Thus what, in the former quotation, is en^ 
pressed in undisguised language, namely, '^ the casting 
** out of the nations, the preparation of the place, and 
** its destruction from the rebuke of the Lord," is by 
Isaiah expressed wholly io a figurative manner :— ** The 
^ Lord gathered out the stones from his vineyard, and 
^ desred it : but when it deceived him, he tlurewdown 
" its hedge, and made it waste, and commanded the 
<< clouds that they should rain no rain upon it" Ex- 
pressions, which in the one case possess a peculiar 
grace, would be absurd and incongruous in the odier. 
For the continued metaphor and the parable have a very 
different aim. The sole intention of the former is to 
embellish a subject, to represent it more magnificentfy^, 
or at the most to illustrate it ; that, by d^cribing it in 
more elevated language, it may strike the mind more 
forcibly : but the intent of the latter is to withdraw the 
// truth for a moment from our sight, in order to conceal 
\\ whatever it may contain ungraceful or disgusting, and 
to enable it secretly to insinuate itself, and obtain m\ as- 
cendancy as it were by stealth. There is, however, a 
species of parable, the intent of which is only to illus- 
trate the subject, such is that remarkable one of £ze- 

M Chap. V. 1— r 

LscT. 10. ALLEGORY. \4fi 

kiel,^ which I just now commended, of the cedar of 
Lebanon : than which, if we consider the imagery it- 
self, none was ever more apt or more beautiful ; if the 
description and colouring, none was ever more elegant 
or splendid ; in which, however, the poet has occasion- 
ally allowed himself to blend the figurative with the lit- 
eral description :^ whether he has done this because the 
peculiar nature of this kind of parable required it, or 
whether his own fervid imagination alone, which dis- 
dained the stricter rules of composition, was his guide, 
I can scarcely presume to determine. 

■» Chap. xxxf. r J» Sec ▼. 11, 14-ir. 




The defwhion of the Mystical Allegory— Founded upon the allegorical or 
typieal nature of the Jewiih religion— The distinction between this and 
the two former species of aXlegory ; in the nature of the materials : it 
being allowable in the former to make use of imagery from indifferesft 
objects ; in thk, only sueh as is derived from things sacred, or their ep- 
posites ; in the former» the exterior imsge has no foundMion in truth ; 
in the latter» both images are equally tru»— The difference in the fom 
or manner of treating them — ^The most beautiful form is when the cor- 
responding images run paraUel through the whole poem», and matoally 
illustrate each other— Examples of this in the second and seventy-second 
Psalms — The parabolic style admirably adapted to this species of allegory ; 
the nature of which renders it the language most proper for prophecy--» 
Extremely dark in itself, but it is gradually cleared up by the series of 
evenu foretold, and more complete revelation ; time also^ which in the 
general obscures, contnbutes to its full explanation. 

X H E third species of allegory, which also prerails mudb 
in the prophetic poetiy» is when a double meaning is 
couched under the same words ; or when the same pro- 
duction, according as it is differently interpreted, re* 
lates to different events, dbtant in time, and dbtinct in 
their nature. These different relations are termed the 
literal and the mystical senses ; and these constitute one 
of the most difficult and important topics of Theology. 
The subject is, however, connected also with the sacred 
poetry, and is therefore deserving of a place in these 

In tlie sacred rites of the Hebrews, things, places, 
times, offices, and such like, sustain as it were a double 

Lbot. 11. ALLEGORY. 147 

character, the one proper or literal, the other allegorical ; 
and in their writings these subjects are sometimes treated 
of in such a manner, as to relate either to the one sense 
or the other singly, or to both united. For instance, a 
composition may treat of David, of Solomon, of Jerusa- 
lem, so as to be understood to relate simply either to 
the city itself and its monarchs, or else to those objects, 
which, in the sacred allegory of the Jewish religicm, are 
denoted by that city and by those monarchs : or the mine) 
of the author may embrace both objects at once, so that 
the very words which express the one in the plain, prop^ 
er, historical, and commonly received sense, may typi/jr 
the other in the sacred, interior, and prophetic sense. 

From these principles of the Jewish relig^, this kind 
of allegory, which I am inclined to call mystical, seems 
more especially to derive its ori^ s and from these wt 
must endeavour at an explanation of it. But its natlire 
and peculiar properties will probably be more easily de* 
monstrable, if we previously define, in what respects it 
b different from the two former species of allegory. 

The first remarkable diflference is, that in allegories of 
the kind already noticed, the writer is at liberty to make 
use of whatever imagery b most agreeable to his fancy 
or inclination : there is nothing in universal nature, notiv 
ing which the mind perceives, either by sense or reflbc* 
tion, which may not be adapted in the form of a con- 
tinued metaphor, or even of a parable, to the illustration 
of some other subject. Thb latter kind of allegory, on 
the contrary, can only be supplied with proper materials 
from the sacred rites of the Hebrews themselves ; nor 
can it be introduced, except in relation to such things as 
are directly connected with the Jewish religion, or their 
immediate opposites. For to Israel, Sion, Jerusalem, 
in the allegorical as well as the literal sensci are opposed 


ua THE MYSTICAL L«ct. 1 1. 

Assyria, Babylon» Egypt» Idumea; and the same oppo^ 

sition exists in other subjects of a similar nature. The 

two former kinds of allegory are of the same general nat 

ture with the other figures, and partake of the common 

privileges of poetry ; this latter» or mystical allegory, has 

its foundation in the nature of the Jewish economy, and 

is adapted solely to the poetry of the Hebrews.^ Hence 

that truly Divine Spirit, which has not disdained to em« 

ploy poetry as the interpreter of its sacred will, has also 

in a manner appropriated to its own use this kind of aller 

goiy, as peculuu-ly adapted to the publication of future 

events, and to the typifying o! the most sacred myste* 

ries : so that should it, on any occasion, be applied to 

a pro&ne and common subject ; being diverted from its 

proper end, and forced as it were ttofn its natural bias» 

k would inevitably want all its power and elegance, 

. i There is likewise this further distinction, that in those 

other forms of allegory, the exterior or ostensible im* 

agery is fiction only ; the truth lies altogether in the in- 

/ terior or remote sense, which is veiled as it were under 

this thin and pellucid covering. But in the allegory, of 

which we are now treating, each idea is equally agreea- 

ble to truth. The exterior or ostensible image is not a 

shadowy cok>uring.of the interior, sen^e, but is in itself 

a reality ; and although it sustain another character, it 

1 I admire thp pf rspicaoity of our Author in dbooveting this circum- 
stance, and his candour in so freely disclosing his opinion. I am^ however, 
much inclined to suspect those qualities which are supposed to be alto- 
gether peculiar to the saered poetry of the Hebrews : and there is» I con- 
fess, need of uxicommon force of argument to convince me» that the sacred 
writings are to be interpreted by rules in every respect different from those» 
by which other writings and other languages are interpreted ; but in truth 
this hypothesis of a double sense being applicable to the same words» is so 
far from resting on any solid ground of argument, that I find it is altogeth- 
er founded on tlie practice of commentators» and their vague and tralat]- 
tious opinions. M. 

LxcT. II. AIXEGORT. 149 

does not wholly lay aside its own. For instance, in the 
metaphor or parable, the lion, the eagle, the cedar, con- 
sidered with respect to their identical existence, are al- 
togeUier destitute of reality ; but what we read of David, 
Solomon, or Jerusalem, in tins sublimer kind of allegory, 
may be either accepted in a literal sense, or may be 
mystically interpreted according to the religion of the 
Hebrews, and in each view, whether considered con- 
juncdy or apart, will be found equally agreeable to truth. 
Thus &r this kind of allegory differs from the former 
in the materials, or in the nature of the imagery which 
it employs ; but there i& some difference also in the form 
or mamier of introducing this imagery. I had occasion 
before to remark the liberty, which is allowed in the con- 
dnued metaphor, of mingling the literal with the figura* 
tive meaning, that is, the obvious with the remote idea ; 
which is a liberty altogether inconsistent with the nature 
of a parable. But to establish any certain^ rules with re- 
gard to this point in the conduct of the mystical allegory, 
would be a difficult and hazardous undertaking. For 
the Holy Spirit has evidently chosen different modes of 
revealing his sacred counsels, according to the circum- 
stances of persons and times, inciting and directing at 
pleasiure the minds of his prophets :' at one time dis- 
playing with an unbounded liberality the clear indica- 
tions of future events ; at another imparting some ob- 
scure intimations with a sparing hand. Thus there is a 
vast variety in the use and coiKluct of the mystical alle- 
gory ; in the modes in which the corresponding images 
are arranged, and in which they are obscured or eclipsed 
by one another. Sometimes the obvious or literal sense 

3 And yet those metupbors and parables» the laws and principles of which 
oYir author has so correctly defined, proceed from the same Holy Spirit, and 
our author does npt deny his being confined by these laws. M. 


150 THE MYSTICAL Lbct. 11. 

18 SO prominent and conspicuous, both in the words and 
sentiments, that the remote or figurative sense is scarcely 
permitted to glimmer tlirough it/ On the other hand, 
and that more frequently, the figurative sense is found 
to beam forth with so much perspicuity and lustre, that 
the literal sense is quite cast into a shade, or becomes 
indiscernible. Sometimes the principal or figurative 
idea is exhibited to the attentive eye with a constant and 
equal light ; and sometimes it unexpectedly glares upoa 
us, and breaks forth with sudden and astonishing cor* 
ruscations, like a flash of lightning bursting from the 
clouds. But the mode or form of thb figure, which 
possesses the most beauty and elegance (and that ele« 
gance is the principal object of this disquisition) is, when 
the two images equally conspicuous run, as it were, 
parallel through the whde poem, mutually illustrating 
and correspondent to each other. Though the subject 
be obscure, I do not fear being able to produce one or 
two undoubted instances of this peculiar excellence, 
which, if I am not mistaken, will sufficiendy explain 
what I have advanced concerning the nature of the mys- 
tical allegory. 

The subject of the second Psalm is the establishment 
of David upon the throne, agreeably to the Almighty 
decree, notwithstanding the fruiUess opposition of his 
enemies. The character which David sustains in this 

3 When thif happens to be the case, how are we to know, that the other 
subject or lentunent, which oor author describes aa almost totallj eclipsed 
or extinguished by the superior lig^ht, is iatended by the writer ? If» aa I 
am fully persuaded, a clear and exact picture of the Messiah be exhibited 
in PsALx ex. what occasion b there to apply it also to David, who nerer 
performed the priestly function» nor ever sat at the right hand of God, that 
is, in the Holy of Holies» at the right of the Ark of the covenant ? On the 
contrary, if in Psalm xviii. the description of David's victories be so pre*> 
dominant» as that it can scarcely be made to speak any other sentiment, 
what occasion is tliere to apply it at all to the Messiah ? M. 

Law. IK ALLEGORY. 151 

poem is twofold, literal and allegorical. If on the first 
reading of the Psalm we cooaider the character of David 
in the literal sense, the composition appears sufficientlj 
perspicuous, and abundantly illustrated by facts from the 
sacred history. Through the whole, uideed, there is an 
unusual fervour of language, a brilliancy of metaphor ; 
and sometimes the Action is uncommonly elevated, as 
if to intimate, that something of a more sublime and imi* 
portant nature lay concealed within ; and as if the poet 
had some intention of admitting us to the secret recesses 
of hb subject. If, in consequence of this indicatidn^ 
we turn our minds to contemplate the internal sense» 
and apply the same passages to the allegorioal David, a 
nobler series of events b presented to us, and a meaning 
not only more sublime, but even more perspicuous, 
rises to the view. Should any thing at first appear bold- 
er and more elevated than the obvious sense would bear, 
it will now at once appear clear, expressive, and admi- 
rably adapted to the dignity of the principal subject 
If, after having considered attentively the subjects apart, 
we examine them at length in a united view, the beauty 
and sublimity of this most elegant poem will be improv- 
ed/ We may then perceive the vast disparity of the 
two images, and y^ the continual harmony and agree- 
ment that subsists between them, the amazing resen|« 
blance, as between near relations, in every feature and 
fineament, and the accurate analogy which is presa*ved9 

« If, u we learn from the authority of the Apostle Paul, thi» FmIxh ftf • 
Utes chieSy to Christ, his resurrtction and kingdom ; why should we at all 
apply it to David ? I do not deny that the victories of David, as well as of 
ether kings of Jehisalem, to whom no person has thought of applying the 
poem in question, might be celebrated in language equally bold and pow- 
erAil : bat let us lemember, that we have no right to say a work has re* 
lation to trery person of whom somethhig similar might be said, but t^ 
that person alone, who b the actual subject of it If Christ, therefore, he 
the subject of this pocn, let us set aside David altogether. M« 


159 THE MYSTICAL Lect. H. 

SO that either may pass for the origimd, whence the oth- 
er was copied. New light is reflected upon the diction, 
and a degree of dignity and importance is added to thb 
sentiments, whilst ihey gradusdly rise from humble to 
more elevated objects, from human to divine, till at 
length the great subject of the poem is placed in the 
most conspicuous light, and the composition attains the 
highest point of subltmtty. 

What htffi been remarked concerning this Psalm, may 
be applied with propriety to the seventy-second, which 
exactly resembles it both in matter and form. It might 
not improperly be entitled the inauguration (yf Solomon. 
The nature of the allegory is the same with the former ; 
the style is something diflferent, on account of the dis- 
parity of the subject. In the one the pomp and splen- 
dour of victory is displayed ; in the other the placid 
image of peace and felicity. The style of the latter is, 
therefore, more calm and temperate, more ornamented^ 
more figurative ; not abounding in the same boldness 
of personification as the former, but rather touched with 
the gay and cheerful colouring of nature, in its most 
flourishing and delightful state. From this example 
some light will be thrown upon the nature of the para- 
bolic style ; in particular it will appear admirably adapt- 
ed to this kind of allegory, on account of its abounding 
so much in this species of imagery. For as the image- 
ry of nature is equally calculated to express the ideas of 
divine and spiritual, or of human things, a certain anal- 
ogy being preserved in each ; so it easily admits that 
degree of ambiguity, which appears essential to this 
figure. By these means the composition is at the same 
time diversified and perspicuous, applicable to both 
senses, and obscure in neither ; and completely com- 
prehending both parts of the allegory, may clearly and 
distinctly be referred to either. 

LacT. 11. ALLEOORT. 153 

Still, however, a degree of obscurity must occasion- 
aUj aCteod tUs style of compositioa ; and this obscurity 
not only results from the nature of the figure, but is 
even not without its peculiar utility. For the mystical 
aUegory is on this very account so agreeable to the na« 
tare of prophecy, that it is the form which the latter 
generally, and I might add lawfully, assumes, as most 
fitted for the prediction of future events. It describes 
events in a manner exactly conformable to the intentioa 
of prophecy ; that is, in a dark, disguised, and intricate J 
manner ; sketching out in a general way their form and 
outline ; and seldom descending to minuteness of de* 
soription, and exactness of detail. If on some occasions 
it expressly signifies any notable circumstance, it seems 
to be for two principal reasons :* First, that, as general- 
ly happens, by suddenly withdrawing from our view the 
literal meaning, the attention may be excited to the in» 
vestigation of the figurative sense ; and secondly, that 
certain express marks, or distinguishing features, may 
occasionally shew themselves, which, after the accom- 
plishment of the prediction, may be sufficient to remove 
every doubt, and to assert and confirm, in all points, 
the truth and divinity of the prophecy.^ 

The prophetic, indeed, differs in one respect from 
every other species of the sacred poetry : when ^rst , ^ 
divulged it is impenetrably obscure ;^ and time, which 

• PtAii. zxii. ir, 18, 19. and Ixiz. 22. 

< If there be any one prophecy in the Bible comprbing^ a double aens^ 
surely it is that in Isaiah, ch. vii. 15, 8cc. but notwithstanding^ the pre^ 
tended clue to its twofold import, which some have flattered themselves 
with discovering in the separate addresses of the prophet /o the Kixs, and 
t9 the Bovsa or Davu»— how little room there is for so fanciful an hy- 
pothesis, those may see who will refer to Mr. Postlvthwaiti's elegant 
discourse on the subject. [Cambridge, 1781.] S. H. 

f What our author has advanced concerning the language of prophecy, 
is not quite so satisfiictory as I could haT« wished ; for though the accora« 



darkens every other composition, elucidates this. That 
obscurity, therefore, in which at first this part of the 
sacred writings was involved, is now in a great measure 
removed ; there are now many things which the course 
of events (the most certain interpreter of prophecy) had 
completely kid open ; from n^ny the Holy Spirit has 
itself condescended to remove the veil, with which they 
were at first concealed ; many sacred institutions there 
are, the reason and intent of which are more clearly 
understood, since the design of the Jewish dispensation 
has been more perfectly revealed. Thus it happens, 
that, instructed and supported by these aids, of which 
the ancient Hebrews were destitute, and which in truth 
appear not to have been conceded to the prophets them- 
selves, we come better accomplished for the knowledge 
and comprehension of that part of the sacred poetry» 
which is the most singular in its nature, and by far the 
most difficult of explanation» 

plishroent of an event predicted be the only certain key to the precise i^ 
plication of e^ery term which the prediction contained, yet if there be not 
■omething in the words of the prophecy, which at the time of its ddii^eiy 
may serve to mark its general import, how shall those, to whom it is ad- 
dressed, apply the prediction to its proper object and purpose ? Our author 
traces in the prophetic language an assumption of imagery from the chaos, 
creation, deluge, &c. surely then, if the application of figures from these 
topics were apposite and obvious, they most have conveyed the general 
purport of the prediction which contained them ; and instead of being de- 
signed to obscure its real meaning, were doubtless employed for the con« 
trary purpose. To me the reason of the thing is so clear, and our Saviour's 
practice of referring to former events with this very intent so certain, (see 
Mitt. zxiv. 15, 37, &c.) that I cannot but consider it as the most promi- 
Bffit charactoristic of the prophetic language. S. H. 



Coinpariaoiw axe introduced for three purposes ; illustration^ amplification» 
and variety — For the first an image is requisite, apt, well-known, ai^A 
perspicuous ; it is of little consequence whether It be sublime or beauti- 
ful, or neither : hence comparisons irdm objects which are in themselves 
mean and humble may be sometimes useful — For the purpose of ampllfi- 
cation an image is requisite which is sublime, or beautiful, even thougfh 
it should be less apt and perspicuous : and on this plea a degree of o^ 
«curity, or a remoteness in the resemblance, may sometimes be excuse^ 
—When variety is the object, splendid, beautiful, and elegant imagery 
must be sought for ; and which has an apt agreement with the oliject of 
the comparison in She Aifeumstances or adjuncts, thouf^ the objects 
themselves may be different in kind — The most perfect comparison is 
that, in which all these excellencies are united— -The peculiar form of 
comparisons in the Hebvew poetry ; it results from the nature of the 
sententious style— They are short, frequent, simple, depending- often on 
a single attribute— Different images displayed in the parallel sentences ; 
many comparisons are arranged in this manner to illustrate tlie same 
aubject ; or difiSnrent attributes of the same comparison are often dis- 
tributed in the different divisions or parallelisms. 

JLn the following lecture I shall endeavour to treat of 
the comparison, which I have classed the third in order 
of the poetical figures, with a view of illustrating in some 
degree both its general properties, and its peculiar appli- 
cation and force in the poetic compositions of the He- 

Comparisons serve three distinct purposes, namely, 
illustration, amplification, and pleasure or variety/ 

1 If I am not mutaken, among those writers who enter into the minute- 
ness of criticism, a distinction is observed in tlie use of the words compar- 
ison^ wmUe^ and attimon, Compariton seems' to be not only the general 
term, which includes the whole class, but is more immediately appropriat- 
tdto% certain species ; I mean the most perfect of them» wheie Uie re- 


156 SIMILE, OR LxcT. 13« 

In the first place, comparisons are introduced to illus- 
trate a subject, and to place it in a clearer and more con- 
spicuous point of view. This is most successfully ef- 
fected, when the object which fuVniskes the simile is fa- 
miliar and perspicuous, and when it exactly agrees with 
that to which it is compared. In this species of compari- 
son elevation or beauty, sublimity orsplendour, are of little 
consequence ; stijct^ropriety, and a direct resemblance» 
•calculated exactly for the explanation of the subject, is n 
sufficient commendation. Thus Homer very accurately 
depicts the numbers of the Grecian army, their ardour 
and eagerness for battle, by a comparison taken from 
flies collected about a milk-pail ;' and Virgil compares 
the diligence of the Tyrians in building their city, and 
the variety of their occupations, with the labows of the 

semhlance is minutely traced through all the agreeing parts of the objects 
^assimilated. — ** Censure," says Dr. Ogdeo, in oms of his excellent sermonsy 
" is so seldom in season, that it may not unaptly be compared to that bit- 
** ter plant, which comes to maturity but in the age of a man» and is said 
•* to Wo«som but ohce in a hundred years." 

Simih seems to be a term chiefly appropriated to poetiy» and oftea im« 
plies a slighter and more fanciful resemblance than the former word. 

A species of comparison not extending to a HndUt is called an aliunon ; 
it chiefly consists in comparing one fact with another. The most faaciM 
and poetical, is, when two facts, bearing a remote resemblance in a feiy 
chf cum stances, are companed, a beautiful example of which may be found 
in one of Dr. Ogden's sermons. — <* If it be the obscure, the minute, the cer- 
" emonial parts of religion for which we are contending, though the tri- 
« umph be empty, tlie dispute is dangerous ; like the men of Ai 3ve pur- 
« sue, perhaps, some little party that flies before us, and are anxious that 
<* not a straggler should escape, but when we look behind us we behold 
" our city in flkmes." T. 

> " thick as msects play, 

« The wandering nation of a summer's day, 

" Tliat drawn by milky steams at evening hours, 
> *< In gathered «warms siuround the rural bowers $ 

'* From pail to pail with busy murmur run 

*' The gilded legions glittering in the sun," 

Pope's Horn, JL iL 552. 
Mr. Pope has considerably elevated this passage by the splendour of his iini 

Lbct. Id. COMPARISON. 157 

bees ;' without in the least degrading the dignity pf the 
epic Muse. 

I might produce many examples to the purpose from 
the sacred poetry, but shall content myself with two or 
three, than which, both as to matter and expres^on^ 
nothing can be meaner or more vulgar, nothing, how- 
ever, can be conceived more forcible or expressive. 
Isaiah introduces the king of Assyria insolently boasting 
of his victories : 

«< And my band h»th found, as a Best* tbm rkheaof the peoples : 

M And as one gsfUiereth «^ga deaerteds 

« So have I made a general gatfaeiing of the eanth i 

<< And there was no one that moved the wing ; 

« That opened the beak, or that chirped."* 

And Nahum on a similar subject : 

^ All thy strong-holds shaSI te like fig-trees with the first ripe 

^ If they be shaken» they fall into the mouth of the eater."' 

There is also another comparison of Isaiah taken from 
domestic life, very obvious and very common; but 
which for the gracefulness of die imagery, the elegance 
of the arrangement, and the forcible expression of the 
tenderest affections, has never been exceeded : 

agery and diction ; <' the wandering nation" and ** the gilded legions,*' each 
of these expressions raise the image very considerably (though I do not al- 
together approve of this heaping figuve upon iigure» or rather in this in- 
stance reverting in the way of metaphor to the first object of the oompari- 
son, for « gilded legions" are here actually coo^pared with " gilded le- 
** gions."} — The rural scenery also, and the pleaaant time of evening, give 
elegance to an idea very coarse and disgusting in itself. T. 

3 •£». i. 432. See the use to which Miltaji has applied the same di. 
munutive insect, ParadUe Zott^ B. L r68, and the address with which the 
simile is introduced by the expressions thtck-trafam^df ^e. in the lines im« 
mediately preceding^^No writer was ever so great a master of Amplifica- 
tion as MiLTOH. For proofs of this assertion, in addition to the oompari- 
son just referred to, see B. i. v. 196— 2t5, &c. B. ii. v. 285, 4S5, and other 
passages without number. S. H. 

4 IsAi. X. 14w « Nam, in, 12. 

1S8 SIMILE, OR Lect. 13. 

M But Sion Baith : Jshotah hath foreaken me ; 

« And my Lord hath forgotten me. 

<* Can a woman forget her sucking infant $ 

« That Bhe should have no tenderness for the son of her womb ? 

^ Even these, may forget ; 

«< But I will not forget thee."* 

* IfAi. zliz. 14, 15. This sentiment is most besutifully paraphrssed by 
an elegant poetess of our own times ; the excellence of whose poetry is her 
least commendation. I cannot resist the temptation of transcribing a &w 
lineSf which appear to me at once forcible» interesting» and sublime: 

Heaven speaks ! Oh Nature listen and rejoice 1 

Oh spread from pole to pole thia gracious voice ! 

<' Say tYtry bieast of human frame» that proves 

'* The boundless force with which a parent loves ; 

*' Say» can a mother from her yearning heart 

** Bid the soft image of her child depart ? 

*< She ! whom atrong instinct arms with strength to bea» 

^ All ibrms of ill, to shield that dearest care ; 

*f She ! who with anguish stung» with madnses wild» 

«« Will rush on death to save her threatened child ; 

V All selflish feelings banish'd from her breast, 

** Her life one aim to make another^s blest. 

** Will she» for all ambition can attain» 

*' The charms of pleasure, or the lures of gain, 

'* Betray strong Kature^s feelings, will she prove 

** Cold to the claims of duty and of love f 

*« But should the mother, from her yearning heart 

** Bid the soft image of her child depart ; 

^ Should she unpitying hear his melting sigh, 

** And view unmov*d the tear that fills his eye ; 

" Tet never will the God, whose word gave birth 

** To yon illumed orbs, and this fair earth ; 

** Who throu^ the boundless depths of trackless space 

** Bade new.wak*d beauty spread each perfect grace ; 

*' Tet, when be formed the vast stupendous whole» 

" Shed his best bounties on the human soul ; 

** Which reason's light illumes, which friendship warmi» 

" Which pity softens» and which virtue charms, 

** Which feels the pure affections* generous glow, 

** Shares others' joy» and bleeds for others' woe — 

•* Oh ! never will the general Father prove 

'* Of man forgetful, roan the child of love !" 

When all those planets in their ample spheres 

Have winged their course, and roU'd their destin'd years i 

Lbct. Ifi. COMPARISON. 159 

There is another species of comparison, the principal 
intent of which is the amplification of the subject ; and 
this is evidently oi a different nature from the former : 
for, in the first place, it is necessary, that the image 
which is introduced for the purpose of amplifying or 

When the vast Sun shaU veil his golden light 

Deep in the glcom of ererlasting night ; 

When vnldy destructiye flames shall wrap the skies» 
, When Chao* triumphs, and when Nature dies } 

God shall himself his faYour'd creature guide 

Where living waters pour their blissful tide. 

Where the enlarged, exulting» wondermg mind 

Shall soar, from weakness and from guilt refin'd s 

Where perfect knowledge» bright with cloudless rayi» 

Shall gild Eternity's unmeasured days ; 

Where Friendship, unembitter'd by <£stru8t» 

Shall in immortal bands unite the just ; 

Devotion rais'd to rapture breathe her strain» 

And Love in his eternal triumph reign ! 

•Afitt WiuiAXs's Poenut Vol. L p. 107. T. 
Analogical positions serve for the most part as illustrations,' rather than 
proofs ; but no demonstration of reason alone» can so closely take hold on 
the heart, as the images contained in this expostulation. For a mother to 
firgtt her sucuho infant^ and feel no TximKirBss for the Mfi of her wokb, 
is to be more mnriTUBAL than even a anvra ; but impossible as it may 
aeem that ohx such motfier should exist, yet, were the established order of 
nature to be so far oubverud^ as that xvBmv mother should become tk^a 
sMuirot», still the Universal Parent will never forget his offspring. 

Pliny has mentioned a picture by Ariatides of" a town taken by stonb, 
** in which was seen an infant creeping to the breast of its mother, who, 
** though expiring firom her wounds, yet expresses an apprehension and 
** fear Icat, the course of her milk being stopt, the child should suck hc^ 
^ blood."— This picture, it is probable, g^ve occasion to the following 
epigram of JEmilianus, which Mr. Webb (see hia Beauties of Paintiqg, 
page 161) has thus finely translated : 

^ifiUfa uau uv «tfii waJtw/an tfuihvm Antholo^, Lib/ 3 

Suck, little wretch, while yet thy mother lives. 
Buck the last drop her hunting bosom gives. 
She dies ; her tenderness outlasts her breath» 
And her fond soul it provident in death* S. H. 

100 SIMILE, OR Lbcv. 12* 

ennobfing a subject be sublime, beautiful, magnifeent, 
or splendid, and therefore not trite or common ; nor is 
it by any means necessary that the resemblance be exaelr 
in every circumstance. Thus Vii^ has the address to 
imparl even to the labours of his bees a wonderful air of 
sublimity, by a comparison with the exertions of the 
Cyclops in fabricating the thunderbolts of Jupiter -J thus 
he admirably depicts the grace, the dignity and strength 
of his -flineas, by comparing him with Apollo on the top 
of Cynthus renewing the sacred chorus ;* or with the 
mountains Athos, Eryx, and Appenine.' Thus also 
Homer,"* in which he is imitated by Virgil,** compares 
two heroes rushing to battle with Mars and his oflfspring 
Terror advancing from Thrace to the Phlegyans and 
Ephyrians. But if it should be objected, that as com- 
parisons of the former kind are wanting in dignity, so 
these (in which familiar objects are compared with ob- 
jects but little known, or with objects which have little 

y agreement or resemblance to them) are more likely to 
//obscure than to illustrate; let it be remembered, that 

^ - each species of comparison has in view a different end. 
The aim of the poet in the one case is perspicuity, to 
enable the mind clearly to perceive the subject, and to 
comprehend the whole of it at one view ; in the other 
the object is sublimity, or to impress the reader with 
<s^ the idea that the magnitude of the subject is sc^rcely-to 

\ be.concciyxd.^* When considered in tliis light, it will 

7 Georo. iv. 170. • IE.K. iv. 143. 

• JEif. xii. 701. Whoever desires to see this accurately and scientifical- 
ly explained, may consult an excellent* work lately pubHshed by the learned 
Mr. Spewck, entitled PolymetiB, p. ^7 and 248. Juthor't *Vb/ft 

10 lu xiii. 298. " iEir. xii. SSI 

13 A simile may, however, be taken from an object really inferior, and 
yet may serve to elevate the subject ; but then the object of the Hgtuie must 
possess some of those qualities, which, if they do not heighten our respect, 
will enlarge or vivify the idea. Thus a field of com on Bre ia really a 

Lsev. 13, COMPARISON. 161 

I dare presume, be allowed, that none of «these forms of 
comparison, when r^tly applirdjis dsfickat,- either id 
propriety or eteg^n^e. 

The Hebrews have nolhifig that .cdntspdMh with 
those fables, to which the Greek wd EUvten poets have 
recourse, when amplification is required : nor can we 
be surprized that imagery so consecrated^ so dignified 
by religion and antiquity, and yet cf. so* obvious and 
established acceptation as to be intelligible to the mean- 
est understanding, should supply abundant afid suitable 
materials for this purpose. The sacred poets, there- 
fore, resort in this case chieBy to the imagery of nature ; 
and this they make use of, indeed, with so much ele- 
gance and freedom, that we have no cause to regret the 
want of those fictions, to which other nations have re- 
course. To express or delineate prosperity and opu- 
lence, a comparison is assumed from the cedar or the 
palm ;" if the form of majesty or external beauty is to 

Bore trifling object than a city in flames { yet Vimoifi, ^n, it. ▼. 406, in- 
troduces it so artfully, that it not only serves to illustrate, but to raise 
our idea of the sack of Troy : 

** Thus when a fl6od of fire by wind is borne, 

** Crackling it roUs, and mows the standing com/' &c. 

•fthis kind also is that comparison of Miltok, in which he likens the 
spears of the angels surrounding Satan to a field of corn : 

• ** as thick as when a field 

•■ Of Ceres ripe for harvest, waving bends 
*■ Her bearded g^rove of ears, which way the wind 
• «« Sways them," &c. " Par. Lott, B. iv. 983. 

The reason why great subjects may thus be elevated by a comparison with 
smaller, appears to be, because the latter, being more familiar to our 
minds, and therefore easier of comprehension, make a more distinct and 
forcible impression, and lead the mind gradually to the contemplation and 
proper conception of the greater objects. T. 

» PsAi. xcii. 13. NujiB. xxiv. 6. H«s. xiv- $, T, S. Amos ii. 9. 


l^ SIMILE, CfR later, Ift. 

be dqncted, Lebanon or Caimd ia piaetited to our 
view,^ Somcdmes tbey are fiiinMicd with imagay 
from their religious rites, at once btaotifal, dignified» 
and «aefni. In botb fhese «aodes, die Psaloust most 
ekgandf eaclob Ae pkaauresandadvantagesof firafeceaaL 

Sweet ftt^ Uie od^ss baltaa poiirU 

Oa AmnAl sacred ftiesd ; 
Wtuch o V hk lMr4» aad diMi. bfi broMt 

A breetluiig Aagmce ibcd. 

At moniiiig 4ew m Sieo^» msaal 

BiBsim fimh s «Uer raj $ 
Or fttuds with gems the verdant pomp» 
That Hermon's tops dbplay.^ 

Let US| howevcFi attend for a moment to Isaiab, whom 
no writer has surpassed in propriety, when his aim is ta 
illustrate r or in sublimitjv when be means to amplify 
bis subject t 

<* Wo 10 the mvltJliide ^f the numepeiii peoples^ 

^ Who aiake a sound like the sound of the seas ^ 

«« And 10 the roarbg of the nations, 

<< Who make a roaring like the roaring of mighty waters» 

M Like the roarbg of mighty waters do the nations roar ; 

« But he shaU relrake them, and they shaU tee &r away ; 

M And they ahali be driven like the chaff of the hUU before the 

<« And like the goasaxaer before die whirlwind.*l« 

M See Lect. VI. 

It PcAL. exxaiE % 3. Our authov en this oeesiion hat qpieked hom 
Buobanan*» ttanslatHNk In the above attempt I have copied Buchaiun as 
Dearly as our language would admit. T. 

1* Ibax. xtIL 12» 13. *' These five words rwva D'DMb pMtr tn^aa Dna» 
" are wanting in seven manuscripts : witli this difference, in two of tikem, 
'* V. 13, for D*Vd9 we read sra*v Soalso the SraiAC version» which agrees 
** with them. These five words are not necessary to the sense i and seem 
'* to be repeated only by the carelessness of the transcriber." K. 

Lmt.IS. O0MKA1IN9N. %%$ 

The thM.ipeci» of Mmpmsoo «ofipf tohilda wd^ 
41e nmk between tbe twoprccodv^g: aiKl.tbe sole intent 
^it ii» by a mMLterc of new « id varied imagery widi 
tbe principal TOtttter^ ta prevent satiety ,«* dfsgustt s|Qd 
«o promote die eattrtaininent^of tbe readier* |t optther 
descends to the humility of the one, nor emulates the 
aoblimity of the other, {t pursues rather the agreeable, 
the ornamental, tbe elegant, and rai^s through all tbe 
variety, sdl the «esubenmce of nature. In so extensive 
a field it would be an infimte «ask to collect all that 
might be observed ^ each partioulaiw I ahall remark 
one drcumstance only, which though it sometimes take 
place in the two former species of comparison, aoay be 
said notwithstanding to be chiefly appropriated to thia 

There are two operations of the mind, evideady con« 
trary to each other. The one consbts in combinmg 
ideas, the other in separating and distinguishing them« 
For in cootempfaiting the innumerable forms of things, 
one of tbe first reflections which occurs is, that there are 
some which have an immediate agreement, and some 
wiiich are directly contrary to each other. The mind, 
theseforey contemplates thoye objecta which have a re« 
sembhince in their universal nature in such a manner^ 
as naturally to inquire whethn* in any respect they so 
disagree, as to furnish any mark of discrimination ; on 
the contrary, it investigates those which are generally 
diferent in such a manner, as to remark whether, kk 
dieir circumstances or adjuncts, they may not possess 
something in common, which may serve as a bond of 
connexion or association to class or unite them^ The 
final cause of the fwmer of these operations seems to be 
—to caution and guard us against error, in confound* 
iqg one with another ; of the latter, to form a kind of 

104 SIMILE, OR Lect. 12. 

repository of knowledge, which may be resorted to, as 
occasion serves, either for utility or pleasure. These 
constitute {the two facultiesT^which are distinguished by 
^ - "7 the names of judgement and imagination.'^ As accura- 
cy of judgement is demonstrated by discovering in 
things, which have in general a very strong resemblance» 
/ some partial disagreement ; so the genius or fa^cy is en- 
titled to the highest commendation, when in those ob« 
jects, which upon the whole have the least agreement, 
some striking similarity is traced out;^* In those com- 
I^arisons, therefore, the chief purpose of which is orna- 
ment or pleasure, thus far may pass for ah established 
principle, thtt they are most likely to accomplish this 
^d, when the image is not only elegant and agreeable, 
but is also taken from an object, which in the general is 
materially difierent from the subject of comparison, and 
oAly aptly and pertinently agrees with it in one pr two 
of its attributes. 

But I shall probably explain myself better by an ex- 
aniple. There is in Virgil a comparison, borrowed from 
Homer, of a boiling caldron." Supposing in each poet 
the versificatit)n and description equally elegant ; still, 
as the relation between the things compared is different, 
so the grace and beauty of the comparison is different in 
the two poets. In Homer the waters of the river Xan- 
thiis boiling in their chjinnel by the fire, which Vulcan 

f Spe Ho^EBJiB qf Buma^ JVkfitr^ c. X. sect 4^ and Locke o/Buman Un*, 
derffandinjr^ B. xi. c. 11. sect % 

IB •( £u<^ance of expression consists in metaphors» neither too remote, 

^'Whreh'^e difScult to be tmderstood ; nor too simple and superficial, 

<Mti|ch dq im affect the passions/' Akist. Rhet. iii. 10. '< For, as was; 

" befoce^c^scrved, xpetaphors roust be taken from objects that are familiar» 

^< ^'et not too plain aiid common : As in philosophy it is a mark of sagacity 

" to "discern saiiiKtude even in ver}' dissimilar thingfs.* lA c. ii. 

• . . ; AvthorU AV#C. 

;» .JEn, v\\. 462. //. xxi. 362- 

LxcT. 13. • COMPARISON. 165 

has thrown into the river, are compared with the boiling 
of a heated caldron ; but Virgil compares with the same 
object the mind of Turnus agitated by the torch of the 
fiiiy Alecto. - The one brings together ideas manifestlj 
alike, or rather indeed the same, and only differing in 
circumstances ; the other, on.the contrary, assimilates 
objects, which are evidently very different in their nature, 
but aptly, agreeing in some of their adjuncts or circum- 
stances. Thus the comparison of the Latin poet is new, 
diversified, and agreeable ; but that of the Greek, al- 
though not destitute of force in illustrating the subject, 
is undoubtedly wantmg in all the graces of variety, or- 
nament, and splendour. 

For the same reason, there is perhaps no compariscm 
of any poet extant more ingenious, more elegant or per- 
fect in its kind, than the following of the same excellent 

^ The hero floating in a flood of care, 

« Beholds the tempest which hisfoes prepare : 

<* To difi*erent objects turns his anxious mind ; 

^ Thinks, and rejects the counsels he design^ ; 

^ Explores himself in vain, in every part, 

*< And gives no rest to his distracted heart. 

** So when the sun by day, or moon by night, 

« Strike on the polish'd brass their trembling light, 

« The glitt'ring species variously divide, 

^ And caai their dubious beams from side to side ; 

*< Now on the walls, now on the pavement play, 

^ And to the cieling flash the glaring day."*^ 

He appears to be indebted fpr this passage to Apollo- 
nius Rhodius : 

<< In sad review dire scenes of horror rise, 

<< Quick beats her heart, from thought to thought she flies ; 

*« As from the stream-stor'd vase with dubious ray 

9 Dbtd. Viv^, JEn, viii. 28. 

U6 SIMILE, (Ml Iact. 19. 

«< The tuihbeamt danciag from tKe «mfiotflliri 
■< Now here, now there, the treiiibliai^ nUlieMe fiUle» 
M Altehiate flashiDg round th* iUumUi'd waUa : 
« Thus flottering bounds the trembting Tirgin's bk)od, 
M And frem her eyes descends a p^erijr flood.*^ 

In tlus description, Vir^l, as usual, has much improved 
upoa his original; and particuhurly in that circum- 
stance, which is the most essential of all^ that on which 
the fitness of the comparison depends, and which forms 
the hinge, as it were, upon which it turns, he has great- 
ly surpassed the ancient author. 

It appears, therefore, diat in comparisons, the chief 
detdgn of which is ornament or variety, the principal 
excellence results from the introduction of an image 
different in kind, but correspondent in some particular 
circumstances. There are, however, two capkal im- 
perfections, to which this 6gure is sometimes fiable : 
one, when objects too dissimilar, and dissimilar chiefly 
in the adjuncts or circumstances, are forced into com* 
parison ; the other, and not less common or important, 
though perhaps less adverted to^ when the relation or 
resembhnce is in general too exact and minute. The 
comparison in the one case is monstrous and whimsic- 
al ;^ in the other it is groveling and inanimate. 

•1 Fawus^s «JiyMtovikt, B» iiL SIS. 

n The prineiiNil fkult wUch I hftre observed in the coaps^Mas of Ute 
Orientak is, tfast the resemUance is olten too ftncilkl and wottt. They 
are, howerer, fiotsingvhrinthurespesti the foUoi^ ooeeis id oneof 
our most elegit poema» and in my opinioii it is ia this respeet very vepne- 
hensible. DesctMn^the rillsceClergymsn» sndhiscsi«<Mrhb 
poet proceeds : 

** His ready amile a parent's warmth expressed» 

** Their welfare pleased him, and their eares distresiM t 

** To them his heart, his love, his grieis weie given, 

" But all his serious thoughts had rest in hesTen. 

" As some Ull cliflTthat lifts iU awful form, 

* Swells from the vale, and midway lenves t^ storm. 

l^n. 19. CMfPARISON. 167 

Examples iMummbk in ffliistnidoii of the present 
subject might be found in die sacred poetiy : I shall» 
however^ produce not more than two from Isaiah. The 
first from the historical narration of the confederacy be- 
tween the Syrians and the Israelites against the king* 
dom of Judah, ** which when it was told unto the king/' 
says the prophet» *' his heart was moved, and the hearts 
'* of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved 
^ with the wind.**^ The oAer n a poetical compari- 
son, which is fuller and more diffuse than the custom 
of the Hebrews generally admits; die subject of cor- 
respondent applicadon, however, is perfecdy exact. 
The £vine gmce,^ and its eflfects, are compared widi 

«TWToaiditftbtttttteMlttRi^claiidtafe wpntAf 

^ Mftrmal mmddm m$k9 m hU h€«^^ Dferted VOUige. T. 

The» 11 paotber d«frct in thb paMaget which pertiapa ia the real casse 
of that here pointed out, ariaing^ from .the use of the term Aa» by which the 
reaenblaMA WtwMft the wouAtain aaA the maa ia annoanoed : iMt tonen- 
tipn the waitof the antithetical aa» which abould ncoeaaarily have itttro* 
duced a further application of the aimile. S. H. 

St IsAi. TiL 2. 

M This psaaage of the prophet loaea much of ita poetical beauty if it be 
not rightlf imdcBBlood. He i> not apeakiny of that jnacg» wiiich ikm achool 
dsTinea treat of, and which haa been celebrated aince the time of Auguatine 
in ao many controTeraiea, nor of the Turtue and efficacy of the gospel in 
conecting the morals of mankind, but of the oertain aocompliahmcnt of 
the prophetic word. It waa very cuatomary among the Hehvewa to com- 
pare the word of Ood» and particutiffly the word ef pMphecy, to a ahower 
Hi rakit Dmv. ssjeU. S. Bsbk. xxL % Sfie. ii. & Job szix. 33» 23. 
When» tharelbre^tt ia their intenlkm to describe the otrtain and inevitable 
■cc a mpli i hm en t of the dsnne q rac laa , they lepraaant the earth aa impr^- 
nated and fertilised by thio rafraahing raui. laaiah haa celebrated in the 
slth chapter, aa weU as in the chapter under our conaiderationy vcr. 3, 4» 
and 5, the eternal covenant of God with the laraelitea, and the aecompliah- 
ment of that perpetual and permanent grace which he had awem to David» 
namely» that an eternal and immortal King should ait upon his throne ; 
and that he should rule and direct the heathen. If these should appear to 
any person above credibility, he advisea him to recollect that the divine 
counaeb are far above the reach of the human understanding ; and that 
those thiQga are euy to him, which appear most difficult to us. He adds. 

168 SIMILE, OR LscT. 13. 

showers that fertilize the earth : an imag? which is u- 
niformly appropriated to that purpose : 

*« Verily like as the rain descendetht 

« And the snow from the heavens ; 

« And thither it doth not return : 

<< But moisteneth the earth, 

« And maketh it generate, and pot forth its increase ; 

<« That it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater : 

« So shall be the word which goeth from my mouth ; 

«« It shall not return unto me fruitless ; 

" But it shall effect, what I have willed ; 

<< And make the purpose suceeed, for which I have sent it."^ 

More examples, and of superior elegance, may be found 
in the Song of Solomon :^ it must not, indeed, be dis- 
sembled, that there are some in that poem, which are 
very reprehensible, on account of that general disso- 
nance, and fanciful agreement, which I have just re- 
marked'^ as a great imperfection attending the free use 
of this figure. We must be cautious, however, lest in 
some cases we charge the poet with errors, which are 
in reality our own ; since many of the objects, which 
suggested these comparisons, arc greatly obscured, and 
some of them removed entirely beyond the sphere of 

that the sacred oracles, however miraculous, will most assuredly be ful- 
filled i that the vfortl of God may be compared to «now or rain ; vfuch doet 
not return to heaven, before it has performed its office of toatering- andfe- 
eundatmg' the earth : so it is with the prophetic decreet^ or the diwne pre^ 
dictiont of future eventB, And in this light I understand the passage from 
the context, both from what precedes, and what follows. There is one 
similar in ch. xlv. 8, but the idea is more condensed, assuming rather the 
form of a metaphor or allegor}', than of a comparison : 

" Drop down, O ye heavens, the dew from above ; 

•* And let the clonds shower down righteousness : 

** Let the earth open her bosom, and let salvation produce her fruit ; 

'* And let justice push forth her bud together." M. 

MI» 10, 11. 

«« See Cawt. iv. 1—5, farther explained X-ect. XXXI. 

*f See Cajtt. vii. 2—4. 

Lfter. IS. COMPARISON. 16^ 

our knowledge by distance of time and place. It is 
the part of a wise man not rashly to condemn what we 
are able but partially to comprehend. 

These three forms, according to which, for the sake 
of perspicuity, I have ventured to class comparisons in 
general, are however not so incompatible, that they may 
not occasionally meet, and be variously blended with 
each other. That indeed appears to be the most per- 
fect comparison, which combines all these different ob- 
jects, and while it explains, serves at the same time to 
ampKfy and embellish the subject ; and which possesses 
evidence and elevation seasoned with elegance and va« 
riety. A more complete example is scarcely to be found 
than that passage, in which Job impeaches the infidelity 
and ingratitude of his friends, who in his adversity de« 
nied him those consolations of tenderness and sympathy, 
which in his prosperous state, and when he needed them 
not, they tiad lavished upon him : he compares them 
with streams, which, increased by the rains of winter, 
overflow their borders, and display for a little time a 
copious and majestic torrent ; but with the first impulse 
of the solar beams are suddenly dried up, and leave 
those, who unfortunately wander through the <leserts of 
Arabia, destitute of water, and perishing with thirst.^ 

Thus far of oomparisons in general, and of their mat^ 
ter and intention : it remains to add a few words con- 
cerning the particular form and manner, in; which the 
Hebrews usually exhibit them. 

The Hebrews introduce comparisons more freqt^endy 
perhaps than the poets of any other nation ; but the 
brevity of them in general compensates for their abund- 
ance. The resemblance usually turns upon a single 

« Job tL U— 20. 



drcimstmce : that thcy explain in the most simpki 
terms, rarely introducing any thing at all foreign to thf 
purpose. The following example, therefore, is almost 
singular, since it is loaded with an extraordinary accca« 
sion, or I might almost say a supcrHuity of adjuncts : 

«< Let thenv be m grsas upon the house-top, 
•« Which, before h groweth up, ift whhered : 
« With which the mower fiUeth not his himd ; 
u Nor he that gothereth the sheaves his bosom i 
w Nor do thcy that pass by say, 
tt The blessing of Jsmoya» be upon you ;■» 
M We bless you in the name of Jshovah*'^* 

The usual practice of the Hebrews is, indeed, very dit 
ferent from this : sometimes a single word, and com- 
monly a very ^ort sentence, comprehends the whole 
comparison. This peculiarity proceeds from the nature 
of the sententious style, which is always predominant in 
the Hebrew poetry, and, as I before remarke^, consists 
in condensing and compressing every exuberance of ex- 
pression, and rendering it close and pointed. Thus, in 
the very parts in which other poets are copious and dif- 
fuse, the Hebrews, on the contrary, arc brief, energetic^ 
and animated ; not gliding along in a smooth and equal 
stream, but with the inequality and impetuosity of a tor- 
rent Thtts their comparisons assume a peculiar form 
and appearance ; for it is not so much their custom to 
dilate and embellish each particular image with a varieqr 
of adjtmcts, as to heap together a number of parallel and 
analogous comparisons, all of which are expressed in a 
style of the utmost brevity and simplicity. Moses com- 
pares the celestial influence of the divine song, which he 
utters by tlie command of God, with showers which 

» A customary expression made nse of in this businets. See Rutb ii. 4. 
90 PiAui cJLxix. 6—8. See also Psaxji cxzxiiL 3. 

JLncr. i% COMPARISON. in 

water the fields ; and on an occasion when a Greek or 
Catin poet would have been contented wkb a single 
comparison, perhaps a little more diffused and diversi- 
fied, he has introdaced two pairs of similes exacify ex^ 
pressive of the same thing : 

M My doctricTe «hall drop as the rain ; 

«^ My laDgaage shall alight lika the daw t 

M As the small rain upon the tender herb ; 

M And like the thkk drops upon the grass/** * 

The Psalmbt makes bse of the same form in flie fol- 

<« O my God ! make them as the chalT whirled libout ; 

** As the stubble before the wind : 

K As the fire bumeth the foresti 

** And as the flame kindleth the mountains ; 

<( So do thou pursue them with thyr temipestSt 

« And with thy whirlwind make them afraid."'' 

This is, indeed, the most common, but by no means 
the (Mily form which this %ure assumes in the Hebrew 
poetry : there is another, in which the comparison is 
more diffusively displayed; in which case the equal dis- 
tribution of the sentences is still strictly adhered to ; the 

n DsvT. xxxii. 2. 

» FsAiM. Ixxxiii. 13 — 15. Between these two comparisons there exiRts 
so nice a relation» that they would form one simple comparison» were it not 
that the sententious distribution of the verses had disposed the subject in 
a different form and order. Their threshing-floors were so constructed in 
open shuationsy that when the eom was beaten out, the wind carried off 
the ehaff and straw, which beings cdUecled together was burnt See IsAr. 
V. 34. Marr. iii. 13. snd Hammofu's Cm*. Sagw»^ howeTer, is used for any 
high and uncultivated place, as appears from Mic. iii. 13. *' This sense of 
^ the word is also confirmed from the Arabic Vagnar^ a mountain steep 
^ and difficult of access.** H. A»Uk»f*9 JVW». 

Perhaps it may be thought too free a version to render Dbnan 'ins'^a^ 
** And with thy whirlwind involve them in terror''-^ 
hut the words themselves seem to comprise no Icbs^f— Ptirnie $hem -mUh % 
i^mp99U is an evident reference 1« the di99ipathn ^f the ehaff, and what f<d. 
lows relate clearly Xo the expaneien ^theJUme. 8. & 

17% SIMILE, Ut* LscT. 19. 

iipage itadf, however, is not repeated, but its attributes, 
which explain one another in two parallel sentences ; as 
Moses has done in a comparison immediately following 
that which, I just now quoted, in which he compares the 
care and paternal affection of the Deity for his people, 
with the natural tenderness of the eagle for its young : 

** As the eagle stirreth up her oest ; 

M Flottereth over her youDf^ ; 

•« Expandeth her plumes, uketh them ; 

« Bearctb them upon her wing*."'* 

The same is observable also in that most elegant com* 
parison of Job, which I formerly commended ; and 
which for this reason I shall now quote entire, by way 
of conclusion : 

<( My brethren have dealt deceitfully like a torrent, 

« As the torrents of the valleys they are passed away ; 

M Which are conf^ealed'^ by means of the frost, 

M The 'snow hideth itself in their surface ; 

tt As soon as they flow, they are dried up, 

<« When it is hot they are consumed from their place ; 

» The paths of their channels are diminished, 

«< They ascend in vapour, and are lost. 

** Look for them, yc troops of Tema ; 

M Ye travellers of Sheba, expect them earnestly. 

•( They made no haste ; because they depended on them ; 

♦« They game thither, then were they confounded."" 

n Dkitt. zzxii. 11, 

3i Or, M Dr. Durell proposes, which nix^ sttu i as thoa^ the original 
)uui been pnTprr, i|iite«d of Em'>pn.^For this elegant emendation the 
learned doctor is indebted to Father Uoubigant, but he forgot to mention 
iu author : Mr. Heath, bowerer» had a better memory. 8. H. 

U Job ri. 15—20. ** In the fifth line the word i3->r is one of those which 
'< only once occur in tlie scripture. In the Arabic and Chsldee, the proper 
*' force of the verb am is tojl^w, tojltw o^/or fo over/law .* thus the sense 
" will be. In the time, in vhich theyjiww^ or JItim of f that is, aie dissolved 
«< by the melting of the ice.** U. 

In the 30th verse it jippears one should rtsd Vl9d» with the 8t»I4c and 



Two kinds of Perionification : when a cluuracter ia assigned to fictitious or 
inanimate objecta, and when a probable speech is attributed to a real per- 
son— ^ fictitious and inanimate characters ; of real characters — The 
Prosopopoeia of the mother of Sisera (in the song of Deborah) explained : 
also the triumphal song of the Israelites concerning the death of the 
king of Babylon, (in Isaiah) which consists altogether of this figure, and 
ezhibita it in all its different forms/ 

JLhe last in order of those figures, which I proposed to 
treat of, .as being most adapted to the parabolic style, is 
the Prosopopceia, or Penonificatioiu^ Of this figure 

1 The passions of resentment and We have been very accimitely traced 
by some late writers on the human mind, into the senses of pain and pleas- 
ure ; the one arising from the habitual inclination to remove what is hurt» 
iiil ; the other from that of possessing what is a source of grateful sensa* 
tions, and a mean of increasing pleasure. (See HAaxLiT On Man^ and A 
DiuertaHtn prefixed to Riko's Origin of Evil J The strong expression 
of these passions is, however, chiefly directed to rational, or at least to 
animated beings ; but this is the effect of reason and habit. The passions 
are still the same, and will frequently display tliemselves in opposition to 
resson. A child turns to beat the ground, or the stone, that has hurt him ; 
(see Lord Kaixs's Element* of Criticism sj and most men £eel some degree 
of afl'ection even for the old inanimate companions of their happiness. From 
these dispositions originates the figure, which is the great and distinguish» 
ing ornament of poetry, the prosopopoeia. This figure is nearly allied to 
the metaphor, and still more to the metonymy ; it is to the latter, what 
the allegory is to the metaphor. Thus when we say-*-*^ Youth and beauty 
riudl be laid in the dust,'* for penons possessing youth and beauty, it is 
hard to determine whether it be a metonymy or a prosopopoeia. Lyric 
poetry, in which the imagination seems to have the fullest indulgence, and 
1^^ nbounds with itrong figures, is most favourable to personification. 



there are two kinds. One, when action and character 
are attributed to fictitious, irrational, or even inanimate 
objects ; the other, when a probable but fictitious speech 
is assigned to a real character. The former evidently 
partakes of the nature of the metaphor, and is by Far the 
boldest and most daring of that class of figures. Sea« 
sonably introduced, therefore, it has uncommon force and 
expression ; and in no hands whatever is more success- 
ful in this respect than in those of the Hebrew writers : 
I may add also, that none more frequently or more free- 
ly introduce it. 

In the first place then, with respect to fictitious char, 
acters, the Hebrews liave this in common with other 
poets, that they frequently assign character and actikm 
to an abstract or general idea, and introduce it in a man- 
ner acting, and even speaking as upon the stage.* In 
Uiisi while they equal the most refined writers in ele- 
gance and grace, they greatly excel the most sublime 
in force and majesty. What, indeed, can be conceived 
apter, more beautiful, or more sublime, than that per- 
sonification of Wisdom, which Solomon so frequently 
introduces ? exhibiting her not only as the director of 
human life and morals, as the inventor of arts, as the 
dispenser of wealth, of honour, and of real felicity ; bat 
as the immortal offspring of the omnipotent Creator, 
and as the eternal associate in the divine counsels : 

« There is a very atuniated penonificatloii of this kind in one (rf* Dr. 0;< 
dcn*8 lemionf, thougti by some it may perhaps be thought too bold for that 
•pacies of oompoaitioii.-^ Truth," says that elegit and sublime writer, 
*■ is indeed of an awful presence, and must not be affronted with the nide> 
«• nessof direct opposition ; yet will she sometimes condescend t^ pass for a 
«« moment unregarded, while your respects are paid to her sister Charity.*» 
That of Bishop Sherlock, which our author has quoted in his admirable 
Introductton to English Grammar»—" Go to your Natural rd^on, lay be» 
*' fore her Mahomet and his disciples, ficc.'* is well known, and is one of 
th« finest examples of this figure I ha?e ever seen. T» 


M Wheahe prepAred th^ facaf^Ds» I wat prf«M)t ;. 

« Wiien he debcribe4 a circle on the face oC the deep ; 

<< When he disposed the aimoBphere above ; 

<K When he ctubliahed the fountaios of the deep :. 

<« When lie pubiisbed hi») decree to the tea* 

M Tluit the water» should not pass their hound ( 

<< When he planned the foundations of the earth : 

M Then was i by Itim as his offspring ; 

<< And I was daily his delight ; 

M 1 rejoiced continually before him. 

« 1 rejoiced in the habiuble part of his earth» 

M And my delighu were, with the sons of men/'^ 

How admirable is that celebrated personification of the 
divine attributes by the Psalmist ? How just, elegant^ 
and splendid does it appeiMr» if applied only according to 
the literal sense, to the restoration of the Jewish nation 
from the Babylonish captivity ? but if interpreted as re- 
lating to that s^blimeTi more sacred and mystical sense, 
which is not obscurely shadowed nnder the ostensible 
image, it is certainly uncommonly noble and ekvatedi 
mysterious and sublime : 

^ Mercy and Truth are met together ; 

*< Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other/'4 

There are many passages of a similar kind, ezqui- 
ately imagined, and, from the boldness of the fiction, 
extrenu^ly forcible. Such is that in Habakkuk, of the 
Pestilence marking before Jehovas when he comes 
to vengeance :' that in Job, in which Destruction and 
Death affirm of Wisdom, that her fame only had come 
to their ears :* in fine (that I may not be tedious in 
quoting examples) that tremendous image in Isaiah, of 
Hades^ extending her throat, and opening her insatiable 
and immeasurable jaws.* 

« Pmot. ▼iii. 27—31. ^ PsAi. IzxxY. 11. » Ha». iiL 5» 

* Job zxviii. 32. V Isai. ▼. 14. 

• I hA^e not obsenred, eren in die Hebrew poetry, a bolder ase of this 


There is also another most beautiful species of per- 
sonification, which originates from a well-known He- 
figure» than in a passage of Tacitus, An. 16, 31. TVtictiCalft tot inngnUnu 
virU^ adpogtremum ,Afh% Virtuiem ipoam exoeindere ctmetipMt, mter/eet9 
TknueOf he ** After the alaagfater of so many excellent men» Nefo med^ 
** itated at length the extiipation of Virtue henelf by the ssciifice of 
* Thraseap" kc. 

In the openiag of Col&uis'b Ode t§ Merqf is a noble example of the Plo- 

** Thou, who sitt'st a smiling bride» 

^ By Valour's arm'd and airful side," tec. 
Bat the whole compass of English poetry cannot furnish a more beentiftd 
specimen than the following : 

** Loud howls the storm ! the rex'd Atlantic roars ! 

** Thy Genius, Britain, wanders on its shores ! 

'* Hears cries of horror wafted from afar, 

** The groans of anguish, 'mid the shrieks of war ! 

" Hears the deep curses of the great and braTe, 

** Sigh in the wind, and murmur in the wave ! 

** O'er his damp brow the sable crape he binds» 

" And throws his victor-garland to the winds." 

•MMt Sxwimn's Manotfy on Major Andre. 
How different are these instances from the frigid attempts of inferior 
writers! The following personification is. completely ridiculous. It ia^ 
however» extracted firom a poem» which has been highly extolled by one 
who calls himself a critic : 

** Invidious Cfrove, how dost thou rend in sunder 

** Whom love has knit» and sympathy made one f^ 

The Oraoe^ a Poem. 
It IS a happy thing, that as there are poets of all degrees, there are also 
critics of taste and judgement» exactly equal and correspondent to them. — 
Par nMle ! The picture of a grane rending a thing in eunder, can only be 
matched by the fbUowiag passages» from the same incomparable perform- 

■ ** But ! tell us» why this waste» 

*' Why this ado in earthing up a carcase 

** That's fidlen into disgrace, and to the sense 

«« Smells horrible ? Ye undertakero / tell us^ 

" Whtre sre the mighty thunderbolts of war ? 

^ Alas ! how «&'m, ^honourably oKm /" 

** Now tame and humble» Uke a child thafo whipped, 
** Shake hands with dust»" fca 
** Perhaps oome hackney^ kmgerMtten oeribbler 
<* Insults thy memory." 

LBC9. yL PBMOMVfCA/rittli. tTT 

brew idiomt and tin «hit aoeomit n very bmHikf to us ; 
I allude to that form of expression, by which the sub- 
ject, attribute,, accident, or effect of any thing isdenom* 
inated the son. Hence in the Hebrew poetry, nations» 
regions, peoples, are brought upon the stage as it were 
in a female character : 

«« Dai#f nd Asd tit im the dmHj O virglm dpoglilar of Babylon } 
«< Sit OD Ui6 bare groimd wiibout a throne, O daQ|^er of the 

«« Chaldeans :* 
^ For thou fthilt no looker be called the tender and the delicate.*'» 

** Here the link-sided nber— worst of fdont 1 

« Who neanir «tcAe (diacfeditable ablft !) 

** From back and belly too their paroiper eheer^ 

•• Lies cheaply lodg'd." 

** O that some tourteous ^^heat would blab it out, 


. "O- gleet JUm^MT/ 

. ^ Whose crery day ia caniiral» not sated yet ! 
*' Like one» whole days defrauded of bis meals» 
*< On whov lank Hunger lays his skinny hand.** 
Kb «ond^ the abore criHe could discover nothing suUime in Virgil 
and the Scriptures. T. 

t ** Sitting on the ground was a posture that denoted deep misery and 
" ^stress. The prophet Jsbsxiab has given it the first pUce among many 
** indications of sorrow, in that elegant description of the distress of his 
« country, (Lax. il 8.) * The elders of the daughter pf Sion sit on th» 
** ground, they axe silent,' Ste. ' We Jind Judea^ says Bfr. Aodisov, (oa 
M Medals, Dial. iL) * on teveral cstnt of VeMpatian and Titus, in a p09h$rt 
^ that denote» eorrom and eaptivitjf. — / need net mention her sitting on the 
** ground^ beeauoe we have (Uready opoken efthe aptness efsuch a posture to 
*> ropreoont extreme aJHctien, Ifanejf the Bomano ndgkt have dmejfetotha 
** customs of the Jewish nation, as veil as those of their cstmHy, m the sever» 
** ml marks of sorrow they have set on this figure. The Psahmst describes the 
** Jews Ummtktg their captivitif in the some pensive posture .- * By the waters 
** of Babylon we sai down and wept, when we remembered thee, O Sion.* Bsu 
** what is mere remarkahle, we find Judea t^epresented as a woman m sorrow 
" sitting on the ground, in a passage of the prophet, that foretels the very 
" captivity recorded on this medaV* 

See Bishop I.owTv's Notes on Jsaiah, chap, iii, v. 36. 

V IsAi. xivU. 1, &c. 



' ho I Sion*ft daui^bier.prQsinue ihi tbe iCttfHir 

All moumfult soliiary, weepings lies ! 

In vain her suppliant hands to heaven extendi} 

She sinks deserted, and no comfort findt.^ * 

Unless we attend to this peculiar phraseology, such ex- 
pressions as the '* Sons of the bow^ and of the qiiiver'** 
for arrows, will seem extremely harsh and unnatural ; 
as well as that r^M^kable personMcatlm of lob, denot- 
mg the most itil^rable dcath> *^ The first-bom of the 
" progeny of death."" 

The parabolic style no less elegantly assigns a char* 
acter and action to inanimate objiectS' than to abstract 
ideas. The holy prophets, moved wkh just indignation 
against the ungrateful people of God, *^ obtest the Heav« 
** ens and the Earth, and command universal Nature ta 
^ be silent.^ They plead their cause before the Moun-.» 
*^ tains, and the Hilis listen to their vmee.**** All i» 
animated and informed with life, soul, and passicxi : 
^ Let the Heavens rejoice, and let the Earth be glad ; 
^ And let them pracUin ihiough tlia natioQa, Jbhovak naagiMih. 
«< Let the Sea roar, and all that it coDtaioeth j^^ 
*< The world, and the inhaUtanta thereof : 
^ Let the Floods clap their handa ; ' 

*^ Let the Mountaina break forth into barmonj :^* • 
tt Before Jmuovau, for he cometh, 
<• For he cometh to judge the earth/' ^*^ 
« The Waters saw thee, O Gud ! * 

^ The waters saw thee, theyr were grievoosly troubled i^* 
^ The Deep uttered his voice ; 
« And liftr.d up his hands on high."* * 

And Job admirably in the same style : 

<' Canst thou send forth the Lightnings, and will they go I 
<> Shall they say unto thee. Behold here we are ?"** 

u Lax. I 1, &e. i* Jos zll 19. u Lax. iii. 13. 

14 Job XTiii. 13. ^ Osut. zxxiL 1. Ibai. i. 3. << M ic. ri. 1. 
IT 1 Cnov. xrl 31. »■ P»At. xcvui. 7» 8. » **»al. xcvu. 13. 
St PsAL IzaTii. 16. 91 Uabax. iii. 10. , ** Chsp» xxxriiL S5l 


With ^ufd success diey introduce objects, which have 
iK> existence in the order and economy of nature ; though 
it must be confessed» that it is attended with much 
greater hazard of propriety ; for to those^ which are 
arithin tiie province of natiire, we readily attribute a de 
^ee of life and semiment. Of this the following dia- 
logue in. Jereoiiah is JHi. admirable sf^qimen^^ 

<« Ho i tword of Jbhovah ! 

^ How long wilt thou not be at rett I 

^ Return into thy scabbard) 

«< R( tHm, and be atill. 

M How can it be at reati 

^ Sinee JsHOYjkii iiacli gitmlt a'^^vt^e ? 

«• \4KaiMt Aakekm; and iigaNiai the «^a?cpail« 

,«TUera;halhb€aHpoiiited iL">» . 

The otlierl^indof prosopopcsiat to which I alluded in 
the former part of this kctuve» b that, by which a proba- 
ble but fictitious speech is assigned to a real, person. As 
the former is calculated to excite admiration and appro- 
faation by ilsaQVcltyt boldness» and varic^ ; so the lat- 
ter, from its near resemblance to real life, is possessed 
4xf great force, evidence and authority. 

It would be. an infinite task to specify every instance 
in the sacred poenis, which pn this occasion might be 
referred to as worthy of notice ; or to remark the easy, 
the natural, the bold and sudden personifications ; the 
dignity, importance, and impassioned severity of the 
characters. It would be diffi(^ult to describe the energy 
of that eloquence which is attributed to Jehovah him* 
self, and which appears so suitable in all respects to the 
Divine Majesty ; or to display the force and beauty of 
tlie language which is so admirably and peculiarly adapt* 
ed to each character ; the probability of the fiction ; and 
the excellence of the imitation. One example, there» 


fore, must suffice for the present ; one more perfect Ik 
b not possible to produce. It is expressive of the eager 
expectation of the mother c^ Sisera, from the inirnitabte 
ode of the prophetess Detwrah.** 

The first sentences exhibit a striking pieture of mw^ 
temal solicitude, both in words and jettons ; and of « 
mbd suspended and s^tated btureen h^ and fear : 

^ ThroQf h Uie window %ht looked afid cried out» 
^ The iD^iher of Sisera, through the latdce : 
« Wherefore is his chariot $o long b coming ? 
<* Wherefore linger the wheels of his chariot ?" 

Immediately, impatient of his ddayt she anticipates the 
consolations of her friends» and her mind being aome« 
what elevated, she boasts widi all the levity of a fond 

(Vast in hef hopes and gidd)r with success ;) 

^ Her wise^adies answer her ; 

«< Yea, sberettima answer to hersdf : 

<< Have they not found ?— Have they not diiMod the spdl i" 

Let us now observe» how well adapted every sentiment» 
every word is to the character of the speaker. She takes 
no account of the slaughter of the enemy, of the valour 
and conduct of the conqueror» of the multitude of the 
captives, but 

Bums with a female thirst of prey and spoils. 

Nothing is omitted^ whidi is calculated to attract and 
engage the passions of a vain and trifling woman» slaves^ 
gold, and rich apparc}. Nor is she satisfied with the 
bare enumeration of them; she repeats» she amplifie9n 
she heightens every circumstance ; she seems to have 
the very plunder in her immediate possession ; she 
louses and contemplates every particular ; 

jMo^ mi. PERtOMincLiTioir. m 

. ^ Td erfff man a iUomcU yea a daoLiel or two ? . 
M To Siaera a spoil of divers colours 1 
^ A spoil of needlework of divers colours, 
« A spoil for the neck*' of diVen colours of needlework on el^ 

To iM !o the beauty of this passage, there is also ail 
uncomibon neatness in the YersificatioA, great force, ac* 
curacy, and perspicuity m the ^ti6ni <he mmo^ ele- 
gance in the repedtionsi which, notwithstandifig dieir 
apparent redondancy, are conducted widi the noost t)er* 
iiect brevity. In the end, the fatal disappointment of &• 
male hope and G¥ed«ililyv tacitly insinuated by die sud^ 
den and iinex j^eeted aposti'oph^, -'' 

<• So let all thine enemies perish, O Ichovah !'* 
Is expressed more forcibly by diis very silence of the 
person who was just speaking, than it could possibly 
have .been by all the powers of language. 

But whoever wishes to understand the full force and 
excellence of this figure, as well as the elegant use of it 
ii^the Hebrew ode, must apply to Isaiah, whom I do 
not scruple to pronounce the sublimeat of poets* He 
will there find, in one short poem, examples of almost 
eveiy form of the Prosopopoeia, and indeed of all that 
constitutes the sublime in composition. I trust it will 
not be thougltf unseasonable to refer immediately to the 
passage itself, and to remark a few of the principal ex- 

The prophet, after predicting the liberation of the 

•• bbip *1im6, ** A spoil to ornament the neck ;** is the constructive fop 
the absolute. See Mic. vl 16. Lan . liL 14 and 66. For fVirther satisiac- 
tion on this subject consult Bmcromvy T^m. Oram. ii. 4. who, nevertheless, 
in the same work, interpTets this phrase m a different manner. The Ssv^ 
nnrr read TvrttV ; ami the Smac Vsnm ; the coatext triU bear either. 

Juth9r*9 J^9te. 

!• IsAi. xiT. 4— Sir. 


Jews from their severe captivity in Babylon, and thdr 
restoration to their own country, introduces them as re- 
citing a kind of triumphal song upon the fall of the Bab- 
ylonish monarch, replete with imagery, and with the 
most elegant and animated personifications. A sudden 
exclamation, expressive of their joy and admiration on 
the unesqiectcd revolution in their affairs, and the desr 
tructioo of tlieir tyrantB, forma the ej^or^m of the po- 
em* The Earth itself triumphs with the inhabitaiM 
thereof; the Fir-trees, and the Cedars of Lebanon (un- 
der which images the parabolic s^le frequency deline^ 
ates the kings and princes of the Gentiles) exult with 
joy, and persecute with contemptuous reproaches the 
humbled power of a ferocious enemy : 

M The whole earth ia at rest» b quiet ; they burst brth into a jojr- 

««ful shout: 
<< Even the fir-trees rejoice over thee, the cedars of Lebanon : 
<< Since thou art feUen, no fe&ler hath come up against us/^ 

This is followed by a bold and animated personificatioa 
of Hades, or the infernal regions. Hades excites his 
inhabitants, the ghosts of princes, and the departed 
spirits of kings : they rise immediately fh>m their seats, 
and proceed to meet the monarch of Babylon ; th^y in- 
sult and deride him, and comfort themselves with the 
view of his calamity : ' 

*^ Art thou, even thou too, become weak as we ? Art (hou made 

^ lilie unto us f 
*^ Is then thy pride brought down to the grave ; the smad of tfay 

M sprighUy instrumenu ? • 

^ Thus spiritedly versified by Mr. Pottbe : 

The lordly Lebanon waves high 

The ancient honours of his sacred bead ; 

Their branching anna his cedars spread. 

His pines triumphant shoot into the slQr : 

** Tyrant, no barb'rous axe invades, 

*< Since thou art iallen, our unpierc'd shsdss." 
See the conclusion of Lect xxviil T. 


A k the ireroHii kecome tiqr CMchi and the etrtli-iponn Ihf co?« 
« cring ?" 

Again, the Jewish people are the speakers, in an excla- 
naatkxi after the manner 6f a funeral lamentation, which 
indeed the whxAt form of this composition exactly iihi* 
tuesu* The remarkable fall of this powerful monarch 
is thus beautifully iUustraled : 

• Threaetic itnuns oa the ontiaiefy deceaie of royal and emimnt per- 
attHgOb were bflugli witiqaitj amount th« Amtios. Thua Euripides i 
(Iphigenift in Ta^U» ▼• 177 ) 

Ch. AvIf^aMw cilkc» 

*TiM]N f' AmnrAN «tn 

Tea •» •PHNOItIN ^mvmi 

Aa4 ^p&Dt OmUM, r. 1403. 

lu f C a r^i Af^vrnw AI, Al» 
AmtJi pnf lASUBAN 

Inatmcee of eudi thwnediee oiWn oecer in the •aored wfi^Bgi. {3 Sax.!. 
1& 3 Knaa ziiL 30. Asoa v. 1, 3, 16. Ji». ix. 17, xxiL 18» &c.] Maajr 
of them are of the proleptic cast, the moat conapicuous of which ia the de^ 
%aiiciatioB of laaiah againat the kmg of Babylon. According to the Ser- 
mtft VvD in the 4tli verae (which oar tranelatora have rendered a prtver^ 
er Utimtinf tp^tckj aignifies i WWOS and APXIL The aame expreaaion» 
taken conjunctively with mo» hath been alao interpreted Anoi SANAToTi 
and eoineldee with the paaai^ from the Oreatea» cited aborc^-Ora/a 
Mard ia a compoaition of the aame claaa, aa ia erident from the import of 
AlAOioS [— i ftnim if tafi^ft^iu xf"^ «^C^*^ ^ AIMNON OAIN wr nrro#- 
ronrrxiN BINAL Euatath.] when compared with hia imagety of waarxiras»- 
^ Weave the wazp and weave the woo( 
«* The winding^heet of Edward*a race," Sec. 
and it ia aomewhat remarkable that, in hia Ode fiom the Korae tongue, in- 
titled the FaM SUter% the aame machinery b more minutely preeerved r 

^ Now the atorm be^na to lower 

** (Haate the loom of hell prepare,) 

** Iron-aleet of arrowy ahower 

^ Hurtlea in the darkened air. 

*■ Glittering luicea form the loom 

' When» theduaky warp we atrain ; 


« How artlhMfiiUai frcnabBAve^ O.Ln(ai9fV«ta «C die i 

<< Art cut down from earth» thou that didst subdue the nations !*' ^ 

He bifnself is at length brought upoa. the Stage, bpftst* 
iog in the. nK>$t poqiipous teroi^ of his own pow^ 
which furtushe» the po^t with an i&weUeot op^rtunity 
of displaying the unparalleled miaery of hia dowo&L. 
Some persons are introduced, who find the dead carcass 
of the king of Babylon cast out and exposed ; they at- 
tentively contemplate it, and at last acavcely know it to 
be his: 

M Is this the man, that made the ^arlb talramble ; that aho^k tbe 

^ kingdoms ? 
« That made the world like a desert ; that destroyed the cities V*^ 

** Vfekimg many a toldier't doom» 
^ Orkney's woe, and Randrer's bane. 
" See the griesly texture grow ; 
*' (Tis of human entrails made) 
<* And the weights^ that play below, 
** Baoh a gasping wantei^ head. 
«< ShafU fbr shuttles," 8ce. 

la his critique upon this sublime ode of Isaiah» the lesfaod faisbop a^ 
pears to have overlooked a principal aource of its beauty; which, aoftsiets 
in the happy adaptation of imagery 6rom the history and &te of Ntmrod» 
the founder and first king of Babylon, to prefigure the eseisioa of his stte* 
eessor and representative. See JHueruuim aa lAs e & n ir m m H^d pmn a gen m 
Si. Peter and St. Jude cvncemin^ the ang^U that mnned. S. H. 

» O Lueijhr / &e.] This is, I thiak, the most sublhne image I hare 
ever seen conveyed in so few words. The aptness of the sllegory to ex* 
press the ruin of a powerful ssonareh, by the fid! of a bright star from 
heaven, strikes tbe mind in the most forcible aoanncv i sad the poetical 
beauty of the passage is greatly heightened by the pcrsooificataoa, ** Sms 
of Uie morning." Whoever does not relish such painting as this, is aot 
only destitute of poetical taste^ but of the common feeliags of homanity. 


so XiiropHov gives sn instance of this king^s wanton cruelty m killing the 
son of Gobrias, on no other provocation than that, in bunting, he struck a 
boar and a lion, which the king had missed. Cgfrop, ir, p. 309» quoted by 
Bishop LowTff, JVhtet on iutiah, c. sir. v. 30. T. 


They irproach him with being denied the common rites 
of sepulture, on account of the cruelty and atrocity of his 
conduct ; they execrate his name, his offspring, and their 
posterity. A solemn address, as of the Deity himself, 
doses the scene, and he denounces against the king of 
Babylon, his posterity, and even against the city, which 
was the seat of their cruelty, perpetual destruction, and 
confirms the immutability of his own counsels by the 
scrieranity of an oath. 

How forcible is this imagery, how diversified, hoW 
toblime ! how elevated the diction, the figures, the sen- 
timents I — The Jewish nation, the Cedars of Lebanon, 
the Ghosts erf departed kings, the Babylonish' monarch, 
flie travellers who find his corpse, and last of all Jeho- 
vah himself, are the characters which support this beau* 
tiful lyric drama. One continued action is kept up, at 
rather a series of interesting actions are connected togeth- 
er in an incomparable whole : this, indeed, is the principal 
and distinguished exoellenceof the subiimer ocfe, and is 
displayed in its utmost perfection in this poem of Isaiah, 
which may be considered as one of the hiost ancient, 
and certainly the most finished species of that composi^ 
don, which has been transmitted to us. The personifi. 
cations here are frequent, yet not confused ; bold, yet 
not improbable : a free, elevated, and truly divine spirit 
pervades the whole ; nor b there any thing wanting in 
this ode to defeat its claim to the character of peifect 
beauty and sublhnity. If, indeed, I may be indulged 
in the free declaration of my own sentiments on this oc- 
casion, I do not know a single instance in the whole 
compass of Greek and Roman poetry, which, in every 
excellence of composition, can be said to equal, or even 
to approach it. 



WL In i»1at iBMiiRr Ibe word ^fiMAol'inplie» tke idea of Sublimity— Siib- 
limitj of Unp»g« and sentunent— On what iiccoant the poetic dictkn of 
the Hebrews» eidler considered in itself, or compAred with prose compo- 
sition» merits an appellation expretsive of mtlllaiiity— -The sabtimtty of 
the poetic dictk» artaea from the passioiUh-41pw fiu* the poetio dJctioir 
dlfTera from prose among the Hebrews— Certain forma of poetic dieUon 
and construction exemplified from Job, chap. m. 

IxAyiNG in the preceding lectures given my sentT- 
mepts at large on the nature of the figurative st}'Ie, on 

t- An aathor whose taste and imagina:tion wffl be respected as long as the 
Eagliah languagi eziata» has wiitten a most elegant treatise on the distinc-' 
tion between the beautiful and the ntbHmOk But after all that has been said» 
our feelings must be the only crfterioa. The pleasure which is afforded by 
the contemplation of beauty, appears to be a pore and unmixed pleasure^ 
arising from the gentler agitation, and is less vivid than that which is pro-» 
duced by the sublime. For as the latter often borders upon terror, it re- 
quires a greater exertion, and produces a stronger, though I think less du- 
sable sensation than the beantifbL We may read an elegant author, and 
eontinue for a long tisoe to be pleased with his beauties i a sublime author 
we shall soon be induced to lay down. 

The wubHme also differs from the beamHfiU in being only eonverasnt witk 
great objects. It differs from the pathetic in affordaiy a more tranquil plea» 
sure, if I may so express myself. But though the sublime and beautiful be 
thus distinguishable, yet they are frequently mixed in the same passage, 
and seem to run into each other, as is the case in. that enchanting simile of 
Homer, into iHiich Mr. Pope has transfused more of the beautiful than ia 
in the original : 

" As when the moon, refulgfent lamp of night,'* &a 

Some descriptions also it is not easy to determine whether to assign tw 
the tuhUmR or the pathetic .* such is that admirable but brief ddineation oC 

Lbist. U. the sublime IN OENCHAL. Ii7 

its use and application in poetry, and particulariy in the 
poetry of the Hebrews ; I proceed to treat of the Sub- 
fitnity of the sacred poets ; a subject which has been al« 
feady illustrated by many examples quoted upon other 
occasions ; but which, since we have admitted «t as a 
third characteristic of the poetic style, now requires to 
be distinctly explained. We have already seen that this 
is implied in one of the senses of the word Masfudy it 
being expressive of power, or supreme authority, and 
vAysa applied to style, seems particularly to intimate 
something eminent or energetic, excellent or important. 
This b ceruinly understood in Uie phrase *' to take (or 
lift) up his paniA>le;" diat is, to express a great or lofty 
sentiment The very first instance, in which the phrase 
ocoirs, will serve as an example in point. For in this 
Bianner Balaam ** took up," as our translation renders it» 
<< his parable, and said :" 

« From Aram I am brought bf Balak, 

^ By the king of Moab from the mountidns of the Eait : 

K Come, curse me Jacob $ 

<' And come, execrate Israel, 

M How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed ? 

<< And how shall I execrate whom God hath not execrated \ 

^ For from the tops of the rocKa I see him, 

« And from the hiUs I behold him ; 

M Lo ! the people, who shall dwi^U alooe, 

*< Nor shall number themselTea among the nations { 

M Who shall count the dust of Jacob ? 

<< Or the number of the fourth of Israel ? 

<< Let rof soul die the death of the righteousi 

« And let my end be as his."* 

the feelings of the iDuUitode pn the crupifixion of our Lord, Lvkx xxiii. 48. 
'« Aod all the people that came together to that tigl^t, beholding the thinge 
<« which were doqe, smote their breasts, and returned." This may in some 
measure account for the error of Longwus» who cooAninds these three dif- 
Ibrent sensations together. T. 

a Nr«B. xxiii. 7—10. mrw here rendered #fu^ and in the common vtr- 


Let us now coraider, on wbtt acMUDt this addioaa of 
the propbet is entitled Mashai The setiteneeii are in- 
^ deed aceurately distributed in pMBtteli»iM, w nay be 
discovered even in the translation, wbicb has not en- 
tirely obscured the elegance of the arrangement : and 
oompcisitions in this form, we have already renarked, 
are commonly cbMed among the proverbs and adages» 
which are properly called Madiakm^ though perhapa 
they contain nothing of a proverbbl or didaotac natuoe. 
But if we attentively eonaader tfiis very psunage, or oth« 
era introduoed by the same form of expression, we shall 
find» in all of them» either an extmoidinary variety of 
figune and imagery ; or an elevation of style and aeitti* 
ment ; or perhaps an union tA all these exceUendes ; 
n^ttch win induce us to condude, thst aometinng smvs 
is meant by the term to which I am aHuding than tlie 
bare merit of a sententious neatncsa. If again we ex- 
amine the same passage in another point of view, we 
shall discover in it Hitle or nothing of the figurative 
kind, at least according to our ideas, or according to 
that acceptation of the word Mashai which denotes fig- 
urative language ; there is evidently notlung in U of the 
mystical kind, nothing alk^^orical, no pomp of imagery, 
no comparison, and in fourteen verses but a single met- 
aphor: as far, therefore, as figurative language is a 
characteristic of the parabolic style, this is no instance 
of it. We must then admit the word parable, when 
applied to this passage, to be expressive ik those exalted 

wm laii$r end, iiraperij ttgiitfies pv^tmiigt as in Psai.. ciz, 13. Amm it. 
% Dajt. zL 4.— Thft aflTBWTT tranaUte it by rmfftm. It should be remem* 
bered that Balaam is here speaking of the righiewM not in their individual, 
but io their oggrgf^ate capacity, and therefore had either a retrospect» in 
his wiah« to the promiie which bad been inade to Abraliam concerning hia 
posterity ; or else, to an immediate commimicatkm on the' occasion then 
^itesent 8. H. 


sentifMnts» that ^it q£ subUmity, that energy and 
cattK^aiaaQa» wkb which ^ answer of ibe prophet ia 
«ttBMleiib By Ai» example I wished to explain on 
what reaaona I was itidiiced to suppose thai the term 
MufuUf as well from its proper power or meaning» as 
from its iiaual aaoeptatioo, involves an idea of sublimi* 
ty ; and tkM the Hebrew poetry expresses in its very 
name and title, the particuhar quality in which it so 
gjreatly exf^ela the poetiy of all other nations. 

The wqfd aublimity I wish in thb place to be under- 
stood in ilB moat exte^ve aetise ; I vpesk not merely 
of thai aifblimJKy» which exhibits great objects with a 
magnUc^nt di^by of inu^ry and diction ; but that 
kfm of composition, whatever it be, which strikes and 
overpowers th^ mind, whiph excites the passions, and 
whicb ekp«!easea ideaa at onoe with perspicuity and ele* 
vatiop s not sdicitous whether the languid be plain or 
ornamented, vefined or familiar : in this use of the word 
I copy Lopgrnua, the most accomplished author on this 
wi^fscif whether we consider his precepts or his exam- 

The 4ublime consists either in language or sentimeiit, 
or OMMPe frequently in an union of both, since they re- 
ciproeaHy asMat each other, and since there is a neces* 
sary and indiaaohibfe connexion between them ; this, 
however, wiU not prevent our considering them apart 
with convenience and advantage. The first object» 
theif fore» which presents itself lor our investigation, is, 
upon what groimda the poetic diction of the Hebrews, 
whether considered in itself, or in comparison with prose 
composition, is deserving of an appellation immediately 
. expressive of sublimity. s 

9 ** Whose own example stiengpthens all his laws» 
** And is himself the gr^t subl'ime he draws.** Pojr*^ 




The poetry of eveiy hnguage has a style and form oi 
expressKHi peculiar to itself; forcible, magnificeiit, and 
sonorous ; the words pompous and energetic ; the com- 
position singular and artificial ; the whole form and 
complexion different from what we meet with in com- 
mon life, and frequently (as with a noUe indignation) 
breaking down the boundaries by wluch the popular 
dialect is confined* The language of reason is cod, 
temperate, rather humble than elevated, well arranged 
and perspicuous, with an evident care and anxiety lest 
any thing should escape which might appear perplexed 
or obscure. The language of the paasicHis is totally 
different :' the ccHiceptions burst out in a turbid 
stream, expressive in a manner of the internal con- 
flict; the more vehement break out in hasty con- 
fusion; they catch (without search or study) what- 
ever is impetuous, vivid, or energetic. In a word, 
reason speaks literally, the passions poetically. The 
mind, with whatever pas«on it be agitated, re- 
mains fixed upon the object that excited it ; and while 
it is earnest to dbplay it, is not satisfied with a plain 
and exact description ; but adopts one agreeable to its 
own sensations, splendid or gloomy, jocund or unpleas- 
ant. For the passions are naturally inclined to amplifi^ 
cation ; they wonderfully magnify and exaggerate what- 
ever dwells upon the mind, and labour to express it in 
animated, bold, and magnificent terms. This they com- 
monly effect by two different methods ; partly by illus- 
trating the subject with splendid imagery, and pardy by 
employing new and extraordinaiy forms of expression, 
which are indeed possessed of great force and efficacy 
in this respect especially, that they in some degree imi- 
tate or represent the present habit and state of the soul. 
Hence those theories of rhetoricians, which they have 


sopompoudy detailed, attributing that to ait, which 
riiove att tlungs is due to nature alone : 

^ For nature to each change of fortune forma 

<( The secret soul, and all its passions warms : 

<« TtvnsportB to rage, dilates the heart with mirth, 

tt WiJQgft.the tad soul, aad beads it down to eartii. 

** The tODgiie those various nDvemeats mast espiess."^.^ 

A principle which pervades all poetry, may easily he 
conceived to prevail even in a high degree in the poetry 
of the Hebrews. Indeed we have already seen how 
daring these writers are in the selection of their imagery, 
how forcible in the application of it ; and what elegance, 
splendour, and sublimity they have by these means 
been enabled to infuse into their compositions. With 
respect to the diction also, we have had an opportunity 
of remarking the peculiar force and dignity of their po- 
etic dialect ; as well as the anificial distribution of the 
sentences, which appears to have been originally closely 
connected with the metrical arrangement, though the 
latter be now totally lost We are therefore in the next 
place to consider whether there be any other remarkable 
qualities in the poetical language of the Hebrews, which 
serve to distinguish it from prose composition. 

It is impossible to conceive any thing more simple 
and onadomed than the common language of the He- 
brews. It is plain, correct, chaste, and temperate ; the 
words are uncommon neither in their meaning nor ap- 
plication ; there is no appearance of study, nor even of 
the least attention to the harmony of the periods. The 
order of the words is generally regular and uniform. 
The verb is the first word in the sentence, the noun, 
which is the agent, immediately succeeds» and the other 

« FsABCis's Hob. Art rfP9eityt Y. 155« &c: 


words follow in their imtoral order* £adi ebcumttaM» 
b exhibited at a sin^ dfort, wkhottt the leMt perples«^ 
ity or confusion ci the dtflEerent parts : and^ what is ^^^ 
tnarkable, by the help of a simple particle, the whole is 
connected from the begmmng to the end in a oont i m i cd 
series, so that nortring appears nieonsisteiit, abrept, er 
confused. The whole composition, in fine^ is ifi^MMed 
in such an order, and so connected by the coMifmed 
succession of the diibrent parts, as tademonatrate dear- 
ly the regular state of the auth<M*, and to cxUbiKthe ihk 
age of a sedate and tranquil mind. But in the ifebf^w 
poetry the case is different, in part at least, if not in dHr 
whole. The free spirit is bnnied along, and has neilter 
leisure nor inclination to descend to those ouDOte mni 
frigid attentions. Frequently, instead of diaguin^ the 
secret feelings of the author, it laya them quite open to 
public view ; and the veil being as it were suddenly re» 
moved, all the affections and emotions of the soul, its 
sudden impulses, its hasty sallies and irregularUies, are 
conspicuously displayed. 

Should the curious inquirer be desirous of more per- 
fect information upon this subject, he may satisfy Mm- 
self, I apprehend, with no great labour or difficulty. 
Let him take the book of Job ; let him read the hktori* 
cal proem of that book ; let him proceed to the metri- 
cal parts, and let him diligently attend to the first speech 
of Job. He will, I dare believe, confess, that, when ar* 
rived at the metrical part, he feels as if he were reading 
another language ; and is surprized at a dissimilarity in 
the style of the two passages much greater than between 
that of Livy and Virgil, or even Herodotus and Homer* 
Nor indeed could the fact be otherwise accovdh^ to the 
nature of things ^ since in the latter passage the most 
exquisite pathos is displayed, such indeed as has not 


been esoeeded, and acaroely equalled by any effort of ^ 
Hbe Musea. Not <^iy the force, the beauty* the sub'* 
limity of the aentiments are unrivalled ; but auch b the 
ebafacter of the diction in general, so vivid is die ex- 
pivatton, ao interesting the assemblage of objects, so 
dose and conoecled the sentences, so animated and pas* 
aioQafte the whole «rangement, that the Hebrew Utera* 
tare itself contams nothing more poetical» The greater 
psrt of these beauties are ao obvious, that they cannot 
possibly eacape the eye of a dili(i:ent reader ; there are 
some, however, which, depending chiefly upon the ar« 
mngement and construction, are of a more abstruse na* 
tare. It also aometimes happens, that those beauties 
which may be easily conceived, are veiy difficult to be 
explain^ : while we simply contemplate them, they ap«> 
peiur sufficiently manifest ; if we q)pn)ach nearer, and 
attempt to touch and handle them, they vanish and es- 
cape. Since, however, it would not be consistent with 
my duQr on the present occasion to pass them by totally 
unreganded, I stall rdy, gentlemen, upon your accus- 
tomed candour, while I attempt to render, if pos^ble, 
some of these degancies more obvious and familiar. 

The first thmg that arrests the attention of the reader 
in thb passage, b the violent sorrow of Job, which bursts 
forth on a sudden, and flows from his heart, where it had 
long been confined and suppressed : 

« Let the day perish, I was born in it ; ^. e. in which I was born) 
A And the night (which) said a man is conceived/'' 

Observe here the concise and abrupt form of the first 

f Job ill. 3. The learned bishop ibllows here the interpretation of Sehut- 
tent, which Mr. Heath has pven a good reason for declining to adopt He 
tenders the passage thus : 

Ma^ the day perish wherein I was brought forth. 

And the night which said. See a man child is bom ! 8. fix 


194 THE SUBLIME W GfiMERAL/ Lkt. 14» 

* verse ; and in the second the boldness of the fi^re, and 
the still more abiHipt conclusion. Let the reader theo 
consider, whether he could endure such a spirited, ve* 
bement» and perplexed form of expression in any prose 
composition ; or even in verse, unless it were expressive 
of the deepest pathos.^ He will nevertheless, I doubt 
not; acknowledge that the meaning of this sentell&e^i8 
extremely dear, so clear indeed, that if any person should 
sittfimpt to make k more copious and explanatory, he 
would render ic less expressive of the mind and feelings 
of the speaker. It hi^ppens fortunately that we ha^re an 
opportunity of making the experiment lipon this very 
sentiment. There is a passage of Jeremiali so exactly 
similar, that it might almost be imagined a direct imita- 
tion : the meaning is the same, nor is there any very 
great di&rence in the phraseology; but Jeremiah fills 
up the eltipsesi smooths aiid harmonizes the roug^and 
uncouth language of Job, and dilates a short distich into 
two equal distichs, consisting of somewhat longer ver- 
ses, which is the measure he commortly makes use; of u 

<* Cursed be the day oh ivhich I was born, 

^* The dajr on whioh tny mdtber bare ttie, let k not be blessed. 

^ Cursed be the mi^) who broughtthe news to nsy iathery. . 

<' Saying there is s male child born unJLo thee ; 
« Makings him exceedingly gUd.*'^ 

« Our author exaggerates a little the boTdness and energy of this passage, 
conceiving that to be an unusual phras^lugy» which ia only uncommon t^. 
lis. There will be an opportunily of mentioning the change or emiilage of 
the tenses in the next Lecture. Tlie eJllpsis of the relative pronoun a9fmr 
(which} is nol at all harsh and unusual ; natliing is more common in tbd 
Arabic, it being accounted among the elegancies of language, nor is it un- 
usual with, tlic Hebrews. Even witJi the English, tlie pronoim vhich is very 
frequently omitted. M. 

•* There are in all languages certain elliptical expressions, which use has 
" established, and wjuch tlurelore very rarcJy occasion daikness.** 

r*««.lx„14,Vt , . C^nn. J'Idl. of Hhet. 

LmcT. \4i THE SUBblME IN <iENERAU 19S 

Tbus *itfaa|)pen84 that ifab imprecation of Jeremiah has 
more in it of coniplaint than of indignation ; it is milder^ 
softer, and more* plaintive, peculiarly calculated to ex- 
cite pity, in moving which the great excellence of {lus 
prophet consists : while that of Job is more adapted to 
strike us with teripr than to excite our compassion.* 

But to proceed. I shall not trouble you with a te* 
dious discussion of lliose particulars which are suffi- 
ciently apparent ; the crowded and abrupt sentences, 
which seem to have tittle connection, bursting from the 
glowing bosom with matchless force aqd impetuosity ; 
the bold and magnifioent expressions,- which the elo- 
quence of indignatidn' pours forth, four instances of 
which occur in the space of twice as many verses,^ and 
which seem to be altogether poetical : two of them in* 
deed are fbund coutintjally iii the poets, ahd in them 
only ; the other^ are ^ill more uncomoUM. Omittii^ 
these, therefore, the bbjfcct which at present seems more 
worthy of e:^aminatibn, i^, that redundancy of expres- 
sion, which in a few Uhes takes place of the former "ex- 
cessive conciseness : 

« That liigfln — let darkness sciise upon it."* • ' 

In this also there is the strongest indication of passion/ 
and a perturbed mind. He doubtless intended at first 
to express himself in this manner : 

** Be that hight darkness.*'*. * — '- — ^ 

But in the very act of uttering it, he suddenly catches 
at an e&pressiun, which appears more animated and en- 

8 This is an excellent observation. The grief, or ratlicr despair, of Job^ 
is of the solemn, majestic, and truly tragic kind ; that of Jeremiah has 
more of the elegiac tenderness, which raises no greater passion than pitv, 
and is only caculated to excite our tears. M. 

9 Ver. 4, 5, 7. 'nD>3, vvina, rviiabx, jrrvi 

» Vcr. 6. n See ver, 4. 

19« THE SUBLIMt: IN GfiKfiltAL» Uev. 14. 

ergetic. I do not know that I can better Wosinite tfcis 
observation than by referring to a passage in Horace, a 
which a similar transition and redundancy ftlfeirom the 
indignant poet : 

<« He who— (bane of the fruitful enrth \ 

M Curst was the hour that gave thee Inith I) 

« He— O vile permcloaa tree ! 

^ Was surely curat vbo pJaiiied lbe«» 

M Well may I think the parricide 

« In blood his guilty soul had died, 

<< Or plung'd his dagger in the breast» 

(* At midnighty of his sleeping guesti 

** Or temperM every balefbl juite, 

«( Which pMsTnoua Choichian globes product, 

M Or if a blacker crime be known, 

** That crime the wretch had made his own.*' 

For undoubtedly the poet begun» as if he intended to 
purstfc the svt>|^t in a regular order, and to finish the 
8(^ateriice in this form. *^ He wbo<-<^lanted thee ; be 
^^ w^s accessary to the murder of his parents, and sprink« 
** kd his chambers with the blood of his guest ; he dealt 
*^ in the poison of Cholchis," 8cc, But anger and vexa- 
tion dissipated the order of his ideas, and destroyed the 
construction of this sentence. But should some cAcious 
grammariltn take in hand the passage, (for this is a veiy 
diligent race of beings, and sometimes more than suffi- 
ciently exact and scrupulous) and attempt to restore it 
to its primitive purity and perfection, the whole grace 
and excellence of that beautiful exordium Would be im- 
mediately annihilated, all the impetuosity and ardour 
would in a moment be extingitished.«»But to return to 

^ L.0 ! that night, may it be fruitless !"«* 

IS Fbajtcii, B. iL Ode i^iii. with some l^tle alterftiOQ. 
IS Qbap. iU. ver. 7. 


Be appears to have i diiect pictufe or imagit of that 
Bight bkSatc his eyes, and to point it out with Im fingefi 
^Thedoore of 11*7 womb" ^^ *^ the doors of my mothi* 
'^ er's womb/*^ b an eUiptical form of etpreasioiat the 
tneasing of which is easily cleared up, but which no 
penon in « Iratiquil state of mind, and quite master of 
himself would venture to emjrioy* Not to detain yoa 
loo kmg upon this subject, I shril produce only one 
passage more, which is about the conclusion of this 
«mmmed speech: 

tt Wheiefijte should ho gite liffht to the msemble I 
^ And life 10 tbosc who «no in btttieniess of aoul f 
^ Who call aloud for death, but it oometb not; 
M Who dig for it more than for hidden trsasures. 
<^ Who would rejoice even to exultation, 
^ Alid b^ in raptures, if they had fotmd the grave. 
^ Well might it befit 4he man whote way b aheltered, 
* ^ And whom QoA hath aurroiindod with an^iicdge. 
^ But my gvoaaiag cometb like my daUy feod, 
<< And my roarings are poured out tike water/' *' 

The whole composition of this passage is admirable, and 
deserves a minute attention, ^' Wherefore should he 
^* give light to the miserable ?''— But who is the giver 
alluded to? Certainly God himself, whom Job has in- 
deed in his mind ; but it esc^d his notice that no 
mention is made of him in the preceding lines. He 
seems to speak of the miserable in general, but by a 
violent and sudden transition he applies the whole to 
himself, ^' But my groaning cometh like my daily food." 
It is phdn, therefore, that in all the preceding reflections 
he has himself only in view. He makes a transition 
from the singular to the plural, and back again, a re- 
markable amplification intervening, expressive of his 
desire of death, the force and boldness of which is in^ 

M Ver. 10. M Ver. 70^24. 


companMe ; at last, as if suddenly recoUecting hrais^ 
he returns to the former subject» which he had appar-* 
ently quitted, and resumes the detail €i his oim 'misery. 
From these observations I think it will be manifest» tbft 
the agitated and disordered state <tf the speaker's mind 
is not more evidently demonstrated by a happy boldness 
o[ sentiment and imagery, and an uncommon force of 
language, than by the very fom^,^ conduct» and airange- 
ment of the whde. 

The peculiar property which I have laboufed to de* 
monstrate in this passage, will, 1 apprehend, be ftund to 
prevail as a characteristic of die Hebrew poetry, making 
due allowance for diflerent subjects and circumstances ; 
I mean that vivid and ardent style, which is so well cal- 
culated to display the emotions and passions of the mind. 
Hence the poetry of the Hebrews abounds with phrases 
and idioms totally unsuited to prose composition, and 
which frequently appear to us harsh and unusual, I had 
almost said unnatural and barbarous ; which, however, 
are destitute neither of meaning; nor of force, were we 
but sufficiently informed to judge of their true applica- 
tion. It will, however, be worth our wh3e, perhaps, to 
make the experiment on some other passages of this na- 
ture, and to try at least what can be done towiirds the 
further elucidation of tins point. 



The chamefer of the Poetic USalect further iUastrated by ettmplei of 
. ^tiffefwit kind* from the Soiig of .Moks» Dspt. xxxU^-*The fteqoent and 
sudden transition from one persqn to another ; its cause and effects— 
The'dse of the Tenses in a manner c^uite different from common language s 
the reaaena of tki»^Ttae*Hetotw language peculiar in this reapect^^The 
future is often spdkea of in the pierfect present» and .the past in the fu^ 
tuie Tense ; the reason of the former easy to be explained ; the latter 
is a' matter of coiisid^rable difficulty, which neither the Commentators, 
the Tranalators» nor even the Grammarians have elucidated— Some ex- 
amples of this, and the explanation of them-*The frequent use of this 
' form of construction may be considered aa cbaracterlstical of the Po^ 

J.K order to demonstrate more completely the sublimi- 
ty of the Hebrew poetry by a comparison with prose, I 
referred the student of Hebrew to the Book of Job, con- 
vinced that he would easily perceive, both in the mat- 
ter and diction a very considerable difference betweca 
the historical hitroduction of that book, and the metric* 
eal paissages immediately succeeding. But lest these 
passages should be objected to, as improper instances 
for such a comparison, on the supposition that, although 
both of them were written entirely either in verse or 
prose, yet the diflferent nature of the subjects would re- 
quire a very different style ; we shall now make the ex- 
periment on some other passages, and compare the 
manner of treating the same subject in verse and prose. 
The Book of Deuteronomy will afford us a convenient 
instance ; for Moaes appears there in the character both 

300 6UBLIMITT OP LscT. U. 

of an orator and a poet. In the former character, he 
addresses a very solemn and interesting oration to the 
people of Israel/ exhorting them, by the most inviting 
promises, to the observance of the covenant, and dis- 
suading them from the violation of it by threats c^ the 
most exemplary punishment : and fer the purpose of 
impressing the same more forcibly on their minds, he 
afterwards, by the command ofOod, ettibellishes the 
subject with all the elegance of verse,* in a poenit which 
bears every mark of divme inspiration. In these two 
passages is displayed every excellence of which the 
Hebrew language is capable in both species of com* 
position ; all that b grand, forcible, and majestic, both 
in prose and verse : From them too we may be enabled 
easily to comprehend the difference between the style of 
oratory among the Hebrews, and that of their poetry, 
not only in sentiment, but in the imagery, the amuqge* 
ment, and the language. Whoever wishes, therefore, 
to satisfy himself concenung die true character ^nd 
genius of the Hebrew poetry, I would advise careful^ 
to compare the two passages, and I think he will soon 
discover that the former, though great, spirited, and a» 
bounding with ornament, is notwithstanding regular, 
copious, and diffuse ; that, with all its vehemence and 
impetuosity, it still preserves a smoothness, evenness, 
and uniformity throughout ; and that the latter, on the 
contrary, consists of sentences, pointed, energetic, con* 
cise, and splendid ; that the sentiments are tmly elevat- 
ed and sublime, the languid bright and animated, the 
expression and phraseology uncommon ; while the mind 
of the poet never continues fixed to any single point, 
but glances continually from one object to another. 

1» Dsmr. Chjq>. xxviu. zxix. xzx. zzxi. * Chap. xxsiL 

iMmr. 15. EXPRESSIONS 901 

These remarks are of such a nature, that the diligent 
reader will apprehend them better by experience and 
Us own observation, than by means of any commentary 
or explanation whatever. There are, however, one ot 
two points which have attracted my notice in the peru- 
sal of this remarkable poem ; and as they are of general 
use and application, and may serve to elucidate many 
<^the difficult passages of the Hebrew poetry, they ap^ 
pear to me not undeserving of a more particular exam« 

Taking, therefore, this poem as an eicample, the first 
general observation, to which I would direct your atten- 
tion, is the sudden and frequent change of the persons^ 
and principally in the addresses or expostulations ; for 
enough has been said already concerning the introduce 
tion of difierent characters or personifications* In the 
exordium of this poem, Moses displays the truth and 
justice of Almighty God, most sacredly regarded in all 
his acts and counsels : whence he takes occasion to re^- 
prove the perfidy and wickedness of his ungrateful peo- 
ple ; at first as if his censure were only pointed at the 

M Their eyil disposition hath corrupted his children» which are 
M indeed no longer his :'*^ 

He then suddenly directs his discourse to themselves; 

M Perverse and crooked g^enerstion I 
^ Will ye thus requite Jehovah» 
«< Foolish people and unwise i 

s Ver. Stfi I have endeavoured, as fiir as 1 was sbl^ to lender pe& 

tpicuous the Hebrew reading; but after all, that which is adopted by the 
LXX. the Sjm. and Str. is perhaps neaiw the truth n\a «3^ ib Kb unrW ; 
" Th^ are corrupted» they are not his» (they are) sons of eiTor, or blemish.*' 
Which is also partly cottfirmed by A^ui&a» Vvm^ Stxxachus. 

26 ' 

392 SUBLIMITY OF L»cT. 11^^ 

M h be not thf father and tUj red^entr ; 
M Did he not make thee and form thee V* 

After his mdignatiofi has apmtrwhat wbsided, advcrtiiig 
to a remoter period, he beautifully enlarges» upon, ttv^ 
indulgence» aud more tlun paternal aflft^ction, continw^l^. 
ipanifes^ted by AJmigbty Gpd towards the Israelite^ 
^om the time wl^ep he first chose them for his p^iiUnr, 
people ; and all this again without seeming dtrctctly t|^ 
apply it to them» He ajfterwards admirably ex^ggeratefk 
the stupidity and barbarity of this ungrateful peo(^ 
which excfed^ that of th^ brutes themselves. Observe 
with, what force the indigni^Uon of the prophet a^uo^ 
breaks forth i 

^ Bat Jeshuruu grc^^ir fyi af)d reaisted ^ 
M Thou grewest fut, thou wast made thickf thou .waaj^ osvereit 

«« with fal ! • 

^ And he deseited the God that made him, 
*< And despised the rock of his salvation." 

The abrupt transition in one short sentence to the Israel» 
itesyand back again» is wonderfully forcible and pointed, 
and excellently expressive of disgust and indignation*, 
There is a passage of Virgil, which,- though it be less, 
animated, is certainly not unworthy of being coroparecl-' 
with this of Moses ; it is that in which, by an ingenious 
apostrophe, he upbraids the truitor with his crime, and 
at,t))e same time exonerates th^ king from the ucpputa^ 
tion of cruelty : 

By godlike TuUus doomed the trahor dies» 
(And thou, false Metiu&y dost too late rtpent 
Thy violated faith !) by furious steeds 
In pieces torn, his entrails strew the ground. 
And the lowibrambles drink bis streaming blood.* 

I might proceed, and produce several examples in. 
point from the same poem, and innumerable from other 

4- .«fin. viii. 642. 


paits of the sflfcred wi^hings, difl^rent from ^adh other 
both in expression and form. These, however, are su£» 
fcient to denMnbtrate the force of this kind of compaHi 
Hon in expressinig the more vehement afft^ctions^ and in 
fMrkin^ thoise sadden emotfons, which distract the mind 
at)d divide its attention. But ^n^oever ml) attend vritil 
«nyyliligence to the poetry of the Hebreiirs, will find that 
examples of this kind almost perpettiatly occur, and 
nifich more fre()Aenlly, than could be ^endured in the 
poetry of the Greeks and Romans, or even in our own i 
he Will find many of these instances not easy to be urn 
dtrstood ; th^ force and (ie«fi)Brn of some of them, ^htk 
separately consiilered, are indeed soaik)ely fo be explaim 
cd, or even perfeculy c<^mprehended« The readier will 
not, however, be Warranted in concluding from this con*» 
cession, that ibon^ viefy passaged which are most obscure 
are ill thCnvselveii' absurd, and that they possess no geH^ 
eral force or effect in distinguishing dte diction, m sus^ 
taining the poetic spirit, and in forming that peculiar 
character^ wbich^ tlowever it may difier from what w^ 
are accustomed to, is in its kind altogether deser^'ing of 
applause. In this case we ought to consider the proper 
genius and character of the Hebrew poetry. It is un- 
constrained, animated, bold, and fervid. The Orientals 
look upon the language of poetry as wholly distinct from 
that of common life, as calculated immediately for ex- 
pressing the passions : if, therefore, it were to be reduc- 
ed to the plain rule and order of reason, if every word 
and sentence were to be arranged wiili care and study, 
as if calculated for perspicuity alone, it would be no 
longer what they intended it, and to call it the language 
of passiorf would be the grossest of solecishis. 

The other observation, to which I alluded as renting 
both to this poem and lo the poetry of the Hebrews in 


general, is, that you there find a ttiucfa more frrquent 
change or variation of the tenses dian occurs in common 
language. The chief aim of such a trantttton, b, to 
render the subject of a narration or description mora 
striking, and even to embody and give it a viable ex- 
istence.* Thus, in ail languages, in prose an well as po- 
etry, it is usual to speak of past as wetl aa fiiturt events 
in the present tense, by which means whatever is de- 
scribed or expressed is in a manner brought immedir 
stely bdbre our eyes ; nor does the mind contemplate a 
distant object» by looking back to the past or farward 
to the future^ But in this respect there is a great pe^ 
culiarity in the Hebrew languagCt For the Hebrew 
verbs have no form for expresidng the imperfect or in- 
definite of the present tense, or an actioo which now 13 
performing : this is usually ejected by a p^irticiple only» 
or l)|y a verb substantive understood, neither of whiph 
are ^ten made usf of in such passage^ as th^se, nor in* 
deed can be always conveniently admitted* They, 
therefore, take another method of attaining this end, and 

s The change of tenses here remarked on, is no more a peculiarity of the 
Hebrew poetry than of our own. Perhaps there does not exist a finer in« 
•tance of a poit event rendered prttaUt by this means. th|ui i|i the follow* 
ing description by Dryden : 

He sung Papus great and |pood, 

By too severe a fate. 
Fallen, fallen, fiOlen, fallen, 
fallen irttfn his high estate, 
And welt'ring in his blood ; 
Deserted at his utmost need. 
By those his former bounty fod : 
pn the bare earth expos'd he uss, 
fVith not a friend to close his tycM, 

Kor is there a less bippy example of futyrt events made prewentt m the 
^aasof Gray : ' 

Visions of glory, spare my achfaig Sight, 

Te vnbam t^^cs, p-vwJ not on my soul ! te. 8ic* S. p. 

.... . . . ^ 


for the sake of dcameis and prrcisioiH express futui^ 
events by the past tense, or rather by the perfect present, 
as if they had actually taken place ; and, on the contrary^ 
past events by the future, as if immediately or speedily 
to happen, and only proceeding towards their compio- 
tion. Of the first of these forms of construction, name- 
ly, die expressing of the future by the past tense, an in- 
stance which we just now quoted will demonstrate both 
the nature and the effirct. 

Moses foreseeing, by the impulse of divine inspira* 
tion, die miserable negka of the true worship, into 
which the people of Israel were universally to relapse, 
reprobates in the following terms the vices of that un- 
grateful people, as if they had been already committed 
in his immedi»te presence : 

n Their •▼il ditpotitidD hath corrupted hb children, which are 
M indeed no longer hi».'^ 

Thus he speaks as if he were the actual witness of their 
depravity, and present at those impious rites, with which 
they were about to violate a religion divinely instituted 
through hb means. Nothing can be more efficacious 
than this kind of anticipation to the clear, evident, and 
almost ocular demonstration of things. On this account 
it is a very ppmmon mode of expression in the prophet- 
ipal writings ; and in this, as in every other excellence, 
](saiah particularly challenges our highest admiration. 
Observe only with what exactness and perspicuity he 
has delineated the journey of Sennacherib towards Jeru- 
aalem, and the different stages of the army ; insomuch 
that the light and evidence which the prophet throws 
upon the circumstances of the prediction, fail nothing 
short of the clearness and accuracy of an historical wj^^ 

tO# SUBLfMfTT «ir UM. «#. 

« He it come to Aialh ; he huh pasted to 
<« At Michmat he will de|KMite hit baggage. 
^ They have passed the strait ; Geba is their lodging for the night: 
« Ramah is frightened ; Giheah of Saul flccih. 
(« Cry aloud with thy voice, O daughter of Galliih ; 
« Hearken onto her« O Laitfa ; answer her, O Anathodi. 
«< Madneoa it gone away s the iahabttmu of Gobim flee amaiD* 
« Yet this da^ shall he abide in Nob ; 

^ He shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of 
« Sion/'* 

Thus the plague of locust3 is denounced, and described, 
as if it had aheady happened, by the profihet Joei : 

•< For a aaciDn hathgone up on my land, 
«« Who are strong aad witboot number : 
^ They have destroyed my vine, and ha?e made my fig-tree a 

*^ broken branch. 
<< They have made it quite bare, and catt it away : the branchea 

^ thereof are made white. 
<< The field b laid waste ; the ground, the groond moumeth."^ 

The prophet is undoubtedly here speaking of a future 
event ; for, the very devastation, which, to strike the 

s IBAT. X. 9S— 3Q. In the 39th verae 1 think with the CaAxaas ptaim^ 
phrast, that for lab we should read nob- How others, or the greater pu% 
may have read it, is not sufficiently apparent { but to me it appears of con- 
siderable importance, as well to the sense as the elegance of the passage. 
Ofumiak Cfnanathtth in ver. 30, here the epithet aUttdea to the meaning or 
etymology of the name, as if he had said^— 

** Alas ! thy name is too well founded in tnith." 
I would remark here, that if the reader deairea to understand how much 
the prophets, and particularly Isaiah, an attached to beaatiea ef this kand^ 
he may be satisfied on consulting the following passages : Isai. r, 7. ziii. 6. 
xxiT. 17. xxTii. T. xxxiii. 1. Wii. 6. Ixi. 3. Ixt. 11, 13. Jib. xlviil 3. Eskk, 
viL 6. Uos. ix, 15. Amos ▼. 5. ^ic. L 10^15. Zapx. iL 4. See alse 
Gix. ix. 37. xlix. 8^16, 19. Perhaps the Sr«. may be right in this paa- 
sage, Bear, LaUha / and antwer, AnathM / It reads Ve-ffnani, 
*' In the word LaUha, the If is wanting in one manuscript. In ver. 33, 
*< many manuscripts, and some editions, read na : which is one example 
** among many, in which the text of many manuaoripta, and of the nld««l 
^ cditiona, agreea with the Kerl" K. AiOho^B J^eif. 


more ferdUy on the mindt he has thus dq)icted as an 
evcntf already past« is threatened by him in the sequel- 
Under another image to be immedbtely inflicted/ unless* 
the peopk repent of their wickedness. Thus far the 
Hebrew language di&rs not materiaUf from . others ; 
those fiitore actions or e\ents which other writers, for 
tfie sake of force and clearness^ express in the imper- 
fect present, the Hebrews express in the perfect present 
with equal effect. 

In another point, it must be confessed, they differ 
essentially from «other writers^ namdy, when they inti« 
mate past events in the form/ of the future tense : and I 
must addv that this is a matter of considerable difficulty, 
ff we resort to the translators and commentators, so far: 
are they £*Qm affordii^ any solution, that they do not 
so much as notitce it, accommodating as much as pos- 
sible the form of the tenses to the subject and context, 
anA explaining it rather aocording to their own opin- 
ions, than according to the rules of grammar, or any 
fixed and established principles. If again we apply to 
the grammarians, we shall still find ourselves no less at 
a loss ; they, indeed, remark the circumstance, but they 
neither explain the reason of it, nor yet are candid e- 
nough to make a fair confession of their own ignorance» 
They endeavour to confuse their disciples by the use of 
a Greek term, and have always at hand a sort of inex- 
plicable and mysterious enattege or change of the tenses^ 
with which, rather than say nothing, they attemfit td 
evade a closer inquiry ; as if the change were made by 
accident, and from no principle or motive : than which 
nothing can be conceived more absurd or impertbent.^ 

• I have no inclaui^oii to eontndact our author is Uris Mtcrtioo. The 
t jMHwmgtbq»coatiat with dafending thi> phrntolpay ao m 


That these apparent anomalies, however, are not without 
their peculiar force and beauty, I have not a doubt ; 
that many of them should cause difficulty and obscurity^ 
considering the great antiquity of the Hebrew ianguage, 
b not to be wondered at. Some light may notwith- 
standing be reflected upon the subject, by a careful at- 
tention to the state of the writer's mind, and by consid* 
a*ing properly what ideas were likely to be prevalent ia. 
hb imagination at the time of hb writing. There b a 
remarkable instance of thb form of construction in that 
very song of Moses, to which we have just been allud- 
ing. After mentioning the divine dbpensation, by 
which the Israelites were distinguished as the chosen 
people of God, he proceeds to state with what love and 
tenderness the Almighty had cherished them, from the 

ciullege, Init have distinguished it by the name of the pruphUU preterite. 
They might as well hare called it the prophetic preweni, sincet as the Hehrev 
language wantp th^ piruent tetue, the past is always substituted in its roMn. 
But howeTer they may chuse to distinguish it, whether as a prophetic 
present or a prophetic preterite, it is by no means unusual in the more 
i^odeni langUAges. Thus in Engl'iah the author of a poem called Manners : 
** Rapt into thought, lo ! I Britannia see 
*' Rising superior o'er the subject sea : 
** And h^ gay pendants spread their silken wings 
** Big with the fate of empires and of kings.** 

Thus the Sybil in Virgil : " 

' ** in regna Larini 

** Dardanids veniens.** M. 

If the learned professor had been very convenant in ottf poetry, lie 
might haye found many more striking examples than that which he has 
quoted, and particularly in the poems of Mr Gray. Indeed this is by no 
means a &Tourable specimen of Bnglisk poetry.— Am and aea is no rhyme* 
being exactly the same sound.— .« The gay pendanU, and silken wings big 
with the fate of empires," 8ic. is a false metaphor : if we even overlook the 
plagiarism^" Big -with theftUe of Cato and of Rome.** 

For the information of modem writera, who may chuse to make use of 
this bold figure, I will add a remark, that it if never to be mtroduced, but 
when the mind as sufficiently warm not to perceive the illusion. The 
secne must b» so intctcsting that the leader cannot help venlismg it T. 

^BGT. 15. ULF1BB8CON. 809 

time in which he brou^t them from Egypt, led them 
.by the hand throagh the wilderness, and, as it were, 
carried diem in hb bosom: all these, though past 
e?entB, are expressed in the future tense : 

' •« He will find biiti in a desert Isod, 
<« In ihe vast and howling wilderness t 
« He will lead him about, he will instruct him ; 
« He will keep him as the pupil of his eye."** 

You will readily judge whetlier this passage can admit 
of any other explication, than that of Moses's supposing 
himself present at the time when the Almighty selected 
the people of Israel for himself; and thence, as from an 
eminence, contemplating the consequences of that dis- 
pensation. The case will be found similar in many 
other passages ; as, in particular, more than once in that 
historical psalm, which is inscribed with the name of 
Asaph. After the prophet has exposed the perfidy of 
the people, their refractory conduct almost in the very 
crisis of their deliverance from the Egyptian bondage, 
he in a manner anticipates in his mind the clemency of 
God, and the repeated transgressions of the Israelitesi 
and speaks of them as future events : 
«^ But 'be, moved with compassioo, will pardon their iniquity, and 

«* will not destroy them ; 
« And frequently will turn away his wrath, 

«Nor will stir up all his indignation. 

« How often will they rebel agunst him in the desert, 
« And w)ll grieve him in the wiidemes !"i> 

M DsuT. xJoiL 10. ** la the Saxab. copy we read u follows : 


«That is. He rtitt evmfvrt Umin the Umd of the deteri, and in refeieiitg» he 
** wiU plenttfitlfy mtiAfi him : this reading ia mentioned only thjit it may 
^ be compared and examined with the Hebrew.** H. See HouBiMirv in 
loc Author*» Jf9te. 
u PsAi. Ixzyiii. 3Q, 40. / 


3 10 SUHLIMiTY OP LscT. 15^ 

The general dispo^ion and armngemient of the hundred 
and fourth Psalm affords a most elegant exemplificaticm 
of this constniction. For the prophet, instwcing the 
greatness and wisdom of God in the constitution and 
preservation of the outural world, speaks of the actions 
and decrees of the Almighty in the present tense, as if 
he himself had been a witness when they were brought 
to light ; and displays their consequences and uses, and 
what are called the final causes, in the future tense, astf 
lookmg forward from' the beginning through all future 

But although these and some other passages will ad* 
mit of this explanation, there are many to which it wiH 
not apply. In these the situation and state of the au- 
thors are not so much to be considered, as the peculiar 
nature or idiom of the language. For the Hebrews fire, 
quently make use of the future tense in such a manner, 
that it appears not to have relation to the present speak- 
er, but to the person or thing which was last spoken of! 
Thus when any action is connected with another action^^ 
or consequent to it ; or when the same action is repeat- 
ed or continued, when a person perseveres in the same 
action, or performs it with great eamestnes^or assiduity, 
this is all expressed as if it were future.^ This form is 
therefore distinguished by the grammarians by the ap- 
pellation Gnatklf which is equivalent to. prompt, expe* 
dite, or impending. Examples enough to this purpose 
might be produced from the passages which have been 
referred to on former occasions : for instance, from that 
most elegant prosopopoeia of the mother of Sisera;^ 
fit>in the allegory of the vine, which was brought out 
of Egypt ;" from the comparison founded on the ma- 
tt sec 2 Sam. xii.3. » Jvwi. r, 29. ^4 pgA&. Ixzx. 9, 1% 14. 


ternal piety and solicitude of the eagle ;^ the form and 
manner of aU which may be easily perceived by an at- 
tentive reader, but cannot be well explained by the most 
industrious commentator.'* 

Now, i^ as I have stated, this unusual form of con- 
struction be the eflfect either of some sudden emotion in 
the speaker, of some new and extraordinary state of 
mind ; or if, on any other account, frpm the relation of 
the subject, or, the genius of the language, it be possess-, 
cd of some peculiar force or energy ; it will obviously 
follow, that it must more frequently occur in poetry than 
in prose, since it is particularly adapted to the nature, 
the versatility, and variety of the former, and to the ex- 
pression of any violent passion ; and since it has but lit- 
tle affinity to that mildness and temperance of language, 

u Dkct. xxxiL 11. 

10 I ao widely diflTer from our author, that I have very little doubt of ' 
wukini^ this matter, as far as it aeeessary to understand his meanxn|^, per* 
fectly intelligible to the Eniplish reader, by merely exhibiting the passages 
in question, and comparing the literal with our common translation. In 
June. T. 29, our version roads, ** Her wise ladies answer her ; yea, she re- 
" turned answer to herself.'* In the original it is, ** Her wise ladies wUl 
** answer her ; yea, she vdU return answer to herself In Psal. Ixxz. 8, 
oor translation is» ** Thou broughtest a vine,** &c. In the original, ** Thou 
** -mU bring a vine," &c, ^ thou -wiU cast out," &c. In Dxur. xxxii. 11, 
oor Bible reads, ** As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth orer her 
** young, spreadeth her wings," &c. In the original it is, ** As the eagle 
mil stir up, rriU flutter, wiU spread her wings," Sec It is not uncommon in 
vulgar language even in this, country, and particularly the northern part» . 
of it, when an action b deacribed in the general, ,as in the above allusion 
of the eagle, to use the future tense ; and if that very passage had been 
literaUy translated, thd fiorapariaon would b«re been equally intelligible to 
our common people. But, I must confess, there is after all a most licen^ 
tious use of the different tenses prevalent in the Hebrew language, which 
to us, who are uiucquainted with the principles of it, creates strange cgnfu- 
sion, and obliges us commonly to have recourse to the context, and the 
apparent design of the passage. Nor do all these very ingenious hypoth- 
eses of our author entirely remove the difficulty ; or explain the principles 
•f fhis form of construction to my satisfaction. T, 

313 SUBLIMITY, &c LxcT. is. 

i^hich proceeds in one uniform and even tenour. Thus 
if we attend diligently to the poetry of the Hebrews, and 
carefully remark its peculiar characteristics, we shall 
hardly find any circumstance, the regular and artificial 
conformation of the sentences excepted, which more evi- 
dently distinguishes it from the style of prose composi- 
tion, than the singularity which is now under considera- 
tion. For though it be allowed, that this idiom is not 
8D entirely inconsistent with prose, but that a few ex- 
amples of it might be produced,'^ on the whole I am 
convinced, that the free and frequent use of it may be 
accounted as the certain characteristic of poetry. 

That the full force of these and other peculiarities, 
which serve to distinguish the poetical diction of the 
Hebrews, and to preserve that sublimity and splendour 
for which it is so remarkable, should be fully apparent 
from a few examples, is hardly to be expected; nor did 
I flatter myself with any such expectation, when I en- 
tered upon this part of my subject. My intention was 
only to produce an instance or two, which were most 
likely to occur to those who enter upon this course of 
reading, and whidi appeared to demand particular at- 
tention. The perfect character and genius, the whole 
form, principles, and nature of the poetical diction and 
ornaments, can neither be comprehended in any minute 
or artificial precepts whatever, ncHr perhaps be reduced 
altogether to rule and method : the complete knowledge 
and perception of these are only to be attamed by read- 
ing and investigation, united with acuteness of judge- 
ment and delicacy of taste. 

^7 Hitherto I have only met with the Ibllowtn^ : Judo. ii. 1. (lee however 
HouBieASTT in loc.) and xxi. 25 1 Sam. xxvii. 9, 11. 2 Sax. xii. 31. 1 
KiHGs xxi. 6. 1 Chboit. xi. 8. See also Pstxks on Job, page 202. 



Sublimity of sentiment arises, either from elevation of mind, or from some 
▼ebement passion ; in each, it is either natural, or the efl^ of divine in* 
apffaticm-JSleYation of mind is displayed in the gteatneis of the subject» 
the adjuncts, and thfe imagery— Examples from the descriptions of the 
Divine Majesty; of the works and attributes of the Deity ; also from 
the^display of the. ttvaie n9wer in the form of Intervogation and Irony^ 
The Hebrew poets attribute the human passions to the Deity without de- 
parting^ from sublimity ; and that frequently when the imagery appears 
least oonaistent with the Divine Majesty : the reason of this. 

JLf we consider the very intimate connection^ which on 
aB occasions subsists between sentiment and language, 
if will perhaps appear, that the peculiar quality, erf* which 
we have just been treating, under the title of Sublimity 
of Expression, might ultimately be referred to that of 
Sentiment. In the strictest sense, however. Sublimity 
of Sentiment may be accounted a distinct quality, and 
may be said to proceed, eidier firora a certain elevation 
of mind, and a happy boldness of conception ; or from 
a strong impulse of the soul, when agitated by the more 
violent afirctions. The one is cabled by Long^nus 
Grandeur of Conception^ the other Fehemence or -E«. 
thusiasm of Passion. To each of these we must have 
recourse in the present disquisition, and in applying 
them to the sacred poets, I shall endeavour to detract 
nothing from the dignity of that inspiration, which pro- 
ceeds from higher causes, while I allow to the genius of 
each Mrriter hia own peculiar excellence and accomplish- 

aU SUBLIMITY OP L»ct. 16. 

ments. I am indeed of opinion, that the Divine Spirit 
by no means takes such an entire possession of the mind 
of the prophet, as to subdue or extinguish the character 
and genius of the man : the natural powers of the mind 
are in general elevated and refined, they are neither erad- 
icated nor totally obscured ; and thoughUhe writings of 
Moses, of David, and of Isaiah, always bear the marks 
of a divine and celestial impulse, we may nevertheless 
plainly discover in them the particular characters of 
their respective authors. 

That species of the sublime, which proceeds from a 
boldness of spirit, and an elevation of the soul, whether 
inherent in the author, or derived from a divine impulse 
and inspiration, is displayed first in the greatness and 
sublimity of the subject itself^ secondly» in the choice 
of the adjuncts or circumstances (by the importance and 
magnitude of which a degree of force and elevatioB is 
added to the description and lastly, in the ^lendour 
and magnificence of the ilhagery, by which the whole is 
illustrated. In all these the Hebrew writers have ob- 
tained an unrivalled pre-eminence. As far as respects 
the dignity and importance of the subject» they not oply 
surpass all other writers, but even exceed the confines 
of human genius and intellect.. The greatness, the pow- 
er, the justice, the immensity of God ; the infinite wis- 
dom of his works and of his dispeosations» are the sub- 
jects in which the Hebrew poetry is always conversant, 
and always excels. If we only consider with a common 
degree of candour how greatly inferior the poetry of all 
other nations appears, whenever it presumes to treat of 
these subjects ; and how unequal to the dignity of the 
matter the highest conceptions of the human genius are 
found to be ; we shall, 1 think, not only acknowledge 
the sublimity, but the divinity of that of the Hebrjews* 

Lb^t* U. sentiment. tits 

Nor dbes this grea1»iess and elevation consist altogether 
In the subjects and sentiments, which, however express- 
ed, wouM yet ret&in some pirt at least of their native 
force and dignity, but the tnanner in whieh these lofty 
ide^s are arranged, and the embellishments of descrip- 
^tion with which they aboufid, claim our wartnest admi- 
fation : and this, whether^ we regard the adjuncts or cir- 
cumstances, which are selected with so much judgement 
as uniformly to contribute to the sublimity of the prin- 
cipal subject ; or the amplitude of that imagery, which 
represents objects the most remote from human appre- 
hension in such enchanting colonrs, that,' although de- 
based by human painting, they still retain their genuine 
sanctity and excellence. Since, therefore, the sublimity 
of the sacred poets has been already exemplified in a va- 
riety of instances, it will probably be sufficient, in addi- 
tion to these, to produce a few examples as illustrations 
of these remarks, chiefly taken from those parts of Scrip. 
ture, in which a delineation of the Divine Majesty is at- 

In the first place then let me recal to your remem- 
brance the solemnity and magnificence with which the . 
power of God in the creation of the universe is depict- 
ed. And here, I cannot possibly overlook that passage 
of the sacred historian, which has been so frequently 
commended, in which the importance of the circum- 
stance and the greatness of the idea (the human mind 
cannot indeed well conceive a greater) is no less remark- 
able than the expressive brevity and simplicity of thd 
hnguage : — '* And God said, Let there be light, and 
•• there was light."* The more word» you would ac- 
cumulate upon this thought, the more you would de^ 

1 Gen. i. 1 

946 SUBLlftHTy OF Lmt. 16. 

tract from the subUmitjr qC k : for the itodenrtandiiig 
quickly comprehends tbe Divine power from the €&ct, 
and perhaps most completely, when it is not attempted 
.to be explained ; the perception in that ease is the mone 
vivid, inasinuch as it seems to proceed from the proper 
act'ion and energy of the mind itself. The pro[rf)(^ 
have also depicted the same conception in poetieal lan- 
jgut^ge, and with no less force and magkiificence of ck- 
pression. . The whole creation is summoned cforth tlD 
^lebrate the praise of the Almighty : 

a ijit tbem praise tbe name of Jbhotab ; 

(( For he commanded, and they were cjceated/'* 

And in another place : 

<( For he spoke, and k ims ; 

^ He commanded, and it stood £ist''^ 

The same subject is frequently tvented more diffusely, 
many circumstances being added, find a variety (Of iai- 
agery introduced for the purpose of illustration. Wheth.. 
er this be executed in a manner suitable to the .great» 
ness and dignity of the subject, may be easily deter- 
mined by a few exan^ples : 

«( Where wast thou when I laid the foimdadoaa of the earth ? 
«< If thou hnowest, decljsre. 

*< Say, who fixed the proportions of it) for surelf thou knowest i 
<i Or who stretched out the line upon It ? 
^ Upon what were its foundations fixed ? 
H Or who laid the corner-stone thereof} 
M When the morning stars sung together, 
<< And all the sons of God shouted for joy. 
" When the sea was shut up with doors» 
« When it burst furth as an infant that cometh out of the womb. 
« When I placed the cloud for its robe, 
« And thick darkness for iu swaddling-baod. 
<< When I fixed my boundary against it| 
<i When 1 placed a bar and gates. 

s PsAX» cxlviiL 5. * Psal. zzziiL 9. 

Lsrtr. U. tBNTIMENT. 2tf 

^ Wbei^ I md» Tbup frr shalt thou cooKb «n^ imK «dvance, 

" Aod bere shail « »top be put to the prid<B cif thy waves. '^^ 

<^ Who hath measured the waters in tbe hollow of his hand ; 

«« And hath meted out the heavens by his span ; 

** And hath comprehended the dust of the earth in a tiercei 

** And hath wei)|;hed in scales the mountains, and the hills, in a 

» balance ? 
M Lift up you^^yes on high ; 
^ And see who hath created diese. 
•< He draweth forth their armies by titmiber ; 
M Hie calleih them e^cb by iu name : ... 

^ Through the greatness of his streogtbi and the mightiness of Jiis 

"power, • ^. 

^ Not one of tl>em faileth to appear/*' 

In these examples, the power and wisdom of the De* 
ky^ as demonstrated in the constitution and government 
of the pattiral world, you see have suggested a variety 
of circumstances, a splendid assemblage of imagery, of 
which it is a sufficient commendation to say, the whole 
is not unworthy the greatness of the subject. The ease 
is, however, materially different, when the attributes of 
God are considered in themselves simply and abstract* 
edly, with no illustration or amplification from their op- 
erations ami effects. Here the human mind b absorb*^ 
ed, overwhelmed as it were in a boundless vortex, and 
studies in vain for an expedient to extricate itself. But 
the greatness of the subject may be justly estimated by 
its difficulty ; and while the imagination labours to com- 
prehend what i^ beyond its powers, this very labour It- 
self, and these ineffectual endeavours, sufficiently de« 
monstrate the immensity and sublimity of the object. 
On this account the following passage is truly sublime. 
Here the mind seems to exert its utmost faculties in 
vain to grasp an object, whose unparalleled magnitude 
mocks its feeble endeavours ; and to this end it em- 

4 Job xxxriil 4-Xl. ' 19 and 36. 


Sia^ SUBLIMITY OF L«ct. 1«^ 

ploys the grandest imagery thtit universal nature can 
suggest, and yet this imagery, however great, proves 
totally inadequate to the purpose : 

" O Jehovah, thy mercy t>«tend<eth to the heavens ; 

»* Thy truth unto the clouds r 

<« Thy justice is as the mountains of strength ; 

« Thy judgement as the vast abyss t"* 

But nothing of this kind is nobler or more majestic^ 
than when a description is carried on by a kind of con- 
tinued negation ; when a number of great and sublime 
ideas are collected, which, on a comparison with the ob- 
ject, are found infinitely inferior and inadequate. Thus 
the boundaries are gradually extended on every side, 
and at length totally removed ; the mind is insensibly 
led on towards infinity, and is struck with inexpressible 
admiration, with a pleasing awe, when it first finds itself 
f e xpatiating in that immense expanse. There are many 
such examples in the sacred poetry, one or two of which, 
will probably enable you to recollect the rest. 

M Canst thou explore the deep counsels of God, 

<< Canst thou fathom the immensity of the Almighty ? 

*< It is higher than heaven, what canst thou do ? 

<« It is deeper than the abyss, what eanst thou know f 

^ The measure thereof is longer than the earth, 

M And broader thaa the expanse of the sea.**^ 

^ Whither shall I go from thy spirit ? 

<« And whither shall I flee from thy presence ? 

M If I ascend the heavens, thou art there ; 
' << If I make my bed in the abyss, behold thou art there f 

« If I take the wings of the morning, 

« And dwell ki the extreme parts of the ocean ; 

M There also thy hand shall lead met 

<« And thy right hand &haU hold me."* 

s.Pmim xxzvl 6^7» r Job xL 7—9. 

• PBAt. czxziz. 7—10. I am not perfectly satisfied with the conunonly 
received inter|yf«Uf ioa oftbe 9th verse ; as expressive of the contintial mo» 
tiitn from Bast to Westfluid the velocity of the ttotion complied with tbst 

later. 16. SENTIMENT. 1t\3 

Here we find the idea of Infinity perfectly «xpressed^ 
though it be perhaps the most difficult of all ideas to 
impress upon the mind: for when simply and abstract- 
edly mentioned, without the assistance and iHustration 
of any circumstances whatever, it almost whfdiy evades 
the power of the human understandii^ The sacred 
writers have, therefore, recourse to description, amplifi- 
cation, and imagery, by which they give substance and 
solklity to what is in itself a subtile and unsubstantial 
phantom ; and render an ideal shadow the object of our 
senses. They conduct us thrmigh aM the dimensions 
of space, length, breadth, and height : these they do no| 
describe in general or indefinite terms ; they apply to 
them an actual line and measure, and that the most ex* 
tensive which all nature can supply, or which the mind 

of the «iin's rays. I look upon the two Unet of this diitich lo be in contrast 
or opposition to each other, and not that the Latter is a ^consequence of the 
fcrmer s and this I think is so appwent from the very construction of th$^ 
stetences, that there cannot remain a doubt concerning it : Thus there is a 
double transition spoken of, towards the East» and again towards the West; 
and the length of the flight, and not tiie Telocity of the motion, is the ob- 
ject of amplification. Thus Thuoboket upon this passage, ** He calls the 
** East the Maming', and the West, the extreme part» of the Sea.- to height 
** and depth ho^jfyposes breadth iu»d lengthy describing and evinciiig the 
^ infinity of the Divine Being.** 

** The author of a very useful collection of Jewish commentaries, the 
^ title of whieh it JIBcM /ephe, says, this phrate. If J take thevfing» ofths 
" sJltermngt should be understood as a common Oriental phrase for depart^ 
**ure or JHght to-war de the Eaet. These are his words. If I take the -minfft 
'* ef the Momingt and fly vdth them / i, e. If I go to the extremity of the 
«« Eaet. H. ^vtker^e JfT^te. 

I cannot afta^r all give up the h^utiful allegory of taking the vingi (the 
speed, the jiwiftoess) of the Mormng. It is so much more poetical, so much 
more agreeable to tha character and genius of the Hebrew poetry, that I 
reluctanUy dHFer from our atithor, and retain the old interpretation. The 
passage is, on the whole, the most beaUtifiil instance of the sublime, with- 
out any mixture of the terrific, with no images but the placid and tender, 
that is any where to be found. But its greatest ezcelleBce is, that it is no 
)ess philosophical than poetical ; no less useful for the great truth which 
|t inculc^ites, than pleasing for the maiinf;^ in which that trgith is conveyed. 

• T 

2«0 SUBLIMITY OF Lsct. U. 

16 ind^d able to comprehend. Wheh tlie intelleet is 
carried beyond these limits, there is nothing substantial 
upon which ft can resi ; it wanders through eveiy part^ 
atid when it has compassed the boundaries of creation, 
h imperceptibly glides into the void of inftMy : whose 
vast and formless extent, when displayed to the mind of 
man in ihe forcible manner so happily attained by the 
Hebrew l¥rifcA-9, impresses it widi the soblimest and 
most awful sensationsi and fills it with a mixture of ad*»- 
ftiiratioh and terror* 

That tncfre vehement species of negation or affirma* 
tion, which assumes the confident fiirm of inteirogation» 
h admirably calculated to impress the mind with a ver^r 
forcible idea of the Divine poweK This also frequent» 
ly occurs in the saci^d poetry : 

^ This is the decree which is determined in the vhole earth ; 
«* And this the hand, which is stretched out over all the nations : 
<< For Jehovah God of Hosts hath decreed f and who ^hali dis» 

«« sDnuI it ? 
«^ And it is his hand, that is stretched out ; and wlio shall turn if, 

" back ?» 

<^ Hath he said, and^will he nut do it ? 

'< Hath he spoken, and will he not establish it ?!• 

>Ior is that ironical kind of concession, which is some*, 
times put into the mouth of the Supreme Being, less 
energetic ; the following passage is an admirable in* 

<' Deck thyself now with majesty and with pride ; 

" And array thyself in glory and honour : 

^ Pout out on every side the furiousness of thy wrath ; 

^*' \Vi\h a glance humble every one that is proud : 

«' Look upon, every proud thing, and subvert it ; 

<« And trample down the wicked m their place i 

^ Overwhehn them also in dust ; 

u Bind up their facet, and plunge them into darkness. 

9 IsAi. xiv. 26, 27. » NuxB. xxiii. 19. 

Lft«T> If. SENTIMENT. :3gl 

« TbM will •¥«» I confess unto thee» 

<< That UuDC own right baniL oMy save thee.i^ 

When the Divine Omnipotence is opposed to human 
infirantj, the one is propoitionably nisgnificd as the 
other is difflfaiiahed by the contrast. The monstrous 
absurdity of a comparison between things extremely 
unequal, the more forcibly serves to demoiH>trate that 
inequality, and sets them at an infinite distance from 
eachotlier* «^ 

Since, however, the sacred poets were under the ne- 
cesaity of speaking of God in a manner adapted to hu- 
man conceptions, and of attributing to him the actions^ 
die passions, the fiiculties of man ; how can they be 
slippoaed ever to have depicted the Divine Majesty m 
terms at all becoming the greatness of the subject ? 
And are diey not in this case more likely to disgrace 
and degrade it ? May not that censure be applied to 
them, which Longinus so deservedly applies to Homer, 
that he turned his gods into men, and even debased 
them beneath the standard of humanity ?«— The case is, 
however, materially di&rent: Homer, and the other 
heathen poets, relate facts of their deities, which, though 
impious and absurd, when literally understood, are 
scarcely, or at aU intelligible in an allegorical sense, and 
can by no means be reduced to an interpretation strictly 
figurative.^ On the contrary, in the delineation of the 

i| Jos zl. 10—14. Can any one» who has duly ooiuidered the history of 
Nfanrod) the first xevolter against God and founder of idolatry, and the 
signal overthrow of his stupendous tower, with the di^>er8ion that imme- 
diately ensued — afWr well weighmg the characteristic topics of allusion in 
the Hebrew poetry (as briefly pointed out in the ixth Lecture) and th^ 
orii^al of this passage from the 6th verse — entertain a doubt to what the 
figurative terpis here used were meant to allude ^—1 should think it scarce* 
ly possible. See A DistertaHon on the Fauage» m St. Peter and St. Jude 
peneendng' the 0mgel that ektned. S. U. 

19 See Fabbvc, BUUeth. Orec. L. v. c. 26. Vol. viii. p. 526. 

332 SUBLIMITY OF Lxer. 1«. 

' Divine nature, the sacred poets do indeed, in conformi- 
ty to the weakness of the human understanding, employ 
terrestrial imagery ; but it is in such a manner, that the 
attributes which are borrowed from human nature and 
human action, can never in a literal sense be applied to 
the Divinity. The understanding is continually refer- 
ed from the shadow to the reality ; nor can it restt satis* 
fied with the bare literal application, but is naturally di* 
rected to investigate that quality in the Divine nature, 
which appears to be analogous to the image. Thb, if 
I am not mistaken, will supply us with a reason not 
very obvious, of a very observable effect in the Hebrew 
writings, namely, why, among those sensible images 
that are applied to the Deity, those principally, which 
in a literal sense would seem most remote from the ob- 

. ject, and most unworthy of the Divine Majesty, are 
nevertheless, when used metaphorically, or in the way 
of comparison, by far the most sublime. That image- 
ry, for instance, which is taken from the parts and 
member^ of the human body, is found to be much no* 
bier and more magnificent in its effect, than that which 
is taken from the passions of the mind ; and that, which 
is taken from the animal creation, frequently exceeds in 
sublimity that which the nature of man has suggested. 
For such is our ignorance and blindness in contemplat- 
ing the Divine nature, that we can by no means attain 
to a simple and pure idea of it : we necessarily mingle 

^ something of the human with the divine : the grosser 
animal properties, therefore, we easily distinguish and 
separate, but it is with the utmost difficulty that we can 
preserve the rational, and even some of the properties of 
the sensitive, soul perfectly distirtct. Hence it is, that 
in those figurative expressions derived from the nobler 
and more excellent qualities of human nature, when ap- 


Iact. Itf* SEMTIMKNT. n$ 

plied to the Almighty, we frequently acquiesce, as if 
they were in strict literal propriety to be attributed to 
him : on the contrary, our understanding immediately 
rejects the literal sense of those which seeth quite in« 
consistent with the Divine Being, and derived from an 
ignoble source,: and, while it pursues the analogy, it 
constantly rises to a contemplation, which, though ob- 
scure, i^ yet grand and magnificent. Let us observe, 
whether this observation will apply to the following pas- 
sages, in which the psalmist ascribes to God the resent- 
ment commonly experienced by a human creature for 
an injury unexpectedly received : there appears in the 
image nothing to excite our admiration, nothing par- 
ticularly sublime : 

9* The Lord heard, and he was enraged $ 
^ And Israel be uuerly rejected."» 

But when, a litde after, the same subject is depicted ia 
figurative terms, derived from much grosser objects, and 
applied in a still more daring manner, nothing can be 
mare sublime : 

<< And the Lord awaked, as out of sleep, 

^ Like a strong man shouting because of wine.**^^ 

On the same principle the sublimity of those passaged 
b founded, in which the image is taken from the roaring 
of a lion, the clamour of rustic labourers, and the rag; 
ef wild beasts : 

** Jbroyah from on high shall roar, 

^ And from his bolj habitation shall he utter hia voice ; 

^ He shall roar aloud against his resting-place, 

^ A shout like that of the vinugers shaU he give 

« Against aU the inhabitanU of the earth."^ ^ 

<< And I will be unto them as a lion ; 

•* As a leopard in the way wiU I watch them r 

u PiAs. IzxTiiL 59. *• PsA&x Ixsriil 65; ^ Jn. axv. 30. 

au SUBLIMITY 0P, Sec. JLbot. l^ 

» I will meet them m e bear bene«¥ed pf )w whelfas 

« And I will vend the caul of their heart s 
« And there will I devour them as a lioness ; 
M A beast of the field shall tear them.**'* 

From ideas, which in themselves appear coarse, unsuit- 
able, and totally unworthy of $o great an object, the mind 
naturally recedes, and passes suddenly to the contem- 
plation of the object itself, and of its inherent magnitude 
and importance. 
» Hoi. xiu. 7, a. 



Stibljini^ of aenthnent t^ «rismg from the vehement affectiona of thenllind 
— ^What is commonly called Enthusiasm is the natural effect of passion;. 
'Oe trae Enthusiasm arises from the impulse of the Dhrine Spirit, and is 
peculiar to the sacred poet»— The principal force of poetry is displayed 
in the expression of passion : in exciting the passions poetry best at^ 
ehieves its purpose, whether it be utility or pleasure-*How the passioM 
•re excited to the purpose of utility i how to that of pleasure— The dif- 
ference and connection between the pathetic and the sublime— Thatsub- 
limity, which in the sacred poetry proceeds from the imitation of the 
passions of admiration, of joy, indignation, grief, and terror s illustrated 
by examples. 

TT H have agreed with Longinus, that a violent agita- 
tion of the mind, or impetuosity of passion, constitutes 
another source <^ the sublime : he calls it ^* the vehe- 
** menoe and enthusiasm of passion*'* It will be prop* 
er, therefore, in the next place, to consider tlie nature 
of this enthusiasm ; the principles on which the power* 
of exciting or of imitating the passions in poetry may be 
supposed to depend ; and what affinity subsists between 
passicm and sublimity. 

The language of poetry I have more than once des- 
cribed as t he eflfec t <rf jncntal emotion. Poetry itself is J^ 
indebted for its origin, character, complexion, emphasis, 
and application, to the effects which are produced upon 
the mind and body, upon the imagination, the senses, 
the voice, and respiration by the agitation of passion. "^/ 
Every afiecticm of the human soul» while it rages with 



3» THE SUBUMK hm^t. ir. 

^ vi^gwe , M a mome ntery phrenzy. When dierefore » 
poet isable by the force of genius, or rather of imagina- 
tion, to conceive any emotion of the mind so perfectlj 

Cas to traiK&r to hi» own feelings the in^inctive pasuoa 
, ©f another, and, agreeaUy to the nature of the sutgec^ 
to express it in aQ its vigpur, such a one» acconling to 
a common mode of speaking, may be said to possess 
the true poetic enthusiasm,' or,, as the ancients would 
have expressed it, " to be inspired ; fuU of the God :»»• 
not however implying, that their ardour of mind wa» 
imparted by the gods, but dkt this extuic impuls e be- 
"^ came the God of the moment.* 

This species of enthusiasm I should distinguish by 
the term natural^ wese it not that I ahouldaeem to con- 
nect things whid» are reaHy dtfibent, and repugnant to 
each other ; the true and genuuie enthushsm, that which^ 
alone is deserving of the name, that I mean with which 
the sublimer poetry of the Hebrews, and particulariy the 
prophetic, is animated, b ceitainly widely diflbent m its 
natitre„and boast».a raHcfa' briber origin. 

Aa poetry,- however, derives its v«ry existence fion» 
the more vehement emotions of the aund,.so^its greatest 
energy is displayed ittthc expression of them ; and by 
exciting die passions itmore efieotuaUy attains its end. 
V Poetry b said to consist in i mitatio n : whatever the 
human mind is able to conceive, it b the provinoe of 
poetry to igutatc ; things, places,, appearances nanual^ 
and artificial, actions, passions, manners and ousttMis ; 
and since the human intellect is naturally delighted mth 
every species of imiution, Uwt species in particular, 

t A*m*nt «pi«Me* k /um^ (imwe.) Pmto u,^». (out of tlieir com- 
mon lenae*,) irfw (uupired by ,. God,) »aww{Ml« (i-nUi««ii«tic.) 

* NUu* ait. Dine bpnc «rdoreai mentibtt* iddiint, 

Buiyale .' an sua cuique dcu» fit dira ctq>ido > JEneid. 'a. \»L OP PASSION. TIT 

wMeh exhibits its own image» which tSisphys and de- 
picts those impulses, inflections, perturbations, and se- 
cret emotions, which it perceives and knows in itself, 
can scarcely fa3 to astomsh and to delight above every 
other. The delicacy and difficulty of this kind of imi-^^ 
tation are among its principal commendations ; for to / 
effirct that which appears almost impossible naturally ex*' 
cites our admiration. The understanding slowly per- 
ceives the accuracy of the description in all other sub- 
jects, and their agreement to their archeQrprs, as being 
obliged to compare them by the aid and through the un- 
certain medium, as it were, of the memory : but when 
a passion is expressed, Ae object is clear and distinct at 
once ; the mind is immediately conscious of itself and 
its own emotions ; tit feels and sufiers in itself a sensation, 
either the same or similar to that which is described. 
Hence diat siiUimity, which arises from the vehement 
agitation of the passions, and the imitation of them, pos- 
sesses a superior influence over the human mind ; what- 
ever is exhibited to it from witfiout, may well be sup- 
posed to move and agitate it less than what it internally 
perceives, of the mi^itude and fotct of which it is pre- 
viously conscious. 

\ And as the imitation or delineation of the passiops is 
the most perfect production of poetry, so by exciting A 
them it most comfdetely effects its purpose. The intent 
of poetry is to profit while it entertains us ; and the agi- 
tation of the paanons, by the force of imitation, is in the 
highest d^;ree both useful and pleasant 

This method of exciting the passions is yi the first 
place useful, ^en properly and lawfully exercise d ; that 7 
b, when these passions are di rected to their proper end» 
and rendered s ubservien t to the dictates of nature and 
trudi ; when an avcr^on to evil, and a love of goodness 

9SS THE SUBLTME Lscx. 17. 

is excited ; and if the poet deviate on my occaaion from 
, this great end and aim, he is guilty of a most scandalous 
^^abuse and perversicm of his art« For the passions and 
affections are the elements and principles of human ac- 
tion ; they arc ail in themselves good, useful» and virtu* 
ous ; and, when fairly and naturally employed, not only 
lead to useful ends and purposes, but actually prompt 
and stimulate to virtue. It is the office of poetry to in* 
cite, to direct, to temper the passions, and not to extui* 
guish them. It pr desscs to exer cise, to amend, to dis* 
cipline the affections ; it is this which is strictly meant 
by Aristotle, when he speaks of the pruning of the 
passioMf though certain cofmmentators have strangely 
perverted his meaning.' 

But this operation on the pas w os is also more irame-. 
diately useful, because it is productive of pleasure. 
Every emotiqp of the mind, (not eiLcepting even those 
which in themselves are allied to pain) when excited 
through the agency of the imitative arts, is ever accom- 
panied with an exquisite sensation of pleasure. Thia 
arises partly from the contemplation of the imitation it- 
self ; partly from the consciousness of our own felicity, 
when compared with the miseries of others ; but princi- 
7 pally /rom th e moral sense/ Nature has endued man 
with a certain social and generous spirit; and commands 

9 1 think nothing; can well be more ridieuloos than the establiahed method 
of renderii^ ifahiftalm KAOAPXIN, the clean$ing or purging of the patnoM' 
Why should a seconaary, or adventitious sense of a word be adopted, un- 
less its primary si^ification be incompatible with the context !^-4h the 
eommon version of Jobn xt. % tmBtufu^ a word ^m the same sotiice with 
luAetfctf. is translated, he fukokth, where it evidently signifies he fevvkth ; 
60 ToAttfULkn wBiBmpatv, instead of the cLKiirsiire or pvacme of the panione^ 
should rather be the CHXCKtire of their exeentve growth^ or vaviriv» their 
luxuriancetf that so they might produce their proper fniita. 8. H. 

< Sec Lord K Alms's ElemenU of Criticiam^ YvL I. ch. ii. Dr. PmiiSTLBT'a 
Zecturet on Oratory, page 137, and Habtut On the Buman Mnd» S !▼• 
prop. 49. T. 

LiCT. ir« XXP PASSION. ttt 

hkm not U> con&ie bis cares to himself alone« but to ex* 
tend them to all his feUow-oreatures ; to look upon noth« 
ing which relates to mankind as fonc^ign to himself. 
Thusi ^* to rejoice with them that do rejoice, and to 
** weep vt'iih th^ro tliat weep ;" tafeveandtorespect piety 
and benevolence ; to cherish and retain an indignant ha- 
tred of cruelty and injustice ; that is, to obey the dictates 
of nature ; is right, is honest, is becoming, is pleasant. 

The sublime and the pathetic are intrinsically very s^^^ 
different ; and yet have in some respects a kind of affin- y^ 
)ty or connection/ The pathetic includes the passions 

f As our author U here treating of that apeciet «f the mMmm, vhich ia 
connected with the pathetic, and in a manner depends upon it ; it may not 
be amiss to consider a little the means of exciting^ thu sensation, vhich 
have been employed by some of the beat writers. 

There are two principal modes of producing this mixed sensation. First, 
when the story or sentiment is suilicieiitly striking of itself» by reducing 
all the circumstances into as narrow a compass as possible, and causing 
them to flash at once upon the mind ; of which Livy's description of the 
death of Lucretia is a fine example : and this appears the most Qstursl, and 
is the surest mode of affecting the passions. The second is, by drawing 
out the description, heaping circumstance on circumstance, and working 
Bp the mind by decrees : this, however, is rarely accomplished with suifi. 
cient taste and caution. If I were called upon to specify another historical 
example, I would refer the reader to the description of Agrippina's return 
after the death of Germanicus, in Tacitus ; or, I might add, the example 
quoted by our author from the song of Ddmrah and Barak, Lect. xiiL The 
French dramatic writers generally fail by attempting this latter mode of 
siTecting the passions ; which is only proper, when there is not force 
«noogh in any single part of a narration i or when a picture cannot be 
drawn in a few words sufficiently explicit. 

Several circumstances, when judiciously introduced^ contribute greatly 
to the pathetic, and consequently to that branch of nUtfifnit^, which is con* 
nected with it. First, When innocent and helpless persons ar^ involved in 
ruin. To introduce an infant on the stage in a tragedy, though a common 
trick, is yet seldom destitute of effect. I must however remark, that if 
therp be many to participate in the misfortune, the society in sorrow seems 
to lessen its wei^^t. Secondly, Absence from friends, or persons other- 
wise very dear : the whole of that inimitable poem, Mr. Pope^» Eloisai, 
^ords a strong exapiple of this, and particularly the following lines : 
— *« No, fly me, fly me, far ss pole from pole ; 
** Rise Alps between us ! and whole oceans roll ! 
" \h ! ^me not, write not, think not once of me." 289. 

%$0 THE SUBLIME Lsot. If. 

which we feel, and those which we excite. Some pas- 

uons may be expressed without any thing of the sub- 

lime ; the sublime also may exist, where no passibn is 

yy directly expressed : there is however no sublimity where 

\^ no passion is excited. That sensation of sublimity» 

Thirdly, Exile : 

" Metkinks we wandering go 
** Thio* dreaiy vutet, and weep each other^s woe» 
** Where round 8€»iiie mouldVing tow'r jNde ivy ereepa, 
** And low-hrow'd rocks hapg nodding o*er Uie deepa.** /NdL %^L 
<< The world was all before them, where to chuae 
** Their place of rest, and Ptoyldence their guide : 
** Thej hand in hand with wand'ring atepa and alow, 
<• Thro' Eden took their aolitary way."* Par, Xatf . xiL 646. 

Fotirthly, A sudden abruption from a atate of enjoymtnt t 

** Now warm in love, now withering in my Uoom» 
** Lost in a convent's solitary gloom ! 
** There stem religion quench'd th' unwilling flame, 
** Then died tboae best of paasions, love and fione.** 

POPB^s Ekua, SiS. 
Language cannot express a nobler union of the pathetic and sublime than 
ia contained in the last line. 
Fithly, The recollection of past happiness u a fine source of the pathetics 
, or happiness that might have been attained, but for some intervening cir* 
'^ cumstance that unexpectedly precludes it On this axe founded some of 
•ur best tragedies. See the Orphan. Also the ^air Penitent, Uft Act, 
Sixthly, Apparent resignation i 

^ Ob grace serene ! Oh virtue heav'nly fur ! 

** Divine oblivion of low-thoughted care ! Cu:. 

^ Enter each mild, each amicable guest» 

** Receive and wrap me in eternal rest !** JVaMO, S9f . T. 

A seventh head may also be added, inattention to self, and solicitude for 
others. -Thus, Lear to Kent : 

^ Pr*ythee, go m thyself; sed^ thine own case 

** Poor naked wretehes, wheresoever you are^ 

** That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, 

*' How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides, 

** Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you 

" From seaaons such aa these f**— / 

And the addreaa of our Savioui^-^ Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for 

^ m^f bttt for younelfte and your children.** 8. H. 

L»cT. 17. OP PASSIOK. »SI 

which arises from the greatness of the thoughts and im- 
agery, has admiration for its basis, and that for the most 
part connected with joy, love, hatred, or fear ; and this 
I think is evident from the instances which were so late- 
ly under our consideration. 

How much the sacred poetry of the Hebrews excels 
in exciting the passions,^ and in directing them to their 
noblest end and aim ; how it exercises them upon their 
proper objects ; how it strikes and fires the admiration 
by the contem^dation of the Divine Majes^ ; and, 
fiDTcing the a&ctions of love, hope, and joy, from un- 
worthy and terrestrial objects, elevates them to the pur- 
suit of the supreme good : How it also stimulates those 
of grief, hatred, and fear, which are usually employed 
upon the trifling miseries of this life to the abhorrence 
of the supreme evil, is a subject, which at present want» 
no illustration, and which, though not unconnected with 
sublimity in a general view, would be improperly in- 
troduced in this place. For we are not at present treat- 
ing of the general effects of sublimity on the passions ; 
but of that species of the sublime which proceeds from 
Tehement emotions of the mind, and from the imitation 
or rejuresentation of passion. 

• The pathetic is so much the preraillng^» or distinguishing^ quality of 
aie Hebrew writings, that I do not hesitate to ascribe much of that supe- 
fiority, which the modems claim in this respect over the Greeks and Ro- 
mans, to the free use which they hare made of scriptural sentiments and 
expressions. The reader will easily be able to satisfy himself on this subject 
ly a cursory inspection of Milton» Pope, and eren some of our l^t traglcr 
writers. Mr. Kvoz has rery judiciously pointed out bow g^reatly Sterne 
has been indebted to them. That an author, indeed, who has borrowed 
ftom others all the tolerable thoughts which are thinly scattered through 
his writings» should resort to- the readiest, and most copious source of pa- 
thetic imagery, is not sutprising^ It is only to be lamented, that he has 
not made the best use of his plagiarisms { that these noble sentiments are 
so strangely disfigured by the insipid frivolity of his style : a style which* 
no classical ear can possibly endure, and which must be conlened toderive 
its principal embellishments from what are called the typQgvapfdcal fig^ 

9» THE SUBLIME Lsct. it. 

Here indeed a spacious field present$ itself to our 
view : for by far the greater part of the sacred poetry is 
little else than a continued imitation of the different pas<- 
sions. What in reality forms the substance and subject 
of most of these poems but the passion of admiration, 
excited by the consideration of the Divine power and 
majesty ; the passion of joy, from the sense of the Di- 
vine favour, and the prosperous issue of events i the 
passion of resentment and indignation against the con* 
temners of God ; of grief, from the consciousness of 
sin ; and terror, from the apprehension of the Divine 
judgement ? Of all these, and if there be any emotions 
of the mind beyond these, exquisite examples may be 
found in the book of Job, in the Psalms, in the Canti- 
cles, and in every part of the prophetic writings. On 
this account my principal difficulty will not be the se- 
lection of excellent and proper instances, but the ex- 
plaining of those which spontaneously occur without a 
considerable diminution of their intrinsic sublimity. 

Admiration, as it is ever the concomitant, so it is 
frequently the efficient cause of sublimity. It produces 
great and magnificent conceptions and sentiments, and 
expresses them in language bold and elevated, in sen- 
tences concise, abrupt, and energetic» 

<< Jehovah reigneth ; let the people tremble ; 

<< He sitteth upoa the cherubim ; let the earth be moved."' 

« The voice of Jbhovab is upon the waten t 

•* The God of glory thunders : 

<< Jehovah is upon the many waters. 

** The voic« of Jehovah is full of power ; 

« The voice of Jehovah is full of majesty.*** 
« Who is like unto thee among the gods, O Jehovah ! 
«< Who is like unto thee, adorable in holiness ! 
<« Fearful in praisea, who workest wonders ! 
« Thou extendest thy right hand ; the earth swalloweth them."* 

f PsAL. xcix. 1. t PsAL. xxix. 3, 4. • Exo». XV. 11, 12. 


Joy is more devated, and exciltd in a bolder strain. 
It produces g;r6at sentiments and conceptions ; seizes 
upon the rirost splendid imagery, and adorns it with the 
most animated language ; nor does it hesitate to risk the 
most daring and unusual figures. In the S<^g of Moses, 
in tte Thanksgiving of Deborah and Barak, what sub* 
limity do We find, in sentiment, in language, in die 
general turn of the expression ! But nothing can excel 
in this respect that noble exultation of dniversal nature 
in the Psalm which has been so often commended, 
where the whole animated and inanimate creation unite 
in the praises of their Maker. Poetry here seems to 
assume the highest tone of triump>h and exultation, and 
to revel, if I may so express myself, in all the extrava- 
gance of joy : 

Tell in high^ harmonious strains. 

Tell the worlds Jehovah reigns I ' 

He, who fram'd this beauteous whole» 

He, who fix'd each planet's place ; 

Who bade unnunaber'd orbs to roll, 

In destin'd course, through endless space- 

Let the glorious heavens rejoice. 

The hills exult wiih grateful voice ; 

Let ocean tell the echoing shore. 

And the hoarse waves with humble voice adore 1 

Let the verdant plains be glad ! 

The trees in blooming fragrance clad ! ' 

Smile with joy, ye desert lands. 

And rushing torrents, clap your bands t 

Let the whole earth with triumph ring. ! 

Let all that live with loud applause 

Jkhovah's matchless praises sing-— ^ 

He comes I He comes ! Heaven's righteous King 1 , . 

To judge the world by Truth's eternal laws.^* 

w PsAUff. xcvi. 10—13. and xcviii. 7—9. 



«ent thaR the representation of anger and indignatioat 
pmkubrly when the divine wrstth is dispk^ed* Of thii 
the whole of the {prophetic song of Moses affords an iik 
comparable speciinea { have formerlgr produced firooi 
k some instances of a di&rent kkid ; nor ought the £4- 
lowing to be deuied.a place in th<;&e Lectures. 

tf For I wiH lift mf hand unto the beavtii% 

** And I will tsy» I live for ever ; 

*« If I whet the brigbtneas of my sword» 

*< Aad Bkf hand lay bold od judgement ; 

^ t wiU fetam Tengeance to my enemie8« 

«< And i will recompense thoao that bate me i 

<' I wU dreacb ray arrows ta blood» 

^ And nqp aw«>rd shall devoiir flesh ; 

^ With the blood o£ the slain and the captivesr 

«< From the busby bead of the enemy."' ^ 

Nor is Isaiah less daring «o a similar subject r 

^ For the day of vengeance was in my heart» 

«« And the year of my redeemed waa come. 

M AikI I looked and there was no one to help ; 

'* And I was astonished, that there was no one to uphold t 

<< Therefore mine own arm wrought salvation for me» 

^ And mine indignation itself sustained me» 

M And I trod down the peoples in mine anger ^ 

*^ And I crushed them in mine indignation ; 

«« And I spilled their Hfe-blood on the ground."**^ 

The dbplay of the fury and threats of die enemy, by 
which Moses finely exaggerates the horror of their un- 
expected ruin» is also wanderfuUy subUme : 

*• The enemy said» I will pursue» I will ovcnake ; 
^ I will divide the spoil» my soul shall be satiated ; 
^ I will draw my sword» my hand shall destroy th^m t 
u Thou didst bloa- wkh thy breath ; they were covered with the 

21 DaoT. zzxiL 40—43. 

IS IsAi. IziiL 4— 6L See a note on this pasiage. Lecture xxs. 

ts Bxov. XT. 9, 10. 

Ltect. 17. OF PASSION. f» 

Otkf h gmenStf lAJect and humble, Urn apt to u. 
shnilate with die sublime ; but when it beeomes excess 
sive, and predominates in die mind, it rises to a bidder 
tone, and becomes heated to fuiy and madness. We 
have a fine example of this ftdm die hand of Jeremiah, 
when he exaggerates the miseries of Sion : 

« He hitb bent bis bow m an enemy, be bstb fise4 bi» right )iaad 

<« as an adveraary ; 
^ He hatb poured out bis aager like Sr^onibeten^of Ihedfugb- 


But nodiing of this kind can eqttal the grief of lob, which 

is acute, vehement, fervid ; always in the deepest aiBic- 

lions breathing an animated and lofty strain ; 

fcr in tbe contcUma boiom flame 
Vinw) «ad grief, aad lottt-depteaaiiig tobaane. 

« His fuiy rendetb me, be tearetb me to pieces ; 

^ He gnasbetb on me witb bis teeiby 

« Mme enemy ^larpenetb bis eyes upon me. 

« Tbey ma wiUi open moutb upon n^ 

^ Tfaty aautc ase reproaebfolly on tbe ebeek, 

« Tbey are ready to burst witb fury against me. 

a God batb delivered me oyer bound to tbe wicked ; 

tt Yea, he bath tumbled me lieadlong in perdition at tbe diacretioa 
^of tbe impieufi. 

^ I was in tranqniUity, and be rent roe asunder ; 

M Yea, be seised me by tbe neck, and dasbed me in pieces; 

« He batb even set me up as a mark for bim. 

^ Hw arcbera encompassed me round, 

^ He piercetb tbrough my reuM and sparetb not ; 

M He pouretb ewt my gall on tbe grdund. 

<* He breaketb me up breacb after breacb ; 

^ He rosbetb upon me like a migbty man.*' 

u Lam. ii. 4. 

w Job xvi. 9—14. «« Ver. 10. Jitmalaon, «ccording to the Skft. ^«v/mIw 
^hnmUfafun: K. L. B. Gxmhoh, They are jathered father: and the 
■^ Arabic verb Maia denotes in ri. Conjugation, They aemted me amther^ 
** emd were wiommeut» (as if a great multitude were collected t<>gether,) 
** sod it is construed with the preposition ^^nale, as in this passage. See 

2^ THE SUBLIME I^^kct. 17. 

In the same author, Mwfh «what «nai^ecnoe ao4 sufalim. 

i^ are> sorrow and deapemtton expressed ! 
Were biit my woes in eqaal balance weigbedi 
Did the vast masa of ousary prcaa the scale 
Againat the sands, that skirt the ocean ^roiind» 
*T would far outweigh them ; therefore boils my grief! 
The pointed arrows of th* otfcnded God 
Fix'd in my heart rack every tender nerve ; ' 
And the slow poison drinks my spirit up ; 
Wlule hosts of terrors blose besiege my soul. 
O might thy suppliant urge one poor Request ! 
\Thy wmtlh P God [^ should loose at once tby^aniif . '' 
'^Thy ven|j;^ful rarpi vl^ich' blasting lightnbgs wields) 
Dash into pieces this i/nbecile frame» 
And crush thy siilRenng crieature Into iiothinjg;.^* 

" also IsAi. xx«L,4# quoted in hf9^ w. wheiie «IMa^.iamidered a mtdU' 
** tude. This interpretation^ however^ though sufficiently confinne4 by the 
** preceding instances, is, perhaps, not sufficiently forcible and vehement in 
" this place. Ver. 11. Jarateni, fit predpitated me. This I take to be the 
" true sense of this word, M^ieh ob^t to be enumerated aiQong those that 
*' occur but once : for the other place in whieh it is eoounot^ lead, N«xr. 
*< xxii. 32. is certainly car«upted,<gnd should be^eorveBtedfram tibe &ueab. 
** which has, beeauae <% w^y i> cvU.before me § with which the ^nsweT'Of 
*' Balaam perfectly agrees, ver. 34. J/ it be evil in thy right. Nor is t|ia 
" construction clear m this phrase Jarat He-darachecha^ unless we ag^ 
*** that^the true reading Is Jaratahi t^c. Not: to dwell upon this, however, 
" tlic interpretation of the word Jarateni appears perfectly just, iJTwe cop- 
" sider that the Arabit verb Verai uniformly means, he pvedpitaied himwetf 
** into an qfair wkencn he cmiid mt extrio^teMMu^f^ H. Amthm^e ,N^te. 
10 Job vi. 2, 3, 4, 8, 9. This pssssge is th«s given by Ifr. Seott with a 
little alteration : 

** O for a balance pois*d with equal hand ! 

** Lay all my sorrow's there 'gainst ocean's sand : 

" Light is the san4 ^hereon the billows roll 

" When weigh'd.with all the sorrows of my soul. 

" Ah ! therefore, tlierefore doe» my boiling woe 

" In such a torrent of wild words overflow. 

« Rankling I feel th' Almighty's yenom'd dart, 

*' His arrows fire my veins and rend my heart : 

" His terrors 'gainst me throng in dire array, 

•• War urging war, his boundless wrath display. 

" O that relenting at my earnest cry, 

f God would extend his thund'ring arm on high ; 

LsoT- 17. OP PAKION. %» 

The idiofe poem of Job is no less exedknt in the 
expression and excitation of terror, as the Example just 
now quoted sufficiently demonstrates. To this com* 
mendation, hqwever, the prophetic writings seem to 
have the faire$t claim ; it being indeed their peculiar 
province to denounce the Divine judgements upon guilty 
nations. Almost the whole book of Ezekiel is occupied 
with this passion : Isaiah is also excellent in this respecti 
although he be in general the harbinger of joy and sal- 
vation. The following terrific denunciation, is directed 
by him against the enemies of Jerusalem : 

^ Howl ye, for the day of Jxhotah b at hand : 

«< As a destmcfion from the Almighty shall it come. 

^ Therefore shall all hands be slackened ; 

<« And the heatt of every mortal «haIJi melt j and they shall be teri 

*< rified : 
<< Torments and pangs shall sqiae them i 
«< As a woman in travaiU they shall l^e pained a 
<< They shall look upon one another with astonishment ^ 
<< Their countenancea ahaU be Uke flasoe^ pf fire. 
<< Behold the day of Jbhov.ah coaie;«xorahie ; 
<» Even indignation» and burning wrath : 
^ To make the land a desolation ; 
« And her sinners shall he destrqy from oqt of her. 
** Yea, the stars of heaven, and the constellations thereofji 
M Shall not send forth their light : 
^ The wan is.darkeoed at hta goinf forth» 
*^ And the ni(lon 4bsll not cause her Hgtit to shine. 
¥ And I wUl visit the world for its ^yil»^7 
*< And the wicked for their iniquity : 
^ And I win pot to end to the arrogance of the proud : 
*< And I will bring down the haughtiness of the terrible. - 

'* Butkless at once his smonldVing trident throw, 
«^ And forcing thro' his mark the vengeful blow 
*• At once destroy me." 

17 Ivda vintf &c.] That is, the Babylonish empire : as all the wor/iffo^ 
the Roman empire, or for Judea : Lujib ii. 1. Acts si. SS. Bi9fi9p 
^iOWTu's jBoiah, 

S$8 THE SUBUME, kc. LseT. in 

^ I wiB mike a movcal more pneoknii dan insipU ; 
<< Ye% a mam than the tiek 9i« of Opbtr. 
^ Wherefore I will make the beaYeps tremble ; 
« And the earth shatl be shaken out of her place s 
^ In the indignation of Jebovah God of hosts.**** 

Jeremiah is scarcely inferior, though perhaps his talents 
are better suited in common to the exciting of the softer^ 
affections. As an example, I need only refer to that 
remarkable vision, in which the impending slaughter 
and destruction of Judea b exhibited with wonderful 
force and enthusuasm : 

M My bowels, my bowels are pained, the walls of my heart ; 

*« My heart b troubled within me ; I cannot be uleat i 

^ Because I have heard the sound of the tnimpeC, 

<« My soul the alarm of war. 

» Destrvetk» i» come upon the beela of deMroctiMii 

<< Surely the whole land is spoiled : 

^ On a sudden have my tents been spoiled, 

^ My curtains in an instant. 

M How long shall I see the standard t 

<< Shall I hear the «ooad of 4he trumpet l^ 

«< I beheld the earth, and lo ! 4iaonler and conteion ; 

«< The heavens also, and ihere was no light*''» 

It would be an infinite task to collect and specify all the 
passages that might be found illustrative of this subject : 
and probably we shall have more than one opportunity 
of discoursing upon these |qd similar topics, when we 
come to consider the diflbrent species of the Hebrew 
poetry : upon which, after requesting your candour and 
indulgence to so arduous an undertaking, it is my in- 
tention to enter at our next meeting. 

u isAi. aiiL 6-13. <» Jaa. IT. Ul^ to. 


oir TBB nvraBBNT BmcBs» i» postkt extakt in vm 




The poetjy of the Hebrevs cUssed according to its different characters f 
this mode of arrangement results rather from the nature of the subject, 
than ham any «uthorilj of the Hcbtionn theOMalvtt-^The PBoni>Ti« 
F»snT-*The writings of the piopheU.m gesenU poetkal and metrioal 
•^Tht opinion of the modem Jews and of Jerome on this point refuted— 
ift ^he books of the prophets the same evidences are found of a metrical 
■mngeilMnt as in the poetical books : in the dialect» the style, and po- 
etical confonxMition of th« sentences— Obvious in respect to the two for- 
mer circumstances ; the latter requires a more minute inrestigation, and 
«Iso illnsmtion hy ezaaiples-^The inUaiate rebtkm betw«een Poetry and 
Ptopbaoy— ThccoHefeofAvphfttsi > partof whose diaclpline it was to 
■ing Hymns to the diiferenli instnuaents : and this eiencise was called 
prophecy : the same word, therefore, denotes a prophet, a poet, and a 
iMisician— Elisha, when fthont to pronounce the Oracle of God, others n 
mmtrel to be brought to hii»— Poetry excellently sdapted to the puN 
pose of prophecy— A review of the most ancient predictions extant in the 
historical books, which are proved to be truly poetical. 

Of the genera! nature and properties of the Hebrew 
poetry I have already treated : diffusely enough, if the 
extent of the disquisitions be considered ; but too briefly, 
I fear, and too imperfectly, if respect be had to the copi* 
ousness and importance of the subject. My original 
design» however, extended no farther than to notice the 
most remarkable passages, and such as I conceived to 
be immediately illustrative of the peculiarities of the He- 
brew style. Even these it was my wish and intention 

340 PROPHETIC POETllT. L«ct. U. 

rather to point out and recommend to yoqr.own'condd«> 
eration, than minutely to in vest^tc and expbia, esteem^ 
ing it my province rather to exhorMHO^aiimukte to these 
studies, than to intrude upon this auSbifceafbrraalplaii 
6f instruction. It Wbuld'be «iperfludus, I imi4)ersfiad^« 
ed, to remind you, that the importance of the subject b 
not to be estimated by the feebleness of my endesvouis;^ 
and, I trust, it would be still more unnecessary to cau- 
tion you agsnrist a hasty aequiesence in any interpreta- 
tion of those passages, which I have quoted, mudi less 
in my own : though I will fnnkly confess^ that I have 
bestowed no small degree of labour and attention upon 
this part of my undertaking. What remains at present,* 
is to distribute into it& dtfierent clasBcsthe whofeoMie 
Hfebrew poetry, and to mark whatever is worthy of ob-» 
servation in each species. In forming this arr^gement 
it will hardly be expected that I should uniformly pro- 
ceed according to the testimony of the Hebrews, or on 
all occasions confirm the propriety of my classification 
by their authority ; since it is plain that they were but 
little versed in these nice and artificial distinctions. It 
will be sufficient for our purpose ; that is, it'will be asf- 
ficient for the accurate explanation of the diflferent chaiw 
acters of the Hebrew poetry, if I demonstrate that these 
characters are stamped by the hand of nature, and that 
they 'arc displayed either in the subject itself, the dispo- 
sition of its constituent parts, the diversity of style, or 
in the general form and arrangement of the poem. . . <. 
The first rank I assign to the PaoPHETic, or that 
species of poetry which is found to pervade the predic- 
tions of the prophets, as well those contained in -the 
books properly called prophetical, as those which occa^ 
sionally occur in other parts of the Scriptures. These» 
I ^prehend» will be generally allowed to be written in a 


style trttfy pocticalt Mefdadminhfe in its khid asthtf 
nany exsmpksv iriii^h «e have tbtsdiy pradooed, wiH 
suAoiendy demoostrate. I bat^ hoiKevcr, it wiB not hs 
80 iwiSty l^sntod thai their ckiro ia equsUy wril<>fo^ 
wMi that sft^ books, wMdi are ooraononlj cdisd poet^ 
seal, to the other pharaeteriadc of poetry» I mean vens^ 
or metriqal ctuiipgaition. This kt^ b denied by tbe 
Jews ;^ and b demed by Jerome,* who waft a.dttigent 
mduAar of the Sabbinieal wri|»fs : afipr dieae, it is on» 
aeeesaaiy to refer to more recent authors, who pardy 
deny that die Hebrews were possessed of any asetre at 
aU» and pardy allow it to those compoudons only, which 
eommonly called poetical, or at most extend thecon- 
to a few eanddes scsMeicd through other parts 
of the Scriptores. A thinking person, however, wiH 
not be oiisled by such attthorities as Aese, befoitr he 
examines whether they are to be accouiyed competent 
judges in thb case, ahd what weight and credit b due 
to their testimony. 

The Jews, by their own confession, are no longer, nor 
have been indeed for many ages, masters of the system 
of the ancient metre. AH remembrance of it has ceased 
fixim those times in which the Hebrew became a dead 

2 ABAmBAVKL diitingubhes three specks of canticles. The first is the 
r^Sfikimatl, or that with similar endings ; in use among the more modem 
lUbrews (who learned it from the Arabic writers) but which was certainly 
unknown to the authors of the Holy Scriptures. The second was adapted 
to music, and sung either alone or accompanied with instruments, such are 
the songs of Moses, of Deborah» of David. The third species consists of 
psrableSy or proverbs, which species, says he, (though by the way absurdly 
enough, as is not uncommon with the Rabbinical writers) is properly de- 
nominated Shir. From tliis class, however, he excludes the parables of the 
prophets, aoooeding to the distinction of Maimonides between prophecy and 
the Holy Spirit. (See Mitre Mboc. iL 45.) He says they are not canticles, 
because they are not the work of the prophet himself, but the mere effect 
of the prophetic inspiration. Mantina JDittert. ad LiAr, Cosai, page 411. 

AnthorU J^te. 

> See Jcaoan, preface to Tsaiam. 



kngnagfi */ and it really seems probeUe, that the Maao^ 
rites fof whom so little is known) who afterwards dis* 
tkigoished the sacred volumes bf acoents and vowel 
pointSt as they vre now extant, were possessed of so tri- 
fling and hnperfectaknowledgeof this8ufa|ect, that they 
were even incapable of distinguishing n^iat was writieft 
in metre from plainrprose. For when, according to their 
manner, they mark^ certain books as metrical, namely, 
the Psalms, the Froverbs^ and the book of Job ; they 
accounted others, whickare no less evidenify metricaH 
abaoltttrly prosaic, suehas the Song of Solomon^ and the 
Lamentations of Jeremiah^ andoonsequendy assigned to 
them the common prose accent only. In this opiniba 
the Jews miiversally remain, and deny that these bot^ 
ere at all metrical, or to^ be chssed with the three for- 
mer/' Now the disciple is-hardly to be supposed to have 

3 « It cannol be doubted that the canticles of tlie. second species were 
'^ possessed of s eevtadn iCielody or Aetfe, wbieh tfatougk t&e Icngtk of tb» 
** ca|itivity is become obsolete.'* Asabbavbl, ib. 410. 

4 The Song' of Solomon is indeed allowed by the Jews to be a'poem f not 
however from the nature of the composition, or from its being metrical», 
but merely because it is of the parabolic kind : and therefore it is rofened 
by Ababbavu to the tbifd species of Cdaticle. Whenee it hiypcnB that, 
though in some MSS. copies tlie three metrical books are written in a vcr* 
s'lfied form, the Lamentations and Song of Songs are difiefentTy transct'lbe^l 
This I have obserred to be the case with the VaUcan MSS. which is desenr- 
edly accounted one of the most ancient, its date being the year occccilzxxx 
of our Christian aera. The same is observable in many other MS$. 
as T have been informed by my learned friend. Dr. Keitkicot, whose Ha- 
BRiLW BiBLX wiTB THK VABious BBA.DIRM is HOW in the prcss, and already 
In great forwardness. Indeed, it is natural to suppose, that when the Jews 
exMbit certain C^inticles, and even whole books in a poetical or versified 
order, tliey followed, or pretended to follow the true nature of the Hebrew 
verse, or the proper distribution of the lines. But the great disagreement 
between them in this respect is a proof of their Ignorance, for they seldom 
agree with one another in the termination of the lines, or fblfow any deter- 
minate rule in this matter. The distribution of the verses is- different ia 
diii'erent copies, as may be Immediately observed on comparing thenL In 
Uie Song of Moses, Dbut. xxxii. in which the different editions agree bet« 
teiL tliaii in any Qthw (fad indeed theiv. was but little room fw disagpee- 

ta«T. 1«. «lOiaETiC RBBTHir. MS 

«iDmii^ormalifm^nliiaaMurters; and akhough Jerome 
upeaks very flucDtijr «bout the Tetrameters» the Hexal*- 
araeters, fbe Sapphi»»» and Iambics of the Hebrews, tbe 
.very state and ourcumflCances of the caae demonatnue 
ihow Uttle credit is due to his 4Mitfaoiaty« Indeed his 
.xeaacMung evidently proceeds from a oonfused head, 
when he atten^its to trace a sort 4if remote suni|aril|r 
lielween the Gieek ami iiebaew metres ; andtoexplaia 
fay some coarse analogies a subject, which be appears ta 
huft very in^i&ctiiy understood : in treating of whiob» 
after all, he is Aot able to freaerve even the appearanoe 
.of coosistenc}*:; For ansianoe, after Josephus and Ok;!- 
ipen, hccontesKls,' that tbe Song of Moses in Deutemi^ 
OQiy is compos^ in Hescameter and Pentameter veraei 
in another pAiGp, however, be afiirms ttait iho very saoir 
fOfm cons^ of Iambic Tetrameters.* In proof of hM 
.cfMnion he appeab to thie testimony of Philo, Josephus^ 
Origeo, and Euseibius,' who were no less ignorant of the 
ju^ure of. the Hebrew metnes than himaeUl Notwsilb- 

nent, the sense always pointings oat of Itself the order of the sentences) in 
this» notwithstioiduig, the Babbies hare oontriri^ to^cUier» sftne of theai 
dividing it into 67» and some into 70 verses or ^nes. See jinnoL a4 Bib. 
ffeb. Edit. Micbaxlis, HaUt 1T20. Among* the MSS. copies of the metricd 
iMMika the disagreement is e<|aally manifest, as die jJbov« excellent critic 
proved upon a Ytry atrict examination» anderta);eii at my /«quest. In a ve- 
ry famous MSS. which I saw in the royal library at presden^ I remarked a 
circumstance that clearly demonstrates tlie perfect ignorance and absurdity 
of tibe Jews ia this fespeet. TheChaldee paraphrase wss intermii^^ wiHi 
the text throHgheut, in such a manner» that we first read the Hebrew» and 
then the Chaldee» verse by verse alternately : in the metrical books» which 
were divided into lines or verses, ihe text and version were so oonfounded, 
that the. Writer attending qa^ to the eq^wlity of his UneSf pen>etwatly blctndr 
ed the Hebrew and Chaldee together in such a manner^ that where the one 
ended the other was resumed» and every line partook of both. This is a 
Very elegant copy» and probably five hundred years old. The ponctuatioa 
b evidcintiy of a more oeoont date; as in that of the Vatican abovementioiir 
ed» and in some other copies still older. Auihai't «Vote. 

' Preface to Chron. 

# Kpist civ. ad Pftolam Urbicam. ' See Jw^m^ prefiifie to M>. 


Mifidfngtfaeoi^fiim liieratee <if Jttwne and Ife ibb- 
Mnical writers, I «haU beg kafve W «finr m few resMlDs 
upon the other side of the q^iestiett^ wfbdt wUch k'wia 
not perhaps be thought ohogedMrimprobaible, tint most 
erf* the pvedktkntt trf liie )praphettt,«s wlA ^^ 
of the «emaiiis of Hebrew JiienMire» wcmtongnsttf fudn^ 
Ushtd in a metrical' foftm. 

In order to pwwte iJMit the prediOtiti»rfthe proyhofci 
(rire mMric«l> I must in part ha^ve iMMme lo^ same 
'Magtunenait bjr i^hieh I foinierly endoaveurod ttevincte 
:ahit the Hebitw poetry mgeattml «r^olisifeiedolrajuiritf 
«fetre : ewry ^on^ ef whidiaif^iitnenls, I moat-obaerte» 
4is wietty ^fplicable to this pairt of my sti^ect» 1^ 
eaw e pMi d whieh^regwiis the alphlibetio poems. Thm it 
^aMontdbe mmataival mid absurdtolook ftr instansesioif 
4h&t4ciitd hi^the prophet poetry iB^evideM^ sinoemMrii 
M^ttNiAdial *ra)ngen|ent wodldbo'tinmty iqNigmmtio 
«hfeteture^ prophecy; it is (dainly the efibot of study 
diif^'AiKgenee, ntit of imagbaftion end enthusiasm ; 4 
«contrivance to assist the memory, not to aflfect the pas- 
mons« The other arguments, however, ought to be par* 
ticutarly adverted to upon this subject : the poetic dia- 
lect for instance, the diction so totally different from the 
iangtage of common life, and other similar circumsimii 
ces»^ which an attentive reader will easily discover, but 
wbich eamiot be explained 1^ a few examples ; fiir ck^ 
ctnnstarices i^ich, taken separately, appear but of small 
account, are in a united view frequmtly of the greatest 
«iportanGe. To ^ese we mi^ add the artificialoonfer* 
miition of (be sentences ; which, as it has always ap- 
peared to me a necessary concomitant of metricai com- 
position, the only one indeed which is now apparent, i 
shall afterwards endeavour to explain more at large, hav-^ 

t See JUect. in. 


VBigetfmadnfguAtoiiicf^ Iniustiiofr 

pimiMe a fbw odxr «q^meotB, whidi miU prabaUy lead 
to die estaUishneiit of nijr opinioii. 

Tke pMfkutM i)i«e clioiett by God himsaUv and wei« 
cBdtaMlf exodteodjr p»fNu*6d Ibr die cMeiikkm of tkeir 
office. They «ere m ^ettenl taken firmt dMse^ who 
had been eduoaled fmm childbocxi in a oourae of c&- ' 
cipline adapHed ta the «Muaterial fiinction. It is evident 
firom mmy parts of the sacred hhtory, that ei^en from 
tfaeeatiiesttinas^^the Mel^now npubtic» tbeieenisted 
oartainx^oUegcs of prophctSi in wbieh the candidates Sat 
the pnqpfadae office» removfd altogocber from an Inter- 
cmirs* nith the world, deviaced diemselves entimljr im 
this exerciBrs and atisdy.of religioo : over eaoh of these 
some prophet of ;Hipenor attthoiiqr, and move peculiarly 
noder the divine inftneneet presided, as the moderator 
and preoepdur of the whdb assembly, llioagb the 
aacMd history sAbrds as but little information, and (hat 
in a cmaoly manner, coQoeniing their iratkntes and dis- 
cil^oe ; we «evertfadess understand that a principal 
part of iheir bccupation consisted in celebrating the 
pnises^f Afahighlgr Ood in hymns and poetry, ivith 
oharal dmta accompanied by singed inslnMients and 
pipes» There is a remarkable passage' which occurs 
to tfais|Hiffposei: Saul being nominated king, and, pur- 
suant to th^ conmiand of God, consecrated by aaolemn 
iinetion, a company of the prophets, as Samuel had 
ioretold, desocadiog from the moantof God {that being 
dK place in which the sacred coUege was shaated) met 
him.; and, freceded by a variety of musical in^ruments, 
fimphtswd: upon iheasing which, he himself, as if ac- 
tuaied by the ^samc sparitt inuuediately jobcd them, and 
prophesied also* The same thing again occurred to^ 

« 1 9mm, X. 5— m 


lam, and the perapns sent bj htm to take David prison- 
er at Naioth;^ who, when they saw the prophets proph- 
esying, and Samuel presiding over thna, seised with 
the same divine spirit and oithuaiasm, began to prophe- 
Bj^ong with them* I find no discordance among au- 
thors concerning the nature of this mode of prc^bcqr. 
ing : all are, I believe, agreed in this pointy and all on* 
/ derstand by it the praises of God cekbrated, by the 
/ impulse of die Holy Spirit, with music and soi^« In 
this *ey folloiy the authority of the ChaUee interpret- 
ers, or rather the evidence of reason itself: for exactly 
in the same manner, Asaph, Heman, Iduthun, who 
were the chief musicians in the temple, are said ** to 
*< have prophesied upon the harp, the psaltery, and the 
^* cyml^, when praise and thanksgiving were offered to 
*^ Jehovah*'"^ From these instances it is suflkiendy 
apparent, that the word Aa6» was used by die Uebrewa 
in an ambiguous sense, and that it equally denoted a 
prophet, a poet, or a muscian, under the influence of 
divine mspiration. To these we may add the prophet- 
esses, Miriam the sbter of Aaron, and Deborah, who 
were distinguished by that title, not only because ihey. 
pronounced the oracles of Jehovah, but on account of 
their excellence in music and poetry ; fi>r these sister 
arts were united by the Hebrews, as weU as by all other 
nations, during the first stages of society. AStist these 
proofs there can scarcely be any occasion to remark^ 
tfiat Sok>mon, or at least the editor or eon^iiler of his 
proverbs, twice makes use of the ftrord, wMfeh, in its 
ordinary sense, means prophecy, strictly so /ailed, to 
denote the language of poetry. For he callathe words 
of Agur and Lemuel" Mauch which Jerome renden 

10 1 Sak. m. 30—34. " 1 Caftov. xxv. 1—3. 

n The late Mr. Hallet of Exeter, in the second T^ume of hia Notet and 


vUion,^ the seventy Greek translators an aracie^ the 
Chsidte prophecy : when in reality those passages have 
nothing in them which can be properly said to bear any 
resemblance to prophecy ; but are mere rhapsodies of 
morality, ornamented indeed with the usual embellish- 
ments of poetry," ITie Hebrews certainly did not ex- 
press by the same wwd ideas, which they deemed in- 
consistent, or repugnant to each other ; and, what is 
remarkable, the same ambiguity prevails, the same 
word (and we may well presume for similar reasons) 
denotes both a prophet and a poet in the Arabic lan- 
g;uage, in the Greek, and in the Latin." 

Nor is it reasonable to suppose, that Prophecy admit- 
ted Poetry and Music to a participation in the name a* 
lone ; on the contrary we find, that she did not disdain 

Biscounes, p. 99, &e. hftlh «dvmoed enough to shew that the existence of 
the two personages here mentioned is at least problematical. To the rep* 
titation of this excellent nkon (and perhaps it was his least praise) it de^ 
Mxym t6 he iMntioned, that there is aearcely a eonjeetmral emendation of 
the Hehrew text proposed hy him, which waa not afterwards fowid by Dr* 
Kemiicot, in one manuscript or another, to have been an ancient reading. 

8. H. 
B JUasfs, wlueh aoeording to its etymology means am oraetdor t^y%; 
M9«», is no mote pecuUar to predietions of future erentSy than to eveiy 
species of that eloquence which is supposed to come by inspiration^ includ- 
ing that which teaches the salutary principles of mor^l conduct I do not 
ttmsfew see mudi Ibrce i» this argument of our author : for whatever 
Lemuel composed upder the influence of the ni^ine Spirit might properly 
he called nuuga, whether in verse or not The word is derived from noHif 
he nisedy he produced, he spoke i not as some of the old commentators 
derive it» from noso» he ccceived. Though a divine oracle might, I eon«' 
Ibss, take its name with gteat propriety firom rtceraii^, as does the Greek- 
word AMfifM (so the Seventy render this very phrase) which means being re^ 
mh»4 from God. But the use of the word in 3 Knies ix. 3i, militatef» 
agaiiist thja derivation. H. 

M PMir. m. 1. xxxL 1* See alsa 1 Cnn*w. xv. 33; and 3r, nv&rr nw» 
tfX?^ to» flw, Ixx. 

^ Muitenabld, nftpmic, Vatos. See Josxra Midi's Works, p. 59. Tit. 
1 12, LuKX i. 67i and Hamxovb on the passage. Juthar*^ JVs^* 


to unite herself with Harmony, and to aooept of her «»- 
sistancc. The example of £li$ha is remarkable,^ nrfio 
when about to pronounce the answer of the Most High 
to the inquiry of the two kings of Israel and Jucbb, or- 
ders a minstrel to be brought to him» and upon his strik- 
ing the harp, is immediately agitated by the Holy Spiril«^ 
Many commentatom have indeed supposed that the 
prophet appUed to music only to Sooth the perturbatioii 
of his mind ; in this they follow an opinion of some qf 
the more modem Rabbles (an opinion, it nsy be ob^ 
y served, by no means satisfactorily proved) tl^t every 
emotion of a more vehement kind excluded tfa? Holy 
Spirit, and consequently was totally inconsistent with 
prophecy ;^' when, on die contrary, we learn from the 
testimony of the prophets themselves, that the set of 
prophesying was often, if not always, accompanied with 
/ a very violent agitation of the mind.** Be this as it may, 
I am inclined to believe, both from this last and the oth- 
er instances, that the prophet himself accompanied the 
minstrel» and uttered sotne hymn, or rather the predic- 
tion itself, to the music of the harp ; and both the st}'le 
and the form of this prophetic reply are very much in 
favour of this opinion.** 

From all these testimonies it is sufficiently evident, 
that the prophetic office had a most strict connection 
with the poetic art. They had one common name, one 
common origin, one common author, die Holy Spirit. 
Those in particular were called to the exercise of the 

«• 2 KiHo'» ill. 15. w mrr t t^f *nfn pjorr paa rrm 

i> See llAixo^r. Mn^e Mh9c, n. 36, and many others quoted by Sxith, 

IK99ert, •/Prophecy, c. viii. 

1» See Jib. aoiil 9. JBsik. iii 14^ IS. Dim riL 36^ x S. IUsak. iia. 
3» and 16. 

M Dryden, m tbe adjtistment of his measures, and Handel of his mjAsic, 
to the diversified strains of Timotheus, seem both to hare possessed the 
same idea. S. H. 


lulcT. 18. PB0PHBTIC POETRY. S49 

prophetic oftce, who were previously cofiTersint widi 
tfe sacred poetrjr. It was equally a part of their duty to 
compose verses for the service oi the church, and to de^ 
Glare the oracles of God : and it cannot, therefore, be 
doubted that a great portion of the sacred hymns majr 
pxt^)erly be termed prophecies, or that many of the 
iMTOphecies are in reality hymns or poems. Since, as wift 
^ve ahieady proved, it was from the first a prmcipal end 
Und aim of poetry, to impress uponr the minds of met 
tile sayings of the wise, and such precqitS as related 
either to the principles of faidi, or the laws of moraK^ 
fas Wen as to transmit the same to posterity; it ought 
M>t to appear extraordinary, that prophecy, which in thilfc 
view ranks as a principal» and is of the highest import- 
ance, should not disdain the assistance of aii art so ad- 
mirably calculated to effect its purposesl Of this we 
have an illustrious proof in that prdphetic ode. of Mo- 
ses,'^ which he composed by the especial command of 
God, to ht learned by the Israelites, and committed to 
memory : " That this song may be," says God hinaself, 
'* for a wimess against the people of Israel, when they 
*' shall depart from me ; this slmll be a testynony in their 
*^ mouths ; for it shall not be forgotten,' nfof shall it de« 
" part out of the mouths of their posterity for ever.^'* 

But, as on the one hand, this poem of Moses is^ clear 
and remarkable specimen of theproph^tic mode of writ- 
ing ; so, on the other, there are many prophecies which 
^re not less conspicuous as .poems. It remains, there- 
fore, only tx> produce a few examples from the prophetic 
writings. Many of the most ancien|: of those, which art 
extant in the Mosaic history, I have .already quotedy^^.as 
exiubiting the fairest examples of the Hebrew poetry : 
for instance the imprecation of Noah, the blessing of Ja« 

St -OwoT. xxxit. V See Dxvt. xzxi. 19> 21. *f See Leet, lY, 



oob« and the predictions oi Balaam : than all wluch (and 
particularly those of Balaam) I do not know diat the 
whole esttent of the prophetic writings could afford more 
pertinent instances. Nay, so eminently distinguished are 
they by all the characteristics of poetry, that those wha 
are inclined to.adtnowledge any kind of metre in the He* 
brtw poeti^, musi, I am convinced, refer to these a$ 
liietrical compositions, if thry be in the least desirous of 
maintaining their opinion by fact'and ^gu meht. Among 
the prophecies of Balaam I willalso-ventuve to class that 
^nnost elegant pokm,. whieb is rescued from oblivion by 
the propheH Mic^^ and which in matter and diction, in 
^G structure, form, and character of the composition, so 
admirably agrees with the other monuments of his iame^ 
that it evidently appears to be a citation from the answer 
of Balaam to the king of the Moabites i^ 

« Wherewith shall I come before XiKoviirH ? 
/^ <^ Wberewiih shall I baw myself unto the High God^ 

^ Shall I come before bim with bunu-offerings } 

« With calves of a year old ? 

^ Will JcHoYAK be pleased with thousands of rams I 
1 ' . u With ten thousands of rivers of oil ? 

/•«< Shall I give my first-bom for my transgression I 
:; A The fiHist.of ipy body for the sin of my soul I 

^<.He hath shewed thee« O mani what is good i 

^ And what doth Jehovah require of thee^ 

<' But to do justicet and to love mercy, 

•« And' to be humble' in walking with thy God ?•* 

Biit if we proceed to other parts of the Sacred Hi». 
lory, examples will not be wanting : and among the first 
of these is that Cygnean song of Moses, as it may prop- 
trly be Called ; 1 do not speak of the prophetic ode, 
which has frequenriy been distinguished by that title, 

^4Mic. vi. 6— a 

^ »ce Mir. v\. 5, and the late Bishop Birrus'i Sermon on the charactc» 
i»f DalaatiK 


but of die last blessiog of that divine pni^het, ia whic^^ 
sire predicted the future fortunes of tfa^ J^r^f^ : 

<( Afld rp^. fi^ i|Qtt>^ them firocn Scir i[*yf^ ' 
The prophecy ia^yideo^ of. the $wi<{)|}at)t^r^ with t)u% 
of Jacob ; both in the exordium and th^.iV>nclusioa it^iij 
exquisitely sublime ; Qpd throughout J^e^whp)^ ^pr^.^ 
an admirable specimen of the prophetic poetry. In the 
same class with these may be ranked the answer of Sam« 
uel the prophet to Saul, in which be reproaches him with 
his disobedience and contumacy, and denounces against 
him the Divine decree of expulsion from his kingdom. 
It consists of four distichs elegantly corresponding to 
each other. 

<f Hath JsHOTAB pleasure in bttrat-oSerings and sacrificesi 

** As in listening to the voice of Jehovah ? 

^ Behold ! to listen is better than than to sacrifice, 

^ And to obey than the fat of rams. 

<« Rebellion is as the sui of divnation» 

** And contempt as the crime of idolatry. 

^ Because thou hast rejected the word of Jshovabi 

M He hath also rejected thee from being king."*^ 

The last words of David^ afford an evident and illustii- 
ous instance to the same purpose, however difficult and 
obscure the verbal interpretation of the prophecy may 
be. I apprehend die examples from sacred history will 
appear sufficiendy numerous, if I add the prediction of 
Isaiah concerning Senacherib, which b inserted in the 
book of Kings : 
^ He hath despised thee, he hath mocked thee, O virgin daughter 

^ He hath shaken his head at thee, O daughter of Jerusalem.*'** 

36 DxvT. xxxiiL 

» I Sax. xv. 23» 23. AU the old translators sifem to have read SMvprr^ 
for aivpnb, and D^rvi without l prefixed. 
M 3 Sax. xziii. 1— r ^ 3 Kmes xix* 21—34. If ax. xxxvil 3^—35. 


The same passage occurs again among the prcdictiona 
of the prophet : and this reminds me that it is now full 
time to pass from the Ustorians to the books of the 
prophets themselves, which will afford us abundant in» 
stances to demonstrate that the compositions of the 
prophets are truly poc^ticaU and at the san^e tyne to il«* 
histrate the nature of their poetry. 



*|1ie pnlmody of the Hetff e wa T he manner of duntinp the fayniBt by al* 
Urnale ohom: ^hKt$e t^ wigvi of the poetical conttrUotiOB of the 
aentcnce% and that pepuliar ftrai, in which venea and disticha run par* 
allel or correspondent to each ottier— Three apeciea of parallelism j the 
iynonymona» the antithetic, and the aynthetie : ezaapAeaof each, ftrst 
Aem th« bed|;a gen^n% aU6Wed to' be poeticalt and aAenrarda from 
the writings of the prophets— The aentiments of R. Azarias considered— 
The great importance of an accurate attention to this poetical eonform»- 
tion of the sentmea* 

1 Bfi origin and earliest application of the Hebrew po« 
€try have^ I think, been dearly traced into the service 
of religion; T<y celebrate in hymns and songs the 
praises of Almighty God ; to decorate the worship of 
the Most High wiUi aU the diarms and graces of har- 
mony ; to ^ve force and energy to the devout affec* 
tions was the sublime employment of the sacred Muse. 
It is more than probable, that the very early use of 
sacred music in the public worriiip of the Hebrews, 
eontribnted not a litde to the pecuUar character of their 
poetry, and might impart to it that apprq)riate form, 
which, though chiefly adapted to this particular purpose, 
itneverthelesa preserves on every other occasion. ' But 
in order to explain this matter more clearly, it will be 
necessary to premise a few observations concerning the 
loicient Hebrew mode of chanting their sacred hymns. 
Though we are rather at a loss for information, re- 
specting the usuid manner and ceremony of chanting^ 

a54 PROPHETIC POETRY. Lbct. 19. 

their poems ; and though the subject of their sacred 
music in general be involved in doubt and obscurity, 
thus far at least is evident from many examples, that 
the sacred hymns were alternately sung by opposite 
choirs/ and that the one choir usually performed the 
hymn itself, whik the otSer sung a paiticular distich, 
which was regularly interposed at stated intervals, either 
of the nature of the proasm or epode of the Greeks. In 
this manner we learn that Moses with the Israelites 
chanted the ode at the Red sea; for ''Miriaiii the 
^* prophetess took a timbrel In her hand, and dl the 
*^ women followed her with timbrelsi and. with dances; 
*^ and Miriam answered them," that is, she and the 
women sung the response to the chorus of men ;' 

^ Sing to Jbbovah, for he is greatly exalted ; 

^ The horse and the rider he hath cast into the sea.'* 

The sam^ b observable in some of the Psalms, which 
are compoted in thisibrm. The musical p^rfgraianee 
was on some occasions differently condiictedr: for in- 
stance, one o£ the choirs sung a siJigle verse to the pt|i» 
er, while the other constantly ^ddcd a vei^jnspiae 
respect correspondent to the former. Of this the folr 
lowing dbtich is an example) 

« Sing praises to Jbhotah, for he is good ; 
^ Because bis mercy enducetl^for ever:'* 

which Ezra' informs us was sung, by the (Miesits and 
licvites in alternate choirs at the ocimmand pf David s 
as indeed may be collected from the psalm itself,^ in 
which the latter verse, suiig by the latter choir, forms 
a perpetual epode. Of the same tiature i^rthe song of 

I See NiBKir. xii. 24, 31, 38, 40, and the title of the Pa'uLM Ixxxviii. 
« EioD. XV. 20, 21. See Philo cr.^ ywpyt»s$ pag- 1^» also ♦!/« Aw *t«(«h 
roNb paj. 902. Edit. Paris, 1640» 
? f!fZM± ill. It 4 jpg. cxi;w- 


the women concerning Saul and David/ for << the wo- 
^ men who played answered one another ;" that is, they 
chanted in two choirs the alternate song/ the one choir 

■ 1 Sam. XTifl. r. 

It is uMCh to be re^^retted that the ksfned sathor hu not inrestigated 
this subject more /u/fy, and with his usaal precision.— Though the pcr- 
loMiaifce «f thei^ hymns by two (dtemate cHorms, were the more usual, it 
et^ideutly was not the only mode -. for, as the parallelism of senlenees in th« 
Hebrew poetry is not restricted to distichs, but admits a tvried form of 
iteration, so their psalmody, though usually confined to two alternate cho- 
nucs, waa sometimes extended to more. An example of the latter kind 
will appear in Psalm cxxxv, which tiras obviously performed by Taxxa dif' 
ferttu CBCiRS, the Higli-priest with the House of Aaron constituting the 
fitwi i the Levitts serving in the temple, the second f and the congregation 
of Israel, the Hdtd ; all having their duHiut parts, and att at stated inter- 
vals wntmg' in full chorus. 

The High-priest, accompanied by the rest of the priesthood, began witli 
jiddressing the Levites : 
Praise ye J ah f 
The Levites return the exhortation to the priest» : 

PraUe ye the name Jehovah f 
The iViests and Levites then joining, address the congregation: 

JPraiee Atm, O ye eervante of Jehevah / 
The Congregation address the Priests— 

Te that Hand in the home of Jehovah / 
And the Levites—— 

Jn the §^nru of the home of our Ood / 
Thia may be considered as the first passus of the Wfoaefutf whiah the 
Choir of Prieoto resumes by a second exhortation to the Lerciteo^ and as- 
signing the reason foir their praise : 

Praioe ye Jah,for Jihovah i» good. 
The Levites then exhort the Congregation : 

Sing pndoeo unto hie name for it io pleaoant 
Aad the Congregation joining both, the three choira unito in full olMrua : 
Tor Jah hath chooen Jacob unto himoelf.' 
Israel for hit peculiar treaoure. 
The itfoe»/M thus concluding, the Mgh-prieot, followed by his band, com- 
mences in the 5th verse the Hymn. The 6th verse belongs to the Zetiie»^ 
and the 7th to the Congregation, both whom having, in them, celebrated 
Jehotah, as the Creator and Governor of the world, the Btgh^prieot de- 
scends in die Sth verse to the interpositions of Jdiovah in behalf of hia 
flhosen people ; beginning with the miracle that procured their delivarancer 
from bondi^ The Leviteo having adverted to the other miracles wroughf 

9ft ^ FRDHHBTIC . PCMBmi» JLmt* 19. 

« Skttlhttfi siMte liui^w(Amd«>" 
The Other answcriiig, 

«< Aod Dtvid hit ibn dionwidi.*' 

in JBgypt, in the former clause of the 9th rtrset and the C^ngrt^atiM, in 
the latter pointed out Pharaoh and hk servants, as thdse upon whom 
^he judgements of Jehovah, were inflicted, the JUgh-priett^ tu;. proeeeds in 
the 10th Terse» to remark the extension of similar judgements to other a** 
tions and kings, whosemunes and kingdoms the LevUn enumerate, in the 
11th vecae, whilst the CMigrtgatim^ in the 13th, commemorate the blessings 
• wl^ch had thence resulted to them. At the close of this recitativi^ in the 
irst clanse of the 13th verse, follows a chorus of the Priests: 
> 7% name, O Jehovah / endurethfir ever / 
And hi the second, another, of the lievites : 

Jl^ memorial^ O Jehtroah ! throvghout i^i generation». 
The Congrqf^ataon then striking in with Priests and lievite^ all unite in 
iiill chorus, as before : 

For Jehovah mil Judge hio people .- 
Jind tPiU repent Hun concerning Mo oervanto. 
This chorus may be considered aa closing the first part of the Hymn, the 
•oncluding clause of which adverting to the frequent backslldings of thn 
Jewbh nation, notwithstanding the blessings both ordinary and extrawnS' 
nary which Jehovah had conferred upon them, and the prosperity they en- 
joyed in the land promised to their forefathers, notwithstanding their turn* 
ing aside to the idolatry of tlie nations that had been cut off from before 
them, the choir of Prieoto (referring back to the 5th verse) as if assured 
that Israel could revolt no ^ore, breaks out in a second recitative, expres- 
sive at once of exultation, and contempt : 

The idola of the heathen^ silver and gold^ Sec. 
To this the Levites add in the same indignant strain : 

They Have mouthe, but they apeak not, &c. 
The Congregation subjoin : 

They have ear», but they hear not, &c. 
And tlie three choirs again uniting : 

They that make them are Uke unto them : 
Every one that trutteth in them. 
With tills exquisite contrast between the gods in whom the heathen con- 
fided, and Jehovah the rock of their salvation— the former unable to aid or 
hear their votaries, and the latter loading benefits on his own— the second 
part of the Hymn is concluded, and the High-priest with his choir, by a 
graceful transiUon, renews his exhortation as at first ', but now addressing 
the Congregation : 

JBlea» Jehivak, O lm$»e o/Joroel/ 
To which the Congregation reply : 

£le»» Jehovah^ O hou»e of Aaron / 


In the veiy same manner Isaiah describes the seraphim 
chanting the praise of Jehovah:' **they cried alter- 

^ Holy, holy, holy, Jkhotab God of Hosts ! 
« The whole earth is filled with his glory.** 

From the Jewish, the custom of singing in alternate cho- 
rus was transmitted to the Christian Church, and was 
continued in the latter from the first ages ; it was called 
*' alternate or responsive,"* when the whole choir sepa- 
rated into two divisions sung the Psalm alternately by 
strophes ; and when this was done by single verses, or 
lines, that is, when the same division of the choir always 
sung the latter part of the distich, they were said to sing 
the choral response.^ 

Now if this were the ancient and primitive mode of 
chanting their hymns, as indeed appears highly probable^ 
the proximate cause will be easily explained, why po- 
ems of this kind are disposed in equal stanzas, indeed 

The priests, in like manner, exhorting^ the Levites : 

Blett Jehovahf O houte of Levi / 
To whom they in they in their turn rejoin : 
Te that fiar Jehovah, bleao Jehovah I 
Ail then uniting : 

Bkeoed be Jehovah oui of Shn / 
Who dwetteth in Jenualem / 
The whole is closed by each choir in full ehonis, exhorting the other two : 

From this analysis it is eTident, that the Hebrew hymn is a composition 
not less regular than the Grecian Ode, and of a much more Taried nature 
than the professor bad led his audience to suppose. S. H. 

The reader will find tbe Psalm in an entire state, but divided and i^por- 
tinned according to the above specimen in the Appendix. 

7 Is. TL 3. See what Socrates relates of the origin of the ancient hymns. 
BUt. EccL tL 8. 

9 PI.XV. Lib. X. Epist 97.— ** They repeat alternate verses to Christ, as to 
• God." 

« See Bur«BAx*s Antiquities of the Christian Church, xir. 1. 


3f S PftOrHBTIC POBTRT. Lac tw |«* 

i^rf qual disliebs, for the moat part ; and why thtee Air 
tichs should in some measure consist of versiclea or par* 
aUelistns^^ corresponding to each other. And this modir 
of composition bring admirably adapted to the musical 
modulation of that kind of poetry, which was mkost in 
use among them from the very beginning, and at the 
same time being perfectly agreeable to the genius and 
dadence of the language, easily extended itself into the 
other species of poetry, though not designed for the same 
purpose ; in fact, we find that it pervaded the whole of 
the poetry of the Hebrews; insomuch, that what was 
s^id of the Heathen Muses may still more strictly be ap- 
plied to those of the Hebrews, — " they love alternate 
song.^ On this occasion also it may not be improper 
to remark, that the word gnanahj which properly signi- 
fies to answer, is used more generally to denote any song 
<ir poem ;*' whence we can only infer, either that the 
word has passed from particular to general use, or that 
among the Hebrews almost every poem possesses a sort 
of responsive form. 

Such appears to have been the origin and progress of 
that poetical and artificial conformation of the sentences, 
wrhich we observe in the poetry of the Hebrews. That 
it prevailed no less in the Prophetic Poetry ^n in the 
Lyric and Didactic, to which it was, in the nature of 
things, most adapted, is evident from thone very ancient 

1* **Tlie carmpondencc of one rene» or line» with another, I caU parol* 
« kUum, When a proposition is delivered, and a second is subjoined lo it» 
*^ «r drawn under it, equWaknt, or contrasted with it, in sense ; or similar 
<< to it in the form of grammatical construction ; these I caU parallel lines ; 
*• and tlie words or phrases, answering one to another in the corresponding 
" lines, parallel terms." Lowth's Prelim, Ditc. to Itaiah. 

11 Exo». xxxii. IS. Num. xsi. 17. Hos. ii. 15. Psalm oxlyii. 7. "Thus 
** the word whxh in tlie Arabic answers to ^nanah, denotes not only to 
" perform iUtemaieiy^ but also to ting,^^ H. 

specimens of poetical propkecy^ idreadv quoted from the 
hbtorical books ; and it only remains to shew, that it is 
no less observable in those which are contained in the 
volumes of the prophets themselves. In order the more 
clearly to evince this point, I shall endeaviMir to iUustrate 
the Hebrew paralleltsm according to its different species, 
first by examples taken from those books commonly al- 
lowed to be poetical, and afterwards by correspondent 
examples from the books of the prophets. 

The poetical conformation of the sentences, which 
has been so often alluded to as characteristic of the He- 
brew poetry, consists chiefly in a certain equality, re- 
semblance, or parallelism between the members of each 
period ; so that in two lines (or members of the same 
period) things for the most part shall answer to things, 
and words to words, as if fitted to each other by a kind 
of rule or measure* This parallelism hus much variety 
and many gradations ; it is sometimes more accurate 
and manifest, sometimes more vague and obscure : it 
may however, on the whole, be said to consist of three 
species. . ., 

The first species is the synonymous paralleUamy 
when the same sentiment is repealed in different, but 
equivalent terms. This is the most frequent of all, and 
is often conducted with the utmost accuracy and neat- 
ness: examples are very numerous, nor will there ybe 
any great difficulty in the chcMce of thtwk ; on this uc^ 
count I shall select such as are most remarkable in oth« 
er respects. 

« When Israel went out from E^ypt ; 

*^ The house of Jacob from a strange people ; 

« Judah was as hb sacred heritage ; 

<* Israel his dominioD. 

<< The sea saw, and fled ; 

«• Jordan Mmed back ; 

960 ntOniETIC FCmilT. Lmt« 19. 

« The noiiDUaM Itwp^ like rams; 

<« The billf like the bods of the flock* 

« What ailed thee, O sea, that thou fleddest ; 

« Jordan, that thou tuniedat back : 

« Moomainsv that je leaped like rams ; 

« And hills, like the sons of the flock ? 

<< At the presence of the Lord treinble« thoo earth ; 

^ At the pretence of the God of Jacob ! 

« Who turned the rock into a lake of waters ; 

« The flint into a water spring?*** 

The prophetic Muse is no less elegant and correct : 
« Arise, be thou enlightened ; for thj light is come ; 
« And the glory of Jshotab is risen upon thee. 
» For behold darkness ahall cover the earth ; 
<* And a thick vapour the nations : 
« But upon thee shall Jbhotab arise; 
« And his glorjr upon thee shall be coospacootia. 
« And the nations shall walk in thj light ; 
«< And kings in the brightness of thy rising."^ 

Observe also that famous prophecy concerning the hu- 
miliation, and expiatory sufferings of the Messiah : 

^ Who hath believed our report ; 

** And to whom hath the arm of Jehovah been manifbsted : 

^ For he groweth up in their sight like a tender sucker; 

^«^ And like a root from a thirsty soil ; 

« He hath no ibrm, nor any beauty that we should regard him ; 

* Nor is his countenance such, that we should desire him* 

** Despised, nor accounted in the number of men ; 

<* A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; 

^ As one that hideth his face from us : 

^ He was despised, and we esteemed him not. 

^ Surely our infirmities he bath borne s 

^ And our sorrows hc^^ hath carried them. 

» Pi. CMT. 

19 itAx. Ix. 1—3. ** In the brightness of thy rising** is an ezpresskm 
uncommonly beautiful and simple ; 1 neyer could read it without a glow 
of tranquil pleasure corresponding to the scene which the image ezhibiti* 


14 Some copies» manuscript as well as printed, peiai ooi in the msrgia 

LaoT. 19. imraETIC POCTRT. jMl 

a Yet we tbcmglit bim jndicttilly MickM i 

<« Smitten of God and afflicted. 

^ But be was wounded for our traosgreauona ; 

^ Was smitten for our iniquities t 

c Tbe cbastisement bj whicb our peace was effected was lud 

^ upon him ; 
^ And by bis bmiaes we are bealed/*» 

Isaiah is indeed excellent» but not unrivalled in this kind 
of composition : there are abundant exampks in the 
other prophets ; I shall, however» only add one from 
Hosea» which is exquisitely pathetic. 

« How sball I resign thee, O Ephraim ! 

M How sball I deliver thee up, O Israel ! 

M How sball 1 resign thee as Admah ! 

^ How sball 1 make thee as Zeboim ! 

^ My heart is changed within me ; 

<c I am warmed also with repentance towards thee. 

^ I will not do according to tbe feryeur of my wrath, 

<< I will not retumifl to destroy Ephraim : 

« For I am God, and not man ; 

u i7Holy in the midst of thee, though I inhabit not thy cities/'" 

the werd mrr C^J to be inierted ; (see BiU. Heb. Edit Micsaius, Var. 
Lect. in loc.) The Stb. aad Voia. certainly espiew it, ind indeed the 
repetition of tbe word giyet exqnitite force and eleguice to the Une. 
'* This word occurs in tbe text of twelve MSS. copies» and in three print- 
« ed," K. Jiuthai^9 JVote. 

U isAi. Uu. 1—5. 

10 A beantiftil Hebraism to express the repetition of any thing ; in this 
place it has peculiar force and pathos. T. 

V There is hardly any thing in which translators have differed more 
than in the explanation of this line ; which is the more extraordinary when 
we consider thai the words themselves are so well known, snd the Struct- 
ure of the period so plain and evident, ^xmem is almost singular in his 
explanation. Cmmn-in he, **1 am not one of those who inhabit cities ; 
** who live according to human laws; who think cruelty justice." Cab- 
Tiuo follows JxnovB. There is in foct in the latter member of tbe sen- 
tence Tsa MiaM i6 a parallelism and synonyme to Mb btm in tbe former. 
Tbe fiiture max has a Irequentative power (see Ps. xxii. 3 and 8,) << I am 
not accustomed to enter a city; i am not an inhabitant of a city." For 
there is a beantilhl oppesition of the diflbcnt parts ; ** I am God and not 

tm monoTK poitit* imcw^ i«* 

There b great variety m the form of the 17110117111009 
parallelism, some instances of which are deserving of 
remark. The parallelism is sometimes formed by the 
iteration of. the former member, either in the whole or 
in part : 

^ Much have they oppveued «le irom wof ymalh «p» 

« May larael now say ; 

» Much have they oppressed me from my youth, 

« Yet have they not prevailed agaiast «e/^* 

« God of vaogeance, Ibhovar ; 

^ God of vengeance» shew thpelt 

•* How long shall the wicked, O Jehovah» 

*< How long shal) the wicked triumph V*^ 
<< With the jaw-bone of an ass, heaps upon heaps i^ 
M With the jaw-bone of an ass a thousand oien have I amittBO."^ 

Thus» Isaiah : 

a Because in the night Ar is destroyed, Moab is undone ! 

** Because in the night Kir is destroyedi Moab is undone !*^ 

** man ;** this ii amplified in the next linct and the anthhcais a little va- 
ried. *' I am thy God, inhabitiag with tkee, but in a peculiar and extrMr- 
^ dinary manner, not in the manner of men." Nothing I think can be 
plainer or moi« eltgaat than this. Jhuhm't JVVie. 

■> Hofl. xi.' a, 9. M Psalm cxzix. 1, 3. M Psaix xciv. 1 and 3. 

si Jcs. XV. 16. " It will admit of a doubt whether these words mi^ not 
*< be rendered : With the jan-hwe tf an 09$, in confimn^, I have ce^fimed 
*< them. For this soema to be the grammatical construction of the words ; 
** and the word Chamar commonly signifies to trouble or conjtue. 80 it is 
* rendered by the Seventy, fi» wmym «w f^pUMuppr f$iM4« «^, With the jo»- 
** bane of an aee, in exterminating^ I have e xt er mina ied ihem, following the 
*' same construction, but taking the more violent sense of the word» ife« 
*' etrotfin^f or exterminating / which sense it still retuns in the Arabic, for 
c< in that language it signifies not only to trouble or diePurb^ bat also to 
*' avervfhelm or suppreee. Bui if in favour of the other inteifiretation» which 
*' is also adopted in our common translaidoa, the passage in £xon, viiL 14^ 
*' be referred to fchemanm^ ehemerim, in heaps $) it may be said in answer, 
*' that the words in these two passages assume a difiersBt fona. The verb 
** chamar in this place seems most directly suited to express taai«^t and 
** confusion, and is also introduced for the sake of the paronooissia, and the 
f* similarity of aound with the preceding word cAemsr» an art. iC 

» Chap. XT. 1. 

So Nahum dso in the cxor^om of Iu8 mbKitie prophecy : 

<< Jehovah is a jealous and avenging God : 

^ Jkhotah avengetb* and is wrathful ; 

* Jeiiovam avengetli Ims adtertaiics ; 

tt Aad he restfrveth indiffwitom for hia «Mmiea.''*' 

There i» fivquently aodietfaifig wanting in the htter 
member, which must be repeated from the former to 
complete the sentence : 

<< The king sent and released him ; 

« The ruler of the people, and set him freo/'s^ 

In the same manner Uakb i 

" Kings shall see him aod shall rise ii|> ; 

« Princes, and thejr shall «oarship him t 

(& For the sake of Jbhovax^ «hio ia. fi^tllfulf 

<< Of the Holy One of Israel, for he hath chosen thee.'^ 

Frequently the whole of the latter division answers only 
to some part of the former : 

<< Jehotah reigtteth, let the earth rejoice ; 

" Let tile multitude of islands be glad."» 

«< Arise, be tbou enlightened ; for thy light is come ; 

<* And the glory of Jbhovah is risen upon thee.">' 

Sometimes also there are triplet pamttelisms* In these 
the second line is generally synonymous with the first, 
whilst the third either begins the period, or concludes 
ity and frequently refers to both the preceding : 

** The floods have lifted up, O Jshovab, 
« The floods have lifted up their voice ^ 
M The floods have lifted up their v^avea* 
<( Than the voice of many waters, 
<* The glorious vraves of the sea, 
^ JfcaovAH on high is more glorious.^^ 
«« Come and let us return unto Jbhotab ; 
<« For he hath torn, and he will heal us ; 
^ He hath smittent and he will hind us up : 

»Nab. L3. . s« PsAUi cv. 20. » Isai. alix. r.^ 

M PiAui zcviL 1. sv IsAi» Uu 1. 9 PsAfcK xeUi 3, 4- 


« After two di^s be will revive «s; 
^ On the third day be will raise us up ; 
^ And we shall live in his sight.">0 

In stanzas (if I may so call them) of five lines, the na- 
ture of which is nearly similar, the line that is not paral- 
lel is generally placed between the two distichs : 
^ Like M the iioo growletb, 
^ Even the young Iioo over bis pref ; 
<* Though the whole company of shepherds be called Uigether 

^ against him i 
^ At their voice he will not be terrified, 
« Nor at their tumult will he be bumbled."*» 
«Askalen shall see it, and shaU fear; * 

a Gasa shall also see h, and shall be greatly pained : 
« And Eknm shall be pained, because her expectation is put to 

^ shame ; 
o And the king shall perish from Gaza ; 
^ And Askalon shall not be iiihabited/'^^ 

Those which consist of four lines generally fcMin two 
Tegular distichs; but there is sometimes a peculiar 
artifice to be perceived in the distribution of the sen* 
fences : 

<< From the heavens Jbhovah looketh down, 

^ He seeth all the children of men ; 

<« From the seat of his rest he contemplateth 

<< All the inhabitants of the earth/'n 

« I will drench my arrows in blood, 

<< And my sword shall devour flesh ; 

<< In the blood of the slain and the captives ; 

<* From the bushy head of the enemies/^ 

In both the above passages, the latter members are to 
be alternately referred to the former. Isaiah too uses 
with great elegance this form of composition : 

«« For thy husband is thy maker ; 

M Jehovah God of hosts is his name : 
9 Hos. yi. 1, 2. 30 Uai. xxxL 4. 51 Zscs; ix. 4& 

9 Pb. xzzJiL U» 14. M Dan, zasL 49. 

Upr. If. PftOPHETIC POETRY. 3«$ 

: ^ And tliy radeemer is the Hdf One of Israel ; 
<< The God of the whole earth shall he be called.''^ 

The sense has an alternate correspondence in these 
fines* In the following the form of the construction is 
alternate : 

« And his land is filled with silver and gold; 
<< And there is no end to his treasures t ' 
<< And his land is filled with horses, 
« Neither is there any end to his obariots.'^ss 

The following is perhaps* a singular instance : 

^ Who is like unto JehoTah our God I 
^ Who is exalted to dwell on high, 
« Who humbleth himself to look dowui 
<< In the heavens, and in the earth."3« 

Here the two members of the latter line are to be re- 
ferred severally to the two preceding lines ; as if it 
were : " Who is exalted to dwell in the heavens, and 
^' who humbleth himself to inspect the things that are 
" in the earth," 

The antithetic parallelism is the next that I shall 
specify, when a thing is illustrated by its contrary be- 
ing opposed to it. This is not confined to any partic- 
ular form : for sentiments are opposed to sentiments, 
Words to words, singulars to singulars, plurals to phi* 
rals, Sec. of which the following are examines: 

•< The blows of a friend are faithful ; 

^ But the kisses of an enemy are treacherous.^ 

*< The cloyed will trample upon an honey-comb ; 

« But to the hungry every bitter thing is sweet. 

MlsAi. lir. 5. ^ Ibat. li r. ^ Ps. cxiit. 5, 6. 

ST M To this very dsy the word "my is in use is the East» and in an Ais^ 
** bic Lexicon» which is accounted one of the best, it is explained by the 
" word aia (the same as the Hebrew so) to /akify. Whence it is evi- 
«* deni, that there is an antithesis between the tvo hemistichs, which the 
** LXX hare in vain attempted to explain» they have nam», 9p9taane9U9 or 
"-oolunutry. Tbqyse^tohi^eresditnroup." H. 

« There is who makcth ^rmtelf riehi and ranelh «11 ttubgft ; 

«t Who maki'th him^ctt poor yK:i h«th diuch w^tkb. 
« The rich man » wiac in bia own eyes, 

<< Sm the poor «urn rbat hath diacerniaent to trace him out witt 
" despise him "» 

There is sometimes a contraposition of parts in the 
same sentence, sqch as occurs oiicc in the above ; and 
as appears in the following : 

** I am swarthy but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem ; 

^ As the tenc»tif Kedar, as the pavilions of SolomGD.**^ 

The last line hf re is also to be divided and separately 
applied to the preceding, '^ swarthy as the tents of Ke- 
^ dar ; comelf as the pavilions of Soiotnon ;^ so like- 
wise in the enigma oi Sampson : 

M Oat <if die eater came Ibitll «Mat ; 

^ And out of the «tnmg came fevft sweetntea*'^ 

This form of compositioi^ indeed, agrees best \rith a- 
dages and acute sayings : it is therefore very prevalent 
in the proverbs of Salomon, in some of which the prin- 
tupal fbrte and elegance depend on the exactness of the 
antithesis. It is Tiot however inconsistent with the su- 
perior kinds of Hebrew poetry ; for w« meet with it in 
the thanksgiving ode of Hannah, which is imitated in 
dus particular, as weU as b the general forna of its com* 
position in that of the Vir^n Mary : 

*' Tbe bows of the mighty are braken ; 

^ And they tbat stumbled are girded with strength ; 

<< The full have hired themselves for bread ; 

^ And the hungry have ceased tc/^ lUnger : 

3t Prov. ax«1&. 6, 7 aiii. 7. aa^viiL II. » gone of Sexaitoa i. 5. 
4s Jm». Zfv. 14. The solution of the enigms by the Phlltstines It metri- 
cal, as well as the answer of SanpaoR to them. lb. y 18. jhuUr^M Vgte. 

41 « There ia eviilentlv aomctfaing wanting after fChadelttJ ceated, in 
« order to complete the sentence. What if we take the word gnad from 
« the beginning of the next verse, and so understand it as derived from the 
" verb (>fii«>f</J to ipoU er-rtft f The sense will tihen be the htu^^ tea^- 

Ucvw If. PIIOraBTIC rOBTRV. w 

« The bm» filto b«th bom^ leven ; 

« And abe «ho hMl aany children 1« become (huUeM. 

^ JsHOVAH kilkth «id maketh a^Uve ; 

** He ca»teth down to hell, and lifteth up. ^ 

^ Jkhoyau maketh poor, and roaketh rich } 

** Depresseth, and also exalteth.^ 

The sublimer poetry seldom indeed adopts this style. 

Isaiah, however, by means of it, without departing from 

his usual dignity, adds greatly to the sweetness of his 

composition in the following instances : 

tt In a IHtle anger have 1 foraakeo thee ; 

^ But with great mercies will I receive thee again : 

<* lo a abort wrath I hid my face for a moroeoi Grom thee ; 

^ But with everlasting kindness will I have merey on tbea/*^ 

^ Behold my servants shall eat, but ye shall be fiitnisbed ; 

<^ Bt-.hold my aervam» sbi^l drink, but ye «ball be tblmy } 

tt Behold my scrvama shall vejeke, but ye aball be confounded ( 

*^ Behold my servants shall sing aloud, for gladness of hdart ; 

<< But ye ahall ery aloud for grief of heart ; 

^ And in the anguish of a broken spirit shall ye howl."^ 

There is a third species of parallelism, in which the 
sentences answer to each other, not by the iteration of 
the same image or sentiment, or the opposition of theit 
contraries, but merely by the form of construction. To 
this, which may be called the Syntlietic or Constructive 
Parallelism, may be referred all such as do not come 
within the two former classes : I shall however produce 
a few of the most remarkable instances : 

<* The law of Jbhoyau is perfect, restoring the soul ; 

<* The testimony of Jbhovah is sore, making wise the simple : 

M The precepts of Jehovah are rights rejoicing the heart ; 

« The commandment of Jbb ovah is clear, enlightening the eyes e 

** The fear of Jbbovah is pore, enduring fior ever ; 

**€4Jr9m pkmderiofh that is» oa «ocount of their poverty, as in Job 
iU. ir." H. 

« 1 Saic. ii. 4—7. compare Luai i. 52, 53. 

«^ ISAI. liv. 7, 8. H 44 IS4T. Ixv. 13, 14. 

3«S PllOPHETIC POBTRY. Lmet*^ Itt. 

*^ The judgements of Jbhovah are tnitb^ they «re yM, allogctfier. 

** More desirable than gold, or than much fine gold ; 

^ Atid sweeter than honey» or the dropping of faoDey-coiiibt.''^ 

This kind of parallelbm generally consists of verses 
somewhat longer than usual, of which there are not 
wanting examples in the prophets : 

<! ^ow hath the oppressor ceased ! the estactress of gold ceased I 
*^ Jeqovah hath broken the staff of the wicked, the sceptre of the 

<< He that smote the people in wrath with « stroke unremitted ; 
^ He that ruled the nations in anger is persecuted, and none bin-! 

** dereth. 
^ The whole earth is at rest, is quiet ; they burst forth into a joy- 

« fu) shout ; 
<* Even tb« fir-trees rejoice over thee, the cedars of Lebanon : 
« Since thou art fallen, no feller hath come up agabst us. 
^ Hades from beneath is moved bccauae of thooi to meet thee at 

M thy coming : 
^ He rouseth for thee the mighty dead, all the great chiefo of the 

« earth ; 
? He maketh tp rifit up from thei^ thrones All the kii^ of the 

" nations/'^ 

Triplets are frequently formed of tliis kind of pandlelbm:^ 
^* The clouds overflowed with water ; 
*< The atmosphere resounded ; 
^ Thine arrows also issued forth ; 
M The voice of thy thunder was in the skies ; 
^ The lightnings enlightened the world ; 
^ The earth uembled and shook/'^^ 
f< I wilt he as the dew to Israel : 
V He shall blossom as the lily n 
^ And he shall stride his roots like Lebanon, 
^ His suckers shall spread, 
M And bis glory shall be as the olive»tree, 
** And his smell as Lebanon/'^' 

Frequently one line or member contains two sentiments ; 

«7 Psalm Ixxvii. 18, 19. « Hoi. xiv. 6, 7. 

« Fsiui xfat. a-lt 45 Uai. xiv. 4—9- 

Lect. 19. PROPHETIC POETRY. 909 

tf The iMtloiHi nged ; the kmgdoms were mored ; 

^ He uttered a voice ; the earth was dissoWed : 

H Be still» and know that I am God : 

M I will be exalted io the nationsi I will be exalted io the earth.''^^ 

<< When thou passest through waters I am with thee ; 

^ And through rivers, xhey shall not overwhelm thee i 

^ When thou walkest in the fire thou shalt not be scorched ; 

<( And the flame shall not cleave to thee.*''^ 

There is a peculiar figure which is frequently made use 
of in this species of parallelism, and which seems alto- 
gether poetical : that is, when a definite number is put 
for an indefinite, principally, it should seem, for the sake 
of the parallelism : for it sometimes happens, that the 
circumstances afterwards enumerated do not accumtdy 
accord with the number specified : 

«« In ttz troubles wHl he delWer thee ; 

^ And in seyen there shall no evil touch thee/" I 

^ God hath said once ; 

» Twice also have I heard the same.'*'* 

That frequently-repeated passage of Amos is well^ 

** For three transgressions of Damascus, 

« And for four, I will not restore it.*''* 

The variety in the form of this synthetic parallelism 
is very great, and the degrees of resemblance almost in* 
finite : so that sometimes the scheme of tlie parallelism 
is very subtile and obscure, and must be developed by 
art and ability in distinguishing the different members 
of the sentences, and in distributing the points, rather 
than by depending upon the obvious construction. How 
much this principle pervades the Hebrew poetry, and 
how difficult of explication it is^ may in some de^ee be 
illustrated by one example* This appears to consbt of 
a single line, if the sentiment only be considered : 

fo Psalm xlvi. 6 and 10. ^ Isai. xliii. 2, 

n Job t. 19. «> Psaxm Izu. 12» *> Amos L 3» &c. 


(( I alao have «noimad my King' on SiiMi» tkr mnmtekiof aigr siic- 

But the general form and natdre of the Psahn requires 
that it should be divided into two parts or versicles ; as 
if it were, 

M I alao have anointed my king ; 

M I have anointed him in Ston» the mooolain of my motudtf" 

Which indeed ^ Masoiites seem to have perceived ia 
this as well as in other places.** 

In this peculiar conformation» or parallelism of the 
sentences, I apprehend a consideiuble part of the He- 
brew metre to consist ; though k is not improbable thiA 
some regard was also paid to the numbers and feet« 
But of this particular we have at present so little infor- 
mation, that it is utterly impossible to determine, whedi* 
er it were modulated by the ear alone, or according to 
any settled or definite rules of prosody. Since however 
this, and other marks or vestiges, as it were, of the met- 
ileal art are alike extant in the writings of the prophets, 
and in the books which are commonly allowed to be po- 
etical, I think there is suflSicient reason to rank them in 
the same class. 

Lest I should seem to have attributed too much to 
this conformation of the sentences, and to have rashly 
embraced an opinion not supported by sufficient author- 
ity, I shall beg leave to quote to you the opinion of Aza- 
rias, a Jewish Rabbi, not indeed a very ancient, but a very' 
approved author.** •• Without doubt,'* says he, ** the 
^* sacred songs have certain measures and proportions,' 

M Pf ALX ii. 6. 

'' For they mark tlie word ^3bo with the distinctive accent ^thnae, by 
whidi they generally distingilUh the mtemhers cf the dbtich». See Fajipr 
«Til. r. xxxxl 3. zzxiii. 14. cii. 8. cxvL U9» tO, U» 15» 16. cxi^vti. ^, 

Authm'M MtU. 
<9 Mantifta DiM^ert. ad libraiQ eossi, p. 418. 

Ucf. If r MlOPHKTtC POETRT> an 

<* but thiM do not consist in the anmberof die syllables 
^ perfect or imperfect, according to the fom of the 
^ modefn verse ; but in the nuifiber of things, snd of 
f* the parts of thkigs ; that is, the subject md the pre* 
^* dicafte; and their adjuncts, in every sentence and pm* 
^ position.*' (Which words of Asanas are, however^ 
to be understood with some limitation ; nor are they to 
be literally interpreted according te their sense in kgie* 
id cnea^s, for he prooecds,) '^ Thus a phrase, contmn- 
^ ing two paftp of i^ proposition, consists of two mea* 
*^ sures : add aaortier containing four, and they become 
^ fMa: measures : another again contaiiiii^ three parts 
** of a prtiposition, connsts of three measures ; add to 
<* it another of the like, and you have six measunes : for 
^* you are not to number the words or syllables but the 
" sentences.^ For instsmce, ** Thy right hand O Je- 
^ ROVAH,'' aocordiiMg to Azarias, consists of two terms, 
or parts of a proposition ; to which is connected, *^ is 
*' ail glorious in power," consbting likewise of two 
terms ; diese joined together make a Tetrameter. The 
following is constructed on a similar principle : 
<* Thy right-hand) O jEHovASt hath crushed the enemy .**'' 

Tbtts in the following proportions there are three terms 
or measures, 

u My«doctrii>e shall»drop| as-tbe-raia ; iny-word shall-dialil» as* 
" the-dew."» 

•* And thus joined together they form an hexameter." 
In &ct, what he has remarked here is neither groundless 
nor altogether just. For with respect to many passages, 
in which the distribution of the sentences is very une- 
qual, and in which the propositions have but little corres- 
pondence with each other, as happens frequendy in the 
Psalms, we must have recourse to some other solution; 

\ «7 ExoD. XT. 6. «* DiVT. xxxii. 2. 


and when the sentences are most regular and correct^ 
they cannot at all times be reduced to his rules. But 
although the present question does not depend upon this 
single point, no man, I think, who reads with attention 
the poetic books, and especially what may be properly 
called the prophetic part of them, will entertain a doubt 
that it is of the utmost importance to distinguish the 
system of the verses. 

But should all that has been remarked concenuqg the 
members and divisions of the sentences appear tig^t and 
trifling to some persons, and utterly undeserving any la- 
bour or attention ; let them remember that nothing can be 
of greater avail to the proper understanding of any writer, 
than a previous acquaintance with both his general char- 
acter, and the peculiarities of his style and manner c^ 
writing : let them recollect that translators afiKl commen- 
tators have fallen into errors upon no account more fre- 
quently, than for want c^ attention to this article ; and 
indeed, I scarcely know any subject which promises 
more copiously to reward the labour of such as are stu- 
dious of sacred criticism, than this one in particular.* 

f^ Professor Michailib has subjoined a very considerable addition to this 
Lecture on the use of the paralleiisiD in the explanation of Scriptave^ of 
which he produces several instances. 

In Psalm zxii. 3, our English translation runs thus : '< They shall come» 
^ and shall declare hb righteousness unto a people that shall be bom, that 
** he hath done thit :** and in the Common Prayer, *' unto^a people that 
** shall be boai» whom the Lard hath made** The professor jusUy observes, 
that the word which is here rendered ri^hteotuneee, may, with equal pro- 
priety, be translated truths and then, by the assistance of the parallelism, 
the just sense is restored, and the passage will run thus : 
** They shall come, and shall declare his truth ; 
*' To a people that shall be bom Cthey ehaU declare J that ho hath perform* 

« ed tV' 
That is, that he hath fulfilled his promises, and divine predictions. 

PsALK XXV. 13. The literal translation is, 
** His soul shall rest in good, 
'* And his seed shall inherit the land,^ 


It is not easy to say in what sense we are to take the former part of the 
sentence. It may either be to tleep tecure from danger ; or, to enjay eate 
andplentyf i. e. to remain tn a protperouo etate / or lastly it may indicate lAs 
otaie after death, er a happineeo beyond the grave. This last meaning the 
professor prefers on account of the parallelism, since the corresponding 
member of the sentence, At* oeed ohatt inherit the land, is undoubtedly among 
those blessing! which the Deity promises to the righteous after death. 
PsAKH cxxz. 90. oar tranftlation t 
** For they speak against thee wickedly» 
** And th'me enemies take thf name in yain.*^ 
The professor thinks that naea Hehtroe may be translated to profett falsely 
or to perf^tre themselves. The sense of the second line will therefore run 
thus : Who twear faUeiy iff thy citiee, i. e. by Siohem, Bethlehem, Jems». 
lem, &c. by which it was customary for the Jews to swear, as is plain from 
Matt. y. 35, and this interpretation not only is such as would be suggesti> 
ed by a proper attention to the parallelism» but is perfectly conespondcBl 
to the context : 

** I would that thou wouldest slay the wicked, O God ; 
** And that the men of blood should depart from me ! 
** Who use thy name only ibr deceit, 
^ And swesr finely by thy cities. 
•« Do not I hate them, who hate thee,** 8cc. 
PsAUC cxxxvii. 9. 

*' Who giveth to the beast his food, 
** And to the young ravens which ciy.*^ 
Move agneable to the Hebrew idiom thu», 
** Who giveth to the bea$t his food, 
*< And to the young ravens that for which they cry.^ 
But tile most complete examples of the use of the parallelism will $e 
Ibond in bur AlitlK>r*s Prdttii^uuay Diwertiit]oi& to hia Isaiah. T. 



in the prophetic discipline and precepts, nor afterwards 
lived conformably to the manner of the prophets. I do 
not, however, comprehend how this can diminish his 
claim to a divine mission and inspiration ; it may pos^- 
bly enable us, indeed, to assign a reason for the dissimi* 
larity between the style of Daniel and that of the other 
prophets, and for its possessing so little of the diction 
and character of poetry, which the rest seem to have im^ 
bibed in common from the schools and discipline in 
which they were educated.* 

There occur, moreover, in the writings of the proph- 
ets, certain passages, which although poetical, yet do 
not properly belong to this species of poetry. I a&ude 
to some instances in Isaiah, Habbakuk, and Ezekiel, 
which appear to constitute complete poems of diftrent 
kinds, odes as well as ^elegies. These also being ex- 
cepted, all the other predictions of the prophets (includ- 
ing such as are extant in the historical books, most of 
which have been occasionally quoted in the course of 

s We may add the decline of Uie Hebrew langvage^ vhich in the Baby- 
lonish ci^tivity lost all its grace and elegance. Nor among so many evils. 
vhich befel their nation, is it surprising that they should have neither 
leisure nor spirit for the cultivation of the fine arts ' Besides, when a Ian» 
guage is confined chiefly to the lowest of the people» it is hardly to he ex- 
pected that it shaul4 produce any poets worthy of the name. Le^ ^^y iiian 
compare wliat was written in Hebrew before and after the Babylonish ex- 
lie, and 1 apprehend he will perceive no less evident marks of dec&y and 
nun than in the LAtin language. Wherefore it a|^>ears to n^ very im«v 
prob|U»le» that any psalms, which breathe a truly sublime and poetical 
spii'it, were composed after the return from Babylon, excepting perh^» 
that elegant piece of poetry the cxxxviith. Certainly nothii^ can be more 
absurd than the error, into which some commentators have fallen, in at- 
tributing some of the sublimest of tlie psalms to Ezra, than whose style 
npthing can be meaner or more ungi*aceful. Indeed I have myself some 
doubts concerning the cxxxixth, which I am more inclined to attribute ta 
Jeremiah, or some contemporary of his ; and I think the taste and spirit of 
the bard, who s.inig so sweetly elsewhere the miseries of his nation, may 
Very plainly be di%ce;neJ in it. M. 


Aese lectures, form a whole, and constitute that partic» 
ular species of poetry, which I distinguish by the ap- 
pellation of prophetic I shall now endeavour, in the 
first place, to o&r to your consideration such a descrip- 
don of this species of poetry, as may serve to distin- 
guish it from the rest ; and afterwards to delineate the 
peculiar character of each of the prophets, as far as may 
be consistent with the object of these Lectures. 

The genius of the prophetic poetry is to be explored 
by a due attenticm to the nature and design of prophecy 
itself. The immediate design of all prophecy is to in- 
form or amend those generations that precede the events 
predicted, and it is usually calculated either to excite 
their lears and ^j^rehensions, or to afford them conso- 
lation. The means which it en^loys for the accom- 
plishtnent of these effects, are a general amplification of 
the subject, whether it be of the menacing or consola- 
tory kind, copious des€9riptions, diversified, pompous, 
and sublime ; in this also it necessarily avoids too great 
a degree of exactness, and too formal a display of the 
minuter circumstances ; rather employing a vague and 
general style of description, expressive only of the na- 
ture and magnitude of the subject : for prophecy in its v 
very nature implies some degree of obscurity, and is ^^>/' 
always, as the apostle elegantly expresses it, *^ like a 
** light glimmering in a dark place, until the day dawn, 
** and the day-star arise."^ But there is also a further 
use and intention of prophecy, which regards those who 
live after the prediction is accomplished, and that is, the 
demonstration and attestaticvi which it affords of the di- 
vine veracity : this evidently appears to demand a dif- 
ferent form of enunciation ; for correct language, apt 
imagery, and an exact display of circumstances, are pe- 

»2 9. 


cuUarly adapted to this purpose. Sinee^ however, k 
very plain description would totally withdraw the veil 
of obscurity, a more sparing use of thb liberty of par- 
ticularizing is frequently adequate to that purpose ; for 
the particular notification of one or two circanstances, 
united with a general propriety in the imagery, the 
proper adaptation of which shall appear after the event, 
will afford an accumulation of evidence that cannot be 
withstood, as might be demonstrated in a number of 
instances.^ The prophetic st3rie, therefore, is chiefty 
constructed on the former principle ; that is, it com* 
monly prefers a general mode of amplifying and elevat» 
ing the subject, rarely and cautiously descending to a 
circumstantial detaiU 

Tho-e is also another particular, which must not be' 
omitted. Prophecy frequently takes in, at a sin^e 
glance, a variety of events, distinct both in nature and' 
time, and pursues the extreme and principal design' 
through all its different gradations. From this cause 
also it principally employs general ideas, and expresses 
them by imagery of established use and acceptation, fi)r 
these are equally capable of comprehending the general 
scope of the divine counsels, and of accompanying the 
particular progressions of circumstances, situations, and 
events ; they may be easily applied to the intermediate 
relations and ends, but must be more accurately weighed 
and proportioned to equal the magnitude and importance 
of the ultimate design. 

If such be the genius of prophecy ; if it be chiefiy 
employed in describing only the exterior lineaments of 
events, and in depicting and embellishing general effects; 
it will not be difficult to understand with how much ad* 
vantage it may make use of the assistance and nilnistra- 

4 See Lcct. IX. conclusi^ 


tioti of poetry^ and in particular of the parabolic style $ 
die nature of which, as I have already copiously stated, 
is to afford an abundance and variety of imagery of es» 
tafolished use and acceptation, from which every subject 
may receive the most ample and the most proper embel- 
lishments» Hence too we may eaaly collect the pecuU 
iar character c£ the poetry. 

This species of poetry is more ornamented, more 
splendid, and more florid than any other. It abounds 
more in imagery, at least in that species of imagery 
which, in the parabolic sty4e, is of common and estate 
Ushed acceptation, and which, by means of a settliNl an- 
alogy always preserved, is transferred from certain and 
definite objects, to express indefinite and general ideas* 
Of all the images proper to the parabolic style, it most 
frequently introduces those which are taken from natural 
objects and from sacred history : it abounds most in 
metapbcurs, allegories, comparisons, and even in copious 
and diffuse descriptions* It possesses all that genuine 
enthusiasm, which is the natural attendant on inspira- 
tion ; it excels in the brightness of imagination and in 
cleamess and energy of diction, and consequently rises 
lo an uncommon pitch of sublimity : hence also it often 
is very happy in the expression and delineation of the 
fiassions, though more commonly employed in the ex- 
citing of them ; this indeed is its immediate object, over presides as its peculiar province. 

In respect to the order, disposition, and symmetry df 
a perfect poem of the prophetic kind, I do not know of 
any certain definition, which will admit of general appli- 
cation. Naturally free, and of too ardent a spirit to be 
confined by rule, it is usually guided by the nature of 
the subject only, and the impulse of divine inspiration. 
There are not wantiDg, it is true^ instances of great ele- 


gance and perfection in these particulars. Among the 
shorter prophecies I need only mention those of Balaam^ 
each of which is possessed of a certain accuracy of ar- 
rangement and symmetry of form ; they opem with an 
elegant exordium, they proceed with a methodical c(mi- 
tinuation of the subject, and are wound up with a full 
and graceful conclusion. There are many similar in* 
stances in the books of the prophets, and particularly in 
Isaiah, which deserve the highest commendation, and 
may with propriety be classed with the most perfect and 
regular specimens of poetry. I shall select for your con- 
sideration one example from that most accomplished 
writer, which is embellished with all the most striking 
ornaments of poetry : from this instance I shall not only 
demonstrate with what accuracy the propheticMuse some* 
times preserves the proper order and arrangement of the 
parts and circumstances ; but I shall be enabled, at the 
same time, to illustrate most of those positions, which I 
have now laid down, concerning the nature and genius 
of the prophetic poetry. Such an illustration will prob- 
ably be not unnecessary ; since it is to be apprehended, 
that what has been remarked only in general terms upon 
so subtile and difficult a subject, may, without the aid 
of example, appear not a little perplexed and obscure. 

The thirty -fourth and thirty- fifth chapters of Isaiah 
contain a remarkable prophecy. It is a simple, regular» 
and perfect poem, consisting of two parts according to 
the nature of the subject, which, as to its general proper- 
ties, is explained with the utmost perspicuity. The first 
part of the prophecy contains a denunciation of extraor- 
dinary punishment, indeed nothing short of total destruc- 
tion against the enemies of the church of God ; and after- 
wards, in consequence of this event, a full and complete 
restoration is promised to die church itself. The proph- 


et introduces the subject by a magnificent exordium, 
invoking universal nature to the observation of these 
events, in which the whole world should seem to be in<- 

a Draw near, ye nations, and hearken ; . 
*^ And attend unto roe, O ye people ! 
tt Let the earth hear, and the fulness thereof j 
^ The world, and aU that spring from it*" 

He then publishes the decree of Jehovah concerning 
the extirpation of all those nations against whom ** his 
" wrath is kindled :'* and he amplifies this act of ven- 
geance and destruction by an admirable selection of 
splendid imagery, all of which is of the same kind with 
that which is made use of by the prophets upon similar 
occasions ; the nature of which is to exaggerate the 
force, the magnitude, atrocity, and importance of 
the impending visitation ; whilst nothing determinate 
is specified concerning the manner, the time, the place, 
or other minute circumstances. He first exhibits that 
truly martial picture of slaughter and destruction after 
a victory : 

^ And their sUin shall be cast out ; 

^ And from their carcasses their stench shall ascend ; 

<< And the mountains shall melt down with their blood."* 

He then takes a bolder flight, and illustrates his descrip«- 
tion by imagery borrowed from the Mosaic chaos 
(which is a common source of figurative language oa 
tliese occasions, and is appropriated to the expression 
of the downfal of nations ;) and, as if he were display*- 
ing the total subversion of the universe itself: 

^ And all the host of heaven ahail wastfi away ; 
» And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll : 
^ And all their host shall wither ; 

* Chap, xxxiv. 1. ♦ Vcr. 5. 



*^ As tbjK withered leaf droppeth from the fiae» 

*« And as the bii^l^ted fruit from the fig tree."^ 

A diflfcrent ima^ is immediatfly introduced ; a solemQ 
sacrifice is celebrated, arid an unconFimon number of vic<^ 
tims are displayed t J £ h o v a ir himself takes a part in this 
magnificent scene, and every circumstance is brought 
directly before our eyes : 

« For my^^ocd i$ imde baet in tli0 hatfttm ; 

« Behold, on Edom il «hall descend i 

« And on the people justly by me deiFoted to destruction v 

M The sword of JxHOTAir is satiated with blood ; 

« It is pampered with fiit : 

« With ^e blood of lam^ and of goats *, 

^ With the fat pf the reins of rams ; 

M For Jbbotab celebrateth a sacrifice in Botsra, 

^ And a great slaughter in the land of Edom."*^ 

The goats, the rams, the bulls, the flocks, and other 
animals, which ace mentioned in this passage and those, 
which follow^ are common^ used by the prophets ta 
denote the haught}% ferocious, and insolent tyrants and 
chiefr of those nations, which were inimical to God. 
On the same principle we may explain the allusion ta 
Botxra and Idumea» a city and nation in the highest de-^ 
gree obnoxious ta the people of God. These, howev-* 
cr, the prophecy seems only slightly or cursorily to 
glance at : the phraseology is indeed of that kind wfaidi 
expresses generals by particulars ; or consists, as I for» 
meriy remarked, of a figure taken fiom a deteroiiuate 

* Ver. 5, 6: In this, prophecy Edom U particularly marked out as sft 
object of the pivine vengeance. The principal provocAtiou of Edoa wtak 
their insulting the Jews in their distress, and joining against theopfc with 
their enemies the Oiakleans : See Amos i. IL Ezkk. zxv. 1^ jjlzv. 15. 
Pb. cxxzvii. 7. Acootditsf^ly the Edamitet were» together with die raat of 
tiie neighbouring nations, rav^iged and laid w:;ste by Nebudiadncszar : 
See Jke. xxx. 15—86. Mal. i. 2, J, 4i and see Maiijihax Can, CA»f^ Smd 
.<&viii. who calls this the age of the deftcvction of cities. Bp. Lowtb*»^ 
Uaiafii ch. xxsir. JVbfes. T. 

|(Mb« MU GP VMS' fioniETic Mtti'mr. 

aiid'deftfiite obfoot, «nd I7 «Mlogy Applied in a more 

«xtenMve sense; in which respect tlieMiy words which 

tie made use of lialrein thb place'a peeulisr form and 

propriety/ But the same circiuRstance is again dc- 

acribed by a succession of new and splendid images 

borrowed from the overthrow c^ Sodo«i, which, as 

was formerly demonstrated, may be tiermed one of tlie 

common places of the Mspired poets t 

^ For it is the day of Tcngeance to Jkhot ah ; 

« The yemr of recdttiprnse to the defender of ihe came of 8ioD. 

M And her torrents shall be turned into pitchi 

« And her dust into sulphur.; 

<f And her whole land shall become burning pitch x 

^ By rifght or by rfay it shall hot be eitinguished ; 

** For ever ahall her smoke ascend ; 

^ From i^eneraiion' to generation she shall lie desert ; 

^ To everlasting ages no one shall pass UiroMgh ber/'^* 

Lastly, the same event is prefigured under the image oF 
a vast and solitary desert, to which, according to the di» 
vine decree, Aat region is devoied*^ Tki» descripiioa 
the prophet afterwards improves, diversifies, and en- 
brges, by the addition of several important circum.- 
stances, all whicbi however, hav« a certafiA ontttogy an 
connection with each other. 

The other part of the poem is conatrutied upon simi^ 
hx principles, and exhttiits a beautiful contrafist to the 
preceding scene. The imagery possesses ev^ry poasi-* 
bie advantage of ornament and variety ; it is, like the 
former, altogether of a gener^ kind, and of extensive 
application ; but the meaning is plain aAd perspicuous* 
Many of the preceding jmagies ane taken from the sa* 

• See I^owm and ViTaineA on the place, and on chap. Ixiii. t. 
2* Vene 8, 9, 10. 

M Verse 11, Stc-^ycrse 16. " Pdr «nrr ^ three MSS, hare mn* *•:$ 
two others have it m a corrected hand. The Seventy also read mrr." 1^ 
Two MSS. Erfurty read vri See Bib. Heb. Michaxus on the place. 

ctcdhisiory; the £^^g are afaiiMt miiidgr fr^ 
objects oCnature 3 

M Tbe dKMn Mi4 «ke wMtesfadl be ^lad ; 

<« And the ^ilderneM shall rejoice and fieurbb r 

^* Like tbe rose %\n\\ it beautifttUy flourish $ 

^ And the well-watered plain of Jordan shall also rejoice ; 

<< And the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it»' 

'< The beauty of Carinel and of Sharon ; 

« These shall behold tbe glory of Jjueovah^ 

«' The majesty of ojur God/'" . ; . 

I formerly remarked the extensive application of Leba-i 
non and Carmel in a figurative sense,^ and that they are 
aometinnes expressive even of the divine glory and ma- 
jesty.^^ The cultivation and watering of a barren and 
rocky soil is so frequently, I might say invariably^ in 
the paraboUc style employed to denote the <Uvine gmec 
and spiritual endowments, that there is no necessity for 
any further explanation of this sythbol ; nor is the sue* 
ceediog imagery, which, according to a similar analogy, 
seems to iUustmte the same event, less dear and per- 

> To him whoattmtively reads and considers the whole 
poem, the ordei* and arrangement of the subject will be 
more fully apparent The passages which I have noted 
will, however, I apprehend, be sufficient to demonstrate 
tiie species of iniagery, the style, and colours most con* 
genial to the prophetic Muse ; they will also, I flatter 
myself, be sufficient in some measure to explain tile 
manner in which she contrives to display, in the strong- 
est colours, the general nature, magnitude, and impor- 
tance of events ; and at tbe same time to leave the par- 
ticular situations, the intermediate gradations, and all tbe 
minuter circumstances concealed under the bold and 
prominent features of the description, till the accom-: 

«Chap. xxxv. 1, 9. » See Lcct VI. M See Lcct. VIUv 

piihoientiof- 4w praiktion/ There are indeed one or 
two paaaages in this prophecy which wootd serve to iU 
Ittstrate this position 1^ in the rest, Ihe fwconstances 

1' See chap. xxxv. 4, 5« 6, 8. Which, without a doubt» in their proxi* 
mate sense relate to the first coining of the Messiah ; to the miracles which 
vere'perfonnul by him ; to the preacbing of the Goipel $ and the efiusioa 
of the Holy Qpirit. |n the Qtb,. the al>surd interpunctualion, rendered sa^ 
cred by the authority qf the Ma^orites, creates a degree of almost impene- 
trable obscurity. • It IB, however, a true pentacolon, and ought tp be dis- 
^bttted ka tbia maimer : 

i^AndanbigbvayahalLbetbcMi . 

" And it shall be called the way of ho^jness : 
' ** So unclean person shall pass through it : ' 
f*'But be bimidf ihaU be with them, wtdking hi tha way, 

«< 'And the foolish shall not err thei«in.'f 

• > 

Hi, that is, our God,, spoken of before in the 4th Terse ; «r tnnfum cv ifm, 
fou uonk^ wou ifykhn tp ttfiof» Thus 'the C^Hix. the Stb. the VvLe. and some 
of the.mofea modem translators hare distinguished them. ViTmiFai, who 
is by i^ the most learned of the commentators, but too much a slave to 
the^thority of the Ifamites, has in vain attempted a refutation of them^ 

HouBieASf remarks, that the Seventy in the 3d verse, for p^i read rrv» 
conccninig which reading, conceiving it to be of considerable importance, 
IcoDSttlted Hr. Ksonicott. Thpiigb the manuscript copiea, boweTer« aibrd- 
ed no assistance towards the restoration of this word, he very kindly com- 
municated some critical remarks upon the whole chapter, which I shall 
endeavour to explain with. «9 much brevity aa possible. 

Ver. 1. <* Jewmm (they wiU rcjoicep) The old venkma do not allow of 
^ the suffix. Perhaps the D (m) may faaye been added from the begmning 
^ of the next word. It was customary in the Hebrew manuscripts, in or- 
f' der to fill up one line to take the initial letter or letters of the word that 
^ began the next, which, however, they failed not to copy in its proper 

. Ter. 3. It i« well observed by Houbigant, that the Seventy read Ais dlf- 
knu^, §oft, instead of Giitt$'Wt4%mm (with joy and singing) they certainly 
read other words, which they rendered ra tfmfM r« Ufiwnt (the desert plaoes 
of Jordan) i^ the same manner also the ArJbic ; and this reading seems 
most perfectly to agree inth the dctignof the prophet. He thinkait ougbt 
to be read Qaiai Mtikm (the manhes of Jovdan:) I would myself prefer 
Gidah Jordtm (the bank of Jordan.) In the present reading there is neithi r 
meaning nor construction, for an antecedent is wanting, to the word rf> 
(to it) '* The word Oedot occurs in four places, and thrioe is joined to 
V Jordan, (as in this :) and though the singular Gidah does not elsewhere 
\\ occur, it is fi>und in the Cbaldee Oida (a bank.)** 

•'(isllSft.tenbKadY'- If this be admitted, the versioii will ^, 


Md progms of the particular cireiits are ftotjetunSM-: 
ed ; for tfak prophecy k evidently one ci dioae wfaioh 
are not yet completely folfiUed, arid of which the greater 
part at least is yet deposited in die secret counsels of the 
Most High. 

That I may not however condude this lecture wid^ 
out exMbiting the form of some prophetic poem com* 
plete in all parts, I have selected for diis puipose one of 
the profrfiecaes of Balaam^ which I so taCely mendoMd^ 
and which in the course of tiiese lectures h^re more thm 
once deservedly attracted oqr attention : for indeed I do 
not know that the whole scope of the Hebrew poetry 
contains any thing more exquisite or perfi^ct. This, 
which is at present under our consideration^ abounds in 
ffy and splendid imagery copied immediately from the 

** And tlMm «1m ahiat eawlft, O Imi^ of Airditf » 
** Tbe glory of Leliaooii iJulII be f^ven unto thae.*' 
** Bntperiiaps the true reading iMy W ve-thagitU tt (nd tliou ibslt exalt, 
^ O bank ;) for the final Pe ia oflen so written, that it can scaroely be dis- 
^ tinguiahed from the Tau .• aa ia the case with thia aame word in two filSS." 
Ver. 7. ** MaUtxah (a eo«ching-plaee} ahould, it a|ipear8, be in the plv- 
'< ral to agree with ihmum (dragons :) our moat ancient MS. has mem Ibr 
^ kef and another baa rabiixah, retaimng the Jod, though in: a difierent 
*' place. The meaning, however, of thb verto is ; 

" In the place, which waa inhabited by dragons, 

'* Shall grass spring up instead of reeds and rushes." 

Ver. a ** Not only the %r. but also fourteen MBS. omit the second w- 
*' demek, Houbigant thinks, that fiir M we ought to read nb ; and right- 
" ly, for the auffix in the &Uowin|r ▼ev>^ wihi^ r^tes tslfaeaame is mas- 
'* cuiine, laav." 

Yer. 9. ^ After veJ^ideck» (diall wsjk) the woid them fthePeJ seems 
'' wanting: it is ndded by the exx and the Aw.** K. 

YiTximA approves of the oprnk» of the GhaMeo pttNpbtwt, who in ver. 
Bp thua translates : ** and those who pasa that way shall not ikint** He 
however has not embraced the reading, ibr it is plain he did not perceive 
in what manner it had been formed from the Hebrew text The CniiAXiH 
paraphrast douUess, instead of *vah Kxm read ion mV This remark was 
furnished me, with many otheti, by a distinguiiAied character, whose great 
cniditiim neflceU honour upon a. very exalted sltniiftioa. ,iliMs»V -JVt». 

lbct. so. of the prophetic poBTRr. ur 

tablet of netufc ; and b duefly eonspicuous for Ae 
glowing ekgance of the style, and die form aod diversi- 
ty of the fignres. Though every attenpt todiapby dm 
beauties of the Hebrew imi^ery in the poetry of anoth- 
er language must fall gready short of the design, it wilt 
yet give a little vasiety to omriStiidini to intersperse 
them occasionally with modem verse* On these occa- 
sions, as indeed on every other, I must rely upon the 
candour of this audienoe to acoepl^kir good past dMt wil* 
Ik^ tribute of my fiiint endeavours*^ 

In proud mgvnj thy tflnt» expand,. 
Q iiMQlt o^sr the sv^eat hmd z- 
A» tbe broad valss in prospect riiOy 
As gardens by the waters spread. 
As cedars of majestic sise. 
Thai shiide tbe sscred foumun's head. 

Thy torreau sHalT tie earth o'erftow> 
O'erwhelming^eoch obdurate fooi 
In vain tbe mind essays to trace 
The glories of thy countless racey 
In vain thy king's imperial state 
Shall haughty Agag emulate. 

His mighty God's protecting hand 
Led him from Pharaoh's tyrant land. 
Strong as the beast that rules the plaiq^ 
What power his fiary sdalL restrain I 
Who dares resist» his ibrce shall fisoL 
The nations see, and trembling fly, 
^Qr in th' unequal conflict die ; 
And glut with blood his thirsty steel. 

With aspect keen be mark'd his preyf^ 
He couch*4-«In secret ambush lay<-«» 
Who shall tbe fttrious lion dare ? 
Who shall unmov'd his terrors see ? 
«-^Blestf who for thee exalts his prayer ! 
And curst the wrctchj who curscth thee I , 

^ See NvMB. lauv. 5— •> 



Tbe ptfticultf «tyle and chancter of the diflto e nt prapheU : ,irti«tp«rts of 
each of them are poetical» and what otherwiae— Noth^iiy deMnringotf 
notice of thii kind in the poetry of Greece— In the Latin poetxy the 
fourth Eclogue of Tirgil is rcmuicable ; that poem much more obscure 
than It ia generally acoocmted, and has not liitlierto bean pfopcily eK< 

'^ Ihe prophets have each their peculiar character,'* 
says Jerome, speaking of the twelve minor prophets.^ 
The same however might more properly be aflkmed 
with respect to the three greater : for Isaiah is extremely 
different from Jeremiah ; nor is it easy to conceive any 
composition of the same denomination more dissimilar 
to both of them than the book of Ezekiel. 

Isaiah, the first of the prophets, both in order and 
dignity, abounds ia such transcendant excellencies, that 
he may be properly said to afford the most perfect mod- 
el of the prophetic poetry. He is at once elegant and 
sublime, forcible and ornamented; he unites energy 
with copiousness, and dignity with variety. In his sen- 
timents there is uncommon elevation and majesty; in. 
his imagery the utmost propriety, elegance, dignity, and 
diversity ; in his language uncommon beauty and en- 
ergy ; and, notwith^nding the obscurity of his sub- 
jects, a surprising degree of clearness and simplicity. 
To these we may add, there is such sweetness in the 
poetical composition of his sentences, whether it pro* 

1 Pref. in XU. proph. 


ceed from art or genius, that if the Hebrew poetry at 
present is possessed of any remains of its native grace 
and harm>>ny, we shall chiefly find them in the writings 
of Isaiah : so that the saying of Esekiel may most just* 
ly be applied to this prophet : 

<< Thou art the confirmed exemplar of measures) 

^ Full of wisdom^ and perfect in beauty."* 

Isaiah greatly excels too in all the graces of method, 
order, connexion, and arrangement : though in assert- 
ing this we must not forget the nature of the prophetic 
impulse, which bears away the mind with irresistible 
violence, and frequently in rapid transitions from near 
to remote objects, from human to divine ; we must also 
be careful in remarking the limits of particular prodic* 
tions, since, as they are now extant, they are often im* 
property connected, without any marks of discrimina- 
tion, which injudicious arrangement, on some occasions, 
creates almost insuperable difficulties* I lately pro- 
duced a specimen from this prophet of a complete poen^ 
disposed in the most perspicuous order; and in the 
former part of his volume many instances may be found, 
where the particular predictions are distinctly marked. 
The latter part, which I suppose to commence at the 
fortieth chapter, is perhaps the most elegant specimen 
remaining of inspired composition, and yet in this re- 
spect is attended with considerable difficulty. It is, in 
feet, a body or collection of different prophecies, nearly 
allied to each other as to the subject, which, for that 
reason, having a sort of connexion, are not to be sepa- 
rated but with the utmost difficulty. The general subject 
is the restoration of the church. Its deliverance from 
captivity ; the destruction of idolatry ; the vindicatioa 
of the divine power and truth ; the consolation of the 

s BxsK. zxviu. 12. 



IvarHtea, the divine invitation which is extoided to 
than, their incredi^ity, impiety, and rejection ; the call- 
ing in of the Gentiles ; the restoration of the chosen 
people ; the glory and felicity of the church in its per- 
fect state ; and the ultimate destruction of the wickedt 
are all set forth with a sufficient respect to order and 
method. If we read these passages with attention, and 
duly regard the nature and genius of the mystical alle* 
gory, as explained in the eferenth Lecture ; at the same 
time ranembeiing, that all these points have been fiw* 
quehtty touched upon in other prophecies promulged at 
diffirreift times, we shall neither find any irregularity la 
the arrangement of the whole, nor any want of order 
and connexion as to matter or sentiment in the diferent 
parts. I must add, that I esteem the whole book of 
Isaiah to be poetical, a few passages excepted, which, if 
brought together, Would not at most exceed the bulk 
ef five or six chapters. 

Jeremiah, though deficient neither in elegance nor 
sublimity, must give place in both to Isaiah. Jerome* 
seems to object against him a sort of rusticity of lan- 
guage, no vestige of which, I must however confess, I 
have been able to discover. His sentiments, it is true» 
are not always the most elevated^ nor are his periods al* 

3 P%'mf. in Jer, He probably adoptad Uiia opinion from his inaaten» the 
^.Tewa. Of the more modem Rabbiea, Ababbavil (prsf. in Jer.) compUins 
f^rierously of the grammatical ignorance of the prophet, and hia freqneaft 
soleeiama ; which he aaya Ezra corrected by the Keri or marginal notea, 
for tie remarks that Uiey occur^^more frequently in him than dsewhcse. 
Absurd and ridiculous ! to attribute the errors of transcribers, which occur 
in almost every part of the Hebrew text, totiie sacred writefB themsoLves i 
tUe greater part of tfaeae errora he would indeed hare found acarcdy tor 
exist, if he had consulted the more correct copies, which remain even at 
lliis day : for among these very marginal readings, there are but few, which,. 
in the more ancient BC88. are not found in the text Wajltov has k>n|r since 
fpren a remarkable example of this kind (,Pr9leg9m. iv. 12.) The colla- 
tions of Dr. KxinncoTT will aflford many more. Avth^rU JVsre. 


iways neat and compact : bot these are faults commoft 
to those writers, whose principal aim is to excite the 
gentler aflfections, and to call forth the tear of sympathy 
or sorrow. This observation is very strongly exempli- 
fied in the Lamentations, where these are the prevailing 
passions; it is however frequently instanced in the 
prophecies of this author, and most of all in the begin- 
ning of the book/ which is chiefly poetical. The mid* 
die of it is almost entirely historical. The latter part, 
i^n, consisting of the six last chapters, is altogether 
poetical ;' it contains several different predictions, which 
ve distinctly marked, and in these the prophet approach- 
es very near the sublimity of Isaiah. On the whole, 
however, I can scarcely pronounce above half the book 
<rf Jeremiah poetical. 

£zekiel is much inferior to Jeremiah in elegance ; in 
sublimity he is not even excelled by Isaiah : but his 
sublimity is of a totally different kind.* He is deep, 
vehement, tragical ; the only sensation he a&cts to ex- 

« See the whole of chap. ix. <^p. xiv. 17, &c. xx. 14—18. 

' Chap, xlvi— li. to ver. 59. chap. IIL properly beleni^ to the Lamenta^ 
lions, to which it senres aa an exordium. 

• I must confess that I feel not perfectly satisfied with myself, when in a 
matter entirely dependent upon taste, I can by no means brings myself to 
jigree with our author. So far from esteeming Ezekiel equal to Isaiah in sub* 
limity, I am inclined rather to think, that he displays more art and luxuri- 
aace in amplifying and decorating his subject than is consistent with the po- 
etical fervour, or indeed with true sublimity. He is in general an imitator, 
and yet he has the art of ^ving an air of norelty and ingenuity, but n»t of 
grandeur and sublimity, to all his composition. The imagery which is fa- 
miliar to the Hebrew poetry he constantly mskes use of, and those figures 
which were invented by others, but were only glanced at, or partially dis- 
played by those who first used them, he dwells upon, and depicts with such 
accuracy and copiouaness, that he leaves nothing to add to them, nothing to 
be supplied by the reader's imagination. On this scote his ingenuity ia to 
b^ commended, and he is therefi)re of use to his readers, because he enables 
them better to understand the ancient poets i but he certainly does not 
•trike with admiration, or display any trait of sublimity. 


cite is the terrible : his. sentiments aie ekvated, fervidt 
fttU of fire, indignant ; his imagery is crowded, owgn^ 

Of this I will propose only one example : many of the lame kind may be 
found in looking over the irritings of this prophet. In describing a great 
•laughter, it is recy coBinion im the beat poeta to introduce a alight all»- 
aion to birds qf prey- Thus in .the Iliad : 

Oiamrt n tfovt 

** Whose limbs, unburied on the naked shone, 

*• Devouring dogs and hung^ vultures tore.** Pora. 

Thus, it is the language of boaathig in the hbtovical part of Scripture^ 
** I will give thy flesh unto the fowb of the air, and unto the beasts of the 
" field." 1 Sam. xvii. 44. Asaph also in Psalm Ixxviii. 48. " He gave 
M their cattle to the hail, and their flocks U> the birds.** Moses is still 
more sublime, Dairr. xzxiL 23, 24» 

** 1 will spend mine arrows upon them. 

** They thaU be eaten up with hunger, a prey unto birds, 

*< And to bitter destruction ! 

** I will also send the teeth of beaato upon them» 

" With the poison of the reptilea of the earth.'* 
But Habakkck is more excellent than either of the former, chap. liL 5^ 
speaking of the victory of Jbbovab over his enemies : 

•• Before him went the pestilence, 

** And his footsteps were traced by the birds.** 

Doubtless, the Hrdi of prey, Isaiab is somewhat more copious» chapL 
xxxiv. 6, 7. 

** For JjEBOVAH celebrateth a sacrifice in Botzm, 

^ And a great slaughter in the Isnd of Edom. 

" And the wild goats shall fall down with them ; 

<* And the bullocks, together with the bulla : 

** And their own Land shall be drunken with their Uood, 

** And their dust shall be enriched with fat.** 
These and other images Eaekiel baa adopted, and has atudieiisly amplified 
with singular ingenuity ; and by exhausting all the bnagery applicable to 
the subject, has m a manner made tiiem his own» in the first ptedictioa 
of the slaughter of Magog, the whole chapter consists of a most magnifi- 
cent siDplificalion of all the circumatancea and appsratua of wsr, so tha& 
scarcely any part of the subject is left untouched ; be add» afterwards in a 
bold and unuaual style—*' Thus, Son of msn» saith Jkbotab, speak onta 
*' every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field : aaaemble your- 
^ aelvea and come, gather yourselves on every aide to the banquet, which 
** 1 prepkre for you, a great banquet on the mountuns of Israel. Ye shall 
^ «at flesh, and ye shall drmk blood ; ye shall «kt the flesh of the mighty^ 


«nt^ terrific, sometimes almost to di^ust ; his language 
is pompous, sofemui austefe, rough, and at times unpd- 

^ and drink the blood «f the princes of the earth, of rains, of lambs» and 
^ of goat9> of bullocks, all of them fatling^ of Bashan. Te «hall eat fat 
'' till ye be satiated, and drink blood till ye be drunken in the banquet 
** which I haye prepared for you. Te shall be filled at my table with 
*' horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with men of valour, saith the 
** liord JsHOTAH.** EzsK. zzzviii. 17 — 20. In this I seem to read a poet, 
who is nnwilluig to onut any thing of the figuratiTe kind which presents 
itself to his mind, and would think his poem deficient, if he did not adorn 
it with every probable fiction which could be added : and for this very 
reason I cannot help placing him rather in the middle than superior class. 
Observe how the author of the Apocalypse, who is in general an imitator» 
but endued with a sublimer genius, and in whose prose all the splendour 
of poetry may be discerned, has conducted these sentiments of Ezekiel: 
^ I saw an angel standing in the sun ; and he cried with a loud voice unto 
" the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven. Come and gather yourselves 
** together unto the sapper of the great God ; that ye may eat of the flesh 
** of kings, and of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of 
«' horses, and of them that sit upon them, and the flesh of all men, both 
*• free and bond, both amall and great.** Rav. xix. 17, 18, 

But Ezekiel goes yet further, so delighted is he with this image, so in* 
tent is he upon the by-paths of the Muses, that he g^ves even the trees, 
taking them for empires, to the birda, and their shades or ghosts he con* 
signs «to the infernal regions. Thus ohap. zKzi« 13-— 15, ** Upon his 
f* trunk shall all the fowls of heaven remain, and all the beasts of the field 
** shall be upon his branches. To the end that none of all the trees by the 
** waters shall exalt themselves fi>r their height, nor shoot up their top 
^ among the thick boughs ; neither their trees stand up in their height, 
^ all that drink water : fi>r they are all delivered unto death, to the nether 
M parts of the earth in the midat of the children of men, with them that go 
•* down to the pit, &c." In this we find novelty and variety, great fertiU 
ity of genius, but no sublimity. 

I had almost fiirgotten to mention, that Bzekiel lived at a period idien 
the Hebrew )angaage was visibly on the decline. And when we compare 
him with the Latin poets who succeeded the Augustan age, we may find 
some resemblance in the style, somethii^ that indicates the old age of 
poetry. M. 

)f I may speak my mind fir«ely of Esekiel, I must confess I think his 
fault is neither a want of novelty nor of sublimity, but of grace and uni- 
Ibrmity. There is so much inequality in his composition, that scarcely 
any figure is kept op without sinking into the btuho9 / and if he introduce 
in one line a grand image, he pays no attention to the supporting of it in 
the next. What the Gottingen professor remarks concerning the decline 
of the Hebrew languagi^ evident in the poetry of this author, is very just. 



ished : he employs frequent repetitions, not for the sike 
of grace or elegance, but from the vehemence of passion 
and indignation. Whatever subject he treats of, that he 
sedulously pursues, from that he rarely departs, but cleaves 
as it were to it ; whence the connei^ion is in general evident 
and well preserved. In many respects heis perhaps ex* 
celled by the other prophets ; but in that species of com- 
position to which he seems by nature adapted, the forei* 
ble, the impetuous, the great and solemn, not one of 
the sacred writers is superior to him. His diction is 
sufficiently perspicuous, all hb obscurity consists in the 
nature of the subject. Visions (as for instance, amcmg 
others, those of Hosea, Amos, and Jeremiah) areneces» 
sarily dark and confused. The greater part of £zekiel, 
towards the middle of the book especially, is poetical, 
whether we regard the matter or the diction. His pe- 
riods, however, are frequently so rude and incompact, 
that I am often at a loss how to pr(xiounce concerning 
his performance in this respect. 

Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiei, as far as relates to style, 
may be said to hold the same rank among the Hebrews, 
as Homer, Simonides, and ^schylus among the Greeks. 

Hosea is the first in order of the minor prophets, and 
is, perhaps, Jonah excepted, the most ancient of them 
all. His style exhibits the appearance of very remote 
antiquity ; it is pointed, energetic, and concise. It bears 
a distinguished mark of poetical composition, in that 
pristine brevity and condensation, which is observable 
in the sentences, and which later writers have in some 
measure neglected. This peculiarity has not escaped 
the observation of Jerome : ** He is altogether," says he, 
speaking of this prophet, ** laconic and sententious.''^ 
But this very circumstance, which anciently was sup* 

f Prxf. in zii. Proph. 


posed» no doubt, to impart uncommdn force and ek« 
gBDce» in the present rdinous state of die Hebrew liter- 
atore, is jH-oductive of so mnch obscurity, that dthough 
die general subject of this writer be sufficiently obvious, 
he is the most difficult and perplexed of all the prophets. 
There is, however, another reason for the obscurity of 
his style : Hosea prophesied during the reigns of the 
four kings of Judah, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Heze* 
kiah ; the duration of his ministry, therefore, in whatev* 
cr manner we calculate, must include a very considera- 
ble space of time ; we have now only a small volume oi 
his remaining, which, it seems, contains his principal 
prophecies ; and these are extant in a continued series, 
with no marks of distinction as to the times in which 
they were published, or the subjects of which they treat. 
There is therefore no cause to wonder, if in perusing the 
prophecies of Hosea, we sometimes find ourselves in a 
similar predicament with those who consulted the scat- 
tered leaves of the Sibyl. 

The style of Joel is essentially different from that of 
Hosea ; but the general character of his diction, though 
of a di&rent kind, b not less poetical. He is elegant, 
|)erspicuous, copious, and fluent ; he is also sublime, an- 
imated, and energetic. In the first and second chapters 
be displays the full force of the Prophetic Poetry, and 
shows how naturally it inclines to the use of metaphors, 
allegories, and comparisons. Nor is the connection of 
the matter less clear and evident, than the complexion 
a£ the style : this is exemplified in the display of the im» 
pending evils, which gave rise to the prophecy ; the ex^ 
hortation to repentance ; the promises of happiness and 
success both terrestrial and eternal to those who become 
truly penitent ; the restoration of the Israelites ; and the 
vengeance to be taken of their adversaries. But while 


we allow this just commendation to his perspicuity both 
in language and arrangement, we roust not deny that 
there is sometimes great obscurity observable in his 
subject, and particularly in the latter part of the proph- 

Jerome calls Amos *^ rude in speech, but not in knowU 
^^ edge ;''* applying to him what St« Paul modestly pro- 
fesses of himself.* Many have followed the authori^ 
of Jerome, in speaking of this prophet, as if he were in. 
deed quite rude, ineloquent, and destitute of all.die enu 
bellishments of composition. The matter is, however, 
far otherwise. Let any person who has candour and 
perspicacity enough to judge, not from the man but 
from his writings, open the volume of his predictions, 
and he will, I think, agree with me, that our shepherd 
^* is not a whit behind the very chief of the prophets."^ 
He will agree that as in sublimity and magnificence he 
is almost equal to the greatest, so in splendour of dic- 
tion, and elegance of expression he is scarcely inferior 
to any. The same celestial Spirit indeed actuated Isai- 
ah and Daniel in the court, and Amos in the sheep- 
folds ; constandy selecting such interpreters of the di- 
vine will as were best adapted to the occasion, and 
sometimes ^^ from the mouth of babes and sucklings 
^* perfecting praise :'* occasionally employing the nat- 
ural eloquence of some, and occasionally making others 

The style of Micah is for the most part close, forcible, 
pointed, and concise ; sometimes approaching the ob- 
scurity of Hosea ; in many parts animated and sublime, 
and in general truly poetical. 

None *of the minor prophets, however, seem to equal 
Nahum, in boldness, ardour, and sublimity. His proph- 

s Prooem. Comment, in Amos. 9 2 Coa. xL 6. 10 2 Com. xl 5. 

Lbct.91. of the different PROPHETS. 1t97 

ecy too forms a regular and perfect poem ; the exordi- 
um is not merely magnificent, it is truly majestic ; the 
preparation for die destruction of Nineveh, and the des- 
cription of its downfal and desolation are expressed in 
the most vivid colours, and are bold and luminous in 
the highest degree. 

The style of Habbakkuk is also poetical ; especially 
in his ode» which indeed may be accounted among the 
most perfect specimens of that class." The like remark 
will also apply to Zephaniah ; but there is nothing very 
striking or uncommon either in the arrangement of his 
matter or the complexion of his style. 

Of Obadiah there is little to be said ; the only speci- 
men of his genius extant being very short, and the great- 
er part of it included in one of the prophecies of Jere- 
miah." Jonah and Daniel, I have already considered as 
mere historical commentaries. 

Ha^ai, Zechariah, and Malachi, are the only remain- 
ing prophets. The first of these is altogether prosaic, 
as well as the greater part of the second ; towards the 
conclusion of the prophecy there are some poetical pas- 
sages, and those highly ornamented ; they are also per- 
spicuous, considering that they are the production of the 
most obscure of all the prophetic writers." The last of 
the prophetical books, that of Malachi, is written in a 
kind of middle style, which seems to indicate that the 
Hebrew poetry, from the time of the Babylonish captiv- 

u On a very aecurate perusal of Habbakkuk, I find him a great imitator 
of former poets, but with some new additions of his own ; not however in 
the manner of Ezekiel, but with much greater brevity, and with no com- 
mon degree of sublimity. Ezekiel, for the most part, through his extreme 
copiousness, flags behind those whom he imitates ; Habbakkuk either riacf 
superior, or at least keeps on an equality witli them. M. 

» Compare Ob. 1—9. with Jsa. xlix. 14, 15, 16, 7, 9, 10. 

^ See diap. ix. z. and the begmning of xith. 



ilj, was m a declining sfate, and being past its prime and 
vigour, was then fast verging towards the del»lky of 

Thus far I have thought proper to deliver my senti- 
ments, as distinctly as I was able^ coneeming the writ- 
ings of the prophets, and those parts which are to be 
accounted poetical or odierwise. This I did wWh a view 
of clearly explaining my conjecture (For I d£ire not dig- 
nify it with any higher appellation) concerning the Pro- 
phetic Poetry. A conjeetore, wluch, though I will con- 
fess it is not without its diiBcukies, and which musc^ 
after all, depend in some degree opon opinion, yet I flat^ 
ter myself, you will concnf with me in admitliilg not to 
be utterly destitute of fiDundation. 

I should now, according to the natufe of my plan, 
proceed to speak of the Prophetic Poetry of the Greeks, 
if indeed any thing had isfeen transmitted to tis^ even 
from their most celebrated ordeles, deservti^t I will not 
say, to bt compared with the sacred prophets, bot even 
to be mentioned at all. The fact is, there is no such 
poem now extant, nor do I believe ttnare ever was one 
of that kind among the Greeks : a few verses there are 
indeed remaining, and those not above mediocrity ; for 
the Pythian Apollo, if we may credit the Greeks them- 
selves, was not always upon the best terms with the 
Muses.*^ It appears, therefore, that he did not fail to 

14 « I find too Uiat lome of the oracles of Apollo have not escaped ndi- 
" cule in this respect, thou{^h the obscurity of prophecy renders them in 
" general so difficult to decypher, that the hearers have no leisure to be- 
•« stow on an examination of the metre." Merc, in I.vciax*s Dial, entitled 
Jupiter 'Praffadu*. 

•* A response from an oracle in verse having been recited by one of the 
•« company— I have often wondered (said Diogenianus) at the meanness and 
*' imperfection of the Vcrses which conveyed the oracular responses ; espe- 
« cially considering that ApoHo is the president of the Mttsea, and one 
" should imagine, would no lew interest hflnMif m the style of bis own 


^Kcite the ridioule of aeouble persons, not only for his 
ambiguoMs and enigmatical divinations, but for igno- 
rance in the art of versification : nay, even the rude and 
superstitious, wbQ gave bim the amplest credit for the 
veracity ^ hi^ predictions, could nol help confessing, 
that he was a very indifferent poet/' 

Among the literatM^re of the Romans, however, there 
ih extant a much celebrated, amd indeed admirable poem 
of this kind, no less remarkable for the elegance and 
perspicuity of the style, llum for the obscurity and dark- 
faess of the subject : J speak of the fourth Eclogue of Vir^ 
git^^ wtucfa it would be inexcusable to pass unnoticed 
in this place, since from ;tlie first ages of Christianity ao 
opinion iias prevailed, that this poem bore some remote 
jpelation to those genuine remains of prophecy, which 
Jiave been the subject of this Lecture, and indeed that 
the substance of it was originally derived from some sa- 
csed fountain. The manner in which this could happen, 
.1 must confess, is not very easy to be explained : wheth- 
er to account for the fact we have recourse to the ancient 
Xiceek tcaaslatipQ of the Scr^ures, the publication of 

** predictions, than in the harmony of odes and other poetry : besides» that 
^ he certainly must be superior to Homer and Hesiod in poetic taste and 
-^ ability. Notwithstandini^ this» we find many of the oracles» both as to 
" style and metre» defici^t in prosody, and in every species of poetical 
** merit.** Plutabcb Ing. wfuf the Pyfhia not» ceaaet to deliver her oraclet 
im verae, 

15 Just as the Bishop's obserratien is, concerning the prophetic oracles 
of the Greeks, yet whoever will be at the trouble of considering the pre- 
dictions of Cassandra, in the Agamemnon of JEschylus, may easily perceire 
a peculiarity of imagery and style that would throw some light on the sub- 
ject itself, as well as serve to illustrate the prophetic phraseology of the 
Hebrews. S. H. 

1* The prophecy of the Sibyl in the sixth iEneid might also be referred 
to as an example ; in it the prophetic extacy is so admirably expressed, 
that the art and imitative powers of Virgil may contribute not a little to 
/enable us to imderstand the language and maimer of true prophecy. M. 


which was certainly many years anterior to the Roman 
poet ; or whether we suppose that the author might ap- 
ply to those translations, which were made from the sa- 
cred writings by some Hellenistic Jews, and which were 
handed about as the prophecies of the Sibyls.^^ How* 
ever this may have been, there are so many, and so man- 
ifest indications of the fact in the poem itself, that no per- 
son who reads it attentively can retain a doubt upon this 
head. The sentiments, the imagery, even the language 
itself has so direct an agreement with the sacred proph- 
ets ; the subject has so much of intrinsic sublimity and 
magnificence ; and on tlie other hand it is enlivened with 
so much boldness and spirit, is indeed so free and ele- 
vated, that considering it as the production of the chast- 
est and most reserved of all the later poets, there is some- 
thing altogether mysterious in the fact, unless we sup- 
pose that he deduced his materials from some higher 
source than his own genius. Though the subject has 
engaged the attention of some of the first literary char- 
acters in the world, the motive, the scheme, the inten- 
tion of the poet still remains, and I fear ever will remain 
undeveloped. The history and state of the Roman com- 
monwealth at the time point out no circumstance or 
character, which appears to bear a sufficient relation to 
the subject, or which could afibrd room for such great 
and magnificent predictions.^* This I will freely con- 

37 See Bishop Chawdi^eh's Vindication of the ChriHian JSeH^an, chap. i. 
and Gbotius on Mattb. ii. I. 

u The learned are generally agreed, that the ^logue in question cannot 
relate to Salonlnus, a son of Pollio» bom after the capture of Salona, who 
is spoken of by Servius, if any such person ever existed, &ince it appears 
from Dion and Appian, that th^ expedition of PolUo to Illyricum took 
place in the following year. Some have conjectured, that this poem re- 
lates to C. Aslnius Gall us, a son of the same person, and indeed with much 
greater appearance of prob.ibUity ; since Asconius Pedianus reports, that 
he had heard from Callus himself, that this poem was composed in honour »f 


fess, that the more I have contemplated this extraordi- 
nary production in this pomt of view, the less able I have 

him. See Sxbt. ad Eel»g. iv. 11. But Servius himself ftfBrros, that Gallus 
was bom in the preceding^ year, while Pollio was consul elect : and although 
sach a boast might very wall agree with the vanity of a man, who, Augustus 
himself said, would be desirous of acquiring the sovereignty after his death, 
though unequal to it ; (Tacit. An. L 13.) yet it is scarcely probable, that any 
poet, in common prudence, would predict any thing so magnificent of a son of 
Pollio. Further, why has he foretold this divine son to him as a consul only, 
and not as a father ? which would have reflected much more honour on Pollio. 
Many, from these difficulties, have attributed the poet's* compliment to 
Gaesar Octavius and to some child bom in his fiunily, as the certain heir to 
the empire. Julia, Marcellus, and Dnisus, have all been mentioned. As 
to Drusus, neither his age nor person correspond to the prediction ; and 
though the age of Marcellus might suit it better, yet the personal disa- 
greement is the same. With respect to Julia, the daughter of Octavius, 
there can be no objection upon either account, if tiie Eclogue were written 
during the pregnancy of Scribonia, and that it was written before her de- 
livery is credible from the invocation it contains to Lucina : ** O, chaste 
Lucina, aid !" — ^But let it be remembered by those who adopt any of these 
hypotheses, who, and in what station Octavius then was \ not emperor and 
Augustus, the sovereign lord of the whole Roman empire, all which dig. 
nities became his only after the battle of Actium, nine years posterior to 
the date of this Eclogue; but a triumvir, equal only in authority with 
Antony at least, not to speak of Lepidus. How then could the poet pre- 
sume to predict to any son of Octavius, if at that time any son had been 
bora to him, the succession to the empire f But, if we should even grant 
what is really true, that no person more worthy or more proper could be 
found, or to whom these predictions would be better suited, than to some 
of the descendants of Octavius ; and if even we should suppose that a son 
of his was at that time in being, siXiX there is one argument sufficient to 
overturn the whole, and that is, that the Eclogue is inscribed to Pollio ; 
for at that time, and even for some time after, Pollio was of the party of 
Antony, and in opposition to Octavius. Let us with this in our minds take 
a summary view of the actions of Pollio, after the death of Julius Cxsar ; 
and let us pay some attention to the chronology of the tiroes. In the year 
of Rome 711, C. Asinius Pollio having conducted the war against Seztus 
Pompeius, on his return from Spain delivered over his army to Antony, 
after his flight from Mutina. In the year 713, Pollio held Cisalpine Gaul» 
as Antony's lieutenant ; and along with Ventidius hovered about the rear 
of Salvidienus, the lieutenant of Octavius, who was attempting to annoy 
Lucius Antonius : Lucius being besieged at Perusia, Pollio in vain at^ 
tempted his relief, and afterwards returned to Ravenna : he held Venetia 
a long time subject to Antony ; and after having performed great actiona 
in that part of the world, joined Antony, bringing «ver with h^m, at tlm 


felt myself to comprehend it Tfaene is sQch a spiendoiir 
of style, such an eleiganoe in the versificatton, as decetvct 

lame tim^, Domidas JEBobarbos, and the fleet underliif conmamL AWilt 
the end of the year 714. the peace of Brundusmm took place, the nego- 
ciaton of which were PoUio aa consul, on the part of Antony, and Uaco^ 
naa on the part of Octariua, and Cocce'iua on the part of both, aa ihejr 
common ^end ; and about thia time the irth Edogue of Virgil «aa writ- 
ten. In the year ri5, Antony aent PoUio as his lieutenant afainat the Pav- 
4hini Into ]ll3rricam ; who triumphed over them in the month «f Ootobec 
Thus far Vxixsina, Appiait, and Die. About thia time « private diaa^^roe- 
anent took place between Pollio and Octavius ; and Ootavina wrate io«r 
oidecent veraes against PoUio. M^enoa. Hmmm, ii. 14. Frani thia tiana 
to the battle of Actiom, which happened in 733, in the boginning of a<y^ 
tember, Pollb k^ipt himaelf perfectly neutral, and took no part in the con- 
test between Antony and Oertavlus. ** f nmat net onut,** aaya Vauuva, 
ii. 86, ** a remarkable action and aaymg of Aniniua Poltio. A<\a* the peaoe 
^ of Brandusium" (be should have said after hia triumph) ** he continue^ 
<< in luly, nor did he ever aec the queen, or, af^cr the mind of Antony bn- 
** came enfeebled by his destnicttve paaaion, take any part in hia aSaisa^ 
** and when Cssar requeated him to accompany him to «he battle of Ae- 
^* tium : The kindnes&es, said he, which 1 have rendered Antony ate greal- 
^ er m reality than those he has rendered me, but the latter are betttf 
** known to the world. 1 will withdraw myself entirely Irom the contest 
** and I ahall become the pr^ of the conqueror." From conaiderii^thesfB 
iacts, it appears to me altogether incredible, that Virgil should «end, and 
inscribe to Pollio, a poun in praise of Octavius, and whoUy nviUen in cel- 
ebration of his family. .^toAarV AW. 

Whoever will compare the three prc^hecies of Isaiah contained in the 
second, elevtnlh, and sixty-fifth diapters, with the fourth £clogue of Vir- 
{gil, can hardly doubt: whether the aame images, uni^ in .combinations 
4»pposite to the analogies of nature, applied to aimilar subjects, and bjr 
4>oth writers in the way of prediction, must not have ultimately originated 
jn one common source, aod the latter have been derived from the former, 
if so, the agreement in queatiofn may he rationally accounted for, eapecially 
af it appear that the poet has himself refocred to the Jewish Scriptures, aa 
the fountain of such images, in the same mannv aa to the writings of Ho- 
4ner, &c. for others of Grecian origin. [See Gaoneio. 8* iii. 1. 19* uid the 
notes on Vathek, p. 269.}^lt seems, however, by his k»rd^p's concessioi^ 
Ihat the mjrstery would be In a .great measure solved, could it once be 
ahewn, that the prophecy of Virgil were applicable to any child whose 
•birth was expected at the time of his writing, different from him n^om 
the prophet had fooetold.— His lordship having acouted the psetensioqa 
4>f Servius and others in favour of any aon of Pollio, and remarked that the 
fioet's prophecy would neither suit the age nor situation of Dmsiis or 
BCarcellus, readily admits its o(M\grtti^ so for as a «•» is concerned, to the 


IIS at first respecting the obscurity of the matter. But 
on a neaftr inspection of each particnlstri on a thorough 

obiM with irtudi ScriWniA wm at (hit time pregMiit Here tbe ^HficuUy 
vkh his lordship begins. For, how, eonsideriog the situation of OetaviHS 
at this period» coald Am child he the sobject of such a predietion ^— Why» 
in predicthig the future greatness of a son of Octayius, should Vti^ ad* 
dress his predietion to PoUio ^— >Avd, supposing these diffieulties sohred» 
haw can the imagery ef the predietkm itsdf he reconciled to the suhfeet 
of Hi 

lict us take each question in it» order. 1. In staUng the situation of Oc» 
twrius» his lordsh^ has unwarily admitted a succession of facts, which, be* 
img posterior to the time wiien the Eclogue was written, could not hate 
bent foreknown by Virgil, and therefore ought not to be brought into qoes-^ 
tk». In the year 7t4, when all the horrors of a civil wsr were impending 
niter ItsJy, a reconeiliaiion wss suddenly effected between Antony and Oe* 
taTtus, at tke mterrentkm of Pollio, Meciftnas snd Gocceius Nerra. The 
result of thu treaty was a partition of the Roman world between Octavlus 
and Antony (for I^epidus they regarded as a cypher.) When the ratifica- 
tion of this agraement was confirmed» and Antony departed to his province, 
nothing was left in the west to thwart the aimsof Octavius, but what might 
arise horn Ponipey, who still commanded a fleet. To guard against any 
obstacle from this quarter, Octavius, instead of attempting, as had been 
projected with his colleague, to crush Pompey by violence, chose rather to 
ceoeiliate his friendship. With this view therefore (as the marriage of 
Octavia with Antony had appeased h^ husband and brother) Octavius 
married Scribonaa, the sister of Pempe/s wife ; and the expedient, for a 
short time» was not without effect. When this Eclogue then was written, 
OcUvius was master of Italy and that part of the empire which, under its 
own aam^ comprehended the trorld. At peace with his colleagues abroad, 
kaviug nothing to ^}prehend at home, and invested with absolute power to 
emnpose those commotions by which the empire had been so lately convuls- 
ed» what mi|^t not Ocuvius hope-^r what mig^t not the flattery of a 
poet, who in circumstances less &vourable had styled him a ooo» now 
prompt ir» aspiring mind» and» on the ground of a divine prediction» to ex- 
pect would be the future greatness of his son ? 

But» 2» it is asked : Why Vij^l on such an occasion should address this 
ptediction to Pollio» who had been not the friend of Octavius, but of An- 
tony P 

fo answer to this inquiry, it may be observed, that the private misunder- 
standing, which his lordship has alleged to have arisen between Pollio and 
Octavius» a yesr or more after Pollio had been consul, is totally beside the 
question $ except as it serves to shew that» from the peace of Brundusium 
till the rise of this disagreement» Octavius and Pollio were friends. But 
whatever political enmity might have existed between them prior to that 
«eaty» they ware both unsmmous in the patronage of genius. It was whilst 


examination of the nature and the force of the imagery 
and diction, so many things occur totally different from 

Pollk) hdd the tenritoiy of Venice for Anton/, that his acquaintance vith 
Virgil commenced ; and as the si>lendour of the poet* • talents, which brolce 
through the obscurity and depreaaion of his condition, had attrtcted the 
notice of Pollio ; so, by his means, they obtained the favour of Octavhis : 
for it is agreed on aU hands, that PoUio, either in person, or by the mter- 
vention of some friend (perhaps Varus, see Ed. IX.) brought Virgil to the 
knowledge of Octavius ; who restored to him his patrimony which the sol- 
diers had usurped. Yet, widely as Octavius and PoUio might have difiered 
before the treaty of pacification, there is no reason to suppose them, afto 
iU confirmation, upon any other than an intimate fiwting { at least, till that 
prroaie misunderstanding to which his lordship has adverted. Kow, what 
could be more natural, what more consistent with the nicest address, than 
that Virgil, whose poetic talents had first procured him the protection of 
PoUio, and by his means the munificence of Octavius, should offer through 
his first patron, who was not only at this time consul, but had been chiefiy 
instrumental, by negociating the peace, to the establishment of Octavius * 
in power, a poetic compliment to his greater benefactor, on a predictioii 
believed to point out his son ? 

Having thus answered two of the questions proposed, it remains to con- 
sider the third. Virgil, in the first Eclogue, which was written on regain- 
ing his estate, confines himself chiefly to hU own concerns and those of his 
Mantuan neighbours, but in the present his voice is raised to a loftier strun. 
The arhutta hmileMque rngfric^e are the concerns of private life contrasted with 
;S!y/v«r, such as belong to the empire at large : thus, Rome is said in the first 
Eclogue, '* to rear her head as high above other cities, as the tall cypress 
** above the lowly shrubs." — Si camnuu ajfhHu, &c. " if woods be my theme, 
*' let the wooeb be worthy of a consul." This ioMgery is by no means cas- 
ual ; for we learn from Suetonius (Jul. Cats. c. six.) that the woods had 
been lately made a consular care. — Ultima Cunun vemi jam earmim* ttttu ; 
*' The last age of the Cumaean prophecy is now come." It is highly de- 
serving of notice, that Cicero, in his treatise on Divination, has not only re- 
ferred to the Sybilline verses as containing a divine prediction of some fu- 
ture king, but also mentioned an expectation that the interpreter of them 
would apply that prediction, in the senate, to Caesar. This prophecy had 
possibly its origin in the Jewish Scriptures, snd it is not unlikely that the 
partiality of Julius towards the Jews, might have concurred with other cir- 
cumstances to point the application. But however this were, an expecta- 
tion had been long prevalent in the East of an extraordinary personage, who 
was to establish universal empire ; and the prediction whence this expec- 
tation arose, was probably broug^it to Rome, by the persons whom the sen- 
ate had deputed, to search in different countries for prophetic verses, to sup- 
ply the loss of those wiiich liad perished iji the capitol. Such however is 
the affinity between the prediction spoken of by Cicero, and that which 


the general &shion''of the Roman authors, so altogether 
foreign to the conceptions of the people of that age and 

Taeitus (Hut V. 13.) hfts referred to the Jewish Scriptmefl, as to leare no 
room for surprise if we see Yirfpl, from the notion of both harinp a com- 
mon aim* adopt the one to adorn the other ; for« as the former was thought 
applicable to Julius, and the latter to Vespasian or his son, why might not 
Virgil consolidate both» and apply them to the son of Octavius P And if 
Tacitus were acquainted with the Jewish Scriptures» why might not Virgil 
be also P His writings show that his researches were uniyersal» and upon 
every principle of just construction^ if the Mvsss and the Aoviav mowni be 
emblematical of the Gbsciax j^Mif » bis Idvmjba v pfUnu must equally signify 
the /netic tcripturet ^f the Jaws. [See Georg. iii. 12,] — Ultima ^ttu, 8tc« 
^ the last age of the Cumaean prediction is now come." Whatever were the 
particulars of this prediction, the time set for its completion coincides with 
that in the Scriptures. [The SybilUne oracles in their present condition, 
by the way, are so sopliisticated, that no stress can be rested on their testis 
mony without the support of collateral proof. It will, however, deserve to be 
considered ; If the heathens were ever in possession of a genuine prophecy, 
which came not from the Jews or the Christians P] Magnue^ &c. ^ The 
** great order of ages ag^n begins : the Virgin is already returning : the 
<* Satumian rule returns." This commencement of the ages perfectly agrees 
with Isaiah, who styles the child he foretels, " the Father of ages." By 
the return of Astrxa, Virgil alludes to the justice he had himself experi- 
enced at the hands of Octavius. The renewal of the Satumian rule will be 
best explained by referring to the poet's account of its former state. 
*« He [Saturn] by just laws embodied all the train, 
'* Who roam'd the hills, and drew them to the plain : 
«* There fix'd ; and LAtium call'd the new abode, 
** Whose friendly shores concealed the latent God. 
'* These realms in peace the monarch long controll'd, 
** And bless'd the nations with an age of gold." 
Jum nsvo progemet emh demittitw alto .* A new progeny is now sent down 
" from high heaven." Sent dorm in opposition to the manner of Satum*s 

«« —Saturn fled before victorious Jove, 
*• JDriven down, and banish'd from the realms above.** 
The aid of Lucina is invoked in favour, nascenti puero, « of the boy when 
*' he comes to the birth." It is not improbable that Virgil was induced to 
transfer the Sibylline prediction from Julius, in whom it had palpably failed, 
to this expected son of Octavius, from Isaiah's having dwelt so minutely 
on the infancy of the person foretold. — ^to ferrea primum, i^e, ** with 
** whom the iron age (or age of -war J shall cease, and the golden age sbaU 
*^ rise over the world." Though Virgil, when Scribonia, instead of a son, 
WM delivered of a daughter, discovered his mistake as to the rsasov pre^ 



nation, that it is not easy to believe it was pcifectly ufi^ 
faerstood even 6n its first publication. But #hef» a for^ 

dieted, he still continued confident in respect to the evenitf and tberelbre 
when he rcsamcd the prophecy, from a persuasion that he could not a aed- 
ond time err, he makes the Sibyl herself point out Auguatui aa the fMA 
so often promised : 

« Hie Caesar, & omnia lull 
** Projjenies, magpiuro cdcli Ventura sub axeih. 
«• Hie vir, hic est, tibi quern promitti sxpms audia» 
*« Augustus Caesar, Divi genus aurea condet 
•* Secula qui rursus Latlo, regnata per arva 
** Salumo quondam, super & Garamantaa & Indo» 
" Profcret impcrium, &c."* JEw. vi. line 1/9. 

•« Turn» turn thine eyes ! see here thy race divincr 

" Behold thy own imperial bbman line : 

" Caesars with all tlie Julian name surrey ; 

** Sec where the glorious ranks ascend to day ! — 

** This — ^this is he ! the chief so long foretold, 

** To bless the land where Saturn rul*d of old, 

" And give the Latian realms a second ag^ of gold f 

" The promls'd prince, Augustus the divine, 

" Of Caesar's race, and Jove's immortal line ! 

" This mighty chief, this empire shall extend, 

" O'er Indian realms, to earth's remotest end.** 
Till, however, a daughter was born» Virgil remained undeceived. Tlip 
mention of the golden age rising again over the world, is sufBciant proof 
that the Virgin before described aa returning was Astraea, and as in the 
Gcorgica he aaaerta, that her lateat footsteps on earth, were ctlacemible i» 
rural retreats : 

— ^_ * * last with you 

** Juatitia InigeHd, ere ahe quite withdrew.'* 
So by adding, *' Apollo now reigns,** he seems to intimate, that the powei» 
of poetry had triumphed over oppression, and procured him the interpoai» 
tion of justice, in the restoration of his pasture and flocks. But though 
this interpretation may agree with the context, the tenth verae will admit 
of a fuller sense. After invoking aid from Lucina, it is added, " thy own 
*< Apollo now reigns,** that is, the SibyOine prediction m begw% to heJulfiUetL 
As Apollo was the Ood of prophecy, it was in reference to his reigning un* 
der this character that Lucina is invoked to assist in the fulfilment of the 
prediction himself had inspired, by granting to the child a propitious birth. 
—[It ia well known, that Augustus afterward afTt^ted to be patronized b^ 
Apollo, to resemble him, to assume his dress, to be thought his son, and to 
pay him divine honours as his tutelary deity; now what better account of 
so extraordiuary a cbnduct can be given, thah that all was done wlfli'tht 


i^gn i;(iterpretation, sugg^^ted by ibt writjngs of the He* 
fxc^^ (the full force and importance of .whic,h it is im- 

view of arrog^tinp to himself the Bibyl^s prediction, which Virgil in the 
JEneid has appropriAted to him i^Tegve a4e9^ &c. ** £n^ in thjr conti^- 
^ ship, O f>ollio» in tlune, shall the glory of this age begin to commence» 
** and the great months thence to procted." ** The glory of this age (ilic 
f* age predicted J shall begin to commence.** It wa6 in the consulship of 
JPoUio that the niarrii^ pf Octavius to Scribonia took place^ the great 
montht therefore are the montht of her pregnatu:jff which immediately follow- 
ed her marriage. — TV duce, £^c. " Under your management, if any vcstigja 
** of our wickedness remain» they shall be effaced, and the world delivertrd/' 
This plainly refers to the influence of Poliio in negociating the treaty at 
Brundusium, and also to the further exertion of his consular power.— iZb 
J^eum vitam acdpiat, Ue, ** He shall receive the life of g^s,** Sec Sim- 
ilar, though still bolder, expressions are applied to Augustus, in the first 
Ceorgic, verse the 24th. — Pacatumque reget patriU virtutihu erbem ** And 
^ shftll govern the world at peace, with his fathsb's virtuf^s.** To whom 
«ould this apply, but a son of Octavius, and the son whom, it was believed, 
the prediction had foretold ? Hence follows the description of the golden 
•ge' corresponding with the imagery of Isuah, to verse 26. JU Hmuly C/c. 
** But as soon as thou shalt be able to read the praises of heroes, and the 
•* atchievements of thy father, and to understand what the energy of virtue 
-** can effect, the spacious field shall by degrees become yellow with the 
^** soft ear." That is, before you be old enough to view those plains which 
have so lately been the theatre of heroism and horror, the devastations of 
civil discord shall gradually disappear, and the tranquil occupations of hus- 
l»andry imperceptibly change their face. Pauca tamen mbertmt firUc^ «ea- 
Hgiafrottdit^ &c. '* But there shall remain beneath the surface some tra- 
** ces of ancient fraud," &c. This obviously alludes to Pompey, who still 
retained the command of his fleet ; whilst ** the other wars'* seem to im- 
ply the contests to be looked for in the East, whither Antony was gone^ 
juid who therefore, in compliment to PoUic^ is stiled ** another Achilles.** 
'The poet after this resumes the unages expressive of the golden age as be- 
fore—Core DeuM to6o&«, magnum JvuU incretnentum^ Ujc, ^ O beloved 
^** offspring of the Gods, great increase of Jove !" &c. is not only consonant 
to the language of scriptural prediction, but in the sense of Virgil suitable 
to none but a Gxsar. See the 6th JEneid and 2d Georgic before referred to. 
There are reveral other passages of the IQclogue which, m this attempt 
ttt iUnstration, have been omitted, for the sake of brevity, although they 
would have reflected additional light on the mterpretation which is here 
offtfed. Such images of the poet as approach the nearest to those of the 
prophet are also purposely passed over ; because, both in Virgil and Isaiah, 
they have no specific destination, but are used as generally symbolical of 
innocence and happiness ; and that this was the more obvious mode of ex- 
pUioing the prophetic scriptures is certain, for the Jews^ firom those verjr 


possible the poet himself could have comprehended) 
serves to unravel the difficulties, and to enlighten all the 
obscurities of this extraodinary poem ; when I consider 
this, I own I am at a loss at what point to stop the licen* 
tiousness of conjecture upon this subject : and indeed 
what imagination occasionally suggests, I dare scarcely 
express. I will only say, the fact has something in it so 
extraordinary, so miraculous to my conceptions, that I 
am sometimes half inclined to £aincy , that what Sociatesi 

images in the prophet» have constantly inferred» that their promised Mci- 
siali would be a temporal Saviour. 

But there will be no necessity to enlarge on this head ; for notwithstand- 
ing what is advanced in the Lecture, on the incongruity of Virgil's lan- 
guage to his subject, upon any other idea than th&t of a mysterious rela- 
tion to the Messiah and his kingdom, it is the voluntary concession of his 
lordship in the note, " that no person could be any where found more 
^* wortiiy qf this prophetic Eclogue, nor whom it would more aptly fit, or 
*.* with whon^ its contents would better quadrate, than a son of Octavius^ 
** provided it could be shewn that a ton was bom to him, in the year when 
« PoUio was consul." Now though it be impossible to supply the proof 
which his lordship requires, yet ao far as Xbe spirit of the postulate is con- 
cerned, a satisfactory answer can be given. For notwithstanding upon my 
h}'pothesis (which perfectly harmonises with the history of facts) Octavius 
had no child, till the year after Pollk) was consul, and then only a dkm^A- 
*er/ yet, as Scribonia became pregnant in the conaulship of Pollio, and the 
Bclogue was written in that very year, Virgil (whatever the coincidences nf 
the time with the Sibylline prediction might have led him to expect} cer- 
tainly could not know, without the gift of prescience^ the sex of this un- 
born child. 

1 am duly sensible that an apology is necessary to the reader for so long 
a detention from the Lectures that follow ; but as (notwithstanding hia 
lordship's opiniotn, tlia\ *' though the subject has engaged the attention of 
** some of the first literary characters in the world, the motive, the scheme, 
*' the intention of the poet still remains undeveloped ;"} the subject does 
aot seem ta have been hitherto discussed with the precision it deserved, I 
was willing to submit it to the pubLc in a new point of view, with the 
hope, that wiiat appeared convincing to myself, might be favourablf re» 
ceived by others. S. ^. 

Perhaps a still more decisive objection against the hypothesis to which 
Mr. H. alludes is, that the very prophecies, from which Yirgil has appar- 
ently copied his imagery, do not seem to have any relation to the ^sf 
coming of the Messiah, but seem wholly to relate to that triumphant $ec* 
o^d coming, wiiich is yet unaccomplished. T. 


in the lo of Plato, says (probably in his usual tone of 
irony) of poets in general, might have actually come to 
pass : " Hence/* says the philosopher, " the god, hav- 
** ing by possessing their minds deprived them of their 
^^ natural reason, makes use of them, as well as of the 
'^ prophets and diviners, as his ministers, to the end, that 
^ we who hear them should understand, that matters of 
" so great importance are not uttered by men in their 
<* sober senses, but that it is the god himself who utters 
** them, and addresses us by their mouths." 




The nature and origin of the Hebrew Elegy traced into the solemn expres- 
sions of grief exhibited in their funeral ceremonies— The office and func- 
tion of professed mourners : the dirges, which were sung by them, were 
short, metrical, and sententious ; many of the lamentations, which are 
extant ^n the prophets, were composed in imitation of them— The whole 
of the Lamentations of Jeremiah constructed upon the same principle— 
The general conduct and form of that poem ; the nature of the ▼erne ; 
the subject and the style. 

X HAT poetry is indebted for its origin to the more ve- 
hement affections of the human mind, has been, I ap- 
prehend, very clearly evinced. The distribution of it 
into its different species is not, however, exactly regu- 
lated by the nature and order of the passions ; though I 
think thb is a circumstance which ought not entirely to 
be disregarded. There are, indeed, some species df 
poetry which admit of every passion, such as the Lyric ; 
and there are some which scarcely admit of any, such as 
the Didactic : there are others, however, which are pe- 
culiarly adapted to particular passions, tragedy for in- 
stance ; and we have already had occasion to explain the 
nature of the passions which are congenial to the pro- 
phetic Muse. There is a distinct species of poetry, 
which b appropriated solely to one particular passion ; 
and, what b worth remarking, we have never known a 
people, who might be said to have made any proficiency 

Lict.Stf. ULtGf. 911 

in i^tietrjr, who hud nbt a peculiar tartn of poetrt, inveMed 
flui-posely tot Iht expression of sorrow, and appropriated 
ivhblly to plaintive subjects.^ This species of poem th6 
Greeks, and most riations after them, distinguish by the 
itarhe of Elegy : the Hebrews call it JTinah or Nefd, 
both Which are significant of sorrow, or lamentation. 

The genius and origin of this poem among the He- 
bi^ws tnay be clearly traced into their mantier of cele- 
brating ^eir funeral rites. It may indeed more properly 
ht tieHhH the dictate of nature than of custom, to foU 
tow to the grave the remains of a friend with grief and 
lamentation. The ancient Hebrews were not ashamed 
of obeying the voice of nature on this occasion, and of 
liberally pouring forth the effusions of a bleeding heart. 
The language of grief is simple and unaffected ; it con- 
feists of a plaintive, intermitted, concise form of expres- 
sion, if indeed a simple exclamation of sorrow may de- 
serve such an appellation. 

« O fiitlicr ! O my country ! O house of Priam !*"• 
fexclaims Andromache in the tragedy : nor less pathetic 
is the complaint of the tender father in the Sacred His- 
tory, on the loss of his beloved, though disobedient son ; 

1 '< Aa^ originally» MBoHg the Egyptuma, a wn^ or baUatL'* Hibod. ii. 
79. ** Herodotus remarks, that this kind of song was very common in 
*' PhcenicU and Cyprus. Why, therefore, may not the word Kn^ (linos) be 
« derived from the Arabic ft'n, fefiM, to be tender, eoft : m Conjug. ii. to 
•* toften or make tender P* H. 

See a note on this .subject on lecture XIIL and the passage there eked 
horn the Orestes of Eurip. 

WafCafoi Kty^n Al, Al« 

Hie Aixiy#» (ailinos) in this passage, appears to be compounded of the ele- 
^ac AI (ai) and aii#* (linos.) If so, it will correspond with the xiv#^ (li- 
nos) mentioned by Herodotosy and referred to by Or. Hunt in the abore 

wftt. s.a 

9 CXGSM TUBC. Qoxtt. lib. iU« 

aU ELECT. Ltdr.M. 

iAt discipline ot imrientatioh and woe, in^ with teatv 
aliVays at command for a reasonable stipend. A^ in alf 
other krts, so in tUis, pi^iiection cdnsisted iti fiie etiti 
imitation of nature. The ^mere^l dirgei w^ tHereibri 
composTci in general upon the model of those ctimplaintil 
which flow naturafty and spontiineously from the aflict- 
cd heart : the sentences were abrupt, mournful, paihetic» 
simple, and unembcUished ; on one account, indeed» 
more elaborate and artificial, because they consisted of 
verse, and were chaiittd to music.^ 

Many vestiges of this custom are found in the writ- 
ings of the prophets : Cot the predictions of calamity 
impending over statt^s and eniptres are often replete with 
elegance, and generally assume the form of a funereal 
song. But this reinark will be more cWarly evidenced 
l)y a few examples ; and these examples will serve at 
the same time to illustrate what has been alledged con- 
cerningthis custom. Hear, 'says the prophet Amos, ad« 
dressing the Israelites, and denouncing vengeance and 
destruction against them, and their govenxment. 

Hear my voice, O Israel, hear I , 

Whilst I thy fate deplore : 

i*hy Virgin dlnghter, Sion ! {alls-« 
ShlB falls to rise no mbrt ! 


Thr6ii)|^ the streetSi aad thfrough the ptiiifl^ 

The doleftil ramour flies ( 
And slLiihil aaoumere ruse their votce 

In sad funereal cries* 

And in Jeremiah, on a similar oocasion, Jehovah of 
hosts thus addresses his people :" 

^ See Matt. ix. 33, Mnd LidiiTMOT Eiercitat. Hebr. and Talmud, in loc. 

9 Amos v. 1, 2. 

10 lb. ▼. 16. Tlie particle bN in the last clause oUgcht probably to W 
placed at the beginning* of th^^t clause. So the Sira. and Va£fi. read it. 
See Capeix. Sac. Crit. B. iv. C. xuL i. .4u/A«r*t JVV#e. 

Jaa. ix. 17—22. 

Let those ^e 1)-taught in Sorrow'^ sphoo) 

Re&oimd the notes of woe ; 
And mournful music, through the land, 

In solemn concord iow ; 
Tili ^cv» »t«M rtuwm fnwn eiery ^yp, 

y^ll cfery heart shall l^ar-f-— 
Hark) 'tis the mourner's voice that sounds 1 

*Tia S ion's airgr I hear I 
Vanquished, enthrallM, to plunder giv'n> 

The haughty eity falls ; 
Shrill ikhriciks of wofi aMd respiii)^. 

While iuifk her walls.— ^ ^ 

« We go— deserted and forlorn, 

" To rove from shore to shore ; ^ 

^ These long-Iov'd seats no more to viewi 

^ These pleasapt plains no more/'* ' 
Yet hear i-*'iis bi^aven's most bigb decide I 

Thf solemn rites prepare I , . 

Let Sion's daughters raise the dirge. 

Replete with wild despair. 
The regal dome, the sacred fane, 

Stem Death invades, and wastes the land { 
The pride vf Israel strews (be plam, 

Lijke sb^^ves beneath the reaper's |)and. 

Mwy in^lwQC^.of d^e «ame kind occur tbrQii^u>t|t 
.liye Propbets, jn vv^ich, a» Jin these, there is a direct al- 
lu^OQ tp the inatitMUop from which they originated. 
There w^ alw ipaoy otbtr passages evidently of the 
t^me kindf ^though the funeral ceremonies be not im- 
^qdiatcily referred to ; and the peculiar elegance of 
Ihe^e w.e shaU not perceive, unless some regard be paid 
t9 the ot>ject to wiiiijh they allude* The examples that 
I haye product are, I apprehend* sufficient to indicate 
the nature «ad origin of this species of poetry, and to 
demonstrate, that these artificial complaints were orig- 
inally formed on tlie model, and expressed in the lan- 
guage of regl sprrpvir» J[lence al^ it will be apparent, 
j» what mannqr» and by what gradations» the JCmohp qt 

S16 ELEGY. L»CT. 21. 

lamentations of the Hebrews, assumed the form of a 
regular poem : but for the further elucidation of this 
subject, it may not be improper to examine the Lam- 
entations of Jeremiah, the most remarkable poem of 
this kind extant, according to the principles of these 
funereal compositions ; for unless we examine it in this 
manner, and by this criterion, it will be impossible to 
form a right judgement concerning it. 

I shall endeavour to treat of this extraordinary pro- 
duction in the following order : First, of its nature and 
form in general ; secondly, of the metre or versification ; 
and lastly, of the subject, the sentiments, and imagery. 

The Lamentations of Jeremiah (for the title is prop- 
erly and significantly plural) conust of a number of 
plaintive eflfusions, composed upon the plan of the fu^ 
neral dir^s, all upon the same subject, and uttered 
without connexion as they rose in the mind, in a long 
course of separate stanzas. These have afterwards been 
put together, and formed into a collection or corres- 
pondent whole. If any reader, however, should ex- 
pect to find in them an artificial and methodical ar- 
rangement of the general subject, a regular disposition 
of the partai, a perfect connexion and orderly succes- 
sion in the matter, and with all this, an uninterrupted 
series of elegance and correctness, he will really expect 
what was foreign to the prophet's design. In the char- 
acter of a mourner, he celebrates in plaintive strains the 
obsequies of his ruined country ; whatever presented 
itself to his mind in the midst of desolation and misery, 
whatever struck him as particularly wretched and ca- 
lamitous, whatever the instant sentiment c^ sorrow dic- 
tated, he pours forth in a kind of spontaneous effusion. 
He frequently pauses, and, as it were, ruminates upon 
^ sane object ; frequendy varies and illustrates t^ 

Lkot. 3». ELEGY. 3ir 

same thought with different imagery, and a different 
choice of language ; so that the whole bears rather the 
appearance of an accumulation of corresponding sen- 
timents, than an accurate and connected series of dif- 
ferent ideas, arranged in the form of a regular treatise. 
I would not be understood to insinuate, that the author 
has paid no regard whatever to order or arrangement ; 
or that transitions truly elegant from one subject, image, 
or character, to another, are not sometimes to be found ; 
this only I wish to remark, that the nature and design 
of this poem (being in reality a collection of different 
sentiments or subjects, each of which assumes the form 
of a funeral dirge) neither require, nor even admit of a 
methodical arrangement. The whole poem, however, 
may be divided into five parts ; in the first, second, 
and fourth, the prophet addresses the people in his own 
person, or else personifies Jerusalem, and introduces 
that city as a character ; the third part is supposed to 
be uttered by the chorus of Jews, represented by their 
leader,^ after the manner of the Greek tragedies : and 
in the fifth, the whole nation of the Jews, on being led 
into captivity, pour fourth their united complaints to 
Almighty God. This last, as well as the others, is di- 
vided into twenty-two periods, according to the number 
of the letters of the alphabet ; with this difference, that 
in the four other parts the initial letters of each |>eriod 
exactly correspond with the alphabetical order. And 
from this( circumstance we have been enabled to form 
some little judgement concerning the Hebrew metres. 

IS Thu9 in rene 14, the ^09 ib in the eonslructive fiur the- absolute form. 
The Stb. omits the pronoun. $tc a note on Lect. ziii. 80 also it appears 
the same word ought to be understood Psaui cxliv. 3. Compare likewise 
Tbalm xrul 48, xlvil 4. See Pooock JVoI. in Pff, •Mbiit, p. 60. ** Liw^ 
^ iiL 14, two MSS. have D^D9« And observe, that in M88. the plural O^ i% 
9 often expressed K** K. Autkm^i JV^to. 

31« fiLEGY. Lpcr- 9%. 

The acnostic or alphabejtica) poetiy of the Hebrews vj^ 
certainly intended to assist the memory, and w^ conQor 
«d altogether to tho^e Qompo^itionSt vvhic^ consisted of 
detached maxims or sentiments withpvit any express or- 
der or connection/^ The san^e custpm is said to have 
been prevalent, indeed is said still to prevail in sppie do» 
gree, among the Syrians, the Persians, and the Ar^ibs.^* 
With how much propriety the prophet .i;ia$ employe^ 
this £orm of compositki], on t.he present occasion, ip 
evident from what has been said cpocem^i^ the oaturp 
of this poem. The manner and order pf t^s l^ind qf 
verse is as follows : Each of the five p^its, ^ gnmd di- 
visions is subdivided into twenty-two periods» or stanzas; 
these periods in the three first parts ace all of tbeto trip- 
Jets, in other words, Qonsist ea^^ three lipes, oply, ip 
each of the two former parts, there is one period coa- 
sistiog of four lines." In the jB^ur first parts, the initial 
letter of each period follows the <n*der pf the alphabet; 
but the third part is so very reguJiar, that every line ,i^ 
the same period begins with tfie sm)e letter, so as neces- 
sarily to ascertain tlie length of every verse qr line in 
that poem : indeed, even in the others, though the \\i\t^ 
are not dbtinctly marked in this m^Rncr, \t is qp difficult 
matter to ascertain their limits, by resolvir\g the sen- 
tences into their constituent members. By this mode 
of computation it appears, that in the fqui:th p^ all the 
periods consist of disticht^,^ as 4^) ip the fifth, which is 

^ M. MIchaelis very justly remarks, that except the LunentAtions of 
^ereauMh, and the xzzviith Paalm, none ,of the alphabetic po^ms of the 
Hebrews rise in any degree above mediocrity. A certain indication, that 
however useful this kind of diacriminat^pn n^ght he on Bom^ occasiong, in 
assisting the menoiy of children and the vulg^, yet such minute arts are 
in geneml inconsistent with true genius. T- 

)4 See AasjutJkir BiblMthtc Orientai, VqI. ULp. ^, ISO, 188, 328. 

1' In Ch^ i I» in Chap. ii. P* 

16 But the period D as it is now read, can neither be conYenienUy' distrv* 
|>uted into two, nor into three verses. ^uUwi^t JVote, 

L»CT. 32. ELEGV.' i\9 

not acrostic ; but in tliis I )st part I must remark another 
peculiarity, namely, that the lines are extremely short, 
whereas in all the rest they are long. 

The length of these metres is worthy of notice : we 
find in this poem lines or verses, which are evidently 
Ibliger by almost one half, than those which occur usu** 
aUy , and oh other occasions. The length of them seem^ 
to be, on an average, about twelve syllables ; there are a 
few Which do not quite amount to that number, and 
there are a few which perhaps exceed it by two or three 
sjrlhbles : for although nothing certain can be determin- 
ed concerning the number of sytlabtes (in truth I pay no 
attention to the fictions of the Masorites) there is room, 
neverthetess, for very probable conjecture. We are not 
tb supposfe this peculiar form of versification utterly 
without design or itnportance : on the contrary, I am 
persuaded, that the prophet adopted this kind of metre 
as being more diffuse, more copious, more tender, in all 
respects better adapted to melancholy subjects. I must 
add, that in all probability the funeral dirges, which were 
sung by the mourners, were commonly composed in this 
kind of verse ; for whenever, in the prophets, any fune- 
real lamentations occur, or any passages formed upon 
tfiat plan, the versification is, if I am not mistaken, of 
this protracted kind. If this tht-n be the case, we have 
discovered a true legitimate form of elegy in the poetry 
of the Hebrews. It ought, however, to be remarked, 
that the same kind of metre is sometimes, though rarelyi 
employed upon other occasions by the sacred poets, as 
it was indeed by the Greeks and Romans. There are, 
moreover, some poems manifestly of the elegiac kind, 
which are composed in the usual metre, and not in un- 
connected stanzas, according to the form of a funeral 

«ao ELEGV. LBcT.JZd 

Thus far in general as to the nature and method of 
the poem, and the form of the versification ; it remains 
to offer a kw remarks concerning the subject and the 

That the subject of the Lamentations is the destruc* 
tion of the holy city and temple, the overthrow of the 
state, the exterminauon of the people, and that these 
events are described as actually accdtaplished, and not 
in the style of prediction merely, must be evident to ev« 
eiy reader. Though some authors of considerable rep. 
utation^^ have imagined this poem to have been compos- 
ed on the death of king Josiah. The prophet, indeed» 
has so copiously, so tenderly, and poetically bewailed 
the misfortunes of his country, that he seems complete- 
ly to have fulfilled the office and duty of a mourner. In 
my opinion, there is not extant any poem, which displays 
such a happy and splendid selection of imagery in so 
concentrated a state. What can be mcH^e elegant and 
poetical, than the description of that once flourishing ci- 
ty, lately chief among the nations, sitting in the charac- 
ter of a female, solitary, afflicted, in a state of widow- 
hood, deserted by her friends, betrayed by her dearest 
connections, imploring relief, and seeking consolation 
in vain? What a beautiful personification is that of 
^* the Ways of Sion mourning because none are come 
** to her solemn feasts ?" How tender and pathetic are 
the following complaints ? 

^< Is this nothing to all you who pass along the way ? behold and 

** sec, 
<< If there be any sorrow, like unto my sorrov, which is inflicted 

«< on me ; 
<« Which Jehovah iuBictec] on me in the day of the violence of 

«< his wrath. 
M For these things I weep, my eyes stream with water ; 

17 JoSKPttVfl» JSKOXK, UsSXJUVSj Scc. 

A Because the comforter u fiur awaj, that should tranquilliie mf 

** My children are desolatCi because the enemy was strong**'^ 

But to detail its beauties would be to transcribe the en- 
tire poem, I shall make but one remark relative to cer* 
tain passages, ajid to the former part of the second alpha- 
bet in particular.. If, in this passage, the Prophet should 
be thought by some to aflfect a style too bdd and ener* 
getic for the expression of sorrow, let them only advert 
to the greatness of the subject, its importance, sanctity» 
and solemnity ; and let them consider that the nature of 
the performance absolutely required these to be set forth 
in a style suitable, in some degree at least, to their in- 
herent dignity; let them attentively consider these 
things, and I have not a doubt, but they will readily ex* 
cuse the sublimity of the prophet. 

tt Lam. L U» and la. In the last vene the word vy it n^ repeated ki 
^ old tcanslaUoae. 




Uvof poems of this kind itill extant In the writings of the Hebrews.- 
eollection of Elegies or Lunentations appears to be lost.— Elegies in Eze> 
kiel. — Msny passages in Job may be accounted Elegiac. — ^Aboat a ser- 
enth part of the book of Fsalms consists of Elegies.— A perfect specimen 
of elegiac poetry from the Psalms.^— The Lamentation of Oayid over Saul 
and Jonathan explained : attempted in English yerse. 

Ls the last Lecture the nature and origin of the He- 
brew Elegy was explained ; the form and commence- 
ment of that species of poetry was traced into the sol- 
emn dirges which were chanted at funerals by the pro* 
fessed mourners ; and this was confirmed by instances 
taken from those short Elegies or Lamentations which 
occur in the Prophets, an4 by an accurate examination 
of that remarkable poem, the Lamentations of Jeremiah. 
I shall now treat of some other poems, which, although 
they do not exactly assume the form of a funereal dirge, 
are nevertheless to be comprehended in thb class. 

That the Hebrews were formerly possessed of some 
collection of elegies or lamentations, which has not been 
transmitted to us, we may understand from that passage 
of sacred history,' in which mention is mude of the sol- 
emn mourning publicly celebrated at the funeral of Jo- 
siah ; where it appears that a poem, composed for the 
occasion by Jertrmiah the prophet, amongst others had 
a place. Though the book, which is on this occasion 

1 2 Chron. zxxv. 25. 

Lbct. SS. the elegiac POETRY» &c. $%$ 

referred to, and which probably contained the most ex* 
cellent of the Hebrew ekgies, appears to be lost» tberp 
are still extant many specimens of this kind. of poetry; 
whence we may reasonably infer, that no species of 
composition was more in use amoag the Hebrews thaa 
the elegiac, the ode perhaps only excepted, 

Iq the first place, beside those short dirges, which 
4iccur in the writings of almost all the prophets, as was 
before xemarkod, there are some in Ezekiel» which are 
actually distii^uished by the title oi' Lamentations, and 
which may with the utmost propriety be referred to tlie 
dass of Elegies. Among these are the two lamentations 
eoncemiog Tyre, and the king of Tyre/ In these, 
though the intent of the prophet be to denounce ven* 
geance and punishment against these objects pf the di« 
vine wrath, rather than to lament their misfortunes; and 
diough he succeed in his aim of exciting terror instead 
of pity, yet the naoumful nature di^ the subject fully 
corresponds with the title, and both the matter and tt^l» 
fieatimeitfs bear some degree of resemblance to the fu- 
nereal songs. According to the custom which prevail*, 
ed on those solemn occasions, the glory, riches, and 
power of the deceased are pompously enumerated ; and 
thus by contrasting his former prosperity with tl^ pres- 
ent calamity, the effect is considerably augmentbd. As 
for the two prophecies,' in which the destruction of & 
gypt is predicted, they seem to have been entitled La- 
mentations merely fix>m the mournful nature of the sub- 
ject ; for they contain nothing of the elegiac form or 
style, scarcely any sentiment expressive of sorrow, and 
seem altogether composed for the denunciation ot* ven- 
geance, and the exciting of terror. Two other Lamen- 
tations,^ the one over the princes of Judah, and the other 

s EzsK. xxTii. and zsviiU 12—19. ^ fiuK. xxxii, 

4 ESSK. xix. 


over Jerasalem, majr be explained upon dmilar princi» 
pies : they are indeed poetical paraUes, and have bees 
already noticed in their proper [dace. 

There are aUo many passages in that most admirable 
poem, which bears the name of Job/ deserving to be 
accounted legitimate elegies : and indeed I do. not knov 
any more perfect specimens of this species of composi- 
tion ; so completely are the inmost recesses of sorroir 
di^)layed, and the remotest fountains of pity explored 
and laid open. But ^ncc these are parts of an entire 
poem, they are not rasUy to be detached from the body 
of the work ; and sinoe the elegant disposition, and the 
extraordinary beauties of this inimitable CQmpoaitiany 
will deserve a fuller examination, it is sufficient in this 
place to have mentioned these passages as exqui^ 
treasures, which the Muse of Sorrow might legally claim 
as her own, were she disposed to assert her rigid rights. 

I proceed, therefore, to the book of Psalms, which is 
a collection, under the general title of hymns to the 
praise of God, containing poems of different kinds, and 
elegies among the rest. If indeed the contents of the 
book were methodically arranged in their proper classes, 
not less than a sixth or seventh part would appear to be 
elegiac. Since, however, this is a matter dependant in 
a great measure upon opinion, and not to be cleariy de« 
monstrated upon determinate principles ; sibk the na-» 
ture of the subject, the complexion of the style, or the 
general feirm and disposition of each poem, must decide 
the question ; and since di&rent persons will judge dif- 
ferently upon these points ) it wiU hardly be expected 
that I should on this occasion proceed to the reg^ular 
classification of them. It will indeed be more to ytiur 
advantage, and more to our present purpose, to sded 

4 See Job, cbap. ui. vi. tiL x. jir, xriL six. zxiz. xxx. 


an example which may be clearly demonstrated to be- 
long to the elegiac class. 

Under this appellation then I shall not hesitate to re* 
commend to your notice the finrty-second Psalm, since 
I cannot help esteeming it one of the most beautiful 
specimens of the Hebrew elegy. The author of this 
elegant complaint, exiled from the temple, and from the 
public exercise ci his religion, to the extreme parts of 
Judea, persecuted by his numerous enemies, and ab- 
lated by their reproaches, pours forth his soul to God 
in this tender and pathetic composition. The ardent 
feelings of a devout heart are admirably expressed, while 
the memory of former felicity, seems to aggravate his 
present anguish. The extreme anxiety of a mind, de* 
pressed by the burthen of sorrow, and yet at the same 
time impatient under it ; overcome by an accumulation of 
evils, yet in some degree endeavouring to resist them, and 
admitting, through the dark cloud of affliction, a glim- 
mering ray of hope and consolati(Mi, is finely depicted. 
In frequent and almost instantaneous transitions he glows 
with love, and droops with lamentation ; he complains, 
he expostulates ; he despairs, and yet hc^s ; he is af- 
flicted, and again consoled. It is not to be expected 
that any poetical version should express these sentiments 
with the force, the energy, and more particularly with 
the conciseness of the Hebrew, which is indeed not to 
be imitated in any other language : though it must be 
confessed, that thb poem is more diffuse than the He« 
\>nw poetry in general. The following paraphrase, 
however, though infinitely short of the original in subn 
]imi^, will perhaps serve to evince the correspondence) 
of the subject and sentiments of thb poem, with tt^ 
degiac productions of modem times : 


As pants tbe wearied hart for cooling springs 

That sinks exhausted in the summer's chase ; 
So pants mj soul for thee, great King o( kings I 

So thirsts to reach thy sacred resting-place. 
On briny tear&* my famfsh'd soul has fed, 

While taunting fees deride my deep despair; 
« Say, where u now thy great DeliTercr fled f 

«< Thy mighty God— Deserted wandereri where V* 
Oft dweU my thoughu on those thrice happy days. 

When to thy fane i led the jocund throng ; 
Our mirth was worship, all our pleasure praise, 

And festal joys still clus'd with sacred song. 
Why throb, my heart i Why sink, my sadd'ning soul f 

Why droop to earth with various woes oppress'd ? 
My years shall yet in blissful circles noB, 

And joy be yet an inmate, of this breast. 
By Jordan's banks with devious sieps I stray^ 

O'er Uermon's rugged rocks, and deserts drear; 
Ev'n there thy hand shall guide my lonely way, 

There, thy remembrance shall my spirit cheer. 
In rapid floods the yemal torrents roll, 

Harsh-sounding cataracts responsive roar ; 
Thine angry billows overwhelm my soul. 

And dash my shattered bark from shore to shore. 
Yet thy soft mercies, ever in my sight, 

My heart ahall gladden throu^ the tedious diyr ( 
And midst the dark and gloomy shades oi night, 

To thee Til iondly tune the grateful lay. 
Rock of my hope ! Great solace of my heart ! 

Why, why desert the offspring of thy care, 
While taunting foes thus point ih' invidious dait i 
. « Where's now thy God 1 abantkm'd wanderer, where V 
Why faint my soul ? why doubt J^sovi^h's aid ? 

Thy God, the God of mercy still shall prove I 
In his bnght fane thy thanks shall yet be paid ; 

Unquestion'd be his pity and his love I^ 

s It leeniB odd to an Engliah reader to ttprtavA $em m mtai or /W; 
bat we should remember, that the sustenance of tbe ancients Hebrews con- 
listed for the most part of liquids, such as broths, ptitajret, &c. 8. H. 

' This peem seems to have been composed by David, when he was ex- 

Lkct. ts. OF THE HEBREWS. M7 

Anot)ier point» to which I would wish every .person, 
who reads this Psalm in the original to advert, is the 

pelled his kingdom by his rebdllious son, and compelled to fly to the borders 
of Liebanon, as it is plain he did, from 2 Saw. zvii. 24, 26, 27. Undoubt* 
edly, whoever composed this Psalm was expelled from the saered city, and 
wandered as an exile in the regions of Hermon» and the heights of Leba- 
non, whtnce Jordan is fed by the melting of the perpetual snow, Ver. 7. 
Let it be remembered, by the way, that David never betook himself to these 
places when he fled from Sanl, but concealed himself in the interior parts 
of Judea. Here then he pitched his camp, protected by the surroundings 
mountains and woods ; and hither the veteran soldiers, attached personally 
to him, and averse to change, resorted from every part of Palestme. Here 
dsoy indulging his melancholy, the prospect and the objects about him, 
suggested many of the ideas in this poem. Observing the deer which con- 
stantly came from the distant valleys to the fountains of Lebanon, and com- 
paxing this circumstance with his earnest desire to revisit the temple of 
God, and perhaps elevating his thoughts to a higher, celestial temple, he 
commences his poem i 

*' As the hart panteth after the water brooks, 

*' So panteth my soul after thee, O God. 

«< My soul thirsteth fbr God, Ibr the living God : 

<* When shall I enter, and appear before God !" 
That is, enter into the temple^ from which I am now an exile. He adds a 
bitterer cause of grief than his exile, namely, the reproaches of the multi- 
tude, and the cruel taunt, that he is deterted ofhia God^ and that the Deity, 
of whom he had boasted, fails to appear to his assi&tance, than which noth- 
ing can be more grating to an honest mind, and a mind conscious of its 
own piety. Ck>mpare 2 Sax. xvt 7, 8. 

** My tears have been my sustenance, 

** By day and by night, 

** While they continually say unto me, 

•* Where is now thy God T 

The repetition of the name of God raises in him fresh uneasiness, and 
causes all his wounds to bleed again : this forces him to exclaim : " I re- 
member God, and I dissolve in tears.** For so the word rrbn ought to be 
translated, and not according to the Masoretic punctuation, ** I remember 
iheee thinge .*** since an obscurity arises firom this punctuation, and it is 
difficult to say what things are referred to. 

" I remember God, and pour out myself in tears : 
** When I went with the multitude to the temple of God, 
** With the voice of joy and gladness, \^\k the multitude leaping for joy.** 
He now restrains his tears : 

" Why act thou so cast down, O my soul } 


division of the periodst and the resdution of them into 
their constituent parts or members ; he will findi I be*» 
lieve, that the periods spontaneously divide into verses 
of nearly equal length and measure, exactly ^milar ta 
those of the four first chapters of the Lamentations of 
Jeremiah ; such as I before remarked appeared to con* 
stitute the established metre of the Hebrew Elegy» 
The whole of the nineteenth Psalm consists also of the 
same kind of verse, except the epode^ which contains 
two long verses of the same kind, and one shorter, 
which last is once repeated. The forQr-third Psalm too 
seems to be constructed upon similar principlesi con- 
taining eight of the same kind of verses, mth the same 
epode. And since it is written in the same train of 
sentiment, the same style, and even apparently in the 
same metre, it ought not perhaps to be separaled firom 
the preceding Psahn,* but •rather to be considered as a 

'< And why art thou so disquieted inthin me f 
** Hope thou in God» for I still shall praise him.** 
He s^un breaks forth into lamentations, with which he eleganUy intermin- 
gles a poetical description of Lebanon. There are upon those hiUs fre- 
quent cataracu, and» in the springy season» the rivulets are uncommonly 
turbid by the melting* of the snow : 

*' Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy cataracts ; 

** And all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.** 
These form the principal imagery of the poem, and I omit the rest, lest I 
should fatigue the reader by the minuteness of criticism, which is both 
useless and impertinent, when the subject wants no illustration. H. 

B 1 find EuBsmus was formerly of the same opinion. *' This Paalm is 
** without a title in the original, and consequently in all the old transla- 
'< tions : tlicre is indeed great reason, from the similarity of thought and 
'* expression in both the Psaims, to believe that it originally made a part 
** of the Psalm preceding." In Psalm xliii. this conjecture reccA«s fur- 
ther confirmation from the manuscripts. ** The xliid and xliiid Psalms are 
" unitcil together in twenty-two MSS. The Psalms, however, are distin- 
'* guished from each other in the MSS. rarely by the numeral letters, but 
*' chiefly by these two methods : either by a single word placed in the va- 
** cant space between them» which is usually the breadth of ont line : and 

la&cT, la. OF THE HEBREWS. SM 

put or continuation of the same eomposition : if this be 
true, the whole poem consists of three parts almost e- 
qual and alike, each of which is concluded by the same 
ime^cahuy period or stanza. 

There is another most beautiful poem of the elegiac 
kind, which on this occasion solicits our attention, I 
mean the Lamentation of David for Saul and Jonathan ;* 
which appears to have been extracted by the historian 
from some poetical book, no longer extant, entitled 
Jasher.^ It will not, I Matter myself, be thought un* 

** this .word is. commonly the last word of the preceding» or the initial word 
** of the succeeding' Psalm ; or else by the first word of each Psalm being 
*• transcribed in letters of a larger size." K. Author'i JVbte. 

• 2Sak. 1,17—37. 

K Staoe so many conjectures have been published concerBing' the book 
ofJiuher and its title, without coming to any certain decision» I will also, 
without further apology, venture to give my sentiments upon it. The book 
of Jather is twice quoted, first in Josa. z 13, where the quotation is evi- 
dently poetkftl, and forms exactly three distichs : 
*< Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, 
" And thou Moon, in the valley of Ajalon : 
" And the Sun stood still, and the Moon stayed her course, 
*• Until the people were avenged of their enemies. 
** And the Sun tarried in the midst of the heavens» 
" And hasted not to go down in a whole day." 
And afierwards in the passage referred to m the text, we find the above 
lamentation of David extracted ftom it The custom of the Hebrews giv- 
ing tides to their books from the initial word is well known, as Genesis is 
called BeretMt^ 8u^ They also sometimes named the book, from some re- 
markable word in the first sentence ; thus the book of Kumbers is some- 
times called Bemidbar, We find also in their writings, canticles which had 
been produced on important occasions, introduced by some form of lliis 
kind ; axjashar (<Aen ««!§•) or ve-jcuhar peloni, &c. thus azjaahir Mosheh, 
'* then sung Moses," Exod. xv. 1. (the Sana a. restds Jtuher) ve^ihathar He- 
brahf ** and Deborah sang," Jun. v. 1. See also tlie same inscription of 
PsAiiM xviii. Thus I suppose the book of Jather to have been some collec- 
tion of sacred songs, composed at different times and on different occasions, 
and to- have had this title, because the book itself and most of the songs 
began iu general witli this word : ve-jathar. And the old SrniAc translator 
was certiunly of this opinion, when in these places he substituted the word 
OMhir (he sung ;) the meaning of which, says the Ababic commentator, U 



reasonable .to request your attention, while I endeavour 
to investigate, with some degree of accuracy, the nature 
and composition of this poem. 

The poet treats, though in no common manner, two 
common topics, and those the best adapted to the genu- 
ine elegy ; that I mean which was employed in the cele- 
bration of the funeral rites ; he expresses his own sor- 
row ; and he celebrates the praises of the deceased. 
Both sentiments are displayed in the exordium ; but, 
as m^ht naturally be expected, sorrow b predominant» 
and bursts forth with the impetuosity of exclamation : 

M The glorj of Israel is slain on the high places : 

«« How are the init^hiy fallen I" 

Grief is of a timid and suspicious temper ; and alwajrs 
ready at inventing causes for self-torment % easily oflfend- 
ed by neglect, and utterly impatient of ridicule or con- 
tempt : 

^ Thtj heard that I sighed, for there was none to comfort me : 
M All mine enemies have heard of my calamity, and rejoiced that 
thou inflictedst it.''^^ 

So Jerusalem complains in Jeremiah, exaggerating in the 
strongest terms her own misfortunes. Our poet feels 
and expresses himself in almost the same manner : 

*^ Declare it net in Gath, 

**> Pobiifth it not in the streeu of Aacalon ; 

<« Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, 

«* Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.*^ 

^ boQk oftong-t f in another place he hiniBelf ezplainB it by a word exprts- 
flive of J/gmnt. T, however» agree in opinion with thoae, who suppose this 
L;imentation originally to have borne the title of Xethei (a bow) either in 
memory of the slaughter made by tlie archers of the enemy, or from the 
A«w of Jonathan, of which particular mention is made verse 22. The VIX 
seem to have favoured this opinion. 

" KosB, or rather ko§, signifies in Arabic t9 meamtre, as is remarked by 
" the teamed Michaelis : but I do not remember an instance of this won! 
«« being used to signify poetic measure (or metre)." H. Amhor^M Mktc. 

n Lax. I 2U 

LsoT. tS. OF THE HEBREWS. 331 

The same passion isalao suUen and querulous, wayward 
and peevish, unable to restrain its impatience, and firing; 
at every thing that opposes iu *^ Would ! ne'er that in 
** the Pelian grove'' — says one of the characters in the 
Medea of Enmus.^ On another occasion we find a 
person inveighing against the innocent mountain : 

» Alas 1 Betrayer, barren and accurst ! 

«« What mem what heroea hast thou not deatroyed ? 

M Faul alone to those, whose patriot worth 

<< Their noble birth by noblest acts proclaim*d.''^' 

Our poet is not more temperate : 

» O mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew nor rain upon you !^ 
If these passages were brought before the severe tribunal 
of reason, nothing could appear more absurd ; but if 
examined by the criterion of the passions, nothing can 
be more consonant to nature, more beautiful or em« 
phatic. Not to refer effects to their real causes is ia 
logic an imperfection, but in poetry often a beauty ; the 
appeal in the one case b to reason, in the other to. the 
passions. When sorrow has had sufficient vent, there is 
lebure to expatiate on the accomplishments of the dead. 
In the first place they are celebrated for their virtue and 
heroic actions ; next for their piety and mutual affection ; 
and lasdy for their agility and strength. Saul is hon- 
oured with a particular panegyric, because he had en- 
riched his people, and contributed to the general felicit)* 
and splendour of the state. This passage, by the way, 
is most exquisite composition : the women of Israel are 
most happily introduced, and the subject of the enco- 
mium is admirably adapted to the female characters.^^ 

13 CiGSBo. He Fato. See Eusifidss, Medea, ver. 1. 

IS Scolion apud ATaniAuiE» lib. xt. See EusTATorvB ad Iliad A. 171, 
Edit Aux. PoLin Flarentue, and Hbbodot. Terpsichore, 63, 64. 

ii *< Ye dangfaten of larael, weep over Saul," fcc. 
The following passage bears po remote resemblance to thig of the aacitd 


lonafthan ift at bst oetebrated in a dicAid euiogiuiiH 
which is beanttfalty paliietfc, is animated with all the 
fervour^ and iweeOened widi aU tiie tenderness of friend- 

I should have made some paiticdlar observations on 
the intercalary period or epode inserted in the Psidin 
which was lately uhder our consideration, but that I was 
aware an opportunity would again present itself during 
the examination of this poem. This recurrence of the 
same idea is perfectly congenial to the nature of elegy ; 
since grief is fond of dwelling upon the particular ob« 
jects of the passion, and frequently repeating them. 
There is something singular, however, in the intercalary 
period which occurs in this poem, for it dties not rega- 
larly assume the same form of words, as is the case in 
getfeiat, but ^appears with a little variation. It is three 
times intrt)duced, beautifully diversified in the t>rder and 
diction : it forms part of the exordium, as w<A as tdf the 
conclusion, and is once Inserted in the bodyof thepoenu 

Another observation, though it merit no higher tide 

irriter, and I think comes nearer it in sublimity than any thing* 1 have oh* 
iKrved in modem poeti^ : 

•* Ye, who ere while for Cook's illustrious brow 
** t>latk'd*the ^reen laurel, and the oaken 1)ough ; 
*' Vhiog lAit gay garlanda en tlie trQ|)lilad ^oars, . 
* " And pour'd bis fame along a thousand sbftrea» 

*' Strike the slow death-bell ! — weave the sacred v^rse, 
** And «ttew the cypress o'er his honoofd hearse.'* 

Miss SsWASn's £U^ n CgpkOm OMr. 

A -mm ear wiH di^oem something peeoliar in the structure of the third and 
/fih lines of this quotation. Each of these lines, in fact» b^nrwith a tro- 
chaic, followed by spondees, which, from its abruptness and energy, is ad- 
mirably adapted to the expression of sorrow : 

Hung tlie gay garlands, &c. 

Strike tlie slow deiith-bcU, &c. 
In this sliort elegy specimens may be found of almost every poetical beau- 
ty and excellenee. T. 

l.MT-8% OF TfUC H£;BSEW9. 339 

than a conjecture, I do not hesitate to submit to your 
consideration. There appears to be sometbiogsis^ular 
in the versification of this eLegy, and a very free 4ise of 
different naietfes. It neither consists altogether of the 
long verses, nor yet of the short ones (which are the 
most usual in die poetry of the Hebrews ;) but rather 
of a very artful and happy mixture of both, so that the' 
concise and pointed parallelism serves to correct the lan- 
guor and diffuseness of the elegiac verse : and this form 
of versification takes place also in some of the Psalms. 
Certainly there is a great appearance of art and design in 
this nice and poetical conformation of the periods : and 
that no grace or elegance should be wanting to this po- 
em, it is no less renu^rkable for the general beauty, 
splendour, andjperspiouky of the style. 

To do complete justice to the economy of this excel- 
lent production, it is absolutely necessary to exhibit it 
in an entire state. 'Not to tire you therefore with a rep- 
etition of the verbsA translation, I have endeavoured to 
express the general sentiipents and imagery in elegiac 

Thy glory, Iflrael, dcoop» its laitg^id head, 

On Gilboa's height» thy ming bc^vvty diesis 
In sordid pUesihere sleep th' iilufttrip«s dead. 

The mighty victor falFn and vanquish'd lies. 

Yet dumb be Grief— Hush'd be her clam*rou« voice 1 

Tell not in Oath the tidings of our shame i 
Lest proud Philistia in our woes rejoice. 

And rude barbarians blast fair Israel's fame. 

No more, O Gilboa ! heavens reviving dew 

With rising verdure crown thy fated head ! 
No victim's blood thine altars dire imbrue ! 

For there the blood of heaven's elect was shed. 

The sword of Saul ne'er spent its force in air ; 
The shaft of Jonathan brought low the brave ; 

334 THE ELEGIAC POETRY, «cc. Lbct. 83. 

In life united equal hxts they sharei 

In death united share one common grave. 

Swift as the eagle cleaves the aerial way, 
Through hosu of foes they bent their rapid course ; 

Strong as the lion darts upon his prey, 
They crush'd the naUons with resistless force. 

Daughters of Judah, mourn the fatal day, 

In sable grief attend your monarch's urn ; 
To solemn notes attune the pensive lay. 

And weep those joys that never shall return : 

With various wealth he made your tents o'erflow. 
In princely pride your charms profusely dress'd ; 

Bade the rich robe with ardent purple glow, 
And sparkling gems adorn the tissued vest 

On Gilboa's heights the mighty vanquished lies» 
The son of Saul, the generous and the just i 

Let streaming sorrows ever fill these eyes, 
Let sacred tears bedew a brother's dust ! 

Thy firm regard revered thy David's name, 
And kindest thoughts in kindest acts expressed ; 

Not brighter glows the pure and generous flame. 
That lives within the tender virgin's breast 

But vain the tear, and vain the bursting sigh. 
Though Sion's echoes with our griefii resound » 

The mighty victors fall'n and vanquish'd lie, 
And war's refulgent weapons strew the ground* 




The «ncient mode of instructing by Panbles or Prorerb»— The Prorerbt 
of Solomon : thnt work consists of two pirts ; the first, which extends 
to the ninth chapter inclosiTe, truly poetical, and most elegant in its 
kind : the remainder of the book consists of detached niazim8.^The 
principal charactezistics of a Parable or Proverb ; brevity (which natur- 
ally involves in it some deg^ree of obscurity) and elegance— Eccleaiastes : 
the argument, disposition, and style of that work— All the alphabetical 
Psalms of this kind, as well as some others— The Wisdom of the son of 
Sirach, written originally in Hebrew, in imitation of the Proverbs of Sol- 

• omon— The fidelity of the Greek translator ; and the great elegance of 
the work in general— The Wisdom of Solomon, written originally in Greek, 
and in imitation of the Proverbs ; the style and economy of that book— 
A new translation of the sxivth chapter of Ecclesiasticus. 

In those periods of remote antiquity, which may with 
the utmost propriety be styled the infancy of societies 
and nations, the usual, if not the only, n)ode of instruc* 
tion was by detached aphorisms or proverbs. Human 
wisdom was then indeed in a rude and unfinished state ; 
it was not digested, methodized, or reduced to order 
and aonnexion. Those, who, by genius and reflexion, 
exercised in the school of experience, had accumulated 
a stock of knowledge, were desirous of reducing it into 
the most compendious form, and comprized in a few* 
maxims those observations which they apprehended 
most essential to human happiness. This mode of in- 
struction was, in truth, more likely than any other to 
prove efficacious with men in a rude stage of society ; 


for it professed not to dispute, but to command ; not to 
persuade, but to compel ; it conducted them not by a 
circuit of argument, but led immediately to the appro- 
bation and practice of integrity and virtue. That it 
might not, however, be altogether destitute of allure- 
ment, and lest it should disgust by an appearance of 
roughness and severity, some degree of ornament be- 
came necessary ; and the instructers of mankind added 
to their precepts the graces of barmooy, and iUuminated 
them with metaphors, comparisons, allusions, and the 
other embellishments of style. This manner» which 
with other nations prevailed only during the first peri- 
ods of civilization, with the Hebrews continued to be a. 
favourite style to the latest ages of their literature. It 
obtained among them the appellation of Mathalim (or 
Parables) as well because it consisted in a great measure 
of parables strictly so called } as because it possessed 
uncommon force and authority over the minds of the 

Of this didactic poetry there are still extant many 
specimens in the writings of the Hebrews ; and among 
these the first rank must be assigned to the Proverbs of 
Solomon. This work consists of two parts. The firsts 
serving as a proem or exordium, includes the nine firs^ 
chapters ; and is varied, elegant^ sublime, and truly pa» 
etical ; the order of the subject is in general excellently 
preserved, and the parts are very aptly connected among 
themselves. It is embellished with many beautiful de- 
scriptions and personifications ; the diction is polished, 
and abounds wit]^ all the ornaments of poetry ; inso- 
much, tliat it scarcely yields in elegance and splendour 
to any of the sacred writings. The other part, which 
extends from the beginning of the tenth cliapter to the 
end of the book, consists almost entirely of detached 


pamUes or maxims, which have but little in them of 
the sublime or poetical, except a certain energetic and 
concise turn of expression. Since the didactic poetry, 
of the Hebrews assumes in general this unconnected 
and sententious form, and since this style intrudes itself 
U)to almost all the poetry of the Hebrews, and occura 
frequcndy in poems of a character very different from 
the didactic ; I shall treat principally of this latter part 
of the book of Proverbs, and endeavour more minutely 
to investigate the precise nature of a parable or proverb. 
Solomon himself, in one of his proverbs, has explain* 
ed the principal excellencies of this form of composi» 
tion ; exhibiting at once a complete definition of a par* 
able or proverb, and a very happy specimen of what he 
describes : 

M Apples of gold in a net-work of silver 
*< Is a word seasonably spoken/*^ 

Thus he insinuates, that grave and profound sentiments 
are to be set off by a smooth and well-turned phraseolo- 
gy, as the appearance of the most beautiful and exqui* 
sitely-coloured fruit, or the imitation of it perhaps in 
the most precious materials, is improved by the circum- 
stance of shining, as through a veil, through the reticu- 
lations of a silver vessel exquisitely, carved. Nay, he 
ftirther intimates, that it is not only a neat turn and pol* 
ished diction which must recommend them, but that 
truth itself acquires additional beauty, when partially 
discovered through the veil of elegant fiction and im- 

To consider Hft subject in a still more particular 
point of view, let brevity be admitted as the prime ex^* 
cellence of a proverb.* This is, indeed, a necessary 

3 PbOT. XXV. 11. 

• s «< The brevity of this kind of cotDposition, and the condensing^ of moclk 
ihouglit into a boirII compssa^ rendera it more aententioUa^ more aage and 


33ff DIDACTIC POETRT. Lxer. 9». 

condition, without which it can neither retain the name 
nor the nature. - For if the sentiment be diffusely ex- 
pressed, if even when it contains a double image, it ex- 
ceed ten or at most twelve words, it is no longer a prov- 
erb but an harangue. For the discriminating senti- 
ment must force itself on the mind by a single effort, 
and not by a tedious process ; the language must be 
strong and condensed, rather omitting some circum- 
stances that appear necessary, than admitting any thin^ 
superfluous. Horace himself insists upon this as one 
of the express rules of didactic poetry, and he has as- 
signed the reason on which k is founded : 

^ Short be the precept» which with ease is gaioM 
« By docile minch, and faithfully retain'd/'^ 

Solomon expresses the same sentiment in hb own (that 
is the parabolic) manner : 

M The words of the wise are like goads, 
» And like nails that are firmly fixed.''^ 

expressire. As m a smtll seed the whole power of ▼egetation, which is 
to produce a tree, is contained. And If any writer should amplify the 
sentence» it would be no longer a proverb, but a declamation.** Demxt. 
Ph Ai.. nifi SfftmnH*' Sect. ix. 

3 Francis's Horace, Art of Poetry, rer. 455. 

4 R0CU8. xii. U. This I think is one of the ^e w ftMis pro t e r bt (oe those 
which *' contain a double imag^** as mentiened before) and re^iives a dif^ 
ferent mode of interpreUtion for the two images, as haring nothing coa* 
lescent in their natures.— 4t is the property of a proverb to prick sharpy, 
and Md/rm^. The first idea is included in the image of a goad— the 
latter in the nail deepfif^ and theaefore ^frsOit dnrea. S. Hw 

In Palestine, it formerly made an essential part of the buUdinf^ of a 
house, to furnish the inside of the several apartments with sets of spikes» 
aaUsy or large pegs, upon which to dispose of, and hang up, the several 
moveables in common use, and proper to the apartment. These spikei 
they worked into the walls at the first erection of them ; the walls being 
of such materials, that they could not bear their being driven in afterwards^ 
and they were contrived so as to strengthen the Vfa\h by binding the parts 
together, as well as to serve for convenieace. See Bishop LowTa's /mmA». 
cK. zxii. 33, n«fe«. 

laeT. «; mOACnC POETRY. S9i 

That is, they instantaneously stimulate or aflfect the 
mind ; they penetrate deeply, and are firmly retained. ' 
Some degree of obscurity is generally an attendant 
upon excessive brevity ; and the parabolic style is S9 
far from being abhorrent of thb quality, that it seems 
frequently to aflS^ct it, and to regard it as a perfectioh* 
This obscurity b not indeed altogether without its uses: 
it whets the understanding, excites an appetite for 
knowledge, keeps alive the attention, and exercises the 
genius by the labour of the investigation. The human 
mind, moreover, is ambitious of having a ^are in' the 
discovery of truth ; excessive indolence or dulness only 
requires a very open and minute display, or prefers a 
passive inermess to the exercise and the praise of per- 
^Hcacity and discernment ; and thM knowledge is ever 
most delightful, which we have ccNUpassed by oAtewi^ 
efforts.' Other causes, however, independent of the 
brevity and conciseness of the language, have, in many 
cases, contributed to the obscurity of the parabolic 
style.* In the first place, some degree of dbscurity 
necessarily attends those passages in which different 
objects are applied in succession to the illustration of 

* So grettt a portion of temu hafipincMi consitti ia actvrity tsui^eapl^j- 
nent» Uiat withoat at all resorting to the love of &me, we need not wondaf 
aiat some degne of difficulty interests and engages the mind» and merely 
by excttiqg tbe ftcyoltict to actkm affords positive picasoie. T. 
^ « Pater ipse colendi 

** Haud &cilem esse viam yoluit* primusque per artem 

** M OTit agrosy curu acuetu morfo/fa ^arda : 

*' Kec torpere gravi passus sua regna vetemo.** 

^ Wbetting with many a care the ham» heart'* S. H. 
. '« The brtvitg of the ancient prorerbs may, in a great measuu^ lie ap» 
counted for, from the want of alphabetical writing, and their being intend- 
ed to be committed to memory. Much of their obtcurity may be attributed 
to our ignorance of many local circumstances to which th^ alMe». «id 
which actually served to assist the mei^ories qf those for whom they wtre 
designed. T, 

^ch ot^r, without my exfiress mi^^ks of compviaan) 

of this we have had an example in Uie pamUe just now 

9)i(Med, w4 of this there are many other examples in 

tjie sacred writings. I wiU, nevertheless^ select one or 

two» which are deservuig of eur itfiention for their pe* 

culler jux^priety and dc^^ce ; 

** Clwda and vind friihaut rattt 

<« Is a man whp glprie« in a falladoiia gift.''^ 

The following is in a diflferent form : 

« Gold» and abundance of ruUM» 

<< And precious ornaments» are the lips of knowledge.'^ 

Again, obscurity is almost inevitablct when the aubfccl 
Itiself» to which the imt^iy appf^rtams and aUud(»« in 
removed wt of sightf and the sentiment assomes the 
form Qf allKgory, itoioe MpressM a v«7 eommflA 
preoefft(in|4siinlangiisge: . 

^ L^ara the strong «en^e of pleasure to control ; 
. << With virtuous pride its blandishments disdain s 
'<< I^urtfnl is pleasure^ when 'tis bought with pain."* 

But with how much more elegance does Solomon de- 
liver the same precept in a figurativp manner, and u%> 
der the veil of allegory ! 

<« Hast thou found honey ? Eat no more than maj suffice thee : 
.«< iiesi thou be satiated, and nauseate it.**^ 

Some obscurity also attends any comparison which isi 
of extensive application : of this the following seeais a 
pertinent example : 

«< As in water face (answers) to {ace* 
u So doth the heart of man to man/'^^ 

This is certainly very difficult to apply or to define, 
«nee it may refer in many difTerait views to the facul- 
^es, genius, affections^ will, attachments, mannors, vir<> 

7 P»©Y. XXY. 14. • P««T. ML 15. 

9 Frmcit^s Hortoe» B. I. Ep. ii. yer. 78. 

» PjwT. jar. lei u Pmov. xxvii. If. 


tues^ and vices df men, among which diere genefalfy 
mibslsts a certain agreement or similarity from imita« 
tion, and from habits which are insensibly caught in 
social intercourse. Lastly, not to dweU too long upo« 
this subject, some obscurity succeeds, when the princi- 
pal, or perhaps the whole force of a proverb or parable, 
does not lie in the direct loid literal sense, but in some- 
thing not immediately expressed, which is however 
concomitant with it : 

^ The bearing ear, and the seeing eye, 

^ JxHOTAB made them both/'** 

To dweU ixpoa the external and literal sense of this 
proverb, will only bewilder the reader in the dubious 
turn of the expression ; but how sublime, how profita- 
ble, is the sentiment, when it comes from' the pen of 
the Psalmist, embellished with his usual perspicuity 
|U)d animation? 

<< He who planted the ear, shall he not hear ? 
<| He who formed the eye, shall he not see V*^ 

The last quality that I shall mention as essential to a 
parable or proverb, is elegance ; which is not inconsistv 
^nt with brevity, or indeed with some degree of obscu? 
rity, I speak of elegance as it respe(its the septiment, 
the imagery, and the diction, and of its. union with al( 
these we have already had sufficient proof in all the par- 
ables which have been «quoted in the course of this Lecr 
ture. It may however be proper to remark in thi^ 
place, that ^ven proverbs, which are the plainest^^ 
inoS|t obvious, and simple, which contain nothing re- 
markable either in sentiment or style, are not to be es- 
teemed wid^out their peculiar elegance, if they possess^ 
enly brevity, and that neat, compact form, and round- 
ness of period» which alone are sufficient to constitute ^ 

V. Pa»T. aoc. 13. V Psaui xcir. 9. 


parable. Such is the maxim, quoted by David in the 

sacred history, as an ancient proverb ; 

« Wickedness will proceed from the wicked/*^^ 

Such is that of Solomon, 

«( Hate stirreth up strifes ; 

^ But love covereth all transgresuons."^' 

And many others which might easily be produced from 
the same author. 

There is another didactic work of Solomon, entided 
Kohelet, (Ecclesiastes) or the Preacher ; or rathet- per- 
haps Wisdom the Preacher, the general tenor and style 
of which is very different from the book of Proverbs, 
though there are many detached sentiments and prov- 
erbs interspersed. For the whole work is uniform, and 
confined to one subject, namely, the vanity of the world 
exemplified by the experience of Solomon, who is in- 
troduced in the character of a person investigating a 
very difficult question, examining the arguments on ei- 
ther side, and at length disengaging himself from an 
anxious and doubtful disputation. It would be very 
difficult to distinguish the parts and arrangement of this, 
production ; the order of the subject and the connexion 
of the arguments are involved in so much obscurityt 
that scarcely any two commentators have agreed con- 
cerning the plan of the wotlc, and the accurate division 
of it into parts or sections. The truth is, the laws of 
methodical composition and arrangement were neither 
known by the Hebrews, nor regarded in their didactic 
writings. They uniformly retained the dd sententious 
manner, nor did^they submit to method, even where Ae 
occasion appeared to demand it. The style of this woifc 
is, however, singular ; the language is generally low, I 
might almost call it mean or vulgar ; it is frequently 

M 1 Sax. UiT. U. if Ptov. x. ^. 


loose, QQCOnnected, approaching to the incorrectnesa oC 
conversation; and possesses very little of the poetical 
character» even in the composition and structure of the 
periods : which peculiarity may possibly be accounted 
for from the nature of the subject. Contrary to the 
opinion of the Rabbiest Ecclesiastes has been classed 
among the poetical books ; though if their authority and 
opinions were of any weight or importance, they mighty 
perhaps, on this occasion, deserve some attention.*^ 

Some of the Psalms also belong properly to this class; 
the alphabetical, for instance, with some others. The 
sdphabetical or acrostic form of composition has been 
more than once alluded to. in the course of these lectures. 
The chief commendation of these poems is, that they 
are excellently accommodated to ordinary use ; that the 
sentiments are serious, devout, and practical : the lan- 
guage chaste and perspicuous ; the composition neat, 
and regularly adapted to the sententious ibrm. 

There are extant, besides these, two other considera» 
ble works of the didactic kind, which the Hebrew poet- 
ry may legally claim, though they are only extant ia 
Greek prose. I mean The Wisdom of the Son of Si- 
rach, and that which is entitled The Wisdom of Solo* 

The work of the Son of Sirach, translated from the 
Hebrew into Greek, by one of the descendants of the 
author, is altogether of the same kind with the Proverbs 
of Solomon ; insomuch, that it originally bore the same 
title fMashalimJ as we learn from Jerome, who directly 
asserts, that he had seen the book in Hebrew -^^ and t 

M It is Uitt opioum of a very ingpentoas viiter, in % learned work, whicU 
he has lately produced» that the greater part of this book was written ill 
prose, bat that it contains many scraps of poetry, introduced as occusioa 
serred : and ip this opinion I am inclined to assent See A. V. Ussyoxu]^ 
Tntf. PhiL ^ Crii. in Eecle*. lib. iL cap. 1* •liclAar'f AVftw 

^ Frxf. in Libros SalomoniSr 

344 DIDACTIC POETRY. Lbct.94. 

see no neason why his assertion should not relate to the 
original Hebrew copy, rather than to any Syriac version* 
However this may be, it is clear even from the Greek 
tanslation, which we have, that the book in every re- 
sptct resembles the Proverbs of Solomon, as nearly as 
an imitation can resemble an original. There is a great 
similarity in the matter, the sentiments, and the diction ; 
the complexion of the style, and the construcUon of the 
periods, are quite the same ; so that I cannot entertain a 
doubt, that the author actually adopted the same mode 
of versification, whatever it was, if we can admit that 
any knowledge of the Hebrew metres was extmt at the 
time when he is supposed to have written. For all thai 
we are able to conjecture on this head we are indebted 
to the great fidelity of the translator, which is abundantly 
manifested in every part of the work. He seems indeed 
not at all to have affected the elegancies of the Greek 
language, but to have performed his duty with the most 
religious regard to the Hebrew idiom ; he not only ex» 
hibits faithfully the sentiments, but seems even to have 
numbered the words, and exactly to have preserved their 
order ; so that, were it literally and accurately to be re- 
translated, I have ver}^ little doubt that, for the most part, 
the original diction would be recovered. If any person 
will make the experiment on a small scale, he will readily 
discern the perfect coincidence of this composition with 
the most ancient specimens of the didactic poetry of the 
Hebrews ; so exact indeed is the agreement both in form 
and character, that the reader might, witliout much diffi- 
culty, be persuaded, that he was perusing the composi* 
tions of another Solomon. This author is however an 
imitator chiefly of the former part of the book of Prov- 
erbs : for there is more connection and order in the sen- 
timents ; the style is also more highly cok>ured9 and <- 

ikcT. M. triDACtiC P6«tRt. S45 

6dttnd$ more in imagery and figures than the didactic 
poetry of the Hebrews in general requires. As an in- 
stance, I need onty mention that adtnirabte personiftcaf* 
tioh of Wisdom exhibited by him, in which he has so 
happily adopted the manner of his great predeccsson* 

The Wisdom of Solomon \9 also composed ih imita- 
tion of that prince of didactic writers, but with a degree 
of success very unequal indeed to that of the Son of Si* 
rach. It is not, like the book which bears his name, a 
translation from the Hebrew, but is evidently the per- 
formance of some Hellenistic Jew, and originally written in 
Greek» The style is very unequal ; it is often pompous 
and turg^, as well as tedious and diffuse, and abounds 
in epithets, directly contrary to the practice of the He- 
brews ; it b however sometimes temperate, poetical and 
sublime. The construction is occasionally sententious, 
and tolerably accurate in that respect, so as to discover 
very plainly that the author had the old Hebrew poetry 
for Ins model, though he fell far short of its beauty and 
sublimity. The economy of tlie woiic is still more faul- 
ty ; he continues the prayers of Solomon from the ninth 
chapter to the very end of the book ; and they conse- 
quently take up more than one half of the whole. But 
beside the tediousness of such an harangue, he indulges 
in too great a subtilty of disquisition upon abstruse sub- 
jects, and mingles many things very foreign to the na- 
ture of an address to the Deity : and after all, the sub- 
ject itself b brought to no perfect conclusion. On these 
accounts I agree with those critics, who suppose thb 
book to be a much more modem production than that of 
the Son of Sirach, and to have been composed in a less 
enlightened age. 

That I may not dbmiss the subject without exhibit- 

^ EccLvs. xxir. 



ing a specimen of some complete poem of the kind, suck 
as I have hitherto given, I shall add to thb lecture a 
translation of a part of Ecclesiasticus, namely, that ele- 
gant personification of Wisdom I lately mentioned ; io 
which I have endeavoured as much as possible to pre« 
serve, or rather restore, the form and character of die 
original Hebrew*" 


^ Wisdom shall praise her own spirit, 

<< And shall gloty in the midst of her people » 

to Our author's observations on the naturie and ori|^in of didactic poetiy 
are most strikingly just : and on inspecting llie early didactic productions 
of the Greeks, the old sententious form mt^ be easily discovered : indeed, 
that pointed and antithetic manner seems (probably by the force of habit 
and imitation} to have pervaded this kind of pbetry, both ancient and mod- 
em. To our anthoi^» excellent remarks on the subject» I will add, that the 
science of morals appears to be the only branch of discipline which can be 
successfolly treated of m verse. The study of abstract science demands a 
disposition of mind very different from that which enjoys the playfulneM 
of foncy. In such didactic poetry, therefore, as professes to treat of ai^ 
subject but morals, the mind is either too much warmed by the language, 
imagery, and episodes, to think of the main drift of the author, and then he 
is not understood, as, I, believt is gmerally fonnd to be tht case in reading 
Dr. ▲aivsiBs's PUiuuru ^fOie haagimatmn / or else the attention » fixed 
upon the matter, and then the poetical style is an unnecessary and mere- 
tricious' ornament, which only perplexes the mind, by diverting it from its 
object The raason why ethics may be safely Uught in verse, seems to be, 
because that science is conversant chiefly with the human passions, and the 
delineation of them i and poetry being no other than the language of pas- 
sion, win, on such a subject, rather Uhistrate than confuse. I may add 
too^ that ethics is a science with which mankind are most generally ae* 
quainted, and therefore can most easily comprahend. I am aware, that on 
this argument the success and popularity of some didactic poems will be 
aliedged against me, and particularly that of the Gcorgics, Lucretius, and 
Horace's Bpistle to the Pisos ; but I must remark, that these very poems 
owe their whole success to the episodes and the moral sentiments with 
which they abound : and I appeal to any candid reader, whether, after all, 
he has not been at some times fstigued with the didactic parts of even 
these most elegant productions. I do not indeed approve of long didactic 
poems, even upon moral subjects ; for, unless they tie enlivened by inter- 
esting episodes and descriptions, they can scarcely &il to i^pear tedious 
and dry. T. 


^ In the coQgregtdoD of the Most High shall she open her numtbt 

^ And in the presence of his power shall she glory. 

^ I proceeded out of the mouth of the Most High ; 

^ And as a mist I covered the earth. 

^ I dwelt above on high, 

« And my throne was in the pillar of a cloud. 

^ I compassed the circuit of the heavens alonoi 

** And walked in the depth of the abyss. 

^ In the waves of the sea* and in all the earth, 

<< And in every people, and every nation I obtained a possesttOiM 

« With all these I sought rest, 

^ And in whose inheritance shall I abide ? 

^ Then the Creator of all things commanded me, 

^ And he that created me fixed ray tabernacle t 

« And said, Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, 

^ And in Israel thine inheritance. 

<« Before the world he created me, from the beginning; 

« And I shall never cease. 

^ In the tabernacle of holiness I served before him ; 

<t And «• was I established in Sion. 

<* Thus in the beloved city he caused me to rest, 

« And over Jerusalem was my power; 

^ I toolL root in an honourable people, 

^ In the portion of the inheritance of Jbjiovaq. 

<< As a cedar in Lebanon was I exalted, 

tt And as a cypress on the mountains of Hermon, 

<* As a palm-tree in Gaddi was I exalted, 

*f And as planu of roses in Jericho : 

tf As a fair olive in a pleasant field, 

« And as a plane-tree I was exalted above the waters ; 

* As cinnamon, and as a mass of ointment I yielded fragrance^ 

«* And as choice myrrh I breathed forth a pleasant odour, 

<• As galbanum, and onyx, and storax, 

« And as the vapour of frankincense in the tabernacle. 

<* ly as the turpentine*tree« seat out my branches, 

^ Aud my branches are the branches of glory and favour. 

^ I, as the vine, blossomed forth a pleasant smell, 

<< And my flowers are the embryos of honour and wealth. 

^ Come unto me all ye that desire me, 

*^ And with my productions be filled : 

« Por IQ7 remembrance is sweeter than honey. 


« And my ppsiession tbanlhe cenib oiiht heoi* 

^ They that eat me shall yet be hooj^ry ; 

<< And they that drinjL me shall yet be thirsty. 

(< He that obeyeth me shall not be ashamed» 

«< And those that act according to roe shall not m- 

<< All these are in the boo^ of Uie cof enant of God aio«t high ;. 

<« The law which Mosea commandedf 

<« An inheritance for the geperatioDBjpf Jacob. 

« Wisdom fiileth like Pishoot 

<« And like Hiddekel in tbe month Abib. 

« She makcth the understanding to overfloir likr l^upbniiea | 

" And as Jordan in the days of kanrest. 

« She sendeth forth instruction as the riYer,^ 

^ And as Gihon in the days of the vintage. 

^ The first roan was not perfiect in the knowledge of her, 

^ Neither shall the last search her out : 

<« For her thoughts are more extensive than the «eat 

<| And her counsels than the vast abyss. 

<< I came forth also as a brook from ariver, 

9> The grandson of Sirach amxars ii\ this place to have fallen into aiD| 
error, and to have failed of expressing th^ sentiment of his ancestor : for. 
finding the word imperfectly written in his copy be read it nio, and rashly 
translated it «r fuc (as the light.) Obsenre also the incongraity of this 
word with the context, acooeding to the common readkig : Pisqn, Tigris^ 
Euphrates» Jordan, the Ughtt Gibon : in the place of thA Ugku some river 
must certainly be intended, and therefore we ought to read yxato* «r ^ l^. 
tat/btflf, <M tht river, that is, the Nile, so called for the sake of distinction : 
and doubtless to a Jew, who resided in its neighbourhood, and who waa a 
spectator of its wonderful inundations, it would appear worthy of being 
ranked with the most noble rivers, and consequently worthy of this dis- 
tinction. Bloveever, Jablbitskivs, Fgnahecn Egypt, lib. ir. cap. L seet 2, 
is of opinion, that the word *iir chiefly refers to the IGla in the saeaed 
writers; and supposes *vr, in the Egyptian Jabo, to bate been the first aid 
only name of the Nile among the Egyptivis. This word, however, itself 
is defectively read 'VO Axos viii. 8, (« it is read nir:» in four MSS." K.) 
but being rq>eated immediately, it is more fully expressed *)ir 9, ix. 5. See 
CArrxLL Crit, Sac. iv. 2, 11. A learned friend of mine observed to me» 
that the great BecBAaT had long since been of the same opinion, whose 
authority I am happy to adduee in favour of what I have here asserted : 
** 1M is a rivfr, as well as *)icv So it occurs Amos viii. 8, where it is ipofc*. 
" en of the Nile, and in the sapke sense it is used by the sgn of Sirach» 
" EccLus. xxiv. 37, where it has been kastUy translated the lijjihi/* Ql^ 
90011, lib. i. chap. 23. Anthior*M JVWe. 


<< And as a «treaoi in Paradke welled bom iCa i^amaio. 

<< I said} I will water mf garden) 

<« And I will abundantlf water my fiirrow ; 

<< And behdd» my brook became a rireri 

" And my lirer became a sea. 

<| For I will beam forth instruction as the morning. 

(I I will make it lo shine afar off : 

" Fur I will pour oat doctrine as prophecy» 

<« And bequeath it to all generations for ever. 

« Behold I have not laboured for myself alone » 

<« But for all who inquire after the truth.**^ 

f 1 The following translation of diis admirable chapter into English yerse 
was furnished me by an ingenious Iriendy and I dare belieye will prove scf 
peptable to the reader. T. 

BccLssiasiBevs^vOnAV. XXIV. 
Wisdsm shall raise her loud exulting voices 
Andy 'midst her people^ glory and rejoice ; 
Oft the Almighty^ awfbl presence near» 
Her dulcet sounds sngelic choirs shall hear/— 

Wak'd by tiie breath of hewren^ high king to birth^ 
I seem'd a cloud involTing skies and earth ; 
Alofl, on places high, wss my retreat. 
Dark mists encircled my exited seat ; 
Bound the broad sky I solitary roir'd. 
Or through the mazy depths of ocean movM, 
My paths amidst the swelling waTes remun'd. 
Some power in every chang^g clime f gain'd ; 
With each, with all, I anxious sought repose ; 
But where, say where, shall Wisdom's wanderings close ? 
Hark ! did not he, who fram'd the worlds, command ? 
Here shall thy much-loT'd tabernacle stand. 
Here on the plains of Jacob shalt thou lire. 
Thy goodly heritage shall Israel give. 

Me, before time itself he gave to day, 
Kor shall my spirit fiiint, or feel decay ; 
I bow'd before him in his haUow'd shrine. 
And Sion's pride and Sion's strength was mine. 
Did I not tall as those fair cedars grow, 
Which grace our Lebanon's exalted brow ? 
Did I not lofty as the cypress rise. 
Which seems from Hermon's heights to meet the skies I 
^sh as Engaddi's pahn that scents the air. 
Like rose of Jericho, so sweet, so fair ; 
Careen as the verdant olire of the grores. 


Htnught tt the plane-txee wbich the atreamlet lorei. 

Around soft •mnaxnon its odoor fpreadsy 

AspalathuB perfumes our balmy meads ; 

More grstef ttl still does myrrh its fragrance yield» 

Sweet to the sense the glory of the field i— 

In Salem's temple, st Jsbotjlii's shroie» 

From frankincense ascends a fiime dirine ; 

Tet did my bieath more precious babns exhale^ 

And charge with fragrance each auspicious gale. 

I the rich produce of the seasons bring. 

And grace and honour 'midst my foliage spring ; 

Richer than vineyards rise my sacred bow'rs. 

Sweeter than roses bloom my vernal flew'rs ; 

fair love is mine, and hope, and gentle fear ; 

Me science haUowa, aa a parent dear. 

Come, who aspixe beneath my shade to Qve \ 
Come, all my fragrancet sU my fituta receive ! 
Sweeter than honey ate the strains I sing. 
Sweeter than honey-comb the dower I bring : 
Me, taste who will, shall feel increas'd desire, 
Who drinks shall still my flowing cups require } 
Be whose firm heart my precepts still obeys. 
With safety walks through life's perplexing maze ; 
Who cautious follows where my footsteps lead, 
Ko cares shall feel, no mgfatly terrors dread. 

Heaven's book records my ever sacred lor^ 
Beriv'd from hik, whom earth and sess adore i 
His wisdom guides this var3ring scene below, 
(Clear as in spring the streams of Tigris Bow) 
His spirit fills with hope th' expanding soul. 
Full as the waters of Euphrates roll. 
Or as, when harvest sweUs the golden grainy 
Impetuous Jordan rushes o^er the plain^m 
From him the ray of holy science shines. 
Bright aa the sun maturing Geon's vines ^-> 
Man breath'd at first unconscious of the power. 
Nor knows heaven's wipdoni at lus latest hour. 

Small was my stream, when first I roll'd along. 
In clear meanders Eden'9 vales among ; 
With freshening draughts each tender plant I fed. 
And bade each fiow'ret raise its blushing head ; 
But soon my torrent o'er its margin rose. 
Where late a brook, behold an oceaii flows ! 
for Wisdom's blessings shall o'^ earth extend, ^ 

plessings that know no bound, that know no cnd«- 
lUch selfish labour Wisdom shall disdain, 
}^j fruit» my treasures, all who seek shall gau^. 




Lyric Poetry originated from the most jocund and pleAsing alfectiont of 
the human mind^-The roost ancient species of poetry, and almost coeval 
vith human nature itself— Particularly cultivated by the Hebrews— The 
manner» introduced by David» of singing their odes highly magnificent— 
The general character of this species of poetry : its principal distinc- 
tions — ^The first character of the Ode, sweetness — What passions and af> 
fections it is intended to express: examples from the Psalms— The 
cxxxiiid Psalm in English verse. 

J. HOSE compositions which were intended for music, 
whether vocal alone, or accompanied with instruments, 
obtained among the Hebrews the appellation of Shir^ 
among the Greeks that of Ode ; and both these words 
have exactly the same power and signification. The 
Hebrew word, as well as the Greek, appears in course 
of time to have been appropriated to denote a particular 
form and species of poetry, with this diflference howev-. 
er, that it is occasionally used with greater latitude. 

The ode is in its nature sufficiently expressive of its 
origin. It was the offspring of the most vivid, and the 
most agreeable passions of the mind, of love, joy, and 
admiration. If w« consider man on his first creation, 
such as the sacred writings represent him ; in perfect 
possession of reason and speech ; neither ignorant of his 
own nor of the divine nature, but fully conscious oi the 

35S LYRIC POETRY. Lbct. S5. 

goodness, majesty, and power of God ; not an unobser* 
vant spectator of the beautiful fabric of the universe ; 
b it not probable, that on the contemplation of these ob- 
jects, his heart would glow with gratitude and love ? 
And is it not probable, that the effect of such an emo- 
tion would be an effusion of praise to his great creator, 
accompanied with a sukabkr energy and exaltation of 
voice? Such indeed were the sensations experienced 
by the author of that most beantifiit psataa, in whidi 
Ae whcrfe creation 19 invited to cdebrate the glory of 
the most high God : 

^ Prme JsROTAff from tbe heafvni ; 
« Praise hkn in the heights : 
^ Praise him all his angels ; 
<( Praise him aU his hosu/*^ 

This hjrmn is, therefore, most elegantly imitated^ and 
put into the mouth of Adam by our countryman Milton,* 
who is justly accounted the next in sublimity to those 
poetSy who wrote under the influence of diviner inspi- 
ration. Indeed wr scarcely seem to conceive rigfacfy of 
that original and perfeet state of man^ aoiess we assign 
him some of the aids of harmony and poetical express 
sion, to enable him to testify in terms; becoming the^ 
dignity of the subject, his devout afibctions towards his 
infinite Creator. 

Without carrjingoiiF researches^ however, to objects 
so remote from humaa information, if we appeal ontjr 
to the common testimony of histoiy, we shall find that, 
among every people not utterly barbarous^ the ose erf 
music and poetry in the celebration of their reKg^s» 
mysteries, has prevailed from the first periods oS so** 
ciety. Of all that sacred melody, which Plato infora»sf 
us was sometimes established by the solemn sanctioni 

« P». cririii. % Pw%fdi^Lo9tt lib. r. 


of legal audiority,* he assigns the first rank to that which 
assumed the form of addresses to the Deity, and wad 
distinguished by the appellation of Hymns. In all the 
Latin poetry, there is nothing that can boast equal an- 
tiquity with the Salian poems of Numa, composed by 
that wise and learned monarch on the first institution of 
his religious rites, and sung by the Salii, whom Dio- 
nysius styles " the chorus of the gods of war,'** with 
solemn dancing and other religious-ceremonies. There 
is scarcely any necessity to mention, that the most an* 
cient of all poems extant (those I mean of which the 
date b ascertained, and which deserve the name of po* 
ems) b the thanksgiving Ode of Moses on passing the 
Red Sea, the most perfect in its kind, and the true and 
genuine effusion of the joyful afiections. Thus the or- 
igin of the ode may be traced into that of poetry itself, 
and appears to be coeval with the commencement of re« 
li^on, or more properly the creation of man/ 

3 Ue Jjtgibmf ui. 4 AnHq, Bam, iL TO. 

< ThU conclusion appears to me neither consonant to reason nor to fsct. 
The first use of poetry was probably to preserve the remembrance of events, 
and Bot «be eiq^ressions of passion ; according^ly, the remuns of the first po- 
etic compositions appear to have been of the fonner kind. One instance 
was given in a preceding Lecture relative to the history of Lamech» and 
another may here he added concerning that of Nimrod— <* He was a mighty 
hanter (ratber warrior) before the Lord :'* wherefore it is said >— 
*• As Nimrod the mighty hunter befidfe the Lerd.** 

AgieeaUe to this idea is an observation, respecting the Arabians, of the 
late ingenious but ill-treated Dr. Brown : '* The oldest comporitUma are in 
* rhfthm^ or rude veree, and are often cited as proof t of their oubaequent hie- 
** tory,** It is not only evident that Hoses applied them in this way, but 
also that they were long prior to sny example of the existence of an ode; 
which, however, seems to have been in fact, as well as in nature, the next 
species of poetic composition. S. H. 

The rude poetiy of barbarous nations (as far as we can judge from the 
accounts of those who have visited the 9outh-sea islands and the Indian 
nations) relates in general to love and war / it is employed in cherishing, 
er in exciting the passione. Notwithstanding, therefore, the ingenuity of 


964 LYRIC POETRY. Lbct^VSt. 

The Hebrews cultivated this kind of poetry above 
every other, and therefore may well be supposed to have 
been peculiarly excellent in it. It was usual in every 
period of that nation to celebrate in songs of joy their 
gratitude to God, their Saviowr, for every fortunate 
event, and particularly for success in war. Hence the 
triumphal odes of Moses, of Deborah, of David. The 
schools of the prophets were also^ in all probability, co- 
eval with the republic ; and were certainly antecedent 
to the monarchy by many years : there, as we have a!» 
ready seen, the youth, educated in the prophetic dis- 
cipline, applied themselves, among other studies, par» 
ticularly to sacred poetry, and celebrated the praises of 
Almighty God in Lyric compositions, accompanied 
with music. Under the government of David, howev- 
er, the arts of music and poetry were in their most 
flourishing state. By htm no less than four thousand 
singers or musicians were appointed fron^ among the 
Levites,* under two hundred and eighty-eight principal 
singers, or leaders of the band,, and distributed into 
twenty-four companies, who officiated weekly by rota- 
tion in the temple,, and whose whole. business v^as to 
perform the sacred hymns ; the one part chanting or 
singing, and the other playing upon different instru- 
ments/ The chief of these were Asaph, Heman, and 
Iduthun, who also, as we may presume from the titles 
of the Psalms, were composers of hymns.* From so 
very splendid an establishment, so far surpassing every 
other appointment of the kind, some reasonable conjec- 
tures may be formed concerning the original dignity 

the above remark C^hich on Uiat account I would not omit) I am inclined 
to t]iink there is more foundation for our author's theory than Mr. tL sup»- 
pos'?s. See Etaay» HUt. and Mor, Eas. i. p. SI T. 

fl 1 Caaoir. xxiii. 5. ''I GBMir. xxr. 1— 7. 

a See also 2 Cnaow. xxiz. 30. 

Lkct. 9S. LTRIC poetry. 855 

and grandeur of the Hebrew ode. We must remember 
too, that we at present possess only some ruins as it 
were of that magnificent fabric, deprived of every orna- 
ment, except that splendour and elegance, which, not- 
withstanding the obscurity that antiquity has cast over 
them, still shine forth in the sentiments and language. 
Hence, in treating of the Hebrew ode^ we must be con* 
tent to omit entirely what relates to the sacred music, 
afnd the nature of the instruments which accompanied 
the vocal performance; though there is the utmost 
probability, that these circumstances were not without 
their influence, as far as respects the form and construc- 
tion of the different species of ode. Our information 
upon these subjects is, indeed, so very scanty, that I 
esteem it safer to be silent altogether concerning them, 
than to imitate the example of some of the learned, who, 
after saying much, have, in fact, said nothing. I shall 
therefore proceed to a brief inquiry into the general na- 
ture and properties of this species of poetry ; and aftec 
that, we ^all be better qualified to judge of those spec- 
imens which have been transmitted to us by the Hebrew 

Of all the different forms of poetical composition, 
there is none more agreeable, harmonious, elegant, di- 
versified and sublime than the ode ; and these qualities 
are displayed in the order, sentiments, imagery, diction, 
and versification. The principal beauty of an ode con- 
sists in the order and arrangement of the subject ; but 
this excellencies while it is easily felt, is difficult to be 
described, for there is this peculiarity attending it, that 
the form of the ode is by no means confined to any cer- 
tain rule for the exact and accurate distribution of the 
parts. It is lively' and unconstrained : when the subjcrct 
is sublime, it is impetuous, bold, and sometimes might 


abnofit deaerve the epithet licentious as to symmetiy 
and method : but even in this case, and uniformly in 
every other, a certain facility and ease must pervade the 
whole, which may afford at least the appearance of un« 
affected elegance, and seem to prefer nature to art. 
This appearance is best preserved by an exordium 
plain, simple, and expressive ; by a dispby and detail 
of incidents and sentiments risti^ delicately and artfully 
fipom eadi other, yet without any appearance of art ; and 
by a conclusion not pointed or epigrammatic, bot finish» 
ing by a gentle turn of the sentiment in a part where it 
is least expected, and sometimes as it were by chance»* 
Thus it b not the metre or verification which constii» 
tutes this qiecies of composition ; Cor unless all tbese 
circumstances be adverted to, it is plain that whatever 
be the merit of tlie production, it cannot with any pro» 
priety be termed an ode. Many of the odes of Horace 
arc entirely in this form, as well as almost all of those 
few which our countryman Hannes has left behind hira« 
There are two Lyric poems in the Sylvse of Pj^iiriua 
Statins,'^ of which the versification is full, sonorous, and 
flowing ; the sentiments elegant ; the diction, if not 
highly polished, yet ardent and glowing ; on the whole, 
however, the form, the grace, the express manner of the 
ode b wanting. 

The sentiments and im^;ery must be suitable to the 
nature of the subject and the composition^ which b va. 
ried and uncon&ied by strict rule or ntethod. On fi^ 
miliar subjects they will be sprightly, florid, and agreea-. 

9 I do not know any I^yric poenty to which this commendatioD is more 
appliCitble than the Arabic : I do not speak of all» but the best of them. 
I have scarcely ever observed happier condusioos to any poevis» than tft 
some ci the Arabic odes. M. 


Lbct. 95. . LYRIC POETRY. Ssf 

Ue ; on sublime topics^ sc^nm, bold, «nd vivid ; oo 
every subject» highly elegant, expressive» and diversified. 
Imagery from natural objects ia peculiarly adapted to 
the ode; historical common-places may also be admits 
ted, as well as descriptions lively but short, and (when 
it rises to any uncommon strain of sublimity) frequent 
peraonificationsb The diction must be choice and ele- 
gant, it must be also luminous, clear, and animated ; it 
must possess some elegancies peculiar to itself, and be 
'fls distinct from the common language of poetry, as the 
form and fashion of the production is from the general 
cast of poetical composition. In thb that happiness of 
expression, for which Horace is so justly celebrated, 
wholly consists. A sweetness and variety in the versifi- 
cation is indispensable, according to the nature of the 
language, or as the infinite diversity of subjects may re- 

It is much to be hmented, that in treating of the He- 
brew ode, we must of necessity be silent concerning the 
numbers or verification, which (though we are almost 
totally ignorant of its nature and principles) we have the 
utmost reason to suppose was accommodated to the ma- 
MC, and agreeable to the genius of the language.^^ In 
every other respect, as the force and elegance of the lan- 
guage, the beauty and dignity of the sentiments and im- 
agery, the different graces and excellencies of order and 
arrangement, I shall not he^tate to prefer the Hebrew 
writers to the lyric poeta of every other nation. But lest 
we should dubiously wander in so extensive a field, it 
will be proper to prescribe some kind of limit to our 

11 This may Ve presmned from a Twiety of cbcumstaiieety particukriy 
such as mi^^ht be pointed out in theexzxTth Psalm, where Jah ia sometimes 
used and sometimes Jefuwth, where either mig^ht, for any other than a me« 
trical consideratioD, have been indiscriminately used. S. H. 

S5S LYRIC POETRY. L«ct. t5. 

course, which may be conveniently done, by distribut- 
ing all the diversities of this species of compositicm into 
diree general classes. Of the first class the general char- 
acteristic will be sweetness, of the last sublimity ; and 
between these we may introduce one of a middle nature, 
as partaking of the properties of both." The qualities, 
which may be accounted common to all the three classes» 
are variety and elegance. 

o It will not be unseasonable in this place» perhaps, to oflTcr a few re- 
soarks on the peculiar character of the lyric poetry of David. For some 
commentators, by too indiscriminately praising it, have paid no regard to 
its peculiar characteristics i and thus from so intenipente zeal, the poet 
has even lost a part of that commendation which was justly due to him. 

For my part, judging rather by my taste and feelings, thsn by any rulea 
of art, I think David seems to excel in this first species of ode, the chanc« 
teristic of which is sweetness. He is unequalled when he describes the 
objects of nature, the fields, the woods, the fountains ; and of his other 
odea those are most excellent, which he composed in his exiles : nor is this 
any thing extraordinary ; he had then more lebure for the cultivation of 
poeti>', be experienced more vivid sensations than at otht» times, and he 
treated of those objects which, being immediately before his eyes, brought 
back to his mind tlie recollection of his youth, and inspired his imaginatiott 
with fresh vigour. It is however remarkable, that those which he compos- 
ed in his old age, when he fled from Absalom, not only equal the fruits of 
his early years, but even surpass them in fire and spirit : if, as I am fully 
persuaded, the xxiiid and xltid Psalms were produced during that exile. 

On the other hand, those Psalms interest me less, in which the more vio- 
lent afi'ections prevail, whether of sorrow or indignation, not even except- 
ing such as imprecate curses on his enemies. There is in these much of 
the terrific ; but in reading them, the heart is not affected, the passions are 
not vehemently excited. These odes do not possess that general solemnity 
and awful sublimity which characterize the book of Job, a composition of 
a different class, but possessing exquisite force in moving the passions. 
Neither are loftiness of diction, or boldness m describing objects of terror, 
to be accounted amongst the excellencies of David ; for in these respects 
he not only yields, in my opinion, to Job, but also to Moses. I do not ex- 
cept the xviiith Psalm, in the first verses of whi<^ I observe more of art 
and design, than of real horror and sublimity : in what foUows, the warmth 
of the composition subsides, and it becomes more tesiperate than might be 
expected from sucli an exordium. The Mosaic Psalms I confess please 
roe more in this respect, snd therefore I prefer the xxixth to that in quesr 
tion. M. 


Although the lyric poetry of the Hebrews b always 
occupied upon serious subjects, nor ever descends to 
that levity which is admitted into that of other nations, 
the character of sweetness is by no means inconsistent 
with it. The sweetness of the Hebrew ode consists in 
the gende and tender passions which it excites ; in the 
gay and florid imagery, and in the chaste and unostenta- 
tious diction which it employs. The passions which it 
generally affects are those of love, tenderness, hope, 
cheerfulness, and pensive sorrow. In the sixty-third 
Fsalm the royal prophet, supposed to be then an exile in 
the wilderness, expresses most elegantly the sentiments 
of tenderness and love. The voice of grief and com- 
plaint is tempered with the consolations of hope in the 
eightieth Psalm : and the ninety-second consists wholly 
of joy, which is not the less sincere, because it is not 
excessive. The sweetness of all these in composition, 
sentiment, diction, and arrangement, has never been 
equalled by the finest productions of all the heathen 
Muses and Graces united. Though none of the above 
are deficient in imagery, I must confess I have never 
met with any image so truly pleasing and delightful as 
the following description of the Deity in the characte^ 
of a shepherd : 

M The Lord is my shepherd» I shall not want : 
<< In tender grass he giveth me to lie down ; 
<< He guideth me to streams that gently flow/^^ 

19 PsAUf xxiii. 1. Tbia Psalm is deserving of sU the commeadAtioii 
which our author has bestowed upon it. If I am not mistaken, it was com* 
posed by David, when he was expelled from the holy city and temple : foi^ 
in the 6th verse he hopes for a return to the house of God. Since of sU 
the divine mercies he particularly commemorates this, that in time of ne* 
cessity he wants for nothing, and is even received to a banquet in the sight 
of his enemies, 1 conceive it to relate to that time, wlien flying from the 
contest with his disobedient son, he pitched his camp beyond Jordan, and 
was in danger of seeing his little army perish for want of provision in thai 
tmcultivatcd region^ or of being deserted by sU his friends. Afisirs,howv 


How graceful and animated is that rich and flourishing 
picture of nature, which b exhibited in the sixty-fifth 

ever, turned out quite different : for what he could not foresee or hope, the 
Almighty performed for him. The veteran loldierB flowed in to him from 
every qiurter« and hia whole camp was so liberally supported by the good 
and opulent ciUcena, that in this very situation he was enabled to coUect 
an army and risk the event of a battle. See 2 Saw. xvix. 36—39. 

He therefore compares himself to a sheep, and the Almighty to a ahqp* 
herd e a very abrioos figvret and whidi every day oecarred to hia aight 
during his stay in those desert parU. The sheep» tiroid, defeoeeleaa, ex* 
posed to all the beasts of prey, and possessed ef little knowledge or power 
of ibresaeing or avoiding danger, are indeAited for life, safety, and every 
thing'* to Hie care of the shepherd. We most remember also, that the ex- 
iled king bad formerly himself been a shepherd. The recollection therefore 
of his past life breaks in upon bis mind. ** Jbbovih,'* say he, ** ia my 
«< shepherd, I shall want nothing.** It b hia province to provide for my ex- 
istence, and to procure fer me those blessings which I am imable to dbtaia 
for myself. The tender herb Cdaaka, which is properly the vir^ lierb,er 
that which has not budded into seed or blossom) is more gratafiil to aheep 
than that which is seeded Cgne—bJ Gair. i. 10, 11. In meadows, thetefofc^ 
covered with the green and tender grass, he supposes Jsiovah to cauae him 
to rest under his care. He was expelled to Lebanon, from the tops of which 
eataracta of melted snow are constantly falling : these are dangerous for 
sheep to approach, nor is the water sufficiently wholesome. He therelbie 
adds, that he ia led to waters gently flowing, where the clear atream mean- 
dera through the fertile plain. The scene which was before hia ey» con« 
alated of rude hills snd valleys, deep, gloomy, dark, and horrid, the haunts 
only of the fiercest animals. I. would here remai-k, that the word irvAv, 
which according to the Masoretic punctuation b read TiUmunxt^ and 
translated the •haduwt of deaths would be better read TxiUmott and trans- 
lated simply shades, *or the valley of the thadei, and I am led to thia coo- 
elusion by comparing it with the Arabic. There is no safety for the sheep 
in these valleys but in the care of the shepherd. You aie therefore piesent- 
ed with a great variety of contrasted imagery in thb Psalm ; on the one 
hand, the open pastures, and the flowing rivulets, the recollection of which 
never faib to delight ; and on the other hand, the cheerless and gloomy 
valleys, which inspire the reader with fresh horror. Descending fi^m fig- 
urative to plain language, he next celebrates the bounty of God in prepar- 
ing him a banquet in the face of hb enemies ; and therefore regales himaelf 
with the delicious hope, that he shall once more be restored to hb sacted 
temple. M. 

Mr. Tati (in our con^mon version of the Psalms) has been remarkabfy 
foKunate in his paraphrase of the first verses of this Psalm ; so much in* 
deed, that for simplicity, and a close adherence to the spirit of the origins^ 
I cannot help preferring it to the celebrated translation of Mr. Addiaon : 

Ltct. 35. LYRIC POETRT. M% 

Psalm. When the Prophet, with a fertilitjr of expre»»^ 
sbn correspondent to the subject^ praises the beneficence 
of the Deity in watering the earth and making it fruitfuL 
On a sublime subject also, but still one of the gay and 
^^;reeable kind, I mean the inauguration of Solomon, 
which is celebrated in the seventy-second Psabn, there 
is such variety and beauty of imagery, such a splendour 
of diction, such elegance in the composition, that I be- 
tieve it will be impos^ble in the whole compass of liter* 
ature, sacred or profane, to find such an union of sub* 
limity with sweetness and grace. 

These few select examples of the elegant and beauti- 
ful in lyric composition, I have pointed out for your 
more attentive consideration ; and I am of opinion, that 
«n all the treasures of the Muses you will seek in vain 
far models more perfect. I will add one other sped* 
men, which, if I am not mistaken, is expressive of the 
true lyric form and character; and compresses in a 
small compass all the merits and elegance incidental to 
that species of compositiofi. It is, if I may be allowed 
to use the expression of a very polite writer» 

A drop from Helicon, a flower 

Culi'd from tbe muse's favourite bower.^ 

'* The Lord himself, the mighty Lord, 

«* Vouchsafes to be my g^ide ; 
** The shepherd, by whose constant cuat 

** My wants are all supplied» 
* In tender grass he makes me feed, 

** And genUy there repose ; 
'' And leads me to cool shades» and whcft 
^ Refreshing water flows." 
The fifteenth Psalm is also admirably translated by the same haftd : the last 
terse in particular is beantilul and sublime : though the classical reader 
will see that the translater had his eye on the ** Si fractus illabatur oriiis^ 
ef Horace. T. 
M Caluxacs. Hymn, in Apdil. y. l^ 


3^9 LYttTC POETttt> Lmt. U. 

The Palmist contemplating the hannoiiy which per« 
vaded the solemn assembly of the people, at the celebnk 
tion of one of their festivals, expresses himself, nearlj 
as follows : 

<< Hbw blest the si^tt the J07 how sweety 
« When brothers jom'd with brditlers meal 

^ In bandB of mu«ael love I 
^ LcM ftwect Ibe liquid fragrance, shed 

tB ThH FMlm is one of Hie fifteen, wbieh tft entitled, 6dit •/ fke A^ 
€enH9n9 : that is, which were ■Qn||^ when the people etmt up either to wor* 
thip in Jeresalem at the annual ftstivals, or perhaps from the Babjlenish 
captivity. The return is certainly called ** the tuctiuhn or coming up from 
ftabylon,^ fixR. vii. 9. And the old Sieiao translator, ^o explains liie 
subjects of the psalms by apposite titles, lefe^S'to this eircumstaace al^ 
most all the psalms that bear this inscription ; some of them indeed with- 
out sufficient foundation ; but many of them manifestly hare rdaticm to iC^ 
Theodore\ indiacrlmiliattly ezplsfins them all as vdatiiig to the BdbylowA 
captivity ; and thus illustrates the title : ** Odes of the Ascenabos : The» 
odotion, Songs of the Ascensions TBut Symmachus and Aquila, on the re> 
turtfs. It is etrident that the oomin|^ up, and the aseent rekte to the le- 
tian of the people fix» the' Babykmish captivity." Thiob» in Ps. oxs. 
But we must not omit remarking* also, that both in the Old and New-Tes* 
tament there is scarcely a phrase more common than *< to gb up to Jerusa* 
lem, to go up %> the feast,*' Itc. (See Joeir, vii. 8^) And observe above tl^ 
rest, Pb. cxxii. which can scarcely be applied to any thing but the celebra^ 
tion of some festival. What the Jews say about the steps tmendinj to the 
temple is unworthy the attention of any person of conunon sense. In the 
last period of this psalm, the particle cnr (^thomj is neceasarily to be re- 
ferred to the word rnr Ctxion gj and there is nothing else to which it can 
be referred. Besides, to what, except to Sinn, can the promises Beraekak 
and Chajiu relate ? (See particularly Ps. cxxxii. 13 and 15.) These words 
are indeed ambiguous, so that they may refer either to temporal or eternal 
happiness, or to both alike. {Compare Bsirr. xxviiL 3, Skc. with Ps. xxir. 
5, and Pkot. xxvii. 37, with Dav. xxii. 2.) And in this place, according 
to the nature of the mystical allegory, they mar be interpreted in either 
sense. If these remarks be true, the critics have tiJcen a g^reat deal of 
pains about nothing. There is no occaaion ^fer emeodatton. U the ellipsis 
be only supplied by the word m*iai (as the drw) of aknply by the particle 
t« or ce f4md or at J before the word detcemSnf (or which descuids) the 
construction witl be complete. In the same manner Hezekiah says in Isaiab : 
'* As a swallow, (and as) a crane, so I chattered." 

Ch^. xxxriiL 14 JbUh9i^9 AUr. 


» On Aaron's consecrated headi 

** Ran trickling from above : 
** And reach*d his l>eard} and reach'd his rest: 
tt x^ess Hweet the dews on Hermon's breast, 

^ Or Sion's hill descend : 
« That hill has God with blessbgs crown'd, ^ 
<< There promised grace that knows no buiind» 

M And af« that knows no end."'* 

M On a former occasion I thoug^ht it necessary to troul>le the reader 
with an imitation of Buduman't version of Uus beaatifiil psoira. I have 
since endcMroored to complete it. If the measure should seem in the eyes 
of some to bear too neat a resemblance to that of their old acquaintance 
Stembold, I have only to urge» that its simplicity seems to be more suita* 
bk to the sttlyect» than that which Mr. Merrick has adopted Notwith- 
atanding our author's ingenious deience of his own (which is also Mr. 
Merrick's) interpretation of the last verse, I am well convinced that Bucha* 
nsn'a versiM i* right, and tiiat ttte particle fhom in the last verse relates to 
the^peraonsp imd not to the places indeed»^not only a great part of the gov 
«ral utility, but even the beauty of this ode is lost, by interpreting it oth- . 
erwise. The following I submit with all htmiility to the judgement of the 
Sfader» mex^ that I nu^y mot leave the former stanzas imperfect : 

P94]uf txtxm. 
Sweet it the Io«e, th^t mutual giowi 

Within each brother's breast ; 
And binds in gentlest bonds each heart. 

All blessing, and all blest : 
6weet as the odorous balsam povr'd 

On Aaron's sacred head. 
Which o'er his beard, and down his vest, 

A breathing fragrance shed. 
Like morning dews on Sion's mount 

That spread their silver rays ; 
And deck with gfema the verdant pomp. 

Which Hennon's top db^ys. 
To such the Lord of life and love 

His blessing shall extend : 
On earth a life of joy and peace. 

And lilb that ne'er shall end. T. 



The lyric poetry of the intermediate or mixed style consists of an nnioa 
of sweetness snd sublimity*— The ninety-first and eighty-lirst Ptsalms ex- 
plained and critically ilhistrated— «Of the digressions of the Hebrew po-, 
etSy also of Pindar ; not upon the same principle— A criticism upon tlio 
serentyvaerenth Psalro— The nineteenth Psalm in English vcne. 

Uavikg dismissed the subject of the more beauuful 
species of ode, in order to proceed by proper stages to 
what I deem the summit of excellenqe and sublimity ia 
the lyric poetry of the Hebrews, it will be necessary to. 
rest a while, and to bestow some little attention tipoa 
that middle style of composition, to which I adverted as 
ponstituting one of the grand divisions of this order of 
poems, lilts again may be considered as admitting of 
a subdivision, as including both those Ijrric compositions, 
in which sweetness and sublimity are so uniformly blend- 
ed, that every part of the poem may be said to partake 
equally of both ; and those, in which these qualities sep* 
arately occur in such a manner, that the complexion of 
the poem is altogether changeable and diversified. Of 
each species I shall endeavour to produce an example 
or two* 

The subject of the ninety-first Psalm is the security» 
the success, and the rewards of piety. The exordium 
exhibits the pious man placing all his dependence upoi^ 
Almighty God : 

^ He that dwelleth in the «ecret place of the Most High ; 

LicT. 36. LYRIC POETRY. 365 

M Who lodgeth under the shadow of the Omnipotent ; 

f< Who saitb to Jehovah» thou art mj hope and mj fortress ! 

<< Mj God» in whom I trust :*'— i 

And immediately leaving the sentence unfinished, he 
apostrophizes to the same person, whom he had been 
describing : 

^ He indeed shall deliyer thee 

<^ From the snare of the fowler, from tbe destroying^ pestilence/' 

The imagery that follows is beautiful and diversified, 
and at the same time uncommonly solemn and sublime t 

I This besutiAil exordium lus l^n uioit egregiousljr mistaken by the 
Bfasorttes, «id by msny commentstori and tranalators : whose errors will 
be most effectually demonstrated, by remoring the difficulties of which 
theycomplam. Thus the ^on is in Benom as well as nv^; the future pibm 
also has the force of a participle, by the ellipsis of nvM i of which, to go no 
further, we bare tl|ree examples in this very Psalm, ver. 5 and 6 \ thus also 
Symmachus, who has translated the first verse in this ifuuuier ; 
'< He dwelling under the canopy of the Bfost High, 
** liOdging under the shadow of the Mighty One.^ 
Whence it is plam, that he did not take the verb "idn as if it were the first 
person of the fiitmre, as the Masorites haye done ; whence principally the 
error has orig^inated : nor indeed has he compacted into one nugatory proposi- 
tion the two members of the first verse, which arefparallel and synonymous 
Then in rer. 3 an ^lostrophe vciy easy and distinct is made to the person 
to whom the preceding expressions rdate : where it is also to be remarked» * 
that the particle "O is not causal but affirmative, indeed or in fact^ as in 
Ps. Ixxvii 13» 1 Sax. xiv. 39, and 44, and in many other parts of Scripture. 
But to demonstrate more clearly this nuttter by example, the whole form 
and nature of this exordium is perfectly the same with that of Ps. cxxriii. 
which hss never been considered as involving any obscurity. 
** Blessed is every man who feareth Jkhovas, 
'* And who walketh in his paths : 
** Thou, indeed, ^alt eat the labour of thy hands : 
^ O happy art thou) aiid well ahail it be with thee.**^ 
But if, after all, any reader should not be satisfied with the apostrophe 
formed ironi the abrupt sentence, he may take the verb ion for the third 
person preterite, as the Sts. does. Thus the first verse wdl be the sub- 
ject, and the second the predicate of the proposition. To this explication 
I am not averse, and it is certainly much better than that which is now 
generally received. But even in this manner, from the condensing of two 
iwrses into one sentence, there will arise a languor in the sentiment, and 
they will ibm almost one and the same proposition. «I^Mor^t A*a/0^ 


« With his feathers will he cover thee, 

^ And under his wbgs shall thou find protection : 

<« His truth shall be thy shield and thy defencci. 

«( Thou shalt not fear from the terror by night } 

^ From the arrow that flieth by day ; 

(« From the pestilence that walketh in darkness ;^ 

« From the destruction that wasteth at noon. 

«• A thousand shall fell at thy side ; 

«« And ten tbousami at thy right hand : 

M To thee it shall not approach.*' 

How exoeUent also are the succeeding images» the guard 
of angels, the treading under foot the fiercest and most 
formidable animals : and afterwards, that sudden but 
easy and elegant change of the persons?' 

a See a note on the History of the Cal^h VatbdE, p. 34^, and 940- T.. 
s I appc^end there is no chsage of person tiU the tith Ttnei te the 
9th Terse I tske to be of qoHie a diffeftnt natuie. 

** For thou, JsHoriB» wt my hope : 

•• Very high hsst thou placed thy reiuge.** 
Hiere are many mterpretationa of this period» which are diftivntlf s|>» 
prored by different persons. One of these is, that the Arst mtinber eon- 
sists of an address from the believer to God, and the second of a rep^ 
from the prophet to the belieyer : which is extremely harsh and improb»» 
hie, although the phun and obrious eonstruction of the passage frvows 
this opinion. Others, among which are the old UwnsUtors, iuppose, thaC 
in the second line there is no change of persons at all, but that Jmotab is 
■till spoken of: 

** Who hast placed thy dwelling on high :* 
which is altogether nothing. Others, in fine, to avoid these absurdities, 
have fallen into still greater ; for they give quite a new torn to the sen* 
tence» altering the construction in this manner : 

** For thou, JcHovAH, who art my hope^ 

*' Hast placed thy refuge very high :** 
But this I think will scarcely be endured by * good ear, which is ever so 
little accustomed to the Hebrew idiom. Tssooo»st formerly made a dif» 
frrent attempt upon the passage : 

" There is wanting to the conatroetkm of the sentciiQe, Taou bast sa», 
** thmi Lord art my hope. This is the usual idiom of the prophetic writ- 
** ings, and especiaUy of the Psalms." 

I have very little doubt that this is the true sense of the passage. I| 
however, thU ellipsis be unplessing to the leader (and I confiess it is very 


« Becmme he hath loted me, thereforo will I deliver hia : 
M I will exalt hiiDi for he hath known my name." 

If any reader wiU carefully weigh and conaider the iia« 
ture and dignity of this imagery, having due respect at 
the aame time to the principles of the mystical allegory, 
I am persuaded he will agree with me, that something 
of a niystical design is concealed under the literal mean- 
ing of this Psalm. Without a question, the pious per* 
son,^ the king, or high-priest perhaps, who in the literal 
sense is the principal character of the poem, is meant 
in reality to represent some greater and sublimer per« 

hanh) we must, I believe, at Utt hare lecourie to the correcti(»i of biahop 
Hai«k one of the ableat of critica ; who thinka, that for rrrm we should Kad 
^*iON. It ia indeed rather a bold conjecture, yet not improbable» if we 
consider the parallel places, Ps. xrL 3, (where TTvan seems to hare been 
the reading followed by all the old translators, except the Chal. ** and 
«* also occurs in three MSS?* K.) Ps. zxzl 15, cxl. 7, cxlit. 6. But what 
if we read lOTlD, with only the change of a single letter ? " For thee (that 
'* is, as t9 thee J Jbbotah is thy hope.^ This correction was suggestcxl to 
me by the ingenious Mr. Mxbhicx, who has lately published a Tbaxsia- 
nov or TBI Psalms ihto Ebslisb vbbsb ; a work of great erudition, of 
infinite taate and elegance, and replete with all the choicest beauties of 
poetry. Auihor't JVWe. 

For thou, JiHeTAO, sat ray hepe i 

Very high haat thou placed thy hahttatkM. 
t believe there is no occasion ja this instance to practise on the original. 
The imagery here remotdy alluded to» ia placed in a fuller point of view 
by Habakkuk, chap. ii. ver. 9. 

*> Woe unto hnn who coveteth an evil oovetouaneaa lor his house ; 

** That he may set his nest on high i 

•* That he may be delivered from the power of eviL*' 

And Obadiah, chap. L ver. 3. 

*« He that dweUeth in the clifls of the rock, the height of his habitation, 

** Hath said in his heart. Who shall bring me down to the ground ? 

** Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, 

** And though thou set thy nest among the stars, 

** Thence will 1 bring thee down» saith Jboovab.'* S. H. 

# The LXX. Cbaiji. Vuio. Syb. Abab. JEtbiop. prefix the name of David 
to this Psalm. The Jews suppose it to relate to the Messiah. See also 
Matt. iv. 6, Lvut iv. 10, 11. «AMAAsr^t Aote» 

368 LTRTC FOETRT. Lsct. 26. 

sonage. But leaving this part of the subject to the 
investigation of the divine, I submit it to any critic of 
true taste and discernment, whether the thifd ode of 
the fourth book of Horace (the beauty of wluch has 
been justly celebrated, and which bears a great resem- 
blance to that under our consideration) is not greatly 
excelled by the sacred poet, as well in grace and ele- 
gance, as in force and dignity/ 

f At a very early period of life I amufed loytdf with trBDilating aoiiie of 
the Odes of Horace into English Terse. The ode alladed to in the tezi 
wu one of those which I attempted. I subjoin my tranilaUon on this oe- 
casion, merely because I thiiik it gives the sense of the original more com- 
pletely than Francis's version, and the English reader will probably wiak 
to see the ode which is brought into comparison with that of the Pialntist. 

He, on whose early natal hour 

Thou, queen of verse ! hast sweeUy smil*d^ 
Breath'd all thy fascinating power. 

And mark'd him for thy favourite child :• 

He emulates no victor's place. 
Nor mixes in the Isthmian games ; 

Nor, in the srduous chariot race, 
Th' Achaian trophies anxious claims. 

He ne*er, adom*d with conquering bi^. 
And the proud pomp of baneful war. 

Shall catch the vagrsnt voice of praise. 
While captive kings surround his car : 

But where the fertile Tiber glides. 
To secret shades shall oft retire i 

And there shall charm the l]st*ning tides^ 
And tune the soft JEolian lyxe. 

Thy noblest sons, imperial Rome ! 

Assign to me the laureate crown; 
And Envy now abash'd snd dumb. 

Nor dares to speak, nor dares to frown. 

O goddess of the vocal shell ! 

Whose power can sway both esrth and sea. 
Can the mute fishes teach t' eicel 

The dying cygnef » melody : 


The eighty.first Psalm will serv^as another example 
upon this occasion, being pervaded by an exquisite 
union of sublimity and sweetness. It is an ode com*- 
posed for the feast of Trumpets in the ^rst new 
moon of the civil year.^ The exordium contains an 
exhortation to celebrate the praises of the Almighty 
with music and song, and (as is frequent in these pro- 
ductions of the Hebrews) is replete with animation and 
joy even to exultation : 

« Sing unto God our strength ; 

^ A song of triumph to the God ot Jacob/' 

The different instruments of music are named, as is 
common in the lyric compositions of all other nations : 

^ Take the psaltery, bring hither the timbre]) 
<< The pleasant harp, with the lute." 

The trumpet is particularly alluded to, because the soU 
emn use of it on their great festivals was prescribed by 
the Mosaic law. The commemoration of the giving 
of the law, associated with the sound of the trumpet 
(which was the signal of liberty)^ introduces, in a man- 
ner spontaneously, the miseries of the Egyptian bon- 
dage, the recovery of their freedom, and the communi* 
cation with God upon mount Sinai (the awfulness of ^ 
which is expressed in a very few words^ '' the secret 
place of thunder*') and finally the contention with their 
Creator at the waters of Meribah. The mention of 
Meribah introduces another idea, namely, the ingrati- 
tude and contumacy of the Israelites, who appear to 
have been ever unmindful of the favours and indulgence 

To thee« sweet muse ! I owe this fame» 
That e'er I pleas'd the gift is thine ; 
That, as I pass, fond crowds exclaim — 
** The Roman bard ! the man divine !*• T. 
• See BsxiAVD. JtiHf, Heh, iv. 7. 
V See JLxT. zxiii^ 24^ Kvx. ixix« 1, sod Lit. xzt. 9« 10. 


Sto tTRIC POETRY. L»CY. 4«: 

of their Beavenly Benefactor. The remainder of the 
ode, therefore, contains an affectionate expostulation oT 
God wfth his people, a confirmation of his former prom- 
ises, and a ten(kr complaint, that his favourable intentions 
towards them have been so long prevented by their dis- 
obedience. Thus the object and end of this poem ap- 
pears to b^ an exhortation to obedience from the coti- 
^ideration of the paternal love, the beneficence, and the 
promises of the Deity ;^ and we have seed with ho# 
much art, elegance, variety, and ingenuity, tfeiis is ac- . 
complished. In order to complete the beauty of this 
Composition, the conclusion is replete with all the graces 
of sentiment,, imagery, and diction. The sudden and 
frequent change of persons is remarkable ; but it is by 
no means harsh or obscure. Some allowance is how- 
ever to be made for the Hebrew idiom, as well as for 
the state of the author's mind r he is not under the in- 
jRuence of an but of nature ; through the impetuosity 
of passion, therefore, his transitions are frequent from 
figure and allusion to plain language, and back agaitt 
with a kind of desultory inconstancy. 

In the last Lecture I treated in general of the dispo- 
sition and arrangement of lyric composition, and en- 
deavoured, it\ some degree, to define its usual sydime- 
try and outline. But Oft abstruse and difficult subjects^ 
example is of more avail than the utmost accuracy of 
description. To him, therefore, who wishes to form a 
correct idea of this kind of poem, I will venture to rec- 
ommend the Psalm which we have just examined ; not 
doubting, that if he can make himstlf master of its gen- 
eral character, genius, and arrangement, he will feel per- 
fectly satisfied concerning the nature and form' of a per- 
fect ode. 

In both these specimensi the style and cadence of the 

t.KCT. 51$. I^TIUC POETUT 9ri 

whole poem flows in one equal and wiiform tenoor; 
jbut there are others, which are more qh&ngeable and 
diversified» more unequal both «n style and sentiment. 
The^e» although they oocasionalijr incline to tlie char* 
acter of sweetness» and occasionally to that of sublimi- 
ty, may nevertheless (though opon a different principle) 
he properly classed among the odes of this intermediate 
s^le* Such are those which» from a mild and gende 
exordium» rise gradually to subtinuty^ t>oth in the sub- 
ject and sentiments ; such also are chose» which com- 
mence in a mournful strain» and iconclude with exulta- 
tion and triumph. Such» in fine» are all those in which 
the style or matter is in any respect diversified and un- 
^uaL This inequality of style ts perfectly consistent 
with the nature of lyric composition ; for variety is one 
of the greatest oraaoi^nts, if not essentials» of the ode. 
Since» therefore» for the sake of variety» lyric writers in 
.particular are indulged in the liberty of frequent digres- 
sions ; that boldness in thus diverging from the sub« 
ject is not only excusable» but on many occasions is 
really worthy of commendation. Possibly a brief in- 
quiry into the nature of those liberties which the He« 
brew poets have allowed themselves in this respect» or 
jrather into the general method and principles of their 
lyric compotttions» will not be thought altogether un- 
seasonable in this place. 

By far the greater part of the lyric poetry of the He- 
brews» is occupied wholly in the celebration of the 
power and goodness of Almighty God» in extolling his 
kindness and beneficence to his chosen people» and in 
imploring his assistance and favour in time of adversity: 
in other words» the usual subjects of these odes are so 
connected with eveiy part of the Sacred History» as .to 
«fiord ample scope for those digressions which are most 


pleasing, and most congenial tothisspeciesofcompositioD. 
Thus, whcthefr the theme be gay or mournful ; wheth- 
er the events which they celebrate be prosperous or ad- 
verse ; whether they return thanks to God their deliv- 
erer for assistance in trouble, or with the humility of 
suppliants acknowledge the justice of the divine correc- 
tion ; the memory of former times spontaneously occurs, 
sind a variety of incidents and circumstances, of times, 
of seasons, of countries, of nations, all the miracles in 
Egypt, in the wilderness, in Judea, are presented to 
their recollection : and all these so naturally connect 
with the subject, that whatever of ornament is dedaoed 
from them, so fkr from appearing foreign to it, seems 
rather an essential part of the principal matter. It 
may, therefore, be with modesty asserted of the Hebrew 
ode, that from the nature of the subjects, which it uso- 
ally embraces, it is possessed of so easy an access to some 
of the most elegant sources of poetical imagery, and has 
consequently so many opportunities for agreeable di- 
grcbsion ; that with unbounded freedom and uncommon 
variety, are united the most perfect order, and the 
most pleasing uniformity. 

The happy boldness of Pindar in his Agressions is 
deservedly celebrated ; but as he was very difierendj 
situated from those poets, who are at present under our 
consideration, so the nature of his subject, and the prin- 
ciples of his composition, are altogether dtfierent from 
theirs ; and a different reason is to be assigned for the 
libertits which he assumed in his lyric productions. 
We are in no want of materials to enable us to form a 
perfect judgement of the genius of Pindar ; there arc 
about forty of his odes remaining, and the subject of 
them all is exactly similar. They are all composed in 
celebration of some victorious chief, whose praise is, 


heightened and iOustrated by the circumstances of his 
birth, ancestry, manners, or country. Since, therefore, 
this poet was professedly the herald of the Olympic con* 
querors, unless he had determined to assume great lib- 
erty in treating of those topics, and even on some occa- 
sions to have recourse to topics very foreign to the prin* 
cipal subject, his poems must have been little bett^than 
a stale and disgusting repetition. His apology, therefore, 
is necessity, and on this ground he has obtained not only 
pardcm but commendation ; and many things, which in 
another poet could neither be defended nor probably en* 
dured, in Pindar have been approved and extolled. Lest 
I should seem to assert rashly on this occasion, I will 
explain myself by an example. The third of the Pyth- 
ian odes is inscribed to Hiero, at that time labouring un- 
der a grievous and chronical disease. The poet taking 
advantage of the opportunity to impart a degree of va- 
riety to his poem, introduces it with a solemn address, 
invoking the medical aid oi Chiron or ^sculapius, if it 
be possible for them to revisit the earth. But surely, on 
such an occasion, it would be excusable in no writer 
but Pindar to expend more than one hundred verses, that 
is, above half the poem, on the history of ^sculapius, 
Nor indeed could we easily pardon it in Pindar himself, 
but from the consideration that he hdid already written 
an ode (the fourth) in* praise of the same Hiero, upon a 
victory obtained in the Olympic games. But we are 
willing to excuse the boldness of a poet, who^ even with 
a degree of rash impetuosity, escapes from such narrow 
limits into a more spacious field. It is, therefore no dis- 
commendation of the Hebrew poets to say, that in tbisi 
respect they are materially different from Pindar ; nor 
does it detract from the merit of Pindar to assert, that,, 
from the more favourable circumstances of the Hci 
t>rews, their lyric poetry is more genuine and perfect. 


The sevent^^seveotb Psalm will aflbrd some iUustnu 
tion of what has been remarked concerning the nature 
Itnd economy of the Hebrew ode. This Psalm is com* 
posed in what I call the intermediate style» and is of that 
diversified and unequal kind which ascends from a cool 
$md temperate exordium to a high degree of sublimity. 
The prophet, oppressed with a heavy weight of affile» 
tion, di^lays the extreme dejection and perturbation of 
his soul, and most elegandy and pathetically describes 
the conflicts and internal contests to which he ifi sub» 
jrcted, before he is enabled to rise from the depths of 
woe to any degree of hope or confidence. In the char- 
acter of a suppliant he first pours forth his earnest pray- 
ers to the God of his hope : 

«« I lifted up my voice unto God and cried ; 

^ I lifted up toy Toice unto God, tbat be should hear me." 

But even prayers afford him no sufficient oonsolation. 
He next endeavours to mitigate his sorrow by the re« 
membrance of former times i but this, on the contrary, 
only seems to exaggerate his su&rings, by the com* 
parison of his present adversity with his former happL* 
ness, and extorts from him the following pathetic ex« 
postulation : 

<• Will the Lord reject me for ever ? 

** And wUl be reconciled no more i 

*« It his mercjr eternallf ceaied ; 

*^ Doih his promise fail from generation to geoeratioii ? 

M HatU God forgotten to be merciful ? 

^ Or hath he in anger shut up his pity i" 

Again» recollecting the nature of the divine dispensations 
in chastising man» ** the change of the right*hand of the 
** Most High ;" in other words» the diffi:rent methods 
by which the Almighty seeks the salvation of his peo* 
pie, appearing frequently to frown upon and persecute 

lAcT. »i LYRIC POETRY. ifi 

tfiose ^ in i^hom he ddighteth :*' reconsideiing alfio the 
vast series of mercies which he had bestowed upon his 
diosen people ; the miracles which he had wrought in 
Aeir bvour, in a word, die goodness, the holiness, the 
power of the great Ruler of the universe ; with all th^ 
ardour of gratitude and affection, he bursts forth into a 
strain of praise and exultation. In this passage we are 
at a loss which to admire most, the ease and grace with 
which the digression b made, the choice of the incidents, 
the magnificence of the imagery, or the force and ele- 
gance of the diction. 

M Thy way, O God, is in holiness ; 
<< What God is groat as our God ? 
^ Thou art the God that doest wonders ; 
« Thou hast made known thy strength among the nations : 
** With thy arm hast thou redeemed thy people, 
<< The sons of Jacob and Joseph. 
^ The waters saw thee, O God ! 
^ The waters saw tbee, and trembled ; 
, M The depths also were troubled. 
^ The clouds overflowed with water i 
M The skies sent forth thunder ; 
« Thine arrows also went abroad ; 
« The voice of thy thunder was in the atmosphoM ; 
^ Thy lightnings enlightened the world, 
« The earth trembled, and was disturbed/' 

The other example, to which I shall refer you on this 
occasion, is composed upon quite a di&rent plan ;- for 
it declines gradually from an exordium uncommonly 
splendid and sublime, to a gentler and more moderate 
strain, to the softest expressions of piety and devotion. 
The whde composition abounds with great variety of 
both sentiment and imagery. You will, from these, 
circumstances, almost conjecture that I am alluding to 
tiie nineteenth Psalm. The glory of God is demon- 
strated in his vrorks both of nature and providence. 



The third species of the Hebrew Ode, the characteristic of which is sub- 
limity—This sublimity results from three sources— From the general fisnn 
and arrangem^t of the poem exemplified in the 1th and xxiTth Psalm— 
From the greatness of Uie sentiments and the force of the languag&^ 
The Ode of Moses on passing the Red Sea explained and illustrated^ 
The brevity of the Hebrew style— The xxixth Psalm in English Terse. 

iSuBLiMiTY was mentioned as the characteristic of a 
third species of the Hebrew ode. But having already 
treated very copiously of the sublime in general, both 
as the effect of sentiment and expression, our present 
investigation must be confined to that which is pecu- 
liar to this species of poetry. Now the sublimity of 
lyric compositions results either from the plan, the or- 
der and arrangement of the poem ; or from those com- 
mon sources which I formerly specified, the sentiments 
and the style ; or, in some cases, from an union of all, 
when an aggregate perfection is produced firom the beau- 
ty of the arrangement, the dignity of the sentiments, and 
Uie splendour of the diction. I shall endeavour to ex- 
hibit a few examples in each kind ; and indeed this sub- 
ject is every way deserving our attention, since it relates 
to what may be esteemed the perfection of the Hebrew 
poetry, for its chief commendation is sublimity, and its 
sublimest species is the ode. 

Let us therefore consider in the first place what dc« 
gree of sublimity the mere form and disposition of a 

LmcT. 27. LYRIC POETRY. 379 

lyric poem can impart to a subject not in itself sublime. 
We have an example of this in the fiftieth Psalm ; the 
subject of which is of the didactic kind, and belongs to 
the moral part of theology. It is at first serious and 
practical, with very litde of sublimity or splendour : it 
sets forth, that the divine favour is not to be conciliated 
by sacrifices, or by any of the external rites and services 
of religion, but rather by sincere piety, and by the de- 
vout effusions of a grateful heart : and yet, that even 
these will not be accepted without the strictest attention 
to justice, and every practical virtue. It consists there- 
fore of two parts : in the first the devout, but ignorant 
and superstitious worshipper is reproved ; and in the 
second the hypocritical pretender to virtue and religion. 
Each part of the subject, if we regard the imagery and 
the diction only, is treated rather with variety and ele- 
gance, than with sublimity ; but if the general effect, if 
the plot and machinery of the whole be considered, 
scarcely any thing can appear more truly magnificent. 
The great Author of nature, by a solemn decree, con- 
vokes the whole human race, to be witness of the judge- 
ment which he is about to execute upon his people ; 
the august tribunal is established in Sion : 

« Jehovah, God of gods, 

*^ HaU) spoken, and hath summoned the earth, 

** From the rising to the setting of the sun : 

<< From Sien, from the perfection of beauty, God baUi sbined." 

The majesty of God is depicted by imagery assumed 
from the descent upon mount Sinai, which, as I for- 
merly observed, is one of the common-places that sup- 
ply ornaments of this kind : 

<< Our God shall come, and shall not be silent ; 

^ A fire shall devour before him, 

^' And a mighty whirlwind shall surround him." 

380 LYkiC POETRY. L»ct. 97. 

The heavens and the earth are invoked as witnesses, 
which is a pompous form of expression common with 
the Hebrew writers :' 

<< He shall call the heavens from on high ; 

«< And the earth to the judgement of his people." 

At length the Almighty b personally introduced pro- 
nouncing his sentence, which constitutes the remainder 
of the ode ; and the admirable sublimity and splendour 
bf the exordium is continued through the whole. There 
is in Horace an ode upon a similar subject/ and it i^ 
not enough to say, that he has treated it in his usual 
manner, with elegance and variety, for he has done more 
than could be expected from a person unenlightened by 
divine truth, he has treated it with piety and solemnity^ 
But that high degree of sublimity, to which the Psalm- 
ist rises upon such occasions, is only to be attained by 
the Hebrew Muse ; for it is a truth universally ac- 
knowledged, that no religion whatever, no poetic histo- 
ry is provided with a store of imagery so striking and 
so magnificent, so capable of embellishing a scene, 
which may be justly accounted the most sublime that 
the human imagination is able to comprehend. 

The next example, which I shall produce, will be 
found in some measure different from the former, inas- 
much as the subject itself is possessed of the highest 
dignity and splendour, though still no inconsiderable 
part of the sublimity is to be attributed to the general 
plan and arrangement of the poem. The induction of 
the ark of God to mount Sion by David, gave occasion 
to the twenty-fourth Psalm.* The removal of the ark 
was celebrated in a great assembly of the people, and 
with suitable splendour during every part of the cere- 

I Compare Dkut. xsxii. 1. Isai. 1. 2. 

' See HoBAT. Lib. iii. Od. xxiii. 3 See 2 Sax. yi. 1 Chkost. xy.. 

LECTi W. LYttlC iPbETftT. 3S1 

mony. The Levites led thii procession, ateoihpanied 
by a great variety of Vocal and instrumental music ; and 
this ode appears to have been sung to the people when 
they arrived at the summit of the mountain. The ex-» 
ordium is expressive of the supreme and infinite do- 
minion of God, arising from the right of creation ; 

*< The earth is Jehovah's and the fulness thereof; 

<< The world and all that inhabit therein. 

« For upon the seas hath he founded it, 

« And upon the floods hath he e^tkblished it.*' 

How astonishing the favour and condescension! how 
extraordinary the testimony of his love, when he select- 
ed from his infinitie dominion a peculiar seat, dnd a peo- 
ple for himself ! What a copious return of gratitude, of 
holiness, of righteousness, and of human virtues, does 
such an obligation demand ! ** Behold,'* says Moses, 
/addressing the Israelites, ** The heaven, and the heaven 
<* of heavens, is Jehovah's, thy God, the earth also, 
^* and all that it containeth. Only he had a delight in 
<* thy fathers to love them, and their posterity after 
^* them, and he chose you above all people as it is thia 
" day.'** Such is evidently the reasoning of David in 
the following passage, though the chain of argument is 
not quite so directly displayed : 

<< Who shall ascend unto the mountain of Jehovah ; 

<< And who shall stand in the seat of his holiness ? 

" He whose hands are innocent, and whose heart is pure : 

<« Who hath not put his trust in vanity/ 

4 DxuT. X. 14—16. 

' nvn XBO, this phrase denotes confidence, hope, desire. See Ps. zxv. 1. 
Ixxxvi. 4. cxllii. 8, aIso Dxut. xxiv. 1^. Jxr. xxii. 27. Ezbk. xxiv. 25. 
^:w, an idol : iiwp* mwb, " bum incense to vain gods." Jtn. xviii. 15. 

'* Who have not sworn falsely by their life." I offer this translation 'v\ 
preference to our author's, •* Who hath not put his trust in vanity, or in 
yain gods," on the authority of M. Michaslis ; who justly observes, thati 
the translation of the words now ktheva is to perjure orfirtwear, and not 

382 LYftIC POETRY. Lbct.ST. 

« Nor sworn for the purpose of deceit. 

« He shall receive a blessing from Jehovah, 

« And righteousness from the God of his salvation. 

'< This is the generation that seeketh him ; 

« That seeketh the face of the God of Jaeob.'^« 

Thus far is expressive, on the one hand, of the infinite 
goodness and condescension of God to the children of 
Israel ; and on the other hand, of their indispensiUe ob- 
ligation to pietf and virtue ; since he had deigned to 
make their nation the peculiar seat of his miraculous 
providence, and to honour them with his actual presence. 
We may now conceive the procession to have arrived at 
the gates of the tabernacle. While the ark is brought 
in, the Levites, divided into two choirs, sing alternately 
the remainder of the Psalm. Indeed, it is not impossi- 
ble that this mode of singing was pursued through every 
part of the ode ; but towards the conclusion the fact will 
not ^dmit of a doubt. On the whole, whether we regard 

to nvear byfaUe godt, as b evident from EtOD. xx. 7« and it is properly 
applied to the naming' in a lie the name of JsiMTABy their vmn Ufe, or the 
9aered eiticB^ (Pa. cxxx. 20,} or any other thin^ which waa accounted «^ 
cred or dear to them^ T. 

• It ought to be read either with the LXX. Vui.©. Akab. jEtbiop. 
ypT Vie *3B ; or with the Str. apr bM T»f which is much the same. •• It 
« is npT ^^VM T3> in * MS. in possession of Ebbbk EscasirBAcB» N«niii* 
«* berg. See Nablxbi Du9ertat. de Ebjcbbi Codicibw MStii. 1748." K. 
The holy ark, and the ihecfanah which remained upon it, the symbol of the 
divine presence, is called the /ace of God.' and to seek the face of God, is 
to appear before the ark, to worship at the sanctnaiy of God ; which wa* 
required of the Israelites thrice a year. See 3 Sax. xxL 1. 2 Cbxob. tU. 
14. Ps. xxvii. 8. ExoD. xxiii, 17. 

'• Seek Jebotab and bis strength, 
•• Seek his face for ever. Psalm cv. 4. 

Where it is worthy of remark, that 117 (his strength) is parallel and synony- 
mous to 'MB (hb face) and signifies the ari^ of God : compare Psalm Ixxviii. 1 
61, cxxxii. 8. They but trifle, who endeavour to extort any tiling reasona- 
ble from the common reading. Further, I am of opinion, that in ver. ,91h 
the verb iKvam in Mphal ought to be repeated : so all the old translators 
seem to have read it. Author* i »Vete. 

Lbct. ar. LYRIC POETRY. 3«S 

the subject» the imagery, or style of this composition, it 
will be found to possess a certain simple and unaffected 
(an d ther efore admirable) sublimity 

** Lift up your heads, O ye gates ! 

^ And be ye lift/ye everlasting doors l^ 

•« And the King of Glory shall enter. 

^ Who is this King of Glory I 

^ Jkr»vah mighty and poverfiil, 

^ JsaovAK powerful in war. 

<< Lift up your heads, O ye gates ; 

« And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors ! 

« And the King of Glory shall enter, 

<< Who ia this King of Glory ? 

<< JsHovAK of hosu» he is the Kiag of Glory.*' 

You will easily perceive, that the beauty ^d sublim- 
ity observable in this Psalm are of such a peculiar kind 
as to be perfectly adapted to the subject and the occa- 
sion, and to that particular solemnity for which it was 
composed. You will perceive too, that unless we have 
some respect to these points, the principal force and ele- 
gance will be lost ; and even the propriety of die scnti- 
nents, the splendour of the diction, the beauty and or- 
der of the arrangement, will be almost totally obscured. 
If such be the state of the case in this single instance, it 
is surely not unreasonable to conclude, that it is not the 
only one which stands in need of the light of history to 
cast a splendour on its beauties. It b surely not unreas- 
onable to infer, that much of the harmony, propriety, 
and elegance of the sacred poetry must pass unperceived 
by us, who can only form distant conjectures of the 
general design, but are totally ignorant of the particular 

7 I would prefer tfc ancienigate», that is, long mnce ennobled, by the wor. 
ship of the true God. Thus Jacob and Moses speak of the ondM nmm. 
laww, the everltutmg hUU, 8tc. The meaning of the verse is, «« The gates, 
•• which were mean and contracted before, and unworthy of Jibota^ 
" should now be extended and enlarged.'* M. 

^H tYftlC POETRt- UtT. tf. 

applicati on,* | Thus of necessity much of the delicacy of 
sentiment^ much of the felicity of allu^on, and the force 

■ I wish most earnestly, that this obserration of our author might be 
properly attended to by the commentators upon the Psalms : since wly>ever 
neglects it must of necessity fall into very gross errors. There are some 
who» attempting to explain the Psalms from the historical parts of Scrip- 
ture, act as if every occurrence were kno^n to them, and as if nothing had 
happened during the reign of DavH which was not committed to writing. 
This, however» considering the-eztieflie hxeTity of the Sacasd Histoxy, and 
the number and magnitude of the £u^ which it rebtes» qui^t of coofae be 
very far from the truth. The causes and motives of many wars are sot at 
all adverted to, the battles that are related are few, and those the principal 
"Who can doubt, though ever so unexperienced in military affairs, thatmny 
things occurred, which are not mentioned, between the desertion of Jerusa* 
lem by David, and that famous battle, which extinguished the rebellion of 
Absalom ? The camp must have been frequently removed, as circumstances 
varied, to places of greater safety » much trouble must have been bed in 
collecting the veteran soldiers from different posts, and not a few battles 
tnd skirmishes must have occurred, before the exiled king could so far 
presume upon the strength and increase of his army as to quit liie moun* 
tains, and try the open field. This last battle being fought on this side 
Jordan, in the forest of Ephraim, is it not natural to suppose, that some- 
thing must have occorretl to oomp^ Absalom, whose cainp was beyond 
Jordan, to return into Palestine, properly so called : possibly the preserva- 
tion of the>oyaI city f Or is it possible to compare the history of 2 Sax* 
viiL 13, with Psaijc Ix. and not to perceive, that some unfortunate events 
must have haj^ned previous to the victories over the Syrians and I^ume- 
ans, and that affairs must have been unhappily situated in Palestine itself; 
that even the royal city must have been in danger ; since the Idumeitos pen- 
etrated even so far as tlie valley of Salt^ which is scarcely distant one day's 
journey. If all these things be omitted ; if, moreover, in the book of Sam* 
ucl no sufficiently express mention is made of the Assyrians, with whoa 
David certainly waged war, Ps. IxxxiiL 9, why should we not suppose that 
many lesser fa(cts are omitted in the history, to which however a poet 
miglit allude» as natural and proper matter of amplification ? But toretiuii 
to the point I set out from, those who will not allow themselves to be ig* 
norant of a great part of the Jewish history, will be apt to explain more of 
the Psalms upon the same principle, and as relating to the same facts^ than 
they ought : whence the poetry will appear tame and languid, abounding' 
in words, but with little variety of description or sentiment 

There are commentators of another class, who take inexcusable liberties 
of invention, and instead of resorting to the records of the ancients, endeav* 
our to supply facts from their own ingenuity : in which way some of the 
biographers of David have greatly indulged themselves, and puticularly 
bxLAiTT. For example, in the seventh chap, of the 3d vol. he takes it for 


of expression, mu^, by the hand of timei be cast into 
shade ; or rather I should say, totally suppressed and 
extinguished. The attentive reader will, indeed, fre- 
quently feel a want of information, concerning the au* 
thor, the age, and the occasion of a poem ; stiU more 
frequently will he find occasion to lament his own ig- 
norance with respect to many facts and circumstances 
closely connected with the principal subject, and on 
which, perhaps, its most striking ornaments depend. 
This we experience in some degree in the admirable 
poem of Deborah ; and this I seem to experience in the 
sixty-eighth Psalm, though it appears to have some 
affinity with the subject of that which we have just ex- 
amined, since it adopts in the place of an exordium, 
that well-known form* of expression which viras com- 
monly made use of cm the removal of the ark :^ 

<< Let God arise ; let hiB enemies be scattered ; 

<< And let those that hate him flee from his presence/' 

But almost every part of this most noble poem is in- 
volved in an impenetrable darkness. It would otherwise 
have afforded a singular example of the true sublime ; 
the scattered rays of which, breaking forth with difficul- 

grantedy from Pt. xxxtUL and zli. that at the time when Absalom Ibnned 
^e rebellion, Bayid was ill of the small-poz (a disease which we cannot 
pretend to assert from any historical proof to have been known at that pe» 
riod, and fitnn which the kin|f at his time of life could scarcely have re^ 
covered) and to i^ew that nothing could exceed his rashness in inventing; 
he adds, that by means of the disease he lost the use of his rig^t eye for 

Others hawe reeourse to mystical interpretations, or those historical paay 
sages which they do not understand they convert into prophecies : into 
none of these errors would mankind have fallen, but through the persuar 
sion, that the whole history of the Jews was minutely detailed to them t 
and that there were no circumstances with which they were unacquainted» 

t Compare Nux. x. 35. 


385 LYRIC POETRY. L«eT. It. 

tjr through the thick clouds tihat surround itf we yet be» 
hold with a mixture of admiration and pleasure.'^ 

The most perfect example that I know of the other 
species of the sublime ode, which I pointed out (that I 
mean which possesses a sublimity dependant wholly 
upon the greatness of the conceptions, and the dignity 
of the language, without any pecuUar excellence in the 
form and arrangement) is the thank^ving ode of 
Moses, composed after passing the Red Sea." Through 
every part of this poem the n>ost perfect plainness and 
simplicity is maintained; there is nothing artificial, 
nothing laboured, either in respect to mediod or in- 
vention. Every part of it breathes the spirit of nature 
and of passion : joy, admiration, and love, united with 
piety and devotion, burst forth spontaneously in their 
native colours. A miracle of the most interesting na- 
ture to the Israelites is displayed. The sea dividies, 
and the waters are raised into vast heaps on either side, 
while they j^ass over ; but their enemies in attempting 
to pursue, are overwhelmed by the reflux of the waves. 
The&e circumstances are all expressed in language suit» 
able to the emotions which they produced, abrupt, fer- 
vid, concise, animated, with a frequent repetition of the 
same sentiments : 

>« I will sing to JsBovAH, for he is veiy highly exalted ; 
«« TiiC horse sod the rider he hath overwhelmed in the sea." 

This constitutes the proem of the ode, and is also re« 
peated occasionally by the female part of the band in 
the manner of a modem chorus, beii^ briefly expres- 

10 Havuig profesacd above, that I admired not so much the sublimity ai 
the sweetness of Duvid's Ivric poetry, I think it my duty to make an ex- 
ception in favour of this Psalm, than which I do not recollect any thing 
mure sublime in the whole book of Psalint. M. 

11 Exoo. XV. 

LscT.ari LYRIC POETRY. 3«r 

sivc of the general subject. The same idea, however» 

occurs in several parts of the poem, with considerable 

variation in the language and figures : 

<< The chariou of Pharoah and his forces be cast into the sea ; 

« And his chosen leaders were drowned in ihe Red Sea. 

<< The depths have covered them ; 

^ They went down into the abyss as a stone.** 

And again : 

<( The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake ; 

^ I will divide the spoil, my soul shall be satisfied ;i' 

*^ I will draw the sword, my hand shaU destroy them. 

«^ Thou didst blow with thy breath ; the sea covered them r 

« They sunk like lead in the great waters.*' 

Nor do even these repetitions satisfy the author : 

<< Who b like unto di^e atnong the gods, O Jehovah i 

M Who is like unto thee, glorious in sanctity 1 

u Fearful in praises» performing miracles \ 

^ Thou estendest thy right-hand» the earth swallowed them ; 

In these examples is displayed all the genuine fofce of 
nature and passion, which the efforts of art will emulate 
in vain. Here we behold the passions struggling for 
vent, labouring with a copiousness of thought and a 
poverty of expressioui and on that very account the more 
expressly displayed. To take a strict account of the 
sublimity of this ode, would be to repeat the whole. I 
will only remark one quality, which is indeed congenial 
to all the poetry of the Hebrews, but in this poem is 
more than usually predominant, I mean that brevity of 
diction which is so conducive to sublimity of style. 
Diffuse and exubeitoit expression generally detracts firom 
the force of the sentiment ; as in the human body, ex- 
cessive corpulency is generally inconsistent with health 
and vigour. The Hebrews, if we contemplate any of 

u ** This is explained by one ef the Rabbinical writers, h -mil be fitted 
frvm them / that is» says anolhery hy taking their wealth or eubetance/* H, 


their compositions as a whole, may be deemed full and 
copious ; but if we consider only the constituent parts of 
any production, they will be found sparing in words, 
concise and energetic. They amplify by diversifying, 
by repeating, and sometimes by adding to the subject; 
therefore it happens, that it is frequently, .on the whole,, 
treated rather diffusely ; but still every particular senr 
tence is concise and nervous in itself. Thus it happensi 
in general, that neither copiousness nor vigour is want- 
ing. This brevity of style is in some measure to be at-? 
tributed to the genius of the language, and in some 
measure to the nature of the Hebrew verse. The most 
literal versions therefore commonly fail in this respect, 
and consequendy still less is to be expected from any 
poetical translations or imitations whatever. 

Most of those qualities and perfections, which have 
been the subject of this disquisition, will be found in a 
very high degree in the twenty-ninth Psalm. The su- 
preme dominion of God, and the awfulness of his power, 
are demonstrated from the tremendous noise, and the 
astonishing^orce of the thunder, which the Hebrews, by 
a bold but very apt figure, denominate " the voice of 
** the Most High." It is enough to say of it, that the 
sublimity of the matter is perfectly equalled by the unn 
affected energy of the style. 


^ Sing, ye sons of might, O sing 
" Praise to heaven's eternal King ; 
<< Power and strength to iiirn assign, 
« And before his hallow'd shrine 
U Yield the homage, that his name 
<< From a creature's lips may claim. 
<* Hark ! his voice in thunder breaks ^ 
*< Hush'd to silence, while he speaks^ 
^ Ocean -B waves from pde to pole 

LmcT. 97« LTRIC POETRY. 5S9 

<< Hear the awful accents roll : 

<( See, as louder yet they rise, 

<< Echoing through the vaulted skies, 

<* Loftiest cedars lie overthrown, 

^ Cedars of sleep Lebanon. 

u See, up-rooted from its seat, 

« Trembling at the threat divine, 

« Lebanon itself retreat ; 

<< And Sirion haste its flight to join ! 

« See them like the heifer borne, 

<< Like the beast whose pointed bom 

tt Strikes with dread the sylvan train, 

<* Bound impetuous on the plain. 

<< Now the bursting clouds give wa^, 

« And the vivid lightnings play ; 

^ And the wilds by man untrod 

^ Hear, disnay'd, th* approaching God. 

<< Cades I o*er thy lonely, waste, 

<< Oft the dreadful sounds have past ; 

« Oft his stroke the wood invades : 

^ Widow'd of their branchy shades 

** Mightiest oaks its fury know ;^ 

U The oak§ ore afeetedviih paint or tremble .- irbll or IT^M is an eak .• 
snd certainly this word frequently occurs in the plural masculine» with the 
insertion of \ And in this lense the Sth. has taken it, who renders it 
anVil Tton. For the word pn in SyriaCy as well as Hebrew, denotes mo- 
tion or agitation of any kind ; nor is its meaning confined to the pains of 
childbirth. See Isa. U. 9. '* This explanation of the word bVtrr in the 
** sense of moving or thaking', is established beyond a doubt upon the aa- 
** thority of the Arabic verb y>n, to nurve or ehake." H. Though the word 
MnVN does not appear in the Syriac Lexicons to signify an oak, yet it oc- 
curs four times in this sense in the Syriac version, exactly answering to the 
Hebrew word rrbM, 3 Sax. xviit 9, 10, 14. as also in this place. The com- 
mon translations suppose this passi^ to relate to the Mnda bringing' firth 
young .' which agrees very little with the rest of the imagery either in na^ 
tare or dignity : nor do I feel myself persuaded, even by the reasonings of 
the learned Bochart on this subject, Hieroz. part L lib. iii. chap. 17. 
Whereas the oak struck with lightning admirably agrees with the context. 
And Bochart himself explains the word nV« (which has been absurdly win 
^erstood by the Masorites and other commentators as relating to a stag) 
as spoken of a tree in a very beautiful explication of ai| obscure passage i^ 
Gav. xlix. 31. Jhaher't J^te. 

19a LTRIC POETRY, L»ct. », 

« While the pregimat hind her throe 

*< Instant feels, and on the earth 

<< Tremblbg drops th' unfinished birth. 

« Prostrate on the sacred fleer 

tt Israers sons his name adofle. 

<< While his acts to every Unifiie 

<< Yields its ar^^ment of song. 

<< He the swelling surgexoaamanda ; 

** Fis'd his throne tat ever stands i 

^ He his people shall inoteaae, 

^ Arm with atfeagib, and bless with peace.'' 



Tht uMSanit Odd, in «hiok all the eonstitiMKti of tabliaitf formerly spe- 
cified are united— The prophetic Ode of Ho«e% Dsirr. xxxiL— The tvU 
uioph»! Ode of Deborah ; the Prayer of Habakkuk ; the Fate of Tyranny, 
bang a poetical hnitation of the zirth duster of Isaiah. 

Jtf BFOBB we conchide ibis disqubition concerning th6 
lyric poetry of the HebrewSi it will be proper to produce 
a few specimens of that kind of ode, which derives sub^ 
fimity from several united causes, from the diction, the 
sentiments, the form and conduct of the poem ; and 
which accumulates, or in a manner condenses and com- 
bines all the beauties and elegancies of this style of com- 
position. The poems to which I shall refer on thid oc- 
casion, are too well known to require a minute explana- 
tion, and indeed almost too noble and perspicuous in 
themselves to admit of any illustration from criticism t 
it will therefore be sufficient to notice them in general 
terms, or, at most, briefly to recommend a few passages^ 
which are perhaps so eminently beautiful as to deserve 
particular attention. 

The first instance I shall mention is that prophetic ode 
of Moses,' which contains a justification on the part of 
God against the Israelites, and an explanation of the na* 
ture and design of the divme judgements. The exor- 
dium is singularly magnificent ; the plan and conduct 
of the poem is just, natural, and well accommodated to 
the subject, for it is almost in the order of an historical 

1 DsYTT. zzziL 


narration. It embraces a variety of the sublimest sub- 
jects and sentiments, it displays the truth and justice of 
God, his paternal love, and his unfailing tenderness to 
his chosen people ; and on the other hand, their ungrate- 
ful and contumacious spirit. The ardour of the divine 
indignation, and the heavy denunciations of vengeance, 
are afterwards expressed in a remarkable personification,, 
which is scarcely to be paralleled from all the choicest 
treasures of the Muses. The fervour of wrath is how- 
ever tempered with the milder beams of lenity and mer- 
cy, and ends at last in promises and consolation. When 
I formerly treated of elevation of sentiment, of the im- 
pulse of the passions, of the force of imagery and dic- 
tion, I could scarcely have avoided touching upon this 
poem, and drawmg some of my examples from it«* Not 
to repeat these, or accumulate unnecessaiy matter, I will 
only add one remark, namely, that the subject and style 
of this poem bear so exact a resemblance to the pro- 
phetic as well as the lyric compositions (^ the Hebrews, 
that it unites all the force, energy, and bddness of the 
latter, with the exquisite variety and grandeur of ima- 
gery so peculiar to the former.' 

Another specimen of the perfectly sublime ode will 
be found in the triumphal ode of Deborah/ This poem 
consists of three parts : first, the exordium ; next, a 
vecital of the circumstances which preceded, and of 
those which accompanied the victory ; lastly, a fuller 
description of the concluding event, Uie death of Sisera, 
and the disappointed hopes of his mother, which is em- 
bellished with all the choicest flowers of poetry. Qf 
this latter part, I endeavoured to explain at large the 
principal beauties in a former lecture. About the mid- 
dle of the poem, it must be confessed, some obscurities 

s See LxoT. xr. 3 Jvs. v. 4 Seo IfiQt xuL 

Lbct. St; LYRIC POETftT. 89S 

occur, and those not of a trivial nature, which impair 
the beauty of the composition ; and what b worse, I 
fear they will scarcely admit of elucidation, unless we 
were possessed of some further historical lights. The 
ez<xidium deserves a particular examination, as well for 
its native magnificence and sublimity, as because it will 
serve more completely to illustrate my remarks con- 
cerning the digressions of the Hebrew ode. I observed, 
that the praicipal passages in the sacred history, which 
in general constitute the materials of these digressions, 
are so ccmnected with every subject of sacred poetry, 
that even in the most eccentric excursions of the imag- 
ination, there is little danger of wandering from the main 
scope and design. The subject of this ode is the tri- 
umph of the Israelites over their enemies through the 
divine assistance, and the establishment of their liberty. 
At the very opening of the poem this is proposed as the 
ground- work of it : and after inviting the kings and 
princes of the neighbouring nations to attend to this 
miracle of the divine goodness, the author proceeds to 
celebrate the praise of God, not commencing with the 
benefit so recently received, but with the prodigies for- 
meriy exhibited in Egypt : 

^ O JxHovAH, when thou weniett forth out of Seir, 

^ When thou procecdedst from the plams of Edom ; 

^ The earth was moved, the heavens dropped, 

« The clouds also dropped water ; 

« The mountidns melted from before the face of Jxhovah. 

« Sinah itself from before JsbotaBi the God of Israel.** 

The sudden introduction of such important incidents, 
breathes the free and fervid spirit of the lyric Muse» 
There is however no defect in the connexion, nor does 
any degree of obscurity attend the comparison which is 


implied between that stopeadouB delivenftce and the 
benefit so lately received. 

On the same principle the prayer of Rabakkuk is 
constructed ;' and is a remarkable instance of that sob* 
limity peculiar to the Ode, and which is often the rerah 
of a bold but natural digression. The prophet foresee- 
ing the judgement of God, and the impending calami- 
ties, which were to be inflicted upon bis nation by the 
hands of the Chaldeans, as well as the punishments, 
which the latter wcfe themselves to undergo ; parthf 
struck with terror, partly cheered with hope, he be* 
seeches Ahnighty God to hasten the redemption of his 
people : 

** O Jehovah, I have heard thy speech, 
•* I hate feared^ O JsROVAn, thy work. 
« As the yearb* approach, ikott bast abevo Ht 
« Aud ID thy wrath haat remembered mercy." 

In this passage, the resemblance between the Babylonish 
and Egyptian captivitiea naturally presents itself to the 
mind, as well as the possibility of a similar deliverance 
through the power aud assistance of God* With how 
much propriety, thereforct might the prophet have con*> 
tinned his supplications to that all-powerful and aUU 
merciful God ; that, as he had formerly wrought so 
many miracles in favour of his people, he would aflTord 
them relief and consolation on the present occasion ; 
and how efficacious a method would it have been, to 
confirm the fortitude of every pious person, to remind 
them, that he who had formerly manifested his infinite 
power in delivering the Israelites from their great af* 
flictionsj might, in proper time, employ the same means 

« Uahak; iii. 

• See the Vvi.«. and Taxonoriov^ tt iorf itm* Aavika. and the LXX. 
IV T^ tyyt^in roc trr SimiAcuvf», trrof raw ntauTOf* AU of them almost in the 
' same sense, that is, ** witbin a fixed time.'* 

LmtttU. XTRIC POETRr. -^Ms 

to rescue tiitiii from tlieir preaent state of suflfering ? 
He however tot^lj disregards the fprmalit)^ of this 
method) probably because he supposed all the above 
ideas would spootaneously occur to the reader; nor 
does he labour for access by slow and regular approach- 
es to the sacred depository of the most splendid materia 
als, but bursts into it at once, and by a sort of unex- 
pected impulse : 

« God came TenmiH 

** And the Hely One from nount Panm ; 

^ His glory covered the heaTeot ; 

« And the earth wu full of bis praiee." 

The prophet, indeed, illustrates this subject throughout 
with equal itiagnificence ; selecting from such an as* 
semblage of miraculous incidents, the most noble and 
important, displaying them in the most splendid coU 
ours, and embellishing them with the subliihest image- 
ry, figures, and diction, the dignity of which is so 
heightened and recommended by the superior elegance 
of the conclusion, that were it not for a lew shades, 
which the hand of time has apparently cast over it in 
two or three pass^es, no composition of the kind would^ 
I believe, appear more elegant or more perfect than this 

I will add one remarkable example more of the per- 
fectly sublime ode, which indeed it would be utterly 
unpardonable to overlook ; I mean^ the triumphal song 
of the Israelites on the destruction of Babylon. It is 
almost unnecessary to add, that it is in no respect un- 
worthy of Isaiah, whom I cannot help esteeming the 
first of poets, a^ well for elegance as sublimity. Having 
formerly taken up a consaderabic portion of your time 
and attention in a minute investigation of its beauties, it 
is now presented in the modem form of a lyric compo- 

9M LYRIC POETRT. Lmt. 9«. 


<( Oppression diet : the tyrant falls s 
« The golden City bows her walls ! 

M Jbhotah breaks th' Avenger's rod. 
« The Son of Wrath, whose ruthless hand 
^ Hurl'd Desolation o'er the land, 
^ Has run his raging race, has clos'd the scene of blood» 
<< Chiefs armM around behold their TanquiahM lord ; 
" Nor spread the guardian shield, nor lift the loyal sword. 

^ He falls ; and Earth again b free. 
« Hark ! at the call of Liberty, 

« All Nature lilU the choral seiig. 
^ The Fir-trees, on the noutttain's head» 
« Rejcnce through all their pomp of shade $ 
<< The lordly Cedars nod on sacred Lebanon : 
<< Tyrant ! they cry, since thy fell force u broke, 
^< Our proud heads pierce the skies, nor fear the woodmanls stiob^ 

*< Hell, from her gulf profound, 
<< Rouses at thine approach ; and, all around, 
« ^er dreadful notes of preparation sound. 
« See, at the awful call, 
^ Her shadowy heroes all, 
^ Ev'n mighty kings, the heirs of empire wide» 
** Rising, with solemn state, and sloW} 
^ From their sable thrones below, 

tt Meet, and insult thy pride. 
« What, dost thou join our ghostly traisi 
<« A flitting shadow light, and Tain i 
*^ Where is thy pomp, thy festive throng 
** Thy revel dance, and wanton song I 
^ Proud king i CormptioD fastens on ihj breast ; 
<< And calls her crawling brood, and bids them share the feast 

*< Oh Lucifer ! thou radiant star ; 
^ Son of the Morn ; whose rosy car 

** Fiam'd foremost in the van of day s 
** How art thou fairn, thou king of light ! 
^ How fall'n from thy meridian height ! 
« Who saidst the distant poles shall hear me» and obey. 
<< High, o'er the stars, my sapphire throne shall glow, 
«« And, as Jshovah's self, my voice the heey'ns shall boi^. 

Lb<;t. M. LTRIC poetry. S^T 

« He ipakey be died. Diitate'd whh gort» 
« Beside yoo yawning cavern hoari 

** See, where his lirid corse is laid. 
« The aged pilgrim passing by, 
^ Surreys him long with dubious eye ; 
« And muses on bis fate, and shakes his reverend head. 
« Just heav'ns 1 is thus thy pride imperisl gone ? 
« Is thb poor heap of dust the king of Babylon ? 

« 1« this the man, whose nod 
« Made the earth tremble ; whose teniae rod 
« Leveird her loftiest cities ? Where he trod» 

<< Famine pursued, and frown'd ; 

« 'Till Nature» groaning round, 
^ Saw her rich realms transformed tp deserts diy ; 
M While at his crowded prison's gate ; 
^ Grasping the keys of Fate» 

« Stood stem Captivity. 
^ Vain man 1 behold thy righteous doom ; 
^ Behold each neighboring monarch's tomb ; 
^ The trophied arch, the breathing bust, 
« The laurel shades their sacred dust ; 
« While thou, vile out-cast, on this hostile plain, 
<< Moulder'st, a vulgar corse, among the vulgar slain. 

« No trophied arch, no breathing bust, 
^ Shall dignify thy trampled dust : 

^ No laurel flourish o^r thy grave. 
« For why, proud kmg, thy nithlesa hand 
^ HurPd desolation o'er fhe land, 
<< And crush'd the subject race, whom kings are bom to save ; 
^ Eternal in&my shall blast thf name, 
^ And ail thy sons shall share their impious father's shame. 

^ Rise, purple Slaughter i furious rise ; 
<< Unfold the terror of thine eyes ; 

*** Dart thy vindictive shafts around : 
M Let no strange land a shade afford, 
M No coni^uer'd nations call them lord : 
Jf Nor let their cities rise tp curse the goodly ground-. 
<* For thus JsnovAH swears ; no namei no son, 
M No remnant, shall remain of haughty Babylon. 

iM LTRiC POETRY. i«ov.M. 

« Thus ««itb the rigbtcov» Lord : 
<< My rengeance shall uosbeftth the Saouog sword ; 
*^ O'er all thy realms my fury shall be pour'd. 
^ Where yon proud city stoodf 
<< ril spread the sugnant flood ; 
Aftd there the bittern io the sedge shall hirk» 
M Moaning with sullen strain t 
(( While, sweeping o'er the plsiOt 

<< Destruction ends her work. 
^ YeS) on mine holy mountain's brow. 
« 111 crush this proud Assyrian foe. 
« Th' irrevocable word is spoke. 
« From Judah's neck the galling yoke 
« Spontaneous falls, she shines with wonted state ; 
« Thus by ictsblf I swear, and what I swear is Fate.*'' 

' Bfr. Potter has &TOUi«d the world vith a rety elfigmt and spirited 
psnphrase of this prophetic ode. His desariptioii of tlie reception of the 
king of Babylon in .the infieroal legions is psrticttkrly stiikiqg : 

** To meet thee, Hades Tonsefs A^om beneath, 

*< An iron smile his visage wears ( 
<« He calls through all the drear abodes of dei^; 

«< His call each mighty chieftain bears i 
** And scepteed ki^gs, of empires wide» 
** Rise from their lofty thrones, and thus accost thy pride. 

« Is this weak Ibrai of flitting air 
«« The potent Lord that ftU'd th' Assyrisn throne } 
** Thus are thy wonted glories gone ? 

** Where thy rich feasts, thy sprightly viols where ? 
'* Beneath thee is corruption spread, 
'< And worms the corering of thy bed f 
«« H0W art thon fiAcn, bright star of orient day, 

*< How fallen from thy etherial height» 
<* Son of the morning ! Thou» whqse ssiynne ray 

«< Glar'd terribly a baleful light ; 
« War kindled at the blaae^ and wild 

" Rush'd SUughter, Havoc nish'4 thesr iol?es witk bbed dafilU 
<« / m %A heaven mU As adm^d, 

** Abwe the itart o/ God exaU ny throne i 

** My p9wer 9haU sacred Sion ovit, 
«« 7^ mount of God*o fu^h preienee haitme Lord. 
*« Such thy vain threats : Death's daric abode" 
f * Yawns to receive the «aontjng god.'* LTMC POETRY. 399 

The ezpottnktlon of the traveUen, who find the hody expoied» b also ez« 
pressed in terms truly magnificent : 

** Is this the man, whose barb'rous hate 
^ Bound captire monarchs in his galling chain ; 
** While Outrage call'd his loit'ring train, 
*' And Rigour clos'd the dungeon's ruthless gate ? 
** How from his high dominion huri'd 
** The spoiler of the ravaged world !^ 
«< Shalt thou with bcfnour»d dkiefii lepow f 
<< Her jaws 'gainst thee the grare shall close; 
*' For where portentous thy proud banners wav'd, 

** Rapine nuh'd o'er tiie wasted Isnd^ 
** Thy country too, her free-bom sons enalay'd, 
** Or sUughter'd, curs'd thy hostile hand." 

I close these extracts with the denunciation of /sbotas i|^ai8st th« As- 
syrians % 

^ Dreadful en Sion's sacred brow 

** The €k)d of armies shall they know. 
«< Daughter ef Sion, let thy joy arise, 

•« Prom thy griei^d neck his yoke shall fa!! ; 
** Yirgm exult, thy haughty foe despise^ 

<' His chain no more thy arms shall gtU !*^ 




Betides tlioie poeiM which may be itrictly termed odes, the genend tp- 
peUatioDy which in the Hebrew is equivilent to Csnticle or 8oii|^. in- 
cludes another species called hy the Greeks» the IdyUiain.^The reason 
of this name» and the definition of the poem to which it is appropriated* 
->The historical Psalms in general bdong properly to this dsas.— The 
intercalsry stsnza snd the nature of it-— The elegant plan and arrange- 
ment of the hundred and seventh Psalm explained : also the ixth ehi^ 
ler of Isaiah» yer. 8» to chap« x. Ter. 4— This psssage a peribet specimen 
of the Idyllium : other examples of the Idyllium no less perfect aa to 
style snd form.— The Hymn of Cleanthes the stoic commended. The 
Gxxzixth Psalm in English verse. 

AMoirGST those poems which by the Hebrews were 
adapted to music, and dbtinguished by the general ap- 
pellation Shmm^ there are some which differ in thdr 
nature from lyric poetry, strictly so called. It will 
therefore be more regular to class them with those oom« 
positions anciently termed Idyllhims, the name and na« 
tore of which I shall endeavour to explain. 

Whether we are to attribute the invention of the name 
to the poets themselves, or to the grammarians who re« 
vised their works, is difficult to say ; but we find some 
of the Greek poems distinguished by the title JEidS^ 
which denotes a poem without any certain limitation as 
to form or subject. Even the odes of Pindar retam 
that appelbtion. But if tliere were any upon lighter 
subjects, or in a more humble strain, indeed in any re- 

Ls€T. 9f . THE IDTLLIUM. 40^ 

apect ci an inferior kind» and such as conld chas- 
ed under any of the common divisions» they were en^: 
titled Eidyllia. Thus the small poems of Theocritus» 
which consist chiefly of Bucolics, intermingled with 
others of different kinds, are called IdylUums. In th^ 
same manner the Latiifs preferred the name of Echgueg^ 
or poems selected from a number of others ; and for a 
contrary and more modest reason, that of sffloa (or 
woods J was given to such verses as were hastily com- 
{>osed, and promiscuously thrown together, such as 
might afford matter for a more accurate revision or for 
a similar selection. But although the term Idyllium be 
a vague and general term, which denotes nothing cer» 
tain relating to the nature of the poem, it still appears 
by use and custom to have obtained a certain and 9^- 
propriated destination ; and perhaps it may not be imi» 
properly defined, a pbem of moderate length ; of a uni- 
form, middle style, chiefly distinguished for elegance 
and sweetness ; regular and clear as to plot, conduct^ 
arrangement. There are niany perfept exapaplcs of this 
kind of poem extant in the writings of the Hebrews; 
some of which, I presume, it will not be unpkasing 
singly to point out and explain. 

The first c^ these poems which attract our notice are 
the historical Psalms, in celebration of the power and 
the other attributes of the Deity, as instanced in the 
miracles which he performed in &vour of his people 
One of the principal of these, bearing the name of A* 
saph,^ pursues the histoiy of the Israelites from the time 
of their departure from Egypt to the reign of David» 
particularizing and illustrating all the leading events. 
The style is simple and uniform, but the structure is 
poetical, and the sentiments occasionally splendid. The 


403 THE IDVLLIUM. Lbct. %9. 

bistorical, or rather chrondogidal order, canncft be said 
to be exactly preserved throughout ; for the minute de* 
tail of so protracted a series of events could scarcely fail 
to tire in a work of imagination. The Egyptian mira* 
cles are introduced in a veiy happy and elegant digres- 
sion, and may be considered as forming a kind of ep* 
liode. The same subject affords materials for two 
other Psalms, the hundred and fifth, and the hundred 
and sixth : the one including the history of Israel, from 
the call of Abraham to the Exodus; the other, from 
that period to the later ages of the commonwealth : 
both of them bear a strong resemblance to the seventy- 
eighth, as well in the subject as in the style (except 
perhaps that the diction is rather of a more simple cast ;) 
the mixture of ease and grace, disjrfayed in the exordi- 
om, is the same in all. 

These Psalms, both in plot and conduct, have a sur* 
prizing analogy to the hymns of the Greeks. Indeed 
the Greek translators might very properly have given 
the tide of Hymns to the book of Psalms, as that word 
agrees much more exactly with the Hebrew title TehU- 
Im, than that which they have adopted. This species 
of poetry was very early in use among the Greeks, and 
was almost entirely appropriated to the celebration oi 
their reli^ous rites. The subjects in general were Ac 
origin of the gods, the places of their birth, their a- 
chievements, and the other circumstances of their his- 
tory. Such are all the poems of this kind now extant 
in the Greek ; such are the elegant hymns of Calima* 
chus, as well as those which are attributed to Homer. 
The poem of Theocritus, entitled theDiosxouROi, or 
the praise of Castor and Pollux, is also a genuine hymn, 
and very elegant in its kind : nor is it improperly class- 
ed among the Idylliums, which may be said to indode 

Lbct.3»» the IDTLLIUH. 403 

all of this speoks. But the true form and character of 
the hymn is excellently expressed by the two choirs of 
Salii (or priests of war) in Virgil : 

** One choir of oldf another of the yoang ; 
*^ To dance» and bear the burthen of the tong ; 
«< The lay records the labours and the praise, 
<< And all th* immortal acts of Hercules."* 

Those ancient hymns, which are falsely, attributed to 
Orpheus, are more properly initiatory songs; for they 
contain ^' little more than invocations of the gods, which 
^* were nuule use of by those who were initiated in the 
** sacred mysteries of any of the goda.^'* Ovid» wh^ 
was both an el^ant and a learned poet, united the ex*- 
cellencies <£ both these species of hymns : for the ex- 
ordium of the hymn to Bacchus contains the invocation^ 
of that god, or in other words, announces solemnly hif 
name and titles ; the remainder celebrates his perfec- 
tions and achievements/ 

There is yet another Psalm, which may be enume- 
rated among those of the historical kind, namdy, the 
hundred and thirty-^xth. It celebrates the praises of 
the Almighty, and proclaims hb infinite power and 
goodness; beginning with the work of creation, and 
{>roceeding to the mirades of the Exodus, the principal 
of which are related almost in the historical order. The 
exordium commences with this well-known distich : 

^ Glorify Jbbotah, for he is good ; 
* For his mercy endureth for ever j** 

which, aecordiag to Ezra,' was commonly sung by a!^ 
temate choirs. There is, however, one circumstance 
remarkable attending it, which is, that the bitter line of 

S Diyd. Virg^. JEneid. riii. 379. 

s Jos. ScAuesB, Annot. in Hymn. Orph. * Metamorph. xr. 11. 

#£zra lU. 10» U. 

40t THE IDTLLIUM. LscT.)t« 

the distich, being added by the second choir, and also 
subjoined to every verse (which is a singular case) forms 
a perpetual epode. Hence the whole nature and form 
of the intercalary verse, (or burthen of the song) VMf 
be collected : it expresses in a clear, concise, and sim- 
pie manner, some particular sentiment, which seems to 
include virtually the general subject or design of tlie 
poem ; and it is thrown in at proper intervals, according 
to the nature and arrangement of it, for the sake of im- 
pressing the subject more firmly upon tlie mind. That 
the intercalary verse is perfccdy congenial to the Idyll* 
ium, is evident from the authority of Theocritus, Bion^ 
Moschus, and even of Virgil. I shall add one or two 
examples (h)m the sacred poetry, which will not lose in 
a comparison with the most perfect specimens in this 
department of poetry, which tliose excellent writers 
have bequeathed to posterity : and in order to illustrate 
as well the elegance of the poem in general, as the pe« 
culiar force and beauty of the intercalary verse, the or- 
der and conduct of the subject must be particularly ex* 

The hundred and seventh Psalm may undoubtedly 
be enumerated among the most elegant monuments of 
antiquity ; and it is chiefly indebted for its elegance to 
the general plan and conduct of the poem. It celebrates 
the goodness and mercy of God towards mankind, as 
Remonstrated in the immediate assistance and comfort 
which he aifords, in the greatest calamities, to those who 
devoutjy implore his aid. In the first place, to those 
who wander in the desert, and who encounter the hor- 
irors of. famine ; next, to those who are in bondage ; IQ 
those who are afflicted with disease ; and finally, to those 
who are tossed about upon the ocean. The prolixity of 
the argument is occasionally relieved by aarralion ; aR4 


examples are superadded of the divine severity in pun* 
ialiing the wicked, as well as of his benignity to the de- 
vout and virtuous; and both die narrative^mid precep- 
tive parts are recommended to the earnest contemplation 
of considerate minds. Thus the whole poem actually 
divides into five parts nearly equal; the four first of 
which conclude with an intercalary verse» expreanve of 
the subject w design of the hymn : 

« Glorify JattovAK for his mercy, 

« And for his wonders to the children of men." 

This distich also is occasibnally diversified, and anodier 
sometimes anne3(ed illustrative of the sentiment ; 

<< For he satisfieth the famished soul, 
M And filleth the hungry with good." 

^ For he hath brciken the brazen gates» 

** And the bolts of iron be hath cut in sunder." 

The sentinient of the epode itself is sometimes, repeats 
edy only varied by different imiagery : 

<< Glorify Jb90tak for hi^ mercy» 
<< And for his wouders to the childrep of men : 
*^ Let them also offer sacrifices of praise, 
<« And let them declare bis works with melody." 
« Let them exalt biro in the assembly of the people, 
M And in the council of the elders let them celebrate htm." 

In aH diese passages, the transition from the contempla^ 
tion of their calamities, to that of their deliverance^ 
which'is made by the perpetual repetition of the same 
dlistich, is truly elegant : 

M Let them also cry unto Jbhotah in their troubles ; 
^ And from their aflUctions he will deliver tbem s" 

^liis however does not appear in the kast to partake of 
the nature of the intercalary verse. The latter part of 
^e Psalm, which comprehends a vast variety of matter^ 
concludes with two distichs expressive of a sentitnent^ 


gnivei sokmn, and practical, and in no rea|iect unwor- 
thy the rest of the poem. 

lliere are many other examples to be found in tho 
Psalms ; but it must be confessed, few of them are 
equal, and none of them superior to this. I sliall sdect 
another specimen from Isaiah ; and the more willingiy, 
because, in it, as in other passages of the same author, 
the common division into chapters has greatly obscured 
that most elegant writer, by absurdly breaking the unity 
of a very interesting poem, and connecting each part 
with matter which b totally foreign to the subject. U 
we unite the conclusion of the ninth chapter with the 
beginning of the tenth, we shall find a complete and con. 
hected prophecy against the kingdom of Israel or Sa- 
maria/ It is replete with terror and solemnity, and pos* 
sesses a degree of force and sublimity to which the Idyll* 
ium seldom rises ; though it preserves the form of the 
Jdyllium so perfect and express, that it cannot with pro- 
priety be referred to any other class. The poem con- 
«sts of four parts, each of which contains a denunciation 
of vengeance against the crimes of this rebellious peo- 
ple, vehemently accusing them of some atrocious of- 
fence, and distinctly marking out the particular punish- 
ment. In the first, the pride and o^entation of the Is- 
raelites is reproved ; in the second, the obduracy of 
their sjurit, and the general depravation of their morals ; 
in the third, their audacious impiety, wbicb rages iike a 
0ame, destroying and laying waste the nation ; and lastly* 
their iniquity is set forth as demonstrated in their partial 
administration of justice, and their oppression of the 
poor. To each of these a s{)ecific punishment is aa- 

IsAi. iz. 8. — X. 4. " In one MS. a vacant space U left after Isa. z« 4» 
^ but no space of the same kind at the end of chap. ix. In another MS. 
f* aft«r chap. x. 4» a space of one line i$ snttfposcd,'* K. 


nexed ; and a clause, declaratoiy of a further reserve of 
the divine vengeance is added, which forms the epode, 
and is admirably calculated to exaggerate the horror of 
the prediction : 

<< For ttU this bis anger is not turned awaf $ 

^ But his band is stiU suvicbed out." 

The examples which I have hitherto produced will, 
dCt first view, explain their own nature and kind ; there 
are, however, others, and probably not a few, (in the 
book of Psalms particularly) which may equally be ac« 
counted of the Idyllium ^cies. I have principally in 
contemplation those, in which some particular subject is 
treated in a more copious and regular manner, than is 
usual in compositions strictly lyric. Such is the hun- 
dred and fourth Psalm, which demonstrates the glory of 
the infinite Creator, from the wisdom, beauty, and va- 
riety of his works. The poet embellishes this noble 
subject with the clearest and most splendid colouring of 
language ; and with imagery the most magnificent, live* 
ly, diversified, and pleasing, at the same time select, and 
happily adapted to the subject There is nothing of ihi 
kind extant, indeed nodiing can be conceived, more per- 
fisct than this hymn, whether it be considered with re- 
spect to its intrinsic beauties, or as a model of that species 
of composition. Miraculous exertions of the divine 
power have somethii^ in them which at first strikes tho 
inattentive mind with a strong sentiment of sublimit/ 
and awe : but the true subject of praise, the most worthy» 
of God, and the best adapted to impress upon the heart 
of man a fiervent and permanent sense of piety, is drawn 
from the contemplation of his power in die creation of 
this infinite All, his wisdom in arranging and adorning^ 
it, his providence in sustaining;, and his mercy in the 
regulation of its minutest parts, and in ordering and di* 


recting the afiUrs of men. The Gre^k hymns consisted 
chiefly of fables, and these fables regarded persons and 
events, which were neither laudable in themselves, nor 
gready to be admired ; indeed I do not recollect any that 
are extant of this sublime nature, except that of the fa- 
mous stoic Cleanthes, which is inscribed to Jove, that is 
to God the Creator, or as he expresses himself, '* to the 
Eternal Mind, the Creator and Governor of Nature."' 
It is doubdess a most noble monument of ancient wis- 
dom, and replete with truths not less solid than magnifi- 
cent. For the sentiments of the philosopher concerning 
the divine power, concerning the harmony of nature, and 
the supreme kiws, concerning the folly and unhappiness 
of wicked men, whp are unceasingly subject to tbepain 
and perturbation of a troubled spirit ; and above att» the 
ardent supplication for the divine assistance, in order to 
enable him to celebrate the praises of the omnipotent 
Deity in a suitable manner, and in a perpetual strain of 
praise and adoration ; all of these breathe so true and un- 
affected a spirit of piety, that they seem in some meas- 
ure to approach the excellence of the sacred poetry. 

The hymn of David, which I have just mentioned, 
deservedly occupies the first place in this class of poems; 
that which comes nearest to it, as well in the conduct of 
the poem as in the beauty of the style, is another of the 
same author. It celebrates the omniscience of the Deity, 
and the incomparable art and design displayed in the 
formation of the human body ; if it be excelted (as per- 
haps it is) by the former in the plan, disposition, and ar- 
rangement of the matter, it is however not in the least 
inferior in the digniQr and elegance g[ the figures and 
imagery : 

» See Cqawobtb, InteOect. SjftUm. page 432, or H. Stusjjt, PmiAh 


LVCT. 39; Tftfi IDYIXIUM^ 4^, 


M Thou, Lord, hast searched me out, thine eyes 
<< Mark when I sit, and when I rise ; 
<< By thee my future thoug;hts are read ; 
*< Thou round my path, and round my bed^ 
^ Attendest vigilant ; each word, 
<* £^e yet I speak, by thee is heard. 
<< Life's maze, before my riew outspread» 
<< Within thy presence wrapt I tread, 
^ And touch'd with conscious horror stand 
^< Beneath the shadow of thy hand. 
^ How deep thy knowledge, Lord, how widt I 
« Long to the fruitless task applied, 
<< That mighty sea my thoughts explore, 
« Nor reach its depth, nor find its shore. , 

« Where shall I shun thy wakeful eye, 
^ Or whither from thy spirit fly ? 
« Aloft to heaven my course I bear ; 
^ In vain ; fi>r thou, my Gkxl, art there : 
<< If prone to hell my feet descend, 
^ Thou still my footsteps shalt attend t 
<< If now, on swiftest wings upborne, 
** I seek the regions of the mom, 
** Or haste me to the western steep, 
<< Where eve uts brooding o'er the deep; 
« Thy hand the fugitive shall stay, 
<< And dictate to my steps their way. 
** Perchance within its thickest veil 
<< The darkness shall my head conceal : ' 

« But, instant, thou hast chas'd away 
<< The gloom, and round me pour'd the day. 
^ Darkness, great God ! to thee there's none ; 
« Darkness uid light to thee are one; 
<< Nor brighter shines, to thee displayed, 
** The noon, than night's obscurest shade. 
<* My reins, my fabric's ev'ry part, 
^ The wonders of thy plastic art 
^ Proclaim, and prompt my willing tongue 
^^ To meditate the grateful song : 
^ With deepest awe my thoughts' their frame 


« Surveja-^ I tremble thtt I HA." 

« While yet a stmnger to the day 

« Within the burthen'd womb I lay, 

^ My bones, familiar to tby view, 

« By just degrees to firmness grew i 

« Day to succeeding day coasign'd 

» Tb* unfinished birth i thy mighty mind 

« Each limb, each nerve, e'er yet they were^ 

<c Contemplated, distuict, and clear ; 

« Those nerves thy curious finger spun, 

« Those limbs it fashioo'd one by one ; 

« And, as thy pen in fair design 

« Trac'd on thy book each shadowy llnet 

<« Thy handmaid Nature read them there, 

^ And made the growing work her care ; 

M Conformed it to th* unerring plan, 

<* And gradual wrought m« into man. 

« With what delight, great God, I trace 
« The acts of thy siupendoos grace 1 
<< To count them, were to count the sand 
M That lies upon the sea-beat strand, 
w When from my temples sleep retires, 
^ To thee my thankful heart aspires, 
<< And with thy sacred presence blest, 
<< Joys to receive the awful guest. 
« Shall impious men thy will withstand, 
« Nor feel the vengeance of thy hand ? 
« Hence, murth'rers, hence, nor near me stay i 
« Ye sons of Violence, away I 
« When lawless crowds, with insult vain, 
« Thy works revile, tby name proCsne, 
«< Can I unmov'd those insults see, 
M Nor hate the wretch that hateth thee ? 
« Indignant, in thy cause I join, 
^ And all thy foes, my God, are mine. 
<< Searcher of hearu, my thoughtt review ; 
«< With kind seventy pursue 
«< Through each disguise thy servant's mind, 
M Nor leave one stain of guilt behind. 
« Guide through th' eternal path my feet, 
^ And bring me to thy blissful seat*' 




The Plfttonic diTisim of Poetyy into the oairatiTey dranuUic, and mixed 
kinds, of little use ; but deserves to be noticed on this occasion, »s leadr 
ing to an accurate definition of Dramatic Poetry, and clearing up the am- 
Uguitj in vhich the term bw been inTolved by the moderos— Two spe- 
(Hes pointed out : the lesser, which possesses only the Ibrm of dialoifue» 
without the personal intervention of the poet ; and the greater, which 
«OBtainp a piot or fable— There are exjtant some instances of the former 
m the writings of the Hefafews ; but mme of their prodiietioiis seem to 
have the least title to the latter character, two perhaps excepted ; the 
6ong of Solomon, and the Book of Job— Inquiry, whether the Song of 
BolooMm contain a complete plot or ftble— It is an Eplthalamium : tho 
characters which are represented in it : the poem founded upon the nup« 
tial rites of the Hebrews— The opinion of Bossuet cited and explained ; 
namely, that this poem is a representation of the seven days of festival 
which succeeded the marriage, and consequently consists of seven parts 
or divisions^This opinion the moat fovouxable of all, to those who ac- 
count this poem a regular Drama : it however does not prove, that it 
contains a complete plotor fable— DefiniUpn of a Dramatic Fable— Nothp 
ing like it in the Song of Solomon : it is therefore not a perfect ^ramn, 
>ut is of the lesser class of Dramatic poems — ^The chorus of Virgins 
bears a great analogy to the chorus of the Greek tragedies ; but could 
n^t serve as a model for them. 

X HS ancient critics, following the authority of Plato/ 
have distributed all poetical compositions, according to 
their form or subject, into three classes, the narrative, 
the imitative or dramatic, and the mixed. This arrange- 
ment is, however, not of much use on the whole ; it 
tieither draws a perfect line of distinction between the 

I See Pl4T. De Rep. lib. liL 

412 DRAMATIC POETRY. Lkct. 30. 

different species of poems, nor serves to define or explain 
the nature and form of any. There is scarcely any spe- 
cies of poem perfectly simple in its nature, scarcely any 
which does not occasionally unite these different modes 
of expression. The epic indeed may be said to exhibit 
almost invariably a narration of the mixed kind ; and the 
dramatic necessarily assumes the imitative fcnm. But 
as other poems may adopt freely the mixed narraUon ; 
so I do not see any just reason why they should be ab- 
solutely prohibited from assuming the dramatic form. 
Custom, however, we find has so far prevailed, that al* 
though the style and manner dops not seem necessarily 
appropriated to any particular subject whatever, the name 
at least of dramatic has been generally received as dis- 
tinguishing a particular species of poetry. The present 
object of inquiry is, therefore, what specimens of this 
species of composition are extant in the writings of the 
Hebrews : and in the very first stage of our investigation, 
some degree of caution will be required, lest the ambi- 
guity of the t^i^m, asi it has been used by the modemSi 
should mislead or perplex us. 

The term dramatic poetr)', as I before observed, is 
now restricted to tnq particular spieces of composition, 
tragedy and comedy. It was originally, however, of 
t^ucYi more extensive signification ; it regarded simply 
the external form ; it was properly applied to every po- 
em composed in dialogue, provided that, throughout the 
whole, the conversation was carried on by the characters 
themselves, without the intervention of the poet»' This 

3 The nature of this appropriatioflL of a general term w^ill perhiqM be bet. 
ter explained, by brif tlj- adverting to tlie History of the Theatre. In fact, 
thcr^ U scarcely any circnmstanee* in wkieh the^gradnal progress of human 
intention is more c^templiiieda than in the origin and improvement of tbe 
Greek drama. It was originally nothing more than a rude song, exhibited 
by one or more clown Isli minstrels or ballad^ingers, who disfigured lliem- 

lbct. 9o; dhamatic poetry. 4id 

mode of composition is exemplified in several of the 
Bucolics of Theocritus and Virgil, and in some of the 
Satires of Horace, and in two of his Odes, In order^ 
therefore, to examine the subject more accurately, it 
will be proper to distinguish two species of dramatic 
poems ; the lesser, in which, by means of dialogue or 
characters, the manners, passions, and actions of men» 
are imitated or delineated ; and the greater, which con- 
tains, moreover, a plot or fable, that is, the representa- 
tion of some incident or transaction of life, regular or 
complete, in which events succeed each other in a con- 
nected series, and which after various and interesting 
vicissitudes is wrought up to a perfect conclusion. This 
latter species includes both tragedy and comedy ; and 
as the plot or fable distinguishes them from the inferior 
species of dramatic poetry, so the perfect form of dia- 
logue serves to draw the line between them and the epic, 
There are abundant examples of the former species 
of dramatip poetry manifestly extant in the writings of 
the Hebrews ; apd perhaps there are many others, which 
we have not discovered to be of this kind.' The sud- 

sdves to excite attention. ThetpU collected a company of them together, 
and transported them from Tillage to villagfe in a kind of waggon ; and 
something like this state of the drama we see in the rude exhibitions of 
Mummer 9 and Mbrrice-dancert in the inland parts of this kin^om. Thes- 
pis added to the singers an interlocutor, who served to explain the matter 
of the songs ; and in this state the drama continued, till an accident brought 
it to greater perfection. In the representation of a tragedy, in which the 
Furies were exhibited, the barbarous dresses of the chorus (which consist-, 
ed of&fiy persons) frighted the pregnant women into fits. Hence JEschylus 
was induced to retrench the number of the chorus, and to make up for tlie 
deficiency, added to the actors or interlocutors. He erected a stage, and 
ornamented it with machinery ; and equipped the actors with the robe, the. 
buskin and the mask. See more upon this subject in Essayt Btitoricak 
and M^ral, by the translator of these Lectures. Ess. i. T. 

3 Our author has treated with his usual modesty a very difficult subject :« 
on which, those who have been more adventurous ha%*e been led into great 
errors. It is certain that many of the Psalms are dramatic, which uonK, 


den change of persons, when by the vi^iemence of ps^ 
SAon the author is led, as it were insencdbly, from the 
narration of an event to the imitation or acting of it, la 

commenUUm observing» deligfaUd with their own discoTeries» wbaKTo 
they met with a pusage more difficult than usual» or were able to catch 
any new and visionary explanation» mone agreeable to their theological no* 
taoos» they hare eagerly resorted to the change of the persons or ch«nc« 
ters» though no such change existed. Such are those commentators who 
have fanci^ in accommodation to the quotation of St. Paul» Hxb. L 10, 
the spirit and purpose of wluch they did not understand» that the fbnncr pact 
of the ciid Ps. to the ^th vene : ** Take me not away m the midstof my ag^"* 
consisted entirely of a speech of Christ» and that the remunder ; '* as for 
thy years» they endure throughout all generations»" &c. was the r^ly of 
God the Father. Whoow indulges himself in this mode of esplkataoi^ 
«ay easily 6nd out any thing he pleases in the Psalms» and with little tm 
no philological knowledge» without the smallest assistance from criticism» 
can g^ve a meaning even to the most diffictilt or corrupted tezta of Scrip* 
tore : any meaning indeed but the right one. 

Our author very justly su^wrfs» that not a fiew passages of the dramatic 
kind are at present unknown : yet we are not allowed to suppose an ode of 
the dramatic kind» unless it appear so by some decisive proof ; nor ought 
we to fly to this discoveiy as a refuge for our ignoMnoe. For* as many 
passages may probably be of the dramatic kind which we do not know to 
be such» so, many may be accounted dramatic» which a little mon philo- 
logical knowledge» or the true reading» which antiquity may have obaei» 
cd» would point out to be simple and r^;tilar ogpposttiooa. In ocsder t» 
demonstrate how cautious commentators ought to be in these lespects, I 
shall have recourse to one example» whence we shall be able to judge hpw 
uncertain many others are» however they may bear a face of probability. 

The second Psauc has been accounted one of the principal of the dra« 
matic kind» and scarcely any person has doubted of its being altogether 
dramatic. |f you attend to some commentators» the holy prophet speak* 
in the 1st and 2d verses ; in tlie 3d the rebellious princes $ in the 4th and 
^th the prophet again ; in the 6th God ; in the 7th and 8th the anointed 
king ; in the XOth» 11th» and 12lh the holy prophet It is very extraorc 
dinary that they should not see» that it is not the rebellious princes who 
speak in the third verse» but that their words are only referred to by the 
prophet» and that» according to the manner of the Orientals» without di- 
rectly identifying the speaker. Nothing is more common in the Arabic 
poetT}', than to relate the actions and sentiments of particuW persona» 
and to annex their very words without any preface» of «o^'n/» or he •aid^ 
ts.z. It does not even appear that God is introduced as a dramatic char- 
acter» for if so, what is the use of the words^-*" He shall speak unto them 
\\\ his wrath," &c. \ M. 


frequent fai the Hebrew poetry ; but soiHetitnes the gen- 
uine dranlatic, or dialogue form, is quite apparent, and 
the pa&sage will admit of no other explanation. The 
tWenty-foorth Psalm is evidently of this kind, relating, 
as I formerly endeavoured to prove, to the transferring 
of the ark to Mount Sion ; and the whole of the tranak 
action is exhibited in a theatrical manner, though the 
dialogue is not fully obvious tiU towards the conclusion 
of the poem. That remarkable passage of Isaiah also, 
deserves notice on this occasion, in which the Messiah, 
coming to vengeance, is introduced conversing with a 
chorus as on a theatre : 

Cho. « Who is this, that cometh from Edom ? 

^ With garments deeply died from Botsra i 

(< This, that ia magnificent in his apparel ; 

<< Marching (» in the greatness of his strength ? 
Msa. ^ Ij who publish righteousness, and am mighty to save* 
Cho. <* Wherefore is thine apparel red ? 

<« And thy garments, as of one that treadeth the wine-vat 5 
Mes. ^ I have trodden the vat alone ; 

<< And of the peoples there was not a man with me. 

<< And I trod them in mine anger ; 

^ And I trampled them in mine indignadon s 

« Aad their life-blood was aprinklel upon my garments ; 

<« And I have suined all my apparel* 

" For the day of vengeance was in my heart; 

« And the year of my redeemed was come. 

^ And I looked, and there was no one to help ; 

« And I was astonbhed, that there waa no one to uphold : 

« Therefore mme own arm wrought salvation for me^ 

^ And mine indignadon itself sustained me* 

<< And I trod down the peoples in mine anger ; 

<< And I crushed them in mine indignation ; 

<< And I spilled their life-blood on the grouad/'^ 

4 IiA. Ixiii l-^. •» Vcr. 1, after «m in one MS. in fte margin mrh is 
" added. It is read natDrt, in one MS. with the demonstrative article an- 
*• nexed. Alfio n|mt, without a prefixed in one MS. so the LXX. and the 
" VuLo. It is read an^ with i prefixed in thirty-one MSB. so tibe LXX* 
« St», Vum. 

416 URAMATIC P0£TRV. Lect. ^. 

The hundred and twenty-first Psalm is of the same 
kind ; and as it is both concise and elegant; I shall quote 
it at large. The king, apparently going forth to battle, 
first approaches the ark of God upon Mount Sion, and 
humbly implores the* Divine assilstance, on which alone 
he professes to rest his confidence : 

<< I will lift up mine eyes unto the mouutaiDS» 
<< Whence cometh my succour. 
' « My succour is from Jbhovah^ * 

« Who made the beaveM «nd tjhe earth.*' 

The high-priest answers him from the tabernacle : 

« He will not suffer thy foot to stumble ; 

^ He that preserveth thee will not slumber ; 

^ Beholdy he will neither slumber nor sleep ; 

« He who preserveth IsraeL 

" Jehovah will preserve thee ; 

<< Jehovah will shade thee with his right hand. 

<^The sun shall not injure thee by day, 

<< Nor the.moon by night. 

<< Jehovah will preserve thee from all evil ; 

« He will preserve thy soul. 

^ Jehovah will preserve thy going out and thy coming in, 

^ From this time forth for ever and ever." 

Thus much will suffice for that inferior species of 
dramatic poetry, or rather that dramatic form which 
may be assumed by any species of poem; The more 
perfect and regular drama, that I mean which consists 

" Ver. 2. It is OTTic in twenty-eight MSS. and three edit TJi^aVb, pla- 
*' ral' in twenty-one MS8. so theLXX. Ste. for the first bread O, according 
*' to all the old translations. 

" Ver. 3. It is read os^nk, without i prefiked; in two MSS. so Srti. 
«* Vwi.0. For '*nVlOlf in one MS. irrViON. 

«'Ver. 4. rov, without i prefixed, in thicty MSS. and three edit. So 

<« VULO. 

•* Ver. 5. For *nDm seven MSS. and thre« edit have *npfin. Sec chap. 

«' lix. 16. . ' . 

*' Ver.. 6. For DtDwn Jvad.D'ldvin «s occurs in twenjt^re MSS. .and 

<< one edit" K. 

iMcr. 30. DRAMATIC POETRY. 41t 

<tf a plot or bble, wHl detnanda moi^ ekborate inVesd^ 

There are onfy two poems extas^aiaong the writings 
oCtfae Hebrews which eiii^ on the present oocaraHH at 
wSl be brought into question, the Song ci Sdooion» waA 
the book of Job ; both eminent in/ the highest degree 
for elegance, sublimity, and I ^Mk worry to add obscuri* 
Pf also. Thealmost infinite bboors of the learned have 
kft us but tittle new to svjr upon tUs subject; I shall^ 
liowever, proceed to inquire, with some degree of mr-» 
BOteness, into the form and structure of each of these 
pdtmb, and into the>reasons which may be aUedged in 
finrour of iheir datm to the appeUation of regular dnH 
mas. The opinions of other critics shall not pass un- 
regarded, if any remarks or even conjectures occurp* 
which may be likely to throw any light upon the present 
subject, or to explain or illustrate their fMincipal beau*; 

The Song of Songs (for so it is entitled either on ac-^ 
count of the excellence of the subject,, or erf* the comh 
pomtion) is an epithalamium, or nuptial dialogue ; or 
rather, if we may be allowed to give it a title more a[« 
greeable to the genius of the Hebrew, a Sang nf Lover J^ 
It is expressive of the utmost fervour as well as the ut- 
most delicacy of passion, it is instinct with all the spirit 
and all the sweetness of affirction. The principal char-» 
acters are Solomon himself and hi^ bride, who are rep* 
resented speaking both in dialogue, and in soliloquy 
when accidentally separated. Virjgind also, the com- 
panions of the bride, are introduced, who seem to be 
CQOslaiitly upon the sti^, and bear a part in the dia- 
logue: mention too is made of young men, friends of 
the bridegroom, but they are mute persons/ This is 

«•iidi]9tlietiUeofPt.alT. • C4itT. ?. 1. yiU. 13. Seein.r-^IT^ 



«kaoAj otrnfioMiabie to tkiimaiinirs of. ffie Httbnevi^ 
who had always a number of companions to the .biidctf 
li;mthr tbthf Tifniirhtim vem/pieqeotin Hoooor of Sam- 
tan^ at -Ins nuptial feasu^ In^nfae New Tcsfeaincnty ai^ 
Warding to tKd Hebreir idtonu ibef are^oaUed ^* ebildrrtr 
(oc sons) oft&ft brideHchambor/'* and :'' Mettds x£ thb 
bnrisgtodfb ;"^- tkurc too Ivfo find memion of ten vir-^ 
ginsi W1k> Went fhr^ tahfeettfie bride|frooii» and torn 
^iMatHax kaqife :^ Arikkk chtmmlaMcaf I tJhtnlt, indi' 
cate thai tfaid.pfxtni isifbunded.opbD.tfe nttpteal rteftdT 
tbe.Ucbre^ aid isiespvcssfiTe cf il» fiirais or cemoMN 
niaE frf thbir infrriagfcai In DhviOfiinHai, iodc^d^ilbe 
hagteorty" cf tom m ei i tacw » b n^Dlen ieraadBaUei ttnsl 

7jirD. xlv.ll/ » JoHH. iii. 29^ «Ma^. ix.i5. 

10 LiGBTPooT on Matt. iBid. * n'l^gAui. xlv. 15. 

1« It may seem, a !>old artdcrtaking, to contradict the opinion of' all the 
cAtfnnHitBtbrB #fcl«% I^m ^^eii io to^ip ^sttlftiMied,.Mt<tJ)e ifrioeipal p^- 
•onaget of the Cmticks are a Mde asd bridegroom dtirb^ tlie nupttU 
wtxk. As I- cannot, bowcTcr, neeoncile t)ie matter to my mind, I^hall 
Sricfly assign (He i^easdn^ of xfay cnsfteiit from this 6ptnion; The flr^ is» 
tNldb H* dMct Jtteiftita ii Huide» durili^ the cifnMt of tiik l<iiig poem» df Utift 
Q^fentoH^ of m^ni^^ ^nor pf kpy one of the clrctunstaneeiK which attend 
that cercninny. Again» 4'hq can possibly imagine a bridegrooih so neces- 
Sltatci \^ \'d\ib\bf, sii noi t^' Wablfe t6 appltipridt^ a' fc# dayi iA his nujrtij 
\ittk; tjtik! ceiebrittiaiD of, bis milage : but be oonipeUed ittmridlatrfy^ 
guit his spouse an4 his fjriend^ for whole days, in order to attend his eaV 
tte in ttie pastures ? ^ay, at this lime of festival, he even does not retunt 
ilitSilkt) (Alt leaves hi6 Brld^, t6 Whom he appears to ihuch aitacbM« denl 
and ^iflt^^y^ Qr if «id£( instancfea niight occur in pariicuUr cailes, cok^ 
tainly tV.e;; i^o rot alTord a prepei; subject for a auptial song. At the same 
time, tH trirl'fgfooW ik *8uppV)sc4"(o Hare tRe care of a vineyatd, and his 
rUrO^etst l&d dl^pX^iB^d wjtit'hitti fdf'hiA^g neglected. iti t 'ti^ \i BO eotfnu 
rv Xo every 'idea of nuptial &stifity, that unless we could suppoce it meant 
in the way of burlesque, it is impossible to c<inceir& it to have any relation 
to thfe Cehbrutiou of i'mah'iiige. ' 

;t1»en j» itill kas remon^tothijiki tiiat tbe poem ;r«Ute8 to. ihc itate of 
tlie partlefi betrothed jl>efoi;e, marriages and there are not the smallest 
grounds for supposing St tlie description of any clandestine amour, since 
the tnmiaction is de§cf|»cd as phbfia and legal» laid theotthsditof ptreBts 
is very plainly intimat^ '.•,,,. 

jmmtimt of die work» m4 tKe Di^ AiKf^gi^rWgpip^nt; ^f 
tioror, is;«*ly.iyMtter MQF plot jcyr f«Mc 4^;cpfMMim4 pr 

icdgod, and» stthottr Miboi» «iii^i^itp tw^ M^I^Tevfjr l|e 
-^spbiri/hts MillMMitpMMffl»«ng!li«<^ 

iriaim to ibe tUb 4f.aM0»l»r^ 
I/iit is agrttd MnU f^h ttotltlK.pqptii^ ^aa^^fi^ W/^ 

hebdamadaL^^ Of lb».oir/i;um»tm()e..jiA' J^^ iMji 
availed himse^iiia llh^9n4y«atMP 4f< /1«^«^ W be 
accordingly divides ilie wbole iaio sswea /fiarts» enrres* 
ponding to the seven days of its stipposcd duiation*^ 

It ]i|^|i|n«| ih^ftfofp ip ^^A^ n^ pwn senibne|U9^ f^d ijiese «re, thft 
the chaste passions of conjugfal and domestic life are detcril>ed in this p9- 
cin« and that it has no relation to the celebration of nuptiaU. It m^ aedii 
improbable to some i^dfir8« tt^^t conjugal upd dox^eatjc life #hoi^d. afford 
a subject for aiLamoroifs ppy^ra ; but those reader^ have not reflecte/1 how 
m^teriallx the ip^nners of the Orientals are different from ours. Domestic 
li4 anionic as is, in -{genera]» a ci^ and settled state, void of difficulties, 
IQBrpltsi^^, f ufgifippsj j^ «tfijTf»* ff^^ f i»tate yi^ t^iis rarely affpr<^ 
mf ^t^ for su9h a poem, ^ut in the E^t, from the nature of pQlygarmf^ 
that state admits -more of the perplexities, jealousies, plbts, and artikces of 
ftove r 4lie soene is soom vaned, thene is mora of norditj, land coflROqcntl^ 

^s.Sj^ aossvsT. ?*r^f. & Comment, in C47T. 

14 See Gxjr. zxiz. 27. Xvs. xiv. 12. 

u In ad^ifion lo what I remar^d ai^e,- there is tl|js circumstance^ 
which miUtatfss sg»in9tjthe conjecture of Bossuet, nsfyiely, tlpt, ti.oij^Jli 
the nuptial banquet continues for seven days, no time i^ppe^s influ9pM:in 
appto^rialed to the banquet itaelf. Either the bride and bridegroom are 
separated fr«m» v4 i» qH(^^ ^ ^*^ other, or they ase ejiJ9yui|:^ wi^^d- 

490 DRAMATIC POETKr. Lttcr. 90. 

The vicisntudes of day and n^g^ are marked with some 
degree of distinctness ; he therefore makes use of these 
as indexes, to point to the true diviaioQ of die parts» 
The nuptial banquet being condaded, the 'bride is iod 
in the evening to her future husband ; and here com- 
mences the nuptial week ; for the Hebrews, m thdr ae- 
count of time, begin always at the evening.^ The 
bridegroom, who is repreaented in ^ ohaiacter of a 
diepherd, goes foith early in the momiiig to the aocos* 
tomed occupations of a rural and pasumliiie ; the bride 
presently awaking, and impatient of his absence, breaiBi 
out into a 80likx|uy Ml of tendamcaa aad anxiety, and 
this incident forms the ezordwn of the pxuu The 
eariy departure of the 'bridegrooQi aecms to be accord* 
ing to custom ; hence that procaMion so frequently and 
so anxiously i"epeated not to disturb hb betoved ; 
'**-<*( adjure .yott, O ye daofcten of Jerasalenb 

(•Afttottoesiadtlieliiiidaof.tlie^feldf . 

^ Tim je ^btorb nail i^tilier Aw^ke 

^ The beloved, 'ull herself be inclined/'i^ 

Nor less frequent is the following exclamation of the 
.Virgins ; . 

^ Who is she, rising^ up out of the desert I 

^< Who is she, that is seen like the morning 1"^* 

In these terms they seem to greet the bride when she 
first comes out of her chamber : and these several ex» 
pressions have some allusion to the early time of the 
morning. The night is also sometimes moitioned in 
direct terms,^ and scmietimes it is indirectly denoted by 
circumstances.^ If therefore any reader, admitting 

for solitude ; and whenever ihcy converse with the Virgins, it is in the 
street or in the field, and never with the guests, or at a banquet M. 
»* Sec GiH. i. 5, 8ic. 

»▼ Chap. li. 7. iii. 5, viii, 4. » Chap, ill 6. viii. 5. vL 10, 

St Chap, ill 1. T, 3. SB Chsp. U. S. tiu. 3. 

Lbm. Sdi nUMATIC POCTKT. ifll 

die&e indicatkms of time, wiU cwefuUy attend toihem, 
he cannot, I thiftk,. but perceive, duit the^Whole of the 
wopk consbta of seven parts or divisions, each of which 
occupies the space of a daj/^ The saaMr critic adds^ 
limt he can dia»over d» last day to be «teariy diatin. 
gvished as the sabbath ; for the bridegroom does not 
Aen, as usual, gofortti tohtsrufalemplognneots, but 
proceeds from die marriage-chamber into pobliG with 
his bride.^ Sucb are the sentiments of ttua learned |)er« 
son ; to which I aaa- inclined to accede, not as .absdofb 
^omonstrationi but asa very ingeiuous and pubbable coop. 
jecture upon an Mmeaeiy obscure sofaycM : I fdlow 
them therejbre as a glMsmering of light, which beams 
fiMth in the raadst of darkness, where it would beaknoat 
unreasonable to hope for any clearer illuminarion. 

This opinicm i&the naost ftvourable of aH to those 
vrhoaocounttheSongofSobmoa a regular drama; for 
this arrangement seeaasto*dispbiy, in some nieaaore, the 
order and method of a theatrical representation. But if 
they make use of the term dramadc according to the 
common acceptatibn of the word, tins poem must be 
supposed to contain a fable, or entire «id perfect plot or 
action, of a moderate extent, in which the incidents are 
all connected, and proceed regulariy from one another, 
and which, after several vicissitudes, is brought to a per» 
feet conclusion. But certainly the bare representation 

n The iaHi^wmg i$ thtdittrUmtina of tbe vork wcosiUds to BomvbI » 
IstDftj: Chap* I / *— -il ^ 

2d — 

: Chap. ii. 7, — - 


3d - 


4tli — ; 

. Chap. ▼• 3, — »-Ti 


5th — 

: Ch^. vi. 10, Tu. 


6th' — 


7th — *: Chap. TiiL 4^ ^-— 


«1 Chap. via. 5L 

at oxAVATiB Pfwrnm uct<49« 

(tfanufitUfartividcmiiDtmswyfffspf^ antM^rtotWi 

cd in tlio ptrtiQular lilft md MHprooQwa oC tbe liebaMi 
laarriagca; hut we have no raieon>ta snmKNie, ibptt n 
their oomnuMi and usmd ftrm they ««re poasmsed tf 
weh vaiie^ and vicissitude o( fartames aid events, an 
loaflSafdfBalKr^forBrtgufatfiilatDr^fc^ The whole 
waaoiieevrntencmr of jof ^)dltat«^itf. Anuatapfietr: 
cd inaidtntifliigltt indeed aanetimeaobmr to bUarroft 
the ttsiial aidnr^ ^ tof»MdiKMii«Mh.a change of fiortyme» 
as might ilE^rAa bans fi^r a ^nmalic atinfy ; aad.if aap 
aneh ineideni ^i to be fimnd ia Ae paen at pmaent nOr 
der our oohaidenitiDn, i% wili Mtadyliah ita duialD thirt 
appeBatidn. But tlie tvu^ is, the keenest iiu^cilQn cf 
criticiaaK can, thMoghoat the: whok, discover no auob 
incident or citeuaastance ; theatateof affiuiaiauaifiirtn- 
}f tbfi same firoo) the hegimung tq the end ; a few ligpt 
flnctuationa of paaBioii eaKjepted, aneh aa the ^nziety of 
absence, and the anieaitjr aoid happinesaiwhich the lov» 
era ei^oy in each others pieseaee. The fapide iaotients 
the atnenoe of her beloved ;*' she s^ka^ phe finds hint^ 
she bi^ngs hiqi home ; again he is hist» die seeks }i)ia 
again» but with different sMooesat she comfdain^ bs^ 
guishes» indites roessag^^ to be dd^veied to 1»d, she 
indulges her passion in a fiill and animated (jeacriptloa 
€i bis persop» All tins, however, 'bears no nasemblanfie 
to a reguhur plot, nor affords the piece any fairer title to 
the appellation of a perfect drama, than the Dramatic 
Eclogues of Theocritus and Vifjgil, in which the loves, 
the amusements, and the jemuj^tiiQqs pf sl^herds are 
depicted, and wMch uo-erttic hasewr okssed with the 
regular fables of Euripides add Terence. Thus &r 
therefore we may siaftly iidnfit, that th^ Soogpf Solomon 
possesses indeed the dramatic form» and th^in^QRe^he- 

S3 Chap. iu. and v. 


longs properly to that inferior species, which was riien- 
tbned in the former part of thb lecture ; but that it can« 
not) upon any feir grounds of reason» be accounted a 
regular drama. 

There is however one circumstance in which this po- 
em bears a vOrj ntat ai&hity Vb the QkA drama : the 
chorus of virgins seems in every respect congenial to 
the ttagfd &iotn^ of the Gr^ks. They are constamly 
present» and prepared to fulfil all the duties of adviee 
and consoktfiqn : they converse firequendy with the 
{NTineipal chlufaeCeiBi they are i^estioned by them, and 
th^yt^u^n answers to their inquiries; they take part 
in the whole bushiess of the poem, and I do not find 
that upon any ocoa!non they qiilt the scene. Some of 
the lealrned have conjectured, that Theocritus, who was 
contemporary with the seventy Greek translators of tlie 
scriptttfes, and lived with them in the court of Ptolemy 
I^hiladelphus, was not unacquainted with the beauii^ 
of this poem, and that he has almott literally introduced 
some passages from it into his elegant Idylliums.^ U 
might alpD be sutipQcttd, that tHe Cireek tn^;ediiui9 wei« 
indebted for their chorus to this poem of Solofoon, weM 
not the probabilities on the other side much grtetef, 
that the Greeks were made acquainted with it at txM 
late a period ; afid Were it not evid^t^ diat the chortM 
of the Gr^ks bad a very different origin, weine it ii6t 
evident indeed that the chorus was not added to the fi- 
Ue, hut the fable to the chorus^^ 

^ Coitipu^ Caht. L fr. vL 10, with Thioo. xviiL 30, 26, Cast. iv. 11, 
yAih TU0C. Mk. 526, bAWt. Viii. 6, ^, with Taxoc. iziii. 33—26. 

u See Bote C^) <m this tieetore. Thb Uses that certshi spologists for 
Vhe Greek drama have found for the chorus, namely, that it heightens th^ 
probability, and corrects the ill effects of vicious sentiments in the moutha 
6f the acton, t do not dlow. How far t&e hiusical part of the chorus 
might scrire t^ incitease the t^easutt^ <i§ td excite 6t enliven the passion^» 
18 a different question. T. 



"ne question debated» whether the Song of Solomon it to be tiken in t 
literal or allegorical sense: the allegorical sense defended upon the 
grounds of the parabolic style.--Tlie nature and groond-woik of this al» 
legory explained. — The fastidiousness of those critics reproTed, who pre- 
tend to take offisnce at the fre e d om of some' of those images which are 
Ibund in the Sacred Writings ; the nature of those images explained. 
The allegorical interpretation confirmed by analogical aigwnettts : not 
equally demonstrable from the internal structure ot the work itself.^ 
This aUegory of the third or mystical species ; the subject literally re- 
lating to the nuptials of Solomonv— Two cautions to be observed by 
commentators.—Tbe style of the Poem ptttoral : the chamcten ate 
represented as pastoral ; how agreeable this to the manners of the He- 
farews<-«The elegance of the topics, descriptions, comparisons of this 
Pdem : illustrated by examples. 

XlAyiKG, in my last Lecture, briefly explained what 
appeared to me most probable, among the great variety 
of opinions which have prevailed, concerning the con* 
duct and economy of the Song of Solomon, a question 
next presents itself for our investigation, not less in* 
volved in doubt and obscurity, I mean the real nature 
and subject of the poem. Some are of opinion, that it 
b to be taken altogether in a literal sense, and others 
esteem it wholly allegorical. There is no less disagree- 
ment also among those who consider it as allegorical; 
some conceive it to be no more than a simple allegory 
while others place it in that class which I have denom* 
inated mystical, that, namely, which is founded upon 
the basis of history* I would gladly, from the first,, 

Lbgt. SU op the song» See. 4)5 

have considered this question as foreign to my under- 
taking, and would have avoided it as involved in the 
deepest obscurity, had I not, in the former part of these 
Lectures, been under the necessity of remarking the 
connexion between the different kinds of allegory and 
the principles of the sacred poetry ; ha^ I not also found 
it necessary to advert to all the peculiarities of the par- 
abolic style, the most obvious property of which is to 
express by certain images, chiefly adopted from natural 
objects, the analogy and application of which is regular- 
ly preserved, those ideas and doctrines which are more 
remote from common apprehension. This I cannot 
help considering as a matter of the utmost importance, 
in enabling us to understand properly the poetry of the 
Hebrews ; and upon this point much of the present ar« 
gument will be found to depend. 

I shall on this, as well as upon the last occassion, pro- 
ceed with that cautious reserve which I think prudent 
and necessary on so obscure a subject ; and since cer- 
tainty is not to be obtained, I shall content myself with 
proposing to your consideration what appears least im« 
probable. In the first place then I confess, that by 
several reasons, by the general authority and consent of 
both the Jewish and Christian churches ; and still more, 
by the nature and analogy of the parabolic style, I feel 
irresistibly inclined to that side of the question which 
considers this poem as an entire allegory. Those, in** 
deed, who have considered it in a different light, and 
who have objected against the inconsistency and mean- 
ness of the imagery, seem to be but little acquainted 
with the genius of the parabolic diction ; for the remov- 
al, therefore, of these difficulties, which I find have beea 
the cause of offence to many persons, 1 shall beg leave to 
trespass upon your attention, while I explain somewhat 

486 OF THE SONG Lbct. 31. 

more accurately the nature of this allegory, and its anal« 
bgy with other productions of the Hebrew poets. 

The narHowness and imbecility of the human mind 
jbeing such as scarcely to comprehend or attain a cleat' 
idea of any part of the liivine Nature by its utmost ex. 
ertiohs ; God has cbndtrscended, in a manner, to con- 
tract the infinity of his glory, and to exhibit it to out 
understandings under stich imager}' as our feeble optica 
are capable of contemplating. Thus the Almighty may 
be said to descend, as it were, in the Holy ScriptureSi 
trom the height of his majesty, to appear on earth in a 
numah shape, wil^ human ^ens^s and affections, in all 
respects resembling a mortal—" with human voice and 
human form.'* This kind of allegory is caBed anthrO- 
popathy, ani occupies a considerable portion of theology, 
properly so called, that is, as delivered in the Holy Script 
tures. The principal part df this imagety is derived 
"from the passiofts ; nor indeed is there any one affecdoh 
or emotion of the human soul which is not, with aU tt& 
circumstances, ascribed in direct tefms, without an;^ 
qualification whatever, to the supreme Gofl ; not excepts 
ing those in Which human fmilty and imperfection ik 
'ihost eviden'tly displayed, anger and grief, hatred anft 
Vevenge. Thm love also, and that of the tenderest kind. 
%^ou)d bear a p^ft in this drartia, is highly natural am 
*Jjeirfect!ly consistent. Thuis, not orily the fondness d[ 
'pjttemal affection is attributed to Ood, but also the force, 
iJie ardour, and the ^iolichuAe of conjugal attachroein, 
with all thfc concomitant emotions, the anxiety, the ten- 
derness, the jealousy incidental to this passion. 

After all, this figure is not in the least productive df 
obscurity ; the nature of it is better understood than that 
of most others : and although it be exhibited in a varietur 
of lights, it constantly preserves its native perspicuity. 

LscT.SI.' OF SOI.OMQN. 4S7- 


iV peculiar people, of t)ie posterity of Abrahaip, was se- 
lected by God from among the nations, and be ratified 
his choice by a solemq covenant. This covenant wa^ 
£3unded upon reciprocal conditions ; on the one part 
love, protection, and support \ on the other faith, obe- 
dience, and worship pure and devout. This is that con-* 
jugal union between God and his church ; that solemn 
compact so frequently celcbn^tcd by almost all the sacred 
writers under thisi im^ge. It is indeed a remarkable in- 
stance of that species of metaphor which Aristotle calls 
analogical -^ that is, wUen in a proposition poi|&|sting qf 
four ideas, the Qrst bears the jsame relation to thf second 
as the third does to the fourth, and tlie corresponding 
"words may occasionally change their places without poy 
injury to the sense. Thus in this form of expression 
God is supposed to bear exactly the same relation to the 
pburch ^^ a husband to a wife ; God i^ represented a^ 
the spouse of the church, and the church as the betroth* 
ed of God. Thus also, when the same figure is main- 
tained with a different mode of expression, and cpmiectr 
ed with diflferent circumstances, the relation is still the 
jsame ; thus the piety of the people, their impiety, their 
idolatry, and rejection, stand in the same relation with 
respect to the sacred covenant ; as chastity, modesty, 
immodes^, adultery^ divorce, with respect to the ipar- 
riage coouract. And this notion is so very familiar and 
well understood in Scripture, that the won! adulter}^ (or 
whoredom) is commonly used to denote idolatrous wor« 
ahip, and so apj^-opriated dof^ it appear to this me^u 
phorical purpose, that it very seldom occurs ia its prop* 
er and literal sense. 

Let us only observe how freely the sacred poets em- 
ploy tUs image, how they dwell upon it, in how many 

1 PoiBT. cbiip. xxil. and Basr* i"- 3. 


different forms they introduce it, and how little they 
seem to fear exhibiting it with all its circumstances. 
Concerning the reconciliation of the church to Almighty 
God, and its restoration to the divine £ivour, amongst 
many images of a similar nature, the elegant Isaiah in- 
troduces the following : 

M For thj husband is thy Maker ; 

** Jkhovah, God of hosts, is his name : 

^ And thy Redeemer is the Holy Ooe of Israel ; 

<« The God of the whole earth shall he be called."' 

And in another passage in the form of a compariaon : 

^ For as a young man weddeth a virgin, 
tt So shall thy Restorer wed thee ;^ 

> IiA. Ut. 5. 

3 The imhtgiuty of the word which I translate ** thy r ea f t orer , * haa 
created in^xtrieahle difficulties to all the translators and ccMnmentatoraa 
both ancient and modenv The LXX have mbtaken it, and the Maaorites 
have mispointed it. Their anthority has consecrated the efror, and almost 
established it. Nothing howeTer appears clearer to me» than that this 
Word *p&. >* i^ot the plural of the noun p (^Aen, a son) but of the participle 
henotu of the Tcrb mil fbenah» to build) and is parallel and synonymous to 
$hf O0d in the alternate member. Compare the aboTe quoted passage of 
Isaiah, where also mark that hu»band$ and creMort occur in the plural, 
with the same relation to the same word. By this explanatioa, every of- 
fimsive and indelicate idea is taken away ftom the passage, which I do not 
wonder proved an impedhnent in the way of the commentaters^ There is 
another passage of Isaiah, in which the same word is egregiously Qjsun» 
derstood by the Maaorites : 

** They that destroyed thee, shall soon become thy builders ; 
** And they that laid thee waste, shall become thine offspring^** 

IsjL. xlix. ir. 
Thus, in spite of the Masoriteii, the sentence ought to be distributed ; 
thus it ought to be expla'med conformably to the LXX, who have translated 
net only this ambiguous word, (as also the Chii.. and Yuu.) but the whole 
peried also with the greatest accuracy, elegance, taste, and erudition : 

The AmiB. as in genial, copies them. See a similar idiom in Ps. cri. 13. 
EzoD. ii. 18, and the same sense of the Teshjetxa, Jam. zxz.31. Nam. 1. 11» 
In this verse also, for bp3^ «3 the LXX. Sra, and Caiu read V9^*0 ^ 
^ Before T^^" oi^c H^- '^^^^ P* so the LXX. Stb. Cjlhl For vwnx\ one 
f* MS. has rwoav and, snother mrDa." K. ^«Msr's AWr. 


« And as the bridegroom rejoifceth in his bride, 
M So shall thy God reJMce in tbee/'^ 

The same image a little diversified, and with greater 
freedom of expression, as better adapted to the displajr 
of indignation, is introduced by Jeremiah,' when he de- 
claims against the defection of the Jews from the wor* 
ship of the true God. Upon the same principle the 
former part of the prophecy of Hosea ought also to be 
explained ; and whether that part of the prophecy be 
taken in the literal and historical sense, or whether it be 
esteemed altogether allegorical, still the nature and prin- 
ciples of this figure, which seems consecrated in some 
measure to this subject, will evidently appear. None 
of the prophets, however, have applied the image with 
so much boldness and freedom as Ezekiel, an author 
of a most fervid imagination, who is little studious of 
elegance, or cautious of bfiending % insomuch, that I 
am under some apprehension of his incurring no iiKX>n« 
siderable share of censure from those over-delicate crit- 
ics who have been emitted from tiie Gallic schools.^ 

4 !•▲. izlL 5. See Jobs iii. 29, 8cc and note (11) in answer to Michae-i 
lis, on the allegorical sense of Solomon's Song. S. H. 

« Sir John Cbardin, in his note on this place, tells us, that it is the eus* 
<* torn in the Bast for youths, that were neyer married, always to many 
<* virgins $ and widowers» howeyer young, to many widows." Harmcr» 
Obserr. ii. p. 489. T* 

' Jim. iii. 1, &o. 

A Nothing can be more disgusting to any person of common sense, than 
tbe arrogant pretences of our neighbours on the continent to superior re- 
Snemient and civilization ; and I confess, on a f&ir investigation, I am ut» 
terly at a loss to find in what this boasied superiority consists. Is it seen 
in their enlarged and liberal notions of civd government, in their toleration 
»nd general information on politics and religion, in the mildness of their 
punishments and the equity of their laws ? Is it marked by their progress 
in the great and useful sciences, by their Bacons and their Boyles, their 
Kewtons and their Loc1(es f Does it appear in the sublimity, the grandeurj^ 
^e elegance of their poets ? Or is it demonstrated by still more certaii^ 
Ibsriu of civilization» by the general cleanliness» decency» and industry o^ 

«tt op T3B 80Na Lf cf. f I. 

His great freedom in the use of this linage is particular* 
Ij displayed in two parables/ in which he desoribes the 
ingratitude of the Jews apd Isni^lites to their greaf* 
Protector, and their defection frppi tlie try^ worship 
under imagery assumed frofn the ch^^racter of an adu}« 
terous wife, and the meretricious loves of twQ unchaste 
women. If these painbles (which are put ^lta ih^ 
mouth of God himself with a direct allegorical flpp^C9* 
tion, and in which it must be confes^4i th^ deUcaqr 

tile coiB|Don people f U it ieen iq the conveiuence and grandeur of their 
public roada, and the accommodations afibrded to travellers in every part 
of the kingdom f Does it appear in the ftce of the couotiyy the high «tato 
•f cultivation, and the aoccesa and iniprovement of agrjcultuie f Or lastly^ 
14 it demonstrable from the morals of the people at large, from the inde* 
pendence» the dignity, the probity, particularly of the trading classes of 
aociety i I know no other marks of civilisation than these i ^4 ^ ^^ >4* 
Biirers of Gallic frippery cannot answer these questions to my satisfactiop, 
I shall continue to give but little credit to their pretensions to extraordi- 
fkurj refinement and politeness. T. 

. That diversity of mam^ers, Hkf^- d^Ucacy of converaalion, which is o^ 
«erved by some nations, and the coarseness of others, results chiefly from 
the degree of intercourse which subsists between the sexes. In countries 
where the intercourse is free and familiar, where the aeaes meet oommqp]^ 
in mixed companies, they accustom themselves to a greater modesty and 
$kiie»ey an their oonrersatiDn, which modesty is easijly tiiuislbrFe4 to their 
/composition. Such a people» therefore» with whom entertainments woulf 
^eem languid and duU without the company of young women, though per- 
h^M not free from Ucentiousness in their manners, will yet be fshaste and 
jMicAte in their dprnsaaoB. Qenoe ariaei» in n gxieat degree Mift i^UciDt 
delica/^ in the people of modem Europe, which can scarQply heap some of 
the passages in Virgil, and the chastest of the ancient pooM. The c^a^ is 
guite difieient with the people of the East : for the men having scarcely 
any society with the unmarried women, or with the wives of others, con« 
verse togt^ther without being restrained by the blushes of females, or with 
their own wives, whom they regard in a very inferior light, and ponse* 
guently treat with all the insolence of frmiliarity ; the women alao converse 
j^efly with each other ; and as they are similarly situated, are probably 
not less licentious. It is not extraordinary, tlierelbie, if greater freedom 
pf speech should prevail in those countries, and if this, when traasfrrred 
into their poetry, should be found to offend our ears, w|uch are acciistoaied 
^o so much greater delicacy ii^ conversation. M. 
. 7 BziK» xvi. and xxiii* 

Llici. 31. OF ^LOkb^. \ii 

Aois not Appear to ht pairticularly stucSed) be trell con* 
ihtered, I aitf persuaded, that the Song of Solomon 
^hich is in every part chaste and elegant) will not ap« 
pear unworthy of the divine sense in which it is usually 
taken, leither in matter or style, or in any degree inferior 
feidier in gravity or purity to the other remains of the 
tecred poets. To tfa^se instances I may add the for^r. 
fifth PsEtlm, which is a sacred epithalamium, of the al- 
legorical application of which, to the union betweeh 
God and the church, I do not find that any doubt has 
hitherto been entertained ; though many suspect it, and 
not without good reason, to have been produced upon 
the same occasion, and with the same relation to a real 
fact* as the Song of Solomon. Neither ought we to 
omit, that the writers of the New Testament* hav4 
freely admitted the same image in the same allegorical 
sense with their predecessors, and liave finally conse* 
crated it by their authority .*• 

These reasons appear to me sufficient to remove 
tikose objections founded on the meanness of the ima- 
gery, which render many critics averse to the allegor- 
ical explanation of this poem. I shall not attempt to 
Confirm this opinion by any internal evidence from the 

• PerbapB the coropletion and oonaacrfttum of tke temple^ See note (U.) 

B. H. . 

• See Matt. it. 15, Jom Hi. 29, 3 C»b. si. S, Bra. t. 23, fce. Rvr. xis 
7, xxi. 2, xxli. 17. 

10 What CBABDiir relates of the Persian poetry, may perhaps not be un- 
trorthy of the reader's notice in this place. *' Debauchery and licentiouff* 
^ ness,** says he, *' are the common topics of these compositions ; but I 
'''mast not omit remarking, that the most serious of their poets treat at 
^the sublimest mysteries of theology, under the most licentious language^ 
" IB the way of allegory, as Afez in his Xcuel** Voyage de Chabdih, 4to 
tflfm. ii. cap. ziv. But respecting this matter see the arguments on both 
jides elegantly stated by the learned Sir Wuuax Jojtxs. jPocm. Anatica, 
tioiment» cap^ ix. Author^» J^6tt. 

433 OF THE SONG Lbct. SI. 

poem itself, as I do not scruple to cookss myself de^ 
tcrred by the great difficulty of the undertaking. For 
though induced by the most ancient authority, and still 
more by the analogy of this with other similar allege^ 
ries contained in the Hebrew writings, I am fully per- 
suaded of the truth of what I have advanced ; yet I am 
still apprehensive that it would be extremely difficult 
to establish the hypothesis by direct arguments from 
the internal structure of the work ttself.^^ 

ti Our author has treated this very difficult suhject with more modestf 
tnd more address than any of the commentators ; and indeed has said all 
that could he said, exclusive of the theological arguments in faTourof the 
allegorical sense. I question, however, whether he will he able to remove 
all doubt from the mind of a cool and attentive reader ; the reasons of m/ 
•cepticism on this matter, I will, as a person earnestly desirous of the truth, 
«ndeavour briefly to explain ; and I shall hold myself |^reat]y indebted to 
that man, who shall, upon rational principles, undertake to remove my 

With regard to the authority of the ancient Christian church, in a ques- 
tion merely depending upon the exposition of a passage in scripture, 1 hold 
it of very little importance, not only because the exposition of scripture 
does not depend upon human authority, but because the fiithers, as well 
on account of their ignorance of the Hebrew language, as of the principles 
of polite literature in general, were very inadequate to the subject, eagerly 
pursuing certain mystical meanings, even with respect to the clearest pas- 
■ages, in the explanation of which, the most enlightened of the modem 
commentators have refuted them. The time of the fethers was so very 
distant from the period when this poem was composed, that it is impossi« 
ble they should have been possessed of any certain tradition concerning its 
purpart and meaning. I should entertain very different sentiments, if I 
eould find any mention of the Song of Songs in the New-Testament ; but 
on the most diligent examination, I have not been able to discern the 
•lightest allusion to that poem. 

The authority of the synagogue is of still less importance in my eyes, 
aince in other respects we have found it so little deserving of confidence 
in its attempts at expounding the scriptures. Such of the Jewish writers 
as have treated of the Canticles lived so many ages after the time of Solo» 
mon, afler the total destruction of the commonwealth and literature of the 
Hebrews, that they knew no more of the matter than eurselves. 

With regard to the analogy of other poems, all that can be said is, that 
it' was indeed possible enough for Solomon to celebrate the Divine love in 
terms analogous to those descriptive of the human afiections : but it is 

Lker. SI. OF SOLO MON. 483 

But if, after all, it be allowed that this work is of the 
dlegorical kind, another question remains, namely, to 

hoposaible to determme by tluit inalogy» what kind of love he mteiided to 
be the siih|ect of this poem. Shall we pretend to aay, that hU attention 
was wbcrfly employed upon sacred poetry» and that he never celebrated in 
v«ne any of the human aflfections ? Or, because some of the Hebrew poenM^ 
eelebrate the Divine goodness in terms expressive of the human passions,. 
does it follow, that on no occasion those terms are to be taken in their lit- 
eral sense? 

Our author has pradentlydeclined examining the srguments which SM 
usually taken from the poem itself» snd from its internal structure» for the 
purpose of establishing^ the allegory. It is indeed very improbable» that m 
^ long a poem, if it were really allegorical» no vestiges» no intimatioii 
should be found to direct us to apply it to the Divine love s nothing» which 
does not most clearly relate to the human passion : and that too» consid- 
ering^ it as the production of one of the Hebrew writers» who are accustom- 
ed to mix the literal sense with the allegorical in almost all their compo- 
sitions of this kind. In so long an allegory one should also expect a deep» 
4t moral than usual, and one not generally obvious to be indicated : but no 
sober commentator has ever been able to deduce from the Canticles any 
•ther than this trite senthnent, that God loves his church» and is beloved 
hy it. That this simple sentiment should be treated so prolixly» and noth- 
ing more distinctly revealed concerning it» who can credit» but upon the 
soundest basis of argument or proof ? But in support of it we have only 
Ihe bare position, that the Hebrew writers sometimes make use of allegor- 
leal expressions to denote the Divine love. 

I am aware of the objections which are started by those who rest the 
natter upon theological arguments (though I cannot find that these are of 
great weight or utility in the present debate : for they seem rather calcu* 
iated to silence than convince.) They assert» that though the book has 
never been quoted by Christ or his apostles» it was yet received into the 
Sacred Canon» and is therefore to be accounted of divine original : and that 
tfiere does not appear any thing in it divine» or worthy of sacred inspira- 
^n» unless it be supposed to contain the mystery of the Divine love. Lest, 
ftowever, they should seem to have proved too much, and lest they should 
dilsmiss the reader prepossessed with some doubts concerning the Divine 
a&thority of the book» I will venture to remind these profound reasonerst 
that the chaste snd conjugpal afflictions so carefully implanted by the Deity 
in the human heart, and upon which so great a portion of human happinese 
depends, are not unworthy of a muse fraught even with Divine inspiration^ 
Only let us suppose» contrary to the general opinion concerning the Canti- 
cles» that the affection» which is described in this poem, is not that oi, lov- 
ers previous to their nuptials, but the attachment of two delicate persons» 
who have been long united in the sacred bond, can we suppose such h^>pi- 
I unworthy of being recommended u ft pattern to mankind» und of be- 

434 OF THE SONG tKCT. Sf. 

tirhich of the three classes of allegory already specified 
k properly belong. The first of these, you will recol- 

ing^ celebrated as a subject of g^titude to the g^re«t author of happiness f 
This is indeed a branch of morals which may be treated in a more artificial 
and phitosophical manner ; and such a manner will perhaps be more cod* 
vmein^ to the understanding*, but will never affect the heart with such tea- 
der sentiments as the Song of Solomon ; in which there exists all the fer- 
tour of passion, with the utmost chastity of expression, and with that deli- 
cacy and reserve, which is ever necessary to the life and preservation of 
conjugfal love. Let us remember, moreover, that Solomon, in his Proverbs^ 
has not disdainevl very minutely to describe the felicities and infelicities of 
the conjujfal state. M. 

Notwithstanding^ all that this learned writer has so ably advanced apunst 
the allegorical import of this exquisite Idyllium, I cannot be prevailed upon 
entirely to relinquish the idea. That compositions of a similar kind are 
still extant amongst the Asiatics Is certain. The; Loves of Megnoun and 
Leileh have been celebrated in the Arabic, Persic, and Turkish languages, 
with all the charms of poetic rapture, whilst the impassioned lovers them- 
8elves are regarded in the same allegorical light, as the bridegroom and 
bride in the Song of Songs. Exclusive, however, of this consideration, 
there appear to stand forth in the composition itself indisputable traits of 
an allegorical sense. For, though (from our imperfect knowledge of the 
extraneons mannel*s, arts, local peculiarities, and literature, of so singular 
a people, at so distant a period) we be now unabl6 to apply the thing sig- 
nified to its proper sign, yet a variety of images obtrude themselves upon 
us that evidently contain a symbolical meaning.— Jshovab having chosen 
the Jewish nation as his peculiar people, and being frequently, btf the pr9pk' 
eu APTsm So/bfRo», represented as their busbavd, and they personified, as 
hit wirx J might not the consecration (2 Crbov. vii.) of the temple, as an 
habitation for the Lord to dwell in, and there receive them to himself, have 
sngfgested to Solomon the idea of a coaritrsAL uvioir, and induced him to 
adapt an allegory to it ? — As to the allegation, that this poem is not cited 
m the New Testament : it wiU, upon this g^round, be of the less weight ; for 
oar Saviour, in the parables of the ten Virgins and the Marriage Supper, 
has adopted (if not fi-om it) the same allegory, as well as in other passages 
[^fark ix. 15, Sec.} and is himself not only pointed out to the Jews express- 
ly in the character <yf a bridegroom, by John Baptist [John iii.] but referred 
to, under it, by St. Paul [Eph. v. &c.] and more particularly in the Apoca* 
lypse. How far this conjecture may be supported, I will not venture at 
present to pronounce, but thus much it may be proper to observe, tliat 
such images as the tent9 of Kedar compared to the cfftnplexion of a young 
femcJr ; tlie tower of David to her neck,- Tirza to her beauty^ and Jerttoa- 
lem to her comelineot / the fsh-pooh of NeMon by the gutet of Bethrabbin^ 
to her eyet; the to^mer of Lebanon looking tmoardt Danuucuo^ to her note i 
tiie mount of Carmel^ to her head,- with others uf a similar kind, would, I 

Licf . 31. OF SOLOMON. 431 

Icct, was the continued metaphor ; the second the par* 
able, strictly so called ; and the third, the mystical alle- 
gory, which, under the veil of some historical fact, con^ 
ceals a meaning more sacred and sublime. I must 
confess, that I am clearly of the same opinion with those 
who assign this production to the latter class of allego- 
ries ; the reason of which will be evident, if it be ad- 
mitted that there is any thing in the poem at all allegor- 
ical ; since there can scarcely be any doubt that it re- 
lates in a literal sense to fhe nuptials of Solomon. 
Those also, who are conversant with the writings of the 
Hebrew poets will easily perceive how agreeable the 
conduct of this poem is to the practice of those writers, 
who are fond of annexing a secret and solemn sense to 
the obvious meaning of their compositions, and of look- 
ing through the medium of human affairs to those wiiich 
arc celestial and divine. The subject of the Canticles 
appears to be the marriage feast of Solomon (who was 
both in name and in reality the prince of peace ;) his bride 
is also called Solomitis^^ the same name with a femi- 
nine termination ; though the latter Jews have strangely 
disguised and obscured it by a vicious pronunciation : 
for Solomon and Solomitis have evidently the same re- 
lation to each other, as the Latin names Caius and Caia. 
This circumstance of the names was not to be disregard- 
ed, since they seem to have a very strict connexion^ 

think, have nerer been selected» to exemplify the beauties of a bride, in 
any composition that was not allegorical. 

The idea above suggested will, perhaps, reeerre no little countenance 
ftom the chapter cited as above (2 Cheo v. viL) Bosquet's division of the po- 
em into seven days, is perfectly conformable to the fact mentioned in the 8th 
and 9th verses— where ^e learn, that the dedication of the altar was cele- 
brated by a festival that continued for the same space of time. S. II. 

w n«oViv maVir 5 which may be expressed in Greek HoMfun, Xu^fifitrii^ 
Cast. viii. 1. 

43« OF THE SONG Lbct. Si. 

and to afibrd a very distinct intimation of the latent 
meaning : for to what purpose innovate the usual prac* 
tice of the Hebrews, by assigning to the wife of Solo^ 
mon the same name, unkss from a regard to the force 
and meaning of the word ? Unless it was meant to in* 
dicate, that the name of Solomon himself was not with* 
out importance, not without some further aim than 
merely the distinction of the person ? Who this wife of 
Solomon was, is not dearly ascertained : but some of 
the learned have conjectured, with an appearance df 
probability, that she was the daughter of Pharaoh, to 
whom Solomon was known to be particularly attached^ 
May we not therefore, with some shadow of reason, 
suspect, that under the allegory of Solomon choosing § 
wife from the Egyptians, might be darkly typified that 
other Prince of Peace, who was to espouse a church, 
chosen from ampng the Gentiles ?^ 

Concerning the explanation of tliis allegory, I will 
only add, that, in the first place, we ought to be cautioua 
<^ carrying the figurative application too far, and of en- 
tering into a precise explication of every particular : aa 
these minute investigations are seldom ccmducted wit^ 
su^cient prudence not to ofiend the strious part c^ man- 
kind, learned as well as unlearned. Again, I would ad< 

SS This Ycry nice and reinote allusion to Christ is totally destroyed by 
•B unlucky obserratioB of Dr. Hodgson, who very properly rem&rks, that 
the bride, who is the subject of this poem, could not be the daughter ol 
Pharaoh, for in the third chkpter, ver. 4, she expressly says ; 

** 1 would not let him go, 

*■ Till 1 had led him into the house of my mother.** 
** If therefore," says the doctor, " she had been the daughter of Pharaoh, 
** her mother's house would have betn in Bgypt ; whereas the scene of 
** this poem evidently lies at Jerusalem.*' Sec Hr. Hodosob's Version of 
this Poem» «Aisles tn chap. iiL 

The quotations ftom the Ciaiticles in this and the last («ciurs fiefhkCi 
fy taken from the abovt; ekgant publication. T* 


vise, that this production be treated according to the 
establistied rules of this kind of allegory, fully and esu 
pressly delivered in the sacred writings, and that the 
author be permitted to be his own interpreter. In this 
respect the errors of critics and divines^^ have bren aa 
nunoerous as they have been pernicious* Not to men- 
tion other absurdities, they have taken the allegory not 
as denoting the universal state of the church, but the 
spiritual state of individuals ; than which, nothing can 
be more inconsistent with the very nature and ground* 
work of the allegory itself, as well as with the general 
practice of the Hebrew poets on these occasions. 

It remains to offer a few remarks upon the style of 
this poem. I formerly intimated that it was of the pas- 
toral kind ; since the two principal personages are rep* 
resented in the character of shepherds.^ This circum* 
stance is by no means incongruous to the manners of 
the Hebrews, whose principal occupation consisted in 
the care of cattle .^ nor did they consider this employ- 
ment as beneath the dignity of the highest characters. 
Least of all, could it be supposed inconsistent with the 
character of Solomon,^^ whose father was raised from 
the sheep fold to the throne of Israel. The pastoral life 
is not only most delightful in itself, but, from the par* 
ticular circumstances and manners of the Hebrews, is 
possessed of a kind of dignity. In this poem it is adorn* 
ed with all the choicest colouring of language, with all 
the elegance and variety of the most select imagery. 
** Every part of the Canticles,'' says a modern writer, 
** abounds in poetical beauties ; the objects, which pre* 


M See chap. i. 7» 8. m Ste Giir. zlvL 33—34. 

1' Though not inconsistent with Solomon, yet exceedingly to in respect 
to hb supposed Egyptian bride, as shepherds were held in abomination by 
^E^iypUans. This confinn^ Hr. Hod^;saiif« ides m the t3tk note. S. Ik 

49$ OP THE SONG Lxer. SK 

" sent themselves on every side, are the choicest plants, 
** the most beautiful flowers, the most delicious fruits, 
" the bloom and vigour of spring, the sweet verdure of 
*^ the fields, flourishing and well- watered gardens, pleas- 
** ant streams, and perennial fountains. The other senses 
** are represented as regaled with the most precious o- 
*^ dours, natural and artificial ; with the sweet singing 
^* of birds, and the soft voice of the turtle ; with milk 
** and honey, and the choicest of wine. To these en- 
'* chantments are added all that is beautiful and grace- 
** ful in the human form, the endearments, the caresses, 
*^ the delicacy of love ; if any object be introduced which 
** seems not to harmonize with this delightful scene» 
" such as the awful prospect of tremendous precipices, 
*' the wildness of the mountains, or the haunts of the li- 
** ons ; its eflfect is only to heighten by the contrast the 
'^ beauty of the other objects, and to add the charms of 
^ variety to those of grace and elegance.*'^* In the fol- 
lowing passage the force and splendour of description is 
united with all the softness and tenderness of passion : 

** Get thee up my companiooy 

^ My lovely one, come away s 

M For lo ! the winter is past, 

<< The rain is over, is gone, 

*« The flowers are seen on the earth ; 

^ The season of the song is come, 

<< And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land : 

<< The fig-tree puts forth its green figs, 

^ And the vine's tender grapes yield a fragrance : 

^ Arise, my companion, my fair one, and come/*^ 

The following comparisons abound in sweetness and 
delicacy : 

" How sweet is thy love, O my sister, O spouse, 
« How much better than wine is thy love, 

fl BoMVBT, Preface to the Csntidet. *» Chap. ii. ICH-li- 

iiMT. 31. OP SOLOMON. 439 

<< And the odour of thy perfumes than all spices 1 

<< Thy lipsy O spouse, distil honey from the comb, 

« Honey and milk are under thy tongue, 

<< And the scent of thy garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon/ls 

There are some others which demand a more accurate 

« Thy hair is like a flock of goats, 
« That browse upon Mount Gilead.**** 

The hair of the goats was soft, smooth, of a yellow cast, 
like that of the bride ;** her beautiful tresses are compar- 
ed with the numerous flocks of goats which covered this 
flourishing mountain trom the top to the bottom. 
« Thy teeth are like the shorn flock** 

» ehap. ir. 10, 11. 

ti Chsp. iv. 1 — 5. " It 18 by no means an easy matter to produce any 
** other explanation of this and the following words, than that which had 
** long since been received by the old translators. The word which is here 
" rendered hrvrnte^ denotes in the Arabic t9 ateend^ or rt pa9$/rom a lower 
*< to a higher tituatUm g and I scarcely see how this sense can be admitted 
** in this place. The LXX haTe it wtmOMfktfta^ and in chap. vi. 4^ onfeune» 
** (they appear.) Bat the word u thine will perhaps agree better both ia 
*' this passage and wherever this word occurs. But if the verb v^s be tak- 
** en in this passage in the sense of ascending', we must take the whole as 
<< it is above expressed ; namely, as descriptive of a flock of goats covering 
'* the side of the mountain from the bottom to the top." H. 

Ckiliuh does not mean to browte or to appear^ but to ascend, whether we 
ibllow the Septua^^t, the Syriac, the Vulgate, or the Arabic copy. The 
use of the latter word in this place is not indeed very easy to conceive, as 
<* to ascend from mount Oilead** appears an odd phrase. Possibly the pas** 
sage ought to bo construed—" Thy locks axe as a flock of gosta AsemM 
^ ISO, vHeh are teen from osount Gilead." M. 

Thy hair is like a herd of goata 

That go down from mount Oilead [in the morning to the watering.] 
Beriving «Va from an Arabic wovd, iriiich Sehulten» explains 9o gouhe 
tratered in the morning. 

T%u BBOWBs is a sense obtained from the Syriac sod Chaldee. Those 
who render the word ehine^ are indebted to a tcinspositiion of letters in aVr 
tnow^ for this signification. S. H. 

ss See chap. viL 5, and compare 1 Sam. xix. 13, 15 with xvi. 13. Coe« 
suit BocBAXT, Hieroz. paK L lib. ii. 51. 

c< The Verb koixab means to «a o^ or eul thwn ; the interpretatbfii'^ 

440 OF THE SONG Lsct. ft. 

« Wluch have come up from the washing placei 

« All of which have twins,*^ 

<< And none among them is bereaved.** 

The evenness, whiteness, and unbroken order of the. 
teeth, is admirably expressed. 

^^ Like the twice-died thread of crimson are thy lipfl» 
(( And thy language is sweet." 

That is» thin and ruby-coloured, such as add peculixr 
gnoea to the sweetness of the voice» 

« Like the sKce of a pomegranate 

M Are thy cbeeka amidst thy tresses.^ 

^ therefore, of the word ketzubot, (shorn) which many hare adopted, and 
** which it confirmed by all the old translations, appears to me the mdst 
•* probable. From the same vei^, I think» may be deduced the aignifica- 

* tion precuely efual^ intimating thait the sheep were all exactly ahorn to 
^ one staodard as it were. (See Bocba«t, Hicroz. part L lib. iL 45.) 

* Will not this sense better suit the connexion ? Is not the wMteneM and 
** ^ciri^ of sheep (and so of teeth) expressed in these two lines, rather 
** than their evenmu, which seems to be iacliaded in those that follow i 


S4 " Tbe Arabic verb DKH denotes not only U bring forth twint» but alsQ 
^ to have a tompamon : whence DKin joined, or connected in a oerieo g and 
^ iramn, says Gouus, is a pearl, from the link, or order of the pearls. 
** Nothing can be mere expressive than this image of the beautiful regu<« 
** larity and equality of tlie teeth. The learned Mxchailis prefers twine, 
** referring perhaps to the counterpart in the next member." H. 

ss « Behind thgt veii, says Michaels from the Arabic ent «• /meten <•• 
^Srtker.' and the weU-known noniD Wt\^U Giggeius to have a e$ip0$ed 
** head / plaeed within a small integument" H. 

** As the opening blossom of the pomegranate are thy checks» 

« From within thy locks." 
Simon accnnEtely interprets nbs by the burttii^ firth of a fiemer, and 
CKiarim fay Wmf §!■'>>% a word which Pliny will enable us to ^qilain. He 
observes, that the embryo of the pomegranate, which has its origin in the 
Sower, is railed by the CSreeks dfyatw / and adds, that the young blossom 
• which breaks forth before the fruit becomes yisible, is distinguished by 
the name htdauetium. Dioscorides, however, has remarked, that ha Xmintivm 
b tbe blossum of the wtU; and c»tymw of the eumvated pomegranate. [See 
Notes on Yathek, p. 309, lie.]— ITDV here translated locks in a figurative 
sense, is propeily tliat radiated down which grows round tlie blossom of 
the pomegnmate, and partially shades it, as the hair does the cheeks. S. U. 

Lbct. 31. OF SOLOMON. 441 

Partly obscured, as it were, by her hair, and exfaibitmg 
a gentle blush of red from beneath the delicate shade^ 
as the seeds of the pomegranate (the colour of which is 
w|iite tinged with red) surrounded by the rind« 

M Thy neck U like the tower of David 

«* Built for an armoury ;*• . . 

M A thousand shields are hun|^ up agaiast it, 

«( All bucklers for the mighty." 

The neck is described as long, erect, slender, according 
to the nicest proportion ; decorated with gold, gems, 
and large pearls. It is compared with some turret of 
the citadel of Sion, more lofty than the rest, remarkable 
for its elegance, and not less illustrious for its architect- 
ure than for the trophies with which it was adorned, 
being hung round with shields and odier implements of 

^ Thy two breasts are like two young kids, 

<* Twins of the gazai, that browse among the lilies.'*^ 

Delicate and smooth, standing equally prominent from 
the ivory bosom. The animal with which they are 

stt ** Trhe word nrsbn, which may be Dumbered among those that occur 
** but once, certain critics, says R. L. B. Gershom, derive from rr^, to 
*« suspend, and nrs, that is, ma'nn, of a sword : others from nbn, ami »|ba 
'* 1000, suppose of swords : thus in the following sentence, «^^n prsn nblt 
** fbp will afford sn etymological explication of this word." H. 
sr << Thy two paps are like two yoimg kids, 

^ Twins of the g^zal, « 

*• That browse amongst the lilies.'* 
The points of similitude between the objects here compared, I apprehend 
So consist : 

1. In the eoloitr of these young snimsls, which in the original is called 
*»9 white deepening' inte red (from an Arabic word of this import) whence 
thi;ir name is derived. 

2. In their reloHve height, as just rising above the growth of lilies : the)r 
being compared to " paps thai never gone euek.** 

These circumstances are noticed to justify this translation, ibr theySnunt 
•f a BOB, neither in eoleur nor height, at all correspond to the objects 
compared. S. H. 


Ht OP TU£ SkONO Lbct.»I« 

fonpared i$ an animal of le^qubite beauty, and fram 
(hat circumstance it dertvca it& name in the Hebrew» 
Nothiogr can, I think, be imagmcdt more traly elegBBt 
and poetical than all these pass^^a, nothing more apt 
or expressive, than ihtae cooiparisGfnsii . Th« discovery 
of these excellencies, however, ontjr serves to increase 
our regret for the many beauties which we have lost, 
the perhaps superior graces, which extreme antiquity 
s^ms to have overcast wkh an impenetrable shade.* 

' 90 tt i« i^ch to be U^neAted. Uiai no eomn^enUtor ha» arben tufll«ientl|» 
qualified to explain this beautiful poem. Those who h&VjC atteinpte«^ it ha^ 
been scholastic dirines, rather indeed nystics, and hare entirely overlook- 
ed tbe oturious and mone elegant meaning. Ibdeed the task b by no meana 
efsy i- bfBaides. a. yery accurate and id^omaticml knowledge of the Orient^ 
^gfuages, an, intin^ite acquaintance with, the mannprs of antiquity, and no^ 
tmall mibrmation concerning natural history, wiH be requisite : to theK 
must be added a good deal of reading in the Arabic poetry, particularigr m 
iht'ir compositions of. the amorous kind, and last of aU a true taste for po- 
etry. Ver>' few of these qualities have existed separately, and never all of 
them conjunctly in those who have undertaken to illustrate this poem. 

In order to ei^empUiy how much, might be effected, towards clearing wg 
the obscurities, of this most elegant composition, by a knowledge of natural 
bistory .alone, I wiH endeavour to explain my «pinion of some difficult pat* 
sages (chap. v. 11, 14. vii. 6, 14.) In ch. v. ver. 6, II. most people are ig- 
nofwit, and at a loss to conjecture, what may be the meaning of D*bnbn r 
the SeveiUy and the Vulgate render it ihmntf (elatas) or tbe down) sub-' 
stance in wtuch the dates are involved ; nor is this translation very differ- 
«It from.tbe Arabic, which renders it the ^nmrA of the pahn tree Jrmn 
•wideh the dates depend. But what relation can this bear to the human bair 9 
I answer, the resemblance is obvious to «ny person» who ha» sew the ob- 
ject of the comparison, or has remarked tbe plate of it annexed to tbe 
notes on Theepkraetu^e ffuterg rf JRtenit 4y Jo. Btrnavs.— But how is Sol- 
omon couststbnt, in the same verse speaking of ravsen locks, and a goldc»* 

** His bead is of pure gold, 

** The locks of uhicb resemble tbe braneheaof the palm>tx«e, 

** And black as the raven.** 
Up reccnclle this difficulty, it is necessary to know, that although the O- 
rientals may possibly admire rmven leekt in their natural state, yet they- 
are accustomt^ to die them with henna (so they call the oil of privet) In 
order to give them a yellow or golden cast r thb ia an ancient custom, thougk 
the existence of it among the Hebrews may be disputed ; but probably, for- 

tsmn. 3a« OF SOLOMON. «MP 

this same purpbie ^sutf toight make uic^ df gold dttftt» u thelAtiiis are 
Jknown to have done. 

With the same hcyna they atain the countenance, as well aa the hands 
«nd arms, which first changes them to an azure blue, and they gi*ow yellow 
by degrees ; and this they esteem a gre^t object of beauty, though it would 
Jbe accounted deformity with us. — ^This observation will enable us to un- 
ders^jid better some {Ju'as^s in the 14ih and l^th verses bt the same 
chapter : ,j , 

«His hands 4rs;iMiigoldri«gs . 

** Inlaid wilh chrysolite i 

" His belljr 08 pli^tes 0f ivory, 

'■Inclosed in '.sapphire 'I » 

'* Hia legs ate aajeoliUDns of maible 

'* Upon a base of gold*" 

The fingers being stained with henna, appeared as if lEhey liad gold ringt 
on, set with chrybolite ; which gem was formerly of a yellow colour. I 
«ay formerly, because the same stone which we call the topaz was the an- 
cient chrysolite. (See Hill's Hitt, of Fouih.J But if by the word tar^ 
sMih we understand the ancient hyacinth or amethyst, an azure colour will 
then be alluded to, which the same henna produces on the skin. The 
whiteness of the body, covered with a delicate purple vest, is finely com- 
pared to ivory overlaid with sapphire. Sbeth is without doubt figured 
marble : to which the legs and thighs are compared, from the blue and 
serpentine veins which run alon^ them, and which are more pellucid in 
proportion to the fineness of the skin. The bases are golden slippers. 

The 5th verse of the viith chapter is among the most difficult. The 
head of the king's daughter is con^a^ to the pyramidal top of Carmel, 
covered with thick trees, by which simile is, I apprehend, intimated the 
«quantity and beauty of her hair. The word dallat also occurs for hair, in 
the explanation of which commentators have been .g^atly perplexed; 
Aome, led Away by a whimsical etymology, have supposed it to mean thin 
hair, as if this could possibly be a subject of flattery to a young lady. In 
my opinion, the word is derived firom the Arabic, as well as the Chaldaic 
word yVv (the fringe of a garment or tent) and means any thing pendant» 
or hangmg loose. The hair is compared to purple, not however, I think^ 
on account of the colours for the henna» with which they stained their 
hair, makes it yellow, not purple : I suspect some allusion is rather intend- 
ed to the animal which produces purple. That animal is of a pyramidal 
form, rising beautifully in a spiral cone, whence it is called aregman, from 
its likeness to the stone monuments. There follows D^ma niON *]bo, 
which, with some degree of hesitation, 1 venture to translate, *' as a king 
encircled witli a diadem :" the Septuagint has it or vroffvfa fiarOLSof, trtf^Jt/juvn 
Mkn/Mo-*. The upright Oriental tiara is alluded to, the m^rk of royalty, 
which is more noble the higgler it is. Thus the verse may be explained, and 
it will then be found to present a just picture of the oriental head-drcss ; 
*' Thine head resembles Carmel .* 

444 OF THE SONG) kc. Lbst. 31. 

*< And thine hair is raised like the sbell of the purple, 
** Like ft king* encircled with diadems." 
In the latter rerses of the same chapter there is an el^;ant descnption 
of springs, hut what chiefly creates difficuh^r is the dudoum^ which are said 
to produce odourt. The famous CsLsirs, in his Sacred Botany, aeems to 
have been peculiarly unfortunate on this subj^^^* '^'^ ^^'^ ^ translated 
mandragora (or mandrake) on the most ancient authority : but Cebius can- 
not allow this plant any place in a love poem, because it has in reality a 
bad smell. The text explained from the Arabic is, ** The mandrakes pro- 
duce a ttnmg odour." We must remember, that it was the opinion of all 
the Orientals, that the mandrake was of especial eflkacy in love potions i 
the truth of which opinion is of no concern to us, if we only allow it to 
have been the general opinion of the eastern nations. The text thcivfiore 
implies, " The mandrake will breathe ita 8tron|p and somniferous odours, 
and p^Toke to lovf ." M. 



m order to criticise the book of Job with any degree of Batisfaction to bis 
. «udltor^ the critic must explain his own sentiments concerning the work 
in general— The book of Job a singular composition, and has little or no 
connection with the affairs of the Hebrews— The seat of the history is 
IduniKa : and the characters are evidently Idumaean of the family of 
Abraham « the author appears to be an Idumxan, who spoke the Hebrew 
as his vernacular tongue— Neither Eiihu por Moses, rather Job himself» 
or some contemporary— This appears to be the oldest book extant: 
founded upon true history, and contains no allegory— Although extreme- 
ly obscure, still the general subject and design are sufficiently evident — 
A short and general analysis of the whole work ; in which the obscurer 
passages are brought as little as possible in question— The deductions 
from this i^squisition— 1. The subject of the controversy between Job 
and his friends — 2, The subject of the whole poem— 3. Its end or pur^ 
pose — ^AU questions not necessarily appertaining to this point to be 

Ouch a diversity of opinions has prevailed in the learn- 
ed world concerning the nature and design of the Poem 
of Job, that the only point in which commentators seem 
to agree, is the extreme obscurity of the subject. To en- ' 
gage, therefore, in an undertaking on which so much eru* 
dition has been expended, to tread the same paths which so 
many have already traversed in vain, may seem to re- 
quire some apology for the temerity, not to say the pre- 
sumption of the attempt. Though I might alledge, that 
the authority of the most learned men is lessened in some 
iqeasure by the discordance of their opinions ; and that 
therefore the failure of others is the more readily to be 
excused i I willy however, make use of no such defence^ 

446 OF THE POEM OF JOB. Lbot. S3. 

but will entrench myself rather in the necessity and in 
the nature of my present undertaking. I pretend not to 
any new discoveries ; I presume not to determine the 
subtile controversies of the learned ; I scarcely venture 
to indulge a hope of being able to able to illustrate any 
obscurities. My sde intention is to collect, from such 
passages as appear the least intricate, the most probable 
conjectures : and what I conceive to have any tolerable 
foundation in fact, that I mean to propose, not as de* 
monstration, but as opinion only. I proceed tn this man- 
ner upon the principle, that, considering the great dis- 
cordance of sentiments upon this subject, it . would be 
impossible for any man to discourse with a sufficiem de- 
gree of accuracy und perspicuity upon the structure and 
parts of this poem, unless he previously explained his 
own ideas concerning the scope and purport of tlie work 
in general. 

The book of Job appears to me to stand 8ii^[ie and 
unparalleicrd in the Sacred Volume. It seems to have 
littie connexion with the other writings of the Hebrews, 
and no relation whatever to the aftairs of the Israelites. 
The sKieAc is laid in Iduniasa ;^ the history of an inhab- 

» The'infonnation which the learned have cndeiwoufed to collect from the 
^vritn^ iend geog;nipliy of the Greeks conceBaing the ootmtly and re«i<eBce 
of Job and his frteads^ appears to roe so verjr inconclusive* thafl amincUn- 
ed to taltt a quite diiferent method for tlie solution of this question, by ap- 
plyb?!^ solely to the SacT^ Writing^ : the hmts with which they hav« ftir- 
nished me tpwfod^ the iiUiatratian of this aulj^ect^. ft abali ezpia&ft a* bneflf 
as possible. 

The land of KTz, or Omrfx, is evidently Idunuea, as appears from Lajk. 
in Sl^ Vy WM the gnmdaon of Seir, the Hbrhe : Gsk. xxxvi 30, 21, 28« 
1 Cvaox. i. 38, 43> Seir inliabifted that mountaiaous tract whicih was caUrd 
by his name antecedent to the time of Abraham, but lus posterity bein^ ex« 
pelled, it' Was occupied by the lUumseans : Gxv. xiv. 6. Dsct. ii. X% Two 
other /nen are mentioned of the name Uxf one tibe gtandson of Shemi- 
|he other tiie son of Nachor, the brother of Abraham ; but whether any dift< 
trict was called after iheir name is not clear. ldumz;i is a part of Ar^bi^ 
^f trxa, sitaated on the southern extttmity of the tribe of Jiidah : Svni' 

Lbct.31. op TBE PdCM op job. 4i7 

itant of that coontiy is the basis of the narrative ; the 
charaelcrs who speak are IdufAseans^ or at least Anibian$ 

sxxiv. 3. JfWH. XT. 1» 31 ; tke land of Us thertfbreappn» to htLve been be* 
tve«n Egypt Md Philistia. Jik. zxt. 20. where the order of the place! 
teKm» to have been «ccurate&y obierved hi reviewmg the different nations 
from Egypt to Babylon ; and the same people seem ag»in to be described 
in, ti^a^Uy the satK situations» Jxn. zlri— 1. 

ChU4r^ \f thf Etm or £ai«ers people, seems to ha:To been &e genend 
ai^>elUiiOB for that mingled race of people (as they are called, Jer. xzr. 30.) 
who inhabited between Egypt and the Euphrates, bordering upon Judea 
firom tiie Soulh to the East ; the Idumcana, the Amalekites, the Bfidianitef , 
1^ MkMbites, the Ammonites : see Jvn. vi. 3. and Isa. xi. 14. of these the 
Idunucans and Amalekites certainly possessed the southern parts; see 
Ntrxa. xxxiy. 3. xiiL 2S^ 1 Sax. xxviL 8, 10. This appears t&be the true 
state of the case : the whole region between Egypt and Euphrates was calll 
ed the East, at first in respect to Egypt (where the learned Jos. Mede 
thinks the Israelites acquired this mode of speaklfijg. Mkdb's VFerkef page 
580.) and afterwards absolutely and without any relation to situation or 
Gircumstanees. Abraham is said to bane sent the sons of his concubines, 
Bagar and Keturah» ** Eastward, to the country which is commonly called 
the East." Gsx. xxr, 6. where the name of die region seems to have been 
derived from the same situation. Solomon is teported ** to have excelled 
in wisdom all the Eastern people^ and all Egypt:* 1 Kives iv. 30, that is, 
all the neighbouring people on that quarter : for there were people beyond 
the boundaries- of Egypt, and bordering on the south of Judea, who were 
Amdous ibr wisdom, namely, the Idumaeans,. (see Jxa. xlix. T. Os. 8.) to 
whom we may well believe this passage might have some relation-. Thus 
JanovAB addiesses the-Babgrloniaos : ^ Arise, ascend unto Kedar, and la^ 
waste the children of the East,'* Jan. xlix. 38. notwithstanding these were 
isally situated to the west of Babylon. Although Job, therefoi^^ be ae^ 
counted one of the Orientals» it by no means fidlows, that his residenee 
must be in Arabia Desevta. 

I^if^uut the Temamte .• Eliphaz was the son of Esau, and Teman tiie sen 
sif Eliphaz : Gav. xxxvL 10, 11. The Eliphaz of Job was without adoubt of 
this race. Teman is certainly a city of Idumca i Jxb. xUx. T, 30. Bus« 
XXV. 13i Axos i. 11, 13. Os. 8, 9. 

BUdad the SkuhUe .* SJmah was one of the sons ef Abraham by Keturah, 
Whose posterity were numbered among the people of the East, and his sit- 
uation was probably contiguous to that- of hb brother, Midian, and of hie 
nephews, Sbebah and Dedan : see Gair. xxv. 8 and 3. Dedan is a city of 
Idumapa : Jxn» xlix. 8, and seems to have been situated on the eastern side» 
ss Teman was on the west, Ezxk. xxv. 13. Prom Sheba originated the 
Sabaeans in the passage from Arabia Felix to the Red Sea : Sheba is united' 
to Midian, Tba. Ix. 6, it is in the same region however with Midian, and* 
not far from mount Hortb, Exon. ii. 15, iiL 1. 

448 OF THE POEM OF JOB. Lbct. ». 

of the adjacent country, all originally of the race of A- 
braham. The language is pure Hebrew, although the 

Zophtw tbd ^aamathUe : tanatkg the cities, which by lot fell to the tribe 
of JacUb» in the neighbourhood of Idumaea, Naama is enumerated. Joss. 
XV. 21» 4t. Nor does this nsme elsewhere occur : this probsblj was the 
country of Zophar. 

EUku the Bvzite : Buz occurs but once tA the name of a place or coon- 
try, Jan. xzT. 33, where it is mentioned along unth Dedsn and Thema: 
Dedan, as was just now demonstrated, is a ci^ of Idumsa ; Thema be- 
longed to the children of Ishmael, who are said to have inhsbited irom 
Havilah even to Shur, which is in the district of Egypt, Giv. xzv. 15, 18. 
Saul, however, is said to have smitten the Amalekites from Havilah even 
to Shur, which is in the district of Egypt, 1 Sax. xv. 7. Havilah cannot, 
therefbfe, be very far from the boundaries of the Amalekites ; but the A- 
malekites never exceeded the boundaries of Arabia Petrxa. (See Rxuivi» 
Palcstin. lib. i. c. xiv.) Thema, therefore, lay somewhere between Havilsh 
and the desert of Shur, to the southward of Judea. Thema is also men* 
taoned in connexion with Sheba, Job vi. 19. 

Upon a &ir review of these facts I think we may venture to condudc» 
•till with that modesty which such a question demands, that Job was aa 
inhabitant of Arabia Petrxa, as well as his friends, or at least of that 
neighbourhood. To this solution one objection may be raised : it may be 
asked, how the Chaldeans, who lived on the borders of the Buphrates» 
oould make depredations on the camels of Job, who lived in Idumaea at so 
great a distance. This too is thought a sufficient cause for assigning Job 
a situation in And>ta Deserts, and not far from the Euphrates. But what 
•hottld prevent the Chaldeans, as well as the Sabaeans, a people addicted to 
rapine, and roving about at immense distances for the sake of plunder, 
from wandering through these defenceless regions, which were divided into 
tribes and families rather than into nations, and pervading from Euphratea 
even to Egypt ? Further, 1 would ask on the other hand, whether it be 
probable that all the friends of Job, who lived in Idumxa and its neigh» 
bourhood, should instantly be informed of all that could happen to Job in 
the desert of Arabia and on the confines of Chaldea, and immediately repair 
thither .' Or whether it be reasonable to think, that, some of them being 
inhabitants of Arabia Deserta, it should be concerted among diem to meet 
at the residence of Job; since it is evident, that EUphas lived at Tbeman, 
in the extreme parts of Idunusa ? With respect to the JImtat of Ptolemy 
(for so it is written, and not AutitatJ it has no agreement, not so much as 
in a single letter with the Hebrew Gnutz, The LXX. indeed call that 
country by the name JlntUida^ but they describe it as situated in Idum«a } 
and they account Job himself an Idumsan, and a descendant of Esau. See 
tJie Appendix of the LXX. to the book of Job, and Uxob, Not in PeritfL 
cha^. xL JhithorU JVltte, 

Lict». 3^, Ol^ THE POEM OP JOB- 44^ 

duthof a]!»pears to be an Iduma^an ; fdr it is notimprob- 
Able tHat all the posterity of Abraham , Israelites, Idu- 
m'ceans, artd Arabians, whether of the family of KeturaH 
Or Ishmals!, spok^ for a considerable lengtft of time one 
t6n\Tnon languagd. That the Idumaeans, however, and 
the Temanites in particular, were eminent for the repu- 
tation of wisdom, ap))ears by the testimohy of the proph- 
ets, Jeremiah and Obadiah:* Baruch also particularly 
mentionis them amongst ** the authors (or expounders) 
df fabtes, artd searcheVs out of understanding,^* The 
teamed are very much divided in their sentiments con- 
cerning the author of this book. Our Lightfoot con- 
jectures, that it is the production of £lihu ; and thi^ 
Conjecture seems at first sight rather countenanced by 
thte exordiuhi td the first Speech of Elihu,* in which hd 
^^eems to assume the character of the author, by contin- 
uing the narrative in has own person. That passdge^ 
fcowever, which appears to interrupt the speech of Eli- 
hu, and to be a part of the narrative, is, I apprehend, 
nothing more than an apostrophe to Job, or possibly to 
himself ; for it manifestly consists of two distichs, while," 
on the contrary, it is well known that all the narrativei 
parts, all in which the aothor himself appears are cer- 
tiainly written in prose. Another opinion, which has 
been still more generally received, attributes the work 
to Moses. This conjecture, however, for I cannot dig- 
nify it with any higher appellation, will be found to rest 
altogether upon another, namely, that thb poem wa» 
originally a consolatory address to the Israelites, aiid an' 
allegorical representation of their situation : and I must 
confess, lean scarcely conceive any thing more futile thanr 
such an hypothesis, since it is impossible to trace, 
throughout the whole book, tlie slightest allusion to the 

^JauxUx.7. Ob a; 8. » Bawcb iil 32, 33. « Job. ztxiL 15, 16; 


450 OF THE POEM OF JOB. Lect. «. 

manners, customs, ceremonies» or history of the Israd* 
ites. I will add, moreover, that the style of Job appears 
to me materially difierent from the poetical ^le of 
Moses 'r for it is much more compact, concise, or con- 
densedf. more accurate in the poetical conformation of 
the sentences : as may be. observed also in the prophe- 
cies of Balaam, the Mesopotamian, a foreigner indeed 
wifli respect to the Israelites, but neither unacquainted 
)i^^iih their language, nor with the worship of the true 
pud. I confess myself therefore, on the whole, more 
inclined to favour tlie opinion of those who suppose Job 
himself, or some contemporary, to be the author of this 
poem : for that it is the most ancient of all the sacred 
books, is, I think, manifest, from the subject, the lan- 
guuj^, the general character, and even from the obscu- 
rity of the work.' Concerning the time also in which 

* ' In opppslticm to th^imttqidtr of the poem,- and to wKat I have tirgef! 
alioire, t])«t it appears to have no connection with, or relaitum to th^ Mam 
of the Israelites, appeals have been made to Job xxxi. 38. See Jijree and 
tandid Ejraminafiim'o/ the Bithop of LondoiCt Seiftton^ ^n^nymout, p. 165^ 
In. which tli« author enquirca, ** In what nation upon earth idolatrr was 
ever accounted a crime but under the Jewish economy ?*' His argument is 
proposed as unanswerable^ and is thoupht to be sufficiently confirmed by 
the anttiont y of Mr Locke. I will however appeal to a hig^her authority 
thuii that of 1^h:kk, namely, that of reaaon and the siered .writings s and 
will answer the question in a few woids : under the Patriarchal Economy, 
in evei^' tribe and family under Abraham, Melchizt^deck, Job, and the rest. 
0a \M mcitnse of idolatry Abraham was called by the divine command 
fjom^Cbaldfifty to the end, that frmn him shotild proceed a nation sepiSrate 
from all others, who should worship the true God, should afford, a peHtct 
example of pure rcl.gion, and bear testimony against the worship of rain 
gods. IWaa U not, thsrefin-e, tlie.du^ of Abraliam, who in Ms own tribe 
or fMfaJly ixisjiessed al^ the attributes #f sovsreignty, to punish idolatry as 
Well as hutpicide, adultery, or other heinous crimes ? Was it not the duty 
of Melc^-^^deck; of Job, of all thbse patriarchal princes, who regarded 
t^nvbnliip bf the tnis God» sedulously .to prevent evexy defection from 
it ; to restrain Chose who were di^iescd to forsake it, and to punish the 
obstinate aixl the nrbcUious ? In fact, in this allusion to the exertion of the 
judicial' authority .Hgainst idolatry, and against the particular species which 
is mcniti'xicd here, fiumcly, the worship of the sun and moon (the carlttst 

Lect, 32- OF THE POEM OF JOB. 4st 

Job lived» although not directly specified, I see no great 
reason for doubt. The length of his life evinces that fili 
was before Moses, and probably contemporary With^tlie 
patriarchs. Not however to dwell upon the innumeta- 
ble hypotheses of the learned on this subject, I will onl/ 
mention, that there is the utmost probability of his havi 
ing lived prior to the promulgation of the law, from thi 
nature of the sacrifice which he institutes conformably 
to the command of God, namely, seven oxen and seveii 
rams: for it is plain from the example of Balaam/ that 
a respect for that number prevailed in those countries^ 
and at that period, from the traditional accounts which 
were still preserved'among them of the seven days of crel 
ation.^ Tiic truth of the narrative would never, I ani 

•peciet of idoUtr>') coiialsU the raostcoaqtletepfopf pf tbeftfkt^uityiof.tlie 
poem, and the decisive mark of the patriarchal age. But if^ it should be 
•uspected» that the ingenuity of the poet might l^ad him tcNuoitate witU 
yccurac^ tlie manners of the age which he describes, this indeed, would be 
more to the purpose» and a more plausible argument against the Aotiquit/ 
of the poem : but I cannot possibly attribute such address and refinement 
to a poet in a barbarous age ; and after the Babylonish captivity. Fuifther 
than this» the style of the poem favours altogether of the antique s inso- 
much, that whoever could suppose it written after the Babylonish captivi^ 
ty» would fall little short of the error of Hardouin, who ascribed the gold» 
en verses of Virgil, Horace, &c. to the iron age of monkish pedantry, and 

With regard to the other difficulty, the solution of which appears so em* 
barrassing, namely» how any person not acquunted with the Jewish econ- 
omy could assert, that ** God visits the sins of the fathers upon the chil-. 
dren," Job xxi. 19 \ Let the candid obwerver for the present content hinvr 
9elf with this verse of Horace. 

" Delicta niajorum immeritB» Inea, 

•• Bomane."-^— ^ 

*« Though guiltless of thy father's crimes, 

'* Roman, 'tis thine, to latest times, 

** The vengeance of the gods to bear." — ^FaAWcrf . 

^uthof^t JV'oto. 
• Job xlii. 8. Compare Numb, xxiii. 1, &c. 

There seems to be but little weight in this reasoning, because Job, as an 
Idumseiui^ mi|[^ht have been a worship[>er of the true God, like Balaam the 

4S2 OF THE POEM OF JOl^ Lsct. 92, 

persui^d^ b^vie been called in question^ bujt from ihf 
iromoderate affection of some alle^rizing m^'ctics for 
their own fictions» which run to such excess, as to pre- 
vent them from acceding to any thV^g but what was 
visionary and typical. When I speak of the poem a^ 
founded in fact, I ^yould be understood no further than 
ppncerns the jgenera^ sujbject of tl^e narrative, for I ap- 
prehend all the dviilogue, and most likely some olt^r 
par;^, hav^ paft^l^^n largely of tt^e embellishments of 
poejtr^' ; but I pannot allow that this has by any meam 
extended so far as to convjert the whole into an allegory, 
jlndeed I have n^it been able to trape any vestige of an 
allegorical meaning throughout the entire poem. An4 
should evpn the c:fprjdium be spspectcd to be of this 
nature/ we must recollect, that the historical books are 
not destitute of similar narratives.* The exordium and 

Mesopotumian i and tlierefore, tliougb the law had been j^iFeii to the Isra- 
elites, continued, notwithstanding^, to offer sacrifice according to the tn<« 
diticmo/y mode of his pro^nitors. S. H. 

\ T 49% i< O9 ftiC. ii« I9 &c« ComjMre I Kik«8 xxii. 19—23. 

* It has long^ been a dispute among the learned, whether the poen of Joh 
consists of fable or a true history : this question, if authority alone be ap.* 
|>lied to, must long since have been decided in faTOur of those who assert 
it to be a real history. 

With me I confess, on the other hand* it is no longer matter of opinion, 
but I feel very little doubt that the subject of the Poem is altogetho* faba« 
lous, and designed to teach us that *' the rewards of virtne being in another 
^ state, it is very possible for the good to suffer afflictions in this life : 
*' but that when it so happens, it is permitted by Providence for the wis« 
** est reasons, though they may not be obvious to human eyes." But be» 
fore I proceed to examine the grounds of this opinion, it may be necessary 
to premise a few remarks in reply to those who may think the divine au* 
thority of the book afTected by the supposition of its not being founded la 
fact. For my own part, 1 cannot conceive that the sanctity, the dignity, or 
the utility of that book will be in the least affected, though we should sttp« 
pose no such person as Job iiad ever ei^istect 

If moral precepts, conveyed in the garb of fabulous narrations, allure the 
hearers by the pleasure they afford, if tht^y strike the mind more forcib^» 
are moie easily understood, and better retained than abstract sentimentSi^ 

Lkct. 9$. or TVS POSM OF JO». 459 

coRclttw>n J i\gpe^ 4m& distinct frpm the pono itself» and 
stap4 in .tbp piai^ of w «ni^meiit or lUu&triaLiiion ; ihat 

I see no reason why this mode of writinj^ should be deemed unworthy of 
mspiration. Indeed, on the contrary, we find it made use of hy Christ him- 
self, nor does it at all derogate from his force as a moral teacher, that the 
good Samaritan, the rich man and Lazarus, &c. were not real persons. 

I shall not however rest here ; for I assert further, that the book of Job 
is more instructive as a fkble» than it could possibly be as a true history. 
Taken as a mere relation of a matter of fact, it is necessary to suppose that 
the sentiments and conversations are exhibited exactly as they were spok- 
en, and are the sentiments of mere mortals not actuated by the Spirit of 
God ; for we find that God has reproved both Job and his firiends as being 
severally mistaken. It would then be impossible to determine what was 
true or what false ; no doctrine of religion, no precept of morality, could 
yrith certainty be deduced from these conversations. In the whole book, 
the historical part (and how short is that !) and the words attributed to 
God himself would be alone divine, or of divine authority, the rest would 
\)e all human. Considered as a fable, the case is different. The author, 
composing under the influence of divine inspiration, we may reasonably 
suppose has attributed to the fictitious characters, such sentiments as wer^ 
proper and natural to their state and circumstances : we have then, in the 
first plac^ a picture of the human mind drawn by the finger of God ; and 
in the next, we may rest satisfied that Job and his friends err only in the 
principal matter upon which they dispute, and only on the points for which 
God has reproved them ; but that whatever is said exclusive of this is 
founded on divine truth ; such is the mention of the angels by Eliphaz, 
god the assertion of Job, that there is none pure among mortals. Fmally, 
we are by these means enabled both to determine what are the sentiments 
which immediately meet with the approbation of God, and what are the 
errors which are intended to be exposed. An able writer in dialogue never 
fails to discover his own sentiments : as from tlie books of Cicero on the 
futiuro of the God», we may collect with ease what the author thought, 
or rather doubted upon the subject, which would have been unpoasibie, if 
lie had only reported the actual words of the philosophers who are sup[>osed 
to have conversed on that subject 

I will now proceed freely to explain what at first I undertook to prove 
eoDceming the book in question. It is surely more becommg to consider 
the exordium, in which Satan appears as the accuser of Job, rather in the 
lig^t of a fable than of a true narrative. It is surely incredible, that such 
S conversation ever took place between the Almighty and Satan, who is 
si4)posed to retuin with nevf$ from the terrestrial regions. Indeed, the 
commentators who have undertaken to vindicate this part of the book,. 
have done it with so much asperity, that they seem conscious of the diffi- 
culty under which it labours. 

Kor will it suffice to answer as some temperate and rational commenta- 

454 OP THE POEM OF JOB. Lkct. 32. 

they are however coeval with the poetical part, and the 
work of the same author, is evident, since they are in- 

tor» like ear author, probably will, and indeed as he himself hints : that 
the great outline of the fact only is true ; and that the exordium is set off" 
with some poetical ornaments» among which is to be accounted the con- 
Tcrsation between God and Satan. For on this very conversation the 
whole plot is founded, and the whole story and catastrophe depends. One 
of the best of men is tlirown into so many unexpected and undeserved 
evils» that neither he nor his adversaries are able to conceive how it can 
be consistent with a benevolent being, to plunge a good man into so great 
afflictions : nor has God condescended to explain the motives of it to them» 
but reproves them all for investigating matters beyond their raach. But 
the author of the book undoes the knot which Is left unresoived in these 
conversations» and gives the reader to understand how indifferently those 
reason concerning the Divine Providence» and the hi^piness or misery of 
mankmd, wlio are only partially informed of causes and events. The Al- 
mighty acts for the honour of Job» of human nature» and of piety itself; 
he permits Job to be unhi^py for a time, and refutes the accusations of 
Satan even by the very means which be himself pointed out. Suppose» 
therefore, that what is thus related of Satan be fictitious, and all the rest 
true» instead of the difficulty being done away» the coniM^uence will be» 
that the whole plot remains without any solution whatever. What our 
author has added concerning one of the liistorical books of Scripture» in 
which a similar passage occurs» 1 Kiires xxii. 19—93» appears not at all 
to the purpose. It is not a history related by the author» nor does the 
author speak in his own person» but a prophet explains a vision which he 
has had. But those who suppose the book of Job to be founded upon fact» 
allow tliat the historian speaks in the first and second chapters» who» if he 
did invent» would certainly» one would think, take that liberty only in 
matters which did not affect the great scope of the history, and not in a 
matter which» if it be supposed fictitious» reduces the whole book to noth- 

Moreover» the style of the whole book being poetical» and so sublime» 
that 1 defy any man to imitate it in any extempore effusion» is an irrefra- 
gable proof in favour of my opinion. Our author indeed pleads a very spe- 
cious excuse ; he thinks that the conversation and speeches of the different ' 
characters have been poetically ornamented. And this argument 1 do not 
wish to confute. There ai« however others who defend the historical 
truth of the poem in a manner not quite so modest Among the rest» the 
famous ScauLTXHs alledges it not to be incredible» that these are the actual 
words of the disputants, if we consider the amazing faculty which the 
Arabians possess of making extempore verses. In answer to this, I must 
confess, that all he can urge on this subject will never persuade me» that 
poetry» which is confessedly superior to all that human genius has been 
able to produce» is nothing more tlum an extempore effusion. Indeed 

LscT» 33. OF THE POEM OF JOB. 455 

dispeo^lf necessary to the unravelling of the plot« 
which is not developed in the body of the poem. There 

nothing can be more ridiculous» than to suppose men in circumstances of 
so great distress, in the midst of difficulties and afflictions» capable of 
amusing themselves with making extempore verses. 

These objections which I have just stated are well known to the com* 
mentators : but there are others not quite so common, which induce me to 
suppose the subject of this poem not historical but fabulous. So many 
round numbers and multiplications of them occur in the life of Job» as to 
he quite incompatible with mere chance. Ten children perish, teven ^ns 
(which though it be not a round number, is yet held sacred and mysteri- 
ous by the Orien^ls) and three daughters : 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 1000 
oxen, and exactly half the number of asses. In lieu of these there are res* 
tored to^ him, 14,000 sheep, 6000 camels, 2000 oxen, and 1000 asses, ex* 
actly th| duplicate of the former numbers s together with exactly the same 
number of children as he had lost, seven sons and three daughters, and 
these from one wife. The same principle is found to extend to the yean 
of Job's prosperity, which are multiplications of the number 70, These 
circumstances betray art and fiction in the narrator, who has introduced 
these round numbers which we know are the first to present themselves to 
the mind : it bears no appearance of chance or casualty, which, when it 
predominates in a series of events, produces a wonderful variety, but very 
little of regularity or equality. The name of Job too, which in the Arabic 
means returning to God, and loving him, and hating whatever is contrary 
to him, is so adapted to the character of his latter years, that we can never 
suppose it a name given to him by his parents, but invented by the author 
of the story. 

A fourth argument is, that the scene is laid in Arabia, yet the poem a- 
bounds so much in imagery borrowed from Bgypt, that it is plain that coun« 
try must hiive been extremely well known to the author, and indeed pre* 
dominant in his mind, as I have endeavoured to prove in a Dissertation re- 
cited before the R. S. of Gottingen. 

But the most powerful of all proofs is, that some things appear in th^ 
book of Job which could not possibly have place in a true history. At a 
period when the longevity of the patriarchs was reduced within tlie limit 
of two hundred years. Job b said to have lived 140 years afler his malady* 
and therefore could not be very ancient when he fell into this malady t 
nevertheless he upbraids his friends with their yuih (who by the way co\dd 
not be very young, since Elihu in xxxii. 6, 7, 9. reverences their hoary age) 
and adds, that " he would have disdained to set their /aihert with the dogs 
** of his flock,'* ch. XXX. 1. But what is more extraordinary, these same 
men boast of their own age, and seem to exact a degree of reverence from 
Job as their junior : thus Eliphaz, chap. xx. 10, " With us are both the 
" grey-headed and the very aged men much older than thy father.** These 
passages» therefore, so directly contradict each other, that they cannot be 

4^ or tH% tOtHf &f ioM. Uiet. «h 

are, it ts truv, phrases extant in the eyditfinm, inl which' 
some critics hiive preterided to discovei' die hand of H 

eonnected^trit^ trtie hi«bry. fhe dpprbbriam which ht caste updtt the birfli 
#f hit frieridfl se^iHB' afeo an inconsitftency, ch. xlx. 1—^. as it U incredible» 
that BO noble and rich a' ifiail should ever have chosen' hli fiiends from the' 
meanest of the pec^'lc- 

ft i^mains only to* remove oMe objection, with #hich those who contendf 
Ibr the historical tfuih of the book of Job may press us. Job is quoted b/ 
fizetiel aton^ with Nbah and Daniel, \^hoin we know to have been real 
IkfBons, and they at^ proposed by James as an example of patienbe» Bstc 
tiv. 14, 20. JaiTbs v. 11. as if it were improper or indecent to recoilimendf 
the viitues of 'fictitious characters to our imitation, or as if this were nit' 
in &ct the end of dellrtetting such characters. Neither is there the lesst' 
impit)prlety in irtstanclnii^'the same virtues in real and fictitioui characters. 
Suppose a fiither to recommend to his daughters the ekampleri of Lucretia 
and Pamela, as models of chastity and virtue, who wduld eftteeih such a 
discourte reprehensible, or think that it dther todk from the tmth of the 
iTistofy, or give* a reality tb the fiction f 

To retam to the point fh>m which we set out : this poem seemi to treat 
df the afRictloii which may sometimes happen to good men, at the same 
tf me that the tfuthor seemb tb wish to accommodate the consolation tb the 
people of God, and to represent theii* oppression and«i' the character of 
Job. Tb this opinion it is objected by our author, that there appears 
ifotbing in the book like an allusion to the manners, rites, of afTairs of the 
rsraelites. Of the latter I shall treat, when we conlie to spetk of the ap- 
]llicatJon of this poem to the history of the Israelites. As to the manners, 
they are what I call ^&roAaiNJc, or such as were at that period common to 
<nthe seed of Abraham at that time, fsrielites, Ikhnkadites, and fdamsans. 
But perhaps it may be thouj^t nc^cessary to instance those customs which 
Were peculiar tb the Israditer, and by which they were distinguished from 
the Arabians : this, howevef, would not display much judgement in the 
author of a poem, the scene of which lies in ArabU ; besides, that most of 
tSie peculiar customs of the Israelites, those I mean which distinguished 
them from the other descendants of Abraham, were either dh*ived fit>m the' 
Egyptians, or Were taught them by Moses : and who would require, that' 
■uch things as the paschal lamb, and ^e Mosaic ftauta and priesthood, 
should be mtroduced into such t poem f The frequent allusions however 
tb the comitry and the productions of Bgypt abundantly answer this objeC- 
don. Inlonrach, that though the scene is laid in Arabia, one tiDuld im- 
agine the actori had been Egyptians. Kor are there wanting^ allusions to 
the cfatutnstances of the Israelites These like' Job lost their children and 
possessions by the tyranny of Pharkoh : and, if I am not mistaken, the dis- 
eUse is the same which affected Job, wKh that which prevailed amoi)^ the 
Egyptians by the command of Moses. 

From these eirtmutaneev I «to much iilclaBel to the opmkm wUeh at* 

LttT. $». Of THE PO£M OF JOB. 4^7^ 

btfer writrr ; the aipiments, however» of these critics I 
cinnot esteem of any great force or importance. 

tributes this book to Moses. For is it to be imagined, that a native of 
Humxa should crowd his poem with images and figures borrowed from 
lftg>-pt ? Or what natiTe of Arabia (for it must be allowed that the book of 
Job has some allusions peculiar to Arabia) was so likely to intermingle the 
Imagery of both countries as Moses ? To these may be added the allusions 
to the itUt of the bleated, which are «ommon to the book of Job and the 
Mosaic writings. I am well aware that there is more of the tragic, more 
of strong poetic feeling in this book, than in the other relics of Mosaic 
poetry, which has induced our author to remark the discrepancy of style. 
But how different are the language and sentiments of a man raging in the 
heighu of despair, from those which are to be sung in the temple of God f 
Vfe must also remember, that the poetic style of an author in the flower of 
his youth is very different from that of his latter days. If Moses were 
really the author of this poem, he composed it about the age of forty years ; 
but the rest of his poems Were written between the 85th and 120th year 
ef his age ; at which period I am often surprized to meet with so much 
vigour of lang^ag^ and sentiment : and no other difference of style have I 
been able to discover. M. 

If I might flatter myself that the reader would not be wearied with re- 
plications and rejoinders, 1 would request his attention to a few animadver- 
sions on these remarks of the Gottingen professor. For though I thought it 
my duty to state his arguments as fully as I could, consistently with the 
limits of this work, I must confess that I do not myself feel by any means 
eonvinoed ; nor dare I venture to affirm, upon any such presumptive proofs» 
that the book of Job is altogether fabulous. I think it by no means follows, 
that bccaose a book contains some things which may with propriety be 
termed poetical fictions, it has no foundation whatever in fact The poems 
ef Homer contain more fictions of this kind than any conunentator has pre- 
tended clearly to discover in the book of Job : and yet no sober critic ham 
denied, that there ever waa such an event as the Trojan war, on which 
those poems are founded. 

I cannot help thinking with our author, that such a man as Job might 
TTCfy possibly have existed, and that the leading facts concerning his sud* 
den depression and consequent misfortunes might really have happened; 
and yet that the poet, in relating these facts, may have added such machine- 
ly, and other poetical ornaments, as appeared necessary to enliven the story, 
and illustrate the moral. Though we should not contend with the learned 
professor for the literal acceptation of the exordium ; though we should 
even admit with him, that it is not probable any such conversation ever 
took place between the Almighty Governor of the universe and the great 
enemy of mankind, as is related in the first chapter ; yet it by no means 
fbllows, that the inspired writer had no grounds whatever for what he de- 
icribes perhaps poetically. The manner in whifih the Deity and the other 

45r OF THE POEM OP JO». Lmt. »• 

That these points should be accounted of a vety aiiii- 
biguous nature» and should cause much embarrassment 

eelestiftl intelligences are spoken of in this poem appears necessary, ^ 
ibe human mind is called upon to contemplate their actions, and maj he 
considered as a kind of personification in accommodation to our limited 
ikculties, and is common in many other parts of Scripture. 

With regard to the objection founded on the round numbers» I think it 
Tcry weak when applied to the children of Job : and aa to the cattle, tJ|e 
cTent being recorded some time after it took place, it is hardly reasonable 
to expect tbat the numbers should be specified with the utmost exactness : 
indeed nothing can be more awkward or ungraceful, in a poetital nanv 
tion, than to descend to units i and when the numbers are doubled at the 
conclusion, I look upon it as no more than a periphrasis, expressing, that 
the Lord gave to Job twice as much as he had before. 

As to the name : it is well known, that all the names of the ancient» 
Were derived from some distinguishing quality, and not always given at 
their birth as with us. (See Etsays Hittorical and Moral, Ess. vi. p. 119.) 
Nay, the objection, if admitted, would strike at the authority of a consider- 
able part of holy writ ; for not only many of the persons recorded there 
take their names from circumstances which occurred late in life, but, in 
some instances, from the very circumstances of their deaths, as «f M from 
Mabal (vanity or nothingness) because he left no offspring. 

There appears at first sight something more formidable in the argument 
founded on the inconsistencies which he boasts of having detected ; never- 
theless, I can by no means grant it all the credit which its author seems to 
claim. Both the expressions of Elihu, and those of the other friends aie 
very general, «and I think improperly applied by the professor : for the pas- 
sage referred to, ch. xv. 10. by no means proves that the friends of Job were 
older than he : ''with w, or ameng" uf," seems to imply no more than this, 
** older persona than either you or we« are vitktu, or of our aentiments.** 
Still more general is the complaint of Job, ch xxx. 1. indeed so general, 
that to a fair examiner it is impossible it should appear to have any rela» 
tton at all to the friends of Job, as he is simply complaining of hb altered 
state» and among other evils mentions the loss of that respect wliich he was 
accustomed to receive from all ranks of people, insomuch, that now even 
the youti^t the childreny presume to hold him in der^ion. t*he other argn«^ 
ment is by no means conclusive, namely, that which is founded on the sup- 
posed opprobrium on the birth of his friends, as really I cannot conceive 
any part of this speech to have the least reference to them ; or if it have, it 
is easy enough to suppose, that their fathers or tliemselves might havebeett 
raised to opulence from a mean station ; and indeed such a supposition is 
absolutely necessaiy to give any point to the sarcasm of Job, admitting 
that ;t ought to be understood In the light our commentator seems to in^ 
tend. T. 

T,gfT. BOi ag THE POEM OP JOB; 41» 

and coanoven^ intbe learned world, it noAIng eti/tn^^ 
mlinary ; hut that tlic main object and design of the 
poem ahotikl ever have been called in ({uestion, may 
justly excite our astoniahmefll. For though many pas- 
sages be confessedly obscure, though \ben be several 
which I fear no human skin will ever be able to unrav- 
el; and jdKH^h the obscurii^ consist chieiy in the con- 
neetioa of the incidents and the sentiments, it by no 
rooms necessarily follo\vs, that the whole is involved in 
impenetrable daBkncs& The case indeed is far other- 
wise, £Dr one and the same lights though at intervals o- 
vercast, shines on through the whole^ and, like a coii- 
duotiiigstar, unifomily leads to the same point* If then 
any person will follow thb guidance without perplexing 
bimadf with obscurities which he will oocasionally meet, 
I have very bitle doubt but that he will clearly disceiR 
the end^ the subject, the connection, and arrangement 
^ the whole work, it will, perhaps, be worth whUe to 
put to trial the efficaey of this maxim : let us, therefore, 
for .the present, pass over Uiose obscurities which might 
iiApcde our progress ; and, making the best use of those 
lights which are ai&irded by the more obvious passages, 
pcoceed with an attentive ey^ through the whole of the 
work, and observe whether something satisfiiotory is not 
to be discoveiped rebding to the subject of the narrative, 
and (the design and iatait of the poem. 

The. principai object held forth to our oontemplation 
in this production is the example of a good man, emi- 
nent for Us piety, and of approved integrity, suddenly 
precipitated from the very summit of prosperity into the 
lowest depths of misery and ruin : who having been 
first bereaved of his wealth, his possessions, and his 
ohildren, is aftorwards afflicted with the most excruciat- 
ing anguish of a loathsome disease which endrcly cov- 

4M or THE POEM OF JOB. Lact. «i. 

ms his body. He sttstaitu all however with the i 
mbmission, and the most compfete resignation to the 
will of Providence : ^^ In all thk," aays the historian» 
*^ Job sinned not» nor charged God fooKshiy."^ And 
after the second trial* '* In all diia did not Job m wkh 
^* his lips.'*^^ The author of the history remarks upon 
this circumstance a second time* in order to excite the 
«hservation of the reader, and to render him more at» 
tentive to what follows, which properly . constitutes the 
true subject of the poem : namety, the conduct of Job 
with respect to his reverence fcr die Almighty, and the 
changes which accnmulating misery might produce in 
his temper and behavidur. Accordingly we find that 
another still more exquisite trial of his patience yet 
awaits him, and which indeed^ as the writer seems to 
intimate, he scarcely appears to have sostained with 
equal firmness, namely, the unjust suspicions, the bitter 
reproaches, and the vic^nt altercations of hb friends, 
who had Tisited.him on the pretence of affisrding conso^ 
lation« Here commences the plot or action of the Po^ 
em ; for when, after a kx^ silence of ail parties, the 
grief of Jcb breaks forth, into passionate exclamations, 
and a vdiement execration on therday of his biitfa ; ihq 
mii)ds of his fiiends areisoddenly.exaspemted, their in* 
tentipna ace changed^ and their consdhitinn, if indeed 
they originally inlmded any, is oonveetediotocontnaae- 
ly and .rtpraachts. The. first of these ^hree singular 
Qoaftforters reproves hb impatienoc; «eatb in question 
bis integrity,, by indirectly insiniaixng that God. does 
not inflict siich punishments upon the nghteous ; ao4 
fimJly, admonishes: hioii that the chastisenient of God 
is not to be despised. The next of them, not less in^ 
teinperate in his leproofs, takes it for granted, that thQ 

JU«v. 9SU or TKK VDKM 09 KHU 411 

ebidbnen of lob had oidjr. recdved the reward dte to didr 
o&iijoea ; and with regifttd to himsdf, inttiMtes, that if 
he be.inaooeiit, and will appty with proper humitity to 
fba divine mcfcy, he inajr be restoted.. The third up- 
braida him with afrogtoce, with vanitjr^ and ewn with 
£daehoodf because he lias prcsuined to defeod himself 
against the oa^ust apcuaataons of his GOmpainoiis ; and 
exhorts hhii to a sounder mode of leaamingand a more 
holy lifeu ^They att, wilh:afiian%st^ though imfoeot 
aUnaicMi-toi Jpbi dtaoonrae very copnnify concerning the 
divine judgBnenta which are akwagra openly di^layed 
i^punat/the wieked» ami of (the certain destrnctioa of 
hypocritical p reta ndc cs to viitne and «eligion. In reply 
to this; Job erauneratea hia auftrings^. and com^aina 
bitierly of the inhumanity of hia friends, and cif the se- 
verity wiiicb he has experienced from the hand of God ; 
he calls to witness both God and man, that he is unjustw 
ly oppreaaed ; be intsmates^ ^t he is wuk-in compar- 
iaon.witfa God, tlMtlhe contention' is c<»arqiiem)y une- 
qual^ and. that be hia cause.ever ao rig^rteoua he cannot 
hope to pmvaiL He espoatwhites Mcith God hinaaeif 
still more Yehemently,. aod> with greater freedom, affirm* 
iog, that he dors not^disciimmate characters, but equal* 
ly afiicts the just* and the unjust. 1^ expostuhtions 
of Job serve only to irrttate.atitt inoDC the lesentment of 
hb pretended friends ; . they reproach him in aeveren 
terms with pride, iro^efy^- passion, andmiaiineaB} th^ 
repeat the same aig:ttmeirts reapecting'the justice of God, 
the . punishment of the wicked, and their celtaiodestruc% 
tion after a dmrt period of ap^ent fvosperity* This 
smtiment diey confidently pranotmde to be confirmed 
both by their experience and by that of their fiithers i 
and they maliciously exaggerate the ungrateful- topic; 
\>Y ^ almost splendid imagery and the most forcible Ihq^ 

4«a OF THE FORM OP JOB^ Lkct. ». 

guagc On the pvtof Job* the genexil «cope of ibe 
argumoit is much the same as before, but the cx|»re$- 
aion is considerably heigfaioied;. it oMaiata of appeab 
to the Almighty,. aaaeveratiaiia of Us oMna innocrnct, 
earnest expoatuhdona, complaints of the cruder of his 
friends, flMlanoholy reflactiopia oa the vanity of humlm 
Kfe, and upon his own severe nusfioitaqes, ending in 
grief and deaperation : he afirms^ however^ that ha 
places his uUmate hopeand confidence in God ; and 
the more vdieniendy his adwraariea ufge, that die 
wicke4 oriy are ofafeets of the dUvine wind», «nd c^ 
aoxioos to puniahment, ao moch the auire reaohitdy 
does Job aascit their peqpctual imponkjr, praqieriQr, 
and hfqppinesa eigcn to the cadi of their cxistmot." 'rhe 
first of his opponents, EUphaZj ineenaed by this asser^ 
tion, deacends directly to qpin oriminationand conto- 
ndy I he acouaes the moatttpright of men of the most 
atrocioua crimes, of injuaiice, rapine, and oppression ; 
inveighs against him as an impious ptetender to virtne 
and religion, and with a kind c€ oarcaadc benevolence 
exhoru turn to pcnitcnoe. Vehemently afiqcted wid» 
this reproof. Job, in a still more animated aad confident 
stmip, appeals to the tribunal^ All-aeeing. Joatioei and 
wishes it were ody pennitted him to piesid his cauae m 
die presence of God UmseUl He compbina still more 
intemperately of the unequal treaitmcnt of Providence ; 
exults in hb own integrity, and t^ more tenacioudy 
mainfaias his former opi^uon conoeming die impunity 
of the wicked. To diis another of the triumvirate, Bil- 
dad, replies, by a masterly, though concise dissertadon 
#a the mqeafy.and aandi^ erf the Divine Being, indi- 

11 Chap. xxL and xxir. «re indeed obscure ; the opinionp howeTer, of 
Schultcns on this subject appears to me more than probable. 

. Aiahm^i JVWe: 

LteT. n. OP THE POEM OF JOB. 469 

TbtHy rebuUng the pretumptioh of Job; who has^ared 
to quertkm his decrees* In reply to Bitdad^ Job de* 
m6nstfatcs himsdf no less expert at wielding the treapohi 
of satire and riditonle, than those of reason and argument i 
and reverlang to a more serious tone, he displays the in- 
fimle power and wisdom of God more copiously, and 
more poetieatt)r than the foniiei- speaker. The Hwd trf^ 
file fiends iMkiiig no retorA, and the oAers remaining^ 
sHent, Jdb at kngth opens the tme sentiments of his 
htart cofloemhig the £ite of the wicked ; he allows that 
their prosperi^ is unstaUe, and that they and thfcir dt* 
scen da nts shall at last experienee on a sudden, that Godf 
b the avenger of iniquity. In all tiiis, howerer, he coni> 
tends that the divine counsels do not admit of humair 
investigation ; but that the chief wisdom of man consist 
in the feat of God. He beautifully descants upon lus 
fortner prosperity ; and exhibits a striking conthist ht^* 
tween it and his present affliction and debasement* 
Lastly, in answer to tinii crimination of Eliphaz and tiie 
implications of tiie others, he relates the principal trans«* 
actiCMis of his past life ; he asserts his integri^ as dis^ 
phyed in dl the duties of life, and in the siglit of God 
and man ; and agsun appeals to the justice and omnis* 
eience of God in attestation of his veracity. 

If these circumstances be fiuriy cdlected from die 
genoal tenour and series of the work, as &r as we are 
aUe to trace them through the |riainer and more con- 
spicuous passages, it will be no very difficult task to ex-^ 
f^ab and define thti^bject of tiiis part of the poem^* 
whidi contains the dispute between Job and hisfriendis« 
The argument seems chiefly to relate to die piety and 
integrity of Job, and turns upon this point, whetiier he» 
who by the divine providence and visitation is so severe» 
ly punished and afflicted, ought to be accounted pious 

tf4 or THE POEIIf Of JOl;* LiitT. at« 

and ifmocenf. This leads into a more extenshre fidd 
of controversy, into a dispute indeed, which less admits 
of any definition or limit, concerning the nature of the 
^vine counsels, in the dispensations of happiness and»