« ForrigeFortsæt »
* In this manner the waves are tossed to and fro. “But what became of the men? They are disturbed “ and amused like drunken men, and all their wits “are fled. Such a force of tempest neither Homer
nor Virgil could equal in describing, nor with such
copiousness of expression. But what a calm suc“ ceeds? He ordereth the winds, and the waves are
silent. What can be inore gentle than their obe-“ dience, and their silence after such a storin? But
more, how great is the majesty of God in this de
scription ! He spoke, and the storm was allayed. “We have not bere Juno supplicating Æolus, nor
Neptune with a boisterous voice chiding the waves, “ and searce refraining his anger; all is done by one simple command.
God coinmands, and the sea swells, and is impetuous: the waves ascend to the heavens, and descend to the depth of the abyss. God speaks, and with a single word he changes the storm into a gentle breeze, and the tumultuous agitation of the waves into a deep silence. How strong! How various are these images ! THE SONG OF MOSES, AFTER HIS PASS
ING TIROUGII TIIE RED SEA, EXPLAINED ACCORDING TO TIIE RULES OF
RHETORIC. W'E owe the explication of this song to Jr. Fersan, formerly Rhetoric professor in the college Du Plessis. The reader may justly expect something excellent from his name and reputation. We have thought proper to change some few things in it, which the author would not disapprove, were he living.
MOSES's soxG. Ver. 1. I will sing unto the Lord: for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
Ver. 2. The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation : he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.
Ver. 3. The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is
Ver. 4. Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea; his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sca.
Ver. 5. The depth have covered them; they sank into the bottom as a stone.
Ver. 6. Thy right-hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power : thy right-hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.
Ver. 7. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.
Ver. 8. And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together : the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.
Ver. 9. The enemy said, I will pursuc, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil : my lust shall be satisfied upon them, I will draw my sword, inine hand shall destroy them.
Ver. 10. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.
Ver. 11. Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods ? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders ?
Ver 12. Thou stretchedst out thy right-hand, the earth swallowed them.
Ver. 13. Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guarded them in thy strenyth unto thy holy habitation.
Ver. 14. The people shall hear and be afraid : sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestine.
Ver. 15. Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed, the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon thein: all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.
Ver. 16. Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone : till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.
Ver. 17. Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in : in the sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.
Ver. 18. The Lord shall reign for ever and ever.
Ver. 19. For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots, and with his horsemen, into the sea; and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.
THE SONG OF MOSES EXPLAINED ACCORDING TO
THE RULES OF RHETORIC.
This excellent song may justly be considered as one of the most eloquent pieces of antiquity. The turn of it is great, the thoughts noble, the style sublime and magnificent, the expressions strong, and the figures bold; every part of it abounds with images that strike the mind, and possess the imagination. This piece, which some believe was composed by Moses in Hebrew verse, surpasses the most beautiful descriptions, which the heathens have given us in this way. Virgil and Horace, though the most perfect models of poetical eloquence, have not writ any thing comparable to it. No man can set a higher value than I do on those two great poets, and I studied them closc, with the utmost pleasure, for several years. Nevertheless, when I read what Virgil wrote in praise of Augustus, in the beginning of the third book of the [m] Georgics, and at the end of the eighth [n] Æneid; and what he makes the priest Evander sing, in the same book, in honour of Hercules; though those passages are vastly fine, they seem grovelling to [m] Ver. 16, 39.
[n] Ver. 675,728.
me in comparison with the song in question . Virgil methinks is all ice, Moses all fire. The same may be affirmed of the fourteenth and fifteenth odes of the fourth book, and the last of the epodes of Horace.
A circumstance which scems to favour these two poets, and other profane writers, is, that we find in them a cadence, a harmony, and elegance of style, which is not to be met with in the Scriptures. But then we commonly read them in a translation; and it is well known, that the best French translators of Cicero, Virgil, and Ilorace, distigure their authors very much. Now, the original language of the Scripture must be vastly eloquent, since there remains more in the copies of it, than in all the Latin works of ancient Rome, and the Greek ones of Athens. The Scriptures are close, concise, and void of foreign ornaments, which would only weaken their impetuosity and fire ; hate long perambulations, and reach the mark the shortest way. They love to include a great many thoughts in a few words; to introduce them as so many shafts ; and to make those objects sensible, which are the most remote from the senses, by lively and natural images of them. In a word, the Scriptures have a greatness, strength, energy, and majestic simplicity, which raise them above every thing in heathen Eloquence. If the reader will but give himself the trouble to compare the places above-cited from Virgil and Horace, with the reflection I shall now make, he will soon be convinced of the truth of what I say.
OCCASION AND SUBJECT OF THE SONG.
The great miracle which God wrought, when the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea. The prophet's view in it is, to indulge himself in his transports of joy, admiration, and gratitude, for this great miracle to sing tlie praises of God the deliverer, to offer up to him public and solemn thanks, and to inspire the people with the same sentiments. (0) Ver. 2870 302.
EXPLICATION OF THE SONG,
Ver. 1. I will sing unto the Lord : for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
Moses full of admiration, gratitude, and joy, could he possibly have better declared the emotions of his heart, than by this impetuous exordium, in which the lively gratitude of the people delivered, and the dreadful greatness of God the deliverer, are described ?
This exordium is the simple proposition of the whole piece. It is, as it were, the extract and point of sight, to which the several parts of the picture refer. This we must carry in our minds, as we read the song, to comprehend the artifice with which the prophet draws so many beauties, so much magnificence, from a proposition, which at first sight seems so simple and barren.
I will sing is much more energetic, more affecting, more tender, than it would be in the plural, we will sing. This victory of the Hebrews over the Egyptians is not like those common victories which one nation gains over another, and whose fruits are general, vague, common, and almost imperceptible to every individual. Here every thing is peculiar to every Israelite; every thing is personal. At this first instant, every one reflects on his own chains which are broken; every one imagines he sees his cruel master drowned; every one is sensible of the value of his liberty, which is secured to him for ever. For it is natural to the heart of man, in extreme danger, to refer every thing to himself, and to consider himself as every thing.
The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. This smgular, the horse, his rider, which includes the totality of horses and riders, is much more energetic than the plural would have been. Besides, the singular denotes much better the ease and suddenness of the drowning. The Egyptian cavalry was numerous, formidable, and covered whole plains. It would have required several days to have defeated and cut them