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EACH THING HURT OF ITSELF.
So fares the wit, when it walks abroad to do its business without the heart that should inspire it.
Here is one good stanza from his De Profundis :
But thou art good, and hast of mercy store ;
Thou not delight'st to see a sinner fall;
Thou hearkenest first, before we come to call ;
Thou art more prest to hear a sinner cry, ready.
Than he is quick to climb to thee on high.
Let faith and fear
True witness bear How fast they stand which on thy mercy stay. Here follow two of unknown authorship, belonging apparently to the same period.
THAT EACH THING IS HURT OF ITSELF.
Why fearest thou the outward foe,
When thou thyself thy harm dost feed ?
Within each thing is sown the seed.
No smith so hard his iron did beat,
Th' other with canker all to-freate.
Within doth eat the silly worm ;1
Always within it self doth burn.
Within itself his hurt doth bear !
Where enemies be within so near.
1 In Chalmers' English Poets, from which I quote, it is selly-worme ; but I think this must be a mistake. Silly would here mean weak.
Lest this poem should appear to any one hardly religious enough for the purpose of this book, I would remark that it reminds me of what our Lord says about the true source of defilement : it is what is bred in the man that defiles him. Our Lord himself taught a divine morality, which is as it were the body of love, and is as different from mere morality as the living body is from the dead.
TOTUS MUNDUS IN MALIGNO POSITUS.
The whole world lieth in the Evil One.
Complain we may; much is amiss ;
Hope is nigh gone to have redress;
Kind heart is wrapt in heaviness.
helm or rudder --- the The ship is given to wind and wave ; [thing to steer with. All help is gone, the rock present,
That will be lost, what man can save ? that which will be lost.
is not able.
Weeds may grow where good herbs cannot.
wiliness is counted Truth is folly, and might is right ;
[prudence. Words are reason, and reason is lies;
The bad is good, darkness is light.
Measure and mean who doth nor flee? who does not avoid
(moderation ? To seem is better than to be.
Folly and falsehood prate apace ;
Truth under bushel is fain to creep;
The mean, the best part, scant doth peep.
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION.
With floods and storms thus be we tost :
Awake, good Lord, to thee we cry;
Thy mercy help our misery.
Man's reason is blind these things t'amend:
Awake betimes, and help us send.
In thee we trust, and in no wight;
Save us, as chickens under the hen;
Glory to thee for aye. Amen.
The apprehensions of the wiser part of the nation have generally been ahead of its hopes. Every age is born with an ideal ; but instead of beholding that ideal in the future where it lies, it throws it into the past. Hence the lapse of the nation must appear tremendous, even when she is making her best progress.
SPENSER AND HIS FRIENDS,
We have now arrived at the period of English history in every way fullest of marvel—the period of Elizabeth. As in a northern summer the whole region bursts into blossom at once, so with the thought and feeling of England in this glorious era.
The special development of the national mind with which we are now concerned, however, did not by any means arrive at its largest and clearest result until the following century. Still its progress is sufficiently remarkable. For, while everything that bore upon the mental development of the nation must bear upon its poetry, the fresh vigour given by the doctrines of the Reformation to the sense of personal responsibility, and of immediate relation to God, with the grand influences, both literary and spiritual, of the translated, printed, and studied Bible, operated more immediately upon its devotional utterance.
Towards the close of the sixteenth century, we begin to find such verse as I shall now present to my readers. Only I must first make a few remarks
THE FAIRY QUEEN.
upon the great poem of the period : I mean, of course, The Faerie Queen.
I dare not begin to set forth after any fashion the profound religious truth contained in this poem ; for it would require a volume larger than this to set forth even that of the first book adequately. In this case it is well to remember that the beginning of comment, as well as of strife, is like the letting out of water.
The direction in which the wonderful allegory of the latter moves may be gathered from the following stanza, the first of the eighth canto:
Ay me! how many perils do enfold
The righteous man to make him daily fall ;
And steadfast Truth acquit him out of all !
Her love is firm, her care continual,
Or weakness, is to sinful bands made thrall :
Nor do I judge it good to spend much of my space upon remarks personal to those who have not been especially writers of sacred verse.
When we come to the masters of such song, we cannot speak of their words without speaking of themselves; but when in the midst of many words those of the kind we seek are few, the life of the writer does not justify more than a passing notice here.
We know but little of Spenser's history: if we might know all, I do not fear that we should find anything to destroy the impression made by his verse—that