Page images
[blocks in formation]

Dr Samuel Woodford, born at London in 1636, and educated at Wadham College, Oxford, was originally intended for the bar; and, during his sojourn in the Inner Temple, he occupied the same chambers with the poet Flatman. After the Restoration, he took orders, and was presented to the rectory of Hartley-Maudet, in Hampshire. He died in 1700.

The style of Woodford's Paraphrase-a quarto, published in 1668-is free, ambitious, and Pindaric-looking; but, like Merrick, in the following century, he often enfeebles the text by an excessive expansion.

Psalm vi.


Lord, in Thy wrath rebuke me not,

Nor in Thy fury chasten me

For such weak things that furnace is too hot,
And by my clay no more endured can be
Than my injustice and repeated wrongs by Thee.


Uphold me, Lord, for I am weak,

Whilst Thou Thy hand doth on me lay;

My bones are shaken, and my heart will break :
Heal me with speed, and take Thy hand away,

Or let me know how long, and I'll with patience stay!


Return, and for Thy mercy sake

My soul from this affliction save!

Oh, now some pity on Thy servant take,

For Thou in death canst not Thy praises have,
But they and I shall be forgotten in the grave!


I weary out the day with sighs,

And when that's done, the night with tears; So vast a deep comes rolling from my eyes,

That down its tide my bed it almost bears;

Yet, though it wash my couch, it cannot drown my fears.


My eyes are hollow and decayed,

And from their windows hardly see;

Quite buried in the graves my tears have made,

They only shew where they were wont to be,
So that, what age to others, grief has done for me.


But hold; why do I thus complain

Like one whom God does never hear?

For God has heard me, and I'll pray again.

Avoid profane, avoid, least, while you 're near,

That wickedness, which hardens yours, should stop His ear!


The Lord has heard me, and my tears

Have found acceptance in His eyes;


My sighs already have blown o'er my fears,

And scatter'd with their breath my enemies.

So let them fly with shame all who against me rise!



A less paraphrastic version was executed about the same time by Sir John Denham, although not published till 1714forty years after the author's death.* As might be expected from such a master of versification, many passages are distinguished by a pleasing melody; but its claims were not so dazzling or decisive, as to induce people to set aside in its favour the "New Version," sent forth by authority shortly before its publication.

Psalm cíí.

O Lord, receive my doleful cries,
Nor turn Thy face away,
But look upon my miseries,

And hear me when I pray.

When in my grief I Thee invoke,
Make me a quick return;

For all my days consume in smoke,
My bones to ashes burn.

My heart like wither'd grass seems dead,
My voice is lost in groans,

My flesh consum'd for want of bread,
And I can count my bones.
So walks the pelican distrest,

The bird of night so shrieks,

So the sad sparrow from his nest
His lost companion seeks.

All day my foe renews his threat,
Against my life he swears;

* Born at Dublin, 1615; died at London, March 1668.

Ashes instead of bread I eat,

And mix my drink with tears.
Only in wrath Thou didst me raise,
To throw me down again.
I, like a shadow, end my days,

Like grass that thirsts for rain.


If the Scotch version of the Psalms is English, the English version is Irish, in as far as both of its authors were natives of the sister isle.

Dr Nicholas Brady was born at Bandon, in the county of Cork, October 28, 1659, and after an education begun at Westminster School and Christ Church College, and completed at the University of Dublin, he became successively minister of St Catharine Cree, London, and Stratford-upon-Avon, and died rector of Clapham, as well as minister of Richmond, Surrey, May 20, 1726.

Nahum Tate, a native of Dublin, and son of a clergyman, was born 1652. What profession he followed, if any, does not appear, and although promoted to the rank of poetlaureate, his place in literature never was high. He died in deep poverty, at the Mint in Southwark, a place of refuge for debtors, Aug. 12, 1715.

The divine and the laureate together compiled the "New Version," now almost universally employed in the worship of the Church of England. Occasionally feeble, and never sublime, it is usually smooth and melodious, and its evenly cadence is not unfrequently relieved by some forcible turn or elegant expression; and, in order to appreciate it rightly, nothing more is needful than to compare it with the efforts of acknowledged masters of the lyre, few of whom, in this difficult enterprise, have been equally successful.



Psalm cxxxix.

Thou, Lord, by strictest search hast known
My rising up and lying down;
My secret thoughts are known to Thee,
Known long before conceiv'd by me.
Thine eye my bed and path surveys,

My public haunts and private ways;
Thou know'st what 'tis my lips would vent,
My yet unutter'd words' intent.

Surrounded by Thy power I stand,
On every side I find Thy hand:
O skill, for human reach too high!
Too dazzling bright for mortal eye!
O could I so perfidious be,

To think of once deserting Thee,
Where, Lord, could I Thy influence shun?
Or whither from Thy presence run?

If up to heaven I take my flight,

'Tis there Thou dwell'st enthroned in light;

Or dive to hell's infernal plains,

'Tis there Almighty vengeance reigns.

If I the morning's wings could gain,

And fly beyond the western main, Thy swifter hand would first arrive, And there arrest Thy fugitive.

Or should I try to shun Thy sight
Beneath the sable wings of night;
One glance from Thee, one piercing ray,
Would kindle darkness into day.
The veil of night is no disguise,

No screen from Thy all-searching eyes;
Thro' midnight shades Thou find'st Thy way,
As in the blazing noon of day.

Thou know'st the texture of my heart,

My reins, and every vital part;

« PreviousContinue »