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Whoso delights in the genuine character and force of his mothertongue, or wishes to feel what was the life of his ancestors in the fourteenth century, or by communion with poetry of morning freshness and purity to find recreation and strength, will become a loving student of Dan Chaucer.
The great hindrance to the popularity of Chaucer hitherto has been the frequency of obsolete words and the antiquated spelling, necessitating the diligent use of a Glossary. This objection is how- , ever, as far as possible diminished in Mr. Gilfillan's edition, by placing the Glossary in the margin, as before in the case of Spenser. With regard to the retention of the old words, the Editor justly remarks,“Unlike the text of Spenser, that of Chaucer cannot be remodelled, without affecting the integrity of the text, so as to afford the same facility of perusal as a modern publication; but few intelligent readers will be at a loss to follow the author readily, with the helps which this Edition affords.” We believe also that every intelligent reader will appreciate the taste which presents the text in integrity, without expurgation. On the whole, we think this Edition suited to do much in smoothing the general path to the desirable end of acquaintance with the noble old poet, who, in vigor and manifold genius, stands next to Shakspeare.
Among writers many may be admired, only a few can be loved ;ADDIson is one of the few. As the parlour is incomplete without the family portrait or the old familiar piece of furniture, so the bookshelf were strange if it lacked the dear old Spectator. If we do not ascribe to him genius of the first order, or assert his writing to be perfect, we are yet tender of his reputation and resent the exposure of his faults. This feeling, which originally respects the prose of Addison, is then extended to the poetry, which to subject to severe criticism were a kind of impiety. His Cato and other larger pieces may be seldom read, but the shorter strains of his chaste muse, ennobled and sanctified by that sacred star of Christian godliness, which, like a seraph, she wears on the brow, will aid devotion as long as a Church remains on earth.
We are glad to see the fables of the Devonshire Gay arrested in their apparent but unmerited progress towards oblivion by inclusion within this volume. If they lack the terseness of Æsop and the finish of Phædrus, they cannot be said, as La Fontaine’s and Lessing's, to be imitations of the ancients, but have a character of wise and sly English humor entirely their own.
SOMERVILLE was a sporting Warwickshire squire in the early part of last century; and his “Chase,” in tolerable blank verse, reminding of Thomson, deserves the attention of those who combine the, at first sight, incongruous tastes and pursuits of the god of the lyre and the silver bow.
As often before, so now we heartily commend this series of the British Poets, judiciously selected, carefully edited, conveniently and elegantly “ got up," and a miracle of cheapness.
ALBAN : A NARRATIVE Poem. By WILLIAM THURSTON. London: Judd and Glass. There is here plenty of genuine feeling, and imagination is ever busy to multiply the scenes, illustrate the thought, and enrich the diction. There are some very felicitous lines ; but, although as a rule, the current runs smoothly enough, yet strange to say, there are some which can hardly be called verses ; which, however solicited, prove unmanageable by the tongue and displeasing to the ear. A HANDFUL OF LETTERS ON STRAY THOUGHTS AND FANCIES, in Prose and Rhyme. By WILLIAM ORMOND, Letter Carrier, Bristol. These “Stray Thoughts” are creditable both to the heart and head of the author. Some of the conceptions are brilliant, all are healthful and manly. May these " stray thoughts” in their rovings meet with many a soul to whom they shall minister something to quicken right impulses and direct right efforts. The WORD OF RECONCILIATION. Two sermons preached at Christchurch, Church Street, Marylebone, On Forgiveness of Sin, and Christ Dying for Men. By the Rev. J. LLEWELLYN DAVIES, M.A. Rector of Christchurch. London: Macmillan. These sermons are on the most cardinal points in Chris. tian Theology. The little-heresy hunters will discover something here to raise their ire and set their slanderous pen and tongue to work, but the truth seeker, will find in these two Sermons suggestions that will aid him in his honest investigation. THE MAGDALEN'S FRIEND. By a CLERGYMAN. Published by Nisbet and Co., London. This new Serial has entered upon a work the most delicate, important, and necessary, to which philanthrophy can direct its attention. If it set to the work in a thorough way; go to the primary causes of the “SOCIAL Evil" and seek to provide, and apply expedients, philosophically adapted, we shall hail its existence as a social boon. We cannot but think that some of the special efforts that are now being made by certain good meaning men, will prove utterly abortive. The cause being social, mere religious sentimentalism cannot remove it. We heartily recommend this, "the Magdalen's Friend," to the public.
A H O MIL Y
Achanism; or Self-seeking a Hindrance to
the Victories of Christianity.
“There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.”—Joshua vii. 13.
DOQQUMANITY moves on, progress is undoubtedly
its destiny ; but its progress is not like that of the river, which has neither pause nor retrogression; but resembling more the incoming tides
which are marked by successive ebb and flow. There are checks to the march-obstructions to the river, drag-chains on the wheel.
There was a check now to the advancing movements of the Israelites; and there are three things noteworthy connected with its obstructive force.
First : It was sudden. A day or two before our text was enunciated, the onward course of the Israelites was most promising. Every gale seemed propitious, every surge heaved them forward. Their prospects were bright, all hearts were jubilant. Jordan, even at the period of its swelling, had been safely crossed. The Captain of the Lord's Host had met, close to the walls of Jericho, Joshua, their commander, who gave him directions and inspired him with confidence. Before the blasts of the “rams' horns" the massive ramparts had fallen. The Canaanites were already struck with terror,
gave indications of a bloodless and unresisting submisVol. IX.
sion. The entire conquest of the land, appeared to them a thing at once easy and close at hand. The Aborigines would surely yield up up their possession without the toil or peril of a single battle. Their feet already stood on the goodly land of which they had often heard their fathers speak in rapture, and which had charmed the imagination of their hoary sires, through long ages of oppression, under the heartless tyranny of the Pharaohs. Its fruitful fields, its picturesque scenery, and its balmy gales ;—the childish terror which the inhabitants everywhere manifested at their appearance; and the consciousness that Jehovah was with them, must have made their hearts buoyant and glad with the brightest hopes. But in this chapter they are all sadness. Yesterday in bright sunshine, to-day in deepest gloom. The inhabitants of the little city Ai had discomfited three thousand of their number, and slain about twelve times as many more. “Wherefore," we are told “the hearts of the people melted and became as water”—tame and spiritless.
In this reverse we have a picture of the history of man. How great the vicissitudes of human life !—Meteorologists may tell from to-day what will be the weather tomorrow, but what mortal can tell in human history what one hour will bring forth ?
This check was not only sudden but :
Secondly : Was brought about by ONE man. One man clouded at the present moment the hopes of the whole Jewish nation. That man was Achan. He had perpetrated a wrong which had incurred the displeasure of Israel's God, and reduced the whole community to moral prostration and sadness. Wonderful is the power of one individual for good or evil. The history of the world furnishes many instances of a solitary individual influencing whole communities and generations of men. Sometimes we find a truly great and good man, by quickening words and noble deeds, breathing a spirit into his age, which acts as the vital breeze of Spring,—touching everything into new life; and sometimes on the other hand, a vile, vicious spirit
blighting everything into the wild waste of winter. So great is the influence which one man can exert ! “ None liveth unto himself." We are all centres of influence—separate fountains, whence streams that shall refresh and bless, or that shall corrupt and curse, must flow.
This check to progress is not only sudden and brought about by one man but: Thirdly: By the ONE SIN of one man.*
It would seem that from some of the inhabitants of Jericho-over whom the Israelites had achieved a signal victory-Achan had stolen a costly garment of Babylonian manufacture, and also a wedge or ingot of gold. (ver. 21.) This one sin of this one man incurred the displeasure of Jehovah, bringing darkness and distress upon the whole of their number. One sin of one individual may injure a whole community. That men do suffer for other people's sin is a fact which no one can dispute -a fact not merely recorded in the Bible, but written almost on every page of history. A fact against which I am not inclined to whisper one complaint; but for which the more
* The city of Jericho before it was taken was put under that awful ban, of which there are other instances in the early Scripture history, whereby all the inhabitants (excepting Rahab and her family) were devoted to destruction—all the combustible goods to be consumed by fire, and all the metals to be consecrated to God. This vow of devotement was rigidly observed by all the troops when Jericho was taken, save by one man, Achan, a Judahite, who could not resist the temptation of secreting an ingot of gold, a quantity of silver, and a costly Babylonish garment, which he buried in his tent, dreaming that his sin was hid. But God made known this infraction, which, the vow having been made by the nation as one body, had involved the whole nation in his guilt. The Israelites were defeated, with serious loss, in their first attack upon Ai ; and as Joshua was well assured that this humiliation was designed as the punishment of a crime which had inculpated the whole people, he took immediate measures to discover the criminal. As in other cases, the matter was referred to the Lord, by the lot, and the lot ultimately indicated the actual criminal. The conscience-stricken offender then confessed his crime to Joshua, and his confession being verified by the production of his ill-gotten trea. sure, the people, actuated by the strong impulse with which men tear up, root and branch, a polluted thing, hurried away not only Achan,