Abbildungen der Seite

mation, in point of composition, they might have at◄ tracted at their first appearance in a ruder age, and however instrumental they might have been at the infancy of the reformation in weaning the minds of men from the Papistic ritual, all these considerations can now no longer support even a specious argument for their being retained. From the circumstances of the times, and the growing refinements of literature, of course they become obsolete and contemptible. A work grave, serious, and even respectable for its poetry, in the reign of Edward the Sixth, at length, in a cultivated age, has contracted the air of an absolute travestie.-Attempts have been made from time to time to modernise this antient metrical version, and to render it more tolerable and intelligible by the substitution of more familiar modes of diction. But to say nothing of the unskilfulness with which these arbitrary corrections have been conducted, by changing obsolete for known words, the texture and integrity of the original style, such as it was, has been destroyed: and many stanzas, before too naked and weak, like a plain old Gothic edifice, stripped of its few signatures of antiquity, have lost that little, and almost only strength, and support which they derived from ancient phrases. Such alterations even if executed with prudence and judgment, only corrupt what they endeavour to explain; and exhibit "motley performance, belonging to no character of writing, and which contains more improprieties than those which it professes to remove. Hearne is highly offended at these unwarrantable and incongruous emendations, which he pronounces to be abominable in any book, "much more a sacred work ;" and is confident, that were Sternhold and Hopkins "now living, they would be so far from owning what is ascribed to



them, that they would proceed against the innovators as CHEATS."* It is certain that this translation, in its genuine and unsophisticated state, by ascertaining the signification of many radical words now perhaps undeservedly disused, and by displaying original modes of the English language, may justly be deemed no inconsiderable monument of our ancient literature, if not of our ancient poetry."

Hopkins is not traced later than 1556, but from the additions made, in his name, after 1561, there is little doubt he was living beyond that period, and was the ostensible editor of the complete version. Presuming this fact, notwithstanding in the above advertisement he expresses much cautious fear that his own performance might be fathered on the dead man, and so through his estimation to be the more highly esteemed;" yet he proves not equally tenacious upon reprinting the portion by Sternhold. Though the thirty-seven psalms are considered as the translation of his predecessor, the alterations are always to be traced in a greater or lesser degree. The following specimen is long but not incurious. By the alternate pages will be seen what was the real performance of Sternhold, and what the subsequent revision supposed by Hopkins.†

Gloss. Rob. Gl. p. 699. This united testimony in favour of correct transcripts may be aptly applied, as unanswerable, to those who object to the servile copy of a text which they consider obsolete and unintelligible.

†This can only extend to supposition. The question is every way doubtful, and to assert the revision entirely by Hopkins is inconsistent with the further language of the advertisement describing his own metre as not in any part to be compared with Sternhold's "MOST EXQUISITE DOINGS." If the "arch botcher" may be considered as the interpolating editor of the whole collection it would account for Corbet invoking the ghost of Wisdome to "patch us up a zealous lay, with an old ever and for ay, or all and some;" language that is not used in either of the pieces ascribed to him.


(From the edition of 1551.)

Quam bonus. Psal. lxxiii.

He wondereth bow the foes of God doe prosper and encrease:
And bowe the good and godly men, doe seldome liue in peace.

How good is God to suche as bee, of pure and perfect hearte?
Yet slip my fete awaye from hym, my steppes decline apart,
And why, because I fondly fall, in enuye and d 'sdayne
That wicked men all thynges enioye, without disease or payne.
And beare no yoke vpon their neckes nor burden on theyr backe:
And as for store of worldly goodes they haue no wante or lacke.

And free from all aduersitie, when other men be shente:
And with the rest they take no parte of plage or punishement.
Wherby they be full gloryously in pryde so hyghe extolle :
And in theyr wronge and violence, be wrapte so many folde,
That by aboundaunce of theyr goodes, they please theyr appetite :
And doe all thynges accordyngly vnto theyr heartes delyte.
All thynges are vyle in theyr respect, sauing themselues alone:
They bragge theyr mischieffe openlye to make theyr power be knowne.
The heauens and the liuing lorde, they care not to blaspheme:
And loke what thyng they talke or saye, the worlde doth well esteme.
The flocke therefore of flatterers, doe furnish vp theyr trayne:
For there thei be ful sure to sucke some profite and some gayne.
Tush, tush, say they vnto themselaes, is there a God aboue;
That knoweth and suffereth all this yll and wil not vs reproue?
Loe, ye may see howe wicked menne, in ryches styll increase:
Rewarded well with worldly goodes, and live in rest and peace..


And loe, all suche as thee forsake, shall perysh euerychone,
And those that trust in any thyng sauyng in thee alone.

• The variation of the intermediate lines is very trifling.
( rom

(From the edition of 1561.)

Psalme lxxiii. Tho Ster.

The pphet teachet by his exaple, that neither the worldelie pspitie of the vngodlie, nor yet the afflictio of the good oght to discourage God's children, but rather oght to moue vs to consider our father's prouidence, and to cause vs to reuere ce God's iudgemetes, forasmuche as the wicked vanish away like smoke, and the godlie euer into life euerlasting, in hope whereof he resigneth himselfe into God's handes.

Howeuer it be, yet God is good and kinde to Israel:

And to all suche, as safely kepe their conscience pure and wel.
Yet, like a foole, I almost slipt, my fete began to slide,
And, or I wist, euen at a pinch, my steppes awrie gan glide.
For when I sawe suche foolish men, I grudgde and did disdaine,
That wicked me all things shulde haue without turmoile or paine.
They neuer suffer pangs nor grief, as if death shulde them smite:
Their bodies are bothe stoute & strog, and euer in good plite.
And fre from all aduersitie, when other men be shent;

And with the rest they take no parte of plague or punishment.
Therefore psumptio doeth embrace their necks, as doeth a chaine.
And are euen wrapt, as in a robe, with rapine and disdaine.
They are so fed, that euen for fat their eyes oft times out start:
And as for worldelie goods they have more then can wish their heart,
Their life is moste licencious, boasting muche of the wrong,
Which they haue done to simple men, and euer pride among.
The heauens and the liuing Lord, they spare not to blaspheme,
And prate they do on wordelie things: no wight they do esteme.
The people of God oft times turne backe to se their prosprous state;
& almoste drinke the selfe same cuppe, and followe the same rate.
How can it be that God, say they, shulde knowe and vnderstand
These worldelie things, since wicked men be lordes of sea & land?
For we may se how wicked men in riches still increase;
Rewerded wel with worldlie goods, and liue in rest and peace.


And lo, all suche as thee forsake, thou shalt destroy echone;
And those that trust in any thing, sauing in thee alone.
Therefore wil I drawe nere to God, and euer with him dwell:
In God alone I put my trust, thy wonders wil I tell.



[merged small][ocr errors]

In attempting to supply the mechanic with the plainest version, the labour of the editor did not end with only improving the text of a deceased writer, and Hopkins sought by rejection to perfect the whole. Pursuing this laudable attempt, still it is doubtful if the untoward rhimes of Ainsworth, (who printed an English version at Amsterdam half a century afterwards), from more nearly resembling the original, would not have been considered better to supply a deficiency, than the refined strains of Lord Surry, and others, contemporary, which could have been adopted. The pen of Norton supplied a substitute to Whittingham's 129th Psalm, thus commencing,

"Of Israel this may now be the song,

Euen from my youth my foes haue oft me noyed;
A thousand ils, since I was tendre and yong,
They haue me wroght, yet was I not destroyed.

As yet I beare the markes in bone and skin,

That one wolde thinke that the plowme with their plowes,
Upon my backe haue made their balkes farre in,

For, like plowde grounde, enen so haue I long forowes." &c.

In the portion selected of Kethe's numbers the variation is very slight from the modern copies. The following may compare with the editor's second version.

"Saue me, o God, for thy name's sake,

And by thy grace my cause defend;
Oh, heare my prayers which I make,
And let my wordes to thee ascend.

For strangers do against me rise,

And tyrants sicke my soule to spil;
They set not God before their eyes,
But bent to please their wilful wil.


« ZurückWeiter »