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If any one will contrast the indwelling soul of this “divine song" with the very best of Thomas Moore's “sacred melodies," for example, he will detect the difference, if his heart has ever felt it, between the spirit of a mere “Nature-worship” and that of the Christian's adoration and holy, heavenly love. The hymn commencing
“My God I is any hour so sweet,
The hour of prayer?" is also in this collection of " Hymns for a Week,” the popular favor of which at home is indicated by the twenty-nine editions through which the work has already run.
We learn from the preface to the American reprint, that Miss Elliott is the daughter of Charles Elliott, Esq., of London, and “the descendant of a long line of ministers of the Church of England,” among whom was the Rev. Henry Venn, author of “ The Complete Duty of Man.” Brought up in a Christian home, and early consecrating herself to the God of her fathers, she has been precluded the active service of Christ, in which she would have so much delighted, by being an invalid all her life. Yet we question whether there has not been as much true activity in God's work in that retirement as in many most outwardly busy religious lives. Her own feelings in regard to this discipline seem to be expressed in the following hymn, which
comfort other souls under the same trial :
“ Saviour! though my rebellious will
Has been by Thy blest power renewed,
How much remains to be subdued.
“ Oft I recall, with grief and shame,
How many years their course had run,
Ere I could say, “ Thy will be done.'
“I wished a flowery path to tread,
And thought 'twould safely lead to heaven;
These for my training-place were given.
“ Long I resisted, mourned, complained,
Wished any other lot my own;
What wisdom planned, love carried on.
“ Year after year, I turned away,
But marred was every scheme I planned,
Was placed before me by Thy hand.
“ At length Thy patient, wondrous love,
Unchanging, tender, pitying, strong,
Which bad rebelled, alas ! so long.
“ Then was I taught by Thee to say,
• Do with me what to Thee seems best; Give, take whate'er Thou wilt, away,
Health, comfort, usefulness, or rest;
“Be my whole life in suffering spent,
But let me be in suffering Thine;
Thou now hast made Thy pleasure mine.'”
This lady has edited a volume entitled “The Invalid's Hymn- . Book,” which contains more than a hundred of her poems, and has also contributed largely to a collection of Psalms and Hymns edited by her brother, the Rev. Henry Venn Elliott. A personal history like hers reminds one of Madame de Staël's significant interrogatory : “Celui qui n'a pas souffert, que sait il ?” - He who has suffered nothing, what does he know ? Not the best lessons which may be gathered from this probation, certainly. It requires an almost intolerable heat to ripen the richest fruits. And herein lies the compensation of such trials; even as a spirit kindred to her own has sung :
" Thank God for grace,
THE RECREATIONS OF A COUNTRY PARSON.
The Recreations of a Country Parson. First and Second Series.
pp. 444, 430. Boston: Ticknor and Fields. 1861.
The fate of books is singular. A thick tome of divinity changes the religious views of a generation ; another work of equal ability slumbers undusted in the Athenæum Library, perhaps escaping the glance of even Dr. Dryasdust. A little book of poetry with the name “Festus” printed on the back goes to a great many thousand sentimental homes, while the vigorous poetry of the elder Dana is out of print. Uncle Tom's Cabin delighted us all a few years ago, and now we feel silly for having been so interested in it; but perhaps the same readers would be just as eager for a new sensation. No publisher can gauge the public taste. If he aspires too confidently to such an office, he simply invests a fortune in unsalable copies of unimportant works. What a fate awaits the books of young
a authors! You have to hunt them up in old book-stalls when the writers have gained reputation, yet in those very volumes you can often find very true autobiographies. How many memoirs there are of men quite unknown, whose friends invested a few dollars in gathering up their literary remains, and, in doing so, brought together a crude mass of useless materials, saying to the reader, “ Digest and arrange for yourself.” Oh, the crowd of useless books! And what ingenuity the bookseller uses to sell those dusty volumes! And how the book
! worm feels when he attends a book-auction and sees the richly bound volumes rudely jostled together and sold one by one, by a man who trumps up their merits in a rude way which would have disgusted the authors ! We always feel oppressed in a large library, first, with the poverty of our own knowledge, next with the folly of those who wrote for fame after death. It is the sepulchre of literary fame; the very air and stillness have a touch of the tomb. In the study from which we write,
we have no such feeling. The books are not many; they are well-thumbed; we buy but few, and go upon the principle that it is best to be eternally ignorant of the greater number. Our books are mostly solid meat; we have to guard against the error of valuing them too highly and to the neglect of the study of man ; but our neighbor buys books to smoke over and amuse himself with ; and so we have no need to lend books to each other. Here, then, are two kinds of literature whose readers never exchange greetings. But how many of these books will be in human hands fifty years hence ? Did not the Retrospective Review, the best antiquarian literary journal ever published, fail in a few years, for want of support? And did not Sir Egerton Brydges have to maintain his antique crotchets by a private printing-press at his own expense ? From which
may we not come to the conclusion that the living care very little for the works of the dead, be they books or other things, always excepting those whose leisure lies heavily on their hands.
We have had to go through all this moralizing about the fate of books to clear our mind of little whims and freaks of thought. It will serve, too, as a contrast to what follows. For the idea we had in mind was this — that very few books live from generation to generation, and that those which survive have a very peculiar character. They are not lexicons, for those can be superseded ; they are not books on geology or chemistry, or even on mathematics ; they are not works on theology, for these too often mix up matters too foreign to the Bible to survive their age; they are not political debates ; they are not thin volumes of poetry written by love-sick swains; they are those books which record personal feeling, and which were written with the freedom and ease of a gentleman talking in his own house to his own friends of his likes and dislikes. They are not very numerous. The men are few who can write them. The men are yet fewer who have just that position in life which secures the harmonious development of their faculties. These are the books which amuse because you can see all things in the light in which the author saw them. You never take them up to gain information on any particular subject; but you find yourself very often referring to them as authority in respect to certain actions. You can turn to them if a lady has jilted you, and perhaps find that the author himself was jilted. His way of telling his story will soothe the feelings as truly as if you had related your own grievances to an intimate friend. How many copies of the Reveries of a Bachelor are put away in the libraries and trunks of the unmarried! It is this class of people perhaps more than any other who relish the revelations of personal feeling. They come to them as the society of the gifted and the cultivated, the society of wife and children comes to other men. How many young
ladies have gone into ecstasy over Longfellow's Evangeline, because it appeals so truly to the unemployed feelings ; yet the same persons with the cares of a family to attend to would say, not to the author, but to us, for instance, that the poem was too romantic. But these books may appeal to the mind at all or any stages of its unfolding. Happy are the authors who mingle the mature and the youthful in such harmony that the book which charmed in childhood shall yet instruct in old age. Is not this true especially of that book to which most go to find words which shall define their feelings and experiences — the Bible? Was ever book written with such variety of incident
so full of consolation ?
But we can turn to other books which fall under the class named. All good biographies - and we have many which are very popular — belong here. For the biography of a wise and noble man is the pleasantest kind of reading. With art on the part of the biographer, the incidents and fortunes of the man surprise you at every step, and there goes on that kind of comparison with one's self which gives you a pleasant, if not accurate estimate of your own powers. It is also a great thing to have fully understood one human life. It is next to self-knowledge; in fact, contributes mainly to it. But all those books which give the personality of the writer are of the nature of autobiography, and are of use just as racy and easy conversation is of use to impart to you the personal traits of the one you
talk with. The scholar and theologian will at once think of St. Augustine's Confessions, which make him as much a living man as when, the Bishop of Hippo, he ruled the African Church. Good old Izaak Walton comes in for his share of praise, and, indeed, our language is rich in personal jottings