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Long did the Muses banish'd slaves abide,
Ah, wretched Poets of earth! but thou
Still the old heathen gods in numbers dwell,
Thy spotless muse, like Mary, did contain
How well (blest Swan) did fate contrive thy death,
Angels (they say) brought the fam'd chapel there,
Pardon, my mother Church, if I consent
Hail, Bard triumphant! and some care bestow
W. B. TURNBULL.
In these verses, says Johnson, “there are beauties which common authors may justly think not only above their attain. ment, but above their ambition."
SINCE the completion of the text, I have been annoyed by discovering that the lines “ On a Treatise of Charity,” at page 77, were originally prefixed to the “ Five Poems and Learned Discourses” of Robert Shelford, Rector of Ringsfield, Suffolk, 4to. Cambridge, 1635; and that the following lines have been left out in the editions of Crashaw's Poems. The reason for such omission is obvious. Should a second impression of this volume be required, they shall be inserted in their proper place; but it must be admitted that, however just the sentiment expressed in them, the subtraction of these lines does not impair the beauty of the poem.
Nor shall our zealous ones still have a fling
PREFACE TO THE ORIGINAL
HE author's friend will not usurp much upon thy eye; this is only for those whom the name of our divine poet hath not yet seized into admiration; I dare under
1 take that what Jamblichus (in vita Pythagorce) affirmeth of his master at his contemplations--these poems can; viz. they shall lift thee, reader, some yards above the ground; and as in Pythagoras' school every temper was first tuned into a height by several portions of music, and spiritualized for one of his weighty lectures, so mayest thou take a poem hence, and tune thy soul by it into a heavenly pitch; and thus refined and borne up upon the wings of meditation, in these poems thou mayest talk freely of God, and of that other state.
Here's Herbert's second, but equal, who hath retrieved poetry of late, and returned it up to its primitive use; let it bound back to Heaven's gates whence it came. Think ye St. Augustine would have stained his graver learning with a book of poetry, had he fancied their dearest
end to be the vanity of love-sonnets and epithalamiums ? No, no! he thought, with this our poet, that every foot in a high-born verse might help to measure the soul into that better world. Divine poetry; I dare hold it, in position against Suarez on the subject, to be the language of the angels; it is the quintessence of phantasy and discourse centred in Heaven ; 'tis the very outgoings of the soul ; 'tis what alone our author is able to tell you, and that in his own verse.
It were profane but to mention here in the preface those under-headed poets, retainers to seven shares and a half; madrigal fellows, whose only business in verse is to rhyme a poor sixpenny soul, a suburb sinner, into hell. May such arrogant pretenders to poetry vanish with their prodigious issue of tumorous heats and flashes
of their adulterate brains; and for ever after may this our poet fill up the better room of man! Oh! when the general arraignment of poets shall be to give an account of their higher souls, with what a triumphant brow shall our divine poet sit above and look down upon poor Homer, Virgil, Horace, Claudian, &c. who had amongst them the ill luck to talk out a great part of their gallant genius upon bees, dung, frogs, and gnats, &c. and not as himself here, upon Scriptures, divine graces, martyrs, and angels !
Reader, we style his Sacred Poems, “ Steps to the Temple," and aptly, for in the Temple of God, under His wing, he led his life in St. Mary's Church, near St. Peter's college; there he lodged under Tertullian's roof of angels; there he made his nest more gladly than David's swallow near the house of God: where,