Page:Olney Hymns - 1840.djvu/34

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

better than poets—which the author intended to say, but has happily miscarried;—it means neither more nor less than that hymn-writing, like every other kind of poetry, has a style suitable to itself. But to take it for granted, that, because this is the case, a poet, a genuine poet, a poet of the highest order, is not better qualified to excel in this branch of his own art than a free-and-easy syllable-monger, is not less gratuitous and self-contradictory than it would be to affirm, that because an artist, of surpassing skill, can contrive a time-piece, which shall show, not only the lapse of every second, minute, and hour, but also the days of the week, month, year, with all the phases of the moon, and the sun's course through the zodiac,—he is, for that very reason, less able to make a common watch than his own apprentice. The major necessarily includes the minor capacity, as great power includes less; otherwise a child, who might lift ten pounds and no more, would do that better (more easily) than a porter, who could heave five hundred weight. Now, Cowper, in the very "style and manner" which his less-gifted coadjutor lays down as most "suited to this kind of composition;" namely, "perspicuity, simplicity, and ease," combined also with grace, elegance, pathos, and energy, such as poetic inspiration alone could supply,—Cowper as much excels his less-gifted coadjutor in these requisites as in his later and loftier productions, The Task, &c., he excels himself, when considered only as the Author of these humbler and holier essays, in which (again to borrow Newton s own words,) "the imagery and colouring of poetry," though admitted, are "indulged sparingly, and with great judgment." It was no discredit to Newton, to be distanced by Cowper in such a race; he has won glory, which will