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The limits of an Introduction, like the present, preclude any observations upon the miscellaneous poetry of an age fertile of eminent persons, and covered with the most luxuriant harvest of the imagination; but there is one version of selected Psalms which seems to claim particular attention. The contributors were Francis and Christopher Davison, W. Bagnel, R. Gipps, and J. Bryan. The collection is among the Harleian manuscripts, but specimens have been published by Sir Egerton Brydges.

Francis Davison, well known as the editor of the Poetical Rhapsody, was the son of William Davison, the unfortunate Secretary of Queen Elizabeth; a man whose probity and excellence appear to have been unquestioned, even by his enemies, and who may be considered the victim of the deceit of Elizabeth, and the treachery of her ministers. In 1593, Francis became a member of Gray's Inn, and, before the completion of his twentieth year, he wrote the speeches of the Gray's Inn Masque, printed in Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth. In 1595 he was on the Continent, and, on his return, appears to have relinquished his former pursuits, and devoted himself to poetry. Mr. John Chamberlain, writing to Sir Dudley Carleton, on the 8th of July, 1602, alludes to the circumstance :—" It seems young Davison means to take another course, and turn poet; for he has lately sent out certain sonnets and epigrams*." The first edition of the Poetical Rhapsody was published in 1602. The fall of his father from his rank and dignities, and his subsequent imprisonment and poverty, must have blighted the prospects of the poet. After 1619 nothing has been discovered respecting him and it has been supposed that he shared what has been called, with melancholy truth, the common lot of genius—

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"an obscure life, and an early grave*." It was, perhaps, during hours of sorrow and penury, that these beautiful versions of the Psalms were composed; and the reader may coincide with Sir Egerton Brydges in esteeming them more honourable to the author, than his lighter compositions, written, as he tells us, in his younger days, " at idle times," as he journeyed "up and down" in his travels.

The following Paraphrase of the twenty-third Psalm will show that Davison could touch the harp of Sion with a grace and skill not unworthy the "sweet finger" of the Royal Minstrel. This Psalm has also been translated by Crashaw, with a richness and felicity of diction peculiarly his own. I shall speak of it more fully in the life of that poet.

God, who the universe doth hold

In his fold,
Is my shepherd kind and heedful,
Is my shepherd, and doth keep

Me his sheep,
Still supplied with all things needful.

He feeds me in fields which bin -)■,

Fresh and green,
Mottled with Spring's flowery painting,
Through which creep with murmuring crooks,

Crystal brooks,
To refresh my spirits fainting.

When my soul from heaven's way

Went astray,
With earth's vanities seduced,
For his namesake, kindly He,

Wandering me
To his holy fold reduced f.

Yea, though I stray through Death's vale,

Where his pale
Shades did on each side enfold me,

* Autographs of Royal, Noble, and Remarkable Persons, by J. G. Nichols; fol. 1829.

t Be. f Reduced, led back.

Dreadless, having Thee for guide,

Should I bide,
For thy rod and staff uphold me.

Thou my board with messes large,

Dost surcharge;
My bowls full of wine thou pourest,
And before mine enemies

Envious eyes,
Balm upon mine head thou showerest.

Neither dures thy bounteous grace

For a space,
But it knows nor bound, nor measure;
So my days, to my life's end,

Shall I spend
In thy courts with heavenly pleasure.

Donne adopted this metre, with a slight variation, in his version of the 137th Psalm. The following stanza, from the 130th Psalm, is very beautifully rendered, the alliteration in the fourth line being the only defect:—

My soul base earth despising

More longs with God to be X
Than rosy morning's rising

Tired watchmen watch to see!

I have omitted a few lines in this translation of the 13th Psalm :—

Lord, how long, how long wilt Thou

Quite forget and quite neglect me?
How long with a frowning brow

Wilt Thou from thy sight reject me?

How long shall I seek a way

From this range of thoughts perplex'd,

"Where my griev'd mind, night and day,
Is with thinking tired and vex'd!

How long shall my stormful foe

On my fall his greatness placing,
Build upon my overthrow,

And be grac'd by my disgracing?

Hear, O Lord and God, my cries,

Mock my foe's unjust abusing,
And illuminate mine eyes,

Heavenly beams in them infusing.

Lest my woes too great to bear,

And too infinite to number,
Rock me soon, 'twixt Hope and Fear,

Into Death's eternal slumber.

These black clouds will overblow,

Sunshine shall have his returning,
And my grief-dull'd heart, I know,

Into joy shall change his mourning.

"Grief-dulled" is a very picturesque epithet. The same graceful facility and religious fervour animate the 86th Psalm :—

Save my soul which Thou didst cherish
Until now, now like to perish,
Save Thy servant that hath none
Help, nor hope, but Thee alone!

After Thy sweet-wonted fashion,
Shower down mercy and compassion,
On me, sinful wretch, that cry
Unto Thee incessantly.

Send, O send, relieving gladness,
To my soul oppress'd with sadness,
"Which, from clog of earth set free,
Wing'd with zeal springs up to Thee.

Let thine ears which long have tarried
Barred up, be now unbarred,
That my cries may entrance gain,
And being entered grace obtain.

For Thou, darter of dread thunders,
Thou art great, and workest wonders.
Other gods are wood and stone,
Thou the living God alone.

Heavenly Tutor, of thy kindness,
Teach my dulness, guide my blindness,
That my steps Thy paths may tread
Which to endless bliss do lead.

In knots to be loosed never,
Knit my heart to Thee for ever,
That I to Thy name may bear,
Fearful love and loving fear.

Lord, my God, thou shalt be praised,
With my heart to heaven raised,
And whilst I have breath to live,
Thanks to Thee my breath shall give.

Mighty men with malice endless,
Band * against me helpless, friendless,
Using, without fear of Thee,
Force and fraud to ruin me.

But Thy might their malice passes,
And Thy grace Thy might surpasses,
Swift to mercy, slow to wrath,
Bound nor end Thy goodness hath.

Thy kind look no more deny me,
But with eyes of mercy eye me;
0 give me, Thy slave, at length,
Easing aid, or bearing strength.

And some gracious token show me,
That my foes that watch t' o'erthrow me,
May be shamed and vex'd to see
Thee to help and comfort me.

Joseph Bryan has versified the 65th Psalm with great harmony of language and sweetness of fancy. Of his history I have been unable to obtain any illustrations; he must not, however, be confounded with Francis Bryan, whom, in the beautiful lines of Drayton,

The Muses kept
And in his cradle rock'd him whilst he slept.

Dwellers beyond Thule's bands,

In fair lands,
At thy signs shall be affrighted.
Morn's bright gate, and ruddy west,

By their guest,
Are with light and heat delighted.

* Unite.

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