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Nor have our trumpets summoned
The Morning from her dewy bed:
As yet her roses are unblown,
Nor by her purple mantle known.
All night we in the Temple keep,
Not yielding to the charms of sleep;
That so we might with zealous prayer
Our thoughts and cleansed hearts prepare,
To celebrate the ensuing light.
This annual Feast to Memory
Is sacred, nor with us must die.
• * * •
What numbers from the sun's up-rise,
The following verses, by the same Chorus are equally
Yet this no less our grief provokes,
One part by Roman bondage wrung;
The other two by brothers, sprung
From savage Idumseans, whom
Our fathers have so oft o'ercome.
O Thou, the Hope, the only One
Of our distress, and ruin'd throne;
Of whom with a prophetic tongue,
To Judah dying Jacob sung:
The crowned muse on ivory lyre,
His breast inflamed with holy fire,
This oft foretold,—That thou should'st free
The people consecrate to thee;
That Thou, triumphing, should'st revoke
Sweet Peace, then never to be broke;
When freed Judaea should obey
Our Lord, and all affect his sway.
O when shall we behold thy face,
So often promised to our race?
If prophets, who have won belief,
By our mishaps and flowing grief,
Of joyful change, as truly sung;
Thy absence should not now be long.
Thee, by thy virtue, we entreat;
The Temple's veil, the Mercy's Seat,
That Name by which our fathers sware,
Which in our vulgar speech we dare
Not utter, to compassionate
Thy kindred's tears, and ruined state.
Hast to our great redemption, hast,
O, thou most Holy! and at last
Bless with thy Presence, that we may
To Thee our vows devoutly pay.
Sandys was gathered to his fathers in the beginning of March, 1643. He expired at Bexley, the residence of his niece, Lady Margaret Wyat, who was married to a descendant of the poetical friend of Surrey, and was buried in the parish church upon the 7th of March. One of his contemporaries, Phillpot of Clare Hall, compared his death to the sudden departure of a flowery spring. But the simile was not happily chosen. He had not, indeed, exhausted the allotted term of human existence, and the setting of so mild and cheering a star might well awaken the sigh of regret; but the harvest bad been gathered in, and the sheaves were bound up. He had passed a religious and useful life, and had opened a new spring of comfort to his christian brethren, which was not without a beneficial influence upon the stream of our literature. No cloud appears to have darkened the evening of his days: he lived and died among his friends, admired, beloved, and revered. "It did me good," says Baxter, " when Mrs. Wyatt invited me to see Bexley Abbey, in Kent, to see upon the old stone wall in the garden, a summer-house, with this inscription, that 'In that place Mr. George Sandys, after his travels over the world, retired himself for bis poetry and contemplations.'" Of his character, we can only judge from his writings; but his portrait is preserved at Ormsberley Court, and the full benignant eye, and placid forehead, accord with the gentle spirit of his verse.
Sandys occupies a very interesting position among our minor poets. Pope, who when a child of eight years, had been delighted with Ogilby's Homer, was equally pleased with Sandys' translation of Ovid; and Dryden declared him to be the best versifier of his time. His Paraphrase of the Psalms was esteemed by Burney the most harmonious in our language. He was a master of versification, and, although excelling chiefly in lyric measures, could construct the polished couplet with the art of Pope. The lines prefixed to his Paraphrase of the Psalms are polished and musical:—
Our graver Muse from her long dream awakes;
Lord Falkland justly praised bis flowing elegance; bis diction is pure and simple; and his fancy, although deficient in the richness of Crashaw and the energy of Quarles, often imparts a pleasing lustre to the subject. Without rivalling the quaint pathos of Herbert, his strains glow with the same fervour of piety, and he rarely deviates into the eccentricities of that amiable poet. Sandys had not been dazzled by the splendid errors which bewildered the more powerful genius of Cowley; and it should be mentioned to his honour, that he brought no offering from pagan mythology to the Altar of Heavenly Truth, and that the translator of the Metamorphoses is not recognised in the translator of the Psalms. The gentleness and simplicity of his manner will be seen in the following version of the forty-second Psalm.
Lord! as the hart embost with heat
So sighs my soul for thee.
And there his beauty see?
Tears are my food both night and day;
My soul in plaints I shed;
How I their dances led.
My soul, why art thou so depre"st?
With grief so overthrown?
For mercy timely shown.
My fainting heart within me pants:
My songs shall praise thee still,
From Mitzar's humble hill.
Deeps unto deeps enraged call,
And dreadful tempest raves:
To swallow in their graves.
But yet by day the Lord will charge
My soul, surprised with cares;
By night to thee my prayers;
By foes reduced to dust?
Where is the Lord thy trust?
My soul, why art thou so deprest?
Sunk underneath thy load!
My Saviour and my God.
Fuller mentions Sandys with lively interest. "He lived," are his words, " to be a very aged man, whom I saw in the Savoy, anno 1641, having a youthful soul in a decayed body."