Imatges de pÓgina

your real honor and happiness. A wise and good woman never can desire to become the object of universal admiration, nor the subject of every one's discourse. If you aim at so much, depend upon it, you will lose something of what you have, and what is infinitely better than all the incense of flattery, than all the sonnets of a thousand poetic swains. In the history of our own country, the reigns of two female sovereigns shine with conspicuous lustre. They were periods of great national prosperity and glory. But the weakest of women would not surely thence infer, that the sceptre ought always to be committed to female hands. With all due deference to the memory of an Elizabeth and Anne, and the general felicity which their administration diffused over the land; Great-Britain can look with pride and exultation to a Queen, whose personal glory and virtues far exceed theirs. Not a sovereign indeed, but a partner of the throne: who shines in reason's eye, because she affects not to shine; reigns over willing hearts, because she disclaims all rule; is great and blessed among women, because she nobly sinks the princess in the woman, the wife, the mother and the friend.

We encroach no farther on your patience, by exten ding our observations on the subject. And the rather, as a review of the song of Deborah, composed on this memorable occasion, will, if God permit, bring it again before us, and place female genius in our eye, in a new, and not unpleasing point of light; uniting poetic and musical skill to fervent devotion, heroic intrepidity, and prophetic inspiration. A combination how rare, how instructive, how respectable!

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Then sang Deborah, and Barak, the son of Abinoam, on that day, saying, Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves. Hear, Oye kings; give ear, O ye princes : I, even I will sing unto the Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel. Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou murchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water. The mountains melted from before the Lord, even that Sinai from before the Lord God of Israel.


"O some it is the gift of Heaven, to perform actions worthy of being recorded; to others it is given, to preserve the memory of illustrious actions, in writings worthy of being read. To both, the world is under great obligations, and gratefully permits the historian or the poet, to divide the palm with the hero, or the sage, whom they celebrate. To the writer, perhaps, the more ample share of praise is due. The achievements of valor and strength are local and temporary. They benefit but a few, and quickly spend their force. But the historic and poetic page, more durable, more diffused, and more conspicuous than monuments of brass and marble, is an universal and a per petual blessing to mankind; conveying to distant nations and latest posterity harmless pleasure blended with wholesome instruction.

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On a favored few has been conferred the combined glory of acting nobly, and writing well; of serving their own day and generation with credit to themselves and advantage to their country, and of transmitting useful information to regions remote and generations unborn. On the list of those illustrious few, stands with distinguished honor, the name of Deborah, the judge, the prophetess, the sweet singer of Israel; and it is with exultation we observe the most dignified, arduous and important stations of human life filled with. reputation by a woman: a woman, who first, with resolution and intrepidity, saved her country in the hour of danger and distress, and ruled it with wisdom and. equity; and then recorded her own achievements in strains which must be held in admiration, so long as good taste and the love of virtue exist in the world.

Having with veneration and respect attended to the equitable decisions, and the oracles of truth which flowed from the lips of the female seer and sage, who sat under the palm-tree in Mount Ephraim: and ac companied the undaunted heroine to the top of Mount Tabor, and the ensanguined plains washed by the river of Kishon; let us listen with wonder and delight to the lofty strains of the female bard, and join our voicesin the burden of her song.

This sublime poem is the most ancient that exists, two excepted, namely, that which celebrates the mira culous passage through the Red Sea; and the sweetly swelling notes of the dying swan of Israel. It is two hundred and thirty-four years later than the former, and one hundred and ninety-four years than the latter of these sacred compositions; but it is four hundred and ten years older than Homer, the great father of heathen poesy. From its high antiquity therefore, were there nothing else to recommend it to notice, it iş most respectable; but from its antiquity and the ve ry nature of poetical composition, it must of necessity be, in some respects, involved in difficulty and obscuri

ty. This we pretend not wholly to clear up or to remove. Instead then of making an attempt in which we should probably, perhaps certainly fail, we shall satisfy ourselves with pointing out a few of the more obvious and striking beauties of a piece, which all will allow to contain many and shining excellencies.

The inscription of this hymn of praise, first challenges our notice. "Then sang Deborah, and Barak the son of Abinoam, on that day, saying." Verse 1. In exhibiting the character and conduct of this truly estimable woman, the feminine delicacy and reserve are never dropped. As a ruler and a prophetess she is introduced, under her relative character of the wife of Lapidoth. As the leader of armies to battle, and leader in the musical choir which celebrated the victories of her country, she is represented as the companion and coadjutrix of Barak, the son of Abinoam. She was undoubtedly the first woman of her own, perhaps of any age; but her consequence, in place of being diminished, is increased and supported by the blending of private, personal worth and ability, with the relations of social life, those of wife, mother and friend.

Adam might exist a little while in paradise, before Eve was formed, but nature and reason and religion, all seem to declare, that woman can neither comfortably nor reputably subsist, separated from that side whence she was originally taken. Who will deny, that the superiority in point of discretion and understanding is frequently on the side of the female? But a woman forfeits all pretension to that very superiority, the moment she assumes or boasts of it. Whether, therefore, it were Deborah's own good sense, and female modesty, which preferred appearing in a connected, to appearing in a solitary state, though more flattering to vanity; or whether the Spirit of God, in representing the most elevated of female geniuses in the most elevated of situations, thought proper to point her out as connected and dependent; the same lesson of modera

tion, diffidence, delicacy and condescension is powerfully inculcated: and her sex is instructed where their true dignity, safety, honor and comfort lie.

The time is marked, when this triumphant anthem was first composed and sung. "On that day." It had been a day of danger, anxiety and fatigue: a day of vengeance upon the insulting foe, a day of mutual congratulation and rejoicing; but ill had Israel deserved such a victory, and shamefully had Deborah improved it, if either the emotions of joy or of revenge had excluded those of gratitude and love. The tongue of Deborah, like the pen of a ready writer, dictates "acceptable words" to the thousands of her people; she cannot think of repose, till the evening's sacrifice of praise be offered up, and from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. The day which the arm of Omnipotence had distinguished by wonders of mercy, must not be concluded without songs of deliverance. From the confused noise of the warrior, and garments rolled in blood," the soul turns with holy joy, to the acknowledgment of that " right hand and holy arm which had gotten them the victory:" and in one solemn "praise ye the Lord" bursting at once from every tongue, every redeemed Israelite calls upon himself and upon his fellow to give unto JEHOVAH the glory due unto his name.

Here the song naturally begins, by this it must be supported, and in this it must terminate. All creatures, all events point out" Him first, Him last, Him midst, and without end." "Praise ye the Lord."

But, religion is "a reasonable service." The divine essence we do not, we cannot know; "the invisible things of God," even" bis eternal power and deity," are to be discovered only "by the things which he has made," and the things which he doth. Here then the spirit of praise immediately fixes, and the recent interposition of a gracious Providence rises instantly into view: his " avenging of Isracl," in which Jehovah is

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