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Fine Arts, its legitimate function is to refine and elevate those who feel its power. It ought especially to be made the instrument of lifting the soul to the loftiest regions of thought, and of kindling in it the emotions and sentiments that are most worthy of its origin and its eternal relations. It has too often been degraded by being made the vehicle of what was fitted only to defile the hidden fountains of the heart; and it is an achievement deserving no common measure of praise to restore it to its exalted office, and to employ its magic spell, - in the words of Dr. Samuel Johnson, — “to give ardor to virtue and confidence to truth." Since it is acknowledged to have wondrous power over all the finer susceptibilities of our nature, why should it not, to a much greater extent than it hitherto has been, be made to contribute to the highest and best culture of mankind ?
We have referred to Mr. Bickersteth personally, and to the work on which chiefly his reputation as a poet rests, because this has seemed the most natural way of introducing the present volume. In this collection, the author offers us some of his minor poems, – leaves that have been scattered by the wayside of life and are now first brought together. Some of them are the prize pieces written in his . University days: others are occasional bubblings
from the full fountain within, as the heart prompted. Still others are hymns suited to the purposes of public or private worship, and glowing with Christian feeling. While differing considerably in merit, they all indicate the true poet. In some of the pieces there is the power of conception, and the distinctness of delineation, combined with skill in coloring, which clearly reveal the hand of a master. They are generally characterized by the same refinement of taste and purity of language, the same felicity of illustration and embellishment, and the same depth of Christian feeling which charm the reader of the larger work.
But while this small volume will amply repay perusal for what it is in itself, it has also a yet higher relative value. It has a special interest as presenting the preparatory efforts, the preludes and experimental airs, of the lyre that was afterwards to attempt the prolonged and epic strain. To read these is like being permitted to examine the “ studies” by which the hand of a Titian or a Raphael acquired the cunning requisite for the production of the immortal works of art which still delight mankind. The book will gratify a natural and not unreasonable curiosity.
We cannot conclude this notice without saying that the Christian public are greatly indebted to
the publishers, Messrs. Robert Carter & Brothers, not only for making them acquainted with the works of Mr. Bickersteth, but as well for the contributions they are constantly making, in their carefully chosen publications, towards the supply of a truly Christian and yet elevated and attractive literature, Their imprint is a sutficient passport into any Christian home.
RAY PALMER. New YORK, January 12, 1871.