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“And let fall also some of the handfuls on purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not."
This little gem in the books of the Bible inspired Hood to write one of his most perfect lyrics:
“She stood breast high amid the corn
Thus she stood amid the stooks,
Sure, I said, Heaven did not mean
That the Bible was translated into English at the time when the language was spoken and written in its most noble form, by men whose style has never been surpassed in strength combined with simplicity, has been a priceless blessing to the English-speaking race. The land of its birth, once flowing with milk and honey, has been for long centuries a place of barren rocks and arid deserts: Persians and Greeks and Romans and Turks have successively swept over it; the descendants of those who at different times produced its different books are scattered to the ends of the earth; but the English translation has for long years been the head corner-stone in homes innumerable as the sands of the sea in number.
No upheavals of the earth, no fire, pestilence, famine, or slaughter, can ever now blot it out from the ken of men.
When all else is lost we may be sure that the old English version of the Bible will survive. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.'
.” Do not think it enough therefore, Antony, to hear it read badly and without intelligence or emotion, in little detached snippets, in church once a week.
Read it for yourself, and learn to rejoice in the perfect balance, harmony, and strength of its noble style.
Your loving old
MY DEAR ANTONY,
I could write you many letters like my last one about the Bible, and perhaps some day I will go back to that wonderful Book and write you some more letters about it; but now I will go on and tell you about some of the great writers of English prose that came after the translation of the Bible.
Those translators were the great founders of the English language, which is probably on the whole the most glorious organ of human expression that the world has yet known.
It blends the classic purity of Greek and the stately severity of Latin with the sanguine passions and noble emotions of our race.
A whole life devoted to its study will not make you or me perfectly familiar with all the splendid passages that have been spoken and written in it. But I shall show in my letters, at least some of the glorious utterances scattered around me here in my library, so that you may recognise, as you ought, the pomp and majesty of the speech of England.
One of the great qualities that was always present in the writings of Englishmen from the time of Elizabeth down to the beginning of the nineteenth century was its restraint.
Those men never became hysterical or lost their perfect self-control.
The deeper the emotion of the writer the more manifest became the noble mastery of himself.
When Sir Walter Ralegh, that glorious son of Devon, from which county you and I, Antony, are proud to have sprung, lay in the Tower of London awaiting his cowardly and shameful execution the next day at the hands of that miserable James I., writing to his beloved wife, with a piece of coal, because they even denied him pen and ink, face to face with death, he yet observed a calm and noble