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MRS. M. There is no doubt of the fact; with the alteration of some of its incidents, and the embellishments of his fine fancy, it is the same.

The Bible is the inexhaustible source from which rhetoric and poetry have delighted mankind in every age. In a multitude of instances, it surpasses all attempts at imitation. Let us take this opportunity of making a comparison, and we cannot do it with more advantage to the poet, for Palemon and Lavinia is the admiration of the world ! Yet, with all the winning graces of Thomson's genius, it will be found inferior in variety, in pathos, and moral interest, to the history of Ruth, the Moabitess.

In the poem of the Scottish bard, an aged widow and her daughter are represented as being reduced from affluence to poverty, and retired from the mortifying gaze of the world, to an obscure retreat. Urged by necessity, the daughter goes out to glean in the field of a neighbour, who 'is “ rich, generous, and young.” Her beauty and her modesty attract his notice, and yet more his sympathy, by a fancied resemblance to his friend and benefactor! He converses with her, and finds that she is the daughter of that long-lost friend, the sole author of his prosperity ! He marries her, and competence and joy again brighten the setting day of the widowed mother,

In the history of Israel, a family are driven from their native country by a famine : the two sons, the only children of their parents, marry ; the father dies; and afterwards, both the sons, the hope and stay of their widowed

other, are also taken away! Bereft of all, the weeping exile returns to her native land. Her daughters-in-law affectionately accompany her; one is hardly persuaded to go back, but the other, undaunted by poverty, or the trou

bles which she may encounter among an unknown people, clings to her with the fondest attachment, and, abjuring the superstitions in which she had been educated, declares she will live and die with her in the religion and the country of her lost husband! Now all these affecting incidents, .calculated in themselves, without the ornament of language, to excite the deepest sympathy, are wanting in the fiction of Thomson. Here the poet takes up the history, and he gives us, indeed, a most enchanting transcript of the remaining scenes; still the original is more strongly impressive, because we know the picture to be genuine ; besides, the frank and simple contract of Boaz, and the gratulations of her neighbours to Naomi, when her family was revived in the first born of Boaz and Ruth, are beau. ties to which the poem has no parallel circumstances.

Obed, this son, who, according to their rule, was called the son of Naomi, is the link which connects the story of Ruth with the history of tbe Israelites.

FANNY. How delightful it is to get a new idea. I have often thought on the resemblance between these two stories, but I was not aware of the superiority of Ruth to my favourite Palemon and Lavinia. Pray who was the author of this book ?

Mrs. M. We are no where informed; but both this book, and that which is denominated JUDGES, are usually ascribed to the prophet Samuel, on whose more generally acknowledged writings we are now about to enter,

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The story of Ruth, the subject of our last conversation, may be considered as an episode in the history of the Judges, for although we have dismissed the book bearing that title, we find the Israelites still subject to their government, in the commencement of Samuel, the book which immediately follows.

The brief annals of the Judges, afford but an indistinct idea of the nature of their administration. Indeed it would seem to have had no uniform character.

With respect to their military chiefs, it is distinctly related that they were animated by the “ spirit of the Lord,” to deliver their country on various occasions; but how, or in what manner, they exercised the civil authority in times of peace, we do not learn. Samson, the most conspicuous of them all, we are told," judged Israel twenty years," yet in all that time, he never appears in a judicial proceeding. Nor is he seen, like others, at the head of their armies; por did he, like Gideon, and Deborah, and Ehud, obtain liberty and peace for his country, by completely subduing their oppressors.

. Samson was rather a scourge to the Philistines, and prepared the way for the emancipation of the Israelites, by spreading terror and dismay wheresoever he went.

By the

exercise of his supernatural strength he taught the heathen to fear the God of Israel, when he was pleased to display his omnipotent arm in behalf of his people.

After the death of Samson, we find the government vested successively in two very different characters-Eli, the high priest, and Samuel, the prophet and historian : but whether by command of the divine oracle, or by the election of the people, we are left to conjecture.

During the administration of Eli, a Levite named Elkanah (a descendant of the rebel Korah, who perished in the wilderness) came up to Shiloh with his wife Hannah, to attend an annual sacrifice, and to devote their infant son Samuel to the service of their God. Elkanah was the husband of two wives, Penninah and Hannah. Penninah was the happy mother of sons and daughters, but Hannah had no child. The latter, however, being the more amiable, was, nevertheless, the more beloved wife: but the partial fondness of her husband did not console Hannah, whilst her proud rival continually taunted her with scornful exultation on her own maternal riches. This cruel bane to her domestic peace, augmented in the suffering Hannah the desire that prevailed among the Hebrew women for the blessings of children-each one indulging the proud hope, that she might herself become the mother of the promised Benefactor, so universally expected. The ardent prayer of Hannah was, therefore, for a son, whom she vowed she would devote to the Lord.

Her prayer, at length, was heard, and she called her son, Samuel a name implyingone devoted to God. “For this child I prayed," said Hannah, when she presented him to Eli,“ promising to lend him to Jehovah as long as he lived. He hath answered my petition, and I am come to perform iny vow."

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The devout effusion of the mother's grateful soul on this interesting occasion, recorded in the second chapter of this book, is classed amongst the finest specimens. of Hebrew poetry. Hannah, possibly, imagined that her ardent supplication had obtained the promised Messiah, who, it has been observed, is here first spoken of as the anointed of the Lord but it is certain, that her virtue was rewarded by a son, who became an eminent blessing to the nation. : The precious offering was received gladly by the good priest, who immediately arrayed him in the dress of the Levitical order: and the joyful parents returned home with the blessings of Eli on their exemplary piety.

CATHERINE. Did the consecration of Samuel oblige his parents to leave him at Shiloh ; or did he return home until his age and education might qualify him for service?

Mrs. M. The sanctuary was his home from that hour, and Eli his preceptor. But his parents, who strictly observed the institutious of Moses, had an opportunity of seeing him, and bringing little presents to him when they came to the annual festivals. They had, moreover, the pleasure of seeing him improving in knowledge and virtue, from year to year the dearest temporal blessing which Heaven bestows on a parent, if, indeed, it be not a blessing more exalted than any thing of a temporal nature.

Not such were the consolations of the aged priest. His sons, Phinehas and Hophni, priests of course, dishonoured their holy office, by their iniquitous and even sacrilegious proceedings. With the patience and the piety of a saint, he reproved them; but with the fond indulgence of a father, he neglected to use the authority of a magistrate to restrain or to punish them. The total destruction of his house, and the death of his two impious sons, in one day,

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