« 前へ次へ »
sons may be said to have had many fathers, but arity of mind still prevailed, at least occasionally, to plurality of mothers is not common.
a painful extent. It is true, he adverts to it in his In May of this year, 1790, Cowper thus describes leiters, at this time, less frequently than formerly; the manner in which he was employed. “I am still he introduces it, however, sufficiently often to show at my old sport-Homer all the morning, and Ho- that it had undergone no diminution, and that it mer all the evening. Thus have I been held in con- was suppressed only by the intense application which stant employment, I know not exactly how many, his engagements required. The following extracts but I believe these six years, an interval of eight from his letters written towards the close of 1790, months excepted. It is now become so familiar to will describe the state of his mind in this respect, at me to take Homer from my shelf at a certain hour, that period. “I have singularities of which, I bethat I shall, no doubt, continue to take him from my lieve, at present you know nothing; and which shelf at the same time, even after I have ceased to would fill you with wonder if you knew them. I want him. That period is not far distant. I am will add, however, in justice to myself, that they now giving the last touches to a work, which had I would not lower me in your good opinion; though foreseen the difficulty of it, I should never have med perhaps they might tempt you to question the sounddled with; but which, having at length nearly fi- ness of my upper story. Almost twenty years have nished it to my mind, I shall discontinue with regret." I been thus unhappily circumstanced; and the re
Perhaps no one was ever better qualified to give medy is in the hands of God only. That I make sound and judicious advice to persons in various con- you this partial communication on the subject, conditions in life than Cowper, and no one certainly scious at the same time that you are well worthy to ever gave it more cheerfully, or in a manner more be entrusted with the whole, is merely because the perfectly unassuming. An instance of this occurred recital would be too long for a letter, and painful in a letter which he wrote in June of this year, to both to me and to you. But all this may vanish in his cousin, John Johnson, Esq., who was then pur- a moment, and if it please God, it shall. In the suing his studies at Cambridge, who had recently mean time, my dear Madam, remember me in your been introduced to him, and for whom he entertained prayers, and mention me at those times, as one the most affectionate regard. “You never pleased whom it has pleased God to afilict with singular visi. me more than when you told me you had abandoned tations. Twice I have bcen overwhelmed with the your mathematical pursuits. It grieved me to think blackest despair; and at those times, every thing in ihat you were wasting your time merely to gain a which I have been at any time of my life concerned, little Cambridge fame; now scarcely worth your has afiorded to the enemy a handle against me. having. I cannot be contented that your renown tremble, therefore, almost at every step I take, lest should thrive nowhere but on the banks of the Cam. on some future similar occasion, it should yield him Conceive a nobler ambition, and never let your ho-opportunity, and furnish him with means to torner be circumscribed by the paltry dimensions of a University. It is well that you have already, as On another occasion he thus writes: “A yellow you observe, acquired sufficient information in that shower of leaves is now continually falling from all science to enable you to pass creditably such exami- the trees in the country. A few moments only nations as I suppose you must hereafter undergo. seem to have passed since they were buds; and in a Keep what you have gotten, and be content: more few moments more they will have disappeared! It is needless. You could not apply to a worse than I is one advantage of a rural situation, that it affords am, to advise you concerning your studies. I was many hints of the rapidity with which life flies, that never a regular student myself, but lost the most do not occur in towns and cities. It is impossible valuable part of my life in an attorney's office, and for a man, conversant with such scenes as surround in the Temple. I will not therefore give myself ine, not to advert daily to the shortness of his airs and affect to know what I know not. The af- existence here, admonished of it, as he must be, fair is of great importance to you, and you should by ten thousand objects. There was a time when be directed by a wiser than I. To speak, however, I could contemplate my present state, and consider in very general terms on the subject, it seems to me myself as a thing of the day with pleasure; when that your chief concern is with history, natural phi- I numbered the seasons, as they passed in swift rolosophy, logic, and divinity; as to metaphysics, Itation, as a school-boy numbers ihe days that interInnow but little about them. But the very little I do pose between the next vacation, when he shall sec know has not taught me to admire them. Life is his parents, and enjov his home again. But to make 100 short to afford time even for serious trifles; pur- so just an estimate of a life like this, is no longer in sue what you know to be attainable; make truth my power. The consideration of my short continnyour object, and your studies will make you a wise ance here, which was once grateful to me, now fills man.”
me with regret. I would live, and live always, and In the summer of 1790, much as Cowper's time am become such another wretch as Mæcenas was, was occupied in giving the finishing touch to his who wished for long life—he cared not at what exHomer, he nevertheless, at the suggestion of some pense of sufferings. The only consolation left me friend, undertook to translate a series of Latin let- on this subject is, that the voice of the Almighty ters, received from a Dutch
minister of the gospel, can, in one moment, cure me of this mental infirmiat the Cape of Good Hope. This occupation, though ty. That he can, I know by experience; and there it left him but little time for writing to his numer are reasons for which I ought to believe that he ous correspondents, afforded him considerable plea- will. But from hope to despair is a transition that I
There was a congeniality in it to the prevail- have made so often, that I can only consider the ing disposition of his mind, and in a letter to Mr. hope that may come, and that sometimes I believe Newton, who requested him to publish these letters, will
, as a short prelude to joy, to a miserable conbe thus writes: “I have no objection at all to being clusion of sorrow that shall never end. Thus are known as the translator of Van Leer's Letters, when my brightest prospects clouded; and thus, to me, is they shall be published. Rather, I am ambitious of hope itself become like a withered flower, that has it as an honor. It will serve to prove, that if I have lost both its hue and its fragrance. I ought not 10 spent much time to little purpose in the translation have written in this dismal strain to you, nor did I of Homer, some small portion of my time has, how- intend it; you have more need to be cheered than erer, been well disposed of."
saddened; but a dearth of other themes constrained It will have been perceived, from the extracts we me to choose myself for a subject, and of myself I have already made, that Cowper's gloomy peculia-I can write no otherwise.”
Early in December, 1790, Cowper had a short | sure to affect him deeply; and the following ex but severe attack of that nervous fever to which he tracts from his letters to Mr. Newton, on this trying was very subject, and which he dreaded above all occasion, will not fail to be interesting :-"Had you others, because it generally preceded a most severe been a man of the world, I should have held myparoxysm of melancholy: Happily, on this occa- self bound, by the law of ceremonies, to have sent sion, it lasted only for a short time; and in a letter you long since my tribute of condolence. I have to Mrs. King, dated the last day of the year, he thus sincerely mourned with you; and though you have records his feelings on the occasion :—"I have lately lost a wife, and I only a friend, yet do I understand been visited with an indisposition much more for too well the value of such a friend as Mrs. Newton, midable than that which I mentioned to you in my not to have sympathized with you very nearly. But last-a nervous fever, a disorder to which I am you are not a man of the world; neither can you, subject, and which I dread above all others, because who have the Scripture, and the Giver of the Scripit comes attended by a melancholy perfectly insup- ture to console you, have any need of aid from portable. This is the first day of my complete re- others, or expect it from such spiritual imbecility as covery, the first in which I have perceived no symp- mine." toms of my terrible malady. I wish to be thankful “It affords me sincere pleasure that you enjoy seto the Sovereign Dispenser both of health and of renity of mind, after your great loss. It is well in sickness, that, though I have felt cause enough to all circumstances, even in the most afflictive, with tremble, He gives me new encouragement to hope those who have God for their comforter. You do that I may dismiss my fears, and expect an escape me justice in giving entire credit to my expressions from my depressive malady. The only drawback of friendship for you. No day passes in which to the comfort I now feel, is in the intelligence con- do not look back to the days that are fled, and contained in yours, that neither Mr. King nor yourself sequently none in which I do not feel myself affecare well. I dread always, both for my own health tionately reminded of you, and of her whom you and for that of my friends, the unhappy influences have lost for a season. I cannot even see Olney of a year worn out. But, my dear Madam, this is spire from any of the fields in the neighborhood, the last day of it, and I resolve to hope that the new much less can I enter the town, and still less the year shall obliterate all the disagreeables of the old vicarage, without experiencing the force of those one. I can wish nothing more warmly, than that mementoes, and recollecting a multitude of pasit may prove a propitious year for you.
sages to which you and yours were parties. The In the autumn of this year Cowper had sent his past would appear a dream, were the remembrance "Homer" to the press; and through the whole of of it less affecting. It was, in the most important the ensuing winter he was closely employed in cor- respects, so unlike my present moment, that I am recting the proof-sheets, and making such altera- sometimes almost tempted to suppose it a dream! tions as he still thought desirable. The time which But the difference between dreams and realities this consumed, and the indefatigable industry with long since elapsed, seems to consist chiefly in this: which he engaged in it, will be seen by the follow that a dream, however painful or pleasant at the ing extracts :- My poetical operations, I mean of time, and perhaps for a few ensuing hours, passes the occasional kind, have lately been pretty much like an arrow through the air, leaving no trace of at a stand. I told you, I believe, in my last, that its flight behind it; but our actual experiences make 'Homer,' in the present stage of the process, occu a lasting impression. We review those which inpied me more intensely than ever. He still conti- terested us much when they occurred, with hardly nues to do so, and threatens, till he shall be com- less interest than in the first instance; and whether pletely finished, to make all other composition im- few years or many have intervened, our sensibility practicable. I am sick and ashamed of myself that makes them still present—such a mere nullity is I forgot my promise, but it is actually true that I time, to a creature to whom God gives a feeling did forget it. You, however, I did not forget; nor heart and the faculty of recollection !" did I forget to wonder and be alarmed at your si In June, 1791, having completed his long and arlence, being myself perfectly unconscious of my duous undertaking-the translation of “Homer,”
All this, together with various other tres he thus writes to Mr. Newton on the occasion :: passes of mine, must be set down to the account of “ Considering the multiplicity of your engagements, Homer; and, wherever he is, he is bound to make and the importance, no doubt, of most of them, I his apology to all my correspondents, but to you in am bound to set the higher value on your letters; particular. True it is, that if Mrs. Unwin did not and, instead of grumbling that they come so seldom, call me from that pursuit, I should forget, in the to be thankful to you that they come at all. You ardor with which I persevere in it, both to eat and are now going into the country, where I presume to drink, if not to retire to rest! This zeal has in- you will have less to do; and I am rid of “Homer;" creased in me regularly as I have proceeded, and let us try, therefore, if in the interval between the in an exact ratio, as a mathematician would say, to present hour and the next busy season (for I too, if the progress I have made towards the point at which I live, shall probably be occupied again,) we can I have been aiming. You will believe this, when I contrive to exchange letters more frequently than tell you that, not contented with my previous labors, for some time past. You do justice to me, and to I have actually revised the whole work, and have Mrs. Unwin, when you assure yourself that to hear made a thousand alterations in it since it has been of your health, will give us pleasure. I know not, in the press. I have now, however, tolerably well in iruth, whose health and well-being could give us satisfied myself at least, and trust that the printer more. The years that we have seen together will and I shall Trundle along merrily to the conclusion." never be out of our remembrance; and, so long as
In the commencement of 1791, Cowper's long- we remember them, we must remember you with tried friend, Mr. Newton, lost his wife. She died affection. In the pulpit, and out of the pulpit, you sometime in January, after many months' severe have labored in every possible way to serve us; and suffering, borne with exemplary fortitude and pa- we must have a short memory indeed for the kindtience. She had always taken a lively interest in ness of a friend, could we by any means become Cowper's welfare; and, when she resided at Olney, forgetful of yours. It would grieve me more than had frequently assisted Mrs. Unwin in the arduous it does, to hear you complain of the effects of time, duty of watching over the poet, during his painful were not I also myself the subject of them. While mental depression. Her decease, therefore, was he is wearing out you and other dear friends of
cated. Benefits be had derived from it. Feels the want of em
mine, he spares not me; for which I ought to account myself obliged to him, since I should other. Publication of his Homer. Anxiety respecting il. To whon dedi
CHAPTER XV. wise be in danger of surviving all that I have ever loved the most melancholy lot that can befall a
ployment. Prepares materials for a splendid edition of Milton's mortal. God knows what will be my doom here
puetic works. Vindicates his character. Attempts of his friends after; but precious as life necessarily seems to a to dissuade him from his new engagement. His replies. The mind' doubitul of its future happiness, I love not the commencement of his acquaintance with Mr. Haley. Pleasure it world, I trust, so much, as to wish a place in it afforded Mr. Haley. Mrs. Unwiu's first attack of paralysis. Manwhen all my beloved shall have left it. As to Ho ner in which it affected Cowper. Remarks on Milton's labors. Remer, I am sensible that, except as an amusement, ply to Mr. Nextou's letter for original composition. Continuance he was never worth my meddling with; but, as an of his depression. First letter from Mr. Haley. Unpleasant cir. amusement, he was to me invaluable. As such, he cumstances respecting it. Mr. Haley's first visit to Weston. Kind served me more than five years; and in that res
manner in which he was received. Mrs. Unsin's second severe pect I know not, at present, where I shall find his
paralytic attack. Cowper's feelings on the occasion. Mr. Hayequal. You oblige me by saying, that you will read
ley's departure. Cowper's warm attachment to him. Reflections hím for my sake. I verily believe that any person
on the recent changes he had witnessed. Promises to visit Earthof a spiritual turn may read him to some advantage.
Makes preparations for the journey, Peculiarity of his feel
ings on the occasion. He may suggest reflections that may not be unserviceable, even in a sermon: for I know not where
On the first of July, 1791, Cowper's Homer apwe can find more striking examples of the pride, peared.- After so many years of incessant toil, it the arrogance, and the insignificance of man; at the was not to be expected that he would feel otherwise same time that, by ascribing all events to a'divine than anxious respecting the reception it met with interposition, he inculcates constantly the belief of from the public. He had labored indefatigably to a Providence; insists much on the duty of charity produce a faithful and free translation of the inimi. towards the poor and the stranger: on the respect table original, and he could not be indifferent to the that is due to superiors, and to our seniors in parti- result. To Mrs. King he thus writes on the occacular; and on the expedience and necessity of sion:-“My Homer is gone forth, and I can sinprayer and piety towards the gods; a piety mistaken cerely say-joy go with it! What place it holds in indeed in its object, but exemplary for the punctua- the estimation of the generality I cannot tell, havlity of its performance. Thousands who will not ing heard no more about it since its publication learn from Scripture to ask a blessing, either on than if no such work existed. I must except, howtheir actions or on their food, may learn it, if they ever, an anonymous eulogium from some man of please, from Homer."
letters, which I received about a week ago. It was It appears from the above extract that Cowper kind in a perfect stranger, as he avows himself to had no expectations of again seeing his Homer un- be, to relieve me in some degree, at least, at so early lil it was actually before the public. Johnson, the a day, from much of the anxiety that I could not publisher, however, unexpectedly to him, sent 'him but feel on such an occasion : I should be glad to an interleaved copy, and recommended him to re- know who he is, only that I might thank him." vise it again before it was fully committed to the
Cowper, very properly, dedicated the Iliad to his press. On this occasion, he thus writes to his friend noble relative Earl Cowper, and the Odyssey to the Mr. Newton :-"I did not foresee, when I chal- dowager Countess Spencer, whom, in one of his lenged you to a brisker correspondence, that a new letters he thus describes :—“We had a visit on Monengagement of all my leisure time was at hand-a day from one of the first women in the world—I new, and yet an old one. An interleaved copy of inean in point of character and accomplishments, my Homer arrived soon after from Johnson, in the dowager Lady, Spencer! I may receive, perwhich he recommended it to me to make any alte- haps, some honors hereafter, should my translation rations that might yet be expedient, with a view to speed according to my wishes, and the pains I have another impression. The alterations that I make taken with it; but shall never receive any that I are, indeed, but few, and they are also short; not esteem so highly; she is indeed, worthy, to whom more, perhaps, than half a line in two thousand. I should dedicate, and may but my Odyssey prove But the lines are, I suppose, nearly forty thousand as worthy of her, I shall have nothing to fear from in all; and to revise ihem critically must conse
the critics." quently be a work of time and labor. I suspend it, Whether it arose from the unreasonable expectahowever, for your sake, till the present sheet bé tions of the public, or from the utter impossibility filled, and that I may not seem to shrink from my of conveying all the graces and the beauties of these own offer. Were I capable of envying, in the strict unrivalled poems, in a translation, it is certain that sense of the word, a good man, I should envy Mr. the volumes, when they appeared, did not give that Venn, and Mr. Berridge, and yourself, who have satisfaction, either to the author, or to his readers, spent, and while they last, will continue to spend, which had been anticipated. It would, perhaps, be your lives in the service of the only Master worth difficult, if not impossible, to assign a better reason, serving; laboring always for the souls of men, and for the imperfection of Cowper's translation, if imnot to tickle their ears, as I do. But this I can say, perfection it deserves to be called, than that menGod knows how much rather I would be the obscure tioned by his justly admired biographer, Mr. Haytenant of a lath and plaster cottage, with a lively lev.-"Homer is so exquisitely beautiful in his own sense of my interest in a Redeemer, than the most language, and he has been so long an idol in every admired object of public notice without it. Alas! literary mind, that any copy of him, which the best what is a whole poem, even one of Homer's, com- of modern poets can execute, must probably resempared with a single aspiration that finds its way im- ble in its effect, the portrait of a graceful woman, mediately to God, though clothed in ordinary lan- painted by an excellent artist for her lover; the lover
, guage, or perhaps, not articulated at all ?—These indeed, will acknowledge great merit in the work, are my sentiments as much as ever they were, and think himself much indebted to the skill of such though my days are all running to waste among an artist, but he will never acknowledge, as in truth Greeks and Trojans. The night cometh when no he never can feel, that the best resemblance exhibits man can work; and if I am ordained to work to all the graces that he discerns in the beloved origibetter purpose, that desirable period cannot be far nal. So fares it with the admirers of Homer; his distant. My day is beginning to shut in, as every very translators themselves, feel so perfectly the man's must, who is on the verge of sixty." power of this predominant affection, that they gra
dually grow discontented with their own labor, how- share of health and cheerfulness which he enever approved in the moment of its supposed com- joyed. pletion. This was so remarkably the case with It is not to be expected that a mind like Cowper's Cowper, that in process of time we shall see him could remain for any lengthened period unemployemployed upon what may almost be called his se- ed. Accustomed as he had long been to intense apcond translation, so great were the alterations he plication, when he had completed his great work, made in a deliberate revisal of the work, for a se- he immediately felt the want of some other engagecond edition. And in the preface to that edition, he ment. To a mind less active than his, replying to has spoken of his own labor with the most frank his correspondents, which had now become most and ingenuous veracity. Yet of his first edition it extensive, would have been employment amply sufmay, I think, be fairly said, that it accomplished ficient--especially as he was considerably in arrears more than any of his poetical predecessois had with them, owing to his previous labors. This, achieved before him. It made the nearest approach however, was not enough for Cowper. He wanted to that sweet majestic simplicity which forms one something more worthy of his powers; something of the most attractive features in the great prince that required more vigor of thought, and demanded and father of poets."
more severe application. Several of his friends If Cowper had derived no other benefit from his again urged him for original composition, and in translation, than that of constant employment, for all probability they would have been successful, had so long a time, when he stood so much in need of he not, about this time, received a letter from his it, it would have been to him invaluable, as the best publisher, of whose judgment and integrity he had and most effectual remedy for that inordinate sensi- always entertained a high opinion, recommending bility to which he was subject. Besides this, how- him to prepare materials for a splendid edition of ever, it procured him other advantages of para- Milton. To this proposal Cowper immediately asmount importance; it improved the general state of sented. He had always expressed himself delight. his health; it introduced him to a circle of literary ed with Milton's poetry, and on one occasion, in a friends, whom he would otherwise never have letter to his friend Mr. Unwin, had thus ventured known, and who, when they once knew him, could to defend his character from the severe censures not fail to feel affectionately interested in his wel- cast upon him by Johnson, in his “Lives of the fare; it brought him into closer contact with those Poets:" "I have been well entertained with Jojin. with whom he had previously been acquainted, by son's biography, for which I thank you; with one: inducing him to avail himself of their kind offers exception, and that a swinging one, I think he has and assistance in the transcribing way,* which to a acquitted' himself with his usual good sense and mind like his could not fail to become a source of sufficiency. His treatment of Milton is unmercialmost uninterrupted enjoyment; it established his ful, to the last degree. He has belabored that great reputation as a most accomplished scholar, and un- poet's character with the most industrious cruelly: questionably ranked him among the highest class As a man, he has hardly left him the shadow of of poets.
one good quality. Churlishness in his private life, A living writer has well remarked, that " to Cow- and a rancorous hatred of every thing royal in his per's translation of Homer, we are beholden, not public, are the two colors with which he has smearonly for the pleasure which a perusal will be sure ed all the canvas. If he had any virtues, they are to afford to reasonable and patient readers, but we not to be found in the Doctor's picture of him, and may attribute to its happy possession of his mind all it is well for Milton, that some sourness in his temthe beautiful and inimitable letters which appear in per is the only vice with which his memory has been his correspondence, during the progress of that charged: it is evident enough, that if his biograwork. The toil of daily turning over the thoughts pher could have discovered more, he would not of the greatest of poets, in every form of English have spared him. As a poet he has treated him that his ingenuity could devise, occupied, for many with severity enough, and has plucked one or two years, that very portion of his time which, with a of the most beautiful feathers out of his muse's person of no profession, and having no stated du- wing, and trampled them under his great foot. He ties to perform, lies heaviest upon the spirit. The has passed sentence of condemnation upon Lycidas, salutary exercise of his morning studies made him and has taken occasion from that charming poem, relish with keener zest, the relaxation of his social to expose to ridicule (what is indeed ridiculous hours, or those welcome opportunities of epistolary enough) the childish prattlings of pastoral compoconverse with the absent, in which it is evident that silions, as if Lycidas was the prototype and pattern much of the little happiness allowed to him lay; he of them all. The liveliness of the description, the is never more at home, consequently never more sweetness of the numbers, the classical spirit of anamiable, sprightly, and entertaining, and even poe- tiquity that prevails in it, go for nothing. I am contical, than in his correspondence, when he pours vinced by the way, that he has no ear for poetical out all the treasures of his mind and the affections numbers, or that it was stopped by prejudice against of his heart, upon the paper which is to be the the harmony of Milton's. Was there ever any speaking representative of himself to those he loves. thing so delightful as the music of the Paradise It has often been regretted that instead of this labor Lost? It is like that of a fine organ; has the fullin vain, as the translation of Homer has sometimes est and the deepest tones of majesty, with all the seemed to many, he had not spent an equal portion softness and elegance of the Dorian Aute. Variety of time and talent on original composition. The without end, and never equalled, unless perhaps by regret is at least as much bestowed in vain, as was Virgil. Yet the Doctor has little or nothing to say that labor, for there is no well-founded reason to upon this copious theme, but talks something about suppose, from the momentary jeopardy in which he the unfitness of the English language for blank lived, of being plunged into sudden, irretrievable verse, and how apt it is, in the mouth of some readespondence, that if he had been otherwise em-ders, to degenerate into declamation." ployed, he could have maintained even that small Cowper had no sooner made up his mind on the
subject of his new engagement, than he communi. It is said that Broome assisted Pope very largely cated it to his correspondents. To one he writes, in his translation of Homer; but Cowper had no as- "I am deep in a new literary engagement, being sistant in that way. All the Throckmorton family, retained by my bookseller as editor of an intended Lady Hesketh, Mrs. Johnson, and many others, helped most magnificent edition of Milton's Poetical him as transcribors, and only as such.
Works. This will occupy me as much as Homer
did, for a year or two to come; and when I have
It is the allotment of the skies, finished it, I shall have run through all the degrees The band of the supremely wise, of my profession, as author, translator, and editor.
That guides and governs our affections, I know not that a fourth could be found; but if a
And plans and orders our connections.' fourth can be found, I dare say I shall find it. I am now translating Milton's Latin poems. I give them, “These charming lines strike with peculiar force as opportunity offers, all the variety of measure that on my mind, when I recollect that it was an idle I can. Some I render in heroic rhymes, some in endeavor to make us enemies which gave rise to stanzas, some in seven, some in eight syllable mea our intimacy, and that I was providentially consure, and some in blank verse. They will altoge- ducted to Weston at a season when my presence ther, I hope, make an agreeable miscellany for the there afforded peculiar comfort to my affectionate English reader. They are certainly good in them- friend, under the pressure of a very heavy domesselves, and cannot fail to please, but by the fault of tic affliction which threatened to overwhelm his their translator."
very tender spirits. The entreaty of many persons One of his most esteemed correspondents, the whom I wished to oblige, had engaged me to write Rev. Walter Bagot, attempted to dissuade him from a life of Milton, before I had the slightest suspicion entering upon his new engagement, and urged him that my work could interfere with the projects of to publish in a third volume, what original pieces any man; but I was soon surprised and concerned he had already composed, added to a translation of in hearing that I was represented in a newspaper as Milton's Latin and Italian poems. Had this plan
an antagonist of Cowper. I immediately wrote to been suggested to him earlier, he would, in all pro- him on the subject, and our correspondence soon bability, have pursued it, as he thus writes to his endeared us to each other in no common degree friend on the subject :-"As to Milton, the die is The series of his letters to me I value, not only as cast. I am engaged, have bargained with Johnson, memorials of a most dear and honorable friendand cannot recede. 'I should otherwise have been ship, but as exquisite examples of epistolary excel
lence." glad to do as you advise, to make the translation of his Latin and Italian poems part of another volume,
The above interesting extract will have informed for with such an addition, I have nearly as much the reader that Mr. Hayley paid Cowper a visit at verse in my budget as would be required for the Weston; this visit, however, so gratifying to both purpose."
parties, did not take place till the beginning of From some expressions in a letter to the Rev. Mr. met with one of the heaviest domestic calamities he
May, 1792. In the December previous, Cowper Hurdis, the author of the Village Curate, with had ever experienced. Mrs. Unwin, his affectionwhom Cowper had entered into a correspondence, ate companion, who had watched over him with so a few months previous to this, and to whom he had much tenderness and anxiety, for so many years, written several most interesting letters, it would ap- was suddenly attacked with strong symptoms of pear as if he entered upon his new engagement paralysis. În a letter to his friend, Mr. Rose, rather precipitately, and without due consideration. dated 21st December, 1791, Cowper thus relates this "I am much obliged to you for wishing that I were painful event:~"On Saturday last, while I was at employed in some original work, rather than in my desk, near the window, and Mrs. Unwin at the translation.
To tell the truth, I am of your mind; fire-side opposite to it, I heard her suddenly exclaim, and unless I could find another Homer, I shall 'Oh! Mr. Cowper, don't let me fall! I turned, and promise (I believe) and vow, when I have done with Milton, never to translate again. But my just in time to prevent her. She was seized with a
saw her actually falling, and started to her side veneration for our great countryman is equal to violent giddiness, which lasted, though with some what I feel for the Grecian; and consequently I am abatement, the whole day, and was attended with happy, and feel mrself honorably employed, whatever I do for Milton. I am now translating his some other very, very alarming symptoms. At preEpitaphium Domovis; a pastoral, in my judgment, sent, however, she is relieved from the vertigo, and eqnal o any of Virgil's Bricolics, but of which Dr! Seems, in all respects, better. She has been my Johnson (so it pleased him) speaks, as I remember, consequently has a claim on all my attentions. She
faithful and affectionate nurse for many years, and contemptuously. But he who never saw any beauty has them, and will have them, as long as she wants in a rural scene, was not likely to have much taste them, which will probably be, at the least, a confor a pastoral. In pace quiescat !"
siderable time to come. I feel the shock, as you Among other consequences resulting from his may suppose, in every nerve. God grant that there new undertaking, one of the most gratifying to may be no repetition of it. Another such a stroke himself was, its becoming the means of introducing upon her would, I think, overset me completely; him to an acquaintance with his esteemed friend, but, at present, I hold up bravely." and future biographer, Mr. Hayley. This impor Notwithstanding the interruption of Cowper's tant event in Cowper's life--so it afterwards proved studies, occasioned by Mrs. Unwin's indisposition, -is related with so much beauty and simplicity by and by the extreme slowness of her recovery, he Mr. Hayley, in his life of Cowper, and reflects a had now become so much accustomed to regular lustre so bright on both the biographer and the poet, employment, and had derived from it so many adthat we cannot do better than give it in his own vantages, that he could not possibly remain inactive. words. Mr. Hayley thus relates the circumstance: In the month of February we find him thus employ“As it is to Milton that I am in a great measure in- ed :-"Milton, at present, engrosses me altogether. debted for what I must ever regard as a signal bless- His Latin pieces I have translated, and have begun ing, the friendship of Cowper, the reader will par- with the Italian. These are few, and will not dedon me for dwelling a little on the circumstances tain me long. I shall proceed immediately to dethat produced it-circumstances which often lead liberate upon, and to setile the plan of my commenme to repeat those sweet verses of my friend, on tary, which I have hitherto had but little time to the casual origin of our valuable attachments consider. I look forward to it, for this reason, with
some anxiety. I trust, at least, that this anxiety will • Mysterious are His ways whose power cease, when I have once satisfied myself about the Brings forth that unexpected hour,
best manner of conducting it. But, after all, I seem When minds that never met before
to fear more the labor to which it calls, than any Shall meet, unite, and part no more:
great difficulty with which it is likely to be anended.