« 前へ次へ »
"Obscurest night involved the sky,
friend, inspired me with a lively, but too sanguine The Alantic billows roared,
hope, that I might see him once more restored.
Alas! the verses which I surveyed as a delightful
expressibly dear to me, proved the last effort of his
Cowper's weakness now very rapidly increased,
and by the end of February it had become so great
as to render him incapable of enduring the fatigue
In a few days he ceased to come down stairs, though
he was still able, after breakfasting in bed, to ad-
journ to another room, and to remain there till the
evening. By the end of the ensuing March, he was No poet wept him, but the page
compelled to forego even this trifling exercise. He Of narrative sincere,
was now entirely confined to his bed-room; he was, That tells his name, his worth, his age,
however, still able to sit up to every meal excepi Is wet with Anson's lear:
His friend, Mr. Rose, about this time, paid bim a
visit. Such, however, was the melancholy change
which his complicated maladies had produced upon Descanting on his fate!
his mind, that he expressed no pleasure at the arTo give the melancholy theme
rival of one whom he had previously been accusA more enduring date.
tomed to greet with the most cordial reception. Mr.
Rose remained with him till the first week in April,
witnessing with much sorrow the sufferings of the
afflicted poet, and kindly sympathizing with his disNo voice divine the storm allay'd,
tressed relations and friends. Little as Cowper had
appeared to enjoy his company, he evinced symp-
Both Lady Hesketh and Mr. Hayley would have
followed the humane example of Mr. Rose, in vi-
by circumsiances over which they had no control. Anxious as all his friends now were, that he The health of the former had suttered considerably should be constantly employed, as this proved the by her long confinement with Cowper, at the combest remedy for his depression, they were frequent- mencement of his last attack, and the latter was ly pained to see himn reduced to a state of hopeless detained by the impending death of a darling child. inactivity, owing to the severity of his mental an Mr. Johnson informs us, in his sketch of the poet's guish. At these seasons, what suited him best was life, that, “on the 19th April the weakness of this Mr. Johnson's reading to him, which he was accus- truly pitiable sufferer, had so much increased that tomed to do, almost invariably for a length of time, his kinsman apprehended his death to be near. Adevery day. And so industriously had he perseve: verting, therefore, to the affliction, as well of body red in this method of relieving the poet's mind, that as of mind, which his beloved inmate was then enafter having exhausted numerous works of fiction during, he ventured to speak of his approaching which had the power of attracting his attention, he dissolution as the signal of his deliverance from began to read to his afflicted relative the poet's own both these miseries. After a pause of a few moworks. Cowper evinced no disapprobation to this ments, which was less interrupted by the objections till the reader arrived at the history of John Gilpin, of his desponding relative than he had dared to hope, when he entreated his relative to desist.
he proceeded to an observation more consolatory It became evident towards the close of 1799, that still-namely, that in the world to which he was his bodily strength was rapidly declining, though his hastening, a merciful Redeemer, who had prepared mental powers, notwithstanding the unmitigated se- unspeakable happiness for all his children, and verity of his depression, remained unimpaired. In therefore for him To the first part of this January, 1800, Mr. Johnson observed in him many sentence he had listened with composure, but the symptoms which he thought very unfavorable. This concluding words were no sooner uitered than bis induced him to call in additional medical advice. passionately expressed entreaties that his companion His complaint was pronounced to be, not as has been would desist from any further observations of a sigenerally stated, dropsical, but a breaking up of the milar kind, clearly proved that though he was on constitution. Remedies however were tried, and the eve of being invested with angelic light, the he was recommended to take as much gentle exer- darkness of delusion still veiled his spirit.” cise as he could bear. To this recommendation he On the following day, which was Sunday, he rediscovered no particular aversion, and Mr. Johnson vived a little. Mr. Johnson, on repairing to his took him for a ride in a post-chaise as often as cir-room, after he had discharged his clerical duties, cumstances would permit; it was, however, with found him in bed and asleep. He did not, however, considerable difficulty he could be prevailed upon leave the room, but remained watching him, expectto use such medicines as it was thought necessary ing he might, on awaking, require his assistance. to employ.
Whilst engaged in this melancholy office, and enAbout this time his friend Mr. Hayley wrote to deavoring to reconcile his mind to the loss of so him, expressing a wish that he would new-model a dear a friend, by considering the gain which that passage in his translation of the Iliad, where men- friend would experience, his reflections were sudtion is made of the very ancient sculpture in which denly interrupted by the singularly varied tone in Dædalus had represented the Cretan dance for Ari- which Cowper then began to breathe. Imaginadne. “On the 31st January,” says Mr. Hayley, "Iling it to be ihe sound of his immediate summons, received from him his improved version of the lines after listening to it for several minutes, he arose in question, written in a firm and delicate hand. froin the foot of the bed on which he was sitting, to The sight of such writing from my long silent take a nearer, and, as he supposed, a last view of
his departing relative, commending his soul to that sure they have never been in print, though he rather gracions Saviour, whom, in the fulness of mental inclines to think such is the case. health, he had delighted to honor. As he put aside the curtains, Cowper opened his eyes, but closed And is the spirit of the Poet fled ? them again without speaking, and breathed as usual.
Yes, from its earthly tenement 'tis flown; On Monday he was much worse; though, towards And death at length hath added to the dead the close of the day, he revived sufficiently to take
The sweetest minstrel that the world has known, a little refreshment. The two following days he Too nice, too great, his sympathy of soul; evidently continued to sink rapidly. He revived a little on Thursday, but, in the course of the night, That sense became impatient of control,
For, oh! bis feelings were so much refined, he appeared exceedingly exhausted: some refresh
And darkness seized the empire of his mind. ment was presented to him by Miss Perowne, but, owing to a persuasion that nothing could afford him But when Reflection threw her eagle eye relief, though without any apparent impression that Athwart the gloom of unpropitious fate, the hand of death was already upon him, he mildly Faith op'd a splendid vista to the sky, rejected the cordial with these words, the last he And gave an earnest of a happier state: was heard to utter—"What can it signify?”
Early on Friday morning, the 25th, à decided To see, whilst sceptics to the effects of chance alteration for the worse was perceived to have taken
Ascribe creation's ever-varying form ; place. A deadly change appeared in his counte. To see distinctly, at the first slight glance, nance. In this insensible state he remained till a
Who wings the lightning, and who drives the storm few minutes before five in the afternoon, when he to brush the cobweb follies from the great, gently, and without the slightest apparent pain, Which Art, with all her sophistry, has spread; ceased to breathe, and his happy spirit escaped from Uphold the honor of a sinking state, his body, in which, amidst the thickest gloom of And bid Religion raise her drooping head. darkness, it had so long been imprisoned, and took its flight to the regions of perfect purity and bliss. Such were the objects of the enraptured bard,
In such his lucid intervals he passed; In a manner so mild and gentle did death make its approach, that though his kinsman, his medical at- And knowing Virtue was her own reward, tendant, and three others, were standing at the foot
Wooed, and revered, and loved her to the last. of the bed, with their eyes fixed upon his dying Know, then, that Death has added to his list countenance, the precise moment of his departure As sweet a bard as ever swept a lyre; was unobserved by any.
In Death's despite his memory shall exist "From this mournful period,” writes Mr. John In numbers pregnant with celestial fire. son, " till the features of his deceased friend were Yes, Cow per! with thy own expressive lays, closed from his view, the expression which the kinsman of Cowper observed in them, and which Thy name shall triumph o'er the lapse of days,
Lays which have haply many a mind illum'd, he was affectionately delighted to suppose an index of the last thoughts and enjoyments of his soul in
And only perish when the world's consumed ! its gradual escape from the depths of despondence, was that of calmness and composure, iningled, as it
CHAPTER XVIII. were, with holy surprise."
Description of his person, his manners, his disposition, his piety. His He was buried in that part of Dereham church, attachment to the Established Church. His attainments. Origicalled Si. Edmund's Chapel, on Saturday, the 20
nality of his poetry. His religious sentiments. The warmth of May, 1800; and his funeral was attended by several his friendship. His attachment to the British constitution. His of his relatives. In a literary point of view, his industry and perseverance. Happy manner in which he could long and painful affliction had ever been regarded console the afflicted. His occasional intervals of enjoyment. Chaas a national calamity; a deep and almost universal racter as a writer. Powers of description. Beauty of his letters. sympathy was felt in his behalf; and by all men of His aversion to flattery, to affectation, to cruelly. His love of liberlearning and of piety, his death was looked upon as
ty, and dread of its abuse. Strong attachment to, and intiinate acan eveni of no common importance.
quaintance with the Scriptures. Pleasure with which he sometimes
viewed the works of creation. Contentment of his mind. Extract As he died without a will, his amiable and be
from an anonymous critic. Poetic tribute lo his memory. loved relation, Lady Hesketh, kindly undertook to become his adminisi rairix. She raised a tablet mo
It is scarcely necessary to add any thing on the subnurnent to his memory, with the following inscrip- that has already been given of it in this memoir: we
ject of Cowper's characier, after the ample delineation tion:
shall, however, subjoin the following brief remarks, IN MEMORY OF
which could not so conveniently be introduced in any
other part of the narrative. WILLIAM COWPER, Esq.,
Cowper was of the middle stature; he had a fine, BORN IN HERTFORDSHIRE, open, and expressive countenance; that indicated much
thoughtfulness, and almost excessive sensibility. His 1731.
eyes were more remarkable for the expression of tenBURIED IN THIS CHURCH,
derness than of penetration. The general expression
of his countenance partook of that sedate cheerfulness, 1800.
which so strikingly characterizes all his original pro
ductions, and which never failed to impart a peculiar Ye who with warmth the public triumph feel
charm to his conversation. His limbs were more reor talents, dignified by sacred zeal,
markable for strength than for delicacy of form. He Here, to devotion's bard, devoutly just,
possessed a warm temperament; and he says of himself, Pay your fond tribute, due to Cowper's dust! in a letter to his cousin Mrs. Bodham, dated February England, exulting in his spotless fame,
27, 1790, that he was naturally "somewhat irritable, Ranks with her dearest sons his favorite name!
but, if he was, his religious principles had so subdued
that tendency, that a near relation, who was intimately Sense, fancy, wit, suffice pot all to raise
acquainted with him the last ten years of his life, never So clear a title to affection's praise :
saw his temper ruffled in a single instarce. His highest honors to the heart belong
His manners were generally somewhat shy and reHis virtues formed the magic of his song.
served, particularly to strangers: when, however, he
was in perfect health, and in such society as was quite The following lines have been kindly handed to congenial to his taste, they were perfectly free and un the author by a friend, in manuscript. He is not l embarrassed; his conversation was unrestrained and
cheerful, and his whole deportment was the most polite much accustomed to the style and manner of others, it and graceful, especially to females, towards whom he is almost impossible to avoid it, and we imitate, in spite conducted himself, on all occasions, with the strictest of ourselves, just in the same proportion as we admire." delicacy and propriety.
Cowper's mode of expressing his thoughts is entirely Much as Cowper was admired by those who knew original : his blank verse is not the blank verse of Mila him only as a writer, or as an occasional correspondent, ton, or of any other poet. His numbers, his pauses, his he was infinitely more esteemed by his more intimate diction, are all of his own growth, without transcription, friends ; indeed, the more intimately he was known, the and without imitation. If he thinks in a peculiar train, more he was beloved and revered. Nor was this affec- it is always as a man of genius, and what is better still, tionate attachment so much the result of his brilliant as a man of ardent and unaffected piety. His predecestalents, as it was of the real goodness of his disposition, sors had circumscribed themselves, both in the choice and gentleness of his conduct.
and management of their subjects, by the observance of Cowper was emphatically, in the strictest and most a limited number of models, who were thought to have scriptural sense of the term, a good man. His good- exhausted all the legitimate resources of the art. “But ness, however, was not the result of mere effort, uncon- Cowper,” says a great modern critic, "at once ventured nected with Christian principles, nor did it arise from to cross this enchanted circle, and thus regained the the absence of those evil dispositions of which all have natural liberty of invention, and walked abroad in the reason, more or less, to complain; on the contrary, all open field of observation as freely as those by whom it his writings prove that he felt and deplored the existence was originally trodden. He passed from the imitation of evil affections, and was only able to suppress them of poets to the imitation of nature, and ventured boldly by a cordial reception of the gospel of Christ, and the upon the representation of objects that none before him diligent use of those means enforced under that pure had imagined could be employed in poetic imagery. In and self-denying dispensation. Nor was the goudness the ordinary occupations, occurrences, and duties of doof Cowper a mere negative goodness, inducing him only mestic life, he found a multitude of subjects for ridicule to avoid doing evil; it is evident, from many passages, and reflection, for pathetic and picturesque description, both from his poetic and prose productions, that he ever for moral declamation and devotional rapture, that looked upon his talents, not as his own, but as belong. would have been looked upon with disdain or despair by ing to Him from whom he had received them. Under all his predecessors. He took, as wide a range in lanthe influence of this impression, all his best and most guage too, as in matter; and shaking off the tawdry enImportant original productions were unquestionably cumbrance of that poetical diction which had nearly rewritten. Desirous of communicating to his fellow-men duced poetry to a skilful coilection of a set of appropriatthe same invaluable benefits which he had himself re- ed phrases, he made no scruple 10 set down in verse ceived from the simple yet sublime truths of Christia- every expression that would have been admitted in nity, and incapable of attempting it in any other way prose; and to take advantage of all the varieties and than that of becoming an author, he took up his pen changes of which our language is susceptible." and produced those unrivalled poems, which, while they It has been justly remarked, " that between the poetry delight the mere literary reader for their elegance, of Cowper and that of Dryden and Pope, and some of beauty, and sublimity, are no less interesting to the their successors, there is an immense difference. It Christian for the accurate and striking delineations of would be easy to show how little he owed to his immereal religion, with which they abound. As long as the diate forerunners, and how much his immediate followEnglish language exists, they will most eagerly be ers have been indebted to him. All the cant phrases, sought after, both by the scholar and by the Christian. all the technicalities of the former school, he utterly
Cowper was warmly attached to the religion of the threw away; and by his rejection of them, they became established church, in which he had been trained up, obsolete. He boldly adopted cadences of verse unaland which, like his friend Mr. Newton, he calmly and tempted before, which, though frequently uncouth, and deliberately preferred to any other. His attachment, sometimes scarcely reducible to rhyme were not selhowever, was not that of the narrow-minded bigot dom ingeniously significant, and signally energetic. He which blinds the mind to the excellencies of every other feared not to employ colloquial, philosophical, judicial religious community; on the contrary, it was ihe at- idioms, and forms of argument and illustration, which tachment of the firm and steady friend of religious liber- enlarged the vocabulary of poetical terms, less by recurty, in the most liberal sense of the term, Of a sectarian ring to obsolete ones, than by hazardous, and generally spirit he was ever the open and avowed opponent. He happy innovations of his own invention, which have sincerely and very highly respected the conscientious of since become dignified by usage; but which Pope and all parties. In one of his letters to Mr. Newton, advert- his imitators durst not have touched. The eminent ading to a passage in his writings that was likely to ex venturous revivers of English poetry, about thirty years pose him to the charge of illiberality, he thus writes. ago, Southey, Wordsworth, an Coleridge, in their
When I wrote the passage in question, I was not at all blank verse, trod directly in the steps of Cowper; and, aware of any impropriety
in it. I am however, glad you in their early productions at least, were each in a meahave condemned it; and though I do not feel as if I sure what he had made them. Cowper may be legiti. could presently supply its place, shall be willing to at: mately styled the father of this triumvirate, who are, in tempt the task, whatever labor it may cost me; and truth, the living fathers of an innumerable company of rejoice that it will not be in the power of the critics, modern poets, whom no ingenuity can well classify and whatever else they may charge me with, to accuse me arrange. of bigotry, or a design to make a certain denomination The poetry of Cowper is in the highest degree deservodious at the hazard of the public peace. I had rather ing the honorable appellation of Christian poetry. He my book should be burnt, than a single line guilty of consecrated his muse to the service of that pure and such tendency should escape me.'
self-denying religion, taught by Christ and his apostles. Cowper's attainments as a scholar were highly re- In this respect his poems differed from the productions spectable; he was master of four languages, besides bis of any writers that had then appeared, with the excepown: Greek, Latin, Italian, and French; and though tion of Milton and Young. Both these individuals, his reading was by no means so extensive as that of though they wrote on religious subjects, yet in all prosome, it was turned to better account, as he was a most bability wrote principally for fame ; with Cowper, howthoughtful and attendive reader, and it was undoubtedly ever, the desire of doing good predominated over every amply sufficient for every purpose, with a genius so bril- other feeling; and the hope of emolument, nay, even liant, and a mind so original as his.
the love of fame itself, was looked upon as subordinate The productions of Cowper were eminently and en to this great object, the last to which poets generally tirely his own; he had neither borrowed from, nor imi- pay any consideration. To YOUNG, Cowper was evitated any one. He copied from none, either as to his dently superior, in every thing that constitutes real subjects, or the manner of treating them. All was the poetic excellence: and equal to Milton in the ease and creation of his own inventive genius. Adverting to this elegance of his compositions, and in the vivacity and circumstance, in one of his letters, he thus writes:-"I beauty of his imagery, though seldom, and perhaps reckon it among my principal advantages as a composer never, rising to that majestic sublimity to which the of verses, that I have not read an English poet these author of Paradise Lost sometimes soared, and in which thirteen years, and but one these twenty years. Imita- he stands unrivalled among modern, if not among ancient tion even of the best models is my aversion; it is a ser poets. Milton's matchless poem is a most sublime devile and mechanical trick, that has enabled many to scription of the great facts of the Christian system usurp the name of author, who could not have written every line of it fills the reader with surprise. Hurried at all, if they had not written upon the pattern of some on through a profusion of imagery splendid and grand, original. But when the ear and the taste have been and never inelegant, tawdry, or ungraceful, the mind be
comes astonished, and is much more powerfully affected} was the first to show that poetry may be made the than the heart. We look in vain for those touching ap- | handmaid to religion. When he gave to the world peals to the affections with which Cowper's poetry the productions of his unrivalled pen, they saw, indeed, abounds, which come home to the bosoms and hearts of all.
-"a hard all fire,
Touched with a coal from heaven, assume the lyre, "Poet and Saint, to him is justly given,
And tell the world, still kindling as he sung, The two most sacred names of earth and heaven." With more than mortal music on his tongue, In the productions of Milton and Young, there is not
That he who died below, and reigns above, much of practical, and still less of experimental, piety.
Inspires the song, and that his name was love." They confined themselves chiefly to the theory of re Cowper's religious sentiments were undoubtedly Calligion. Cowper, on the contrary, whose views of the vinistic, and though his views of divine truth were gegreat leading truths of Christianity were equally, if not nerally unexceptionable, they were sometimes rather more comprehensive, describes, with unequalled sim- strongly tinged with the peculiarities of that system. plicity and beauty, those less splendid, but not less useful, On no occasion, however, ihat comes within our recolparts of religion, which his predecessors had left almost lection, do we find him 'speaking of the character of untouched : hence the superiority of his muse to theirs God in such terms as would lead any, who were sinin these respects. No uninspired orator ever so happily cerely desirous of approaching Him in the way of his and so strikingly described the operations of Divine own appointment, to doubt of gracious reception at his grace upon the human soul. The gospel had come home hands. His own case, indeed, must be excepted, as his to him, not in word only, but in demonstration of the melancholy depression ever led him to regard himself as Spirit, and in power. He not only possessed a compre a solitary instance of the rejection of God and of the hensive knowledge of the Christian system, which en- reversal of his decree. It could seldom, if ever, be inabled him, whenever he had occasion for it, to describe ferred from any of his representations, that he thought and illustrate, with all the force and beauty of poetic en- the Divine Being, by the mere excercise of his sove. chantinent, that solid foundation on which the Christian reignty, continued any of his creatures, except, indeed, builds his hopes, but he had himself felt the astonishing it were himself, in a state of suffering in the present life, efficacy of these truths on the heart, when truly and or placed them beyond the means of escaping from cordially received. This accounts for the unrivalled misery in the future. His views of the atonement, and felicity with which he describes the happy influence of of the infinite extent of its efficacy, were such as led Christianity in all cases where it is righily embraced, him, whenever he had occasion to advert to it, to repreunless, as in his own case, its influence be prevented by sent it truly, as a solid ground of hope and comfort, to some unaccountable bodily distemper. Treating the great every converted sinner, whatever might have been his peculiarities of the Christian sysiem-the depravily of character. He felt an entire conviction that he whose man--the necessity of regeneration-the efficacy of the infinite compassion had prompted him to make proatonement-access to God, through the Divine Spirit -- I vision for the restoration of fallen man to his favor, justification by faith, with others of a like kind, not intended it to be universally beneficial; and that the merely as subjects of inquiry, but as things which had perverseneas and obstinacy of men were the only reabeen to him matters of actual experience, it is no won sons why it was not so. That he should have regarded der that his muse sometimes carried him to a depth of his own case as an exception, and should, consequently, Christian feeling, unsung, and even unattempted before. have passed the greater part of his life in the bitterness As he himself, in his poem on Charity, beautifully sings- of despair, is a difficulty which we are persuaded will, "When one that holds communion with the skies in the present life, for ever remain unaccounted for. To Has fill'd his urn, where these pure waters rise,
assert, as some have done, on no other foundation than And once more mingles with us meaner things, that of mere opinion, that had he not been religious he 'Tis e'en as if an angel shook his wings;
would never have been melancholy, is utterly at variImmortal fragrance fills the circuit wide,
ance with all the leading facis of his history. To every That tells us whence his treasures are supplied." well regulated mind, it will be abundantly evident, that, "Cowper," as Mr. Hayley justly observes, “accom- whatever reasons may be assigned for the affecting pe plished as a poet, the sublimest object of poetic ambition culiarity of his case, the deep concern he felt for religion - he has dissipated the general prejudice that held it could never have been the cause. On the contrary, it hardly possible for a modern author to succeed in will appear clearly 10 have been much more likely to sacred poetry. He has proved that verse and devotion become the best preventive, as, in fact, the events of are natural allies. He has shown that true poetical his life prove it to have been, though, owing to some ungenius cannot be more honorably or more delightfully accountable organic conformation, much less completeemployed than in diffusing through the heart and mind | ly than might have been hoped. of man a filial affection for his Maker, with a firm and
No person was ever more alive to the benefits of real cheerful trust in his word. He has sung in a strain, in friendship, or had ever formed more correct conceptions some degree at least equal to the great subject, the of its obligations and delights. His inimitable stanzas, blessed advent of the Messiah; and perhaps it will not
on this most interesting subject, which are perhaps be saying too much, to assert that his poetry will have superior to any thing that has ever been written upon no inconsiderable influence in preparing the world for it
, prove inconiestibly that he understood what were its the cordial reception of all the rich blessings which this indispensable prerequisites, and his whole conduct event was intended to introduce."
through life shows that he felt the full force of that Up to the period when Cowper's productions were friendship which he so admirably described. It is difficult given to the world, it was foolishly imagined impossible to make extracts from a poem, every line of which is successfully to employ the graces and beauties of poetry selves the pleasure of presenting our readers with the siderately declared that "contemplative piety cannot be following admirable lines : poetical.”. Had he asserted only, that it had very rarely
Who hopes a friend, should have a heart been so, the assertion would not have been unjust. It
Himself, well furnished for the part, would, indeed, have coincided with the views entertain
And ready on occasion, ed by Cowper himself; for, of his predecessors' produc:
To show the virtue that he seeks; tions, with few exceptions, no one could have formed
For 'tis a union that bespeaks a more correct opinion, as will appear by the following
A just reciprocation. lines : "Pity religion has so seldom found
A man renowned for repartee A skilful guide into poetic ground !
Will seldom scruple to make free The flowers would spring where'er she deigned to stray,
With friendship's finest feeling; And every muse attend her in her way.
Will thrust a dagger at your breast, Virtue indeed meets many a rhyming friend,
And tell you 'twas a special jest, And many a compliment politely penned ;
By way of balm for healing. But unattired in that becoming vest
Beware of tattlers! keep your ear Religion weaves for her, and half undressed,
Close stopt against the tales they bear, Stands in the desert, shivering and forlorn,
Fruits of their own invention ! A wintry figure, like a withered thorn.''
The separation of chief friends, This censure, severely as it may fall on most of Cow Is what their business most intends, per's predecessors, is not unjust." His muse, however,
Their sport is your dissension.
Religion should extinguish strife,
ence of mind, which is a prime constituent in the chaAnd make a calm of human life:
racter of every great man. Several incidents, how. But even those who differ
ever, are related of him, which go to prove that such Only on topics left at large,
was very far from being the case. His conduci to Mr. How fiercely will they meet, and charge ;
Unwin and Mr. Newton, who both in their turns, at No combatants are stiffer.
different times, thought themselves entitled to comThen judge, before you choose your man,
plain of some neglect, proves that he allowed not the As circumspectly as you can;.
affection of friendship to intrench upon his right to And having made election,
judge at all times for bimself. Alluding to Mr. NewSee that no disrespect of yours,
ion's displeasure, he remarks to another friend :-"If he Such as a friend but ill endures,
says more on the subject I shall speak freely, and perhaps
please him less than I have already done." Almost in Enfeeble his affection
ihe same breath, however, evincing his deep knowledge As similarity of mind,
of human nature, he adds :-" But we shall jumble toOr something not to be defined,
gether again, as people, who have an affection for each First rivets our attention;
other at the bottom, never fail to do." On one occaSo manners decent and polite,
sion, some friend having remarked to Cowper, that he The same we practised at first sight,'
knew a person who wished to see a sample of his verse, Must save it from declension.
before subscribing for his edition of Homer, he re
plied—“that when he dealt in wine, or cloth, or cheese, The man who hails you Tom, or Jack, And proves, by thumping on your back.
he would give samples, but of verse never.” The same
independence he evinced on another occasion, writing to His sense of your great merit;
the friend whom he had employed to negotiate for the Is such a friend, that one had need Be very much his friend indeed,
publication of his second volume of poetry, he remarks
-" If Johnson should stroke his chin, look up to the To pardon, or to bear it.
ceiling, and cry nymph! anticipate him, I beseech you, Some friends make this their prudent plan
at once, by saying that you know I should be very Say little and hear all you can;
sorry he should undertake for me to his own disadvanSafe policy, but hateful!
tage, or that my volume should be in any degree pressed So barren sands imbibe the shower,
upon him." But render neither fruit por flower,
The depressive malady under which Cowper labored Unpleasant and ungrateful.
through the greatest part of his life, might naturally be They whisper trivial things, and small;
supposed to have disqualified him entirely for the But io communicate at all
kind office of comforting those who were in distress : Things serious, deem improper.
in truth, however, no one had better learned the divine Their feculence and froth they show,
skill of strengthening the weak mind, of encouraging
the timid and trembling believer, of lifting up the But keep their best contents below, Just like a simmering copper.
weak hands that were hanging down, wiping the tear
of sorrow from the mournful eye, and directing the Pursue the theme, and you will find
Christian to look alone to heaven for support in all his A disciplin'd and furnish'd mind
difficulties. His poems abound with passages the most To be at least expedient;
tender and consolatory; enforcing with an eloquence, And, after summing all the rest,
persuasive and almost irresistible, humble submission Religion ruling in the breast,
io the Divine will, in circumstances the most discouA principal ingredient.
raging. The following lines, forming part of a poetic True friendship has, in short, a grace,
epistle to a lady in France, show how admirably he More than terrestrial, in its face,
could pour the healing oil of comfort into the wounded That proves it heaven-descended :
spirits of others, though he was unable to assuage the Man's love of woman not so pure,
grief of his own :Nor when sincerest, so securez,
"The path of sorrow, and that path alone, To last till life is ended."
Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown.
No trav’ller ever reached that blessed abode, Cowper was, through life, the warm, though not the
Who found not thorns and briers on the road. blind admirer of the British constitution; and though The world may dance along the flowery plain, he made no pretensions to the character of a politician,
Cheer'd as they go by many a sprightly strain. yet he took the liveliest interest in all that related to the honor and prosperity of his country, In one of his let But He, who knew what human hearts would prove, ters to Mr. Newton he thus writes : -"I learned when I
How slow to learn the dictates of his love; was a boy, being the son of a staunch Whig, and a man
That hard by nature, and of stubborn will, that loved his country, to glow with that patriotic enthusiasm which is apt to break forth into poetry, or at
A life of ease would make them harder still;
In pity to a chosen few, designed least to prompt a person, if he has any inclination that
To escape the common ruin of their kind, way, to poetical endeavors. After I was grown up, And said-Go spend them in the vale of tears! and while I lived in the Temple, I produced several half
Oh balmy gales of soul-reviving air, penny ballads, two or three of which had the honor of being popular. But un happily, the ardor I felt upon the
Oh salutary streams that murmur there,
These flowing from the fount of grace above! occasion, disdaining to be confined within the bounds
Those breathed from lips of everlasting love! of fact, pushed me upon uniting the prophetical with the
The flinty soil indeed their feet annoys, poetical character, and defeated its own purpose. I am Chill blasts of trouble nip their springing joys. glad it did. The less there is of this sort in my produc An envious world will interpose its frown, tions the better The stage of national affairs is such a
To mar delights superior to its own, fluctuating scene, that an event which seems probable
And many a pang, experienced still within, to-day becomes impossible to-morrow; and unless a Reminds them of their hated inmate, sin ! man were indeed a prophet, he cannot, but with the
But ills of every shape, of every name, greatest hazard of losing his labor, bestów his rhymes
Transformed to blessings, miss their cruel aim, upon future contingencies, which perhaps are never to And every moment's calm ibat soothes the breast, take place, but in his own wishes and in the reveries of
Is given in earnest of eternal rest. his own fancy.” The time which Cowper bestowed upon his transla
Ah! be not sad! although thy lot be cast
Far from the flock, and in a boundless waste; tion of Homer, and the indefatigable diligence with which he labored in this great work, notwithstanding
No shepherd's tents within thy view appear,
But the Chief Shepherd even there is near. his melancholy depression, until he had completed it,
Thy tender sorrows and thy plaintive strain prove that he was not easily to be diverted from what
Flow in a foreign land, but not in vain; he had once undertaken; and that few men were equal Thy tears all issue from a source divine, and perhaps none superior, to him, in those essential qualities of a truly great mind--industry and persevc
And every drop bespeaks a Saviour thine. rance.
Notwithstanding the almost unmitigated severity of It might be imagined that Cowper's very retired man- Cowper's sufferings, there were seasons in which he ner of life, had deprived him of that manly independ. I enjoyed some internal tranquillity, and was enabled to