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LIFE OF COWPER.

Tis thus I spend my moments here,
And wish myself a Dutch mynheer;
I then should have no need of wit;
For lumpish Hollander unfit!
Nor should I then repine at mud,
Or meadows deluged with a flood;
But in a bog live well content,
And find it just my element;
Should be a clod, and not a man;
Nor wish in vain for Sister Ann,
With charitable aid to drag
My mind out of its proper quag;
Should have the genius of a boor,
And no ambition to have more.

My dear Sister, You see my beginning I do not know but in time, I may proceed even to the printing of halfpenny balladsexcuse the coarseness of my paper-I wasted such a quantity before I could accomplish anything legible that I could not afford finer. I intend to employ an ingenious mechanic of the town to make me a longer case: for you may observe that my lines turn up their tails like Dutch mastiffs, so difficult do I find it to make the two halves, exactly coincide with

resemble the picture, or I have strangely
mistaken my man, and formed an erroneous
judgment of his character. With respect to
your face and figure, indeed, there I leave the
ladies to determine, as being naturally best
qualified to decide the point; but whether
you are perfectly the man of sense and the
gentleman, is a question in which I am as
much interested as they, and which, you be-
ing my friend, I am of course prepared to
settle in your favor. The lady (whom, when
you know her as well, you will love her as
much, as we do) is, and has been, during the
last fortnight, a part of our family. Before
she was perfectly restored to health, she re-
turned to Clifton. Soon after she came back,
No sooner was he gone than the chateau, be-
Mr. Jones had occasion to go to London.
ing left without a garrison, was besieged as
both heard and seen in the garden, and at the
regularly as the night came on. Villains were
doors and windows. The kitchen window in
took a complete pane of glass, exactly oppo-
particular was attempted, from which they
site to the iron by which it was fastened, but
providentially the window had been nailed to
the wood-work in order to keep it close, and
that the air might be excluded; thus they were
disappointed, and, being discovered by the
maid, withdrew. The ladies, being worn out
with continual watching and repeated alarms,
were at last prevailed upon to take refuge
Men furnished with firearms were
with us.
put into the house, and the rascals, having
treat. Mr. Jones returned; Mrs. Jones and
intelligence of this circumstance, beat a re-
Miss Green, her daughter, left us, but Lady
Austen's spirits having been too much dis-
turbed to be able to repose in a place where
she had been so much terrified, she was left
behind. She remains with us till her lodg-

A flood that precluded him from the con-
versation of such an enlivening friend was to
Cowper a serious evil; but he was happily

relieved from the apprehension of such disap-ings at the vicarage can be made ready for
pointment in future, by seeing the friend so her reception. I have now sent you what
pleasing and so useful to him very comfort-
ably settled as his next-door neighbor. An has occured of moment in our history since
event so agreeable to the poet was occasioned my last.
by circumstances of a painful nature, related
in a letter to Mr. Unwin, which, though it
bears no date of month or year, seems
perly to claim insertion in this place.

I say amen with all my heart to your obprofess themselves adepts in mathematical servation on religious characters. Men who pro-knowledge, in astronomy, or jurisprudence, are generally as well qualified as they would appear. The reason may be, that they are always liable to detection should they attempt to impose upon mankind, and therefore take care to be what they pretend. In religion alone a profession is often slightly taken up and slovenly carried on, because,

TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.

My dear William,-The modest terms in
which you express yourself on the subject of
Lady Austen's commendation embolden me
to add my suffrage to hers, and to confirm it

by assuring you that I think her just and well-forsooth, candor and charity require us to
founded in her opinion of you. The compli- hope the best, and to judge favorably of our
ment indeed glances at myself; for, were you neighbor, and because it is easy to deceive
less than she accounts you, I ought not to the ignorant, who are a great majority, upon
a particular party, contend furiously for what
afford you that place in my esteem which you this subject. Let a man attach himself to
are properly called evangelical doctrines, and
have held so long. My own sagacity, there-
fore, and discernment are not a little con-
the occasion, for either you enlist himself under the banner of some
cerned upon

each other.

We wait with impatience for the departure of this unseasonable flood. We think of you, and talk of you, but we can do no more till the waters shall subside. I do not think our correspondence should drop because we are within a mile of each other. It is but an imaginary approximation, the flood having in reality as effectually parted us as if the British channel rolled between us. Yours, my dear sister, with Mrs. Unwin's

best love,

W. C.

popular preacher, and the business is done. Behold a Christian! a saint! a phoenix! In the meantime, perhaps, his heart and his temper, and even his conduct, are unsanctified; possibly less exemplary than those of some avowed infidels. No matter he can talk-he has the Shibboleth of the true church-the Bible in his pocket, and a head well stored with notions. But the quiet, humble, modest, and peaceable person, who is in his practice what the other is only in his profession, who hates a noise, and therefore makes none, who, knowing the snares that are in the world, keeps himself as much out of it as he can, and never enters it but when duty calls, and even then with fear and trembling-is the Christian, that will always stand highest in the estimation of those who bring all characters to the test of true wisdom, and judge of the tree by its fruit.

You are desirous of visiting the prisoners; you wish to administer to their necessities, and to give them instruction. This task you will undertake, though you expect to encounter many things in the performance of it that will give you pain. Now this I can understand you will not listen to the sensibilities that distress yourself, but to the distresses of others. Therefore, when I meet with one of the specious praters above mentioned, I will send him to Stock, that by your diffidence he may be taught a lesson of modesty; by your generosity, a little feeling for others; and by your general conduct, in short, to chatter less and do more. Yours, my dear friend,

W. C.

TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. Olney, Feb. 16, 1782. Carraccioli says "There is something very bewitching in authorship, and that he who has once written will write again." It may be so; I can subscribe to the former part of his assertion from my own experience, having never found an amusement, among the many I have been obliged to have recourse to, that so well answered the purpose for which I used it. The quieting and composing effect of it was such, and so totally absorbed have I sometimes been in my rhyming occupation, that neither the past nor the future (those themes which to me are so fruitful in regret at other times) had any longer a share in my contemplation. For this reason, I wish, and have often wished, since the fit left me, that it would seize me again; but hitherto I have wished it in vain. I see no want of subjects, but I feel a total disability to discuss them. Whether it is thus with other writers or not I am ignorant, but I should suppose my case in this respect a little peculiar. The voluminous writers, at

least, whose vein of fancy seems always to have been rich in proportion to their occasions, cannot have been so unlike and so unequal to themselves. There is this difference between my poetship and the generality of them-they have been ignorant how much they have stood indebted to an Almighty power for the exercise of those talents they have supposed their own. Whereas I know, and know most perfectly, and am perhaps to be taught it to the last, that my power to think, whatever it be, and consequently my power to compose, is, as much as my outward form, afforded to me by the same hand that makes me in any respect to differ from a brute. This lesson, if not constantly inculcated, might perhaps be forgotten, or at least too slightly remembered.

W. C.

TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN. Olney, Feb. 24, 1782. My dear Friend,-If I should receive a letter from you to-morrow, you must still remember, that I am not in your debt, having paid you by anticipation. Knowing that you take an interest in my publication, and that you have waited for it with some impatience, I write to inform you, that, if it is possible for a printer to be punctual, I shall come forth on the first of March. I have ordered two copies to Stock; one for Mr. John Unwin. It is possible, after all, that my book may come forth without a preface. Mr. Newton has written (he could indeed write no other) a very sensible, as well as a very friendly one: and it is printed. But the bookseller, who knows him well, and esteems him highly, is anxious to have it cancelled, and, with my consent first obtained, has offered to negotiate that matter with the author. He judges, that, though it would serve to recommend the volume to the religious, it would disgust the profane, and that there is in reality no need of a preface at all. I have found Johnson a very judi cious man on other occasions, and am therefore willing that he should determine for me upon this.

There are but few persons to whom I present my book. The Lord Chancellor is one. I enclose in a packet I send by this post to Johnson a letter to his lordship, which will accompany the volume; and to you I enclose a copy of it, because I know you will have a friendly curiosity to see it. An au thor is an important character. Whatever his merits may be, the mere circumstance of authorship warrants his approach to persons whom otherwise perhaps he could hardly address without being deemed impertinent. He can do me no good. If I should happen to do him a little, I shall be a greater man than

LIFE OF COWPER.

he. I have ordered a copy likewise to Mr. written on a small slip of paper now lost, I Smith.

Yours,

W. C.

should be obliged to him if he would state
his difficulties to you; adding, I need not
inform him, who is so well acquainted with
you, that he would find you easy to be per-
suaded to sacrifice, if necessary, what you
had written, to the interests of the book. I
find he has had an interview with you upon
the occasion, and your behavior in it has
verified my prediction. What course he de-
termines upon, I do not know, nor am I at
all anxious about it. It is impossible for
me, however, to be so insensible of your
kindness in writing the Preface, as not to be
desirous of defying all contingencies, rather
than entertain a wish to suppress it. It will
do me honor in the eyes of those whose good
me in the estimation of others, I cannot help
opinion is indeed an honor; and if it hurts
it; the fault is neither yours, nor mine, but
character than a poet's, and I think nobody
theirs. If a minister's is a more splendid
that understands their value can hesitate in
deciding that question, then undoubtedly the
same volume is all on my side.
advantage of having our names united in the

no

We thank you for the Fast-sermon. I had man has read Expostulation. But though not read two pages before I exclaimed-the there is a strong resemblance between the two pieces, in point of matter, and sometimes the very same expressions are to be such a theme, a striking coincidence of both met with, yet I soon recollected that, on might happen without a wonder. I doubt man, it carries with it an air of sincerity and not that it is the production of an honest zeal that is not easily counterfeited. But, reason why kings though I can see should not hear sometimes of their faults as well as other men, I think I see many so publicly. It can hardly be done with that good ones why they should not be reproved respect which is due to their office, on the part of the author, or without encouraging a spirit of unmannerly censure in his readers. His majesty too, perhaps, might answer-my own personal feelings, and offences, I am ready to confess, but were I to follow your advice, and cashier the profligate from my Business service, where must I seek men of faith and true Christian piety, qualified by nature and by education to succeed them? must be done, men of business alone can do When Nathan reproved David, it, and good men are rarely found, under that description. he did not employ a herald, or accompany his charge with the sound of the trumpet; nor can I think the writer of this sermon quite justifiable in exposing the king's faults in the sight of the people.

TO LORD THURLOW.

(ENCLOSED TO MR. UNWIN.)
Olney, Bucks, Feb. 25, 1782.

My Lord, I make no apology for what I account a duty. I should offend against the cordiality of our former friendship should I send a volume into the world, and forget how much I am bound to pay my particular respects to your lordship upon that occasion. When we parted, you little thought of hearing from me again; and I as little that I should live to write to you, still less that I should wait on you in the capacity of an

author.

Among the pieces I have the honor to send there is one for which I must entreat your your pardon; I mean that of which The best excuse I lordship is the subject. can make is, that it flowed almost spontane ously from the affectionate remembrance of a connexion that did me so much honor.

As to the rest, their merits, if they have any, and their defects, which are probably more than I am aware of, will neither of But where there them escape your notice. sinuch discernment, there is generally much candor; and I commit myself into your lordship's hands with the less anxiety, being well acquainted with yours.

If my first visit, after so long an interval, should prove neither a troublesome nor a dull one, but especially, if not altogether an unprofitable one, omne tulit punctum.

I have the honor to be, though with very different impressions of some subjects, yet with the same sentiments of affection and esteem as ever, your lordship's faithful and most obedient, humble servant,

W. C.

TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. Olney, Feb., 1782. My dear Friend,-I enclose Johnson's letter upon the subject of the Preface, and would send you my reply to it, if I had kept a copy. This however was the purport of it. That Mr., whom I described as you described him to me, had made a similar objection, but that, being willing to hope that two or three pages of sensible matter, well expressed, might possibly go down, though of a religious cast, I was resolved to believe him mistaken, and to pay no regard to it. That his judgment, however, who by his occupation is bound to understand what will promote the sale of a book, and what will hinder it, seemed to deserve more attention. That therefore, according to his own offer,

Your answer respecting Etna is quite satisfactory, and gives me much pleasure. I hate altering, though I never refuse the task

when propriety seems to enjoin it; and an alteration in this instance, if I am not mistaken, would have been singularly difficult. Indeed, when a piece has been finished two or three years, and an author finds occasion to amend or make an addition to it, it is not easy to fall upon the very vein from which he drew his ideas in the first instance, but either a different turn of thought or expression will betray the patch, and convince a reader of discerniment that it has been cobbled and varnished.

Our love to you both, and to the young Euphrosyne; the old lady of that name being long since dead, if she pleases, she shall fill her vacant office, and be my muse hereafter.

Yours, my dear Sir, W. C.

TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
Olney, March 6, 1782.

Is peace the nearer because our patriots have resolved that it is desirable? Will the victory they have gained in the House of Commons be attended with any other? Do they expect the same success on other occasions, and, having once gained a majority, are they to be the majority forever? These are the questions we agitate by the fire-side in an evening, without being able to come to any certain conclusion, partly, I suppose, because the subject is in itself uncertain, and partly, because we are not furnished with the means of understanding it. I find the politics of times past more intelligible than those of the present. Time has thrown light upon what was obscure, and decided what was ambiguous. The characters of great men, which are always mysterious while they live, are ascertained by the faithful historian, and sooner or later receive the wages of fame or infamy, according to their true deserts. How have I seen sensible and learned men burn incense to the memory of Oliver Cromwell, ascribing to him, as the greatest hero in the world, the dignity of the British empire, during the interregnum. A century passed before that idol, which seemed to be of gold, was proved to be a wooden one. The fallacy, however, was at length detected, and the honor of that detection has fallen to the share of a woman. do not know whether you have read Mrs. Macaulay's history of that period. She has handled him more roughly that the Scots did at the battle of Dunbar. He would have thought it little worth his while to have broken through all obligations divine and

I

* The nation was growing weary of the American war, especially since the surrender of Lord Cornwallis's army at York Town, and the previous capture of General Burgoyne's at Saratoga. The ministry at this time were frequently outvoted, and Lord North's administration was ultimately dissolved.

human, to have wept crocodile's tears, and wrapped himself up in the obscurity of speeches that nobody could understand, could he have foreseen that, in the ensuing century, a lady's scissors would clip his laurels close, and expose his naked villainy to the scorn of all posterity. This however has been accomplished, and so effectually, that I suppose it is not in the power of the most artificial management to make them grow again. Even the sagacious of mankind are blind, when Providence leaves them to be deluded; so blind, that a tyrant shall be mistaken for a true patriot: true patriots (such were the long Parliament) shall be abhorred as tyrants, and almost a whole nation shall dream that they have the full enjoy. ment of liberty, for years after such a complete knave as Oliver shall have stolen it completely from them. I am indebted for all this show of historical knowledge to Mr. Bull, who has lent me five volumes of the

work I mention. I was willing to display it while I have it; in a twelvemonth's time, I shall remember almost nothing of the matter.

W. C.

It has been the lot of Cromwell to be praised too little or too much. Of his political delinquencies, and gross hypocrisy, there can be only one opinion. But those who are conversant with that period well know how the genius of Mazarine, the minister of Louis XIII., was awed by the decision and boldness of Cromwell's character; that Spain and Holland experienced a signal humiliation, and that the victories of Admiral Blake at that crisis are among the most brilliant records of our naval fame. It was in allusion to these triumphs that Waller remarks, in his celebrated panegyric on the Lord Protector,,

"The seas our own, and now all nations greet, With bending sails, each vessel of our fleet. Your power extends as far as winds can blow, Or swelling sails upon the globe may go."*

We add the following anecdote recorded of Waller, though it is probably familiar to many of our readers. On Charles's restoration the poet presented that prince with a congratulatory copy of verses, when the king shortly afterwards observed, "You wrote better verses on Cromwell;" to which Waller replied, "Please your majesty, we poets always succeed better in fiction than in truth."

TO THE REV. WM. UNWIN.
Olney, March 7, 1782.

My dear Friend,-We have great pleasure in the contemplation of your northern journey, as it promises us a sight of you and

* Waller's Panegyric to my Lord Protector, 1654.

yours by the way, and are only sorry Miss Shuttleworth cannot be of the party. A line to ascertain the hour when we may expect you, by the next preceding post, will be welcome. It is not much for my advantage that the printer delays so long to gratify your expectation. It is a state of mind that is apt to tire and disconcert us; and there are but few pleasures that make us amends for the pain of repeated disappointment. I take it for granted you have not received the volume, not having received it myself, nor indeed heard from Johnson, since he fixed the first of the month for its publication.

What a medley are our public prints! Half the page filled with the ruin of the country, and the other half filled with the vices and pleasures of it-here is an island taken, and there a new comedy-here an empire lost, and there an Italian opera, or a lord's rout on a Sunday!

May it please your lordship! I am an Englishman, and must stand or fall with the nation. Religion, its true palladium, has been stolen away; and it is crumbling into dast. Sin ruins us, the sins of the great especially, and of their sins especially the violation of the sabbath, because it is naturally productive of all the rest. If you wish well to our arms, and would be glad to see the kingdom emerging from her ruins, pay more respect to an ordinance that deserves the deepest! I do not say, pardon this short remonstrance! The concern I feel for my country, and the interest I have in its prosperity, give me a right to make it. I am, &e."

Thus one might write to his lordship, and (I suppose) might be as profitably employed in whistling the tune of an old ballad.

Yours, my dear friend,

I have no copy of the Preface, nor do I know at present how Johnson and Mr. Newton have settled it. In the matter of it there was nothing offensively peculiar. But it was thought too pious. W. C. It is impossible to read this passage without very painful emotions. How low must have been the state of religion at that period, when the introduction of a Preface to the Poems of Cowper, by the Rev. John Newton, was sufficient to endanger their popularity. We are at the same time expressly assured, that there was nothing in the Prefare offensively peculiar; and that the only charge alleged against it was that of its being too pious." What a melancholy picture does this single fact present of the state of religion in those days; and with what sentiments of gratitude ought we to hail the great moral revolution that has since occurred! Witness the assemblage of so many Christian charities, our Bible, Missionary, Jewish, and Tract Societies, which, to use

66

the emphatic language of Burke, "like so many non-conductors, avert the impending wrath of heaven!" Witness the increasing instances of rank ennobled by piety, and consecrated to its advancement! Witness too the entrance of religion into our seats of learning, and into some of our public schools, thus presenting the delightful spectacle of classic taste and knowledge in alliance with heavenly wisdom. To these causes of pious gratitude we may add the revival of religion among our clergy, and generally among the ministers of the sanctuary, till we are constrained to exclaim, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!"* We trust that we are indulging in no vain expectation, when we express our firm persuasion, that the dawn of a brighter day is arrived; and though we see, both at home and on the continent of Europe, much over which piety may weep and tremble, while idolatry and superstition spread their thick veil of darkness over the largest portion of the globe, still, notwithstanding all these impediments and discouragements, we believe that the materials for the moral amelioration of mankind are all prepared; and that nothing but the fire of the Eternal Spirit is wanting, to kindle them into flame and splendor.

TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
Olney, March 14, 1782.

My dear Friend,-I can only repeat what I said some time since, that the world is grown more foolish and careless than it was when I had the honor of knowing it. Though your Preface was of a serious cast, it was yet free from everything that might with propriety expose it to the charge of Methodism, being guilty of no offensive peculiarities, nor containing any of those obnoxious doctrines at which the world is apt to be angry, and which we must give her leave to be angry at, because we know she cannot help it. It asserted nothing more than every rational creature must admit to be true-" that divine and earthly things can no longer stand in competition with each other, in the judgment of any man, than while he continues ignorant of their respective value; and that the moment the eyes are opened, the latter are always cheerfully relinquished for the sake of the former." Now I do most certainly remember the time when such a proposition as this would have been at least supportable, and when it would not have spoiled the market of any volume to which it had been prefixed; ergo-the times are altered for the worse. I have reason to be very much satisfied with my publisher-he marked such lines as

* Isaiah lii. 7.

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