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know little about them. But the very little that I
do know has not taught me to admire them. Life
is too short to afford time even for serious trijies.
Pursue what you knoiv to be attainable, make truth
your object, and your studies will make you a tvise
man ! Let your divinity, if L may advise, be the
divinity of the glorious Reformation : I mean in
contradiction to Arminianism, and all the isms that
were ever broached in this world of error and igno-
rance.

the stimulants to exertion would be multiplied, and the end
of education apparently more fully attained.

When we reflect on the singular character of the present
times, the instability of governments, and the disorganized
state of society, arising from conflicting principles and opinions,
the question of education assumes a momentous interest. We
are firmly persuaded that, unless the minds of youth be en-
larged by useful knowledge, and fortified by right principles
of religion, they will not be fitted to sustain the duties and
responsibilities that must soon devolve upon them ; nor will
they be qualified to meet the storms that now threaten the
political and moral horizon of Europe.



186 LIFE OF COWPER.

TJie divinity of the Reformation is called Calvin-
ism, but injuriously. It has been that of the church%
of Christ in all ages. It is the divinity of St. Paul,
and of St. Paul's master, who met him in his way to
Damascus.

I have written in great haste, that I might finish,
if possible, before breakfast. Adieu ! Let us see
you soon ; the sooner the better. Give my love to
the silent lady, the Rose, and all my friends around
you! W. C.

There is an impressive grandeur and sublimity in
the concluding part of the above letter, which en-
titles it to be written in characters of gold. May
it be engraven on the heart of every minister ! The
divinity of the glorious Reformation, as illustrated
in the works of Cranmer, Jewel, Latimer, and
Ridley, are in fact the essential doctrines of the
gospel, as distinguished from a mere system of
moral ethics. It is in proportion only as these great
and fundamental truths are clearly understood, and
fully, freely, and faithfully declared, that religion
can acquire its holy ascendancy over the heart and
practice. Moral preaching may produce an external
reformation, but it is the gospel alone that can
change the heart. The corruption and lost state of
man, the mercy of God in Christ, the necessity of a
living faith in the Saviour, the office of the Holy
Spirit, in his enlightening, converting, and sanctify-
ing influences ; — these are the grand themes of the
Christian ministry. Whenever they are urged with
the prominence that their incalculable importance



LIFE OF COVVPER. 187

demands, and accompanied by a divine influence,
signal effects will never fail to follovp. The careless
will be roused, the lover of pleasure become the
lover of God, and the oppressed heart find pardon
and peace.



TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ.

The Lodge, June, 8, 1790.
My dear Friend — Among the many who love
and esteem you, there is none who rejoices more in
your felicity than myself. Far from blaming, I
commend you much for connecting yourself, young
as you are, with a well chosen companion for life.
Entering on the state with uncontaminated morals,
you have the best possible prospect of happiness,
and will be secure against a thousand and ten thou-
sand temptations to which, at an early period of
life, in such a Babylon as you must necessarily in-
habit, you would otherwise have been exposed. I
see it too in the light you do, as likely to be advan-
tageous to you in your profession. Men of busi-
ness have a better opinion of a candidate for em-
ployment, who is married, because he has given
bond to the world, as you observe, and to himself,
for diligence, industry, and attention. It is alto-
gether therefore a subject of much congratulation ;
and mine, to which I add Mrs. Unwin's, is very
sincere. Samson, at his marriage, proposed a rid-
dle to the Philistines. 1 am no Samson, neither



188 LIFE OF COWPER.

are you a Philistine. Yet expound to me the fol-
lowing if you can !

What are they, which stand at a distance from
each other, and meet without ever moving ! f

Should you be so fortunate as to guess it, you
may propose it to the company, when you cele-
brate your nuptials ; and, if you can win thirty
changes of raiment by it, as Samson did by his, let
me tell you, they will be no contemptible acqui-
sition to a young beginner.

You will not, I hope, forget your way to Weston,
in consequence of your marriage, where you and
yours will always be welcome.

W. C.



TO MRS. KING.*



The Lodge, June 14, 1790.
My dear Madam — I have hardly a scrap of paper
belonging to me that is not scribbled over with
blank verse ; and, taking out your letter from a bun-
dle of others, this moment, I find it thus inscribed
on the seal side :

meantime his steeds

Snorted, by Myrmidons detain'd, and loosed
From their own master's chariot, foam'd to fly.

You will easily guess to what they belong; and I

t This enigma is explained in a subsequent letter.
* Private Correspondence.



LIFE OF COWPER. 189

mention the circumstance merely in proof of my
perpetual engagement to Homer whether at home
or abroad ; for, when I committed these lines to the
back of your letter, I was rambling at a consider-
able distance from home. I set one foot on a mole-
hill, placed my hat with the crown upward on my
knee, laid your letter upon it, and with a pencil
wrote the fragment that I have sent you. In the
same posture I have written many and many a pas-
sage of a work which I hope soon to have done
with. But all this is foreign to what I intended
when I first took pen in hand. My purpose then
was, to excuse my long silence as well as I could,
by telling you that I am at present not only a
labourer in verse, but in prose also, having been
requested by a friend, to whom I could not refuse
it, to translate for him a series of Latin letters
received from a Dutch minister of the gospel at the
Cape of Good Hope.* With this additional occu-
pation you will be sensible that my hands are full ;
and it is a truth that, except to yourself, I would,
just at this time, have written to nobody.

I felt a true concern for what you told me in
your last respecting the ill state of health of your
much-valued friend, Mr. Martyn. You say, if I
knew half his worth, I should, with you, wish his
longer continuance below. Now you must under-

* The Dutch minister here mentioned, was Mr. Van Lier,
who recorded the remarkable account of the great spiritual
change produced in his mind, by reading the works of Mr.
Newton. 'J he letters were written in Latin, and translated
by Cowper, at the request of his clerical friend.



190 LIFE OF COWPER.

Stand that, ignorant as I am of Mr. Martyn, except
by your report of him, I do nevertheless sincerely
wish it — and that, both for your sake and my own ;
nor less for the sake of the public* For your sake,
because you love and esteem him highly; for the
sake of the public, because, should it please God to
take him before he has completed his great botani-
cal work, I suppose no other person will be able to
finish it so well ; and for my own sake, because I
know he has a kind and favourable opinion before-
hand of my translation, and consequently, should it
justify his prejudice when it appears, he will stand
my friend against an army of Cambridge critics. —
It would have been strange indeed if self had not
peeped out on this subject. — I beg you will present
my best respects to him, and assure him that, were
it possible he could visit Weston, I should be most
happy to receive him.

Mrs. Unwin would have been employed in tran-
scribing my rhymes for you, would her health have
permitted ; but it is very seldom that she can write
without being much a sufferer by it. She has
almost a constant pain in her side, which forbids it.
As soon SA it leaves her, or much> abates, she will
be glad to work for you.

I am, like you and Mr. King, an admirer of
clouds, but only when there are blue intervals, and
pretty wide ones too, betvveen them. One cloud is

* Professor INIartyn lived to an advanced old age, endeared
to his family, respected and esteemed by the public, and sup-
ported in his last moments by the consolations and hopes of
the gospel.



LIFE OF COWPER. 191

too much for me, but a hundred are not too many.
So, with this riddle and with my best respects to
Mr. King, to which I add Mrs. Unwin's to you
both, — I remain, my dear madam,

Truly yours,

W. C.



TO LADY HESKETH.

The Lodge, June 17, 1790.

My dear Coz Here am I, at eight in the morn-
ing, in full dress, going a-visiting to Chicheley. We
are a strong party, and fill two chaises ; Mrs. F.
the elder, and Mrs. G. in one ; Mrs. F. the younger,
and myself in another. Were it not that I shall
find Chesters at the end of my journey, I should be
inconsolable. That expectation alone supports my
spirits; and, even with this prospect before me,
when I saw this moment a poor old woman coming
up the lane, opposite my window, I could not help
sighing, and saying to myself—" Poor, but happy
old woman ! Thou art exempted by thy situation
in life from riding in chaises, and making thyself
fine in a morning, happier therefore in my account
than I, who am under the cruel necessity of doing
both. Neither dost thou write verses, neither hast
thou ever heard of the name of Homer, whom I am
miserable to abandon for a whole morning ! " This,
and more of the same sort passed in my mind on
seeing the old woman abovesaid.

The troublesome business with which I filled my



192 LIFE OF COWPER.

last letter is, I hope, by this time concluded, and
Mr. Archdeacon satisfied. I can, to- be sure, but
ill afford to pay fifty pounds for another man's neg-
ligence, but would be happy to pay a hundred
rather than be treated as if 1 were insolvent;
threatened with attorneys and bums. One would
think that, living where I live, I might be exempted
from trouble. But alas ! as the philosophers often
affirm, there is no nook under heaven in which
trouble cannot enter ; and perhaps, had there never
been one philosopher in the world, this is a truth
that would not have been always altogether a
secret.

I have made two inscriptions lately at the re-
quest of Thomas Gilford, Esq. who is sowing twenty
acres with acorns on one side of his house, and twenty
acres with ditto on the other.* He erects two me-
morials of stone on the occasion, that, when poste-
rity shall be curious to know the age of the oaks,
their curiosity may be gratified.



TNSCHIPTION.

Other stones the a>ra tell
When some feeble mortal fell.
I stand here to date the birth
Of these hardy sons of earth.

Anno 1790.



At Chillin^ton, Bucks.



LIFE OF COWPER. 193



2.

INSCRIPTION.

Reader ! Behold a monument

That asks no sigh or tear,
Though it perpetuate tlie event

Of a great burial here.

Anno 1791.

My works therefore will not all perish, or will
not all perish soon, for he has ordered his lapidary
to cut the characters very deep, and in stone ex-
tremely hard. It is not in vain, then, that I have
so long exercised the business of a poet. I shall at
last reap the reward of my labours, and be immor-
tal probably for many years.

Ever thine,

w. c.



TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT.

Weston, June 22, 1790.
My dear Friend — * ♦ *

*****

Villoison makes no mention of the serpent, whose
skin or bowels, or perhaps both, were honoured
with the Iliad and Odyssey inscribed upon them.
But I have conversed with a living eye-witness of
an African serpent long enough to have afforded
skin and guts for the purpose. In Africa there are
ants also which frequently destroy these monsters.
They are not much larger than ours, but they tra-
vel in a column of immense length, and eat through
every thing that opposes them. Their bite is like
a spark of fire. When these serpents have killed

VOL. IV. o



194 LIFE OF COWPER.

their prey, lion or tiger or any other large animal,
before they swallow him, they take a considerable
circuit round about the carcase, to see if the ants
are coming, because, when they have gorged their
prey, they are unable to escape them. They are
nevertheless sometimes surprised by them in their
unwieldy state, and the ants make a passage through
them. Now if you thought your own story of Ho-
mer, bound in snake-skin, worthy of three notes of
admiration, you cannot do less than add six to mine,
confessing at the same time, that, if I put you to
the expense of a letter, I do not make you pay
your money for nothing. But this account I had
fi'om a person of most unimpeached veracity.

I rejoice with you in the good Bishop's removal
to St. Asaph,* and especially because the Norfolk
parsons much more resemble the ants above-men-
tioned than he the serpent. He is neither of vast
size, nor unwieldy, nor voracious; neither, I dare
say, does he sleep after dinner, according to the
practice of the said serpent. But, harmless as he
is, I am mistaken if his mutinous clergy did not
sometimes disturb his rest, and if he did not find
their bite, though they could not actually eat
through him, in a degree resembling fire. Good
men like him, and peaceable, should have good and
peaceable folks to deal with; and I heartily wish
him such in his new diocese. But if he will keep
the clergy to their business, he shall have trouble,
let him go where he may ; and this is boldly
spoken, considering that 1 speak it to one of thai
* Dr. Lewis Bagot, previously Bishop of Norwich,



LIFE OF COWPER. 195

reverend body. But ye are like Jeremiah's basket
of figs. Some of you could not be better, and some
of you are stark naught. Ask the Bishop himself
if this be not true!

W. C.



TO MRS. BODHAiM.

Weston, June 29, 1790
My dearest Cousin — It is true that I did sometimes
complain to Mrs. Unwin of your long silence. But
it is likewise true that I made many excuses for
you in my own mind, and did not feel myself at all
inclined to be angry, not even much to wonder.
There is an awkwardness and a difficulty in writing
to those whom distance and length of time have
made in a manner new to us, that naturally gives
us a check, when you would otherwise be glad to
address them. But a time, I hope, is near at hand,
when you and I shall be effectually delivered from
all such constraints, and correspond as fluently as if
our intercourse had suffered much less interruption.
You must not suppose, my dear, that though I
may be said to have lived many years with a pen in
my hand, I am myself altogether at my case on this
tremendous occasion. Imagine rather, and you will
come nearer to the truth, that when I placed this
sheet before me, I asked myself more than once
"how shall I fill it? One subject indeed presents
itself, the pleasant prospect that opens upon me of
our coming once more together, but, that once ex-
hausted, with what shall I proceed ?" Thus I



!96 LIFE OF COWPER.

questioned myself; but, finding neither end nor
profit of such questions, I bravely resolved to dis-
miss them all at once, and to engage in the great
enterprise of a letter to my quondam Rose at a
venture. There is great truth in a rant of Nat.
Lee's, or of Dryden's, 1 know not which, who
makes an enamoured youth say to his mistress,

And nonsense sball be eloquence in love.

For certain it is, that they who truly love one ano-
ther are not very nice examiners of each other's
style or matter ; if an epistle comes, it is always
welcome, though it be perhaps neither so wise, nor
so witty, as one might have wished to make it. And
now, my Cousin, let me tell thee how much I feel
myself obliged to Mr. Bodham for the readiness he
expresses to accept my invitation. Assure him
that, stranger as he is to me at present, and natural
as the dread of strangers has ever been to me, I
shall yet receive him with open arms, because he
is your husband, and loves you dearly. That con-
sideration alone will endear him to me, and I dare
say that I shall not find it his only recommendation
to my best affections. May the health of his rela-
tion (his mother I suppose) be soon restored, and long
continued, and may nothing melancholy, of what
kind soever, interfere to prevent our joyful meeting.
Between the present moment and September our
house is clear for your reception, and you have no-
thing to do but to give us a day or two's notice of
your coming. In September we expect Lady Hes-
keth, and I only regret that our house is not large



LIFE OF COWPEP.. 197

enough to hold all together, foi% were it possible that
you could meet, you would love each other.

Mrs. Unwin bids me offer you her best love.
She is never well, but always patient and always
cheerful, and feels beforehand that she shall be
loth to part with you.

My love to all the dear Donnes of every name !
— write soon, no matter about what.

W. C.



TO LADY HESKETH.

Weston, July 7, 1790.

Instead of beginning with the saffron-vested
morning, to which Homer invites me, on a morning
that has no saffron vest to boast, I shall begin with
you.

It is irksome to us both to wait so long as we
must for you, but we are willing to hope that by a
longer stay you will make us amends for all this
tedious procrastination.

Mrs. Unwin has made known her whole case to
Mr. Gregson, whose opinion of it has been very
consolatory to me. He says indeed it is a case
perfectly out of the reach of all physical aid, but at
the same time not at all dangerous. Constant pain
is a sad grievance, whatever part is affected, and
she is hardly ever free from an aching head, as well
as an uneasy side, but patience is an anodyne of
God's own preparation, and of that he gives her
largely.



198 LIFE OF COWPER.

The French, who like all lively folks are extreme
in every thing, are such in their zeal for freedom,
and if it were possible to make so noble a cause ri-
diculous, their manner of promoting it could not
fail to do so. Princes and peers reduced to plain
gentlemanship, and gentles reduced to a level with
their own lacqueys, are excesses of which they will
• repent hereafter.* Difference of rank and sub-
ordination are, I believe, of God's appointment, and
consequently essential to the well-being of society:
but what we mean by fanaticism in religion is
exactly that which animates their politics, and, un-
less time should sober them, they will, after all, be
an unhappy people. Perhaps it deserves not much
to be wondered at, that, at their first escape from
tyrannical shackles, they should act extravagantly,
and treat their kings as they have sometimes
treated their idols. To these however they are re-
conciled in due time again, but their respect for
monarchy is at an end. They want nothing now
but a little English sobriety, and that they want ex-
tremely. I heartily wish them some wit in their
anger, for it were great pity that so many millions
should be miserable for want of it.



TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ.

Weston, July 8, 1790.
My dear Johnny — You do well to perfect your-

* The distinctions of rank were abolished during the French
Revolution, and the title of citizen considered to he the only
legal and honourable appellation.



LIFE OF COWPER. ] 99

self on the violin. Only beware that an amusement
so very bewitching as music, especially when we
produce it ourselves, do not steal fi'om you all
those hours that should be given to study. I can
be well content that it should serve you as a refresh-
ment after severer exercises, but not that it should
engross you wholly. Your own good sense will most
probably dictate to you this precaution, and I might
have spared you the trouble of it, but I have a de-
gree of zeal for your proficiency in more important
pursuits, that would not suffer me to suppress it.

Having delivered my conscience by giving you
this sage admonition, I will convince you that I am
a censor not over and above severe, by acknowledg-
ing in the next place that I have known very good
performers on the violin, vei*y learned also ; and my
cousin. Dr. Spencer Madan, is an instance.

I am delighted that you have engaged your sister
to visit us ; for I say to myself, if John be amiable
what must Catherine be ? For we males, be we
angelic as we may, are always surpassed by the ladies.
But know this, that I shall not be in love with either
of you, if you stay with us only a few days, for you
talk of a week or so. Correct this erratum, I be-
seech you, and convince us, by a much longer con-
tinuance here, that it was one.

W. C.

Mrs. Unwin has never been well since you saw
her. You are not passionately fond of letter-writ-
ing, I perceive, who have dropped a lady ; but you
will be a loser by the bargain ; for one letter of liers,



2.')0 LIFE OF COWPER.

in point of real utility and sterling value, is worth
twenty of mine, and you will never have another
from her till you have earned it.



TO MRS. KING.*



The Lodge, July 16, 1790.

My dear Madam — Taking it for granted that this
will find you at Perten-hall, I follow you with an
early line and a hasty one, to tell you how much
we rejoice to have seen yourself and Mr. King ; and
how much regret you have left behind you. The
wish that we expressed when we were together,
Mrs. Unwin and I have more than once expressed
since your departure, and have always felt it — that
it had pleased Providence to appoint our habitations
nearer to each other. This is a life of wishes, and
they only are happy who have arrived where wishes
cannot enter. We shall live now in hope of a
second meeting and a longer interview ; which, if
it please God to continue to you and to Mr. King
your present measure of health, you will be able, I
trust, to contrive hereafter. You did not leave us
without encouragement to expect it ; and I know
that you do not raise expectations but with a sincere
design to fulfil them.

Nothing shall be wanting, on our part, to accom-
plish in due time a journey to Perten-hall. But I
am a strange creature, who am less able than any
* Private Correspondence.



LIFE OF COWPER. 201

man living to project any thing out of the common
course, with a reasonable prospect of performance.
I have singularities, of which, I believe, at present
you know nothing ; and which would fill you with
wonder, if you knew them. I will add, however,
in justice to myself, that they would not lower me
in your good .-opinion ; though, perhaps, they might
tempt you to question the soundness of my upper
story. Almost twenty years have I been thus un
happily circumstanced ; and the remedy is in the
hand of God only. That I make you this partial
communication on the subject, conscious, at the
same time, that you are well worthy to be entrusted
with the whole, is merely because the recital would
be too long for a letter, and painful both to me and
to you. But all this may vanish in a moment ; and,
if it please God, it shall. In the mean time, my
dear madam, remember me in your prayers, and
mention me at those times, as one whom it has
pleased God to afflict with singular visitations.

How 1 regret, for poor Mrs. Unwin's sake, your
distance ! She has no friend suitable as you to her
disposition and character, in all the neighbourhood.
Mr. King, too, is just the friend and companion
with whom I could be happy ; but such grow not
in this country. Pray tell him that I remember
him with much esteem and regard ; and, believe
me, my dear madam, with the slncerest affection.

Yours entirely,

W.C.



202 LIFE OF COWPER.



TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ.

Weston, July 31, 1790,

You have by this time, I presume, answered Lady
Hesketh's letter ? if not, answer it ithout delay,
and this injunction I give you, judging that it may
not be entirely unnecessary, for, though I have seen
you but once, and only for two or three days, I
have found out that you are a scatter-brain.* I
made the discovery perhaps the sooner, because in
tliis you very much resemble myself, who, in the
course of my life, through mere carelessness and
inattention, lost many advantages ; an insuper-
able shyness has also deprived me of many. And
here again there is a resemblance between us.
You will do well to guard against both, for of both,
I believe, you have a considerable share as well as
myself.

We long to see you again, and are only con-
cerned at the short stay you propose to make with
us. If time should seem to you as short at Weston,
as it seems to us, your visit here will be gone " as
a dream when one awaketh, or as a watch in the


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