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night."

It is a life of dreams, but the pleasantest one na-
turally wishes longest.

I shall find employment for you, having made
already some part of the fair copy of the Odyssey
a foul one. I am revising it for the last time,
* This title was not long; merited.



LIFE OF COWPER. 203

and spare nothing that I can mend. The Iliad is
finished.

If you have Donne's poems, bring them with you,
for I have not seen them many years, and should
like to look them over.f

You may treat us too, if you please, with a little
of your music, for I seldom hear any, and delight
much in it. You need not fear a rival, for we have
but two fiddles in the neighbourhood — one a gar-
dener's, the other a tailor's : terrible performers
both!

W. C.



Mrs. Newton was at this time in very declining
health. It is to this subject that Cowper alludes ui
the following letter.

TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.*

The Lodge, Aug. 11, 1790.
My dear friend — That I may not seem unrea-
sonably tardy in answering your last kind letter, I
steal a few minutes from my customary morning
business, (at present the translation of Mr. Van
Lier's Narrative,) to inform you that I received it
safe from the hands of Judith Hughes, whom we
met in the middle of Hill-field. Desirous of gain-
ing the earliest intelligence possible concerning
Mrs. Newton, we were going to call on her, and

t See Notes. * i'rivate Correspomleiice.



204 LIFE OF COWPER.

she was on her way to us. It grieved us much that
her news on that subject corresponded so little with
our earnest wishes of Mrs. Newton's amendment.
But if Dr. Benamer* still gives hope of her reco-
very, it is not, I trust, without substantial reason for
doing so ; much less can I suppose that he would
do it contrary to his own persuasions, because a
thousand reasons, that must influence, in such a case,
the conduct of a humane and sensible physician,
concur to forbid it. If it shall please God to restore
her, no tidings will give greater joy to us. In the
mean time, it is our comfort to know, that in any
event you will be sure of supports invaluable, and
that cannot fail you ; though, at the same time, I know
well that, with your feelings, and especially on so
affecting a subject, you will have need of the full
exercise of all your faith and resignation. To a
greater trial no man can be called, than that of
being a helpless eye-witness of the sufferings of one
he loves and loves tenderly. This I know by ex-
perience ; but it is long since I had any experience
of those communications from above, which alone
can enable us to acquit ourselves, on such an occa-
sion, as we ought. But it is otherwise with you,
and I rejoice that it is so.

With respect to my own initiation into the secret
of animal magnetism, I have a thousand doubts.
Twice, as you know, I have been overwhelmed with

* Dr. Benamer was a pious and excellent man, whose house
was the resort of religious persons at that time, who went
there for the purpose of edification. Mr. Newton was a le-
gular attendant on these occasions.



LIFE OF COWPER. '205

the blackest despair ; and at those times every thing
in which I have been at any period of my life con-
cerned has afforded to the enemy a handle against
me. I tremble, therefore, almost at every step I
take, lest on some future similar occasion it should
yield him opportunity, and furnish him with means
to torment me. Decide for me, if you can ; and
in the mean time, present, if you please, my re-
spectful compliments and very best thanks to Mr.
Holloway, for his most obliging offer.* I am,
perhaps, the only man living who would hesitate a
moment, whether, on such easy terms, he should
or should not accept it. But if he finds another
like me, he will make a greater discovery than even
tliat which he has already made of the principles of
this wonderful art. For I take it for granted, that
he is the gentleman whom you once mentioned to
me as indebted only to his own penetration for the
knowledge of it.

I shall proceed, you may depend on it, with all
possible dispatch in your business. Had it fallen
into my hands a few months later, I should have made
a quicker riddance ; for, before the autumn shall be
ended, I hope to have done with Homer. But my
first morning hour or two (now and then a letter
which must be written excepted) shall always be at
your service till the whole is finished.

Commending you and Mrs. Newton, with all the
little power I have of that sort, to His fatherly and

* Newton had suggested the propriety of Cowper trying
tlie effect of animal magnetism, in the hopes of mitigating his
disorder, but he declined the offer.



206 LIFE OF COWPER.

tender care in whom you have both believed, in
which friendly office I am fervently joined by Mrs.
Unwin, I remain, with our sincere love to you both
and to Miss Catlett, my dear friend, most affec-
tionately yours,

W. C.



The termination of a laborious literary under-
taking is an eventful period in an author's life. The
following letter announces the termination of Cow-
per's Homeric version, and its conveyance to the
press.

TO MRS. BODHAM.

Weston, Sept. 9, 1790.
My dearest Cousin — I am truly sorry to be forced
after all to resign the hope of seeing you and Mr.
Bodham at Weston this year ; the next may pos-
sibly be more propitious, and I heartily wish it may.
Poor Catherine's* unseasonable indisposition has also
cost us a disappointment which we much regret,
and, were it not that Johnny has made shift to reach
us, we should think ourselves completely unfor-
tunate. But him we have, and him we will hold as
long as we can, so expect not very soon to see him
in Norfolk. He is so harmless, cheerful, gentle, and
good-tempered, and I am so entirely at my ease
with him, that I cannot surrender him without a
needs must, even to those who have a superior claim

* The Rev. J. Johnson's sister.



LIFE OF COWPER. 207

upon him. He left us yesterday morning, and whi-
ther do you think he is gone, and on what errand ?
Gone, as sure as you are alive, to London, and to
convey my Homer to the bookseller's. But he will
return the day after to-morrow, and I mean to part
with him no more till necessity shall force us asun-
der. Suspect me not, my Cousin, of being such a
monster as to have imposed this task myself on your
kind nephew, or even to have thought of doing it.
It happened that one day, as we chatted by the fire-
side, I expressed a wish that I could hear of some
trusty body going to London, to whose care I might
consign my voluminous labours, the work of five
years. For I purpose never to visit that city again
myself, and should have been uneasy to have left a
charge, of so much importance to me, altogether to
the care of a stage-coachman. Johnny had no
sooner heard my wish than, offering himself to the
service, he fulfilled it ; and his offer was made in
such terms, and accompanied with a countenance
and manner expressive of so much alacrity, that,
unreasonable as I thought it at first to give him so
much trouble, I soon found that I should mortify
him by a refusal. He is gone therefore with a box
full of poetry, of which I think nobody will plunder
him. He has only to say what it is, and there is no
commodity I think a freebooter would covet less.

W. C.



The marriage of his friend, Mr. Rose, was too



208 LIFE OF COVVPER.

interesting an event not to claim Cowper's warm
congratulations.

TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ.

The Lodge, Sept.] 3, 1790.

My dear Friend — Your letter was particularly
welcome to me, not only because it came after a
long silence, but because it brought me good news
— news of your marriage, and consequently, I trust,
of your happiness. May that happiness be durable
as your lives, and may you be the Felices ter et am-
plius of whom Horace sings so sweetly ! This is
my sincere wish, and, though expressed in prose,
shall serve as your epithalamium. You comfort me
when you say that your marriage will not deprive
us of the sight of you hereafter. If you do not
wish that I should regret your union, you must make
tliat assurance good as often as you have oppor-
tunity.

After perpetual versification during five years, I
find myself at last a vacant man, and reduced to
read for my amusement. My Homer is gone to the
press, and you will imagine that I feel a void in
consequence. The proofs however will be coming
soon, and I shall avail myself, with all my force, of
this last opportunity to make my work as perfect as
I wish it. I shall not therefore be long time desti-
tute of employment, but shall have sufficient to
keep me occupied all the winter and part of the en-
suing spring, for Johnson purposes to publish either
in March, April, or May — my very preface is finish*'



LIFE OF COWPER. 209

ed. It did not cost me much trouble, being neither
long nor learned. I have spoken my mind as freely
as decency would permit on the subject of Pope's
version, allowing him at the same time all the
merit to which I think him entitled. I have given
my reasons for translating in blank verse, and hold
some discourse on the mechanism of it, chiefly with
a view to obviate the prejudices of some people
against it. I expatiate a little on the manner in which
I think Homer ought to be rendered, and in which
I have endeavoured to render him myself, and anti-
cipated two or three cavils to which I foresee that I
shall be liable from the ignorant or uncandid, in
order, if possible, to prevent them. These are the
chief heads of my preface, and the whole consists
of about twelve pages.

It is possible, when I come to treat with Johnson
about the copy, I may want some person to nego-
ciate for me, and, knowing no one so intelligent as
yourself in books, or so well qualified to estimate
their just value, I shall beg leave to resort to and
rely on ^ou as my negociator. But I will not trou
ble you unless I should see occasion. My cousin
was the bearer of my MSS. to London. He went on
purpose, and return?;, to-morrow. Mrs. Unwin's affec-
tionate felicitations added to my own, conclude me,
Dear friend,

Sincerely yours,

W. C.

The trees of a colonnade will solve my riddle.*

* What are tliey, which stand at a distance from each other,
and meet without ever moving ?

VOL. IV. P



210 LIFE OF COVVPER.

TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.*

The Lodge, Sept. 17, 1790.

My dear Friend — I received last night a copy of
my subscribers' names from Johnson, in which I see
how much I have been indebted to yours and to
Mrs. Hill's solicitations. Accept my best thanks,
so justly due to you both. It is an illustrious ca-
talogue, in respect of rank and title, but methinks
I should have liked it as well had it been more
numerous. The sum subscribed, however, will
defray the expense of printing, which is as much
as, in these unsubscribing days, I had any reason
to promise myself. I devoutly second your droll
wish, that the booksellers may contend about me.
The more the better : seven times seven, if
they please ; and let them fight with the fury of
Achilles,

Till ev'ry rubric -post be crimson'd o'er
With blood of booksellers, in battle slain,
For me, and not a periwig untorn.



Most truly yours.



w. c.



TO MRS. KING.*

Weston, Oct. 5, 1790.
My dear Madam — I am truly concerned that you
have so good an excuse for your silence. Were it
* Private Correspondence.



LIFE OF COVVPER. 211

proposed to my choice, whether you should omit to
write through illness or indifference to me, 1 should
be selfish enough, perhaps, to find decision difficult
for a few moments ; but have such an opinion at
the same time of my affection for you, as to be ve-
rily persuaded that 1 should at last make a right
option, and wish you rather to forget me than to be
afflicted. But there is One wiser and more your
friend than I can possibly be, who appoints all your
sufferings, and who, by a power altogether his own,
is able to make them good for you,

I wish heartily that my verses had been more
worthy of the counterpane, their subject.* The gra-
titude I felt when you brought it and gave it to me
might have inspired better ; but a head full of Homer,
I find, by sad experience, is good for little else. Lady
Hesketh, who is here, has seen your gift, and pro-
nounced it the most beautiful and best executed of
the kind she ever saw.

I have lately received from my bookseller a copy
of my subscribers' names, and do not find among
them the name of Mr. Professor Martyn. I men-
tion it because you informed me, some time smce, of
his kind intention to number himself among my en-
couragers on this occasion, and because I am un-
willing to lose, for want of speaking in time, the
honour that his name will do me. It is possible,

* Mrs. King presented the poet with a counterpane, iu
patch-work, of her own making. In acknowledgment, he ad-
dressed to her the verses beginning,

" The bard, if e'er he feel at all.
Must sure be quicken'd by a call," &c. &c.

p2



212 LIFE OF COWPER.

too, that he may have subscribed, and that his non-
appearance maybe owing merely to Johnson's having
forgot to enter his name. Perhaps you will have
an opportunity to ascertain the matter. The cata-
logue will be printed soon, and published in the
" Analytical Review," as the last and most effectual
way of advertising my translation, and the name of
the gentleman in question will be particularly ser-
viceable to me in this first edition of it.

My whole work is in the bookseller's hands, and
ought by this time to be in the press. The next
spring is the time appointed for the publication. It
is a genial season, when people who are ever good-
tempered at all are sure to be so ; a circumstance
well worthy of an author's attention, especially of
mine, who am just going to give a thump on the out-
side of the critics' hive, that will probably alarm
them all.

Mrs. Unwin, I think, is on the whole rather im-
proved in her health since we had the pleasure of
your short visit; I should say, the pleasure of your
visit, and the pain of its shortness.
I am, my dearest Madam,

Most truly yours,

w. c.



TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.

The Lodge, Oct. 15, 1790.
My dear Friend —We were surprised and grieved
* Private Correspondence.



LIFE OF COWPER. 213

at Mrs. Scott's * sudden departure ; grieved, you
may suppose, not for her, but for him, whose loss,
except that in God he has an all-sufficient good, is
irreparable. The day of separation between those
who have loved long and well is an awful day, inas-
much as it calls the Christian's faith and submission
to the severest trial. Yet I account those happy,
who, if they are severely tried, shall yet be sup-
ported, and be carried safely through. What would
become of me on a similar occasion ! I have one
comfort, and only one : bereft of that, I should have
nothing left to lean on ; for my spiritual props have
long since been struck from under me.

I have no objection at all to being known as the
translator of Van Lier's Letters, when they shall be
published. Rather, I am ambitious of it, as an
honour. It will serve to prove, that, if I have spent
much time to little purpose in the translation of
Homer, some small portion of my time has, how-
ever, been well disposed of.

The honour of your preface prefixed to my poems
will be on my side ; for surely, to be known as the
friend of a much-favoured minister of God's word is
a more illustrious distinction, in reality, than to have
the friendship of any poet in the world to boast of.

We sympathize truly with you under all your
tender concern for Mrs. Newton, and with her in
all her sufferings from such various and discordant
maladies. Alas ! what a difference have twenty-

* The wife of the Rev, Thomas Scott, the author of one of
the best Commentaries on the Bible ever published. — Mr.
Scott was preacher at the Lock Hospital at this time.



214 LIFE OF COWI^ER.

three years made in us and in our condition ! for
just so long it is since Mrs. Unwin and I came into
Buckinghamshire. Yesterday was the anniversary
of that memorable sera. Farewell.

w. c.



TO THE REV, JOHN NEWTON.*

The Lodge, Oct. 26, 1790.

My dear Friend — We should have been happy tu
have received from you a more favourable account
of Mrs. Newton's health. Yours is indeed a post of
observation, and of observation the most interesting.
It is well that you are enabled to bear the stress and
intenseness of it without prejudice to your own
health, or impediment to your ministry.

The last time I wrote to Johnson, I made known
to him your wishes to have your preface printed,
and affixed, as soon as an opportunity shall offer ;
expressing, at the same time, my own desires to
have it done.f Whether I shall have any answer
to my proposal is a matter of much uncertainty;

* Private Correspondence.

t We here subjoin the letter which Cowper addressed to
Johnson, the l»okseller, on this occasion.

Weston, Oct. 3, 1790.

Mr. Newton having again requested that the Preface which
he wrote for my first volume may be prefixed to it, I am de-
sirous to gratify him in a particular that so emphatically be-
speaks his friendship for me ; and, should my books see another
edition, shall be obliged to you if you will add it accordingly.

W. C.



LIFE OF COWPER. 215

for he is always either too idle or too busy, I know
not which, to write to me. Should you happen to
pass his way, perhaps it would not be amiss to speak
to him on the subject ; for it is easier to carry a
point by six words spoken than by writing as many
sheets about it. I have asked him hither, when my
cousin Johnson shall leave us, which will be in about
a fortnight ; and, should he come, will enforce the
measure myself.

A yellow shower of leaves is falling continually
from all the trees in the country. A few moments
only seem to have passed since they were buds ;
and in a few moments more they will have disap-
peared. It is one advantage of a rural situation,
that it affords many hints of the rapidity with which
life flies, that do not occur in towns and cities. It
is impossible for a man conversant with such scenes
as surround me not to advert daily to the shortness
of his existence here, admonished of it, as he must
be, by ten thousand objects. There was a time
when I could contemplate my present state, and
consider myself as a thing of a day with pleasure ;
when I numbered the seasons as they passed in
swift rotation, as a schoolboy numbers the days that
interpose between the next vacation, when he shall
see his parents, and enjoy his home again. But to
make so just an estimate of a life like this is no
longer in my power. The consideration of my short
continuance here, which was once grateful to me,
now fills me with regret. I would live and live
always, and am become such another wretch as
Maecenas was, who wished for long life, he cared



216 LIFE OF COWPER.

not at what expense of sufferings. The only con-
solation left me on this subject is, that the voice of
the Almighty can in one moment cure me of this
mental infirmity. That He can, I know by expe-
rience ; and there are reasons for which I ought to
believe that He will. But from hope to despair is
a transition that I have made so often, that I can
only consider the hope that may come, and that
sometimes I believe will, as a short prelude of joy
to a miserable conclusion of sorrow that shall never
end. Thus are my brightest prospects clouded,
and thus, to me, is hope itself become like a withered
flower, that has lost both its hue and its fragrance.

I ought not to have written in this dismal strain
to you, in your present trying situation, nor did I
intend it. You have more need to be cheered than
to be saddened ; but a dearth of other themes con-
strained me to choose myself for a subject, and of
myself I can write no otherwise.

Adieu, my dear friend. We are well ; and, not-
withstanding all that I have said, I am myself as
cheerful as usual. Lady Hesketh is here, and in
her company even I, except now and then for a
moment, forget my sorrows.

I remain sincerely yours,

w. c.

The purport of this letter is painful, but it is
explained by the peculiarity of Cowper's case. The
state of mind, which the Christian ought to realize,
should be a willingness to remain or to depart, as
may seem best to the supreme Disposer of events ;



LIFE OF COVVPER. 217

though the predominating feehng (where there is
an assured and lively hope) will be that of the
apostle, viz. that " to be with Christ is far better."
The question is, how is this lively hope and as-
surance to be obtained ? How is the sense of guilt,
and the fear of death and judgment, to be over-
come ? TJie gospel proclaims the appointed remedy.
" Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the
sins of the world." * " I, even I, am He, which
blotteth out all thy transgressions for mine own
sake, and will not remember thy sins." -f " If any
man sin, we have an advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propi-
tiation for our sins." t The cordial reception of
this great gospel truth into the heart, the humble
reliance upon God's pardoning mercy, through the
blood of the cross, will, by the grace of God, infal-
libly lead to inward joy and peace. " Therefore,
being justified by faith, we have peace with God,
through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we
have access by faith unto this grace wherein we
stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." §
The same divine grace that assures peace to the
conscience will also change and renew the heart,
and plant within it those holy principles and aifec-
tions that will lead to newness of life. The promise
of the Blood to pardon, and the Spirit to teach and
to sanctify, are the two great fundamental doctrines
of the gospel. ||

• Johni. 29. t Isaiah xliii. 25.

t 1 Jolin ii. 1, 2. § Rom. v. 1, 2.

II 1 Jolin i. 7. Isaiah Ixi. 1, 2, 3. Luke ii. 9—13. John
iiv. 16, 17.



218 LIFE OF COWPER.



TO MRS. BODHAM.

Weston, Nov, 21, 1790,

My dear Coz. — Our kindness to your nephew is
no more than he must entitle himself to wherever
he goes. His amiable disposition and manners will
never fail to secure him a warm place in the affec-
tion of all who know him. The advice I gave re-
specting his poem on Audley End was dictated by
my love of him, and a sincere desire of his success.
It is one thing to write what may please our friends,
who, because they are such, are apt to be a little
biassed in our favour ; and another to write what
may please every body ; because they who have no
connexion or even knowledge of the author will
be sure to find fault if they can. My advice, how-
ever, salutary and necessary as it seemed to me,
was such as I dare not have given to a poet of less
diffidence than he. Poets are to a proverb irritable,
and he is the only one I ever knew who seems to
have no spark of that fire about him. He has left
us about a fortnight, and sorry we were to lose
him ; but had he been my son he must have gone,
and I could not have regretted him more. If his
sister be still with you, present my love to her, and
tell her how much I wish to see them at Weston
together.

Mrs. Hewitt probably remembers more of my
childhood than I can recollect either of hers or my
own; but this I recollect, that the days of that



LIFE OF COWPER. '219

period were happy days compared with most I have
seen since. There are feM^ perhaps in the world
who have not cause to look back with regret on the
days of infancy ; yet, to say the truth, I suspect
some deception in this. For infancy itself has its
cares, and though we cannot now conceive how
trifles could affect us much, it is certain that they
did. Trifles they appear now, but such they were
not then.

w. c.



TO JOHN JOHNSON, ESQ.

(my birtii-day.)

Weston, Friday, Nov. 26, 1790.

My dearest Johnny — I am happy that you have
escaped from the claws of Euclid into the bosom of
Justinian. It is useful, I suppose, to every man to
be well grounded in the principles of jurisprudence,
and I take it to be a branch of science that bids
much fairer to enlarge the mind, and give an accu-
racy of reasoning, than all the mathematics in the
world. Mind your studies, and you will soon be
wiser than I can hope to be.

We had a visit on Monday from one of the first
women in the world ; in point of character, I mean,
and accomplishments, the dowager Lady Spencer ! *
I may receive, perhaps, some honours hereafter,

* The mother of the late Earl Spencpr, and of the Duchess
of Devonshire, and the person to whom he dedicated liis version


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