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his own state of health ; liis new engagement . . 308

To Joseph Hill, Esq., Nov. 14, 1791. On compound
epithets ; progress in his translation of Milton's Latin
poems ..... 309

To the Rev. John Newton, Nov, 16, 1791. Apology for
not sending a poem which Mr. N. had asked for; Mr.
N.'s visit to Mrs. Hannah More ; her sister's appli-
cation for Cowper's autograph ; Cowper regrets that he
had never seen a mountain ; his engagement on
Milton . . . . . .311

To the Rev. Walter Bagot, Dec. 5, 1791. Expectation
of a new edition of his Homer ; he defends a passage in
it 3 his engagement upon Rlilton . . . 3l3

To the Rev. Mr. Hurdis, Dec. 10, 1791. His en-
gagement upon ]\Iilton . . . 316

To Samuel Rose, Esq., Dec. 21. 1791. Sudden seizure
of Mrs. Unwin ..... 3l7

Cowper's affliction on occasion of Mrs. Unwin's attack . 318

To Mrs. King, Jan. 26, 1792. He describes the circum-
stances of Mrs. Unwin's alarming seizure ; he asserts
that women surpass men in true fortitude ; his engage-
ments ..... 319

To the Rev. Walter Bagot, Feb. 14, 1792. On the indis-
position of Mr. B. and his children ; he professes
his intention to avail himself of all remarks in a new
edition of his Homer ; course which he purposes to
pursue in regard to Milton ; his correspondence with
tne Chancellor ..... 321

To Thomas Park, Esq., Feb. 19, 1792. Acknowledg-
ment of the receipt of books sent by him ; he sig-
nifies his acceptance of the offer of notices relative to
Milton . . . . . 323

To the Rev. John Newton, Feb. 20, 1792. Lines written



CONTENTS. XIX

PACE

by bim for Mrs. Martha More's Collection of Auto-
graphs; his reply to the demand of more original com-
position ; remarks on the settlement at Botany Bay,
and African colonization . . . 325

To the Rev. Mr. Hurdis, Feb. 21, 1792. Reasons for
deferring the examination of Homer ; progress made in
Milton's poems .... 397

To the Rev. Mr. Hurdis, March 2, 1792. He expresses
his obligations for Mr. H.'s remarks on Homer; he
permits the tragedy of Sir Thomas More to be inscribed
to him ...... 329

To the Rev. John Newton, March 4, 1792. Departure
of the Throckmortons from Weston ; his dislike of
change ..... 330

To Mrs. King, March 8, 1792. On her late indisposition ;
testimonies concerning his Homer . . .331

To Thomas Park, Esq., March 10, 1792. On Mr. P.'s
professional pursuits ; he disclaims a place among the
literati ; and asks for a copy of Thomson's monu-
mental inscription .... 333

To John Johnson, Esq., March 11, 1792. He mentions
having heard a nightingale sing on new year's day ;
departure of Lady Hesketh ; expected visit of Mr. Rose S36

Verses addressed to " The Nightingale which the author
heard on new year's day, 1792" . . . 337

To the Rev. John Newton, March 18, 1792. He assures
Mr. N. that, though reduced to the company of Mrs.
Unwin alone, they are both comfortable . . 338

To the Rev. Mr. Hurdis, March 23, 1792. Remarks on
Mr. H.'s tragedy of Sir Thomas More . . . 339

To Lady Hesketh, March 25, 1792. Cause of the delay
of a preceding letter to her ; detention of Mr. Hayley's
letter to Cowper, at Johnson the bookseller's . . 310

To Thomas Park, Esq., iNIarch 30, 1792. Remarks on a
poem of Mr. P.'s . . . 342

To Samuel Rose, Esq., April 5, 1792. Vexatious", delay
of printers ; supposed secret enemy . . . 345

To William Hayley, Esq., April 6, 1792. Expected



XX CONTENTS.

PAGE

visit of Mr. H. ; Cowper introduces Mrs. Unwin, and
advises Lim to bring books with him, if he should want
any ..... 346

To the Rev. IMr. Hurdi^, April 8, 1792. Apolog^y for
delay in writing ; reference to Mr. H.'s sisters ; and
to an unanswered letter .... 348

To Joseph Hill, Esq., April 16, 1792. Thanks for a re-
mittance ; satirical stanzas on a blunder in his Homer;
progress in Milton .... 350

To Lady Throckmorton, April 16, 1792. Lady thieves ;
report of his being a friend to the slave trade ; means
taken by him to refute it . . . . 351

Sonnet addressed to William Wilberforce, Esq., and
published by Cowper in contradiction of the report
above-mentioned . . , . . 353



LIFE OF COWPER.

iPart t^c 5cconti— ®onttnuci).



Few subjects have agitated this country more
deeply than the important question of the aboHtion
of the Slave Trade ; if we except, what was its final
and necessary consequence, the extinction of Slaver}^
itself. The wrongs of injured Africa seemed at
length to have come up in remembrance before
God, and the days of mourning to be approaching
to their end. The strife of politics and the passions
of contending parties gave way to the great cause
of humanity, and a Pitt and a Fox, supported by
many of their respective adherents, here met on
common and neutral ground. The walls of parlia-
ment re-echoed with the tones of an eloquence the
most sublime and impassioned, because it is the
generous emotions of the heart that invigorate the
intellect, and give to it a persuasive and command-
ing power. In the mean time the mammon of
unrighteousness was not inactive ; commercial cu-
pidity and self-interest raised up a severe and
determined resistance, which protracted the final

VOL. IV. B



-,1.



2 LIFE OF COWPER.

settlement of this qaestion for nearly twenty years.
But its doom was sealed. The moral feeling of
the country pronounced the solemn verdict of con-
demnation, long before the decision of Parliament
confirmed that verdict by the authority and sanc-
tion of law. William Wilberforce, Esq., the great
champion of this cause, who had pleaded its rights
with an eloquence that had never been surpassed,
and a perseverance and ardour that no opposition
could subdue, lived to see the traffic in slaves
declared illegal by a legislative enactment ; his own
country rescued from an injurious imputation ; and
himself distinguished by the honourable and nobly
earned title of The Liberator of Africa.^

We have already stated that Cowper was urged
to contribute some popular ballads in behalf of this
benevolent enterprise, and that he composed three,
one of which has appeared at the close of the last
volume. W^e now insert another production of the
same kind, which we think possesses more pathos
and spirit than the former.

THE negro's complaint.

Forced from home and all its pleasures,

Afric's coast I left forlorn ;

To increase a stranger's treasures,

O'er the raging billows borne.

Men from England bought and sold me,

Paid my price in paltry gold ;

But, though slave they have enroU'd me.

Minds are never to be sold.

* The slave trade was abolished in the year 1807 ; declared
to be felony, in 1811 ; and to be piracy, in 1824.



LIFE OF COWPER.

Still in thought as free as ever.
What are England's rights, I ask,
Me from my delights to sever.
Me to torture, me to task ?
Fleecy locks and black complexion
Cannot forfeit Nature's clnim ;
Skins may difiter, but affection
Dwells in white and black the same.

Why did all-creating Nature
Make the plant for which we toil ?
Sighs must fan it, tears must water,
Sweat of ours must dress the soil.
Think, ye masters iron-hearted,
Lolling at j'our jovial boards,
Think how many backs have smarted
For the sweets your cane affords.

Is there, as ye sometimes tell us,
Is there one who reigns on high?
Has he bid you buy and sell us.
Speaking from his throne, the sky?
Ask him, if your knotted scourges,
Matches, blood-extorting screws,
Are the means that duty urges.
Agents of his will to use ?

Hark! he answers — wild tornadoes,
Strewing yonder sea with wrecks ;
Wasting towns, plantations, meadows.
Are the voice with which he speaks.
He, foreseeing what vexations
Afric's sons should undergo,
Fix'd their tyrants' habitations
Where his whirlwinds answer — No.

By our blood in Afric wasted.
Ere our necks received the chain ;
By the miseries that loe tasted,
Ci-ossing in your barks the main ;



B 2



4 LIFE OF COWPER.

By our sufferings, since ye brought ns
To the man-degrading mart
All sustain'd by patience, taught us
Only by a broken heart :

Deem our nation brutes no longer,
Till some reason ye shall find
Wortbier of regard, and stronger,
'I'han tbe colour of our kind.
Slaves of gold, wbose sordid dealings
Tarnish all your boasted powers,
Prove that you have human feelings.
Ere you proudly question ours .'

See Poems,

To the Christian and philosophic mind, which is
accustomed to trace the origin and operation of
principles that powerfully affect the moral dignity
and happiness of nations, it is interesting to inquire
what is the rise of that high moral feeling, that
keen and indignant sense of wrong and oppression,
which form so distinguishing a feature in the cha-
racter of this country ? Why, too, when the crime
and guilt of slavery attached to France, to Portu-
gal, to Spain, to Holland, and above all to America,
not less justly than to ourselves, was Great Britain
the first to lead the way in this noble career of
humanity, and to sacrifice sordid interest to the
claims of public duty?

This inquiry is by no means irrelevant, because
the same question suggested itself to the mind of
Cowper, and he thus answers it —

The cause, though worth the search, may yet elude
(Conjecture and remark, however shrewd.
They take perhaps a well-directed aim.



LIFE OF COWPER. 5

Who seek it in his climate and his frame.
Liberal in all things else, yet Nature here
With stern severity deals out the year.
Winter invades the spring, and often pours
A chilling flood on summer's drooping flowers ;
Unwelcome vapours quench autumnal beams,
Ungenial blasts attending curl the streams ;
The peasants urge their harvest, ply the fork
With double toil, and shiver at their work ;
Thus with a rigour, for his good designed.
She rears her favourite man of all mankind.
His form robust and of elastic tone,
Proportioned uell, half muscle and half bone.
Supplies with warm activity and force
A mind well-lodged, and masculine of course.
Hence lihertxf, sweel liberty inspires,
And keeps alive his fierce but noble fires*

Table Talk.

* The following lines, from Goldsmith's " Traveller," have
always been justly admired, and are so much in unison
with the verses of Cowper, quoted above, that we feel per-
suaded we shall consult the taste of the reader by inserting them.

" Fired at the sound, my genius spreads her wing.
And flies where Britain courts the western spring;
Where lawns extend that scorn Arcadian pride.
And brighter streams tlian famed Hydaspes glide !
There all around the gentlest breezes stray.
There gentle music melts on every spray;
Creation's mildest charms are there combined.
Extremes are only in the master's mind.
Stern o'er each bosom reason holds her state,
With daring aims irregularly great.
Pride in their port, defiance in their eye ;
I see the Lords of human kind pass by ;
Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band,
By forms unfashioned, fresh from Nature's hand ;



6 LIFE OF COWPER.

The foundation of this high national feehng must
evidently be sought in the causes here specified.
To these niay be added the influence arising from
the constitution of our government, the character
of our institutions, and the freedom with vv^hich
every subject undergoes the severe ordeal of public
discussion.

May it always be so wisely directed, as never to
incur the risk of becoming the foaming and heed-
less torrent; but rather resemble the majestic
river, so beautifully described by the poet Denham :

" Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full."

Cooper's Hill.

It is due, however, to the venerable name of Gran-
ville Sharp, to record, more particularly, the zeal with
which he called forth and fostered these feelings, and
devoted his time, his talents, and his labours, in expos-
ing the cruelty and injustice of this nefarious traffic.
He brought it to the test of Scripture. He refuted
those arguments which pretended to justify the
practice, from the supposed authority of the Mosaic
law, by proving that the servitude there mentioned
was a limited service, and accompanied by the year
of release* and jubilee. He cited passages from

Fierce in their native hardiness of soul,

True to imagined right, above control ;

While e'en the peasant boasts these rights to scan,

And learns to venerate himself as man."
The celebrated Dr. Johnson once quoted these lines, with so
much personal feeling and interest, that the tears are said to
have started into his eyes. — See Boswell's Life of Johjison.

* " In the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from



LIFE OF COVVPER. 7

that law, expressly prohibiting and condemning it.
" Thou shah not oppress a stranger, for ye know the
heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the
land of Egypt." Exod. xxiii. 9. " If a stranger
sojourn with thee, in your land, ye shall not vex
the stranger," &c. &c. " Thou shalt love him as thy-
self." Lev. xix. 33. " Love ye therefore the
stranger, for ye were strangers in the land of
Egypt." Deut. x. 17 — 19. He showed at large
that slavery was directly opposed to the genius and
spirit of the Gospel, which connects all mankind in
the bonds of fellowship and love. He adduced the
beautiful and affecting remark of St. Paul, who, in
his address to Philemon, when he beseeches him to
take back his servant Onesimus, observes, and yet
" not noio as a servant, hut above a servant, a brother
beloved, specially to me, but how much more imto
thee, both in thefiesh and in the Lord." Ver. 16.

After urging various other arguments, and insist-
ing largely, in his " Law of Retribution," on the
extent and enormity of the national sin, and its
fearful consequences, he draws an affecting picture
of the desolation of Africa, quoting the following
words of his illustrious ancestor. Archbishop Sharp :
" That Africa, which is not now more fruitful of
monsters, than it was once of excellently wise and
learned men ; that Africa, which formerly afforded
us our Clemens, our Origen, our TertulUan, our
Cyprian, our Augustine, and many other extraordi-
nary lights in the church of God ; thsiifamous Africa,

thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou
shalt not let him go away empty." Deut. xv. 12, 13.



O LIFE OF COWPER.

in whose soil Christianity did thrive so prodigiously,
and which could boast of so many flourishing churches,
alas ! is now a ivilderness. ' The wild boar out of
the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the
field doth devour it,' ' and it bringeth forth nothing
but bryars and thorns.' "

Such were the appeals of Granville Sharp to the
generation that is now swept away by the rapid
current of time. The grave has entombed their
prejudices. The great judgment day will pro-
nounce the final verdict. It is a melancholy proof
of the slow progress of truth, and of the influence
of prejudice and error, that De Las Casas pleaded
the injustice of slavery, before the 'Emperor Charles
V. nearly three hundred years from the present
time ; and that it required this long and protracted
period, before the cause of humanity finally tri-
umphed ; and even then, the triumph was restricted
to the precincts of one single kingdom. That king-
dom is Great Britain ! Five millions are said to be
still reserved in bondage and oppression.* May
this foul stain be speedily effaced; and civilized
nations learn that they can never found a title to
true greatness, till the rights of humanity and jus-
tice are publicly recognised and respected !

We could have dwelt with delight on the zeal of
Ramsay and Clarkson, but our limits do not allow

* It is computed that tbere are two millions of slaves, be-
longing to the United States of America; a similar number in
the Brazils ; and that the remainder are under the control of
other governments.



LIFE OF COWPER.

further digression, and the name of Cowper de-
mands and merits our attention.

How much the cause is indebted to his zeal and
benevolence, may be collected from the following
extracts.

Canst thou, and honoured with a Christian name,
Buy what is woman-born, and feel no shame ;
Trade in the blood of innocence, and plead
Expedience as a warrant for the deed ?
So may the wolf, whom famine has made bold
To quit the forest and invade the fold :
So may the ruffian, who with ghostly glide,
Dagger in hand, steals close to your bedside;
Not he, but his emergence forced the door.
He found it inconvenient to be poor.

Charity.

The verses, which we next insert, unite the in-
spiration of poetry with the manly feelings of the
Englishman, and the ardour of genuine humanity.

I would not have a Slave to till my ground,
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep.
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
That sinews bought and sold have ever earn'd.
No : dear as freedom is, and in my heart's
Just estimation prized above all price,
I had much rather be myself the slave.
And wear the bonds, than fasten them on him.
We have no slaves at home. — Then why abroad ?
And they themselves, once ferried o'er the wave
That parts us, are emancipate and loos'd.
Slaves cannot breathe in England : if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free ;



10 LIFE OF COWPER.

They touch our country, and their shackles fall.*
I'hat's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through every vein
Of all your empire ; that, where Britain's pow'r
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too."

The Task — The Time-piece.

But, highly as we appreciate the manly spirit of
the Englishman, and the ardour of the philanthropist,
in the foregoing verses, it is the Missionary Feeling,
glowing in the following passage, that we most ad-

* The force and beauty of this passage will be best under-
stood by the following statement. A slave, of the name of
Somerset, was brought over to England from the West Indies,
bv his master, Mr. Stewart. Shortly after, he absented him-
self, and refused to return. He was pursued and arrested,
and bv INIr. Stewart's orders forcibly put on board a ship,
the captain of which was called Knowles. He was there de-
tained in custody, to be carried out of the kingdom and sold.
The case being made known was brought before Lord Chief
Justice INIansfield, in the Court of King's Bench, June 22,
1772. The judgment of Lord Mansfield, on this occasion,
was as follows: — " A foreigner cannot be imprisoned here, on
the authority of any law existing in his own country. The
power of a master over his servant is different in all countries,
more or less limited or extensive ; the exercise of it therefore
must always be regulated by the laws of the place where ex-
ercised. The power claimed by this return was never in use
here. No master ever was allowed here to take a slave by
force, to be sold abroad, because he had deserted from his
service, or for any other reason whatever. We cannot say
the cause set forth by this return is allowed or approved of
Ai/ the laws of this kingdom, and therefore the man must he dis-
charged." " In other words," says a report of the case, " a
negro slave, coming from the colonies into Great Britain, becomes
ipso facto Free."



LIFE OF COWPER. 11

mire, as expressing the only true mode of requiting
injured Africa. Let us not think that we have dis-
charged the debt by an act of emancipation.* In
conferring the boon of liberty, we restore only that,
of which they ought never to have been deprived.
Restitution is not compensation. We have granted

* With what feelings of deep gratitude ought we to record
the final emancipation of eight hundred thousand Negroes, in
the West India Colonies, by an act which passed the British
legislature, in the year 1834, dating the commencement of that
memorable event from August the 1st. The sum of twenty mil-
lions was voted to the proprietors of slaves, as a compensation
for any loss they might incur. Mr. Wilberforce was at this time
on his dying bed, as if his life had been protracted to witness
this noble consummation of all his labours. When he heard
of this splendid act of national generosity, he lifted up his
feeble hands to heaven, exclaiming, " Thank God, that I have
lived to see 7ny country give twenty millions to abolish slavery."

The noble grant of the British and Foreign Bible Society
(to commemorate this great event) of a copy of a New Testa-
ment and Psalter to every emancipated negro that was able to
read, deserves to be recorded on this occasion. The measure
originated in a suggestion of the Rev. Hugh Stowell. It was
computed that, out of a population of eight hundred thousand
negroes, one hundred and fifty thousand were capable of read-
ing, and that an expenditure of twenty thousand pounds
would be necessary to supply this demand. Forty tons cubic
measure of New Testaments were destined to Jamaica alone. The
Colonial Department was willing to assist in the transfer, but
the Government packets were found to be too small for this
purpose. It is greatly to the honour of some ship-owners,
distinguished for their benevolence and public spirit, in the
city of London, that they offered to convey this valuable de-
posit, free of freightage and expense, to its place of destina-
tion. The sum of fifteen thousand pounds was eventually
contributed.



12 LIFE OF COWPER.

compensation to the proprietor, but where is the
compensation to the negro ? Never will the accu-
mulated wrongs of ages be redressed, till we say to
the sable sons of Africa, Behold your God. We
have burst the chains from the body, let us now
convey to them the tidings of a nobler freedom, a
deliverance from a worse captivity than even African
bondage and oppression. Let us announce to them
that God " hath made of one blood all nations of
men, that dwell on the face of the earth." Acts
xvii. 26. Let their minds be expanded by instruc-
tion, and the Bible, that great charter of salvation,
be circulated wherever it can be read, that thus
Britain may acquire a lasting and an honourable
title to their gratitude and love.

Inform Ins mind ; one flash of heavenly day
IVould heal his heart, and melt his chains away.
" Beauty for ashes" is a gift indeed,
And slaves, by truth enlarged, are doubly freed.
Then would he say, submissive at thy feet.
While gratitude and love made service sweet,
" My dear deliverer out of hopeless night.
Whose bounty bought me but to give me light,
I was a bondman on my native plain,
Sin forged, and ignorance made fust, the chain ;
Thy lips have shed instruction as the dew.
Taught me what path to shun, and what pursue;
Farewell my former joys! I sigh no more
For Africa's once loved, benighted shore ;
Serving a benefactor, I am free.
At my best home, if not exiled from thee."

Charity.

That Ethiopia shall one day stretch out her hands



LIFE OF COWPER. 13

unto God we have the assurance of a specific pro-
phecy, as well as the general declarations of sacred
scripture. " All the ends of' the world shall remem-
ber and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds
of the nations shall worship before thee." At what
time or in what manner the prophecy will be accom-
plished it is not for us to determine. But should it
please Divine Providence that the light of the gos-
pel, through the instrumentality of Britain, should
first spring forth from among that people in our own
West India colonies, the land of their former ser-
vitude and oppression ; should they subsequently,
with bowels yearning for their own country, see fit
to return, seized with a desire to communicate to
the land of their nativity that gospel, the power of
which they have previously felt for themselves ; and
should the hitherto inaccessible and unexplored parts
of that vast continent thus become evangelised,
such an event will furnish one of the most remark-
able instances of an over-ruling Power, educing
good out of positive evil, ever recorded in the annals
of mankind.

We beg to add one more remark. The Blacks are
considered to be the descendants of Ham, who first
peopled Africa. It pleased God to pronounce an
awful curse on him and his posterity. " Cursed be
Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be." For
the long period of four thousand years has that curse
impended over their heads. They have drunk the
cup of bitterness to its lowest dregs. We conceive
this terrible interdict to be now approaching to its
termination. The curse began to be repealed, in



14 LIFE OF COWPER.

part^ when the abohtion of slavery was first pro-
claimed by a British parliament. This was the seed
time of the future harvest : the example of Britain
cannot be exhibited in vain : other nations must fol-
low that example, or suffer the consequences of their


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