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youthful passion, the object of which Nir. Hayley has over. looked. Of his feeling, these tender lines, addressed to a female relative, will afford a proof.
"O prone to pity, generous, and sincere,
All that delights the happy-palls with me!' Vol. i. P. 13. The office of the attor:ney be exchanged for chambers in the Inner-Temple, where he resided as a student of law until the age of thirty-three, occasionally amusing himself with literature and poetry. Colman, Bonuel Thornton, and Lloyd, were among his acquaintance, and were assisted by hun, particularly Lloyil, in their compositions. He wrote three papers in the Congoissouz Nos? . 134. 138. Amidst the sprightliness C# 32 Crasile to Llod, written at the age of twenty-three, we discover apprehensions of that dejec. tion which clouded his life. Iis: ieasons for addressing the
• But to diveri a tierce bunciiti,
Are gloomy thoughts, led on by Spleen.' Vol. i. p. 15. The history which he has given of himself to Mr. Park, m 1792, is modest and unassuming.
" From the age of twenty to thirty-three, I was occupied, or ought to have been, in the study of the law; from thirty-three to sixty, I have spent my time in the country, where my reading has been only an apology for idleness, and where, when I had not either a magazine, or a review, I was sometimes a carpenter, at others a bird-cage maker, or a gardener, or a drawer of landscapes. At fifty years of age I commenced an author :--it is a whim, that has served me longest, and best, and will probably be my last." Vol. i. P. 19.
In his thirty-first year he was nominated to the offices of reading-clerk and clerk of the private committees in the house of lords ; but his diffidence was alarmed at the mere idea of exhibiting himself in public. His friends procured for hiin the appointinent of clerk of the journals in the same house, where an appearance in person was thouglt unnecessary: but a parliamentary dispute required liis attendance at the bar.
Speaking of this important incident in a sketch, which he once formed himself, of passages in his early life, he expresses, what he endured at the time, in these remarkable words : « They, whose spirits are formed like mine, to whom a public exhibition of themselves is mortal poison, may have some idea of the horrors of my situation others can have none."
• His terrors on this occasion arose to such an astonishing height, that they utterly overwhelmed his reason:--for altho' he had endca. voured to prepare himself for his public duty, by attending closely at the office, for several months, to examine the parliamentary journals, his application was rendered useless by that excess of diffidence, which made him conceive, that, whatever knowledge he might previously acquire, it would all forsake him at the bar of the house. This dis stressing apprehension encreased to such a degree, as the time for his appearance approached, that when the day so anxiously dreaded arrived, he was unable to make the experiment. The very friends, who called on him, for the p ose of attepding him to the house of lords, acquiesced in the crueldocissitj of his re!ignishing the prospect of a station so severely formidable to a frame of such singular sensibility.' Vol. i. p. 24.
His faculties were vieweglielmo.ba ghis conflict; and it became necessary to place livre act::Alban's, under the care of Dr. Cotton, where, from December 1763 until the July following, he suffered under a mental derangement, removed, at length, by the skill and amiable manners of Dr. Cotton. A delicate silence veils the minute particulars of this awful calamity.
In June 1765 he resolved to abandon his profession ; and, by the advice of his brother John, took lodgings at Huntingdon, where he accidentally engaged the notice of Mr. W. C. Unwin, and was introduced to the father, formerly master of the free-school, to the mother and sister of this benevolent family. Mr. Unwin, Cowper describes as ' a man of learning and good sense, and as simple as parson Adams.' The poet fascinated all the Unwins, who prevailed on him to leave a solitary lodging, and become part of their family. From this accident arose an extraordinary attachinent to Mrs. Unwin, which death alone dissolved. She is invoked in 'The Task, asm
the dear companion of my walks, Whose arm, this twentieth winter, I perceive Fast lock'd in mine.'
On this intimacy, the biographer remarks
• The attachment of Cowper to Mrs. Unwin, the Mary of the poet! was an attachment perhaps unparalleleri. Their domestic union, tho' not sanctioned by the common forms of life, was supported with perfect innocence.' Vol.i. p. 30.
The charm of this unparalleled connexion is often warmly acknowledged in the letters of the poet to his friends.
Among his earliest correspondents were two lawyers-lord Thurlow, and Joseph Hill, esg. The latter has preserved many interesting memorials, of which Mr. Hayley has availed himself. To Mr. Cowper, of Park-house, Ilartford, his cousin, he communicated, in 1767, his religious opinions, strongly tinctured with enthusiastic faith. Calvinism, or the spirit of vital Christianity,' then pervaded the entire soul of Cowper.
Mr. Unwin died by a fall from his horse, which fractured his skull, in July 1767: but Cowper informs his cousin- .
• I shall still, by God's leave, continue with Mrs. Unwin, whose behaviour to me has always been that of a mother to a son. We know not yet where we shall settle, but we trust, that the Lord whom we seck, will go before us, and prepare a rest for us.' Vol. i. 2. 63.
Mr. Newton, the curate of Olney, who visited Mrs. Unwin on this event, assisted her and the poet on their reinoval to Olney, in October 1767.
Cowper, who inherited no opulence from his father, was incapable of covering or acquiring wealth: but the rich often engaged him in relieving the necessitous; and for Mr. Thornton, celebrated in his poems, he distributed various charities.
His mode of life at Olney was calculated to increase the morbid propensity of his mind, which one tremendous idea, not explained by Mr. Hayley, perpetually assailed.
• The poet's time and thoughts were more and more engrossed by religious pursuits. He wrote many hymns, and occasionally directed the prayers of the poor. Vol. i. p. 71.
In 1770 he was hurried to Cambridge, to witness the death of his brother John, fellow of Bennet-college, a inan of Icarning, and an affectionate relative.
Consoled by the society of Mr. Newton, he composed sixty-eight hymns, which, in the volume completed by the clera gyman for the inhabitants of Olney, are marked with the initial letters of the poet's name.
From 1773 to 1779 a continued dejection oppressed the mind of Cowper. Cordially do we approve, with Mr, Hayley, those medical writers on mental disorder, who cautious,
ly guard a frame of the slightest tendency to this misfortune from the attractions of Piety herself. . So fearfully and wonderfully are we made, that man in all conditions, ought perhaps to pray, that he never may be led to think of his Creator, and of his Redeemer either too litile, or too much.' Vol. i, P. 87.
Mrs. Unwin watched over the poet in his lengthened malady with maternal tenderness. As he emerged from this gloom, before his mind was capable of literary occupation, he diverted himself with eclucating the group of young hares, celebrated in The Task.
In 1780, Mr. Newton, being presented to a living in London, introduced to the poet the Rev. Mr. Bull, of NewportPagnel, for whom Cowper translated, from the French, many parts of the spiritual songs of madame de la Motte Guyon. To the influence of friendship, we principally owe the writings of Cowper.
His exertions were relaxed until the spring of 1781. At this time, a letter to Mr. Hill discovers that he gratuitously assisted his neighbours with legal advice.
Half a century of life had passed before the poct appeared to the public as an author. In May 1781, be informed Mr, Hill that he had a work in the press, the production of the winter of 1780, except a few minor pieces. He thus de. scribes his propensity to verse ::- When I can find no other occupation, I think, and when I think, I am very apt to do it in rhyme. Heuce it comes to pass that the season of the year which generally pinches off the flowers of poetry, unfolds mine, such as they are, and crowus me with a winier garland. In this respect therefore, I and my contemporary bards are by na means upon a par. They write when the delightsul influences of fine weather, fine prospects, and a brisk motion of the animal spirits, make poctry almost the language of nature; and I, when icicles depend from all the leaves of the Parnassian laurel, and when a reasonable man would as little expect to succeed in verse, as to hear a blackbird whistle.' Vol. i. P. 105.
The Progress of Error, and other poetical subjects, were suggested by Mrs. Unwin.
On its publication, his first volume of poems-equal perhaps, in originality of manner, to the popular “Task '--Was neglectei. To the exaggerated praises of Mr. Hayley ou this voluune, me cannot assent; yet many passages authorise the quotation from the younger Pliny
« Multa tonuiter, multa sublimiter, multa venuste, multa tenere, nulta dulciter, multa cum bile.” Vol. i. p. 112. • In the autunn of 1781, a fortunate incident, the friend. ship of a lady, to whom we are indebted for The Task, the ballad of John Gilpin, and the translation of Homer, gave renewed ardor to the poct. Lady Austen, an accomplished character, and widow of sir Robert Austen, bart. -- afterwards married M. de Tardif, and died in France in 1802. From her Mr. Hayley has derived valuable information.
The origin of this intimacy displays the eccentric character of Cowper.
He saw, from the window of Mrs. Unwin's house, lady Austen in a shop at Olnev, with her sister, Mrs. Jones, whom he had met at Mrs. Unwin's house. Struck with the appearance of the stranger, although naturally timid, he requested that Mrs. Unwin would invite her, with Mrs. Jones, to tea, When they had arrived, he was reluctant to join them; buit, prevailed on at lengti, he was re-animated by the colloquial talents of lady Austen.
This trivial occurrence had a salutary influence on the spis rits of the bird, who did not anticipate the danger of an intimacy with two ladies, each presuming on her power to direct his studies,
Lady Austen was sedalous to prevent his habitual dejection. She presented bin with a portable printing-press ; and he whimsically informs her of his progress in the typogra. phic art. She became tenant of the parsonage at Olney, contiguous to the dwelling of Mrs. Unwin, to wlrich she had a free communication ; and Cowper, lady Austen, and Mrs. Unwin, formed almost one family. The musical abilities of lady Austen induced the poet to compose songs, of which a few pleasing examples are given. The history of the face. tious ballad of John Gilpin, which originated in a hint of lady Austen, our contracted space precludes us from extracting. The name of Dr. Franklin, as a critic on poetry, tempts us, however, to transcribe his complimentary letter on the first volume of poems. We are unacquainted with the person to whom it was adiressed. Sir,
Passy, May 8, 1782. . 'I received the letter you did me the honour of writing to me, and am much obliged by your kind present of a book. The relish for reading of poctry had long since left me, but there is some. thing so new in the manner, so easy and yet so correct in the language, so clear in the expression, yet concise, and so just in the sentiments, that I have read the whole with great pleasure, and some of the pieces more than once. I beg you to accept my thankful acknowledgements, and to present my respects to the author.
• Your most obedient humble Servant,
· B. Franklin.' Vol. i. p. 131, BE