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It would be cruel to mortify so fine a singer, therefore I do not tell him that he interrupts and hinders me, but I venture to tell you so, and to plead his performance in excuse of my abrupt conclusion.

I send you the goldfinches, with which you will do as you see good.' P. 268.

'I sit with all the windows and the door wide open, and am regaled with the scent of every flower in a garden as full of flowers as I have known how to make it. We keep no bees, but if I lived in a hive, I should hardly hear more of their music. All the bees in the neighbourhood resort to a bed of mignonette, opposite to the window, and pay me for the honey they get out of it by a hum, which though rather monotonous, is as agreeable to my ear as the whistling of my linnets. All the sounds that nature utters are delightful, at least in this country. I should not perhaps find the roaring of lions in Africa, or of bears in Russia, very pleasing, but I know no beast in England whose voice I do not account musical, save and except always the braying of an ass. The notes of all our birds and fowls please me, without one exception. I should not indeed think of keeping a goose in a cage, that I might hang him up in the parlour, for the sake of his melody, but a goose upon a common, or in a farm-yard, is no bad performer: and as to insects, if the black beetle, and beetles indeed of all hues, will keep out of my way, I have no objection to any of the rest; on the contrary, in whatever key they sing, from the gnat's fine treble to the bass of the humble bee, I admire them all. Seriously however, it strikes me as a very observable instance of providential kindness to man, that such an exact accord has been contrived between his ear, and the sounds with which, at least in a rural situation, it is almost every moment visited. All the world is sensible of the uncomfortable effect that certain sounds have upon the nerves, and consequently upon the spirits.-And if a sinful world had been filled with such as would have curdled the blood, and have made the sense of hearing a perpetual inconvenience, I do not know that we should have had a right to complain. But now the fields, the woods, the gardens, have each their concert, and the ear of man is for ever regaled by creatures who seem only to please themselves. Even the ears that are deaf to the Gospel are continually entertained, though without knowing it, by sounds for which they are solely indebted to its author. There is some where in infinite space, a world that does not roll within the precincts of mercy, and as it is reasonable, and even scriptural to suppose, that there is music in heaven, in those dismal regions perhaps the reverse of it is found. Tones so dismal, as to make woe itself more insupportable, and to acuminate even despair.' P. 287.

'You never said a better thing in your life, than when you assured Mr. of the expedience of a gift of bedding to the poor of Olney. There is no one article of this world's comforts, with which, as Falstaff says, they are so heinously unprovided. When a poor woman, and an honest one, whom we know well, carried home two pair of blankets, a pair for herself and husband, and a pair for her six

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children, as soon as the children saw them, they jumped out of their straw, caught them in their arms, kissed them, blessed them, and danced for joy. An old woman, a very old one, the first night that she found herself so comfortably covered, could not sleep a wink, being kept awake by the contrary emotions of transport on the one hand, and the fear of not being thankful enough on the other.' P. 347.

Engaging alike in sorrow and in joy, benevolence enlivens even the infirmities of Cowper. We leave, with reluctance, his sportive moments, to dwell on the contemplations of his more serious hours.

Oppressed by intellectual disease, if he sometimes appear an enthusiast, yet, as the animating fervour and general purity of his religious sentiments must powerfully impress every Christian reader, although our faith may be in a few points dissentient, we shall not withhold his opinions.

On his poem entitled Truth, we notice these remarks, in a letter to Mr. Unwin:

'I wrote that poem on purpose to inculcate the eleemosynary character of the gospel, as a dispensation of mercy, in the most absolute sense of the word, to the exclusion of all claims of merit on the part of the receiver; consequently to set the brand of invalidity upon the plea of works, and to discover, upon scriptural ground, the absurdity of that notion, which includes a solecism in the very terms of it, that man, by repentance and good-works, may deserve the mercy of his Maker. I call it a solecism, because mercy deserved ceases to be mercy, and must take the name of justice. This is the opinion which I said in my last, the world would not acquiesce in, but except this, I do not recollect that I have introduced a syllable into any of my pieces that they can possibly object to; and even this I have endeavoured to deliver from doctrinal dryness, by as many pretty things, in the way of trinket and plaything, as I could muster upon the subject. So that if I have rubbed their gums, I have taken care to do it with a coral, and even that coral embellished by the ribbon to which it is tied, and recommended by the tinkling of all the bells I could contrive to annex to it.' P. 83.

In the passages subjoined, the genuine spirit of Christian morality is apparen:

A man, whose vices and irregularities have brought his liberty and life into danger, will always be viewed with an eye of compassion by those who understand what human nature is made of; and while we acknowledge the severities of the law to be founded upon principles of necessity and justice, and are glad that there is such a barrier provided for the peace of society, if we consider that the difference between ourselves and the culprit is not of our own making, we shall be, as you are, tenderly affected by the view of his misery, and not less so, because he has brought it upon himself.' P. 86.

When I see an afflicted, and an unhappy man, I say to myself, there is perhaps a man whom the world would envy, if they knew the value of his sorrows, which are possibly intended only to soften his heart, and to turn his afflictions towards their proper centre. But when I see, or hear of a crowd of voluptuaries, who have no ears but for music, no eyes but for splendour, and no tongue but for impertinence and folly-I say, or at least I see occasion to say-This is madnessThis persisted in must have a tragical conclusion-It will condemn you, not only as Christians, unworthy of the name, but as intelligent creatures-You know by the light of nature, if you have not quenched it, that there is a God, and that a life like yours cannot be according to his will.' F. 100.

'Let a man attach himself to a particular party, contend furiously for what are properly called evangelical doctrines, and enlist himself under the banner of some popular preacher, and the business is done. Behold a Christian, a Saint, a Phoenix!-In the mean time 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.' P. 107.

'What there is of a religious cast in the volume, I have thrown towards the end of it, for two reasonss-first, that I might not revolt the reader at his entrance-and secondly, that my best impressions might be made last. Were I to write as many volumes as Lopez de Vega, or Voltaire, not one of them would be without this tincture. If the world like it not, so much the worse for them. I make all the concessions I can, that I may please them, but I will not please them at the expence of my conscience.' P. 296.

To malady of mind, or a momentary fanaticism, we have ascribed the venial errors and indiscreet assertions of this amiable man. Of these, impartiality induces us to mention only the most prominent.

The death of captain Cook, Cowper seems to attribute to a particular intervention of Providence :

Last night I had a letter from lord Dartmouth. It was to apprise me of the safe arrival of Cook's last voyage, which he was so kind as to lend to me, in St. James's square. The reading of those volumes afforded me much amusement, and I hope some instruction. No observation however, forced itself upon me with more violence than one, that I could not help making, on the death of captain Cook. God

is a jealous God, and at Owhyhee the poor man was content to be worshipped. From that moment, the remarkable interposition of providence in his favour, was converted into an opposition, that thwarted all his purposes. He left the scene of his deification, but was driven back to it by a violent storm, in which he suffered more than in any that had preceded it. When he departed, he left his worshippers still infatuated with an idea of his godship, consequently well disposed to serve him. At his return, he found them sullen, distrustful, and mysterious. A trifling theft was committed, which by a blunder of his own in pursuing the thief, after the property had been restored, was magnified to an affair of the last importance. One of their favourite chiefs was killed too by a blunder. Nothing in short, but blunder and mistake attended him, 'till he fell breathless into the water, and then all was smooth again. The world indeed will not take notice, or see that the dispensation bore evident marks of divine displeasure; but a mind, I think, in any degree spiritual, cannot overlook them.' r. 293.

On this singular statement, Mr. Hayley remarks, in a note,

I cannot pass the present letter without observing that I am persuaded my friend Cowper utterly misapprehended the behaviour of captain Cook, in the affair alluded to. From the little personal acquaintance which I had myself with this humane and truly Christian navigator, and from the whole tenor of his life, I cannot believe it possible for him to have acted under any circumstances, with such impious arrogance, as might appear offensive in the eyes of the Almighty. P. 294.

Many letters teem with methodistical expressions.-To Mr. Unwin he thus addresses his consolations:

Be not sorry that your love of Christ was excited in you by a picture. Could a dog or a cat suggest to me the thought, that Christ is precious, I would not despise that thought because a dog or a cat suggested it; the meanness of the instrument cannot debase the nobleness of the principle. He that kneels before a picture of Christ is an idolater, but he in whose heart the sight of a picture kindles a warm remembrance of the Saviour's sufferings, must be a Christian. Suppose that I dream as Gardiner did, that Christ walks before me, that he turns and smiles upon me, and fills my soul with ineffable love and joy. Will a man tell me that I am deceived, that I ought not to love or rejoice in him for such a reason, because a dream is merely a picture drawn upon the imagination? I hold not with such divinity. To love Christ is the greatest dignity of man, be that affection wrought in him how it may.' P. 337.

That'reviewers seldom show mercy to an advocate for evangelical truth, whether in prose or verse,' justice to our associates and to our rivals forces from us a denial. The sacred interests of religion and morality are as profoundly

venerated and more powerfully defended by critical journalists than by the most credulous enthusiasts.

To religious discussion we have yielded an ample portion of our pages. Subjects of a literary and miscellaneous nature must give variety to our remaining space.

Cowper was neither entirely devoid of the pride of being considered singular, nor of professional poetic egotism.—


My descriptions are all from nature. Not one of them secondhanded. My delineations of the heart are from my own experience. Not one of them borrowed from books, or in the least degree conjectural. In my numbers, which I have varied as much as I could (for blank verse without variety of numbers, is no better than bladder and string) I have imitated nobody, though sometimes perhaps there may be an apparent resemblance; because at the same time that I would not imitate, I have not affectedly differed.' P. 296.

In his critical observations he is usually correct, often felicitous; particularly in his vindication of Milton from the rude attacks of Dr. Johnson, a service which he has accomplished with the gallantry of a genuine poet.

'His treatment of Milton is unmerciful to the last degree. He has belaboured that great poet's character with the most industrious cruelty. As a man, he has hardly left him the shadow of one good quality. Churlishness in his private life, and a rancorous hatred of every thing royal in his public, are the two colours with which he has smeared all the canvas. If he had any virtues, they are not to be found in the doctor's picture of him, and it is well for Milton, that some sourness in his temper is the only vice with which his memory has been charged; it is evident enough that if his biographer could have discovered more, he would not have spared him. As a poet, he has treated him with severity enough, and has plucked one or two of the most beautiful feathers out of his muse's wing, and trampled them under his great foot. He has passed sentence of condemnation upon Lycidas, and has taken occasion from that charming poem, to expose to ridicule (what is indeed ridiculous enough) the childish prattlement of pastoral compositions, as if Lycidas was the prototype and pattern of them all. The liveliness of the description, the sweetness of the numbers, the classical sprit of antiquity that prevails in it, go for nothing. I am convinced by the way, that he has no ear for poetical numbers, or that it was stopped by prejudice against the harmony of Milton's; was there ever any thing so delightful as the music of the Paradise Lost? It is like that of a fine organ; has the fullest and the deepest tones of majesty, with all the softness and elegance of the Dorian flute. Variety without end and never equalled, unless perhaps by Virgil. P. 6.

Many hints are scattered through his correspondence, of which careless writers, who undervalue criticism, may advantageously avail themselves.

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