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William CowPER, a poet of distinguished and (Olney in Buckinghamshire, which was thenceforth original genius, was born in 1731, at Great Berk- the principal place of Cowper's residence. At hampstead in Hertfordshire. His father, the rector Olney he contracted a close friendship with the of the parish, was John Cowper, D. D., nephew of Rev. Mr. Newton, then minister there, and since Lord Chancellor Cowper. The subject of this me- rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, London, whose relimorial was educated at Westminster school, where gious opinions were in unison with his own.
To a he acquired the classical knowledge and correctness collection of hymns published by him, Cowper conof taste for which it is celebrated, but without any tributed a considerable number of his own composi. portion of the confident and undaunted spirit which tion. He first became known to the public as a is supposed to be one of the most valuable acquisi-poet by a volume printed in 1782, the contents of tions derived from the great schools, to those who which, if they did not at once place him high in the are to push their way in the world. On the con- scale of poetic excellence, sufficiently established his trary, it appears from his poem entitled “Tirocini- claim to originality. Its topics are, “ Table Talk," um," that the impressions made upon his mind from " Error,” “Truth," « Expostulation," " Hope," " Charwhat he witnessed in this place, were such as gave ity," “ Conversation,” and “ Retirement,” all treated him a permanent dislike to the system of public upon religious principles, and not without a consideducation. Soon after his leaving Westminster, he erable tinge of that rigor and austerity which bewas articled to a solicitor in London for three years; longed to his system. These pieces are written in but so far from studying the law, he spent the great- rhymed heroics, which he commonly manages with est part of his time with a relation, where he and little grace, or attention to melody. The style, though the future Lord Chancellor (Lord Thurlow) spent often prosaic, is never flat or insipid ; and sometimes their time, according to his own expression, “ in gig. the true poet breaks through, in a vein of lively degling, and making giggle.” At the expiration of his scription or bold figure. time with the solicitor, he took chambers in the If this volume excited but little of the public atTemple, but his time was still liule employed on tention, his next volume, published in 1785, introthe law, and was rather engaged in classical pur- duced his name to all the lovers of poetry, and gave suits, in which Coleman, Bonnel Thornton, and him at least an equality of reputation with any of Lloyd, seem to have been his principal associates. his contemporaries. It consists of a poem in six
Cowper's spirits were naturally weak; and when books, entitled “The Task,” alluding to the injunchis friends had procured him a nomination to the tion of a lady, to write a piece in blank verse, for offices of reading-clerk and clerk of the Private the subject of which she gave him The Sofa. It sets Committees in the House of Lords, he shrunk with out, indeed, with some sportive discussion of this such terror from the idea of making his appearance topic; but soon falls into a serious strain of rural before the most august assembly in the nation, that description, intermixed with moral sentiments and after a violent struggle with himself, he resigned his portraitures, which is preserved through the six intended employment, and with it all his prospects books, freely ranging from thought to thought with in life. In fact, he became completely deranged; no perceptible method. But as the whole poem will and in this situation was placed, in December, 1763, here be found, it is unnecessary to enter into particuabout the 320 year of his age, with Dr. Cotton, an lars. Another piece, entitled “Tirocinium, or a Reamiable and worthy physician at St. Alban’s. This view of Schools,” a work replete with striking obagitation of his mind is placed by some who have servation, is added to the preceding; and several mentioned it to the account of a deep consideration other pieces gleaned from his various writings will of his state in a religious view, in which the terrors be found in the collection. of eternal judgment so much overpowered his For the purpose of losing in employment the disfaculties, that he remained seven months in mo- tressing ideas which were ever apt to recur, he next mentary expectation of being plunged into final undertook the real task of translating into blank misery. Mr. Johnson, however, a near relation, has verse the whole of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. This taken pains to prove to demonstration, that these work has much merit of execution, and is certainly views of his condition were so far from producing a far more exact representation of the ancient poet such an effect, that they ought to be regarded as his than Pope's ornamental version ; but where simplisole consolation. It appears, however, that his mind city of matter in the original is not relieved by the had acquired such an indelible tinge of melancholy, force of sonorous diction, the poverty of English that his whole successive life was passed with little blank verse has scarcely been able to prevent it from more than intervals of comfort between long parox- sinking into mere prose. Various other translations ysms of settled despondency.
denoted his necessity of seeking employment; but After a residence of a year and a half with Dr. nothing was capable of durably relieving his mind Cotton, he spent part of his time at the house of from the horrible impressions it had undergone. He his relation, Earl Cowper, and part at Huntingdon, passed some of his latter years under the affection. with his intimate friend, the Rev. Mr. Unwin. The ate care of a relation at East Dereham, in Norfolk, death of the latter caused his widow to remove to where he died on April 25th, 1800.
When the British warrior-queen,
Bleeding from the Roman rods, Sought, with an indignant mien,
Counsel of her country's gods,
Sage beneath the spreading oak
Sat the Druid, hoary chief; Ev'ry burning word he spoke
Full of rage, and full of grief.
« Princess! if our aged eyes
Weep upon thy matchless wrongs, 'Tis because resentment ties
All the terrors of our tongues.
* Rome shall perish-write that word
In the blood that she has spilt; Perish, hopeless and abhorr'd,
Deep in ruin as in guilt.
“ Rome, for empire far renown'd,
Tramples on a thousand states; Soon her pride shall kiss the ground
Hark! the Gaul is at her gates !
“ Other Romans shall arise,
Heedless of a soldier's name; Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize,
Harmony the path to fame.
“ Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land, Arm'd with thunder, clad with wings,
Shall a wider world command.
Her unctuous olives, and her purple vines,
Revolving seasons, fruitless as they pass,
Without a soil t'invite the riller's care,
Ye monarchs, whom the lure of honor draws,
Fast by the stream, that bounds your just domain
At every step beneath their feet they tread
Yet man, laborious man, by slow degrees,
Increasing commerce and reviving art Renew the quarrel on the conqu’ror's part; And the sad lesson must be learn'd once more, That wealth within is ruin at the door.
“ Regions Cæsar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway; Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they."
Such the bard's prophetic words,
Pregnant with celestial fire, Bending as he swept the chords
Of his sweet but awful lyre.
She, with all a monarch's pride,
Felt them in her bosom glow; Rush'd to battle, fought, and died ;
Dying hurl'd them at the foe.
“ Ruffians, pitiless as proud,
Heav'n awards the vengeance due ; Empire is on us bestow'd,
Shame and ruin wait for you."
There was a time when Etna's silent fire Slept unperceiv'd, the mountain yet entire ; When, conscious of no danger from below, She tower'd a cloud-capt pyramid of snow. No thunders shook with deep intestine sound The blooming groves, that girdled her around.
THE GIFT OF MY COUSIN ANN BODHAM.
What are ye, monarchs, laurel'd heroes, say, Delighted with my bauble coach, and wrapp'd
O place me in some Heav'n-protected isle, Sull outlives many a storm, that has effac'd
Thy nightly visits to my chamber made, No crested warrior dips his plume in blood; That thou might'st know me safe and warmly laid ; Where Pow'r secures what Industry has won ; Thy inorning bounties ere I left my home, Where to succeed is not to be undone;
The biscuit, or confectionary plum; A land, that distant tyrants hate in vain,
The fragrant waters on my cheeks bestow'd
All this, and more endearing still than all,
Ne'er roughen'd by those cataracts and breaks,
All this still legible in mem'ry's page,
Adds joy to duty, makes me glad to pay
Perhaps a frail memorial, but sincere,
Could Time, his flight revers'd, restore the hours Voice only fails, else how distinct they say, When, playing with thy vesture's tissued flow'rs, “Grieve not, my child, chase all thy fears away!" The violet, the pink, and jessamine, The meek intelligence of those dear eyes
I prick'd them into paper with a pin, (Blest be the art that can immortalize,
(And thou wast happier than myself the while, The art that baffles Time's tyrannic claim
Wouldst softly speak, and stroke my head, and smile;) To quench it,) here shines on me still the same. Could those few pleasant days again appear, Faithful remembrancer of one so dear,
Might one wish bring them, would I wish them here? O welcome guest, though unexpected here! I would not trust my heart—the dear delight Who bidd'st me honor with an artless song, Seems so to be desir'd, perhaps I might.Affectionate, a mother lost so long.
But no—what here we call our life is such, I will obey, not willingly alone,
So litile to be lor'd, and thou so much, But gladly, as the precept were her own:
That I should ill requite thee to constrain And, while that face renews my filial grief, Thy unbound spirit into bonds again. Fancy shall weave a charm for my relief,
Thou, as a gallant bark from Albion's coast Shall sleep me in Elysian reverie,
(The storms all weather'd and the ocean cross'd) A momentary dream that thou art she.
Shoots into port at some well-haven'd isle, My mother! when I learn’d that thou wast dead, Where spices breathe, and brighter seasons smile, Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed ? There siis quiescent on the noods, that show Hover'd thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son,
Her beauteous form reflected clear below, Wretch even then, life's journey just begun ? While airs impregnated with incense play Perhaps thou gav'st me, though unfelt, a kiss ; Around her, fanning light her streamers gay ; Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss—
So thou, with sails how swift! hast reach'd the shore, Ah, that maternal smile! it answers-Yes.
“ Where tempests never beat, nor billows roar," I heard the bell tollid on thy burial day,
And thy lov'd consort on the dang'rous tide
Always from port withheld, always distress'd-
That thought is joy, arrive what may to me. What ardently I wish’d, I long believ'd,
My boast is not, that I deduce my birth And, disappointed still, was still deceiv'd.
From loins enthron'd, and rulers of the Earth; By expectation ev'ry day beguild,
But higher far my proud pretensions riseDupe of to-morrow even from a child.
The son of parents pass'd into the skies. Thus many a sad to
morrow came and went And now, farewell-Time unrevok'd has run Till, all my stock of infant-sorrow spent,
His wonted course, yet what I wish'd is done. I learn'd at last submission to my lot,
By contemplation's help, not sought in vain, But, though I less deplor'd thee, ne'er forgot. I seem t'have liv'd my childhood o'er again;
Where once we dwelt our name is heard no more, To have renew'd the joys that once were mine, Children not thine have trod my nurs'ry floor; Without the sin of violating thine ; And where the gard'ner Robin, day by day, Drew me to school along the public way,
As envy pines at good possessid,
On good, that seems approaching ; And, if success his steps attend, Discerns a rival in a friend,
And hates him for encroaching.
Hence authors of illustrious name, Unless belied by common fame,
Are sadly prone to quarrel, To deem the wit a friend displays A tax upon their own just praise,
And pluck each other's laurel.
A man renown'd for repartee
With friendship's finest feeling; Will thrust a dagger at your breast, And say he wounded you jest,
By way of balm for healing.
Candid, and generous, and just,
An error soon corrected
Is most to be suspected ?
And taken trash for treasure,
A mere Utopian pleasure.
Nor is it wise complaining,
We sought without attaining.
Or mean self-love erected ; Nor such as may awhile subsist, Between the sot and sensualist,
For vicious ends connected. Who seek a friend should come dispos'd, T'exhibit in full bloom disclos'd
The graces and the beauties,
And constantly supported :
Our own as much distorted.
Whoever keeps an open ear
The trumpet of contention ; Aspersion is the babbler's trade, To listen is to lend himn aid,
And rush into dissension.
A friendship, that in frequent fits
The sparks of disputation,
The thought of conflagration.
Some fickle creatures boast a soul
Their humor yet so various-
'Their love is so precarious.
The great and small but rarely meet
Plebeians must surrender,
Obscurity with splendor.
Some are so placid and serene,
They sleep secure from waking; And are indeed a bog, that bears Your unparticipated cares,
Unmoy'd and without quaking.
Courtier and patriot cannot mix
Without an effervescence,
A friendly coalescence.
Religion should extinguish strise,
But friends that chance to differ
No combatants are stiffer.
No cutting and contriving-
With still less hope of thriving.
As similarity of mind,
First fixes our attention;
Must save it from declension.
Safe policy, but hateful-
Unpleasant and ungrateful.
No subterfuge or pleading
A spy on my proceeding.
Of evils yet unmention'd-
To be at least expedient,
A principal ingredient.
Though some have turn'd and turn'd it
Have not, it scems, discern'd it.
To mortify and grieve me,
Or may my friend deceive me.
Sometimes the fault is all our own, Some blemish in due time made known,
By trespass or omission; Sometimes occasion brings to light Our friend's defect long hid from sight,
And even from suspicion.
Then judge yourself and prove your man As circumspectly as you can,
And, having made election, Beware no negligence of yours, Such as a friend but ill endures,
Enfeeble his affection.
Chat secrets are a sacred trust,
That constancy befits them,
And all the world admits them.
studiis florens ignobilis oti.
Virg. Georg p.iv.
But 'tis not timber, lead, and stone, An architect requires alone,
To finish a fine buildingThe palace were but half complete, If he could possibly forget
The carving and the gilding.
HACKNEY'D in business, wearied at that oar
And add a smile to what was sweet before,
The man that hails you Tom or Jack,
How he esteems your merit,
To pardon or to bear it.