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who has commemorated the commencement of this intimacy, in the Preface to the First Volume of Cowper's Poems.--"By these steps,” says Mr. Newton,“the good hand of God, unknown to me, was providing for me one of the principal blessings of my life; a friend and a counsellor, in whose company, for almost seven years, though we were seldom seven successive waking hours separate, I always found new pleasure. A friend, who was not only a comfort to myself, but a blessing to the affectionate poor people among whom I then lived.” The poems were published in 1787, and were ushered into the world by an advertisement from the pen of Mr. Newton; in which we are informed, that Mr. Cowper was again enabled to resume his pen, and that some of the first fruits of his recovery were then presented to the publick. With all the anxiety of friendship, had this gentleman attended the indisposition of the poet; and now, with becoming exultation, he hailed his returning health. Some persons have not hesitated to observe, that Mr. Newton's theology was calculated rather to irritate, than allay, the apprehensions of Mr. Cowper : but these, surely, were ignorant of Mr. Newton's tenets, or they never could have ascribed so lamentable a tendency to the sentiments of the author of the following declaration.-"The outward circumstances of many have been uniform ; they have known but little variety in life; and, with respect to their inward change, it has been effected in a secret way, unnoticed by others and almost unperceived by themselves. Others, the Lord seems to select, in order to shew the exceeding riches of his grace, and the greatness of his mighty power, &c. We must not, therefore,
make the experience of others, in all respects, a rule to ourselves nor our own a rule to others.”* It really seems highly improbable, that he who reasoned so well upon what is considered by christians to be a difficult subject, should mislead the mind of his friend, and consign him to religious melancholy. Notwithstanding, however, the utmost vigilance of affection, Mr. Cowper was again plunged into that dreadful abyss, again tortured with doubt, apprehension, and dismay.
The violence of the disorder subsiding, he became, as formerly, accessible to a few intimate friends, who successively endeavoured, by alluring him into the paths of the muses, to divert his thoughts from their habitual gloom. Thus originated most of those poems, which have surprised and delighted the world, and which awhile relieved even the painful solitude of despair. His mode of living, at this time, whenever peace indulged him with her smiles, is thus described: “The forenoon being employed in composition became gradually less distressing. Before dinner, he usually walked two hours; and the air, the rural prospects, and muscular exercise, contributed to his further relief. If at dinner, and, during the afternoon, he had the company of an intimate friend or two, their conversation seemed to afford the principal alleviation to his habitual burthen. The evening was commonly employed in reading aloud to some friend who resided with him. But as night approached, his gloom
* An Authentic Narrative, *°C. Edit. 1799, pp. 4-86, 7. Johnson,
of mind regularly increased; and when he went to his bed, it was not to rest, but to be again harrassed in slumber, with the terrifying images of a bewildered fancy, neither restrained by the controul of reason, nor diverted by external objects."* Unhappily, even this state of comparative bliss was but too suddenly deranged, by a relapse into that dreadful despondency which was peculiarly incident to this excellent man: he, indeed, so far regained himself as to be able to assume his pen, and in some measure to relieve the anxieties of thought with the soothing graces of imagination; but he was never perfectly reinstated in the felicity from which he had fallen.
Mr. COWPER was laterly under the care of his affectionate and intelligent young relative, the Rev. John Johnson, who, during the last year or two of his life, had sometimes indulged the hope of witnessing his complete restoration to health, Suddenly however, this expectation was fatally disappointed ; and, towards the close of 1799, it became sufficiently evident that he could not successfully contend with the ravages of a rapid decay, t that, ere long, the mortal must put on immortality. Conscious of the speedy approach of this important change, however agonizing to himself, Mr. Johnson unremittingly exercised that attention which Young so truly describes as
-The dreadful post of observation,
*Greatheed's Sermon, on the Death of Mr. Cowper, Pp. 22--3.
On the 25th of April 1800, friendship was at length discharged from these afflicting duties, and its object happily released from this scene of suffering and sorrow Early on the morning of that day, Mr. Cowper sunk into a state of such apparent insensibility, that, had not his eyes remained half open, it might have been conjectured a tranquil slumber. In this situation-his respiration regular, though feeble; his countenance and frame perfectly serene,-he continued about twelve hours, when he expired without heaving his breath. He died at East Dereham in Norfolk; and his death has occasioned two funeral discourses. One of these was preached by the Rev. Mr. Newton, on Sunday May the 11th 1800, at St. Mary Woolnoth church in Lombard Street, London; the other, on the 18th of May 1800, was delivered by Mr. Greatheed at Olney.
Nothing in the moral character of Mr. Cowper can explain the cause of his habitual despondency. So far from his being tainted with early vice, so far from rushing into those excesses which are considered inseparable from youth, having been religiously educated, he maintained an uniform reverence for religion; his manners were always respectable and amiable; where he was best known, there he was most beloved. He was bewildered in the mazes of speculation; he could not rest till he had ascertained the certainty of his election to the blessings of the gospel, and upon this rock he appears to have been wrecked. Endued with the acutest sensibility, he was but too apt to reason from his feelings, ir.stead of attempting to regulate those fecling by the more salutary
decisions of reason. After all, it is certainly strange, that a man, evidently possessing an uncommon portion of humour, whose writings are frequently interspersed with sallies of true wit, and who was in some respects constitutionally cheerful, should become the prey of so morbid and malignant a species of melancholy.-
Sure'tis a curse which angry fates impose,
The following passages present to the reader a description of Mr. Cowper, at once faithful, interesting, and animated.
If ever thou hast felt another's pain,