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Friendship and love seem'd tenderly at strife,
Which most should sweeten his untroubled life;
Politely learn'd, and of a gentle race,
Good-breeding and good sense gave all a grace,
And, whether at the toilette of ihe fair
He laugh'd and trifled, made him welcome there,
Or, if in masculine delate he shar'd,
Ensur'd him mute attention and regard.
Alas, how chang'd!—Expressive of his mind,
His eyes are sunk, arms folded, head reclin'd;
Those awful syllables, hell, deatı, and sin,
Though whisper’d, plainly tell what works within;
That conscience there performs her proper part,
And writes a doomsday sentence on his heart!
Forsaking, and forsaken of all friends,
He now perceives where earthly pleasure ends ;
Kard task, for one wi.n lutily knew no care,
And harder still, as leurnt beneath despair !
His hours no longer pass unmark'd away,
A dark importance saddens every day;
He hears the notice of the clock, perplex'd,
And cries—perhaps eternity strikes next!
Sweet music is no longer music here,
And laughter sounds like madness in his ear:
His grief the world of all her pow'r disarms;
Wine has no taste, and beauty has no charms:
God's holy word, once trivial in liis view,
Now by the voice of his experience true,
Seems, as it is, the founiain whence alone
Must spring that hope he pants to make his own.
Hore-V.1, pp. 136 to 8.
I uus a striken deer, that left the herd
Long since; with many an arrow deep infirt,
Niy ponting side was charg'd, when I withdrew
To seek a tranquil death in distant sharles.
There was I found ly one, who had himself
Been hurt ly th' archers. In his side he vore,
And in his hands and feet, the cruel scars.
With gentle force soliciting the darts,
He drew them forth, and heald and bade me live.
Since then, with few associates, in remote
And sil. nt woods I vander, far from those
My former partners of the peopled scene;
With few associates, and not wishing more.
Here much I ruminate, as much I may,
With other views of men and manners now
Than once, and others of a life to come.
-Slighted as it is, and by the great
Abandon'd, and, which still I more regret,
Infected with the manners and the modes
It knew not once, the country wins me still.
I never fram'd a wish, or form’d a plan,
That flatter'd me with hopes of earthly bliss,
But there I laid the scene. There early stray'd
My fancy, ere yet lil'erty of choice
Had found me, or the hope of being free.
My very dreams were rural; rural, too,
The first-vorn efforts of my youthfuil muse,
Sportive, and jingling her poetic bells
Ere yet her ear was mistress of her pow'rs.
No bard could please me but whose lyre was tun'd
To Nature's praises. Heroes and their feats
Fatigued me, never weary of the pipe
Of Tityrus, assemiling, as he sang,
The rustic t!rong leneath his fav’rite veech.
Hail, therefore, patroness of health, and ease,
And contemplation, heart consoling joys
And harmless pleasures, in the throng'd abode
Of multitudes unknown; hail, rural life!
Address himself who will to the pursuit
Of honours, or emoluments, or same;
I shall not add myself to such a chace,
Thwart his attempts, or envy his success.
Some must be great. Great offices will have
Great talents. And God gies to ev'ry man
The virtve, temper, understanding, laste,
That lifts him into life; and lets him full
Just in the niche he was orduin'd to fill.
To the deliv’rer of an injur'd land
He gives u longue ť enlarge upon, on heart
To feel, and courage to redress her wrongs;
To monarchs dignity; to judges sense;
To artists ingenuity and skill;
To me an unumlitious mind, content
In the low vale of life, that early felt
A wish for ease und leisure, andez e long
Found here that leisure, and that ease I wish'd.
The Task-V.2, pp.75,6: 138, 4.
Such is the portrait which the poet has delineated of him. self: it is the production of a master, who had neither the wish nor the intention of presenting to the world a false resemblance; it is, therefore, susceptible of few additions, and, perhaps, cannot be improved. If, however, we allow the truth of the observation,—that only those who have been the subjects of Love, are capable of describing its sensations, with sensibility and justice; Cowper, so far from having lived indifferent to that passion, has, in the following passage, given ample occasion for us to imagine that he was himself the victim of a deep and hopeless attachment:
The lover too shuns business and alarms,
Tender idolater of absent charms.
Saints offer nothing in their warmest pray’rs,
That he devotes not with a zeal like their's;
'Tis consecration of his heart, soul, time,
And ev'ry thought that wanders, is a crime.
In sighs he worships his supremely fair,
And weeps a sad litation in despair,
Adores a creature, and, devout in vain,
Wins in return an anslier of disdain.
RETIREMENT V.1, pp. 210, 11.
I Shall close these remarks, on the Life of Mr. Cowper, with the following modest and characteristic epitome, drawn by himself, in a letter to a literary friend, dated March the 10th 1792.--" You are in danger, I perceive,” says Mr. Cowper, “ of thinking of me more highly than you ought to think. Iam not one of the Literati, among whom you seem disposed to place me, -far from it. I told you how heinously I am unprovided with the means of being so, having long since sent all my books to market. My learning accordingly lies in a very narrow compass. It is school-boy learning somewhat improved, and very little more. From the age of 20 to 33, I was occupied, or ought to have been, in the study of the law. From 33 to 60 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 in my hand, I was sometimes a carpenter, at others, a bird-cage maker, or a gardener, or a drawer of landscapes. At 50 years of age I commenced an author. It is a whim that has served me longest and best, and which will probably be my last. Thus you see I have had very little opportunity to become what is properly called Learned. In truth, having given myself so entirely of late to poetry, I am not sorry for this deficiency; since grcat
tearning, I have been sometimes inclined to suspect, is rather a hindrance to the Fancy than a furtherance.”
The Writings of Cowper are not, indeed, voluminous; but they are such as have secured to their author no mean rank among the standard poets of his country,ếan elevation not at this day attainable, without sound and prominent excellence.
Some persons have affirmed the rhyme of Cowper to be deficient in melody, and frequently prosaic. There are, it is owned, many incidental defects in the works of this author; but there is a wide distinction between that which is common and adventitious, and that which we consider as radical or constituent. Cowper is certainly negligent, to a degree highly censurable; and he is sometimes betrayed into a species of flatness destructive of the general interest of the piece. He has lines such as
Like a prord swan cony'ring the stream ly forcemen
Faults in the life lirecd crrors in the ltuin;
And these reciprocally those again-
Hark! universal nature shook and ground-
and others, perhaps still more unpardonable; but these, which may be called vices common to genius, and from which no human composition is exempt, are richly compensated by