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tameness of the whole of my narra She seemed, and probably felt, in fact, tive; for as far as the eye can roam as comfortable as any prelate of the round Olney, no spot can be found realm dozing in his stately stall. I for romantic adventure, for the dear involuntarily wished that WordsAlight of lovers, or the unpitied mi- worth were by, to appreciate her sery of their prudent parents. Judges, feelings and celebrate her philosophy, placid or the reverse-barristers of At that moment I thought I descried every variety of phiz and curvature Peter Bell riding up, on a humble of wig, “ Aippant, pert, and full of jack-ass. It was in truth a venerable play" -are as unknown in Cowper's man, tall and aged, and I feared, as consecrated haunts, as enchanted he approached, that his feet might castles and chivalrous knights-er- sweep the filthy mud. But another rant.
annoyance was his doom. The 'saHaving quitted the great London gacious and prudent ass deemed that Road at Newport Pagnell, I walked Beelzebub himself lay stretched in from the Swan there, across the fields the way, and forward he would not to Emberton, a distance of about four be driven. Again and again was the miles. The path was secluded and effort made, but the heels below and pleasant, and the elevations to which the cudgel above failed to inspire resoit occasionally conducted, afforded lution into the perverse donkey. The views of immense extent, and of defeated and grieved Peter descended every variety of cultivated scenery. to the ground, and essayed to lead his This to me was a luxury of the Pegasus, but example proved as unhighest order-but in Scotland you availing as precept. The more urknow it not. The well-educated na. gently Peter pulled, the more nearly tives of the North must travel only in came the ass to a sitting posture. the same course with dray-horses and After much toil and shameful destone-waggons. At your peril dare feat, the ass was led away in a difto soil, with your vulgar toes, the ferent course, and then brought back lawns and grassy banks of the squire. to the charge, but along the edge of “ England, with all thy faults, I love the road, and with his eyes protected thee still."
from the sight of the devil incarnate.
Nothing could surpass the cool comFrom Emberton it is but a short
posure and philosophical magnanispace to the first object I encounter, mity with which our friend of the ed, on which Cowper has stamped mud regarded all this agitation and immortality
reverse of fortune. Peter too had his _“ Yonder bridge, share of good temper, for he smiled That with its wearisome, but needful with complacency on passing me, and length,
alluded, without fury, to his own Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the misadventures and my amusement.
moon Sees her unwrinkl'd face reflected bright." I thought the conduct of the jack-ass
supremely pusillanimous and obstiThis bridge is, in fact, the turn nate in itself, and excessively vexapike road over a considerable extent of tious and injurious to all whom he meadow, and is arched, for the pur served; but who can say that he did pose of protection from the Ouse, not congratulate himself on having which in winter extends its domi- saved the body politic of his master nion over all the plain. At this from the remorseless grasp. of a time the poet's river was modest, and swinish radical, by thus turning his restrained its volume within one re- significant nose towards heaven, and spectable arch. I sat on the parapet pressing his “ fundamental feature" at the extreme end, and mused on towards the ground ? These, howthe sweet enthusiast, whose genius ever, are speculations too profound shed its influence on all he touched, for me, so I consign them to the -when I was discomposed by one of consideration of your neighbouring those incidents from which human Lakists. life is never secure. A huge sow The house which Cowper occupied came waddling along, and laid herself in Olney for many years, and in stretched in the mire which plenti- which all his original poems were fally covered the middle of the road. composed, is uninhabited. It is one
of the most respectable houses in the having been occupied by you would town, and looks into a large open have been an additional recommenspace, in which the market is held, dation of it to me.
** The Vicarage where two venerable trees toss their is a smart stone building, well sashed, arms in unmolested dignity, and by much too good for the living, but where the stocks stand in view, for just what I would wish for you. It the preservation of rustic morals. It has a garden, but rather calculated is remarkable, that the same instru- for use than ornament. Between ment of castigation is to be seen in your mansion and ours is interposed front of the house which Cowper oc- nothing but an orchard, into which cupied in Weston. The house in a door, opening out of our garden, Olney is rather inferior to a Scottish affords us the easiest communication Manse. My feelings, however, were imaginable, and will save the roundhigher and 'dearer than poetry could about by the town, and make both inspire, while I traced every room and houses one." They who duly apcorner so exquisitely described by the preciate Cowper will admit the propoet of the heart.' “ Imprimis, as priety of mentioning, that the fronts soon as you have entered the vesti of Cowper's mansion, and of the bule, if you cast a look on either side Vicarage, are reversed, and their of you, you shall see on the right backs directly opposite. The forhand a box of my making. It is the mer fronts the rising sun-the latter box in which have been lodged all is exposed to his evening rays.
The my hares, and in which lodges puss affectionate poet proceeds in his corat present. But he, poor fellow, is respondence with his cousin, Lady worn out with age, and promises to Hesketh:-“Your chamber windows die before you can see him. On the look over the river, . and over the right hand also stands a cup-board, meadows, to a village called Emberthe work of the same author ; it was ton, and command the whole length once a dove-cage, but I transformed of a long bridge, described by a cerit. Opposite to you stands a table tain poet, together with a view which I also made ; but,'a mercin of the road at a distance. Should less servant having scrubbed it un you wish for books at Olney, you til it became paralytic, it serves no must bring them with you, or you purpose now but of ornament; and will wish in vain, for I have none all my clean shoes stand under it. but the works of a certain poet, On the left hand, at the farther end Cowper, of whom perhaps you have of this superb 'vestibule, you will heard, and they are as yet but two find the door of the parlour, into volumes. ** I have at length, my which I will conduct you, and where cousin, found my way into my sumI will introduce you to Mrs Unwin, mer abode. I am writing in a bandunless we should meet her before, box, situated, at least in my account, and where we will be as happy as delightfully, because it has a window the day is long. Order yourself, my on one side, that opens into that orcousin, to the Swan, at Newport, chard, through which, as I am sitting and there you shall find me ready to here, I shall see you often pass, and conduct you to Olney. My dear, I which, therefore, I already prefer will not let you come till the end of to all the orchards in the world. I May, or beginning of June, because, long to shew you my workshop, and before that time, my green-house will to see you sitting on the opposite side not be ready to receive us, and it is of my table. We shall be as close the only pleasant scene belonging to packed as two wax figures in an oldus. When the plants go out, we go fashioned picture frame. I am writin. I line it with mats, and spread ing in it now. It is the place in the floor with mats; and there you which I fabricate all my verse in shall sit, with a bed of mignonette summer time.” at your side, and a hedge of honey The summer-house is still entire. suckles, roses, and jasmine; and I There I sat viewing the orchard, and will make you a bouquet of myrtle conjuring up to my fancy the placid, every day. Our design was, that sensitive, divine enthusiast, in the you should have slept in the room full exercise of his means of happithat serves me for a study, and its
« There is a pleasure in poetic pains, sympathy of the sex, the softened Which only poets know. The shifts, and tone of his voice, said, “ This, Sir, turns,
is Samuel Roberts, who was Mr CowThe expedients and inventions multiform per's servant.” I cannot refrain from To which the mind resorts, in chase of making another extract from one of
terms, Though apt, yet coy, and difficult to win- in which the name of his servant oc
Cowper's letters to Lady Hesketh, To arrest the fleeting images, that fill The mirror of the mind, and hold them
surs, though the interest of the pasfast,
sage is of a different character. And force them sit, till he has pencil'd off
“ The Lodge, Nov. 27, 1787.-On A faithful likeness of the forms he views; Monday morning last, Sam brought Then to dispose his copies with such art,
me word that there was a man in the That each may find its most propitious kitchen who desired to speak with light,
I ordered him in. A plain, And shine, by situation, hardly less decent, elderly figure, made its apThan by the labour and the skill it cost ; pearance, and being desired to sit, Are occupations of the poet's mind spoke as follows: Sir, I am clerk So pleasing, and that steal away the of the parish of All Saints, in Norththought,
ampton ; brother of Mr C. the upWith such address, from themes of sad holsterer. It is customary for the import,
person in my office to annex to a bill That, lost in his own musings, happy man! of mortality, which he publishes at He feels the anxieties of life-denied
Christmas, a copy of verses. You Their wonted entertainment, all retire.”
will do me a great favour, Sir, if you From a tree planted by his hands would furnish me with one.' To I plucked threc apples; one I would this I replied, 'Mr C. you have sefain bestow on the visitor of Ellisland, veral men of genius in your town, and one on his “congenial spirit” why have you not applied to some of Mr J. M‘Diarmid, author of the them? There is a namesake of your's “Life of Cowper.” In the midst of in particular, C, the statuary, his desolate parlour I stood, and who, every body knows, is a firsthcard him say:
rate maker of verses. He surely is
the man of all the world for your “Now stir the fire, and close the shutters
purpose.'-'Alas! Sir, I have herefast,
tofore borrowed help from him, but Let fall the curtains, wheel the sota round.”
he is a gentleman of so much read,
ing, that the people of our town canBut I refrain, for the associations are not understand him.' I confess to endless and indescribable. I pro- you, my dear, I felt all the force seeded towards Weston by the pub- of the compliment implied in this lic road, which gently rises in a north- speech, and was almost ready to anwest direction till it passes Sir George swer, Perhaps, my good friend, Throckmorton's. I met a tall, gen- they may find me unintelligible too teel, and elderly man with his wife, a for the same reason. But on asking respectable and most animated-look- him whether he had walked over to ing lady, each carrying a lantern, with Weston on purpose to implore the provident anticipation of the dark assistance of my muse, and on his hour when they might return from replying in the affirmative, I felt my Olney. I made inquiry respecting the mortified vanity a little consoled; and probability of access to the Park, the pitying the poor man's distress, which wilderness, and the Lodge, (the title appeared to be considerable, promised always given to the poet's house in to supply him. A fig for poets who Weston.) The man answered all write epitaphs upon individuals. I my inquiries in the frankest and have written one, that serves two most satisfactory manner; and in al hundred persons !” As I approached luding to the memory of Cowper, he the Park, a heavy shower of rain betrayed, in his mild and expressive obliged me to look for shelter, and I countenance, a mixture of reverence made my way, I believe, illegally, into and affection beyond any thing I ever a close covert on my right, and in the beheld. The lady at that moment, nearest corner of the Park. To my probably feeling, with the electric surprise and delight, I found myself in
“ The walk, still verdant, under oaks and some inquiries. It was the simplest elms,
holiest fool that poet's fancy ever Whose outspread branches overarch the pictured; his head was bare, his beard glade."
overflowing, and his look as blank as It was the same sacred walk which the purest clay; and he walked as Cowper alone had access to, and one who alternately flung a leg along. which seems now appropriated ex He directed his look gently towards clusively to his shade. There it was me, simpered in the most unmean“ the redbreast fitted light from ing way imaginable, and in a manner spray to spray;" there " the timor- which no acting ever represented, ous hare, grown so familiar with her said, “ How d'ye do, Sir ? frequent guest, scarce shunned him;" Cowper's poetry was my earliest and there " the squirrel whisked his and highest delight; as my knowbrush,
ledge was extended, my taste im“ And perk'd his ears, and stamp'd and proved, and my judgment ripened, cried aloud,
my admiration and delight were inWith all the prettiness of feign'd alarm, creased ; and while the feelings of And anger insignificantly fierce." my heart retain their natural tone, He who could feel unmoved in this and the principles of my understand: more than holy aisle, might walk ing remain undisturbed, I must conover the plain of Marathon with as
ținue to love him more than any molittle emotion as dyer Waterloo- dern poet. Elegance in English bridge. Thence I visited the pea- poetry is exclusively his own. In sant's nest," walked along the length that most distinguishing characterisof colonnade,” descended
tic of a poet, he has no equal, and “A sudden steep upon a rustic bridge,"
no second in our language. “ To
build the lofty rhyme," /condere vergained the summit, and posted my sus,) is but to select and put toself in “ the proud alcove.". After gether words of peculiar aptness for revelling in the felicitous fidelity of their situation. the poet's description, I proceeded to
Quà pinus ingens albaque populus " the declivity sharp and short."
Umbram hospitalem consociare amant The “ little Naiad” wept her impoverished urn in a fresh stream sup
Ramis, qua et obliquo laborat
Lympha fugax trepidare rivo. plied by the late showers. “The liberal lord of thc enclosed demesne" Every cultivated mind vibrates to this admitted me too to share in the plea- tions pines and poplars, and shades
description. Why? Because it mensures and recollections of the long and purling rivulets? Nothing of and stately avenue, derness" with its Gothic temple, the kind. Such descriptions are as Homer's bust, and a thousand ele- insipid, as the enumeration of dishes gantly appropriate memorials of Cow
on an alderman's table to him who is per. The Lodge is superior to the words chosen, and their magical ar.
not a guest. But it is the magical house in Olney ; one-half is occupied by a Roman Catholic priest, the dare these three words have more
rangement ;-laborat-fugat-trepi. other by a farmer. It is known to
the admirers of Cowper, that the influence than all the puling and highly-respectable fainily of the whining, and sentimental interjectThrockmortons are Roman Catholic, ing, which drivelling Lakists can and that the present lady is the heap upon paper, unhappily conCatharina who sung the numbers of demned to many base uses. If HoCowper, and of whom he sung:
race be unrivalled in this curiosa fe
licitus, Cowper irresistibly challenges “ The longer I heard, I esteem'd The work of my fancy the more,
the next place. And ev'n to myself never seem'd
“And poplar, that with silver lines his leaf, So tuneful a poet before.”
And ash far-stretching his umbrageous When crossing the common which The Ouse, dividing the well-watered land, was once the haunt of her “ whom
Now glitter in the sun, and now retires better days saw better clad," I went
As bashful, yet impatient to be seen.up to one who drove the Baronet's Strange, that such folly, as lifts bloated cows to the fold, in order to make
To eminence fit only for a god,
say nothing, his descriptions and il. Should ever drivel out of human lips,
lustrations of its excellence, operaEven in the cradled weakness of the tion, and final rewards, are not thereworld !
fore the less interesting. The influBut is it fit, or can it bear the shock ence of that system on human feelOf rational discussion, that a man, ings and passions is a reality of the Compounded and made up like other men deepest interest even to those who Of clements tumultuous, in whom lust
feel it not, and deny its reasonableAnd folly in as ample measure meet,
ness, and therefore forms a subject As in the bosoms of the slaves he rules,
fit for the highest efforts of poetry. Should be a despot absolute, and boast
In this department Cowper stands Himself the only freeman of his land ?"
alone. In his minor poems, which In the above lines there is a spirit are entirely religious, there are pasmore lyrical than even Apollo's, but sages of the most splendid poetry. the incomparable felicity of terms Let the sceptic turn to the passage, and expressions must penetrate even in the poem entitled “ Truth,” bethe obtusest word-monger. Cowper's ginningHomer is a monument of the power
“ See where it smokes along the sounding of a master over the English lan
plain, guage, which might be called mira
Blown all aslant, a driving, dashing rain, culous, if human powers had not
Peal upon peal redoubling all around, presented it to our scrutiny. That Shakes it again and faster to the ground." this should not be universally conferred, is not unaccountable, for Ho. In “ Charity” is to be found the submer is not universally intelligible. limest adoration of liberty which an Cowper himself, who, like Horace, ancient Roman could have uttered: is equally felicitous as a critic and as « Oh, could I worship aught beneath the a poet, says: “I am well aware skies, that many, especially many ladies, That earth hath seen, or fancy can devise, missing many turns and prettinesses Thine altar, sacred Liberty, should stand of expression, that they have admir Built by no mercenary vulgar hand; ed in Pope, will account my transla
With fragrant turf, and flowers as wild
and fair tion in those particulars defective.
As ever dress'd a bank, or scented sum. But I comfort myself with the
mer air. thought, that, in reality, it is no de
Duly, as ever," &c. fect; on the contrary, that the want of all such embellishments as do not In the 5th Book of “the Task,” the belong to the original, will be one of praises of liberty would do honour to , its principal merits, with persons in- the noblest mind that ever felt the indeed capable of relishing Homer," spiration of poetry and of patriotism;
But Cowper is altogether unequal. and the picture of religious converled, and utterly inimitable in the sion which follows them is not surart of placing us constantly in his passed by any picture of the human own, often endearing, ever interest- mind to be found even in Shakeing presence. Quinctilian prescribes speare. Let not religious controversy that an orator should be a good man. blind us to the independent achieveThe power of such a qualification ments of poetical genius. But I can was never so forcibly illustrated as trust myself with no more extracts. by Cowper. His errors—his fearful Has it come under your observareligious apprehensions—his bigotry, tion, Mr Editor, that Lord Byron terrible only to himself-his distorted has lately informed the public that notions of God and of human desti “Cowper is no poet,” and asked ny-all deepen our interest in his them what human being has ever behalf. If an innocent, amiable, an read his translation of Homer?” gelic lady, utter harsh judgments of This naughty boy--this spoiled child, others, and invoke curses on herself, first of his parents, and then of the under the delirium of a fever, raging public-in early youth published in her brain, do her friends, there something in the form of poetry, fore, feel less affection for her? If which some of you Northern pedaCowper's system of religion be utter gogucs censured with becoming scly false, and of this I am anxious to verity. The pampered truant kicked,