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By' a tender anxiety for the recovery of Mrs. Unwin, who was seized with a paralytic attack during Mr. Hayley's visit at Weston, and by the similarity of their tastes and pursuits, he became so endeared to our Poet, that the latter undertook, in August 1792, the formidable journey of a visit to Mr. H.'s beauciful residence at Eartham in Sussex. Several letters are addressed to his friends from this place; and we extract the following, which gives an account of his journey, and of the scenery of Eartham ::
To the Revd. Mr. Greatheed. "My dear Sir,
Eartham, August 6, 1792. • Having first thanked you for your affectionate and acceptable letter, I will proceed, as well as I can, to answer your equally affeca tionate request, that I would send you early news of our arrival at Eartham. Here we are, in the most elegant mansion that I have ever inhabiced, and surrounded by the most delightful pleasure-grounds that I have ever seen ; but which, dissipated as my powers of thought are at present, I will not undertake to describe. It shall suffice me to say, that they occupy three sides of a hill, which, in Buckinghamshire, might well pass for a mountain, and from the summit of which is beheld a most magnificent landscape, bounded by the sea, and in one part of it by the Isle of Wight, which may also be seen plainly from the window of the library, in which I am writing.
It pleased God to carry us both through the journey with far less difficulty and inconvenience than I expected. I began it indeed with a thousand fears, and when we arrived the first evening at Barnet, found myself oppressed in spirit to a degree that could hardly be exceeded. I saw Mrs. Unwin weary, as she might well be, and heard such a variety of noises, both within the house and without, that I concluded she would get no rest. But I was mercifully disappointed. , She rested, though not well, yet sufficiently; and when we finished our next day's journey at Ripley, we were both in better condition, both of body and mind, than on the day preceding. At Ripley we found a quiet inn, that housed, as it happened, that night no company but ourselves. There we slept well, and rose perfectly refreshed. And except some terrors, that I felt at passing over the Sussex hils by moon-light, met with little to complain of, till we arrived about ten o'clock at Eartham. Here we are as happy, as it is in the power of terrestrial good to make us. It is almost a paradise in which we dwell : and our reception has been the kindest, that it was possible for friendship and hospitality to contrive. Our host mentions you with great respect, and bids me tell you that he esteems you highly. Mrs. Unwin, who is, I think, in some points, already the better for her excursion, unites with mine her best compliments both to yourself and Mrs. Greatheed. I have much to see and enjoy before I can be perfectly apprized of all the delights of Eartham, and will therefore now subscribe myself yours, my dear sir, with great sincerity,
Rev. JULY, 1803.
The return of Cowper to Weston, his declining health and sufferings, the grant of a pension of 300l. a year from His Majesty, on the application of Earl Spencer (at the kind solicitation of Mr. Hayley), the tender assiduities of Lady Hesketh, and the removal of the invalid from Weston to different places in Norfolk, under the care of his kinsman Mr. Johnson, are all duly recorded by his biographer; and these details are interspersed with such materials as tend to give an interest to the narrative. The last poem, which Cowper is known to have composed at Weston, consists of the stanzas to Mary (Mrs. Unwin); which are so exquisitely tender and pathetic, that we should accuse ourselves of insensibility, were we not to transcribe them:
TO MAR Y.
Since first our sky was overcast,
I see thee daily weaker grow: :. 'Twas my distress that brought thee low,
For my sake restless heretofore ;
My Mary! 'i' For though thou gladly wouldst fulfil
The same kind office for me still,
And all thy threads with magic art,
. 'o Paro
• Partakers of thy sad decline,
Thy hands their little force resign;
In wint’ry age to feel no chill,
· My Mary!
My Mary!' At Dereham, in Norfolk, this faithful friend and companion of the Poet finished her mortal course, December 17, 1796, and was interred in the church of that town. From the painful task of tracing the lengthening shadows of Mr. Cowper's now rapidly declining life, we shall abstain. Suffice it to add that he finished the revisal of his Homer in March 1799, took his leave of the Muse in an affecting poem-called “ The Castaway,” died on the 25th of April 1800, and was buried in that part of Dereham church which is called St. Edmond's chapel.
In delineating the character and genius of this gifted poet and amiable man, his biographer employs the richest poetic colouring. His friendship, as we have already hinted, exceeds ordinary bounds; and his zeal, not contented with describing Cowper as he was, ventures to account physically and philosophie cally for his morbid melancholy:
· Nature had given him a warm constitution, and had he been prosperous in early love, it is probable that he might have enjoyed a more uniform and happy tenor of health. But a disappointment of the heart, arising from the cruelty of fortune, threw a cloud on his juvenile spirit. Thwarted in love, the native fire of his temperament turned impetuously into the kindred channel of devotion. The smothered fames of desire uniting with the vapours of constitutional melancholy, and the fervency of religious zeal, produced altogether that irregularity of corporeal sensation, and of mental health, which gave such extraordinary vicissitudes of splendor and of darkness to his mortal career, and made Cowper at times an idol of the purest admiration, and at times an object of the sincerest pity.'
We are also told that .s the process of digestion never passed regularly in his frame during the years that he resided in Norfolk.'
The merit of Cowper as a writer of letters is not exaggerated by Mr. Hayley:
• Those of Pope are generally thought deficient in that air of perfect case, that unstudied Aow of affection, which gives the highest charm to epistolary writing : but those unaffected graces, which the delicate critic wished in vain to find in the letters of Pope, may be found abundant, and complete, in the various correspondence of Cowper. He was indeed a being of such genuine simplicity, and tenderness, so absolute a stranger to artifice and disguise : his affections were so ardent, and so pure, that in writing to those he loved, he could not fail to shew, what really passed in his own bosom, and his letters are most faithful representatives of his heart.' .
His distinguishing talent obtains from his biographer the several tities of the poet of family life,' the poet of Christianity,' and the monitor of the world.'--He was of a mild and amiable temper; and yet he is said to have been particularly charmed with the energy of the language of the prophets in describing the wrath of the Almighty.'- In Politics, he was a firm Old Whig.-" The Task” is represented as a bird's-eye view of human life, and is pronounced to be the most actractive poem that was ever produced.' This is an eulogy of no mean dimension : but, as if apprehensive that the conscioas spirit of Cowper was not yet satisfied, Mr. Hayley adds; .• Perhaps of all Poets, ancient and modern, Homer, and Cowper, in his original composition, exhibit the charm of dexterous facility of execution in the highest degree. They both have the gift of speaking in verse, as if poetry were their native tongue. '. The poetical powers of the latter were indeed a gift, and his use of them was worthy of the veneration, which he felt towards the Giver of every good. He has accomplished, as a Poet, the sublimest object of poetical ambition--He has dissipated the general prejudice, that held it hardly possible for a modern author to succeed in sacred poetry-He has proved, that verse and devotion are natural allies— He has shewn, that true poetical genius cannot be more honourably, or more delightfully employed, than in diffusing through the heart and mind of man a filial affection for his Maker, with a firm and cheerful trust in his Word-He has sung, in a strain equal to the subject, the blessed Advent of universal peace; and perhaps the temperate enthusiasm of friendship may not appear too presumptuous in supposing, that his Poetry will have no inconsiderable influence in preparing the World for a consummation só devoutly to be wisted.'
Without detracting from the great merit of Cowper, we may · venture to pronounce that this is not 'temperate enthusiasm ;'
and even if Mr. Hayley had written the life in verse, we could not have tolerated so bold a figure. Cowper says, in one of his letters, that he was ever on his guard against the perils of praise; and we lament that this hint was not taken by his biographer. We very readily admit, however, that these instances of exuberant diction are only partial blemishes in a work which, on the whole, is well written and attentively compiled ; and the perusal of which is calculated to afford much gratification, while it excites some of the best feelings of the human mind.
An appendix contains a few original poems, translations from Greek epigrams, &c.~from Horace and Virgil. --from the Latin poems of Bourne and the epigrams of Owen, Cowper's Latin poem intitled Montes Glaciales, with the translation,- verses to the memory of Dr. Lloyd,-Latin translations from Gay's Fables, and three papers in the Connoisseur fur. nished by Cowper.
The first volume is illustrated by a portrait of the Poet from a drawing by Romney; and the second by another from a sketch by Lawrence. In conclusion, it is proposed to publish by subscription a superb edition of Milton, in three volumes quarto, decorated with engravings, the profits of which are to be ape plied to the purpose of raising a monument in the metropolis to Cowper's memory.
Art. II. Annals of the French Revolution; or, a Chronological
Account of its principal Events ; with a Variety of Anecdotes and Characters hitherto unpublished. By A. F. Bertrand de Mols. ville, Minister of State. Translated by R. C. Dallas, Esq. from the original Manuscript of the Author, which has never been pub. lished. Part second and last, or Vols. V.-IX. * 8vo. 21. in Boards. Cadell and Davies. 1802.
. The high sense of honour, the firm loyalty, and the liberal
views, which are displayed in the writings of this author, are already known to our readers; and we need scarcely put them on their guard against the bias which his prejudices and attachments have given to his mind, because he has avowed it, glories in it, and would probably deem it criminal to divest himself of it. He is not simply an annalist, but also the apologist and advocate of the ancien régime of Louis XVI., of his advisers and their measures ; while he is the impugner of the popular parties and leaders, at whose door he lays all the cala
* For the first four volumes, see M. R. Vol. xxxiii. N. S. p. 166. . . R 3 :