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everybody, and is, in her turn, pleased with everything she finds here; is always cheerful and good tempered; and knows no pleasure equal to that of communicating pleasure to us, and to all around her. This disposition in her is the more comfortable, because it is not the humour of the day, a sudden flash of benevolence and goodness, occasioned merely by a change of scene, but it is her natural turn, and has governed all her conduct ever since I knew her first. We are consequently happy in her society, and shall be happier still to have you partake with us in our joy. I am fond of the sound of bells, but was never more pleased with those of Olney than when they rang her into her new habitation. She is, as she ever was, my pride and my joy; and I am delighted with everything that means to do her honour. Her first appearance was too much for me; my spirits, instead of being gently raised, broke down with me, under the pressure of too much joy, and left me flat, or rather melancholy, throughout the day, to a degree that was mortifying to myself, and alarming to her. But I have made amends for this torture since; and, in point of cheerfulness, have far exceeded her expectations, for she knew that sable had been my suit for many years. By her help we get change of air and of scene, though still resident at Olney; and by her means, have intercourse with some families in this country, with whom, but for her, we could never have been acquainted. Her presence here would at any time, even in her happiest days, have been a comfort to me; but in the present day I am doubly sensible of its value. She leaves nothing unsaid, nothingundone, that she thinks will be conducive to our wellbeing; and so far as she is concerned, I have nothing to wish, but that I could believe her sent hither in mercy to myself; then I should be thankful."
Lady Hesketh had not long been at Olney before she became dissatisfied with the poet's residence. She thought it a situation altogether unsuitable for a person subject to depression. Cowper himself had often entertained the same opinion respecting it; and both he and Mrs. Unwin had frequently wished for a change, and had, indeed, been looking out for a house more agreeable to their taste. At that time a very commodious cottage, pleasantly situated in the village of Weston Underwood, a mile and a half distant from Olney, belonging to Sir John Throckmorton, was unoccupied. It occurred to Cowper, that this would be a very agreeable summer residence for his cousin; and on his mentioning it to her, she immediately engaged it, not for herself only, but for the future residence of the poet and his amiable companion, with whom she had now made up her mind to become a frequent, if not a constant associate. The following extracts will best describe Cowper's feelings on this occasion:—" I shall now communicate news that will give you pleasure. When you first contemplated the front of our abode, you were shocked. In your eyes it had the appearance of a prison, and you sighed at the thought that your mother lived in it. Your view of it was not only just, but prophetic. It had not only the aspect of a place built for the purposes of incarceration, but has actually served that purpose, through a long, long period, that we have been the prisoners; but a gaol delivery is at hand. The bolts and bars are to be loosed, and we shall escape. A very different mansion, both in point of appearance and accommodation, expects us; and the expense of living in it will not be much greater than we are subjected to in this. It is situated at Weston, one of the prettiest villages in England, and belongs to Mr. Throckmorton, afterwards Sir John Throckmorton. We all three dine with him to-day by invitation, and shall survey it in the afternoon,
Foint out the necessary repairs and finally adjust the treaty, have my cousin's promise that she will never let another year pass without a visit to us, and the house is large enough to take us, and our suite, and her also, with as many of her's as she shall choose to bring. The change will, I hope, prove advantageous, both to your mother and to me, in all respects. Here we have no neighbourhood; there we shall have much agreeable neighbours in the Throckmortons. Here we have a bad air in the winter, impregnated with the fishy-smelling fumes of the marsh miasma; there we shall breathe in an atmosphere untainted. Here we are confined from September to March, and sometimes longer; there we shall be upon the very verge of pleasure grounds, upon which we can always ramble, and shall not wade through almost impassable dirt to get at them. Both your mother's constitution and mine have suffered materially by such close and long confinement; and it is high time, unless we intend to retreat into the grave, that we should seek out a more wholesome residence. So far is well; the rest-is left to Heaven."
To his friend Mr. Newton, he thus writes:—" You have heard of our intended removal. The house that is to receive us is in a state of preparation, and when finished, will be both smarter and more commodious than our present abode. But the circumstance that recommends it chiefly is its situation. Long confinement in the winter, and indeed, for the most part in the autumn too, has hurt us both. A gravel walk, thirty yards long, affords but indifferent scope to the locomotive faculty; yet it is all that we have had to move in for eight months in the year, during thirteen years that I have been a prisoner. Had I been confined in the Tower, the battlements of it would have furnished me with a larger space. You say well, that there was a time when I was happy at Olney; and I am now as happy at Olney, as I expect to be anywhere, without the presence of God. Change of situation is with me no otherwise an object, than as both Mrs. Unwin's health and my own happen to be concerned in it. We are both I believe partly indebted for our respective maladies, to an atmosphere encumbered with raw vapours, issuing from flooded meadows, and we have perhaps fared the worse for sitting so often, and sometimes for several successive months, over a cellar, filled with water. These ills we shall escape in the uplands; and as we may reasonably hope, of course, their consequences. But as for happiness, he that once had communion with his Maker, must be more frantic than ever I was yet, if he can dream of finding it at a distance from him. I no more expect happiness at Weston than here, or than I should expect it in company with felons and outlaws in the hold of a ballast-lighter. Animal spirits, however, have their value, and are especially desirable to him who is condemned to carry a burden which at any rate will tire him, but which without their aid, cannot fail to crush him."
I On the 15th November, 1786, Cowper entered upon his new abode. The following extracts from his letters describe his sensations on the occasion:—',' There are some things that do not exactly shorten the life of man, yet seem to do so, and frequent removals from place to place are of that number. For my own part, at least, I am apt to think, if 1 had been more stationary, I" should seem to myself to have lived longer. My many changes of habitation have divided my time into many short periods; and when I look back upon them they appear only as the stages of a day's journey, the first of which is at no great distance from the last. I lived longer at Olney than anywhere. There indeed I lived till mouldering walls and a tottering house warned me to depart. I have accordingly taken the hint, and two days since arrived, or rather took up my abode, at Weston. You perhaps have never made the experiment, but I can assure you that the confusion that attends a transmigration of this kind is infinite, and has a terrible effect in deranging the intellect. When God speaks to a chaos, it becomes a scene of order and harmony in a moment; but when his creatures have thrown one house into confusion by leaving it, and another by tumbling themselves and their goods into it, not less than many days' labour and contrivance are necessary to give them their proper places. And it belongs to furniture of all kinds, however convenient it may be in its place, to be a nuisance out of it. We find ourselves here in a comfortable house. Such it is in itself; and my cousin, who has spared no expense in dressing it up for us, has made it a genteel one. Such, at least, it will be, when its contents are a little harmonized. She left us on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Mrs. Unwin and I took possession of our new abode. I could not help giving a last look to my old prison, and its precincts; and though I cannot easily account for it, having been miserable there so many years, felt something like a heart-ache, when I took my leave of a scene, that certainly in itself had nothing to engage affection. But I recollected that I had once been happy there, and could not, without tears in my eyes, bid adieu to a place in which God had so often found me. The human mind is a great mystery; mine, at least, appears to be such upon this occasion. I found that I not only had a tenderness for that ruinous abode, because it had once known me happy in the presence of God, but that even the distress I had there suffered, for so long a time, on account of his absence, had endeared it to me as much. I was weary of every object, had long wished for a change, yet could not take leave without a pang at parting. What consequences are to attend our removal, God only knows. I know well that it is not in the power of situation to effect a cure of melancholy like mine. The change, however, has been entirely a providential one; for much as I wished it, I never uttered that wish, except to Mrs. Unwin. When I learned that the house was to be let, and had seen it, I had a strong desire that Lady Hesketh should take it for herself, if she should happen to like the country. That desire, indeed, is not exactly fulfilled, and yet, upon the whole, is exceeded. We are the tenants; but she assures us that we shall often have her for a guest, and here is room enough for us all. You, I hope, my dear friend, and Mrs. Newton, will want no assurances to convince you that you will always be received here with the sincerest welcome, more welcome than you have been you cannot be, but better accommodated you may and will be." 11*
Extracts from his correspondence—Description of the deep seriousness that generally pervaded his mind—His remarks to justify his removal from Olney—Vindicates himself and Mrs. Unwinfrom unjust aspersions—Reasons for undertaking the translation of Homer—His opinion of Pope's—Unremitting attention to his own—Immense pains he bestowed upon it— His readiness to avail himself of the assistance of others— Vexation he experienced from a multiplicity of critics—Just remarks upon criticism—Determination to persevere in his work—Justifies himself for undertaking it—Pleasure he took in relieving the poor—Renewal of his correspondence with General Cowper and the Rev. Dr. Bagot—Consolatory letter to the latter. '-'
The extracts we have already made from Cowper's correspondence prove, unquestionably, that the leading bias of his mind was towards the all-important concerns of religion. As an exhibition, however, of the state of his mind in this respect, at least, up to the close of 1786, the period of his removal to Weston, we think the following extracts cannot fail to be interesting. To Mr. Newton he writes as follows: —" Those who enjoy the means of grace, and know how to use them well, will thrive anywhere; others nowhere. More than a few, who were formerly ornaments of this garden, which you once watered, here flourished, and have seemed to wither, and become, as the apostle James strongly expresses it—twice dead—plucked up by the roots; others transplanted into a soil, apparently less favourable to their growth, either find the exchange an advantage, or at least, are not injured by it. Of myself, who had once both leaves and fruit, but who have now neither, I say nothing, or only this—that when I am overwhelmed with despair, I repine at my barrenness, and think it hard to be thus blighted; but when a glimpse of hope breaks in upon me, I am then contented to be the sapless thing I am, knowing that he who has commanded me to wither, can command me to flourish again when he pleases. My experiences, however, of this