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latter kind, are rare and transient. The light that reaches me carmot be compared either to that of the sun, or of the moon; it is a flash in a dark night, during which the heavens seem opened only to shut again. I should be happy (and when I say this, I mean to he, understood in the fullest and most emphatical sense of the word) if my frame of mind were such as to permit me to study the important truths of religion. But Adam's approach to the tree of life, after he had sinned, was not more effectually prohibited by the flaming sword that turned every way, than mine to its great Antitype has been now almost these thirteen years, a short interval of three or four days, which passed about this time twelvemonth, alone excepted. For what reason I am thus long excluded, if I am ever again to be admitted, is known to God only. I can say but this, that if he is still my father, his paternal severity has, toward me, been such as to give me reason to account it unexampled. For though others have suffered desertion, yet few, I believe, for so long a time, and perhaps none a desertion accompanied with such experience. But they have this belonging to them: that as they are not fit for recital, being made up merely of infernal ingredients, so neither are they susceptible of it, for I know no language in which they could be expressed. They are as truly things which it is not possible for man to utter, as those were which Paul heard and saw in the third heaven. If the ladder of Christian experience reaches, as I suppose it does, to the very presence of God, it has nevertheless its foot in the abyss. And if Paul stood, as no doubt he did, on the topmost stave of it, I have been standing, and still stand, on the lowest, in this- thirteenth year that has passed since I descended. In such a situation of mind, encompassed by the midnight of absolute despair, and a thousand times filled with unspeakable horror, I first commenced an author. Distress drove me to it; and the impossibility of existing without some employment, still recommends it. I am not, indeed, so perfectly hopeless as I was, but I am equally in need of an occupation, being often as much, and sometimes even more, worried than ever. I cannot amuse myself as I once could with carpenters', or with gardeners' tools, or with squirrels and guinea-pigs. At that time I was a child; but since it has pleased God, whatever else he withholds from me, to restore to me a man's mind, I have put away childish things. Thus far, therefore, it is plain that I have not chosen, or prescribed to myself, my own way, but have been providentially led to it; perhaps I might say, with equal propriety, compelled and scourged into it: for certainly could I have made my choice, or were I permitted to make it even now, those hours which I spend in poetry I would spend with God. But it is evidently his will that I should spend them as I do, because every other Way of employing them he himself continues to make impossible. The dealings of God with me are to myself utterly unintelligible. I have never met, either in books, or in conversation, with an experience at all similar to my own. More than twelve months have now passed since I began to hope, that having.walked the whole breadth of the bottom of this Red Sea, I was beginning to climb the opposite shore, and I prepared to sing the song of Moses. But I have been disappointed; those hopes have been blasted ; those comforts have been wrested from me. I could not be so duped even by the archrenemy himself as to be made to question the divine nature of them, but I have been made to believe (which you will say is being duped still more) that God gave them to me in derision, and took them away in vengeance. Such, however, is, and has been my persuasion many a long day; and when I shall think on this subject more comfortably, or as you will be inclined to tell me, more rationally and scripturally, I know not. In the meantime I embrace, with alacrity, every alleviation of my case, and with the more alacrity, because, whatever proves a relief of my distress is a cordial to Mrs. Unwin, whose sympathy with me, through the whole of it, has been such, that despair excepted, her burthen has been as heavy as mine."
Some of his friends, and Mr. Newton among the rest, on being apprized of his intended removal from Olney, expressed apprehensions that it would introduce him to company, uncongenial to his taste, if not detrimental to his piety. Adverting to these objections, he thus writes to his esteemed correspondent: "If in the course of such an occupation as I have been driven to by despair, or by the inevitable consequence of it, either my former connections are revived, or new ones occurs these things are as much a part of the dispensation of Providence as the leading points themselves. If his purposes in thus directing me are gracious, he will take care to prove them such in the issue; and, in the meantime, will preserve me (for he is able to do that, in one condition of life as well as in another) from all mistakes that might prove pernicious to myself, or give reasonable offence to others. I can say it, as truly as it was ever spoken, Here I am; let him do with me as seemeth to him good. At present, however, I have no connections, at which either you, I trust, or any who love me, and wish me well, have occasion to conceive alarm. Much kindness indeed I have experienced at the hands of several, some of them near relations, others not related to me at all, but I do not know that there is among them a single person from whom I am likely to catch contamination. I can say of them all, with more truth than Jacob uttered, when he called kid venison, 'The Lord thy God brought them unto me.' I could show you among them two men, whose lives, though they have but little of what we call evangelical light, are ornaments to a Christian country, men who fear God more than some who profess to love him. But I will not particularize further on such a subject. Be they what they may, our situations are so distant, and we are likely to meet so seldom, that were they, as they are not, persons even of exceptionable manners, their manners would have little to do with me. We correspond, at present, only on the subject of what passed at Troy three thousand years ago; and they are matters that, if they can do no good, will at least hurt nobody."
"Your letter to Mrs. Unwin concerning our conduct, and the offence taken at it in our neighbourhood, gave us both a great deal of concern, and she is still deeply affected by it. Of this you may assure yourself, that if our friends in London have been grieved, it is because they have been misinformed, which is the more probable, because the bearers of intelligence hence to London are not always very scrupulous concerning the truth of their reports ; and that if any of our serious neighbours have been astonished, they have been so without the slightest occasion. Poor people are never well employed even when they judge one another; but when they undertake to scan the motives, and estimate the behaviour of those whom Providence has raised a little above them, they are utterly out, of their province and their depth. They often see us get into Lady Hesketh's carriage, and rather uncharitably suppose that it always carries us into a scene of dissipation, which, in fact, it never does. We visit, indeed, at Mr. Throckmorton's, and at Gayhurst, rarely, however, at the latter, on account of the greater distance; frequently, though not very frequently, at Weston, both because it is nearer, and because our business in the house, that is making ready for our reception, often calls us that way. What good we can get or can do in these visits, is another question, which they, I am sure, are not qualified to solve. Of this we are both sine, that under the guidance of Providence we have formed these connections, that we should have hurt tha Christian cause rather than have served it, by a prudish abstinence from them; and that St. Paul himself, conducted to them as we have been, would have found it expedient to have done as we have done. It is always impossible to conjecture to much purpose, from the beginnings of a providential event, how it will terminate. If we have neither received nor communicated any spiritual good at present, while conversant with our new acquaintance, at least no harm has befallen on either side; and it were too hazardous an assertion, even for our censorious neighbours to make, that the cause of the gospel can never be served in any of our future interviews with them, because it does not appear to have been served at present. In the mean time, I speak a strict truth as in the sight of God, when I say that we are neither of us at all more addicted to gadding than heretofore. We both naturally love seclusion from company, and never go into it without putting a force upon our own dispositions; tit the same time I will confess, and you will easily conceive, that the melancholy incident to such close confinement as we have so long endured, finds itself a little relieved by such amusements as a society so innocent affords. You may look round the Christian world, and find few, I believe, of our station, who have so little intercourse as we with the world, that is not Christian. We place all the uneasiness that you have felt for us on the subject, to the account of that cordial friendship of which you have long given us a proof. But you may be assured, that notwithstanding all the rumours to the contrary, we are exactly what we were when you saw us last:—I, miserable on account of God's departure from me, which I believe to be final; and she seeking his return to me in the path of duty, and by continual praver."
After the publication of Cowper's second volume of poems, and indeed, for some considerable time before its actual appearance, he was diligently engaged in producing a new translation of Homer's unrivalled poems. His reasons for undertaking a work of so great magnitude, and that required such immense labour: and the spirited manner with which he brought it to a close, shall be related as nearly as possible in his own words. Writing to Mr. Newton, he thus describes the commencement of this great undertaking: "I am employed in writing a narrative, but not so useful as that you have just published. Employment, however, with the pen, is through habit become essential to my well-being; and to produce always original poems, especially of considerable length, is not so easy. For some weeks after I had finished the Task, and sent away the last sheet corrected, I was through necessity idle, and suffered not a little in my spirits for being so. One day, being in such distress of mind as was hardly supportable, I took up the Iliad; and merely to direct attention, and with no more preconception of what I was then entering upon, than I have at this moment of what I shall be doing this day twenty years hence, translated the first twelve lines of it. The same necessity pressed me again, I had recourse to the same expedient, and translated more. Every day bringing its occasion for employment with it, every day consequently added something to the work; till at last I began to reflect thus:—The Iliad and the Odyssey together consists of about forty thousand verses. To translate these forty thousand verses will furnish me with occupation for a considerable time. I have already made some progress, and find it a most agreeable amusement. Homer, in point of purity, is a most blameless writer, and though he was not an enlightened man, has interspersed many great and valuable truths throughout both his poems. In short, he is in all respects a most venerable old gentleman, by an acquaintance with whom no man can disgrace himself; the literati are all agreed to a man, that although Pope has given us two pretty poems, under Homer's title, there is not to be found in them the least portion of Homer's spirit, nor the least resemblance of his manner. I will try, therefore, whether I cannot copy him more happily myself. I have at least the advantage of Pope's faults and failings, which like so many beacons upon a dangerous coast, will serve me to steer by, and will make my chance for success more probable. These, and many other considerations, but especially a mind that abhorred a vacuum as its chief bane, impelled me so effectually to the work, that ere long, I mean to publish proposals for a subscription of it, having advanced so far as to be warranted in doing so."
In another letter to the same correspondent, the following just and critical remarks on Pope's translation occur: "Your sentiments of Pope's Homer agree perfectly with those of every competent judge with whom I have at any time conversed about it. I never saw a copy so unlike the original. There is not, I believe, in all the world to be found, an uninspired poem so simple as are both of those of Homer; nor in all the world a poem more bedizened with ornaments than Pope's translation of them. Accordingly, the sublime of Homer in the.hands of Pope, becomes bloated and tumid, and his description tawdry. Neither had Pope the faintest con-> ception of those exquisite discriminations of character for