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they appeared to me unjust, and in part ill-natured ; and, the man himself being an oracle in alnvost everybody's account, I apprehended that he had done me much mischief. Why he says that the translation is far from exact is best known to himself. For I know it to be as exact as is compatible with poetry; and prose translations of Homer are not wanted. The world has one already. I am greatly pleased with the amendments of a friend, to whom I sent a specimen, which he has returned amended with so much taste and candour, and accompanied with so many expressions of kindness, that it quite charmed me. He has chiefly altered the lines encumbered with elisions, and I will just take this opportunity to tell you, because I know you to be as much interested in what I write as myself, that some of the most offensive of these elisions were occasioned by mere criticism. I was fairly hunted into them by vexatious objections, made without end by , and his friends, and altered, and altered, till at last I scarcely cared how I altered. I am not naturally insensible, and the sensibilities I had by nature have been wonderfully enhanced by a long series of shocks, given to a frame of nerves that was never very athletic. I feel accordingly, whether painful or pleasant, in the extreme; am easily elevated, and easily cast down. The power of a critic freezes my poetical powers, and discourages me to such a degree, that makes me ashamed of my own weakness. Yet I presently recover my confidence again, especially when I have every reason to believe, as in the case you refer to, that a critic's censures are harsh and unreasonable, and arise more from his own wounded and mortified feelings, than from any defect in the work itself."
Notwithstanding the irritation produced in the mind of the poet by the trifling amendments and vexatious criticisms of some whom he had been persuaded to consult, he nevertheless persevered in the translation, with undiminished activity, and gave abundant proof that he possessed that real greatness of mind which alone could enable him to undertake and accomplish a work of so great magnitude. To Lady Hesketh he thus discloses the state of his mind in this respect. "Your anxious wishes for my success delight me, and you may rest assured that I have all the ambition on the subject that you can wish me to feel. I more than admire my author. I often stand astonished at his beauties. I am for ever amused with the translation of him, and I have received a thousand encouragements: these are all so many happy omens, that I hope will be verified by the event. I am not
ashamed to confess that, having commenced an author, I am most abundantly desirous to succeed as such. I have (what perhaps you little suspect me of) in my nature an infinite share of ambition. But with it, Ihave at the same time, as you will know, an equal share of diffidence. To this ccfmbination of opposite qualities it has been owing, that till lately, I stole through life without undertaking any thing, yet always wishing to distinguish myself. At last I ventured, ventured too in the only path that, at so late a period, was yet open to me, and am determined, if God have not determined otherwise, to work my way through the obscurity that has been so long my portion, into notice. Everything, therefore, that seems to threaten this my favourite purpose, with disappointment, affects me severely. I suppose that all ambitious minds are in the same predicament. He who seeks distinction must be sensible of disapprobation, exactly in the same proportion as he desires applause. I have thus, my dear cousin, unfolded my heart to you in this particular, without a speck of dissimulation. Some people, and good people too, would blame me, but you will not; and they, I think, would blame without just cause. We certainly do not honour God when we bury, or when we neglect to improve, as far as we can, whatever talent he may have bestowed upon us, whether it be little or much. In natural things, as well as spiritual, it is a never-failing truth, that to him who hath, (that is to him who employs what he hath diligently, and so as to increase.it) more shall be given. Set me down, therefore, my dear cousin, for an industrious rhymer, so long as I shall have ability. For in this only way is it possible for me, so far as I can see, either to honour God, or even to serve myself."
In reply to the apprehensions expressed by some of his correspondents, that the confinement and close application which this work necessarily required, would prove injurious to his health, and be likely to increase his depression, he made the following remarks. "You may well wonder at my courage, who have undertaken a work of such enormous length, you would wonder more if you knew I translated the whole Iliad, with no other help than a Clavis. But I have since equipped myself for this immense journey, and am revising the work in company with a good commentator. I thank you for the solicitude you express on the subject of my present studies. The work is undoubtedly-long and laborious, but it has an end, and proceeding leisurely, with a due attention to air and exercise, it is possible that I may live to finish it. Assure yourself of one thing, that though to a bystander, it may seem an occupation surpassing the powers of a constitution never very athletic, and, at present, not a little the worse for wear, I can invent for myself no employment that does not exhaust my spirits more. I will not pretend to account for this, I will only say that it is not the language of predilection for a favourite amusement, but that the fact is really so. I have ever found that those plaything avocati,ons which one may execute almost without any attention, fatigue me, and wear me away, while such as engage me much, and attach me closely, are rather serviceable to me than otherwise."
During the. whole of Cowper's residence at Olney, he retained the same sentiments of affectionate sympathy for the sufferings of the poor that he had evinced when he first came among them. And though he had experienced some painful proofs of their insensibility, ingratitude, and unkindness, yet his heart had often been made to rejoice with those, whom, either his own liberality, or the liberality of his friends had enabled.him to relieve. Aware that it afforded him so much pleasure to be employed in communicating happiness to others, his friends often placed at his disposal such things as they felt inclined to distribute. The following interesting extract from a letter to Mr. Unwin, proves how highly he was gratified in being thus benevolently employed. "I have thought with pleasure of the summer that you have had in your heart, while you have been employed in softening the severity of winter, in behalf of so many who must otherwise have been exposed to it. You never said a better thing in
your life than when you assured Mr of the expedience
of a gift of bedding to the poor at Olney. There is no one article of this world's comforts, with which, as Falstaff says, they are so heinously unprovided. When a poor woman, and an honest one, whom we know well, carried home two pair of blankets, a pair for herself and husband, and a pair for her six children, that you kindly placed at my disposal, as soon as the children saw them, they jumped out of their straw, caught them in their arms, kissed them, blessed them, and danced for joy. An old woman, a very old one, the first night that she found herself so comfortably covered, could not sleep a wink, being kept awake by the contrary emotions of transport on the one hand, and the fear of not being thankful enough on the other."
After the publication of Cowper's second volume, and previous to his removal from Olney, he had renewed his correspondence with some relatives and friends with whom he had formerly been on terms of intimacy, but who seemed almost to have forgotten him, until the popularity of his publications arrested their attention. Among these were General Cowper, and Rev. Walter Bagot. Cowper's letters to the latter prove that his attachment to him was not slight and superficial, but deep and fervent. In February, 1786, it pleased God to deprive Mr. Bagot of his amiable and accomplished wife, who was respected and beloved by all who knew her. On this melancholy occasion Cowper wrote to him as follows: "Alas! alas! my dear, dear friend, may God himself comfort you! I will not be so absurd as to attempt it. By the close of your letter, it should seem that in this hour of great trial, he withholds not his consolations from you. I know by experience that they are neither few nor small; and though I feel for you as I never felt for man before, yet do I sincerely rejoice in this, that, whereas there is but one comforter in the universe, under afflictions such as yours, you both know Him, and know where to seek Him. I thought you a man the most happily mated that I had ever seen, and had great pleasure in your felicity. Pardon me, if now I feel a wish, that, short as my acquaintance with her was, I had never steen her, I should then have mourned with you, but not as I do now. Mrs. Unwin also sympathizes with you most sincerely, and you neither are, nor will be soon forgotten, in such prayers as we can make. I will not detain you longer now, my poor afflicted friend, than to commit you to the mercy of God, and to bid you a sorrowful adieu. May God be with you, my friend, and give you a just measure of submission to his will, the most effectual remedy for the evils of this changing scene. I doubt not that he has granted you this blessing already, and may he still continue it."
Pleasure he enjoyed in his new residence—Sudden death of Mrs. Unwinds son—'Camper's distress on the occasion—Experiences a severe attack of illness—Is compelled to relinquish, for a time, his labours of translation—Mr. Rose's first visit to him—His sudden recovery—Manner of spending his time—Peculiarities ofhis.case—Is dissuaded from resuming his translation—His determination to persevere in it—Applies to it with the utmost diligence—Great care with which he translated it—-His admiration of the original—Providential preservation of Mrs. Unwin—His painful depression unremoved.
By the end of November, 1786, Cowper was comfortably settled in his new residence at Weston. The house was delightfully situated, very near that of his friendly and accomplished landlord, Sir John Throckmorton, with whom he was now on terms of intimacy, and who had given him the full use of his spacious and agreeable pleasure grounds. This afforded him an opportunity, at almost all seasons, of taking that degree of exercise in the open air, which he always found so conducive to his health. The following extracts from his first letter to Lady Hesketh, after entering on his new abode, describes the state of'his feelings, and proves how truly he enjoyed the change. "November 26, 1786. It is my birthday, my beloved cousin, and I determine to employ a part of it that is not destitute of festivity, in writing to you. The dark thick fog that has obscured it, would have been a burthen to me at Olney, but here I have hardly attended to it. The neatness and snugness of our abode, compensates for all the dreariness of the season, and whether the ways are wet or dry, our house at lea3t, is always warm and commodious. Oh! for you my cousin, to partake of these comforts with us! I will not begin already to tease you upon that subject, but Mrs. Unwin remembers to have heard from your own lips, that you hate London in the spring, perhaps, therefore, by that time, you may be glad to escape from a scene which will be every day growing more disagreeable, that you may enjoy the comforts of the Lodge. You well know