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that the best house has a desolate appearance unfurnished. This house accordingly, since it has been occupied by us, and our meubles, is as much superior to what it was when you saw it, as you can imagine; the parlour is even elegant. When I say that the parlour is elegant, I do not mean to insinuate that the study is not so. It is neat, warm, and silent, and a much better study than I deserve, if I do not produce in it an incomparable translation of Homer. I think every day of those lines of Milton, and congratulate myself on having obtained, before I am quite superannuated, what he seems not to have hoped for sooner."
"And may at length my weary age
"For if it is not an hermitage, at least it is a much better thing, and you must always understand, my dear, that when poets talk of cottages, hermitages, and such like things, they mean a house with six sashes in front, two comfortable parlours, a smart stair-case, and three bed-chambers, of convenient dimensions; in short, exactly such a house as this is."
"The Throckmortons continue the most obliging neighbours in the world. One morning last week, they both went with me to the cliffs—a scene, my dear, in which you would delight beyond measure, but which you cannot visit except in the spring, or autumn. The heat of summer and clinging dirt of winter would destroy you. What is called the cliff, is no cliff, nor at all like one, but a beautiful terrace, sloping gently down to the base, and from the brow of which, though it is not lofty, you have a view of such a valley, as makes that which you saw from the hills near Olney, and which I have had the honour to celebrate, an affair of no consideration."
"Wintry as the weather is, do not suspect that it confines me. I ramble daily, and every day change my ramble. Wherever I go, I find short grass under my feet, and when I have travelled perhaps, five miles, come home with shoes not at all too dirty for a drawing-room."
Cowper was scarcely settled in his new abode, and had hardly had time to participate of its enjoyments, before an event occurred, which plunged both him and Mrs. Unwin into the deepest distress. It pleased God, who does everything according to his will, with angels as well as with men, all whose dispensations, mysterious as some of them may appear, are conducted on principles of unerring wisdom, and infinite benevolence, to remove from this scene of toil and labour, to regions of peace and happiness, Mrs. Unwin's son, in the prime of life, and in a manner the most sudden and unexpected. Cowper had always loved him as a brother, and had most unreservedly communicated his mind to him, on all occasions. Their attachment to each other was mutually strong, cordial, and affectionate. The loss of such a friend could not fail to make a deep impression on the poet's mind, and the following extracts will show how much he felt on the occasion. "I find myself here situated exactly to my mind. Weston is one of the prettiest villages in England, the walks about it are at all seasons of the year delightful. We had just begun to enjoy the pleasantness of our new situation, to find at least as much comfort in it as the season of the year would permit, when affliction found us out in our retreat, and the news reached us of the death of Mr. Unwin. He had taken a western tour with Mr. Henry Thornton, and on his return, at Winchester, was seized with a putrid fever, which sent him to his grave. He is gone to it, however, though young, as fit for it as age itself could have made him. Regretted indeed, and always to be regretted by those who knew him; for he had everything that makes a man valuable, both in his principles and in his manners, but leaving still this consolation to his surviving friends; that he was desirable in this world, chiefly because he was so well prepared for a better."
"The death of one whom I valued as I did Mr. Unwin, is a subject on which I could say much, and with much feeling. But habituated as my mind has been these many years to melancholy themes, I am glad to excuse myself the contemplation of them as much as possible. I will only observe that the death of so young a man, whom I saw so lately in good health, and whose life was so desirable on every account, has something in it peculiarly distressing. I cannot think of the widow and the children he has left without an heart-ache that I remember not to have felt before. We may well say that the ways of God are mysterious: in truth they are so, and to a degree that only such events can give us any conception of. Mrs. Unwin's life has been so much a life of affliction, that whatever occurs to her in that shape, has not at least, the terrors of novelty to embitter it. She is supported under this, as she has been under a thousand others, with a submission of which I never saw her deprived for a moment."
"Though my experience has long since taught me that this world is a world of shadows, and that it is the more prudent, as well as the more christian course, to possess the comforts that we find in it, as if we possessed them not, it is no easy matter to reduce this doctrine to practice. We forget that that God who gave them, may, when he pleases, take them away; and that, perhaps, it may please him to take them away at a time when we least expect it, and are least disposed to part with them. Thus it has happened in the present case. There never was a moment in .Unwin's life when there seemed to be more urgent want of him than the moment in which he died. He had attained to an age, when, if they are at any time useful, men become more useful to their families, their friends, and the world. His parish began to feel, and to be sensible of the value of his ministry; his children were thriving under his own tuition and management. The removal of a man in the prime of life, of such a character, and with such connections, seems to make a void in society that can never be filled. God seemed to have made him just what he was, that he might be a blessing to others, and when the influence of his character and abilities began to be felt, removed him. These are mysteries that we cannot contemplate without astonishment, but which will nevertheless be explained hereafter, and must in the mean time, be revered in silence. It is well for Mrs. Unwin that she has spent her life in the practice of an habitual acquiescence in the dispensations of Providence, else I know that this stroke would have been heavier, after all that she has suffered upon another account, than she could have borne. She derives, as she well may,
freat consolation from the thought that he lived the life, and ied the death of a christian. The consequence is, if possible, more certain than the most mathematical conclusion, that therefore he is happy."
Cowper had scarcely given vent to his feelings on the melancholy occurrence of Mr. Unwin's decease, when he was himself again visited by severe indisposition. His depressive malady returned, with all its baleful consequences, and prevented him for more than six months, either from doing anything with his translation of Homer, or carrying on his correspondence with his friends, or even from enjoying the conversation of those with whom he was most intimately assot ciated, and whom he loved most affectionately. It is highly probable, that the painful feelings, occasioned by a too frequent recurrence to the apparently disastrous consequences, that must be the result of his friend's removal, occasioned this attack. His mind bore up under the first shock with comparative firmness, but his intense feelings, perhaps, pictured its remote effects in colours much more gloomy than were ever likely to be realised. Such seems to have been the case with him at the death of his-brother. He attended him in his dying hours, saw him gradually sink into the arms of death, arranged all the affairs of his funeral, and then, when other persons less susceptible of feeling, would in all probability have forgotten the event, his apprehensive mind invested it with imaginary horrors that were to him insupportable.
This affliction of Cowper's commenced in the early part of January, 1787. In his letters to his cousin, he thus adverts to the first symptoms of it. "I have had a little nervous fever lately that has somewhat abridged my sleep, and though I find myself better to-day than I have been since it seized me, yet I feel my head lightish, and not in the best order for writing." In the next letter to the same correspondent, written about a week afterwards—the last he wrote to any of his correspondents until his recovery, he again adverts to the progress of his complaint. "I have been so much indisposed with the nervous fever, that I told you in my last had seized me, my nights, during the whole week, may be said to have been almost sleepless. The consequence has been that, except the translation of about thirty lines at the conclusion of the thirteenth book, I have been forced to abandon Homer entirely. This was a sensible mortification to me as you may suppose, and felt the more, because my spirits of course failing with my strength, I seemed to have peculiar need of my old amusement. It seemed hard, therefore, to be forced to resign it, just when I wanted it most. But Homer's battles cannot be fought by a man who does not sleep well, and who has not some little degree of animation in the day time. Last night, however, quite contrary to my expectation, the fever left me entirely, and I slept soundly, quietly, and long. If it please God that it return not, I shall soon find myself in a condition to proceed. I walk constantly, that is to say, Mrs. Unwin and I together: for at these times I keep her continually employed, and never suffer her to be absent from me many minutes. She gives me all her time, and all her attention, and forgets that there is another object in the world besides myself."
About this time, that intimacy between Cowper and Samuel Rose, Esq., which subsequently ripened into a friend- a ship that nothing but death could dissolve, commenced. At the close of the letter from which we made our last extract, * Cowper thus adverts to the circumstance. "A young gen
tleman called here yesterday, who came six miles out of hi* way to see me. He was on a journey to London from Glasgow, having just left the university there. He came I suppose, partly to satisfy his own curiosity, Tmt chiefly, as it seemed, to bring me the thanks of some of the Scotch professors for my two volumes. His name is Rose, an Englishman. Your spirits being good, you will derive more pleasure from this incident than I can at present, therefore I send it." Notwithstanding the depression of mind which Cowper was beginning again to experience, when this unexpected interview between him and Mr. Rose took place, and his consequent aversion to the visits of any one, but especially strangers, yet'he was so highly pleased with his new friend, that he commenced a correspondence with him immediately on recovering.his health; and he ever regarded it as a providential circumstance, and a token of the goodness of God towards him, in giving him a friend and a correspondent, who in some measure, at least, supplied the loss he had experienced by the death of Mr- Unwin.
In February, 1787, Cowper's depressive malady had so greatly increased that his mind became again enveloped in the deepest gloom. The following extracts from his letters, written after his recovery, which took place in the ensuing autumn, will best describe the painful and distressing state to which he was reduced :—" My indisposition could not be of a worse kind. Had I been afflicted with a fever, or confined by a broken bone, neither ot these cases would have made it impossible that we should meet. I am truly sorry that the impediment was insurmountable while it lasted, for such, in fact, it was. The sight of any face, except Mrs. Unwin's, was to me an insupportable grievance; and when it has happened, that by forcing himself into my hiding place; some friend Jias found me out, he has had no great cause to exult in his success, as Mr. Bull could tell you. From this dreadful condition of mind, I emerged suddenly; so suddenly that Mrs. Unwin, having no notice of such a change herself, could give none to anybody; and when it obtained, how long it might last, and how far it might be depended upon, was a matter of the greatest uncertainty. It affects me on the recollection with the more concern, because it has deprived me of an interview with you, and has prevented you from visiting . others who would have been very glad to see you."
In the midst of Cowper's severe" attack, his friend, Mr Rose, paid him another visit, and was greatly distressed to find him reduced to such a degree of wretchedness that he