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acceptable to me as the picture you have so kindly sent me. I received it the night before last, and received it with a trepidation of nerves and spirits, somewhat akin to what I should have felt had the dear original presented herself to my embraces. I kissed it, and hung it where it is the last object that I see at night, and, of course, the first that I open my eyes upon in the morning. She died when I had completed my sixth year, yet I remember her well, and am an ocular witness of the great fidelity of the copy. I remember too, a multitude of the maternal tendernesses which I received from her, and which have endeared her memory to me beyond expression. There is, I believe, in me, more of the Donne than of the Cowper, and though I love all of both names, and have a thousand reasons to love those of my own name, yet I feel the bond of nature draw me vehemently to your side. I was thought, in the days of my childhood, much to resemble my mother, and in my natural temper, of which, at the age of fifty-eight, I must be supposed a competent judge, can trace both her, and my late uncle, your father. Somewhat of his irritability, and a little, I would hope, both of his,
and of her , I know not what to call it, without seeming
to praise myself, which is not my intention; but speaking to you, I will even speak out, and say good nature. Add to all this, I deal much in poetry, as did our venerable ancestor, the Dean of St. Paul's, and I think I shall have proved myself a Donne at all points. The truth is, whatever I am, and wherever I am, I love you all."
To Lady Hesketh he thus adverts to the circumstance.— "I am delighted with Mrs. Bodham's kindness in giving me the only picture of my mother that is to be found, I suppose, in all the world. I had rather possess it than the richest jewel in the British crown, for I loved.her with an affection, that her death, fifty years since, has not in the least abated. I remember her too, young as I was when she died, well enough to know that it is a very exact resemblance of her, and as such it is to me invaluable. Everybody loved her, and with an amiable character so impressed on all her features, everybody was sure to do so."
To John Johnson, Esq., 28th February, 1790, he thus records his feelings on this occasion. "I was never more pleased in my life than to learn, and to learn from herself, that my dearest Rose is still alive. Had she not engaged me to love her by the sweetness of her character when a child, she would have done it effectually now, by making me the most acceptable present in the world, my own dear mother's picture. I am perhaps the only person living who remembers her, but I remember her well, and can attest on my own knowledge, the truth of the resemblance. Amiable and elegant as the countenance is, such exactly was her own; she was one of the tenderest parents, and so just a copy of her, is therefore to me invaluable. I wrote yesterday to my Rose, to tell her all this, and to thank her for her kindness in sending it! Neither do I forget your kindness, who intimated to her that I should be happy to possess it. She invites me into Norfolk, but alas! she might as well invite the house in which I dwell: for, all other considerations and impediments apart, how is it possible that a translator of Homer should lumber to such a distance. But though I cannot comply with her kind invitation, I have made myself the best amends in my power, by inviting her, and all the family of Donnes, to Weston." To Mrs. King, on the same interesting occasion, he writes: "I have lately received from a female cousin of mine in Norfolk, whom I have not seen these fiveand-twenty years, a picture of my own mother. She died when I wanted two days of being six years old; yet I remember her perfectly, find the picture a strong resemblance of her, and because her memory has been ever precious to me, I have written. a poem on the receipt of it; a poem which, one excepted, I had more pleasure in writing than any that I ever wrote. That one was addressed to a lady whom I expect in a few minutes to come down to breakfast, and who has supplied to me the place of my own mother— my own invaluable mother, these six-and-twenty years. Some sons may be said to have had many fathers, but a plurality of mothers is not common."
In May of this year, 1790, Cowper thus describes the manner in which he was employed. "I am still at my old sport —Homer all the morning, and Homer all the evening. Thus have I been held in constant employment, I know not exactly how many, but I believe these six years, an interval of eight months excepted. It is now become so familiar to me to take Homer from my shelf ata certain hour, that I shall, no doubt, continue to take him from my shelf at the same time, even after I have ceased to want him. That period is not far distant. I am now giving the last touches to a work, which had I foreseen the difficulty of it, I should never have meddled with; but which, having at length nearly finished it to my mind, I shall discontinue with regret."
Perhaps no one was ever better qualified to give sound and judicious advice to persons in various conditions in life than Cowper, and no one certainly ever gave it more cheerfully, or in a manner more perfectly unassuming. An instance of this occurred in a letter which he wrote in June of this year, to his cousin, John Johnson, Esq., who was then pursuing his studies at Cambridge, who had recently been introduced to him, and for whom he entertained the most affectionate regard. "You never pleased me more than when you told me you had abandoned your mathematical pursuits. It grieved me to think that you were wasting your time merely to gain a little Cambridge fame; not scarcely worth your having. I cannot be contented that your renown should thrive nowhere but on the banks of the Cam. Conceive a nobler ambition, and never let your honour be circumscribed by the paltry dimensions of a University. It is well that you have already, as you observe, acquired sufficient information in that science to enable you to pass creditably such examinations as I suppose you must hereafter undergo. Keep what you have gotten, and be content: more is needless. You could not apply to a worse than I am to advise you concerning your studies. I was never a regular student myself, but lost the most valuable part of my life in an attorney's office, and in the Temple. I will not therefore give myself airs, and affect to know what I know not. The affair is of great importance to you, and you should be directed by a wiser than I. To speak, however, in very general terms on the subject, it seems to me that your chief concern is with history, natural philosophy, logic, and divinity; as to metaphysics^ I know but little about them. But the very little I do know has not taught me to admire them. Life is too short to afford time even for serious trifles; pursue what you know to be attainable; make truth your object, and your studies will make you a wise man."
In the summer of 1790, much as Cowper.'s time was occu
Eied in giving the finishing touch to his Homer, he neverthesss, at the suggestion of some friend, undertook to translate a series of Latin letters, received from a Dutch minister of the gospel, at the Cape of Good Hope. This occupation, though it left him but little time for writing to his numerous correspondents, afforded him considerable pleasure. There was a congeniality in it to the prevailing disposition of his mind, and in a letter to Mr. Newton, who requested him to publish these letters, he thus writes: "I have no objection at all to being known as the translator of Van Leer's letters, when they shall be published. Rather, I am ambUious of it as an honour. It will serve to prove that if I have spent much time to little purpose in the translation of Homer, some small portion of my time has, however, been well disposed of."
It will have been perceived, from the extracts we have already made, that Gowper's gloomy peculiarity of mind still prevailed, at least occasionally, to a painful extent. It is true, he adverts to it in his letters, at this time, less frequently than formerly; he introduces it, however, sufficiently often to show, that it had undergone no diminution, and that it was suppressed only by the intense application which his engagements required. The following extracts from his letters written towards the close of 1790, will describe the state of his mind in this respect, at that period. "I have singularities of which I believe, at present you know nothing; and which would fill you with wonder if you knew them. I will add, however, in justice to myself, that they would not lower me in your good opinion; though periiaps they might tempt you to question the soundness of my upper story. Almost twenty years have I been thus unhappily circumstanced; and the remedy is in the hands of God only. That I make you this partial communication on the subject, conscious at the same time that you are well worthy to be entrusted with the whole, is merely because the recital would be too long for a letter, and painful both to me and to you. But all this may vanish in a moment, and if it please God, it shall. In the mean time, my dear Madam, remember me in your prayers, and mention me at those times, as one whom it has pleased God to afflict with singular visitations. Twice I have been overwhelmed with the blackest despair; and at those time3, everything in which I have been at any time of my life concerned, has afforded to the enemy a handle against me. I tremble, therefore, almost at every step I take, lest on some future similar occasion, it should yield him opportunity, and furnish him with means to torment me."
On another occasion he thus writes:—" A yellow shower of leaves is now continually falling from all the trees in the country. A few moments only seem to have passed since they were buds; and in a few moments more they will have disappeared i It is one advantage of a rural situation, that it affords many hints of the rapidity with which life flies, that do not occur in towns and cities. It is impossible for a man, conversant with such scenes as surround me, not to advert daily to the shortness of his existence here, admonished of it, as he must be, by ten thousand objects. There was a time when I could contemplate my present state, and consider myself as a thing of the day with pleasure; when I numbered the seasons, as they passed in swift rotation, as a schoolboy numbers the days that interpose between the next vacation, when he shall see his parents, and enjoy his home again. But to make so just an estimate of a life like this, is no longer in my power. The consideration of my short continuance here, which was once grateful to me, now fills me with regret. I would live, and live always, and am become such another wretch as Maecenas was, who wished for long life—he cared not at what expense of sufferings. The only consolation left me on this subject is, that the voice of the Almighty can, in one moment, cure me of this mental infirmity. That He can, I know by experience; and there are reasons for which I ought to believe that he will. But from hope to despair is a transition that I have made so often, that I can only consider the hope that may come, and that sometimes I believe will, as a short prelude to joy, to a miserable conclusion of sorrow, that shall never ejid. Thus are my brightest prospects clouded; and thus, to me, is hope itself become like a withered flower, that has lost both its hue and its fragrance. I ought not to have written in this dismal strain to you, nor did I intend it; you have more need to be cheered than saddened; but a dearth of other themes constrained me to choose myself for a subject, and of myself I can write no otherwise."
Early in December, 1790, Cowper had a short but severe attack of that nervous fever to which he. was very subject, and which he dreaded above all others, because it generally preceded a most severe paroxysm of melancholy. Happily, on this occasion, it lasted only for a short time; and in a letter to Mrs. King, dated the last day of the year, he thus records his feelings on the occasion:—" I have lately been visited with an indisposition much more formidable than that which I mentioned to you In my last—a nervous fever, a disorder to which I am subject, and which I dread above all others, because it comes attended by a melancholy perfectly insupportable. This is the first day of my complete recovery, the first in which I have perceived no symptoms of my terrible malady. I wish to be thafnkful to the Sovereign Dispenser both of health and of sickness, that, though I have felt cause enough to tremble, He gives me now encouragement to hope that I may dismiss my fears, and expect an escape from my depressive malady. The only drawback to the comfort I now feel, is the intelligence contained in yours, that neither Mr. King nor yourself are well. I dread always,