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weary, as well she might be, and heard such noises, both within the house and without, that I concluded she would get no rest. But I was mercifully disappointed. She rested, though not well, yet sufficiently. Here we found our friend Rose, who had walked from his house in Chancerylane, to meet us, and to greet us with his best wishes. At Kingston, where we dined, the second day, I found my old and much valued friend, General Cowper, whom I had not seen for thirty years, and but for this journey should never have seen again: when we arrived at Ripley, where we slept the second night, we were both in a better condition of body and of mind, than on the day preceding. Here we found a quiet inn, that housed, as it happened, that night, no company but ourselves; we slept well and rose perfectly refreshed, and except some terrors that I felt at passing over the Sussex Hills at moonlight, met with little to complain of, till we arrived about ten o'clock, at Eartham. Here we are as happy as it is in the power of earthly good to make us. It is almost a paradise in which we dwell; and our reception has been the kindest that it was possible for friendship and hospitality to cTjntrive."
While at Eartham, Cowper and Mr. Hayley employed the morning hours that they could bestow upon books, in revising and correcting Cowper's translation of Milton's Latin and Italian poems. In the afternoon they occasionally amused themselves by forming together a rapid metrical version of Andreini's Adamo. Cowper's tender solicitude for Mrs. Unwin, however, rendered it impossible for them to be very attentive to these studies. Adverting to the anxiety of Cowper respecting Mrs. Unwin, Mr. Hayley thus writes:—" I have myself no language sufficiently strong or sufficiently tender, to express my just admiration of that angelic, compassionate sensibility with which Cowper watched over his aged invalid. With the most singular and most exemplary tenderness of attention, he incessantly laboured to counteract every infirmity, bodily and mental, with which sickness and age had conspired to load the interesting guardian of his afflicted life."
Cowper had been at Eartham but a few days, when he received a letter from his friend, Mr. Hurdis, informing him of the loss he had sustained by the death of a beloved sister. His compassionate heart immediately prompted him to write the following reply :—"Your kind, but very affecting letter, found me not at Weston, to which place it was directed, but in a bower of my friend Hayley's garden, at Eartham, where I was sitting with Mrs. Unwin. We both knew, the moment we saw it, from whom it came; and observing a red seal, both comforted ourselves that all was well at Burwash; but we soon felt that we were called not to rejoice, but to mourn with you; we do, indeed, sincerely mourn with you; and, if it will afford you any consolation to know it, you may be assured that every eye here has testified what our hearts have suffered for you. Your loss is great, and your disposition, I peroeive, such as exposes you to feel the whole weight of it. I will not add to your sorrow by a vain attempt to assuage it; your own good sense, and the piety of your principles, will, of course, suggest to you the most powerful motives of acquiescence in the will of God. You will be sure to recollect, that the stroke, severe as it is, is not the stroke of an enemy, but of a Friend and a Father; and will find, I trust, hereafter, that, like a Father, he has done you good by it. Thousands have been able to say, and myself as loud as any of them, it has been good for me that I have been afflicted; but time is necessary to work us to this persuasion; and in due time it will, no doubt, be yours."
The following extracts from letters to Lady Hesketh, dated Eartham, describe his feelings while he remained there:— "I know not how it is, my dearest cousin, but in a new scene like this, surrounded by strange objects, I find my powers of thinking dissipated to a degree, that makes it difficult for me even to write a letter, and even a letter to you; but such a letter as I can, I will, and I have the fairest chance to succeed this morning; Hayley, Romney, and Hayley's son, being all gone to the sea for bathing. The sea, you must know, is nine miles off, so that, unless stupidity prevent, I shall have opportunity to write, not only to you, but to poor Hurdis also, who is broken-hearted for the loss of his favourite sister, lately dead. 1 am, without the least dissimulation, in good health; my spirits are about as good as you have ever seen them; and if increase of appetite, and a double portion of sleep, be advantageous, such are the benefits I have received from this migration. As to that gloominess of mind which I have felt these twenty years, it cleaves to me even here; and could I be translated to paradise, unless I left my body behind me, would cleave to me even there also. It is my companion for life, and nothing will ever divorce us. Mrs. Unwin is evidently the better for her jaunt, though by no means as she was before her last attack, still wanting help when she would rise from her seat, and a support in walking, but she is able to take more exercise than when at home, and move with rather a less totteriug step. God knows what he designs for me; but when I see those who are dearer to me than myself, distempered and enfeebled, and myself as strong a3 in the days of my youth, I tremble for the solitude in which a few years may place me."
"This is, as I have already told you, a delightful place; more beautiful scenery I have never beheld, nor expect to behold; but the charms of it, uncommon as they are, have not, in the least, alienated my affections from Weston. The genius of that place suits me better; it has an air of snug concealment, in which a disposition like mine feels peculiarly gratified; whereas here, I see from every window woods like forests, and hills like mountains, a wilderness in short, that rather increases my natural melancholy, and which, were it not for the agreeables I find within, would convince me that mere change of place can avail but little."
On the 17th September, 1792, Cowper, and Mrs. Unwin, left Eartham, for their beloved retreat at Weston. Their parting interview with their friends at Eartham, who had heaped upon them everything that the most affectionate kindness could invent, was deeply interesting to all parties, but particularly affecting to the sensitive mind of Cowper. According to a previous arrangement, the poet and Mrs. Unwin dined, and spent the day with General Cowper, at Kingston, who had come there on purpose to have the pleasure of Cowper's company, probably for the last time. A recollection of this so powerfully affected the poet's mind, that the pleasure of the interview was hardly greater than the pain he felt at parting with his venerable and beloved kinsman. The peculiar and burdened state of Cowper's mind respecting this visit, he thus describes:—"The struggles that I had with my own spirit, labouring, as I did, under the most dreadful dejection, are never to be told. I would have given the world to have been excused. 1 went, however, and carried my point against myself, with a heart riven asunder. I have reason for all this anxiety, which I cannot relate now; the visit, however, passed off well, and I returned with a lighter heart than I have known since my departure from Eartham, and we both enjoyed a good night's rest afterwards."
The good providence of God conducted these interesting travellers in safety to their home, where they arrived in the evening of the second day after they set out from Eartham. The unusual excitement occasioned by so long a journey, and by such a profusion of interesting objects, would, in ordinary cases, and in minds of almost any form, who had been so long confined to one spot, be very likely to be succeeded by considerable depression. Such was, however, much more likely to be the case on a mind like Cowper's. Accordingly we find, that when he arrived at Weston, he was, for a considerable time, subject to an unusual degree of depression. The following extracts from his letters to his friend Hay ley, describe the state of his mind, and show how much he was then under the influence of his depressive malady:— "Chaos, himself, even the chaos of Milton, is not surrounded with more confusion, nor has a mind more completely in a hubbub, than I experience at the present moment. A bad night, succeeded by an east wind, and a sky all in sables, have such an effect on my spirits, that if I did not consult my own comfort more than yours, I should not write to-day, for I shall not entertain you much: yet your letter, though containing no very pleasant tidings, has afforded me some relief. It tells me, indeed, that you have been dispirited yourself; all this grieves me, but then there is warmth of heart, and a kindness in it, that do me good. I will endeavour not to repay you in notes of sorrow and despondence, though all my sprightly chords seem broken. In truth, one day excepted, I have not seen the day when I have been cheerful since I left you. My spirits, I think, are almost constantly lower than they were; the approach of winter is perhaps the cause, and if it be, I have nothing better to expect for a long time to come. I began a long letter to you yesterday, and proceeded through two sides of the sheet, but so much of my nervous fever found its way into it, that, looking over it this morning, I determined not to send it. Your wishes to disperse my melancholy would, I am sure, prevail, did that event depend on the warmth and sincerity with which you frame them; but it has baffled both wishes and prayers, and those the most fervent that could be made, so many years, that the case seems hopeless."
These frequent, and, indeed, almost continual attacks of depression, combined with the attention that Cowper paid to promote the comfort, and facilitate the recovery of Mrs. Unwin, prevented him entirely from persevering in his literary undertaking. In his letters he makes this a subject of particular regret. The benefits he had derived from his regular habits of study during his translation of Homer, made him anxious to be again regularly employed. To his friend Mr. Rose he thus describes the state of his mind in this respect: —" I wish that I were as industrious, and as much occupied as you, though in a different way, hut it is not so with me. Mrs. Unwin's great debility is of itself a hinderance, such as would effectually disable me. Till she can work and read, and fill up her time as usual, (all which is at present entirely out of her power) I may now and then find time to write a letter, hut I shall write nothing more. I cannot sit, with my pen in my hand, and my books before me, while she is in effect, in solitude, silent, and looking at the fire. To this hinderance that other has been added, of which you are aware, a want of spirits, such as I have never known when I was not absolutely laid by, since I commenced an author. How long I shall be continued in these uncomfortable circumstances is known only to Him, who, as he will, disposes of us all."
"I may yet be able, perhaps, to prepare the first book of Paradise Lost for the press, before it will be wanted, and Johnson himself seems to think there will be no haste for the second. But poetry is my favourite employment, and my poetical operations are in the meantime suspended; for while a work, to which I have bound myself, remains unaccomplished, I can do nothing else. Johnson's plan of prefixing my phiz to the edition of my poems is by no means a pleasant one to me, and so I told him in a letter I sent him from Eartham, in which I assured him that my objections to it would not be easily surmounted. But, if you judge that it may really have an effect in advancing the sale, I would not be so squeamish as to suffer the spirit of prudery to prevail on me to his disadvantage. Somebody told an author, I forget whom, that there was more vanity in refusing his picture than in granting it, on which he instantly complied. I do not perfectly feel all the force of the argument, but it shall content me that he did."
To his kinsman he writes:—"The successor of the clerk defunct, for whom I used to write, arrived here this morning, with a recommendatory letter from Joe Rye, and an humble petition of his own, entreating me to assist him, as I had assisted his predecessor. I have undertaken the service, although with no little reluctance, being involved in many arrears on other subjects, and very little dependance at present on my ability to write at all. I proceed exactly as when you were here—a letter now and then before breakfast, and the rest of my time all holiday, if holiday it may be called, that is spent chiefly in moping and musing, and 'forecasting the fashion of uncertain evils.' The fever on my spirits has harassed me much, and I have never had so good a night,