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heard upon that staircase again. These reflections, and such as these, occurred to me on this occasion. If I were in a condition to leave Olney, I certainly would not stay in it. It is no attachment to the place that binds me here, but an unfitness for every other. I lived in it once, but now I am buried in it, and have no business with the world on the outside of my sepulchre; my appearance would startle them, and theirs would be shocking to me."
In a letter to Mr. Newton, 3d May, 1780, he thus writes: "You indulge me in such a variety of subjects, and allow me such a latitude of excursion, in this scribbling employment, that I have no excuse for silence. I am much obliged to you for swallowing such boluses, as I send you, for the sake of my gilding, and verily believe, I am the only man alive, from whom they would be welcome, to a palate like yours. I wish I could make them more splendid than they are, more alluring to the eye, at least, if not more pleasing to the taste, but my leaf-gold is tarnished, and has received such a tinge from the vapours that are ever brooding over my mind, that I think it no small proof of your partiality to me, that you will read my letters. If every human being upon earth could think for one quarter of an hour, as I have thought for many years, there might perhaps be many miserable men among them, but not one unawakened one would be found, from the Arctic to the Antarctic circle. At present, the difference between them and me, is greatly to their advantage. I delight in baubles, and know them to be so, for rested in, and viewed without a reference to their author, what is the earth, what are the planets, what is trie sun itself, but a bauble? Better for a man never to have seen them, or to see them with the eyes of a brute, stupid and unconscious of what he beholds, than not to be able to say, 'The maker of all these wonders is my friend!' Their eyes have never been opened, to see that they are trifles, mine have been, and will be, till they are closed for ever."
"I live in a world abounding with incidents, upon which many grave, and perhaps some profitable observations, might be made; but thess incidents never reaching my unfortunate ears, both the entertaining, narrative, and the reflections it might suggest, are to be annihilated and lost. I look back on the past week, and say, what did it produce? I ask the same question of the week preceding, and duly receive the same answer from both—nothing! A. situation like this, in which I am as unknown to the world, as I am ignorant of all that passes in it—in which I have nothing to do but to think, would exactly suit me, were my subjects of meditation as agreeable as my leisure is uninterrupted: my passion for retirement is not at all abated, after so many years spent in the most sequestered state, but rather increased; a circumstance, I should esteem wonderful, to a degree not to be accounted for, considering the condition of my mind, did I not know that we think as we are made to think, and of course, approve and prefer, as Providence, who appoints the bounds of our habitation, chooses for us. Thus, I am both free, and a prisoner at the same time. The world is before me; I am not shut up in the Bastile; there are no moats about my castle, no locks upon my gates, of which I have not the keys; but an invisible, uncontrollable agency, a local attachment, an inclination, more forcible than I ever felt, even to the place of my birth, serves me for prison walls, and for bounds, which I cannot pass. In former years I have known sorrow, and before I had ever tasted of spiritual trouble. The effect was, an abhorrence of the scene in which I had suffered so much, and a weariness of those objects which I had so long looked at with an eye of despondency and dejection. But it is otherwise with me now. The same cause subsisting, and in a much more powerful degree, fails to produce its natural effect. The very stones in the garden walls, are my intimate acquaintance. I should miss almost the minutest object, and be disagreeably affected by its removal, and am persuaded, that were it possible I could leave this incommodious nook for a twelvemonth, I should return to it again with raptures, and be transported with the sight of objects, which, to all the world beside, would be at least indifferent; some of them, perhaps, such as the ragged thatch, and the tottering walls, disgusting. But so it is, and it is so, because here is to be my abode, and because such is the appointment of Him who placed me in it. It is the place of all the world I love the most, not for any happiness it affords me, but because here I can be miserable with most convenience to myself, and with least disturbance to others."
In a letter to Mrs. Unwin's son, with whom he had now commenced a correspondence, he thus describes his feelings. "So long as I am pleased with an employment, I am capable of unwearied application, because my feelings are all of the intense kind; I never received a little pleasure from anything in my life; if I am delighted, it is in the extreme. The unhappy consequence of this temperature is, that my attachment to my occupation seldom outlives the novelty of it. That nerve of my imagination that feels the touch of any particular amusement, twangs under the energy of the pressure with so much vehemence, that it soon becomes sensible of weariness and fatigue."
Writing to Mr. Newton, 12th July, 1780, he thus again adverts to his own case. "Such nights as I frequently spend, are but a miserable prelude to the succeeding day, and indispose me, above all things, to the business of writing. Yet with a pen in my hand, if I am able to write at all, I find my self gradually relieved; and as I am glad of any employment that may serve to engage my attention, so especially I am pleased with an opportunity of conversing with you, though it be but upon paper. This occupation, above all others, assists me in that self-deception, to which I am indebted for all the little comfort I enjoy; things seem to be as they were, and I almost forget that they can never be so again. If I have strength of mind, I have not strength of body for the task, which, you say, some would impose upon me. I cannot bear much thinking. The meshes of that fine net-work, the brain, are composed of such mere spinner's threads in me, that when a long thought finds its way into them, it buzzes, and twangs, and bustles about, at such a rate, as seems to threaten the whole contexture."
To the same correspondent he writes on another occasion. "Your sentiments, with respect to me, are exactly like Mrs. Unwin's. She, like you, is perfectly sure of my deliverance, and often tells me so; I make her but one answer, and some times none all. That answer gives her no pleasure, and would give you. as little; therefore, at this time I suppress it. It is better on every account" that they who interest themselves so deeply in that event, should believe the certainty of it, than that they should not. It is a comfort to them, at least, if it be none to me, and as I could not, if I would, so neither would I, if I could, deprive them of it. If human nature may be compared to a piece of tapestry, (and why not?) when human nature, as it subsists in me, though it is sadly faded on the right side, retains all its colour on the wrong. At this season of the year, and in this gloomy and uncomfortable climate, it is no easy matter for the owner of a mind like mine, to divert it from sad subjects, and fix it upon such as may administer to its amusement. Poetry, above all things, is useful to me in this respect. While I am held in pursuit of pretty images, or a pretty way of expressing them, I forget everything that is irksome, and, like a boy that plays truant, determine to avail himself of the present opportunity to be amused, regardless of future consequences. It will not be long perhaps, before you will receive a poem, called the Progress of Error; that will be succeeded by another, in due time, called Truth. Don't be alarmed. I ride Pegasus with a curb. He will never run away .with me again. I have even convinced Mrs. Unwin, that I can manage him, and make him stop, when I please."
On another occasion he gives the following curious and pjayful description of himself. "I can compare this mind of mine to nothing that resembles it more, than to a board, that is under the carpenter's plane, (I mean while I am writing to you) the shavings are my uppermost thoughts; after a few strokes of the tool, it acquires a new surface; this again, upon a repetition of his task, Tie takes off, and a new surface still succeeds. Whether the shavings of the present day, will be worth your acceptance, I know not; I am unfortunately, made neither of cedar nor of mahogany, but Truncus Jiculnus, inutile lignum, consequently, though I should be planed till I am as thin as a wafer, it will be but rubbish at last."
To his cousin, Mrs. Cowper, he thus plaintively describes his feelings:—" My days steal away silently, and march on, (as poor mad Lear would have made his soldiers march) as if they were shod with felt; not so silently but that I hear them, yet were it not that I am always listening to their flight, having no infirmity that I had not when I was much younger, I should deceive myself with an imagination that I am still young. I am fond of writing, as an amusement, but do not always find it one. Being rather scantily furnished with subjects that are good for anything, and corresponding only with those who have no relish for such as are good for nothing, I often find myself reduced to the necessity, the disagreeable necessity, of writing about myself. This does not mend the matter much; for though, in a description of my own condition, I discover abundant materials to employ my pen upon, yet as the task is not very agreeable to me, so, I am sufficiently aware, that it is likely to prove irksome to others. A painter, who should confine himself, in the exercise of his art, to the drawing of his own picture, must be a wonderful coxcomb indeed, if he. did not soon grow sick of his occupation, and be peculiarly fortunate if he did not make others as sick as himself."
Notwithstanding. Cowper's depressive malady, yet his views of religion, even at that period, remained unaltered, and were as much distinguished for their excellence as ever. Writing to his friend, Mr. Unwin, the following judicious remarks occur, respecting keeping the sabbath:—"With respect to the advice you are required to give to a young lady, that she may be properly instructed in the manner of keeping the sabbath, I just subjoin a few hints that have occurred to me on the occasion. I think the sabbath may be considered, first, as a commandment, no less binding upon Christians than upon Jews. The spiritual people among them did not think it enough, merely to abstain from manual occupations on that day, but entering more deeply into the meaning of the precept, allotted those hours, they took from the world, to the cultivation of holiness in their own souls; which ever was, and ever will be, Incumbent upon all, who have the Scripture in their hands, and is of perpetual. obligation, both upon Jews and Christians ; the Commandment enjoins it, and the prophets have enforced it; and, in many instances, the breach of it has been punished with a providential severity, that has made bystanders tremble. Secondly, it may be considered as a privilege, which you will know how to dilate upon better than I can tell you; thirdly, as a sign of that covenant by which believers are entitled to a rest that yet remaineth; fourthly, as the sine qud rum of the Christian character, and upon this head, I should guard against being misunderstood to mean no more than two attendances upon public worship, which is a form, observed by thousands, who never kept a sabbath in their lives. Consistence is necessary to give substance and solidity to the whole. To sanctify the day at church, and to trifle it away out of church, is profanation, and vitiates all. After all, I should say to my catechumen, Do you love the day, or do you not! If you love it, you will never inquire how far you may safely deprive yourself of the enjoyment of it. If you do not love it, and you find yourself in conscience obliged to acknowledge it, that is an alarming symptom, and ought to make you tremble. If you do not love it, then it is a weariness to you, and you wish it over. The ideas of labour and rest, are not more opposite to each other than the idea of a sabbath, and that dislike and disgust, with which it fills the souls of thousands, to be obliged to keep it, it is worse than bodily labour."
To his cousin, Mrs. Cowper, he again writes:—" I know not what impressions time may have made upon your person, for while his claws, (as our grannams called.them), strike deep furrows in some faces, he seeras to sheath them with much tenderness, as if fearful of doing injury to others. But, though an enemy to the body, he is a friend to the mind, and you have doubtless found him so. Though, even in this re