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eight years may be called many in a life of such experience as his; he lived that space of time at once, almost uninterrupted, in serene enjoyment of religious peace, with great delight in religious duties, in habits of communion with his God and Saviour, the sacredness and sweetness of which only his own exquisite poetry could delineate. To the power so gained, the habits so formed, the grace so long baptizing him, he owed the enjoyment and heavenly exercise of his mental faculties, even when he seemed to himself as a spectre shrouded in mental gloom. All that while, his sun was not withdrawn, but though clouds and darkness intercepted its light, so that he had little or no comfort and joy of its direct shining, yet his life went on beneath its sanctifying influence, and the productions of his genius grew in its holy radiance. A gloomy day, though not a day of sunshine, is still a day of sunlight; a day, because the sun has risen, and is running his appointed course; and though the eye may not behold him, yet the life of nature plays beneath his power.


Moreover, not only was it the regeneration of Cowper's heart, and his first enjoyment of the peace of God that passeth all understanding," that preserved his mind from utter shipwreck, but it was Divine grace that transfigured and created anew his native genius. By no possibility could he ever, in the exercise of his native powers, had



they not been supernaturally illuminated, have accomplished what he did, not even if his mind had always been as serene and sane as Shakspeare's, though no shadow of eclipse had darkened his reason, nor any cloud of gloom disturbed his mental faculties. The glory of another world, not this, shines through his poetry, and by the inspiration of a higher grace than that of native genius merely, his imagination was raised to behold it, or rather its glory fell upon his imagination through the vision of his heart.

And, in truth, it is the religion of Cowper's poetry that constitutes its grand all-ruling charm, even with the irreligious world, though many would not be willing to acknowledge it. The sweet religious influence surrounds and pervades it like an atmosphere. It is an atmosphere so serene, so sacred, so transparent, that the commonest scenery is rendered beautiful and attractive by it. The same themes, the same thoughts, the same circumstances, would have been wholly different, and inferior in interest, had there been a different atmosphere, unirradiated by the coloring of a profound spiritual experience. Moral and economical truth itself became religious, in passing through his mind, and the proverbs of this world's wisdom received a transfiguration from the presence of higher realities, connecting them with the spiritual world.



The same subjects, in the same style, and by a genius not inferior to Cowper's, might have been presented; but, without the omnipresent charm of Cowper's piety, they would have been comparatively unattractive.

There is a tenderness and pensiveness arising from the very imperfection of that piety, that is, from its personal quality of despondency, which his poetry could not have possessed except for the peculiarity of his own experience. His subjective despair, like some of the stops in a great organ, has communicated an indefinable charm to the strains of his melody, without changing either the combination or individuality of the notes. His genius, under the influence of his piety, was like a piano with the Eolian attachment, rendering the whole an instrument of a vastly higher order. Men of the world were attracted, without knowing what it was that peculiarly attracted them. Even the philosopher Franklin, after long abjuration of poetry, was delighted with Cowper's first volume, and while he has given the reasons for his admiration, according to his philosophic judgment and excellent common sense, there was still the invisible, indefinable charm, which he knew not, or could not recognize, or name, but without which we are sure he would not have been so deeply moved. It was the tone of the soul, renewed by Divine grace, and so renewed, that whatever subject occupied it,



whatever wind swept over the Harp of Immortality, the strains breathed forth would carry something of that celestial influence.

We suppose that if an angel, concealed amid a throng of revelers, were to sing "Auld Lang Syne,” there would be such a tone of heaven in the melody, such a deep soul of spiritual character and power inspiring it, and breathing from it, that the merriment would cease, and the voice of the revelers be hushed in solemn silence. A spell mysterious and irresistible would steal upon the heart, and the sentiment of evil would be overawed by the presentiment of good, the present, though unknown and unacknowledged soul of holiness. And we may suppose that if one of the melodies of heaven could be sung by a lost spirit of the world of woe, concealed in human shape among the choir of a Christian assembly, there would be that irresistible character and soul of despair prevailing over the joy of the song, that the whole multitude of listeners might be melted into tears, or awed in a mysterious dread, unconscious of the cause, instead of yielding to the joy of an anthem of glory. The power of perfect and domineering character is itself absorbing and supreme, and combined with genius, or when genius creates its expression, there is the charm of a personal presence in every thing that the author writes.



It may be named as another effect of Cowper's despondency, and of the peculiarity of God's discipline with him, that in weaning him from the world, and making its vanities indifferent to him, it likewise so effectually broke his pride, and purified his moral and mental vision from the spirit of self-seeking; so that while hope as to another world was almost suspended, the common motives as to this world were suspended or inactive also, in a great degree; so that truth comes to us in his poetry with a sincerity and artlessness, an unambitious simplicity, purity, and beauty, which is as the very reflection of the firmament of heaven thrown on us without spot or wrinkle from the mirror of his mind. The rays of truth and of celestial wisdom were not, in his case, refracted by the ordinary medium of ambition, the thirst for human applause; but came straight through his

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