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must have worked mischief, must have absorbed and triumphed over the graver meditative power of his imagination, and might have ruled in his works to the exclusion of serious and religious themes, instead of sparkling in them, and sweetly, richly coloring and enlivening them. The tend

ency and habit of jocoseness, indulged and cherished, have gone sometimes even in clergymen to an extreme that has quite destroyed their usefulness; and, had it not been for Cowper's mental depression, perhaps he would have continued in life just as he says he set out, only to giggle and to make giggle. With such an exhilarating fountain of humor and enjoyment of wit, and such an irresistible proneness to laughable and comic description, had he been permitted by uninterrupted. health and elasticity of spirits to mingle freely with the polished circles of his family in high and fashionable life, the society by which he must have been surrounded would have borne him away upon its surface, and he never would have been known as "England's Christian poet." Perhaps it was necessary, for the consecration of his genius to the highest themes, to mingle that gloom of depression in the habit of his heart; if so, then that exquisitely beautiful hymn, composed on the eve of his madness, had a meaning extended over his whole life, of which he little dreamed.



PERFORMANCE in this world is often prevented by theoretical perfection; and one evil has to be set to keep guard over another. The skillful workman has to prepare his finest gold for use and workmanship with a portion of alloy. A cold day in nature is sometimes necessary to set the vegetation; and storms are necessary to prevent even our finest weather from injuring us. Cowper's native tendency to social pleasantry and humor perhaps needed to be chastened, or at least balanced, for under all his gloom the drollest recollections were sometimes uppermost in his mind. The only thing he remembered of his friend Hill's poetry in the Nonsense Club, in their early days, was the Homeric line, "To whom replied the Devil, yardlong tailed." Such snatches of ludicrous recollections he is continually presenting in his letters; one of them to Newton he finishes with a reference



to Dr. Scott, of the close of whose sermon he gives Newton an account of a droll blunder made by the preacher, who, quoting a passage of Scripture, said to his hearers, "Open your wide mouths, and I will fill them.”

Now nothing is more delightful, more genial, and congenial than such a disposition. Deliver us from men who can not relish pleasantry, and, if need be, even in the midst of misery; such men can not have your entire confidence, but are to be held as Shakspeare or Luther would have regarded men who hated music. "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." But the ceaseless thirst and craving for amusement and merriment, as if it were the whole of life, is a fever that dries and consumes the soul more fatally. A creature constituted with a very keen relish for the pleasures of a merry circle, and habituated to rely upon them, is not fitted to encounter any change of weather, or to ride through rough seas. Such a person is like a vessel carelessly loaded with such materials, that there is danger of a sudden shifting of the cargo, and inevitable shipwreck in consequence.

Luxury gives the mind a childish cast,
And while she polishes, perverts the taste.
Habits of close attention, thinking heads,
Become more rare as dissipation spreads,
Till authors hear at length one general cry,
Tickle and entertain us, or we die.



Ꮋ Ꭼ Ꭺ Ꭱ Ꭲ .

There is a higher quality. "Is any merry? Let him sing psalms ;" that taste and faculty is the celestial balance in the soul. If any man has learned to do that with the heart, he has learned it on such grounds as have taught him most solemnly and profoundly the madness of the man of mere mirthfulness; but there is room for happiness and joy in his affections, his mind, his whole being, to the utmost extent to which occasion may ever call for merriment. But until he has learned to do that, until he has gained that hope which is an anchor in eternity, the end of his mirth is heaviness; for, "Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry," is the rule, but the heart of fools is in the house where such mirth reigns, and folly is joy, and joy is folly to him that is destitute of wisdom.

That proverb also is as full of truth as pithiness, that "the laughter of fools is like the crackling of thorns under a pot;" and persons who live for nothing but to giggle and make giggle are the most unmirthful beings in the world. Cowper's early associates, when he knew nothing higher or better than worldly mirth, were sad illustrations. A creature suddenly paralyzed and stiffened in the act and attitude of boisterous laughter would be a hideous sight; but an immortal being who knows nothing but giggling and merriment, and imagines that life has no other end than such uninterrupted enjoyment,




would be, to spiritual spectators at least, a much more deplorable spectacle.

How beautiful, in this connection, are Cowper's lines on social life and conversation, along with that exquisite picture of the walk to Emmaus. Well might Cowper ask,

Is sparkling wit the world's exclusive right?
The fixed fee-simple of the vain and light?

Nay, does it not much rather belong to those who have received in fee-simple an eternal inheritance of love, joy, peace? Assuredly the hope of heaven can not quench or obscure the play of a faculty whose happiest permanent abode is in that mind which is the most serene and thoughtful. Piety restrains and curbs its wantonness, and prevents it from assuming the part of the mere trifler, and thus at the same time gives it a usefulness unknown before, and makes it shine the brighter for its purification. Such conclusions were the fruits of Cowper's own experience, having tried both the paths of this world's merriment and of religious peace and joy; and he has thrown the celestial knowledge he had gained into some of the most beautiful lessons and pictures of his poetry.

The mind dispatched upon her busy toil,

Should range where Providence has bless'd the soil;
Visiting every flower with labor meet,

And gathering all her treasures, sweet by sweet,

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