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PROCESS OF INSANITY.

his senses were continued to him, only, as he imagined, that he might look forward to the worst. We see the process of his insanity in these letters with a terrible distinctness; he himself, the victim, describing the symptoms and experiences step after step, till he can write no more, till we lose sight of him in the darkness, and can only imagine, what more than is related, his sensitive nature may have suffered, before the Redeemer, who was always with him, gave him an eternal deliverance. What David, amid the distraction of his terrors, could say, was not less true of Cowper, even when despair was too absolute to admit of his believing the consolation, "When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then Thou knewest my path!"

He says to Lady Hesketh, under date of January 22, 1796: "I have become daily and hourly worse ever since I left Mundesley; then I had something like a gleam of hope allowed me, that possibly my life might be granted to me for a longer time than I had been used to suppose, though only on the dreadful terms of accumulating future misery on myself, and for no other reason; but even that hope has long since forsaken me, and I now consider this letter as the warrant of my own dreadful end; as the fulfillment of a word heard in better days, at least six-and-twenty years ago. A word which to have understood at the time

INVOLUTIONS OF DESPAIR.

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when it reached me, would have been, at least might have been, a happiness indeed to me; but my cruel destiny denied me the privilege of understanding any thing, that, in the horrible moment came winged with my immediate destruction, might have served to aid me. You know my story far better than I am able to relate it. Infinite despair is a sad prompter. I expect that in six days' time, at the latest, I shall no longer foresee, but feel, the accomplishment of all my fears. Oh, lot of unexampled misery incurred in a moment! Oh, wretch! to whom death and life are alike impossible! Most miserable at present in this, that being thus miserable, I have my senses continued to me, only that I may look forward to the worst. It is certain, at least, that I have them for no other purpose, and but very imperfectly, even for this! My thoughts are like loose and dry sand, which the closer it is grasped, slips the sooner away. Mr. Johnson reads to me, but I lose every other sentence through the inevitable wanderings of my mind, and experience, as I have these two years, the same shattered mode of thinking on every subject, and on all occasions. If I seem to write with more connection, it is only because the gaps do not appear. Adieu !-I shall not be here to receive your answer, neither shall I ever see you Such is the expectation of the most desperate and most miserable of all beings."

more.

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FIRST AND LAST CRISIS.

Now if the readers of this letter will turn back to the description given of Cowper's state in his first dread conflict bordering on insanity, when he wished for madness as a relief from what to him seemed the worse misery of the dreaded public examination, for which he knew himself to be unfitted, there will be found a singular analogy between this latter crisis of Cowper's malady and the first. The cycle seemed to have been run, and he had come round to the point where he started. In both cases, he seemed to himself to have possession of his senses, only that he might know and calculate more certainly his coming doom. But in the first case, there was no awakened and regenerated conscience, and under the pressure of his misery he rushed madly to the purpose of self-destruction, bracing himself against whatever he might meet in the future world. Then, when conscience was roused and goaded into fury by the frustrated attempt at self-murder, it was her scorpion sting that inflicted the misery, and produced the gloom, in which he was buried till the face of Christ was revealed to him, and he received grace to believe.

But into the last crisis and conflict the element of an angry conscience did not once enter, nor of a rebellious will. He lay as still and submissive as a weaned child, though the subject at the same time of such dreadful despair, and of such dis

FIRST AND LAST CRISIS.

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torting and maddening delusions about the purposes of God in regard to him. If language like the outcries of Job sometimes gave utterance to his passionate grief, and he was almost ready to curse his day, yet he never questioned God's righteousness; nay, at times the very madness of the insanity was in this imagination, that God's truth and righteousness required his destruction. It is singularly interesting to compare the two extremes; the first, when he entered into his insanity from a careless and impenitent heart, and irreligious life; the last, when from a life of faith, patience, submission, meekness, prayer, and incessant effort after God, and with a conscience beyond question sprinkled by atoning blood, he went down for the last time into the same dreadful chaos and gloom, unirradiated by one gleam of hope, yet on the very verge of Heaven, immediately to emerge into its eternal light and glory!

Under date of February 19, 1796, Cowper again wrote to Lady Hesketh, in the same strain. "Could I address you as I used to do, with what delight should I begin this letter! But that delight, and every other sensation of the kind, has long since forsaken me forever. ** All my

themes of misery may be summed in one word. He who made me, regrets that ever He did. Many years have passed since I learned this terrible truth from Himself, and the interval has been spent ac

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DREAD OF DESERTION.

cordingly. Adieu-I shall write to you no more. I am promised months of continuance here, and should be somewhat less a wretch in my present feelings could I credit the promise, but effectual care is taken that I shall not. The night contradicts the day, and I go down the torrent of time into the gulf that I have expected to plunge into so long. A few hours remain, but among those few, not one is found, a part of which I shall ever employ in writing to you again. Once more, therefore, adieu, and adieu to the pen forever. I suppress a thousand agonies, to add only,

“W. C.”

It is a most affecting picture which is given at this time of Cowper's desolate and trembling state, and of the fearful apprehensions that beset him, by his kinsman Mr. Johnson, when he tells us that "the tender spirit of Cowper clung exceedingly to those about him, and seemed to be haunted with a continual dread that they would leave him alone in his solitary mansion. Sunday, therefore, was a day of more than ordinary apprehension to him, as the furthest of his kinsman's churches being fifteen miles from the Lodge, he was necessarily absent during the whole of the Sabbath. On these occasions, it was the constant practice of the dejected poet to listen frequently on the steps of the hall-door for the barking of dogs at a farm-house,

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