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RESIDENCE IN THE TEMPLE. 39
her own affections were as deeply concerned as his; but the father absolutely refused his consent on account of their relationship. It was a deep, painful, disastrous disappointment, and unquestionably increased for a season his constitutional tendency to gloom and depression. He expressed his feelings in some affecting verses, which were sent to Lady Hesketh, the sister of the young lady whom he loved.
During his twelve years' residence in the Temple, he was member of a club consisting of several literary gentlemen, among whom were Thornton, Colman, Lloyd, and Joseph Hill, Esq., Cowper's constant correspondent for thirty years. Wilkes and Churchill, whose vigorous poetry Cowper admired, were of the same circle of associates. The character and life of some of these men of genius have been fitly characterized in three words, thoughtless extravagance and dissipation. Lloyd died, the victim of his own excesses, at the early age of thirty-one years. Colman, after an immoral life, died in a lunatic asylum. Such might have been Cowper's fate, had not the mercy of Divine providence and grace rescued him from a participation in such ruin. He had mixed with such companions on equal terms, Southey has remarked, till a time of life in which habits take so strong a hold that they are not easily cast off. The period of his early intimacy with Lloyd is
IN THE TEMPLE.
marked by a poetical epistle from Cowper to his friend in 1754, in which there occurs a reference to his own habitual depression of spirits, in lines that are to be marked as connected with the speedy development of his disorder. He remarks that he did not design, in writing verse, to rob his friend of his birthright to the inheritance, undivided, of Prior's easy jingle, nor to show his own genius or wit, possessing neither. Yet both were proved, and some of the strongest characteristics of the future poet are visible.
"'Tis not with either of these views
(Sworn foes to every thing that's witty)
Make cruel inroads in my brain,
And daily threaten to drive thence
My little garrison of sense.
The fierce banditti that I mean
Are gloomy thoughts, led on by spleen."
The deepening of this depression into almost horror and despair is marked in his own memoirs of himself, as well as the means he took to dissipate the gloom. He seems to have been for years successful in removing it, or at least keeping it at arm's length, and had it gone no further, it might have proved his irremediable ruin by continuing him in the society of his dissipated companions too long and late for any recovery. But it pleased
IN THE TEMPLE. 41
God that it should be permitted to deepen into absolute frenzy; and despair and suicide were made the providential angels that snatched Cowper from destruction.
STATE OF RELIGION IN ENGLAND AT THE TIME OF COWPER'S CONVERSION.-LADY HUNTINGDON.-MR. MADAN.-LORD BOLINGBROKE.-DR. STONEHOUSE.-DR. COTTON.-ROMAINE.-VENN.
SOME REMARKABLE INSTANCES OF GRACE.
THE year 1762, when Cowper was first under the cloud and passed through the sea, introductory to his being baptized, not unto Moses but into Christ, may be taken as the center of a most remarkable religious, if not literary period. We prefer it for a starting-point and vision of survey, to the year of the half century, mainly because it was nearer to the central development of the great religious awakening and revival in England, in which the revered and beloved Lady Huntingdon occupies a position so vital and important, so honored and admired. And Cowper's conversion was one of the fruits of that revival, one of the precious ingatherings to the fold of the Redeemer, under that same general dispensation of the Spirit under which Newton and Scott, Whitefield and Wesley, were made instruments of such amazing power and brightness in advancing the kingdom of God.
Cowper's afflictions first brought him within reach. of one of the eddies, as it were, of this mighty movement, in presenting him as the subject of deep spiritual distress to the Rev. Martin Madan for sympathy and guidance. Mr. Madan was a relative of Cowper, being the eldest son of Colonel Madan, who married the daughter of Judge Cowper, the brother of the lord-chancellor. Mr. Madan was one of Lady Huntingdon's preachers, so called, that is, occupying one of the chapels founded by that woman of such enlarged intelligence and devoted and fearless piety. Cowper had known him at an earlier period, but regarded him in the light in which all that circle of evangelical disciples of Christ were esteemed by the circle of aristocracy, wealth, and fashion, to which the poet by birth belonged, that is, as a misguided enthusiast. Mr. Madan had been educated in the study of the law, but being convinced of his condition as a lost sinner, and brought to a knowledge of the grace of the Gospel, became a preacher of Christ crucified, and was the founder and first chaplain of the Lock Hospital, a situation which Thomas Scott, the commentator and author of "The Force of Truth," afterward filled for a season.
Mr. Madan's conversion took place about ten years before Cowper's, and Cowper regarded him, during those years, as one of the enthusiasts, in consequence. The preaching of Wesley and the