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me to the other situation. I was well aware of the disproportion between the value of the appointments, but my peace was gone: pecuniary advantages were not equivalent to what I had lost; and I flattered myself that the Clerkship of the Journals would fall, fairly and easily, within the scope of my abilities. Like a man in a fever, I thought a change of posture would relieve my pain, and, as the event will show, was equally disappointed. My friend, at length, after considerable reluctance, accepted of my resignation, and appointed me to the least profitable office. The matter being thus settled, something like a calm took place in my mind: I was, indeed, not a little concerned about my character, being aware that it must needs suffer by the strange appearance of my proceeding. This, however, being but a small part of the anxiety I had labored under, was hardly felt when the rest was taken off. I thought my path towards an easy maintenance was now plain and open, and, for a day or two, was tolerably cheerful: but behold, the storm was gathering all the while, and the fury of it was not the less violent from this gleam of sunshine.""A strong opposition to my friend's right of nomination began to show itself. A powerful party was formed among the lords to thwart it, and it appeared plain, that if we succeeded at last, it could only be by righting our ground by inches. Every advantage, I was told, would be sought for, and eagerly seized, to disconcert us. I was led to expect an examination at the bar of the house, touching my sufficiency for the post I had taken. Being necessarily ignorant of the nature of that business, it became expedient that I should visit the office daily, in order to qualify myself for the strictest scrutiny. All the horror of my fears and perplexities now returned; a thunderbolt would have been as welcome to me as this intelligence. I knew that, upon such terms, the Clerkship of the Journals was no place for me. To require my attendance at the bar of the House, that I might there publicly entitle myself to the office, was, in effect, to exclude me from it. In the mean time, the interest of my friend, the causes of his choice, and my own reputation and circumstances, all urged me forward, and pressed me to undertake that which I saw to be impracticable. They whose spirits are formed like mine, to whom a public exhibition of themselves, on any occasion, is mortal poison, may have some idea of the horror of my situation—others can have none. My continual misery at length brought on a nervous fever: quiet forsook me by day, and peace by night; even a finger raised against me seemed more than I could bear.""In this posture of mind, I attended regularly at the office, where, instead of a soul upon the rack, the most active spirits were essential to my purpose. I expected no assistance from any one there, all the inferior clerks being under the influence of my opponents; accordingly, I received none. The Journal books were, indeed, thrown open to me; a thing which could not be refused, and from which, perhaps, a man in health, with a head turned to business, might have gained all the information wanted. But it was not so with me. I read without perception, and was so distressed, that had every clerk in the office been my friend, it would have availed me little, for I was not in a condition to receive instruction, much less to elicit it from manuscripts, without direction." The following extract from a letter to his amiable cousin, Lady Hesketh, written 9th August, 1763, through which runs that happy mixture of what may not perhaps improperly be termed playful seriousness, which distinguishes almost the whole of his epistolary productions, and imparts to them a charm superior to that of almost any other writer, will illustrate the state of his mind at that period. "Having promised to write to you, I make haste to be as good as my word. I have a pleasure in writing to you at any time, but especially at the present, when my days are spent in reading the Journals, and my nights in dreaming of them, an employment not very agreeable to a head that has long been habituated to the luxury of choosing its subject, and has been as little employed upon business, as if it had grown upon the shoulders of a much wealthier gentleman. But the numscull pays for it now, and will not presently forget the discipline it has undergone lately. If I succeed in this doubtful piece of promotion, I shall have at least the satisfaction to reflect upon, that the volumes I write will be treasured up with the utmost care for ages, and will last as long as the English constitution, a duration which ought to satisfy the vanity of any author. Oh, my good cousin! if I was to open my heart to you, I could show you strange sights; nothing, I flatter myself, that would shock you, but a good deal that would make you wonder. I am of a very singular temper, and very unlike all the men that I have ever conversed with. Certainly I am not an absolute fool; but I have more weakness than the greatest of all fools I can recollect at present. In short, if I was as fit for the next world as I am unfit for this—and God forbid that I should speak it in vanity—I would not change conditions with any saint in Christendom. Ever since I was born, I have been good at disappointing the most natural expectations. Many years ago, cousin, there was a possibility that I might prove a very different thing from what I am at present. My character is now fixed, and riveted fast upon me; and, between friends, is not a very splendid one, or likely to be guilty of much fascination." Many months was Cowper thus employed, constant in the use of means to qualify himself for the office, yet despairing as to the issue. At length he says,"The vacation being pretty far advanced, I repaired to Margate. There, by the help of cheerful company, a new scene, and the intermission of my painful employment, I presently began to recover my spirits; though even here, for some time after my arrival, (notwithstanding, perhaps, the preceding day had been spent agreeably, and without any disturbing recollection of my circumstances,) my first reflections, when I awoke in the morning, were horrible and full of wretchedness. I looked forward to the approaching winter, and regretted the flight of every moment which brought it nearer, like a man borne away, by a rapid torrent, into a stormy sea, whence he sees no possibility of returning, and where he knows he cannot subsist. By degrees, I acquired such a facility in turning away my thoughts from the ensuing crisis, that, for weeks together, I hardly adverted to it at all: but the stress of the tempest was yet to come, and was not to be avoided by any resolution of mine to look another way.""How wonderful are the works of the Lord, and his ways past finding out! Thus was he preparing me for an event which I least of all expected, even the reception of his blessed gospel, working by means which, in all human contemplation, must needs seem directly opposite to that purpose, but which, in his wise and gracious disposal, have, I trust, effectually accomplished it." In October, 1763, Cowper was again required to attend the office, and prepare for the final push. This recalled all his fears, and produced a renewal of all his former misery. On revisiting the scene of his previous ineffectual labors, he felt himself pressed by difficulties on either side, with nothing before him but prospects of gloom and despair. He saw that he must either keep possession of the situation to the last extremity, and thus expose himself to the risk of public rejection for his insufficiency, or relinquish it at once, and thus run the hazard of ruining his benefactor's right of appointment, and losing the only chance he seemed to have of procuring for himself a comfortable competence for life, and of being united to the individual to whom he was most tenderly and affectionately attached. His terrors on this occasion had become so overwhelming, as to induce that lamented aberration of mind under which he is generally known to have suffered. The dreadful apprehensions which for so long a time had haunted him day and night, leaving him not a moment's interval of peace, had, at length, wound him up to the highest pitch of mental agony. The anguish of his lacerated spirit was inconceivable. The idea of appearing in public was, to his gentle but amiable mind, even more bitter than death. To his disordered perception there appeared no possibility for him to escape from the horrors of his situation, but by an escape from life itself. Death, which he had always shuddered at before, he began ardently to wish for now. He could see nothing before him but difficulties perfectly insurmountable. The supposed ruined state of his pecuniary circumstances — the imagined contempt of his relations and acquaintance — and the apprehended prejudice he should do his patron, urged the fatal expedient upon his shattered intellect, which he now meditated with inexpressible energy. At this important crisis, when it pleased God, who giveth not to man an account of his proceedings, to permit a cloud, darker than midnight, to gather round the mind of the poet, so that he saw no possible way of escape but the one above alluded to, and when he peculiarly needed the counsel of some judicious and kind friend, it so happened

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