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the weak mind, of encouraging the timid and trembling believer, of lifting up the weak hands that were hanging down, wiping the tear of sorrow from the mournful eye, and directing the Christian to look alone to heaven for support in all his difficulties. His poems abound with passages the most tender and consolatory ; enforcing with an eloquence, persuasive and almost irresistible, humble submission to the Divine will, in circumstances the most discouraging. The following lines, forming part of a poetic epistle to a lady in France, show how admirably he could pour the healing oil of comfort into the wounded spirits of others, though he was unable to assuage the grief of his own.
“ The path of sorrow, and that path alone,
Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown;
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM COWPER.
Thy tears all issue from a source divine,
And every drop bespeaks a Saviour thine.” Notwithstanding the almost unmitigated severity of Cow. per's sufferings, there were seasons in which he enjoyed some internal tranquillity, and was enabled to exercise a trembling, if not an unshaken confidence in the Almighty. It was undoubtedly on one of these occasions that he penned the following lines
“ I see, or think I see,
A glimmering from afar-
Had it not been for Cowper's depressive malady, he would certainly have been, on all occasions, the most lively and agreeable companion. Even as it was, it must not be imagined that in his conversation he was never sprightly and cheerful. Frequently, when his own heart was suffused with grief, arising from the severity and peculiarity of his malady, such an air of innocent pleasantry and humour, delicate and perfectly natural, ran through his conversation and correspondence, as could not fail to delight all who happened to be in his company, or who were occasionally favoured with the productions of his pen. It would be easy to produce proofs. of this, both from his poetic and prose productions. His rhyming letter, to Mr. Newton, in which there is such a happy mixture of the grave and the gay, as no other writer could produce, evinces the occasional sprightliness of of his mind." My very dear friend, I am going to send, what, when you have read, you may scratch your head, and say, I
suppose there's nobody knows, whether what I have got, be verse or not; by the tune and the time, it ought to be rhyme, but if it be, did ever you see, of late or yore, such a ditty before ?
“I have writ charity, not for popularity, but as well as I could, in hopes to do good; and if the reviewer, should say, to be sure, the gentleman's muse, wears Methodist shoes, you may know by her pace, and talk about grace, that she and her bard, have little regard, for taste and fashions, and ruling passions, and hoydening play, of the modern day; and
though she assume a borrowed plume, and now and then wear a tittering air, 'tis only her plan to catch if she can, the giddy and gay, as they go that way, by a production on a new construction; she has baited her trap, in hopes to snap, all that may come, with a sugar-plum. His opinion in this will not be amiss; 'tis what I intend, my principal end, and if I succeed, and folks should read till a few are brought to a serious thought, I shall think I am paid, for all I have said, and all I have done, though I have run, many a time, after a rhyme, as far as from hence, to the end of my sense, and by hook or by crook, write another book, if I live and am here
66 I have heard before, of a room with a floor, laid upon springs, and such like things, with so much art, in every part, that when you went in, you were forced to begin a minuet
pace, with an air and a grace, swimming about, now in and now out, with a deal of state, in a figure of eight, without pipe or string, or any such thing; and now I have writ, in a rhyming fit, what will make you dance, and as you advance, will keep you still, though against your will, dancing away, alert and gay, till you come to an end, of what I have penned, which that you may do, ere madam and you, are quite worn out, with jigling about, I take my leave, and here you receive, a bow profound, down to the ground, from your
W. C." The following jeu d' esprit, written by the poet, as descriptive of one of his rural excursions, through the whole of which runs a strain of pleasantry, innocent, and perfectly natural, shows that his life was not one unbroken series of despair, but that he enjoyed, occasionally, at least, some lucid intervals, when, to gratify his friends, he would trifle in rhyme with an affectionate and endearing gaiety. As it has never been published in any of his works, the reader will not regret its having a place here.
I sing of a journey to Clifton, *
We would have performed if we could;
Sle, sla, slud,
Stuck in the mud,
* A village near Olney.
So away we went slipping and sliding,
Hop, hop,-a la mode de deux frogs ; 'Tis near as good walking as riding, When ladies are dressed in their clogs.
Wheels no doubt,
Go briskly about, But they clatter, and rattle, and make such a rout.
“ Well—now I protest it is charming,
How finely the weather improves; That cloud, though, is rather alarming,
How slowly and stately it moves.”
“Pshaw ! never mind,
'Tis not in the wind, We are travelling south and shall leave it behind."
“ I am glad we are come for an airing,
For folks may be pounded and penn'd, Until they grow rusty, not caring
To stir half a mile to an end."
" The longer we stay,
The longer we may ;
“But now I begin to be frighted,
If I fall what a way I should roll! I am glad the bridge was indicted,
Stay! stop! I am sunk in a hole."
“Nay, never care,
'Tis a common affair; You ’ll not be the last that will set a foot there."
“ Let me breathe now a little and ponder,
On what it were better to do ;
" So think I,
But by the bye,
“But should we get there, how shall we get home;
What a terrible deal of bad road we have pass’d,
Oh, this lane !
Now it is plain,
“Stick fast there, while I go and look."
“ Don't go away for fear I should fall ;”
“I have examined it every nook,
Come wheel around,
The dirt we have found,
Now sister Ann,* the guitar you must take,
Set it and sing it, and make it a song ;
'Tis hobbling and lame,
Which critics won't blame, For the sense and the sound they say should be the same. As a writer, Cowper's powers of description, both in