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proach the coast so closely, that a man, furnished with better eyes than mine, might I doubt not discern the sailors from the window. No situation, at least when the weather is clear, can be more pleasant; which you will easily credit, when I add, that it imparts something a little resembling pleasure, even to me. Gratify me with news of Weston ! If Mr. Gregor, and your neighbours the Courtenays, are there, mention me to them in such terms as you see good. Tell me, if my poor birds are living? I never see the herbs I used to give them, without a recollection of them, and sometimes am ready to gather them, forgetting that I am not at home.”
In the beginning of October, 1795, Mr. Johnson took the two interesting invalids to his own residence at Dereham, where they remained about a month, when they removed to Dunham Lodge, which was then unoccupied, and was pleasantly situated in a park, a few miles from Swaffham, and which from that time became their settled residence. Here they were constantly attended by two of the most interesting females that could possibly have been selected, Miss Johnson and Miss Perowne. The latter took so lively an interest in Cowper's welfare, and exerted so much ingenuity, in attempting to produce some alleviation of his sufferings, that he ever afterwards honoured her with his peculiar regard, and preferred her attendance to that of every other individual by whom he was surounded; and she continued her kind attention to him to the close of his life. The providence of God (as Mr. Hayley justly remarks) was strikingly displayed towards Cowper, in supplying him with attendants, during the whole of his life, peculiarly suited to the exigencies of mental dejection.”
Cowper's melancholy depression still remained unalleviated. In June, 1796, however, an incident occurred, which for a time, though it removed not his dejection, revived the
spirits of his friends, and cheered them with the hope of his ultimate recovery. Mr. Johnson invariably procured copies of all such new publications as were likely to interest the mind of Cowper; and as Cowper had discontinued the use of his pen, and manifested considerable disinclination to read himself, Mr. Johnson kindly undertook to read these publications to his relative whenever suitable opportunities offered. About this time Mr. Wakefield published his edition of Pope's Homer. It occurred to Mr. Johnson, who always readily embraced the slightest incident that seemed likely to diminish the anguish of his afflicted relative, that this work might probably excite the poet's attention sufficiently to rouse him, in some degree, from his dejection. He immediately, therefore, procured a copy, and ingeniously placed it in a conspicuous part of a large unfrequented room, through which he knew Cowper would have to pass, in his way from Mrs. Unwin's apartments, and in which, he was aware, it was Cowper's practice, daily, to take some turns, observing previously to his afflicted relative, that the work contained some occasional comparison of Pope with Cowper. The plan succeeded far beyond Mr. Johnson's expectation : to his agreeable surprise, he discovered, the next day, that Cowper had not only found the passages to which he had adverted, but had corrected his translation at the suggestion of some of them. Perceiving that the poet's attention was arrested, it was vigilantly cherished by the utmost efforts of Mr. Johnson; and from that time Cowper regularly engaged in a revisal of his own version, and for sone weeks produced almost sixty new lines a-day. He continued this occupation so steadily, and with so much deliberation, that all his friends began to rejoice, at the prospect of his almost immediate recovery. Their hopes, however, were of short duration. In a few weeks he again relapsed into the same state of hopeles depression. In the ensuing autumn, Mr. Johnson again made trial of a change of air, and of scene, and removed the family to the delightful village of Mundesley. No apparent benefit, however, resulted from this change, and towards the close of Oct. 1796, it was thought desirable to remove the family to Mr. Johnson's house at Dereham, and to remain there during the winter, as the Lodge was at too great a distance from Mr. Johnson's churches.
In the following December it became evident that Mrs. Unwin's life was rapidly drawing to a close ; she had been gradually sinking for a considerable time; and on the seventeenth day of this month, in the 720 year of her age, she peacefully, and without a groan, or a sigh, resigned her happy spirit into the hands of God. Her life had been eminently distinguished by the most fervent and unaffected piety, which she had displayed in circumstances the most trying and afflicting, and her end was peace. The day before she expired, Cowper, as he had long been accustomed to do at regular periods, spent a short time with his afflicted and long-tried friend; and though to his inmates he appeared so absorbed in his own mental anguish, as to take little, if any notice of her condition, it was evident afterwards that he clearly perceived how fast she was sinking; for, as a faithful servant of himself and his afflicted friend, was opening the window of his chamber the following morning, he addressed her in a tone the most plaintive and affecting, “ Sally, is there life above stairs !” a convincing proof that the acuteness of his own anguish had not prevented him from bestowing great attention to the sufferings of his aged friend. He saw her, for the last time, about an hour before she expired; and, notwithstanding the intensity of his own distress, he was much affected, though he clearly perceived that she enjoyed the utmost tranquillity. He saw the corpse once after her decease; and after looking at it attentively for a short time, he suddenly withdrew, under the influence of the strongest emotions. She was buried in Dereham church, on the 23d December, 1796, and a marble tablet was raised to her memory, with the following inscription :
IN MEMORY OF
MOTHER OF THE REV. WILLIAM CAWTHORN UNWIN,
BORN AT ELY, 1724.
Trusting in God with all her heart and mird,
Had Cowper been in the enjoyment of health, and had his mind been entirely free from his gloomy forebodings, at the time of Mrs. Unwin's decease, so tender and lively were his feelings, that it would undoubtedly have proved him one of the severest shocks he had ever experienced. Such, however, was the influence of his melancholy depression, that he never afterwards adverted to the event, even in the most distant way, nor did he even make the slightest enquiries respecting her funeral. A more striking proof of the intense anguish of his own sufferings cannot possibly be given. Dreadful, indeed, must have been those feelings that could have produced an insensibility so great in his tender mind, for the loss of such a friend!
In the summer of 1797, Cowper's health appeared in some measure to improve, and in the following September, at the earnest entreaty of his kinsmen, he again resumed the revisal of his Homer; and, notwithstanding the severity of his mental anguish, he persevered in it, with some occasional interruption, till the eighth of May, 1799, on which day he completed the work. It was evidently owing to the rare talents exerted by Mr. Johnson on the mind of Cowper, that he was induced to bring this great work to a successful close. And it would have been exceedingly difficult, if not utterly impossible, to have found an individual who could, with so much tenderness, have exerted an influence so beneficial over the distressed mind of the poet. He was, however, indefatigable in his efforts to divert his mind from the melancholy depression which spread its pernicious influence over his soul. And, during the whole of the summer of 1798, he endeavoured, by frequent change of scene, sometimes residing for a week or two at Mundesley, and then returning to Dereham, to restore the mind of his revered relative to its proper tone. And though he had not the satisfaction to see his efforts crowned with complete success, yet he was pleased to perceive them prove in some degree, at least, beneficial to the interesting sufförer In his sketch of Cowper's life, published in the last edition of the poet's works, he “records it as a subject of much gratitude, thata merciful Providence should again have appointed his afflicted relative the employment alluded to, as, more than any thing else, it diverted his mind from a contemplation of its miseries, and seemed to extend his breathing, which was at other times short, to a depth of respiration more compatible with ease.”
The happy means pursued by Mr. Johnson to induce Cowper to complete the revisal of his Homer, and its successful result, ought not to go unrecorded. He thus re