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About this time he was advised to make application to Lord Thurlow, who had been one of bis juvenile companions, for some situation of emolument, but he declined this from motives of highly justifiable delicacy, intimating that he had hopes from that quarter, and that it would be better not to anticipate bis patron’s favours by solicitation. He afterwards sent a copy of his first volume of poems to his lordship, accompanied with a very elegant letter, and seems to murmur a little, on more occasions than one, at his lordship’s apparent neglect. A. correspondence took place between them at a more distant period, but whether from want of proper representation of his situation, or from forgetfulness, this nobleman's interest was employed when too late for the purpose which Cowper's friends hoped to promote. It will be difficult to impute a want of liberality to Lord Thurlow, while his voluntary and generous offer to Dr. Johnson remains on record.

In the mean time, Cowper continued to amuse himself by reading such new books as his friends could procure, with writing slurt pieces of poetry, tending his tame hares, and birds, and drawing landscapes, a talent which he discovered in himself very late in life, and which he employed with considerable skill. In all this perhaps there was not much labour, but it was not idleness. A short passage in one of his letters to the Rev. William Unwin, dated May, 1780, will serve to make the distinction. “Excellence is providentially placed beyond the reach of indolence, that success may be the reward of industry, and that idleness may be punished with obscurity and disgrace. So long as I am pleased with an employment, I am capable of unwearied application, because my feelings are all of the intense kind. I never received a little pleasure from any thing in my life: if I am delighted it is in the extreme. The unhappy consequence of Vol. XXXVI.

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ble influence of maternal protection. I wish tu pass rapidly over this calamitous period, and shall only observe, that nothing could surpass the sufferings of the patient, or excel the care of the nurse. That meritorious care received from heaven the most delightful of all rewards, in seeing the pure and powerful mind to whose restoration it contributed so much, not only gradually restored to the common enjoyments of life, but successively endowed with new and marvellous funds of diversified talents, and courageous application.”

His recovery was slow, and he knew enough of his malady to abstain from literary employment while his mind was in any degree unsettled. The first amusement which engaged his humane affections, was the taming of three hares, a circumstance that would have scarcely deserved notice unless among the memoranda of natural history, if he had not given it an extraordinary interest in every heart by the animated account he wrote of this singular family. In the mean time, his friends (Mrs. Unwin and Mr. Newton) redoubled their efforts to promote his happiness, and to reconcile him to the world, in which he bad yet a very important part to act: but as, in 1780, Mr. Newton was obliged to leave Olney, and accept of the living of St. Mary Woolnoth, London, he contrived to introduce Cowper to the friendship of the Rev. Mr. Bull, of Newport Pagnell. This gentleman, who had many excellent qualities to recommend him as a fit successor to Mr. Newton, soon acquired the unreserved confidence of our author.' It was at Mr. Bull's request that he translated several spiritual songs from the French of Madame De La Mothe Guion, which have since been published separately. His recovery from this second illness may be dated from the summer of 1778, after which he began to meditate those greater exertions upon which his fame rests.

About this time he was advised to make application to Lord Thurlow, who had been one of his juvenile companions, for some situation of emolument, but he declined this from motives of highly justifiable delicacy, intimating that he had hopes from that quarter, and that it would be better not to anticipate his patron's favours by solicitation. He afterwards sent a copy of his first volume of poems to his lordship, accompanied with a very elegant letter, and seems to murmur a little, on more occasions than one, at his lordship’s apparent neglect. A. correspondence took place between them at a more distant period, but whether from want of proper representation of his situation, or from forgetfulness, this nobleman's interest was employed when too late for the purpose which Cowper's friends hoped to promote. It will be difficult to impute a want of liberality to Lord Thurlow, while his voluntary and generous offer to Dr. Johnson remains on record.

In the mean time, Cowper continued to amuse himself by reading such new books as his friends could procure, with writing slrort pieces of poetry, tending his tame hares, and birds, and drawing landscapes, a talent which he discovered in himself very late in life, and which be employed with considerable skill. In all this perhaps there was not much labour, but it was not idleness. A short passage in one of his letters to the Rev. William Unwin, dated May, 1780, will serve to make the distinction. “Excellence is providentially placed beyond the reach of indolence, that success may be the reward of industry, and that idleness may be punished with obscurity and disgrace. So long as i am pleased with an employment, I am capable of unwearied application, because my feelings are all of the intense kind. I never received a little pleasure from any thing in my life: if I am delighted it is in the extreme. The unhappy consequence of VOL. XXXVI.

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this temperature is, that my attachment to any oecupation seldom outlives the novelty of it.

Urged, however, by his amiable friend and companion, Mrs. Unwin, he employed the wiuter of 1780-1, in preparing his first volume of poems for the press, consisting of the Table Talk, Hope, the Progress of Error, Charity, &c. But such was his diffidence of their success, that he appears to have been in doubt whether any bookseller would be willing to print them on his own account. He was fortunate enough, however, to find in Mr. Johnson of St. Paul's Church-yard, (his friend Mr. Newton's publisher,) one whose spirit and liberality immediately set his mind at rest. The volume was accordingly completed, and Mr. Newton furnished the preface, a circumstance which his biographer attributes to “his extreme diffidence in regard to himself, and his kind eagerness to gratify the af. fectionate ambition of a friend whom he tenderly esteemed." It was published in 1782.

The success of this volume was undoubtedly not equal to its merit, for his biographer has justly observed, “it exhibits such a diversity of poetical powers, as have been given very rarely, indeed, to any individual of the modern, or of the ancient world.” As an apology for the inattention of the public to a present of such value, Mr. Hayley has supposed that lie gave offence by his bold eulogy on Whitfield, “whom the dramatic satires of Foote in his comedy of the Minor, had taught the nation to deride as a mischievous fanatic;" and that he hazarded sentiments too precise and strict for pub. lic opinion. The character of Whitfield, however, had been long rescued from the buffooneries of Foote, and the public could now bear his eulogium with tolerable pacience.

It may be ad'ed that the volume was introduced into the worl without any of the quackish parade so frequentsy adopted, and bad none of those emheilishments by which the eye of the purchaser is caught at the expense of his pocket. The periodi. cal critics, whose opinions Cowper watched with more anxiety than could have been wished in a man so superior to the common candidates for poetic fame, were divided, and even those who were most favourable betrayed no extraordinary raptures. In the mean time the work crept slowly into notice, and acquired the praise of those who knew the value of such an addition to our stock of English poetry.

Some time before the publication of this volume, Mr. Cowper made a most important acquisition in the friendship and conversation of Lady Austen, (widow of Sir Robert Austen) whom he found a woman of elegant taste, and of such critical powers as enabled her to direct his studies by her judgment and encourage them by her praise. An accidental visit which this lady made to Olney served to introduce her to the poet, whose shyness generally gave way to a display of mental excellence and polished manners. In a short time, Lady Austen shared his esteem with his older friend Mrs. Unwin, although not without exciting some little degree of jealousy, which Mr. Hayley has noticed with his usual delicacy. Cowper, without at first suspecting that the feelings of Mrs. Unwin could be hurt, “considered the cheerful and animating society of his new accomplished friend, as a blessing conferred on him by the signal favour of Providence.” Some months after their first interview, Lady Austen quitted her house in London, and having taken up her residence in the parsonage house of Olney, Cowper, Mrs. Unwin, and she, became almost one family, dining always together alternately in the houses of the two ladies.

Among other small pieces which he composeu at the suggestion of Lady Austen, was the celebrated ballad of John Gilpin, the origin of which Alr. Hay

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