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tion of Homer, the quiet and even tenor of his life was disturbed by the necessity he felt of parting with Lady Austen. A short extract from Mr. Hayley, will give this matter as clear explanation as delicacy can permit. They who cannot find an apology for the feelings of both ladies on this occasion, know but little of the human heart.

“Delightful and advantageous as his friendship with Lady Austen had proved, he now began to feel, that it grew impossible to preserve that triple cord, which his own pure heart had led him to suppose not speedily to be broken. Mrs. Unwin, though by no means destitute of mental accomplishments, was eclipsed by the brilliancy of the poet's new friend, and, naturally, became uneasy, under the apprehension of being so : for, to a woman of sensibility, what evil can be more afflicting, than the fear of losing all mental influence over a man of genius and virtue, whom she had long been accustomed to inspirit and to guide ?

“Cowper perceived the painful necessity of sacrificing a great portion of his present gratifica. tions. He felt that he must relinquish that ancient friend, whom he regarded as a venerable parent : or the new associate whom he idolized, as a sister of a heart and mind peculiarly congenial to his own. His gratitude for past services of unexam. pled magnitude, would not allow him to hesitate : with a resolution and delicacy, that do the highest honour to his feelings, he wrote a farewell letter to Lady Austen, explaining and lamenting the circumstances, that forced him to renounce the society of a friend whose enchanting talents and kindness had proved instrumental to the revival of his spirits, and to the exercise of his fancy.

“In those very interesting conferences with which I was honoured by Lady Austen, I was irre. sistibly led to express an anxious desire for the sight of a letter written by Cowper, in a situation that must have called forth all the finest powers of his eloquence as a monitor and a friend. The lady confirmed me in my opinion that a more admirable letter could not be written, and had it existed at that time, I am persuaded, from her noble frankness and zeal for the honour of the departed poet, she would have given me a copy ; but she ingenuously confessed, that in a moment of natural mortification, she burnt this very tender effusion. Had it been confided to my care, I am persuaded I should have thought it very proper for publication, as it displayed both the tenderness and magnanimi. ty of Cowper, nor could I have deemed it a want of delicacy towards the memory of Lady Austen, to exhibit a proof that, animated by the warmest admiration of the great poet, whose fancy she could so successfully call forth, she was willing to devote her life and fortune to his service and protection. The sentiment is to be regarded as honourable to the lady: it is still more honourable to the poet, that, with such feelings as rendered him perfectly sensible of all Lady Austen's fascinating power, he could return her tenderness with innocent gallantry, and yet resolutely preclude himself from her society, when he could no longer enjoy it without appearing deficient in gratitude towards the compassionate and generous guardian of his sequestered life. No person can justly blame Mrs. Unwin for feeling apprehensive that Cowper's intimacy with a lady of such extraordinary talents, might lead him into perplexities of which he was by no means aware. This remark was suggested by a few elegant and tender verses, addressed by the poet to Lady Austen, and shown to me by that lady

« Those who are acquainted with the unsuspecting innocence, and sportive gaiety of Cowper, would readily allow, if they had seen the verses to which I allude, that they are such as he might have ad

dressed to a real sister: but a lady only called by that endearing name, may be easily pardoned, if she was induced by them to hope that they might possibly be a prelude to a still dearer alliance. To me they appeared expressive of that peculiarity in his character, a gay and tender gallantry perfectly distinct from amorous attachment. If the lady who was the subject of the verses, had given them to me with a permission to print them, I should have thought the poet himself might have approved of their appearance, accompanied with such a commentary.”

Notwithstanding this interruption to his tranquillity, for such it certainly proved, although he was conscious that he had acted the part which was most honourable to him, he proceeded with the Ti. rocinium, and the other pieces which composed his second volume. These were published in 1785, and soon engaged the attention and admiration of the public in a way that left him no regret for the cool reception and slow progress of his first volume. Its success also obtained for him another female friend and associate, Lady Hesketh, his cousin, who had long been separated from him. Their intercourse was first revived by a correspondence, of which Mr. Hayley has published many interesting specimens, and says, with great truth, that Cowper's letters " are rivals to his poems in the rare excel. lence of representing life and nature with graceful and endearing fidelity.” In explaining the nature of his situation to Lady Hesketh, who began to reside at Olney in the month of June, 1786, he informs her, that he had lived twenty years with Mrs. Unwin, to whose affectionate care it was owing that he lived at all, and that for thirteen of those years he had been in a state of mind which made all her care and attention necessary. He informs her at the same time that dejection of spirits, wbich may have prevented many a man from becoming an author, made him one. He found employment necessary, and therefore took care to be constantly employed. Manual occupations do not engage the mind sufficiently, as he knew by experience, having tried many. But composition, especially of verse, absorbs it wholly. It was his practice, therefore, to write generally three hours in a morning, and in an evening he transcribed. He read also, but less than he wrote, for bodily exercise was necessary, and he never passed a day without it. All this shows that Cowper understood his own case most exactly, and that he was not one of those hypochondriacs who are said to give way to their disorder. No man could have discussed the subject with more perspicuity, or treated himself with more judgment. The returns of his malady, therefore, appear to have been wholly unavoidable, and wholly independent of his employment, whether of a religious or literary kind.

In October, 1785, he had reached the twentieth book of his translation of Homer, although, prebably, no part was finished as he could have wished. His stated number was forty lines each day, with transcription and revision. His immediate object was to publish the Homer by subscription, in order to add something to his income, which appears to have been always scanty ; and in this resolution he persisted, notwithstanding offers from his liberal bookseller far more advantageous than a subscription was then likely to produce. He seems to have felt a certain degree of pleasure, not wholly unmixed, in watching the progress of his subscription, and the gradual accession of names known to the learned world, or dear to himself by past recollections,

During the composition of this work, he at first declined what he had done before, showing specimens to his friends, and on this subject, indeed, his opinion seems to have undergone a complete

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change. To his friend Mrs. Unwin, who informert him that a gentleman wanted a sample, he says, with some humour, “ When I deal in wine, cloth, or cheese, I will give samples, but of verse, never. No consideration could have induced me to comply with the gentleman's demand, unless he could have assured me that his wife had longed." From this resolution he afterwards departed, in a variety of instances. He first sent a specimen, with the proposals, to his relation General Cowper: it consisted of one hundred and seven lines, taken from the interview between Priam and Achilles, in the last book. This specimen fell into the hands of Mr. Fuseli, the celebrated painter, whose critical knowledge of Homer is universally acknowledged; and Cowper likewise agreed, that if Mr. Maty, who then published a Review, wished to see a book of Homer, he should be welcome; and the first book and a part of the second were accordingly sent. Mr. Fuseli afterwards was permitted to revise the whole of the manuscript; and how well Cowper was satisfied in falling in with such a critic, appears (among other proofs of his high esteem) from the short character he gives of him in one of his letters. “For his knowledge of Homer, he has, I verily believe, no fellow.” Colman, likewise, his old companion, with whom he had renewed an epistolary intimacy, revised some parts, in a manner which afforded the author much satisfaction, and appears to have corrected the sheets for the press. With Maty he was less pleased, as his criticisms appeared “unjust, and, in part, illiberal.”

While thus intent on his Homer, he was enabled, by the kindness of Lady Hesketh, to remove (in November, 1796,) from Olney to Weston, about two miles distant, where the house provided for him was more sequestered and commodious. Here, too, he had access to the society of Mr. Throckmorton, a gentleman of fortune in that neighbour

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