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To watch the storms, and hear the sky
MY DEAR SISTER,
You see my beginning-I do not know but in time I may proceed even to the printing of halfpenny Ballads-Excuse the coarseness of my paper-I wasted such a quantity before I could accomplish any thing legible, that I could not afford finer. I intend to employ an ingenious mechanic of the town to make me a longer case ; for you may observe, that my lines turn up their tails like Dutch mastiffs, so difficult do I find it to make the two halves exactly coincide with each other.
We wait with impatience for the departure of this unseasonable flood-We think of you, and talk of you, but we can do no more, till the waters shall subside. I do not think our correspondence should drop because we are within a mile of each other. It is but an ima
ginary approximation, the flood having in reality as effectually parted us, as if the British Channel rolled be. tween us. Yours, my dear Sister, with Mrs. Unwin's best love.
WM. COW PER. August 12, 1782.
A flood that precluded him from the conversation of such an enlivening friend was to Cowper a serious evil; but he was happily relieved from the apprehension of such disappointment in future, by seeing the friend so pleasing and so useful to him very comfortably settled as his next door neighbour
Lady Austen became a tenant of the Parsonage in Olney; when Mr. Newton occupied that Parsonage he had opened a door in the garden wall that admitted him, in the most commodious manner, to visit the sea questered Poet, who resided in the next house. Lady Austen had the advantage of this easy intercourse, and so captivating was her society, both to Cowper and to Mrs. Unwin, that these intimate neighbours might be almost said to make one family, as it became their custom to dine always together, alternately, in the houses of the two ladies.
The musical talents of Lady Austen induced Cowper to write a few songs of peculiar sweetness and pathos, to suit particular airs that she was accustomed to play on the Harpsichord. I insert three of these as proofs, that even in his hours of social amusement, the Poet loved to dwell on ideas of tender devotion and pathetic solemnity.
No longer a dream I pursue :
Unattainable treasure, adieu !
I have sought thee in splendour and dress;
In the regions of pleasure and taste :
But have prov'd thee a vision at last.
The voice of true wisdom inspires; 'Tis sufficient if Peace be the scope,
And the summit of all our desires.
Peace may be the lot of the mind,
That seeks it in meekness and love; But rapture and bliss are confin'd
To the glorified Spirits above.
How Nature seems to smile!
Delights that never cease,
The livelong day beguile.
With open hand she showers
And soothe the silent hours.
It is content of heart
Gives Nature power to please ;
Enlivens all it sees;
Seem bright as smiling May,
As peep of early day.
So beauteously array'd
With wond'rous skill display'da
A dreary wild at best:
And longs to be at rest.
I add the following Song (adapted to the March in Scipio) for two reasons; because it is pleasing tò promote the celebrity of a brave man, calamitously cut off in his career of honour, and because the Song was a favourite production of the Poet's; so much so, that, in a season of depressive illness, he amused himself by translating it into Latin verse.