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aunt Madan to desire Martin to assist us with his inquiries, It is probable we shall stay here till Michaelmas.
July 16, 1767.
Your wishes that the newspaper may have misinformed you are vain. Mr. Unwin is dead, and died in the manner there mentioned. At nine o'clock on Sunday morning he was in perfect health, and as likely to live twenty years as either of us, and before ten was stretched speechless and senseless upon a flock bed in a poor cottage, where it being impossible to remove him) he died on Thursday evening. I heard his dying groans, the effect of a great agony, for he was a strong man, and much convulsed in his last moments. The few short intervals of sense that were indulged him, he spent in earnest prayer, and in expressions of a firm trust and confidence in the only Saviour. To that strong hold we must all resort at last, if we would have hope in cur death; when every other refuge fails, we are glad to fly to the only shelter, to which we can repair to any purpose; and happy is it for us when the false ground we have chosen for ourselves being broken under us, we find ourselves obliged to have recourse to the Rock which can never be shaken—when this is our lot, we receive great and undeserved mercy.
Our society will not break up, but we shall settle in some other place, where is at present unknown.
F 2 WM. COWPER.
These tender and confidential letters describe, in the clearest light, the singularly peaceful and devout life of this amiable writer during his residence at Huntingdon, and the melancholy accident which occasioned his removal to a distant county. Time and chance now introduced to the notice of Cowper the zealous and venerable friend, who became his intimate associate for'many years, after having advised and assisted him in the important concern of fixing his future residence. Mr. Newton, then Curate of Olney, in Buckinghamshire, had been requested, by the late Dr. Conyers (who, in taking his degree in Divinity at Cambridge, had formed a friend. ship with young Mr. Unwin, and learned from him the religious character of his mother), to seize an opportu. nity, as he was passing through Huntingdon, of making a visit to an exemplary lady. This visit (so important in its consequences to the testiny of Cowper !) happened to take place within a few days after the calamitous death of Mr. Unwin. As a change of scene appeared desirable both to Mrs. Unwin and to the interesting Recluse, whom she had generously requested to continue under her care, Mr. Newton offered to assist them in removing to the pleasant and picturesque county in which he resided. They were willing to enter into the flock of a benevolent and animated pastor, whose religious ideas were so much in harmony with their own. He engaged for them a house at Olney, where they arrived on the 14th of October, 1767.
The time of Cowper, in his new situation, seems to have been chiefly devoted to religious contemplation, to social prayer, and to active charity. To this first of Christian virtues his heart was eminently inclined, and Providence very graciously enabled him to exercise and enjoy it to an extent far superior to what his own scanty fortune appeared to allow. He was very
far from inheriting opulence on the death of his father, in 1756 ; and the singular cast of his own mind was such, that nature seemed to have rendered it impossible for him either to covet or to acquire riches. His perfect exemption from worldly passions is forcibly displayed in the two following letters.
Olney, June 16, 1768. DEAR JOE,
I thank you for so full an answer to so empty an epistle. If Olney furnished any thing for your amusement you should have it in return, but occur. rences here are as scarce as cucumbers at Christmas.
I visited St. Alban's about a fortnight since in person, and I visit it every day in thought. The recollection of what passed there, and the consequences that followed it, fill my mind continually, and make the circumstances of a poor transient half-spent life so insipid and unaffecting, that I have no heart to think or write much about them. Whether the nation are worshipping Mr. Wilkes, or any other idol, is of little moment to one who hopes and believes that he shall shortly stand in the pres. ence of the great and blessed God. I thank him that he has given me such a deep impressed persuasion of this awful truth as a thousand worlds would not purchase from me. It gives a relish to every blessing, and makes every trouble light. Affectionately yours.
W . C,
TO JOSEPH HILL, Esq. DEAR JOE,
1769, Sir Thomas crosses the Alps and Sir Cowper, for that is his title at Olney, prefers his home to any other spot of earth in the world. Horace, observing this difference of temper in different persons, cried out, a good many years ago, in the true spirit of poetry, “How much one man differs from another!” This does not seem a very sublime exclamation in English, but I remember we were taught to admire it in the original.
My dear friend, I am obliged to you for your invitation; but being long accustomed to retirement, which I was always fond of, I am now more than ever unwilling to revisit those noisy and crowded scenes which I never loved, and which I now abhor. I remember you with all the friendship I ever professed, which is as much as I ever entertained for any man. But the strange and uncommon incidents of my life have given an entire new turn to my whole character and conduct, and rendered me incapable of receiving pleasure from the same employments and amusements of which I could readily partake in former days.
I love you and yours; I thank you for your continued remembrance of me, and shall not cease to be their and your Affectionate friend and servant,
His retirement was ennobled by many private acts of beneficence, and his exemplary virtue was such, that the opulent sonietimes delighted to make him their al
moner. In his sequestered life at Olney, he ministered abundantly to the wants of the poor, from a fund, with which he was supplied by that model of extensive and unostentatious philanthropy, the late John Thornton, Esq. whose name he has immortalized in his Poem on Charity, still honouring his memory by an additional tribute to his virtues, in the following unpublished Poem, written immediately on his decease, in the year 1790.
Poets attempt the noblest task they can,
Thee therefore of commercial fame, but more
What pleasure can the miser's fondled hoard,