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themselves, on this occasion, but I trust the Bishop of Landaff will forgive me, if my sentiments of personal regard towards him, induce me to take an affectionate liberty with his name, and to gratify myself by recording, in these pages, a very pleasing example of his liberal attention to the interests of humanity.
He endeavoured evangelically to chear and invigorate the mind of Cowper, but the depression of that disordered mind, was the effect of bodily disorder so obstinate, that it received not the slightest relief, from what, in a season of corporeal health, would have afforded the most animated gratification to this interesting invalide.
The pressure of his malady had now made him utterly deaf to the most honourable praise.
He had long discontinued the revisal of his Homer, but by the entreaty of his young kinsman he was persuaded to resume it in September 1797, and he presevered in it, oppressed as he was by indisposition, till March 1799.- On Friday evening the eighth of that month, he completed his revisal of the Odyssey, and the next morning wrote part of a new Preface.
To watch over the disordered health of afflicted genius, and to lead a powerful, but oppressed, spirit by gentle encouragement, to exert itself in sa
lutary occupation, is anoffice that requires a very rare - union of tenderness, intelligence, and fortitude. To
contemplate, and minister to a great mind in a state that borders on mental desolation, is like surveying, in the midst of a desert, the tottering ruins of palaces and temples, where the faculties of the spectator are almost absorbed in wonder, and regret, and where every step taken with awful apprehension.
It seemed as if Providence had expressly formed the young kinsman of Cowper to prove exactly such a guardian to his declining years, as the peculiar exigencies of his situation required. I never saw the human being that could, I think, have sustained the delicate and arduous office (in which the inexhaustible virtues of Mr. Johnson persevered to the last) through a period so long, with an equal portion of unvaried tenderness, and unshaken fidelity. A man who wanted sensibility, would have renounced the duty; and a man, endowed with a particle too much of that valuable, though perilous, quality, must have felt his own health utterly undermined, by an excess of sympathy with the sufferings perpetually in his sight. Mr. Johnson has completely discharged, perhaps, the most trying of human duties;
and I trust he will forgive me for this public declaration, that in his mode of discharging it, he has merited the most cordial esteem from all, who love the memory of Cowper. Even a stranger may consider it as a strong proof of his tender dexterity in soothing and guiding the afflicted poet, that he was able to engage him steadily to pursue and finish the revisal and correction of his Homer, during a long period of bodily and mental sufferings, when his troubled mind recoiled from all intercourse with his most intimate friends, and laboured under a morbid abhorrence of all chearful exertion.
But in deploring the calamity of my friend, and describing the merit of his affectionate attendant, I must not forget that it is still incumbent on me, as a faithful biographer, to notice a few circumstances in the dark and distressful years that Cowper had yet to linger on earth. In the summer of 1798, Mr. Johnson was induced to vary his plan of remaining for some months in the marine village of Mundsley, and thought it more eligible for the invalide to make frequent visits from Dereham to the coast, passing a week at a time by the sea-side.
Cowper, in his poem on Retirement, seems to inform us what his own sentiments were, in a season
of health, concerning the regimen most proper for the disease of melancholy.
Virtuous and faithful Heberden, whose skill
The frequent change of place, and the magnificence of marine scenery, produced at times a little relief to his depressive sensations. On the 7th of June, 1798, he surveyed the light-house at Happisburgh, and expressed some pleasure on beholding, through a telescope several ships at a distance. Yet in his usual walk with Mr. Johnson by the sea-side, he exemplified, but too forcibly, his own affecting description of melancholy silence.
That silent tongue
But this description is applicable only in the more
oppressive preceding years, for of the summer 1798, Mr. Johnson says " We had no longer air " and exercise alone, but exercise and Homer hand “ in hand.”
On the twenty-fourth of July, Cowper had the honour of a visit from a lady, for whom he had long entertained affectionate respect, the Dowager Lady Spencer and it was rather remarkable, that on the very morning she called upon him, he happened to have begun his revisal of the Odyssey, which he had originally inscribed to her. Such an incident in a happier season, would have produced a very enlivening effect on his spirits; but, in his present state, it had not even the power to lead him into any free conversation with his amiable visitor. "
The only amusement that he appeared to admit without reluctance, was the reading of Mr. Johnson, who, indefatigable in the supply of such amusement, had exhausted an immense collection of novels; and at this period began reading to the poet his own works. To these he listened also in șilence, and heard all his poems recited in order, till the reader arrived at the history of John Gilpin, which he begged not to hear. Mr. Johnson proceed