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Friday the twenty-fifth, at five in the morning, a deadly change appeared in his features.
He spoke no more.
His last words were uttered in the night :-In rejecting a cordial, he said to Miss Perowne, who had presented it to him—" What can it signify?” Yet, even at this time, he did not seem impressed with any idea of dying, although he conceived, that nothing would contribute to his health.
The deplorable inquietude and darkness of his latter years were mercifully terminated by a most gentle and tranquil dissolution. He passed through the awful moments of death so mildly, that although five persons were present, and observing him, in his chamber, not one of them perceived him to expire ; but he had ceased to breathe about five minutes before five in the afternoon.
On Saturday, the third of May, he was buried in a part of Dereham church, called St. Edmund's chapel, and the funeral was attended by several of his relations.
He died intestate: his affectionate relation, the Lady Hesketh, has fulfilled the office of his administratrix, and raised a marble tablet to his memory, where his ashes repose, with the following inscription:
Ye, who with warmth the public triumph feel
In the metropolis, I trust, the just affection of our enlightened country for an author, so eminently deserving, will in some future period more favourable to works of peace, devise the means of erecting a cenotaph in his honour, suitable to the dignity of his poetical character, and to the liberality of the nation, that may be justly proud of expressing a parental sense of his merit.
I have regarded my own intimacy with him as a blessing to myself, and the remembrance of it is now endeared to me by the hope that it may enable me to delineate the man and the poet, with such fidelity and truth, as may render his remote, and even his future, admirers minutely acquainted with an exemplary being, most worthy to be intimately known, and universally beloved.
The person and mind of Cowper seem to have been formed with equal kindness by nature, and it may be questioned if she ever bestowed on any man, with a fonder prodigality, all the requisites to conciliate affection, and to inspire respect.
From his figure, as it first appeared to me in his sixty-second year, I should imagine that he must have been very comely in his youth; and little had time injured his countenance, since his features expressed at that period of life all the powers of his mind, and all the sensibility of his heart:
He was of a middle stature, rather strong than delicate in the form of his limbs; the colour of his hair was a light brown, that of his eyes a blueish grey, and his complexion ruddy. In his dress he was neat, but not finical ; in his diet temperate, and not dainty.
He had an air of pensive reserve in his deportment, and his extreme shyness sometimes pro duced in his manners an indescribable mixture of awkwardness and dignity ; but no being could be more truly graceful, when he was in perfect health, and perfectly pleased with his society. Towards women in particular, his behaviour and conversation were delicate, and fascinating in the highest degree.
Nature had given him a warm constitution, and had he been prosperous in early love, it is probable that he might have enjoyed a more uniform and happy tenor of health. But a disappointment of the heart, arising from the cruelty of fortune, threw a cloud on his juvenile spirit. Thwarted in love, the native fire of his temperament turned impetuously into the kindred channel of devotion. The smothered flames of desire, uniting with the vapours of constitutional melancholy, and the fervency of religious zeal, produced altogether that irregularity of corporeal sensation, and of mental health, which gave such extraordinary vicissitudes of splendour, and of darkness, to his mortal career, and made Cowper at times an idol of the purest admiration, and at times an object of the sincerest pity..
As a sufferer, indeed, no man could be more entitled to compassion, for no man was ever more truly compassionate to the sufferings of others. It was that rare portion of benevolent sensibility in his nature, which endeared him to persons of all ranks, who had opportunities of observing him in private life. The great Prince of Condé used to say—“ No man is a hero to his familiar domestic;"—But Cowper was really more. He was beloved and revered with a sort of idolatry in his family; not from any romantic ideas of his magical powers as a poet, but from that evangelical gentleness of manners, and purity of conduct, which illuminated the shade of his sequestered life.