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This table and mirror within,

Secure from collision and dual, At which I oft shave cheek and chin,

And periwig nicely adjust.

This moveable structure of shelves,

For its beauty admired and its use, And charg'd with octavos and twelves,

The gayest I had to producc, Where, Aaming in scarlet and gold,

My poems enchanted I view, And hope, in due time, to behold

My Iliad and Odyssey too.

This china, that decks the alcove,

Which here people call a beaufette, But what the gods call it above,

Has ne'er been reveal'd to us yet: These curtains, that keep the room warm

Or cool, as the season demands, Those stoves, that for pattern and form,

Seem the labour of Mulciber's hands.

All these are not half that I owe

To one from our earliest youth, To me ever ready to shew

Benignity, friendship, and truth ;

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Thus compass’d about with the goods,

And chattels of leisure and ease,
I indulge my poetical moods

In many such fancies as these ;
And fancies I fear they will seem,

Poet's goods are not often so fine ;
The poets will swear that I dream,

When I sing of the splendour of mine.

Though Cowper could occasionally trifle in rhyme, for the sake of amusing his friends, with an affectionate and endearing gaiety, he appears most truly himself, when he exerts his poetical talents for the higher purpose of consoling the afflicted. Witness the following epistle, composed at the request of Lady Austen, to console a particular friend of hers. Twenty-five letters, written by Mrs. Billacoys, the lady to whom the poem is addressed, were inserted

in an early volume of the Theological Miscellany, in which the poem also appeared. Mr. Bull has annexed it to Cowper's translations from the spiritual songs of Madame Guion, but I willingly embrace the opportunity of reprinting it in this volume, from a copy corrected by the author, in the pleasing persua sion, that it must prove to all religious readers, acquainted with affliction, a lenient charm of very powerful effect.

EPISTLE

TO A LADY IN FRANCE,

A PERSON OF GREAT PIET)

AND MUCH AFFLICTED.

Madam! a stranger's purpose in these lays
Is to congratulate, and not to praise ;
To give the creature, the Creator's due
Were guilt in me, and an offence to you,
From man to man, and ev'n to woman paid,
Praise is the medium of a knavish trade.
A coin by craft for folly's use design’d,
Spurious, and only current with the blind.

The path of sorrow, and that path alone,
Leads to the land, where sorrow is unknown;

No trav’ller ever reached that blest abode
Who found not thorns and briars on his road.
The world may dance along the the flowery plaiu,
Cheer’d, as they go, by many a sprightly strain,
Where Nature has her yielding mosses spread
With unshod feet, and yet unharm’d, they tread,
Admonish’d, scorn the caution, and the friend,
Bent all on pleasure, heedless of its end.
But He, who knew what human hearts would prove,
How slow to learn the dictates of his love ;
That hard by nature, and of stubborn will,
A life of ease would make them harder still;
In pity to a chosen few, design’d
T'escape the common ruin of their kind,
Call’d for a cloud to darken all their years,
And said —-Go spend them in the vale of tears!

Oh balmy gales of soul-reviving air,
Oh salutary streams that murmur there,
These flowing from the fount of grace above!
Those breath'd from lips of everlasting love !
The flinty soil indeed their feet annoys,
Chill blasts of trouble nip their springing joys;
Ali envious world will interpose its frown,
To mar delights superior to its own,
And many a pang, experienc'd still within,
Reminds them of their hated inmate, sin !

But ills of every shape, of every name,
Transform'd to blessings, miss their cruel aim ;
And every moment's calm, that sooths the breast,
Is given in earnest of eternal rest.

Ah be not sad ! although thy lot be cast
Far from a flock, and in a boundless waste;
No shepherds' tents within thy view appear,
But the chief Shepherd even there is near :
Thy tender sorrows, and thy plaintive strain,
Flow in a foreign land, but not in vain,
Thy tears all issue from a source divine,
And every drop bespeaks a Saviour thine.

So once, in Gideon's ficece, the dews were found, And drought on all the drooping flocks around.

It may be observed to the honour of the poet, that his extreme shyness and dislike of addressing an absolute stranger, did not preclude him from a free and happy use of his mental powers, when he had a prospect of comforting the distressed. His diffidence was often wonderfully great, but his humanity was greater.

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