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cousin, I make no apology for entertaining you with the history of my conversion, because I know you to be a Christian in the sterling import of the appellation. This is however but a very summary account of the matter ; neither would a letter contain the astonishing particulars of it. If we ever meet again in this world, I will relate them to you by word of mouth ;: if not, they will serve for the subject of a conferrence in the next, where I doubt not I shall remember and record them with a gratitude better suited to the subject.”
April 17, 1766.
(No. 2.) “ As to amusements, I mean what the world calls such,, we have none ; the place, indeed, swarms with them, and cards and dancing are the professed business of alınost all the gentle inhabitants of Huntingdon. We refuse to take part in them, or to be accessaries to this way of murdering our time, and by so doing, have acquired the name of Methodists. Having told you how we do not spend our time, I will next say how we do. We breakfast commonly between eight and nine ; till eleven, we read either the Scripture, or the sermons of some faithful preacher of these holy mysteries ; at: eleven, we attend divine service, which is performed here twice every day, and from twelve. to three,, we separate, and amuse ourselves as, we please.' During that interval I either read in my own apartment, or walk, or ride, or work in the garden. Weseldom sit an hour after dina: Gradually habituated as at a former period, to his situation, he became accessible to a few intimate friends in succession, who laboured to excite his thoughts to activity on different subjects. Thus originated most of those Poems, which, when published, charmed and surprised both the literary and religious world. Some times his mind was led so far from his distress, as to indulge in playful essays ; but these intervals were extremely transient. In general his Poems are the evident dictates of that reverence for God, that esteem for the Gospel, and that benevolence toward fellow-creatures, which characterized his familiar conversation.
Of the general condition of his mind, during the last seven years of his abode in the vicinity of Olney, which certainly were the most tranquil that he passed in the latter part of his life, the best judgment may be formed from his own expressions, in a poem written towards the close of that interval, part of which we have already quoted. It was occasioned by the unexpected acquisition of a small portrait of his mother, whom he had lost more than half a century before, but had never ceased to remember with the warmest gratitude and the fond. est affection. Having described her's and his father's passage through this life to a heavenly world, under the figure of a voyage speedily terminated, he naturally reverts, in the same metaphorical language, to the distressing con. trast which his own situation and prospects presented. “ But me, scarce hoping to attain that rest, Always from port withheld, always distress'd, - . Me howling winds drive devious, tempest-toss'd, Sails ript, seams opening wide, and compass lost : .
Aad, day by day, some current's thwarting force
The principal pleasure that he appeared capable of receiving was, indeed, that which he derived from the happiness of others. Instead of being provoked to discontent and envy, by contrasting their comforts with his own afflictions, there evidently was not a benefit that he knew to be enjoyed by others, which did not afford him sensible satisfaction ; not a suffering they endured that did not add to his pain. To the happiness of those who were privileged with opportunities of shewing their esteem for him, he was most tenderly alive. The advancement of the knowledge of Christ in the world at large was always near his heart ; and whatever concerned the general welfare of mankind was interesting to him, secluded as he was from the public, and, in common, from religious society. In like manner, from his distant retreat, he viewed, with painful sensations, the progress of infidelity, and of sin in every shape. His love to God, though unassisted by a cheerful hope of divine favour, was invariably manifested by an abhorrence of every thing that he thought dishonourable to the Most High, and a delight in all that tended to his glory.
Mr. Cowper was latterly under the care of his affectionate and intelligent young relative, the Rev. John Johnson, who, during the last year or two of his life, had sometimes indulged the hope of witnessing his complete restoration to health. Suddenly, however, this expectation was fatally disappointed ; and towards the close
of 1799, it became sufficiently evident that he could not successfully contend with the ravages of a rapid decay ; that, ere long, the mortal must put on immortality. Conscious of the speedy approach of this important change, however agonizing to himself, Mr. Johnson unremittingly exercised that attention which Young so truly describes as
---The dreadful post of observation,
Darker every hour. On the 25th of April, 1800, friendship was at length discharged from these afflicting duties, and its object happily released from this scene of suffering and sorrow. Early on the morning of that day, Mr. Cowper sunk into a state of such apparent insensibility, that, had not his eyes remained half open, it might have been conjectured a tranquil slumber. In this situation-his respiration regular, though feeble ; his countenance and frame perfectly serene-he continued about twelve hours, when he expired without heaving his breath.
To the preceding remarks, on the life of Cow. per may be added the following modest and characterestic epitome, drawn by himself in a letter to a literary friend, dated March the 10th, 1792. “ You are in danger, I perceive,” says he, of “thinking of me more highly than you ought to think. I am not one of the Literati, among whom you seem disposed to place me ;-far from it. I told you how heinously I am unprovided with the means of being so, having long since sent all my books to market. My learning accordingly lies in a very narrow compass. It is school-boy learning somewhat improved, and very little more. From the age of
20 to 33, I was occupied, or ought to have been, in the study of the law. From 33 to 60 I have spent my time in the country, where my reading has been only an apology for idleness, and where, when I had not either a magazine or a review in my hand, I was sometimes a carpenter, at others, a bird-cage maker, or a gardener, or a drawer of landscapes. At 50 years of age I commenced an author. It is a whim that has served me longest and best, and which will probably be my last. Thus you see I have had very little opportunity to become what is properly called-learned. In truth, having given myself so entirely of late to poetry, I am not sorry for this deficiency ; since great learning, I have been sometimes inclined to suspect, is rather a hindrance to the fancy than a furtherance."
THE Writings of Cowper, though not voluminous, are yet such as have secured to their author no mean rank among the standard poets of his country ;- an elevation not at this day attainable, without sound and prominent excel. lence.
The first volume of poems which he published consists of various pieces, on various subjects. It seems that he had been assiduous in cultivating a turn for grave and argumentative versification on moral and ethical topics. Of this kind is the Table Talk, and several other pieces in the collection. .
The lighter poems are well known. Of these the verses supposed to be written by Alexander Selkirk, on the island of Juan Fernandes, are in high estimation. It would be absurd to give one general character of the pieces that were