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That there is bliss prepared in yonder sky,
What pleasure can the miser's fondled hoard Or spendthrift's prodigal excess afford, Sweet, as the privilege of healing woe Suffer'd by virtue, combating below; That privilege was thine; Heaven gave thee means To illumine with delight the saddest scenes, Till thy appearance chas'd the gloom, forlorn As midnight, and despairing of a morn. Thou had'st an industry in doing good, Restless as his, who toils and sweats for food. Av'rice in thee was the desire of wealth By rust unperishable, or by stealth. And if the genuine worth of gold depend On application to its noblest end, Thine had à value in the scales of Heaven, Surpassing all, that mine, or mint, have given : And tho' God made thee of a nature prone To distribution, boundless, of thy own; And still, by motives of religious force, Impelld thee more to that heroic course; Yet was thy liberality discreet; Nice in its choice, and of a temp’rate heat ; And, though in act upwearied, secret still, As, in some solitude, the summer rill Refreshes, where it winds, the faded green, And chears the drooping flowers, unheard, unseen.
Such was thy Charity; no sudden start,
This simple and sublime eulogy was perfectly merited; and among the happiest actions of this truly liberal man, we may reckon his furnishing to a character so reserved, and so retired, as Cowper, the means of his enjoying the gratification of active and costly beneficence; a gratification, in which the sequestered poet had nobly indulged himself, before his acquaintance with Mr. Newton afforded him an opportunity of being concerned in distributing the private, yet extensive, bounty of an opulent and exemplary merchant.
Cowper, before he quitted St. Alban’s, assumed the charge of a necessitous child, to extricate him from the perils of being educated by very profligate parents; he put him to school at Huntingdon, re
moved him on his own removal, to Olney, and finally setiled him as an apprentice at Oundle in Northamptonshire.
The warm, benevolent, and chearful enthusiasm of Mr. Newton, induced his friend Cowper to participate so abundantly in his devout occupation, that the poet's time, and thoughts, were more and more engrossed by religious pursuits. He wrote many hymns, and occasionally directed the prayers of the poor. Where the nerves are tender, and the imagination tremblingly alive, any fervid excess in the exercise of the purest piety, may be attended with such perils to corporeal, and mental, health, as men, of a more firm and hardy fibre, would be far from apprehending. Perhaps the life that Cowper led, on his settling in Olney, had a tendency to encrease the morbid propensity of his frame, though it was a life of admirable sanctity.
Absorbed as he was in devotion, he forgot not his distant friends, and particularly his amiable relation, and correspondent, of the Park-house, near Hartford. The following Letter to that lady has no date, but it was probably written soon after his establishment at Olney : The remarkable memento in the Postscript, was undoubtedly introduced to counteract an idle rumour, arising from the circumstance of his having settled himself under the roof of a female friend, whose age, and whose virtues, he considered as sufficient securities to ensure her reputation.
To Mrs. COWPER.
MY DEAR COUSIN,
I have not been behind hand in reproaching myself with neglect, but desire to take shame to myself for my unprofitableness in this, as well as in all other respects. I take the next immediate opportunity however of thanking you for yours, and of assuring you, that instead of being surprized at your silence, I rather wonder that you, or any of my friends, have any room left for so careless and negligent a correspondent in your memories. I am obliged to you for the intelligence you send me of my kindred, and rejoice to hear of their welfare. He who settles the bounds of our habitations, has at length cast our lot at a great distance from each other, but I do not therefore forget their former kindness to me, or cease to be interested in their well being. You live in the centre of a world I know you do not delight in. Happy are you, my dear friend, in being
able to discern the insufficiency of all it can afford, to fill and satisfy the desires of an immortal soul. That God, who created us for the enjoyment of himself, has determined in mercy that it shall fail us here, in order that the blessed result of all our enquiries after happiness in the creature, may be a warm pursuit, and a close attachment, to our true interests, in fellowship and communion with Him, through the name and mediation of a dear Redeemer. I bless his goodness, and grace, that I have any reason to hope I am a partaker with you in the desire after better things, than are to be found in a world polluted with sin, and therefore devoted to destruction. May he enable us both to consider our present life in its only true light, as an opportunity put into our hands to glorify him amongst men, by a conduct suited to his word and will. I am miserably defective in this holy and blessed art, but I hope there is at the bottom of all my sinful infirmities, a sincere desire to live just so long as I may be enabled, in some poor measure, to answer the end of my existence in this respect, and then to obey the summons, and attend him in a world, where they who are his servants here, shall pay him an unsinful obedience for ever. Your dear Mother is too good to me, and puts a