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company, and by poor Mrs. Unwin's mental and bodily infirmities. On these accounts Lady Hesketh dares not ask it of you, rejoiced as she would be at your arrival. Am not I, dear Sir, a very presumptuous person, who, in the face of all opposition dare do this? I am emboldened by those two powersul supporters, conscience and experience. Was I at Eartham, I would certainly undertake the labour I presume to recommend, for the bare possibility of restoring Mr. Cowper to himself, to his friends, to the public, and to God.
The benevolent wishes of this sincere and fervent advocate for genius and virtue, sinking under calamity, were far from being accomplished by my arrival at Weston. My unhappy friend was too much overwhelmed by his oppressive malady to shew even the least glimmering of satisfaction at the appearance of a guest whom he used to receive with the most lively expressions of affectionate delight.
It is the nature of this tremendous melancholy not only to ensbroud and stifle the finest faculties of the mind, but it suspends, and apparently annihilates, for a time, the strongest and best-rooted affections of the heart. I had frequent and painful occasion to observe, in this affecting visit to my suffering friend, that he seemed to shrink, at times, from every human creature, except from the gentle voice of my son.
This exception I attributed partly to the peculiar charm which is generally found in the manners of tender ingenuous children; and partly to that uncommon sweetness of character which had inspired Cowper with a degree of parental partiality towards this highly promising youth.
I had hoped indeed that his influence at this season might be superior to my own over the dejected spirit of my friend ; but though it was so, to a considerable degree, our united efforts to cheer and amuse him were utterly frustrated by his calamitous depression.
I may yet hope that my distressing visit to this very dear sufferer was productive of some little good. My presence afforded an opportunity to his excellent relation, Lady Hesketh, who acted at this time as his immediate guardian, to quit her charge for a few days, that she might have a personal conference concerning him, with the eminent Dr. Willis. A friendly letter from Lord Thurlow to thát celebrated physician, had
requested his attention to the highly interesting sufferer. Dr. Willis prescribed for Cowper, and saw him at Weston, but not with that success and felicity which made his medical skill on another most awful occasion, the source of national delight and exultation.
Indeed the extraordinary state of Cowper appeared to abound with circumstances very unfavourable to his mental relief. The daily sight of a being reduced to such deplorable imbecility, as now overwhelmed Mrs. Unwin, was in itself sufficient to plunge a tender spirit into extreme melancholy; yet to separate two friends, so long accustomed to minister, with the purest and most vigilant benevolence to the infirmities of each other, was a measure so pregnant with complicated distraction, that it could not be advised or attempted. It remained only to palliate the sufferings of each in their present most pitiable condition, and to trust in the mercy of that God who had supported them together through periods of very dark affliction, though not so doubly deplorable as the present.
I had formerly regarded Weston as a scene that exhibited human nature in a most delightful point of view. I had applauded there no common triumphs of ge
nius and friendship. The contrast that I now contemplated, has often led me to repeat (with such feelings as those only who have surveyed a contrast so deplorable can possibly conceive) the following pathetic exclamation in the Sampson Agonistes of Milton.
God of our fathers, what is man?
Since such as thou hast solemnly elected,
Yet towards these thus dignified, thou oft
So deal not with this once thy glorious champion !
In the spirit of this prayer every being sympathized who had enjoyed a personal acquaintance with Cowper in his happier days, or felt the beneficent influence of his unclouded mind: but for reasons inscrutable to human apprehension, it was the will of
Hcaven, that this admirable and meritorions invalide, should pass through a length of sufferings, on which I am very far from being disposed to detain the attention of my reader:
Animus meminisse horret, luctuque refugit."
I shall therefore only say, that although it has been my lot to be acquainted with affliction in a variety of shapes, I hardly ever felt the anguish of sympathy with an afficted friend in a severer degree, than during the few weeks that I passed with Cowper, at this season of his sufferings. The pain that I endured from this sympathy, was, I believe, very visible in my features, and it obtained for me, from his excellent, accomplished neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Courtenay, the most delicate and endearing attention-kindness so peculiarly consoling, that I can never cease to remember, and to speak of it with gratitude, while the faculty of memory remains to me.
Indeed as my own health had been much shattered by a series of troubles, it would probably have sunk utterly under the pressure of this distressing scene, had not some comforts of a very soothing nature been