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It is a Calvinistic poet making game of an anti tation in language, he occasionally sinks his exCalvinistic creed, and is an excellent specimen pression into flatness. Even in his high-toned of pious bantering and evangelical raillery. But

poem of “ Expostulation," he tells Britain of the Religion, which disdains the hostility of ridicule, time when she was a “puling starveling chitt." ought also to be above its alliance. Against Considering the tenor and circumstances of his this practice of compounding mirth and godli- life, it is not much to be wondered at, that some ness, we may quote the poet's own remark upon asperities and peculiarities should have adhered St. Paul :

to the strong stem of his genius, like the moss “ So did not Paul. Direct me to a quip,

and fungus that cling to some noble oak of the Or merry turn, in all he ever wrote;

forest, amidst the damps of its unsunned retireAnd I consent you take it for your text."

ment. It is more surprising that he preserved, And the Christian poet, by the solemnity of his

in such seclusion, so much genuine power of

comic observation. Though he himself acknowsubject, certainly identifies himself with the Christian preacher ; who, as Cowper elsewhere ledged having written “ many things with bile"

in his first volume I, yet his satire has many leremarks, should be sparing of his smile. The noble effect of one of his religious pieces, in which gitimate objects: and it is not abstracted and he has scarcely in any instance descended to the

declamatory satire ; but it places human manners

before us in the liveliest attitudes and clearest ludicrous, proves the justice of his own advice.

colours. There is much of the full distinctness His “ Expostulation” is a poetical sermon-an

of Theophrastus, and of the nervous and concise eloquent and sublime one. But there is no Hogarth-painting in this brilliant Scripture piece. spirit of La Bruyère, in his piece entitled “ Con

versation," with a cast of humour superadded, Lastly, the objects of his satire are sometimes so unskilfully selected, as to attract either a scanty

which is peculiarly English, and not to be found portion of our indignation, or none at all. When

out of England. Nowhere have the sophist-the

dubious man, whose evidence, he exposes real vice and enormity, it is with a power that makes the heart triumph in their ex “ For want of prominence and just relief,

Would hang an honest man, and save a thief "posure. But we are very little interested by his

Conversation. declamations on such topics as the effeminacy of modern soldiers ; the prodigality of poor gentle the solemn fop, an oracle behind an empty cask men giving cast clothes to their valets ; or the —the sedentary weaver of long tales—the emfinery of a country girl, whose head-dress is phatic speaker, “indebted to some smart wig-weaver's hand."

who dearly loves t'oppose, There is also much of the querulous laudator

In contact inconvenient, nose to nose "

Conversation. temporis acti in reproaching the English youths of his own day, who beat the French in trials of nowhere have these characters, and all the most horsemanship, for not being like their forefathers, prominent nuisances of colloquial intercourse, who beat the same people in contests for crowns; together with the bashful man, who is a nuisance as if there were anything more laudable in men to himself, been more happily delineated. One butchering their fellow-creatures, for the purposes species of purity his satires possess, which is, that of unprincipled ambition, than employing them- they are never personal ş. To his high-minded selves in the rivalship of manly exercise. One views, would have thought too, that the gentle recluse

“ An individual was a sacred mark, of Olney, who had so often employed himself in

Not to be struck in sport, or in the dark." making boxes and bird-cages, might have had a little more indulgence for such as amuse them

Every one knows from how accidental a cirselves with chess and billiards, than to inveigh so

cumstance his greatest original work, “ The bitterly against those pastimes*,

[t “While yet thou wast a groveling puling chit, In the mean time, while the tone of his satire Thy bones not fashion'd, and thy joints not knit." becomes rigid, that of his poetry is apt to grow

Expostulation) relaxed. The saintly and austere artist seems

[t Southey's Cowper, vol. i. p. 261, and vol. ii. p. 183.} to be so much afraid of making song a mere fas

§ A single exception may be made to this remark, in cination to the ear, that he casts, now and then, he reprehended, and who was known to mean the Rev.

the instance of Occiduus, whose musical Sunday parties a little roughness into his versification, particu G. Wesley. (See “ The Progress of Error." larly his rhymes ; not from a vicious ear, but

“ Beneath well-sounding Greek merely to show that he despises being smooth; I slur a name a poet must not speak."Hope.] forgetting that our language has no superfluous I know not to whom he alludes in these lines, harmony to throw away, and that the roughness “Nor he who, for the bane of thousands born, of verse is not its strength, but its weakness—the Built God a church, and laugh'd His word to scorn." stagnation of the stream, and not its forcible cur {"The Calvinist meant Voltaire, and the church of rent. Apparently, also, from the fear of osten. Ferney, with its inscription, Deo erexit Voltaire."-BYRON,

Works vol. xvi. p. 124. See also Southey's Cowper, vol. [* See "The Task," B. vi. 1. 265 to l. 277.]

viii. p. 305.)

Task," took its rise, namely, from his having one he looked to her as a whole more than Cowper. day complained to Lady Austen that he knew not His genius was more excursive and philosophical. what subject of poetry to choose, and her having The poet of Olney, on the contrary, regarded told him to take her sofa for his theme. The human philosophy with something of theological mock-heroic commencement of “The Task” has contempt. To his eye, the great and little things been censured as a blemish. The general taste, of this world were levelled into an equality, by I believe, does not find it so. Mr. Hayley's com his recollection of the power and purposes of Him mendation of his art of transition may, in this who made them. They are, in his view, only as instance, be fairly admitted, for he quits his ludi toys spread on the lap and carpet of nature, for crous history of the sofa, and glides into a de

the childhood of our immortal being. This reliscription of other objects, by an easy and natural gious indifference to the world, is far, indeed, association of thoughts. His whimsical outset in from blunting his sensibility to the genuine and a work where he promises so little and performs simple beauties of creation ; but it gives his taste so much, may even be advantageously contrasted a contentment and fellowship with humble things. with those magnificent commencements of poems | It makes him careless of selecting and refining which pledge both the reader and the writer, in his views of nature, beyond their casual appeargood earnest, to a task. Cowper's poem, on the ance. He contemplated the face of plain rural contrary, is like a river, which rises from a play- | English life, in moments of leisure and sensibiful little fountain, and which gathers beauty and lity, till its minutest features were impressed upon magnitude as it proceeds.

his fancy; and he sought not to embellish what “ velut tenui nascens de fomite rivus

he loved. Hence his landscapes have less of the Per tacitas, primum nullo cum murmure, valles ideally beautiful than Thomson's ; but they have Serpit ; et ut patrii se sensim e margine fontis an unrivalled charm of truth and reality. Largius effudit; pluvios modo colligit inibres,

The flat country where he resided certainly Et postquam spatio vires aceepit et undas," &c.

BUCHANAN.

exhibited none of those wilder graces of nature

which he had sufficient genius to have delineated; He leads us abroad into his daily walks ; he ex

and yet there are perhaps few romantic descriphibits the landscapes which he was accustomed

tions of rocks, precipices, and torrents, which we to contemplate, and the trains of thought in which

should prefer to the calm English character and he habitually indulged. No attempt is made to

familiar repose of the following landscape. It is interest us in legendary fictions, or historical re

in the finest manner of Cowper, and unites all his collections connected with the ground over which

accustomed fidelity and distinctness with a softhe expatiates ; all is plainness and reality ; but

ness and delicacy which are not always to be we instantly recognise the true poet, in the clear

found in his specimens of the picturesque. ness, sweetness, and fidelity of his scenic draughts; in his power of giving novelty to what is common;

“How oft upon yon eminence our pace

Has slacken'd to a pause, and we have borne and in the high relish, the exquisite enjoyment of

The rufling wind, scarce conscious that it blew, rural sights and sounds which he communicates While Admiration, feeding at the eye, to the spirit. “ His eyes drink the rivers with And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene. delight t." He excites an idea, that almost

Thence with what pleasure have we just discern'd

The distant plough slow moving, and beside amounts to sensation, of the freshness and de

His lab'ring team, that swerved not from the track, light of a rural walk, even when he leads us to The sturdy swain diminish'd to a boy #! the wasteful common, which,

Here Ouse, slow winding through a level plain

Of spacious meads with cattle sprinkled o'er, — "overgrown with fern, and rough Conducts the eye along his sinuous course With prickly goss, that, shapeless and deform, Delighted. There, fast rooted in their bank, And dang'rous to the touch, has yet its bloom, Stand, never overlook d, our fav’rite elms, And decks itself with ornaments of gold,

That screen the berdsman's solitary hut;
Yields no unpleasing ramble; there the turf

While far beyond, and overthwart the stream,
Smells fresh, and, rich in odorif'rous herbs
And fungous fruits of earth, regales the sense

“Yon tall anchoring bark With luxury of unexpected sweets."

Diminishid to her cock, her cock a buoy
The Task, B. i.

Almost too small for sight."-King Lear. His rural prospects have far less variety and The original of Cowper's line, compass than those of Thomson ; but his graphic “God made the country and man made the town,"

The Task. touches are more close and minute : not that Thomson was either deficient or undelightful in

is not in Hawkins Browne, as Cowper's friend Rose imacircumstantial traits of the beauty of nature, but

gined, but in Cowley:

“God the first garden made, and the first city Cain "* In the Edinburgh Review. (The fox hunting scene

Essays. The Garden. in Thomson's Autumn was cut away by Lord Lyttelton a more vigorous though a quainter line. from every edition of “ The Seasons" between 1750 and 1762, among the parallel passages produced by Mr. Peace, and when Murdoch restored the scene to its proper position. printed in Mr. Southey's edition of Cowper. (See vol. vi. Lyttelton thought that an imitation of Philips was not p. 227, and vol. ix. p. 92.) Is this a resemblance or a in keeping with the tone of the poem.)

theft ? Cowley's thought could take no other shape in | An expression in one of his ers.

Cowper's mind.]

This is not

That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale,

talent is to be found on the same side, rather The sloping land recedes into the clouds ; Displaying on its varied side the grace

injuring than promoting the cause, by its officious Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tower,

declamation. But nothing can be farther from Tall spire, from which the sound of cheerful bells the stale common-place and cuckooism of sentiJust undulates upon the list'ning ear,

ment, than the philanthropic eloquence of Cowper Groves, heaths, and smoking villages, remote."

-he speaks“ like one having authority.” Society The Task, B. i.

is his debtor. Poetical expositions of the horrors The whole scene is so defined, that one longs to of slavery may, indeed, seem very unlikely agents see it transferred to painting.

in contributing to destroy it; and it is possible He is one of the few poets who have indulged that the most refined planter in the West Indies neither in descriptions nor acknowledgments of may look, with neither shame nor compunction the passion of love ; but there is no poet who on his own image in the pages of Cowper, exposed has given us a finer conception of the amenity of as a being degraded by giving stripes and tasks female influence. Of all the verses that have to his fellow-creature. But such appeals to the been ever devoted to the subject of domestic heart of the community are not lost. They fix happiness, those in his Winter Evening, at the themselves silently in the popular memory, and opening of the fourth book of “ The Task,” are they become, at last, a part of that public opinion perhaps the most beautiful. In perusing that which must, sooner or later, wrench the lash scene of “intimate delights," "fireside enjoy from the hand of the oppressor. ments,” and “home-born happiness," we seem I should have ventured to offer a few remarks to recover a part of the forgotten value of on the shorter poems of Cowper, as well as on existence, when we recognise the means of its his translation of Homer, if I had not been blessedness so widely dispensed and so cheaply fearful, not only of trespassing on the reader's attainable, and find them susceptible of descrip patience, but on the boundaries which I have tion at once so enchanting and so faithful. been obliged to prescribe to myself, in the length

Though the scenes of " The Task” are laid in of these notices. There are many zealous adretirement, the poem affords an amusing per mirers of the poet, who will possibly refuse all spective of human affairs*. Remote as the poet quarter to the observations on his defects, which was from the stir of the great Babel—from the I have freely made ; but there are few, who have “confusa sonus urbis et illætabile murmur," he read him, I conceive, who have been so slightly glances at most of the subjects of public interest delighted as to think I have over-rated his which engaged the attention of his contempo descriptions of external nature, his transcripts of raries. On those subjects, it is but faint praise human manners, or his powers, as a moral poet, to say, that he espoused the side of justice of inculcating those truths and affections which and humanity. Abundance of mediocrity of make the heart feel itself better and more happyt.

FROM « THE TASK."

BOOK I.

Colonnades commended-Alcove, and the view from it

The Wilderness-The Grove, The Thresher-The necessity and benefits of Exercise.

Nor distant far, a length of colonnade
Invites us. Monument of ancient taste,
Now scorn'd, but worthy of a better fate.
Our fathers knew the value of a screen
From sultry suns : and, in their shaded walks
And long-protracted bowers, enjoy'd at noon
The gloom and coolness of declining day.
We bear our shades about us ; self-deprived
Of other screen, the thin umbrella spread,
And range an Indian waste without a tree.
Thanks to Benevolus-he spares me yet
These chesnuts ranged in corresponding lines ;
And, though himself so polish'd, still reprieves
The obsolete prolixity of shade.

[* Is not • The Task"a glorious poem? The religion of "The Task," bating a few scraps of Calvinistic divinity, is the religion of God and Nature; the religion that exalts and ennobles man.-Burns, to Mrs. Dunlop, 25th December, 1795.)

Descending now (but cautious, lest too fast) A sudden steep upon a rustic bridge,

[t Cowper is, as he deserves to be, the most popular poet of his age. His translation of Homer is the best English version : nor is it likely that a better can ever be produced, because it represents the original faithfully and fully, except in that magnificent measure for which nothing either like or equivalent in this case can be substituted in our language. The letters have a charm which is never attained in those that are written with the remotest view to publication: they come from the beart, and therefore they find the way to it.-SOUTHEY, Prospectus to Couper's Works.

Lord Byron speaks of Cowper as a writer, but no poet; and tal of his Dutch delineation of a wood. drawn up like a seedsman's catalogue. Still stranger than this, he asks if any human reader ever succeeded in reading his Homer. Many, we would answer, have succeeded in reading the Homer of this maniacal Calvinist and coddled poet, as he is called in another place by Lord Byron. It is to be regretted that Mr. Campbell has not given bis opinion of Pope's Homer in comparison with Cowper and with the original. In his Memoir of Mickle, he bas, bowever, casually remarked that Pope has departed widely from the majestic simplicity of the Greek, and has given us the shakes and flourishings of the fute for the deep sounds of the trumpet.]

We pass a gulf, in which the willows dip

The folded gates would bar my progress now, Their pendent boughs, stooping as if to drink. But that the lord of this inclosed demesne, Hence, ancle-deep in moss and flowery thyme,

Communicative of the good he owns, We mount again, and feel at every step

Admits me to a share ; the guiltless eye Our foot half sunk in hillocks green and soft, Commits no wrong, nor wastes what it enjoys. Raised by the mole, the miner of the soil.

Refreshing change! where now the blazing sun ? He, not unlike the great ones of mankind, By short transition we have lost his glare, Disfigures earth : and plotting in the dark, And stepp'd at once into a cooler clime. Toils much to earn a monumental pile,

Ye fallen avenues ! once more I mourn That may record the mischiefs he has done. Your fate unmerited, once more rejoice,

The summit gain’d, behold the proud alcove That yet a remnant of your race survives. That crowns it ! yet not all its pride secures How airy and how light the graceful arch, The grand retreat from injuries impress'a

Yet awful as the consecrated roof By rural carvers, who with knives deface

Re-echoing pious anthems ! while beneath The pannels, leaving an obscure, rude name, The checker'd earth seems restless as a flood In characters uncouth, and spelt amiss.

Brush'd by the wind. So sportive is the light So strong the zeal t' immortalise himself

Shot through the boughs, it dances as they dance, Beats in the breast of man, that even a few, Shadow and sunshine intermingling quick, Few transient years, won from the abyss abhorr'd And dark'ning and enlight’ning, as the leaves Of blank oblivion, seem a glorious prize,

Play wanton, every moment, every spot. And even to a clown. Now roves the eye ;

And now with nerves new-braced and spirits And, posted on this speculative height,

cheer'd, Exults in its command. The sheepfold here We tread the wilderness, whose well-roll'd walks, Pours out its fleecy tenants o'er the glebe.

With curvature of slow and easy sweepAt first progressive as a stream, they seek Deception innocent-give ample space The middle field ; but, scatter'd by degrees, To narrow bounds. The grove receives us next; Each to his choice, soon whiten all the land. Between the upright shafts of whose tall elms There from the sunburnt hayfield homeward creeps We may discern the thresher at his task. The loaded wain ; while, liylıtend of its charge, Thump after thump resounds the constant flail, The wain that meets it passes swiftly by ;

That seems to swing uncertain, and yet falls The boorish driver leaning o'er his team

Full on the destined ear. Wide flies the chaff, Vocif'rous, and impatient of delay.

The rustling straw sends up a frequent mist Nor less attractive is the woodland scene,

Of atoms, sparkling in the noonday beam. Diversified with trees of every growth,

Come hither, ye that press your beds of down, Alike, yet various. Here the grey smooth trunks And sleep not ; see him sweating o’er his bread Of ash, or lime, or beech, distinctly shine,

Before he eats it.—'Tis the primal curse, Within the twilight of their distant shades; But soften’d into mercy ; made the pledge There, lost behind a rising ground, the wood Of cheerful days, and nights without a groan. Seems sunk, and shorten'd to its topmost boughs. By ceaseless action all that is subsists. No tree in all the grove but has its charms, Constant rotation of th' unwearied wheel, Though each its hue peculiar ; paler some, That Nature rides upon, maintains her health, And of a wannish grey ; the willow such,

Her beauty, her fertility. She dreads And poplar, that with silver lines his leaf, An instant's pause, and lives but while she moves. And ash far-stretching his umbrageous arm ; Its own revolvency upholds the World. Of deeper green the elm ; and deeper still, Winds from all quarters agitate the air, Lord of the woods, the long-surviving oak. And fit the limpid element for use, Some glossy-leaved, and shining in the sun, Else noxious ; oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams, The maple, and the beech of oily nuts

All feel the fresh'ning impulse, and are cleansed Prolific, and the lime at dewy eve

By restless undulation : even the oak Diffusing odours : por unnoted pass

Thrives by the rude concussion of the storm : The sycamore, capricious in attire,

He seems indeed indignant, and to feel Now green, now tawny, and, ere autumn yet Th’ impression of the blast with proud disdain, Have changed the woods, in scarlet honours bright. Frowning, as if in his unconscious arm O'er these, but far beyond (a spacious map He held the thunder; but the monarch owes Of hill and valley interposed between),

His firm stability to what he scorns, The Ouse, dividing the well-water'd land,

More fix'd below, the more disturb'd above. Now glitters in the sun, and now retires,

The law by which all creatures else are bound, As bashful, yet impatient to be seen.

Binds man, the lord of all. Himself derives Hence the declivity is sharp and short,

No mean advantage from a kindred cause, And such the re-ascent ; between them weeps From strenuous toil his hours of sweetest ease. A little naiad her impov’rish'd urn

The sedentary stretch their lazy length All summer long, which winter fills again.

When custom bids, but no refreshment find,

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For none they need ; the languid eye, the cheek Receive our air, that moment they are free ;
Deserted of its bloom, the flaccid, shrunk, They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
And wither'd muscle, and the vapid soul,

That's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
Reproach their owner with that love of rest, And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
To which he forfeits even the rest he loves. And let it circulate through every vein
Not such the alert and active. Measure life

Of all your empire; that, where Britain's power
By its true worth, the comforts it affords,

Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.
And theirs alone seems worthy of the name.
Good health, and, its associate in the most,
Good temper; spirits prompt to undertake,
And not soon spent, though in an arduous task ;

FROM BOOK IV.
The powers of fancy and strong thought, are theirs;

Arrival of the Post in a Winter Evening--The Newspaper Even age itself seems privileged in them

-The World contemplated at a distance Address to With clear exemption from its own defects.

Winter-The rural Amusements of a Winter Evening
A sparkling eye beneath a wrinkled front

compared with fashionable ones.
The veteran shows, and, gracing a grey beard HARK ! 'tis the twanging horn o'er yonder bridge,
With youthful smiles, descends toward the grave That with its wearisome but needful length
Sprightly, and old almost without decay.

Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the moon
Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright ;-

He comes, the herald of a noisy world,
OPENING OF THE SECOND BOOK OF “THE TASK.""

With spatter'd boots,strapp'd waist,and frozen locks;

News from all nations lumb'ring at his back. O for a lodge in some vast wilderness,

True to his charge, the close-pack'd load behind, Some boundless contiguity of shade,

Yet careless what he brings, his one concern Where rumour of oppression and deceit,

Is to conduct it to the destined inn ; Of unsuccessful or successful war,

And, having dropp'd th' expected bag, pass on. Might never reach me more. My ear is pain'd, He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch, My soul is sick, with every day's report

Cold and yet cheerful : messenger of grief Of wrong and outrage, with which earth is fill'd. Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some; There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart,

To him indiff'rent whether grief or joy. It does not feel for man ; the nat'ral bond

Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks, Of brotherhood is sever'd as the flax,

Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet That falls asunder at the touch of fire.

With tears, that trickled down the writer's cheeks
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin

Fast as the periods from his fluent quill,
Not colour'd like his own ; and having power Or charged with am'rous sighs of absent swains,
T' enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause Or nymphs responsive, equally affect
Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey. His horse and him, unconscious of them all.
Lands intersected by a narrow frith

But 0 th' important budget ! usher’d in
Abhor each other. Mountains interposed With such heart-shaking music, who can say
Make enemies of nations, who had else,

What are its tidings? have our troops awaked ?
Like kindred drops, been mingled into one. Or do they still, as if with opium drugg’d,
Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys ; Snore to the murmurs of th’ Atlantic wave!
And, worse than all, and most to be deplored Is India free? and does she wear her plumed
As human nature's broadest, foulest blot,

And jewell'd turban with a smile of peace,
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat Or do we grind her still ? The grand debate,
With stripes, that Mercy with a bleeding heart The popular harangue, the tart reply,
Weeps, when she sees inflicted on a beast.

The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit,
Then what is man? And what man, seeing this, And the loud laugh—I long to know them all ;
And having human feelings, does not blush, I burn to set th' imprison'd wranglers free,
And hang his head, to think himself a man?

And give them voice and utt'rance once again.
I would not have a slave to till my ground, Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep,

Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round, And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth

And while the bubbling and loud hissing urn That sinews bought and sold have ever earn’d.

Throws up a steamy column, and the cups, No: dear as freedom is, and in my heart's That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each, Just estimation prized above all price,

So let us welcome peaceful evening in. I had much rather be myself the slave,

Not such his evening, who with shining face And wear the bonds, than fasten them on him.

Sweats in the crowded theatre, and, squeezed We have no slaves at home-Then why abroad?

And bored with elbow-points through both his sides, And they themselves, once ferried o'er the wave

Outscolds the ranting actor on the stage: That parts us, are emancipate and loosed.

Nor his, who patient stands till his feet throb, Slaves cannot breathe in England ; if their lungs And his head thumps, to feed upon the breath

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