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nccessary, and therefore he took care to be constantly employed. Manual occupations, as he well knew by experience, do not engage the mind sufficiently; buia composition, especially of verse, absorbs it wholly. it was his practice, therefore, to write generally three hours in the morning, and in the evening he transcribed. He read also, but less than he wrote, for bodily exercise was necessary, and he never passed a day without it. All this shews that Cowper understood his own case most exactly, and that he was not one of those melancholics who give themselves up to the indulgence of hopeless despair.
He now commenced his translation of Homer; and by the kindness of Lady Hesketh he was enabled to remove from Olney to Weston, about two miles dis. tant, where the house provided for him was more sequestered and commodious. Here, too, he had access to the society of Mr. Throckmorton, a gentleman of fortune in that neighbourhood, whose family had foi some time studied to add to his comforts in a manner the most delicate and affectionate. It must be admitted, indeed, that Cowper was peculiar happy in his friendships, for the kindnesses, sensibility, and attentions of Sis friends went far beyond what we usually meet with under the name of friendship.
At length, after innumerable interruptions, the translation of Homer was sent to press, and published in two volumes quarto, in 1791; yet notwithstanding it was nearly out of print in six months, it fell short of the expectations formed by the public, and of the perfection which he hoped he had attained; so that instead of printing a second edition, he began, at no long distance of time, what may be termed a new translation. To himself, however, his first attempt had been of great advantage, nor were any of his years spent in more general tranquillity, than the five which he had dedicated to Homer. One of the greatest benefits he derived from his attention to this translation, was the renewed conviction that labour of this kind was, with occasional remissions, absolutely necessary to his health and happiness. This conviction led him very soon to accede to a proposal made by his bookseller, to ndertake a magnificent edition of Milton's works, the beauties of which had engaged his wonder at a very urly period of life. These he was now to illustrate by notes, original and selected, and to translate the Latin and Italian poems, while Mr. Fuseli was to paint a series of pictures to be engraved by the first artists. To this scheme, when yet in its infancy, the public is indebted for the friendship which Mr. Hayley contracted with Cowper, and which eventually produced that excellent specimen of biography from which our present notice is mainly derived.
It was about this period that Messrs. Boydell published a splendid edition of Milton, for which Mr. had written “a Life;" and being represented in a newspaper as the rival of Cowper, he immediately wrote to him on the subject, Cowper answered him in such a manner as drew on a closer correspondence, which soon terminated in mutual esteem and cordial friendship. Personal interviews followed, and Mr. Hayley has gratified his readers with a very interesting account of his first visit to Weston, and of the return by Cowper and Mrs. Unwin at his seat at Eastham in Sussex, in a style peculiarly affectionate. On Cowper's journey to Eastham he passed through London, but without stopping, the only time he had seen it for thirty years.
His spirits continued hold good till the year 1794, when his mind began rapidly to sink into its most melancholy state of despondency. The health of his watchful friend, Mrs. Unwin, had also undergone an alarming change, and the united weight of time and sickness had brought her to the last stage of helpless and imbecile old age. Mr. Hayley and his other affectionate acquaintances continued to visit him and use every means to restore his health, but their solicitude was vain, and he continued sunk in a melancholy which could neither be removed nor alleviated. It was at length determined to try the experiment of a change of air, and his amiable relative, the Rev. Dr. Johnson, took upon himself the charge of conducting him into Norfolk. While residing at Dunham Lodge, and afterwards at Mundsley, his spirits with slight exceptions continued in the same state, and though an occasional glimpse of hope now and then encouraged his desponding friends, they at length saw the gradual and certain approaches of decay under the most distressing circumstances in which death can visit an intellectual and reasoning being. Cowper had continued to compose several minor pieces of poetry, and to employ himself occasionally in reading during some time past; but in January, 1800, his strength began rapidly to decline, and on the 25th of April of the same year, he yielding up his gentle and suffering spirit.
In suniming up the character of Cowper, a contemporary biographer thus writes : “ Among the few, the very few, who have possessed that gift of a spirit full of the sweetness and the music of poetry, with this pure morality of purpose, is Cowper. The mind of this admirable writer was marked with the genuine traits which distinguish a poetical from other minds. He is, it is true, not to be compared with the great masters of the art, whose lofty and creative imaginations place them in a sphere of their own, but he had a power of collecting the scenes and harmonies of nature into the focus of his own heart, and of embuing them there with light and grace. He had an intensity and delicacy of feeling which made him perceive what is most beautiful in thecomplicated character of humanity, and he had that intuitive sense of the mind's action, which enabled him to present to others the objects and sentiments which influence with the greatest strength. By these qualities of his intellect, by the tenderness of his heart, and the extreme susceptibility of his nature, he was possessed of all the qualities, with the exception of a powerful imagination, which form the character of a port; and in being denied the stronger excitements of fancy, he seems to have been formed by Providence to produce the works he composed. He was endowed with all the powers which a poet could want who was to be the moralist of the world--the reprover, but not the satirist of men--the teacher of simple truths, which were to be rendered gracious without endangering their simplicity.”
To add much to this sketch respecting the merit of Cowper as a poet, would be superfluous. After passing through the many trials which criticism has instituted, he remains, "y universal acknowledgment, one of the first poets of the eighteenth century. Even without awaiting the issue of such trials, he attained a degree of popularity which is almost without a precedent, while the species of popularity which he has acquired is yet more honourable than the extent of it. Noman's works ever appeared with less of artificial preparation; no venal heralds proclaimed the approach of a new poet, nor told the world what it was to admire. He emerged from obscurity, the object of no patronage, and the adherent of no party. His fame, great and extensive as it is, arose from gradual conviction, and gratitude for pleasure received. The genius, the scholar, the critic, the devout man, and the man of the world, each found in the works of Cowper something to excite their admiration, something congenial with their habits and feelings, something which taste readily selected, and judgment decidedly confirmed.