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researches-he was master of twenty-eight lan- produced his noble Alcaic Ode, animated by the guages-were the wonder and admiration of his purest spirit of patriotism, and a high strain of contemporaries. Sir William was born in Lon- poetical enthusiasm. He was appointed one of don in 1746. His father was an eminent mathe- the judges of the supreme court at Fort William, matician, but died when his son was only three in Bengal, and the honour of knighthood was years of age. The care of educating young Jones conferred upon him. He married the daughter of devolved upon his mother, who was well qualified Dr Shipley, bishop of St Asaph ; and in April for the duty by her virtues and extensive learning. 1783, in his thirty-seventh year, he embarked for When in his fifth year, the imagination of the India, never to return. Sir William Jones entered young scholar was caught by the sublime descrip- upon his judicial functions with all the advantages tion of the angel in the tenth chapter of the of a high reputation, unsullied integrity, disinterApocalypse, and the impression was never effaced. ested benevolence, and unwearied perseverance. In 1753 he was placed at Harrow School, where in the intervals of leisure from his duties, he he continued nearly ten years, and became an directed his attention to scientific objects, and accomplished and critical classical scholar. He established a society in Calcutta to promote did not confine himself merely to the ancient inquiries by the ingenious, and to concentrate the authors usually studied, but added a knowledge of knowledge to be collected in Asia. In 1784, his the Arabic characters, and acquired sufficient health being affected by the climate and the Hebrew to read the Psalms. In 1764 he was closeness of his application, he made a tour entered of University College, Oxford. Here his through various parts of India, in the course of taste for oriental literature continued, and he en- which he wrote The Enchanted Fruit, or Hindu gaged a native of Aleppo, whom he had discovered Wife, a poetical tale, and a Treatise on the Gods in London, to act as his preceptor. He also assidu- of Greece, Italy, and India. He also studied the ously perused the Greek poets and historians. Sanscrit language, being unwilling to continue at In his nineteenth year, Jones accepted an offer to the mercy of the Pundits, who dealt out Hindu be private tutor to Lord Althorp, afterwards Earl law as they pleased. Some translations from oriSpencer. A fellowship at Oxford was also con- ental authors, and original poems and essays, he ferred upon him, and thus the scholar was relieved contributed to a periodical established at Calcutta, from the fear of want, and enabled to pursue his entitled The Asiatic Miscellany. He meditated favourite and unremitting studies. An opportunity an epic poem on the discovery of England by of displaying one branch of his acquirements was Brutus, and had matured his design so far as to afforded in 1768. The king of Denmark in that write the arguments of the intended books of his year visited England, and brought with him an epic, but the poem itself he did not live to attempt. eastern manuscript, containing the life of Nadir In 1789, Sir William translated an ancient Indian Shah, which he wished translated into French. drama, Sacontala, or the Fatal Ring, which exhibits Jones executed this arduous task, being, as Lord a picture of Hindu manners in the century preTeignmouth, his biographer, remarks, the only ceding the Christian era. He engaged to compile oriental scholar in England adequate to the per- a digest of Hindu and Mohammedan laws; and formance. He still continued in the noble family in 1794 he translated the Ordinances of Menu, or of Spencer, and in 1769 accompanied his pupil to the Hindu system of duties, religious and civil. the continent. Next year, feeling anxious to attain His motive to this task, like his inducement to the an independent station in life, he entered himself digest, was to aid the benevolent intentions of our a student of the Temple, and, applying himself legislature in securing to the natives, in a qualified with his characteristic ardour to his new profes- degree, the administration of justice by their own sion, he contemplated with pleasure the stately laws. Sir William died April 27, 1794. Every edifice of the laws of England, and mastered their honour was paid to his remains, and the East most important principles and details. In 1774, India Company erected a monument to his memory he published Commentaries on Asiatic Poetry, but in St Paul's Cathedral. The attainments of Sir finding that jurisprudence was a jealous mistress, William Jones were so profound and various, that and would not admit the eastern muses to parti- it is difficult to conceive how he had comprised cipate in his attentions, he devoted himself for them in his short life of forty-eight years. With some years exclusively to his legal studies. A respect to the division of his time, he had written patriotic feeling was mingled with this resolution. in India, on a small piece of paper, the following
Had I lived at Rome or Athens,' he said, 'I lines : should have preferred the labours, studies, and
Sir Edward Coke : dangers of their orators and illustrious citizens
Six hours in sleep, in law's grave study six, connected as they were with banishment and even death-to the groves of the poets or the gardens
Four spend in prayer—the rest on nature fix. of the philosophers. Here I adopt the same
Rather : resolution. The constitution of England is in no Seven hours to law, to soothing slumber seven, respect inferior to that of Rome or Athens.' Jones Ten to the world allot, and all to heaven.* now practised at the bar, and was appointed one of the Commissioners of Bankrupts. In 1778, he
An Ode, in Imitation of Alcaus. published a translation of the speeches of Isæus,
What constitutes a state? in causes concerning the law of succession tó
Not high-raised battlement or laboured mound, property at Athens, to which he added notes and Thick wall or moated gate; a commentary. The stirring events of the time in Not cities proud with spires and turrets crowned ; which he lived were not beheld without strong interest by this accomplished scholar. He was * As respects sleep, the example of Sir Walter Scott may be decidedly opposed to the American war and to added to that of Sir William Jones, for the great novelist has
stated that he required seven hours of total unconsciousness to fit the slave-trade, then so prevalent, and in 1781 he him for the duties of the day.
Not bays and broad-armed ports,
Not starred and spangled courts,
No: men, high-minded men,
In forest, brake, or den,
Men who their duties know,
Prevent the long-aimed blow,
These constitute a state,
O'er thrones and globes elate
Smit by her sacred frown,
And e'en the all-dazzling Crown
Such was this heaven-loved isle,
No more shall Freedom smile?
Since all must life resign,
'Tis folly to decline,
While music charms the ravished ear;
The Concluding Sentence of Berkeley's Siris imitated.
Before thy mystic altar, heavenly Truth,
Tetrastic- From the Persian. On parent knees, a naked new-born child, Weeping thou sat'st while all around thee smiled; So live, that sinking in thy last long sleep, Calm thou may'st smile, while all around thee weep.
NATHANIEL COTTON. NATHANIEL COTTON (1721-1788) wrote Visions in Verse, for children, and a volume of poetical Miscellanies. He followed the medical profession in St Albans, and was distinguished for his skill in the treatment of cases of insanity. Cowper, his patient, bears evidence to his well-known humanity and sweetness of temper.'
A Persian Song of Hafiz. Sweet maid, if thou wouldst charm my sight, And bid these arms thy neck enfold ; That rosy cheek, that lily hand, Would give thy poet more delight Than all Bokhara's haunted gold, Than all the gems of Samarcand. Boy, let yon liquid ruby flow, And bid thy pensive heart be glad, Whate'er the frowning zealots say: Tell them, their Eden cannot shew A stream so clear as Rocnabad, A bower so sweet as Mosellay. Oh! when these fair perfidious maids, Whose eyes our secret haunts infest, Their dear destructive charms display, Each glance my tender breast invades, And robs my wounded soul of rest, As Tartars seize their destined prey. In vain with love our bosoms glow : Can all our tears, can all our sighs, New lustre to those charms impart? Can cheeks, where living roses blow, Where nature spreads her richest dyes, Require the borrowed gloss of art? Speak not of fate : ah ! change the theme, And talk of odours, talk of wine, Talk of the flowers that round us bloom : 'Tis all a cloud, 'tis all a dream; To love and joy thy thoughts confine, Nor hope to pierce the sacred gloom. Beauty has such resistless power, That even the chaste Egyptian dame Sighed for the blooming Hebrew boy : For her how fatal was the hour, When to the banks of Nilus came A youth so lovely and so coy! But ah! sweet maid, my counsel hearYouth should attend when those advise Whom long experience renders sage
In folly's maze advance ;
Nor join the giddy dance.
Where love our hours employs;
To spoil our heartfelt joys.
And they are fools who roam :
And that dear hut-our home.
That safe retreat, the ark ;
Explored the sacred bark. * The following is the last sentence of the Siris: 'He that would make a real progress in knowledge must dedicate his age as well as youth, the latter growth as well as the first-fruits, at the altar of Truth.'
Though fools spurn Hymen's gentle powers, Spencer Cowper, one of the judges of the court We, who improve his golden hours,
of Common Pleas, and a younger brother of By sweet experience know,
the first Earl Cowper, lord chancellor. His That marriage, rightly understood,
mother was allied to some of the noblest families Gives to the tender and the good
in England, descended by four different lines A paradise below.
from King Henry III. This lofty lineage cannot Our babes shall richest comforts bring ;
add to the lustre of the poet's fame, but it sheds If tutored right, they 'll prove a spring
additional grace on his piety and humility. Dr Whence pleasures ever rise :
Cowper, besides his royal chaplaincy, held the We 'll form their minds, with studious care, rectory of Great Berkhamstead, in the county of To all that's manly, good, and fair,
Hertford, and there the poet was born, November And train them for the skies.
15, 1731. In his sixth year he lost his motherWhile they our wisest hours engage,
whom he tenderly and affectionately remembered They 'll joy our youth, support our age,
through all his life—and was placed at a boardingAnd crown our hoary hairs :
school, where he continued two years. The They 'll grow in virtue every day;
tyranny of one of his school-fellows, who held And thus our fondest loves repay,
in complete subjection and abject fear the tiinid And recompense our cares.
and home-sick boy, led to his removal from this
seminary, and undoubtedly prejudiced him against No borrowed joys, they 're all our own,
the whole system of public education. He was While to the world we live unknown,
next placed at Westminster School, where he had Or by the world forgot : Monarchs ! we envy not your statc ;
Churchill and Warren Hastings as schoolfellows, We look with pity on the great,
and where, as he says, he served a seven years' And bless our humbler lot.
apprenticeship to the classics. At the age of
eighteen he was removed, in order to be articled Our portion is not large, indeed ;
to an attorney. Having passed through this But then how little do we need !
training-with the future Lord Chancellor Thurlow For nature's calls are few :
for his fellow-clerk-Cowper, in 1754, was called In this the art of living lies,
to the bar. He never made the law a study: in To want no more than may suffice,
the solicitor's office he and Thurlow were And make that little do.
stantly employed from morning to night in giggling We'll therefore relish with content
and making giggle,' and in his chambers in the Whate'er kind providence has sent,
Temple he wrote gay verses, and associated with Nor aim beyond our power ;
Bonnel Thornton, Colman, Lloyd, and other wits. For, if our stock be very small,
He contributed a few papers to the Connoisseur 'Tis prudence to enjoy it all,
and to the St James's Chronicle, both conducted Nor lose the present hour.
by his friends. Darker days were at hand.
Cowper's father was now dead, his patrimony
was small, and he was in his thirty-second year, And pleased with favours given ;
almost 'unprovided with an aim,' for the law was Dear Chloe, this is wisdom's part ;
with him a mere nominal profession. In this This is that incense of the heart,
crisis of his fortunes his kinsman, Major Cowper, Whose fragrance smells to heaven. presented him to the office of clerk of the journals
to the House of Lords-a desirable and lucrative We'll ask no long-protracted treat, Since winter-lise is seldom sweet ;
appointment. Cowper accepted it; but the labour But when our feast is o'er,
of studying the forms of procedure, and the dread Grateful from table we'll arise,
of qualifying himself by appearing at the bar Nor grudge our sons with envious eyes
of the House of Lords, plunged him in the deepest The relics of our store.
misery and distress. The seeds of insanity were
then in his frame ; and after brooding over his Thus, hand in hand, through lise we'll go ; fancied ills till reason had fled, he attempted to Its checkered paths of joy and woe
commit suicide. Happily this desperate effort With cautious steps we 'll tread;
failed; the appointment was given up, and Quit its vain scenes without a tear,
Cowper was removed to a private madhouse at Without a trouble or a fear,
St Albans, kept by Dr Cotton. The cloud of And mingle with the dead :
horror gradually passed away, and on his recovery, While conscience, like a faithful friend,
he resolved to withdraw entirely from the society Shall through the gloomy vale attend,
and business of the world. He had still a small And cheer our dying breath;
portion of his funds left, and his friends subscribed Shall, when all other comforts cease,
a further sum, to enable him to live frugally in Like a kind angel, whisper peace,
retirement. The bright hopes of Cowper's youth And smooth the bed of death.
seemed thus to have all vanished : his prospects of advancement in the world were gone ; and in
the new-born zeal of his religious fervour, his WILLIAM COWPER.
friends might well doubt whether his reason had WILLIAM COWPER (1731-1800), 'the most been completely restored. He retired to the popular poet of his generation, and the best of town of Huntingdon, near Cambridge, where his English letter-writers,' as Southey has desig- brother resided, and there formed an intimacy nated him, belonged emphatically to the aristoc- with the family of the Rev. Morley Unwin, a racy of England. His father, the Rev. Dr clergyman resident in the place. He was adopted
Cowper, chaplain to George II., was the son of as one of the family; and when Mr Unwin him
self was suddenly removed, the same conection pared with The Task, are like formal gardens in was continued with his widow. Death only could comparison with woodland scenery. As soon as sever a tie so strongly knit-cemented by mutual he had completed his labours for the publication faith and friendship, and by sorrows of which the of his second volume, Cowper entered upon an world knew nothing. To the latest generation undertaking of a still more arduous nature-a the name of Mary Unwin will be united with that translation of Homer. He had gone through the of Cowper, partaker of his fame as of his sad great Grecian at Westminster School, and afterdecline :
wards read him critically in the Temple, and he By seraphs writ with beams of heavenly light.
was impressed with but a poor opinion of the
translation of Pope. Setting himself to a daily After the death of Mr Unwin in 1767, the task of forty lines, he at length accomplished the family were advised by the Rev. John Newton- forty thousand verses. He published by subscripa remarkable man in many respects-to fix their tion, in which his friends were generously active. abode at Olney, in the northern division of Bucking. The work appeared in 1791, in two volumes quarto. hamshire, where Mr Newton himself officiated as In the interval the poet and Mrs Unwin had recurate. This was accordingly done, and Cowper moved to Weston, a beautiful village about a mile removed with them to a spot which he has from Olney. His cousin, Lady Hesketh, a woman consecrated by his genius. He had still the river of refined and fascinating manners, had visited Ouse with him, as at Huntingdon, but the scenery him ; he had also formed a friendly intimacy with is more varied and attractive, and abounds in the family of the Throckmortons, to whom Weston fine retired walks. His life was that of a religious belonged, and his circumstances were comparrecluse; he ceased corresponding with his friends, atively easy. His malady, however, returned and associated only with Mrs Unwin and Newton. upon him with full force, and Mrs Unwin being The latter engaged his assistance in writing a rendered helpless by palsy, the task of nursing her volume of hymns, but his morbid melancholy fell upon the sensitive and dejected poet. A caregained ground, and in 1773 it became a case of ful revision of his Homer, and an engagement to decided insanity. About two years were passed edit a new edition of Milton, were the last literary in this unhappy state. The poet, as appears undertakings of Cowper. The former he comfrom a diary kept by Newton, would have been pleted, but without improving the first edition : married to Mrs Unwin but for this calamity. On his second task was never finished. A deepening his recovery, Cowper took to gardening, rearing gloom settled on his mind, with occasionally hares, drawing landscapes, and composing poetry. bright intervals. A visit to his friend Hayley, at The latter was fortunately the most permanent Eartham, produced a short cessation of his mental enjoyment; and its fruits appeared in a volume suffering, and in 1794 a pension of £300 was of poems published in 1782. The sale of the granted to him from the crown. He was induced, work was slow; but his friends were eager in its | in 1795, to remove with Mrs Unwin to Norfolk, on praise, and it received the approbation of Johnson a visit to some relations, and there Mrs Unwin and Franklin. His correspondence was resumed, died on the 17th of December 1796. The unhappy and cheerfulness again became an inmate of his poet would not believe that his long-tried friend retreat at Olney. This happy change was aug- was actually dead; he went to see the body, and mented by the presence of a third party, Lady on witnessing the unaltered placidity of death, Austen, a widow, who came to reside in the flung himself to the other side of the room with a immediate neighbourhood of Olney, and whose passionate expression of feeling, and from that conversation for a time charmed away the melan- time he never mentioned her name or spoke of her choly spirit of Cowper. She told him the story again. He lingered on for more than three years, of John Gilpin, and 'the famous horseman and still under the same dark shadow of religious his feats were an inexhaustible source of merri- despondency and terror, but occasionally writing, ment.' Lady Austen also prevailed upon the poet and listening attentively to works read to him by to try his powers in blank verse, and from her his friends. His last poem was the Castaway, a suggestion sprung the noble poem of The Task. strain of touching and beautiful verse, which This memorable friendship was at length dis- shewed no decay of his poetical powers : at length solved. The lady exacted too much of the time death came to his release on the 25th of April 1800. and attention of the poet-perhaps a shade of So sad and strange a destiny has never before or jealousy on the part of Mrs Unwin, with respect since been that of a man of genius. With wit and to the superior charms and attractions of her rival, humour at will, he was nearly all his life plunged intervened to increase the alienation-and before in the darkest melancholy. Innocent, pious, and The Task was finished, its fair inspirer had left confiding, he lived in perpetual dread of everlastOlney without any intention of returning to it. In ing punishment : he could only see between him 1785 the new volume was published. Its success and heaven a high wall which he despaired of ever was instant and decided. *The public were glad being able to scale; yet his intellectual vigour was to hear the true voice of poetry and of nature, and not subdued by affliction. What he wrote for in the rural descriptions and fireside scenes of amusement or relief in the midst of 'supreme disThe Task, they saw the features of English scenery tress,' surpasses the elaborate efforts of others and domestic life faithfully delineated. • The made under the most favourable circumstances ; Task,' says Southey, 'was at once descriptive, and in the very winter of his days, his fancy was moral, and satirical." The descriptive parts every- | as fresh and blooming as in the spring and where bore evidence of a thoughtful mind and a morning of existence. That he was constitutiongentle spirit, as well as of an observant eye; and ally prone to melancholy and insanity, seems unthe moral sentiment which pervaded them gave a doubted ; but the predisposing causes were as charm in which descriptive poetry is often found surely aggravated by his strict and secluded mode wanting. The best didactic poems, when com- of life. Lady Hesketh was a better guide and
companion than John Newton; and no one can Ennobling every region that he chose. read his letters without observing that cheerful
He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose ; ness was inspired by the one, and terror by the And, tedious years of Gothic darkness past, other. The iron frame of Newton could stand Emerged all splendour in our isle at last. unmoved amidst shocks that destroyed the shrink
Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main, ing and apprehensive mind of Cowper. All, how
Then shew far off their shining plumes again. ever, have now gone to their account—the stern The poem of Conversation in this volume is rich yet kind minister, the faithful Mary Unwin, the in Addisonian humour and satire, and formed no gentle high-born relations who forsook ease, and unworthy prelude to The Task. In Hope and luxury, and society to soothe the misery of one Retirement, we see traces of the descriptive powers wretched being, and that immortal being himself and natural pleasantry afterwards so finely dehas passed away, scarcely conscious that he had veloped. The highest flight in the whole, and the bequeathed an imperishable treasure to mankind. one most characteristic of Cowper, is his sketch of We have greater and loftier poets than Cowper, but none so entirely incorporated, as it were, with our daily existence-none so completely a
The Greenland Missionaries. friend--our companion in woodland wanderings,
That sound bespeaks salvation on her way, and in moments of serious thought-ever gentle The trumpet of a life-restoring day ; and affectionate, even in his transient fits of 'Tis heard where England's eastern glory shines, ascetic gloom-a pure mirror of affections, regrets, And in the gulfs of her Cornubian mines. feelings, and desires which we have all felt or And stills it spreads. See Germany send forth would wish to cherish. Shakspeare, Spenser, and Her sons to pour it on the furthest north; Milton are spirits of ethereal kind : Cowper is a
Fired with a zeal peculiar, they defy steady and valuable friend, whose society we may
The rage and rigour of a polar sky,“ sometimes neglect for that of more splendid and
And plant successfully sweet Sharon's rose attractive associates, but whose unwavering prin
On icy plains and in eternal snows.
O Ślest within the inclosure of your rocks, ciple and purity of character, joined to rich intel
Nor herds have ye to boast, nor bleating flocks; lectual powers, overflow upon us in secret, and
No fertilising streams your fields divide, bind us to him for ever.
That shew reversed the villas on their side ; It is scarcely to be wondered at that Cowper's No groves have ye ; no cheerful sound of bird, first volume was coldly received. The subjects of Or voice of turtle in your land is heard ; his poems (Table Talk, the Progress of Error, Nor grateful eglantine regales the smell Truth, Expostulation, Hope, Charity, &c.) did not Of those that walk at evening where ye dwell; promise much, and his manner of handling them But Winter, armed with terrors here unknown, was not calculated to conciliate a fastidious public.
Sits absolute on his unshaken throne, He was both too harsh and too spiritual for general
Piles up his stores amidst the frozen waste, readers. Johnson had written moral poems in
And bids the mountains he has built stand fast;
Beckons the legions of his storms away the same form of verse, but they possessed a rich
From happier scenes to make your lands a prey ; declamatory grandeur and brilliancy of illustration
Proclaims the soil a conquest he has won, which Cowper did not attempt, and probably And scorns to share it with the distant sun. would, from principle, have rejected. There are Yet Truth is yours, remote unenvied isle ! passages, however, in these evangelical works of
And Peace, the genuine offspring of her smile ;
That decks with all the splendour of the true,
A false religion, is unknown to you.
Soft airs and genial moisture feed and cheer
Field, fruit, and flower, and every creature here ; B. Not so ; the virtue still adorns our age,
But brighter beams than his who fires the skies Though the chief actor died upon the stage.
Have risen at length on your admiring eyes, In him Demosthenes was heard again ;
That shoot into your darkest caves the day
From which our nicer optics turn away.
In this mixture of argument and piety, poetry His speech, his form, his action full of grace,
and plain sense, we have the distinctive traits of And all his country beaming in his face,
Cowper's genius. The freedom acquired by comHe stood as some inimitable hand
position, and especially the presence of Lady Would strive to make a Paul or Tully stand.
Austen, led to more valuable results; and when he No sycophant or slave that dared oppose
entered upon The Task, he was far more disposed Her sacred cause, but trembled when he rose ; And every venal stickler for the yoke,
to look at the sunny side of things, and to launch Felt himself crushed at the first word' he spoke.
into general description. His versification under
went a similar improvement. His former poems Neither has the fine simile with which the follow- were often rugged in style and expression, and ing retrospect closes :
were made so on purpose to avoid the polished Ages elapsed ere Homer's lamp appeared,
uniformity of Pope and his imitators. He was And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard ;
now sensible that he had erred on the opposite side, To carry nature lengths unknown before,
and accordingly The Task was made to unite To give a Milton birth asked ages more.
strength and freedom with elegance and harmony. Thus genius rose and set at ordered times,
No poet has introduced so much idiomatic expresAnd shot a dayspring into distant climes,
sion into a grave poem of blank verse ; but the