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us days, months, and years, with such unparalleled address, that even while we say. they are here, they are gone. From infancy to manhood is rather a tedious period, chiefly, I suppose, because at that time we act under the con-' trol of others, and are not suffered to have a will of our own. But thence downward into the vale of years, is such a declivity, that we have just an opportunity to reflect upon the steepness of it, and then find ourselves at the bottom.
The passage which follows we should willingly have passed over, if we could have persuaded ourselves that it really belonged to Cowper. We can only trust ourselves to say that it is addressed to the Rev. 'Mr. Newton, the poet's friend and religious Mentor a person who not long afterwards “improved the occasion of Handel's celebrated Commemoration, by preaching a sermon on the profanation of that ceremony!
seems, together with others of our acquaintance, to have suffered considerably in his spiritual character by his attachment to music. The lawfulness of it, when used with moderation, and in its proper place, is unquestionable ; but I believe that wine itself, though a man be guilty of habitual intoxication, does not more debauch and befool the natural understanding, than music, always music, music in season and out of season, weakens and destroys the spiritual discernment. If it is not used with an unfeigned reference to the worship of God, and with a design to assist the soul in the performance of it, which cannot be the case when it is the only occupation, it degenerates into a sensual delight, and becomes a most powerful advocate for the admission of other pleasures, grosser perhaps in degree, but in their kind the same."
We meet with several passages in these volumes in which Cowper roundly asserts that all the light and humorous passages in his poetry are mere tricks invented purely to inveigle the reader into listening to something more serious and useful. To this, as before, we shall only venture to say, that the passages in question occur in letters addressed to Mr. Neuton. Here are two of them :
: Be that as it may, it is quite sufficient that I have played the antic myself for their diversion, and that, in a state of dejection such as they are absolute strangers to, I have sometimes put on an air of cheerfulness and vi, vacity, to which I myself am in reality a stranger, for the sake of winning their attention to more useful matter."
* By the way–will it not be proper, as you have taken some notice of the modish dress I wear in Table Talk, to include Conversation in the same de scription, which is (the first half of it, at least, the most airy of the two They will otherwise think, perhaps, that the observation might as well have been spared entirely; though I should have been sorry if it had, for when I am jocular I do violence to myself, and am therefore pleased with your telling them, in a civil way, that I play the fool to amuse them, not because I am one myself, but because I have a foolish world to deal with.","i!
The following is as agreeable a specimen as we ever recollect to have met with of the intentional purturiunt montes," &c.
“ This afternoon the maid opened the parlour-door, and told us there was a lady in the kitchen. We desired she might be introduced, and prepared for the reception of Mrs. Jones. But it proved to be a lady unknowo to us, and not Mrs. Jones. She walked directly up to Mrs. Unwin, and never drew back till their noses were almost in contact." It seemed as if she meant to salute her. An uncommon degree of familiarity, accompanied with an air of most extraordinary gravity, made me think' her little, crazy. I was alarmed, and so was Mrs. Unwin. She had a bundle in her hand silk handkerchief tied up at the four corners. When I found she was not mad, I
took her for a smuggler, and made no doubt but she had brought samples of contraband goods. But our surprise, considering the lady's appearance and deportment, was tenfold what it had been, when we found that it was' Mary Philips's daughter, who had brought us a few apples by way of a specimen of a quantity she had for sale."
The letters addressed to Mr. Newton may be searched long enough before we shall find in them such a passage as the following. Poor Cowper, with all his tenderness of heart, never forgot what was due to that gentleman--or rather what was expected by him. The passage is part of a letter to his old friend Mr. Hill, and refers to some one whom he has introduced to Cowper,
*** I have seen him but for half an hour, yet, without boasting of much discernment, I see that he is polite, easy, cheerful, and sensible. An old man thus qualified, cannot fail to charm the lady in question. As to his religion, I leave it I atn neithet his bishop nor his confessor. A man of his character, and recommended by you, would be welcome herë, were he a Gentoo, or a Mahometan.”
We cannot resist the temptation of contrasting this with another passage of a very different character. Cowper has been describing the brilliant career of a man of family and fortune, who, after passing his youth abroad in folly and extravagancë, returns, and "again makes å splendid figure at bome-shines in the senate--governs his country as its minister-is admired for his abilities—and, if successful, adored, at least by a party;" and this imaginary person he contrasts with one of the poor but pious cottagers at Olney. He adds—" Who would suspect, that has not a spiritual eye to discern it, that the fine gentleman was one whom his Muker had in abhorrence, and the wretch last mentioned dear to him as the apple of his eye?"-(Vol. i. 230.)-Who, indeed !We need not say to whom this is addressed.
Having already found that our limits will not permit us to say all that we wish to say, on the painful part of our subject to which this last extract belongs, we had abandoned our intention of making any farther allusions to it on the present occasion. But the above passages written within a very short period of each other, offered, to our thinking, so striking an illustration of the real state of the case, that we could not refuse to pick them up in passing, and lay them before the reader, who may draw what inference from them he pleases. Once for all, however, we entirely acquit Mr. Hayley of all blame in suppressing such passages as the last that we have given; for they are no more to be attributed to his amiable and gentle-hearted friend, than the foul and blasphemous ravings of the youthful priestess of some Indian idolatry are to be considered as proceeding, from the gentle form through which they do but pass. Neither do we, on the other hand, attach any thing like censure to the gentleman who has now giveti these passages, and a variety of similar ones, to the world. Whatever may have been his motive for so doing, (and we cannot conceive it to have been other than a justifiable one, as it respects himself and his deceased relative,) we, the Public --who desire to know all that can be known about every one of whom we are in. terested in knowing any things are obviously indebted to him : though we cannot but suspect that he little anticipated the use to which the information he has furnished us with is capable of being applied.
I see you
But pass we on to the more agreeable part of our task. Nothing can be more picturesque than the first portion of the following extract, rior more amiably easy than the second. "At seven o'clock this evening, being the seventh of December, I imagine
box at the coffee-house. No doubt the waiter, as inge nious and adroit as his predecessors were before him, raises the tea-pot to the ceiling with his right hand, while in his left the tea-cup descending almost to the floor, receives a liinpid stream; linipid in its descent, but po sooner has it reached its destination, than frothing and foaming to the view, it becomes a roaring syllabub. This is the nineteenth winter since I saw you in this situation; and if nineteen more pass over me before I die, I shall still remember a circumstance we have often laughed at.
How different is the complexion of your evenings and mine! yours, spent amid the ceaseless hum that proceeds from the inside of fifty noisy and busy, periwigs; mine, by a domestic fire-side, in a retreat as silent as retirement can make it; where no noise is made but what we make for our own ainusement. For instance, here are two rustics, and your humble servant in company. One of the ladies has been playing on the harpsichord, while 1, with the other, have been playing at baitledore and shuttlecock, A little dog, in the mean time, howling under the chair of the former, performed, in the vocal way, to admiration. This entertainment over, I began my letter, and having nothing more important to communicate, have given you an account of it. I know you love dearly to be idle, when you can find an opportunity to be so; but as such opportunities are rare with you, I thought it possible that a short description of the idleness I enjoy might give you pleasure. The happiness we cannot call our own, we yet seem to possess, while we sympathize with our friends who can." * We hold this to be the perfection of letter-writing. What follows is equally good in its way.' It is, in fact, one of the best specimens of cool, contemptuous irony that we are anywhere acquainted with.
give you joy of the restoration of that sincere and firm friendship between the Kings of England and France, that has been so long interrupted. It is a great pity, when hearts so cordially united are divided by trifles. Thirteen pitiful colonics, which the King of England chose to keep, and the King of France to obtain, if he could, have disturbed that harmony which would else, no doubt, have subsisted between those illustrious personages to this moment. If the King of France, whose greatness of mind is only Yequalled by that of his Queen, had regarded them, unworthy of his notice as they were, with an eye of suitable indifference; or, had he thought it a matter deserring in any degree his princely attention, that they were, in reality, the property of his good friend the King of England; or, had the latter been less obstinately determined 10 hold fast his interest in them, and could be, with that cívility and politeness in which monarchs are expected to excel, have Yentreated his Majesty of France to accept a bagatelle, for which he seemed to have conceived so strong a predilection, all this mischief had been prePerted. But monarchs, alas! crowned and sceptred as they are, are yet but men; they fall out, and are reconciled, just like the meanest of their subjects.
I cannot, however, sufficiently admire the moderation and magnanimity of the King of England. His dear friend on the other side of the Channel, has not indeed taken actual possession of the colonies in question, but he has effeetually wrested them out of the hands of their original owner, who, devertheJess, letting fall the extinguisher of patience upon the Aame of his resentinent, and glowing with no other fiame than that of the sincerest affection, emtraces the King of France again, gives him Senegal and Goree in Africa, gives "him the islands he had taken from him in the West, gives him his conquered territories in the East, gives him a fislıery upon the banks of Newfoudland; and; as if all this were too little, merely because he knows that Louis has a partiality for the King of Spain, gives to the latter an island in the Mediterranean, which thousands of English had purchased with their lives ; ands in America, all that he wanted, at least all ihat he could ask. No doubt there will be great cordiality between this royal trio for the future: and though wars may perhaps be kindled between iheir posterity, some ages hence, the present generation shall never be witnesses of such a calamity again. I expect soon to hear that the Queen of France, who, just before this rupture happened, made the Queen of England a present of a watch, has, in acknowledgment of all these acts of kindness, sent her also a seal wherewith to ratify the treaty. Surely she can do no less”
Here is an exceedingly droll description, written in Cowper's own genuine and exquisitely humorous manner :
“ He had stolen some iron-work, the property of Griggs, the butcher. Being convicted, he was ordered to be whipi ; which operation he underwent at the cart's tail, from the stone-house to the high arch, and back again. He seemed to shew great fortitude, but it was all an imposition upon the public. The beadle, who performed it, had filled his left hand with red ochre, through which, after every stroke, he drew the lash of his whip, leaving the appearance of a wound upon the skin, but in reality not hurting him at all.' This being perceived by Mr. Constable H
, who followed the beadle, he applied his cane, without any such management or precaution, to the shoulders of the too merciful executioner. The scene iminediately became more interesting. The beadle could by no means be prevailed upon to strike hard, which provoked the constable to strike harder; and this double flogging continued, till a lass of Silver-end, pitying the pitiful beadle thus suffering under the hands of the pitiless constable, joined the procession, and placing herself immediately behind the latter, seized him by his capillary club, and pulling him backwards by the same, slapt his face with a inost Amazonian fury. This concatenation of events has taken up more of my paper than I intended it should; but I could not forbear to inform you how the beadle threshed the thief, the constable the beadle, and the lady the constable, and how the thief was the only person concerned who'suffered nothing."
We shall conclude our extracts from the first volume, with a charmingly light and lively passage, on the manner in which tiine escapes from us in these short postdiluvian days:
“ It is wonderful how, by means of such real or seeming necessities, my time is stolen away. I have just time to observe that time is short; and, by the time I have made the observation, time is gone. I have wondered in former days at the patience of the antediluvian world ; that they could endure a life almost millenary, with so little variety as seems to have fallen to their share. It is probable that they had much fewer einployments than we. Their affairs lay in a narrower compass; their libraries were indifferently furnishedphilosophical researches were carried on with much less industry and acuteness of penetration, and fiddles, perhaps, were not even invented. How then could seven or eight hundred years of life be supportable? I have asked this question formerly, and been at a loss to resolve it; but I think I can answer it now. I will suppose myself born a thousand years before Noah was born or thought of. I'rise with the sun; I worship; I prepare my breakfast; ! swallow a bucket of goats’-milk, and a dozen good sizeable cakes. I fasten a new string to my bow; and my youngest boy, a lad of about thirty years of age, having played with my arrows till he has stript off all the feathers, I find myself obliged to repair them. The morning is thus spent in preparing for the chace, and it is become necessary that I should dine. I dig up my roots ; I wash them; I boil them ; I find them not done enough, I boil them again; my wife is angry; we dispute ; we settle the point ; but in the mean time the fire goes out, and must be kindled again. All this is very amusing. I hunt; I bring home the prey; with the skin of itt mcad au old coat, or I make a new one. By this time the day is far
spent; 1 feel myself fatigued, and retire to rest Thus what with tilling the ground, and eating the fruit of it, hunting and walking, and running, and mending old clothes, and sleeping and rising again, I can suppose an inhabitant of the primæval world so much occupied as to sigh over the shortness of life, and to find, at the end of many centuries, that they had all slipt through his fingers, and were passed away like a shadow. What wonder then that I, who live in a day of so much greater refinement, when there is so much more to be wanted, and wished, and to be enjoyed, should feel myself now and then pinched in point of opportunity, and at some loss for leisure to fill four sides a sheet like this however, it is ; and the ancient gentlemen to whom I have referred, and their complaints of the disproportion of time to the occasions they had for it, will not serve me as an excuse, I must eren plead guilty, and confess that I am often in haste, when I have no good reason for being so.”
It seems almost šuperfluous for us to say, that a work, from which such extracts as these four last can be culled in the space of a few pages, recommends itself to general attention, as a source of the most agreeable amusement.
The second volume of these letters is not so light and miscellaneous in its character as the first; but to many readers it will prove even more deeply interesting, on account of its admitting us more fully into the melancholy places of Cowper's mind. Leaving the reader, however, to make this part of the investigation for himself, we can only afford space for a slight reference to that portion of the present collection which has now, for the first time, been submitted to the selecting hand of editorship. These are the series of letters addressed to Mrs. King, the wife of Dr. King, Rector of Kimbolton; and we may safely pronounce them to be, generally speaking, and in proportion to their extent, of equal value and interest with any of the writer's that have hitherto been submitted to public notice. It seems that the lady, on the appearance of Cowper's poems, had commenced a correspondence with him, on the score of an ancient intimacy with his brother. This led to an interchange of civilities, which ended in a strict and intimate friendships and the letters now published as part of this work, are a selection from the results of that intimacy. These letters are for the most part of a light, lively, and cheerful description; containing reminiscences of the happy part of the poet's past life, notices of the progress of his works, sketches of the manner in which he spends his time, &c. &c. And all this nearly unmingled with any melancholy or despondence; and the whole written with that delightful ease of manner, and graceful propriety of expression, in which Cowper has never been surpassed. In fact, to those readers who search these volumes for mere amusement, the portion of it to wbich we are now referring will form its chief attraction; and the rather, that, as we before hinted, it has never passed through any selecting hands. Our limits preclude us from giving any farther extracts ; but we refer the general reader to the following letters, as especially proving what we have now stated : the letter at page 117, giving a rapid sketch of the writer's past life; that at page 150, where he draws an imaginary portrait of his correspondent, whom he has not yet seen; the charming one at page 162, where he describes to her his mode of passing his time before he took to writing poetry; and one at page 218, where he describes his manner of writing his translation of Homer, out in the fields, on scraps of her letters. In short,