Marianne, that he was going to rejoin his battalion ; but all enquiries after him have since been fruitless: this unhappy young man has been heard of no more!

I am, &c.

Wm. Cowper, Esq. (the Poet) to S. Rose, Esq.

Weston, July 24, 1787 DEAR SIR, THIS is the first time I have written these six months, and nothing but the constraint of obligation could induce ine to write now. I cannot be so wanting to myself, as not to endeavour, at least, to thank you, both for the visits with which you have favoured me, and the Poems that you have sent me.

In my present state of mind, I taste nothing; nevertheless I read, partly from habit, and partly because it is the only thing that I am capable of.

I have, therefore, read-Burn's Poems, and have read them twice; and though they be written in a language that is new to me, and many of them on subjects inuch inferior to the author's ability, I think them, on the whole, a very extraordinary production. He is, I believe, the only poet these kingdoms have produced in the lower rank of life, since Shakespeare, I should rather say since

Prior, who need not be indebted for any part of his · praise to a charitable consideration of his origin, and the disadvantages under which he laboured. It will be pity. if he should not hereafter divest himself of barbarism, and content himself with writing pure English in which he appears perfectly qualified to excel." He who can command admiration,


[ocr errors]

dishonours himself if he aims no higher than to raise a laugh.

I am, dear Sir, with my best wishes for your prosperity, and with Mrs. Unwin's respects, your obliged and affectionate humble servant,

W. C.

IV m. Couper, Esq. to Samuel Rose, Esq.

Weston, August 27, 1787. DEAR SIR, I HAVE not yet taken up the pen again, except to write to you." The little taste that I have had of your company, and your kindness in finding me out, make me wish that we were rearer neighbours, and that there was not so great a disparity in our years; that is to say, not that you were older, but that I were younger. Could we have met in early life, I fatter myself that we might have been more intimate than now we are likely to be. But you shall not find me sloir to cultivate

measure of your regard, as your friends. of your ovn age can spare me.;


your route shall lie through this country, I shall hope the same kindness which has prompted you twice to call on me, will prompt you again ; and I shall be happy if, on a future occasion, I may be able to give you a more cheerful reception, than can be expected from an invalid. My health and spirits are considerably improved, and I once more associate with my neighbours. My head, however, has been the worst part of me, and still continues -S0; is subject to giddiness and pain---maladies very unfavourable to poetical employment; but a preparation of the bark, which I take regularly, has

such a

so far been of service to me in those respects, as to encourage in me a hope, that by perseverance in the use of it, I may possibly find myself qualified to resume the translation of Homer.

When I cannot walk, I read, and read perhaps more than is good for me ; but I cannot be idle. The only mercy that I shew myself in this respect is, that I read nothing that requires much closeness of application,

I lately finished the perusal of a book, which, in former years, I have more than once attacked, but never till now conquered : some other book always interfered, before I could finish it. The work I mean is Barclay's Argenis, and if ever you allow yourself to read for mere amusement, I can recommend it to you (provided you have not already perused it) as the most amusing romance that ever was written. It is the only one indeed of an old date that I ever had the patience to go through with. It is interesting in a high degree; richer in incident than can be imagined, full of surprises which the reader never forestalls, and yet free from all entanglement and confusion. The stile too appears to me to be such as would not dishonour Tacitus himself.

Poor Burn loses much of his deserved praise in this country, through our ignorance of his language. I despair of meeting with any Englishman who will take the pains that I have taken to understand him. His candle is bright, but shut up in a dark lantern. I sent him to a very sensible neighbour of mine, but his uncouth dialect spoiled all, and, before he had half read him through, he was quite ramfeezled.

W. c.


Wm. Cowper, Esq. to Lady Hesketh.

The Lodge, March 3, 1788. ONE day last week, Mrs. Unwin and I having taken our morning walk, and returning home through the wilderness, met the Throckmortons. A minute after we had met them, we heard the cry of hounds at no great distance, and mounting the broad stump of an elm which had been felled, and by the aid of which we were enabled to look i over the wall, we saw them. They were all at that time in our orchard : presently we heard a terrier belonging to Mrs. Throckmorton, which you may remember by the name of Fury, yelping with much vehemence, and saw her running through the thickets, within a few yards of us, at her utmost speed, as if in pursuit of something, which we doubted not was the fox. Before we could reach the other end of the wilderness, the hounds entered also ; and when we arrived at the gate which opens into the grove, there we found the whole weary cavalcade assembled. The huntsman, dismounting, begged leave to follow his hounds on foot, for he was sure, he said, that they had killed him; a conclusion which I suppose he drew from their profound silence. He was accord. ingly admitted ; and, with a sagacity that would not have dishonoured the best hound in the world, pursuing precisely the same track which the fox and the dogs had taken, though he never had a glimpse of either after their first entrance through the rails, arrived where he found the slaughtered prey. He soon produced dead reynard and rejoined us in the grove with all his dogs about him. Having an opportunity to see a ceremony which I was pretty sure would never fall in my way again, I determined to stay, and to notice all that passed


with the most ininute attention. The huntsman having, by the aid of a pitchfork, lodged reynard on the arm of an elm, at the height of about nine feet from the ground, there left him for a considerable time. The gentlemen sat on their horses contemplating the fox for which they had toiled so hard, and the bounds assembled at the foot of the tree, with faces not less expressive of the most rational delight, contemplated the same object. The huntsman remounted; he cut oif a foot, and threw it to the hounds; one of them swallowed. it whole like a bolus. He then once more alighted, and, drawing down the fox by the binder legs, desired the people, who were by this time rather nunerons, to open a lane for him to the right and left; he was instantly obeyed, when throwing the fox to the distance of some yards, and screaming like a tiend,“ tear him to pieces," at least six times repeatedly, he consigned him over absolutely to the pack, who in a few minutes, devoured him completely. Thus, my dear, as. Virgil says, what none of the gods could have ventured to promise me, time itself, pursuing its accustomed course, has, of its own accord, presented me with I have been in at the death of a fox; and you now know as much of the matter as I, who am as well informed as any sportsman in England. Yours,

W. C.

Wm. Cowper, Esq. to Mrs. Bodham.

Weston, June 29, 1990. My Dearest COUSIN, IT is true that I did sometimes complain to Mrs. Unwin of your long silence, but it is likewise true that I made many excuses for you in my own


« ElőzőTovább »