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Olney, Oct, 11, 1785. My dear Sir—You began your letter with an apology for long silence, and it is now incumbent upon me to do the same; and the rather, as your kind invitation to Wargrave entitled you to a speedier

The truth is that I am become, if not a man of business, yet a busy man, and have been engaged almost this twelvemonth in a work that will allow of no long interruption. On this account it was impossible for me to accept your obliging summons; and, having only to tell you that I could not, it appeared to me as a matter of no great moment whether


received that intelligence soon or late. You do me justice when you ascribe my printed epistle to you to my friendship for you ; though, in fact, it was equally owing to the opinion that I have of yours for me.t Having, in one part or other of verted to wrong ends, God raised up the Bible Society, that the best of all possible books might be put into their hands. Yes, Sir,” he added in his emphatic manner,

" the hand of God is visible in both; they fit each other like hand and glove."

* Private Correspondence.

+ The epistle in which he commemorates his friendship for Mr. Hill begins as follows :

“ Dear Joseph-Five-and-twenty years ago

Alas, how time escapes ! 'tis even so—" &c. &c. We add the two concluding lines, as descriptive of his person and character.

“ An honest man, close button'd to the chin,
Broad cloth without, and a warm heart within."

See Poems.

my two volumes, distinguished by name the majority of those few for whom I entertain a friendship, it seemed to me that it would be unjustifiable negligence to omit yourself; and, if I took that step without communicating to you my intention, it was only to gratify myself the more with the hope of surprising you agreeably. Poets are dangerous persons to be acquainted with, especially if a man have that in his character that promises to shine in verse. To that very

circumstance it is owing that you are now figuring away in mine. For, notwithstanding what you say on the subject of honesty and friendship, that they are not splendid enough for public celebration, I must still think of them as I did before, that there are no qualities of the mind and heart that can deserve it better. I can, at least for my own part, look round about upon the generality, and, while I see them deficient in those grand requisites of a respectable character, am not able to discover that they possess any other of value enough to atone for the want of them.

I beg that you will present my respects to Mrs. Hill, and believe me Ever affectionately yours,

W. C.

The period at which we are now arrived, was marked by the renewal of an intimacy, long suspended indeed, but which neither time nor circumstances could efface from the affectionate heart of Cowper. The person to whom we allude is Lady Hesketh, a near relative of the poet, and whose name has already appeared in the early part of his history

Their intercourse had been frequent, and endeared by reciprocal esteem in their youthful years; but the vicissitudes of life had separated them far from each other. During Cowper's long retirement, his accomplished cousin had passed some years with her husband abroad, and others, after her return, in a variety of mournful duties. She was at this time a widow, and her indelible regard for her poetical relation being agreeably stimulated by the publication of his recent works, she wrote to him, on that occasion, a very affectionate letter.

It gave rise to many from him, which we shall now introduce to the notice of the reader, because they give a minute account of their amiable author, at a very interesting period of his life; and because they reflect lustre on his character and genius in various points of view, and cannot fail to inspire the conviction that his letters are rivals to his

poems, in the rare excellence of representing life and nature with graceful and endearing fidelity.


Olney, Oct. 12, 1785. My dear Cousin—It is no new thing with you to give pleasure. But I will venture to


you do not often give more than you gave me this morning. When I came down to breakfast, and found upon


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table a letter franked by my uncle,* and when opening that frank I found that it contained a letter from you, I said within myself—“ This is just as it should be. We are all grown young again, and the days that I thought I should see no more are actually returned." You perceive, therefore, that you judged well, when you conjectured that a line from you would not be disagreeable to me. It could not be otherwise than as in fact it proved—a most agreeable surprise, for I can truly boast of an affection for you, that neither years nor interrupted intercourse have at all abated. I need only recollect how much I valued you once, and with how much cause, immediately to feel a revival of the same value ; if that can be said to revive, which at the most has only been dormant for want of employment. But I slander it when I say that it has slept. A thousand times have I recollected a thousand scenes, in which our two selves have formed the whole of the drama, with the greatest pleasure; at times too when I had no reason to suppose that I should ever hear from you again. I have laughed with you at the Arabian Nights' Entertainment, which afforded us, as you well know, a fund of merriment that deserves never to be forgot. I have walked with you to Netley Abbey, and have scrambled with you over hedges in every direction, and many other feats we have performed together upon the field of my remembrance, and all within these few years.

Should I say within this twelvemonth, I should not transgress the truth. The hours that I have spent with

* Ashley Cowper, Esq.

You say

you were among the pleasantest of my former days, and are therefore chronicled in my mind so deeply as to fear no erasure. Neither do I forget my poor friend, Sir Thomas ; I should remember him indeed at any rate, on account of his personal kindness to myself, but the last testimony that he gave of his regard for


endears him to me still more. With his uncommon understanding (for with many peculiarities he had more sense than any of his acquaintance,) and with his generous sensibilities, it was hardly possible that he should not distinguish you as he has done. As it was the last, so it was the best proof that he could give of a judgment that never deceived him, when he would allow himself leisure to consult it.


have often heard of me; that puzzles me. I cannot imagine from what quarter, but it is no matter. I must tell you, however, my cousin,


information has been a little defective. That I am happy in my situation is true; I live, and have lived these twenty years, with Mrs. Unwin, to whose affectionate care of me, during the far greater part of that time, it is, under Providence, owing that I live at all. But I do not account myself happy in having been, for thirteen of those years, in a state of mind that has made all that care and attention necessary; an attention and a care that have injured her health, and which, had she not been uncommonly supported, must have brought her to the grave. But I will pass to another subject; it would be cruel to particularize only to give pain, neither would I by any means give a sable hue to


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