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the first letter of a correspondence so unexpectedly renewed.
I am delighted with what you tell me of my uncle's good health. To enjoy any measure of cheerfulness at so late a day is much. But to have that late day enlivened with the vivacity of youth is much more, and in these postdiluvian times a rarity indeed. Happy for the most part are parents who have daughters. Daughters are not apt to outlive their natural affections, which a son has generally survived, even before his boyish years are expired. I rejoice particularly in my uncle's felicity, who has three female descendants from his little
who leave him nothing to wish for upon that head.
My dear Cousin, dejection of spirits which (I suppose) may have prevented many a man from becoming an author, made me one. I find constant employment necessary, and therefore take care to be constantly employed. Manual occupations do not engage the mind sufficiently, as I know by experience, having tried many. But composition, especially of verse, absorbs it wholly. I write therefore generally three hours in a morning, and in an evening I transcribe. I read also, but less than I write, for I must have bodily exercise, and therefore never pass a day without it.
You ask me where I have been this summer. I answer, at Olney. Should you ask me where I spent the last seventeen summers, I should still answer, at Olney. Ay and the winters also I have
. seldom left it, except when I attended my brother in his last illness, never I believe a fortnight together.
Adieu, my beloved Cousin, I shall not always be thus nimble in reply, but shall always have great pleasure in answering you when I can. Yours, my dear friend and Cousin,
The letters addressed to Mr. Newton by Cowper are frequently characterised by a plaintiveness of feeling that powerfully awakens the emotions of the heart. The following contains some incidental allusions of this kind.
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.*
Olney, Oct. 16, 1785. My dear Friend—To have sent a child to heaven is a great honour and a great blessing, and your feelings on such an occasion may well be such as render you rather an object of congratulation than of condolence. And were it otherwise, yet, having yourself free access to all the sources of genuine consolation, I feel that it would be little better than impertinence in me to suggest any. An escape from a life of suffering to a life of happiness and glory is such a deliverance as leaves no room for the sorrow of survivors, unless they sorrow for themselves. We cannot, indeed, lose what we love without regretting it; but a Christian is in possession of such alleviations of that regret as the world knows nothing of. Their beloveds, when they die, go they know not whither ; and if they suppose them, as they
• Private Correspondence.
generally do, in a state of happiness, they have yet but an indifferent prospect of joining them in that state hereafter. But it is not so with
You both know whither your beloved is gone, and you know that you shall follow her; and you
know also that in the mean time she is incomparably happier than yourself. So far, therefore, as she is concerned, nothing has come to pass but what was most fervently to be wished. I do not know that I am singularly selfish ; but one of the first thoughts that your account of Miss Cunningham's dying moments and departure suggested to me had self for its object. It struck me that she was not born when I sank into darkness, and that she is gone to heaven before I have emerged again. What a lot, said I to myself, is mine! whose helmet is fallen from my head, and whose sword from my hand, in the midst of the battle; who was stricken down to the earth when I least expected it; who had just begun to cry victory! when I was defeated myself; and who have been trampled upon so long, that others have had time to conquer and to receive their crown, before I have been able to make one successful effort to escape from under the feet of my enemies. It seemed to me, therefore, that if you mourned for Miss Cunningham you gave those tears to her to which I only had a right, and I was almost ready to exclaim, “ I am the dead, and not she ; you misplace your sorrows." I have sent you the history of my mind on this subject without any disguise; if it does not please you, pardon it at least, for it is the truth. The unhappy, I believe, are always selfish. I have, I confess, my comfortable
moments; but they are like the morning dew, so suddenly do they pass away and are gone.
It should seem a matter of small moment to me, who never hear him, whether Mr. Scott shall be removed from Olney to the Lock, or no; yet, in fact, I believe that few interest themselves more in that event than I. He knows my manner of life, and has ceased long since to wonder at it. minister would need information, and I am not ambitious of having my tale told to a stranger. He would also perhaps think it necessary to assail me with arguments, which would be more profitably disposed of, if he should discharge them against the walls of a tower. I wish, therefore, for the continuance of Mr. Scott. He honoured me so far as to consult me twice upon the subject. At our first interview, he seemed to discern but little in the proposal that entitled it to his approbation. But, when he came the second time, we observed that his views of it were considerably altered. He was warm-he was animated; difficulties had disappeared, and allurements had started up in their place. I could not say to him, Sir, you are naturally of a sanguine temper; and he that is so cannot too much distrust his own judgment;—but I am glad that he will have the benefit of yours.
It seems to me, however, that the minister who shall re-illumine the faded glories of the Lock must not only practise great fidelity in his preaching, to which task Mr. Scott is perfectly equal, but must do it with much address; and it is hardly worth while to observe that his excellence does not lie that way,
because he is ever ready to acknowledge it himself. But I have nothing to suggest upon this subject that will be new to you, and therefore dropit; the rather, indeed, because I may reasonably suppose that by this time the point is decided.
I have reached that part of my paper which I generally fill with intelligence, if I can find any: but there is a great dearth of it at present; and Mr. Scott has probably anticipated me in all the little that there is. Lord P-- having dismissed Mr. Jones from his service, the people of Turvey * have burnt him [Mr. Jones] in effigy, with a bundle of quick-thornt under his arm. What consequences are to follow his dismission is uncertain. His lordship threatens him with a lawsuit; and, unless their disputes can be settled by arbitration, it is not unlikely that the profits of poor Jones's stewardship will be melted down at Westminster. He has laboured hard, and no doubt with great integrity, and has been rewarded with hard words and scandalous treatment.
Mr. Scott (which perhaps he may not have told
* The Peterborough family had formerly a mansion and large estate in the parish of Turvey. It is mentioned in Camden's Britannia, so far back as in the time of Henry VIII. There are some marble monuments in the parish church, executed with great magnificence, and in high preservation, recording the heroes of former times belonging to that ancient but now extinct race.
+ The dispute originated respecting the enclosure of the parish; and, as this act was unpopular with the poor, the bundle of quick-thorn was intended to be expressive of their indignant feelings.