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Montgomery considered the figure in the last line “one of the most glorious ever struck out by a poet in his brightest moments,” and unquestionably it is poetry of an exceedingly high order. But while the world was talking of this, Cowper was producing a poem of much greater merit than any in his first volume. On the 3rd of August 1783, he wrote—“‘The Sofa' is ended, but not finished —a paradox which your natural acumen, sharpened by habits of logical attention, will enable you to reconcile in a moment. Do not imagine, however, that I lounge over it ; on the contrary, I find it severe exercise to mould and fashion it to my mind.” The entire poem was transcribed in the autumn of 1784, and sent to Mr. Unwin for his perusal, he being at the same time requested to find a publisher for it. With his usual sensitiveness Cowper objected to have his book passed from publisher to publisher, or accepted by any one unwillingly ; but his anxiety on that score was of short duration, for Johnson, to whom it was first offered, on account of his having published the previous volume, at once accepted the second. It is on “The Task” that the same of the poet chiefly hangs, for it is incomparably the greatest work of his life. It was written when his powers were fully matured, and when in himself he was more quiet and happy than on other occasions. There is less acrimony and more benevolence than in his first volume, and it is easy to discover that his satire is more polished and less bitter. The book was the more certain to succeed from the sincerity and integrity of the author. He said, in a letter to Mr. Unwin—“My descriptions are all from nature ; not one of them is second-handed. My delineations of the heart are from my own experience; not one of them borrowed from books, or is in the least degree conjectural. In my numbers, which I varied as much as I could (for blank verse without variety of numbers is no better than bladder and string), I have imitated nobody.” “The Task” consists of six books. The first is “The Sofa,” because that was the title given to him by Lady Austin. But Cowper only devoted a few pages to it, and then turned away from it to describe the beauties of nature— “For I have loved the rural walk through lanes;”

and it was the beautiful, quiet scenery of his native land that he loved to depict. Even London made its appeal to the heart of the poet :—

“Where has commerce such a mart,
So rich, so thronged, so drained, and so supplied,
As London—opulent, enlarged, and still
Increasing London Babylon of old,
Not more the glory of the earth than she,
A more accomplished world's chief glory now.”

But it is in the second book, “The Timepiece,” that the poet takes his highest flight. Nothing finer of its kind has ever been written in the English language than the first half-dozen pages. His indignant remonstrance against slavery carried with it more strongly the feelings of the English people than many another voluminous book.

“I would not have a slave to till my ground,
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep,
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
That sinews bought and sold have ever earned.”

His apostrophe-
“England, with all thy faults, I love thee still"—

has deepened or awakened true patriotism in many hearts. And his satirical denunciation of frivolity in the pulpit has served for a lesson to the world ever since—

“Behold the picture | Is it like Like whom
The things that mount the rostrum with a skip,
And then skip down again ; pronounce a text;
Cry hem! and reading what they never wrote,
Just fifteen minutes huddle up their work,
And with a well-bred whisper close the scene.”

In the third book, “The Garden,” Cowper described the happy domestic life he was then living and especially attacked the philosophy of his day. Yet those who censure him would do so less unkindly if they did not fail to see that he only found fault with the philosophy that was godless. He exalted the simple pleasures of the country folk, whose

“Groves were planted to console at noon
The pensive wanderer in their shades.”

But the most beautiful passage in the book is that in which Cowper described his own experience—

“I was a stricken deer, that left the herd
Long since. With many an arrow deep infixed
My panting side was charged, when I withdrew
To seek a tranquil death in distant shades.
There was I found by One who had Himself
Been hurt by th’ archers. In His side He bore,
And in His hands and feet, the cruel scars.
With gentle force soliciting the darts,
He drew them forth, and healed, and bade me live.”

The remaining three books, “The Winter Evening,” “The Winter Morning Walk,” and “The Winter Walk at Noon,” contain many passages that are “familiar in our mouths as household words,” and will live in the heart and memory of the world as long as there are simple pleasures and pure souls to delight in them. Cowper wrote some time afterwards—“In the year when I wrote “The Task' (for it occupied me above a year), I was very often most supremely unhappy; and am, under God, indebted in a good part to that work for not having made me worse.” This work, indeed, had many happy results. It brought back to him the pleasure of Lady Hesketh's friendship, who wrote in the first instance to praise “John Gilpin,” and who subsequently gave her kinsman the joy of her companionship, and delicately rendered pecuniary aid. About this time, too (1785-6), an anonymous friend sent him an annuity of fifty pounds; so that in many respects his prospects grew brighter. He still lived with Mrs. Unwin ; but he had the advantage of a close friendship with Sir John and Lady Throckmorton, whom he humorously called Mr. and Mrs. Frog, and in whose park he walked while thinking out much of the poetry in the latter parts of “The Task.” Lady Throckmorton subsequently rendered him valuable assistance by transcribing his poems for him. In 1785 Cowper was engaged upon his translation of Homer, which he found “a most agreeable amusement.” A still greater delight he felt in the presence of Lady Hesketh, who spent a considerable part of the summer of 1786 at Olney with her cousin and Mrs. Unwin—an arrangement greatly enjoyed by the trio. “Lady Hesketh,” wrote Cowper, “by her affectionate behaviour, the cheer

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