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fulness of her conversation, and the constant sweetness of her temper, has cheered us both, and Mrs. Unwin not less than me.” In November 1786 Lady Hesketh returned to London, and Cowper and his faithful friend, Mary Unwin, removed to Weston, and there lived in a house belonging to Sir John Throckmorton. They had not been there long when a great sorrow befell him in the death of Mrs. Urwin's son, a dear friend and correspondent of Cowper. This was followed in the case of the poet by a return of his old malady, which remained with him on this occasion for six months. Still he had much to cheer him. In a letter to a friend in 1787 he wrote—“But I have at least been tickled with some douceurs of a very flattering nature by the post. A lady unknown addresses the ‘best of men;' an unknown gentleman has read my “inimitable poems,' and invites me to his seat in Hampshire; another incognito gives me hopes of a memorial in his garden ; and a Welsh attorney sends me his verses to revise. If you find me a little vain hereafter, my friend, you must excuse it, in consideration of these powerful incentives.” But what amused him most was the request of the parish clerk of All Saints', in Northampton, who asked him to write a poem to annex to a bill of mortality which he published every Christmas. Cowper acceded to his request, and wrote the mortuary verses for the clerk some years in succession. At this time the poet was not the melancholy man that some have supposed. Certainly dark clouds often rested upon him, but he had many bright seasons; and, judging from his letters, he was on the whole very happy. He had friends who loved him exceedingly, and though some were lost to him, others came. One of the chief of these was Hayley, his friend during the rest of his life, and his biographer afterwards. The two men were brought into communication with each other by a rather curious coincidence. Both were engaged on editions of Milton, and neither wished to rival the other. Hayley wrote a very cordial letter to his reputed competitor, and enclosed a sonnet expressing his admiration. He afterwards went to Weston, and greatly enjoyed his visit; and actually prevailed on Cowper in return to visit him at Eastham. Eastham is near Chichester, and not far from the Isle of Wight, and Cowper found the change a most delightful one. Mrs. Unwin accompanied him. This faithful friend had given the poet great anxiety, for, a few months previously, she had suffered from a paralytic stroke, and was still far from well. But Hayley did his best, by inviting other guests to meet them, and by other

means, to render the visit not only pleasant, but beneficial to his guests. Cowper afterwards said, “The year Ninety-two shall stand chronicled in my remembrance as the most melancholy that I have ever known, except the few weeks I spent at Eastham.” On their return to Weston, he again became ill and melancholy; and his friend of so many years was evidently failing. The two comforted each other as best they could, but the evening of life was dark and gloomy. At this time Cowper used to imagine that he heard words distinctly addressed to him by some invisible being, and that madness or death was approaching fast. One of the last poems he wrote at Weston was addressed to Mrs. Unwin—

“The twentieth year is well nigh past
Since first our sky was overcast :
Ah, would that this might be the last !
My Mary.”

Mary's health and mind were both at this time giving way, and Lady Hesketh went down to Weston to see what could be done. There is pathetic mention in Southey's biography of the last service Mrs. Unwin was able to render her friend. For six days he had sat still and silent as death, refusing to move from his chair, and almost declining food. Nothing roused him, until Mrs. Unwin told him that she was ill, and asked him to take her out for a walk, which he did. The poet's cousin was anxious to try the effect of a complete change, and in 1795 he and Mrs. Unwin were taken to Norfolk. Before leaving Weston he wrote on a panel of the window-shutter in his bed-room the following couplet —

“Farewell, dear scenes, forever closed to me;
Oh, for what sorrows must I now exchange ye!”

They went to North Toddenham, near East Dereham. They stayed also at Mundesley, and at Dereham Lodge. But Cowper's malady became worse and worse—he was filled with dreadful apprehensions; and both he and his old friend were drawing near to the grave. Mrs. Unwin was the first to go. She expired without the slightest struggle on the 17th of December 1796. Cowper's friends were afraid of the result ; but the poet bore the trouble with greater calmness than was expected. His cousin, Mr. Johnson, had taken him to his own home, and lavished all possible care upon him, both there and at Mundesley, whither he was often conveyed for the benefit of the sea air. But he gradually sank into deeper weakness, and, alas ! into deeper gloom also. His last poem, and one of the most affecting and pathetic that was ever written, was “The Castaway.”

In February 1800 dropsy set in, and though physicians did all that they could, he was, before the end of March, confined to his room. He died on April the 20th, and was buried in Dereham Church.

We are accustomed to speak of the life of Cowper as one of unutterable sadness. But it was not so. The terrible disease which afflicted him shrouded many months in gloom, but the greater number of his years were peaceful and happy. His writings had from the first a good influence upon the country. Perhaps his Tirocinium; or, Review of Schools, was unfair and unjust on the whole, but it accomplished a work of reformation. He may be said to have introduced a new era in literature. The style of his poetry was altogether different from that of his time, and it set an example, which, happily, has been followed, more or less, by the poets who have come after him. He espoused a good cause, and his name will ever be revered, while his genius is honoured, by those who, like him, recommend

“The cause of piety, and sacred truth,
And virtue, and those scenes which God ordained
Should best secure them and promote them most.”

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