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live three years with Mr. Chapman, a solicitor— that is to say, I slept three years at his house; but I lived—that is to say, I spent—my days in Southampton Row.” (with an aunt). “There was I and the future Lord Chancellor constantly employed, from morning to night, in giggling and making giggle, instead of studying the law.” It has been supposed by some that the melancholy of which he was later the subject was promoted by his study of the law; but this confession by the poet himself does not support the idea. He used to declare that he was unfitted for the law ; but he also said—“What nature expressly designed me for I have never been able to conjecture, I seem to myself so universally disqualified for the common and customary occupations and amusements of mankind.” When he left the solicitor's office, he had attained his majority, and he took chambers in the Middle Temple in 1752; and it was then, while living alone, that the malady which overshadowed so much of his life was developed. In 1754 he was called to the bar; but Southey says—“That he had taken no pains to qualify himself for his profession is certain, and it is probable that he had as little intention to pursue it, resting in indolent reliance upon his patrimonial means, and in the likely czpectation that some official appointment would be found for him in good time.” In 1756 his father died. Three years later he purchased chambers in the Inner Temple, for which he gave two hundred and fifty pounds. Soon after removing to them he was made a Commissioner of Bankrupts. At this time love occupied him more than law, for his affections were given to and returned by one of his cousins, Theodora Jane, the daughter of Mr. Ashley Cowper. The lady's father refused to sanction the engagement, on account of the relationship which existed between them. All intercourse was at once broken off; and though both were disappointed, Theodora appears to have been the greater sufferer of the two. Cowper put his feelings into verse, which he sent to Theodora's sister, Lady Hesketh, and from which it is evident that he counted the trouble, though great, not the greatest of his life. At this time he was a member of “The Nonsense Club,” and had for his friends Bonnell, Thornton, Colman, Lloyd, and Joseph Hill : he also had a great admiration for Charles Churchill and his poetry. He was at this time not earning money, and began to have some anxiety in regard to his condition when the small patrimony that he had should have been spent. He expressed a hope, one day when talking to a friend, that if the clerk of the journals of the House of Lords should die, the appointment might be secured to him by his kinsman, Major Cowper. The clerk was probably ill at this time, and shortly afterward he did die. But Major Cowper had also an office of greater value at his disposal—namely, that of reading clerk and clerk of the committees—which had become vacant by resignation. Nothing but Cowper's own sad forebodings and melancholy stood in the way of his success. He thus related what occurred between him and his kinsman :-" He called me out of my chamber, and having invited me to take a turn with him in the garden, there made me an offer of the most profitable places, intending the other for his friend Mr. Arnold. Dazzled by so splendid a proposal, and not immediately reflecting upon my incapacity to execute a business of so public a nature, I at once accepted it; but at the same time (such was the will of Him whose hand was in the whole matter) seemed to receive a dagger in my heart.” After a week of perplexity, Cowper resigned the appointment, asking that it might be made in favour of Mr. Arnold, and that he might have the less lucrative position of the clerk of the journals. He was told that he would probably have to pass an examination at the bar of the House, and the prospect of this so alarmed him, that his health broke down altogether. He went to Margate for change and relaxation, and somewhat recovered his spirits, But when he had returned to town, and was required to attend the office and prepare for the examination, his madness all came back upon him, and he made several attempts to commit suicide rather than endure the ordeal. On the night before he was to appear at the bar of the House, he nearly succeeded in his efforts; and when the last had failed, and he sent to his kinsman to tell him what he had done, he said, “My dear Mr. Cowper, you terrify me ! To be sure you cannot hold the office at this rate.” It was evident that the poet was seriously ill, and the physician was sent for, while all thought of his holding a parliamentary office was abandoned. Then followed a terrible time of darkness and pain, from the sense of sin and the expectation of punishment. He read religious books, and held conversation with religious people, but all to no purpose ; he could find no comfort, but the gloom that oppressed him became yet more impenetrable. It was then that he wrote the terrible poem commencing— “Hatred and vengeance—my eternal portion Scarce can endure delay of execution— Wait with impatient readiness to seize my oul in a moment.” The friends of Cowper felt that it was absolutely necessary to place him under restraint, and he was taken to a private lunatic asylum kept by Dr.
Colton at St. Albans. Dr. Colton was a Christian and a man of letters; and so tenderly and wisely did he deal with his patient, that Cowper got much better in course of time, and was able to leave the asylum. In the calm that followed the fever through which he had passed, he wrote the beautiful hymns beginning—
“How blest Thy creature is, O God,
A great peace had now settled down upon him ; but it was still felt that it would be dangerous to subject him to any mental strain, and accordingly lodgings were procured for him at Huntingdon. He had spent more than eighteen months at St. Albans, “partly in bondage,” he wrote “and partly in the liberty wherewith Christ had made me free.” At Huntingdon he at once commenced again to correspond with his friends, notably with his cousin, Lady Hesketh, and his friend Hill. The letters of this time were most beautiful, poetic, humorous, and altogether delightful reading—indeed, William