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The pictures, placed for ornament and use,
The twelve good rules,14 the royal game

of

goose; The hearth, except when winter chilled the day, With aspen boughs, and flowers and fennel gay; While broken tea-cups, wisely kept for show, Ranged o'er the chimney, glistened in a row.

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years old.

WILLIAM COWPER.-Born, 1731. Died, 1800. William Cowper was born in the parsonage of Great Berkhampstead. His father was Chaplain to George II., and his mother, a lady by birth, was the daughter of a Norfolk squire. She died when Cowper was six

Delicate and sensitive from childhood, he had a taint of diseased melancholy which, from time to time, overshadowed his intellect; but when in comparative health he displayed an eminently vigorous, natural, and unaffected genius. The“ Task” is his principal poem, and is distinguished, like all his other writings, by its purity and lofty tone, no less than its originality, delightful freshness, and manly strength of thought and expression. Cowper's Letters are the most delightful in the language.

ON THE RECEIPT OF HIS MOTHER'S PICTURE.

Oh, that those lips had language ! Life has passed
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
Those lips are thine—thy own sweet smile I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced? me;
Voice only fails, else, how distinct they say,
“Grieve not, my child; chase all thy fears away!'
The meek intelligence of those dear eyes
(Blest be the art that can immortalise,

2

14 Twelve rules for good living often 15 A game played with dice and a

hung up in ale houses, where, board on which 63 circles from certainly, they are very much the figure of a goose. needed.

solaced, comforted. 2 The painter's art,

The art that baffles Time's tyrannic claim
To quench it) here shines on me still the same.

Faithful remembrancer of one so dear;
O welcome guest, though unexpected, here!
Who bidd'st me honour with an artless song,
Affectionate, a mother lost so long.
I will obey, not willingly alone,
But gladly, as the precept were her own:
And, while that face renews my filial grief,
Fancy shall weave a charm for my relief;
Shall steep me in Elysian reverie,
A momentary dream, that thou art she.

8

4

My mother! when I learned that thou wast dead, Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed ? Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son, Wretch even then, life's journey just begun? Perhaps thou gav’st me, though unfelt, a kiss; Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss.Ah, that maternal smile! it answers—“ Yes.” I heard the bell tolled on thy burial day, I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away, And, turning from my nursery window, drew A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu ! But was it such? It was. · Where thou art gone, Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown ; May I but meet thee on that peaceful shore, The parting word shall pass my lips no more !

3 filial grief, that of a son.
· Elysian reverie, delightful waking dreams.

of bliss, among the Greeks.

Elysium was the place

5

a

Till,

Thy maidens, grieved, themselves, at my concern,
Oft gave me promise of thy quick return.
What ardently I wished, I long believed,
And, disappointed still, was still deceived ;
By expectation every day beguiled,
Dupe of to-morrow even from a child.
Thus many a sad to-morrow came and went,

all
my

stock of infant sorrows spent,
I learned, at last, submission to my lot,
But, though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot.

Where once we dwelt our name is heard no more, Children not thine have trod my nursery floor ; And where the gardener Robin, day by day, Drew me to school along the public way, Delighted with my bauble coach, and wrapped In scarlet mantle warm, and velvet-capped, 'Tis now become a history little known, That once we called the pastoral house our own. Short-lived possession! But the record fair That memory keeps of all thy kindness there, Still outlives many a storm, that has effaced A thousand other themes less deeply traced. Thy nightly visits to my chamber made, That thou mightst know me safe and warmly laid; Thy morning bounties ere I left my home, The biscuit, or confectionery plum ; The fragrant waters on my cheeks bestowed By thy own hand, till fresh they shone and glowed:

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concern, here, grief, o Cowper's father was the Rev. John Cowper, rector of Great Berkhamp

stead. The rectory is here alluded to.

All this, and more endearing still than all,
Thy constant flow of love, that knew no fall,
Ne’er roughened by those cataracts and breaks,
That humour interposed' too often makes :
All this, still legibles in memory's page,
And still to be so to my latest age,
Adds joy to duty, makes me glad to pay
Such honours to thee as my numbers' may;
Perhaps a frail memorial, but sincere,
Not scorned in heaven, though little noticed here.

Could Time, his flight reversed, restore the hours,
When, playing with thy vesture's tissued flowers, 10
The violet, the pink, and jessamine,
I pricked them into paper with a pin
(And thou wast happier than myself the while,
Wouldst softly speak, and stroke my head, and smile);
Cadd those few pleasant days again appear,

Might one wish bring them, would I wish them here?
I would not trust my heart—the dear delight
Seems so to be desired, perhaps I might.
But no; what here we call our life is such,
So little to be loved, and thou so much,
That I should ill requitell thee, to constrain
Thy unbound spirit into bonds again.

Thou, as a gallant bark from Albion's coast
(The storms all weathered, and the ocean crossed)
Shoots into port at some well-havened isle,
Where spices breathe, and brighter seasons smile,

; humour interposed, temper

breaking in.
8 legible, readable,

9 numbers, verses.
10 Her embroidered robo
11 requite, repay.

There sits quiescent on the floods, that show
Her beauteous form reflected clear below,
While airs impregnated13 with incense play
Around her, fanning light her streamers gay ;-
So thou, with sails how swift! hast reached the shore
“ Where tempests never beat nor billows roar;
And thy loved consort14 on the dangerous tide
Of life long since has anchored by thy side.
But me, scarce hoping to attain that rest,
Always from port withheld, always distressed-
Me, howling blasts drive devious 15 tempest-tossed,
Sails ripped, seams opening wide, and compass lost;
And day by day some current's thwarting force
Sets me more distant from a prosperous course.
Yet oh! the thought that thou art safe, and he !
That thought is joy, arrive what may to me.
My boast is not that I deduce

my

birth
From loins enthroned, and rulers of the earth ;
But higher far my proud pretensions rise--
The son of parents passed into the skies !
And now, Farewell !-Time, unrevoked," has run
His wonted course, yet what I wished is done.
By contemplation's help, not sought in vain,
I seem to have lived my childhood o'er again ;

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12 quiescent, resting calmly.
13 impregnated, filled.
14 consort, husband. These lines

were written in 1790. His mother
had been dead 53 years: his
father, 34. He, himself, was, now,

a man of 59. 15 devious, wandering. 16 Cowper's father was of an old

family, tracing its pedigree at least as far back as the reign of Edward IV. He was the son of a judge and the nephew of a Lord Chancellor. His mother also was descended, by four different lines, from Henry III., King of

England. 17 unrevoked, not called back.

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