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[Cowper's exquisite verses, and the admirable fiction of De Poe, have cast a romantic tenderness over the story of Selkirk's life, which it is painful to find unsustained by his natural dispositions. This adventurer, the son of a fisherman of Nether Largo, a village on the Fifeshire coast, was born in 1676, and in consequence of a family quarrel, arising out of his own irascible temper, went to sea. After several years' absence he returned, bringing with him the gun, chest, and drinking cup which he had used during his abode on Juan Fernandez: the two latter of these are still in possession of his surviving relative, a grand-niece, residing in the cottage where Alexander was born. He remained about nine months at home, leading a recluse life, going out only at night or early in the morning; and seems to have regretted his solitude, for he was often overheard lamenting the loss of “his island.”

This sentiment, the only poetical feeling which we can discover about the man, probably sent him out again a wanderer over the waste of waters; but of his subsequent fate, nothing was ever known.]

I am monarch of all I

My right there is none to dispute ;
From the centre all round to the sea,

I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
O Solitude! where are the charms

sages have seen in thy face ?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms

Than reign in this horrible place.

I am out of humanity's reach,

I must finish my journey alone,
Never hear the sweet music of speech,

I start at the sound of my own.
The beasts, that roam over the plain,

My form with indifference see ;
They are so unacquainted with man,

Their tameness is shocking to me.

Society, friendship, and love,

Divinely bestow'd upon man,
Oh, had I the wings of a dove,

How soon would I taste you again!

My sorrows I then might assuage

In the ways of religion and truth, Might learn from the wisdom of age,

And be cheer'd by the sallies of youth.

Religion ! what treasure untold

Resides in that heavenly word ! More precious than silver and gold,

Or all that this earth can afford. But the sound of the church-going bell

These valleys and rocks never heard, Never sigh'd at the sound of a knell,

Or smiled when a sabbath appear’d.

Ye winds, that have made me your sport,

Convey to this desolate shore Some cordial endearing report

Of a land I shall visit no more. My friends, do they now and then send

A wish or a thought after me? O tell me I yet have a friend,

Though a friend I am never to see.

How fleet is a glance of the mind !

Compared with the speed of its flight, The tempest itself lags behind,

And the swift-wing'd arrows of light. When I think of my own native land,

In a moment I seem to be there; But, alas! recollection at hand

Soon hurries me back to despair.

But the sea-fowl is gone to her nest,

The beast is laid down in his lair ; Even here is a season of rest,

And I to my cabin repair. There's mercy in every place,

And mercy, encouraging thought ! Gives even affliction a grace,

And reconciles man to his lot.





[The first mention of these verses occurs in a note to Mr Hill, dated November 14, 1779, in which the author feelingly says, “I wrote them, indeed, on purpose for you ; for my subjects are not always such as I could hope would prove agreable to you. My mind has always a melancholy cast, and is like some pools I have seen, which, though filled with a black and putrid water, will, nevertheless, in a bright day, reflect the sunbeams from their surface.” Thurlow's ungenerous neglect of the disinterested and elegant compliment, was alike dishonourable to his own heart, and distressing to Cowper's affectionate temper. See Life and Letters.]

Round Thurlow's head in early youth,

And in his sportive days,
Fair Science pour'd the light of truth,

And Genius shed his rays.

See ! with united wonder cried

The experienced and the sage,
Ambition in a boy supplied

With all the skill of age !

Discernment, eloquence, and grace

Proclaim him born to sway
The balance in the highest place,

And bear the palm away.

The praise bestow'd was just and wise ;

He sprang impetuous forth
Secure of conquest, where the prize

Attends superior worth.

So the best courser on the plain

Ere yet he starts is known,
And does but at the goal obtain
What all had deem'd his own.


[These verses were composed in the commencement of Cowper's second attack of mental indisposition.]

COME, peace of mind, delightful guest !
Return, and make thy downy nest

Once more in this sad heart :
Nor riches I nor power pursue,
Nor hold forbidden joys in view ;

We, therefore, need not part.

Where wilt thou dwell, if not with me,
From avarice and ambition free,

And pleasure's fatal wiles ?
For whom, alas ! dost thou prepare
The sweet, that I was wont to share,

The banquet of thy smiles ?

The great, the gay, shall they partake
The heaven that thou alone canst make ?

And wilt thou quit the stream,
That murmurs through the dewy mead,

grove and the sequester'd shed,
To be a guest with them?

For thee I panted, thee I prized,
For thee I gladly sacrificed

Whate'er I loved before ;
And shall I see thee start away,
And helpless, hopeless, hear thee say-

• Farewell! we meet no more !”

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From morn to dewy eve,

With open hand she showers
Fresh blessings, to deceive

And soothe the silent hours.

It is content of heart

Gives Nature power to please ;
The mind that feels no smart

Enlivens all it sees ;
Can make a wintry sky

Seem bright as smiling May,
And evening's closing eye

As peep of early day.

The vast majestic globe,

So beauteously array'd
In Nature's various robe

With wond'rous skill display'd,
Is to a mourner's heart

A dreary wild at best ;
It flutters to depart,

And longs to be at rest.


[The poet speaks of verses under the same title, suggested by some of Burke's political schemes, but adds, that he burned them next morning. These seem, however, to be the same ; they were composed in 1780.]

REBELLION is my theme all day,

I only wish 'twould come
(As who knows but perhaps it may ?)

A little nearer home.

Yon roaring boys, who rave and fight

On t'other side the Atlantic,
I always held them in the right,

But most so when most frantic.

When lawless mobs insult the court,

That man shall be my toast,

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