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REV. W. CAWTHORNE UNWIN. [With this poem Cowper closed his first volume. He wrote it in 1781, while engaged in correcting the proofs of the others, and appended it to the work as a tribute of affection.]
UNWIN, I should but ill repay
The kindness of a friend,
As ever friendship penn'd,
A union form'd, as mine with thee,
Not rashly, nor in sport,
And faithful in its sort,
The bud inserted in the rind,
The bud of peach or rose,
The stock whereon it grows,
As if produced by Nature there.
Not rich, I render what I may,
I seize thy name in haste,
Lest it should prove the last.
The poet's lyre, to fix his fame,
Should be the poet's heart ;
Than ever blazed by art.
ADDRESSED TO MISS STAPLETON,
AFTERWARDS MRS COURTNEY.
THE FIRST PART.
She came — she is gone — we have met
And meet perhaps never again; The sun of that moment is set,
And seems to have risen in vain. Catharina has fled like a dream —
(So vanishes pleasure, alas !) But has left a regret and esteem,
That will not so suddenly pass.
The last evening ramble we made,
Catharina, Maria, and I, Our progress was often delay'd
By the nightingale warbling nigh. We paused under many a tree,
And much she was charm’d with a tone Less sweet to Maria and me,
Who had witness'd so lately her own.
My numbers that day she had sung,
And gave them a grace so divine, As only her musical tongue
Could infuse into numbers of mine. The longer I heard, I esteem'd
The work of my fancy the more, And even to myself never seem'd
So tuneful a poet before.
Though the pleasures of London exceed
In number the days of the year, Catharina, did nothing impede,
Would feel herself happier here; For the close woven arches of limes
On the banks of our river, I know, Are sweeter to her many times
Than all that the city can show.
So it is, when the mind is endued
With a well judging taste from above, Then, whether embellished or rude,
'Tis nature alone that we love.
May even our wonder excite,
A lasting, a sacred delight.
Since then in the rural recess
Catharina alone can rejoice, May it still be her lot to possess
The scene of her sensible choice ! To inhabit a mansion remote
From the clatter of street-pacing steeds, And by Philomel's annual note
To measure the life that she leads.
With her book, and her voice, and her lyre,
To wing all her moments at home,
As oft as it suits her to roam,
With little to wish or to fear,
Might we view her enjoying it here.
[The original of this poem was composed while the translation of Madame Guyon occupied the author's attention, and, with that work, was presented to the Rev, Mr Bull, who subsequently published it, with the version of the French poetess. The piece, written as it now appears, was finished in 1780, as a conclusion for Cowper's first volume. This design, for some reason not explained, he abandoned, and the poem was not published till after his death.]
What virtue, or what mental grace,
Will boast it their possession ?
And dulness of discretion.
If every polish'd gem we find,
Provoke to imitation;
Or rather constellation.
No knave but boldly will pretend
A real and a sound one;
And dream that he had found one.
Candid, and generous, and just,
An error soon corrected, —
Is most to be suspected ?
But here again a danger lies,
We should unwarily conclude
A mere Utopian pleasure.
An acquisition rather rare
Nor is it wise complaining,
We sought without attaining.
No friendship will abide the test
Or mean self-love erected ;
For vicious ends connected.
Who seek a friend, should come disposed To exhibit in full bloom disclosed
The graces and the beauties That form the character he seeks, For 'tis a union that bespeaks
Mutual attention is implied,
And constantly supported;
Our own as much distorted.
But will sincerity suffice ?
And must be made the basis ;
All shining in their places.
A fretful temper will divide
By ceaseless sharp corrosion ;