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SONNET

TO WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, ESQ.

[A correspondent in the Northampton Mercury had expressed some doubts regarding Cowper's real sentiments on the Slave Trade, because he had declined to write on the subject. In order to answer, without seeming to reply to, these remarks, this Sonnet and the following Epigram appeared in that paper, April 16, 1792. From his correspondence, also, Cowper's detestation of the principle of slavery sufficiently appears, though, with equal feeling and good taste, he regarded the vulgar atrocities, and the popular excitement connected with the traffic, as unpromising subjects for a sustained and dignified poem.]

The country, Wilberforce, with just disdain,

Hears thee, by cruel men and impious, calld

Fanatic, for thy zeal to loose the enthralld From exile, public sale, and slavery's chain.

Friend of the poor, the wrong'd, the fetter-galld, Fear not lest labour such as thine be vain.

Thou hast achieved a part ; hast gain'd the ear Of Britain's senate to thy glorious cause ; Hope smiles, joy springs, and though cold caution pause

And weave delay, the better hour is near

That shall remunerate thy toils severe
By peace for Afric, fenced with British laws.
Enjoy what thou hast won, esteem and love
From all the just on earth, and all the blest above.

EPIGRAM.

To purify their wine, some people bleed
A lamb into the barrel, and succeed ;
No nostrum, planters say, is half so good
To make fine sugar, as a negro's blood.
Now lambs and negroes both are harmless things,
And thence, perhaps, this wondrous virtue springs.
'Tis in the blood of innocence alone
Good cause why planters never try their own,

SONNET

ADDRESSED TO WILLIAM HAYLEY, ESQ.

[JUNE 2, 1792.]

[Hayley first addressed Cowper in a letter enclosing a sonnet; the poetical compliment is here answered.]

HAYLEY - thy tenderness fraternal shown,

In our first interview, delightful guest !

To Mary and me for her dear sake distress’d, Such as it is has made my heart thy own, Though heedless now of new engagements grown ;

For threescore winters make a wintry breast,

And I had purposed ne'er to go in quest Of Friendship more, except with God alone.

But thou hast won me; nor is God my foe,
Who, ere this last afflictive scene began,

Sent thee to mitigate the dreadful blow,
My brother, by whose sympathy I know
Thy true deserts infallibly to scan,
Not more to admire the ba rd than love the man.

CATHARINA:

THE SECOND PART.
ON HER MARRIAGE TO GEORGE COURTENAY, ESQ.

June, 1792.
BELIEVE it or not, as you choose,

The doctrine is certainly true,
That the future is known to the muse,

And poets are oracles too.
I did but express a desire

To see Catharina at home,
At the side of my friend George's fire,

And, lo!--she is actually come.

Such prophecy some may despise,

But the wish of a poet and friend
Perhaps is approved in the skies,

And therefore attains to its end.

'Twas a wish that flew ardently forth

From a bosom effectually warm'd
With the talents, the graces, and worth

Of the person for whom it was form’d.

Maria* would leave us, I knew,

To the grief and regret of us all,
But less to our grief could we view

Catharina the Queen of the Hall.
And therefore I wish'd as I did,

And therefore this union of hands;
Not a whisper was heard to forbid,

But all cry — Amen— to the bans.

Since therefore I seem to incur

No danger of wishing in vain,
When making good wishes for her,

I will e'en to my wishes again:
With one I have made her a wife,

And now I will try with another,
Which I cannot suppress for my life

How soon I can make her a mother.

LINES
ADDRESSED TO DR DARWIN,

AUTHOR OF THE “BOTANIC GARDEN." [These lines were written at Eartham, August, 1792, in order to accompany some of Hayley's verses, with whom Darwin was a great favourite, from his care and tenderness as the medical attendant of the first Mrs Hayley.]

Two poets, (poets by report

Not oft so well agree,)
Sweet Harmonist of Flora's court !

Conspire to honour thee. .

They best can judge a poet's worth,

Who oft themselves have known
The pangs of a poetic birth
By labours of their own.

* Lady Throckmorton.

We therefore pleased extol thy song,

Though various, yet complete, Rich in embellishment as strong,

And learned as 'tis sweet.

No envy mingles with our praise,

Though, could our hearts repine At any poet's happier lays,

They would — they must, at thine.

But we, in mutual bondage knit

Of Friendship’s closest tie, Can gaze on even Darwin's wit

With an unjaundiced eye;

And deem the bard, whoe'er he be,

And howsoever known, Who would not twine a wreath for thee,

Unworthy of his own.

AN EPITAPH.

(1792.) HERE lies one who never drew Blood himself, yet many slew ; Gave the gun its aim, and figure Made in field, yet ne'er pulld trigger; Armed men have gladly made Him their guide, and him obey'd; At his signified desire Would advance, present, and fire. Stout he was, and large of limbScores have fled at sight of him ; And to all this fame he rose Only following his nose. Neptune was he calld- not he Who controls the boisterous sea, But of happier command, Neptune of the furrow'd land; And, your wonder vain to shorten, Pointer to Sir John Throckmorton.

EPITAPH ON FOP,

A DOG BELONGING TO LADY THROCKMORTON.

August, 1792. [These lines were written during Cowper's visit at Eartham. This and the preceding, each inscribed upon a pedestal supporting an urn, still ornament the grounds of Weston.]

Though once a puppy, and though Fop by name,
Here moulders one whose bones some honour claim.
No sycophant, although of spaniel race,
And though no hound, a martyr to the chase-
Ye squirrels, rabbits, leverets, rejoice,
Your haunts no longer echo to his voice;
This record of his fate exulting view -
He died worn out with vain pursuit of you.

“ Yes” — the indignant shade of Fop replies “ And worn with vain pursuit man also dies.”

MORTUARY STANZAS

FOR 1792.

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Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas,
Atque metus omnes et inexorabile fatum
Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis avari!
Happy the mortal, who has traced effects
To their first cause, cast fear beneath his feet,
And Death, and roaring Hell's voracious fires.

THANKLESS for favours from on high,

Man thinks he fades too soon ;
Though 'tis his privilege to die,

Would he improve the boon.

But he, not wise enough to scan

His best concerns aright,
Would gladly stretch life's little span

To ages, if he might.

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