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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, callid
Fanatic, for thy zeal to loose the enthrall’d 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
To purify their wine, some people bleed
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,
For threescore winters make a wintry breast,
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
THE SECOND PART.
ON HER MARRIAGE TO GEORGE COURTENAY, ESQ.
The doctrine is certainly true,
And poets are oracles too.
To see Catharina at home,
And, lo!-- she is actually come.
Such prophecy some may despise,
But the wish of a poet and friend
And therefore attains to its end.
'Twas a wish that flew ardently forth
From a bosom effectually warm’d
Of the person for whom it was form’d.
Maria* would leave us, I knew,
To the grief and regret of us all,
Catharina the Queen of the Hall.
And therefore this union of hands;
But all cry — Amen—to the bans.
Since therefore I seem to incur
No danger of wishing in vain,
I will e'en to my wishes again:
And now I will try with another,
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,)
Conspire to honour thee.
They best can judge a poet's worth,
Who oft themselves have known
* 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.
(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 limb Scores have fled at sight of him; And to all this fame he rose Only following his nose. Neptune was he call'd- 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.
[These lines were written during Cowper's visit
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,
“ Yes” — the indignant shade of Fop replies “ And worn with vain pursuit man also dies.”
Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas,
Happy the mortal, who has traced effects
THANKLESS for favours from on high,
Man thinks he fades too soon ;
Would he improve the boon.
But he, not wise enough to scan
His best concerns aright,
To ages, if he might.