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the Lutheran doctrines. Hence the two sects into which the Methodists are still divided. The powers of Whitefield as a preacher have never been surpassed in any age or country ; and if we are to estimate oratory by its effects — the proper criterion after all — his was true eloquence. He died about ten years before the composition of the just and splendid vindication in the text, at the age of fifty-six.
Note 3.—Page 98, line 5 from bottom. - The progress of an awakening, convincing, and converting grace is very powerfully traced in these lines. Cowper spoke from personal knowledge here. Those who mock at such changes, and deem them delusive, because they have not felt the like in themselves, are manifestly incompetent judges ; since they only who have had the experience, can testify to the reality of that which must be proved true by experience alone.” – MONTGOMERY.
NOTES TO CHARITY.
Note 1.–Page 103, line 8 from bottom. James Cook, the most humane of discoverers, was born, 1728, at Marton in Yorkshire, the son of a day labourer, and was bound an apprentice to the coal trade. He first distinguished himself while master of the Eagle frigate at the siege of Quebec; set out on his first voyage of circumnavigation 1768, and in his third was slain at Owhyhee, 4th July, 1779, two years before Cowper wrote these lines.
NOTE 2.- Page 104, line 10. Ferdinand Cortes, one of the first names in the annals of romantic but bloody adventure, was born of a noble family in Estremadura, 1485 ; he embarked for the New World in 1504; engaged in the conquest of Mexico in 1512, with six hundred and seventeen men ; discovered California in 1536; returned to Europe four years afterwards in disgrace, and died neglected in his native country, aged sixty-two, having, as he boasted to Charles V, added more kingdoms to Spain, than she formerly possessed provinces.
Note 3.–Page 109, line 12.
-I sigh no more For Africa's once loved, benighted shore. Cowper, in his letters, gives excellent reasons for refusing to write a poem professedly on the « slave trade,” though frequently importuned, alleging, with equal moral and poetical propriety, that the subject would be apt to lead both reader and writer into vulgar and ill founded excitement. In these lines, he concludes with the only real means of removing the opprobrium, —a gradual preparation-an enlightening by information—and a softening by Christianity, of those hearts which would truly feel and rightly use the blessings of liberty.
Note 4.–Page 109, line 24. John Thornton, Esq. the benevolent merchant of whose charities the poet was well informed, and occasionally the instrument to the poor of his own neighbourhood.
Note 5.—Page 109, line 27.
Thine altar, sacred Liberty. - Liberty always inspires Cowper; no sooner does he name it, than his spirit goes into the highest heaven of invention :' words, images, thoughts of light, life, love, pour in upon him like sunbeams through an eyehole in a darkened casement; and he is all himself — all that he ought always to have been.” In illustration of this, Montgomery quotes the passage in the text : it is true there is much of exquisite fancy, of the very soul of the sweetest poetry, in the verse; but to us its practical entreaty to “ the ten thousand hearts” too often steeled against the “ misfortune of being poor,” is the most affecting incident of all.
NOTE 6.–Page 110, line 27. John Howard, of all who have aspired to the distinction, was most justly entitled to the name of philanthropist. In the words of Burke, so to remember the forgotten, to attend to the neglected, to visit the forsaken, and to compare and collate the distresses of all men in all countries,” were the objects for which he left home, and affluence, and ease, to visit the prisons of Europe during a period of fourteen years. He died at Cherson, on the Black Sea, 1790, aged sixty-four. The noble lines in the text, we are informed, have been lately inscribed on his monument : in Russia they will be like the handwriting on the wall testifying that the kingdom of despotism is weighed and found wanting.
NOTE 7.-- Page 112, line 28.
Gives Charity her being and her birth. Never were the real purposes of " divine philosophy,” or the worth. lessness of “ knowledge without grace," more eloquently displayed than in this noble passage. There do indeed occur expressions indicative of that contempt of natural science with which Cowper has in some degree been justly charged. Poets and artists, who look at nature as a whole, and describe effects, not causes, are rarely adequate judges of the value of experimental truth; but there was another reason in his case for this alleged disregard. The French encyclopedists were at this period in the height of their career; and Cowper, whose retirement, while it could not secure his ear against the painful intelligence of their success, prevented him from fully appreciating the value of those acquisitions which science was making, seems not to have sufficiently discriminated between them and the moral misapplications of the materialists, facts most important in themselves, and which at this moment form the groundwork of some of the most stupendous practical improvements of the present age.
NOTE 8.–Page 118, line 13.
And e'en the dipt and sprinkled live in peace. The Baptists are dipt, the Catholics are sprinkled: the meaning is, all sects would live in peace, if the universally acknowledged principle, charity, were universal also in practice.
Note 9.-- Page 118, line 17. Nicholas Machiavelli, secretary to the republic of Florence, in which city he was born 1469, where he also died, disgraced, maimed by torture, and poor, in 1527. His most celebrated work, “ The Prince," has rendered its author a reproach, as the apostle of perfidious and tyrannical politics. Its spirit and tendency have in this been certainly misrepresented or mistaken. The whole is a covert satire on tyranny; and tyrants, fearing this discovery, proscribed the book. An opinion once established, however false, becomes truth by prescription, and for two centuries Italians believed without reading the work; the rest of the world took their word on a point in their own literary history. We recommend the reader to peruse only the last chapter of the work, “On the means of freeing Italy from the barbarians,” and then to say if the writer be the friend of servitude.
NOTES TO CONVERSATION.
Note 1.- Page 128, line 4.
Sips meek infusions of a milder herb. Critics have admired the dexterity displayed in this passage, and the easy transition in the simile “ respecting ladies and worms being driven away by the use of tobacco.” It is rather remarkable, however, that two of Cowper's most intimate friends were noted for their “ attachment to the weed.” In a poem enclosed in a letter to one of these gentlemen, the poet thus expresses his regret for the passage here :
Forgive the bard, if bard he be,
Note 2. - Page 130, line 14.
Like hidden lamps in old sepulchral urns. Several passages in the present poem, and in Retirement, are interesting as touching upon points in the author's personal character. Of these, as Hayley remarks,“ he is here peculiarly severe on what he
considered his own peculiar defect, - that excess of diffidence_ that insurmountable shyness, which is apt to freeze the current of English conversation.” The following little poem, written by Cowper in very early youth, takes an amusing view of this subject. It was addressed to his cousin, Miss T. J. Cowper.
William was once a bashful youth,
His modesty was such,
He rather had too much.
Some said that it was want of sense,
And others, want of spirit,
While others could not bear it.
But some a different notion had,
And at each other winking,
He paid it off with thinking.
Howe'er, it happen'd, by degrees,
He mended, and grew perter,
And dress'd a little smarter.
Nay, now and then, could look quite gay,
As other people do ;
A witty thing or so.
He eyed the women, and made free
To comment on their shapes,
No fear of a relapse.
But now no longer foolish,
But wants a deal of polish.”
'Twere scarce too much to say,
Or half so degagé.
May not in vain be shown,
E'en claim him for her own !
NOTE 3. - Page 134, 9th line from bottom.
Did not they burn within us by the way ? Never was the tender simplicity of Scripture language more feelingly preserved than in this passage--" Do not our hearts feel all ? ” For an affecting instance of the power of the original narrative, in St Luke, personally interesting to the poet, the reader may consult his Letters. Vol. I. p. 9.
NOTE 4. - Page 137, line 2.
But to treat justly what he loved so well. These lines, so beautiful in their expression of sedate force, are believed, upon good authority, to point to Cowper's father; Hayley, however, states that in his experience he never knew one whose practice approached nearer to the description than the poet's own.
NOTE 5. - Page 139, 9th line from bottom.
Keep still the dear companion at their side. See the Tusculan Questions and Oration for the poet Archias. The poet's admonition here is affecting, and his argument ought to be conclusive. The soul-engrossing devotedness of a virtuous and accomplished heathen to the volumes of a philosophy, beautiful indeed in idea, but whose themes are darkened, and interests transitory, is a reproach to the coldness with which the Christian regards that book whose beauty is heavenly, whose truth is inspiration, and whose concerns belong to eternity.
NOTES TO RETIREMENT.
Note 1.–Page 151, line 18.
Scenes of sorrow into glorious day. The whole of this passage is happily conceived, and beautifully expressed. We discover, too, an interesting connection between Cowper's train of thought, and Sir Isaac Newton's, who said of himself and his sublime discoveries, that he was but as a child picking up a few stones and shells on the shore of the great ocean of truth.
NOTE 2.–Page 154, line 8.
'Tis God's just claim, prerogative divine. This is the only passage in Cowper's poetry, where, more than by the slightest allusion, he treats of the subject of love. It is a theme which he appears to have studiously shunned, first in these earlier poems from the dread of awakening recollections of youth, which had cast their sadness, as he himself in youth expressed it,
O’er a long night now coming — that never may end; and afterwards in the Task from considerations of later occurrence. On his early attachment we shall subjoin here some additional information received since the Life was written. The young lady, Theodora Jane Cowper, his cousin, to whom the poet gave his first affections, is