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Southey gives “Nor”; Bruce, Bell, and Benham “No.” “No” seems an improvement, but I doubt if the improvement is Cowper's; the line as it stood at first is exactly in his manner.
P. 209, l. 506. “Contemplations” 1782-1787, and so Southey ; « contemplation” 1788, and so Bruce and Bell.
P. 213, 1. 687. Voltaire, who built a church and placed in it the inscription “Deo erexit Voltaire.”
P. 216. The Doves :- This piece was enclosed by Cowper in a letter to Mrs. Newton, in June, 1780. The letter is published in Southey, xv. 52, and more fully in Wright, i. 194. Among the Welborne MSS. are several more complete copies, giving further omitted passages. From these it appears that the poem, which he says in the letter was then “about ten days old,” was originally called Anti-Thelyphthora and began as follows:
“Muse, mark the much lamented day
When, like a tempest feared,
And heard the voice of love ; ” etc. “ The first Stanza,” says the poet, “ will make you acquainted with the occasion of it. I have been astonished to learn from good authority that some persons of respectable name have honoured the author's (i.e., Madan's) argument with their approbation.” In the course of a note, signed J. J., that is, John Johnson, occurs the following: “The Doves was called in the original MS., which I saw at Weston, Anti-Thelyphthora, and was new named no doubt for the above reason”; that is, Cowper's wish not to be known as the author of anything against Madan.
The letter concludes : “ The male Dove was smoking a pipe, and the female Dove was sewing, while she delivered herself as above. This little circumstance may lead you perhaps to guess what pair I had in my eye." It has been assumed that this must be a reference to“ smoke-inhaling Bull” the Dissenting clergyman of Newport Pagnell, and his wife. But Cowper did not know Bull in June, 1780. The letter of November 7, 1781, to Newton seems to refer to their first meeting ; and Cowper describes Bull to Unwin in June, 1783, as if he were a comparatively new friend; and an even stronger proof is that in his first letter to Bull, dated March 24, 1782, he says, “ as you offer me your friendship," and invites Bull to come over to Olney, “when your leisure and your health will allow you.” This seems conclusive against his having known Bull in 1780.
The allusion, therefore, is probably to Mr. and Mrs. Newton. He fancied them having such a conversation as this as Newton smoked and his wife did her sewing. We know that Newton smoked from Cowper's letter to him of September 18, 1781, and from the poem on smoking addressed to Bull.
The poem occurs also among the Ash MSS. with the same opening six lines as are found in the Welborne MSS.
P. 217. A Fable :—See letter of May 10, 1780, written the day after this fable.
The piece is in Cowper's hand among the Ash MSS. It is as afterwards printed except that in the fourteenth and following lines the MS. strangely reads :
« Lest the rude blast that threatened so,
And rocked her cradle to and fro,
But just at eve," etc. P. 217, 1. 28. “Dray” is an old word for a squirrel's nest. It is so used in White's Selborne.
P. 218. “Sweet stream, that winds," etc. :—These lines were sent to Unwin in a letter on June 8, 1780. The reference was to Unwin's sister-in-law, Miss Shuttleworth : though Cowper says the lines are " not so exclusively applicable to a maiden as to be the sole property of your sister Shuttleworth” and that Mrs. Unwin “has not lost her right to this just praise by marrying you.”
The letter with the lines is now in the British Museum (Add. MSS., 24,154).
P. 218. Verses Supposed to be Written, etc. :-MSS. of this piece erist among the Unwin MSS. in the British Museum (in Mrs. Unwin's hand) and among the Ash MSS. Both are as usual plainly inferior, in their few variations, to the printed version which is no doubt the final one. In the fifth stanza, line 5, the Unwin MS. reads:
“My friends do they never attend
To the sad recollection of me.
Though a friend that I never must see." The Ash MS. reads the same except that in the fifth line it gives "ever attend.” In the sixth stanza the Ash MS. reads in line 5:
“When I think of my native abode
In a moment I seem to be there :
Still holds me a prisoner here.”
Alexander Selkirk was left alone on the island of Juan Fernandez in 1704 and remained there till January, 1709. His adventures are supposed to have suggested Robinson Crusoe to Defoe.
P. 220. On the Promotion of Edward Thurlow, Esq.:-Edward Thurlow (1731-1806), who in his early years was with Cowper in the office of a solicitor named Chapman in Ely Place, became Lord Chancellor in 1778 He did not acknowledge Cowper's gift of his first volume, a neglect or mistake which caused the allusions to him in the Epistle to Joseph Hill and The Valediction, but later on the misunderstanding was removed and he corresponded with Cowper on the translation of Homer and showed his friendliness in various ways.
This poem was sent to Hill with the letter of November 14, 1779, and ig with the original letter at Yaxham.
P. 220. Ode to Peace :—This piece is among the Ash MSS., which gives in line 3:
« Once more in William's heart," and in line 9:
“ Whom nothing base beguiles.” P. 221. Human Frailty : -Sent to Unwin with the letter of December 2, 1779, now in the British Museum. In the last verse, the MS. gives “But oars alas can ne'er prevail.”
P. 222. The Modern Patriot :-This piece was meant to refer to Burke, but Cowper repented on reading a speech of Burke's,“ with his proposals for a reformation.” He says (February 27, 1780) that he burnt the verses, but he must have kept a copy.
He disliked Burke's attitude on the American question. The speech that made him change his mind on Burke's character must be that delivered on February 11, 1780, "on economical reform," as it was afterwards entitled.
P. 222. On Observing Some Names, etc. :-Sent to Unwin with the letter of September 3, 1780, now in the British Museum, where it appears as afterwards printed.
P. 223. Report of an Adjudged Case :-Sent to Unwin December 2, 1780, in a letter now in the British Museum, where it is entitled : “Nose Plt. Eyes Dft. Vid. Plowden Folio 6004.” It also occurs among the Hill letters at Yaxham, (December 27 (not 25 as printed] 1780), where it has the game title. Both MSS. give a few unimportant variations from the text as afterwards printed : In line 1 the Unwin letter gives“ once a contest arose” and the Hill letter “a sad contest arose” ; in line 2 the Unwin MS. gives “set them egregiously wrong"; in line 5 the Hill letter gives “80 the Tongue was the lawyer"; and in line 8 “ talent at nicely discerning."
P. 224. On the Burning, etc. :-Sent to Unwin June 22, 1780. The letter is in the British Museum, and exhibits two small variations ; in line 2, “Sworn foes of Sense and Law”; and in line 7, "the well-judged purchase, or the gift.”
William Murray, Earl of Mansfield, became Lord Chief Justice of England in 1756. It was during the Gordon riots that his house was attacked and his library burnt.
P. 226. The Love of the World Reproved :-In this poem, as originally printed in Cowper's first volume, the following lines occur after the eighth, "point at large":
“ Had he the sinful part expressed,
They might with safety eat the rest :
What joint the prophet had in mind.” These lines are the “unnecessary additions by an unknown hand" referred to in Cowper's note. The hand is said to have been Newton's. But if these are the lines Newton added it is strange that his note should speak of them as “by an unknown hand.” For we know from the letter of December 31, 1781, that he had heard of some additions by Newton, though he had not seen them. And his tone in speaking of them is very different to the tone of the note. It seems doubtful, therefore, whether these are Newton's lines. But, whoever may be their author, they are clearly not an improvement, and we may perhaps have the right to be more jealous for the poet than he was for himself, and relegate the impertinent addition to a note.
The piece occurs among the Ash MSS. in Cowper's hand and without the six added lines. It is headed “Almost a Christian. A Tale.”
P. 226. The Lily and the Rose :-Sent to Unwin in an undated letter in the British Museum (Add. MSS., 24,155, fol. 151). There are no various readings in it. In the letter (Wright, i. 420) Cowper says the verses ought to be supposed to be written twenty years before, no man having “less to do with the ladies' cheeks” than he.
P. 227. The Nightingale and The Glowworm:—See letter to Unwin, February 27, 1780, where he says he had read in a philosophical tract that the glowworm is the nightingale's proper food.
P. 228. . On a Goldfinch, etc. :-Sent Unwin November 9, 1780. The letter and verses, which exhibit no variations of text, are in the British Museum. Cowper mentions that “the tragical occasion of the verses" happened at the house next to his own.
P. 229. The Pine Apple and the Bee :—The Hill MSS. give a copy of this piece in the poet's hand. He sent it to Hill with the letter of October 2, 1779. I have borrowed from it one correction, the italics which the poet carefully gives to the word “one ” on page 230, lines 5 and Other various readings it affords are “pushed his attempt ” in line 7, "all in vain ” in line 9, and “pervious only” in line 10. There is also a copy of this poem in the poet's hand among the Ash MSS. It exhibits the same variations as the Hill MS., except that it gives “only pervious" in line 10. Cf. note on a similar poem given on p. 413.
P. 230. Horace, Book ii. Ode x. This, and the translations from Bourne which follow, are placed here in order that Cowper's volume may appear in full as it was first printed. For other translations from Horace and from Bourne, see pp. 600, 640.
P. 231. Translations from Vincent Bourne :-Vincent Bourne (1695-1747)
was a master at Westminster School while Cowper was there. He was an indifferent teacher and so poor a disciplinarian that Cowper says in one of his letters that he remembered seeing the Duke of Richmond “set fire to his greasy locks and box his ears to put it out.” Bourne's Latin poems went through several editions and were greatly admired by Cowper who translated many of them and wrote of him (May 10, 1781): “I think him a better Latin poet than Tibullus, Propertius, Ausonius, or any of the writers in his way except Ovid, and not at all inferior to him," a judgment which it amazed Landor to find in a poet whom he considered entitled to rank “paeue inter summos.” Bourne's poems were edited by Mitford in 1840.
For other translations from Bourne, see pp. 600-612.
P. 236. The Winter Nosegay :- Mary is, of course, Mrs. Unwin, and this is the first of the poems addressed to her. See pp. 494, 503.
P. 236. Mutual Forbearance :—The MS. in the British Museum (Add. MSS., 24,155, fol. 145) exhibits the following variations :-(lines 2-4): “How I detest this odious house!
It is not large enough and, was it,
Yet this low room, and that dark closet.”
“You are by far more nice than wise,
A wiser man than he might err.” and in line 58 (third line on p. 238):
“The evils it would gladly cure.” P. 239. Translation of Prior's Chloe and Euphelia :-Sent to Unwin May, 1779. The letter with the verses is now in the British Museum. Cowper says in it that he has not got Prior's poem, and has not seen it for twenty years.
P. 239. Boadicea :—The heroine of the last British rising against the Romans, about A.D. 60. She seems really not to have died in battle, but to have taken poison on her defeat.
P. 240. Heroism :-For allusions to this poem, at one time intended to close the first volume, see the letters of December 17, 1781, December 31, 1781, January 13, 1782. It was originally called Aetna. Cowper was a little nervous lest he should be supposed ignorant of the fact that the volcano formed the mountain, and that therefore the mountain did not “tower a cloudcapt pyramid of snow” while her fires“ slept silent" within her. But he claims that a poet's imagination is not to be bound down to “mere matters of fact.”
P. 244. To the Rev. William Cawthorne Unwin :-The lines are with an undated letter (Wright, i. 420) in the British Museum.
Unwin, the only son of Mrs. Unwin, was Rector of Stock, in Essex. To him Tirocinium was addressed. He died in December, 1786, and there