« PreviousContinue »
is a tablet to his memory in Winchester Cathedral for which Cowper wrote an inscription, which was, however, not accepted.
P. 249, 11. 1-5. Cf. Paradise Lost, iv. 13-15. * P. 250, 1. 58. All the editions printed in the poet's lifetime read the umber stood.” But umber means a dark yellow earth and can have no sense here. There can be no doubt that "lumber" is right. It may be noted that, in the first edition 1785, there is a larger space than usual between “the” and “umber," as if a letter were omitted. This disappears later. The whole serves as a striking proof of how little Cowper corrected the new editions of his poems, and how little his authority can be attributed to such corrections as were made after the first editions.
P. 251, 1. 96. Cf. Paradise Lost, iv. 650. Cowper had always been fond of parodying Milton, as may be seen by the very earliest verses we have of his. See p. 1.
P. 251, 1. 103. Sainte-Beuve (Causeries du Lundi, xi. 175) translates this passage down to line 180, and says of it: “dans cette description si parfaite qu'on vient de lire, Cowper a su concilier les deux ordres de qualités, la finesse et le relief de chaque détail (je dirai même le brillanté sur un ou deux points), et la gradation et la fuite aérienne de la perspective."
P. 252, 1. 131. Cf. Horace, Epistles, ii. 2, 55: “Singula de nobis anni praedantur euntes."
P. 253, 1. 166. I have, with a little hesitation, restored the original reading “rooted in his bank,” found in the editions of 1785 and 1786; “ their bank" already appears in 1787. Southey gives “his bank ;” bat Bell, Benham, and Bruce read “their”; the latter, who usually mentions variations in the text, on this occasion not even giving the original reading in the note. “His" seems right, for two reasons: first, that as we have just seen, Cowper does not appear to have corrected the reprints, as, if he had, he could not have passed over so obvious a mistake as “umber" in line 58: and we have found throughout that most of the changes in the later editions appear to be mere corruptions. A further reason is that the bank is the bank of the river not of the trees.
P. 254, 1. 211. “Weather-house”: an old-fashioned substitute for a barometer, contrived so that a man's figure came forward when bad weather was to be expected, and a woman's when fine. The curious illustration of it is by Blake from Hayley's Life of Cowper, ii. 415.
P. 255, 1. 262. The chestnuts had been spared by the successors of “ Benevolus" and were still to be enjoyed when I was at Weston in 1902. The property has, I believe, now passed out of the hands of the Throckmorton family.
John Courtenay Throckmorton, the “Mr. Frog” of Cowper's letters, succeeded his grandfather in the family baronetcy in 1791. He died in 1819 and was succeeded by his brother George, who had taken the name of Courtenay, and had lived at Weston from the time Sir John succeeded.
Both brothers, and their wives, are constantly and affectionately
mentioned in Cowper's letters. The portrait reproduced here is one by Downman, in the possession of Mr. Vaughan Johnson. It is a chalk drawing done in 1783 and a companion picture to that of Lady Throckmorton also reproduced in the present edition.
The hall was pulled down in 1827, but the park and gardens are full of details mentioned by Cowper. In the “ Wilderness" are his bust of Homer, and the urns with his lines on Fop and Neptune, but the most curious monument, perhaps, is one which was put up long after Cowper left Weston, but recalls the extreme Whig opinions of the Throckmortons, which Cowper could not share. It is a recumbent lion with the inscription “Mortuo Leoni etiam Lepores insultant, 1815," and must, I suppose, refer to Napoleon.
See Wright, iv. 386, for a letter to Lady Hesketh from which it appears that she regarded Mr. Courtenay, that is, George Throckmorton, as a Jacobin.
It may be noted that almost every detail of what Cowper describes in this passage (lines 220-360) may still be traced on the spot at Weston. Only the “Peasant's Nest” has become a modern red brick cottage, and “the folded gates” of line 330 no longer guard the avenue of limes. Seo Mr. Wright's excellent little book The Town of Cowper.
P. 260, l. 527. 1785, 1786 “prickly goss” and “ deform,” and so Southey : but “gorse” and “deformed," as given from 1787 onwards, seem legitimate corrections. The change is, in fact, simply the adoption of modern forms of the words.
P. 263, l. 633. All the editions published in Cowper's life spell the name Omia. Omai was a native of Otaheite, was brought to England, in 1774, and was received by George III.
P. 264, 1. 702. John Bacon, the sculptor, 1740-1799. His best known works are the monuments of Chatham in the Guildhall and at Westminster Abbey, and that of Johnson in St. Paul's. His grave bears the inscription, written by himself: “What I was as an artist seemed of some importance while I lived; but what I really was as a believer in Jesus Christ is the only thing of importance now.” He sent Cowper through Newton an engraving of his monument of Chatham. See the letters of October 13, and October 22, 1783, in which Cowper sends his thanks.
P. 265, 1. 758. “Can ye shine" from 1793.
P. 266, 1. 772. “What enemies” from 1787. Southey retains the reading of 1785 and there seems no sufficient reason for altering it. Bruce prints " what” without comment; so Bell and Benham.
P. 272, l. 285. Much of Cowper's work has an appearance of being carelessly written. But all the evidence, his own repeated assertions, and the various versions which have survived of so many of his pieces, show that he never spared himself the “ poetic pains" of which he speaks here. The defect was not one of industry but of critical ear.
P. 275, 1. 433. “All besides ” from 1793.
P. 276, 1. 437. “At conventicle heard” 1785, 1786; “heard at cocventicle” from 1787. I have here deserted the earlier text; believing that Cowper would probably have accepted the correction, even if he did not, as is just possible, make it himself. But the earlier text may well be defended on the ground of the strong accent on the first syllable of words beginning with “con,” which is still to be heard in many parts of the country.
It may be noted that Cowper, though often claimed as their own poet by Nonconformists, was not only always a Churchman, but evidently had no taste for some of the features which were conspicuous at religious meetings of Dissenters.
P. 279, 1. 584. “like us " 1785, 1786; “like ours" from 1787.
P. 279, 1. 600. “That waits” 1785, 1786, and Southey; “who waits* from 1787 ; and so Bell, Benham, Bruce.
P. 280, 1. 634. “But acquire ” from 1787, and so Bell, Benham, Bruce; "and acquire" 1785, 1786, and Southey.
P. 280, 1. 660. “In heathen heaven " 1785, 1786, and Southey; "in Juno's heaven" from 1787, and so Bell, Bruce, Benham. I have accepted it as clearly an improvement, and so great a change that it is far less likely than most of the others noted to have been made without the poet's authority.
P. 281, 1. 674. “Its sire" 1785, 1786, and Southey ; “the sire" from 1787, and so Bell, Bruce and Benham.
P. 285. The Garden, 1-20: Another reminiscence of Milton, recalling more than one phrase to be found in Paradise Lost. See Book is. 415 and the opening of Book iii.
P. 286, 1. 95. “A good natured age" 1785-1788; "a" omitted first in 1793.
P. 287, 1. 131. “Remainder half” 1785, 1786; “remaining half" from 1787.
P. 289, 1. 203. “Your glass ” 1785-1788, and Southey and Bell : “thy glass” from 1793, and so Bruce and Benham ; a correction Cowper could not have rejected.
P. 289, 1. 213. “In earth” from 1788, so Bell, Bruce, Benham; "in th' earth” 1785, 1786, and Southey ; “in the earth" followed here on the principle of avoiding all avoidable apostrophes.
P. 290, l. 247. It seems best to retain the italics in which all the original editions print “him.”
P. 290, 1. 278. “Who writes” from 1787, and so Bruce and Benham; " that writes ” 1785, 1786, and Southey.
P. 291, 1. 315. “Summer-month retreats” 1785, 1786, and Soutbey; “Summermonths' retreat” 1787 and later, at first without and afterwards with the apostrophe; “summer months' retreats," Bruce, Bell, Benbart
P. 294, 1. 455. John Philips, poet, author of Cyder and Tks Splendid Shilling, was born in 1676 and died in 1709.
P. 294, 1. 463. “Stercorarious” 1785, 1786, and Southey ; “Stercor. aceous” from 1787, Bruce, Benham, Bell.
P. 294, 1. 467. “Deciduous and when” 1785, 1786, and Southey ; “ deciduous when" from 1787, and so Bruce and Benham.
P. 295, l. 510. All the editions 1785-1795 read “fomentation,” a manifest mistake.
P. 297, 1. 585. All editions (1785-1795)“ Caffraia."
P. 300, 1. 748. Here, as elsewhere, e.g., 819, “ that had ” 1785, 1786 ; “ who" later.
P. 301, 1. 766. Lancelot Brown, known as “ Capability Brown,” was originally kitchen gardener to Lord Cobham, but made a fortune by his skill in laying-out gardens, in which his object was to bring out “ the undulating lines of the natural landscape” (Dictionary of National Biography). He was high sheriff of Huntingdonshire in 1770 and died in 1783.
P. 302, 1. 840. “ Pleases and yet shocks” 1785-1788, and Southey. “ Pleasest and yet shock’st" 1793, an improvement Cowper could not reject.
P. 303. In the argument 1785, 1786 have " amusements of a rural," later editions “rural amusements,” which is plainly wrong and one of the many indications that these alterations made in 1787 were unauthorised.
P. 303. Opening of Book IV. This passage is here printed as in the first edition, 1785; gradual changes of punctuation, a point in which the early editions are never to be trusted, ended in the following in 1795:
“Hark! 'tis the twanging horn o'er yonder bridge,
That with its wearisome but needless length
He comes,” etc. But the first edition is certainly right, as usual. It is the postman, not the horn, who comes o'er the bridge; with the later punctuation the word should be "on" not “ o'er.”
P. 305, l. 120. This and the lines on Evening, 243 et seq., are the passages illustrated by Blake in the designs with which we have the good fortune to adorn this edition.
P. 308, 1. 221. Most editors have substituted "mace” for “mast” as given throughout from 1785-1795.
P. 308, 1. 228. “Fit pupils” is given by Bell, and some other editors; but “sit pupils " is the unbroken reading 1785-1795.
P. 309, 1. 307. Bell and Benham give “toils,” but “toys” is the reading of 1785, and it is still found in 1795. And so Southey and Bruce.
P. 309, 1. 308. For a comparison of this passage with Thomson, see Introduction, pp. xlvii. et seq.
P. 312, 1. 427. Cowper's friend Mr. Thornton. See Charity, line 253. P. 318, 1. 718. " There too" 1793, 1795; an obvious error.
P. 319, 1. 757. “Grace the wall” 1786 ; “ well,” the reading of 1785, was restored in 1787, and remained in the subsequent editions. It is also the reading of Southey, Bell, Bruce, and Benham.
P. 323, 1. 135. Cf. Virgil, Georg. iv. 363.
P. 324, 1. 188. “Should ” 1785, 1786; “would” from 1787. Souther as usual follows the earlier editions ; Bruce, Benham, and Bell the later.
P. 327, 1. 297. Benham prints "philosophic deeds"; but, as Bruce's note shows, this is a mere corruption, which first appears in 1799.
P. 327, 1. 331. From the letter of October 20, 1784, it appears that in the original draft of the poem there was here a passage justifying the execution of Charles I. which Cowper calls “a good deed but ill done." Unwin objected to it and it was suppressed and the lines written as they now stand, except that the first words ran “we too are friends to royalty." For the pleasure this passage gave to Queen Charlotte see the note to p. 465.
P. 329, 11. 383-392. Fox quoted these lines, or some of them, in a speech in the House of Commons. Hayley had the pleasure of bringing the newspaper containing the speech and quotation with him on one of his visits to Weston. See Grimshawe’s Life and Works of Cowper, vol. v. 380.
P. 329, 1. 393. “Who values" from 1787.
P. 333, 1. 597. “An acquiescence” 1785, 1786, and Southey ; "and acquiescence” from 1787, and so Bruce and Benham.
P. 335, 1. 704. Sir George Trevelyan, speaking of this passage in s note to his Early History of Charles James Fox (ix. 418), expresses the opinion that “ in the sweet expression of sympathy with heroic deeds and sufferings," it“ yields to very little blank verse in or out of Shakespeare."
P. 344, l. 151. “The scented and the scentless” 1785-1783, and so Southey ; “the scentless and the scented” from 1793, and so Bell, Benham, and Bruce, without comment.
P. 345, 1. 239. “Who bore” 1786, and so Southey; but “who wore * 1785 and again from 1787.
P. 347, 1. 318. “Cries aloud” 1795 ; "scolds aloud” 1785-1793.
P. 355, 1. 679. Cowper refers, of course, to the Jubilee Celebration at Stratford-on-Avon in 1769, of which Garrick was the principal organiser.
P. 359, 1. 881. This passage probably refers to the action of Theophilus Lindsey, Vicar of Catterick in Yorkshire, who, after failing in an effort to get the clergy released from the burden of subscribing to the Thirty-nine Articles, resigned his living in 1773, and retired to poverty in London. Sir George Trevelyan tells the story in his Early History of Charles James Fox (ix. 418), and, in doing so, says that, while others who had joined in Lindsey's attempt ultimately became bishops, “the only distinetion which fell to his lot consisted in a few lines of grudging, and even sinister, commendation by a poet, who so nobly celebrated the martyrs of faith that he might have had something better than irony to bestow upon the martyr of honesty.” He proceeds to quote this passage.
P. 361, 1. 952. “And idler” 1785-1788; "an idler" 1793, 1795.