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to whom the verses were addressed was Miss Ann Green, Lady Austen's niece, afterwards Mrs. Grindon. Her descendants still live at Olney.
P. 431. Epitaph on a Hare :—The Unwin MS. in Cowper's hand gives the following variations :
1. 5. “Tiney the surliest.”
The text given is that of the edition of 1800. The epitaph was first printed in the Gentleman's Magazine. See the letter of January 15, 1785.
P. 432. Royal George :—See Introduction, page liv. These lines, and the Latin version which follows, are among the MSS. in the British Museum. The title as given in the text is that of the MS., which gives no variations except that the poem is written in half the number of lines, the first line being :
“Toll for the brave, the brave that are no more !” and the whole being divided into three stanzas, each consisting of six of these long lines. And this was Cowper's original intention. See the letter of August 4, 1783, to Unwin where he says: “The tune laid me under a disadvantage obliging me to write in Alexandrines; which I suppose would suit no ear but a French one.” The change to the shorter lines, whoever made it, has certainly been the making of the poem. It is to be noticed that Cowper considered it a ballad and not an ode. Johnson, who printed the lines in his 1815 edition, dates them September, 1782.
P. 434. Song in Peace :--J. Johnson (1815 edition) adds to the title " written in the summer of 1783, at the request of Lady Austen, who gave the Sentiment.” To the next poem also he adds the note“ also written at the request of Lady Austen."
P. 438. The Valediction :—This poem is among the Unwin MSS. (Add. MSS., 24,155, fol. 146). Cowper's severe judgment of his friends Thurlow and Colman proved mistaken: see Introduction, p. lv., and the letters of December 27, 1785, January 31, 1786, and July 4, 1786, from which last it appears that Colman corrected the press when Cowper's Homer was in the printer's hands.
Southey first printed the poem in full. The right text in p. 439, 1. 10, is "post" as given here, not “part” as given in some editions. It is "post" in the MS. as well as in Southey. For Thurlow, see note to
George Colman, often spoken of as “ Colman the Elder” to distinguish him from his son, was born in 1732, and died in 1794. Ile was a successful dramatist, joint author with Lloyd of the Odes to Obscurity and Oblivion written in parody of Gray, and a man of letters of some celebrity, one of his works being a translation of Terence. lle was one of the pall-bearers at the funeral of Johnson. P. 440. To the Immortal Memory, etc. :-The text given here is that printed by Johnson in the Private Correspondence, 1824, vol. i. 321. The Ash MS. in Cowper's hand gives “stout and noble bark" in the ninth line of the poem; and in the eighteenth line, “And we not more that re should feed on thee' ; but I have retained Johnson' text which is prob ably the poet's final version.
P. 441. The Poplar Field :-See letters of February 7, 1785, February 28, 1785, and May 1, 1786. The original editions add the following footnote: “Mr. Cowper afterwards altered this last stanza in the following manner:
• The change both my heart and my fancy employs,
Have a still shorter date, and die sooner than we.” In the Gentleman's Magazine, where the piece was first printed, the first line ran, according to Mr. Wright :
“The poplars are felled and adieu to the shade.” It is unnecessary to point out the superiority of the later version with its pause on the word “felled"; a pause which may suggest the dead fall of the trees, or the shock to the poet who loved them.
P. 442. Written on a page of the Monthly Review :- These lines were sent to the Record newspaper, February 20, 1867, by an anonymous correspondent, who believed them to be new. And both Canon Benham in the Globe edition, and Mr. Wright in his Unpublished Poems, regard this as their first appearance in print. But, as Mr. Wright had himself pointed out in his Life of Cowper, they were originally given in the Rural Walks of Cowper, 1826, p. 21.
Newton had published an apology for remaining in the Church of England, and the Monthly Review had spoken of him as putting forward an argument “ with the usual cant of these reformers." Cowper's indignation made him write these lines on a copy that came into his hands
P. 442. Epitaph on Dr. Johnson :-Among the Unwin MSS. with the letter of January 15, 1785. The MS. agrees with the printed text.
P. 443. On the Author of Letters of Literature :—See the letters of October 22, and November 5, 1785, in which Cowper expresses his indignation against this individual, who wrote the book in question under the pseudonym of Robert Heron. He was in reality one John Pinkerton. The value of his book, and the measure of his impudence, may be estimated from his assertion that Virgil never wrote a line worth reading.
P. 443. To Miss Creuzé :- This poem, sent to Unwin in an undated letter, is among the MSS. in the British Museum (Add. MSS., 24,155, fol. 135). It gives the lady's name in full, which has generally been printed “Miss C.” Cowper says of his little piece: “It is serious yet epigrammatic like a bishop at a ball.”
P. 443. Gratitude :-For Lady Hesketh, see Introduction, pp. xiii., xxi. These lines were first printed by Hayley, vol. ii. 266.
Canon Benham says (Globe Edition, Introduction, p. Ixiv.) that the piece, when originally sent to Lady Hesketh, was called “ Benefactions: a poem in Shepstone's manner. Addressed to my dearest Coz, April 14, 1788”; and that the last two stanzas then ran as follows:
“ These items endear my abode
Disposing me oft to reflect
Whom here I impatient expect.
Whose dial hand points to eleven,
Waits only a passage to heaven.
And, sweeping the cords of your lyre,
As now, with poetical fire.
In high flying ditty to rise
Por bearing a goose to the skies.” Ashley Cowper, father of Lady Hesketh and Theodora, was dying at the time, and it is, of course, to this that Cowper alludes. But he was happily inspired when he struck out these two stanzas, and substituted those in the text.
P. 446. Stanzas Subjoined, etc. :--The origin of these stanzas, first printed by Bull in 1801 with the translations from Madame Guyon, is humorously related in the letter of November 27, 1787. “A decent elderly figure" appeared one morning at Weston Lodge, and, announcing itself as “clerk of the parish of All Saints, in Northampton, brother of Mr. Cox the upholsterer,” begged Cowper to write some verses to be annexed according to custom to the bill of mortality published at Christmas. The poet was amused, and, after at first referring his visitor to the “ men of genius” in his own town, and being assured that they were too learned to be understood, accepted the task, commenting, as he finished his story to Lady Hesketh : “a fig for poets who write epitaphs for individuals! I have written one that serves two hundred persons ! ”
P. 446, 1. 21. Southey, Bruce, Bell, and Benham all give “awful truth”; but it is "solemn truth” both in Bull's original edition and in the edition of 1808.
P. 453. Lines Composed for a Memorial, etc. :-Among the Ash MSS. as printed here. Among the MSS. in the British Museum (Add. MSS., 30,803 A., fol. 185) is a copy of this poem made by Hayley from a MS. book of Cowper’s which Lady Hesketh had sent him. She had not
examined the book before sending it, and he hastens to send her a copy of a poem “so soothing to your heart as an affectionate daughter."
P. 453. The Negro's Complaint :-Line 7“ But though theirs ” 1803; “ but though slave” 1808.
P. 454, 1. 22. Mr. Wright (Correspondence, iii. 258) says the word in the letter enclosing these verses is “ fetters” not“ matches.”
P. 459. Sonnet addressed to Henry Cowper, Esq.:-Henry Cowper, son of the poet's first cousin, General Spencer Cowper, was Clerk of the House of Lords.
The Sonnet was sent to the Gentleman's Magazine and signed T. H. (Letters of May 12 and 27, 1788). General Cowper sent the magazine to Cow per, praising “the verses somebody has written," on which the poet confessed the authorship.
P. 459. The Yearly Distress :-Among the Unwin MSS. (Add. MSS., 24,155, fol. 140).
P. 461. On Mrs. Montagu's Feather Hangings :-Elizabeth Montagu, the hostess of the “ Blue-stocking " assemblies, was born in 1720 and died in 1800. Johnson highly praised her conversation but did not share the admiration Cowper expresses for her essay on Shakespeare.
See the letters of May 12 and June 5, 1788, which show that this piece was sent to the Gentleman's Magazine.
P. 462, 1. 34. “The ruffled plumage” both in 1803 and 1808; but “their ruffled plumage,” as printed by later editors must surely be right.
P. 463. To an Aflicted Protestant Lady, etc. :—First printed in Bull's little volume, 1801, with the title An Epistle to a Protestant Lady in France. This lady was a Mrs. Billacoys, a friend of Lady Austen, at whose desire the poem was written. It was first printed, according to Greatheed (Memoirs of Cowper, p. 131), in the Theological Miscellany for July, 1789. Mrs. Billacoys was apparently of English birth, but, having gone abroad in attendance on Lady Austen, married a Frenchman, M. Billscoys, with whom she was not happy, her husband being a Roman Catholic and she a Protestant of Evangelical views. See the whole account in Greatheed's book; and Hayley, ii. 269.
P. 463, 1. 3. “Her Creator's” Bull, and so 1803 and 1805; "the Creator's” 1808.
P. 463, 1. 18. “Bent upon pleasure ” Bull, 1803 and 1805; “ bent all on pleasure ” 1808.
P. 463, 1. 23. “In pity to the sinners he designed” Bull, 1803, 1805.
Bruce wrongly says the corrections appear in 1803; they appear first in 1808, like so many others.
The lines exist, with the same variations, in Cowper's hand, among the Unwin MSS. in the British Museum. But I have thought it safest to accept the alterations of the 1808 edition which here, as elsewhere, seem almost certainly to be corrections taken from the poet's own MSS.
P. 465. On the Queen's Visit :—These verses were presented to Princess Augusta, “who has probably given them to the Queen” (letter of May 30, 1789) ; but Cowper neither received nor expected any complimentary or other return for them, justly remarking that people “who keep a Laureate in constant pay” cannot be expected to have “either praise or emolument to spare for every volunteer scribbler who may choose to make them his subject.”
We know from Mme. D'Arblay's journal that Queen Charlotte had been a reader of Cowper before she saw these verses. See the entry of August 4, 1786, where the Queen reads aloud the passage in The Task (Bk. v. 331) beginning : “We too are friends to loyalty” and declares it to be “one of the most just compliments, without extravagance and without coldness, that could be paid to the King."
P. 468. The Cockfighter's Garland :-In the late Mr. H. R. Vaughan Johnson's copy of the works of Cowper, he inserted a MS, note in this poem as follows: “In a MS. copy of this poem, in my father's handwriting, and now in the possession of F. Locker, Esq., I find a note in Cowper's own handwriting as follows: 'This piece was sent to the Gentleman's Magazine, but recalled on a subsequent suggestion in that work that the story was not well founded, which yet the author has been since informed was perfectly true.'” Mr. Vaughan Johnson was the youngest son of John Johnson, the cousin in whose house Cowper died.
See also the letter of June 6, 1789, where Cowper says both Bull and Greatheed were personally acquainted with the facts related.
P. 470. Lines after the Manner of Homer :-Sent, with thanks for a hamper, to his friend Samuel Rose, in the letter of October 4, 1789. He says he unpacked the hamper himself and “we diverted ourselves with imagining the manner in which Homer would have described the scene. Detailed in his circumstantial way, it would have furnished materials for a paragraph of considerable length in an Odyssey.”
P. 470. Hymn :-Johnson, who first printed this hymn in his Posthumous Poems, 1815, p. 90 of the 12mo edition, gives with it the following note :
“This hymn was written at the request of the Rev. James Bean, then Vicar of Olney, to be sung by the children of the Sunday Schools of that town, after a charity sermon preached at the Parish Church for their benefit on Sunday, July 31, 1790.”
P. 471. Longing to be with Christ :-—This hymn was first printed in full by Grimshawe in his Life of Cowper, vol. viii. 161. It has generally been printed with the Olney Hymns, but is not one of them. A copy of the first four verses of it, in John Johnson's hand, exists among the Welborne