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appear that the two men were ever friends. Indeed their very different characters would have made even acquaintance difficult.
What this way of life would have led him to no one can now say. But the sad and abrupt end to which it actually came is well known. It was about to reach the conclusion natural in that day to a young man of Cowper's connections and ability, when the catastrophe occurred. His cousin, Major Cowper, had the right of nominating to a valuable clerkship in the House of Lords, and, in 1763, he nominated the poet. The result was the crisis of Cowper's life. He had been subject to deep depression from the time he first went to live alone in the Temple. It is difficult now to be sure of the exact nature of this melancholy, Cowper's own account of it being coloured by the religious ideas with which he emerged from the attack. He says that George Herbert's poems, by the “strain of piety” he found in them, alone alleviated his misery. But, whatever the actual nature of the illness was, by 1763 his mind was in a state unfit to bear any excitement, and the prospect of appearing before the House of Lords so completely overwhelmed him that he several times attempted suicide, and the whole scheme was abandoned. Nothing shows more painfully how deeply rooted the disease was than his own account, written later, in which he is still plainly incapable of distinguishing between what really occurred and what was merely the hallucination of his disordered brain. His disease at once took the form, which it unhappily retained whenever it recurred, of a conviction of his being eternally lost, by a special decree, in punishment of some wickedness. He was soon removed to a private asylum at St. Albans, where he spent eighteen months. In the end the intense religious gloom was succeeded by an equally vivid religious joy, and, when he left the asylum in June 1765, religion had become for him what it remained ever afterwards, alike in happiness and unhappiness, madness and health, the greatest interest of his life. His brother, a Fellow of a Cambridge College, settled him at Huntingdon. He resigned a commissionership of bankruptcy he had held, and his relations subscribed to provide him with an income. But it is evident that his inaptitude for managing his affairs was bringing him towards bankruptcy, and, what was more serious, his solitude reproducing the old melancholy, when he made the happy acquaintance of the Unwin family, whose name he has immortalized.
Mr. Unwin was a clergyman who had resigned his living and settled, with his wife, son, and daughter, at Huntingdon, where he received pupils. In November, 1765, Cowper went to live with them, and he and Mrs. Unwin were scarcely ever afterwards under different roofs. Complete religious sympathy was one of the links that united him to his new friends, and the little circle was unbroken till July, 1767, when Mr. Unwin died. There seems to have been no thought of a separation between Mrs. Unwin and Cowper :
indeed it appears that Mr. Unwin had expressed a wish to his wife that Cowper should remain in her house. The authority for this statement is the Rev. Josiah Bull, who, in his John Newton, an Autobiography and a Narrative, says that he takes it from the sketch of the poet's life which Newton began and left unfinished. At any rate, the widow and the poet remained together, and it is now known that the somewhat strange position they occupied in the eyes of the world, causing some gossip at the time and some surprise since, was to have been brought to an end by a marriage which was on the point of taking place when Cowper's second attack of insanity occurred. Mr. Bull says that his grandfather, William Bull, the poet's friend, had it from Mrs. Unwin herself that she and Cowper were at that time on the point of being married, and adds that Newton had mentioned the engagement in his unfinished memoir, and said it was well known to their friends. This alone would satisfy most people that Southey had been in some way strangely misled when he allowed himself to deny the engagement and say he was " enabled to assert” that nothing of the kind was either known or suspected by Newton. But I am in a position to give more conclusive proof. The Rev. Samuel Greatheed was a neighbour and friend of the poet, and, after his death, preached a funeral sermon, which was published, and dedicated to Lady Hesketh. He was, therefore, in a position to know the facts, and, in an unpublished letter addressed to John Johnson, the poet's cousin, in whose house he died, he says, referring to Johnson's life of Cowper, “Your account of his life was greatly wanted, and appears to be very well executed. I only wished, for the advantage of Cowper's moral character, that it had mentioned his matrimonial engagement to Mrs. Unwin : but this, I suppose, you were not at liberty to insert." * This evidence is final, as it shows that among those who were nearest to Cowper there was no doubt whatever as to the fact, but only as to the propriety of mentioning it. It seems to have been withheld deliberately, even details pointing to it being struck out. For instance, in the letter to Newton of December 1, 1789, Cowper used the words, “ If you have not beard from myself, you have heard from my better self, Mrs. Unwin." The words in italics were omitted when Johnson published the letter in the Private Correspondence, and they are printed here for the first time. The object of the concealment appears to have been to spare the feelings of Theodora Cowper, who, as Lady
* Greatheed, who is often alluded to in Cowper's letters (e.g., June 4, 1785), mentions the intended marriage in his Memoirs of the Life and Writings of William Cowper, Esq., 1814, adding (p. 30) that “the time for accomplishing their anion was fixed” when the attack of 1773 occurred. He declares that "Cowper repeatedly said that if he ever again entered a Church it would, in the first place, be to marry Mrs. Unwin." This is, of course, conclusive as to Greatheed's own belief: the importance of the letter to Johnson lies in its proving that this belief, or rather knowledge, was shared by all Cowper's friends.
Hesketh knew, had not only never forgotten her love of the poet, but had thought of him as feeling much more than a cousin's affection for her to the end. Of this I have come across a curious proof. : A year after Cowper's death, on July 6, 1801, Hayley, writing to John Johnson, sends him a copy of “a very interesting mysterious poem, supposed by the tender Theodora to be written by our beloved Bard, and intended for her private intelligence as addressed to herself.” The verses appeared in the St. James' Chronicle, “addressed to a friend and relation,” in June 1793. I give them here as a curiosity, though Hayley was probably right in deciding they were not the work of Cowper.
“O Thou who bad'st the Muse forget her fear,
When rude at first the untutored numbers fell;
First taught her heart with hope of praise to swell,
Nor wounds impressed by sorrow weaken love ;
Which first the gentle mother bids us prove,
“ O could I reach the sweet Horatian strain,
In whose free verse Mæcenas still shall live,
In other worlds and other tongues survive :
And time still urge the never-flagging wing.
By dearer ties our kindred minds agree,
Theodora Cowper's heart was greater than her critical judgment. Still, the closing lines are, as Hayley says, much in Cowper's manner, and the improbability of the piece being his lies not so much in the style as in the fact of there being no evidence in chis letters to Lady Hesketh that he ever thought of Theodora,
or dreamed she thought of him, at this time. Anyhow, it is touching to think of her sending her anonymous gifts through Lady Hesketh to the unforgotten lover of her youth, and fancying she read his anonymous reply when she took up her St. James' Chronicle ! But it is obvious that, so long as she lived, Lady Hesketh, and those whom Lady Hesketh had influenced, would wish to spare her the knowledge that Cowper had even contemplated marriage with another woman.
But to return to the year 1767. A few months after Mr. Unwin
Hesketht think of ght of