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sufferings, so that he had no susceptibilities left. Mr. Taylor surely knows little of the human heart to say so. It was the intensity of his anguish that made him silent; it was a "grief that could not speak," but it did not the less " whisper the o'er-fraught heart and bid it break."
Cowper's depressed condition rendered him incapable of taking pleasure in any thing; otherwise he would have been much gratified, independently of its vulgar utility, with the pension which, at the representation of some of his friends in elevated life, particularly Earl Spencer, was settled upon him in 1794, by his Sovereign; the amount of which Mr. Taylor either did not know, or has not thought worth mentioning: indeed the whole of Cowper's pecuniary affairs have to this hour been kept a mysterious secret.
Cowper's pitiable condition before his removal from Weston is thus described. It follows the mention of a letter which he wrote to Hayley, January 5, 1794, on the subject of Homer :
"This was almost the last letter Cowper wrote to Mr. Hayley, and, with a very few exceptions, the last that he ever wrote at all. Shortly after he had forwarded this, he experienced a more severe attack of depression than he had ever before felt, which paralysed all his powers, and continued almost wholly unmitigated, through the remaining period of his life. The situation to which he was now reduced, was deeply affecting; imagination can scarcely picture to itself a scene of wretchedness more truly deplorable. Mrs. Unwin's infirmities had reduced her to a state of second childhood; a deep-seated melancholy, which nothing could remove, preyed upon Cowper's mind, and caused him to shun the sight of all, except the individual who was utterly incapable of rendering him any assistance; his domestic expenses were daily increasing, and as his capabilities of preventing it were now entirely suspended, there was every probability of his being involved in considerable embarrassment. providence of God, however, which had watched over, and preserved him during the whole of his life, and had appeared on his behalf in several instances of peculiar distress, in a manner truly striking and affecting, did not abandon him in his present painful emergency. Lady Hesketh, his amiable cousin, and favourite correspondent, now generously undertook the arduous task of watching over the melancholy poet, and his feeble associate. The painful duties of this important office, which every one who is at all acquainted with the great anxiety of mind required in all cases of mental aberration, will admit to be in no ordinary degree arduous, she discharged with the utmost Christian tenderness and affection. Nor did she discover any disposition to relinquish her charge, though it made considerable inroads upon her health, owing to the confinement and exertion it required, until an opportunity offered of placing these interesting invalids under the care of those who she knew would feel the greatest pleasure in laying themselves out for their comfort." pp. 309, 310.
Such was his situation when Mr. Johnson, his beloved kinsman, his "dearest of Johnnies," took him to Norfolk, and watched over him with affectionate solicitude during the remaining years of his life. Other friends assisted him in this task of mercy; and Hayley expressly mentions it as a striking illustration of the providence of God, that Cowper found throughout life willing attendants suited to the exigencies of his mental depression. Of these Mr. Johnson was now the chief. He read to him; he strove to amuse him; and on one or two occasions his anxious solicitudes were rewarded with a ray of hope-his patient even criticised Homer and penned a few verses; but these were but delusive symptoms, and even while they lasted the deep melancholy remained unchanged. The closing scene at length arrived. We quote the particulars as collected by Mr. Taylor :"It became evident towards the close of 1799, that his bodily strength was rapidly declining, though his mental powers, notwithstanding the unmitigated severity of his depression, remained unimpaired. In January 1800, Mr. Johnson observed in him many symptoms which he thought very unfavourable. This induced him to call in additional medical advice. His complaint was pronounced to be, not as has been generally stated, dropsical, but a breaking up of the constitution. Remedies, however were tried, and he was recommended to take as much gentle exercise as he could bear. To this recommendation he discovered no particular aversion, and Mr. Johnson took him for a ride in a post-chaise, as often as circumstances would permit; it was, however, with considerable difficulty he could be prevailed upon to use such medicines as it was thought necessary to employ.
CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 377.
"About this time his friend Mr. Hayley wrote to him, expressing a wish that he would new-model a passage in his translation of the Iliad, where mention is made of the very ancient sculpture in which Daedalus had represented the Cretan dance for Ariadne. On the 31st January,' says Mr. Hayley, I received from him his improved version of the lines in question, written in a firm and delicate hand. The sight of such writing from my long-silent friend, inspired me with a lively, but too sanguine hope, that I might see him once more restored. Alas! the verses which I surveyed as a delightful omen of future letters from a correspondent so inexpressibly dear to me, proved the last effort of his pen.'
"Cowper's weakness now very rapidly increased, and by the end of February it had become so great as to render him incapable of enduring the fatigue of his usual ride, which was hence discontinued. In a few days he ceased to come down stairs, though he was still able, after breakfasting in bed, to adjourn to another room, and to remain there till the evening. By the end of the ensuing March, he was compelled to forego even this trifling exercise. He was now entirely confined to his bed-room; he was, however, still able to sit up to every meal, except breakfast.
"His friend Mr. Rose, about this time, paid him a visit. Such, however, was the melancholy change which his complicated maladies had produced upon his mind, that he expressed no pleasure at the arrival of one whom he had previously been accustomed to greet with the most cordial reception. Mr. Rose remained with him till the first week in April, witnessing with much sorrow the sufferings of the afflicted poet, and kindly sympathising with his distressed relations and friends. Little as Cowper had appeared to enjoy his company, he evinced symptoms of considerable regret at his departure.
"Both Lady Hesketh, and Mr. Hayley, would have followed the humane example of Mr. Rose, in visiting the dying poet, had they not been prevented by circumstances over which they had no controul. The health of the former had suffered considerably by her long confinement with Cowper, at the commencement of his last attack, and the latter was detained by the impending death of a darling child.
"Mr. Johnson informs us, in his sketch of the poet's life, that on the 19th April the weakness of this truly pitiable sufferer had so much increased that his kinsman apprehended his death to be near. Adverting, therefore, to the affliction, as well of body as of mind, which his beloved inmate was then enduring, he ventured to speak of his approaching dissolution as the signal of his deliverance from both these miseries. After a pause of a few moments, which was less interrupted by the objections of his desponding relative than he had dared to hope, he proceeded to an observation more consolatory still; namely, that in the world to which he was hastening, a merciful Redeemer, who had prepared unspeakable happiness for all his children, and therefore for him-To the first part of this sentence he had listened with composure; but the concluding words were no sooner uttered than he passionately expressed entreaties that his companion would desist from any further observations of a similar kind, clearly proving that though he was on the eve of being invested with angelic light, the darkness of delusion still veiled his spirit.'
"On the following day, which was Sunday, he revived a little. Mr. Johnson, on repairing to his room, after he had discharged his clerical duties, found him in bed and asleep. He did not, however, leave the room, but remained watching him, expecting he might, on awaking, require his assistance. Whilst engaged in this melancholy office, and endeavouring to reconcile his mind to the loss of so dear a friend, by considering the gain which that friend would experience, his reflections were suddenly interrupted by the singularly varied tone in which Cowper then began to breathe. Imagining it to be the sound of his immediate summons, after listening to it for several minutes, he arose from the foot of the bed on which he was sitting, to take a nearer, and, as he supposed, a last view of his departing relative, commending his soul to that gracious Saviour whom, in the fulness of mental health, he had delighted to honour. As he put aside the curtains, Cowper opened his eyes, but closed them again without speaking, and breathed as usual. On Monday he was much worse, though, towards the close of the day, he revived sufficiently to take a little refreshment. The two following days he evidently continued to sink rapidly. He revived a little on Thursday, but, in the course of the night, he appeared exceedingly exhausted; some refreshment was presented to him by Miss Perowne, but, owing to a persuasion that nothing could afford him relief, though without any apparent impression that the hand of death was already upon him, he mildly rejected the cordial with these words, the last he was heard to utter: What can it signify?'
"Early on Friday morning, the 25th, a decided alteration for the worse was perceived to have taken place. A deadly change appeared in his countenance. In this insensible state he remained till a few minutes before five in the afternoon, when he gently, and without the slightest apparent pain, ceased to breathe, and his happy spirit escaped from his body, in which, amidst the thickest gloom of darkness, it had so long been imprisoned, and took its flight to the regions of perfect purity and bliss. In a manner so mild and gentle did death make its approach, that though his kinsman,
his medical attendant, and three others were standing at the foot of the bed, with their eyes fixed upon his dying countenance, the precise moment of his departure was unobserved by any.
"From this mournful period,' writes Mr. Johnson, till the features of his deceased friend were closed from his view, the expression which the kinsman of Cowper observed in them, and which he was affectionately delighted to suppose an index of the last thoughts and enjoyments of his soul in its gradual escape from the depths of despondence, was that of calmness and composure, mingled, as it were, with holy surprise.'
"He was buried in that part of Dereham church called St. Edmund's Chapel, on Saturday, the 2d May, 1800; and his funeral was attended by several of his relatives. In a literary point of view, his long and painful affliction had ever been regarded as a national calamity; a deep and almost universal sympathy was felt in his behalf; and by all men of learning and of piety his death was looked upon as an event of no common importance.
"As he died without a will, his amiable and beloved relation, Lady Hesketh, kindly undertook to become his administratrix. She raised a tablet monument to
his memory with the following inscription :
"In Memory of William Cowper, Esq., born in Hertfordshire, 1731;
buried in this Church 1800.
"Ye who with warmth the public triumph feel
Of talents, dignified by sacred zeal,
Here, to devotion's bard, devoutly just,
Pay your fond tribute, due to Cowper's dust!
England, exulting in his spotless fame,
Ranks with her dearest sons his favourite name;
Sense, fancy, wit, suffice not all to raise
So clear a title to affection's praise :
His highest honours to the heart belong
His virtues formed the magic of his song." pp. 326-331.
We have not one word to add.
Every line of the whole narrative of this remarkable man is fraught with matter for moralizing; but we pity the reader who needs to be told what to feel or think upon it.
REVIEW OF PUBLICATIONS ON CHURCH REFORM.
We have in our possession a mass of recent publications upon Church Reform, or what the writers consider to be so. To review them all in detail is impracticable, and if attempted would only lead us over the ground which we have often gone over before. It may, however, not be uninteresting to our readers to know, in few words, what are the plans and projects of some thirty or forty of the writers who have communicated their sentiments to the public; and we shall therefore proceed, in the present and following Numbers, to give an outline of the schemes proposed in such publications as happen to have fallen in our way. Some are valuable ; some are far otherwise; but we could not discuss their respective merits in less than a large volume, and we shall therefore confine ourselves to the office of faithful narrators. As there is no particular order or classification in the matter, we take the pamphlets as they happen to lie before us, only premising that in stating their contents we neither intend to express approbation or otherwise, except as specifically mentioned.
I. "Hints for Church Reform, by a Country Gentleman."
The Country Gentleman wishes for a few alterations in the Church Service. He would "extend her borders so as to embrace a greater number of denominations of Christians;" he would retain but one Creed, or at most two; he would institute a Home Mission in large parishes, and employ
Scripture readers; he would alter the Burial Service, as in the present state of discipline it is often inapplicable, "being intended to be used over those only who die in the Lord;" he would re-adjust and partly equalize the epis copal revenues, but not eject Bishops from the House of Lords; he proposes that when a vacancy occurs on the episcopal bench, the clergy should · nominate three of their number to the King, to be raised to the dignity; he urges compulsory commutation of tithes for land or corn-rent; he would enforce residence, accompanied by a plan for employing curates; he would appropriate the bulk of cathedral property to augment small livings; he would do away with Church-rates and Easter-offerings, and "lay them upon the rich in some other form ;" and, lastly, make churchwardens do their duty.
II. "Reasons against a Re-distribution of Church Property."
The writer thinks that great advantages arise from there being large prizes in the clerical lottery; and he considers it necessary to oppose the first innovations or encroachments on church property, lest they should grow to a general confiscation. The numerous pieces of wealthy preferment" in cathedrals-many of them sinecures-he considers of great value, “as a means for rewarding pious and deserving clergymen; as preserving a connexion between different ranks; and as calculated to inspire a feeling of content among those who, alike destitute of family or fortune, feel that themselves or their sons may rise to an equality, or even superiority, with the highest and noblest of the land." These rich prizes, also, he thinks, keep up an assortment of clergymen for the "rich and great," who would not edify under a more simple system.
III. "Outline of an efficient Plan of Church Reform; by One of the Priesthood."
This is a pamphlet full of business, and not a little sweeping in its reforms. The writer approves in general of Lord Henley's plans. He confines himself to the temporalities of the church, the faulty administration of which deteriorates the character of the clergy. He wishes immediate commutation of tithes. He says that patronage is badly used; that it is rarely distributed for the good of the souls of the people, but rather from motives of interest or affection; that the sale of advowsons is, in Latimer's words, "unheard-of covetousness," and ought to be forbidden; that all private patronage ought to be taken away, allowing patrons compensation, and investing the whole in the hands of the bishops, assisted by a council, to distribute it fairly, and according to fixed rules, so that all the clergy should have a reasonable prospect of arriving at a benefice according to their conduct and qualifications; that pluralities should be abolished; that stipend should be regulated by work; that the episcopal revenues should be brought into a common fund, and adjusted nearer to an equality; that ca thedral bodies should be abridged, and the new corporations have adequate duties assigned them, especially enforcing church discipline; that in every diocese there should be a clerical corporation, to manage the revenues of all the parishes thrown into a common fund, and divided among all the incumbents in proportion to their duties, or else that the richer benefices should be taxed to assist the poorer, as proposed by Lord Henley, Dr. Burton, and others; that the bishops should be elected by their clergy; that they should have a council for clerical discipline; that curates should be well paid; and that church-rates should be got rid of, though of this the author speaks doubtingly, preferring rather that they should remain, each parishioner having the power to say to what particular sect or persuasion he chooses his share of the parish tax to be appropriated. The author thinks this would both keep up the public forms of religion, and also
satisfy each rate-payer: but he does not seem to have considered that the whole body of "Dissenters upon principle" object to all legislative or compulsory payments whatever; so that he would gain nothing (besides all the other incongruities of the scheme) by making every parishioner his own church legislator.
IV. "Address on Church Reform; by J. Douglas, Esq."
Mr. Douglas has two other addresses in this pamphlet-the one on Slavery, and the other on Sabbath Protection-both very forcible and to the purpose; but our present subject is only his third address. He includes both England and Scotland, and he proposes a commission of inquiry to examine into the whole of the ecclesiastical revenues of the island, with a view to a revision of its appropriation, and also collaterally as a registry to prevent spoliation.
V." On Church Establishments; by T. M'Crie, D.D."
This pamphlet is so far on church reform, that it deprecates the subversion of national churches, which many persons are now urging as the only remedy for the abuses of public ecclesiastical establishments. This pamphlet is a reprint of a portion of a larger work of the venerable author on church establishments, and contains a powerful reply to those who urge that the interference of the civil magistrate for the promotion of the worship of God and the religious instruction of the people is unscriptural.
VI. "A Plan for procuring Residence without interfering with vested Interests; by the Son of a Lawyer."
The writer proposes raising a fund for building parsonage-houses by selling bishops' leases in perpetuity at six years' purchase, according to Lord Althorp's Irish-church plan. He recommends the Crown to augment its poor livings by selling the advowsons of some of its richer patronage; colleges and cathedrals to augment their poor livings; and private patrons of good livings to be allowed to sell a portion of the profits to augment poorer ones, to which he would add Queen Anne's Bounty.
VII. "An Essay towards a Revision of the Book of Common Prayer, Part I."
The author gives us a liturgy revised and abridged from the Book of Common Prayer. With many of the alterations, substitutions, changes of lessons, &c., we have no fault to find, except that they are unnecessary. Some may be improvements; but, as a whole, we like our old Liturgy far better than this new formulary, and we see no advantage in changing without an imperative urgency. We quote, as a specimen of the author's revision, his substitute for the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds, and also his abridged Litany:
"I believe in God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
"And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, by whom all things were made: Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven; And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven, and sitteth
at the right hand of the Father; From thence he shall come again with glory at the end of the world to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
"And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets :
"And I believe in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen."