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cannot hold the office at this rate: where is the deputation?' I gave him the key of the drawer where it was deposited, and his business requiring his immediate attendance, he took it away with him; and thus ended. all my connection with the Parliament Office."
A new scene now opened upon him. Conviction of sin took place, and the sin just committed was exhibited to him in colours so inconceivably strong, that he despised himself, with a contempt not to be imagined or expressed. A sense of God's wrath, and a deep despair of escaping it, instantly succeeded, and the fear of death now became more prevalent in him than the desire of it had been before.
He next wrote to his brother at Cambridge, informing him of what had taken place, but adding the assurance that all his horrible intentions had been permanently laid aside.
The Rev. John Cowper had for nine years been a member of Benet, or, as it is now termed, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, having been admitted to the University in 1754. In 1759 he obtained the Chancellor's gold medal, in 1762 gained both prizes for Master of Arts, in 1763 was elected Fellow of his college. To use his own words, he had been highly applauded, he had been flattered up to the height of his wishes. His brother said of him: "He placed his chief delight in the acquisition of learning, and made such proficiency in it, that he had but few rivals in that of a classical kind." He was critically skilled in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and a perfect master of French and Italian. Being a man of a most candid and ingenuous spirit, and possessing a remarkably sweet
temper, he was endeared to all who knew him, and in his behaviour to his brother had always manifested an uncommon affection. In "Task," bk. ii. Cowper says:—
66 I had a brother once :
Peace to the memory of a man of worth!
Of manners sweet as virtue always wears
On arriving in London John Cowper found that although his brother had given up all intentions of self-murder, the state of his mind was terrible in the
That there was never so abandoned a sinner as himself, poor Cowper felt convinced. First one chapter of the Bible and then another seemed to condemn him; and not only the Bible, but other books: passages in Tillotson's Sermons, lines in Beaumont and Fletcher; till at last he was strongly tempted to use laudanum, not as a poison, but as an opiate, to compose his spirits. Gloom and anguish were his constant companions. He dined alone, either at the tavern, where he went in the dark, or at the chop-house, where he always took care to hide himself in the darkest corner of the room. If he slept it was only to be disturbed with terrifying dreams. Even the eyes of man he could not bear, but when he remembered that the eyes of God were upon him his anguish was intolerable. And then, to crown all, the impression intruded itself that he had committed the Unpardonable Sin. He believed that a neglect to
improve the mercies of God at Southampton was the sin against the Holy Ghost; and no argument of his brother or of any one else had the slightest weight with him. To quote his terrible conclusion, "Life appeared to me now more eligible than death, only because it was a barrier between me and everlasting burnings."
In the "Greville Memoirs," vol. iii. pp. 134-5, mention is made of a parcel of letters from the Rev. John Newton to Mr. Thornton, which were sent to Southey as material for the Life of Cowper on which he was then engaged. Then follows:-" There is one curious fact revealed in these letters, which accounts for much of Cowper's morbid state of mind and fits of depression, as well as for the circumstance of his running away from his place in the House of Lords. It relates to some defect in his physical conformation; somebody found out his secret, and probably threatened its exposure."
"Damned Below Judas."
Everything that took place now seemed to afford fresh proof to Cowper that he had verily and indeed sinned against the Holy Ghost; and on one occasion he exclaimed to his brother, "Oh, brother, I am damned! Think of eternity, and then think what it is to be damned!" About this time, too, he wrote those sapphics commencing "Hatred and vengeance," lines which are so painful that one hardly likes to quote them, and yet quoted they must be if a true picture is to be drawn of the man William Cowper.
vengeance," he declares in the first stanza, are his "eternal portion."
"Damned below Judas; more abhorred than he was,
In the succeeding stanzas he declares that man disavows, and Deity disowns him, and that his sentence is worse than Abiram's.
“Him the vindictive rod of angry Justice
Sent quick and howling to the centre headlong;
I fed, with judgment, in a fleshly tomb, am
Buried above ground."
Pierced to the heart with the sight of this misery, John endeavoured to comfort his poor brother, though all to no effect; but at length Cowper expressed a wish to see his friend and cousin, the Rev. Martin Madan.
Born in 1726, and trained to the bar, which he quitted in order to take orders, the Rev. Martin Madan was a very popular preacher, being looked upon, in fact, as one of the leaders of the Evangelical party. Tall of stature, he had a robust constitution, a fine open face, and a powerful and very musical voice.
Previous to this Cowper had looked upon him as an enthusiast, but now felt convinced "that if there was any balm in Gilead" Mr. Madan must administer it. Mr. Madan came, and, sitting on Cowper's bedside, began to declare to him the gospel. He spoke of original sin, showed that all men were on a level, insisted on the all-atoning efficacy of the blood of Jesus
and His righteousness for our salvation, and lastly urged the necessity of a lively faith in Jesus Christ. Thereupon some hope dawned in the heart of the sufferer, and the wounded spirit within him, though by no means healed, was less troubled.
Pleased with the result, his brother, though looking by no means with favourable eyes on the Evangelical clergy, urged the invalid to have recourse to Mr. Madan again. My welfare," says Cowper, "was his (John's) only object, and all his prejudices fled before his zeal to procure it. May he receive, for his recompense, all that happiness the gospel, which I then became first acquainted with, is alone able to impart !"
Other friends, too, were extremely kind. Of one of them, Carr, the common friend of himself and Rowley, he many years afterwards said, "I shall never, I trust, be capable of forgetting his indefatigable attention to me during the last year I spent in London."
The next few hours Cowper spent in sleep-a sleep disturbed with horrible visions, and when he awoke it was "with ten times a stronger alienation from God than ever." His ears were then filled with awful voices, a numbness seized upon the extremities of his body, his hands and feet became stiff and cold, a cold sweat stood upon his forehead, and his heart seemed at every pulse to beat its last. By and by he rose from his bed and traversed the apartment, when all of a sudden a strange and horrible darkness fell upon him. The imaginary sensation of a heavy blow alighting on the brain, without touching the skull, was what he felt. He clapped his hand to his forehead, and cried aloud