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about to return, and will leave me nothing but sighs and tears."
That Cowper's attachment to this young lady had gone to very great length is unlikely, but the fact that he should have fallen in love at all a second time proves that he had quite got over his disappointment in respect to Theodora; and the probability is that in the second instance as well as the first he found relief from his troubles in the pleasures of literature.
It may be noted, however, that from this time, with one single exception, Cowper never touched upon the subject of Love, that exception being lines 219-278 in the poem called “ called "Retirement," and, as might be expected, he writes not without bitterness. In abstaining from allusion to Love, Cowper stands almost alone among poets.
It may be noted that the Latin letter referred to is by no means a model of composition. A critic in the Gentleman's Magazine, June, 1836, observes: "We should have expected better Latinity from the pupil of Vincent Bourne." Cowper, however, though an excellent Greek scholar, never distinguished himself in Latin. (See $55.)
16. Literary and other Amusements.
As we have seen, Cowper often rambled, to use his own words, "from the thorny road of his austere patroness Jurisprudence into the primrose paths of literature and poetry." His contributions to the Connoisseur and the St. James's Magazine, and his Love:
Poems, we have already noticed. Among his other productions were "An Ode on reading Richardson's "History of Sir Charles Grandison,'" which was published in 1753 (with Richardson Cowper was personally acquainted); two two satires from Horace, printed in Duncombe's Horace in 1757, and lines "Addressed to Miss Macarteny on reading her Prayer for Indifference," which appeared in the "Annual Register" for 1762. The Duncombes, father and son, were of Hertfordshire; the elder was an intimate friend of Cowper's father, and the younger, about the same age as Cowper's brother John, was connected with Benet College, Cambridge. As one of his early associates told Hayley, Cowper at this time frequently amused himself in translation from ancient and modern poets, and devoted his composition to the service of any friend who requested it. For his brother John, who was engaged on a translation of that poem, he did into English a couple of Cantos of Voltaire's "Henriade."
We also learn that between Cowper and his brother was conducted a rhyming correspondence, which for some time was all in Cowper's possession; but, with the exception of a few lines, it all perished " in the wreck of a thousand other things" when he left the Temple. (Letter to Hesketh, August 9, 1788.)
Perhaps during the whole of the period at the Temple there was only one pursuit in which he was really diligent, and that was the study of the classics, a study that throughout the whole of his life gave him as much pleasure as any other thing. He had read through the Iliad and Odyssey at Westminster with Sutton,
afterwards Sir Richard, and went through them again in the Temple with a friend-" a slothful and forgetful fellow," but withal "a person of fine classic taste"named Alston, comparing Pope's translation throughout with the original. They were not long in discovering "that there is hardly the thing in the world of which Pope was so entirely destitute as a taste for Homer;" nevertheless they persevered in the comparison, though disgusted at finding, "when they looked for the simplicity and majesty of Homer in his English representation, puerile conceits instead, extravagant metaphors, and the tinsel of modern embellishment in every possible position." So disgusted, indeed, were they with it that they were half disposed to treat it as they had lately done another book that had displeased them "The Life and Opinions of Bertram Montfitchet, Esq.”—and pitch it on the fire.
It was the recollection of these studies that caused Cowper in after years to commence a translation of Homer himself; and in 1788, reminding Rowley, a friend of Alston as well as of himself, of these old times, he says, "We are strange creatures, my little friend; everything that we do is really important, though half that we do seems to be push-pin: consequences follow that were never dreamt of." In these days, too, Cowper likewise made himself intimately acquainted with Shakspere, Beaumont and Fletcher, Kit Marlow, Swift, Dryden, Mat Prior, and other head-and-shoulder men of our literature; but Homer and Milton always had the first place in his affections.
Cowper, however, had numerous ways of spending his time besides writing poetry and studying the belles
lettres. Like other gilded youth of those days, he was often to be seen among the pleasure-loving throngs that visited Vauxhall and its rival Marylebone Gardens. To the last he thus alludes in the aforequoted Latin epistle: "A few days ago I set off for Marylebone Gardens (ad Hortos Bone Maria), the delights of which place it is impossible to do justice to. Theatrical plays have been organized, which they perform there in the Italian fashion, only in our language. The portions styled recitatives are absurd beyond measure, but the songs are most sweet. There is this one thing, however, to be feared, namely, that sitting in the open air you may catch a cold if not a fever." His excursions into the country were not infrequent, some of his poems, as we have seen, being dated Catfield and Drayton, and he sometimes also found himself at Taplow and Hertford. The rage for frequenting seaside spots, too, had now developed itself, and instead of flocking to Bristol, Bath, and Tunbridge Wells, people were beginning to take to Margate and Brighton, or, as it was then called, Brighthelmston, Cowper, of course, as he belonged to the beau monde, following the popular custom, though subsequently, in his poem called "Retirement," he took upon himself to satirise it :
"But now alike, gay widow, virgin, wife,
In coaches, chaises, caravans, and hoys,
To his visits to Brighton and neighbourhood, one of which took place in September, 1762, Cowper refers
in a letter to Bull ("Memoirs of Bull," p. 126). “I am acquainted," he says, "with Rottingdean and all its. charms the downs, the cliff, and the agreeable opportunities of sauntering that the seaside affords." He found Brighton "a scene of idleness and luxury, music, dancing, cards, walking, riding, bathing, eating, drinking, coffee, tea, scandal, dressing, yawning, sleeping"-at least, this was his recollection of it twenty years after.
It may seem strange to picture Cowper as a sportsman, yet at this period of his life he certainly had noaversion to occasionally playing that role; though, during the time he was in love, if at no other, he made but a poor hand at the business. In "The Symptoms of Love" he says:
"Let her guess what I muse on, when, rambling alone,
His chambers in the Temple looked "into Pump Court, in which there are lime trees, and where the sound of water, though passing only into pails and pitchers, is rather agreeable" (Letter, June 20, 1789); and we learn that he used every year to purchase myrtles for them in Covent Garden; on the familiar objects of the neighbourhood he afterwards drew for his poetry, as when, in "Table Talk," he compared the creamy smoothness common with the poetasters of the time to that sight of old London, the figures at St.. Dunstan's :