the Rev. John Newton, was thus delightfully engaged, a second visitation of his tremendous malady brought him down from the mount of vision into the valley of humiliation, there to be haunted with unreal fears and hideous imaginings, which never thenceforward entirely left him. On emerging after a long eclipse, from this "blackness of darkness," though the true light never shone again upon him, in this world, "to the perfect day," he was encouraged to attempt poetical composition on a larger scale than heretofore, and with a direct view to publication. It was a happy suggestion of his friends; and though he undertook it with no sanguine ideas of success, yet that secret hope, which, almost unconsciously, exists in the noblest and humblest of gifted minds, feeling within them powers, as yet unproved, to influence other minds-that hope cheered him in his solitary labours, to which the fixed object of writing what was to be read in print, not only held, but helped and drew him forward till the contemplated work was done. The volume was published in course, but, with all its originality of style, attracted very little notice. Nor was this surprising; for verse of any kind was scarcely a marketable commodity in those days, neither were his subjects or his sentiments calculated to dazzle or please on the sudden.

About this time, Cowper became acquainted with Lady Austen-for his fame, the most auspicious event of his life; since, while the brief but brilliant connection lasted, she was "a spirit of health" to the man, a good genius to the bard, and made the

world her debtor so long as his best strains shall be remembered. Shy as he was, and most shy to the most gay, he was so insensibly and perfectly captivated by her lively company, that, while her presence was a charm to his troubled mind, her voice was an oracle to his muse. The fascination was mutual; but, while both perhaps thought that they were cultivating the purest friendship under heaven—the affection of a brother and a sister-Love, if we may personify it here, taking the disguise of a brother to the one, and that of a sister to the other, before the innocent but fatal imposture was discovered, had slain the peace of each, and separation, immediate, decisive separation, became necessary. There was no other alternative, unless Cowper had made a sacrifice, which he never could have made without rendering her with whom he parted, and her to whom he clave, supremely miserable, by plunging himself into irremediable despair; for it is probable that inveterate insanity would have been the issue to him, had the affection, which he imagined he bore to Lady Austen as a sister, triumphed, in its real form, over that which he bore to Mrs. Unwin, in whatever character he loved her.

They parted; but to Lady Austen, Cowper owed the most brilliant lucid interval of his life in that shade, which the day-spring from on high never visited with benigner illumination. To her also the gratitude of ages will be gladly conceded, for having inspired his finest productions. Yet their friendship did not live to see its own immortal offspring born. from the press in 1785. They had met for the last

time on earth before the "Task" appeared; and had not the plaudits of the public roused the unhappy poet, and charmed him too, with the voice of praise, to which none can be entirely deaf, in whom "the last infirmity of noble minds" is not extinct—it is difficult to suppose, that his faculties would have survived the shock of a bereavement, by which all that was most generous and tender in his nature, was wrought to the last agony of suffering.

By the success of "The Task," and the excitement of the new world in which he began to live and breathe-though it was but the old world, in the concerns of which he now took an interest, unfelt before, since he resolutely left it,-Cowper was emboldened to undertake an incomparably greater achievement-the translation of the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer into blank verse. This was completed, in its first form, in the course of six years, and published in two volumes, quarto; but to the end of his life, and even under the last long and impenetrable gloom that enwrapt his spirit, till it escaped into the brightness of the invisible world, his principal occupation was upon the works of the Grecian bard, which he revised, renewed, touched, and re-touched, in his endlessly elaborated version, even when he could attach himself to no other employment, and had lost the sense of every joy on earth, or hope in heaven. It has often been regretted, that, instead of this labour in vain, as it seems to many, he had not spent an equal portion of time and talent on original composition. The regret is at least as much bestowed in vain as was that labour; for there is no well

founded reason to suppose, from the momentary jeopardy in which he lived, of being plunged into sudden, irretrievable despondence, that, if he had been otherwise occupied, he could have maintained a comparable measure of health and cheerfulness; or that he would have produced any work of equally captivating character, with that which had been wrought out of his heart and fancy, in the golden days of Lady Austen's influence. A second Task, under whatever title, like all second parts, would have been deemed a falling off from the first, and it is surely better to feel that this consummate piece is too short, than even that it is long enough. Yet, long enough it is, from the very cause why any work of real genius must be so, which fills, engages, and transports the readers to the end, leaving behind no sense of defect in itself, but only an eager desire for more of the same kind—a desire which, if met, instead of being satisfied, would be satiated.

To Cowper's translation of Homer, we are beholden not only for the pleasure which a perusal will afford to reasonable and patient readers,-such, indeed, it will abundantly gratify,—but we may attribute to its happy possession of his mind, all the beautiful and inimitable letters which appear in his correspondence, during the progress of that work. The toil of daily turning over the thoughts of the greatest of poets, in every form of English that his ingenuity could devise, occupied, for many years, that very portion of his time which, with a person of no profession, and having no stated duties to perform, lies heaviest upon the spirit. The salutary exercise

of his morning studies, made him relish with keener zest the relaxation of his social hours, or those welcome opportunities of epistolary converse with the absent, in which it is evident that much of the little happiness allowed to him lay: he is never more at home, consequently never more amiable, sprightly, entertaining, and even poetical, than in his correspondence, when he pours out all the treasures of his mind, and the affections of his heart, upon the paper which is to be the speaking representative of himself, to those whom he loves.

It is no part of this Essay to criticise Cowper's Homer, or to bring it into competition either with the original, or the antecedent versions of Chapman, Ogilvie, Hobbes, or Pope. Whatever may be the comparative defects of Cowper's translation, the work itself is one which no ordinary poetical power could have accomplished. There are many passages in it, which leave Pope's brilliant paraphrases of the corresponding lines as far behind them, as our Author's may be deemed below the original. But the general comparison between the two English Homers of the last century is always made exceedingly to the disadvantage of the latter; not altogether, nor even in any considerable degree, from its positive inferiority, but from early prepossession in favour of the former. The fact is, that translations of classic authors, except on their first appearance, are very little read, except by youth, and by these, often before they are sufficiently familiar with the originals to enjoy their surpassing excellence. With such readers, the first version of a favourite poet, if it

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