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THERE are few writers, and fewer poets whose works have exercised so salutary an effect upon the mind of man, as those of Cowper. In him, Religion found what had been long confessed a desideratum“a sober guide upon poetic ground.” To the young, especially, every thing relating to so excellent and truly great a genius cannot be wanting in interest; and we accordingly present them with a view of St. Edmund's Chapel in the church of East Dereham, Norfolk, which contains his grave.
His monument, seen in the distance, was designed by Flaxman; and, though exceedingly simple in its details, is appropriate and expressive. Over the plain marble slab containing the inscription, stands a representation of the holy bible, against which a copy of his master poem, “ The Task,” is seen reclining. A palm-branch, bruised but not broken, droops gracefully above these books, and admirably figures the peaceful and pensive muse of " Devotion's bard."
VOL. v. 4th SERIES.
Cowper removed to Norfolk from Weston, in 1795, where he resided at North Tuddenham, Mundsley, Dunham Lodge, and Dereham ; at which latter place he died on the 25th April, 1800, and was buried on the 3rd May following. His epitaph, written by his friend Hayley, was to this effect:
BORN IN HERTFORDSHIRE, 1731,
BURIED IN THIS CHURCH, 1800.
THE VISIT. “ Shew out of a good conversation, your works, with meekness of wisdom."
“What a pretty garden ?" exclaimed Janet Macpherson to her sister Mary, as they entered the carriage-sweep in front of Dr. Wilmot's residence; “I think I should like the visit if poor mamma were but better."
eWe cannot tell what the visit will be,” replied Mary; "and dear mamma's state, I feel sure, is very uncertain. But we must hope for the best; and try not to make cousins uncomfortable by our dulness. I hope we may be often alone together."
By this time they had reached the portico, into which two or three little folks came eagerly running : and before the servant could open the chaise-door, Uncle Wilmot himself stood ready to hand them out.
• Well, dear children !” he said, “ I am glad to see you. And how did you leave mamma ?”
“O very, very ill,” answered Mary: and in spite of the resolu
tion she had just formed, the warm tears ran down her face, as she returned her uncle's affectionate kiss. Poor Janet could ill command herself, when Mary wept. In a tone of much excitement she added, “I don't believe, uncle, that mamma will die; but James has a letter from Dr. Arnold, that will tell you every thing."
It is time to acquaint the reader with the circumstances that brought these little girls to Henley Lodge. They were the children of Colonel Macpherson; one twelve, the other ten years old. Their father, after having been absent with his regiment for several years, returned in 1820 to his native country. Once more united to his beloved wife, and his then only son, he engaged a beautiful little cottage in the west of England, on the banks of the Wye. God blessed, and made them blessings; and for many happy years they lived in the enjoyment of domestic peace, the centre of a pleasant social circle, the instructors and comforters of the neighbouring poor. Five lovely children were added to their household; while their eldest son, who had attained the age of nineteen, with character and talents of first-rate promise, was become an undergraduate at the University of Oxford. Such were the pleasant places,” in which the lines had fallen to this favoured family; but uncertainty and instability are the characteristics of earthly enjoyments,
“ When most secure, the coming hour,
If God see fit, may blast them all." Little did they expect the dark, dark day which followed that bright morning when, with his own animated smile, he bade them all good-bye, and charged himself with their various messages to Theodore, with whom at Oxford he intended to pass two pleasant days. Alas! 'ere evening closed, the shattered remains of bis manly, vigorous form were brought back to that house, which had never since been known but as the house of mourning. One of those fearful accidents which occasionally take place on our railroads, cut short his valued life, leaving to his family one only, though precious consolation, that this awfully sudden change was to him one of unspeakable blessedness.
Yet full and bitter was the cup of sorrow, that remained to his bereaved widow. She endeavoured to dwell upon his happiness, and to encourage herself in the Lord her God, till her faded form and pallid cheek seemed continually to say,—“I open not my mouth because Thou didst it!" For the sake of her children, Mrs. Macpherson however strove to bear up, beyond her bodily or mental strength, and for twelve months she struggled on. The supports of religion are great, and she found them so, but they are not miraculous. As the return of the fatal day drew near, her mind dwelt on every affecting circumstance, and it found her at last with a fever preying on her brain, which threatened to end at once her sorrows and her life. Theodore, who since his father's death had been indeed a treasure, hastened to her side, while the five children were most willingly received by various friends. It was on this mournful occasion that Mary and Janet, the two elder ones, arrived, as has been already stated, at Henley.
The sorrows of childhood, however, have many intervals of forgetfulness. Mary and Janet were kindly welcomed by their cousins, who constituted a large lively family, from the ages of eighteen to two. Being a lovely evening in the beginning of June, tea was spread out on the lawn; and when they returned to the drawing room, a large collection of entertaining prints afforded them amusement. Thus Janet soon became more happy than she could have thought possible, and Mary tried to appear happier than she really was. In the mean time a conversation was proceeding at the
upper end of the room, which was only partially heard by the children, and that little, but partially understood.
“Well, Elizabeth,” said Dr. Wilmot to his wife, glancing his eye towards the young circle, “there is nothing exceptionable either in appearance or manner, and far less of gloom than might have been expected. Indeed, when we think what your brother was, it seems to follow of course that his children must be pleasing.”
“ O, as a young man, Charles was the most fascinating I ever knew-(the present company always excepted)”—added Mrs. Wilmot, turning an arch smile on her husband; “ but his introduction to Miss Vernon's family, and subsequent union with her, completely changed him. I have heard you say women should be the subordinate sex, and yet you told me, after your last visit, their’s was a well-ordered family. Now I am sure the influence under which they had brought poor Charles was an all-controlling one; if he were the head, she was the heart of the family, with whose beating every thing kept time."