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he was by this time; although the love-ditties addressed to his ‘ Delia' (of which the first that remains is dated 1752) afford but slight presage of the powers afterwards developed in him. He frequently took Thurlow with him to his uncle's house; and the story of those days may be best summed up in his own words to Lady Hesketh, 'I did actually live three years with Mr. Chapman, that is to say, I slept three years at his house; but I lived, that is to say, I spent my days, in Southampton Row, as you very well remember. There was I, and the future Lord Chancellor, constantly employed, from morning to night, in giggling and making giggle, instead of studying the Law. Ofie, cousin ! how could you do so?' It was, however, not at this house, but on meeting Thurlow in Bloomsbury Square, in the year 1762, that Cowper said to him, “Thurlow, I am nobody, and shall always be nobody; and you will be Lord Chancellor. You shall provide for me when you are.' 'I surely will,' replied Thurlow, with a smile. ‘These ladies,' pursued Cowper, ‘are witnesses.' 'Let them be so,' was Thurlow's answer, 'for I will certainly do it.' This prediction was fulfilled in 1778; the promise, never.
In 1752, having attained his majority, Cowper quitted Mr. Chapman's office, and hired chambers in the Middle Temple; and on the 14th of June, 1754, he was called to the Bar. It seems to have been about this time that he first came under the power of that tendency to depression of spirits, to which other members of his family had been liable, but which assumed in his case so fearful a form. In an Epistle to Lloyd, written in 1754, we find him speaking of 'a fierce banditti’ of gloomy thoughts,'
"That with a black infernal train,
My little garrison of sense.' * I was struck,' he writes, 'not long after my settlement in the Temple, with such a dejection of spirits, as none but they who have felt the same can have the least conception of. Day and night I was upon the rack, lying down in horror, and rising up in despair.'
The origin of this distressing malady has been sought in the grief felt by a child of six years for the death of his mother; and again, in the ill usage which he suffered at his first school. But we have seen that this did not prevent his being thoroughly happy during his seven years at Westminster.
Some of his biographers detect in the schoolboy premonitory symptons of the malady in the man, in the fact (related by himself) that at one time, 'surveying his activity and strength, and noticing the evenness of his pulse, he began to entertain a notion that perhaps he might never die;' while 'soon after, he had frequent intimations of a consumptive habit, which perfectly convinced him that he was mortal. All boys of a highly imaginative mind, such as Cowper's was from his earliest years, and who, like him, are driven into habits of communing with self through a diffident and retiring nature, are apt to entertain fancies of this sort. The Poet himself assures us that a tendency to lowness of spirits was observable in his family; and there can be little doubt that in himself it was constitutional. His was a nature that ever craved for sympathy and affection; and it is probable that the sense of isolation which falls as a dead weight upon a youth of this disposition, on 'becoming in a manner completely master of himself, and beginning life on his own account in lonely chambers, fostered a melancholy which was already his by inheritance. Had he taken any real interest in his profession, and applied himself conscientiously to the mastery of its details, this morbid development might perhaps have been averted, or at least postponed. Cowper's intellect was indeed too vigorous to admit of utter inaction; but it was at this time exercised not on the mysteries of law, but on classical literature; of which he wrote to Mr. Newton in 1781: 'I valued a man according to his proficiency and taste in it; and had the meanest opinion of all other accomplishments unaccompanied by that.'
It has been imagined that the frustration of Cowper's hopes of marrying his cousin Theodora was the occasion of this seizure. The truth ms to be that this was the result, rather than the cause of his illness. Mr. Ashley Cowper, on observing the growing attachment between the cousins, had offered his objections; first, on the score of his nephew's lack of means; and next, on account of the consanguinity between the two. His own experience had convinced him of the family taint; and he had probably viewed with alarm indications of its existence in Cowper, which might have eluded an observation less sharpened by such previous knowledge, and by parental solicitude for his daughter's future happiness. He firmly refused his assent to the union; and on removing from Southampton Row to Palace Yard, he closed his doors to his nephew. This decision was accepted on both sides as final. The last of Cowper's addresses to “Delia' is dated in 1755; and his poem on ‘Disappointment,' in which he takes his farewell of her, probably belongs to that year, or to 1756. They never met afterwards; nor is there any evidence that Cowper's nature had been so deeply moved by his passion, as to be injuriously affected by this sudden termination of his courtship. It may however be remarked, that he stands almost alone amongst poets in making no allusion to the passion of love. Some years after this separation, he wrote to Lady Hesketh: • I still look back to the memory of your sister, and regret her: but, how strange it is, if we were to meet now, we should not know each other!' On his becoming dependent on his family, an anonymous friend, described as “a person who loved him tenderly,' wrote to say that whatever reduction of his income might happen, should be supplied to him.' Yet his heart did not suggest to him the writer's name, though surely the form of the expression might have created a suspicion of a feminine origin. From time to time presents reached him from the same anonymous hand; sometimes in money, sometimes in the form of elegant toys such as bachelors love. Now it was a desk; and now a snuff-box, bearing on its lid a representation of “The Peasant's Nest,' with three leverets sporting in front of it. Strange, that it should not have occurred to the mind of a poet, that the anonymous donor might possibly have been found to be-not a man, but a woman! Far otherwise was it with Theodora. She had laid up her cousin in the recesses of her heart, and could find no room there for another.
• Fixed in her choice, and faithful—but in vain,' she died unmarried in 1825; and not till then were the early effusions of Cowper's love to her, which she had hoarded amongst her treasures, given to the world.
From this, his first attack of melancholy in the Temple, Cowper was restored by a visit to Southampton. He walked out one day with some friends to Freemantle, a place about a mile distant; the morning being calm and clear, and the sun pouring his golden sheen over the sea and the glades of the New Forest. 'Here it was,' he relates, that on a sudden, as if another sun had been kindled that instant in the heavens, on purpose to dispel sorrow and vexation of spirit, I felt the weight of all my misery taken off; my heart became light and joyful in a moment; I could have wept with transport had I been alone.' So keenly did his poetical sensibilities respond to the magic touch of Nature.
The year 1756 was marked by the death of Dr. John Cowper, which took place on the 3rd of August. He had married a second wife, and there had never been much intercourse between him and his son. On this occasion the Poet paid his last visit to his native place. He then sighed a long adieu to fields and woods;' for little as he had been at home, 'there was neither tree, nor gate, nor stile in all the country, to which he did not feel a relation; and the house he preferred to a palace.'
In 1759 Cowper removed from the Middle to the Inner Temple. On his return to London after his sojourn at Southampton, being under the persuasion that he was indebted for his recovery mainly to change of scene, he had betaken himself to 'a continued circle of diversions. These were principally of a literary character. Cowper had inherited the poetical talent. His father, his uncle Ashley, his aunt Mrs. Madan, and his brother John, were all writers of verses. So was his ancestor Sir William Cowper, the first Baronet of the family, whose verses composed for the monument erected by himself to his spiritual father,' the Judicious Hooker, in 1634, are printed by Izaak Walton in his life of that Divine. Cowper tells us that he was himself “a dabbler in rhymes' at the age of fourteen, when he wrote a translation of an elegy of Tibullus, which has not come down to us. The earliest of his poems that we possess was composed in his seventeenth year, being Verses written at Bath on finding the heel of a shoe in 1748,’in imitation of Phillips' “Splendid Shilling’; and a version of the 137th Psalm is also assigned to his Westminster days. Whilst at the Temple, Cowper was a member of the Nonsense Club.' This was composed of seven Westminster men, who dined together every Thursday, and amused themselves with literary bagatelles. Here he renewed his connexion with his old schoolfellows Churchill, Colman, Lloyd, and Bonnell Thornton; and here he formed a life-long friendship with Joseph Hill, that
'honest man, close buttoned to the chin, Broadcloth without, and a warm heart within.' With Colman and Thornton, Cowper now entered into literary engagements. Whilst yet at Christ Church, they had started 'The Connoisseur,' a weekly periodical: and to the second volume of this, published in 1756, Cowper contributed a few papers, such as “The Character of the Delicate Billy Suckling' (No. 111); 'A Letter from Christopher Ironsides, an old Bachelor, complaining of indignities from the Ladies' (No. 115); ‘Of Keeping a Secret' (No. 119); “An Account of the present state of Country Churches, their Clergy, and Congregations' (No. 134); and one on a subject which he afterwards treated poetically, 'Conversation' (No. 138). He also sent some articles to the ‘St. James' Chronicle,' a newspaper conducted in part by the same two friends. He translated four out of eight books of Voltaire's Henriade for his brother John; and the joint production appeared in a magazine in 1759. He assisted the Duncombes in their translations of Horace; and (as he informed Mr. Newton in 1781) while at the Temple, he produced several halfpenny ballads, two or three of which had the honour to be popular.'
From this kind of occupation, however, Cowper derived more pleasure than profit. He had come into a very small sum of money at his father's death; and that little was daily becoming less. He held no briefs; and up to this time his