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still fail her, so that she can neither read nor work; both mortifying circumstances to her, who is never willingly idle. On the eighteenth I purpose to dine with the General, and to rest that night at Kingston, but the pleasure I shall have in the interview will hardly be greater than the pain I shall feel at the end of it, for we shall part, probably, to meet no more. Johnny, I know, has told you that Mr. Hurdis is here. Distressed by the loss of his sister, he has renounced the place where she died for ever, and is about to enter on a new course of life at Oxford. You would admire him much. He is gentle in his manners, and delicate in his person, resembling our poor friend Unwin, both in face and figure, more than any one I have seen. But he has not, at least he has not at present, his vivacity. I have corresponded since I came here with Mrs. Courtenay, and had yesterday a very kind letter from her. Adieu, my dear; may God bless you. Write to me as soon as you can after the twentieth. I shall then be at Weston, and indulging myself in the hope that I shall ere long see you there also. W. C.
Hayley, speaking of the manner in which they employed their time at Eartham, observes, “Homer was not the immediate object of our attention. The morning hours that we could bestow upon books were chiefly devoted to a complete revisal and correction of all the translations, which my friend had finished, from the Latin and Italian poetry of Milton: and we generally amused ourselves after dinner in forming together a rapid metrical version of Andreini's Adamo.” He also mentions the interest excited in Cowper's mind by his son, a fine boy of eleven years, whose uncommon talents and engaging qualities endeared him so much to the poet, that he allowed and invited him to criticise his Homer. A specimen of this juvenile criticism will appear in the future correspondence. This interesting boy, with a young companion, employed themselves regularly twice a day in drawing Mrs. Unwin in a commodious garden-chair, round the airy hill at Eartham. “To Cowper and to me,” he adds, “it was a very pleasing spectacle to see the benevolent vivacity of blooming youth thus continually labouring for the ease, health, and amusement of disabled age.”
* This is one of those scarce and curious books which is not to be procured without difficulty. It is a dramatic representation of the Fall, remarkable, not so much for any peculiar vigour, either in the conception or execution of the plan, as for exhibiting that mode of celebrating sacred subjects, formerly known under the appellation of mysteries. A further interest is also attached to it from the popular persuasion that this work first suggested to Milton the design of his Paradise Lost. There is the same allegorical imagery, and sufficient to form the frame-work of that immortal poem. Johnson, in his Life of Milton, alludes to the report, without arriving at any decided conclusion on the subject, but states, that Milton's original intention was to have formed, not a narrative, but a dramatic work, and that he subsequently began to reduce it to its present form, about the year 1655. Some sketches of this plan are to be seen in the library of Trinity College, Cam
The reader will perceive from the last letter, that Cowper, amused as he was with the scenery of Sussex, began to feel the powerful attraction of home.
bridge. Dr. Joseph Warton and Hayley both incline to the opinion that the Adamo of Andreini first suggested the hint of the Paradise Lost. That the Italians claim this honour for their countryman is evident from the following passage from Tiraboschi, which, to those of our readers who are conversant with that language, will be an interesting quotation. “Certo benche L'Adamo dell Andreini sia in confronto del Paradiso Perduto ciò che è il Poema di Ennio in confronto a quel di Virgilio, nondimeno non può negarsi che le idee gigantesche, delle quali l'autore Inglese ha abbellito il suo Poema, di Satana, che entra nel Paradiso terrestre, e arde d' invidia al vedere la felicita dell' Uomo, del congresso de Demonj, della battaglia degli Angioli contra Lucifero, e più altre sommiglianti immagini veggonsi nell'Adamo adombrate per modo, che a me sembra molto credibile, che anche il Milton dalle immondezze, se così è lecito dire, dell 'Andreini raccogliesse l'oro, di cui adorno il suo Poema. Per altro L'Adamo dell' Andreini, benche abbia alcuni tratti di pessimo gusto, ne ha altri ancora, che si posson proporre come modello di excellente poesia.” It is no disparagement to Milton to have been indebted to the conceptions of another for the origin of his great undertaking. If Milton borrowed, it was to repay with largeness of interest. The only use that he made of the suggestion was, to stamp upon it the immortality of his own creative genius, and to produce a work which is destined to survive to the latest period of British literature. For further information on this subject, we refer the reader to the “Inquiry into the origin of Paradise Lost,” in Todd's excellent edition of Milton; and in Hayley's Life of Milton will be found Cowper's and Hayley's joint version of the first three acts of the Adamo above mentioned.
TO MRS. COURTENAY,+ WESTON UNDERWOOD.*
Eartham, Sept. 10, 1792. My dear Catharina-I am not so uncourteous a knight as to leave your last kind letter, and the last I hope that I shall receive for a long time to come, without an attempt, at least, to acknowledge and to send you something in the shape of an answer to it ; but, having been obliged to dose myself last night with laudanum, on account of a little nervous fever, to which I am always subject, and for which I find it the best remedy, I feel myself this morning particularly under the influence of Lethean vapours, and, consequently, in danger of being uncommonly stupid !
You could hardly have sent me intelligence that would have gratified me more than that of my two dear friends, Sir John and Lady Throckmorton, having departed from Paris two days before the terrible 10th of August. I have had many anxious thoughts on their account; and am truly happy to learn that they have sought a more peaceful region, while it was yet permitted them to do so. They will not, I trust, revisit those scenes of tumult and horror while they shall continue to merit that description. We are here all of one mind respecting the cause in which the Parisians are engaged ; wish them a free people, and as happy as they can wish
+ Now Dowager Lady Throckmorton.
themselves. But their conduct has not always pleased us : we are shocked at their sanguinary proceedings, and begin to fear, myself in particular, that they will prove themselves unworthy, because incapable of enjoying it, of the inestimable blessing of liberty. My daily toast is, Sobriety and freedom to the French; for they seem as destitute of the former, as they are eager to secure the latter.
We still hold our purpose of leaving Eartham on the seventeenth; and again my fears on Mrs. Unwin's account begin to trouble me; but they are now not quite so reasonable as in the first instance. If she could bear the fatigue of travelling then, she is more equal to it at present; and, supposing that nothing happens to alarm her, which is very probable, may be expected to reach Weston in much better condition than when she left it. Her improvement, however, is chiefly in her looks, and in the articles of speaking and walking ; for she can neither rise from her chair without help, nor walk without a support, nor read, nor use her needle. Give my love to the good Doctor, and make him acquainted with the state of his patient, since he, of all men, seems to have the best right know it.
I am proud that you are pleased with the Epitaph* I sent you, and shall be still prouder to see it perpetuated by the chisel. It is all that I have done since here I came, and all that I have been able to do. I wished, indeed, to have requited Romney, for his well-drawn copy of me, in rhyme; and have
* On Fop, Lady Throckmorton's dog.