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former, times, no longer continues to be appended to s
the modern editions of “ Cowley's Poems," (having B been most unjustly superseded by Johnson's,) I must I indulge in some further extracts.
“Upon the King's happy Restoration, MR. Cowley was past the fortieth year of his age; of which the greatest part had been spent in a various and tempestuous condition. He now thought he had sacrificed enough of his life to his curiosity and experience. He had enjoyed many excellent occasions of observation. He had been present in many great revolutions,
which in that tumultuous time disturbed the peace of all our K neighbour-states, as well as our own. He had nearly beheld
all the splendour of the highest part of mankind. He had
“He was now weary of the vexations and formalities of
Having at length obtained an independent re- si treat through the patronage of Lord St. Albans, and the bounty of the Duke of Buckingham:
“He immediately gave over all pursuit of honour and riches, in a time, when if any ambitious or covetous thoughts had remained in his mind, he might justly have expected to have them readily satisfied. In his last seven or eight years, he was concealed in his beloved obscurity, and possessed that Solitude, which from his very childhood he had always most passionately desired. Though he had frequent invitations to return into business, yet he never gave ear to any persuasions of profit or preferment. His visits to the City and Court were very few; his stays in town were only as a passenger, not an inhabitant. The places that he chose for the seats of his declining life, were two or three villages on the banks of the Thames. During this recess, his mind was rather exercised on what was to come, than what was past; he suffered no more business, nor cares of life to come near him, than what were enough to keep his soul awake, but not to disturb it. Some few friends and books, a cheerful heart, and innocent conscience, were his constant companions. His poetry, indeed, he took with him, but he made that an anchorite, as well as himself. He only dedicated it to the service of his Maker, to describe the great images of religion and virtue, wherewith his mind abounded. And he employed his music to no other use, than as his own David did towards Saul, by singing the praises of God and of Nature, to drive the evil spirit out of men's
Dr. Sprat has afterwards some passages regardSing Solitude, which it would be disingenuous to con
ceal from the reader.
“If any thing ought to have been changed in his temper and disposition, it was his earnest affection for obscurity and retirement. This, Sir, give me leave to condemn, even to you, who, I know, agreed with him in the same humour. I acknowledge he chose that state of life, not out of any poetical rapture, but upon a steady and sober experience of human things. But, however, I cannot applaud it in him. It is certainly a great disparagement to virtue and learning itself, that those very things,which only make men useful in the world, should incline them to leave it. This ought never to be allowed to good men, unless the bad had the same moderation, and were willing to follow them into the wilderness. But if the one shall contend to get out of employment, while the other strive to get into it, the affairs of mankind are like to be in so ill a posture, that even the good men themselves will hardly be able to enjoy their very retreats in security. Yet, I confess, if any deserved to have this privilege, it ought to have been granted to him, as soon as any man living, upon consideration of the manner in which he spent the liberty that he had got. For he withdrew himself out of the crowd, with desires of enlightning and instructing the minds of those that remained in it. It was his resolution in that station to search into the secrets of Divine and Human Knowledge, and to communicate what he should observe. He always professed that he went out of the world, as it was Man's, into the same world, as it was Nature's, and as it was God's. The whole compass of the Creation, and all the wonderful effects of the Divine Wisdom, were the constant prospect of his senses, and his thoughts. And, indeed, he entered with great advantage on the studies of Nature, even as the first great men of antiquity did, who were generally both Poets and Philosophers. He betook himself to its contemplation; as well furnished with sound judgment and diligent observation, and good method to discover its mysteries, as with abilities to set it forth in all its ornaments.”
I must add, as consonant to the tenor of this Essay, the following Epitaph, written by the amiable Author himself with singular felicity, and beauty.
EPITAPHIUM VIVI AUTORIS.
“ Hic, O Viator, sub Lare parvulo
Sorte, supervacuáque vitd.
Non indecorá pauperie nitens,
Divitiis animosus hostis.
Possis ut illum dicere mortuum,
Terra sit illa levis, precare.
Hic sparge flores, sparge breves rosas,
Vatis adhuc Cinerem Calentem..
THE AUTHOR'S EPITAPH Upon himself, yet alive, but withdrawn from the busy world to a country life;
to be supposed written on his house.
Lies Cowley, though entomb’d, not dead;
+ I presume this translation is by N. Tate.
Who in his poverty is neat,
Can you not say, he has resign'd
Strew roses here, as on his hearse,
Of this great Poet, so unjustly neglected in modern times, Pope happily and justly said:
“Forgot his Epic, nay Pindaric art,
Yet still we love the language of the heart.”
The following pleasing lines are on his monument, erected by the Duke of Buckingham.
“ Aurea dum volitant latè tua scripta per orbem,
Et Famá æternum vivis, Divine Poeta,