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privacy, and in giving to it the facilities of universal circulation. He is of opinion that if the excellent Poet himself could be consulted, he would direct, not its suppression, but its publication ; under the persuasion, that its details will be the most efficient means of cor. recting certain false notions, unfriendly to spiritual religion, which some have thought themselves sanctioned in entertaining, by the vague and indistinct accounts which were previously before the world. Statements have been made, which contained perhaps the truth, but not that whole truth, the knowledge of which was essential to a right judgment on the case.'

Whatever opinion may ultimately be retained, with regard to the propriety of the publication, the thing is done; and as on the one hand, it would be useless to regret it, so on the other, it would be idle to profess an apprehension of serious evil resulting in any respect from the utmost publicity being given to its contents. When we speak of religion having any thing to fear from the injudicious conduct of her friends, or from the calumnies of her enemies, it is obvious, that the phrase exclusively intends the mischief which persons may do to themselves by taking occasion from such circumstances to fortify themselves in their prejudices, and to vent in ignorant invectives against personal character, their lamentable antipathy against the spiritual requirements of the Gospel. Religion can have nothing to fear from the most degrading associations with which it may be connected. The evidence on which Christianity rests, is unimpaired, its authority remains undiminished, its essential character and its heavenly tendency continue the same, through whatsoever medium they are contem, lated, or whatsoever be the pretence on wbich the obedience of the heart is withheld. Call it Methodism, fanaticism, madness,-religion undergoes no change in consequence of the terms by which it is designated. It may indeed be found in actual combination with a morbid intellect, or a perverted imagination. To confound the wise, it may be permitted that religion should be sometimes associated with human weakness and human folly. It is a salutary trial, a moral exercise of the faculties as influenced by the dispositions of the heart, to witness the genuine element of piety mingling with forms of deformity and wretchedness so uninteresting and even so loathsome, that religion constitutes their sole redeeming attraction. Nay, sometimes it shall be difficult to discover the identity of religion in cases where, though disguised and hidden beneath the infir:, ities of our poor shattered nature, it really exists. It is the triumph of religion that it saves to the uttermost” objects on which perhaps Divine Compassion alone bestows the attention of pity, as even capable of being saved. So unreasonable as well as pernicious are the prejudices entertained against spiritual

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religion, in consequence of the tasteless or forbidding forms of individual character in which it may be enveloped, or of the uncertainty which sometimes may attach to the boundary of religious principle and human infirmity.

The character of Cowper, however, is so amiable, so virtuous, so perfectly lovely, that even the scornful infidel must regard it as forming a presumptive argument in favour of the moral principles in which it had its root. In spite of his prejudices against that system of belief to which he attributes all that was morbid in the mind of that excellent man, it must tend to silence his cavils, if not to strike him with conviction, to find, that to nothing was Cowper's first loss of reason more obviously attributable, as a negative cause, than to the absence of religious knowledge, and of all fixed religious principle. In his sul sequent relapse, the most prominent feature of his insanity was the utter incompatibility of the idea that retained fixed possession of his mind, not merely with bis own religious creed, but with any system of religion, and indeed, so far as we are aware, with any notions of religion entertained by an individual besides himself. Not only was the unalterable persuasion which he cherished of his being doomed to everlasting perdition, opposed to the doctrines in which he had been established, but he regarded his own case as a solitary exception to the general laws of the Divine Government,-as the only instance of a person, who believed with the heart unto righteousness, and was not

withstanding, excluded from salvation. And the ground on which this fatal imagination rested, was not less indicative of decided insanity. The supposed cause of his exclusion from Divine Mercy, was his having neglected a known duty, in disobeying the positive command of God to destroy himself. Self-destruction had been, he conceived, specially enjoined upon him as a trial of his obedience to the will of God: he had through irresolution resisted the command, and by this means, had placed himself beyond the reach of redemption. • Never

neglect a known duty,' was the injunction which he pressed upon a young friend, in reference to his own condition; to such neglect be attributed all his own hopeless agony of mind. So consistent, so blameless had been his own conduet, since he had embraced the truths of Christianity, that it should seem there was no one act of mental disobedience which furnished occasion for remorse; no stain upon bis conscience that in his melancholy broodings supplied the tempter with an accusation :—there was only an imaginary crime. Nor was there any one doctrine in his religious creed, which his disordered imagination could convert into an instrument of self-inflicted condemnation ; no inference deducible from the tenets he held, that fostered or countenanced his despair. All that is alleged, as being involved

in the most rigid Calvinism, would have produced no dismay in the mind of Cowper, for the faith he possessed would have dispelled or irradiated the darkness of the gloomiest speculative creed. But his views of religion were not gloomy; he had ex. bibited their cheering efficacy, and dispensed to others the consolation he had proved them to be adapted to impart. The impression which haunted bis imagination, during the partial derangement that clouded the latter period of his life, was not simply erroneous, or unscriptural; it was wholly out of the line of religious belief: it had no relation to any one proposition in theology; it was an assumption built upon premises completely fictitious; all was unreal but the anguish and despair which the delusion of his reason produced. How extatic must have been the surprise and joy of the emancipated spirit, that had suffered such torment from an imaginary rejection of its Maker's will, when, as the fetters of mortality were struck off, the illusion vanished, the prisoner was free, and the voices of angels welcomed him to the assembly of the just made perfect, and the spirits before the Throne!

But we have in some measure anticipated the reflections which will naturally be suggested by the perusal of the Narrative. We shall now proceed to notice more particularly those prominent features of Cowper's character and those points in his history, which are illustrated by the brief Memoirs before us.

William Cowper was born at Great Berkhampstead, in Hertfordshire, on the 15th of November, 1731. He had scarcely attained his sixth year, when, by the death of a most indul* gent mother,' he was initiated into suffering :

"Wretch even then, life's journey just begun.' Young as he was, it seems that he was capable of appreciating the severity of his loss. I loved her,' said he in the letter to Mrs. Bodham, which acknowledged the receipt of his mother's portrait, with an affection that her death, fifty-two

years since, has not in the least abated' His tender and susceptible frame was ill prepared to exchange the safe protection, the comforts and the soothing attentions of his parental home, for the uncongenial manners and the hardships of a school. How keenly he felt this second weaning,' may be conjectured from the pathetic expostulation which he introduces in the Tirocinium.

Why hire a lodging in a house unknown, . For one, whose tenderest thoughts all hover round your « The indented stick, that loses day by day • Notch after notch, till all are smoothed away, • Bears witness, long ere his dismission come, • With what intense desire he wants his home.'

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But his chief affliction, as his own words inform us, consisted in his being singled out from all the other boys, by

a lad of about fifteen years of age, as a proper object upon • whom he might let loose the cruelty of his t mpir.'

• I choose to forbear a particular recital of the many acts of barbarity, with which he made it his business continually to persecute me: it will be sufficient to say, that he had, by his savage ireatment of me, impressed such a dread of his figure upon my mind, that I well remeniber being afraid to lift up my eyes upon him, higher than his knees; and that I knew him by his shoe-buckles, better than any other part of his dress. May the Lord pardon him, and may we meet in glory!' p. 8.

The long unsuspected cruelty of this young miscreant, was at length discovered. He was expelled from the school, and Cowper was removed.

At nine years of age, he was sent to Westminster school, where he was exposed to fresh trials and sufferings from juvenile oppression, aggravated by the constitutional timidity and acuteness of feeling by which he was too fatally characterized. The indelible impression left upon his mind' by what he underwent at school, seems to render it highly probable, that the morbid tendencies of his temperainent were by this means in no small degree strengthened and confirmed, and that the tone and elasticity of his spirits were essentially impaired. At one time, as he informs us, he was struck with a lowness of spirits, un

common at bis age,' and frequently had intimations of a consumptive habit. This dejection, it is remarkable, succeeded a state of unusual elevation of spirits, in which bis imagination so far sympathized, that it suggested the notion that perhaps

he might never die.' These unnatural fluctuations, with whatsoever salutary trains of thought they were connected, cannot be considered as originating in any other than a physical

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cause.

It is a curious and at the same time a most delicato subject of physiological speculation, to investigate the sbare which physical causes often have in operations of the moral faculties. It was unavoidable, in perusing Cowper's Memoirs of himself, not to be impressed with the extreme difficulty of determining in all cases the true character of those alternations of joy and despondency, of levity and seriousness, naturally enough connected with correspondent frames of thought, to which the Narrative continually refers. Relative to this point, the Author himself, though his evidence in regard to veracity is unimpeachable, cannot be admitted as

a competent witness. A patient cannot be mistaken as to the reality of his sensations, yet he is often deceived as to the exact locality of the disorder, and in narrating his symptoms, he may fall into errors which the knowledge of the physician will enable him to rectify. In cases where the sympathy between the body and the mind is peculiarly exquisite, where the slightest change in the temperament of the frame communicates itself to the imagination and to the feelings, and the breath and the pulsation seem in return to be almost regulated by the thoughts, it is impossible to depend upon a person's own account of the origin of his emotions, There can be no doubt that the presence of fever is the real cause of much that passes for religious transport in the prospect of dissolution, and that despondency is not less frequently the mere effect of bodily languor consequent upon exhaustion. All sudden transitions of this kind are at the least suspicious. With regard to Cowper, it is evident that his imagination was subject to a degree of morbid excitement, and that during such periods he was wholly incompetent to discern between what was real and what was illusive,-between the impressions received from external objects and those which proceeded from the reflex operations of his own mind. This degree of delirium is essentially different from actual insanity, for in actual insanity, the mind is less the dupe of false impressions than of false reasonings. The intimations furnished by the senses are then visually correct : it is the reason that is deluded.

We trust that we shall be excused for dwelling on a physiological fact, so well established that it might seem needless to advert to it, yet so important that too much pains cannot be taken to place it in its proper light, and to guard it from inferences of an immoral tendency. Although we cannot always ascertain the sources of emotion, any more than we can tell. how our thoughts originate, it does not follow that those emotions are to be viewed as mere physical phenomena, or that our responsibility is lessened by the circumstance of our being so much under the influence of what may be termed physical accidents. Impressions may be made on the mind by mere illusions, yet those impressions are not necessarily erroneous. Much, for instance, that is conveyed to us in dreams, is true, and may even turn to a beneficial account.

In like manner, convictions may be forced upon the conscience under circumstances of bodily indisposition, which are not the less just, because they are in part attributable to the state of the system. It is surely not unworthy of the Maker of our frame and the Father of our spirit, to cause even the disorders of our animal nature to be subservient to a moral purpose. Before we regard all emotions and trains of thought that originate in pbysical accidents, or in the imagination, as wholly delusive, we must be satisfied that there is no ground for entertaining them, -that they have no foundation in reality. The character of moral actions and moral feelings is the same, under whatso

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