« IndietroContinua »
• I read,' he says, without perception, and was so distressed, tbat had every clerk in the office been my friend, it would have availed me line : for I was not in a condition to receive instruction, much less to clicit it out of manuscripts without direction.'--pp. 29, 30.
After more than half a year thus spent, he repairs to Margate, and at length, by dismissing the subject, obtains a transitory relief of mind. He is again, however, required to attend the office, and to prepare for the push.' With this labour, his misery returns. He finds himself reduced to the alternative of exposing himself to public degradation, or resigning the office, and bringing his benefactor's discretion into question. His despair vents itself in angry murmurs against Providence; he seeks in vain for relief in medicine, wishes for madness, and ofteu expresses his expectations of its approach.
The decisive day draws near, and the horrid expedient of selfmurder occurs to him :-the history of his attempts will be read with fearful interest. Eight or nine assaults made by this unhappy man upon his own life, and some repeated more than once, successively fail : for the particulars we refer to the book, from which it appears that, amidst incipient derangement, reason still predomi. nated in his mind. He resigns the office; and, from circumstances which occurred in one of these dreadful attempts, apprehending an apoplesy, he consults a physician, and, finding there is no danger, resolves to continue in his Temple residence. Here at length a natural horror of his late intention, and the recollection of his past life, overwhelm him with remorse; obviously aggravated by his, increasing derangement.
I never went into the street, but I thought the people stared and laughed at me, and held me in contempt; and I could hardly persuade myself, but that the voice of my conscience was loud enough for every body to hear it. Those who knew me, seemed to avoid me; and if they spoke to me, they seemed to do it in scorn. I bought a ballad of one who was singing it in the street, because I thought it was written on me. I dined alone, either at the tavern, where I went in the dark, or at the chop-house, where I always took care to hide myself in the darkest corner of the room. I slept generally an bour in the evening, though it was only to be terrified in dreams; and when I awoke it was some time before I could walk steadily through the passage into the dining room; I staggered and reeled like a drunken man. The eyes of man I could not bear; but to think that the eyes of God were upon me, which I was assured of, gave me intolerable anguish.'—pp. 56, 57. :
His fevered mind is now deluded into a supposition, that he has committed an unpardonable sin; and neither reason, nor Scripture, nor the arguments of his brother, who had come to his relief, are of any avail under this conviction.
I had indeed a sense of eternity impressed upon my mind, which almost amounted to a full comprehension of it. My brother, grieved 10
the heart with the sight of my misery, tried to comfort me; but all to no purpose. I refused comfort, and iny mind (sins) appeared to me in such colours, that to administer it to me, was only to exasperate mę, and mock my fears.
Subjoined to the smaller edition from which we quote, is a short poem supposed to be written at this time; no account is given of it, but from internal evidence, we have no doubt that it is bis: it is a dreadful picture of despondency. After having experienced a temporary relief from the religious consolations of his friend Martin Madan, the distemper, which had been so long hovering over bim, takes full possession of his mind...
"A strange and horrible darkness fell upon me. If it were possible that a heavy blow could light upon the brain without touching the skull, such was the sensation I felt. I clapped my hand to my forehead, and cried aloud through the pain it gave me. At every stroke my thoughts and expressions became more wild and incoherent; all that remained to ine clear, was the sense of sin and the expectation of punishment. These thoughts kept undisturbed possession of my mind all the way through my illness, without interruption or abatement.' – p. 66.
His brother and friends, consulting on his case, agreed that he should be removed to a house belonging to the skilful and humane Dr. Cotton, and appropriated to such persous. Here, after many months of misery, reason in a great measure returned, but unaccompanied by hope. Soon, however, a great change took place—it is thus related:
In about three months more, July 25th, 1764, my brother came from Cambridge to visit me. Dr. Cotton having told him he thought me greatly mended, he was rather disappointed at finding me almost as silent and reserved as ever; for the first sight of him struck me with many painful sensations, both of sorrow for my own remediless condition, and envy of his happiness. As soon as we were alone, he asked me how I found myself; I answered, “ As much better as despair can make me.” We went together into the garden. Then on expressing that settled assurance of sudden judgment, he protested to me that it was all a delusion, and protested it so strongly, that I could not help giving some attention to him-I burst into tears, and cried out, “ If it is a delusion, then I am the happiest of beings.” Something like a ray of hope was shot into my heart. Still I was afraid to indulge it. We dined together, and I spent the afternoon in a more cheerful manner. Something seemed to whisper to me every moment, “ Still, however, there is mercy.” Even after he had left me, this change of sentiment gathered ground continually, yet my mind was in such a fluctuating state, that I can only call it a vague presage of better things to come, without being able to assign a reason for it. I went to bed, and slept well. In the morning I dreamt that the sweetest boy I ever saw came daneing up to my bedside. He seemed just out of leading
strings; strings; yet I took particular notice of the firmness of his tread. Tho sight affected me with pleasure, and served at least to harmonize my spirits ; so that I awoke for the first time with a sensation of delight upon my mind. Still, however, I knew not where to look for tho establishment of the comfort I felt.-—
* Within a few days of my first arrival at St. Albans, I had thrown aside the word of God, as a book in which I had no longer any interest or portion. The only instance in which I can recollect reading a single chapter, was about two months before my recovery. Having found a Bible upon the bench in the garden, I opened it upon the eleventh of St. John, where Lazarus is raised from the dead; and saw so much benevolence, mercy, goodness, and sympathy with miserable man, in our Sa. yiour's conduct, that I almost shed tears even after the relation; little thinking that it was an exact type of the mercy that Jesus was upon the point of extending towards myself. I sighed and said, “Oh that I had not rejected so good a Redeemer, that I had not forfeited all his favour!" Thus was my heart softened, though not yet enlightened. I closed the book without intending to open it again. Having risen with somewhat of a more checrful feeling, I repaired to the room where breakfast waited for me. While I sat at the table, I found the cloud of horror, which had so long hung over me, every moment passing away; and every moment came fraught with hope. I was continually more and more persuaded, that I was not utterly doomed to destruction. The way of salvation, however, was still hid from my eyes, nor did I see at all more clearly than before my illness.'
But the happy period which was to shake off my fetters, and afford me a clear opening of the free mercy of God in Christ Jesus, was now arrived; I Aung myself into a chair near the window, and seeing a Bible there, ventured once mute to apply to it for comfort and instruction. The first verse I saw was the twenty-fifth of the third chapter of Romans: “ Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." I inmediately received strength to believe, and the full beams of the sun of righteousness shone upon me. I saw the sufficiency of the atonement be had made, my pardon sealed in his blood, and all the fulness and completeness of his justification. In a moment I believed, and received the Gospel. What. ever my friend Madan had said to me so long before, revived in all its clearness, with demonstration of the Spirit, and with power.
• Unless the Almighty arm had now been under me, I think I should have died with gratitude and joy. My eyes filled with tears, and my voice choked with transport; I could only look to heaven in silence, overwhelmed with love and wonder.' How glad should I have now been to have spent every moment in prayer and thanksgiving! I lost no opportunity of repairing to a throne of grace, but few to it with an eagerness irresistible, and never to be satisfied. Could I help it? could I do otherwise than to love and rejoice in my reconciled Father in Christ Jesus? The Lord had enlarged my heart, and “ I ran in the way of his commandments.”
. For many succeeding weeks, tears were ready to flow if I did but Speak of the Gospel, or mention the name of Jesus. To rejoice day and night was my employment : too happy to sleep much, I thought it was lost time that was spent in slumber.'
The above extract, for the length of which we make no apology, resembles many parts of our author's poems : we refer to the latter part of Hope' in particular, which evidently flowed from the selfsame feelings. After a narrative of some other occurrences, the work concludes with his settlement in the house of his excellent friends the Unwins. It is written in the easy English style of the days of Queen Ann; which, in its better parts, we would willingly see revived. To the larger edition is subjoined an Appendix, containing a few of Cowper's religious letters, some just reinarks on his life froin a periodical work, and extracts on the sin of suicide. One of these is from Cowper's letters, on Hume's arguments in favour of self-murder. It is indeed impossible not to observe, as in the case of Gibbon, that where Hume deserted the Gospel, it deserted him; and that the advocate of deism was the advocate of suicide and debauchery. The remarks from the American divine are worthy of universal perusal, to which we earnestly recommend them. The sentences which conclude the volume, though just in their contents, have rather a ludicrous air.
There are many things in this volume, which, on a hasty perusal, may be deemed extravagant. We consider this as unfortunate, so far as it may prejudice inany against what does not in reality deserve it. Piety holds no parley with fanaticism, nor needs its alliance; religion disdains to be defended by other means than those of truth: ‘in the celestial armoury of Christianity,' says an excellent contemporary moralist, no such weapons as enthusiasm and error are to be found ;' and it is on this principle that we wish to vindicate the present work from the imputation of enthusiasm ; lest the enemies of Christianity should have it in their power to say, that the piety of any one had been increased, or his truth in the divine mercy confirmed, by a narrative of delusions. It was indeed our decided opinion, even before we read this book, that a change of life and sentiments so total, and of such a kind, as Cow. per was known to have experienced; a system of religion so sublime, yet so rational, so spiritual, yet so practical, as lie inculcates, could not by any possibility be the effects of fanaticism, Nor have these Memoirs altered our opinion. No miracles are alleged, no discoveries in religion broached; what was delirium, is called such; where he was under the intiuence of a mistake, he expressly mentions it; where his delusion exaggerated indifferent actions into gross crimes, he tells us. With a tiuge from his own opinions, the work is pervaded and vivified by a spirit of rational awe, devotion,
and thankfulness. Providential interpositions, and divine influence, are indeed supposed. But the train of circumstances, by which his dreadful attempts at self-destruction were repeatedly prevented, was so striking, that even a man of sober sense, might, without in the least forfeiting his claim to rationality, gratefully suppose them to proceed from the special care of a benevolent Deity; and if an opinion, thus formed, may have led the author astray with regard to some less remarkable occurrences, it is not to be imputed to a superstitious taint, but to a human error in reasoning.
Art. VIII.-1. A Sketch of the British Fur Trade in North
America; with Observutions relative to the North-West Company of Montreal. 8vo. By the Earl of Selkirk. London: 1816. 2. Voyage de la Mer Atlantique à l'Océan Pacifique par le
Nord-ouest dans la Mer Glaciale; par le Capitaine Laurent Ferrer Maldonado, l'an 1588. Nouvellement traduit d'un Manuscrit Espagnol, et suivi d'un Discours qui en démontre l'Autenticité et la Véracité, par Charles Amoretti. Plaisance : de
l’Imprimerie del Majno. 1812. No one will doubt that Lord Selkirk is an amiable, honourable, + and intelligent man—but he has the misfortune to be a protector. We are persuaded, however, that his are not the deep-laid schemes of a sordid narrow-minded calculator, but the suggestions of an ardent imagination and a benevolent heart-such as are apt sometimes to overlook difficulties which it is not easy to overleap.
It will be remembered that his lordship, some years ago, made an attempt, in part a successful one, to divert the tide of emigration from the Highlands of Scotland to the United States, and turn it to Prince Edward's Island, within the territories of Great Britain. His intentions were, no doubt, benevolent and humane; but, an impulse was supposed to be given to them by the ruling passion of reviving, in North America, that species of feudal system which was finally extinguished in North Britain about seventy years since.' His lordship was thought to be ambitious of becoming the head of a clan--the chieftain and founder of numerous families. For such expansive views an island was too contined a sphere: but the neighbouring continent had all the requisites that could possibly be wished-an indefinite extent of territory, abounding in woods and plains, and extensive lakes, and navigable rivers ; with a soil capable of affording subsistence for millions, but nearly untenanted, save by the beasts of the forests, claimed as the exclusive property of some trading merchants under the grant of a Royal Charter, who would neither cultivate any part of it themselves, nor suffer others
VOL. XVI. NO. XXXI.