페이지 이미지

strong liking for them, to discontinue the use of them, with great benefit, as I believe, to my health. And I think that if people would observe their sensations closely as I have done, and would compare their feelings when they do take them, and when they do not, they would find that such results often follow their use. Mind, I say follow, not attend, because I know that their first effect is to refresh and exhilarate. But in judging any question of this kind, we must look not only at the immediate effects, but at the after consequences of the use of the article to which it relates, and carefully remark our sensations both when we use, and when we disuse it, during long periods. This remark applies also to alcohol.

There is another point, however, on which we may speak with more confidence.

Cold is a great waster of the human frame ; consequently warm rooms--if they are pot too warm, and if the warmth is not kept up by shutting out the fresh air—and warm clothing, are very desirable as means of retarding the waste of our living substance. In fact, so important is this, that I feel I use an expression which is scarcely too strong, when I say that fuel and clothing are food; for the warmth of our bodies must be maintained, or our health must suffer; and if the fuel and clothing are insufficient, the deficiency must be supplied by a larger consumption of food. I am glad, therefore, to find that our relief committees and guardians intend to distribute large quantities of stockings, gowns, and other produce of our sewing classes, during the approaching winter; but these articles will not serve for the men in the part of the body about the heart and lungs, in which it is especially desirable that the vital heat should be maintained; and in this important point I fear, though I hope I may be mistaken, that there may be a deficiency. I will, therefore, venture to sug

The paper

gest one way in which this deficiency may be, to a great extent, very cheaply supplied. Pieces of brown paper, cut in such a way as to fit the upper half of the body, or even pieces of newspaper similarly cut and placed one over another, and worn either between the shirt and the flannel waistcoat, or between the waistcoat and the shirt, would hinder to a very great extent the escape of the warmth of the body, and thus cause the waste of its living substance to go on more slowly. Again, a number of such pieces of paper pasted together, and placed under the coverlet of the bed, would add almost as much warmth as an additional blanket. used for this purpose must be porous—that is to say,

it must allow moisture to pass through it. Glazed paper is unsuitable. Something, too, may be done by placing articles of clothing worn in the day, upon the bed by night. sad necessity that we are driven to think of such means as these for keeping out the winter cold; but it must be kept out somehow, and if no other means present themselves, these will prove a good deal better than nothing, Let us hope that it will be only for a short time that they may be necessary, and that at some not very distant period, every spindle and every shuttle will be working merrily away, our cotton spinners making larger profits, and our operatives obtaining higher wages than ever they did before, and having learnt a good many useful lessons in this time of adversity, may look back with pleasure to the shifts to which they were once driven, and, sitting round their firesides, amidst peace, plenty, and prosperity, may spin many a yarn about the winter of 1862, and the way in which they made shift to get through it.

It is a




TH He merits which render the writings of William

Cowper especially worthy the attention of the English people, are the simplicity of their diction, the wholesomeness of their quality, the innocence of their wit, and the Christian piety which pervades them. Ordinary intelligence can comprehend them; common sensibility is affected by them; mirth can enjoy them; religion can unhesitatingly stamp them with its seal of unqualified approval: and of no writer can it be said with more truth than of Cowper, that he has left us a treasure of poetical varieties,

no line of which, when dying, he could have desired to blot.”

A further reason for the popularity of Cowper, is found in the peculiarly domestic character of his

He may be particularly designated as the Hearth-Poet of our country, for his writings are, perhaps, of all others, those which the reader of a family, pre-eminently delighting in fireside enjoyment, might select, to render at once pleasant and improving the closing hours of a well-employed day. You may find in the lines of Cowper, excitement enough in the way of narration, of character, of humour, of incident, and of all the situations and emotions to which we are liable. Energetic manliness, influenced even to stormy indignation; satirical power, striking with fearless contempt; humour, calculated to make "laughter hold both its sides ;'


and elegant compliment enough to satisfy vanity herself;—all these are to be found in Cowper, as well as Christian sobriety and moral gentleness, the chord of feeling which moves the unselfish to tears, and the passage of true philosophy which sets grave men thinking. There can be nothing “mawkish” in the milder productions of a man who shows liimself what Cowper does in his more simulated moods; and the extreme value of his religious teachings is asserted in the fact, that he so emphatically proves himself to have had—though under control-all the passions and native impetuosity which, with too many of us, have unbridled allowance.

What Cowper's religion was, may be gathered from his expressed aversion to everything not having full gospel authority. He repudiated from his heart the idea of “judging by a statute a believer's hope," for he was not more the advocate of political than of religious liberty; but if he utters much that a certain section of the Established Church must receive either with offence or in correction, he is not to be claimed by any Sectarian; and as to the charge of Puritanism, I have only to disprove it by the following lines from his “'Table Talk," which must be equally corrective or offensive, as the hearer is corrigible or obstinate :

“When Cromwell fought for pow'r, and while he reign'd,
The proud Protector of the pow'r he gain'd,
Religion, harsh, intolerant, austere,
Parent of manners like herself, severe,
Drew a rough copy of the Christian face,
Without the smile, the sweetness, or the grace.”

Again-in answer to those who, from some sad circumstances of his life, remain impressed that our poet's religion was of a gloomy cast, take the following S.

" Artist, attend. Your brushes, and your paint:
Produce them: take a chair, and draw a saint.”


[ocr errors]

We suppose the drawing made. This is the critic's comment:

“Oh sorrowful and sad! The streaming tears
Channel her cheeks; a Niobe appears :
Is this a saint! Throw tints and all away,-
True piety is cheerful as the day;
Will weep indeed, and heave a pitying groan

For others' woes, but smiles upon her own.'
66 But what,” you


say, were the sad circumstances of Cowper's life? They were indeed the circumstances of his very being. From his birth (in 1731) he appears to have been of the most delicate mental constitution, rendering him quite incompetent to any personal effort in the battle of life. At school he stood in terror of the senior boy to whom he was “fag;” and for years afterwards he remained so sensitive, that he could not make good the opportunities afforded for his advancement in the world. The dread of having to undergo a public examination of his fitness for a clerkship in the House of Parliament, was too much for his nerves, and he became temporarily insane under the effects of the hypochondriasis, or radical melancholy, 'which converted even divine truth into a source of intellectual poison.” During the remainder of his life he was subject to alternations of mental bondage and comparative freedom; being impressed, during the prevalence of the malady, by ideas of eternal perdition; and employing the intervals of restored reason in the production of those works which must indicate to our minds the assurance of his eternal felicity. Solemn, indeed, are the reflections which attach to the fact, that one of the best men ever born into the world was subject to the pangs of the guiltiest ! It is not, however, my province o enlarge upon this subject. I have now only to do with William Cowper as he appears in his works, or rather in his poems; for you are to consider that he was not less eminent as a prose writer than as



« 이전계속 »