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WILLIAM COWPER, the poet, was the son of the rector of Berkhampstead, in Hertfordskire, and was born at this place in 1731. He was of quiet and retiring disposition, and though he was a man of earnest piety, he was subject to fits of melancholy, which rendered his later years very unhappy. He died in 1800.

His writings are distinguished for playfulness, good sense, fidelity to nature, patriotism, and for the spirit of piety that pervades them.

His principal poems are “The Task,” " Table Talk,” and “The Progress of Error.” Many of his shorter poems are well-known, such as the “Lines on Receipt of my Mother's Picture” and the inimitable “John Gilpin." He is also the author of many of our best hymns.

THE rose had been wash'd, just wash'd in a shower,

Which Mary to Anna convey'd,
The plentiful moisture encumber'd the flower,

And weigh'd down its beautiful head.
The cup was all fill’d, and the leaves were all wet,

And it seem'd, to a fanciful view,
To weep for the buds it had left, with regret,

On the flourishing bush where it grew.
I hastily seized it, unfit as it was

For a nosegay, so dripping and drown'd,
And swinging it rudely, too rudely, alas !

I snapp'd it, it fell to the ground.
And such, I exclaim'd, is the pitiless part

Some act by the delicate mind,
Regardless of wringing and breaking a heart

Already to sorrow resign'd.
This elegant rose, had I shaken it less,

Might have bloom'd with its owner a while ;
And the tear, that is wiped with a little address,

May be follow'd perhaps by a smile.-Couper.


God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform ;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,

And rides upon the storm.

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Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs,

And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break

In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace:
Behind a frowning providence

He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,

And scan His work in vain :
God is His own interpreter,

And He will make it plain.—Cowper.



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A YOUNGSTER at school, more sedate than the rest,
Had once his integrity put to the test;
His comrades had plotted an orchard to rob,
And ask'd him to go and assist in the job.
He was shock'd, sir, like you, and answer'd, “Oh no!
What! rob our good neighbour! I pray you,


go; Besides, the man's poor, his orchard's his bread,

Then think of his children, for they must be fed.” “ You speak very fine,


very grave, But apples we want, and apples we'll have; If you will

go with us, you shall have a share, If not, you shall have neither apple nor pear.”

They spoke, and Tom ponder'd—“I see they will go ;
Poor man! what a pity to injure him so !
Poor man! I would save him his fruit if I could,

But staying behind will do him no good. “If the matter depended alone upon me,

His apples might hang till they dropp'd from the tree;
But, since they will take them, I think I'll go too,
He will lose none by me, though I get a few."
His scruples thus silenced, Tom felt more at ease,
And went with his comrades the apples to seize;
He blamed and protested, but join'd in the plan;
He shared in the plunder, but pitied the man.—Cowper.

HAPPY the man, who sees a God employ'd
In all the good and ill that chequer life!
Resolving all events, with their effects
And manifold results, into the will
And arbitration wise of the Supreme.
Did not His eye rule all things, and intend
The least of our concerns (since from the least
The greatest oft originate); could chance
Find place in His dominion, or dispose
One lawless particle to thwart His plan;
Then God might be surprised, and unforeseen
Contingence might alarm Him, and disturb
The smooth and equal course of His affairs.
This truth, Philosophy, though eagle-eyed
In nature's tendencies, oft overlooks;
And, having found his instrument, forgets,
Or disregards, or, more presumptuous still,
Denies the power that wields it. God proclaims
His hot displeasure against foolish men,
That live an atheist life : involves the heavens
In tempests; quits His grasp upon the winds,
And gives them all their fury; bids a plague
Kindle a fiery boil upon the skins,
And putrify the breath of blooming Health.

He calls for Famine, and the meagre

Blows mildew from between his shrivellid lips,
And taints the golden ear. He springs His mines,
And desolates a nation at a blast.
Forth steps the spruce philosopher, and tells
Of homogeneal and discordant springs
And principles; of causes, how they work
By necessary laws their sure effects;
Of action and reaction. He has found
The source of the disease that nature feels,
And bids the world take heart and banish fear.
Thou fool! will thy discovery of the cause
Suspend the effect, or heal it ? Has not God
Still wrought by means since first He made the world ?
And did He not of old employ His means
To drown it? What is His creation less
Than a capacious reservoir of means
Form'd for His use, and ready at His will ?
Go, dress thine eyes with eye-salve; ask of Him,
Or ask of whomsoever He has taught;
And learn, though late, the genuine cause of all.—Cowper.



O THAT those lips had language ! Life has pass'd
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
Those lips are thine—thy own sweet smile I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced me;

Voice only fails, else how distinct they say,
“ Grieve not, my child, chase all thy fears away!”

The meek intelligence of those dear eyes
(Blest be the art that can immortalize,
The art that baffles Time's tyrannic claim
To quench it) here shines on me still the same.

Faithful remembrancer of one so dear,
O welcome guest, though unexpected here :
Who bidst me honour with an artless song,
Affectionate, a mother lost so long.


I will obey, not willingly alone,
But gladly, as the precept were her own :
And, while that face renews my filial grief,
Fancy shall wear a charm for

my relief,
Shall steep me in Elysian reverie,
A momentary dream, that thou art she.

My mother! when I learn'd that thou wast dead, Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed ? Hover'd thy spirit o'er the sorrowing son, Wretch even then, life's journey just begun ? Perhaps thou gavest me, though unfelt, a kiss; Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in blissAh, that maternal smile! it answers—Yes. I heard the bell toll’d on thy burial day, I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away, And turning from my nursery window, drew A long, long sigh, and wept a last adien ! But was it such ?-It was.- - Where thou art gone, Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown. May I but meet thee on that peaceful shore, The parting word shall pass my lips no more ! Thy maidens, grieved themselves at my concern, Oft gave me promise of thy quick return. What ardently I wish’d, I long believed, And, disappointed still, was still deceived. By expectation every day beguiled, Dupe of to-morrow even from a child. Thus many a sad to-morrow came and went, Till, all my stock of infant sorrows spent, I learn'd at last submission to my lot, But, though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot.

Where once we dwelt our name is heard no more, Children not thine have trod my nursery floor; And where the gardener Robin, day by day, Drew me to school along the public way, Delighted with my bauble coach, and wrapp'd In 'scarlet mantle warm, and velvet capp'd 'Tis now become a history little known, That once we call’d the pastoral house our own.

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