AN EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.[ed.]
AN EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.[ed.][ed.] "Joseph Hill (1733–1811) came of a legal family and probably met Cowper in the late
1740s through the poet's uncle, Ashley Cowper, who was a trustee of Hill's father's
will. He was to become Cowper's lifelong friend." (Baird/Ryskamp [1980-95], vol. 1,
1 DEAR JOSEPH — five and twenty years ago —
2 Alas! how time escapes — 'tis even so —
3 With frequent intercourse and always sweet
4 And always friendly, we were won't to cheat
5 A tedious hour — and now we never meet.
6 As some grave gentleman in Terence says,
7 ('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days)
8 Good lack, we know not what to-morrow brings —
9 Strange fluctuation of all human things!
10 True. Changes will befall, and friends may part,
11 But distance only cannot change the heart:[Page 286]
12 And were I call'd to prove th' assertion true,
13 One proof should serve, a reference to you.
14 Whence comes it then, that in the wane of life,
15 Though nothing have occurr'd to kindle strife,
16 We find the friends we fancied we had won,
17 Though num'rous once, reduced to few or none?
18 Can gold grow worthless that has stood the touch?
19 No: Gold they seemed, but they were never such
20 Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe
21 Swinging the parlour door upon its hinge,
22 Dreading a negative, and overawed
23 Lest he should trespass, begg'd to go abroad.
24 Go fellow! — whither? — turning short about —
25 Nay. Stay at home; — you're always going out.
26 'Tis but a step, sir, just at the street's end —
27 For what? — An please you sir, to see a friend.
28 A friend? Horatio cried, and seem'd to start —
29 Yea marry shalt thou, and with all my heart —[Page 287]
30 And fetch my cloak, for though the night be raw
31 I'll see him too — the first I ever saw.
32 I knew the man, and knew his nature mild,
33 And was his play-thing often when a child,
34 But somewhat at that moment pinch'd him close,
35 Else he was seldom bitter or morose.
36 Perhaps his confidence just then betray'd,
37 His grief might prompt him with the speech he made,
38 Perhaps 'twas mere good-humour gave it birth,
39 The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth.
40 Howe'er it was, his language in my mind
41 Bespoke at least a man that knew mankind:
42 But not to moralize too much, and strain
43 To prove an evil of which all complain,
44 (I hate long arguments, verbosely spun)
45 One story more, dear Hill, and I have done:
46 Once on a time, an Emp'ror, a wise man,
47 No matter where, in China or Japan,
48 Decreed that whosoever should offend
49 Against the well known duties of a friend,[Page 288]
50 Convicted once, should ever after wear
51 But half a coat, and show his bosom bare.
52 The punishment importing this, no doubt,
53 That all was naught within, and all found out.
54 Oh happy Britain! we have not to fear
55 Such hard and arbitrary measure here.
56 Else could a law like that which I relate,
57 Once have the sanction of our triple state,
58 Some few that I have known in days of old
59 Would run most dreadful risk of catching cold.
60 While you, my friend, whatever wind should blow,
61 Might traverse England safely to and fro,
62 An honest man, close-buttoned to the chin,
63 Broad-cloth without, and a warm heart within.
About this text
Author: William Cowper
Genres: heroic couplet; epistle
Text view / Document view
Cowper, William, 1731-1800. The task: a poem, in six books. By William Cowper, ... To which are added, by the same author, An epistle to Joseph Hill, Esq. ... To which are added, ... an epistle ... and the history of John Gilpin. London: printed for J. Johnson, 1785, pp. -288. ,359,p. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T14896; OTA K027776.000)
The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.
Other works by William Cowper
- ANOTHER. Addressed to a YOUNG LADY. ()
- BOADICEA, AN ODE. ()
- CHARITY. ()
- A COMPARISON. ()
- CONVERSATION. ()
- THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF JOHN GILPIN, SHEWING HOW HE WENT FARTHER THAN HE INTENDED AND CAME SAFE HOME AGAIN. ()
- THE DOVES. ()
- EXPOSTULATION. ()
- A FABLE. ()
- HEROISM. ()
- HOPE. ()
- HORACE. Book the 2d. ODE the 10th. ()
- HUMAN FRAILTY. ()
- THE LILY AND THE ROSE. ()
- THE LOVE OF THE WORLD REPROVED; OR, HYPOCRISY DETECTED. ()
- THE MODERN PATRIOT. ()
- MUTUAL FORBEARANCE, Necessary to the Happiness of the Married State. ()
- THE NIGHTINGALE AND GLOW-WORM. ()
- ODE TO PEACE. ()
- On a GOLDFINCH starved to Death in his Cage. ()
- On observing some Names of little Note recorded in the BIOGRAPHIA BRITANNICA. ()
- On the Burning of LORD MANSFIELD'S Library, together with his MSS. by the Mob, in the Month of June, 1780. ()
- On the Promotion of EDWARD THURLOW, Esq. to the Lord High Chancellorship of ENGLAND. ()
- ON THE SAME. ()
- The PINE APPLE and the BEE. ()
- THE POET, THE OYSTER, AND SENSITIVE PLANT. ()
- THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. ()
- A REFLECTION on the foregoing ODE. ()
- REPORT Of an adjudged Case not to be found in any of the Books. ()
- RETIREMENT. ()
- THE SHRUBBERY, Written in a Time of Affliction. ()
- TABLE TALK. ()
- [THE TASK, A POEM, IN SIX BOOKS.] BOOK I. ()
- [THE TASK, A POEM, IN SIX BOOKS.] BOOK II. ()
- [THE TASK, A POEM, IN SIX BOOKS.] BOOK III. ()
- [THE TASK, A POEM, IN SIX BOOKS.] BOOK IV. ()
- [THE TASK, A POEM, IN SIX BOOKS.] BOOK V. ()
- [THE TASK, A POEM, IN SIX BOOKS.] BOOK VI. ()
- TIROCINIUM. ()
- To the REV. MR. NEWTON. An Invitation into the Country. ()
- To the Rev. WILLIAM CAWTHORNE UNWIN. ()
- [Translation] 1. THE GLOW-WORM, ()
- [Translation] 2. THE JACK DAW. ()
- [Translation] 3. THE CRICKET. ()
- [Translation] 4. THE PARROT. ()
- TRUTH. ()
- VERSES, supposed to be written by ALEXANDER SELKIRK, during his solitary Abode in the Island of JUAN FERNANDEZ. ()
- THE WINTER NOSEGAY. ()