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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

159301 ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS.

1899.

PREFACE.

IT seems needless, if not impertinent, in an obscure individual, to say any thing in praise of the Author of the Task. It is of more consequence to inform the reader of the circumstances that have led to this publication. About, twenty years ago a very dear and venerable friend* introduced me to the truly great and amiable Mr. Cowper. This gave rise to a friendship which increased with every repeated interview, and for several years I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with him every week. At length this delightful intercourse was terminated, by his removal to a distant situation, and the painful approaches of that event which dissolves every social connexion.

One day amusing myself with the poetical works of the celebrated Madame Guion, I was struck with the peculiar beauty of some of her poems, as well as edified with the piety and devotion of which they are strongly expressive. I mentioned them to Mr. C; and partly to amuse a solitary hour, partly to keep in exercise the genius of this incomparable man, I requested him to put a few of the poems into an English dress. · Afterward, during my absence upon a journey, I received a letter, in which Mr. C. says, “I have but little leisure, strange as it may seem.

That little I devoted for a month after your departure to the translation of Mad. ame Guion. I have made fair copies of all the pieces I have produced on this last occasion, and will put them into your

* The Rev. John Newton, Rector of St. Mary's, Woolnoth, London.

hands when we meet. They are yours to serve as you please, you may take and leave as you like, for my purpose is al. ready served. They have amused me, and I have no further demand upon them.” On my return, Mr. C. presented me with these translations, to which he added the letter to a Protestant Lady in France, and the Poem on Friendship.

The idea of printing them was afterwards suggested to Mr. C. and he gave his full consent, intending to revise them before I should send them to press. Various circumstances prevented him from doing this; and the poems would prob. ably have still remained unpublished, if it had not been found that several copies of them had already got abroad. The Editor therefore had reason to believe, that they would otherwise have made their appearance in a state far less correct than if printed from the original manuscript. Nor can he imagine that ev in their present form, they will, on the whole, tend to diminish the well-deserved reputation of their excellent Author.

To infer that the peculiarities of Madame Guion's theo. logical sentiments, were adopted either by Mr. C. or by the Editor, would be almost as absurd as to suppose the inimit. able translator of Homer to have been a pagan. He reverenced her piety, admired her genius, and judged that several of her poems would be read with pleasure and edification by serious and candid persons.

I have taken the liberty to add the Stanzas subjoined to the Bills of Mortality, which had been published a few years past at Northampton ; and the Epitaph, which had appeared in a periodical publication. They sufficiently mark the genius of their Author, correspond with the other parts of this small volume, and have not before been printed in a uniform manner with his poems.

WILLIAM BULL. NEWPORT-PAGNEL, 6th June, 1801.

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