94 THE SUSSEX COAST
being spent in reading the Scriptures or the sermons of some faithful preacher of those holy mysteries, working in the garden, singing hymns, attending divine service, which was performed twice every day, and finding pleasure in walking over the flat meadows by the Ouse, which the late Mrs. Bishop declared formed the most satisfying scenery she knew, after all her long travels. Perhaps the best general description of the book would be that it faintly recalls Boswell's Life of Johnson, but with all the really good things left out. There is the same sincere attachment to the Church, though in the age of Voltaire.
The character and life of Cowper are summed up in the following passage, which is among the few that are sufficiently concise to be quoted without abstracting about a dozen pages: " Thwarted in love, the native fire of his temperament turned impetuously into the kindred channel of devotion. The smothered flames of desire, uniting with the vapours of constitutional melancholy, and the fervency of religious zeal, produced altogether that irregularity of corporeal sensation, and of mental health, which gave such extraordinary vicissitudes of splendour, and of darkness, to his mortal career, and made Cowper at times an idol of the purest admiration, and at times an object of the sincerest pity."
A very large proportion of the work consists of Cowper's own letters, one of them, addressing a young kinsman on the point of taking orders, " sufficiently proves his attachment to the Church of England; and he speaks so decidedly on the subject, that certainly none of the sectaries have a right to reckon him in their number."
"By his zealous attention to the Scripture, ho