. . . that maniacal Calvinist and coddled poet.
BYRON of COWPER
I have found what I have been looking for all my life, a poet whom I can read on a Sunday, and whose whole writings I can recommend to my young and my female friends, without restriction or exception. HANNAH MORE of COWPER2
IT occurred to Cowper, during a fairly calm moment in his despair, that his cousin, Martin Madan, might be able to help him. Cowper had become preoccupied with thoughts about the unpardonable sin and damnation. His depression now centred almost exclusively on religious problems. Madan, trained like Cowper at Westminster School and in the law, had been converted by John Wesley from a deep-drinking all-night reveller at the Poetical Club2 to one of the most dramatic Methodist preachers in London. He spoke to huge gatherings, like one 'baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire, fervent in spirit'.3 William had previously found the Evangelical Madan irksome,4 but now he came as a comforter. He had a 'fine voice and something gracefull and pathetick in his manner'; he could also speak with fury to wrest the despondent from their terrors: 'Like Boanerges, a son of Thunder, he proclaimed the law from the flaming mountain; and from the summit of Zion's hill he appeared a Barnabas, a son of consolation. . . . his countenance was majestic, open, and engaging, and his looks____________________