He swam very strong: Cowper’s ‘The Castaway’ and the Voyage Account Tradition of Maritime Suffering

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The doubling at work in William Cowper’s shorter poems, through which he projects elements of his own emotional and indeed authorial self onto the characters (sometimes human, sometimes animal) of his verse, has long been noted. For example, Vincent Newey has pointed us to the way in which this doubling is at play in the poet’s final original poem ‘The Castaway’ (begun in 1799, only published posthumously in The Life and Posthumous Writings, 1803-4). Newey argues that the suffering mariner of the poem serves as a ‘dark double’ for Cowper’s own ‘feelings of lifelong affliction and approaching death’, whilst simultaneously offering him a form of ‘immortality’.1 He also reminds us that ‘The Castaway’ is a culmination of multiple experimentations with ideas about identification and semblance, some of which – for example ‘On the Loss of The Royal George’ (1782) – reveal an earlier interest in tales of maritime suffering and misadventure.2 This essay will consider the relationship between Cowper’s exploration of his own life as an ordeal in which he has suffered the rejection of God as elaborated in ‘The Castaway’, and the story of a mariner’s drowning at sea, told in A Voyage Round the World […] by George Anson (1748), which inspired it. In doing so I aim to highlight another form of doubling at work in the poem, between Cowper’s verse and the tradition of voyage literature that serves as its catalyst and inter-text. Shipwreck narratives and related accounts of maritime suffering and disaster were popular and commercially successful by the late eighteenth century.3 This textual tradition has been studied in detail by Carl Thompson, who argues that ‘Romantic-era readers […] encountered a degree of consistency and coherence in the way these situations are rendered’, with certain topoi and rhetorical conventions becoming commonplace in the genre. However,

The doubling at work in William Cowper’s shorter poems, through

which he projects elements of his own emotional and indeed authorial

self onto the characters (sometimes human, sometimes animal) of his

verse, has long been noted. For example, Vincent Newey has pointed us

to the way in which this doubling is at play in the poet’s final original

poem ‘The Castaway’ (begun in 1799, only published posthumously

in The Life and Posthumous Writings, 1803-4). Newey argues that the

suffering mariner of the poem serves as a ‘dark double’ for Cowper’s

own ‘feelings of lifelong affliction and approaching death’, whilst

simultaneously offering him a form of ‘immortality’.1 He also reminds

us that ‘The Castaway’ is a culmination of multiple experimentations

with ideas about identification and semblance, some of which – for

example ‘On the Loss of The Royal George’ (1782) – reveal an earlier

interest in tales of maritime suffering and misadventure.2 This essay will

consider the relationship between Cowper’s exploration of his own life

as an ordeal in which he has suffered the rejection of God as elaborated

in ‘The Castaway’, and the story of a mariner’s drowning at sea, told in

A Voyage Round the World […] by George Anson (1748), which inspired

it. In doing so I aim to highlight another form of doubling at work in the

poem, between Cowper’s verse and the tradition of voyage literature

that serves as its catalyst and inter-text.

Shipwreck narratives and related accounts of maritime suffering

and disaster were popular and commercially successful by the late

eighteenth century.3 This textual tradition has been studied in detail by

Carl Thompson, who argues that ‘Romantic-era readers […] encountered

a degree of consistency and coherence in the way these situations are

rendered’, with certain topoi and rhetorical conventions becoming

commonplace in the genre. However, Thompson also draws attention

to the fact that these volumes brought diverse contemporary discourses

together, sometimes uneasily. Readers were encouraged to understand

the suffering of mariners and shipwreck victims through the framework

43

of providentialism, but also, variously and sometimes simultaneously,

through rationalism, scepticism, and sentimentalism.4 Cowper’s ‘The

Castaway’, itself inspired by a prose voyage narrative, both draws upon

and complicates the familiar elements of this tradition; Cowper employs

rhythms and patterns of poetic language and imagery to elaborate and

subvert the narrative structures found elsewhere.

As Charles Ryskamp argues, ‘The image of the castaway is the most

persistent metaphor in Cowper’s work’, and Cowper’s first interest in it

‘must have come originally from the Authorized Version of the Bible’.5

Cowper’s final and most powerful exploration of this subject was ‘The

Castaway’, one of the poems in the ‘Norfolk MSS’,6 the details of which

are prompted not by the Bible, but by a passage in A Voyage Round the

World by George Anson (1748), which was read to him by his friend John

Johnson.7 Generally attributed to Richard Walter, who was the chaplain

on the Centurion, the flagship of Anson’s fleet and the ship from which

the castaway fell, the work was actually written by Benjamin Robins

‘who never sailed on the voyage’ but who, Glyndwr Williams argues,

essentially ‘ghosted’ Anson’s account.8 As the careful archival work

of Williams has demonstrated, A Voyage Round the World by George

Anson was the most successful of a number of textual responses to, and

imaginings of, the voyage of Anson and his squadron:

Descriptions of the voyage appeared in newspapers and periodicals; doggerel

verses and popular ballads were composed in Anson’s honour; unofficial

accounts of the voyage were published soon after the expedition’s return; and

in 1748 an authorised narrative appeared under the name of the Centurion’s

chaplain, Richard Walter. A Voyage Round the World by George Anson was

a best-seller; it ran through five editions within a year, fifteen by 1776, and

appeared in countless versions in the great eighteenth-century collections of

voyages and travels.9

When, a little over a year before his death, Cowper meditated upon

the last hour in the life of a drowning and wretched seaman who was

both like and unlike himself, he therefore contributed to what had

become one of the best-known stories of maritime misadventure during

Britain’s war with Spain, already over half a century in the telling.

As a number of commentators have demonstrated, by employing the

story of the mariner swept overboard, borrowed from Anson’s account,

44

Cowper sets himself adrift in a poetic space which powerfully conflates

abandonment by the drowning mariner’s crew with the poet’s sense of

being discarded by God. In this sense it is an intensely personal piece,

dependent for its power on the sublime setting of the ocean in which

the individual is absolutely alone, exploring his physical, emotional and

also, importantly, intellectual response to imminent death. However,

it should also be remembered that for many readers familiar with the

historical circumstances that ultimately stimulated Cowper’s work,

there would also be other frameworks of understanding through which

the poem might be processed: ‘there were evidently many Romanticera

readers steeped in accounts of shipwreck, and well versed in the

various situations and scenarios that these disasters could involve’.10

‘The Castaway’ might be read through the ‘master narratives’ of the

eighteenth-century shipwreck account tradition generally, but also, more

particularly, via the tragic accounts of ill-fated circumstance and human

loss on a mass scale which permeate the accounts of Anson’s voyage

told elsewhere.11

The first and second stanzas of ‘The Castaway’ emphasise the plight

of the overboard mariner by lamenting his irretrievable dislocation

from home, nostalgically figured first as his ship (the Centurion) and

second as his nation, ‘Albion’ (l. 7).12 Newey, noting the periphrastic

nature of ‘floating home’ (l. 6), has described it as a ‘telling image of an

existence, like Cowper’s own, in which rest and stability were always

more apparent than real’.13 It is worth noting the contrast here with Book

I of The Task, in which the ‘hoary head’ of Britain’s coastline signals

safety to the mariner ‘Bound homeward, and in hope already there’

(in turn juxtaposed with the very different fate of the sailor mourned

by ‘craz’d’ Kate, who ‘went to sea and died’) (ll. 520, 522, 556 and

538).14 The early reference in ‘The Castaway’ to the embarkation of

the Centurion from the British coast would be particularly poignant

for a reader familiar with the authorised account of Anson’s voyage.

The moment of departure, which is framed in terms of love and warm

wishes in the poem, had, in the official account of the voyage that John

Johnson read aloud to Cowper, been marked out as the ‘fatal source

of all the misfortunes we afterwards encountered’.15 Severe delays had

meant a ‘too late departure from England’,16 with the consequence that

45

Anson’s fleet lost the military advantage of surprise and had to try to

round Cape Horn in ‘the improper season’ – the ‘southern hemisphere

Autumn’ when ‘equinoctial gales were at their fiercest’.17 Cowper

untethers the individual mariner’s experiences from those practical

realities that were seen to have had such fateful consequences for

Anson’s entire fleet. This is but one example of the general impulse in

the poem to subsume the individual and historical particularities of the

mariner’s tale for the purpose of a wider narrative trajectory that reads

his plight metonymically for the suffering of the poet/speaker. There are

a number of similarities between the authorised prose account and the

poem, however. Like the poem, the Voyage does not name the drowned

mariner and, as in Cowper’s verse, the account of his demise is powerful

because of the fact that it serves to reveal another and supposedly more

significant narrative. In the Voyage, the drowning of the castaway sailor

is just one of a litany of disasters to befall the Centurion and the wider

fleet, which included diseases such as dysentery, typhus, malaria and

scurvy.18 In the text’s first mention of the mariner who falls overboard,

generally overlooked by critics who make reference to Cowper’s source

text, the castaway himself is presented as just one of many men injured

or killed in the height of the storms:

many of our people were forced from their hold; some of whom were killed,

and others greatly injured; in particular, one of our best seamen was canted

over-board and drowned, another dislocated his neck, a third was thrown into

the main-hold and broke his thigh, and one of our Boatswain’s Mates broke

his collar bone twice; not to mention many accidents of the same kind.19

The individual castaway who ultimately sparked the suffering

imagination of Cowper is, in A Voyage Round the World, just one

briefly acknowledged victim of an experience of maritime suffering that

is communal. His plight is not individualised; many experienced the

‘same’. His story forms part of a wider narrative patterning that can be

aligned with what Thompson describes as ‘Providentialist frameworks

of explication’,20 which trace the experiences of the crew of Anson’s

fleet through suffering, despair and hope, towards a fragile notion of

salvation.

‘The Castaway’ is permeated by oxymorons and contraries. The

confluence between the metre of the poem and the implied motion of the

46

waves has been described elsewhere,21 and the ambiguities throughout

the poem extend that sense of flux and mutability. The mariner has

‘waged with Death a lasting strife / Supported by despair of life’ (ll.

17-18), which endows despair with a strange buoyancy that anticipates

the description of the drowning man’s courage and strength of spirit

three stanzas later. Resignation to Death supplies the strength to fight it.

The enjambment in these lines extends their potential meaning beyond

this moment of extreme strife in the water, however; the term ‘lasting’

suggests that the protagonist’s battle with Death is enduring. We are

reminded of the way in which these moments of crisis in the ocean

might seem like hours, a reference to the trickery and elasticity of time,

which recurs later in the poem. The ambiguity here also leaves room

for the reader to map the moments of distress experienced by Anson’s

crewman onto the long historic struggles with despair of the poem’s

speaker. Similarly open to interpretation are the lines which narrate the

actions of the crew who watch yet cannot save their friend. The notion

of abandonment seems implicit in the lines ‘They left their outcast mate

behind, / And scudded still before the wind’ (ll. 23-4). Yet the poem

as a whole poses questions about the relationship of those sailors to

their drowning shipmate, and about their capacity for action. The phrase

‘scudded still’ suggests action without motion, and implies the effort

required by the men just to maintain their position in the face of the storm.

The ultimate stillness of that image contrasts with the later association

of the crew with ‘haste’ and ‘flight’ from the scene of crisis. The actions

of the other crew members are cast as self-preservation – ‘flight in such

a sea / Alone could rescue them’ (ll. 33-4). However, despite the fact that

the drowning mariner cannot ‘condemn’ their behaviour, this stanza’s

emphasis on the idea of abandonment – underscored through the primacy

of the term ‘Deserted’ at the beginning of the last line – passes its own

judgement. The awful irony here is again achieved through the coupling

of contraries – the closeness of the friends who are ‘so nigh’ yet leave

the man in the water feeling ‘bitter’ and utterly alone (ll. 35-6).

The ambiguous world of Cowper’s castaway can be aligned with

voyage narratives discussed by Carl Thompson, such as those by George

Shelvocke and John Byron, which disrupt the providential patterns in

accounts found elsewhere, by authors including Cowper’s friend John

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Newton.22 Such texts, Thompson argues, take on the uncertainty of the

location and circumstances narrated:

The world of these misadventurers thus starts to seem doubly untrustworthy.

Not only does the narrative evoke the experience of moving through a strange,

indecipherable environment, but it becomes itself such an environment, full

of indeterminacies: the reader too can feel at sea in the texts.23

In Cowper’s case, the indeterminate world of the poem offers what

seems a deliberate reconceptualization of the account of events narrated

in the source text. Whereas the poem’s opening stanza suggests that the

unfortunate ‘wretch’ has been ‘Wash’d headlong from on board’ as a

result of the tumultuous weather (ll. 3-4), the prose text suggests his fate

is a direct consequence of decisions made on ship to ride out the storm:

[…] as we dared not venture any sail abroad, we were obliged to make use

of an expedient, which answered our purpose; this was putting the helm

a weather, and manning the fore-shrouds: But though this method proved

successful for the end intended, yet in the execution of it, one of our ablest

sea-man [sic] was canted over-board; we perceived that notwithstanding the

prodigious agitation of the waves, he swam very strong, and it was with the

utmost concern that we found ourselves incapable of assisting him … 24

Cowper seems unwilling to acknowledge that the mariner’s fate might

be the result of human decisions and actions. Instead he is cast as the

victim of greater and more arbitrary forces. The prose voyage account,

like Cowper’s later poem, emphasises the strength of the mariner.

However, whereas Anson’s account suggests that the crew were

‘incapable of assisting’ their overboard friend, Cowper in fact imagines

a more active role for the men; they throw ‘The cask, the coop, the

floated cord’ (l. 27) into the water in an effort to offer ‘succour’ (l. 25).

This is an important recalibration of events, which shifts attention from

the castaway’s fellow shipmates’ culpability in his demise, and turns

instead to consider whether they do all they can in order to save him.

As such, Cowper’s poem contributes to wider contemporary discussions

about what it means to witness disaster, as, for example exemplified

by Cowper’s contemporary William Gilpin. In Observations on the

Western Parts of England, published in 1798, the year before Cowper

began work on ‘The Castaway’, Gilpin describes coastal communities

who carry the burden of having to observe shipwrecks in circumstances

48

in which assistance is futile. Discussing wrecks off the Isle of Wight

coast, he writes that ‘Signals can be of no use; yet they [the inhabitants

of the coastline] make what signals they can to point out the danger’.25

As in Cowper’s poem, where the objects thrown out to the drowning

mariner merely delay his inevitable death, the actions of the observers

are redundant ones, and merely emphasise their powerlessness.

In Gilpin’s account of shipwreck, imagined through the observation

of mainland inhabitants, the painful clarity with which the onlookers

understand the tragedy about to unfold before them is contrasted with

the ignorance of the seamen who do not know the danger they are

in. A similar sense of distance and difference is established in ‘The

Castaway’, between the individual mariner and wider society. That

distance is established through the loss of sensory understanding and

connection. He will never see Anson or Albion again (l. 12), and the

final moment in which the castaway is overwhelmed by the waves is

distinguished by the fact that his voice can no longer be heard by his

friends: ‘His comrades […] Could catch the sound no more’ (ll. 44 and

46). In the critical discourse of travel, Cowper has in many ways become

synonymous with visual supremacy, via another castaway narrative, the

‘Verses, Supposed to be Written by Alexander Selkirk’ (1782).26 The

opening line of the poem in which Selkirk declares himself to be the

‘monarch of all I survey’ has become a term used to identify a set-piece

scene in travel description, in which a European traveller describes the

place they have travelled to as observed from a high viewing point. The

declaration of absolute visual cognition made in such pieces of prospect

description are frequently found to serve a colonial agenda which

assumes the traveller’s social and moral superiority over the landscape,

and by implication the people, they ‘survey’.27 Yet, Selkirk’s imagined

declaration in Cowper’s poem is, of course, poignantly ironic: ‘Better

dwell in the midst of alarms, / Than reign in this horrible place’ (ll.

7-8). There is significant ‘refiguring of authority’ here in relation to the

politics of vision, which Tim Fulford notes is also present in Cowper’s

‘undercutting’ of the ‘assumption of authority’ prevalent in the prospect

view as developed by James Thomson.28 And in ‘The Castaway’, the

poet subverts the authority of vision further, which is correlative with a

shift in narrative agency as Cowper moves from the castaway as speaker

49

in his Selkirk poem, to the castaway as narrated by another in his final

original work. The mariner at the centre of the narrative is sinking rather

than elevated, and he is wrapped in ‘Obscurest night’ (l. 1). He is in

many ways defined by what he will never see again.

Loss of sensory perception and understanding is central to the

development of the theme of absolute isolation – physical, social,

spiritual – which reverberates through the stanzas of ‘The Castaway’. The

language of negation which is used repeatedly and persistently through

the poem reinforces that sense of an individual life being incrementally

delimited and denied. Together, there are sixteen instances of ‘no’, ‘nor’

or ‘not’ in the poem. In some cases their use serves to emphasise what

is irretrievably lost to the mariner in his final moments: ‘But He, they

knew, nor ship nor shore, / Whate’er they gave, should visit more’ (ll.

29-30). In others, the use of negators obscures positive action, and casts

the mariner in ambiguous and strange terms:

Not long beneath the whelming brine

Expert to swim, he lay,

Nor soon he felt his strength decline

Or courage die away … (ll. 13-16)

The physical strength and courage of the seaman is here defamiliarised

through the use of ‘not’ and ‘nor’ which gain emphasis through their startof-

line placing, and through the connection of the ‘brine’/’decline’ rhyme.

Whilst the reader is reassured that the castaway is not overwhelmed by

the waves, his (temporary) survival is nevertheless expressed in terms

that demand us to imagine an alternative version of events in which

he is. This duality creates tension and anxiety: whilst reading of the

courageous man’s battle to survive we are already painfully aware of that

other possibility, that he is subsumed, which in turn would be a narrative

theme familiar to those readers accustomed to the popular prose voyage

account tradition. The persistence of such negators into the final stanzas

of the poem, which turn to consider the supposedly superior suffering

of the speaker/poet, underscores the doubling of the unnamed sailor and

Cowper himself. In the final stanza the absence of God is expressed in

terms of a lack of sensory cognition: ‘No voice divine the storm allay’d,

/ No light propitious shone’ (ll. 61-2). The reader knows those negations

50

by this point: they echo back across the poem’s seascape. The lack of

‘divine’ voice (l. 61) reminds us of the castaway’s voice being lost to

his ‘comrades’ (ll. 44-46). The absence of light takes us all the way

back to the first line of the poem which situates the action of the poem

in ‘Obscurest night’. Those rhythms in the poem justify the claim to

‘semblance’ made by the speaker. Providential frameworks of narrative

might be absent here, but in their place are alternative patterns: of loss

and limitation.

The poem traces the slow death of the castaway in terms of severed

social and personal connections, and a physical environment which

closes in upon and finally subsumes him. Yet ‘The Castaway’ also offers

a counter-narrative to that language of limitation and denial, elaborated

through the complex temporal movements of the poem. Taken as a whole,

‘The Castaway’ broadly follows a chronological progression, tracing the

demise of Anson’s crewman. That trajectory is cut through in a number

of ways, however. The poem opens with the moment when the mariner

is washed overboard in the Atlantic, yet in the second stanza reflects

back upon his embarkation, with Anson’s fleet, from the British coast. It

also lays the present-time of Cowper’s speaker (which it is tempting to

align with the poet’s own temporal moment of writing in 1799) on top of

the events of March 1741. Elsewhere, time both expands and contracts

within the space of a single stanza:

He long survives who lives an hour

In ocean, self-upheld;

And so long he with unspent pow’r

His destiny repell’d,

And ever, as the minutes flew,

Entreated help, or cried, Adieu! (ll. 37-42)

The speaker of the poem demands that we acknowledge the alternative

temporality of this dying man: an hour in the ocean is presented as a

significant period of survival. The repetition of ‘long’, reinforced by the

word’s reoccurrence on rhyming lines (which are the longer, tetrameter,

lines of the stanza), elaborates the idea of time being extended. This

expansive temporality is curtailed in the rhyming couplet, however, as

time gathers pace again – ‘the minutes flew’ (l. 41) – and the castaway’s

51

cry brings an urgent close. These examples demonstrate the temporal

fluctuations in the poem, which speak to the movements of the water

within which the mariner flounders. Cowper’s portrayal of the slow,

drawn-out time of the ‘proverbially eternal “hour” (l. 37) of the

drowning man’29 contrasts markedly with many prose voyage accounts

in which drownings are narrated quickly, and often ‘without explanation

or reflection’.30 A Voyage Round the World only offers a brief lament for

the man washed overboard, before moving on to discuss the damage

caused to the ship by the storm:

indeed we were the more grieved at his unhappy fate, as we lost sight of

him struggling with the waves, and conceived from the manner in which he

swam, that he might continue sensible for a considerable time longer, of the

horror attending his irretrievable situation.31

The inspiration for many of the motifs in Cowper’s poem is clear here,

yet unlike ‘The Castaway’, the voyage account quickly loses sight of the

man overboard, just as his crewmates lost sight of him in the darkness.

After the temporal fluctuations which have characterised the telling of

the castaway’s story, in the final stanzas of the poem the speaker denies

any intention of extending the moment of the mariner’s suffering:

I, therefore, purpose not or dream,

Descanting on his fate,

To give the melancholy theme

A more enduring date … (ll. 55-8)

Yet again, however, the use of ‘not’ here reminds us of the possibility

that extending the life and memory of this man through verse might

have been precisely the intention of the poet. As Newey has argued,

whilst claiming that he has not written an elegy that is ‘of course, in

a sense’, exactly what Cowper has done.32 Patricia Meyer Spacks has

noted that the analogy between the speaker and the sailor is introduced

in line 3, but only picked up again in line 59. The space in between, she

argues, creates sympathy for the victim of this maritime misadventure.33

When the self-reflective turn in the poem’s ending does come, ushered

in by the suggestion of ‘semblance’ between the speaker and his subject,

the connection between the two men is severed almost as soon as it is

made:

52

When, snatch’d from all effectual aid,

We perish’d, each, alone;

But I, beneath a rougher sea,

And whelm’d in deeper gulphs than he. (ll. 63-6)

Ultimately, it seems, the ‘difference between himself and the marinercastaway

becomes more important that the similarity’.34 It could also be

said that the claim to superior suffering on the part of the poem’s speaker

(his sea is ‘rougher’ and the ‘gulphs’ ‘deeper’) echoes the conventions

of maritime accounts in which the particular voyage being narrated is

presented as more difficult or dangerous than any other. This is how

the ordeal experienced by Anson and his crew is depicted in the Walter/

Robins account: ‘the distresses with which we struggled, during the

three succeeding months, will not easily be paralleled in the relation of

any former naval expedition’.35

To read ‘The Castaway’ alongside the prose account in which it

originates, and to consider Cowper’s poetic rendering of maritime

suffering alongside the popular voyage narrative tradition with which

many readers would be familiar, is to recognise a complex relationship

of both assimilation and rejection. Furthermore, reading it in those terms

acknowledges and responds to the way in which the poem actively

encourages readers to remember their own material encounter with

earlier versions of the story. The closing stanzas of the poem present

the mariner’s fate as one that has been inscribed in other texts. They

sentimentally evoke the emotional responses of readers, embodied in the

figure of Anson himself, who weep at his demise as recorded on those

other pages: ‘but the page / Of narrative sincere /That tells his name,

his worth, his age, / Is wet with Anson’s tear,’ (ll.49-52). The drowning

sailor is an inevitably common topos of many accounts of shipwreck,

or maritime misadventure more generally. However, by placing

the individual, drowning man at the centre of his poem, rather than

including him in a description of group catastrophe in which many men

experience the ‘same’ suffering, Cowper offers a sustained individual

perspective that is firmly denied to readers of those other texts. The

poem also fundamentally questions what it means to be a survivor. Carl

Thompson has explored the way in which voyage accounts, generally

narrated by ‘a figure who has survived the disasters and misadventures

53

described’, ultimately offer readers an ‘emblem of the enduring self’,

who ultimately ‘gains from its trauma’, often through the attainment of

‘profound insight and knowledge’.36 The authorised narrative of Anson’s

voyage was presented to readers as just such an account, supposedly

authored by Richard Walter the chaplain of the Centurion, who unlike

the castaway sailor safely returned home. The speaker of Cowper’s poem

is also a survivor of sorts. Despite the claim that he has experienced

worse storms and more tumultuous seas than the eponymous mariner

of his title, he lives on and writes the poem that remembers the other,

unnamed, man. What sort of survival is this though? The speaker of ‘The

Castaway’ has already ‘perish’d’ along with the sailor. If the voyage

accounts discussed by Thompson are ultimately written in order to attest

to survival, then this verse appears authored to confirm that death has

already taken place, and has been welcomed.

Copyright

All articles are subject to copyright

Footnotes

The Cowper and Newton Journal includes scholarly articles, notes and reviews on Cowper, Newton and their contemporaries, as well as more general articles from the 18th century.

Joint Editors

Professor Vincent NeweyTony SewardDr William Hutchings

Editorial Board:

Dr Ashley Chantler (University of Chester), Dr Michael Davies (University of Liverpool), Kate Bostock (Museum Trustee), Professor Martha J. Koehler (University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, PA), Professor Bob Owens (University of Bedfordshire).

Reviews Editor: Tony Seward

The predecessor to The Cowper and Newton Journal was The Cowper and Newton Bulletin.  Published in 8 volumes from 2002-2009, it contained museum news in each issue as well as one or more full-length scholarly articles and shorter notes.

References

1 Vincent Newey, ‘Cowper Prospects: Self, Nature, Society’, in Romanticism

and Religion from William Cowper to Wallace Stevens, ed. Gavin Hopps and

Jane Stabler (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), 41-56; 53.

2 Newey, ‘Cowper Prospects’, 42-3.

3 See Carl Thompson, The Suffering Traveller and the Romantic Imagination

(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007), 61-2.

4 Thompson, 62 and Chapter 2 more generally.

5 Charles Ryskamp, ed, William Cowper, The Castaway: the Text of the Original

Manuscript and the First Printing of Cowper’s Latin Translation (Princeton,

NJ: Princeton University Library, 1963), 9-10.

6 Ryskamp’s edition of The Castaway reproduced the manuscript.

7 Vincent Newey, Cowper’s Poetry: A Critical Study and Reassessment

(Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1982), 276. John D. Baird and Charles

Ryskamp suggest that ‘it seems likely that he read it [A Voyage] before his

breakdown in 1763’, although there is no evidence to confirm this. See their

note to William Cowper, ‘The Cast-away’, in The Poems of William Cowper,

ed. Baird and Ryskamp, Vol. III: 1785-1800 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995),

p. 358.

8 Glyndwr Williams, ‘Preface’ to Documents Relating to Anson’s Voyage Round

the World, 1740-1744, ed. Glyndwr Williams (London and Colchester: Navy

Records Society, 1967), vii.

54

9 Williams, ‘Preface’ to Documents Relating to Anson’s Voyage, vii.

10 Thompson, 62.

11 This despite the fact that there was, ultimately, a success to be celebrated – the

squadron’s capture of the Acupulco treasure galleon. See Glyndwr Williams,

The Great South Sea: English Voyages and Encounters, 1570-1750 (New

Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997), 242-5.

12 William Cowper, ‘The Castaway’, in The Poems of William Cowper, ed. Baird

and Ryskamp, III, 214-16.

13 Newey, Cowper’s Poetry, 275.

14 Cowper, The Task, in Baird and Ryskamp, Poems, II. 130-31.

15 Richard Walter [Benjamin Robins], A Voyage Round the World, in the Years

MDCCXL, I, II, III, IV, by George Anson, Esq. (London, 1748), p.84. Due to

the complications around the authorship of this text, subsequent references to

the work will be by title only.

16 A Voyage Round the World, 84.

17 A Voyage Round the World, 84; and Williams, The Great South Sea, 223.

18 See Williams, The Great South Sea, 223-5.

19 A Voyage Round the World, 77.

20 Thompson, 72.

21 For example see Newey, Cowper’s Poetry, 305.

22 See Thompson, 76-8, for a discussion of Newton’s Authentic Narrative of

Some Remarkable and Interesting Particulars in the Life of ***** (1764).

23 Thompson, 93.

24 A Voyage Round the World, 79-80.

25 William Gilpin, Observations on the Western Parts of England, Relative chiefly

to Picturesque Beauty. To which are added, a Few Remarks on the Picturesque

Beauties of the Isle of Wight (London, 1798), 342. For more detailed

discussion of Gilpin’s treatment of this topic, see Zoë Kinsley, ‘William Gilpin

at the Coast: A New Perspective on Picturesque Travel Writing’, in The Review

of English Studies 68: 284 (2017), 322-41.

26 Cowper, ‘Verses, Supposed to be Written by Alexander Selkirk, During his

Solitary Abode in the Island of Juan Fernandez’, in Baird and Ryskamp,

Poems, I. 403-4.

27 For the origins of this critical utilisation of the line from Cowper’s poem, see

Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (1992),

2nd edn (London and New York: Routledge, 2008).

28 Tim Fulford, Landscape, Liberty and Authority: Poetry, Criticism and Politics

from Thomson to Wordsworth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,

1996), 38-9.

55

29 Newey, Cowper’s Poetry, 271.

30 Thompson, 92-3.

31 A Voyage Round the World, 79-80.

32 Newey, Cowper’s Poetry, 310.

33 Patricia Meyer Spacks, Reading Eighteenth-Century Poetry (Malden, MA;

Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2009), 264.

34 Newey, Cowper’s Poetry, 310.

35 A Voyage Round the World, 77.

36 Thompson, 106.

Book Museum Tickets

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