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WILLIAM COWPER, ESQ.
<©f tij* fniur CtmpU.
REV. T. GREATHEED.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
Printed by w. WILSON, *, Greville-Slreet,
FOR J. BUMPUS, HOLBORN BARS; SHARPE, KING-
LIFE OF COWPER.
A New edition of Cowper's Poems seems to require something new to be said respecting its admirable author; but so much has already appeared concerning him, that the subject must inevitably be exhausted; little more therefore remains for us to do, than to avail ourselves of the authentic materials, which have been scattered around us, and to place them in the most conspicuous point of view.
William Cowper was the son of the Rev. Dr. John Cowper, rector of Great Berkhampstead, in Hertfordshire, at which place he was born, on the 15th November, 1731. His mother was Anne, daughter of R. Donne, Esq. of Ludham Hall, Norfolk, who died in child-bed in 1737; and his father of a paralytic stroke in July, 1756. The issue of their marriage were five sons and two daughters, all of whom, except our author and his brother John, died in infancy. The pedigree of our meek and unassuming bard may be traced up to the first families in England, but it was his boast, not
'To have drawn his birth From loins unthroned and rulers of the earth, But higher far ' did his * pretensions rise :— The son of .parents passed into the skies!' VOL. I. A
Cowper commenced his education at the village day-school. He was but six years old when he lost Tiis beloved mother: after which he was removed, and placed under the care of Dr. Fitman, a few miles distant from the parsonage.
At eight years of age he was sent to London, and resided some time at the house of an eminent female oculist, for a complaint in his eyes; of which, however, the small-pox effectually relieved him. He exchanged his residence for Westminster School, which he left in 1749, with great classical attainments. He was shortly after articled for three years to a Mr. Chapman, an eminent solicitor in the metropolis. Legal studies, however, seemed to have few charms for him; and, according to his own confession to his biographer, Hayley, he spent the greater part of his time at the house of a near relation, and in the company of the future Lord Chancellor, Thurlow.
The term for which he was articled to Mr. Chapman having expired, he took chambers in the Inner Temple, where, instead of devoting himself to the dry study of the law, he enjoyed his literary leisure with his former companions and schoolfellows.
In the thirty-first year of his age, through the interest of friends, he procured a nomination to the offices of Reading Clerk, and Clerk of the private Committees, in the House of Lords; but the idea of a public exhibition of himself, in so conspicuous a situation, made such a deep impression on his excessively tender and delicate spirit, as utterly to disqualify him for it. His friends endeavoured to exchange this for a less irksome, though less lucrative,