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THE LIFE

WILLIAM COWPER, Esq.

[graphic]

THE

LIFE OF WILLIAM COWPER.

CHAPTER I.

His parentageLoss of his motherPoetic description of her characterFirst schoolCruelty he experienced thereFirst serious impressionsIs placed under the care of an eminent oculistEntrance upon Westminster SchoolCharacter while thereRemoval thenceEntrance upon an attorney's officeWant of employment thereUnfitness for his professionEarly melancholy impressions.

William Cowper was born at Great Berkhamstead, in Hertfordshire, November 15, 1731. His father, Dr. John Cowper, chaplain to King George the Second, was the second son of Spencer Cowper, who was Chief Justice of Cheshire, and afterwards a Judge in the Court of Common Pleas, and whose brother William, first Earl Cowper, was, at the same time, Lord High Chancellor of England. His mother was Anne, daughter of Roger Donne, Esq. of Ludham Hall, Norfolk, who had a common ancestry with the celebrated Dr. Donne, Dean of St. Paul's.

In reference to this lady, it has been justly observed, by one of the poet's best biographers, "That the highest blood in the realm flowed in the veins of the modest and unassuming Cowper; his mother having descended through the families of Hippesley of Throughley, in Sussex, and Pellet, of Bolney, in the same county, from the several noble houses of West, Knollys, Carey, Bullen, Howard, and Mowbray, and so, by four different lines, from Henry the Third, King of E ngland." Though, as the same writer properly remarks, "distinctions of this nature can shed no additional lustre on the memory of Cowper, yet genius, however exalted, dis

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