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-Formed by Nature, as by virtue form'd
To polish, to instruct, improve thy age:
To give to Poetry a sacred charm

Unfelt before, and in one hallow'd theme,
To blend the Seraph's with the Poet's fire!


WILLIAM COWPER was the eldest son of the Reverend John Cowper, Rector of Berkhampstead, in Hertfordshire, and was born at that place on the 15th of November, O. S. 1731. His family, which was ancient and respectable, was settled in Sussex in the reign of Edward the Fourth; and in 1641 Sir William Cowper was created a baronet, which dignity descended to his grandson, who left issue two sons. Sir Wiliam Cowper, the eldest, became Lord Keeper of the Great Seal to Queen Anne, by whom he was raised to the peerage, and by George the First was created Earl Cowper. Spenser Cow. per, the Earl's younger brother, was bred to the bar, and was made Justice of the Common Pleas in 1727. He had three sons, namely, William

Cowper, Clerk of the House of Lords; John, the father of the Poet; and Ashley Cowper, a barrister, and one of the Clerks of Parliament, who left two daughters his coheirs, of whom Harriet was the wife of Sir Thomas Hesketh.

The Reverend John Cowper, the second son of Judge Cowper, was chaplain in ordinary to the King, and married Ann, daughter of Roger Donne, of Ludham Hall, in Norfolk, Esq. a descendant, it is said, of the celebrated Dr. Donne, and by her had WILLIAM, the Poet, a son named John, who took orders, and other children who died young.

When in his sixth year Cowper lost his mother, who died in childbed, in 1737, an event which is presumed to have had a fatal influence on his happiness through life. The filial tenderness with which he revered her memory was manifested many years afterwards, on receiving her portrait, and in the affecting lines which he addressed to it. That poem contains also a pleasing notice of his childhood, and of his remembrance of his early home.

Soon after his mother's death he was sent to the school of Dr. Pitman, at Market Street, in Hertfordshire. In no instance was the error of not attending to the peculiar mental organization of a child before a particular plan of education

1 Hayley; but Cowper himself says, in a Memoir of his Early Life, that he was then sent to a considerable school in Bedfordshire.-8vo. 2nd Edit. 1816

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