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to prepare a rival edition to Southey's. Both works therefore came out almost together. Grimshawe's contained the copyright correspondence, but beyond this had no merit. Southey, debarred from printing the correspondence, wove the gist of it into his biographical narrative. There was some disadvantage iv this, for it sometimes makes his narrative long and tedious. As soon as thf copyright in the Private Correspondence ceased it was placed at the end of Southey's edition as a supplement.
Since Southey's there have been many lives written, the only ones calling for special remark being those of Robert Bell and of Mr. John Bruce. The latter is prefixed to the Aldine Edition. Though it proves that he had taken great pains with his subject, and is written in a vigorous, tasteful style, it does not contain much that is new. But he had collected much fresh matter in the way of letters, which he was preparing to publish when his lamented death took place suddenly, in the autumn of 1869.
Great light has been thrown upon some of the most difficult passages in Cowper's life by a series of papers in the Sunday at Home (1866) by the Rev. William Bull, of Newport-Pagnell. The same gentleman has also published the life of his grandfather, Josiah Bull, one of Cowper's intimate friends, and "Memorials of John Newton" (Religious Tract Society, 1869). I have largely availed myself of the facts which he has brought to light; they will be noticed in their proper place.
The present edition contains some new and interesting matter.
 Some lines written on the margin of the Monthly Review. My authority for them is an anonymous correspondent of the Record newspaper of Feb. 20, 1867. Minute examination leaves no doubt of their genuineness. P. 356, and note.
 "To a Young Lady, with a Present of two Cockscombs." P. 347.  "To a Lady who wore a Lock of his Hair." P. 355.
For the two last we are indebted to Mr. Charles Stuart. The MSS. are pasted inside the lid of an edition of 1793, which was given to him by Mrs. Lyon. She vouched for their genuineness, having received them from the Rev. J. A. Knight, to whom they had been given by Lady Austen. The former of them had already reached Mr. Bruce from another source, which is of course an additional proof of genuineness. Of the deep interest attaching to the last piece I have spoken in the Memoir, p. liv.
The arrangement of the Poems in the present edition is as follows :— I. Those written in youth, comprising No. n, as above named, along with a few others (indicated in the Notes), taken from other sources, but placed here as belonging to the same period. This division occupies pp. 1-23 of the present volume.
2. The Olney Hymns, pp. 24-44.
3. The first published volume, pp. 45-179.
4. The second published volume, pp. 181-309.
5. Poems added by the Author in' later editions of his works, pp. 311-325.
6. Poems written in middle and later life, but never published by the Author among his works, pp. 327-400.
7. Translations, pp. 403-512.
No notes are placed at the foot of the page, except those that were written by the Author himself. It was thought better to put my own Notes at the end, so as to present an unbroken page—easy to do in this case, because, except in the translations from Milton, there are few recondite allusions in Cowper's works. But I hope it will be found that all needful explanations have been given, and that the Notes are more complete than in any other edition. I have not burdened them with discussion of every variation in reading, only naming these in special cases. But all the editions have been most scrupulously and carefully collated, and each reading has been duly weighed.
In my frequent references to Macaulay's Essays and Mahon's (Lord Stanhope's) History, necessary to explain Cowper's allusions, it may save time to mention that I have always used the "People's Edition" of Macaulay, and the "Cabinet" of Mahon.
Both by father and mother Cowper was of gentle blood. His father's family is traced back without interruption to the time of Edward IV., when the Cowpers were possessors of land at Strode, in the parish of Slinfold, in Sussex. His mother was Ann, daughter of Roger Donne of Ludham Hall, Norfolk, of the same family as Dr. Donne, the Dean of St. Paul's, and said to be "descended through four different lines from King Henry III."*
A younger member of the Cowper family, leaving Strode in the possession of his elder brother, settled in London in the reign of Henry VIII., married an heiress, Margaret Spencer, and bought an estate at Nonington, in Kent. His son John,f Alderman of London, who died in 1609, was the father of Sir William, the first baronet. Sir William is noteworthy for his love and reverence for Hooker, "his spiritual father," as Walton calls him. It was he who erected the monument to the great divine in Bishopsbourne Church, and composed the epitaph for it, which will not be out of place here.
"Though nothing can be spoke worthy his fame,
Sir William was an ardent Churchman and Royalist, and was imprisoned with his son John during the Commonwealth. The latter died in prison, leaving an * Johnson's Memoir, p. xii.
t Up to this time the name was spelt Cooper, and it has never been pronounced otherwise by the family. He altered it, probably in affectation of the Norman spelling "Cupere," or "Coupre," as the names appear in the roll of Battle Abbey. Many ofthe family, however, retained the old spelling for some time after. In Lord Campbell's Life of Chancellor Cowper, we have one or two letters signed "Wm. Cooper."
infant son, who on Sir William's death in 1664 succeeded to the title, and by his marriage with one Sarah Holled became father of two sons, William and Spencer. The former became Lord Chancellor, and an Earl, in 1706. Spencer having been tried for murder and acquitted,* became Chief Justice of Chester, and a Judge of the Common Pleas. He died in 1728, leaving three sons, William, John, and Ashley, and several daughters. One of these married Colonel Madan, and became the mother of Martin Madan, whose name will occur several times in this volume, and of Frances Maria, who married her cousin Major Cowper, and became one of Cowper's constant correspondents.
The second of the three sons became the Rev. John Cowper, Chaplain to King George II., and Rector of Great Berkhamstead. He married Ann Donne; and at the rectory (or as her son afterwards called it, "the pastoral house") she gave birth to the future poet on the 26th of November (o. s. 15th), 1731. The house was pulled down to make room for a new rectory about thirty years ago. His parents had five other children, all of whom died in infancy except John. He lived until manhood, but his birthday was a heavy day for Berkhamstead parsonage. The mother died at the age of thirty-four.f It was the 14th of November, 1737. William therefore was just six years old. In what sacred remembrance the gentle child held her love and care of him we shall find in more than one passage of his life. When heavy clouds gathered round his spirit in years after, and seemed altogether to hide the blessing of God from him, the image of his mother remained clear in his memory, one bright spot which told him that there was a Heaven above. The gift of her picture, which he received fifty-three years after her death, gave him the occasion to pour out all his love and gratitude in what is probably the most touching elegy in the English language.
The death of his mother, generally the heaviest loss which a child can have, was a more than ordinary calamity here. He was delicate in body, sensitive and nervous in mind. His father, zealous towards his flock, and, according to his son's testimony, labouring to do them good, appears not to have understood his child's extreme need of sympathy and care. Within a year of his mother's death the poor boy was sent to school at a Dr. Pitman's, at Markyate Street, a straggling, unattractive village between St. Alban's and I Dunstable. There he remained for two years, the victim of systematic bullying from some of his school companions. His shyness, sensibility, ill-health, were all converted into means of tormenting him. There was one boy in particular who persecuted him so relentlessly that Cowper writes in his autobiography, "I had such a dread of him, that I did not dare lift my eyes to his face. I
* Lord Campbell gives the case at length (Chancellors, iv. 260). He decides that the verdict was a righteous one, though the case was not without suspicion. Macaulay (History of England, chapter xxv.) holds the charge to be absolutely groundless, got up out of nothing but political spite.
t She is buried within the altar-rails of Berkhamstead Church.
knew him best by his shoe-buckle." This cruelty was at length discovered, the brute was expelled, and Cowper was removed from the school.
Meanwhile another trouble had fallen upon the child, inflammation of the eyes. Accordingly, he spent the next two years in the house of an oculist, leading a dull, and apparently not a healthy, life. However, his sight became better, and at ten years of age his father sent him to Westminster.
Cowper has spoken at great length in his autobiography of the religious feelings and fancies of his boyish days. These need not detain us. Most children have strong though often transient religious impressions, and there is little in his account of his own which has not probably befallen other boys. Later in life he looked back upon his feelings through the light of his morbid fancies, and exaggerated their significance.
It would be more to the purpose if we could discover anything concerning the religious teaching which he received in his childhood, for unquestionably it left its mark upon him for many a year. All writers agree in holding that it was an evil time both in faith and practice. The company in which Mr. Pattison found himself in his excellent Essay on the Religious Thought of the i&th Century,* has somewhat discredited that essay. But it is at any rate valuable for our present purpose, as gathering up into short compass the characteristics of the time in which young Cowper was brought up. "It was a period," writes Mr. Pattison in the opening of his essay, "of decay of religion, licentiousness of morals, public corruption, profaneness of language,—a day of rebuke and blasphemy. Even those who look with suspicion on the contemporary complaints from the Jacobite clergy of 'decay of religion,' will not hesitate to say that it was an age destitute of depth and earnestness; an age whose poetry was without romance, whose philosophy was without insight, and whose public men were without character; an age of 'light without love,' whose very merits were of the earth, earthy."
This is certainly true in the general, though there are certain qualifications which the author makes in the course of his essay. Our concern at this moment is with the theology of the period. And that may be summed up in a word—it was the period of the Evidences. Let us hear Mr. Pattison once more. "Dogmatic theology had ceased to exist; the exhibition of religious truth for practical purposes was confined to a few obscure writers. Every one who had anything to say on sacred subjects drilled it into an array of arguments against a supposed objector. Christianity appeared made for nothing else but to be 'proved ;' what use to make of it when it was proved was not much thought about. The only quality in Scripture which was dwelt on was its credibilitv."
We may, then, fairly suppose that the worthy Rector of Berkhamstead was on a par with his brother clergy—that he would preach against the Deists, and marshal his arguments as well as he could; but that he would not go beyond
* No. VI. in "Essays and Reviews."