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With Life, Critical Dissertation, and
REV. GEORGE GILFILLAN.
LONDON: JAMES NISBET AND CO.
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM COWPER.
It is with a singular emotion that we have jotted down the words, “ THE LIFE OF WILLIAM CowPER.” The terms seem almost a contradiction. The word “ life” usually suggests ideas of bustling energy, and gladness. But, as applied to an existence which was, on the whole, a long tissue of disappointment, misery, or despair, the word seems a misnomer. Shall we not rather call it “ The living death for seventy years of William Cowper”?
The author of " The Task” was born on the 15th of November (an appropriate birth-time for one whose years were all winters, and each of his months a November) 1731, in the rectory, Great Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire. He was descended from an ancient and highly honourable house. His father was John Cowper, D.D., son of Spencer Cowper, one of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, nephew of Lord Chancellor Cowper, and rector of Great Berkhamstead. His mother was Anne, daughter of Roger Donne, Esq., of Ludham Hall, Norfolk—of the same family with the celebrated Dr Donne, the quaint poet and eloquent sermon-writer—the friend of Walton and of George Herbert. This lady, whose memory, as the mother of the poet Cowper and the heroine of the lines “ On the Receipt of my Mother's Picture," shall ever be so warmly cherished by the world, seems to have been a person of the most amiable dispositions. Her picture, which now lies before us, expresses much feminine delicacy, and not a