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WILLIAM COWPEE ESQ.
MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR.
ILLUSTRATED WITH A PORTRAIT
WENTY OTHER SPLENDID ENGRAVINGS ON STEEL.
J. 0. DERBY, 119 NASSAU STREET
CINCINNATI: H. W. DERBY.
The subject of this brief Memoir was the descendant of an ancient and honorable family. His father was the second son of Spencer Cowper (a younger brother of the lord chancellor Cowper) who was appointed chief justice of Chester in 1717, and afterwards a judge in the court of Common Pleas. The poet's father was rector of Great Berkhampstead, in Hertfordshire, at which place William was born, Nov. 26, 1731; and from his infancy he appears to have been of a very delicate habit both of mind and body. In 1737, the year of his mother's death, he was sent to a school at Market-street, in Hertfordshire, under the conduct of Dr. Pitman, but was removed from it a few years afterwards, on account of a complaint in his eyes, for which he was consigned to the care of a female oculist for the space of two years.
Shortly after this he was sent to Westminster school, where he is reported to have suffered much from the wanton tyranny of his schoolfellows, who, with the usual unthinking cruelty o" youth, triumphed over the gentleness and timidity of his spirit, so that in his advanced years he retained none but painful recollections of what men. in general remember with more pleasure than any other period of their lives, and these recollections, no doubt, animated his pen with more than his usual severity in exposing the abuses of public schools.
When he was eighteen years of age he left Westminsterschool, and was articled for three years to Mr. Chapman, an attorney; in whose house he succeeded in gaining the esteem of all around him, by the gentleness of his manners, and the amiability of his temper, but suffering deeply from that incipient melancholy which had taken possession of his mind, and with an utter dislike to the study of the legal profession.
When he had fulfilled the terms of his engagement with Mr. Chapman, he entered the Temple for the purpose of finishing his studies as a barrister; but, like many other men of genius, he neglected the law, and gratified the, bent of his mind in the cultivation of poetry. Indeed he appears to have aimed at the character of a-literary man, in the general sense of the term; for he is known to have assisted various cotem