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Edinburgh :


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WILLIAM COWPER was born on the 26th of November 1731, at Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire, of which village his father, the Rev. John Cowper, was rector. He was of noble ancestry, and many of his immediate relatives moved in the upper ranks of life. His mother, Ann Donne, a daughter of Roger Donne, Esq., of Ludham Hall in Norfolk, died when he was only six years of age, leaving two children,

- William, the subject of this memoir, and a younger brother, John. Her affection and tenderness made a deep impression on his young mind. Fifty years afterwards, on receiving her picture, he dwells as fondly on the cherished features as if he had just mourned her death. He writes to his cousin, Mrs Bodham, who had sent him the portrait“I received it the night before last, and viewed it with a trepidation of nerves and spirits somewhat akin to what I should have felt had the dear original presented herself to my embraces. I kissed it, and hung it where it is the last object that I see at night, and, of course, the first on which I open my eyes in the morning.” His feelings, indeed, were all of the intense kind. “I never received a little pleasure from anything in my life,” he writes; “ if I am pleased, it is in the extreme."

Few incidents of his early life have been preserved, and much obscurity rests on the circumstances which made him a stranger from his father's house almost immediately after his mother's death. Though his father lived to the year 1756, Cowper appears never to have lived at home, except

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