1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Cowper

John Aikin, in Letters to a Young Lady (1806) 286-87.



The great popularity which the name of COWPER has obtained, is a sufficient testimony to the merit of his productions, which were so far from appearing with any peculiar advantages, that his first publication had nearly sunk under the dislike attached to a narrow and gloomy system of religion. The lamented author passed his life in an obscure retreat from the world, doubly darkened by the shades of a morbid melancholy; and nothing could have forced him upon the public view but a blaze of genius not to be repressed by unfortunate circumstances. His works are now become an inseparable part of the mass of approved English poetry, and they could not fail to engage your notice without any care of mine to point them out. I cannot hesitate, therefore, to include among the subjects of my observations, an author who sooner or later must come into your hands, and has so good a claim to the reputation he has acquired.