1800 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Cowper

Anonymous, "Lines occasioned by the last Publication of Cowper's Poems, in 1798, with some Additions and a Preface by the Rev. Mr. —" Gentleman's Magazine 70 (June 1800) 565.



In sixteen years of well-acquir'd fame,
Cowper himself establish'd Cowper's name;
On those he lov'd bestow'd the tribute due,
And, N—, gave one fragrant wreath to you.
Then no proud preface told the author's worth,
No dedication flatter'd wealth, or birth;
From his pure heart the Muse his pen inspir'd,
As public fame, or private friendship fir'd.
"Now learn the diff'rence 'twixt his sense and thine,"
As his star rises, N—'s must decline.
When modest Cowper sought the public view,
He unassuming printed, and withdrew:
Again he comes (no usher struts before);
Presents his Task, and shuts his study door;
Quitting his British Muse for Grecian lore;
Majestic Homer clos'd his active scene,
Yet pleasing trifles chear'd his hours between.
These N— seiz'd, no matter where or when,
They're true fac-similes from Cowper's pen:
As such we hail'd them; anno ninety-eight;
Turn to the preface, Reader; mark its date.
Its anti-date, some sixteen winters past;
Blush, N—, make this vanity thy last,
Or, for thy favour'd flock, with past'ral care,
Print hymns and sermons in gay "glossy glare."
If Cowper sanction'd, why so long suppress'd?
If not, will truth and candour stand the test?
O may P. L.* investigate the case,
And save the name it honours from disgrace;
While Cowper's friends his precious relics guard,
And in his fame insure their own reward.

* Pursuits of Literature.