William Cowper.

The correspondence of William Cowper, arranged in chronological order, with annotations online

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THE CORRESPONDENCE OF
WILLIAM COWPER



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THE CORRESPONDENCE OF

WILLIAM COWPER

ARRANGED IN CHRONOLOGICAL
ORDER, WITH ANNOTATIONS

BY THOMAS WRIGHT

nUNCIPAI. OF COWPEK SCHOOL, OLNEY
ADTHOS OF < THE UFE OF WUXI&M COWPEB,* ETC.

IN FOUR VOLUMES
VOLUME I




LONDON
HODDER AND STOUGHTON

27 Paternoster row

MCMIV



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Edinbuigh : T. and A. Comstablb, Printers to His Majesty



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THIS WORK

18 DEDICATED^ BY KIND PERMISSION,
TO

DR. WILLIAM ALDIS WRIGHT

EDITOR OF

THE CORRESPONDENCE OF ANOTHER

GREAT ENGLISH LETTER-WRITER

EDWARD FITZGERALD



208891

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GENERAL CONTENTS



VOLUME I

X^B£FACJEf • • • •

Correspondents of Cowper,

List of Original Letters in the Public
Museums and Libraries,

Genealogical Tables of Cowper, Donne,
and Killingworth FamiUes,

Chief Events of Cowper's Life, .
Prime Ministers, .

Introduction,

Lettebs written during the Temple
Period, ....

Letters written from Huntingdon,

Letters written from Olney,



PAOX

ix
xix



xxm

xxvii

xxxi

xxxii



2
28
98



VOLUME II
Letters written from Olney {continued)^



▼ii



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viii COWPER'S LETTERS

VOLUME III
Letters written from Olney (continued),

Letters written from Weston Under-
wood, . . . . .



PAGE
1



108



VOLUME IV
Letters written from Weston Under-



WOOD (continued).


1


Letters written from Eartham,


266


Letters written from Weston Under-




wood AGAIN, . . . •


292


Letters written from Norfolk, .


489


List of the Letters in the four volumes,


509


Summary, . . . . ,


581


Index, .....


588



Maps : —

Olney in the time of William Cowper.

The Environs of Olney.

The Grounds at Weston Underwood.



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PREFACE

WiixiAM CowPER is universally acknowledged to
be the greatest of English letter -writers. How
strange, therefore, that over one hundred years from
the time of his death should have elapsed before a
practically complete edition of his correspondence,
arranged chronologically, with annotations, should
be given to the world. In all, three bulky collec-
tions of Cowper's letters have hitherto been pub-
Ushed, those of Hayley, Grimshawe, and Southey.
Hayley, with the fear of Lady Hesketh before his
^es; and Grimshawe, owing to pure incapacity
either to understand Cowper or to produce a respect-
able work of any kind ; mutilated the letters merci-
lessly. Grimshawe, afraid, one would suppose, lest
his readers should wreck their chances of future
happiness by venturing on a smile, took pecuhar
delight in striking out the facetious passages —
often requests for various small articles, or thanks
for presents — ^which are among the best specimens
of Cowper's playful humour. Our feelings, there-



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X COWPER'S LETTERS

fore, towards Hayley and Grimshawe are the reverse
of kindly.

Southey, who went to work in a sensible and
workmanlike way, did his best. But even his edition
is extremely defective. In the first place, the
so-called * private correspondence* having been re-
fused him, he was unable to keep to chronological
order. His Life and Works of WUUam Cowper
originally occupied fourteen volumes, of which 1, 2,
and part of 8 are taken up with the Life and quota-
tions from the copyright letters, and the rest of 8 and
4, 5, 6, and 7 with the bulk of the correspondence.
As soon as possible he added a fifteenth volume,
consisting of the letters that had previously been
denied him. The whole thing is therefore in a
confused state.

In the second place, through his misfortune in
not being able to see many of the originals, most of
his letters are also mutilated, though not so badly as
Grimshawe's.

In the third place, numbers of letters have since
been brought to light. Some have appeared in
scarce books and forgotten periodicals, but many are
unpublished. For ten years I have been collecting
these scattered letters and arranging the whole
series, and the result is now offered to the public.



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PREFACE xi

This collection is considerably larger than either
Southey's or Grimshawe*s, but I do not style it, as
Grimshawe did his, a 'complete edition* of the
letters of William Cowper. There never wiU be
a complete edition — ^to wit, a collection of all exist-
ing letters — for the simple reason that, hmnan
nature being what it is, there will always be a few
collectors whose keenest joy is to hug something
that has never been in print Still I have been very
successful My inquiries in the press and among
likely private persons resulted in large numbers of
original letters being placed in my hands. Then,
too, the originals in the British Museum, the Cowper
Museum at Olney, and other public institutions have
likewise been at my service. In every case in which
I could get sight of the originals I have restored the
excised passages, and have done my best to reduce
to order the intolerable chaos.

Of entirely new letters, then, many wiU be found
in these pages, including the three earliest known
and a fine series to Mrs. Throckmorton. Seventy-
two letters of Cowper to Teedon are referred to in
Teedon's Diary^ and I have the satisfaction of being
able to say that not a single item of this series has
escaped my net.

My annotations should be helpfiiL



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xii COWPER'S LETTERS

The task has not been an easy one : when the
origmals were to hand all went gaily, but it was
otherwise when Grimshawe had to be relied upon.
That gentleman, for instance, not content with
eliminating whole paragraphs, was actually rash
enough to cut letters in two and serve them up as
separate letters with different dates, or he would
cut a piece off one letter and tag it on to another.^
Difficulties in chronology certainly never gave him
a sleepless night.

A few of the letters are undated, and in placing
them I have, of course, had to exercise my judgment.

For the convenience of the reader a list is given
showing not only the dates of the letters, but also
the opening words ; and other helpful lists, and three
genealogical tables will also be found. Lastly, there
is a comprehensive index.

Some of the more famous letters have won to
themselves special names. Thus we have —

The ' Thresh his old Jacket ' Letter, . 81st Oct. 1779.

The ' Runaway Hare ' Letter, . . 21st Aug. 1780.

The « Hop o' my Thumb ' Letter, . 12th July 1781.

The ' Kissing Candidate' Letter, . 29th Mar. 1784.

The poetical letters, without counting the ' Hop
o' my Thumb ' jingle, are five in number, namely : —

^ There is^ of course, the possibility that either Lady Hesketh or
Hayley was the sinner^ and Grimshawe only the victim.



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PREFACE xiii

To Robert Lloyd, . . . 1764.

„ Mrs. Newton, . 16th Sept. 1781.

„ Bull, 22ndJune 1782.

„ Lady Austen, . 12th Aug. 1782.

„ Hill, Nov. 1784.

The personality of William Cowper is better

known than that of any other great English writer

with the exception perhaps of Smnuel Johnson.

Cowper seems like a next-door neighbour — nay,

even nearer — for these letters reveal, not merely

his acts and surroundings, but the workings of his

inmost mind. But if Cowper himself — the shy,

lovable^ self-torturing, playful, just, honourable,

and warm-hearted poet — is the centre of this

correspondence, how distinctly, too, stand out the

other characters. They are drawn as sharply as

the figures in a story by Hawthorne, or perhaps

we should say Dickens — ^for there are so many of

them. Yet — and let the fact never be lost sight

of— the letters were not intended for publication.

We have the quiet and devoted, and (may we add ?)

pardonably jealous Mrs. Unwin; the beautiful,

cultuored, idealising, vivacious, and papilionaceous

Lady Austen; the hearty, liberal, and affectionate

Lady Hesketh — queen of kind cousins — good as

she was buxom. ^Eneas was accounted happy in

that he had one faithful Achates ; Cowper possessed



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xiv COWPER'S LETTERS

of the sterner sex alone at least five staimch friends,
any one of whom would have hesitated at nothing
to do him service — ^the earnest, amiable, and witty
John Newton, the melancholic, pipe-loving William
Bull, the sedulously attentive Rose, the volatile
* Johnny of Norfolk,* the efiusive, grandiloquent,
and good-natured Hayley — each with his idiosyn-
crasies, but all true as steeL Nor must we forget
the ever invisible but continually devoted Theodora,
the practical Joseph Hill, or the courtly * Frogs/
The minor figures of the drama are scarcely less
familiar to us: pretty, giddy, thoughtless, extrava-
gant *Miss Hannah,' Cowper*s prot^g^; poverty-
pinched, verbose, devout, vaticinating Samuel
Teedon — schoolmaster and Delphic oracle; car-
penter-parson Tom Raban, sturdy and opinionative,
with the noticeable negative virtue of not being
intentionally uncivil; *Poor Jenny Raban,' Tom's
afflicted daughter ; * Royal Oak '-frequenting * Geary
Ball,' and ' wrong-headed ' Nathan Sample.

A word or two about pronunciation may be
acceptable. The poet and his friends always
pronounced his name Cooper. Of this there is
abundance of documentary evidence. Cooper^
therefore, and not Cowper, is correct. As regards
two other words of frequent occurrence in these



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PREFACE XV

pages, Olney has the o long and the / silent, and
rh3rmes with pony ; Madan is pronounced Madden^
with the accent on the first syllable. The refer-
ences in this work are to

1. The Globe Edition of Cowper^s Poems (Macmillan).

8. The Unpublished and UncoUecUd Poems of JViUiam

Cowper (Fisher Unwin).
8. The Li/e of WiUiam Cowper (Thomas Wright, Ohiey).*
4. The Town of Cowper (Thomas Wright, Olney).^

Of the letters written to Cowper very few have
been preserved- The following may be mentioned —



FROM.


DATE.


WHERE TO BE FOUND.


Mrs. Unwin,


1775 Aug. 21


Unpublished.


Rev. John Newton,


1767 July SO


Bull's Letters by the Rev.
John Newton^ published by
Religious Tract Society.


Id.


1780


»>


Id.


1780 Apl. 27


9f


Id.


1780 May 6


>9


Id,


1780 Sept. 30


»$


Id.


1786 Mar. 11


M


Lord Thurlow,


1791


In this work.


Id.


1791


M


Thomas Hayley,


1793 Mar. 4


Southey's Cowper, vol. vii.


Joseph Bringhurst




p. SSS.


(of Philadelphia),


1796 April 3


In the Cowper Museum,
Olney.


One letter of Mrs. Unwin'i


s is given in this work.


namely, that to Mrs. Newton, 7th October 1778.



^ Now obtainable only direct from the author, Olney.



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xvi COWPER'S LETTERS

In conclusion, I wish to express my sincere
thanks to all persons who have helped me, and
particularly the following : —

Mr. Clement K Shorter, editor of the Sphere.

Mrs. Alfred Morrison, 26 Bruton Street, London, W.

Miss Rowley, 4 Buckingham Vale, Clifton, Bristol (letter of
31st August 1789).

Messrs. Sotheby, Wellington Street, Strand.

Messrs. J. Pearson and Co., Pall MalL

Mr. F. Barker, 41 Gunterstone Road, West Kensington, W.
(Letters to Toby).

Miss A. K. Martyn, Old Crown Cottage, Chislehurst, Kent,
who lent me 26 letters sent to Mrs. King.

Mr. Arthur John King Martyn (Miss Martyn's brother).

Mr. G. G. Napier Orchard, West Kilbride, N.B. (loan of
letter October 20, 1781).

Mr. L. Hainsworth, Oakwell Cottage, Parsley, Leeds (loan
of letter 11th September 1788).

Mr. Willmore, Queenwood College, Hants (8 letters).

Mr. William Bolton, Rydal Villa, Elgin Road, Addis-
combe.

Mr. William Rowley, 66 Tressillian Road, Brockley, S.E.

Mr. W. H. CoUingridge, Enfield.

Mr. H. Gough, Sandcroft, Red Hill.

Mr. F. C. Carr Gomme, The Chase, Farnham Royal, Bucks.

Mr. Ed. J. Collins, Clarence Street School, Bolton,

Mr. Wm. Lowe Fleaming, Naisily Lodge, Wolverhampton.

Mr. R. F. Sketchley, Librarian Dyce and Forster Libraries,
South Kensington Museum.

Mr. P. Curphey, 40 Derby Square, Douglas, Isle of Man.

Rev. Geo. H. Culshaw, Iver Heath, Uxbridge.

Mr. W. W. Manning, 21 Redcliff Gardens, South Ken-
sington.



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PREFACE xvii

Rev. W. Cowper Johnson^ Yaxham Rectory, East Dereham.

Mrs. Salmon, 66 Bloomsbury Street, W.C.

Mr. Walter T. Spencer, Bookseller, 27 New Oxford

Street, W.C.
Mr. William Brown, S6 Princes Street, Edinburgh.
Dr. J. Barker Smith, 4 Holmdene Avenue, Half Moon Lane,

Dulwich, S.E.
Mr. W. J. Harvey, *The Rectory,' Crystal Palace Road,
London, S. E.

Thomas Weight.

CowpCR School, Olney, Bucks.



VOL. 1.



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CORRESPONDENTS OF COWPER

Bagot, Rev. Walter. He and his four brothers had been

schoolfellows of Cowper at Westminster.
Balls, Mrs. Cowper^s Cousin Harriet, daughter of Rev.

Roger Donne.
Bodham, Mrs. Cowper^s Cousin Anne, daughter of Rev.

Roger Donne. Cowper called her 'Rose.** It was she

who sent the poet the miniature of his mother.
Buchanan, Rev. John. * Buchy.'' Curate of Weston Under-
wood.
Bull, Rev. William. Independent minister of Newport

Pagnell. * Smoke-inhaling BuU.^ * Dear Taureau.**
Carwardine, Rev. Thomas, of EarPs Coin Priory, near

Halstead, Essex. Friend of Hayley. * Carwardine the

Grenerous.''
Churchey, Walter, Attomey-at-Law, Hay, Brecon. ^A

Welshman with a wife and many children."*
Cogswell, Dr. James, of New York.
Cohnan, George (' The Elder'). Bom 1738. Translator of

Terence ; writer of comedies.
Courtenay, George. Younger brother of Mr. (afterwards

Sir John) Throckmorton, but had changed his name.

Mrs. Courtenay was the ^ Catharina ' of Cowper's poems.
Cowper, Greneral. Son of William Cowper, Clerk of the

Parliaments. Cowper's first cousin.
Cowper, Major, of the Park, Hertford. Cowper^s first cousin,

Married Frances Maria Madan.



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XX COWPERS LETTERS

Cowper, Mrs. Cowper^s cousin Frances Maria, daughter of

Mrs. Madan (Cowper^s Aunt Judith).
Greatheed, Rev. Samuel. Pastor of the Independent Church

at Wobum. He lived at Newport Pagnell.
Hayley, Tom. Hayley's son. * Dear little Tom.'
Hayley, William. Bom in 1746. He wrote the first of

the laige biographies of Cowper. Died 18S0. ^ My

dear brother.'
Hesketh, Lady. * Dear Cuzzy-Wuzzy." Harriet, daughter of

Mr. Ashley Cowper. The poet's first cousin. Married

Sir Thomas Hesketh, who died in 1778. She died in

1807. Buried in Bristol Cathedral.
Hill, Joseph. Cowper's friend and ^Chancellor of the £x*

chequer.' ^ Joe,' * Josephus,' < Sephus.'
Hill, Mrs. Wife of Joseph Hill.
Hill, Rev. Rowland, the distinguished divine. ' The celebrated

and original Mr. Rowley Hill ' — John Newton.
Hurdis, Rev. James. Rector of Bishopstone, Sussex, and

Professor of Poetry at Oxford.
Johnson, John (Johnny of Norfolk). Son of Cowper's cousin

Catherine, and grandson of Rev. Roger Donne. He died

in 183S. Buried at Yaxham, near East Dereham.
King, Mrs. Wife of Rev. John King, Rector of Pertenhall,

Beds.
Madan, Mrs. As Judith Cowper, a famous Court beauty,

remarkable for the loveliness of her neck; and the

* Erinna ' of Pope, who would sit whole days before her

portrait. She wrote poetiy, one volume of which was

edited by her illustrious nephew.
Newton, Rev. John- Curate of Okey from 1764 to 1779.

Rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, London, 1779 to 1807.

Buried at St. Mary Woolnoth's. His remains were

removed to Olney in 1898.
Park, Thomas, Author. Died in 1884.



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CORRESPONDENTS OF COWPER xxi

Phillips, Mr. IL Printer, of Leicester, afterwards knighted.

Died 1840.
Polwhele^ Rev. Richard. Historian and antiquary. See

GenilemaffCs Magaziney vol. xcv. pp. 140, 244, 848.
Powley, Rev. Matthew. Vicar of Dewsbury. He married

Mrs. Unwinds daughter Susanna. He died in 1806, she

in 1885.
Rose, Samuel. Son of Dr. William Rose, schoolmaster at

Chiswick. The * Couleur de Rose.''
Rose, Mrs. Wife of Samuel Rose.
Rowley, Clotworthy. Fellow Templar of Cowper's. Of

Tendring Hall, near Stoke-by-Nayland, Essex.
Rye, Rev. J. Jekyll. ^ Joe Rye.' Vicar of Dallington, near

Northampton. Letters to Rye, 16th April 1792 and

8rd November 1798.
Smith, Charlotte. Author. Cowper met her at Eartham.

She died in 1806.
Smith, Robert, afterwards Lord Carrington. Cowper was

his almoner at Olney.
Teedon, Samuel. Schoolmaster at Olney. Writer of the

famous TeedofrCa Diary ^ preserved in the Cowper Museum

at Okey. He died in 1798.
Thornton, John. Cowper's ' John Thornton the Great.^ A

rich Turkey merchant. One of the Evangelical leaders.
Throckmorton, John (afterwards Sir John). Son of Sir

Robert Throckmorton of Weston Underwood. On his

£Btther^s death, in 1791, he succeeded to the baronetcy.

Cowper playfully called him and his wife ^ Mr. and

Mrs. Frog.'
Throckmorton, Mrs. (afterwards Lady). Wife of Mr. (Sir

John) Throckmorton. She was daughter of Mr. Thomas

Gifibrd of Chillington, Staffordshire.
Thurlow, Lord. Bom 1782. Became Lord Chancellor and

Baron Thurlow m 1778. Died in 1806.



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xxii COWPER'S LETTERS

Toby. Probably Clotworthy Rowley.

Unwin, Mrs. Cowper's great friend. * My Mary.'

Unwin, Rev. William. Rector of Stock, Essex. He died

in December 1786. Buried at Winchester. ^Amico

mio.*" ^ Reverend and dear William."*
Unwin, John. Son of Rev. William Unwin.
Wright, Mr., *at Mr. Pattison in Oxenden Street, near

Ye Haymarket, London.'' Probably a fellow-Templar

of Cowper's.



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OFTHC ^\



OK



LIST OF ORIGINAL LETTERS IN THE
PUBLIC MUSEUMS AND LIBRARIES



The following is the list of original letters of Cowper in our
public museums and libraries : —

British Museum

(In the order in which they are there arranged.)

To HayUy, Addit uss. S0,805.



1798. Mar. 19,



To Bj09e.



1791. Oct. 80.

1792. Aug. 18.
„ Aug. 29.



Addit. Mss. 21,556.

1798. Jan. 9.
,, Mar. 18.
,, Sept. 29.



To Unmn^ with one to John Unwin and one to Lord
Thurlow. 2 volumes.







Vohme /.— 46 letters.


1770-


Mar. 81.




1780.


Feb. 18.


1778.


June 18.




»>


Feb. 27.





July 18.




»>


Mar. 28.





Dec. 8.




n


Apr. 6.


1779.


Mayl.




w


May 8.


»


July. * If you please/


M


June 8.


w


July 17.




»>


June 18.





Aug. 17.




»


June 22.





Sept. 21.
Pec. 2.




n


July 11.







»>


July 27.



zxttl



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XXIV



COWPER'S LETTERS



1780.


Sept 8.


1781.


May 28.


»


Sept. 7.


99


June 5.


»


Sept. 17.


99


June 24.


99


Oct. 6.


99


July 29.


n


Nov. 9.


99


Aug. 26.


n


Dec.S4.


99


Sept 26.


»j


Dec. ^Poetical reports.'


99


Feb. 27.


1781,


Jan. 14.


99


Oct. 6.


99


Feb. 6.


99


Nov. 6.


99


Apr. 2.


99


Nov. 24. .


99


May].


99


Nov. 26.


59


May 10.


99


< In a time of bo much.


99


May S3.


99


'The salmon.'




Vobme II.— ^1 letters.


1782.


Jan. 6.


1782.


June 8.


j>


Feb. 9.


99


Aug. 4.


»»


* The modest terms.'


99


Sept. 7.





Feb. 24.


99


Nov. 10.


»


Feb. 26. (ToThurlow.)


99


'It is hard uponusstrip-


»


Mar. 7.




lings.'


»


'Williamforthesound's


99


Jan. 8.




sake.'


99


Feb. 29.


»


Mar. 18.


99


Mar. 21.


w


Apr. 1.


99


Apr. 6.


»»


Apr. 27.


99


Apr. 26.


»>


May 27.


99


Mays.


»


June 12.


99


* We took leave of your


>>


July 16.




sister;


>♦


Aug. 8.


99


July 8.


»>


Aug. 27.


99


July 12.


»


Nov. 4.


1784.


Aug. 14.


»


Nov. 18.


99


Sept 11.


»»


Nov. 80.


99


Oct 10.


»>


'Dr. Beattie.'


99


Oct 20.





Feb. 2.


99


Nov. 1.


»»


Mar. 80.


99


Nov. ^ThesUce.'


»


May 12.


99


Dec. 18.



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1784
1785.



1786.



LIST OF ORIGINAL LETTERS xxv

Noy. «0.
Jan. 16.
Feb. 7.
Feb. 28.
Mar. 90.
Apr. 80.
June 12.
July 27.
Aug. 27.
Oct. 22.
Not. 28.
Dec. 24.
Dec. 81.
Jan. 14.



1786.


Mar. 18.


99


Julys.





July 10.


»


Aug. 9.





Sept 24.


1798.


Oct. 29. (To John




Unwin, son of the




Rev. W. Unwin.)


1786.


'You are my mahogany




box.'


»>


( You are sometimes.''


99


' I write under.'


99


'The fish happening.'



CowpBii Museum, Olnsy

To Lady Hesketh.

179S.' ^ Having had my old friend.^ Probably Mar.
1788. (Ftobably.) To Rose ' I send you a line or two."
There are also many letters on loan.

LrrBBA&T iNSTrruTE, Bedford

To BuU.
1786. Jan. 7,

RoTAL Museum, Salfoed

To Teedan.
1798. Aug. 10.

South Kensington Museum (Dyce and Foster Col.).
To Rose. 19th Feb. 1789.



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THE COWPER FAMILY



SIR WILLIAM COWPER.
buried 2nd December 1706.



Online LibraryWilliam CowperThe correspondence of William Cowper, arranged in chronological order, with annotations → online text (page 1 of 34)