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THE DYING INDIAN.
The dart of Izdabel prevails ! 'twas dipt
Wiehley to poisonouse from the
BORN 1731.-DIED 1800.
WILLIAM COWPER was born at Berkhamstead, in Hertfordshire. His grandfather was Spenser Cowper, a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and a younger brother of the Lord Chancellor Cowper. His father was the rector of Berkhamstead, and chaplain to George the Second. At six years of age, he was taken from the care of an indulgent mother, and placed at a school in Bedfordshire'. He there endured such hardships, as embittered his opinion of public education for all his life. His chief affliction was, to be singled out, as a victim of secret cruelty, by a young monster, about fifteen years of age; jwhose barbarities were, however, at last detected, and punished by his expulsion. Cowper was also taken from the school. From the age of eight to nine, he was boarded with a famous oculist”, en account of a complaint in his eyes, which, during his whole life, were subject to inflammation. He was sent from thence to Westminster, and continued there till the age of eighteen, when he went into the office of a London solicitor. His account of himself in this situation candidly acknowledges his extreme idleness. “I did actually live,” he says, in a letter to Lady Hesketh, “ for three years with Mr. “ Chapman, a solicitor ; that is to say, I slept three “ years in his house. I spent my days in South“ ampton-Row, as you very well remember. There “ was I, and the future Lord Chancellor Thurlow, “ constantly employed in giggling and making “ giggle.” From the solicitor's house he went into chambers in the Temple; but seems to have made no application to the study of the law. “ Here he “ rambled,” says Mr. Hayley, “ to use his own "colloquial expression, from the thorny road of “ jurisprudence to the primrose paths of literature," a most uncolloquial expression indeed, and savouring much more of Mr. Hayley's genius than his own. At this period, he wrote some verse translations from Horace, which he gave to the Duncombes; and assisted Lloyd and Colman with some prose papers for their periodical works. It was only at this time, that Cowper could ever be said to have lived as a man of the world. Though shy to strangers, he was highly valued, for his wit and pleasantry, amidst an intimate and gay circle of men of talents. But though he was then in the focus of convivial society, he never partook of its intemperance
i In Hayley's life his first school is said to have been in Hertfordshire. The Memoir of his early life, published in 1816, says in Bedfordshire.
* He does not inform us where, but calls the oculist Mr. D. --Hayley, by mistake, I suppose, says that be was boarded with a fenale oculist.
His patrimony being well nigh spent, a powerful friend and relation obtained for him the situation of Clerk to the Committees of the House of Lords; but, on account of his dislike to the publicity of the situation, the appointment was changed to that of Clerk of the Journals of the same House. The path to an easy maintenance now seemed to lie open before him; but a calamitous disappointment was impending, the approaches of which are best explained in his own words. “ In the beginning," (he says) “ a strong opposition to my friend's right “ of nomination began to shew itself. A powerful “party was formed among the Lords to thwart it. “*. * * Every advantage, I was told, would be • sought for, and eagerly seized to disconcert us. “ I was bid to expect an examination at the bar of “ the house, touching my sufficiency for the post I “ had taken. Being necessarily ignorant of the na“ ture.of that business, it became expedient that I “ should visit the office daily, in order to qualify “ myself for the strictest scrutiny. All the horror “ of my fears and perplexities now returned. A “ thunderbolt would have been as welcome to me “ as this intelligence. I knew to demonstration, “ that upon these terms the Clerkship of the Journals “ was no place for me. To require my attendance “ at the bar of the house, that I might there publicly “ entitle myself to the office, was, in effect, to ex“ clude me from it. In the mean time, the interest " of my friend, the honour of his choice, my own
“ reputation and circumstances, all urged me for“ ward, all pressed me to undertake that which I “ saw to be impracticable. They whose spirits are “ formed like mine, to whom a public exhibition of “ themselves, on any occasion, is mortal poison, may “ have some idea of the horrors of my situation“ others can have none. My continual misery at “ length brought on a nervous fever ; quiet forsook “me by day, and peace by night; a finger raised “ against me was more than I could stand against.
In this posture of mind I attended regularly at the “ office, where, instead of a soul upon the rack, the “most active spirits were essentially necessary for “my purpose. I expected no assistance from any
body there, all the inferior clerks being under the “ influence of my opponent, and accordingly I re“ ceived none. The Journal books were indeed “ thrown open to me; a thing which could not be “ refused, and from which perhaps a man in health, “ and with a head turned to business, might have “ gained all the information he wanted; but it was
not so with me. I read without perception; and 6. was so distressed, that had every clerk in the office
been my friend, it could have availed me little ; “ for I was not in a condition to receive instruction, “ much less to elicit it out of MSS. without direc“tion. Many months went over me thus employed;
constant in the use of means, despairing as to the '“ issue. The feelings of a man, when he arrives at " the place of execution, are probably much like