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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

ASTOR, LENOX TILDEN FOUNDATION

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AN

INTRODUCTORY LETTER

TO THE

Right Honourable Earl COWPER.

YOUR family, my Lord, our country itself, and the whole literary world, sustained such a loss in the death of that amiable man and enchanting author who forms the subject of these volumes, as inspired the friends of genius and virtue with universal concern. It soon became a general wish, that some authentic and copious memorial of a character so highly interesting should be produced with all becoming dispatch; not only to render due honour to the dead, but to alleviate the regret of a nation taking a just and liberal pride in the reputation of a poet, who had obtained and deserved her applause, her esteem, her affection. If this laud. able wish was very sensibly felt by the public at large, it glowed with peculiar warmth and eagerness in the bosom of the few who had been so fortunate as to enjoy an intimacy with Cowper in some unclouded periods of his life, and who knew, from such an intimacy, that à lively sweetness and sanctity of spirit were as truly the characteristics of his social enjoyments, as they are allowed to constitute a principal charm in his poetical productions. It has justly been regarded as a signal blessing, to have possessed the perfect esteem and confidence of such a man: and not long after his decease, one of his particular friends presumed to suggest to an accomplished lady, nearly related both to him and to your Lordship, that she herself might be the biogra. pher the most worthy of the poet. The long intimacy and correspondence which she enjoyed with him, from their lively hours of infantile friendship to the dark evening of his wonderfully chequered life; her cultivated and affectionate mind, which led her to take peculiar delight and interest in the merit and the reputa. tion of his writings ; and, lastly, that generous attachment to her afflicted relation which induced her to watch over his disordered health, in a period of its most calamitous depression ;-these circumstances, united, seemed to render it desirable that she should assume the office of Cowper's biographer; having such advantages for the perfect execution of that very delicate office as, perhaps, no other memorialist could possess in an equal degree. For the interest of literature, and for the honour of many poets, whose memories

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