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1. This Volume contains such of Cowper's juvenile Poems as were published by Hayley, those which Mr. Croft published under the title of Early Productions, Cowper's part of the Olney Hymns, the Anti-Thelyphthora, and the volume of Poems by which, in 1782, he first made himself known to the public.
2. The pieces introduced by Hayley in his Life of the Poet, or appended to it, were either obtained from Cowper and Lady Hesketh, or pointed out to him by their author in the books wherein they had been published anonymously.
3. Mr. Croft's little, but most interesting volume appeared with the following title, dedication, and preface.
THE EARLY PRODUCTIONS
WILLIAM COW PER;
NOW FIRST PUBLISHED FROM THE ORIGINALS IN THE POSSESSION OF
WITH ANECDOTES OF THE POET.
COLLECTED FROM LETTERS OF LADY HESKETH, WRITTEN DURING
HER RESIDENCE AT OLNEY.
LONDON:--PRINTED FOR BALDWIN, CRADOCK, AND JOY.
THE RIGHT HON. COUNTESS COWPER.
When I determined on publishing the following Poems, it was my wish to dedicate them to a lady of taste, and of , elegant and amiable manners. With that impression, it was impossible to find any one who had a better claim to that character than Lady Cowper. I need not say, that I feel highly gratified in the opportunity of offering this my tribute of respect to one possessing these qualities in so eminent a degree; the more so, as I am persuaded, had the Poet been living, it would have been done by himself, with greater abilities, but not with more sincerity, than by him, who has the honour of subscribing himself, with the greatest esteem,
As it may be expected to mention the lady to whom the following Poems are addressed, it may not be deemed improper, at the same time, to notice the circumstances which occasioned them. The Life of Cowper having been already written, it is not necessary to repeat what his biographers have so ably done ; but if there is any thing relative to this great genius, which could not be known at the time when his Life was published, it will not be amiss to mention the same, as every act of Cowper cannot but be interesting. The lady to whom these Poems are addressed, under the name of Delia, was the second daughter of Ashley Cowper, son of the Judge, and nephew of Lord Chancellor Cowper. This lady (Miss Theodora Jane Cowper) was first cousin to the Poet, the son of the Reverend Doctor Cowper, Rector of Great Berkhamstead, and brother to Ashley Cowper. The Poet formed an early attachment for his cousin Theodora,
an accomplished woman, with an elegant person, and possessing a superior understanding.
With such qualities, it is no wonder that he conceived a strong affection for her; and the lady, sensible of her cousin's amiable disposition, regarded him with equal affection. But, unfortunately, her father, from an idea that the union of persons so nearly related was improper, refused to accede to the wishes of his daughter and nephew; and as the former, from a strong sense of filial duty, would not consent to unite herself to her cousin without the approbation of her father, the happiness they had promised to themselves was altogether prevented.
But, though frustrated in their wishes, they did not cease to love, nor occasionally to meet. At this time these Poems were addressed to her on whose affections the Poet had placed all his happiness, still indulging the hope of possessing the object of his love. But it proved, alas ! otherwise, as appears by the poem in which he speaks so feelingly of his separation from her: after which, it was their fate never to meet again.
In consequence of this disappointment, and other circumstances, he gave up his professional pursuits, and retired into the country, with a depression of spirits which continued at times to affect this amiable person to the end of his life.
To the credit of the lady she remained constant to him on whom she had placed her affections. Neither time nor absence could diminish her attachment. She preserved with the greatest care, for many years, these pleasing memorials of the beloved author ; when, for reasons known only to herself, she sent them in a sealed packet to a lady, (her particular friend,) with directions not to be opened till after her decease. This took place on the twenty-second of last October, and her friend having died a short time previous to that event, her executors sent the packet to me, with other articles, according to the directions of that lady.
The Poems, though not equal to his later productions, yet appeared to me to possess the sweet muse of this delightful poet, in no small degree. Nevertheless, on first reading them, much as I know any productions of Cowper would gratify his many admirers, yet I did not feel disposed to make them public, fearing that my partiality might lead me to set a value upon them beyond their merit; and, knowing they could not add to his reputation, I was fearful of doing any thing to diminish the high character his poetry had so justly acquired. Not wishing, however, to deprive the public of any thing so interesting, and yet dreading to do any thing to lessen the fame of this admired Poet, I resolved to take the opinion of those whose judgement was superior to mine, and so necessary to guide