John D. Baird and Charles Ryskamp (eds), The Poems of William Cowper, Vol. 1: 1748–1782

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pg 579APPENDIX III

Poems, 1748–1782, sometimes attributed to Cowper

A REFLECTION ON THE YEAR 1720

Fifty-two lines, beginning 'The Clouds grew big, the thunder roll'd on high'. Published in The Student, or the Oxford Monthly Miscellany, i (1750), 34–5. Printed as 'possibly Cowper's' by Ryskamp, pp. 226–8, on account of the imagery of sea, storm, and castaway, and the signature 'W.C.'. However, it is hard to see why Cowper, aged 18, should have written such a poem, and his connection with the periodical remains doubtful. One of the initiators of The Student was Bonnell Thornton; Povey suggests that 'W.C.' may have been William Cowper of the Park (1722–69), who was a contemporary of Thornton's at Westminster and at Oxford. Cf. Russell, pp. 1–2.

ON A JACOBITE PARSON AND POET

Twenty-eight lines, beginning 'Thy Duty is a Steady thing'. Found in Chase Price's Commonplace Book (T), and printed by Ryskamp, BC, pp. 477–8. While Cowper may have written political poems of this kind, nothing in this specimen suggests his hand. The parson is called 'Joseph', and the song may have been aimed at the Revd. Joseph Trapp (1679–1747), whose epitaph appears a few pages earlier in the Commonplace Book. Trapp was reputed to write songs of a Jacobitical tendency (cf. Huntington Library Quarterly, xxxix (1976), 318). If Trapp was the target, this poem was probably written before Cowper began versifying.

OHE, JAM SATIS EST

Six lines, beginning 'Sic Genitor Crebo Confossi vulnere nati'. Found in Chase Price's Commonplace Book (T), and printed by Ryskamp, BC, p. 478. The lines are signed 'Cowper'. However, in T they follow and are clearly associated with the epitaph composed by Robert Freind, Head Master of Westminster School 1711–33, for pg 580the monument in Westminster Abbey to the Hon. Philip Carteret (1692–1711). They are probably the work of the Revd. John Cowper, the poet's father, who was Carteret's contemporary at Westminster.

TO PEACE

Twenty-eight lines, beginning 'Come lovely gentle peace of Mind'. Published in the Gentleman's Magazine, xxviii (1758), 329; reprinted in part as possibly Cowper's by Ryskamp, pp. 111–12. The subject and its treatment are thoroughly conventional, and the external evidence for the attribution is too slight. Cf. Russell, pp. 5–6.

EPITAPH ON GENERAL WOLFE

Eight lines, beginning 'Whilst George in sorrow bows his laurell'd head'. Printed by Ryskamp, pp. 229–31, as possibly Cowper's. The manuscript reported in a sale catalogue as being in Cowper's hand now appears to be in Lady Hesketh's hand. The author of the epitaph was almost certainly the Revd. George Lewis, Vicar of Westerham, Kent, where Wolfe's memorial stands. Cf. Russell, pp. 8–9.

AN ODE SECUNDUM ARTEM

Seventy-two lines, beginning 'Shall I begin with Ah, or Oh?' Published in the St. James's Magazine, iii (1763), 187–9; attributed to Cowper by Southey and included in many later editions; in Milford pp. 288–9. Certainly the work of Robert Lloyd, as Bailey demonstrates (p. 666).

A THUNDER STORM

Eighty-six lines, beginning 'The Sky begins to lower and thick'ning Clouds'. First printed by Thomas Wright, The Life of William Cowper, 1892, pp. 177–9; in Milford, pp. 626–8. Bailey makes short work of Wright's attribution (p. 664).

pg 581THE WAITING SOUL

Twenty-four lines, beginning 'Breathe from the gentle South, O Lord'. See under Olney Hymns, no. 33.

PSALM 114th

Thirty-six lines, beginning 'When Israel by Jehovah call'd'. Found in the Madan family scrap-book (now Bodleian MS. eng. poet. c. 51) and first printed by [F. Madan], New Poems by William Cowper, 1931, pp. 13–15; in Milford, pp. 675–6. The version is headed in the scrapbook 'by Willm Cowper Esq.', but is in fact by Dean Spencer Madan (1713–74); it may possibly have been revised by Cowper. Cf. K. Povey, Trans. Durham and Northumberland Architectural and Archaeological Soc. xi (1958), 38.pg 582

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