Excerpt from Poems, the Early Productions of Wiliam Cowper: Now First Published From the Originals in the Possession of James Croft, With Anecdotes of the Poet; Collected From Letters of Lady Hesketh, Written During Her Residence at Olney
Cowper. The poet formed an early atta... chment 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 happi ness 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 pre served with the greatest care, for many years, these plea sing 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 22d 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 dirco tion of that lady.
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