The Life, and Posthumous Writings, of William Cowper, Esqr.: Volume 3: With an Introductory Letter to the Right Honourable Earl Cowper by William Hayley
Successors such as Wordsworth and Coleridge admired yet overshadowed William Cowper (1731-1800). Troubled by mental instability, he retreated from both the legal profession and the woman he had hoped to marry, seeking out a quiet existence in the country. In spite of his struggles, he made a translation of Homer's Iliad, produced a considerable body of poetry, and maintained many epistolary contacts. This four-volume biography, compiled by his friend and fellow poet William Hayley (1745-1820), appeared between 1803 and 1806, bringing together selected letters and unpublished poems to illuminate Cowper's personal and literary life. Opening with an essay, 'Desultory remarks on the letters of eminent persons, particularly those of Pope and Cowper', Volume 3 (1804) includes letters in which Cowper gives his frank opinions of contemporary literary figures, notably Samuel Johnson, interspersed with his characteristic flights of whimsy and enthusiastic remarks on gardening.