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THE HE life of Cowley, notwith standing the penury of English biography, has been written by Dr. Sprat, an author whofe pregnancy of imagination and elegance of language have defervedly fet him high in the ranks of literature; but his zeal of friendship, or ambition of eloquence, has produced a funeral oration rather than a history he has given the character, not the life of Cowley; for he




writes with fo little detail, that scarcely any thing is diftinctly known, but all is fhown confufed and enlarged through the mift of panegyrick.

ABRAHAM COWLEY was born in the year one thoufand fix hundred and eighteen. His father was a grocer, whofe condition Dr. Sprat conceals under the general appellation of a citizen; and, what would probably not have been lefs carefully fuppreffed, the omiffion of his name in the register of St. Dunstan's parifh, gives reafon to fufpect that his father was a fectary. Whoever he was, he died before the birth of his fon, and confequently left him to the care of his mother; whom Wood reprefents as ftruggling earnest

ly to procure him a literary education, and who, as fhe lived to the age of eighty, had her folicitude rewarded by feeing her fon eminent, and, I hope, by feeing him fortunate, and partaking his profperity. We know at least, from Sprat's account, that he always acknowledged her care, and justly paid the dues of filial gratitude.

In the window of his mother's apartment lay Spenfer's Fairy Queen; in which he very early took delight to read, till, by feeling the charms of verfe, he became, as he relates, irrecoverably a Poet. Such are the accidents, which, fometimes remembered, and perhaps fometimes forgotten, produce that particular defignation of

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mind, and propenfity for fome certain fcience or employment, which is com monly called Genius. The true Ge nius is a mind of large general powers, accidentally determined to fome particular direction. The great painter of the prefent age had the firft fondness for his art excited by the perufal of Richardfon's treatise.

By his mother's folicitation he was admitted into Weftminster-fchool, where he was foon diftinguifhed. He was wont, fays Sprat, to relate; "That he

had this defect in his memory at "that time, that his teachers never could bring it to retain the ordinary "rules of grammar."

uma Reynolds.

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