Boys are at best but pretty buds unblown,
Whose scent and hues are rather guess'd than known;
Each dreams that each is just what he appears,
But learns his error in maturer years,
When disposition, like a sail unfurl'd,
Shows all its rents and patches to the world.
'Tirocinium', ll. 446-51
Connections formed at school are said to be lasting, and often beneficial....For my own part, I found such friendships, though warm enough in their commencement, surprisingly liable to extinction; and of seven or eight, whom I had selected for intimates out of about three hundred, in ten years time not one was left me.
COWPER to UNWIN, 5 October 1780
WHEN Cowper left London in 1763 and became a convert to the Evangelical group, he left also his youthful friendships--all except one or two. The decision was clearly according to his own choice and his new beliefs. Separation from the world was a primary rule of the Christian life for him and for his fellow Evangelicals. They were of the Lord's and St Paul's calling, and obeyed their command: 'Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?... Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate.' And had the injunction to separation not seemed so sharply drawn, Cowper would nonetheless have given up these old friends because he feared his 'enthusiasm' would irk them. As the years passed by, however, he fretted more and more that he had been forgotten by all who had formerly known him. He grew quite irritated at the loss of two who had been especially close: George Colman of Westminster School and Edward Thurlow
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Publication information: Book title: William Cowper of the Inner Temple, Esq:A Study of His Life and Works to the Year 1768. Contributors: Not available. Publisher: Unknown. Place of publication: Cambridge, England. Publication year: 1959. Page number: 36.