It has become the fashion to love him for his letters and his lovableness, but to be lukewarm about his poetry.
H. W. GARROD of Cowper--1951
There is an effeminacy about him, which shrinks from and repels common and hearty sympathy.
WILLIAM HAZLITT of Cowper--1818
Of course he was an invalid, and his attachment to local scenes can be discounted on that account. He had not enough vitality to seek new experiences, and never felt safe until habits had formed their cocoon round his sensitive mind. But inside the cocoon his life is genuine. He might dread the unknown, but he also loved what he knew; he felt steadily about familiar objects, and they have in his work something of the permanence they get in a sitting-room or in the kitchen garden. E. M. FORSTER of Cowper--1932
The stocking-cap on the poet's head, the tea cup in the poet's hand had to him a look of limitation, of almost feminine restraint. Cowper's life seemed to him a sheltered one: it did no good to remind himself that Cowper had been for a good deal of his life, insane. RANDALL JARRELL--1954
There is one curious fact revealed in these letters [from John Newton to John Thornton], which accounts for much of Cowper's morbid state of mind and fits of depression, as well as for the circumstances of his running away from his place in the House of Lords. He was a Hermaphrodite. It relates to some defect in his physical conformation; somebody found out his secret, and probably threatened its exposure.
FOR nearly a century and a half there have been comments like Hazlitt's about William Cowper. And during the past eighty years biographers have speculated about the nature of his alleged physical defect. It has been____________________