Cowper, William, the poet. The leading events in the life of Cowper are: born in his father's rectory, Berkhampstead, Nov. 26, 1731; educated at Westminster; called to the Bar, 1754; madness, 1763; residence at Huntingdon, 1765; removal to Olney, 1768; to Weston, 1786; to East Dereham, 1795; death there, April 25, 1800.
The simple life of Cowper, marked chiefly by its innocent recreations and tender friendships, was in reality a tragedy. His mother, whom he commemorated in the exquisite "Lines on her picture," a vivid delineation of his childhood, written in his 60th year, died when he was six years old. At his first school he was profoundly wretched, but happier at Westminster; excelling at cricket and football, and numbering Warren Hasti… Go to person page >
To keep the lamp alive. W. Cowper. [In Trial and Despondency.] Published in the Olney Hymns, 1779, Bk. iii., No. 74, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed, "Dependence." In its original form it is in limited use. The extract from it beginning with stanzas iii., "Beware of Peter's word," is much more popular, and especially in America, where it appeared in Nettleton's Village Hymns, 1824.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)