John Johnson: Pro et Contra

Scope and Content

John Johnson, 'Pro et Contra', transcribed by T.R. Glover, 100 folios. A copy, line for line and page for page, of a diary kept by John Johnson of the dreams, voices and notices of William Cowper, 15 November 1797 - 23 April 1799: (fo. i) explanatory note by the transcriber; (fo. ii) C. Sayle, an additional note, 22 June 1917; (fo. 1) text.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Johnson, 'Johny of Norfolk' (d. 1833), was the grandson of the poet William Cowper's mother's elder brother, Roger Donne, and studied at Cambridge University.

William Cowper (1731-1800), poet, was born at Great Berkhampstead on 15 November 1731, the son of John Cowper, D.D., and Anne, daughter of Roger Donne of Ludham Hall, Norfolk. He was educated at Westminster School, before spending three years articled to a solicitor. He entered the Middle Temple in 1748, and was called to the bar in 1754, becoming a commissioner of bankrupts in 1759. As a result of his declining mental health Cowper was taken to a private house at St Albans for treatment in December 1763. After his recovery he resigned his commissionership of bankruptcy. He removed to Huntingdon in 1765, where he befriended John Newton, vicar of Olney, whom he assisted in his parish duties. Cowper suffered from a fresh bout of mania in 1773, but recovered to devote himself to literary work. A volume of his poems was published in 1782, and the publication of the Task in 1785 won him popular acclaim. As well as producing other volumes of poems, Cowper's translation of Homer's Iliad was published in 1791, and he edited an edition of Milton, which included his translations of Latin and Italian poems. He died on 25 April 1800.

Terrot Reaveley Glover (1869-1943) was born on 23 July 1869 at Bristol, the son of Richard Glover, a Baptist minister, of Clifton, Bristol. He was educated at Bristol Grammar School, before entering St John's College, Cambridge, in 1888 (B.A., 1891; M.A., 1895), where he was a fellow, 1892-1898 and 1901-1943. He was professor of Latin at Queen's University, Kingston, Canada, 1896-1901. He became Cambridge lecturer in ancient history, 1911, and was proctor, 1914-1915 and 1919-1920, and orator, 1920-1939. He died in Cambridge on 26 May 1943.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Presented by T.R. Glover, 1917.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on William Cowper in Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds, Dictionary of national biography, Vol. IV (London, 1908), pp. 1319-1327, and the entry on T.R. Glover in J.A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses, Part II, Vol. III (Cambridge University Press, 1947), p. 67.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.


For an account of the transcript see H.N. Fairchild, 'Additional notes on John Johnson's diary', in Proceedings of the Modern Language Association of America, 43 (1928), pp. 571-572.