Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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COOPER, Myles, clergyman, born in England in 1735; died in Edinburgh, 1 May, 1785. He was graduated at Oxford in 1760, and became a fellow of Queens College. In 1762, at the instance of Thomas Seeker, archbishop of Canterbury, he came to America to assist President Samuel Johnson, of Kings (now Columbia) College, and was appointed professor of mental and moral philosophy in that institution. A year later he succeeded to the presidency. Judge Thomas Jones says that through his means the College was raised in reputation superior to all the Colleges on the continent, and that under his tuition was produced a number of young men superior in learning and ability to any that America had ever before seen. The son of Mrs. Washington was one of his pupils, and after Mr. Custis left the College, General Washington expressed the conviction that he had been under the care of "a gentleman capable of instructing him in every branch of knowledge." In 1771 he visited England, and returned shortly before the revolutionary war. He was loyal to the crown, and is credited with the authorship of "A Friendly Address to all Reasonable Americans on our Political Confusions; in which the Necessary Consequences of violently opposing the King's Troops, and of a General Non-importation, are fairly stated" (New York, 1774). This tract was answered by Alexander Hamilton, then an undergraduate in the College, also by General Charles Lee in a pamphlet which passed through numerous editions in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Cooper's Tory sentiments were not favorably received by the students, and in August, 1775, a party of republicans set off about midnight with the design of "seizing him in his bed, shaving his head, cutting off his ears, slitting his nose, stripping him naked, and setting him adrift." The plot was overheard at a public house where the party had stopped for "a proper dose of Madeira," and President Cooper was informed just in time to escape through a back window. He took refuge in the house of a friend, where he remained conceMed during the night, and in the morning was conveyed on board the English ship-of-war "Kingfisher," in which he sailed for England. He had previously been warned with others to "fly for their lives, or anticipate their doom by becoming their own executioners," in a published letter signed "Three Millions." On his arrival in England, two excellent livings were given him, one in Berkshire, and the other in Edinburgh, where he generally resided. He published "Poems on Several Occasions" (Oxford, 1761), and a poem in the "Gentleman's Magazine" for July, 1776, descriptive of his escape from New York. On 13 December, 1776, he delivered a sermon before the University of Oxford "On the Causes of the Present Rebellion in America," which gave rise to much political controversy. He advocated the appointment of bishops for the colonies in an "Address to the Episcopalians of Virginia," and also published " The American Querist" (1774). The epitaph that he wrote for himself is characteristic:"Here lies a priest of English blood;
Who, living, lik'd whate'er was good--Good company, good wine, good name, Yet never hunted after fame. But as the first he still preferr'd, So here he chose to be interr'd ;
And, unobscured from crowds, withdrew
To rest among a chosen few,
In humble hopes that sovereign love Will raise him to be blest above." He was interred a few miles from Edinburgh, where Episcopal ministers "who die in that city" are all buried, which accounts for his expression "to rest among a chosen few."
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