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Cotton 4 and several other persons wrote Elegies to Lovelace's memory, which were printed at the end of his “ Lucasta and Posthume Poems” in 1659.
The most material facts which Cotton's own poems establish are, that he was a zealous Royalist, and an uncompromising enemy + of Cromwell. He omitted no opportunity of expressing his sentiments ;5 and a decisive proof of his political opinions is exhibited in his verses on the execution of James Earl of Derby, in 1651,6 and in his severe castigation of Waller for writing a panegyric on the Protector about the year 1654:
TO POET E. W. OCCASIONED FOR HIS WRITING A PANEGYRIC
ON OLIVER CROMWELL.
From whence, vile Poet, didst thou glean the wit,
Who call'd the coward (-) much mistook
4 See Cotton's Poems, p. 481.
“ We enter'd the port,
For indeed I have ever been true to the Crown."—P. 198. lu bis Contentation, he says: “The man is happy
Who free from debt, and clear from crimes,
Honours those laws that others fear, + Who ill of princes in worst times,
Will neither speak himself, nor hear."—P. 258.
“An infamous Usurper's come,
Nor any place but hell can hold so great a Devil.”—Pp. 264, 265.
“ Then let us revel, quaff, and sing,
Health and his scepire to the King."—P. 448. See also his Epode to Alexander Brome on the King's return, p. 511, and several other instances throughout his Poems.
6 Cotton's Poems, p. 4!1.
Tho: hast at once abused thyself and us;
Put up thy pen and ink, muzzle thy muse,
Where was thy reason then, when thou began
Then, what thou hast pronounced go execute,
Though ardent Royalists, both Cotton and his father seem to have escaped the persecutions to which the Cavaliers were exposed, as their names have not been found in connection with any public event during the Commonwealth ; nor do they appear to have been obliged to purchase safety by compounding for their estates. Of Cotton's acquaintances at this period, the most remarkable, with reference to this work, was Isaak Walton, his adopted father in the art of Angling, who became one of his intimate friends, and whose esteem is strong evidence of Cotton's moral worth. Walton was also known to his father, for in speaking of the Lives of Donne and Wotton, Cotton observes,
“How happy was my father, then, to see
Rescued from frailties and mortality." Literature and the pleasures of society did not, however, entirely engross his time ; for besides his favourite pursuit of Angling,
which he followed before he was seventeen,” he amused himself in + gardening and planting. Upon the latter subject, he not only
afterwards wrote a treatise, but proved that his knowledge was practical, by planting his own grounds near Beresford Hall ;' and
? Cotton says in his part of “The Complete Angler," in 1676: "I will tell you nothing, I have not made myself as certain of as any man can be in thirty years' cxperience, for so long I have been a dabbler in that art.”—P. 406.
9 • Viaior. It [Beresford Hall] appears on a sudden, but not before 'twas looked for. It stands prettily, and here's wood about it too, but so young as appears to be of your own planting. “Piscator.
It is so."-Cotton's part of “ The Complete Angler," p. 420.
& Vide postea.
the taste with which he improved that place, caused him to be complimented by his constant eulogist, Sir Aston Çokayne. 1
Towards the end of July or early in August 1656, when Cotton was in his twenty-seventh year, he married his cousin Isabella, daughter of Sir Thomas Hutchinson, of Owthorpe, in Nottinghamshire. In contemplation of that alliance, his father and himself vested the manors of Bentley, Borrowashe, and Beresford, together with the rectory of Spoondon, and other lands, in trustees, to sell so much of the same as would pay off a mortgage of £1700, granted in July 1655, by the younger Cotton ; and to hold the surplus in trust for him and his heirs. The manor of Beresford was then settled upon his father for life, with remainder to his children ; and a life interest in his other property was secured to his intended wife, Isabella Hutchinson, in case she survived him.3
In December 1658, Cotton lost his father, who appears from Lord Clarendon's account of him, to have lived to an advanced age, and to have injured his property by lawsuits. This circumstance ought not to be forgotten in forming a judgment of his son's character : nor is it less material to remember, that though he may have inherited his father's talents, and been much indebted to his 7 assistance during his education, yet his parent's conduct, particularly in the latter part of his life, afforded him an example of imprudence and irregularity, which he too closely followed.
Upon the restoration of Charles the Second, Cotton first appeared before the public as an author. He addressed a panegyric to the King, consisting of fourteen pages in prose, but it contains nothing which distinguishes it from the numerous other productions with which Charles's return was greeted. In the same year he became (probably for the first time) a father, by the birth of his eldest son, to whom he gave the name of Beresford. All which is known of Cotton during the ensuing four years is, that in 1664 he published a burlesque poem entitled “ Scarronides, or the First Book of Virgil Travestie,” which will be again alluded to; and that he prepared for the press a translation of " The Moral Philosophy of
1 "Your Ba house you have adorned much,
And Bently hopes it shortly shall be such ;
To both those Basfords you will show y' are heir."
4 Several of these addresses are collected in one volume in the British Museum ; and the exact date of their respective appearance, with some corrections of the names of their authors, have been added in a contemporary hand. Cotton's Panegyrick is dated 271h August 1660.
- the Stoics," from the French of Du Vaix, but which was not published until 1667.5 In the dedication of that volume to his friend and kinsman John Ferrers, Esq., dated on the 27th of February 1663–4, he says he had translated it some years before by his father's command, who was a great admirer of the author, “so," he tells Ferrers, “that wh you see was an effect of my obedience, and no part of my choice, my little studies, especially at that time, lying another way, neither had I now published it, but that I was unwilling to have a thing, how mean soever, turned to waste paper that cost me some hours' pains, and which, however I may have disguised it, is no ill thing in itself.”
Cotton having found his income inadequate to his expenses, he wwas obliged to apply to Parliament for power to sell part of his
estates for the payment of his debts ; and an Act was accordingly passed in the 16th Charles II., 1665, for that purpose. He was at that time employed in translating Corneille's Tragedy of Horace, t for the amusement of his wife's sister, Miss Stanhope Hutchinson. It was published in 1671, with a dedication to that lady, dated at Beresford, 7th November 1665, in which he says it was never to be made public; and in the printed address to the reader, written at the same place in October 1670, he refers to the dedication as
proof that it was not intended for publication, but had been written > for the “private amusement of a fair young lady.” He adverted
to Mrs Katherine Philips' translation of the same play in very respectful terms; and says that the songs and choruses to the Acts were “all wholly his own."
Between the years 1665 and 1670, the only thing which is positively known of Cotton is, that about 1667 he wrote some verses on the Poems of his friend Alexander Brome, who died in June 1666, which were prefixed to a collection of his works published in 1668. In those verses he thus justly noticed the neglect which attends a Poet, in comparison with the fame that awaits a Hero and a Statesman :
" To advance their names no cost is spar'd;
Medals are cast, and obelisks are reard ;
5 The Imprimatur is dated 13th April 1664.
6 In consequence of the fire in the House of Lords, which has caused great confusion among the Parliamentary Records, the Act cannot at this moment be found.
Is lay'd aside ; and though by living verse,
It were in vain to write on other score,
The wary world has wisely taken time,
Nor do I here intend the gold that's hurid
That edition of Brome's Poems contains an epistle to Cotton with his answer ; but the latter is only remarkable for the abhorrence which he expressed at being obliged to live in the country with no other friends, visitors, or company,
“But such, as I still pray, I may not see,
Sharpen and set, but blunt the edge of wit;
And my best company's my horse and hounds." The same feeling of dislike at being separated from his literary companions, and from those intellectual enjoyments which a capital, and a capital only, affords, may be frequently traced in his