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Elvaston in Derbyshire, by his first wife Olive, daughter and heiress of Edward Beresford, of Beresford in Staffordshire, and of Bentley in the county of Derby, he succeeded to those estates in her right, and settled at Beresford, Mr Cotton was distinguished for his talents and accomplishments, and was the friend and companion of many of the most eminent of his contemporaries, including Ben Jonson, Sir Henry Wotton, Dr Donne, Selden, Fletcher,0 Herrick/ Carew, Lovelace, Davenant, and May, the Lord Chief Justice Vaughan, and the great Lord Clarendon. Some of those writers celebrated his merits in their verses; and Lord Clarendon has particularly mentioned him in his well-known autobiography.8
Mr Cotton's marriage connected him with the families of Stanhope, Cokayne, Aston, Port, and others of the highest rank in the counties of Derby and Stafford. Mrs Cotton died at Beresford between 165o and 1658, in the thirty-eighth year of her age; and her cousin, Sir Aston Cokayne, wrote some verses to her memory.9
6 Vide Cokayne's Poems, p. 91, and the Apology to the Reader.
7 Herrick inscribed one of his poems to the elder Cotton, 8vn, 1648, p. 35a.
8 "chaeles Cotton was a gentleman horn to a competent fortune; and so qualified in his person and education, that for many years he continued the greatest ornament of the town, in the esteem of those who had been best bred. His natural parts were very great, his wit flowing in all the parts of conversation; the superstructure of learning not raised to a considerable height: but having passed some years in Cambridge, and then in France, and conversing always with learned men, his expressions were ever proper and significant, and gave great lustre to his discourse upon any argument ; so that he was thought by those who were not intimate with him, to have been much better acquainted .with books than he was. He had all those qualities which in youth raise men to the reputation of being fine gentlemen ; such a pleasantness and gaiety of humour, such a sweetness and gentleness of nature, and such a civility and delightfulness in conversation, that no man, in the court or out of it, appeared a more accomplished person: all these extraordinary qualifications being supported by as extraordinary a clearness of courage and fearlessness of spirit, of which he gave too often manifestation. Some unhappy suits in law, and waste of his fortune in those suits, made some impression on his mind; which, being improved by domestic afflictions, and those indulgences to himself which naturally attend those afflictions, rendered his age less reverenced than his youth had been, and gave his best friends cause to have wished that he had not lived so long."—
Clarendons Life, vol. i. p. 36, ed. Oxford, 18a7.
9 Cokayne's Poems, 8vo, 1658. "On the death of my dear cousin germane Mrs Olive Cotton, who deceased at Beresford the 38th year of her age, and lyes buried at Bently by Ashhourne."—He also wrote verses "To my cousin german Mrs Olive Cotton," p. 138; and " Of my staying supper with my cousin Mrs Olive Cotton," p. 139; and the following
EI'ITArh ON mY DEAR COUSIN GERmAN mRS OLIVE COTTON.
Passenger, stay, and notice take of her
Charles Cotton, the only child1 of Mr Cotton by Olive Stanhope, was horn at Beresford on the a8th of April 163o. No ♦' particulars are preserved respecting the place of his education; but he is supposed to have become a member of the University of ^Cambridge sometime ahout the year 1649, though that fact can only be reconciled with his having been a pupil of Mr Ralph Rawson, Fellow of Brazen Nose College, Oxford, by supposing that Rawson removed to Cambridge on being ejected from his fellowship by the Parliamentary visitors in 1648.2 His affection for his tutor is strongly expressed in the translation of an ode of Jobannes Secundus ;3 and his cousin Sir Aston Cokayne likewise showed his esteem for him in a similar manner; but some verses by Cokayne render it doubtful whether Rawson ever removed from Oxford to Cambridge.4 If, however, Cotton was educated at either of the Universities, he did not take his degree, as his name is not mentioned by Anthony Wood among the writers of Oxford; nor does it occur in the manuscript list of graduates of Cambridge in the British Museum,5 That he possessed considerable classical
She was too good to live, and young to die.
Here, what was mortal of her turns to dust,
1 In the parish register of St Dunstan's in the West the following entry occurs: '' 1653, Sept. 6, Persis, daughter of Charles Cotton, was baptized ;" but as the younger Cotton was then unmarried, and his father aged and a widower, it is not likely that either of them was the person alluded to.
! Athen. Oxon. ed. Bliss, vol. iv. p. 635.
8 Poems on Several Occasions written by Charles Cotton, Esq., 8vo, 1689. "An Ode of Jobannes Secundus translated. To my dear Tutor, Mr Ralph Rawson," p. 547. Rawson acknowledged his kindness in some verses addressed "To my dear and honoured patron, Mr Charles Cotton, Ode, occasioned by his translation of an ode of Jobannes Secundus directed to me, and inserted amongst his other Poems," a copy of which occurs in a manuscript containing the greater part of Cotton's Poems, some, if not all, of which are apparently in his own handwrinng.
* Cokayne's Poems, p. so7. "To Mr Ralph Rawson. lately Fellow of Brazen Nose College." It commences :—
"Though I of Cambridge was, and far ahove
and thus concludes :—
"I far ahove
Had Rawson removed to Cambridge, some allusion would probably have been made to the circumstance in these verses, which were evidently written after he was ejected from his fellowship at Oxford.
s Additional MSS. in the British Museum, No. 5885. Cole, however, mentions Cotton among the writers who belonged to that University, in his manuscript collections tor an Athenae Cantabrigiensis in the Additional MS. 5865, f. 47, in the British Museum.
attainments, and united with them an extensive knowledge of modern languages, particularly of French and Italian,6 together with the usual accomplishments of the age, is however unquestionable. It does not appear that he was intended for any profession,7 and the early part of his life seems to have been passed in the society of the wits and other literary men of his time. He was himself ardently attached to literature ; but except a few poems, he wrote nothing which was published until after the Restoration. < Before that period the little which is known of his pursuits has been gleaned from the works of one or two of his friends, and from his own verses; but he probably went abroad before he attained his twenty-fourth year, as he certainly had travelled in France and Italy.
That Cotton wrote many of the poems which were for the first time collected and published after his decease, at an early period of his life,8 is not only proved by internal evidence, but it is placed beyond dispute, by the subjoined verses addressed to him by Sir Aston Cokayne :—
"TO MY MOST hONOURED COUSIN MR CHARLES COTTON THK
Bear back, you crowd of wits, that have so long
8 It appears that Cotton's library contained some of the best Italian authors, as Cokayne says in one of his effusions, p. a31,
"D'Avila, Bentivoglio, Guicciardine,
7 Cotton says in his " Voyage to Ireland : " " Indeed I had a small smattering of Law," but his legal knowledge appears to have been gained from the performance of the duties of a Justice of the Peace, as he adds :—
"Which I lately had got more hy Practice than readings
8 Among the poems attributed to the younger Cotton are an Elegy upon Henry Lord Hastings, only son of Ferdinand Earl of Huntingdon, who died in June 1649, which was printed in Brome's " Lachrymae Musarum, the Tears of the Muses, expressed in elegies written by divers persons of nolnlity and worth " upon that young nobleman's death, 8vo, 165o, when Cotton w.ns only twenty years of age ; and a copv of verses prefixed to Edmund Prestwich's Translation of the Hippolitus of Seneca in 1651.
Beware, you poets, that (at distance) you
Cokayne also celebrated Cotton's merits on several other occasions,9 but only two of those effusions are deserving of notice, the one for the pithiness of the compliment paid to him, and the other because his father is mentioned :—
HTO mY hONOURED COUSIN mR ChARLES COTTON, JUNIOR.
Donne, Suckling, Randolph, Drayton, Massinger,
Jonson, Chapman, and Holland I have seen,
T What needs this catalogue? Th' are dead and gone,
I And to me you are all of them in one."
"TO mY COUSIN MR ChARLES COTTON ThE YOUNGER.
In how few years have you rais'd up an high
Colonel Lovelace, who addressed an ode1 to Cotton's father, and wrote an elegy on his aunt, Cassandra, inscribed "The Triumphs of Philamore and Amoret, to the noblest of our youth and best of friends, Charles Cotton, Esquire, being at Beresford, at his house in Staffordshire, from London."2 In these verses he laments Cotton's absence, and thus affectionately anticipates his return:—
"But all our clouds shall be o'erblown when thee
The most remarkable lines are, however, the following, because they seem to corrohorate Aubrey's statement that Cotton had
relieved Lovelace in his distress : 3—
"What fate was mine when in my obscure cave
1 Lucasta. edit. 1649. "The Grasshopper, To my noble friend, Mr Charles Cotton." P- 34
a Lucasta. Posthume Poems of Richard Lovelace, Esq., 8vo, 1659.
8 "Lovelace died in 1658, in a mean lodging in Gunpowder Alley, near Shoe Lane. Aubrey's statement is, that 'George Petty, haberdasher in Fleet Street, carried twenty
shillings to him every Monday morning frnm Sir Many, and Charles Cotton, Esq.,
for months, and was never repaid.'" Athen. Oxon. ed. Bliss, vol. iii. pp. 46s, 463.