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other pieces.” It is most likely that many of his poems were written about this period; and it is nearly certain that the one in which he gives the fullest and most interesting account of himself, namely, “ A Voyage to Ireland in Burlesque,” was composed about the year 1670 or 1671, because he says he was then forty years old. For this reason it is desirable to insert several extracts from it, the length of which is justified by the humorous descriptions which they contain of his history, situation, and feelings. Cotton had, it appears, before that time entered the army, in which he then held a captain's commission; and being sent to Ireland, he describes his journey from Beresford to the place of embarkation in Wales.

His narrative thus commences :

“ The lives of frail men are compar'd by the sages,

Or unto short journeys, or pilgrimages,
As men to their inns do come sooner or later,
That is, to their ends, to be plain in my matter;
From whence, when one dead is, it currently follows,
He has run his race, though his goal be the gallows;
And this 'tis, I fancy, sets folks so a-madding,
And makes men and women so eager of gadding;
Truth is, in my youth I was one of those people
Would have gone a great way to have seen a high steeple,
And though I was bred 'mong the wonder o'th' Peak,
Would have thrown away money, and ventur'd my neck
To have seen a great hill, a rock, or a cave,
And thought there was nothing so pleasant and brave;
But at forty years old you may, if you please,
Think me wiser than run such errands as these;
Or, had the same humour still ran in my toes,
A voyage to Ireland, I ne'er should have chose:
But to tell you the truth on't, indeed it was neither
Improvement nor pleasure for which I went thither:
I know then you'll presently ask me, for what?
Why, faith, it was that makes the old woman trot;
And therefore I think I'm not much to be blam'd
If I went to the place whereof Nick was asham'd."

Among his regrets at taking leave of his home, his favourite pursuit of Angling is not forgotten :

“ And now farewell, Dove, where I've caught such brave dishes
Or over-grown, golden, and silver-scal'd fishes :
Thy trout and thy grayling may now feed securely,
I've left none behind me can take 'em so surely ;
Feed on, then, and breed on, until the next year,
But if I return I expect my arrear."

Of the ale which he drank at Holmes-Chapel, he observes,

“I speak it with tears,
Though I have been a toss-pot these twenty good years,
And have drank so much liquior has made me a debtor,
In iny days, that I know of, I never drank better."

7 Vide Cutton's Poems, ed. 1689, pp. 86, 128, 129.

At Chester he was taken ill, but he speedily recovered; and after he had

“Comb’d out and powder'd my locks that were grizzle,” he went to the Cathedral, and when the service was ended, he fell into the rear of the procession of the mayor and aldermen ;

“For why, 'tis much safer appearing, no doubt,

In authority's tail, than the head of a rout.
In this rev'rend order we marched from prayer,
The mace before me borne as well as the Mayor,
Who looking behind him, and seeing inost plain
A glorious gold belt in the rear of his train,
Made such a low congé, forgetting his place,
I was never so honour'd before in my days;
But then off went my scalp-case, and down went my fist,
Till the pavement, too hard, by my knuckles was kiss'd,
By which, though thick-skull'd, he must understand this,
That I was a most humble servant of his;
Which also so wonderful kindly he took
(As I well perceiv'd both b' his gesture and leok),
That to have me dogg'd home, he straightway appointed,
Resolving, it seems, to be better acquainted ;
I was scarce in my quarters, and set down on crupper,
But this man was there too, to invite me to supper;
I start up, and after most respective fashion
Gave his worship much thanks for his kind invitation,
But begg'd his excuse, for my stomach was small,
And I never did cat any supper at all ;
But that after supper I would kiss his hands,
And would come to receive his worship's coinmands."

The mayor however insisted upon having his company at supper : he obeyed, and

"Supper being ended, and things away taken,
Master Mayor's curiosity 'gan to awaken;
Wherefore making me draw something nearer his chair,
He will'd and requir'd me there to declare
My country, my birth, my estate, and my parts,
And whether I was not a master of arts;
And eke what the bus'ness was had brought me thither,
With what I was going about now, and whither?
Giving me caution, no lie should escape me,
For if I should trip, he should certainly trap me."

His answer to these inquiries contains an amusing account of himself :

" I answer'd, my country was fam'd Staffordshire;

That in deeds, bills, and bonds, I was ever writ Squire ;
That of land I had both sorts, some good and some cvil,
But that a great part on't was pawn'd to the devil;
That as for iny parts, they were such as he saw;
That indeed I had a small smatt'ring of law,
Which I lately had got more by practice than reading,
By sitting o'th' bench, whilst others were pleading;
But that arms I had ever more studied than arts,
And was now to a Captain rais'd by my deserts ;
That the business which led me through Palatine ground
Into Ireland was, whither now I was bound.”

It may be inferred from Cotton's description of a storm which he inscribed to a nobleman whose name is not mentioned,8 that he was nearly shipwrecked in his passage to Ireland.

Allusions to himself also occur in his “ Epistle to Sir Clifford Clifton, then sitting in Parliament," and in several other of his pieces. He tells Clifton

“That you may guess at the party that writes t'ee,
And not grope in the dark, I'll hold up these lights t'ee.

For his stature, he's but a contemptible male,
And grown something swab with drinking good ale ;
His locks, than your brown, a little thought brighter,
Which grey hairs make every year whiter and whiter :
His visage, which all the rest mainly disgraces,
Is warp't, or by age, or cutting of faces.
So that, whether 'twere made so, or whether 'twere marı'd,
In good sooth, he's a very unpromising bard:
His legs, which creep out of two old-fashion'd knapsacks,
Are neither two mill-posts, nor yet are they trap-sticks :
They bear him, when sober, bestir 'em and spare not,
And who the devil can stand when they are not?

Thus much for his person, now for his condition,
That's sick enough full to require a physician :
He always wants money, which makes him want ease,
And he's always besieg'd, tho' himself of the peace,
By an army of duns, who batter with scandals,
And are foemen more fierce than the Goths or the Vandals.
But when he does sally, as sometimes he does,
Then hey for Bess Juckson, and a fig for his foes:
He's good fellow enough to do every one right,
And never was first that ask'd, what time of night?
His delight is to toss the cann merrily round,
And loves to be wet, but hates to be drown'd:
He fain would be just, but sometimes he cannot,
Which gives him the trouble that other men have not.
He honours his friend, but he wants means to show it,
And loves to be rhyming, but is the worst poet.
Yet among all these vices, to give him his due,
He has the virtue to be a true lover of you.
But how much he loves you, he says you may guess it,

Since nor prose, nor yet metre, he swears can express it." In 1670 he published a new edition of his “ Virgil Travestie," which contained the first and fourth books. To this work he is principally indebted for his literary fame ; for such is the caprice of the public, that whilst his other, and far more important writings

have been comparatively neglected, this absurd burlesque has gone + through no less than fifteen editions. Upon a work which is so well known it is unnecessary to make any critical remarks ; and though no person would wish the example of one of Cotton's biographers to be followed, by introducing a long dissertation on

* Poems, p. 199. 9 Cotton did not affix his name to this work, which was thus advertised by Henry Brome in 1668, “ Scarronides, or Virgil Travestie, both part, by a person of honor, in 8vo."

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that kind of composition, there are some facts connected with that poem which must be stated. The chief objection which has been urged against it is that it is disfigured by indecent and vulgar expressions; and though it is by no means intended to defend them, still much allowance ought to be made for the taste of the age in which Cotton lived, which produced Hudibras, and several other works of a similar nature. But it is remarkable that the early editions of “Virgil Travestie” are free from many of the grosser allusions that occur in the later impressions; and as Cotton's motive for introducing them into the subsequent editions is not known, it is doubtful whether the appetite of the public or his own feelings had become more depraved, or whether they were the suggestions of some of his companions. The deterioration may however have arisen from the desire of his bookseller to give greater piquancy to the later editions, for the sake of the sale ; -but as they were made in the author's lifetime, that circumstance would not excuse him.

It has been said that some lines in “ Virgil Travestie” gave so much offence to a female relation, whose name he had used in allusion to her ruff, that she changed her intention of leaving him her fortune, amounting to between four or five hundred pounds per annum. This anecdote has however been doubted, because he had neither an aunt nor grandmother whose name was Cokayne ;? and another 3 of his biographers even denies that such an offensive passage can be found in any of his writings. The lines in question are thus printed in all the early editions :

And then there is a fair great ruff,
Made of a pure and costly stuff,
To wear about her Highness neck,
Like Mrs Cockaynes in the Peak." 4

The tradition on the subject is, that the lady alluded to was Cotton's cousin, Miss Lucy Cokayne, youngest daughter of Thomas Cokayne, of Ashbourn Hall, in Derbyshire, and sister of Sir Aston Cokayne ; that she was deformed, and to conceal the defect wore a remarkably large ruff; and that when Cotton was remonstrated with, and requested to substitute some other lines, he replied, “I will not spoil my joke for any humpbacked b— in Christendom.”5

2 Biographia Britannica.

Sir John Hawkins. 4 Altered in the collected edition of Cotton's works in 1715, to " Like Miss Cockayne's in the Peak," probably for the sake of the metre, which is, however, perfectly correct as the line was originally written, if “Mrs," when printed at length, stood as it ought to do, “Mistress," which was then the usual appellation of unmarried women.

5 From the iníormation of the late William Bateman, Esq. of Middleton, near Bake

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Part of this story is, however, rendered extremely doubtful by the following facts. The lady 6 was a younger child of a large family, and therefore was not likely to have had much fortune at her own disposal : moreover, she appears to have died before Cotton was twenty years of age, and long before “Virgil Travestie” was published ; and whilst he was only distantly related to her, she had a brother, several sisters, and many nephews and nieces,

In the same year, 1670, Cotton published a translation of Gerard's History of the Life of the Duke of Espernon, in a folio volume, which he dedicated to Dr Gilbert Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury. His motive for inscribing it to that prelate he thus explained in his letter to the Archbishop, dated at Beresford on the 30th of October 1669:

“I have been prompted thereunto by an honest vanity I have, the world should take notice, that how private soever my life has been, I have not altogether conversed with obscurity ; but that I have had the honour to be sometime known unto, and to have been favoured by one of the greatest Prelates, and the best men upon earth.”

He also said that the work “has so the much better title to your acceptance, as it is the fruit of the most innocent part of my time; and offered with a heart as grateful for the many favours I have received from your Grace's bounty, and as full of honour and reverence for your person and dignity, as any man who in a better and more studied stile, may take the boldness to subscribe himself," &c.

Some extracts from the preface will be read with interest because they afford information about Cotton himself :

“Having about three years since, and in the vacancy of a country lise, taken this volume in hand, before I had gone through the first three books, I was called away first by employment, and after dismissed from that, taken off by so long and so uncomfortable a sickness, that I found myself utterly unfit for any undertaking of this, or any other kind; and consequently, had almost given over all thoughts of proceeding in a work,

well. That gentleman added, “This tradition has been handed down in a family for four generations from the great-grandfather, John Marsh, who was a servant in the Cotton family, and a great favourite of the poet's, to John Marsh, his great-grandson, who has often related it to me as being certainly what happened.”

6 Lucy Cokayne was the fifth daughter of Thomas Cokayne. She was born shortly after 1612, and died unmarried at the age of thirty-four, probably about 1647, and certainly before 1658. See an epitaph by Sir Aston Cokayne on his dear sister Mrs Lettice Armstrong, “who deceased about the 43d of her age, and of Mrs Lucy Cokayne, who died about the 34th of hers, and lye both buried at Ashborn." Cokayne's Poems, p. 214.

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