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of the subject of which he treats. In the Address to the Reader he says it “was only written for the private satisfaction of a very worthy gentleman, who is exceedingly curious in the choice of his fruits, and has great judgment in planting ;” but as that person had expressed a strong opinion of its utility, Cotton thought proper to publish it. The following passage, in which he recommends that fruit-trees should be imported from France, is remarkable :." Seeing that (for aught I ever heard) fruit-trees are no contraband commodity betwixt the nations, I cannot conceive but that it is worth the curiosity, pains, and cost, to furnish ourselves from thence with those of the greatest excellency, both for beauty and flavour; nor why we should not as well better ourselves by them this way, as altogether be debauched by their effeminate manners, luxurious kickshaws, and fantastic fashions, by which we are already sufficiently Frenchified, and more than in the opinion of the wiser sort of men, is consistent either with the constitution, or indeed the honour of the English nation.”
Cotton had the misfortune to lose his wife about the year 1670. He had by her three sons, Beresford, Wingfield,' and Charles Cotton, and five daughters, Olive, Katherine, Isabella, Jane, and Mary. Of these children, Charles, Wingfield, Isabella, Jane, and Mary were born after 1664 ; but only five of them were living in 1675. It is uncertain how long he continued a widower ; but probably only a short time, as before 1675 he had married Mary, the eldest daughter of Sir William Russell, of Strensham, in Worcestershire, Bart.; and widow of Wingfield, fifth Baron Cromwell,
and second Earl of Ardglass, who died in 1668. That lady is + said to have had a jointure of £1500 per annum ; but this increase
to his income did not prevent the necessity of his again applying to Parliament in the 27th Car. II. 1675, for authority to sell part of his estates, for the payment of his debts; and an Act was passed in that year which affords much information about his affairs. After reciting the settlement of his estates in July 1656, which has been already mentioned, the Act states that his wife Isabella was then dead ; that she had left one son and four daughters, who were prevented by their father's mortgages, and other incumbrances, from enjoying the advantages to which they were entitled under that settlement; and that he therefore was willing to divest himself of his title to his property for the payment of his debts, which together with £2000 to be raised for his daughters' portions, amounted to about £8000. It was therefore enacted that all his lands should be vested in trustees, who should allow him to retain Beresford Hall, and to receive the sum of £40 per annum, during his own life and the life of the Right Honourable Dame Mary Countess-Dowager of Ardglass, and after her decease the sum of £60 yearly, above the said annuity of £40, so long as he might live; that as much land should be sold as would pay his debts, and raise £2000 for his daughters' portions ; and that the rest of his estates should be conveyed to his only son, Beresford Cotton, and the heirs of his body, with remainder to the heirs of his father.7
$ This son was probably so called after Wingfield Cromwell, Earl of Ardglass, whose widow Cotton married. As Sir Aston Cokayne calls the Earl of Ardglass "his noble kinsman," that nobleman must have been also distantly related to Cotton.
6 Vide page clxxi. antea,
The next occasion on which a notice of Cotton has been found was in February 1676, when Walton requested him to fulfil his promise of writing a Treatise on Fly-Fishing for a second part of the “ Complete Angler.” As some remarks on that production will be found in the Memoir of Walton, it is not necessary to make many observations upon it here. It was written in ten days; and in imitation of the plan of the “ Complete Angler," the instructions are conveyed in a dialogue between Cotton, who is the Piscator of the piece, and a Traveller. The latter individual is supposed to be overtaken by Cotton near Brailsford, a small village about five miles from Ashbourn, on the road from Derby. He informs Cotton that he came from Essex, and was going into Lancashire on some business for a near relation; and the conversation happening to turn on fish and fishing, they discover that they were both friends of Izaak Walton, and that the traveller is the person who is described in the " Complete Angler” under the name of Venator. This leads to an immediate intimacy between them, and Cotton insists upon his accompanying him to Beresford, where he promises to give him practical lessons in catching trout. On arriving at his house he heartily welcomes him; and after supper some ale and pipes are ordered by the host, who assures his guest that his tobacco is the best he could procure in London, which is deserving of notice, as proof that Cotton's denouncement of that “pernicious and stinking weed," in one of his poems,& could scarcely have been sincere, unless his taste had changed after it was written. They proceeded next morning to their sport, which is continued for two days, during which time Cotton instructs him
* Private Act, 27 Car. II. No. 4.
8 Cotton's Poems, p. 514.
in fly-fishing, making flies, and other arcana of the art; and they separate, Viator having first assured him, that if he lives until the following May twelvemonth, he will pay him another visit, “either with my master Walton or without him ; and in the meantime shall acquaint him how much you have made of me for his sake; and I hope he loves me well enough to thank you for it."
This allusion to fly-fishing affords an opportunity of printing, for the first time, a very interesting letter," from Henry Vernon, Esq., of Congerton, in Cheshire, dated in June 1637, apparently to Sir Edward Vernon, of Sudbury, the immediate ancestor of the present Lord Vernon, which cannot fail to please all true brothers of the Angle, as it is written in the spirit which animated the great patriarch of their art, with whom it is probable that the writer was acquainted,
“Good UNCLE AND FELLOW-Fisher,--My kind and true respects remembred unto you, &c. I have gott soe many sonnes that I have troubled most of my old friends in Com : Cest: to bee godfathers, whereby I am enforced to fie to that port where I first arrived. Your readinesse in doeing mee the favour to bee a godfather to my child I doubt not of, yett I earnestly desier it; and I entreate you to remember to bringe your tackling for two penie trouts (for better wee have none) and your furniture for fishing, to bee joviall with mee a weeke at the least who soever comes and goes. For your entertainement you shall have what you can catch, and if you will stay I will goe with you to Sudburie, then I will tire Dove bridge and devoure all the fish in Eaton foards, in which having cooled our selves, the houndes will call us to the hills where wee will use a contrarie violence, and moderate our courses in mingling extremities. Thus having passed the day the time growes short, yett when you come to Congerton which must bee before Thursday, you may there find readie at commaund your loving kinsman and true Graylinge hunter,
“HEN. VERNON. “My wife remembers her kind respects unto you. “Concerton, June 25, 1637."
In 1681 Cotton published “ The Wonders of the Peak," a poem descriptive of Chatsworth, and of the wild and dreary scenery in the vicinity of the Peak, in Derbyshire. He is said to have written this piece, which in his dedication of it to the Countess of Devonshire he calls an “Essay,” in imitation of Hobbes' “De Mirabilibus Pecci.” Though the merits of the poem are not striking, it was reprinted in 1683; a fourth edition appeared in 1699; and it was included in the collection of his works in 1715. The
9 The original is preserved among the valuable family papers of Lord Vernon, who has obligingly contributed it to this work.
last work which was published in his lifetime was a translation of Montaigne's Essays, which was printed in three volumes in 1685, and which is considered to be his most important contribution to English literature ; for, unlike translations in general, it is said rather to excel than be inferior to the original. He dedicated his labours to George Savile, Marquess of Halifax, then Lord Privy Seal, to whom he says he had become slightly known some years before. The Marquess acknowledged the compliment in the following letter to Cotton, which from so excellent a judge of literature, must have been highly gratifying to him :
“This for CHARLES Cotton, Esq., at his house at Beresford, to be left at Ashburne, in Derbyshire.
“Sir,- I have too long delayed my thanks to you for giving me such an obliging evidence of your remembrance. That alone would have been a welcome present, but when joined with the book in the world I am the best entertained with, it raiseth a strong desire in me to be better known, where I am sure to be so much pleased. I have 'till now thought wit could not be translated, and do still retain so much of that opinion, that I believe it impossible, except by one whose genius cometh up to that of the author. You have the original strength of his thought, that it almost tempts a man to believe the transmigration of souls, and that his being used to hills, is come into the moorlands, to reward us here in England, for doing him more right than his country will afford him. He hath' by your means mended his first edition.
“To transplant and make him ours, is not only a valuable acquisition to us, but a just censure of the critical impertinence of those French scribblers, who have taken pains to make little cavils and exceptions to lessen the reputation of this great man, whom nature hath made too big to confine him to the exactness of a studied stile. He let his mind have its full flight and sheweth, by a generous kind of negligence, that he did not write - for praise, but to give the world a true picture of himself and of mankind.
He scorned affected periods, or to please the mistaken reader with an - empty chime of words. He hath no affection to set himself out, and dependeth wholly upon the natural force of what is his own, and the excellent application of what he borroweth.
" You see, Sir, I have kindness enough for Monsieur de Montaigne to be your rival; but nobody can now pretend to be in equal competition with you. I do willingly yield it is no small matter for a man to do to a more prosperous lover; and if you will repay this piece of justice with another, pray believe, that he who can translate such an author without doing him wrong, must not only make me glad, but proud of being his very humble servant,
" He says, “The errors of the press, I must in part take upon myself, living at so remote a distance from it, and supplying it with a slubbered copy from an illiterate amanuensis."
Lord Halifax's letter, that Cotton was living at Beresford so lately as 1684 or 1685, though it is said that he surrendered that estate to Joseph Woodhouse, of Wollescote, in Derbyshire, gentleman, on the 26th March 1681, who sold it in the same year to John Beresford, Esq., of Newton Grange, in that county. It is also to be observed that Dr Plot, in his Natural History of Staffordshire, which was licensed to be printed in April 1686, repeatedly mentions his “ worthy, learned, and most worthy friend, the worshipful Charles Cotton, of Beresford, Esquire ;"3 to whom he inscribed one of the plates in that work " in memory of his favours," and he speaks of " his pleasant mansion at Beresford.” 4.
After the publication of the translation of Montaigne's Essays, Cotton employed himself in translating the Memoirs of the Sieur de Pontis, and he was engaged on that work at the time of his death, which event is said to have occurred on the 13th of February 1687. It is also stated that he was buried at St Martin's Church,5 but no entry of the fact occurs in the Register of St Martin's-in-the-Fields, or of St Martin's, Ludgate. That he died in or before that year is however certain, as on the 12th of September 1687 letters of administration of the effects of Charles Cotton, late of Beresford, in the county of Stafford, deceased, within the parish of St James, Westminster, were granted to “ Elizabeth Bludworth, widow, his principal creditrix, the Honorable Mary Countess-Dowager of Ardglass, his widow, Beresford Cotton, Esq., Olive Cotton, Katherine Cotton, Jane Cotton, and Mary Cotton, his natural and lawful children, first renouncing."
As he died of a fever, his death was probably sudden; and it is not known whether his last hours were cheered by the presence of his family, or in what condition as to personal comforts he expired. Soon after his decease, a hasty and imperfect edition of his poems was published, without a preface, or a single word respecting the author. Of that volume the following information occurs in the publisher's preface to Cotton's translation of the Memoirs of the Sieur de Pontis ; whence it seems that he had prepared an edition of his poems for the press, and that the
2“Plore's MS. Collections for a History of Staffordshire, late in the possession of William Hamper, Esq.”
3 Pp. 48, 89, 115.
4 Pp. 165, 276, 396. 5 “18 February 1687, Charles Cotton, died in London on Sunday last, of a feaver, and buried at St Martin's Church."-MS. Diary.
6 The MS. copy of some of Cotton's poems which has been before mentioned (p. clxv.) contains the following title :
Oliantis Opera. Under which is written :