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Beware, you poets, that (at distance) you
The reverence afford him that is due
Unto his mighty merit, and not dare
Your puny threads with his lines to compare;

Than was Arachne's fate or Midas' curse,
Posterity inflicts upon your fames,
For vent'ring to approach too near his flames,
Whose all-commanding muse disdains to be
Equall'd by any, in all poesy.
As the presumptuous son of Clymene,
The sun's command import un'd for a day
'Of his unwilling father, and for so
Rash an attempt, fell headlong into Po.
So you shall fall or worse; not leave so much
As empty names to show there once were such.
The Greek and Latin language he commaiids.
So all that then was writ in both these lands;
The French and the Italian he hath gain'd,
And all the wit that in them is contain'd.
So, if he pleases to translate a piece
From France or Italy, old Rome or Greece,
The understanding reader soon will find,
It is the best of any of that kind;
But when he lets his own rare fancy loose,
There is no flight so noble as his muse.
Treats he of war? Bellona doth advance.
And leads his march with her refulgent laticc,
Sinss he of love? Cupid about him lurks,'
And Venus in her chariot draws his works.
Whate'er his subject be, he'll make it fit
To live hereafter emperor of wit.
He is the Muses' darling, all the nine
Phoebus disclaim, and term him more divine.
The wondrous Tasso, that so long hath borne
The sacred laurel, shall remain forlorn.
. Alonso de Ercilla, that in strong
And mighty lines hath Araucana sung,
And Sallust, that the ancient Hebrew story
Hath poetiz'd, submit unto your glory.
So the chief swans of Tagus, Arne, and Seine,
Must yield to Thames, and veil unto your strain-
Hail, generous magazine of wit, you bright
Planet of learning, dissipate the night
Of dulness, wherein us this age involves,
And (from our ignorance) redeem our souls.
A word at parting, Sir, I could not choose
Thus to congratulate your happy muse;
And (though 1 vilify your worth) my zeal
(And so in mercy think) intended well.
The world will find your lines are great and strong,
The nihil ultra of the English tongue."

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 :—


Donne, Suckling, Randolph, Drayton, Massinger,
Habington, Sandys, May, my acquaintance were;

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Jonson, Chapman, and Holland I have seen.
And with them too should have acquainted been.
What needs this catalogue? Th' are dead and gone,
And to mc you are all of them in one."


In how few years have you rais'd up an high
Column of learning by your industry,
More glorious than those pyramids that old
Can opus view'd, or Cair doth yet behold!
Your noble father (that for able parts
Hath won an high opinion in all hearts)
May like the elder Scaligcr look down
With admiration on his worthy son.
Proceed, fair plant of excellencies, and grow
So high to shadow alt that are below."

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
In our horizon, bright, once more we see;
When thy dear presence shall our souls new dre5s;
And spring an universal cheerfulness.
When we shall be o'erwhelm'd in joy, like they
That change their night for a vast half-year s day.
Then shall the wretched few that do repine
See and recant their blasphemies in wine;
Then shall they grieve that thought I've sung too freo v
High and aloud of thy true worth and Thee:
And their foul heresies and lips submit
To th' all-forgiving breath of Amoret;
And me alone their anger's object call,
That from my height so miserably did fall;
And cry out my invention thin and poor,
Who have said nought, since I could say no more.'*

The most remarkable lines are, however, the following, because they seem to corroborate Aubrey's statement that Cotton had relieved Lovelace in his distress : 3

"What fate was mine when in my obscure cave
Shut np almost close prisoner in a grave
Your beams could reach me through this vault of night,
And canton the dark dungeon with light I
Whence me, as gen'rous Spahy's, you unbound.
Whilst I know myself both free and crown'd."

1 Lucasta. edit. 1649. "The Grasshopper, To my noble friend, Mr Charles Cotton." P. 34

2 Lucasta. Posthume Poems of Richard Lovelace, Esq., 8vo, 1659.

* "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 from Sir Many, and Charles Cotton. Esq .

for months, and was never repaid.'" Athen. Oxon. ed. Bliss, vol. hi. pp. 462, 463.

Cotton4 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 j6 and in his severe castigation of Waller for writing a panegyric on the Protector about the year 1654 :—


From whence, vile Poet, didst thou glean the wit.

And words fur such a vitious poem fit?

Where couldst thou paper find was not too white.

Or ink that could be black enough to write?

What servile devil tempted thee to be

A flatterer of thine own slavery?

To kiss ihy bondage and extol the deed.

At once that made thy prince, and country bleed?

I wonder much thy false heart did not dread.

And shame to write what all men blush to read;

Thus with a base ingratitude to rear

Tiophies unto thy master's murtherer?

Who call'd the coward (—) much mistook
The characters of thy pedantic look;

* See Cotton's Poems, p. 481.

4 For example, in his Voyage to Ireland :—

"We enterM the port,
Where another King's head invited me down,
For indeed I have ever bten true to the Crown."—P. 198.

Iu his Contestation, 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.

la his Ode to Melancholy :—

"An infamous Usurper's come,
Whose name is sounding in mine ear
Like that, methinks, of Oliver."

"And yet, methinks, it cannot be
That he
Should be crept into me.
My skin could ne'er contain sure so much evil,
Nor any place but hell can hold so great a Devil."—Pp. 264, 265.

The Chorus to one of his Bacchanalian songs is :—

"Then let us revel, quaff, and sing,
Health and his sceptre to the King."—P. 448.

See also his Epode to Alexander Bromc on the King's return, p. 511, and several other ta'Unces throughout his Poems. 6 Cotton's Poems, p. 4:1.

Thou hast at once abused thyself and us;
He's stout that dares flatter a tyranne thus.

Put up thy pen and ink, muzzle thy muse*
Adulterate nag fit for a common stews,
No good man's library ; writ thou ha -r
Treason in rhyme has all thy works defaced:
Such is thy fault, that when I think to find
A punishment of the severest kind,
For thy offence, my malice cannot name
A greater; than, once to commit the same.

Where was thy reason then, when thou began
To write against the sense of God and man?
Within thy guilty breast despair took place.
Thou wouldst despairing die in spite of grace.
At once thou art judge, and malefactor shown,
Each sentence in thy poem is thine own.

Then, what thou hast pronounced go execute,
Hang up thyself, and say, I bid thee do it.
Fear not thy memory, that cannot die.
This panegyric is thy elegv,
Which shall be when, or wheresoever read,
A living poem to upbraid thee dead."

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,

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,7 he amused himself in gardening and planting. Upon the latter subject, he not only afterwards wrote a treatise,8 but proved that his knowledge was practical, by planting his own grounds near Beresford Hall;9 and

7 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 matt can be in thirty years' experience, for so long I have been a dabbler in that art '—P. 406.

* Vide postea.

9 ''Viator. 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

tr. // is so."—Cotton's part cf " The Complete Angler," p. 420.

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the taste with which he improved that place, caused him to be complimented by his constant eulogist, Sir Aston Cokayne.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.1 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 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.4 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 Basford house you have adorned much, And Bently hopes it shortly shall be such; Think on't; and set but Bently in repair, To both those Basfords you will show y' are heir.'* 1 Vide the accompanying pedigree.

3 Stat. 27 Car. If. 1675.

4 Several of these addiesses are collected in one volume in the British Museum ; ami 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 271b, August 166a

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