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classical attainments and his knowledge of French and Italian, combined with the usual polite accomplishments of his time, appear to have been considerable; and he seems to have written poetry from his youth, though little of it was published till after the Restoration. He boasted two poets among his family connections-Colonel Richard Lovelace, a friend of his father's, and Sir Aston Cockayne, a cousin of his mother's. Lovelace, who had written an elegy on his aunt Cassandra Cotton, and had likewise addressed an ode on "The Grasshopper" to his father, later on 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.' Cotton is supposed to have befriended him in his poverty, and he wrote an elegy to his memory, which was printed at the end of Lucasta and Posthume Poems in 1659.
Sir Aston Cockayne, if but a very minor poet, had a pretty gift for flattering his friends. He seems from the first to have taken the praise of Cotton for his mission in life, and his poem, "To my most honoured cousin, Mr. Charles Cotton the Younger, upon his excellent Poems," is a by no means despicable piece of hyperbole. quote the greater part of it for its references to Cotton's beauty and accomplishments, but also for its own intrinsic curiosity :
To my Most Honoured Cousin, Mr. Charles Cotton, the
Bear back, you crowd of wits, that have so long
His picture, and you'll say that this is he;
Unto his mighty merit, and not dare
Treats he of war?
Bellona doth advance,
Sings he of love? Cupid about him lurks,
He is the Muses' darling, all the nine
And mighty lines hath Araucana sung,
So the chief swans of Tagus, Arne, and Seine,
The world will find your lines are great and strong,
Cotton's young manhood seems to have been spent like the manhood of other young men of his class and time; college, foreign
travel and the town, with a touch of such graver interests as angling, gardening and planting. (He wrote an admirable Planters' Manual in 1675.)
In 1656 he married his cousin Isabella, daughter of Sir Thomas Hutchinson, and in 1658 his father died.
On the Restoration he began his public career as author by a prose panegyric of the king, and in 1664 he published his Scarronides, or the First Book of Virgil Travestie, a burlesque, neither brighter nor duller than the average wit of his day, but which, however, enjoyed great popularity (going through no less than fourteen editions), possibly on account of its indecencies. In these, however, it cannot be said to have been singular in that liberal age.
From this time onwards, Cotton became a fairly busy literary man. He seems to have been driven to translating as a means of enlivening the " vacancy of a country life," of which he frequently complains, rather than from any profit it brought him. A list of his writings will be found at the end of this note.
In 1670 his wife died, leaving him with three sons and five daughters, and in 1675 we find him married again, his second wife being Mary, daughter of Sir William Russell, and widow of the Earl of Ardglass. Like his father before him, his life seems to have been much harassed by the narrowness of his means. occasions he found it necessary to petition Parliament to sanction the sale of portions of his estate, and there is a cave near where Beresford Hall stood, in which, according to local tradition, he used to hide from his creditors; a story generally discredited by his biographers, but somewhat borne out by this passage from a poem addressed to Alexander Brome, complaining of his country exile, with no
But such, as I still pray, I may not see,
And in the neighbouring rocks take sanctuary,
Another story represents him scribbling the following not very brilliant quatrain on the walls of a debtor's prison in London :
A prison is a place of cure
Cotton's friendship with Walton, as we have seen, probably dated from his boyhood, and had found poetical expression before, preparing a fifth edition of his pastoral, Walton had invited him to